Life is Hard - How I Refused to Be Beat

This isn't a news flash to anyone - life is hard. We all face challenges, difficulties, unmet expectations, and even hurt and trauma because of other's actions. Sometimes the pain is agonizing and we wonder why it has to be so hard and hurt so much.

I look at the things others face and often wonder how they make it through. Or sometimes I see other people that never seem to face any challenges - but regardless of what I see I know everyone faces challenges - challenges that drive them to their knees, that wrench their heartstrings, and often cause them to feel as if they will break.

I've felt that before - my own unique challenges lately have made me want to just give up when it seemed even my strengths were working against me and causing me heartache and difficulty. I was feeling discouraged....disheartened....weary

It is amazing though what something inspiring can do. I listened to this talk - Christmas and Christ's Invitation to Become as a Little Child and it was as if the weight was lifted and my mind started churning how I would refuse to be beat.

Here are some keys my mind expanded on -

#1 - Become as a little child. Every other aspect I thought of tied to this and how being childlike would help me feel encouraged and strengthened...invincible almost

#2 - Childlike enthusiasm - be enthusiastic. Don't be afraid to be/get really excited. Too often it seems we learn to become afraid of being TOO excited because when we are excited and then things don't work out or we are disappointed - it often feels like a punch in the stomach. And we feel discouraged. But think of the joy - if it has been awhile - remember how being excited made you feel. Everything seemed brighter...expanded...beautiful. It makes me smile just thinking about how excited a child can get and how they just let that enthusiasm flow - it is a spectacular picture.

#3 - Childlike acceptance - enthusiasm comes easier for me but not acceptance and moving on from disappointment. I think of children like ducks - disappointment, embarrassment, insecurity just seem to roll off them like water off a ducks back. When they are disappointed because of something their were wholeheartedly enthusiastic about, they may pause for a moment - you may see a frown or a maybe a little tantrum even. But 5 minutes later they've moved on - on to the next possibility or something else they are enthusiastic about.

I think that I often experience that disappointment, embarrassment, heartache and then decide the only thing to do is plop down, frown, fold my arms, and say I guess I have to stay here. It is as if when those things happen I make and then accept that they are the most important emotions and should overshadow everything else....we get mired in the negative emotion - kind of depressing, right?

So let it just roll off you instead of rolling in it.

#4 - Childlike belief - Dare to believe things will work out - somehow - even if it isn't how you hoped. Children are excited about things even if it isn't exactly what they wanted. And they have this devoted belief in life and in people, which means they are disappointment but it doesn't keep them down. They are plucky and full of strength and courage.
We often let life beat this belief, pluck, strength and courage out of us and the world tells us it is foolish to believe so wholeheartedly because we are bound to be disappointed. So we wrap ourselves up to "protect" ourselves and in the process miss out on so many experiences that uplift, rejuvenate, create joy.
#5 - Childlike determination - I remember as a child wailing that it was "Too hard" but for most things children have this determination that puts adults to shame. They try often when the world would say not to, or that they can't. They try in their own personal way, which is how this innate part of us gets schooled out as society only recognizes certain efforts.
Remember that determination and drive
Remember not having the belief that you couldn't do it
Remember what you accomplished with that determination
#6 - Childlike imagination - Even the sky wasn't a limit as a child - money...time...connections... relationships...none of these things stopped us as children. We dreamed and often dreamed big - there was a whole world out there waiting to be explored and was filled with wonder and delight.
Now I know as an adult we have responsibilities that we don't have as children - but instead of running our responsibilities and given them only the amount of space they need in our lives - we let them take over our lives. 

Children really have a way of focusing on what matters most and so can we - we did it at one point. I love this video and how it shows us how to use that imagination to notice and take those moments that matter most.

I decided I want to try and live with childlike qualities - those qualities that help and allow me to live with joy but also weather the difficulties and disappointments.

I refused to be beat.
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"You Don't Belong Here!" Finding Love and Acceptance

Maybe it is when you walk into a room full of people and you don't know any of them. Awkward...out of place....alone. Or when you are sitting at home by yourself on a Friday or Saturday night and you think, "There is no one I can call. Why doesn't anyone call me?" Alone...sad...fearful. Sometimes the feelings are overwhelming or agonizing.

Most of us feel alone or that we don't belong at different times in our lives. Usually at recurring times, periods, or situations. We want to feel that we belong, that we matter to others, that we are loved for who we are. This is in fact a need - this desire for love and belonging - Psychologist Abraham Maslow stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. In research Maslow created what is called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. After Physiological and Safety and Security needs we all have Love and Belonging needs.
No wonder we all struggle at times since this is a universal need for all of us. I've spent a lot of time over the past I don't know how many years, thinking about love and belonging. I've had too many days and times where I haven't felt loved or that I belonged and it is hard and a struggle to feel that way. Why can't people just act and treat me so I feel loved and that I belong?!
I've been fooled for quite some time. I studied needs for a long time and carefully examined and worked to understand my own needs - what they are, how to express them, how to ask for what I need, etc. So I've felt volatile when it just hasn't seemed to help me have that need filled.

But the
finally came on.
No one else can cause me to feel that I belong or even that I'm loved if I don't feel that way myself. If I walk into a room and think and really feel it then I feel I belong there. I have something to contribute and offer to this gathering and I have value then regardless of how anyone acts I still feel like I belong.
We cannot look for belonging and love outside ourselves. It is generated from within and then we feel it from without. Because if I don't feel that within, regardless of others actions I can always see or find ways that will "tell" me that I don't belong or why they don't love me.
It is like someone writing a story and we want to be part of the story so we ask them to write us in. But it isn't our story so we will never fully feel that we belong. We wander around feeling vulnerable and constantly want reassurance that they want us in the story but despite what they say we continue to feel foreign. Those aren't my trees, my world, my people - I don't fit here.

But when I tell my story it really is mine.

This weekend I realized the best and loudest voice that makes a difference?


The things I tell myself and the validation I give to myself make a bigger effect and have longer lasting results than anything else someone tells me.  

I was feeling sad about a couple things that happened this past weekend - feeling like I was unimportant and didn't matter, etc, etc. Usually at this point I would start to get down on myself and the voice in my head would start saying not so nice of things to myself. And I would feel worse and worse about the situation. Then I would want someone else to tell me that I mattered, was loved and so forth.

But you know - people aren't just sitting by their phones waiting to be able to validate you :P So it either wouldn't happen or they would say things but it didn't feel like enough because


So this time I did something different (I've been working on what my last blogpost was about - if you missed it here it is I've Been Robbed!! ) when I was started feeling all those emotions and essentially was at that crossroad of heading down the "I don't belong or don't matter road" or experiencing my emotion but feeling validated I chose the latter road.

I took some time to talk to myself. I let myself know it was ok that I was feeling sad - I had a reason to feel sad. Then I gave myself a little internal hug. I could feel myself wanting to feel angry about being sad but I knew that was just a response to protect myself. So I told myself why I mattered to me. That I was important to me - that it would be alright even if it didn't feel alright at the moment. Then each time throughout the day when I would start feeling that same response when I would think of something or something else happened I did the same thing.

This may sound odd but not any odder then when we allow that mean and harsh voice to take over and run roughshod over our feelings and love we have for ourselves.


It made the biggest difference. I was still sad but I wasn't sad about myself. I knew I mattered because I mattered to ME.

Take that time to let yourself know you matter. Let the voice when you are sad or hurt be what you would tell other people if they came to you and were hurting. We would never tell others the things we allow us to tell ourselves. Because YOU belong and matter when YOU tell yourself that you do.
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I've Been Robbed!!

Have you ever been sitting and watching someone else play a video game....and they keep dying or getting stuck over and over until you just want to GRAB the controller and do it for them? You think, "Oh my goodness!! It isn't that hard! I could do it so easily so just give it me!?"
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the saying of what the definition of insanity is - Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It would more accurately be defined as the definition of human nature. It is so much easier to expect outside things to change so we don't have to -  then we get frustrated when it doesn't. Or we may have great intentions to change - we can see we need to do something differently in order to get results we want. But then....a situation happens and we fall right back into repeating the same actions that just earlier we were determined to change. It is a struggle to not let outside actions, situations, circumstances to dictate how we respond and act.
Too often change feels like a cruel hoax - if I work hard enough or simply want it bad enough it will happen. Or if I just keep doing the same thing, something else or someone else will change and then it will be perfect.
But then it doesn't happen.
So we run around yelling that we've been robbed. If someone just gave us the dang controller, it would all be better!!
Lets focus on relationships now as they are what has been the catalyst for me thinking about change. Any healthy relationship requires consistent thought and willingness to change. I'm not sure where the adage came from the a good relationship means I never have to change - the other person will simply accept me as I am and THAT is true love.
But that is only applicable with a Yes and No - going into a relationship with the expectation you will change the other person is a recipe for disaster. There are very few of us as people that enjoy that or will actually change in accordance. Too often we hold onto the fallacy that when the OTHER person changes THEN I will change. But change is necessary in every relationship.
A healthy relationship requires an ACTIVE desire by both people to change THEMSELVES to make things betters. It is very rare (so best not to think of yourself as the exception) that two people interact and can merge their lives together without adjustment and change on both sides. And it isn't that within the first couple of years of marriage you will have figured out your spouse or partner perfectly and so now you can abandon that active desire. Because life is never consistent and you will constantly face new obstacles and situations, you will see different and more complete views of your partner as life happens. Thus, there is a consistent need for change and adaptation.
What does and ACTIVE desire look like? How are you actively seeking to strengthen your relationships - whether friendships, marriage, family, etc?
Some thoughts on those questions -
* Be honest with yourself. What are some things you are doing that adversely affect the other person in the relationship? What can you do to change them? Don't fall into the trap of thinking of a list of things the other person needs to change FIRST.
The ONLY person you have control over to change is yourself!
*Actively seek to anticipate the needs of the other person. This will contribute to you being able to ACT instead of REACT to situations and interactions.
*Time is your friend. Change takes time. Relationships take time. Give you and the other person the space needed to make change, to work on being growing, etc.
*Impatience is your enemy. I feel like I know this better than anyone. I like to get things done and get them done NOW. So I don't wait very well which has led to alot of frustration and reacting instead of acting.
*Acting sometimes means waiting. LOLOL! Seems counter intuitive? I promise it isn't. Sometimes the best thing you can do for now is to set something to the side and leave. Or allow someone else the space to respond. Doesn't mean you completely stop moving forward or actively seeking - it just means in that one thing you do.
Relationships matter. Some of your most fulfilling times in life will come because of relationships. Be willing to give them the time and effort they deserve. Don't just grab the controller :)
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Women and the Priesthood - "Down With The Status Quo?!"

It makes a lot of people uncomfortable when I say I'm a feminist - often almost immediately I'm classified a certain way just by saying that term. And I have studied a lot about feminism - both world and religious specifically in regards to LDS Women. I've read about every book out there by "LDS" Feminists. In my undergrad I took a philosophy class that focused specifically on feminism. When I told friends and family I was taking that class the most common response was shock and questions like, "Are you leaving the Church?!"

It ended up being however one of my most favorite classes of my entire undergrad. I even did an entire undergraduate research paper and presentation at a national level on feminism.

So guess what??

I don't let the term 'feminism' define me except in the way I choose. The underlying definition of feminism is - "a belief or understanding of women." So I sure hope all of us are feminists. The feminism class and my subsequent research for both my research project and ultimately my book simply did one thing for me - it helped me to solidify and create a concrete foundation of what I believe it is to be a woman and my perception of my role, responsibilities and capabilities.

Now why do I tell you all of this?

For a couple of reasons but the main one is a foundation for what I say next.

I've heard a bit and done my own research about the Ordain Women movement. If you want, take a minute to check out their website -   They are very respectful and not hateful at all. I think knowledge is most often power so don't be afraid of reading what they have to say - decide for yourself what you believe with no animosity for what they believe. Just because they believe differently doesn't mean your beliefs need to be threatened if you feel secure in what you feel, believe and have come to know for yourself.

But now this is my blog so yep I'm going to tell you my opinion and belief about the whole women and the priesthood, ordination, and a little bit of feminism in general :)

One of the things that is most difficult for me to hear/swallow in the feminism debate but specifically within the LDS sphere is the comment that those of us who are not "fighting the status quo" are only not doing so because either A: We are mindless sheep, B: We aren't able to form our own opinions, C: We OBVIOUSLY haven't thought about the issue enough, or D: We are afraid to go against the grain. I take issue with this because I am happy with the "status quo" - or women's position, role and place in the LDS Church, but I have thought about it deeply. I have researched heavily. I have read articles after article with a number of arguments and points. I have my own strongly held opinions and beliefs.

So why am I "ok" with the "status quo?"

I've come to recognize and interesting phenomenon within the church in the last few years. Let me use an example - say the gospel as a whole is a pie - a whole wonderful pie (mmm I really love pie). The pie is made up of a number of different slices - all still part of the same pie but also separate to a certain degree, though the slice itself wouldn't exist without the full pie and has to be "influenced" or connected to the rest of the pie to exist.

What seems to happen is that with the different "slices" of the gospel is too often we try and take a piece out of the pie and act as if it is the whole pie - existing independently of the rest of the pie and forgetting that it is insuperably connected to the rest of the pie and relies on the rest of the pie. For the sake of clarity and understanding I'm including a portion from the Ordain Women FAQ:

"Despite their gifts, talents, and aspirations, women are excluded from almost all positions of clerical, fiscal, ritual, and decision-making authority.

While women perform significant service in the Church’s auxiliaries, such as the Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, and Young Women’s organizations, their contributions are always mediated and under the direction of male priesthood leaders. According to the Church’s Gospel Principles manual, “Men use priesthood authority to preside in the Church. . . . Women who hold positions in the Church . . . work under the direction of the priesthood.” As such, Mormon women have many delegated responsibilities but lack the authority to define and oversee those responsibilities.

This lack of female authority does not stop at the church doors. The Church’s Proclamation on the Family declares that men preside over their wives and families, thus preserving an antiquated and unequal model in both the domestic and ecclesiastical realms.

While many thoughtful men in priesthood leadership positions make decisions that include input from women, the male governing structure of the Church means that women’s voices are inevitably left out, overlooked, and discounted.

Since leadership and positional authority in Mormonism is inextricably tied to priesthood ordination, it is clear that Mormon women must be ordained in order to be full and equal participants in their Church."

So lets take a step back - if we look at the entire picture and foundational principles of the gospel why are we on this earth? To be tested, experience things we couldn't without a physical body, come to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and through the Savior become perfected to return to live with Heavenly Father again.

Am I denied any of these things by not holding the priesthood?


I am definitely tested enough without holding the priesthood myself, thank you very much :P

I am experiencing life by having a physical body and again I'm experiencing plenty as is - even decision making, responsibility and plenty of opportunity to make decisions. If you've ever been involved in a Ward Council, when functioning as it should there are plenty of decisions made by the women that are part of the counsel.

Lastly, I can definitely and work on daily developing a deeper relationship with my Savior and Heavenly Father. I do that through prayer, scripture study, church attendance, temple attendance and just striving to know His will. And I do all of it without holding the priesthood and none of those things are inhibited by me not holding the priesthood.

The Atonement also applies to me as fully as anyone else - man or woman. Thankfully, all I have to do is strive to repent and I can be forgiven regardless of the calling I hold or that I don't hold the priesthood personally.

Lastly, I can be a full and equal participant in the Church. Does it mean I will have the same responsibilities or opportunities and anyone else in the church? No but that is applicable to both men and women. The wonderful thing about the church is we are each given different opportunities, blessings and responsibilities - why do we create this false dichotomy and say one is better than another. The church organization is a horizontal line not a vertical one - there are no ladders to climb because it isn't about where we serve in the Church - we can still accomplish what the Lord would have us PERSONALLY do and learn with the callings, responsibilities and opportunities that come to us personally.

Thus, the opinion I've gained for myself is that when I look at the ENTIRE pie - the Church structure doesn't need to be different. I feel it is as the Lord would have it be and that I'm denied nothing as it is currently.

So why am I ok with the "status quo?"

Because it doesn't really matter in the eternal scheme of things - I can still gain exaltation!

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How Online Dating Ruined My Life

Yes I've done online dating. In fact quite a bit of it. It hasn't really ruined my life but it is like a blind date on steroids :) In the process of doing online date on and off for probably 6 years or so I've had alot of "interesting" experiences but never more than in the past 8 months or so. A number of people have told me recently to "write them down!" so here they are for your enjoyment and perhaps horror. 
This is a great synopsis of what online dating is like for me....
minus the drinking....
and usually the swearing :)
*To protect the identity of all victims aliases will be used*
*And if you should read this and find yourself the subject of a story
don't be offended :D*

So all of these experiences have happened within THIS year, which is crazy :) I've had more crazy online dating stories in this year than my whole online dating experience!! So for your wincing, cringing, shuddering delight and to encourage you to try online dating (only if you are single of course) here you go! (These are only in numbered order not level of craziness or weirdness :P)
#1 - The first one I will start with is the felon - yes, he really was a felon. Now before anyone jumps on me for "stereotyping" or not giving someone a chance, just hold on while I tell the story. We had messaged and texted before meeting the first time. We met at a restaurant for dinner. The conversation was pleasant and he knew how to ask questions and also to listen and to answer questions - this always gives a guy points in my book because you would be surprised how hard this seems to be for a number of people. The date was pleasant enough that I agreed to a second date.
BUT he wanted to pick me up this time - which I'm always cautious of because then they know where I live. So I decided to just do a quick google search to see what I found. Much to my surprise the only results were his MUG SHOT!! Not quite what I expected to find. So I tried to find out what he had been arrested for but it didn't say. So I didn't jump to conclusions, I text him to ask him.
I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and to find out what had happened. But he got all defensive and angry at me and chastised me for asking. Needless to say I met up with him at another restaurant later because he wanted to explain things and then he told me he had been charged and convicted 2 times for embezzlement and the one for the mug shot was for forgery. I didn't feel good about him at this point so I thanked him and moved on.
#2 - Shortly after the Felon we have the Fetish dude. These two occurred within a week of each other. Again we had messaged and texted and then he wanted to call since he lived up north and meeting right off would have taken some coordination. I agree to talk on the phone and he called me. We had a very pleasant and interesting conversation for a good amount of time - then he said - "Do you know what I've always wanted to do?"
Thinking nothing of it I said - "What?"
He responded - "Shave a girl's legs."
Um ok...not what you expect someone to usually say. So I was like alright and then conversation seemed to move on.
Then at the end of our conversation he was trying to get me to come up to his town to get together. I firmly declined because I know no one there and am not at all familiar with the city so that is a little scary for meeting someone for the first time. So I encouraged him to come to Provo instead. To which he said -
"Ok I'll do that. And after you show the sights of Provo, we can go back to your place, cuddle in your bedroom (What?!?) AND...............................
then I will shave your legs!"
What the!! I'm not usually speechless.
Lets just say I was pretty close at that point. And the conversation didn't last much longer at that point.
Maybe he doesn't have a fetish - but it kind of seemed like it. *SHUDDER*
#3 - Then there was the time a guy asked me to be his Baby Mama - yep, you read that right. He sent me a generic, "How are you message" to which I replied.
His next message said and I quote - "Well I believe honesty is the best policy... I'm looking for someone to have a baby with, I want a family so bad! My family tree ends with me so continuing the line after me is very important r u interested?"
#4 - Then there was a guy that thankfully I only corresponded on messenger with. He began the conversation with, "Do you believe in a male dominated household" To which I replied - "I think the Proclamation to the World says it best that a husband and wife should be partners." He responded, "Well the wife can express her opinion but the husband makes all the decisions." I said, "Well I feel like it should be a partnership." And he said, "Not if you are a member of the Church! You need to go read your scriptures because the husband is supposed to make all the decisions."
Thankfully he ended the conversation there - I wasn't being enough of a rug for him :P
#5 - Last but not least happened recently. I had been messaging and even talked to him on the phone a number of times. Both of those had gone well. When we first started corresponding he was living in NJ but already had a plan to move to UT. So after he did, he wanted to get together and wanted me to give him a tour of SLC :) I figured it was a date
But I was wrong
We got to the Red Butte Gardens in SLC and he stepped up to the counter and to the ladies enquiry whether he was paying double or single he said, holding up one finger," Single....yeah single."
Then for the next 5 hours he talked
And talked
And talked
and then talked some more. And not light stuff - doctrinal stuff, and stuff you had to think about to absorb.
I tried to enjoy the gardens because I love things like that. But any time it appeared I was enraptured by what he was saying, he would say, "Is everything ok?"
I had a number of places to show him but after 5 hours I was so mentally exhausted, I skipped the last one and was never so happy in my life that I had driven.
Lets just say I can do awkward now much more easily and have learned better how to just be pleasant regardless of the situation. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

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Not What I Thought

Life has a way of changing your perspective - if you let it. It can be too easy sometimes to stubbornly cling to our current perspectives. But I have found we miss out on opportunities to learn, grow and gain empathy for others when we will allow life to help us adjust our perspectives. The interesting thing about our own personal perspectives is that they are always valid but not always right. Meaning the perspective we have is an accumulation of our experiences, beliefs, interactions, etc. so they way we view something is valid - but it isn't always right meaning it isn't the only way to look at things or is THE one way something happened.

Others perceptions are rarely the same as our own. Too often we let ourselves feel though that when someone's perspective is different it somehow either lessens the value of our perception or puts them in competition for whose perception is "right." The great thing about perception is that I can come to an understanding of someone's perspective, but not agree with it. But I really can only come to that understanding if I seek to understand and learn how they came to that perspective. Which means I need to listen, ask question and have a desire to understand and not feel threatened when their perspective is different than mine.

So here are a couple things to maybe give a little thought to that I've been taught about perspective lately.

#1 - Other people are rarely as concerned or aware of you and what you are doing as you think or as you are of yourself :) This has applied to me a lot recently when I make mistakes. I am the Sacrament Meeting chorister for my ward. So I stand in front of the whole ward each Sunday for a little bit of time and wave my arm around. I am by no means even close to professional when it comes to leading music. I read and understand music, rhythm, etc. but that doesn't translate to always leading well. It is interesting though that people don't even notice when I mess up - part of this is because a lot of people never look at the chorister. But it also has to do with the fact they don't usually even notice, even when looking at me. And I've realized that smiling about it and laughing makes it so much better and so even if someone mentions it to me, I can just laugh about it because I already have.

This applies to mistakes in general in life. When we can laugh kindly at ourselves and recognize our own fallibility and mortality, it makes life a lot happier. And while my perspective may be that everyone noticed and is judging me, that is rarely the case.

#2 - Sometimes we get so stuck in what is "supposed" to make us happy we forget to notice or even seek for things that REALLY contribute to us feeling joy and happiness. I think of President Uchtdorf's talk about things that matter most and how a lot of the time those things are small things - things we often overlook. I have a friend that almost every time she sees flowers, she will stop and smell them. When I went to San Diego, we saw lots of flowers and without even really thinking about it stopped to smell a lot of them. Many weren't particularly fragrant but there is something happy in just doing it. It brings a smile to my face every time. While on vacation, we went to all the "popular" spots and after the trip I realized the parts of the trip I loved the most had nothing to do with visiting those places.

I loved when we hiked down a cliff to the beach at sunset and while I complained that I was going to die while doing it, I was grateful my friend was patient and didn't get mad at me for my complaining and just encourage me as I made my way down. And it was so worth it when we got to the bottom and just walked around in the sand and ocean and looked at the beauty surrounding us.

Another "small moment" is when we were riding in our bikes and passed a house that looked like the White Rabbit's house from Alice in Wonderland. We stopped and took a picture and it just made me smile and laugh.

Or when I finally saw the San Diego temple in person. I've always loved how that temple looked and it was just great to see it in person and just walk around and appreciate the beauty. It also made me grateful and felt joy as I thought about how much I've come to love the Provo Temple including how it looks because I attend there the most often and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

#3 - Giving people the benefit of the doubt makes everything better for yourself and helps you feel more joy. Maybe most of you don't have such a problem with this like I do. But I have to work on it constantly. For whatever reason, I often question people's motives and don't usually think they could be positive. But I've worked really hard on this lately and it makes such a different in my perspective of other people but also of myself. It is quite amazing.

#4 - Don't be afraid to hear and look at other people's perspectives. Learn where they have come from and how they got to where they are. You will learn about them and yourself! And I promise it will help you understand them better.

Lastly here are just a few of my favorite pictures from San Diego!


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Dedication to Kathy

My dear friend Kathy passed away last Friday morning at 10 am. She is one of the people in my life that has most influential and because of that I wanted to dedicate this blogpost to her and express a few of my feelings as well as some stories and memories I'm blessed to have.

I had been working at McDonalds for probably about 2 years before Kathy started working there. Kathy just had this general optimism and enthusiasm for life and for working at McDonalds that I will never forget and influenced me from the start. She had this way of making you feel like you mattered - to the world and to her and she was ALWAYS kind and had a kind word for everyone. Even talking to her years later about some of the employees that had worked there, she knew things about them that I had been clueless about simply because she cared enough to ask and pay attention to what was going on in their lives.

And I know she did that for me. One of the most significant memories I have with Kathy is there was a time I was contemplating and had made a decision I was conflicted about. Kathy didn't know anything about the situation but could tell something was wrong so she asked me about it. We then sat for a couple of hours in my car in the McDonalds parking lot as I told her all about what had happened and the direction I had decided to go. She listened and didn't reprimand me or scold me. She made me feel like she cared about me more than any decision I was making or the direction I might be going. As we parted ways that night I felt supported like I never had before.

A couple days later, Kathy gave me a letter. She didn't tell me what the letter was about but just asked I read it all the way through. I sat down and read the letter. In the letter she expressed her love and support but showed some "tough love." She was blunt and expressive as she asked me to really think about my decision and some of the things I had told her on that night. 4 pages later I was in tears and felt angry. But after just a little time I thought deeply about what Kathy had said in the letter and the way she had treated me and supported me and knew that above all else she cared about me and would only say what she did out of love.

Her letter changed my direction and ultimately my life and I can't imagine who or where I would be without her and the love and support she showed me during that time but always. This was a turning point in my life and my friendship with Kathy. I think from that point on our friendship was cemented in a way that cannot really be expressed. I never doubted that Kathy loved and cared about me but would tell me what I needed to hear sometimes.

Another memory I have is the last time I saw Kathy. One of the hardest things for me about her passing is how long it had been since I last saw her and that I never got to say goodbye. I do know I will see her again as long as I endure well because I know she did! But about a year ago or so she was having treatments up at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake and needed someone to ride with her to make sure everything was ok or if there were problems that she could get home. I was honored she called me and so grateful for that experience especially now that it will be my last memory of her. That visit had been a bit since the visit before that so we had plenty of catching up to do. On the drive up she told me about what was going on with all her kids (she would always make sure to tell me how they all were and what was going on for them, so I often feel I know them very well though we've probably only met a few different times over the years). She also listened as I caught her up on my life and expressed some of my frustration about the direction my life had gone and the challenges it was presenting that I hadn't expected to face. And even though her challenges were so much larger than mine she still showed me such great empathy and never complained about the difficulties she had faced and continued to face. And one of the things the visit showed me that no matter how much time had passed, it hadn't lessened our friendship. That was reiterated to me when Kathy went back for the procedure and her talk with her Dr. she asked me to come back with her. It touched my heart then and still to this day makes me tear up as I think about how she always just showed I mattered to her and was a part of her life even when I didn't see her often.

On a lighter note I have many, many happy memories with Kathy as no one could laugh or joke quite like Kathy. Kathy was on the one that taught me how to golf and one of my favorite things to do with her was go golfing. We golfed the Delta golf course many, many times and loved it. I remember one of the first times she was showing me how to golf she said - "Well holding the club with be a little different for you because I have such a large chest." She then demonstrated how she had to turn her arms out a little to accommodate. I remember laughing so hard with her about it. Another time we were golfing down in Delta and Kathy bought a golf ball that had a nice picture on it as a souvenir to give to Sanjiv the McDonalds store owner at the time. We went out and began golfing - sadly I wasn't doing too well and we lost a number of balls until the only one left for Kathy to use was the one she bought for Sanjiv. She figured it would be ok and a little more "authentic" if it had grass stains on it! So she set it on the ground and made her swing - however she was standing next to a pond on the course and the ball made a nice arch to the side right into the water!! Sanjiv never got a golf ball from Delta! :P

One of my favorite things about Kathy is she never felt there needed to be a distinction in events she would include me in. I was invited numerous times to "family" events or events she was attending with her family. I will forever be grateful to Kathy for making me feel so valued and included. I got to go to the Delta demolition derby, to a all night walk they did for cancer survivors, to the State Wrestles and so many other events.

Another of my favorite memories is when Kathy and I took a weekend trip down to St. George. We sat by the pool, went shopping, ate dinner with Tiauna and went golfing. It was a great time and I remember while we were golfing, apparently we were "too slow" for those golfing behind us so we kept having to let everyone "play through." But we had a great time and played around driving the golf cart.

Kathy was one of those people you can never forget because they hold such a large piece of your heart. Though I know I will see her again I will miss her until then. The world lost a great light. I'm grateful for the memories I have of Kathy and the knowledge I have that I will get to see her again. I'm happy for her that she doesn't have to suffer anymore - 10 years is a long time to battle with such a significant disease and Kathy remained happy, pleasant and optimistic throughout. She is an example to us all! I love you Kathy!
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Challenge Accepted

This my friend Anne

(look at those GUNS!! You don't want to mess with Anne!) Which is the reason when she challenged me to write about her blog on MY blog I figured I better do it!

I've never actually read Anne's blog or even seen it but I add my recommendation that the writing is superb - namely it can't be beat. The flow of the writing is like a raging river ready to sweep you away if you aren't careful and step in unawares. Sometimes the words pound you and you fear for your life. And don't get me started on the pictures! Definitely worth at least a couple of words. Everyone should feel like this about Anne's blog -

and ask her about it TODAY! You don't want to miss out - I know I am but I haven't been considered worthy enough yet to read it. I'm hoping after she sees this (and a bit of groveling) I can finally be granted access. It will be a day to remember (I think I might even write about it in my JOURNAL!!).

So if you don't want this to happen to you -

or have Anne use this on you-
Ask her about her blog today and avoid a sure and painful death!
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Power of Language

Language is so fascinating - it is one of the reasons I majored in English and why I loved critical theory. Most people don't think very deeply about how they use language and even how language uses them (read Life of Pi and come talk to me and I will show you how language used you :P). Back in my undergrad I took a class on madness in literature - it was one of the most interesting classes I took my entire undergrad career and I took a lot of classes. That class in combination with a class I took called the Philosophy of Language forever changed how I view language.

But I've been thinking about the power of language alot since I read an article yesterday - that illustrates very clearly the power language has and how it affects how we view, conceptualize and even ultimately FEEL about things. With all words, the society we live in tends to assign meaning to words - cat only means that smallish furry creature we call cat because our society has designated that words means cat. The animal itself is not an inherent part of that word. The difficulty with this is that when you assign or accept a societal definition of a word you accept all the meaning that has been assigned to that word. Take the word 'pure' for example as discussed in the above article - many of us have taken on the common definition that pure means without contamination and that once something is contaminated it cannot become uncontaminated. And because of the contamination the inherent value becomes less.

I know this mindset and acceptance of this definition persists in the LDS culture we live in when I worked and interacted with victims of rape in Utah County. Rape is still associated with a loss of chastity and a loss of chastity with contamination. This effects how people view victims of rape but also how rape victims feel about themselves - Elizabeth Smart talked about this how one of the reasons she didn't try to escape - she felt as if she were worthless now and that no one would want her anymore including her family and/or a future spouse. Imagine how debilitating that thought process is and how one of the foundational reasons is language and the accepted definitions we have for a word like 'pure.'

I also have thought about the words 'gay', 'lesbian' or 'same-sex-attraction' and the meaning and definition in the LDS culture specifically and the power those words have been given. One of the most interesting things I've thought alot about in regards to these words is how people have come to be defined mainly by what we term their sexual orientation. Suddenly that word is the biggest defining term about them? And in this I think 'attraction' is a word that should require a bit of examination as to what society has done with that word. The societal definition and meaning of 'attraction' has become almost entirely sexual - if I'm attracted to someone it means I'm attracted sexually. But there are many types of attraction and some have nothing to do with a sexual attraction. I think because of this alot of what is termed 'same-sex-attraction' has nothing to do with sex or sexuality.

I personally am more attracted emotionally to women - and as some of you read that last line you probably feel a strong negative reaction. Why? Because most of us accept the definition for attraction means something sexual. However, attraction is a feeling of connection or being drawn to something or someone. So since I find it easy initially to connect with other women emotionally then I would feel a connection or be drawn to women emotionally before men. This shouldn't be surprising - it has been proven many times over that women need other women and that most often that is because of the ability of women to connect emotionally with other women. Men (for the most part) don't function the same emotionally as women.

It has often been a confusing journey to understand this about myself because of the definition and meaning that society has given the word 'attraction.' It has been forgotten or no longer considered that a big reason we build friendships or friendships happen with certain people and not others is because of attraction - we are attracted to some people or have a greater ability to connect with some people vs. others. This has been lost in the whole 'same-sex-attraction' definition.

One quick sidebar - that doesn't mean I'm ignoring or trying to marginalize in any way that there are numerous people of both genders that are attracted sexually to those of the same gender. I'm just stating that I think some of the time that isn't what is happening but people move that direction because they accept the overarching definition and meaning society has placed on that word.

Ultimately, one reasons I loved my English classes the focused on critical theory was because they focused on helping us to identify and understand that language is a structure and that as I said above - the meaning and definitions we accept for words affect how we think, respond and FEEL about situation we encounter and experience. There are numerous things in this world that could be changed for the positive if we examined, understood and worked to change what definitions we give power in our life.

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What I Learned From Being A Menace To Society

In all fairness I do have to say that the "menace to society" quote attributed to Brigham Young cannot actually be found anywhere and so he may not have even said it :P But even if it is one of the "Mormon Myths" I still find it funny, and being a LDS woman who is 31 and unmarried if that quote was real I imagine it would be applied to me in some way :P

Regardless, my YSA years have taught me ALOT and I wanted to share some of those things. So lets have a list - we all love lists, right? :P

#1 - People are more important than things
A few weeks ago in fast and testimony meeting my RS President actually said this and I realized how strongly I agreed with her and realized that my single years have helped me to really understand this. What brings us the most lasting happiness, helps us to learn and grow, and ultimately become more Christ-like is our interactions and how we treat other people. It isn't the activities we necessarily participate in (obviously activities we do can teach us things and activities we participate in can affect our ability to have the companionship of the spirit, etc.) but the interactions with people in those activities and as we try and decide how we will spend out time. And because everyone is different, every single person will push us and challenge us in different ways and can help us grow and become better.

#2 - Give people the benefit of the doubt
Elder Holland said it well - "Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love. Assume the good and doubt the bad." This has been a struggle for me - I'm a very black and white person so when I could see it wasn't for Reason 'A' it was just natural to assume it HAD to be for Reason 'B'. A good friend has helped me to be able to focus on the good and to give people the benefit of the doubt especially those I care about. In any relationship if I look for the bad I will find it - ALWAYS. You can always find what you are looking for. So now I say to myself - what do I know about this person? What are some of the happy times and times that show me this person cares and wouldn't be doing anything purposefully to be hurtful in anyway. Helps me not to jump to Reason 'B', which can I tell you has made things alot better. Just a caveat though - I worked with domestic violence for over 3 years, so in saying "look for the good" that never means to discount or ignore abusive behavior.

#3 - Everyone has hidden hurts and struggles with something that seems to much to bear
This has been a big one for me to really learn and understand. It is amazing how really struggling yourself makes you more aware that even though you don't see it or ever even talk about it with someone that EVERYONE has those things they've experienced that have stretched, hurt, and been the cause of many tears just like I have. Makes me want to be more kind to others, but also more available to reach out to others. I've also realized some people are REALLY good and putting on a front that everything is perfect. I in  no way criticize people that are able to do this - I say it because it was easy in the past to think that they had no problems and their life was easy. That is never the case - everyone has struggles and though their struggles may be something that comes easy to me, it doesn't mean it isn't a struggle to them.

#4 - When you hurt, don't be afraid to cry
Life isn't easy and sometimes it really hurts - I HATE to cry as much as anyone but I've realized how important crying is and that when I hurt it is a GOOD time to cry and helps me to feel better. And I've realized in general that I do value all the emotions that I'm able to experience even hurt and sadness because I've realized that if I hurt or am sad it means I've invested in someone or something and I think that is so important. Especially investing in people, which often is the source of alot of pain, is also one of the greatest sources of happiness. So don't be afraid to cry when life hurts!

#5 - The Lord never gives us more than we can bear
And last but not least I've learned this even though it has been a hard lesson. I pray to grow and become better - in fact this is something I pray for everyday. Sometimes I laugh at myself when I'm really struggling and think - "Why do I pray for that!?!" Life is SO hard. But I have learned so much in those times and years of struggle and everytime I've made it through with the Lord's help. I feel like I've been stretched and stretched and stretched until I'm going to break and have no more stretch but when the next pull comes, as I turn to the Lord and plead for His help, somehow there is just a little more stretch for that moment. And then when it is all done I can look back and see a different persepctive because of what I've experienced. Hilary Weeks did a song in her last album that sums this up perfectly -
So while I would love to be married and have wanted it for a long time, I know the Lord knows me perfectly and knows the experiences I need to become the best I can. And I wouldn't trade the things I've learned!
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Beating A Dead Horse

I know alot has been said in the past few weeks about equality and same-sex marriage. I've read ALOT of posts with different perspectives and have been mulling in my mind what I felt I had to contribute to the conversation. As you see I didn't jump in very quickly to offer my two cents - and perhaps the horse is dead but I feel I have something to add. I have thought ALOT about these topics and while I have very strong opinions and beliefs, I also have a strong love and/or strive for that love for all people regardless of differing beliefs. So my disagreement with choices and others beliefs does not mean I do not care about them as people - but I feel it is important for me to express what I believe and speak out for what I see as wrong BEHAVIOR.

Lets start with same-sex marriage and why they Church is asking members to stand against it. There are alot of reasons and many different points and perspectives shared. But the other morning I thought of one of my all-time FAVORITE talks/trainings I've heard. And it was Sister Beck's training done with Institute and Seminary teachers a few summers ago. It was POWERFUL and was such a tool in shaping and strengthening my testimony of the family. I recommend everyone read the training that hasn't but I wanted to focus on just one statement she said that blew me away at the time and I've never forgotten.

She said - Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. They need to know that if it’s antifamily, it’s anti-Christ. An anti-Christ is antifamily.

This is one of the biggest reasons the Church is against same-sex marriage. Before anyone freaks out too much, give me a chance to explain :)

First - Yes in Church doctrine same-sex marriage is anti-family. As the Family: A Proclamation states, marriage is ordained between a man and woman. This isn't because it was a societal norm at one time, or even that there is research out there that shows kids do better in a home with a father and mother. But because the doctrine of the family and an underlying doctrine of the entire plan of salvation is that after this life we will live eternally as families, becoming Gods and Goddesses who create their own worlds and offspring. Last time I checked the only way for two people to procreate is when it is a man and a woman. I think sometimes we forget what the eternal plan is, which is why the Church stands firm on this issue.

So why is anti-family, anti-Christ. Well lets break down the role of the Savior. He came to this earth to live, set the example, serve those around Him and ultimately perform the Atonement so we can all gain salvation and exaltation. Exaltation is about eternal families and about what I mentioned above. So when we fight for a doctrine that is anti-family within the definition of family in Church doctrine, we are fighting against the Savior and all that He lives for and did for us. THE point of this earth and our lives here is ultimately about eternal families and the procreation of spirit children. Thus, the point of what the Savior did is about that as well. Thus, when we fight against the family, we fight again the Savior.

So yes, anything anti-family IS anti-Christ and vice verse. Too often I think we forget that when we take out one doctrine of the Church it does exist in isolation - our thoughts and beliefs about one doctrine are inexplicably tied to all other doctrines and when we say one thing about one doctrine we implicitly are saying things about all other doctrines in the Church. It is all connected together!

Now let me address equality as this has become a main header in the argument of same-sex marriage - that it is about equality.

But what is equality??

I think this is the million dollar question not addressed very often. Too often in the world and our definition, equality means sameness. But equality cannot be about sameness because there are very few things in this world that are exactly the same - and when we are talking about people there are no two people exactly the same.

So as I was thinking about this the other day I realized that equality cannot truly exist without truth - those truths that are absolute. Lets use for example, men and women. Much of feminism has fought for equality for men and women. But that equality most often takes the form of women being treated, becoming like and adopting the ways of men. How is that equality?!? Well and perhaps you say, well that isn't how it is supposed to be. You are right because equality between men and women can only be achieved by the recognition and acceptance of the absolute truth that men and women are DIFFERENT and have DIFFERENT roles. Both are essential and valuable. And equality happens not when men and women DO the same thing but are both valued and supported in their differing roles.

Now let me focus on same-sex marriage and the argument for equality. The Church has stated more than once that it supports the giving of benefits and other societal support to those in same-sex relationships. But that isn't good enough - proponents want it to be CALLED marriage not just receive most of the societal benefits associated with a heterosexual marriage. Why does the name matter so much? Because as people we want to feel JUSTIFIED in our behaviors and act as if society calling it something makes it something. But that again goes back to trying to say two things are the same which aren't? There is an absolute truth about marriage, which is that it is to be between a man and a woman for the reasons I explained above. Thus there can never be true equality that benefits all without the corresponding truth being applied.

The Lord loves all of us but there are commandments and laws. Right is not relative - there are absolute truths that do exist and all have reasons and purposes. And they aren't to discriminate or generate hate - it is because we are here on this earth to strive to become like the Savior and be perfected through the Atonement so we can live with Heavenly Father and our families through the eternities and create worlds and further posterity. And in order for that all to happen we must live by the commandments and laws given and to remember that EVERY law and commandment given is for our greatest benefit and happiness and will be the result thereof if we live according to them.
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I'm A Woman - Don't Call Me Emotional!

Emotions are fascinating things but are not understood very well I think :) So today I thought I would discuss emotions and the things over the past few years I've learned about them. Working with victims of domestic violence gave me alot of insight and access to so many emotions, and to those that had become so numb, they didn't really experience emotions. It was a very broad spectrum. And interacting with that and teaching about it made me take a close look at my emotions. The hard thing is that as people we often don't WANT to feel emotions - especially those we call unpleasant - hurt, sadness, vulnerability, anger, etc. So we often act like the ostrich who sticks his head in the sand, pretending those emotions don't exist. I do this as much as the next person - but lately I've been trying not to and I've been thinking and analyzing everything I know about emotions, so I thought I would share!

Lets talk emotions!

Emotions have two categories - primary and secondary emotions. This is important because of the biggest emotion categorized as secondary - ANGER. This means that the majority of the time, or almost always, when experiencing anger, it is simply a mask or a cover for another emotion - a primary emotion that we don't/aren't ready to acknowledge. The primary emotions are hurt, sadness, happiness, vulnerability, peace, fear, etc. Because many of the primary emotions we don't enjoy experiencing, we often experience anger in addition. The problem arises when we think anger is the PRIMARY emotion, rather than the secondary because you then can't resolve the emotion that is really driving anything.

Why do we experience anger with those primary emotions? Because emotions such as hurt, sadness, vulnerability leave us often feeling out of control or that we don't have control in a situation. Anger gives us a false sense of regaining or having control. But it can also stop us from experiencing and moving through an emotion so we can eventually move past it for the situation that caused it.

This leads me to another important thing to know and understand about emotions - too often we talk as if we have control over what emotions we experience. This is only partly true - what we ALWAYS have control over is how we RESPOND to an emotion. Part of this life is learning that - not learning how NOT to feel and experience emotion but how to respond in positive and uplifting ways to ALL the emotions we experience.

Ask yourself why we have emotions? What is their purpose?

Their main purpose is to tell us something as an individual - they tell us how we feel about a situation, experience, person, interaction, etc. Meaning the emotion we feel in connection with any of those things tells US something about how we view that situation, experience, person, etc. Now I can work to change and emotion I experience with certain events, situations, etc. but ultimately I don't choose the emotion. I choose the response, which ultimately helps direct the emotion.

What often happens when we think we control, which emotions we experience is we tell ourselves we aren't feeling such and such emotion and then go merrily on our way. But emotions never just "go away". They aren't like the flu or a bad cold :P

Let me use an analogy now - not acknowledging and experiencing our emotions is similar to us carrying around a bag - every time we don't allow ourselves to experience and work through and emotion, we stuff it in that bag. But as with anything with limited space - what eventually happens? There isn't anymore room!! You then have an uncontrolled explosion. Have you ever started crying at something small that you say to yourself, "Why am I crying at this, it is not a big deal at all!" but you can't seem to help it. Or you explode at someone and get extremely angry at a minor mishap or aggravation that normally you would have blown off. That is because your bag has gotten to full and the emotion has to go somewhere :)

Experiencing emotions - especially ones like sadness, hurt, vulnerability are ones we would rather skip. But they are important and necessary for us to feel. We have all experienced them - and if any of you are like me you just want to "move past it." When something happens that hurts me -and I feel hurt and sadness I often want to feel the emotion once and then be done. But emotions don't work that way - especially the hard ones. I recently had a friendship end - it was a friendship that mattered to me alot and I had invested alot into it. It was HARD, when ultimately, no matter how hard I tried or wanted to save the friendship it ultimately wasn't just my decision, and there is a lot of hurt and sadness tied to the ending of a friendship. When we love and care about people - we are vulnerable and that leaves us open to hurt and sadness.

Some days I'm fine with what happened and I accept it. After all I've had numerous times and days where I've almost felt overwhelmed by the sadness or hurt. And then of course with those two emotions I feel anger. I work through the emotion and sometimes think I'm done. But emotions have a way of sneaking up on you - you will see something that reminds you of the friendship or person, or do something similar to what you did together one time, or even just out of nowhere the sadness hits you.

The most important thing I learned in the last few months - is that I just have to be patient and experience the emotion that comes. I can't choose not to feel sad or hurt - I cared and those emotions are a part of that. But I can choose to work through the emotion - to acknowledge and accept WHY I feel those emotions but not allow them to overwhelm me. Ultimately, emotions allow and tell me one big thing - I CARE and that is what matters.
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The Mormon 'F' Word

If you will bear with me for a moment, I'm going to discuss what I like to call the Mormon 'F' word - more commonly known as feminism. It is always interesting to experience the different reactions when I say the word feminism. Too often the implicit response is, " are one of THOSE women." Whatever that is supposed to mean. Usually THOSE women means one of those that hates, men, burns bras, thinks women should dominate the world, or isn't striving to live the gospel.

Can I tell you I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY dislike the bad rap the word feminism has gotten and that this is topic we cannot discuss with and open mind. Because if we break down the word feminism to its TRUE meaning - it is simply a belief and/or understanding of what it means to be a woman. So HELLO! All members of the church should have a belief and an understanding of what it means to be a woman so essentially we are ALL feminists.

Sorry for all the caps - it is just frustrating that this topic - i.e. the role, importance, value of women cannot be discussed because as soon as the word feminism is mentioned, people run screaming from the room or shrink back in horror as if you are contagious.

Perhaps you are thinking - well Cherilee, can't we discuss all of those things without the word feminism? To which I stubbornly respond, well why does it have to be that way? I hate when things are a certain way simply because of some social stigmatism. I want to be able to say the word feminism and not suddenly be associated with everything and anything when I'm only saying, "Yes, I have a fact a firm belief about what it is and means to be a woman."

And let me tell you - that firm belief actually came about BECAUSE of my taking a feminism class. It made me think about and decide for myself - what do I really believe is the role of women in this world and in eternity. I think we need to think about this more often - and not just women but everyone - what has the Lord told us are the roles of men, women, families, etc. in this life and in the eternities. Too often I know I forget to really think about and apply to the role I have and to think about what it means for eternity.

I have heard more often than I would have expected to from women in the Church that they can't wait until the next life when that dang motherhood thing will be out of the way. Unless I'm completely off here, I'm pretty sure the Lord has taught that exaltation EQUALS eternal motherhood. Motherhood isn't something to just "get out of the way" so we can get on with our REAL purpose. It is one of the main purposes now and into eternity for us.

I think one of the difficult things for each of us is to figure out what that means to us. The Lord has given several reasons and blessings of motherhood but with applied application by us it is difficult sometimes to probably see motherhood as something other than drudgery or something to get out of the way. And yes I recognize that I'm not a mother yet, but it is something I do look forward to. Not because it will be easy, fun or always great but because it will be worth it. I have faith that because the Lord has said so, it will be so if I work and rely on him.

And lastly, seeking motherhood and seeing it as something valuable, important and fulfilling doesn't make me less of a woman. This is the world's view and it has slowly seeped into the women of the church. Can we stand up together in proclaiming the eternal nature, importance and value of womanhood and motherhood?
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Get Real

I had an interesting experience this past Sunday. I was asked to participate with 5 other women from my ward to participate in what ended up being called a focus group. Our Stake Presidency asked that this happen and the group was run by a member or our Stake Presidency.

The purpose? The Stake Presidency wanted to hear from us personally what we felt were the unique challenges and opportunities of being a Young Single Adult at this time. Alot of things were shared by the different sisters that attended but a couple things stood out to me both then and since as I've thought about it. Going into the meeting I really had no idea what it was about or exactly why we were there but once it was explained what I'm going to share with you was the main things I thought about then, shared, and have continued to think about. And it is something I think is applicable across all age ranges or varying places in life.

Are you real and honest with those you interact with especially when we are talking about our wards and specifically Relief Society (or if any guys read this Elders Quorum:P), since this was the focus of the focus group. It seems to me, too often we put on a pretty face, smile, give generic comments, and pretend that everything is rosy and life runs perfectly and smoothly.

Why do we do this? Since this is my blog you of course simply get my opinion, though I always love to hear what others have to say if you feel so inclined to comment :)

I think there are several factors that contribute. One reason I think is a misappropriation of the gospel and what it means to be striving to become perfect. Sometimes the "fake it until you make it" isn't applicable. I feel like an environment within the church has been fostered that encourages us to say, "Everything was great! It was the best thing ever!" And not that we can't say those things, but acknowledging that the mission was a struggle and there were at least as many difficult times as good times, and that being a parent is HARD though rewarding, or that being single has some advantages but it can be lonely and difficult to understand and know your purpose is super important. Projecting a perfect image simply distances us from others and allows no real connection. Sadly, this is a tool of satan because when we feel disconnected and different we often turn to false substitutes that satan whispers will fill that need or void.

Also, we may feel that others will judge us or think less of us because we aren't "perfect." I know this is something I struggle with. I know I often equate struggling with weakness and inadequacy - but we all have weaknesses and are inadequate in some way or the other. This is for a reason and purpose - so that we turn to our Savior who said He would make weak things become strong and that His grace is sufficient.

The last thing I think is a factor is our lack of connection with others and our understanding of how to share appropriately to build deeper relationships. The internet and social media have created an interesting environment where it can be easy to be fake and project a persona rather than who we are but it also sometimes fosters the feeling that we can share anything and everything with anyone and everyone. Both of these are unhealthy and damaging as we try and create true and fulfilling relationships of any kind. If I don't honestly seek and inquire about someone and realize there is a process of sharing and that it must start at a superficial level and through repeated experiences move to more personal or intimate than it will be difficult to have an environment where someone would share with me or I would feel comfortable sharing with them.

So what can I do? What can YOU do? How can we develop in our wards, RS, homes, interactions - a safe place where we are real and honest and seek to provide space where others feel they can be as well?

For me the biggest thing I can do is focus on being real, honest, and seeking to truly know others. What are your thoughts?
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Sometimes I feel like if I write a blogpost it should be about one thing - one subject or happening that I found so compelling I just HAD to write about it. But I realize my life and myself don't work that way - I "collect" interesting thoughts, subjects, happenings, etc. until I have this conglomeration of awesome things and THEN I feel compelled to write about them all. So here's my bric-a-brac!

It has been awhile but the last couple of weeks I got to interpret a couple of dreams. You may not know that I have this hobby - yes a hobby of interpreting dreams. I get mixed reactions when I say I do this. If you want to know a little more about how I do it, and why I do it you can read my other blog - Dreams are fascinating to me and I think there is a lot that can be learned through interpreting dreams so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do some analysis. It also is great when the person you are interpreting for is open and willing to analyze and share. I think one reason I love it so much is I find people in general to be very fascinating and dream interpretation or analysis gives insight into people - how they think, what is important to them, what stresses them out, how they process information, etc. One of these days I will put up one of my dreams with an interpretation as other people's dreams are personal and I would never share them in a public sphere. But if you ever want a dream interpreted let me know! :P

Last night I went to see Life of Pi. I've been wanting to see this movie for some time as back during my undergrad I read, studied and even wrote a research paper the I presented at an undergraduate conference on the book. It will always be one of my all time favorite books. Because of this I was nervous about how well they would be able to handle the nuances of the book in a movie and to be honest while I really wanted to read it I was skeptical. But a friend wanted to see it and had read the book and I had two free movie tickets so we ventured out to see it. We were both pleasantly surprised and felt they did a pretty good job in the movie of capturing the book and the important things. The movie is over 2 hours long but it zipped by for me and I felt engaged the whole time. So I recommend reading the book THEN seeing the movie. And even better, I recommend reading the book, discussing the book then seeing the movie. It was really fun that we had both read the book and discussed for several minutes afterwards about one of the main questions the book posits to you as a reader. I won't give anything away but I'm always up for discussing the book or movie should anyone feel so inclined.

I've also finished the book I mentioned in my previous post - The Anatomy of Peace, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It is a life changer. I also love when you have "ah-ha" moments. When something finally comes into clarity and you feel like you finally see and understand something important. In the last several weeks that has happened for me. For me one of the keys of life has been reaching the point where I understand and recognize my own little personal quirks and recognize them as the valuable parts of me that they are. And in addition, accepting people for where they are at. These two things combined really bring a lot of inner quietness and peace in combination with the knowledge the gospel gives us and the peace we can feel through living it.

Isn't life wonderful?!?
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My interests are wide and varied as my various blogs show. But one thing is for sure - any and all of them should provide some interesting tidbits.