Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thankful! New Year Good Wishes From Amelia M.L. Montes

Visiting mi tierra de Los Angeles
At Avenue 50 Studio Art Gallery in Pasadena, Califas
On the 21st of this month—a day marking a rejuvenation, a renewal toward transitions, I started the day not in the Midwest (where I’ve been living for the past 12 years), but back in my hometown, “mi tierra” de Los Angeles, chanting and breathing deeply in tantric meditation (gracias for the invitation from writer Terry Wolverton!).

Meditation and Yoga class on December 21, 2012.  Thank you Terry Wolverton!
Pictured left to right:  Bobi Behrens, Yvonne M. Estrada, Terry Wolverton, Amelia M.L. Montes
It was necessary for me to leave the Midwest for a bit—to go to the pacific coast, re-connecting with friends/familia as well as finally meeting Michael Sedano, one of the founders of La Bloga.  So grateful to Michael and all my fellow bloguistas:  Rudy Ch. Garcia, Lydia Gil, Ernest Hogan, René Colato Laínez, Daniel A. Olivas, Melinda Palacio, Manuel Ramos, and a special spiritual “gracias” to Tatiana de la Tierra for the initial invitation to join La Bloga.  It’s a pleasure being a member of the La Bloga familia.  Orale! 

Amelia M.L. Montes and Michael Sedano finally meet!

On the 27th of December, I traveled from Los Angeles to New York where I am presently visiting and writing (grateful for the space and time to write/share writing!) with artists/activists/writer friends before the Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference begins on January 3rd  in Boston.  A note on the MLA Conference in Boston:  If you are going—don’t miss the following panels, especially the first one which features “La Bloga!”  Yes—“La Bloga” will be discussed/analyzed at the MLA in Boston.  More on this next Sunday--

1.     Jennifer Lozano (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) will be speaking about “La Bloga!”  Her paper, “Convergence Cultura?  Reevaluating New Media Scholarship through a Latina/o Literary Blog, La Bloga” is set for Friday, January 4th at 5:15p.m. in the Sheraton Boston (room:  Fairfax A).  Check it out! 
2.     Also on Friday, January 4th, the panel “Life Writings and Invention in Latina Memoir and Fiction” features the following writers reading and discussing their work:  Norma Elia Cantú, Joy Elizabeth Castro, Lorraine Lopez, Amelia M.L. Montes.  Time:  1:45p.m.  Where:  Sheraton Boston (room: Liberty C)
3.     Thursday, January 3rd, María Cotera, Olga Herrera, Lorraine Lopez, and Ricardo L. Ortiz will be speaking on “Teaching Chicana/o Literature in a Latina/o Context.” Time:  5:15p.m. Where:  Sheraton Boston (room: Independence East)

These are just three of a number of Chicana/Chicano and Latina/Latino panels offered at the MLA this year.  Check out the 2013 program:  CLICK HERE. 

New York City!

2013 will be my third year since being diagnosed with Diabetes. Not too long ago, a friend I hadn’t seen in a while told me how sorry she was that I had Diabetes.  Without skipping a beat, I immediately said, “I’m not!  I’m thankful!”  I couldn’t have said that even a year ago. A significant change had to take place and education is the key. During my first year of diagnosis, it was tough trying to figure out what to eat, how to manage all the various facets of this disease.  Just figuring out a work schedule with added time for exercise was quite challenging. 

Diabetes has given me the opportunity to delve into the workings of the body, to understand the metabolic function of the pancreas, to think about living my life in ways I never thought about before—mindfully, creatively.  I have a heightened awareness of  how our U.S. food industry has kept us from the truth: that sugar, not fat, makes us sick.  This month's issue of Mother Jones features the article, “Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies:  How the Industry Kept Scientists from Asking:  Does Sugar Kill?” , a carefully researched (included is a timeline from 1934-2012 revealing the sugar industry take-over of our U.S. diet) and clearly articulated explanation on how we’ve been duped into thinking non-fat processed foods are better than fat.  The truth: “non-fat” and even some “low fat” products are more often than not injected with sugar and depleted of fat.  Fat does not cause obesity.  Sugar causes obesity.  Another fact:  cancer cells need sugar (carbohydrates) to grow and multiply.  The more sugar, the happier a cancer cell will be.   

As a nation, and within our Chicana/Chicano and Latina/Latino communities, it’s going to take a long time to make significant dietary changes because the sugar industry is as solidly stationed within our grocery stores, as the tobacco industry had been (and still continues to be although not as strongly).  I don’t know yet, what will break the hold on our mindset and diets, especially because sugar is so very addictive. Sugar is a drug.  Just ask people to stop eating it, and you will receive very strong reactions.  It’s very very difficult.  And then, of course, there is the challenge to exercise.  How to take the time to keep the body moving so the pancreas will be stimulated to function?  Diet and exercise are vital to the lowering of glucose numbers. 

For the past two years, I have led a Diabetes Support Book Group and the members in the group have been able to manage their glucose levels successfully by sharing stories and recipes.  We share our not-so-good days (and there are many) and we also share our successful moments (and there are also many of these).  We bring to the group delicious low carbohydrate dishes to try and we also discuss our doctor visits.  We talk about our exercise.  Research has shown that support groups are extremely helpful.  Maybe you would like to begin your own support group in 2013. 

Thankful that after three years of reading, researching, writing about Diabetes, I can tell you that I have made friends with my imperfect pancreas.  I can tell you that I’m not afraid of this disease anymore like I was when I was younger and watched my aunts and uncles go blind, lose limbs, go on kidney dialysis, etc. I am thankful that there is much more information available to me and the information continues to pour in as more medical researchers (who are not affiliated with pharmaceutical companies or the sugar industry) are conducting important experiments/analyses to seek out answers.  We know much more about this disease, about how our pancreas works, about how we can manage it on our own than we did even 10, 20 years ago. Testing your blood is so much a part of the management, yet glucose strips remain quite expensive, especially for those without health benefits. This must change.  The only way an individual with Diabetes will know if glucose levels in the bloodstream are too high or too low is too test.  It's impossible to judge glucose levels by how one feels on a daily basis. Testing also helps when you're trying new foods or your usual routine is interrupted.  As mentioned, I have been traveling cross-country and some of these days have been more challenging than others (not being able to say "no" to homemade buttered croissants at a holiday gathering, sitting more than usual due to travel days). At times, I've had to compensate by walking up and down stairs or running/walking in place. 

I am thankful to friends and familia who have helped me (or been patient) through mood changes due to Diabetes.  When first diagnosed, I had no idea how powerfully glucose fluctuations directly affect one's mood.  And those of you with Diabetes know what I'm talking about. The terms "sugar high" and "sugar crash" are in our vocabulary because most everyone has experienced glucose fluctuations.  The problem with having an impaired pancreas is that it can take much longer to recover from that "high" or "crash." Sometimes the "high" or "crash" is not due to eating sweets/too many carbohydrates.  It could be a stressful day, lack of sleep, or illness that will affect glucose levels.  Meditation can be quite helpful here along with diet and exercise.  The best gift you can give to your loved ones/your friends is to become aware of your body, monitor where you are chemically, and let people know if you're having a bad day.  Diabetes does not give us permission to behave badly and then simply blame it on the disease.  

I am thankful for David Mendosa, a freelance medical writer, advocate, and consultant specializing in Diabetes.  He has the largest and most comprehensive website on Diabetes and if you e-mail him, he will reply.  (CLICK HERE for his website)  David's articles on managing diabetes while traveling have certainly helped.  

I am thankful for my sister, Emma Franco, whose experience and expert knowledge of the disease assisted me from the moment of diagnosis. Gracias dear sister for your help and support, for morning walks, for answering all my questions, for continued discussions.

I am thankful to mis padres who accompany me on short walks for their own health as well as mine.  This 2013th year, mi papa will be 96 and mi mama will be 90.  Orale.

Emma, Amelia, Joseph Montes (mi mama y papa!)
I am thankful to my daughter, Nancy, who was exercising much before I began an exercise regimen.  Thank you for your commitment to exercise, meditation, yoga.  It is always a joy to walk/spend time with you.  Gracias for you!  
Amelia & daughter Nancy Wolff
I am thankful to Mary Jo Kringas, the creator of ChocoPerfection bars.  These are chocolate bars that were voted the best tasting sugar free chocolate:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, almond covered chocolate, mint chocolate bars.  They have saved me when I’m at parties/gatherings where sweets are plentiful or when I want a sweet snack.  Thank you Mary Jo!  (CLICK HERE for the ChocoPerfection website)

In 1958, there were 1.5 million people with Diabetes in the U.S.  In 2010, the number jumped to 18.8 million prompting the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to call it an epidemic.  Today (just 2 years later), the CDC reports that 26 million have Diabetes with an estimated 79 million having prediabetes. 
We know that Chicanas and Chicanos/Latinas and Latinos have higher rates of the disease. I believe we can get these rates down with education, with activism.  We want the best for our gente:  healthy and affordable food ideas, access to various exercise possibilities, and guidance.  If someone is working toward healthy eating, good exercise, support them. Encourage each other!  

New York friends/familia:  Amelia M.L. Montes, Danielle Abrams, Barbara Schulman

Los Angeles familia: Querida Pat Alderete and Amelia M.L. Montes
I am thankful for you, dear La Bloga readers and wish the very best for you in 2013. I wish for you important moments connecting with friends/familia, enjoying so many Chicana/Chicano and Latina/Latino writings published in 2012 and that will soon be published in 2013, delicious eating, enjoyable exercise, quiet meditation, significant writing and creative time, leading to a very healthy 2013. 


msedano said...

amelia, we enjoyed a fabulous first encuentro!

i love that MLA panel, happy to see a scholar getting a paper out of us. back a while, marjorie perloff remarked on my la bloga claim that samuel beckett is a chicano.

to think, we were driving to the huntington gardens when i detoured to avenue 50 studio. one good turn, como dicen. happy new year!

Manuel Ramos said...

Amelia - wishing you all the best for the new year, as well as my peeps here on La Bloga. It's been a treat having you as part of the crew. I remember when Ms. Lozano was working on her paper (back in 2011.) Happy to hear that it is now a fait accompli and will be part of the MLA - congratulations to her. Happy New Year, one and all!

Lydia Gil said...

Lovely post, Amelia. Deseándote un feliz año y mucha salud. Gracias por tus sabias palabras.

Daniel A. Olivas said...

I am so sad I missed you when you were in L.A., Amelia ... my day job interfered which may be why some here at La Bloga (ahem) are hoping that I retire from the law and become a full-time writer. In any event, happy new year to all!

Anonymous said...

Amelia, feliz año nuevo and another year as a La Bloga contributor.
I add mi voz to the others: we are so happy to have you with us.
Good writing and good thoughts for you this next year. Wish I could be at the MLA, but know you'll do us proud!