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Archive for June, 2009

It has been exactly a week since I last shampooed my hair.

WAIT!

Where are you going?

Don’t run away!!!

At least let me explain. And then I’ll tell you how it fits the title of this post (sort of).

It all began with my reading an innocent article about how some people don’t use shampoo. I must confess that I had never considered this possibility before. Some experts say that shampoo does more harm than good by stripping the hair and scalp of their oils, which are supposedly self-cleaning and naturally anti-viral. To counteract the damage of shampoo, we use conditioner, mousse, gel, hairspray, etc. etc. etc., and then need shampoo to get the gunk out again, and the cycle continues… But shampooing the oil out of it only causes the scalp to produce more and overcompensate. This is why our hair look “gross” after only a few days of not shampooing.

The idea behind going w/o shampoo (the “no ‘poo” route, as it is known in some Internet circles) is that eventually, after an adjustment period that can take days or weeks, depending on the individual, the hair can achieve its natural equilibrium again, looking healthier and happier than ever before.

SO…I’ve been going without shampoo, and it is, indeed, an adjustment period. Of course, you don’t need to take only my word for it. There are plenty of other resources out there , and I’m only too willing to show them to you. After some Internet research, it seems that a paste or solution of baking soda and water can be used as a sort-of cleanser (not every day—a couple times a week at most, I think), and once that is rinsed out, use apple cider vinegar on the ends of the hair as a natural conditioner. There’s also info about using raw eggs, olive oil, and even salt as occasional natural cleansers, but I haven’t tried any of these yet, though I can attest to the effectiveness of the soda. By Saturday evening, the oil in my hair was nearly beyond endurance. I made a paste of baking soda and water and let it sit in my roots for a few minutes before rinsing it out. It successfully brought the oil down to a bearable level, and my hair looked pretty great the next day—as in, I got compliments from people who didn’t know what I was doing. I think I’m still in the adjustment phase, however. So far I’ve styled it normally, I’ve hidden it under a headband-scarf, and I’ve also done the scrunching-up-the-hair-to-get-waves thing, but that ends up being slightly inappropriate for work. And by ‘inappropriate’ I of course mean ‘terrifying.’

There’s also the “Use less plastic!” and “Use only natural products!” motives for “No ‘Poo” but those aren’t priorities for me. Although I am a fan of recycling whenever possible. I think that conservation, recycling, and reducing waste is all part of our responsibility as Christians to be good stewards of the earth that God created. But as a die-hard free-market capitalist, I don’t think that any such behavior should come from government regulation. (Whoops, where did that soapbox come from???)

But even my mother, who is vehemently opposed to anything hippie-ish and believes that blue jeans and the Beatles directly contributed to the decline of Western civilization, was fascinated and rather supportive when I told her about this scheme. She said it made sense to her—and she’s in the medical field.

But WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Most of the “No ‘Poo” blogs and web sites will not tell you about another aspect of the experience, and this is where the post title comes in! Going without shampoo and observing the subsequent changes in my hair has also taught me something about vanity, prejudice, pride, and vulnerability.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really vain about my hair, and it’s been a challenge to my pride to do something like this. I hate the fact that I’ve gone to work, or to church, or whatever, knowing that something is slightly off, that I don’t look the absolute best that I possibly could. And there’s a certain vulnerability to that, as well.

Guess what, girls! It’s okay not to look your best! Of course, looking good can often lead to feeling good, but you can’t always be at the top of your game, right? Knowing you don’t look 100% fabulous (only, say, 98%) can help you focus on other, more important things: like Jesus, and relationships that matter, and your job here on earth. At least, that’s how it worked for me. We are imperfect human beings. And I realized, wow, most other people don’t care! Now, I didn’t blast into my office this morning and shout that my hair hasn’t been shampooed in a week, but no one has said anything (though it’s a quiet office) or treated me like a leper. Lesson learned: No one is as concerned about how you look as you are.

I would definitely encourage any ladies reading this to give up something, even for a day, that brings out vain and prideful tendencies. Let yourself be a little vulnerable, and see what happens with your priorities. Observe where your focus goes, instead.

I’m also learning patience in getting through this very oily time, as my hair achieves equilibrium. Though when I make up my mind to do something, I’m usually pretty tenacious anyway.

So that’s what I’ve learned so far. I’m sure there are other, deeper life lessons to be learned from this, but I’m too tired to figure them out right now. I’ll post updates if I think they’re significant enough.

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No, I’m not talking about cheating spouses or boyfriends, or cheating at cards, or on tests, or on your taxes.

I’m talking about cheating on Friday Frivolity, because the following video isn’t exactly frivolous.

Many of you may not be interested in the Cap & Trade bill that is currently under debate in Congress, but I am—and this video and its song are funny. And true. So there.

All right, all right. To make up for it, here’s a video by the same guy, recently featured on several news media outlets, and especially funny for those who live in the DC area, as I do. Even if you don’t, it should be worth a chuckle.

Happy Friday, as usual. Especially for me, since I’m done with work. 😀

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So, it has been a good week. A relaxing start to a new quarter after a pretty hectic (though pleasant!) week off. By way of getting back in to this whole blogging thing (thanks Em, for keeping my memory alive on this site), I’d like to share some of the reasons (and one revelation!) which made the week a bit brighter. 
 
1.) I took a very long walk in a yellow dress and ate pastel colored ice-cream. Which was delicious and beautiful. 
 
2.) I ran in to an elderly man on the bus (not literally, don’t worry) whom I had met when I was visiting churches earlier this year. He still manages to remember my name, and he must be in his seventies or eighties. I can’t remember things over that long a period and I don’t have nearly that many years of memories in my head. He’s a sweet man who asks good questions and doesn’t hold it against me that I chose a different church. All of this is very appreciated, and made me thankful and glad.
 
3.) During the aforementioned walk I was pondering and realized how often I imagine that God and I are on different sides. THIS IS NOT TRUE. We were opposed to him and stood against him, but through Jesus we are reconciled to him. He’s wanted the best for us all along. And not an “eat your veggies, they taste bad, so they must be good for you” kind of best, but a really really life abundant BEST! He wants us to succeed! I know this is pretty basic, but it’s amazing the difference it makes. God wants me to make it. He isn’t waiting for me to think an impure or selfish thought, miss out on a chance to talk about him, or slip into self pity. He doesn’t go off in a huff at every misstep or make me wallow in pain when I slip up. Rather, he’s cheering for the successes and helping me repent and get back up after the times which are not so successful. What a relief.
 
So, those are my lovely moments for the week. It does help so much to fill one’s head with good things rather than just trying to keep out the bad. I guess St. Paul knew of what he spoke when he wrote: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
 
I’m thanking God for random beauties and refreshing revelations.
 

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FINALLY! It took me FOREVER to get the formatting on this thing the way I wanted it, and I had to resort to primitive methods. Anyway, we’re up and running now.

I will freely admit that the Internet does not need another Twilight website or commentary, whether pro- or anti-. I know this. I can’t help it. There’s something I have to address, particularly because I have yet to see others make the same observation to my satisfaction.

Full disclosure: I hate Twilight the book. Now, I enjoy the movie in a so-bad-it’s-funny, at-least-it’s-got-more-of-a-plot, kind of way. But I am not a fan by any stretch of the imagination. Many a person, whether it be a soccer mom or a youth pastor or a semi-moral teenage girl with half a brain in her head, has praised Twilight for its morality, for its message of abstinence. Whether you have bought into this idea or not, or haven’t even read the book yet, let me clear something up:

Twilight does not demonstrate real abstinence. If you are looking for a book that truly advocates an admirable, true-love-waits, selfless approach to sex, look elsewhere.

Giving credit where credit is due, the main characters don’t have sex until they’re married. Sarcasm aside, good for them—or rather, the author. As a morally (not necessarily politically) conservative Christian, I can get on board with that. But the book’s version no-sex-before-marriage only follows the letter of the law, while the spirit gets broken willy-nilly. Setting aside other problems within Edward and Bella’s relationship—and there are many, as a number of other websites have discussed—I was honestly disturbed after I decided to check out Twilight, having heard so many good things about it, its charming love story and surprisingly moral message.

So how about I get down to business and actually talk about what my big problem is?

While the main characters do practice abstinence in that they don’t have sex, they do other things that rather defeat the purpose. The whole idea behind the practice of abstinence is to maintain a safe physical and emotional distance between two people before they come together in a sanctified marriage relationship, in honor of both God and each other.

Song of Solomon 3:5 Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, / by the gazelles and wild deer, / not to awaken love until the time is right.

Practicing this demonstrates not only obedience to God, but respect for the other person. I do believe that there is a little, ahem, “wiggle room” in the extent to which two people can practice abstinence—that is, how far is too far. (And obviously, there is forgiveness in Christ for outright sin.) Certain things are more of a temptation for some people than for others, which is something that Christians should learn about themselves long before they have to make a rational decision in the heat of the moment. For obvious reasons, this isn’t decided on by experimentation, but by prayer and diving into God’s word.

So what does this have to do with Edward and Bella?

Edward takes Bella into the woods and completely isolates them from anyone else. It is there that he informs her of his vampirism, that he has killed people before, and he desperately wants to drink her blood because she is so beautiful and tempting. They then experiment with physical contact, seeing how far they can go before Edward loses control. Obviously, he doesn’t, but the ends do not justify the means. Do you swing an axe in a crowded room and then say, “Well, I didn’t cut anyone’s head off, so it’s all good.” No—you swung an axe in a crowded room. You’re a moron.

What if Edward hadn’t kept control? They don’t know what the line-not-to-cross is—they’re both new at this “twoo wuv”/romance/sex thing. Well, Bella would have been gobbled up and the series would have ended much sooner than it does now—and many people would be okay with that. In which case, Twilight would be a nice cautionary tale of what happens when you aren’t cautious enough. But if, in this book, vampirism is a metaphor for sex, then they are being completely irresponsible, selfish, and just plain stupid.

Would you honestly, HONESTLY go into the woods with a suspected murderer, only to have him confirm those suspicions, and then proceed to make out with you, just to see if he can control himself and not kill you? Even if he told you outright that you are a heady temptation? And if his record so far is not exactly spotless on the not-killing thing? Guy or girl, why would you allow yourself to enter into such a situation? How could someone take advantage of another person like this, attempting to fulfill their sensual desires as much as possible without crossing what becomes a very ambiguous line? This is putting not only oneself at risk of physical and emotional hurt, but the other party involved.

Matthew 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

During their first sexless “love scene,” Bella says, “I was afraid… because, for, well, obvious reasons, I can’t stay with you. And I’m afraid that I’d like to stay with you, much more than I should.”

To which Edward replies, “That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That’s really not in your best interest.” And then later adds, “It’s not only your company I crave! Never forget that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.”

A little later, in describing the first time he saw her, Edward speaks the words that should have sent Bella running and screaming—away:

“In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow…I so very nearly took you then. There was only one other frail human there — so easily dealt with.”

Unfortunately, Bella does NOT run screaming. Instead:

I knew at any moment it could be too much, and my life could end — so quickly that I might not even notice. And I couldn’t make myself be afraid. I couldn’t think of anything, except that he was touching me.

OK, that is as far as I’ll go into the physical aspects, but there are other things that concern me.

The damage, real or potential, is not only physical, but emotional. Although I haven’t read past the first book, from what I’ve read/heard elsewhere, there is something of a love triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob (even though it’s well established that Edward wins out). Surely there would not be any indecisiveness in Bella’s mind if she was absolutely certain that Edward was the murdering, bloodsucking vampire for HER. (As opposed to the murdering, half-animal werewolf Jacob. Such options! What is a girl to do? /sarcasm)

The fact that she’s indecisive probably means that she’s not sure that Edward is the one—which is good, considering that she’s 17 or so. But if she’s not certain, if they’re not married, then the make-outs, the emotional bonding, the abandon-all-others attitudes and actions that she and Edward demonstrate are all clearly premature and could have serious emotional and physical consequences.

“Bella, you are my life now,” Edward says in the movie. (Does he also say it in the book? I’m not sure.) This is a pretty heavy declaration for two people who have known each other for, at most, a few months. In high school. (Although technically Edward is over 100 years old, and only looks 17, but again, the massive age difference is pretty much the least of their problems.)

Lying in bed together, pouring out their hearts and souls to each other (chapter 14), is also not a good recipe for staving off premature intimacy. I’m just saying…

Lest anyone think I’m getting too legalistic here, I’ll leave you with

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

And

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

A blessed week to you all!

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Good morning, good morning, and happy Friday! My stars, it seems like I have the blog all to myself (*ahem ahem*). Oh, dear.

Well, my wonderful readers, as the title suggests, today I’m taking you on a little vacation back in time, with the help of the Internet and a dash of my crazy history geekness. We’ll take a look at lost arts. And by “we’ll take a look at,” of course I mean, “You will click on these links about.”

First, Marie Antoinette’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century has a brief blog post about Letter-Writing

Next, we have a website with some tips on Fan Language, which was popular in the Victorian era, as well as a couple centuries back. In the early 1700s, Joseph Addison wrote “Academy for the Instruction in the Use of the Fan,” which can be seen here. I’ve posted my favorite bit below:

The Fluttering of the Fan is the last, and indeed the master-piece of the whole Exercise; but if a lady does not misspend her time, she may make herself mistress of it in three months. I generally lay aside the dog-days and the hot time of the summer for the teaching this part of the Exercise; for as soon as ever I pronounce Flutter your Fans, the place is fill’d with so many zephyrs and gentle breezes as are very refreshing in that season of the year, tho’ they might be dangerous to ladies of a tender constitution in any other.

Lastly, take a gander at this page chock-full of etiquette and rules for being a proper Victorian lady. How many of these have you kept/broken today? Here are some examples:

Limit Your Observations. A boisterous, loud-talking man is disagreeable enough, but a woman who falls into the habit is almost unendurable.

Be not Excessively Frank. Do not take pride in offensively expressing yourself on every occasion under the impression that you will be admired for your frankness. Speaking one’s mind is an extravagance, which has ruined many a person.

Laugh at the Appropriate Time. Don’t laugh when a funny thing is being said until the climax is reached. Do not laugh at your own wit; allow others to do that.

Also, note that apparently ladies are not friends with *shudder* men.

Greet Friends with Discretion. A lady does not call out to friends or inquire after their health in a boisterous fashion. Ladies do not rush up to each other and kiss effusively. It is a foolish practice for ladies to kiss each other every time they meet, particularly on the street. It is positively vulgar; a refined woman shrinks from any act that makes her conspicuous. Such practice belongs rather to the period of “gush” natural to very young girls and should be discouraged on physiological grounds, if no other.

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This post was going to start out in a very rambling, unfocused style, but let me first point out one important thing, so that what I say makes sense. Stuff Christians Like has a great post today about how powerful God is: almost all powerful. Go read it, and then meet me back here.

I’ll wait …

Anyway, that blog got me thinking—which is a good thing, because I finally got the message that God seems to have been pushing to me for a while now.

I will be honest: There’s a lot going on in my life right now, spiritually, physically, occupationally, socially, etc. I’ve been praying about all these different concerns, but I still worry about them. And then there’s the things going on in the lives of others that I’m also praying for and concerned about. Sometimes it seems like prayer gets me nowhere—why is that?

Well, staying worried makes the prayers rather pointless—since obviously I’m not truly giving up my own concerns, plans, and power, and I’m not fully trusting THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE Who, by the way, HAS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ME, to care enough to get done what needs to be done, His way. If I say “Please God, help so-and-so with this-and-this,” but I still worry about it, I haven’t given Him the problem to take care of. I’m just speaking words without actually trusting that He’s going to take care of it. I’m still ruminating and wondering what I can do about it. The words alone are then meaningless.

This spills into my daily life, when I worry about too much. It builds up and builds up until I almost forget that God has any power at all over what happens to me, that I am, in fact, not subject to the whims of fate. Kind of like what I said in my post on fear, worrying takes the focus off God, and can prevent us from living the full life in Him that He desires for us.

Do any of these sound familiar?

If I don’t get into this grad school program, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I can’t be late for this meeting or I’ll lose my job and then where will I be?
If this guy isn’t interested in me, then I’ll probably never get married.
I have to get this promotion, or there won’t be another opportunity and my life will be over.
If I don’t find the ingredients for this recipe I’m making for this party, I’ll be a social outcast.
I can’t survive without my family/pet/best friend within easy reach.

Yes, some of these are exaggerated, and some sound kind of funny, but how often do we actually think like this? (And as one who leans toward the melodramatic, I know I do this a lot.)

Does God not care? Is He incapable of handling the situation?

Guess what: Neither. He’s got it all under control. He loves you. He is not under the same restrictions as you are. Just chill. He will give you what you need, tell you what you need to know, and get you where you need to be. All when you need it. In the meantime, we are called to trust Him, love others, and be obedient.

If things don’t go as we planned, does that also mean things aren’t going as God planned?

(Hint: No.)

On that note, have some Scripture:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

For I am the Lord your God, Who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
Isaiah 41:13

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Psalm 55:22

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
Lamentations 3:24-25

I am the Vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

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First of all, let’s give a big, warm, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!” to my dear co-blogger and fellow Ox, Bethany! THIS IS OUR YEAR!!

I think I’m cheating here, because usually for Friday Frivolity I just post/link and let it go. This time, however, I just can’t not say anything about this article on flirting.

My favorite part was this paragraph:

Our flirtability has a lot to do with how we are socialized as children, says Lisa Gray, a Livermore marriage and family therapist. “If ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ was a big part of your upbringing, it might affect you when it comes to flirting as an adult,” she explains. Also, because flirting is a confidence booster and a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, some people who are shy might not reap the benefits.

Why was this my favorite part? Because it was the only one I could relate to, aaahahaha!!

I think I had flirting scared out of me in college, because much of the school’s (small) predominantly Christian-conservative population was firmly entrenched in the “courtship” camp. This was a constant source of discussion and frustration among my friends and myself. All we wanted was the opportunity to go out for coffee with a guy without half the school thinking we were engaged.*

*This is not an exaggeration.

The article, by the way, is correct about flirting not having to be intentional. Once, at my previous job in a doctor’s office, I flirted with a drug rep and got a free box of Band-Aids. True story.

Also, I sincerely hope that the photo “demonstrations” at the right of the screen are exaggerations, because she looks insane. Delightfully so, but still insane.

What’s that? Not frivolous enough for you? OK, well, I wanted to put in a YouTube video with one of my favorite British comedians—though I should just say “favorite comedians” because, anglophile that I am, you can just assume he’s British unless I say otherwise—but there was a naughty word in it that I almost forgot about, so I thought that, even though we’re all adults here, it might not be appropriate for this blog. I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.

In the meantime, though, please enjoy this song from the pilot episode of ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’ from the 80s, starring a very, very young Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.



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