Gary Marriage-Men

Equality, Marriage, and Gay Rights

Gay MarriageLet me start by saying that I believe these are three, separate issues that should not be further complicated by intertwining them, because they are each so simple, yet seem to be made utterly complex in today’s society.

Personally, I don’t understand the confusion. Since I live in the United States of America, I will address these issues as they relate to the laws of our land. But bear in mind that I feel these rights apply to our very humanity, so in that sense, should not alter from one country to another, but should be instead be universal in their application.

Allow me to address each issue, individually:

1. Equality – The most famous sentence from The Declaration of Independence is found in it’s second paragraph and reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (see http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)  So, according to the law of the land, there really is no debate here. “All men (humans) are created equal”. Period.

2. Marriage – The loudest complaint I hear on this issue comes from the Religious Right/Conservative community, claiming that it is imperative that “the sanctity” of marriage be protected. Their defense normally goes something like this: “Marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.” And they base this assertion on passages of scripture, most specifically; Genesis 2: 22-24, which reads: “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” But I also hear people quoting a similar verse; Matthew 19: 4-6, which reads – “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

So, I want to be completely clear on something that I haven’t heard anyone else really focusing on. My position is this – Ok. Fine. I agree with them. Let MARRIAGE remain a “sacred union” between one man and one woman. But before you get defensive, hear me out.

Marriage _SHOULD_ be ONLY a sacred union. Between God (thus the designation “sacred”, ie; related to God) and His (I specify gender here because we are discussing marriage, which is primarily a religious convention/tradition of the Abrahamic faiths…whose god is male) followers. I find it kind of interesting that we hear so much talk about division of church and state…but somehow marriage is not really addressed in those conversations. My point is this – IF there is going to be a “sacred ritual” involving covenants and agreements between a deity and it’s worshippers, then I’m ok with that. BUT, but, but…it absolutely SHOULD be confined to the realm of religion and we should NEVER assign LEGAL BENEFITS to those who choose to participate in a religious ritual. Why society ever decided people should have to receive a “license” from the state in order to participate in, and more importantly, validate, such a religious ritual is baffling to me. The only rational explanation in my mind is that the state saw it as a means of revenue generation.

If you do some research into the origins of marriage you will find some pretty interesting stuff. According to Barbara G. Walker’s comprehensive work, “The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets”, ‘The word marriage came from Latin maritare, union under the auspices of the Goddess Aphrodite-Mari. Because the Goddess’s patronage was constantly invoked in every aspect of marriage, Christian fathers were opposed to the institution. Origen declared, “Matrimony is impure and unholy, a means of sexual passion.” St. Jerome said the primary purpose of a man was to “cut down with an ax of Virginity the wood of Marriage.” St. Ambrose said marriage was a crime against God, because it changed the state of virginity that God gave every man and woman at birth. Tertulian said marriage was a moral crime “more dreadful than any punishment or death.” It was spurcitiae, “obscenity”, or “filth.” St. Augustine flatly stated that marriage is a sin. Tatian said marriage is corruption, “a polluted and foul way of life.” Influenced by him, Syrian churches ruled that no person could become Christian except celibate men, and no man who had ever been married could be baptized. Saturninus said God made only two kinds of people, good men and evil women. Marriage perpetuated the deviltry of women, who dominated men through the magic of sex. Centuries later, St. Bernard still proclaimed that it was easier for a man to bring the dead back to life than to live with a woman without endangering his soul.” Ms. Walker goes on to explain, in well documented detail, the history and evolution of the institution of marriage, and it’s really very insightful reading! I won’t quote all of what she has to say here, but will share two other pertinent points; 1. According to William J. Fielding’s Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage, New York: Garden City Publishing, Co. 1942, “There was no Christian sacrament of marriage until the 16th century.” And 2. According to W. Carew Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore of the British Isles (2 vols.) New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1965, “The Anglican marriage service came from the Anglo-Saxon deeds used to transfer a woman’s land to the stewardship of her “houseman”(husband).

So, it all comes back to money, possessions, and control of them. And, of course, the government could not pass up the opportunity to get it’s share of the action.

But back to my opinion, which is this: Keep religion OUT of the legal system. And let’s not assign certain tax, medical insurance, or other legal benefits to those who have chosen to participate in this (what should be a purely) religious institution.

3. Gay Rights – I really think this one is easy and a no-brainer. I’ll just refer you back to my comments above in item #1 and the fact that humans are (all) endowed with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing is mentioned about sexual preference, race, nationality, culture, etc. Everyone deserves equal treatment. And especially so when it comes to legal benefits.

So, IF marriage is going to go outside the confines of a purely religious ritual and instead, carries with it certain benefits and privileges bestowed by the government and our legal system, then ALL PEOPLE should be able to participate in these benefits…because THE LAW and THE GOVERNMENT should not be in the business of religion.

Just my two cents 😉

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Until next time…

Tracy

pulling-hair-out

I am really damn frustrated!

Ok, so, I haven’t been writing much lately and the honest truth is that I am frustrated as hell with diet and my weight. Ugh! So, I guess I”m just going to have to tell the story.

By February 2009 I reached an all-time high weight of 193 pounds. And I decided something had to change. I’d been following a mostly raw foods lifestyle for close to 2 years at that time, but unlike other raw foodists who reported losing tonz of weight, I hadn’t lost the weight I wanted to lose. At 5’9″ tall, I can carry more weight than most, but still, my ideal weight hovers somewhere between 140 and 160 pounds. So, at best I was 30 pounds overweight and I was feeling it. I decided to get serious about the weight loss. And by mid-summer of that year I had lost the 30 pounds and was down to 160. Weight-wise I felt great! I was thin…people were telling me that I was skinny…and I felt good in my clothes.

The unexpected turn in that story is that I began experiencing symptoms. Many of which I would later lean were a result of pre-menopause and hormonal imbalance…but I am quite sure that many of the symptoms were also due to my diet. I had a perpetual deep muscle pain in the back of my left thigh, and I became severely anemic. My energy dropped dramatically and my monthly period was lasting two weeks to a month at a time. I was fatigued and light headed. And during my period I felt a deep pain from my abdomen clear through to my lower back.

And I began having such extreme joint pain in my knees that I believed I would have to live with rheumatoid arthritis for the rest of my life.

I also developed horizontal ridges on my fingernails…a symptom indicative of iron and vitamin B12 deficiency. My husband and I decided it was time to reintroduce more red meat into my diet.

Since that time most of those symptoms have been eliminated…but some new ones have taken their place; I’ve started having nighttime numbness and tingling in my arms and sometimes my legs. I have also experienced pain in the left side of my neck. And had chronic charlie horses in my left toes. And occasionally I have felt a slight flutter or pressure in my chest. These symptoms all freak me out because my dad had a double heart attack, and then more recently, my brother who is my elder by 10 years had a heart attack and was diagnosed with diabetes. I have tried to be so careful about what I eat that it blows my mind to think that I might be pre-diabetic…but I’d be crazy to not consider that this is a strong possibility.

So, my weight…

I have regained almost all of the weight that I lost and kept off for over a year and a half without effort on the high-raw foods diet. But I felt lousy. Lately I have been following a low-carb and then the Weight Watchers program and I have to say that I am no longer experiencing joint pain and the pain in my neck and numbness in my arms has diminished significantly…but it’s become more and more difficult to lose weight now that my hormones have changed. And it frustrates the hell out of me! My body no longer responds to diet the way it used to…and I don’t really know what to do about it. I don’t have the patience to lose 1/2 a pound a week…I want to get back down to that comfortable 160 weight, at a minimum, but don’t really know that best path to do it. I’m in a holding pattern right now while I try to decide what is the best path for my body. Clearly, high-raw with no animal protein does not work for me. But I don’t know that low-carb does either.

I just needed to vent. I would love to hear from anyone else who has gone through menopause and has had this same challenge.

More to come.

Tracy

Raw Foods

My Experience Going 100% Raw

I feel it’s important that I tell you about my own introduction to the raw foods lifestyle and why I ended up developing the Eighty Percent Raw Plan.

The process started on September 6th, 2001. My husband and I were on a business trip to New York City just 5 days prior to 911. It was just a quick over-nighter so early the following day we made the long flight back to Portland.

Four days later we were on yet another business trip to the east coast, but this time our destination was Tampa, Florida. We arrived late on the evening of September 10th and, as you know, at 8:00am the next morning all hell broke loose. The gravity of our situation quickly sunk in as we realized that we were stranded in Tampa, 3,000 miles away from home. Our teenage children were in Portland dealing with the situation all by them selves and we had no idea what to expect next.  In addition to all of this, I received a phone call from my oldest son in Texas, who had recently enlisted with the United States Army National Guard Reserves, informing me that he was on red alert awaiting orders to report for Basic Training. Needless to say, I was in a high state of anxiety, but doing my best to stay calm and balanced. What a relief it was three days later to learn the airport in Tampa was re-opening sooner than anticipated and we would be able to return home within the week. Once again in Oregon we tried to adopt an optimistic attitude that life would get back to normal, but like everyone else, the foundation of our reality had been severely shaken. And it wasn’t long before it became glaringly apparent that this experience would not be without its own deep seated repercussions.

Long story short, one month later on October 10th, 2001, I found out for the first time what it feels like to have a spontaneous panic attack. Little did I realize at the time the impact these episodes would have on my life for years to come.

This whole sequence of events began a domino effect that would ultimately lead to the development of my Eighty Percent Raw diet and lifestyle plan.  But at that point in time all I knew was that something inside me had broken and I wanted nothing more than to fix it.

Fortunately I was raised by a mother who taught me at an early age to trust in my own intuition and the wisdom found in nature. We weren’t a family who went to the doctor for every little cough or cold that came along. In fact, I can probably count on two hands the number of times I visited our family physician during my childhood and adolescent years. Though I did occasionally take over the counter pain relievers or allergy medications, I was trained to prepare home remedies and concoctions based on natural herbs and foods such as lemon, vinegar, honey, garlic, olive oil and the like for healing whatever might ail me. I was also taught that diet plays a huge role in our overall health and well-being. This training served me well when later in life I was confronted with this break down in my body’s immune system.

In retrospect I have to say that, if nothing else, having those panic attacks taught me many valuable lessons about the power of pharmaceutical drugs to harm our bodies, especially when contrasted by the gentle healing properties inherent within whole and living foods. And I was flat astonished that the doctor I visited didn’t even bother to ask any questions about my diet or make suggestions regarding what I ate in the hope that this might alter my chemistry in a positive way and potentially heal my miserable condition. I knew, at an intuitive level, that this was the key to my healing.

It was through this experience that I became more acutely in tune with my own body and its nutritional needs.

I began experimenting with different foods to discover which might improve and which could exacerbate the panic tendencies in my system. I had a firm belief that “you are what you eat” and possessed first hand knowledge that the food and beverages we consume directly affect the chemical balance in our bodies.  Despite the fact that I was still eating much more cooked food than raw at that point, I was beginning to learn about foods that might contribute to a sense of calm and well being, and began incorporating more of these foods into my daily menus. I also investigated foods which might agitate or excite and I avoided these like the plague. It was at this time in my life that I decided to eliminate all processed foods, such as; refined grains, refined white sugar, all dairy products, artificial sweeteners, caffeinated beverages, and other non-whole foods from my diet. And I began to experience a level of healing as a result.

I lost weight and was feeling a significant improvement which sustained me for the next several years.

Fast forward to 2007, and keep in mind that I was observing the slow but steady decline in my father’s health, which not only made me concerned for his well-being, but also fed into fears I was suppressing about what my own future could be looking like if I followed in his footsteps, and we have the setting for my seemingly random introduction to raw foods.

Dad suffered a double heart attack about ten years previous to this time and had subsequently experienced many other health problems, the least of which were not the multiple mini-strokes which were beginning to significantly impact his memory, motor skills, and cognitive abilities.

My father was a brilliant man; an aeronautical engineer by profession, and his intellect was something I had always taken great pride in. So it was very deeply disturbing for me to see such a decline in not only his physical capabilities, but more significantly, in his mental health.

Even though mom always tried to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals, we basically consumed the Standard American Diet (SAD). This consisting of mostly cooked foods which contained a considerable amount of wheat flour (mom insisted on baking with only the unbleached kind) and white flour in the form of noodles, tortillas, pizzas, store-bought doughnuts, coffee cakes, cookies and crackers to supplement the home-made variety. We frequently had potato chips, Ritz and graham crackers in the house to snack on. Breakfast was cold or hot cereal with milk and sugar, pancakes, waffles, or a couple slices of cinnamon toast. Lunches were deli meat and cheese sandwiches or left over casserole or stew from a prior evening’s meal. Dinners were generally a noodle-based casserole, which more often than not was based on a cream and/or cheese sauce and meat of some kind. We also had lots of home-made soups and stews or mashed potatoes with gravy. Vegetables were usually from a can or sometimes the over-cooked frozen kind. Fruit came from a bottle that mom put up herself because she thought this was a healthier option than buying canned fruit from the store – but in reality these fruits were heavily cooked and saturated in sugar syrup. Often times we had home-made muffins or dinner rolls to accompany our evening meal. And most nights we also had dessert of ice cream, home made cake or cookies. The one really raw thing mom always insisted on having along side whatever else was served for dinner was a basic green salad (iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot, sliced radish and scallions) or coleslaw. But it was almost an after thought for the rest of us and we rarely, if ever, ate it.

I’m guessing all of this is sounding very familiar to you…

So, that is the basic diet dad lived on his entire adult life. Add to this the fact that he liked to “treat himself” to jugs full of Flavor-Ade prepared with a cupful of white sugar per gallon and cans of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli and you can begin to see where this might wreak havoc in his system and very likely led to his ultimate demise.

But we just didn’t know any better in those days. The fact that mom chose not to feed us Wonderbread and checked labels to make sure we weren’t consuming “artificial preservatives” put us (we thought) smack dab in the center of the health-food crowd.

So, raw foods…

In 2007 I was browsing MySpace when I came across a page by a woman who claimed to be a “Raw Foodist”. This label caught my attention because I had never heard the term before. There were lots of links on her page to websites on the subject so I jumped in with both feet! I was very intrigued by this unusual philosophy and lifestyle! When I discovered that the FDA assigns the same nutritional value to both a raw almond and a roasted almond, yet if we take one of each and plant them in the ground only the raw one will sprout and grow, that information struck a chord with me. Then when I further learned that science teaches that when foods are heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit the naturally occurring enzymes are killed, and that the enzymes are the “living” part of the food, so when we eat foods that have been cooked, pasteurized and heated to this degree we are consuming essentially nutrient dead foods, the light just went on in my head. I was convinced this was the key to improving my own health and that a huge part of the reason my body had broken down in the first place was due to the fact that I had been feeding it primarily dead food my entire life. My body simply hadn’t been receiving the nutrition it needed to thrive.

I decided to try this lifestyle for myself to find out if it made a difference in my body. By this time I had also been experiencing pretty extreme dizzy spells off and on, for a few years…mostly when I moved dramatically from a vertical to a horizontal position, or vice versa. And while I’d learned to live with this condition I did wish it would go away.

So, I immediately began following a 98% raw foods lifestyle. For six weeks the only cooked foods I consumed were small amounts of condiments such as traditional soy sauce, Tobasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, etc. I was completely devoted! And…I was rewarded with astonishing results for my efforts! I lost 15 pounds of excess weight and the dizzy spells I had been combating for years completely went away. As a bonus, the dry, flakey skin on my shins and the athlete’s foot on my left foot that had been bothering me for ages “magically” went away! My husband and teenagers even commented on how amazing all of this was!

But there was a trade off.

I quickly learned that many of the raw foods I was enjoying were not palatable to the rest of my family. My husband could not tolerate such core raw food ingredients as; avocados, mushrooms, sea weed, squash or sweet potatoes of any kind, or anything that seemed “strange” or out of the ordinary. And as a result mealtime became a huge challenge. While I was blissfully consuming raw foods that were making me feel fabulous, my husband and teenagers were subsisting on frozen burritos, pizzas, corn dogs, and Hot Pockets. I felt horrible knowing that these foods were not healthy for them and at the same time, this difference in our eating habits was creating a massive divide in our family meal time. This became a big problem and it quickly became clear that something had to change. Additionally, my 100% raw approach proved to be a problem when we went out to eat, turning what used to be an enjoyable and blissful experience into one of discontent and frustration.

While I was experiencing this difficulty in our personal life, I was also participating in some very active, online raw food communities, message boards and discussion forums. These groups were great for offering new recipe ideas and support…but I began to notice a tendency toward fanaticism that was really starting to bother me. There was such an emphasis on being 100% raw that it teetered on the verge of being religious or dogmatic in attitude, and this, I felt, was unhealthy. Threads about the lack of available options when dining out came up and there were many who expressed a concern that the only menu item appropriate for raw foodists at most restaurants was the side salad, and at that, there were no dressing choices that didn’t more than likely contain some cooked ingredient. To me, this whole discussion was ridiculous. I figured if you were dining out and you chose to eat the salad as your meal, then by damn, eat whatever dressing you like! You’re still far and away ahead of most people who are making less healthy food choices! But not these people…there was talk of carrying your own, home-made, raw dressing in your purse so that you’d have something you knew was 100% raw to put on your bed of salad greens at the restaurant.

All of this, combined with the stress of division over meals in our home life, made me rethink my approach.

And that’s when I began to recognize the benefit of an Eighty Percent Raw Plan.

(More to come…)

Jeff and Tracy Speaking at Seattle Hempfest

My Cannabis Activism

On June 28th, 2001 Jeff and I published a full-page ad in Portland, Oregon’s alternative news-weekly, Willamette Week, boldly proclaiming ourselves to be mainstream Americans, good neighbors, and pot smokers. We subsequently published the same ad in Seattle’s The Stranger and San Francisco’s Bay Guardian. Our marijuana drug war activism resulted in invitations to appear as guests on television, rock, and AM talk radio stations all across the country as well as articles being written about us in notable magazines and newspapers. Read the original full-page ad, watch video footage, and listen to audio interviews by visiting our website HERE