A Small Glimpse into My Passion

I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, thanks to my horrible insane schedule with school and work, work, work, but here we go.  The following is a brief response assignment given by my Health Communication professor and mentor.  Throughout the semester, we have been journaling daily about our experiences with listening, reflexivity, and other concepts.  From here, we write bi-weekly responses about our experiences.  Below is my second response articulating my thoughts on “listening”:

Throughout the second phase of the listening reflections, I tried to focus my utilization of active listening along with concepts discussed in class.  Although I have been attempting to do this for the duration of the process, I made it a point to go back to the texts and reapply these skills and concepts more proactively.  In doing this, I was able to gain a better sense of the power and depth that these intersections have.

Because I am facing giant cross-roads in my personal life, with the transition of graduation and adult life looming around the corner, I have been speaking with many people about my journey.  Not only have I been receiving excellent advice for this time of my life, I have also been told personal stories and experiences from these people.  Whether they were friends, family, professors, or colleagues, every individual has told something worth sharing.  Therefore, it has been my mission to soak up as much as I possibly could.

Looking back at what I have written about these experiences, I am pleased to see that I have made quite a few succinct connections, which have strengthened my previous understandings.  For example, the ideals and depth surrounding identity has been further engrained in my mind and way of thinking.  I have been conscious of identities and how they come into play between individuals, but they are also prevalent through listening.  I began to notice a bit of a trend surrounding the ways in which I listen to people; their identity and it’s correlation to my own, may impact the way in which I listen to them.  It’s not necessarily a popularity contest or anything of the sort, but the more I respect an individual, the more actively I engage.  Of course, there have been exceptions along the way, but overall, this pattern occurs consistently.

As I gained knowledge from the stories of others, I found myself engaging in what seemed to be mini-interviews at times.  The further into the story they went, the more questions and reflexive introspection I was having.  Therefore, the story would transform into a dialogue, with reflexivity exhibited on both ends.  This point in my life is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, so it’s been an adventure hearing about the journey of others, as they enjoy learning about mine.

In addition to identity, I have gained more awareness to perception and how that shapes the overall health narrative of an individual.  In my own experience, I have encountered a handful of health related visits over the past couple of months, which is more than I have had in quite some time.  Other than dental cleanings and annual womanhood check ups, I only see a doctor under extreme circumstances.  Therefore, it’s been really fun getting to experience these recent interactions with all of these concepts revolving around my mind.

It all began with my Mom.  She has a similar mindset as myself when it comes to doctor visits; we are both able to tough it out most of the time, and don’t bother unless something is legitimately wrong.  So, in my conversations with her about my concerns of discomfort, I paid close attention to her reception and willingness to listen to my feelings.  Of course, she’s my Mom, so she showed immediate concern when I brought up the issue.  From this point, she asked me an array of questions about the feelings I was experiences, and made me think of things that I hadn’t even thought of myself.  Being two hours away from her and from my doctors, the process of getting an appointment had to be executed very concisely and my Mom handled that better than anyone else could.  Through a string of short updates, she would relay appointment dates and times to me, after closely considering the best professional for me to see in the first place.  Time was a huge factor, between my busy schedule and my ability to drive back home, but Spring break came at a perfect time.  I have written about some of my experiences in the doctor’s office previously, but I never even thought to think about the communication that took place in order to get me there.  The saga isn’t quite over yet, but the solution is sight and the entire journey was executed very well.  A+ Mom!

My own health narrative has expanded quite a bit in the past few weeks, but I was thankful to have my Mom in the room with me a couple of times while I was being questioned about my family history.  That narrative is one that I am not all too familiar with.  I am well aware of the family health issues surrounding people in my lifetime, but before my existence, I am not 100% sure of everyone’s story.  I see how intricately woven all of this information is and how it can impact my own situation.  So while I sat there staring at the ceiling looking for answers, my Mom was able to fill in the blanks, therefore informing the professional and myself simultaneously.

Communication, dialogue, narratives, listening, and identity are just a handful of critical factors in the equation of effective progress.  Without harnessing these skills and applying them on a regular basis, I don’t understand how people can cohesively survive.  The concepts discussed in class are more than just concepts.  They are crucial skills that must be understood and executed as efficiently as possible.  I guess that’s just going to be motivation for my future career goals.  No wonder I love Health Comm so much.

 

This Makes So Much Sense

Between the piles of homework and household chores I’ve surrounded myself in today, I came across an article on Huffpost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/anti-aging-secrets-look-younger-deepak-chopra_n_2861062.html

I was compelled to read this article, as it is from the perspective of a spiritual leader.  Deepak Chopra brings a lot of valid and captivating  points to the forefront of health, though I believe that this information can reach people of any age.  The primary basis of this article revolves around the anti-aging process and looking younger.  Being 22 years old, I’m not really concerned with regenerating my youth.  HOWEVER, I feel that the information he shares is important to being healthy in general.

I am currently working internally to better equip myself with reflexivity, while finding ways to deter stress and other negative things from my daily routine.  I may be 22, but I want my body to feel the same way.  College, jobs, graduation, life – everything combines into a little ball of fury if you let it get away from you.  These days, I’ve started to get myself in a better routine of activity and experimenting with food, etc.  I feel pretty darn good.  I’m not going to lie.  I know there is still room for improvement, while I get myself into the shape that I want.

That being said, I take the information from this article/video and apply it to what I’ve always known.  Most of this information seems like common knowledge to me, but it has been great having it presented back once again:

“’More than perception, but… yes,” he says. “There are 10 really very specific things that you can do to change your biological age. Your biological age means your blood pressure, your bone density, skin thickness, number of wrinkles, hearing, immune function…’”

My biological age is 22 and I want to continue to use my perceptions and reflection to keep myself in proper check with my internal and external environments.  The human mind is an amazing thing; it can control much more than we are aware.

For me, a happy soul and a happy heart can move mountains.  This combination is highly effective and potent.  It can keep anyone young and strong, no matter what age they are.  Age is only a matter of time.  It can only be measured through wisdom, not wrinkles.

 

 

Ponder, Ponder

Health care covers such a wide range in individuals, groups, ideas, and theories.  There is the mechanical side, the communicative side, the emotional side, and so many others.  Personally, I am interested in the realm of Health Communication – it’s intersections with gender and class in particular.  In order to go further in-depth, I am going to be interviewing a professional in the field and discussing their personal stance on interpersonal communication.  I firmly believe that the interpersonal communicative skills of all parties involved can make or break the experience.

This interview is part of an assignment for a class that I am currently taking, but I have hopes to branch off of this project and continue in the future.

That in mind, I am creating potential questions in which to structure the interview.  It is imperative that I structure these questions as precisely as possible, as language itself is so powerful.   I do have a few strong questions prepared, but was wondering if anyone had any suggestions to offer.  I am not 100% sure who I will be interviewing yet, or what exact profession they are a part of.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from anyone who has any words of wisdom to offer.

Thank you!

Rhye ~ Pushing Barriers and Leaving an Impact

Being a music nerd, it takes a lot for an artist or group to catch me off guard and impress me these days.  After surfing around NPR’s music site last night, I went to bed happy.  I discovered someone that amazed me.  I discovered Rhye.

Upon initial listen, I got lost in the intricate layering of the instrumentation and the vocals.  The vocals intrigued me most of all.  The mellow, even-toned vocalist dances through each song, leaving a relaxed vibe in the air.  Once I was about halfway through the song, I started to think: “Is this a man or a woman?” From here, the research began.

Rhye is an all male pop/easy listening duo that is playfully nudging the intersectionality of gender and sexual identity.

The melodies are smooth, the harmony is warming and the gender distinction is 100% irrelevant.  Perhaps that is the point of the group; perhaps they are purposefully challenging cultural norms and gendered boxes.  I don’t know for sure as of yet, but I am completely intrigued and lost in them.

It is unbelievably refreshing to find such a provocative sound and group, that both compel my ears, my mind, and my soul.  I haven’t listened all the way through an album, but I am working on doing so as I wrote this post.

Currently, I have their 2013 album “Woman” pulled up and am enjoying every measure.  This is their first official, full length release, from the Polydor (U.K.) label.  The duo consists of Denmark native, Robin Braun and Canadian, Mike Milosh.  Together, their individual strengths and skills combine to create something amazing.

The vocals are gender neutral and the lyrics (to this point) have been completely neutral of sexual identity.  This is so important in today’s social and cultural realms, both artistically and conventionally.  With so much media and exposure, there tends to be a strong urge and need to convey one type of being and livelihood – generally heteronormative.  Even when other lifestyles come into focus, the hyper-sexualization and superficial values are clear.  On the contrary, Rhye’s music calls out to everyone – to love, to companionship, to music, to soul.

All I know at this point, is that I’m nerding out and will be listening on and on.

True TV Titans

The weather outside is still frightful, but I’m on my Spring break!  After months of stress, school, jobs, and everything in between, I am more than happy to be celebrating my Spring break in February.  Needless to say, rather than soaking up the sun, I’m enjoying the excuse to stay inside and watch the magical moving picture box for once.

Although I would prefer to just turn off my brain and watch the pixels flash by, I get so annoyed by 95% of what I see on TV today.  I don’t care about the Kardashians, anyone from any shore, flat lining sitcoms, sexist dramas, or horrible commercials.  What I do care about, are the few shows, characters, and actors that have made an impact on my life.  I only wish they had a larger voice today.

1. Lucille Ball 

I Love Lucy is hands down, my favorite show of all time.  I have a vast collection of dolls, books, posters, etc…and have been watching this show since I can remember.  The show is eternally entertaining and more importantly, Lucille Ball is a titan of industry that can never be forgotten.

Lucy starred in her own role for six groundbreaking seasons, alongside an outstanding cast.  During the course of this show, she juggled the advent of having two children with her on/off air husband Desi Arnaz, having marital problems and a divorce with said husband, and living her celebrity life in general, all while serving as President of her own production company.  “Desilu Productions” has been responsible for I Love Lucy as well as other shows, such as Star Trek and The Untouchables.  Needless to say, Lucille Ball was a powerhouse of unstoppable proportions.

2. Elaine Benes ~ Seinfeld

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQeIN2TIvavh9cn5AVTq_IdviOWrcFIb3ZX2LN41U9GGU6Wg6AkTA

Played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the character of Elaine Benes makes Seinfeld an instant classic for me.  The 90’s sitcom is hilarious in general, but Elaine seals the deal in every episode.  Not only is she an avid feminist, she stands her ground and proclaims her view points whenever possible.  She holds intricate positions in various publication related jobs, and doesn’t rely on men to make her happy.  Sure, many of her funny moments revolve around David Putty or other men that she dates, but that has no hindrance on the power of her character’s individuality.

3. Leslie Knope ~ Parks and Recreation 

Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler?  Honestly now.  Where do I even start?

Everything about Leslie Knope is perfect.  That’s all I can even say.  Just watch the show.

4. Mindy Kaling

Her role as Kelly Kapoor in The Office will always leave a stitch in my side from laughter.  I am also happy to say that her new show The Mindy Project is another hit in the right direction.  Even though her character’s lean toward a more flighty type of romantic personality, edging on obsessive at times, Mindy Kaling is an outstanding comedian in today’s society.  Her characters all find their strength, have their voice, and love everything about who they are.

To me, it is refreshing to see a beautiful, full figured woman such as Mindy Kaling on TV.

 

My list could go on and on, but for now, I will leave you with these four.  Even though I barely broke the surface on these four wonderful women, hopefully they will get just a bit more recognition and appreciation that they deserve.

The Walking Dead Feminists

First things first:  I’ve only recently started watching “The Walking Dead,” so these are simply my observations through mid-season 2.  Oh ya, SPOILER ALERT to anyone who has yet to watch this show.

Alright, so this show is sweeping the nation and taking top ratings.  Sure it’s very suspenseful, and yes I watched the whole first season in one sitting with a friend one rainy afternoon.  HOWEVER, though the show is entertaining, my feminist-self came screaming out at me.  As the episodes progressed, little things kept popping into my mind and the drive home was one big internal rant.

Here is the abridged back-story of our manly hero, Rick Grimes: He was a small town sheriff, father of one, and husband with minor marital issues.  While on duty alongside his buddy Shane, he gets shot and spends X amount of time in a coma.  Upon his revival in a hospital, he is alone and confused.  After he stumbles his way outside, the world is messed up and there are zombies.  He eventually finds civilization, or what’s left of it in his immediate area.  Yada yada yada, things happen, zombies die, people die, and the show continues onward.

At this point, I figure this post will be one in a mini-series, so I’ll just focus on a few issues today.

Issue 1: Why is the first zombie that Rick encounters a woman without any legs or any shirt?!

Once Rick gains his strength and runs out of the hospital to figure out what’s going on, he crosses through a park.  During his little journey, he stumbles across legless, shirtless, lassie, who is the zombie from most of the promos and stuff.

This poor thing has been dragging her guts around for who knows how long.  Though this is tragic in its own way, why couldn’t he stumble upon a man, fully clothed, or a woman with all of her pieces?  I just don’t understand why she is totally naked, dragging herself along the ground, all alone?!  Oh wait, probably because the rest of this show is based on a very patriarchal and rather misogynistic structure.  How silly of me.  More to come on Legless Lassie, I’m sure.

Issue 2: *Spoiler* The Wife is the Slut and is Wrong

Going back to our hero and his marital problems, he was having issues with his wife before the coma and zombie take-over.  Of course, once he is lost and in a coma, Lori (the wife), begins a relationship with Shane, the best bud.  Eventually, Rick finds Lori (yay) and suddenly, poor Shane is SOL.  Naturally, the writers and director handle this situation, by making Lori out to be the bad guy and the slut.  As the story line progresses, we see more backstory and see into the current relationship and the puzzle pieces that are at work.  Regardless of this story, all of the blame seems to be put on the wife and the way she is portrayed is obnoxious.  She just appears to be a weak and needy, flighty woman, that can’t handle much, but just needs sex.

Issue 3: There is a Humongous Lack of Feminine Strength 

No matter what the situation, the location, the people involved, or the stakes, the men are always the first to spring into violent action, while the poor damsels stand there and scream.  Ok, so Andrea is somewhat of a fighter and go-getter, but she is always cast down and hardly ever fights for her right.  Every time she stands up for herself and the other women around her, she gets harassed and then the hegemonic men spring back to action.  The men are cool, calm, and collected, while the women cry, scream, and run.  The men all appear as level-headed, while the women are emotional and overly dramatic.

These are just a few of the issues that I have with this show, at this point.  It is a good show, if you just need some mindless entertainment.  However, there are so many problems, that I have barely even scraped the surface.  The three issues that I’ve focused on are still very basic and have a lot more depth behind them.  Once I have the chance to revisit some episodes and learn names better, I shall return with the second installment.

Just for kicks:

Papers, Projects, Stress, and Little Revelations

The semester is finally coming to an end; I royally dislike semesters.  Because I began college on quarters, I greatly miss the speed and efficiency of the quarter system.  Due to the recent transition – naturally occurring during my senior year – no one has a clue what’s going on, or how to structure classes.  Therefore, I am certainly not sad to see this semester coming to it’s final resting place.  It can stay there.  Excuse the rant.

That being said, I am in the midst of finishing multiple projects and prepping for presentations on projects that are already finished.  Although I usually enjoy projects and making a culminating pieces in reflection of my classes, one in particular has me trapped.  Currently, I am in an upper level Communications course, taught by a favorite prof, entitled Race, Health, and Gender.  At this point in my college career, I can’t even recall all of the classes I have taken with her, that all share the same relative theme…surprise surprise.  I wouldn’t be writing this blog if the correlations between health and gender meant nothing to me.

Anyhoo, we have been working on a project that is based around a concept map of our own construction, as well as a working outline that incorporates multiple themes, ideas, theories, etc. that we have worked with this semester.  Normally, I love these types of creative projects, that have so much room for individuality and spirit…….but I keep getting stuck.  I’m certainly not lacking ideas or materials.  I’m finding it difficult to pick the most important implications of my piece.  My project speaks to the personal experiences and interpretations of things I’ve faced, growing up as a feminist.  My trouble lands in an internal battle that is difficult to sort through.  After a few re-writes and reconstructions, I can’t decide whether to focus more on my young life, before I truly had a language to back up my beliefs, or whether to focus more on my more adult life, when I learned the phrases and theories behind the thoughts I’ve always had.

So, I sit here now (not in my favorite coffee shop, because it is under new management and is super lame now, but across the street instead) attempting to rework my outline for the final time.  Naturally, my mind starts to expand and hone in on aspects of my project, that in turn, lead me to further project ideas.  Now, I am focusing on the power of language.  This theme is always present in most of my work, and it reigns true this time as well.  Language to me, is community.  I may have always been a radical little feminist from the moment I was born, but I didn’t understand the power behind the way I was, because I had never heard the term “feminism.”  Since that time, I have become scholarly and learned about the theory, power, and people behind the ways ingrained in my being.  Here-in lies the community that is surrounding my own personal identity.

This idea is present in so many arenas.  Being a communication major and an English minor, words and language mean everything to me.  Every word in every language and dialect across the world and throughout time, has meaning.  How we use these words can make or break ourselves and those around us.  They can create communities, tear families apart, buy you a cup of coffee, or bring peace.

Ever since the discovery of feminist language, I have been nothing but further empowered to continue to be myself.  Language is everything, and how we use this critical tool can impact generations to come.

Progress Isn’t Always Progress

Though Halloween is upon us (happy haunts everyone), the truly frightening thing is that Nov. 6th is just around the corner.  So many issues are flying around in the air, and our candidates have been nothing but disappointments to me.  Needless to say, the well-being and independent posterity of the female body is at risk…in 2012.  2012!  

Now, I’m not going to ramble on and on about the issues that the majority of the people I interact with already know, but I will put in my 2 cents.

My main point is to shed light on the fact that progress is not always progress.  Sure, over the past few decades, women have made advancements both in and out of the office, but it’s still not enough.  Sure, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but where are the results?  I’m impatiently waiting, and waiting, and waiting.  Women are still making roughly 3/4 the amount of their male counterparts; wasn’t that supposed to be equal?  I won’t even touch on the health and body issues on the table…this post will never end.

Likewise, it’s true that in the past four years, LGBT issues have been making ground at record speed, but things still haven’t changed.  Papers keep getting signed, but that isn’t enough.  The overall outlook of the nation on issues such as gay marriage seem to be a draw, but that doesn’t mean that advancements are being made.  

More issues keep popping into my head now, but I will simply leave you with this:  The next president of the USA will have power…this is true.  However, so many of the issues being held on a silver platter will be up to the Supreme Court to decide.  NOTE: In the next four years, THREE of our current justices will be turning 80.  The president does choose the replacements.  Keep that in mind.

Enjoy your holiday candy and happy voting!

From Voluptuous Vixen to Bag of Bones

In the midst of mid-terms and classes all day long, I took a mental break and found myself on sparksummit.com today.  What I discovered, completely shocked me.  

Here’s a little background first: I am a feminist all the way, but even I buckle under my childhood relationship with Disney.  I grew up watching the classic Disney movies and loving everything having to do with Disneyworld, etc.  Now that I am older, I can see all of the issues with these movies, but I’m woman enough to simply acknowledge these issues and still sing along like always.  Of course, I was raised in a home with a chef for a Dad and a top-tiered teacher for a Mom.  My environment warmed me up to gender equity, without even knowing it.  My young adulthood has popped my sparkly little bubble and shown me the patriarchal issues of this world.

That being said, I digress…

Today marks the day that Disney has truly gone too far.  Ty Slobe, of SPARKsummit wrote an eye-opening piece on some horrifying displays that are found in the windows of Barney’s.  

I agree 100% with what Slobe had to say on the subject, so I will just provide the link for you:

http://www.sparksummit.com/2012/10/10/disney-characters-are-losing-weight-at-rapid-speeds/

When did it become okay to morph and alter the body images of characters that have been around for decades?!  These movies, TV shows, and characters are geared for younger audiences, and leave a lasting impact on their development.  If I can relate to character that is a lion, naturally, others can relate to more personified characterization.  The statistics surrounding six year old children with body issues is already stunning enough.  Why would a corporation, built (on the exterior, mind you) on the hopes and dreams of the individual self, allow something this misogenistically audacious to occur?!

I know and love this full-figured and fun villain…….not this horrifying Barbie zombie.

…I’m not even going to comment on Minnie Mouse. 

 

       

Poor, poor Mickey

Health Equation

A few posts back, I had a brief little poll that inquired upon people’s thoughts on the meaning of health.  After receiving a handful of answers, all but one agreed that health was an all encompassing term that deals with both internal and external factors.  These physical, mental, and emotional factors all work together to create one cohesive state of health, though every individual has a differing equation.

In order to better understand what all creates our image of health, so many variables have to be examined. My own equation is very extensive, but I’ll do my best to examine as much of it as I can in time.  For now, I’ll just focus on five main points:

1. Physical State of Being

As I grow older, I’m really starting to notice slight differences in how my body reacts to and handles various things: I can no longer go nights without sleep and live to tell the tale; Coffee has become a staple, and not just a favored drink; Stress physically effects me; Working out feels awesome; Late night snacking turning into a cruel joke when I put pants on later, etc…

Although I may be average in size and stature, with some muscle, I am totally out of shape and I can’t stand it.  My days of having a super metabolism and twig-like figure are totally over.  Aside from all of that, I’m really starting to feel how crucial proper nutrition truly is.

2. Mental State

Like mentioned above, stress is starting to affect me for the first time.  I’ve always been busy and a great multi-tasker…but college is new ballgame.  Although I can still manage everything very well, I sincerely have to find ways to maintain the stress and not let myself get overwhelmed, even in my fourth year.  (My drumset being 2 hrs away doesn’t help much).

Though I may be struggling with stress here and there, I try to remain calm and keep my normal down-to-Earth vibe about me.  So many factors work their way into the equation of my mental state.  For now, I’ll just cap it there.

3. Gender

Where do I even begin?! This could and probably will be a post of its own here soon enough.  For the time being, I’ll just keep this one brief.

Gender seems to be everything in this day and age, politically, personally, and in other ways.  This election season (for example) seems to be a constant battle of health and gender, focusing on how and why these two terms go hand in hand.  One moment, we progress forward.  The next, we make a screeching halt and go flying back to the 40’s.  Womanhood is constantly on the line, and somehow religion, economics, and two-party systems find their way into the mix.  Why does the stuff between my legs determine my rights as a human in every aspect, especially something as sensitive as health care?!

4. Media

With all of the technology readily available today, messages are smashed in our face every single moment of the day.  The number of mediated messages that register in your brain each day would probably astound you if you sat down and thought about it.

The media has a huge hand in what is deemed as healthy, proper, right, wrong, and so much more.  This could be anything from skinny mini models in magazines, to the font used in advertisements.  Therefore, one is swayed in different directions without even realizing what’s going on.

5. Family

In the most basic of ways, family and upbringing has a lot to do with what I deem as health.  I was raised with a very health conscious, fit, happy go lucky family.  Because of this, I listen to Enya while I relax and write papers, I love hiking for fun, brain power is wealth, being personally fit is important (that doesn’t mean I have to be a stick), happiness is a virtue, food is vital, awareness is key, and so much more.

Health can mean any number of things to someone and I’m sure those closest to me have a different set of variables in their own equation, than I.  There is no right answer for what health is and isn’t.