What can you say?

Quakers have Truth as one of their testimonies. The title of the post refers to a quote

You will say Christ saith this, and the apostles say this,
but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?

  • Margaret Fell, quoting from her first encounter with George Fox

Sometimes one of the hardest things to do in life is have a difficult conversation with someone. Speaking Truth is an uncomfortable thing, yet avoiding the truth in conversations can lead to misery and misunderstanding.

One of my interests is in the tensions between the feminist movement and the growing strength of  the Men’s Rights activism. On one hand we have women who still blame the patriarchy for the oppression of women, and on the other hand we have men who are becoming militant in their support of other men who have the high rates of suicide and other indicators of emotional distress.

It is easy to assign the roles of aggressor to males and victim to women without thought, yet as a woman who has experienced bullying by other females of the species for much of my life, I know how aggressive and abusive girls and women can be without raising their finger against you.  Equally I know men who have been victims of family abuse – up to and including physical assault and false claims to the police.

The growing body of evidence is people (regardless of their gender or sexual orientation) who are in abusive relationships just want to be asked if there is a problem, to be challenged in their story that they “just fell down the stairs”.

So if you suspect someone is being abused – just ask.  Be prepared they may even deny it, but it is OK to ask.

Posted in Feminist, Quaker | Leave a comment

Transactional analysis – a tool for communication

Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis was a tool I learned as a child, thanks to my Mum (Margaret) giving me the book TA for kids (and grown ups too) by Alvyn & Margaret Freed.  This gave me the tools and language to express the feelings that I had.  I loved the book, I still love it…having just got a copy again as an adult.

What does TA give in terms of tools: It allows us, at the simplest level, to work out why we respond to people in different ways…depending on the ego state (Parent, Adult or Child) we are functioning in, and the other person is functioning in.

Beyond this, it has language to help us identify things like our repeated patterns of behaviour and communication – and where they are disfunctional to work on different ways of communicating.

I will probably write more about this in my blog over time, but to illustrate…blogging is an adult ego state where I am reaching out to communicate with your adult ego state.  However, sometimes in these blogs I may express values, which are part of a parent ego state or emotions which are part of the child ego state.

I like TA, as it fits in with my world view as shaped by my convincement as a Quaker.  It is a tool that upholds so many of the Quaker testimonies.

Posted in Equality, Justice, Peace, Simplicity, transactional analysis, Truth | Leave a comment

Cats and being their servant

I mention in the bit about myself that I am a co-servant to two cats along with my best friend J.

J was a dog person until he met Archie.

Archie (AKA Chi, his royal Chi-ness, fluff ball, oi-you!) was a rather underage and under size ball of fluff living with our landlady when we first got to Cambridgeshire. He walked out from under the sofa and climbed up J’s leg and said “You belong to me.” There was no argument to be had with this determined wee tabby of uncertain pedigree (some maine coon we think, but mostly moggie).

Asbo (AKA as ‘Bo, Mr Snuggle monster, you big sook), was the cat that Archie invited home to stay as revenge for being kept inside for 6 weeks once we shifted to our current house (it was for his own good, he would have got himself built into the walls of one of the other houses in this terrace). Asbo was a very skinny stray tabby boy, who turned out to have the loveliest nature – illustrating that cats are nicer than humans.

Cats like routine. Like dogs and most humans. These boys have us well worked towards a cat friendly routine, with morning cuddle for Asbo while I eat breakfast, through to a very precise routine of supper and bedtime, where Archie gets to sleep on J’s office chair. If we get the routine wrong, we hear about it.

Now one problem with cats is they can’t read, so they know nothing about Quaker testimonies, particularly the ones on Equality, Simplicity and the environment. So us humans are most definitely their servants and cats demand greatly complex loving, while bringing us home a selection of wildlife, regardless of how well they are fed (J blames Asbo, Archie is so untrained at hunting we doubt he could catch a cold).

But that is the nature of cat love…and I for one would not have it any other way.

Posted in cats, Environment, Equality, Quaker, Simplicity | Leave a comment

Seasonal Affective Disorder

For all I like the opportunities that living and working in the UK has given me, I struggle each year with the winter. I get more sleepy, more hungry for carbs and my mood is lower.

I was fortunate that when I was researching my dissertation for my Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics, I learned a whole heap about what was a fairly under-researched area of mental health dealing with winter depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, so when it struck in my second winter in the UK, I was not completely clueless as to what was wrong with me.

Now nearly 15 years on, I think I have finally cracked a good “recipie” for me to get through the winter more or less intact:

  • Effexor – still fiddling to find the right dose
  • 30 minutes of physical activity daily using my Wii fit
  • a minimum of 30 minutes of light therapy using my light visor in the morning
  • 10 mg of Vitamin B6 between day 21 and day 28 to deal with the PMS
  • 10 mcg of Vitamin D (although this is a controversial area, with my interest in nutrigenomics, I am prepared to go with its benefit for me)
  • Mindfulness, accepting this is a tough time of year for me!

So if you find the winter hard, it can be worth considering SAD as a possible cause of your lower mood, increased sleepiness and weight gain.

Posted in anxiety, depression, diet, seasonal affective disorder | Leave a comment

What is a Quaker?

If you ask three Quakers what they believe, you will get four answers.

This is one of those Quaker jokes. More than an element of truth (with a small t as opposed to Truth with a large T, but more on that later), in that joke, like all good jokes.

Quakers is the informal name for the Religious Society of Friends.  The Wikki entry is a good overall view of Friends (another of our names), worldwide.

When I became a convinced member of Friends,  I was attending the Dunedin Monthly Meeting of the Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting. So I am a member of an unprogrammed tradition. In New Zealand, we are privelaged as a community to have been gifted a Maori name for the Religious Society of Friends  “Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri”, which translates as “A people who are moved by the winds of the Spirit”.

Now, living in England, I am a member of Ely Meeting, part of Cambridgeshire Area Meeting. We are a smallish, newly established Meeting for Worship. We have no premises of our own, having our Meeting for Worship at the Old Dispensary in Ely on Sunday morning at 10:30am. My home meeting is part of the Britian Yearly Meeting

So in just over 200 words I have given not a single clue about what I believe as a Quaker.  I guess that is the great thing for me about being a member of the Society fo Friends – because I know that faith is so complex, it is so personal and individual, it can be hard to say exactly what I believe.

By being a member, I am saying I am prepared to participate in the life of the community to which I have chosen to become a member, and I have sympathy with the testimonies of Friends.

These testimonies are big picture stuff and include; Truth, Justice, Simplicity, Peace and our newest testimony to the Environment.

Again, this says little of what I believe and it can be very hard to explain that my faith community does not tell me HOW to believe these things.  I must take an adult and rational decision about all my actions in life and consider whether or not they uphold the testimonies.

I suspect I will find lots of blog material on the theme of being Quaker and our testimonies and how they apply to my life – but for now I leave you with a favourite quote

“walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

Posted in Environment, Equality, Justice, Peace, Quaker, Simplicity, Truth | 1 Comment

Food as fuel/Food as fun

I just got back from the weekly shopping trip for groceries.

As you can see by the date we are in the middle of the rush, pre-Christmas. I was shopping to our regular list and avoiding attempting to avoid getting lured into buying extra treats.

I am not a food nazi, despite what most people think of my profession (BTW, I am a dietitian who specialises in obesity, for those of you who don’t know me IRL). However, I do like most women over the age of 35 have to watch what I eat.

I feel I have a pretty healthy attitude to food. I like it, I cook it, I talk about it daily in my job. I have few dislikes and no “forbidden foods”.   However, in many years of speaking with other people I have found few people who have the mental split between “food for fuel” and “food for fun”, which I live with in my head.

As a dietitian, I know a lot about the healthy eating messages. As a person interested in genetics and the impact food has on our genetic expression (there is a newish discipline called nutrigenomics, which I think is really, really interesting), I have experimented to work out what works best for me, using limited tools such as my weight, waist measurement and general sense of well-being. So in my head I am often thinking “Right, to fuel my body I need to eat X, Y & Z”. So sometimes, when I am planning the day, I will be thinking “right, I am going to need this kind of fuel to optimise my performance.”

I am not sure how much of my food would be “fuel food” – probably as high as 70% on some occasions.

The other side – food for fun, involves thinking what I would like to eat.  And that is the times I eat the foods that other people would say “Surely as a dietitian, you shouldn’t eat chocolate/crisps/cake etc” . Yet I am human, I like sweet, salty and fatty foods. And guess what, they taste really good at times. So I get a bit tired of comments about my eating when I chose the fun foods.

However, most of the food selections I make are not about fun, they are about fueling my body. A body I like and I am pleased to say is only 1.5kg heavier than it was when I was 18 years old.

I think that splitting food into fuel and fun has helped me maintain that balance – and has also made me appreciate the foods I eat, when I eat for fun.

Posted in diet, Food, obesity | Leave a comment

To blog or not to blog

I like the Internet.  I get to see lots of people’s thoughts and ideas. I post comments reasonably frequently, so I figure I must have something to say.

This is a bit of an experiment. I don’t know how my musings will be received, if by anyone at all.

However, my faith tradition is one of  “Speaking Truth to All”, so in this modern world, maybe I am using a different medium to speak my Truth as a minority of 1.

Posted in Feminist, Internet, Quaker | Leave a comment