Saturday, November 30, 2013

Breakfast.

Rosemary parmesan baked eggs with toasted ciabatta bread and fresh red berries. This is how breakfast should be done.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Things I'm Thankful For

No prelude, just a list.
1. My parents. I've been through ups, and downs, and all arounds with parents. I think every child has. But through and through, my parents have been supportive, nurturing, and kind to me. It's easy to overlook the things people do for you, and it is especially easy to overlook the value of the sort of unconditional love we receive from our parents. I grow more aware and appreciative of that love and the role it plays in my happiness every single day. My parents are my best friends and my role models, and I am so thankful for them. 

2. My home. I live in the most beautiful place on Earth, in a beautiful home, with nice things. I am neither ungrateful for this or unaware of this. I have so many things that so many do not. While I may never be able to appreciate all of it, I try to appreciate as much of it as I can. I am thankful for my bed, my shower, my laptop, my backyard, my house, my kitchen, the foods inside my refrigerator. I'm thankful for shoes on my feet, heating in my bedroom, scented candles, and warm jackets. I am thankful for tea, pine trees, cars, garages. I am actively trying be grateful for all of it, but there's just so much to be grateful for. I love my home.

3. Nate. I couldn't do it without him. He understands everything about me and accepts me so openly. He is better to me than I could possible deserve, and he is so incredible in everything he does. Today and every day I am so constantly proud of him and proud to be his. I am so grateful for his goodness, his humility, and for the love he shows me. He honestly means the whole world to me.

4. My school. Emory is a really special place. The teachers, the students, and the whole institution have opened up so many doors for me and introduced me to so many new ideas and perspectives. I wasn't sure Emory was right for me. I am now confident it is. I love my school, and I cannot wait for what the next 3.5 years there will bring. 

5. Debate. It's changing, it's weird, and it's sometimes awful. But it's given me everything I have. 

6. More specifically, the Barkley Forum. These are the best people, the best friends, and the very best community I've ever known. They are my family and I am so grateful for them. 

7. My friends. In high school I was really alone. In college, I am anything but alone. I have so many great friends who have shown me so much love. Two years ago I would have never imagined I would have friends who love me so much and show me so much kindness. Thank you. To everyone who has made me so happy to be alive. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Dissonance


Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night scared and confused. I have to touch my face to make out the shapes of my mouth and trace the arching paths of my eyebrows just to make sure it's me who's lying in my bed (... or at least someone's bed).

I'm figuring stuff out. That's natural. I'm 18.
But sometimes, and often in the middle of the night, I am shaken by the impressive level of dissonance in my life.

If you hollowed out my body and climbed inside, I think it would look foreign and unfamiliar. This is how it often looks to me. Caught between the inevitability of having to look out from and onto myself at the same time, I get lost and rattled by all of the people I seem to be all at one time. I'm the averaging of infinite people I could be, and I'm not yet anything.

From behind my eyelids I am one thing.
From behind someone else's opinions, I fear that I may be someone else entirely.
From behind my opinion, I haven't take the shape of anyone at all.

Today I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of this dissonance.
How do you get through a day that you can't find yourself within the minutes of?

Sorry for the musings,
Kristen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shameful self promotion.. but seriously, you should check out my photos

If you haven't liked my photography page on facebook then what are you even doing?

Spent the day taking photos of a friend in a beautiful park on campus yesterday. Here are some of my favorite shots. Interested in more? Go like my facebook page. SERIOUSLY. Do it now.





Sunday, November 10, 2013

About My Father: Happy birthday thoughts



Today is my dad's birthday and I will be spending the day struggling with the knowledge that I will not be able to hug my dad on his birthday. In fact, I won't be able to hug him for a few weeks.
December 2011. Told you I love spandex shorts.

So to soothe my sadness, I am taking today to reflect on some of my favorite things about my father. There are so many things to choose from -- my father is an incredible man in all regards -- and I have so many fond memories of my dad, but recently there has been one that I've found myself dwelling on often. 

When I was in middle school I made a brief and generally unsuccessful attempt at playing volleyball. I personally find it to be a horrid sport designed only for girls who like to see themselves in spandex (admittedly, I fit this characterization -- I love spandex shorts), and just inferior to other sports in almost all aspects.

Don't get me wrong, volleyball is certainly challenging, and I have great respect for the girls who play and and even more for the ones who are talented at it. I just wasn't one of those girls...
And so I hate volleyball.  

Nevertheless, during my volleyball days, I decided I would make a whole-hearted attempt at being the best volleyball player I could be. Deeply reflective of the example my father has set for his children, determination and a refusal to settle for mediocrity are perhaps two of my finer attributes. 

I worked hard at practice, I gave it my all at every game, and I really did try my best at volleyball. I just wasn't good at it. 

This being the case, my father one day offered to help me improve my overhand serve, a skill for which I had demonstrated a particular ineptitude. This is a classic Papa Lowe move. 

My dad has not only been a passive supporter, but an active aid in every journey I have ever set forth on. No matter what I did as a child, my father never just cheered from the sidelines or watched from the audience, he scheduled our own one-on-one practices to work on my soccer passes or my minor scales. He bought books, did research, scheduled dates, and made agendas. If I dared name a dream of mine, it was an "action item" for my dad. 

Nobody is as committed to my success as he is, and he never fails to show this. 
Volleyball was not an exception.

As we walked  to the local beach to use their volleyball nets in the middle of winter, my father talked to me about "strategy." My dad is the only 50-something year old man I know who has pondered the best strategy for teaching a twelve year old how to serve a woman's volleyball.

As we walked with snow crunching under out boots, my dad asked me to describe the technique that went into an overhead serve: the correct angle to hold your elbow at, the angle at which your palm should encounter the ball, the height at which your arm should be extended, and several other precise factors and calculations that cumulatively result in a perfect overhand serve.

I recited them back to him, having listened to his earlier teachings and the things my coach had told my in practice, then reminded my dad that the problem was that I couldn't do these things. We arrived at the empty volleyball court, and as we stepped onto the dark, damp, wintery sand, my dad told me that he knew that, but to keep these things in mind as we started. 

My first few hits failed miserably, barely making it to the net at all. I insisted that I should move closer to the net, but my father calmly told me to just try again, but that this time he had something he wanted me to try. 
I agreed begrudgingly, already irritated and disgruntled in the face of failure. My patience was as poor as my serves.

From the side of the court, my dad asked me to recite  the qualities of a perfect serve, all the minute and mathematical details we had earlier reviewed, and then instructed me to imagine myself hitting the volleyball with that level of perfect form. I couldn't just know what a serve was supposed to look like, I was supposed to be able to see my own awkward arms enacting the smooth, tight motions. 

The first few times it failed and my ball fell woefully short of the net (again).
But after several tries, I closed my eyes and really saw it. I saw my stance, my arm swinging purposefully, and the base of my palm encountering the ball with lethal force. I opened my eyes, tossed the ball into the air with my left hand, and watched with joy as my serve soared not only over the net, but forcefully into the back left corner of the court. 

I'm not sure if I ever quite replicated that same sort of accuracy in a real volleyball game after that day, but it is not my serve that I remember from this day, but the small insight I feel that I got into my father, insight that I hold dear, and carry with me everywhere.
December 2011

I may never meet an individual as accomplished as my father. I measure his accomplishments not in notable accolades, dollar bills on checks, or in his ability to gather up obscure and challenging skills as though they're poorly hidden Easter eggs, waiting too obviously to be gathered. My father is accomplished, more so than anybody I know, in his ability to do anything he wishes, and his fearlessness to respect every goal as an attainable one. 

I once read that only boring people are bored, and my father is the least boring person I know. He always has a next dream to tackle, a next goal to reach, or a next project to take on. Sometimes they're for himself, often they are for me and the rest of my family, and equally often they seem to be for the benefit of communities or society as a whole. My father is as benevolent as he is successful, but that's another story entirely.

That day at the volleyball court, standing on a beach in the middle of winter, swinging helplessly at a volleyball, I learned not only what makes my father so successful, but also the secret to making myself successful. Successful, happy, and never bored. 

There are lots of books and websites that talk about the value of "visualization," seeing yourself achieving your goals as a step towards achieving them, but it was my dad who taught me to see myself as someone capable of doing the things that seem most impossible to me. It is his relentless passion for learning new things, acquiring new skills, and putting new plans into motion that has taught me how to turn a lofty idea into a very tangible reality. More importantly though, it is his undying faith in my ability to reach my goals, his vision of the person I can be that inspires me to work harder, study longer, push harder, and be stronger than I think I can be. The secret to success? People who believe in your success. More specifically, an incredible dad who believes in your success.

When I can't handle the last 10 minutes on the elliptical, I imagine myself the way I suppose my father
June 2013
probably does, strong and pushing on with tenacity. I always finish my last 10 minutes strong. 

When school overwhelms me and I don't know where to begin with the ominous piles of homework that I sometimes allow to accumulate, I picture the organized lists that guide my father's life, and I find the motivation to reach for my planner only to find myself appalled at the number of items I am capable of crossing off just brief hours later. 

When I feel tired, sad, and as though perhaps I am not good enough to even deserve being happy, it is the vision of myself, thriving, flourishing, and unstoppable that I suppose my father has of me that I hold onto. In this, I always find happiness.

I love my dad.
It would take a novel to simply list, let alone describe, all the qualities that make him the incredible person he is. But if this post serves to show only one thing, I hope it is that more than any singular attribute of my father's, it is the person who he inspires me to be that most amazes me about my father.

Though I am greatly saddened to say that I cannot be with him on his birthday, I know dad is at home, "ellipticizing," flying his airplane, or maybe just getting lost in playing his piano, planning the many years ahead of him and imagining all the opportunities those years hold. As he crosses action items off of his agenda, today I'll do the same. Remember how lucky I am to have my dad as a father? 
Check. 

Wherever he is and whatever he may be doing, happy birthday to my dad. My biggest supporter, best role model, and favorite guy in the world. Thank you for believing in me, and for making me believe in myself too. 

All my love, 
Kristen
December 2012 -- What a wonderful family I have!





Saturday, November 9, 2013

Things I'm grateful for today



1. This website. Why didn't I come up with this first?

2. My awesome father. His birthday is tomorrow, and he's getting old. I think that means I'm getting old too.

3. Printed pants. These ones are my favorite right now. I mean, seriously... they have ELEPHANTS.

4. Getting dressed up on Fridays. There's something wonderful about making yourself look nice just once a week.

5. My instagram.... if you couldn't tell.

6. "Coffee shop" music. This radio station is literally all I listen to. Also, if you haven't ever tried Songza, what are you even doing with your life?

7. By the way, the word "literally" is now in the dictionary as meaning "virtually. This is a win for humanity. Sorry, English majors who thought that "literally" jokes were funny

8. Fall means it's fuzzy sock season. Who doesn't love fuzzy socks?

9. Weekends.

10. All of the wonderful people in my life. If you haven't yet today, take a second to think about how many people in your life have done something kind for you in the last week. Go thank them. Human beings are awesome, and I'm so grateful for the ones I'm lucky enough to call mine.



Much ruv!
Kristen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday thoughts: Relationships

Being in a relationship at eighteen can be awkward.

Younger kids think your relationship is an ideal, adults think it's foolish. You're old enough to start thinking about things you may want in the distant future (yikes!), but not nearly old enough to know what you want to be doing a year from now. For many people, and often for myself, this makes being in a relationship and being in love (whatever that means) confusing, difficult, and wonderful. All at the same time.

This coming Monday marks my two year anniversary with Nathaniel, and as I try to decide how I want to celebrate, I've been putting a lot of thought into relationships in general. Why we're in them, when we know we're in the right one, and what we're supposed to get out of them. No shortage of tough questions. But as a debater (own up to your own nerdiness, right?), I'm a sucker for tough questions.

In debate there is a silly argument called a kritik that questions the "underlying assumptions" of proposing a policy action. These kritiks (yes, the spelling is ridiculous and German) beg the question of not just whether something is a good idea in execution, but in justification. Think marriage for love v. marriage for money: the action is the same, but the justifications and the reasons behind it shape everything about the action. Kritiks deal with this notion.

When reading a kritik, it is typical to read an "alternative," a counter-proposal that hypothetically could resolve the assumptive issues of the original policy proposal. However, in some debates, when asked what that alternative is, debaters will say that trying to pin it down, identify, and know it is the exact problem. Essentially, we have to embrace a level of insecurity and unknowing in order to fully resolve the original issue of how our knowledge production, our justifications, or our representations of the world may be bad.

While kritiks my be complete nonsense, and the idea that trying to know the outcome of an action is inherently bad may be just be more nonsense, I've recently begun to think that maybe it's not always nonsense. And especially not in relationships.

People ask me all the time what I "want to get out of" my relationship with Nate. I guess this is a fair question: why commit so much time and effort to something like a relationship if you're not going to get something out of it?

I love Nate. I love being around him, and I love the way I feel about myself when we're together. I feel more confident, more valuable, and more capable of achieving my goals when we're together, and he always empowers and encourages me to be my best. He's understanding when I need to be understood, but tough when I need tough love. He doesn't just break and do whatever I want, and he always wants what is best for me.

But these aren't things that I think I "get out of my relationship." They're just daily blessings I am fortunate enough to have that sometimes come at a cost. Nate and I fight, and hate each other, and ignore each other, and are cruel, immature, and ignorant sometimes. But we love each other, and at the end of the day, I just can't imagine having to get through the day without him anymore.

I've been in this relationship for two years, and people have started to ask me what I want in the long term. Two years is (apparently) a very long time, so does that mean that Nate and I are going to be together for a lot longer? Does that mean I want that? Do I want that SOON?

I'm not sure I have to or want to know the answer to all these questions. I'm insecure, and unsure, and uncertain about a lot of things in my relationship. But those insecurities and uncertainties are part of what allow Nate and I to love each other as fully as we do and be as happy as we are.

After two years, all I know is that I'm happy, he's happy, and these have been two of the best years of my life.

Happy Thursday!
Kristen