Random Life Things

Self-Rescuing Princess

A friend of mine told me about a short story he was working on and it immediately made me think of the song “Little Me” by Little Mix.  If you don’t have the time to watch the video, here are the lyrics:

She lives in the shadow of a lonely girl
Voice so quiet you don’t hear a word
Always talking but she can’t be heard
You can see her there if you catch her eye

I know she’s brave but it’s trapped inside
Scared to talk but she don’t know why

Wish I knew back then
What I know now
Wish I could somehow go back in time
And maybe listen to my own advice

I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
(Little me)

Yeah you got a lot of time to act your age
You can’t write a book from a single page
Hands on the clock only turn one way, yeah yeah yeah
Run too fast and you risk it all
Can’t be afraid to take a fall
Felt so big but you look so small

Wish I knew back then
What I know now
Wish I could somehow go back in time
And maybe listen to my own advice

I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
(Oh, little me)

(Little me yeah)
Tell you one thing I would say to her

I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be
I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
You gotta speak up, you got to shout out
And you know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful
Anything you want to be

Yeah, little me

As I was trying to decide what to write about today, I was listening to Little Mix and remembered the conversation about my friend’s short story.  I decided that I would write something to Little Me:

People will try to make you feel small.  Don’t let them.
People will try to make you feel like you take up too much space, like you use too many words, like your feelings don’t matter as much as theirs.  This is bullshit.  You are no more or less important than anyone else.  Your thoughts and feelings and opinions and dreams matter just as much as the next person’s.

He will use words dripping in honey to make you stay in what became toxic a long time ago.  He will make you feel stupid, insecure, and crazy.  Leave the second you don’t feel happy anymore.  Leave before he cheats.  Leave before he gaslights you.  Leave before you let him ruin your self-esteem with cruel words and lies.  If you don’t, it will take years to recover, but you will- in fact- recover.

People will tell you you’re a good writer.  Believe them, even on days when you’re struggling to come up with what to put on the page.  Believe them, even when you feel like you aren’t producing your best work.  You probably won’t believe this, but you will have bylines one day in a local women’s magazine.  You will write blog posts for important organizations.  You will write blog posts of your own that will help other people.  Ed Sheeran says that writing songs is like turning on a tap in an old house and I think the same goes for writing other things as well.  When you first turn on the tap, the water may be brown and gross and undrinkable, but the clear cool water will come with time.  The first things you write will not be the best, but better things will come to you.

You’re going to feel like you want to die from time to time.  The feeling will pass.  I promise.  Sometimes it takes longer than others, but you always end up happy to still be alive when the dark cloud finally moves.

One day you will read the words:
“darling, you are worthy.”
“darling, you are worthy.”
“darling, you are worthy.”
“darling, you are worthy.”

in a book by Amanda Lovelace.  You think you hate poetry, but you don’t, you secretly love it.  It awakens a fire within you that you didn’t know was there.  When you read these words, you will finally believe them.  You will be 29 years old.

It will take time, but you won’t hate yourself or your body forever.  You’ll come to a place where you start to accept and love every flaw and imperfection.  You will use this to set a good example for young people around you by not constantly critiquing yourself in front of them.

Your parents will tell you to absolutely NOT get the dog.  They will say no.  They will say you can’t.  They will give you a million reasons why not to get the dog.  Get the dog anyway.  She becomes so much more than a pet.  Best. Manic. Purchase. EVER.

It’s ok to need help and it’s ok to ask for help.  You learned this already, back in 7th grade, when you reached out and Beth got you the help you needed, but sometimes you will forget.  Sometimes you will feel unworthy of help and like your problems do not matter.  That is your brain being mean and isn’t reality.

Your dream job isn’t going to work out the way you want or expect it to, but it will work out the way it needs to.  It will feel like the end of the world, but I swear you will make new dreams.

You will make new friends and lose old friends.  You will reconnect with some people and lose others forever.  You think the end of high school is the end of everything because you’ll all be going your separate ways.  You aren’t wrong, but you aren’t completely right either because you haven’t even met your best friend yet.  The people who are meant to be in your life always find a way back into it.

You will get to travel the world with your best friend.  Oh, the places you’ll go!  You’ll put your toes in oceans across the world and eat ALL of the soft serve ice cream together.  You’ll see historical places and witness history being made.  You’ll march for what you believe in in Washington, D.C. and in Asheville and you’ll also spend hours in sweatpants or yoga pants just watching tv together.  You will have tea at the Ritz in London and at the Plaza in New York.  You’ll eat breakfast at Tiffany’s and have freshly squeezed juice at a market in London and eat ice cream at Edinburgh Castle.  You’ll see plays on the West End and on Broadway.  You’ll witness each other’s heartbreaks and healings and will be so much better for it.

One of your idols will die and the world will feel smaller and darker for a long time.  You’ll re-read all of her memoirs and eventually read her novels.  You didn’t get into Star Wars until college, but Carrie Fisher will have an impact on your life forever.

You’ll feel like giving up a million times, but you will always hold on to a spark of hope or find someone to hold the hope for you until you can find it again.

You are brave and strong and fierce and beautiful and intelligent and worthy and anyone who tells you or makes you feel otherwise is a liar.

You’ll be single for longer than you thought possible, but during that time you will learn to love yourself and you’ll heal from the ways you’ve been hurt in the past.

You will keep going, even when you feel like giving up.

You will learn better and will then do better.  You will become a person that you can be proud of.

You will forget all of your accomplishments during your dark moments, so make a list of them and read it when necessary.

You are not a failure.

You are not a waste of space.

You are an activist, an advocate, a writer, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, a granddaughter, and so much more.

You are worthy.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are a self-rescuing princess.

Random Life Things

Highlights From The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

Not everyone has time to read through a 138 page document produced by The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, but fortunately/unfortunately, I do.  The Commission gave 56 recommendations for what to do to help with the crisis, but the President just can’t seem to get a grip on any of them.  Instead of listening to his own Commission, he has decided to focus on enforcing opioid laws instead of providing opioid treatment.  Here’s a rundown of what the commission had to say.

Roster of Commissioners

Governor Chris Christie, Chairman
Governor Charlie Baker
Governor Roy Cooper
Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy
Professor Bertha Madras, Ph.D.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Introductory Letter

“Our people are dying.  More than 175 lives lost every day.  If a terrorist organization was killing 175 Americans a day on American soil, what would we do to stop them?  We would do anything and everything.  We must do the same to stop the dying caused from within.”

“Without comprehensive action, including your national public health emergency, the death count will continue to rise.”

“It is time we all say what we know is true: addiction is a disease.  However, we do not treat addiction in this country like we treat other diseases.  Neither government nor the private sector has committed the support necessary for research, prevention, and treatment like we do for other diseases.”

“The recommendations herein, and the interim recommendations submitted by the Commission in July, are designed to address this national priority.  These recommendations will help doctors, addiction treatment providers, parents, schools, patients, faith-based leaders, law enforcement, insurers, the medical industry, and researchers fight opioid abuse and misuse by reducing federal barriers and increasing support to effective programs and innovation.”

“We recommended that all law enforcement officers across the country be equipped with life saving naloxone.”

“We recommended full enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to ensure that health plans cannot provide less favorable benefits for mental health and substance use diagnoses than physical health ailments.”

“Today, only 10.6% of youth and adults who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive that treatment.  This is unacceptable.  Too many people who could be helped are falling through the cracks and losing their lives as a result.”

“One of the most important recommendations…is getting federal funding support more quickly and effectively to state governments, who are on the front lines of fighting this addiction battle every day.  Bureaucracy, departmental silos, and red tape must not be accepted as the norm when dealing with funding to combat this epidemic.  Saving time and resources, in this instance, will literally save lives.”

“Accordingly, we are urging Congress and the Administration to block grant federal funding for opioid-related and SUD-related activities to the states. . This was a request to the Commission by nearly every Governor, regardless of party, across the country.

“The Commission also identifies the need to focus on, deploy, and assess evidence-based programs that can be funded through these proposed block grants.”

“From its review of the federal budget aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, the Commission identified a disturbing trend in federal health care reimbursement policies that incentivizes the wide-spread prescribing of opioids and limits access to other non-addictive treatments for pain, as well as addiction treatment and medication-assisted treatment.”

“The Department of Labor must be given the real authority to regulate the health insurance industry.  The health insurers are not following the federal law requiring parity in the reimbursement for mental health and addiction.  They must be held responsible.”

“We are recommending that a drug court be established in every one of the 93 federal district courts in America.  It is working in our states and can work in our federal system to help treat those who need it and lower the federal prison population.  For many people, being arrested and sent to a drug court is what saved their lives, allowed them to get treatment, and gave them a second chance.”

“Drug Courts are known to be significantly more effective than incarceration, but 44% of U.S. Counties do not have an adult drug court.”

“The Commission recommends enhanced penalties for trafficking of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and calls for additional technologies and drug detections to expand efforts to intercept fentanyl before entering the country.”

“The time to wait is over.  The time for talk is passed. 175 deaths a day can no longer be tolerated.  We know that you will not stand by; we believe you will force action.”

What This Administration Has Already Done:

  • Announced the launch of a new policy to overcome a rule that prevents states from providing more access to care at treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.
  • Directed all federally employed prescribers to receive special training to fight this epidemic.
  • The DOJ has continued its efforts to stop the flow of illicit synthetic drugs into this country through the U.S. Postal Service
  • NIH DIrector Dr. Francis COllins has been partnering with pharmaceutical companies to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose.  THe Commission worked with Dr. Collins to convene a meeting with industry leadership to discuss innovative ways to combat the opioid crisis.

 

 

Random Life Things

Privilege

If you identify as white and you are reading this, chances are it’s going to make you a little uncomfortable.  But discomfort isn’t always a bad thing.  Discomfort can be a place where learning and enlightenment happen.  It has been for me in the past and continues to be for me in the present.  Anyways, today I want to talk about white privilege.

Yesterday, I posted a graphic on Facebook.  It said:

dear white people

It got a few likes, but what really stood out was the person I have known for over eighteen years commenting on it and claiming that white privilege isn’t real but that people are racist against this person all the time for being white.  I tried to be patient.  I tried to be kind.  I tried to explain that white privilege doesn’t make you a bad person or mean that you don’t have difficulties or that no one is prejudiced against you, it just means that you started your life (and live your life) with several advantages over people of color.

I tried to explain that reverse racism isn’t real because we, as white people, have not been oppressed on an institutional level for hundreds and hundreds of years.  We have not been enslaved in the millions because of our skin color.  We didn’t have to suffer through the indignities of Jim Crow.  We haven’t been lynched because of our skin color in the thousands (though some white people have been lynched for siding with and helping people of color).  We are statistically less likely to be incarcerated.  We have representation in all forms of media that look like us.  It’s easy to go into a store and find a barbie or doll that looks like us.  Most of our favorite tv shows and movies have main characters that look just like us.  The vast vast majority of “heroes” are white.  We get to learn about many many people of our own race in school.

Our parents don’t have to give us “the talk” about police safety because we are less likely to be shot and killed by police officers.  According to Vox, “An analysis of the available FBI data by Vox’s Dara Lind found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population. Although the data is incomplete because it’s based on voluntary reports from police agencies around the country, it highlights the vast disparities in how police use force.”

Someone may have biases or prejudices against you because you are white, but that is not racism.  (Please see video #2 if you are having a hard time with this concept).  I tried to put it in simple terms that could be easily understood, but this person continued to argue with me, at which point I ran out of spoons and had to end the conversation.  I just didn’t have the energy to continue at that time.  I unfriended the person for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that we aren’t that close to begin with and I really have no desire to be friends with someone who won’t even entertain the idea that white privilege exists even though it has been explained and pointed out to them.  I wish that I hadn’t unfriended them.  I wish I had said, “this is emotionally exhausting work for me and I need to take a break and come back to it.”  But that isn’t what I did and, as a result, I had an even harder than usual time falling asleep last night, wondering if I had just been able to come up with the right sentence, if maybe I could have changed this person’s mind.

I know it’s possible, because I, too, once didn’t believe in white privilege and was very defensive the first time someone tried to explain it to me.  I know it’s hard to believe now, but I was actually in the College Republicans my freshman year at WCU and used to call Feminists “Feminazis.”  I’m not proud of the person I was, but I’m proud of the person that my college professors (Dr. Pete and Dr. Herzog), graduate school friends (Monica, Hanna, Jen, and Shyra), and graduate school professors (Lisen, Russ, Heather, Phyllis, Melody, and Valerie) helped shape me to be.  I care about others, I’m empathetic, and I understand that my ability to even type this up on a computer and post it to the internet with my name on it reeks of privilege.  I could tell you of so so many instances where white privilege has benefited me, but I find myself again running out of spoons.  Perhaps I’ll revisit this post later.  Just in case I don’t, please do me a favor and watch these three videos:

 

Random Life Things

Harassment isn’t sexy.

Something happened last week that made me really uncomfortable, but the more that I think about it, the more pissed off I get.  Last week, I received a message on Facebook from a guy I kind of-sort of know from undergrad.  He is an acquaintance at best.  Everything was fine at first, we just kind of chatted about what he’s been up to and what’s new in my life.  He sent me his cell phone number and asked me if I wanted to hang out when he got home.  In an attempt to be polite, I replied with something along the lines of “oh, I’m really busy between now and when I leave and I want to spend as much time with my family as possible.  I’ll check, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have much free time” instead of just saying “no.”  That was my mistake, but it’s often difficult for me to flat out say “no” when I’m invited to do things with men.

I pretty regularly feel like I have to apologize or make an excuse that they would find legitimate.  Saying “no thank you” or “I don’t want to” would make me a rude bitch in the eyes of many people, so I often say things like “oh, maybe….I’ll have to check my calendar” or “oh, I’m so sorry, I already have plans”.  In general terms, if I really want to hang out with someone, I’m going to make time to do so and would say something along the lines of “I can’t today, but I’m free on Saturday if you want to hang out then”.  This summer is different and a little more tricky since I do have less than 40 days left in this country and a LOT to get done in that time.  But I digress….the conversation continued via Facebook.  The specific details of it aren’t really important, but he ended up saying that he hasn’t had much alone time for the past year and telling me that there are three things he’s been without for a year and that he really needs right now.

A person that I hardly know asked me to hang out with him, then expressed to me that one of the things he needs as a result of his deployment is a woman.  I can assure you that he has no romantic or long term intentions, as he included “a woman” in a list of other things.  Perhaps I misunderstood, but the context of the rest of our conversation led me to believe that he was hopeful that I could help him with this ordeal.  Partially because he said things like “that’s what I hope to get when I get home” and “been gone for a year and rarely alone”  pretty shortly after asking me if I wanted to hang out with him.

This offended me and upset me for so many reasons I can’t count them all.  I don’t care who you are or what you have done for this country, I am not an object and am not a piece of meat that you get to order from a menu just because you’re a veteran or just because you think you need and are owed the company of a woman.  With the exception of my student loan service company and $5 I borrowed from my friend last week, I do not owe anyone anything, including but not limited to: my time, my money, my body, my belongings.

I have read on many Peace Corps South Africa blogs that many volunteers receive marriage proposals frequently.  When they say no, the men who have asked can’t seem to comprehend why the volunteer wouldn’t want to marry him and can’t seem to fathom why the answer may be “no.”  I hadn’t realized how frequently *some* men in America (and women, I’m sure) have the same attitude.  Our culture teaches women that if we do dare to say no, we better have a pretty damn good reason for doing so and we better be willing and able to give a list of how and why we came to that conclusion.  Just saying no doesn’t seem to be accepted and “no thanks” seems to be the mark of a prude or a bitch rather than an assertive individual.

I guess what I’m getting at is this- Even when this guy made me really uncomfortable, my response was to make an excuse and say I couldn’t talk anymore because I was going to go watch a movie.  The next night, he facebook messaged me again.  He said “hey” to which I responded “I wish you well and I hope your trip home is safe, but you made me very uncomfortable last night.”  End of conversation.  I should definitely work towards being better at communicating my feelings to others, but that does not give anyone the right to say things to me that make me feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Later in the same week, I responded to a different request from someone else by essentially saying “no…sorry!” and was told that I had hurt this person’s feelings.  I am allowed to say no.  It’s not ok that people often try to make me feel guilty or ashamed for telling them no.  I should not feel like I have to apologize or make excuses when I don’t want to do something.  There is a big difference between being assertive and being a bitch, but I think that many people confuse the two.

Adventure, PCV, Random Life Things

All About Me

I realize that my blog has been getting more traffic lately from people I don’t actually know. It’s probably because I’ve been posting Peace Corps things 🙂 I guess I should probably tell y’all about myself.

  • I just turned 24 on Easter
  • I have a B.S. in Psychology from the Honors College at Western Carolina University
  • I am currently a full time graduate student in internship semester working on my M.A.Ed. in School Counseling
  • I was born in Texas but moved to North Carolina the summer before third grade
  • I live with my parents in the house I grew up in
  • I have one absolutely amazing big brother
  • I have a ton of cousins, the majority of whom live in Tennessee
  • I volunteered at an orphanage in Kenya for two weeks in July 2012
  • I was the secretary of my high school’s FFA
  • I was also on staff for Army JROTC
  • I don’t speak any other languages
  • I have five tattoos, all of which can be easily covered by clothing.
  • I am a feminist
  • I am also a secular humanist, but was raised in the Catholic Church
  • I love to read
  • I graduated from A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC
  • I am passionate about sharing my love of reading
  • I enjoy knitting
  • I love Coca Cola and anything that combines chocolate with peanut butter
  • I’m the pickiest eater I know
  • I love to listen to music. Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons are what I have been listening to the most lately
  • There is nothing more beautiful to me than a clear night sky. I love to look up at the stars. It reminds me that I’m part of something bigger
  • I began my journey applying for the Peace Corps in August and I will be leaving for a teaching position in South Africa this July
  • I horseback rode regularly for a little over five years, then injured my back and have been unable to return to it
  • I have worked in a bookstore, a few summer camps, a frozen custard shop, a few offices, and in hotel housekeeping
  • I love watching the moment when a student “gets” something he or she didn’t understand before
  • I am a huge nerd/dork/whatever you want to call me 🙂
  • I love Harry Potter
  • I also love Doctor Who, Sherlock, Firefly, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, the Vampire Diaries, and Mel Brooks films

Books I enjoyed reading include but are not limited to:

  • The Harry Potter Series
  • Anything by Christopher Moore, particularly Lamb
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Books by Chelsea Handler
  • Walk Two Moons
  • The Hobbit
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Number the Stars
  • Rena’s Promise
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • The Book Thief
  • Anything by Roald Dahl
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy
  • Wildwood
  • Anything by Shel Silverstein
  • World War Z
  • The Wizard of Oz Collection
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Beloved
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Les Miserables
  • The Other Boleyn Girl
  • The Wicked Series

There are many more, but that’s all for now 🙂

Attitude of Gratitude

A Month of Gratitude

November 1: Today, I am thankful for all of the amazing people in my life who have helped me become the person I am today.

Mom: You are the strongest woman I know.  Your faith and your strength inspire me.  You taught me to never give up on what I want, my hopes, or my dreams.  Thank you for giving me life, having faith in me, always loving me, and being a great listener.

Dad: Throughout my life you have always shown me how to treat others with kindness and respect.  It seems your life mission is to help other people.  Thank you for having faith in me, always loving me, and inspiring me to make a difference in this world.

Jac: You are the best big brother anyone could ever ask for.  I am amazed at the growth I have seen you go through over the past few years.  I am so proud of you and so thankful to have you in my life.  Thank you for being a good communicator and always being the most supportive person in my life.

Rachael: You are so much stronger than you even realize.  You are an amazing mother and friend.  Your humility and dedication have shaped the person I am today.  It has been an amazing experience to watch you learn and grow.  I honestly can’t tell you how much I have learned about myself and about life from being your friend for so long.  Thank you for all of the valuable lessons you have taught me, your warmth, your love, and your undying friendship.

Falon: You can’t read this yet, but I want you to know that you make me want to be a better person.  I didn’t realize how much I could love another human being until I held you for the first time.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your life, even though you don’t really have a choice in the matter yet 😉

Holly: You are one of the kindest people I know.  I can’t tell you how much better it makes me feel every time we talk.  I know that water quality is your passion, but your empathy would make you a fantastic counselor.  You always put others’ wellbeing before your own.  Thank you for always being there for me and for showing me that it’s okay to express how I feel.

Cody: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  You are an amazing father and I am so happy for you and Laura Beth.  You helped me gain the courage to be myself and share my story with others.  You have always been there for me when I needed you and have always been honest with me.  I don’t know how to express my gratitude for all you have helped me learn.

Laura Beth: You taught me so much about growing up and becoming a responsible adult.  I’m still not quite there yet, but you have helped me learn about sacrificing for those I love.  Thank you for teaching me how to be a better person and friend.

Hanna: You are so incredibly strong and kind.  You taught me that I can share my feelings and thoughts and still be accepted, even if they are a little crazy sometimes.  Thank you for always being wonderfully supportive, understanding, and kind.

Monica: Your faith in me has been one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced.  Thank you for restoring my faith in myself and for teaching me that I am  a person worthy of love, respect, and kindness.

Shyra: You taught me that no one is perfect and that’s okay.  You have helped me to become more accepting of my flaws and appreciate the positive things about myself.  You showed me that it is okay to be a strong and open woman and that the right person will appreciate me for everything that I am.  You inspired me to go on a humanitarian mission trip that eventually led to me traveling to Kenya and applying for the Peace Corps.  Thank you for helping me learn to love myself and inspiring me to follow my dreams.

Jen: You taught me to take a deep breath, step outside of whatever is going on, and stop catastrophizing everything that happens in my life.  Thank you for helping me learn what focus is truly about, for always making yourself available to talk when I need to process something, and for helping me learn when to let go.

Joanne: You taught me how to rekindle old frienships and appreciate the growth and change others have gone through.  Thank you for letting me always be myself when I am around you.

There are many more of you who have had a positive impact on my life and the person I have become and I truly cannot express my gratitude for all of the kindness, understanding, and support you have all shown me.  I am not super thankful for the paper I have to go write that makes it impossible for me to include all of the people, but it is a part of being in graduate school, which I am very thankful for.

 

Day 2: November 2, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my amazing dad (Happy Birthday!) and my counseling program.

Today is my Daddy’s birthday!  I am so thankful that he is healthy and a huge part of my life.  I realize that I am biased, but my dad is pretty stinking amazing.  He is dedicated to helping other people, an awesome role model for me, my brother, and a whole slew of previous and current swimmers, and is learning every day about how to be more supportive of our differences and the choices I make.  I am so thankful that I was born his daughter and I hope I get to celebrate 56 more of his birthdays with him.

My counseling program can be stressful at times, but it has awarded me countless opportunities to do what I love and help make a difference in the world.  Some days I am very ready for it to be over, but this month of gratitude thing has made me realize that I should enjoy it while I’m here.

 

Day 3: November 3, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my rights and my safety.

As I get ready to go to sleep, I am thinking about the lovely children in Makuyu who are doing chores and getting ready to eat breakfast right about now. They are such bright, loving, kind young people and it makes me sad to think about how truly powerless I am to help them as a group.

In 2007, over one thousand Kenyans were killed in riots and ethnic violence following allegations of corruption in the Presidential election. In March 2013, the incumbent could go up against four individuals who have been charged with crimes against humanity for the part they allegedly played in the ethnic violence that took place in 2007. If any of the ICC Four win, Kenya could have a sitting President who will stand trial for crimes against humanity only a month after the election. If the incumbent wins, I fear more retaliation from the opposition. It breaks my heart to think that the children I grew to love so much could be in harm’s way.

It is sickening for me to think that the alleged instigators could not only get away with the crimes many believe they are guilty of, but be elected as important government officials. My experience of the Kenyan people I met was that they were kind, peaceful, and loving. It doesn’t seem that a president who condones violence, ethnic or otherwise, would be a good representative for the general population.

While emotions will run high this Tuesday, it is unlikely that widespread violence will occur regardless of the outcome of the American Presidential Election. Today, I am thankful for my safety and for the fact that I can post my political opinions online and otherwise share them with others without being fearful of being killed. I am thankful that I live in a nation where violence is not widely tolerated and I am thankful that all of my basic needs are being met. I am especially appreciative for the men and women who dedicate their lives to protect the rights of strangers such as myself.

 

Day 4: November 4, 2013

Today, I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities I have been afforded over the past year.

I am immensely thankful for my graduate program.  The course work and the people I have met have taught me more about myself and about being a counselor than I ever realized was possible.

I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be a part of Falon Kathryn Renee Lindsey’s life.  I never knew I could love another human being so much, particularly not someone I am not blood related to, until I held my best friend’s daughter in my arms for the first time.

I wasn’t handed the opportunity to travel to Kenya.  That I made happen on my own.  But I am thankful for the circumstances in my life that made that dream a reality.  If my school schedule had worked out differently or if I had had a little less money saved, I wouldn’t have been able to go.

Being nominated for Peace Corps service is literally a dream come true.  I am thankful for the opportunity to work and compete to earn a spot living my dream for 27 months.

 

Day 5: November 5, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the amazing journey I am on to become the person I am meant to be.

All of the growth and change I have experienced over the past year would not have been possible without my amazing and supportive family, the old friends who always love and support me, and the new friends I have made who are courageous enough to always be honest with me.

As a human being, I am necessarily flawed.  While there are still many qualities about myself that I would like to change, I have come an almost unreal way from where I was in my life at this time last year.  My professors, friends, peers, and family have been wonderfully loving and supporting throughout all of the changes I have experienced.

I still have so much more changing to do and I know I have a long way left to go, but it is reassuring to compare the person I am now to the person I was a year ago.

 

Day 6: November 6, 2013

Today, I am endlessly grateful for the strong women who came before me and fought for my right and the rights of all my sisters to vote!

Thank you Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and countless others who enabled me to vote in this election for education, a woman’s right to healthcare, a woman’s ability to make her own choices, equality for all, equal pay, the safety of Peace Corps volunteers, affordable healthcare, the environment, responsible and clean energy, help for the people who need it and less breaks for the people who don’t, civil rights, diversity, same-sex marriage, food safety laws, holistic views about violence, and countless other ideals.

They allowed me to vote against bigotry, chauvinism, rich white males making  healthcare decisions for women, trickle down economics, policies based on religion, restriction of the morning after pill, de-funding Planned Parenthood and PBS, elitism, fracking, denial about global warming, abstinence-only education, discrimination, and countless other ideals.

Because of the women who came before us, the women of America were able to raise their voices and vote for their rights!

 

Day 7: November 7, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my graduate school program.

Even though today was heinous and long and stressful, I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to learn and grow.

 

Day 8: November 8, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my support system.

I am grateful for the people in my life who I can turn to in times when I need support.  Their love, acceptance, and support help me to grow and learn and help me to process the things that go on in my life.

 

Day 9: November 9, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the immense courage and strength of one of my closest and dearest friends.

I am SO proud of you, Holly!

 

Day 10: November 10, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the love and support I have received from those closest to me.

I can be really hard on myself, but the people I have chosen to surround myself with lately have been amazing at lifting me up and helping me recover a lot of the self esteem I lost touch with over the past few years.  At the end of my last relationship, I was left feeling fat, ugly, worthless, needy, and unreasonable.  Though none of those exact words directly came out of his mouth, it was how I let myself be made to feel.

The people in my life now have shown me that true self-worth comes from the inside and from my ability to stop judging myself based on my assumptions about others’ perceptions.  I may not always think so, but I am pretty awesome at times.  I am compassionate, loving, caring, a good friend, dedicated, generous, funny, and beautiful.  I hope this post will be a reminder to me of that on the days that are tough.

 

Day 11: November 11, 2013

Today, I am grateful for the beautiful night sky.

There is nothing in this universe that affects me quite the same way as looking at the night sky.   Looking at the night sky offers me a fantastic perspective on being a part of something larger.

 

Day 12: November 12, 2013

Today, I am grateful for my access to healthcare.

My mom pointed out tonight that she is thankful she had the opportunity to go to the doctor today. We have this privilege as a result of two things: 1) My father working hard to get us health insurance and 2) the availability of quality healthcare in our area.

There are many places around the globe where we could not take a fifteen minute drive, arrive at the doctor’s office, be seen, and be prescribed a simple antibiotic. I am thankful for my access to physical and mental healthcare, particularly after having been in Kenya.

 

Day 13: November 13, 2013

Today I am thankful for, though saddened by, my many many privileges.

– I am white
– I have health insurance
– I graduated from high school
– I graduated from college
– I am working on my M.A.Ed.
– I have never truly gone hungry
– English is my first language
– My ancestors came to America by choice
– I am an American citizen
– I studied the culture of my ancestors in school
– People in the media look like me
– There were more than 50 books in my house as I was growing up
– I attended private school
– I was encouraged to attend college by my parents
– My family owned the house where I grew up
– My parents always told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be
– I have always had access to clean drinking water
– I have never had to go without shoes
– I have always had access to electricity
– I have never had to worry about my family becoming the victims of violence because of their race or religion.

There are so many more…. I am so grateful for my life circumstances, but so saddened by the fact that many many millions of other people will never have the same opportunities I will.

 

Day 14: November 14, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my parents.

We may have different views on some things, but they are supportive, kind, loving, accepting, generous, helpful, good people.  I could not ask for two better parents.  I love you, Mom and Dad!

 

Day 15: November 15, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my cohort.

When I entered graduate school, I figured that my relationships with people in my classes would be very similar to those I developed in undergrad (nonexistent).  It was such a pleasant surprise for me when I realized that the individuals in my classes were awesome, caring, supportive, funny, intelligent, charismatic people.

I don’t know where I would be today without my cohort.  We have shared times of great joy and intense sorrow, laughter, tears, hopes, fears, dreams, and insecurities with each other.  They are such an amazing support system to me and I truly value the friends I have made in my program.

 

Day 16: November 16, 2013

Today, I am thankful for migraine medicine.

That’s all.

 

Day 17: November 17, 2013

Today, I am thankful for relaxing evenings with friends I hold dear.

Sometimes all you need is to get out of the house and chat with a friend 🙂

 

Day 18: November 18, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the beautiful mountains that I have the privilege of calling my home.

 

Day 19: November 19, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my safety and for my basic needs being met.

As I sit in a car riding down the road typing this on my iPhone, I am endlessly thankful that my basic needs are all being met and that I don’t have to live in constant fear for my life.

Since 1998, over 5 million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it the bloodiest conflict since WW2.

Today, I am thankful that I can sleep in my own home each night without having to be fearful for my safety or the safety of my family.

I am thankful for my food, my shoes, my clothes, my access to health care, electricity, running water, and all of the other things I have that I really don’t even need.

 

Day 20: November 20, 2013

Today, I am thankful for time with my family.

My three favorite people (plus another person who is quickly becoming one of my favorites) are all asleep under the same roof tonight and that makes me happier than I really know how to express.

 

Day 21: November 21, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my big brother.

Jac is always supportive, hilarious, and a wonderful person for me to talk to.

 

Day 22: November 22, 2013

Today, I am thankful of the reminder this activity has given me to be mindful and practice gratitude.

 

Day 23: November 23, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the amazing time I spent with my family.

 

Day 24: November 24, 2013

Today, I am thankful for good friends and good food!

 

Day 25: November 25, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the technology that allows me to share my gratitude with all of you.

I haven’t been as good about this for the past few days because I was just SO psyched to get to see my brother, Asher, and Sarah.  It was such a wonderful time spent with people I care about.  It was amazing to have myself, my brother, and my parents all in the same house again.

 

Day 26: November 26, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the time I got to spend with my mom while she was home.

I already miss her again.

 

Day 27: November 27, 2013

Today, I am thankful for Rachael and Falon.

No matter how awful my day is or how stressed out I am, being around them makes me feel calm and rejuvenated.

 

Day 28: November 27, 2013

Today, I am thankful for carpool.

It makes getting to and from class a lot more easy and fun!

 

Day 29: November 29, 2013

Today, I am thankful for phones.

It’s lovely to be able to communicate with the people I care about when we aren’t geographically close to each other.

 

Day 30: November 30, 2013

Today, I am thankful for Monica Dyck.

The fabulous friend who is always loving and supportive inspired me to do a month of gratitude.  I have learned so much about myself this month and reflecting on gratitude has made me incredibly thankful for everything I have.

 

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.