Dr. Amy Sturgis is hosting a free online class on the Hunger Games through Learn Liberty Academy that begins today. It culminates with a live webchat with Dr. Sturgis and one of costume designers from Catching Fire (DID YOU SEE EFFIE’S OUTFITS!!! SERIOUSLY! EEP! So, yes, from a geeky girl who wants to do more cosplay, this will be a great discussion!)
Disclosure: I knew Dr. Sturgis before she was a Dr. and her husband was my undergraduate advisor way back in the day at Belmont University. He has (probably still does) a knack for creating little libertarian instigators (which I was). I think very highly of them both and know that this class will be challenging, informative, and interesting.
I’ve taken several Learn Liberty classes before and the scholarship, feedback and engagement with the faculty, support staff, and students has been excellent. As always – you get out of it what you put into it. Read the articles, watch the videos, engage in the discussions and you will learn something new as well as get to know a group of folks passionate about the material like you.
25) Describe a moment when you “paid it forward.” What happened and how did it feel?
Several years ago, Cross Point Community Church did a church-wide study of The Purpose Driven Life. As a part of it, they encouraged everyone to sign up for a community group. In the group, there was a young lady who had only recently moved to Nashville. She and I were talking after and she said she looked forward to coming – not just for the study or friendships she was making but it was the one time per week she was getting a decent meal.
I can’t remember if she was a struggling musician or a recent college grad making next to nothing or she spent most of her money to move there and the rest on rent but I do remember her saying that she was hungry.
My brother and I had just decided to go on South Beach Diet and were getting ready to clean out the pantries. So I boxed everything that hadn’t expired and gave it to her. Pastas. Sauces. Canned Veggies we weren’t going to eat (because canned green beans are of the Devil!) It was two huge boxes by the time I got it all put together.
I saw her the next week and loaded it all into her car. She was stunned speechless.
I got a thank-you note from her. She said she had gone through the food and there was so much that she gave some to the immigrant family next door who were also struggling to have enough to eat.
I was and am still so happy to know that there were now 4 or 5 people going to have full bellies for a few days, ease their budges a bit to help them get rolling. It thrilled me to no end to be such a blessing. A small act of kindness had such positive waves flowing from it. Thinking about it makes me want to do more – how can I give more to those who need it. God has given me so much; blessed me in so many ways. There are times I’ve completely mis-managed it… but I’m learning, by His grace. And when I have the opportunity to give like this – it’s amazing!
What fictional character in a movie, tv show, or book do you identify with and why?
I don’t know that I can pick just one. So I will pick the several that resonate with me – even after many years:
Yes, Darth Vader himself. I’ve probably mentioned how Darth Vader influenced by 3-year old brain to believe that I am the most powerful creature in the Universe and nothing can stop me from getting my way.
When they re-released Star Wars back to theaters, when the Empire blew open the doors of the ship and he eventually boarded to that theme music (Hum along with me: DUM DUM DADUM DUM DADUM DUM DADUM… it’s a little different in the first movie than what becomes the theme in the latter films but you know it. You just sang along)… in that re-release, I cried.
I was so overwhelmed by the force (ha – get it) and the bad-ass-ness that is Darth Vader.
And same film. Princess Leia. She is smart, driven, will kick your butt just the same. Princess Leia taught me that it is absolutely OK to rebel against authority – even if your hair is silly.
Cinnabons? Come on. No one took her THAT seriously with that hair.
Big Brother is watching…
1984 is a book I can go back to over and over and over and never tire of. We read it as a required book in 9th grade English and (being a student who had spent years reading about the Soviet Union on my own) I picked up the themes faster than anyone else in the class, passionately argued about the over-reach of government and its control in our lives.
Winston’s quite desperation to be “himself” and free of the shackles resonated with me. How he wanted to be able to speak his mind – even to just himself… and the misdirection of the State from real issues.
We have always been at war with Eastasia.
If you liked 1984, I also recommend “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Some consider that Orwell blatantly ripped off “We” in writing 1984.
This list would be incomplete without 1 Firefly character though I could make a case how I identify with most if not all of the ensemble. Since I pulled out my rebel elements with Leia and Winston, I wanted to highlight a different side – that of the Companion, Inara Serra.
When Inara descended the steps to the cargo bay, I was instantly in love. Beautiful, compassionate, extremely intelligent, and ultra-feminine, she was many things I wish to embody myself (maybe not the prostitute part but… we will set that aside). What I admire about her character is her ability to listen – to not just what’s being said but what isn’t being said and in that, finding truth.
16) If you planted a time capsule right now of your life to be opened in 20 years, what would be in it?
Yes, it’s out of order – if you were paying attention to the numbers; I’m picking from the few that I missed last week because I don’t have some tragic break up in my past (today’s topic) to share and lessons drawn from it – other than to say I should have done it a lot sooner than I did.
My time capsule would have in it:
- Cat hair – because it is everywhere.
- Remote control – mine, not yours. Get your own TV.
- Firefly and Serenity DVD set – as a reminder to get them on whatever new media is now available. Maybe they will be implanted straight into my brain… could I kill you with my brain by then? The implant is kinda unnecessary because I pretty much have them memorized but that could be kinda cool.
- My iPhone
- Printed highlights from my blogs, maybe an old journal and some photos of things that were long since forgotten.
- More cat hair
- Lil Bub’s Lil Book (because I read that every day and it makes me happy)
- Wright’s Bacon and Olive and SInclair Chocolate to be fossilized as 2 of the best things to eat on the planet
19) What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
I’m not sure what is left for you to learn that you would be surprised by at this point. Oh, yes, I’m sure there is lots but that needs to be developed through time, stories, proper expression and stuff. This blogging challenge has opened up a few layers of the onion (as Shrek would say) that I didn’t think I would open.
So, I’ve talked about dance. I think that is something that surprises people a lot – how much I love to dance and that I’m actually kinda good when I do show it to people.
- I’ve been to India; I would go back in a second. There is so much more of the world that I want to see and experience – not just as a tourist. Just seeing the monuments isn’t “being” there I think. People are so different and yet so much alike. It is stunning when people from wildly different cultures can connect over our common desire and need for love and acceptance.
- I don’t like my food to touch on a plate if at all possible. I don’t go so far as to have compartmentalized plates and I will smother mashed potatoes on my meatloaf but… yeah… some combinations are gross.
- I hate chickpeas but can eat hummus by the bucket.
- Maybe people wouldn’t be surprised but if they learned that I was terrified to tell them about me… to let them know me and know how much I hurt. How much I was scared that what I said or did had no influence whatsoever… no value whatsoever. That I wanted to believe they liked me but just couldn’t no matter what they said or did because I refused to really like myself.
18) If you could have a conversation with yourself in high school, what would you say?
I know what I would say because it was a conversation I had at a retreat this weekend (which is why the posts dried up and maybe I will catch them up; maybe not).
She was wrapped in hipster garb the way I was wrapped in grunge in 1993. When she stated her purpose for being at the training retreat, she quoted line after line of buzz-phrases because that is what we are “supposed” to say.
I’m here to find myself. To deepen my relationship with God. To find out his purpose for me. To have a greater understanding of Him.
None of those are bad in and of themselves but they are bad when one uses them to gloss over what the real questions are and to hide the real feelings beneath. She started the weekend hidden in a bulky cable knit sweater and huge scarf – hiding the same way I hide. By the end of our time together, she wore a sweater when she was chilled – not to hide.
Another girl was (maybe still is) so full of rage and hate at the world that it almost breeds her indifference to it all. She sat most of the weekend with folded arms and crossed legs refusing to open up to anyone even a little. Finally late Saturday, the walls started to crack. The tears flowed but I can’t say that she fully understood the swirl of emotion going on around her.
I look at them both and see so much of myself. So much self-doubt, self-hatred, loathing, anger, self-pity… I said this in bits and pieces but a fuller picture of what I would say to them as I would also have said to my 18 year old self:
The world is cruel. No doubt about it. You already know that. People have made fun of you for how smart you are, for what you look like. Your parents divorced, robbing you of normalcy and security. You think that there is a standard that you have to meet to have people like you.
You have to be pretty enough.
Dress a certain way in order to have people accept you.
Think about it, dear one – if you have to be THAT way, you aren’t you.
If you put on the veneer of others expectations, you lose all that is special about you. Your quirks, your humor, your beauty.
I want you to know… I want you to believe and PLEASE really believe it… Believe it when I tell you – you are beautiful.
You have worth and value beyond measure.
You are a Child of God – loved so much by the Creator of the Universe that He died for you. Just you. Only you.
You are better than you think. You have talents you’ve not begun to tap – don’t let them whither because you are scared.
Punch fear so hard in the face you break its nose the way you want to punch a hole through that wall because you are so angry and scared that you don’t know what to do with all of the emotions inside.
I know, love – you are terrified to feel. You are so terrified that you will be hurt that you put up such walls to protect yourself from even yourself. I know. I know. I know.
I was there, too.
Stretch out your arms and open your heart to the sky. See the world for its beauty, its pain, its majesty. The Emperor told Luke to let the hate flow through him back there in Return of the Jedi. When you feel it – feel it and then move. When it moves, it can move out and away. Replace the emptiness with love. Love for others. Never be afraid to give.
Open yourself to infinite possibilities. Just because you may think you only have 2 options because those are the only 2 that might work doesn’t mean that there aren’t more. Hey – they might not work.
So don’t be afraid to fail. Because we all do.
Commit. Commit to whatever you decide to do with all your heart. Don’t half-ass it. When you are finished, be able to step back and say “Good job, Jonnelle” because you left it all on the table. You gave it all.
You loved with it all. You served with it all.
You gave hope to the hopeless because you lived without fear. You gave peace to those who were upset because you listened – really listened. You gave freedom to the oppressed because you held the lantern and their hand to guide them along in their struggles.
You let people speak these same things into your life.
You accepted yourself just as you are. Beautiful and broken. Fabulous and flawed. And you believed it. You stopped only believing only the horrible negative things – mostly you made them up in your head because we are our own worse critics. You and I both have our own shackles of shame but so many are trying to free you.
Let them help you. Let them carry you. They can. There is nothing so heavy – not even you – that the people around you can’t bear if you let them.
And ignore most of the comments on the internet. Trolls will be trolls who hate themselves so much that they have to spew it at everyone and everything around them. They say things they can get away with online because no one knows who they are and there is no accountability. They don’t know YOU. Don’t let them be the arbiter of your value.
I learned all of this… like… yesterday. OK, maybe 2 days ago. Don’t wait 20 years to believe that you are a great as you suspect. Being “great” doesn’t mean having this, that, or the other. It means walking in love, serving with humility, committing to put the other person first and creating the experience you want them to have. If you do that, you will have it to – but it will take time and work.
Smart people like Zig Ziglar say “You have to Be before you and Do and Do before you can Have.” Be-Do-Have. I would like you to think about it like this…
Put the result first in your mind…
If I Have… then I will Be… then I can Do.
If I have Health, then I will be healthy then I will do healthy things… leading me back to having health.
The other way can lead to disappointment because what if you never get the result you were hoping for? So live with the experience that you want to create… then you will always have it. Think beyond “I want to be a millionaire” or “I want to be author.” If you look to create experiences… relationships… I absolutely believe with all my heart those things will follow.
All we have are the people we meet. Don’t ignore them. See them. You can’t love them unless you love yourself first.
God loves YOU. Believe that He does.
I love you.
We are halfway there!!!
15) Narrate a conversation between you and someone in your life who you never had closure with (a friend, an ex, a family member, etc.) What would you say? What would they say? What outcome would you hope for?
Part of Mandy Hale’s Blogging Challenge
Describe the last moment you felt really, truly blissful
This probably means in a non-chemically induced state of bliss. The meds that the oral surgeon gave me had me hallucinating but I don’t think that counts as “bliss.”
I don’t know that there is something in my life that I would call ‘bliss.’ I think the closest would be something like the dance performance I highlighted a couple of days ago. Performing made me so happy. There was this light euphoria that went along with it.
Lucky number 13…
Describe how you met the last person you texted and talk about your friendship/relationship
The last person to text me was who ever runs the Redbox text deals telling me about a 50% off code that I didn’t use. We have a great relationship. Person texts me deals and I usually ignore them — unless it’s a free Redbox. Because with free Redbox, I rent the movies I would have NEVER paid to see or wind up being glad that I didn’t pay to see.
- Underworld: Awakening (STINK BOMB. The only good thing: Theo James.)
- Django Unchained (surprisingly better than I thought it would be. Very Tarantino… I don’t know how he could get more himself, but I think he did.)
- Sucker Punch (stopped halfway through and returned it the same night. Can you regret a free movie? Yes.)
- Silver Linings Playbook (so good. Very funny and honest about how people deal with mental illness.. until that kinda sappy Hollywood ending. But the dance rehearsals – worth it. LOVE J-Law and B-Coop. They have great chemistry.)
What day is this? Day 12!! Not… quite… half way there. (Though I got it all out of order on Twitter. Eh. They will figure it out.)
Your proudest accomplishment
I am not going to say something like “getting my degrees” because I didn’t have to work all that hard for them. School is easy for me. So it was great to rock it out walking across the stage for my M. Ed., it isn’t the thing I am most proud of.
It isn’t buying a home either. Lots of people buy homes. Big deal? Sure! Proudest accomplishment? Nope.
I’ve done lots of other awesome things, too. Mission trip to India, managed 4 estates (my parents and grandparents dying) in 4 years, learned how to figure skate, lost a bunch of weight (then re-gained. OK. Maybe not so proud of that part). I’ve traveled a bunch. I’ve eaten interesting and very scary things (beef heart and pig trotters anyone?) But I think this is what I am most proud of…
Back in 2006, I entered my first ballroom dance showcase. You can view the video here. I would encourage you to take 3 minutes out and go take a look.
But I put that up on the internet for everyone to see… and comment upon. Scary and terrifying but I was so proud of how hard I worked – first on losing, I think about 40 lbs at that point. I practiced every day on that routine – at least an hour – for weeks. So much so that shortly after, I had to go to Sports Medicine for work on my back and ankle.
My friend was blogging for a local TV station at the time and she linked to it. She thought it was awesome and wanted to share it with the world. For the most part, the response was positive… except for one guy from Memphis who called me a “blogging whale.”
The Nashville blogging community was very tight knit (at the time). We could tear each other to pieces but the second someone came in from the outside… no. You just don’t do that.
I cried a lot. I was so hurt. It cut me to the core of who I am. On a certain level, I probably still think that no one will see the good that I do for the fat. That being fat negates performing well in anything – as a writer, as a dancer, as just a human.
I finally responded to what this dude had to say a few days after the interwebs erupted (at least for me. It wasn’t viral-viral but many more people watched it than I ever thought would). As proud as I am of the dance, I think I’m more proud of what I learned from the tiniest bit of hate thrown at me.
I will continue to live with joy.
It is a lesson I have forgotten of late. Joy can be a choice.