eight years old – down by the river was the best place you could be

 I’ve been oddly nostalgic today.  I’m not really sure why, but it is happening so I’ve decided to go with it, see where it takes me.
Most of you know that I have an older brother.  Two and a half years my senior, my brother was always my biggest rival and confidante at the same time.  We raised all sorts of heck together as kids.  He suckered me into a lot of probably dangerous things in our childhood, things that I look back on now as some of the dumbest things I did as a child.  He got me into a lot of trouble with our parents, his motto was always, “send the cute one.”  So whenever we were up to something, he would send me in because of course, I was the baby of the family, I could do no wrong.  He always thought of me as the little princess that could melt my parents hearts with one smile.  I always thought this was absurd.  I was no princess and I was never spoiled, he made it all up in his head.  (well, probably not, he was probably right).
But growing up as the little sister to a big brother has it’s drawbacks.  Without a big sister to teach you how to be a girl you’re stuck playing in creeks with frogs, knowing how to throw the perfect spiral and knowing how to tackle someone twice your size.  You become better at Super Mario Brothers than painting your nails, better at applying eye black than eye liner and better at wearing sneakers that are too big than high heels that are too big.
Since becoming an adult I’ve retrospectively learned most of these things that I never learned as a kid.  I’ve even held onto those skills that he taught me too.  But sometimes I look at my life, the things I love to do and I can draw a line straight back to my brother (and my dad).  I look at who I am and think about how it occurred.  I still have that wild sense of adventure instilled by my older brother.  I still love sports.  I’m still oddly fascinated by frogs.  I am still the little sister to a big brother.
Even though that big brother is all grown up now with two little girls of his own.  And this little sister lives 1200 miles away from him, in a grad program neither one of us would have imagined for me.  It’s funny to think back to where we’ve come from in order to see why we’ve become who we’ve become.
The picture above, of course, shows my brother and I in matching Ghostbusters sweatshirts.  I mean, duh.

they sleep with hornets and wonder why they wake up stung

Last week my best friend sent me an e-mail with a link to a video about the kinds of messages we (corporate we – media) are sending young girls about who they are, what they should be and what they should stand for. It was actually a trailer for a longer movie and had celebrity interviews, input from developmental psychologists and clips from popular culture. In short – it was heart breaking. Seriously heart-breaking to think that there are so many voices and factors in our culture that tell girls to just stand still and look hot. (not even pretty – hot…or slutty, basically interchangeable)
There are all sort of really crappy messages out there for girls. And pop culture is full of really bad examples of what it means to be a woman and how to act in general life.
In the midst of things like the Real Housewives of…., The Bachelorette, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Charlie Sheen’s goddesses we are in more need now of positive role models for young girls. And I’m not even going to get started on the whole “child star turned crazy pop goddess on stripper poll” debacles that grace the front page of .
We need real life role models. We need women who are powerful without being mean, beautiful without showing off everything, strong without bull dozing people to get there. We need women who are positive role models and who are gonna show a more civilized way of living that reflects the way we were created to be.
We need more Mindy Kalings and Zooey Deschanels in this world. In my last blog I linked a couple of websites I’ve been enjoying lately, including Hello Giggles and Mindy Kaling’s blog. I heard an interview with the creators of Hello Giggles and how they try so hard to provide a comedy website that is positive and not trashy. They don’t allow negative comments or anything like that, and they patrol it to make sure that happens. This kind of thing brings me some sort of hope. That there are celebrities out there that are understanding the minds they are shaping by merely being famous.
And Mindy Kaling. Girl, I cannot say enough good things about this woman. She’s smart, funny, beautiful and in so many ways the kind of person I would love for my nieces and goddaughter to want to be more like. I’ve been reading and re-reading excerpts from her book that comes out next month and realizing more and more how appreciative I am that someone can comment on life and give advice that isn’t about sleeping around and showing off what ya got.
I know that I can’t fully endorse everything that women like Mindy Kaling and Zooey Deschanel stand for or say, nor should I. I mean we still need to teach our girls to be critical thinkers and to throw what they see, read and hear against what they know to be true. But for the most part, these women are paving the way for a new kind of leading lady. Not the fully incapable size 0 woman who falls apart when her outfit doesn’t look right or a boy doesn’t call, but a real woman who thinks, cares, loves and lives life to the fullest.
That’s the kind of women I want to see more of in the news and on TV. The real woman who makes me proud to be a woman too. Those are the people we need to be supporting with our money, our attitudes and our web influence.

the oaks start twisting

As always, this semester seems to be flying by. I find it hard to believe that it is already October and even as I sit here drinking my coffee infused with Pumpkin Spice (a fall standard), I can’t help but think, Fall? Really?
And yet, here we are. The leaves are changing, everyone is baking with pumpkin, girls are starting to wear uggs with skirts. Fall is here.
I, for one, love Fall. I can’t say it’s my favorite season since I’m not sure that I have a favorite. But it is definitely up there. As I walked to Starbucks this morning and then to class I was loving the cool breeze of the morning. The crisp air, the bright blue sky and the leaves crunching under my Toms. It felt like a commercial for fall. It was splendid.
Today I find myself overwhelmingly thankful for this change of season. I needed a physical change in life to reflect the change I’ve been feeling on the inside. Life has been slowly shifting for me recently and lately there have been several places in my life that have changed in major ways and sometimes when that happens, I need there to me something around me that’s different too.
Change keeps things spicy. Although it’s challenging and at times unwelcome, it helps us to see growth, to learn to be flexible and pushes us to stay in tune with God. Too often my life gets too busy and hectic that I tend to stray away from consistent times to appreciate God and commune with him. Lately I’ve been trying to turn that around and make more of an effort to really enjoy the presence of God around me in all that surrounds me.
So today I’m seeing the change around me reflecting the change happening in me. I am seeing God’s hands at work all around me as well as in me and for that I am thankful.