Thursday, January 1, 2015

Be Resolute

Be Resolute:

I love anniversaries. With the rotation of the sun and planets and earth, we literally are right back where we were in SPACE one year ago. To my romantic mind, I find this incredibly significant. And with being in the same PLACE we were a year before, it naturally causes us to reflect on the TIME that has passed. While space and time may be constructs of our mortal experience, we still are incredibly bound by those principles here on earth. 

And that is why I love anniversaries. I love being able to reflect on where I've been and where I'm trying to go. The rest of my days, I try to stay rooted in the present, but reflection on these things every so often (like in the new year) can be incredibly helpful and humbling. Anniversaries come pretty hard and fast for me this time of year. A.) My b-day, B.) one week later it's xmas, C.) one week later its TODAY, New Years Day. This always sets me up for reflecting on A.) where I've been B.) where I am C.) where I'm going.

I am reminded that life is about progression. But that progression is not in a line, but more in a spiral, a spiral like on a spring. We circle back to where we've been, but we are always moving forward toward something. 

In that spirit, and in the spirit of the NEW YEAR! (don't you just love new things, even if they are arbitrary constructs like a new year?) I am going to list some of the things I have learned in 2014, and a few resolutions for 2015. 

From 2014:

I have learned (or re-learned):

*There is nothing more powerful than seeing a loved one or dear friend in pain, and wanting so badly to make support them. (While not always knowing what to do).

*We all take turns in giving support, and in being supported. This is life. It is wonderful and terrible.

*When you think to yourself 'Life has been pretty good for a pretty long while, something bad must be on it's way' You'll probably get what you wishedfor.

*When that 'something bad' happens, YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH.

*I never cry at the 'right' times, and always at the 'wrong' times. 

*I value KINDNESS over almost all else, but still have a hard time being kind myself.

*The biggest misunderstandings in this world usually come from FEAR. When one side fears another, stupidity ensues. When both sides fear each other, that is when truly horrible things happen. We should foster understanding, and not dig into our fears. (I know, so much easier said than done). This year I've seen this in politics, gender issues, religion, science, and much more. 

*'Benefit of the doubt' will most likely not hurt you. It will help you have a better outlook for your fellow humans.

*You can be so much more alone in a crowd, than when you are by yourself. 

*Having a sense of home is important. 

*'Going Back' does not being 'moving backwards'

*I love Leslie Knope.

*Being busy is not sustainable. 

*Less is more.

*When someone else finds happiness, it doesn't mean you need to do the same thing to be happy. My happy will never be the same as your happy.

*Happiness is about finding the balance between contentment with what you have, and ambition (the pursuit of a better life.)

*It is easy to mistake complacency and apathy for 'contentment'. And just as easy to mistake anxiety and wrestlessness for 'ambition'.

*Patience is important, but 'just putting up with something' is not patience.

*I still love to paint, and I don't suck at it. 

*Sometimes it takes almost getting what you thought you wanted, to realize that you maybe don't want it at all. And then there's that thing you've always wanted to do since Jr High, that you've always dismissed. Maybe now is the time to do that thing? 

*We are often told, and I generally believe it too, that we can do just about anything if we (insert power statement word here, i.e. 'believe', 'work hard', 'persevere', 'just want it enough'). While this is good, I've come to realize, that just because we may have he ability, SHOULD WE? Just because I know I could have a certain career if I worked hard enough, or reach some difficult goal, doesn't mean that I should. It doesn't mean that it's best for me or that I'm the best for that. It doesn't mean it will make me happy, and be better for the world. That is why there are millions and billions of different people, with different abilities and perspectives. We need each other, and we need to learn when a goal is NOT for us. And accepting that fact DOES NOT MEAN FAILURE. It does not make you a quitter. (well maybe it does, but being a quitter can be the BETTER option sometimes).  

2015 Resolutions:

I usually make a ton of resolutions, and achieve a few and am perfectly happy with that. This year I am focusing on 2 MAIN resolutions. I will make monthly smaller goals to achieve them.

These resolutions are more about the type of person I want to be when 2016 rolls around, rather than what I will accomplish. I'm banking on the fact that I'll do better things if I am a better person.

1. TO BE A KINDER PERSON. I love people who are kind. I want to better understand this principle, to truly embody it. 

2. TO BE BOLDER. I want to have the courage to stand my ground when necessary. To go for the things I want and need.

3. FIND THE BALANCE BETWEEN 1 and 2. Kindness can lead to being a pushover with out boldness. Boldness can be cold and inhumane without kindness. They need each other. 


Friday, June 13, 2014

the Hufflepuff Problem

So most of my blog posts revolve around me complaining about something, or getting on a soap box of some sort. It makes sense, because it’s really easy to talk about the things that bother us. This post will be a little different though. I want to talk about something that is VERY important, but is almost always treated as sort of ‘meh’.

I’m talking about KINDNESS.

Now, I have not always had a full appreciation for this attribute. I’ve actually even felt annoyed by being told I was kind (more on that later). There is this general idea floating around, that people who are primarily kind, are only so because they have nothing else to offer. The ‘nice guys finish last’ idea. What I’m going to call ‘The Hufflepuff Problem’. (That’s right, I went there. My Harry Potter nerd has surfaced. If you aren’t into HP, skip the next paragraph. I promise I get back on point).  

NOBODY wants to be sorted into Hufflepuff.

                “Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers,” –Hargrid

They don’t seem to be high achievers (though that is all a matter of opinion I think), but they are loyal, patient, hardworking and KIND, but everyone just seems to think they are the ‘left overs’. They must not be ambitious, brave, or smart. What if they are all of those things, but their DEFINING characteristics are kindness and loyalty? (ex. Nymphadora Tonks and Cedric Diggory).

I have a very strong memory from when I was a kid, before I even knew HP existed (maybe it didn’t even exist at that point). We were in a school class, 3rd or 4th grade or something, and we went around the room saying something you admired about the person next to you. And I’m sitting there, thinking to myself “don’t say kind, don’t say kind, don’t say kind.” Why? Because if you were described as kind, then that meant you were so non-descript and forgettable, that person couldn’t think of anything else to say. It was the go-to compliment when you were forced to give a compliment. I wanted to be noticed as someone who was smart, someone creative, someone INTERESTING. And at that time, I thought that kindness was the furthest from interesting you could get.

Fast forward to the days of social media! We all belong to the Church of the Blog, where you need only be loud and outrageous and your voice will be heard and re-echoed and made into dogma. (I am fully aware of the irony of writing this as a blog post). We all choose sides and dig in our heels, and reinforce our beliefs and what happens next? We villainize the ‘other’. We throw walls of text in a comment section and don’t give the other side a chance to interject. We get instantly offended by opposing views. Which leads to us automatically assuming that someone who disagrees with us, is attacking us. We get defensive and vicious without even realizing it. We simply feel that we are standing our ground. We completely disregard the RIGHT that others have to their own opinions and beliefs. We ASSUME they just can’t have thought it through fully. ‘If they only heard/read my rant, then they’d see the light and admit that I am right’. But if everyone thinks this, we only get more polarized and no one changes.

*Note, I think there are definitely things to stand up for, and it is important to do so, in a constructive and loving way.

What we need more than ever, is KINDNESS. The problem is, that the people who are truly kind are also the people who don’t often get involved in internet squabbles. They avoid them like the plague (and are probably happier for it). I think, though, that an interjection of kindness can go a long way. It has much more power than we think. Instead of being sort of ‘meh’, the quality of kindness can be the most strengthening and unifying attribute we have in our arsenal.
How can kindness have power? Let’s look at where the word came from. According to the Online Etymology Dictonary, kind as an adjective in the sense I am referring to it:

"From Old English gecynde "natural, native, innate," oirignally "with the feeling of relatives for each other," 
‘Natural, native, innate’. Are we innately kind? I genuinely believe so. We learn to be aggressive and defensive when we experience loss. When we lose out on something we think we deserve and desire. We harden ourselves to live in a hardened world. Yes, we do inherit a world of problems and we have to figure out how to navigate in that world. Yes, we do need to protect ourselves from harm. But in doing so, do we also take it too far? Maybe if we try to be a little kinder, we will recognize that it is a natural part of us. Humans have a great potential for destruction and harm, but we also have a great potential for good and love and kindness.

This has been on my mind a lot recently. This is because I have seen it in action so much in the past month. My dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Something you never want to happen, but once you do you find you belong to an incredible club. A club of concern, of love, of great spirit, of strength and of kindness.

As a result of complications from the cancer, my dad had an extended hospital stay and eventually surgery. It was difficult to witness the pain he was feeling. He is one of the kindest people I know. Everyone who knows him loves him, and this is because he loves everyone around him. You never want something like this to happen to people like him. In order to communicate what was going on to the people who were interested, we set up a blog. We also set up a place for people to leave words of encouragement for my dad, to send him messages if they wanted to. This has been overwhelming.

One day, I was sitting with my brother and my dad in the hospital, and my brother was reading the comments from the blog. They were simple messages. Simple words of love and support, from people that my dad hadn’t seen since High School, or even Middle School. But with these simple words, came so much love. So much support. They mean a lot to my dad, and they mean a lot to me.

These words from strangers brought me on the verge of tears. This has made me notice the small acts of kindness I receive every day. Generally I keep my emotions behind 2 or 3 layers of pragmatism, but lately all it takes is an offhand compliment, or a message of concern, or a friend picking me up from the mechanic, or an unexpected hug and I’m about to start crying. I have been the recipient of so much kindness, it’s making me tear up writing this stupid blog post.

When tragic things happen to people we care about, we don’t know how to react. We don’t know what to say or what to do. What I am suggesting, is that we just say or do SOMETHING. Don’t be afraid of it being silly, or insignificant or even inappropriate. If you are motivated with love and kindness, then you will likely be much more impactful than you can even imagine. Instead of rushing to the defensive, rush to be kind. Rush to be compassionate. Learn to have kindness as your knee-jerk reaction. We have so much more in common than different. By being kind, it doesn’t take away from any other qualities you have. It doesn’t make you less intelligent, less witty, less funny, and less brave. It magnifies all of your good qualities.

Dare to be kind.

Friday, May 30, 2014

a big confession, a long rant and some gifs

This past weekend, I was on a road trip to Moab, UT and on the car drive down, one of the company asked the questions (mostly as a joke) “What is everyone’s deepest darkest secret?” This made me start thinking. For the most part, I don’t really have any secrets. I’m pretty much an open book. But then I realized that there was something that most people probably don’t know about me. Something that I DEFINITELY keep from people that I go on those ever so rare dates with. Then all of this wonderful #YesAllWomen stuff came up, and I started to wonder, WHY? Why am I not open about this like I am about anything else? And I suddenly realize that I was ASHAMED. I almost never feel shame for anything (because I’m really good at rationalizing away guilt. Probably should work on that).

So, what is this secret? I've decided that it’s time to let it out. Let the world know and just deal with the consequences.

I am 27 years old, and I have never been kissed. Actually, I've never held anyone’s hand in a romantic way, and I've never been on more than 2 dates with the same guy. But for clarity’s sake, I’m just going to focus on the NEVER BEEN KISSED.

There are hundreds of voices out there telling me that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. I can’t watch a TV show or movie or look at the cover of a women’s magazine or browse internet articles without having it shoved in my face that in order to be a fully confident and grown woman, I need to be making conquests, and fulfilling my sexual desires left right and center. Heaven forbid there be a confident grown woman who doesn't want this! Maybe I want to find a solid, emotionally strong, respectful and equal relationship before the physical relationship gets underway.

I recently picked up the movie ‘Never Been Kissed’ with Drew Barrymore, from the $5 movie bin at Walmart. I hadn't seen it in years, and thought “This could so be me! I look like I could be in high school, and I've never been kissed!” Ready to finally find a protagonist that I could actually relate to, I watched the movie again. It was entertaining, in your classic romantic comedy sort of way. But as far as living up to its title? Falls grievously short.

For someone who in all actuality, literally, has NEVER BEEN KISSED, I was more than a little annoyed. First off, as the Drew Barrymore character states: “I've kissed guys, I just haven’t felt that ‘thing.’” And goes on to explain how she imagines a ‘real’ kiss should be. Who would believe a movie about someone who actually had never been kissed? Crazy talk!

If you don’t know the movie, its premise is that she was an uber nerd in high school, referred to as ‘Josie Grosie’ and therefore never fit in. She goes back to High School, undercover and blah blah blah, things happen. THIS. This bugs. The pervasive idea that to have had healthy teenage and high school years, you need to be out there kissing boys (or girls), and exploring your sexuality or you are just missing out. You are abnormal. That if you aren't getting kissed, etc. then you are some sort of ‘Josie Grosie’.

I, frankly, was not interested in these things in high school. I liked going on dates, but didn't want anything big. As a result I went to college with a strong sense of WHO I WAS not dependent on if I was dating a guy or not. Not dependent on if so and so had a crush on me. I was confident. I liked this about myself, so I didn't feel pressured to need a boyfriend. Years pass, and friends get married, move on, have babies, I get new roommates and every time the conversation will eventually turn to boys and past dating life. I mostly just remained silent.

Why? I felt ASHAMED. My once confidence, was slowly chipped away at by outside opinions and expectations. Even aside from the voices in the media, is the culture I’m surrounded in. I grew up in a religious and conservative societal group. I myself am still very religious and I guess you could say that I’m right center leaning. Even with this backdrop, where sexual promiscuity is generally frowned upon, there is still a STRONG emphasis in finding a spouse and starting a family. So dating, kissing boys, finding your perfect man, that is what is expected. Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to find someone to have a strong relationship with, and to have some adorable and challenging children. I really do want this. So far, however, the cards have not dealt me this life.

So I try to find happiness and fulfillment in the life that I do have, but I cannot go more than a month without hearing over the pulpit in church that it is my duty to be working toward finding a husband. That if I’m a good little girl, it will eventually work out. That I should be flirting more and making sure those guys know that I am just waiting to be swept off my feet! I don’t want to discourage guys from asking me out, but being overly flirtatious is just not me. Thus, the result of my having never been kissed.

I could go into the reasons (shyness, stubbornness, awkwardness, social expectations, etc) but that is not what I am concerned about. I know that at least 50% of the problem here is myself. I don’t expect the perfect guy to drop out of the sky and just be persistent enough to win me over. I have things to work on, and believe me, I've heard every explanation:

“You just need to flirt more.” (Oh, thank you for telling me what my personality should be. That’s nice.)
“You’re just too intimidating.” (Right, I’m waaay better than all other women.)
“You’re so amazing, guys are afraid to date you because they will have to commit.” (Suuuure. And all the girls who are currently dating guys are just mediocre? Not even close.)
“You just need to be good and kissed.” (Don’t get me started on this one.)
“It’ll happen as soon as you stop looking.” (Believe me, I've tried that one.)
“Maybe if you got drunk, you’d let loose a little.” (Maybe for you, but not for me.)

And many many more. All of these comments have come from friends and loved ones I know they are only motivated by love and concern. The problem is, they just perpetuate the problem. The feeling that I need to be ‘fixed’. Or that men are not good enough for me (this will need to be discussed at a future time, I don’t have the energy to tackle this misconception right now).

Fortunately, people don’t generally ask about my ‘dating life’ very much anymore. I think there is a general wariness to ask a single girl over the age of 25 about her dating life, in the fear that she will start crying or something. I’m not complaining, there’s less awkward conversations on my part, but SHEESH!

Here is the TRUTH: there is nothing fundamentally wrong with me. Yes, I have numerous flaws, but the fact that I have ‘Never Been Kissed’ does not make me a malfunctioning human. It doesn't mean that I am or was a ‘Josie Grosie’, or that I will never find, happiness, fulfillment and love. It means that I am me, and my life is different from your life, and your life is different from your best friend’s life, etc.

I guess what I really want, is for other women and girls, men and boys to stop worrying about holding themselves up to a sexual or social standard. Don’t let others (though there are many) shame you into thinking you are less of a person, or an undesirable partner because of your experience level.

Please comment if you have similar thoughts. I feel like I’m alone out here, but I know there must be others. Share this post if you think it share worthy. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

only the best foods

I've been thinking a lot lately about taking control of my diet. I usually do not think about what I eat. I just eat what I want to eat (within my budget) and what is readily available. As a result I consume a great deal of sugar and fatty foods. It's cheap, it's easy and it's tasty. There are a lot of voices out there telling you what foods you should eat and why, and I've been wanting to make a change to a more healthy, natural diet but it's easy to get confused from seemingly contradictory experts. I do not believe in food guilt. I think feeling "bad" or "guilty" about what you eat is not the way that I want to live. That being said, I do want to try and be better. 

So here is my plan. 

I am going to ADD more NUTRIENT DENSE foods to my diet, and not concentrate on cutting anything out. I want to choose the better option when I have a choice and hopefully my body will start to crave the good stuff more and more. 

So what foods are considered NUTRIENT DENSE

There are even differing opinions on that, so I did some serious googling and compiled the following list, cross referenced with foods I already like to eat. This is going to be my "go-to" shopping list:

Sunflower Seeds
Black beans
Black berries

Kidney beans
Pumpkin seeds
Romaine lettuce
Sesame seeds
Swiss chard
Brown rice
Cheese- grass fed
Chicken- pasture raised

Collard greens
Cow milk- pasture raised
Dark chocolate
Flax seeds
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Green beans
Lima beans

Olive oil- extra virgin
Pinto beans
Sweet potatoes
Yogurt- grass fed
Beef- grass fed
Bok choy
Brussel sprouts

Navy beans

Soy sauce
Squash- acorn, summer, winter
Turkey- pasture raised
White rice
Bell peppers
Coconut oil
Iceberg lettuce
Mustard greens
Peanut butter/almond butter

Turnips/Turnip greens
Green pepper

Lamb- grass fed
Orange peppers


I don't claim to have all the answers for nutrition. Some of these foods may be misguided, but I'm going to give it a try. Am I missing any super foods you enjoy? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday GIFs

Because Friday.