The Wall :: Part 1

May 10th, 2007

Ashley Taylor

I reviewed the payment, sighed, and clicked “submit”. Oh well, it’s not like I’m a broke college student or anything. This will be worth it, I told myself, I’m just not sure why.

Why did I just sign up for the Los Angeles Marathon? I believe that purposeless activity has no place in my life and I avoid it to every extent that I can. So it killed me to commit to running a marathon when at that moment I had no idea why I was doing it. When I had started casually training in April of 2006, I thought I wanted to do it to prove myself. As I spent my first two years of high school on crutches with nerve damage to my left ankle and my freshman year of college battling a relatively significant eating disorder a marathon seemed to be the ultimate victory over both of those situations.

But after almost a year of training with about six weeks to go I was beyond burnt out, questioning my motives, not sure that it was worth it. Training took a lot of time and energy, it was the latest justification for mediocre grades, and I just wasn’t excited about running anymore. I considered dropping out, but I continued training. A triathlete friend suggested that the most solid form of insurance against dropping out would be to pay the pricey entry fee. So I did.

Seeing a confirmation with my bib number actually did make a difference in renewing my drive for the race. It suddenly seemed real to me, not just an abstract idea unworthy of how hard I was daily beating my body into the ground. I accepted that there were reasons that I was running this that I wouldn’t actually know or understand until I had crossed the finish line, but for right now, the commitment to myself and God was enough.

In the last two weeks before the big race I experienced life from a perspective I had never seen it through before. Preparing for my goal of finishing a 26.2 mile run without stopping or walking at any point well acquainted me with my inadequacies. As I felt completely unprepared for my race I had to learn quickly to lean on my sisters, to not be afraid to ask for their help or cry on their shoulders. These two weeks alone would have made it worth the effort. Although I was nervous and had no idea what to expect come race day, I was amazed and encouraged by my sisters rallying around me and the peace that secured my desire to continue running.

The race conveniently enough fell after a week-long battle with a sore throat and stuffy nose, and on top of that it was the morning after our formal date party. Fortunately, my date was a complete gentleman bringing me home early and I actually wasn’t too worked up to sleep and fully recover from my cold. When I woke up I was somehow energized, excited, and for the first time, I felt ready. One of my ADChi sisters drove me to Universal Studios, the start location, and saw me off promising that she and her roommate would be back to pick me up in Downtown LA at my estimated finish time. I approached the starting line, cued up my iPod, and started a 26.2 mile long prayer.

Ashley is a senior biological anthropology major at UCLA. She is the wellness chair of Alpha Delta Chi and the safety coordinator on the Bruin Waterski Team. She loves running and wakeboarding, and is passionate about encouraging women in confronting and overcoming eating disorders.

Supposed Benefits of Hazing—and How to Get Them without Hazing

April 23rd, 2007

Anthony Bennett

If you’re even reading this, chances are you belong to a Greek organization, one for which you have a great love and appreciation. That’s not an attitude that comes easily. It takes proper education and preparation so, at that moment where you cross the threshold from pledge to brother or sister, you can embrace the principles of your order as a unique and powerful force for good in your life and in the world at large.

Unfortunately, for some that involves senseless acts of servitude and humiliation with which Greek Life has become synonymous in the independent mind. If ever Greek Life is to shed its stereotypes and be in the minds of those who are not involved what it is to those who are, this must stop. Almost everyone in the Greek community recognizes this and are taking steps in that direction.

And yet, even as every national headquarters works to stamp out hazing, there are still some who defend their actions categorically, claiming certain benefits not achievable through more outwardly acceptable forms. This is a mindset that must be challenged from within the Greek community; we must openly examine these supposed justifications for seemingly inexcusable behavior, and discuss the alternatives.

1. Hazing weeds out the members who don’t “want it” badly enough, leaving only the best pledges.

This is probably the most common defense of hazing. If someone wants something enough, they will go through nearly anything to get it. The easiest way to determine if a pledge has a passion for the organization, therefore, is to put them through anything you can dream up, and see who stays. Alternative: Give them the passion. Promote the positives of your organization, and what your purpose as a fraternity or sorority is, with all the passion you expect of them. If they’re not into that, they’ll leave; what you’ll have left is a group wholly dedicated to your principles, including the ones who would have been turned away if you had tried to force the passion from them.

2. Hazing creates a sense of humility necessary for preserving the sanctity of your ritual.

Establishing yourself as an authority figure early and often will doubtlessly create an attitude of deference and obedience to you; when you get serious, they will. The temptation is visible: hazing will get them listening. But do you really want them listening out of fear? Alternative: Establish clear boundaries between what’s fun and serious, and expect strict observance of both the pledges and the members. If they’re serious about your organization, observance of your initiation ritual and the various pledgeship ones before it will take care of itself.

3. The sense of power created by hazing prevents apathy in the pledge process on the part of the members.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this one. By forcing the pledges through a gauntlet of hazing practices, the older members get to have some fun, which will motivate them to remain in the more serious parts of the pledge process. Of course, there’s an easy and sensible alternative: Actually have fun with your pledges. If you want to call them your brothers or sisters, you should probably look into liking them; if you like them, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem finding something to do.

Anthony is a sophomore Sigma Chi formerly of Jacksonville University, currently applying to several institutions. He enjoys writing, the arts, and being a Sigma Chi. He is currently majoring in English with a focus on Film and plans to graduate in the Spring or Fall of 2009.

Virginia Tech Shooting: Fraternity Member Voices Frustration

April 16th, 2007

Horace Botts, a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Virgina Tech, writes a letter to the public about the recent shooting tragedy on campus. His letter was posted on abc2news.com. To view the full letter, click on this link.

Eat Your Heart Out :: Part 3

April 10th, 2007

Ashley Taylor

I believe that “eating disorder” is a misnomer. The actual disorder is in how a person views their self-worth in relationship to the influential factors in his or her life. Parents, schoolwork, environmental stresses like dorm life or a Greek house, dating, roommates and pledging, for example, are all where we, as college students, find our value, our place and home at our universities. When a person’s relationship with any of these or similar factors are unhealthy, this can easily be manifested in that person’s relationship with him or herself: body, mind and spirit. Once that relationship is off-balance, the risk of projecting the need for control on one’s own body is almost too great to suppress. A person’s relationship with the outside world so directly affect’s his or her relationship with his or her self, and has the capacity to shred his or her self-image.

I have already outlined general concepts on healthy eating and working out. This installment is supposed to tie those two together to promote a healthy self-image, without which food and exercise are valueless beyond their material qualities. What is the purpose of eating? What is the purpose of exercise? If these sound like silly questions, then I dare say that you’ve never been asked them before.

If the point of eating is to fuel the body to exercise, and working out is properly process the food, then it is a seamless cycle. And a bit futile. Both notions are essential not only to this physical health, but to mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Both are such convenient, available and seemingly controllable outlets. It is so easy to deal with stress by eating too much or not at all. The gym could be classified as therapy for getting out so many frustrations, or the opposite, completely unappealing to someone in a high-stress environment. But no big deal, right? Everybody is different, so everyone is going to deal with insecurities and life issues differently.

It is a big deal. You can’t get away from your body, and since it’s always with you it should be under your control. So you take out irritations, excitements and emotions on it, because when you can’t control the world around you, you have to be able to control yourself. The purpose of food ceases to be to nourish, it becomes to comfort or to reject. The purpose of working out becomes a self-maintained mandate. You catalogue every calorie, and set maximum allowed calories per day (ie 700) and minimum required workouts (ie 90 minutes cardio daily…the same girl). The human body was not made to be in bondage to such laws!

I wish there was an easy solution to anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and every other unhealthy manifestation pertaining to self-image. I wish that the logic of the necessity of food, and the freedom that comes from not binding oneself to arbitrary self-governed rules about necessary life functions, was powerful enough to break those bonds. I wish that teaching the merits, facts and figures of a healthy and practical lifestyle would be enough to undo years of cultural lies about what constitutes an attractive human form. And as frustrating as it is that there is no pat-answer, which does not mean by any degree that they are insurmountable.

The well-being of the mind and body are directly related. The human mind needs the human body for its nourishment and sustenance, but the body needs the mind to know what is reality in terms of physical needs. A mind that is chained to an unhealthy self-image will never have the clarity to run the body appropriately. A healthy mind that balances environment against self and does not allow outside circumstances to control it will allow the body to work in a manner in which it will flourish, and this will cyclically continue to encourage healthy thinking in the mind.

Ashley is a senior biological anthropology major at UCLA. She is the health and fitness chair of Alpha Delta Chi and the safety officer on the Bruin Water Ski Team. She loves running and wakeboarding, and is passionate about encouraging women in confronting and overcoming eating disorders.

Leaving Your Mark

March 27th, 2007

Lance Allen

These last few weeks, I’ve been working my way towards what has turned out to be one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made—whether or not to go alumni. While this situation may seem simple since I’m getting a Bachelor’s Degree in May, it has turned out to be quite a bit more complicated. Sure, I’ll be “graduating,” but I’ve still got a year of graduate school ahead of me and I want to stay undergrad to earn a minor in mathematics. If I choose to skip over the minor, I’d have to go alumni; if I go for the minor, I could very well be in school for another two years.

Over the course of my late-night discussions with myself, one thought crept into my head and it hasn’t left since. For the last two weeks, most of my thoughts have been focused on how the people in my chapter will remember me. More specifically, how will I be known by the men who have come through my chapter five years from now? Will I just be another face on a few composites, or will the things I’ve done and tried to accomplish be remembered?

As I write this message, I’m hoping that it’s read by more than seniors in the same position I’m in. I’m hoping that by reading this article, a few freshmen and sophomores are motivated to leave a lasting impact on their chapter. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t do as much as I could have, and that I didn’t do what I did as well as I could have. I know that it’s a cliché, and everyone is sick of hearing it, but you only get as much out of your chapter as you put into it. Today, I’m telling you to not settle for what you think you want, because you will almost certainly wish that you had gotten more when you’re done.

You don’t have to have an elected position in your chapter to make a difference; you don’t even need to have an appointed one. All you need to leave an impact in your chapter is a goal. Does you chapter need better speakers at meetings? Go out and find them. Do you wish your chapter had more brotherhood or sisterhood events? Take it upon yourself to plan them. No matter what your chapter needs, or what you want your chapter to have, all you need to do to make it possible is to make arrangements for it.

Everyone is capable of writing down a goal and following through with it. The only difference between goals that are met, and goals that are forgotten, is a person who is willing to write them down and follow through on it. I challenge you to be that person for one of your chapter’s goals.

I’ve noticed that there are three kinds of people on old chapter composites: the trouble-makers, the ones who improved the chapter, and the ones nobody remembers. Which one do you want to be?

Are Men and Women from Different Planets? (4)

March 12th, 2007

Susan Broadwell

Communication Between Men and Women :: Part 4

Have you ever had a conversation that went something like this?

Mary comes home from an exhausting day of classes and sorority stuff. Tom (her boyfriend) calls her and asks if she wants to go out to dinner in a little bit. She’s excited because she wants and needs to share her feelings about the day.

As they sit down at the table in the restaurant, she says, “There is so much to do; I don’t have any time for myself.”

Tom says, “You should drop a class and quit doing so much for the sorority. You don’t have to work so hard. Just slow down a little bit.”

Mary says, “But I like my classes and all the sorority stuff I do. It’s just that the professors surprise us so much with extra work each week and they just expect me to change everything at a moments notice.”

Tom says, “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just do what you can do both in the classes and cut back on sorority stuff.”

Mary says, “I am! Oh my gosh!”

Tom says, “What?”

Mary says, “I can’t believe I completely forgot to call my best friend from high school today!”

Tom says, “Don’t worry about it, she will understand.”

Mary says, “Do you know what she is going through right now? She needs me.”

Tom says, “You worry too much, that’s why you’re so unhappy.”

Mary angrily says, “I am not always unhappy. Can’t you just listen to me?”

Tom says, “I am listening!”

Mary says, “Never mind! Why even bother?”

Ever have this happen to you? After this conversation Mary is now more frustrated than when she arrived home and Tom called her. Tom is also frustrated and has no idea what went wrong. He wanted to help, but his problem-solving tactics didn’t work.

For the past few months I have been talking about the differences between men and women and how we can communicate better. Last month, I talked about difference number two: that men morph into Mr. Fix-It and women can morph into Ms. Home Improvement.

Once a man understands a woman and her needs, he learns he needs to just listen as a woman needs to talk about problems to get close, and not necessarily to receive solutions. If a man understands this, he will learn to listen patiently with out offering solutions.On the other hand, once a woman understands a man and his needs, she learns to stop giving advice and trying to correct the man and will wait till he asks for her advice. Otherwise she gives him the message that he is not good enough or competent enough to figure it out on his own.

For example – Tom and Mary were going to a party. Tom was driving. After about 20 minutes and going around the same block a few times, it was clear to Mary that Tom was lost. She finally suggested that he call for help. Tom became very silent. They eventually arrived at the party, but the tension from that moment persisted the whole evening. Mary had no idea of why he was upset.

From his side, he was offended. What he heard was “I don’t trust you to get us there. You are incompetent!”

Mary could not appreciate how important it was for Tom to accomplish his goal without help. Offering advice was the ultimate insult.

What Mary should have done is assume Tom could solve his problem—unless he asks for help. This is very hard for women to do. It’s against her nature.

Here are some brief examples of ways a woman might unknowingly annoy a man by offering advice or seemingly harmless criticism. As you explore this list, remember that these little things can add up to create big walls or resistance and resentment. See if you can recognize why the man might feel controlled by these statements.

When a Man resists Ms. Home-Improvement

1. “How can you think of buying that? You already have one.”
2. “Those dishes are still wet. They’ll dry with spots.”
3. “Your hair is getting kind of long, isn’t it?”
4. “There’s a parking spot over there, turn the car around.”
5. “You want to spend time with your friends, what about me?”
6. “Don’t put that there. It will get lost.”
7. “Why are you waiting for a table? Didn’t you make reservations?”
8. “Your room is still a mess. How can you live in here? When are you going to clean it up?”
9. “You forgot to bring it over to me again. Maybe you could put it in a special place where you can remember it.”
10. “You’re driving too fast. Slow down or you’ll get a ticket.”
11. “I didn’t know where you were. You should have called.”
12. “Those potato chips are too greasy. They’re not good for your heart.”
13. “Your shirt doesn’t match your pants.”
14. “Bill called for the third time. When are you going to call him back?”

(from the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus pg. 25 and pg. 27)

Here are some brief examples of ways a man might mistakenly invalidate feelings and perceptions of a woman, or offer unwanted solutions when she needs empathy and nurturing. See if you can recognize why she would resist.

When a Woman Resists Mr. Fix-It

1. “You shouldn’t worry so much.”
2. “But that is not what I said.”
3. “It’s not such a big deal.”
4. “OK – I am sorry. Now can we just forget it?”
5. “Why don’t you just do it?”
6. “You shouldn’t feel hurt, that’s not what I meant.”
7. “So what are you trying to say?”
8. “How can you say that? Last week I spent the whole day with you. We had a great time.”
9. “I got it; this is what you should do.”

10. “Look, there is nothing we can do about it.”
11. “If you are going to complain about doing it, then don’t do it.”
12. “Why do you let people treat you that way? Forget them!”
13. “All right, then you can do it from now on.”
14. “From now on I will handle it.”
15. “Of course I care about you. That’s ridiculous.”
16. “Would you get to the point?”
17. “That’s not at all what happened.”
(from the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus – pg. 25-29)

You can see how conflict can happen easily if you look at these lists. Men don’t realize how they innocently invalidate women’s feelings and women don’t realize how they innocently criticize a man and tear him down.

Next month I will explore this topic more and continue talking about how to understand each other and how to communicate better in these areas.

Susan Broadwell has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for 15 years at Virgina Tech. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Dave, for 14 years and is a mom of three children. There are two girls, an eight and five-year-old and a son who is four and a half-months-old.

Participate Outside of a “Day of Service”

February 26th, 2007

Ashley Whitlatch

It is a frigid spring day, so cold that the sharp wind cuts through to my marrow. I am standing in the middle of a field, bubblegum blue jeans, five layers of various shirts and coats, dirt-encrusted lace-up boots and those great gardening gloves your mom always wears—the ones with the blue rubber smeared on the palm, so it looks like you’ve been trying a new finger-painting technique.

One lonely raindrop hits the only place on my body with skin exposed—my nose. I look up, willing myself to see through the darkening puffy clouds to reach the sun’s warmth.

Giving up on attracting heat, I refocus my efforts on my job—digging a hole. This is probably the 40 or 50th hole I’ve dug today. I lost specific count after 24 or so.

All around me, throughout the large field, others are also digging. Deciding the hole is deep enough; I drop the rusty shovel and take hold of the 12-inch evergreen held out to me by one of the guys in my three-person team.

As I hold the baby tree upright, my two partners start filling in the freshly dug earth around the roots. After three days of this, we finally have a routine down: first, water from the bucket (not too much or the little tree might drown), large shredded black tarp with a hole ripped in the middle, pushed over the top and staked down, then we move forward 10 feet and starting digging again.

There are 20 of us and this is our Spring Break trip, or rather, this is what we decided to do instead of having a Spring Break trip. Volunteering for the week at Wildhorse Canyon, a Young Life Camp in eastern Oregon, with a bunch of fraternity and sorority members, was not something I had planned on doing three years ago. I found out that planting 3,100 baby trees in five days is not easy—the hot cocoa breaks were lifesavers. However, after having gone on this trip, I felt like I had accomplished something and it allowed me to create lasting bonds with fellow members of my Greek Community.

This feeling is shared by many members of Greek Communities who volunteer their time for a cause or philanthropy project. Talia Tupling, a junior Economics major at the University of Washington and member of Delta Zeta is one of these volunteers. For the past quarter, Tupling has given a portion of her free time to volunteering at Cinderella’s Trunk.

The entirely volunteer, non-profit organization was created, according to its Web site, out of a church closet filled with 14 dresses in 2000. Today, the organization provides formal apparel and accessories to high school students who could not otherwise afford it.

The group’s Web site states that their “mission is to improve the self-esteem of our community.” Tupling explained that her ‘big sis’ in her sorority is currently their marketing director, so that was how she learned about the organization and she immediately wanted to get involved.

The group has a small store where all of the merchandise is displayed and students are able to make an appointment to come in to pick out what they need with the help of a volunteer.

“You are their fairy Godmother and so you help them pick out stuff and treat them like they’re shopping at Nordstroms…and make them look gorgeous,” said Tupling.

She also said that the students, “just feel good about themselves,” when trying on the dresses. “Although”, she said, “these high school students are not the only beneficiaries of this organization.”

“It’s really fulfilling that you made someone else’s life better,” Tupling stated.
Throughout her volunteering, Tupling said she realized how gratifying helping others is and recommended, “Get[ing] involved in whatever interests you.”

She said, “Whatever cause you believe in, go for that because everything needs help.” Other Greeks may be reminded of this by the words of Martin Luther King Jr., when he said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

This year, we should all, as Greeks who often spout off about the many volunteering efforts of our communities, ask ourselves this question—and have an answer. Planting trees, playing fairy Godmother or collecting donations is not the only way of volunteering. Maybe it will start this year with a chapter’s philanthropy, but maybe students should take the initiative and get involved in a new service project. Get a taste of how giving time and energy can help those in need and participate beyond a “Day of Service.”

Ashley Whitlatch is a senior Editorial Journalism major at the University of Washington and is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. She has also served as Vice President of Public Relations for University of Washington’s Panhellenic Association. She is addicted to Starbucks, stilettos and Lord of the Rings.

Eat Your Heart Out :: Part 2

February 9th, 2007

Ashley Taylor

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

The relationship between food and exercise hangs in a fragile balance that can be easily manipulated to deteriorate into unhealthy proportions. So after examining healthy eating habits in the last article and exercise in this one, look forward to my next article in which I’ll tie the two together to discuss the significance of healthy mental thought processes and how that relates to food and physical activity. But first, what is exercise and why does it matter?

Physical exercise is built on three separate yet equally significant pillars: cardio (aerobic), associated with weight management and heart health; weights (anaerobic), associated with muscle mass and strength; and flexibility exercise, associated with injury prevention and stress management. These three categories are not mutually exclusive but are an overlapping framework upon which physical activity is built. Food is the input to your body. The way in which food is broken down depends significantly, though not exclusively, on the physical activity you engage in.

Working out is how we are empowered to shape and fine tune our bodies. It is essential for general health, but also to focus your body towards a purpose. Exercise is not a fruitless activity; athletes condition specific muscle groups, and even the apostle Paul talks about disciplining his body (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) for a specific purpose. The decision to be or not to be, physically active will determine how the food you eat is broken down and will make a world of difference in your overall wellness.

Consistency is of exceptional importance, whether it is on a weekly or daily basis. For my first anthropological field survey (in 2004), I went into the Wooden Center at UCLA and haphazardly selected a few members to ask about their workouts. One of the questions we asked was inquiring to what was the hardest aspect oft their exercise program was. Nearly every participant said that the hardest part was actually just getting to the gym. These people also indicated that the more consistent they were, the less of a mental battle it was for them.

That said, work yourself up slowly. Use your head when challenging yourself. If you force yourself to lift more weight than you can actually handle, then you’re just asking to get hurt. Pushing yourself is good both physically and mentally. Remember though that pain (different from post-workout soreness) is your body’s way of saying “Stop! You’re doing damage!” Always stretch to warm up and cool down. Every gym is staffed with people who know how to use the machines properly and most have personal trainers. Take advantage of this! When I was learning to scuba dive, my slightly overprotective father “suggested” that in addition to the weekly training UCLA required, that I meet with a personal trainer at Wooden so that I “didn’t find myself having a problem 50 feet deep and not physically strong enough to do anything about it.” I was skeptical, but I’ve learned that I have to pick my battles, so I agreed.

I think I only met with my personal trainer twice to learn proper form on the weight machines and for floor exercises, as well as stretches, with the purpose of being a stronger swimmer and diver. He helped me form different workouts and routines as well as an exercise schedule so that I could focus my body toward this goal. While it made me a more effective diver (sure enough, I once had to do a cold water beach dive on a broken foot to get my research certification in time – and survived), it also increased my confidence in the gym, now that I know I’m not going to hurt myself because of a technique error. Good call, Dad.

Finally, if you’ve never done yoga or pilates, I seriously encourage you to give it a try. Disciplines of this nature combine all three exercise principles into one workout routine. You’ll feel more relaxed and accomplished than you’ve ever simultaneously felt before, and according to fitness gurus Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, “all kidding aside, if everyone did yoga, we would have world peace.”

Ashley is a senior biological anthropology major at UCLA. She is the health and fitness chair of Alpha Delta Chi and the safety officer on the Bruin Waterski Team. She loves running and wakeboarding, and is passionate about encouraging women in confronting and overcoming eating disorders.

Are Men and Women from Different Planets? (3)

February 9th, 2007

Susan Broadwell

Communication Between Men and Women :: Part 3

If we can understand how each other is different and how each other ticks—it can make male/female relationships run more smoothly and result in less conflict.

Last month I addressed the first of five ways men and women are different. That difference is how men and women think and process life differently.

This month I will address the second difference in the way men and women think and communicate. That difference is what I call “Men tend to be Mr. Fix-it and women tend to be Ms. Home Improvement.”

The most frequently expressed complaint women have about men is that men don’t listen. Either a man completely ignores her when she speaks to him or he listens for a few beats, assesses what is bothering her, and then proudly puts on his Mr. Fix-it cap and offers her a solution to make her feel better.

However, he usually is confused when a woman doesn’t appreciate this gesture of love and she tells him that he’s not listening to her. No matter how many times she tells him that he’s not listening, he doesn’t get it and keeps doing the same thing. She wants empathy but he thinks she wants solutions.

The most frequently expressed complaint men have about women is that women are always trying to change them. When a woman loves a man, she feels responsible to assist him in growing. She tries to help him improve the way he looks and the way he does things. She forms a “home-improvement committee,” and he becomes her primary focus. No matter how much he resists her help, she persists, waiting for any opportunity to help him or tell him what to do. She thinks she is nurturing him, while he feels he’s being controlled. Instead he wants her acceptance.

For example—when I was dating Dave, there were some clothing choices he made that I would not have chosen personally. I didn’t realize it, but I thought deep down inside “When I get married I will help him dress better and get rid of some of the ‘tacky’ clothes.” Well, he was not open to this idea. It was quite a topic of conflict. I was just trying to help him look better and he took it as I was controlling his life.

So what we find out when Mr. Fix-it and Ms. Home Improvement start dating or get married is that there is going to be conflict and these two will find it hard to communicate and mesh together.

Men will begin to offer solutions for every problem and women will continue to get frustrated. Women will seek out areas to improve and men will get annoyed by her controlling behavior. So what happens? Sparks fly!

Take some time this month to try to understand why men and women are like this and it will help and greatly improve communications between the sexes. Next month I will talk more about why men and women act this way and how to understand and improve communication even with our differences.

Susan Broadwell has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for 15 years at Virgina Tech. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Dave, for 14 years and is a mom of three children. There are two girls, an eight and five-year-old and a son who is four and a half-months-old.

Happy Feet (PG) Movie Review

January 25th, 2007

Kaitrin Shirazi

This is a heartwarming, coming of age tale about a penguin, Mumble, who just doesn’t fit in.

No matter how hard he tried, he stuck out with each action, word, and step. Mumble knew he was different as a hatchling, his happy feet and inability to sing “just wasn’t penguin”, so he spent most of his time away from the flock where he and his happy feet could be themselves. While away one morning, Mumble narrowly escaped becoming breakfast for a small flock of Skua gulls by using his wit and personality.

He kept the leader of the gulls busy by asking about the tracking ring around his foot, the “aliens” the skua swore put it there, slipped into a crack in the ice and waited until the coast was clear. Ever since that event, Mumble thought about the “aliens” the gull spoke of and wondered if there really was something else out there beyond his home.

The elders of Mumble’s flock of Emperor penguins, already worried and agitated with the bazaar shortage of their fish supply, singled Mumble out and sent him away when he questioned authority with a theory as to why the fish are gone. Along the way, Mumble finds friends that accept him for who he truly is and help him out on his quest. After narrowly escaping becoming breakfast again, this time for a sea lion, Mumble becomes friends with a group of Adélie penguins.

Happy Feet MovieMumble and the Adélie penguins travel across the frozen tundra, through the valley of intimidating elephant seals to reach the forbidden shore. All the while finding clues that aliens do exist and escaping becoming breakfast for other animals.

Upon reaching the forbidden shore, Mumble separates from his friends to bravely follow a fleet of fishing ships. He followed the ships until his body could no longer move and was washed ashore in a strange land.

Upon awakening, Mumble found he was in a land where the fish was in vast supply but was restricted by barriers both clear and painted to seem like his home. Unable to return to his friends and family, Mumble fell into despair and started to lose his mind and memory.

One day an alien child tapped on the glass surrounding Mumble’s new home and reminded him of the tapping his feet made on the ice at home when he was happy. He uses his strange talent to return home and in the end, win the affection of his heart’s desire and save his loved ones from starvation.

This film has a cast of talented stars, lending their voices to bring depth and personality to each of the characters. Some such stars include: Elijah Wood (Mumble), Brittany Murphy (Gloria, Mumble’s love interest), Hugh Jackman (Memphis, Mumble’s father) Nicole Kidman (Norma Jean, Mumble’s mother), Hugo Weaving (Noah the Elder), Robin Williams (both Ramón and Lovelace) and Fat Joe (Seymour, school mate of Mumble’s and pursuer of Gloria).

This seemingly childish movie had me in stitches for the majority of the film, is great for all ages and has a lesson we all can learn from. It is now a personal favorite and I strongly recommend it.