Friday, October 31, 2008

Something More Important

So, I had my political blog all ready to go. I had all the reasons I am voting for Obama down and all the reasons why "that one" just doesn't cut it for me. I had articulate thoughts on how much pettiness I have been witness to, among adults. How many slurs and slanders and jibes and hating remarks and "I'm Right, You're Wrong" finger pointings. This blog was so good, it would have called all the evil slanderers to remorseful repentance!! Yes, indeed, in one blog post alone, I called us all to accept each other and our differences in politics and put everything else aside

....and then I thought...nope, not going to do it.

Because I have something more important to write about.

The Children of Shanti Bhavan.

I was asked to be part of an art auction by my friend Emily to help the George Foundation of India. Here is her message.

Christmas is coming, and instead of giving your money to Target or Walmart, 100% of your contribution will go directly to helping sweet Indian children receive a quality education! This whole art benefit will be on an official George Foundation website in the next month or so...but I am giving you a sneak peak of the amazing art that will be a part of this benefit, just in case you're an early shopper...


"Autumn Leaf" by John Turner
Photo size is 12x16. Frame included. size is 16"x20", natural wood.
$95, shipping included

"Madonna and Child" by D'Arcy Benincosa
8" x 10" in a white frame or 11" x 14" with no frame
$75, shipping included
Other Photos by D'Arcy

"Shape and Shadow" by Leilani Bascom. (black and white tile)
film photograph printed on archival photo paper 12x18
$80, shipping included
Other Photos by Leilani

"Study in Aesthetics #2" by Leilani Bascom ( yellow and orange plant)
film photograph printed on archival photo paper 12x18
$80, shipping included

"Translucence" (green and white plant)
film photograph printed on archival photo paper 12x18
$80, shipping included


"Hurricane Stoves" by Keva Gneiting
acrylic on canvas
$100, shipping included

"Tree Series-Cherry Tree" by Emily Potter
watercolor on canvas paper
red mat included, shipping included

"Tree Series-Autumn Leaf" by Emily Potter
watercolor on canvas paper
blue mat included, shipping included

"Tree Series- Green Forest" by Emily Potter
watercolor on canvas paper
black mat included, shipping included

Save $10 on "Tree Series": $200 for all three

Intention Jewelry
by Angela Johnson
Item #1: retail value for all earring pairs: $125. Earrings shown are examples only - actual set will be custom creations.
Item #2: $59 Turquoise Flower: Turquoise beads come together to cradle a beautiful Hill Tribe silver flower pendant.
Item #3: $25 Intention Jewelry gift certificate - this can be used at any Intention Jewelry open house, custom order or online.

The children at Shanti Bhavan

About the George Foundation
I love raising money for other people!

This is a photo of my dear friend Emily. She worked at the school in India for several months and through her eyes, I came to know and love these children.

As an added Christmas bonus...if any of you want commissioned paintings throughout the month of November, I will give all proceeds for those paintings to the George Foundation. 

I will also give 50% of each family photo shoot I do, during the month of November, to the George Foundation. I've only got two scheduled, so come join in and let's start giving!!

This is the place that my family has decided to donate their money to for Christmas. I couldn't be happier with our decision. You can buy one of these amazing pieces of art at the art auction on Emily's blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What does YOUR price tag say?

"Madame Pericand felt that each social class should wear some sign indicative of their station to avoid any misconceptions, just as shops displayed price tags."

                         ~Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky

Doctor: So, you dropped out of your PhD program didn't you?

Me: Yep.

Doctor: Well, now what are you going to do, I mean, why would you drop out of it, I mean, you should be doing so much, I can't remember, what do you do right now?

Me: I'm a teacher and an artist.

Doctor: (scowl and smirk together cross his face) An artist? A teacher? Are you just trying to be poor. I mean, what are you going to DO? You can't just do that the rest of your life.

Me: Actually, I am really hap.....

Doctor: What about law school? What about the PhD program at U of U? Have you applied there? Have you thought of that. You're such a smart girl, you should be doing more than what you are doing. Your life isn't over you know.

Me: um, yeah, I know. (insecurity strikes...and for some reason, i get dragged into this conversation that I don't know why is taking place--with my Doctor, who comes across really poorly in this interaction, but who is usually such a great guy)...but yeah, law school, that would be cool.

Doctor: Exactly, now you're thinking....blah...blah...blah...on and on...and...on....

....and my mind wanders to what I am doing with my life and I start to feel a bit smaller (see Sugar's post). Am I wasting my life in small town USA? Obviously my doctor thinks I am a smart girl. Obviously he thinks I am capable of a lot more than what he currently sees before him. And obviously he sees me passing time as just a teacher and just a struggling artist.... according to him, and probably most people in the world, I should try to remedy that quickly.

"Alas, we-- Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness-- Could not ourselves be kind."

                                                     ~ Bertolt Brecht

When I graduated from NYU, I could have followed my head and been on the fast track to fame and fortune. I worked for a very "important" woman. Again and again she let it be known that she was the one who would give me my big break. She lived on Fifth Avenue, her son was a multi-million dollar film producer, she was a published writer, and she, like Madame Pericand in the novel, believed that people had price tags. And, for awhile, I allowed her to treat me like my price tag was much, much less than hers....and in return, I would get what everyone wants. All her assistants had.

Sometimes I find myself thinking back to my stint in the big city....wondering what I gave up. There was a time in my life when I was on a first name basis with the people at Dior. There was a time in my life when I was able to go shopping at Versace and people rushed to do my bidding (well, her bidding really). There was a time in my life where men in white gloves opened all my doors and pushed all the elevators buttons for me, a time when I got into black limos, a time when I got the first bags released from Gucci, and a time when I got high off of this type of living.

People envied me. For the people who heard my tales, my price tag was high, I was living THE life. I had it made. I was going to be famous. I was going to be rich. I was going to be everything this world tells you that you should strive to be.

And then....I decided to move back to Utah. No one understood. Many still don't understand.

Now, instead of Dior, I help my dad weed his garden. Instead of making reservations at the newest five start restaurant, I made dinner for my brother last week. Instead of looking out onto Central Park West from the penthouse apartment, I had a late night girl chat with my sister. And, instead of getting that screenplay into the right hands, I helped my baby sister write her resume yesterday.  And now, instead of a million nameless faces pushing past me on the street...each in search of that dream, my nieces and nephews know my name....

They didn't before.

Baby Mamma!

Today I really wanted a couple of kids of my own.

Even after the melt downs.

That's Progress.

See the whole "Celebrating Grammy's Birthday by Getting Lots of New Photos for Her at the Park Photo Shoot" here.

Jo Inspired Me....

Jo inspired me to go out today and take some pictures of Fall. Thanks Jo!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Deconstructing The Scarlet Letter

Ok, I posted this, then I got all insecure and I deleted it (after a few of you were kind enough to comment) and then I remembered that I like to kick insecurities in the here I am reposting this.

Rowena, the Warrior Girl, tagged me the other day. I was supposed to give six random facts about myself, but instead, I thought I would share with you all a story. I've been meaning to write more lately, and I wrote this a couple of months ago and haven't shared it with many people, so I thought I would share it here. It gives a pretty good idea of me. I love recreating moments from my memory that were as good in real life as they appear on paper.

So here you go....the number one reason why The Scarlet Letter remains one of my favorite books. And yes, the principal really told me not to teach it.

Whatever you do, DON’T teach The Scarlet Letter

“Ok, y’all settle down.” I stood at the front of the room holding a box of The Scarlet Letter. Now listen, because I’m going to tell you something. No one in this school believes that you can read this book.” I started handing the books out, one by one, looking each student in the eye. “They don’t think you’ll ‘get it.’” I said as I passed one to Shenedria, then Sharonda, then Sh’miae, and finally to Caroldoria, my saving C in a row of S’s. “In fact, they told me not to teach it.” I paused and looked into Jabbar’s face, my most rebellious student, I knew he would love this. “So, guess what our new unit is going to be? “ Jabbar’s face turned into a slight smile as he felt the book in his hands. I kept walking and passing out the book. “Ok, we’re going to start today. It won’t be easy.” I said this as I looked into Jordy’s eyes. He knew something about life not being easy. He was 19, still trying to pass high school. His parents had abandoned him long ago, leaving him and his younger brother with his aged grandmother. He worked nights, sometimes all night. He never turned in his homework, but he always showed up for class. “It’s going to take effort.” A book to Bintu. “It’s going to take dedication.” A book to Tyrell. “It’s going to take us working together.” The last book to Amanda, the only white girl besides me. I went and moved back to the front of the room with my book in hand. “However, I really think this is a valuable book. On the surface it is about a love affair between a married woman and a priest.” Shouts, yells, and other suggestive whistles filled the air. “But underneath you will find a story about not being accepted by society, about making decisions, and most of all, about the judgments we place on others. So keep your hands and feet to yourself and enjoy the ride.”

The first chapter took us two days to go through, the new vocabulary came daily as I would read a paragraph. We would stop, and I would put it into understandable terms. The significance of the detail of the prison door, the lone rose bush that grew outside, the significance of starting the novel after the affair to show consequences, and the symbol of Pearl herself. They loved it, they struggled with it, they related to it, they lived it.

The time came for the first writing assignment. The kids had to write their own ideas of what was driving Arthur Dimmesdale. What were his intentions and motives? I came to Dicarrio Jenkins’ paper, the paper of the kid who, on the first day of class, told me I needed to pronounce his name with “a little more attitude.” This was his paper, “Arthur Dimmesdale was the baby daddy who jus wanted a booty call.” I remember that paper because I learned for the first time the definitions of “baby daddy” and “booty call.” I had to smile because I couldn’t mark it wrong.

I had four pregnant 16 year olds in that class. None of them married, none of them ready to be mothers. In fact, two babies had been found in the trashcans earlier in the year. The girls had gone into the bathrooms, given birth, then threw the babies away because they didn't know what to do. We talked about Hester raising Pearl alone. We talked about not having a father there to help, most of these kids didn’t have fathers either. During one poignant discussion, a young girl, Sade, came up to me and said, “Oh, Miss Bee, I be fittin’ to have this baby, can I use the hall pass, ma’am?” Just then her water broke. There was an amniotic fluid stain on the carptet all year long. That remains today, the most valid reason for using the hall pass I have ever had. I called the office, they called the ambulance. Did my kids understand having babies when you shouldn’t?

They became fascinated with the scarlet letter Hester was forced to wear. A large red A marking her sins to the world, telling the community to avoid her. These kids have grown up thinking that the color of their skin is a Scarlet Letter. Did they understand what it would be like to be in Hester’s shoes?

A black on white fight broke out across the school at a part a few days later. Many of my kids saw it, and some of them were in it. It’s the old West Side Story kind of fight. We discussed it, like we did everything. I realized that I was, to many of them, the moral parental influence that they so desperately needed. Did they learn from the hate that consumed Roger Chillingworth?

Day after day, week after week, we read, and talked, read and talked. I lost my voice, I bought it on tape, and still we read.

The day we finished. I will never forget. It was a graduation scene from a cheesy WB drama like Felicity, only it was in inner city Florida, the kids didn’t have name brand clothes and BMW’s. In fact the ceiling had fallen in the day before, the heater ran non-stop and there was a never-ending battle against cockroaches. I read the last sentence. Arthur and Hester were now buried quietly besides each other. I closed my book. There was a moment of silence. I looked up at them and said, “You did it.” Then the explosion I was waiting for. They stood, they cheered, they hugged, they threw their novels up in the air like graduation caps.

When everyone said they couldn’t do it, they did it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Abrazos Gratis

The photos from Argentina are finally developed and up. Check out the photo blog for a full account!

Monday, October 20, 2008

That's Entertainment!

I was in NYC last week to take in several shows I just HAD to see. Though many of you might not be as obsessed with Broadway performances as I am, I thought I would give you some highlights of what is hot in the cooling City.

ALL MY SONS *** (Three Stars)

I love Arthur Miller and this may be one of my favorite plays of his (tie between "After the Fall")--but the cast and production of this particular production made me shiver a bit with the fallibilities and frailties of humanity painted inside one small family. John Lithgow is a genius, Dianne Wiest was more than imagination could make her, Patrick Wilson is still rising, and Katie Holmes, eh...she was ok. However, I will be writing a post all about running into Oprah and Tom Cruise at this production (I went the day after it opened, and apparently, so did all of Katie's was absolute anarchy in the theater with two of America's biggest stars.) 

EQUUS **** (Four Stars!!)
This play, for me at least, addressed the question of a human's need to worship. Young Alan's parents remove the framed painting of Jesus from the young boy's room when they decide they don't want to be religious. In it's place, they give Alan (played amazingly brilliant by Daniel Radcliff) a picture of a horse instead...not realizing the the boy will take his need to worship deity and place that upon the horse. It asks the question...What are you worshipping that is crazy? Money? Fame? Acceptance? Material things? Yourself?

Equus is a play by Peter Shaffer written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious fascination with horses.

Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving a 17-year-old who had blinded six horses in a small town near London. He set out to construct a fictional account of what might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime. The play's action is something of a detective story, involving the attempts of the child psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, to understand the cause of the boy's actions while wrestling with his own sense of purpose.

SPRING AWAKENING ***** (Five Stars out of Five!!!)

I saw this three hours after I landed on Thursday and it blew me away. The words, the music, the soulful actors, the message, the lights, the creation of the whole masterpiece and the way it made me feel. Definitely the highlight of musicals for me since RENT.

It's a little disconcerting to see 19th-century German schoolboys in the new musical "Spring Awakening" yanking microphones from inside their little woolen jackets, fixing us with baleful gazes and screaming amplified angst into our ears.

It is also exhilarating. When was the last time you felt a frisson of surprise and excitement at something that happened in a new musical? For that matter, when was the last time something new happened in a new musical?

A fresh breeze of true inspiration blows steadily through this ambitious if imperfect show, which features alluringly melancholy music by the pop singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. "Spring Awakening," is an adaptation of the once-scandalous 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, the German playwright who is probably best known as the author of the source material for the Alban Berg opera "Lulu."

RELIGULOUS **** (Four Stars)
When Bill Maher's show was canceled, I had to think "What?!!! The title of the show was Politically Incorrect people, what were you expecting??!!!" But he is back now and better than ever. This documentary on religious zealots throughout the world had my attention from start to finish. And while it is not anti any one religion, or anti at all, I fear that the title alone will keep many people away from seeing an eye opening documentation of religion in our world. You may not agree, but with Bill, I'd say it's worth the watch and you can agree to disagree. And yes, he got kicked out of Temple Square when trying to film there.

From the New York Times

There is no arguing with faith. As the comedian and outspoken nonbeliever Bill Maher travels the world, interviewing Christians, Jews and Muslims in the facetiously funny documentary “Religulous,” you begin to wonder if there might be two subspecies of humans.

The skeptical minority to which Mr. Maher belongs constitutes 16 percent of the American population, he says, citing a survey. For many of them, including Mr. Maher, the tenets of Christianity, Judaism and Islam (Eastern and African religions are ignored) are dangerous fairy tales and myths that have incited barbarous purges and holy wars that are still being fought. A talking snake? A man who lived inside a fish? These are two of Mr. Maher’s favorite biblical images offered up for ridicule.

The majority of Americans, however, embrace some form of blind faith. But because that faith by its very nature requires a leap into irrationality, it is almost impossible to explain or to defend in rational terms.

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED **** (Four Stars--Real realism in its most real form...really)

This film, playing in only a few select states, shows Anne Hathaway as no one has yet to see her. Her portrayal of Kym at the wedding of her sister Rachel was truly a sight to behold. Michelle and I watched it in the small screening theaters at Lincoln Plaza. Oscar buzz should be heard soon.

"I don't think I've ever seen a wedding film that made me feel the way this one does, as if I wasn't just crashing the event but was part of the family. In a rehearsal dinner that sprawls on, the speeches are so revealing, stirring up so many awkward, touching crosscurrents, that it's as if you've known everyone in the room for years. That level of realism, as Robert Altman understood well, turns the most microscopic of interactions into drama, and that's the level Demme is working on here. It helps that the script is a fully woven web of love, jealousy, and enabling demons. After a while, Debra Winger shows up as the sisters' quasi-estranged mother, and she and Hathaway have a fight scene that's as raw as Ingmar Bergman and as operatic as Mildred Pierce."

DAVID SEDARIS ***** (Five out of Five!--delectably entertaining!!!!!)

I saw this here in Utah tonight. One of the most enchanting, amazingly funny writers of our time. I love this man!!

“I love things made out of animals. It's just so funny to think of someone saying, 'I need a letter opener. I guess I'll have to kill a deer.”

On learning French:

"I'd hoped the language might come on its own, the way it comes to babies, but people don't talk to foreigners the way they talk to babies. They don't hypnotize you with bright objects and repeat the same words over and over, handing out little treats when you finally say "potty" or "wawa." It got to the point where I'd see a baby in the bakery or grocery store and instinctively ball up my fists, jealous over how easy he had it. I wanted to lie in a French crib and start from scratch, learning the language from the ground floor up. I wanted to be a baby, but instead, I was an adult who talked like one, a spooky man-child demanding more than his fair share of attention. "

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Shape of Things

What is it like to grow up as a woman in a culture obsessed with perfection? 

Really, honestly, truly. What has it done to you?

Seems like a girl can't eat a carton of rice pudding these days without feeling a bit guilty about it. Does anyone remember when you could eat bread without worrying about this thing called CARBS? Those were the days. I'd come home from a long day at college and put together a delectable pb & j and never bat an eyelash at the white bread I was consuming each week.

What daily voices are in your head telling you that you need to change? At what point in your life do you finally stop falling prey to the luring magazine covers that represent the ideal body and life? What is it doing to all the women in America? What toll has it taken to hear the constant message that there is ALWAYS room for improvement? That's a loud and clear message being shouted from many directions each day.

And it is killing the souls of our beautiful sisters.

I see my students struggle with body image. I see the boys clinging to the ones that are skinny and well developed, I see the chubby ones, the ones with braces, the ones with intelligence, the ones with the senses of humor, the ones with acne--all getting ignored, ignored, ignored. I tell myself it will change, and it usually does. But it's so hard for them. They are constantly hearing the message  that men are more visually stimulated than women....and you MUST be attractive to find love!! Man, High School is rough, but hopefully boys figure out that they'd also like to carry on conversations..and eventually these girls will come into their own beauty.

But what about those women who just can't get past this search for perfection? We all know them, maybe we have been them...maybe we are them. Through my years in life I have known and seen the struggles of an eating disorder. I see daily the girls who can't meet anyone's gaze, I see the sadness at not being good enough glimmer in the eyes of girls who should be finding and rejoicing in their power. What a waste. And for what? Things have GOT to change.

No one is immune. You all have stories, don't you? I was eleven years old when I first started skipping meals because I was worried I was too big (I was a five foot ten inch swarthy sixth grader for pities sake! And I had glasses. And I had crooked teeth...let's talk about bad body image). I remember that at the time I was developing into a young woman, a new wave of ideal beauty was coming into fashion. It was the large lips, big eyes, and small nose of Julia Roberts. When the ideal beauty began to change, I would look into the mirror and I knew I didn't measure up. My features were too tiny, my lips too small, my eyes too nondescript. I would actually spend each night trying to stretch out my lips. I don't know if I really thought it was possible, but I was willing to try anything. At 14 and 15 I would pull on them, stretch them, try to make them into a fashionable no avail...and now these young women of today have Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightly to compete against! Seesh! We have GOT to do something. 

To me, the effect of this quest for perfection is having CATASTROPHIC effects on the women of our world.

The portrayal of the "ideal" woman today is usually that of a size 0 or lower, measuring at about 6 ft tall and weighing in at around 90 lbs. With so many of these unrealistic women being portrayed by the media, an epidemic has developed of women slowly killing themselves through such problems as low self-esteem, manic exercise, and even starvation.

I ask myself, can this REALLY be happening? 

Yes. It is. More than many of us realize.

I have often wondered what changes in the world could be made if so many women weren't worried about what they looked like or ate or needed to buy to feel better about themselves and they simply started putting that energy elsewhere. What if all the women who obsessed with their weight and outward appearance suddenly started volunteering in adult and children literacy programs? What if all that angst that was spent in counting calories and silently judging those you found lacking were actually spent in feeding the hungry, visiting the widows, serving your family and friends? What if all that energy was focused and bright and pure, instead of drowning and dark and ugly?

When I was 22, I listened to a speaker who told me that women were the Lord's secret weapon. That women hadn't realized how powerful they could be, but God knew, and he wanted us to start focusing that energy. That woman was Sheri L. Dew, and she was and still is, a HUGE influence in my life.

Imagine what would happen in this world if every morning millions of women prayed and asked God who he needed us to reach out to that day. And then imagine if we did it! Imagine if we consecrated our energy and our focus en masse to the greatest service of all, that of leading our sisters and brothers to recognizing their full potential. I am convinced that we would see the awakening and arising of a sleeping, slouching giant.

Is it possible, today, for you to make a difference in someone’s life, especially the members of your own family? None of us have to reach everyone. But what if we all reached someone? And then someone else? And so on. Can you imagine? Can you? Do you see it?

Luckily, I think most of us, as we age and grow, finally become accepting and loving of who we are. I've gotten into the habit of loving myself, something that didn't come so easily in my twenties. I've always just sort of taken people as they are, I've never felt a big desire to change others. When I read Morrison's The Bluest Eye for the first time, I remember going back over and over the part where she said that the idea of physical beauty is one of the most detrimental ideas in the world. I happen to agree with her. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Certificate of Authenticity

I woke up this Sunday morning to so many beauties. The first snow fall of the season. All my left over blooms from September are dowsed in slushy snow, along with a white layer on my neighborhood. I've been down with a bad cold, but it couldn't stop me. I bundled up and went for a walk. As I walked alone on the quiet Sunday streets, I thought about living an authentic life. I read one of my dear friend's posts this morning and felt so much love for her and her husband's relationship and their growing family. These two are authentic in every thing that they do, and I encourage each of you to read her beautiful tribute. it will brighten your morning (the post dated 10/12).

Yesterday, as I was looking at my site meter, I saw someone from Pakistan had googled "find my soul mate" and they came upon that post I did a few months ago. Another person from Greece googled "I've found my soul mate and he is 30 years older than I am" and I felt happy that she had found her soul mate, but I really wondered what she thought google could give to her. So many random things typed into google every day--is that where we go to find life's answers these days? I have wondered that, does Google have all the answers to our questions? So, I decided to give it a try. I googled "Authentic Living." 

Here are a few great links I found:

Authentic Living: Creating a Life You Love
What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
Who are you, really – and how can you be that unique expression of yourself?

We live in a world that is calling us into a search for authenticity, a quest for balance. In our jobs, we are searching for meaning as much as money. In our relationships, we are asking for spiritual and emotional connections, not just the physical presence of another. In our families, we are looking for ways to grow happily and love deeply. In our finances, we want to spend our money mindfully, achieving abundance and moving beyond greed. In our world, we want to live in harmony with the environment. In our daily lives, we are looking for ways we can make a difference. Spiritually, we are looking for that which resonates at a soul level. In our hearts, we are looking for our essence: what makes us unique and what it is that we hold in common with others.

We are redefining what success means, moving away from traditional standards of work and money toward a more soulful life focused on personal fulfillment, social conscience, and creating the chance for a better future for everyone on the planet.

Wow, isn't that powerful? Imagine if we all just woke up and began living our lives by focusing on our spiritual connections and awakening to the power of gratitude and action?

I also found this article "Six Principles of Authentic Living"

So, my questions to you---How important is it to you to live authentically? How do you daily strive to live this way?

(And, out of curiosity....what is the craziest thing you have ever searched for on google?)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Come Together, Right Now

(Family Photo 1994)

Yesterday during lunch I took out my phone to see several texts and messages awaiting me (which NEVER happens, I'm just NOT a phone person)

dad's been in an accident....


broken back....


Wow. How do you go on after that? How is it that everything can change in a second? Life is powerful. When I left my class to my awesome principal (who took over in a matter of seconds) and rushed to the hospital, shaking, trying to tell myself that everything would be alright..I just thought of my family. I thought of what this would do to my family. We only recently lost my favorite Uncle, a man who has been in my life almost as much as my father has. My dad is now his age. My dad's health isn't that great. What could my family handle?

I rushed into the ER and saw it full of all my loved ones. My nieces and nephews looking scared, my sister April coming to hug me. Audra and her small daughter in her arms. Brooke just recovering from surgery. David with tears in his eyes. LOVE.


(D'Arcy, David, and April...Christmas 1996)

Everything IS alright. The doctors, who told us to prepare for the worst and wouldn't give us details, finally let us know. Bruises and broken ribs. Swelling and tenderness, but spinal cord in tact. He will be alright. My brother-in-law gave my father a priesthood blessing, and it was amazing. And it softened me a bit ( I said a bit!). Once the good news was given, it was like we couldn't leave each other. We just wanted to sit, no where to go, just sit by my father's side and have us all be together.

Now, my family has had it's struggles. A LOT of struggles. It's had problems. It still does. I was wondering if my brother would even come to the hospital because he usually doesn't put family first. But, he was the first one there. All five of us kids got to my mother and father's side within the hour. That's pretty amazing. I wish I could take the time to tell you how beautiful a sight it was. I wish I could let you know the struggles that my family has faced. The heartaches, the fights, the distance, the addictions, the hurt feelings, the misunderstandings, the battles against depression. Often it is as if all five of us children came from different countries and we all speak our own language that none of the others can ever understand. But it is nice to know that in a crisis...we all speak the language of love.

All of us stayed at my parents house last night, late into the evening. Eating dinner together and helping clean house. I found an old photo album from 1996. I was starting my second year of college and found so many fun photos that I scanned a few to put up here. I am STILL in touch with all of these girls. Jenn, Stacey, Emily, Holly.....these memories are for you! They were another family for me for many years.

Lest you doubt my past claims about being the apartment freak at 6 feet tall and the only's a photo to prove it. ALL of these girls got engaged or married within two years of this photo. It almost looks like a set of quintuplets and me (right Jenn?) That's Jenn in the plaid skirt.

Yep, Holly and I REALLY did reenact scenes from Jane Austen. This is a scene we would do where I was Emma and Holly was Harriet. It was just an excuse to do my hair big and speak in a British accent...and drink tea. Yep, my cheeks are that red and always will be. It's my curse.

The best girlfriends a girl could have, still are.

So go out, give you family or friends a call. Tell someone you love them. Remember how blessed you are. Look into the eyes of the person next to you and really see them. Slow down. Breath. Live. Dream. Hope. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chemistry? Yeah Chemistry!!

One of the things I never really understood was how some relationships formed so easily. I seem to have only had troubled waters in this arena. When I was at BYU I was CONSTANTLY bombarded with hundreds of saccharine sweet engaged couples. Some getting married after only a few months of knowing of the other's existence. And I, completely baffled and incredulous, would ask how they KNEW it was right. More often than not, they would result to the syrupy cliche..."When it's right. It's right."

Um, yeah. Hasn't been that easy for me. But don't worry crowd, I'm not down about it. I love the way my life has played out!!

However, I just have to be curious. Was finding your mate easy for you? Did you know when your love came along?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this clip from "Guys and Dolls" because Sky totally knocks Sarah off her feet. He comes in and turns everything she thought she knew about love completely upside down. Did you marry the person you thought you would? Did you find yourself falling for someone that was exactly opposite from everything you ever imagined, but when you met, you just knew? I find this the most fascinating question on earth....who do you decide to marry?

Have you ever been SO attracted to someone that you just couldn't describe it? My friend and I were talking the other day about what a funny thing chemistry is. We've both had strong physical attractions to guys that didn't treat us so well. But then when we have met super nice guys, there is NO chemistry whatsoever. Since she dates more than I do, we will talk about her. She has been casually seeing this guy who she has AMAZING chemistry with. Seriously a beautiful thing. He makes her heart pound, butterflies flutter, and all that sweaty palm stuff that makes those dates worth dressing up for. The problem is, he doesn't call very often, he is forgetful, and he doesn't really plan things. Then, she goes out with another guy, sweet as can be, so attentive, asks her questions!! I mean, seriously, ASKS her questions (I've really ever known one man to do this in my acquaintance, but apparently she has found another). He is reliable and nice. He does everything right.

And yet.

And yet.


Can there be both, or do you have to sacrifice one for the other?

It's the old, cliche dilemma. Do you go for Marlon or do you go for James? You know what I mean. James is sweet and kind and a listener and faithful. But, for me at least, I have NEVER wanted to pull James Stewart into a passionate kiss and have my way with him (some of you do, I know). Or, do you go for Brando, a little dark, a little melancholy, a little distant---but sweeps you off your feet with one piercing stare and you can't keep your hands off of each other? I could make out with a young Brando for hours. HOURS. Hours.


My question is can chemistry grow? Can couples create a chemistry if given enough time? Or does it simply have to be there?

Those of you who are married, how did you know it was right? Is it timing or attraction or something else?

Something We can ALL Agree On!

Puppies are cute.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Sacrament of Penance

Many religions, throughout history, have required the confession. When a member of a the Catholic faith or LDS faith commit larger sins, they are required to confess these sins to one in authority. The person is generally male (in the LDS religion it is ALWAYS a man) and this person is supposed to act as an agent of God to work on getting the person forgiven. I am not sure how the confession process works in other religions, like Baptist or Methodist. Is there a method of confessing?

Confession is called the "Sacrament of Penance" as:
1. the recipient must be truly repentant of their sins
2. be determined to avoid these sins in the future
3. be willing to make reparations to any parties injured

I believe that confession has been used for hundreds of years as a way to protect and enforce orthodox belief and practice. And the churches today have several methods for insuring adherence to orthodox belief-- excommunications, ecclesiastical courts, public expiation...and I have been wondering this week if this is simply cultivating within us a culture of guilt.

A question I have been thinking about this week is "why confess to a man you may not know, instead of to God directly?"

And what is the purpose of confession?

Have you found that when you confess something you feel better? Is a weight lifted? Does it purge your soul?

A dear friend of mine and I have been on similar paths this year. She has fallen away from the strict rules of the LDS church as much as I have. However, we differ in VERY large ways. I don't believe in these strict rules anymore and thus, I don't believe I am sinning (and I am not even sure how I feel about the way the word sin and especially SINNER is used so commonly in religion today). While I feel completely happy in my life, she has been tormented in her soul. While I have been wondering why I don't feel riddled with guilt (as I did for much of my life any time I thought I had done anything "wrong"). She has been sobbing and beating herself up and dying a little inside each day.

So last night she decided to confess to her Bishop. I found this whole process, a process I have engaged in before, completely insane. Why does some older man I have NEVER talked to or interacted with, a man who doesn't know me or doesn't know my situation...why does he have the right to tell me whether or not I should feel good or bad about myself?

Do these spiritual leaders really have the authority to tell you your standing with God?

She is a grown woman of 31. She has made wise decisions her whole life. She has hurt no one. She is one of the most beautiful and sensitive people I know. And yet, because she isn't meeting the standards she has been taught, she has felt lower than Gregor Samsa after he turned into the bug! (sorry, I just reread The Metamorphosis). After her confession she called me crying. I don't want to go into the details of how the LDS church deals with certain things, because I feel at this point in my emotions I could only paint it in a negative light. But let's just say I was less than pleased with what she told me had transpired.

Is confession merely something created by men to exercise some form of control over the masses (do this and this and you will be granted this reward)? Does is simply play into creating a religious hierarchy (it's actually quite similar to the old feudal systems)? It was often used as a method for discovering and eradicating heresy, is it so today?

Does is have any value?

I honestly don't know. I've been raised to believe that you must confess and forsake your sins to get to heaven.

I'd like to know if any of you have thought about this?