Tag Archives: reflection

what else?

When you’re 27
and your friends
are 78, or 82 –
you either

Accept your fate:
Your friends are
going to die, or
What Else?

This is the only Truth
that persists:
You are young
and people die.

And your death doesn’t
matter, so much.
It’s not that – it’s this:
It will never make sense.

Advertisements

real beauty sketches


When I was a shy 14 year old, a woman at the music camp I attended sat me down and told me I had a beautiful smile, a smile that would light up a room if I’d let it. She doesn’t know it, but she greatly impacted my life in a single compliment. For the first time, I understood that others saw me as more than a musty piece of art to be critiqued – I understood that my appearance could not be captured in a flat image, that I was capable of revealing something beyond physical beauty in the features of my face, and that the hundreds of expressions I chose to contort my face into had an impact on my level of attractiveness. I wasn’t always able to hold onto that truth when the day had been difficult and the stress breakouts lingered on, but it’s stuck with me for a decade.

At this stage, I think I have a fairly positive opinion of my appearance compared to many women. That being said, I’ve had moments of incredible melancholy (or is it melodrama?). I remember sobbing on the floor of my parents’ room after a particularly bad acne breakout and the subsequent havoc I wreaked on my face in an attempt to pick and scrub the flaws away. I convinced myself that I would be happy when my acne went away. My skin has cleared up significantly since then, but there’s always something else to pick at or whine about.

I didn’t anticipate that this video would impact me as much as it did. It’s important that it has nothing to do with styling or makeup or contouring. It’s about self perception versus the perception of regular people who have nothing to gain or lose by describing someone as they see them. As a result, they see through sunspots and acne and laugh lines and begin to search for the physical signs of character, kindness, and love.

There are so many blog posts on self love that I was hesitant to post on the subject myself. But the issue I have with the type of self love promoted by (many) beauty and fashion bloggers is that it remains superficial. Sure, there’s value in looking at myself and saying, “You are beautiful.” But there’s greater and more lasting value in looking at myself and saying, “Your face is fine, but what does your heart look like? What are you doing to reveal love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control in dimples and laugh lines and ruddy cheeks? Or, are you conveying sadness, anger, and jealousy in scowls and frowns and furrowed brows?”

Because character counts when it comes to beauty. It counts for more than we realize. And simply telling myself I’m a good person doesn’t make me one. I am beautiful because I’m taking steps toward making my heart beautiful, toward helping others see beauty in themselves and in the world around them. And if those statements are true, others will see my beauty, too.

The women in this video are perceived as beautiful because their surveyors see humility and goodwill in their mannerisms and hear kindness in their voices. Any physical flaws fade to the background.

week in review

week in review

Haven’t done one of these in awhile. It’s interesting (to me at least) to see how my blog transitions and adapts over time. But I really do want to record my life as it happens, however broad that description of events turns out to be, so that I can look back on it and remember more of the details instead of letting the mood or feeling of the months and years fog the memories as they were actually experienced.

This week, I (and sometimes Daniel):

  • experienced more snow
  • had a few lovely spring days
  • got my new glasses in the mail
  • got my car fixed
  • got fitted for running shoes (that I may buy eventually)
  • went thrift shopping
  • updated Water Lily Thrift
  • celebrated the first day of spring by wearing pastels and floral prints
  • made Brunswick Stew (it was a success)
  • went to a potluck dinner
  • drank too much coffee
  • acknowledged my tendency to buy too much
  • took in two highway scenic views and breathed the cold air
  • started working on a Fair Trade Charlottesville blog

– Reading: Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston; Sweatshops Still Make Your Clothes by Jake Blumgart for Salon
– Watching: Treme; The Wire
– Listening to: Mates of State
– Anticipating: Spring; starting my new job

freshly pressed

freshlypressedThank you to all who accessed my blog through WordPress’ Freshly Pressed feature and read, commented, liked, or followed. The homily I posted here was presented in my local congregation last Sunday. Since it was my first time presenting a sermon, I was nervous and emotional, but I made it through and felt moved in a way I didn’t expect by the message presented in the Biblical readings and through the process of speaking the words aloud. Helping the oppressed – especially those suffering within systems we can at least begin to change with minimal effort – is close to my heart; expressing that to an audience made it real to me in a way it hadn’t been before. I’m thankful that WordPress made it accessible to a wider audience.

I thought I’d provide a few resources if you’re interested in poking around the blog or exploring social justice issues further:

  • If you’re interested in social justice and fair trade issues, I encourage you to check out my ethical style blog, Style Wise, for retailers, resources, and inspiration.
  • If you’d like to know more about my journey through Lent, you can read my Lent post
  • For all other explorations, you can navigate by topic using the Categories menu on the left hand sidebar. 
  • If you’re interested in a thorough discussion on the sacredness of life, you may want to read The Sacredness of Human Life by David P. Gushee. I’m reading it now and find it uplifting and thought provoking.

I can’t promise that all my future posts will be as meaningful as the last one, but I’ll continue to keep an account of my life with honesty and (hopefully) a fair amount of reflection.

3 months in C-ville

October felt almost normal.

Daniel and I in our Halloween costumes

This month I (and sometimes Daniel):

  • enthusiastically attended my ballet classes
  • worked, one latte at a time, through growing crowds at the coffee shop
  • grieved (however briefly) over the loss of our mouse, Chantico, and bought a new mouse, Hecate.
  • suffered through an art film our friends insisted we watch
  • talked into the night on a front porch
  • attended the Black Voices Gospel Choir Fall concert, and loved it
  • ate at some good restaurants
  • went to my church’s women’s small group consistently
  • witnessed the Dalai Lama’s and Bruce Springsteen’s visits to downtown Charlottesville
  • met people from all over the world thanks to the universal need for caffeine
  • drank lots of spiced hot chocolate and cafes au lait
  • walked around a pleasant historic area downtown
  • got a library card
  • (somewhat) successfully fixed my car’s minor lock problem
  • finished decorating the living room and kitchen
  • thought a lot about feminism, sexism, and Christianity
  • appreciated the fall leaves
  • survived Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm
  • visited Washington DC for the first time
  • wrote two poems after a long hiatus from the craft (one, two)
  • attended a Halloween party
  • began watching Friday Night Lights
  • cemented local friendships
  • fretted over our finances
  • sold many items at Water Lily Thrift
  • enjoyed fall
  • got my first taste of what winter will be like
  • read 5+ books
  • dyed my hair dark brown

This month, for the first time since moving, felt normal. Many friendships are secure and openly mutual. We’re even invited to things on occasion! We spent less time exploring and more time inside, partially due to cooler weather. I grew more secure on a personal level and felt more satisfied in my free time activities (reading, writing poems, organizing, thrifting, etc.) I did feel a bit stir crazy and I’m currently brainstorming ways to fill my time. I can’t decide if I want to pursue a side job or if I should focus more on Water Lily Thrift. We’re walking a tightrope financially and spent a lot of time working out a budget and then trying to actually follow it.

I realized that what you leave behind can hit you hardest in the small ways. You want a friend to commiserate with on local events or weather annoyances. You hear of a new store opening and just wish you could helpfully tell someone about it or check it out with them. You enjoy the excitement of making new friends but miss the comfort of old friends. Your neighborhood is beautiful but you miss having a park within walking distance. You are tired of telling people what FSU stands for. You aren’t capable of giving people good directions within town. You begin to realize that the culture of your new location differs from your old home in just enough ways to make you feel like fish out of water (for instance, southern aristocratic culture is annoying).

All that being said, we really do like living here. People here are more like us in terms of background, beliefs, political leanings, and education than most citizens of Tallahassee and that’s made it easy to settle in.

See all monthly summary posts here.

one month in C-Ville

Yesterday marked the one month-iversary of our new life in Charlottesville. It’s incredible how quickly time has flown already. In most ways, Charlottesville already feels like home. But there are still loose ends to tie: settling into a church, unpacking and organizing the final traces of our move, finding a consistent group of friends to hang out with, and switching over my license and registration.

Jennifer (my old neighbor) and I reunited

In one month, I (and sometimes Daniel):

  • traveled over 12, stressful hours on rural streets and highways
  • visited every grocery store chain in town (and still can’t find one as delightful as Publix)
  • perused at least 7 antique shops
  • bought an armchair and a vintage mirror
  • bought a dozen or so books from local stores
  • ate at Bodo’s Bagels 4 times
  • interviewed for four jobs
  • changed my mind about my immediate career goals
  • got a job I love (for once)
  • visited UVA
  • felt consistently nauseous (it’s finally subsiding)
  • stretched fabric across a canvas and made two photo canvases and three pillow cases
  • bought pet rats (Surprise! I haven’t told very many people yet)
  • watched the meteor shower on a farm while listening to acoustic improvisation
  • assembled book cases
  • celebrated a birthday (Daniel’s)
  • saw a Bluegrass legend in concert
  • ate lots of delicious food
  • visited three churches
  • freaked out, a lot
  • revamped my vintage store
  • made some friends
  • toured the neighborhood
  • saw Obama in person
  • visited with a friend I haven’t seen since high school

I know – and fear – that as time inches along, I’ll stop caring about the little accomplishments, struggles, and tasks I experience each month; they’ll be compacted into a small blurb on the timeline of my life. But, looking over this list, I feel quite proud of how far we’ve come in one month. Moving, especially hundreds of miles away from your previous life, brings uncertainty – about identity, financial security, relationships. But I’ve reflected lately that moving away from an identity that is created for you over days and months and years creates a space for renewed liberty, a wider sphere of choice. I have a chance here to present myself and identify myself based upon who I am and what I believe and what interests me now without fear of rattling someone’s preconceived notions of who I am. I can take pride in what I have achieved. I can say to myself, “You are good enough,” for the first time in a year. The challenge will be to push toward that level of freedom and self-understanding as we scatter presuppositions and misunderstandings along our path in Charlottesville. What I’ve learned here in the last month is that we do have the power to change our lives. In fact, the daily task of life is simply making choices and living with them.