Zoe Vlastos: My Year in Review

Zoe Vlastos: My Year in Review

Despite irrationally disliking odd numbers, being twenty-three was really good to me! My year has been chockfull of adventure, exploration, learning, and growth. Sitting at my favorite coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado (the Trident Café) I am stealing the idea of writing a “year in review” from my friend Blake Boles to give you a run down of what I’ve been up to!   January 2016 Fraser, Colorado, USA   National Sports Center for the Disabled I spent a month living with my amazing great aunt and uncle in Fraser, Colorado. During this time I volunteered 10 days with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, an organization that provides adaptive sports (kayaking, climbing, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, and more) to individuals with a variety of disabilities. I had the pleasure of teaching sit skiing to some absolutely mind-blowing kids and adults as well as working with the jolly staff at NSCD. I learned to not take being able-bodied for granted and grew immensely as a skier. Plus, I got to ski tons when I wasn’t volunteering!   Falling in Love In Dec. 2015 the stars aligned and I met the love of my life. Much of January was spent driving back and forth from Fraser to Boulder as we fell head over heels in love! And…I’m still falling!   RAW I started a blog on my recovery process from anorexia nervosa called RAW for Recovery from Anorexia Wholeheartedly. Check it out here. More to come in the next year!       February – Early April 2016 Patagonia, Argentina and Chile   El Chalten I spent a month...
Memories of Murder and Meaning

Memories of Murder and Meaning

  Nov. 16th, 1989: Murder.  27 years ago today, Nov. 16th, six jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter were murdered at the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador. This was only one of many horrific acts seen during the tragic civil war that raged from 1981 to 1992. Massacres, assassinations, and disappearings…a lot of which was carried out by the military that received funding and training from the United States.  The martyring of these peaceful university employees and a 15 year old girl in 1989 helped to wake the world up to the horrors going on in El Salvador.   Nov. 16th, 2014: Meaning. 2 years ago I had the life changing opportunity to accompany Regis University’s president to El Salvador for the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit Martyrs. The 48 hours I spent experientially learning about El Savador’s history, people, pain, and love deeply impacted me and taught me a lot about meaning in our world.   Nov. 16th, 2016: Memories.  Soon after returning from my trip to El Salvador two years ago I wrote an essay addressing the question, What is meaning? Much of the content came from the raw experiences I had while in El Salvador and directly afterwards. From time to time I pull out this essay to read over it again because it reminds me of who I am and what I stand for. I have included the full essay below. Also, check out this essay about the insight I found about my values after my experience (shorter piece!).   Note: Sorry about the weird fonts. Working on getting that sorted out. ~~~~~~~ Sacraments,...
Starving: Unhealthy & Healthy

Starving: Unhealthy & Healthy

I have been starving twice in my life. Once unhealthily. Once healthily.   This may sound strange and backward so allow me to explain.   Unhealthy: t – 5 ½ yrs The first time I starved, I did not know it. Even though many signs pointed to the fact that I was slowly wasting away, the power of denial was strong enough to keep me blissfully ignorant. Even though I was constantly cold and my clothes no longer fit. Even though I dreamed of food almost nightly but would not eat. Even though my muscles atrophied, I was so weak I almost fainted if I stood up for too long, and my legs screamed in protest going up short flights of stairs. Even though I got sick easily and frequently. And even though I embodied the phrase “skin and bones.” I did not realize I was starving.   Not only was I starving. I was starving myself. Unknowingly. Unconsciously. Unintentionally. I had let an eating disorder take hold of my life. Unbeknownst to me anorexia nervosa had begun to govern my actions. In order to cope I made up excuses for my behaviors, weaving a veil of denial over my own eyes and the eyes of others. I slowly quit eating – first sugar and fat, then grains, and then proteins until I was barely nourishing my body at all. I would slice bread so fine that by the time I pulled out my half sandwich between classes at community college the tomato and mayonnaise would have soaked through the thin layer of scary carbohydrate fibers to make a...
Snapshots of the Colorado Trail!

Snapshots of the Colorado Trail!

Photo by Carl Marvin   Day 6 I look up with rain in my eyes and stop dead in my tracks; I am paralyzed by the beauty of the moment. Looking down the slick stone strewn trail through the glistening droplet laden aspen leaves I get my first glimpse of the majestic peaks on the snow-crested mountains across the valley. The storm clouds above are simultaneously ominous and protective, a dark mass that splits over the pass ahead to allow shafts of brilliant sunlight onto the distant summits. The contrast in light and color causes the mountaintops to shine like a beacon, vivid beauty amidst the storm. As I carry on through the damp aspen groves where the pale bark watches me with wise eyes and the forest floor is strewn with yellow pea flowers, I am awed by the powerful calm. These trunks remind me of a passage from my favorite Brahms Intermezzo with long held notes: they stretch on into eternity with knowing constancy. The green coin-shaped leaves flutter high above; their whispering reminds me that summer truly has begun with the solstice passing just yesterday. Wildflowers galore and snowmelt streams, scorching sun and afternoon hail storms: Colorado summer is here! And I could not be happier. I watch the brightly colored rain packs of my parents confidently march down the trail glistening in rain-enhanced colors and marvel at my luck. I am extremely fortunate to be hiking with two of the people I love most in this world. Even with the endless uphills and meals of beans and mosquitos, the three of us have experienced many...