Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bye Bye Boogie Man

It's been months since I've posted a blog. College isn't conducive to blogging, but I'll be in college for a while. I might as well adjust. It's incredible how much my view of the world has changed in such a short time. As a point of order I will note that these changes will sway the focus of the following posts.

A friend of mine told me that I was proud. She pointed it out in the conversation about how much I've changed. It's funny because I always thought that pride had a negative connotation. I presented myself modestly. Pride and confidence go together, and they come from eliminating fear.

I think the way to eliminate fear is by learning. (Of course you gain new fear with this, too.) It seems like society could do without some of its exessive fear. I'm not afraid anymore, and it feels great. It's unnessecary to be afraid of unsubstantiated extrapolations made by profit-seeking entrepaneaurs, and accepted by misinformed consumers. Critical thinking is freeing. Now I'm only slightly afraid of the implications of these people's actions, but not of the boogie man.

I also have a band called Spring Heeled Jack. (I thought this might be a good place to do a little advertising.) Check us out on FaceBook. We have a public performance this Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today I let my mind indulge in a feast.

My thoughts this morning were unusually peaceful. I think my happiness directly correlates with the initiative I have recently taken to follow my happiness. It is similar to "showing my life who's boss" and "doing whatever I want," but I think following my happiness is a more accurate way of putting it, although cliche.

A distinction I want to make is that my happiness and my pleasure are not synonymous. There is a big difference between the feeling in my stomach when I experience pleasure in life and the feeling in my chest when I experience equal gravity on either shoulder. Being perfectly centered is the way that I can live my life for myself, in peace.

It's extra wonderful when happiness and pleasure intermingle. It's like simultaneously eating ice cream and accepting my appearance. I used to think the two were opposing forces, but now I know they can coexist.

During lunch today, I went to the Exton Diner by myself. I've dined alone on multiple occasions, and I usually find that wait staff are extra nice to the lone diner. The hostess asked, "Alone today?" When I responded with a smile and nod, she said, "Well then let's get you fed." I wasn't put off by this but I thought it was unusually friendly. Then she seated me at a booth next to a window and noted the nice view. I don't know if this anicdote is relevant, but it felt like an important part of my day. I think I learned something without knowing it. Independence commands respect. Youth attracts compassion. The two combined are really useful.


I have a brief (hopefully) non sequitur.

The first is the most random and absurd. This morning I was wandering in my sleepiness and the word broom occurred to me.
For one, I realized that broom is the conjunction of the words bride and groom. I imagined a couple skipping out on their wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and in their place, a broom. I pictured a priest speaking to the broom, marrying it.
The second thing that I thought was strange about the word broom is it's verb. Okay, to explain, usually nouns have correlating verbs. This is especially true of tools that have a specific purpose.
For example:
A vacuum vacuums.
A blender blends.
A screwdriver screws or unscrews.
This being said, a broom sweeps. What? This might be a strange thing to think extensively about, but I am a strange girl.


The other random (yet actually applicable and relevant) thing I want to talk about is Aristotle's appeals of persuasion. Last night in conversation among friends I brought up The Trivium which is a three part system of education used in medieval universities concerning logic, grammer, and rhetoric. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos were mention and my mind was sparked. So, today I did some research between classes and found an article called "The Appeals: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos" by Professor Jeanne Fahnestock of The University of Maryland. (It's funny because Fahnestock Road was the name of my childhood
street.) The following is my perception and summary of this article.

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Ethos is a person's credibility, Pathos is emotional identity, and Logos is logic. The three combined are believed to be the elements of effective rhetoric.

Ethos is the Greek word for character. Aristotle taught that a person believed to be warm and considerate, as well as reputable, is more likely to have skills in persuasion. Extrinsic Ethos is whatever you know about a writer or speaker before experiencing their message. This could be their educational experience or their title as an authority figure. Intrinsic Ethos is the way a writer's character is portrayed through their writing.

In my opinion the way to effectively implement this into one's writing would be to write as though you are an authority on the subject in which you write. You don't have to have a degree on the subject matter (Or extrinsic ethos) to know exactly what you are talking about and to be perceived that way. If you believe what you are writing and can convey that, you cannot go wrong here.

Pathos is your emotional identity. Your abiblity to incite emotions like anger, surprise, sadness, pity, or ecstacy in a reader has an enormous impact on the way that your message is perceived. This is the way a writer or speaker identifies with an audience. Relating to their interests is the essence of pathos. Of course, emotions can be used to sway an argument in a biased direction, but this is where Logos comes in.

Logos is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of any argument. To illustrate rigorous logic, one's message must be consistent and clear. If there is no logic in your beliefs, your beliefs are most likely false. Logic gives us the ability to identify fallacies. This skill is tremendously important in our current media and consumer-driven society.

According to Aristotle, The premise of an argument must be based on a set of agreements. These are facts and values that one can build a sound opinion upon.

This is the very reason that it is difficult to argue with a person with completely different moral standards than you. Unfortunately, these are the people I would be most likely to start an argument with. Using logic in these circumstances is key. I have found that I can pick out small things that I agree with them on to bring about our harmonious logic.

To argue about religion, I always begin by teaching perspective. First I talk about the way we feel about the things we believe. Upon these agreements, we can build perspective on other religions.

Another tough audience is a person with little logic to begin with. These people require time-consuming arguments because you must ask them questions to get them to excersize their logic, but it works eventually. In my mind, this is also the essence of the socratic method.

For a less swayed view on Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, I recommend finding an article that displays these three elements of rhetoric better.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Religion in Schools

For school I was asked to write a journal entry on whether or not religion belongs in school. It was a good opportunity to explore my opinion.

Does Religion Belong in Schools?

My opinion is that school provides an opportunity to expand a student’s knowledge and experience. To that end, schools should never hide information from a child. If a student is ready to ask about something, they are ready to know. With the internet so readily supplying information and opinions on any subject, it is an educator’s duty to supply young minds with different perspectives.

Since religion is an enormous cultural constant in every society, children need to be aware of its vastness. An important lesson in humanity is when you realize that people can unite in their differences. The world’s religions all have important philosophy in them, and it is valuable for children to be exposed to different ideas.

Preaching Christianity to a small child will get the job done if your goal is to make him or her a Christian. However, if your goal is to help a child make positive decisions in their life, you have to present them with their options and let them decide.

Religions can provide a student with different ways to deal with conflicts. A teacher could even reference different religions during times of conflict and discord. Integrating different perspectives can break the tension in a room, making a classroom run more smoothly.

Religion should be taught as a tool to understanding humanity and recognizing consistencies in humankind. The goal in teaching children about religion should not be to coerce them into one philosophy, but to give them a means to create their own.

Also, here's a link:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lighthouses and Buoys

Something I have learned is that it is easy for me to give good advice. It is something that comes naturally to me. Of course "good advice" is subjective, but that's not applicable to the point I want to make. The best advice given is the advice that is dually followed. A lot of times I hear myself give advice, and I'm like, Damn, that's exactly what I needed to hear.

That's why I enjoy when people ask for advice. Human connection helps me see myself more clearly. Sometimes the only way I can be convinced to follow my gut feeling is if it comes out of my own mouth in words of advice to a loved friend. People are reflections of my reality. Relationships provide depth perception in the sea that is life. The big relationships are like lighthouses, small ones are like buoys. I won't elaborate on that metaphor for brevity's sake, but think about it.

Often times in my life, people function as mirrors. There is a beautiful chain of perception that occurs. First, I perceive you. Then, I perceive you perceiving me. In the relationships I invest the most in, I am the most concerned with that person's perception of me. I want to look good in their mirror. I want to look good for them and me.

A few times in my life, I have found myself investing too much in a single relationship. It is often when it is a new relationship that I am excited to establish. The side affect is that I neglect established relationships and backwardly prioritize my schedule of commitments. It's painful for the people that I have neglected. Leaving a codependent relationship is one of the hardest changes I have made.

Imagine only ever looking at a mirror from one angle. There are infinite angles to see yourself from, why in the world would you only use one? What about being the only way a person determines their perception of themselves? A heavy weight. I think after a little while you'd start to look the same as one another. The kicker is that neither would notice, because your world is too small.

I said earlier that I wouldn't elaborate, but I must: If you are in the ocean and need to remember where a location is, you must look to the land for two points of orientation. Seeing only one lighthouse, you would be lost. With only buoys to give well-intended directions on to other buoys, it would only allow fleeting perspective.

There is nothing like a quick indulgence in metaphor before bed. It also helps me say things without saying them. I love language.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm the Boss.

After my realization that I have the capacity to do whatever I want, I decided that I'm going to do exactly whatever I want. I don't need anyone to tell me what to do.

In fact, a life that is spent doing what people tell you to do, is a life misrepresenting who you are.

There are always things to consider- like the legal system, other people's feelings, etc. I think I'm going to put on my cowgirl boots and show my life who's boss.

I'm going to marinate on this one for a while.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Community and Family

Recently, I've been hypothesizing about Intentional Communities and their benefits. I made some lists and did some research. I got together with one of my friends to talk about it and I have become further intrigued. This is a long-term goal of mine, but I think I might like to have my family be a part of such a community.

Since this is such a long term idea, I was thinking about how I can apply the beliefs of my hypothetical commune to my current family situation. I'm living with my dad full time for the first time since my parents got divorced when I was four. It's totally new. I'm testing those limits again. How is their noise tolerance at night? How do I know what I should eat? Where does this go? It's bizarre to feel that way in a familiar house. I'm learning everything slowly, but surely and it feels so good. I can sculpt my relationships and choose how I spend my time. I'm kind of starting over.

I'm learning how to take joy in things like doing the dishes. The best way to find joy is to watch for the benefits of your actions. When I do dishes, I clear my mind, remove a small burden from my folks, and I feel acomplished afterwards. That's enough for me. In addition to those things, I am also creating a place in their family community. And, it's not just doing dishes. It's having an honest conversation(and present human connection) or having dinner at the dinner table, running for groceries or getting the mail. I get to give myself the rules that I would give my nineteen year old, within the guidlines my parents provide. I'm making up my life's rules, establishing values. I have a feeling that this is really important, developmentally. My advice to myself: find joy in everything even if it takes you a while. Joy is more of a practice than an event, anyway.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life is Made Up of Days.

Recently, I've been having a lot of Good Days. I know it was a Good Day because at the end I don't feel tense or worried. I have no guilt feelings or anxious thoughts. Nothing unusual has to happen, it just has to be peaceful.

Today I was thinking, What is different about me on these Good Days? What do I do differently? After all, that might be a great secret of life. How can we have a Good Day everyday?

TANGENT: Before I continue, I must veer off my train of thought. Good Days are not always easy days. Some of my best days are the hardest. At the end of a hard day, emotionally or otherwise, I know that I worked hard and did my very best. Something I have learned is that when pain comes, it carries gifts. Spiritual progress depends on it.

Now, back to the question at hand: How do we have more Good Days? My day is usually determined by how I cope with emotions and people. The following is what I have found that I do consistantly on my Good Days.

I treat positive emotions like sweet lemonade. When a good thought enters my mind, I recognize it and drink it in. I don't hold onto it too tightly because I don't want to spoil it. If it re-enters my mind later, though, that's great. All this being said, positive emotions are not usually the difficult part.

Negative emotions are these things that everyone likes to reject. I used to live in fear of feeling bad things. The truth is that negative thoughts are important. They maintain balance. You actually cannot live your life completely free from negativity. The way I like to deal with negative emotions is very similar to the way I deal with positive emotions. I recognize them, feel them, and let them go. I have to be careful not to be afraid of them and reject them. They won't go away that way, they just build up. Dealing with emotions as they happen is way easier than having all sorts of baggage to sort through down the road. Who needs more baggage? Not I. Emotions are best when they are ripe from the vine.

For example today: At work I answered the telephone, "Primo Hoagies?" The woman that was on the line was condescending and rude towards me. She acted like I was the scum of the town. I responded to her rudeness with kindness and politeness. I hung up after I took her order and just thought, What a bitch. Then I thought, Oh well. I don't have to be. That was that. When she came in to pick up her food she was just as rude, and I was just as polite. It didn't effect me at all after that point. I suppose thinking, What a bitch wasn't the very best reaction, but it worked. And, I'm human.

We can treat people like emotions. When I meet a person, the first thing I try to think is, I wonder what lesson this person is here to teach me? I don't think, How's this guy going to mess up my day? Or, Who's this jerk? Recieving people with no expectations is what my last blog was about, and I think it's important. If people are disrespectful, let them go. If you must say something, you can say, "I don't have room in my life for people who don't treat me well." Or, if your into brevity, "Please leave." You can always just say nothing and leave. It is not your obligation to put up with non-sense.

I attended a workshop last Sunday called, "Experiencing and Expressing Joy in Parenting." It was hosted by Mary Kegelman (AHSC member). One thing that she discussed is that if you resent your child it is because you have not protected your own rights. In my own words, allowing people to do what they want with me and never speaking my truth with them, makes me cranky. It also inhibits my Good-Day-having skills.

Another time I'll talk about Bad Days, but first I have to have one or a series of them.

To conclude, the recurring theme seemed to be: Relax. Relate. Release. With people and emotions I just have to give them permission to enter and also exit. Remember: Drink lemonade, eat fruit ripe off the vine, and remember to be nice to mean people. Just don't let them continue to be mean.

Life is made up of days. I want mine to be good.