Tag Archive: challenge


I am going to interrupt my currently unfinished Turkey posts to write about banned books (which, incidentaly, I can relate to Turkey).  Banned Book week, starting October 2 in the US begs the question…what will you be reading?

When I was a kid I had free reign on my book collection. I am pretty sure my parents didn’t moniter terribly closely what I was reading. That being said, they didn’t need to. I would read a new book and tell them about it or talk to them about things in the book. They trusted me enough to not read anything I shouldn’t (and I didn’t). They also trusted me enough to make up my own mind on the books I read and decide for myself whether or not they were worth reading (shock horror!).

Banned Books Week isn’t trying to bring awareness to the blatant censorship in countries such as Cuba and China or North Korea. It’s about censorship in the good ol’ US of A. I did a thesis at MSU-Billings on censorship of textbooks in public schools and briefly touched on censorship of regular books as well and frankly, it was quite shocking the list of censored books and the amount of control that one family has over textbooks in the US.

Many classic books which I think should be required high school reading are frequently challenged and sometimes banned from all sides of the spectrum for various reasons. I am not saying that all book challenges come from super conservative, religious right nutters. While a majority of the challenges down south may come from that side of the spectrum, there are also a significant number of challenges from a the extreme left wing liberals.

The conservatives normally object to books because they are blasphemous, contain violence, adult language, sexual references or depict scenes contrary to Biblical teachings. I own a children’s book that was one of my favourite books called “Love You Forever” that was actually banned because it showed a child not listening to his parents and said he used bad words in front of his grandmother. This is central to the story however as the book is about how a mother will always love her child no matter what and her child will always love her no matter what. I believe the overarching theme behind the book negates the fact that a child was misbehaving.

The liberals normally object to books that contain sexism, racism or other forms of discrimination or ‘political incorrectness’. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee come to mind. This book was challenged from all sides, but a significant number of the challenges were race-related. Depicting blacks as a lower class (admittedly there was a lower class white trash family in it), a distinct lack of civil rights and the blatant racism all contributed to the challenges against the book. But lets ignore the fact that it had a strong message that you shouldn’t be racist, you shouldn’t teach your kids racism, you should stand up for what is right and not what the majority thinks. It’s also history. It may be a fictional story, but the fact of the matter is that it used to be like that in certain parts of the US. This is part of America’s history and it shouldn’t be denied. It should not be swept under the rug. It should be used to help shape a better future.

Australia is a prime example of sweeping history with Aboriginals under the rug. The stolen generation is a rather embarrasing point in Australia’s history, surpassing even that of the ‘White Australia’ policy to stop immigrants coming in (which funnily enough included Caucasions). It wasn’t until quite recently, years after Aboriginals were recognised as both human and citizens under the Constitution, that they even started teaching anything about Aboriginal history or culture in schools, and even still it is apparently only touched on.

Books are challenged because they frighten people, because they challenge the status quo, because they are ‘politically incorrect’ or because they are against certain people’s ideals and beliefs. This is no reason to ban any book. Kids are usually more aware than the older generations give them credit for and are perfectly capable of reading a book like Catcher in the Rye without wanting to go out and drink, smoke, swear and hire a prostitute. A well-written and timeless book is meant to challenge you. It’s meant to make you think outside your box and it’s something you should learn from. By all means, read Jodi Picoult or Stephen King and get your kicks from these novel mills that really have no significant way of challenging your mind. I love reading books like that when all I want to do is kick back and relax after a day of having my brain fried at uni. But try to read a book that will challenge you. A book that you may not necessarily agree with or a book that could change your opinion on something, or at least get you to consider your position.

So the question remains. What will you be reading during Banned Books Week?

xoxo Aryn

Hey you. Yes, you. Over there. The one who has been staring out the window for the past 15 minutes lost in a daydream. I’m not going to ask what you were daydreaming about because that would be incredibly rude, but I am going to talk to you about daydreaming anyway, especially if it’s about traveling.

I used to dream all the time. Still do as a matter of fact. I also follow my dreams. There is no half-assing it here when it comes to doing what I want. One of my dream anthems as of late has become “Same in any language” by I-nine. It’s all about wanderlust.

I blame my sense of wanderlust and my “liberal” leanings on my parents (yes, Dad, you are at fault). You know how some people keep porn magazines in a box in the basement closet? Yeah, my Dad keeps National Geographic in a box in the basement closet. I swear he must have every issue since 1975. He also kept some of his more useful college books, and by more useful I specifically refer to a book on Norse mythology. It was this early exposure to the world and other cultures, along with a distinct lack of being taught that other cultures are evil by my parents that I wanted to travel to all these amazing places I saw in magazines. Shockingly enough, not every place was outside of the US. I still have yet to see the Red Dunes in Utah, a place I’ve wanted to see since I was 9. However disapproving my parents are of my constant need to travel, it’s their fault.

However, it must be said, despite the fact that they think my money would be better spent elsewhere (paying my tuition loan for instance :P) , they have always supported my dreams, however far-fetched they may have seemed at the time (going to Australia for college for instance). When I got my acceptance letters to uni’s here in Sydney it was one of those “oh shit! She was serious” moments for my parents (and most everyone else I might add).

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a support network of people who believe in following your dreams, whatever it takes, like I did/do. At this point in time I would recommend seeking out someone supportive if you fall into that category. I would also like to pay homage to those who did believe in me and supported my dreams (other than my parents, who have been putting up with my outlandish dreaming since before I can remember, as evidenced above).

One of those people was my neighbour across the street back home. Cynthia, who was an English/Maths teacher (probably still is) was one of my summer companions. During the summer when I saw her working outside in her garden I would go over and sit and talk with her, maybe help her in the garden, help her clean out her garage or the house, or do other yardwork for her. She also made AMAZING cinnamon rolls and would always save one for me. One time her dog ate the last one that was being saved for me and I’ve held a grudge against that dog ever since. Anyway, she never discouraged me traveling and always believed that I would be able to do what I had been dreaming to do my entire life. When I would help her clean out the garage (when I was younger) I would grab up her broom (one of the old straw ones) and pretend to be flying around the garage saying which country I was going to next on the broom. Hence, traveling by broom. She remembered this, and before I left for Australia for good she came over with a card, $20 and a gift. The card included some of the best advice I have ever been given. “When you travel, always keep $20 in your shoe in case you are robbed or lose your money, that way you have a backup.” Lucky for me, most of my sneakers have a pocket on the side so the money is easily accesible and not sweaty. She also gave me a gift. She finally got rid of that old broomstick for a more modern (non-straw) one. However, with some of the straw from that broom she made a little mini broomstick for me to travel the world with. Thus far that broomstick has been to the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Australia and the US.

My traveling broom in NZ

Three other people I would like to pay homage to include my 3 US besties, Sara, Sara and Kris. Though we all have different dreams and have been taken to 4 completely different places (and the fact that 2 of those people think I’m completely off my rocker, and with good reason) they have always been there for me, always given me the brutally honest truth of any matter (or at least their opinion of that matter) and rolled their eyes at some of my more outrageous moments. If you don’t have at least 1 best friend who is there for you no matter what (and that includes when they completely disagree with you on any issue) who pushes you to be the best person you can be and tells you when you are being a bitch while still supporting you wholeheartedly then you need to question why you don’t have one of those and go find yourself one. Lucky for me I have 3 in the US and 3 in Australia.

So onto the three in Australia. Rob, Penny and Zara. Needless to say these 3 are COMPLETELY different from my US besties. And by completely I’d be hard pressed to find any similarities whatsoever. These people, however, completely understand my wanderlust (as they have it themselves and are all generally well traveled), support me in my endeavours and despite sometimes not agreeing with some of my more…interesting choices in life, are there for me no matter what. A girl couldn’t ask to find better friends when moving to a new country.

Another peron (who I am ashamed to admit I can’t remember his name) was my high school counselor. While he knew absolutely nothing about applying for schools overseas, he went out of his way to contact the necessary companies and government bodies to find out as much as he could for me about applying and going to school in Australia. He never once asked “Are you sure that’s what you really want to do?” or “Wouldn’t you rather stay closer to your family?” He wholeheartedly supported my dream and there is something to be said for that in a town where people very rarely move overseas permanently.

A couple of my teachers, also deserve a mention. Now that I look back on it, it was mainly my English teachers (and one English teacher I never had but developed a close relationship with). If there is one thing to be said for the public school system in the US, it is that Montana has a great education system (in general, there are a few teachers who could do with getting the sack). The teachers at both my K-8 school and my high school were generally very supportive people who went out of their way to make a connection with students and to help them out, even if some of those students (ie me and my brother) were excessively annoying. Said teachers were generally very open minded people who did their utmost to give us a leg up in the world. I’m going to take this moment to push my agenda and say that these teachers don’t get paid enough. The education they helped bestow upon me has been priceless and I am forever indebted to them.

Last, but most certainly not least is my extended family (and brother), of which I include many of my friends (and who says you can’t choose your family?). While I may be the odd one out, traveling the world and basically getting as far away from home base as it is possible to be, I have never been considered the black sheep of the family. My social and/or political views may be far different from those of my extended family, but they still support me wholeheartedly and I love them to bits for it. When I tell people here about my family back home, lifestyle, choices, beliefs, etc they tend to be rather shocked and I often get a “how did you end up this way?” reaction.  Well, when you have the support of people who love you, even if they do occassionaly think you are a bit on the odd side, anything is possible.

So, dear dreamer, go find yourself a broomstick and people who support you, like the one’s above and anything is possible. It even becomes easier, because the perceived obligations you feel you have at home, are no longer obligatory and a whole new world opens up to you.

Queue ominous music.
No, it’s not really that bad. For some reason I have decided to take the 60 day Challenge at my Bikram studio. Basically, you try to take as many classes as possible in 60 days. If you take 40 classes you get 15% off your next month, if you do 50 classes you get 50% or something like that off and if you do all 60 classes you get your next month free. Needless to say it is pretty intense.

So when we start they give us a little book with things to think about and ways to help improve our health (mental, physical, emotional, physiological). The idea is to use Bikram as a gateway to improving your life and being the person you want to be. Or something like that…

Anyway, Bikram is pretty intense as it is, so I don’t know how I’m going to make it to 40 classes in 60 days. Needless to say it will not be easy. I may have to double up some days. We are also supposed to have goals coming into this and see how well we achieve our goals. So my goals are as follows:

1. Get rid of my back pain!
2. Actually be able to do half moon, triangle and camel pose properly and for the entire time both sets
3. Less knee pain
4. Cut out a significant amount of red bull from my diet.
5. Organise my mind and calm my thoughts.
6. Curb my temper
7. Actually make it to 40 classes

Not the easiest of goals to achieve in 60 days, but we shall see how things go.

One of the reasons I do Bikram is because it helps to detoxify the body, it helps get rid of that wretched water weight and it actually does help with my back pain. If I stop going the pain comes back, which is totally not cool, so a big driver is the back pain thing.

So for week one we have to examine our Dosha’s, which tells us things about our body, like what is best for us to eat to keep our Dosha balanced. Apparently I have a Pitta Dosha, which unsurprisingly, is associated with the element fire. Big shocker there right? So this week I’m supposed to examine what I eat, when I eat, why I’m eating what I’m eating and why I’m eating when I’m eating and make small adjustments accordingly. I should also take this time to mention that I am apparently supposed to stay away from eating things such as garlic and onion, which are a very significant chunk of my diet. I think I’ll ignore that part.

Being as my main goal is to cut out red bull I reckon I’ve done pretty well thus far. I had a red bull Monday, half a can on Tuesday and Wednesday and none thus far today (mainly because I have no money I think). I have been feeling like absolute crap lately and I’m assuming it’s due to excessive red bull consumption (can’t possibly be all the American cereal or the chocolate screwing with my system).

So basically, here’s to excessive amounts of yoga to make up for my excessive amounts of red bull which I’m supposed to stop drinking!

♥ Always