I am not a housewife.

At least not right now, and not in the sense that everybody seems to want to associate with such.

And I am happy for your husbands as well, as they have chosen with you to do the out-of-home work and you will take care of the housework. That is so cool. You get to spend time investing in the home you’re creating together, and he gets to “bring home the bacon.”

Some of you get to spend time with your children, get to take an entire day and devote it to laundry. This is hard work. Let me reiterate. This is hard work and by no means am I bashing a homemaker’s role, you work so hard and the only difference is that you don’t leave your home to do your job. I hear of some women who take their time at home to, when not keeping the house, invest in neighbors, bake a beautiful dish for dinner. These are such beautiful things that you get to experience.

I just got married, too. I’ve been married for three and a half weeks, and it has been wonderful. We took a week and a half to just enjoy each other’s company, learn how to live with another person, and then real life started up again. Real life for me looks so different than the real life than for most of the other newlywed women in my life. I leave for my job at the same time as my husband. We kiss each other outside of the apartment as we head our separate ways into two separate cars to two separate towns to do two separate jobs. It takes a lot of effort and mindset-shifting to approach Facebook with the same affection I did before I had this opportunity to compare.

This is not a value statement.

It’s just isolating, in a fashion. That it seems that no new wives I know experience their days the way I do. Both my husband and I come home, one of us cooks dinner, one of us cleans up afterward. Nobody really has time to vacuum, do laundry, cook, declutter, or wash the poor car that still has “just married!” all over it. And we make do. No, we do so much more. We thrive. I love my marriage and I love my husband. And I am a woman in the workforce.

We are equals, in so many ways, my husband and I. And for now, I love our life exactly how it is. Again, this works for us right now. This will likely change. But we will continue to see each other as equals and love each other sacrificially. We both come home from work tired, prepare dinner tired, and clean up tired, but it is a life I would never trade.

I don’t have much time to create art, or concentrate on home maintenance. There is no point to this page, only my observations and plea for an empathy.

I am not a housewife. At least not right now.

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Nature (written between 2011 and 2013 – not sure when)

What I do know, or what I speculate of you…

is that you have a curiosity and a wanderlust that are insatiable

And what you do – the reason you like relationships, perhaps

is that without someone to tie you down, you

will never stop.

You

You will keep on wanting more and more freedom and lands to see and you will never be satisfied with your current achievements.

Because it’s not your nature

“You are not a burden.” Daniell Koepke

“The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect, and still be deserving of compassion and kindness.”

— Daniell Koepke

Recovery. (posted 9 January 2013)

Let’s see how far we’ve come.

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Recovery.

The word alone hardly means anything, and to those who accomplish such a feat it means something vastly different based solely on what this factor is which you are recovering from. The word alone could take on any meaning it is given, ranging from the recovery from a physical illness to a quick recovery from a sports-related injury to a long, drawn-out recovery from a mental disease.

I suppose I should pause to tell you that this has been on my mind for months, ever since the idea of recovering crossed my mind. You see, for over half a year I have deprived my body from the nutrients it needs to function normally and have been so far educating myself on what it’s going to take to get back to a point where I can operate completely once again.

But there’s something about being ill, not being able to work out, being able to eat whatever I want because I must regain weight and therefore energy. Something about the attention. The panic that begins to set in as I eat a lot that makes eating a lot somehow okay. The encouragement the people around me feel obligated to give me as I finish the last bite of a large plate, because they fear I will cry, panic, do all I can to get rid of the nutrients in my stomach, waiting to be dispersed into the rest of my body. They fear my reaction. I am not who I was, I’m ill. I’m diseased. And they worry.

This is exactly why I must recover. Whether driven by fear or by something else, I will do what I can to keep from becoming one with this anorexic identity I’ve created for myself.

The word itself is seen as a positive trend – a constant improvement. This is far from accurate in the world of recovery I speak of. Because there is a voice I’m divorcing myself from. A voice which tells me constantly I do not deserve food. That I am hideous, worthless, and the only way I will be able to make a name for myself is to make this disease for myself a reality. Which it has. To avoid numbers, I will content myself with stating the fact that I am underweight. Not dangerously, but enough to stop a variety of healthy bodily functions from occurring. This scares me. Recovering is long. Recovering is hard. Recovering cannot be accomplished on my own. I fear food, but only sometimes. And less than I have in the past. I dislike the feeling of fullness. I am not used to it. Hunger is familiar.

Familiarity. Now there’s another word that is associated with positive trending, with health. We love to sit and talk amongst family in our living rooms, with a fire crackling or a storm letting loose outside our humble home. But familiarity becomes the enemy when those who are afflicted with “the voice” (which I will name Ana) cannot escape it. Familiarity is hunger, familiarity is emptiness, familiarity is weakness.

The months leading up to my personal recovery were spent in a daily battle between Ana and myself. She told me I was worthless. I had to run, every day, to earn breakfast. I measured minutes to allow for the food I would then carefully measure out for myself. I was intent on losing as much as I could. I loved to feel the control, it made me feel perfect. But only for a fleeting moment before Ana would challenge me once again to see that number decrease a pound again the next day. At a fourth of what my body needed to maintain the health I used to have, this was an easy task to accomplish. But soon it took its toll. It hurt me every day. I passed organic chemistry while under Ana’s influence and poisoned words. I excelled and earned my name a line on the Dean’s List for my school. My body hated me every day for it, though. I passed out twice, once while climbing stairs (because if I didn’t use the stairs I failed, of course) and once while dancing in the moonlight with a friend at midnight.

Ana chased that friend away as well. She depressed me. She created an environment of anxiety which surrounded each bite I took and guilted me into turning down a myriad of exciting events because there would be temptations and the potential for failure everywhere I went. If I ate, I failed. If I gained even a tenth of a pound, I failed. Her voice still hurts, the words she’s been telling me for nearly a year still bite through my skin and enter my veins.

Ana had been around, disguised as a lovely little girl who ran with me and spent each day telling me how great I was doing losing weight, eating protein, and got unusually excited every time the scale dropped more than expected. I thought nothing of it until her mood turned sour. She began to chastize me for gaining weight. I reasoned with her. “Ana, people lose weight, people gain weight. It happens.” But Ana wouldn’t hear it, she told me calmly to do better tomorrow. I listened, reluctantly. She praised me the next day for losing again. Her affirmations grew in my life from exciting to important, and from important to the only thing I sought.

I pleaded with her to reconsider, to tell me I was beautiful. After all, she used to think I was beautiful when I completed a long run, and would let me eat protein bars and cinnamon rolls, and everything I loved. Her kindness diminished quickly and she grew more and more angry, every day demanding more of me. We wouldn’t ride a bus anywhere or drive to any location. We walked, we wandered, and to this day I hope I can wander and leave her behind.

Sometimes, I get a glimpse of my life before anorexia took over.

I see the sunrise and remember why I wake up early. I walk outside and embrace the wind without huddling in my blankets and black coffee. Sometimes I can conceptualize running outside for the exhilaration instead of the body Ana tells me I must attain. I crave health. I crave the smiles, the heartfelt laughter which used to be so familiar to me. I know it’s still there, that freedom, that beauty.

This is recovery.

The knowledge that perfection, that image which poisons the minds it enters, is neither possible nor beautiful. The understanding of beauty as the nature of a person’s soul, not the appearance of their legs, stomach, even face. The belief that a smile is the most lovely thing I could wear, that my worth is not measured in inches between my thighs, ounces I’ve lost since last week, or size of my clothes. These things are last in the mind of God, so should be not even considered in my own mind.

And that’s Ana’s cue to get the hell out of my life.

I haven’t brought God up yet, and unfortunately I have no explanation other than I am human and do not yet understand his love for me. But he is precisely why it doesn’t matter what I look like, how small or large I am, or whether I weigh less than the other girls in the room.

My worth should never be decided due to the constant comparisons I make with those around me. My worth is decided by the creator of the universe. He has already deemed me priceless, bought at the ultimate price, one I can’t even begin to describe because of how incredible it is. Why would I bother with these images, with these foreign concepts of worth which are so far from what I was created to understand and live for? My purpose is simple – glorify God. Not my own body, nor was I made to hate that body which was created, for me, as a vessel for that simple and truly perfect task.

I am such an undeserving, ungrateful, selfish human. That’s the truth. It’s not Ana talking, nor is it my own conception. It is the undeniable fact which led me to be cursed and directed toward death.

What I fail to see, and Ana actively blocks from my mind, is the life offered to me, which frees me from all these hateful and hurtful ideas. God did this for me. For ME. That’s his infinite and beyond-comprehension love for me. That I should not suffer with this disease. That I should not die. That I should live a full and glorifying life, healthy so I can love Him and be that lively, healthy glowing light which points inevitably to his love for me. God… only by your grace. I love you.

Ana has no place when you rule my life. I love you.

Thank you.

You are beautiful.

Posted on Facebook 7 September 2012. Let’s see how far we’ve come.
“Your beauty, just like your capacity for life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable. Day after day, countless people across the globe get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance. 

Get off the scale! I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life. 

It’s true, the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!” 

― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

My Child

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Don’t cry, my child. I’m here. I never left you.

Don’t fear, my child. I’ve sworn to protect you.

Don’t think, my child, that I’ve abandoned you.

Because the truth is, my beautiful child,

I love you more than all the birds that fly. All the animals that crawl.

You’re more precious to me than jewels.

You mean more to me than any near-flawless flower in existence.

I paid an unimaginable price for your life, my child.

I can’t bear to see you hurt because of the world this creation has become.

Please don’t think it was in My will for you to undergo unbearable anguish.

Remember the words I gave you in 1 Corinthians, through Paul.

Remember chapter 10 verse 13. I am with you always.

I love you now and forever

Remember me.

Remember.

Smaller Is Not Better.

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To my friends, men and women.

Smaller is not better.

Smaller is only smaller. Smaller means squeezing into smaller holes or under tables. Smaller means fewer square inches of clothing to cover you or a shorter bed to sleep on. When did a moral value become part of that equation? When did a small girl become better than a big girl?

Remember when you were growing up, when you gained inches and pounds and people congratulated you? When someone looked at you, said “who’s such a big girl?” and it was a good, even praised, occurrence? When you finally got out of little girl clothes and into grown-up clothes? And how those were such good qualities and achievements. Remember.

No longer is that the case. As young as eight, seven, six, girls are told they are big, that they are not worthwhile because of this, that they must change their bodies’ natural progressions and growth to fit what’s demanded of them and what will continue to be demanded of them for the rest of their miserable lives. How we’re now congratulated on achieving that shape, that size, which should not be aimed for by anyone past puberty. Then how we’re chastised for embracing our own shape and told that, if we’re ever to reach a point in which we are praised again or told we are doing well, it will be when we look once again like little girls.

But only part of us may look like a little girl! No. The waist must be that of a little girl. The hips must be that of a grown woman. The thighs must be those of a little girl. The breasts. If you have little girl breasts, you have nothing. So those must be of a grown woman, and the bigger, the better.

Where did this sick, twisted, absurd concept come from? Why is it here and what point does it serve? I know all this but still, when I see a young woman about my age walk through a coffee shop or down an aisle of a grocery store, I am hit. With a twinge, with a pang, with jealousy, with I’ll-never-be-good-enoughs. It doesn’t matter how much you fight it, we’re not going to be able to crawl our big bodies over the rubble that’s been left us to sort through for truth. The rubble that says we’re worthless, we have nothing, we are nothing, without those bodies of supermodels who have the bottom ribs taken out. Taken out for what, you may ask? Why, to take up less room, after all. Because smaller is better. It will always be better and it has always been better.

But wait. Take a look at that and then take a look at history. Decades between 1900 and today saw changes back and forth between emphasis of curvy figures and boyish, prepubescent shapes (or lack of shapes). Before the twentieth century, corsets, enhancing a woman’s hips and breasts, had been popular for half of a millennium. Look at how far we are coming. Women today are emphasizing muscles, strength instead of waifish weakness, and an independence instead of need for someone to hold her up while she struggles to breathe. Women, we are in the brand new era of loving ourselves more than we ever have and more than we can imagine. We are going to take this and run with it today and tomorrow and this next year and the one after that. We have this chance to seize our femininity by the horns (or… whatever you want to grab it by) and run with it.

So if you have the small body, congratulations! You have a body and it is beautiful. If you have a big body, congratulations! You have a body and it is beautiful. If you’re right in the middle or leaning one way or another, congratulations! You have a body and it is beautiful.

(to be continued?)

This “Peace” we speak of – where in the world is it?

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Alright. So it’s the Christmas season. Peace, joy, love, cold, latté, these are all words thrown this way and that during this time. But peace isn’t that easy to come by, especially when, speaking to my situation alone, exams haven’t even finished and Christmas is in eight days. Zero shopping is done (fortunately, I’ve already made the decision to not even try this year). From any perspective, I’m in a tight spot.

The word “peace” is defined by the online dictionary as “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity.”

Just stop for a minute and reflect on that sentence. Or reflect on the one you just read: do I even know how to reflect, anymore? I had to ask myself that question as I wrote out the definition. I don’t know that I do. Friends of mine describe me as “always busy” or “never available” and I get a kick out of it. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I’ve made my schedule so complex and convoluted that I’ve lost touch with the people who mean the most to me. The most twisted part, though, I think, is that I look at my schedule and don’t know how to weed things out that aren’t necessary. Yes, there are unnecessaries in my life. What are they?

Well, for starters, I wake up at 5:40 every morning and arrive at the gym “no later than 6:15” so that I can finish the “full” workout that I’ve designated as adequate for myself. I could cut that short or even out from time to time, give myself time to wake up slowly or time to take a deep breath and stretch or do yoga or drink a cup of coffee or talk to a loved one. The list goes on.

Another un-necessity would be the late night post-work or post-study snack. That’s not to say I should not eat if I’m hungry. But if I didn’t feel the need to down something right after a long day and right before rest, maybe rest would be more fulfilling.

Peace was my word this year. At the beginning of 2014 I chose a theme word, because it’s always been a topic with which I struggle. My boyfriend asked me the other day if I thought I did a good job applying it to my year. My only response was that I have definitely grown in it but I have a long way to go. Completely accurate. I caution those who read this that it’s not going to come together quickly. Sometimes peace will only come in tiny doses, in the deep breath before a big exam, or in the hug from your mom or sister or son when you see them this Christmas, or in the thirty minutes before you fall asleep with which you decided to read your favorite novel instead of read distressing news or cram for a final exam.

It goes hand in hand with trust. Trust that you’ve done what you can and the rest isn’t up to you anymore. For myself, that’s a trust in God that no matter what score I get or how well I argue a point or how well I dress today or if I gain weight over the holiday or if I exercise for x amount of time versus x plus an hour. Trust that Matthew 6:33 speaks the truth, that if I seek first validation in my identity as a child of God, then everything is under his control. Then I’m not responsible for more than is asked of me.

But there’s another aspect of peace.

The internal peace that comes from walking away. If you’re engaged in something distressing. Something disturbing. Something terrifying. Something that’s draining you, that won’t benefit you if you perpetuate. Something that supplies anxiety and distraction. What good is it to stick around? I’m sitting here in Caribou Coffee drinking blueberry tea and asking my headache to please leave.

I’ve walked away from hardly anything this year, in the beginning of the situation, and it takes a complete and undeniable exhaustion for me to say “hey, maybe this isn’t such a good place to be, not having a spare moment to sit and reflect.” I definitely look at that sentence and think, well duh. But how easy is it to let that just become the status quo, without intentional moments of respite?

So my challenge for myself, and for all who read these words, is choose and apply a word that can help you remember to take care of yourself in the year 2015. I’ve already chosen my word: rest. It’s such an easy word to say but takes real intention and determination and grace to step back from a situation. To think about how rest can look and feel every single day. Let’s see how this feels, two thousand fifteen.

Sometimes I Do Coherent Things

For now, dear readers, I’m writing and studying for the final exams that are headed my way. So instead of creative writing, you get to hear my thoughts on intelligence, creativity, and what it really means to be intelligent.

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So. What Is Intellingence, Really?

Take into account three factors of modern-day views on intelligence: you have IQ or SAT (or insert-your-standardized-test-here) scores. You have creativity. You have book smarts or “intelligence.” I was prompted with a few questions. First, what’s the most important? Second, how does America view these three factors? Third, should children be focused toward their individual progress and characteristics, or should we incorporate standardized testing to evaluate intelligence?

So here are my responses.

I believe intelligence has shifted meaning entirely since its conception as a term. Intelligent people can type 80 words per minute, or can read a trilogy in hours, or they can know innately how to create a three-dimensional portrayal of a scorpion. It varies greatly what intelligence is really defined as, and I believe this is a great bound that our nation has made in childhood and young adult development. I believe intelligence is the most important in regards to children. But my definition of this intelligence is an all-encompassing combination of creativity, wisdom, book-smarts, street-smarts, and social interaction. If all of these can be well-rounded in a child when he or she is developing, (s)he’ll be at a great advantage to go far.

If a child doesn’t have that creative side, there are many disadvantages that will be present. First, the ability to think outside the box – so highly valued in this society, regardless of what one’s trying to accomplish – is hampered or destroyed. If a problem arises, problem solving skills are needed to address possible outcomes, which will determine how an individual or company proceeds. Without book-intelligence, social interaction is hampered, advancement in school and by extension higher education and professional training will all be constrained.

For all we have serious problems to work through, I believe The United States has made remarkable progress in the area of embracing each child’s unique set of skills and addressing their potential roles in their culture and society when they come of that age. Of course, this being said, we have bounds and leaps to go. Of course. As far as other cultures are concerned, such as places without a dire need of higher education and degrees with which to obtain careers, book-smarts are not as highly valued. More to touch on this later – I haven’t researched all I want to, in order to claim anything intelligent (hehe) about it.

I believe a balance is needed between embodying the unique qualities of each child and training them in standardized manner. What is at the root of this, I believe, is that we don’t have people working in “the system” who want to take time to care for the individual child, so you have a child who nobody pays heed to, who perhaps didn’t do well on a standardized exam, but nobody knows that this child is actually incredibly skilled in, say, virtuosic piano playing, but nobody has given the child the time of day or a chance to show off their skills. It’s not the child’s prerogative to go find what it is they’re supposed to do with their lives. We as the generation before have an incredible responsibility to nurture the upcoming leaders and builders and thinkers and doers into taking up challenges with the confidence we’ve instilled in them, and take on the world head-on.

Letter To My Friend

I know.

I know you’re exhausted. Weary. Need just maybe a week, to decompress and reevaluate everything. But the world won’t hand you that week so you continue to wear down until you’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel so long it’s worn into the ground beneath.

I know you’re craving a being-taken-care-of by someone who says they love you and this time – this time they must mean it, it’s about time you caught a break.

I know you work so hard for so little and are surrounded by these people who, growing up, all said “we love you!…as long as you’re a perfect reflection of exactly what we think you look like!”

I may not know what it feels like. But I know enough to know that no. It’s not fair. And that you have a choice, you actually have many choices, and one of them is to give yourself over to these thoughts that you’ll never make it.

That no matter what you do you won’t get the break you need or the love you deserve or ask for.

That you will always live in this in-between state – where you must function as an adult. But where you live is treating you like a child.

You could choose this. You could choose instead to see that the menial things, the schooling, the purposeless tasks of every day are all forging together to create a pathway on which you’re walking right now. You are setting yourself up for a life of challenges, right now, but oh, such rewarding challenges you will face.

You can choose to keep on this path. You made the choice. You’re in school, you’re working toward something greater. You have a future. You can choose to embrace it or ignore it. But you have one. You are loved, friend.