Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day for me

My family after being baptized and taking communion for the first time. :) 
Valentine's Day is the anniversary of when my family and I were baptized and chrismated into the Orthodox Church. It was Forgiveness Sunday and the beginning of lent as well. It was overwhelming and incredible.

This year is the 7th anniversary and I have grown in my faith and my understanding of the church. What I most love is how my participation on the liturgy and life of the church has grown.

The blessing of the waters for baptism
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's day and celebrate those you love. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Spiritual in School: Fasting on a Campus

So first of all story time about the picture above. I got a new vegetarian cookbook and was flipping through it to mark recipes that sounded interesting. I notices that some were marked fast and my brain immediately thought it mean fast friendly for orthodox. After a few minutes I realized that it actually was referring to cooking time. I told my closest friend(who is not orthodox but well aware of it) and she called me a nerd. :)

Fasting on a campus can be a struggle. Vegetarian options can be sparse and hard to find, let alone vegan options. I do live at home so I can for the most part provide my own food for breakfast and lunch at school and on occasion buy lunch and/or breakfast. There have been many moments during lent or nativity fast that I stared at the menu boards and struggled to figure out which would be the best of the 2 vegetarian options. To be honest I am not sure I can provide any good advice for someone who lives on campus as I eat pretty much my own food during fasting seasons. One of my other struggles is living in a family where there are health concerns and not everyone can fast in the same way. So the meals we eat together(mostly dinner) do not follow the fast in exactly the way I want to fast. But at this moment I chose to practice being thankful for the food my parents are giving me and that I have parents who are willing to give me food for free while a young adult in college.

But I can tell you that one thing that I struggle with is coffee. I love coffee. It is hard to drink a latte with soy milk rather than my favorite 2%. So I have found that what is best is for me to bring black tea to school. I prefer black tea with milk and sugar but I can drink it with just sugar(or no sugar) and it is not as difficult as a soy latte. Also it can save me some money. That is my one fasting tip. Drink tea instead of coffee. Also eat a lot of vegetables for lunch. I do recommend making overnight oatmeal for breakfast as you can take that to school and I can change between regular milk and almond milk.

My best advice is to do what you can and to follow the spirit of the fast and to also attend church during a fast. I would also recommend talking to your parish priest about what would be best for you to do.

Much Love

Monday, January 9, 2017

Spiritual in School: The College Job

a picture from when I worked for catering
So I have worked a few different jobs now in my college career and I will write a different blog post talking about each of them. My first job, and the one I want to talk about today, was with the catering department on campus. I worked for them for two school years and two summers. It was not a fun job, quite frankly it was a really sucky job. But what can you do when you are a college student desperate for a job?

But this is a series about being spiritual and practicing orthodox faith while in school so why talk about a job? For one thing my first boss(we went through a lot of bosses and supervisors) found out I was an orthodox christian and asked me lots of questions about it. He had been learning about it from a class that he was taking at the university and was excited to me a practitioner. I lived out my faith through the job by answering his questions.

I know also that I had questions from co-workers, mostly along the lines of "what is that?" and "I have never heard of that?". Even in the sucky food service job that I worked through college I was able to share my faith. I am not one to just go about announcing my faith but when I asked I answer. I am a more "actions speak louder than words" and I hope that how I treated my co-workers and performed my job was able to speak about my faith.

Much love

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Spiritual While in School: Let us Attend

My parish decorated for Palm Sunday
As you may have guessed this post is about church service attendance. It is the most important thing that you can do. Through attending church we are spiritually fed by the service and by partaking in communion. It is way to set aside time to participate in prayer and worship. Attending church can also be beneficial for destressing. It is something we are familiar with and know the rhythm of the service. It can be a time to clear our minds from our worldly cares and focus on the heavenly world.

Make a commitment to Sunday morning liturgy and strive to attend that the most. Vespers and an occasional evening service are good to attend as well once in a while. For Holy Week there are so many services but not everyone can always make it to all of them. I try to aim for all the evening services prioritizing holy Unction and my personal favorites. Often when I know holy week is coming I try to get ahead on some of my school work that I can so that I am not stressed about school while trying to attend services. When I was working for a particular catering job, I would request the evenings after 5pm off for religious reasons. Because the schedule changed form week to week I just had to give far enough notice in advance.

I understand the struggles of attending church there have been many times when I have not attended because a final project was due or finals were coming up. I have also not attended church because of work. I worked a for catering for 2 of my college years and if I worked a 7 hour shift on Saturday I would come home exhausted and none of my homework for Monday done. I didn't go to church the next day unless it was a feast day. I have one particular summer memory of working a 50 hour work week in food service and that Sunday being my first day off and I just needed to sleep. I wish I had been better about church attendance but it is the past and I know I can only go forward and keep working on it.

Much love

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Orthodox Christians in College: Spiritual While in School

I am now entering my senior year at university and graduation is impending on the horizon. I have been an orthodox christian now since I was 14 and it is coming up on my(and my family's) seventh anniversary of our chrismation. It has been great to go through college and while I am thrilled and ready to be graduating I am also going to miss it.

There are some things that I wish I had know, or had a resource for as a college student and an orthodox christian. I wish someone had been able to tell me how to practice faith while also living the busy life of a student. Perhaps someone did try to tell me and I just didn't listen carefully. I have decided that I would like to to a post series on how I have struggled to maintain my practice of my faith through my college career and still struggle to do as graduation comes ever nearer. I expect some posts will describe particular things I have done, and some posts may talk about experiences. I would also like to be honest about my own struggles and failings because this is hard and not easy to do.

I will be speaking from my particular experience of college that I know may not match all persons. I lived at home with my parents while attending a private lutheran university and that impacted how I was able to attend church. For one thing I didn't have to find a new parish and for another I was able to stay connected to my family. Some of what I have done through my college experience for my faith may not be applicable to someone who is living in a dorm, but I do hope that some of it is.

I hope that someone will benefit from this series and grow. Knowing that other people struggle the same as you do I know can be helpful to just know.

I am very blessed to attend a school where Abbot Tryphon has visited regularly. :) This is from a couple years ago when I got him to take a picture with me.

Much love

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Riley & Buffy Make me Uncomfortable

I have recently gotten into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and if you are familiar with the show you know that Buffy has a few different serious relationships throughout the show. This can of course lead to the shipping wars. There are those who ship Buffy/Angel, Buffy/Riley, and Buffy/Spike. I have not don't have a particular camp that I hang out in as I think there are positive and negative aspects to all the relationships and there are definitely unhealthy aspects to them. However, as far as annoying my feminist and setting off warning bells in my head Riley was the main one. You would think the Vampire ones would but they don't have the subtle misogyny that comes out in Riley.

Riley is a sweet genuinely nice guy. His is cute and charming overall there is really nothing to complain about. He is the kind of guy that you would want to bring home to mom. In that sense I like him. However when he finds out that Buffy is the Slayer and that she is stronger than him he does a classic white male reaction. He is ego is threatened he questions his masculinity and he puts all of this on Buffy and makes her have to deal with it when she cannot help who she is or how he reacts to it.

Riley is also a little obnoxiously determined that it is his duty as Buffy's boyfriend to protect her even though she tells him she does not need it and that what he is doing is actually more of a hindrance to her because she is afraid he will get hurt. He is so stuck in the ideas that he is the male protector and has to do his job that he cannot see Buffy as the strong independent very very not damsel-in-distress that she is. He is unwilling to see her as someone who is able to defend herself without his needing to save her. Buffy is willing to work in a side-by-side fighting relationship with him but Riley can't move past his own issues to be that.

Riley says that why he behaves the way he does is because he loves her and does not want her to get hurt and this is a clever disguise for his own misogynistic attitudes because we all want someone who loves us and wants to protect us. But that is not what Buffy wants, what she really wants and needs is a partner who sees her as an equal and not as a damsel that needs to be protected. Riley's attitude holds Buffy back as she tries to make the relationship work and cater to Riley's male ego. I think despite how great a guy Riley is and how like-able he is, his relationship with Buffy is not good for her. I was not sad or sorry when Riley left and was a little relieved that I would not have to listen to his delicate male ego being bruised by Buffy being the Slayer anymore.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stereotyped Strong Female Characters with Moffat

images Copy Write BBC
I am a big fan of Doctor Who and Sherlock. Both of which are shows that involve Steven Moffat. I find that Moffat is talented in coming up with brilliant ideas however the execution and writing of them do not turn out as well as they could. I am in some ways a fan of him because of that brilliance, but that does not mean I don't have some big issues with some of his writing. In particular his writing of women and so called "strong female characters."

I have chosen the compare four of his most well known strong female characters: Amy Pond, River Song, Irene Adler, and Clara Oswald. Please know that while I am strongly criticizing these characters I have a very strong love for several of them. Particularly Amy Pond(read my post) and River Song. One can enjoy and like something and still be critical. 

 Let us start with the one major flaw that unites all of these women. Their characters plot lines all are dependent on male characters. Amy's story is wrapped up in the Doctor from childhood, River was basically born for the Doctor to kill him/marry him. Irene exists to challenge Sherlock Holmes and cause him problems. Irene has no backstory about who she is and where she is from she is solely there for Sherlock Holmes. Clara, oh Clara, you are as the Doctor puts is "his impossible girl" that is all that your character exists for to be impossible to the Doctor, and as Clara says was "born to save the Doctor." All of these strong female characters are not actually strong. If they were strong they would have much more independent stories/lives from the male characters. Their existence in the story would not be to aid the story of the main male character. Rather they would have their own stories and background separate from that of the male characters and their stories would exist not for the male characters but rather as a co-story with them. I think it is significant that Sherlock and the seasons 5-7 of Doctor Who do not do well on the Bechdal test. (Moffat has done much better in season 8) His so called strong Female characters would fall apart if we were to remove the male characters. 

Not only are these characters unable to stand on their own with out the male characters, they also may as well be the same character. River and Irene are both intellectual women who are shown to be able to be on the same level as the intelligent male counter part. They are both geniuses. Strong female characters do not need to be geniuses in order to be strong characters. IQ does not make a strong character. All four women can be considered to have higher than average intelligence, but most especially River and Irene. 

All four of these women are quick witted and all make quips. They all think fast on their feet. They all love the danger and thrive it. You could blend Irene and River together and have a character that would not be inconsistent in anyway. The same could be done with Amy and Clara.These traits that they all share as characters are good traits, but the fact that all of Moffat's major female characters share these traits is a little disturbing. It is like he has the same base for a female character and just adds a little something different to each but at their core they are all the same. They are not individuals.

Moffat seems to have this stereo typed strong female character in his head. His idea of a strong female character is a women who has a high IQ, can keep up with the male characters, loves danger, thinks fast, can make quips, and have witty dialogue. That is not what makes a strong female character. Strong female characters are women who are all unique have strengths and weaknesses. They have an independent story. Strong female characters are like normal women. They don't need to be larger than life(though certainly those larger than life characters are enjoyable). They don't need to stand out in a crowd. They just have to be themselves. Women are diverse in so many ways and the strong women of today are not all the same. Strong female characters in media should be just as diverse. 

Moffat does not know how to create strong female characters. He only knows how to create archetypes of characters that are based on stereotypes/what he thinks these archetypes should be. His so called strong female characters lack the verity in characteristics and basically no character independence thereby making them not true strong female characters. Strong female characters are well developed characters, unique personalities, unique characteristics, are very much like women you meet in real life, and have no story line dependence on the male characters.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Being Body Positive in a Victoria's Secret World

I am sure every girl out there struggles with their body image. I have,do, and will probably for the rest of my life. It seems to be our lot in life as a girls to constantly worry about our image, which is a product of society and culture that tells us our entire worth is derived from how hot, sexy, and sexually appealing we look. We are constantly bombarded with media and ads that tell us if we use this makeup brand, or this lotion, or this diet, or this what-ever-product we will finally achieve what society has deemed to be beautiful. This is all a lie of course because our natural bodies cannot achieve something that is a) un-achievable for most female bodies and b) completely artificial.

Copy Write of Victoria's Secret
I like to call this the "Victoria's-Secret-Beauty-Image." Why? Because it seems like all their models look perfectly like what Hollywood and the media have set up as the ideal beauty. They are thin, still have larger breasts, and most of all have the sex appeal for men. Which is mostly cause by body type, photo shop, and quite possibly unhealthy dieting.

However not only do we have companies projecting this image of what the ideal beauty is but we see it among stars. I know when I watch television or look at singers I want to see girls whose bodies look like mine however there are hardly any. This ideal image of beauty is so deeply saturated our culture that women who don't fit this mold are forced to change their bodies or are not allowed in to the industry. Why is there a lack of diversity in female body type? And when and actress is more "normal" sized she is ridiculed by the media as "fat." These messages trickle down very far and to the very young.

Photoshop is something that has become so common in changing how people look in the pictures that are used. Many people have commented on how unrealistic the changes that are make are. When a person looks nothing like their picture in a magazine there is something wrong. When we change them to look nothing like themselves we tell people that they are not beautiful the way that they are. That they are lacking and must be changed.

Me senior year of highschool and me sophomore year of college.

I was already concerned about my weight and tummy by the time I was at least 9. At the age of 12 I finally realized that the "Victoria's-Secret-Body" was quite frankly unattainable for my body. I could lose so much weight to the point of being unhealthy and still not attain it. Short of having multiple surgeries involving completely changing my bone structure and body it was completely impossible. I am just not built to look like that.

Once I had reached this conclusion I decided to just move on there was nothing I could do about. I think my personality of "just-get-over-it-and-move-on" is beneficial for me in this place. However, I could certainly have chosen to obsess about it let it press down on me. There are so many girls out there who struggle with body image who don't deal well with it. Young girls realize very early that there are expectation on their body and how they should look. I still struggle though. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wish that I could just somehow magically lose the fat in my stomach and thighs. Sometimes when I am out shopping I look at pictures and start to make a list in my head about how I don't look like them. I know when I go cloths shopping I don't like to admit that I can't wear a size small in any brand.

I can't say that there is any true solution to becoming body positive. I can give some suggestions. Make the choice to want to be body positive. Focus your good things. Document days when you are feeling beautiful to look back on and remind yourself of that feeling. Make a list of things about your body that you see as beautiful and why. Such as "I love my freckles because I think they make me look cute." Little things add up. When I have thoughts about comparing myself to others I try to remember that my body is nothing like their body and comparisons should not be made.

We need more visual images of a diversity of body types. I know there are many movements for this but we need to see so much more. You can all make s difference by supporting companies that do this. We have power as consumers to change the world. We can speak up more about wanting to see better representation and speak out against the use of Photoshop to change a persons body. We also need to be more open and honest about our own body struggles. Let's be honest being body positive in a Victoria's-Secret-World is hard and it sucks.

What are your body positive struggles? How do you combat them?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: Feminism is For Everybody

Title: Feminism is for Everybody
Author: bell hooks
Published: 2000
Rating: 4/5

This is a nice book to read if you want an broad overview of feminism in a nut shell. Which is the purpose of this book along with showing why everyone needs feminism not just women. I found it to be helpful as a book to get me into feminist literature.

Hooks also brings up in this book points about where much of feminism is lacking and needs to grow. Most importantly the need to include conversations about race and sexuality. She talks about how we need inter-sectional feminism.

I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an intro book to feminism. There is only one thing that I didn't like about this and is the reason it gets a 4/5 instead of 5/5. This book was written to be easily read by non-academic lay people. I feel that this book is still very academic in writing style. As I have not had a lot of experience reading academic writing, it was a little difficult to read at times. I think it was much harder to relate to what was written even though I agreed with a lot of what she said.

Overall this was a great book that was well written and a wonderful goal, but the execution did not quite meet what I think the author wanted it to exactly. I would highly recommend it to anyone to read.