Sunday, January 29, 2017

American Dream



My heart is heavy.

My heart is heavy and embarrassed and so sorry.

As the people who have grown up with me know, I am a Christian - formally defined as someone who follows Christ, or Jesus. I am also White. And in the last few years, I have come to realize what this represents (at many times ashamedly) and have opened my eyes to the reality of what this associates me to historically and politically: a mindset of superiority. And privilege. So much privilege.
I'm sorry it took me so long to see it.

I was born in Switzerland, a very small country in Europe. It is a country of many wonders and beauty, but also of great division, especially between the Swiss-born and immigrants.
I was young and I didn't fully understand. I believed what I'd hear and only saw what I was told to see.
I was surrounded by a repeating song.
Someone doesn't belong, and it isn't me,
it would sing.

When I was 4, my family took us to the United States for the first time.
I was still young and I still didn't fully understand.
But there was a sense of hope, of longing for better. And a lot of pride. Even as an outsider.
The American Dream.

When I was 7, we officially immigrated to America.

Someone doesn't belong, and it isn't me,
I'd still hear.

It took my sister and I about a year to learn English.
On the first day of school, I didn't know what the national anthem was or the pledge of allegiance. I don't know what the teacher said to me, but I remember she was upset because I wasn't standing.
We switched schools after that.

It didn't take long for me to see how important America was to a lot of Americans.
It was a bold lifestyle. And loud. And addictive.
This is where I experienced church. I went to church every Sunday.
It was part of our American Dream. We were surrounded by more Christians than we were in Switzerland, and this made us feel like we belonged.

We were surrounded by people who looked like us, who were bold and loud about it. And it was comfortable. We were immigrants, but we were White Christian immigrants.

We had found comfort in beliefs that suited our lifestyle,
we had given God a face and named him "White".

I began to talk to God alone.
I began to ask him more and more questions.
And the repeating song in my head telling me I wasn't the outcast started to change.
"What makes you better? What makes you more important? Your heart is just as messy."
I began to hear.
I became close to the God I asked questions to alone. And became conflicted with the God I'd hear about at church. Because, sometimes, it wouldn't match.

In 2006, we moved to Canada.
And I became more involved with church.
I was given handbooks and teachings that made Christianity appear very black and white.
I still had many questions, but I had new rules and guidelines this time. This was supposed to make being human easier. Or so it seemed.
I also became friends with people of different faiths and beliefs and orientations. I became friends with Muslims and atheists and gays.
And my mind was fighting the need to be right with "What makes you better?"
I had more and more challenging (but important) conversations with friends I didn't agree with. Sometimes they inspired me to change my mind. Other times they simply opened my eyes.

And it started to sink in: I wasn't better and I wasn't more right.
The Love I grew to know was unconditional, and it meant just that.
Grace could never be defined by the human mind.
Handbooks didn't make being human easier.
Countries don't determine whether you belong somewhere or not. And the color of your skin doesn't determine your value.
Jesus was a brown man, a refugee, and hated by politicians. (I had always seen Jesus portrayed in plays or films by a White man.)
And he preferred the company of outcasts.

I woke up from a dream not long ago where I had written the line "I follow God, not Christians" in my journal. Like a reminder of what should always be.

And so, I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. And I am with the outcasts. I stand for the silenced, the hurting, and the weary. As Jesus did. I will fail often, and I will be wrong at times, too. But I will chase after truth, asking as many questions as I can. I will not be silent. I don't want to mask my fears with pride and a false sense of superiority. Instead, I want to take comfort in a Love I cannot fully understand that I don't deserve, but who wants me anyway. And speak with it. Act in it. Breathe and reflect it.
And if you are a Christian, too, I ask you to challenge your thoughts. To renew [give fresh life to; replace] your mind. Ask as many questions as you can. And chase truth. Don't settle with the easy and the comfortable. Spend time with those different than you. If your thoughts are different than mine and you wish to share them with me, I ask that you don't hide behind a comment. But instead, I invite you to have tea with me. Physically. Or over Skype. And we can dialogue.

In this time of heaviness, confusion, and pain, I send you light, hope, and love.

Friday, December 30, 2016

one day at a time

as days go by, i get older.
and the older i get, the more i learn about the world. i forget that sometimes. that i still don't know everything. that somewhere in me, there is still a child, and she's still innocent and naïve and some realities still surprise and hurt her. i don't think that ever goes away. i want her to stay.
i think there is a lot of courage in looking at life through hopeful eyes, trusting there is gold in each of us. trusting there is something more. i don't want that hope to ever fade. no matter how many times my heart breaks. no matter how many times my heart is disappointed and deceived.
but too, the older i get, the more questions i have. and i think questions and hope are of the same body. they're not opposites. they're stronger together.
i've been asking questions to try to understand, to get to the root of what hurts - and even in the mess, i've been finding beauty and hope, still. even when i don't understand.
a hope that can't come from me. a hope that says, "it's not for you to fix, let Me."
i learned i can't fix someone
no matter how much i give.
i learned we don't always mean what we say.
that a touch doesn't always mean "i care".
that sometimes it's selfish.
i learned that pretty words can't cover an ugly truth.
no matter how nice we make it seem.
i realized we're afraid to talk about what's inside of us.
we're afraid to change our minds.
we do the same things without knowing why.
we don't ask enough questions.
and we protect beliefs that we don't fully understand.
death is still scary, and we don't know how to embrace it.
Gilmore Girls is a comfortable show because there isn't anything uncomfortable about it.
lavender is still the tastiest ice cream flavor.
and i still don't know how to drive.

i know 2016 has been a heavy year. one of heart break, of anger, of fear. but also of bright hope. light shines the brightest in the dark, and i never want to lose sight of that. of how much light there is in darkness. moving. alive. (so alive)
as the days continue to go by, i hope to ask even more questions. to confront more. to consume less of what feels comfortable and grow from what makes me uncomfortable. to fight for the forgotten and unjust. i hope to learn more. but not lose hope. i hope to guard my heart more. but not love less.
i want to challenge what i know, and be more curious of what i don't.
and in the reminder that we are mortal bodies, i want to wake up every morning for as long as my heart beats with hope louder than my fears that tells me my spirit belongs somewhere beyond what i can see.

one day at a time.
together.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

a letter for September

dear beloved,
it's me.
i'm writing this because letters are easier for you to make sense of what is
too big to understand. i understand.
we'll take it slowly.
we've been 26 for a while, i know there's been changes. and i know change is hard.
you've been good with it.
you've been so good, i'm so proud.
your sister moved out, and married. i know you were scared,
but it's not so scary anymore.
you talk often.
it's not the same, but
it's temporary.
it's necessary.
we need time to be on our own.
you feel alone, sometimes, i know
but i feel it, too.
that makes us two, right?
together. (we're together)
i know this time is important,
the quiet, the unknown.
let yourself feel fully,
i know you've been doing it.
don't be ashamed of what you feel,
there is power in that.
i know you can see it, too.
this is a part of your story and it will mean something,
maybe not now, but later.
i promise.
i also know your heart ached. and sometimes still does.
you weren't honored and you wished to be.
i know you know what you deserve,
and i know that you know you're strong.
it hurts, and it's okay. you're not weak for feeling it.
you give, and it's beautiful to see. don't regret loving.
please don't regret loving. you love so well.
don't blame yourself for that. (the world needs you)
you don't know what's next.
and i know you feel small.
but you're extraordinary.
and you are with me.
the mountains will move
and the oceans will separate,
some already have.
don't fear.
we are in places
and we will continue to go places
you don't know of yet.

just know,
i know.
and it's okay.
it's going to be okay.

love,
Me.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Be human

Everything I am and do connect to my heart and my mind.
The well-being of my heart and my mind are very important; if I am healthy there, I can continue to be. And I believe this for each of us.
I think that the home we build inside of ourselves is a priority over the home we build in the world; it is the source of our thoughts, ideas, imagination, and feelings. It is the source of our spirit.
If you are at rest internally, you are at rest externally.

So why fear the subject around our mental health when it is the very thing that keeps us moving?
Mental health should be common sense and a common conversation -
not taboo.
Somehow, over time, we've created a standard of being for ourselves,
one that is "comfortable" and "safe". One that isn't messy, and without questions.
There is a certain way to be in public, and a certain way to speak.
We've created a standard that limits, quiets, and hides our being.
We've let fear and shame speak - and make the decisions. 

There is a war inside of my head;
Between sitting in the dark and standing in the light.
Between the "could be"s, "should be"s, and "what is".
Between what I know, and what I don't.
And I am not weak for admitting. I am not weak for questioning. I am not weak for being broken,
because the war inside of my head does not define my value.
The war inside of my head does not define my strength, my spirit, my being.

It is okay to feel. It is okay to be angry, jealous, nervous, even afraid. It is okay to take time to be alone. It is okay to be needy, and to feel pain.
Be human. Be as human as you can be. Be human to the fullest.
Feel
without shame, without justifying.
Your heart and mind are meant to be alive. And we are meant to be alive in this moment together.

Let's care for each other. Let's care for the homes inside our hearts and our minds.
They're important. 

You're important.


Friday, March 4, 2016

A Conversation: Q&A / Part II

And as promised, here's part II of the q&a.

I'll be making more of these conversation videos, so if there's anything you'd like to talk about, don't hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Conversation: Q&A / Part I


I want to share more about my creative journey, process, experiences, etc., and decided to open up the conversation. I shared a post a year ago on creating, and didn't follow up. (I'm sorry)
So here's the follow up that I promise won't stop here.

I'm starting with a Q&A - thank you for asking the questions! I decided to answer them via video, more fun and natural that way (despite my taking a day to figure out video editing programs).

Part I:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Because, honestly


It was 2001, and I was in the 5th Grade. We had this field trip planned where we'd pretend to be adults and pretend to have a job for a day. We spent weeks preparing for it. We learned how to write checks, made logos for our businesses, created products to sell, and even jingle ads for the "radio station".
The day the class picked out their jobs, I was sick. And there were only a few left when I got back: Post office manager or server at the snack bar. I played it safe and chose the snack bar. My teacher then told me she had put aside the manager job for me, and that I'd make a good leader.
On the day of the field trip, I came in not as a snack bar server, but as an 11 year-old post office manager.
I cried in the first half hour.

I remember that day so clearly. I remember how overwhelming it felt that morning, how I feared messing up and how I didn't want to be wrong.
I think it was an important day for me.
Besides learning how to write a check, I learned something greater - I learned that it's okay to do something you don't know how and that it's worth the risk. I learned that it's okay to lead and cry, too. And it's okay to make mistakes.
It's okay to be wrong.
I didn't realize how much that day would mean to me years later.

I think I've always wanted to lead. I've always wanted to be heard, but I feared honesty like the plague. It's weird when I think about it now.
There was something about being honest that made me so anxious, the way it was straight to the point and exactly what I felt or thought, the way someone else would look back at me and how it required a response from them. It was terrifying to me.
Somewhere inside of me, I was ashamed of vulnerability.
I was ashamed of being wrong.
Somewhere inside of me, I was being told to be ashamed of my honesty before I even expressed it.

When you begin to believe it is embarrassing - or uncool - to be honest, to be human and messy,
you become trapped.
And I was trapped.
Within myself.
By myself.

And the only way I could be freed was to do the very thing that I feared: tell you how I feel.

So, this blog became.
So, making music became.
So, the Because, Honestly series became.
These simple, yet thought-filled and heart-wrenching (at least for me) drawings became my way of breaking my self-made trap.
They became my way of saying I didn't want to be Eve anymore,
I wasn't embarrassed of my nakedness. I wanted to be vulnerable.
I wanted to say the things we all felt but didn't say enough.
I wanted to say what was on my mind, but also say "it's okay to feel it and say it".
I wanted to put "I" and "you" in the same phrase and leave it that way.
I didn't want to go around in circles until you had guessed what it is that I was trying to say, like I had done so many times before.
I wanted to look you straight in the eye without closing mine.
I wanted to let you know I had a messy heart, too.
This series was going to be my way of being a leader, of making an impact.
It was going to be my way of being loud with silence.
It was going to be my way of being powerful.

You see, I think I understand now.
That voice,
the one telling me to be ashamed -
it was just afraid.
Afraid of what I'd become,
of what I'd do when I realize
just how powerful it is
to be vulnerable,
to be honest.

Well, voice, I've realized it.