In the Mirror I See Who I was Meant to Be

I came to the realization very recently that I’ve changed a lot as a person. This whole embracing change attitude has really made a shift in me. Life can show you who and what matters in an instant. I am not sure how to put this, but I don’t miss the old me at all. I always used to feel timid, scared, apprehensive. Like I was back in middle school and even high school. 

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The Moment I Broke the Cycle of Anxiety, Insecurity, and Perfectionism

I was standing in a sea of college seniors, moments away from graduating.  I gently caressed the pure white tassel on my cap, poised to turn it at any second.  

In that moment, I did not worry about how many people were graduating with a higher GPA than mine.

In that moment, I did not convince myself that I did not belong at my own graduation ceremony.

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Water Protectors

In November, like many people, I watched a horrifying video of North Dakota Police backed by private mercenaries from Tiger Swan fire a water canon into a crowd of peaceful protestors, severely injuring several of them. It wasn’t the first moment that I had heard of the Water Protectors efforts against the Dakota Access Pipeline but it hit the hardest. I was a soldier. I served my country for five years and this… this offended me. And I wasn’t the only one. Veterans Stand for Standing Rock was started because of that video.

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Patronizing Bullshit

Growing up, I often heard about and saw depicted in books and movies the whole idea of the “importance of work to a man.”  Men who could not work, who could not support their wives and families were frequently depicted as victims.  They drank. They were abusive, but it was okay, or at least understandable, because they world had dealt them a bad hand.  They were to be sympathized with and pitied.  To be honest, I always wrote off this line of thinking, this story line as patronizing bullshit, especially when a woman or other family member was able to provide for a family.  Why did it matter who brought in the money as long as there was food on the table?

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On those rare occasions that I venture out into the world and interact with other humans, common courtesy makes people ask how I’m doing, but I never know how to respond. I’d say “I’m tired,” but my mind says I haven’t the right, haven’t earned that descriptor. When ‘tired’ is for marathon runners or physical laborers, when ‘exhausted’ is reserved for working 100 hours a week or a harried mom of 3, I’m not allowed to be tired. When the adolescent me had aches, they were ‘just growing pains;’ when youth me was feeling down I got reminded that there was ‘nothing to be sad about;’ and teen me falling asleep in class was labeled ‘bored’ at best or ‘lazy’ at worst.

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She was proud to be a redhead. She was proud to have been a grade school teacher. She was proud of the work she did as a waitress to support her three children when her husband went to fight in WWII. She was very outspoken. Her stories always had a moral, her jokes did not. “Have you heard the one about the fool who needed some shade? So he stood under a horses’ tail!” She was proud of the poetry she could recite from memory

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“Hey Bella,” he shouted from down the hallway. “Bella, let me make a pizza for you.”

While grabbing my textbook from my locker, I turned, trying to make meaning of this odd voice, to see a disheveled, dark-haired, dark-eyed man dash towards me. Who is Bella, I thought?

“Bella, let me make a pizza for you.”

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Retouching the Corpse

Part of me didn’t care what happened to the body. Mom had spent years abusing it, drinking and smoking, eventually producing the bloated, blackened cadaver before me. I had spent the past week alternately praying it into miraculous recovery and begging Mom to leave it because it was a completely useless thing now. On about the fourth day of her coma Dr. Carvahlo had suggest draining the infection and running tests on the pus. My argument was: who cares what the disease was, after it had shut down her kidneys, gangrened her legs and hands, and rendered her lungs useless? Two days later, Mom’s only working organ slowed to a stop - her heart.

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Late Pregnancy

Late pregnancy is all-consuming. Every movement declares my impending motherhood. This child is always in the back of my mind, when he's not in the front. Everyone is asking when the baby will come, as if I know. They say I'm "about to pop," but I feel confident I will make it at least to Spring Break. My first was a week late, and this pregnancy has been like a rerun of the first, similar in almost every detail.

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A Theological Shift

As of late, I feel that so much of the national discourse has fallen along divides that I know all too well. Politics pull out our deepest beliefs about the world and our religious values. I see a wide range of these. My facebook feed is chock full of staunch conservatives, Church going good people who vote right, liberals, and change-making, activist liberals (labels that I give out lovingly for the sake of this post — not to box anyone in to a complete identity). It ranges the spectrum. So when I have read many commentaries on the recent election and the country’s reaction to it, I notice how many highlight the inability for people to listen to one another and even conceptualize in any way where the other person may be.

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Quick Rinse

When I was growing up, I always admired the fact that my mom worked full-time and that she was independent, yet so dedicated to our family. When I asked her about other people who were stay-at-home-moms I remember her telling me, "I always wish that I had wanted that," almost as if she didn't have a choice in her career-driven mentality.

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You Broke my Heart in June

Going back to the beginning, I don’t think we ever expected more than a few months of fun, but it became apparent in the early weeks that there was more. I was broken, you wanted to fix me. On the flipside, you were a mess and I needed a challenge to get my mind off of everything that broke me. We fell fast and hard, ignoring the rules of rebounding and the fact we were too young for something so real. Those days weren’t easy, and the years that followed were littered with speed bumps, but maybe not more than any other relationship.

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