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Thursday, January 27, 2011

my starfish.

So I have a little starfish tattooed on the inside of my right wrist. It’s pretty dang cute and it is a reminder of the starfish story (which I recommend you looking up if you’re not familiar with… literally type “starfish story” into Google and it will come up), which I heard via my big sister at the tender and impressionable age of fourteen. People can tell me all day long that it is cheesy and/or cliché, but sometimes even cheesy and cliché things are fucking glorious. I mean, seriously, how do you think it got overused? Cause everyone loved it. Overused or not, it still holds value… so back up off my adorable tattoo.

Anyways, every so often I am frustrated when I look at my baby starfish because, well, touching one person just isn’t enough. When the world seems to suck as much as it so often seems to suck, touching one life is not enough. So then what? Where do I plot myself in this oscillation between being overwhelmed by wanting to change the world and the realization that I am only human and settling for just one?

For me, I suppose it’s NOT just one, but one at a time. Today, I will worry about this one and when I feel satisfied, I will worry about that one. The first is no more or less important than the second. The first needs no more or less attention or love, I merely happened upon it and I will try to see it through. I will align my life worrying about one thing at a time, instead of falling into numbness or fearful paralysis at the sheer magnitude of injustice. As I said at sixteen, I will just save the world, one starfish at a time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I phoned home yesterday to say “What up.” My father, the one who tried a liquid diet of chicken broth not realizing the high levels of sodium probably weren’t the best thing for his health, picked up the phone. Every time my dad answers the telephone, knowing that I am on the other end (otherwise he would just be a giant creeper), he uses what we refer to as his “Mr. Snooty” voice and actually introduces himself as “Mr. Snooty,” taking the character to a whole other level… he sure knows how to commit to a part. This time however he sounded like a cross between Mr. Snooty and Animal, the Muppet, if Animal spoke words. My dad couldn’t get three words out—the basic hello—before erupting into laughter. I may have provoked his laughter and non-coherentness by informing him that he sounded like a Muppet, but I do what I can.

I started to laugh because my dad sounded like a goof-ball chuckling into the phone. My howling made my dad start to laugh even more. For a good three minutes we were on the phone laughing, running down our family plan minutes.

Words weren’t being exchanged—something that happens when normal people have a conversation.

I had tears streaming down my face. The situation got so out of hand that my mom had to come running up from the basement because she heard the wheels of my papa’s Hoveround come to an abrupt stop after spending the previous minutes wheeling at the speed of sound through our kitchen. Funny how my mom takes the sound of laughter to mean impending doom.

You know your laughing real good when no noise is made, though your face is looking PRETTY spastic.

One of the few things my dad actually managed to say before me mother took the phone away from him because he was acting like a child was that it had been a long time since he had laughed that much. After drying the tears from my own eyes, I realized he was right. It felt very freeing to just laugh for no real reason, to share in a moment of pure joy with an individual I love dearly. It was a stress reliever. I felt whole again.

I felt at peace.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

random thoughts on a thursday.

This morning I stood in the shower and realized that I love by body because it’s mine and it looks like me and it’s beautiful. Not to mention of course that it does sooo much every day to let me live my life!

Tuesday night I got to talk to a friend I hadn’t talked to in a long time and realized how beautiful it is that, when human spirits connect, time can’t hurt their friendship.

Today I thought about how lucky I am to have grown up with a beautiful example of LOVE in my parents and how grateful I am that my parents are GOOD people.

Reading about my roommate’s passion makes me cry tears of joy and of hope.

It is impossible for me to doubt the existence of something spiritual when I see people GLOW because they love others THAT much.

I have so much love in my life and I am grateful!

Who would’ve thought Vegan CHEESEcake could be so delish?

My sisters are badass. Sometimes I get jealous, until I realize part of their awesomeness is the fact that they are totally different than me. They help me to remember that beauty lies in honestly embracing oneself. They become more beautiful with each passing day because we’re all on a journey to do just that.

I am trying to find faith again.

I have a questionably unhealthy addiction to fashion blogs.

I wonder if it’s inappropriate that I stopped wearing underwear for the vast majority of my life. (Thoughts?)

I love the human spirit and am amazed by all that it can endure while still shining, growing and loving.

This weekend I thought to myself, maybe I should stop looking at why people wouldn’t or shouldn’t love me and look at the ways my friends and family constantly show me they DO love me. Maybe that will free me to express to THEM how much I LOVE them with hesitation or fear.

I was taught recently to give myself permission to feel exactly as I feel and to be exactly as I am and I am happier because of it.

I want to write. I want to dance. I want to sing. I want to learn. I want to cry and hug and embrace the mess that is humanity. (I say mess with a smile on my face because it is something I love and value. See above.) I want to create. I want to grow. I want to love. I am overwhelmed by gratitude for the fact that I have my beautiful LIFE in which to do all these things!

I love you, mt

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Work it out

I decided to do some lunges the other day. Now, I prefer to do lunges in the halls of my dorm, but since I was doing these lunges for the sake of losing cookie weight, I completed them in the privacy of my own room, and therefore I did not find them as enjoyable. However, two days later they are starting to grow on me, along with the pain in my thighs.

My muscles ache from the reps of lungs I decided to put myself through. I mean, I only technically did about 20 lunges…but those things are hard. On the bright side, I am enjoying the pain.

That’s just masochistic.

Au contraire, my friend.

I like the strain in my muscles because it makes me feel alive and rejuvenated. It provides me with a sense of accomplishment and improvement. This feeling brings me back to high school when I attended pre-season in 100 degree weather. Back then I couldn’t even plop myself into bed at night without every inch of my body hurting from the amount of suicides my coach made the team run. And though I have gladly given up the suicides, the pain still feels the same (just not as severe). The tension in my legs will slowly start to go away, and the next time I do lunges my legs will be stronger and I will be able to do more reps. Maybe I’ll even reach 22 lunges.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The first dive of the season. Specifically, the moment in the air, when I am transitioning between ground and water. This is the moment when my heart seems to stop. I had just pulled up to the lake a few minutes earlier leaving only enough time to strip down to my boxers. So at this moment I do not know if the water is freezing or mild. I just ran off the end of the dock and jumped with a sharp inhale of breath.

Now comes the doubt: Are you serious!?

Too late now, I have committed. The best way I can get myself to do it is to just move as fast as I can and outdistance my better judgment. Yes, I expect it to be freezing but I certainly don't want my body thinking about it. If I do I'll just psych myself out. Yes, it's best do just do this quickly.

It's ok to let the doubt come in once I am in the air, nothing I can do about it now.

My fingertips break the surface first, followed by my forearms, passing my elbows and this is when I feel the shock of the temperature now. I shut my eyes and close my mouth. As soon as my head submerges I begin to exhale through my nose. I can feel the bubbles make their way up my body to my toes and the surface.

I take one slow stroke moving my arms to my side, roll on my back, and open my eyes to look at the sky from under the water. I now move to a crouching position and move my arms making an arrow above my head again then kick off the water bringing my arms down to my sides again.

When I break the surface I gasp for air, alive.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Be proud; I have recently re-infused my life with yoga. It was about time. You might question why, if I love something as much as I do yoga, was that something missing from my life for so long. Good question.

I didn’t “have” (read: make) time for yoga, but I did make time to work out for close to two hours six days a week. (‘Cause that makes sense, right?) It was more important to me to cycle, to elliptical, to run, to lift because I was afraid if I didn’t make time to do those things I would gain weight, and while I felt like I was trying to have a positive body image and learn to love myself fully in some aspects of my life, these habits were ones I was afraid to let go of. I didn’t want to have those habits and I knew they were not only counterproductive but also stealing me away from things that are healthy for ALL of me, not just my physical body (i.e. yoga). But I didn’t know what would happen if I stopped, so I didn’t.

When discussing body image as I do so often, so many people say, think about what your body can do instead of what it looks like. I would think, yeah, yeah, easy for you to say. But I tried. I started cycling and I started lifting and those became part of my life because I loved how strong I felt, I loved challenging myself, and I truly did love what I could do, what I was capable of. That being said, it became an unhealthy obsession, an addiction and eventually stopped making me happy, but instead became something I was afraid not to do. As my body became stronger, my spirit became weaker.

Well, thankfully, my spirit isn’t really something I’m willing to sacrifice. And in realizing what I was doing to myself in yet another form, I threw that shit out the window. I’m not going to tell you I don’t work out, but I cut my time in half (not to mention my intensity), and it all comes second to my yoga practices.

Do I suddenly feel happy about my body every single minute of every single day? I wish. But, truthfully, I don’t think I’ve been this close to saying yes since middle school, which is disturbing, maybe, but exciting and hopeful as well! My body is strong. My spirit is strong. My whole being is being strengthened in mind, body and spirit—what is there to fear?

And when I lay on my back in corpse pose to end my practice and I let my entire body relax, I am at peace. I end by saying Namaste in the true realization that there is beautiful light in me that is drawn to, that honors, that loves all other life on this earth. Namaste.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Uscita Lato Sinistro

Recently, I was trying to ease my mother’s worried mind by reminding her I traveled on the train without parental supervision on Palm Sunday to the Vatican. There were crowds like no others. Crowds swarming with gypsies. Though that might be a stereotypical assumption. Nevertheless, my mother was concerned with my safety traveling alone on NJT. When I reminded her that I am a world traveler, her response was “Good point.” I’m brilliant. Until my father said, “Yeah, and then you got lost in the Vatican.”

Touché Father. Touché.

The year was 2008. I was a senior in high school on a trip to Italy with my fellow Latin scholars and two besties (who didn’t take Latin, they just wanted to experience Roma). I was prepared to seize the day. It was a Wednesday morning. Rain was falling on my face as I waited in a line that went around an entire block. Umbrella vendors were harassing us, though I suspect they could see the umbrellas we were holding in our hands.

Mr. Umbrella salesman, people already holding an umbrella will not buy another umbrella, so leave them alone. Thank you.

We eventually entered the Vatican Museum. Joy! The group broke up so that everyone could satisfy their curiosities. I accompanied my two friends, who I will now refer to as Johnny and Dallas, and the only male in our group of eight girls, who I will refer to as random boy. After Johnny, Dallas, and I got our fill of laughing at male genitalia we decided to venture to the Sistine Chapel accompanied by random boy. Word to the wise: it takes walking through hallways for a good two miles to reach the Sistine Chapel, wear your walking shoes—I had my Puma Speed Cats on so I was prepared and as a bonus, I looked fly.

We reached the emerald city. Sneakily took a few pictures of our faces in hopes of capturing the Sistine Chapel. Then we were off to return to the museum.

Now, when exiting the chapel you can go to the left or to the right. One would think that both exits lead to the same place since the chapel is so crowded it is hard to cross over to the exit you most desire. Not in Italy. We were herded towards the exit on the right and then dumped into St. Peter’s Basilica, which would have been fine except for the fact that once you leave the museum there is no getting back into the museum. Our group was supposed to meet in the café. We had no way of getting to that café.

We tried to wiggle our way back to the museum. But as you would expect, the guards didn’t like that. Leaving St. Peter’s square, we were hopeful for our reentry. We were also apparently naïve. They don’t play around at the Vatican.

Mr. Umbrella salesman, when people look upset and lost, I suggest you stay away from them. K? Thanks.

After various attempts at using a payphone, we realized we were screwed. And this is the moment in our story where Ponyboy starts to get upset. I’m lost. In a strange city. With no way to get in contact with my trip leaders. Then random boy suggests that we enter the food/coffee shop that is two feet away from us. We enter this shop. Ask for a phone.

Oh, you don’t have a phone. Well, Ponyboy has tears streaming down her face to make up for your lack of a phone. Oh, the owner has an iPhone we can use. That’s funny because you just said no one had a phone we could use…hmmm.

That was a failed attempt at contact because our leader’s phone was either a) off; or b) not getting service. I’m going with a. At this point in the game I look like someone having an allergic reaction. My face is splotchy from crying my eyes out and I no longer like the Vatican. Sorry, Mr. Pope, but the Vatican can suck it. Since I now look like a fool in my Speed Cats, we decide to approach the guard and tell him our story, who then magically sees my hideous mascara covered face and lets us enter the museum. I suppose I should mention that fresh tears started to stream down my face when we were speaking to the guard.

A few more people tried to stop us from entering the museum.

Is all this security really necessary? It’s not like when we told you we mistakenly left the museum and had to get back to our group, we were really lying and were entering the museum to steal Laocoön. He wouldn’t even fit onto the plane.

LONG story short, we got back to our group and our trip leader was unfazed by our trials and tribulations.

I am apparently prone to overreacting.

Why did I just tell you one of the most embarrassing stories of my life? Well, I think it takes great strength to break down in front of people you don’t know and to ask for help. If I hadn’t have cried, then we would have never been given the iPhone which provided us with no help. BUT, if I didn’t continue to cry in front of the guards at the door to the Vatican Museum (which I like to call Stress Inducer), then we wouldn’t have gotten in. Only the strongest person knows when to ask for help.

If you got anything out of this post, I hope it is that the Italians, especially of the male variety, are nice to people who cry …they stop hitting on you long enough to actually be of some use.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Three different Feathers

My perception of what strength is has varied greatly over the years. So I have decided to take a look back at myself, when I was three, sixteen, and twenty-three. Although I know it is impossible to be objective about anything I am gonna do my best. I recently cleaned out my old room at my dad's house so I found a plethora (good word) of primary documents from my life. These ranged from school projects to old love letters, not to mention several hundred photographs. I am pretty sure I can use these to piece together my three ideas of what I though (and still think) what strength is.

Three Feathers circa 1990: My Father
This is pretty straight forward. Daddy Three Feathers could carry both Three year old Three Feathers and his sister at the same time. There was nobody in the world that was stronger than he. Granted Little Three Feathers didn't know about many other people yet, He hadn't yet come to that existential time-bomb.

Evidence: I found a drawing I did where my dad is carrying me on his shoulders, everything else around (trees, buildings, other people) him don't even reach his knees, He was a giant and as long as I was with him nothing could hurt me.

Three Feathers circa 2004: A Tough-Guy
Yeah, I know it is not quite objective to call this Three Feathers a jerk but thats what he was. This guy was way too cool for school. Sixteen years has given him enough time to know everything there is to know. Tired of getting beaten up for being a nerd he made the seemingly obvious choice of fighting back, even looking for fights. He smokes Lucky Strikes and drinks cheap whiskey. His idea of strength is not being a victim. He keeps a padlock in his pocket to hold in his fist if he needs it, and soon he will carry a switchblade. He is no longer that great of a student but at least no one calls him a nerd anymore.

Evidence: I still have, and sometimes wear my old leather jacket. I lost the padlock somewhere and I keep the knife in a trunk to remind me of what I learned from those days.

Three Feathers circa 2010: A Compassionate Worker
Twenty Three year old Three Feathers wants to live with the land as a farmer. His first farm boss taught him about "the good life" which consisted of three parts in order to succeed. Physical work, Working in the fields, exercise, etc. Mental work, Reading, computer work, etc. And Rest, lounging, sleep. This man has lived happily and intentionally with balance. Working outside and with his hands in this way is exactly what Three Feathers wanted so he sees this as a fantastic example to follow.

Evidence: Hmm, yeah my whole lets try to be objective hasn't really worked out has it? It was still a good exercise for me anyway so bully! Anyway, I have learned a lot from Adam and It only instilled my love for a days work, and my understanding for how fulfilling it can be. When you see the plants and animals you have helped grow by putting your (CLICHE ALERT!) Mind, Body, and Soul into it the feeling is so hard to describe I am not going to try and describe save this. It is the closest to a feeling of strength I have had in these past 24 years.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Let your strengths shine

Speaking of StrengthsQuest mt, my strengths happen to be Empathy, Input, Developer, Positivity, and Ideation. I never really thought anything of StrengthsQuest until I started delving deep into the program and taking an in-depth look at my strengths. I was so surprised when I saw that they really did describe me well. And what I believe the program is great for is showing you aspects of yourself that you can really outwardly portray to become more authentically you. I realized that my strengths were all things relating to people, listening to people, feeling what they are feeling, building them up to be able to show the world the amazing beings I know they are, making people feel good. So I took all those and saw that my career path was to go into Student Development, because I love working with students, I love seeing them succeed, and I love when they become the person that they truly are. So, I embraced my strengths and used them to better the world around me. Strength to me isn’t always about being physically, mentally, or emotionally strong, it’s not always being the tough one, the smart one, the courageous one, but it can be finding that thing inside you that makes you shine. It’s about seeing what you can bring to the world, and I can see that your wonderful strengths are bubbling inside you ready to burst and say hello, if they haven’t already. Your light and your love is your strength.

“Your Growth is My Love”

You’re my blooming flower,
my brightest star,
my youngest sprout of knowledge and self.

It’s as if I tilled the soil round and round
until you got it through your head that
you could become somebody in this world,

This human world of action and reaction
of care and love and paying things forward
for years to come.

I took you and so many more who thought
as I once did—
“I am nothing.”

But when my guidance came in the form
of a loving mentor I knew right then and there
that was for me.

To build is to love

The human mind:
a sponge of wonderful proportion.
The human body:
an amazing thing to be accepted and loved.
The human spirit:
built from the ground up to shine brilliant light through the world.

This is what I do; this is what I set the seeds to create.
I feel
I seek
I move
I make
I develop people.

It’s my strength—
I embrace it
I love it
It’s something authentically me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

redefining strength.

So, lately I have been on this kick (which you have probably noticed) where I am all like: we're all one because we're all human and the more we try to act like we're not all one, the more we distance ourselves from our own spirits and from each other. Aka tragedy ensues!

*Side note: I think Strengths Quest is really fucking great, and I will have you know the Connectedness is in my top five--shocking? I think not.

Anyway, so I am all like trying to embrace my own humanity... can you hear the hippie-ness in my voice? I hope so. Imagine me with my eyes half shut kind of bobbing my head around. But hippie-ness aside, I really do believe in my heart of hearts that we are HARMING each other and ourselves by pretending we aren't all HUMAN. I really, truly, deeply believe in unity, in community, and in solidarity. I think they inspire love, justice, deep, profound joy, peace--both internally and externally, and solutions to huge problems that we face socially...

Okay, so, what the hell does it even mean to try to embrace one's own humanity? Well, it could be as simple as crying in public if I fucking feel like it or having the courage to ask for help when I need it. For me, it's not pretending that I am emotionless, that I am perfect, that I am not sexual, that I don't have any darkness in my life or in my past, that I am not capable of both being harmed or causing harm. It's refusing to let humanness be aligned with weakness.

But I get pissed off because society does exactly that. We align humanness with weakness... to be more precise, we more often align FEMININITY with weakness (what the fuck does femininity even mean... who decided all women were the same because if I find them I'm going to... give them a really dirty look!). But crying is not weak, it is honest and genuine and HUMAN. We all cry and I am so glad we do because it means something matters enough to us that it evokes deep emotion--when did it become weak to care? to love? to be real? I don't want to ever stop being real, to ever stop loving and caring with all of my being, to ever not be moved by emotion. I want to cry. And you know what? My tears will be as strong as my love, as strong as I am and they will be human.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm one tough Gazookus

Strength. What to talk about? Currently these are the things that have popped into my head:

You play ball like a girl.

Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine.

I’m strong to the finich, cause I eats me spinach.

I think I will go with the last one because A) I am a girl, so I do play ball like one…maybe not, but I’ll pretend; B)I’d rather drink Chocolate Soy Milk. When was the last time you saw Ovaltine?; C) I heart Spinach. It is magical: you can grow spinach twice a year in the early summer and early fall, it comes in baby form, it is filled with iron and I am not. IT COMPLETES ME.

I became a vegetarian my first year of college. I have not had a slab of beef since my senior year of high school. The thought of steak in my face disgusts me. I would rather eat Brussels sprouts, which is saying a lot considering the fact that when my mom cooks the sprouts and I am forced to take part in the feast, I usually drench the miniature cabbages with A1 sauce, which is a tad ironic, I admit.

Why did I become a veggie, you ask? I just started to feel bad. Watch Food, Inc. and get back to me. Debeaking chicks isn’t acceptable in my book, unless the chicks are in marshmallow form, then you can do whatever you want with them—enjoy magnifying their size in the microwave, I know you want to. Pigs are one of the smartest animals (along with dauphins …I’m watching you Japan), and yet they are treated the worst. Both pigs and dauphins happen to be on my top ten fav. animal list because we are similar on the intelligence scale, since we are both one of the smartest of our kind.

There was one problem with becoming a vegetarian. Apparently, I was already low on iron. I should have listened to my high school teacher when she tried to force anemia onto me, despite the fact that the Red Cross nurse said I was not anemic. Being denied to give blood three times should have been a sign. I have always enjoyed my leafy greens. I love me some chickpeas/garbanzo beans. I never thought that in reality I am anemic.

Basically my iron levels dropped a significant amount during my time spent as a vegetarian, think close to zero. Now after multiple blood tests I am forced to eat meat. I draw the line at fish and chicken. Eating slaughtered animal is not something I am happy about, but at what point do we sacrifice our own strength and well-being. Obviously something was wrong since I would wake up and an hour later feel exhausted, since I would have moments when I felt like I was going to collapse or hit my head on the wall from dizziness.

It seems selfish to consider my own health over the life of innocent creatures, but I was only given this one body. Sometimes you need to think of yourself before you think of others. You need to be strong so that you can continue to fight for those who have no voice. I had no strength in me. I felt weak.

My word of wisdom: Always act with the best interest of your body in mind. Eat spinach like it’s your job. It worked for Popeye. Hopefully it will work for me too.

P.S. I hope you all know that I was kidding about my genius. I’m not really that full of myself, I just like to run my mouth.