Didn't you always know that there were ways to call desserts vegetables? One day I explored ways to use zucchini and found Zucchini Brownies! This was an easy recipe that turned out so yummy, and yes, the three cups of shredded zucchini made the brownies so moist. Zucchini has 0 milligrams of cholesterol, and contains 58% of the Vitamin C you need daily! I mention cholesterol because this year is the first year that I have taken medication to lower my cholesterol, and along with cutting out most meats, I exercise a lot! Put on those shorts and sneakers and get out there and walk, jog, and run! Saturday was so gorgeous that I walked on a local rail trail a little over 6 miles! Yes! I also do 3-5 5Ks per year, and that doesn't mean I win my age group,but I am out there moving, smiling, encouraging others, and running for a cause. By that I mean, my favorite 5K is the Race against Racism in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I have finished that 5K in anywhere from 39 to 51 minutes, so you see I don't set records, but I know being active helps all of us physically and mentally!
Do you remember last summer, I led one of the activities connected to The Well Project in June? Do you remember dancing and doing exercises to Ashford and Simpson, "Solid," and drinking water and listening to poetry by Joy Harjo, our poet laureate? For me, as a person cloaked in white privilege, it is important for me to read and study the ways that many people have written about oppression. Joy Harjo is an indigenous person and has written about the girls who are lost, the indigenous girls who are never found when they are reported missing from their reservations. Many believe that the police never look for them. Focusing on what I can do as one person, and assessing my talents has helped me know where I am valuable when we all get ready to fight for justice and do civil disobedience work. I'd like to segue into what one can do as a person in her sixties!
Because I am still teaching in public schools as a substitute, I had to find a way to finish a Master's Degree part-time. I graduated with my Master of Divinity Degree at the age of 65, and won two graduation awards, and was honored both by SisterLove in Atlanta in 2015, and was honored as one of the POZ 100 in 2018 as one of the people who leads the way as a person over 50. I got a full scholarship to work toward a Sacred Theology Master's Degree at the United Lutheran Seminary in 2020 and I am closing in on that degree, hopefully in the next year. Because I love the outreach that is done by Interfaith Philadelphia in every faith community, I wanted a degree that would help me to be even more articulate in how important it is for every faith group to help eradicate the stigma that still exists surrounding HIV, and for every faith group to understand that we, the people living with HIV and AIDS are the experts, in teaching about HIV, in teaching about U=U, in educating in schools, and universities, and I wanted to be louder than I already am! "We the people living with HIV will not be marginalized, and HIV Is Not A Crime, and there is no shame in HIV, and we are not clusters created to be under some kind of molecular surveillance, we are valuable, incredibly resilient, brilliant people who have been fighting for our lives for decades!" "Nothing about us without us!" I know that I need energy for all this activity. Let's get back to those vegetables!
One Sunday evening I had eggplant, and had heard that people make eggplant into a whole meal. I made these elegant little eggplant burgers. You simply slice the eggplant crosswise and dip them in vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, cook over medium heat and keep brushing them with the oil mixture and I put chili seasoning on mine, and Voila! I ate them without rolls because I'm trying to do without carbs some days. I ate them with slices of tomatoes, and that was an evening I drank oat milk. You're wondering if this was good? Oh, my! It was "muy delicioso"! You probably already know that tomatoes are my favorite food, well, and beets-they have seventeen antivirals, remember? Tomatoes have phyto flavins, so we can decorate our plates with this bright colorful food, and fight cancer at the same time! You're wondering about oat milk. I would say, if you are looking to eat more plant based meals, and looking to cut out meat and dairy, oat milk, and soy milk are two choices that are both really good, and they are good for you. If you are like me, I'm looking for every way that I can lower cholesterol. My cholesterol went from 240 down to 189 in six months by taking medication, increasing exercise, by decreasing and eliminating meat from meals, and by eating fantastic vegetables. I have lost inches and weight, and gained more confidence in my ability to achieve my goals like lead more fun workout/music/poetry sessions like last summer with The Well Project. All of you who participated were amazing as well! I was inspired by all of you, so let's move onto the fun stuff!
I go to free concerts in the park in the summer. It lifts my spirit, and I dance to some great music and meet new friends! You are asking if I still do splits? You want to know if I can still drop it like it's hot? Hmm . . . I'm not sure! I am more fit than I was when I was still doing them, but I'm not as flexible. I do weight work in the swimming pool, and swim laps, and lift light weights at home, and those things along with the running and walking-that's what's fun for me now, oh, and the dancing at the free concerts. I missed the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, Delaware in August, but go if you live anywhere near there! It's free! I met Lalah Hathaway there! We had a conversation about how I used to use her lyrics in school, to motivate high school students, and she was delightful. I got to hear Esperanza Spalding perform in Lancaster before she got her Grammy. She was just so exquisite! Imagine a petite woman playing the upright bass, and singing at the same time, making that bass tell a story of love, and life stories that teach us lessons. I'm still a woman in her sixties who misses the voices of Phyllis Hyman, Teena Marie, Nancy Wilson, and, of course, Whitney Houston, but we still have Stevie Wonder! He's famous for so many reasons, but even the titles of his songs give us autobiographical information about him; take "Shelter In The Rain." He wrote the music and the lyrics to that song, and it speaks of him. It speaks to me. It speaks to the world, and to people like me who are sixty-eight who need someone to sing once in a while, "I'll be your comfort through your pain, I'll be your shelter in the rain." I'd like to add, I'll listen to you when you need me. I'll smile, dance, lead exercise, and poetry workshops if you need me! I'll speak and get arrested with you in Washington, D.C. just like in 2017 when we saved the ACA, and in 2019 when we had a sit-in in front of the Supreme Court building to protest anything that would take away workplace rights of the LGBTQIA+ community! "We will not go back!" "Nothing about us without us!" "People- First language, please!" "We are not clusters, we are intrepid people, in fact, many are super-heroes!" "There is no shame in HIV!" I am cheering so loud for all of us who are in our sixties because we are vibrant, and wise, and all the time courageous, and extraordinary! Sisters, you are beautiful! I'm sending kisses, and hugs, and I'm lifting you up! We will end AIDS!