Celebrate June! #celebratelu


Ruth Ayres hosts the Celebrate Link-Up every weekend on her blog, Ruth Ayres Writes. Although the weekend’s over, I’m taking time to celebrate because June is coming to a close, and I don’t want it to pass without acknowledging some of the joys it brought.

1. ivoh Restorative Narrative summit

Rejuvenating, clarifying, affirming. Those words describe my recent experience at a summit focused on questions of how media can tell stories of resilience and recovery after and in the midst of trauma and catastrophe. The people were great, the schedule included time for walks and meditation, and the setting at a Brahma Kumaris retreat center in the Catskill Mountains nourished my soul.

2. World Cup soccer

Watching the U.S. Women’s National Team games with my mom and dad has been one of my simplest but most treasured activities of the past few weeks. We were a serious soccer family growing up and the tournament is bringing up memories of a magical summer after sixth grade, when my family went to several of the ’99 World Cup games. I’m looking forward to tonight’s match against Germany!

3. Summertime

I usually say that fall is my favorite season, but living in Lancaster County during the summer makes me question that. I just love summer here. So much fresh local produce, pick-your-own fruit becomes available, and walking around this small city in tank tops, shorts and sandals makes life feel easy breezy.


Mountain view at Peace Village, NY. June 2015

Those are just a few. There were many other things worth celebrating in June. Hope you had a great month, too!

Not looking away

I just listened to an interview with Ben Lowy, a conflict photojournalist, on the “It’s All Journalism” podcast. Lowy has photographed war in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan. Asked to explain why he does this tough work, he acknowledged the ego involved. But then he said this:

“When I see something horrible, I don’t turn away from it, for whatever reason. … This is a way I want to talk about what I’m witnessing because I hope that this way that I’m talking will translate.”

I identify a lot with the first part of Lowy’s explanation. I don’t have a defined reason for why I’ve been able to go to places like Occupied Palestine or post-coup Honduras or poverty-ridden India and hold those realities within my heart. But because I can, it feels like an imperative — an imperative to go, an imperative to bear witness, an imperative to do something.

My current life doesn’t engage this capacity of mine (nor the imperative). I intend to change that in the near future. I choose to view this capacity as an unexplained gift, and life is truly too fleeting not to use our gifts.

I leave you with a related poem/quote by Arundhati Roy. I keep a copy of her words hanging near my desk.

Slice of Life Tuesday: Not all young people

This post is part of the Slice of Life challenge at the Two Writing Teachers blog.

Slice of Life 2015

Last week I attended a forum in which a labor market analyst, some college presidents and a workforce leader discussed higher education choices and job outlooks. It was a fundraiser for a local education foundation, and I was there to cover it for my newspaper. The speakers shared the sorts of facts and figures that tend to make me think I should’ve studied science in college (based on employment and income likelihood), though of course I would never trade in my anthro years.

In the question and answer period, one man at a table near to mine stood to ask a question. He referenced a point one speaker had made about the high payoff from studying math but it being a difficult pursuit.

“From what I’ve seen, most young people aren’t interested in being challenged,” he continued.

I don’t recall his actual question, because at that point I had to concern myself with not letting my face match my internal aggravation. Sure, plenty of young people goof around at times and don’t always make the best choices (that’s their underdeveloped pre-frontal cortexes at work), but to cast the majority of them as disliking challenges is wrong.

The panelist didn’t directly tackle the man’s generalization about young people, but he did point to the idea of engagement. He said that math isn’t inherently hard, but the way math has traditionally been taught hasn’t been engaging, and called for a more applied approach to learning the subject.

The idea applies beyond math: if a teenager is engaged in subject or task, he or she will work just as hard as any adult. If they’re not engaged, we ought to find better ways to get them connected to what they’re doing, rather than assuming they’re lazy.

Slice of Life: Mansplaining yoga

Slice of Life 2015

As we rolled up our yoga mats in the YMCA exercise room, an older man approached the woman who’d been practicing next to me. The woman who’d been taking deep breaths in through her nose and out through her mouth.

The man, who was not an instructor, informed her that in yoga you are “supposed to” breath in and out through your nose.

I, too, had noticed her exhalations, but had I considered telling this woman (who also, despite the overall Y membership being diverse, was the only person of color in the class) that she was doing it “wrong”?


I don’t consider myself an expert just by the fact of existing, or even for having been to a bunch of yoga classes. Moreover, the woman’s breathing was very deliberate, so rather than assuming ignorance, I assumed that she was aware of what she was doing, and the pattern worked for her.

Which is indeed what she told the man, patiently. She also asked if she’d bothered him. He said no, though he followed that with some explanation that he had wanted to check if she was new to yoga.

This interaction I observed was not hostile, nor was the man overtly condescending. But as I returned to the locker room to get my coat, I wondered how it had affected the woman’s overall experience that morning.

Can’t we just get some exercise or relaxation without a male stranger telling us how to behave?


This post is part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their site to see other bloggers’ slices. Links are in the comments.

A snow poem


I just came in from a walk

From AU campus, up Massachusetts Ave, to Andrew’s apartment.

Snowy Valentine’s dinner. He bought tilapia.

Pesto with pine nuts — how fancy.

We took a couple’s selfie, before they were called that

Love in megapixels.



I just came in from a walk.

Droplets of melting snow glide off my hair  —

Bangs plastered to forehead as if sweaty

Ears tinged red to match my Rudolph nose

Inside, apartment’s empty.

No other boots stomping wet footprints around the mat.

Just my writing waits for me.

I came in from my walk.



Wind sculpture near the Lancaster train station. Feb. 21, 2015

Andrew and Kara Vday

Andrew and Kara on Valentine’s Day, 2007.


As may be obvious, I wrote this poem after taking a snowy walk this evening. Along the way, I recalled lots of different winter memories, including the walk to my friend Andrew’s apartment on Valentine’s Day eight years ago. The contrast with the empty apartment I returned to tonight is not actually a sad one. I’ve been relishing this cozy day of writing poetry and more.

Celebrate today! #celebratelu


I’m joining the Celebrate Link-Up. To read other bloggers’ celebrations, visit Ruth Ayres’ site.

I worked today, which meant I had yesterday off. Weekdays off can be a treat because they give me a chance to spend time with my dad. He works second shift so we can’t ever make plans on week nights or Friday nights, and he also works frequent weekends. (In his case, that’s not offset by a weekday off — it just means he’s overworked.) Yesterday we went out for sushi and then ran an errand together. They were simple activities and I don’t remember specific things we talked about, but hanging out with my dad makes me feel relaxed and at peace. That’s a good feeling. And tomorrow we’re going to see “Selma” together!

Cape May Vacation

That’s my dad, circa 2009. Photo by my mom.


Celebrate 2014 #celebratelu

This week I’m looking back at 2014 for the Celebrate Link-up, hosted by Ruth Ayres. Head over to her blog to see what others are celebrating.


In recent weeks I’ve seen lots of 2014 reviews and 2015 resolutions around the blogosphere. It’s tempted me to post a bunch of lists of the past year’s accomplishments and goals for the next year. But while I’m doing some of that reflection in my journals, I don’t want to weigh myself down as the year begins. I want simplicity and clarity. Additionally, all the listing seems to overlook the way planning, resolutions and subsequent check-ins can’t account for all the unanticipated accomplishments or moments worth celebrating that happen in a year.

So today I want to celebrate some of the surprises of 2014 brought me.

1. A book club

It started with “Euphoria” by Lily King, which is a novel about a love triangle among three anthropologists doing fieldwork on a remote island. The book is clearly inspired by Margaret Mead’s life and loves. I knew when I heard the description I needed to read and discuss it with Emily, who studied anthro undergrad with me and is working on her Ph.D in the discipline. We read it over the summer and then somehow that led to us starting the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood in recent months. Besides good books and a good friend, what I love about this unplanned book club is that it’s not on a rigid schedule and there’s been no hassle in coordinating when we meet — we just text each other when we’re nearing the end of a section, check what times we could Skype in the next couple days, and then we do it. It’s great!

2. Distance running

In recent years, I ran several 5K runs, but in 2014 I was kind of over it. I still liked running, but races are pricey and a 5K was no longer a challenge. So I didn’t start the year with a particular goal for running.

In June and July, two things spurred me to try longer distances than before: 1) reading the autobiography of a pioneering female marathoner and 2) starting to run at a local rail trail on weekends. The autobiography didn’t make me create a new goal, but reading the thoughts of this determined runner sort of seeped into my own psyche, and I found myself running an extra mile or two each weekend. Going to the rail trail also made that possible because I’ve always liked a scenario where I can just run on one path without interruption. I have a harder time persisting while running in a city or town setting.

In September I ran a 10K race (6.2 miles) and one day last month I ran 11 miles — my longest distance yet. I’m looking at options for running a half-marathon this year.

3. Raw foods

A friend and I went to special raw dinner at a local juice café in August. I was delighted by both the delicious food and how good I felt after — satiated, but light and energetic. So I’ve been experimenting with various raw recipes on my own once or twice a week. (Most recipes I’ve tried are from The Rawtarian website, an awesome resource).

Raw foods are definitely more expensive but I am surprised at how easy most recipes are to make. The ingredients are straightforward and the preparation options are limited (mostly chopping, blending or food processing), so it’s neither as time-consuming nor as intimidating as I’d expected!

One of my favorite recipes so far is raw “mashed potatoes” which is actually a cauliflower and cashew puree.

4. Work things

My income increased significantly when I moved to Lancaster for a different job. I’m still a reporter, so I’m not rolling it in, but the boost has helped in paying down college debt and being able to contribute to some causes/charities I care about. I also am celebrating the growth of some work relationships, which has been a bright spot this year.

That's me running the 10K in September 2014. Photo by Emily Channell

That’s me running the 10K in September 2014. Photo by Emily Channell


What unexpected positive things happened in your life in 2014? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


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