Meet Manira (Why I won’t give up my World Vision Sponsorship)

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I sponsor a child through World Vision.  Her name is Manira, and I love her.

She lives with her parents, her brother, and her sister in a French speaking country in Africa (Score:  I can write to her in French!), and I’ve been sponsoring her for 5 years.

Allow me please to tell you a little about her.  She’s 10, in Grade 5, and her favourite subject is biology.  She’s a beautiful girl with a gorgeous smile.  She told me once in a letter that when she grows up, she wants to be a nurse.  The fact that she is even in school right now, learning and loving biology, warms my heart right up.  She loves to dance and sing, and being the oldest child, she does a fair bit of babysitting while her parents work.

Five years ago, I had no real inkling to sponsor a child, but World Vision literally came knocking.  They showed up at my apartment door and asked me to consider sponsorship.  The representative showed me pictures of kids who needed help, and she explained that for $35.00 a month, I could provide benefits not just to this beautiful girl and her family, but to her community as well.  In my profile on World Vision, I can look at a community report along with updates on Manira.

Look at the things going on in Manira’s community (pasted verbatim from my World Vision profile).

Education

  • We helped build and equip four classrooms at a primary school, easing overcrowding and improving the learning environment for children.
  • 14 literacy centers are offering basic classes in reading and writing for adults and young people who did not have the opportunity to attend school, equipping them with important skills for everyday life and making it easier for them to start small businesses and manage their households. 350 people attended the literacy centers.
  • Teachers were trained in new teaching methods to strengthen the quality of education.
  • Awareness campaigns were held on the importance of education for all children, including girls, who are often kept home from school to do chores and married early.

Health and Nutrition

  • More than 2,500 malnourished children and nursing mothers were treated at nutritional recovery centers operated with World Vision’s support.
  • We partnered with the Ministry of Health to hold immunization campaigns, helping them reach more children with life-saving vaccines.
  • We supplied two health centers with antimalarial medication, distributed 2,025 mosquito nets, and organized two malaria-prevention campaigns. We also facilitated training in malaria prevention for 16 health officers.

Agriculture and Environment

  • A veterinary store was opened to improve availability of feed and medicine for livestock, which are the primary source of food and income for many families.
  • An assessment was carried out to determine the status of 25 community grain banks. We followed up with training for the committees who manage the grain banks and stocked them with 63 tonnes of millet to reduce families’ vulnerability to drought.
  • We worked with community partners to restore 108 acres of environmentally degraded land.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

  • Eight borehole wells were drilled to decrease the prevalence of waterborne illness. Children can now attend school instead of fetching water and women have more time for business activities and to care for their families.
  • We contributed materials to help 53 families build latrines, improving sanitation.
  • 60 women have formed volunteer groups to promote healthy hygiene and sanitation practices in the schools and the community.

Economic Development

  • Two vocational centers were established to train women in sewing so they can provide for their families.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Manira in the past 24 hours since the Internet exploded with news of World Vision (US) changing their hiring policy twice in rapid succession to accept and then reject those in same-sex marriage relationships in their hiring process.

My opinion on the actual mechanics of that decision isn’t really relevant here for a couple of reasons.  First, World Vision Canada is a separate entity, and I actually kind of liked their statement in response to it all.  Second, I truly believe that my need to continue giving sponsorship to this child is so much more important than any of the kerfuffle that’s gone on the last couple of days.

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours sifting through mainly reactions to the events that have transpired, though I will admit there were a few well crafted responses.  Jen Hatmaker’s is one of them.  I really resonated with hers, as I do with pretty much everything she writes.  I think she and I would be good friends.

What broke my heart while I was reading was the sheer number of people who have decided that, effective immediately, they needed to withdraw their support of children who so desperately need that involvement in their community.  I mean, do what you gotta do I guess, but I immediately pictured Manira, who’s able to go to school along with many other girls in her community.  She’s able to just love biology, and her dream of being a nurse has a chance at actually happening.  I know I’m not solely responsible for those things, and it would be naive of me to think so, but the thought of withdrawing my support from her over a decision made at the administrative level made me kind of sick to my stomach.

My thoughts on anything else, right now — they’re completely irrelevant…. because I feel so strongly that my support needs to stay with Manira, not with a side on the issue.

Are there other charities doing equally great things in communities around the world?  I’m sure there are.  But if I just threw in the towel because I didn’t like an administrative change, who would explain to Manira why she had support one day and then didn’t the next?  I sure wouldn’t want to.

In fact, you know what?  I’m currently prayerfully considering sponsoring a second child, because I think that the needs of the orphans, the marginalized, the poor, and the disenfranchised are bigger than administrative decisions that impact offices in corporate America.  I have an opinion on the right vs. wrong side of the debate itself, but that’ll only detract from my point here.  It’s not important what I think about gay marriage.  And while it IS important what scripture says in every instance in life ever, about everything, I can’t help but think that for me, it’s more important that I love Manira than that I get up on my soap box and start to preach, one way or the other.  After all, I think the greatest commandment is love, is it not?  Yeah.  Love.

 

Where I’ve Been: Why I’m Abandoning NaBloPoMo

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I am a writer.

I’m a writer because I write.

But it has occurred to me lately that I should occasionally ask myself why I write

To put it incredibly simplistically, I write because I don’t tend to know what I think until I’ve written it.

It makes me wonder then — why do I feel like I need to write every day, if I don’t have anything of value to say?  Why do I just spew words for the sake of spewing words?  Why?  Is there value in self-reflection?  I would argue that there is.

The last few months, I’ve been desperately trying to garner more followers to this here blog, and I suppose I’ve succeeded in that aim, but I’ve noticed a pattern.  The days I gather followers are the days when I’ve posted something that I thought up myself, or at least when I’ve taken a prompt and run in my own direction with it… not the days I’ve taken a mindless prompt and hardly given it any original thought — writing just for the sake of writing.  Is that any different from talking just to talk?  Should I be writing just to write if I shouldn’t talk just to talk?

This is the reason I’ve written nothing since March 7th.

This is the reason I’ve abandoned NaBloPoMo altogether.

Writing should not be a chore.  I love writing.  I write to think.  Some things, I guess…. just don’t really need to be thought about?

I’ve been pondering something else alongside all of this…. You see, if I truly do write to think and process ~ and I believe that that’s true of me ~ shouldn’t I be using this craft for something deeper and more substantial?  Could the words that spill out of me so effortlessly using a keyboard or a pen not be used to Worship and glorify my Creator when the words I speak so often get ixed mup and tangled so badly that I forget what I was talking about?  I know, I know… this doesn’t happen all the time.  I’m pretty well spoken verbally as well, but I find that when I pray I am so easily distracted that I’m talking to God about something and SQUIRREL!  Yeah… that’s about how it goes.  I teach like that some days, too…. it’s pretty fun when you have to rely on students to put your train back on its’ track.

But if my brain processes better while I write, if I focus better while I write, and if I’m better spoken and far more eloquent when I write than when I speak, why wouldn’t I talk to God like that?  I must admit, I’ve never written a prayer.  I know many people who have.  I know many people who admit that it helps them focus, because it’s like writing a letter to a dear friend.

So I’ve abandoned NaBloPoMo, for March anyway.  I don’t think I’ll go back to it for April.  I haven’t given up anything for Lent, mostly because I was afraid I’d fail…. but maybe even though I’m late I can add something in.  I have a blank journal beside my bed, and I’d like to pray with a pen in my hand from here on out.  I’d like to see if it can add some focus to my conversations with the One who matters most, since, you know, SQUIRREL!

I’ll keep you posted.  Until then, though, I hereby announce that I am no longer committed to blogging every single day, lest feeling like I’m forcing myself to do it sucks the joy and the life out of it.  I will still continue to receive all of the prompts into my inbox from The Spin Cycle, Mama Kat (check out her Writer’s Workshop, too), Holley Gerth (check out Coffee For Your Heart), BlogHer’s prompts, and The Daily Post, but I reserve the right to pick and choose the ones that I tackle, if I choose to write any at all.

And who knows what kind of gold I’ll crank out now that I’ve relieved my own source of pressure?

Traditiiiiiiooooon! TRADITION!

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(so this title only works if you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof.  If you haven’t, please stop reading, go watch it, then come back.  Ok I kid… don’t leave, but at the same time, it’s great.)

Alright, so WordPress’s Daily Prompt today is to talk about traditions, and with March Break so close I can taste the freedom, I thought I’d talk about my March Break traditions.

I don’t have tons that are set in stone, but I couldn’t come up with anything else to say tonight rather than to talk about the excitement that will befall me around 3 pm tomorrow.

Every March Break, though, I go do something.  What it is that gets done is never set in stone.  A couple years I’ve gone on vacation, one year I just went to my parents’.  Last year I went to Savannah, Georgia with my Mom.  The year before that I think we went to Niagara Falls — it was the year that March Break was like super hot.  It was fantastic.

This year, however, I’m decorating my kitchen, living room, and mud room.  It’s a huge undertaking.  Lots of paint, new counter tops, some new furniture… epic.  I can’t wait to do before and after pictures!

For now, you can see my colour palette.

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Why I Don’t Toboggan ~ Weekly Writing Challenge

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Every time I go tobogganing (I think this term paints a gigantic maple leaf on my forehead, haha {check out some Canadianisms here… I found them entertaining}), I get completely wrecked.  Legit.  I can’t remember the last time I went tobogganing where I wasn’t completely destroyed when I was finished.

Oh that isn’t true… I went down the hill at Camp twice in February… once with the dog on my lap, haha… sadly there are no pictures of this.  It was epic, though.  We were ‘breaking the trail,’ so to speak.

At Camp (aka my second home) is where I’ve done most of my life’s tobogganing.  I can think of two very memorable experiences, one of which I was reminded of by these pictures for this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge — Threes… by WordPress.

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Photo Credit (all three pics):  Driveway Sledding by Jessie at Behind The Willows

The first incident I’ll tell you about was in high school (actually, I think they both were…).  This particular winter, it had been cold enough that the lake was frozen solid, and we were therefore able to sled down from the chapel at the top of the hill, and ramp off of the dock platform onto the sheet of ice that was the lake.  Of course, it was covered in a rather deep blanket of fluffy snow, so the landing wasn’t supposed to be jarring.

However — right to the right of the dock platform are these sharp, pointy, very hard rocks.  You see, that day… it was about -40 degrees.  Celsius or Fahrenheit, you ask?  Doesn’t matter.  They’re the same at -40.  So when I sat down on my crazy carpet (… aptly named, no?), I breathed into my scarf, which was protecting my face, and my friend pushed me down the hill.  My breath instantly fogged up my glasses, which at -40 froze instantaneously.  I couldn’t see where I was going at all, and I ended up going backwards.

You can probably see where this is going.  There’s been foreshadowing.  I didn’t ramp off of the dock platform as I was supposed to.  I crashed into the rocks to the right of the dock…. with my tailbone.  It HURT!  I laid on the frozen lake, probably motionless, because from the deck overlooking the lake (which is no longer there), my Dad yelled “if you can move, get UP!!!”  At the time, it seemed pretty mean, but now when I look back as an adult, I know that if it happened to any of my students, I’d be concerned first with whether or not they were paralyzed, and THEN I’d be concerned with how much it hurt.  I sat up, gave a solid two thumbs up, and dragged my very sore body back into the main building.  You know you’re gonna hurt when it hurts instantly.  This was Friday evening of an entire weekend away.  I did not go back outside the rest of the weekend.

The second incident was far less scary.  You see, in years where the lake hasn’t been adequately frozen for it to be safe to toboggan onto, we toboggan from the driveway.  In Grade 12, I had some crazy long hair (well, about as long as it is now, haha… just fewer gray ones…).  I had it braided into pig tails to go tobogganing so that it would fit under my tuque.  I was there with a bunch of friends from my youth group, and all of us decided to try this brilliant plan.  Let me tell you, nothing good ever comes from “hey, I got an idea!” when it’s coming from a few 16 year old guys.

We piled onto the inner tube of a transport truck.  Four guys on the bottom.  Four girls in row two (I was one of them), four more girls on top of us (they were probably grade 6-8), and four little kids on the top row.  It took three grown men to push us to give us enough momentum to get started down the hill.  I was on the outside of my row.  Well…. remember those crazy long pig tails I told you about?  One of them went under the inner tube while we were going down the hill, and literally pulled me out of the pile of people… three rows down, sandwiched on the boys, and under literal piles of girls, I got yanked out by a pig tail.  Everyone else got to the bottom and wanted to know why I bailed.  With tears in my eyes, I told them that probably a bun would have been a better option.

Long story short:  I prefer to play it safe when it comes to tobogganing.  Golf courses, previously unbroken trails, etc… those are safe.  Those kids in Jessie’s pictures look like they had a wonderful time tobogganing down their driveway, but I don’t toboggan down the driveway any more.

My Writing ‘Voice’

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It’s funny, that as I sit here watching The Voice… I’m being asked to write about my writing voice.  Many of you … most of you … have never heard me speak, before.  If you have, though, you know that I write how I speak.

My writer’s voice is not dissimilar to my speaking voice.  Granted, when I write, I tend to throw in a slightly more flowery vocabulary, probably because I have the time to think through what I’m writing and while I do type with great speed, I speak much more quickly.

That said, I’ve had many people comment that after the first time they’ve read something I’ve written, it’s very easy for them to hear me reading it in their heads while they read the pages themselves.  This strikes me kind of like all those memes where something random is written but it’s pasted on a picture of, like, Morgan Freeman… and I don’t know about you, but when I see words written on a picture of the likes of Morgan Freeman, or James Earl Jones… I can’t help but hear them reading it in my head.

Granted, there are tools that help me accomplish this.  I am a huge, huge fan of two major punctuation marks.  The ellipse ….. and the comma.  They accomplish for me the pauses and effects that I use in every day speech.  The ellipse especially, if you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you’ll know I use frequently.

I love my writer’s voice.  That’s probably best since it’s so similar to my every day speaking voice.  The only (small) issue is that given how similar my writing and speaking voices are, I find that when I try to write in a voice other than my own, it’s so deeply engrained that it’s very difficult.  It tends to be why (I feel, anyway) I excel in my own ramblings, and less in fiction.  I struggle to separate myself from individual characters when I try to write fiction.

And there you have it, there’s my writing voice!

This post was written for BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo, which, for the month of March, is focused on ‘self.’

5 Things About Me

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This feels a lot like those American Idol “5 Things About You in 20 Seconds” dealies.  So… here it goes.

Five Things About Me:

  1. I love music.
  2. I believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  3. I want to write a book.
  4. I speak, read, and write French fluently — and want to add to my language arsenal.
  5. I am addicted to hash tagging and selfies.  #legit.

Keep tuning in in March through BlogHer’s March NaBloPoMo, and you can learn lots more about me!

Also — this took far longer than Idol’s 5 in 20.  I’d have been buzzed out with a giant x for sure!

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The Things I Can/Can’t Live Without

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So I’ve dropped the ball.  Another NaBloPoMo started yesterday, and I didn’t figure it out until yesterday at like 11:45 pm and by then I was tired, so I didn’t write.  It hadn’t occurred to me that it was March 1st.  In theory, I should’ve been writing anyway because I did sign up for February’s NaBloPoMo as well, but I guess I dropped the ball on that one, too.  March 2014′s theme is Self.  I actually had a conversation with a good friend tonight about how I don’t like talking about myself with complete strangers — I tend to clam up.  But give me a keyboard?  Watch out.  I realize that in actuality, this means even more strangers read the deep thoughts that spill through my fingers — but that’s just it — they spill much more freely through my fingers than they do from my mouth.  So if you don’t know me very well yet, prepare to learn new things about me through this month’s Self blog.

There’s no prompt for today, so I guess I’m left to my own devices right now.

But I was struck with an original thought this morning!  Sometimes I have those.  I was sitting in church listening mostly intently to the sermon (I could summarize it for you, I was listening, but it’s about to sound like I wasn’t).  I was sitting with a dear friend, her husband, and her three girls.  After the younger two had disappeared off to Junior Church, it was us three adults, and my friend’s 9 year old, who was scribbling furiously in a notebook she’d brought with her.  Curious, I glanced over.  I noticed a couple of things.  Firstly, I noticed how neat her printing is.  She’s a Grade 4 teacher’s dream.  Lovely penmanship on that girl.

But then I saw what she was writing.  She was writing lists of things she can and can’t live without.  At that point, I stopped being so snoopy and I let the girl write.  Her Momma peeked at some of them, and shared some of them, but I turned my attention back to the sermon and tried not to let the now-mulling blog post inspiration (gleaned from a 9 year old… maybe she’s 10… anyway) distract me from the deep meaning that was in this morning’s message.

But now that I’ve had the afternoon to think this through, please enjoy getting to know me by experiencing the top ten things I can and can’t live without.

I Can Not live without (only a couple of them are in order — for example, Jesus is definitely number 1, but peanut butter isn’t the second most important thing in my life):

  1. Jesus
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. The Bible – every inerrant word of it.
  4. Music — all of it.  Mostly the fiddle though.  And country.  And…. ok Music.
  5. My fam jam.
  6. My dear, dear friends.  The ones right here in my city, the ones I only see at Camp, the ones I left in Niagara when I moved away from home, the ones all over, and that random one in Wasaga Beach whom I think I’d miss even if I’d never met her :P  You know who you are.
  7. The dog.  This face.
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  8. Carbs.  It’s been a proven fact.  Science! :p
  9. My cognitive ability to express myself through the written word — even if it comes at the expense of my willingness to be verbally expressive.  Oh, and books.  This has to go here or I’ll go over ten… and I know I make the rules, but top 11 lists are just bizarre.
  10. Facebook.  Legit — think I’d perish.  Social media in general.  Maybe this is bad?  I dunno.  I refuse to buy into that.  Probs my phone, too… let’s be real.
  11. I caved.  Had to go to 11 anyway.  Disregard the rant in 9.  Movies.  They can’t go away.

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And now, before I snooze, the 10 things I most definitely CAN live without:

  1. Mean peeps, and general awko taco situations.
  2. Snow.  All of it.  Be gone.  (except on December 24-25)
  3. My slow metabolism and the resulting occasional bout of low self-esteem.
  4. Math (this probably isn’t true, though it’d be fun to try)
  5. Report Cards.  Gosh.  You’d think as a writer I’d hate these less, but… not true.  Loathsome things, they are.
  6. Going to the dentist.
  7. The sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in many of the kiddos I teach right now.  Note:  I am not saying I can live without the kiddos.  I love them.  They just need to understand that they don’t just deserve stuff… not just because.
  8. Staff Meetings.
  9. Car and House Maintenance — things need to quit breaking.  For real.
  10. Bathing Suit shopping.

 

Get ready to learn lots about me this month!  It’s gonna happen!

Sweet Dreams: Daily Prompt

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I am legit falling asleep right now.  So how fitting that today’s WordPress prompt and that one of this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat are both about dreaming.

We’ve been asked to describe the best and most vivid dream we’ve ever had (which I’ll have to link up tomorrow — until then, check out Mama Kat’s blog).

I have two dreams to share — I don’t know if I’d call either of them the best, but they’re certainly the most vivid… the kind of dream where you sit up in bed after you wake up and wonder if that actually happened or not.

I don’t put much stock in dream theory or whatever it’s called — the analysis of dreams to inform you what they really mean for your life…. but one comes up meaning big change or stress, and the other comes up suggesting that I’m suppressing creativity that wants out….. Maybe I need to get on writing that book?

1.  I’ve woken up more than once after a dream where I found out I was pregnant and was faced with the daunting task of telling everyone I know that I’m a hypocrite.  You see, some of you may already know this about me, but it’s not currently possible for me to become pregnant.  Every time this happens, I don’t know who the Father is, and I have to explain to not only my parents, but to everyone around me, how I got pregnant out of marriage, how this happened, and what exactly I’m going to do.  One pregnancy dream lasted long enough that I had the baby, and was raising it on my own.  I had friends over to meet my baby girl, and a friend sat on my baby on the bed.  I woke up in a sheer panic — “where’s my baby!?  Is she ok!?  Wait…. I’m not pregnant.  I don’t have a baby.  I don’t even have a boyfriend.  Time to go back to sleep.”

They are the strangest dreams.  The pregnancy dream is the one that apparently means you’re suppressing creativity.

The other dream I’ve had that is super vivid… is where all my teeth fall out.  haha it even sounds ridiculous to say it.  Apparently it points to anxiety and stress.  I’ve had this dream more than once.  The most vivid time I’ve had this dream went like this…

It was the first day of school (I had the dream at the end of summer), and I had spent a bunch of time prepping and lesson planning — ready to wow those kids with how awesome a teacher I was going to be (I switched schools and positions in September of this year).  I’ll admit that I was quite nervous about the switch, even when awake.  I was switching from teaching Grade 4-8, and teaching them French… to Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2… Science, Social Studies, and Gym.  Nothing would be the same as the year before.  As I stood (in the dream) in front of my first Grade 1 Science class, I sneezed.  When I sneezed, every single tooth in my mouth fell out into my hand.  I remember very clearly looking down in my hands at every tooth from my mouth.  I tried to introduce myself to my new kiddos, and all I could do was gum at things.  I woke up and for hours….. not kidding… HOURS…. I ran my tongue across my teeth to make sure they were all still there.  I don’t consider myself to be an overly vain person, but I can’t lie, the idea of having no teeth is not an enticing one.

So there you have it — apart from a hallucination when I was a kid that I only vaguely remember (My fever was high.  My Dad and best friend chased me around a circuit board armed with pillow cases full of rocks, swords, and banana cream pies.  I woke up screaming…..), those are my two most vivid dreams — being pregnant with no explanation, and losing all my teeth right when I have to do something important.

I just really hope they don’t both happen at the same time.  That’d be wretched.

You kick it into 4-wheel drive, and you go… til you hear the banjo.

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Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

Thanks WordPress, I haven’t wanted to write for a few days… this I’ll write on though, for sure!

I have played in a band — worship band, at Camp.  There’s nothing like it.  

Two weekends ago, I played violin in a worship band at Camp for our Sunday morning service.  I’d never played in front of people before.  Not more than a few, anyway… and not for anything more significant than a talent show.

I’ve sang for years and years.  I played piano for several years as well, until I finally acknowledged that it’s not my favourite thing, and that while I value the skills I have now because of how long I played (read:  I don’t have to learn theory while I learn to play the violin, I did it as a kid…), I don’t really want to play much.

My ideal band has an acoustic guitar, a banjo, a mandolin, rockin drums (portable ones, because, well, you’ll see…), and you guessed it… me on the fiddle.  We’ll have an amazing vocalist (because sadly, I haven’t figured out how to fiddle and sing at the same time yet…), and we will just have fun.  We will play and sing, we will rock out and jam.  The drums should be portable, like a jambe or a cajon, because this will all take place on some hot summer night around a camp fire.

Picture:  what I’d like the theme song of my life to be right now…

My idea of perfection right now is the end of a country road …. I kinda have country fever.  It’s what happens when you put a country kid in the city for 6 years I imagine.  Anyway… I won’t entertain that thought too seriously right now, since I’m city-bound for the time being… but there it is :D

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#BoycottSochi, #SochiProblems, and other Sochi thoughts

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I’ll be honest when I start this off.

I am not a sports fan.

I’m ok with playing some of them — I’ll play volleyball, quite happily.  I love swimming.  I’ve dabbled in snowboarding.  I like to think I’m a runner, even though I haven’t run in months, haha…. I love cardio kick boxing…

But I participate in every single one of those.

I don’t watch sports…… except for every four years in February.  Then… and only then… the PVR needs to be regularly emptied so I can record some more, and I make sure I’ve watched all of the sports that I want to see.  It’s the only time I care about results, scores, whatever…. it’s the Winter Olympics.

This year, they’re being held in Sochi, Russia.  Personally, my patriotic support of the games has never been higher than on the last ones, Vancouver 2010.  That might be my Canadian Passport talking, though.  Plus… there were Inuksuks everywhere, and if I had to pick a symbol of Canada that I love most, it wouldn’t be the maple leaf; It’d be the Inuksuk.

But I digress.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the location of these games.  There are many people out there… I even know some of them… who believe that we shouldn’t be there — that the depth of the inappropriateness, criminal activity, prejudice, and discrimination that happen in Russia in general is too great, and that we as a global community can’t possibly support Russia by showing up for the Olympics.

To be honest, I don’t know that much about what’s been going on.  And that is what’s going to fuel my argument in this debate.

Prior to January 2014, I knew virtually nothing of the conflicts going on in Russia in regard to human rights, gay rights, war crimes… just to name a few.  I’ve had to do some reading.  I’ve been sitting on this post for about a week and a half… and then Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop Prompts came out for this week and gave me the platform to write the back half of the post… and so I sat on it some more.

As food for thought, here are some of the things I read.  Now, I realize that some of the sources here aren’t amazing.  I realize that my search term – “boycott Sochi” – was a very leading search term, and that it’s probably led to some biased results… but… for me, that’s inconsequential.  If that matters to you, you can stop reading right here.  I’m being honest with you so that in the comments, I don’t get blasted for using slightly slanted sources…. plus, as a fair warning, I probably won’t approve any comments that are rude, anyway.  I never do.

Now — here’s my stance.

First of all, the only thing I’d heard about Sochi at all was the anti-gay policies and the eradication of stray dogs.  I’m not minimizing these things at all; They’re awful.  But there are other issues at hand here.  There are all kinds of human rights issues that are massive, all surrounding Russian government.  “Human Rights Watch have documented exploitation of migrant workers in violation of Russian law; evictions of residents without fair compensation and in some cases, with no compensation at all. Many resettled residents lost a portion of their livelihoods; Threats, harassment, and lawsuits of activists and journalists critical of the Games, as well as Russia’s discriminatory anti-LGBT propaganda law.” [Source]

And I think that’s my point…. before the Olympics started, that’s all I’d heard about.  While they aren’t good things, by any stretch of the word, and they aren’t things I want to draw attention away from, there are issues that go so deep in Russia…. that I would never have known about.  Because I wouldn’t have looked.

So yes, I know many people wanted Sochi boycotted.  They wanted The Olympics not to be held on a world stage that’s so fraught with issues deserving of international attention……. but if The Olympics weren’t being held in Sochi, would all of these issues be garnering such international attention?  Or would they have gone on, largely unnoticed, out of the public eye?

I get it.  We don’t want to be supportive of crimes that are being committed what appears to be completely intentionally.  But my argument is, if we boycott and keep international attention out of such places, how can any change be effected?  How will we know?  I wouldn’t have known.  Maybe that’s my own fault, but the point stands.  I would have been completely clueless that most of that was going on in Russia.

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Now that I’ve expressed that, Mama Kat’s prompt that I chose for this week is to choose one Olympic sport we’d like to compete in and explain why.

I can’t choose.  I can’t.  I need two choices!!

I want Slope Style Snowboarding.  And I want Ice Dance.  I want them both.

Why?

Because both of them are beautifully artistic and require incredible athletic ability (neither of which I’m very good at — my art comes out in words, and I’m a super klutz.)

Like I said above, I have dabbled in snowboarding.  I know PRECISELY how difficult it is.  I learned in the Alps in France, and I couldn’t even handle the Bunny Hills.  Wrecked my knee… basically proved for a whole week why I should never strap my feet on top of a waxy board and slide around on slippy snow.  Period.

I have a similar experience on ice.  I think that ice dance is phenomenally, outstandingly…. pulchritudinous (Characterized by or having great physical beauty and appeal ~ because I needed a word that carried more punch than ‘beautiful,’ ‘stunning,’ ‘gorgeous’ etc.)  My heart nearly broke when Tessa and Scott were beaten by Meryl and Charlie and ‘only’ took silver.  I love Tessa and Scott.  I think they should get married and have figure skating prodigies, and I’m super sad at the thought that this is their last Olympics.  I want to a) be in that incredible shape physically, and b) be able to move around on skates while letting go of the boards.  Both of those things would be amazing.

Speaking of figure skating… have you seen this?  I’ve thought pretty much all of these things (27 Things You’re Really Thinking About During Figure Skating)

Those are my sports.  Or, if I was athletic at all… those would be my sports.  But those are my choices :)

So there you have it.  Not only would I NOT boycott Sochi, but in an ideal world, I’d be the only athlete to compete in two completely different disciplines.  Everyone was super surprised when Torah Bright of Australia decided to compete in Slope Style, Snowboard Cross, and half pipe…. well I’d compete in Slope Style, then blow the competition off of the frozen water in ice dance.

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