Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Break

Dearest Lovelies,

Due to circumstances that we will call "life," we're taking another little break. I'm both getting my Master's and getting married in the next 11 days, and Lin and Miri both have multiple projects they're working on - and then they have to come to my wedding! Miri asked if we wanted to announce a break about a week ago because none of us had posted, and then still . . . none of us posted. You can see the dilemma and the busy-ness.

In any case, we love you all, and we can't wait to start up again in a few weeks. In the mean time, if you find yourself with holiday guest post ideas or just regular guest post ideas, send them along!



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coping Mechanisms

So . . . my life is crazy right now (but only for 4 more weeks!) I'm planning my Utah wedding to my Texas-dwelling fiance from my apartment in Indiana while working three jobs and finishing the last semester of my Master's degree. I mentioned in my last post that I may have had one or two breakdowns. This week, I want to address my recently developed anti-breakdown coping mechanisms. I developed a plan for myself this week, and it was  . . . surprisingly effective.

Let me say first, that normally, I am not prone to this awesome breakdown-filled lifestyle. I am prone to stress, though, and when I have multiple things to be stressed about, it builds up to epic proportions that sometimes result in some wonderful meltdowns about really important things like the Netflix queue. Think of these as preventative emergency coping mechanisms. :)
  1. Identify what causes you to get worked up. What sorts of things are upsetting or stressful to you? How do they get blown out of proportion? If it's something solvable, make a plan to solve it. If you can't do anything about it, decide how you will deal with that too. (For instance, all semester, I've stressed quite a bit about moving to Texas, and people ALWAYS want to talk to me about it. I know it will be fine when I get there, but when I talk about it, I think about plenty of reasons why it might not be. I've finally started saying, "You know, I appreciate your excitement, but I can't think about this right now. Can we talk about something else?" That way, I avoid telling them about all of my fears - and dredging them up again for myself.) I spent this week shutting down internal and external conversations about the things I couldn't do anything about yet, and making concrete plans to successfully deal with the things that can be done now. 
  2. Identify what makes you feel better. I actually made a physical list last week of what makes me feel better when I'm upset. (Getting up for a drink of water. Going for a walk or a drive. Watching Pushing Daisies or Buffy or Doctor Who. Flirting with my fiance over Skype. Eating Oreos.) If I have a list of options in place, I know exactly what I should do when I feel myself starting to get upset, and I don't have to figure it out when my judgment is clouded by an overabundance of stress adrenaline.
  3. Tell someone calming about your stress and your plan to cope with it. Figure out whether there are ways this person can help you to stop the impending overload before it comes to tears. Having someone to talk your stress level down over ice cream is invaluable. 

You, too, can cope with your stress, whether it's finals or holidays or children or whatever other curveballs life throws at you. A little planning goes a long way.

Image source: http://www.wolfescape.com/Humour/WorkStress.htm

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Pavlovian Philosophy of Sex

Our dear friend Krissie posted a truly lovely article on Facebook yesterday, and I want to share it with you. It's quite long, but it's definitely worth reading to the end. Occasional skimming is acceptable if you deem it necessary--the important thing is the message.
I've come to realize something profound that I don't know if I've ever heard anybody actually say.
It is not the impossibly air brushed females on magazine covers who are causing women to hold themselves against a standard of perfection. No, it's not that at all. Holy crap. Why am I just realizing this? Why doesn't anybody seem to realize this?
It is the men that stop and look at those magazines.
And that simple, repeated act is how we constantly, and never-endingly declare to women that they are not good enough, and will never be good enough.
We stop, and we look.
And women notice.
This post is written with a pleasant freshness and honesty that will probably make you want to give the writer a hug at various points throughout; and, like it promises in the introduction, it presents some compelling arguments that will maybe make you examine your own life a little bit.

There was one particular paragraph that resonated with me more than the rest (which is not to say that the rest did not resonate). Please, it says.
Please. Let's stop ogling the very things that are causing this tragic mind game. Let's stop walking by the never-ending porn that surrounds us with our jaws dangling so carelessly. Let's stop salivating every time Pavlov rings his freaking bell.
It is the last sentence of this paragraph that strikes me, and I believe it makes a vital point: That essentially, we as a society have learned that the most important thing in life is sex.

In our feelings about sex, just like Pavlov's dogs, we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned. Women let themselves believe that desirability is the ultimate indication of worth. Men let themselves be taught that they are nothing but sex machines. Our society says we need to be sexy, so we try to be sexy. Society says something will make us sexy, so we try that thing. We'll even try to learn to have more confidence--not so we can stop worrying about something stupid, but because we've heard that confident people are sexy. This thinking, I'm sad to say, is truly warped.

The fact is that sex is a biological function. Its purpose is the propagation of species; it is a necessary and practical part of existence on this planet. Why, then, have we commercialized it, set it on a pedestal, and become obsessed with it?

We stress endlessly about the way we look; we spend thousands of dollars on makeup and workout systems and gym memberships and Spanx and liposuction and plastic surgery and lingerie and hairstyles and clothes. We know perfectly well that none of it means anything, but we do it anyway. We know already that none of those things will make a person healthy, that they are purely about appearance. But we buy them anyway, because more than almost anything else, we want to be desirable. We "know" that looks don't matter; we "know" it's what's inside that counts. We tell ourselves that we know these things--but time after time, our actions say otherwise. 

This is why I'm glad to have read this article, and why I have posted it here for you all to read. It's time for us to stop conditioning ourselves, and let Pavlov go find something else to do. It's time for us to remember what's important, and--for once--to actually act on our knowledge. 

And finally, finally--it's time to start ignoring the bells.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Little Fun for Your Monday

Just some lovely links to start your week off. Enjoy!

Ever lose your phone when there's no one else around to help you find it? No one to call your number so you can follow the sound of the ring? Now you can use this site to call. Get on the good ol' internets, type in your number and resume your search.

Megan and I recently went on a hunt for punctuation jewelry. If you know any of us, you won't think that is odd, in fact you'll be just as excited as we were when we found this and this and this.

And just in case you were worried we weren't nerdy enough, check out Save the Words.

I posted a quote from this blog (kissssing) last week, but it's quickly becoming a new favorite blog so I'm sharing it again. I love the old photos of couples and the quotes and this photo had me laughing like a lunatic for longer than was needed.

Finally, there's this video. Mostly because it's the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Help a blogger out...

Just found out The Sleepy Time Gal was nominated as a favorite mom blogger on babble.com! Click over to babble and vote for Nicole (our fabulous guest poster from last week) and show her some support. She is number 79 (or was last time I checked) and on the second page of the list.

Good luck, Sleepy Time Gal!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things Change, Jo

I just went to see the opera Little Women by Mark Adamo. It's one of my favorite stories, and I loved seeing it done in a new way.

I've always loved and identified with Jo March, although I thought it was because she was a tomboy who liked to write. I've never thought of myself when I saw the way Jo avoids change - until I watched this version. 

I realized as I watched the opera that I am more like Jo in this way than in any other. I hated leaving high school, having roommates and siblings move out or get married, graduating from college, moving to Indiana - because all of these things meant something would never be the same. Ever. With each change, I lamented how perfect things had been before and wondered why things had to change, why people had to leave, why I had to move on. Then eventually, I'd adjust to the change and believe things were perfect again until the next adjustment. Ultimately, I think the anticipation of change is worse than change itself.

I've been thinking about this even more than usual lately. I'm graduating in December, getting married a week later, and moving to another new state a week or so after that. I'd be lying if I said there hadn't been breakdowns. I've panicked about the move. I'm sad to be leaving Indiana and the friends I've made here, even though I can't wait for my relationship to stop being a long distance one. I'm overwhelmed when I think about going through the process of changing my name, even though I'm excited to do it. I think about how this will change the way I celebrate holidays and wonder what will end up changing about the way I do things on a day to day basis. In so many ways, it's both a great adventure and a terrifying jolt out of the comfortable, steady life I'm constantly trying to establish for myself.

I think if life let me have my way, I would stay in one place with my friends and family gathered around me in my little life, the way Jo wanted to. "We are perfect as we are!" I rail, just as Jo did throughout this opera. But it just wouldn't be true. Things change, and really I wouldn't want them to stay the same forever. I grow, I learn, and my life gets more interesting through change. And even though I always fear change will make it worse, just as often, it makes my life better. And when it doesn't immediately, I adapt, and eventually it becomes better because I make it so.  I can cope with change. I'm grateful for change.

Just don't expect me to admit it too often.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"Women wish to be loved without a why or a wherefore; not because they are pretty, or good, or well-bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves." -- Henri Frederic Amiel

found here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Have You Voted?

Oh loveliest of readers, have you voted today? There's still plenty of time if you haven't! Our system only works if we all participate in it, and what's more lovely than doing your part in your community? (Well... lots of things, probably... but it's still an important thing to do.) 

Don't let other people make all the decisions--your input is just as essential as anyone's. Make sure you're informed about your candidates, and do your part to support those you believe in.   It might even be the most valuable thing you do today.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Post: Nicole, Growing a Mother

Bringing twins into the world after already having two young children changed my life. Not in the way that you're probably thinking--not in a sentimental way, but in a fundamental way. Life = work, work = time, and time was incredibly precious and always slipping away.

All I wanted was more and more time, time to read to my older children who needed me, time to zone out, time to bake, time to stop time from moving forward. But life wouldn't slow down. Children wouldn't slow down. And so I had to choose: would I continue to fight or would I grow with life?

Each day I still choose. Growing with whatever is placed in front of me means I can lead a more peaceful, content life. It means I can live minute by minute and follow my heart to know what is most important each day. It means my children are understood more and penciled in less.

Accepting my lack of control over many things in life empowered me as a mother because I could focus on what I could control. Time became a blessing, a treasure to be used with thanksgiving with more awareness of the present.

The Sleepy Time Gal

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Motherhood Links

I don't know if you've noticed, but I love links almost as much as I love lists. There is just a lot of awesome stuff out there that needs to be shared!

Keeping in line with this week's theme, here are some motherhood related links:

First things first, if you aren't already reading Everyday I Write the Book, you need to fix that. Kacy blogs about whatever pops into her head, like advice on how to sleep on your face or helpful tips for not so good homemakers.

I recently became a fan of The Mom blog, blame it on CJane. Ruth blogs about her days with her children, but mostly about her daughter Davy who just had major surgery to repair a major cleft. It's sweet and real and touching and Davy has the most beautiful eyes on the planet.

Speaking of CJane, she just happened to write a guest post on Goodnight Moon about motherhood and Mormonism. She touches on some of our Mormon habits (Family Home Evening, Mutual, General Conference) and how those things work with being a mother. It's your normal, straightforward and funny CJane post. Enjoy!

Megan and her mom....and some really, really big trees.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spotlight: The Sleepy Time Gal

When I was in college and just starting out as an Art History major, I made a new friend, Nicole. We had several classes together even though she was further along than I was and I'm certain I wouldn't have passed some of those classes without her help.

When I met her, Nicole was dating Bobby. They were both funny and creative and fun to be around. They got married and I drove to their wedding in Pennsylvania. I visited them occasionally when we all lived in Utah and I'm trying to get a visit in to them now that we live close together again. Last time I saw Nicole, she had one gorgeous baby daughter. Now she has four daughters (including twins!) and she blogs about her awesome adventures with them.

I admire how her creativity has grown to accommodate her daughters and how she nurtures their individual creativity. It's even more amazing that she turns around and takes the time to blog about their activities when she could be catching up on sleep (which I'm sure must be a priority with four young children). Needless to say, I've always been a fan of Nicole and now I want to share the love.

Check her out on The Life and Times of The Sleepy Time Gal. She shares photos of her children and their activities, including the decision to start homeschooling. There are tutorials, tips, recipes and links to explore, all put together in a neat little package of a blog. You can tell she is having fun with her daughters every day - even on the hard days (because there are always hard days when you are raising children).

And stay tuned later this week for a guest post from The Sleepy Time Gal, Nicole.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Motherhood from my Perspective

I shared this link back in September when I wrote a guest post for my friend's blog, All the Sanity in Me. I'm recycling this post because it's relevant and, in all honesty, it took me forever to write it and I think it's worth two posts.

The reason it took so long, and I mention this in the post, is that I have a really hard time talking about my relationships with my nephews and niece and not getting sappy or long-winded or emotional. I'm fully aware that my situation as an aunt is not normal, but I wouldn't change it for anything on this earth. I've sacrificed a lot of time for them, but it was (and is) time well spent.

I think the point I was trying to make is that anyone can be a mother to anybody...it doesn't matter if you birthed them, what matters is the time and the dedication. What matters is the example you set, the lessons you teach and the unconditional love you give.

The Wisdom of Aunt Zizi

I have rewritten this post five times. Sixth is the charm, right? Mostly, it's just difficult to explain my situation without being long-winded, boring or sentimental. Heidi said, "Be funny, Lindsey!" I'm finding it hard to be funny on cue. I'm no dancing monkey, Heidi! Still, I'm going to try this one more time.

I'm Lindsey. There are oh so many things that define who I am, but one of my favorite things is that I am an aunt. Aunt Lindsey or Zizi, depending on which children are doing the name calling. I have always loved kids and all I've ever wanted out of life is to be a mother. I don't have my own babies yet, but I spoil the heck out of my sister and brother's kids. There are six all together, five boys and one girl, ranging in ages from 13 to 2 1/2. My level of involvement in each of their lives has varied over the years. I went from being the doting, teenage aunt to one opinionated toddler to the college attending, long-distance aunt who spoiled her three favorite boys despite money and distance to the live-in/caretaker aunt who gets to see her two youngest nephews grow up day by day. That's a pretty big spectrum, but I've loved every incarnation of aunthood that I've achieved.

When I moved home after college, my sister, brother-in-law and their oldest son (who was one at the time) were also living with my parents. I shared my room with the one year old, now that was an adventure. Needless to say, neither of us slept very well. A few years later (and the addition of another baby), I moved into a new house with my sister and her family. I was back home, without a job, nannying for my sister and whoever else wanted to pay me. Watching my nephews was one of the hardest and greatest things I've done in my life. Same goes for the decision to move in with them. It's so hard to balance being an aunt and helping raise these boys. I want to be the fun aunt 100% of the time, but life won't allow that. I'm also not their mother, so there are times when I can be the fun aunt and not feel guilty. I also get to make my sister change the dirty diapers, but that's mostly because I potty-trained her oldest son and I think she'll owe me forever for that one.

Now that you are all up to speed, here's the good stuff. A list (I'm a fan of lists) of six things I've learned about parenting from being a super aunt:

1. Chill out. Monkey see, monkey do. If you are stressed and high strung, your kids are going to pick up on that and your day is going to go down hill faster than a Jamaican bobsledding team. Put yourself in time out or learn some breathing exercises or distract yourself and the kids with something more fun and productive.

2. Baby wipes are amazing. I've used baby wipes once to clean crayon off of cream colored upholstery. I also use the same thing to clean my nephew's face and bottom. That seems off, right? But baby wipes keep my clothes and car free from sticky residue and stains so YAY WIPES!

3. TV is not the devil. Sometimes when you've been in a house all day with three screaming children under the age of 3, two of whom insist on being carried ALL THE TIME, the TV will become your best friend. If Yo Gabba Gabba provides me with 30 minutes of scream-free peace, then yes, TV is an angel sent from heaven.

4. Get the king size bed. It only takes one night of "sleeping" in a twin size bottom bunk with a wriggling 3-year-old to learn this very important lesson - and countless other nights in similar situations to burn this lesson into your brain for time and all eternity.

5. Build up a tolerance for waste. Children are adorable. They say the darndest things! They also pee, poop, cry, and throw up all over the place. It happens. And sometimes several of those things happen all at once. It's like a horror movie, only there's no crew man waiting off stage to come clean up the mess.

6. Enjoy the little moments. Sometimes days are bad. Sometimes, by the time you are sitting down to dinner, it's all you can do to keep from crying. That's when it's time to pay more attention to the little moments and try to focus on those. Things like how cute it is when your 2 year old starts dancing at the dinner table and eating his sandwich like a kitty cat or when your 4 year old actually sits down and eats every single thing on his plate without complaint AND asks for seconds. The more of those you find, the more your bad day will seem less bad.


We are dedicating this week to posts on Motherhood.

Since none of us are mothers yet, we are turning to our blog friends who are mothers. Look out for a couple of blog spotlights, a guest post and lots of links that will hopefully add some loveliness to your week.

My mommy and me circa 1986ish

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Conflict Avoidance ≠ Peace

Most people don’t like conflict; this is pretty much a fact of life. However, it is also a fact of life that no one can avoid it forever. Unless you are a mountain man living alone in nature, it is inevitable that at some points in your life you will butt heads with other human beings.

For the most part, trying to avoid conflict is a good thing. No one needs more drama in their lives, and it definitely isn’t healthy to seek out arguments with people. If you’re able to let go of the little things that irritate you, the ones that don’t really mean anything, you’ll be able to make your life much more peaceful.

But there are times when conflict avoidance is not the ultimate high road—when it is, in fact, the wrong road. No matter how much we hate to be involved in disagreements, the hard truth is that sometimes it is necessary. Communication is an essential aspect of relationships, and no relationship can be healthy when one person isn’t willing to acknowledge tension. To be healthy, not just as one half of a relationship but as a person, you simply must be able to express your feelings.

Sometimes people let others walk all over them because they don’t want to start an argument. Sometimes someone does something that really hurts us, but we don’t want to have a fight about it, so we keep silent. Sometimes we bite our tongues because we’re afraid of what will happen if we bring up the issue. These behaviors are incredibly unhealthy, and they lead to other unhealthy behaviors like gossiping and passive-aggressiveness (because everyone needs an outlet). 

When a person’s ultimate relationship goal is to never have conflicts, they are effectively giving other people total control over them. If you put yourself in a situation where, no matter what the other person does, you will not say anything about it, you are allowing that person to decide what happens in your life. This is a misuse of our personal freedom, and essentially puts you in an abusive relationship. We unquestioningly condemn physically abusive relationships, but I think that sometimes an emotionally abusive relationship is worse for the simple reason that you may not even know you’re in one.

Conflicts cannot be resolved unless they are talked through. You may think that you can just ignore something and forget about it, but the fact is that you probably haven’t forgotten about it by just pushing it away. All you’ve done is give yourself time to stew; the same issue will come up again later, and again and again, and each time it will cause you more emotional pain. If you want to overcome the problem, you need to address it.

Don’t let yourself be a victim in your relationships. If it becomes necessary to have an argument with someone, don’t think you’re doing anyone a favor by keeping silent and avoiding it. If you want to have healthy relationships with others and be at peace with yourself, you must learn to deal with conflicts. It’s a ridiculously hard thing to do—believe me, I know—but unfortunately it’s just a part of life, and it’s something we all must learn.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something Amazing

Look for something amazing today! 
(And tell us about it if you find it... That's kind of a given. :P)

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love this. Thank you, Doghouse Diaries.  

Also, does this remind anyone else of Batman Begins? "But it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you." :)http://www.thedoghousediaries.com/?p=2009

Monday, October 11, 2010

Desired Things

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Living Single

I am now the only single author of this blog (Megan's getting married, did you hear?), and I felt the need to write about it.

Turns out the internets want to teach me how to live life as a single girl. I keep coming across these lists detailing things that MUST be done while I'm single. Is the universe not-so-subtly trying to tell me that I should hunker down for a long, single winter? Thanks, Universe. I hate you.

I think most of the things on this list work just as well for someone who is not single, but whatever, you get what you get.

"Wallow in the ache of a broken heart" is not necessarily something I would like to aim to accomplish in my life, although I'm pretty lucky because I've done it twice already! Go me!

The advice to "develop a hobby" is well meaning, but could go horribly wrong. The internet has taught me this, and I trust the internet implicitly.

"Learn how to take care of yourself" and "be completely, utterly, wholly single for at least three months" are actually great bits of advice that I have used quite often when talking to friends. A lot of problems can be resolved or avoided when you know how to cook a meal or fix a toilet or wash your own clothes. Also, it's difficult to be yourself in a relationship if you don't really know who you are outside of a relationship.

So thanks, Internet, now I can live my single life to its fullest. What would I do without you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Philosophy of Life

One Sunday when I was in high school, a Sunday School teacher gave an object lesson involving a jar full of rocks. I found a handout from that lesson the other day when going through some old school things, and I was struck by how the simplest concepts can sometimes slip past us until someone points them out.

A professor stood in front of his class with a jar full of rocks. He held up the jar and asked the students if they thought it was full; they said yes. He took a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar, and they slid in around the rocks. The class laughed.

Then the professor picked up a box of sand, and as he poured it into the jar, the sand filled in all the empty spaces. 

"This jar is like your life," he said. "The rocks are the important things--your family, your partner, your health, your children--anything so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

image source
"The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, and your car.

"The sand is everything else: The small stuff. If you put the sand in the jar first, there's no room for anything else; but if you start with the rocks, everything fits.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your wife out dancing. Call your parents just to say hello. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the rocks first--the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Tested Beauty Tips

This poem was not written by Audrey Hepburn, as many an email forward has claimed; it was written by Sam Levenson, but the lovely Audrey quoted it often. (It does seem like the kind of thing she would say, doesn't it? And that is why we love her.)
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anybody.
source (and a lovely story)
Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
--Sam Levenson

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Talk to the Hand

I think it's fair to say that society has changed a lot in the last hundred years. We have technologies that our ancestors couldn't have been imagined, and the way we dress couldn't be more different. And hey, the word "society" doesn't even mean what it used to. Our language has changed significantly, and our behaviors have changed too. These changes have brought about great things like civil rights, suffrage, and the end of the old rigid class system; but we've lost a lot of good things in the transition as well.

A while ago I read a book called Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. It's essentially a rant about the loss of manners in the modern world by Lynne Truss, one of my favorite British writers, and I'm going to let her help me explain what I'm talking about.
"The utter bloody rudeness of the world today is about a lot of things... but I think what most dismays many honourable people is the way 'deference' has become a dirty little demeaning word, while its close relative 'respect' has become a cool street-crime buzz-word mainly associated with paying feudal obeisance to those in possession of firearms. Both words have lost their true meaning. Deference is not about lying down and letting someone put their foot on your head. It is not about kow-tow. It is about assessing what is due to other people on all sorts of grounds...
The crying shame about modern rudeness is that it's such a terrible missed opportunity for a different kind of manners--manners based, for the first time, not on class and snobbery, but on a kind of voluntary charity that dignifies both the giver and the receiver by being a system of mutual respect."
I've often thought that one reason it's so difficult to express your feelings when someone is grieving is that we simply don't use the right kind of language for it anymore. We don't say things like, "my condolences" in everyday speech, and maybe we don't try because we feel pretentious. But how much more simple would it be if people could just express their feelings without worrying about what words are acceptable?

I may have mentioned a book called The Four Agreements on this blog before, and in reference to this issue I've been trying to apply a principle from that book that says, "be impeccable with your word." One of the definitions of this is to "use your energy in the direction of truth and love;" to me, it means a few things:
  • that I don't say things I don't mean
  • that I am kind and careful with my words, because words have a lot of power and I do not want to use that power to hurt anyone
  • and, perhaps most of all, that I am honest about my feelings, and don't worry about what other people will think of them
Sometimes I think I was affected by public school more than I should have been. What I mean is that when I meet someone who is obviously not included in others' social groups, I still feel the temptation to avoid them myself; when I remember someone's birthday or college major or something they once told me about their mom, I want to pretend that I don't because it feels more cool to be aloof. I'm learning to stop this.

The world would be a much lovelier place if people could learn to respect each other and speak with kindness instead of cynicism. Life would be so much more pleasant if we could learn to express ourselves simply and honestly, and remember the manners our mothers taught us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Smart Girls at the Party

I came across this website a while ago called Smart Girls at the Party. Amy Poehler is one of the people involved with it and I love her, so of course I was curious. Basically, they interview young girls about the things they are interested in, from yoga to robots to gardening...all sorts of things.

Here's Amy Poehler talking about it on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

I just love this idea. It's encouraging and uplifting and a great way to teach girls that it's okay to be smart and silly and funny, that they don't have to just blend in with everyone else. It's also another great example of someone who is using their influence over girls (since Amy Poehler is in the media spotlight) for good.

We Are Women Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! We loved all of your comments. Being a woman is awesome because of dresses and nail polish and pretty shoes AND because we get to be mothers and wives and sisters. We get to nurture, create, empathize and share. We can be emotional and silly and loving and all sorts of other wonderful things. It's nice to think of all those good things. So, thank you for the lovely reminders.

And now for a winner. Our randomly chosen winner is.....Krissie! Here's what she said:

I like being a woman because I believe that women have a better sense of "self" and spend their thoughts and heart songs thinking about what more they can do to be truer to that idea, whatever it may be. I like being a woman because the possibilities for individuality, each lovely, are endless, powerful, and perfect. I like being a woman because of the tenderness we are known for throughout time and the beauty of creativity and love we embody. I like being a woman because of the pure image it gives to those who truly know and understand the worth of a great woman and what they can accomplish if they have one on their team. The image that promotes happy families, compassionate service, and empathetic voices. Never underestimate the power of a woman who knows who she is and what she is capable of accomplishing.

Email us with contact information (an email address) and Allison will get in touch with you shortly with a link to the ebook.

For those of you near Provo/Orem, go to the book release party tonight at The Chocolate (6-8pm, 212 South State St., Orem).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We're All in This Together

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! ... Standing alone on the mountaintop it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof.

--John Muir

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do Not Even the Publicans the Same?

From the lovely Molly at Smart, Pretty, and Awkward:

How to be (less) Awkward: It is more or less implied you are proud of someone you love when they have a success in their life. “I am so proud you got straight A’s,” “Great job landing that design internship,” etc. But it much more powerful to say, outloud, that you are proud of people even when they are not having classically defined successes. “I am proud of you for getting out that harmful relationship,” “I am proud of you for sticking through that tough time at work,” etc. When you love someone remind them often and frequently that you are proud of them for all the things they do — all of the things.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."

--Brigham Young

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Link and a Smile

I wrote a guest post about parenting on a friend's blog this week. Click the link and check it out.

And don't forget to comment on the giveaway! It's a super cool book and your only chance to get it for FREE!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Are Women Giveaway!

Remember Allison? She recently submitted an essay for the contest and has been mentioned before on this blog.

Well, the We Are Women book is nearing release. Miri and I submitted photos that are featured in the book (I'm looking unintentionally fierce in a photo from Miri's wedding) and the essays are wonderful. Not only is it a great book, but the proceeds go to the Campaign to End Fistula.

The release of the ebook is set for September 27th (check out details below about the release party at The Chocolate in Orem, Utah), but Allison was awesome enough to let us do a giveaway for you Lovely Readers.

So leave a comment below telling us why you love being a woman. It can be detailed or simple, whatever the answer, it will enter you into the giveaway. You can enter multiple times if you share this post via Facebook, your blog or Twitter and then leave another comment with a link. It's basically all about spreading the word and helping out a good cause!

The giveaway will close on Friday, September 24th. Happy commenting!

Monday, September 13, 2010

If Women Like It, It Must Be Stupid

I've been trying to write this post since July 3, and the other day I came across an article that has really helped give some definition to what I'd been trying to say. That day--July 3--was my friend Lori's birthday, and the day that I saw Eclipse. This post is about what happened as I was leaving the movie.

The first thing you should know is that I love the Twilight books. I read them four years ago, when only the first two were out. I read them multiple times; I gushed about them with my roommates, who were also reading them; I went to Stephenie Meyer's website, downloaded the songs on the playlists she had to accompany the books, and listened to them constantly.

Then I saw the movies. On the one hand, I think they are pretty terrible as movies go. The dialogue is painful, Jasper walks around looking like he has something stuck up his bum, and Kristen Stewart is the Monotonous Expressionless Wonder. But on the other hand, all ridiculousness aside, watching the movies somehow feels like watching the books. I like that.

So Lori, Meredith, Bethany and I went to the movie. We watched; I wondered where Jasper and Carlisle got their new accents, tried not to laugh when Jacob said "I am hotter than you," and was impressed when Bella actually raised her voice for once. 

The whole time, and indeed whenever the Twilight franchise is mentioned, my inner snob wanted to point out that I'm not in this the way others are. I'm not obsessed, I would never wear a shirt with Edward or Jacob on it, I refuse to be on anyone's "team." But that day, as I was leaving the movie, I had a thought:

Why do I have to excuse myself about this? Why do I feel the need to qualify my love of these books with explanations about how I actually hate vampire stories in general, how I don't like the movies and won't buy the merchandise? What is wrong with liking Twilight?

The article I mentioned at the beginning of this post is called "Eat, Pray, Love: If women like it, it must be stupid." It's about how people write off that book because it's about a woman's journey to find herself, and because it's primarily women who love it. (This, might I point out, is because of a lovely phenomenon--discussed in this article about the same topic--in which women will read and watch things about men, but men will not do the reverse.) And reading this article, plus a blog post about it by my uncle, made me realize that this ridiculous attitude is exactly what I was exemplifying in my on-the-fence, love/hate relationship with Twilight.

Okay, so, it's true: Women do like a lot of stupid things. Guess what. So do men. (May I remind you of the existence of this.)

When a lot of men like something, people don't think it's ridiculous. Macho, yes. Violent, probably; involving scantily clad women, very likely. But when a lot of women like something, people assume it's worthless.

It turns out that everything doesn't have to be the ultimate in literary (or cinematic) quality for there to be something legitimately worth loving about it. No, Stephenie Meyer isn't going to be winning any Pulitzers. So what? Instead, she has created something that appeals to women all over the world, of totally different generations and backgrounds and circumstances. There is something special about that, and what I realized that day when I was leaving the theater is that I am glad to be a part of it.

It is a lot of fun to have this in common with my aunts, my nieces, my mother-in-law, my friends, the girl who works at the library who always talks to me about YA books, the women I go to church with, and the few men I know who were adult enough to try reading it and honest enough to admit they liked it. (Yes, my husband is one of these--he read it even before I met him.)

To my mind, this attitude is a matter of insecurity. Sometimes we don't want to like something because of the stigma associated with that thing. I consider myself a well-read person; I love meaningful, "important" books; I tend to turn up my nose at "summer beach reading," romances, and Oprah's book club.

But I don't need to be afraid that liking Twilight will make me less smart. I don't need to pretend that I don't like something because I'm afraid that it will give the wrong impression of what kind of person I am (see the lovely Melissa's post from the recent contest). And as a culture, we don't need to belittle the things that women like just because women like them.

It's not a secret that women are often under-appreciated, underestimated, and trivialized in the cultures of the world. But that trend is not one in which I want to participate. So from now on, I am out of the closet.

I am a smart girl who loves literature, learning, and the English language. I like to know about the world. I like to defy convention. I like to be myself in spite of what others think.

And I like Twilight

Friday, September 10, 2010

Recognize Beauty

Maybe you've already heard this story from the Washington Post before (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html if you're having trouble with the link.) It's the story of a social experiment involving a world-class violinist and a subway station - and it's a fascinating commentary on our society.

How often are we too busy to notice great talent or beauty or excellence because it comes in an ordinary package? Do we see beauty in our friends? Our parents? Our spouses or siblings or children? I think sometimes we forget that extraordinary things often happen in ordinary places. We don't have to be in a museum or a concert hall to experience talent. We don't have to visit the wonders of the world to experience the beauty of nature. No one has to designate something as beautiful or valuable for us to recognize it as such.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We have a winner!

The votes are in and we have a winner!

Congratulations to Summer Myers! Summer gets to choose between two posters made by annilygreen*. Email us with your choice and contact information and we'll make sure you get your prize.

Thank you again (so so much) to everyone who sent in an essay. They were all beautiful in their own perfect way and we've enjoyed hearing from you.

*Don't forget, both of these posters are available in Annie's Etsy shop for purchase. You can buy one to hang on your very own wall! I certainly intend to do so.