Being Informed Does Not Make You a Good Person…Necessarily

By Rosemary Barria

 “Remember that self-care is not apathy, and that sensory overload isn’t social justice.” Mary Elizabeth Williams in a recent Salon article 

In the past year I have gone to two extremes, watching, listening to and reading the news every single day to watching nothing, listening to nothing but podcasts and getting my only news from headlines on my facebook feed. This has been a bad year for all of us as a country, I do know that. Personally, I have endured one of the hardest years of my life as a new mom and a preemie mom at that. Do I feel guilty for falling off the wagon of 24/7 ingestion and regurgitation? Nope. However, I would call myself a very empathetic person. I have wanted to save the world since I was like five years old, but never quite knowing how. Riddled with guilt, I would do nothing but regurgitate the news hoping others will care too. Why though? Does me sharing things call people to action or better yet does it call me to action? Usually it just makes me angry and actually depressed if I do just that. Is us biting our nails, typing our latest witty status really useful?

Actually I think social media is a powerful tool. I truly believe it can help us create change and unite us. Not knowing what is going on around me, especially in regards to what is happening in my own country with Black Lives Matters, is in some way enabling it to continue. We need to put these stories on blast for sure. I would argue that knowing about these stories is far more important than Donald Trump’s latest blunder. It is more important than spending our time trolling people like me to vote for Hillary Clinton. I think also of my fellow women sharing their stories of harassment, rape and other violations. I know some may disagree, but I think sharing these stories is empowering. Bring that shit out of the shadows! Women, black folks and others putting up with all this know this isn’t new…of course not, but putting it on blast unites us and shines light on it, so hopefully we can make some change. It can’t stop at the cycle of feeding and regurgitation though. 

My challenge to myself this year is to not dive into horrors but to rather dive into my community. My expertise is helping those who identify as women transition out of lives that don’t suit them and for them to embrace their creativity because that is where I have been. My expertise does not lie in how shitty black folks have it. I know a lot about how shitty women have it. No matter what I know it does not make me a good advocate to sit at my computer crying and screaming at the screen. If this news does not call us to action, then isn’t it just a way to exploit people more? Isn’t it honestly a way for us just to pat ourselves on the back?

It feels good to be involved in the zeitgeist of the time, even to the detriment of our own well being, but don’t you think it would make us all feel better if we were doing some damn good for once instead of just patting ourselves on the back for knowing what is going on? The feelings of uselessness and hopelessness will peel from us and we will emerge as beings connected to our community, not so useless, not so hopeless. Sure check in with the news, but check in with your neighborhood. Get super local news. Sure care about who will win for president, but check in with your local politics too. Believe me, this is mostly a writing to myself. I remind myself to pace myself and you to pace yourself. We are not living in an easy time and we could easily and rightfully get depressed. Be aware, but also act.  Take care of yourself first, then ask your friends, family and community how you can help, and if you have skills to do something, then do something. The least we can do is share marginalized folks stories, but maybe there is more we can do? Ideas?

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Dismantling the Archetype of the Nag

-Rosemary Barria

I became a feminist at a young age. Though I did know that word early on, my otherness was apparent to me and I wanted to do something about it. I didn’t feel like it was right for the boys to automatically assume leadership roles, for them to automatically get passed the ball, or for them to get to be Sebastian the crab in our 3rd grade musical of The Little Mermaid. I was always a shy kid though and it took me a while to speak my mind. I wrote about it often, though I couldn’t quite stand up verbally.  What was I afraid of? Surely we have progressed past this putting women and girls in their place and keeping them quiet while men run wild with power…right? Even if a woman is physically safe to, is she emotionally safe to speak her mind without being called names, like bitch or nag?

If you met my partner, he is not the type to run wild with power, nor is he the type to call me names…unless you count that one time he was super pissed and called me “missy”. He is a really good guy and people frequently comment on how lucky I am. He is a good father, loves me and truly means well. He, however, values his freedom above all else and sometimes at the cost of mine. There are no apologies, no guilt, and no shame in it unless I say something. We had our son seven months ago and this only made things worse me. Even as a forward thinking feminist, even before our son was born, I bore the weight of managing the household while holding a full time job and going to school. When are the animals due for the vet, to get their nails trimmed or flea treatment? When was the last time we dusted the ceiling fans I really can’t reach? When is this or that bill due? It is exhausting really and puts me in the place of the so called nag.

Ah the nag…what women are caricatured as when things don’t get done, because sometimes they are in charge of remembering it all. They have to remind and sometimes plead for assistance because no one will give it to them otherwise. A nag is defined literally as someone who insists and annoys finding faults in another person or persistent urging. Are all women nags? Am I truly just finding faults when I ask for someone to share the workload? A lot of times the nag takes a passive aggressive stance. Wouldn’t it be nice if? I sure wish this or that. If the so called nagging goes further than the nag transforms into a bitch.

Whose fault is it though really? Is it so bad that men are allowed to do as they please, shouldn’t all creatures be free to do as they please? Of course we should! The fault lies in our upbringing and conditioning. It will take a lot to change that. We all know that we can really only change ourselves. We have to start expressing our needs in an effective way and just taking what is ours, despite the criticism we may receive, despite being called a bitch or a nag. Our very livelihood depends on asking for our needs and that includes creative and spiritual needs. It is not selfish for my partner to want to rehearse or for me to go to yoga. It is just not realistic some days, so we must compromise. Change must start with us clearly communicating our needs and feeling empowered to do so. Passive aggression is when we hide our anger, but aggressive aggression is when we let our anger take control. We should let anger push us, but not take us over and we should not fear our anger and hide under it.

I have started asking directly for what I want and stating my needs before I explode in anger or passive aggression. It’s starting to work. I am letting my anger fuel my words and my methods to find balance in our family. I support myself and by doing so I show my partner that I respect myself and will not cave during time scheduled for me. Support from others cannot be expected if you don’t support yourself. Support yourself and step into your power and dismantle the archetype of the nag with me! Raise your words. Do not hide your true words from someone you love. Do not waste your words by yelling at someone you love. I will be posting exercises and videos to support us on youtube, so be looking out for those!

rumi

Why I Will Never Go Back to a Vegetarian Diet

Candice Billings, Certified Holistic Nutritionist

Like the majority of Americans, I grew up in a household where eating meat and dairy was a normal part of our daily meals.  We had eggs with bacon or cereal with milk for breakfast.  We had deli sandwiches with potato chips for lunch.  For dinner it was chicken with mashed potatoes, or something of that sort.  We also had no shortage of soda, frozen treats, and other sugary or salty foods to snack on between meals.

I ate this way every day for the first half of my life and for as long as I can remember, I have suffered from intense gastrointestinal (GI) or digestive problems.  The symptoms would come on randomly after eating a meal.  I would have sharp pains in my digestive tract and feel extremely bloated, or I would be nauseous after eating.  Most of the time after eating I would also feel extremely fatigued.

I went to see different doctors throughout my childhood and my mother even had to take me to the emergency room a number of times because my stomach was in so much pain.  But even with having tests, scans, and blood work done no doctor was ever able to diagnose me or find anything wrong.

Although I did grow up in a household where meat was served at most meals, I never really enjoyed eating meat.  As I grew older I significantly cut meat out of my diet until I eventually was completely vegetarian.  I lived on a vegetarian diet for several years and I really thought that I was eating as healthy as I could.  But during this time my symptoms of pain and bloating, nausea and fatigue never went away.

A couple of years ago I decided to go see a new doctor because my pain was becoming more and more frequent.  This doctor recommended I have a colonoscopy procedure done so they could check for any abnormalities in my colon that could be causing my symptoms.  After my procedure my doctor told me that he was very surprised to have found a polyp inside my colon and he removed it and sent it off to be tested.  A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue that grows inside the body that usually does not show any signs or symptoms and can go years without being detected.

After the results came back from the lab my doctor had me come back in for a follow-up appointment.  I was told that the tissue removed from my colon was pre-cancerous, which means that it was an early sign of colon cancer in my body.  If it would not have been removed it had the potential to turn into colon cancer.  My doctor told me I would need to have a colonoscopy every 3-5 years for the rest of my life in order to make sure pre-cancerous tissue does not come back.  As for the pain, bloating, and nausea I was suffering?  He was unable to diagnose me with anything, but wrote me a prescription for a pill I could take every day that would relax my colon to hopefully prevent pain.   That was the end of my appointment.

After this appointment I felt both startled and defeated.  Here I was, in my 20’s and already showing early signs of colon cancer.  It seemed to me like there was nothing I could do about it.  I would have to have screenings every 3-5 years just hoping that I didn’t develop this deadly disease.  This was terrifying.  I also felt defeated that once again, they were not able to find any reason for my stomach pain, so I would continue to have to live with that as well.

For the next few months I continued my regular life, including my eating habits of a vegetarian diet.  At this time I was studying public health in school, specifically about nutrition.  I was researching information for a paper I was writing and I happened to come across a book called The China Study.  This book caught my eye because it read on the cover “The most comprehensive study on nutrition ever conducted”.  This statement seemed very interesting to me and although I didn’t really know what to expect, I purchased the book and read it cover to cover.  I was blown away by the information!  This book taught me how important the relationship is between the foods you put into your body and the outcome of your health.  I continued digging deeper and found even more books with evidence-based nutrition studies that prove how the relationship between consuming meat and dairy promote not only colon and other cancerous growth, but heart disease, diabetes, obesity and tons of other diseases.

At this time, I was still on a vegetarian diet.  But like many vegetarians, dairy was a big part of my diet.  I also ate eggs for breakfast most days.  After reading this research I decided to try a completely plant-based diet and eliminate all animal products from my meals.

Within 1 week I was already feeling positive effects from changing my diet.  My energy and mood improved significantly.  So much so, that some people even commented on my energy level and I had not even told them I made any dietary changes!  Within 3 weeks I did not suffer from any more stomach pain.  No more bloating, no more nausea, no more fatigue!   A lifetime of living with these symptoms and no doctor was able to find anything wrong with me.  I removed dairy and within weeks I am cured of these symptoms!

I am sharing this story with you because I am hoping to spread a positive public health message.  We are told our entire lives that we need meat and dairy in our diet, when in fact, it is just not true.  At one point in time people thought that smoking cigarettes was harmless, and now we all know that smoking increases your risk for developing lung cancer.  The same exact thing holds true for consuming animal products.  There are hundreds upon thousands of evidence-based studies that prove animal products promote disease but fruits and vegetables prevent, treat, and have the ability to reverse disease.  I don’t think the message could be any clearer!  I don’t want you to just take my word for it, do your own research, or even just try to limit meat and dairy and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and see how you feel.  Like many people, I thought that I was eating a healthy diet and I had no idea the damage I was doing to my body.

If you are thinking about changing to a plant-based lifestyle but have no idea where to start, feel free to reach out to me through our website at radiantlifeproject.org.

As always, thank you for reading and allowing me to share my story with you.

-Candice

Books I have read and think you should read too:

  • The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health
  • How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
  • Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure
  • Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide To Optimum Health
  • Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It

IMG_3785Candice is a certified holistic nutritionist focusing on a plant based lifestyle. After battling years of pain and discomfort she was able to cure herself with a plant based lifestyle and is determined to spread awareness to others.  She is also a yoga practitioner, MPH student, urban garden volunteer, and a loving cat momma.