Opinion

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    Neglected Worldwide Suicide Epidemic

    Why is suicide a topic that is only broached when it takes someone we love? Why do we wait to learn how to spot the signs of someone who is contemplating taking his or her own life? When someone has thought about harming him or herself, why do we call that person a coward who is pathetically weak? Why do we feel the need to tell people to “snap out of it”? There are many myths spread about suicide and those who have thought about or attempted suicide. Thanks to the uninformed, one of those myths is that the people who kill themselves are pathetic. This is not a conversation, but instead a negative and uneducated rhetorical assumption. As someone who has reached out to many people who have struggled with the thoughts of taking their lives, I can tell you they are far from pathetic. The truth is they are scared, depressed (which is not a choice on their part), and at times feeling that leaving this earth will benefit their family and friends. And yes, we know this is untrue, but in those moments they feel this is real. Suicide will touch each one of us sometime in our lives, whether it is through a well-known, beloved actor such as Robin Williams, or through a co-worker who smiled every time we spoke to him or her. The after-effects are catastrophic, not only for the people left behind but for the community. In the last two months, Newberg has lost two young men to suicide. Loss of life is hard no matter the circumstance, and suicide often leaves more questions and blame than a natural passing. Here at George Fox, suicide prevention is barely talked about. While there was a brief mention of Suicide Prevention Week last fall, and suicide is discussed in some psychology classes, the collective student body, as a whole, is not talking about prevention or awareness. There is no active, educated conversation being led by the administration or by the student body. The Center for Disease Control has warned the world to stop overlooking suicide as something selfish, but instead encourages nations to educate and create prevention awareness. The suicide epidemic kills more people than car accidents, is the third most common killer of young people, and plagues our veterans. Perhaps it is time to ask yourself, “What can I do?” Imagine if a group of students, staff, and faculty took the initiative to either create a program or join a program in which those who are suffering can reach out without fear of judgment. What if the administration made mental health issues a priority on campus so the entire student body could engage? What if they mimicked some of our more outspoken students? Our students share their passions for injustice on campus. A few weeks ago, several brave and passionate students stood outside for 27 hours to bring awareness of human trafficking to campus. Last semester, over twenty students stood in a circle around the quad to protest events in Ferguson, Missouri. So in answer to the question, “What can I do?”, both you and I can create a space for honest, thoughtful, productive conversation here on campus. Suicide is nothing that should be shoved into a corner. We must move to bring it into the light and then talk about how we can prevent it. As the body of Christ, each of us should be looking to hold up one another. Let us be stewards who offer a smile, hand, and friendship to those who are hurting beyond our understanding. One person can make all the difference in someone’s battle with suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255. This is a twenty-four hour hotline.  
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    Coming Home

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    February 25, 2015
    When the twinkling blue seas below my airplane window gave way to patchwork quilts of fields and farms; when the border control agent’s stern face slipped into a smile when I (excitedly) revealed this was my first time in the U.K.; when I walked out of customs only to find a coffee shop and realize that Britons do drink other beverages besides tea: then, I felt I never wanted to leave this country called England. That feeling persisted throughout my first couple months as a visiting student at Oxford University. I couldn’t get enough of the narrow and winding streets, the Hogwarts-esque libraries, the dreaming spires of churches and chapels. The thought of returning home haunted me. Who wants to think about Oregon rain when you have Oxford rain? I was too busy—with academics, cycling to and from the city, and constant amazement at my surroundings—to ever truly be homesick. When the end of term finally arrived, I bid emotional and exhausted farewells to my housemates, unable to grasp the fact that we were done. We couldn’t be done—not yet. I’d only just arrived! I had believed my return to George Fox would be blanketed by clouds of melancholy and longing. Why is the library so small? I imagined musing, with perhaps a single tear rolling its way down my cheek. Why is no one wearing tweed? Clouds actually did blanket the sky that first Monday of the spring semester—but they consisted of moisture in the air, not of my roiling emotions. I walked across the quad, my eyes drinking in sights and faces both strange and utterly familiar. No pangs of longing pierced me. No sighs escaped me. Instead, I walked, and watched, and gave the occasional hug and 30-second spiel about my “trip.” I was back, and I was happy. Happy? No! shouted a voice from the back of my mind. You can’t be happy! Where are those dreaming spires? Where are the accents? Where is the intellectual stimulation? This is not where you belong! I ended up sharing this voice’s remarks with a friend from Oxford over Skype. “It’s weird,” I told her, “but I’m actually feeling pretty content about being back. I feel a little guilty about how content I am.” “Don’t say that!” came her quick reply. “You shouldn’t ever feel guilty about being content!” That conversation has stuck with me as I’ve pondered and processed this past year. Sure, I miss Oxford. But I have also come to realize that there exists a beauty in transition—of turning the final page of a story well told. Oxford was a story that was told beautifully. Now, it’s time for the next chapter. Don’t be ashamed of going home. Don’t be ashamed of being happy there.

    Why my date of birth is the worst!

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    February 17, 2015
    It is coming! Somehow it has crept up on me like Ellen DeGeneres in the bathroom of her celebrity guests to scare them. My stomach churns with loathing as it approaches. I would avoid it if I could, but Hallmark and couples won’t let me. Now, you might think I am talking about Valentine’s Day and you are somewhat right. However, it is not the reason you would think.. February 14 is my birthday, every darn year, and it sucks! There will be no Captain Picard or Minion gifted to me–no matter how much I want to put both into my pocket to remind me of all the fantastic things this world has to offer. Those who have other holiday birthdays have nothing to truly complain about because, with other holidays, there is no pressure to be in a relationship. There are no looks of pity as someone hears you are single and proud of it. There are no, “But dear, you are getting older and your have four cats” comments—and I do have four cats and there is nothing wrong with it. Seriously though, I wish my mom would have forced me out ten minutes later. I burst into this world at 11:53 p.m. My dad was shouting, “Hold the baby in, a boy can’t be born on Valentine’s Day!” (They did not know they were having, surprise, a girl.) As a young precocious child, I didn’t know my birthday was on the worst day of the year. Really, pink and red clash. Hearts are fabricated. Flowers are sacrificed. “Love Me or Love Me Not” candy is made the year before and sold for more than what I make in a year. Romantic movies are forced down our throats setting up unrealistic relationships—hello “50 Shades of Grey.” And lest we forget, the Valentine’s cards that are read once and then recyled! Or the birthday cards that are for those unfortunate souls who were born on Valentine’s Day. When I started junior high, I realized some people did not want to be my Valentine. There were people who did not want to celebrate my big day. However, my mom would send me a giant balloon basket with a teddy bear inside to school. My principle would call me to the office over the paging system. “Heather Horney, please come to the office right now. Ms. Horney please come to the office.” My last name is HARNEY and yet, every year I would hear HORNEY. I never asked my bumbling principal if he did this to be ironic or he just loved humiliating me but are you starting to see why I hate my birthday? Even with my first love, I bought more things for him than he did for me on Valentines. All I received was a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I could credit him with surprising me with a visit from my mom, but that was mom’s doing. Are we seeing a pattern here? The forced idea of romantic love being celebrated on my birthday or the overwhelming feeling that I am less than because no one besides my family gives me a card that says they love me has blemished this day each year. I don’t expect the following: 1) Flowers (they bring bugs and DIE).   2) Expensive chocolate (I already get a free truffle each month from Godiva). 3) A birthday cake customized just for me (one year I was given a boob cake—I am not kidding). 4) A love poem from Idris Elba (but this meme makes me happy).   5)  Have Rick Astley serenade me with “Never Gonna Give You Up” (because this would be awesome).   6) Have my future husband take me out to celebrate our love once a year (that should happen every day because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it people like me). What I do expect to happen is to receive a call from my dad, mom, and sister to tell me “Happy Birthday.” I expect Facebook to remind my friends that it would be very uncouth to not say “Happy Birthday” on my page. I anticipate watching “My Bloody Valentine” because I love me some Jensen Ackles and action/slasher films on the day of my birth. With only a few more days until I became another year older, another year wiser, and another year free from the shackles of “expectations,” my birthday wish is for each of you to take a moment to love each day. I hope that maybe, just maybe, if you meet someone who shares the same birthdate as I that you will give him or her a hug or treat him or her to a movie or offer him or her a chance to burn all Valentine paraphernalia in your backyard.

    Escaping the January Gym Scene

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    December 11, 2014
    January is about to roll around and a new crowd will soon take over the gym equipment. Some of them might use the machines in a way you could have never imagined. A swarm of people will be found on the treadmills and ellipticals, partly from familiarity with the equipment and partly out of “first time at the gym ever” embarrassment. The weight room will appear more crowded than usual, with folks glowing with sweat and the hope of accomplishing their New Year’s Resolution of finally getting those muscles worth showing off. For those who habitually visit the gym, these new faces and appearances may be overwhelming or annoying when it comes to sticking to our routine workouts. What are we to do when our indoor exercise outlet is taken over by newfound dreamers, who may or may not stick around for longer than a month? If you have to get your daily run in, try taking to the reality of the trails, streets, or sidewalks. It might snow, rain, hail, or even simply be a really cold day with a bit of wind chill. Throwing a twist into your exercises, such as stadium workouts or a bit of a focused core workout, will get the other body parts you’ve been granting only so much attention. If you can’t work up the warmth to face the cold and can’t stand around waiting for your favorite workout machine, go try something new in the gym. There’s no better time to try out something new than when everyone else is doing the same thing.The only difference is you might have a clue as to what you’re doing. If you have to, pick a different time of day if your usual workout time is clogged with newcomers. According to the Telegraph, about 12% of gym memberships start in January. However, the Telegraph also said  “Fitness Industry Association said that almost 22 per cent of people who join will have thrown in the towel after 24 weeks. A further 20 per cent will disappear before December.” If anything, lead by example and try to help out the newbies this time of year. Try a new class or check into at-home workouts that avoid the whole congested gym situation all together. Don’t let the January gym-goers get you down.

    A Silent Calling

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    December 11, 2014
    Silence. We are called in the silence. Sometimes it may be a gentle voice, a soothing whisper, or a tug on your soul. Regardless of how the call generates, you are called to serve The Master. Repeated calls flow and ebb like the cerulean sea guiding you towards an emerald paradise or crashing you violently among the jagged grey rocks of a land embattled by fear and rage. He calls you; even amidst a noise so deafening you seek to stop hearing at all. So child, why do you stubbornly keep running? Your feet are worn and scraped. Your shoulders bear the weight of a hundred oak branches. Your face is falling towards the earth from weariness and flash-tear floods. “Why do you fight so?” This is something I have heard God ask me a lot lately. I try (and maybe this is my problem) to stay strong, listen, and walk where He leads. But I have moments where I yank back control and declare I am superwoman. I don’t know if I do this with malicious intent, but I acknowledge I do this—too much. I fight the one person I shouldn’t. I could blame my humanity and call it a “fickle failure” but I can’t. Each time I try to control my life, I drown in life’s noise instead of drowning out life’s noise. I should be praising Him always. Why don’t I? Honestly, I can act like a raccoon—I see something shiny and it grabs my full attention and I won’t let go even if it means my freedom. Light and shadows distract me. Too often, I allow the world to suck me in. When God is calling to me in silence or in a whisper, I can’t hear Him when I am walking the other way or when my desires mute all other things. I know a lot of us are going through rough times. I have days where I feel like I have been beat with a bat. I have days when I am tortured by a thousand tiny paper cuts that never seem to heal. However, more often than I acknowledge, I have days where all of creation sings with me in worship of a Father who only wants to love me and guide me in His purpose. In those moments, I feel as if I can fly. So in the midst all of the noise in my life, today I ask for silence. I don’t want to be in control. I want to hear God call and direct my footsteps. No longer do I wish to wrestle with my stubbornness but instead learn to anchor deep, hold on, and pray. God, please meet us here and cut through the noise. Help us hear you. Silence all of our worries, doubts, grief, and anxieties. Heal our pain. Heal our loved ones. Heal our hearts. Help us stop running away. Turn our eyes towards you. Show us how to anchor deep. Show us how to hear you through everything. “He wasn’t in the fire. He wasn’t in the quake. He wasn’t in the wind. He is the whisper here.” ~ Bluetree.

    Leave George Fox!

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    December 11, 2014
    Leave George Fox! Get off campus as soon as possible. An epidemic is spreading and none are safe from it. The epidemic is known as overwhelming lethargy. The symptoms consist of lack of motivation, loss of identity or self-purpose, unshakable laziness, and pure apathy. I know these symptoms because I have been infected. At this point in the semester, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of schoolwork stacking up—papers, presentations, readings, exams, deadlines—all piled on top of each other until I am the one who topples over. I keep feeling that there is hardly any time to get these assignments done, let alone socialize or sleep or have some me-time.   But there is a solution: leave George Fox. Don’t unenroll from all of your classes and pack all your bags into your Honda civic and drive down 99 waving goodbye. But do take the time to step away from the fenced in bubble we find ourselves in. Open the gate and give yourself a break. There is something about being off campus that always reminds me of how big the world is. It is nice to sit in a coffee shop and watch normal people walk by, remembering that the world goes on after college, that my life will not be defined by the test I have tomorrow morning. It is nice to go to James Project on Saturday mornings and take time to focus on someone other than myself, remembering that this life is not about me. The world is bigger than the twelve page paper I have to write. Whether it is taking a walk in a park, going and getting coffee, going to church on Sunday, going on and adventure with friends, find some way to get off of campus and take a moment to put life back into perspective. It is easy to be overwhelmed by work and think, “I can’t do such and such right now because I could be studying.” And while working hard is great, every once in awhile we have to take some time to refill of tank of joy and energy and purpose because no one can run on empty forever. So I hope you will soon be able to find what it is that reminds you of who you are and brings you joy. I hope you can avoid the epidemic of overwhelming lethargy. Leave George Fox. Get off campus. Take some time to live.

    Joy is a Noun

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    December 11, 2014
    Last week, in my C.S. Lewis class, a classmate did a presentation on the difference between joy and happiness. When she gave us the definition of both words, I was immediately struck by the fact that “joy” is a noun while “happy” is an adjective. Why is this important? Joy is a part of us, woven into our very core. Happy is a construct in which we find temporary elation; happy is not an eternal state of being. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines joy as “A vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction; the feeling or state of being highly pleased or delighted; exultation of spirit; gladness, delight.” The word happy means “Senses relating principally to good fortune.” My classmate also pointed out most concordances show the word “joy” is mentioned at least 213 times in the Bible while “happy” is only mentioned 21 times. The Word of God places Joy above happiness of good fortune. We are to be joyful in all things. Galatians 5:22-26 says: “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Being happy is not one of the fruits of the Spirit; however, a few moments of happiness allows us to praise God if we keep our eyes focused on Him and not the world. Saint Augustine wrote in his Confessions IX 1: “How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure . . . At last my mind was free from the gnawing anxieties of ambition and gain, from wallowing in filth and scratching the itching sore of lust. I began to talk to you freely, O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.” Why can’t I profess myself to God like this? I know I am not supposed to covet things or gifts that are not mine, but I hunger to explore the deepest chasm within and have God guide me through my search. I want the kind of joy that is fruitful, joy that is unending, true, free of worry, so overwhelming that I don’t seek an earthly fortune; the kind of joy that helps me change circumstance and follows into eternity with my Father. Too often, I find myself looking to be happy. I look to feel something like good fortune. The problem with feeling is the same thing as being happy—it is temporary. We feel pain for a while. We feel grief in waves. We feel happy until we don’t. We feel like a failure. We feel successful. We feel pleasure. But yet, none of these feelings are permanent or restorative. Lewis wondered if “all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.” In Psalms 52, King David cries out to God asking for mercy after the prophet Nathan called him out. David was devastated, not solely because he got caught in his sin but because he had turned away from God’s wisdom by seeking earthly pleasure. Verses 10-12 are familiar to most Christians but, after I heard my classmate’s presentation, I noticed, maybe for the first time, David’s call for the restoration of joy in God’s salvation. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,     and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence     or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation     and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Joy is something we may not be actively seeking right now. I can admit that I am just trying to get through this semester. I am not sure how to ask God for anything but focus, clarity of mind, and time to finish my projects because I don’t know how to rest in joy and I don’t seem to have time to learn about this. But I know I need to seek joy as there may not be a tomorrow. In Lewis’s biography, Surprised by Joy, he said, “The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.” I have been sitting in nonsense. If Lewis is right, that joy has a nature, I have been deaf to God’s calling me closer to His refining fire and salvation of joy. I need to step off this temporary merry-go-round and strip off the worldly definition of joy and common misunderstanding of the pursuit of happiness in order to find true joy, His joy. Joy is a thing within us. Joy is a gift from our Father. Joy will only get stronger when we are with God. So if you hear me say, “I am happy” or “doing ____ will make me happy” please hold me accountable for remaining entrenched in nonsense. My name is Heather and I no longer seek happiness; I pursue joy!

    Tough Questions about Modesty

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    December 9, 2014
    By Kyle Privette – Guest Contributor With excitement and trepidation, Mark walked the paths of the George Fox University campus on his first day of classes. By now he was slowly getting used to the idea of living at school, a school that was several times larger than the high school of his hometown in Washington. Despite being anxious about whether he chose the right major or not, Mark was comforted by the knowledge he was in a Christian school that would support him on his journey. Then, to Mark’s surprise, the women he saw walking the path in the opposite direction were wearing short shorts – if they could even be called shorts – that went up past their thighs and wavy white tank-tops that showed off their cleavage. As his eyes slowly returned to the women’s faces, they looked at him with scorn and that infamous “You pervert!” face. Mark couldn’t believe it. Before his first class at a Christian university he had seen more skin than he had in all his years in high school, an institution which actually enforced their dress code. He hadn’t been undressing them with his eyes, at least not intentionally, but the way they dressed made it hard for him not to stare and admire their beauty – something Mark suspected they wanted. He was annoyed they looked at him in such a way. Embarrassed and angry, Mark trudged off to his first class of the semester. Emily was likewise eager to start her freshman year, enjoying the beautiful sunshine of the late Oregon summer. She’d gotten a great tan on the beach and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to wear anything to show it off after reading the student handbook and its section on appropriate dress. It seemed Christian schools believed women had to dress like nuns just to keep men from being perverted. She didn’t want to tempt her brothers in Christ, but she wanted to be free from such silly social restrictions. It was the 21st century after all. To her delight, most of her floor-mates felt the same way, and she pulled on her favorite tank-top, relishing their compliments on her tan. On her way to her first class, Emily noticed a few guys looking at her and smiling. She hadn’t really been noticed much in the halls of her high school back home, especially not by guys. Her new outfit and golden skin seemed to have made her an instant celebrity, something that made Emily feel like maybe GFU would finally be a place where she could be herself and not worry about social expectations. Mark’s and Emily’s dilemmas mirror one faced by GFU as a whole. While students attending this university are hopefully mature enough to respect each other and not stare at bodily features, one has to wonder just how far a Christian university should go to protect the virtue of its students, male and female. Mark believed the women on the path were objectifying themselves and blaming him for admiring them. Emily believed women have the right to dress in a way that is pleasing to them rather than inside strict rules that seem to only apply to their gender. Both of these viewpoints have merit, yet the student body cannot continue to avoid the fact that there is a need for discussion on the issue. It seems that the dress code and the strict Lifestyle Contract were written up to placate the parents of students, yet these rules aren’t regularly enforced in order to placate the students who feel their rights are being violated. How little clothing for men and women is too little? How can we reconcile our right to dress as we please with the respect of others who might be tempted to objectify us? Such a discussion can be started by as simple an action as asking your friends what they think. You may be surprised by the answers you hear.

    How to Do Christmas Right: Part 2

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    December 2, 2014
    Thanksgiving is now forgotten; there are not even any leftovers from that wonderful meal. The only focus left is one quickly approaching date – December 25. People will now begin to participate in their yearly holiday traditions. There are some classic traditions like building gingerbread houses, shopping for gifts, ice skating, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and so many other things. Participating in these activities is always fun and should definitely be done, but perhaps trying something new or starting a tradition special to you will keep the Christmas season closer to your heart.                                                                           In my family we have a tradition concerning gingerbread houses. We love to spend all day creating a house that best represents us, and then we vote on the best creation. They can become very intricate. Usually my mother’s is a small but extremely delicate, well-organized house. My brother’s is usually some type of a battle scene; this usually includes a fortress, weapons, and gummy bears in varying states of distress. I always like to build a somewhat large house with a front and back yard, depicting a simple family life, by having gummy bears posed in the middle of every-day actions. Gingerbread house making is an awesome way to be reminded how different everyone is within our small family unit. Another gingerbread house making tradition is that of the Burr family. They build these gingerbread houses to commemorate their beloved late aunt. Several years ago their aunt started the tradition of building intricate gingerbread houses. She passed away due to breast cancer, and they now do it in remembrance of her. They always add a little bit of pink.                                                                      The Culbertson family has a special gift-opening tradition. Lizzy Culbertson said, “Instead of giving out gifts based on who they are to, we pass out the gifts based on who they’re from, and then we give them out one at a time so it’s more about giving than receiving.” Other families have more simple traditions for present opening, like the Cunningham family, who watches “A Christmas Story” every year after opening their presents. These are just a few examples of special family traditions you will find in almost every house. Don’t forget the generic traditions because you can never go wrong with hot cocoa in front of a toasty fire, or spending time with loved ones. Put your all into your family’s yearly traditions and appreciate them for the meaning behind them. But also don’t be afraid to start a new tradition! Just remember to have fun this Christmas and to not waste your Christmas break. Do Christmas right and have fun!

    How to Do Christmas Right: Part 1

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    November 24, 2014
    Many will probably look and see that Christmas break is four weeks and two days long. The initial attitude students have when seeing that is, “Oh that means plenty of time to sleep and relax.” Sleeping and relaxing is important and enjoyable, but there are better ways to maximize your Christmas break. There are many things necessary for the Christmas season, and there can still be plenty of time to relax. Some of these activities are caroling, cheesy Christmas movie watching, gingerbread house making, ice skating, bazaar shopping, decorating, listening to Christmas music, and baking. This list is just some of the most important things one might do; the list may seem long, but these things can greatly improve your Christmas season. The best way to make the most of the Christmas season, is to begin celebrating right away. Right as Thanksgiving ends there is a noticeable change in the air. The crisp cold outside is no longer viewed as painful, but as a lovely reminder of what season it is.  Almost all the leaves have left the trees and what remains are beautiful, haunting trees. Trees that remind us of death, but also assure us that there is hope and life soon to come. The only trees left are the lovely evergreens or, as I like to call them this time of year, Christmas trees. The day after Thanksgiving is known to many as Black Friday. In my family it is known as the day we go in our backyard and cut down a Christmas tree. Some people can’t go in their backyard to cut down a tree, but most can find a Christmas tree somewhere. Without your Christmas tree and decorations it is impossible to truly begin your Christmas season.   I love to dedicate a whole day to this. If you have a cut-your-own tree business nearby, cutting down your own tree is the most magical experience. You can hunt for the perfect tree that is shaped just right for your home. If you can’t do that it is still almost as fun to buy a tree from a store. Once you have your tree inside your house and you are ready to get down to decorating, begin blasting your favorite Christmas music! Pull out decorations, some that are new and some that are SO old you have no idea when you got them. Just go crazy with them, and have everyone participate. There will be multiple styles of decorating portrayed on the tree and throughout the house, but this is the best part. The whole family is represented in these Christmas decorations. Take this time to sing out loud, dance, be creative, and spend quality time with your family. Go all out and decorate until you feel like you are about to drop. When you have finally created your masterpiece, sit back and relax. Have a warm drink, eat some cookies, and admire what you have created as a team. These decorations will be up in your home for almost a month. Having a pleasant, fun day putting them up will inspire good memories in all for the rest of the season every time they admire this creation.  

    Feminism in the Weight Room

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    November 24, 2014
    Back before college, there was always a table where all the cool kids sat at lunch. In some schools, that table and the right to sit there were a big deal. No one, uninvited, sat at the cool kids table because the people who sat there intimidated the people they didn’t know and welcomed those they shared similarities with.  This intimidation factor also applies to any weight room. The weight room is a sort of “clubhouse.” If you walk into any gym, you might notice free weights in the corner, while other machines take over the floor area. Separate from where the treadmills and other cardio machines may be set up, the population is often sparse but entirely male dominant. If you hung up a “No Girls Allowed” sign, no difference may be had at some gyms and fitness centers.  The weight room can pose as a scary place to venture as a female because, bluntly, it’s not normal and sometimes visually stated as unacceptable to be a girl lifting weights. People stare when something new enters the picture. When a female walks into the weight room, her defenses go up and her mental judgments swarm her mind with any pair of eyes she spots locked on her. When boys stare, girls can become extremely self-critical about anything they do. In some gyms, even the Wheeler weight room, there is a smaller space nearby that offers stretching mats, yoga materials, and a few meager weights.  It’s almost as if females are expected to slack off or be unable to push themselves when it comes to athleticism. There’s an unspoken hint that suggests the heavy lifting should be left for the naturally stronger gender. This is a confidence issue as much as it stands as a fitness issue. Females feel unsettled when it comes to the weight room because of the weight of judgment of internal laughter, respect for a fit lady, or exclusion. Confidence is one of the best qualities anyone can carry with them. Numerous amounts of women aren’t confident or proud of the body they were given, yet can’t find the independence or strength to go make the change on their own.  The shame of a body comes from society’s interpretation alone. One who is ashamed of their body has only accepted society’s theory of physicality. Breaking the stereotype is difficult and scary sometimes, but it’s worth it when it’s all making a mentally and physically stronger individual. There are pregnant women doing Cross-Fit courses and competitions. There are little girls born and raised in an athletic world. Others make a turning point and become fit by their own choice. Getting up, going to the gym, and sticking with the hard workouts are what changes you from the intimidated to the intimidation. The weight room doesn’t have to be a scary place and the ladies can be the cool kids.