Archives for category: Non-Fiction

People drive me crazy. It doesn’t matter if we are similar or different (because, honestly, we are all similar AND different), as long as people are people, and living in community is defined as the continued relationship between and among people, I will have to live with the temporary fits of insanity.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the general lack of nature skills required to do so and, let’s be honest, the complete lack of desire to attain said skills, I would seriously consider devoting myself to the wild, isolated life of an uncivilized, backwoods hermit. Unfortunately, mankind is going to great lengths to make uncivilized, backwoods areas so rare that even if I could find one, I couldn’t afford a single blade of grass, much less an entire plot. Fortunately for me, that means the closest I am forced to get to “roughing it” is an interior room with spotty wireless or, heaven forbid, dial-up Internet connection.

My roommate, on the other hand, is basically designing her own master’s curriculum, specializing her education in order to best equip herself to actively create and pursue her dream job of mixing education and outdoor activities. I wish I could explain it better than that but, honestly, I don’t really understand it—not like she does. And I think that’s awesome.

That’s the beautiful thing about community. I don’t have to understand everything. We don’t have to see everything the same way. In fact, it’s the mixture of similarities and differences, the complements and contrasts, on which community thrives and grows.

A couple of people told me the other day that they felt like they didn’t fit in Read the rest of this entry »

Note to my dearest friends and relatives: The following is a true confession that I haven’t told very many people. You may find it shocking. I am sorry I haven’t told you in person. I love you. Thank you for loving me. You have been warned. Proceed with caution.

I tried to run away from home several times throughout my childhood. I say, “tried” because I wasn’t very successful. Growing up on a dead end road opposite a cornfield in the middle of the boonies didn’t afford a pre-license lady many exit routes. In fact, I may not remember how old I was the first time I tried to run away from home, but I do recall that I didn’t even leave the house; I just curled up in the hall closet for a bit. Apparently, my young mind hadn’t completely grasped the concept.

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When Nashville flooded in 2010, few people unrelated to the area knew about it for days, largely because the aid providers and the media were too focused elsewhere to respond to a very real crisis that, in the words of Newsweek‘s Andrew Romano, “could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.” In fact, his article, Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood, pops up as the first organic result in a Google search for “Nashville flood.” If it wasn’t for the overwhelmingly positive reaction of local celebrities and the community, as a whole, the Nashville flood may have received more publicity about the lack of publicity than it did about the actual damages incurred by the flood, the needs it created, and relief required to meet those needs. For the most part, however, the conversation was, disappointingly, about the conversation.

Recently, controversy has sparked surrounding the MPAA rating classifications of The Hunger Games, a dystopian blockbuster pitting teenagers against each other in a death match, as PG-13, and BULLY, a stark awareness vehicle for social betterment, as R. By the book, the MPAA (which, by the way, is comprised of a panel of parents) has assigned the correct rating to each work, but the juxtaposition of the two films – and their relative takes on teenage conflict – present too rich a lesson to ignore. While the ratings delivered to these movies have created their share of outcry, the opportunity to seize upon each of them as a tool for coaching teens is drowned out to a whimper, at most.

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I know I’ve been absent for a little while, but I’m excited to announce that I haven’t been idle. In fact, I have been nearly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what I’m learning. There is so much that I can’t wait to share with you. Please continue to be patient with me while I find the time to put all of these lessons into words. For now, I leave you with this quote by Audre Lorde:

I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: “What’s the worst that will happen?” Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.

I was born deaf. My mom figured it out when I was a toddler by devising a little experiment. First she locked in my attention. Next she told me to do something. Then she covered her mouth and said something else. As long as I could see her lips moving, I responded to her instructions. She took me to the doctor and, voila, diagnosis confirmed her suspicions. I was 80% deaf in one ear and 50% in the other. The doctor put tubes in my ears and all was again right with the world.

Aside from the annoying necessity of wearing earplugs when I swam, I remember little of having the tubes in my ears, or even when they were removed. My mom remembers it differently.
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Last week, we reflected on the past and how our view of it affects our present. We revealed that each of our pasts extends beyond ourselves, born of a combination of all those who have gone before us. That was the easy part.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. From the past we reap many lessons and levels of understanding. It might require some digging, but the past is nothing if not known. The future, on the other hand, frustrates even the most carefree spirit with its inability to be grasped and mastered.

Though many have tried to divine it, the future remains largely unknowable. The very reality of that great unknown breeds anticipation, which, in turn, manifests in two forms: fear and hope.

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A few months ago, I wrote a post encouraging you to savor the moment. Since then, I have been trying to practice what I preached. As it turns out, in order to truly appreciate the present, one must maintain a healthy reflection of the past and an unwavering hope for the future.

How many people do you know can honestly claim to consistently approach life this way? Hopefully, you can name a few. I can think of a handful of people who encourage this kind of thinking in my life. While a few select peers pepper the list, the lion’s share consists of men and women who have experienced so much more than your average Gen Y-er could even begin to imagine.

And why should we?

I’ll tell you why.

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Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, over-thinking might just turn out to be my fatal flaw. While the prince of Denmark came to ruin because he thought too much when it was time to act, my troubles come from thinking too much about actions already taken.

This summer has not been the best for me; some rough patches left me hurt and dejected. I believe there’s a greater purpose to it all, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. What’s worse, my mind keeps reliving it all over and over and over, like a broken cinema reel.

Whether you believe in it or not, the Bible makes a good point when it instructs its readers to “take captive every thought.” With someone like me, who dwells on too many things too much of the time, taking captive every thought turns out to be quite the challenge. Taking this into consideration, I decided I needed to start small. Baby steps.
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You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
~The Waiting, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

It feels like most of my youth was spent in preparation and waiting for the next step. Elementary school prepared me for junior high. Junior high prepared me for high school. High school prepared me for college. College prepared me for life.

Now I’m in life and I keep wondering, what’s next?
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One of my favorite passages from the Chronicles of Narnia is in A Horse and His Boy, when Shasta is traveling over the mountains in the dead of night, all alone. Or so he thought.

Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock….He bit his lip in terror. But now that he really had something to cry about, he stopped crying.

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