Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I have the right.

At work, we've been doing the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, for our own personal use and also as a tool and resource for the clients we serve. It's an amazing program with an incredible history, and I encourage everyone (mental health diagnosis or not) to check it out.

I've been in training for WRAP the past couple of days, and I was struck by the bill of rights we discussed at the beginning of the training. It's incredible how we so often forget what we deserve as people. I find this list to be extremely empowering:


1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can't meet.
3. I have the right to change my mind.
4. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
5. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
6. I have the right to express all of my feelings, both positive or
negative, in a manner that will not harm others.
7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it
is unsafe, or it violates my values.
8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions,
feelings or problems.
10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
11. I have the right to feel angry at someone I love and to express this
in a responsible manner.
12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
13. I have the right to feel scared and say "I'm afraid."
14. I have the right to say "I don't know."
15. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings, beliefs
and values.
16. I have the right to my own reality.
17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
19. I have the right to be healthy.
20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around
22. I have the right to change and grow.
23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
25. I have the right to grieve.
26. I have the right to a fulfilling sex life.
27. I have the right to be happy.

Source: (Adapted by Mary Ellen Copeland from the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,
Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D., 1990, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, CA.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fiero's Worst Day Ever

Today was a scary day. Fiero had his first visit to the Vet for something other than routine shots. We found a little round lump on his neck, and thought it was worth taking him in for a check up. He was so wonderful, despite being visibly miserable/scared/confused. Other than some initial hissing upon being picked up by the vet, he didn't make a peep. And he didn't once try to wiggle away from the vet or scratch at anyone.

After they got his weight (10 pounds!) and temperature, he sat in his crate while his momma petted him. At first he was curled up in the very back of his crate, but after a few minutes he wriggled up to the front where I could reach to pet his face. He was such a sweetheart, and I was so proud of how wonderfully behaved he was.

Thankfully, the vet said it is likely just a benign cyst, but suggested that we monitor it closely for any changes in size, shape, or texture.

Today reminded me just how much I love my cats & how big of a role they play in my life. It probably sounds dumb to most people, but my cats are truly part of my family. They provide me with therapeutic comfort, and watching them being cute brings me such genuine joy. I have always loved animals, and I find them to be an incredibly powerful and inspiring way to learn more about life and ourselves. I am so very blessed to have two wonderful kitties to keep me company. They truly do brighten my life, and I will never be ashamed to admit that.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Life keeps happening...

Here's a quick update of a few things going on in life right now:

  • That nasty cold I had a couple weeks ago has come back, in the form of an even nastier (probably) sinus infection.
  • I have discovered my new favorite place in the world: The Nashville Dog Park, particularly with Marie & her beautiful dog Bella. 
  • I'm still waiting to hear from Big Brothers Big Sisters about whether or not I've been accepted as a volunteer. 
  • Someone important to me has just been diagnosed with cancer. If you pray, please say one for her.
  • Nathan & I are going to the American Academy of Religion South-Eastern Conference this weekend in Atlanta. We're pretty excited about the trip. 
  • I'm going to start studying for the GRE soon, to get ready for MSSW/MSW grad school applications. Scary. 
That's all I have time to say. I can't even begin to explain how busy things have been lately. Then the weekend comes, and I can hardly get off the couch from my work-week paralysis. But I love it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Next tattoo...

I would like my next tattoo to be the dogwoods from this drawing:

Geninne Zlatkis

I've always loved dogwoods. They'll always be a symbol of home for me. And they're just so lovely and delicate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I met Emmylou Harris

Last night was our big annual fundraiser at Park Center, "How About Dinner & A Movie?" I volunteered to work it, and Nathan came as my guest.... it was a lot of fun, and the whole event made me so proud to be a part of this organization & proud of the work I do every day. We had a HUGE silent auction, with about 60 amazing donated gift items. There were some really killer items, including some beautiful art pieces from local artists & from Park Center members. Aside from the silent auction, there was a tasty dinner, some honoring of Emmylou Harris for her work in the community, and a movie chosen by Emmylou herself. The whole shabang was held at the Belcourt Theatre. Oh it was a very fun evening.

And, as a side note, I got to meet Emmylou Harris & have a conversation with her. Pretty cool, huh?

It was kind of surreal to be in an auditorium full of Nashville do-gooders who care about what I do on a daily basis & want to support our work & our amazing members. That realization, plus several glasses of complimentary wine, and I was on cloud-nine. It was absolutely worth the 14-hour work day.

I love my job.

Hubby came to support.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I have the best friends ever.

So Friday night was the Vanderbilt Divinity School's gala... An adult prom, if you will. Last year's 1920's-themed gala was so incredibly fun, and we totally looked the part:

This year's gala was 1950's/1960's-themed, which was a bit harder to dress for. I decided on grandma's handmade plaid skirt from the 60's (pretty legit), with a white button-up blouse & a school-girl cardigan. I looked like a high-schooler from the 60's... Which I guess was appropriate for the evening.

Okay, clothes aside, it was such a fun night. At first I was a little intimidated by all of the people. This year, Nathan knows a lot more people, so he was more social. Which meant I had to fend for myself some...l but I was actually fine with that cause I got to hang out with my friends, who have lovingly accepted me into their friend group despite my not being a Vandy student. :-) Actually, our friends are really awesome. I've had the greatest time over the past several months getting to know them more and spending time together. It's the best. And Gala was a really fun time to spend together. And, they all looked pretty damn fine, seriously.

Sarah & Lauren are the greatest.

Nathan, Marie, Sarah, Lauren, & me!
I'm so grateful for my friends. For the evenings watching documentaries together and sharing our wisdom, opinions, and ideas with one another. For the times when I ramble & rant, and my friends listen fully and encourage me. For the theological discussions that sound really snobby but are actually totally genuine and thoughtful. For the cabin weekend eating, laughing, and steaming in the hot tub. For introducing me to Glee, duh. For hanging out with me and Nathan together. For loving Jet's pizza. And for all just being ourselves together. Thanks, friends. :-)

Friday, February 17, 2012


Please, if you live in Nashville, take a moment to research SB 2508, which will essentially make it illegal to be homeless.

I work as a direct care provider for mentally ill adults in the Nashville area, and a great number of my clients have been homeless during their lifetimes. So many of the men and women trying to make it on the streets are mentally ill, which makes it even harder for them to acquire a job, apply for benefits, find housing, etc. More attention needs to be put into serving these individuals and helping them get the mental healthcare they need to be able to function fully in society, rather than criminalizing them and pushing them further away from recovery. The men and women with whom I work are truly good people and have overcome obstacles that most of us have been blessed enough to never face. This bill will not address the problem of homelessness or make it any less present in Nashville; it will only cause more suffering and social immobility for those at the bottom rungs of society.

The house voted on this bill yesterday, and unfortunately it passed. The senate votes on Tuesday.

Please, please take a moment to e-mail Governor Haslam, your senator, all the senators, whatever you can do!

For a list of senators & their contact info, click here.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I love being surprised by nature. I love how the natural world sometimes seems to contradict itself, particularly in terms of its beauty. Like being in Mississippi after Katrina and seeing the most beautiful little lonesome flower growing next to a pile of wooden debris from the destruction of an entire town. Or, on a smaller scale, vegetables that are surprising and inspiring when you cut them open to see a vibrancy you never imagined from a normal root vegetable.

Meet the watermelon radish. Looks like a normal root from the outside:

But when you cut into it, you find the most stunning shade of magenta:

The photos don't even do it justice. It's so pretty!

And what about rainbow chard. Have you ever seen chard greens with hot pink or orange stems? They're something else...

I'm glad that nature likes to mix it up sometimes. :-) It's pretty impressive, to say the least.


"Listening, as far as I’m concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying “I love you” is being a receptive listener…
Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors."
-Fred Rogers
Nathan shared this quote with me today, and I love it.
Listening is something we are always learning how to be better at.
I know I am.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lazy Sunday.

It does seem rather unfair that I have now had two colds this season. Isn't one enough?! I guess that's what happens when you work in the environment in which I do. Teachers & social workers.... Virus havens. Grrrr.

At least it hit over the weekend, so I've been able to have a lazy Sunday combatting the sore throat and congestion.

Mmmm, lazy Sundays, my favorite! They always begin with cinnamon rolls and coffee, and they end with Downton Abbey and cuddling with my best friend. What day could be better?

Today, we did have an hour or two of productivity, in which we washed & prepped our CSA veggies and made broth out of the unused stems & leaves.

We make a lot of recipes that use vegetable broth, so why not make it ourselves? And this gives us a way to utilize every bit of the veggies we got!

Making veggie broth is pretty darn easy. Just boil a pot of water with veggies in it (we used carrots, 1/2 an onion, beet stems & greens, turnip stems & greens, a bay leaf, and some salt), covered, for about an hour. Strain it through cheesecloth (or a coffee filter), and voila! Next time, if we make more, we'll freeze some of it to use later.
Our broth turned out this gorgeous rich color because of the beet stems... Isn't it pretty? It'll add a nice color to whatever we use it in.

The rest of our Sunday was, admittedly, very lazy. Some cuddling, tv-watching, napping, reading, etc. All the good stuff. :-)

And the cats enjoy lazy Sundays, too...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reason #2039481734 why my husband is the greatest:

Guys, Nathan is the most wonderful husband/friend/partner ever. Seriously. He knows and loves all of my little tics, and he reminds me of that as often as he can. And, he knows how to make me feel better. After a really bad day yesterday, he cuddled with me on the couch & then took me to Cheesecake Factory to have a margarita (or two) and some avocado eggrolls. He didn't let me even think about the fact that it wasn't financially responsible of us; he just wanted us to do something fun & spontaneous together. We sat at the bar and talked, while I sucked down my favorite guilty pleasure. We talked and laughed and had a great time, then went home & cuddled some more. It was the perfect pick-me-up. I love my husband, and I don't know how I got so incredibly lucky. He is the best friend I could ever possibly ask for (and he's also really handsome).

I did not take this picture.
In other news, I checked out some more books from the library, and I'm really excited about them! I'm in the midst of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, as well as nightly little bedtime stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Then onto Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Letter to My Daugher by Maya Angelou, and The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle. Yay! I'll let you know how they are. :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Saturday was my kind of day. I started the day with a Nonviolent Resistance Movement and Social Justice Committee with some incredible Nashville leaders. We discussed how to restore civil rights in Nashville, which is a very daunting task. It's empowering to be sitting around a table with amazing individuals who are committed to social justice and willing to share their wisdom with me. Though I do enjoy sleeping in on Saturdays, it's worth waking up at 7 to get to start my weekend this way.
During the day Saturday, I relaxed, napped, cuddled with cats, and worked out. Then, a wonderful Saturday night happened. Now, normally Nathan & I are getting ready for bed around 9, but Saturday we were getting ready to go out. Big for us. I got Nathan tickets to see Ani Difranco at the Cannery Ballroom (where we had our wedding reception), and we've been anticipating this show with bated breath! Ani Difranco is an incredible musician with a strong female voice and a strong opinion about social justice. She's probably one of the most bad ass women ever. Her show was everything I expected & more. I enjoyed it so much. And the Cannery is a lovely venue for a concert, too! It was a great night. We got out of the apartment and did something out of the ordinary for us; we let lose. And, we enjoyed the concert holding hands and sharing a couple kisses, while couples around us did as well. Same sex couples, hippie couples, straight couple, it didn't matter. There was something very freeing about being in an environment like that where we could all be ourselves (aside from the normal indie-pretense that happens at all shows in Nashville). That's the kind of crowd Ani Difranco attracts, which makes me love her even more. Granted, she is very intense, slightly gritty, and obviously different from me, but I have a great deal of respect for her. And, her music is amazing.

National Black AIDS Awareness Day

Today is an important day for awareness of the AIDS epidemic disproportionately affecting the Black community. One of the worst things we can do is to ignore AIDS and ignore the impact it has had among Black Americans.

"While only representing 14% of the U.S. population, Blacks account for 44% of all new HIV infections, according to the most recent information collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2009. We are the most disproportionately impacted racial/ethnic group across all sub-populations (e.g., men, women, youth, MSM) in the United States – at all stages of the disease – from new infections to deaths."

Get informed, Get involved, Get tested. 

There are plenty of free HIV/AIDS testing sites around Nashville. Park Center offers free testing, and we also have a case management team specifically for Black HIV/AIDS-at-risk adults. The First Response Center, founded by the awesome Ed Sanders, is also a great resource.

Let's all stop ignoring the subject and start working together to erase stigma and erase HIV/AIDS in our communities.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


So I'm in the midst of preparing myself for the Vanderbilt Divinity Gala, which is a 60's themed dance party at the Divinity School. I'm really excited, but trying to figure out what the heck to wear! I've been looking online for some inspiration....

And, of course, Twiggy:

And what about the hair?

I'll be sure to let you know what I end up with. :-)

The lovely Brussels Sprout!

I have discovered that I like brussels sprouts! They're simple yet have a complex range of flavors, and they're kinda cute, right? The only way I've ever cooked them is a simple oven roast, but I decided to get a bit more fancy. I found this recipe on my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen.

With this recipe, I browned some brussels sprout halves, then simmered them with shallots in white wine. After fully cooked, I used the remaining liquid to make a Dijon sauce. Ohh goodness, something delicious happened during that process. They were so incredible. I'm craving them right now, as I write this. If you like brussels sprouts, you've got to try this recipe!!

And of course, dinner wouldn't be complete without some gruyere cheese toast. Oh, yum!

I would probably deem this one of my favorite CSA dishes yet. It definitely makes dishes much yummier when you start with some quality, fresh-from-the-ground veggies. Thanks to our farm, Bountiful Blessings, for bringing us such quality produce.

As the Super Bowl commences, I will be in my yoga class and then coming home to watch Downton Abbey (on PBS), which is going to be so much better. :-)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Oh, where to start? I actually don't really have that much to say (that's a first). Nothing terribly exciting is happening at the Dryden household. Althou, there is one thing i'm pretty excited about...

I had a recent interview with Big Brothers Big Sisters because I've applied to be a Big Sister! I have a training in a couple of weeks, after which time they'll let me know if I've been accepted into the program. I've been dreaming of things to do with my little... Going to the park, baking cookies, doing crafts at my apartment, playing with the cats, going hiking, playing at the playground, painting our fingernails, watching movies, volunteering at the animal shelter (aka playing with puppies), lots & lots of conversations, helping her with her homework, and so many other fun things. Oh I really am so excited and eager to get my little! The whole process is very intentional, which I respect. They asked me a series of personal questions in my 2-hour interview, partly to make sure I'm safe & respectable enough to entrust with a child, and partly to find the best possible match. I'm glad there is so much energy and thought put into finding a Big for a Little and vice versa. I actually had the option of having a Little Brother because there simply aren't enough male volunteers. I have no problem with little boys, but part of what excites me about being a mentor is the challenge to empower and encourage a young girl and remind her what strength she has as a female. That's just not told to girls often enough, and the images/messages told to them instead can be seriously detrimental on individual and societal levels.

All that to say, I can't wait to be a Big Sister. It's an incredible organization, please check them out if you have some time to spare to empower a kid.