Wednesday Word Day

Wednesday Word Day

Though the cold weather may be lingering, spring has sprung in my creative mind, and seeds are planted hourly, which sprout into hosts of daffodils, all culminating in an ever-growing garden of foolishly hungry, passionately wild, overbearingly daunting dreams. I wrote last week of how founding my own nonprofit organization thrilled me, that to be scared was out of the question. Well, I suppose that was before I recognized the reality of the dream before me.

For me, mantras such as this one that I’m focusing on tonight, or “if you’re dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” or especially, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” have somewhat of a special place in my heart that I believe deserve a (semi) short backstory.

Dreams, hopes, aspirations, plans, all of that has been instilled in me since I was young. To me, the future is a magical place where anything and anyone can happen. I can imagine it all. I can paint it like a picture. I can pretend it’s everything I want it to be. While I’ve always dreamt big, I’ve never dreamt really big. Like, “I can change the world,” big. Until now.

In sixth grade, I knew I wanted to become a writer. I had a passion for it, and I saw the world and all its humanity as a book waiting to be written. Luckily, I still do. But there was a second part to my “big plan,” one that I have recently tossed aside. For quite a while, nearly six years, I convinced myself that I was going to become a big shot book editor living it up in a big city. But when I imagined sitting down to be interviewed for college (yes, middle school me did this), the one question I simply could not answer eloquently, passionately, or most importantly, truthfully, was why. Why did I want to be a book editor? This question haunted me for years, and I never honestly answered it until I discarded the idea entirely, opting for a future I knew was right for me. Here it goes, the disgustingly dull and indifferent answer is that it just made sense. I was on the path of becoming yearbook editor at my high school, I loved to read, and dressing up as Sandra Bullock from The Proposal seemed like a real confidence booster. However, most fortunately, October 30th, 2012 rolled around, and my life changed forever.

This very spectacular day was, of course, the day I met Sseko Designs founder, Liz Forkin Bohannon, and immediately kindled a fiery passion and one-hundred-percent healthy obsession for empowerment, education, and equality (The Three E’s? Trademark?). As I discussed in my Fierce Female Friday post on Liz, she taught me more than just the importance of empowering others, but also the necessity of embracing the unknown. I’d always been rather indifferent to the idea of stepping outside my comfort zone. I pretty much took a survey of my nice little area, assumed it was large enough to accommodate me, and stayed put. But, oh friends, how wrong I was. The entire world is at our finger tips, if only we relinquish ourselves from the chains of fear.

So now let’s jump back to the present. Here I am, wandering around town, gazing out my window, bouncing from class to class. All the while, I’m conjuring up new plans for accomplishing one of the most impossible goals I’ve ever set for myself. Via You Me We Empower, I am going to raise $25,000 for Pencils of Promise–enough to build a school. But may I just say that the impossibility of the situation is the ultimate motivation. It may take me a while, but mark my words, I will help build a school.

The real paradoxical part of it all is that although it may seem impossible, I have never been so sure of a dream in my life–and believe me, I’ve had plenty. Maybe it’s because I’ve reached a new height of happiness. Maybe it’s because my passion for education and empowerment can light a fire underneath me that could rocket me to the moon. Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been watching too many videos of Adam Braun, and I have truly become an “impossibalist.” But then again, maybe it’s a combination of all three. I’m seeking out to change the world, to destroy every comfort zone in sight, to thrive on endless amounts of passion, and most importantly to believe in the utterly impossible.

Stop Proposition 8 Like We Stopped Proposition 6

Stop Proposition 8 Like We Stopped Proposition 6

As I climbed into my dad’s Subaru after school today, he pointed at the radio, telling me NPR was playing with clips from the Supreme Court case on Proposition 8.

Nearly a year ago now, I was watching Milk, the captivating movie about the openly gay California politician, Harvey Milk, and his efforts with the newly evolving movement on gay rights. Proposition 6 was his main cause. Prop 6, like Prop 8, was aimed at limiting the equality and acceptance given to gays in California. More specifically, “the Briggs Initiative” aimed at preventing gay people and supporters from working as teachers at public schools.

5d6e7d8320a4cd14b117b80fb023f680

If you read my blog post last night, then you know where I stand on gay rights. If you didn’t, a. please do so after you finish this post, and b. gay rights are human rights, and we all deserve human rights. The fact that over thirty years after Proposition 6 (and the assassination of Harvey Milk) we are still arguing over gay rights is a travesty. I can’t help but to think back to Wordsworth’s “The world is too much with us,” and his raw frustration with humanity. Looking at a nation which claims to be the “land of the free,” yet is hypocritical enough to dictate who we can and cannot marry, does indeed conjure up the declaration that “we are out of tune.” However, I cannot allow myself to become despondent. No, “hope is the thing with feathers,” so I believe that in another thirty years, humanity will be harmonious, at least on the front of marriage equality.

Tomorrow is Wednesday Word Day, and I yearn for the opportunity to announce to y’all that Proposition 8 was defeated, that humanity is continuing on the road to equality, that those closeted doors are becoming fewer and far between. But if for some reason this is not the case, I will be urging you to fight harder, scream louder, empower further. There is no such thing as a lost cause. In the name of Harvey Milk and all the thousands beautiful souls who have died via the contagion of hate, I will not stop until we are all equal.

Music Monday: “Same Love” Macklemore feat. Mary Lambert

From the same brilliantly catchy and off-the-wall rapper that brought you “Thrift Shop” comes “Same Love,” one of the most honestly written and truthfully socially conscious gay-rights (and overall equality) anthems of our generation. To anyone reading this blog who does not believe in marriage equality for all, I ask you, how can you justify your blind discrimination and lack of the simple knowledge that love does not know gender or color or socio-economic status? If you stand behind the Bible, let me point out to you one of my favorite verses. (And I don’t even identify myself as Christian).

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NASB)

I have witnessed first-hand the nonsensical hatred fueling the bigots spatting out slurs like “faggot,” apparently unaware or uncaring of the emotional damage they are enacting upon the human being at the receiving end of their antagonisms.

Never have I understood the justifications as to why people “fear what we don’t know,” how they can go about their days, believing they stand for a just world, when they are trying to control who we love. Now, they can admit that love cannot be controlled, just as long as it’s between a straight couple. But when it’s between a gay couple? Well, of course it’s magically their choice.

It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, right? Wrong. If you need a religious text–one which you are interpreting, by the way–to tell you if two people deserve the same rights as you do, then I think you need to revaluate a few things.

How on earth can anyone consider same-sex marriage a political issue? Wake up, people! It’s a moral issue. Either you see past the veil of hatred which society has attempted to plaster on us all, or, simply put, you don’t. People, if you understand that oppression of women and racism of any kind is wrong, how can you not understand that by saying no to marriage equality you are just as awful as the misogynists and the racists in this world? If America stands for freedom, then why are not all men and women free to love? I ask you, why are you standing in the way of another’s happiness? Human rights are for everyone. This nation, this world, cannot be healed of its suffering until basic human rights are met.

“No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

World Water Day 2013!

World Water Day 2013!

The day has finally arrived!

(No, I’m not talking about National Goof Off Day; although, that is a pretty awesome holiday).

I’m talking about World Water Day 2013! A day to raise awareness, bring about global change, and donate your voice to the cause. What’s the cause, you ask? Well, I went into further detail in my Fierce (Fe)Male Friday post on Matt Damon, but in a nut shell, there are still 780 million–roughly 1 in 9–people in the world who lack access to clean drinking water. 

Fortunately, this problem can be tackled. It is one hundred percent preventable. There is no reason that anyone on this great planet should be without our most abundant resource–water.

By eradicating this global issue, we can increase children’s education, reduce child and maternal morality rates, create new employment opportunities for women, and so much more. For further information on lending your voice to the cause, read my post and go to water.org.

Join the strike. Spark a revolution. Be the change you want to see in the world.

“Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.”

Wednesday Word Day

Wednesday Word Day

I’ve been going back and forth for the past hour on whether or not I should keep my big mouth shut, or if I should let y’all know what my creative team and I have been cooking up behind closed doors (okay, not really closed doors; Sonic seems to be the prime locale for creative collaboration). The jury has reached their verdict, your honor. We find the heart more powerful than the head (as always).

Okay, all metaphors aside, I am planning the big launch party for my organization, You Me We Empower, this summer!

So now that the secret is out, I should vow not to release any more information until we have concrete details and solid commitments. (I’m probably going to need my creative team to hold me to that one. . .)

For the past week and a half or so, my creative juices have been on overload. Napkins, my Big Idea Book, and my favorite set of pens have been quite handy lately. But oddly enough, the idea of launching an organization at the age of 16/17 isn’t daunting in the slightest. It’s not overwhelming, or scary, or worrisome. In all honesty, it is completely thrilling.

I read an article on starting my own socially entrepreneurial organization today, and one of their pieces of advice was, “don’t do it unless it is literally the most exciting thing in your life.” Well, thank goodness this applies to me. I grin from ear to ear when I think about all that can come from this organization. All the good I can do. All the lessons I’ll learn.

So though I am starting my very own organization as a teenager in a small town, I am wise enough to know that I can make a difference, just as long as I stay committed, focused, and passionate. I will start where I am, use what I have, and do what I can to achieve success, because I know it is possible. I may be one person, but I have a whole community willing to lend their support. I am a firm believer that if we come together, and I mean really come together, we can climb the mountains, swim the rivers, and slay the dragons blocking our path. Life is filled with all types of obstacles. It’s how we handle them that defines us.

Malala Returns to School

Malala Returns to School

I first blogged about Malala Yousafzai over a month ago, detailing her fight against the Taliban and her persistence to remain educated, just as every human being should.

Today, I am proud to announce that Malala returned to school and is now attending Edgbaston High School for Girls in the U.K.

Malala told BBC, “I think it is the happiest moment that I’m going back to school, this is what I dreamed, that all children should be able to go to school because it is their basic right. I am so proud to wear the uniform because it proves I am a student and that I am living my life and learning.”

Fellow “Fierce Female,” Sophia Bush, said in an interview, “Where you live shouldn’t govern how well you live.” Malala’s dedication to the fight for equal education worldwide speaks volumes to this statement.

I cannot wait to see what Malala is going to accomplish in her lifetime, because at the young age of 15, she is already a role model for women around the world.

Music Monday: “Do You Hear The People Sing?” Les Miserables (2012)

I can still picture it, clear as day. New Years Eve, 2012. Bounding down the beach with two of my very best friends, shouting out proclamations of revolution–what for, we didn’t know; we just knew we had a fire in our hearts, a fire that was kindled and ready to light up the world.

Our inspiration? Les Miserables, of course!

Our voices rang out the anthem, adopting it as our own. We were–we are–passionate about nearly everything, and at that very moment, with 2012 flying past us, faster than a speeding bullet, and 2013 rushing towards us, hitting us head on, all we knew was that we were meant to accomplish something beautifully, passionately, transcendentally revolutionary.

We began to grasp at straws, searching for some semblance of a cause for our great revolution. We (and the fourth member of our quadrupsie friendship) had previously declared we would move to Paris in the ’20s, in our 20s, and become the Found Generation. Yet, a literary movement didn’t seem quite right. At least not for me.

So all this time, I’ve been searching for my revolution. But then again, aren’t we all? Isn’t that what life is about? Adam Braun, founder of one of my favorite organizations, Pencils of Promise, gave a speech at Google’s Zeitgeist 2011. In delienating the five steps into creating the Profitable Purpose space (check out the video to understand that lingo), Adam captured the very spirit of our time, “Every person is a revolution within themselves, waiting to happen.” Immediately, his words grabbed my heart and soul; it was as if he had magically found the exact words to sum up the feelings from New Years Eve. We have a revolution inside of us. We are meant for something greater than ourselves. We have a purpose, a revolution. The trick is waiting for the revolution to happen. Of course, we can’t wait around for our revolution, our passion, our purpose, to just happen. We have to put ourselves out there. We have to experience new things, new cultures, new ideas, new beliefs.

I suppose the title of this anthem is really perfect for the discussion. Do you hear the people sing? Do you hear the revolution rise up inside you, igniting an everlasting flame? Because Adam was definitely right. We all have a revolution inside of us. It is what makes us shine brighter than ever before. It is what makes us, us.

Back In Action

Back In Action

The greatest tragedies in my life are as followed (and are listed in no particular order):

1) I finally watched the last episode of One Tree Hill and was forced into a state of minor depression and major withdrawal for approximately 48 hours.

2) I have yet to experience the wonder of all seven continents (particularly Africa).

3) I have yet to meet and have an intensely passionate conversation at a local coffee shop with Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun (it’s happening soon, folks; ya gotta trust me on this one) or the ridiculously handsome and talented Chris Martin (okay, I’ll admit this one is a long shot).

4) I have not blogged in NINE DAYS!!

The latter, I’m hoping as my followers, you have noticed. (If you were around me at any point from around 1 p.m. Wednesday to around 2:45 p.m. Friday, you may have identified my post-OTH traumatic stress disorder, as well).

Please, don’t crucify me too much for my AWOL status, however. Since Friday, March 8th (International Women’s Day, actually) and up until Friday, March 15th, I was suffering/recovering from the flu. It was a bummer to say the least. Not really because of the toll it took on my health (or my test grades this past week. . . sorry to those teachers that had to grade them) but mainly the toll it took on my emotional and mental health. Being stuck in a bed, watching Felicity on Netflix, and sleeping my days away wasn’t exactly the most motivational way to spend the week. I found I suddenly had all this time on my hands, but no real inspiration to spend it in any productive means. What so ever.

Hence, I haven’t blogged in NINE DAYS!

But have no fear! After a conversation with a neighbor at a block party about Sseko and my passion for non-profit work, I am back in action, folks!

I simply asked myself, “what makes me come alive?” My answer? Activism. Empowerment. Education. This blog. So here I am, doing it.

So unless you’re down with a bad case of the blahs caused from a more serious medical condition, the flu, you have no excuse! (And even then you don’t really have much of an excuse. . .I’m still kicking myself for my hiatus)!

What makes you come alive? Do it, or I promise you’ll regret it.

Let’s Get Fierce & Let’s Get Fearless

Lets Get Fierce & lets get Fearless

Maybe it’s the caffeine talking, (which honestly doesn’t have that much of an affect on me, or so I like to think) but my heart gets a-pumping when I think about tomorrow!

Now, who can tell me why am I just so darn excited about tomorrow, Friday, March 8th, 2013?

No, sorry Alex, it’s not because of my chemistry or English test.

What was that Mary? Did you say Fierce Female Friday is returning after a two week hiatus? Because if so, you are most certainly correct, my friend!

But there’s another reason, class. Let’s say it together on the count of three.

One.

Two.

Three!

It’s International Women’s Day! Hip hip! Hooray! Bring out the streamers and the balloons, folks! It’s time to celebrate the fierce, the fearless, the female!

So I ask you, my fellow empowerment junkies, (is it sticking? has it stuck?) how will you celebrate International Women’s Day?