Let’s Talk About Women…

So here is the deal.

Women make up 50.8% of the United States population.

100% of those women have (or have had) periods. (gasp! WHAT? Yes, it’s true.)

Unfortunately, not all of these women have access to tampons. Or pads. Or any type of feminine hygiene product of any kind.

In fact, thousands of women in the United States live on the street. These women have to make choices about food, water, and shelter each day… and at times they don’t even get to make the choice between pad or tampon. These women go without feminine hygiene products; or worse. Sometimes these women only have the option to choose one item each month; which causes toxic shock syndrome or even death.

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This is a serious problem in our country and in our area. There are a number of organizations rising up to help with this issue (listed below). But there are ways that you can be involved too.

If you live in North Louisiana, you can donate to a ministry called The Hub. This outreach in Shreveport, Louisiana donates items, classes, and time to those on the street and one thing desperately needed is feminine hygiene donations.

If you are in this area, please take the time to consider giving physical boxes of feminine hygiene products or monetary donations that go directly to this cause. If you have some boxes you would like to donate but don’t know where to go or cannot make the drive, I will be donating all the boxes I can on March 4th. You may contact me if you wish to drop off your donations. Please join me in serving the women in our area. By donating these items, pads and tampons are no longer a luxury, but a right to hygienic living and dignity for these women.

Much love. Much grace.

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Organizations Specific to Feminine Hygiene:

Distributing Dignity

Camions of Care

Feel free to fill out the contact form if you have questions about dropping off donations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, This Feminist Thing…

I’ve noticed that there has been a bit of tension online. I mean, obviously with campaigning for the Presidency, the election itself, and then the inauguration, there was bound to be tension.

However, the tension really seemed to erupt on my social media outlets the day of the Woman’s March. Many people were supportive, yet there were many who were bashing the women marching. I read posts people wrote about how marching was a waste of time because women have everything we could ever need or want here in the United States. I even saw a very popular post stating that feminism itself was a waste of time because women already have everything they need.

Feminism is a term that is considered negative and full of distain for men. Many men and women view Feminism as a “down with men” movement and a hatred towards the opposite gender. Feminism is mostly seen through the 1970s lens of bra-burning and man-hating.

This type of Feminism is NOT today’s Feminism.

Currently, the United States is going through what is called the “third wave” of Feminism. Wave #1 was when women were marching for the right to vote. Wave #2 was when women marched in the 1970s with a focus on careers. Wave #3 is the time we are in now.

Women are fighting for equality.

Not just equality of genders, but equality across racial lines. So that men and women of any skin color can make equal pay. So that men and women of all colors can feel safe in work environments. So that equal pay and safety are no longer privileges, but a societal right.

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Yes; I know many women in other parts of the world don’t have the rights we do here in the US. However, the USA is a developed country. We are supposed to be the “Leader of the Free World”, and yet women are not paid the same as their male counterparts.

How is this equality?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s not.

So sure, you don’t have to be a feminist; but to be a feminist is to want equality. Feminism is not a bad word, it is a hopeful one.

If you want equal pay, you are a Feminist.

If you want your daughter to have the same academic opportunities as your son, you are a Feminist.

If you want your daughter to not have to worry about sexual harassment at work, school, or on the street, you are a Feminist.

I believe all these things and want to see these things happen in my country. You know what? That makes me a Feminist… and that is not a gross thing to be.

So, let us come together in hope of a changing world; for our sons, daughters, and ourselves. Let us work towards a brighter future by embracing what Feminism actually is… not what we are scared it might be.

To those who actively marched: thank you. For change is not brought about by one person in an important chair, but by the groups of loud voices calling for change.

Much love. Much grace.

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4 Things Student Teaching Taught Me

In honor of graduating next Saturday (AH!) and having officially finished my Student Teaching portion of my Undergrad, I wanted to share some of the the many things I learned through this clinical experience.

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Here is what I learned while student teaching this year:

1.) Teaching is the MOST selfless thing on this planet.

Honestly. I had the opportunity to work with some stellar teachers, and they work so hard for their students. Not only are they taking care of the day-to-day lessons, but these teachers also go to pep rallies, sporting events, and choir events to support the students. Teaching takes so much planning and after “work hours”… way more than I ever imagined. There are teachers who work so hard, not just so the students know the material, but so that these students can be successful, contributing citizens in the future. Many people see teachers as just educating students in necessary material for college or career paths, but teachers are also filling roles of missing parents, mentors, or just someone to talk to. This is what makes a teacher so selfless; the compassion and unconditional love shown to the students… no matter what.

 

2.) When you have teachable moments, they are awesome.

Sometimes my lessons go exactly as I plan, but usually the lessons turn into a loose interpretation of how I intended them to be. This is mostly because the class I mostly taught was Psychology, so there is wiggle room for discussions and questions from the students. There are so many teachable moments the students brought up with questions about real-life situations that I never could have planned. These were my favorite moments in the classroom.

3.) You will love the kids, all of them.

Yes, even the ones who test you and test you. The ones who you have to repeatedly tell to get off Instagram or shush during a lecture. All of these students are something else, something special. After I finished my student teaching I seriously missed those kids (still do) I want to see each of them grow and succeed. I didn’t think it was possible to come into a class for just a few months and really feel such a compassion for these students, but I learned every student’s name and I genuinely cared about each one.

 

4.) The kids will change you more than you think.

For real. These kiddos changed me so much. This quarter of my undergrad was the most stressful yet, but the students were very understanding and so encouraging. I learned so much from them. I learned how to be compassionate and patient no matter what is happening in my life; because they need me. I learned that kids are always looking for mentors and need them dearly. They make me want to be a better person, and strive to always be compassionate to everyone I meet. They taught me so much… and they can teach us all some of these things.

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Obviously, these are only a few things I learned while Student Teaching… other things were far harder lessons than anticipated. There are some things I regret… like leaving in such a rush and not being able to have a proper good-bye with the kids, but the highlights definitely made this process worthwhile.

Also, shout-out to my mentor teacher; without him, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did!

 Much love. Much grace.

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If you are interested in giving to your local school system, here are some great organizations to help with various needs of the school-age students in your area.

Schoola

Teach for America

Stand for Children (Louisiana Based)


Be Encouraged.

When I started this blog, I intended to let it be an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I wanted to encourage people; to let them know that there are people who struggle with life and the crazy things that happen. To balance the negativity and bring forth light and joy.

My life has not always been happy, joyful, or loving. And at times it is very hard to be that way. It is a hard job being encouraging in a world full of discouraging and judgmental people.

To all my fellow encouragers out there:

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Seriously. You can. I know how it feels, you are constantly encouraging others to embrace who they are, be confident, and to feel loved; and sometimes you don’t have enough encouragement left over for yourself. You can feel left out or forgotten at times, and that is normal. Because, like I said… being encouraging is hard. It takes work, discipline, and optimism that most people don’t have in our culture or in our world today.

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Friends, when I was a teen, life as an encourager was really hard for me. I loved writing as a child and up until my Sophomore year, I believed I was good enough to use writing as a talent to help others. I would write notes and letters, both signed and anonymous, to random people who needed a little extra loving. I would give them to teachers, peers, family… anyone who I felt like needed a happy note.

Then my Sophomore year of high school I took an English/Literature class at a new school. My teacher told me repeatedly that I was a horrible writer, that I had neither skill nor talent, and how I could only coast through her class with a C at best.

Talk about rough.

There I was, new kid in school with no friends, family, or connections and I was being put down by someone I believed could be on my side. Like I said, rough.

For two years I struggled with writing papers in every class. I stopped writing letters and I would stress so much over papers that I would have stomach aches.

Then my freshman year of college, I began writing again. I started to journal every week. Slowly working up to multiple times a week, gaining confidence and just enjoying writing my thoughts on paper.

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Guys, that has morphed into what I am doing today. No, this blog is not famous. The average views my posts get is around 30-60 each week. I don’t even own my domain name. But I am able to sit down, type out about a page and a half, and then post for the entire world to read. I share my emotions, thoughts, and struggles through this blog, and these sometimes intimate details are here to stay on the internet… Forever.

I guess what I am saying is this: just because someone tells you that you don’t have skills, talent, or any way of succeeding does not mean that person is right. Even if that person is a mentor, leader, expert, or well-liked.

You do what you have to in order to do what you love. Take a chance and don’t worry about how others view your talents (or lack-thereof).

You’ve got this.
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Life In An Airstream

I was beyond excited when Alyssa agreed to write a blog post for the “Perspectives” series. We met a while back when we were both campers at a church camp, the summer after our Senior year of high school. Her life is full of such riches, and she has graciously shared some of them in this post. I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do. Enjoy!

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As I sit here trying to come up with a semi-accurate depiction of my true feelings towards my last year and a half living in a 1976 airstream, I am realizing that there is a reason why the backspace key is getting the most contact at the moment. There is no clear answer when someone walks up to you and says, “so how is it living in a camper?” Do I respond by baring my little hippie heart in how adventurous and wild and freeing it has been, or do I make a passive-aggressive comment to the fact that I broke my husband’s drawer yesterday simply by putting clothes away? Because, truthfully, both responses would be completely accurate. And it really depends less on how the camper is functioning at that particular moment and more on what kind of day I am having.

I would be lying if I told you that the new hasn’t worn off and we are just as enamored with this unconventional little life we have created for ourselves since the day we laid eyes on Juniper (our name for the airstream). But I would also be lying if I told you we had any regrets with our decision. As young, start-up artists, my husband and I made a vow to not be swayed by large salaries and material possessions, and instead do what it took to pursue our passions and invest in our marriage. For us, that meant simplifying as much as possible. It meant sacrificing certain luxuries like walk-in showers, big screen TVs, dish washers and full sized appliances (yes, I said luxuries).

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Some days, I sit on the steps of the airstream, overlooking endless fields kissing the horizon and don’t think it would be possible to be any more content with my life and the season I am in. Other days, I sit at the kitchen table, watching the a.c unit drip like clockwork, clanking off the corning ware placed strategically on the floor and dream of what it would be like to live in a house with privacy and a large kitchen and a claw tub. But then I am reminded of how much Juniper has taught me…has taught us…and I cannot help but be immensely grateful for this precious season of life that so few will ever experience. I’m learning how little material is really required to satisfy the human soul— that the fabrics of our safety blankets are not stitched by the threads of status and location but by laughter and tears and a love that sustains many years of hardship and drought.

If you look closely, beyond the broken parts and peeling wall paper, you will begin to see the things that have made this place a home. On the round kitchen table sits a mason jar with fresh flowers Matt picks out for me every time we go to Trader Joe’s. An old, heirloom quilt wraps the bed, replacing the winter comforter—the same bed Matt and I have had many ice cream and movie dates and breakfast dinners on. And above that bed sits a window that faces the sunset, so I never have to miss it.

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So, I’ll take the funny smells, tiny appliances, annoying drips, broken drawers, and all the quirks that come with living this life I live, because when weighed against the memories made in this place and the lessons learned, those little quirks don’t hold a candle.

I suppose this post isn’t really about living in an airstream. Rather, it’s about coming to the realization that when it comes down to it, and the measuring cup of materialism reads nearly empty, joy can still exist. Contentment, satisfaction and beauty can all be found in a mansion or even a 24 foot travel trailer. And perhaps this long, tireless search for adventure and wonder and future horizons is right here, right now in this very moment.

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“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”-Dale Carnegie

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Alyssa Bell is a wife, friend, and artist who lives her life in an Airstream trailer named Juniper. She is a wiz at photography and videography as seen on her blog . (Check it out!). Her and her husband Matt, along with their friend Jarod, are the creators of a documentary of their life on wheels called, The Unified Revival Tour. Alyssa is a true adventurer and lover of people in so many unimaginable ways!