the post that could have been

27 04 2010

Last night I had a great post in my head about religious covering for women and what a complicated issue they are.  Somewhat in response to the recent laws being past/considered outlawing them (in Quebec of all places!) and somewhat in response to seeing a woman in walmart wearing a full covering.  I don’t know enough about the issue to use one of the technical names.  Unfortunately Mike came home before I could write it, and I’ve forgotten all the interesting things I had to say about freedom of religion and oppression of woman.

But I did want to reflect on my reaction.  First I was shocked.  Special religious head gear is not uncommon around here, but Amish/old Mennonite head coverings are a part of my mental construct of Goshen.  This woman’s outfit didn’t fit into my frame of reference.  After the initial shock came interest.  Who was this woman and how brave she must be to chose to set herself apart in such a dramatic way.  Then came the doubt that it was completely her choice.  But do we ever truly chose who we are, what we wear, what we become?  Aren’t we all products of our upbringing, family history, religion, belief system or lack there of, societal expectations… and on and on?  My last reaction before I moved on was to scan the crowd around her.  Was anyone staring (except me :-P)?  Did she experience hate in our community because of her choice?  The fact that this was possible, even probable left me with a lingering sadness.



23 08 2009

Reality feels a little fuzzy right now.  I just finished my first overnight shift and I’ve been up for about 21 hours.

There are some people who seem to be able to accept reality without qualm, rolling with the punches so to speak.  I can be that way most of the time, but sometimes, reality and what I want reality to be are not the same thing.  Usually in those circumstances, I try to discover any way possible to make them match up.  And I don’t do this by changing my expectations and desires, I do it by trying to change reality.  A really common example of this is work.  If I’m scheduled for a shift I really don’t want to work (say Saturday night), I’ll try and figure out an easy way to switch with someone, etc.  The sad part comes when even if I don’t find a way to change things, or decide that it’s not worth trying to change, the situation still feels a little fuzzy or unreal.  In the situation above a small part of me will feel like I don’t have to work.  Often it’s in direct correlation with how much I thought about trying to change the situation.  Somehow my brain tries to reject the reality that I don’t desire.  This happens with larger life realities as well.  I guess all of that is to say, I’d really like to learn how to change my attitude instead of always trying to change the situations I don’t like… or at least learn to pick my battles better.  And then I want to fully embrace that reality and lose the fuzziness.

Oz (he’s our new cat) is freaking out.  I think it’s because he’s hungry, but he can also just be a spaz sometimes.  But he’s still purring 🙂  I love cats that purr.

Thursday Night Thoughts by Mrs. H

26 03 2009

As part of my job, I’ve started going to a local church’s young adult group with one of my clients.  It’s a large church, conservative and for all intents and purposes, non-denom.  Last week was the first time I went.  The young adult pastor passed out scratch paper before his lesson and here’s what ended up on mine.

What is hell?    Seperation from God.

Why do people go to hell?…
I don’t believe it has anything to do with what we say.  Is it just about being a nice person?  No not really, but it’s not about a formula either.
It’s about having faith that there is more; faith that there is a creator and believing that living in harmony and pursuing peace and justice and LOVE is how we honor this creator.  And if we truly believe in a creator, how can we NOT praise this Being?
How can I not set aside part of my week to focus on this part of life?  No wonder I struggle so much with balance!  No wonder I always feel that I’m barely keeping my head above water.

(after the pastor read the end of the beatitudes, Blessed are the peacemakers…. and kind of dismissed the whole war and pacifism issue)
“Peacemakers show someone who is at war with God, how to be at peace with God”  Really?  hum, maybe, but I’m not comfortable with refocusiong that scripture.

(after the pastor claimed racism is built into us… trying to support the idea that we are sinful from birth)
Is racism biological at all?  I’ve always thought of it all completely as socialized.  I think it is socialized, but the cues are so subtle and pervasive that we don’t always see the cause.

God is NOT a man.  God is not limited to a masciline identity.  WHY then do we limit God by using the male pro-noun.

I don’t believe in the Old Testament as history.  It is the oral tradition of one people.  Are we really expected to not understand it as storytelling?  It doesn’t make it irrelevant, but seeing it as unaltered fact is not simply problematic, but dangerous, and we’ve seen how it can be used in awful, hurtful ways.

He totally pussyfooted around the issue of non-violence.  For shame.

“Evangelism by works or example is a small part of evangelism”?  Really?

Bible hopping bugs me.  He’s used 7+ passages a verse or two each.  context? cohesion?

With everything going on a teaching on “converting” is the most effective use of our time?  What about all the people who don’t have enough food right now, are losing their homes, power shut off, etc.  I know there’s a passage some where about meeting people’s physical needs before we can evangelize.  But I guess this is my first time, maybe that sermon was last week.

I promised her an update

15 11 2007

It is almost 12:30.  Tomorrow I will post.  Really really.  And maybe I’ll talk about my life time struggle with good sleeping habits.  But right now I NEED to go to bed.  See you all tomorrow.

Confession time

19 05 2007

every once in a while (more frequently in the last few days) I check my ex-fiance’s facebook account or add his IM screen name to my list and read his away messages.  I know this is a bad idea and distructive and I always feel shittier afterward.  It’s such a compulsive thing.  I don’t know exactly why I do it.  I don’t know why I care what’s going on in his life.  I had a dream about him last night, so that may have prompted it today, or maybe doing it recently prompted the dream, who knows.  Am I looking for signs that he and Suzi aren’t doing well?  I don’t really want them to be having problems, but if I’m being truly honest, there would be a part of me that was glad.  I don’t think it has anything to do with me wishing them ill will.  I think it’s because I still have trouble with the fact that he moved on so fast and that my absence from his life didn’t seem to make him unhappy.  It makes me feel replaceable and unimportant.  I’m fully aware that this is not true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel it.

But this is a self-intervention.  You are all now my unwitting accountability partners.  I will post every time I look him up, and the embarrassment of having to admit it publicly will be a deterrent (I hope).

Interview IV

9 05 2007

First of all I want to say it’s really hard to be satisfied with these answers because the questions were so amazing and thought provoking!  Thankyou so much for the challenge Mel.

1. In answer to Flutter’s question about the most important thing about you, you replied, “when I was 9 my parents and I moved to Zambia.” Wow! What are some of your best or most vivid memories of that time and place?
There are so many!  Like the time that my dad killed a spitting cobra that almost attacked my mom by throwing a hammer at it and hitting it in the head.  Or the way the world looks at night when there’s no artificial light for kilometers and kilometers in all directions.  Or going swimming on horseback and learning to jump at the tiny British expatriate school that I attended for a few months.  Or the first time I saw the mist and heard the roar of Victoria Falls.  Or being charged by a rino when my dad drove too close.  Or when a couple of my friends were almost run over by a runaway ox and cart at the little play set by my house.  Or my mom crying because we were told by the mission board back home that we had to leave the country in two weeks (this was later retracted, but we had originally planed to stay for 3 years and only stayed for 2)  Some time I should do a series of stories from those two years.  That would be good blogging fodder.

2. In your post to the person who found you through the broken engagement search, you said this: “I had to relearn to value myself as an individual,” and you also said this: “I made strong commitments to myself about maintaining my self worth and independence.” How do you feel you are doing with these self-affirming actions these days? Has a new relationship posed any challenges for you in still making sure to meet those goals for yourself?

It’s a daily struggle.  I think these are areas that will take continued growth and attention for the rest of my life.  But I’ve made huge strides.  Granted I had a long way to travel to even reach a healthy place, but it feels good to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come.  It’s not really something you can quantify, but I value and like myself much more than I used to.

Dating Mike has been a struggle in a lot of ways.  I have to fight the urge to rely on him for my self worth.  I have to fight the urge to plan my life around him.  Luckily, he doesn’t allow me to depend on him too much, and he has a way of being supportive while encouraging me to be the strongest person I can.  It’s hard road though because it’s a fight against my natural inclinations.
3. As a nanny, what’s the most important goal (besides “keep the child alive”)that you keep in mind, both at the start of each day and at the start of each new job?

That’s such a hard question for me because I’m a novice nanny.  I feel like I’ve been through a trial by fire the past 10 months.  I’ve had two different jobs with very different situations.  Nothing in my past or education has given me the insight or preparation for this career.  So until now I haven’t really had the luxury of having clear goals at the start of a job.  I’m still a little wet behind the ears, but now I would say the goal with each child is to guide them in becoming independent, joyful, articulate, socially and emotionally mature people.  To provide them with the challenges that will help them to grow at a leave where they are able to succeed.  This of course is easier said than done.  Just because a child has the capabilities necessary to tie their shoes doesn’t mean that they have the focus to complete the task or that it’s going to be easy for you to have the patience to wait for them to complete it.  It’s also my goal to find ways to make the family’s life easier.  Oh, and to give the kids as much love as possible.  That’s the easy part.

Day to day I try and keep them on a schedule of sorts.  It’s hard with babies, but everyone’s happier if there’s structure to the day.  I try to take them out every day, weather permitting.  I try and think of new things the girls can learn, whether that’s how to put the blocks in the bucket or how to not chew on books.

4. Just in the posts I’ve browsed, you mention singing, dancing, salsa lessons, “wheel throwing lessons,” whatever those are, fiddle lessons… do you think you will be a perennial student? In other words, do you agree with the notion that a person should continue to learn something new throughout their lives? Do you plan on doing so?

I definitely think I’ll be a student most of my life.  There are so many things I want to learn and be able to do.  I love the creative outlet of art, music and dance classes.  If I had more money and more energy I’d be involved in a lot more classes.  I am hoping to do some “wheel throwing lessons” this summer.  Wheel throwing is a part of ceramics and is how most hand made pottery is formed.

5. You said last summer, “I just want to feel like something I do really touches someone.” This isn’t a question, it’s a statement: I have really enjoyed reading your blog; it has touched me. While our lifepaths are not extremely similar, I can hear echoes of my own heart from before I settled into the life I have now in your words. I do hope you keep going; your honesty and freshness are very neat to read.


26 04 2007

I was recently inspired to retrace the steps of my interview meme to see how widespread it was.  And boy howdy!  what a big blogging world there is out there!  I decided to stop once I had traced back 10 blogs.  I found some really neat ones that will most likely see me again on a regular basis.  And since I’ve been having a bit of blogger’s block lately I decided to ask each of them to interview me.  If each of them respond that will be 50 questions, which should keep me busy for a while.  Here was my first response.

Christine asked…

1) In a recent post you talked about BYU’s alternative commencement ceremony as a protest to Dick Cheney being the commencement speaker. Imagine instead that the speaker was Hillary Clinton, how would your post have read if students were reacting in the same manner?

You know, I thought about that as I was writing the post.  To be realistic, I probably wouldn’t have been paying as much attention to the news in the first place if it had been Hillary, but let’s say that it was… Howard Dean.  I probably wouldn’t read the blog of someone who felt that way about Howard Dean.  Not because I want to be close-minded, but how often do we relate to someone with vastly different views?  And I’ll be the first to admit that I have to fight the urge to be closed off to views I don’t agree with.

But, I hope that I would respect the ideology behind the protest, and the manner in which it is being carried out.  I feel that honest, peaceful dissent is the best way to bring about change, and is necessary to keep the government in check.  I believe I would feel this way even if things were run exactly how I’d want them to be run (or at least I really hope).  We need open dialog to keep up with the changing world and to create a more respectful society.

2) If you could describe your ideal day in one sentence, what would it be?

My ideal day would be warm, barefoot, earthy, creative, and end relaxing in the arms of someone I love.

3) You need someone to know the most important thing about you, immediately. What is it?

That’s so hard!  There are a lot of things I could say, but I think the most important thing is sort of two things that are closely related.  I was born in Zaire (we left when I was an infant), and then when I was 9 my parents and I moved to Zambia after my closest sister graduated from H.S.  Part of my schooling in Zambia took place at a British boarding school.

Ok, I’m sort of cheating, because it’s really two things, but whatever.  So the Africa part is important because there’s a part of me that will always want to be in Africa.  My happiest, most vivid childhood memories are from our two years there, and it’s my birthplace.  The boarding school bit is important because that was when I started to separate my identity from my family.  I also attended boarding school for H.S. and that had a larger impact, but I trace the roots of my independent nature to that experience.

4) What did you want your name to be, when you were a little girl? Why was it your favorite name?

There wasn’t any particular name, although I liked the name Gabrielle, I just wanted my name to be more unique.  My brother’s and sisters all got cool uncommon names.  Karis, Andre’ and Lenora.  Then there’s me, Stephanie.  There were 4 Stephanies in my elementary class alone.  Remember that British boarding school I was talking about?  There were 16 kids, and another Stephanie.  In H.S. I lived in the room next to another Stephanie Ann.  My dad likes to tell people that Stephanie was the most popular name in Nebraska (where he’s from) the year I was born.

5) What would you change about yourself, if anything?

I would live more in the moment.  This would change me in two major ways.  First off I wouldn’t procrastinate so much because why not do something right now instead of putting it off till later?  And more importantly, I wouldn’t worry about my life turning out the way I want it to so much.  I can really stress myself out with that one.

Would I have stopped?

10 04 2007

I have loved Joshua Bell’s music for several years now, and I found this article very interesting.  Reads a bit like a piece from an academic journal, but it’s worth reading all the way through.  I think the experiment was a bit skewed, but still telling of the society we live in.  Thanks Sarah for the lead.

To the person who found me by searching “how to heal from a broken engagement”

13 03 2007

You’re long gone, but your search got me thinking. What would I tell someone if they asked me that question? I know I’m young, and I’m sure every person’s experience is different, but here’s a bit of my experience and what I’ve learned.

An engagement is a plan. It’s a plan that ties your life integrally with another’s. When my engagement was ended so was my chosen path. It was cut off sharp at about 9 months down the road. I had no plans after May that made any sense without Jesse. I am someone who thrives on looking down the road. I’m constantly mapping out the next 50 steps. The way many people use family or home as security in life, I use plans. I had never felt as secure as I did when I was engaged. I belonged. And suddenly that was gone. The plans, the belonging, the security. I felt like the rug of my life had been pulled out from under me and I was left lying flat on my back staring up at a blank ceiling. Alone. I started to piece together a future again but it was difficult. I had changed my major since the relationship had turned serious, and honestly, it was partly because I was going to get married. I didn’t need an occupation as involved as interpreting if I had a family. I had started to make plans to move to the city with my girlfriends before I got engaged, but they had moved on with the planning without me (naturally), and I no longer fit. I had the feeling that nothing in my life made sense anymore.

A large part of that feeling was because I valued myself based on how Jesse valued me. I remember writing that it felt like only the fringes of my heart were left because I’d filled up the bulk of it with my love for him, leaving only a fringe for where I loved my family and friends. The part where I loved myself was tied up with the part that loved him, and I wasn’t allowed to love him anymore. I had to relearn to value myself as an individual.

Letting go of the now defunct future was probably one of the hardest parts. First of all there was the wedding. I had it all planned. I was going to be in China and then have a more then full course load plus try to hold down 3 part time jobs, so I planned the wedding the summer before as much as I could. I have a dress. My bride’s maids have dresses. I had asked a friend to do the cake and we had found some beautiful cake stands. I had asked another friend to do the photos. I had ask someone to do the music. And the flowers. We had talked about vows and pre-marital councling and hymns. Then there was the life. We had a boy’s and girl’s name picked out. I was already thinking about possible apartment locations. We had combined our monetary resources (don’t do this, it’s a very bad idea) I was going to be a part of his family (he has a really cool family) I was going to be a wife. Something that I’ve come to grips with in the past couple years is that despite how much society might look down on my for it, the most important things in the world to me are finding a partner and creating a family. My dreams were coming true.

And then they weren’t.

In no specific order because it’s late and my mind is scattered, here are some things that helped me through:

  • I drew on the support of my friends. and drew and drew. We are closer for it.
  • I spent time alone, but I made sure that I didn’t alienate myself.
  • I allowed myself to grieve.
  • I allowed myself to be angry.
  • I worked really hard at not being bitter.
  • I did things that made me feel good about myself. Dancing was a key element.
  • I went to counciling. I wish I had started regular sessions sooner.
  • I asked him to go to a counciling session with me.
  • I forced myself to deal with what I was feeling
  • I monitored my methods of escape so that nothing got out of hand.
  • I made a new plan for my life.
  • I made strong commitments to myself about maintaining my self worth and independence.
  • I learned to value experiences I had and people I had gotten to know while with him despite the pain that is now attached.
  • I got rid of e-mails, letters and pictures. I’m an obsessive reminiscer, so this was an important step for me. I only kept my diaries.
  • I wrote poetry.
  • I opened myself up to another relationship when the time felt right.
  • I forgave him and tried to see things from his perspective.
  • I looked for ways in which I was responsible.
  • I didn’t allow myself to take all the responsibility.
  • I celebrated in way I had grown and matured because of the experience.
  • I didn’t set a time limit for when I should be over it.

    That last one is still really important because (is it obvious?) I’m not completely over it. I’ve come a long way, and in alot of ways time is the only thing left that can get me to a place of feeling more at peace. There are still random strangers that make my heart jump a little. Dark curly hair. Certain body types. The way a certain guy walks. Sometimes you just have to let time heal.And to the person who found me by searching for “if you had to rename of mice an” I’d rename it “should have finished the last chapter before going to class so that the ending wasn’t completely ruined”

I’m flying miles above the earth right now…

25 02 2007

There’s a slight tinge of color on the horizon behind us and to the right. It’s quite beautiful. Orange than yellow and graduating shades of green and blue end in an inky black as the atmosphere fades into space. Below on the dark ground towns web out into the country marked only by the electricity they emit. And I’m sitting up here high above the world thinking.
This weekend away was refreshing. It was a pleasure to reconnect with my girlfriends and see a glimpse into their new worlds. Things were relaxed, long conversations were had, good food was enjoyed, and my longing to be in the Northwest again was fulfilled. Meryl and I ended up at the Market and in a little Chinese restaurant where we ordered a dish off menu that was a favorite during SST. Fan chi chow dan. Basically scrambled eggs with diced tomato, but hard to reproduce. The men’s choir made me smile a lot and reminded me how much I miss live choral music. Not much hotter than a man who can sing. They made me proud of my alma mater. After the concert, several of the guys, and some of the other alumni who are in the Seattle area went out to. Katie, Meryl and I all went out to a Moroccan restaurant on Saturday night and spent almost 2 hours enjoying a sumptuous 5 course meal. Sunday morning was spent at SMC and we sang hymns! Really good ones. I miss hymn singing…
Back to work tomorrow, and the next week is going to be chalk full of studying because I have to take my last 3 syntax tests on Saturday which means between now and then I have to read and understand three-fourths of an entire text book. But right now I’m quite content.
One more thing of note that made me really happy. I was told this weekend by an unexpected source that Mike and I make this individual happy because we seem really good together. Happy thoughts.