Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dear Smart, Strong, Sensitive Girl

Dear Smart Girl,

Don't give up. When you raise your hand quickly because you know the answer, others might snicker and call you "four eyes" or "smarty pants". They mean this in a rude way but your glasses help you see crystal clear and being smart is a wonderful gift that you need to harness and use in life. They will call you this because they wanted to answer too and don't know how to vocalize that frustration.

You will be good at math but no one will tell you this is an area you are really good in and you should pursue it. You will think everyone else just gets math and pay more attention to music and artistic endeavors. Pursue those artistic arenas because they will show you how to empathize with others and help you understand how others think and feel is different but not bad. But remember that excitement doing timed multiplication tables and being the first one done? That is a feeling you need to pursue too.

Society will tell you that boys are better at science and math. You don't have to believe this ideology. Sure, you may never love biology because that kid you sat next to in 7th grade ate part of a cow's eye while doing a dissection but that's okay, not all science is bad or icky; that's just that one kid. Just because there are areas of math that seem hard, remember that those hard problems make sense to you in ways others struggle to see. You will find certain teachers open up your mind to how math can be a powerful tool. You are not dumb because you don't "get" proofs - don't give up, because one day proofs will finally make sense to you.

You can love theater and love trigonometry, you don't have to pick the one that is more "feminine" - you can do both because they make you a stronger person.

Dear Strong Girl,

You will speak up and people will call you "bossy". They say this because they want to speak up too. It's easier to call you bossy than it is to explain how they want to be heard too. Being the boss of a company may be a really awesome job so "bossy" isn't as mean as they want it to be. Girls are told to not speak up, but that is an opinion, not a fact. Keep using your voice.

You will find that people will look to you to lead them. They will later not like this and try to push a boy into the leadership role. There are actually many different kinds of leaders and it is not dictated by your gender. Lead those who will listen and learn from the other leaders around you. Remember that leading isn't always telling others what to do, but to make sure everyone is cared for and sometimes that means letting other people's voices be heard.

Boys will tease and pick on you because you are not afraid to speak up. You need to keep speaking up because sometimes what the boys say is only one perspective and someone else might think like you but they may be afraid to speak up. The ones picking on you just can't express their emotions so they will call you names. It's okay to be sensitive to their name calling, but know that you are more than what they call you.

Dear Sensitive Girl,

People may only see your sensitive side and encourage you in that endeavor. As a girl its easy to be told to fit a certain mold. You will find you don't fit that mold very well. They will say that we need more sensitive people in the world and we do, but we also need your ideas and innovation too. You don't have to chose to be sensitive or smart, you can be both. It's okay if people don't understand what you want to pursue, they will understand once you start creating magic.

You will be bullied and it will hurt very deeply. Cry those tears of frustration, loneliness, anger, and sadness. Bottling it up will not help you - it might prevent some more name calling but you need to express those emotions. It is not weakness to show your tears, it is ignorance to not allow yourself the space to cry. Don't listen to those voices that say being strong is to suppress your emotions - there is a lot of evidence that doing that only harms yourself in the long run. So cry sweet one, because someone will come along to comfort you and cry with you. Those people will become your dearest friends.

Someone will tell you that your emotions will hinder your ability to make sound judgments. They are lying; because we always have emotions and we always make decisions and feeling more does not mean you are bad at making decisions. Emotions help you see how others think and feel, and sometimes you need to remember that in order to make a decision that will help the most people. God did not give emotions to girls only and rational decision making to boys only - in the Bible it says "Jesus wept" - that means boys can feel and girls can make decisions. Later in life you will learn about social constructs, ideologies, and institutions to help you see that what we think is gender specific "problems" are really just people perpetuating stereotypes that don't have much evidence of being true at a biological level. But that conversation is for another day.

Dear Younger Me,

You are going to struggle, but that's okay. By struggling we learn perseverance, empathy, and gain a stronger idea of who we are created to be. People will try to tell you not to do certain things, but you can prove them wrong. Being different is a beautiful thing.

You will want to hide your intelligence, emotions, and leadership skills. Don't try to be meek and small, God never meant for you to be tiny. Don't push others aside either, because one day you may need them to teach you something. But march forward using all of your brain, heart, and soul that God has given you. By living into these strengths you have you will flourish.

You will be told that being a girl prevents you from being a scientist or engineer. Ignore them, they haven't seen the A+  you will get in Computer Science or the A in Calculus I.

If nothing else beautiful girl, remember this: you are worthy. You have worth as a scientist or engineer or a president. By being yourself you are worthy. You have all the talent and ability to be whomever you want to be. Being smart, sensitive, and strong are all great gifts to have in whatever job and relationship you enter into. Being a girl is a wonderful thing and it does nothing to stop you from being great in any field. Just as being a boy does not prevent them from pursuing whatever they want to be don't let being a girl prevent you from reaching for the stars. People will try to put you down but that is because they can't quite express their own emotions. Listen, and help them understand that what they feel and what they think is fact are two different things. Its easy to think that what we feel has to be fact and that isn't always the case.

Go be a smart, strong, sensitive person and the world will be a better place.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Love People Above Thoughts

I don't know about you - but there seems to be a lot of hurt and pain in the world. For me it became really evident after the US Elections. I felt hurt, I know people who voted for Trump were also hurting and put their hope in a man who said he saw that hurt and wanted to help.

But right now it seems like Trump just conned us all. He is looking out for himself and his interests and we just gave him the power to do that to a higher degree.

Before Christmas I tried to relate my thought process in a blog post titled "Open and Safe Town" but when I sat down today to start writing my follow up explanation posts about these places and how both can be unhealthy places to live I realized this metaphor was two sides of the same coin and I was basically making Open and Safe code words for Democrat and Republican but putting a Christian spin on it. As I finished one part of the post I thought, "I am being mean. I am trying to justify my way of thinking and bash on evangelical Christians and Republicans and validate that how I think is better." So I ended up deleting the post and the consecutive posts I had in draft form because I was being a hypocrite robed in self-affirming armor and frankly no one needs to hear me crowing at how right I am. Cause I'm not and I can admit that (sometimes it takes some reminding).

I think the reason I am so frustrated to see so little being done and so many rights being taken away from people all around me is because I was not raised to see problems this way.

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A few years back in my first year interning with Cru we shared with everyone in the YearOne team our "Life Egg" aka our Life Story. One of the sections of the story we were asked to write out "Family Rules". I had never even thought about what unspoken rules my family might have. There were never mottoes or sayings that we had in our family that implied any rule or norm in our family. After some thinking I realized one very important norm in my family that while never stated openly it was implied and still is whenever we have conversations that might not have everyone agreeing on one point of view.

That rule is: No matter what opinions are expressed on an issue (political, religious, cultural, etc.) we validate not only that person's opinion, but we love that person and what they believe. That every person at the table talking is important and valued above whatever difference of opinion might arise. We can have a heated discussion and share our sides, but we know when we get up from the table to go on in life, we love each other above all else.

Now is this to say the members of my immediate family always take differing opinions on every topic? Not alwas, there were probably conversations where we were in agreement on, but actually there are a lot of things that our family slightly differs on person to person. I grew up knowing that my parents probably didn't vote for the same presidential candidate for almost every election - but my parents would not tell us who they voted for because they explained how it was a personal choice. I also think they did that because they didn't want us to blindly side with a parent's choice for president and not take time ourselves to make an informed decision. Over time we might have figured out if Dad voted for Candidate Y and Mom voted for Candidate Q but at that point we knew it wouldn't change our own views. It showed us that for my parents, they could have different views but they loved each other more than a presidential choice.

In college I remember being so frustrated because a sibling wasn't "on the same page" as I was on an issue and talking with my parents about it and my parents just shrugging and saying "well, that's okay that they think that way". I was so angry, I wanted my parents to be appalled because I thought this issue was so clear, it is about a basic human right and how dare that sibling not see it as such! But my parents, being wise people, showed me that it was just an issue and that each opinion expressed was valid but no more important than the relationship between us. And it was true, in time both our views on that topic have changed and I don't view them through the lens of what they believe, their belief is but one part of the whole person whom I love deeply.

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In an ideal world it would be great if everyone agreed on every issue. As humans I think we crave this, we have a desire to have everyone agree with what we think and believe. Because in some way that would validate our thoughts and beliefs as "right". But when in history has that happened? Sure it would be nice, but it would also make us all robotic like because we would only ever be agreeing with each other and approaching life all the exact same. Creativity might die because we wouldn't think outside of the box because we all would be okay being in the same box together.

I think now more than ever we have to realize that we are forever going to be diverse - God created us uniquely which means we will have unique thoughts and opinions and beliefs. There will be people who prefer turkey sandwiches over ham and vise versa. Is one better or worse? No! And we must expand this embracing of diversity to larger issues.

Sometimes we have to put aside our personal values/beliefs to allow for something to come along that could help others that may think differently. Trump's choices will likely not affect me as a white, heterosexual, middle class woman. I do not agree with much of anything that man believes but his choices won't impact my daily life too much. But Trump's goals/agenda are forcing diverse people to think and act in very limited ways. To throw people out who think differently or look different from me and that is not okay. Our political system right now is focused more on getting people to think "our way" than it is in figuring out how to better all peoples and allow them to think for themselves.

I don't know how we go about helping each other value the people above the opinions like my parents did - but if we don't, we are going to be hated by many because we have taken love out of the picture and the value of humans above thoughts. I found myself doing that with the posts I was going to create and realized that while my thoughts might be helpful to some, people around me are more important and I have to keep loving them no matter if they agree with me or not. Because my thoughts are not as important as the people around me and how they can enrich my life and even my thoughts.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Lament for November 9th 2016

I woke up hoping it had been a dream.
That I didn't see a man filled with hate and scorn close to winning the Presidential Election.
Hope blossomed as I imagined seeing the news that the first female President was about to be in 2017.

I went numb.
I saw that the man no one thought a year ago would make it a few months had crossed the finish line first.
I cried last night, knowing the pain that was to come.

I knew it would come fast, but I didn't think it would come in less than 12 hours.
My sister calls me in tears saying, "How could this be?"
My gut fear had been that the man would win. That progress would be altered, that it would feel like nothing had changed since 2007.
Last night I prayed, "Lord, let love win. I don't know what I will do if hate wins."
But hate won. You may not see it but it is being felt left and right.

I text my best friend to ask how she is doing. She is not only black but a woman so in this new world she has 2 strikes against her. She tells me she cried this morning. That she feels like this is a slap in the face. I sob as I read because this beautiful woman should never have to feel this way. She is wise and she does everything with eloquence and grace and joy. Yet her skin will make her vulnerable to hate. I want to hug her and protect her from the hateful world - but I feel helpless because of miles apart and because a hateful man won last night.

I got to class with deep grief. I know I am not only in a state but in a school that probably doesn't think like I do. That doesn't feel this mantle of grief like I do. People make comments before class but I can't tell who they voted for. Until a woman I have known since Elementary school who is sweet and quiet and smart informs us after class that she had a water bottle thrown at her in the parking lot and told to go back to Mexico. She tears up as she states, "My family has been in this country for 4 generations." The other women looked shock. I walk right up to this beautiful strong woman and tell the others, "This is why I voted against Trump."

I did not just vote for the woman. I voted against that man who has never given hope but only pretty empty promises. No one knows his plans but he keeps saying they are great so why not trust that?

I walk with this woman I have known for years and hear her say in the hallway how she has to explain to her daughter why this man is bad. She tells me how she has to take her daughter out of private school because she is the only person of color there and she fears bullying. "But she's home now." That is the only comfort on November 9th.

As I walk away I turn around because our conversation cannot end on that note. She must know that someone is not only listening but is feeling with her. "I love you, no matter what others say. You are worthy as you are and you are enough. Don't ever think otherwise. I support you." I hope it is enough but I know she will feel pain again.

My soul feels too heavy for my skin to hold in. I want to wrap every person who feels a hint of hatred to my bosom and tell them, "Don't listen. Don't believe those mean words. I love you enough. You are worthy as you are right now. No one can take away your worth in my eyes."

I have to be strong because I go to work. I love work and I know those I work with probably did not vote as I did but I hope they can comfort me or at least give me space to be angry. And they do.

A coworker comes in as the day wraps up and discusses how he didn't know what the man's campaign meant for minorities. He didn't think that way. I know he is learning and listening but I grieve because this conversation should not be happening after an election. After hate has won. It should be happening before we vote. It is not the job of minorities to explain to everyone why wrong is wrong. It is our place for people who have any shred of power to ask, "Why could this be bad? What do others think? This might not affect me, but will it affect others?"

I come home and I am done. There is no comfort. Tomorrow is going to come and I will have to grieve again and fight again. But now I have a purpose. I do not just need to learn but I need to speak. Because not everyone will see or experience what those on the fringes of life experience. I can use my voice to shed light on someone crying out in pain and say, "This is not right."

When the man becomes President I can make sure those around me know that I disagree with his hateful statements and why they are hateful statements. I will not be silent and watch as my friends and family are told they are unworthy or unloved or not enough. I do not care what God you believe in, what sex you are attracted to, what nation you are from, what the color of your skin is; you are on this Earth. Because you are on this Earth you a priceless gem. No one like you has been on this Earth and no one like you will follow. And you deserve basic human respect, love, and celebration.

I walk on hoping that a woman can be elected on day as President and see as superior to this hateful man. I have hope even in the midst of great darkness.

But today I must lament, for my soul is too heavy and those I love are suffering too much because they have suffer at all. Today I cry and today I grieve for November 9th 2016.

Monday, July 11, 2016

When Life Gets in the Way of Goals

It's crazy that two months have passed and I have not reflected via blog. Thought on the other hand, I have found my Year of Trying has felt like it's been put on the back-burner in that time too.

May started well with meditation a few days - then England happened and that just overwhelmed me. (Seems like meditation would have been the best way to combat this...)

England was amazing - it was a whirlwind - but I loved every minute of it. It was a dream come true, and I had the chance to see the Queen!

June was much slower. June's goal was hand lettering quotes each day. The first half of the month was great - I have collected quotes over the years so I had a lot of content and my hours of downloading free fonts to be able to hand letter paid off too! Then Orlando happened and that just blew me away. This city that I lived in and loved for 2 years was hit with a devastating tragedy. My final quote I lettered was from the Tony's "Love, is love, is love, is love" - Lin-Manuel Miranda

Even though June was slow, it was such a drastic change from March-May I seized the idea of being lazy - but also hating how slow everything was! (My brain y'all, it's special)

July was suppose to be reading a spiritual book (and multiple if I completed this before the end of July) but then I suddenly panicked about grad school. I ordered GRE prep books, did exercises on the Khan Academy app, and decided instead of stressing and beating myself up for feeling conflicted I decided to move July's task to November (which had no task assigned yet) and decided July's goal for trying was trying to learn/study for the GRE. Sure, it might be cheating, but it is improving my mind (one of the ultimate goals this year) so I'm okay bending my own rules.

The rest of the year might be a hot mess - with starting to apply for grad schools, taking the GRE, juggling two courses and job - but that is part of the joy of this year. To do new things in the midst of crazy (cause I am coming to terms that crazy will never disappear in life) and see how that brings up emotions, struggle, etc.

So - life keeps going on and I keep trying

Monday, May 9, 2016

Took Long Enough!

I have this habit of being really diligent about a project and then it gets put on the back burner (cough blogging cough).

Though it wasn't because of complete laziness, lots has happened since early March.

For example, I got a part time job which helped my stress levels considerably. It is a great fit for me, love my boss, and it gives me a little activity every day besides the class I take.

So March was prayer, and overall I found myself praying as I went to sleep, so that was a success. I was aware and talking to God on things I don't necessarily have the awareness to do day in and day out. Prayer is a struggle for me when there aren't highs and lows to go to the Lord about. Those little things, those little moments, those troubles that I know I can handle but stress me out, I forget that I can talk to God about those and not just fix them or move through them. I didn't get to study as many different types of prayers as I had planned, but there was a lot of transition with work, school, social balance so I give myself grace and March was a success!

April was the 7 minute workout which was a beast. The expectation was to do it 3 times a week (the recommendation) and I botched it. I did try again and again to be consistent. I found when I did it (and it is really deceptively hard and exhausting) my brain is not wired to like pushing myself physically like that and that was a real barrier for me. Also being sore for days is not a great motivation to want to continue to push my body.

I found myself saying "For England, for England" and that helped push me while I was in the midst of the workout. But man, there is a lot of mental games for me when it comes to actually motivating myself to get up and workout. April was a time when I was raising support to be able to go on a mission trip to England (hence the mantra) which brought out a lot of insecurities and fears from interning with Cru and I had to really just lay it out to God and trust that it would come in on God's timeline and not mine. And it did!

April was an unexpected hurdle because it was the first month where I did not have a habit to try every day, it was only 3 days a week. If you read some of my first posts this year I knew if I did not have an every day expectation I could push things back and end up never (or rarely) doing the task. It's interesting to learn this and be affirmed of this in myself. Not to say I will never do the 7 minute work out, but I need to create maybe more boundaries if I want to continue this habit and be consistent.

Now May is meditation. I have read so many articles on how 10 minutes of meditation can affect a lot of brain activity and specifically addictions that I knew I wanted to try it. I know I have a food addiction and I am needing to address the other hidden depths that brought me to that addiction rather than just focusing on food. And it is a great habit to try since I will be in England and I only need myself (and handy little app) to do this.

I also wanted to do meditation because it helps me become aware of myself and I hope by extension become aware of God being present in my lift too. Being attuned to my needs will hopefully give me clarity to turn it over to God and practice just being in the presence of God.

I will be honest, I have only done it twice (do the math, it's May 9th) but each time I have been really aware of myself throughout the day, I even found myself thinking through food options and what my body needs and what would benefit. That is not a normal thought pattern for me, I just breeze through and pick the most delicious item and then find ways to get excess food. So going to Target and only getting a packet of peanut butter M&Ms while in line was a HUGE success! I know this doesn't mean I am cured and everything is smooth sailing for my food addiction, but this meditation habit might become a norm the rest of the year. We shall see!

I am so nervous and excited to go to England, it is my first time abroad which brings a lot of anxieties for me because I like knowing what to expect and no one can prepare me enough because I have to experience it myself to really know what to expect. But I get to see my brother whom I have not seen in 8 months and see a country I have been dying to see since I read Harry Potter and dreamed of going to Hogwarts.

Now that school is finishing up (sniff) I hope to be more reflective in this space, but whether or not I am typing out my thoughts I know this year of trying is providing me with lots of things to process and think through and that is exactly what my hope had been.

Cheers


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Goodbye Yoga, Hello Prayer

Well yesterday I did my final day of yoga.

Honestly - I didn't do it much this weekend. I was by myself most the weekend and I chose to be lazy.

But I did it - I tried something for a whole month!

I love this year simply because while I will not try to bully myself about not doing yoga consistently - I am aware it is something I can do. Like right now my hip is killing me - and my first thought is - I might want to do some yoga tomorrow if it still hurts. Wow! I wasn't thinking that 2 months ago when my knee or hip or back hurt. But since I have tried yoga I know that  while my downward dog is not pristine, I can do it!

Something that I have also found interesting is that through yoga I made myself wear yoga pants and a bra only. I am not a skinny athletic girl. But I knew I was doing this at home and my self esteem is pretty much just ignored by yours truly. Each morning putting on that outfit and even keeping it on was really invigorating. Through yoga I became more aware of my body and how it can move and by not covering up my imperfections I also embraced where my body is right now. My body is still a fascinating thing like everyone else's is! I can't ignore my body until it becomes the ideal size - because then I miss years of appreciating how God has created each bone and organ and how everything mysteriously works together!

Now I move onto prayer for March. I wasn't even really aware that this is the season of Lent when I planned it. I just knew that this is an area I want to engage more with God in.

My history of prayers is either trying to have a deep emotional response - like chills up my spine because I gain insight into something. Or my prayers are just gut retching honesty to God. There is a third - which is starting to pray then getting distracted 30 seconds into the prayer.

My expectations for prayer are only that I engage with God for 5-10 minutes before I got to bed. Some days I might do the above (let's face it, those are my go to styles!) Sometimes that might be literally sitting in bed making sure I talk to God about my day. Some days I hope to go through a new prayer practice or reflect a prayer via Pslam or some other writing.

We shall see how this goes! I'm off to pray!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This Month of Trying

Well, I am on my last week(ish) of yoga.

Some days I succeeded in pulling out the yoga mat and did 10+ minutes of yoga. Some days I didn't. And through it all I have been more aware of my choices and of myself.

This is going to be a tough year. I can see that now. My natural inclination is to not work out. (What a shock since I am out of shape!) It is hard to form a new habit...there's a reason it takes 30 days.

I didn't honestly think 30 days (or for Feb, 29 days) would be that hard to do something new. But I guess that is why it does indeed take so long for something to stick.

My hope is to continue yoga on a semi-regular basis. But I am also allowing myself to do a month of trying and not touch that habit again for a while. My idea of doing this whole year of trying is to create new self care habits. Right now my go to is food and that has not served to help me.

Am I suddenly craving yoga? No, but I do find myself wanting to do it sometimes. Like this morning, I work up with my muscles in my back aching. I don't know if that is because I did a twist and align yoga session yesterday or if sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hours talking with a friend and twisting  to look at her was the cause. But my immediate reaction was "I should do some yoga to help this pain!" rather than my usual "this sucks, let's each Chick fi la!"

Progress.

I like it! Now the yoga this morning didn't completely heal the backache, but when I finished I felt a little better and felt like I could cope with this unexpected turn of events. I hope these last few days I can keep up the yoga, but if I skip a day I will give myself grace rather than shame.