Friday, February 27, 2009

Googling

I thought I might be a nerd for writing this blog, but then learned I am not, because the actual definition of a nerd is "a person with limited social, but advanced technological skills and interests." Whew! I am in the clear, because I have social skills.

Before looking up "nerd" in the dictionary, I might've falsely labeled myself one, because I am enamored with words. I have started becoming more and more intentional with my use of words, most likely because I am an English education major, but still, words should matter.

"I love you" should matter. "I'll pray for you" should matter. I want my words to be on purpose. I want to be intentional in everything I do.

There are several words that have been popping up and demanding attention in my life recently more than ever before.

So for curiousity's sake, and I can think of few that are better, the following:
Love is "a strong positive emotion of regard and affection" or "a deep feeling of sexual desire and attraction".

Now by that definition, I don't want to throw the word "love" around. Do I really feel sexual desire and attraction towards sandwiches? No. That would be weird. I want "love" to matter. Granted I "love" my sister, but do not feel sexually attracted to her, I just think I could stand to mean what I say a little more often.

Faith is "loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person," but can also mean, "complete confidence in a divine power."

I have faith in many things: faith in love, faith in people, faith in Barack Obama, faith in Spirit.

I've been confronted recently, with a question I thought I answered a long time ago, but am considering seriously now, more than ever before, "Am I a Christian?" I'm sure the definition has changed for me through the years, but wanting answers, I went to the source, the dictionary (I know you're laughing at how ridiculous I am, I'm okay with that!). And when I say "dictionary" I really mean, "Google".

Starting with the word christ, meaning, "any expected deliverer." And a Christian, "an individual who seeks to live his or life according to the principles and values taught by Jesus Christ."

Hmm, can any one really call themselves a Christian by that definition, "seeks to live like Jesus Christ"? I'm not sure I can. I'd like to, but I assume the key word in that definition is "seek".

I know an atheist is "someone who denies the existence of god", which I know I've moved beyond. But an agnostic is "someone who believes that people cannot know whether God exists or not" and "a denial of ultimate knowledge of the existence of God."

Now this I can relate to. Aren't we all agnostic? If someone could prove the existence of God indefinitely, we'd all believe. No one can prove God. No one can disprove God. Agnosticism makes sense to me because I don't believe anyone can claim "ultimate" knowledge of the existence of God, it's just not possible.

Is there such thing as an agnostic Christian? I believe in Spirit, I believe there is "something" greater, bigger than me. I know that "something" keeps me heart beating, my blood pumping, but can I prove that? Of course not. No one can.

According to Wikipedia, as we all know is the end-all and be-all of truth, I am an agnostic theist or spiritual agnostic meaning, "the view of those who do not claim to know of the existence of any deity, but still believe in such an existence."

Harry Emerson Fosdick said, "All intelligent faith in God has behind it a background of humble agnosticism."

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book Eat, Pray, Love, writes, "If faith were rational it wouldn’t be- by definition- faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first, full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be…a prudent insurance policy."

I cannot prove the how, why, where, and when, of Spirit, I won't pretend to, but I can still have faith.

Thank you Google.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

There are few things better than...

I seem to have started a trend recently in writing on topics that begin with "There are few things better than...", thus I continue.

There are few things better than feeling understood.

Last year I taught my 10th graders in Cambodia the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the physical action of receiving sounds into your ear drum. Listening is hearing with intention, on purpose, understanding. So when someones asks, "Did you hear me?" the answer is mostly always "yes." But "Are you listening to me?" implies much more intentionality.

Ninety degree temperatures, sweat dripping face, sticky, and exhuasted, I'd stand in front of my students practically pleading that they understand me. "Ok, let's do this again, if we are reading this sentence, someone tell me the direct object." Silence. Stares.

At the market, "I need 2 kilos of tomatoes." Silence. "Umm, please?" Exhuastion and confusion spread onto her face. Hand motions were sure to make me look like the foreigner who just couldn't learn the language as I hold up 2 fingers, point to the tomatoes, and they hand me two tomatoes.

I've never hungered to be understood as much as I did when living in Cambodia. We're all hungry for something.

My friend Rachael is one of the best listeners I know. Listening really is a skill that not every one has, it's deeper than sitting there looking at someone. It's reaching out and touching my arm, it's seeing me, it's asking questions, and not giving answers.

Ben and Ashley can join the hall of fame on this one too. They don't draw their own conclusions about me, they ask questions and seek to understand better. Ben and Ashely are a safe place, which is a lot of what being understood is about, creating a safe place for someone to be heard and understood.

Jeremy hears, listens, understands. I don't have to be someone else to make him happy. I can't say anything that is too ridiculous or too crazy. He sees me. He listens to my idea, my theories, my tears, my stories about Cambodia, my thoughts on God.

Feeling understood grants me the freedom to be who I am regardless of what other people want me to be. Because I figure, if a few close friends understand me, I can't possibly me too crazy, can I?

Being understood means that I don't need to prove myself to anyone. I wonder if everyone feels heard and understood. I'm going to doubt it. A girl in the dorm confesses, "I'm walking around with a smile painted on my face, inside I'm dying. No one sees me. I don't fit in here."

"I'm sorry," I told her.

She did the rest of the talking for the next 20 minutes. She didn't really need anything from me. Just a warm body to understand. She says, "You are so wise," when really I said nothing at all.

This phenomenon continues to blow my mind. Someone has a problem, smile, nod, say "I'm so sorry", possibly ask a few questions, without judgment, that's usually all it takes. Ahh, the simplicity of understanding.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flickr pix

Ok people, I just wasted an hour's worth of sleep catching up my Flickr account with photos since I've been back at Union. So check it out. Really, they aren't very interesting but I will feel better knowing it was not in vain.

Just click the Flickr sidebar at the left to view.-------->

Being

There are few things better than a quiet room.

In Cambodia I feared it. I hated being alone with my thoughts, because I never knew where they'd lead me. I should go throw up. I'm a horrible teacher. My kids hate me. I'm a wimp. I hate myself. Would anyone miss me if I weren't around?

I'd never hated solitude as much as I did last year. I couldn't still my mind long enough to read a book, meditate, do yoga, or pray. I couldn't understand the people there and was exhausted being around them too. So I was left, torn between the discomfort of my environment and discomfort with being by myself.

Now I am gaining solitude, peace, spirituality, and calm I've never completely felt before.

Last week Valentine's day, I spent mostly alone in my dorm room, stretching, reading, playing guitar, thinking. It wasn't terrifying or frightening. I don't mind being alone, when I have love and support near by. When I know I am taken care of, loved, understood.

This morning I went to the hot yoga class at my gym. To begin the room is heated to 90 degrees. Led through poses and movements, being conscious of my body, my breath, my mind. After awhile the room is up to 102 degrees and rising. Liz, the teacher, said something I'd never heard in yoga class before. "As you hold this pose, imagine how your body would change if you fell asleep right here." I'm thinking, Are you crazy? My face is contorted, I'm holding my breath, I'm balancing on my left foot, right arm holding my right leg up in the air behind me, teetering to hold my balance without falling on my face and she says, "Relax"?

Sure enough, when I became conscious of the tightness in my shoulders, I relaxed them. Once I realized there was no reason to flex the muscles in my back, I let them go. Only after she encouraged what it would feel like if I relaxed completely did I sense the tightness of my fingers, the scrunching of my forehead, the uncomfortable position of my neck.

She went on, "Acknowledging that yes, this is a difficult pose, but you can still be calm in it, is a fundamental goal behind doing yoga. Confronting stress, tension, or pain does not have to be the end of you. Learning how to be calm and see the stress, tension, or pain for what it is will change your life."

I feel more authentically myself than I did in high school.
I feel more balanced than I did freshman year of college.
I feel more forgiving and graceful than I did in Cambodia.
I am much less bitter and angry than I was when my plane landed 7 months ago.

Learning peace and contentment amidst the chaos is an ideal worth pursuing.

In 1st grade I wanted to be in 2nd grade.
In 5th grade I wanted to wear make-up and shave my legs.
In 8th grade I wanted to be in high school, then get my driver's license, then make the Varsity basketball team, then graduate.
In college I wanted to travel.
In Cambodia I wanted to be home.
Back home I want to back with my kids, I want to get out of college, and on...and on.

Where does it end? Is the pain or the situations in my life so unbearable that I can't just sit with the pain long enough for it to pass? Because it does, it always does.

Just being where I am, what I am, who I am.

This morning I came to Ben and Ashley's, possibly my favorite quiet place. My whole self sinks into calm as soon as I enter the door. As I sit in my pajamas they help remind me where I've been, how I've come, where I'm headed.

I can breathe.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Plainsong

There are few feelings that compare to reaching the last few pages of a book, anticipating its end, laying eyes on the last few words, and closing the book, and putting bookmark aside, ready for the next.

Now, this feeling doesn't find me often because I'm really not the bookworm I wish I was. But I'm trying, Mr. Blake is helping. He assigns me books to read then bugs me when I haven't been reading them.

I'm very unlikely to just pick out a book on my own, that I've never heard of and risk it being crap. So I listen to other people and the books they enjoyed.

I just finished Plainsong. No really, I just read the last page. I'm proud of myself for reading all 301 pages, and it only took me a week.

Set in a small, farming town in eastern Colorado, it speaks of humanity and the every day that compiles a life.

Having grown up in a safe, religious environment, I am still amazed at the lives some people lead.

A new friend tells me about being molested as a child, her father's adultery, and contemplating eloping.

On the news yesterday, a report on sex slavery in the United States. Thousands of children being coerced out of safety to the sad reality of selfish, sickening people who use them for pleasure.

Anna's dad is on marriage number five.

He watched his mother beaten to death by his father.

Another friend was threatened that if she ever told, he'd kill her.

Genital mutilation, unwanted arranged marriages, fear.

Helplessness eludes me, again. I'm not doing enough. What am I doing in college when the world is suffering? How is the knowledge of adjectives and sentence fragments going to matter to anyone, ever? I'm saddened by how much needs to be done, and how little is being done. What can I do? How will I ever get through the next 3 years of college?

How will I ever do enough?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Unanswered Questions

A friend once told me, "Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward."

Feeling particularly out-of-balance, anxious, and melancholy on my second day of winter break, I put home work aside, because what I really needed was perspective, and let's be honest that cannot be found in solving arithmetic problems for my PPST exam!

I've been journaling since 1st grade. Sure the quality has changed and I can't actually account for every single year of my life, but I've been overall pretty consistent. So this afternoon I cracked open my brown, leather bound journal starting June 17, 2007, the summer before leaving for Cambodia.

Much has changed. Much will continue to change. Several things stood out to me. Oh what we can learn from the past.

June 16, 2007: "I am tired of dealing and living with a struggle nobody seems to understand, including me. You are disgusting and fat. I can't believe you ate that. What's wrong with you? Notice a trend? You are pathetic and weak. You are a slob. You will never be thin, beautiful, or happy. You don't deserve it. Do other people view me as disgusting as I view myself?"

Interesting how I look at pictures of myself 3 years ago and wish I looked like her, but was never satisfied with it even when I had it. Hmmm...

June 28, 2007: "So what would I, Heather Bohlender, look like without this eating disorder? Wow, that thought really makes me smile! I would be drop-dead gorgeous. I would be beautiful because I would be content with just who I was. I would be confident, I would believe in myself, I would laugh at myself, I wouldn't be ashamed to cry. I would take ownership of my life and live it for me and no one else. I would be proud of myself. I would be more forgiving, kind, and compassionate towards myself. I couldn't be held back by my fears. I would make decisions on what I want, not what I "should" want. I would have more love for he people in my life. I would not be so judgmental. I would have hope for the rest of my life because I would be more aware of God.
I will be free spontaneous, adventurous, and daring, spirited and excited. I will be in love with life, but only enough to get me to the next.
God we are going to get through this. I know it."

I'm glad for where I'm at now. I mean come on, I used to count every calorie, count the number of bites, repeat memorized mantras before every meal, have pre-measured portions in mind, find out menus days in advance to prepare, avoid eating in front of people, and if I did always eat less than they did. Yeah, I'm glad for where I'm at.

August 2, 2007: "I am scared. What if I get to Cambodia and nobody likes me? What if I can't adjust to the culture? What if I am a bad teacher? What if people here don't even notice that I'm gone? What am I going to miss out on by leaving? What will I turn into? Will I like the new me? Will my friends and family want the new me?"

August 13, 2007: "I made a deal with God, if at any point in church there was a time for testimony, I would tell the entire church then and there that I had an eating disorder. I was so ready to get this off my chest, but the opportunity never came, so I didn't. The longer I sat there debating it, the stronger the urge became. I think I want to blog about this next year. Then, I wouldn't have to individually tell people or deal with their reactions. They can have a year to think on it. I can move on. I no longer to feel the shame. I would be free."

I am free.

August 14, 2007: "I can't remember what "normal" feels like. I don't remember what it feels like to eat and move on. I fear eating. Sometimes food is a necessary evil. I doubt most people feel that way. I cannot remember any differently. I watch people on T.V. and think, "Are they dreading their next meal?" Looking at people in magazines, I wonder, "Are they regretting that they ate today too?" I figure that food consumes everyone's thoughts as much as it does mine. I don't know any differently."

Hmmm...

August 15, 2007, 1 week until Cambodia:"So here I sit. Plenty of air to breathe, but too much on my mind to breathe it. I can hardly focus. What am I getting myself into? I feel somewhat paralyzed by my own thoughts. I can hardly sleep at night. My brain won't shut off to get the sleep I desperately need. When I sleep I dream about getting raped. I don't want to be around people. I force my smiles. I'm tired of all these unanswered questions."



It is interesting to read about the months leading up to Cambodia, because I was so uneasy, anxious, nearly paralyzed, and having nightmares about being raped. Was this a warning that I ignored? Was the universe trying to tell me something I wanted to ignore?

It's the unanswered questions that make life worth living. Part of me fears what I'll be reading from my journals 3 years from now. I'll probably read and think, That silly girl thought she had it all figured out, she had another thing comin!

"Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward."

Amen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Necessary


I gaze straight ahead at the marker board as Dr. Fitts talks about transformational grammar, my mind drifts again, back to Cambodia, where it usually does whether I'm saying it outloud or not.

I really miss my kids today. Emails are nice, but not being able to see them, touch them, and see through the words on the page, is increasingly difficult when I think about what I'm missing out on.

Ratanak is still in love with Monita and unwilling to give up, "I just want to hold her hand. What should I do?" he writes.

Or there's Muth who is definitely in "love" with a girl he's never spoken to. Strangely enough, that's kind of how they do it in Cambodia, so I wouldn't be horribly surprised if they got married.

Chea sends me random emails about Barack Obama and the prime minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen. His emails are in all caps and usually very demanding, but that's just kinda how it is.

I'll get mass emails from Pagna, Aliyah, Okhna, and Daroth so that they don't each have to send me an email, plus it's probably cheaper for them at the internet shops.

It's nice to be remembered, to be thought of. It never gets old.

Polly calls me about once a month and we talk as if we were right next to each other. She'll be home in 4 months. Four months! She's thrilled and so ready to be home in familiarity and family and comfort of a culture she understands. Still, amazingly, part of her hates to go, she's done so much at that school. I don't think it's the end of her mission experience.

I catch up with Fay when I can. She stays pretty busy just trying to run a household and do daily errands. For example just getting groceries involves trapsing around town to at least 5 different stops, which means braving the traffic, the heat, and the stares. Upon arriving she has to barter in Khmer, deal with the high prices because she's white, and get home. Fay is no ordinary woman. She's incredible. I'll say it again, incredible.



Ama, the head cook at CAS died two weeks ago. Most likely a heart attack. My kids all emailed to tell me, they were shocked. Several of them had regrets about how they "didn't spend enough time" with her, or "could have been nicer".

Last year I had each of my high schoolers write a letter to the person in their life that they admired most. "Why love people at all if you never tell them?" I said. Last week I encouraged them all to write again and keep writing, keep talking. It's nice to feel needed.

One of the most difficult things about being back is, not feeling needed. It might be a very selfish desire, but I miss it nonetheless. Is this why some people have kids?

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "Make yourself necessary to someone."

In a few months, my 11th graders from last year will be graduating. They've been begging me to come back to see it. It's not going to happen, I wish it was. But where do I draw the line. I can't just fly to Cambodia every time some one dies, graduates, or gets married though I want to so badly.

Maybe that's the angst of the whole situation: being there, leaving, and living after wards, the separation and helplessness, yet the indebted feeling towards what I learned and how radically different I would be without it.

"...and as you can see, the adverbial here acts as a predicate nominative, thus signaling this determiner "ought to". You understand?" Dr.Fitts continues.

Yes, yes...I'm beginning to understand.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mad

I'm mad that I ate that pizza.

I'm mad that I put butter on that bread.

I'm mad that I ate that cookie.

I'm mad that instead of getting homework done when my 7:30 a.m. class was canceled, I slept in.

I'm mad that I forgot about my grammar and linguistics quiz.

I'm mad that it seems no matter what I eat, it makes me nauseous, still.

I'm mad that I don't read more.

I'm mad that I let my teacher make me cry.

I'm mad that I didn't exercise on Friday.

I'm mad that I don't like the way I look.

I'm mad that I tear myself apart at minor grievances.

I'm mad that my expectations for myself are so high, I rarely succeed.

I'm mad that I don't have time to play piano or guitar or write down the music that's bouncing around in my head.

I'm mad that I don't feel good enough.

I'm mad that I don't know my grandparents.

I'm mad that Jeremy is in Tennessee and not here with me.

I'm mad about the chips I ate last night.

I'm mad at my lack of confidence.

I'm mad that I wanted to throw up last night.

I'm mad that many people hear "eating disorder" and think "conceited".

I'm mad that this ED is still a part of my life.

I'm mad that I'm feeling low right now, and even though I know it won't last forever, I can't just stop feeling this way.

I'm mad that I'm writing a blog about this, because I'll probably be feeling better in a few days, then be mad that I'm so flaky.





I think I have some anger to feel with: rational, irrational, or otherwise.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Repulsive

Sometimes I think in flowery language and gum drops and all things nice, and sometimes I tear myself to shreds, just because I can. Today was one of those days.

While the eating disorder has been dimming from my life the last few months, I still have my moments. It's these moments where I immediately forget how far I've come and just think, See, I knew I'd screw this up. I knew I'd never recover from this. Maybe they were right.

So without further adieu, my thoughts today, that I just need to say out loud. Nothing I'm proud of. Nothing I enjoy writing. But I need healing:

I hate the way I look. Why do I do I look this way instead of that way?

Why does she have to be so dang beautiful?

Why am I such a disgusting, repulsive person?

Why do people want to be around me...at all...ever?

Am I so shallow that this is still consuming my thoughts?

Was my dietician right? Will this be my life for at least 7-10 years?

I don't want to be awake.

I don't want to be living this right now.

Why did I eat that?

I want to throw up, the ultimate reset button.

I don't want to feel this. I want to be numb to this pain. I wish this wasn't a part of my life, but it is, and I hate it.

It's been three years ED and me. There has not been one single day that I haven't dealt with it in some way. No vacations. No holidays.

My head aches from crying. I feel repulsive to myself. I can hardly tolerate myself today.

Some days its easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel, because I've felt it and I've seen it. But right now, I can't. Either that or I don't want to.

Some days I feel I'm just existing. Not feeling or reasoning or enjoying, just sitting like a dead carcass, waiting to be moved or inspired or slapped around to get some life back in to me.

Waiting to come back to life. The life that will continue whether I'm totally in it or not. The life that will not wait for me to beat the eating disorder, become a social butterfly, or learn contentment. Time will pass whether I get perfect grades, be everything to everyone, or perfectly fulfill my purpose here.

Time will go on and I sincerely hope it doesn't pass without me, but I feel like,




it is.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Baby Steps

Sixty-four degrees on February 5th in Nebraska. Beautiful.

I do my best thinking when I'm exercising and thanks to a week of great weather I've been able to do so several times this week. Some people do their best thinking in the shower. But I'm a champion 4-minute shower-er, so those would be some super short thoughts.

I hit the pavement for a jog down Calvert street.

Step. Step. Step. Step. Dodge piddly wiener dog. Step. Step.

Little girl on a scooter. Step. Step.

Man smoking cigarette, blows in my face. Hack. Step. Step. Punk.

I look straight at the ground, or left to right when I run. I've realized recently that looking down at the squares of concrete passing below me passes time the best. Sure I see what's around me, but if I keep my eyes focused on the next step, and not much farther, it keeps me focused.

My friend Rachael and I have this on-going joke that, with any task, big or small, we encourage each other quite sarcastically in saying, "Baby steps. Baby steps. You can do it." I think she made it up when quoting that movie, What About Bob?

Step. Step. Almost hit by woman driving and talking on her cell phone. Step.

Last night, talking to Jeremy on the phone, I admitted just how much I dread the idea of being in college for three more years. That feels like so long when I just want to help people and I did that last year without a degree.

I've always figured I would die young and tragically. I've always felt like I am running out of time. Breathing is important. There is time.

Speaking of breathing, heavier, deeper, I plod. Plod. Plod. Plod. The sun skims my face. Ahh, vitamin D.

Earlier today, while studying for my Philosophy of Education class, I read about the Progressive theory of education. One of their core ideas is, "Education is life, rather than preparation for it."

What if, like my jogging habits, I only looked directly at the day ahead of me instead of the 3 years down the road? What if I took "baby steps" in reaching graduation and actually enjoyed my time here? It's far too often that I hear, "College was the best time of my life" and wonder what the heck they are talking about. I could stand to soak up the moments a little more.

I am not a child anymore. I am not in Cambodia anymore. I have many years before I graduate and I'm not running out of time.

Running out of time. The sun is falling behind the barren sticks of trees and colonial brick houses. The cool of late afternoon brushes the skin on my shins.

It's still early, but the white moon makes an early appearance in the blue sky. The moon.

Last year, I'd go jogging in the morning and jealously talk to the moon, imagining there was someone sitting on it's surface watching out for my family and friends at home. I'd shake my fist and cry, jealous of it's regular journey from Cambodia to the States, the States to Cambodia. Remembering the constancy of the moon, I'd beg to be anywhere but Cambodia.

I'm often discontent.

Reaching the end, I plod slowly to a leisurely stroll. Walk. Walk. Walk. Hmmmmm.

Baby steps. One day at a time. Focusing on the life in front of me, instead of the life I wish I had. The breaths keep coming, the days keep coming.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Ahh...Good run.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gush

Feeling the need to write, I am going to go ahead and gush, uncontrollably for the next five minutes and see what comes. I'm not even going to go back and correct all my grammar.

Ok. Go.

Toady was not my favorite day ever. But thinking abuot what would be my favorite day ever, I have nod idea. I'll think on that later. Note to self.

The morning was pretty good. Had pineapple for breakfast. A lot of pineapple. Maybe too much pineapple. Though most everything I eat seems to make me feel slightly sick since I landed back in the states. Still working on the dang hitch hikers in my intestines. Ughhh.

Had test in Philosophy of Education. Did well. I hope.

Next class, thoroughly enjoyed Grammar and Linguistics. When I was totally convinced last semester I could drop out of schooll and still save the world, tihs class brought me back to reality. Turns out, duh, I still have so much to learn. So much. I really, really could have helped my kids had I taken this class. When they'd ask, "Ms. Bo, why _____________?" I wouldn't have a rule or good answer, "Umm, it just sounds right, ya know?"

Now I knew most answers, but I really could've helped more with this one.

Found out today that possibly one of the most conservitive girls I thought I knew had an abortion. Hmmm, reminds me of Plato's quote, "Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I like dating Jeremy. He is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I know, I know I won't get mushy and annoying. I'm just writing what comes to mind.

This morning was good. Had a good time at lunch with friends. Broke my plastic fork while eating salad. Salad went everywhere, including down my shirt. Later, I found a stray pea. Sometimes I am funny, sometimes I am horribly un-funny. Hmmm.

This afternoon I arranged an appointment with a particular teacher, who we'll call L.J. Sclerosis. Dr. Sclerosis has been my teacher for 4 weeks and just might drive me crazy.

He is not the best communicator, doesn't explain himself well, has high expectations, and offers very little help. Basically he made me feel like an iddiot. So, I cried. He didn't seem to notice, but said, "Why are you crying?" Thus making me feel like more of an iddiot. Thanks. He might just be a grea, great example of the kind tof teacher I don't want to be. Ever.

Poverty in Lincoln. Worth researching.

Peanut butter and jelly, probably my favorite food ever. I like to think I'm low maintenance, but I don't think I am. Darn. Atleast I think I want certain things in my life that are worth while, like kind people, room to breathe, and balance. Hey, maintaining me could be a lot worse.

My sister is my best friend. She's possibly the most wonderful person I know.

I'm tired. It's 9:27pm. I'm probably not your typical college student. I go to bed early, have never pulled an all nighter, and I didn't gain the freshman 15, but the sophomore, ummm...never mind.

My wall mate is loud. I think she enjoys slamming doors.

Nebraska is cold.

I miss my kids in Cambodia.

Polly will be home in 4 months. I can't wait to see her.

Well, there ya have it. The gush. No reason in particular. And the remaining 17% perfectionist in me went back and corrected a few errors. It's habit. Could hardly ehl help myself. Ooo, I left that one. Tha'ts something.

Oy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The "M" word

I've heard the "M" word since I was little. In Sabbath school, in church, in Pathfinders, in school, from my parents, from other adults, from Christians, and from books. It's that dirty "M" word that most girls roll their eyes at and turn up their noses to. Well, at least we did then. Now I'm beginning to understand.

Modesty.

I was trying to think of some more hip word, but maybe this is the best. Modesty literally means: freedom from vanity and conceit.

Now growing up I knew, for them most part, that being modest meant not showing a lot of skin.

"Girls are to be modest, because that's what the bible says," or so I heard. I realize it may be biblical, but that's like saying, "Well, just do it because I told you so." That's not good enough for me.

I'm beginning to see the modesty issue from another angle.

This afternoon I went for a jog. Probably a little too excited about the sunny, 50 degree weather in the middle of winter, I put on a tank top and running shorts to head outside. It is noticeable to me how much more attention and awkward glances I get from guys depending on what I'm wearing. It is also noticeable to me that girls tend to like me a lot more when it doesn't look as though I'm trying to steal their boyfriend. I've made a lot more girl friends this year, probably because my appearance has become much less a competition. And believe me, it's a competitive, ugly, and vicious game that's not worth playing.

Yesterday I went to church for the first time in, oh months. First thing I noticed, the fashion show. Girls notice it more than anyone. You can talk to any female on this campus and they'll tell you it's true, unfortunately. It makes me sad.

If I walk by in hooker boots, a low cut top, and a mini-skirt, guys might like it, yet feel mad at themselves at the same time. They're trying desperately to hold up their end of a relationship, but half-naked girls walking around don't make that very easy. Guys are visual by nature, that's how they were created and that's ok. But it was never meant to be like this. On the other hand, girls just feel threatened and uncomfortable. I know. I've been that girl.

So I want to be modest to have better relationships with men and women. But also, because I'm realizing more and more that, eating disorders and pornography make up a vicious cycle. What was originally so perfect, the beauty of women and the attraction of men to it, has become warped and painful and destructive. Men like beautiful, women seek to be beautiful, it's just turned into some ugly extremes.

I'm not claiming saint-hood here. Don't misunderstand. I still gravitate towards short shorts and my tank tops could be looser. But there is balance in all things, and that's what I'm seeking.

Just because women can be provocative and sexy, doesn't mean they have to. This is not about the de-feminization of women, this is about responsibility. Men have the same responsibilities because in no way does a scantily clad woman "deserve" rape or "deserve" to be treated like a whore. But is dressing like one really the message I want to send anyway?

There is the argument that women should be able to dress, act, talk, move, how they want and men are the ones who need to control themselves. But I just figure, why not help 'em out? They're fighting their own battles and need all the help they can get.

Modesty is not about ankle length skirts and baggy t-shirts.
Modesty is not about never wearing make-up or looking nice.
Modesty is not about refusing to shave your armpits, because, well, let's just not even got there, yet.
Modesty is not about fearing what your pastor will think and feeling guilty because God won't love you if you don't.

Modesty is about thinking on a global level and considering how I can help.
Modesty is considering my effect on others, not only before I get dressed in the morning.
Modesty is about rejecting what the culture defines as "sexy" and redefining it for myself.

The "M" word isn't so bad.