Monday, September 28, 2009

The Best Advice

The best advice I've received, and therefore can give, is somewhat religious but spans across more religion than one. Growing up when I would get angry or be mean to my little sister my dad would say to me " Imagine she's the baby Jesus, Jesus is everyone you meet." At the time I thought, "Pssh, yeah ok dad," but as I got older I started to hear this message reiterated in different ways. I remember distinctly hearing Robert Thurman, a famous Buddhist monk, and Uma Thurman's dad, speak about the teachings of Buddhism. I was beyond impressed with what he had to say, but one thing that I've never forgotten was something he said about their belief in reincarnation. He said that because they believe in reincarnation, everyone you pass on the street, could be your mother, or grandmother, or relative, and therefore you should acknowledge everyone you meet as if they were your mother in a previous life. I think of this as a similar teaching, because mother's are typically someone we hold very dear to us. He used the example of when we walk down the street, people tend to avert their eyes from one another, instead of looking and smiling, like you would (hopefully) if you saw your mother, the one who gave you life, walk by. Even to an extent the word "namaste"- the light in my soul acknowledges the light in yours, speaks to this idea of seeing everyone as if they are special, and important.

It can be very difficult to see Jesus, or the light in someones soul when they are cruel, or grumpy or hurtful to you. And it can be especially hard to see that person as your mother, but I think if you focus on the idea of treating each person with dignity and love and respect, no matter what- the world will become a better place. That is why this is the best advice I've received and can offer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Prince

I'd like to think, actually, that Machiavelli's text doesn't relate to my life in too many aspects. One small thing I can think of is the idea of change. Machiavelli's book is supposed to be a manual of sorts for a new leader, and he writes a bit about how change is often resisted.

In my life, I can relate this to a recent experience. I'm a student director at the Catholic Center for UNCW and this year we got a new Campus Minister, who is the paid adult leader of the center. Many people at the center had formed close relationships with our old Campus Minister, and we had certinely gotten used to his way of doing things. He gave the student's a lot of choice, was young, and valued building community. The new campus minister is older, an ordained nun, and very organized, something that was somewhat lacking before. When she first came in, I was borderline defiant. How could anyone replace Seung, our old and beloved minister? Was she going to try and change everything? What will we do?! As it turns out, she is doing a great job, and making a lot of changes for the better, but it took some close scrutinizing on my part before I would give her the time of day. New leaders have it tough... although I'm not sure following The Prince, as a manual will give you much more than power- it surely isn't how to win friends and influence people.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Childhood Notions

I rode the school bus to school for 6 years. Man, did I hate every minute of it. We had assigned seats, and mine was in between a 5th grader who, to me, looked 16, as she towered over my tiny frame that a friend of my mom's who taught kindergarten once described as "The smallest kindergartner" she'd ever seen, and an overweight 1st grader named Kyle who liked to pinch me for no good reason. My bus driver was one of the unhappiest, or at least angriest people I can ever remember encountering. Everyday, her voice would bellow throughout the bus full of rowdy K-5 students, as she recited her mantra... "Shut up, sit down, turn around, and face the front."

This only begins to describe the terrors that the yellow monster brought for me, but I figured out a way to escape. I figured if I had to be physically on the bus, I'd do my best to take my mind elsewhere. I'd stare out the window and dream a vivid day dream that I still remember to this day- and really in a roundabout kind of way, relates to my notions of success. I'd dream of being a bus driver, that defied everything I knew about bus drivers. I planned to take the job with pride and love for every child on that bus. I'd buy Barbies & Hotwheels, and whatever action figure the kids most desired in bulk, along with candy and treats, and everyday I'd throw them down the aisles, and smile as the kids on MY bus, smiled back. That was my childhood notion of success. Just to drive a bus, and have a happy time with the kids. Nothing more & nothing less.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Epictetus' Adivce on the Art of Living

While reading Epictetus the overriding concept that came up again and again and stood out to me was the idea of doing what you think is right without worry or care what other people think of you. Epictetus seemed to reiterate this idea in multiple entries. He advocates taking a stand for your beliefs after careful thought, but not letting your ego or reputation stop you. I think it can often be difficult to be counter cultural (Especially as I'm taking a class on popular culture right now and learning just what a force it is...), or go against the grain of things, when in reality, the only way change will ever come about is by doing so. Therefore, I found Epictetus' advice intriguing and inspiring. One blurb that comes to mind is "Character Matters More Than Reputation." Doing what's right is hardly ever easy, and often to be biblical for a moment- "The Prophet is rejected in their hometown." But if our aim is to be moral and have good character, not to be liked, than we have nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things... or places

Since I was a kid, I've traveled quite a bit throughout the country. Now that I'm a little older I've also been to Latin America a couple times, and to Ireland. Narrowing down my thoughts to write about my #1 favorite place is tough, but I found when I really thought about it, as much as I love traveling, home is where my heart. More specifically I love the East and West parts of North Carolina. (Not to discount the Piedmont, I grew up in Raleigh and have love for it too...)

When I was looking at colleges I narrowed down my choices to either Appalachain or UNCW. Which shows you my preferences. Being in the Appalachain mountains always leaves me in awe of nature, and the small town culture that is so prevelent there. I love the way the air seems so fresh, and the mountains make me feel safe, as they surround me on all sides. The bright oranges and yellows in Autumn, and the crispness of the weather are like no other.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Notions of Success

While thinking of ideas for my upcoming paper on notions of success, I thought of a few that would be interesting. One of them, Dr. Ashe mentioned to me last year when I first told her I was taking The Art of Living. Often people associate getting ahead with living a successful life, and frequently those who are deemed "successful" in life are very intelligent. Intelligence seems to be valued very highly in our society, but can you live a successful life with a below average intelligence? My younger sister has down syndrome, and recent US studies have indicated that when Down syndrome is diagnosed prenatally, 84% to 91% of those babies will be killed by abortion. (

Why is it that people assume that their child will not be "successful" enough to even have the chance to live? This raises big questions to me about what it means to be successful in life. When I look at my sister, who is only four years old, I already see a wonderfully loving person who will clearly have postive contriutions to our society, but I wonder if others see her as not unsuccessful because she won't be as quick as other kids her age.

I'm not sure if this is what I want to write about, but I can see it making a compelling paper about notions of success.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Biggest Regret...

Being a runner, I've heard so many coaches say things like, "Leave nothing out on the track!," " No Regrets!" etc. Maybe I've heard these types of slogans too many times because I have to say, I really don't think I have any major regrets. I mean, there aren't many college students who can say they don't regret having a few too many drinks, saying something stupid, or eating 7 layer nachos late at night, only to have an icky stomach the next day- those I'd classify as small insignificant everyday regrets, but as for my "biggest" regret, I guess I'd say it isn't a regret at all.

My biggest"non-regret" happened my freshman year. It's an amazing thing when you graduate high school-you lose any reputation you used to have, and get this chance to start anew so to speak. You go somewhere where almost no one knows you, and get a chance to make a new impression. I had braces through the end of my junior year of high school, and never really had a boyfriend. The idea of going on a date seemed far off for me. Coming to UNCW, there was this whole new world of parties and dating, and guys who were slightly more mature and seemed to look a little deeper- I guess what I'm trying to say is, all of the sudden, I wasn't a scared high schooler, and there were actually some boys who wanted to date me. I loved it. One of these guys was my best friend for the entirety of freshman year. He literally would do anything at all that I asked. That was the first thing I noticed about him. Once, only a few days after we'd met, I lost my wallet, and after calling him in somewhat of a panic, he came over right away to help me look for it. He would have dropped anything to help me. We had more fun together and a more natural connection than I'd ever really felt before, but as for being anything more than best friends never really occurred to me. I guess he saw things differently. At the time I saw nothing wrong with spending every day with him, letting him in on everything going on in my life, and even saying "I love you" to each other frequently. I saw him like a brother, despite the fact that we'd flirt and sometimes go out together. I just didn't understand how boundaries are different when you have a best guy friend- they can't do all the things girls do together, and we got WAY too close. Everyone assumed we were dating, and sometimes I wouldn't bother correcting them. When I found out for sure, that he cared about me in way beyond a platonic sense, it was too late- I had gone too far. I'd led him on for awhile, maybe because I had such strong feelings for him, and I can't lie and say the attention he paid me didn't contribute. Eventually things fell- and fell hard. It took a lot of mean things being said, and hurt feelings for our friendship to dissolve completely. Yet, I still refuse to call this a regret, because I learned so much about friendships, relationships, love, boundaries, college, and life. I would probably go through it again. I regret the pain I caused him, but I can't say I would change things, because by the time we got through it all, he and I had gained a lot.

To be continued...