Friday, December 26, 2014

Taking Beauty Out of Body Positivity

"If we insist on the primacy of beauty, doesn't that give the word "ugly" even more power to cause us harm? For years now, fat-positive activists have insisted that the word "fat" is morally neutral; that if you don't need to be thin to be considered a worthwhile or complete person, then "fat" isn't an insult, just a descriptor. Similarly, the answer to an oppressive and arbitrary beauty stand should not be to insist that everyone is beautiful, and more than the cure to weight stigmas is to declare that everyone is thin. It is to resist and counter the notion that thin and beautiful are the only acceptable things to be.

Instead of insisting that beauty is necessary for everyone, more body-positive activists are working toward making beauty optional- something we can pursue if it matters to us, but also something we can have full and satisfying lives without. We should affirm our bodies for what they can do, how they can feel, the tribulations they've survived. And the amazing minds they carry around, without having to first justify their existence by looking pretty.

While I stand with and support anyone who finds power, visibility, or joy in reclaiming the word and the concept of beauty, it shouldn't be compulsory. There should be space in body positivity for women like me, for anyone who wants access to confidence, happiness, and self-worth without having to use beauty as the vehicle to get there."

-Lindsay King Miller, from "Pretty Unnecessary- Taking Beauty Out of Body Positivity." Click title for the full article.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Video: Crossing the Rock Fin at Arches' Devils Garden Loop

I was pretty nervous on various stages of this hike, but we did it, and this video makes me proud I made it across. Despite moderate acrophobia, I've been able to do quite a lot. Though on this hike, without Charlie holding my hand, I would have turned back a few times. I did not look down the left side while I was walking. Just one step in front of the other til I got to the other side.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


For months now I've had little to write about. It seems I write when my life is in turmoil, or I'm exploring a new direction. Instead, we've established a simple life here in Portland.

Work is fulfilling enough.

Our relationship is a quiet place.

Nights I roll into the driveway, light seeping from the windows welcoming me home. Charlie's inside. Maybe cooking. Maybe working. Bailey always hops up and lumbers over to whichever door I approach, tail wagging. Basic foods for dinner. Relaxing on the couch. Curling under the covers. And repeat.

Simple, satisfying, comfortable.

For Justin's fortieth, we hopped a plane for a two week trip to the Southwest. Both of us mostly unfamiliar with the area, it was a reminder of the surprises our country has hidden. So many unknown places and faces. Days traversing the desert, scrambling over rocks, conversations with strangers, newspapers from the reservation. A memory created and a song to keep searching for those places of new adventure where my soul is tugged and eyes opened to this journey we're on.

As the year is drawing to a close, I'm thankful for the peace that has come into our lives. And all the special people and places who are part of my family in this world.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sara "You take risks" Schultz

I walked around all day after hearing that rolling it around in my head, holding it in my heart, thinking, "I take risks". "I'm a risk-taker." "I think I am." "I'm so surprised."

No one has ever said that to me.

Here I was thinking I was a sturdy boring person all these years, doing the right thing and what was expected. Well, not exactly. But I've never thought of myself as a risk taker. Risk takers are people who go skiing on double black diamonds or people who kiteboard over the ocean or people who quit their jobs and travel with nothing, starting a new life.

I think I've grown a couple inches in size since that compliment.

This Wednesday, I had a review with Kaiser. It was my one year "Senior Review", something that usually occurs after three years of employment, but when you take a hiatus or move regions, they have you do a one year of probation and decide whether to make you permanent.

This past year was a roller-coaster of emotions as I returned. For the most part, it was very positive. The Kaiser family is so much love. The patient care was so much better than anywhere I worked. It finally made sense again. I was learning again, which was a great joy and relief.

But it wasn't easy. It took a lot of relearning. I felt slow. I wondered if I was smart enough. I covered clinics all over the region, driving in my car. After bike commuting for a year, this was a harsh change. Working full time with a heavy patient load was exhausting at times.

So I was a little anxious about my review. I wondered what they would say. I wondered what I'd be told I needed to fix.

I won't summarize it here, but it was the nicest review I've ever had. And, it was a different experience than the last time I was at Kaiser. I'm hopeful for the future.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to be Vegetarian

Nine years ago this fall, I took a trip to India with my good friend, Laura. We arrived to a land which had quite a lot of errant trash scattered about the streets and hillsides, as well as chickens running around who also appeared to be eating up that trash. It didn't take a lot of deep thinking to decide that maybe it was best to stick with the non-chicken, vegetarian plan. For three weeks, I didn't touch meat. It wasn't hard. In India, about 50% of the population is vegetarian so we were in good company.

When I returned to the States, I didn't have a particular plan to stay vegetarian, but at the time was dating a guy who was vegetarian for mostly ethical reasons. He fed me tasty meat-free food like roasted beets with goat cheese, marcona almonds, and more. After a while, I decided to try out the vegetarian lifestyle. He left the picture but continues to have an impact on me.

I'd never been a big meat eater, so it was a fairly natural transition. Years of being a student with limited funds meant that meat was low on the totem pole of affordable foods. I'd always been not very fond of the texture/gristle, not so good at cooking it, and not keen on handling raw meat.

My early years, I spent a lot of time with fancy vegetarian cookbooks making things that took a long time, ingredients and caused a fair amount of digestive distress (gas!). It was not until I moved overseas that I learned to simplify my diet for the better all around. I no longer include much beans, tempeh, or heavy grains as dietary staples, but instead feature vegetables as the main course.

Rather than complicated recipes, I rely on salad in the summer (mostly arugula, mixed greens, spinach) and cooked veggies (mostly broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus) in the winter. Or winter salads, which means cook some veggies and throw them on a bed of cold greens and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil or cheese, and you have a meal. Most days I have an apple and some nuts as well. Decaf coffee with a tiny splash of half & half is how we start our day.

I've experimented with veganism but I don't think dropping the small amount of cheese, butter and cream that I consume would be beneficial enough for health reasons to go that route. As well, drawing black and white lines in the sand can make it harder to get through life and enjoy food and social activities, which are something we all should do.

So my nine year anniversary is coming up this month. If you're thinking about going vegetarian, I'd say go for it. And if you don't think you are sure, well just try to be mostly vegetarian. There's nothing wrong with that and you'll still benefit healthwise and help improve animal welfare and the environment.

I personally find it easier to just be vegetarian, and have that particular line drawn. I feel great and as well have completely normal blood work, in case you were wondering - low cholesterol, normal iron, normal cbc, and normal blood sugar/HbA1C.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bicycling to the End of Summer

This morning I hopped on my weighted down 1979 Schwinn cruiser, cycling to work along the bike boulevard** that is Going Street. Every time I think “I’m going down Going Street,” it gives me a little laugh inside. The joke never stales. Or maybe I am just easily amused.

I’ve recently upgraded the Schwinn with bilateral back folding chrome metal baskets. Adding an extra ten pounds onto an already sturdy bike means I am getting super exercise by just biking a few blocks. Since I usually never go less than 6-10 miles any given day that I pick up a bike, I should be rapidly improving my cardio health. On a workday, I load up my backback with books and whatnot and two mugs of decaf coffee (must stay awake) and hunker down for a slow ride to work. It’s no wonder I’ve noticed my legs are aching.

The seasons are changing and I can tell by the way my ears ache partway to work. My feeble ears have long been a source of discontent- one of the reasons I’d try not to get my head under the water while swimming in the Minnesota lakes of my youth. I’ve noticed for three days of riding that I needed ear protection but keep forgetting anyway. Maybe it’s a sign of early alzheimers. Or just denial that the seasons are changing.

Regardless, I’m happy it’s cooler and looking forward to sweaters, tights and boots. Although last night we dressed in jeans and sweaters to attend the Portland Symphony, afterward it was so cold (68!) that I had to turn the seat heaters on. Yikes!

**Portland has city streets that are designated as “bike boulevards” which means they’re 20mph mostly and have road bumps and blockades periodically so as to discourage cars from using the streets as thoroughfares. For the most part, I rarely see a car when I’m biking down Going Street. It’s about 40 blocks that I take it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Post Camp Erin Week Two Thoughts

A week has gone by since camp and I've had some time to let the experience brew. For days, the Camp Erin song played through my head. It ended: "Camp Erin, Camp Erin, Makes Us Feel Good." Maybe there was some truth to it.

Honestly, I'd carried some of my jaded emotions to the camp. Not helpful emotions. They were there to distance and separate. Creating the walls of protection around me. I heard the song at training and thought it was kind of silly. But it worked its way into my brain and like a mantra, impressed itself upon me until I believed it was true.

Walking around the following days, I wanted to tell people what I had experienced. I realised no one wanted to hear about it- it made them uncomfortable. They'd rather hear that I went to naked biking clown camp, or anything really other than a children's grief camp. It was very similar to response I'd received in the past when I told people my dad was dead.

Obviously it is an uncomfortable subject.

American society in particular is focused on the positive and happy. No one wants the dark underbelly. Sadness should be swiftly swept under the rug and replaced with an industrious happy smile. Move on. Don't dwell.

I wonder if all that shuffling along worsens the scarring that's created by traumatic experiences. I don't advocate dwelling on the past, but the past is part of your present and your future. And if we've developed unhealthy behavioral patterns related to our past then likely they are best to be dealt with.

I found a place in town that does grief support groups for children through young adults. It seemed like a good place to volunteer. I was toying with the idea of asking if I could attend a few of their sessions (as a participant). I wonder if it would be a good idea for a few weeks or months. Maybe then I could volunteer for them on a regular basis.

The idea of attending thirty-one years later seems almost ridiculous, but at the same time, it might be a good idea. If I could get a better understanding of myself and meet others in the same place, then perhaps I could do something for people who were in my same shoes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Camp Erin Weekend: Children's Grief Camp

The last three days I spent with fifty-nine children and a ton of adults just twenty-four miles from my home at Camp Erin. The children had all lost someone important to them- mostly parents, secondly siblings but also others of importance. Camp Erin is free to campers and run by donations and the Moyer Foundation.

I can't give any specific stories due to confidentiality, but it was an interesting and emotional experience. It's hard to suppress tears when you're seeing kids dropped off by one parent or seeing the pictures of their lost loved ones. I would've liked to have gone to a camp like that when I was a kid. The experience of being around a bunch of others in the same boat and talking about it is huge for those kids.

Going into the weekend, I was fairly apprehensive- mostly because I'm never sure how I'm going to react, and usually if someone else starts crying, I do too. I feel like we're there for them and having my feelings bubble to the surface is not very helpful. As well, I'm very introverted and really don't enjoy large groups or being around people all the time. Most of the other volunteers were teachers or counselors, so they were a little more prepared.

There are various roles for volunteers- Big Buddies (you stay in the cabin with the kids) and a lot of logistics. I was assisting the clinical leads (counselors) along with another girl for the teenagers. Having struggled with controlling emotions my entire life, I didn't feel that the Big Buddy role would be very safe if I were trying to be supportive of the kids. There's a lot going on behind the scenes, but I think the Big Buddy role is probably the most personally fulfilling (and tiring) for volunteers.

It seems like we address loss differently than we did thirty years ago. Back then, it was just have a funeral and go on with your life. At least now people are better about talking about things, and there's different ways to heal.

I feel like the experience should not have been about me but it brought up a lot of emotions again. At one point, watching a boy hide in his sweatshirt and hunch up and cry, I just could not help but start crying - identifying with them in the way that they try to hide their emotions, their tears - trying to move on, but still remembering that someone is missing.

I find it embarrassing that I'm still sad or apt to just start crying when I least expect it. Losing my dad is a problem forever. The loss that I have is like a scab that's ripped off and then I feel like I'm right back at that place again- where the hole is there - you can't breathe - the tears are rolling - and there's nowhere to hide. I still never know what is going to set it off again.

Sitting there watching the kids, I felt like I should probably be in some sort of grief program. I realised that I've never gone to a counselor for it, or to a grief support group, or a camp. I've been figuring out how to deal with it by myself since I was seven. And I'm still dealing with it in the same way I did as a child- withdrawal, hiding, embarrassment, introversion. It's strange how we are the same forever. 

On Saturday afternoon, I was sitting with my feet in the creek, listening to the water, writing in my journal. I'd been wondering lately what my dad would've thought of Oregon. Would he have liked biking with me? Would he go camping? What would it be like to have a dad-adult conversation with him?

It was a hard weekend. I don't cry that much anymore, but when it starts, the deluge is hard to stop. I don't think I helped a whole lot with kids this weekend (except in a behind the scenes way), but I think I ended up learning some things about myself. I might try to find a way to keep helping children in grief on a regular basis.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Nodak Visitor

Blogger is all whacked up and won't let me see the photos I uploaded. Jessie came to town last week. Aka The Basement Bitch. She was a college student who rented a room in my mom's basement for a couple years in Minot. We became friends when I was visiting my mom for about 6 weeks between my time in New Zealand and my time in Germany. She and I had a busy week--- and she also got to hang out with Carrie and Justin. Her first few days were spent on the Oregon coast with friends and then she took the train back to Portland. I picked her up and we headed off to Powell's books, where we promptly ended up in the "Lusty" section. They're busy remodeling Powell's, so I didn't know where anything was at. Yeah, that explains it... In other unrelated Portland weirdness, we saw three guys dressed up like the Ghostbusters when we first pulled out of the train station. Unfortunately we were too dumbfounded to get our cameras out in time to snap a photo. Later when I was trying to find the Small Press Books section in Powell's, I stopped an employee, who was wearing a ghostbusters shirt... I got all excited thinking there was a convention or something. But alas it was just a strange coincidence. Darn. The second day, we trekked up the St Johns Bridge (where the Real Hippies live) and over to the Pittock Mansion for some excellent city views. Lazy Sunday 16-mile bike ride (Jessie wanted to go for it!)-- was the culmination of the weekend. It was a very sweet visit...

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Best Fourth Of July

On the Fourth of July, I was so tired I thought I might crawl into bed at 9PM. I was inside working on the house when Carrie drove over to pick up Oatie. She noticed that there were fireworks going on all over Portland. Quite a lot across the street from my house and really going on in 360 degrees as we spun around. She walked back over and we sat outside with our chairs and the dogs, and then walked down the street to catch a phenomenal street show just a few blocks from our home. People were gathered all along the sidewalks watching. So we shared in the fireworks and took Bailey and Oatie. They both enjoyed it and people were amazed they weren't spooked by the noises. Bailey practically skipped home- I think he thought it was such a treat to be out so late. The next day he didn't get up til about 1PM after his late night.

Fireworks are illegal in Portland, but today I had a police officer in today and asked him about it. He said, "As long as they aren't doing anything stupid, we leave them alone." I think that is sort of the mantra of life in Portland. Like parking your cars on the wrong side of the road. Or driving a little fast. Or smoking weed.

It was a good Fourth.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Living for yourself

For the last several days, I've been off Facebook. The first day after my departure, I was working hard on my house- installing new hardware in the kitchen, painting, organizing and whatnot. I thought about sharing photos with everyone, showing all the things that I was accomplishing. Then I thought how nice it was to be doing things for myself, for my own satisfaction. I wondered what kind of society we were becoming- all these people who want accolades for everything they've done. Importance measured in the number of likes you receive on your posts and pictures. How valid is it anyway? And is it creating a society where we do things for the approval of others rather than for our own internal pleasure? Strangely I realised today that I had not had any urges to go on Facebook, that I hadn't even really thought about it in a day or two. It's feels good.

Monday, June 23, 2014

In the Garden.

I'm reducing my social networking time in favor of more time in the yard. Time to write and read and enjoy life. Not that I was crazy on the internet, but I am feeling like I need to step back for a while. So, I may resume posting here rather than on Facebook.

These are all in my backyard. Last night. Both dogs love the yard.