Loving Our Enemies: Wise Words from MLK

By Katie, 5:12 am

Today we step back and remember the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Indeed, we remember all of those who fought to make our nation one of true freedom and liberty.

 (Source)

In reading through some of King’s speeches and sermons, I came across these words that really touched me. It’s exactly what I needed to hear today: that love is always, always the answer. And I love King’s practical take on the subject.

(It’s long, so I went ahead and highlighted key phrases and ideas.)

“Loving Your Enemies”
November 17, 1957
(This is just an excerpt: you can
read the entire sermon if you’d like.)

Now first let us deal with this question, which is the practical question: How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self.  

This is what Jesus means when he said: “How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?” Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: “How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?” And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves. 

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

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Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love.

In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

 And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them.

And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul.  

 (Source)

Let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe.

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption.

You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. By the power of your love they will break down under the load.

 (Source)

That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

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Have you ever purposefully shown love and kindness to someone who had treated you badly?

Opposites Attract

By Katie, 5:14 am

I’m thinking Paula Abdul was on to something…

Because let me tell you, these two folks couldn’t be more different!

First of all, our taste buds vary greatly. I have a mega sweet tooth, while Dave’s one of those crazy people who says things like, “I don’t really like chocolate that much.” :roll:

 (Source)

We also differ in personality traits. I’m bubbly and silly and tend to blurt out whatever I’m thinking. I like routines and lists and schedules. Dave, on the other hand, is more reserved. He always thinks before he speaks, doesn’t mind being late, and can go with the flow no matter what the circumstances.

It’s almost laughable that we share the same bed. I like a lot of heavy covers; Dave prefers a light sheet. I like a lot of fluffy pillows; Dave prefers one, as flat as possible. I sleep on my side or back; he sleeps on his stomach. I’m a morning person and Dave is…definitely not. ;-)  

  (Source)

(This is not our bed!)

When it comes to managing stress, my husband and I are nothing alike. I’m the one pulling my hair out, while he’s almost always cool as a cucumber.

 (Source)

I’m definitely the perfectionist in the family; if you met me five years ago, you’d have thought that getting a B+ would have killed me. Dave? Not so much.

(Source)

But you know, for as different as we are, we’re actually quite similar when it comes to “the big stuff.”

Like values and beliefs.

 (Source)

Like hopes and dreams.

 (Source)

(Apparently we dream of having a very tech-savvy baby someday!)

And if there’s one thing we can definitely agree on, it’s…football.

 (Source)

No one else I’d rather be cheering with today. ;-)

What’s been your experience? Do opposites attract?

The “No Anorexia” Ad Debate

By Katie, 5:43 am

Warning: This post contains photos that are shocking, potentially triggering, and NSFW. Please prioritize your own health and well-being by refraining from viewing this post if need be.

You may have already heard the tragic news about 28-year-old French model Isabelle Caro. Caro died in November 2010, after suffering from anorexia since she was 13. It’s an incredibly sad story, one that makes my heart ache every time I think of it.

(Source)

Caro became well-known in 2007 when she appeared on a billboard for the Italian designer Nolita. According to the company, the ad was meant to raise awareness about how horrible of an illness anorexia really is.

I had not seen the ad until I learned of the model’s death a few weeks ago, and since then my feelings on the billboard have wavered back and forth. Here are some of my thoughts, and I hope you share yours as well:

On the one hand…

I admire Caro’s courage in posing for this ad, and her intention of raising awareness and helping others is certainly commendable. Regarding the ad, Caro has been quoted as saying, “I thought this could be a chance to use my suffering to get a message across, and finally put an image on what thinness represents and the danger it leads to – which is death.”

On the other hand…

I think an argument can be made that the companies and designers – both those who made this ad and those who continued to employ Caro as a model even though she said she was sick – were in some ways exploiting her situation for their own gain. The national advertising watchdogs in both Italy and France banned the ad, saying it “commercially exploited the illness” and had “been set up for commercial ends.”

On the one hand…

Certainly the billboard is shocking, and is meant to be. This could be a positive; seeing a naked photo of someone who is basically wasting away could potentially shock people into action. Indeed, the Italian health minister approved of the ad, saying it could help “promote responsibility towards the problem of anorexia.”

On the other hand…

I have to ask: beyond the shock factor, where’s the real message? Obviously people see these photos and recoil; it doesn’t make anorexia look glamorous or anything. But then what’s the next step? Where’s the call to action?

I’m disappointed that there is no mention of where to go for help or to get more information, no direction on how to contribute to the cause. Public awareness is a wonderful thing, but I think it’s important to go one step further.

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Obviously I’m torn. I wavered for a long time about whether or not to even post the ad here on my site, not just because it is triggering, but also because I myself don’t want to contribute to the exploitation of Caro’s illness and death. In the end, I decided to post it because I want to open up a dialogue about this, about how society should and should not go about fighting this disease. What do you think?

So please share your thoughts: Is the ad an effective means of raising awareness or not?

Southwestern Casserole

By Katie, 5:40 am

This dish brings together two of my greatest loves: casseroles and the flavors of the Southwest.

I love casseroles because even though they’re not always the prettiest dishes, they’re often the easiest. Not to mention the comfort food factor. And when it comes to Southwestern/Mexican food, I just can’t get enough of it!

So I jumped at the opportunity to make this dish, which is basically just layers and layers of all kinds of Southwestern foods. It makes for an extremely satisfying meal!

First I coated a baking dish with cooking spray, then layered the bottom with diced green chiles.

Then I cooked a pound of ground turkey, along with onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, and lots and lots of seasonings.

Then the layering began. First the ground turkey mixture, then two cups of frozen (thawed) corn.

Next up: a layer of refried beans!

My spreading job left a little something to be desired. :-?   If you make this dish, I recommend spreading the beans with a wooden spoon or a spatula that’s been moistened with water; it helps with the sticking.

Next up: CHEESE! I didn’t bother measuring, I just sprinkled on a generous amount.

That went into the oven at 375º for 25 minutes. While it was cooking I chopped up my toppings: fresh tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and avocado.

Put it all together!

I think this is one of the prettier casseroles I’ve made…

…that is, until I slopped it into my dish. ;-) I also didn’t bother with a fork…that’s what tortilla chips are for, right?

Southwestern Casserole
Adapted from For the Love of Cooking, originally from Cooking Light
Makes a heaping 9 x 13 pan

Ingredients (don’t be intimidated by the long list; it’s a lot of stuff you probably have on hand!)
2 (4 oz) cans diced green chiles
olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 tsp chili powder (can double if you like a lot of heat)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper, to taste (I found I needed to add more salt at the table)
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes, undrained (this helps keep the turkey moist)
2 cups frozen (thawed) corn
1 (14 oz) can of refried beans
1-1.5 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, diced (I liked keeping the chunks on the bigger side)
sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (I forgot this, but it would be a delicious addition!)

1. Preheat the oven to 375º.

2. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread both cans of green chiles on the bottom.

3. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, ground turkey, and all the seasonings. Cook 5-6 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat.

4. Add the minced garlic and can of diced tomatoes; cook another 2-3 minutes.

5. Spoon the turkey mixture on top of the chiles. Then add the corn. On top of the corn, carefully spread the refried beans (with a moist wooden spoon or spatula), then add the cheese.

6. Bake for 25 minutes. Pull out of the oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then top with the diced fresh tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and avocado. Serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt if desired.

Any other casserole lovers out there? How about Southwestern/Mexican food lovers?

The Yellow Post-It Note: A Poem

By Katie, 5:59 am

Trigger Warning: The following poem, which contains an account of extreme diet restriction, could be triggering for some readers. Please carefully consider this before proceeding, and remember to take good care of yourself. ♥

The Yellow Post-It Note

Between the computer monitor and the
cup of pencils
sits a pad of post-it notes.
They’re highlighter yellow and
rather unassuming, just an
unremarkable piece of the
shuffle of my desk.

Except that today I can’t help
but remember the days gone by,
the days when a similar pad of
post-it notes kept record of my worth,
penned as calories in, calories out.

(Source)

It’s a Wednesday night, 2003, and
by the light of my desk lamp I
review the day;
it was a good one.
The first line on the post-it note
reads, “Breakfast: Apple, Medium – 80.”

The second, third, and fourth lines
aren’t much more substantial,
and the total is under
800.
Plus I went to the gym, twice.
By my double-checked calculations,
today I burned as many as I consumed.
In, out.

In bed, in the blackness of my dorm room, I
review the day again;
was it really a good one?

I reach blindly for the note to
look it over once more.
Squinting in the darkness, trying to make out
the first line. I think it reads,
“Look at you, getting thinner by the day!
So in control!”

No, wait, now my eyes are adjusting, and
I can see more clearly.
Plain as day, the first line reads,
“Tired, weak, and cranky; desperate
for a bagel.”

Stop! Don’t think about bagels
or muffins
or pancakes.
Don’t think about chocolate chip cookies
or cream cheese icing
or fudge ripple.

I drift to sleep by forcing my thoughts
away from fudge ripple and onto visions
of a thinner, more confident me.
Perhaps tomorrow I can go under 700.
The post-it note will tell.

***

I reach for my yellow pad
and scribble, “Call dad re: Christmas.”
Stick it to my monitor where I won’t miss it.

A simple note, really, and yet later
I catch myself staring at it with
admiration.
Because it’s a yellow post-it note
with no numbers,
no tallies and no calculations.
It contains no pride, no shame,
no anxiety over cookies.

It’s just a yellow post-it note,
stripped of its power.

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This was written as part of the Self-Discovery, Word by Word blogger series. So far we’re explored gratitude, vulnerability, and authenticity. This month’s word is Creativity. Click here to learn more and see how you can participate too!

The Forgotten Beauty of Hand-Written Letters

By Katie, 5:32 am

When I was in fourth grade, my school organized an international pen pal program. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t even remember my pen pal’s name, but I do remember that she was British and that she had just gotten a puppy at the beginning of our correspondence. (I remember that much because I was jealous. ;-) )

I also remember how much FUN it was to sit down and hand-write a letter. I used multiple colors of ink and would sometimes add a sketch of a flower to jazz it up a bit.

 (Source)

So I was pretty excited to learn that this week is National Letter Writing Week. It’s a chance for us to reconnect with a form of communication that, in the age of e-mails and text messages, seems old-fashioned and outdated. And yet we can probably all agree that there’s something special about either writing or receiving a hand-written note.

If you want to celebrate National Letter Writing Week with me, here are some ideas.

Pen a letter to…

  • a friend or family member
  • a nonprofit organization whose work you admire
  • a soldier, perhaps one from your hometown
  • an elected official
  • yourself
  • God

You could also read a book of letters, or a book that’s been written as one long letter. Here are some of my favorites (both for kids and adults!):

When’s the last time you hand-wrote a letter? Received a hand-written letter?

Who might you write to this week?

Top Workout Songs of 2010

By Katie, 5:01 am

WOW! I loved, loved, loved the discussion yesterday on the fine line between accountability and shaming. The comments are filled with amazing insights; be sure to check them out and add your own!

Some of you might remember Chris Lawhorn of the website Run Hundred, a super cool workout music site. Back in August he helped me design a playlist based on my love for exercising to the tunes of Lady Gaga. The website lets you sort workout music based on beats, genre, decade, etc.

Run Hundred just released the results of its poll on the best workout songs of 2010. Here are the top tracks.

Top Workout Songs of 2010

1. Flo Rida & David Guetta – Club Can’t Handle Me

2. Lady GaGa – Bad Romance (Starsmith Remix) (WOO HOO! 8-) )

3. Kesha – We R Who We R

4. R.I.O. – After The Love

5. Pitbull & Akon – Shut It Down

6. Taio Cruz & Ludacris – Break Your Heart (Mixin Marc & Tony Svejda Radio Edit)
                       Remember when I danced to a Taio Cruz song???

7. Black Eyed Peas – Rock That Body (Chris Lake Remix)

8. Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup – We No Speak Americano

9. Shiny Toy Guns – Major Tom

10. Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina – Stereo Love

Looking forward to seeing which tracks top the workout charts for 2011!

Do you exercise to any of these songs?

What’s your go-to workout song at the moment?

The Fine Line Between Accountability and Shaming

By Katie, 5:13 am

Hypothetical situation: a young woman is struggling with her weight. So she takes the first step and tells someone else about it; let’s say her mom. In a genuine attempt to be helpful, her mom begins weighing her daughter weekly, dishing out rewards based on the results. The mom is trying to be motivating. She is trying to create some accountability for her daughter.

(Source)

And yet, I think this hypothetical situation shows that the line between accountability and shaming can be a blurry one. In this scenario, the mom certainly has good intentions, and yet sometimes even the best of intentions can go awry. To me, to be rewarded or punished based on the scale – either by ourselves or by someone else – screams of shame.  

Similarly, I don’t like the public weighings associated with Weight Watchers meetings. Or the “get healthy or else” messages implied through lots of public health initiatives. Regardless of the intent, there is often an element of shame at play, it’s just less recognizable because the shaming comes packaged as help.

And, as clinical psychologist and body image blogger Ashley has made clear, shame-based approaches to health and weight loss simply do. not. work.

So the question for me becomes, how can someone be held accountable without shame or embarrassment or criticism? What are the keys to finding authentic support? What does positive accountability look like?

I think that in order to create the kind of accountability that is uplifting rather than shaming, it’s important to follow three steps:

1. Decide what I truly need from my support person.

Let’s say my goal is to stop overeating emotionally. Then maybe what I need isn’t someone to give me a glaring look when I reach for an extra cookie. Instead, I might need someone to check in with me during a stressful day or difficult situation, someone to help me manage the tough stuff more effectively.

2. Communicate that need clearly.

I think accountability often turns into shame simply because the support person doesn’t know how else to help! So a conversation needs to be had upfront about what sort of help is desirable, and what could be interpreted as criticism.

3. Make clear that I am not one-in-the-same with my actions.

Shame occurs when we feel judged as a person because of our actions. It’s about feeling upset over who we are rather than over what we did. Both the person struggling and the support person need to be clear that we are not defined by the issues and challenges we face in life.

In the end, I think accountability can be a really positive tool, so long as we remember that the goal of being accountable isn’t about feeling bad about ourselves or ashamed of what we do; rather, it’s about having someone who loves us take a more active roll in promoting our well-being. At the heart of positive accountability is, in essence, the opposite of shaming: love and acceptance.

What do you think about accountability? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Do you agree that accountability can often come off as shaming?

Potato and Parsnip Soup with Dill

By Katie, 5:49 am

Have you ever made a recipe soley so that you could play with a particular kitchen gadget?

Because I only made this Potato and Parsnip Soup…

…so that I could get some use out of this!

My immersion blender – is one of the best blenders for juicing! I bought one probably four months ago, because I just knew I would use it all the time. And then I didn’t open the box until last week. :roll:

But now that I know how awesome it is, I’ll definitely be putting it to use more often!

This recipe calls for half of the soup to be pureed and the other half to remain chunky, which gives it an awesome texture. Generally I would have to pour half of it into my regular blender, which is a major pain to clean. But with the immersion blender, I could puree it directly in the pot! Yay!

The subtle woodsy flavor of the parsnips makes this soup a little more interesting than your standard potato soup. And don’t omit the dill on top; it really brightens it up, both visually and taste-wise!

Potato and Parsnip Soup with Dill
Adapted from Real Simple
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into half-moons
1.25 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
3.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
salt and pepper
sprinkling of fresh dill

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, parsnips, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper

2.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 6-8 minutes.

3. Add the wine and simmer for a few minutes.

4. Add the potatoes and the broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 12-15 minutes.

5. Divide the mixture in two and puree half of it until smooth (in either a regular blender or with an immersion blender). Combine the two mixtures again in the pot and stir.

6. Add the soup to your serving bowls and sprinkle individually with dill to taste.

What’s your favorite kind of soup?

AND

Have you ever made a recipe just so that you could use a particular kitchen gadget? What was it?

The First Step: Tell Someone

By Katie, 5:16 am

We’re officially in the thick of 2011, even if you’re still accidentally writing 2010 all over the place.

Because it’s this time of year, everyone’s talking about making changes – resolutions, intentions, words of the year, etc.

Which is all fine and good if your particular struggle is one that you feel comfortable expressing openly and plainly. But let’s say you’re facing a struggle that you’ve never shared with anyone before. You didn’t post about it on your blog, you haven’t told your partner or your parents. Maybe you’re even just beginning to recognize it yourself. But you know you’re ready for change.

So now what?

 (Source)

It can be an overwhelming question, to say the least. I remember when I finally decided that I was going to face my disordered eating issues – the ups and downs, the emotional overeating, the restricting and over-exercising, the body image that was in the tank, the whole shebang. And yet then I felt paralyzed. Where do I begin? What’s the first step?

In the end, I began with one small yet significant step towards making a change: I told someone what I was struggling with.

Sure, it seems tiny. Yet it was probably the most important thing that I did.

First, telling someone meant that I was challenging the shame associated with my eating issues, the shame that I constantly felt. Letting someone in meant denouncing that stigma; it meant breaking free of the secret.

Second, simply saying my struggle out loud changed its very definition. My issue moved from “something that’s holding me back” to “something I’m working on.” It changed from an area of weakness to an area of improvement.

Finally, the very act of telling someone what I was facing was the first step in creating a support system. It opened the door for encouragement and motivation and accountability (a concept I want to explore more deeply later this week).

So I encourage you – whatever struggle you’re facing, make today the day you stop keeping it a secret. Tell your partner. Tell your best friend. Tell your parents. Heck, you can tell me through an e-mail if you’d like. Just tell someone.

If you’re ready to take that first step, keep in mind two things. First, the person you tell should be someone you trust, someone who will be supportive rather than judgmental. Second, it’s important to remember that that person cannot fix the issue, and it’s not his/her job to try to do so.

I know that when I first admitted to another human being that I was struggling, I felt an immediate sense of lightness, like I had finally set down a heavy burden. Sure, the issue was still there, and the difficult work was just beginning. And yet there was power in being open and honest and genuine. There was power in taking that first step.

What do you think? Is the simple act of telling someone what you’re struggling with a worthwhile step?

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