Blog

The THRED blog has one central purpose: to start conversations. We don’t all agree. We don’t have the same views and experiences on life and faith. But if one person is brave enough to say what they think, then we have the opportunity talk about it and learn something.

Every post on this blog is just that—the start of an open and honest conversation, and an opportunity to learn. THRED doesn’t endorse all the views expressed here. But we believe they all matter, and they are part of an important dialogue that will help us all grow. So pick one out, share it, and continue the conversation in the comments. Because your voice matters too.


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Healthy Progress, Not Perfection Healthy Progress, Not Perfection

Healthy Progress, Not Perfection

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How anyone can keep up with the diet trends these days, I’ll never know. If you’re getting your health information online, what’s good for you and what’s bad for you is simply a matter of science… or opinion… or scientific opinion. It’s all very confusing! But the one thing I think everyone can agree on at this point is that what you put into your body matters. Through much...


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Reclaiming the Holidays Reclaiming the Holidays

Reclaiming the Holidays

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During the holiday season, I often get one of two troublesome feelings. First, I think that the whole month-plus is too hectic and too busy. The season feels overscheduled with events and get-togethers that are good and joyful, to be sure, and which I would probably miss if they didn’t happen. But in my more reflective moments, a deeper sense that something is missing creeps into my experience of ...


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Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations

Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations

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Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I remember the childhood magic of unpacking our Christmas decorations every year, the anticipation of eating the candy cane cookies that my dad and I twisted into perfect pink and white hooks, and the joy of finding at least one special present under the tree. For years, I told my parents that someday I would get married at Christmas; eventually I ful...


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Weird, Wonderful Creativity Weird, Wonderful Creativity

Weird, Wonderful Creativity

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I have some issues with the word creative. I feel like it’s a word people say about you when they want to say that you are weird, but you are also in the room. This is really a shame because to be someone who creates (and is weird) is awesome! I create every day in my job at a Shakespeare Theater and most days in my downtime as a way of de-stressing. I have always loved painting. As a kid, m...


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The Self-Inflicted Curse of Creativity The Self-Inflicted Curse of Creativity

The Self-Inflicted Curse of Creativity

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I tend to be called creative a lot. From the moment I chose design as a major in college, I sealed my professional fate as a “creative” in the industry. Fast forward four years, a business minor, and way too many Red Bull-fueled late nights later, and I found myself as a proud… college graduate who was living at home with my parents — sound familiar? Thanks to my decision to pursue a creative care...


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What We Hate Most in Others What We Hate Most in Others

What We Hate Most in Others

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“You hate most in others what you hate most in yourself,” Mr. Baxter said, as he looked around my seventh-grade class. Then he focused his gaze on one of my fellow students in particular. She knew those words were meant for her. I saw her tense up. She did not take his words kindly. Why? Because instead of allowing for her to judge another pupil with impunity, Mr. Baxter turned the tables and push...


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Our Confusing Selves Our Confusing Selves

Our Confusing Selves

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When I was little, my dad had a poster of an adorable chimpanzee next to his desk. This was long before the days of memes, but you may have seen an updated version. The chimpanzee held a thinking pose above the caption, “I think, therefore I am… confused.” My dad explained to me about the concept of philosophy and a man called Descartes. I felt incredibly grown up to be in on what I consider...


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Compassion for the Holidays Compassion for the Holidays

Compassion for the Holidays

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It’s been a tense year, to say the least. Political polarization is at an all-time high and people on both sides are angry. Many people don’t just disagree with the other side’s views anymore; they think the other side’s views—and the people who hold them—are abhorrent. It can be hard enough to navigate political differences with strangers and acquaintances. But what are we supposed to do when the...


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Bracing for Holiday Challenges Bracing for Holiday Challenges

Bracing for Holiday Challenges

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A few days ago, I called the father of my two twenty-something children. For the past couple of years, the kids and I have been celebrating Thanksgiving at his condo in Philadelphia—Christmas is at my house. I had gotten word through the “grapevine” (a.k.a. my son) that his dad was upset about the possibility that after dinner everyone would leave for their separate dwellings, and then he’d be stu...


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Road Rage Versus the Grateful Heart Road Rage Versus the Grateful Heart

Road Rage Versus the Grateful Heart

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For me, driving downtown is the worst. I lose all sense of patience and spend my entire commute questioning other people’s sanity and driving abilities. From start to finish, it’s a very negative experience. Then one day, it occurred to me: I could change my mind. Now there’s a thought. I like to think of myself as having a grateful heart. Most of the time, that’s true. Maybe I should say, in most...


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Gratitude—The Big and Small of it Gratitude—The Big and Small of it

Gratitude—The Big and Small of it

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Many of us, myself included, use the words “thank you” as carelessly as “excuse me” or “gesundheit.” We tend to throw around “thanks” without necessarily giving it a thought. We say it at the Starbucks drive-thru, after opening a present, or when someone holds the door open for us. But I want to talk about gratitude, and I’m not entirely sure that thanks and gratitude are as synonymous as we might...


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Integrity and Freedom from Judgement Integrity and Freedom from Judgement

Integrity and Freedom from Judgement

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As I’m writing this, the hearings on the newest Supreme Court judge have just finished. I purposely did not watch them… it was too much for me. Lately, I have been overwhelmed with the feeling that I’m waiting for a dream sequence to end; that I’ll wake up to a world where leaders don’t mock abuse victims, where honesty and integrity are still valuable, where character and courtesy mean something....


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Toward Integrity Toward Integrity

Toward Integrity

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I stood by the self-checkout register, running my groceries through the scanner. No one was paying me much heed. You know what it’s like. I sometimes think we self-scanners go to the self-checkout line so that no one will bother us. For me, it’s a race against the annoying voice of the bot who tells me to bag something or reminds me to take my change. Then I got to the Gala apples. Quickly I looke...


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If you’re not first, you’re last. If you’re not first, you’re last.

If you’re not first, you’re last.

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Before we jump right in, I have a confession to make. Prior to 2016, I paid just about as much attention to football as I did to politics – ahem – almost none. In my mind, both American pastimes were just fuzzy activities that existed in my periphery as I fumbled my way through life as a twentysomething (I’m sure many of you can relate). Whenever I got together with “the guys” to watch...


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The Art of Becoming Politically Mature The Art of Becoming Politically Mature

The Art of Becoming Politically Mature

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The political landscape has changed. And I’m not just talking about the results of another election. I mean that the attitude and atmosphere surrounding politics in our country has shifted dramatically. Growing up, I dreamed of pursuing a career in politics. It was the age of The West Wing, when being a part of the American government was something prestigious, a great way to serve our country and...


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Lessons from a Culture that Celebrates Life Lessons from a Culture that Celebrates Life

Lessons from a Culture that Celebrates Life

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Finding his way through the vibrant “Land of the Dead” in the Disney/Pixar film Coco, Miguel sadly watches an older soul fade away in front of him. Perplexed that someone can disappear, even from the land of those who no longer live, he asks his trickster companion Héctor what happened. Poignantly, Héctor informs Miguel that, “Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life—...


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Generosity and Our Tribal Hearts Generosity and Our Tribal Hearts

Generosity and Our Tribal Hearts

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We often think of generosity as being willing to give our money to others. But this is a narrow definition. A wider definition of generous is, “having a kindly spirit.” Through the years, I’ve discovered many ways in which my spirit has not been so “kindly” toward others. But here I want to share three things that have made me a more generous person. And I think that’s a good thing. CONNECTION has...


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Community is Generosity Community is Generosity

Community is Generosity

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I think when we have found community, then we have found generosity. Sharing yourself and your time with those around you is the essence of both of these ideas. I see small generosities every day at my job and in the world. People will give up their seat for someone else on the bus, drop some change into a musician’s case, or offer a hug and a friendly ear. These simple kindnesses are all around u...


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Great and Terrible Babies Great and Terrible Babies

Great and Terrible Babies

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Babies are great… and awful. If you listen to an honest debate between a loving parent and someone who doesn’t have children, chances are high that they would not truly understand each other. Parenthood is a life-changing experience, so much so that it is often hard for people whose home has already been invaded by a baby and people who still think that Saturday mornings are for sleeping in to spe...


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Sufficient, But Not Saving Sufficient, But Not Saving

Sufficient, But Not Saving

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I often notice that a lot of commercials and ads have one big message in common: if you’re not buying or doing or subscribing to or wearing such and such, your life is not as good as it could be. There seems to be almost a moral pressure to consume the advertised thing. It’s easy to wonder if I’m good enough, doing the right thing, living life the right way, or consuming the “right” things. These ...


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Getting Real About Money and Limits Getting Real About Money and Limits

Getting Real About Money and Limits

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I’ll be honest, I’m not writing about my financial health because I’m financially healthy. I’m writing about it because I’m not great about my money… and it bothers me. A lot of people in my life would say that I’m a pretty good adult—perhaps that I have been since I was about four. It’s a hazard of being an only child. And in a lot of ways it’s true. When I’m presented with a task or an area of m...


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When Fall Doesn’t Come When Fall Doesn’t Come

When Fall Doesn’t Come

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I am a California baby raised primarily in the northern Midwest. For most of my life, fall meant a clear change in the seasons. In childhood, fall meant leaving the city for field trips with my Detroit classmates in the orchards of the Michigan countryside, driving through different northern regions to see the colorful changing foliage, and jumping into leaf piles that my dad created in our front ...


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Fighting for Justice in a Selfish World Fighting for Justice in a Selfish World

Fighting for Justice in a Selfish World

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It seems as if every time we turn around another scandal is being brought into the light.  With high profile cases such as those indicting Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein for sexual crimes, along with the #metoo and #churchtoo movements, we have seen hundreds come forward to say they were harmed—and that things were covered up when they tried to report it. The question I am asking today is, “If we...


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Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster” Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster”

Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster”

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I’d like to take a moment and consider the word binge.  According to Webster’s dictionary, a binge is “an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence.”  Another definition is “an act of excessive or compulsive consumption.”  Of those definitions, I find the word “compulsive” to be the most significant and the most frightening.  The implication is that if I’m binging, I literally cannot stop myself...


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Courage in the Wilderness Courage in the Wilderness

Courage in the Wilderness

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My feet were dragging across a rocky singletrack trail in the Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix. It was nearly 90 degrees outside and I was 43 miles into a 52.4 mile run—a double marathon. The entire right side of my body was cramping, my legs were sapped of energy, and I could feel my heart rate climbing like a mountain goat up a scree field. I hurt. I hurt bad. I was in what ultrarunners c...


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Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind

Failing Friendships and Learning to be Kind

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I’ve heard it said that, even more than their lessons, educators teach who they are as people. Students learn about their teachers’ passions, annoyances, available buttons to push, and amount of care they hold for their pupils—perhaps even more than they learn about their coursework. As a teacher, I have seen this happen. As a former student, I’ve learned that the most important person a student c...


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45 Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School 45 Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School

45 Lessons I Didn’t Learn in School

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We have all had levels of “education,” but I’ve found that I consistently learn more from what is not on the syllabus than what is. I discovered more about myself in between the lines of my formal education than I ever did sitting at a desk. A recent poll of my closest friends and relations made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I asked about their top “informal” lessons—here are some of the highlights...


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Marshmallows and Delusions of Grandeur Marshmallows and Delusions of Grandeur

Marshmallows and Delusions of Grandeur

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As a kid, I loved marshmallows. The way they turn golden brown over an open flame. Their powdery mouthfeel and sugary taste. And not to mention their effortless ability to perfectly smoosh together on top of a melted peanut butter cup (that’s right—even as a kid, my s’mores game was strong). Unfortunately, these puffy treats were ruined for me thanks to the marshmallow experiment. If you aren’t fa...


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More Than Just a Pretty Face More Than Just a Pretty Face

More Than Just a Pretty Face

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Celebrities are an interesting bunch. Some are ridiculously good looking. Others can jump insanely high or run incredibly fast. There are even a few who are famous simply because of their families. No matter what they’re known for, they all have one thing in common: They’re human, just like us. It’s way too easy to forget this when we see them on our TVs or smartphones. When they’re sailing throug...


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Celebrities and the Gift of Imagination Celebrities and the Gift of Imagination

Celebrities and the Gift of Imagination

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Why am I looking at pictures of Meghan Markle’s (oops, she’s now officially the Duchess of Sussex) hats? Who cares what she wore to the Royal Ascot? I scold myself as I take a break from work. But I can’t help myself. She’s beautiful and charming, and so clearly in love with her new husband – Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex for those of you who may have been orbiting the earth on the Space Statio...


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Growing Up White in America Growing Up White in America

Growing Up White in America

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“This teenager was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama…” The emcee at the Dr. Martin Luther King workshop paused his cadence to let the audience think of an answer. I missed the teenager clue and mentally filled in the blank with Rosa Parks, when he continued into the microphone, “…nine months before Rosa Parks.” My smug smile washed away. In my mind, Rosa Parks was...


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The Palpable Tension of Race Between Us The Palpable Tension of Race Between Us

The Palpable Tension of Race Between Us

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It’s a rainy day in San Francisco. The kind of rainy day when grey clouds blanket the world and her emotions. Umbrellas, rain jackets, and storefront awnings hide faces. The fog tangibly separates us. And we are connected only by our collective reflections on our individuality. I step out of the SF Museum of Modern Art, where I hadn’t made it past the top floor and it’s dramatic, diverse depiction...


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How Art Has Changed My Life How Art Has Changed My Life

How Art Has Changed My Life

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I was recently asked what experiencing a creative art taught me, if I could quantify its effect on my life, and what “good” came from it. As a self-proclaimed “arty farty” person, my first reaction is to soap box the importance of art in our culture.  How it shapes us and our reality.  How it’s used in marketing, film, politics, and is statistically proven as valuable for test scores and SAT’s. I ...


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What I Didn’t Know I Needed to Know What I Didn’t Know I Needed to Know

What I Didn’t Know I Needed to Know

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Like many others, I wasn’t able to escape craze surrounding Hamilton: An American Musicalthat has swept America in the last few years. Whether it’s the shock and novelty of rap in a major musical, the celebration of an unsung American hero, the brilliant character development, or the themes that keep recurring in unexpected places, it seems to be finding its way into American hearts on a host of l...


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The Gift of a Tender Heart The Gift of a Tender Heart

The Gift of a Tender Heart

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Despite how it sometimes seems when we focus on the negative, Americans still value kindness as a culture. Each person’s view on kindness may be a little different, but the idea is still in our framework as a people. No one has ever sat in a merging lane of a highway traffic jam forever. Someone will eventually let them in with a wave. Most children’s television programming regularly teaches ways ...


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Nice vs Kind Nice vs Kind

Nice vs Kind

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One of the many unintended side effects of becoming a parent is that you’re forced to develop a completely new relationship with the English language. I don’t mean that you’ll instantly gain an understanding of homophones, homonyms, and homographs – no such luck. What I mean is that you’ll learn that “sit on the couch” can mean a multitude of different things – ranging from the traditi...


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Conspiracy Theories and the Gift of Imagination Conspiracy Theories and the Gift of Imagination

Conspiracy Theories and the Gift of Imagination

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As humans, we need reasons behind everything. Every decision, every event; we’re like perpetual toddlers asking “why?” All. The. Time. Growing up in the information age, it’s hard to stop at the face value of anything. We must constantly pull at the threads, and they often lead to more questions and fewer answers. Questions such as: Why are we here? How much does our life truly matter? What ...


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Sympathy for Conspiracy Theorists Sympathy for Conspiracy Theorists

Sympathy for Conspiracy Theorists

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I asked my phone to define “conspiracy theory” and it said, “What conspiracy? There’s no conspiracy. Who told you that?” Actually, it told me that a conspiracy theory is “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event.” I have a confession to make. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I have sympathy for co...


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You Can’t Plan You Can’t Plan

You Can’t Plan

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Life is funny, isn’t it? From the beginning of my freshman year of high school, my goal was to be in the select Jazz Choir for my junior and senior year. It was going to happen. It didn’t matter that only 16 voices got selected. It didn’t matter that I needed to fit it into my schedule. I just KNEW. And when the roster was posted at the end of my sophomore year and my name was under the altos, my ...


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Why I Spent Four Years Pursuing a “Useless” Degree Why I Spent Four Years Pursuing a “Useless” Degree

Why I Spent Four Years Pursuing a “Useless” Degree

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Every once in a while it is nice when things don’t go according to plan. For me, those were my four years as an undergrad at the University of Illinois. I had entered college with the intention of pursuing a degree in International Studies. My concentration was in “Middle East Politics & Policy.” The plan was to go on to pursue a career in diplomacy, move to Washington D. C. and intern with th...


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My Actions & My Intent My Actions & My Intent

My Actions & My Intent

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In recent years, I have noticed a trend: my friends and acquaintances have been justifying their not-so-great actions with the phrase, “but I’m not a bad person.” To me, that is a particularly nondescript way of defining one’s self. Because at any given time, the sum of the things that do define you will be far smaller than the sum of the things that don’t. I am a 27-year-old man. I am not a 26-ye...


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The First and Only Rule of Being Good The First and Only Rule of Being Good

The First and Only Rule of Being Good

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Being a good person is simple. Like most things, people tend to overcomplicate it. They scour the internet or ask the smartest people they know (i.e. parents), hoping for the missing piece to the puzzle. But like I said, it’s pretty simple – all you have to do is pay attention to religion. I’ll admit, coming from someone who isn’t religious, this might seem like shaky advice. Now, I’m not sa...


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Discipline is the Path to Discipline Discipline is the Path to Discipline

Discipline is the Path to Discipline

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For many people, the word “discipline” is a negative. A disciplined person is not spontaneous or fun-loving. It seems like being disciplined means giving up freedom and joy. The truth is the opposite. Discipline is the path to freedom and joy. I play piano, acoustic guitar, and bass guitar. I love playing in bands. But learning to play a music instrument requires… you guessed it,...


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Self-Control and Social Media Self-Control and Social Media

Self-Control and Social Media

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There’s a word that has always been the difference between the successful and the hopeful: “how.” I know WHAT to do to achieve my goals, but I don’t necessarily know HOW to do it. Finding that “how” requires discipline… So HOW do you create that? There’s a lot involved in exploring this question. I’d like to start with the world of social media as an examp...


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Call Me Old-Fashioned Call Me Old-Fashioned

Call Me Old-Fashioned

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Call me old-fashioned, but I think technology is a little overrated. Yes, we can have pretty much anything we want delivered to us without even putting on pants. Yes, we don’t have to go through the hassle of making real friends when we can easily connect with people online. Yes, we don’t even need to know where we’re going before we get in the car. But just because we have unlimited power at our ...


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Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships

Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships

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For Dawud and the Muslim American Society’s mosque in Katy, Texas, it all started with pig races. Soon after the group purchased land in the Houston suburb in 2006, their neighbor, Craig Baker, began hosting pig races and selling tickets to his friends and members of the public. In time, some 300 spectators showed up every Friday evening corresponding precisely with the jummah prayers—the holiest ...


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Immigration and Identity Immigration and Identity

Immigration and Identity

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Who are you? What do you do? Where are you from? These are all questions of identity. How you answer these questions is the bedrock for how you see yourself, how you make decisions, and ultimately how you interact with the world. I’m a daughter. I’m a mother. I work in a non-profit. I’m from a rural community. I’m American. In my circles, in my community, those are acceptable answers to the questi...


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Living in a World of Mutual Display Living in a World of Mutual Display

Living in a World of Mutual Display

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The philosopher Charles Taylor once said that we live in a world of “mutual display.” I’m more and more convinced that he’s right. Whether I like it or not, I’m stuck and complicit in a system that encourages me to judge others according to what brands they’re wearing, what causes they’re supporting, how happy they look, and so much more—all in comparison to myself. And it forces me to ask: am I g...


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Anxiety and the Margins in my Life Anxiety and the Margins in my Life

Anxiety and the Margins in my Life

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It was a simple enough mistake—a small wrong curve that took me over the bridge into Manhattan instead of to my parking spot in Long Island City. But as soon as it happened, I began to lose my mind. By the time I landed on the other side of the Queensborough Bridge on E 60th Street, I was consumed with an overwhelming anxiety that took my breath away, forced me into shakes and tears, and left me f...


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Anxiety and the Little Things Anxiety and the Little Things

Anxiety and the Little Things

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Adulting is hard. There are the occasional perks—like having pie for breakfast. Recently, when our kids have asked, “how come YOU get to…and I don’t?” we’ve been using the response, “because we pay taxes.” It seems to work well. It doesn’t, however, touch the surface of explaining the level of stress and anxiety that adulting requires…sometimes pie for breakfast is the only way to get through the ...


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Family Matters Family Matters

Family Matters

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Growing up, I had a pretty normal childhood filled with little league games, family vacations, and in sixth grade…divorce. You may not think this last little tidbit is “normal,” but in today’s world, 40-50% of first-time marriages will end in divorce (the odds are greater among second and third marriages). I know this isn’t the most cheerful start to a post, but we’re all adults here. I just...


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The Perfectly-Sized Family? The Perfectly-Sized Family?

The Perfectly-Sized Family?

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I had it all planned—right down to where I was going to meet my future husband, when we were going to get married, and when we were going to start a family. I come from a large extended family, so growing up, family was everything. My mom stayed at home with all four of us girls until my baby sister, eleven years younger than me, was well into her elementary school career. For most of my childhood...


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Looking Back at Islam & the West Looking Back at Islam & the West

Looking Back at Islam & the West

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In our post-9/11 world, the relationship between the “West” and “Islam” is often misunderstood. Perceived contrasts and persistent stereotypes often have nothing to do with reality, and tensions continue to increase in our polarized world. As these biases against, and fear of, others becomes deeper ingrained, it is more important than ever to take a look at our shared past to consider how we might...


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Knowing Our History Without Repeating It Knowing Our History Without Repeating It

Knowing Our History Without Repeating It

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The release of the video of the tasing and arrest of NBA player Sterling Brown –over a parking violation. The Black Lives Matter movement. A decision by National Football League owners to mandate that their players on the field stand for the singing of the national anthem. We’d like to believe we have left slavery and its legacy behind. But I wonder, as I read these stories, how far behind we have...


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How Gratitude (Among Other Things) Can Combat Fear How Gratitude (Among Other Things) Can Combat Fear

How Gratitude (Among Other Things) Can Combat Fear

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What are you afraid of? The concept of “fear” will impart many different meanings for different people. Perhaps clowns, if you’re a child of the 80s. Or maybe heights for others. Possibly something more existential like dying, or what comes after – “the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns,” as Hamlet put it. However, as I’ve ruminated on the idea of fear lately, I’ve f...


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I Have a Fear of Jumping I Have a Fear of Jumping

I Have a Fear of Jumping

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It’s not a fear of falling I struggle with. I am not afraid to fall. I am afraid to jump. We all have those little snippets of memories from when we were kids. I remember being in a park with my Mom. We were across the street from our house at a playground in the suburbs of Chicago, and we were playing on one of those wooden playhouse structures that has a ladder and a little house at the top and ...


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Talking Bias Talking Bias

Talking Bias

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Understanding implicit bias can be an extremely difficult task for most people. It requires a degree of self-awareness and a willingness to admit that, sometimes, many of our daily interactions with other people are colored by prejudice, even when we mean well. Nobody wants to own up to assuming that a person is less intelligent because of their hair color, or less capable because of their age, or...


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Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking

Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking

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When people look at me, they generally don’t wonder if I’m a criminal. I’ve never had a security guard follow me around a store afraid I might steal something. I’ve never had a police officer mistake my cell phone for a gun. If I were on trial for a crime, I would be less likely to be convicted and, if I were convicted, I would probably get a lighter sentence. As a white woman from the suburbs, I’...


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Tolerance of a Deeper Sort Tolerance of a Deeper Sort

Tolerance of a Deeper Sort

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As I grew up, I learned that respect comes in different forms. I’m supposed to respect my elders (age has its privileges; assume the older are also wiser). I’m supposed to respect the American flag (don’t let it touch the ground). I’m supposed to respect the wilderness (leave it as if it were untouched). One of my challenges—and perhaps not only mine—is that I have a hard time separating respect f...


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Can I Respect and Disagree with Grandma? Can I Respect and Disagree with Grandma?

Can I Respect and Disagree with Grandma?

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My Grandma is my favorite person on the planet. She is 89 and she lives alone. She never learned to drive because she and my Grandpa lived in Chicago for most of their lives and she could take the bus to do anything she needed in the city. When my mother and her siblings were growing up, my Grandma would take them to baseball games and movies and would sneak beer in for herself. When I was little,...


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Is Peace Waiting Beneath Our Stress? Is Peace Waiting Beneath Our Stress?

Is Peace Waiting Beneath Our Stress?

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What is peace?  And is it possible to experience real peace? I don’t have any easy answers to these questions… I don’t really know much about much. Like most 30-somethings, I’m filled with more questions and confusion than ever. Including questions about peace. Questions I know will never be answered. Questions I’ll continue to ask in the hope of getting closer to an answer, while accepting ...


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Finding Peace through People and Purpose Finding Peace through People and Purpose

Finding Peace through People and Purpose

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Judging by the emails, television commercials, and online ads we see, I suspect Americans are in a perpetual quest for serenity. We are flooded with suggestions about how to find it, like… Head for that Pacific island or New Hampshire lake, and find healing silence. Practice mindful meditation and leave anxiety behind. Put away the electronics thirty minutes before you go to bed (maybe those...


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Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context

Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context

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Summers in Northern California were truly incredible. It was always hot enough to go swimming, rarely so hot that you needed AC, and there was always something to do. You could wear shorts during the day and sweats at night. My hometown of Richmond, CA is a WWII industrial town just minutes from Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin County. We were on the water, in the heart of the ‘hood, an...


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Feeling Green, Not Guilt Feeling Green, Not Guilt

Feeling Green, Not Guilt

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Disclaimer: This post is not for the lover of Excel charts or anyone who is drawn to lists on legal pads. It is not for people who own label makers and also put them to use. It is for the people who find a reminder note buried in a pile, accomplish it even though it is three years late, and mentally check it off as a grand victory. This post is not for the eco-warrior—although, kudos to you. This ...


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“I’m Bringing Sexy Back” “I’m Bringing Sexy Back”

“I’m Bringing Sexy Back”

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Like most millennials (and every other human on Earth), I think about sex. A lot. Not in the “constantly-horny-teenager-going-through-puberty” kind of way; it’s more of a “I-feel-like-a-scientist-because-I’m-so-curious-to-know-what-other-people-think-about-this-basic-human-need” kind of thing. Growing up, society tells us that we’re gross, perverted, and should keep our thoughts to ourselves. I do...


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Healthy sex—do we know what it is? Healthy sex—do we know what it is?

Healthy sex—do we know what it is?

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Sex. It is everywhere, and it is a part of all of us. Having it, not having it, wishing we were having it, never having it done correctly, being addicted to it, even being paid for it. We all are classified by how we identify with one, none, or even multiple genders. It seems to pervade every layer of political discussion and color most interactions to some degree.  Who we are is somewhat defined ...


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Jumping Off the Comparison Treadmill Jumping Off the Comparison Treadmill

Jumping Off the Comparison Treadmill

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“You’re so slim,” said the athletically-built woman sitting across the table from me at a local lunch spot. I told her how much I weighed. “But you are so tiny,” she persevered.  I reminded her that I’m 5’ 8’ and have size 12 feet (don’t judge). “I know, I’m shrinking,” she said. Who was she seeing as she sipped her bowl of soup? It didn’t seem to be me, I thought. By any objective standard, my fr...


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Learning Compassion Over Comparison Learning Compassion Over Comparison

Learning Compassion Over Comparison

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I stopped comparing myself to others around 2 years ago. It wasn’t a decision I set out to make. It started when I decided to love myself. I never felt comfortable in my own body. I’ve been taught to compare my body to bodies around me, as well as to super model bodies and cartoon bodies, and my body just never lived up to those ideals. I would constantly compare my body to everyone el...


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Hope is How We Cope Hope is How We Cope

Hope is How We Cope

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Are you an optimist? I know I am. I’ve always been the glass-half-full kind of person. If I had to guess, it’s probably because I consider myself to be pretty lucky. This luck doesn’t just appear out of thin air—I constantly look for new opportunities to put myself out there. While doing this, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t tell myself, “Everything is going to be OK.” After hearing t...


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“You’re my only hope.” “You’re my only hope.”

“You’re my only hope.”

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“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Early in George Lucas’s epic work, we see a hologram of Princess Leia begging the old hermit Ben Kenobi for help. When George Lucas wrote the prequels several years later, Qui-Gon Jin was convinced that Anakin, the little boy who would eventually become the baddest villain in the galaxy, was the hope that would bring balance to the Force. In the late...


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Breaking News? Breaking News?

Breaking News?

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“Breaking news.” I don’t know about you, but I find myself increasingly unable, in a networked world, to figure out exactly what that means. A gunman in France holding people hostage. The President’s latest tweet. A vote on a budget. The scores from the NCAA tournament. They are all accessible online. Because I’m a journalist (or that’s my excuse anyway), I have a multitude of news apps on my phon...


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Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards

Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards

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I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, watching the Berlin wall fall down when I was ten. My mom told me stories about safety drills in the 1960s, when she and her classmates would hide under desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Fortunately this was not my reality, and I was able to blissfully continue on with my childhood as if big threats were a thing of the past. Over the next 20 years, ...


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Seeing Myself as Never Truly Alone Seeing Myself as Never Truly Alone

Seeing Myself as Never Truly Alone

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We live in a lonely world. Some people have even said that despite (and maybe even because of) our global and immediate connectivity online and on our smartphones and tablets, we are experiencing a “loneliness epidemic.” It’s strange, but even as we live in a world where we are bombarded with people at work, in school, on the streets, at the movies, or on social media feeds with hundreds, or thous...


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Loneliness breeds loneliness. Loneliness breeds loneliness.

Loneliness breeds loneliness.

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I am 13 years old. School ended three hours ago, three hours that I have been sitting in my dad’s office—finishing homework, instant messaging, scrolling the internet, and waiting. Three months in, I should be used to this everyday routine by now. But I’m 13 and I want to go home. Not to the thirty-minutes away from school and work and community, too-small home we are currently renting—no. Home. 2...


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Old Friends, New Friends, and the Lonely Spaces In-Between Old Friends, New Friends, and the Lonely Spaces In-Between

Old Friends, New Friends, and the Lonely Spaces In-Between

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My family made four cross-country moves before I turned 18. I don’t remember the move from California to Michigan because I was just a toddler. The move from Michigan to Illinois was a mixture of excitement for something new and sadness because I quickly missed my friends of eight years. The next two moves, when I was 11 and 16, turned my already naturally introverted personality into that of a hu...


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Finding Your Own Happiness Finding Your Own Happiness

Finding Your Own Happiness

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Relationships are like plane crashes. Let me rephrase that: relationships are like preparing for plane crashes. Still with me? Great! Allow me to explain. If you’ve ever been on a plane, then you have also had to sit through the choreographed safety demonstration that the flight attendants perform with painful smiles. At this point, you may have even memorized it. Personally, I can’t help but focu...


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We aren’t defined by the chaos around us. We aren’t defined by the chaos around us.

We aren’t defined by the chaos around us.

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A mile or so down the road from where I live, there is a county-run farm. From the road, all you can see are fields by the entrance road—abundantly green in the spring and the summer, brown and trimmed in the fall and wintertime.  Across the road, a home sits in the distance, a horse pasture in front of it and an old farmhouse nearby. It’s charming. In certain lights, it’s so beautiful that I (men...


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Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace

Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace

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What has happened to all the role models? It seems like they’ve started dropping like flies. In light of the recent sexual assault allegations in particular, it feels like the “good” ones are being proven just as bad as anyone else. In other words, they’re not who we thought they were. Have you heard the saying, “never meet your heroes”? Meeting your heroes humanizes them—their capes come off and ...


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How to Mentor—Lessons from Eboo Patel How to Mentor—Lessons from Eboo Patel

How to Mentor—Lessons from Eboo Patel

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Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of grabbing coffee with Eboo Patel. A social entrepreneur based out of Chicago, Eboo is the founder and executive director of one of the fastest growing and most influential non-profits in the world, the Interfaith Youth Core. From time to time, Eboo and I get together to catch up and talk about what is going on in our lives. As we’ve met over ...


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The Superpower of Representation The Superpower of Representation

The Superpower of Representation

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When I was in the third grade, a film came out and my classmates and I couldn’t have been more excited. This film was the latest installment in a series that our moms and dads grew up with. It took place in a far-off land. There were epic battle scenes, fun characters, and who could forget the score? The film was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. I know the prequels get a lot of vitriol and...


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Line Leading is Leading Us Astray Line Leading is Leading Us Astray

Line Leading is Leading Us Astray

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Life is full of big moments. The moment you find the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, the moment you buy your first house (OK, maybe not in this economy), and even the moment you snag your first job. As important as these moments are, nothing means more than a single moment that comes way before any of us are ready: The first time your teacher chooses you to be the line lea...


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“Take a chance on me!” “Take a chance on me!”

“Take a chance on me!”

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A friend of mine who is in the job market just shared a bit of frustration with me: almost every position that is advertised, he said, is requiring 3-5 years of experience. My friend looked me in the eye and asked, point blank with a bit of despair, “how am I supposed to get any experience if I can’t get hired in the first place?” A good question. My friend’s experience brought back my own memorie...


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Serving Means Sitting Serving Means Sitting

Serving Means Sitting

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Let’s play a game of word association. When I say “SERVING,” what do you think of? Perhaps the waiter who forgot your side of Sriracha. Someone employed as a member of the armed services. Painting someone’s house. Delivering a meal to a shut-in. Organizing a car-wash for charity. We tend to relate serving with standing up, springing into action, and getting things done. And rightly so. Serving req...


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A Heart for Service A Heart for Service

A Heart for Service

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Recently, I had a flood of sudden memories about a compliment that so many people gave me in my early life—they told me I had a heart for service. A thrill of excitement and acknowledgment would run through me every year or so when someone would say this. It meant people were watching me, were taking stock of the way I do things, and they had decided that I had a gift. A God-given gift. A gift for...


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In This Sandwich, a Lesson. In This Sandwich, a Lesson.

In This Sandwich, a Lesson.

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Children are to be seen, and not to be heard. It’s the phrase that defined the parenting philosophies of multiple generations of mothers and fathers. Simply put, children were expected to be as close to invisible as humanly possible. It didn’t mean that children were expected to simply be quiet; we were expected to be undemanding, passive, and malleable. We were the property of our parents, and in...


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Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn

Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn

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“Huh?” “What did you say?” “What?” When we want to make fun of our dad, these are the words that we use. While it may not be funny that my father is hard of hearing, it is pretty humorous that sometimes when my mom and dad are talking, it’s a constant back-and-forth of these words. “Huh?” “What?” “I didn’t catch that.” And it’s not that my father is the only one with a problem. Ask my wife and she...


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Feeling Awkward? Don’t give up. Feeling Awkward? Don’t give up.

Feeling Awkward? Don’t give up.

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Have you ever avoided talking to someone who was different from you because you thought it would be awkward or uncomfortable? If so, you’re not alone. People often expect such interactions to go poorly. Thinking about interacting with someone who is different from us can make us feel anxious and stressed, so we often do what we can to avoid it. The same differences between people that can lead to ...


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Do we make faith too complicated? Do we make faith too complicated?

Do we make faith too complicated?

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If you ask me, religion has a funny way of complicating things. For example, take something as straightforward as faith. I don’t necessarily mean faith in the religious sense; I’m simply referring to the idea of trusting in someone. Can someone be faithful and not religious? Is faith reserved for those that believe in and practice a specific religion? Can those of us that don’t identify with a rel...


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Faith in a God Who’s Subtle Faith in a God Who’s Subtle

Faith in a God Who’s Subtle

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In one sense, I’m probably a great person to talk about faith in God, because it’s been a huge part of my life for…well, most of my life. For that same reason, I realize that doesn’t make me very objective. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God, or believe it was important to learn to trust him. I’ve always thought he was there. I’ve always thought he cared. I’ve always thought he w...


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My Changing Faith My Changing Faith

My Changing Faith

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I considered myself a Christian for many years. I was raised in a very Christian community. Everyone was a Christian. I won’t say faith was a huge topic of discussion—more of an idea taken for granted within the community. Faith was something everyone told me to have, but no one told me how to get. I spent most of my Christian years ‘having faith’ that faith would come to me. For me it...


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Staying Friends Staying Friends

Staying Friends

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Making friends as an adult is hard. I got really lucky when I met a woman at work and she and I instantly bonded. I honestly hadn’t had many female friends up until that point and it was exciting. I had never had anyone to go shopping with me or just kick it on a Friday night. When my friend started dating a drug addict, I didn’t know what to do. I’m not the kind of person who can stay quiet about...


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Why can’t we be friends? Why can’t we be friends?

Why can’t we be friends?

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A month from now, my best friend of over a decade will move several thousand miles away from me. I’m not thrilled about it, but he is pursuing his dream. As someone who has been there from the beginning, I think it would be selfish to try to keep him close for my own convenience. I’m happy for the guy. He’s got an unparalleled work ethic, and in my opinion, there’s no one more deserving of the opp...


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The Consequences of Not Making a Difference The Consequences of Not Making a Difference

The Consequences of Not Making a Difference

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I was eleven when I first read Number the Stars, my first introduction to the 20th-century atrocity known as the Holocaust. I was fourteen when Schindler’s List won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I was sixteen when I watched it for the first time, finally receiving permission from my parents to watch it with my AP US history class. I was nineteen when my World Civilization professor preached ...


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The Content of Haitian Character The Content of Haitian Character

The Content of Haitian Character

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Add me to the list of people bristling over the recent words of the President of the United States of America. I don’t consider myself an especially political person; I did not vote for Trump or Clinton. My thoughts today are a discussion of human dignity and human rights as much as they are a response to an insensitive statement made by the leader of the free world. The people of Haiti were broug...


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Missing in Action—The Voices We Don’t Hear Missing in Action—The Voices We Don’t Hear

Missing in Action—The Voices We Don’t Hear

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Last month, I researched a story on churches and the problem of sexual harassment and assault. As I proceeded, it became clear that voices were missing in the national dialogue we were having; those of African-American women and other minorities.  (I reached out to a prominent African-American scholar to ask why – but that’s another story!) Ironic, isn’t it, that while a black woman launched the #...


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Responding to an apology—do words matter? Responding to an apology—do words matter?

Responding to an apology—do words matter?

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Have you noticed how much we seem to police our speech these days? It seems we’re constantly told what we should or should not say, what’s appropriate or inappropriate. And we’re held to a high standard. Some mistakes are costly. In the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege to travel to Europe a few times. I’m always glad to go England, because they speak English there. While I’ve studied other la...


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When Baggage Is My Comfort Zone When Baggage Is My Comfort Zone

When Baggage Is My Comfort Zone

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Why is it so hard to let go? I mean, I can SAY I forgive you… I can actually think I do… but then we’re all at the table for family dinner night with the extended relatives. Of course, my brother says a single thing and I am suddenly triggered as if by a hypnotist’s finger snap. Suddenly I’m 11 years old again. Everything is unfair and I see the world in a haze of emotional-vomit-tinted glasses. L...


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When “Work” and “Life” Merge Into “Living” When “Work” and “Life” Merge Into “Living”

When “Work” and “Life” Merge Into “Living”

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I have very full days. I work full time, I’m a mom to a kindergartner, I’m a wife, I try to be active in my community—in other words, I’m not unlike lots of folks who juggle a lot on any given day. Take my to-do list from last Thursday, for example. Some of my tasks between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. included the following: dropping my son off at school, writing a client’s strategic plan, a walk arou...


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“Go get a real job.” “Go get a real job.”

“Go get a real job.”

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“Stop wasting time and go work for an insurance company or some other desk job. Everyone in your generation is so goddamn lazy and entitled!” I will never forget these words, mainly because my stepmom yelled them through a door I’d slammed shut moments before. This was during a pivotal time in my life: I had just graduated and was forced to move back in with my parents — sound familiar? After mont...


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What Happens When I Make Rest a Priority What Happens When I Make Rest a Priority

What Happens When I Make Rest a Priority

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It seems that every time someone tries to make plans with me, I’m busy. There’s always a work project, a kid’s event, a birthday, a networking meeting, a webinar, or something else going on that keeps me from fully detaching and just relaxing, with or without friends. Doesn’t it seem that we have to work for our relaxation now? We have to prepare for it, plan it, and always...