wow: “mirror, mirror, on the floor” by contributor penelope

Editor’s note: One of today’s Women on Wednesdays posts comes from contributor Penelope. This piece is speaks to a deep issue many of us face: that we have not known ourselves before others have gotten to know us. Women’s bodies are often objectified and labeled as inherently sexual, bad, evil, sinful as well as something that must be covered, controlled, policed. For example, as mentioned in another recent piece on clothesfreelife.com, “wow: free to art” women artists were not allowed to see and articulate the female nude although men artists had been allowed to do so for centuries. Even male doctors were allowed to see, diagnose and treat us while we were rarely, if ever, encouraged to look at our own bodies. Penelope’s piece is quite timely during an important cultural, social and political transition. Finally women are beginning to have these conversations around reclaiming agency for their own bodies, looking at them and treating them on our own terms. This is something Paulette Leaphart encourages us women to do. This piece continues this important conversation.


As a young girl, I knew the awkwardness – the queasy feeling taking over your chest when certain topics float around your airspace. I have felt my skin crawl at the mere mention of the word “childbirth” sometimes even in recent times. A long time ago, in a Caribbean classroom, I was one of the girls squirming, reading Annie John, as Jamaica Kincaid so vividly recreates the ever looming inevitable, which circled almost all our heads at the time — the first menstrual cycle.

I have to admit, I was right in the middle of being under- and misinformed. I was almost afraid of my “lady bits”. I found all kinds of names for it which were neither scientific, nor traditional, but a euphemism. I can’t remember when a thing of beauty, like a yoni, or vagina, started needing a euphemism, and I don’t know when it became okay to use swear words or insults interchangeably with the word vagina, and I don’t know, but something in me, felt like there had to be more to the vagina, to my entire physical reproductive system.

I wanted nothing to do with the idea of a vagina that just randomly, without warning, starts bleeding on you one day, and then continues to do so every month, unless you become pregnant. That, in itself, was something that could happen at any time, and was introduced to us as something that was completely out of our control. There was me, the woman, and my almost-out-of-control parts, which supposedly made me so unfortunate to be a woman.

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It was only after young boys had invented, and popularized the old “mirror on the shoe” trick, to check out girls’ underwear, that I thought of this new perspective for viewing my body – from the bottom up. I would lay my mirror on the floor, while oiling my skin after showers, often moving to the sound of my own beat, watching the meat on my buttox and vagina bounce in the aftershock of my movement. I was completely captivated, like a lover laying under that beautiful sight.

For months, the post-shower dance alone would go on, and I would be come more aware, and in turn, more curious, and eventually even more aware of more of my pelvic parts. I began feeling sensations in my uterus more distinctly, I felt around and became more involved, with a part of the body often ignored until it’s about to be loved up by another, or is in need of help. I was relentless in getting to know myself and my body as much as I possibly could.

Today, I am so thankful for those moments, dancing around with my mirror on the floor, getting to know myself on a real and raw basis, becoming more and more aware of more, and deeper parts of me. Getting to love all of me, by beginning to know all of me. I got the rare opportunity to develop a relationship with parts of me overlooked by anyone but a lover. I got to see myself through the eyes of a lover, and see a new perspective on my beauty and essence. I have to acknowledge those moments, of playing mirror, mirror on the floor, as a period of great growth, understanding and confidence, and speak of those times with fondness and gratitude.

kerry mansfield "aftermath" photography project – journey through breast cancer

In the project “Aftermath” photographer Kerry Mansfield documents her journey through breast cancer.

Series description from LensCulture:

“In the series Aftermath, San Francisco-based photographer Kerry Mansfield courageously documented her two-year journey through breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and reconstructive surgery.

mansfield“Mansfield was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 31 and soon learned that women in their 30s are the fastest growing group of people with breast cancer in the United States. Shocked to be facing this unexpected and frightening disease, Mansfield searched for information about what her immediate future would look like and found that the photographic documentation she was looking for didn’t exist. It was this absence that inspired the series that would become Aftermath.

“Mansfield’s intention was to not only help guide herself through the harrowing journey, but to create a direct, visual record of her experience so that others could better understand what it means to battle breast cancer.

“As Mansfield writes in her original artist’s statement:

“‘It was in that spirit of unknown endings that I picked up my camera to self-document the catharsis of my own cancer treatment. No one was there when these pictures were made, just my dissolving ideas of self and a camera. And what began as a story that could have ended in many ways, this chapter, like my treatment, has now run its course…'”

See full project: Kerry Mansfield

kerry mansfield “aftermath” photography project – journey through breast cancer

In the project “Aftermath” photographer Kerry Mansfield documents her journey through breast cancer.

Series description from LensCulture:

“In the series Aftermath, San Francisco-based photographer Kerry Mansfield courageously documented her two-year journey through breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and reconstructive surgery.

mansfield“Mansfield was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 31 and soon learned that women in their 30s are the fastest growing group of people with breast cancer in the United States. Shocked to be facing this unexpected and frightening disease, Mansfield searched for information about what her immediate future would look like and found that the photographic documentation she was looking for didn’t exist. It was this absence that inspired the series that would become Aftermath.

“Mansfield’s intention was to not only help guide herself through the harrowing journey, but to create a direct, visual record of her experience so that others could better understand what it means to battle breast cancer.

“As Mansfield writes in her original artist’s statement:

“‘It was in that spirit of unknown endings that I picked up my camera to self-document the catharsis of my own cancer treatment. No one was there when these pictures were made, just my dissolving ideas of self and a camera. And what began as a story that could have ended in many ways, this chapter, like my treatment, has now run its course…'”

See full project: Kerry Mansfield

The Best and Worst Sunscreens For 2016 — Young Naturists and Young Nudists America

Young Naturists And Nudists America YNA EWG Report: The Best & Worst Sunscreens for 2016 The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization that raises public awareness about the toxins in our environment and in the everyday products we consume. They basically try to fill in a major informational gap left by the Food…

via The Best and Worst Sunscreens For 2016 — Young Naturists and Young Nudists America

when wisdom comes

I have a secret spot that hovers above a very busy intersection. At any time of day, angry horns, voices and ambulances rage the lanes, employing a variety of sounds and swears in various languages. Planes stream by every 5-10 minutes. And yet, despite the fact that I am normally not able to sleep (no matter how much I work out or what I do or do not eat), I can fall asleep in my secret spot clothes free outside with no problem, despite the noises. Something about the fresh air coursing through my body and enveloping my entire being puts me at ease. It gives me peace.

My first great revelation to this came last summer when I first went clothes free camping. Reading, writing, doing yoga, eating, cooking, walking and sleeping all day long not only taught me what it felt like to be free, but it connected me to what truth feels like in my body. What has since come alive for me is what I’d dare to stand for or in my everyday life. I’m daring to question all the things I had assumed had to be a certain way, because I’ve now had an experience of optimal health and sincere happiness while being clothes free in nature.

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In recent months I realized that sitting at my desk indoors for hours on end has been killing my body (and soul). All the yoga I’d been doing wasn’t enough to reverse the effects of the office. Although some changes have helped, I’m still faced with the fact that my body remembers what it was like to be in an optimal situation: healthy natural state, fresh outdoor setting and fantastic company. It remembers regulating itself and how “happy” and “healthy” registered in its bones, tissues, muscles, breathing patterns, etc.  It knows that’s what was good for it, and it is demanding that in very marked ways.

I’ve been wrestling with the discomfort I’ve been feeling in my body in response to things at the office and other areas of life for quite some time. Was I just being fussy? Couldn’t I suck it up and just pay my dues? Do the time, and in 30 years I can be happy, healthy and free.

My body laughed at the thought of waiting 30 years to be healthy. It started shutting down and protesting in many ways including inability to sleep (and all the things that result from that), unresponsiveness to changes in diet and workouts, and overall unhappiness. Flickers of past issues began to surface again, including glimpses of epilepsy, disordered / imbalanced eating, anxiety, withdrawal, lack of energy, etc. As much as I love everything about yoga, working out, being active, writing, playing, and so on, nothing can take the place of simply being directly connected to nature. For me, there is a marked difference between being outdoors with clothes on and being clothes free. I’ve spent time walking about outside fully adorned, but nothing has such a direct impact on my system as actually being clothes free in the elements.

So, rather than continue to fight my body or beat it into submission, I decided to sit down and listen to it’s take on what is healthy for it and what is not. With that, I will be making some big changes over the next year to return to that state of wisdom and happiness where my body and spirit feel healthy and content. I don’t have all the details figured, but I see the light, especially given all the careful financial planning I’ve been doing.

I’ve had experiences of organic health, happiness and peace. My bones and soul now know that truth. Once that truth and wisdom come, there’s no turning back. In the same ways that traumas register in the body, so do “healthy” “good” and “free.”

My body says it’s time.

Even taking skin-cancer risk into account, scientists say the sun is healthy

How sunshine cuts blood pressure – and makes you thinner! New research reveals benefits that AREN’T linked to vitamin D

LACK OF SUN AS BAD AS SMOKING
A major clue about sunshine’s benefits has emerged from a study of nearly 30,000 Swedish women whose sunbathing habits have been followed for 20 years.
In March investigators, from the world-renowned Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, concluded that avoiding the sun is actually as bad for you as smoking.
The study, in the Journal of Internal Medicine, found that 1.5 women in 100 who reported they had the highest exposure to ultraviolet light (by sunbathing up to once a day) were found to have died during the two decades, compared with three in 100 for women who said they had avoided sunbathing.
The avid sunbathers had a significantly lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other conditions that were not related to cancer, the research explains.
Dr Pelle Lindqvist, the epidemiologist who led the study, says the research also found that: ‘Non-smokers who avoided the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoiding the sun is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude to smoking.’

Read more – Source: Daily Mail 

Eggs on toast

veggans? do we really need an eggsemption to get protein

I recently discovered this article “Vegganism: Why Some Vegans Eat Eggs”. and was a little disturbed by the content and the idea that seems absurd to me of “veggans”. Apparently there are people who call themselves “veggans” (not a misspelling of vegan). These are folks who say they eat vegan, but still incorporate eggs into their diet. When I read this article, I was floored. I had to stop and think for a minute because in my understanding of veganism, vegans don’t eat eggs. I’ve been vegan going on three years now and I haven’t eaten a single egg. I believe the proper term for people who eat eggs and no other meat, is “vegetarian”. I am highly favorable of CNN and their website, especially the opinion and health sections. So I read further.

Vegetarian – consisting wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products
Vegan – a person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I probably should’ve started with this, but before we proceed, let me say I am in no way speaking ill of this person’s choice. I am giving my opinion along with facts and information about health and veganism. I thought I would make that clear. Let’s continue.

“I just like the taste of them,” says Deiss. “I’ll make the exception when I know it’s from a company or person that takes care of their animals.” kristy Deiss Reiki master and dancer

According the the CNN piece written by Daily Burn, Kristin Deiss went vegetarian after spending some time with chickens and vegan after passing by a truck transporting chickens. She said she felt bad about it and that she cried. Then she goes on to say that she likes the taste of eggs and eats it as added protein. She probably has not seen Food, Inc., Cowspiracy or Earthlings. She may not have researched or thought about the biology of eggs, eggs are chicken’s fertilized. Just as we women ovulate eggs once a month, so chickens lay eggs. Eggs are the ovulation of a chicken.

Further on in the article, it states that more vegans are incorporating eggs into their diet. Well that’s confusing if a person eats eggs, they are strictly speaking vegetarian, not vegan, and there are different kinds of vegetarians. Lacto vegetarians consume dairy and no eggs; lacto-ovo vegetarians consume dairy and eggs; ovo vegetarians consume eggs and not dairy. The textbook definition of vegan is people who avoid all animal products including personal hygiene products and clothing (see above). So vegans aren’t typically found eating eggs. It doesn’t work like that, I guess that’s why they are veggans. Now, I am a vegan who is not so strict when it comes to honey because it’s not the animal being consumed.

Deiss justifies eating eggs because the chickens they come from are from her boyfriend’s parents farm and they raise them ethically. That is not the point, it’s still eating an animal, even if it hasn’t developed organs. I know people who have boiled eggs and find developed chick when they go to peel and eat.

Researchers from Western University in Canada examined over 1,200 men and women to come to the conclusion that regularly eating egg yolks was two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to carotid plaque in the arteries, a known risk factor for stroke and heart attack. -Prevention Magazine

Let’s talk eggs and health. Eggs are extremely high in bad cholesterol and fat. One egg has 186 mg of cholesterol, mainly found in the yolk, which is why a lot of people eat egg whites. An interesting study suggests eating eggs may be just as bad as smoking cigarettes. The study suggested eating eggs, creates carotid plaque in the arteries, clogging them, similar to the way smoking does.

Another other reason given in the article for eating eggs was protein. However are many plant based proteins, peanut butter, vegan protein powder (sans soy), broccoli, kale, beans, etc. with so many choices lack of protein doesn’t seem to be a good reason to consume eggs when there are other health and ethical implications. So there it is what do you think? Do eggs need to be added to a plant based diet so vegans can get needed protein? Is it worth abandoning a plant based diet? If you are a vegan what’s working or not working for your plant based diet. Check out today’s meatless Monday offering for an eggless, protein packed recipe.

Another vegan egg alternative.

meatless monday protein pancakes

I recently discovered this article “Vegganism: Why Some Vegans Eat Eggs”. and was a little disturbed by the content and the idea that seems absurd to me of “veggans”. Apparently there are people who call themselves “veggans” (not a misspelling of vegan). These are folks who say they eat vegan, but still incorporate eggs into their diet. One reason given for eating eggs was protein. There are so many plant based proteins, read about them and my reponse to the article which inspired today’s meatless, eggless, protein packed recipe.

Protein Pancakes

Ingredients
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  • 1 ½ c all-purpose wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. Peanut Butter and Co Cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 c nut milk
  • Optional:
  • 2 tbsp. flax meal
  • Fruit of your choice

Directions

Blend all the ingredients in the blender to desired consistency. Heat nonstick pan and pour in batter to desired size. I topped these will flax seeds for omega fatty acids and fiber as well as raspberries and organic maple syrup. I also made fresh orange juice, because nothing says breakfast like fresh orange juice.

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Meatless Monday: Beefless Chili, Benefits of Tea

I’m not sure where you live, but I live in Texas. It is getting rather warm here, actually it’s hot here. The high today will be 82 degrees. You may be wondering why I am posting a chili recipe if it’s so hot here. Well, in Texas, chili can be eaten anytime, whether it’s snowing in North Texas, or blazing down here in the south.

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This recipe was made right before I went to a family gathering. I don’t remember what it was for, but I do remember that they loved the chili. This chili was made on a whim, meaning I had never made it before, nor did I know what I was doing or how it was going to turn out. I have to say, I put my foot in that chili, figuratively of course. Here’s the recipe and directions:

Beefless Chili

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 1/2 large purple onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pck of Beyond Meat meatless ground (I used the feisty flavor)
  • 2 c water
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 c black rice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 2-4 tbsp. chili powder (depends on your taste)
  • Boil water then add rice. Cook until water is almost gone.

Directions

Sauté meatless ground, bell peppers and onions until onions are clear. Add black beans and rice. Pour in vegetable broth and add chili powder. Simmer until hot, about 20 min. Enjoy!

Benefits of Tea

I am an avid tea drinker, drinking tea every single day. I have never been a coffee person, mainly because coffee makes your breath stink and because caffeine has the opposite effect on me, meaning it puts me to sleep and fast. I don’t remember when I started drinking tea, but I’m thinking it may have been some time before college, not a hundred percent sure. I didn’t like the bottled or canned teas, I loved the ones you had to boil water and steep the bag.


There are many different types of teas and different brands but my personal preference is Yogi tea, and yes, I have tried all of them. My favorites are the Ginger, Super Antioxidant Green Tea, Green Tea Kombucha, Caramel Apple Spice Slim Life, Detox, and Cinnamon Vanilla Healthy Skin. All of these teas have different benefits and I’m not going to go into to too much detail for each.

Green tea is a great way to get in antioxidants which fight against free radicals that cause cancer. Green tea has also been proven to help with weight loss. Ginger tea aids in digestion and it is also great for when you are feelin nauseous or have an upset stomach. Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and a fat burner. I put cinnamon in almost everything (no lie), so anytime I see a tea with cinnamon in it, I grab it. The detox tea has herbs in it like dandelion root, which gives great digestive support. Each one of these teas has it’s own benefits and a lot of times, I mix and match depending on what I feel I need most out of my cup that day.

Why is any of this important? Well, I know that most Americans are coffee drinkers and while coffee does have it’s benefits, it also has some negative components, such as ulcers, IBS, acidity, heartburn, laxative qualities (and not in a good way), and it can cause men to not have and /or hold an erection. Now there are good quality coffee beans like green coffee bean extract, that are full of antioxidants. So next time you stop at Starbucks, think again before you order that latte or Frappuccino. Drink them I’m moderation, like once a week.