How Am I Too Much and Not Enough at the Same Time? – Erin Lammott

Hi. Just a reminder about the disclaimer I put in my first blog: I believe in transparency and honesty so I’m going to try not to filter myself much in these blog posts. With that said, I would like to ask three requests of you, the reader. One – please know that I acknowledge that I am still learning. My blog posts are going to largely be me describing the world as I see them. It will always be colored by the life I have lived so far. I think I have some pretty cool ideas sometimes and I also know that there may be some which I later look back on and think differently about after some time has passed. Some of these ideas will be half baked. Just a little secret – we’re all on a blog schedule that has already been set through next July so sometimes I might be putting hands to keyboard before I feel like the concept is solid in my mind. (If you know me, you know this is good, or else I would never post anything #PerfectionistLyfe).Things & perspectives change and that’s cool. Two – Please receive my words with grace. I ask that you try to give me the benefit of the doubt. Try on my thoughts, try to stand in my shoes when you read it, then form an opinion if you want. You don’t have to agree with my thoughts and feelings, but please try to lend some grace. Three – If I rub you wrong (or right really) in any kind of way and you want to chat about it, please find me on social media and let’s chat about it! Okay, now on to the real meat of the post. J

The following blog is rated RL – Real Life  – for hard language and sexual content. Some material may not be suitable for children.

How am I too much and not enough at the same time? <– An actual question I asked myself despairingly in my journal. My mind is in a pretty pro-women place right now. I’m feeling pretty short-tempered no-nonsense having with men at the moment. I know this is an emotional reaction and I can’t really blame myself. In the past couple weeks I’ve had:

  • A man jerk off while talking to me face-to-face while he leaned on my car and I froze trying to think how to get out of this parking lot. Biting his lip and all…
  • My last few runs down by the river have been interrupted by whistles or shouts at me
  • A man next to me on the bus stares hungrily at the girl’s legs in her skirt. Says to another man “I know you’re old man, but you gotta tell me you see that. Mmm.” The decent man says “I don’t objectify women like that” and stares him down. Nasty man goes on to say “Ah man, they make Viagra, you should try it. Dammmn” as he peers back at her and then follows her off the bus. Decent guy watches him and follows too.
  • A girl yells for help outside of my house. I look out the window and a man is pulling her hair and man-handling her. We go outside and offer her to come inside our house while she waits for her Uber. She says no, she’s okay. The man runs away. She follows him. We don’t know what else to do.
  • A man at the bar asked me what I do. I told him proudly that I graduated from college a couple years ago and have been working in HR and non-profit sector. His response to that was “Oh, do you have any desires that you didn’t satisfy while you were in college?” [He raises his eyebrows suggestively]

After that last instance, the one at the bar, I left the bar with a group of my female friends. Upon exiting I yelled “Ughhhh I fucking hate men!” My girl friends told me “Shhh!” On top of all of this, it’s my one year anniversary with the time I was trapped at a coffee shop with a man’s hand on my leg and I didn’t know how to make him go away.

Following these interactions that directly involve me and a man, I have been talking with various friends and family about them. People close to me are always stunned. Why didn’t you say no? Why didn’t you physically remove his hands from your body? Why didn’t you make a scene? Well, so many reasons. Partially because of my flight, fight, or freeze reaction. Partially because I’m stunned. Partially because I’m a relatively quiet person and making a scene isn’t something I’ve practiced. Partially because I’m trying not to make the man feel rejected because A) I feel bad and B) I know that when men feel rejected they often resort to anger and violence and I fear their response and my inability to physically protect myself. Partially because I fear being called a radical, or a crazy feminist, or a girl looking for attention. Partially because, historically, when I do get angry I’m told to Shh!

Why can I not be angry and upset?? I’m too angry, they say. Too divisive. Too extreme. Not positive enough- look at the silver lining- don’t cuss. At the same time, a close friend has recently suggested that maybe I look too nice and sweet. She may be right. I’m thinking I need to look more mean and rough to dissuade people from approaching me for these things. I’m just really confused. People tell me to get it together when I’m angry and ready to yell. When I’m nice, docile, and polite then I “bring it on myself.” I’m too much when I want to bring attention to this disgusting and disrespectful conduct. I’m not enough when I try to handle it politely. I love to smile when I feel it. It keeps my happiness alive and feels brighter, but if I do then I make myself a target. I’m learning that there are places where I can smile, where I should smile even. And there are places when I’m better off to be tight lipped and straight faced. Get those confused though, and you might be either a radical or a girl who asks for that shitty kind of attention. The kind of shitty attention that takes you away from the interesting book you’re reading, the gratitude you’re feeling, the intriguing business idea you’re mentally working, the meditative run you’re enjoying, the fun reunion with your friends. Sure, you nasty f***ing men. Take me away from all of that. It wasn’t important anyway. Your pursuit of sexual satisfaction and you’re rights are more important than my freedom and becoming the person I was meant to be. Why would I get angry? Silly girl. Reactive feminist. (Re-read that paragraph in sarcastic tone if you didn’t already).

I guess I’m going to commit to a side here. If being angry at these approaches makes me a radical liberal or radical feminist or an extremist, then cool. Label me. I don’t love labels, but more so I hate that fear of misconduct or being rude has repeatedly made me freeze in potentially dangerous situations. This weekend, our ESC crew had shared formation with the Catholic and Lutheran service corps. We studied Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr which he wrote in 1963 in regards to Civil Rights. MLK Jr. put a couple similar sentiments more eloquently “But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love?:…… Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

“…but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.”

“Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

I want to wrap this up with a conclusion, but honestly I’m not sure what it should be. I would like to end this by sounding resolved with a plan of action, but to be honest this won’t be ending any time soon. I’ll be continuing to try to maneuver and navigate this world that is my reality. So I guess I will end with some thanks, some hopes, and some quotes.

  • “In this wasteland where I’m living, there’s a crack in the door filled with light” – Needtobreathe
    • Thanks to you bystanders and co-commiserators who have intervened and helped me and many other women stay safe. Many of you have been men and I am so grateful. Keep it up. Thanks to those of you who reinforce the beliefs that I don’t have to endure sexual harassment and assault. Thanks to those of you who believe me when I tell you about my experiences. And thanks to those of you who will help me tell these nasties to f*** off when they pursue me. You can count on me for the reverse.
  • “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”- Marie Sheer, 1986
  • “There will just be reputation.” – Taylor Swift
  • “Liberation is a contagious project.” – Rebecca Solnit
    • In a convoluted way, I am thankful for these interactions and the emotions it has stirred because it has help me become more convicted my pursuit of social justice and freedom. I don’t want to be oppressed. And I don’t want you to be either.
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The Virtue of Asking for Help – Anthony Suggs

“There once was a man who believed God would save him from any situation as long as he prayed hard enough. Sure enough, one day, a terrible storm came and began to flood the man’s house. As the storm was rolling in, emergency services came to the man’s house and warned him that he should evacuate. The man said, “no thanks! God will save me.” As his house began to flood, he climbed to the roof and began praying. As the waters rose, a man in a boat came by and offered to save the man in his boat. The man sad, “no thanks! God will save me.” As the waters rose even higher and covered the house, the man began swimming and praying. After a while, a helicopter came and lowered a rope to the man to save him. He said, “no thanks! God will save me.” Not long after, the man drowned and went to heaven. Upon seeing God face to face the man exclaimed, “God! Why didn’t you save me?” God paused, looking confused, and said, “I tried! I sent you an evacuation crew, a boat rescuer, and a helicopter!”

A few weeks ago I had strep throat. This was my third ever experience with strep and it was, by far, the most mild. The first was when I was in fifth grade and I distinctly remember it being the worst time I’d ever been sick (until I got appendicitis later that year). The second was a year and a half ago when, in the span of 48 hours, it reduced me from a functioning adult into a vegetable who spent his time in bed watching entire seasons of the Great British Baking Show trying to eat with his eyes because even soup was painful.

This time was different; this time it was just a slightly-worse-than-usual sore throat mixed with congestion. At worst, I would’ve described it as a bad cold. But it stuck around and wasn’t getting better. Of course, it came at the week when I had scheduled meetings almost every day that would’ve taken weeks to reschedule. So, as I normally do, I sucked it up and went to the meetings. In the meetings I would use all my energy to seem normal and alert and then immediately after I would try, unsuccessfully, to synthesize what we talked about. The best I could do was keep detailed notes and save the synthesizing for later.

Finally, on the fourth day of not feeling like I was dying but feeling worse enough to be kind of a zombie, I decided that enough was enough and that I’d take a trip to the urgent care. If you’ve had strep recently, you’ll know that the test to diagnose it takes a grand total of 6 minutes. Just like that, with a simple test, I knew what was wrong and had the antibiotics I needed to fix it.

I knew that I was sick a whole 4 days before this but decided to hold off on seeking out help because it wasn’t that bad. Why is it that we wait until “not that bad” doesn’t get better to ask for help? If I had just asked for help right when I knew something was wrong, I might have been more alert, comfortable, and happy the 4 days I was dealing with strep and didn’t know it. Not everything can be identified and fixed as easily as strep throat; in fact, most things can’t. However, addressing the problem always starts the same way: seeking out help.

Thoughts from Last Night/ This Morning

Thoughts from Last Night/This Morning

Excuse The Length

SriKrisna


I went to a Hare Krishna Temple last night for the first time in over a year. Back home i was introduced to the Hare Krishna faith through a friends boy friend who had spent some time with them. When I went back in Philly I felt a great amount of welcome, i felt warm…comfortable, and confused. I had never been to a Temple, been around so many Indian people, or heard of the Bhagavad Gita. Throw in a language barrier and you’ve got yourself a hearty confusion stew! Last night was a different experience. Now having some time between to familiarize myself with the Hare Krishna faith and learn more about their books and customs. As I walked into the Temple, I felt comfort and discomfort. I felt like I knew what was up to a point. I walked into a class on the Bhagavad Gita. there were 4 or 5 people in the room, a couple were Devotees, one was the priestly guy who was teaching, there was a kid stringing up roses on the floor to offer to God and then a man who had just came out of the blue, like me. Afterwards I hung around and just checked out the temple, when I was greeted warmly by  young guy who called himself PK, short for Pranata Karuna Das, i’m not sure what that means but that is his name. One of the first questions he asked me was, “do you skate?”, and if anyone knows me at all…they know I skate.

After some conversing in the temple about, his life and my life (he has lived in the temple for almost 5 years now) and things the temple offers, he offered for me to come back to the Ashram, where he and other devotees and shaktas live so he could write his email down for me. That led to more conversation about his story and why he chose Hare Krishna and all this great talk about love and and self realization, another kid named Austin who was living there came and joined and just added more wonderful words to our conversation. The love I experienced yesterday night was surely God, as we talked and talked and talked I felt like many of my prayers had been answered and that there might be a place for me in the Hare Krishna Community.

The openness, the honesty, the devotion, the warmth and the willingness to help others come to God was so familiar, yet touched something in me that I have not felt in a while, if I have felt it at all…it hit THAT place in me and gave me THAT feeling. As I was walking to work today I was so excited that I kicked a rock and almost yelled out “Hare Krishna!” since it was so early I refrained, but instead I laughed to myself and just smiled as I walked. I have a hunch by now whoever is reading this might be thinking something along the lines of, “Wait you’re an Episcopalian aren’t you? Why are you going to Hindu stuff?” I respond with a very popular saying, from one of my favorite songs by Gang Starr, “And like they say, God works in mysterious ways”…and if that isn’t enough I invite you to look past your idea of a God contained in the confines of a single religion and ask you to ask yourself if you could stand the idea that you and a Hare Krishna practitioner might be praying to the same God.

Any who…as I was getting ready to leave the ashram, a copy of the Gita in hand, I realized I had much to think about, but I knew two things were for certain…i’d be returning, and I just wanted to keep learning.

God Moments – Kirsten Kettler

I took TWO pictures today!!

Let me explain my excitement.

During our Colorado ESC retreat in the beginning of the year, we were given disposable cameras. These cameras were given to us in order to capture God moments. These moments, for me, are moments of beauty. Moments where I can capture where I felt God’s love through nature or people.

So like I said, TWO PICTURES TODAY!

I haven’t been taking a ton of pictures. I think I only had about 3 on my camera from the past couple of months, so taking two in one day is a a big deal for me.

My first one was taken while the Steamboat ESC cohort was decorating a Christmas tree at the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
It struck me how beautiful it was that we had known each other for such a short period of time, but here we all were, taking time out of our busy days to decorate a tree together (a tradition that I’ve only done with my immediate family). There was teamwork, laughter, and Christmas music.

My second picture was taken on the bus ride home with Emily, after we had some dinner with small group friends.
The picture itself is nothing special, maybe even a bit eerie. We got on the bus close to 10pm and there was no one else on it, so I decided to take a picture of the back of the bus with the blue lights glowing.
Like I said, the image itself wasn’t unique in any way, but I wanted to remember the moment that Emily and I had just shared. While we were waiting for the bus, we discussed/vented/word vomited some things that we just flat out disagreed with that some of the people were talking about at the dinner table. I felt grateful in that moment because I realized that my dear housemate is someone that I trust and can talk to without worrying about judgement.

My hope is that I continue to find the God moments in the everyday hustle and bustle of life so I can fill my camera with odds and ends that represent the blessings in my life.

Sweet Home Alabama? – Olivia Collette

As many of you know, I grew up in Alabama. I lived there my whole life; I grew up in Huntsville, and then moved about an hour and a half south to Birmingham for school. I love my home and my family and friends, but there are so many things I absolutely HATE about the South, and Alabama in particular (lookin’ at you, systemic racism). When I decided to move to Denver, I couldn’t wait to get out of the South. My thought as I drove away from Alabama was something along the lines of “see ya never Alabama.” I genuinely thought I would only return home for quick visits with my family, and big life events for my friends.

And then I got to Denver and a crazy thing happened. I realized missed Alabama. I bet you’re thinking the same thing I thought when I came to this realization: why?? I think it just boils down to the fact that’s where my friends and family are. I lived my entire life there, and as an adult I made a home and a life for myself there. I guess basically, my roots are there. And I’m learning that roots run so much deeper than I previously thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Denver. There’s no humidity, and it snows in OCTOBER (what?!), and everyone is active and healthy, and people actually recycle and compost and care about the environment, and in general my ideas and beliefs align so much better with other people’s ideas and beliefs here. I don’t feel like I made some huge mistake by coming here or anything like that. And I’m not planning on leaving as soon as the year is over and going straight back to Alabama.  On the contrary, I think leaving home was a very necessary thing for me to do, and I think I’d actually like to stay here for a little while after the year is over. Maybe even forever? The point is, I thought I knew what I wanted, and as it turns out, I don’t.

A big part of this year, at least in my mind, is figuring out some things about myself and my life. I feel like this particular realization is rocking my world, because it’s so unexpected. This is a part of myself that I thought I’d already figured out. How unsettling to realize this thing I’ve thought I knew about myself for pretty much my entire life isn’t even true. But in a way, it’s also really exciting. I think I’ve always thought that simply by being me, I knew myself. But I’m learning that I actually have a lot to learn about myself and what I want for my life.

This year keeps presenting lots of surprises for me, and it’s honestly often really overwhelming and kind of frustrating, but one word has been running through my mind lately: intentionality. It’s actually a word I used to convince myself to come here and make this pretty large life change. I wanted and needed more intentionality in my life, so I came here and made a commitment live my life more intentionally. So if I’m going to do this intentionality thing right, even though it’s scary and overwhelming and frustrating, I’m going to deliberately carve out the space in my life to at least begin to get to know myself better. I’m not sure exactly what this getting to know myself process is going to look like yet, and I have no idea what kinds of things I’ll learn about myself, but I can’t wait to find out!

My family!
Huntsville friends – most of us have been friends since middle school!
Birmingham friends!
My old roommates in Birmingham!

The Difficulties of Making Friends – Emily Eldridge

Making friends is hard. I’ve always struggled with it. Call it shyness or anxiety, I clam up around new people. I feel like I never know what to say. Sometimes I have trouble talking to people I’ve known my whole life! Small talk? It’s the worst. Meeting new people often feels exhausting. And developing a friendship is basically meeting and talking to a stranger over and over until you stop being strangers. For the most part, the lasting friendships I have are thanks to people not giving up on making friends with me. I joke that my best friend from college followed me around offering me food until I started talking to him, and it’s not really that much of an exaggeration! Even when I genuinely want to get to know new people, I find it really difficult. Where do I find people? How do I start a conversation with them?

My roommate and I are both pretty quiet, there are only the two of us, and we live in a pretty small town. Making new friends outside the program has been challenging for us both. I was jealous when I read about Erin and Olivia’s adventure in Denver this past week – just stumbling onto a group of new people, joining in and having fun with them? How does that happen?? But actually, something similar happened to my roommate a few weeks ago. She did the hard part, striking up a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop, and I wound up tagging along and meeting a whole group of friendly, welcoming people. They have dinner and fellowship together once a week, and didn’t hesitate to invite Kirsten and me to join them. I look forward to getting to know them better.
I hoped this year would lead to new friendships, but I think I was hoping for the program to do most of the work by forcing me together with roommates. That didn’t quite work out as the Steamboat Springs house ended up so small this year. However, I have certainly noticed themes of openness and vulnerability since I arrived. From the very first day of our first retreat at Cathedral Ridge to the struggles of figuring out a weekly community night, the importance of being willing to reach out and start a conversation keeps showing up. It’s not going to be easy, but I am reassured that the opportunities I hoped for will be there. 22780322_1870834249597881_7085680670625058398_n

Letting Go – Erin Lammott

The other night I wanted to play soccer. I haven’t found a team yet, but wanted to kick around so my roommate said she would go to the park with me. We ended up being there until dark; we sat in the park and discussed our next move for the {Friday} evening – which we decided was going home to make a pizza and chill. Our conversation turned to talking about how we didn’t have plans for the weekend and felt bummed that we didn’t have plans or friends with who we could even make plans. As we were pulling out of the park, we saw a bunch of glow sticks. Curious about them, we convinced ourselves to turn the car around and go investigate. We yelled out of my car to two people to ask what they were doing. It was Queer Glow-in-the-dark Kickball. They invited us to join, we debated, and then suited up in glowsticks to play kickball with the strangers. The group was so fun- inclusive of us, super supportive during the game, shared their beer with us, and able to laugh at themselves at the bad loss. Then they invited us out to a local gay bar where there would be post-game flip-cup. After noting how {bad} we looked – hair in pony tails, tennis shoes, chacos, sweat from the soccer, little to zero make-up, exercise clothes – we agreed to go to the bar with them. We had so much fun getting to know our new friends, playing games, dancing, and of course – eating the obligatory post-beer pizza. It felt like such a free and laughable night. It dawned on us- that series of events wouldn’t have happened if we would have had plans. For me, this was a beautiful night because, yes it was fun. More so though, because of the community that was found and how I felt connected to and supported by other humans. Who knows, I might never see those people again. For a night though, we had friends. This group was actually mostly new friends to each other too. They hadn’t known each other for long. For a night though, these seven different people, with seven different stories, and probably many different desires, got to be themselves with other people. Kissing who they want to kiss (with permission), dancing how they want to dance, laughing when they want to laugh, wearing what they want, showing up how they are.

I think part of why I loved this night is because it was Beyond Imagination. When I picture the plan I had for my life, this wasn’t a part of it. I was supposed to be married by 26; I’m 25 so that means I should be well on my way to settled down. Not doing these kind of things. There is a lot of uncertainty right now. There’s a lot of unknown space. A lot of discomfort in the unknown and a lot of uncomfortable scenes in this singular life. How crazy cool is this though? I couldn’t have planned it. So here’s to letting go. Letting go of my plans- from the design for my life down to the design for this Friday night. Letting go of the expectations of what relationship is. Maybe it’s not married for me, maybe its roommates who play in the park and strangers who invite you to join. Letting go of judgement – of people who have likely experienced exclusion in this world and who were so inclusive of us. Letting go of judgement – of these two straight girls who look a mess and look to strangers for friendship. Letting go of judgement of myself – of how many friends I should have, or how I should have had the foresight to make plans for the evening, or of how I should look when I go out to bar.

I’ve been thinking that a lot of pain in the world seems to come from defensiveness and clinging to ideas (to protect perceived safety & security). I just wonder if this is what happens when we’re more open and open to not having it all right? Freeeeeedddommmm. Now that’s something worth glowing about.

Glow - Erin Olivia- Oct 17