Cultural competence, a reflection

In our Direct Practice course (basically clinical work 101) we are studying how to be “culturally competent.” This is a subject that I think social work students could gab about for ages because our sense of justice and equality comes from a very personal place in each of us.

Our current discussion involves the clinical treatment of Native Americans. I wanted to comment on how marginalized this group can be. A social worker in his own right, Marlon Brando’s famous Oscar acceptance (or rejection) where he sent Sacheen Littlefeather in his place to accept the award for Best Actor (the Godfather). The reception was far from inviting, and is still seen by some as a time when the Oscars became too political.


Even as a huge Natalie Wood fan, the image of Native American culture in the Western “The Searchers” is really laughable.

This reminded me of an episode from when I was in 1st grade: the whole classroom was dressed in typical “cowboys and Indians” garb. Typically mistaken for an ethnicity other than my Polish heritage that I felt so close to, I felt particularly excited to dress as an Indian. For one day, my ethnicity was not in question ~ I was in costume!

My father’s family is from South Dakota, a state that still has a rich Native American culture. Even from a young age, I was always told to respect the culture with the proper terminology. “Indian” was not ok, because the people that my family saw, and the culture surrounding us, was not connected with people from India. As a kid, I thought “gee, that makes sense.”

So, “Native American,” or preferably whichever tribe someone was in, was the most appropriate. I have always loved my parents for this strict “terminological” upbringing. I felt like I could bring myself closer to others, with the given knowledge of how to respect someone.

So, in 1st grade (or come to think about it, maybe even kindergarten), when we were sitting around and talking about what “Thanksgiving” was about (we know now as adults is a water-down representation of a giving ceremony), I felt the need to be a mini-social worker. When we began talking about “cowboys and Indians,” I spoke up and said that I preferred if we said “Native American.”

Possibly out of concern for my feelings, my teacher’s first reply was “Are you Native American, Sandra?” to which I replied, “No.” There was an awkward silence, and then nothing more was done. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that my desire to be warm, inviting, and especially thoughtful, was not met with any encouragement from this teacher. Likewise, the other students kept asking me why I had made such a “big deal” about it.

This is similar to the feelings I get when I defend Latin American/Hispanic people and their plight, being mistaken frequently for being Mexican, Spanish, etc. People find out that I’m Polish and suddenly my opinion is irrelevant.

Without being a member of the oppressed group, we are far too frequently disregarded as having a valid opinion. This also applies to the never-ending plight for gay rights. In college, it was understood by many that I had to be “at least” bisexual (even though, to me, one’s sexuality is not on a greater/lesser scale). I wanted equality for something that spoke to me as inherently equal and necessary. It’s normal for people to fear the “other,” it’s quite another thing to deny rights to people who differ in sexual preference. Although on a superficial level I don’t care (anymore) what people think about whether I “swing that way,” or not, but it says something awful about our culture and our ability to speak on behalf of the RIGHTS of others.

So the next time you hear someone talk about what is right, ethical, proper treatment, biased, tragic….hear what he/she is saying, and not if it directly applies to that one person.



A few of my new favorite products and/or trends :)

Full Story™Origins full story mascara. The gentleman at the counter said that even though my hair and eyes were dark, that I should use brown mascara so as not to over-power the rest of my makeup when wearing it at work (everyday makeup, rather than going out). It coated extremely well, and the fact that it's natural and uses recycled packaging, it's about as green as it gets.

ALSO if you bring in your old shampoo bottles, makeup containers, any primary cosmetic container...you get free samples! I have already tried their Checks and Balances facial cleanser (worked very well!), and Modern Friction (their facial scrub- you can tell that there are oils in it, so I would recommend this scrub for ladies and gents with drier skin).
SUGAR LYCHEE EAU DE PARFUM 1OZ Ahhhh Fresh! One of my faves. Their mascara is wonderful, too, but this fragrance really stood out for me! I'm not sure if it's too sweet for me, but it definitely caught me off guard (and I have sampled MANY fragrances looking for the perfect one). The whole Fresh fragrance line is great to look at, especially for when summer rolls around~ their scents are very light! Their soaps also make pretty presents!
YUM! Now that I have my blender, Sambazon açaí smoothies are back in my life! These packs are about $6.00 and include 4 smoothie packs. I prefer the unsweetened. If you try the juice by itself, it has a dark and sweet flavor that many say resembles chocolate. Delicious!
Nature's Gate has been known for their natural lotions, soaps, etc. I was starting to run out of mine and decided to try their fragrance-free lotion for sensitive skin. My skin is not particularly sensitive, but I didn't want a lotion that conflicted with my perfume, etc. It is great, and at Whole Foods is a mere $7.00 for 18oz.

Up next I will be reviewing the soap bars from Dirty Business Bath Company. After all....they keep it clean so we don't have to! ;)

I'm off to drink some honeydew+pineapple juice...yum!


A moment of quiet in New York City

I have always been a bit advocate for VALENTINE'S DAY. Singles Awareness Day- haha! I always liked that play on the holiday too :)

From a young age, I decided that I was NOT going to let V-Day get me down!

I know that this cute Chicagoan may seem like she always had it goin' on in the boyfriend department...but NO WAY. I feel like so many of us in our small town suburb of Chicago made it our prerogative to compete about almost everything. One of them was who had the most boyfriends.

As I was rarely able to compete in this category, so I always made it MY day, my day to relax, eat chocolate, watch rom coms, and not care that I was single. The past few years have been different, boyfriend in tow. Although Andy is less inclined to make Valentine's Day a big deal, he knew to schedule his NY trip to be close to February 14th. Smart guy!

So now my few pointers and tips for a FUN Valentine's Day!!!

1) Watch a romantic comedy- duh! :D
Adam PosterIDan in Real Life PosterSex and the Single Girl PosterThe Great Race PosterPretty in Pink PosterSleepless in Seattle Poster

These are just a few of my faves! Of course I had to throw in 2 Natalie Wood movies- because she's awesome!

2) Recipe hunt, and try something wonderful!
I love that people are beginning to branch out with new uses for dishes with typical foods/drinks. For example, this fabulous strawberry shortcake recipe (from none other than The Barefoot Contessa herself!) uses martini glasses for strawberries! Don't forget that you can easily use this with gluten free, vegan, or allergen-free biscuit recipes!

As an only occassional drinker, I swoon at the opportunity to utilize the classy use of flutes, Tom Collins glasses, red wine glasses, etc. for non-alcoholic class. The best use recently that I saw was Bestselling author Kris Carr utilizing wine glasses for green juice- genius!

Of course you could also whip up a cute martini, too! Betty Draper loves her gimlets ;)

Don't forget that Martha Stewart's Living magazine has one of the best Valentine's Day recipe issue. This year, however, I might splurge and buy an issue of Donna Hay's Australian cooking magazine. FABULOUS!

3) Write a love letter. Even if it's to your mom, your sister, or yourself. Pen pals are the best! Share the love! Everyone loves to get mail!

4) Wear something red or pink! :) I also like the idea of eating something red at every meal. Lots of "red" foods are really good for you, from the vitamins in strawberries, to the lycopene in tomatoes. (remember...red meat is brown when you cook it- so that doesn't count!!)

Try something like a strawberry smoothie, caprese salad, beet soup/borscht (hey Polish people!), rooibos tea (swoon), ruby red grapefruit (huge bags of deliciousness at Trader Joe's!), red pepper and spinach sandwiches, and of course, red kale ! There is so much to do with food- make it a day for you!

5) Just LOVE yourself! Seriously, do NOT fall into the commercialism trap. This is the one day you can be filled with love for everything and blame it on a holiday! :)

MUAH! xoxo!


Crumbling with love!

Ah this ridiculous cold has made me want to BAKE BAKE BAKE-

So I went with Kelly Rudnicki's vegan staple of French Puff Muffins. When presented at Fakesgiving 2009 it was met with lots of love! Check out her book Vegan Baking Classics!

Kelly has really whipped some Chicagoland advocacy butt! Check out her posts on her blog about the recent policies (or lack thereof) in Gurnee and surrounding areas: http://www.foodallergymama.com/

This time around, turbinado sugar from Trader Joe's made for a delicious crusty topping...

gluten free (with apple peel and walnuts):
with brown sugar, spelt, and oatmeal:

I also decided to use Sophie Dahl's Voluptuous Cooking for her blackberry apple crumble! (pics above) I AM OBSESSED with this woman's work! I first heard about her in this article from Food and Wine. She makes you want to start saying that you "fancy" your man, and that strawberries are "bloody delicious!"

I had a delicious crumble in individual containers at the Spring St. Natural Restaurant in Soho, so I thought I would adapt Ms. Dahl's recipe to make it myself!

The recipe is originally for a pie dish, but I love ramekins so much that I went to Crate and Barrel and bought their tall ramekins (10 oz). So I used about 5-7 oz of my mixed fruit in each cup, but the baking at 400 degrees for 30 minutes still made it come out perfectly!

Some alternatives:
using margarine instead of butter for the topping makes it vegan

I sliced apple peel and mixed it with walnuts, so my wonderful gluten-free roommate could try the dish without worry for the spelt or oatmeal!

I used brown sugar, but to make it low-glycemic, I would use some blue agave to keep it's delicious warmth.

Try your own mix of fruits for this!

I think for Valentine's Day I might try it with fresh strawberries! ;)

I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Kris Carr at the Barnes and Noble on 82/Broadway, the beautiful and Crazy Sexy Diet author who talks about green juice and loving yourself!

I have been making juice with cucumber, apple, and lemon. DELICIOUS! Truly goes to show that natural foods make you feel wonderful!

Speaking of wonderful: A shoutout to my sister! :) Allison, I love you so much and I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! This genius is doing the creative writing program at Northwestern, and is really kicking up her brunch skills. Maybe I can get this awesome chica to guest blog!

Ok yuppies! Start baking!