Monday, January 26, 2015

Free The Nipple!


My first guess was that I was three. But I checked the dates and realized I was actually only two years old, still a few months from being three. I was rough housing around the living room with my older brothers. We all pulled off our shirts and were beating our chests like warriors.

I was pulled aside and told I had to put my shirt back on or I couldn't play. That moment marked me. I remember what shirt I was supposed to be wearing, the dim light coming from the lamps by the sofa, and the position of the furniture in the room. But mostly I remember my confusion. I've accepted and gone along with the shame of society at times through my life but the confusion has never left. Shame is very real. It can be so confusing to sift through to find clarity.

One blessing of adulthood is that you can recluse from people who project their own shame to find understanding, clarity, and peace about yourself in a way you couldn't as a child. It's taken me a while but I have sifted through quite a bit. I now cling to what I've learned about my true self, which gives me the happiest, healthiest life possible.

I recently posted a photo of my bare chest on Instagram with only my nipple censored. The picture obviously made lots of people uncomfortable. I lost a lot of followers, but I gained about as many as  I lost. Many people reached out letting me know they appreciated my voice and told me their own stories.

I believe that censoring the female nipple does not respect and empower women or their bodies. I believe censoring female nipples shames and oppresses women.  I believe nipples (male and female alike) are not genitals and should not be censored as though they are. The fact that female nipples have an evolutionary purpose should only make their visibility all the more appropriate than a man's. But today, society in general is still completely comfortable viewing a male nipple and absolutely offended at the sight of a female nipple.

Nipples are both a useful and necessary body part (feeding children) and may be sexual as well. However, the same could be said of legs. And I don't support the unnecessary censoring and covering up of female legs either. It is a way in which women are systematically disadvantaged from men. Can you believe there are legal and illegal nipples?

Saying that a woman's nipple must be covered up but a man's doesn't is saying that there is something inherently more sexual about a woman's nipple (and her entire body) than a man's. This is like when people try to say that men are naturally more sexual creatures than women. Both statements are not only false, but they both deny and force upon women and girls a sexual identity (and I suppose upon boys and men as well!). My unclothed body was sexualized and stigmatized before I could dress myself. And in my church, pornography is a problem that "only the menfolk struggle with." It is as though sexuality is a male only characteristic, and that, biologically, women aren't sexual at all. Especially in my church, but in society at large, women are denied the dignity of a sexual identity at all. Heaven forbid she has a healthy sexual appetite.

Guess what? Women and men are not that different. Men love sex, women love sex, men love food and naps, women love food and naps. Sexuality is a human trait, not a gender trait.

And then, since this is my blog, I'm going to address a comment that I received on my Instagram post. The message came from several commenters who suggested that the photo was pornographic. Here, take a look and decide for yourself.

While I respect everyone who commented and their right to their own opinion, I deeply disagree with that sentiment. And just to briefly revisit the definition of pornography, it is any explicit image of genitals OR an image intended to elicit sexual arousal. So first, the image was of my chest, not genitals.  As both the person in the image and the creator of the image, there was nothing about the image that was intended to elicit erotic feelings. None.

This is important to me: The naked female body is not objectively porn. Porn is porn.

Anyone could look at literally any photograph, or any real person, wearing any varying amount of clothing and either be aroused or not. I find people sexually attractive all the time, all day, with varying amounts of clothing on. I'm not looking at porn and I'm not a monster, I'm a human being. I shrug my shoulders and go on with my day.

There are plenty of worse or greater forms of oppression for many other groups, but I believe that there's no freedom til we're all equal. All oppression is one. All freedom is one. I'm not so concerned with the oppression I face, because I live a ridiculously privileged life.

I believe in free the nipple because people still think that short skirts are asking for it and that the unclothed, uncovered female body is inherently sexual. Rape culture is still contested by society at large and females are still slut-shaming even themselves.

And although I don't intend to devote my life to freeing the nipple, it's definitely something I believe in.

If you have any other questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below. You can email, text, or call me. I am open to chatting with anyone about this. If you'd like, let's go to lunch and have an open conversation about censorship.

<3 br="">

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

on becoming organic and healing myself

have you ever had a particular moment or experience that instantly and permanently changed your soul? a few weeks ago i was laying in bed at two am writhing in pain from a horrible flu virus which had been made worse after taking a shot of nyquil. now let me stop here and apologize for chronicling every time i get sick. i don't know why i do this, but i'm aware that i do. i think i become extremely reflective while i'm sick and it's one of the rare times i am forced to actually slow down, think, and write.

so i got up and stumbled to the bathroom and i will just say it wasn't pretty. i barfed up the nyquil and felt instantly better. i then stumbled into the kitchen and grabbed a banana. i brought it into the bedroom and laid down on my back in a blurry haze. i peeled it open and ate each bite slowly but still without hardly tasting it.

my stomach was settled. my body was thanking me. i fell asleep instantly and when i woke up the next morning i was a new person. not just my body, but my spirit, heart, and mind. that banana was medicine. i don't know why, it was a rather insignificant moment unexamined, but there was something about that moment that shifted my body and mind into a heightened state of awareness regarding my health and it's relation to the things i put inside of it.

i have considered the idea of food as medicine before. i have walked the produce section of the grocery store selecting the items that called to me many a time, i have, over the last two years, been slowly removing unhealthy foods from my diet, and i have long valued fresh over packaged foods.

but until that night, my soul and body together did not yearn for earth's untampered organisms. something about that banana was extremely healing to both my body and mind. the next day i began researching the power of organic food. i never really understood why organic food is all that important. i knew gmo's were to be avoided but had never researched exactly why. i spent the next few days ravenously devouring everything i could read about organic foods. my mind suddenly wanted to be straight with the earth, the moon, and the stars. it's all cosmic and delicious and very good feelings.

here's what i've learned about why organic food is important: organic food is grown without the use of pesticides. most people know that. i had previously believed, based on some things i'd read, that produce with thick peels, like bananas, did not need to be organic because the pesticides could not penetrate their peels or shells. but organic food actually goes beyond ensuring people do not consume pesticides.

human beings exist thanks to a delicate ecosystem on earth and their role in the whole system. in fact, each individual is either a thriving and healthy ecosystem, within themselves, with a micro-biome made up of bacteria, viruses, and parasites, or an unhealthy and disturbed ecosystem that is out of balance and laden with disease.

pesticides disturb both the delicate ecosystem of earth as well as the delicate ecosystem within individuals. pesticides and herbicides destroy the microorganisms that feed on and enrich soil, which then transfer nutrients like vitamins and minerals to the food we eat. non-organic food, even fresh fruits and vegetables, are rather empty, and do not compare at all in quality or nutritional value to organic food. not only that, but genetically modified foods can transfer harmful viruses and bacteria to our guts that disrupt our delicate ecosystems.

i absolutely believe organic food is much better for the body than non-organic food. any organic unprocessed food is a superfood. any non-organic food can not be. have you ever tried to eat only fruits and vegetables for even a day? i had tried that plenty of times in the past, of course only with non-organic produce. it never worked out. i was always starving and empty within a few hours. the last few weeks i have been eating large amounts of organic fruits and vegetables. small salads stuff me to the point that i can't eat another bite. i'm satiated for hours.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

i have suffered a health issue the last few years that i haven't talked about much on my blog. i now know it was a food additive allergy, but i didn't know it for a long time. it came on some time during my mission (2010) and got increasingly worse the next few years. there were horrific symptoms. i will call them hangry symptoms. i would be feeling good at one moment and then suddenly ravenously hungry within minutes. it felt like bugs were crawling under my skin all over my entire body. i would experience flu-like symptoms from dizziness, nausea, delirium, confusion, and anger. oh, the anger. i would be deliriously angry, hangry, as if i hadn't eaten for days, sometimes seeing red with road rage because i couldn't get to a restaurant fast enough. but most restaurant foods didn't cure it. weirdly, the only restaurants that made it feel better were ute-mex restaurants like cafe rio or costa vida or large home cooked meals. fast food only exacerbated the symptoms. and once the symptoms had already set in, small healthy snacks like eating a piece of fruit or a larabar did next to nothing. if it came on late at night, there was no sleeping it off. it was like i had the flu all night until i finally ate a solid meal. the only cure was a giant, hearty meal loaded with carbs, protein, fats, and some fresh produce. basically, cafe rio.

i would experience these episodes at least once a day for about three years. jared and i both just thought i was extremely sensitive to hunger. bless jared's heart suffering my presence through it all. he drove to cafe rio many times because i was truly not capable of driving. i just thought i was weak because basically everyone else could go hours before eating from the time they first felt hunger. i knew something was wrong because life hadn't always been this way and i could go hours and hours without experiencing these symptoms if i hadn't eaten anything that day. but because the issue came on slowly i didn't immediately recognize that something was really, truly "wrong".

about a year and a half after the symptoms had been present, i began eating a tad bit less packaged food. for example, i would eat plain oatmeal with natural peanut butter and local honey for breakfast instead of an instant oatmeal package. i was still eating plenty of packaged foods, but at least some part of my daily meals had less packaged food. i began eating larabars between meals. i began snacking on hard boiled eggs a few hours after a meal before i felt hungry or any hangry symptoms. this helped immensely, but it was impossible to always be prepared with a healthy snack prior to symptoms setting in, so i still had attacks multiple times a week.

during this time i saw an endocrinologist because i was certain i was hypoglycemic. i was devastated when i found out i had absolutely perfect, healthy blood sugar levels (after lab tests on my blood and thrice daily monitoring of my blood sugar levels). i know that sounds silly and backwards, and of course now i appreciate i am not hypoglycemic. but at the time i just felt invalidated in my experience and silly for having such a strong reaction to something everyone experienced daily: hunger. it felt like i was just broken and weak and there was no way to really get a handle on this part of my life.

i explored "eating healthier" in a general way as time went on, rather untethered to these hangry symptoms. i figured cafe rio is healthier than mcdonalds, right? so why don't i feel great? i figured that dark chocolate is better than gummy worms so i should feel good, no? but that was wrong. on top of that, i still regularly ate out, occasionally had fast food, would munch on jared's potato chips, and would eat a bar of chocolate at least once a week or more. but with an allergy, any exposure to the allergen is enough to trigger a response, so even that handful of chips in the middle of an otherwise healthy eating day could send me into an episode later in the day.

it's been about a month since i have been strictly eating only organic, non-gmo food. i have been preparing my meals at home, shopping at farmer's markets, eating mostly produce, eating some raw produce at every meal, and eating only grass-fed, organic, humanely raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free meats and dairy products. this hasn't been a difficult change, partly because i was already eating fairly healthy, and partly because that banana flu experience altered my soul into craving and yearning organic food.

last week it dawned on me that i was hungry, and had been hungry for at least four hours. no hangry symptoms had set in. do you know how thrilling that moment was? i had conquered my demon, doctors hadn't helped me at all, drugs or pills hadn't helped, the only thing that changed was me. my body was doing it's thing just the way it was supposed to. i almost started crying. never would i ever have imagined being so thrilled to feel hunger.

my stomach was hungry with minor hunger pangs. but my body was fine. no abnormal symptoms. no panic. no delirium. no nausea, no bugs swimming in my blood, and no red hot anger. i was hungry and i was level headed. finally it was proven: i was not extremely sensitive to hunger, i was having an allergic reaction to a food additive. i was not a weakling or a spoiled baby, i was simply having an abnormal allergic reaction to a food additive. i was normal.

the reason i have pinpointed my allergy to a food additive is because the symptoms only totally went away once i completely eliminated all packaged foods from my diet for more than two weeks. if i had journaled more specifically what i ate and kept all the labels and ingredients, i'm sure i could have determined what specific food additive was triggering my symptoms. but i don't need to.

eating organic food is a lifestyle that i crave and deeply enjoy, one that improves the environment, the economy, and our future. it has greatly improved my life. i love this new life. since eating organic is coming so easily to me, my new year's resolutions are: one green smoothie a day and jog one mile per day. so far, so good!

Monday, December 22, 2014

feed your wild soul.




i've recently been very interested in food as medicine. i've been reading about alternative medicine. organic food has power. although i think that alternative medicine gets plenty of things wrong, i have to admit that mainstream medicine is corrupt. the healthcare system in america IS broken. although i hope to see change, i don't anticipate the systematic corruption will ever truly be eliminated. any time you mix people and money, you will find corruption.

i am developing a new approach to healthcare: i am my own doctor. i don't want to wait until i am sick to care about my health. it's deeply important to me to live a lifestyle that breeds vibrancy and goodness.

big pharma, or corporations like health insurance, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals, need people to be sick. mainstream medicine's approach to health is to feed people poisonous foods (gmo's, empty sugar, non-nutritive grains and meats), wait until they get sick, then prescribe drugs to mask the symptoms of disease. this is backwards. the key to health is prevention. the presence of disease is the evidence of too many toxins in the body. too many toxins in the body are a result of a poor diet, not enough exercise, too much stress, breathing pollution, and the general result of modern life.

foods today have nowhere near the nutrient value and quality they had fifty years ago. they have been stripped of their nutrients as soils have been destroyed and weakened by pesticides and herbicides (for no other reason than to increase profit and make the 1% even more wealthy), genetically modified foods have been introduced (for no other reason than to increase profit and make the 1% even more wealthy), and people and animals are treated worse than ever in the production of food (for no other reason than to increase profit and make the 1% even more wealthy). it is much more difficult, but mostly expensive, to obtain nutrients from food than it used to be. not only that, but basic staples of the american diet are loaded with toxins that simply did not exist in foods fifty years ago.

exercise has always been important to me, but it has become even more important in recent months. i have exercised more consistently in 2014 than i have in any previous year of my life. i plan to keep becoming better at this in 2015.

i prioritize sleep. period. i don't take early morning classes and i don't take jobs if they require me to consistently wake up early. if i'm going through a period where i don't feel restful upon waking, i analyze my life to determine what needs to change to improve my sleep. it is very important to me.

i meditate. it really helps me manage stress and anxiety. i know that most people have more stressful lives than i, and many people have clinical anxiety that far exceeds anything i've experienced. but anyone dealing with stress and anxiety will be benefitted by meditation. i really believe in the power of meditation.

utah's pollution is out of control. i am certain it is negatively affecting my health. i'm sure it's harmful to everyone who breathes it everyday. there really isn't much we can do to manage exposure to pollution while living in salt lake city, but i am counting the days until we live in a city with cleaner air all year round.

i haven't read too much about cosmetics, but i already know the stuff i put on my face most days can't be good. the problem is that i love gaudy makeup and i've yet to find a really great organic makeup. damn it, haha.

it's good to visit farmer's markets. it's really something i want to weave into my everyday life in 2015. they offer quality, local, organic produce at amazing prices. how awesome is that? and by spending dollars locally, you empower and enrich your community. i picked up most of the produce in these photos at the farmer's market this weekend.

i've already been making diet and overall lifestyle changes. but i'm resolving to go completely organic and non-gmo in 2015. this feels good.

oh, and by the way, i'm currently on day three of a fourteen day parasite and colon cleanse. you read that right. i think i might have parasites. i guess i will update with the results if i find out that i did or did not have any parasites.

i want to keep writing about my recent thoughts surrounding this subject, but i suppose this is a good start. give me a bit to let these ideas stew.

ps. jared got me a blendtec blender for christmas. and amazon said it should be here tomorrow. and i'm soooooo excited to use it, that i probably won't wait until christmas. i'm an adult, i can do what i want! right?

power to the people! empower individuals, not corporations. let's get healthy, empowered, and ALIVE--in 2015!

drafts

before i knew it, 27 drafts had piled up over the last year or so. i just went through and deleted the junk and kept the good stuff. i will be posting these drafts, even though they are out of date and some not currently relevant. just a disclaimer (:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars
and why i've spent my whole life trying to put it into words

you can hear it in the silence
you can hear it on the way home
you can see it with the lights out
you're in love, true love"

(not my words, but t swift's)


Saturday, November 29, 2014

marinating.

good things take time. i am antsy every day that i'm soaking up too much inspiration and not translating it into creative work. i watch people carrying out their creative visions on social media day in and day out. i am inspired by those people, and then i feel down on myself for not doing the same. but i also have to remind myself that those people are not pursuing a degree full time as well as working.

graduation excites and scares me. it's exciting because i will have so much more time for creative pursuits. it scares me because i feel pressure to be successful with a career path right out of the gate.

i'm trying to balance the two. i want to spend the next few months challenging my creative skills and at the same time building my portfolio and resume. i plan to spend a lot more time with my camera shooting people in nature, carrying out photographic visions, producing short videos, expanding my graphic design and drawing & painting skills.

2015 is almost here. let's do this!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

apartment #4 in 3 years

we moved again. in may. i mentioned it here but i haven't posted any photos or said much about this new place. i finally picked up my camera and took a few photos.

our house is currently clean because a few days ago jared came home from working a long day riding his bike in the rain and decided he would spend the rest of his day cleaning the house. not because he cares much for a super clean house, but because he knows i care very much for a super clean house. he went to the nines. he dusted, swept, mopped, and scrubbed every corner of this place. i hope i never take him and his outstanding devotion for granted. because he is in every sense of the word, a keeper.

we talk to each other about how much we love this apartment all the time. we love the brand new kitchen. we love that it has a dishwasher and that we have about three extra hours a week to spend doing anything besides hand-washing dishes. we love that the entire apartment is hardwood and tile. we love that it's a century old. we love the tall ceilings and crown molding. we love the original tile in the bathroom. we love the little bit of exposed brick and the original dark finish trim. we love the furniture and decor we've collected and whittled down over the years.

we pray to god together every morning. and i can't help but say the exact same prayer each day. i'm grateful for my husband. this apartment we live in. our good health. our jobs. my opportunity to go to school. our friends and family. our cat. our bright future. this is my daily prayer. i'm grateful for these things, and please god, don't take them away. i try to find ways to help people and i ask god to help me notice those who need help.

and sometimes i help in obvious, immediate ways like giving someone a ride or sharing my lunch. but i think helping others can also be a longterm service we offer. i think it can involve being a noble, honest person day-in and day-out. it can involve consistently giving the benefit of the doubt and consistently looking for the best in others. i try to remember that after we offer our daily prayer.

photo notes: notice that our dining table is covered in neatly organized bike parts. notice the rubik's cube on our coffee table. notice the note, "you're doing BETTER than you THINK". the pumpkins and gourds. little symbols of my husband that i love.