Category Archives: Photos

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” -Joseph Campbell

time_flies_by_our_kings-d5201pkAnother year is closing. I can hardly comprehend that it was two years ago that I wrote a post about New Year’s Resolutions. Rereading it today, I realize that while I’ve taken my own advice, I’m still working on it. As I always will be.

So, has this been a year that asked or answered? Has it been a year of inhaling or exhaling ? For me, a bit of both. I started homeschooling. I started two new writing projects. I began finding the version of me that exists with more independent children.

So much has changed, though I’m not sure it’d show much from the outside. I feel more stable and more understood. I feel freer to be me, whoever that is.

Thank you to those that have taken parts of this year’s journey with me. Thank you for letting me take part in yours.

I looked at the breakdown of my blogging year according to WordPress. Here are my five most popular posts of this year (in no particular order):
Daylight Savings Time, Body Confidence, Stupidity in Politics, Worth Dying For, and Death. I’ve been preaching weariness more than wonderlust. (Here’s where I mentally resolve to balance that scale a bit.) A few of those posts aren’t from this year, so after a quick scroll I chose one of my favorite posts of 2015: Why? (x4).

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I don’t know what sorrows 2016 will bring, but I am finding it easier to live in joy. I know that my blogging family deserves some thanks for that.

New year, new look. Like it?

“PRAY(v.) To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.” -Ambrose Bierce

Given the tornadoes that ripped through towns a mere 30 minute drive from my home (and the response that followed them), I feel the need to reblog.

Wary Wonderlust

My thoughts can’t help but be drawn to the tragedy in Oklahoma. If you don’t know, an EF5 tornado hit a small town, south of Oklahoma City, called Moore.

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This is what one neighborhood looked like before and after:
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I always get increasingly annoyed with news coverage of natural disasters. What do you say to a person that just lost everything they own? What do you say to someone that just lost a loved one? Apparently, you ask them how they feel. You ask them if they are scared, if they realize what happened. Seriously? These stories are certainly newsworthy, an entire town was practically wiped off the map. I get that, I just wish they could give people more than 12 hours or could at the very least come up with some better questions.

It never takes long for someone to blame a natural disaster on a lack of…

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“And if your heart’s full of sorrow: keep walking–don’t rest.”

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I remain unconvinced that I will ever know myself fully. There always seems to be another Identity Uncertainty looming near or within me. Not a crisis, mind you. It’s just that this thing that is me is ever-changing and I’m only clued in on the conscious actions, which seems to be a great minority of who I am.

So much about me was determined the moment sperm met egg. Even more was determined before my brain had the capacity to form lasting memories. I have been entrenched in a civilization that I have all but no control over since before I took my first breath.

pathway-to-the-light-of-heaven-lee-yangMy biases were formed while I was learning to form sentences. They hardened as I created opinions. Crack them as I might, shall they ever be destroyed? Do I have that power? Or can I only let in as much light as possible and try to enclose my children as little as possible?

I’ve been called an overthinker many, many times. I tend to think this isn’t a bad thing though it has its disadvantages, one of which is constantly questioning my own motivations.

As a feminist, I wonder how much my personal preferences are influenced by patriarchy. I am an amalgamation of sexual desire and detestation. I rarely wear makeup or heels, but I shave and am counting calories to lose weight. Sure, the ebb and flow of desire is natural and losing excess weight tends to be better for your health, but how much of that is true for me personally? My perception of my body and its processes are filtered through a billion ideas about what a person should be, what a woman should be, what a woman with my racial/biological/educational/ideological background should look like, what she should think and do and feel. How much is me and how much is what I think I should be?

I heard a quote recently. It was one of those moments where someone perfectly expresses a concept you’ve had on the tip of your tongue for years. I could almost feel my brain cells shifting into a new pattern. The quote was brought up during a radio discussion about why we feel like we’re different people depending on who we’re with.

“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”
-Thomas Cooley

Indeed.

Whitman was right. We contradict ourselves. We contain multitudes. So be it.

I am coming out of another long period of Identity Uncertainty. The time spent within always feels dark and depressing, but I come out better for it on the other side. Sorrow is inevitable, we must savor it as much as joy. Such is life.

My perspective has shifted again. As it should, as it must, as I am thankful for. May I never stagnate.

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“So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
-Stephen Chbosky

If you are wondering where the title quote came from, check out the student-made advertisement below. If ads were like this, I would watch more television.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” -Gandhi

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I’m sitting in my room with my headphones on. The low murmur of CNN is still detectable. There was another shooting today. My husband needs to know. I already want to forget.

I watched with him during some of the calmer moments–SWAT teams walking around a residential neighborhood, that sort of thing. The anchor and her guests were stating the obvious things about American police tactics that they always talk about during times of action, but no information. Then they talked of Paris and radicals, terrorism and bombs. They prefaced everything with acknowledgements of their ignorance, but that did not stop their mouths.

As they spoke, the never-ending scroll of information caught my eye: United States decides to start bombing after some debate; Britain to start bombing soon; Germany gearing up to start bombing; France asking for more bombs…

I am not a pacifist though I imagine I could become one before my life ends. Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results?

I think of America’s Civil War and World War II and decide those were wars that needed to be fought, but I say that with the distinct advantage of hindsight. Would I have thought the same thing if I had been around at the time? Would I call them justified if they had ended differently?

How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?
-Howard Zinn

We do this thing where we spend millions and billions on war, then we leave. Maybe the fighting is done, maybe it isn’t, but we leave. We leave these people that we have terrorized with ruined homes and ruined lives and expect them to fix what we have broken. We may send a tiny fraction of the money we spent destroying them to rebuild, but never enough. We leave the ones we claim to have “saved” in squalor, usually worse than where they began, and are surprised when they grow to hate us.

We contribute to the cycle of violence with every act of violence we commit, regardless of our intentions. So, how do we stop? Can we stop? Evolution is a game of getting to the top and it was a bloody rise for humans. Societal evolution has been just as bloody, but even worse, for we have been violent whilst having a conscious.

My children’s first acts of violence came long before they could speak. I regularly played games in which I and my friends imagined ourselves in situations of heinous hardship. Our entertainment is not just laced with violence–violence is often the point. Our games are purposely ‘us versus them’. Do these casual examples of violence serve as outlets or provocations of our worst traits?

Fear is such a basic instinct. It is easy to lash out in pain, easier than to spread happiness. The dichotomy of good versus evil is uncomplicated compared to the complex reasons why people deliberately cause harm. Are we doomed to rinse and repeat the bloodshed until we are no more?

Imperialism is not our answer, but neither is willful ignorance and inaction. This is not a day on which I feel optimistic about the human race.

Blooming Society Sunday

A bloom is a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.

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Today’s Bloom: Plant a Tree

Trees have always felt like a refuge to me. They’re the cathedrals of nature. Walking amongst them is guaranteed to impart a sense of belonging in the world at large. Maybe it’s because a tree can become home to literally hundreds of creatures. Maybe it’s because we didn’t climb down from them all that long ago.

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There is a tree just outside of where I live.


Well, there was.

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A few of the tree’s branches were beaten by storms. Its roots were grasping at the earth beneath a utility box. Its existence had become inconvenient.

When I saw the orange paint streak of death on its trunk, my heart sank. It’s been a few weeks now. A tree-like bush that grows pink flowers has taken its place.

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There are more of these elsewhere on the property. They’re pretty, but it’s rare to see an insect on their branches. The leaves they grow are sparse. The shade they offer is weak.

The entire plant sways in the wind like a child learning to walk. It will never learn to stand on solid ground, the grip of its roots is too weak. I don’t imagine its tendrils will ever wrap around wires. It will never grow strong or tall. Its branches will never dent a car. It will never offer refuge and will rarely be called home.

The demolition of the former tree ripped the grass from the ground. So, the green and yellow blades were replaced with dainty squares of pre-grown grass. The seams left behind by this unnatural planting have started to fill in. In the city, nature takes what it can get.

I live in a state where temperatures in the summer are expected to reach and hover around Fahrenheit’s triple digits. I live on a planet with a finite source of drinkable water — a planet where people routinely do not have access to clean water, let alone drinkable. Yet, every day I see concrete being watered as inept sprinklers fail to spray the precious liquid on grass that will never stay green anyway.

Even in the massive metropolis where I reside, there are stretches of highway that cut through open fields. But every time I travel them, I notice the open spaces are shrinking. ‘Land for Sale’ signs are the orange paint of meadows.

I recently saw a wild sunflower patch flattened. What replaced it? A parking lot for a hotel. Want to know how many hotels were already standing in a one block radius? Three.

I’m not against cities. I live in the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States. I throw no stones. Still, I think to most of us, this massive and invasive urbanization feels wrong. Humanity’s main problems stem from choosing hubris over harmony.

Planting a tree is reaching a hand out to Mother Nature. I just hope she’ll take it.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
-Chinese Proverb

Get 10 free trees from the Arbor Day Foundation
Apply for tree seedlings from the National Wildlife Federation
Learn how to plant a tree