“Thoughts and Prayers”

As a Christian, lately, I have been struggling to reconcile how I feel and how my religion tells me I should feel. In many situations, my heart and my head disagree with what my religion tells me I should believe. I know I am not the only Christian who is feeling this way.

One thing that has been weighing heavily on me though, is the idea of sending “thoughts and prayers” during a time of hardship. Believe me, I send thoughts and prayers in all situations. When I see something terrible on the news. When I see a car accident on the side of the road. When the weather looks ominous. When a friend has an interview. When my husband is holding on to his last nerve at work. I send thoughts and prayers all the time. There is nothing wrong with it, but we have to admit, in a lot of situations, it isn’t enough. Not even close.

When you send thoughts and prayers to a mother who lost her child in a school shooting, your prayers are for God to comfort her, but they don’t really do anything to make it better.

When you send prayers to a city who has been leveled by a natural disaster, your prayers are for their safety in the waiting periods, or for comfort in the adjustment and loss periods, but they don’t really do anything else.

When an LGBTQ+ teenager commits suicide because of the treatment they receive from peers, family members, church members, community members, etc., your thoughts and prayers are for the comfort of those left behind, but they don’t really do anything.

When you send thoughts and prayers to the situation at the border, they don’t do anything.

When you send your thoughts and prayers to an eleven-year-old who gets raped and is forced to carry the pregnancy to term, your thoughts and prayers don’t do anything.

Thoughts and prayers are a nice gesture, but they don’t do anything. They do not help. They do not fix the problem or the root of the issue. Honestly, all I can see that they do is remove any weight of personal responsibility to help that you may feel.

We don’t need to look at any kind of gun control laws, because I sent thoughts and prayers.

We don’t need to go volunteer in the town not far from us that was leveled, or donate money or any of our belongings, because we sent thoughts and prayers.

We don’t need to protect the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, especially if we disagree with their “life choices”. We don’t need to change ourselves, because we sent thoughts and prayers.

We don’t need to help immigrants seeking asylum, because that’s just uncomfortable and inconvenient for me. We are “good” because I sent thoughts and prayers.

We don’t need to let women have rights to their own bodies, or stricter punishments on rape, or protect and support the funding of programs like Planned Parenthood, Food Stamps, etc. that help that mother care for the child we want to force her to have. We don’t need to do any of those things, because we sent thoughts and prayers.

Even as a Christian, I am so tired of hearing the phrase “Thoughts and Prayers”, because all I see is a way for us to excuse the fact that we do nothing else to help. It is a brushing-our-hands-of-guilt-or-responsibility move. At least, that is all it is when you do not follow it up with actions. We send thoughts and prayers, and then move on to the next disaster which is surely only a few days away.

I’ve spent a lot of my adult Christian life walking a fine line. I was careful about what I said or what I shared on my personal social media pages, mostly for the comfort of others. And honestly, I went round and round on if I should post this today due to fear of repercussions. I did not want to put myself in a position of opposition of those in my family, my community, or my church. I did not want to rock the boat.

But I can’t NOT rock the boat anymore. I cannot be quiet for the sake of comfort, mine or anyone else’s. I must speak out on the things that are important. And I understand if you need to get out of the splash-zone of my swaying boat. But I’m done only sending thoughts and prayers.

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You’ll Find Me Next to the Ocean

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Nothing touches the soul like the ocean
The water on your feet
The hush of waves in your ear
The dance of light on the surface
All beautiful and unique to the ocean

I could sit for days in the sand
All my needs met
Longing for nothing
Contented and full
Surrounded in happiness and peace

Some are troubled by the ocean
Made to feel small
Alone, insignificant
Afraid of the unknown
But that is not the way for me

Though there are revelations in its presence
I feel small but whole
Not alone, but connected
Connected to it and through it
I feel a part of its magic and its story

My soul awakes when near the ocean
I feel alive
I feel accord
I feel tranquil
When I need to find myself, I find an ocean

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*My husband and I booked our honeymoon finally! We are going to Riviera Maya, Mexico in June! Get me next to that ocean ASAP!

Bullet Journal Update No. 3

I think I’ve established what these updates are going to be like, so without further ado:

March’s completed Mood Tracker

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I decided to do something different with April’s theme. Instead of focusing on drawings, I went with a different crafting approach. I used more printed pictures and tore them to suit the pattern I wanted. It was a nice change from the heavy focus on drawings the last few months.

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Looking forward to seeing what May’s theme will be!

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The Weight of “Family”

Lately, I have found myself processing the idea of family. I’ve always kind of questioned the idea. Not really on the principle of having a family, but what exactly does family mean.

I’ve always found family to be an interesting topic. Technically, a family is just a bunch of people related by blood. Some live in the same home as you your whole life and have a huge impact on who you are, and some live on the other side of the country and you maybe see them once a year, and honestly, they don’t add or subtract a single thing from your life.

There is this idea that you must respect, love, place above all others this family, regardless of how they fall on the scale or importance to your every day life. And some of you may have wonderful families and agree with this wholeheartedly, but I call bullshit. Being physically present, yet not supportive, loving, or genuine, doesn’t mean I owe you anything. I don’t owe you respect because you gave me a birthday card when I was six, especially when you’ve made it very clear you don’t even really like me since then. And don’t come at me claiming “family” to get you anywhere. You are a blood relative, you aren’t my family. There is a difference. One is something I was born into, the other is something I choose.

Take that idea further, the idea of choosing your family. There are good things and bad things to that idea as well. This is how you end up with “aunts” who aren’t actually related to you but know you better than your real aunt. This is also how you end up with a “grandma” or an “aunt” who decided it would be just as easy to marry out as it was to marry in, regardless of how long they’ve known you. A giant “peace out, bitches” with a slammed door they never bother to crack again.

For some, family is concrete. It is steady and means something. For others, like me, family is a big bubble with soft cloud edges that people can easily come in and out of. There is no tether to the bubble or to others in it. Blood isn’t a tether. Relationships aren’t a tether. We are all free floating, making the decision to stay in the bubble or to leave it. This is why, to me, the family we choose means more than the alternative (not to imply that birth family can’t fall into the bubble family). You’ve chosen me, and I have chosen you. I’ve entered your bubble and I’ve chosen to stay.  This relationship will always carry more weight, in my opinion.

All of this rambling to say that I refuse to be made to feel badly for not choosing to value my great aunt whom dislikes me as a person anyway, or my married-in “grandma” or “grandpa” who decided that I no longer am family, etc.

If you have similar experiences or ideas with “family”, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Bullet Journal Update No. 2

So I finally feel like I am getting the hang of the bullet journal thing. Two full months of filling it out, and three monthly spreads later, I feel like I have found an outlet for some creativity. I’ve done a good job in some areas with it, and some areas not so much.

One thing I really enjoy is getting to create the monthly spreads. Picking a theme and carrying the theme out through the month is exciting. My spreads are getting better! They are more creative, more fun, and most importantly, I am starting to feel more confident in them. This, and the fact that I have been tracking how often I write or draw, has really made me feel like my artistic abilities are growing and my creative need is starting to be met. Here are some of the drawings I’ve done this month.

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There are plenty of things I still need to improve in, like getting to the gym for example. But at least now I am tracking those things. Before, if I didn’t go to the gym at all in a month, I didn’t think much about it. Now, with an empty tracker staring at me, I feel guilty for slacking. So, that’s an improvement.

With all that being said, I figured I would share a completed page from February’s spread, my favorite page (the mood tracker), and I would show you the theme for the month of March. I think it turned out BEE-utiful!

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Don’t Grow Up

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Don’t grow up.
It’s a trick, you see.
There’s no such thing as a grown up.
There are are only two choices.
You become an adult without dreams,
Without imagination,
Without a playful heart.
Or you keep those thing and protect your inner child.
True, there are times when you need to put those things on hold,
but you don’t have to put them away.
Don’t pack them in a box,
or wrap them tightly with a bow.
But instead, wear them like a cloak
To be worn with pride until a moment comes
where you fold it up nicely until it is again time.

Don’t grow up.
Grow wiser.
Grow kinder.
Grow deeper, for sure.
Pay your bills
Do your job
Treat responsibilities with care
But
Build a fort
Take adventures
Live with childlike wonder and awe.

We all must grow older, but we don’t have to grow up.

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Bullet Journal Update Month #1

So I did it!

I filled out the bullet journal all month of January.

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Some of the tasks I wanted to track I was really successful with. And others, I fell off at the back half of the month. I’m not sure if that was from a lack of effort or, honestly, it was too damn cold to go to the gym! The back half of January was so icy and frozen that my husband and I decided it wasn’t safe for us to drive after dark (we are not very good all weather drivers). So instead of going to the gym after work, we went home. I’m excited to see how the February tracker will end, seeing as we are now encouraged to start over with the tasks!

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As you’ll see, some spreads were more useful than others. Some spreads I will carry over into February and some I will change.

Also, this month, I started to feel a little more courageous and creative when it came to my bullet journal monthly spread. I am pretty proud of how February turned out!

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Did you start a bullet journal recently? Tell me about your experience! I’d love to share in it with you.

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So, the Gillette Ad Made You Angry…

A couple days ago, Gillette released the “The Best Men Can Be” ad. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the video, and honestly, though I try, I really cannot understand why.

I’ve watched the video several times. I watched it before I read any of the responses and felt that it was a nice, quick ad that reminds us that the youth are watching how we behave and it is our job to teach them the kind of adults they should be.

I read some of the comments from people who were angry or upset by it, and then I watched it again. I tried to have new eyes, to see it the way these people see it. I really tried. I don’t want to be a person who cannot understand the points of others, or a person who is so blinded by my own interpretation that I miss what really may be there. And honestly, I still really struggled to see the “bad” in this video.

For example, one of the comments that people make is that this video misrepresents men and is demeaning. They say that is shows ALL men as toxic. I don’t know how this can be true when the men who do the “bad behavior” are only ever corrected by other men. This ad doesn’t say that men suck and women must fix them. It doesn’t say that all men are awful, but in fact is does the opposite. It shows men standing up for others, or pointing it out in their friends or others.

I’ve also read that all the “bad guys” in this ad were white, but that wasn’t true either. There are clearly a mix of all in this video. So I don’t even know how to argue that one other than saying it is just not true.

Other comments I’ve heard is that the message wasn’t all bad, but it didn’t come from the right place. Where is the right place, then? Why does there have to be one right place to be reminded that we can’t expect better of our children if we don’t show them better?

“Women would be furious if there was a video showing all the crap girls do to each other in school!!” – You’re right. I would be furious. But not because I felt like I was being called out or told that I was awful. But because I KNOW the realities of the way girls and women treat each other, and THAT infuriates me. I would not be offended to see an ad about how women should be nicer to each other, or how women should step in when they see another woman attacking someone. I wouldn’t be offended because I ALREADY KNOW that is what I am supposed to do. I am supposed to stand up for others. I am supposed to treat people with kindness and respect. I would know that the ad was not attacking me, but in fact, I would take it as a reminder to always strive to be better, because I want my little sister, my friends, my future daughter to grow up and live in a kinder world than this one.

I’m really trying to understand- but I just can’t. When my husband looks at this ad, he isn’t offended. He doesn’t feel attacked. Because he knows there is always room to be better. Because he expects better of himself and the men he associates himself with. Because he respects not only women, but himself enough to not make excuses. Sure, like everyone, he slips up sometimes and says something sexist that society has made seem okay, but when I remind him that it isn’t okay, he takes a step back and tries to understand it from my point of view. Because he respects me and the way I feel. Because he respects his friends who are women, his mother, my sister, and the stranger on the street he has never met. Because he wants his future son to be better than the world around him.

If you feel offended when someone reminds you to be kind, maybe you are masking guilt in reality. When someone tells me to be nicer, I may feel angry at first, but I’m really more embarrassed at my own behavior and angry that I’ve been called out. We could all stand to be kinder, to be more aware of how our actions impact others. We all need a reminder sometimes.

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New Year, New Hobby

Happy New Year, readers!

Every new year I set a few goals for myself throughout the upcoming year. And every year, most of those goals are abandoned way earlier than I would care to admit. But I wanted this year to be different. I wanted to be more intentional with my goals, my time, and my priorities. Couple this with the fact that I always feel like I am one of those people who, when asked what my hobbies include, struggle to say that I do anything of importance or even worth mentioning as a hobby. I like to write and draw, but I don’t make a hobby of it. If you put a craft project in front of me, I’ll be excited until I screw it up less than five minutes in and then the perfectionist in me decides I better just stop there.

So this year, I think I found a way to incorporate both a new hobby, my (lightly) craft side, and my goals for the year.

Enter the Bullet Journal.

If you’ve never heard of this before, it is a mixture of a planner, a journal, a doodle pad, and about anything else you want it to be. You set up trackers and themed spreads in whatever way you choose. I decided to look at a lot of Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube channels to find things I liked and things I didn’t. I plan to use my Buju (as they are commonly nicknamed) to track my moods and the habits I would like to acquire and stick to throughout the month. Things like exercise, writing, water intake, etc.  I also wanted to track the books I read and the movies I see in theaters during the year, as these are two things I enjoy doing.

I figured a good way to keep myself accountable, and maybe get to show off some of my creative side, I’d post my pictures of my 2019 Bullet Journal Set up and my first monthly spread. If you Bullet Journal, please leave suggestions, your thoughts on the experience, or pictures of your 2019 set up in the comments. I’d love to see your creations!  If you are interested and have any questions about bullet journaling for a beginner, leave those thoughts in the comments as well. Then google your question, because I probably won’t have the answer anyway. But I’ll try!

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Good luck with your resolutions!

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