Positivity Week: Day 7

Positivity Week Prompt

Day 7: Those Who Are No Longer With Us
This last day is to remember someone (person or even an animal), that in some way had a positive impact on you. It can be more than one person and not even someone you were very close to or knew very long. As long as they somehow had a positive impact on you, share it here.

In 1994, my father was diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy. He needed a heart transplant. On January 23rd, my father received his donation from a beautiful Italian woman named Laura Pennisi.

laura

Without Laura and her family’s decision, I would have grown into a dramatically different person. A woman I never had the privilege of meeting changed the course of my life. My brother was born five years after my father’s transplant, and my subsequent atheist philosophy found its anonymous beginnings in the understanding of organ donation.

DL10

In past years, when attempting to better discern myself and develop my beliefs, I conducted presentations on Donate Life, participated in fundraisers for transplant patients, and wrote numerous informative essays on the importance of organ donation. People like Laura Pennisi and her family have started a subliminal chain reaction. Their decision and its outcome inspired me to speak about a cause. I cannot say if my early activist pursuits changed the minds of any audience member, but I do know that many of my childhood friends became organ donors after meeting my father and hearing our story.

Positivity Week: Day 3 and 4

Positivity Week Prompt

Day 3: A Step Into The Past
This day we will visit the past for a little bit and find something positive. It can be an event such as a concert, going on a trip, spending the day with someone you love, someone (famous or someone you know) that was a positive influence on you as a child.

I remember the day we brought Bandit home. It was during summer, right around the time of my father’s July 4th birthday, just weeks before the school year. The pup rode in the back compartment of a Chevrolet S-10 between the feet of my little brother and me. My father thought up names and tested them out loud while driving and told stories about old dogs with good names. “All purebred dogs have three names,” he said.

bandit

We bought Bandit from a farm owned by the Houser family. My mother worked at FedEx as a manager, and one of her drivers mentioned that his dad had some Australian Shepherd puppies for sale. There were so many dogs that I came home with tiny holes around the ankles of my jeans. Amidst the writhing red-black-blue fur, the two-toned eyes and bobtails, we found him. Bandit was not my first dog, but he was the first one I ever cared about. He felt like mine.

Day 4: Best of 2013
What is some of the best times you’ve had this year? What are some of your happiest moments of 2013? Feel free to post pictures on this day if you have any and you can share more than one thing.

Many of the happier moments experienced in 2013 have been shadowed by painful events. For example, I visited Boston for AWP with a group of students and  had the opportunity to attend a Celtics game. (They won in overtime.) A month later, the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. Similar circumstances have continued to form in lessening degrees throughout the year always casting a long and dark shadow behind them.

Perhaps my best moment as a reader in 2013 occurred when I stumbled across Simone de Beauvoir. Her book, She Came to Stay, was exactly what my summer needed. I was experiencing the tiring effects of East Tennessee sexism, and a French existential feminist made me feel understood.

simone

Since then, Beauvoir has become a type of personal hero for me. I love it when writers sweep into my life the way she did. I feel a combination of wonder and anxiety at these discoveries of writers whose words keep me thumbing over page after page and longing to find a similar experience.

Positivity Week: Day 2

Positivity Week Prompt

Day 2: Looking To The Future
Focusing too much on the past or future is never a good thing. However, it is good to visualize what you want in life, what you want to achieve, something you want to happen even if it is just a simple vacation. For this day, let’s look to the future for a few minutes and share what good, positive things we want in the future.

Next year, I hope to study abroad in Japan. If the trip makes, I will tour Shinto shrines (including the holy shrine at Ise) and Buddhist temples in Nara while also spending time in both Osaka and Tokyo.

sakebarrels

Sake Barrels by Elise Hori
Ise Shrine Offering

Most of my travel dreams are centered around literature. When people ask me about my fascination with countries like Japan or Ireland or Russia, I am known to say something along the lines of: “That’s where the literature is at, man.”

Positivity Week: Day 1

Positivity Week Prompt

Day 1: Yourself.
Day 1 is simple. Write about yourself, write a small biography or whatever you want to do, but it has to be positive about yourself.

Being an atheist has shaped me into a more rational, appreciative, and morally responsible person. I have become too easily caught up in knowing what I am that I forget to slow down and reflect on what I like about being those titles. What do I like about being an atheist? A woman? A writer?

ayaan

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

I love feeling a connection between my beliefs and the minds of others, like Hirsi Ali and Diderot and Chekhov.

One of the best things about being an atheist has been having both the ability and privilege to tailor my beliefs to fit myself rather than tailoring myself to fit my religion. I wear no other clothes than the ones I have created. I am naked and beautiful and longing, like the songbird after moulting at ease in its nest, perhaps too often viewed as cold.