Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dodging Glances

Inhale. Sigh. I am vexed for this world today. Disheartened maybe. The world didn't do anything to me. I don't really have any reason to be flustered with it. If anything, I just finished with a wonderful weekend. Couldn't have asked for better! I guess now it just feels like I'm going back to business or something. I do have some things that rubbed me the wrong way, though, and some unfinished reflections regarding them.

I made an effort to look nice today. Not that I don't on a given day, but I just felt like putting a little extra into it this time. Anymore, I don't seem to wear a whole ton of makeup, if any, and today wasn't really that different. But you know, a little more effort didn't hurt. I wore a skirt, a polo, earrings. It was a nice outfit, not extravagant. Modest, but cute. When I do things like that, I do them for me. I dress up because I just want to dress up that day. It's not to get attention, but just to express myself and enjoy being in the skin I'm in. If anything, getting too much attention for stuff like that puts me on edge because I just want to go about my day being Christy, not Christy-and-then-some. I'm expressing myself, not something else.

I'll put this out there, because I feel that it's strange, and because I promise that eventually it's related. But I have never struggled with feeling like an object, as a woman. I just never have, personally. I feel like culturally, many women speak of this, or feel as if they have been used, or are often used. I don't relate to feeling like men look down on me. I'm strangely not offended when people (strange men, specifically) say inappropriate things to me, as long as they are not directed at anyone else. Say it to another girl and it's absolutely a different story, but when someone says something dumb and degrading to me because I am a woman, it just doesn't bother me, and I can't say why. To be clear, I certainly don't like it, or get anything from it at all. It's just, well it just doesn't really do anything for me. So disillusioned womanizers exist. That doesn't have to ruin my day. End of story. I know my value, if random strangers don't.

But today was different. In looking nice, it was like suddenly I had all this attention that I didn't want, and it uncharacteristically bothered me. I was modest, my outfit definitely wasn't asking for it. I didn't go out of my way to impress, I wasn't "showing skin" anywhere, my makeup even was little more than I wear on a given day. I can't say what it was today. But after a day of being legitimately creeped on by an elderly man at the bookstore (no lie, my mom's a witness), getting the look-up-and-down from random strangers, and then being called out to by random guys about taking off my clothes...you could say I'm over it.

It was just a strange day. It would be completely different if I had been asking for it with my wardrobe choice, or if I had deliberately been seeking attention. I don't feel that any girl who does that really has grounds to complain. But it was disheartening to me because I felt like the assumption was just floating out there that because I am young and because I am beautiful, that I'm somehow this thing to be snatched up, or used, or taken from. I felt a little less like a person. And that doesn't make me sad for me, because I know who I am. This is no pity party. But it made me sad for a society that just views people that way. The word that came to mind when I was thinking about how it made me feel was simply "tired". I and any other woman that you will ever meet just want to be cherished. Not used. Not looked at like we have something to give you. Not just something, but someone.

I don't know. Like I said, things like this usually don't bother me, as perhaps they should. But it just rubbed me the wrong way today. Because women are beautiful, in both body and heart. But it seems that young women in culture begin to believe that the best they can offer the world is their body, is their looks, is their carefully manicured and culturally relevant personality... That's what everyone wanted right? Isn't that what their eyes said? Isn't that what the magazines said? They forget to be themselves, forget that they have something much deeper and much more powerful in their heart to offer. And a world that forgot what true Beauty is also forgot what it is to desire true Beauty, or that such a thing can exist. Supply and demand, I suppose.

Anyway, that's getting much deeper than I really wanted to go tonight. And I have homework to do. These are reflections on culture, with my own random day's experiences used as an example. I suppose as I have time (that's a laugh), I'll write more on this. I really do think there is a lot to this issue. But for now, I'm going to have to call it a night.

Farewell, friends.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lovin'

This isn't a typical 'have a nice day' blog. But I think it is important for our hearts to care for other hearts. I've written in another note somewhere that when we humanize another person, we are ourselves made wholer. Regardless of my own heart, though, I can't be ok with being the rich kid on the world stage, I can't be ok driving my little car around singing to my music, far more concerned with my own social scene than the very survival of the homeless in my neighborhood, living in my own little world, on my way to have my own little career, to I can buy myself more of my own stuff. I...I can't. My heart is cracking at the reality of the world, at the cruelty of poverty, the stinging presence of hatred, the suffering of the many so the few can have a comfortable life...what can I do? I'll do it. What can I give? I'll give it. I will love, from the lovable to the impossible. I will hold poor children in my arms. I will humanize. I will be kind. I will not lose my patience. I will fight for justice. I will be intentional. I will not be apathetic. I must, I can't back down now.

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." (Helen Keller)

"I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, there is no hurt, only more love." -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time to Write

I realize that it's been an eternity since I've last written. I also realize that by choosing to type out these words, I'm choosing to create another late night for myself. But what better time to write than when I have no time to do so?? That seems to be the general trend in my writing, anyway :)

But even though I have neglected to blog, that doesn't speak to an absence of thoughts running through my head. Actually, quite a few things have happened in my life recently that have sharpened my reflections and have taught good things to my heart. Namely, good things have happened within my family. I have spoken briefly and vaguely regarding a sticky past of mine with certain family members. I want to say that in the past month, all of that has been released. The "stickiness", that is. It's miraculous, completely unforeseen. Without going into too much detail (again, out of consideration for those relationships in my life), I want to say that there has been a good deal of healing. It's not perfect (are relationships ever?), but much groundwork has been laid. My heart, for one, is at peace.

As that was happening, and as good things were coming from it, I wanted to write a blog about being an incredibly lucky person. Some of you know my past, and some of you know that it hasn't been peach pie all the time, but I look around me now and I see so much blessing, so much unanticipated restoration, so much joy, so much....goodness. I don't say that to flaunt so much as to just stop and recognize that I can't possibly complain about anything. I have been given so much! From an ugly divorce has come two families. From misguidance has come long-searched for wisdom. From devastation has come hope. At the very very basic level, I look around and see that I have family, I have beautiful friends, I have a little niche in Tucson to come home to at the end of the day, I have enough money to buy food for myself, my body is strong and in good health, I have the ability to engage my mind in challenging classes, even my walk home every day is peaceful and beautiful. (It's perhaps my favorite time of the day....mmmmm). This life is so beautiful! It can be very easy to want what you don't have, but I'm finding a very certain joy in what I do have. Mmmmm :)

Another blog idea that came to mind regarded the idea of sacrifice, and occurred through a series of brief interactions. I'll only get into a couple here. I had the wonderful excuse to return home to my parents for an evening (going to the dentist is good for something after all!). While we were eating dinner and watching the Olympics, the announcers began to talk about what some of the Olympic parents had done so that their child could chase their dreams. One Turkish figure-skater's parents had left aerospace engineering careers and the ownership of several restaurants to move to Canada and scrub toilets so that their daughter could be properly trained. Ok, rewind. Wow. On the same night, before driving home, I swung through a drive-thru Starbucks. The gentleman I encountered at the window, in five minutes time, had completely changed my day. He was middle-aged, your "average joe" so to speak. But he had this joy about him. He took time to ask me about my studies, and with a twinkle in his eye told me about his daughter who was also at UA. That's why he was working there, he said. Again, wow. This man must work I don't know how many hours between his "real" job and evenings at Starbucks so that his daughter could study. And he was perhaps the friendliest person I'd met all day.
I want to be that way.

I want to be the kind of person that can change someone's day, simply by choosing to look at life in such a way that sacrifice is not sacrifice, but joy. It occurred to me by this man's joy, that I am perhaps not particularly joyful. In the same thought pattern, it occurred to me that kindness goes out of its way. Kindness is not shy. This man could very easily have been impolitely passed over by another college girl getting her Starbucks for the evening. College kids can be that way, myself included. But that didn't stop him from congenially asking me about myself. Hmmm. Food for thought.

I've also been confronted recently with stories of restoration. I'm so struck by the beauty of people coming alongside one another. This idea of a community that carries each others burdens, that looks each other in the eye and speaks life....sigh. I'm digesting this currently.

Anyway, I don't have a poetic or well-crafted way to end this, other than saying thanks for listening. See ya.