Spread the Word to End the Word

Take a minute and think of how you define your identity based on the following categories:

  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Profession
  • Political Stance
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Relationship with Others
  • Nationality
  • Hobbies
  • Where you are From
  • Ability versus Disability
  • Body Shape or Size

If I asked you to share these aspects of your identity with someone else, would you be comfortable in doing so?  What are the vulnerable parts of your identity that would make you uncomfortable?  Why would you be hesitant to share those vulnerable parts of your identity?

What if you couldn’t go to the school you wanted to go to because of that part of your identity?  What if you couldn’t get a loan to buy a house?  What if you couldn’t get a job?  What if…what if…what if…what if you couldn’t live the life you wanted because of that part of your identity?

The first Wednesday in March is the annual day to raise awareness about the use of the word retarded, the dehumanizing and derogatory effect it has on people that have an intellectual or developmental disability, and invite everyone to change their attitude about it and eliminate its use in their vocabulary.   Why?  Because that may be the vulnerable element of someone else’s identity.  It’s all about considering how someone else may feel and treating their vulnerability how you would want someone to treat yours–even if you don’t understand what the big deal is.  This is what will transform our society into the one of inclusion and acceptance for everyone that it has the potential to become.

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“Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful.Because of this, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and the greater disability community prefers to focus on people and their gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes.”

Click here to learn more and take the pledge today!

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So I’ve Been Missing in Action

So I’ve been missing in action from the blogosphere for 8 months.  I wrote about my sophomore year of college and then…poof.  Fell off the earth.

Well, I didn’t exactly fall off the earth.  I actually flew to Germany.  I studied abroad there for five weeks and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT then came home and was all like, “Uhhhh…how do I convert five weeks of amazingness into a blog post?”  So I just didn’t post anything.  While a blog post won’t do my 5 weeks of amazingness justice, I’m going to give it a shot, so here I go!

Essen, Germany was our home base; we lived in Stelle, which is like a neighborhood of Essen.  In Germany, when an old industrial building has served its purpose, it is repurposed rather than just shut down or demolished.  The guest house where we lived was one of those repurposed industrial buildings.  There was a restaurant on the first floor, community classrooms on the second, and our guest house on the third.  There were 15 students that came on the trip and we had so much fun together.

This was an art study abroad.  I was a little nervous because the last art class I took was in 8th grade.  I knew I was going to be way out of my league and I was.  Which meant I had so much to learn from the amazing people I was with.  Painting:  Our focus was architecture.  We would go to different cities, go off on our own, find something that interested us, and sit down right there to paint it.  I loved working with watercolors.  Drawing:  Our focus was interior spaces.  I am the literal worst at drawing, but I did discover that I really like working with charcoal.  Art History:  We went to a bunch of museums.  I saw art by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and a ton of other great artists.  My favorite museum was one of the last ones we went to.  It was in Dusseldorf.  In the main exhibit, the artist had set up a bunch of rooms so you were walking through the art.  The description says, “The exhibition Dominique Gonzalex-Foerster.  1887-2058 acts as a kind of time machine.  It takes us through the timeline of works and lets us visit landscapes and rooms, tropical regions and deserts, biographies and dystopias,” but ya kinda had to be there.

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That is a wax figure at one of the museums we went to.  I obviously took my all of museum experiences very seriously.

My favorite thing about Germany was the public transportation.  I love how it is set up so you can get anywhere you need to go with it.  They had trains, street cars, underground trams, and buses.  I love having a map and figuring out where you are and where you are going. It’s like a game figuring out what train you need to get on and in which direction; getting lost is half of the fun.  Usually, in the afternoons after class, I could be found aimlessly riding the trains, getting off at some stop to explore.

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I made friends with this cute kiddo on one of my many train rides.

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J obviously wasn’t as thrilled to be on a four hour train ride to Berlin as I was.

The Eurocup was happening while we were there.  (The Eurocup is the men’s soccer championship of Europe.)  It was being hosted by France.  We were there during the group rounds so there was soccer on ALL OF THE TIME.  Games were being played like three times a day for three weeks of the trip.  I have some great memories of watching the games at a bar with a bunch of other huge soccer fans.  It was especially fun to watch with the Germans when Germany was playing; it was cool to see soccer bring an entire country together.

 

I spent a weekend in Amsterdam.  My favorite part was the Anne Frank house.  I wanted to go so badly, but we didn’t have tickets and I’d heard that the line to get in is always huge.  We took a train from Germany to the Netherlands.  The Dutch family that we shared a train car with told us to go at night right before it closes, so we got there at 9:15 (it closed at 10) and were able to get in with no line.  It was a super powerful experience for me; I straight up cried like a baby.  We also went to Haarlem (a city about 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train).  We saw a church where Mozart played the organ when he was 10, ate some fries and made friends with the fry guy, and went to the beach.

We spent four days in Berlin.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED BERLIN!!!  I would move there in a heartbeat and hope to do so in the future.  In the city of Berlin alone, there are over 175 museums.  There is always something to do there and I loved the feeling of movement and atmosphere of adventure.  I went to the Berlin Wall Memorial, saw the bust of Nefertiti, and went to a museum all about spies (especially the equipment used during the world wars).  My friend and I found an independent artist association in this graffiti covered alley.  It was in Berlin that I found tacos (which I missed immensely).

I spent three days in Paris.  I could have spent three years there and not have seen everything.  We went to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower (climbed 702 stairs to the second floor), the Louvre (spent 4 hours there and maybe saw a third of it), the catacombs, and wandered through the city exploring and seeing what cool things we could find, all while reveling in the glory of soccersoccersoccer.  On the train ride home, we upgraded our tickets to first class for one euro and you’d better believe we were living the dream.

So let’s talk food.  I have to eat gluten free and that was definitely something I was worried about.  It was a little rough at first (especially with the language barrier), but I got better and by the end, I was a pro(ish).  My favorite restaurant was called Burgerista where they played “Happy” by Pharrell on loop and lettuce wrapped my burgers and had wifi and air conditioning and the best lemonade ever.  I ate there at least once a week.  We ate there on our last night before flying out the next day.  When I came in, the employee (who always seemed to be working when I went) just laughed and shook his head at me.  We are BFFs.  My other favorite thing (besides currywurst and all of the Nutella and the not GF waffles and the not GF bites of crepes and the GF gnocchi) was the Capri Suns.  German Capri Suns are three times as big as American Capri Suns.  (We’ve supersized everything else, but we haven’t supersized Capri Suns?)

Businesses in Germany closed a lot earlier than we were used to.  Usually the only places open after 6pm were the businesses in the train stations and McDonald’s.  We ended up at McDonald’s a lot.  We would go over around 10pm and spend our evening eating one euro sundaes, using the wifi, and playing card games.  It was there that the most epic of  Rummy card games was played–think 15 rounds.

This is only a taste of my adventures across the way.  One of my biggest goals going into the trip was to keep a travel journal, which I faithfully did every day.  I tucked all sorts of tickets and maps and informational brochures and wrappers and and postcards and napkins in between the pages.  So maybe every once in a while, I’ll crack that bad boy open  and you’ll get to hear more stories, like the one about the flower woman in McDonald’s…

The Linoleum Hallway, The Rolley Chair, and Dan Murphy. Magic.

It was a Wednesday afternoon in fall semester 2016.  By and far, fall semester 2016 has been the most taxing semester of all college semesters.  The typical Wednesday afternoon consisted of sitting in the literal worst class on effective teaching and assessment for two and a half hours followed by sitting in another class about teaching reading for two hours.  It was in the half hour break between classes that the magic happened.

At the end of class, we went to the Magic Linoleum Hallway to work on some homework at our favorite table.  (At this time, we didn’t realize it was the Magic Linoleum Hallway; it was just the Linoleum Hallway at that point.)  When we turned the corner, we saw there were two chairs at the table which was a problem because there was three of us.  The problem was easily remedied when I grabbed a Rolley Chair from a classroom we passed by on the way to the table.

At the precise instant the Rolley Chair’s wheels hit the linoleum, MAGIC happened.  No longer were they just the Rolley Chair and the Linoleum Hallway.  Together, they were the MAGIC  Rolley Chair and the MAGIC Linoleum Hallway.  And in that instant, I knew what I had to do–nay, what I was destined to do.  The fire within my soul (some would say passion, others would say creative drive) was ignited and I knew that I had to push off from the table at the end of the Magic Linoleum Hallway and, astronaut style, propel myself from one wall to the other in zigzag fashion to the carpet at the opposite end of the Magic Linoleum Hallway.  And with the power of the Magic Rolley Chair, I knew I could do it (as long as I avoided the stairwell).

I don’t know why, in that instant, my heart wanted that so badly.  Perhaps I was suffering from one of several mental breaks that would happen throughout the semester?  Whatever the reason, that was the thing that would make my heart happy in that moment.  I NEEDED to travel the length of the hallway in that rolley chair and it needed to happen right then.

I began my sojourn with a solid push away from the table.  I steered myself towards the wall and pushed off towards my next wall push way point.  I was making good progress when Dan Murphy came out of his office.  (Perhaps to see what the ruckus was, perhaps to get a cup of coffee.  We were in the Fine Arts building, so I’d guess the latter was more likely as he was probably accustomed to the ruckus made by those art fiends.)  He looked at me once; he looked at me again.  I could see in his eyes that he figured out what I was doing.

He opened his mouth, likely to tell me to knock it off.  My heart fell.  I was a few mere wall push-offs from the end of the hallway.  Then, Dan Murphy closed his mouth and, with a slight shake of his head, walked away.  It was almost as if I could see the wheels turning in his brain and the wheels stopped on, “Let these poor, frazzled college students have their small moment of joy.”

And that is the point of this all:  When you have the opportunity to let someone have a small moment of magic in their life, be Dan Murphy and let them have it!

P.S.  I made it all the way to the end of the Magic Linoleum Hallway in my Magic Rolley Chair and it was just as magical as I thought it would be.

So this is what college is like: Sophomore Year

This quote came to mean a lot to me this year:

“A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.” –Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person

 I came back to college after spending 18 months as a missionary in California and it took some adjusting from figuring out how I fit in (or didn’t) with the friends I had before I left, what kind of people I enjoyed being around and how to make new friends, how to take care of myself as an introvert and how I was going to treat myself and allow others to treat me, and recognizing that I had changed for the better and allowing myself to be okay with where that took me.
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Okay, so I got a little desperate.  It’s whatever.

I had to write ‘teeth’ on the palm of my hand to remind myself to brush my teeth the next time I went back to my apartment because I forgot to before I left the first time.  This happened several times

I joined an intramural futsal (indoor soccer on a basketball court) team and had a really great time!  It has been years since I have played soccer and I am not very athletic and not very good, but I think I had the most fun out of everyone on my team.  I also improved the most (which isn’t that hard to do when you suck, but I’m not even sad about it).

I started going to the gym.  Yep, you read that right.  I never would have guessed it either.  But I actually really love it.  I am on week 4 of my Couch to 5k podcast.  (Curse you, shin splints!)  My ultimate goal:  rock solid thighs, courtesy of those 2 minutes wall sits that I do four sets of every workout.  Common thoughts that I have at the gym:

  • I’m really feeling this in my calves.  They are gonna be ripped.
  • Wow.  Their bicep is bigger than my head.
  • Do you REALLY need to hold your boyfriend’s hand while talking to your friend on the other side of you WHILE WALKING IN A RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER AND TAKING UP TWO THIRDS OF THE TRACK?
  • My calves have gotta be looking good by now.
  • I really hope that person walking around in jeans is just here to check out what’s available.
  • Do my calves look toned yet?

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A thought I had every (both) time(s) I washed my sheets:  “If being an adult means making your bed again after washing your sheets, then I want no part of this.”

I am dual majoring in special education and elementary education.  I got accepted into both programs. (Despite the aforementioned and following forays into adulthood.  I don’t know what that means for your children.)

I got my first chance to work in a classroom as an educator.  I spent five weeks of spring semester in a fifth grade classroom, Tuesday through Thursday from 8 to 4, as an aide.  AND I LOVED IT! (Confirmation 1 that I am doing the right thing with my life)

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I got Valentine’s Day cards addressed to Miss R.  Things just got really real.

My favorite class this semester was ELED 3000, which is a foundations of education class.  In this class, we talked about a lot of social issues related to education in regards to race (did you know that race is the number one predictor of academic success?), white privilege (after reading  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and Breeze at My Back, my eyes were opened), gender stereotyping (and the whole slew of problems that comes along with that for both genders), the school to prison pipeline, homeless students in the education system (and how they can break the cycle of homelessness and be a role model for their siblings).  Wow.  Don’t even get me started.  I am all fired up and ready to fight for the underdog!

Concerts attended:  twenty one pilots, The National Parks x2, Bastille, Little Barefoot x4 (my favorite local band), Smallpools.  I will be seeing Death Cab for Cutie tomorrow and I get a little teary eyed just thinking about it (because a) I have always wanted to see DCFC so much that I was willing to sell my kidney to do it and b) because I won’t actually have to sell my kidney to do it.)

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This is a picture with Brady, the lead singer of the National Parks, and me and my friends. Immediately following this picture, I proposed to him. He said no, but there was a whole 5 seconds before he said no so he was obviously considering it. Next time!

The fan vent cover in the bathroom looked like it needed to go to the groomer to get its fur trimmed so my roomie and I bit the bullet and took it down to clean.  This resulted in utilizing the tub to clean and sanitize the vent cover so we could touch it as little as possible.  Afterwards, we needed to rinse out the tub.  When I turned the faucet on, I got more than I bargained for in the form of a direct hit to the head from the shower, courtesy of that little doohickey still being up.

I read 27 books for fun.  Click here and here to see what books I liked, what I didn’t and what I wouldn’t touch again with a ten foot pole.

I went on dates.  (Wow, that is still weird to say out loud…out written…?)  Like a guy asked me out and we went and ate food and played games or went ice skating.  And it happened more than once.  Ya, I’m shocked, too.  Most of these dates were blind dates set up by a friend (no Tinder!) and, with all this experience, I think I could write a pretty comprehensive guide to blind dating.  He’s Just Not That Into You definitely upped my dating game.

In my special ed adapted technology class, we watched this video (below) and it made me tear up.  (Confirmation 2 that I am doing the right thing with my life)

Me and one of my best friends got together almost every single week and ate tacos and watched Malcolm in the Middle.  After our year and a half hiatus, we have made it to Season 6 Episode 15 out of 7 seasons and have eaten through at least five times that many tacos.

This conversation between me and two of my roomies really happened:

[I walk into our living room.  Two of my roomies are sitting on the couch.]

My roomies:  We decided that, next year, we want to be the Dylans of our apartments.

Me:  What exactly does that mean…?

My roomies:  [after looking at each other] We don’t really know.  But it’s a good thing.

Me:  Thanks?*

*I’m just going to assume that they are talking about how I am so apologetically myself.  I still don’t know though…they could mean so many things…

My hair and I went through a lot of changes this past year from attempting to dye it purple black (and it turning out black) to deciding to cut 10 inches off on the fly (after growing it out for over four years) to tinting it purple (and having much more success this time).

Before and After Hair 2016

So they have poetry slams in Utah.  Betcha didn’t know that!  Do you ever have that feeling where you feel connected to everything, like the ground, you and the sky are all one?  That is what I feel like when I go to poetry slams.  CONNECTED.  Definitely has been my favorite thing to do this year.  (I even slammed at one!)  Slam poet, Neil Hilborn, came and performed as part of the University’s mental health awareness week and it was out of this world.

Hockey is life aka my other favorite thing to do this year.  My favorite moment was when I got really caught up in the game and yelled “Get it together, Fisher!” and my friends had to hold me back the rest of the game so I wouldn’t go fight someone on the ice and also so I wouldn’t accidentally launch myself down the bleachers.

Best Conversation Overheard:  At a hockey game

Girl:  Ya, Karly [because I can’t actually what name they said] was dating my brother and came to Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

Guy:  What?!! Karly ate dinner with your family?  She is the richest girl in Burley, Idaho!  Her dad invented a brand of fertilizer.

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At said hockey game.

My sophomore year has been spent living in the paradox that out of the three roomies who I share a bathroom with (FOUR GIRLS TOTAL), the roomie that is here 10% of the time makes 95% of the mess…(i.e. foundation on the walls and cupboards and inside my drawer…hair EVERYWHERE…toothpaste on the other side of the bathroom not even near the sink…MY conditioner on the wall…)

I no longer am taking any math classes, but I still carry around my calculator in my backpack because a) what if I need it for something and b) I don’t feel like a student if I don’t have a calculator with me while on campus/going to class.

I am studying abroad in Germany this summer!

I am tight with the workers at the dining halls on campus.  Pasta guy knows me as gluten free girl.  Main line guy sees me coming on tater tot day and asks, “Tater tots?” and I say, “So many.”

And the cherry on top was this moment at Walmart with my mom and dad:

[we run into someone that my mom and dad grew up with and they start chatting]
Lady:  So how many kids do you have?
Mom:  We have a sixteen year old *pause*
Lady:  *in pause* is this your sixteen year old?
Mom:  No, this is our twenty one year old return missionary.
Me:  Sweet.  I will be forever doomed to teenagerdom.

Click here to read all of the posts from my college years!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would have everyone put their grocery carts away in the cart return.  This change would require an extra one minute of everyone’s time and save the cart-gatherers countless minutes.

I try to live by the motto that if I can do something to make someone’s life a little easier, I should do it.  If someone teaching a class asks a question, I try to answer it if no one else does because it is hard to teach and uncomfortable when no one answers.  If I get crumbs from my meal on the table, I scoop them onto my plate before it gets cleared because wiping a table off and trying not to get crumbs all over the floor for the next people is a really real struggle.  If chairs or tables need to be moved or put away at an event, I stack my own chair because I have put chairs away until midnight.  If I order something, I chat with whoever is waiting for it to finish cooking because it is boring doing the same thing over and over for an entire shift.  I say thank you wherever I go to whoever is there, whether they helped me or not, because it is nice to be told thank you.  Those moments, which maybe total five minutes,  are treasured in the hopes of connecting, of making someone’s day a little easier, of letting people know that they are appreciated and cared for.

Cart-gatherers work in snow and rain and heat and night more than mail people do; if I can make their lives easier by returning my cart (and any others along the way), then I’m gonna do it.  And the world would be a better place if everyone else did that, too.

“What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

-George Eliot

This one goes out to you and all of your [tots].

I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes, when I am walking around campus, it just hits me:  I just am so glad that I have tater tots in my life.  Really, it’s just potatoes in general.

If you have a potato, you don’t just have a potato–you have potential.  If you have a potato, you have the potential to have baked potatoes, twice baked potatoes, french fries, potato wedges, tater tots, hash browns, funeral potatoes, au gratin potatoes, potato pancakes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato chips, cheesy potato soup, scalloped potatoes, potato skins, potato salad.  The possibilities are endless.

I don’t know if you realize this, but not everyone has access to these options.  I fondly remember the first time a friend from Canada and a friend from Britain tried tater tots for the first time.  I mean, I don’t know how impressed they were; I mostly remember just feeling bad for them when I found out they didn’t know what tater tots are and the joy I felt in sharing them.  It just makes you grateful, ya know?

I’m glad we had this talk.

Seven Momentous Somethings

This past week has been filled with some big moments and I want to share them with you.

Something Momentous:  After growing out my hair since 2012, I cut 10 inches off of my hair.  My mom said, “Do you want to go get a trim?” and I said, “Sure.  I’ll get 10 inches trimmed off.”  and that’s the story of why my head now feels like it is going to float away.  It’s amazing how much hair weighs.

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Something Momentous:  I got an email about an open position on an art study abroad and Germany and, in the spirit of embodying the spirit of “choosing the adventurous,” I decided to take it.  I am going to Germany this summer!  Every once in a while, I get this feeling where if I don’t do that thing now, I will never do it.  This was one of those things that I had that feeling about.  (Whether it is because of personal hesitancy or the uncomfortable-ness of going outside my comfort zone or I just won’t have that opportunity again, I don’t know.)

Something Momentous:  My sister used to work at a wing restaurant.  We were frequent diners and grew to love their wing sauce like it was the fourth child in our family.  When the day came for my sister to move on to a better job, she brought us a baby sized gallon of wing sauce to soften the blow.  After four years, our family finally has a gallon of wing sauce running through our veins.

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THAT IS ONE GALLON OF WING SAUCE PEOPLE.

Something Momentous:  I figured out that I can fit both of my legs into one pant leg of my cat pajamas so I spent the weekend wattling around my house like a mermaid with a tail.

Something Momentous:  I have reached another adulthood milestone–I got a letter inquiring about my availability for the upcoming term for JURY DUTY.  /I’m an adult now!/

Something Momentous:  I watched the Real Salt Lake game and was presently surprised to find out that we made (the best) decision ever to make Juan Martinez a part of our team.  His nickname is Burrito and that is what is on the back of his jersey.  Every time he got the ball, I had the opportunity to sing my favorite song:

(I literally sing this song at least once a day.)

Something Momentous:  And last, but definitely not least, I heard the whole song that goes along with the chorus, “You’ve gotta fight…for your right…to parrrrrrty!”  I never realized I hadn’t heard the whole song until I was listening to it.  Shout out to the Beastie Boys (who I also didn’t know sang (rapped?) that song).