Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting Personal I: An Excerpt from the Journal of Melissa Harrington

August 16, 2008

A recent, perhaps even lifelong struggle of mine has been body image - believing I am beautiful. Seems there is always someone thinner, more tone and in shape, smaller rear, larger chest or just plain more attractive; within my range of vision. Some days, I see myself as an attractive being, but in those moments my attractiveness usually comes at the cost of others and their beauty as I turn a critical eye at what I "have" that they "don't have." None of this I'm proud of, none of it brings me joy or builds me up or allows me to extend love and grace out into a hurting world - but it is the truth of who I am.

I've tried to "learn" and "experience" my worth in the eyes of the Creator, recognizing that I am an image bearer, the "crown of creation." I've tried to extend that to my brothers and sisters, recognizing that they too bear the image of pure beauty and magnificence. I've tried working out more, eating less or eating "better", buying clothes that are more "flattering to my figure", etc. Occassionally, such changes serve me and the world around, but more often than not, I'm left feeling crummy about my beauty and the beauty of others.

Recently, I've been reading some works by Rob Bell. He's great, he gets me thinking. I was reading Sex God the other day, I don't even know what specifically he was talking about, but the gist of what he was saying was - give thanks, be grateful, show gratitude - for EVERYTHING. I started thinking about this in context of body image - what do I usually think in regards to my physical (and even emotional, mental, spiritual) body? While hiking, I've been thinking - I don't like the look of my legs. Too short. Too stalky. Too this. Too that. Not enough of the good stuff. So, here is the new approach, give thanks...for my legs! What do I love about them? What can I appreciate about them?

For me, it plays out like this:

Thank you for my legs God. Although I could tell you the way I wish they were shaped, I'm going to thank you for what they are and what they have done.

Thank you for squirming, crawling, and walking.

Thank you for legs that took me to loving embraces of family and friends.

Thank you for legs that have ushered me into classrooms, to be educated.

Thank you for legs that were graceful enough to dance, strong enough to kick and brave enough to travel.

Thank you for legs that have made it to the Jr. Olympics.

Thank you for legs that have travelled through the states, Spain, Ireland, Morocco, and Southeast Asia.

Thank you for legs that have stood firm.

Thank you for legs that have failed me, so I could discover Your strength and the strength of others, learning that I cannot do this on my own.

Thank you for legs that have enjoyed peaceful walks in unknown neighborhoods and downtowns.

Thank you for legs that lift me off the ground in moments of excitement.

Thank you for legs that have bounced children.

Thank you for legs that have ached after a hard day of working or riding a bike a few blocks.

Thank you for legs that have climbed rocks, Cloud Peak and many a staircase.

Thank you for flexible legs, legs that enjoy stretching.

Thank you for legs that walked down the aisle, to a committment that surly surpasses anything else this world could offer.

Thank you for my legs and the legs of my neighbors.

Thank you that our legs are not the same.

Maybe I don't think I have the most sexy and attractively shaped legs, but goodness, these legs have carried me throughout the years. I have been loved and cared for by many regardless of how "imperfect" I've decided my legs are. Who am I to be critical of these legs that have seen and endured so much? What about my torso? What gratitude can I bestow on behalf of my torso? Great meals, enjoyed with friends. Laughing so hard I feel the beginings of a six pack. Internal organs that keep my body functioning properly. And what of the arms? The embraces, the cheering, the swimming, the running. And the face? What of the face? The smiles, the tears, the songs we've heard and the songs we've sung, the sunsets we've seen. So much to be thankful for.

Oh world, friends, brothers and sisters, what is it that you can be thankful for? What about your legs? What about this body that isn't anything like what you see on the cover of a magazine, what has it done? What offers you common ground and brotherhood? What sets you apart, your legs apart? Why should we all give thanks for you legs?

Fort Robinson Provides Fun and Games for Family Reunion

It's possible that Ft. Robinson has never seen a more rowdy bunch than that ushered in by the Cushing Family Reunion. The weekend of August 15th through 17th rounded off the Harrington's tri-state journey and visits with family. Ft. Robinson Nebraska became host to Melissa Harrington's maternal family line which is infamous for many things, uninteresting is not one of those things.

Grandma's danced wildly about, children played with bubbles, aunts painted faces, cousins served drinks, children ran and played, buffalo was stewed, songs were sung and family was reunited. The weekend was full of child-hood stories and creating new stories to be shared at future reunions. Stories of Mrs. Harrington and her fear of a specific balloon was quickly shared with her husband. Stories of Mrs. Allen and her distaste for women as a young child were also shared. Mr. and Mrs. Harrington were held prisoners by a five year old who must have been a third or fourth cousin, once or twice removed. The weekend was full of adventures and fun, leaving all the family members anxious for our next reunion...or perhaps not, as the reunions were changed from happening annually to occurring bi-anually.

Mr. and Mrs. Harrington throughly enjoyed trying decipher family lines and how they were related to those other than grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Their only hope now is to remember all these relational ties and names until the next family reunion comes around. Until then, we will remember our direct relations and go to Mrs. Allen for further explanation regarding the more distant relatives.

New Home Sweet Home

On August 13th, Mr. and Mrs. Harrington visited the new home of Mrs. Harrington's parents, the Allen's, in Sturgis, South Dakota. Although the trip was short, time with the Allen's was greatly enjoyed. The whole family enjoyed an outing to Deadwood, South Dakota for a hamburger, mini-golf, go-karts and playing the slots. As usual, the Allen's came out ahead after a few hours of gambling whereas the Harrington's just barely came out even. Mini-golf was of course the highlight for Mr. Harrington as he impressed his lovely bride with his putting abilities. Mrs. Allen wowed us all with two holes-in-one and Mrs. Harrington simply looked good and played poorly.

As is habit, Mr. and Mrs. Allen left Sturgis early the next day to attend an Auction and acquire some great new furniture and goods. Mr. and Mrs. Harrington enjoyed sleeping in and deer-watching from the front window of the new home. The Harrington's are excited for the Allen's as they continue to make the new home comfortable and adjust to the beauty of the Black Hills. Mr. and Mrs. Harrington look forward to future visits, enjoying the serenity of the area and exploring the many caves and wonders of South Dakota.

Big Horn Backpacking Trip Proves Restful

A true wilderness area - Big Horn National Forest.
On a tranquil and beautiful Monday morning Mr. and Mrs. Harrington continued on their tri-state journey, entering the wild of the Big Horn Mountains. Setting off with intentions of climbing Bomber Mountain, the Harrington's soon discovered a deeper need for rest, relaxation and re-energizing. Making their way to Misty Moon, about seven miles in from the trail head, the Harrington's set up camp, enjoyed homemade minestrone and laid their heads down for a night of well deserved rest. Upon waking in the morning, Mr. and Mrs. Harrington concluded that Bomber mountain would always be there and in these days, what they sought and needed was restoration and relaxation - what better place to recieve such things than in the presence of 13,000 foot peaks?

Napping on the trail.
Resting included reading and meeting up with Father Harrington and Sisters Harrington (not to be confused with Catholic nomenclature - this is in reference to the actual father and sisters of Mike Harrington). Both Mike and Melissa were able to finish some reading (Harry Potter and Three Cups of Tea respectively) and enjoy the peace and solitude inherent to Cloud Peak Wilderness Area.

Reading and Resting at the base of Bomber Mountain.
The majority of the Harrington Family posing in front of last years accomplishment - Cloud Peak.

Bomber Mountain maintains its spot on the list of things Mr. and Mrs. Harrington would like to do together. But, for now, they desire above all else to maintain sanity and prepare for the upcoming work year. Bomber will remain and one peak, Cloud Peak, has already been conquered (Summer 07).

In Conclusion, Mrs. Harrington explains, "Relaxation and restoration are necessary components to a healthy lifestyle, that's what we recieved in those three days in the wilderness."

Bluegrass Unites Friends and Family

On August 7th, 2008 Mike and Melissa began a tri-state journey of visiting family and friends and enjoying the great outdoors. First on the list of destinations was none other than Ten Sleep, Wyoming; home of the infamous Nowoodstock Bluegrass Festival. Attending the festival for the thrid year in a row, Mike and Melissa were not disappointed with the showing. With about a dozen bluegrass acts including Ten Sleep's own Jalan Crossland, the festival is always an enjoyable and relaxing time down by the Nowood River.
The Jalan Crossland Band - Our Favorite

As always, Mike and Melissa enjoyed spending time with family and friends at the Harrington cabin, five miles east of Ten Sleep. This year they not only enjoyed the company of parents Tom, Patty, Harland and Brenda, but also a surprise visit from Pam and Steve out of Esterbrook, WY. The festival offered them a great selection of music to enjoy, entertainment and reuniting with good friends. (Not to mention, Mike was able to complete two more books from the Harry Potter series).

Dancing at a bluegrass festival - doesn't get any better!

Mike and Melissa look forward to next years banjo pickin' and guitar strummin' goodness at Nowoodstock and invite all friends and family to join them. For more information you can visit www.nowoodstock.com

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

August 5th, 2008
Laramie, WY

For better or for worse, it’s finally happened.

On the morning of Tuesday, July 5th, 2008, Michael J. Harrington cracked open the first page of the well known Harry Potter book series. Although eleven years have passed since the books were originally published, this hasn’t stopped him from beginning to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book of a series of seven. The first book, written by J.K. Rowling, was published in 1997 and has formed a world wide fan base since. When asked why it took him over a decade to join the Harry Potter movement Harrington thought,

“For the longest time I’ve been the type of person to disassociate myself with large, popular groups or movements. This is how I have been reacting to Harry Potter for years; not interested in being categorized into some group, but rather wanting to simply be an individual. However, Harry Potter has plunged itself into pop culture, becoming like Andy Warhol’s paintings in the 1960’s, something that future Trivial Pursuit questions will be written about. I decided that I had to get involved.”

but actually said:
"I dunno. The time has come."

Unfortunately for Harrington, he hasn’t been able to completely isolate himself from the Harry Potter happenings. His sister, Katie, whom he lived with for a year in college, is an avid movie enthusiast. She has been collecting the Harry Potter movies, and as a result, Mike has seen the first four or five movies. This will undoubtedly skew his perception of characters and places as the books are unraveled. It may even give away a few of the major plotlines. His hope is that he will be able to make it through the first five books and into the last two before any more movies come out, that way he will be able to read the last two books without them being spoiled. When asked what he thought of the Harry Potter series thus far, Harrington simply replied,

“I've read over 200 pages of the first book in the first day, I think that means I’m hooked and can’t stop now.”

All of us here at the Harrington Times would like to wish Mr. Harrington the best with his future reading plans. Stay the course, Mr. Harrington. Stay the course!


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