Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vegan

Oprah did an entire show this week devoted to the protection and humane treatment of dogs, as well as the closing of unlicensed puppy mills.

She reported that a breeder’s farm in Pennsylvania was inspected by authorities and told to take some of his 80 dogs to get treated for fleas. Instead of paying the money to treat the dogs, he walked down the kennel rows one-by-one and shot every single dog.

He admitted to shooting the dogs. End of story. Nothing will be done because there are no laws in place against shooting animals. If there were we’d all be vegan.
I started thinking about the hierarchy of the animal kingdom. Who put dogs at the top of the “food” chain? Because while it’s easy to be outraged by the horrible treatment and massacre of little puppies, why not cows, chickens, pigs, and fish?

I would make the local news and be labeled as a sick person; if I treated dogs like slaughterhouses treat their animals. What if puppies were hung by their ankles by the thousands and had their heads drug their electrocuted water? What if I threw hundreds of puppies every hour into boiling hot water and watched them squirm? What if I skinned the skin off of their bodies while they were still conscious and yapping in pain?

Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarian.” It’s gruesome, but it’s true. I can do better.

It has me thinking very strongly if I can possibly call myself an “environmentalist” or “spiritual” if I continue funding this industry.

We could feed a lot more people around the world on a vegetarian diet, because so much of our grain and water go to raising the meat we eat. It’s very selfish.
If Adam and Eve were vegan in the Garden of Eden and we’ll be vegan in heaven, why not be vegan now?

I think the behaviors in the consumption of meat have completely changed from how they used to be. We never used to have killing factories like we do now. Farmers haven’t always injected the animals with hormones, drugs, and antibiotics.
Is there such a thing as humane slaughter? Is there a nice way to kill a living breathing thing? Come on. Think of the two words separate: “humane”, “slaughter”. They are complete opposites. There is no such thing as humane murder and that’s what I believe it is.

What animal would look forward to being slit in the neck or shot in the head? What animal loves living in a cramped cage, getting its udders milked relentlessly more than is usually possible, or dying just so I can eat it? I can save the lives of 90 animals every year for the rest of my life by going vegan. That’s at least 5,400 animals that will live because I’m choosing not to eat them.

Several studies have indicated that, Hello, animals have feelings! That’s why you can play with your excited puppy or anger a feisty Rottweiler. That’s why cats get jumpy or we describe them as moody. It’s been proven that chickens actually have better memory and more emotions than monkeys.

So in the final moments of life the stress hormone cortisol is released into the animal’s system as the knife grows ever closer. Animals feel anger, fear, and pain. So if you are what you eat, I am eating anger, fear, and pain, as well as, antibiotics and hormones.

These are just a few things spinning around in my head recently. I can’t stop thinking about it. How could I have avoided this for so long?

This is personal. These are my beliefs right now. I’m not saying everyone who eats animal products is evil, because then I’m evil. I’m not pledging to be vegan till the day that I die. It’s just something I’ve been considering recently.

What harm would it do me to go vegan? Would I feel healthier? Would my arthritis get better? Might my allergies improve? Will I have more energy? I’m not sure. But I’m willing to give it a go, not cold-turkey or anything, but more like flexi-vegan.

My own food issues make going vegan tricky. So as I talked to my dietician yesterday, she surprised me in saying, “I trust you. If you want to give it a try, go for it. But keep in mind that you can always eat whatever you want. Don’t turn this into a game of what you can and cannot eat.”

She’s got a point. I’m approaching it slowly with a different consciousness of where my food is coming from and what I’m willing to put into my body. This, among other things, has started me towards reconsidering a lot of the decisions I’ve made my whole life without giving them much thought.

I’m thinking about how often I can drive places instead of walking.
I’m thinking about where my soap and cleaners go once they’re down the drain.
I’m thinking about how much trash I produce, how much I recycle.
I’m thinking about organic foods and how pesticides, or poisons, may very well be causing a lot of health problems.
I’m thinking about the plastic bags I use, wearing sunscreen, and air drying my clothes.

It’s not about proving anything. It’s about the daily reminder that I am not the only one living on this planet and I better start living like it.



If you want to learn more go to goveg.com

Or watch this eye opening video: youtube.com, search "15+ reasons to become a vegetarian"

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Extreme

Recently, Jeremy and I wandered through the REI flagship store in Denver, Colorado. REI feels like one of those McDonalds play areas for adults. Well, the don't have a ball pit, but it's pretty darn fun.

Jeremy looked at knives and backpacks, while I'm always enthralled by little things like water bottles or those backpacking dehydrated meals. Chicken a'la King, just add water? Brilliant.

I'm a people watcher. So more interesting to me than the products at REI are the people who shop there.

Everyone who shops at REI is good looking, and a bit rugged. They are all wearing North Face "something" "somewhere" on their bodies. All look like they've had a few sunburns and crazy adventures climbing fourteeners and kayaking around glaciers. The women are naturally gorgeous, skinny, and wear very little make-up. There is a lot of long hair and gray hair, they're going au naturel. Some wear something knit or funky jewelry they probably bought at an antique shop in the middle of nowhere.

You don't see poor people in REI because everything is so gosh darn expensive! These are luxuries not everyone can afford. It's funny because they're probably thinking the same of me, but I can't really afford it at all. Talking to Jeremy about it he said, "Well, you could afford it, you just choose not to."

He's right. I'm in the richest percentage of people in the world, it's just easy to forget. My kids in Cambodia have never gone rock climbing or white water rafting. They don't go camping or go hiking just for fun.

"Extreme sports" are an American invention. There is no real purpose to snowboarding down a mountain or re-discovering already-discovered caves. We do so much for pleasure.

REI is filled with gear we "need" to enjoy our luxuries. We "need" these products to endure the great outdoors that we willingly thrust ourselves into.

Can you imagine how much an Arabian trader trudging across the Ethiopian desert could use a Camel Back backpack?

Wouldn't families in Nigeria just be thrilled to have our nifty little water filters we put over the top of Nalgene waterbottles?

Picture a sherpa in Pakistan decked out with a pick axe, hand warmers, Cliff bars, head lamp, and polartec technology long underwear.

We use our top of the line equipment to endure the elements which we enjoy on the weekends, when we feel like it. While real people, living in the elements every single day, make do with so little.

Overwhelmed by the feeling that I wanted and needed a pair of Phrana yoga pants for $60, I exhuastedly plopped down in the book section of REI. I found a book about a group of women who wanted to rock climb in Ethiopia.

The local people thought they were crazy. Why did they fly half-way around the world to climb on the rocks at the edge of our village? Because they could.

One Ethipian who had lived in the United States for a short time said, "I couldn't live there. I craved the reality of life, the truly extreme. People run faster, bike harder, skydive, and rock climb to call themselves extreme. I had to come back to my people living with AIDs to be reminded what extreme is all about. Life is real here."

Help me to remember life is not real here. Life can be difficult here, but our extremes are quite different. Complaining about a "brutal" 10 page paper in West and the World that just might "kill" me, just doesn't stack up.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Home

This morning I went for a walk behind my house that leads towards the foothills. Approaching the dirt road and heading up the hill, I'm greeted by an icy pond reflecting the beautiful mountains. Colorado is a sunny place, so winter isn't all doom and gloom.

A chill picks at my face as I walk further away from home. Still the sun shines.

Two months from today, I took this same walk on a much warmer October afternoon. It was sabbath. I'd just purged again and needed some air to clear my thoughts. I met a neighbor, we talked, no we really talked. Not like, "Hey, how ya doin? Good. See ya." We heard eachother. We shared what was hurting us. That was the last time I've purged. Not to say I never will again. But it sure makes it hard when I'm so dang public about this and I have so many loving, supportive people cheering me on. It's a good thing.

Four months from today I was angry with God, if there was one. I'm still working on it. I'm learning to listen and see Spirit in places I had stopped looking. Four months from today I was starting to work on my book and slowly seeing parts of my experience in Cambodia that I'd just never seen before. Were my prayers answers? Could I have been missing something right in front of my face? I'm still learning.

Almost 6 months from today, my plane landed in Denver arriving from Cambodia (well, Los Angeles, but you get it). I was anxious, worried, scared, yet relieved to be going home. The wheels hit the runway and I started to cry. For the first time the reality hit me that "something" brought me safely home and it had nothing to do with me.

Exactly 9 months ago, I sat alone on a train riding towards Sidney, Australia. I really wondered if it would be so bad if I ended my life. Would it make much difference? I was low and hurting. The thought terrified me. I shook my own shoulders, walked off the train, and headed for the Opera house.

A year ago today, I was riding an elephant in Koh Chang, Thailand. My parents had come to visit me in Cambodia and indeed whisked me away to a more peaceful place where I could catch my breath, Thailand was it. Christmas is just different on a beach, but I'm not complaining. The best Christmas gift I got last year was my parents.

This year, the best Christmas gift I've received is a little healthy perspective. I'm far from perfect, far from healed, and incredibly far from normal, but I'm glad for where I'm at.

The family is on their way here, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins. Soon the house will be full of commotion and laughing, things I really longed for last year. So snuggled indoors near the fireplace, with my slippers, and good people around, it's still, still good to be home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Childhood

I think I might have slight hypochondriac tendencies. It all made sense to me after I saw Marsha, my counselor, yesterday.

I am not completely pre-occupied with the fear of my failing health, but I tend to fear the worst when it comes to health, because in the past, I've been right.

Between 2002 and 2004 I had seven different surgeries for different things, ranging from a scope surgery on my wrist to a tonsillectomy to several surgeries to remove a tumor growing in my middle ear.

My freshman year of high school I made the varsity basketball team. I was thrilled. High school is a bumpy time for anyone, but I was making friends, life seemed to be going well. Then a few games into the season, we went in for a routine check up on my ear and I heard "tumor". I heard "surgery". I heard "don't worry too much", so I did. I knew other people who had tumors and died.

Over the course of the next two years the clausteotoma, or benign tumor, continued growing back each time after they supposedly took it out.

My sister stayed home for college to be with me. I was anointed at the hospital. Friends came to visit, brought cards, and casseroles. These were all things people did when someone was dying. I had no idea what "benign tumor" meant. I thought I was dying. I thought this could very well be the end of me and I never said anything. We never talked about it. I put on a positive face, but inside I thought I was dying.

Obviously after a few years of "not" dying, I realized I was going to be okay. But going through the health issues I did in high school, whether it was surgeries to remove the tumor, hearing loss, arthritis, broken bones, it was a constant reminder to me that life is short.

Some people heal from cancer and are filled with a new zest to be grateful for the small things and appreciate the little things. I got through my surgeries and was filled with this constant urgency to get things right the first time, never make mistakes, be logical, don't have fun, there was not enough time. I spent most of high school believing I would die young and I would die tragically. I've been filled with this urgency that I'm going to run out of time for the last 7 years.

This explains my need for control that led me into the arms of anorexia.

This explains why I just couldn't come home from Cambodia, I didn't want to be a failure.

This explains my perfectionism, I didn't have time to screw things up.

This explains my lack of dating, drinking, and partying in high school, that didn't make sense. I didn't have time.

This explains why I missed out on a lot of fun and silliness, it served no purpose to me.

This explains why I could talk easier with adults and spent a lot of weekends with my parents and their friends, this made sense to me. I was too logical for mindless fun.

I've always, always felt older than I really am. When answering the question, "If you didn't know how old you are, how old would you be?" I'd say 27, at least.

I've been surrounding myself with fun people lately. People who don't "act their age" whatever that means. I'm learning to take it easy, to schedule fun into my day, and to take deep breaths.

I'm not running out of time. I don't have to fear life itself. There is balance. There is hope for me yet.

I'm reclaiming that dang childhood I feel like I zoomed right through. So now at 21, I want to learn how to be a kid, again.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pubescent Teenagers

I have been going to the Chilson Recreation Center in Colorado since I was 12ish. I didn't really grasp "working out" or "exercise" at that age, but it was a fun place to hang out, go swimming, play basketball, and mess around on the treadmills until we got kicked off.

Today I ran my little heart out on the treadmill and was feeling like a rock star. Just as I hung out at the gym in 6th grade and throughout high school, there is a new generation there now. These girls have perfectly placed, platinum blonde hair, waists the size of one of my thighs, and the tightest wardrobe money can buy. They scurried about in clumps of 3 or 4 and giggled obnoxiously.

Watching them I realized, I need to officially mourn the death of my body in high school. I need to mourn and move on with what I have now. Women are not meant to be 103 pounds and easily broken over someone's knee like a brittle stick. I will never again be a size 4. Nope, not gonna happen.

I have cellulite and no, a quarter will never fit between my thighs, well at least not placed the wide way, like model's do to check before hitting the run ways.So today, as I watched the mid-pubescent youngsters meandering about in their awkward bodies and even more awkward interactions, I was truly thankful to be done with that stage in my life.

I've said it before and I might say it again, but I've never felt more beautiful than I did my senior year of high school when I was starving myself thin. For the first time in my entire life I felt good about how I looked. Keeping up appearances came with it's consequences, many I'm still living with, but at least I was pretty, right? I got more compliments and more attention from males, but inside I was dying, I was hollow, I had very little spirit left in me.

I don't go into much detail about what living with an eating disorder actually looks like, because I know that I learned how to be anorexic from reading women's magazines and hearing other girl's stories. How sick is that? I don't want to contribute to the problem.

I'm happier these days, for many reasons. I've lived through and continue learning from an eating disorder that challenges me to live better, instead of the alternative. I ran away for a year to Cambodia and as painful as it was, I was stretched and challenged, that mindset continues with me today. I've stopped putting Spirit on my time line and under my terms. I'm learning to let things go. I'm dating a guy who truly believes I am enough as I am right now, priceless. I'm living in a country that is familiar to me, with amazingly supportive people whom I love dearly, dearly.

I've lived a good, long life. Yes, I'm only 21-years-old, but it's been an eventful 21 that's for sure and most days I feel more like 27, but that's a whole 'nother blog.

So, as I watched the flippant, cursing teenagers at the gym today, their eyes darted nervously around, attempting to look confident and all put together. As they tried to hide how uncomfortable and lost they really feel, I felt ok. My legs are strong. I could take most of those kids in a fight. I grew some hips last year in Cambodia and I think I like 'em. I see some definition forming in my arms. I feel strong in plenty of ways you may not see in muscle definition. Where looking beautiful used to be a pretty sad life goal, it's been replaced now with living an authentic, balanced, healthful life, one I feel very hopeful and grateful to have the opportunity of living.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Pursuit of Happy

"I'm not sure why I never assume I could use a break. I never stop long enough to think, Huh, I deserve to take it easy."

I'm listening to my friend Katelyn at the Mill. She goes on, "I was just talking to my dad about taking on full case loads after I graduate on Wednesday. He told me I should take it easy and just ease it into it slowly instead of jumping right in. Why can't I do that for myself without someone suggesting it?"

One of the best books I've ever read is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it she writes about American advertising that encourages us that we "deserve" to take a break, that we've "earned" it. She writes:

"Such advertising campaigns would probably not be as effective in the Italian culture, where people already know that they are entitled to enjoyment in this life. The reply in “You Deserve a Break Today” would probably be, Yeah, no duh. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon to go over to your house and sleep with your wife."

The word "entitled" really jumped out at me. Well, the part about sleeping with someone else's wife kinda hit me too, but that's besides the point. Entitled.

I've never, ever believed I was "entitled" to enjoy my life. I thought that joy, happiness, leisure, and pleasure were all things I'd have to spend my entire life "earning". Maybe I should move to Italy, or just stay here and pretend I like I live in Italy.

What if I lived my life believing I was entitled to the enjoyment of it? What if I spent my days doing things I thoroughly enjoyed instead of those that I should just to get done? What if instead of scheduling all the appointments and tests and responsibilities, I scheduled in joy?

Dancing. Climbing trees. Reading. Yoga. Drawing. Cooking. Learning something new.

Ahh, yes, I remember. If I were actually to schedule joy into my day, I would end up feeling guilty about it. That's the problem.

This morning I woke up with a sore throat, a stuffy nose, and an aching body. I've had a nasty sinus head ache all day long and every time I stand up, I get dizzy. I didn't do the best job at giving myself a break, there are after all some things that just have to get done, like studying for my Psychology of Religion exam.

But tonight, without apologies, I went and crashed on Jeremy's couch and did nothing at all. I drifted in and out of sleep while he watched the Cowboys game on TV. That was exactly what I needed to do, so I did it. I didn't feel guilty for not studying, for not working on my book which is due Wednesday, and I didn't feel guilty for not being especially fun, sociable, or necessarily at my best. I just was. Article 24 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights goes like this: "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay."

I have a right to rest and leisure. This is not something I have to earn. Rest is not something I have to work for to hopefully deserve it someday. It just is. It is my right.

I realized something pretty amazing a month or two ago: I'm happy. I haven't been genuinely happy in a long time, at least 2 years. Part of me starts over thinking: first of all, Why am I happy? then, Well, it probably won't last.

Sick isn't it?

I'm happy. I have my hunches. But resisting all urges to analyze exactly why, I realize I can't guarantee happiness or joy or pleasure every day for the rest of my life. I'll just keep showing up with what I've got from where I'm at. I'll do my balanced best and give myself a break at my less than graceful fumbles along the way.

After all, it is my right.

Elizabeth Gilbert, "Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prayer

Spirit,
You know what's on my mind. You know what makes me cry. You know my future and how it's all going to turn out.
I trust you.
I don't want to twist the arm of the universe to do what I want. I am not in control. I am so small.
Begging won't help and there is nothing I can tell you that you don't already know. This isn't like a toy store where if I beg long and hard and obnoxiously enough, you'll cave and give me what I want. That isn't how this works and I don't want it to.
This morning I am reminded, "The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is worry."
Please give me peace. Help me see that it's all going to work out, because it will, like it always does.
I trust you. I trust that you have a plan. I trust that everything is going to be okay. I refuse to spend my days crying and complaining. That isn't going to solve anything.
I have final exams to take, which won't kill me. My book deadline is in 6 days and it's going to be okay. Surrounding myself with great people may be the best thing I can do.
I am okay. Things will be sorted out soon and if they aren't, I'm just going to keep living and breathing and showing up, because that's all I can do.
Spirit, I'm not seeking answers, a blueprint, or a game plan; I'm praying for peace.
Get me through.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Boycott

Little girls wear pink dresses.
Little girls talk sweetly and play with dolls.
Little girls are "cute" and "pretty".
Little girls learn early on everything they are supposed to do to fit in, I know I did.

I remember begging my mom to let me shave my legs. That's what girls do. When I was 10 years old I started using anti-wrinkle cream. When I was 12 I started drinking my mom's Slim-fast and following diet cookbooks. I figured I was getting ahead of the game in a race I was expected to run the rest of my life.

I started dying my hair, wearing make-up, and buying trendy clothes, all supposed marks of womanhood, or so I thought.

By my freshman year of high school, I quickly realized that to succeed in high school I didn't have to be smart, funny, or talented. I just had to be thin and pretty, so I was.

Obviously the striving for beauty and thinness led me down a long road I'm still walking. But it's a journey I continue learning from, so it has been 100% worth it.

Our entire culture breeds behaviors in us we are often completely unaware of. It's not just girls either. Growing up little boys wear blue. They are told to be tough and strong.They are told not to be sissy's or pansy's and god-forbid, never, ever cry. They have their own set of standards they are supposed to uphold. If they do anything remotely feminine such as, appreciate the beauty of a flower or take an interest in something artistic, they are picked on endlessly. I know, I've seen it.

From the female perspective, I'm living much differently now.

I refuse to purchase women's magazines anymore, except for Oprah or Self, both soul-nourishing. Instead of magazines that tear me apart with cellulite busting diet tips and the top 10 ways to be hotter, sexier, and all around better.

I will never again set foot in a tanning salon. What a useless waste of money. Is the shade of my skin so darn important?

I will not set foot in Abercrombie and Fitch among other stores because they use sex to sell their products and I do not want to support that. I will never look like their models and I'm ok with that.

I spent most of my teenage years straightening my natural and insanely curly hair. I'm done fighing it. This is what it is. And as much as hollywood fails to represent any movie stars with hair quite like mine, I'm ok with that too.

I've started deciding which clothes to purchase based not on the brand name or sex appeal, but on their ability to let me sit cross legged on the ground or say, climb a tree. Ya know, just in case. I want to be comfortable.

What's the deal with high heels? They are one of the most ridiculous inventions of all time. Why does elevating my heel a couple inches make me any sexier? They are donwright dangerous to walk in! Too many sprained ankles and hurt feet. Have you ever heard a girl say, "Oh I love these high heels, they are as comfortable as slippers!" No, they take them off as soon as they get to church. This is a 95% boycott because sometimes, I have to, but I don't do it happily dangit.

I wear significantly less make up than I did in high school. What exactly am I supposed to be hiding anyway? Me?

I've vowed to never ever get Botox or plastic surgery, denying my right to age only supports the idea that we are not supposed to. Why is that the golden years of 20-30 are supposed to be held onto desperately the rest of our lives? This is silly.

I don't always feel so confident and recovering from an eating disorder has brought me many places. Some times I look in the mirror and think, Are you kidding me? This is what I'm stuck with? I'm disgusting.

But that is exactly what the culture has raised me to believe: I will never be enough.

I may spend the rest of my life boycotting this particular aspect of our culture, but that's a battle I'm very willing to fight.





Friday, December 5, 2008

For Today

Running errands today I nearly cried each time I hit a red light, yeah, it's just been one of those days. Ya know, the kind when it seems the slightest things set you off and then compound into an all around crummy day? Walking through the mall was especially difficult, it always is. Can we please, please use real women as models and manikins larger than a size 0? What are they trying to prove anyway? Who are they catering to that actually looks at those models and thinks, Wow I feel good about myself because I'm sure no one else notices I will never look like her. Men I suppose.

I've been feeding an anxious mind for the last few days. I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I went up to see my sister between classes and it all came gushing out. She asked innocently enough, "How are you?" And of course, can't lie, "Ehh, I'm ok." Not more than 3 minutes later, I am in tears I just wasn't expecting to come out.

I'm overwhelmed.

-I have exams next week in classes I am neither passionate about nor interested in.
-I lack a consistent group of friends I can turn to and the friends I do have, I feel I've been neglecting.
-I miss my kids in Cambodia. I miss Fay. I miss feeling like I had even a slight purpose. I'm just another exhausted college student now.
-My book deadline is speeding towards me like a tsunami and I fear it's going to crush me and I'm going to drown in the aftermath. I don't love this book. I feel like it is lacking. I am not a writer and I am really disappointed in myself for how writing this book has taken back seat to a lot of other things. Working on 'the book' is what I should be doing right now, but, I'm not, again. I may never get another opportunity such as this and I feel like I've blown it.
-I have too many interests and hobbies. I want to sing, write music, learn guitar, read more books, train for a bike race, write more, play basketball, write for the newspaper, be in Amnesty International...and on and on. The problem comes when I try to do it all and really end up doing nothing at all, then just getting mad at myself because I'm not.
-My health is less than great. I get sick after every meal I eat because of the crum in my intestines I brought back from Cambodia. I'm on another round of antibiotics. I'm sick and I'm tired. I'm not getting enough sleep. I'm not eating well. It shows.

For some reason making lists of my stresses makes me feel better. Not because I enjoy this overwhelmed-ness, but, I don't know why.

Pema Chodron, an ordained Buddhist nun, has a lot of wisdom, yes she does. She talks about sitting with the pain in our lives instead of running from it. She says the pain is the one thing we might have in common with all of humanity, it is pain that connects us all.

Sometimes that makes me feel better, but today, I do want to sit with the pain, but probably not how Pema was talking about. I want to sit here on my sister's couch, skip all the upbeat music that comes on itunes, and just cry.

Yeah, it's just one of those days, and I'm sharing to connect with humanity I suppose, if anything else, just to prove, yup people hurt, including me, at least for today.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why it Matters

"Ha, ha, wouldn't it be so funny if you got like so depressed you shot yourself? The anti-depressants just stopped working I guess!"

As I sat in class I glanced at a guy in class whom I know is on anti-depressants and his head sunk low. Because I know what depression feels like and I had suicidal thoughts last year, this was painful to hear.


"Yeah, you better walk her home, she might get raped right here on Union's campus!"

After I walked back in the dorm in the dark, I had awful nightmares about being sexually assaulted, again. I woke up in exhaustion and tears.


"Did you see the Patriots game? They really got raped."

I cringe at the flippancy of the word 'rape'. If there daughter or mother was raped, I doubt they'd use that word.


"...it was that guy we saw on the street today, the one in the wife beater."

Because women are getting beaten to a pulp all over the world, I can't laugh at this and I really don't see how anyone can.


Words matter. It matters to me when someone uses the word 'rape' in a joke. It's not funny to me, it hurts. If we aren't using words for what they really mean, than why say them at all?

I didn't break down in tears or throw a fit because these things were said to me. I imagine my beliefs as items I carry around in a backpack. So, in reality, if someone attacks my beliefs, they are not really attacking me. They don't know any better. It is ignorance we are dealing with. People know what they are saying, but they are clueless as to who it might be affecting.

There is this assumption world wide that if it doesn't hurt you, it doesn't hurt. Ignorance at its best. So while I may not get angry and start throwing rocks at people who say ignorant things, I am quick to start a conversation about what they really meant.

Plato says, "Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle".

You might not see their battles on the outside, because as we all know, you can't always see cancer. You can't see the recent death of your co-worker's father. You can't see a porn addiction. You can't see a persons self-hate they carry around every day like an overwhelming load of bricks wishing for the day it will all come to an end.

You can't see those things, but they are there whether you choose to see them or not.

I'm 100% positive that I have deeply hurt people in my life because of my own ignorance, I'm not claiming otherwise.

I just think we could all do better.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Unofficial List of Beliefs

I believe in the power of the human touch.

I believe that if we all talked openly about our struggles, a lot of them would cease to exist. Silence is pain's best friend.

I believe pain is necessary because it jolts us out of comfort into reliance and growth and change.

I believe there is evil in this world.

I believe there is it's opposite good. I may call it something other than you do, but it's the same idea, the same something that I believe puts the breathe in my body every morning, and I can't explain it. Something other than myself has kept me alive for 21 years. Thanks.

I believe that listening is one of the best things I can do for someone.

I believe that yoga can be prayer, journaling can be prayer, walking can be prayer, this blog can be prayer.

I believe that we overuse advances in technology and we are actually now communicating less.

I believe in wearing my seat belt.

I believe that each day I am at my best because 'my best' changes from day to day. I can't promise the same Heather that was yesterday, but I can promise you the best of myself given the situation I'm dealt with. I'm always at my best.

I believe that "perfect" and "should" are two of the worst words in the English language. Yes, even above those four letter words and phrases you're afraid to say in front of your grandmother.

I believe I have a responsibility to fulfill and I might spend my whole life trying to figure out what it is, but I'm willing to search for it.

I believe that water, food, a home, community, and education are luxuries. I am in the richest 8% of the world's population and I never want to forget that.

I believe in music, it's influence, healing abilities, and power to bring people together.

I believe it was never meant to be the way it is. Families are not supposed to be separated like this, reduced to phone conversations. Life was never meant to be this overwhelming, stressful, and jam packed, we were meant to breathe and live for so much more. We would live in smaller communities where it would be impossible to just disappear.

I believe we could all do more to remember we live on planet earth, not planet America. We are part of India and Russia and Brazil. What if we acted like it? What if lived with international pride?

I believe my beliefs can change and they probably will and that's ok. But today, this is what I believe.