Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's just been One of those days

It's just been one of those days.

One of those days when the alarm goes off, you hit what you think is the snooze button and wake up, late, when 3 zits appear out of no where in weird and painfully noticeable places, when you can't get motivated to do anything you really need to do, but amazingly find time for things like sending pictures and emails to Cambodia or tweezing your eyebrows, when you try on at least 6 shirts and all of them look like something you would've worn in 3rd grade, when you heard the weather was going to be nice, but instead it's 34 degrees and snowing.

It's been one of those days when you look at the deadlines approaching like a swarm of angry sea gulls and you want to run and hide for cover, but you have to stay on the freezing, cold beach, barefoot and brave the attack with a smile on your face, when you only eat refined carbohydrates and peanut butter all day and it makes you sick and bloated (thank you giardhea, worms, parasites, amoebas, and yeast, thankyou), when your car you bought to sell and make profit breaks down and costs more than $1500, on top of the fees to get it towed, when you are alone all day with your head in a less than interesting text book that threatens any passion for life you have left in you.

It has indeed been one of those days when people need more than you have to offer, when you forgot to clock out of work last week and have logged in 59 hours of too obviously inaccurate hours, when every blond, skinny, trendy, beautiful woman on campus pays you a visit and eyeballs the 3 large zits on your face, and burning 475 calories at the gym just doesn't seem like enough, ever.

One of those days when you have mounds to do and amazingly none of it gets done, when your hair does strange things only confirming your belief that it really is a separate entity of its own, when the kids you left behind in Cambodia feel painfully far away as well as the once-inspired teacher who taught them, when you are supposed to write a 12-15 page term paper on your Christian philosophy of education, but you don't know what your Christian philosophy of education is, when everyone you need to talk to "just went to lunch" all afternoon.

It's been one of those days when you cannot silence the voices in your head telling you that you are "worthless", "lazy", "unmotivated", and every other negative adjective you can think of, when life seems out-of-control, when it all seems too much and instead of actually accomplishing the work in front of you, you write a blog and send it into space, hoping someone, anyone else feels even slightly the same way.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Catch Up

This made me feel a lot better, thanks to Jeremy. I feel a little less like a chump, always a good thing.

I spent Saturday with my good friends Samantha, Rachael, and Katelyn and her fiance Mike. They are wonderful together. Mike kindly drove an estrogen filled Honda all the way to Kansas City, graciously accepted gifts at the wedding shower of chatty women, and patiently endured our silly conversations the whole 3 hours back. Katelyn and Mike are good together. Sitting at the wedding shower, looking around at the broad spectrum of couples, and listening to a woman give advice to the my friends, I realized how neat the cycles of life are. Weddings remind married couples of the vows they took. New babies make us all giggly and silly. Birthdays remind us to cherish the years we've had and the place we are at. Death reminds us to slow down and enjoy what we have.

I wonder sometimes if I could commit crimes better than the idiots on TV, is that weird?

This summer I'm working at Indian Creek summer camp as the sports coordinator. I get to play sports with kids all summer: basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, I'm thrilled.

I think I still have bugs in my tummy. Talking to Samantha, an SM friend who spent last year in El Salvador, she says she doesn't have a regular appetite anymore and upon inspecting her blood in a microscope, she can see the little swimmers hanging out. Oy.

Next week's vespers is the hanging of the Golden Cords ceremony at Union college. Every SM or task force hangs a cord from Nebraska to the place they served. It's a nice idea to commemorate our experience, but it all seems a bit anti-climactic considering where I was sitting a year ago. Is this it?

A teacher at Union seems threatened by me. I make him uncomfortable. I'm not sure whether to feel sorry or thrilled.

My sister is my best friend. Yeah, that's right, my best friend. I'm not sharing. Get your own.

Why is it that we are talented, skilled, and down right professionals at noticing the bad things in our lives, and completely overlooking the good? I'm completely enamored with Post Secret. You will be too.

Have you ever taken this quiz? It just might change your life. I'm 15.3. How old are you? Take the Real Age quiz here.

I might be able to live off-campus next year, yippeee.

My blue bicycle made a debut today. I sped down hills and over sidewalk cracks. I pretended to be a superhero/tyrant, I'm not sure which yet. Either way, a good time was had by all...of me.

I'm a certified Zumba instructor. I start teaching officially in September when I am back to school. It's like Latin Jazzercise, but cooler. I like it because it gets women of the treadmill and it's fun. Check it out, but be warned, I don't have those abs, those moves, or that attitude. I just like to shake it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

This is how it goes...currently

Bip, beep, beep. Ring, bringg, brrrriiinnggggg. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

"Hey Jeremy. I hate leaving messages but, I just wanted to let you know I'm not going to throw up tonight. Please don't worry. I'm ok, just needed to say it out loud. Talk to you later. Bye."

Bip, beep, beep. Ring, bringg, brrrriiinngggg. "Hello, sister!"

"Oh hey Ashes. How's the drive to Colorado going?"

Sigh. "Oh fine. What's up with you?"

"Ummm...I uh, really am calling for no other reason but to let you know, I'm not going to throw up tonight."

Without missing a beat she says, "Way to go. I'm so proud of you."

"I realize this is not at all a normal conversations among most people, and I'm glad we can kinda laugh about this," I go on sarcastic and obnoxiously cocky. "I mean I know I could throw up, but that would just be silly and exhuasting, ya know?"

"I do," she responds. "I mean, you don't want to waste time calling your close friends, telling Mom and Dad, telling your dietician, and writing a blog do you?"

"Huh, no! I don't have time for all that. Who would want to go through it? Not me!" Half-joking, but half-serious we continue to ramble and joke about what I would have to do if I decided throwing up was my only option. "It's going to be okay..."

"Oh totally, yeah, it's going to be alright," she assures me, because she knows I need it.

"Um yeah, tomorrow is another day," I boast. "And the more I talk this out with you, the more ridiculous it would be if I got off the phone and vomited anyway. I mean you'd be angry. I know you have such an awful temper."

"Oh, yeah, yeah. You know me, me and my awful anger problems," she jokes.

Long pause.

Ashley says, "You know I love you right? I'm so proud of you."

"I know. Thanks. I love you so much. Good night."

And, this is how it goes. This I can handle. I don't enjoy writing this, in fact, I hate writing this. A friend told me, "I am shocked sometimes at what you write on your blog, but I"ll admit, lots of times, I'm feeling the same way and I like knowing I'm not totally crazy."

Compared to where I've been, I'll take this over that any day.
Because even though as I sit here writing this, the toilet is 20 feet away, I don't need to.
The dorm is empty, everyone is at vespers, but I won't.
I could and no one would ever know, but I know better.
My stomach hurts painfully and laying on my stomach is the only position that feels better, but that's what I'm going to do.
Tomorrow morning I'll feel sick and won't have much of an appetite. I'll feel pressure to eat and girls might look at me weird if I don't, but it's going to be okay.
All day tomorrow, my metabolism will be off and I'll probably feel sick. Food is most likely the order of the day from potluck to a wedding shower, and I can't avoid it, but I'll survive.

This eating disorder does not need to own me. I am more than this. I have dreams bigger than this.

In my dreams I am an advocate for positive change in women and how they view themselves.
In my dreams I am a women's counselor like Mary Pipher.
In my dreams I work with organizations to hold the media accountable for what they promote.
In my dreams I nourish my body and exercise entirely through dance, yoga, and sports.
In my dreams I marry someone who defies the abusive voice in my head and loves me "exactly" as I am.
In my dreams my kids grow up with a positive example of health, happiness, and joy, not what the world has turned her into.
In my dreams comments like "You've put on weight", "You're going to wear that?", and "That's not very lady-like" don't hurt.

In my dreams I'm not a brand new person. I'm not someone else. I'm the same girl, but with a bit more wisdom, strength, and love for others and for herself.


This is how it will go...someday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Muy Thanks

Counting my blessings. The good that too often gets ignored.

-I've been back from Cambodia for 9 months and I'm doing well. Anticipating home left me anxious, worried, and scared for what might happen. But upon arriving, I was surrounded by supportive friends and family that made the transition easier. I'm happier than I've been in several years and I'm still learning.

-My kids in Cambodia still want to keep in touch with me. The 12th graders will be graduating soon and they keep me filled in on all the drama. Fay and Polly email often and I'm blessed with a conscious reminder almost daily that it is a big world and I'm a very small part of it.

-I have opportunities up the wazoo (wahzoo?). Eh, you get it. I am rich, though I don't always feel like it. I have money in my back account, a car, a lap top, a cell phone, plenty of clothes in my closet. I've always had food, healthcare, insurance, and education. I'm in college. I have credit cards. I've never run out of water and I've traveled outside my country. I'm in the top richest percentage of people on planet earth, based solely upon my location on the globe.

-I have several wonderful people I rely on, listen to, depend on, and learn from. I have dear friends and family I would die for. Really.

-My everyday struggles include how to fit in all the great opportunities available on a college campus, what to eat for lunch, and where to spend my money. I might be faced with a small squabble with a teacher, but I've never had to choose between water or food, education or food, safety or food. My problems are quite small.

-Yesterday I was reminded that when faced with the whole Acai fiasco, I would've handled it quite differently a few months ago or 2 years ago. Saying, "I have an eating disorder" feels less and less true the more I continue to heal. I never, ever thought I'd be writing this, saying this, feeling this, but I'm doing well. I haven't met regularly with an ED counselor in 1.5 years. I haven't thrown up in 5.5 months. I haven't talked to my dietician in several weeks. Food, exercise, body image, and self-hatred dominate my life less and less and I am so grateful.

-I'm dating this guy named Jeremy. I don't have a long dating history, so this is pretty much all new to me. But we're going on 4 months and he is amazing. We joke that we are just friends with benefits, but let me explain the benefits. Jeremy is a friend I laugh with, play with, go on adventures with, and talk to about...everything. But the "benefits" mean he wants to hear what I have to say, I'm not a burden to him, he doesn't seem to just tolerate me, he might just like me. Other benefits include, honesty, prayer, openness, understanding, and growth. I'm challenged, stretched, and comforted knowing he is in my life.

To spirit above, below, and all around: much grateful, many blessed, muy thanks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Evil Acai

Acai berry is a fruit found only in the Amazon rain forest that has been proven to have amazing health benefits and extremely high levels of antioxidants, BUT, not all acai berries are created equal. Please, take a lesson from my naivety.

One day, February 10th, 2009, to be exact, I was just browsing the internet for, who knows what, and stumbled upon an advertisement for the the fore-mentioned "acai berry."

"Rated #1 antioxidant by Dr. Oz!"
"Flush 10, 20, 30 pounds of waste and toxins from your body!"
"Rachel Ray says..."
"ABC news reports..."
"CBS news has found..."

And, you guessed it, last but not least, my downfall, whom I'd like to blame, but will not, "Oprah Winfrey claims it is the most powerful and antioxidant rich food in the world!"

And yes, all the claims were ended with obnoxious exclamation points, this should have been my first clue: too good to be true. Oy.

But did I stop there? Of course not. I wanted more.

The clock was counting down, as it probably does and restarts again every 4 minutes. I was running out of time. I "needed" this product that would change my life. I "need" acai berry!

"Try it today. FREE!" they told me. "Just pay $4.99 S & H."

Heck, I've got $4.99 and that's not much to pay to flush my body of pounds of toxins and look just like Angelina Jolie! I'm in!

Like a mosquito to a mound of sticky honey, I was a goner. Images of perfect abdominal muscles and the perfect smile, just like the acai models, flashed before my eyes. Life would be different now, somehow better, somehow...brighter. Ahhhh!

Rush my order? Yes, please. At $4.99 this is some remarkable deal. I mean, it's "practically" free! What a steal. I am savyy. I am on the cutting edge of finding hot deals. I have arrived. I am growing up so fast, I mean, I even have my own debit card, whoo-hoo. I'll just punch in these little numbers and BAM, free stuff!

I received my bottle of Acai Berry supplement. I should've known by the incorrect use of apostrophe in the title written on the bottle, "Natures Best", instead of "Nature's Best." I should have known. I felt no life changing benefits. I did not lose "10, 20, 30" pounds. In fact, the capsules kinda made me sick to my stomach. Fine, only $4.99 lost. No biggie. Or so I thought.

Looking at my bank statement this morning, I noticed several charges that I didn't recognize amounting to over $200! I caught on very quickly to the Acai berry company, but there were several other web companies stealing my money as well.

I got online to search for the dang website I saw and googled, "free acai." Duh. The first hit on google read, "Do not get a free acai berry trial until you've read this." The second hit read, "Don't order free acai berry until you've read about this scam!"


What I was informed of by a well-trained customer service representative is that, the little, tiny, miniscule, and basically invisible "Terms of Offer" box at the very bottom of the page in 8-point font, fully explained what I was getting myself into and there was nothing she could do.

To which I replied, "Ok thank you for your explanation, now I can see what I did wrong. I realize that it is my fault for not fully researching before I signed up, but I feel that this company is being dishonest and stealing money from people by their inaccurate claims, and I am not getting off the phone until I get my money back. I'd be happy to speak to someone else, but I expect a refund. Thank you."

It wasn't that easy. It took being passed around to a few other customer service representatives dealing with me before I got some of my money back. Apparently signing up for this free Acai crap, included me in membership to several other companies who decided they had free reign on my bank account and I spent the morning getting my money back from them as well. Well, not all of it.

I'm still stuck with a $85.91 hole in my pocket. I still feel like a big dork for falling for such a ridiculous claim. I called my mom, "I've been scammed!" Basically she said, "Sorry babe. That sucks. At least it wasn't more."

She's right. Still I feel like such a goober for playing the part perfectly of a naive, senseless consumer, honestly expecting to get something for free. Oh no, not again.

As long as there is is money, there will be people misusing it. As long as there is one way to be healthy and take care of your body, someone will try to make money off of claiming there is an "instant" or "easy" way. As long as there are tried and true methods, people will cut corners and manipulate others to make a buck.

Learn from my long and dramatic blog.

Think: before you buy, before you speak, before you believe.

(Oh and don't go here looking for acai. "Apparently" it's overpriced. "Apparently" it won't change your life. And "apparently" it's a scam. Damn.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

8 minutes

Here it is, an 8 minute blog.

I'm headed out the door for Intro to Teaching class with none other than R.J. Sclerosis (name changed to protect...me). It is the first day back from spring break.

Spring break was...the best I've ever had and last year I was in Australia. I flew to Tennessee to be with Jeremy. He is working there as a graduate assistant in the Outdoor Leadership program to get his Masters. Not too shabby.

I got to meet fabulous people there that make up his friends and community: old teachers, high school friends, new friends, teachers in the OL program, and more. I went to his church. We took a vertical caving class together, yes, I now have a certificate to prove it. Apparently I am in the top 1% of cavers who can enter and ascend a vertical cave, versus a horizontal cave you just walk into. No really, I'm dang proud.

We got to play outside together, get dirty together, and smile, a lot, together. I really like this guy. Several times I found myself thinking, How did this happen? How did I end up so lucky to be with this guy?

We played games with friends, got dressed up and went on a date, and just hung out together. It was so good. It was vital for me to get out of Nebraska and forget about school and deadlines and exams for awhile, for awhile.

Alas, now I am back. School is not my favorite. But while away I was reminded who I am.

I am not these classes.
I am not the attitude and stubbornness of my teacher.
I am not, at my core, the stressed out, tired, and weak student I masquerade as most of the time.
I am not the drama that can be a college campus.
I am not the beauty contest that takes place here every day either.
I am not the perfectly put together human who is always on top of things, assignments, and responsibilities.

I am just not.

I am a calm person.
I am a forgiving person.
I am flexible.
I am playful.
I can make fun a priority, just as much as any other human need.
I can nourish my body and soul.
I can take deep breaths and walk slow.
I can soak it all up like sponge.
I can take what comes with open arms instead of rejecting what I don't like.

I can be.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Know for Sure

Sengphor writes:
"HI, how are you Mss Bo? I sill remembered once you caught me copying the answers from Vatana, and I got 0 in that assighment. I want to thanks very much for that. Because sinces that I did my best and I got my good grade. Thanks once again for coming to teach us here."

Vitya writes:
"Sisster i see it i reallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy like ti . oh! the ball ring. i have to to chass i missssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Kagna says:
"You're so sweet, do you know?? You made me smile when i was sad.My exam result were bad i guess. i got 79% for English and the rest of the subjects i got A and B i didn't feel i like the result but i was not angry with myself because i have to kind to myself , Miss Bo told me to do that... I really wanted you to come back to see how much we had changed we never complain.When the teachers gave us alot of home works, class works, or tests we never complain and did quietly. I know that is what want us to do while you teach but we never ever did it for you, I'm so sorry for that."

I continue to receive emails from my kids in Cambodia. Every time I hear from them, I remember what was. I don't want to be in Cambodia, but I want some of those feelings back. I want the simplicity, the less-hectic-ness, the purpose.


I am beginning to hate that word. Okay, I'm beginning to strongly dislike that word. According to studies, young college students like myself all go through this stage asking questions such as, "What is the meaning of life?" and "Who am I?" So do people ever find out, or do they just give up and accept that they'll never know and they don't care to keep searching.

I feel a lack of purpose when I run out of homework and realize, I don't quite know what to do with myself. I feel a lack of purpose when I drove to the gym, parked my car, and just sat there for about 15 minutes thinking about nothing in particular besides, "What am I doing?" I feel a lack of purpose when my kids in Cambodia beg me to come back and I am ridiculous enough to think, "Hmm, what if...?" suddenly seeming to forget how painful last year was for me.

Will I ever be content where I'm at?

Talking to my counselor this week she said, "Your deepness is both a blessing and a curse. Sure you want to know you matter, but I think you are slightly addicted to validation."

She mentioned a study done about overpraised children who no longer hear compliments nor believe them because they develop such a strong self-hatred and they start seeing people's praise as forced or less than genuine.

I thrive on knowing I'm even of minuscule importance to someone. I know that I cannot live on people's compliments alone. I have to have a better picture of myself than solely what people say I am.

So, on my way towards defining who I am and building myself up instead of relying on others, here is what I know for sure...

I am human.
I will make mistakes. I will fall, hard. I will learn, stretch, grow.
I am capable, durable, open.
There are people who love me. I don't matter to everyone, but I matter to some.
There is something bigger and greater than myself.

Sara Groves writes:
"So many words to say, but I'm opting for silence.
So many days to live, think I'm sitting this one out.
Cause something I've been chasing, finally stopped to let me catch it.
Something I've been longing for and dreaming about.

It's a whisper in my ear.
It's a shiver up my spine.
It's the gratitude I feel for right.
It's a mystery appeal that's been granted me tonight.
This peace."

Peace. Prayers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lisa Kogan speaks

O magazine is the only magazine I'll read. That's a lie, O is the only magazine I'll admit to reading. I still pick up People magazine while I'm waiting in line at the grocery store and read about the drama in holly wood, it makes me feel better about my own simple, less-complicated life. When I go to the gym I have to intentionally decide that I don't need fitness magazines to tell me what my body "should" look like.

Every month O magazine features "Lisa Kogan Tells All" a piece by a hilarious writer from New York who writes about anything and everything related to her life.

She writes:

"Now comes the part where I admit to a dark secret that I'm hoping you'll keep to yourself: I am part of a small, mortified group of individuals who were born lacking that special spirit-of-adventure gene that makes people want to scale Everest or taste ostrich meat or walk into Starbucks without a little mascara. I still remember the day my husband admitted that he had the opportunity to go to the moon, free of charge, safe as can be, he'd probably just mix up a batch of Tang and stay home. I believe the exact quote was, "I mean, I don't even like going upstairs.

"You know how you're perfectly content with a man and then one day he gives you his last piece of tangerine, or he spends 40 minutes teaching your addled aunt Evie to work her DVD player, or he perfects his imitation of a wombat sneezing and you just fall madly in love with him all over again? Well, the day he told me he had virtually no desire to go to the moon is the day I knew I was a goner.

"I like to think that if Amelia Earhart had survived, she would be willing to hear me out while I attempt to make a case for not setting world records on a regular basis.

Dear Ms. Earhart,
I love that you could touch the sky. I think about you sometimes and I wonder how it is that a little girl from Kansas learns to fly. I'm 48 years-old and I still can't walk in heels.
Tell me Amelia, did somebody infuse you with so much confidence that you always believed you could do anything you set your mind to? Or did somebody cut you so deep that you always believed you had something to prove to the universe? Were you ever tired? Were you ever lonely? Did you get scared a lot? I like to imagine that from time to time you were all those things, but what I find so really remarkable is that if you ever did feel exhausted or isolated or fragile, you never let it stop you from taking off.
Still, I have to ask, didn't the concept of changing into something flannel, ordering in a couple of sushi rolls, and renting a good movie ever tempt you even a little? Because frankly, that's my idea of a perfect evening. It's not that I don't experience a touch of wanderlust periodically, it's just that for all my talk of missing the swashbuckling gene, I'm currently off on an adventure of my own.
You see Amelia, I'm trying to raise a 5 year-old with a lovely man. I'm trying to be excellent at my job. And I'm trying not to feel just awful that it's ten after 6 and I'm writing a letter to a woman who vanished in 1937 when I know I should be convincing my daughter to at least give eggplant Parmesan a try before permanently relegating it to the things-we'd-rather-set-our-gums-on-fire-than-ever-eat-again food group.
I'm trying to understand Israel and Hamas and the auto industry and immigration relfrom and I'm trying to convince my insurance company to cover the blood test that it decided wasn't necessary. Amelia, didn't you ever have to stay home and wait for somebody to come and steam-clean your rugs?
As daring goes, I realize getting a kid to eat eggplant is a far cry from being the first woman to make a nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, but my little adventure is definitely nonstop. And Amelia, like a lot of us, I'm pretty much flying solo, too."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Three Year War

Laying on my tummy, my arms reach back for the soles of my feet. Holding on tightly and lifting my legs into the air, I form the bow pose while swaying gently on my stomach and hip bones. Arched back and neck held upwards, Liz says, "Just when you want to give up, hold on. As you sense the tension and exhaustion of your muscles, ask yourself, 'Is this pain so unbearable that I cannot relax as much as possible and just be here right now?' "

I wanted to cry, so I did. The lessons I learn in yoga continue to change and challenge me.

Can I continue breathing even when it hurts?
In this time of tension and apparent anxiety, can my body stretch and strengthen even when it's painful?
Is my situation so unbearable that I cannot just be here right now?

Last night, at my sister's warm and cozy home surrounded by wonderful people and hot drinks, I escaped to the bathroom for one purpose. With a full stomach and enough self-hatred to go around, all I wanted to do was throw up to feel better, to numb the pain, to get out of feeling this way, and exist on the temporary high of relief, control, and endorphins.

I sat down and thought of what I was about to do. First, I'd have to take this ring off of my right index finger, put there as a very practical reminder. Second, I'd have to tell Ben and Ashley, escape to the dorm, and fall asleep in my tears. Third, I'd tell Jeremy. Fourth, I'd have to write a blog about it, again. Fifth, I'd have to tell my parents. Sixth, I'd have to tell my dietician.

The list was long and still, STILL, I thought, "Yeah, but, just this once. Just one more time. It will be worth it."

So I prayed, Spirit, here we are again. I don't want to go down this road, but I can't stop myself. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I'm putting you on a time line. If you don't stop me in the next 10 seconds, I'm going to do it.




Ugggh, you've got to be kidding me...

My cell phone rang. It was Jeremy. He's been gone all week on a canoe trip to Florida and now he calls? Now? Yeah, now.

Rewind four months ago, November 4th, 2008, my birthday, election night, the last time I wanted to purge. Spirit, if you even exist, I need to know it. I can't stop myself, so you're going to have to.

A knock at my door.

What's the deal with me trying to continue my self-hating, self-loathing behaviors and the Universe not letting me?

Here's what purging is all about. The very basics of human existence involve breathing, food, and water. We cannot live without these very basic needs being met. Eating disorders deal directly with the question, "Am I good enough?" and most commonly the answer is, "No. I need to throw up or starve myself because I don't even deserve to eat, to be fed, to be."

I want to feel good enough. I want to believe people when they tell me I am. I want someone to say, "You are a good person, beautiful, worth it, important..." and actually believe them.

Because inside I hear, She is just saying that because she doesn't have anything else to say. They don't mean it. You're despicable. You don't deserve him. You don't deserve happiness. You are worthless.

It felt good to talk to Jeremy last night. He asks, "What can I do?" Just the fact that he asks, is about all he can do. Feeling heard is important.

This morning a voice mail on my phone from Jeremy, reminding me I'm important to him. I start to cry thinking, He can't be serious. He still must not know you well enough, or else he'd never say things like that.

The self-destructive, abusive voice in my head is stronger on some days more than others, but still, always there. It says, "you", because it isn't me. I don't know who or what it is, but some days I give up because...I'm just too tired of fighting it.

This war is 3 years old. And indeed, it's getting old.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Exactly a year ago today, March 5th, 2008, I wrote the following from Cambodia:

"I'm glad I woke up this morning...
-to get an email from Ashley
-because I'm no longer paralyzed by the "f-you"s I get on the street
-to hear Aliya pray, "...and thank you for Ms. Bo."
-to swing with the first-graders
-to giggle hysterically with Reachany and Sophea
-because JC and I made the whole school laugh at our flag raising performance
-because I haven't binged and purged in 2 days
-because Leeta took me by the arm and held on tight
-to tutor my Vietnamese girls at Khan's school"

And another, from February 24th, 2008:
"Reading back in my journals, I see the same feelings: never feeling good enough. Oh God, I just want to go home. The problem is not this country, the problem is me. I can't expect to run away to Cambodia and escape my problems. I'm stuck with me. I wish I was anyone else right now. I wish I was anywhere else right now. I wish I could take care of myself. I wish I wasn't afraid to be left alone. I wish. I wish. I don't know what spirituality is supposed to look like. I don't actually feel the presence of God. I just like feeling that I have someone to scream at. "

Oh, how things change. I miss these experiences. I miss my kids. I'm in a better place now, but upon writing my blog yesterday, trying to figure out, "What am I really hungry for?", I realized, I hunger for the same thing I've been hungry for my whole life;
to feel good enough,
to matter,
to make a difference,
to serve a purpose.

I can't live the rest of my life depending upon others opinions of me and having to constantly be told, "You matter." That would be exhausting, for everyone.

I need to intrinsically identify my worth instead of relying on the world to decide who I am. Until I master how to do that...

I'm glad I woke up this morning...
-because I've been having daily headaches since December, and suddenly without my realizing it, they stopped 3 weeks ago.
-because I had serious tummy issues when I landed back in the U.S. and slowly they are improving and I'm feeling much better.
-to realize it's been 4 months since I threw up and nearly 9 months since I did so daily.
-to laugh regularly, more than usual, just because I can.
-because it is 70-freaking degrees outside, in March, in Nebraska!
-to breathe in, breathe out, stretch, and nourish my body.
-to see my lovely sister Ashley. She really is all things lovely.
-to share a laugh with Mr. Blake.
-because the happier I am, the more I sing to myself throughout the day. I'm singing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Burning Bushes


I’ve never seen a dead man come to life
or seen a blind man get his sight.
I’ve never seen water turned to wine.
It isn’t that I don’t believe
but it would be easier for me
if you would just send down a sign.

I remember the childlike innocence.
A faith with no coincidence.
The world around was living proof.
Has that world just disappeared
or is it me that isn’t clear
how to recognize its you?

I’m praying for a miracle
to let me know you’re listening.
Waiting for a lightning bolt to strike.
Walking through a garden of a thousand burning bushes
looking up to heaven for a sign.

I walk through the water and the waves
looking for a drop of rain
but you’re still not coming through.
Maybe its new eyes that I need
or maybe it takes more faith to see
I’m drowning in the truth.

I’m praying for a miracle
to let me know you’re listening.
Waiting for a lightning bolt to strike.
Walking through a garden of a thousand burning bushes
looking up to heaven for a sign.


I find myself asking, more often than I'd like to admit, "What am I really hungry for?"
-because this cookie isn't cutting it
-because their friendship actually makes me feel worse
-because burning those 500 calories just makes me hungrier
-because buying that dress didn't actually make me any more attractive

What am I really hungry for? I know it's not the substitutions.

Sometimes I feel a bit panicky to where, the only thing I can think to do, is write a blog.

This semester I've been fulfilling my education requirements by spending 2-4 hours a week observing at Northeast Public high school. Ms. Rivera is a brilliant, energetic, and interesting, young teacher at Northeast and I'm grateful for what I've learned from her.

Stepping into this high school 2 months ago, was like entering another country, I know, I've done this. My Christian boarding school upbringing could not have prepared me for what I found here. With 1,500+ students and diversity that puts a food court to shame, I faked confidence and braved the swarms of disinterested high schoolers. Just try to look cool. Don't trip over yourself. Smile. Wait, these kids don't smile. Don't smile, repeat, do not smile.

A red-haired teacher directing traffic, spotted me and announced, "Alright missy, where is your name tag? You know the rules."

"Hi. I'm actually a practicum student and I'm looking for the main office."

"Yeah, it's that way," she said, motioning her flick of the wrist, somewhere in the direction behind me, as she returned to herding humans.

Mohawks, piercings, pants hanging around their knees, and solemn glares greeted me as I spun around in the opposite direction. Oh man, this is just like the movies! I can't believe I just thought that, you small town goody goody. I'm such a dork.

I'm still unsure whether I'm tough enough for this crowd, though I'd like to think I am.

Today, as I walked back to my car a group of Mexican boys stood in my, refusing to move as I tip toed around them, in the mud. From behind my steering wheel, in the mild serenity of my car, I watch the human-polluted lawn milling about with confused and unpredictable high school students.

What are these kids hungry for?

Two students, apparently joined at the lips, make-out passionately just beyond the hood of my car, she pulls away, he yanks her back in. Three overweight Latino girls dance to a boy's beat box rhymes, in matching pink tennis shoes. Cigarette smoke comes from the shaking hand of a freckle faced girl with pig tails, surrounded by "friends" who ignore her completely.

What are we hungry for?

Driving back to Union, I spot the parents just picking up their kids from school and others, alone, but with cell phone in hand. From my rear view mirror I see a beautiful Korean girl, being driven by her stone-faced father, no words. Later, a green mini-van, shiny on the outside, heated on the inside, as a mother yells angrily at her disinterested son who tosses his long hair over to the side and glares out the window.

What are we hungry for?

Parking my car back at Union, I soak up the afternoon rays, and walk towards the dorm, observing a different kind of hunger, the kind we hide. "Hey! How are you?" she asks and keeps walking, one of my biggest pet peeves. This is another world as well. Without the extreme diversity and disinterest of high schoolers, it is replaced at a Christian college by conformity and comfort. It's easy to hide what we're hungry for here, where we blend in and disappear, no one knowing the difference.

What are we really hungry for?

I dare say, it's not food. It's not porn. It's not shopping. It's not gambling. It's not drugs. It's not suicide. It's not whatever we are hiding behind. It's not even good things. It's not sex. It's not exercise. It's not academics.

It's acceptance. It's belonging. It's self-worth. It's purpose. It's balance. It's all the things I intend on fighting for the rest of my life, until I'm done hungering for what harms me and begin healing towards a life where I'm satisfied, content, balanced, filled.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Diogenes, the biographer of the Greek philosophers, known as a cynic and skeptic, reportedly had the following conversation with Alexander the Great:

Diogenes asked Alexander what his plans were. Alexander responded that he planned to conquer and subjugate Greece.

"Then what," Diogenes asked.

Alexander answered that he planned to conquer and subjugate Asia minor.

"And then?"

Alexander said that he planned to conquer and subjugate, the world.

Diogenes who was not easily dissuaded from a line of inquiry, posed the question again, "And what next?"

Alexander the Great told Diogenes that after he had finished conquering and subjugating, he planned to relax and enjoy himself.

Diogenes responded, "Why not save yourself a lot of trouble by relaxing and enjoying yourself now?"

The mind is not designed to know everything. Skepticism, is the idea of saying, "I don't know everything and that's okay." Socrates said, he knew more than anyone else, because he knew he didn't know anything.

If any of us needs convincing how small we really are, watch this (compliments of Jeremy):

Blows my mind. Really, my brain is splattered all over the walls. Ewww.

You'll see.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Giving a Damn

"The greatest predictor of success in life is choosing the right parents. Choosing the right country, right gender, and right skin color is equally important," Mr. Blake tells us in class.

When I'm taking notes in class and I hear or think something worth exploring further, most often only somewhat related to the subject matter, I highlight it in orange. Random insight sometimes comes even in the most boring of classes and I'll highlight it. My Blake class notes are ALL orange.

He went on to say, "A recession and a depression are only mildly different. A recession is when you lose your job. A depression is when I lose my job."

Today reminded me of my utter disgust and frustration over some people's lack of interest in anything that does not effect them directly.

At lunch as I took my tray to the revolving dishwasher that accepts dirty trays, I was overwhelmed by the amount of glass bottles, plastic Naked juice bottles, and other recyclable materials that were just going to be thrown away because Union market does not recycle. Yes, it is 2009. Juggling as many as I could carry, I took them to the recycling facility only blocks away.

We don't care about it, unless it effects us. We throw things away, we flush our toilets, we pour soap down our drains, out-of-sight, out-of-mind, AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Well, we live on a big planet and yes, the rest of it is "out-of-sight." Having lived in Cambodia, a country with less-than efficient waste management and less-than democratic government, I see things from another angle now. Watching 6-year-olds, wearing dirty rags, dig though the trash changed me. Seeing pre-teen prostitutes line the streets at dusk, headlights flashing upon their pained expressions changed me. Watching Slumdog Millionaire was painful, too familiar.

In class, my friend Kylie, who was a student missionary in Kenya last year, reminded me how excited she is to be visiting Africa next week for spring break. She is surprising her "kiddos" and can't wait to see them and wrap her arms around them.

"I'm so happy for you," I said as tears ambushed my eyes.

She turned to chat with someone, and by the time she faced me again, I was a goner. I slipped out of the room seeking Kleenex. I want to see my kids next week. I would be glad to know I had the chance of ever seeing my kids again.

My kids are those people unable to choose their parents, their country, and their skin color. Those are MY kids. They are the statistics attacked with disease, lack of good education, and poverty. Those are MY kids.

How can I make people care? I can't. Too often Americans are raised in oblivion and disinterest for anyone other than themselves.

Have you noticed the amount of commercials or advertisements now focusing their ad campaigns on saving money? McDonalds splashes their low prices. Even Triscuit crackers announce the price of a healthy snack. Suave shampoo wants in on it too. Oprah has recently been doing several shows on saving money and penny pinching. Americans were completely disinterested with being frugal and spending responsibly until, you guessed it, they were forced to.

So if forcing is the way to go, how can I force people to give a damn?

World vision splashes horrific images on the TV screen. Compassion international apparently "guilts" people into providing food and education for a child half-way around the world. Christian organizations go on mission trips. Missionaries come and tell their stories, but are most often met with disinterest and distrust that "their" money will be used for its actual purpose.

I'm reminded that I only "gave a damn" once I experienced it for myself, but I'm out of ideas besides my latest one, which is to kidnap people, fly them to Cambodia with a pillowcase over their heads, and drop them there for a few months.

Not my best idea I'll admit. I do my worst thinking when I'm sick, tired, and frustrated.

Can you guess how I'm feeling right now?