Thursday, February 27, 2014

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Sometimes while I'm running jogging trying not to die on the treadmill, my kids like to park themselves on the floor next to me and make helpful comments like, "Mommy, why is your face so red?"  "How come you're talking to yourself?" and my personal favorite, "Are you doing your exercise?"

Nope, just watchin' a show on the Ipad and felt like I needed to turn it into a full-body experience.

Michael has taken to talking about how many calories we're eating at every chance he gets, which is about as annoying as it sounds (we try not to make a big deal of it, and he doesn't have any idea that the calorie-counting is for anything beyond "Mom and Dad are trying to be healthier", but there is simply no way to get around the fact that we are weighing portions of our food at dinnertime).  He even asked his primary teacher if her refusal of a Dum Dum sucker meant she is counting her calories as well.

Son, there are a few things you should never ask a woman...

I really hate obsessing over food and talking about how much I am or am not exercising (seriously, this is me):

But I gotta say, I was really disappointed when I went to the dermatologist last week and he didn't ask me about my exercise habits.  I mean, I know he's a skin doctor and all, but this is the first time in my life I that I wouldn't have had to hem and haw and make a joke about doing half a lap around the gym back in 1999.

I've been exercising, dang it!  I want credit!

Actually, all I really want is more calories to eat.  Specifically calories of the Cadbury Creme Egg variety.  Which is pretty much the only reason I get on the treadmill.  Spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and you can eat two Cadbury Creme eggs!!  Wait... what?  Is that all?

I want my 30 minutes back.

But I'm trying to press on, even though last week I did have a bit of a breakdown after a terrible morning and ate 720 calories worth of sugar in like 5 minutes.  I texted David to tell him of my failure and he wrote back.

"I'm so sorry.  :(  Sounds good, thigh."

Oh, I get it.  Nice work on the subliminal messaging there, Autocorrect!

But you can be quiet now.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Words with Enemies

Last week, along with the rest of the internet, I wrote a post about Frozen.  I felt compelled to do so after reading a blog post by "Well Behaved Mormon Woman," Kathryn Skaggs, that made me want to stand up and start yelling to the world that Mormons are not all crazy people who wander around with some Haley Joel Osment-like ability to see gay people in the subtext of every Disney movie.

I disliked her post for many reasons -- I think her concerns were misguided and overblown, she came across as very paranoid and inconsistent (if you don't approve of a movie you shouldn't keep taking your grandkids to see it), and she managed to add a huge stack of dry wood to the "Mormons are crazy" fire (I hate it when people do that!).  But mostly it upset me because her post is going to be the means of building rifts, continuing deep misunderstandings, feeding misconceptions, and, for some, leading to despair.

And I honestly don't think that is what she meant to do, which is why I feel immensely sad for her. Having lived life for awhile now, I know that there are few things as soul-crushing as being misunderstood.

I have no idea what her intentions were or what good she hoped to achieve by her writing.  I have no idea what life experiences have colored the way she sees the world.  I don't know anything about her except that she claims to be a "well behaved Mormon woman."  But I do know that the vile and vitriolic way that people have responded to her blog post is unacceptable and needs to stop.

I understand that some issues (like homosexuality) are so personal and so painful that it is nearly impossible not to become defensive any time the conversation inches toward the chopping block.  Every time I read internet comments about fertility treatments, for example, I turn into this:

dear lord please grand me the power

But, I have to remind myself that these commenters don't know me.  They don't know or care what I've been through.  They don't know about my conversations with God, and they certainly don't know about His answers.  If I only see in these people what I'm looking for -- that they are a bunch of self-righteous jerks -- then I'm not really seeing them at all.

If it's ideas you are fighting against, you will never change hearts when you are using words meant to injure and demean.  Hateful words can never change hearts.  They can never inspire good.  They can never do anything but damage and destroy.  But kind words?  Compassionate words?  They soften.  They enlighten.  They help us understand and love each other in spite of our differences.

No matter what side of an argument you are on, no matter how right your ideas are, if you lace them with venom and hate, you are wrong.  Being right is important, yes.

But it is never more important than being kind.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Frozen in Hiding

You've probably heard by now that Disney's smash hit, Frozen, has a hidden agenda:  A Christian one.  No, wait... a "radical homosexual" one.  Oops, I mean an anti-feminist one (I admit, I did not have the attention span to get through that one).  Pretty much the only sense I've read about the messages contained in Frozen is this from Seth Adam Smith: that "good art has multiple meanings and interpretations" and whatever you choose to derive from what you see is just that -- a choice.

Well, here is what I choose to see in Frozen, and it's a little something that starts all the way back in the Garden of Eden.  You've heard the story before:  Satan convinces Eve to have a little afternoon snack from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam joins in the noshing, and pretty soon they find themselves buck naked in the middle of a huge garden with their Father calling after them.  So they do what any naked adult would do when the throw-together-an-apron-made-from-fig-leaves plan doesn't work:  They hide.

Only trouble is, fathers are pretty smart when it comes to their kids and don't need to see a hand in the cookie jar to know the source of all those crumbs around the lips.  So, after giving Adam and Eve the chance to explain themselves, God has it out with Satan, rolls out a list of consequences for his disobedient children (goodbye easy life), and then makes them more suitable clothing from the skins of an animal.

Considering that there was no death in the Garden of Eden up to this point, it's reasonable to surmise that these clothes were made from the skins of a sacrificial animal; that is, an animal that was sacrificed as a symbol of Christ's saving sacrifice for us.  Adam and Eve were then given clothes made from the skins of this animal, and as such, their nakedness was covered by a representation of the atonement of Christ.  (Interestingly, the Hebrew word for "atonement" is "kaphar," which literally means, "to cover").

So what does this have to do with Frozen?

Elsa was born with a power that is both great and terrible.  As a small child she explored and tested her ability to freeze the elements and make it snow, but, when her sister, Anna, is accidentally injured in their play, Elsa is hidden away and told to conceal the truth about herself at all costs.  She is left alone with a power she fears and does not know how to control, and which bursts out of her when she allows herself to feel any emotion.  "Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know..."

When the truth about her power is finally revealed, she runs away thinking that she can continue to hide, that she doesn't need anyone or anything, and that being on her own with no rules is the "freedom" she has longed for.  She has no idea of the frozen wasteland she left in her wake when her sister, Anna, comes to urge her out of hiding once again.

"You don't have to be afraid," Anna sings.  "We can work this out together.  We'll reverse the storm you've made."

Elsa is panicked.  "I can't!  I don't know how!"  Her emotions overtake her and Anna is gravely injured, her heart frozen.

In the end, Elsa and Anna are both saved when Anna sacrifices herself for her sister -- Anna because her frozen heart is thawed, and Elsa because she no longer has to hide herself or her power.  Because of the love of her sister, and because she stops hiding, she is finally able to control her power and the whole kingdom is blessed because of her.

Satan wants us to hide.  He wants us to conceal who we truly are.  He wants us to be ashamed of what we feel and what our struggles are.  He wants us to cut ourselves off, refuse help, and destroy ourselves from within.  "You can't tell people you are depressed," he whispers, "What will they think of you?"  "You can't tell people you have an addiction.  What will they say about you?"  "You can't tell people you are gay."  "You can't tell people you have a drinking problem."  "You can't tell anyone you are hurting."  Hide.  Hide.  Hide.

It was only because of the love of a sister and coming out of hiding that Elsa was able to learn to control her powers and experience real freedom.  And it is only because of the love of God and coming out of hiding that we are able to be fully covered by the atonement of Christ, as Adam and Eve were, and be made truly free.

What do I see in Frozen?  A message to stop hiding.  To let it go.

And let it be covered.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sanity, Where Art Thou?

Last week was not my week.  It started with someone puking (Matthew) and ended with someone puking (Leah).  I was not only late to the airport to pick up my niece and take her to an important life event (entering the MTC), I lost my car keys, credit card, and cell phone, all separately and within 5 minutes of each other RIGHT AFTER USING THEM and almost couldn't get out of the airport parking lot.  Matthew developed mysterious hives twice, Leah painted my new leather couch with glitter nail polish that I can't get off, Michael flooded the bathroom and broke my hair clippers in the middle of Saturday haircut night, and I found a peed-in pull-up in the lego bin.  Again.

But at least I have this picture to look at after new missionary, Katie, bequeathed this sparkly scarf and hat to my dress-up box.  Isn't he beautiful?

I'm serious - look at those eyelashes!  (Why is it always the boys who get the longest eyelashes?)

But, the good news is that, at the end of it all, my niece, Amy, came and (as part of her graduate studies in psychology) administered a 2.5 hour test to Michael which proved that he does, in fact, have an attention span longer than a flea's.  Who knew?  Plus, she brought me flowers, just in time to let David off the hook for Valentine's Day!  Now he can focus on more important things... like chocolate.

Except for that pesky fact that I'm not supposed to be eating chocolate.  At least not as much as I want to eat, anyway.  (Of course, if I ate as much as I wanted to eat I'd earn myself a guest-spot in the Macy's Parade as head balloon.  Which would be awesome, let's face it.  New York City?  Yes, please).

As it is I will just have to console myself by drinking this calorie-free, tasty-but-probably-liver-dissolving, peach-flavored Fresca and calling it a "treat."

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dumb as a Rock

According to a new survey, 1 in 10 women would refuse a marriage proposal if they didn't like the engagement ring.  This confirms what I have always suspected:  women are stupid.

Ha!  Okay, not all women are stupid.  But I really hate it when they act like selfish spoiled brats.

"Oh darling, I love you so much, but unless you are willing to go into extreme debt so I can show off to all of my friends, I won't marry you."

What in the world...?

When David and I were first thinking about tying the knot we were poor college students whose diet consisted mainly of Pasta-roni and grape Kool-Aid.  I told him I wanted a cubic zirconia and a washer and dryer.  Instead he used his tax return to buy me a beautiful diamond ring (isn't he a cute little accountant?).  Is it small?  Yes.  Is it perfect?  Yes.

You know what made it perfect?  The man who gave it to me.  He could have fashioned a ring out of aluminum foil and I would have treasured it.  Even if he didn't get down on bended knee to give it to me.

But according to the same survey, 1 in 5 women were disappointed with the way their future hubby proposed.  The reasons were all over the board:  He didn't do the one-knee thing, the proposal wasn't "special" enough, he didn't ask her father if he could ride off into the sunset with her, the ring wasn't big enough...  13% of these women were so disappointed by the lack of spectacular proposal that they wanted to cry.

You know what advice I would give to their future husbands?  Run.  Far away.

I understand that the events surrounding a marriage are something girls like to dream about from the time they discover a pillowcase makes a great wedding veil.  There is nothing wrong with having dreams.  But there is something wrong if your dreams are causing you to be constantly disappointed by the reality of the man who loves you.

So, adjust your expectations.  Appreciate what you have.  And if there is something that is incredibly important to you, tell your man about it.  (If I could get women to understand one thing about men it would be this:  THEY DO NOT READ MINDS).

If the perfect proposal is important to you, tell him.  If you want input on your engagement ring, tell him.  If you want him to ask your father for your hand in marriage, tell him.  You are not allowed to be disappointed if you have not told him what you want!  And as for a giant rock, if you think he should go into debt or spend all of his life savings to buy you a ring, you need to quit being so self-centered.  It's not about the ring, it's about the promise that goes with it.   Jewelry means nothing.

But the man you marry means everything.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Random Thoughts: Love Edition

Love is in the air, everywhere I look around.  Love is in the air, every sight and every sound...

Well, if by "love" John Paul Young means "vomit" and "everywhere" he means, well, everywhere, then yeah, that about covers it.  I really don't want to discuss the sights and sounds, though.  I've had quite enough of that, thank you.

Luckily, Matthew's three-day barfing streak appears to have come to an end.  Which is good, because I was getting really tired of the 3 a.m. laundry thing.

But seriously, what better way to say "I love you" than to spend three days cleaning up vomit and, um, that other-end thing that usually accompanies said stomach contents upending themselves on a regular basis?  Yeah, it's official.  I love the little guy.

Which brings me to this post:  Random thoughts about love.

But first, I have one other important thing I need to say:  I really hate the phrase, "You go, girl!"  Like, really.  I would be fine if no one said this to another woman, ever again.

Thank you.

Ahem... where was I?  Love.

Love is not an obsession.  It's not an intense attraction.  It's not tear-your-clothes-off passion. Thank you, Stephenie Meyer, for confusing a generation of young women about what it means to love someone.

Soooo tired of people saying, when it comes to love, "It just happened."  No it didn't.  You made it happen.  You chose to fall in love.  In the same vein, if you are no longer "in love," you chose that, too.

We watched Star Wars, Episode III last night.  Can anyone give me one good reason why Padme actually would have fallen for Anakin Skywalker?  What's that?  No one?  That's what I thought.

I'm convinced that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet as a cautionary tale and not as some epic romance.  Because otherwise he is the dumbest man who ever lived.

I heard a "love" song on the radio today.  It included the lyrics "I hate you, I really hate you, so much that it must be true love" and "You're an a**hole, but I love you."  If you're looking to analyze how relationships go south, I suggest starting with this song.

Pushing Daisies is one of the most romantic TV shows.  You know why?  Because the central love story involves two people who cannot (for reasons too complex to explain here) touch each other.  It's amazing how much more romantic it is (and how much stronger the connection is) when a man and woman actually have to develop a relationship instead of just hopping into bed and thinking that counts for something.  Also, the show features lots of pies.  Mmm... pie.

I like Valentine's Day.  There, I said it.  I know there are a lot of cranks out there who like to look down on people for buying into the Hallmark hype, but I think it's nice to set aside a day for the sole purpose of telling people we love them.

And as long as we're talking about Valentine's Day, Conversation Hearts are not worthy of consideration for the Food Pyramid.  I swear I once picked up a bag of the chatty candies that consisted of nothing but "Toilet Bowl Cleaner" flavor.

Godiva chocolate, on the other hand...

Speaking of love...