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Monday, January 27, 2014

What I Wanted to Be

Growing up, every girl has a dream of what they imagine growing up will be like. From the kind of hobbies you will have to the man you marry, a girl who dreams can create some big standards for herself.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a cheerleader, but if you know anything about me I couldn't do that for health reasons. I was 12 and in Rec Department cheerleading when I found out about my scoliosis. The coach was my cousin and knew I wasn't going to be held back by it, so it was never an issue, even with the brace. I was just so happy to finally be a cheerleader!

Then comes age 16: the first (and only) time I tried out for cheerleading.

I made the JV squad since it was my first year and was beyond happy, however I wasn't popular and was the new fish in the sea of pom poms and hair bows. Naturally, I tried my best to smile and come out of my shell in order to fit in. I had a cousin on the squad, which made things easier as far as making friends went. I was welcome by everyone... except the captain. It wasn't anything negative about my cheering or my personality that bugged her. It was the threat of competition. It was made very apparent that she was not captain based on her cheering capability.

I know this sounds like bragging, but I am just speaking truth. All my friends and family told me that I was definitely one of the best on the squad, even the varsity coach said so.

Why is this such a big deal? Isn't this a bit juvenile for you?

Maybe... but that isn't the end of this story.

As time went on, her jealousy turned me against cheerleading and ultimately led me to quitting the squad, a decision I will regret forever.

I did try to reconnect with my inner-cheerleader during college. There were a group of girls who resurrected the Emmanuel cheerleading squad. I had befriended them at the gym, and, after some impressive dance and cheering exercises, they wanted me to join the squad. The unfortunate part was I could never be a cheerleader again. The summer the squad was to debut at camp, I would be having my spine surgery. This was a devastating blow to my mantra of not letting anything hold you back.

Reminiscing on what I wanted to be, life isn't how I expected it to be. At age 13, I wrote down a list of goals I wanted to accomplish in life. Somewhere along the line, I lost the list. To this day I don't have much to show for it. As hard as one may try, there are always limitations that will cause your goals to go unmet. The limitations can be physical, mental, or even spiritual. Whatever the limitations, one should never give up simply because a goal was unmet, or a dream ended. Limitations are not the end of the world. They are a chance to back up and start over.

Maybe now is a good time to reassess my life goals and start a new list, a more mature list. Maybe one with more depth than my 13 year old self had.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Captivating Women

Going through some old documents, I found something that you, my readers, will find inspiring. Today I would like to share a book review I wrote in college.
Captivating, written by John and Stasi Eldredge in 2005, has been an inspiration to women around the world. In the book, the authors discuss a variety of issues women face through the course of their lives, bringing to light how these issues have drug us down and made us feel devalued. They have brought us away from how God originally created women to be … captivating. For example, a little girl twirling in a poufy skirt is showing the world she can be captivating and wishes for her father, who is sitting in his favorite chair, to notice her. Through this small action, she feels lovely and wants her father to notice her. But does he? Women often ask others if they are worthy of love and truly beautiful, whether with words or actions. Sometimes these answers are yes. Other times they are no, and the girl in the example is left disappointed and possibly scarred, thinking that she is not worthy.
In the chapter “What Eve Alone Can Tell,” it mentions that by looking at the story of creation, women can understand how they are supposed to be. As segments of Genesis chapters one and two are dissected for us by the authors, we see the progression of creation. From the beginning of the book, I was enchanted at the truths the authors were revealing. According to the feminist movement, women are not some fragile, kitchen-dwelling creature, they are equal with men. Although a woman can hold any position a man can, there is something the creation story reveals that shows why woman is called the "weaker vessel". Adam was created n the wilds, not the softness and beauty of the garden. 
Within every man is a desire for "roughing it," as well as leading and providing for his family. Adam was a man's man. He gathered and provided, he was given the daunting task of naming all the animals. Eve was blessed to be created within the garden where she never had to gather and provide. She just had to walk up to the nearest tree and eat the fruit. God wanted Adam to keep her safe and protected to fulfill his roles as a man.Women are not supposed to carry the weight of responsibility that men do. The Bible is very clear on the roles of men and women. Man is the head of the house, in which he will face consequences if he leads his family astray. Women are supposed to be caretakers, but not simple housewives that are only supposed to cook, clean, and have babies. That role isn't for everyone. For a further example of women's roles, see Proverbs 31.

So women were created to be emotional, soft, and strong? Yes, they are! Women are actually created to be the most delicate, beautiful, and captivating part of creation. If one were to look at the elevation of intricacy within creation, one would discover that as time goes on, the creature becomes more intricate, more beautiful, and at the pinnacle of it all was woman. All my life I had been put down by other people, both male and female. As a result I had acquired the idea that I am ugly, unaccepted, and worthless, but when I began reading this book I started seeing myself in a different light. Could I really be beautiful, loved, and pricelessAt first I couldn't grasp these ideas, but as the book went on I began to see myself differently. I was noticing all the scars life had given meStill there was something that still ached inside of me. I wanted to know that I am beautiful. To heal that ache I would have to look at the oldest story known: the story of creation. 
The scene begins with the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters in darkness. According to the Bible, the earth was without form. It was the perfect blank canvas, a new lump of clay waiting to be molded. It was the breathless moment before the first line of a play is presented. Then God spoke and created light. Next he made land, a great divide to separate the waters, and he brought the water into one place. The first brush strokes have been made. God next adds detail, designs, and color. Grass, flowers, plants, and trees appear in every direction. God then creates the heavens. Numerous stars began to appear in the void above, and so did the sun and the moon. 
Next are the animals both small and large – land, sea, and air alike. In everything, creation is ascending in its beauty and complexity. It seems like God is becoming more creative as he goes along. Each creature is more intricate than the one before it. All led up to the moment where God places his own image on earth. God created man. Still something was missing. God couldn't fit all his personality into one human being. There had to be a balance to man’s rough and rugged nature. There needed to be woman. 
Imagine the first time Adam saw Eve. I could imagine it resembling the painting of the birth of Venus. Eve’s hair gently caressing her soft skin as all nature stops to watch her. She is the most beautiful of all God’s creation. Eve is the pinnacle of God’s masterpiece, the one thing that completes the world. She holds the loving heart of God in her chest.
As the book continues, it speaks about God being harsh and loving, rugged and delicate at the same time. God’s heart is so big that he had to divide these emotions and needs into two different human beingsThe emotions and needs of the genders are separated so that, when brought together, they complete each other. An example of this is how a husband and wife are said to balance each other. Women were created as the more delicate vessel, and the Bible states that it is the man’s job to protect woman. Think about the games kids play. The boys are tackling each other, or fighting with stick-swords to show they are worthy of whatever they are fighting for, while girls are playing princess or some other game that involves them being rescued. They want a knight in shining armor to rescue them from their predicament, whether it is a dragon or, as women grow up, their own broken heart. 
There is a purpose for everything God creates. As Psalms states God knew us from the time we were in our mother’s womb. He created us with a purpose. He created us with needs and wants, as well as the need and desire to be loved. God made woman to be loving, compassionate, emotional, and beautiful. He saved woman for last so she could be the final touch of creation. Without her, creation isn't complete. Eve was God’s piece de resistance. She was the last brushstroke that completed God’s work of artShe saw everything it its entirety, because after her creation God saw that it was good, and he rested.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I'm Back!

After a long three weeks, I am back and better than ever... almost. My back surgery went well and I have had a very minor complication. Apparently I am allergic to certain pain medications. The only thing I am dealing with now is the damaged nerves coming back to life, which will heal in time. After all, my body has three years of damage to fix.

During this time, I had to use aids for walking and getting around. I was issued a walker for at home, and a wheelchair for going out in public. At home, I would sit in the wheelchair because it was the only thing that I was comfortable in. Outside the house, I would use it in stores, restaurants, and other places to keep myself from exhausting and overworking my already tired body.

I have a dear friend who has gone through similar health issues and uses a wheelchair all the time. Even though I only used mine for a few weeks, it gave me a glimpse into her life that I never had before.

What bothered me the most from the experience was the response from society. Never in my life have I gotten looks like I did. It was all pity and fake smiles because someone as "young" as myself was in a wheelchair. I also realized that most stores are NOT friendly to people in my situation. There were some stores I couldn't even get into because of the closeness of the racks. The height of the clothing on the shelves also made it difficult to shop. I was constantly bypassing items because I couldn't get a clear view of them. Store staff were not the least bit helpful, even in stores that I frequent, the clerks were passing me by.

If stores wanted to improve, I would suggest starting with the layout and considering those who cannot reach high to pull down a sweater, or even get through the store. I would also say to train the staff to be more willing to help when they see a need.

In other news, my staples came out Tuesday and I am more like myself than ever. I am no longer relying on my walking aids and am back at school teaching. One great benefit to this surgery was weight loss. I have gone from 183 lbs to 169 lbs in a month! I am very happy for this news. Now I have to lose at least four more pounds and I will be within my BMI. As soon as the doctor clears me for exercise, I am going to begin kettleball and resistance band exercises to help strengthen and tone my body. I do not want to lose too much weight, but I do want to be at a healthy weight and still have killer curves! Also, my family invited Kevin and I on vacation with them, and I definitely want to be able to wear a bikini and look as good as a Kardashian or model Katie Green!

As I go through this transition, I will be posting scoliosis and joint friendly exercises to help those (like me) who want low impact exercises.