Month: July 2012

A Very British Olympics

So I like most of you, I have been entranced by the Olympics coverage.  I have loved the Olympics since I was a little girl.  I remember watching Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn White in the winter Olympics and Pablo Morales, Summer Sanders, The Magnificent 7 in the summer Olympics.  Of course, we had the Olympics here in Salt Lake which was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been a part of (and one of the most successfully executed Olympics in recent memory. No empty seats for us!).

I have such fond memories of watching and screaming with Sarah Hughes when she came from behind to win or when Apollo Ohno finally got his gold medal after being tripped earlier in the games.  I remember when Dan Jansen finally won a gold after falling again and again.  I remember watching the Dream Team and feeling like America was on top of the world.  Rulon Gardner defeating Karelin. All amazing Olympic moments.  Ian Thorpe blasting onto the swim world. Kerri Strug vaulting with a broken ankle. Paul Hamm winning a gold medal after practically vaulting onto the judges table.   It’s just amazing.

2008 was a fabulous Olympics especially watching Michael Phelps win 8 gold medals. It was a performance I will never forget!

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/watching-sports-inspires/

I think what makes the Olympics so special is the athletes give their entire life to represent their country in the games.  They sacrifice everything for their sport, their abilities and their country.  I think that is honorable.  It is honorable for both the medalists and those that just get there. Aside from maybe my mission I can’t think of a time when I sacrificed my life for something I believed in.  I just live an ordinary life and to me it is inspiring when others can do what the Olympians do.

It frustrates me when I see people laying on criticism of athletes like Michael Phelps.  Surely 19 medals should win our hearts but no, it does not seem to be enough for some people.  What does the man have to do? He took basically one year off and partied a little.  Give him a break. I think he’s awesome. An American hero.  For someone who supposedly has such an ego I’ve only seen him be incredibly gracious when he got 4th, and his silvers.  Same with Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrien and the whole team.   They are all just so awesome!!!

My only problem watching the Olympics is I want the US to win everything.  Sorry, I’m an unabashed fan of all things US, BYU, LDS, Mormon, and Utah.

What are some of your favorite Olympic memories?

So far in these Olympics we’ve been less dominant than other years but it has still provided many compelling characters.  I will provide a couple of updates over the next 2 weeks but so far I’ve enjoyed some great viewing.   One thing that has been nice is more events seem to be broadcast.  I’ve really enjoyed watching the water polo matches, volleyball games (lots of BYU grads!), beach volleyball, kayaking, soccer, boxing and more.  I wish you could see some of these sports during the rest of the year and not just the Olympics.  They are a lot of fun to watch.

You think with all these sports channels we have now we could watch these more unusual sports.  Maybe we have them but I don’t know about them.  I’m going to look into that.

Anyway, some of my favorite moments from this Olympics so far are:

female swimming golds!- So far we’ve gotten golds from Dana Vollmer, Missy Franklin and Allison Shmitt.  My favorite was Vollmer.  She failed to make the team in 2008 and yet she came back to win gold.  It is an inspiration when someone looks failure in the face and does not waiver.  Awesome!

male swimming medals!-  19 medals for Michael Phelps.  Just amazing!  I would like to meet him someday.  I’d like to meet an Olympian and just hear what it is like.  Ryan Lochte’s medal in 400 IM was inspiring, Matt Grevers and Nick Tholman going 1-2 was amazing!  They are all just so cool.  The highlight was Michael’s 200 fly silver and then the awesome 4×200 relay.  What a fantastic performance that was.  Wow!

The thing that is great about this era of swimming is you have so many athletes competing in 2 or more Olympics.  Since we don’t always see swimmers outside of Olympics it helps to build the sport when there are repeat performances.  I was talking with a friend the other day and I had a hard time thinking of swimmers from the 80’s (my childhood) that had that kind of dominance for multiple Olympics. The only one I can think of is Janet Evans (who I idolized). The more name recognition you have, the more people remember swimming and want to participate in it.  I think it is great!  Each of these long-term swimmers like Lochte, Phelps and Coughlin could bow out and coach, make a living after medaling in one Olympics.  They don’t have to put themselves through 4 more years of brutal training but they chose to do so because they love the sport and love representing their country.  I think that is great!

female gymnastics- The team competition was so exciting! I was so glad to see Jordan Wieber come out and rock the competition.  She deserved to be in the all-around.  It is an insane rule that doesn’t allow the 4th best gymnast to compete.  Another example of the foolish desire to make everything fair.  Competition isn’t fair.  It’s competition.  How is it an effective gold medal if the best aren’t allowed to compete?  I was just so glad to see her get some redemption tonight.

One thing that has been fun is I just can’t wait for prime time to hear what is happening so I’ve been watching the BBC coverage online.  Kind of funny to hear the droll British commentary in comparison to the enthusiastic American announcers.  It all seems quite apropos for an Olympics in London.

Was anyone else underwhelmed by the opening ceremonies?   Even Paul McCartney couldn’t inject some excitement into the affairs.

More to come on the Olympics in this blog including my Olympic viewing party tomorrow!

Swim Camping

So as you all know I am an active member in Utah Open Water which is a loose organization of open water enthusiasts in Utah that hosts events, publishes swims and promotes open water throughout the state.   I am very lucky to be part of such a vibrant open water community.  Everyone I have met has been so nice and welcoming.  It really feels like a family.

Last month I put on one of my swimfests, the Summer Swimfest, but some of the group couldn’t make it because of summer plans.  As we were discussing alternate plans Josh Green (one of the founders of Utah Open Water) suggested a Swim Campout.  I quickly told him that camping is not my thing so I couldn’t really take the reigns on this one.  My camping career has been a deep and sordid mess and I am the last person in the world that could plan camping fun for anyone . https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/campin/

So, Josh and company decided to go ahead and plan the campout and after my friend Kate agreed to bring all the gear I decided to give it a shot.  I figured one night couldn’t kill me. 🙂

The camp was at the East Canyon State Park and Reservoir west of Park City.  I had never been to it before but it was beautiful and very convenient easy to access campgrounds (with tables and bathrooms).    Jim Hubbard in our group took more photos the I did and as soon as he posts them I will put them on the blog.

We started out with a swim and the water was perfect.  It was just the right temperature with minimal boat traffic.  The only thing that was challenging was getting down to the water was treacherous and I stupidly only packed flip flops (which were destroyed by the end of the trip. Oh well!).

After about an hour swim we headed back to the campsite and set up camp (or Kate set up camp!).  Then we had dinner.  This was my contribution to the evening.  I bought marinated salmon from Harmons and made foil dinners with veggies from the bountiful basket.  They were delicious and very filling.  Kate brought a fruit salad and Sabrina made an amazing cake and homemade ice cream (they brought a generator and she churned the ice cream on campsite!

So the food was delicious and the bugs weren’t too bad.  Manageable.

Then we watched a movie using a projector powered by the generator and a big screen.  The kids chose Up which is one of my favorite summer movies (may be my favorite movie of all time period).   It was really fun watching the movie with the crisp air and the stars beside wonderful friends.

Once the movie was done and the kids were in bed then the real adventure started.  We went night swimming.  Because it was so dark I couldn’t take many photos but I have this one.

Don’t I look like the lady in Tron?

To night swim you put on glow sticks both arms and bracelets and one by your goggles and you have a kayaker with a lantern and you swim!  It was a crazy cool experience . The water felt a lot colder in the dark and it just felt surreal like swimming in black mud and all you could do is feel the water and see an occasional glow.  I must say it was exciting and a little scary but mostly cool!

The only down side to the night swimming was it did make it hard for me to get to sleep, which was already going to be a tough prospect in the tent.  I gave it a good try and finally about 1:30 I fell asleep.  Then I woke up around 4 and then slept from 5 to 7. 4+ hours of sleep I was actually quite happy with given the circumstances.  Someday I want to own an airstream and be able to go to cool lakes and sleep in my cute little airstream.

Anyway, I woke up and we made breakfast. It was Kate’s ideas.  Eggs you boil in a bag. Very tasty, if a bit slow in cooking. Worth the wait and tons of good conversation along the way.

Survived my first night of camping in like 10 years
Kate with our eggs. Yum

After breakfast we conversed and got to know one another better.  I’m amazed at the quality of individuals I meet while swimming.  Sometimes its easy to be cynical when the world seems awfully wicked and sad but then I think of all the great people I met on my mission or through swimming or work.  It’s comforting really.  Its also great how much my circle has expanded in just one year.  I told Kate before we went to sleep ‘And to think a year ago we didn’t even know each other’.  Pretty amazing the depth of friendship and unity you can feel with a whole group of people in just one year.

I’m just grateful to God that He has seen fit to bless me with such friendship in my life.  Real and abiding friendship is over flowing in my life and I hope I give it back as much as I get it.

Anyway, I made some new friends at the campout including Sue who is a masters teacher who coaches at night! I’m excited to go check it out.  Most masters classes are early in the morning- sometimes as early as 5:30 and with my insomnia that’s darn near impossible for me.

Through the morning more people arrived including my friend Etsuko and her son and a new swimmer to our group named Scott.

We all went for a morning swim (the others did a full mile but Kate had to be back in the afternoon and I was tired between 3 swims in about 12 hours, hiking and 4 hours of sleep I was done! 🙂

Thanks to Josh and everyone else who helped make my return to the camping world a success.  Hope we can do it again soon.

Here are some photos and like I said will post more when Jim posts his.

The whole crew mostly
Me before the swim today. Thank goodness for that Lands End tankini. Saved my life in making quick changes in cars and tents!
Etsuko before our swim
Kate and I. Love this shot!
Love this shot too. You can see how clear and great the water was
Our new friend Sue.

 

Like I said I will post more photos later but it was a super fun day.  Now I am counting down the hours until I can go to bed.  Super tired and sore! Too much fun happening here.

 

 

 

 

 

Imposters

When I was in college I was given an editorial by Lynne Tempest called ‘A Pinch of Reality’ that I’ve hung onto all these years (it was originally posted in Network magazine in 1991 and I have the pink handout I got probably 12 years ago in college! I told you I was a pack rat!).   It has always wrung true to me and I was thinking about it this weekend.

The main point of the piece is that many women feel they are ‘imposters’ in their own lives.  Here’s some examples she gives:

‘”I’m not really a composer but for my final project I did compose just a couple of little pieces” said a classmate recently in a course on women composers.  After several apologies and self-effacing gestures, she sat down at the piano and played 3 magnificent compositions.’

‘”It’s just a simple pet project.  Nothing really” said another classmate, as he pulled from a plastic bag an exquisite front panel for an Amish quilt she recreated.’

“‘After studying several months in preparation for the LSAT, and after having taken a handful of difficult classes to boost an already high GPA, a close friend was recently surprised to have been accepted into a prestigious law school.  ‘I just can’t believe they accepted me'”

‘Imposters? Impossible”

Tempest then goes on to describe what she calls ‘Imposter Syndrome’.  She describes it in her own life as an editor “What if I can’t do it? It’s just a matter of time before they discover I really don’t know what I’m doing’.  These were common refrains played over in my mind during my first months as editor.  It didn’t’ seem to matter that I had been intimately involved in the production of network for 6 years.  I knew it was just a matter of time before they found me out. I was scared.  I felt alone”

“Why is it so hard for women to accept their own genius? What are we afraid of? And what does it mean when we don’t allow ourselves to relish in a job well done? By denying our own capabilities, we prevent ourselves from fully enjoying what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. ”

Isn’t it the truth?  I was thinking about that this week, because literally every time I swim or box or lift a lot of weights, whatever, I’m shocked at my own accomplishments.  Shocked is not too strong a word.  It always surprises me.  Every time I box I think ‘how did I do that?’ I watch that video of me boxing and there is a side of me that thinks ‘ah, I was just lucky’.  This after doing it for months and months.  It doesn’t seem like it could really be me? Every time I swim I look back at the lake and think ‘how did I do that’?

On one hand the imposter syndrome is a good thing because I get the thrill of surprise every time I achieve something but it can cause a lot of anxiety too.  There is never confidence I can really do it.  I am often plagued by the ‘what if’s’ and get anxiety.  What if I wrote a book and someone hated me?  What if I got half way through my swim and had to stop?  What if I tried really hard at a relationship and was rejected? It seems almost easier to expect failure and be pleasantly surprised with success? but that doesn’t seem right either? but the times in my life when I’ve assumed things were going well, accepted success as a given have also been a bit of a nightmare. Hmmm… (You see why I deal with anxiety!).  Maybe all of us women are just afraid of being dumped, being rejected because let’s be honest that sucks! So its easier to just fake it.

And it’s not just with sports.  I remember getting that same feeling every time I got a good grade on a class or a paper.  Thinking ‘wow I can’t believe I did that…’.  Who knew I was smart?  When I got my MBA everyone would talk about how I was one of the smartest people in the class but I never really believed it.  I remember one person saying that Jodi and I were the ‘dream team’.  I wish! (see…just did it)

I say this and I actually think I have a pretty healthy self-esteem.  I’m comfortable with my body, I’m willing to compliment myself and I get excited about my life but still there is always that voice protecting myself.  At least I never stop trying things but I can’t completely stop that voice in my head telling me that I’m an imposter like Tempest says.  I’m not really a swimmer just someone with a cap and goggles making a show about it.

Tempest seems to think this is a problem only faced by women.  What do you think? Men, out there- do you feel like imposters in your life? I know its not much of a problem for my Dad.  He walks into a room expecting to be pretty darn good at everything he tries.  He’s the most confident person I know.

The funny thing is that I don’t see anyone else in this way? I don’t think others are secretly not living up to their potential or not good enough.  I think everyone else is awesome and inspiring.

Perhaps we do this to protect ourselves from criticism? We’d rather say the criticisms in our head first so that if the world let’s it out it’s not as crushing.  Perhaps some of us felt over-criticized as a child and developed the technique as a coping mechanism?

I know for me I was plagued with a hard-edged, critical choir teacher in high school and I still definitely feel like an imposter in any kind of performance. I remember performing On My Own to a girl who had played Eponine on Broadway and she was so complimentary.  She even said ‘I think that song is perfect for your voice’.  While I was flattered there was a side of me that wanted to shrug it off like I was a singing imposter and she’d soon learn I’m not very good.  Even someone of that caliber didn’t quite convince me.  It excited me but didn’t quite convince me. I still LOVE singing every chance I get but don’t really feel great at it.  Does that make sense? Can you relate to that in your life?

I mean there are some things I know I’m not good at like dancing.  I suck at dancing.  There is no imposter pretense going on there.  For some reason I have an easier acknowledging the things I suck at then the things I’m good at.  My friends gush and pay me all kinds of compliments and I think ‘oh, they’re just being nice’.  And I say that having a pretty healthy self esteem!

I think the hard part is women don’t want to be too cocky or conceited but there has to be a balanced level of humility and pride?  Right? What is the solution?

Maybe part of it is there is always someone else to compare to- sometimes even our former selves?  We can beat ourselves up over our bodies, athletic abilities whatever that we used to have instead of just saying ‘wow, I did pretty good for a 30+ amateur swimmer’.

What do you think?  Do you find yourself feeling like an imposter in your life and apologizing for your accomplishments?  How can we stop this?

Tempest says, “This is where sisterhood comes in.  Let’s make a vow to one another.  Next time you hear a statement like ‘I can’t believe they accepted me’ or ‘It’s nothing really’, step forward and pinch that woman- a simple reminder she can’t deny her strengths.  Let her know she’s real.”

Sounds like a good vow to me.  I’m in and will be pinching myself a lot! What about you? How can we stop this imposteritis among us?

Friends

Stephanie,  Camille me and Angie in Hawaii. Dear friends

Anyone who knows me knows that friendship is everything. As someone who has never really been in love aside from family, my friends have been my main source of support in life.  It is hard to think of a great moment in my life that wasn’t accompanied by or inspired by my friends.

I’ve had lots of different types of friends over the years and some of them have fallen out of touch but many have been by my side through the years.  I have my flaws but I think one of my strengths is being a good friend.   My friends know me and if they want it, I know them.

This week a long time friend of mine came and visited.  Over the years we have shared many highs and lows, tears and fears and a fair share of anxiety and laughs.  Now she is dating a nice man and things are looking great.  I was so happy I wanted to jump up and down. It was a great moment brought about by the years of deep and abiding friendship. I will treasure that moment.

I love this quote by Marlin K.  Jensen (the whole talk is fabulous)

“Joseph Smith taught that “friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’” That thought ought to inspire and motivate all of us because I feel that friendship is a fundamental need of our world. I think in all of us there is a profound longing for friendship, a deep yearning for the satisfaction and security that close and lasting relationships can give… if the consummate Christian attribute of charity has a first cousin, it is friendship. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul slightly, friendship “suffereth long, and is kind; [friendship] envieth not; … seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; … [friendship] never faileth.”

I love the idea that friendship is the grand fundamental principle of my faith, and I would say all faiths. To be a loyal, kind, true friend is the greatest gift we can give anyone.  I am lucky to have had many such friends in my life.

The other day I was feeling a little blue and my friends Jill and Melissa sent me flowers with the sweetest note of encouragement.

One time when I was in college after my grandfather and cousin had passed away my friend Casi insisted I go to dinner with her and get out of my apartment.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I’m proud to say we are still friends to this day (thanks to facebook 🙂 ).

Last year I visited Maryland for the first time in 10 years and it was so great to see that all the girls I visited that once were my friends still have that special bond.

I’ve mentioned on this blog my special friendship with my friend Emily and how I feel God directed us to each other.  I could the say the same for my dear friends Camille or Julia who I don’t get to see near as much as I would like (in my dream world I’d see all my friends everyday!).  The great thing is when I do see them the connection is still there, the bond still solid.

Sometimes the friendship is immediate like with my friend Adrienne where I met her and almost instantly knew we needed to be friends. Sometimes it builds gradually like with my friend Jill until it is deeply important to me.

I think of my friend Miriam or Suzanna who have maintained a presence in my life all these years and are somehow always there for me when I need them and hopefully vice versa.

There are new friends like Etsuko who I’ve only known for 2 months but I feel like we have been friends for years. Or there is my friend Kate who I felt a bond with almost immediately when we met last year at the clinic. Life is about that bond for me.

I think of my friend Stephanie who has never failed to inspire me no matter her size. I will always treasure the first time we really became friends at a Michael Buble concert no less 🙂

I think of all the great traveling I’ve done with dear friends such as Rachel, Sarah, Emilee and Megan. Those memories are some of the best of my life.

There is my friends Polly and Tennile who proved that visiting teaching really can create lasting friendships.

My friend Aimee who was cool enough to accept a girl who came up to her and said ‘My name is Rachel.  I need a friend.  Let’s get together’. (For real).  She is the bravest person I know.

Special shout out to all of my swim friends and trainers who have become so dear to me.  I would not be the tremendous athlete 😉 I am today without all of your love and support.

I think of book club and the great discussions we’ve had over the years.  Images come through my mind full of smiles, heart to hearts, and laughs with dear friends.

For every single person who has been there for me on facebook and twitter.  I live alone but I rarely feel lonely because of you.

The list could go on and on and there are so many I didn’t name. I love you all! (haven’t had many friends who are guys.  Not sure why. Ready to make some 🙂 )

When I think back on my life many of the happiest times are laughing with my friends; and I can reminisce fondly over hours of conversation pondering philosophy, religion, life, boys, crushes, politics, books, and whatever else is going on. Whenever I drive by my old house in American Fork I wax nostalgic of all of the great friendships I had there during one of the roughest personal periods of my life.  They saw me through it and I came out alive 🙂 . It’s no accident that at the end of that tough period of my life where did I go, on a hotel holiday mini-vacation with my friends.  It was a victory for all of us.

I honestly think of my Grandma as one of my best friends, and I love nothing more than chatting with her about my life and learning about her life.

Perhaps I have an unrealistic or overly-nostalgic view of friendship, and yet the vision has been met time and time again and for that I’m very grateful. I’ve learned a lot from all of my friends, a lot about kindness, courage, compassion, charity, strength, nurturing and even how to be a better friend.

I recognize that people have different ways of expressing love and friendship, and I am trying to be more open to those expressions. I certainly can use all of the love I can get however its expressed.  I’m grateful to anyone who touches my life for good and after watching the horror of yesterday’s shooting am grateful for what I do have in my life.

Thank you to all of my friends. I hope I have been half the friend to you as you’ve all been to me. God bless you!

Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.
What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
When such a friend from us departs,
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee

Not to be morbid but if I died tomorrow I would want this blog page printed out and given to people.  It is the story of my life.

My friend Jill and I at a concert
My friend Tennile and Jenny at a book signing
My friend Miriam and I. We’ve been friends for over 10 years.

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The whole swim gang at swimfest!
My friend Emily and I at a book signing
Not a great picture but the only one I could find of my friend Aimee and I
My friend Sarah and I at a concert
Rachel, Emilee at the PCC. What happy memories.

Mixture of Thoughts

So today has been a thoroughly strange day.  On one hand I woke feeling hopeful.  Drained but hopeful.  Things in my personal life and my health are looking up and for that I am deeply grateful.  I really felt a wad of stress I’d been carrying around settle and am looking forward to the future.

Wanting to process my life and having the PTO I decided to take some time off today and was feeling great.  I noticed a facebook post from my siblings about the Dark Knight premiere they had been to and how good it was.  It seemed like nothing could burst my bubble.

Then I turned on the TV…

“Massacre in Colorado Theater”.  Horrified I then saw details of the awful shooting at the Dark Knight screening in Colorado.  Initially my bright mood turned to anger, confusion and then finally despair.  I tried to make sense of it for a while but obviously there is no making sense of such an action.

Here are some jumbled thoughts

I think it almost goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.  I can’t imagine facing such a shock and loss.

When it comes down to it EVIL exists. Satan is real and he wants all men to be miserable just like himself. If we let him, He can take a seed of anger or disappointment and work on it until it unfolds in true horror.  He wants us to hurt one another.  He wants us to be angry and resentful and there is no end to the anger if left unchecked.

My next thought I’m going to try to word carefully.  When such things happen people immediately jump to conclusions about mental illness.  That someone must have been ‘insane’ or ‘crazy’.

Here’s where I think we have to be careful.  Millions of Americans suffer from mental illness that are not going to kill anyone.  Mental illness is probably involved in such a case, but a shooter is a bizarre extreme symptom of an illness.  It would be like saying everyone who has the stomach flu is going to die because one woman does pass away. Its an abnormality, a mutant like distortion of the real disease.

The stigma and fears surrounding mental illness are only inflamed when such careful distinctions are not made and then situations like this become more likely.  People who have severe conditions do not get the diagnosis or the help they need because of the stigma and the community in general is not informed enough to encourage or even enforce such treatment.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety and the occasional panic attack I will tell you it is a scary experience and I only was able to make healthy choices once I was honest and disregarded the stigma.  Not everyone can do that and not everyone has the overwhelming love and support I am lucky enough to have.

If I was king of the world I would require mental health check ups for all college students because it is such a great time of change and the time when most mental illness such as schizophrenia manifest themselves. Someone may have never dealt or thought about mental illness and then all of the sudden they are dealing with signs and symptoms and yet no treatment is sought out of shame or fear.

Mental illness is just another illness.  It’s a part of our anatomy and sometimes it gets sick just like anything else.

So there I said my peace on that.

One last thought.  My cousin Anne spoke her peace about the violent content in the Dark Knight movie after viewing it at the midnight screening.  She said quite movingly

“I am very saddened about the shooting in Colorado. The news article said they could not identify the shooter’s motivation…. How about the very movie that was showing in the theater where the shooting took place?! I know The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the Summer, but I walked out because of how intensely violent I felt it was and the ruthless killer Bain was dark and evil. After 20 minutes I went back in because I didn’t want to feel left out… (wish i would have chosen differently now.) i know its bold to say, but we cannot keep watching this violence on screen and expect to be exempt from it in real life!”

Now did the movies cause some kind of hypnosis that made the shooter do what he did?  Of course not, but I do agree with her that as a society we have become increasingly desensitized towards violence.  I’ve felt this for some time.  I remember coming back from my mission and being shocked by the decapitated heads in the final Lord of the Rings movies.  I was horrified at first but then  I started watching 24 with friends.  Slowly I began ignoring more and more violent content until one episode Jack basically hung a terrorist on a chain to get what he wanted.  That was it for me.  My wake up call.

Violence stays in my head and never leaves.  The other day I was watching Project Runway and an ad for some terrible serial killer movie came on and before I could change the channel there it was in my brain.  Nightmares! Thanks Lifetime!

I resisted the temptation to see the 2nd Dark Knight movie for many months until it was out on DVD and finally caved because EVERYONE I knew loved it.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it completely terrified me.   I had nightmares for weeks.  I recognized that it was well made and acted but I did not feel a good spirit while watching and regretted it ever since. I really felt like the only one out of all my friends who didn’t love it.

Even a movie like Ironman that has some torture of the lead in the beginning I found quite upsetting.  As a single woman living alone I’ve found I must be very careful with what I view because it sits there in my head making mischief.  I realize not everyone is in my situation or has my sensitivity level but still I just don’t see how watching such things can be helpful or inspiring.

What really makes me crazy is we have this pretense of an MPAA giving movie ratings but they should just change it to the ‘counting swear words brigade’.  I don’t understand how The Dark Knights and Hunger Games (children killing other children) gets a PG-13 when Bully a movie that might actually help reduce violence is given an R because of 6 words.  How can anyone say that 6 words are worse than murder? It doesn’t make sense. Something has to be so over the top in sexual content and violence to merit the R rating but 6 swear words and an automatic R? Again, to me that makes absolutely no sense.

If I ran the world I would make the MPAA like http://www.screenit.com which provides incredible details of the content you are viewing so you can make an informed decision.  I think it is $25 a year or something like that and I would recommend anyone sign up kids or no kids.

As to whether there should be some type of censorship or monitoring on this type of violent content, I’m unsure.  I certainly think there should be a discussion and its effects should be taken seriously.  We have no problem acknowledging the negative effects of sexual pornography and that industry is regulated fairly strictly.  What’s wrong with applying those same standards to violence?  I’m not expert on stimulus addiction but violence seems as penetrating in the brain as sexual content and clearly can be as destructive to human life.

I don’t know the answer but the human mind has always been attracted to violent content.  That’s Satan’s job, that’s the natural man. In the past a salacious story of Western slaughter or war would excite readers but now the malcontent can be exposed to images, video, dialogue, again and again, with each time needing more intense portrayals.  How can that not have a damaging effect?  Do I have a solution to fix that in a free America?  No.

Except to say this- watch what you watch and what your children watch.  Watch how you rationalize things away and try to stop it. Stop spending your money on things that glorify violence.  Hug your loved one’s.  Resolve differences.  Forgive because you never know when things can change and you’ll miss out on the chance to make things better.

Please go to http://www.bringchange2mind.org/ to sign the pledge to end the stigma against mental illness.  Maybe if we all work together we can stop such tragedies from happening again?  That is my hope.

I started my day hopeful and I’m ending my day with hope. Hope in Christ and His great love. He heals the broken hearted and gives comfort to the weak.  I KNOW that is true.

Just been thinking about this Phillip K Dick quote today. It’s so brilliant. “Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”
― Philip K. Dick
Boy, can it be hard when realities collide but also the most rewarding.  At times it can feel almost overwhelming, even impossible to see anothers reality.  How can we reconcile it with our own?  There is no easy answer but I can guarantee you the process will be one of the most refining of your life if you let it be. It just takes honest, open hearts that are trying to understand each other and true greatness can be achieved.

This is why I love blogging because it gives insight into the realities of others and I hope it helps people see into mine.  We are all more complicated than at first glance and thank goodness for that.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

Have you ever noticed how 2 people can tell the same story and yet it doesn’t seem like the same story? I’ve particularly seen this with couples, especially after a break up.  It would seem like they couldn’t have been in the same marriage.  I think only in time does the nuances of memories cement in our brain.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this lately, as life has been a bit stressful.  My reality has not always been what others see.  I came across this quote and it really rings true.

“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real)…

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Rachel’s Favorite Things

So today I am playing Oprah and am going to share some of my favorite things. Unfortunately I can’t give you free stuff so it might be less exciting but always fun to share.

Nantucket Bike Basket

First item I’m excited about is my new bike basket from LL Bean.  Isn’t it so cute and nice and deep to carry a bag of groceries or some mail 🙂

The Nantucket Bike Basket Co (talk about specialization) makes several baskets for LL Bean but this was my favorite.

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/69236?feat=69237-ppxs&dds=y

The description on the website says “This durable bike basket is made from very fine rattan cane, woven for a classic, retro look. A replica of the style originally made in Nantucket during the whaling era of the 1920’s. Leather straps attach to your bike’s handlebars.”

What can be wrong with that?
It was actually hard to find a good bike basket so I’m thrilled with this find.

It is $39 with free shipping.

 

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I rarely find a new book that I love.  It’s just hard to get through all the sludge to find something that is clean, engaging and that excites me. Certain genres are harder than others, romance and comedies being the most difficult. Recently I found a book by local author, Julianne Donaldson, called Edenbrooke, that totally won me over.

It is about a girl named Marianne who in the 18th century (Jane Austen era) is bored and lonely with the society at Bath and is sent to the estate of Edenbrooke where she faces some startling situations and a dramatic romance with the flirtatious Phillip.

I was expecting it to be fan fiction but I was engrossed.  It really had great momentum, fantastic romantic tension and wonderful character development. I think Donaldson did almost the impossible by writing a believable Austen-like story that is not over the top romantic but engages the reader.  It was certainly a bold undertaking and I think she totally pulled it off.

It actually had one thing Austen never has- romantic dialogue.  We get it in spades but not so much that it feels like a dime romance novel.  To me it was perfect.  (You know its a good book if you stop listening to the audiobook and start reading because you are dying to know what is going to happen).

Go find it! Read it!

                                                                                  GoPicnic.com

One of my biggest challenges is finding meals that are easy and healthy, especially when I’m exhausted. I need things to be fast, healthy and delicious.  Recently I discovered the gopicnic meals in a box.  They have 9 different boxed meals, 6 of which are gluten free.  Most are under 400 calories and loaded with protein.

I’m not going to say they are the most substantial meal but in a pinch they will do fine.  An example of one meal is:

Turkey Stick and Crunch Meal

  • Old Wisconsin Turkey Snack Stick
  • Popchips Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Niagara Natural Tropical Fruit Bites
  • Sweet Perry Orchards Baja Blend Fruit & Nut Mix
  • Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Cookie

Sounds pretty good hah? I love them as a replacement for fast food or after a work out.  They also worked great for a road trip.

On the gopicnic website you can sign up for a subscription and get them for as low as 3.30 a box.

 

The Middle

I’ve mentioned it briefly on this blog but I love the show The Middle. It has just finished up its 3rd season and I think it gets better and better each year.  The show tells the story of the Hoosiers middle America, Heck family, and their hilarious struggles with everyday living.

The family has a stressed out mom played by Patricia Heaton (much more likable here than in Everybody Loves Raymond).  The level-headed but not stupid Dad is played by Neil Flynn from Scrubs. They are a very realistic couple who  seem to enjoy one another.  It is not a continual complain session by the wife over the husbands dumb antics.

The real stars of the show, however, are the children in the Middle.  The oldest son Axel is played by Charlie McDermott and he is basically my brother as a teenager but maybe more athletic.  Most of the show he is in boxer shorts.  It is a great performance.

My favorite performance is by Eden Sher as middle daughter Sue.  The costume department gets the tween fashion look right and she is perfectly eager. Sue tries out for things and never makes them. (I can certainly relate to that!).  She is also eager to make friends and fit in but that eagerness makes her not fit in and make friends.  I love her!

The youngest Heck is played by Atticus Shaffer as oddball kid Brick.  It is another funny nerdy performance.

In the end the Heck’s feel like a real Hoosier family and they get all the Indiana details right from Colts shrines to trips to Brown County to Tasty Kake and Steak N Shake (regional specialties). As an honorary Hoosier I love the all the details.  Watching The Middle is like being back in Indiana with my friends. 🙂

Lands End Swimsuits

Yes, that’s me in a swimsuit and yes, I have no issues with that.  I’m a big girl and I look good in a swimsuit. Deal with it!

The reason I can say this is thanks to Lands End Swimwear.

They have a wide range of swimwear both casual and active and the thing I love the most about their suits is they have active wear for plus size.  All 3 of my suits are from Lands End.  I don’t know what I would have done without their unique suits.  It is so hard to find active wear for plus sizes and I appreciate their presence in the market.

This month I got my first non-plus size suit from them because I wanted a tankini for longer swims.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked better in a suit. Hurray!

I also like that Lands End has suits that are modest with a low leg line and without being super tight.  Thanks!

 

So there are some products I’m mad for at the moment.  Will keep you posted as I find more.