Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Women are bombarded every day with different ideals of beauty. We are told that sexy is a thin girl in her (overpriced) underwear walking down a runway with fake angel wings. We are told that you must have a certain bra size, waist size, hip size, a thigh gap, ribs that can be noticed when you stretch, collar bones peeking through…you get it. We are told that if you don’t belong in the last two sentences, that you better have a pretty face. You should get your eyebrows done, have perfect skin, take at least 45 minutes to do all of your makeup, have long nails, long hair, long legs…you get it. You also have exude confidence, even on your worst days. Even when you’re told that you’re not sexy, you’ll never be sexy, so you should settle for cute but chubby.

Guys have it too. If a man doesn’t have a chiseled jaw line, broad shoulders, six-pack (or more) abs, thick muscles in his arms and legs, that “V” line on his  hips…. I swear I already see the girls nodding and picturing this hunk…you get it though. If a guy isn’t that, he isn’t lusted after either. Guys are told that they have to work out a lot to be attractive, even if they’ll never obtain the Hollywood body. He has to be funny, smart, not too nerdy and obsessed with video games. He also has to have a good job that pays well and makes you proud to be with him.

You might like a guy or a girl who isn’t those things. And if you do, great! You might be married to him or her. But you can’t help but carry the baggage of feeling like you don’t measure up to society’s standards. Or they carry the baggage and the weight of it in your relationship and it is really starting to do damage.

In high school I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I was so critical of every mark on my face, every ounce of fat, every hair out-of-place. Every girl I knew was the same way. And we sought attention, no, we sought confirmation of our value from guys. If a football player stared at us for a second we immediately tried to get more of his attention. If a “scene” kid was interested in us, we became “scene.” We wore tight clothes, revealing clothes, heavy makeup, whatever it took. We molded ourselves to whatever we thought others wanted us to be. We did whatever it took, or almost whatever it took. Some people died to achieve society’s standards. Some people felt so alone, so rejected because nothing they did to feel beautiful worked, so they ended their life or attempted to. Maybe that was someone you knew, maybe that was you.

I have carried this baggage, these heartbreaking issues, for a long time. My soul has felt so heavy, my whole body ached for relief. It wasn’t until I was worn out from trying to mold myself for someone else that I read this verse with the right mindset:

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV

He formed me. He covered me. He placed every hair, every birthmark, every nail, every muscle, and more. He didn’t do those things on accident–He did this meticulous work on me because he wanted me this way. I don’t have to try to mold myself to be anyone or anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we can’t color our hair (I do it all the time) or have piercings, or get tattoos. That’s up to you. I’m saying we need to take pride in ourselves, in who we are at this moment in time.

Do you feel overweight? Work out to take care of the body God gave you, not out of obligation to some superficial standard. Give me some workout ideas! I want to join you. Do you like putting make up on because it makes you feel beautiful or because you want to accentuate the beauty you already have? Go on and highlight those cheeks, line your lips, add some fierce wings. Tag me in your Instagram photo @anamercy . Getting a tattoo? Are you doing it to hide something or because you’re proud of something? Show me your favorite ink, tell me the story behind it. Putting crazy colors in your hair? Are you doing it because you want to cover up your mousey-brown hair or because you love purple and think it’s fun?  Send me pictures, tag me, I want inspiration.  Whatever you do to yourself, do it because you love yourself, not because you think it’s what society youareneededwould want.

Our beauty isn’t determined by what others think of us. Our beauty was predetermined by the one who looks at you with pride–the one who loved every inch of you while you were safe inside your mother’s womb. I look in the mirror now and smile at myself. When those thoughts of doubt, of low self-worth come creeping in, I stop them by remembering that God created me in His own image (Gen. 1:27), and that He loves me just the way I am. He loves you too.

Father,

Thank You for creating me. Thank You for my smile, my eyes, my ears, my nose. I thank You for the things I once wanted to change. You know how hard I’ve been on myself. You know the tears I’ve cried over wishing some part of me was what society said was beautiful. I know now that You find me exquisite. I know that You look at me with love and with adoration, the kind that Hollywood says I should search for in some guy. I know You place so much more value on me than I place on myself. I know You hurt when I don’t love how You made me. I strive to keep Your Word in my heart and on my mind. 

God, thank You for making me wonderful and marvelous. Amen!

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Are Christian and Christianity Just Words?

 

The other day I was asked what the word Christian means. And it stopped me for a second before I was able to respond. A Christian is “simply” someone who believes  God sent His only begotten Son to earth, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. A Christian believes  God’s Son’s name is Jesus. A Christian believes  Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. That Jesus then took the punishment we deserve because He loves us that much. That three days later, He was resurrected and told us that it was our turn to step up. That we should share what He did. And because of what He did, we have the ability to have an unbelievable relationship with God. That is Christianity.

I then heard “so everyone who says they’re a Christian believes that?”
And the answer was no. Some people say they are a Christian just get people off of their backs about religion. Some people say it because they want to have something in common with other people. Some people say it but don’t understand what it all means.
Then, there are some people who are afraid to say it. They are afraid of being lumped in with people who are bigots, sexist, racist, and more. They are afraid of this perceived notion of what Christianity is, of who Christians are. Or, they might not feel that they are a good enough person to call themselves a Christian. We have this notion that we need to clean up our act before God will consider liking us.

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you a good person. Actually, there is no true “good” person anymore. The one good person who lived and breathed on earth was Jesus. So stop putting people on pedestals because we will all eventually fall off, and you will be the one hurting more for believing in people instead of Christ. You could technically be a horrible person and God will still love you as much as He loves  Mother Teresa. You could technically believe in Christ and go to heaven but still be a mean, greedy, selfish person. There are no strings attached to salvation.

However, when you truly believe in the sacrifice Jesus made, it changes your heart. The love and hope that God provides settles into the cracks of your soul and heals it. It’s not a forced change. God doesn’t want to force you to do anything. But, when you are feeling that good, it’s hard to hide it from other people. It’s hard to want to keep it to yourself. When God is working in your heart, you will notice the hurting happening in the world. You will want to help. God will guide you to where people are if you are open to it. He won’t force you to though.

That sting in your heart, the ache in your belly when you see something horrible happening, that is God. That fire inside of you, wanting people to unify and act out against horrible occurrences, that is God. God loves you as much as He loves the people who hurt you. God loves the victim as much as He loves the culprit. When you do something wrong, that small twinge of guilt in your head or your heart is His heart breaking for you and the person you wronged. I believe it’s the hardest part about Christianity, about being a Christian. You don’t get loved more than anyone…but you also don’t get loved any less.

 I still can’t listen to how Jesus was crucified without crying. Without feeling the weight of my sins being nailed into Him. Without feeling the breathtaking release of knowing that I’m forgiven because of it. I still struggle with feeling worthy of such amazing love. Christ loves us fiercely. He is waiting with open arms for us to turn to Him and accept His love. His heart breaks for every extra second it takes. And the most amazing thing is that He doesn’t want anything from us. He doesn’t want us to clean up our act before we ask for help. He doesn’t want us to hide anything. After you come to Him your slate is wiped clean. Your purity is restored. Your addictions are broken. Your healed.

That is what being a Christian is. It’s knowing you’re a mess but trusting Christ to clean it up for you and guide you to your next step. It’s beautiful. And telling other people about being a Christian is Christianity. It’s letting them know that they don’t have to feel alone, be afraid, or stay on the pedestal.

Lord,

If anyone is curious about You, I ask that they open their hearts and thoughts to You. I pray that they accept the love, peace, and understanding that only You can give. Lord, I ask for your healing on everyone who is hurting. I ask that You continue to place them in my life, that I can continue to spread Your love to everyone I can. I know that I’m just one person, and that I constantly ask You for things. I know that I sin every day and to people watching I am not the best Christian. I thank You for Your mercy, for Your sacrifice. I am so grateful that You love me more than I could ever imagine. And I’m so thankful that You love us all the same.

It’s been a while…and this one is sad.

I can’t believe how long it’s been. I’m dealing with a lot of things. Mostly the end of my engagement. Yeah… I had gotten engaged to this wonderful man and then I realized I was being told no by God. Actually, it was more like God repeatedly telling me no and me ignoring Him. I didn’t trust that He had plans to prosper me and not to harm me. As far as I was concerned, I had been harmed two years ago and I wasn’t going to trust Him completely.

I know I’m the one who ended things. I know I gave him back his things, told him when he could get the rest. He’s been so kind, so sweet that I almost want to take it all back and change my mind. Almost. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to focus on just remembering to breathe. It doesn’t matter how swollen my eyes are, or how putting on makeup is a chore because it hurts. It doesn’t matter how empty and cold my apartment feels now that all of his things are gone. It doesn’t matter how much I miss his smile and touch, or his embrace, the kisses on my forehead, holding hands. It doesn’t matter how my left hand has an indention from his ring or how it’s already starting to go back to normal.

This is the hardest bandaid I’ve had to rip off. And I feel like I’ve left some traces of the glue behind. I’m still finding his stuff as I pack up my own. A sock, some shoes, a stupid empty water bottle. And each time it breaks my heart a little more. I realize I left a journal in his car and I want it back, but then I realize it means I have to contact him. So I do, because I just want one more hug. One more glimpse of his face, a small smile. I know that it’s just making the healing process take longer, but I’m not strong enough to say no to those opportunities.

And I know that God is right beside me, rubbing my back like the good Father He is. I know God is letting me cry into His shoulder and hugging me while I’m finally following His direction. It doesn’t make this hurt any less, it doesn’t make me accept it any easier. Not right now when it’s still so fresh.

I keep listening to that Sarah Evans song, “A Little Bit Stronger.” And I keep waiting to get a little stronger. Maybe I have been? I didn’t cry again until he took the last of his stuff. But maybe that was because I knew he had to come back and that was going to be one more hug and smile and face time. And I don’t want him to be hurting, I don’t want him to shoulder all the blame. Things just didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, the way I planned. And that’s okay.

I’m still so sad that we didn’t make it to one more holiday. We didn’t get to throw a Halloween party or even share a Halloween together. We’re not going to have a Thanksgiving together (he was deployed for the last ones.) We’re not going to have another Christmas morning together. Or New Years Eve.

And I just have to trust that God has something in plan for both of us. I have to trust that there is good in this goodbye. That I’ll be able to think of him and smile and know that we grew from this relationship and will treat the next one better. God is shaping us for the people that we’re supposed to become.

And maybe one day we can be friends. We can share where life is taking us, where God is leading us. I pray for that. I pray for him. I pray that he continues to allow God to speak to him, to guide him, to come to learn God’s love for him.

He was the first guy I really let into my life after…things I’ll post about in the future. He was the first guy to make me feel like it was all okay. And I know it will be okay again. So I thank him for that. It hurts like hell right now, but we’ll be okay again.

Lord,

Thank You for being close to the broken hearted. Thank you for binding up our wounds. I know I’ve done a crappy job of trusting in You for all of my desires and needs. And I know that You still love me, You still want to guide me, You will still heal all of my hurts. I need You, Lord. I know I’ve said it a thousand times before, but please help me keep breathing. Help me keep my focus on You and where you are guiding me. Lord, I ask that you guide others who are hurting and seeking wisdom. I don’t know what others are going through, but I pray that their hearts will open to you. I pray that they will accept the peace, love, and healing that You offer. And, God, thank you for this lesson. I may not appreciate it as much as I can right now, but I know that my future and his will be better for it.

 

Seven Times Seventy

I’ve been wanting to write about forgiveness for the last two weeks. Okay, that’s a lie. I haven’t wanted to write about this which is why I haven’t posted in two weeks. It’s been heavy on my heart and I’ve been struggling because I don’t think I’m really one to talk.

It’s a difficult thing to do, to forgive someone who has hurt you. How do you know if you’ve truly forgiven them? Do you just accept the apology and stay friends? Sometimes you know that the friendship isn’t healthy for both parties, but if you don’t stay friends did you really forgive?

The answer is yes. You don’t have to maintain a friendship just to forgive someone. You can part amicably and never have the cloud of unforgivingness over your head, or even worse, the resentment toward them in your heart.

What happens if you forgive someone, but they continue to mess up? Do we forgive even after they come to us asking for forgiveness for the fifth or twelfth time? In Matthew 18:22, Jesus says, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” If you don’t have a calculator handy and are as terrible at math as I am, that looks like this:

7 x 70 = 490.

Jesus says to forgive someone four hundred ninety times. Now, should we attempt to keep track of how many times we’ve forgiven someone?

What if Jesus did that? What if, throughout our entire lifetime, God was counting the amount of times we apologized for our sins? Do you realize that God views all sins on the same scale? We as humans don’t. We feel certain issues are worse than others. But it’s all a sin against Him. Jesus did not die on the cross to only save us when we lie, cheat, or steal. He forgives murder, abuse, and rape. He was on the cross, telling His Father, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Those people hadn’t even started to ask for forgiveness. They were dividing Jesus’ possessions instead of apologizing for crucifying Him.

I know forgiving someone who has hurt you is hard. It doesn’t matter what the deed was, how easy it should be to get over it or not. If you claim to love the Lord and trust in Him, you need to forgive. “For if you forgive men for their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men for their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14–15).

Onto part two of this struggle: Accepting Forgiveness.

 I thought forgiving someone was hard. I thought that trying to move past sins committed against me was hard. I thought writing about forgiving others was difficult. Admitting your own struggles is more difficult. Nothing is more humbling than realizing you are wrong and having to apologize. Nothing is worse than someone telling you that you are forgiven but you still feel guilty. You still walk around feeling that nothing you do is good enough. That you’ll never be forgiven entirely. That what you’ve done is too big of a deed to ever be completely forgiven.

For me, it’s not something that I’ve done against a friend or a stranger. It’s something between God and me, as a result of things that I am working on forgiving others for. It really calls into light Matthew 6:15, “if you do not forgive men for their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins.” I have lost sleep praying and crying. I have spent days in bed, not feeling strong enough to get up. This guilt, shame, and hurt just hangs on my heart, holding me down.

I’ve recently started going to church again. I thought everyone would just know what my shames are, what my fears and struggles are. But they didn’t. They welcomed me and I thought I could just keep hiding things. But God’s been working on me, more like in me.

The messages I’ve been listening to keep repeating in my head. I’ve opened my Bible more times a day in the last few weeks than I have in the last twenty years. Verses that I’ve heard in church before, so many times, are still being repeated—but I’m understanding them now. And on days where I’m feeling so low that I wonder if I really have any worth, that I’m afraid of not being valuable, Scripture starts running through my mind by the grace of God. Matthew 10:29-31 (my favorite Bible verses) says,

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear. You are more valuable than many sparrows.”

And 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

“What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price.”

Our God sent His only Son to die for all of our sins (John 3:16), not just the minor ones. We have to accept that the Jesus who forgave those who crucified Him is the same Jesus who forgives us. Then, we have to release that guilt that burdens our hearts and live.

Lord, 

I pray that whoever reads this can have a sense of peace in their life, over their struggles and hurts. Lord, I know I have a lot of growing to do. I know that I am not perfect in any sense of the word, but I ask that You help me to accept Your forgiveness and that You help me forgive daily. Every time resentment stirs in my heart, every time the same people apologize for the same mistakes, I will forgive and move on. I will not carry guilt or shame in my heart after I lay my troubles out to You and seek Your forgiveness. 

In Your name, amen.

Things They Don’t Say About Growing Up

Back when I was so excited to grow up!

I remember being a kid, being told to enjoy my life because it becomes more complex when you get older. I remember being in elementary school and developing my first (of hundreds) crush on a boy—and being told that there will be time to like boys when I’m older. I remember running to the mailbox and hoping I would receive one of those pretty envelopes that my parents received, being disappointed on an almost daily basis (thank you to my grandparents and Toys R Us for mailing me something for my birthday!), and being told that those letters weren’t fun. I remember watching my parents swipe their plastic to purchase something and being told that I should never use the creditcard for things. I remember all adults telling me I should do as they say and not as they do when it came to certain things because habits are hard to break.

Fresh college graduate!

Now that I belong in the young adult category, I must say that all of those pieces of advice were actually useful. Things are definitely more complex now. Boys have become men, but I’m still trying to figure out when the time is right to like them. And while they don’t throw a crayon to tell you they like you, they also don’t just tell you that they like you (at least the ones you wish would… long story). Those letters that arrive in pretty envelopes, those are bills. Those are not fun. I miss my Toys R Us and grandparent’s letters, although now I get ones from Starbucks and Joanne’s. Credit cards are a beautiful evil, and when you’re tempted to buy something you should always make sure you can pay it off that same month/week/day. I’m also glad that I didn’t pick up some bad habits, although coffee is an addiction I’m okay with.

 

However, with all the advice about growing up I received, I was never told a few important things.

My little brother before he started school

Number one: it hurts. When you finally get grown up enough to move out of your parents’ house and receive the pretty envelopes, it is so exciting. You have daily phone calls with your parents, sometimes talking on the phone two or three times a day. It’s not quite the same as being there, but it helps. After a while though, the phone calls aren’t as long or as often. And you’re a little sadder when you hang up because you weren’t there to get that goodnight hug or kiss. Then come the days that you’re not feeling well. All you want to do is lay on the couch and have dad bring you soup and have mom rub your head while your little brother goes and picks some flowers and says he hopes you feel better. Then comes the day that you meet a boy and things were great but then they’re not so great. And all you want to do is have your mom hug you and your dad get you chocolate and your brother make a house in Minecraft, dedicate it to said boy, and throw in so many explosives that the world has a huge crater in it (in the game, that is). And you want your friends from back home to come, make you get dressed up, take you out, and show you all the much more attractive boys the world has to offer the way they did the last time you had your heart broken. Then comes your first birthday without your family. And you miss them so much that you practically spend the whole month crying—at your desk at work, in the car on the way home, curled up on the couch on the weekend, etc.. Every time you notice the countdown to your birthday, you die a little inside and wish you could postpone it. Growing up hurts.

Favorite home-cooked meal

Number two: it’s beautiful. Yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot and you have days that hurt more and days that hurt less. However, you also have these beautiful moments when you do things you never thought you could. You buy your first bed, first couch, first dining room set. Your apartment starts feeling like a place you really can call home. Then it becomes messy and it is just like your room back home (sorry, Mom and Dad). The first time you make a meal from a random recipe you found online and it tastes incredible, for instance. You take pictures, post it all over Facebook and Instagram, and call your mom to tell her. And your dad, and your aunts and grandparents. And your friends back home click the like buttons and you are so incredibly proud of yourself. Granted, it took a few months and some really terrible meals to get to this place, but you had a kitchen all to yourself to experiment in. Then come the second and third meals, and soon enough your Facebook and Instagram is full of pictures of home-cooked meals. You get your own animal and start training him and feel a sense of pride in that. You play with him, walk him, have a companion that licks your face when you’re crying, and you don’t feel so lonely. You go back home often enough  (it’s so fun to surprise your family and just show up when you miss them a lot!) and make it a point to see some of your old friends. Those moments are even more special because they’re rare. You start making friends at work, you get introduced to their friends, and you start hanging out with them outside of the office. Granted, these people are not the same friends you had back home—no one can replace that group—but it’s time to accept that. It’s time to see how you are growing up and how beautiful that really is.

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My fluff ball, Rupert, and I.

Number three: it’s an ongoing process. This part is kind of annoying. Growing up comes in phases, and when one is finishing the next one is beginning—and it’s hard to tell when that moment is occurring. Writing things down on a never-ending to-do list is important. Doing laundry is important. Forgetting to do laundry sucks. Forgetting to make a payment/change the account number on payments sucks. You find a new apartment, maybe with your spouse, maybe alone but less expensive than your first place. You get to make the new apartment start feeling like home. You learn what events and holidays need to become priorities in your life, and sometimes you change those around. You meet the new guy who makes you smile and want to get dressed up, and you thank God that the last relationship didn’t work out. We are constantly changing, learning, relearning, meeting people, feeling sad, feeling happy… We’re constantly growing (up).

Could You Be My Memory?

Memory is becoming an increasingly addictive subject for me. Not just what we remember, but how, and when, and why. I remember how to write, but I have never actually been tested on my writing ability (meaning, do I know how to put the pen/pencil on a blank sheet of paper and create legible words that have meanings). I know how to formulate a sentence, I know the use of gerunds (now), phrases, clauses, modifiers, hyphens, semicolons, etc. But I have not been questioned on my knowledge of these things. I remember them when I am in a situation that requires my skills, but in everyday conversation, my knowledge of these details is as useful as a wet paper bag (that’s a simile!).

Last year, or so, I had a class called Science and Literature with one of my favorite college professors. (Remember my use of “or so”, I think it’ll be important later in this blog). We read this novel :

senseofanending

that has made a larger impact in my life than I expected it to. It’s about this man who is looking back on his life and his friendship with Adrian. I don’t know how much to say without ruining the story, but it is an incredible novel. I picked up on a connection between memory, time, and water — a symbolic necessity that I want to share. I actually typed a paper about the novel and the relationship it details about time and water and the way we remember things according to both. The more time passes between an event and our memory of said event is like a river. Minute details change, and over time, become an entirely different memory/river. Deep, right? My professor thought so too!

Anyway, since reading this novel, I think about the way I remember things. Last year, or maybe it was last semester, the semester before that… I knew “or so” was going to be important in this blog, because I wonder if the timing is really important. But, it is! The timing of my memory is everything. It determines when I started changing and thinking about these things, it determines what really happened. Now that I have run off on a tangent, I should return to my intention with this paragraph. But, I can’t remember.

I have that Sugarcult song stuck in my head now, Memory.

Oh, yes! I had to read through what I wrote to remember what I wanted to say. Why and When we remember things evolve the memory entirely. I remember we had that one guy, who I thought was a cute psychology professor, come into the class and talk about this. We give ourselves false memories when we try to remember something we are hazy about. We become so sure about being in Kroger when it was actually Publix, (this was part of his speech, but I don’t remember if those were the two places he mentioned) that we refuse to admit we were wrong, even if there is tangible evidence.

I’ll be thinking about impaired memory now, and what happens when things out of our control affect the way we remember things, or the ability to remember things at all.

Follow me on Twitter! @AneishaMercedes

Leave me a comment on your thoughts, memories, or ideas for future posts.

Words and Things

I am almost done with college! I have six more months before I join the elite Class of 2013. What do I have to show for it, as of right now? I think I should narrow this down to the past year. The past four years of college would be a lot of work;  going back to high school would be crazy. 

I have written over 1,000,000 words. Essays, short stories for class, research paper proposals, and projects all tallied up to create this feat. Over 1,000,000 words in one year. I never knew I had that much to say about things I was told to research. My favorite essay (yes I have a favorite) is the one in which I highlighted feminism found in The Little Mermaid. I had so much fun watching the movie for rhetorical aspects that promoted feminism, down to listening to the soundtrack to pick up words I sang along to as a child without understanding the meaning. Did you know Ursula promotes using your body, your sexuality, to get what you want? But, she gets skewered, and so do all her anti-feminism beliefs!

I wrote a short story for class this year, Like Vines. It’s about an elderly man, widowed two years ago, and living with Alzheimer’s disease. He walks through his house, trying to remember the life he shared with his wife, recites lines from her favorite poetry, and visits the rose garden she cared for and he pruned. The story involves a lot of symbolism and imagery, and I was praised highly by my professor and peers. The bittersweet-ness of this story was inspired by my grandfather, who lost his wife and lives with Alzheimer’s, and I wish he could understand me when I speak (English is his second language). 

Enough with sad things. I’m almost graduating! I have 3 jobs as of right now. I have edited 4 books (technically 3, but I’m on my third read through of the fourth). I work in retail at the mall, so I meet new people every day and I love getting to know these strangers; even if I only know them for a few minutes and then I never see them again. I am taking summer classes, for the second time in my life by choice. I have a great internship brewing, and I’m learning all about the History of Rhetoric. This history class is nothing like I imagined. We aren’t just following Greek history, we are doing an updated version that involves Asia, Africa, and Women’s rhetoric. 

More on that class later! I’ve got to get ready for work! Have a great day, readers!