Month: April 2015

What’s on your plate? Overcoming dietary judgment.

Many of us are becoming increasingly interested in knowing as much as we can about what is in our food. We are becoming educated about where our food comes from, how it’s grown and cultivated, and how it affects our bodies. Talk to any one person and you’re bound to find that the way they think about food varies from your own perspective. There isn’t one way to eat healthy. Some people opt for a vegetarian diet, others give up animal products all together and become vegans. Still others will eat chicken but not pork, or beef. The configurations are endless and people have different reasons for eating the way they do.

One of the downsides of this food awareness is dietary judgment. Some people think they are experts on what everybody else should be eating and will gleefully shame anybody who is not eating “right”. I think that regardless of any good intentions that these people have they are engaging in concern trolling. When somebody is concern trolling they use the guise of being concerned about the wellbeing of another person to shame them and be harmful to them.

I think it’s great when people find something that works for them, makes them feel better and empowers them. I have friends who follow various diets and from what I can tell they are happy, healthy, and at peace with their choices. I am nothing but happy for them. I like seeing people that I care about taking care of themselves and making choices that change their lives for the better. What I don’t have is the inclination to question their choices. If somebody wants your opinion about something they will ask you for it. Barring that you are just giving unwelcome and unsolicited advice.

But back to what’s on your plate, should anybody have the right to judge? My answers is a firm no.

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Read-a-thon: End of Event Meme

The read-a-thon is almost over and I feel great about having participated in this event. I had the best time reading blog posts, looking through Instagram and Twitter and seeing the wonderful readers from around the world come together. I even won a prize! And I never win anything, haha.

I want to thank the organizers, the hosts, cohosts, and readers for making the read-a-thon such a success. There was an incredible feeling of community throughout. I can’t wait for the next read-a-thon. I enjoyed sharing the day with my son, who is only two and a half but had no problem putting his own stack together and going through it in about 10 minutes while I read along side him. I also read his picks to him which made me think, parents are often engaged in read-a-thons of sorts. I know my son doesn’t let a day go by where we don’t read to him at least two books.

For my last read-a-thon post I am answering the closing meme:

  • Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 20, my eyes were tired and burning and I just couldn’t read anymore. I fell asleep! But I am back for the last hour.
  • Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I don’t have any titles per se but I think it’s a good idea to have a couple of short reads/novellas in your stack. These are quick reads and will give you a feeling of accomplishment and some much needed momentum when you finish them.
  • Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I can’t think of anything right now. I think the event was organized beautifully.
  • What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The hosts and cohosts were really on their game! The posts and challenges went up every hour on the hour. It was amazing.
  • How many books did you read? One and a third. I read a short story collection for children and read about 30% of The Thirteenth Tale (which I am loving btw!)
  • What were the names of the books you read? Los Cuentos de Syramar and The Thirteenth Tale
  • Which book did you enjoy most? They are both good reads but The Thirteenth Tale would be my choice.
  • Which did you enjoy least? Neither
  • If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Enthusiasm is contagious. Cheer loud and cheer proud! My only advice is to have fun. I spent most of my read-a-thon time cheering and interacting with other readers. I loved it.
  • How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I am DEFINITELY participating next time! I will be cheering and reading again and if I can participate even more I will. 😀

See you next time!

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Read-a-thon: update

I haven’t done a whole lot of reading but I’ve done quite a bit of cheering. I got through Los Cuentos de Syramar by Damarys Reyes Vicente. It was a collection of short stories for children and it didn’t take me a lot of time to read.

I’ve since started The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I hope to be able to finish it today.

Diego got in on the action with his own stack of books 🙂

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Read-a-thon: Opening Meme

The read-a-thon is FINALLY here. I haven’t yet had breakfast but that’s okay because I am trying to get as much reading/blogging done before my son wakes up. Fortunately, we put him to bed quite late last night so I am anticipating getting about two hours to myself. Yay!

Here are my answers to the opening meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I am reading from South Florida, USA
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield because I have had this book for years and I am, at last, going to read it. Hopefully. Haha. 
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I wish I had gotten round to buying/preparing snacks but I’m looking forward to lunch which will be leftover pasta from last night. 
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I have a two and a half year old that will make things interesting for me today. I can’t remember how I managed the read-a-thon last year but I’m going to figure it out all over again!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

This is my second rea-a-thon and I’m looking forward to being a cheerleader! That is something new that I am doing this time. I’m also helping the admins keep an eye out on things. Having the opportunity to help out this commuity is a pleasure and an honor.

Happy reading to all!

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Read-a-thon!

The read-a-thon officially starts at 8am for me but I’m getting a head start on the cheering (I signed up as a cheerleader) and it’s so wonderful to see all the stacks of books being devoured tomorrow. I don’t know how much reading I will get done but regardless I know I’m going to have an awesome time.

Look out for other read-a-thon related posts in the near future!

Are you participating in the read-a-thon? Tell me in the comments!

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Two Years of Blogging!

It’s been two years since I started this blog (originally on Tumblr then I migrated over to WordPress). It feels a bit unreal that I have been blogging for this long as blogging still feels new to me in many ways. I have always maintained that I write this blog for fun, and that is still true. I love to write and this is my little spot on the internet to share my thoughts, photos of my cooking, etc. I don’t often think about my stats but today I took a peek and I was shocked to see that 92 people follow my blog! For some, that’s a small number, but I think it’s amazing that this many of you have found me and followed. Thank you!

I’ve also received over TWO THOUSAND spam messages, ha ha.

Writing a blog has been an exercise in commitment (this post will be #172). I strive to put up two posts weekly. I often schedule these in advance but I fall behind on this a lot. There is a unique pressure that comes from doing something for yourself. I don’t want to let myself down. However, whenever I miss a week I don’t beat myself up over it. Sometimes life happens. We all need a break from the things we love. I think it’s healthy.

Blogging has been a rewarding experience for me. I have met people and reconnected with old friends who read a post that resonated with them. Having your words be special or important to others is amazing. Thank you to everyone who has ever reached out to me about a blog post either by commenting, sending me an e-mail or contacting me through other social media. Sometimes people offer words that are unwanted but for the most part I have had only positive interactions with readers.

I wanted to share some of my favorite blogs in the hopes that you will find something new to read about. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate two years of blogging than by spreading a little blogger love!

Bluchickenninja – Emma writes a lot about books but she also shares various random things. I love her concise summaries and reviews of what she’s been reading. I don’t think I’ve ever been bored by her posts. They’re all a pleasure to read.

jakerobertknight – Jake is a writer and he shares his writing on his blog. He’s a wonderful, charming human and I’ve had the pleasure to correspond with him via email about everything from writing to the weather in Australia. He’s working towards publishing his first book and his blog lets you join him on this adventure.

Aisha’s Oasis–  Aisha’s blog documents her life in Egypt. She moved there from South Carolina in order to be with the man she loves. Her writing has a lot of elements that I would equate with magical realism. The way in which she relates her story walks the line between reality and fiction taking steps in either direction at times. I have greatly enjoyed her writing and the story of how she ended up in Egypt is heartwarming and fascinating.

Makeup Muzings – E has been loving makeup probably for as long as she can remember. She hasn’t posted in a while but her reviews are always honest and to the point. I used to love YouTube for product recs but now that it’s all about the money I find that I would much rather hear product endorsements from somebody who doesn’t have a financial stake. She’s also a lovely friend to me.

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Teaching consent is not difficult

Today I was in the middle of responding to a text message from my husband when my son started climbing all over me and horsing around. He was happy, laughing and having a grand old time. I asked him to stop but he was in his own world thinking it was just a game. I quickly thought about how often this very thing happens to us throughout our lives, people violate our boundaries and have no regard for what we want (or don’t want) in the name of playing around. My son is two and a half years old but his age is no reason to put off starting a lifelong conversation about consent.

I gently told him that mommy didn’t like what he was doing and that I had asked him to stop but he hadn’t. “No means no,” I said to him. He looked at me and apologized then went on to play something else. It was such a quick moment but I have no doubt that it was an important one. I don’t believe that we should wait to start speaking to our children about consent. Consent encompasses a lot more than just sexual situations. It means that we regard everyone as fully human and respect their likes and dislikes. It’s about taking feelings and preferences into consideration. Consent means that my son is never under any obligation to show affection to anybody. Even to me.

Sometimes I ask him for a hug and he says no. I don’t try to guilt him into giving me a hug. I simply shrug it off like it’s not a big deal, because it’s not. My son comes up to me and gives me hugs and tells me he loves me all on his own. There is no need for me to feign hurt simply because he decided in that moment that he didn’t feel like hugging me. If we manipulate our children into showing affection they will think that it is okay to manipulate others into showing them affection as well. Affection should be freely given, not coerced. Naturally, I don’t encourage him to kiss and hug family members unless he wants to. Saying hello is enough.

I remember growing up and being made to make physical contact with people who made my skin crawl. It was considered impolite not to. The social anxiety that this caused made me dread seeing family. I just didn’t want to hug and kiss people. I wish back then I could articulate this and furthermore I wish that I believed my parents would even care. Now I’m of the mind that when it comes to MY feelings you can fuck your feelings. We are almost universally socialized to take other people’s feelings into account over our own. In some cases it is down right dangerous to offend someone or piss them off. Women have been killed by men whose advances they rejected.

So here is where I am at with consent. I will respect my son’s boundaries (although he’s not getting out of baths and naps!) and expect him to respect others’. This education has to start at home and it can’t wait. Children are never too young to start learning to respect and be considerate of others. Empathy, especially in boys, is important to nurture. No toxic masculinity here,  that is trash.

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Book Fridays: Dewey’s 24hr Read-a-Thon

On April 25, 2015 there is going to be another read-a-thon! I am so excited for this. Last year I partook in my first read-a-thon and I had so much fun I couldn’t wait to do it again. Would you like to join? It’s easy, click here to sign up.

The goal is to read as much as you can in 24 hours but you don’t have to read for the 24 hours. Some people do, but it’s about reading and having fun so you make of it whatever you want to. This year I signed up to be a cheerleader as well as a reader. I already have some books set aside that I hope to get through during the read-a-thon. Last time I devoted myself to only one book as it was a large tome, but I’m going with smaller books this year. I will be blogging during the read-a-thon so expect to see a post or two about it.

Are you planning on joining the read-a-thon? If you do, let me know so I can cheer you on!

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#ToTheGirls

You are perfect just as you are. Your feelings are valid. The books and movies you love are awesome. You don’t need to look or dress a certain way. You don’t have to be sexy, or feminine, or chaste. You don’t have to smile. You don’t have to be polite. Say that curse word. Flip that bird.

Island Tree #1

This week I am doing something different (and scary). I’m sharing the beginning of what I wrote during NaNoWriMo. This isn’t edited, it’s a very rough draft but it’s been sitting on my computer since November and I want to motivate myself to dust it off and work on it. The story is set in Puerto Rico. I hope to slowly share more excerpts during the coming months.

 

 

Island Tree

The hardest part was always summoning the energy to get out of bed. Hitting the snooze was tempting but that would only delay the inevitable. In one brusque movement she stripped the sheets from her body and immediately felt the chilly morning air invade her cocoon of warmth.

Getting dressed in the morning was blessedly easy. Having a uniform suited her just fine. Her school uniform was a suit of armor to her. It was the only time she fit in and felt sure of herself. It was so difficult to figure out what to wear outside of school. Her fat rolls and flabby arms were difficult to hide and even when she found something she liked visually she had a difficult time wearing it. If only she lived in a cold climate where long sleeves and big sweaters were necessary. If only she didn’t live on a tropical island on the Caribbean.

Her hair was a mess this morning. The coarse curls were tangled into something that could not be wrestled into anything she was comfortable wearing to school. She would have to shower. Her hair could not be brushed dry lest she wanted a huge puff of frizz on top of her head. She hated showering in the morning. Doing so meant that she would not be able to read while leisurely eating her breakfast.

“Fernanda, are you going to want some of the eggs I’m making?” her mother asked.

“I’m having oatmeal. Thank you.” she replied.

Sighing she made her way into the bathroom where she made quick work of getting herself ready for the day. Thirty minutes later she was sitting at the table stirring a little sugar into her oatmeal.

“You shouldn’t be eating all that sugar,” her dad said shaking his head. “You are fat enough as it is. Cut out all that sugar and you’ll be healthy in no time.”

“So you’d rather I ingest chemicals instead? Splenda isn’t health food, Dad.” Fernanda retorted icily.

“Ay, mija don’t listen to him. He’s just trying to get a rise out of you.” her mother whispered in her ear.

Fernanda didn’t say anything. She left the table in silence, grabbed her keys and her bag, and left for school.

She was hungry and her anger at her father made her hungrier. This made her angry all over again because she didn’t want him to have this power over her. Tears of hurt ran down her cheeks and in a fit of rage she decided to stop for some hot chocolate and doughnuts on her way to school. Her oatmeal, she knew, would have been a healthier choice. But her dad had pissed her off and hurt her feelings and so she had left without eating her breakfast.

On this particular morning she was more grateful than ever to have her own car. Driving herself to school had been liberating and with only a few weeks of high school left it was the perfect time to be independent. She pulled into the school parking lot with plenty of time to spare. She threw her trash into the nearest trash can before finding a quiet spot to sit and read.

“You always have your nose in a book,” a deep male voice observed.

“Carlos, you know this is what I do every morning. Why do you feel the need to point it out?”

He shrugged and smiled.

“What are you reading?” he asked.

“Biology notes. We have a test next week.”

“Next week and you’re sitting here going over your notes on a Friday. You’ve got all weekend for that.”

“I don’t want to be holed up studying all weekend. Are you coming out with us tonight?” she asked him.

“I have to help my uncle with some stuff after school but I’ll join you guys later.”

Fernanda nodded and gave him a small smile before returning her eyes to her notes. Carlos unfolded his tall frame from his spot next to her and went off in search of who knows what. He was never still.

The school day went by without incident and by the time the last bell rang both students and teachers were eager to get their weekend started. Nobody seemed to linger on campus on a Friday. Fernanda always lingered. She would organize her locker, file her notes, and help her home room teacher organize the classroom. Years ago it had become a way for her to hide from the rest of the students. Whenever the students assembled en masse it was common for somebody to hurl an insult at her. They called fat, they called her ugly. They teased her about being a bookworm.

Why is it, she wondered, that fat and ugly are considered to go together but thin and ugly aren’t? There were some plain girls in her class but they were thin so they belonged. Even the plain girls who weren’t totally skinny got respect because they had fair skin and light eyes. It didn’t pay to be dark skinned and fat. Would it ever?

She pressed harder as she erased the chalkboard, willing her frustration and sadness be absorbed by it. She was lucky to have friends. Not all her peers were assholes but the ones that were really got to her. Today was a bad day, her father made sure of that. On any other day she would not be so down on herself but she allowed herself these pity parties because sometimes we just need to feel down. Sometimes, we need to rage a little before picking ourselves up and telling everybody to piss off.

On her way home she decided she would not address her father. She picked up a sandwich from Subway and ate it in the car so that she would be done with it by the time she got home. She carefully balled up her trash and snuck it into the trashcan in the kitchen. She didn’t want to hear it about eating out. At least she had skipped the soda and gotten water. She could feel good about that.

Her mom was folding laundry in the family room and her dad was, thankfully, not home yet. She kissed her mom hello and helped her with the laundry. The two of them worked quietly together.

“How was school?” her mom finally asked once they were finished.

“It was ok. Nothing interesting happened.”

“Are you planning on going out tonight?”

“We’re just going out for a drive around town. No plans to go anywhere in particular.”

Her mother nodded and asked her to be home by 2 a.m. At the latest. Fernanda nodded and smiled. Her mother always gave her the same spiel knowing full well that Fernanda was never out past midnight.

“Mari I’m on my way now what do you mean you’re not ready? Well, I’m about to get into my car so you better be quick about it. We aren’t even going anywhere!”

Fernanda tossed her phone into her bag and got into her car. Ten minutes later she was parked in front of Mari’s house waiting for her friend to make an appearance. Surprisingly she didn’t have to wait long.

“Happy? I didn’t even primp!” Mari yelled.

Fernanda laughed. “You always primp. You smell good, is that a new splash?” she asked.

“Yea, my uncle’s wife brought it this week. I asked her to bring me stuff from Bath and Body. I can’t remember the name of it.”

Mari clicked on her seatbelt and they were off.

Carlos and Alex were waiting for them on the corner of their street. The pair jumped in the back seat and immediately demanded they change the music.

“My car, my music” Fernanda announced firmly.

Carlos raised his hands in defeat before sitting back and closing his eyes. His foot tapping to the beat.

“Let’s go see that old ass tree,” Alex suggested as they drove around aimlessly.

“La Ceiba?” Fernanda asked, already mapping out the route in her head.”

“Yea, the park is probably closed by now but I think there’s a hole in the fence somewhere, “ Alex answered.

“It’s probably not safe to go. Maybe we should go during visiting hours,” Mari said nervously.

“It’s just a park, Mari. It’s going to be ok. You are always so nervous. Chill out,” Carlos said to her.

“We’ll just go take a peek. If it looks sketchy we leave,” Fernanda said so as to reassure her.

“Fine,” Mari agreed.

They arrived at the park and found it well lit and open. Something none of them expected. It was empty save for a few people who looked to be on their way out. They nodded to them as they passed each other. The enormous tree was dying. Its once majestic branches were brittle and just recently one had rotted to the point it had to be cut down.

“It’s so sad to see it like this,” Fernanda said.

“They say it’s only a matter of time. It’s over 500 years old. Imagine, all the history this tree has lived through. If only it could talk, tell us something important,” Alex said softly.

“They’re probably going to study it. It will have something to tell I’m sure,” Mari offered.

The group stared at the tree in silence. It was almost like they were at a wake.

“Did you see that?” Carlos asked nervously. His voice breaking up the peaceful contemplation of the others.

“See what?” Alex asked.

“I thought I saw a small bulge come out from the tree. It’s very slight but it’s there,” Carlos said.

Nobody else saw anything and after a bit of discussion they decided that whatever Carlos saw wasn’t there.