R.E.S.P.E.C.T – Do you have it?

This week’s recipe is something to nourish your body and help cool it down in this heat – a form of respecting your body with food: a fruit smoothie. A fruit smoothie is not a symbolism for respect, but it can be a form of respect for your body if you are wanting to provide yourself with nutrients – which is respecting your body. Below is my favorite smoothie that I like to make, especially on hot days.

Fruit Smoothie

½ cup of frozen pineapple chunks

½ cup of frozen strawberry**

½ cup frozen peaches

1 cup of pineapple juice or water (add more if needed)

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Optional: protein powder, collagen, mint leaves

** I recommend all fruit and juice to be organic, especially strawberries as they are part of the dirty dozen. The dirty dozen are fruits and vegetables that contain high level of pesticides and herbicides which are harmful to the body.   

Photo credit: Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

When I hear the word “respect” I automatically begin to hum the lyrics to the iconic 1967 hit song “Respect” from Aretha Franklin. The song, originally released by Otis Redding in 1965, later remade and recorded by Franklin on Valentine’s Day 1967, followed by its release in April, became a motivational theme song for the feminist movement and civil rights. Franklin’s interpretation, although similar to Redding’s, differed as it was a demand for dignity, freedom, and equality for women. In the song, the chorus part continually reinforces the notice for the need of respect from a man, and if none is given the man will walk in and find her gone.

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) the “Queen of Soul” was an exceptional artist. Learning to play the piano at 10 years old, she took her love of music to the stage, leaving behind a legacy of music. Franklin has a remarkable list of accomplishments including honorary degrees from Yale, Princeton and Harvard. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush and even sang for queens and kings, and of course presidents. The list goes on and on for all of Franklin’s remarkable accomplishments, but I believe her biggest accomplishment is empowering women through music. Franklin’s songs like “Respect”, “Do Right Woman – Do Right Man”, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” were all songs that “defined a modern female archetype: sensual and strong, long-suffering but ultimately indomitable, loving but not to be taken for granted” (Pareles, 2018). Her music was the quintessential definition of feminism.

Franklin did not have an easy life, having her parents’ divorce at the age of 6, followed by her mother passing 4 years later, was just the start of her turbulent life. Before her music career, Franklin became pregnant and had her first child before her 13th birthday, shortly followed by a 2nd child; Franklin had 4 children in all. In 1961, Franklin met and married her first husband, Ted White, later to divorce in 1969. Franklin’s marriage to White was filled with abuse, and much turbulent, including a public display of physical abuse in 1968. Franklin gathered her strength and dropped him as her manger, divorced him, and eventually filing a restraining order against him. Franklin continued to love eventually marring actor Glynn Turnman in 1978, followed by an amicable divorce in 1984. These select events were just a few that Franklin experienced which helped shaped her way of thinking in terms of respect toward women and others.

Aretha Franklin was a powerful, strong, beautiful, brilliant, and ambitious woman who experienced hardship and success at the same time. She used her experienced to write and sing songs from the heart, using what was on her heart as a way to represent herself, and inspire others. Franklin will forever be known as a woman of strength, a woman of soul, and a woman of respect.

Lately, I have been thinking about respect – respect for myself and respect for others. This week has been one of reflection and thinking about my worth and how I have allowed many people, mostly men, to disrespect me. I have also thought about how I have disrespected myself (and others) as the two mutually go hand in hand. Last week Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a compelling and powerful speech about how she was disrespected by Rep. Yoho. According to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Yoho displayed his misogynistic ways by calling her a “bitch” as he was walking pass her on the steps of the capital. In her speech she concluded just because a man has a daughter and/or a wife it does NOT make him a decent man, but a decent man is treating people with dignity and respect. This got me thinking about all the times I allowed a man to disrespect me and I justified his actions by thinking things like “he was just stress” or “I know he loves me”, or my favorite “he is a good man, he is just doing bad actions”. I would think back on all the “nice” or “good” things the guy did as a way to shrug off his disrespect. You know what I learned? Not only was he disrespecting me, but I was disrespecting myself by allowing someone to treat me a way that I would NEVER treat anyone else. Why do we, especially women, allow not only other (particularly men) but ourselves to disrespect who we are?

As this journey of radical self-love is being explored, I am continually reminded of forgiveness and lessons learned. I can’t continue to fight or beat myself up for things I did or allow in the past. When I acknowledged this week that I allowed a man, let alone myself and others to disrespect me, I realized I was not expressing radical self-love. Well I say no more! I am tired of the lack of respect we give ourselves and we give to others (and yes, I am guilty of both). I am learning to forgive my actions and now that I know better, I will do better – just as Maya Angelou said. I will stand up for myself, and respecting myself will also help me to respect others.

But Alyssa, how do we do that? Well, that is a good question. I am still learning. But what I have learned over my 31 one years is that everything happens to us to teach us a lesson. Me being in abusive and toxic relationships (and not just romantic I might add) helped me to finally wake up and see my worth, see how valuable I am, and see what I deserved. Will I fail at respecting myself and fall in the trap of disrespect? Yes! I am human. We experience disrespect every day – disrespect may come in the form of you calling yourself fat, or saying you are stupid when you my dear are neither. Disrespect might be a colleague cutting you off in a meeting because “he” feels he can explain it better than a woman and you feel too shy or powerless to call him out on it. Disrespect might be allowing your partner to continually dismiss your feelings. These are all forms of disrespect that others and you give yourself. And for a while you might allow these to continue or slip by you here and there, but eventually (and hopefully) you will learn your worth and value – I know I have begun (still learning, but I now know).

Something that has stuck with me and was my catalyst for being done with the disrespect, even though I had been allowing it for years, happened a few months ago. My past partner, who I picked up from work late at night, was drunk and he said to me while we were in the drive through getting a late night bite words that cut me deep, he said “You know, I have women flirt with me all the time and I can get any woman I want, but I am stuck with you”. Let me repeat the last part “STUCK WITH YOU”. You know what I told myself, I said he was “drunk” that he had a long day at work, and did not know what he was saying – of course he loved me and respected me, that is what I told myself as I reminded myself of all the “good” memories. I pushed my hurt feelings aside and made excuses for his words.  I wish I could tell my self a few months ago that you are a fighter and you are worthy and if someone truly wanted to be with you, they would not feel stuck. I allowed him to disrespect me, and the worst part is I allowed myself to disrespect me. Today, if I could go back, I would have parked my car and told him to get out and find his own way home and leave. You deserve someone who wants to be with you, someone who respects you. I have this theory, and I could be wrong, but when we don’t love and respect ourselves, we tend to invite people in our lives who do the same – we keep creating a world of disrespect. Only until we wake up and no longer allow it, do we begin to change and surround ourselves with people who also respect us – just a thought.

Women, ladies, warriors, my dear, we have allowed the disrespect to go on long enough. Our fellow women are beginning to fight back by saying no more. I don’t know about you, but I am done being disrespectful to myself, to others, and having disrespect happen to me. How I have been helping myself realize the disrespect, is by asking myself when something happens, is this how I would want to treat myself, or better yet, if I had a child would I want them to see me be treated that way– the answer is always no. When you begin to love yourself and know your worth it is more likely you will also realize the respect you deserve and will also extend respect to others. I encourage you all to start questioning if what you are doing to yourself, what others are doing to you, or what you are doing to others is respectful – if you even question it, I bet it is not. Let’s right here, right now, make a change – lets vow that we will begin treating ourselves and others with respect and if disrespect happens, as Aretha Franklin says in her song “[you might] find out I’m gone”.

For now, my warriors – be loved, be kind, and know you are loved!

Until next time…

-Alyssa, the salt woman  

Published by Alyssa - the salt woman

Alyssa Sperry is a classically trained Pastry Chef, certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Community Herbalist. After receiving her B.A. from Washington State University, where she studied anthropology and history, she began her graduate career in 2018 at the University of Oregon. She continues to pursue commodity research, focusing on food and foodways. Current research involves the history of salt production on the island of Jamaica.

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