Saturday, April 30, 2011

Totem Pole

About this time last year, Soulforce came to visit Union. They came because Union's current policies do not ensure acceptance and safety for people of different sexual orientations. This young inter-faith group basically came to say, "Hey, ALL people deserve rights and freedom in your institution, and currently that's not happening."


There was a group meeting where the Equality Riders (those who came on the ride and were either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ)), could talk with Union students about their desired policy changes for Union.


I joined a group of a dozen students and 3-4 Equality Riders. Jaxson, whom I would've assumed was a male, informed our group that zhe is a hermaphrodite, or a person born with both male and female reproductive organs. Jaxson said that zhe prefers gender-neutral pronouns because zhe is neither male nor female, so why should zhe be called something zhe's not? (Disclaimer: I'll probably mess up the pronoun usage, but I'm trying. It takes practice and it's worth it to me)


I listened to Jaxson's plea, that there be equal rights for people like zhimself and there should be a safe place on campus for people who are LGBTQ to find solace. In response, I said something like,“I think it would be a great idea to see a safe place for LGBTQ members on Union’s campus, but because I identify as heterosexual, I probably wouldn’t be the one to start it, but I’d support them for sure.”


It was at this point that Jaxson absolutely humbled me: "You don't get it. You are the only person who can actually do something to change this and all you want to do is watch us keep trying."


Ugghh. Blow to the chest.


Essentially, I need to be the change I want to see in the world, not just support others who I expect to do the changing because it's not my problem.


Are victims of sexual abuse supposed to be the ones fighting for laws that protect them? Who has more power to end violence against women? Men or women? It is not the oppressed who harness this power; otherwise they wouldn’t be oppressed to begin with. It is the potential oppressors—those who have this position of power—who have the greatest platform to create real, lasting change. It is the silenced who need our voice.



It's not fair and it's not right that in our society there is a totem pole in place and the people at the top have more power and influence than the people on the bottom.


A year ago, I was made clearly aware of my place on that totem pole.


I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual woman. I've spent a lot of my life aware (and often frustrated by) those typically above me:
white, heterosexual, upper-class women
white, heterosexual men


What Jaxson reminded me is who often sits below me:
people who have immigrated to the States
people with physical or mental disabilities
people who are not white
people who are lesbians
people who are gay
people who are bisexual
people who are transgender
people who are queer


This is not to say that anyone who is gay or Mexican is "below" me. This is to say that I have not had to fight for my rights to safety and freedom like those that have commonly been pushed to the fringes of the typically accepted American Dream. There are certain people who are quickly accepted by mainstream culture and those who are quickly rejected, pushed aside, and told "You are not the norm, therefore, you are not worth my time."


This is why we've only recently elected a Black president.
This is why only in the last 30 years have laws surfaced that protect people who are mentally disabled and provided them rights to an education.
This is why Title IX came into play in the 1980s to give girls equal opportunity in academics and athletics.
This is why Matthew Shepherd was murdered and some people applauded their behavior.
This is why LGBTQ youth are committing suicide at an alarming rate and some people just don't seem to care.


Thursday, I walked into Interpersonal Communication class to find all of the desks disheveled, some flipped over, some facing the wall, some on their sides. A sign said, "Do not move the desks," so I sat down in one that faced the door and twisted my body to listen to Mr. Blake teach class. He began a completely sexist rant against women, their ability to think, to reason, to lead, and... to drive. We sat in disgust, yet humor, knowing that Mr. Blake doesn't stand for 90% of what he was saying.


Throughout the discussion, he would call out and disagree strongly with people whose desks were not facing forward, "Umm, excuse me. I need eye contact here. What you're doing is incredibly disrespectful!" And to those whose desks were positioned facing forward and they simply sat down in those desks, he said, "I really appreciate your attention and respect. You are model students."


After he finished his rant, we all re-aligned ourselves in rows and talked about the meaning of the desks. We cannot control the positions of our desks. Some of us are born into desks that are clean, upright, and facing forward. Some are born into desks that are crooked, upside-down, and facing the wall. They can't change it. They are treated differently based on their alignment, yet expected to function like everyone else, and often called out, ridiculed, or harassed when they don't.


To judge others based on factors beyond their control makes no sense at all.
To sit comfortably in a desk that fits the "norm" and act as though I deserve it or have earned it, is completely asinine. And ignorant. And ridiculous.


Entitlement is a slippery slope that no one can stand on without looking like an idiot. Like the quotation says, "He was born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple."

After all when did I choose to be born in America?
How hard to I work to be part of a middle-class, white family?
When did I choose to be a heterosexual?

When I began considering whom I'm "above," I realized I have a lot of work to do. There are many people who have not been granted a voice, but they deserve one, and I want to be a vehicle for that change.

I cannot change the world.
I can change my world.









Vulnerability

If you have enjoyed anything on this blog about living an authentic life and finding peace, you WILL enjoy these videos.

Take the time. If you regret this decision, I'll re-gift you the ten minutes you lost. But I highly doubt that will happen.

The Power of Vulnerability



The Price of Invulnerability

Friday, April 29, 2011

Measuring Stick

How do we measure a person's spirituality?

What comprises a legitimate relationship with God?

How do you know if someone is truly religious?

These are such loaded terms and ones I do my best to avoid. Measuring spirituality? That just seems wrong. Weird. Foreign. Impossible. Yet, it happens. We try. We fail. Yet, we keep trying.

Today I had a conversation with a friend. He told me in quite simple and straight-forward terms that if I want to do something with/for Union I need to be an Adventist. Carrying the name of an Adventist institutions has certain requirements. Number one, the person should be Adventist. Number two, the person should adhere to the practices and doctrines of Adventism.

Union is not unique. We do this with most everything and it makes sense. If you're going to ask that feminists support you, you should be a feminist. If you're going to be funded by Democrats, you sure better be a Democrat and advocate for their beliefs.

So the obvious question stands: Am I an Adventist? Am I even a Christian?

Since returning from Cambodia, I've said "no."

I've not said "no" because I am angry with Adventism or I am angry with Jesus. I just don't understand Adventism or Jesus at this point in my life. Taking off the labels was liberating. Freeing. I have so much to learn. I want to research it, learn about it, hold it in my hands, touch it, throw it against a wall, taste it, experience it.

By definition, a Seventh-day Adventist is "a member of a Protestant sect that preaches the imminent return of Christ to Earth (originally expecting the Second Coming in 1844) and observes Saturday as the sabbath."

By definition, a Christian is "a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings."

Do I believe in the imminent return of Christ to earth?
What exactly does "observing" the Sabbath mean?
Do I believe in Jesus Christ?

I'm mostly a cultural Adventist and a cultural Christian. I don't have to try to act or look like an Adventist Christian. I take a Sabbath. I take care of my body. I serve others. I'm intentional with how I treat people. I speak the lingo. I know the vocabulary.

Could someone be a Christian and not even know it?
Could someone be an Adventist and not even know it?

Does it matter?

I'm still weighing out the questions and the even heavier answers. I'm know I am vocalizing what a lot of people feel. I know because they've told me. We all have questions and doubts. None of us knows the end from the beginning.

I don't like feeling that if I just took the darn title so many people would be happier. They could relax and not be so visibly uncomfortable around me when I tell them I'm not really Adventist and they assume it's because I'm lost or falling or at-risk.

Even though nothing about me, my routine, or my beliefs would really change.

Just the title.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ripple-less

Was it extra sleep?
Was it fresh-cut pineapple?
Was it a sun shiny day?
Was it the time of year?

What brought on this hopeful feeling?

That fragile feeling.

Like a tender, glass figurine that sits in Grandma's cabinet.
Like a purple pansy, it's delicate petals, and the explosion of yellow bursting from it's center.
Like a leaf of pinked tissue paper.
Like a smooth, ripple-less pond, undisturbed by wind or creature.
Fragile.

It can't be tamed.
It can't be bought or sold.
It often can't be named.

Like today.
And many other days.
When it seems that this "feeling," this sensation, this hope comes too infrequently and yet at all the right times.

Like today.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God is Not a White Man

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Lovely"

I'm pretty much positive Sara Haze has been reading my blog...

George Washington

She doesn't feel like eating today.

I know this feeling.
I'm not healed. I'm healing.
In all truth, I don't think whole, complete healing ever comes in this life.
The globe spins too unpredictably for absolutes.

Last night's food left me nauseated, as most every meal does these days.
Too much? Too little? Was it gluten? Is it my recovering intestines?
This morning left her wanting to get through the day being fed intravenously.
That would make life so much easier.
Though then she'd probably find another way to seek comfort and control of this unpredictable life.

The treadmills at one of my gyms faces mirrors. Why? Couldn't tell ya. So she spent 3 miles this morning watching her thighs jiggle and remembering the exact moment she began to hate them. I was no more than 11 years-old and read in a magazine that to have legs like a model, I should be able to fit a quarter between my upper thighs (and not the skinny way), the way you can see George Washington looking out between your legs.

I know this isn't realistic and yet this is the bar (or coin) I've used to judge my body for so long, I'm not sure what else to use. This is based on the assumption that judging my body to "perfect" standards is actually necessary.

She picked me apart in the shower: "You're gross."
She critiqued my skin and my hair in the mirror: "What are you fourteen?"
She tore into my abilities, my character, my lack of this, and my fat that.
She attacked my will power, my strength, my courage, my ability to really see the soul inside.

Just yesterday, I talked to a friend about acceptance. About longing for contentment. Wholeness.

"A wish is a desire without energy." -Paramanhansa Yogananda
I'm not sure I've been putting forth the energy.

Last week, I observed at School B (as I have all semester) in a special education classroom. MacKenzie (my favorite student...sshhh) rolled into the classroom in her motorized wheelchair that she steers using her head. She saw me, rolled her head left and right, and smiled. She began spelling out her words to me pointing one-by-one to the letters on her table. I began interpreting.

She pointed to A and I said: "A?"
"R?"
"E?"
"A. R. E. Are!"
She continued forming the words, "U"
"R"
"E"
"W, oh wait no, A!"
"D"
"Y"
So far we had: "Are you ready..." and after several minutes she finished with "...for me to kick your butt?"

We've had an UNO competition running for a few weeks and she melts my heart every time she wins. Even if I let her.

I can guarantee you that MacKenzie's opinion of me is pretty simple: She's fun. I like her. Her standards are so reasonable, so loose. She just wants a friend. A hand. A smile. It doesn't make much to impress her. She only wants my love. Which I give freely because she deserves it.

I deserve it too. Maybe more time with MacKenzie will help me remember that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pupil

Tonight, my friend Kylie and I attended an interfaith discussion at one of my favorite local bookstores.

Bilal, a Muslim man spoke about his Islam beliefs.
Brian, a 30ish man, gave a brief summary of his secular humanist ideas.
Fritz, a stuffy-looking sweater-vested man talked about Unitarianism.
Rabbi Michael, a Jew originally from Amsterdam, described his walk in Judaism.
And Dan, a dairy farmer, gave a brief description of the values of Zen Buddhism.

I could write a lovely essay about what each man said and what I thought about it. However, I think that what most impressed me about my 2 hours there was my excitement that these conversations are taking place. Yeah, that's probably quite simplistic compared to all the notes I furiously wrote in response to their ideas, but, really, among academia and term papers, what I've really been craving is a deep, intellectual discussion. Particularly one about faith.

Their dialogue and their integrative beliefs were relevant and explored and well-traveled. Which I'll admit was a surprise. I made some judgments from the beginning: they were older and one man had eyebrow hair longer than a hamster's. I expected a younger group. I expected that young people would be more interested in dialogue about various faiths than would older people. I expected that the older people would act like the stereotypical elderly Adventist who appears on 3ABN. I was wrong. Gladly.

What I most appreciated about this interfaith gathering was the assumed level of respect for all faiths or beliefs. The atheist in the back row heard the Muslim in the front row. The humanist valued the Buddhist. The Jew need not prove anything to the Unitarian. I've grown up with the assumption that "we" had the truth, the right way, and everyone else was lost. I've always been well-aware of what I needed to do to be "good" or "saved." But if you were to ask me what I believed and why, I couldn't tell you.

Tonight, for one of the few times in my short life, I felt like a pupil sitting at the foot of these wise older-adults during a discussion about spirituality. Usually, around such a topic, I would rather avoid it because it turns into an argument about "my" generation and "your" generation. But this room of people would have none of it.

See faith is always on the table. Ya know, faith? The complete trust or confidence in someone or something? It's like a regular knock on the door. Sometimes I try to pretend like I don't hear it or don't feel the desire to open the door, but when I do, I'm reminded that I can't not hear the knocking.

When I say faith, I don't mean religion. Or church. Or Sabbath school. Or a lot of things.

When I say faith, or even better "trust," I'm talking about my own personal belief that someone or something bigger than myself plays a major role in my life and can be trusted. This used to really bug me: the fact I can't fully explain or even comprehend for myself what Spirit (or God, or the Universe, or the Force, or whatever you want to say...) is or how Spirit works. But I believe it does. Somehow.

I don't feel the need to claim a religion (I may act like or look like a Christian and that's okay with me. I was raised to take a Sabbath and give some of my money to a greater cause. I believe in those things. So I continue them.)
I don't need to evangelize to others how my way is better than theirs.
I don't need to attend church to be spiritual.
I don't need to prove my faith to anyone.
I believe that most beliefs and religions have more in common that in contrast.
I believe that religion can serve a fine purpose, however, it is not a pre-requisite or requirement for a connection with Spirit.
I believe that it's okay to say, "I don't know." Because honestly, none of us really do.
I believe that--try as we might--life operates mostly in the grays. Very few things in life are cut and dried, quick and easy.

We do the best with where we're at and surrender the rest away.
We're just doing our balanced best.
We're just showing up each day to a life that rarely makes complete sense.
We're learning how to function, how to support, how to grow, how to help each other.

And what I've found, is that fostering these qualities is almost always enough.

Snow

by Sleeping at Last



The branches have traded
Their leaves for white sleeves
All warm blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe
Scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees

Christmas lights tangle in knots annually
All families huddle closely
Betting warmth against the cold
All the bruises seem to surface
Like mud beneath the snow

So we sing carols softly
As sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We'll welcome December with tireless hope

Let our bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
And may the melody disarm us
When the cracks begin to show

Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts

The table is set
And all glasses are full
The pieces go missing
May we still feel whole
We'll build new traditions in place of the old
Cause life without revision will silence our souls

Let the bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
And may the melody surround us
When the cracks begin to show

Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts

As gentle as feathers
The snow piles high
Our world gets rewritten and retraced every time
Like fresh plates and clean slates
Our future is white
New Years resolutions are reset tonight

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Squeaky

Sometimes I don't write because I think that I don't have enough to say. The rationale is: if I can't write a short novel about it, it's probably not worth saying.

I linger on the past-tense beliefs that anything worth vocalizing must be complete and correct and purposeful. While these things are good, I often find myself full of thoughts--good thoughts--yet end up writing/saying nothing at all because the fear of its insufficient value keeps me silent.

This concept holds true to most areas of my life: if I can't do it perfectly, then I don't want to do it at all.

It's a broken concept. Much like a flat tire or a squeaky joint. It doesn't truly make sense and yet I cling to it. I cling to it as if perfection is my only saving grace and achieving it will somehow put the pieces together that have long been lost.

The problem is life isn't that easy. Words don't always flow. Thoughts don't always make sense. People are not predictable and life doesn't take orders. The myth of perfection pervades us on a societal level and a personal level. Yet we act as though perfection is truth. And likely. Or at least worth spending our lives chasing after. Eventually, we've gotta stop running.



I've heard that "good" writers--writers who make their work a craft--write every day. Just as an athlete puts in several hours of drills and cross-training, so must the writer. I want to be a writer. When I think about the "ideal" life--a life I long for--I rarely think of being an English teacher. Usually, I think about writing or speaking or creating or serving.

Last week in my interpersonal communication class, a handwriting analysis expert came to basically play fortune teller. He explained that our handwriting is a map of our subconscious mind. We don't think real hard about the curve on the cross of our Ts or the width of our Os and yet these elements can say a lot about us.

Now before you go getting all weirded out: handwriting analysis is not flawless, but it is 85-90% accurate. We're not just talking personality traits, this guy has guessed 100% correct every time a pregnant woman has come to him asking the sex of her baby. Every time. He has also had to break the news to several people that they had cancer (before their doctors even knew it).

Here's what he said about me (gratefully, no cancer):
-carries herself with poise
-very particular about details, perfectionist in most areas
-doesn't like complicated things, good at simplification
-enjoys aesthetics, concerned with appearance
-could possibly master any instrument she chose
-very generous with time, enjoys helping people
-likes the outdoors, can be quite adventurous
-has been shy, bu has gained confidence
-doesn't like to be confined/told what to do
-could be feisty at times
-good imagination, could do well at creative writing
-could be a teacher
-very high degree of intuition, knows immediately when she likes or dislikes someone
-stomach trouble from trauma and unhappiness about herself
-knee injury

Yeah. Right?

I asked him if he could tell by someone's handwriting if they have an eating disorder. In short he said, "no," but that he could tell the issues around an eating disorder. Well, I think he got me: perfectionist, concerned with appearance, gaining confidence, stomach trouble from trauma and unhappiness with self. Oy.

This is a snap shot of me. Not awesome. Not perfect. But me.

This is where I'm at. It may be different next week. Next year. Or the next minute.

I need not know the end from the beginning, the correct answers, the magic formula. I think we're all just doing our best with what we've got.
These genes.
These tendencies.
These addictions.
These values.
This culture.
This time.
These circumstances.

The Universe keeps telling me--hard as I fight it--that the single most important thing I can do is simply...keep showing up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crusty

Today I woke up and ran ten miles, which is--to my knowledge--the farthest distance I have ever run at one time.

While on the treadmill, watching TLC and OWN, "Dwight Shroot" from the TV show The Office came on and gave one of his favorite quotes on the moment:
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." -Teilhard de Chardin

That made me feel good. Because at the point the rest of my body was not feeling so good.

Today I taught high school students for an 80-minute class period that I was sure would never end, but then it did. We talked about trust and stereotypes and how we must consider context before making judgments. My teacher, Mr. Bob, watched from the back row as I sweated profusely through my sweater. I couldn't tell whether it was him or the twenty-three students.

Today I realized that it's okay if, when all is said and done and finish my degree in English education, I don't want to be a teacher. It's okay.

Today I scarfed down "lunch" while simultaneously packing my backpack, checking my e-mail, and changing clothes. This is not ideal. This is life right now. It won't last forever.

Today Jeremy was warm and accepting and understanding in spite of the fact that we may spend a grand total of 5 minutes together. He reminded me that we've gone 9 weeks (during our long distance stint) without seeing each other. Short-distance will always be better.

Today I ate pizza because I wanted to and it was good. It had gluten and cheese, but as a result of a cold laser treatment from a chiropractor, apparently I am no longer sensitive to such foods. Take that, food sensitivities!

Today I looked at a pretty, blond, skinny thing basking in the afternoon sunshine and before the evil in me could think, I reasoned: Ya know what, I'm not so bad. She's probably got insecurities too.

Today between classes, I looked in the mirror to find a large, white-headed zit staring back at me. I couldn't help it. I'm not exactly sure where it comes from, but I had to pop that thing RIGHT NOW! So I did, only to remember I had a photo shoot in an hour. Whoops.

I went to a friend's dorm room to borrow some make-up to cover my "flaws." I half-chuckled to myself when I remembered that the photo-shoot was for a friend's photography project about feminism. I would be wearing a t-shirt that said, "This is what feminism looks like."

Considering that to me, feminism is all about self-acceptance and equality for ALL people, I found it ironic that even offering to be a poster-child for such a cause didn't stop me from picking myself apart (trying to cover it up) and attempting the look of "perfection" if only for a moment, ya know, for a good cause. Couldn't grant myself grace even for a moment, could I?

Today a new "friend" asked me to meet her for coffee. She had heard me speak for a V2 about three years ago and decided I was a safe person to talk to. So we did. We talked about what hurts us. How we hurt ourselves. How we cope. How we heal. I felt a teensy bit more liberated. I hope she did too.

Today I looked at an ever-increasing, rarely-shortening list of "to-dos," took a deep breath, and told myself: It's okay if some of these assignments are late, the RSVP gets in after the fact, and you disappoint that person again. And the reason all of those things are okay is, I've wasted years of my life chasing the mirage of perfection. It hasn't gained me anything yet and probably never will. It's going to be all right.

Today I lived as if I feel adequate, competent, put-together, or peaceful. Because days will continue passing at breaking speed whether I choose to accept these things or not.

THIS is the radical self-acceptance I'm still learning day-to-day.

"Self-acceptance" has become a crusty, catch-all response to most problems our moms tried to fix with: "Put your chin up. You're perfect just the way you are." However in a culture that favors the "appearance" of perfection and standards and accomplishment and super-humanism, self-accepting people have indeed become today's radicals. Unwilling to float along with the current of self-loathing.

Acceptance is a choice I'm learning daily to make.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Push the Sun

She woke up and knew it.

She felt it like yesterday's remnants stuck in her hair, like twigs or bubble gum. That heavy feeling. That awful reality. That truth that this is what it is and there's nothing she can do about it.

Helpless.
Confused.
Hurt.
Reeling.

She wanted to knock down the door. Eliminate the wall, but the wall was comprised of emotions--profound feelings---that wouldn't respond well to aggression. So she sat.

She wanted to know the future. See a fortune teller. Push the sun a little faster through the sky. End this day. End this feeling. End this. But alas, she couldn't actually control the orbit of the sun. So she sat.

She wanted to control the situation. Manipulate it. Rewind time. Do over. Sort through the details. Right now. But control leads to resentment and that gets us no where. So she sat.

She wanted to solve this problem like any other, with: a kiss, a listening ear, a talk, a prayer, a good night's rest, time. But the Universe wouldn't have it. This one was out of her hands. So she sat.

Uncomfortably.
Antsy.
Reeling.
Mind traveling 70 miles per hour, but sitting completely still.
Short of breath.
But breathing.
Still breathing.

In and out.

"Been a Long Day"

I feel you, Rosi.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nana


I've known Nana mostly from a distance. My mom grew up and left the east coast when she married my dad. So since us kids were born and raised in Colorado, and Nana and Papa stayed put, we only saw them on a few holidays and summer vacations.

My earliest memories of Nana involve sloppy, wet kisses aimed at my mouth, the strong whiff of cocoa butter that preceded her presence, and birthday presents she found at the Community Service Center where she volunteered.

Nana was born and raised in Brazil. It was here that after her parent's died, she was basically abandoned by her older siblings, and taken in by an American Adventist missionary family. They sent her to school in the States and she became a nurse. Nana married Papa, they had two daughters.

She's always been a feisty Brazilian, that Nana. What I remember more than sloppy kisses, were critical comments and statements about mom and us kids. Maybe it's cultural. Maybe it's just Nana. She's tough.

Nana battled breast cancer and won. Papa battled Parkinson's and lost. After sixty years of marriage, understandably, his absence has been painful for her.

Nana moved in with my parents in December. Understandably, this has been painful for them. Nana's getting older and needier, she's quiet and reasonably depressed. Where before I sat on edge awaiting a critical, but passive-aggressive, comment from her lips about my weight, my breasts, or my diet, now she just asks, "What did I eat for lunch?"

Alzheimer's has got her good. She gets frustrated because she just can't remember very much. She gets sad because she lost the love of her life. She gets lonely because many of her friends are dead.

A few weeks ago, Nana and my parents came to visit us. The weekend was spent enjoying good food, relaxing conversations, and family stories we never get tired of re-telling. As they were packing up to head home, Nana reached for my waist in an embrace and pulled back to look at me: "You look heavier than I've seen you before..." the room became tense, there was a collective holding of breath. Nana' s known for such remarks. However this time she said, "...and you look wonderful."

She's never said that before. She's never finished a comment with, "...and you look wonderful."

One-by-one, Mom, Dad, Ashley, and Jeremy all approached me to say, "Are you okay?"

This would've been harder to swallow three years ago, nonetheless, eight years ago, a sensitive teenager with a keen awareness of her body. But the difference is, I'm no longer sixteen. And Nana's no longer fully here.

She might've meant the harsh words several years ago, but now, she's become softer. Quieter. Tamer. And while we all still hold our breath when she begins a sentence about someone's appearance or race or religious beliefs, most of the time it ends up fine.

Forgiveness is hard.

Nana's a different person now, but I still want payback. It's hard not to judge her on what she's been. It's hard not to assume she's just being difficult when she can't remember for the 4th time this week how to use the microwave (even though there's a Post-It note on the door telling her).

People are not people holistically, chronologically, consistently. We're more like pudding or hummingbirds or something else flitty, unpredictable, and moveable.

Nana's a different Nana.
I'm a different me.

And we keep moving forward.