Monday, December 13, 2010

Dance of the Blind.

OK I know I have slowed down on my blogging these days and for that, I apologize... more to myself than my "readers".... whoever that may be. (Shout-out to the unknowns of this internet-infested world we live in, and I say that with all due respect.) I must confess, however, that in my unnecessary rebellion to the etiquette of consistent blogging, I have come across a ground-breaking truth: I not only enjoy writing, I need it. I desperately need it, and in some ways, I think we all do. Yes, I understand that I am a bit biased when it comes to writing. I think it is safe to say I have enough journals to fill up my entire refrigerator... ok maybe that wasn't the best example, but what I am trying to say is that I love writing.

Words are truly a gift and the ability that we have to string them together and tell each other stories or speak life into each other's worlds or express the goings-on of our hearts and minds is incredible. WOW. Can we just pause there for a moment?

For me, writing is a release of sorts, a release that can very well be this dramatic and messy process, but in the end, it is beautiful because it is a reflection of the conversation I have had with myself for so long, a conversation I did not even know I was having. Here I am so blind to my own emotions, living each day in the midst of them all as they dance around me in all of their truth.

Recently, I have realized that emotions in their rawest form do not and cannot lie. Yes, we as humans have mastered the ability to manipulate their expressions into the outer world as we hide our loneliness and our shame and our depression to the point where even we begin to sway to its catchy tune of compromise. What are we really dancing to, might I ask? What are the roots of our tears or our laughter or the restriction of both?

Through the art of writing, we can attempt to capture our emotions in their most vulnerable state. Try it. Go write something. Have yourself a journal night. Put your feet up and go sit by the fire.

Here, I'll even give you a head start. Here are some of my favorite tunes that I listen to when I am feeling a good writing day. PS- also very good road trip songs =) Enjoy. Happy Writing.

-The Wolves (Act I and II)- Bon Iver
-Fever Dream- Iron and Wine
-Boy From School- Grizzly Bear
-Suffocation Keep- The Slip
-En Gallop- Joanna Newsom
-Futile Devices- Sufjan Stevens




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is an education anyway?

So I was sitting down with my boss one day and out of nowhere we began to have a sincerely beautiful, yet challenging conversation about what education looks like today. To be quite honest, I did not say much. I could have listened to his thoughts unravel for days.

Excuse the generalizations... I know there are exceptions out there. Just keep in mind this is the majority of schools today and yes, I do believe creativity is being brought into the classroom in a unique way through some amazing and innovative educators out there... and I plan to highlight a few of those exceptions that I know of.

[The Boss]

"The educational system as a whole is not engaging kids. The way the system treats students is ridiculous. Their mentality says, pack 'em up, send 'em off, and hope the delivery works out somehow.

By doing this, we are fighting against youth culture instead of trying to understand youth culture. The fundamental problem is students gon't get to be part of the process. I mean, what did you think about the system?" he asked. "Did anyone ever ask you what you thought about it?

And we should never point the finger at students for these systematic problems.

Let's take a school that wants to increase graduation rates. Nine times out of ten, during that process, they are lowering their standards so that more kids can graduate. When the graduation numbers go up, it's not always a good thing.

We must ask ourselves, what are our motives? What is the purpose of high school? If it's not preparing you for life after high school, what's the point?

When 100% of your students go to college but only 10% actually graduate from college...hmm... that's not the college's fault. Were they prepared?

I mean, look at standardized tests. It is easy to measure great test takers but extremely hard to measure great thinkers. There's a difference. If you want to measure a great thinker, look at what he or she has contributed to society.. or plans to contribute.

Give them the keys to the car and let them drive. I mean, yes, show them the stop signs and yield signs and all that jazz but give them some control of their own education. Give them ownership of it.

Everyone in the States has been a student at some point, so everyone is an expert. Yet even the most innovative thinkers put school in a box and say, ok bell rings at this time... only five minutes to change class, we'll put the blinding fluorescent lights here, and yes, only white walls..."

SO...

Take away point- Let's invite creativity back into the classroom and give the students more of a say in things, because let's not forget, it is their education. Who knows? They might have some pretty decent ideas. I mean, didn't you when you were a student? =)

I thought I would end this post with a few of some of my favorite schools that I believe truly see education as more than just a classroom and textbook kind of experience....

  • School in the Woods- Colorado Springs, CO. I was fortunate to see this school in action last fall. It was such a rewarding experience for me. Check it out- (http://www.asd20.org/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=11819&)
  • Harpeth Hall- Nashville, TN. I heard a speaker from this school at a panel discussion I attended for work and so I looked it up as soon as I got home. Immediately, I thought of going back to school for a degree in Education just so I could try and work here. (http://www.harpethhall.org)
  • Big Picture School- just started one in Nashville! I have never visited but am highly curious... (http://www.bigpicture.org)
  • Capitol School- Tuscaloosa, Alabama Yes I am from Tuscaloosa, and no, I did not attend this school... except for their day camp one summer when I was six and I pitched a fit because I did not get seconds on chocolate milk.... anyway, I have heard some amazing things and have a great deal of respect for this school. (http://www.thecapitolschoool.com)
  • And on a college level... I am sorry but I have to brag on the Interdisciplinary Studies program I was so fortunate to be a part of at the University of Alabama. Wow. I really cannot speak highly enough about this program. I miss being in the classroom for this very reason... Meet "New College"- Tuscaloosa, Alabama (http://www.as.ua.edu/nc/)- I am on the homepage walking across the bridge!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"take IN the trash"

So after I enjoy a weekend of camping in the great outdoors, I typically come home and look forward to a refreshing, hot shower. And just like that, all of the smell, sweat, and germs are gone in a matter of no time.

Now compare that experience to this...

In Guatemala City, generations of families LIVE (literally, LIVE) in the city dump. Many of these Guatemalans never see life outside of the dump. They never get their shower and I doubt that thought even crosses their mind. No, they are worried about surviving another day. Another day in the garbage dump. To know that human beings live this way is shocking and terrifying and disturbing on so many different levels. I can only imagine the psychological effects this has on their lives. As outcasts even in their own city and culture, they most likely see themselves as trash. These Guatemalans who deserve to experience real, authentic joy and purpose in their lives from a God who sees them and knows them as irreplaceable TREASURE wake up to the sight of hundreds upon hundreds of vultures swarming over their heads in search of dead and rotting human flesh and animals to feast on. I can't imagine the types of things they use for a pillow at night... perhaps an old cereal box or a pile of sticky candy wrappers, whatever they can get a hold of for the night.

Tonight, I had the privilege of seeing the film, Reparando (http://www.reparandomovie.com/) at the Belcourt Theater here in Nashville. At the end of the film, audience members were told that we are now accountable for what we have seen. "You now know too much not to do something about it," we were informed.

And yes, now you are informed. Although hopefully, this is only the beginning as you and I both continue to research this unfortunate reality and begin to dream of potential solutions. And with a problem this enormous, it may take lots and lots of little solutions. But start dreaming...

Share this story. Share this knowledge because knowledge is power.

Here are a few facts to get you started...

  • 10,500 people live and work in the Guatemala City dump as a means for survival. 6,400 of them are children. (http://www.pottershouse.org.gt/statistics.html)
  • 53% of the children under age 13 that work in the dump do not attend school. 74% of teens between 13 and 18 that work in the dump do not attend school. (http://www.pottershouse.org.gt/statistics.html)
  • Malnutrition from childhood results short stature. Rats, snakes, roaches, ants and lice flourish in the garbage. Dogs and vultures compete with human beings for the food that enters the garbage. (http://www.pottershouse.org.gt/lifestyle.html)
  • Glue sniffing is also common problem among dump dwellers, as it gives a temporary high and deadens the smell of the dump. (http://dbooth.org/guat2000/small/day3_1.htm)




Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mint Tea Mistake

As much as I would love to claim that I am the utmost sophisticated and trendy latte lover, I am not. The truth is out. I am no tea drinker or coffee drinker nor have I ever been. Yes, I spend hours upon hours in coffee shops as many of you can attest to. But in the midst of my extended stay in the coffee shop choice of the day and the time comes for me to indulge, I do so with milk and a cookie. For whatever reason, this decision never fails to make the cashier laugh as they give me the same exact look I get so often when I sip out of my Spider Man water bottle... that look that says, "And.. how old are you?" Although, I must admit, earlier this week when I gave my usual order of a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk, the cashier smiled and said, "That sounds really good right now." (And yes, it was.)

Sadly, however, as the weather has transitioned into fall and the temperature has dropped here in the lovely Middle Tennesee, my throat has been itching like a fire ant invasion and my sinuses have most definitely seen better days. I am sure you all can relate.

So I gave in and bought myself a mint tea in hopes to cure my cold with its warmth and fresh mint-iness. I return to my seat, and am suddenly reminding myself of a shameless, disastrous child at her 3-year-old birthday party... you know, the fat kid who can't seem to wait for everyone to sing "Happy Birthday" before they dive face first into the massive ocean of icing. Yep, that's me.

Finally, after a few ridiculous minutes of continuously glancing impatiently at it as if it was scheming to run away, I finally pick it up to take my first sip, ready and thrilled to receive my long-awaited "cure".

...And.... half a second later, a waterfall of tea spills all over my body because of its terrifying and surprising burn. (This probably wouldn't be a surprise to the typical and yes, normal tea drinker.) No joke, my lips still cannot stop shaking. As a result, my sickness as well as the newly formed bumps on my tongue will persist and I will be in even more pain than I was before as my entire body recovers from this mint tea explosion.

Now I know why I never try this.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Day in the Park




Cartwheels and handstands galore. Girls sprinting full force into this fresh Sunday afternoon breeze, their hair chasing behind in every direction. Barefoot is today's rule, no shoes necessary. It's for your own good, I tell them with my eyes. Besides, this grass is terribly inviting.

Bodies twisting, spinning, racing, resting, both together and alone as people are scattered all across the peripheral. Playfulness is today's theme, I have decided. Skaters and bikers decorate the outer edges of the park. A celebrative hug is shared between an aging father and his beloved daughter. I can sense by their lingering embrace that this marks some kind of special reunion. With even just another second of observation, I can also sense that even in the midst of all their joy, the father's dreadful day has finally arrived as he realizes his little girl has grown up too fast.

Tiny drops of sunlight collect into each leaf's palm, and together, they hold up the light that gives color to the day. And then out of pure impulsion and a hanging sense of curiosity, several leaves simultaneously dive into the sea of the wind as they drift about effortlessly, painting a moving picture of raw beauty. And they dance in complete surrender to the choreography of autumn's breath.

Fall in Nashville has officially begun.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grace beyond Words.

All this time on my hands lately has made way for lots of reading, writing, and playing music which are probably three of my favorite things, so although it has been a slow month for me, it has been beautiful. Here is my version of one of my absolute favorite songs, and not just because it is by Sufjan Stevens. The lyrics are so incredible as they express Christ's immense love for us. Human words cannot express this undeniable love and human minds will never fully grasp it while we are here on earth.

In order to be in relationship with us, in order to be "alone with us", Christ sacrificed His innocent and blameless life so that God could know us and be our Father despite our sin.

I am telling you, once you allow yourself to be loved like this, there is nothing greater.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RucfsfssyVw

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance.


This was the result of a much-needed slumber party with my new friend, Naomi. After a discouraging and mentally exhausting day full of job searching and job waiting and job suck-the-life-out-of-me-let-me-go-back-to-school...ing, I was in desperate need of a break.

It seems that with each year I gain, I feel more and more pressure from the outside world to become more "serious" , more "mature", more like a "grown-up"... whatever that means. While I am gaining wisdom and experience with my years, I feel absolutely no need to lose any sense of playfulness and spontaneity. Honestly, I don't know if it is possible.

Please, for ALL of our sanity, never lose the child within you.

Whenever I see men dressed up in business suits or women in their clickity-sounding, uncomfortably-looking heels, I can't help but wonder if they still climb trees every once in a while or run around barefoot for no apparent reason or make dance videos with friends.

I don't care how "serious" you are, you do not have it all figured out. So please stop acting like it and make a dance video.




Saturday, September 4, 2010

Redefining what is Comfortable

It is amazing to me how comfortable we choose to be in our lives. Comfort is easy and accessible and encouraged in our culture. And because of this, we miss out on so much. There is so much opportunity to touch lives ALL around us.

We do not have to go overseas to find poverty. We do not have to go overseas to find single moms with not enough hands or enough time to do all that they desire for their kids. We do not have to go overseas to find a starving people- physically, intellectually, and spiritually starving.

My roommate, in describing East Nashville to me last night, explained, "There are two parts of East Nashville... there's the 'trendy, hipster, up-and-coming' part... and then there's this..."

Check it out for yourself. I hope to go visit this family soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRGac7eHKgc&eurl+1


And for my Tuscaloosa friends, here is another example of a couple who has become traditionally and culturally "uncomfortable" in order to taste true community.

Go visit them sometime. They are doing some amazing things.

http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20100328/NEWS/100329555

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nocturnal Romanticism

I am beginning to let go of my overbearing, belittling, and exhausting crush on this world. And honestly, I had no idea I even had one. Like an awkward pre-teen drowning in her secret obsession over Zack Effron and having it tragically exposed to the masses, haunting any hopeful chance for some self-esteem, I have now been rudely awakened to this disturbing reality.

Its grip has held me so tightly that even the strain of the infamous "Indian Burn", (a child's worst nightmare when big brothers are involved), cannot compare to its strength. And finally, finally, my X-ray Vision is being refined and I am learning to look beyond its temporary glamour.

This world, in all of its beauty, in all of its emptiness, is temporary. It is temporary, it is short-lived, it is powerless, it is cold-hearted, it is shallow, it is deceiving. And yet I, WE, fall madly in love with it. We crave its attention. We romanticize its value. We prop it up on a pedestal and become entranced by its superficial splendor. And because of this, we are blinded.

We are like the predator searching for its prey, our hearts beating wildly, uncontrollably as we wait in bitter and reluctant anticipation for our prey to make the slightest move so we can pounce. And like a bat in all of its genius, sending out sound frequencies to locate its prey, we send out anything, everything, in order to be heard, in desperate attempt to be accepted. We wait for our echo. And it comes. And we respond. Impulsively, our fast twitch muscles react to the sound as we dive full-force into the star-lit night in search of fulfillment. But just like the predator will later seek more prey once hunger strikes again, we will seek more "fulfillment". We will send out more calls, hoping for that echo. Oh please let there be an echo, we beg.

I am now beginning to understand just how broken I am. My heart is like broken glass pieces shattered all over the kitchen floor. And I hide in shame as I sweep it away, terrified that its eruptive ruin was somehow discovered.

But we must realize that all of our hearts have shattered onto the kitchen floor. All of our hearts have been broken into tiny pieces again and again and again. And yet, we still hide. We tremble at this loud explosion and the last thing we want is for our secret to be known, for the noise of its destruction to be heard. So we drown out the shattering interruptions with our unnecessarily noisy lives.

I am slowly being reintroduced to the Gospel.