Saturday, October 31, 2009

Take Risks, But Take Advice Too

My mom is a fabulous cook. I mean really, just stellar. Everything she makes is delicious, and her dinners are these beautiful spreads of food that rarely all fit on the table.
I remember one year when we were making pies for Thanksgiving and the dough wasn't quite right. Something about the way my mom just knew exactly how to fix it made me start to think about how many things I didn't know - not just about cooking, but about everything that I was going to need to learn in my life. It was kind of an overwhelming feeling, standing there with flour on my hands, wondering how I would ever figure everything out.
To continue the cooking metaphor for life: here in Indiana I'm in a dinner group, so I only have to cook once every two weeks, but when I do, I always want it to be really good. And it's funny, because I find myself using some of my mom's recipes, but also trying new recipes that I've never tasted before just because they look good. I don't always know how to fix things, but it does seem like they usually turn out somehow, and sometimes it's really good, if I do say so myself. (I'm getting to it. Don't worry.)
I've been thinking about the difference between the timid pie-maker of a few years ago and this new person who decides that tackling chicken tikka masala and pumpkin rolls is a good idea, even if it totally flops, and here are my conclusions:
  1. When you need to do it and you decide it's going to work, it usually does. Sometimes I'm sure I'm going to end up with something horrid on my hands, but it always seems like everything is okay at the end, even if the potatoes are ten minutes behind the pork chops. The trick is to assume you can do it and then just do it. But . . .
  2. . . . it's always okay to ask for advice while you're trying to figure it out. Most of my recipes are on my computer because my mom emailed them to me, or they're on the internet because I found them on some cooking blog. This means that early on I started IMing my mom while I was cooking to see if she thought things would work. Sometimes she steers me back on course and sometimes she just gives me some affirmations and moral support, but it's always helpful to get her feedback while I try to make things work. (This is especially true of the times when I don't actually have a recipe, just a vague idea of what's supposed to go in it. She's like an interactive recipe.)
The take-away: There are lots of things we do that we've never done before, and sometimes it seems like we'll never have it as together as the people around us. There's too much to learn! How do we pick up all of those rules about not covering the broccoli because it keeps it from turning yellow? (Not to mention, you know, how do I pay my taxes and how do I live on my own or deal with apartment managers or maybe someday take care of a baby?) And do we really have to go through a disaster every time to learn them all? No. I think the key to success in whatever you're doing is two-fold.
First, be confident and assume that you will figure it out and that any disasters will be fixable.
Second, avoid many disasters by not being afraid to ask for advice.
It's a strange combination that sounds like cocky confidence coupled with timid humility, but I like to think of it as something more like resourcefulness. Solutions will present themselves to you and you will figure it out. But if you're smart enough to realize that your resources can include spending time on the phone with your mom, your dad, your sister or your friend, either to get advice or to give your confidence a boost, the first try might skip dry, burned or too salty and go straight to tasting deliciously sophisticated. (Or it might not, but either way you tried.)

Halloween Lovelies

Have a fun and happy Halloween!





Images made with Wordle.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Guest Post: Lori

Lori was one of my good friends in high school, and I saw her a lot because we were in marching band together, had most of the same classes, and even got our first jobs at the same movie theater. She is super smart and has an artistic flair in everything she does. Lori lives in Texas with her husband and two adorable dogs; she currently works for the American Heart Association but her passions include cooking, gardening, and writing. --Miri

For as long as I can remember in my adolescent life, I have had stage fright. However, one of my fondest memories of my childhood was a day that my parents took me to some kind of fair and I was volunteered to be the lead in an impromptu play. In my young and innocent mind, I remember being brilliant, but then my adult brain takes over and tells me that that couldn’t possibly be so. Why is it that as we get older, we start putting so much emphasis on what other people think? For me, it gets to a point where I am actually holding back so much I make myself miserable. My husband and I were at the Shops at Legacy one night when there was a cover band playing on the street. For the most part, except for a select few that I am insanely envious of (my husband being one of them), all the adults were sitting, standing with crossed arms, or completely ignoring the music. But the children were a different story, dancing and thrashing about, having a grand ol’ time. And as much as I wanted to, I could not bring myself to move to the music.

I probably gave myself IBS during my first year at college, because as a music major, I was required to play—alone—on a stage, very frequently. To this day I’m not sure how I had the nerve to do so, but these were some of the most frightening and gratifying times in my life. I remember the nights before trying to come up with reasons to get out of the performance (breaking my own finger being one of them!). I also remember breaking out in a cold sweat right before I went on, trembling like that last leaf holding onto the branch for dear life before the barren winter takes hold of it. But then adrenaline and muscle memory takes over and before I know it, I'm playing my last note... and then, the beautiful applause. I would immediately start scrutinizing my mistakes, but as I look back on those performances I think, who would have known (other than my fellow flautists) that I had played the end note at forte instead of piannisimo?

One of my recent goals is to “speak” at a spoken word event at the Dallas Museum of Art. I’ve fantasized about doing so, and have even gone so far as to pick out a piece of prose to present. But just thinking about it makes my stomach flip. On the other hand, what kind of life am I living without experiencing stomach flipping events? Am I just taking the safe road through life? Perhaps these are the experiences that really define me as a person... and I'm sure in 40 years if I never take the risk I will sincerely regret it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lovely Links

Since we are a tad busy with awesome Halloween activities and such (as you should be too), here are a few links to peruse. Enjoy!

Check out these posters. I am in love with them (I am in love with most posters, actually).

I'm also generally a fan of affirmations, because it's just nice to be reminded of good things and to take a minute and calm down when life is crazy.

Have you heard of photographer Justin Hackworth? I stalk his site because I love his photos. They are so real and beautiful. He works on a project of his called 30 Strangers where he photographs 30 people he has never met. This year, the project revolved around mothers and daughters and the photos are gorgeous. Check him out HERE.

Ever have one of those days where you just can't bear to look at yourself in the mirror (of course you have, we all have). Well, next time you are feeling down, take a look at this little gem of a blog. SEXY PEOPLE. Then go out in public with the satisfaction that you never posed for this picture.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Red Lipstick

Thought I would share this little update in loveliness (with classic Lindsey poses of course):


I will have to practice with application...red lipstick is not as forgiving as chapstick and if you mess up enough it makes you look not so hot. But the way it makes you feel! Oh my! I felt saucy, friends, and it was just a normal day full of errands.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Have I Told You Lately...

We decided to try a little something different with this post (because we love each other so much) and share the responsibility of writing it (because we both have a lot to say). So please enjoy this experiment in group posting from Miri and Lindsey.

M: One of the best things you can do for yourself and the people in your life is just to tell them that you love them. It's easy to assume that our loved ones know they are loved, but why let them assume? "I love you" is something you can never hear too much, and sometimes we don't hear it enough.

L: I totally agree. I come from a very open family and an expressive make-shift extended family (my mom's best friends and all of their children). We weren't even really related and yet we treated each other like siblings. We hugged and held hands and told each other "I love you" all the time. And that sounds really weird written out but I don't care, it was totally normal for us. I never felt like there was no one I could turn to because we all expressed our feelings about each other.

M: I always felt like my roommates in college were a second family because we were always telling each other we loved each other. In my own family we never said it much growing up, but somehow while I was away at school my siblings started saying it all the time, and I still haven't gotten used to it. Every time one of them says "I love you" before we hang up the phone or go home, it's a pleasant little surprise. I know they love me and I don't HAVE to be told that, but it is so nice to hear it anyway.

L: I felt that way too once I met Jamie and moved into the Glenwood. Before that, I only had a few friends that I met when I moved to Utah that I felt that comfortable with. It was a major shock to me to not have that open relationship with roommates and friends...and it made me incredibly homesick. I still remember someone commenting how strange it was that I ended phone calls with friends with "I love you." It seemed so natural to me. Now that my family and the friends we grew up with are having families of their own, I can really see the effect that kind of expression has on everyone.

M: I also think an environment like that is a really great one to raise kids in, because they learn to express their feelings and not hold them in all the time. Nothing drives us women crazy like men who won't open up emotionally, right? And it's not just men who need to be able to do that. It's just an important thing for people to learn to express their emotions and not be ashamed of them. It can really hinder relationships if you aren't able to do that.

L: Exactly. Although, being around my nephews all the time, I appreciate it so much more when they volunteer an "I love you" or a kiss or a cuddle because it's so unexpected for a three year old boy to just stop what he is doing to tell you he loves you. It makes me proud of myself and my family for teaching him that just through example.

P.S. Are we the only ones who walk around singing this song? Because I definitely sing it a lot.

Be Someone (or something) Else

Don't worry, the title of this post is meant to be deceiving. We really do want you all to be yourselves. I'm just talking about Halloween.

I know it. I'm super attractive.

I love Halloween. It is my second favorite holiday (trumped only by Christmas) because it lets me dress up. I have always been a fan of dress ups. My next door neighbors had all sorts of dress ups and I'm pretty sure I wore them even when we weren't playing a game that required dressing up. Sitting watching a movie? Yeah. Of course I wore a fake mink stole and petticoat. Who wouldn't?

3/4 of Teen Girl Squad and a dead bride - I swear these are really good costumes and not just white t-shirts.

Now that I am an adult, I jump at any chance where I am allowed (even better, encouraged) to dress up and still be considered an adult (who is not crazy). I am happy to play dress ups with my nephews and niece and even happier to make things for them to play dress ups with. I start planning for Halloween months before, waiting for the perfect inspiration then gathering materials for a costume.

A Halloween masterpiece. Dyno Attacking an Angel with a Pumpkin.

I like to do something different each year so I don't get bored...and because I really like the "gathering materials for a costume" part. I like that part so much, I do it for my nephews as well (this year's costumes are "boy witch" and black cat).

Really, though, I love Halloween because it gives me the chance to step outside of my comfort zone. I hate stepping outside of my comfort zone when I know other people aren't doing the same thing. Halloween is the one day where I know everyone else feels and looks just as crazy as I do. It's refreshing and fun.

Need a costume for three? How about The Fates? That's us with Cleopatra and a Black and White film star. I made those greek costumes out of bedsheets and cheap dresses from the thrift store...by hand. We are all lucky they did not fall off our bodies while we were dancing, because that is definitely something I was worried about.

Also, fake eyelashes. Fake eyelashes are the key to any costume and the most important ingredient when trying to achieve Halloween loveliness. Try it out this year, I promise it is worth it.
Notice the luscious lashes? Fake. Totally fake. Also, amazing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Art Journaling


With Lindsey's "Be Crafty" post in mind, I would like to share something that I've just discovered with you. Mike and I are at Barnes and Noble using our laptops and the free wi-fi connection. Our usual tables in the cafe were taken when we got here, so we picked a spot in the back corner of the store, which happened to be in the middle of the crafts section. There I found the book that I would like to tell you about.

It's called Journal Spilling: Mixed-Media Techniques for Free Expression, by Diana Trout, and it is essentially a book on how to unlock your artistic side and be able to create things even if you don't know how. I think the blurb on the back explains it pretty well: "Go ahead--make a mess! There are no lines to stay inside of here. You're free to quiet your inner critic and spill color (as well as your thoughts) all over the page." In this book Diana Trout explains techniques and walks you through new experiments with paints, stamps, crayons, sewing paper, collages, carbon paper, gesso (whatever that is!) and all kinds of other things. She calls it art journaling, and there are beautiful pictures on every page of journal pages that she has done, including detailed descriptions of all the steps. She also has a blog where you can see a lot of the stuff she's done.

It first caught my attention because of the pretty cover, and then I picked it up because it actually looks very similar to something called giant

journaling that Megan, Lindsey, and I have all been doing for several years now. Giant journaling is called that because it is done in--three guesses--a giant journal. These are just 11x14 hardbound sketchbooks that you can get at Michael's. Anyway, the reason giant journaling is great is that you don't have to have any artistic talent to do it. (Aside from stick figures, the only thing I can draw is the rear end of an elephant. Don't ask where it came
from--I have no idea.) You can just put whatever you want on the page--photos, construction paper, scrapbook paper, magazine clippings, concert tickets, ribbon, yarn, paint, fabric, whatever. You can write like it's a journal, and you can decorate like it's a scrapbook, but without worrying

that you'll mess up the page. (I used to scrapbook, but it turns out total lack of artistic ability + almost OCD perfectionism = not conducive to working in a pretty scrapbook where everything just looks so permanent.) Anyway. We got the idea of giant journaling from a former roommate, whose family has done giant journaling for a while. They also have a blog where you can get lots of ideas, or you could always ask one of us. :)

So the moral of the story is, once again, get out there and create something. There are lots of different ways to do it; no matter what your strengths or weaknesses are, there is something you can do. You just have to find it.

Dove Evolution

A wonderful video I've had pointed out to me several times recently.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

Indeed, no wonder our perception of beauty is distorted: what we're seeing isn't even always real. So let's stop wishing for something we can't have and be happy with what we've got.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Post: The Supporting Role

So remember Julie? She got really into things after her last guest post and wrote a few more, so you get to hear from her again today! Enjoy!

Are you the girl who is always cast as the supporting actor? In sports, are you the one who passes the ball to the girl who makes the goal? At work, do you do the grunt work while your boss gets the recognition? For me it was music. I am an alto. Altos never get the melody line. They are seldom bold and recognized. They just support the sopranos who make the beautiful music.

I have 3 sisters, who happen to be the most amazing and natural sopranos. They get asked to sing solos all the time in church, at the Christmas programs….One played the lead in the high school play, another went on to perform in a prestigious college choir. They are splendid. And I am the mediocre alto. It is hard feeling like I am inferior; why did I not get the lovely soprano voice? Life is so unfair! I have talent and am capable, but why is there always some one better, or more visible to others than me?

It hurts to be the supporting role. How do I deal with my feelings? I have two options. I can work really hard to develop my talents to be the lead star, or I can believe I am good enough as I am. Sometimes there is room for improvement, like at your place of work or in your studies. Other times there is not. I wish I was recognized more in music but I can be happy knowing that my part is just as important as any other. Without the alto, there is no harmony. Music is more beautiful with two voices than one. My voice is needed. I do not need to be the star to enjoy music. I can love it just as I am.

You are you, love yourself. Believe you are needed, because you are. We all have our place. It may take time to learn to love your place in life, but YOU are worth it. We all are.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ugly Duckling

I have been taking care of my nephews this week while their parents work hard to feed all of us. They are 3 (almost 4) and 19 months. My youngest nephew really likes ducks, a growling quack was one of the first "words" he uttered. Last fall, I got a copy of the soundtrack from Hans Christian Andersen which has a copy of the Ugly Duckling on it:



We were listening to this song in the car (as we do pretty much every single day) and when it was over my older nephew said, "But I thought all the birds told him to go away." As I tried to explain the story to him, I realized it wasn't really an easy concept to explain. "Well, they did tell him to go away, but then he wasn't ugly anymore so everyone liked him." That just sounds wrong. Be pretty and everyone will love you? Awesome.

Obviously, I didn't explain it to him that way. I said something more along the lines of he wasn't a duck at all...he was a swan the whole time! It didn't really answer his question, but he was satisfied. The whole thing got me thinking about how much our immediate social circles can influence the way we feel about ourselves. Our families and friends and coworkers can have such a lasting (and sometimes devastating) effect on our self esteem and our well being. I have known people in the past that made me feel like less of a person, people who made me question my worth simply by living their own lives. Our backgrounds, personal beliefs, decisions and individual insecurities can easily plant that little seed of self doubt in the people around us. It works both ways.

I don't really think there is a way to protect yourself from this type of thing. I think it is human nature. The only thing you can change and work on is yourself. You can work to be more perceptive. Remind yourself that everyone is different and what works for them may not work for you and that is okay. It's better than okay...it's what makes us unique and beautiful and lovely. You can work to be more encouraging to the people around you. Try to pay attention to when they need a pick-me-up or just a smile. Sometimes it is hard to push aside your own worries (they can be so demanding), but it is definitely worth it.

How Lovely to be a Woman

Megan's post yesterday reminded me of this song:



It is from one of my favorite movies, Bye Bye Birdie. I love it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1ilu-ARtiY

National Love Your Body Day

Apparently it's National Love Your Body Day! Who knew? Here's what it's about:

For years now, advertisers and fashion magazines have airbrushed photos to turn models into the latest beauty ideal. Women and girls are constantly bombarded with these artificial images -- fantasies they can't possibly live up to in real life.
That's why the NOW Foundation is celebrating its 12th annual Love Your Body Day on Oct. 21. This campaign is a giant shout out to the fashion, beauty, diet and advertising industries: No more fake images! Show us real women, diverse women, strong women, bold women. And to the women and girls who are targeted by messages telling them that the key to success and happiness is manufactured beauty, we say: It's okay to "Be You" -- the true you is beautiful.

Check out the website, and remember--you're beautiful the way you are!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enjoy Being a Girl

I have four brothers, which I may have mentioned before. And let's be clear here - my brothers are AWESOME. Really, they are.
See?

However. For me, there was something about being the only girl that made it hard for me to embrace all girliness - or at least to openly embrace it. Sure, there were dolls and tea parties (many of both) and lots of pink and all that, but I didn't want my brothers to know that I thought girly thoughts - had crushes on boys, liked chick flicks, wanted to wear makeup, etc. (I'm pretty sure they figured out that I liked these things anyway, but when you have four brothers you either learn to deal with teasing or you try to avoid being teased - usually a combination of both.)
And to some extent, I convinced myself that these things were true. I'm still not very open about having crushes, I don't love chick flicks and don't admit to loving all of the ones I do, and I still pretend that I don't love putting on makeup every morning. (But can I be honest? Except when I'm running late and wish I didn't care about what I look like without makeup - which is a topic for another post - I love putting on makeup.)
But the truth is, I love many things about being a girl in the very stereotypical sense. Sure, I still have a tomboy side and a feminist side and all kinds of other sides, but I also really love giggling and accessorizing and playing dress up. I offer the following proofs:





I guess my point here is this: you can be whatever you want to be. You can be whomever you want to be. But never let perceptions about what you should or should not be force you to miss out on being something you would enjoy (especially when those perceptions are silly and carry over from not liking to be teased when you were 8). Don't think you can't be silly and squeal just because someone makes fun of you for it, because secretly -- they love it and wish they felt comfortable enough to squeal. And keep in mind that squealing doesn't have to be your thing - but finding exactly what makes you happy and enjoying it does.

Guest Post: Vampire Teeth

I have known Hayley since high school. We are members of the same church and saw each other at a lot of activities, although she would tell you I was a snob back then (not true) and I would tell you that she forgot my name when I went up to say hello to her before class in college (totally true). We both would tell you those things because they make us laugh at each other and ourselves. Hayley is now married to a great guy named Jerry and is the mother of a beautiful little girl (with another baby on the way!). She works hard to help provide for her little family and she does a great job. She is one of the strongest women I know. Enjoy!

In the last few weeks I’ve thought a lot about how much we view ourselves as imperfect. We, as women, are never satisfied with who we are--how we look, how we act, and how we are viewed by other people. According to statistics, 4 out of every 5 women in the US are unhappy about their appearance. That’s 80%!!! An estimated 7 to 10 million women have eating disorders--all of it because we grossly exaggerate our flaws. We all have things we dislike about ourselves. Me? Well, let’s start with a brief history.

I started to have bad acne in about the fourth grade. Add to that large glasses in the fifth grade, and an unusual amount of body hair around the seventh grade, and things tend not to mix well in socially horrific middle school. People called me “Hairy” instead of Hayley, and to this day I shave my arms and upper lip all due to the self-consciousness I’ve carried with me since then. I allowed other people to dictate how I felt (and feel) about myself. I’ve had a “ghetto booty” since around the eighth grade, and I absolutely abhor buying jeans because I have to get them to fit my butt first, not my waist. Even through my years of training for swim team and my black belt in TaeKwon-Do, I hated that I weighed more than most of my guy buddies simply because I was built to be muscular, and not thin.

Oh, and I have vampire teeth. :)

So there we have it. Flaws. I have them. You have them. And you know what? I’m learning to love them!

We live in an era of "if you don’t like it, fix it." As the mother of a two and a half year old, with another child on the way, I find myself wanting to set a better example. I love when my daughter is getting dressed and she says, “I so pretty!” And I hate that the older she gets, the more she’ll doubt that statement. I’m saddened when I hear a gorgeous woman in my ward tell me that one day she wants a lift and a tuck. Why does she need those things to be “more beautiful”? Wouldn’t she be more lovely if she learned to be confident with the way she is now?

In the post “
Something for Everyone,” a magazine article is quoted on why men love women’s bodies. How many of them say that they love the confidence their women exude? It’s so much sexier than just getting implants! In order to provide a better example I find myself realizing I need to learn to love my own flaws. I need to be comfortable in my own skin--not my adapted skin. I find myself looking in the mirror in the mornings with this lovely flair up of acne during this pregnancy and I say, “Well, I’ve looked worse.” It might not be, “Wow that zit is sexy!”, but it’s a start. I find myself proud of my stretch marks and of the saggy boobs that I have EARNED as a mother. When I’m old, I hope and pray I have long gray hair that I will earn as a mark of the knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained in my years. I also hope and pray that my daughter will always know she is beautiful, even on her worst day, because she is my daughter and a good person.

And so, in honor of that, I want everyone to think of all their flaws and figure out which one is their favorite. What makes you uniquely you? What is your favorite flaw? While we shouldn’t necessarily focus on how we look physically, we should learn to love the way we physically are. Yes, we need to be healthy, and yes, sometimes that means we need to change ourselves in habit and thought, but we need to learn to love ourselves at our best and at our worst. My favorite flaw, you ask? It’s my vampire teeth.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Buttons!

Hello lovely friends!

We've had a few requests for blog buttons from some lovely people who want to promote this idea on their own blogs. We love your enthusiasm! Your requests have been heard (or anticipated!) and now, thanks to my fabulous sister-in-law Linda, we have several options for you to choose from. (By the way, Linda does amazing work. Check out her awesome website, VisitingTeaching.net.) We think these buttons based on Lindsey's design are absolutely beautiful, and we're so grateful to Linda for taking the time to create the buttons and the code for us, as well as for hosting the images on her website for us. We truly would not have been able to pull it off without her.
By the way, the ones at the bottom with the blue circles in the background will show up see-through on your blog, so whatever color is behind them will show through. Neat, huh?

Okay. So here's how it works in her words:

To display the button just copy all of the html code in the box below the button you want and paste it into your blog. Or in other words just add an html widget to your layout and paste the text in it! If you need to adjust the size of the button to fit your blog or site, just replace “200″ with whatever will fit best (something smaller or larger than 200 in both height and width - in case you aren't clear on that.)

Let us know if you have any questions and thanks for being so excited to share this idea with your friends!

Update: We now also have a button that matches the new blog template from Jerilyn Design. The rest are still the wonderful buttons created by Linda. 


On How to be Lovely Blog





On How to be Lovely Blog



On How to be Lovely Blog




On How to be Lovely Blog



On How to be Lovely Blog





On How to be Lovely Blog



On How to be Lovely Blog




Be Our Guest

Sorry to start the week off with a little blog business, but I think you will all enjoy this bit of information.

Remember our guest posts? Remember how much fun it is to hear from people other than Megan, Miri and me all the time? Remember how you are dying to write a post and submit it to this blog?

Well, my dear readers, don't be shy! We have heard from several people who want to write a guest post, but I also know there are many of you out there who don't want to invite themselves to the party (so to speak). Consider this your invitation. One of the most important things about this blog is hearing from everyone, all women, all ages. We want to read about your experiences. The possibilities are endless. Whatever you feel inspired to share, please do! Of course, there will be editing, but usually just grammar and spelling and such.

So here is the process. Whenever you feel so inspired, write a post in an email and send it to us (beinglovelyblog at gmail dot com). If you forget that email address, just look on our left hand side bar, it's there. Try to include a little bio (six-ish lines) so we know what type of information you would like to share about yourself and send us a picture. If one of us knows you and would have access to a photo and/or could write your bio then, by all means, trust us to take care of that part. Personally, I'm a control freak and pretty picky about my photos. If you don't have a particular topic you would like to write about, but would still like to contribute, please email us and let us know. If we need some input, we will contact you with a topic.

See how simple it is? Get writing, ladies! We can't wait to hear from you!