A few thoughts on #Stopyulin15. Where do I start? If you haven’t heard of Yulin, do some research on it OR just type in anything about “Stop Yulin” and you will find quite a bit of information. About a week about #Stopyulin15 started going through my Instagram and Facebook feeds.

Naturally, being an animal lover I was appalled by what was happening in China, and I proceeded to look at the hashtag and lots of pictures came up that said something like, “I see humans but nothing humane” and several, “save the dogs” videos. I have a problem with this. I’m not justifying what is going on, BUT I find it hard to accept how the public is responding to this. IF the public was as concerned about animals and dogs as they appear to be, they wouldn’t support dog stores who sell animals from animal mills. They would become vegan because cows and chickens shouldn’t have to live in the conditions that they are forced to be in in traditional farming. And they would go out and do something about innocent animals being tortured everyday in America, not just in other countries.

There is an emotional connection to cats and dogs because they are what are considered “house animals.” They sleep in our beds, have a designated spot for eating, and sometimes are included in family pictures. But what about pigs? IS pig abuse as concerning as canine? Does it not matter because “bacon is delicious.” (I’m not sure if I’ve knowlingly have eaten bacon before but that is what I am constantly told when I tell someone that I don’t eat pork for religous reasons). In America, what is happening in China would not be nearly as big as a deal IF we openly ate dogs and cats in America. We would see this extremly different if it was happening to an animal that is often eaten in America.

Depression and Bullying — Two Hush Hush Words That Should Be Talked About More Often

Throughout the past few years G-d has given me a heart for those who deal with depression. Not exactly sadness, but depression. There is a common disbelief in society about what depression is and is often mistaken with sadness. My freshman year I was bullied and had a hard time with the school doing anything about it. Mid-September of my freshman year the bullying started and reached it peak of hardness in November when a “friend” out of the blue turned her back on me and my friends.

Bullying is dear to me because out of personal experience, getting someone to do something about it is extremely hard to do especially in the hierarchy and management of the school. Unfortunately, often times being the victim of bullying can lead to severe depression. My freshmen year was hard, but somehow, with TONS of support from my mom, I made it through. My sophomore year quickly arrived and I was drowning academically, failing almost every test, spending hours studying but not having grades that showed it, and ready to be done. One text message that I received completely changed my focus; what was “important” to me wasn’t anymore. A friend who attends a separate school had been bullied for several years, and was in the hospital for a suicide attempt. Fortunately, this attempt did not work, but it was a huge eye opener for those around me.

If depression isn’t talked about it leaves those who have it in the dark (metaphorically of course). Being a friend to those who ARE being bullied, the ones who DO starve themselves, who HAVE suicidal thoughts, who DO go to counseling, that ARE depressed without a reason to be, has taught me something. No one cares about bullying and depression until you are dead. There is a country song that sums it up perfectly, even though it isn’t directly about suicide but about death, “A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar, they’re worth so much more after I’m a goner and maybe you’ll hear the words I’ve been singing. Funny when you’re dead, people start listening.”

Watching my friend go through this, I have since tried to find those who are around me that have depression and befriend them. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 1-800-273-8255. If you, or someone you know, is considering suicide, encourage them to call the Prevention Lifeline and/or 911.

S*pud* Society

Small children have something special about them that they use to teach, “big kids” about society. I was working in a nursery this week with 1-2 year olds and they wanted to play with the classic toy, Mr. Potato head. When I was playing with the children I noticed something distinctive about the way that they were playing, THEIR Mr. Potato heads did  not have perfect features. The toys would consist of something along the lines of having two eyes, one where the eyes typically go and one where the nose should go, one long arm and one short arm, and the hat and shoes did not match. With these toddlers they were not trying to make the perfect body to fit societies view of beauty.

If this toy was given to an age a little bit older they most likely would have tried to achieve the “perfect Mr. Potato head” that he is typically advertised as. At what age does society try to make the perfect ideals achievable? These young kids don’t care if whoever is watching them isn’t “beautiful, thin, or cool” by societies standards. If these kids don’t care, why does it all change at a certain point in life? Socially, the world would be in a different place if we stopped believing stereotypes about “ugly people” and started seeing them for who they are inwardly, not outwardly.

Girls Will Be Girls

A couple of months ago, I watched a movie that was made by Girls Club Entertainment. I was awakened to see how much disrespect women get as a whole because the “men” are trained to disrespect them. I cannot stand the phrase, “Oh, boys will be boys” because that gives the idea that boys can do what they want and it’s okay. My dance teacher, when I was in elementary school up through middle school, taught me and continues to teach me, “If he’s not treating you right…get rid of him.” When did it become okay for a boy to treat a lady with complete disrespect?

This past awhile ago I was in a situation  where I was vulnerable. I was talking to a boy that I had met several months earlier. The entire time that I knew him, he was asking me out and I was not interested in him because I knew that he wouldn’t treat me the way a gentleman should. I wasn’t interested in a BF but I wanted a friend. One day, this boy asked me out AGAIN. I told him what I always told him – no. *This conversation is over text.* This time he became very angry with me. He told me that I, “ripped out his heart, stomped on it, and let it rot…” and started verbally harassing me. I told him, “Whoa! You need to learn how to talk to a lady!” A few minuets after this he told me that he doesn’t need to treat a lady with respect because a lady doesn’t deserve respect…umm, a lady does!! In his opinion a woman is over the age of 30, but any female under that age didn’t “deserve” any respect. Everything that my dance teacher taught me was going through my head and I expressed that to him. His last words to me was, “Just leave me the F*** alone.” I gracefully responded with the word “Ditto.”

What’s wrong with this picture is that if boys don’t learn from a young age to treat every lady he meets like a princess and respect they won’t learn how to treat anyone he proceeds to date when he becomes a little older. A few weeks after my “friend” and I had this conversation he fb messaged me asking if I was ready to apologize to him. Excuse me?? To him I was the one in the wrong because I, “Ripped out his heart, stomped on it, and let it rot.” I told him again that I didn’t want to date him. Then he gave me a spiel about how he’s “changed” and gave me a humorous unbelievable story about how he apparently had a girlfriend after we had our fight who hit him every time he was disrespectful and she almost dumped him because he didn’t open the door one time for her. Needless to say, I didn’t believe it but thought he just had a interesting story and he hasn’t tried to communicate with me since.

Of course, I cannot cover a general disrespect for women without briefly touching on sexual assault. Women are taught to watch their drinks when they are out, carry pepper spray with them, and not show too much cleavage because that may “increase their chances of being sexually assaulted.” We are told to take precautions to be “safe when going out” but when are men taught that they are responsible for their actions? When will the phrase be no longer “boys will be boys” but rather, ” boys are responsible for their actions, it doesn’t matter what she is wearing.” Women are taught what to do to avoid sexual violence, men are not taught to prevent it in the first place.

Lastly, I’ll write about young men in a better light. One of my guy friends was taught from an early age that “women are precious jewels” and there is a noticeable difference of how he treats women of any age with dignity and respect. When this young man reached out to me, I pushed him away some because I felt incredibly awkward with the way he was treating me because that was not something I had really experienced at that point in my life. I asked him why he was nice to me, and didn’t do anything to disrespect me and he response was simple, he said, “Jesus wouldn’t do that.” Wow! This was coming from a young boy! Yeah, he probably had “raging hormones” and most of his peers weren’t doing that. He treats every women at any age with respect and that is something that is not particularly common in this culture of ladies being portrayed in media and movies of being the “hot side kick.” You are probably thinking, “Well, he was only 13 when he said that, he probably has changed his way of thinking since then.” Nope. He still thinks and acts against the culture. If parent taught their boys how to respect a women from an early age with the parents modeling this the world would be immensely different for the better…especially for women.

My Value Is NOT Based On My GPA

My value in life is not what my GPA is. That’s right I said it. My parents know that school is difficult to me, therefore, when they were homeschooling me they taught me based on experiences. To this day, I love to learn but I despise school. Make sense? I love learning new things through personal experiences but the traditional school setting does not typically allow for this.

When my parents placed me into a traditional school one of the first things that I noticed was that when a teacher handed a test back my fellow junior high classmates felt a need to announce that they earned their “rightful A on the easy test.” To the smartest kids in my class anyone who did not get an A or understood the “easy material”  is “sooooo stupid.” That year, I spent many nights in tears because I believed what “the smart kids” said about the “dumb kids” like me. My parents reminded me repeatedly that to them grades didn’t matter as long as I tried. Even though I was reminded of this often, I still believed that my value was based on scores on a test that I most likely will never need to know for the rest of my life.

Soon enough my junior high experience was over. Three years after that it started to “click.” G-d gave me a new friendship. One day I approached this friend and she was in tears. Among several hard issues she was dealing with what was bothering her the most was that that week she had been bullied because she takes classes for “dumb kids” and she had been called stupid from several bullies.

If school was easy for me I would not be able to minister to others who have a difficult time in school as well. My value is not based on my GPA because if it did I would be less of a physical person when I am volunteering in the nursery at my synagogue, writing a note to friend who is down, and when I’m standing before G-d on judgment day. My value is in the L-rd. When Y-shua died, He did not make the ultimate sacrifice for “anyone with a GPA of 3.5 and higher and scored a 25 on the SAT.”  He died for everyone.

My junior high self believed that I would only be of any value to society if I was book smart, now I know that I can make an impact on society because through my struggles I am able to help others easier who also struggle academically.

10 Things to Embrace Being “the Weird Kid”

“Culture so different.

In this one I am looked down upon because mine is different.

I am the minority and you seem to believe that you are superior.”

A portion of a poem that I wrote a few months ago when I was feeling very alone. Let me introduce myself and give a little background to this poem. My parents raised me to follow what interests me, be creative, and be mindful of the affects of what you put in your body (whether it be in a form of a hamburger or a vaccination). My grandfather on my mom’s side was a certified organic farmer in the 1990’s (before eating organic was “cool”), and her mom never gave her children coloring books because she wanted her kids to learn how to be free and to be creative. On my father’s side of the family…two words — brainiacs and artists. Naturally, my parents have always exposed me to fine arts. Personally, I don’t know what life is if it’s not centered around the arts. I’ve grown up in a Messianic synogogue where early on I made friends who were also exposed to fine arts because their parents encouraged it, too.

Flash forward to my 8th grade year. My parents decided it was time to put me in a traditional school setting. They chose a school that is located in a extremely small town, in the country, with conservative values (something I wasn’t particularly use to), most students who attend are either Baptist or Mennonite, farm community, and not real sure of Messianics. For the first time in my life, I was in a world that was the complete opposite of what I was raised in, and what my values are. I was placed in a building far from home (physically and metaphorically) where suddenly Jackson Pollack isn’t considered an artist because he produced abstract art, living in town is a bad thing, and my value is apparently based on my GPA and if I made varsity. I struggle living in this culture that I was placed in. I’ve had to buy stress balls to squeeze when the science teacher goes on a rant about how eating organic, and free from gmo’s/antibiotics is just a marketing campaign, or when the Bible teacher starts teaching about Jewish culture; consequently I have broken several stress balls. LOL.

A few things that G-d has taught me in this odd world that He placed me in are the following…

1) No culture or way of life is “better” than the other; it’s all a matter of preference.

2) People are people no matter how “different” they are.

3) Keep an open mind about other ways of life, but that only works if both sides are willing to be open-minded.

4) G-d has set us all on a different path; everyone has a different journey that they are on. This means that some are called to be farmers, scientist, or even barista’s!

5) Keep in mind what that James guy said, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19 NIV).

6) Don’t be afraid to be the complete opposite of what your culture is telling you to be, and know who you are in the L-rd.

7) Pray for the people who are stubborn about believing that your culture is “Wrong.”

8) If they are willing, open your world to the ones who want to see it. One thing that my mom does is she brings in Jewish treats to the teachers lounge whenever there is a Jewish holiday (Hamantashen for Purim, matzah crunch for Passover, donuts for Hanukkah, etc.).

9) Have fun with being the odd ball! Sometimes I talk in complete sentences in Hebrew; I get some funny looks but what’s new? Every paper I turn in has something to do with Jewish culture (well almost, I have trouble doing that when it comes to writing lab reports), and most emails that I have to send to teachers have at least a shalom at the end.

and last…

10) Be a friend to all. You never know who is in need of a friend until you are one.

He Always Has A Purpose…Alopecia

When I was ten years old I watched my mother’s life “change for the rest of her life,” but today I realize what the doctor and her friends told her about her life changing for the worst was the exact opposite.

For my tenth birthday my parents gave me the present that I had been asking for FOREVER! That present was…a dog! My parents told me that 1) It had to come from a pound or a breeder (my family DOES NOT support puppy mills), 2) I had to take responsibility to the new family member and 3) I had to train him and show him in 4-H.

On my birthday my parents took me to a couple of the surrounding animal shelters around town. I didn’t know what kind of dog I was looking for but I knew that I would know him when I saw him. Hours of looking at different canines — old, young, big and small — I found my dog! To my parents the dog that I wanted had the most funky style of black fur, kinda ugly, and thin. What I saw? An angel who was meant to be my dog!

 Moe cropped

My family had troubles with my new pet, Moe, but over time we figured out how to take care of my new family member.A few weeks after I adopted Moe my mother started having health troubles. Suddenly, her beautiful, thick hair started to vanish and her hair started to thin rapidly. A friend of hers pointed out that she had a bald spot and at that point she decided to visit her family doctor. The family doctor was pretty sure he knew what it was, but he referred her to a dermatologist to try to be absolutely certain. At the appointment the dermatologist pulled out a sample of her hair and said, “I’m sorry but you have alopecia. You will go bald and be bald for the rest of your life.” Alopecia is an auto immune disease that affects mostly toddlers and teenagers and often times runs in their family. Though in other cases, older generations can be diagnosed with it. It does not affect the recipient in any other way other than obsessive hair loss and then complete baldness and in most cases it will never come back and if it does, it most likely will come back in a couple of months. It was devastating to my mother! WOMEN FIND THEIR IDENTITY IN THEIR BEAUTY.Since her diagnoses I’ve watched her be essentially bullied from family, certain “friends”, and random strangers because she wears a wig or when she doesn’t wear a wig she has awkward bald spots.Watching my mom be “sick” I have quickly realized how much women judge strictly on appearance. My mom has not had an easy path by any means when G-d allowed her to become “sick.”

Almost one year after she was diagnosed G-d did something to encourage my family but especially my mom. I found out that my dog with “crazy hair” had Chinese crested in him. The Chinese crested dog is bouncy, sometimes stubborn, and primarily bald just the way my mom is. In December 2008 G-d answered the many prayers that many had been praying for. I was rubbing her head and…she had hair for the first time in a long time! Fortunately, she had a full head of hair again in a short matter of time. Unfortunately, the alopecia returned again and she is now fighting again. My mom has not let this stop her, though. She continues to fight and prove to society that beauty is not only on the outside, and inspires me to make the world a better place, just as she often teaches me to.