Sometimes All You Need is a Little Distance

Yesterday was our graduation ceremony at the center.  I’m not sure of the exact number–around 11 or 12–of the girls who returned for celebration, but I taught all but one of them.  Seeing the girls in their white caps and gowns, standing proud in their achievements, and seeing the joy on their faces as they spoke of the future moved me.  These girls went from pushing back against success to grasping it firmly.

So sitting there was quite an emotional experience, and even more so after the ceremony when I spoke to a few of the girls individually.  Two girls in particular surprised the pants off me, telling me that I helped them so much and how highly they regarded the time in my classes.  These statements shocked me (and stirred me to tears) as my reputation here at the center is the “strict” one, with expectations that are “too much” and being known for “too much attitude,” etc.  The two girls that spoke to me this way were some of my hardest “cases” if you will, but they were the ones to remember and hold to their admiration of me.

I’m not prideful about this.  It’s instead caused me to become contemplative. Hopeful. Quiet.

It’s been about a year since I’d last seen them.  And maybe that year, that time, that space from those we struggle with, is what’s needed for the pieces to click into place.  Maybe it’s just a part of the cycle of life, the growing pains of maturity.  Maybe the lesson isn’t so much about learning in the moment, but more about not discounting any experience and being able to retain the potential of each experience to use when the time is right.

Congratulations, graduates.  All of you are amazing. And peace be with you.

Coming Full Circle….. or Climbing Higher on the Spiral

My my my.  It’s been nearly two years in Florida.  The time’s passed so quickly.  And about a year ago, it became evident that we’re not really cut out for this tropical life here in the Sunshine State.  We thought, “Oregon’s the place!” and had everything lined up this past December–

But then life happened, and that dream evaporated faster than tailpipe exhaust in the sunshine.

We kept hoping, though, and I started applying to places not just all over the United States but also all over the globe.  And gradually we narrowed it down to Kentucky and Missouri.  After weeks and weeks of throwing in interviews, making follow-up calls, going through the licensing process, etc, I was recently offered a job in the Rolla, MO area which I happily accepted.

Now we’re selling things, trying to find a place to live from half the country away, and while it’s a bit surreal, it’s also exciting.  I’m stoked to be returning to Missouri, a place that for some reason always calls back to me when I leave it.  Maybe it’s because it’s the place where I had my first apartment, met A, attended the School of Metaphysics–it’s the place where I grew up into the person I am today.

Next week I’m deleting my Facebook so that I can spend more time doing what I actually love, blogging included.  I get to teach a high school journalism class to the girls here, hopefully leaving one last impression on them on the importance of literacy in today’s world, get them to ask and answer the tough questions about living in this global village.

If I can touch just one life–then it’s worth it.

From Missouri to Florida and now back again.

But it’s not really full circle.  I’m not nearly the same person I was two years ago.  It’s more like life being an upward spiral, and I’ve gotten to the next loop.  It feels great.

The Last Leg

Hahaha, I feel clever titling this post “The Last Leg,” but oh well, no one likes someone who laughs at her own silly jokes.  What’s a gal to do….

But I am now in the last part of my journey of non-weight-bearing stress.  In ten days, I will (hopefully) be cleared to begin walking again, albeit in my boot brace.  It seems as though the days are dragging, steadily but painfully slowly.  Now it’s time to keep myself busy so that I don’t think too much about it.  Sleep has flown again, and it’s difficult to be comfortable whilst tired, but what can one do.

I have noticed, however, that I am getting stronger.  I can do more by myself and alone even while on crutches.  For example, I made pasta today.  Most simple of things, but I feel good that I did it.  And yesterday I straightened the couch cover.  Cheers, yes?  These seemingly easy tasks give me the willpower to keep pushing on till the 25th.

I guess that means I have to start thinking about physical therapy soon, then.  I hope they only recommend once per week, as that’s all I can do currently.  Since I work an hour away, any therapy days will mean taking the entire day off, and I think that I can swing once per week, maybe twice if my boss is awesome, but she has limits, too.  As does my vacation time, now that I think about it….

But oh well.

It will all work out.

In other news, well…not much.  Today is Father’s Day, and my father and grandfather are both in the same place today as it’s Grandpa’s 80th birthday and my Western family has driven up to be with him.  I shall call and express my love when it gets late enough here (time differences–don’t forget about them as they are vital to the attitudes of those whom you love).

AND I have just completed the first draft of a children’s book, the first in a series.  A and I know that we are good writers, better than most out there that publish brightly colored pictures books and sell them at Barnes and Noble.  Any thoughts for a good literary agent?

 

Blessings to you and yours.

Holy Cow; I Look Like a Cyborg.

Thursday the 29th was my four-week checkup after breaking my ankle.  I took the day off work and nervously got ready, not knowing what was going to happen once the cast was off.  We arrived early and were seen early (seriously, EVERY TIME.  This particular Dr’s office operates like a dream) even though the waiting room was PACKED.

The girl started buzzing away at my cast and did a great job of it, slicing through the fiberglass like nothing.  Then, she puled it away to reveal my way-too-skinny leg.

Obviously, there’s a part of every person that understands, “Hey, being in a cast encourages muscular atrophy.” But nothing could have prepared me for what my leg would like like.  It’s impossible to theorize the feeling until the actual experience.  I told a coworker later on, “Half of me is like those emo kids who wear skinny jeans and exist on cigarettes and pain.”  I am and always have been quite fond of my calves.  They are firm and toned and strong–but no more.  *sigh*

However, Dr. K (as I shall henceforth call my orthopedic surgeon) took one look at the X-rays and pronounced them “fantastic!” He twisted my foot up and down, pressed all over my ankle and leg, asked, “Does that hurt?” and everything, remarkably. felt fine.  He then instructed me to stay off it for another month and delivered the good news that I was ready for a boot.

They bring this thing in, and heavens, it’s heavy.  Dr. K’s assistant showed me how to put it on and take it off, instructed me on proper times to wear and not wear it (no more plastic bags in the shower), etc. I may use this same boot when I am allowed to begin weight-bearing again, as a walking cast.

So here I am today, staring at this boot because I feel like a Transformer or Tron or some weird kind of cyborg.  But if it helps, then that’s ok.  I’m adjusting slowly to the new weight distribution, and it’s going along pretty well.  That’s four weeks down, four more to go.

Scarf and Doorways and Dr. Who–Oh, my.

In 4 days, just 4 days, it will be a month since the ocean and I argued.  Excellent.  Since then, I’ve taken 7 showers and drank down nearly an entire container of vegan proteins.  I’ve taken up crochet as of last night and am creating a (rather lumpy) scarf for my friend in England.    The first row went well–my mother taught me how to make a simple chain when I was a little girl, and the technique came back easily enough.  The second row, well, I somehow messed up.  It’s as if I created the second row on top of the first row instead of alongside.  Hmm.  But I corrected the mistake and am working on the third row.  If I keep up the current pace, I will complete this scarf by July ^_^.  Perhaps by practicing more I shall speed it up a bit.

Anyway, in keeping track of my ankle this last week….yes, broken ankle is a pain, but livable at this point.  Fascinating the things that I never before noticed, such as my bathroom doorway being so narrow.  It’s a miracle I’ve remained upright whilst passing through.  Crutches make everything more awkward in terms of spatial relationships.  Also, I’ve been having some brief moments of pain in the ankle area, sharp twinges that don’t last too long but are concerning nonetheless.  I remind myself that anything hurts when it’s remodeling itself and that it’s nothing I can’t bear to withstand.  This attitude helps.

And I’ve once again found some peace of mind in Dr. Who episodes.  There is a goodness and purity of heart in certain BBC shows, and Dr. Who is definitely one of those shows.  Yesterday I watched Rose Tyler get sucked into a parallel universe and the Doctor weep. Then I saw Donna Noble take control of her depressing life and do amazing things like taking down Adipose Industries.  If I’m going to be house-bound each weekend, I might as well fill my life with experiences of the heart and bravery.

In the next post, I’ll be talking again about Bob Jones University and GRACE.  I completed an interview with the GRACE team a few weeks ago.  *Deep breath.*  Tears and peace.

19 Days Down

I’m about to begin my third week of being in a cast.  It’s been a trip so far.  Just one week ago I was feeling nauseated, uncomfortable, weak, and emotional, but this past Tuesday, I woke up with energy.  The Tylenol PM probably helped a lot.  My wife picked some up for me on her way home from work so that I could maybe get some rest, and it worked like a dream.  I’ve had to take it every night, but I cleared it with my doctor first.

Also last Tuesday, I met with my orthopedic surgeon to discuss my cast.  My toes had been going numb and purplish, and I was experiencing a lot of soreness and aches in my leg.  I wanted to make sure everything was ok.  Admittedly, I was overly anxious.  These thoughts kept going through my mind, “What if something’s wrong and it’s not healing right?”  Emotionally, I was wrecked because of it, and I’m glad I made the extra appointment to see the doctor.  He took off the cast (my leg was yellow and purple from the bruising–ick), took more X-rays, and recast it.  

The X-rays set my mind at ease almost immediately as they showed that the dislocation of my bone was set back in place and showing healing.  I’ve been able to relax now, knowing that, “Yes, it’s ok.  Of course it’s ok.”

This past week I also completed a full work week again.  It’s interesting.  On the outside, everything looks fine, but doing small tasks is very tiring.  I remember thinking, “Just put a cast on it, and everything will be ok,” but the healing process apparently takes a lot of energy.  Every day, however, I feel better, and this is encouraging.

In 10 days I return to the orthopedist for more X-rays and possibly/probably another cast.  He anticipates that I shan’t do any weight-bearing for another 4 weeks after that but thinks that a more comfortable splint may be applied at that time.  I am stil nervous, but now more hopeful.

I’ve begun researching alternative therapies as well to speed healing, therapies that I can self-direct.  For example, I do have a background in energy healing and have sent focused thought-Light energy to my body, specifically to my ankle.  I have researched lucid dreaming for healing the body as well, finding resources as far back as ancient Egypt for healing through dreaming.  I am determined to be active and assertive, at least in the power of my mind, so that I stop feeling so helpless.  The truth is, I’m not helpless at all!  This is truth that is good to consider daily.  My power has not fled because of the state of my body.  My power is real and always thriving inside my heart and mind.

In other news, I’ve decided to begin studying the life of Christ as revealed in the Biblical gospels.  I’m not Christian any longer–wait, let me rephrase.  I’m not ONLY Christian.  I would say that I want to be more Christ-like, which is why I am beginning this project.  Jesus of Nazareth who achieved Christhood makes me fall in love with spirit and goodness and truth, and I am eager to regain the sense of hope and peace that Christ brings.  Even if I never go to church again (not likely, as I enjoy it in the right context) or embrace the institution of Christianity, I understand somewhere inside myself that the message of Christ is one for everyone.

Sitting with Myself

About 11 days ago, I broke my ankle.  Since then, I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs, perhaps with today being the most emotional and a few days ago (6 days?) being the worst physically so far.  Today, I’m home alone as my wife is at work, and I’m doing what I can to keep myself sane.

I want to keep a sort of log about this process.  I’ve never broken anything before, and as far as breaks go, this apparently isn’t the worst one and may be one of the better breaks to have.  However, it’s still really annoying and hard to deal with.  I’m a healthy, independent, active person, and to sit here staring at walls and trying to keep my mind off worry is a lot harder than it might seem at first.

I go back to work on Monday.  I tired going back LAST Monday, but it was bad–nearly being sick, hot, sweaty, clammy, chills, and fever.  That’s what I get for trying to push myself.  So I spent the last five days sitting back at home.  Today and tomorrow, then I go back to the land of the living.  I will have to make sure that I don’t push myself at all, that I let my students know what’s expected and then let them be while I grade papers and whatnot.

So.  My body.  I started off taking Tramadol and prescription Ibuprofen.  Both of them made me nauseated, but the Ibuprofen far more so.  Stopped taking that and started taking Aleve.  After several days of feeling like I was going to have to throw up, I stopped taking the Tramadol.  Now I have some pain and discomfort, but it’s a decent trade off.  I also stopped taking the Aleve once it became clear it wasn’t keeping down the swelling and started last night with OTC Ibuprofen.  The swelling has definitely subsided, but my pinky toe is still numb which I think is a problem, and I will need to call on Monday to make sure my cast doesn’t need to be adjusted.

Sleeping is really difficult right now.  I have one option–one my back with my leg elevated.  It is incredibly difficult to do this every night, and I cannot wait till my next appointment so that I can ask about sleeping on my side.  I already tried, and it hurt, so it’ll be a few more sleepless nights, I guess, and that’s ok if it means my leg will heal faster.

My mom has been amazing, even from across the country.  Yesterday a package arrived with all manner of holistic cures–Vit. C powder, Vegan Certified Meal Replacer full of great proteins, L-Glutamine for my stomach, and Curamin for pain.  She offered to come out here and take care of me for a while, but I told her “no, thanks.”  I think I’ll be ok.

The worst part right now is coping with my brain spinning round and round.  But hopefully, after writing this all out, it’ll settle down a bit.

Does anyone out there have some advice that I could use?

A Random Post on a Random Afternoon

I’m being vain today.  I now fit into a size 12 again.  This makes me happy.  No longer am I an extra-large person.  This is very exciting for me. :)

Equally as lovely is listening to my Meat Loaf CD.  I love Jim Steinman’s music, and Meat Loaf delivers it so well.  Good job, kids.  Keep up the good work.  Gotta love all that piano and power chords.

And now I am catching up on COSMOS episodes.  Science, science, science!  Glorious science!  It has implications for me beyond what it might have for others.  Learning about “neutrinos,” and loving it.

Blessed Be Spring Break

We camped in the Ocala National Forest for two days earlier this week.  We discovered a magic there that hasn’t stopped calling since we left the Ozarks.  Now that I know it’s there, I feel much more alive here in Florida.

Southwest Florida is….sunny, yes.  Beautiful, yes.  Gorgeous beaches.  Gorgeous people.  It’s also a tourist destination and a home for the elderly from up north.  Definitely glad we moved here, but the area lacks something, that magic I referenced.  Everything caters to tourism and seems artificial.  Fort Myers is a mid-size town spread out enough so that it takes a while to get anywhere.  The art and music scene is dismal.  The local newspaper is a journalistic joke.  Everything costs–$2.00 to park at the beach, $6.00 to get to Sanibel Island, an additional $2.00 to park on Sanibel (per hour), and on and on.  A. and I continuously are amazed that Springfield, MO has more culture than where we are now.

But then we went to Ocala and were in the woods and in the mineral springs and hiking trails (6 miles in 1 morning! Awesome!) and generally reconnecting with ourselves, each other, and the natural world.  So what if we both got chigger and tick bites?  So what if an inch-long spider was discovered outside the campground bathroom just meters away from our tent?  We saw lakes and rivers and sinkholes and clear blue waters and jungle and pine trees and sand scrub forest and birds and raccoons and deer.  We woke up with the sun and cuddled warmly together in our tent at night under mounds of blankets.  Some of the best sleep and rest and activity we’ve had since moving here.

In the car driving home, we both vowed to bring the experience home.  And so far, it’s working.  I’m happy where we are, even if Ft. Myers is bizarrely lacking in the arts.  I’m writing again, so there’s that.  And the magic comes from inside, this I know.  Here’s to love and truth in the Universe.

Lake Eaton
Lake Eaton

Being Gay at Bible College

Author’s Note:  I wrote this article for BJUnity several months ago and recently rediscovered it in my drafts folder.  The chapel services mentioned in the article took place in November 2013, and audio of the services was given to us so that it would be made available to anyone who wants to know what goes on behind the chapel doors of Fundamentalism (thanks to our good friends at BJU News).

Since these horrendous and completely misinformed attempts at “explaining” homosexuality, BJU has been in the media again for its firing of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.), a third-party organization hired by the University to investigate, objectively, how Bob Jones U handles reports of sexual abuse.  GRACE worked for over a year collecting surveys filled out by past and present students as well as conducting interviews in person and over the phone.  I was one of those participants.  Even though I never had an in-person interview, the entire process was still exhausting and terrifying.  Even though I, personally, have never been sexually abused, per say, I was sexually harassed, both in regular life and at BJU.  I had a stalker for two years on campus (another student) and was told that he would receive “spiritual counseling” if it continued and that I should trust God.  Never once was I encouraged to report this student to the police.  Never once was I informed that stalking is a punishable offense by the law.  Also, while at Bob Jones, on a mission trip actually, I and the other women on the mission team were forced to sit through a scolding by our male team leader, in front of the males in our group as well, as he came down rather harshly on how we dressed.  Now, none of us ladies are what you might call curvy, and what prompted this talk was that three young Korean men who were practicing martial arts outside the subway station came up to one of the girls in our group and told her she was beautiful.  Our team leader told us that if we’d been appropriately dressed, that would have never happened, that those young men were lusting and that it was our fault for being immodest.  I remember feeling skeezy afterward, sick to my stomach that we’d just been objectified by this man for “the glory of God.”

All that providing some sort of context–about a month before GRACE was due to finalize its report on BJU’s handling of reports of sexual abuse, BJU inexplicably fired GRACE.  This created an uproar in several different communities–Greenville, SC, Fundamentalist circles, Evangelical circles, etc, and even was picked up by the New York Times.  After three weeks of going nowhere, BJU rehired GRACE.  I would encourage anyone to read the links posted here, as they give much more information than what I can adequately express.

So much thanks to friends and allies all across the country who are getting involved to shine the light of love and truth inside the dark, dank caves of Fundamentalist mentality that is so rampant in institutions such as Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian College: John Shore, Unfundamentalist Christians, Phil Snider, and Hannah Proctor, just to name a few.  This fight is just about gay rights in the church or in the country.  It’s about exposing the toxins and spiritual abuse that permeate nearly every interaction with Fundamentalist culture and the hold it has on our society, much to the dismay of those who have never encountered it first-hand. It’s for Christians and pagans and agnostics and atheists and Hindus and Buddhists.  It’s a human rights issue, and we are working every day to illuminate more.


 

November 2013.

This week, every chapel service at Bob Jones University is dedicated to the Biblical response to homosexuality.  Upon hearing this news, my heart sank for every single student that has to sit through these services. The harm these services create in everyone who listens is impossible to describe.

I don’t remember a lot of details that dealt with homosexuality specifically from my time at Bob Jones University .  What I do remember is, I believe, very telling.  My sophomore year, Bob Jones III read an “angry” letter from a lesbian woman as proof that homosexuality creates, or is possibly a result of, utter depravity.  While I don’t recall everything the letter said, I know that the writer said she no longer believed the lies she’d heard as a student at BJU so many years ago.  “Dr. Bob” ripped into her in a way that shocked me.  At the time, I couldn’t say for sure what I believed about my own sexuality (doubting it, I’m sure, at odds with myself), but the vitriolic tone he took toward her in his public response exhibited nothing of Christlike behavior.  He took pride and pleasure at being able to tear her down.  I remember my surprise then anger that a professed man of God could and would hide behind the mask of Christian superiority to mock and publicly humiliate, slander, and destroy the reputation of another human being.  He, of course, followed this up with the familiar plea to the student body that if “this University ever falls away from God, close the doors of this institution,” or something like that.

Another incident I remember happened the second semester of my freshman year when George W. Bush was looking at making DOMA more hetero-friendly (as if it weren’t already).  Bob Jones III begged us as students to write to our Senators and Representatives to back up the President and protect America for God.  Much to my dismay today, I wrote to my Senator, pleading that she support marriage between one man and one woman.  Today, I am so ashamed of this action on my part.  What surprised me is that she wrote me back, explaining states’ rights and why DOMA violated these rights. She encouraged me to contact her with any further questions.  Now, I don’t believe that if I would have written back that she would remember me.  But I was impressed, and quieted, by her graceful response to my emotional outburst.  I began to think that perhaps all I knew was wrong.

Artist's Series September 2002 at BJU
Artist’s Series September 2002 at BJU

I remember the general attitude amongst the student body toward the homosexual lifestyle and gay agenda to be reflective of the administration’s attitude.  First, everyone really thought that there is a gay agenda and that it is to tear down the family, the nation, and the will of God.  Apparently this made it ok to vilify and mock those who “struggle with same-sex attraction.”  My sophomore year, one of the biggest stories in the women’s dorms was of a group of five women who were kicked out for allegedly showering together in a massive lesbian orgy.  People weren’t shocked so much; they were disgusted and made crude jokes.  Another example of the culture toward the gay community was that for a period of time (maybe still today) one of the male dorms was known as the “gay” dorm.  Guys would make jokes about being molested at night, waking up with sore rear ends, etc.  At the time, it was all a part of being a student at Bob Jones University.  Having been out of that for several years now, I see it as being, at best, a horrific denial of sexual abuse.

All of this and more to say, I know what it’s like.  I know what it’s like to push down the feelings and the hurt and the reality that I didn’t fit in.  And I remember when it all added up to enough, and when I started to stop caring, and when I got so depressed that my best friend dragged me to a counselor, and when the depression gave way to fury.  Fury because I knew that somehow I’d been lied to about the nature of God, the nature of reality, the nature of religion and fundamentalism.  Fury because people I’d trusted had knowingly hidden the truth.

I left.  I had to.  If I hadn’t, I would have been expelled though I’d done nothing wrong other than question the University.  And leaving didn’t make the hurt go away.  I had to search myself and everything I’d grown up with.  Some of it I rejected, and some of it I held on to, and perhaps most importantly, I added to myself by embracing more than the limited perspectives of my childhood and my education.

When I was at Bob Jones, there was no group like BJUnity to help me.  I came to the realization of myself mostly by myself.  But becoming a part of BJUnity a couple years ago helped me heal the wounds I was still carrying around.

For some students at Bob Jones University, leaving is not an option for one reason or another.  Protect yourselves.  Do not give in to the rhetoric of the pulpit.  Do not surrender your rights thinking the administration will help you.  Reach out for honest help.

For those students, and for anyone else struggling with reconciling their faith and self-worth to their inborn sexuality, let BJUnity help.  We remember.  We know.