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...
Hiking the Colorado Trail: Valleys and Peaks

Hiking the Colorado Trail: Valleys and Peaks

  For me, the Colorado Trail started at the Sanibel Bean Coffee Shop last December.   On Christmas holiday in the Florida Keys with my family I sat sipping an iced mocha and contemplating post-graduate life. I had just finished four and a half years of a relatively intense undergraduate career, decided to wait to apply to graduate school for another year, and, honestly, had no clue what to do with my life. As someone who has almost always had a plan this combination pretty much entirely freaked me out! Fortunately, I had already planned a trip to South America for Feb-April…but come May what was I going to do?! Thus, the Google searches, brainstorming conversations, and many many scribbles in my notebook commenced as the ice melted in my latte. I looked for jobs and travel opportunities, considered adventures and growing experiences. This was time to do things I might never have the opportunity to do again. Suddenly, I remembered a friend recommending spend as much time as possible outside during my year of “freedom.” On a whim I turned to my mother and asked if she wanted to fulfill her dream of hiking the Colorado Trail with me. I did not really know much about it, but why not? Of course, she said yes and my heart sang with stokedness but there was a part of me that didn’t really believe we’d do it…it was just a dream…   Until, we started hiking a little over a month ago!   I am still unsure of how to put the magic of the trail into words. It is...
Warning Flags

Warning Flags

  I took my shirt off to sit sport’s bra-ed in the sun today and that little eating disorder voice in the back of my head came out of hibernation. “Your tummy looks fat,” he said. I felt my heart sink with the weight. Maybe he was right.   I danced in the empty hostel until the my back sweat through my shirt and my cheeks were flushed with tears. Expression moving through my strong body; I let go as emotion oozed from the movement.   I realized that the ED voice was a warning-flag as I turned off the music and breathed: endings are hard. Finishing up a month working my dream job in the mountains won’t be easy.   But I’m not fat; I just have feelings....
Pinning a Wave Upon the Sand

Pinning a Wave Upon the Sand

Pinning a Wave Upon the Sand   It was like trying to pin a wave upon the sand; I knew there was something wrong but I couldn’t quite grasp the answer. I could feel the wax and wane of unsettling awareness of a problem present just below the surface of my life. Yet, each time I almost had understanding clasped within my fingers it would slip away once more.   What was wrong? What was wrong? What was wrong?   Hints of an answer came in journal entries about obsessive secret weigh-ins and food restriction, in my sibling’s teasing and my friend’s concerned comments of “you’re so skinny!”, in my pants slipping off my bony hips and my shrunken breasts no longer filling my bras, in the early morning waking full of hunger and shivering with body-fatless numbing cold, in the runs I did not want to go on when I would almost faint, and in the moments when my striving smile faltered to let through the inner empty desperation. In those many months of denial before I realized I had an eating disorder I clawed at these hints hoping to catch an answer to the undercurrent of depression I could feel (but chose to deny). I chased after these waves of comprehension only half-heartedly, wishing with my whole heart to fix the “problem” whose form alluded me while also avoiding it at all costs.   Dissonance.   Dissonance. Two notes played close together on a piano so that their sound waves rub together discordantly—the vibrations don’t fit with one another causing discomfort to roll up my spine. It’s...
Tears, Torta, and Flying.

Tears, Torta, and Flying.

I thought I would post my Argentina writings in chronological order once I was back in the states. But. That’s not what’s happening. As I begin to edit my musings, the last is drawing me in first. Therefore, I apologize if the order of my coming posts is confusing. The following writing is from my flight back to the US from Buenos Aires three weeks ago. ~~~ Hasta Luego Now, a tickle in the back of my throat, tears on my cheeks, and a squeezing heart as my feet carry me away from my Argentinean family and along the path of the “hasta luego“s. Two minutes ago I grasped my second mother’s arms so that my fingers as well as my words could say, “Te aprecio! Te amo!” with my feet planted and my hug hard to show I mean it. Five minutes ago a small face in the backseat ready to head home but asking for one more hug before he goes, arms around my neck squeeze tight and then “ya esta!” That’s enough for this three year old but he’s already touched my heart. Six minutes ago a baby’s kiss below those ever-wondering eyes and the exhausted abrazo of my host brother showing he cares. Ten minutes ago a little gray dog wriggles under my fingertips as my second father brushes through a good-bye we don’t know how to say. “Volves, no!?” “Of course I’ll be back,” I say to reassure myself as much as him. The past two hours…with my Argentinean family. My family. Familia. Situating that part of my heart that will stay here when...
Torres del Paine: Adventuring with the Wind

Torres del Paine: Adventuring with the Wind

Finally posting some of the writing I did while venturing through Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park last month. The experience is indescribable; these words are a simply an attempt to communicate moments.   21-03-16 The peaks rising out of the patchwork of golden prairie, astoundingly blue lakes, and unfortunately burnt forests are razor sharp. I stare at the crest of the mountain on the left that looks like a gigantic arrowhead as it rises up out of the ground in a pointy slab. I begin to think about how the indigenous people of Patagonia saw these mountains and what stories they told about their formation. The set of stark peaks appears to have split apart. I imagine the greek god Zeus sending a lighting bolt down on the egg of rock in another fit of rage, cracking the mound open into the geometric chunks and spectacular Torres I can see. Above the multilayer rock formed by rising lava and frozen oceans a series of puffy clouds are scattered across the sky like small balls of lamb’s wool recently shorn and thrown into the wind…a wind that now tickles my ears and brushes the fall grasses against my new trekking pants…a wind that helps the river along its gurgling way and ruffles the lakes with waves…a wind that mixes with our words of “cumpliendo sueños” (accomplishing dreams) and “charlas de la vida” (life talks)…a wind that whispers of unknown adventures, new challenges, and utterly stunning beauty waiting in store for our six days in Torres del Paine.   22-03-16 I can see the wind…but only in the water.  ...
Let’s Celebrate Dia de la Recuperacion!

Let’s Celebrate Dia de la Recuperacion!

Una merienda de Celebración: Día de la Recuperación!   (Scroll down for English!)   Ayer tenia la oportunidad celebrar cinco anos de recuperación de anorexia nervosa con una merienda con amigos, vulnerabilidad, y mucha torta.   Aunque estaba nerviosa antes de que leyera lo que había escrito para la ocasión toda la experiencia—hablando de mi experiencia, promesando públicamente respetar mi misma para siempre, escuchando a otros hablando de las cosas que hicieron por lo cuales están orgullosas, tomando un momento de silencio, y apreciando comida rica con una sonrisa grande—lleno mi corazón y mi alma. Me hizo acordar que todo es posible!   Aca esta lo que lei ayer:   Por qué estamos aca: Mi historia   Hace 5 años sali de una negación profunda cuando me di cuenta de que tuve anorexia nervosa. Aunque no era consciente de eso, me había metido en un trastorno alimenticio por casi un año. Estaba muy preocupada por mi peso y la comida. Ejercitaba demasiado. No comia y no sentía hambre. Menti a mis amigas, a mi familia, y a mi misma para no comer. Pensaba que era muy saludable. Sin embargo, también me odiaba mi misma, no podía sentir emociones, no quería hacer las cosas que antes habían llenado mi vida con alegría, no tenia energía para la vida…en fin no era yo.   Mi nombre significa vida en griego. Mientras tuve anorexia la vida—la Zoe—de mi ser estaba achicando. Hoy quiero recordar y perdonar esa chica…estaba equivocada, tenia mucho para aprender, pero la perdono y la amo totalmente.   Hace cinco años (casi exactamente) empezaba una aventura que me iba...
Living in a Casa Rodante

Living in a Casa Rodante

Living in a Casa Rodante During my 5 weeks in El Chalten, Argentina I lived in a casa rodante or casilla. When I arrived my friend, Mica, was living in this tiny trailer and invited me to live with her for the length of my stay. Although we both barely fit in the teeny space between the table, sink, and bunk-beds, by the time we departed I had grown to love the orange airstream from the 70s. Living there taught me a lot about how little you need to be happy. I lived simply and I lived joyfully. I’ve had some requests for pictures of the casa rodante and I found some casilla-inspired writing I did while living there. So, here’s a snippet of my El Chalten life.   02-19-16 I wake up shaking. Still half in the dream world induced by my wonderfully warm orange sleeping bag I at first think there is an earth quake. However, as my brain sheds layers of sleep I realize that the entire house is shuddering. The wind sweeping down the valley above El Chalten is relentless and powerful. I feel as though at any moment the tiny trailer will be swept up and I’ll become another Dorothy transported to the land of Oz. Now, just where did I leave my ruby slippers? The shaking does inspire a little fear, but I decide it’s just another test of trusting the world and slip further down into the feathery warmth of my sleeping bag that is tucked into an astronaut-sized sleeping space above the bed where Mica is sleeping peacefully. I love this “casita.” I...