Friday, August 29, 2008

Y los Viernes Doble...

So I've been in Haifa, Israel for a little over a year now - and I have a little over a year of my service here at the Bahá'í World Centre left. Naturally, I've been thinking (a lot) about what on earth I'm going to do with myself when I leave here. As I was running with Kalila the other night (yes, I'm still running!), I was thinking about how I just want people to feel beautiful and powerful and valuable to society - as they are, not as the machinery of advertising (ahem.) suggests they make themselves in order to be these things. Specifically beautiful - probably because, as a woman, I think we're all trying to feel beautiful... and not just outwardly.

Anyhow, I've decided to have a weekly Friday post of things that I find beautiful and inspirational. The first of (hopefully) many:

I think this image is captioned perfectly. There's a magical quality here that's completely tangible. L.O.V.E.

I truly love this sketch - not least because it kind of reminds me of myself (I wear my hair that way a lot). But if you check out the artist's site (support the artist!), I think that just about anyone can find an image that they can relate to - and seeing the simplistic beauty in the sketch helps (me) to find the simplistic beauty in ourselves.

I love this photo - not least for what she's wearing (which is totally and completely inspirational to me. In fact - if you know where I can find a cloche hat like this - holler at your girl!), but I really love the attitude in her stance and expression. Even in this crowd of men, she is so simultaneously tough and feminine. Wow.

So I hope that you like my first efforts - to learn where the photos came from, click on the pictures. Have a beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That's Why We Pray....

Sometimes I pray for patience - and God gives me opportunities to be patient.... And then the next day I have to pray for patience all.over.again. Sometimes God gives you tests and lessons you don't even ask for, though.

So, as you may know - I've recently started swimming again - and it's been almost 5 years since I've swam (swum?) competitively, or even seriously. Naturally, I'm clearly out of shape. But don't get distracted by my preemptive excuses - I'm a decent swimmer. In fact, at the pool I use (big shout out to Leobeck!), I'm consistently one of the stronger and faster swimmers. ...and I've started to get sort of hateriffic (thankfully only in my head) about having to share a lane with people I'm lapping.... *Back story: I'm trying to build my endurance, so I've set up some distance (which is totally relative) sets for myself*

Let me give you the verbatim conversation I had in the pool with my friend last night while in the middle of my set of 5x100s.

"Ugh. I've got to get off the wall before this [elderly gentleman] gets down here."

*At the 50 as I make my turn (thinking I'd lapped the guy)*
"Sorry about that sir."

*At the 100 as I come in to the wall*
"Dude. Did that guy just lap me? I thought I was so much faster than that!"
"Yeah - he starts out slow, but he keeps getting faster. I guess he just paces really well."

Sigh. Seems like God was giving me a lesson in humility.
But seriously? Old people in Israel ROCK! They're so tough! And truly the most confident, won't take attitude from anyone, survived a genocide, built a country people on the planet. It's kind of like getting to meet the pilgrims - but who are way cooler and more hard core.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

...Only Skin Deep

More efforts to effect a paradigm shift - as it were.
So it (it, in this case, is code for my thought process along this if/then trail) all began with a little "dresses I love" afternoon email... and this dress came up because it is lovely (as is Miss Maggie) and as (I largely suspect) a nod - encouragement, maybe - to my training to be in the next Batman.
Then it skipped over to an interesting article about the genesis of the modern conception of the Body Beautiful - with specific attention paid to the bodies of Olympic athletes. The author, Guy Trebay, states "It was the art historian Anne Hollander who noted that, even naked, the body is subject to fashion and that the body beautiful differs according to an era’s prevailing mores and tastes". What I find alarming is that, while all of the women I associate with are truly beautiful (not in a campy, real beauty is on the inside, every kid gets a gold participation medal kind-of-way) and intelligent and thoughtful and caring (and etc.) - there seems to be a greater than necessary emphasis placed on physical beauty.
In Ways of Seeing, John Berger posits that the point of advertising is to make the consumer (ahem. you and me) marginally dissatisfied with her or his place in society. Not dissatisfied with society in general - but with our own place in relation to it.
For me, this focus on physical beauty is really more about perfection. Because I (have been encouraged to) believe that what I am is not enough - but if I were more perfect - I somehow could be. *Please note my use of "more perfect". It is not an oxymoron. God has perfectly created me.*
But then I came across an interesting article about women in Pakistan - and it really made me reexamine my thoughts on what beauty is and can be. It turns out that Guy Trebay is right - beauty is about strength. It's just that real beauty transcends physicality.

In The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh is stated:

"O Man Of Two Visions! Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paradigm Shift...

I should preface this by telling you that I try really hard to not be a hater - but sometimes I just can't help myself....
The powers that be in Haifa (politically/civically, mind) have recently placed hand painted dinosaurs around the city - and, yes, you guessed it (!) I was having some serious hater thoughts about the whole display. But on Friday I ran into a friend and her (almost) 2 year old daughter on the bus - and her daughter, who is generally a very serious little girl, was so excited to see the dinosaurs that I had to change my mind and admit that they are kind of cute after all.
Isn't it funny, how when you stop and try to see things from another person's eyes - especially children - how bright and shiny and lovely things turn out to actually be?

Sorry for no images, but if you click on the link you can check out the creation....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mischief Managed...

As I mentioned on Thursday - I went swimming: real laps in a real pool (!) - this weekend. It was!
I think that one of the reasons I like swimming so well is because I feel really free and graceful in the water. If you haven't heard me mention it before... my klutz factor is gi.nor.mous! In fact, if I were a super hero (not that it would go this way on screen, per se. BUT!) and I had a trading card? klutz factor would easily be a 10.
But in the water being tall and long limbed and not being able to walk in a straight line so well as one might expect of a lady don't really matter - they're kind of beneficial. Ok, well the tall/long limbed part is useful and the walking part is clearly moot. (Tah Dah!)

P.S. Support the Artist! Click on the photo to check out the artist's website.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sneak Peek: Sport of Choice-Style...

There are the things I do for love... and then there are the things I do because I love them! I have searched high and low (and high, again!) for an affordable swimming pool in Haifa - to no avail.

But! I think I've finally found one!
I'm going to check it out tomorrow - I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You Know You Want To, Everyone's Doing It...

Once upon a time, when some friends and I were at the park near Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, CA, we heard some laughter. It was really loud - but sounded kind of forced-style. We eventually found the source: down on the beach below were about 10-12 people standing in a circle - just laughing. Eventually they got more and more into it. By this time, of course, we were totally into it, too. You see, laughter is totally contagious. They were doing "laugh yoga" (yeah. I know, but that's the cool thing about being from California. You can say stuff like that and actually get away with it - which is to say that no one will flex it beyond confirming that you are in fact from California - but I digress...).

So yesterday was Sara's birthday - she's pretty new, but really cool. Anyhow, she was taking one of those pictures where you're also in the photo - arms stretched out-style... Except no one in the photo was actually smiling (it was a little Stepford Wives...) - so I took it upon myself to try and make people laugh. Ultimately, Kalila and I got more out of my hijinx than the Wives. is evidenced below. Sigh, aimee piper!

Give it try: You'll thank me later, I promise.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Progress Report...

So I saw Batman again this weekend - on IMAX! And since it's been almost 2 weeks since I started running, I thought I'd fill you all in on my progress.
Ok, so not for long periods of time - but I've run twice each week since I decided (determined?) that Bruce Wayne could use a new leading lady - and I'm getting stronger each time I do it! That's pretty exciting, huh? I'm running again tonight - so if you have any advice on running - specifically running in a city - or on how to land a leading lady part - specifically in the same movie as your (my) Hollywood boyfriend - feel free to leave me a line!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Explains More Than It Doesn't...

T Street, San Clemente, CA
I suppose I should preface this by telling you that I heard this story from my parents about a year or two ago....

When I was a little girl, my Grandma Connie would take me to the beach (here) and she would read a book while I played with the other kids on the beach. Lo and behold, I approached my grandma with sand all over my little 5 year old's hands one day and told her that they were dirty. "Yes, Aimee - they are" to which I replied "but what am I going to do?!?" with all of the seriousness and consternation that my 5 year old self could muster.
The story goes that the whole family got a kick out this one - especially because I had apparently stumped my grandma. Naturally she had raised less dainty children than yours truly.
And there you have the genesis of my ocd-like need to wash my hands.... Although, to be fair, prior to my 20s, I was your not-so-average late blooming tom boy - but that's neither here nor there.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Power of (Really) Good Friends...

My friend Kadria took this picture of Kalila and I in the Wadi - the Arab quarter of Old Town Haifa, Israel. We were down there for the best falafel ever during our lunch break.
This is also the day I learned of my grandmother's passing. I love that Kalila and Kadria are so clearly trying to keep my spirits up - and that I'm trying so hard to let them.... I truly believe that God always gives you what you need; in this case really good friends. The support and prayers of my friends - whether here in Haifa or abroad - has been a blessing that I was only ever able to imagine cerebrally before. Now I know it in my heart how powerful friendship can be. Thank you.

The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh sums (and more than a little informs) my thoughts thus:

O Befriended Stranger!
The candle of thine heart is lighted by the hand of My power, quench it not with the contrary winds of self and passion. The healer of all thine ills is remembrance of Me, forget it not. Make My love thy treasure and cherish it even as thy very sight and life.
- Bahá’u’lláh
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