Life is grand

Why We Must Occupy


We must participate, in any way, large or small, in the Occupy Wall Street movement because our democracy and our freedom depend on it. The OWS movement is about re-claiming our political power. It is about asserting our best interests as people and as a society. It is about creating a separation of Corporation and State. If we want a government that is “of the people by the people for the people,” we have to make it so, by actively participating in that government. It is our civic duty. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

The real crisis in our country is not financial. America is not broke. We are still an incredibly rich country, with vast resources and the largest single GNP in the world, by far. What we have is a crisis of consciousness. A crisis of national character. A crisis of collective will. A crisis of priorities that favor corporate interests, which benefit the top 1% of the wealthiest among us, over the interests of the bottom 99%. Not to mention the expense of clean water, air and land; and an inhabitable planet. We continue to fund multiple wars, bailout criminal financial institutions, and subsidize the fossil fuel industries/ecological collapse. Our government uses OUR tax money to do all these things INSTEAD of maintaining and improving social services and a public safety net, INSTEAD of funding public education for all, and INSTEAD of providing national, or even affordable, healthcare. This is not happening because the majority of Americans wish it so. It is happening because capitalist/corporate interests have subverted our democracy.

Now is the time to make our voices heard. Whatever and wherever they are. Now is the time to speak up for our best interests. Now is the time to declare the nature of our character and the values of our society. I say let’s occupy what’s best in humanity. Occupy Love. Occupy Generosity. Occupy Abundance. Occupy Inclusivity. Occupy Community. Occupy The Common Good. Occupy Everything…

Why I Love New Year’s


I love to celebrate the New Year. Marking the cycle of the earth’s journey around the sun is a way to honor and connect to the cycles of nature and the cosmos. For me, it is a natural time for self-reflection. I think about who I am, what I’ve done and where I’m going. As I follow the modern Gregorian calendar, I celebrate the New Year on January 1st. Since I am also a North American, New Year’s Day falls in the middle of winter, when the days are short, dark and cold. The combined effects of the holiday, the season and the climate compel me to turn inward.

There is a New Year’s Day ritual I have been doing for years, in which I go to the ocean and pay respects to Yemaya, the Orisha/Goddess of the sea and of the New Year. I throw flowers into the water that represent things/ideas/behaviors of the Old Year that I want to let go of. I also light candles that represent my intentions for what I want to see and create in myself and in the world, in the New Year. It is a time to re-evaluate and recommit to my life’s purpose. A time of renewal and rebirth.

As the earth begins its dance around the sun anew, I am grateful to play my part in the beautiful mystery of this life. I give thanks for the complex conditions that make our planet habitable, as well as the diverse communities that make life meaningful. May we all feel more love, experience greater joy and create more peace in 2010.

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Weight Watchers-Oppressive or Empowering?


To The Women I Love Who Love Weight Watchers

I have to begin with a disclaimer, which is that I have never been to Weight Watchers. However, many of my friends do or have. Most women and girls are obsessed with weight and size. And as a woman, I can speak from experience about the struggle women have to develop self-worth, self-esteem and self-love in a misogynist society. The racist American standard of beauty for women includes an unrealistic and unhealthy, ideal of thin. This cultural drive to diminish the very existence of women is difficult to ignore.

Eating disorders are rampant in this country. The most pervasive eating disorder is chronic dieting, which makes us miserable and doesn’t work. Furthermore, I believe one of the most successful tools of patriarchy, unfortunately perpetuated by women, is the obsession with women’s appearance, including weight. The amount of time, thought, energy, money and other resources we women spend on “beauty” and fashion, might be enough to change the world should we spend it more wisely.

That being said, Americans are the fattest people on the planet, despite our addiction to dieting. There are many good, health-related reasons for truly overweight women to lose weight. Obesity raises many risks of disease including heart disease, cardiovascular problems, several forms of cancer, strokes, diabetes, and knee arthritis. I also think the obesity epidemic is rooted in economics. Fast foods and convenience foods, (fattening and nutrient-poor,) are the cheapest and often only food choices in low-income communities. But it is not only the poor who eat highly processed foods. We have developed a culture of fast foods at all levels of society. Then we have the conspiracy of corn, the insidious infusion of high fructose corn syrup into nearly every processed food, which jacks up the empty calories and increases addiction to sweets.

So what’s wrong with Weight Watchers? I want women to be healthy, and I want women to love and accept ourselves as we are. I don’t want to judge ourselves by numbers on a scale, or what size jeans we can fit into. When I moved to California, I found myself in the self-help capitol of the world. While I find the desire to better oneself admirable if the path is truly spiritual, I believe the great revelation is that we are already perfect. I want women to be healthy in body, mind and soul. This also means that women must love and value ourselves enough to make our health a priority. Do women find this at Weight Watchers? If so, fantastic. But why measure success on a scale? Why set goals by the pound? Why the monetary punishment (and self-repudiation) for gaining back a few pounds?

What if there was a program whose goal was overall health and not just weight loss? What would that look like? Certainly a foundation of nutrition and healthy eating is a must. As Michael Pollan writes, “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” Eat organic whole foods in season, locally grown whenever possible. Avoid processed foods. Reduce portion sizes. Eat fewer animal products, more as a side or a condiment than a main course. Enjoy food! Share meals with people that you love.

Instead of keeping records of what we’ve eaten, what if we kept records of other things: How many times did we exercise? Did we make time to do something that brings us joy? Did we spend time in nature? Did we have any time for self-reflection, meditation or yoga? Did we connect with friends or family? Did we do anything in service to others, to improve someone’s life or make the world a better place?

Instead of measuring our progress by pounds lost, what if we looked at other indicators: How well are we sleeping? Are we getting enough sleep? How do we feel about ourselves? What kind of moods are we in? What is our heart rate? Blood pressure? Lung capacity? Muscle strength? How do we rate our energy levels?

For some women, Weight Watchers might be a valuable means towards creating health. For others it might be a step deeper into the self-loathing cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Reaching some “ideal” weight might win some degree of social acceptance, but it does not guarantee self-acceptance or even happiness. My hope is that by cultivating true self-love, we will feel better, live better, experience more joy and create greater personal and planetary health.