Eyes Wide Open

 

Deborah Horan

Horan is a renowned journalist who spent the majority of her career overseas covering occurrences in the Middle East.

She returned back to the states in 2001 where she soon joined forces with the Chicago Tribune. However, she continued to report on the on-goings in the Middle East. More specifically, the Muslim immigrant community and the war in Iraq.

Since 2002, she has been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, as well as a teacher about the Middle East and journalism at small liberal arts colleges through that program.

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This is just a very short summary of the extraordinary life that Deborah Horan has lived.

When she came to Lindenwood to speak to journalism students about her career, I was completely ignorant as to what to expect. Admittedly, I did not do my homework and research her before she came to my class.

And honestly, I’m glad I didn’t because it would have ruined the surprise. I’m not sure what I was thinking before the speech but I sure as hell wasn’t prepared to be as affected as I was. But maybe not for obvious reasons.

However, Deborah mentioned many aspects of becoming successful journalists. One main point was that you have to take risks. You have to be willing to put yourself out into the world and be willing to fail before you succeed.

Another point is that to be a journalist, you cannot be afraid. In order for Deborah to get her hard-hitting stories in the Middle East, she had to face an incredible amount of danger, and she had to take proper precautions. Most importantly, blending in.

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However, if you don’t want to be a journalist who reports on life in the Middle East then Deborah had some advice for that as well. As journalists, we need to find our niche.

Anyone can be a journalist, but if we want a successful career then we need to find something we are passionate about and become experts on it. Whether it’s cars, food, fashion, beauty, politics or music, journalists need to be able to offer something new and exciting in order to be respected.

 

Aftershock

Once Deborah took her leave, I was consumed with thoughts and impressions.

One of her ending comments was, “you need to decide what’s important, and go for it.”

This women has had a commendable life. A life filled with adventure and danger. Not to mention, an immense amount of satisfaction.

She traveled all around the world and met a countless number of people. She learned about diverse cultures and even learned how to speak Arabic.

Deborah made a difference in the world as a result of the life she has chosen to live.

Watching her speak and detail her story made me think I want to make a difference, I want to have an impact on someone’s life. But whose life shall I impact?

This is the question that has kept me sleepless at night.

Deborah has had an extraordinary life. But in order for her to have such a successful career she had to give up so much. She left her friends and family for 8+ years.

I cannot help but think, what is more important? Your dream job? Or your dream life? And can they coexist? And if they can’t… how do you choose?

I have known forever that I want to travel; and after spending an unforgettable summer in Italy I know that there is so much more I want to see. I would love a career that could take me there.

However, what if the love of my life can’t come with me.

What if my family begs me to stay.

What if I miss out on adventures calling my name from across the world.

How do I decide on what’s most important.

I have been thinking about this so much that I have a permanent migraine. I am graduating in a year so it is about that time I need to start figuring my life out.

After much thought, I cannot imagine a life without love and family. If I can have both my dream career and a loving and happy personal life, then I would say I hit the jack-pot.

But a life without love would not be living to me. And I am far too selfish to not want that love immediately. My career can follow after; I have no doubt in my mind that I will someday get there.

After all, when I’m on my death bed I want to have someone I love holding my hand; when that time comes, I won’t want or care to hold the pages documenting my career.

So yes, I want to make a difference. I want to have an impact. But before I target the universe, I think I’ll stick with my own little world.

 

header photo credit: www.executive-communication.com

 

Hell on Earth

 

Rolling Stone is a magazine widely known for their articles on movies, television, politics and music. Each article offers insight to the topic and, to me, is always beneficial.

However, one article in particular had an extreme effect on me. In the Belly of the Beast by Paul Solotaroff is a chilling article giving insight into the horrendous lives of both the workers and animals at a processing farm. Solotaroff tells the tale of animal rights activists who went under cover in order to infiltrate the meat farm and reveal the ungoings behind closed doors.

|Imagine|

Imagine a farm with wide open spaces, green grass, a blue sky and sun shining in every direction.

Imagine a piglet waking up in the morning and stumbling over with his wobbly legs to greet his mother who is soaking in the sun and mud.

Imagine that little guy being able to grow up big and healthy with his parents and siblings by his side and being fed every day with all natural and organic foods.

Imagine him running around on a farm and greeting humans with happy and loving nudges on their leg with his snout.

Imagine that pig reaching a mature age and being humanely, and painlessly put down in order to provide the human population with healthy and natural meat.

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This is not the world we live in…this world is filled with torturous and horrendous means of producing processed meats just for the human population to be able to have the luxury of digesting McDonald’s Big Macs while in the midst of their drunken munchies.

“In the Belly of the Beast” uncovers the blood-stained veil and reveals the reality of exactly how meat goes from the animal, through the processor and into our everyday lives.

|Reality|

The animals who are giving up their lives in order to satisfy are carnivorous needs are treated as if they are parasites. They are beaten and neglected to the point of death.

They are forced to live for years in cages that are too small for them to even lie down and their facilities are never cleaned so they have to endure a lifetime being covered in their own fecal matter.

The cows are made to produce nearly 22,000 gallons of milk a year, that’s over 120x more than the requirement in 1972. The article states that the cows can handle around 4 years of this abuse before they tire-out and their legs break beneath them. When that happens, the workers kick the cow or shove a fire hose down their throat until they stand up. And when that does not work the cows are electrocuted; if that doesn’t get the job done then they are hung upside down and their throats are slashed. In just one slaughter house in Nebraska, nearly 2,500 cows are killed a day using this method.

But that is not the most alarming part of this procedure. Congress has approved this means of slaughter, as it is stated in the Humane Means of Slaughter Act.

Humane? Yeah, okay. Maybe that should be the process used to put pets asleep too. Since it’s “humane.”

This does not even cover half of what animals in slaughter houses are put through every day. Piglets are ripped away from their mother the moment they are born and then their tail and genitals are immediately cut off while the piglets are screaming to be reunited with their mom.

However, this is not meant to stop people from eating meat. It is meant to make people understand that there is a right way to go about getting it.

“You say you want a revolution…”

This article written by Solotaroff proves just how influential and powerful the voice of a journalist can be.

I did not visit a slaughter house, I did not witness a piglet being torn away from it’s mother and I did not see a cow being hung from his ankles and watch as his throat was slit and his body chopped into pieces.

I could not bare to watch more than 10 seconds of the videos and I attempted to scroll past the photos as quickly as I could. Why? Because I did not need to look at them. The words alone were enough.

This article shows how revolutionary journalism can be. After reading, I never want to eat meat again. Unless I do in-depth research on where this meat is coming from. This article CHANGED MY MIND and OPENED MY EYES.

This article made me angry and brought me to tears. Tears from rage and tears from sadness. How dare anyone say that words and telling a story is not as influential as taking action, that writing your thoughts down won’t bring about change. If not for “In the Belly of the Beast” I would not have known that action needed to be taken and change needed to occur.

For the most part, people know that animals in slaughter houses are mistreated. But no one cares to look into it. They prefer to stay ignorant because that way they cannot be held at fault.

But when the problem is right in front of you, on a screen accompanied by photos and videos, then it is a crime to ignore it.

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click here for an additional video of the grotesque lives of the animals in slaughter houses.

“If slaughter houses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” -Paul McCartney

 

Above Photo Courteys: www.animal-rights-action.com

‘Yonce

 

­Now that all the hype (for the most part) has come to an end, I want to take a hot-minute to discuss a hot topic: Beyonce’s visual album.

The comments on this production are all over the place, from “I love it” to “I hate it” to “she’s a goddess” to “what the hell is Queen B thinkin’!”

For starters, I don’t care who you are, the fact the Beyonce released an album without any promotions and still managed to outsell almost every other album released in 2014 is phenomenal. There is no way someone could argue against that.  There were over 617,000 downloads from iTunes in 3 days, which broke the record set by Taylor Swift’s RED album.

But it raises the question, why did she find it necessary to neglect promotions? That’s not like B’s normal strategy is it? Clearly she didn’t do it just to prove she doesn’t have to. So why?

Simple, she made this album specifically for the purpose of creating art. All too many times, artists make the promoting of the album the most important aspect of their career. It’s all about releasing singles and getting your fans talking about your soon-to-be-released album.

Beyonce made her album for the art, and the music.

Another remark I’ve been constantly hearing is the whiny complaints of those who can’t grasp the concept of her visual works. All I hear is how people just don’t understand what she is trying to say. “Why can’t she just have a straightforward story like all of her other videos?”

Come ON people, you need to learn to think deeper.

This is art. Beyonce is an artist. Just like painters and sculptures and architects and writers…music is art. For the most part it is not meant to be straightforward and the meaning behind the art will not be offered up on a silver platter so the viewers won’t have to think.

In my opinion, this is not the point of art. It’s supposed to entice others to look deeper and think harder to figure out the meaning. The obscurity of Beyonce’s visual album is what makes it so unique and alluring.

Those of you who don’t like it because you “don’t get it,” then I encourage you to remove your floaties, step out of the shallow waters, and dive into the deep-end.

 

Above photo courtesy: www.policymic.com

 

I don’t “I Do.” Do I?

Marriage. In short, I never believed in it. I thought it was a pointless and unnecessary idea because who really wants to spend thousands of dollars to show that you’re committed to someone? Isn’t a verbal commitment enough? Are you really that insecure that you need to make a huge show of your relationship just to get a signed document stating that your significant other “belongs” to you? By now, all those people you would want at your wedding and witness your removal from the single life probably know you’re in love…at least I would hope so.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve always thought. But for some reason about a year ago (okay there is a reason, but that’s a story for another time), the idea of marriage stopped seeming so purposeless and started to have some meaning to it. As a girl, if a guy loves you, you want him to show it, right? You want to have a symbolic meaning behind your relationship. You want a title that stands for something more; rather than just telling people, “Yeah, he’s my boyfriend.” What’s so wrong with that?

Since birth, girls are brainwashed with the idea of a Prince Charming and a perfect ending. We watched (and most likely still continue to watch) countless numbers of Disney movies that portray a romantic love story. Yet, we tend to ignore all the obstacles that stand in the way of that love. We happily overlook the malevolent queens, the fire-breathing dragons, the evil sorcerers and even the wicked stepmothers who take up over half the movie. No, we only notice the man that sweeps the woman off her feet; and we only remember the happy ending. Therefore, as we grow up we prepare ourselves for our Prince Charming and use Pinterest to plan that special day. However, we neglect reality and forget to prepare ourselves for the heartache and trying moments that test our strength. When those moments occur, we all too often complain about why the guy can’t be ‘like this’ or be ‘like that,’ or why couldn’t he just say ‘this’ instead of saying ‘that.’ We expect our man to be like Prince Charming; tall, dark, handsome and with zero faults. It’s an extreme wake-up call once we realize that could never happen.

In my opinion, before one starts dreaming up their fairytale wedding, they first need to step out of their dreamland and face reality. It is essential to understand that just because a person isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean a relationship can’t be. Take the faults as they come and have faith, and come to terms with the fact that no one could ever be perfect; but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be your own flawless Prince Charming.

So, in the midst of my hypocrisy, I started to understand why the idea of marriage seemed so appealing. If you can make it to the point of marriage in a healthy and loving relationship despite all the ups and downs, it really is a happily ever after, isn’t it?

 

Above photo Courtesy: www.bubblews.com

simplify what should already be simple…

 

 

Relationships have their ups and downs. But in my opinion, a relationship should never be work. It is not that difficult to show the person that you are with that you care. And if it is, then you are most likely in the wrong relationship and need to get the hell out.

In my experience, there are 5 main things both men and women should do in order to be in a healthy and happy relationship.

 5 rules to keeping your man:

1. give him his space

2. communicate and trust him

3. love him

4. do not cheat

5. don’t ask for too much

 5 rules to keeping you girl:

1. treat her like a princess

2. compliment her

3. never ignore her

4. return her calls and texts

5. protect and respect her

 In my humble opinion, this is the only way a relationship can thrive. Both sides need to do their parts, and when only one side is working at it, then only that one side will end up getting hurt. And if you happen to be on that one side that is giving up their heart and soul for the one they love, but it is not being returned… then you have two options: bring it up and talk it out, or end it before you get pulled in deeper.

It is NOT complicated people. 

 

above photo courtesy: manifestmylove.com

This I believe (Published in The-Leading Edge January 28, 2014)

No day but today… Everyone has their own reaction to this statement. Some might believe that this means they must live for the moment, the here and now. Others like me, might think there is a little more to it than that.

We all live for those moments that “take our breath away”, right? A moment like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club when he throws his fist up in the air in triumph. In a movie like that, the misfits, outcasts, jocks, and popular kids toss out their titles and accept each other for the person they actually are despite the prejudices of their so called “friends”.  Living for the day is living a life being able to do exactly what one wants in the moment they are in disregarding past influences and heartbreaks. Moments like that are always worth the sacrifice even when they might be wrong.

Moments that cause the heart to stop are the ones that are worth the risk. Like John Cusack standing outside his love’s window with a boom box in Say Anything. Most would drive by him thinking “what a fool.” But those people never stuck around to catch the end of the story, did they? What about Drew Barrymore or Michael Vartan in Never Been Kissed? Or Julia Roberts and Adam Storke in Mystic Pizza? Every character was surrounded by people telling them it could never work. So what do they do?
They did it anyway. And in doing so, they proved all the doubters wrong. They knew that it would all be worth it; the tears and the pain would be worth experiencing the love and happiness. No matter how much time they had in front of them, or little time they had left, they planned on taking full advantage of it. Because let’s face it, opportunities like that do not come every day. Take any Nicholas Sparks novel; stories like A Walk to Remember prove that living in the moment and following your heart can lead down a road of complete bliss and satisfaction, no matter how broken the journey is.

Any girl is dying to say “just take me away” to the man of her dreams. But when that time comes, would you be ready to actually do it? Would you be willing to take that risk? Most would undoubtedly scream “yes!” without hesitation. But I dare you to actually go through with it. I dare you to forget your fears and to stop questioning yourself. Wipe out the logic in your head screaming at you to think things through, and for once, obey the whispers by your heart begging you to go for it.

No day but today. There is much more to it than just the words. Living without regrets and living for the moment is probably the most difficult, yet most rewarding way of life. A life like that is filled with love outnumbered by heartbreaks, and smiles outnumbered by tears. However, the regrets are outnumbered by lessons that will never be forgotten.

Maybe you’re in a relationship and it’s brand new. Maybe it’s not serious yet, but maybe it could be. Maybe it could be love. Real love. And in knowing that, you will be able to live your life the way it has always been meant to, by simply just living… and loving. Love until there’s nothing left. There is no greater way to live.

 

above photo courtesy: Quotation-Jonathan-Larson-regret-life-day-today-forget-Meetville-Quotes-189317

The Importance of Alien Language

It is no surprise, or secret, that the intake of information has quickly been shifting from print to the internet. The most popular form of media is the use of a laptop and your cell phone. Because of this, journalists who have become masters of the pen now need to become skilled with the keyboard. To put in simpler terms: coding.

Now when I was a rugrat messing around on my parents computer and something popped up that resembled: <sfkhsfkjbl=5453m5boj=v=sgnkfbn=sfkhfakjfaf><afihbww=w94740f?>…. I merely thought that aliens were just trying to communicate. No big deal, right? I would just exit out of it and carry on with mindlessly clicking squares in Minesweeper. I never thought in a million years that one day I would not only have to learn how to decipher that jumbled mess, but I would have to learn to write my very own alien language.

But that is what the world of journalism is coming to. If people like me want to pursue a career of journalism, then we need to be able to adapt from paper to the screen; and be able to understand every aspect of the internet since it is quickly becoming our main platform.

But why coding? If I can use google to search for a blog where I can just type my thoughts and click “publish” then why should we care about learning how to code? Well, articles such as 6 Reasons Why Schools Should Teach Journalists Coding and Why I’m Learning Coding explain why.

In the first article the author lists 6 in depth reasons why coding should be required in a journalism curriculum. He lists 2 very important points; one being that journalists need to be able to offer their future employers more. Basically, if two people were applying for the same job as a reporter and your task was to write a story and one person decides to pull up their blog then cool, that’s awesome. way to be, reporter! However, if the other applicant whipped open Notebook and started writing in HTML coding then needless to say, the potential employer will be immensely impressed. As journalists, it is in our blood to know as much about everything that we possibly can. We are naturally curious (some may say nosy) and we are always willing and wanting to learn more about our craft. And in today’s society, if our stage is going to be the internet, we need to be masters of at least the basic computer skills.

Another point he makes is something that I mentioned earlier: times are changing. As journalists, we are very aware of what is going on around us. And we all know very well that the way our audience receives our information is changing. In a perfect world I could get a job at a magazine or newspaper and sit and design all-day long. Then a week or so later I could hold my masterpiece in my hands. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case for many years longer. Sooner or later, everything will be digital. Therefore, journalists need to become as tech-savvy as possible.

Still don’t believe me that coding is important? Well believe it because Mark Zuckerberg said so. 

and so it begins

I have spent my entire life writing. I’ve kept countless numbers of journals, and lost them all. Except for a select few. Recently, I couldn’t help but wonder…how can I keep my thoughts safe? I would love to go back and read everything I felt and thought when I was 13 years old, but I can’t. So..what options do I have?

It was obvious that I had to start over, but this time I would do it right. About two years ago I started to type all of my thoughts onto a word document titled “you may say that I’m a dreamer.” and since then I’ve been able to keep track of everything, and carry it wherever I go on a handy flashdrive. But with this blog, now I can publish some of those things. Not only will others be able to read my writing, but see my photos and my designs too. Although, do others really want to see my stuff? I couldn’t help but think that maybe the world will hate what I have to say. HA. But like I care, right?

So, after careful consideration, this website will be a collection of my thoughts; past, present and future. Along with a portfolio of my work.

Without further adieu, welcome to my life.