Kenya Travel

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.

I don’t like Harry Potter.  I don’t think Harry Potter is “okay.”  I don’t really like Harry Potter.  I don’t even love Harry Potter.  I really really really really adore the Harry Potter book series, the Harry Potter movies, Mugglenet, Pottermore, Harry Potter scholarly articles, Harry Potter critical essay books, Harry Potter podcasts, and the entire fandom, family, and culture of and surrounding Harry Potter.  I have a Deathly Hallows symbol sticker on my car and I even have three Harry Potter tattoos.  I have a Gryffindor scarf, a Hogwarts shirt, a Marauder’s Map coffee mug, a beautiful glass Hogwarts Crest mug, and all of this stuff:

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My personal copies of the book series aren’t even in this picture.  Those are safe in storage since I thought we would be moving and several of them are first print books.  The Tales of Beedle the Bard is at my best friend’s house and it would be difficult to show you my audiobooks, my ebooks, my copies of many of the movie soundtracks, my wizard wrock albums, or my Harry Potter podcasts since all of that is digital.  The light switch cover in my room is the quote that this post is titled after.

I am not and refuse to be ashamed of any of this.  Over the past thirteen years, there have been many people who wanted to tease me for my intense passion surrounding all things Harry Potter.  Just this week, an employee at Toys R Us was making jabs at me.  I wanted to know where the Harry Potter toys were and was told that they don’t have any and that the truck had just come in that day, so they must not carry them.  My response to this was to ask for the number to contact customer service.  The woman on the other end of that call seemed to think that I was being absolutely absurd by asking that she alert corporate to the absence of Harry Potter merchandise in my local store.  Excuse me, Toys R Us.  I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Harry Potter is the highest grossing film series of all time.  OF ALL TIME.  How could you not carry any of the Harry Potter toys, action figures, or costumes?  What is wrong with you people?!

Anyway, back to what I was saying before… I refuse to be embarrassed or ashamed of my love for a literary series and related material that has shaped the person who I am today, impacted the way I view the world, and taught me so much about life, the world, society, oppression, and strong female role models.  I have decided that I am going to reread the entire series and make note of quotes that are significant to me or taught me important life lessons. I am then going to turn that into a blog and hope to do research on Harry Potter in relation to the moral development of adolescents in the future.

Check out these amazing websites and posts about things others learned from the Harry Potter series:

http://meghanfrick.com/2011/11/20/ten-simple-things-the-harry-potter-series-taught-me/

http://pinterest.com/pin/83949980524022465/

http://whitemudfounder.livejournal.com/172488.html

http://prawnandquartered.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/8-things-harry-potter-taught-me-about-good-writing/

http://pinterest.com/pin/161355599119523612/

http://pinterest.com/pin/250653535480371105/

http://pinterest.com/pin/85638830384262205/

That’s all for now.

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Kenya Travel

Beliefs

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

-Amendment IX to the Constitution of the United States of America

It has taken me 23 very long years to realize that I will never ever ever be able to make everyone happy and that it isn’t my responsibility to attempt to.

  • I believe in love.
  • I believe in tolerance.
  • I believe in acceptance.
  • I believe in compassion.
  • I believe in equality.
  • I believe in the power of choice.
  • I believe that the way a person treats their inferiors or people who are different from them says far more about them than the way they treat their friends or equals.
  • I believe that it’s important to really live instead of just existing.
  • I believe that oppression, racism, and hatred are wrong.
  • I believe in forgiveness.
  • I believe in redemption.
  • I believe that silence in the face of injustice is the same as compliance.
  • I believe diversity is beautiful.
  • I believe that I have a right to my beliefs.
  • I believe that no one’s beliefs should ever infringe upon the rights of others.
  • I believe that women are competent and capable of making their own decisions about their bodies.
  • I believe that consenting adults should be allowed to marry each other.
  • I believe that dogs are better than cats.
  • I believe that the Harry Potter series shaped who I am today.
  • I believe that Amendment One is a disgrace.
  • I believe that marriage equality is much less of a threat to traditional marriage than Britney Spears, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh are.
  • I believe in fairness.
  • I believe in kindness.
  • I believe in hope.
  • I believe that you can agree with none, some, or all of these beliefs and we can still be friends.  

Random Life Things

Rambling

 

I don’t even know where to start today, but I feel like I should be writing.  Tomorrow night marks 4 weeks exactly since we took Missy to the emergency vet.  Monday marks 4 weeks from when we found out about her tumor and were told that we should put her to sleep the next day.  The day before yesterday, she caught and killed a mole.  She was very very proud.  Later that day, she sprinted across the yard as fast as she can.  Today, we went outside and she sniffed around  a lot.  She felt good enough to jump up on her hind legs for a treat and she has smiled a lot today.

If we had listened to the specialist in Greenville, we would have missed out on an entire month with our baby girl.  An entire good, happy month which she has felt good for most of.  Dr. Brandon Adley at Upstate Veterinary Specialists in Greenville, SC told us that we should give Missy prednisone to keep her comfortable through the night and advised us to end her suffering the next morning.  I can never ever thank Dr. Hutsell of Fairview Animal Hospital enough for calling my home after he saw that we had made an appointment to put Missy to sleep the next day.  He told my mom that there was no reason to rush things and that we should try giving her honey every two hours to regulate her blood sugar.  It has worked quite well so far and she seems to be in pretty good shape.

My grandmother, on the other hand, seems to be deteriorating.  Since I’m not there with her, I can’t say that for sure, but her voice sounds very weak and there are noticeable changes to her personality.  I hope that I get to go see her soon and I also hope that radiation and chemotherapy pills are effective in shrinking her tumor.

I went on a hike with some friends last weekend and one of them said that she would want to be with me if she got lost in the woods.  This was largely due to the fact that I carried enough supplies in my backpack for our day hike to keep us doing pretty well if we got stuck in DuPonte Forest overnight.  She said that in addition to my preparedness, I offer comic relief.  I hadn’t really thought about it until the past few months, but I definitely use humor to diffuse tense or uncomfortable situations, even if the situation is only uncomfortable to me.  This results in me being a smart ass and often not seeming as respectful as I intend to be.

 

I am exhausted.  I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  Trying to deal with everything all at once is incredibly overwhelming, so I’m trying really hard to keep myself busy and only think about one issue at a time.

 

That’s all for tonight.

Kenya Travel

Why I Want YOU to Donate Money for My Kenya Trip

Greetings friends, family, and strangers!

If you have read my other posts, you know that I will be living and volunteering at an orphanage near Makuyu Village in Kenya for two weeks this summer.  I have found ways to pay for my trip, but I would really like to buy the children supplies that they need upon my arrival.  I was told that I should shop for some things ahead of time so that I can use them in lessons I teach as soon as I get there, but that I should mostly try to raise cash donations and purchase materials in a nearby village because it would stimulate the local economy, I can get more items for my money there in Kenya, and it is extremely expensive to pay to check extra bags.

I have been able to pay for my own experience as a volunteer, but I need your help to buy things that the children need.  Some of the supplies that the children need most include:

  • Sanitary pads for community girls & bras/underwear for girls size 10-12. 
  • Children vitamins 
  •  group games, puzzles, arts and craft items to make projects…like tie dye. 
  • Basic children’s reading books/ used novels for eager students – these can be bought locally. 
  • Notebooks, pencils, other school supplies
  • Shoes, backpacks, clothes, and food

Here in America, we have so much.  We have so much more than we could ever want or need.  At Watoto Wa Baraka, the orphanage where I will be volunteering, the children often don’t even have what they need.  Please sacrifice something you want but don’t need to help these children.  Even if you just sacrifice the pack of gum you wanted to buy and donate $2, that will help!  Please help me positively impact the lives of these children.

 

Here are some ways you could raise money to donate:

  • Instead of buying an extra pair of shoes you don’t need, donate the money to put shoes on a child who doesn’t have any good shoes.
  • Instead of buying another $5 DVD from Walmart, donate that money to buy school supplies.
  • Instead of going out to eat, skip ONE meal out and donate that money to buy food and supplies.
  • Instead of buying lunch at work or school, pack your lunch and donate the money you would have spent.
  • Instead of buying a new book, buy it used at your local used bookstore or get it at the library for free and donate the money you would have spent on the book.
  • Instead of getting dessert when you go out to eat, donate that money instead.

I truly appreciate any and all donations that are made.  Please contact me at cdcottam1@gmail.com if you would like more information.  To donate, follow the link below:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/cdc

Random Life Things

Mothers’ Day

I am not particularly fond of the term “blessed,”  but “fortunate” or “thankful for” aren’t strong enough to describe how I feel about having the family that I have.  It is a privilege and honor to have such an amazing big brother that I can talk to about almost anything and parents that have taught me so much and given me so many gifts.  I am blessed to have two amazing parents who love me and have done everything they can to ensure that I have a good life and make good choices.  My parents are kind, generous, loving, intelligent people who have tried to let me and my brother learn from our mistakes while teaching us lessons about right and wrong along the way.

 

My father is a good, intelligent, kind man, but I will elaborate about that more later (Probably in June when his day comes :)).

 

My mother is the strongest woman I know.  She has more faith than anybody I have ever met.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer and came out the other side more or less unscathed like the fighter that she is.  She has taught me so much more than she could ever possibly realize.  Her laugh is one of my favorite sounds on this earth and my aspiration is to one day be half the woman and mother she is.  I honestly don’t know how she has done it all of these years.  I don’t think she would have been able to without her faith and my father.  When I was little, she would wake up while it was still dark outside to start getting ready to take my brother and I to school.  If it was cold in the morning, she would make us peanut butter toast and hot chocolate.  Once she finally got us to school for the day, she would spend her days volunteering at the schools, cleaning up after us, doing our dishes, doing our laundry, and otherwise contributing to the safe and secure life that we had.

 

I know I have not always made the choices that she wanted me to make.  I know I haven’t always done things the way she would have done them.  I also know that this doesn’t make me a disappointment to her at all.  My mom loves me no matter what.  Even when I decide to go on a trip she’s uncomfortable with and then randomly get a new tattoo.  Even when I date a guy she doesn’t like or act in a way that she isn’t proud of.  Even and maybe even especially when I’m not being the very best person I can be.  When something happens, significant or insignificant, my mom is the person I want to talk to.  She is strong, rational, and able and willing to help me process things out loud.  She is kind, forgiving, generous, loving, compassionate, and genuinely wants to help the people she loves, no matter the emotional or physical tax on herself that comes as a result.  When I was going through serious depression my freshmen year of college, I was on the phone with my mom all the time.  She is loving, encouraging, and confident.  She is amazing.

 

Dear Mom,

I can never thank you enough for all you have done for me.  You and Dad have made me the strong, independent, intelligent young woman that I am today.  Thank you for understanding that I never meant a harsh word I said during my teenagers years.  Thank you for sticking through that tough patch when I knew everything and everything that came out of your mouth was a “lecture.”  You are amazing, beautiful, kind, intelligent, resilient, capable, a fighter, a volunteer, a survivor, a wife, a woman, a daughter, a niece, an aunt, a friend, a sister, and the absolute best mom that I could ever dream to have.  Thank you for reading to me, feeding me, clothing me, picking up after me, and holding me when all I really needed was a shoulder to sob on.  Thank you for reminding me of how special I am when I feel depressed and can’t find anything to like about myself.  Thank you for encouraging me to be my own person and to be a good, kind, helpful person.  Thank you for choosing the Harry Potter books to give to me for Christmas that year.  Thank you for sharing Harry Potter with me, for letting me make my own mistakes, and for always loving me no matter what.  I know you are proud of me, but it is equally important for you to know that I am proud of you.  I am proud to call you my mom, my rock, and my friend.  I hate that we can’t be together this mothers’ day, but I am so happy that you get to be with your mother.  I love you so so so much and I can never tell you enough how blessed I feel to have you in my life as my mother.

 

Love,

Catherine

 

Random Life Things

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today was exactly what I needed.  I woke up early and got to spend some time with my dog and talking to my dad about my hiking plans.  Then I got to go see three completely beautiful waterfalls and spend time out of my house and outdoors with three amazing friends who are funny, compassionate, and accepting.  Most of us even got to go under a waterfall!  My Daddy smoked a DELICIOUS Boston butt and we had amazing BBQ for dinner.  My best friend came over for dinner and brought an awesome friend with her who I am so happy I have had the opportunity to meet.  We went back to Rachael’s house and sat around talking for hours.  My day has been peaceful, drama free, and oh so relaxing.  It was exactly the type of day I needed to rejuvenate and recharge.  It was almost perfect.  The only things that would have made it better would have been if I had spent more time with my dad, seen my mom, and seen my brother.

 

Today was an excellent day.

Adventure

Why I Will Never Feel Ashamed of My Passion for Harry Potter

Harry Potter has always been there for me.  Many people don’t understand my intense love for Harry Potter, but the truth is that Harry has been there for me when everything else has sucked.  In times when I have suffered from crippling depression and felt like I would never ever be happy again, the world of HP gave me an escape from my own life into something magical and beautiful.  In times where I felt anxious, sad, or angry, Harry Potter was an outlet for my negative emotions.  I grew up with the Harry Potter books, setting, and characters.  I grew up learning that “pure blood” often means greedy and jealous while “mudblood,”  the most insulting thing you could call a witch or wizard, often means intelligent and skilled.  I now relate almost everything I see or hear to Harry Potter.  The recent Amendment One atrocity out of North Carolina?  That reminded me of Professor Umbridge’s idea that “progress for progress’s sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering.”  The impending losses that I am trying to prepare myself to experience?  Well, after all, “to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”  I also find the idea “the ones we love never truly leave us” very comforting.

Harry Potter taught me about love, friendship, courage, death, oppression, and to never judge something or someone by appearance alone.  It taught me that people often aren’t what they seem, that it is important to be present and truly live your life, and that death is just another part of life.  It taught me that prejudice is not okay but that it can be hard to change institutionalized oppression and racism.  It taught me that girls can be powerful too, that we should all be thankful for every moment we have with the people we love, and that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

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This picture is of my brand new Harry Potter Tattoo that is based off of the Deathly Hallows symbol. Instead of a triangle for the Invisibility Cloak, I used Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s wands. Hermione’s wand forms the base because she is really what holds the group together.  Ron and Harry would be lost without her.  To me, this symbolizes the importance of friendship. Instead of a circle for the Resurrection Stone, I used a heart, which symbolizes the immense power and meaning of love. Instead of a line for the Elder Wand, I used a lightning bolt to symbolize courage.   I chose to have it located where it is so that I can see it every day and be reminded of the wonderful lessons I’ve learned and the great childhood I had the privilege of experiencing.  This tattoo is not for anyone but me, so I chose to have it oriented to where it would be right side up for me but upside down to most people looking at it.

I adore this tattoo.  I adore everything about the HP universe.  Thank you, Jo, for the amazing gift that you have given to me and so many others.