#mizealand: Mt. Ngauruhoe, Wellington, Arthur’s Pass, and the Trip-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named

Kia Ora from Mount Cook, New Zealand! Today marks the halfway point of our trip. I’ve been telling Christopher this over and over — I feel like I’m outside of my body. I feel like the things I’ve seen and done are too beautiful and too breathtaking.

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor 

I finished my last post with hopes to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing during our stay there. Sadly, we did not get to do the crossing. There was too much snow and ice and if we wanted to do it, we would need to go with a guide and be fitted for snowsuits and ice picks and what not. However, we did get to do some more hiking. We hiked the Ridge Track and saw this:

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That’s Mount Ngauruhoe – one of the active volcanoes at Tongariro. There is no possible way our pictures could do this view justice.

The pines were roaring on the height, The winds were moaning in the night.

We had one last awesome breakfast at the Chateau and departed for Wellington, the capitol of New Zealand. The drive was absolutely beautiful. Rolling hills, green mountains, sheep, water, sun. This country is stunning. We stayed at At Home Wellington, a boutique apartment hotel right smack dab in the middle of everything. Hayley and Dwayne, the owners, were charming and kind and helpful. I highly recommend staying there should you ever find yourself in Wellington. We then walked to the Mount Victoria lookout – the highest point in Wellington. It was a hilly, beautiful walk, but definitely more difficult than you think. It was straight up hill with really powerful wind gusts. We made it to the top, enjoyed the view, then headed down to stroll around the city and find something for dinner.

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View from the top.

Hayley and Dwayne provided a list of their favorite restaurants, so we decided to go with one of their suggestions. We ate at Monsoon Poon – an Asian infusion restaurant that was colorful, spunky and fun. Chris had butter chicken and I had a ginger lemon chicken, and it was all so delicious that my mouth is watering right now as I type. We fell asleep to a windstorm and it was wonderful. The next day, we went to the Weta Cave, which is kind of like Mecca for Lord of the Rings fans. We did a tour of the workshop and saw some pretty incredible things. The designers, artists, painters, machinists, and everyone at the Weta worship are incredible people. We got to hold the same kind of mithril that protected Frodo from the troll in Moria. We also got to take some fun pictures with trolls.

troll staring contest

That night, we went to the Four Nations Rugby League final game. There are two kinds of rugby in New Zealand: Rugby Union and Rugby League. You may be more familiar with the All Blacks, New Zealand’s Rugby Union team. The New Zealand Kiwis were playing against the Australian Kangaroos for the Four Nations title. Rugby league….is awesome. I had so much fun at this game. I’ve never watched a game of rugby before, and I really enjoyed it. The game was fast-paced and exciting. Before the game, the Kiwis performed a Haka, which is an ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge of the Maori people. After they finished, flames burst from the field and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Britain Rugby League World Cup

[Photo from AP. Not my own.]

We left Wellington a little begrudgingly – I really loved this city. When we come back to New Zealand, I’m planning to spend more time there. We flew to Christchurch early on Sunday morning. We talked in the airport, dropped off our bags, got a donut, sat down, and then loaded a plane from the tarmac. No shoe removal, no x-ray machines. It was quite nice. Once we landed in Christchurch, we picked up our rental car and drove to the Kaikoura peninsula for the purpose of whale watching.

Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire 

All right, listen up, because I’m only going to tell this story once.

During the summer, the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta had a special exhibit called Whales: Giants of the Deep. The actual exhibit was from New Zealand, and since we were planning a trip and both are fascinated by whales, we thought it would be perfect to include some actual New Zealand whale-watching in our trip.

Whale Watch Kaikoura seemed like the perfect way to see whales in New Zealand. When we arrived, we saw our tour time along with a ticker that said “extreme seasickness warning.” Christopher and I have both been on boats many times and have never suffered from seasickness, but to be safe, we each took a dose of Dramamine before our trip.

We loaded the boat and listened to the crew give safety tips and a brief overview of what we would be doing. We then took off in search of whales — going what felt like 100 miles per hour over the roughest water in the ocean. Our stomachs flipped a whole lot, but we were fine.

However, our entire row was not.

Not five minutes into the trip, every single person around us started throwing up. There was a lady to our left and a family of four to our right. All of them were violently throwing up into sick bags. We were trapped. We just held on to each other, shut our eyes and breathed into our shirts, tried to drown out the coughing and retching and splattering, and prayed for the boat to stop soon.

John Galatas, this was a “how did I get here?” moment.

Here’s some free advice:

-If you load a boat that says “extreme seasickness warning” and you know you get seasick, you are a horrible person. Don’t do it. You will ruin the experience of everyone around you.

-If you do get sick, please leave the second row of the boat. You know, the one that is clearly for people who don’t get seasick. Move to the back of the boat. Remember? The one the crew told you to go to if you feel sick.

-Also, don’t hold on to your used sick bags. If you throw up, remove the bag as quickly as possible. Don’t just fold them over and hold on to them or keep them in your lap while you throw up some more.

I wish I could say the trip got better, the people stopped throwing up, threw their sick bags away, and moved to the back of the boat, but they did not. We did see two sperm whales and some dolphins — which was fantastic, because if we didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done.

We got off the boat, walked around, got some sprite, and found some ice cream to settle our queasiness. We drove in near silence to Arthur’s Pass and went to bed still feeling ill.

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The silver lining.

A Warm Welcome

We stayed at the Arthur’s Pass Alpine Motel, which was owned by a lovely couple from Christchurch. It was cold and dark when we arrived, and we quickly found heated blankets on our bed. They were wonderful. It was so hard to wake up with those warm blankets. We eventually got out of bed, had breakfast, and went hiking. We hiked to the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfall and took the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track, which all total ended up being over 10 kilometers. Six hours of hiking was fantastic. hikinghottiewaterfallwaterfalling

We left Arthur’s Pass and drove to Mount Cook, which is where we are currently. We’re here until Friday, so I’m going to save our Mount Cook stories for the next post. Thanks for reading!

-Mary Chase

#mizealand: Auckland, Hobbiton, Matamata, Tongariro

There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go. – J.R.R. Tolkien

I’m going on an adventure! 

Well, here I am. After years of daydreaming, months of planning, and weeks of high anticipation, we made it to New Zealand. I will attempt to properly convey how absolutely incredible this trip has been in the past four days.

We woke up very early on Friday morning after a restless night’s sleep and left for the airport. Our good friend Michael was kind enough to drive us. As we were pulling away, I noticed that I forgot to put my glasses on my face and wasn’t wearing my contacts. It was *almost* a horrible way to start the trip.

We flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles and had a long layover at LAX. I thought this would be a good idea for a number of reasons: our luggage could get lost, our flight could be delayed, etc. However, I added the first item on my “what I will do differently next time” list — stay out of LAX as long as possible.

LAX is a terrible place to have a long layover before an international flight. I won’t bore you with the details, but trust me. LAX, if you’re reading this, get it together. Terminal B is a nightmare.

Toward the end of our terrible waiting game, we met a really nice girl from London named Candie who was flying to Auckland to visit her brother. The last two hours of our wait went by faster during our conversation.

After what seemed like an eternity, we boarded Air New Zealand flight 1.

We purchased premium economy seats — not first class, but a little nicer than economy. If you are every planning to fly to New Zealand, let me say this: these seats are worth every penny you will pay.

We sat in pod-like seats that reclined and were spacious and comfortable. We had complementary blankets, eye masks, pillows, and socks. Our flight attendant Deb was the BEST. Air New Zealand, if you’re reading this, Deb is a gem. Deb brought us hot towels which felt like heaven after spending the entire day in a stale, uncomfortable airport. We ate dinner on the plane (which was delicious) and fell asleep effortlessly.

I woke up a few times and looked out the window at the pitch-black night sky and our massive plane hovering over the Pacific Ocean. It was a little overwhelming.

Around 5am we woke up, looked out the window, and saw the most astonishing sunrise I’ve ever seen in my life. Blackness, and then a thin orange line fading to blue. It was breathtaking — and one of the first sunrises in the world for that day.

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If I take one more step, it will be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.

We landed in Auckland and had a remarkably smooth transition into customs and picking up our rental car.

Time for me to brag on Christopher for a few moments:

This guy drove a manual car with opposite orientation all over Auckland. And he’s been driving it all over the North Island of New Zealand. He’s a beast.

Anyway, we made it to our hotel in the Princes Wharf area of Auckland. We walked around and explored the city, fought jet lag, and had a good lunch at a pub while watching highlights from a rugby match. Auckland is a beautiful city. My biggest observation from Auckland is that it is the first place I’ve been both hot and cold at the same time. The sun is very hot; the breeze is very cold. It happens all at once. It’s an odd sensation.

We got settled into our hotel rooms around 4:30pm, sat down on the bed for just a minute, and woke up at 2:30 am.

We didn’t exactly plan for that to happen, but had no problem falling asleep and waking up at 6:30 am.

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In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. 

We left Auckland and drove straight to the Hobbiton Movie Set. The drive from Auckland to Matamata was absolutely gorgeous.  Miles and miles of rolling hills, alarmingly green grass, and sheep and cattle farms. It was beautiful.

Unfortunately, hills + twists and turns + riding as a passenger where I’m used to driving = carsick MC. As soon as we got to the movie set, I got a sprite and immediately felt better.

We loaded the tour bus at 12:15, and entered the magical set of the Shire.

Y’all.

This was surreal. That’s the best word we can use to describe it. Other than the hobbit holes, there is only one thing that is artificial in this land, and that is the oak tree above Bag End. Peter Jackson was pretty adamant about the oak tree being above Bag End.

Everything else was 100% Pure New Zealand.

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No filter, folks.

We wandered around the Shire, visited hobbit holes, took pictures, saw the party tree, and settled down in the Green Dragon with complementary beverages at the end of the tour.

I’ve loved Tolkien since I was a kid. I’ve read and re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I love the movies. These books were a huge part of my childhood, and no doubt shaped me in to who I am today. Being able to see this part of “Middle-Earth” as it was portrayed on film was truly astounding.

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Riddles in the Dark

The next day, we left Matamata and drove to the Waitomo Caves. This, again, was an astonishingly beautiful drive. Rain was starting to move in, so visiting caves ended up being the perfect thing to do.

The Waitomo Cave tour was incredible. We ventured down into the cave and saw the part known as the Cathedral. Parts of the formations looked like pipe organs, and the formations attributed to a nearly perfect acoustic sound. Our tour guide sang a traditional Maori love song and it sounded like we were in a professional studio. After the Cathedral, we walked a little further and got in boats for the rest of the tour.

These caves contain Arachnocampa luminosa: glowworms. They are unique to New Zealand.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the cave, so I borrowed this from the website. And this is exactly what we saw:

Waitomo_Glowworm_Caves_tour

[Photo from waitomo.com]
To be honest, it didn’t feel real. I felt like I was in a ride at Disney World or in the movie Avatar. It was astonishing. Thousands of little worms live in these caves and glow to attract food. They are beautiful.

Adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine 

We left the glowworm caves and drove to Tongariro National Park. By this point, the rain was falling hard and visibility was poor. We pulled up to our hotel, Chateau Tongariro, hopeful to see Mt. Ruapehu in the background, but saw only gray. Rain and fog and clouds and wind.

We planned to visit the Tongariro National Park to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is a day-long hike, one of the best in the world. When we arrived at the hotel, we saw that the track was closed that day and the next due to inclement weather. Bummer.

We ate dinner and went to bed, feeling a tiny bit disappointed but still overwhelmed at the amazing things we’ve experienced so far because we’re in New Zealand. 

We woke up and had a fantastic breakfast at the hotel. Bacon, sausages, all kinds of cheeses, crackers, pastries, croissants. Kiwis know how to eat breakfast.

Because we couldn’t do the crossing today, we decided to walk to the visitor center and see what else was in the park. We decided to hike to Taranaki Falls, and it was a good decision.

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SNOW!

I was not expecting to take a hike in a snow-covered volcanic valley today. The rain we got yesterday has morphed into snow/sleet. Toward the end of our hike, we got hit pretty hard with some sleet and strong winds. My legs are still stinging.

By this point, I’m sure you are wondering why am taking the time in the middle of my trip to write such an intricate post. Well, right at this moment, I am sitting in a big comfy chair in front of a fireplace in the lobby of our hotel watching the snow fall from our window, which is what I’ve been doing for the past two hours. The locals are flummoxed by this weather. It’s spring over here — think if Americans saw a huge snowfall in May.

Christopher is across from me reading The Hobbit. It’s cozy and wonderful.

We’re here at Tongariro until Friday. Fingers crossed for clear weather so we can do the crossing. If not, we do have some time at the end of our trip and we might try to fit it in, but we’ll play it by ear. At least we’ll have a beautiful drive to Wellington on Friday.

Kia ora!

-Mary Chase

a long-expected party

I cried the entire way home from work yesterday.

It’s not the first time I’ve done that. I’m a firm believer in a nice ugly cry every now and then. Whether it’s a frustrating day in the office, feeling homesick for my family, or hearing “Oblivion” by Bastille on my Spotify shuffle, sometimes I burst into tears. I usually feel better after it happens.

I cry when I feel too much of any emotion. I think I have a certain capacity for emotions, and when they surpass my limit, it’s like putting too much water in a pot to boil pasta. Sometimes it bubbles out all over the stove.

And to be honest, I wouldn’t say I cry often or it’s easy to make me cry; these tears are hard-fought.

But when I’m really angry, I cry.

When I’m really homesick, I cry.

When I’m really happy, I cry.

(I can’t believe I’m putting this on the Internet, but I cried when Mississippi State beat Auburn this year. I really don’t know what came over me — I just knew I was feeling so happy for my alma mater, I couldn’t do anything else. But that’s another post for another time. Hail State.)

In my case yesterday, I was feeling really loved and really luckyOverwhelmed with the most sincere gratitude I’ve ever felt. Blessed beyond my emotion limit.

Tomorrow morning, Christopher and I will be flying to Los Angeles, and on to Auckland, New Zealand, to spend three weeks traveling and exploring the country. When we first met, one of our first conversations we had was about our bucket list destinations. Things we want to do. Places we want to go. New Zealand was one of our several wildest dreams.

We fell in love. We daydreamed. We planned. We saved. And through circumstances that were nothing short of divine intervention, we gave our dream a date and bought plane tickets to New Zealand.

And now it’s here.

I want to say to everyone who has loved me, supported me, and shared life with me for the past (almost) 24 years, thank you. If you had told me four years ago that I’d be embarking on a three-week journey to New Zealand, I probably would have laughed. I want you to know that I will not take this experience for granted.

To the people who grew up with me, thank you for putting up with my Lord of the Rings obsession. Thank you for encouraging me to embrace my passions rather than mute them. I recently cleaned out my room in the house where I grew up, and I took everything off the walls except for three faded Lord of the Rings posters. I think I owe it to 8th grade Mary Chase to leave those up while grown-up Mary Chase tramps about Middle-Earth.
(To be clear, yes, Lord of the Rings was a factor in wanting to go to New Zealand, but not the only factor. Relax.)

To my family, I will never be able to put into words what you mean to me. Ever. No matter how long and eloquently I try to write, words will constantly fail in expressing my gratitude and love for you. I don’t know what I could have done to deserve Morris and Pam Breedlove, Jayme Breedlove, Joe and Jo Ann Moss, Larry and Pam Mize, Meredith and Zack Reuter (and Scarlett), Bernice Swann, and everyone else we love so dearly. Thank you for supporting our dreams and sacrificing so much to make them happen. I love each of you more than you know.

To my friends, thank you for listening to me talk about New Zealand for the past year. I know it probably got annoying six months ago. Thank you for loving me and allowing me to share life with you. Thank you for spoiling me rotten with early birthday presents when it’s quite possibly the last thing in the world you could have spent time and money doing (looking at you, Erica Lanham, Meredith Yackel and Hayley Catt). Childhood friends, CentriKid friends, college friends, Atlanta friends, Barre3 friends, NAMB friends, and everyone in between: Thank you for enriching my life with your friendship.

I would like to personally invite anyone reading this to join us on our journey. I’ll post pictures and various updates on Facebook and Instagram, and I’d like to blog a little while I’m there. Expect several retroactive posts.

Mary Chase:

twitter: @marychasemize
instagram: marychasemize

Christopher:

twitter: @chrismize
instagram: mizechristopher

Kia ora, and let the #mizealand adventure begin.

All my love,

Mary Chase

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – Bilbo Baggins

excitement

I’ve got to break this habit of creating 24 rounds of drafts before publishing a post. I spend weeks thinking about what I want to write on my blog. I put a lot of thought into it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to stop putting thought into things I write. I don’t want to cease putting thought into anything I do. But this needs to feel a little less formal – at least on my end. It feels scripted. Life is not scripted.

So here I am, September 5, 2014. Two days away from traveling to Boston for my first work-related trip. 19 days away from my mother’s birthday. 62 days away from hopping on a plane to New Zealand for three weeks.

If you had told me five years ago that I’d be where I am in this moment, I would have laughed in your face.

In the past week, I’ve had three specific moments of excitement that were so overwhelming — so consuming — that I almost burst into tears.

1. This trip of a lifetime to New Zealand is getting real. Two months from Sunday, I’ll be flying across the world to spend three weeks traveling throughout the entire country. Flights are booked. Itineraries are complete. My Trip It account says “Everything looks good!”

I planned this entire trip by myself. I didn’t go through a travel agency or planner. Ask me how that worked out on December 1 – but right now, I feel good. I feel like we’ve covered all the bases. I’m a logistical nerd, so planning this extensive trip felt more like a game than a chore. I loved it. I’m actually kind of sad the planning is over.

2. On October 24, I will get to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I’m obsessed with musicals. Ob-sessed. And Phantom has been on my bucket list since I was 13. I was listening to the Overture on the way home from work this week, and got choked up with excitement. Who am I.

3. Idina Menzel is releasing a holiday album. With that bit of news, I leave you to have a wonderful weekend.

atlanta: my first year

My peaceful Sleep Cycle alarm brought me from a crazy dream about flying back to reality around 6:00 this morning. I dressed quickly, kissed my husband and my dog goodbye, and left my cool Midtown apartment for the semi-dark, warm Atlanta morning. I walked a block to the coffee shop across from the place Christopher proposed to me, got a soy chai tea latte, and nostalgically waited near the infamous “arc” for the Atlantic Station shuttle. Lorde’s “400 Lux” lulled in my head while I gazed at the tall, shiny skyline that I now call home.

My heels clack on the concrete floor of the Arts Center MARTA Station. I smile dismissively at a group of Jehovah’s witnesses and walk down the moving escalator to the north bound red line train. Several stops and a bus later, I’m at work.

My name is Mary Chase Breedlove Mize, and I’m a city girl.

I may be laying it on thick with the narrative, but I’ve come a long way from my West Tennessee roots.

A few weeks ago marked one year of living in Atlanta. And since the world now thrives on the likes of BuzzFeed, here’s a list of 4 things I’ve learned while living in Atlanta.

4. People from Atlanta aren’t exaggerating when they talk about the traffic problem.
Traffic in Atlanta is horrendous. Highway 64 in Fayette County is a dream compared to the last three miles of my daily commute. The interstates here are crazy. Atlanta, for the most part, is a driving city. Over 6 million people live here. I live about 30 miles from where I work. I drive in the “opposite” direction of normal rush hour traffic flow since I live inside the perimeter and work outside of it – and there have been plenty of days when my commute home was 2 hours. I also often wonder what would happen if people drove less selfishly and with more common sense.

The silver lining, however, is enjoying the traffic in other places where the interstates aren’t gridlocked on a regular basis.

3. I’m surrounded by people who look, act, think, and believe differently than me (and I love it).
Atlanta is crazy diverse. It’s a city of homeless people and billionaires. Over 60 languages are spoken in 1.1 square mile of Clarkston, a suburb of Atlanta. I grew up in a small town. To put this in perspective, it was a big deal when a black student went to my high school. College, of course, brought it’s own diversity, but I was still in a bubble of sorts — I was around more people who were like me than people who were different from me. There’s a freedom that comes with the diversity of Atlanta. I can’t quite explain it.

2. I’m thankful for my hometown.
I can’t put into words how grateful I am for progressive parents who raised me to treat everyone–regardless of gender, age, or religion–the way Jesus would treat them. I love so many things about my small hometown. I miss walking into the courthouse and knowing all the clerks. I miss the quiet farmland surrounding my house and the smell of honeysuckle on summer nights. I’m grateful I can call Fayette County my hometown.

But for now, in this season of life, I don’t think I could go back to living in a rural community. I love the city. I love walking to places like the grocery store and the movie theater. I love Piedmont Park. I love the food. I love the concerts. I love it here.

1. People from Atlanta don’t call it “the ATL” or “Hotlanta.”
They just don’t. That’s for outsiders.

 

boss lady [part one]

Some leaders are born women. – Geraldine Ferraro

 

My first encounter with leadership was in the fifth grade.  On a steamy afternoon in mid-September, I paced around the side of my friend’s pool clutching her lime green land line phone with sweaty, trembling hands. My friends splashed around with “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men blaring in the background. For the twelfth time, I dialed the Homework Hotline.

This time, I heard an updated message from one of my favorite teachers I’ve ever had–Ms. Cathy.

“….and I’m excited to announce our class president is Mary Chase Breedlove.”

I was ecstatic.

During my time in office, I accomplished two very important acts of legislation:

1. Our class held a canned food drive for the local food pantry around Thanksgiving.

2. I drafted a permission slip for our guardians to sign so we could watch “Remember the Titans.”  (It’s rated PG).

From that year on, I actively sought leadership. I was class president through high school, and even served as the student body president. I was told over and over that I’m a natural leader. People told me I was blessed with the ability to lead – and I hope I never take that responsibility for granted.

Why do I want to be a leader? Is it about control? Power? Security?

Am I just bossy?

While society may agree with the latter (more on that later), I want to lead simply because I want to help others. I want to figure out how to make things work. I want to make life easier. I want to empower others by leading them with compassion and respect.

In 2012, I experienced my most challenging leadership role yet. From March until August, I served as the Camp Director for CentriKid Camps team 7. I was blessed with a remarkable team and an even more remarkable assistant director – who was also a female.

Women don’t always get the best rep as far as leadership in ministry goes. I had two summers of leadership positions with CentriKid camps, and in my experience, I felt like the organization supported, equipped, and encouraged women to lead.

Ellie (the assistant director) and I faced a myriad of challenges that summer. One of the lesser ones — albeit still a challenge — was gaining respect and authority as women leaders.

Our team was wonderful, but not perfect. I felt loved and respected by them, but I was more often than not viewed as the “mother.” Nurturing, caring, compassionate. I was the mother figure — I even had a nickname (Mother Mary).

I was deeply flattered by this – but at the same time, I was the mom. Not the Director. Not the boss.

A few of my staffers didn’t hesitate to speak up in situations where, if I had been a male, they wouldn’t have interrupted me. Sometimes they’d ask me to do things like throw away the trash they were holding – which I did, because I wanted to be a servant leader – but the sexism still stung.

As director, I was the final say. The big cheese. I was responsible for all camp operations – everything fell on my shoulders. I responsible for managing a team of staffers as well as leading the adult group leaders who came to camp.

Would you ask your boss or manager to throw away your trash for you? Especially if you’re the same distance away from a trash can?

I feel like they asked things like that of me because I was a woman. I doubt seriously that male directors had other team members asking them to throw trash away.

I came across some church group leaders who would question my every move. One even yelled at me for having to cancel a week of camp due to a massive storm blowing in and destroying power for thousands of people in the area. We had no power and there was a 105 degree heat index.

I’m also not the first female director to experience sexism and disrespect from staffers. In fact, my instance isn’t half as offensive as other female directors I encountered.

So here we are. 2014. United States of America. Home of the brave. You can video chat with someone halfway across the world driving 70 miles an hour down the interstate on your phone.

Yet women are still discriminated against in the work place and don’t earn the same amount as men in many circumstances.

Why is there still gender inequality? Why is there still male-female income disparity?

Is anyone else out there still flummoxed by this nonsense?

 

words matter

I’ve only had a handful of nightmares in my 23 years so far. I’m not a wild dreamer in the literal meaning – in fact, I rarely dream at night. If I do have a dream, it’s usually ridiculous.

Example: I had several strange dreams before my wedding. They were all the same. I went to pick up my wedding dress, but the seamstress dyed it red and turned it into a pantsuit.

Anyway.

Of the bad dreams I’ve had, there’s one I remember vividly.  I was back in high school with old friends – people who had a huge impact on my life while I was growing up – and we were hiking through the woods behind the football field of my old high school. Laughing, talking, reminiscing.

After a while, I realized we were hiking a mountain. I didn’t notice how high we were until we finally came to a clearing. When we reached the top, the wind was blowing so hard none of us could stand. We could only crawl. My hands were slippery.

I then realized the surface of the mountain was white and smooth. The mountain was also hollow: there was a huge hole in the center that was a dark drop thousands of feet down. My hands still kept slipping.

I soon realized the mountain was a tooth.

If I stood up, I would either slide down the cavity to my imminent death, or fall off the side of the mountain. I watched my friends fall away one by one.

Out of nowhere, a helicopter came and the faceless pilot threw a rope ladder down to me. My only way to survive was to jump off the side of the mountain and grab the ropes.

I pulled up as fast as I could and threw myself off the mountain with my arms reaching above my head, searching for the ropes, trying to beat the wind.

I woke up before I knew if I made it or not. I was panicking. Sweating, crying, shaking. I was flooded with emotions: fear, anguish, dread, even adrenaline. It took several hours for my heart rate to come down.

(Fun fact: I despise teeth-related things.)

Why would I share this creepy dream with you? Because I think it has tremendous meaning. I am certainly not one to live by dream interpretation. But I do think there’s validity in what our nightmares can teach us.

I once heard that the presence of teeth in dreams was a symbol for words. Have you ever dreamed about your teeth falling out? Perhaps they can be symbolic of the words you say, meant to say, or wish you hadn’t said.

In my case, I dreamed about teeth as a mountain. An obstacle.

Words can be obstacles.

I don’t know about you, but I often struggle with finding the right words to say–especially in a lose-lose situation. (Either fall inside the cavity or fall off the mountain). In my dream, the only way to live was a tremendous leap of faith toward the ladder.

Why did I have an anxiety dream about words?

Because words matter to me.

Words can make my spirit soar and cut me to the bone.

Examples:

The awesome gentleman who styles my hair told me once that I have a Downton Abbey face. He said I have timeless beauty. That will forever go down as one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me — and I don’t think he was intending to make my day, but he definitely did.

When I was in high school, I was at a store with a guy I liked for a long time. We were exchanging a shirt he purchased earlier. The cashier gave him his change back — some bills and small change. He said, “The change is for your girl — but she’s worth more than that.”

The guy I liked replied, “Nah, she’s not worth much more.” The cashier smiled at me apologetically.

(I knew how to pick them in 11th grade, didn’t I?)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a margin of error for word interpretation. I don’t consider myself a highly sensitive person. I don’t go around looking for ways to be offended by “hey, can you pass the ketchup.”

But I do fear that in this age of social media, our words become more and more empty. It’s so easy to berate and bully others behind the screen of a smart phone.

How are you using your words?

Do you find yourself defending things you say?

This was posted on one of my favorite websites – Humans of New York – and I think this gentleman sums up my thoughts perfectly:

“I’m learning to be more careful with my words. Words that seem meaningless at the time can end up having a lot of power. Seeds that you didn’t even intend to plant can fall off you and start growing in people.”