Sunday, February 9, 2014

butterflies in my stomach

This past December I made some pit stops mid-country while I was en route back home to Colorado.  After spending a few days in Chicago with a good friend, I took a train to Michigan to see my grandparents.  During that ride, a very attractive, very nice young man tried to talk to me.  (It's a depressing story not worth telling that exemplifies my lack of 'talking to boys' skills).  Maybe I don't have to mention this, but on that particular day I wasn't looking too hot.  My friends didn't have hot water in their apartment so my hair was noticeably unwashed.  I wore baggy clothing and am pretty sure I hadn't put on any makeup.  Nonetheless, something about me gave that young man the courage to talk to me.  Like I said, it didn't end well (we could actually just say that as promptly as he tried to start a conversation, I just as promptly ended it).  

But every so often I think about that day and get butterflies in my stomach.  I can't stop myself from smiling as I think about the fact that there was something special enough about me to encourage the train man to talk to me.  

I wish that I could feel that special when I think about God's love for me.  I know He's crazy about me (and you!), but for now, it is head knowledge and not heart knowledge.  Little experiences like that, though, remind me that I am a beautiful, interesting, different person that He has created.  Kinda cool.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Crap single white girls say:

"I'm going to travel the world!" 

If I am being completely honest with you, then I'll tell you that I think all the time about travelling the world.  When I met a man on a bus in NYC who told me how average, everyday people can get to Antarctica, I thought God was giving me a sign that my dream to set foot on every continent would come true.

It's easy to fuel a "passion for travel" or "wanderlust" with travel magazines, cozy corners in bookstores with travel books and guides, and, best of all, the lovely "Travel" category on Pinterest.  Quintessential photos of beautiful young women backpacking alone through the streets of Thailand or the Swiss Alps make you think, "That could be me!"

About two weeks ago, I saw with my own eyes one of those quintessential young women.  My family was eating some authentic American food [aka Dominoes Pizza] on a busy street here in Delhi.  This particular strip of the street is "home" to some well-known American chains, so it isn't uncommon to see other "whities" (as I fondly call my fellow race-mates) coming out of Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds.  But when a white woman in her early twenties, blonde as can be, walked in alone, lugging her backpack and a purse with her, I immediately said to my family, "Wow, look at that girl."

Wow, look at that girl.  This is a phrase, folks, that I could use in two ways when referring to a beautiful, blonde, well-dressed white girl who is backpacking by herself through India.  In America, with my naively Pinterest-shaped world-view, I might say, "Wow, look at that girl" with awe and lots of envy as she sets off with a smile on her face and big dreams to conquer the world.  But friends, while I was sitting at that table across from her in the freezing AC of a Dominoes in Delhi, India, I said, "Wow, look at that girl" with lots of hesitation and fear for her.

To clarify, I will say this: Western women (Americans, Europeans)...value the "equality" and respect that you have.  Most of the women in this world are either a) seen as sex objects b) do all the work without receiving any credit for it, and c) not seen as anything at all.  A majority of Indian women believe that it is ok for their husbands to beat them.  I have lived in an African country carried on the backs of women while the men sit around all day drinking alcohol.  And in every non-Western country I have visited, I have experienced what it is like to be seen as a beautiful white body and nothing more.  I knew as I stared at that brave young woman that she was probably realizing just as fast as I had that on the streets of Delhi you will have a lot of eyes staring at you and that the smiles of the men passing you are not "friendly" ones.

I want to pause here to say something very important, though.  I love India!  I love Gabon!  I have thoroughly enjoyed so much about the experiences I have had in these types of cultures, and I still want to visit more!  The things that I have least enjoyed, though, are how men stare at me and call out to me and whistle at me and rub up against me in crowded places.  I don't enjoy walking down the road that was the site of an international-news-making gang rape.  I wish I could tell my sister to just "go explore" this amazing city, yet I haven't told her that because I don't want to chance anything happening to her.

The point I am trying to make is that while I DO believe that people should travel more, and I believe they should travel to places like Delhi or Libreville, and I don't think that anyone should let fear keep them from experiencing other cultures, I have faced the hard realities of travel.  Sometimes you aren't welcomed.  People aren't always as nice as you expect they should be.  And truly, as a young woman, there are some situations where I could be (and have been) in more danger that I had expected.

Why am I writing this post?  I'm thinking that right now...I'm thinking about how my parents or grandparents might read it and get freaked out about me travelling alone as much as I do.  I'm thinking about women who have successfully traveled alone in all sorts of sketchy places and might say, "It worked for me, what's wrong with you?".  I'm thinking about how you might misinterpret everything I've said and think that the dangers of travel have scared me off.  I'm thinking about how bad it would be if I have instilled fear into you to travel more.

But at the same time, these are things I've been thinking about these last few weeks.  I want to share with anyone who reads this that I have discovered that the world can sometimes be a little scarier than you think.  It's awesome and beautiful and interesting and vibrant and the diversity has taught me so much about God...but it not heaven and  bad things can happen.  Dreams are great, and I say, "go for it!", but be safe at the same time.

I have found this article to be really helpful, and I agree with pretty much all of it.   It is so easy to visit cultures that are SO different from our own and almost forget that the people there are people.  When I remember that, I start to have less fear because at the core of us all is humanity.

Anyways, that's what I've been thinking about.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

a pointless post

Blogging has become really hard for me.  Writing has always been my strong point, but for some reason I get on to write a blog post and I think, "What am I doing?"  When I was in Africa it was easy to blog because I was writing stuff that people "wanted" to read.  Blogs with crafts and recipes and articles about the world etc etc are always fun to visit because you learn something from them.

I would love to write things that people can learn from.  I would really love it if the everyday stuff that I wrote was worth the time to read.  But I'm either too lazy to try to put the important things in my head "on paper" or I just have nothing important to say.  Literally, all I did today was sit on my bed and "read" a textbook about genetics, occasionally taking  a break to go watch a 45 minute episode of a crime show.  The only thing I learned from my day is that after laying around for almost twelve hours your back actually starts to hurt.  Go figure.

Monday, March 25, 2013

               Hey look!  There is a fork in the road!

“I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold       up his head has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to find out." - Annie Dillard 

                                     This week of spring break my friend from Texas
                                     let me use her car while she is at home.  A car is
                                     like a pair of wings.  I feel so free!  Driving through
                                     the little New York towns, winding among old
                                     buildings, cemeteries, and big estate homes.  I
                                     realized that I have never really needed to go explore
                                     new places since I have lived in the same city my whole
                                     life.  The only time that I truly had complete freedom to
                                     go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted was in Paris.
                                     And I did.  For 10 wonderful days I explored that city,
                                     and even still saw hardly any of it.  But it was wonderful.                                                        

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss.” - Ransom Riggs
                                                               It seems like a long time from now...two whole years!
                                                               But pretty soon I won't have to be in college any more.
                                                               And as much as I may want to fly right back to Colorado
                                                               to live in the comfort of my childhood home, I know that
                                                               I will pull up my big-girl pants and make myself do the hard
                                                               thing and find a job in a place where I may not know anyone.
                                                               And I may have a whole new place to explore as much as I want.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

This guy writes some deep stuff.

That particular post really stuck out to me.  During my time in college this idea of having "multiple personalities" based on my environment or the people I am with has been on my mind a lot.  It's no lie that the Olivia that my friends at college know is very different from the Olivia my friends in Colorado know, not to mention the Olivia that my family knows or that my churchmates (I made that word up, fyi) know.

Sometimes this can be a negative thing.  Sometimes it simply can't be helped.

But never before have I truly realized that while there is no person on earth who knows me 100% (not even myself)...God does.  Scary.  (And it is meant to be that way).  The Bible says that He loves me..all 100% of me.  That is why He is so amazing!  My parents say they love me unconditionally, but they will never have to because they will never truly know all of the nitty-gritties in my heart and mind!  If I ever get married, my husband will know me better than any person on earth, yet his knowledge of and love for me will not even compare to God's!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dark chocolate is my favorite.

Hey from New York.  I am sitting up in a loft room we have on the 4th floor of my dorm looking out over the amazing view we have of the Hudson River and brightly lit Tapanzee Bridge.  Trains chug back and forth along the riverbank, heading towards the city (or upstate).  Cars are lined up right now on the roads and bridge, everyone trying to get home after a long day of work.  "Wow," I thought to myself earlier.  "I live in New York."  Little me from Colorado Springs, Colorado, could hop on a bus anytime and be in the middle of Times Square within the hour.

This semester has literally FLOWN by.  Probably faster than any others.  If I don't have a grade-making (or breaking) test one week, then I use that week to prepare for the next week when I will have a test (or two).  It's so hard for me to live my life where each minute counts.  The five minutes it takes me to write this blog post are five minutes I could have used to memorize something like how much urinary output in a 24-hour period is normal for each age group of people form birth to death.  (Which is something I need to know for my next test).

Nursing school is hard...hard hard hard hard.  Halfway through the semester I am beginning to realize that if I want to pass nursing school it will take a miracle.  And lots and lots and lots of hard work.  Honestly, I don't think I'm that hard of a worker (despite what everyone who knows me says) so nursing school is looking really daunting right now.

But on a more hopeful note, I've had a few experiences this last week that have spurred me on to work hard (right after I finish this post).  This week a FREAKING AWESOME missionary nurse from South Africa (originally from New Jersey, though) came to tell us about her life as a nurse in Africa.  All I could think as she talked was, "I want to do that, I want to do that, I want to do that."

Maybe one day I will.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

For lent I gave up coffee.  I actually felt drawn to do so even after lent started.  It was a random moment on my way to get coffee that I decided to give up my "life blood".  And let me tell you, it has been a looong couple of weeks.  I have really struggled with this fast...many times I wondered, "How on earth is this making me closer to God??"  But it recently hit me that if I thought about God as much as I think about coffee (now), then I would be thinking about Him A LOT.  So I've challenged myself that each time I think of coffee to say a prayer or just meditate on Him!