Thursday, October 30, 2008

I have been "TAG"ed

Well thanks sis, lol.

The Rules for playing TAG:

  • Link to the person who tagged you
  • Post the rules on your blog
  • Write six random things about yourself
  • Tag six-ish people at the end of your post
  • Let each person know he/she has been tagged
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Now for six random things (which is going to take some serious thought because "Numb3rs" had altered my perception of random.)

  1. I have double jointed thumbs, which I realise isn't the right medical term but :p on that. All I know is that if I make a thumbs up the part of my thumb beyond the last knuckle points back towards my wrist.
  2. I have an extra vertebra, my S1 isn't fused to my S2 like it's supposed to be. Which means I can really swivel my hips (ZUMBA!), but when that baby goes out of line it takes relaxation exercises and contortion to get it back in.
  3. I tend to go home and cry if anyone is rude to me or sets me straight in a not-so-nice way. Pathetic I know, but what can I say? An open heart is open to it all. I'm going to keep it open though.
  4. I haven't really fought with my Mother-in-law in months. Miracles really do happen, lol. I think she just figured out that if I'm making a stand, it's never on anything I'm flexible on.
  5. Chocolate and oranges were made to go together, if you don't see at least two ways that applies to me you don't know me very well.
  6. I hate video games.

I was tagged twice, so here's the other one.


1. Get the book that's on your nightstand (or whatever you happen to be reading).

2. Open it to page 56 and find the 5th sentence.

3. Post the next couple of sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.

4. Do not go and find your favorite book; it has to be the one you are reading now!

5. Tag five other people to do the same.

I've been working my way through the New Testament. The other book I read is the one I'm writing and you aren't getting that!

Mark 1:28

And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

I tag: Crystal, Kate/wiimiii/law, RubyJade, Bethany, Kaylene, and Jenni

Just pick which game you want to play!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Perfect Mother

Some time ago my daughter brought home something extra from school. It was a page torn from the the back of a magazine on which was depicted a cartoon super-mom complete with cape. In her innocent adoration of her mother, my daughter told me the pictured woman was me. I took comfort that in spite of all my failings, to her I'm a super mom. Then recently she brought home a worksheet about what she wanted to be when she grew up. I found it the highest compliment that she put it in writing that she wanted to be like me. The magazine page is in the back of my Primary binder (where I can stumble on it and be reassured while failing miserably at my calling,) and the worksheet is on the fridge where it has brought many a smile to my face and tingle to my nose.

I can only hope that my daughter keeps up her angelically forgiving attitude as long as I kept up mine towards my own mother. I hope that by the time she figures out how incredibly young, flawed, and inexperienced I was when she was growing up, I will have become a bit more like the person that she seems to see in me.

It's not an easy goal to reach, but then Iit is hard to find a definition of a good mother that is both desirable to me and attainable. For example, let me illustrate the skills and duties of the "perfect mother" in my culture.

The ideal woman must:

  • Keep an immaculate house at all times.
  • Decorate said house in crafts she's made with her own two hands.
  • Take her 3+ children on visits to the park, but make these trips learning experiences packed with science, sociology, literature, and art.
  • Teach each of her children 1-20 and a-z before entering kindergarten.
  • Have her children evidence perfect decorum on shopping trips, in church, at social functions, and certainly at school.
  • Read to each child every night before tucking them in, this is in addition to listening to them as part of homework.
  • Be spiritually balanced and ready to extemporise on gospel principles with no advance notice.
  • Cook gourmet meals from a pantry stuffed with whole wheat and legumes.
  • Maintain her own appearance at least at a 7, even if she wasn't a 10 in the first place.
  • Be employed in either a job, hobby, or volunteer work to "contribute to society."
  • Bake her own bread.
  • Be actively involved in church, holding imortant positions and going the extra mile.

The reader must be informed that these are the expectations of my culture, not my religion. Our church leaders are constantly telling LDS women that we should be kinder to ourselves. In fact, any good hearted man with half a brain would never place so many requirements on anyone.

The fact of the matter is, we do this to ourselves. In so many cases the guidance of our leaders is added to a list of chores instead of internalised. "After I clean the house and put the finishing touches on the charity event I need to practice having charity towards myself," we think to ourselves, and here's a shocker, we never get around to it!

So to my fellow exhausted and overworked LDS moms I offer this perspective. You are raising children, not a house. None of us will be judged on judgment day on the number of vegetables we masked with jello salad. The parable of the talents wasn't talking about toll painting, it was talking about spiritual gifts, Things like listening, forgiving, and sharing are the things we are to invest and reap the rewards of. He was telling us to use what gifts we DO have to build His kingdom, not that we are lacking if we do not develop more.

One of my dearest friends says she doesn't have any talents, and yet she is a really great friend and teacher. She greets new people at church all the time, she has a great shoulder for crying, she has a really positive attitude, she double fills her multiple callings, and she supports her husband in his good works. Now that's a good woman.
Personally, I sing, dance, paint, sculpt, plan parties, decorate cakes, sew, crochet, write, and make yummy Italian. My REAL talents, though, are my ability to love people and my desire to bring them joy. Those are the talents that God cares about me using, those are the talents that I need to invest myself in. The others are just fringe benefits to being me and ways to supplement my REAL talents.
What each of us needs to do is find out what her real talents are and invest herself in them. In our efforts to beautify the world we really need to start with making ourselves more beautiful inside. Make kindness a priority. Slow down just a bit.
The dishes will be there tomorrow, the laundry will always be heckling you from the couch, there will always be another meal to make, silver to polish, phone call to make... the world is not going to stop being so DEMANDING. You have to learn to tune it out, and get tuned in on the things that really matter.
Kind, meek, charitable, temperate, forgiving, long-suffering; those are the words that you want contesting for room on your tombstone, those are the skills that you need to master.
In Matthew 6:33 the Saviour admonishes his disciples "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." If they in their tasks as fathers, husbands, and disciples were to set aside the aspirations of their society and put following Christ as their first priority, how much might we prosper from a similar mindset?
Instead of wasting our time in search of perfection, if we took every moment and looked for the good we could do in it, then the perfection would come to us.
I know, I ask the impossible, I ask you to give up the pursuit on which you have based your identity. I ask you to somehow find the time to stop and think in each moment when you hardly have a moment to think. It's the only way though, it's the only way we are ever going to conquer this world.
Stop doing all the things that make a person the "perfect mother" and start to BE a more perfect person.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All of the sudden I'm a soccer mom

Alright, so none of my kids are in soccer, but I'm assuming everyone else in the world knows that's a demographic label for all mothers with kids in "activities," right? The embarrassing truth? I'd never really realised I was one until recently, is that horrible?

I have to admit, I wasn't really prepared to dive in to this portion of my life. I don't know why, I just kind of expected a few more years of reprieve before I had to juggle games and practices with work, hobbies, church calling, more hobbies, and husband. In point of fact I would probably have neatly avoided this whole whole "activities" experience if I hadn't moved to a community where "community" is so pervasive.

I had hardly moved in before a friend at church was asking if Tali was going to take dance, or even Jay, there are lots of boys at the studio she goes to... what about Jordan? So I look in to the price... uhhh no. Then I mentioned to her that I was going to need a part time job, and she hooked me up with my job.

It's a great job. I work with kids, I have great co-workers, great bosses, take dinner with me, get a discount on our family membership. Which is to say I am now plugged in to "activities."
I'm still getting used to this whole way of life. It's not at all a bad thing, it's just different from what I expected. This is just not a page I ever really expected to be writing on in my life.
To be honest I've still not completely defined to myself why this is such an odd fit for me, why I feel so awkward at the sidelines of my son's t-ball practices or watching my kids on parent day at swim lessons. I just feel like this is "old hand" for everyone else, like they are easily taking the steps in a line-dance that somehow I've completely missed out on learning. "Hey, who wants to bring snack for after our first game?" The volunteer coach's wife asks. The gears in my head were still catching up with her question when someone else had already volunteered. I just really hope I didn't look as completely inept as I felt at that moment. I mean, snacks, yeah, I heard soccer moms did that, but... am I a soccer mom now? I guess I am. I guess I was the summer before last when I was watching my kids take swim lessons and I just didn't know it.
But... I'm NOT a soccer mom! I'm not! I'm a bookworm, seamstress, creative, computer-junkie, kind of mom. I'm the kind of mom who makes pointy ears for all 25 kids in the class to wear in the play and who brings in strawberries for snack.

I'm... I'm... I'm not who I thought I was. I've been tricked!

I don't even know how to handle all this soccer mom stuff, I mean... wasn't I supposed to have an opinion on soccer mom types before I became one? Over-protective, laid back, competitive, which am I? I find myself cheering for every clank of ball and bat, be it our team or not... and then I think, "Am I doing this wrong? Am I supposed to participate more, or less? Is my son stuck out on second base the rest of the season? How many innings are there in t-ball? Why are there 9 innings in baseball anyway, and who gets more at bat? Why do they wear batting helmets when no one is pitching? Why didn't I think to bring lawn chairs and bottled water like everyone else?"

I just don't get it, I feel so... dumb! I'm not used to feeling dumb. But when it comes to sports and kids activities I simply don't know what I'm doing. I'm so out of touch that the whole thing feels very surreal. I was sitting there in my lawn chair at his second game, bottled water in hand, and it just felt like I was living a day out of someone else's life. There is NO WAY I was really sitting in a southern park in October watching a t-ball game while a bluegrass band practiced nearby. How did this scene get in my plot?

And now we've come to the part of my post where I sum it all up and say something sage that makes my Daddy proud and my sisters miss me... but tonight I'm out of sage-ness. So I think I'm going to take my hormonal, chubby, soccer mom self to bed and have a good cry to help get my head around all this. I'm going to take a few hours to figure out how I got from where I was to where I am, and how much of who I was I gave up getting to be who I am.
Don't worry, I'll be fine. I'm sure that some time tonight I will reconcile all this. Then with the morn I will take solace in the fact that, at the very least, we do not CURRENTLY own a mini-van. Both labels might have killed me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

There is nothing so universal as individuality

Yes, I came up with that on my own, thank you.

It's true though, there really is nothing so universal as individuality. Taking the statement as a whole, in the entire human family there are no two people exactly alike. Even twins vary in their experiences and outlook, and while there are common threads in nearly every heart, no two hearts will experience life the same way.

If we were put in a centrifuge and by sheer force lumped together with like minded persons we would still find in each layer of humanity a richness of variation and complexity that is un-chartable. Each person is entirely and beautifully unique.

Individuality is an interesting word though. In it's archaic sense it meant something that could not be divided, inseparable. Then after the "indivi" part we find the word "duality." This is interesting to me simply because duality is being two things at once. Indivisible dual nature, what an intriguing concept.

The theology which I subscribe to informs me that the two sides of my soul are flesh and spirit, the two key elements in my personal evolution, and the struggle between them decides the direction I take in this life and in the eternities. The purpose of this life is to learn to bring the flesh into subjugation to the spirit, to overcome the lust and desires of the flesh in favor of the quiet and favorable needs of the spirit.

I see people all around me who do all they can to express their individuality without taking into consideration what it really means to be an individual. It's not about what color you die your hair, your clothing style, how many various and sundry groups you belong to. Your individuality is really about where you stand in the process of perfecting yourself, and if you are even aware that this process is the goal of your existence.

I am as guilty of imperfection as anyone, but I often wonder what people are thinking as they go about their lives. Is introspection really as rare as it seems? I wonder how it is that people can be represented as polar opposites and yet in many ways be so alike in their individuality? I wonder if, as life on this spinning rock draws to a close, people die as alike as they are when they are born? Do most of us learn what we lived to learn? Are we as wise as when we first opened our eyes?

All those moments between birth and death, and what do they teach us, what do they prove? Just this, we have to choose. We much each choose the conquering part of our dual nature, and in doing so we reveal as a race the true nature of mankind.

I have great hopes of what that summation will reveal, don't you?