Wednesday, March 19, 2008


And now my random thoughts and wonderings in, no particular order.

-I wrote a letter to Oprah the other day. I told her (or her army of producers) about the fundraising at CAS, or as much as I could in 2,000 words, including spaces. I was sure to fit “missionary” and “Cambodia” in the first sentence to hopefully grab their attention. I am not above asking Oprah Winfrey for help here. I have nothing to lose and let’s be honest, if Oprah ever hopes to meet me in person, she better get her act together.

-I still have many questions about God. My most recent and pressing is, “Does labeling good things in my life “blessings” instead of “luck” make me a Christian?” Because without solid proof one way or the other, do we choose “blessing” because it makes us feel better? It is comforting to be a Christian indeed, we have hope. But I don’t want to choose to be a Christian just because it makes me feel better. I want a proof. I want to know for sure.

-In my attempts to heal myself from depression, my book told me to keep tally on what I am feeling all day long. So, like a good student, I have been writing down my emotions every hour of every day. Turns out I feel my worst at school and I let my students determine how I feel. This is easy to let happen, because I feel a bit outnumbered and a bit of a minority. They’ll make jokes in Khmer and say things like, “Oh, it’s a Cambodian thing. You wouldn’t understand.” So today I decided that no matter what, the circumstances, my students, the awful heat, or the language, I was going to feel grateful today. It isn’t that easy, but it was a good start. I was intentional about noticing when my kids were trying to make me feel frustrated or isolated or stupid. From there I tried to acknowledge that they cannot physically force me to feel anything other than grateful. So I continued feeling grateful, or at least most of the time. That is until, Kagna burst out crying right in the middle of Morality class, again, for the second time this week. She was crying, shaking violently, clenching her body, and falling out of her seat.
So I put ‘grateful’ aside and tried feeling ‘sympathetic’. But this is hard when she refuses to talk and I don’t understand what is going on or why she is doing this. So ‘stressed’ replaced ‘sympathetic’ and I sent her to the back of the classroom with Sokcheng to hopefully calm her down while I finished class. From what I gathered from another student, Kagna felt stupid at school and unwanted at home. So after class, I shooed the girls away and tried to talk to her. I like Kagna, she is one of my favorite students, ya know, the ones I am not supposed to have as a teacher? I told her I was sorry and I hated to see her in pain. I rubbed her back as she refused to look me in the eye. I asked her what she was feeling. After much prodding, she admitted that she got a D in geometry class and felt stupid. I asked her who told her she was stupid. She pointed to herself. I repeated what she had just told me, “So, you are saying, you got A’s and B’s in every class except geometry in which you got a D?” She shook her head. I said, “Doesn’t that sound silly to you? Because it sounds silly to me! You are so, so brilliant, I adore having you in my class. I love talking with you and laughing with you. You are one of the best English speakers in my class” (All of that is completely true). I went on, “And it hurts me that you are tearing down someone I think so highly of”. She turned to face me and looked…lighter. I told her that sometimes I live by other people’s expectations for my life. I told her that yesterday I found myself curled up on the floor of my bedroom sobbing uncontrollably and that I had been having similar feelings. She looked at me with glad surprise, turns out, Ms.Bo was human too! I said I was sorry for the pain in her life and I was sorry for the pain she felt at home from her mother. She said, “It’s ok”. I told her it wasn’t ok. No one should have to endure such ridicule and pain from someone. She said, “Thank you”. I feel like she meant it. She gave me a moto ride home and she looked very hopeful as she said, “Tomorrow I will be a new Kagna!” I told her I really liked the one sitting in front of me, but I did hope she would be kinder to herself. She drove away.

-Back to Oprah. Recently I read a most, eye opening interview she did with Pema Chodron. The woman said, “Stay with your experience. The problem is that we have so little intolerance for uncomfortable feelings. I’m not even talking about unpleasant outer circumstances, but that feeling in your stomach of ‘I don’t want this to be happening’. You try to escape it in some way, but if somehow you could stay present and touch the rawness of the experience, you can really learn something. Stay with that [feeling] and say to yourself, ‘Millions of people all over the world have this kind of discomfort, fear- this feeling of not wanting things to be this way. This is my link with humanity.” As a Buddhist nun she recommends meditation. I’ve done more meditating here and it is amazing where our minds float to. Interesting.

-There is a website I used to like. It is called It is a website to encourage healthy living by calculating a person’s real age, versus their calendar age, based on how well you take care of your health. So you go online and take a questionnaire that asks all kinds of things: height, weight, how often you attend church, how often you floss, how often you wear your seatbelt, if you take vitamins, you get the idea. So I am 20 years old, by the calendar (my birthday is November 4th, if anyone wants to send a ‘twenty and 4 months old’ present! Why don’t those exist?). So before I left the States, I took the questionnaire and found out that even though I am 20, I am really 15.4 years old because of how I take care of my health! Whoo-hoo. But then, a very dumb thought entered my mind this week and I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if my real age has changed since I have been in Cambodia?” Turns out I have aged 9 years in the last 7 months! I am now 24.3 years old. I am trying to say those years must be years of wisdom, but unfortunately that’s a lie. I don’t even have a nice way to end this thought. I’m just going to stop typing.

-Today, my cousin Angie emailed me. I really like her. In response to my last email, she wrote, “But what hard would be done if depression and the eating disorder didn’t go away until you got back on familiar soil?” I haven’t considered that an option I suppose. I have a deadline. I came here to beat ED and find God, so July 1st rings in my head as the time to get it done! But neither has happened. She wrote a quote that is on her office wall, “The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them”. Nothing I haven’t heard before, but always, always a good reminder.

If I seem distant and very matter of fact, I am. Maybe ‘snyde’ is the word. Snide? I am just overwhelmed, again. I really don’t want to be here at all. I am just plain sick and tired of living here. I could list the reasons, but you probably know them by now, so I’ll spare you. I’m tired and beat up.

So in my attempts to have order, here is a summary of this blog, in case you just skipped to the end:
-Oprah may not give me $100,000 but I appreciate her interviews. Thanks Oprah.
-I still have many questions about God and am accepting answers
-I can help people by being equally human with them
-I am not 15, but I am alive
-There is no deadline to learning
-I am on a journey that will hopefully take a lifetime

Good enough. Oh, another thing, today I learned that ‘rusting’ is actually the process of a slow burning in oxygen. The flame is so slow and prolonged there is no heat. See the things I am learning in Cambodia?


shelli said...


I've aged 6 years since i've graduated from college... I did the age thing last year and was much much younger.... a reminder if nothing else that all our decisions affect our health.

Miss you girl... but enjoy reading about your growth and growing myself from your learning.

TTFN Dawg!! :)