Happy New Year!




 

I know it is February 5, 2011, but I still think you deserve a “Happy New Year” from me!

The first month of 2011 was a good one; my wife turned 32 in January, and we had a blast. I planned a scavenger-hunt style birthday, and she spent the day guessing the adventure-activities on listed on the birthday brochure I created for her.  Next month we will celebrate our first wedding anniversary and my 33rd year of life on this planet.

Heads up, I might have some really great news in the next few weeks–news that will change everything in our family! No, I am not pregnant. However, it is almost as life-changing as a pregnancy would be. 🙂 Stay tuned…

Anyway, thanks so much for reading this blog. Your time means so much to me. Cheers to reading! Cheers to 2011!

xoxo

PS: The beautiful lab mix in the photo is the newest addition to our family, Sophie; she arrived the week before Christmas.

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Food Choices

I currently practice a moderate form of veganism, which means I do not eat the flesh of any animal, and I avoid the consumption of all dairy products. Although I believe in animal rights, and I practice compassion and non-injury (ahimsa) in my daily life, my entry point to the vegan life was a dairy allergy. Unfortunately, my excessive consumption of all things dairy, resulted in a pretty severe scalp condition, a mild form of eczema, frequent occurrences of acne, stomach pains, and high-levels of mucus; however, before being officially diagnosed with an allergy, a friend who had been doing some research on the effects of dairy consumption, suggested that I eliminate dairy from my diet in order to see if any or all the symptoms disappeared. Who would have thought that fifteen days after eliminating dairy, I would have clearer skin, a settled stomach, and no morning/afternoon/evening mucus to contend with? Even without the doctor’s imprimatur, I knew a dairy-free lifestyle was for me.

My resurgence of health also prompted me to do some food research of my own, and I soon discovered that most of my food choices were unconscious, and negatively influencing my health and my life. I realized that consuming  gluten caused me to become sick, unusually fatigued and cognitively fogged; I noticed that I felt listless and uncommunicative after sugar consumption, and after eating flesh, I felt plain sad. Conversely, after eating fruits and vegetables, I felt more lucid and more energetic.

When I decided to practice veganisim, I found a wonderful support system—an entire food movement; there were other people in my physical community, my Facebook community and blogger community who have also made the decision to live in a way that is sustainable and supports health and wellness. I discovered  CSAs and farmers markets, I found vegan restaurants and supermarkets that specialize in whole, local foods.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be on this journey at this time in my life. I am still shaping my perception of food, and I am still considering what it means to be a Black-identified, lesbian-identified, sometimes-Buddhist, female vegan in America, and I know that this is not consideration that can happen in exclusivity; it is a conversation.

It is a conversation about who has access to whole foods and why.

It is a conversation about change and sustainability.

It is a conversation about spirituality and community.

It is a conversation about environmental ethics.

It is a conversation about social justice.

Please be a part of the conversation.

ezh

A Few Good Reads:

In Defense of Food / Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma/ Michael Pollan

Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society / A. Breeze Harper (Editor)

Potatoes NOT Prozac / Kathleen DesMaisons

Planning a Wedding During a Marriage

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Hello, Readers

I know it has been a long time, and I am aware that irregular posting does not guarantee loyal readership, so I offer my apologies for not having anything to say for awhile. It has been really hard trying to figure out a focus for this blog. I read so many great blogs that seem so focused and interesting, and I don’t want to waste cyberspace (although there is plenty of it) with senseless ramblings. I do, however, want to contribute something that might help someone, somewhere.

With that said,  I have decided to talk a little bit about what has been going on with me.

On March 15, 2010, in the District of Columbia, I married a beautiful woman; this is news for two reasons (1) making a for-life co-commitment with anyone is… well, something like amazing , and (2) our marriage was not possible/legal in the District of Columbia one month before our wedding date.

My wife and I were the fifteenth same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in Washington, DC. The story of our union is on our wedding blog (to be announced), but this post is about the fact that our official wedding date is going to be followed by another wedding date in November, a.k.a. The Presentation of the Brides ceremony.

In early 2010, same-sex marriage was (and still is) a hot-button issue, and the  political climate in Washington, DC was pretty volatile, and we were concerned that DC might run into some California-type complications, so we decided to get married early– eight months earlier than our planned wedding date. Our Monday-night wedding was beautiful. We were married in the rain by one of our favorite ministers; we had dinner with ten of our closest friends, and by the end of the night, we were a legally married couple. Suddenly, the November “wedding date” did not seem so important, as we had to go about the business of being married.

Recently, we have decided to revisit the idea of a wedding (Presentation of the Brides ceremony) in November.  So, planning a (second) wedding is a part of our first-year-of-marriage process. We are happy about this, and we have discovered that planning this ceremony has brought us closer together and allowed us many  opportunities to explore the things that we value individually and as a couple.  As soon as we learned to be present in/for this process we found peace, creativity and new levels of love and respect for each other. Welcome to some of the highlights of our process.

These are the things we know:

  1. Our POB wedding ceremony is an opportunity to present ourselves as a couple to our community new/old. It also is an opportunity  to clearly mark the transition of this part of our lives. We are no longer the single/life-of -the-party/stay-until- the-end-of-Game Night women– our responsibility is now to the family that we have committed to create. We want to bless our old communities and welcome our new.
  2. We want our POB wedding ceremony to represent community and meaningful connections.
  3. We want our ceremony to be the truest expression of ourselves that we can offer each other and our guests.
  4. We do not want to be consumed by and/or overly-influenced by what a new blogger friend of ours calls The Wedding Industrial Complex .
  5. On our wedding day and always, we only want to be surrounded by people who love us and intend to support our life together.

Suffice it to say, we have decided to use this opportunity to learn and grow with each other. Thus begins the Save-the-Date and invitation designs (shout-out to my graphic designer cousin who has sent us some GORGEOUS proofs), the choosing of the venue, the payment of the minister and all the other love and energy that comes with planning a wedding.

Perhaps my subsequent posts will include more details about this process…

Thanks, again, for reading.

ezh

Making a Home

This year I moved to a city outside Washington, DC from another city that is near, but not as close to, our nation’s capital. If you know anything about the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, you know that life here can become pretty hectic and stressful if you are into that kind of thing. Often, one’s commute to work can be miserable, and it is possible to feel like much of your life is spent at work or in route to work. I do not like that feeling. Quite honestly, I prefer a quiet, uncomplicated life with access to “city life” when the mood hits me.

Classic Best-of-Both-Worlds Syndrome.

My answer to the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC is to create a home and a life that is a reflection of my inner self  and not a reflection of the chaos that is the Baltimore Washington Parkway. This means finding ways to connect with nature and others; it means finding time to read, write and create; it means being mindful of the things I buy, eat and consume.  And it means creating spaces for peace and harmony to exist.

The obvious place to start is our (did I mention that I am recently married?) home. We live in a two-bedroom townhouse in a planned community near Baltimore. Cookie-cutter houses notwithstanding, it is a clean, safe place to live while we devise a plan to buy and renovate an old farm house farther from the city.  Though not incredibly close, a very good vegan (with a ton of gluten-free options) restaurant, an organic market (on par with Whole Foods) and several farmers markets are accessible, and we have found a lovely Unitarian Universalist church to attend when the spirit moves us.

We have spent the last few months turning our house into a home. We began  by adding texture and color to the rooms, shelves to the kitchen, eco-friendly cleaning products to our cabinets, and books everywhere. It is comfortable here. I am starting to feel like we live, and not just sleep, here.

I am always looking for new ways to add another layer of comfort and familiarity to our home, and today, while reading Amanda Soule’s blog, SouleMama I came across a great idea: cloth napkins! I love the idea of using cloth napkins in our home instead of paper/disposable napkins. In addition to being “green,” using cloth napkins gives the home a very natural, balanced feeling. I am most excited about taking trips to local thrift stores in search of vintage napkins and napkin rings.

I will post pictures soon.

What Makes Sense

I am a writer.

I have only published one (very good) book review in a small southern magazine about five years ago. That book review gained the attention of the folks at O The Oprah Magazine, but when they called and asked for additional writing samples, I froze (I really did not have anymore material because I was working as a copy editor, and I was not writing on a consistent basis), and needless to say, I missed a very interesting opportunity.

I am a writer.

I am often afraid to write. Even as I type, I am afraid that I do not have anything to say, and this post will be a waste of cyberspace. I guess part of writing is pushing through the fear and trying to say something anyway.

I am a writer.

As a result of my obsession with writing and lack of production, I am looking for a therapist. Yes, a psychotherapist. Perhaps I will discuss my childhood, my marriage and other pertinent things during therapy sessions.

I am a writer.

I am a writer who loves to read and to listen to lectures on writing and creativity.  I love to play chess as much as I love to read, and I wish I could draw.

I am a writer.

Welcome

Inaugural posts are always challenging; I am not sure how to formally introduce myself, and to be honest, I would like for the readers of this blog to get to know me through my posts and not some official introduction that I will ultimately have to live up to.  With that said, I love interviews, so whenever I come across an interesting interview, I will be posting my answers to questions that were asked to some really cool people, because, um, I am cool, too. 🙂

I thought I would start with my answers to the Vanity Fair’s Proust questionnaire.

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: A good book, good vegan, gluten-free food, and a happy family.

Q: What is your greatest fear?

A: That I am sometimes too afraid to hear what my heart has to say… and that my death will be tragic. Oh, and failure.

Q: Which historical figure do you most identify with?

A: Jesus, sans the crucifixion.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?

A: Anybody enrolled in a Ph.D program.

Q: Which is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

A: I can be extremely critical of myself and others.

Q: Which is the trait that you most deplore in others?

A: Judgmental, self-righteousness behavior, and cowardice.

Q: What is your greatest extravagance?

A: My 15-inch MacBook Pro (and my iPhone 3GS)

Q: On what occasion do you lie?

A: Hmm… I sometimes say that I like things when I don’t.

Q: What do you dislike most about your appearance?

A: I really have a difficult time accepting the size of my arms; they make me look bigger than I am.

Q: When and where were you happiest?

A: In undergrad. Only I did not know it.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

A: I would stop allowing fear to influence my decisions.

Q: If you could change one thing about your family what would it be?

A: My mother would have demonstrated her love.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A: Learning to love myself and command love and respect from others.

Q: If you died and came back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A: …maybe a rock or a planet. I am not sure.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

A: My mind, my journals, my wedding band and my MacBook Pro.

Q: What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?

A: Slavery…and the inability to love

Q: Who are your heroes in real life?

A: My eleventh-grade English teacher, Hedy A. Jackson, and anybody who is committed to social justice.

Q: What is it that you most dislike?

A: Cowardice.

Q: How would you like to die?

A: Loved.

Q: What is your motto?

A: “I found God in myself, and I loved her. I loved her fiercely.” (Ntozake Shange)

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