#thankful4 Wednesday: Family Time

So, I don’t have a picture for my post today, because, as the title says, I’m having family time with my parents and siblings who live in another state! (And all I have with me is my good-for-internet-only-laptop..).  I’m so grateful every time I get to see my family, which you don’t really expect to be when you’re 16-18 and so ready to get out of the house. (;

I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed with such a close-knit, loving family, and five wonderful, amazing, talented and smart brothers and sisters.  (; I love them so much!

& I love you all as well,

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Previous Post: #thankful4 Wednesday: My Hoops

* Every Wednesday, I post a picture and a couple paragraphs about something – usually something out of the ordinary – that I’m thankful for. Anybody who wants to is welcome to join me on this endeavor. (;

“The World Becomes What You Teach.”

I recently came across this TEDtalk by Zoe Weil discussing a very important institution that has, in my opinion, grown rather outdated in a modernized society – education.  Zoe Weil advocates an education system where “the basics” – math, language, history, etc – are only there to support the bigger goal of giving our kids the skills and knowledge necessary to solve – yes, solve – the myriad of problems that we face in the world today.

Our current education system was thought up roughly around the time of the industrial revolution.  It was designed during a time when factory work was the norm and people needed to be educated to perform well in those types of jobs.  Fast-forward to now, and our country has next to no manufacturing jobs left.  With the information and technology revolution, things like the internet and 3-D printers are already rendering once-considered “staple” jobs obsolete.  We can only expect to see this trend continue in the years to come.

The main point of the presentation by Weil is this: our current education system is far too focused on simply “getting kids jobs,” and not nearly focused enough on preparing kids to operate in our inter-connected and ever-changing 21st century world – a world where simple employment is not likely to be the biggest obstacle society faces.  Put more simply: our schools aren’t preparing kids for life, they are preparing them to be “good workers,” code for good order-takers.  The general mentality seems to be that you should always just do as you’re told, and without asking questions – especially about why things are the way they are.

What Weil recommends as an alternative to all the madness is devoting entire courses – starting at a young age – to systems and institutions like transportation, health, education, and food.  Then, within said courses, analyzing the systems we currently have in place and identifying any and all harm, as well as good, that is done by that system – socially, environmentally, economically, etc.  Lastly – and this is the awesome part – come up with realistic but non-traditional alternatives to the current systems that might produce a higher number of “desirable” results while working to eliminate un-desirable results like child labor, destruction of environments, extreme poverty, and harm done to animals.

I wholeheartedly agree with this entire premise of education that Weil presents.  As is mentioned in the talk, we could have 100% employment in this country and yet still be perpetuating many of the harmful systems that have given rise to the problems we see in the world today.  Our main focus in education can not just be on getting people jobs – we need to have a bigger vision than that.  Because of my passionate support for this idea, I wanted to publicly add my name to the ever-growing list of people who believe that serious educational reform is needed both in this country, and abroad – and of course, I just had to share this video with you!  (;

Love & Light

on Emotions.

Love

I feel like people are very emotionally repressed these days.  We’re regularly encouraged – mostly by big media outlets like TV, film, and radio – to hide our emotions, bury them, deny them, and express them in unhealthy ways.  I want to shine a light on what some of those ways are – as they aren’t always easy to spot if you’re not looking for them – as well as discuss some healthy alternatives to the examples we so often are presented with.  (:

One of the most obvious examples is anger.  Reality TV teaches people to be catty, aggressive, and even violent, and most other media outlets seem to promote violence as an appropriate reaction to anger as well.  You won’t find many examples of people just talking out their problems like the grown adults that they should be, because apparently it doesn’t make for “good TV”, but I have learned from experience that most disagreements are a result of some kind of miscommunication and can be solved with calm, well thought-out, proper communication.

Sadness is often portrayed as something for the “weak,” especially if you’re male, but also if you’re female – there was a song that came out just a few years ago by Fergie entitled “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”  If sadness is being portrayed as an okay emotion to feel, it is often done so in this whiney, poor-me, the-world-is-ending, I’m-so-depressed kind of way.  I think sadness is one of those emotions that you should definitely feel to the fullest without trying to repress it, but then after feeling it fully you’ve got to move through it and past it – it shouldn’t be something that consumes you.

Jealousy is a really scary one, as it is often accepted as warranting controlling and even abusive behavior (so many mega-hit pop songs today are about basically abusive relationships – Maroon 5’s One More Night has 200 million views on Youtube, Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance has 525 million, and Eminem and Rihanna’s Love the Way You Lie? 581 million.)  In my opinion, we are far too accepting of jealousy – and as a result, controlling behaviors like screening texts – especially in romantic, but honestly all relationships today.  But that’s because that’s all the media ever lets us see.  Jealousy actually represents insecurities, and the healthy way to deal with it is to identify said insecurities and work through them – not use it as an excuse to dictate somebody else’s behavior.

When it comes to what we think of as some of the “better” emotions – feeling love, as one example – we’re often taught not to “let it show” and even just avoid love altogether because it can be “risky.”  While I do agree that anytime you choose to trust someone you are taking an emotional risk, the biggest risks are usually attached to the greatest rewards, and the only way to have truly fulfilling relationships is to put yourself out there knowing full well that you could be rejected.  As for something like happiness – especially if it is resulting from any accomplishments – you’ll usually see it as something to rub in people’s faces while “fxcking the haterz,” but I wholeheartedly believe that joy is something that we should be sharing and not keeping to ourselves.

Last, but not least – and this really shouldn’t take much explaining: our naturally sexual nature has been twisted and made into something dirty and shameful when it is actually beautiful and (in my opinion) sacred.  I don’t have the typical conservative view that sexuality should be kept behind closed doors and nudity should only be acceptable between two people in a relationship together, but I do think that we should view the human body, as well as sex, in a respectful way and not in the hyper-sexual, shallow way it is often presented in.

So that’s my opinion on many common emotions and feelings and how they’re often misrepresented.  It’s a proven fact that emotional repression, as well as any unhealthy expressing of emotion, only leads to further unhealthiness and unhappiness.  We do all know how bad mental stress and anxiety is for your body, right?  Good. (: If not, go look it up!  Anyway, I think we need to learn how to deal with intense emotions in much more healthy and appropriate ways.  I hope I was able to give you an idea of what that looks like with this post.

As always – much love to you all,

Jesus wasn’t Christian.

In Jesus’ time, there was no such thing as “Christianity,” and after Jesus died, Christianity as we know it today took a very long time to develop into its current form. 

Around the time of Jesus’ death, different groups of “Christians” formed, but most of them did not call themselves that.  The first use of Christian (those referred to as Christians in Antioch in Acts) was actually a kind of nick-name formed in an almost derogatory way to refer to people who “associated with Christ and/or his teachings.”  Christians didn’t even come up with the name themselves – most Christians were originally referred to as Nazarenes. 

So, obviously, Jesus was not a Christian in terminology.  But that isn’t all – many things that I hear Christians define themselves by today, you never hear Jesus do the same in the Bible.  Jesus did not define himself by his being against abortion or against homosexuality, though both did exist in his time.  He wasn’t a hardcore capitalism advocate, and judging by the things he said and did – like tipping over money-changing tables in the temple and advocating that, in order to follow him, rich people sell all their possessions and give that money to the poor – he probably wouldn’t be too fond of it if he were alive today.

Jesus wasn’t generally one to go around advocating all kinds of strict rules or being what you would call legalistic – on more than one occasion he discusses how love should supersede such legalism and criticizes the Pharisees for their inability to see beyond “what the scriptures said.”  (Sound familiar?)  Also, in Jesus’ time there was not yet a gospel to preach, in the sense that the whole crucifixion-resurrection thing had not happened yet, and even though Jesus – according to Christians – knew what was going to happen to him, he didn’t go around telling people that “unless you believe that I’m going to die for your sins here in a couple of months, you are gonna go to Hell!”  No, that’s not very Jesus-like.

What does seem to be Jesus-like is Love.  When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus dismissed all previous commandments that had ever been made and said love.  Not just of God, but of your neighbor (which I take to mean every human being on earth) and yourself.  That’s kind of a huge deal.  According to Jesus, it matters more that you live a life of love towards everyone than anything else God (supposedly) ever said to do!  Now, granted – I believe that the Bible has been altered in ways we have no clue about in order to suit much bigger powers’ interests, so I’m not trying to use it as an “absolute” in the same way so many Christians do.  However, I do think that in reading about the things Jesus said and did, you will see that he was constantly preaching love, love, and love

Imagine if Love were the Number One thing associated with Christians today.  Oh, what a World that would be.  (;

Much Love to you all,

#thankful4 Wednesday: My Hoops

Image

For those of you who don’t know (which should be all of you, unless you got here from my Facebook) — I’m a hooper, or hoop-dancer, or whatever you want to call it.  I dance.. with hula-hoops. (;  

I am so thankful for my hoops because they help to keep me sane — and healthy.  Getting lost in the flow of the music is one of the most uplifting feelings; I’m sure you get it with things like singing and playing instruments as well.  I would highly recommend hooping to anybody who wants to get healthy — mentally and physically.

Love, 

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Previous Post: #thankful4 Wednesday: Art

* Every Wednesday, I post a picture and a couple paragraphs about something – usually something out of the ordinary – that I’m thankful for. Anybody who wants to is welcome to join me on this endeavor. (;

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

Alright, so first off — thank you very much to DefusingChaos for giving me this award!  Be sure to check out his blog! (:

I didn’t even know what the Liebster Award was at first so I had to look it up.  So, if like me, you don’t know what Liebster means, here ya go (taken from We Loved Here):

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers (approximately). So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

The Liebster Award rules are as follows:

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you, with a link back to their blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 of your own questions to ask your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice: new, old, just found, following, or you think deserve some notice; and let them know they’ve been nominated!
4. Show off the Award photo on your blog!
5. No tag backs–meaning you can’t just re-nominate the person who nominated you.

Here are the 11 questions, which were asked by “DefusingChaos”:

1. Was the name of your blog the first choice you had in mind or did you have to settle for something different?
– I think my first choice was actually something like ThatHippieChick but then decided to go with something more people could identify with. It wasn’t really settling.  (;

2. What is your favourite smell?
– I guess I’d say that smell of “nature,” out away from the city and in the woods, especially after a good rain. (:

3. What is your ideal occupation? Are you living it?
– TBH I don’t know what my “ideal occupation” is.  Anything that involves travel and making people’s lives better, but no, I’m not completely living it at the moment, sadly.

4. Do you believe in ghosts?
– Not really?  Maybe spirits of some kind, but I haven’t seen much evidence of any.

5. What superpower do you wish you had?
– Mind reading.

6. If you could time travel where and when would you go to?
– Oh, goodness, so many choices..  Probably to Buddha’s time in India so I could converse with him.  (:

7. What makes you happy?
– Seeing other people happy (for the right reasons).  (:

8. What is your favourite food or dish?
– That’s hard to say, but I think my favorite food is avocado!

9. What would you do with a million dollars?
– Spend a tiny bit on myself and my boyfriend (probably mostly to further business goals) and the rest some how use to make some people’s lives better.. Build some community gardens or something.  Unfortunately a million dollars isn’t as much as it used to be..

10. Would the world benefit from your advice? What advice would you give people?
– I feel that they would.  I think my “top” advice would be to question EVERYTHING, love everybody, and never give up on either.  (;

11. Where do you see your blog going in the future?
– Well, one day I would like for it to be able to generate some kind of income.  But more importantly, I want it to impact people and change their lives.  ‘Cause when lives change, the world changes, and my ultimate goal is to change the world (for the better). (:

My 11 Questions:

1.  Where is your favorite place (that you’ve been)?

2.  What country would you like to visit the most?

3.  What was the motivation for starting your blog?

4.  If you could change one thing about society, what would it be?

5.  What is your favorite animal?

6.  Do you write every day?

7.  What is your favorite book/books and why?

8.  What is the craziest thing you did in your teenage years?

9.  If you could have a conversation with any historical figure, who would it be?  And why?

10.  What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought (without taking out a loan)?

11.  What made you choose the title you have for your blog?

Now last but not least, time for my nominees (in no particular order):

1.  Indian Street Photography

2. Unconventional Spirituality

3.  A Humanists’ Perspective

4.  Joy to the World

5.  IconoclastThinker

6.  RelativelyWriting

7.  Where the Shadows Lie

8.  Through Your Eyes

9.  Bring in Light’s Space

10.  Jerico J Says

11.  Love and Heretics

Hope you enjoyed! Love you guys!

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P.S. If for whatever reason you don’t want to repost on your blog (i.e. have OCD tendencies like me and want your content all “neat and tidy,” haha), feel free to just answer the questions in the comments! (:

False (Left-Right) Paradigm

I’ve only mentioned this once before, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t remember.. but you no longer have an excuse. (;   I do not identify as either a democrat or a republican (the two American political parties, in case any readers don’t know).

Though I’m not one to claim that the two parties have no differences, I do not support the idea that we should continue to have to choose between the “lesser of two evils.”  There are plenty of people in the world with really smart ideas about different ways that we could run things: governmentally, monetarily, and socially.  It is just crazy to believe that every single one of the 11,000 people born each day in the U.S. will identify with one of TWO relatively-similar political (and often economic/social) systems of belief.

In the future, I’ll be doing a post on specific truths that I feel can be gleaned from each of the two parties, but in this one I wanted to discuss the ways in which these “political parties” – they are actually private non-profit corporations – are similar or the same, and how that makes me, personally, unable to identify with either one of them.  Here’ goes..

Number one:  Both parties avidly support the “War on Terror,” which – even in title – doesn’t make sense.  War is a terror.  The purpose of war is usually not to completely eliminate your supposed “enemy.”  Its purpose is to scare or weaken the enemy by use of violent force until they give into your typically politically-motivated demands.  Oh, well how funny.. that is the definition of terrorism, as per Google. 

Number Two:  Both parties – if not by word, then by policy – support the unsuccessful War on Drugs.  Since its’ beginning in 1971, drug addiction rates have remained the same and drug use among teens has increased.  The number of people incarcerated for simple possession of drugs is increasing every year.  This issue rarely gets touched on in the debates.

Number Three:  Both parties’ members in congress and presidential candidates have supported the idea of unconstitutional/unofficially declared wars and overall use of the military in a trigger-happy sort of way.  The U.S. has been involved in some kind of violent conflict for over a hundred years straight.  Clearly, if that type of force was going to work to solve the world’s problems, it would have done so by now.  If the United States’ ideas and way of life are so great and wonderful, there should be no reason for us to have to force them onto people by use of violent intimidation.  The ideas should spread themselves in the way all other Truth does.

Number Four:  War, war, war.. oh, and more war.  Both parties, through the use of the scapegoat “terrorism,” are essentially supporting a war on the American people and their rights.  This started with the PATRIOT Act, enacted by the Bush administration, which allowed for the recording (tapping) of any American phone call without properly issued warrants.  Since then we have seen both parties unanimously support a renewing of the PATRIOT Act as well as the passing of the NDAA which allows for detention of American citizens without trial.  There was also bipartisan support for bills that would allow for censorship of the internet like SOPA, CISPA, and PIPA, though thankfully the People were able to keep those from being passed.

Number Five:  Presidential candidates and congressional members from both parties have stated their support of the bailouts of Wall Street financial institutions that are known to have crashed the economy through their careless, self-interested actions.

Number Six:  Neither party seems to have any concern at all for the Police State that America is becoming.  Our cops have bigger, badder, newer gear every year, and they are becoming more militarized every time you turn around.  It often feels like the cops are no longer there to protect or serve us – they are simply there to intimidate and to keep us in line.  (I recently remarked to my boyfriend that you could literally draw an angry scowl on the new Dodge Chargers they drive around.  Pay attention next time you see one.)

There are many more things that I could add to this list – but these are my top reasons for not feeling like either party has anything of substance to offer me.   Am I all for marriage equality?  Absolutely!  Do I believe that the government is not to be trusted?  In its current state, for sure!  Am I dumb enough to think that simply because someone promotes a seemingly-ethical, freedom-loving philosophy that has some truth to it, that they have no ulterior or hidden motives?  Definitely not.

Political parties are NOT an official part of the U.S. government and more than one founding father is said to have been wary of such institutions.  Us three-hundred-million-plus American people can not be divided into two, simple, even, opposite-in-every-way groups.  We are a nation of individuals!  We all have different experiences, backgrounds, ways of thinking and creative ideas. 

I think that it’s time to rethink the way we “do government.”  A true government of the people should be as diverse as the people it claims to represent.  It should be able to accommodate radically different opinions in a way that everyone’s voices are heard but rationality still prevails. 

I don’t claim to know every detail of how this should be set up..   But I do know that when you get groups of diverse people to have conversations – crazy ideas often result.  I hope that I get to see some of those ideas come to fruition in my lifetime.

Let’s start Talking.

Love

Moar Nudity.

This topic really gets me riled up for some reason.  I think it’s because from growing up, I personally know the general “conservative” stance on the subject and I know how much energy they give to it and how they look at it.  Nowadays, I’ll see people freaking out about nudity and pornography like “HOLY mother of Jesusssss! Naked bodies and reproducing: that’s the most sinful, immoral, shameful, disgusting thing our kids could ever SEEEEEE! This is why the world is going down the drainnnnn!”

And I’m just like… It is.  A body.  A. BODY.  Teach your kids what they look like from a young age and it will be no surprise to them to see them (research confirms this).  Teach your kids respect for other people and you don’t have to worry about them looking at people in dirty or perverted ways.  Teach your kids why sex is for adults and what it involves and its consequences, etcetera, etcetera, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll make the right choices. If not, guess what?  They’ll learn their lesson!  It’s not your job to literally keep them from making any and all bad choices they might make in life.  It’s your job to inform them and be there for them, guiding them the entire way.

I know – again, personally – from having parents who didn’t really talk to me about sexuality and the like, that if they had encouraged me to just be open with them, instead of making the topic of sex more or less taboo in our household, I probably wouldn’t have gone behind their backs when it came to stuff like that.  I would have just told them up front, or at least would have told them when they asked (if it were done so lovingly, and not accusingly).  But, of course, that’s not what happened.  So instead, I hid it.  So that I wouldn’t get in trouble.  I was more worried about getting in trouble than I was concerned about being honest with my parents.

If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it’s because it is.  Being able to trust your parents is an important thing.  There has to be a better method of disciplining.

But more on topic.. why sexuality?  Why is it that out of the nearly infinite number of things you could choose to represent immorality, you choose sex?  Something completely natural.  What is it that’s just so disgustingly immoral about it?  Please tell me. 

People are murdered cold-blood every day.  Why don’t you feel so strongly about that?  Most people won’t think twice about letting their kids watch a movie whose entire plot revolves around two people trying to kill each other, or play a game with the same goal — killing.  “Have at it!  The bloodier the better!” they’ll say.  Now take a movie and make it revolve around two people falling in love, then put a sex scene in it.  Oh, now you want to freak out.  Now you want to moan and groan about how immoral our society is becoming.  You people make me sick sometimes.

Teach your kids LOVE.  Teach them peace, and patience.  Teach critical thinking and COMPASSION.  Honesty.  Sharing.  Respect.  And being Real.  Stop worrying so much about if they might accidentally see a breast somewhere, or – God forbid – people procreating. 

People seriously believe that that is what is corrupting the youth of today.  And that’s what the hell is wrong with this world.

Still love you guys though,

Related Posts: Nudity and the Female Form., Nature is Calling., Oh, it Affects You..

the Matrix.

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it – always.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Everywhere I look I see lies.

I see magazines lying to little kids about what Real Men and Women Are.  I see the News media lying to middle-class white people about what’s going on in the world.  I see grown adults lying to little children about everything you can imagine.

I see lies about the government.  Lies about terrorism.   Lies about food, drugs and alcohol.  Lies about Muslims.  Lies about Japan.  Lies about Marijuana.

There are lies about money.  Lies about where our money comes from.  Lies about the economy.  Lies about religion, and lies about atheism.  Lies about the Left, and lies about the Right; lies about extremists, anarchists, libertarians, independents and I-don’t-give-a-fxcks.

There are lies about oil.  Lies about the environment.  And lies about the weather.  Lies about technology, and lies about nature.  Lies about animals.  Lies about knowledge.  And intelligence.  And lies like “everybody’s stupid.” 

There are lies about gender roles, and lies about sexuality.  There are lies about What Matters, and lies about Love.  There are lies about human nature.  Lies about beauty and peace and satisfaction and happiness; lies about mental illness and lies about sanity.  Lies about what is normal.  Lies about consciousness.  Lies about what we are capable of and what we aren’t capable of. 

It’s all lies, and it’s all a distraction.  YOU are the author of your story.  You ARE in charge of your life.  You CAN do great, amazing things – if only you set your mind to it.

You can change the World.  YOU can CHANGE the WORLD.  Most people don’t want to accept this, because that would mean they’d actually have to do something.  It means breaking free of the matrix that has been set up to keep our minds imprisoned, and we’ve gotten pretty comfortable there. 

But I promise you the TRUTH is so much more exciting, intriguing, and satisfying than anything could be over in that comfort zone of lies.  Our hearts are longing for truth, and once they catch a glimpse of it, the game is over.  The matrix will no longer satisfy. 

People are desperate for something more Real than this materialistic existence we’ve somehow confused with Life.  Don’t let the lies fool you!  We aren’t all happy consumers, and we’re beginning to see that we have the power to change things.  The house of lies is crumbling, and things are changing. 

Ignorance won’t always be bliss.  All these lies won’t always be “Truth.”  

We are learning.  We are opening our eyes.  

There’s a reason I put this in the title of my page — we are Evolving. (;

Love

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*P.S.:  Check out the “About EL” page for a little more insight into this post. (: