what does ‘americana’ look like?

i am doing visual research on the subject ‘americana’ for a project i am working on and it has really saddened me.  the visuals that are tied with the word ‘americana’ are horrifying to me.  america and what it is known for seems to visually look like McDonald’s burgers.  super sized fries. coke. and mass amounts of junk food.  i even ran across an advert for a DONUT BURGER:

we really have become a fast food crack house of a country.  the red white and blue has been well associated with McDonald’s since the burger was 15 cents:

and it has only gotten worse.  i used the search term “americana” and here are just a few of the images that i ran across:

a picture of american health huh?  i think not.

and we wonder why we are in the midst of an obesity crisis.  some call it an epidemic.

we introduce this horrible food to our kids at such a young age.  McDonlad’s happy meals.  cotton candy.  gummy bears.  coke.  ice cream.  etc.  they become little addicts of junk food quickly.

i loved fast food as a kid.  as a teenager.  i craved it.  the sapidity of it all.   my taste buds coated with the salty fried goodness.  i wanted more. and more.  and more.  and more.  fast food is addictive.  fried fatty, salty food is addictive.  sugary sweets are addictive.  just like cocaine.  alcohol.  nicotine.  there is not much of a difference, in my opinion.  

some people don’t buy the idea that food is addictive.  that the term addiction should be linked only to  drugs and alcohol and that people who overeat are simply lacking self-control and self-will.  hmmmmm.  i disagree.  lets examine this further:

“What other term would you use for a woman who gets into her car at 11:30 at night and drives six miles to the 7-Eleven to get a chocolate bar, and does it every night? She’s gaining weight, she feels profoundly guilty afterward, and though she resolves to stop this behavior, she does it every night, night after night? That’s a food addiction.” – (pulled from webMD)

that sounds much like the actions of a drug addict.  replace the word chocolate with cocaine, vodka, or heroin.  addiction is addiction. and america is feeding it to us by the mouthful.  breeding addicts through inexpensive, fattening, processed, meat heavy, dairy heavy, salty, sugary, horrible excuses for food and beverage.

luckily i escaped food addiction in young adulthood.  i woke up to reality and realized the harm i was doing to myself.  i managed to stay away from fast food 90 percent of the time once i reached 25 years of age.

i got even smarter close to a year ago, at age 35, when i chose to become vegan.  today i am a compassionate, healthy, plant-based consumer.  and i couldn’t be happier with that decision…and i certainly feel much healthier ridding my body of americas fast food, meat and dairy based consumption.  i am a guilt free consumer today.  and the chances of me becoming obese, are much less being a vegan.  and i feel good, knowing no animal died in order for me to eat today.

i hope that america can move away from the iconic fast food symbolism that has been stamped upon us, and adopt a much more compassionate, healthy, guilt free visual for the red white and blue.

aren’t these much nicer visions of health:

i think so.  and i challenge you to give healthy and compassionate living a try.  only good will come of it.  and if you think being vegan lacks taste in the mouth, you are mistaken.  it is some of the best, most imaginative food i have ever had.  i will never go back to how i ate in my younger years.  i couldn’t possibly stomach it, for a number of reasons.  but for the purpose of this blog….try the change for your health, if nothing else.

 

 

 

 

i am enough.

i have a necklace that i wear everyday around my neck.  it reminds me that, the donna i am today, was yesterday, and will be tomorrow…is enough.  

getting sober is not always a ray of sunshine.   my eyes have been opened wide.  my heart has been exposed.  my feelings are in full force.  the reflection i see everyday can no longer be blackened by booze and drugs.  i have no choice but to really face donna, daily.  with that force of reality, i must accept myself and recognize, i am enough…just as i am.

do you have any idea how difficult that is to say…. for an addict like me?  i am a compare and despair kinda gal.  walking down the city streets, i look at the women trotting by.  no, not because i am a lesbian and am admiring their beauty.  i am staring at these women, comparing my outsides to their outsides.  i see thin and beauty in front of me, and i tell myself how i am not that.  i am too big.  not attractive enough.  getting old.  etc.  compare and despair…a phrase i learned in the rooms of AA.

i play the comparison game in other areas of life as well.  i am a photographer.  i look at photos all day for my day job.  and therefore, i begin to tell myself how amazing the photographers are that i am researching, and how un-amazing my work is.  compare and despair.

as difficult as it was for me to swallow the following concept prior to, and at the start of sobriety, i am able to grasp it now….these feelings and behaviors are all self-centered and ego based.  it still makes me cringe to say that.  why?  because overall i am an incredibly sensitive, kind-hearted, giving individual, who puts you way before me.  therefore i never thought i could be self-centered or have an overexposed ego.  but…this is not the truth, i now know.  comparing myself to you, and being so concerned about my appearance, is clearly me thinking about me and focussing on me.  damn ego.  

when this game of comparison occurs, i go into a very dark place.  a depression, if you will.  and it is not easy to get out of.  it’s comfortable.  it’s what i have known for so much of my life.  its false security.  it’s why i drank.  darkness was my friend, and still creeps in on occasion.  and it is up to me to crawl out of it.

now i have a little tool around my neck.  a gift from my cousin, who had no clue the impact this necklace would have on me.  i wear it everyday.  and when i begin to compare and despair…when i begin to tell myself i am not good enough… i look at the charms around my neck and remind myself…i am enough.

sobriety does not bring perfection.

but it brings the path to a new life, and a new love for life and for self.  and i am on that road now.

i consider it training.

and with everyday of training, my strength in sobriety, self-love, and self acceptance, gains the muscle needed to power down my ego, tame my self-hatred, and massage my self-love.

one day at a time.

i am enough.

 

 

it’s been 11 months since my last hangover…double-u-tee-eff!

today marks 11 months of sobriety for me.  seriously a miracle.  and i feel very lucky to be where i am today.  sober.  grateful.  and for the most part, happy to see the morning light when i awake.  wow.  times have changed.

i read  an article in the NY times this morning about the “hijacked brain” being used more and more as a description for addicts.  i related so much to that description.  think about it…when you envision being hijacked, what is it that you see…that you feel?  for me…similarly described in the article…i imagine a person, with a mask and a weapon, probably in all black, who forces control over a car, plane or train.  the hijacker may not be the one who drives the plane, car, or train, but with his/her violence, there is no doubt who has the power and control in the hostile situation.  and why do hijackers hijack?  one main reason would be because they need to escape, get away, or use the vehicle as a weapon in a far greater scheme.  hijacking is only geared towards the needs of the hijacker.  innocent people are torn away from their normal everyday lives, by the agitation and forced intrusion of the hijacker. hmmmm…sounds so very familiar!

let’s examine further….

compare the above description of the hijacking scenario to the “hijacked brain” of an addict.  the brain becomes an innocent victim of drugs and alcohol…which overtake the brains normal chemical/behavioral  responses, therefore hijacking it.  taking over control.  taking over the body and the mind.  the person is now powerless over themselves.  fascinating!

even after the “high” is gone, the addicts brain is under attack, as it is constantly chasing the high.

in the simplest form, this basically means…..

i am powerless over drugs and alcohol (among other things!).  with that first drink or drug, my brain becomes hijacked, and i become overtaken by the insanity of the hijacker…be it cocaine, alcohol, etc. i loose all control over mind and body.

thank god…i know longer have to deal with such an overwhelming lack of control.  i’ve taken my life back….  the bad guys are no longer welcome.

so what has changed & what have i learned  in the past 11 months?

1.  i do not suffer from that incomprehensible demoralization any longer.

2.  i do not hate the girl in the mirror any longer.

3. i am able to love myself more often than not.

4.  i no longer have hangovers.

5.  i always remember the events that took place the night before.  i remember who i was with.  how i got home. etc.

6.  i’ve learned to have compassion for myself, and others.

7.  i’ve learned to be of service to others in order to find happiness within myself.

8.  i’ve really gotten to know my ego.  and i have put him in his place.

9.  i’ve completed 11 of the 12 steps which are changing my life daily.

10.  i’ve learned what love really feels like.

11.  i feel everything! every emotion.  and i am learning to love it.  even the painful feelings.

12.  i’ve learned to not judge.

13.  i’ve learned the power of compassion and kindness.

14.  i’ve learned the importance of friendship and the dangers of isolation.

15.  i’ve realized staying calm brings me closer to serenity, and acting hysterical takes me further away.

the list really can go on…

the most important thing i have learned, however, is do not take that first drink or drug…no matter what!  

so today i celebrate myself for:

11 months

336 days

8,065 hours

of continuous sobriety!

random act of kindness-8

description of random act of kindness #8-  noticing someone in distress, and taking the time to help them out.

it’s the tiniest acts of kindness that have the biggest impact.

so give a helping hand…don’t walk by blindly.

here i am in NYC, where there is constant construction it seems, and detours in and out of the buildings and stores…or just “stuff” in the way.  i was at the gap store yesterday, returning some shorts i decided i didn’t need.  at the register, im gazing off as the employee is making my return, and i see out of the corner of my eye a young woman, struggling with the door to get out of the store.  she had a very large baby stroller, of course with a baby lying in it.  this particular gap store is located right on the sidewalk, with a large step to get in and out of the entrance door…construction going on around it…not very convenient entrance or exit for a baby stroller (or a disabled person for that matter).

so rather than stand there and watch this poor woman struggle, or act as if i do not see whats happening, i chose to walk away from my transaction at the gap register, and take a second or two to help this poor woman with the door.  “lets start over, i said to her.  back up, and i will go outside and hold the door for you.”  she was outside and on to her next destination with in seconds.

that was easy.

and the woman was grateful for the help.  and i was happy to have assisted.  why sit back and watch or ignore people around us who might need a little assistance?  most people do just that…ignore it.  can’t be bothered.  they are in a hurry.  too busy.  etc.  i’m guilty…i’ve ignored before.  but it’s never too late to turn things around.  and i hope that is what i am doing with my life now…

living in compassion for myself and others.  being of service to you.  staying out of my own head.  out of my own way.  living in gratitude…

being kind to my fellows.

and in doing so, staying sober, one day at a time….in kindness.

pssst. i’m gay. deal with it.

the church these days seems to be getting less loving, less god-like, and more brutal in their preaching ways.  it’s bullying, plain and simple.  it’s hate.  it’s intolerance.  and it is not god’s way.  there have been many recent sermons that have gone viral due to their hateful message regarding the LGBT community.  i blogged about one a couple of weeks ago…a preacher who said us “gays” should be put on our own island, surrounded by an electric fence…where eventually we would all die off.  really?

it’s 2012, and i am shocked at the ignorance and fear that much of our world still lives in.  the fact that there is such brutal bullying that goes on today just breaks my heart.  our purpose on this planet is to live a spiritual and compassionate life.  to learn and grow through love and compassion for all living things.  and god made us different for a reason, in my opinion.  diversity makes the world go round. and to love all things living….. different from you….or the same….. is to really live.  it’s called unconditional.  you heard of it?  i don’t expect anyone to be perfect at this, as we are human.  but i do expect people to practice love, not hate.

to all you fearful anti-gay, bullying individuals out there:

why are you so afraid of me?  why are you so interested in my business and my choice of love and lifestyle?  why do you care who i say “i do” too?  or who i retire with at night?  i am not hurting anyone.  i am not affecting your life and your choices.  i have the right to live just as you, so stop trying to take my freedom away from me.  you do not have permission to take it.  it does not belong to you.  you do not have permission to hurt me.  to wound me with your words.  you do not have permission to tell me how to live.  what do eat.  where to work.  how to drive.  what to wear.  and you most certainly don’t have permission to tell me who to love.  and who not to love.  

does this make you feel better?  bullying with your words and labels.  making another fellow human being feel less than and not worthy of this amazing adventure we are all handed…life?

do you have any idea what effect you have on the children, teens, and adults that you bully and harass? the pain that is burned into their being by your phobic daggers?  the lives you halt by your insensitive, unloving, and certainly un-godly “defenses” against humankind.  yes, humankind.  the collective human race.

you defend (thru hate and bullying) heterosexuality as if same-sex marriage or same-sex love is, or will be, forced onto you personally.  stay in your hetero relationship.  i don’t care.  i think it’s fabulous if that’s the kind of love you choose.  after all, it’s about love, not gender.

do you have a child?  a niece or nephew?  godson or god-daughter?  imagine them being bullied at school for whatever reason..being overwieght, unattractive, too smart, etc.

it looks/feels something like this:

would you tolerate it?  would you just let your child, or your niece/nephew,  live with that abuse daily without trying to put a stop to it?  would you consider this kind of bullying from other kids acceptable?  would you encourage it?  i don’t think so. it’s intolerable.

so perhaps think real hard next time you decide to scream anti-gay, hateful words towards another person.  think about it while you are sitting in church on sunday, praising god with your anti-gay preacher suggesting us gays all be put to death.  or when it comes time to vote for giving the rest of the human race the opportunity to marry in love.  just think about it.

it could be your own kid that you are acting out against.

god didn’t grant us life so we can destroy it by defaming our fellows….especially by way of outward brutality.  this separation of people is against the rules.  play nice, or don’t play at all.  we all have the right to be here!

and that is my opinion.

 

 

random act of kindness-7

random act of kindness #7 description:  hanging out with little B.

little B, is one of my favorite dogs (not my dog).  i noticed she was alone in the yard for a while recently.  she enjoys hanging out in the sunny outdoors….sunbathing. but little B likes to socialize with people as well, like most animals do.  so i had some free time and decided to go hang out with her for a bit in the sunshine.

we played a little…

and enjoyed the sun together…

so random act of kindness #7 was again shared with an animal.  they deserve kindness and love too!  being of service doesn’t only apply to the human race…

random act of kindness-6

hey dude, your meter has expired!

and in santa monica, ca….that is a big no no!  you can’t get away with that for too long before a ticket is nicely placed on your car windshield.

random act of kindness #6 description:  feed the meter for someone.

i was walking out of my local grocery store and i noticed a flashing expired meter.  usually not a big deal, except there was a car parked in that spot, and a meter worker not far down the road, i noticed.  it was only a few minutes before 6pm, which is the hour you no longer have to feed the meter.  it’s also the most likely time to get a ticket, in my experience.  3 minutes shy of the cutoff time.  they are slick ticket givers.  hey…the meter workers are just doing their job, i get it.

anyway, so there i am having noticed the meter expired, and having noticed the meter worker coming on down the line.  so i had two choices, walk away…as it’s not my problem, really.  OR , throw a coin in the meter for whoever was parked there….saving them from a 70 dollar ticket for a 3 minute mistake.

so i threw some money in the meter and went about my merry way.  felt great.  i have no clue who the owner of that parked car was.  and i never will.  but i did a good deed for them.  and i don’t need them to know it.

the best acts of kindness are done without any recognition.  because it’s then that you know you are doing them for no outside reason…you want nothing in return.  damn, that feels good.

 

 

words leave marks!

wow.  i just ran across this story about a young girl who was bullied via facebook (and at school) for being “fat” and “unattractive.”  under a photo the girl posted on facebook of herself, a teen boy commented that she was so fat and disgusting that no one would want to rape her and that she should die and her body should be donated to science.   not sure if those were the exact words, but it went something like that.  watch the video for yourself.  it disgusts me. and saddens me.

this case made news originally because the young girls mom allegedly choked the teen boy after bullying his daughter. no, didn’t choke him to death, just seemingly grabbed his neck with force.   im not going to focus too much on that side of the story.  i will only say that i do not agree with her actions and think things should have been handled differently.

my focus here is going to be on the bullying of this young teen girl.  it breaks my heart.  makes my blood boil.  brings back memories i’d like to erase.  bullying was bad enough when i was a teen…today it is out of control. made worse through social networking, instant photos and videos, etc.  humiliation can be spread in seconds.

sadly, teasing is part of growing up.  almost every kid will experience it at some point.  however teasing turns into bullying when it is repetitive and done with intention to hurt.

as a child i was considered fat.  i was, as i recall, the biggest girl in elementary and junior high.  or at least that’s the way it felt.  i recall very few days that i was not bullied at school.  being called fat. fat ass.  ugly.  gross.  wide load signs put on my back.  cornered by teen boys who would steal my belongings, etc. the list goes on.  i cried all the time.  it was daily humiliation.   i was sad.  depressed.  scared.  and worst of all i hated myself.  eventually i began to believe all the horrible words these bullying kids threw in my direction for so many years of my childhood.

words leave marks!

       

so what effect can such bullying have on a child.  here are a few troubles that may transpire for the victim of bullying:

anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, poor social self-competence, depression, psychosomatic symptoms, social withdrawal, school refusal, school absenteeism, poor academic performance, physical health complaints, running away from home, alcohol and drug use, and suicide.

using myself as an example, by the time i was about to depart from junior high school, i was very depressed, my self-esteem was non-existent, i was horrible in social situations because i felt like no one would like me and i wasnt good enough, my self-confidence was shattered, i was often withdrawn, i faked sicknesses so i wouldn’t have to go to school, and i didn’t want to be alive.  when the time came for me to join high school, i lost a lot of weight, in all the wrong ways, because i couldn’t imagine 4 more years of hell.

as an adult…i am still uncomfortable in social situations, i am very introverted and quiet by nature, my self-esteem certainly resurfaced in adulthood, but has never reached its full potential, same goes for my self-confidence, my alcoholism and addictions were in full throttle as i entered early adulthood, i am rarely happy with my physical appearance and am constantly telling myself i am fat. i believe most of these characteristics developed as a bullied child and stuck with me into adulthood.  they are wired in my hard drive now.  i have a great life today and i do have confidence and self-esteem, and i do like the person i have become, but the ghosts of my childhood past still linger.  naturally.

so when i watched this video of this beautiful young teen, crying as she repeated the words of her bully, my heart broke.  i know what it feels like, and i don’t wish those feelings on even the worst of enemies.  emotional abuse is just as sad and just as dangerous as physical abuse.

how can we stop bullying?  how?

although being bullied as a little girl continues to affect me in some negative ways, i am lucky in that i didn’t grow into a mean, angry, bitter adult by way of my childhood emotional abuse.  i grew into a very emotionally sensitive, kind, thoughtful, and gentle woman. (most of the time-cause im not perfect) and  one who knows the dangers of abuse by words, and who can’t even imagine being so mean to another human being.  in fact, if i witness someone else saying hurtful things to another person, child or an adult, i feel it penetrate in me. and it makes me extremely uncomfortable.  not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  but it just is.

seriously…what can schools/parents do to prevent bullying to such extremes?

i hope this little girl who recently felt such emotional pain from bullying…can keep hold of her self-esteem and confidence and is shown, by way of love, how beautiful she is and how much she shines in this sometimes very cruel world.

please watch the video from the Dr. Drew show.

i am just posting the part regarding the bullying.  if you want to see the whole video, please visit HLN’s/Dr. Drew’s page.