Tuesday, May 25, 2010

36 Years of Wisdom...Sorta

Tomorrow I turn thirty-six years old. Wow. I could be termed in my 'late thirties' although I'll hang out in the mid-thirties for another couple of years.  I think I've stated before that I don't mind aging. I mean, I don't like to LOOK old, but I'm happy with how I look so that isn't an issue and I still feel like I'm catching up with myself due to the fact that I have simply always felt old. The whole process is helped by the fact that there is no one time in my life I can look back on and say "Gosh, I wish I were able to do that again." Maybe a day here and there, but I can't think of a single block of time (meaning months) that I want to repeat. However, I'm a firm believer in age equating with wisdom and therefore I get smarter every year! And, seeing as how I am so very wise I am going to impart 36 of my best advice:

1--Do not leave laundry in the washer for a week.
2--Peanut Butter should have child proof lids.
3--I will always hate my hair no matter how good I think it looks that particular day.
4--You can learn from your mistakes or make them again--you choose.
5--Most talents are discovered after the age of 20.
6--Everyone has demons.
7--Some people's demons hate you.
8--People with demons who hate you are better avoided.
9--Prayer is your opportunity to try to help people with demons who hate you and are better avoided.
10--My demons hate some people and have caused them lots of pain.
11--Sometimes it feels impossible to make things better.
12--Prayer is good.
13--Cheesecake is also good.
14--Prayer and cheesecake together is practically celestial.
15--Philosophies are much easier to think about then to execute.
16--Most of my philosopies rise up to bite me in the butt.
17--Some people just are not happy for other people's success.
18--Kids really do come with their own personalities.
19--Sometimes complaining about something really does make you feel better.
20--There is no sin in leaving the kids home when you go on couple vacations.
21--The future is far more interesting than the past.
22--Family is awesome, but just because they are family doesn't mean that their demons don't hate you.
23--It is possible to love someone and yet want nothing to do with them. Healthy sometimes even.
24--Time really does move faster as you get older.
25--Metabolisms really do slow down as you get older.
26--Typically it's easier to remember the stupid things you do than the cool stuff.
27--Didactic ponification is of the gods.
28--For every person who's impressed when you use big words there's someone else rolling their eyes.
29--Forgiveness doesn't really make sense until someone forgives you when they didn't have to.
30--Looking for ways to deal with your own demons is a worthy pursuit that might take a lifetime.
31--Parenthood is a priceless look into the heart of God.
32--There will always be someone smarter, prettier, funnier, more talented, and more generous than you.
33--Just because someone else might be better, doesn't mean that YOU won't be a better self for working toward the same goal.
34--Nothing feels as good as being kind.
35--It's fun to be a girl.
36--Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people but good things also happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people and there really isn't anyone out to get us, just trying to teach us a thing or twelve.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, it's been a long, somewhat dreadful, insecure, whirlwind, and yet essentially good year. :-)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Things Mom Would Never Say

"How on earth can you see the TV from way back there?"

"Yeah, I used to skip school a lot too."

"Just leave all the lights on, it makes the house look more cheery!"

"Let me smell that shirt...yeah, it's good for another week."

"Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey, I'll be glad to feed and walk him everyday."

"Well, if timmy's mom says it's okay that's good enough for me."

"the curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It's not like I'm trying to run a prison or something."

"I don't have a tissue, just use your sleeve."

"Don't bother wearing a jacket, the wind chill is bound to improve."

And, last but not least (and the only one I can take credit for.)

"Anything you want honey, I only care about your instant gratification."

Happy Mother's day, I hope it was a good one.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Review: Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather Moore

I remember, years ago, realizing that only three women were mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon. Sariah, Abish, and Isabelle. One is the wife of a prophet, one is a servant, and the third is a hooker. All these amazing stories are told, but it seemed that women played such a small role in those events. My semi-feminist heart took exception to this because part of my journey on this earth has been a continual quest for proof that I mattered. It is a testimony to my belief that I do matter when I see that other women did too. It's why I love the story of Esther and Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testiment--they mattered enough to have their stories told and continue to be my favorite stories. I want to be inspired by strong women, I want to see myself in them, and I need that reminder that having trials does not mean I've done something wrong.

A few years ago I came to what was, for me, a rather amazing discovery in regard to the righteousness=ease debate that always takes place in my mind. I can only hope others of you have had the same battle play out "But I read my scriptures every day this week and a kid still pooped in the tub?" or "I paid my tithing, how can I be out of money?" but I realized that the GREAT people from the scriptures didn't have it easy. The great women were no exception.

Mary, the mother of Christ, was labeled an adulteress, her life spared by her betrothed who married her despite the fact that she was pregnant months before the wedding. She fled to Egypt when her young son's life was threatened, then back again when things were safe. She was married to a carpenter and lived a simple life. She lost God's son during Passover for three days and 20 years later watched her oldest child, the son of God, tortured to death. Ruth was widowed as a young woman living in a foreign land. She had learned too much about her husband's culture and religion to find peace with her own people and lived in poverty, caring for her mother in law, until she married Boaz. Esther was one wife of many to a king who nearly destroyed her people. The wife of Nephi watched her husband be beaten, bound, and nearly killed by his brother's more than once. She bore children in the desert even though she'd been raised with ease. Once they finally arrived in the Promised land, they had to flee in the night and find somewhere else. Yet, these women could be called 'choice'. They had huge responsibility, often times the responsibility of nations and generations, placed upon their shoulders and within their wombs--it was a hard journey. Their righteousness did not equal ease, so why do I assume mine should?

I came to this realization, but it still bothered me that their stories were usually sidelines. I want to know them because I am one of them--a woman with great responsibility. I want to see how they succeeded and learn from them. But how do I do that when their stories are not available except in snippets?

Thus enter Heather Moore's book, Women of the Book of Mormon. As I said there are only three women mentioned by name who lived during the course of time covered by the Book of Mormon. However, there are other women mentioned--like Eve and Mary--and others referenced, like the Daughter of Jared. Heather found them all, and then she hunted for details. The result is a beautifully written account of their stories, put into context with the cultures they lived within. Heather has combed articles and other books, then compiled the information in a format that is easy to read and focuses on those elements that helps me know these women better than I ever have. When I heard about the book I was excited at the prospect, when I read it I was humbled by many things. Chief among them was the realization that these women were a product of their culture just like I am. They did not live in my time, therefore they had far less by way of rights and opportunity. This was huge to me because it wasn't that the prophets were ignoring them when they wrote the scriptures, it was that they were bound by the time in which they lived. I guess you could say that none of them, men or women, knew any better. But these women were important, which is why there is any mention of them at all. Heather brings them to life, puts meat on the bones of who they were and how they lived. After gaining an understanding of their cultures, I went from wondering why so little was written to realizing how much was written. We have whole sermons that we don't read in the Book of Mormon, but Mormon took the time to tell us of Sariah's heart ache and of the brother of Jared's daughters treachery. Now, Heather Moore has taken the time to tell us the rest of their stories.

In the process of reading this book I was edified by my role in the lives of my family. A lot of what I do is background and foundational--but it matters. Both for their growth and mine. I can't wait until I need to give a lesson where I can pull this information from her book. I can't wait until my daughters ask why there is so little mention of women in the Book of Mormon. This book is a powerful witness to the fact that life is hard for everyone--that is how we become strong, it is how we learn to carry the yoke of being a daughter of God.

You can find this book wherever LDS books are sold, specifically at DESERET BOOK ONLINE. Also, Heather will be signing with me at the South Jordan Seagull (11573 So. Main District Drive, South Jordan) tomorrow, May 8th--just in time for Mother's day :-)

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Hug Factor

In the early months of marriage I came back from grocery shopping and brought all the grocery bags into the kitchen and commenced to put them away in the appropriate cupboards. About 3 bags into this, Lee came in and started helping me. He put the cereal on top of the fridge, put the vanilla in the cup cupboard, cheese in the vegetable drawer, and found a spot between the canned corn and beans for a bag of chocolate chips. I stopped him and showed him how we had a baking cupboard for baking items, a deli drawer for cheese, and a whole cabinet for cereal. He nodded and then commenced to put the mustard on the shelf (not the door) of the fridge and the powdered sugar on top of the fridge where the cereal had been moments earlier. This was my KITCHEN, MY space, with all of MY things and I went just a little psycho wife. I told him to stop helping me, that he was messing it all up and that I would rather do it myself than spend ten minutes trying to find my paprika when I next made deviled eggs. He put up his hands in surrender and said "Fine, I won't help."

At the time I thanked him for this since I didn't want his help. Well, fast forward 17 years and four kids--unloading groceries is MY job. I now get 18 bags minimum when I go grocery shopping. Like many things that started out organized, putting stuff away is now a dash to the finish because I'm usually late for something. A few years ago as I'm 20 minutes into unloading groceries while Lee is on the couch I asked him to help me. He eyed me carefully. "You WANT me to help put away groceries? Are you sure?"

And thus here I am facing another lesson of stating ones opinions too strongly, without having adequate basis for having formed that opinion. Which brings me to hugs.

I will attempt to say the rest of this as non-creepy as possible. It won't be easy.

A couple years ago there was a debate on LDStorymakers about hugs. I don't remember who brought it up or why but I pulled out my soap box and stated my opinion loudly and with fervor. I didn't like hugs. I didn't like feeling obligated to have such a physical exchange. It made me uncomfortable, I worried there was a sexual connotation to it with certain men, and seemed insincere when everyone just hugs everyone for any reason. I waited for people to line up behind me agreeing with my stance "non-huggers unite!" A few people admitted that they could take hugs or leave them, others said some people overdid it, but none of them were as anti-hug as I was. I've no doubt I came across as rather neurotic and it got me wondering about that very thing. What was so difficult about a  hug? Why was it hard for me?

Ah, the romantic notion of going back in time and burning that soap box.

Following this debate some people from LDStorymakers no longer hugged me when we got together--well, except Julie Wright because she didn't buy my defense. There were a few times when every other person is hugging and I'm shaking hands. They weren't being mean, and I knew this, they were simply respecting my loudy-stated wishes. But it felt weird. I hadn't realized certain benefits of hugging until I was getting less and less of it. The most awkward moment was after I'd been with someone, maybe for lunch and we're saying goodbye. It becomes a weight shifting "Well, okay, I'll see you later." That just feels weird. There were times I was REALLY glad to see someone, or REALLY grateful for something hey did and found myself unsure of how to show that. I missed the power of a hug and didn't know how to get it any other way. And it made me look at myself in regard to all kinds of affection which takes us to some deep seated emotional issues I'll keep off the blog :-)

Anyway, I stood by my pronouncement, and I hugged people but didn't seek it out and wondered if I was really screwed up. Then, last fall, Julie Wright and I went on the book tour. Now, if you've spent any time with Julie you know she is a bundle of energy and just makes people feel good. I've had the chance to spend lots of time with Julie over the last several years, but never this much time all at once. From the get-go I was well aware of my hug issues. People go out of their way to come to signings, do I hug them? Have they heard I don't hug? Will they be offended if I don't hug them? If I do hug them will they assume I'm being insincere? There were people I hugged automatically, without thinking about it at all, but someone else would have me wondering what I should do. Julie, of course, had none of these thoughts. She hugged everyone. I had a moment or two in the beginning of thinking, what if people don't like being hugged? She's forcing them to hug against their wishes!

But guess what. I didn't see one person flinch, pull away, or seem the least bit ill at ease. And Julie hugged hundreds people on that tour. Instead of flinching and teeth gritting, I saw people literally melt when Julie embraced them. At least two women literally held on to her and it made me wonder when the last time was that someone had hugged them. After she greeted people this way, things were different. Pretenses dropped, we heard people's stories, they opened up about who they were, what they struggled with, and they bought Julie's books like crazy. To summarize it, I saw all these people connect to her. I hugged too, but it was watching Julie and the people she embraced that changed something in the way I viewed a good ol' hug. There was power in it and because Julie sincerely cared about these people, the hugs weren't weird, no one was uncomfortable and good things happened. Was my problem that I didn't care about people? No. Was I being arrogant or germ-o-phobic? No, I just didn't know how to do it very well. So, I started practicing and hugging in the right situation. Instead of telling myself my personal space was being invaded I just enjoyed the closeness (I know, quickly descending into creepy. I'm done)

At the LDStorymakers conference last week L.T. Elliot came up to me--for the record, she is one of the best huggers around, you know she's absolutely sincere in her regard and I swear she transfers energy through some cosmic force. She said "I know you're not a hugger, but..." And I felt so embarrassed. Not because she'd said it, but because I had told the world that I didn't want or need such basic affection. I made her give me a hug and told her I was converted. She laughed and said she was glad and she went on her way. The thing is, I don't remember telling her I wasn't a hugger. I don't know where she got it. Granted, I might have told her, but what if I didn't and it was just one of those things that spread. It could be a conspiracy that's might be all my fault!

So, now I find myself in a very weird position. I told people I didn't like hugs, I avoided them, and now I find that, like Julie said, people need to be touched in ways like that. People like me need it, even if we felt sure we didn't. And yet, hugging still doesn't come naturally for me. I way overthink it, worry that people won't want me to hug them, worry that they know I've stated my dislike and therefore won't know how to accept it from me. Will they think I'm faking it? Will they they pull away? After people read this I'll worry that they think I hug them so that they'll buy my books.

But either way, here I am, raw with confession, squirmy in my seat for both having stated my original opinions and now going back on them. I don't think I'll ever be Julie, but I'm growing in this one part of my life, I guess. And growth is uncomfortable sometimes.