The Longest Year of My Life

A year ago today I finally, finally, finally landed in San Diego – a moment I had equally dreamed about and dreaded. After 6 months in Malawi, an unexpected week in Uganda, and a freezing layover in DC, I was back! I was home! Or…. was I? I had no idea where “home” was any more.

I walked off the plane …and straight into a bathroom. Where I hid for about 15 minutes. I knew my parents, my friends, and my girls were all waiting for me at the exit of the terminal. And yet, there I stood, unable to pick up my overstuffed carry on bag and carry on with my life. Hugging myself, I tried to prepare for all the attention, all the hugs, and all the people I was about to encounter. Simultaneously, I was trying to avoid it. I was terrified. I stared in the mirror, wondering who the girl was looking back at me. Read More

Celebrating the Man, Forgetting His Dream

I, like many of you, enjoyed a three day weekend a few days ago. Growing up, I could care less if it was Memorial Day or a president’s birthday or those weird teacher in-service days – it just meant one less day of school. Sadly, as an adult, I find myself falling back into that mindset from time to time. But everyone’s social media accounts were on point Monday – posting pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr or sharing some of his more famous quotes. Social justice is kind of my thing, so all the various nonprofits and orgs I follow were doing their part and paying tribute to this hero. (If you claim to care about injustices in the world, and don’t partake in MLK day or Mandela day, who even are you??)

Some people celebrated the day differently – like Jada Pinkett Smith calling for a boycott of the upcoming Academy Awards. Which got me thinking, with #OscarsSoWhite this year, aren’t we a little embarrassed to be claiming to honor MLK’s legacy? Or, should we be? Have we placed the man on a pedestal, yet forgotten the actual dream that we so often reference? With the studies coming to light every day about how much more likely a minority is to be incarcerated, to be in poverty, to be killed? (Studies that have been around for years, but are finally getting a little publicity.) With the insanely low rates of minority inclusion in almost every part of American society, are we doing our part? Or are we retweeting his noteworthy sayings, thinking the fight has been fought, and moving on with our lives? Read More

Dressember 31: That’s a Wrap

For the month of December – in honor of Dressember – I’ll be blogging everyday! Thoughts on anything from fighting for justice to feminism, from dresses I’m wearing to books I’m reading, and everything in between.


Welllllllll friends, here we are. It’s the last official day of 2015, the last official day of Dressember, the last day of so much! At the beginning of the year, I decided to do one of those read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans – a seemingly never ending goal. This morning I read the last chapter of Revelations, and it feels pretty surreal. Did I really just read the whole Bible? Do I really get to wear jeans tomorrow? Did this year really just come to a close?? Read More

Dressember 30: New Year, New You

For the month of December – in honor of Dressember – I’ll be blogging everyday! Thoughts on anything from fighting for justice to feminism, from dresses I’m wearing to books I’m reading, and everything in between.


As another year comes to a close, it’s all but impossible to reflect on everything the last 365 days held and what you hope to find in the next 365. Resolutions are started, new lists are made, goals are written – everyone wants change. Everyone wants to lose 10 pounds or start eating more vegetables, they want to stop drinking so much beer or start being more grateful. Every year, it seems like the same resolutions come out simply worded in different ways. I want to look better. I want to act better. I want my life to be better. 

I saw an article the other day about what someone wants to gain in 2016 – instead of focussing on resolutions that center on what to drop in the new year, they wanted to instead look at picking up some good habits. Last year I decided on 3 things I wanted to start and stop in the new year. There’s so many different ways to start the new year afresh, so many different outlooks on how to bring about change. Read More

Dressember 9: I’m Not a Fan of “Feminism”

For the month of December – in honor of Dressember – I’ll be blogging everyday! Thoughts on anything from fighting for justice to feminism, from dresses I’m wearing to books I’m reading, and everything in between. 


Last week I wrote about feminism, about how it get’s a bad rep, but it really, truly – at its heart – is simply equality.  It was really cool seeing the feedback I got from people – who were glad to see me reclaim the word for good, excited that I was speaking out to the haters, encouraged that I see feminism as a two way street between men and women.

I admitted that there are some crazies out there (like within every belief). One bad apple spoils the bunch, right? Whenever I tell people I’m a feminist, I have to quickly explain, “but I’m not one of those, like, femi-nazis!” So I thought it might do some good to explain some “feminist” movements that I don’t support, or I believe miss the mark: Read More

Change

I recently finished reading The Poisonwood Bible, which is SO much better than I can describe. Everyone should give it a read, especially any American planning on traveling to sub-Saharan Africa. The book puts so much into perspective, gives you so much to think about, and sums up so much of what happens when two cultures, two points of view, and two ways of life clash.

Not only is the book a captivating story, but it’s full of poetically beautiful truths – like, “the power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes” and, “to live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story”. It also contains so many questions consider. What would Africa look like today if the original conquistadors simply kept sailing right on past it? Why do we, as Americans, tend to assume we know the right ways of doing things? How does one let the past go, forgive yourself, and truly move on?

Before I make this sound like even more of a book report, there was one quote that stood out to me above the rest. Probably because it’s been a theme in my life lately.
“You can’t just sashay into the jungle aiming to change it all over to the Christian style, without expecting the jungle to change you right back.”
Why do we do this? Why are we so foolish? It changes us right back.

Far too often, we come with plans and aims and hopes – we are going to build an orphanage, we are going to train teachers, we are going to feed hungry kids. All good things. But we fail to plan to be changed; we fail to be open to what we can learn.

When you come home from a short-term trip, you (typically) get asked “What did you do?” What did you accomplish? Did you succeed in your goal? How many ________ did you complete? (Which, sidenote, is so American. So achievement driven, so obsessed with results.) No one asks, “Hey, what did you find out that we do wrong? What are we not right about? What have we been missing all this time that they taught you?”

There’s a million different directions this blog post can go. I don’t want to shame Americans (or westerners or ex-pats or whatever you want to call us) for wanting to help, for wanting to go out and do good. But I want us to be weary of thinking we have all the answers. I want us to realize the Danger of a Single Story. I want us to learn that, sometimes, we hurt more than we help. Sometimes, our good intentions aren’t good enough. I want us to ask questions before we offer answers, to seek to truly understand before we dismiss it as wrong. I want us to see ourselves realistically as well as everyone around us realistically: all our good and all our bad, all our issues and all our solutions. I want a million things to change about how we approach change.

But, mainly, I just want us to realize that we can’t bring change if we aren’t ready to be changed.