Fighting Food Demons

I read this article today on “orthorexia nervosa”. Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I, although I had a sneaking suspicion it was a thing. It’s having an unhealthy (go figure) obsession with eating clean. Generally when someone gets on a health kick, they are trying to be healthy. Evidently the issue here is that this drive towards ultimate health can actually make you UNHEALTHY. Well, that sucks. Particularly if you’re me. Having struggled with eating disorders for many years, resulting in rehab, then outpatient, groups and lots of therapy, I finally found peace with food. However, my “peace” with food has become increasingly “unpeacful”. When I built a healthy relationship with food, I decided I needed to have a better understanding of food. What is it? Where does it come from? What’s in it? What does “processed” mean? How does my body react to certain foods? Answering these questions helped me to not dwell on the calories, however I have noticed that I still feel just as guilty (and judgmental even) when I eat certain foods. And it’s not like a regular person who would not even consider that they have a relationship with food, (because you normies just EAT food.) and maybe feels some guilt when they go to a drive through, or eat ice cream. I feel guilty when I eat a sandwich. I feel self loathing when I eat bread. I hate myself when I eat cheese. And it’s not just that I do have a fear of gaining weight, but in my head I am thinking that I am causing inflammation which will undoubtedly lead to every health problem imaginable. And it will be because I ate a slice of pizza. I will die a miserable death because I had mozzarella sticks. You may be thinking that I am insane… But you may be like me and you maybe literally won’t EVER touch demonic foods that contain gluten, dairy or GMOs. (And I am over here feeling sickeningly jealous of your strength…. *You see, I wouldn’t ever buy these satanic tempestuous treats, but my husband literally won’t live without them. He thinks that no meal is a meal without carbs, in fact he thinks it’s ridiculous when me and my daughter don’t eat sandwiches. He would like to know what will fill us up if we don’t eat bread?*…And lucky if you don’t have have a partner who eats clean as well.)  It doesn’t stop there, I feel like like I am bringing bad karma onto myself for eating certain foods! (namely animal products)

I can compare this overwhelming guilty conscious to religious people. In fact, I believe I am so sensitive to not “doing what’s right” because of my past in churchianity. So if you feel bad because you missed church, or forgot to say your prayers, or whispered a curse word, maybe you feel a fraction of what I feel when I eat food (that you may even consider healthy). I feel like I have to go to confession after eating black bean soup! AND IT’S VEGAN! Why? I read that beans cause inflammation. I start planning a cleanse after eating quinoa. Yeah… quinoa. We all thinks it’s so healthy… but is it? I listen so carefully to my body after eating a food because I have to know how it effects me. I have slight depression when I see a carton of milk. I mean, those poor cows. And the meat isle?!? It’s a graveyard, It’s the dead animal isle. I don’t like it. I feel like I am literally driving the nails into Jesus’s hands when I eat cheese that isn’t organic. And I have nausea even if it is organic because I’m a little grossed out by the concept of cheese. And simultaneously, cheese is my weakness, it’s the equivalent of the shame you may feel watching porn.

OK so you see my insanity. But here’s the deal, I don’t eat perfectly. So far I am healthy, even though I cheat sometimes. I can and do go to restaurants. I will find food that I can/will/want to eat. (Except fast food, but if we are going with the religious comparison, fast food is like a whore house, right?) I generally bring my own food to a BBQ, this isn’t that weird because I don’t eat meat, and it doesn’t bother me. I would like to say that my food standards are reasonable. I felt bad a few weeks ago when a friend asks me to feed her kid lunch and I knew already that he wouldn’t eat what we had. When I asked what he liked to eat, she suggested something like, mach n cheese, buttered noodles, pb&j, chicken nuggets, cereal and oatmeal. I had none of that. Or I and pieces… no butter, no bread, organic funny looking noodles, no milk for cereal, no peanut butter…. I apologized (don’t worry he was fed!), I honestly felt bad, but in reality, it’s not that big of a deal. These things happen, and I don’t think those are necessary foods. I don’t think that makes me extreme, either. I think that maybe my intense feelings on dairy seem extreme, but not buying chicken nuggets, not so much.

You may be wondering what this means for my kiddos? What do they eat? Well, if we go to a birthday party or a bbq, they eat pizza, hot dogs, cake and chips. The only thing I really put my foot down on at a social even is soda. At home my kiddos eat a balanced healthy diet, and I try to buy organic. They get dessert 2-3 times a week. My kids don’t eat as strict of a diet as I do, and that’s ok. I have had to loosen the reigns on that one, I wasn’t always so nonchalant about that.

Am I orthorexic? No, I don’t think so. I think that eating this way has helped improve my health and is better for my family. Do I think it’s a fine line? Yes. Considering my history it’s not weird that I have unhealthy emotions about food, however, it’s pretty awesome that I have not taken my obsession with health to an unhealthy extreme. I will be mindful, and I will continue fighting my food related demons.

Mommy Issues

So this morning as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed, sipping my coffee, I come across a new single written by Pink. You all know I am a Pink fan, so I was excited, I click the link and read the article, turns out, this song was written for Pink’s mom… My initial reaction to this news was conflicting. I have serious mommy issues (You’ve heard about my daddy issues already.) and I have hesitated to blog about them because… Well for one it fucking hurts. As I type tears burn my eyes and and my throat is tight, also, this stuff is personal. I know I have been open about a lot, but this is the most sensitive subject for me, I’ve told you about the time I was attacked, and I don’t even cry anymore when I talk about that. I have told you about my history with the cult, and I have even publicly apologized to a friend (<—- I even mentioned some mommy issues.) But this mom stuff is really hard to choke out.

My sisters and my mama at my wedding
My sisters and my mama at my wedding

“No one ever held you, no single moment of truth, but if you were mine I would have looked into those eyes and said, tell me the words you long to hear and I’ll sing them loud and clear, let me heal the wounds you’ve held onto for all these years. Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

It’s like she took the words from my heart, words I have never been able to even think. “But if you were mine….” right there, that’s when I broke, that’s when the tears came. When I was pregnant and didn’t want a baby, I promised this baby that I would be the mother that my mom couldn’t be. I was so afraid to continue the cycle. Every day since Jo was born has been therapy for me, I have spent the last 5 years cleaning up the mess my mom left, I have loved Jo, and hugged her, and connected with her in all the ways I SHOULD have been loved, all the ways I DESERVED to be loved. I don’t have memories of not being wanted, but it became clear while I was in CFD, you may remember the Justine Doll Incident:

“When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.

She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
I did.
She asked me to look at her.
I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
“Why not?”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
“Why?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.

At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.

I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.”

I’m not saying it’s ALL my mom’s fault that I literally hated myself and did not think I deserved to be nurtured or loved, there were a lot of factors, but I’m pretty sure being essentially abandoned is a huge contributing factor. Thinking back on that doll I have such a sick feeling, who can leave their little girl? I look at my daughter and I have a hard time imagining a day without her, I cry every time she goes to her dad’s house. Jo changed me, she changed my perspective on life. I could’t help but wonder… why didn’t I do that for my mom? Why didn’t I change her? Why didn’t she look at me, and fall in love? It’s not very fair is it? I can’t imagine walking away from my baby girl, but my mom felt that I would be better off without her. She may have been right, but that’s not really the point is it?

Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

I have spent the last 5 years breaking the chain. I could have been my mom, I could have left when it was hard, I could have given up at any point, but I promised Joliene while she was in my belly that even if I didn’t love her, I would ALWAYS do everything in my power to make her feel loved, and I would never EVER leave her. I promised to show that her she is perfect and beautiful, that she is essential and loved. I vowed to be better and to give her everything I should have had. I broke the cycle.

Me and my Jojo <3
Me and my Jojo <3

“If you were mine…”

I have spent the last 5 years wishing I had been my own mom. Wondering what it would have been like if my mom had been like me, would I have been more confident? Would I have still starved myself? More importantly, would I be the mother I am today? What I never thought until hearing those words was, what if she was mine? What if I could go back and nurture my mother? What if I was HER mother? Would she have stayed?

Disclaimer: “Too many missing pieces, that’s always been your reason to justify how you feel inside” To be honest, I know my mom can’t help who she was. She has more than enough reasons. She was dealt a pretty shitty hand in life. It just sucks that I had to suffer because of HER past. But I love her, and have come a really long way. I think this song really reminded me to be compassionate.

 

 

Why would you spend $20 on sunscreen?

Why would you spend $20 on sunscreen???

This is Alexis and me a few months into our "no poo" journey that inspired us to create chemical free sunscreen!
This is Alexis and me a few months into our “no poo” journey that inspired us to create chemical free sunscreen!

I am working with a close friend, Alexis, to develop a simple, natural, healthy and unique skin care line.  Alexis has an amazing business, called Labor of Love (I have blogged about alexis and her business before.) We decided to work together during the last few months and have been creating, using and testing our treatments. It will still be a few months before we can make the big announcement, so stay tuned. I just wanted to give you all a heads up, and answer some questions that Alexis and I have been asked many many times:

“Why would anyone spend $20 on sunscreen?”

The short answer, sunscreen without chemicals is healthier and just as effective as the mainstream store bought stuff. I know, my family has been using handmade sunscreen all summer (I live in southern California and my kids and I spend 4-5 days a week at the pool or beach.) and we are all beautifully tanned with sun kissed streaks of gold in our hair.

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The ingredients used in quality handmade sunscreen are not cheap, and it shouldn’t be made in large quantities in order to insure the effectiveness. Carrot seed oil alone can range from $20-$40, and in my opinion, carrot seed oil is essential to a good quality sunscreen as it has a natural SPF and healing properties.

“What is wrong with regular store bought sunscreen?”

In a word? Chemicals. There are almost 20 ingredients in the sunscreen you purchase at your local target, grocery store or drug store. 15 of these ingredients are chemicals, man made… and 9 of them are endocrine disrupters. (This means these chemicals interfere with normal hormonal functions which can cause cancer, early puberty, low sperm count, and many other disturbing side effects.) You rub them on before going into the sun, and very quickly they begin breaking down and absorb into your blood stream. These chemicals can be detected in your blood, urine and breast milk for up to 2 days after using the product because they are not filtered by the liver. Because the chemicals are being absorbed so quickly, the sunscreen is losing it’s effectiveness, meaning you have to keep applying, and continue to absorb the poisons. These chemicals also absorb the UV rays and some of them begin to mutate into free-radicals (which lead to cancer).

Hanging by the pool, getting some work done while the kiddos play. Covered in handmade sunscreen!
Hanging by the pool, getting some work done while the kiddos play. Covered in handmade sunscreen!

“But I thought Vitamin D is good for you?”

It is! Vitamin D is great for your immune system, in fact, it’s critical for your health and helps fight depression! Sun exposure is the easiest way to absorb vitamin D. Don’t hide from the sun, just be smart about it. A sun burn is a perfect example of “too much of a good thing”.

“What makes chemical free sunscreen better?”

The active ingredient in handmade sunscreen is zinc oxide. Zinc oxide actually BLOCKS the sun, unlike the chemicals I referred to earlier that absorb the rays. Zinc oxide creates a barrier between you and the sun, and is safe to be applied as much as you need it. There are so many DIY sunscreen recipes out there (try Pinterest!), the ingredients are all similar, coconut oil, shea butter, and zinc oxide. I highly recommend whipping yourself up a batch. The problem I ran into with these thicker DIY sunscreens is they are harder to apply, and turn your skin white. They work beautifully, however, we discovered a way to make a liquid sunscreen that is just as effective and much easier to apply. If this is something you are interested in you can order a bottle from Labor of Love. Alexis markets her sunscreen to expectant mothers and children. I am not a doctor, but I am a mother and this is sunscreen that I use on my own children and myself.

Baby Safe Coconut Oil Sunscreen:

 

Labor of Love Baby Safe Sunscreen
Labor of Love Baby Safe Sunscreen

“This gentle 100% natural sunscreen is safe for all skin types including babies! We’ve carefully selected essential oils that have skin regenerating and protecting properties and blended them with pure Zinc Oxide and Coconut Oil for an SPF 30 lotion formula. Intoxicating floral and earthy scent in a convenient 4oz cobalt blue pump bottle.

Do you ever look at a bottle of sunscreen and wonder what all that stuff is? We did too. That is why every ingredient in our bottle serves a purpose.
-Zinc Oxide is where we get the bulk of the sun protection. Zinc Oxide is one of the few ingredients that can provide protection from UVA and UVB rays.
-Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil contains lots of Vitamin E & plant sterols which are great for improving skin health and appearance.
-Organic Coconut Oil (fractionated) is a light moisturizing oil that doesn’t clog pores and keeps our lotion non-greasy.
-Carrot Oil has a strong natural SPF and a nice, earthy smell. It is also full of antioxidants which can actually help repair skin damange.
-Geranium Essential Oil helps maintain the balance between oily and dry skin, and it smells nice too!
-Ylang Ylang Essential Oil also helps with skin’s balance, and it gives our lotion its exotic, floral scent.”

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, the views expressed on this blog are my opinions and you should always seek the advice of a health care professional.

 

 

How to be a hippy

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DIY Health and Beauty

I quit using shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion and body wash! And I don’t even smell gross! My hair isn’t disgusting, greasy or flakey. My skin is clear, and I am still soft as ever! Next on the list… home made deodorant and sun screen!

simplicity!
simplicity!

As I spit out a spoonful of coconut oil one morning it struck me, I have got to blog about this. People ask me all of the time for tips, ideas and advice to be healthier. While none of what I’m suggesting is original, I figure it’s the best way to put it all in one place, and then refer the next person to my blog. There are lots of blogs out there that cover these things, just so you know. I have been waiting until I had all of my ingredients together and had actually started my new-ish rituals. I have noticed that I am not someone who can say, “From now on…” Because within a few days, I have fallen off the wagon, or realized I don’t like this idea after all, and then I look like such a flake. So… I waited to write about these things until I had officially made the switch. All of this has been a long time coming. I did not wake up one morning and decide to throw out all my old hair care products, moisturizers, shampoos, toothpaste, whitening strips, and skin care… that would be crazy, right?

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It all began years ago when I started making small changes in my diet, over the years, those changes began to trickle into the rest of my life, we stopped buying water bottles, switched from zip lock baggies to tupperware… Pinterest became a life saver, I made my own laundry detergent last year (and we are STILL using that same batch!) Maybe things really began about 5 years ago when I decided to breast feed, cloth diaper and recycle. Even though they were very isolated and the next changes didn’t happen for another year or two, I believe this is a great example of the “baby steps” I preach. Regardless, here I am letting my hair dry without brushing it, styling it or putting product in it… also, I didn’t shampoo or condition (gasp!).

I wanted to give you all a page that has the ingredients and recipes for Do It Yourself, natural health and beauty products that actually work, I know, because I am putting them to the test, a few of which I have been using for over a year. I also wanted to give you a little back round on why the hell you would make your own tooth paste. There are other blogs out there that have even more info than I am sharing, google is your friend, as I am not a doctor, just a health obsessed mom who happens to blog. (They’ll just give anyone a blog won’t they?)

So this is a great time for a disclaimer: I am not a scientist, doctor or expert, I am writing opinions and facts that I have researched. I am well aware that the mainstream products I am talking about have been tested and are considered safe in small doses. My problem is the continued exposure every day all day. I also do not expect everyone to just flip your lives upside down and quit using shampoo, I am hoping to spread the word, and give you an idea about how easy it is to make small changes… not to mention the money you could be saving! Making your own health and beauty products means less poison going down our drains, less plastics being thrown out, will be better for your hair, skin and hopefully your over all health.

Cloth Diapers: I have to give CD a shout out because I think it really opened my eyes to the way we treat our planet, that awareness totally snowballed. I have not used a diaper in YEARS, my over achiever was almost completely potty trained before she was 15 months old. I have a sneaking suspicion that CD had something to do with it. (For help with potty training, check out Potty Training In Three Days or Less ) Diapers take more than 150 years to decompose… in fact we don’t know how long it takes, THAT’S how long it takes! Our landfills are piled high, and we continually add to it, how many diapers a day do you throw out? Disposable diapers are full of chemicals and we just don’t know how that effects our children, or our planet. Maybe you’ll consider it based on the cost? With disposable diapers, you’re looking at about $60+ a month, not including wipes (over $700 a year… are you ready to potty train yet?), if you cloth diaper you spend between $100-$300 one time depending on your preferences. I loved the website CottonBabies when I was CD.

Shampoo: Would you eat something that says “If ingested call poison control”? (Well maybe, so many people eat Yoga Mat Sandwiches without blinking an eye.) Not that I’m die hard on this, but my growing concern is why would I rub something into my scalp (skin in general) that is toxic? Wait- you may be thinking- shampoo is toxic??? YES! I’ll give you a brief break down of the type of things you’ll find in shampoo, and for all the technical names and a deeper look click here. You will find several cancer causing chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Glycol. You’ll find chemicals that are known to cause skin irritation and imbalances your pH levels, silicone which clogs your pores and soy. Unless you are using an organic shampoo, you are putting yourself at risk, and you are not giving your hair the support it needs to be long, luxurious and strong. The funny thing… is that in order to have amazing hair, you actually need to do LESS, not more. It is a process, but not the kind of process where you do 12 steps in one day. As another blog I follow pointed out: “Also it’s better for the environment to use fewer plastic bottles and wash less poison down the drain. And there’s I guess a tiny chance it will also save you from some combination of cancer and let’s go with…epilepsy.” This is the blog I have used as reference on my No Poo journey. 

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Baby Shampoo: When you think about your perfect newborn, I assume you don’t plan to douse her in formaldehyde and carcinogens? (What are carcinogens? Glad you asked, it is directly linked to causing cancer, it is radiaioactive, in some cases. You’ll also find it in cigarette smoke. Because it is not immediately toxic, it’s effects can be terrible, because you continuously come into contact with seemingly no side effects.)  Instead maybe adopt the Noo Poo idea for your new born? Or in the least, find an organic baby wash, I know Melaleuca (also see natural cleaning products) has a baby line, and I’m sure there are smaller companies, particularly online that offer chemical free baby shampoo/lotion (but I think it’s easier to make your own.)

No Poo: This is what you call it when you quit using shampoo (and conditioner) and allow your body to create it’s own oils to nourish your hair. I know, it sounds gross. No more shampoo? Surprisingly, people have a lot of success using this method, and the best part health-wise is that you’re not soaking your head in cancer causing chemicals, the best part beauty-wise is you finally get to enjoy the hair you always dreamed about! Before you skip this part because you have curly hair and “need to use product” this program works for you, too!!! If you have hair, you can No Poo! You only need two  ingredients, I happen to have them all in my pantry.

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Super easy to make a wash and a rinse.

Wash: Baking Soda and water, slowly add the water to the baking soda in a bottle making it kind of “goopy”. (I have read that less BS is better this article answered a lot of my questions) You will pour it into your scalp, and scrub. Rinse it out, then use your “conditioner”. You will most definitely miss the bubbles, I used to have this idea that bubbles meant “It’s working” If you’re considering even trying these things, you’ll have to come to terms with the idea that there are no bubbles. Buuuttt, It’s working! Better than your shampoo!

Rinse (Conditioner): I used 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water. (It doesn’t smell nice, but the scent goes away really fast. Don’t worry you won’t smell like vinegar.) Pour the rinse on the rest of your hair, and leave it for a few minutes, then rinse with water. Vwala! Finished. You won’t have that super silky feeling as you rinse your hair out, it won’t feel feel slimy and unnaturally soft, like you’re used to, but bear with me.

Baking soda "wash" and apple cider vinegar "rinse"
Baking soda “wash” and apple cider vinegar “rinse”

It’s not suggested that you brush your hair while it’s wet, but you can use a wide tooth comb, just start from the bottom. (I like to comb my hair while the ACV is in my hair.) I noticed that my hair dries soooo much faster, it used to take HOURS for my hair to dry, I mean if I took a shower at 6 or 7 pm my hair was still damp when I woke up the next morning. I have very thick hair, and I assumed that’s why, but it turns out that’s not the reason. It seems my hair was coated with silicon and other unnatural products that give it that smooth somewhat goey feeling. My hair feels so much lighter when I get out of the shower, I have a suspicion that had I quit shampoo earlier I would have dealt with my dandruff issue earlier, but I actually solved that problem a few months before quitting shampoo by oil pulling! I’ll get to that in a minute.

So the baking soda and vinegar wash, you’ll do for about 2 weeks, you might notice a few issues, I have not had any. I “washed” it twice a week, and I didn’t get oily or flakey or itchy.

Your next phase will last a few weeks, I think about 6 weeks is typical, you’ll notice changes in your hair… you won’t like some of them… but in the end it will all be worth it! This phase is unnervingly simple. You pretty much do nothing besides brush your hair. I recommend a lot of brushing with a very clean hair brush. Your hair is going to spend the next few weeks over compensating in the oils department. Years of chemical abuse has taken it’s toll and your hair needs to relearn how to take care of itself. What you will need to do is brush the oils from your scalp through the rest of your hair. You should still be rinsing your hair with water only as often as you like, scrub your scalp as you would if you were scrubbing the baking soda in. Just don’t use anything besides water.

After 6 weeks or so, once your hair has adjusted and is amazing, you can wash with baking soda and AVC as needed, this may be if you get something in your hair or go to the beach, basically if your hair is actually dirty. Some people continue to wash once a week, do what works for you. The idea here, though, is to use nothing (besides water and a hair brush).

One thing I did, I don’t know if it’s “allowed” but I put a few tablespoons of sea salt and a little coconut oil in warm water (to melt the oil) in a spray bottle, and while my hair was damp or dry I spritz my hair and let it have that “beachy waves” look. I did not spray my roots, though, and I only did this if I was going out and didn’t want to look like I don’t take care of myself. Otherwise, I practiced cute ponytails. Pinterest is full of options! The hardest part of this is probably not knowing what to do with your hair. Get creative, you don’t have to look like a bum.

There are Facebook support groups for NoPoo, too! So if you’re serious about it, join a group. It’s much more fun and encouraging to have a support group.

Leave In Conditioner or Detangler: Just like the shampoo and conditioner issues, you’ll find many of the same toxins in detangler, so I made this one for my daughter Jenna who has lots of hair and has not quit shampoo (my youngest doesn’t use shampoo anymore either!) and needs a leave in treatment to tame her thick long hair. I used a little coconut oil, vitamin E, and water in a spray bottle. It works like a charm, but don’t use too much, or your hair will look greasy.

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Deodorant: I noticed with the last deodorant I bought that it won’t come off. It’s the same one, or so I thought, that I had been buying for years because I’m allergic to everything, so I don’t have any options. Turns out, the company turned this one into a 24 hour deodorant, which translates to: FOREVER! I had to scrub the heck out of my arm pits to get this stuff off, and I couldn’t shave till it was completely removed because all the junk gets stuck in my razor making it useless. (I can’t help but think of “Spray on shoes” from Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.) This is when I started researching deodorant and found out how unhealthy they are. As you can see from the photo above aluminum is linked to breast cancer, since we run the stuff onto our lymph nodes I see this being a huge problem! Parabens are linked to hormonal imbalance, and cancers. Companies that don’t use parabens are loud and proud! Propylene glycol (you’ll recognize this one from shampoo) can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and heart. Phthalates is linked to birth defects, and Triclosan is a pesticide, and may even be a carcinogen. That was enough for me to start searching out a natural alternative. I tried Toms, and It didn’t work. The Trader Joe’s brand is working fine, but I would like something that smells nice, the TJs one doesn’t have a scent at all. It also has sodium hydroxide, which is toxic and can effect the nervous system, and  triethanolamine which is linked to causing cancer. Sooooo looks like I’m making my own. This is the recipe that was recommended to me. I have an order in with Young Living (my cousin is a rep! Check out her blog) for essential oils, so once they arrive I will make this!

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  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (solid state)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (aluminum-free)
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or corn starch (organic!!!)
  • essential oils (optional)
This is my finished product! I used lavender essential oil for my first batch!
This is my finished product! I used lavender essential oil for my first batch!

***Of course the day AFTER I published this blog, my oils arrived and I was able to make my own deodorant! I am really impressed! The scent of my oils is very light, and amazingly it lasts! I only apply once a day. The biggest thing to get used to is that it is not an antiperspirant. You still sweat, but you’re not stinky. Also, I had been taking a step back from other deodorants for a few months, so, there is a possibility that I had already been adjusting to not using the chemicals, I was told that if you just stop using deodorant eventually your body figures out its job and you don’t need it at all. I had been only using my Dove if I was out in public all day, which is rare for a stay at home mom, otherwise I was using the Trader Joe’s brand… and more and more I opted for nothing at all. That being said, as with many of these home concoctions, there may be an adjustment period.

I made 2 batches, one I put in a jar, the second I poured into an empty deodorant container, then I put it in the fridge to harden. It's awesome!!! I used a tea tree oil blend, it smells very clean!
I made 2 batches, one I put in a jar, the second I poured into an empty deodorant container, then I put it in the fridge to harden. It’s awesome!!! I used a tea tree oil blend, it smells very clean!

Face Scrub: (3 ingredients) I have struggled with acne for years, I have tried so many things, it was an exhausting ride. Last year I found this recipe for an acne scrub on Pinterest that I modified to work for me and it works! Now I only get a little acne if I eat dairy (my guilty pleasure). Otherwise my skin is clear and happy and I was able to ditch all my other facial products, no more toner pads that stung, yucky smelling astringent that smelled so strongly I gagged,drying moisturizers (yeah, figure THAT one out), cleansers, masques or spot treatments! All you need is sugar, organic honey and a (squeezed) lemon. Just mix it together, add lots of sugar so its very scrubby, and I scrub it on it the shower and leave it for abut 5 minutes while I shave or whatever. I only use it a few times a week and it’s awesome. You can add olive oil or jojoba for some moisturizer also.

 

This is settled so the lemon juice is on top, but when mixed it's very thick. you want your lemon scrub to be very sugary otherwise it won't scrub.
This is settled so the lemon juice is on top, but when mixed it’s very thick. you want your lemon scrub to be very sugary otherwise it won’t scrub.

Facial Cleanser: (2-3 ingredients) If a scrub isn’t what you need for your skin, add baking soda and some jojoba to water in any kind of container you’d like (a bottle with a pump is easiest, I think, maybe your old facial cleanser bottle?). This cleanser does exfoliate, but very gently. You can always add essential oils if you want it to smell yummy!

Moisturizer (body/face): At this point do I have to explain why I’m avoiding lotions? think carcinogens, parabens and preservatives! I used to use Everyday Shea body lotion from Lassens, and I LOVED the scent, and it’s paraben free, gluten free, fair trade yadayada… but it has Phenoxyethanol which can effect your hormones, so I have been using coconut oil as a cleanser/moisturizer in one step! I know how weird that sounds, but at this point are you surprised? Why? Well, coconut oil has like 100 uses (seriously, google it) and a few of them make it appropriate as a cleanser. Coconut oil is a great shaving cream, moisturizer, and it kills candida  which is a yeast. (It also is a great sexual lubricant!) I also have been using it as a face and body moisturizer, but only a very light layer. I take a very small scoop into my hands and rub it till it liquifies, then apply to my face neck and body. Adding essential oils can make a big difference, coconut oil on its own has a ver light soothing scent, so you absolutely don’t need to add anything, but if you want a scent, go for it. Adding tea tree oil gives it an added cleansing boost, it’s very good for your skin, so is lavender.

There is an adjustment period, after you quit using lotion, the first week I didn’t feel as soft, and I felt like the oil wasn’t really absorbing, by week two I had noticed a very significant difference! Give your body the chance to adjust to the lack of chemicals

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Tooth Paste: There is a lot of crap in toothpaste, chemicals, fluoride (can be used as an insecticide, is linked to thyroid problems and neurological problems), silica (harms teeth) carcinogens… I’m not saying it’s all terrible, but continuous exposure day after day, year after year, I believe THAT is worth considering.

I have been using home made toothpaste for a few weeks, this recipe lasts about a week if you’re brushing twice a day (As you should be! And flossing once a day!) It doesn’t taste good, especially if you don’t use the stevia. It’s salty. So I like to use a (home made) mouth wash after. My teeth feel very clean, even without the foaming I was so accustomed to. After a few days I was used to my new toothpaste.

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  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 cup hydrogen peroxide (4%) <— optional
  • 1/4 tsp stevia (liquid or powder)<— I did not use stevia
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract

Mouth Wash: I wanted a mouthwash because I 1/2 C. aloe vera juice1/4 C. water 1tsp. witch hazel 1tsp. baking soda (aloe juice is GREAT for oral health, you can simply gargle and swish with it.)

Body Wash: I have ditched body wash and started using coconut oil instead. A little on a loofa goes a long way and you are so silky! The best part is that you won’t need to use a moisturizer when you get out of the shower! Why did I ditch the soap? Well, coconut oil can do the job, and I don’t know what’s in the soap I was using, but I have a few ideas… In the shower I get a scoop of coconut oil (if you whip your coconut oil it won’t harden when it’s cole, and if you have ever used coconut oil, you know it’s no fun to fight with it while it’s in it’s solid state), I rub it into my hands so it’s liquified, and then into my loofa, (I like to use the loofa so that I don’t rub on a thick layer of Coconut oil, then feel oily) scrub as usual, no there are no suds and bubbles, but you can see and feel where the oil is because you can see the water droplets. For my lady bits, and arm pits I use a very small amount, rubbing it into my hands the same way to liquify it, then apply. Then I shave, and rinse. No need to moisturizer after your shower, but if you still feel you need it, apply the coconut oil the same way but rubbing it into your hands first, then to the area you want to moisturize.

The first week or so, it didn’t really seem to absorb, but by week two my skin was drinking it up! People have always told me I am very soft, (random complement) and I am still just as soft, if not softer. I have been using coconut oil for shaving as well, and it is such a close shave!

This is just a jar of organic coconut oil that I keep next to my shower, I use it as a body wash, moisturizer and for oil pulling in the morning. There is usually a spoon next to it. If you are not oil pulling with your coconut oil you can add essential oils!
This is just a jar of organic coconut oil that I keep next to my shower, I use it as a body wash, moisturizer and for oil pulling in the morning. There is usually a spoon next to it. If you are not oil pulling with your coconut oil you can add essential oils!

Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is probably the routine that tipped me from having healthy habits to borderline obsessed. A few months ago one of my besties mentioned that she was oil pulling, I had looked into it before, but I thought it was SUPER weird. The fact that my friend was doing it, prompted me to reconsider. But the thought of doing it in the mornings deterred me. Finally after a few other friends mentioned giving it a shot, curiosity got the best of me, and I tried. It’s been 3 months and I have been oil pulling 5-7 days a week. I had no idea what to expect, my teeth are nice and clean, and I feel good, that could have to do with the fact that I brush my teeth… but the one thing I did not expect is that my dandruff would vanish. I have been struggling with dandruff since last summer, I never had issues before, and I don’t know where the issues came from, but I had switched to Wen (the conditioning cleanser you see on informercials), it did make my hair REALLY soft, but my scalp seemed to be worse. I tried vinegar, and head and shoulders and the only thing that “worked” (and by worked I mean “managed” it) was washing my hair all of the time. Within 2 weeks of oil pulling, I stopped getting dandruff! So, I’m hooked!

What is oil pulling? You wake up in the morning and before eating, drinking or brushing your teeth, you put 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil (there are other oil options but coconut seems less weird to me) into your mouth and you swish. Well, you’ll probably chew a little until it turns to liquid, then you swish for 20 minutes. Yup, TWENTY MINUTES. If I can do it with my embarrassingly sensitive gag reflex, then anyone can. After 20 minutes you spit it into your trash can. You don’t want to spit it down a drain because it’s full of toxins and coconut oil hardens when it’s cold, so you don’t want to ruin your pipes. Then rinse your mouth with salt water to make sure all the toxins are out, then you can brush as usual (with your home made tooth paste).

Why would you swish with coconut oil for twenty minutes? Well, apparently it’s an ancient practice, and the coconut oil pulls toxins from your mouth and naturally detoxifies your body. It whitens teeth, and clears up gingivitis, relieves headaches, it’s GREAT after a night when you’ve had too much to drink. Some people even say it energizes them and their metabolism has picked up.

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As you can see, I use coconut oil daily and it really is my go-to product. There are 50 plus uses for coconut oil, it is unreal that one “food” can be used for so much!

This picture was floating around Facebook. Be sure to use ORGANIC!
This picture was floating around Facebook. Be sure to use ORGANIC!
All the ingredients for laundry detergent!
All the ingredients for laundry detergent!

Laundry Detergent: Last year I made this laundry detergent from a recipe a friend gave me (that she had found on Pinterest, of course) It smells so clean and works amazingly! I still have plenty, over a year later because you only use 1-2 tablespoons. I have given samples to so many friends and most of them have gone out and made their own batches. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!

1 (4lb) box of borax
1(3lb) box of arm and hammer washing soda
1(3lb) container of oxy clean
2 (14.1oz) bars zote soap
1(4lb) box of arm and hammer baking soda
1-2(55oz) bottles of Purex crystals fabric softener
Grate the soap (grater or food processor) use fine side of grate into large mixing bowl. Mix well in 5 gallon bucket. Use 1-2 tbs per load. You can put the powder in the old Purex bottle and use the lid to measure it out so you’re not digging into the big bucket all of the time. (I like to store mine in empty Unstoppables containers, because I am obsessed with the lavender scented ones!)

My laundry necessities. I can't give up fabric softener or Unstoppables yet! But I made the detergent thanks to an awesome recipe on Pinterest!
My laundry necessities. I can’t give up fabric softener or Unstoppables yet! But I made the detergent thanks to an awesome recipe on Pinterest!

Eye Makeup Remover: 1 tbs Vitamin E, 2oz olive oil, 2 oz witch hazel Fits perfectly in a clean and empty spice jar from Trader Joes! I have not started making my own makeup, but I am at least cleaning it off with out chemicals!

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Home made cleaners: You can use hydrogen peroxide to clean just about everything. So stick a sprayer in the hydrogen peroxide bottle and get cleaning! Or use dish soap and vinegar (in water) for kitchen and bathroom cleaning. You can leave it on stains then come back and rinse it off. The vinegar smell does go away fast.

Glass Cleaner:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 2 to 3 drops Dawn Dish Soap
  • Empty Spray Bottle

If you’re not into DIY cleaners, I suggest Melaleuca products. I love them and have used them on and off for years. I have peace of mind that if my kiddos get a hold of my cleaners, they won’t go blind, or die.

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So, that’s all I’ve got so far, I will update this in a few months and let you know how it’s all going. As of now, I am really enjoying my projects and my husband thinks I’m nuts. Really, he’s like, “Where did the soap go? Coconut oil? That’s not soap, that’s food… Are we out of shampoo? No I’m not putting baking soda in my hair, that’s for baking. I need REAL deodorant, I’m  a man. I think you’re becoming a hippy. Are you gonna stop shaving?” I’m just slowly switching things out hoping he’ll accept it, just kidding. But really, the coconut oil is growing on him, men have to put up a fight, it’s in the DNA. To be fair, I had read about No Poo long before actually doing it, same with a lot of these things. I think we come around when we are ready, so it’s OK if you are on my hubby’s team thinking I’ve gone nuts, and I don’t judge anyone who uses Crest toothpaste, or Dove deodorant, just like I don’t judge anyone who eats a hamburger or GMOs. I’m just sharing.

I want to say a thank you to Candace who convinced me to oil pull, Alexis who started the No Poo journey with me, if she hadn’t started, I don’t know if I would have done it! My cousin Hannah for being way crunchier than us and having answers to all of my no poo related questions. (Having  crunchy friends makes doing these crazy things THAT much more fun!) And the biggest THANK YOU to my amazing patient husband, James who is putting up with all of this.

One year later! Read my update! Talk Hippy To Me (a year of No Poo)

I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself

I remember very distinctly, about 9 years ago, standing in a car port in the middle of the night smoking a cigarette watching my best friend drive away. He had just essentially broken up with me. (It’s not what you think, he’s gay, so when I say best friend, I do mean a completely platonic friendship.) As his tail lights vanished around a corner I marveled in the realization that someone who I felt was just as fucked up as me… if not MORE fucked up than me, had actually called me out. He had driven 20 miles to tell me that he was worried for me, and it hurt him to see me self destruct.

I took one last puff, dropped my cigarette on the concrete, stepped on it and walked away. I didn’t think much about the conversation, not one red flag shot out at me, I was so deep in a sick and toxic place I couldn’t see love when it looked me in the eyes. I had to hit rock bottom. I didn’t know it yet, but the next 2 years would be the hardest, scariest and darkest days of my life.

Looking back I wish I had really heard what he said to me, I wish it had sunk in and impacted my decisions, but it didn’t. Over the years I have not forgotten his words, so I suppose they were waiting for me to hear them.

Believe it or not, I did learn something from that moment. You cannot help someone who is not willing to help themselves. There is one thing you can do: LOVE. And sometimes love means letting go, particularly if it hurts you when you watch someone you love circle the drain. My friend let go, but he never left. He just refused to be my savior anymore. No more drunken 2am phone calls to pick me up from who-knows-where. No more holding my hair over the toilet while I cried and apologized, promising this would be the last time. He couldn’t do it anymore.

I have this friend whom I love deeply. She’s one of my oldest friends and closest. For the last few years I have watched her destroy every chance of happiness, and every opportunity for love that has crossed her path. It is like she intentionally chose the worst, least compatible, controlling, and twisted man. And god forbid anyone points it out. If you do, be prepared for her to do something to rub it in your face, like, for instance, she secretly married him. Knowing he has anger issues, knowing he’s abusive, knowing he is a terrible parent, knowing he has no respect for women, having heard him call her two best friends c**ts, experiencing him stalk her and harass her… She married him. She didn’t tell anyone, because when you do something so effing stupid why the hell would you tell anyone? The crazy part is she thought she could keep it hidden. The sad part is I am her best friend and she lied for months. Looking back I’m realizing how many times she lied to me. She knew I didn’t approve so she hid her relationship, her pregnancy, her wedding…

And you know what? I was there through EVERYTHING. I never let go, every time a lie came out I let it roll off my back, I forgave her because that’s what you do when you love someone. But the lying never stopped. Another lie came out today. I thought we were done with this, her divorce is almost final, she has a new life, a boyfriend who loves her so completely, who flipped his entire life upside down to accommodate her, and she sabotaged it. And for the last 3 years, her lies have all revolved around this jackass. At some point you have to see that HE is a problem!!!

Just 7 months ago friend’s of mine bent over backwards to help her get into a safe place, get back on her feet, and take control of her life, this is not the first time someone had to save her… and evidently it’s not the last considering recent developments. I’m tired. I’m hurt. But how do I keep making excuses? I have been excusing her behavior for years.

This part of me feels like I owe her. She stuck around while I was living my life in ways she didn’t approve. She’s been there, she’s been my alibi too many times to count, she’s come to the rescue when I’m in over my head… but the difference is that I am honest with her. If I do something stupid, I own it, in fact, chances are I’m telling her about it before I do it! I don’t hide things from her. Because friends are supposed to be honest with each other. Wether we agree with the other person, or not.

So maybe I’m hurt that she doesn’t feel like she can be honest with me. I know… I’m opinionated. Outspoken. I don’t think before I speak… ever. But I don’t care how stupid you are, if I love you I love you.

And I love her. It’s time for her to help herself. Maybe she doesn’t want to be happy? Maybe she can’t see the big picture, the people she’s hurting, the innocent little girl that is tagging along while her mother is too busy messing up their lives. I don’t know, but… if you’re reading this: I can’t help you until you help yourself.

 

Nature Vs Nurture

In high school before reading Lord of the Flies we had the “Nature Vs. Nurture” debate and I was die hard Nature. I believed deeply that we are innately good, despite my Christian upbringing. (If you are Christian, you more likely believe that man is evil, and must make the conscious choice to do “good”) As an adult, and a parent I am considering that both are important. I still believe we are born good, that our hearts are pure, and we are effected by circumstance. But I believe we are who we are. Do circumstances effect a person? Change them? Yes, but I believe we already have a blueprint, so to speak, so we still react based on our personality.

For instance, I’ll give you three girls, all three grew up in the same church (you guessed it, ICOC), all three lived in loving Christian homes, they went to the same schools and all three were molested. To keep things interesting let’s name them: Gemini, Aquarius and Pisces.

Gemini never really fit in anywhere, and she over ate and wore baggy clothes as to not attract sexual attention. She was mean to other kids, and angry. Mostly she was sad, but didn’t feel like she could show it. She eventually began using and selling drugs. After a few rounds of rehab, she is clean and happy, working and going to school. She has a huge heart, and is comfortable with her body and her sexuality. She has a higher power.

Aquarius tried to talk, but was hushed repeatedly, eventually she stopped talking. She felt ashamed of her body because of the kind of attention it attracted, she threw herself into extracurricular activities. She became too busy to feel. She is now on the road to entrepreneurship, she has her own business, sings and doesn’t let anyone push her around. She still has faith.

Pisces plastered a smile on her face in public, and was overly friendly to everyone, she never wanted anyone to think she wasn’t OK. At home she hid behind her books, and escaped in other worlds so she wouldn’t have to deal with reality. She can’t handle injustice and calls people on their shit. She wants to save everyone from pain, and is empathetic to a fault. She can’t stand churches of any kind, but truly believes the best in people.

You see, all three girls reacted in their own way, even though they each went through the same thing. They each found a way to escape: drugs, work, and fantasy. I see this as proof that we are who we are.

If it wasn’t obvious, Hi, I’m Pisces. I have been hurt deeply in my life, just as Gemini, Aquarius, and so many others were, and still I see good in people, I trust WAY too quickly, I want to believe you. I feel connections to people almost instantly. I also instantly know if I do not like someone, and I can usually figure out what sign they are based on my uneasy feeling. I feel it is my mission to help people, and I have passion out to wazoo. I also have a really hard time taking criticism, and admitting I’m wrong feels like I’m swallowing a flaming sword.

I’m telling you all that to show how individual I am, because you may be a Pisces, and you may be thinking, “Well astrology is BS because I’m not like you, Justine. I am shy and quiet, and I go with the flow. I have had less than 3 sexual partners, and I keep my opinions to myself because I don’t like drama.” Of course not every Pisces is gonna be a clone of the next Pisces. I think that people get that impression about astrology. You see, different people have different coping skills and personality traits that may have been passed through genetics, or maybe it goes deeper? I have always connected with astrology, my birth chart (not to be confused w the horoscope you find in the newspaper) is insanely accurate, my parenting, love, emotions and life mission are spot on. Just bear with me, I know you think it’s a bunch of crap, but I have a point. I want to show you my blueprint.

I am going to stick with the super basics so I don’t lose you. So I’ll show you 4 of my twelve signs, the 4 that seem to me to really build a personality.

Sun sign: Your sun sign is your birth sign, mine is Pisces. So that’s super basic, a typical Pisces is emotional, absorbs others emotions, good or bad, can be a sucker for anyone who needs help. Can be gullible and shy, dreamy, romantic. Gets easily lost in their own fantasy world. Pisces can be airheads, and pretty temperamental. A Pisces mother has a deep connection with their children, she is a nurturer and may spoil her children. Most of that is true about me, however, most Pisces can relate to the first level, but we may feel there is so much more? In my case, where is the out-spoken passionate fighter?

Rising Sign: Your rising sign is the mask you wear in public. It is usually someone’s first impression of you. Mine is Cancer. Cancer risings like to be in a familiar place, and get uncomfortable in new places, they are cautious and conservative, gentle and giving. Cancer risings are nurturers. Overly sensitive to criticism. If you just met me (not having read my blog because my blog totally blows my sweet sensitive water sign’s cover) you would probably think these things about me. More so when I was younger, as I’ve aged I have actually started to embrace my moon sign more. In fact, people who I have reconnected with over the years always ask, “Where did the quiet little Justine go?” She found her voice, it was hiding in her moon sign.

Moon sign: The moon sign is the main reason people with the same sun sign can be so different. Your moon sign is your emotions. It’s the way you intuitively react to things. Mine is Aries, after reading my blogs and seeing so much of my fiery side, you were probably surprised my sun sign is Pisces! “Aries Moons are headstrong, aggressive and may be difficult to control. They do best if they can find a physical outlet for their emotions” An Aries moon is a fighter when emotions are aroused, they have a hair trigger to specific stimuli, and will just unload everything (verbally). They act before they think, which can get them into trouble. They have quite a temper, but surprisingly do not hold grudges. Their moods change quickly and have an extremely strong and forceful personality. I can relate to all of that, however, I do have my peaceful water signs that will sometimes come in and drown my fire, and because I am intuitive, when I am around other people who are happy, I will be happy and keep my moon to myself.

Mercury sign: Your mercury is the way you communicate. Some people have absolutely no communication skills, others are very factual. Some people only say what needs to be said. My Mercury is in Pisces, so my thought process is not logical at all, it’s emotional. I think with my feelings and imagination, I trust my intuition and tend to reject ideas that are based on logic. This is where I am thankful to have a husband who is a “true” Virgo. Five of his twelve signs are Virgo, including his sun, rising and moon. So you can just imagine our discussions, I’m all emotional, and he’s totally factual.

Now that you have little understanding of a birth chart, you can see where I am going with this. My nature is quite literally written in the stats. Just as Gemini’s nature, and Aquarius’s nature were written in the stars. Having grown up in the same neighborhood, attending the same church and school, we each responded differently to the same situations.

Don’t get me wrong, I think nurture plays a huge part in self esteem and bonding, and I do believe that the way a child is raised has an effect on who they become. I have three kids who couldn’t be more different, or more like their charts. In children I can see even more how nurture plays an important role in becoming who you are, but I also see that each child is so individual and requires their own brand of nurture. I believe that abuse and neglect have a lasting effect on a person, I just also believe we all deal with it the way we are cosmically built to respond and cope.

I do not know about people who are inherently “bad”. I think we all have the capability to latch on to the negatives, to ignore our basic intuition and turn off the good. We all have some darkness, even in our charts (that is much deeper, I’ll save that for another blog), and we can in a sense, nurture the darkness. I know a little boy who gets angry very easily. You can see it on his face, his face gets red, veins pop out of his temples, he will scream and yell, hit and kick, as if he isn’t able to control himself. This behavior, and reaction to things like, lack of control over his toys has diminished since his parents began talking very calmly, reminding him to count to ten, and giving him space when he is upset. He may always struggle with anger, but I think as a child, if the people in his life are patient and loving, and still give him limits and boundaries, including ways to let his anger out, he can grow up into a well mannered man with self control. I also worry about the type of man he could become if his anger is not addressed in a healthy way. I know men who were like him as children, it’s a scary thought. I can relate, granted I am not violent, but I can be explosive when I am angry. Mixing the Aries moon with the Pisces Mercury can be a very noisy tear-filled argument, and while there will be times when I will lose it, I have had to learn to control myself. Other people do not deserve my acid tongue.

This all may sound like hocus pocus to you, but this is just me making sense of life, and people. I cannot look at my children and see evil. I see good, love, innocence, beauty, curiosity and silliness. While sometimes they may disobey, or fall out of line, I don’t see the devil in them, I see a kid who needs a reminder, maybe a hug, but certainly no evil. I guess my point is that we should nurture nature.

 

*I use Always Astrology for birth charts you can find yours here: http://www.alwaysastrology.com/birth-chart-calculator.html of what I wrote are things I already know from studying astrology over the years, but I particularly like this website for refreshers.

F.Y.I

 

Welcome!

I’m  just writing a “welcome” blog now for 2 reasons:

1. A lot of people recently registered to this blog, and since I have no “website building skills”, there is a lot you wouldn’t know about this website unless you’ve been following me for the last year or so.

2. Things have changed recently, and I feel I should address those changes. (Yes, I’m referring to the cult)

HELLO

Hi, My name is Justine and I started blogging because I needed a place to pour out my heart. As a mother, step-mother, wife, health coach and writer, my hands were very full, my time extremely limited, and the ‘vacations” I require in my head to write or read were diminishing. Making a commitment to this blog was a commitment to myself.

You will notice that in the beginning my blogs were centered completely around health and parenting. As I have become more comfortable, I have written more personal and therapeutic posts.

HEALTH and PARENTING

Half of you are here because you are on the road to health, or you’re a parent and *hopefully* felt refreshed by my candor on the struggles with parenting. I have no shame in saying that my pregnancy was a bitch, I hated every minute of it, and think labor is the most disgusting experience of my life. I have no desire to repeat either endeavor, therefore, my tubes are tied. I was blessed with 2 amazing step children, whom, along with my daughter and my husband complete me. They inspired me to get healthy, you see I was “skinny fat”, and over the last few years have made the life style change and commitment to eating whole, real, non-GMO and preferably organic food. This was a huge change for my husband and my step-son and step-daughter (and the in-laws) *See my blog for details: http://healthymama.net/fast-food-fight/ * but it has made a huge difference in our energy, attitudes and certain behavior issues we were having with one of our little rascals.

***I used to be associated with a health company, however it would seem they do not appreciate blogs about their products so I am removing all information pertaining to this company. I apologize, it appears I was not in “compliance” when I posted that my husband and I had no wedding debt thanks to “this company”(…. It’s true, I made $9,000 in a couple months which paid for our wedding.)

THE CULT

The other half of you… actually at this point maybe more than half of you are here because you read one or more of my blogs about the International Church of Christ (ICC)/ International Christian Churches (ICC). I want to start this subject by saying that I never imagined my little blog could cause such a stir. Upon writing the first blog about my past with the ICOC, “Because The Bible Says So” * http://healthymama.net/lets-make-parenting-less-of-a-dictatorship/  * Some feathers were ruffled, but all in all, it was not a big deal, so MONTHS later… maybe a year later, I wrote “So… I Grew Up In A Cult…” * http://healthymama.net/so-i-grew-up-in-a-cult/ * and holy WOW! Facebook blew up (I am friends with a lot of members and former members) I started getting lots of emails and tons of views on this particular post. The emails were (mostly) people saying Thank-You for being the voice of those who were burned so badly by the ICOC. I had no intention or writing another blog on the subject until I was accused of lying, and to back me up, and to gain closure, a few people asked me to share their stories, too.  Although I’m a Pisces (typically a go with the flow kind of person) my moon (emotions) is in Aries, which is code for: I’m a stubborn f*ck. So, being accused of lying only ignited my Aries emotion. The more I was challenged, the more my fire was fueled. After a few weeks of compiling stories and quotes, I posted “Queen of the Damned (Recovering from Cult Life)” *http://healthymama.net/queen-of-the-damned-recovering-from-cult-life/ * and this one has been read over 1,000 times, in less than 5 days. Which is insanity to me, but, I’ll be honest, I get it. Not only was I validating hundreds of people’s pain and suffering, I evidently struck a chord with current members. If someone else had written it, I would have been sharing it all over Facebook and Twitter saying “OMG! Someone gets it! Someone else feels the way I do! See, I’m not crazy!!!”

I want you to know something, I am proud to be the voice of former Kingdom Kids. I wish someone had stepped out a long time ago, because I needed this fellowship to heal. I have decided to take my role a little further. I have started a Facebook page called ICOC Recovery *https://www.facebook.com/icocrecovery * and I encourage you to “like” the page so we can start some healthy dialogue. If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, feel free to private message me. I am here for you. I believe it is my calling to be support for people in need (there is that Pisces nature), if you need to tell your story, TELL ME. (I only posted stories that people specifically asked me to publish) If you need help getting out, I will help. If you disagree with me and want to tell me how the ICOC/ICC is the only way to god, go for it. I enjoy a healthy debate.

I have definitely had my character attacked by people in one of these organizations in order to discredit me, and I fully understand. They are scared. Their church is young, made up of young impressionable (sheeple) people, and I know from experience that they don’t want me to shake their young one’s faith with my facts, memories and reasons. It must be scary to see a little fish make such a huge wave, especially when you’re trying to rule the pond.

I want to make it clear here that I don’t believe in god, but I don’t consider myself a soul-less heathen. My heart is good, and I know it can be hard for Christians to see good in someone who doesn’t believe same way, it’s OK. I won’t lose sleep if you condemn me to hell. Just bear in mind, I know The Bible (as my best friend said, “You give her a book, she’ll read it!”) and YOU can’t condemn me to anywhere, Jesus said. If you are curious to know my personal spiritual views, click here * http://healthymama.net/the-god-thing/ * I also want to make it clear that I am an LGBT advocate, and I do not tolerate racism, sexism, bigotry or hate.  I believe in love, and I hope for everyone to find their other half, regardless of race, color or sex. Love is love, and it is beautiful. For more on this, read “Stop! Hating is bad” * http://healthymama.net/stop-hating-is-bad/ *

I hope this has cleared things up, and I am working on making some sort of an archive for all 60-ish blogs, and to make this website easier to navigate. If any of you happen to be tech savvy, I would love some help 😉

****If you are reading this because you have had a similar experience, have history with the ICOC/ICC, or you need help leaving, I am going to post some resources here for you. Free to email me at isahealthymama@yahoo.com or find my “recovery page” on facebook www.facebook.com/icocrecovery Here are a few blogs and websites from people who have left the ICOC/ICC and have shared their experiences and knowledge:

http://www.reveal.org/ <— This page has the truth about the ICOC.
http://www.spiritualpornography.com/ <— Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate, she named it Spiritual Pornography because that’s what Kip McKean called it when you read anything negative about the church. They post information it might be harder to find, such as Kip’s (supposed) resignation, and letters written to the church.

http://henrykriete.com/ <— Here you can read what REALLY happened with Henry Kriete and his family.
http://ministeriolatino.blogspot.com/ <—- Here you can read a blog from a former member of Kip’s current church (City of Angels International Church of Christ). He has written actually experiences between himself and Kip, AND other “leaders”. A very interesting read. He came across my blog and actually recognized someone I had written about (I kept it confidential).
http://www.tolc.org/ <—- Here you can read Henry Kriete’s letter and other letters written to the church. You can also click “debate” and you will be transferred to http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/main.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&nav=start&prettyurl=%2FICCdiscussion%2Fstart where you can interact with current and former members.

 

Queen of the Damned (Recovering from Cult Life)

When I posted my last two blogs about my experience in the ICOC (http://healthymama.net/?p=356 and http://healthymama.net/?p=38), I did not expect the backlash… although it amused me… Nor did I expect to have so many emails from former Kingdom Kids and ex ICOC members saying “THANK YOU!” To be honest I didn’t expect this particular blog to be read 133 times in one day, or 100 + times every following day for a week or so. That has never happened before, and I wrote them for my own benefit, I felt like I needed to. As I read through the stories and emails my mom called me “Queen of the Damned” I am a huge Anne Rice fan, so I was flattered, but upon considering what she meant, the title rang true. We are the damned, at least according to “The Church” and as far as I am concerned, they damned us. Some people who are members of at least one of the churches have forbidden their members from reading these blogs, they called them lies. I’m afraid I have news for you: First, I don’t have any reason to lie, secondly, if you continue reading you will see that this has not only been MY pain, so many others where hurt like me, WORSE than me. Saying I am lying is only giving me more incentive to keep writing. If you REALLY thought I was lying, you wouldn’t be afraid of your congregation reading this. You would not be worried that what I say may ring true… Maybe instead you would see my pain and you would take a good hard look at your church and make damn sure that you do not do it again. Look at me and see YOUR children. See every Kingdom Kid that turned their back on these churches, NOT because we were “godless sinners”, but because we were broken, over and over again. Remember when you split apart my family because I had a voice, because I didn’t conform. I am not the only one. Dozens of people have shared their stories with me, and a few have asked me to share their stories here. To be their voice.

Something so empowering happened as I read the messages, former Kingdom Kids telling me how they thought they were the only ones who felt the way I do, that they couldn’t talk to anyone because no one else understands. Here are just a few responses I have had so far:

***I am keeping these relatively anonymous, even the current and former ICOC/ICC leaders and regions will be kept private in this post, some of the things you will read are still happening***

“So I just read your blog and it kinda really touched home for me. … and honestly I want to thank you for you voice because I was in the early stages of being completely sober and I was starting to find myself when I was found by this new church ICC (Kip’s) and I was actually happy before I started going and now I just feel like everything I do is wrong. I can’t say no again, they make me feel guilty when I do. My clothes are “bad” all this bullshit. I cant speak up and its honestly the same shit like when was in the teens all over again….. I’ve been trying to fall away and its so crazy because apart of me still believes its black and white, heaven or hel …. and I don’t even know if I believe or if I just feel the guilt… I feel obligated to be there because they tell me that’s what God says. They want me to get a divorce, they told me to fast and pray about it. I thought the Bible says divorce is wrong? Our leader gave me a curfew. If I miss “one meeting of the body” they say I am in sin, and I’m in sin if I can’t tithe and they want to know everything I do with my money. When I noticed some shady shit I talked about it and they told me I was in sin! But they look the other way! They prey on college students, they want them to quit school or their jobs if it interferes with 3-4 church meetings a week, but we still have to tithe. And they don’t want me to spend time with my friends who are not in the church! If I had not read your blog, I don’t know what I would do, but now I see that it is wrong, and I felt it in my stomach that this place is bad.”

“Growing up a Kingdom kid was hell for Me Just like most of us. .. In my experience not only did I not have a voice I was going through my own battle … not knowing it I was suffering from bipolar disorder … Always being told everything I was doing was wrong, that my feelings condemned me to hell and feeling ashamed for the way I felt. It drove me crazy, I mean really crazy …. I am choosing not to go in to detail about my childhood due to the fact I dont want to re-live it at this time. Being a kingdom kid drove me to a life of doubt confusion, I couldn’t trust anyone. Now as an adult, found myself lost and still holding on to my teachings from when I belonged to the ICOC still living with the fear of going to hell because of the life I live so when I ran in to an old friend I wanted to believe that this new found church (Kips church ICC) was different… It’s not different, Teen, it’s worse. They are obsessed with tithe and have a double standard. When I confronted my leaders on sin that I saw, I was told that it’s not my place to say anything. I eventually went directly to Kip Mc Kean, and do you know what he said? That my leader is Mexican, and has a different style of teaching, and etiquette, and because he is my leader I need to respect and submit to him. He knows there are problems in the (*blank*), Region but he’s choosing not to do shit about it! I felt like I was back in a nightmare. No one will listen to me, it’s like I’m the only one that sees people sleeping around, dressing inappropriately, and being two-faced hypocrites. The same people that I have seen living double lives are the same people who told me that I was in sin for liking the link you posted of your blog, which speaks the truth, that I better take it down because I am going to hell and I am making these poor kids who are dropping out of college because they are being brainwashed, struggle. They are struggling because they know it’s true, too!”

Reading these words my heart sank. It confirmed rumors I had heard about the new church, and poured salt on my already very open wounds. Everything she said rang so true to me, because it’s nothing I had not heard before. If I wasn’t the victim, then someone else I knew had been through it. As a teen when I would bring up inconsistencies between The Bible and the church’s rules, or at least the Teen Ministry’s rules, I was told that I was in sin, that I was causing dissention. I was told not to ask questions. Looking back I see that these “leaders” did not have the answers, so they preferred that we didn’t think.

“I just read your blog…I FUCKIN LOVE IT!!! No truer words have ever been spoken. I have to put it all down too! As the acid from those years still eats away at my soul. Thank you Justine…everyone should know the truth and you are, if not the best one of the best people to speak on it. Speak on it…forever! They fucked me up good too! Anyways, thanks for opening up those old wounds, I guess I need to mend em up a little better this time, lol.”

A common theme, I “opened old wounds”. I know. As I wrote I cried. Just because it’s easy to say, doesn’t mean it doesn’t pour salt on my own wounds. I have established in previous blogs that I process out loud… does this count? I think it has taken this long for me to realize that SOMEONE has to talk about it, and who better than me? Let’s heal together.

“Thanks for sharing, Justine! I’ve suppressed so much of it- if not all of it. Reading your posts brings back so many (bad) memories! It was so suffocating, forced and controlling. I’ve made it my goal to never feel that way again, or subject my children to anything that would make them feel that way.”

Over the years as I have run into ex members of ICOC and grown up Kingdom Kids, and many have since become parents, most of them have expressed concern over raising their own children the way Kingdom Kids were raised. A lot of the teen leaders at the time didn’t have kids, so they didn’t think twice about what they were telling us, but when they began having children of their own, they realized that it wasn’t OK. As a parent myself, and a former Kingdom Kid, I have to say it does help me, even the slightest bit to hear these apologies, to be validated.

Dating in the church was a very strange situation, I’ll let my friend tell her experience:

“There is so much I can say about my experiences with that “church”, but I’m going to talk about my horrible “love” story. Let’s see I must of been 13, not baptized yet when I met this boy at a pre-teen/teen event, I fell for him instantly. It would be a few years before we both went through the intense process of the study of “kip’s notebook” and then getting baptized, but after we were both disciples, we were allowed, and encouraged to go on “dates”. I didn’t just go on dates with him of course, I had to say yes to any “brother” that wanted to go on a date with me whether I wanted to or not. Finally, he works on becoming my boyfriend, which means he proved that he was godly enough to date, and lead spiritually. He asked me out on New Years Eve in a room full of friends and teen leaders. Once we are officially boyfriend and girlfriend it was like a dream come true, a dream that would turn into a nightmare. I cannot express how happy I was. I was so in-love with this kid, I can’t even think of the right words to explain how in love I was, everyone that was around knows how I felt about him. The two of us became lab rats that were put on pedestals in a bazaar cult universe. Not much changed in our relationship once we were official, except I no longer had to go on dates with other brothers, (woo hoo!), and we held hands. We never even kissed! I didn’t care at the time, I was just happy and in love. But when I say we were lab rats, this is what I mean: We were each told, separately of course, to wait to kiss until the other kissed first, completely eliminating kissing all together. In fact once at a wedding he kissed my cheek (my effin cheek!) while saying goodbye, then was rebuked by a leader waiting outside. Example of being on a pedestal: once we were dating, we became like teen royalty. We lead prayers together. I had to start speaking at teen events more, which I hated, and I’m not a public speaker! It was like they were turning us into the example they wanted everyone else to follow, but we just had to do what we were told. If we deviated at all, we were rebuked. Even so, I was happy, I was the only one in our region with a boyfriend, and I really thought this was forever… then the “church” rips out my hearts and puts it in a blender and makes me flick the on switch! Long story short they made me break up with a kid I had been in love with for years just to hide the real story… We still are unaware of the true story, I know he had gotten himself in some sort of trouble with the police…. I didn’t find out till a few years later that he hadn’t cheating on me, however, they told me that he had been cheating and then acted like I had a choice on whether to break up with him, or not. Obviously, I had to… they didn’t actually give us real choices. We either obey, or we get rebuked.

I made the decision to “fall away” shortly after, not because of my broken heart, but because I got a job and was so excited to give a tithe and when I gave my hard earned money I was asked for my pay-stub… Because of course god wants to make sure I calculated my 10% right, before taxes! Leaving was so eye opening and heart breaking at the same time. My dad acted like he respected my decision then later came into my room, threw a bible at me and told me “I’m a dog who eats his own vomit!”  Even my discipler (whom I loved) turned her back on me, I remember her asking me if I had been having sex. Like, I must be having sex if I don’t want to be a part of this madness anymore. Here I am alone, my family is shunning me, I just ended it with a boy who I loved so much, I hadn’t seen any of my friends in a couple months (I was not allowed to have friendships outside the church, so once I left I had no friends) and the person I look up to, now thinks I’m all of a sudden sexually active (with the boy I was just told was cheating on me and had to break up with) just because I fell away.  To say the least that was a lot for my sixteen year old self to deal with.”

I remember this happening, I was friends with them, close friends with both of them, and I remember how confusing and eventually painful it was for both of them. After she was forced to break up with him, she was forbidden to speak with him. She wasn’t able to ask him what happened, she was left to wonder, and be hurt, for years. Luckily they did reconnect years later, they were finally able to dissect what they had been through, and recover.

“This is freakin amazing! There were so many things I didn’t know how to put into words because I was so young! And the fact that when I tried to speak no one would listen because there was so much secrecy I don’t think anyone knew how to REALLY deal with issues. I know from the “brainwashing” it took me years to be able to communicate with my mom and family about the sexual abuse I encountered there as well as many other things. The worst part about it is that when I was at pierce college I ran into a “church club” that I thought would be fun to join and it was icoc run! Like wth? I ran out as soon as I could. It was like the freakin twilight zone.”

This particular message requires an explanation, while I knew some of the things that went on in the ICOC were bad, some of us were molested:

“My mom started attending the LACC after a guy saw her attempting to read The Bible and invited her to a bible study. She seemed super excited to go since she was looking for God. I was about 3 years old. That’s when I pretty much started going to the LACC, enrolled in all the children’s activities, camps and classes my mom could get me and my siblings in. Now, when I was a little girl I had extreme nightmares and would see creatures. I suffered extreme paranoia and anxiety. Whenever I would tell my class leaders at LACC they looked at me like I was crazy! They tried to hush me from “influencing the other kids” as well as talking to my mom about the things I would say as it if were a behavioral problem. From that point on I learned to keep things to myself. It always seemed as if you weren’t supposed to talk about your problems. When you tried to get help you were shunned or rebuked. This became a problem when I was 12 years old. I went through puberty quickly and my mom thought it was a good idea to move me up to the “teen ministry”. A family came over for bible study one night with a 14 year old boy who was interested in me. From this point on I was pushed to go out and spend time with him and whenever he called I was told to answer, be nice, and tell him that I loved him! It was ridiculous. After about 6 months of us being together he verbally and emotionally abused me, cheated on me with multiple others girls and I was still told I was treating him disrespectfully. We dated on and off for 2 years. I tried to speak about it, but no one wanted to hear. After that ended multiple guys in the teen ministry tried to “talk to me” while making it seem (to the leaders) as if they were trying to be brothers to me and watch out for me. Two of these guys were 18 years old and I was still in Jr High. One of them sexually abused me for months and then disappeared out of nowhere. I was so used to being quiet I never even told any of the leaders. They didn’t seem to want to know; I was just another number in the congregation. The numbers only mattered to them when you were quiet and didn’t make waves. I never did, but they pretty much excommunicated my sister and my dad. They had questions, they lived life how they wanted to. I remember the teen ministry having teen bible studies at my families house and whispering to my mom that I was allowed to participate but my sister could not and that my dad couldn’t come downstairs. That was nonsensical! How can you ask to use our home for a bible study and request half my family to not be present? LACC divided my family, they forced me into relationships of abuse that make it difficult for me now to communicate properly in a loving relationship. I’ve read the bible more than once and large part of their actions and teachings are not supported in there at all. I did not feel love there, community, peace, or comfort. They made up rules as they saw fit and destroyed my life along the way. If it wasn’t for the loving people I have in my life now that actually try to be Christ like I would have killed myself, because the majority of my life up to 2 years after I left that church I was severely suicidal with no self esteem.”

It hurts me because this young lady is like a sister to me, and I am so sad to know these things were happening, and that she didn’t feel like she could be honest, because from the time she was little, she was shushed when she spoke her truths. I do find it interesting that Christian churches tend to blow off the idea of seeing spirits or demons, even though these things supposedly happened often in The Bible. It is so important to bring children up in a loving and safe environment, and when you are a part of these churches, they do become your family, they say “It takes a village to raise a child”, well this village fucked up quite a few children. I know as a fact that this girl’s mother knew her children saw “things” ghosts of some sort, I know because she herself suffered from the same thing when she was younger, one of the reasons she is so spiritual now, to protect herself and her family from this curse. I also know that her older sister saw them too. How wrong that she wasn’t validated from such a young age, what does that teach children? That adults are not to be trusted. That no one cares. Who cares if these Kid’s Kingdom teachers didn’t believe in spirits? Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Speaking of which, let’s address the molestation, you didn’t see it? Well no kidding, these things happen behind closed doors, in whispers. Who’s job was it to protect her? Well, her parents thought that YOU were, her parents TRUSTED YOU.

She was not the only child who was molested while our families devoted their lives to the ICOC:

“All I had ever known was ICOC. Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Bible studies at my house, bibles on the bedside tables; this was my life and I trusted it fully. I had no reason not too. I loved being a kingdom kid… until I started to think for myself. Keep in mind I left the church when drugs became more important. (Age 12) Before that I was protected from a lot of what was going on behind the scenes. There are two examples that come to the forefront of my mind when I think about past pain. I was a kingdom kid that had the will to be the best for God. I prayed all the time. I was taught not to make a wish on shooting stars but say a prayer instead. I was pure at this point and the only prayer I had was for my mom to repent and come back to the church. I did not what her to die and go to Hell. I would lay awake at night wondering if I was going to hell. I knew my mom would if we all died today but would I also? I started lying at a very young age. I had too. My babysitter’s daughter on a daily basis was molesting me. I was 5. She was 7 or 8. She was a kingdom kid too. At age 7 I was again molested by a babysitter while in the care of ICOC members. I couldn’t tell a soul. I was 7. I had no idea what was being done to me. Trust that I know now and no longer shame myself for it (no thanks to the church.)

By age 11 I wanted to study the bible. All of my friends were going into the teen ministry and I was in the pre-teens. I did not care how old I was, I knew the difference between right and wrong and I wanted to do the right thing. That was enough for me. Apparently it was not enough for ICOC. I was 12 when the church assigned me a discipleship partner. I couldn’t wait to get started on the studies! I wanted to be baptized so bad! The night of my first study I couldn’t wait. I paced the floor waiting for my disciple to pick me up. We were going to go to Starbucks. I had my bible and my notebook ready to go. We sat down and I began to open my journal to write down my first set of directions when she stopped me. She spent the next hour telling me that I was not in any condition to be a disciple. She suggested that I work very hard on loosing weight because God does not save the gluttonous. I was to fat to be a disciple in ICOC. With every word she spoke a crack formed around my spirituality. I was the first time that I stopped believing. I stayed in the church for another year but never attempted to become a part of it. In 2000 the church put on a Christmas performance put on by the kingdom kids. I had no interest in performing but we were all encouraged to try out for vocals. I sat in the back with my feet up doodling in a notebook when my name was called. Up to this point, you only sang in front of the church if you were a leaders kid or a professional. My name was called so I put down my notebook and made my way to the front of the auditorium. I took a deep breath and began with the first stanza of Silent Night. The room went silent. As I finished I looked up and saw a room full of wide eyes and jaws on the floor. It felt good to be recognized for doing something well not doing something wrong. The coordinators huddled in a circle and began assigning kids to each roll. As they read off the lead vocals I hardly paid attention until my name was called to be the lead vocalist for the angels. I would sing an entire song solo in front of our congregation as well as the Santa Barbara ministry. I was ecstatic! This sounds like a success story right? Well, there is no happy ending to this tale. Minutes later I was pulled aside and told that I would not be allowed to perform in front of the congregation because (get this) I was not baptized. Seriously? Seriously. They gave the roll to another girl that was about my age. She was baptized… and… wait for it, at least 100 lbs heavier that I was. Oh the irony. Needless to say I was done. I haven’t held onto this pain… I just covered it up with alcohol and drugs for years. I am now 25 years old and 4 years sober. I haven’t been a part of ICOC for 13 years. My life is pretty fucking great. Turns out I can be a good person and not go to hell even if I am not a skinny bitch disciple. Cheers!”

This is yet another example of molestation, bullying, and disrespect. Where Jesus teaches to be like the children, ICOC treated children as second class citizens, and pawns in a numbers game. Worse, still, being baptized was the carrot they dangled over our heads so that we could do things we otherwise were not allowed, be it dating, a “disciples only slumber party”, a part in the holiday play, or even the ability to move up to the “Teen” group with your friends. An example of children having no choice but to trust the church because it was all we knew, and as you can see some of us were put in very unsafe situations. I myself have blocked out some of the horrors, and have been reminded throughout the years, I have heard stories of abuse my sister and I suffered, but I don’t remember. I supposed it’s the only way for me to maintain my sanity. As you can see, some were bullied more than others, but I think we were all victims of power-hungry self-righteous  zealous sinners.

When I was in the teen ministry I went on a date with a boy, and he touched me inappropriately, I told my discipler, and she talked to the leaders (great job on her part) although, I was taken in the back after church with the boy, and he denied it, so they called me a liar. Actually, worse, they said that it must have been an accident, and he obviously would never do that. So either I was a liar or I was crazy, but whatever the case HE did nothing wrong. I felt pressured to agree, because I knew where they stood already. I also knew better than to talk about those things ever again. As I grew up, I knew better than to tell someone when I was uncomfortable, I was taught from these things (and many other similar situations) that I shouldn’t rock the boat, and that MY feelings are invalid. I mean, I felt like I couldn’t say “no” because I had already been taught that my personality, and my body ask for this kind of attention. So if I were to say no to a drunk guy at a party, and he gets offended because something I had done had led him on, I am the one at fault. What is this? Some kind of Republican idea of deserved rape? I end up looking like a slut because either, I’m a slut if I sleep with this guy, or I’ve led him on and risk getting raped, which I clearly deserved for having a “flirtatious” (I call it friendly) personality.

One of my friends, a former Kingdom Kid, told me that one of the (current!) leader’s son’s has been sleeping his way through the Teen Ministry, in case you’re wondering, he is an adult (divorced), and these girls are under age. And, yes the leaders know… and they actively fix the problem by removing the girls. Because, obviously the leader’s son is not the problem…. What is going on here? Why are these things happening in a supposedly safe place? Are you rethinking sending your kids to the Friday Night Event? Or Summer Camp? Knowing these things I would not feel comfortable allowing my daughters to be in a situation like this. I don’t know how to fix problems like sexual abuse, but I do know, if these girls felt like they could say something, they would have. As it happens, they don’t feel like they can.

One of the my friend’s and current members of the ICOC has reminded me that it’s not “The Church” that is at fault, it’s people who made mistakes. Yes, I agree, but I also feel that the church should take responsibility for putting inappropriate people in leadership. A few years ago I ran into a former teen leader who supposedly had a crush on me while I was a teen (this is bothersome, considering he was in his thirties, and I was in the teens until I was 16.) At the time, I was 18 or 19, and he came on to me… We hooked up, I think in my brain it was an “eff you” to ICOC, but about a year later, I come to find out he has been restored into Kip’s church , and in the same text message thread, he asked for a picture of my boobs. He obviously repented. It was understandable for a former member to treat me like a piece of ass, but a current “disciple”??? I can’t even get over it. He has friend requested me on Facebook, multiple times, and I just can’t say yes, he is a hypocrite, and what’s worse is he is a current leader. Again, I know this isn’t the churches “fault” but still, if you claim a title in this church, you represent it. So is it fair for either church to be upset with me fo telling my story, or anyone else’s? Nope, think of this as insight, take a look at your members, pay attention to your children. On that note, I would like to share a poem my little sister wrote when she was a teen, who, by the way was told she was “too fat” to study the bible, in my opinion she dodged a bullet.

“I lose

When I say, “No”

My heart can’t go

To watch you see

What isn’t even me

To know I’m lost

And think you’re not

To play this game

But know the end

While I descend

I cheat and lie

But don’t know why

I contradict

To love myself

So take your pick

I’m lost and know it

But can’t control it

I’m right and show it

So don’t blow it

I lose

Whenever I turn around

I lose

Whenever I see a frown

I lose

To know that I’m not “it”

I lose

To know the truth I live

We don’t deserve the life we get

So enjoy it ’cause it’ll be gone before ya know it

It’s not worth it to me

To try and be somthin’ I’m not

I want to see. but God has a plot

To seek and save the lost

Well, guess what… I’m not!

I know the truth will set me free

So leave me alone and let me be

I’ll come around if it’s his plan

It might take a while

So just hold my hand

I live by feeling

Emotion is ruling

The tears are flowing

To see what I’m missing

To hate how I’m feeling

So I will try

To love the One that always loves me

I lose now,but not at my peak

You will see that I will win

Happiness is my goal

So don’t be a fool

Help me please…”

As children we were expected to be perfect, we were trained, guilted and pruned to become what the church thought we should be. Instead of being nurtured and encouraged. If my sister at age 11 felt like she just couldn’t win, imagine how every other kid felt. It’s no wonder that we all rebelled. And it’s amazing to see that we have each come into our own, and became amazing resilient adults, who stand up for our children the way the church never did.

****If you are reading this because you have had a similar experience, have history with the ICOC/ICC, or you need help leaving, I am going to post some resources here for you. Free to email me at isahealthymama@yahoo.com or find my “recovery page” on facebook www.facebook.com/icocrecovery Here are a few blogs and websites from people who have left the ICOC/ICC and have shared their experiences and knowledge:

http://www.reveal.org/ <— This page has the truth about the ICOC.
http://www.spiritualpornography.com/ <— Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate, she named it Spiritual Pornography because that’s what Kip McKean called it when you read anything negative about the church. They post information it might be harder to find, such as Kip’s (supposed) resignation, and letters written to the church.

http://henrykriete.com/ <— Here you can read what REALLY happened with Henry Kriete and his family.
http://ministeriolatino.blogspot.com/ <—- Here you can read a blog from a former member of Kip’s current church (City of Angels International Church of Christ). He has written actually experiences between himself and Kip, AND other “leaders”. A very interesting read. He came across my blog and actually recognized someone I had written about (I kept it confidential).
http://www.tolc.org/ <—- Here you can read Henry Kriete’s letter and other letters written to the church. You can also click “debate” and you will be transferred to http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/main.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&nav=start&prettyurl=%2FICCdiscussion%2Fstart where you can interact with current and former members.

 

 

Regrets

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Regrets. You know that feeling, that knot in your throat, the queasiness in the pit of your stomach, the ache in your heart. You fucked up. I am incredibly familiar with this feeling. I envy the people who say they will never regret anything. OK if you have no regrets, you must be an amazing person, teach me your ways! How can you live your life without doing something you wish you hadn’t? I feel like I have so many, maybe they are not huge life altering events, but there are decisions I have made that to this day haunt me.

I had a dream recently that I was waiting at a table in a restaurant for someone, I didn’t know who, when 3 people from my past walked in. They were shocked to see me, my heart started racing, having no idea how to react. Almost immediately one of them acted happy to see me, I knew she wasn’t, so I said, “It’s OK, you don’t have to bullshit…” Which probably made the situation worse. You know how it is, it’s easier to to be fake in an awkward situation. Especially when you know they way you really want to behave is like a jackass. My dream goes on with me alone at my table, and this small group sits at another, I got up to use the bathroom, and so did the girl who pretended to be happy to see me. Since we were alone, I asked her if she’d read any of my emails. You see, in real life I have written to her multiple times to apologize for the things I said to her, and she never acknowledged the emails. Since my subconscious mind seems to be aching for the opportunity to make things right, I apologized right there.

I woke up with that knot in my throat… that disgusting nauseating feeling. And I can’t fix this one. I want more than anything to tell her that I am so sorry I unleashed on her they way I did, that she didn’t deserve it. That I had been holding in hurt feelings for too long and had been fed a lot of negativity by someone close to us. I felt like a fish out of water, no- like an animal in captivity, with no control, and I lashed out at the easiest target. I’m sorry. No one deserves to be spoken to the way I ripped her apart. And I understand why she won’t accept my apology. I don’t deserve the validation.

This is the understanding I came to late last night. Just because we truly are sorry, and we want to fix something, just because our hearts are in the right place, does not give us the right to be forgiven. Not every mistake can be rectified. Sometimes people need to be bitter, they need someone to be upset with, not everyone is ready to forgive, when we are ready to own up to our mistakes. And that’s OK. Does it fit into my plan? No, I desperately need to deal with this situation. Whether she hates me and bitches me out, or accepts my apology and we never speak again… there are limitless outcomes, but it’s ME that needs this, and in this situation, I have no right to “need” anything. I should have thought of that before I lost my shit.

I should clarify, personally, I know a lot more was going on at this time, I know that I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because I was on birth control (from other blogs you know that birth control has had terrible effects on me, one of which is temporary insanity. Hormones are no joke.) which made me irritable and anxious, among other things. I also was going through a custody battle. For the first time in my daughter’s life, there was a possibility that I would have to split custody of my daughter, and I was flipping out. For months I couldn’t eat, in fact the day that I flipped out, I had not eaten anything, and we had made sangria. (Not brilliant.) As you know, I practiced attachment parenting, and the thought of being away from my baby was, and is heart wrenching. I cry every Friday when she goes to her dad’s and I spent all of last weekend in tears because she went to Sea World, and that was the first time she has ever gone far from me. You can imagine the fear in me during this time, and the discomfort, I did not know who I could trust, this girl is friends with my ex, which is not a problem, but it was a conflict of interest, and I did not know how to deal with it. I had never been in a situation like this, and for some dumb reason, when I am uncomfortable, I tend to react strongly, in an effort to find a safe or comfortable place. In this case, I alienated someone I loved dearly.

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I feel the need to explain all of this because it is weighing so heavily on my heart. I now can imagine how my mother feels, I have so much bitterness for my mother, and I love her insanely, but in June 2012, the same month I unleashed on my friend, I (verbally) attacked my mom. I was in Indiana visiting some family, and my mom offered to babysit my then three year old (need I remind you thatI was preparing for a custody battle?) and my mom of all people offered to babysit. My mom was the LAST person I was going to trust with my daughter. Not because I don’t think she had good intentions, but because she walked out on me and my little sister when I was Jo’s age. I did not think any of that through when she offered, I just knew that the answer was “No.” She did not understand why, so I had to figure out why this made me so uncomfortable. Jo doesn’t know my mom. We live in California and my mom had met Jo maybe 3 or 4 times her whole life. I was not about to leave my kid with a stranger, I meant, I wasn’t even comfortable leaving Jo with her own father! My mom insisted that she’s not a stranger, she’s Jo’s grandma, and I became more uncomfortable, I ended up screaming at her that she left me when I was Jo’s age, and I will NEVER abandon my baby, I will NEVER give my baby reason to think I had left her, I can’t trust her with the one person I love more than anything. I yelled at my own mother that she had no business having children, and what was she thinking? If she couldn’t stick around for 2 of us, how irresponsible was she to have more children? Clearly at this point I had lost my mind, a lot of baggage had been triggered, and I did not think before I said these terrible things. I said– screamed these things (and worse) in front of my younger sisters and brothers. You may have imagined that this is another one of those situations where I get that nasty knot in my throat. If I could go back, I would have held my tongue. Actually I would not have gone to Indiana that summer. I knew it was going to be too much for me, but I went anyway, and now I live with regret. I hurt my mom, and my little brother’s and sister’s.

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Luckily, my brother’s, sitter’s and mom all still love me, they were in my wedding about 5 months ago. I guess that’s a perk with family, eventually you’re more likely to be forgiven? Here is the thing, though, my mom has asked over and over for me to talk to her, and I never wanted to talk about all of the passed things, the abandonment, and painful memories. I could never understand why she just stood there and took it while I screamed at her. I get it now, when you fuck up, and you have regret, you stand there and take it when someone calls you on it, no matter how nasty they are, you don’t have a leg to stand on, you have no excused. It’s not your turn to talk. It’s your turn to listen, and let the person you hurt heal. With that, I am resolving to be patient, to understand that I am not owed any type of validation from anyone I have hurt, the ball is in their court, and if they are not ready for my apology, it’s OK, the apology is not about me, even though it would make me feel better, why do I deserve to be forgiven? I should hope that whomever I have hurt is happy now, and if it’s easier to never talk about it, I must respect that. I also need to keep these things in mind before I open my mouth, as to not have more regrets.

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Started From The Bottom Now We’re Here

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

We were twins. OK maybe not “technically”, but I never knew life without her. I was 15 months old when she was born. Contrary to popular rumor, (that was probably started by a grandma somewhere who had severe empty nest syndrome) breastfeeding IS NOT birth control! She is proof!

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

As children we were attached, if one of us got time out, the other went to sit in time out as well. We were partners in crime, at ages 4 and 5 we conspired to steal and eat our grandmothers chocolate cake while our dad was in the shower… he figured it out, but I don’t think he got any cake. I may have tattled on her when she decided to cut her own hair, little did we know, she actually has a talent as a hair stylist. We played together at recess, and all of our friends were mutual.

Charcoal by ShonRochelle
Charcoal by ShonRochelle

 

We couldn’t have been more different, in fact we still are polar opposites, she is everything I am not, blond, tall, big blue eyes, big butt (If this is being read in a future where anorexia is back “in”, just bear in mind that big butts are all the rage right now), she’s a dancer, a singer AND an artist. She is has a big personality, as a Gemini she is nearly impossible to pin down, she’s always wherever the drama is, and will surprise the shit out of you when she is suddenly completely down to earth, understanding, and will bend over backwards to help you because most of the time she is blunt and tactless… although always truthful… whether you like it or not. (That last part may be a family trait, come to think of it.)

Abstract by ShonRochelle
Abstract by ShonRochelle

 

I am 5 feet (short) tall, I have brown eyes that I call hazel because sometimes they change, and it makes me feel like I have some individual, and defining characteristic that the rest of us brown eyed girls never get complemented on. I have brown hair, no rhythm, and I can draw stick figures, which is the extent of my artistic ability. My only claim to fame is that I am a writer. I am a Pisces. And growing up I was very sweet, quiet, overly emotional, and sensitive. Even though I was the older sister, I relied on her to be the things I wasn’t, SHE stood up for ME, when I was bullied, she came to my rescue when I got hurt or cried, she was basically my big sister. MY whole life I have gotten away with being… a princess, I guess. I managed to always find someone to do what needed to be done, my sister and my friends used to have homework pow wows where we would all do all of my math homework for the week (I was in independent studies, and I am terrible at math, if we wanted to hang out, we as a group would do my homework.) To this day I do not have a drivers license (long story), even in my jobs I have managed to get away with not doing things… or doing things that I shouldn’t. There have been times where I get so frustrated because it always seemed like it was easier for people to do things FOR me, instead of teach me how to do it. I have had to force people to teach me things, or I have become a master at Googling. It’s not that I am not smart, it’s that people seem to LIKE helping me. All of this started with my sister, who probably didn’t want to be the youngest, or maybe she noticed my weakness, and instead of exploiting them, she spent years helping me cover them up.

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

 

What you are not expecting, is that my bombshell little sister was teased mercilessly from 5th grade to 8th grade. She had what you call “baby fat” she didn’t overeat, at least not initially, eventually she did use food as comfort, which only made the situation worse. I don’t even know if she was teased for being “fat”, or if there were other things… but I do know that this was the same age that my sister began to notice that she is not like other girls. While she had typical crushes on boys, she also had crushes on girls. It’s funny, we both had the same feelings, but again, the way things played out couldn’t be more opposite. Her defense mechanism was to be mean. She turned into a bully, a bully that was bullied. I remember people telling me how mean my sister was, and I didn’t get it. She wasn’t mean to me, and she always stood up for me. During that time I was too self absorbed to pay attention to what was going on with my little sister. She was having problems at church and school, and I wasn’t. I was never “popular” but I had a lot of friends, I have the ability to get along with just about anyone. (I think it was more my need to be liked and accepted though, because now, as an adult, I am very particular about my friendships, and I listen to my intuition about people.)

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

I was the squeaky wheel in the family. So while everyone was paying attention to me (I had depression, and an eating disorder) and taking me to therapy, and checking in on me… and grounding me (Ask my friends, I spent at least 2 full years grounded). No one paid attention to her. No one saw that she was sad, lonely and confused. I don’t think she even felt like she could say anything, about anything. I don’t know if she felt it would matter? My Sophomore year, her Freshman year was a turning point, I had switched to a new school (yes, I was the diva of the family who needed to change schools… I did this several times before Independent Studies became the obvious solution) and she started selling drugs, my moms medications, I think. She had already been doing other students homework for cash, for a few years. She must have felt gypped when she did my homework, anyway, from what I remember this was the year that she started using. The previous year we had dabbled in drinking and smoked pot, but it was really experimental, at least for me. It’s a trip to me that she managed to get loaded while we lived in our dad’s house. I mean, he was not only sober, but he worked in rehabs our whole lives! Maybe that’s why my vice became an eating disorder, instead? I have to confess I had no clue what was going on with her at this point. We lived in the same house, but we didn’t really talk. She really must have felt invisible then.

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

It wasn’t until the day she came stumbling home (and by home I mean our mom’s house, we had moved in full time with her at this point) after vanishing for 3 days, and she was a mess. She was obviously loaded, I don’t know what she was using, but it was obvious. She then proceeded to molest my boyfriend at the time. I was horrified, and more horrified, I think because I realized that not only had I not realized she’d been gone so long, no one else had either. This was the first time I called my dad and said that she needed help. This was the first time she went to rehab. Little did I know, she would go 5 more times.

 

Charcoal by ShonRpchelle
Charcoal by ShonRpchelle

I confess that I don’t know her current sobriety date, but I do know it’s been about 4 years, and the last time she went into Treatment it was thanks to a phone call from me to my dad… again. But this time was different than the other times to me, she’s changed. I feel like I have a friend again. The best part is, she is painting again. I mentioned earlier that my sister is an artist, well I feel like it’s an understatement. A lot of people claim artistic ability, her art, is unbelievable. There is something about the way she puts her soul on canvas, actually, she paints the way I write, she completely opens herself up, and puts it out there. There is a vulnerable honesty that I see when I look at her paintings. I am so happy she has found a healthy way to be noticed, and not just to be seen, but to be understood. Something she has needed for years. And as her big sister, I want to publically acknowledge my little sister, her talents, her accomplishments, and her strength.

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

She came out about 8 years ago, and I think that was one of the proudest moments of my life, I felt like she had finally began to find herself… my heart also broke knowing what a hard road she had in front of her. Some of our family members have completely written her off, she has been shamed, guilted and rebuked for her “choice”. I know, from personal experience that whom you love, is not a choice, yes there are decisions in love, but the heart you are drawn to has nothing to do with gender. I have been bisexual since I can remember, and for whatever reason I never felt like it was wrong. In fact, I felt like denying that part of myself was unnatural. I am happily married and madly in love with my husband, however, it would not have surprised me if my soul mate had been a woman. Even though her path is not easy, I think the one gift I have given my sister is my 100% support. I have fought for equality passionately, because I am fighting not only for what I believe to be “right”, not only for myself, and anyone else who deviates from the norm, I am fighting for my little sister.

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

Feel free to check out her are pages, you can follow her on

Instagram, her name is Shonlieberman

and order her original art here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/darshonna?ref=search_shop_redirect

or order her prints here: http://twenty20.com/shonlieberman