Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tiny Doses

Anxiously she sits and waits for him to come to play
When she finally gets a turn he's quickly pulled away

Oh well, she says, and walks away
She'll try another day
He mustn't know today's a day she needed him to stay

Sad and slow she passes by a bed of wilting roses
It really sucks to only get her love in tiny doses

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Twitterpation



The English language has just one word to show the deepest affection.  The four letter word, snugly laced between I and you is one that every man, woman, and child longs to hear often.  It rolls off the tongue in the softest way and has the most delicate landing.  It is the word love.
There are many kinds of love.  One being the love a mother has for her child.  She manifests her adoration in the tiny moments when she wipes a wounded knee or places a gentle kiss on a tear-stained cheek.  It has also been witnessed in more powerful scenes as she super-hero lifts a two ton vehicle off her child who is being held hostage underneath.  There is also the allegiant love of a friend.  A devotion that is surely rare, a friend’s love allows for a safe place to hide during times when it feels like everyone else is throwing stones.  Although there are many more, the last love on my list, but certainly not least, is the amorous affection between a man and a woman.  This type of love can be so fierce that it has been known to bring nations to war.  It is the center of focus in cinema, the force that moves an artist’s tool along a canvas, and the inspiration that fills a writer’s blanket of pages in a book.  It is also the topic of one of my favorite questions to ask someone.  What is romantic love?  Everyone has their own answer.  For some it is a fairy-tale daydream filled with once-upon-a-times and happily-ever-afters.  Others see it as a contract binding two together for a common purpose; to procreate and have a lifetime of dedicated companionship.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Its definition is personally designed by each, for we all are unique in our needs, wants, and desires.  Although love is an individual conviction, everyone who possesses it can recall how it began.  Eros sprouts from an initial spark of attraction and a frenzy of feelings, which can be a wild, crazy, mad journey-for-two of its own.      
Almost every person of age has felt the sting of cupid’s arrow.  Some are even lucky enough to have been shot by the innocently impish, little guy multiple times.  The affects of his arrow can be quite the scene.  Family and friends of the victims often classify their loved ones’ smitten states as temporarily insane.  Millions of viewers thought similarly of Tom Cruise as he wildly jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch like a cat on crack, shouting love praises for his beloved Katie Holmes.  Though he was criticized by many for his behavior, I seemed to understand him completely. 
I remember being knocked over by the sting of love’s force for the very first time and have never, ever forgotten.  I saw him walk off a plane and oh my goodness, I melted into a puddle of goo.  Butterflies did somersaults in my tummy and feathers tickled the backs of my knees, making them go completely weak.  It’s a wonder I could stay standing.  He was likely the most perfect guy I had ever seen.  For me, it was his brown curls coming out the sides of a baseball cap, his chestnut eyes, and skin that had been kissed by the sun that entertained every sense I had.  His smile was mischievously mesmerizing, and his body gave off an air of confidence that filled the room.  I was enchanted by his mere presence.  Although I hardly remember being introduced, I do remember that when my eyes finally found the courage to glance up close to meet his, a mad magic took place.  Neither one of us could take our eyes off of each other.  We spoke a few words but most of our time was spent staring and smiling at one another.  I may have giggled once or twice, which made his smile widen even more.  He took down my phone number on the back of his plane ticket, and I wrote his on the palm of my hand.  Saying goodbye that day at the airport was not a farewell at all.  It was more like a vow that we would say hello again at least a million and two more times.  Even though we were both so young, we felt something very real for each other.  We were crushing on one another, and the feeling was nothing less than intoxicatingly exciting. 
The first stage of love is sort of a whimsical whirlwind that often moves quickly from innocence to a state of intense infatuation.  Falling victims to love at first sight almost instantaneously believe that they are each other’s missing piece that completes their existence.  They develop a craving to know everything about each other, and they will often stay up all night talking with an endless energy.  Constant communication becomes their new high, and they thank their lucky stars for the handheld devices that allow for 24/7 accessibility.  Their surroundings suddenly become an enchanted playground.  The groundcovers are clouds and the air smells of sweet cinnamon and sugar.  As they walk hand-in-hand along the crowded streets, there remains between them a calm and peace because they recognize the beauty in everything they see.  They are in a world of their own, a bubble of bliss. 
As the storm of fondness grows, infatuation rises high.  The two begin to covet the kind of closeness that has the ability to bind two people together.  This attraction becomes so intense that it does not want give allowance for the two to ever part.  They have fallen head-over-heels victims to this vortex.  When the day ends and they must say goodbye, it takes everything they have to let go of each other’s hand.  Both refuse to say the words good-bye first, and their sad, puppy dog eyes stay fixed on each other until the other softens out of focus.  Their connection to one another appears to stay still in time, even when the depression of distance separates them.  But beware.  For when they reunite, they bind and bend together like they were created for the purpose to become one.  They grasp a hold of one another and refuse to release.  When their eyes meet again, they can barely carry a breath on their own, but as their lips connect, they can live forever off the slightest sigh of the other.    
Infatuation has now led them to true intimacy.  I do not mean an all-the-way intimacy,  but one that leaves them burning with a desire to innocently fill every untouched inch of void within the body and soul of their new, closest confidant.  Their infant love suddenly inspires, enlightens, and ignites a burn in them that seems will never become suppressed.  Affection rises like fire that will forever offer flame.  It is a warmth just enough for two.  There is no room or welcoming offer for another to enter and come between them.  Both are filled enough.  It is as if there could never be a need or want for anything more than what they intimately share.  When they are apart, they refuse to allow another to even enter their thoughts.  They are loyal only to the one.  They commit to never bore, for they are determined to always look for something new to gaze upon, to study, and to know.  They feel as if they can close their eyes and draw from memory, every uncovered detail, each freckle, scar, and delicate marking of the other's frame.  They desire to heal, to serve, and to love and love some more the one they call their new best friend and soul mate, the only one that they believe they were made for. 
Yes, love travels through many tunnels.  Those who have been on the waters for many years, with the same first mate, understand that the somersaulting butterflies will soon grow tired.  The once, weak knees will eventually regain their strength.  What begins as twitter-pation will likely become roller coaster nation.  Love constantly transforms, and within that process it often becomes something equally as beautiful as described above, but not ever the same.  Although this is a reality that all must come to accept, there still lives within many of us a reverent respect and appreciation for the dreamy, falling state of love.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Grease Enlightening


Nostalgia may be one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity.  The ability to look back fondly on the experiences of yesteryear can act as a cozy blanket on a cold winter’s afternoon.  Although not all memories of one’s past are as good as they seemed, time has a way of softening rough surfaces, blunting sharp edges, and smoothing out the wrinkles that certainly occurred along the way.  A childhood favorite book or movie can instantaneously bring one back to that time and fill a mind and heart with warm emotions.  Sometimes, however, the fond memories of one’s youth do not match the morals developed through time, experience, and maturity.
I grew up in the entertainment capital of the world.  Las Vegas is known for having plenty of exciting things to do, even for kids.  As each school year would draw to a close, the teachers would ask us what our summer plans were.  I enjoyed hearing all the exciting and exotic trips and plans that my classmates had planned.  Some students shared that they would be vacationing out of the country, others were excited to attend wilderness camps or other activities.   
Of course, there wasn’t a need to go out of town to enjoy the school break.  At that time, Vegas had a water park, plenty of public pools, local camps, movie theatres, and arcades.  But with eight children, my parent’s resources for entertainment were scarce, if they existed at all.  Those activities were not always available to us, but we didn’t go without fun.  What we did have was anytime-access to my Aunt Camille’s pool.  We spent almost every sunny morning swimming with all of our cousins.  However, when the noon sun came, its rays grew so strong and dangerous that my mother insisted that it was time to go home.  Needless to say, indoor activities became our afternoon summer norm.  We often filled those hours watching our favorite movies.  Among those films was the 1978 American classic, Grease.  My sisters and I would snuggle up on our big comfy, blue plaid couch and slide the VHS into the VCR.  With wet hair that smelled of chlorine, and sun-kissed, Coppertone-iced skin, we would dance and sing to the catchy tunes that, to this day, we still have memorized.  My oldest sister took center stage, playing the role of Sandra Dee whenever the “Summer Lovin’” scene began.  She would often chase down my little brother to be her Danny, who would roll his big, blue eyes but almost always complied with her girlish demands.  I sat and giggled as my eyes danced from the screen to their playful performances.  When the film ended, we pushed the rewind button, listened as the tape rolled loudly from the right reel back to the left one, and then we pushed play again.  And so went each day.
Fast forward to December 2012:
Time has quickly flown by and I have somehow transformed into a protective mother of two teenagers and one wide-eyed pre-teen.  Those matronly years have graced me with plenty of experiences that have made me realize just how quickly my children’s purity can be stained by what they hear and see.  If cringing was an Olympic sport, I would have reigned as the gold medal champion of the world since 1994.  But it’s not just that I simply shudder at the sound or sight of offensive material, my hands have also developed ninja-fast reflexes that can go from sitting nicely in my lap, to shielding several sets of small eyes at the speed of light.  On this particular winter day, I found myself in another one of those situations. 
I had just recently finished another fifteen credit semester (did I mention that I’m a full-time student?) and was in need of a lazy, let-me-veg day.  “Plop” went my tired frame on the corner couch cushion and “click” went my pink-painted pointer on the power button that controls the fifty inch box of mindless entertainment. Scrolling through the channels, I came upon a scene that made my heart do a little twirl and dip.  There they were, Sandra Dee and Danny Zucko charming the beach’s sand as they professed true love’s vow to one another.  With giddy glee, I called my children down from their teenage cave dwellings to watch it with me. 
Stop!  Before I begin my evaluation, I want to make something perfectly clear.  Grease is a movie that has always been on the tippy top of my favorites list.  I lovingly associate it with the fondest memories of those lazy summer afternoons spent with seven of my most cherished people in the whole world.  Today’s assessment is solely based on what I witnessed as I saw it these many years later through my mommy eyes.  My first focus will be on the cast and their performances, the second will make sense of the moral character and overall theme of the movie. 
Olivia Newton John was perfectly matched to the role of Sandra Dee.  Her glowing innocence radiated through the TV screen and her enchanting voice was ever-so easy to listen to.  It was effortless for me to believe that Olivia was Sandra Dee.  John Travolta completely embodied every girl’s vision of perfection.  His edge of rebellion doused with sensitivity made him the perfect Danny.  John Travolta faultlessly played “the bad boy is really a big, soft teddy bear” role.  The supporting cast was just as carefully selected.  Each was completely believable in their roles.  Rizzo, played by the talented Stockard Channing, had a hard, 50’s punk attitude and a sarcastic spark of humor that appealed to her pack of four Pink Ladies.  Opposite Rizzo was the T-Bird’s leader, Kenickie, whose role was awarded to Jeff Conaway.  He coolly pulled off the true bad boy persona with his hard look and dark, yet charming eyes.  The rest were cast as the typical stand-out characters that can be seen in every high school across America.  There was the over-zealous cheerleader (Susan Bunker), the awkward and geeky trekkie kid (Eddie Deezen), the insecure, three stooge-type gang followers (Barry Pearl, Michael Tuccor, and Kelly Ward), the dreamy, but not-so-bright jock (Lorenzo Lamas), the voluptuous gold digger (Dinah Manoff), the supportive and protective friend to all (Didi Conn), and the happily plump girl who entertains everyone with her ridiculousness (Jamie Donnelley).  Every actor and actress fit brilliantly in their given parts.  Within the first ten minutes, during the first two scenes, I had fallen just as much in love with these characters as I had when I was in my youth.  The memories came flooding back.  My heart did another little twirl and dip, and then another as I grew excited to be sharing a part of my youth with my own children.          
However, it wasn’t long after the first scene ended that I started to question the morals and overall theme that were on display in the film.  I had several cringing moments as I thought about my impressionable children watching and what message they were receiving.  My hope was that their youthful innocence just jumped right past the sexual innuendos.  I hadn’t recalled the language being so crude and offensive in my youth, but I certainly picked up on it this time around.  What bothered me the most was that the movie’s message was one that gave in to peer pressure instead of finding the inner self-respect and strength not to conform.  I worried at what my children were gleaning from the movie, because what I was seeing was very disturbingly clear.   
Sandra Dee arrived at Rydell High as a pure and gentle soul.  She seemed to have been raised with high morals and had a great deal of self respect.  When she expressed her views to her peers, she was mocked and made to feel prudish and silly.  This manifested itself in several scenes throughout the movie.  During a sleep over, Sandy was offered a cigarette.  When she gracefully told the girls that she didn’t smoke, they insisted that she try.  The next temptation was conveniently produced from a brown, paper bag in the form of a bottle of wine.  Again Sandy refuses the drink, but the “friends” placed it in front of her and she took a swig.  She didn’t even put up much of a fight.  The scene ends with Sandy sick in the bathroom while the popular Pink Ladies perform a singing mockery of the “prudish” Sandra Dee. 
Danny Zucko also had his fair share of peer pressure.  His loyalty to his friends made it difficult for him to show Sandy the Danny she had fallen in love with on the beach.  When he hinted at even a little bit of affection towards her, his fellow T-Birds gave him signs of disapproval, which quickly turned him back into an insensitive jerk, breaking Sandy’s heart several times in the process.  Also trickled throughout the movie were smaller, yet profoundly negative themes, including unprotected sex, teenage pregnancy, and disrespect for authority.             
I must admit that seeing the film with my mommy eyes was a completely different experience.  My beloved “Grease Lightening” suddenly became “Grease Enlightening.”  I cringed (gold medal #6 is in the bag) during several more scenes and as the movie ended, I wondered if the message that I suddenly discovered was the same one that my children would walk away with.  To the mommy me, the movie’s message was clear.  A young girl, radiating a freshness of beauty and innocence, ends up changing herself to fit in with a group of girls who don’t even appreciate or value her.  She trades in her modest clothing for a black leather, skin-tight body suit that reveals every feminine curve that she has.  All of the sudden, she had discarded her non-smoking self and reappears puffing seductively on a cigarette, which just so happens to turn Danny on in a big way.  In short, she quickly and with little self conflict or inner fight, conforms to the group to please and satisfy a boy’s desires and then they ride happily ever after in to the clouds. 
I hadn’t noticed it as a child or teenager, or had I and I just don’t realize it?  Perhaps subconsciously it had an impact on me.  Or am I making a bigger deal out of it now than it needs to be?  I should know better.  I am a mommy, so why am I now trying to justify the overall theme of the movie?  Is it so I can preserve my childhood perception and good memories associated with it?  Here’s the honest truth.  I don’t like the message.  I was disappointed that the movie didn’t portray more positive role models who, though may have made mistakes, overcame and learned from them.  Grease had the potential to end with an uplifting message to the youth to be strong and hold firm to their moral values.  With all of the teenage troubles that were touched on, aside from Frenchy’s return to high school (YAY for school is cool!), there was not one scenario where the boy or girl chose to do the right thing.  In today’s society, teenagers struggle every single day.  They are faced with same, if not even more, moral dilemmas than the kids in Grease did.  Teenagers will likely encounter similar situations and will naturally make mistakes, it’s part of life’s learning process.  But what the movie failed to do was teach about consequences and accountability.  Instead, it glamorized the idea to easily give in.  Sandy gives in to her “friends”.  Rizzo gives in to Kinickie’s broken condom.  Danny gives in to Cha Cha’s seductiveness.  Sandy gives in to Danny.  The list is endless. 
I’ve had some time to evaluate and self-reflect on the film’s effect on me as a teenager.  I recalled some of my own teenage, actual played-out scenes.  What I have concluded is that of course the movie had an impact on me.  I idolized Sandra Dee.  I used her example as a moral gauge several times and in several relationships.  There were moments when I tried to become someone that deep inside I was not, all to please the desires of the boy-du-jour that I never got, or to try to fit in with the popular crowd, which I never quite could.  To be completely transparent, I recognize that I still fall prey to that every now and again, even as a thirty-something woman who should know better, thus proving that it sometimes takes a lifetime to overcome negative impressions learned from one's youth.  What I desperately needed during those tender years were more examples of strength and courage.  Grease had an opportunity to provide its viewers with a “light at the end of the racing tunnel” but instead it morally crashed and burned.  Sandy and Danny could have decided to accept each other as is and refuse to allow outside opinions to influence their relationship and who they authentically were and wanted to be.  What a wonderful triumph it should have been if Rizzo had have taken her pregnancy scare as a gift from God- a second chance to love herself more than to recklessly give her body away so easily.
Although I still find the casting and acting to be fantastic, the overall moral character of the movie is offensive to mommy me.  As such, although I will always fondly remember Grease as one of the favorite movies of my youth, mommy me cannot condone or recommend it to either my children or grandchildren in the future.
“Oh look kids!  Sixteen Candles is on!!!”…
Kidding.   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Effortless

I love the kind of friend who thinks your weaknesses are some of the most adorable things about you!  I want to kiss and hug a friend who you never feel like you have to defend yourself to.  I adore the one who understands that I have excessive amounts of imperfections and accepts that I will, almost every hour or two, make tons-o-silly mistakes.  And I just want to throw my arms around them when they hold a white-knuckled fist up to anyone who tries to use my follies to unfairly define me.


Of course a true friend tells you when you are in the wrong.  But how rare a person who can let you know when you are mistaken without totally stripping you of your awesome pants-- even though you almost always prefer to wear a dress these days. 


A selfless friend cheers you on even when you are running towards the wrong goal because they see how ridiculously determined you are!  When everyone else is booing you for losing the championship game, that friend throws you over a set of steady shoulders and rushes you to your favorite chocolate store!  The entire drive is full of laughter instead of tears because your friend has perfected the art of drawing out your "oh well, what's for dinner?" attitude.  By the end of the night you are smiling miles while spouting off all your goals for the year like, "I want to walk through walls" to which you receive the response, "if anyone can find a way to do it, it will be you." 


A friend remembers everything you say because their ears are perfectly tuned to pick up the sound of your voice.  Magnification is their super power as they seem to view you twenty billion times better than you think you are.  Ohhhh...and how gracefully they practice their stubbornness when they refuse to allow you to stumble over something that is far, far behind you.  And then they pull you up with their pinky like the hero that they are! 


I've been oh-so blessed with a rare collection of friends who have been the best examples of this kind of unconditional friendship.  They may never understand how administering compassion has deeply affected me throughout my life. 

As a child I didn't always know my worth.  I was shy and quiet.  I didn't have the confidence to do difficult things.  I feared failure which kept me from progressing socially and academically though I soothed my emotional needs with a pink pen and pages in a journal. 

 
In my youth, I often encountered people who seemed to delight in taking advantage of a soft disposition.  I can still hear the voices telling me that I looked like a boy, that I wasn't smart enough to accomplish all my lofty goals, and from the mouth of a very intimidating, ninth grade girl, "you're so damn ugly" every day in dance class.  Out of every haunting ridicule, I think being told "no" was the worst.  It meant that I wasn't even allowed to try.  By the time I was eighteen, I believed it all.  "Where's my hero?  Take me away!!!!!"


I know it was divinity that broke the chains that had been keeping me locked inside the constant echo of those words.  There were definitely powers at play creating the perfect storm of experiences that finally unbound me.  During that time I drew upon all of those examples of friendship.  I found strength in the amazing and wonderful men and women who saw in me what I wasn't seeing in myself.  Their love for me played a very important role in my life when I needed desperately to change my course.  I decided to take all the love that they seemed to effortlessly give me and apply it to myself.  I began to be my own best friend.  I started looking for the best in me.  I practiced being kind, compassionate, and easily forgave myself when I made mistakes.  I discovered my potential and let go of fear.  When I failed, I refused to let it be an excuse to never try again.  I began to make decisions based on what I wanted instead of what others might think.  To simplify, I loved me.

 
I came to accept that it is impossible to try and convince someone that you aren't something that they think you are.  No one has that super hero power.  But what everyone does posses is the ability to change the way they think about themselves, turning what others deem as negative into the best things about you.  Yes, I am an over thinker but guess what?  It won me a scholarship last semester.  Sure!  I am super sensitive but without overly sensitive people walking the earth, who would administer service?  I say awkward things sometimes and I share too much about myself but everyone knows they can talk to me about anything.  I have a wicked sense of humor and sometimes write too seductively...hmmm, I'll have to massage that into something positive later.  I have an excess amount of energy that drives others mad and every now and again I eat my weight in chocolate.  "Oh well, what's for dinner??"

Being a best friend to yourself allows you to be authentic. It doesn't matter how anyone else sees you because you know your absolute truth. Yes, we are all a constant work in progress so we must be patient with ourselves.  Be flexible and allow yourself to go through the refining process. After all, there is no one more important than you!

Enjoy being you.  Love you.  Become your most favorite person of all time in the history of forever!  I promise if you do, you will begin to see every other personality as gifts to be enjoyed.  You will lose the desire to criticize and judge and ahhhhhh...you will soften.  There is a bonus- a really super awesome one!  Practicing self-love and acceptance somehow makes loving others effortless.  Give it a shot. 
xoxo



 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bang

There is something so haunting about the sound of thunder.  The thrilling pound all around makes me want to

Friday, June 29, 2012

My Caboose!


I'm batches crazy about all three of my children, but tonight is all about Miss Bella.

Isabella Nicole Smith is my teeny, weeny baby - I still think she's three! Born on June 26th, 2001, she is my caboose and a cute one at that! Bella is all spunk! She loves animals more than people and if you don't particularly care for animals...well, then she won't be particularly fond of you. She is an amazing researcher and often writes reports just for the fun if it! There have been many nights where I have been up until midnight with her and at 12:02, when she is finally through, I ask, "now which class is this for?" and she replies, "oh, this one was just for fun."

Bella is an activist! As she learns more about environmental issues, we ALL become new (totally willing) members of her cause-du-jour. When she learned that the U.S. uses most of the world's energy resources, she insisted on changing every soft and flattering lightbulb in the house to those energy efficient ones. Our sacrifice? We all looked horrid and sallow until those bulbs finally gave out! When she found out that bottle caps are killing sea life, she made it her goal to collect every cap in the house (even prematurely) and have them all recycled. Our sacrifice? No caps on ANYTHING. You know what's fun about topless toothpaste? Nothing.

Bella has the driest sense of humor and can often out sarcasm the best of them! She is artistic, kind, compassionate, forgiving (to animals, the rest of you get only one chance to impress her), full of energy, intelligent, genuine, interesting, thought-filled, talented, nurturing, and is always quick to help! She loves to make faces at the camera (I don't know where she gets that from), is not easily embarrassed, and never takes her eleven-year-old life too seriously. She continues to amaze me and teaches me daily to be light and care-free! Happy Birthday, Bella! I missed you like crazy.

xoxoxo- Mama

Monday, June 18, 2012

Flightless Bird

One of the greatest blessings bestowed:


When you realize one day that something you never thought you would get over in this lifetime has suddenly become something that you haven't thought about in weeks, maybe months-- you can't even remember the last time. When the thought of it does come to mind it was because of a photo you came across, a quote you read, or a conversation that was brought up by someone other than yourself. You smile serenely, place your hand above your brow, and look to the heavens because it no longer tugs at your heart and you lack any desire to even entertain it in your mind. Unaware, you have become indifferent but not in a spiteful or careless way. You are absent of bitterness and lack any regret. You are completely at peace because you realize that you have finally moved forward though you never even felt your size sevens moving from under you. How incredibly miraculous that is!

Sometimes the only way to get beyond a challenge that doesn't seem humanly possible to is to pray with all your might for apathy. So often apathy is negatively associated with a lack of care but when it is sought after with good intentions, it can be received in a pure and peaceful form. God would have never created the feeling of freedom from all emotion if it didn't sometimes serve a purpose for good.  Apathy has the ability to mercifully recreate your most unattractive weakness into something much softer to look at.  If you truly desire, pray for it intently, and allow it to naturally occur, you will one day discover a new form.  It will have become a delicate canvas that lovingly displays to you just how wonderfully strong you are!  Apathy allows you to view the past as a series of beautiful scenes that inspire you to do good but no longer bind you to emotions that were falsely woven into unreality. You clearly see it as it really was.  When you come upon another reminder, you can sincerely smile, give a kind nod and a twinkly wink, and place your hand at your heart without feeling that tug as those size sevens continue to float (or dance or skip!) you forward. While you were once a flightless bird, you have now found your wings!  You are finally free to fly.

Now look at me go.

Peace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Last-Ditch

My silly mind does not recall much from my childhood, but the little bits and pieces that it does, my heart most certainly does cherish. Among those fond and dream-like memories sits one. Steel baby blues looking straight ahead. Shaky knees and wobbly elbows attempt to steady a set of handlebars as two wheels on a frame are being held up by the biggest, superman hands you've ever seen! Calm and comforting words are spoken in two little ears as the rubber begins to move along a quiet, tree-lined street. Two little Hush Puppy shoes push the pedals and a forward motion begins! Wispy blonde bangs blow off a freckled face and the touch of the sun warms her baby skin at take off! She hears the smile begin to beam on his face as he booms with pride! Her Dad, her hero...


Nearly thirty years later I find myself back on two wheels but this time it is much, much different. There are no superman hands holding my beautiful new white FELT frame up as I clip in and out of those super scary suicide pedals. It is absent of any soft, calming whispers in my ears, and thank the glorious heavens above that I have no gosh awful bangs blowing off my sun-kissed forehead. Even if I had a set of wispy cuts, they would be swooped up and slicked underneath a helmet, which by the way looks awkward on any head - especially mine. What was my cute little mama thinking when she cut those bangs? This full, freckled face was meant to be framed by long, sweeping fringe, not a mid forehead hedge! Oh well, it was 1980 so I will forgive my sweet, well-meaning mother and her novice Scissorhands.

This time I'm flying solo, learning a new sport on my own and can I just tell you? It hasn't been the most seamless process, and I haven't always been the graceful butterfly that I have always pictured myself being but I'm totally getting it! I'm learning some very important things like how wearing my over sized Jackie-O sunglasses might not be the best choice of eye wear for high speeds and killer head winds (she says as she peels an icky sticky bug off her steel blue), or that switching three gears at one time might make the chain lock up. But the silver lining in that experience was that it gave me an opportunity to ask the bike shop guy what these gears on the left do. "You mean there's more speeds??? YAY!!!"


So, am I ready for 100 miles tomorrow? Well, it's supposed to be stormy and cold but since I would never deny the skies to cry their happy tears, I refuse to pray for no rain. I could worry that a tire might pop or that another big, black, buzzzzzing horsefly will fly into my chest again and cause me to panic but noooooo. To be quite honest I'm not afraid of anything because I'm doing this for my Dad. You see, the memories I have from my childhood that I DO remember might be few, but they are oh-so special to me. My Dad was my biggest fan. He always thought that everything I did was something amazing and wonderful. He was also the most giving man I knew, and it wasn't just that he was so generous with his family. If anyone was ever in need the answer was always YES! I don't think I ever heard him say no. Not as a father, not as a bishop, not as an employer, not as a friend, not even as a stranger. If it was important to you (meaning anyone) it was important to him. I love, love, love that about him. I can't think of any other way to honor him than to try my best to help save the precious lives of others. Just like him, I will do it til the day I die.

iRide
For Quinton- to make his disease a curable one.
For Helen- a woman with heavenly wings and an angelic disposition.
For John- because he raised such a giving daughter.

And iRide for him.


What did I tell you? My awkward stage goes on and on and on...

Now, as a last-ditch effort (for this ride!), I ask that you pretty please click the link below.

http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/UtahArea?px=7609381&pg=personal&fr_id=8081

xoxoxo
Stephanie

Friday, January 13, 2012

Big Hair Lessons

I will never forget being fourteen.  It was the first time I fell madly, truly, deeply in la,la,love, the first time I traveled away without my parents, the first time I allowed my tender heart to break, and the first time anyone has ever held a ruler to my hair.  Say what?  Yes, it is true.  In the days of big hair and even bigger shoulder pads, my sweet "just have a little steak" mother set a very firm rule with her second, look-like-an-eighteen-year-old daughter.  The law laid was very understandable and quite necessary.  My hair was only allowed to be a wee three inches high.  My mother's dainty little hands literally took a sewing ruler, whose movable red arrow was permanently set at three inches and carefully measured my blonde, Aqua Net bangs-to-heaven hair every morning.  OH!  And how could I forget about rule #2?  No more than two shades of eyeshadow could be worn at any one given time.  Shoot!  Because I preferred three.  Blue, green, and of course pink, spread across my baby-skinned eyelids, from lash line to brow in solid, horizontal blocks.  Yes baby, it was hot.

My silly little mind has been thinking about those tender teenage years quite a bit lately.  A picture that my daughter posted on facebook of her beautiful and amazing self with her kind and sensitive beau reminded me just how innocent those years really were.  When I saw it, I had one of those "in reverse" moments and so I penned her a quick message and hoped some of the wisdom that her mother gained from her youth would somehow touch and resonate with her.

There were many times during those years that I felt the strains of restriction.  I grew up in a home with very loving parents and the best three brothers and four sisters that in total made us a commodity to most.  My father was the hero and my mother was a saint.  They did their very best to raise us with love and taught us every good and worthy thing that a saint and a hero could expose without being transfigured within the blink of an eye.  But because I was a teenage girl, I often felt the same growing pains that every young lass will naturally feel.  I believe it was at four plus ten that I wholeheartedly began a journey of self discovery that will continue until the day I die.  There are times when I get caught in reverse, stand still a bit too long on a single red brick along the rose-lined path, run ahead a little too fast too soon, or even stumble and fall because I tend to get distracted and forget to watch my step.  We are all on our very own personal path to progression but the secret, my friends, is not that we continue to move forward, though that is the goal.  No, no.  The real secret is understanding that we all move at our own pace.  Let us forgive each other when we don't quite make it to the next pit stop in time and cheer each other on no matter how far back in the distance they may appear to be from us.  Besides, they are most likely closer than our beautiful and twinkly eyes can judge.  Often times we think we are looking back at someone when, in fact, we have become so turned around ourselves that what seems to be behind us is actually right in front of those bright and sparkly eyes!!  How much faster can we travel when we are not heavily burdened with a million and two eyes watching and whispering about our every move?  And how much lighter will we feel when someone graciously forgives our silly mistakes because they realize how many sillier mistakes they have made themselves.  Yes.  Understanding and forgiveness is the secret.  Hmmm...I think I have just created world peace.  Where is my tiara?  Pretty please make it out of flowers, not gold.

Looking back I am so thankful for the experiences in my life that have lead me to this place in time.  A mother of two brilliant, wonderful and amazing teenagers and a ten year old who listens with bright eyes and a smirky grin as we discuss the wins and woes of these tender teenage moments in time.  As I share a few of my own, may your memories be sparked with your own experiences.  Allow them to be what they are and find the silver lining lesson because each and every one has that hidden message that was meant just for you.

I'll begin a bit before ten plus four...

Not being able to go out to play in the rain may have threatened to teach me to contain the need to entertain but instead I learned how to daydream.  The intoxicating sound of the pitter patter on the window taught me to romanticize life to the most enchanting rhythm.  But how much more enchanting a childhood is when one is allowed to play in the puddles?  If I have to push them in myself, my children will play in puddles. The rain is at the tippy top of my favorites list and the days that the desert is blessed with moisture are the days when my favorite day dreamy moments come back to mind and I melt in to my own puddle.  Ahhh...and play there for a while. 



Having silly (and not in a good way) women judge me according to my appearance and actions may have brought tears to my blues, but it ever so gracefully taught me exactly how to love a teenager unconditionally.  PS- Misjudge my someones?  Go on.  I dare you.  But do remember from a previous post that I know Tae Bo and I have a short list of people you can dial that will verify and testify to you that my uppercuts and back kicks hit wicked hard...

#1. Billy Blanks
#2. Johnny Mayer  PS- I love-hate you.
#3. You know who you are

My saintly mother had the best intentions when raising her own five Bennett daughters.  Like one of my favorite, most spirited Jane Austen characters, Mrs. Bennett wanted so badly to marry her daughters off and my mother had the same domestic desire for us.  Getting an education was not a priority taught in our home because motherhood was much more important.  Oh how I agree that motherhood is the highest calling and one that should be valued more than any other.  But an educated mother can be such blessing in her home and a fabulous asset to her children and husband.  Not having the opportunity to experience college life in my youth is not something I regret.  On the contrary!  While it would have been so much easier to have accomplished that very worthy goal before I began having my blonde haired, blue eyed babies, I have gained one of the most beautiful realizations about myself.  I can do very hard things.  Taking five classes while running a household is not a piece of vegan carrot cake but guess what?  I can do it!  I may have to sacrifice my goal of being valedictorian so I can still get at least a silver star (okay, so on most days it is the bronze) on my mommy chart at the end of each day but I can do it.  Most importantly I can teach my children that THEY can do hard things and that the ones they fear the most are those they should always attempt.  Even if they fail at the first try, there is always tomorrow to start over again.  Nothing is ever as hard or as scary as we make it appear.     

Loving someone so much but feeling like it all went to waste taught me that my heart is really my own.  I can share it with you if I choose, but you never get to have it.  Not even a little piece.  No...not even a little sliver.  One's heart is much too valuable to simply give away.  Sharing it is the most sacred gift you can give to someone else but reserving all rights to it is the most precious gift you can give yourself.  Your heart is what keeps you in existence.  It belongs to you and your Maker alone.  You can not give it away or you would cease to survive, therefore you can only share it with those who you choose.  Love is what you create it to be, but remember it is you that has created it and therefore you can make it be whatever you wish it to be.  So you see, as a fourteen year old girl, I thought my heart had been broken.  At sixteen I thought it had been shattered.  At eighteen I thought it was dying a thousand deaths.  But it really hadn't.  It is still there and I am still alive.  I can move on and recreate love as I wish.  I can live with no bitterness towards those who didn't want to share it and play nicely anymore.  We all have our bad days and a little space and time has the potential to heal every deep cut wound.  So if they are ever ready to play nicely again, I can smile, wink, throw my arms around them and come out to play again!  Childlike forgiveness and love is my favorite thing to witness.  The silver lining?  Need I say more?  Because I can almost ALWAYS say more so I will because it is my blog and I can write to my heart's content!  The additional silver lining is that as a thirty something mother, I can hold my sixteen year old daughter in my arms as she sobs the first (and second and third and fourth) time that she feels that her heart has been broken or even worse, feels the pain and remorse that comes from breaking someone else's heart.  Again, I know and I understand.  Cry, my dear...just cry.  I will explain this all to you later.  And remind me to introduce you to water-proof mascara.

I have many more but I think I have shared enough for one day.  Like I said I could go on and on and on but I wish to leave you with this one last final lesson learned:

My mother measuring my hair every morning was a silly story but it also taught me something very valuable as I raise my very own angel faces.  If we don't allow our children a little permission to be them, they will one day rebel, as I have.  Yesterday was my quarterly cut and color day.  The inches that I lost off the bottom I rebelliously added as volume to the top.  I am a thirty something woman and I can wear my hair as high as I want now.  OH!  And I can paint on three shades of eyeshadow any day of the week!  The only difference is that I have a classier palette and I know how to blend them beautifully together to look like a Savannah sunset!  From lash to brow!! 

Now go and find all of your own little big hair lessons to share instead of making them bitter tragedies with no repair.  xoxoxo 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Second Wind

I am sure that those of you who have been reading Musings for a while have noticed that my sarcasm has been tamed and a more delicate, softer skin has been exposed. Perhaps it is because this year has been a very humbling one for me as I have gone through several trials. Most of them have been kept secret and sacred between Divinity and me but I have penned about them in a round about way nonetheless. Putting my thoughts and emotions to story is a very therapeutic and healing practice and I find such peace after writing a really good, heart felt, tear-filled tale!

Two silly reasons have kept me from speaking openly and uncoded about this one teeny tiny trial. I am always preaching clean eating and encouraging everyone to live a healthy lifestyle.  To give in and admit that I haven't been oh-so-well for a while feels a bit shameful. Second reason? I'm not a fan of the pity party so please refrain from throwing me one.

About a year ago I began to notice something different. I was used to having all kinds of endurance and stamina, being able to run 6-11 miles a day, hardly blinking a steel blue but all of the sudden I could barely make it through mile 4. I chalked it up to stress and tried to push myself through my workouts anyways but can I tell you something? It was torture. We all go through periods of time when our emotions suffer due to difficult times. I happened to be in that state and so once again, I minimized the feelings of uneasiness going on deep within my frame and ignored the red warning signs. I tried to get more rest and maintain my very constrictive clean diet, hoping that my body would snap out of its wicked bad state and feel normal again.

I visited a doctor in the Spring for a simple check up. My vitals were "that of a twenty-something athlete" so I left feeling like a child with a gold star on her forehead, licking a giant, swirly Disneyland sucker! I think I was so distracted from the reflection of the sun on my gold adorned forhead that I forgot to ask him why those vitals didn't match how I felt. When relief failed to grace me in the next several months, I decided to visit a second doctor. During my first visit he took 19 vials of sugar-free Stephanie blood. He seemed to think that my adrenals and thyroid were unbalanced and put me on some homeopathic medication and a gluten-free (yuck) diet until the results came back. That naughty blood panel revealed several suspicious things, two threatened to break my heart and I may have shed a tear or two. Or three or four or five. Consoling my sobbing frame, my sweet and very compassionate doctor asked if he could do a second panel and lovingly placed a small card in my hand, encouraging me to dial the seven digits of a specialist. Eleven more vials were on their way to the lab and I was on my way to Baskin Robbins to binge on Quarter Back Crunch with a box of lotion-laced tissues...but then I thought better of it. It wasn't even football season yet.

I set many goals this year, one being a return to college. I began with a desire to study pre med in hopes to become a pediatrician but I have since realized my limitations and the kind of stress that medical school would likely put on my body as well as my sweet little family and am choosing a different path, one that I can be equally as passionate about. Besides, how many people would come see a homeopathic pediatrician when insurance refuses to cover it? I would brake poor Mr. Smith's bank because I would treat all those sweet angel faces for free! He would never leave me over it but would be frowning. A lot! Another promise I made to myself was to live to be 103. Why 103? Because it is oh-so cute to say and rhymes with a gleeful Weeeee! It is still my goal and to be honest without sounding braggadocios, I have never set a goal that I haven't seen through. Except for one but that was completely out of my control and was made as a silly teenager who thought she could wish upon the stars and they would naturally align, just for her.

The results were confirmed in those 11 wicked vials. By then I was at peace with the findings and after discussing my diagnosis with Mr. Smith, whom by the way is the only one who knows everything because contrary to how candid I am here, I can be a rather private person in regards to certain things, I decided to not see that specialist. (That's a total run-on sentence, isn't it? Did it even make sense?  Oh well.) Mr. Smith is also the only one who knows everything because he is the only one who would support my decision to live in denial. Well, it really isn't denial, I'm just not interested in knowing how bad my condition is or receiving treatment or medications. While to some my choice may seem irresponsible, I have always felt that if I ever got really sick, I would never take medications or receive treatments anyways. I have seen others choose that road, which I do not judge nor do I criticize but my silly brain wonders if disease grows more rapidly and bodies deplete more quickly once one begins down that road. I would rather not know and just live my daydreamy life. I am not doing nothing, though. I have researched natural alternatives and put into place the practices that I have learned through the many years of reading about alternative medicine. I am taking several oils and supplements and my symptoms have subsided, perhaps I am even in a state of remission. I continue to do my best to eat a clean vegan diet although I admit I have given in to the whole "eating for reckless comfort" thing since I lost my hero Dad in November. Now, before anyone tries to say "See, maybe a vegan diet isn't so healthy after all" (like Mr. Smith and my cute, "just have a little steak" mother have), my doctor has made it perfectly clear to me that I would be in a much worse state if I hadn't been eating the way I do and taking care of my health the way I have. This trial comes from my Heavenly Father who knows me individually, loves me unconditionally, and has the faith in me that I can straighten out this one small wrinkle and become stronger in the process. It was not given to me as a punishment from abstaining from meat and animal products nor anything else I have done in my life.  Anyone who thinks differently is batches crazy. 

What a blessing it has been for me to rely on and apply my Savior's Atonement this year. He not only takes away the pains that come from sin, but He also makes me strong and heals me both spiritually and physically. And PS- He has blessed me with the stamina to be able to run a little longer and a little bit faster each day. I feel his constant presence and recognize that He is the force behind me. It is because of Him that I can find my second wind.

Because of my experiences this year, which I actually consider great blessings, I love much deeper, judge more softly, and live much more fully. My relationships with you all are very near and dear to me. I cherish your friendships and admire every little, finely woven detail about you. I just want you all to know and always remember that.

My wish for you this year is that you will continue living clean and in good health, cherish every moment you have with your favorite someones, and laugh to your heart's content. May you all find peace and hope to be able to endure your own personal trials through our Savior's promise. You can do it! Swoosh!

Remember, no pity parties.  Just smile.  I am wonderfully well!
xoxoxo-Stephanie