A Perfect World

Imagine a perfect world – a world where everything is beautiful, tailored exactly to your preferences, desires, and aspirations! Pinterest is well on its way to creating such a world – but is that such a good thing? Pinterest is an excellent source of ideas and inspiration, and a great way for entrepreneurs and online shopping centers to market their products. It does, however, have potential to become a serious concern, especially among young female users, because of the alternate reality it has created – a world of fit, slim beauties who eat strawberry mascarpone yogurt pie, wear the latest hipster, boho, retro, romantic outfits, think good vibes and flower chains and heartbreaking song lyrics, fly off to Europe on a whim, and marry Prince Charming in a personalized, DIY extravaganza.

Pinterest, a self-defined “social bookmarking tool,” was launched in 2010 with a mission to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” (Pinterest.com, 2015). Users collect and organize images, called “pins,” which can be viewed or “repinned” by other users. Additionally, pins can be “liked” and “shared,” and users can collaborate on boards, which are called “group boards.” Since Pinterest’s launching, it has attracted over 70 million individual users, 85% of which are women (EntrepreneurialInsights.com, 2014).

Because of this wide sphere of influence, Pinterest is an effective way for artists and entrepreneurs to peddle their wares and reserve an audience in the competitive world of popular culture. Many businesses, including Etsy, Modcloth, Free People, and Shabby Apple, have recognized this and do much of their marketing through cleverly designed, aesthetically pleasing boards, with thousands of followers. Similarly, freelance artists such as Katie Daisy, Gemma Correll, and Ileana Hunter make themselves known through their Pinterest activity.

Of course, with free advertising comes the risk of losing credit for original ideas. Individuals can examine and copy art, sewing projects, DIY projects, or whatever tickles their fancy, and no great harm is likely to result. The danger arises when larger companies like Target and Walmart use Pinterest as a free survey tool, to gather data concerning the tastes and preferences of their potential customers. When an exact imitation of Gemma Correll’s signature pug appears on a greeting card at Hallmark, and anyone can pay $10 for a boho skirt you could have sworn you saw for $100 at FreePeople, could it have something to do with the millions of women and girls longingly pinning and repinning whatever they desire? Walmart can make a few of those dreams come true, for a fraction of the price, but what about those who thought them up in the first place? Do they get anything out of it?

Apart from the practical business side of things, Pinterest has potential to become a “virtual paradise” for its users. For example, imagine an American teenage girl, caught up in the emotional and sociological whirlwind of her life, distressed and lonely, collapsing in front of her laptop for an evening on Pinterest. It asks for nothing in exchange for hours spent perusing quality images of all the things she loves best. What sweeter fiction is there in which to lose herself and forget her troubles? When she is depressed or disillusioned with her goals, Pinterest is there, bursting with inspiring quotes and beauty and loveliness that can inspire her to keep pressing on, because as Rudyard Kipling so wisely put it, “One day it really will be alright! If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!” (Pinterest.com, 2015). At the same time, however, this unsuppressed flood of glamour can be very depressing, because she can never achieve the perfect ideal she has laid out for herself. When she realizes this, it is tempting to give up on her real self and live a “virtual life” through her boards. Taking into account all users of Pinterest, from extremely active to very passive, an average of 98 minutes per user per month is spent on Pinterest (Craig Smith, 2015). However, in a survey of several avid users, an average of 7 hours per week, at least 24 hours per month, was spent browsing Pinterest (Personal Interview, 2015). That’s an entire 24 hour day, spent absorbed in the “perfect world” Pinterest presents! Although this obsession may seem improbable to those unfamiliar with Pinterest, this “alternate reality” has become a rising social issue among teenage girls, for whom it has become an addiction and a lifestyle.

With this growing obsession, girls spend hours exposed to hundreds of images of fit, slim, sun-kissed beauties, enjoying The Pinterest Life. Rigorous training routines and decadent, calorie-loaded desserts are displayed side-by-side with an onslaught of fitspo and thinspo photos, flooding girls’ minds with images of what she should look like, what she would look like if she were more self-controlled, more long-suffering, or more patient. In short, if she were “better.” All the cheery little self-confidence quotes in the world cannot erase the impact these images have on a girl’s opinion of herself. Countless arguments have been made for and against fitspo and its impact, but ultimately the danger is only in the role it plays in the viewer’s life. Fitness is truly possible for anyone, to varying degrees, regardless of one’s initial shape or size, and for some fitspo is an inspiration to get out there and get it done. For most girls, however, the “fitspo body” is truly unattainable, and yearning for it can only cause disappointment, shame, and failure.

As stated earlier, Pinterest is at its core a social inspiration site: whatever your niche, be it fashion, visual art, fitness, sewing, culinary arts, writing, or photography, it is an invaluable wealth of ideas and motivation. In this way it is unique from all other social media. While it can consume monstrous amounts of time, at least that time is spent learning and gathering ideas, in attempt to achieve personal goals. It is more productive than sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which tend to foster narcissism and useless procrastination (Psychology Today, 2013). Other than blog owners, who may post pictures from their blogs to increase blog traffic, very few users post personal information or pictures of themselves, so Pinterest is one of the most private forms of social media available. It is arguable that despite the lack of “personal information” such as age, friends, and location, users put themselves in the public eye more than ever before by displaying their passions and interests for all the world to see. While this is a valid point, it is important to remember that how the users present themselves is entirely up to them, so no information is divulged to the public without the users’ consent.

All things considered, Pinterest is a fascinating resource with great potential to positively influence culture. While it can be used in a mostly positive way, to spread ideas and inspire innovators, in this age of worldwide media and leveling of culture, perhaps it is actually quenching originality and true creativity. At any rate, Pinterest cannot simply be dismissed as a passing craze, because within it there lies the potential for a great deal of social change. If it is misused, the lives of many young girls (and women and the occasional man) may be forever affected for the worse. As with all other aspects of life, Pinterest must be used wisely, with discretion and moderation, in order to fulfill its positive potential. Pinterest users can create for themselves an alluring “perfect world,” but it cannot take the place of the real world, which God created to be enjoyed, not escaped. He wants us to live an abundant life in Him, and Pinterest – fascinating, fun, and helpful though it may be – cannot take the place of an infinitely creative God!

Blessings

Glimpses of Easter Weekend:

Crushing a bright confetti egg over someone’s head.

Ham and beans and jello salad.

Caressing each heavy ivory key, in perfect time, perfect rhythm, weaving a perfect web of sound and emotion — Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

The silent crunch of leaves beneath my booted foot.

Waking up to the aroma of pancakes and maple syrup.

Nestling eggs into special little hiding spots.

Homemade applesauce.

Gently plaiting my sister’s long golden hair, watching each strand capture and reflect the brilliant afternoon sunshine.

Deep, philosophical conversation.

Watching elderly couples hold hands in church.

Pine trees silhouetted against the twilit sky.

Feeling the swell of myriad voices raised in worship, crying out in praise to the One who gave his life for us, and who rose again, giving us Life in Him!

 

 

Dancing

When I first learned to write, I stumbled over every letter. I cried over each crooked “a” in my name, despairing of ever achieving the swirling loops and flourishes of my mother’s beautiful cursive.

When I first learned to swim, I struggled with every stroke. I cried over each time trial, when I inevitably ended of laps behind everyone else, floundering like an overgrown toddler.

When I first learned to play the flute, I dreaded every new note that appeared on the page, a looming obstacle, out to drive me to insanity. I cried over every mistake, never understanding how anyone could possibly enjoy the torturous procedure.

But there was once a day when I couldn’t speak, wasn’t there? When I couldn’t even sit up, much less walk or run!

It’s all a dance.

My basketball coach introduced every new move with these words. It’s all a dance, and pretty soon you’ll be doing it ALL DAY LONG!

Now writing is my escape, swimming is what I’m positively aching to do at the moment, and the flute is my passion. I’m learning the the dance!

Every day brings a new twist to the rhythm of the dance, and isn’t wonderful that every challenge becomes another layer, a new spin, another opportunity to see what you’re capable of?

via pinterest

via pinterest

P.S. Actually my new twist to “the dance” is ballroom dancing! I’m learning, at last, to dance!!!!! As a young girl, I was convinced I would someday be a prima ballerina. The main issue with that was that I didn’t do ballet… I still don’t. But that will not stop me at least from fulfilling my beautiful dream — to waltz and spin in a swirling, breathtaking Cinderella ballgown. Someday. Someday! And someday I will dance and sing as Liesl in The Sound of Music… ❤

Joy

Sometimes life is so beautiful that it hurts. A throbbing, pulsing love at times so shrouds my spirit that the joy is overwhelming. It is then that I can no longer express my joy in anything but tears. Words, music, sight, dark and light fade away and I am truly silent, weeping with sheer joy.

Because sometimes the heartbreak, the loneliness, the worthlessness, the confusion, and the utter hopelessness that at times threatens to drown me disappears, eclipsed by a glorious revelation — I am loved, I have always been loved, and I will continue to be loved, passionately, forever and ever. 

All my life I’ve had the Truth drilled into me, imprinted on my every thought, whether conscious or unconscious. I know the Truth, deep inside, but I so often forget. I forget that Someone gave his life for me. I forget that I am unconditionally loved, and that neither angels nor demons, nor principalities, nor the present nor the future, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate me from God’s love for me!

I have forgotten before, and like as not I will forget again. But why think of sadness when you are drowning in the waves of God’s love and mercy? Why think of the falleness of the world when you can love, and dream, and hope, and inspire others to love and glory in the life we have?

Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’

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Oh, what a beautiful mornin’
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I’ve got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s goin’ my way!

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I awoke this morning and ventured out into the world of sparkling sunrise and glittering frost. Everything was silent but the crunching of my footsteps. For one dazzlingly bright morning, I felt that perhaps I really could move on. Perhaps my time of waiting and crying should be over.

So I studied hard. I practiced my piano. I baked a big batch of homemade bread, and accompanied my mother into beautiful Amish country, where we purchased a bounty of grains and flours and such. (Very inspiring to my inner bread-maker 🙂 I made a big batch of homemade applesauce. I wrote a beautiful essay, and enjoyed some wonderful pinteresting. I went for two lovely long treks in the woods, my hair white with frost, my breath floating before me, elusive but constant. I  worshiped and learned and laughed with friends.

And tomorrow I will go a little farther, strive a little harder. And as Anne so wisely said “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day — with no mistakes in it yet!” ❤

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Literary Heroine Blog Party

Here are my answers to the Literary Heroine Blog Party at Accordion to Kellie! 🙂

Introduce yourself! Divulge your life’s vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

I’m Anna, and if you knew me you would know that this is the hardest question in the entire world that I’ve ever been asked. What do I love? Everything from the glowing sunrise on Javan mountains to receiving anonymous roses on Valentines day to impromptu bluegrass concerts to swirling ballgowns to chivalry to vintage typewriters to eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. Everything has beauty in my eyes, and my vision and aspirations are one and the same — to experience as much of the beauty God has to offer as I possibly can, and to encourage others to love it too!

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 

Any heroine that I love and aspire to emulate is thoughtful and creative, passionate and romantic, and is always pursuing that which she loves and is passionate about. Ideally, she loves her Saviour above all else, cares for her family, and falls in love with her perfect Prince Charming (thus satisfying my romantic cravings.) She must also have faults, otherwise it’s just rather depressing to read, because one can never live up to her perfection.

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables. We’ve been kindred spirits for nearly as long as I can remember. I mean, once I get going on her… I may never stop.

Cora Bradley, from A Map of the Known World. This is relatively recent, as I read it just last week. But seriously, if I knew her… Her passion and creativity and deep, heartbreaking feelings are so familiar, by the end of the book I felt like we had known one another forever.

Elaine of Ascolat, from The Lady of Shalott. Oh, Elaine. Her tragic, hauntingly lovely story just cries out to my soul, and somehow, I love her. And her hopeless love for Lancelot, ohhhh… It’s beautiful. (I also recently read The Song of the Sparrow, by Lisa Ann Sandell, which is based on her story, with a far lovelier ending… ❤ )

Kit Tyler, from The Witch of Blackbird Pond. She drives me crazy. Like, really insane. But oh, how I relate to her, and how I feel that she is my secret twin, from long long ago….

Five of your favorite historical novels?

Before I answer, might I mention that this question is IMPOSSIBLE!!!! That said, I will proceed to do the impossible. 😉

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I adore it! It was in the middle of swimming, basketball, drama, and some exams when I first read it — yet I hardly put it down. Mr. Rochester is my perfect hero style — tall and dark and mysterious, but sweet and thoughtful deep down in his heart of hearts. And Jane is pretty funny — you must admire that sarcasm.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Ahhhhh!!!! It’s in France and England and all the intrigue and mystery and wittiness! And Marguerite and wonderful, wonderful Sir Percy! My heart never fails to thob with worry, every time I read it — will it turn out differently than before???

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. This has been a favorite since Elementary school. Biblical Israel, under Roman rule, becomes a land of pulsing vibrancy, life, and romance. The struggles of God’s people, straining under oppression, not to mention the beautiful culture and fab characters!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne Shirley, like I said, is my kindred spirit. We would be bosom friends except I would be in love with Gilbert too! Sometimes my life feels like “a graveyard of buried hopes” and then I’m “happy as kings!” And Anne never fails to have something wonderful to say, that is exactly what I was going to say!

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter. This is the most beautiful, poetic, lovely book I’ve read where a boy featured as the main character. It’s cute and carefree, yet deep and sad and heart-wrenching. One can never quite understand the mystery of the Limberlost, but somehow that simply enhances it’s charm.

Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why?

Either Jane Eyre or Anne Shirley. Both of them seem so real, it’s hard to face the fact that they are fictional, and that I will never meet them. Jane is fierce and sarcastic under her nun-like facade, and her conversation style is incredibly witty. Anne is just Anne. I mean, can it get any better?? 😉

Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Gilbert Blythe, obviously. I’ve been in love with Gilbert Blythe ever since 5th grade. I mean, if a boy waits for a girl like Anne, stubborn and romantic, with dreams and aspirations and passion no one, including her, can understand, he’s a keeper. And he’s handsome and smart and he falls in love with her even after she hits him over the head with a slate! (I hit a boy on the head with a notebook not too long ago. He was decidedly not Gilbert Blythe.)

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to – and what would you plan to do there?

How handy! I already have it perfectly planned out! As soon as I graduate from highschool, I want to pack my bags and fly straight to Malaysia, to spend a week or so with friends there (and enjoy the ridiculously wonderful Indian cuisine), then on to the Philippines, to visit my friends, and all the old stomping grounds (white sand beaches, lush jungle, a city throbbing with culture and activity…), then on to Java, to meet loads of amazing friends, two of whom will accompany me on o Europe! We might stop in Italy, visit Juliet’s wall, see Austria and sing in the mountains, or gaze upon the coasts of Ireland. Our main focus, though, will be England, where we will visit friends and experience all the fabulous Britishness we possibly can!!!! 😛

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?

I love them all!!! (medieval Ireland, ancient Egypt, colonial America, WWII, The Great Depression, Regency England, medieval anywhere, Civil war, anywhere in Asia, you name it, I like it!) I have no favorite…

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of?

If only… I would do a stunning Irish dance routine! In reality, probably either a classical flute solo or a crazy reenactment of “Sugar. Sugar” by the Archies, complete with outfits, hairdos, and a group of friends cast as the entire band. 😛

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?

Marguerite Blakeney, of course!

Favorite author(s)?

J.R.R. Tolkien, L.M. Montogomery, Rainbow Rowell, Louisa May Alcott, Baroness Orczy, Elizabeth George Speare, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Lisa Ann Shaffer, John Green, Heater Vogel Frederick, Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, Harper Lee

In which century were most of the books you read written?

19th – 21st

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is…

It’s a tie between Sir Percy Blakeney and Legolas. Pure heroism coursing through their veins, leaving one slightly dizzy, out of breath, and longing to be rescued by such a man (or elf as the case may be.)

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is…

I don’t really ever hate villains, no matter how hard I try to. Somehow I can always empathize, and feel like somewhere, deep inside they have a heart and Jesus loves them and maybe they’ll repent and so forth. But otherwise I’d say President Snow from The Hunger Games. Seriously. I despise him. And his sickly sweet white rose still haunts me.

Describe your ideal dwelling place.

A rambling white house with a yard strewn with daisies, a white picket fence, and a grove of apple trees behind the house. There would be a rippling brook in their midst, with stepping stones across it. The house would be welcoming and full of life, ready to welcome whoever might happen upon it!

Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.

Romantic, and slightly bohemian, heavily influenced by literature and my current mood.

Three favorite Non-fiction books?

The Bible. I guess this is a given.. But for bonus I’ll say a few of my favorite books — Psalms, Job, and Ecclesiastes for poetry and descriptions of God’s creation and power, and general    thought-provoking-ness. John, Romans, and 1 Corinthians for life-changing, applicable teaching. Esther and Genesis for amazing stories.

Smithsonian History of Fashion. My goodness, I could spend days on end poring through this — Ancient Egypt to the present time in fashion! What could be more absorbing?!

Cookbooks in general. Especially old ones, or ones with lots of pictures and tips and inspirations. I’ve never been able to resist a good cookbook.

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?

Go swimming in the lake until the sun goes down, then read a book or go on pinterest or play guitar or flute, or go for a turn about the grounds with a dear friend and just talk. Or just play basketball!

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat – in such a way as will best portray your true character.

Dear me. Perhaps a lovely wide-brimmed straw bonnet, perfect for romantic boating, or sketching in a city park, or hiking in Java, or a church picnic, or a trip to Bali 🙂 One that goes well with chains of flowers…

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.

I started the most fabulous sophomore year anyone could hope for, then suddenly moved across the world, then my grandpa died.

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25

Also Job 26:7-14 and Psalm 103:1-5.

Be Brave

I just came back from a fantastic youth group trip — called Arctic Blast. For lack of a better word, I’ll say it was a BLAST! (ha. ha….) 😛 I returned home with a renewed passion to use my life for  a greater purpose than to just be happy and healthy, live a good life, die and go to heaven. No.

I want to go do the things I’ve dreamed of doing — to get up and travel across the world if that’s what God calls me to do, or to pursue my art like never before, so that I can impact lives with it. I want to turn myself, my life, my sorrow, pain, and triumphs, into a living, breathing testimony to God’s power and love for me. I want to live in such a way that inspires other people to run to Him, with open arms.

So much of my life has been spent in fear. I’ve been afraid to show my “true colors,” afraid that people wouldn’t like me. But guess what! God thinks about each one of us! He knows when we sit and when we rise; He knows every thought. Does it not seem more important what the Maker of the Universe thinks of you, in the long run?

Be brave. I’m saying that to encourage me as much as I’m saying to encourage you! God has called us, in John 10:10, to live life,  to live it to the full! Be brave and do what you’ve always wanted to do, because God might use it to do something beyond your craziest, wildest dreams!!

GO DO THEM

 

Go do whose wonderful things you’ve desperately wanted to do, and God has the power to use you! Is that not AMAZING??? 🙂