Tag Archives: Talents

Not Just Waiting

I miss something I’ve never actually had. It’s kind of a confusing feeling, but I’m used to it by now. I attend Mass primarily with people around my grandmother’s age, and I’m one of about seven people who attend weekly Adoration. When we sing, I’m one of the only people who sings loudly, and I don’t sing nearly as loudly as I want to. At the Easter Mass, when the priest says, “He is risen,” and we’re supposed to repeat it triumphantly, he just repeats himself because no one says anything. We’re so used to the fact that Christ is risen that it sounds like old news. It’s not old news.

I miss the joy and triumph I know people once had. I think to a lot of people, church feels like an annoying obligation. If that weren’t the case, and if people really believed what we say we believe, we’d be louder, and Reading would be a much more Christian town. Yesterday I was teaching the kids about Advent. I had watched a video done by Bishop Robert Barron about the kingship of Jesus, and about how Advent should be about preparing for the King. I asked the kids how we might prepare for a king. They didn’t really have a concrete answer, and I realized, neither did I. I call Jesus my King, but I’m realizing that I might not exactly know what that means.

I’ve fairly recently started praying the Rosary daily. I learned how to do it a while ago, but I’ve only started to get serious about doing it within the past couple of weeks. That was when I learned that demons don’t like it one bit, and that it was just a very powerful prayer in general. At first, I have to admit, it did feel a bit mechanical. Now, I can do it really without even thinking so much about what I’m actually saying, and just focus on each of the mysteries. Just within the past few days, the Lord has given me some good stuff to think about. I’ve just been doing them in circular order, so last night I did the Sorrowful Mysteries. I hate it, but last night I realized that Jesus hurts with us when we hurt and I have no way of repaying him. As I write this, though, I’m realizing that maybe praying through his Passion is my way of hurting with him.

Yesterday I read a post entitled “Love Hurts.” It makes you vulnerable, and if you’re willing to be vulnerable, you have to be willing to let your heart be broken. I wrote in one of my stories that a broken heart has to be given away to be fixed. Two or three weeks ago, the Gospel reading at church was about when the king separates the “goats” from the “sheep,” in other words, the unrighteous from the righteous. He says to the righteous that they took care of him when he was alone, or sick, or lonely, or in need, and they say they have no idea what he’s talking about, and he says that if they did it for any of the “little guys,” they did it for him. Likewise, he says that if the unrighteous didn’t do these things, they didn’t do it for him. I hate this parable because there’s not a whole lot of practical stuff I can do to help the “little guys.”

I sulked for a day, thinking I was going to Hell for sure, and then I don’t remember what brought me to this conclusion, but I read something, or saw a video, or something, that basically led me to realize that Jesus expects us to give him what we can, not what we can’t. To tie all of this back to Advent, we have to understand that Christ is the risen King. That should be freaking us out because it’s kind of awesome. Advent isn’t just about his first coming. It’s about preparing for his second coming, too, and about recognizing his Kingship in our lives now. Jesus is a fair and loving King. He also happens to be the God of the Universe, who came into our world as a baby. As a man, and through his witnesses, he says to every single person, “I want you to do and/or believe ‘X,’ but I love you too much to make you.” We should be seriously freaking out about this. All I have to give him is my writing talents, my prayers, and my time.

Yesterday, on my break between my CCD classes, I went into the church and just hung out for half an hour or so. Since no one else was in there, I sang a song for Jesus, and then felt sort of awkward about it. I’m not very good at being quiet. Maybe that’s something I need to work on to prepare for the King this Advent. Maybe I need to turn some of the music and movies, and everything else I love off just a bit, so I can hear his voice a bit more clearly. Maybe all he needs is a little more room.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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The Stupid Man: A Critique Of Sexist Advertising From A Woman’s Perspective

A while ago my dad mentioned that commercials on television were often demeaning to men. At first I thought he was crazy, but then I started to pay attention, and I think he’s right. The scenario in many commercials is usually something like this: guy is trying to do something and can’t. Girl comes over and gives him X product or X advice, or even just does whatever it is herself. Some narration about the product. End of commercial. There are hundreds of variations of this, but it seems to all point to one thing: advertising has become sexist.

Something I have noticed about the generation of people approximately between the ages of 15-35 seem very interested in women’s empowerment. Obviously people have been working towards that for years, but now, along with the gay rights movement, it is more socially acceptable. What I often see as a result of this however, is a tendency to take it a bit too far. For example, it is socially acceptable to make jokes about the intelligence of men, but it is not as socially acceptable to make jokes about the intelligence of women. It does, however still seem to be socially acceptable to poke fun at the moodiness or emotional sensitivity of women, and interestingly, it is still okay to make jokes about overly sensitive men. This obviously raises the question of whether or not our society has a problem with sensitivity in general, but that’s a topic for another time.

The question in advertising, comedy or anything else is, at what point does something become sexist? Often when people observe that something is sexist, they notice that it’s sexist against women. Not many people seem to take into account, however, that things can be sexist and downright offensive towards men. I believe vehemently that women and men should be equal, and when it comes to portrayals of the sexes in advertising, they are not. We seem to be at a precarious place at this point in time. There is still plenty of inequality for women in this country and all over the world. In America, however, we are equal in terms of what we can say and do, and we must be careful that this does not lead to animosity between men and women.

Social norms are changing at an almost overwhelming rate. Groups who were oppressed throughout history, women included are gaining immense power and freedom very quickly, and we are having to learn how to use it very quickly. Sexist advertising is not empowerment. It is irresponsible, and frankly, immature. I can guarantee that if commercials were shown with men helping women with things, someone would call them out as being sexist. The main problem with this kind of advertising is that it is one sided. If half the commercials showed men helping women and half showed women helping men, there would be nothing wrong, but the constant portrayal of men being weaker and less intelligent than women is offensive and unfair.

The fact of the matter is that women are better at some things and men are better at others, and this is okay. Furthermore, every individual has different interests, skills and talents. It is okay for Sarah to be physically stronger than Tom because he happens to be a physicist and has decided that solving the mysteries of the universe is more important than working out. It’s also okay for Miles to be a body builder and Nancy to be a fashion model. I can be slaying zombies one minute and gushing over cute puppies the next, and there’s nothing weird about that.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Northbound

It’s raining. Sometimes I think rain is a sign of good luck. It always rains when I do an open mic. I usually pick a few dates per month to perform, and it invariably rains on those days. We’re leaving for a week to go camping in Maine tomorrow. Camping in the rain is awful, but the forecast looks good for tomorrow and the rest of the week. We have a few super fun plans for this trip. The first thing on my list is to go to my uncle’s house and learn to shoot a gun. It just seems like it could be fun. I would probably never own one, and I’m not exactly a fan of hunting, but just shooting at targets or something seems like it could be enjoyable. It’s just something I want to try.

My brother and cousin and I are planning to organize a Capture the Flag tournament. Whichever team wins 2 out of 3 games will win. We’ll have one game at night and one during the day and we’ll have a tiebreaker if we need to. Most of my mom’s extended family comes, so we’ll have plenty of people to play.

We also do a mile swim every year. I’ve only made it all the way a handful of times, including last year. Of course I’m going to shoot for it again this year. I’m usually the last one to finish, but I think the trick is to take it slow. It’s not really a race; we just like to see who can make it the whole way.

I’m also organizing a talent night with another cousin. We did it last year for the first time, and it actually turned out okay. It probably would have been better if the weather had been nicer. Last year was specifically a jam night; meant for musicians only, but this year we’re doing a talent night to hopefully get more people. There are plenty of odd people with odd talents at camp, so I figured we’d get everyone we could. I think our other mistake was that we were trying to get people to sign up ahead of time, but this year I think we’ll just do it free-for-all style. Last year the rangers let us use the amphitheater where they show movies on Saturdays and Thursdays. They show a lot of Disney movies, which is fun. I made my cousins watch “Chicken Run,” and I think they’re still scarred.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Make Use Of Your Magic

I’ve spent many hours over the past 2 or 3 days trying to figure out if there was some kind of volunteer work I could do from home or close by in town. I don’t drive so I didn’t want my work to end up being inconvenient to my parents or anyone else who would be willing to drive me. What made things even more complicated was that my disability makes it impossible to do many hands-on tasks that I would sincerely love to do. I still haven’t found anything that’s close enough or even doable.

In Luke 14 Jesus says to a man who invited him to a banquet that he should not invite rich neighbors or friends and family to his lavish dinner party. Instead he should invite the poor, the lame, etc. His rich friends can and probably will repay him, but the poor can’t pay him back. If he takes care of them though, it’s out of love and compassion and he will be “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

I read this the other day and it really struck me. I want to help people because I should. Something I figured out while I was searching was that if you want to volunteer you have to pick a problem and a cause and focus on those and those alone. There are a lot of things that bother me, but a few of them are related. Needless hate and violence really bothers me. Apathy is likewise a big problem that is often overlooked. I remember hearing a story about a man who decided to commit suicide. He lived in a large city and his note said, “I’m going to the bridge. If one person smiles at me or even acknowledges me, I won’t jump.” The story did not have a happy ending.

I remember when we went down to Georgia for my graduation/18th birthday trip. We were spending a night in Charleston, South Carolina and we were wandering around trying to find a place to eat– obvious tourists. A young man noticed us and asked us if we needed any help in a very friendly voice. I don’t remember if we said yes or no, but I do remember that we were slightly in shock. We weren’t used to complete strangers being that nice to us.

Ironically, people often seem to care more about people oversees than own next door neighbors. There is poverty, hunger and homelessness right here in the U.S. I’m not saying our problems are more important than anyone else’s. However, I do think that solutions could start at home. I love the idea of paying it forward. If everyone made an individual effort to make one other person’s life better, that person might do the same for someone else. In a literal sense, I think we can spread love; if we try hard enough, we can spread it all over the globe.

Love and compassion can save lives. It trumps greed and selfishness and it brings people together instead of pushing them farther apart. I think the best thing is to do what you can.  If you can write, then write and inundate the internet with the shared message of love. If you can travel to foreign countries and build houses for people, do that because that seriously needs to be done. If you can sing, then belt it and make sure people hear that love will win.

I think sometimes people are guilted into inaction. If you’re not out on the front lines of a particular organization’s effort than you’re a terrible person. I definitely think that this kind of mentality is harmful. Every person has a different situation and a different skill set that can be useful for making this world a better place. The trick is to figure out how to put those skills to use. It’s an opportunity to be creative and challenge yourself while doing something wonderful.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!