“As women, we are taught to be tiny. To have small bodies, to never be imposing. The ideal of our gender are thin and childlike, hairless and dainty. We are defined by our bodies; defined by our control over them. We are taught to obsess over our physicality and to be repulsed by our desires and intelligences. We are taught to walk scared late at night. We cradle our keys between our perfectly manicured fingers, walking gracefully like a baby antelope in a herd of lions. That our virginity defines our character. That I am a frigid bitch if I do not fuck him, and a dirty slut if I do.”—The Truth About Growing Up A Woman, Michelle K. (via therevolutionwillbeblogged)
“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums" -Paul Hawken”—http://www.up.edu/commencement/default.aspx?cid=9456
“The thing is you have to fight the whole time. You can’t stop. Otherwise you just end up somewhere, bobbing in the middle of a life you never wanted.”—Alexander Maksik, You Deserve Nothing (via mrvonnegut)
“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. It is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn. We breathe love. It’s how we learn. And it is inevitable.”—Nayyirah Waheed (via awelltraveledwoman)
"I actually attack the concept of happiness. I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying ‘write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep’ and ‘cheer up’ and ‘happiness is our birthright’ and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say ‘quick! move on! cheer up!’ I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word ‘happiness’ and to replace it with the word ‘wholeness.’ Ask yourself ‘is this contributing to my wholeness?’ and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” Hugh Mackay
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”—Franz Kafka (via morbidlonging)
1. There is such a thing as a “real” woman and she is defined by “having curves,” which is not to be confused with “being fat,” and if you fall too far outside of that particular bell curve, you do not count as a “real” woman.
2. There is something inherently wrong with you if you have slept with a certain number of people, and it must be the result of some former trauma or unfinished business you have.
3. There is something inherently wrong with you if you are insisting on remaining a virgin until marriage, or indefinitely, and it is something that can be rectified with “the right man.”
13. If you don’t look like a photoshopped image of a model in a magazine, there is something inherently wrong with you, and not with the image.
19. As a woman, the question you should be asking yourself as you enter your career is unquestionably “How do I have it all?” The underlying assumption is always that you want both a family life and a career, lest you be considered lazy or immature on either front.
Mega-Church pastor Rob Bell is probably one of the most controversial leaders within Christianity today. One thing that makes him controversial is that he says
"Are you open to the possibility that God might not exist?"
“I write about that in the book-about that gnawing sense that we may really be alone in the universe, at least in terms of God. I tell in the book about driving to church one Easter Sunday realizing that I didn’t believe in God. The only problem was that I was giving the sermon that day to 10,000 people. Which was a problem, to say the least! Haha. I decided to keep searching, and if my conclusions meant I had to leave my work and church, so be it. At least I’d have my integrity. As I kept going, I realized that I’d seen too much wonder and awe-in science, literature, music, serious drug addicts getting clean, marriages reviving, people with cancer having more joy than I’d ever seen a person have. I’ve seen, tasted, and experienced too much to deny that there’s anything more and close my mind like that. For me, the only intellectually honest and reasonable perspective is to remain open and believe. We all have faith-the only compelling question is: in what? or who? What I find compelling is becoming. What faith or perspective or world view makes you become a better person? More loving, kind, courageous, honest, generous? When I believe in the God Jesus talked about, it makes me less judgmental and more compassionate and more generous…that’s the mark of any belief system to me-how does it shape you? We’ve seen a lot of religion do a lot of bad shaping, haven’t we? So enough with that. But compassion and generosity and intellectual honesty and less judgment-we need more of that than ever, right?”
"What you become is infinitely more important than what you do, or what you have.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul, if you can be faithless and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
“We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was your age, I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things…
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.”—
“Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”—Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (via iamlindy)
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this and I’m realizing how much has happened in the course of a few months. After an incredible semester in Senegal, I found myself back for my last semester at American University stumbling around trying to balance all the questions I came home with and the stress of figuring out post-graduation life. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie. DC culture is already a toxic career obsessed land. It’s the kind of place people give out business cards during happy hours and use their job title as a form of social status. On top of that, graduation culture is even more toxic. I swear I was on the verge of slapping someone if I heard the “what are you doing after you graduate” question one more time.
I’m getting a job people.
But really. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so stressed over a question, but the past few weeks have been really encouraging. I’ll be spending the summer with my boyfriend in Santa Cruz and currently I’m applying for jobs in fall all over the place and finally. FINALLY I’m choosing to be excited about tomorrow. About the mystery and the freedom and the chance to grow up and prove that all I’ve worked for these past few years will pay off. But more than anything, I’m excited to simply enjoy life and start to create a simple life for myself that I’m proud of. A life full of people I love and full of simple meaningful good work.
In the mean time, I’m working hard at school and loving this city just as much as the day I moved here. I’m interning for Food and Water Watch and nanning for 2 of the coolest kids I’ve ever met. Life is good and tomorrow is exciting.
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic - the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”—Charles de Lint, courtesy of Whiskey River. (via crashinglybeautiful)
Leave your windows and go out, people of the world,
Go into the streets, go into the field, go into the woods
And along the streams.
Go together, go alone.
Say no to the Lords of War which is Money
Which is Fire. Say no by saying yes
To the air, to the earth, to the trees,
Yes to the grasses, to the rivers, to the birds
And the animals and every living thing, yes
To the small houses, yes to the children. Yes. - Wendell Berry
I wrote this poem in my journal about a year ago. Next to it was a list of dreams and goals and opportunities. “Keep Saying Yes” written boldly next to it. I laughed at myself as I read it sitting on my terrace watching the sunset over Dakar, Senegal. This is what happens when you keep saying yes. I’m currently living in Dakar, Senegal for the fall semester studying French, Development and Senegalese culture. A series of sacrifices and determined “yes”s has gotten me here. My decision to study abroad in Senegal was as random as throwing a dart on a map and saying, “I’m going there,” yet somehow I ended up in one of the most vibrant and beautiful cities in Africa. Dakar is not what you first think of when you think of Africa. You might think of war, or aids or poverty, but I bet you wouldn’t think of metropolitan city with art, music, beaches, and the most beautiful Islamic traditions. This isn’t my first time in Africa; about 7 years ago I traveled to Northern Uganda„ but Dakar is a much different place. Located on the West coast of Africa, Senegal is a Francophone country 95 % Muslim and 5% Catholic. They speak French, yet Wolof is commonly their primary language. I’m living with a Senegalese family of 10 in a neighborhood called Mirmoz just across the street from my study center. Every second of my day is a lesson. I’m living in a culture completely foreign to me, and my ability to collect lessons, process them and carry on with my day is on overdrive. This experience is extremely holistic, my “education” here has no beginning and no end; it’s when I go to class and learn about Gender and Development, it’s when I walk home for lunch and eat around the bowl with my giant family, and it’s when I wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat because the power went out and my fan won’t run. I’m always on. I stand out everywhere I go, there isn’t a second of the day when I’m not sweating or downing water, or hoping that last mosquito bite won’t put me in bed for a week. I love every second of it. I barely speak French, but every day I notice my French improving. Despite the language barrier, I manage to learn the most amazing things from my host family. While Senegal is very Islamic, they also still hold strongly to certain animist beliefs and African proverbs. During our cultural orientation we learned a few proverbs. One has really stuck out to me. “Nit Nitay Garambam,” meaning “A person is a person’s medicine.” Garabam directly translates to a type of tree commonly used for medicine. It means that people need each other to live. Everything you need in life, you can find in someone else. The only medicine you need is found in the support of another human being. This is something I’ve always known to be true, but I’ve never come this close to seeing it lived out so beautifully. The family unit is the strength of Senegalese culture. You are strong because your family is strong. The mutual dependence is a virtue here, not a something you grow out of like we do in the states. I’ve struggled a bit with the lack of independence here in Senegal. I have to tell my host mom where I’m going and I have to eat what ever is put in front of me. My home culture of independence juxtaposed to Senegalese culture of dependence can be a challenge sometimes, but from it I’m learning humility and community on a whole new level. In my host home, the children are everyone’s children, meals are eaten out of a common bowl and family takes precedent over almost everything else. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and it’s challenging my own values and norms. I never knew that saying yes to this program also meant I would gain a family and a community in the mean time. I’m only touching the surface of what I’ve learned here so far. I will be sharing more stories and insights from my time abroad here. Ba Ci Kanam! (Until next time!)