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Cold for Centuries

Posted by adrionna on Feb 23, 2015 in Wisdom and Life

Why do I complain about the cold?
I’m a January baby after all.
I was made out of these elements,
the particles putting together a woman that can resist even the toughest tools. But
with the right ones, I become a sculpture that could be stared at for centuries.

What do I find so offensive about the winter?
I am the snow that glistens
after the blizzard causes its destruction,
reminding people that there’s beauty after chaos.
Ice crystals protect my heart, but they also
provide a place for people to
hold hands as they glide
where they couldn’t even walk before.

How can I be upset with myself when
I melt in moments where the sun breaks
the darkness in the most magnificent of ways?
Like the sun that energizes my spirit,
I wish to melt the ice that covers others’ hearts,
enticing them to beat harder than they have
since a tundra tunneled its way to
what used to be a prelapsarian center.

Who am I to deny myself–
a mother would never burrow herself and
leave her young to the wind, so how can I
so unnaturally neglect
the warmth that glows from me
even when it is coldest outside?

When will I learn to embrace
that which makes me shudder sometimes?
The bitterness and shivers simply should not make me quiver –
especially when I have what it takes to unite the most persuasive river.

Anna Dron
February 23, 2015

 
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Why do we say “That made my day!”

Posted by adrionna on Dec 26, 2014 in Just Wondering

We seem to say “That made my day!” so casually. But I’m thinking there’s more to it than meets the eye.

When do we say it? And why?

I posted a picture of my dad on Instagram on Christmas Day. I had received a beautiful scarf from my mother and was showing it off in the kitchen. Dad was telling a story, or trying to, when I wrapped my scarf around his head similar to how the images of the Virgin Mary show a face wrapped in gentle fabric. He took on a very serious persona right away, amusing himself by looking in the mirror, trying not to laugh even though my mom and I were close to tears. Right next to the mirror is a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, so I had Dad stand right next to it. With some filters and focus adjustments, the photo was ready for the internet.

My Dad received many nods on Instagram and close to 50 “likes” on Facebook. We kind of expected that (Dad even said, “I’ll be famous by tonight!”), but what I hadn’t expected were the responses of “This just made my day!” This made me so happy to hear and it made me wonder why.

So it seems we say ‘That made my day” when we see something that made us happy, or experience something that makes us laugh. But I also think it goes deeper than that. Think about it – what happens to your body when you experience something that has you saying, “Wow, that just made my day.” Also, if this thing that made you happy happened early in the day, does that mean that you just write off the rest of your day? “Awesome, this thing made my day and now I can just kind of chill until tomorrow. Hopefully something makes my day tomorrow, too.” It’s almost a passive way of seizing the day. Or is it?

So why do some things make the “make our day” category while other seemingly-equally-great things pass us by? Here are some of my ideas:

1. The thing that “makes our day” surprises us, which makes it memorable. We didn’t expect to experience anything like this today. It is spontaneous but real and that’s what makes it great. The spontaneity is also what makes it memorable in a way that we keep returning to it all day long, replaying it in our minds and finding joy in it even after 5 hours have passed – thus, “making” our day, regardless of what might happen next.

2. It gives us hope. Maybe we were feeling a little down in the dumps. Maybe we’ve been in the pits for a while. But then this thing happened and it made us forget the negativity, even for a little bit. It made our day because it reminds us, until we fall asleep, that there is good in the world. At least for a couple minutes. Makes you wonder why we don’t surround ourselves with more of these moments more often.

3. It can be anything. A view from a mountain-top, a small coffee that we received for free, a stranger giving us a compliment, a new car, an old photograph, a cancelled class, getting into a class that we’ve wanted to be in for a while, a day off, an extra shift that we really need. It is very relative, based on what we need: a reminder that life is good, that good things can happen in a moment’s notice, and that this moment can give us some extra fuel when we’re running on empty.

4. It’s usually facilitated through human connection. I love spending days all by my lonesome like the next girl, but the things that “make” my day are usually grounded in human connection, whether it’s incredibly profound or not. We can’t have unbelievable, unforgettable Carpe Diem days without another person – whether it’s someone we know and love or someone we just met. The relationship between people isn’t as important as the idea that another person is usually present. And yes, eating carry-out while watching Netflix by yourself involves human connection.

It’s funny how something that seems to casual can give us insight into what human beings need: things that are joy-giving, hope-giving, and life-giving. So when we say “That made my day!” it’s nice to know that, for the most part, we genuinely mean it and that we experienced some kind of human connection to make it happen.

 

Here’s the picture of my Dad, by the way. He’s quite the character. I hope it makes your day.

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Exploring new cities like religions

Posted by adrionna on May 21, 2014 in Random Ramble

How visiting new cities is like exploring different religions:

1. You have to be okay with leaving what you know, at least temporarily. If you’re looking for new cities to move to, it’s valuable to ask why your current city isn’t meeting your wants/needs and what else you’re looking for. If you’re not cool with the religion you were born into (or that you weren’t born into one at all), you need to start with why.

2. It’s helpful to have a general sense of what you desire in a city, but the beauty of just jumping into a new place is how you surprise yourself by falling in love with things, people, and ideas that you had not considered valuable before. You end up loving things you never knew you needed.

3. You’ll imagine yourself as part of the new city, just like you might try to envision yourself as a member of this new belief system. Whether you’ll move to the new city depends on how well your beliefs and values jive with it.

4. You’ll realize what keeps you in your home city goes deeper than what attracts you — are you okay with leaving anything that might be tying you back? Leaving a tradition that you experienced with your family?

5. You’ll probably compare the new city to your current home countless times, as evidenced by “I wish Chicago had ___ or offered ____.” (My blanks would be filled in by the words “random pianos on Michigan Avenue” and “a free shuttle up and down the main street” respectively). You’ll also realize that your city offers things that this new city might not have.

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Keeping Desire Alive in a Long-term Relationship

Posted by adrionna on May 19, 2014 in Long Distance, Love, Wisdom and Life

I am enrolled in a course this spring entitled “The Nature and Culture of Love.” This class explores how “love” has changed through human experience. The feelings have stayed the same–why it hurts, why it takes so long to get over somebody–but the circumstances (modernity, sexual freedom, and analysis paralysis of potential partners) have altered our overall perception and experience of love. My favorite book that has spoken to these topics is Eva Illouz’s Why Love Hurts. It is fascinating.

One of the most interesting and helpful things I’ve learned from this class is the idea of Desire and why desire is such a necessary ingredient for a relationship to stay alive. If you have time, I seriously recommend watching Esther Perel’s “The secret to desire in a long term relationship.” In it, you will find explanations to why people cheat and what needs to be in a relationship for the spark to stay.

My true take-away (since I’m writing this after watching it a good three weeks ago) is that the relationship must be one with two independent players. There is, of course, an element of interdependence, but to keep desire alive, each individual must have access to that which makes him or her happy in and of itself. In order for this to truly happen, I must allow my partner to have the time and space to pursue his interests. It is when I see my guy in his own element–presenting at a conference or speaking to others about ideas he is passionate about–I feel attracted to him because I am able to step back and appreciate him in the way that others are perceiving him at that moment. If another woman is in the room, he immediately becomes more attractive because now there is an element of competition–even though I’ve taken him for granted hundreds of times, if there is the slightest threat of his being taken away, I become possessive. It is this want that is eros, or desire.

My “favorite” way, or the way that seems guaranteed to build desire, is to create some kind of distance between the lover and the beloved. In this space, desire grows as the chasm between the lovers grow. This is why becoming long-distance can be both healthy and detrimental for a couple; if long-distance for a “doable” amount of time (which will be different for everyone), couples will become more infatuated with one another, but if long-distance for too long, you aren’t able to see each other in your elements, and desire dies (sad face).

If it feels as is desire has packed its bags and left the relationship, there is always a way to get it back. It requires a stepping-back, but not necessary a separation. It calls for a deliberate attention to the relationship and reintegration into it–and one of the ways to do that is through the individual. Let me do my thing, I’ll let you do your thing, we’ll admire each other and then do each other ;).
Some tips for creating desire within a long-term relationship:

– Find ways to get intimate in places and spaces that don’t exactly allow such excitement. It’s the stuff teenage romance is made of.

– If you and your partner would be into this sort of thing, go to a bar separately and flirt with others, eventually finding each other. Act as if you’re meeting for the first time. If possible, try not to use inside jokes; make new ones.

– Sometimes a date night isn’t enough, especially if it’s the same ol’ dinner and a movie idea. Do something that neither of you have done before: paint-balling, running a 5K together. Find a new experience and relish the thought of being nervous and outside your comfort zone, but having your comfort holding your hand the whole time.

– Decide to pack up for the weekend and head somewhere new and foreign (even if it’s just 3 hours outside of town).

– Find new recipes, dress up the dinner table and be your best self as you have fun cooking together. If it’s a disaster, ordering in is even more fun in the candle-light.

– Babysitting little ones in the family or friends circles. Stay with me here: when you see your partner interacting with kiddos and you can’t exactly jump his bones in front of them, it certainly increases the desire. Obviously if you’re a parent, this will change.

Do you have any other ideas?

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Because I kept my eyes open

Posted by adrionna on Feb 4, 2013 in Teaching

Today I began my experience as an “official observer” of classes within an elementary school on Chicago’s near-north side. It’s a very diverse school where, sadly, 40% of the population is homeless, or in temporary housing. I briefly (30 min) sat-in on a class last week, where I was able to get a feel for the lay-out of the school and the dynamic of having kids coming from so many different backgrounds.

My assignment today was to watch/interact with the first graders. There are about 25 students in the classroom and each love -and need- attention. This is difficult with one teacher in the room, so the school is excited that my class is working with theirs. This school stresses building relationships with students so that the students are held accountable in more than just a student-teacher relationship, but rather an apprentice-mentor, or co-partnership. I’ve been given two charges, K and D. The administrator who assigned me to them described the students as those “who have needs, but who shouldn’t be having those needs.” After interacting with the students for the first time today, I understand why. They are smart, they are creative, they are funny, they are kind. But they need to know they’re doing something worthwhile, and its through these personal relationships we build with them that they put school on a higher pedestal than anything else. It’s school that will help them escape poverty. It’s education that will open their minds to the world.

This is what a teacher hopes for, anyway. This is what I hope for.

I ride public transportation often, but I rode it more often today. I people watch sometimes, but I really saw people today. I had my eyes open all day long. In essence, I was seeing these people as the first graders all grown up. Here’s what I saw.

After I left the school, around 10:30am, I saw two women on the corner, smoking cigarettes, telling each other they don’t really care what others think about them. One smiled back at me when I looked over. That was nice, but I want more for J than that. She wants attention and thinks that being silly and acting out will get her that. She’ll get attention from me for really trying to spell words during the break-out session tomorrow morning. But what if it’s not enough?

On the train, I saw someone who looked like he wasn’t really going anywhere. With a big brown paper bag in the seat next to him, he just looked happy to be somewhere warm. I was so happy that all those kids today were able to be somewhere warm, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner to look forward to. I’m proud that we, as a society, have created a place for our most vulnerable to be shielded from the harshest elements so that they can learn and better themselves.. that they’ll better the world through their efforts. I think JA will appreciate that when he’s older; he read like a champ today, and I am so looking forward to the next time he reads me a story. He was so proud of himself, reminding me an hour later “I’m a good reader.” But what if it’s not enough?

During one of my walks, I heard a dad yelling. Loud. He was holding the hand of his little boy, while his brother was walking behind them, holding the hand of their mother. There was such a lack of peace: there were tears, loud cries, and just.. unrest. I couldn’t believe that adults would act so irresponsibly around such young children.. around Kindergardeners. Around kids that would be in the first grade next year. This is where these kids are coming from. They don’t need to know about Rosa Parks as much as they need warmth, kindness, and a sense of love and security. Someone in their lives constantly showing support and encouragement. Good teachers are ready to give this to so many kids that pass through their classrooms, but what if it isn’t enough?

At this point, you can imagine I’m getting a little disheartened. It’s late, I’m getting a little tired, and I’m seeing a world working against all of the kids I tried to reach earlier in the day. This is when a young man sits down in front of me on the train and just starts talking to the family around me. No prior meeting, just a young black man eager to start a conversation with a white woman with her two young girls. What? After living through the stark privileged/underprivileged dichotomy of the day, I was surprised. Suspicious.

Turns out that just asking “Are yall on your way home?” can incite an amazing conversation with an incredibly nice woman that gives the eavesdroppers (like me) inspiration to keep going. The young man is a math major, hoping to do something really great with it. Story goes that he had a great teacher who made math really exciting. Because of those teachers, he is all about math and science and excited about what he can do in the world with that knowledge. He doesn’t think he’ll go to grad school; but he hasn’t even considered it, really. He just has his eyes set on a degree so he can make something of himself.

I’m nearing my stop and interrupt them. I tell the young man hurriedly that I started observing at an elementary school today. I told him I hoped the kids turn out like him.

He looked a little shocked, but I know it made him feel good. I hope it did, anyway.

Because he gave me an incredibly valuable gift. It’s one full of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement. Everything that I need to give those kids tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Because, just like the young man who had his eyes open and started a conversation with a random stranger at the end of the day, I never know who I’m reaching.

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