Monthly Archives: December 2010

2011? Forizzle?

T-minus 6 hours and 15 minutes until take off. Please buckle your seatbelt and return your tray to the upright position.  2010…good year bad year? I mean is there really such thing as a full-out bad year? Debatable.

However, I think this year specifically is one for the record books for a number of our friends. Many of us have experienced the transition from the collegiate world to the corporate world. Some have experienced transitions in love, life, and key decisions about our futures. Regardless of your path, I think its something to say that just four years after high school graduation at the beloved E-High, our bonds remain strong. I know we comment on this quite a bit, but it never fails to amaze me.

As we say goodbye to a very successful year in each of our lives, I predict major changes in the upcoming year. My New Years Resolution then, in accordance with Molls’ post, is both to love more and to maintain the strong bond with our group of friends that has already gotten me through so much. I love you all and Happy New Year!

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And to all a good night

Wow, what a night that turned into.  With all of the craziness of the holiday season and especially for Jes and I around Christmas it was nice to see everybody having a great time.  I am still recovering from the headache and stomach ache from drinking too many delicious beverages but it was worth it.  The highlight of the night for me was definitely ‘Butt-Darts’.  Nothing brings a group closer together than rooting for another persons skills win a quarter and their butt.  Another great highlight to last night was seeing the Shepkas!  I think its so cool that our group of friends still like to hang out…and I think it’s even cooler that the Shepkas hang with us from time to time as well.  Well today is my friday and ibcouldnt be happier, I getbto spend the rest of this week with two goldens, a couch,  and last but certainly not least Jes!   Cheers everbody!!!

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The Question Master

It’s a joke across my various networks of friends that I am a relentless and incessant inquirer into people’s souls, starting conversations with ridiculous Inquisition-like musings (“Tell me the 3 most important facts about yourself.”) that change every few weeks.

In November, the question became, “On what principle(s) do you think the universe operates?”

Cue bizarre looks, eyerolls and sheepishly uttered I-don’t-knows.

I’m still waiting for a few answers (you know who you are! It’s been a month and a half!), but I got everything from “randomness” to “science” to “contagious energies” to “humour.”  Let me be clear in saying that this is not me asking for a profession of faith (though you could give a religious response if you wanted to); I was simply asking why people thought the world functioned the way it did day-to-day.

When the question was thrown back at me (as it so often is now…people are catching on!), I gave my go-to response: LOVE.  I took a course on domestic violence my last semester at Loyola where we examined “love”– what it meant, where it came from and what its byproducts were.  One thread of discussion led me to a conclusion that made so much sense to me: even the most destructive emotions and feelings (fear, anger, hatred, devastating sadness) are based on love.  They are not opposites of love; they are derivatives.  (The opposite, FYI, would be apathy and lack of any sort of passion or commitment.)  We feel those other sentiments when we become so deeply devoted to a person, an idea, WHATEVER, that we cannot imagine our lives without it.

I just finished reading the newly released This I Believe: On Love and have been so touched by so many stories.  (I am such a sap.)  The one still resonating with me (read it all here) tells a story of a woman’s children who give so fully of themselves in so many ways—verbally, emotionally, physically—and their material kindness is, proportionally, is more than most of us ever consider to give.

With the holidays, I always feel deeply grateful for all I have (and could have) and simultaneously overwhelmed with how much I have that I don’t need/use.  I always consider giving away so many of those things that are in excess in my life, and somehow another year always flies by before I ever ACTUALLY follow through.

That TIB story that touched me so deeply ends by saying, “If we all took the time to love as innocently as a child, what would come of this world? If we took the time to give someone our favorite doll or our tooth fairy money, what difference would that make to another?” and that made me think about how exactly the love of children differs from the love I try to practice in my daily life.  I realized that, with children, there are no factors that limit their love.  They are not worried about budgeting or maintaining their own quality of life or keeping what they earn; they see someone’s needs being unmet and they give part of what they have to ensure that those needs come closer to being met, even if only for a few hours, simply because they are a fellow person.

The story and my reflections led me to think about what is inhibiting how I love, who I love, and why I love certain people without fully loving all people.  I think new year’s resolutions, if we make them at all, should be a goal set to put new practices and lifestyles into place that last all year long, even after the holiday glow has worn off from the rest of society.  Mine just might be an investigation of what is holding me back from loving others as much as I am able to.

What is holding you back?

“Love is the only rational act.” –Stephen Levine

For more TIB essays/books or to write your own: This I Believe

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Giving Against the Grain

The past few years, I’ve really begun struggling (internally & externally) with HOW & WHAT we choose to give for special occasions: birthdays, Christmas/holidays, weddings/anniversaries, & even in everyday opportunities to support, congratulate, or comfort the people in our lives.

FYI: I say “our” even though this post is about “me” & my habits because I think that the hardest part of the tug-of-war battle I’ve been waging is that it is part of a larger (ok, gargantuan) trend of impulsive (& compulsive) overconsumerism, but I won’t dive into that trigger topic right now…

In Spring 2009 I was introduced to The Advent Conspiracy, a movement started by churches in the name of Christmas that spoke out for social justice purposes (& has incredibly creative trailers on YouTube).  Turns out, the U.S. of A. spends 450 BILLION DOLLARS on Christmas…EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Advent Conspiracy stands behind a specific cause: the human right for everyone to have access to fresh, clean, drinking water, an undertaking estimated to cost around $10 billion globally– ONE FORTY-FIFTH OF WHAT WE SPEND FOR CHRISTMAS.

Again, EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Anyway, one is able to buy gift cards to enable others to support international water projects under way, & I love that one of us (non-blogger JSho) bought said gift card for me last Christmas.  I was able to support projects in THREE different countries with the donation made in my name; it was one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve evr gotten because I was able to share something I use far too much of and rarely think twice about having immediate access to.  Someone’s gift to me, in effect, literally became LIFE-giving to dozens, maybe even hundreds, of others. #AWESOME.

Since hearing about AC, I haven’t been able to shake this idea that our giving should not stay between the gift-giver and the recipient, because guess what (hello, globalization!)?  NOTHING THAT WE DO SOLELY AFFECTS US. That transaction does not exist in a vacuum between those 2 people.  The goods we choose to buy affect people all over the world.  The services we purchase affect people and stigmas and standards in modern culture.  Ripple effects are rampant & practically tangible in our shrinking world, & that is obvious in both good & bad ways almost everywhere we look (/google/watch/read/travel).

Anecdote & point of all this: I am now trying, when possible, to consider a few things in my gift-giving.  First, who is the recipient & about what are they passionate?  Second, where is there a “hunger” for those passions in the world, & what nonprofits are taking a creative approach to sating that need?  Third, what is something that person supports but would not normally spend their OWN money on?

I did this for my oldest sister, beautiful red-headed Lyndsay in LA.  She & I have really connected the past few years over the issue of domestic violence (“that’s my major,” #miamiu haterz).  Last year she started volunteer work with Sojourn at the OPCC.  Time is a very valuable gift for Lynds, & I know she is not often able to financially show her prioritization of the cause or the org, so that was my first thought– donate to Sojourn in her name.

But Lyndsay is also an artist in many senses of the word; she studied musical theatre in college & has always been dexterous in visual art.  She’s recently been latching onto ideas of art therapy for those who’ve survived DV.   To again drive home this idea that we have the entire world available to us at our fingertips, I should say that I simply googled a few key words & stumbled into a gallery/studio that uses creation & art therapy to empower DV survivors (children & women), located literally SIX driving minutes from Lyndsay’s front door.  The org, A Window Between Worlds, also lets you donate on behalf of others, & a $25 gift sponsors an entire class for a survivor.  Needless to say, someone will be able to participate all because of my sister’s belief in the power of artistic expression.  I found an article about art therapy and printed off info about the next exhibit being held at the gallery in March and included those with the donation receipts & a personal note.

I was worried about Lyndsay receiving this gift with open arms.  Lynds is far from close-minded or shallow, but she loves funky fresh, super hip, eclectic things so much & doesn’t often indulge in “stuff” for herself.  Our cultural tradition of buying-to-give made me so nervous that what I’d given wouldn’t seem like much because it was nothing but 6 pieces of paper that fit in a white envelope & cost a mere 44 cents to ship across the country.  I crossed my fingers that the power I felt in such a gift would be conducted from my heart to hers & waited to hear from her on Christmas.

Turns out, she hated it.  (JUST KIDDING! Happy ending time!) I got a text from Lynds at 10am PST that said, “Your present just made me sob! Thank you for such a touching, thoughtful gift!” Her gift to me wasn’t far off, either: her card announced “a gift that gives twice for a girl who wouldn’t have it any other way” and arrived with the GUESS shirt that was sold in the fall to benefit Sojourn during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I guess where my faith needs work right now is in the belief that more of us are on the same page than I sometimes give credit for.  And while Lyndsay & I were SO on the same page that we even supported the same organization, I don’t know of any important people in my life who would protest a gift to an important cause made in their name.

Happy holidays, and keep giving all year long.

 

For more startling facts on global water access: water facts

For other neat charities to support: 12 ways of giving

For a friend’s beautiful take on the holidays: giving presence