the One About Teenaged Me

So, this post is going to contain a lot of photos.

Specifically, flashback photos of muhself.

Hayley from 2008 would pretend to be embarrassed, but secretly hope it might launch her into internet fame.

I considered writing a letter to eighteen-year-old me, but everybody does that. And after spending a considerable time debating my angle, (pretty much just the five seconds between that period and capital ‘A’) I decided to just let the pictures drive the trolley and settle back with a water bottle and PA system.

You probably would like to know the topic of today’s little tour, and that my Dear Readers, is a relatively hot topic: societal standards of beauty.

I try not to prance too far into the camps of the offended elite, but I felt that this topic warranted discussion. Whether you be mother, daughter, or friend, we need to start talking less about the way misogynist comic book illustrators are portraying us, and more about the way our female specific magazines, movies, and products are warping our perception of ourselves.

I know I’m not the only voice out here–I’m not the first, and I definitely won’t be the last, but I think that maybe if more of us start telling our stories, somebody will listen.

*begin*

I grew up knowing that my worth was not defined by my beauty or waist size, by a very wise set of parents.

Over and over again, I was reminded of my inherent value and individuality. However, today as I flipped through old photos of myself, I realized that my perception of *me* at the time was not untainted.

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The photo on the left was taken shortly after I discovered Lookbook. It took me a few more years to create my own account, but I started taking pictures. My head-canon for not liking the left outfit argued that the shorts were too short, (hidden by the sweater much?) but if I’m being honest in retrospect, even if the shorts had been long enough, I still thought my legs looked too thick.

The outfit on the right had some head-shot counterparts that made it onto Facebook. I never liked this photo though. Partly because of the sliver of tummy, but mostly because I thought I looked really chubby.

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Fast forward a year and some change. Notice the wide stance–we wouldn’t want those thighs to touch now, would we? The photo on the left was taken on a day where I tried to get a few dance shots. Those were posted, but only after I had enhanced the shadows to make me look thinner. On the right, you see another abandoned attempt at an outfit shot. I gave up after seeing that photo.

I was dancing four to five times a week at this point, and settled into what I thought was my roll as the heavy ballerina.

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I finally signed up for a Lookbook account, but didn’t post very frequently. My ribcage never met my hip bones with a concave line, and “boy, don’t my knees look chubby above those socks?” I posted puddle-jumping look, but later took it down.

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Eventually, I got pickier about my poses. The photo with the green chucks was an all-time favorite because I managed to hide the biggest parts of my body. The photo with the green scarf never even made it to editing because of my legs.

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These photos never made it to final editing because I didn’t feel like slimming my stomach with my cheap editing software.

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I definitely doctored up my abs in this photo, but couldn’t find the original to show a comparison. You know, because the internet wouldn’t appreciate that “ballon” if my gut was hanging out.

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By twenty-one, I figured I was a lost cause.

If I’d never managed to squeeze my behind back into my size 4 jeans from the first picture, no matter how nice I thought I looked, *truly attractive* wasn’t really a choice.

Now, I didn’t write this post to have you all say things like, “Oh, you look great, girl!” “Don’t listen to stupid people.” or “You’re beautiful the way you are.”

Eighteen-year-old me would have, but that’s not the point.

knew I had value. I knew logically that I wasn’t fat. I knew the expectation I had for myself was a lie.

Yet, somehow I didn’t feel that my body had a place in beautiful.

And to be honest, I’m still not there yet.

And to be more honest, I’m not really sure what the answer is. We all deal with insecurities, and I don’t think we will ever eradicate them. Nonetheless, I do believe we need to collectively point our feminine fingers at Hollywood and Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health and every makeup, fitness, clothing, and underclothing brand out there.

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It’s not a matter of thin being wrong, or just adding plus sized models to your line-up…

HELLO! We call them *plus sized* models.

Thin is beautiful and should be embraced. Bodacious is beautiful and should be embraced.

YET, somehow, after all the propaganda, efforts at esteem conservation, and countless counter campaigns, the body representation chart still specializes in the extremes.

Our girls can’t merely be told that their bodies are beautiful and accepted, they have to be shown.

SO I challenge you: bloggers, media people, advertisements. Post the one about teenaged YOU. Be honest about the lies you believe and the battles that you’ve won.

I may never feel that my body has a place in America’s beauty, but learning how to not give a crap about what America thinks about beauty goes along way. God created us, and He creates beauty. We are reflections of Who He is.

Don’t forget it.

Challenge your friends to share the One About Teenaged You.

And keep those heads in the clouds~

-H

oh give me to a rambling man… or just let me ramble

Well….

Year two is complete. I’m free from school for the summer–unless I decide to take Summer courses–which I really don’t want to do. I’m tired.

I’m tired of being an adult, really. I wrote that in my journal the other night… mostly because if you say it to other people, they smile knowingly as if to say, “Mmmhhmm, and it doesn’t get any better. Get over it.” I’m in a place where I have decisions to make, and I really don’t feel like making them. I’m being melodramatic though, things are good. I AM sad that I haven’t been able to write much on this blog lately. I plan on MAKING myself write something weekly, just because it’s good to empty my head.

It just seems like there’s so much stuff I want to do doing the summer (play and sing music, write, paint, craft…), but I also just want to veg. Then it’s over.

I’m feeling hopeful though, my attitude is my choice, and as always–I prefer to keep my head in the clouds :).

There will most likely be some extensive world travel in my future, and I’m just excited to get out of my routine and serve. It’s nice to finally have a goal start to become reality.

All in all, I’ve been settling and stirring up all at the same time. I love my family more than ever. Honestly, I would rather be with them than with anyone else. I want to get more of my music and writing out there. It’s the stuff I love to do. I want to simplify. I have people on my heart, and I’m trying really really hard to be faithful in the little things, because I really fail at the little things a lot.

I want to read wholesome things.
I want to make beautiful things.
I want to speak healing things.
I want to love more.

So that’s where I’m at, my little raindrops. Life is an interesting thing, but never let it pull your head from the clouds.

-HH-

Check In

Hello all!

I have three pressing and drafts and a few new posts, but I feel that I need to “check in”.

I have a bit of  a paranoia when it comes to saying too much about myself, (I don’t need any stalkers, thank you.) But I had the urge to write life… especially since I’ve been writing so many short stories.

SO this post is called check in for numerous reasons. 1st, I’m checking in with you all (whomever you may be, I flatter myself.) 2nd, I have recently gotten home from a vacation that required much checking in.

Vacation was lovely. We took it upon ourselves to see more of the US than we have ever… and all in a vehicle. Thank heavens for “Green” by Ted Dekker, and the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Fortunately, I am of the disposition to enjoy road trips, and despite having to sleep in a bucket seat, each state we visited charmed me in its own way.

In Arizona we saw the Grand Canyon. Despite being told numerous times that it was the result of the Colorado River and millions of years, you cannot look at such splendor and mistake the hand of a Creator and enough cosmic power to result in such a chasm.

In California I finally made my way onto a surf board. I tried to convince myself that refusing to surf because I was afraid of sharks was akin to refusing to hike the Grand Canyon because I was afraid of mountain lions. (Don’t think about that too hard). The beaches were really beautiful, though. However, I enjoy seasons. As much as I enjoyed the surf shops and beach bums, I’m not a Cali girl. I’m not skinny enough anyways.

Utah was by far my favorite… though, the fact we were staying at a ski resort could have had something to do with that. Though I didn’t have my skis with me, I was able to revel in the irrational delight of being a “ski person.” We also saw Pirates: On Stranger Tides, and I enjoyed it. Haters gon’ hate.

New Mexico has strange clouds.

Mount Rushmore was inspiring. (Teddy is my favorite face). ((And chipmunk)).

The only place I found difficult to enjoy was Vegas. The roof top pool, pause-able TV, and virgin piña colada I drank were pretty much the only perks.

The thing I particularly like about long vacations, is how your home takes on a familiar newness… or new familiarity. You’ve been gone so long you look at everything with a fresh eye, but it feels so comforting to be back where you belong.

I swept my room today and I feel complete. Summer, bring it on.

P.S. I’m memorizing the book of John.

Keep your head in the clouds, love~

-HH-

 

The Lemony Writer… No, Not Lemony Snicket

I have felt very much like a lemony writer lately, almost a lime-ish writer but not quite. Because you all are probably baffled by now, and thinking I have probably lost my mind (all the cool kids are doing it), I will expound.

My ideal, and the place I am generally at in the absence of school work, is what I like to call the ripe peach writer. All I need is one good bite, and the creative juices come running out. I feel like writing, the writing comes, ahhhhh…. inspiration.

The place I have been stuck for this last semester, is the slightly more tiring lemony writer. I have to squeeze myself to get the words to come out. They’re there, mind you, they haven’t disappeared, but in the ceaseless flow of reflection paper after reflection paper and essay question after essay question, my precious ideas have bottled themselves into little capsules waiting for me to work up the stamina to wring them out. In the past two days I have read two books and written two book reports. Tomorrow the tally will be three. The collected words from the respective authors are taking the precarious seat in the front of my brain: easy to file, easy to fall, easy to never return. I suppose I should be glad that my own thoughts are taking up a more permanent residence in the lemony pockets in my brain, but… ehh, maybe I should invest in a juicer.

Fortunately, the lime-ish writing state seems safely away with the end of the spring semester drawing near. Anyone who has ever juiced a lime can guess at what I mean. I’m sure there are VERY juicy limes out there, but the type I happen to hit generally take some work before they relinquish their nectar. In fact, a firm squeeze rarely does any good. Results are won only by digging the fingertips deep into the lime and violently demanding payment. I’m not sure if my poor little noggin would survive that abuse.

No, I look forward to the day when my genius *giggles* becomes a peach again. Though I have to say that I infinitely prefer lemonade to peach juice. Perhaps the struggle makes it that much sweeter. Either way the words will come, and when they stop, I’ll pray for more.

~Noggins in the clouds people!

-HH-

The Ballad of the Lemmings *part one*

Come, gather ’round as the sun falls asleep, to hear of a tale that the ancient oaks keep. A tale of two children born from seeds magically sowed; both small like the faerie folk in yon’ tales of old.

This story begins as the grass grows the dew, and the mists peel away leaving the sky lapis lazuli blue. Two lilies spring up, faster than norm, the petals revealing two small babes; human in form. First noticed by mother quail in the tree.

“Oh, dear me! Oh, dear me! Are those babes that I see?!”

All of her flapping and fretting drew a crowd; rabbits and chipmunks, even night animals! For she flapped and fretted so loud. The animals began clamoring and jabbering ’till their tongues turned sore. Not a thing like THIS had happened in the forest before!

The fox who was keen and as slip as a whip said, “Leave them there! It could be a trap,” and gave his whiskers a twist.

Turtle, a cautious creature, disagreed with the fox, “That’s all good for you and for me… we’re safe! My shell even locks. But those babes are in lilies grown up high to the sky. What if they were to fall… and… gulp… die!?”

“Your concern does you credit, old Turtle, my friend,” said the pert flying squirrel as he rolled from his den. “But you would have been better off had you been raised as I. Just shove the babes, let them fall, and see if they fly.”

“You are a fool silly Squirrel! Scatter brained and busy as a bee; take your opinions and *sniff* wings and go back to your tree. ”

ALL of the animals turned and looked in respect to whom spoke; for it was Owl, rudely awakened and standing stern on his oak.

“And you Fox; you are too cunning and crafty for your own good. Slink back to your pile of sticks in the wood. Turtle is closest to an answer, I guess… but we still don’t have a way out of this mess!”

“Oh Owl, yoo hoo!” A little voice called. It took Owl a second to find Ma Lemming (though she was on her hind paws). “I’ll take these two and raise them as my own.”

Owl replied, “But you already have little lemmings waiting back at your home.”

Ma Lemming nodded her head with a tear and then sighed, “But I can’t leave them homeless, just dropped from the sky.”

Owl shrugged his consent and flew the babes down. Everyone crowded to see. Rabbit said with a frown, “They have no fur Lemming, can you fix that? I don’t know how!”

Ma Lemming just smiled, “Nor did my own at the beginning; these two will be alright for now.”

The Thin Places

A week or so ago, my dearest darling, Rubyring and I were talking about books and imagination and whatnot, when she accidentally spelled fantasy- “fantasie”. We laughed, and then I remarked that I rather liked that spelling better. It looked more… like a word from my imagination. It looked more like what real fantasie should be. Upon both agreeing, we wrote a definition for our new word:

Fantasie means more than Twilight or Harry Potter. (Sorry to any fans out there.)  It refers the beauty of mind and soul… the world in our subconscious, all things beautiful and imagined.  Things are only impossible when they cannot be imagined.  All possibility is contained within imagination.

Things that are in our imagination are existing in our imagination… thus, they exist! Okay, okay, I know… it’s a little heady, but conversations and readings and feelings that had been compiling for months, all began to tie in.

The ancient Christian Celts had a term for the moments when heaven and earth seemed to collide- the thin places. I instantly latched on to this concept- The thin places. The places where the breath of God blows my hair; where the greens seem greener, and the blues, bluer. How lovely. How absolutely wondrous!

Now you may be a dry old codger who is wondering, “Why does this matter? Thin places… BAH HUMBUG! And what does imagination and fantasie have to do with it anyway?!”

IT ABSOLUTELY MATTERS

We must be able to see the thin places in order to find them, but so often our eyes have become scarred over. We have blinded ourselves to the thin places. A blooming flower is merely a chemical reaction; no longer a happening of wonderment and awe. We have lost our fantasie. Don’t you see? Our fantasie is our ability to accept happenings and feelings that are outside of our realm of understanding. We lose our fantasie when we are so uncomfortable or embarrassed with it, that we explain it away.

No matter your theological persuasion or life background, to limit the scope of what our omnipresent, omnipotent God can do is a prideful, hard, and self-reliant thing to do. I believe our failing comes when we say, “God, that’s silly… I don’t like it. Perhaps you should work in a more logical manner? Maybe you would consider removing some of the wonder and mystery, and replace it with some calculated facts?”

Why do you think Jesus praised childlike faith? A child can imagine a mountain jumping into the sea, or calling the stars by their names… they might even imagine a tea party with the stars. This fantasie/faith is the same that can surrender at Jesus’ feet and submit to be carried on His back. This is a fantasie that can see the thin places. That embraces the thin places and runs to them, because HE is there.

I don’t believe that there is anything much sadder than watching a child outgrow their father’s hug. I sure don’t ever plan to. However, if we believe that spiritual “maturity” is growing too old and wise to visit the thin places; we have reduced ourselves to thinking that we are too old for our Father’s hug. What a pity that would be.

Dear friends… this is the goal of ~head in the clouds~; to promote the pursuit if the thin places, the beauty of mind and soul… the world in our subconscious, all things beautiful and imagined. Optimists and dreamers everywhere, rejoice!

Keep those heads in the clouds~

-HH-

The Fabric of Family Continued

I have had a very specific reason for putting off this follow-up post for so long. When I wrote the original “Fabric of Family” post, I had just returned home from an engagement party for my cousin and his fiance. This past weekend was their wedding.

I have the wonderful advantage of being close to my cousin and his wife. When two families are beautifully grafted together, I can only smile despite my general inclination to become melancholy at weddings.

Just yesterday I was talking with my new cousin-in-law Ruby, (my cousin’s sister-in-law). While both of us have the discouraging and morbid tendency to look at weddings as an end, as we talked, my mind was convinced of happier things. Yes, it is an end to the way life used to be, but it is also a beginning! A beautiful beginning that can only continue on. Friendships have been forged that won’t be broken. A union was forged through love and commitment. Things have changed, but I find I can embrace the change. Oodles and oodles of new friends and family have been woven into the tapestry of my life.

It reminds me of a quote from Nicholas Nickleby. Nicholas and Smyke had just been “adopted” into a large and colorful family of actors. As they sit watching the joyful chaos below, they make the following remarks.

“We have fallen on wondrous times…”

“But a good wondrous…”

That is how I feel right now. Regardless of any other doldrum-like thought I may be dealing with, I still feel like I have fallen upon good, wondrous times. My family has grown. As I sat, eating my potatoes and mozzarella during the evening reception, I found myself zoning. Ruby insisted to know what I was thinking (being a fellow dreamer), but at the time I really couldn’t put words to it. As I reflect now, it is becoming clearer. I was in a swirl of bliss. A sensory overload of swirling colors and emotions and love.

My life is changing… I’m changing… but with the growing pains comes a newness of life that feeds my very soul.

Keep those heads in the clouds, dear friends~

-HH-

My Life With the Three Year Olds

I teach preschool Sunday school.

That says a lot in and of itself… but I’m often surprised at how much I learn and laugh when I’m around them.

Take last Sunday for example, I had almost lost hope in all mankind, including preschoolers, as I watched the kids play. Three little boys, two whom were friends, one who was playing alone. “Ah, it starts so early,” I thought in a sage-like manner. “The cliques, the outcasts, the world is poop.”

JUST as this thought was making its way through my cerebral cortex, one of the little boys who already had his playmate, walked across the room and asked the lone little boy if we wanted to come play with them. My heart just about melted.

Humans are like hobbits… you can know all there is to know about them (and be able to predict behavior) in a relatively short amount of time, yet, given the right circumstances, they always surprise you.

Speaking of poop, this same kindhearted three-year-old informed me that poop is sometimes green… how nice.

Keep your heads in the clouds~ Go hang out with a three-year-old.

-HH-

Of all the Hayley Annes in the World, You’re the Hayley Anniest…

Life is about the journey, not the destination.

I really wish I always applied this to life. It’s hard though, when you live in a destination-oriented culture. It’s all about getting to the peak, not how you get there. No longer are the days of savoring time, of appreciating each moment as it comes, not just waiting for it to pass. Destination orientation can be dangerous, how else do you develop a cut-throat society with everyone grasping for power? You lose sight of the journey.

Living the journey’s not always easy… I am a person who does not like change in my personal life. I love to re-arrange my room, or cut my hair, or do my makeup a different way, but when it comes to people growing up, people moving, people getting married, me growing up, life changing; it really messes with me. This is why I HATE crossroads. Crossroads make life seem so changeable, so… intense. Anyone will tell you, I’m opinionated and independent, but “intense” is NOT a word that describes me… most of the time. Regardless…

… Sorry, Frodo was saying good-bye to Sam, and I had to stop and cry with them…

As I was saying, crossroads make me feel all sad and negative nostalgia-y. Some are worse than others. I encountered one of theses crossroads just the other day. I was sitting outside, thinking about the end of summer, thinking about my looming –th birthday, thinking about starting college, when a thought went through my mind, “I know crossroads are an important part of life, but why does this one have to feel so ‘crossroad-ish’?” (I like to pull out the melodrama now and again).

But that’s just it! On a journey you must have crossroads. Places of beginnings and ends, not destinations. The beautiful thing is, that while a destination is static, no growth or opportunity, even the most beginniest beginning can turn into wonderful story, and even the endiest end can have a sequel. I know my journey will lead me into crazy things, or even boring things, but it will also have wonderful things. I don’t want to sit by myself, frozen at a destination, thinking I’m done with life and all that’s in it because I reached the flag. I want to travel the journey, to join the fellowship… cough cough… sorry… cough cough, to take the road of life by the horns, to take the adventure, until that one day when I will reach a destination, a destination that doesn’t end, but continues on for eternity :).

My crossroad looks a little more like a great and grand adventure now, eh? Find your adventure dear friends…

Always keep those heads in the clouds~

-HH-

The Day Practicality met Passion

E.G. the day Marilla Cuthbert met Anne Shirley.

I will try not to painstakingly pick apart every single chapter of this book (Anne of Green Gables), but this chapter was too good to pass up.

I would like to pause at this time for a disclaimer: If you happen to have a prejudice against simile, metaphors, or parallels, tough luck. It’s what I do.

Onward! The chapter is aptly named “Anne Says Her Prayers”. Marilla has already set her mind to take in this young, vibrant girl, but Anne is unaware of this fact. In true Anne fashion however, Anne is just glibly relieved that she is still at Green Gables for another night. In Marilla’s mind, Anne’s upbringing has now begun.

So begins the journey of two unlikely people learning from EACH-OTHER. Marilla is practicality to her very core, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that her small and large intestines were wound around yarn spools. Anne doesn’t know the meaning of the word apathy. She is passionate in her sadness, she is passionate in her bliss, she is passionate in her disinterestedness!
Automatically when reading this relationship scenario, I thought of the world in general, in two camps: Practicality vs. Passion. I felt however, that enough has been stated on that topic. So secondly my mind narrowed to the Christian church, similarly separated into those camps. Like two sides to a civil war, Practicality launches grenades at Passion and Passion fires missiles back. All the while the lost run around in no man’s land, trying to avoid being hit.

How clever of satan. What better way to tear apart the children of God and render them useless, than to have them squabble with each-other?

Allow me to go back to Anne and Marilla. When you read this chapter, it is easy to see that neither one of them is wholly in the right! Marilla’s faith lacks the passion of Anne’s, rendering her belief dry and hollow. Marilla’s religion is more or less the idea of her religion. Anne’s faith lacks the structure of Marilla’s, making her ineffective as a witness. She seems more enraptured at being enraptured than being captivated by the love of God.

Yes, I realize I am drawing far more spirituality from this book than was ever intended by L.M. Montgomery, but I feel that this is a needed topic! Practicality and Passion need not be enemies! They are not opposites, they are counterparts. Through the entire “Anne” series we see her and Marilla growing and learning from each-other.

Church, we need to stop henpecking within our coop and see that the real point, the only reason we are here on this earth is to spread the joyous news of Jesus, to return His children to His fold.

If we were all “correct” none of us would be.

In conclusion, I will lighten up with our dearest Anne. Humour becomes me. But please, think about this, dear friends. The world depends upon it.

Keep your head in the clouds and your hearts tender~

-HH-

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I’d look up into the sky — up — up — up– into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there were no end to it’s blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer…”

My dear friend Ruby Hopkins did a set of posts on our beloved Anne, go read ’em! Carpe Diem