An Interview with Myself

I’ve been thinking about how I should format this first blog post in TWO MONTHS.

The best thing I can come up with to make it as concise yet comprehensive as possible is to do a sort of “interview” with myself.

First of all: how are you? It’s been quite the summer year so far. I consistently feel like the gif of Elmo in a sea of fire. It hits deep.

So here’s the interview with myself, in case you were interested.

What have you been doing since you last posted on the blog?

I was studying for the national physical therapy boards examination, which I took on July 28th. I am currently awaiting the results, and I am honestly nErVoUs; it was a challenging exam.

Last Saturday, I moved back home to New York (although “home” is a relative term, because I feel like Boston is a very real home to me now). So a lot of the last two months was also filled with relishing as much time as possible with loved ones in Boston while studying and keeping social distance.

Why did you decide to go back to New York?

Some practical/financial reasons mostly, which are now even more pronounced thanks to COVID. From the spiritual side of things, I feel like New York is where I am supposed to be, and I cannot pinpoint the specific reason for that. In retrospect, moving to Boston for college was a result of both practical reasons and a feeling of peace, even if I did not know what was ahead… and look how well that turned out 🙂

a pic from 2017 that sums up how I feel about leaving Boston

I am very grateful for my family allowing me to stay at home during this time!

So when do you start practicing physical therapy for real?

Good question. Given the current employment climate, your guess is as good as mine. I applied to a couple residency programs earlier this year, one of which I did not get into, and the other was cancelled due to COVID. Currently, just doing my best to seek and find!

Besides applying for jobs, I’m taking this interim to help around the house, work on some new/old fitness skills, BLOG (hi!), pray, and find different ways to serve and grow here in NY. Oh, and dance in the kitchen unapologetically.

Any follow-up to your last blog post re: justice for black lives?

There has been continual reading, listening, learning, aching, discussing (sometimes debating), supporting, and growing going on in my own life and in the community of people around me (even if through social media).

I can now highly recommend the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. My friends and I shared great conversations over the book, and I believe that it has changed us to be more aware, less passive, and more active against deeply planted racism in America and, in many cases, our own hearts. It’s a pretty quick read and very beautifully written.

The division about nearly every human issue in this nation is heart-wrenching. But the triumph of Goodness and Truth, although subtle and sometimes hard to sense, is always there, and I trust in that.

By the way, you can sign the new petition for Breonna Taylor here.

What is currently on your heart?

(I put this question in here because that’s what this blog is about, so I was going to share it sooner or later anyway.)

Well, besides all of the above, the current thing I feel I need to improve upon is staying true to my authentic self when I’m in any sort of social situation — with family, friends, strangers, anyone. Not saying I’ve been acting differently or “I’ve been hiding who I am!” Nah nah nah. What I’m saying is that sometimes I think I need to stand my ground more when I want to say something that I think is true OR refrain from any conversations / actions that I don’t think are the best, morally speaking.

I am the wettest noodle of all wet noodles, who is too agreeable for her own good. I know very well the standards I strive to maintain in my life — the integrity and love with which I want to live. And I need to start living by those things with more confidence, even if other people don’t necessarily feel warm and fuzzy about it all the time, including (especially) myself.

“There is no truth without love and no love without truth.”

Will you blog more now?

Hopefully! I think this blog/world could use some more light and things that edify the heart, so I am hoping to share more of my blog’s founding principles — prayer, eating, moving, and grooving — in a simple and engaging way to keep you feeling hopeful as well.

I just used hope three times. Get after that stuff.

Happy Friday! I truly hope you are doing well and staying healthy. ♥︎ Thanks for stopping by.

So tell me:

What have you been up to the last two months?

Do you ever struggle with being too agreeable? Or perhaps too confrontational?

What’s one great thing that has happened to you this week?

Power and Love and Self-Control

There are a million words yet no words at the same time. I’ll give this post my best shot, because it’s worth it.

Black lives matter. The murder of George Floyd is an act that ought to be condemned. There needs to be justice for George Floyd, his family, and for all people of color who have been oppressed and, evidently, suffocated to the point of death under systemic racism in America since its onset.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I am not too shy about my views on life issues (i.e., divisive ones like abortion), and the issue of racism is one of those life issues.

This post from @rachel.cargle is striking. The actions we take and the words we speak in the Black Lives Matter movement are not to be in vain. This is what I am hearing from many black people, whether they are close friends or strangers. The gist is: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Yes, this should be true for ANY life issue. Yes, this movement is getting a lot of attention right now. But major events that gain attention, despite the chaos, can stir up genuine good and necessary change. We are not forgetting other causes nor minimizing them, but for something as important, real, longstanding, and stifled as the issue of racism in America, there is a very clear need for action and tangible, expedient change.

It is easy to be complacent and tired of all of this, but if we can muster up a little bit of energy to, in some minuscule way, lay down our life for a brother or sister, please Lord, help us to help.

Act. It is not wise to “sign x, y, z because everyone is signing this and it’s probably good.” You have the faculties given to you to make an informed, conscientious decision about which petitions to sign, which organizations to support, or which posts to share.

Make the decision because you know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the implied WORK it requires you to do after you donate, sign, post, etc. Please be responsible, not just reactive.

Be honest in your research and be okay with hearing “both sides.” You might find a sense of good in both sides of the conversation. You might find discomfort or disgust in elements of both sides of the conversation. Ask yourself why. Talk to people with an open heart. Seek to understand.

In all of this though, the priority is to listen to those who are being oppressed (i.e., black people).

If you are not sure where to even start, here are suggestions:

  • For a concise, honest, and helpful understanding of the Black Lives Matter Movement, watch this. Although I do not condone any sort of violence or crime, this video provides perspective on the deep, unspeakable pain that is yielding such actions. Additionally, I have seen and heard of many instances where black people are the ones preventing others (of various races) from destroying businesses and hurting others. There are riots, yes, but there are many necessary peaceful protests, where a majority of the protestors actually condemn any violence and destruction. Nevertheless, I am learning more and more that the riots and looting are coming from a place of extremely long-standing oppression and systemic inequity against black people (watch this). There can be an understanding of rioting and looting without condoning it. And most importantly, in understanding why it is happening, it has pushed me to realize the urgency and duty of addressing the “why” — to seek out true reform; to get dirty and serve underserved areas; to speak with my vote; and to empower young people of color with my time, energy, and money so that change can happen from the bottom up. In other words, I need to do what needs to be done so that black people do not ever feel that their only chance to be heard and loved is by rioting and looting. Who put them in such a position in the first place? Even if I did not ever personally place a black person in a position of poverty and inequity, to not do anything about it now is to do just that.
  • For my Catholic friends who are not sure how Catholics are responding or how they ought to respond, watch this and this and read this. Pray and fast for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, for real upheaval of systemic racism (which will take a lot of time, so you’ll probably be praying for it for your whole life), and for respect for black lives. Ask God to shine a light on any prejudices in your own heart, and ask Him to uproot them. Pray about how God is calling you to act against racism, and follow.
  • For those who are wondering why the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be getting so much more attention and momentum vs. the fight for unborn lives (hint: the issues are not dissociated from one another), watch this (I have linked the particular part of the video that addresses this question).
  • For petitions to sign, organizations to support, and a plethora of other resources, go here.
  • For a history on police in America, listen to this.
  • For Boston friends who seek to support local organizations that empower young people of color, consider donating to African Community Education and Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester. One of my friends, who is an immigrant from Ethiopia, said that he believes real change will happen only if black people are in positions of power, and that starts with true nourishment and quality education from a young age.
  • Support local black-owned businesses (Boston list of black-owned restaurants).
  • Start a book club with friends. Be open to conversation, and remember that you can use the opportunity to LISTEN. Discuss what you agree and disagree with, but listen. My friends and I will read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I also recommend Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.

Systemic, but always interpersonal. Someone told me that change still comes down to the interactions that we have with the people in front of us. And this does not mean to shut out the world and live in one’s own bubble, because ignorance of the sufferings outside of one’s own immediate environment is part of the problem. But truly, how do you love the person in front of you today?

Does loving them mean having a tough conversation about the reality of racism? Does loving them mean reminding them of their worth, power, and love, so that they can go and pour out to others and be inspired to do something bigger than themselves?

And then after being informed about the the injustices and atrocities against black people in America, after honestly praying and educating yourself about the history of racism, how can you go to black people within your community and love them? Or at least donate to them? And if you are really not physically amidst black people, then how can you reach out beyond your community?

Look to those who do it well. I will share below some Saints who I know have worked against racism and slavery as Catholics. White people within the Catholic Church have indeed participated in racism in the past and some likely still do today. Please remember these people are imperfect and sinful human beings who act of their own accord. What is important, however, is that even their evil racism did not keep black people from the Love of Jesus Christ in the Church.

For example:

Above all, I find that Jesus Christ proves to be the answer to everything. He knows unjust condemnation. He knows racism. He knows judgement from others. He knows contempt. He knows poverty. He knows the pain of being brutally murdered for no reason.

Yet He, the Victim, gives Wisdom. He, the Victim, gives Mercy. He, the Victim, gives Power. He, the Victim, gives Peace. He, the Victim, gives Joy. He, the Victim, gives Love.

He is everything broken, impoverished, and slandered, yet He is everything good and triumphant.

My friends, my words here are not perfect. This is important though. And please, teach me more if you can, and help me to amplify black voices. Help me to love others more.

“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“‘Teacher, which are the two greatest commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”

Matthew 22:34-40

Go forth in power, love, and self-control. Black lives matter.