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But what about Fear?

But what about Fear? 
~a free-verse about the fear-verse ~

That’s a “dangerous way of thinking.”
I can hear my families voices ringing in my ears.
Espousing danger, is a favorite past time in Christianity.
Keeping the wife blind, and the women silent.
“They get too emotional, so of course they shouldn’t be in a place of leadership because we can’t trust their decision-making skills.”

Anything that is different from the legalistic way,
I was trained to believe as a child,
is DANGEROUS.
Thinking differently,
is DANGEROUS.
Ultimately it leads to my own FREEDOM,
which is DANGEROUS.
Once you are free, you are no longer protected.
You must remain in a box of curated thinking,
in order to stay protected by those in that same box.
They claim salvation through their ideals.

Manipulation.
Greed.
Gas-lighting.
Bigotry.
Hatred.
Rightness.
RIGHTness.

Right has no finesse.
To be right, is to penetrate with bullets or a sword.
It’s staccato. It hurts, it stings.  We bleed.
And don’t mistake me saying RIGHT as being correct.  Or RIGHT is accurate.
To be RIGHT, comes from a desire to be heard.
Call it insecurity, call it a tiny penis.  Call it misinformed.
Call it what you WILL.
But where there is a WILL, there is a WAY.
Even for those who believe they are RIGHT.

So, when one believes something different than me,
if the instinct is to FEAR
Then I must ask you, are you afraid you might be WRONG?
Would that mean your whole life was built on sand?
Are you then, duped?
Can no one trust you then?
Oh no, must you now humble yourself?
Must you start over?
Must you change your mind?

Your mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Did you waste it?
Did you waste your life?

No.
You raised me.
The next generation is always here, to pick up where you left off.
To take up arms, to lay down our arms.
To carry the sword of truth, whatever it may be.
To RIGHT, your wrongs.

So instead of telling me I’m thinking dangerously, remind me,
I’m thinking independently.
Independent of you.
Which is a good thing.
Maybe I’ll be able to be a leader after all.
Think freedom, instead of fear.
Think that – new thoughts, speak eloquence.
They resonate, because they are new tones, new sounds to the ear.
Rather then the droning that will eventually be tuned out.

And before you start thinking, that you’ve heard these words before,
just know,
it’s my first time experiencing them.
So let me ride this wave.
It is God’s WILL. And God’s WILL, is always RIGHT.
So have no FEAR. 

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Christianity, Grace, Politics

I was a Proud Pro-Life Believer, Now I believe in Grace. (Thoughts on Christianity, Politics, and God’s Grace)

I was brought up in a household of legalistic Christianity.  I was ultimately raised to be far-right by those in my community, however my parents were hands-off about politics.  We didn’t talk about it.  I had this notion that everyone in politics was a puppet, plus it was beyond me, not to mention boring.  However, I loved music. Yes, even some Christian music.  In high school, I was attracted by the Pro-Life movement. My friends and I attended Pro-Life Christian concerts and rallies, where pro-life conversation was on the “agenda.”  We were swept up with the ever growing ska & punk scene that was straight-edge and screaming Oi! Oi! Oi!  What we were engaged in was small scale.  We didn’t write postcards to our senators, we didn’t engage politically.  But we participated in the hoopla of the message.

The furthest extent we took it to was: Peaceful Protest . One morning a week, a group of us from school would arrive over an hour before our first class.  We hopped on a little bus that brought us to the local abortion clinic, 20 minutes away from our Christian school. We walked around the sidewalk, singing worship songs.  We made a point to not talk to anyone going into the clinic.  There were some religious fanatics that were there, holding bloody fetus posters and yelling at the girls.  We thought they were crazy, and mean.  We didn’t talk to them. When they tried to get us to participate in their actions, or hold signs, we said no.  We couldn’t do it, it felt so wrong.

We did feel that what the girls and doctors were doing was wrong, but we always came from the place of: “no matter what you do, God will forgive you.”  We left the speaking, to the adults.  Our adult chaperones, however, didn’t speak either.  We were all just trying to bring peace to this 1-block radius in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and maybe change some girls minds by just being there, singing about God’s love.  When we were at the concerts, skanking & moshing, then we could cry out pro-life mantras, but we didn’t dare try to convince anyone outright.

During that time, I would go to church with my friends and their families.  These churches spoke to my heart.  I’m really grateful for that time.  I explored a wide array of evangelism and Christianity, and not even all of it.  A lot of people hate Christianity because of it’s Christians.  I get it. Who wants to spend their time exploring something they already made up their mind up about, to try and find something good in there?  Who actively trys to change their own mind!?  I did it because I had a curated Christian life. It was all I was ‘allowed’ to do.

I went to this one church that had a class teaching about women in the Bible.  It taught against the notion that women weren’t allowed to speak in church, or anywhere in leadership.  According to my father, women could teach or speak to women and children, only.  I grew up feeling really uneasy about this.  I know now it was because I’m a lot like my dad.  When it came to leadership, I wasn’t allowed to be like him, even though I naturally was.  Had I been a shy girl who leaned naturally towards submissiveness, maybe this never would have been a problem.  My dad walked and talked with authority.  I wanted to command a stage and an audience, and communicate thought too.  Luckily, he allowed me to be an actress.

Over time, I slowly began to think differently from him; independently, freely.  I learned to think for myself.  I was still thinking with those on the far-Right, and thought it was the only right way.  But I knew women could speak out and have a voice, and that the Biblical ideas of sexism and bigotry were part of an entrenched culture that went back for centuries.  Still as ancient as it was, I was experiencing it at home.  I had my free-filled church and Christian life; and I had my oppressive home life.

When I went to a secular college (secular = non-Christian), which I think my dad still regrets allowing me to do, my mind was opened up further.  I met people of all races, religions, and sexual preferences.  My mind was blown, and I didn’t want to come out of my cute, little, safe shell.  I was so cozy in there.  I was SCARED.  So when the elections came around in 2004, I voted Bush in for his second term, only because I still believed abortion was wrong.  I didn’t tell anyone.  Even though I literally hated the guy as President, and thought he was stupid, I still felt that abortion was a non-argument.  It was murder.  It’s ALL I knew about politics. And it’s all that I believed.

Finally, my senior year in college, I took the plan B pill.  A freak accident with a broken condom that got stuck in my vagina for 72 hours, was the single-act of God that slapped me in the face.  I walked 3 days in someone else’s shoes.  I experienced a world I had once shunned and judged, and never fully understood.  I am so grateful for that pill.  I am so grateful for Stacy down the hall, who knew to call a nurse at a hotline in upstate New York, who would call in this prescription to anyone in the United States.  They saved my life.  They saved my future.  They saved my way of thinking.  It completely changed me.

I was so ashamed.  How could I do this?   I felt like such a hypocrite!  Everything I had preached and believed for the past 8 years, was down the toilet with one pill, one interaction.  I knew girls from high school that had gotten pregnant in college, and kept their babies.  I don’t know if I would’ve gotten pregnant, but I knew I couldn’t have a baby.  Not then, not while I was still in school, not when I wasn’t ready, not with that guy.  I was planning on moving to LA in a few months.  I had so much opportunity in front of me.  I felt it would be more irresponsible for me to bare a child, then to not have one at that time in my life.  I know there wasn’t a heartbeat, but I learned that life started at conception, no proof of heartbeat necessary.  This was a big deal!

Back in my senior year of high school, my most favorite teacher and Chaplain, was teaching on the topic of Grace.  He said if we learned one thing from him before graduation, he wanted us to understand the concept of God’s grace.  I graduated almost completely oblivious.  But his desire for me to understand grace was not forgotten.  It wasn’t until I was able to experience Grace, that I learned what it truly meant.  The saying “walk a day in someone else’s shoes”, is truly profound.  If you’ve never done it, then it will just sound cliché.  Learning empathy is what I think could truly save America, not being Right, or right, or accurate, or correct.

What is true anyway?
God.
God = Love.
Love is always right.

Next up:
But what about Fear? 
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Christians, Election 2016, Love

To All My Fellow Christians, those Rejoicing in Today:

The feeling of victory is palpable.  It is an exhilarating feeling, a natural high of euphoric proportions.  I understand why few would be compelled to conceal it.  We have all felt this, in one way or another.  So for those rejoicing, I want to remind you not to lose yourselves in this moment.

Please do not get so caught up, that you forget to look at those around you.
What you say, says a lot about what is in your heart, and the love you have for others.

Yes, we all want to be right, and win.  But what do we want more than that?  We all want to feel loved, accepted, safe, and heard.  At the very least, we all have that in common.

Let us LISTEN to others, with compassion and empathy, rather than shout over them.

Just as we should any day after an election, let us focus on UNITY.
We are all a broken and hurting people whether we wear it on our sleeves, or brush it under a rug.  We are all more alike, then we want to admit.

So let’s finish our day with compassion, empathy, and try to understand each other with LOVE.

I am glad that Trump didn’t gloat last night. I’m glad that he admitted how exhausting the whole process was.  I don’t stand with Trump, and have never supported him.  However, I want his supporters to at least glean that from him, – and win without boasting.

So remember why you call yourself a Christian – JESUS!

Be like Jesus, look out for the LEAST OF THESE (Matthew 25:40) – the forgotten, the abused, the bullied.  Love Your Neighbor (Mark 12:31), and Do Not Boast (1 Cor 13:4).  If you speak, without love, you are going to sound like a clanging symbol (1 Cor 13:1) that no will want to hear.  They will plug their ears and tune you out.

As Christians, let’s start here:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Let’s reach out to those that are different from us, the marginalized, those that may be outside our everyday circles, and those that we do not relate to.  There are hurting people all around us.   Let us seek to understand, and serve them.  Let us all unite through Love, it is the only way.

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New Chapter

Two years ago I shaved my head. Now, I am silent.

Two years ago, I emerged from my Halloween Weekend at the Grand Canyon with a shaved head.

Grand canyon
I was in a very differently place in my life. (To read about it, go: here).

Today, I find myself in another, but different, transitory chapter.

The year before I shaved my head,  everything in my life felt like it was coming to a head.  My best friend was dying, my relationship at the time hit a fork in the road, my parents were not supportive of my life choices.  I felt like loss was all around me, and I was stressed out! 
I had little to grasp, little I could trust.  Except I was grasping, I was clutching my throat.  It took me some time to figure out, this is where I carried most of my tension.

In 2013, my voice teacher suggested I see an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat Doctor).  My voice sounded and felt tired, so I went.  The ENT discovered nodules on my vocal chords.  After 6 months of voice therapy and a lot of vocal rest, the nodules practically shrank and my vocal chords looked healthier. Whenever, I felt a lump in my throat or could tell I was storing tension, I would give myself some voice rest. I saved phone calls for another day.  I chilled out and dove into hot yoga. The humid room was my haven!

This past September, I knew it was time to go back for a check up to the ENT.  Things were feeling uncomfortably familiar, so I wanted to be responsible, and thus started a thorough investigation.  ENT #1 said I needed surgery. ENT #2 said I needed surgery.  ENT #3 & Speech Pathologist, said I should do 75% vocal rest, in addition to some lifestyle changes to rule out acid reflux for 6 weeks & then return for reevaulation.

What does 75% vocal rest mean?
I can still work during this time – yay!  But other than that, I’m doing shut-up therapy.  I’m writing emails, texts, jotting on a notepad & white board to communicate with people, when I’m not at work.  I want to see serious changes and possibly avoid surgery, so I am down to do whatever it takes.  It’s tedious, annoying, frustrating, and even funny.

Have you ever had an opportunity in your life where you leapt?  Maybe your leap was more like a launch.  Maybe you fell through the air for a while, but then landed on a springboard that hurled you at light speed into the next beautiful phase of your life.  If only all growth periods could act like these – growth spurts.

I feel so grateful for this opportunity, finally.  I feel incredibly lucky.  I realize this is another time in my life where I get to change, BIG.

I say finally, however it’s only been five days that I’ve been in these particular trenches.  They have been challenging days, and I have been confronted SMACK in the throat with my control issues.  I literally can do nothing at this point, but accept this period of silence, and inevitable healing.  I realize that I have an amazing opportunity to completely change my life for the better.  To actually let go, relax, submit, give up, and accept peace above all.

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This year’s Halloween Costume.

And ya know what, even find JOY!

(Stay tuned, there’s more to come…..)
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blogging

To Blog or Not to Blog, Again.

I have been wanting to start blogging again, for awhile now.

The main excuse that has kept me from doing so?  I didn’t want my mom to read it.

I started this blog in November 2014, with the post “Why I Shaved My Head.” (Check it out: here). I was excited to start a journey of self-exploration and adventure, hoping to continually inspire (myself, and others) along the way.

I went to Portugal last summer, and wanted to blog during the experience.  I made one fatal mistake.  I told my mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother.  I respect her, and think she is the most patient woman I know.  She is the reason my entire childhood was so much fun!  She’s a great woman, whom I have learned a lot from.

In Portugal, I wanted her to feel connected to me.  Plus, I knew she would appreciate the details I wrote about.  However, soon enough, I realized I was beginning to censor myself.

One terrible habit I picked up from my dad – “Protect your mother, because essentially she can’t handle it.  She’ll get too emotional” (my paraphrasing).   Wow, Dad. Wow.  There is too much to unpack in these paraphrased ideas, maybe for another post.

I have never wanted my parents to worry about me, or make them sad.  I do not want to hurt them.  I want them to know that their daughter is doing just fine, and she’s happy and healthy.  That is in fact true.  However, in order to stay happy and healthy, I go to therapy and I cry, and I hash out the things that come up in life.  I am  working on my communication with my parents, and navigating the line between communication and boundaries.

When I was in Portugal, I wrote a blog that only stayed up for about a day.  I don’t remember what it said, maybe something about my mom.  She told me it offended her, and so I took it down after about a day.

When considering blogging again, I was going to start a second blog, hoping my mother wouldn’t find it.  I want to be able to fully express myself, without conscious or subconscious censorship.  I want to talk about things I’m learning about myself.  I want to talk about my relationships.

Ultimately, I have decided to keep this blog, after encouragement from my close friend Rachel.  I love the name of this website, and everything that it inspires me to be.  I originally thought long and hard about the name, and what it means to me.  If I start a new blog, I would be hiding behind a new name, and giving up on Unrelenting Hannah.

So I decided to keep this blog and continue writing, unrelentingly.

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MaryKate

What would Mary do?

I always find comfort in knowing Mary went through something I went through.  Often I find myself thinking, did Mary feel this way?  I’m sure it’s a normal part of coping with her absence.  Although, growing up I didn’t want to do something unless Mary had done it first.  She always seemed to pave the way for me.

I didn’t drink in high school.  In college, I said no at parties until about 6 months before my 21st birthday.  I wasn’t with Mary, but I called her 2 Vanilla Coke’n Rum’s in, to declare “Mary, I’m drunk!”  I definitely was never going to smoke!  But then later, I could at least try it, since she had.  I definitely was not going to be having sex.  And whenever I would do the deed, it would have to be after Mary had done it. How else was I going to know what to do?

This standard pertained to an array of things: going on a date, kissing a boy, traveling, buying things, etc.  All fashion purchases were double checked with her, even after the fact.  I had to make sure it was cool.  I was pretty ignorant, and just plain scared. Sometimes I wonder how much has really changed.

Lately, I have found myself feeling useless, stagnant, bored.  My summer hiatus is (hopefully) ending, and I am starting to finally feel it’s weight pull me down.  I’ve always been an optimistic and active person, I can’t sit still.  I caused my Portugal vacation to be an opportunity to learn another language.  Even now, during hiatus, I have kept up with Portuguese lessons daily, piano practice, yoga practice – I will not let myself become idle.  Still, I have lost purpose, and optimism.  Today was particularly hard.  I know, we need to have these days sometimes.  I do see the the benefit of them.  I know when we have days like these, we can appreciate the good ones even more.
Today, at the end of a long emotional day, I found solace in knowing Mary felt this way.

I remember growing up, and especially in college, she was trying to figure out her life purpose.  She would tell me how jealous she was of me, that I always just knew I wanted to be an actress.    I was passionate about it, and practiced it and sought out opportunities.  I majored in Theatre in college.  It was happening.  She, on the other hand, had many interests.  She played basketball in high school.  She was amazing!  She also played soccer, was in some plays, took piano lessons, art lessons. She wrote poetry. She loved to read. I don’t know how she found the time to know every lyric to every song on the radio.  She majored in Arts Administration in college, and envisioned one day curating an art museum.  After graduating college, she didn’t feel directed towards a passion. She always explored and dabbled, but wasn’t feeling what she thought she saw in so many of her peers around her.  Over time, towards the end of her life, she realized her calling to be a counselor.  It was amazing to see her so passionate about something, and it made sense with all of her life experience to be doing just that.  It really clicked and finally made sense.  It was exciting.

But career aside, there was ONE THING, she told me in high school and/or college,  that she knew she was meant to be and do, and that was to be a mother.  That was the one thing she always felt led to accomplish and had the confidence to do so. She had grown up her mother’s little helper.  She had an amazing teacher and blueprint in place for the job.

Mary also got married before me. She had a child before me. And, she died before me.  These are things I think about a lot.  I think about how when my times comes, I don’t think I will be nearly as scared as I would have been; especially if I go young, or if a disease takes my body, the long and hard way like it did hers.  It would be terrible, but I would at least be comforted in the fact that she went through it, first.  Even more so, I would be happy to see her soon.  She would be waiting for me on the other side, or maybe she would even usher me in and make the transition smoother. I hope she would.

After thinking about Mary, I feel comforted. She felt hopeless and useless, directionless and stagnant at times.  She knew these struggles well, during many years of seeking.  I feel the bittersweetness of being alive without her.  I have the opportunity to live and appreciate bad days like these.  Thanks for teaching me that Mary.  Thanks for teaching me to hope, even when it feels like all is hopeless.

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lighthing design

Lighting is Everything

Lighting is everything.  

This is something you learn living in Hollywood.  It doesn’t matter how good the camera is, if the lighting isn’t perfect, the camera won’t be able to do it’s best work.  It won’t matter how good the actors are, they won’t be seen, the story won’t be understood, all the money invested in the project will be for naught, if the lighting isn’t PERFECT!!

Hollywood aside, if it doesn’t mind removing itself from the spotlight, lighting really is everything.

I sit at home, my current temporary home, on the couch – typing.  I am in the most amazingly designed living room in a beautifully designed apartment.  My roommate Tracey and renter of this cool Silverlake loft for the past 7+ years, has impeccable taste and creativity.  There are items around the apartment, from all over the world, each is perfectly placed.  The attention to detail is off the charts.  I completely appreciate this, and am convinced I wouldn’t know what to do with the objects if each was individually placed in my hand.  Tracey is from New Zealand, so it’s no wonder…..right?

One of the things I appreciate most about the apartment, is Tracey’s lighting designs.  There are lamps, lightbulbs, and other bright things strewn all about the apartment, high and low, in nooks and crannies.  There are so many options for different lighting schemes, depending on where you might want to plop down for a bit.  I am truly tickled by it.  I remember when I first moved in, I thought it was irresponsible and wasteful.  Really, I did, I am embarrassed to say.  Now that I have fully benefitted from her choices, can I truly appreciate them.  There is nothing more amazing then sitting in the living room with a cup of tea, 5 lights on, and different shadows on the walls to keep me company; NOTHING (because lighting is EVERYTHING!!).

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