Dear Ride Operator at Six Flags

To the ride operator at Six Flags,

I’m sure you were just doing your job, so maybe this letter shouldn’t even be for you.  I came into Six Flags today, full of joy and expectation.  I waited in line patiently like everyone else for my turn to ride the rollercoaster.  But when I arrived at the entrance you asked me about what I was wearing, and nearly didn’t let me on the ride.

Let me explain, I was wear a one piece bathing suit, that looked like a flower print tank on top with a black skirt on the bottom.  I pulled on a pair of jean shorts over top of it, so I looked like many of the other girls that were in the park, only more covered than many of the other girls in the park.  And when I went to board the ride, you asked if I was wearing a swimsuit.  I gave you a funny look, and you told me I had to put a shirt on over top of it because swimsuit aren’t allowed in the park.  Two cars in front of me, a woman in only a green colored bra and shorts had already boarded, yet you had said nothing to her.

So here is what I’m wondering, why?  Why me and not her?  I traveled around the park for the rest of the day ready with a plethora of arguments to take on anyone who dared speak to me about my dress.  If swimsuits aren’t allowed in the park, were you planning on making all the men in their swim trunks change?  And all the girls in tankinis in line, whose tops hang loose and look like regular tanks, would they have to change?  Or is the purpose behind the message that you don’t want women dressed up in bikinis or men without shirts running around?  And if that is the case, why don’t you put up a sign that says that instead of “no swimsuits” that only has a picture of a shirt and a bikini?  And why would you say anything to me, who was completely decent and covered?  But I never got to use them, because no one else said a word to me.

It left a bad taste in my mouth, and I chalk it up to the beginning of the day, or you were new, or were just “following the rules.”  But it makes me wonder, why?  Because she was more well-endowed then me, more beautiful than me, scarier than me?  Or is it really just, “no swimsuits allowed.”  Either way, I would kindly request consistency.  Either it is no swimsuits (because you have something against all swimsuits apparently) and make everyone follow that rule or be decent (and cover up yourself!) and make everyone follow that rule.  And then, make sure all the staff know the boundary line; because you obviously saw it one way while others saw it differently.

But again, maybe this letter shouldn’t be to you ride operator.  You made sure I was safe on the roller coaster and I appreciate the work you do for little pay in the hot sun.  Maybe this is for the writer and enforcer of the rules…don’t make a rule that you don’t intend to follow through.

Sincerely,

A Clothed Customer

Take Him on a Date

If you know me at all, then you know that my brother and I grew up completely inseparable.  We were practically conjoined at the hip.  So when I grew up, and began to explore the world of dating; it was weird for him to have this other man take so much of my time and attention.  When I got engaged things began to get worse.  So by the time I called off the engagement; my brother wasn’t there for me.  I had distanced myself in my pursuit of another relationship, and he had begun to move on.  And then it felt as though he replaced me when he got engaged himself.  What happened?  Was it my fault that our tight bond seemed to have been broken?

And that’s when I realized; it was time to take him on a date.

Reason 1: Sharing

Sometimes you just need to reconnect.  As you grow up, you start missing out on pieces of each other’s lives.  It can be as simple as listening to how their week is going, to finding out the details of their wedding planning.  It also gives you a chance to share your own stories, struggles and where life is taking you.  Having a close brother means you always have someone to tell your secrets to or the things you can’t tell mom and dad.  So do that again!  Share with each other!

Reason 2: Listening

The most important piece of this is an opportunity to truly hear about what is going in their life.  Like dating, you are listening to what the other person has to say.  If you listen then you get to know them again.  You can find out how you can support and love them in the best way possible.  Don’t dominate the conversation about everything that is going on with you.  Self-centeredness may be what drove you apart.  So make sure you purposefully listen.

Reason 3: Fun

With the stresses of life you forget what it is like to be a kid again.  Sometimes each of you just need to get away from the reality of life and play and have some fun.  I just took him out to a theme park where we were able to talk and just be brother and sister again.  It was just the two of us, like we had been together for years and years before either of us became “adults.”

So, the next time you get a chance; take him on a date.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  It can be just grabbing a cup of coffee and dedicating time to catching up on all the excitement that has been happening.  That way you can get reconnected, and experience life together again.

Dear Keys on My Front Seat

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To my dearest keys,

I don’t think I’ve told you enough how important you have been to me on this particular vacation adventure. You have helped me open packages, lock my doors and turn on my car. You have given me the ability to listen to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack on repeat throughout this three day drive. You conveniently clip to my hip so that we are never parted. Until this day…

We made it to our destination in Minnesota with no problem. We drove deep into the night, stopping only at around 4am because exhaustion finally consumed us. We arrived to the church in one piece! And then, I abandoned you. I had gotten out of TAZ (my car) to go into the church when I realized that TAZ would heat up from the afternoon sun. So I climbed back inside and put up my heat shield visor. I carefully avoided knocking over the dinosaurs on my dash, and then got out of the car. I shut the door and realized that you were missing from my belt loop. I glanced in the window and saw you on my front seat. How could I be so reckless in my actions?! So I pulled on the handle. Nothing happened. I pulled again. And then I proceeded to try to pull every handle on every door.  Nothing. I had made it this far, only to lock my keys in the car.

So, I called AAA and sheepishly admitted to locking my precious keys in the front seat of the car. Within the hour, assistance arrived. He pried the door open just enough to put in a piece of wire to try to unlock the doors. But the sun was glaring in the window and the locking mechanisms weren’t cooperating. So he decided to go fishing for you, my keys, laying so innocently on my seat. He hooked you and brought you up to the tiny opening in the door. But the carabiner was too thick to get through! So, he got a smaller piece of wire, like a coat hanger with a tiny  hook on the end. And carefully he was able to free the car key enough so that I could unlock my doors.

Being reunited with you was such an amazing feeling. I promised you I would never let you leave my side again. Because, I never want again to have to write a letter to the keys on my front seat again.

Sincerely,

An Apologetic Traveler

Dear Dinos on my Dash

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Dear dinos on my dash,

Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for reminding me of my friends. Thank you for keeping watch over my car when I’m not there. Thank you for introducing me to new people. Like that one time on the drive from Boston to Virginia…

I had pulled over at a rest area, hungry for some munchies and desperately needing to charge my phone in a real outlet. My car charger was fried and instead of using a map and listening to a CD, I had been running GPS and Pandora and was quickly sucking the life out of my little phone. I believe by this point, I had only made it to about New Jersey. It was going to be a long ride. On my way into the rest area, I had a guy tell me there was a major accident on the road ahead and I should take my time at the rest stop. I looked at the road and saw cars flying by, so I ignored his advice.

I found an outlet, in a window, and awkwardly sat there watching people as my phone trickle-charged. Every once in a while I would pretend to check my email or Facebook, just to look a little more normal. Eventually I was satisfied that I had enough power to make it to the next rest stop down the road. I bought a sandwich and headed back to my car.

Now there you were, my dearest dinos, watching me wolf down a roast beef sandwich when a strange man walked past our windshield. He motioned and waved and mouthed, “I love your dinosaurs.” This, of course, was a typical reaction. You and I were used to that. I smiled and waved, and he walked by. But then he came back and walked up to my passenger window, indicating that I should roll it down. I cracked it just enough so that I could hear what he was trying to say.

“Would you like to make some money?” he asked. Now I know what you’re thinking, I should’ve turned on my car and driven off as quick as I could. But if I had done so then, that would mean that now my story would be over. He continued, “I’d like to take a nap in my car, and I would feel better if I knew someone was keeping an eye on my car while I was sleeping. The traffic is terrible, and it’s not like you’re going to get anywhere right now. It’ll only be for like 45 minutes or so. You never have to get out of your car. I’ll pay you $300.” I looked at the traffic, which was now completely stopped. The man had a point. I really wasn’t going anywhere. I looked at you, my dashboard friends, and thought, “It couldn’t hurt.”

So I backed up my car into the space next to his, keeping my doors locked and windows only cracked. I started texting my mom with the little battery power I had, just in case something were to happen to me. I also made each of you, dashboard dinos, promise to grow full size the moment things started to look like things were going downhill. This man was no match for our little dino army. He got into his car, put up some towels over his windows and I waited. The time went by so quickly and less than 30 minutes later he came out and handed me $300. He thanked me for taking the time out of my travels to help him feel safe. It turns out he was an engineer and of course, my physics side immediately started geeking out and we had a wonderful conversation. He gave me his card, told me to call if I wanted to bring him in to do a special presentation to my class and we parted ways.

So my dearest dinos, what did I learn from this encounter you ask? The world isn’t completely full of people with bad intentions. Sometimes someone else just needs you to look out for them too. Be safe, make wise choices, and you never know who you’ll meet when you keep dinos on your dashboard.

 

The Bible Women’s Project

What a blessing it is to be part of a revolutionary piece that has the opportunity to redefine how we connect with one another. Don’t let the name stop you from reading; please just give me a chance to explain, or at least take a few minutes to watch the video. This piece so delicately weaves the stories of women from the Bible with the stories of women in our current day and age. There is no agenda here. No one is going to beat you over the head with a Bible and demand that you convert to Christianity. That isn’t even what I believe the love of Christ is about. Instead, there is a recognition that there are so many people out there; people who need to be loved and simply to be heard. This beautiful piece gives voice to those who are forgotten, feel alone, and confused. It strives to be a safe place where taboo subjects like suicide, incest and homosexuality are discussed in a manner that shows the true love of Christ. Sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes there are simply many stories.

I began this journey in October 2014, meeting with other women to discuss the stories of women in the Bible. We recognized many of the women in the Bible in the stories from our own lives. We became a family, listening to stories that were finally being spoken out-loud only because of the community we created. There was no judgement; only love and recognition that all of us were broken people struggling together as Christian women. We became a support system for one another; praying for each other, encouraging each other, and never letting any of us fall by the wayside. Never did I imagine – nearly two years later – what God would do with our stories. Now, after a weekend of encore performances, a revival this past fall, and our most recent performance in a local church, we are headed to the New York Fringe Festival in August, where we will be able to share our stories beyond the city of Boston.

But we can’t do it alone. The most important thing I’ve learned through this process is that community is essential. So I invite you to be a part of ours. Do you want to be part of this extraordinary once in a lifetime opportunity? Do you want to touch the lives of countless individuals? Our stories need to be heard. Their stories need to be heard. Maybe your story is here; it needs to be heard. Donate now to help us raise enough money to take this beyond the walls of the church and into the hearts and the homes of those who need to be a part of The Bible Women’s Project.

As A Chapter Closes

Another one begins. I have this love-hate relationship with change. I always love the new and exciting, which I guess is part of the reason that I love to travel so much. Change brings with it a plethora of different and unique experiences. But with change comes this feeling of leaving something behind – like a part of you is being left wherever you were. And then the question is; does that part of you get forgotten? Do you remember that place, have those personal connections, but everyone else moves on? Ever since I was a little girl this has always troubled me: Do we actually leave a part of ourselves behind? Are we less of a person because our whole selves do not come with us?  And then what happens?

I remember feeling this way when I moved between 6th and 7th grade. I said goodbye to everything around me, and promised myself and my friends that I would be back. But when I returned four years later, everything was different. I found myself in the places I had grown up, yet, it was almost like I was never there. The buildings were there, my memories were there; I could point out to you where my heart was broken, my favorite tree, where I had been dropped on my face, the acorn war zone, the playground that was my spaceship to the moon, but the people had come and gone. It was like looking into a snow globe of the past. I was there, but I wasn’t. I have pictures, notes, and objects that remind me of my childhood. I have countless stories to tell. But I feel like there is a piece of me still back there. But she doesn’t have any of her friends who have long since abandoned her. In a sense, she’s just a ghost. As I am ending the chapter of another year of teaching, it comes with many of these same bittersweet emotions. And I am left wondering, who am I leaving behind? What will I find if I ever return?

I believe that a huge part of teaching is developing a relationship with students. I love my students, as much as if they were my own children. For nine months we have worked and grown together; saying goodbye to them has been challenging. I always tell them, “Once you’re my student, you’re my student for life.” And what is left of these nine months? Well, if you look above the cabinets in the prep room there are a few pieces of student work. These are just mementos of ideas for a future teacher to do, but really, that is all that is physically left of my time there. Most likely these things may not even last through the summer before a new teacher or janitor comes in to clean it out.  I even took my name plate with me, so there is nothing that marks that door as once being mine. As I pack up the things in my class and return it to the plain, empty walls where it all started, I wonder about who will inhabit the room next: What activities will they do? Will they care about their students? How will they decorate the walls? Will I just be another teacher that came and went?  In reality, did I leave anything behind?  Am I pondering all these questions for nothing?

But I can’t help feel like something isn’t quite right. I can’t help but feel like there is a piece of me in all of these different places I have lived and worked. So, I suppose that no matter what the circumstances, when things change a piece of us is left behind. I definitely feel like I am not walking away from this classroom with a whole heart. But this is what I have come to realize; the pieces that I am leaving behind aren’t necessarily physical. It’s not about the buildings or the school projects or the name plates. I’m not really leaving a ghost of girl long forgotten. Rather, I am leaving behind memories: of assignments that didn’t always go as planned, of countless hours working through problems, of questioning and testing and talking together. So instead of my life being smaller, I believe that change allows my world to grow bigger. I don’t think that changing and moving takes away who we are. I think it enriches our story. Each of my childhood friends, is a part of who I am today. Each of these students I taught carries a part of me. And maybe, my interactions with them, in this tiny part of their life, made a difference. Who knows what these students will accomplish? Maybe that is really what I leave behind. Maybe it was just an encouraging word, a smile on a bad day, a helpful hand. I hope this is the piece of me that I have left behind and it makes me wonder what might happen next because I left those parts of me behind.

To Boldly Go!

To boldly go…where I have never gone before: into the realm of blogging.  I have said over and over again that I was going to eventually start a blog.   As I transition out of school and move forward into what will surely be an interesting summer, I want a place to share my adventures, my thoughts and my stories.  There is never a dull moment in my life, and now I finally have a platform to share it with someone.  Hopefully these stories will make you laugh, bring you encouragement, call you to action to change the world or maybe just be the thing you needed to put a smile on your face.  My hope is to share my tiny perspective of the world with you, and in return learn yours.  So, here is to new beginnings, exploration and adventure, and boldly blogging!