Month: September 2013

Secret Prayer

There is a hymn in my church called Secret Prayer. It has been a favorite of mine since the mission.  Here is a cool version by The Lower Lights:

I love the lyrics:

  1. 3. When sailing on life’s stormy sea,
    ‘Mid billows of despair,
    ‘Tis solace to my soul to know
    God hears my secret prayer.
  2. 4. When thorns are strewn along my path,
    And foes my feet ensnare,
    My Savior to my aid will come,
    If sought in secret prayer

Do you ever have moments where you learn He really is giving you aid and strength?  There are things which I struggle with that I literally can not share fully with anyone on this earth.  There are issues that everyone else thinks I have moved on from which still cause me great pain and sorrow.  For example, each time I think of my grandpa’s passing I miss him and wish he were here to love me.

I also think about the times when I was in the billows of despair and God was there for me in secret prayer.  Its interesting that in my novel my readers all were amazed at how much the character based on me prays.  If anything I lightened it from the actual time period.  Prayer and my friends were the only thing that kept me going in a time I just couldn’t shake the unhappiness away.

I had a cool experience this week.  One of the amazing things about open water swimming as a plus size girl is I have been able to open up the world of competitive athletics for many other girls in a variety of sports.  Girls can look at me and say ‘she looks like me, maybe I can do that too?’.

One such example is my friend Abby.  She saw some of my posts about swims and thought maybe she’d give it a try.

First she asks Can I be ready then?
First she asks Can I be ready then?
You totally could- my response
You totally could- my response

So she trained and lo and behold in September she rocked it having a time under 50 minutes.  She will have to correct me on the exact time.  We have kept in touch this year and I’ve been able to motivate others to enter races and swim.  Abby and I even met this summer.  Super fun.

Here we are with Etsuko

abby

Then the time for her race was coming and I was having a stressful week thinking about Slam the Dam and whether I could make the time limit, not to mention returning home from a trip and getting caught up.  Its of doubt no surprise that I was up all night most nights this week.  (Including tonight I might add).

Eventually 2 am hit and still no sleep Thursday night.  What was bothering me?  Suddenly I had a moment of clarity and I knew I had to ‘help my friend Abby’ but what can a person do when there are barely 24 hours before the event?   On a whim I decided to see if there were florists that would do same day delivery where she lived.  (luckily she had given me her address at Christmas!).  Fortunately there was such a place and the flowers were delivered.

I kind of thought nothing of it until I got a tweet from Abby late last night.  It truly touched me.  Unbeknownst to me she’d had a terrible week and was about to give up on the race when the flowers came.

spiritTo all of you out there- you do have at least one friend who really cares.  I believe in the gifts of the spirit and one of mine is to believe, never doubting.  The other is to love people.  I seem to feel deeply attached to people on very small acquaintances and it has served me quite well in life.

I do have my secret pains that will never go away.  They will never be the same but I also have my secret prayers and loved one’s that are anxiously trying to answer those prayers on the Lords behalf.  They are listening to the spirit and acting upon it and I occasionally get that opportunity myself.  It is a transcendent moment in life.

There is an hour of peace and rest,

Unmarred by earthly care;
‘Tis when before the Lord I go
And kneel in secret prayer.
The straight and narrow way to heav’n,

Where angels bright and fair
Are singing to God’s praise, is found
Thru constant secret prayer.

I hope to be constant in my secret prayers and always have his angels to assist me.

We are in His hands

img-belong-to-christ

 

 

 

DNF is Not a 4 Letter Word

For those of you who do not follow me on facebook you might not be aware of the recent drama in my life.  It started in the summer when my new friend Tanya and I started training together.  She was new to open water.  New to swimming in fact.  She is a student of my friend Kate who is a fabulous swim instructor for adults.  She’s introduced so many people to swimming and open water over the years and has helped me tons with my own stroke.

In July Tania mentioned to me that she wanted to prepare for a race but didn’t feel she would be ready for Deer Creek in August.  The next obvious choice was to take the trip out to Slam the Dam in Las Vegas at the beginning of October.  I have done this race in 2011 and it was a lot of fun.  I figured why not?  (I had signed up last year but various dramas kept me from attending).

So the training began and we got to blackridge pond as often as we could and we both saw improvement.  More importantly we had fun and became dear friends.

Tania and me.
Tanya and me.

Tanya is honestly good for my ego because she thinks I’m such a good swimmer.  I love to swim but pretty much always know I’m the slowest girl in the room and I’m ok with that.  I get the job done and that’s all that matters to me.  I’ve told Tanya repeatedly over these weeks ‘this is a hobby.  If it isn’t fun you are doing something wrong’.

That said, I’ve had nagging doubts about my abilities all along.  With my back and other chronic pain I haven’t been able to train as hard as last year, it was frustrating for me to feel like I wasn’t the swimmer I was just a few months ago.  These anxieties were made worse by the realization of a strict time limit at Slam the Dam.  For some unknown reason the park service would only give them until 11 am and then everyone has to be done.

This only gives the 1.2 mile swimmers 1 hour to swim.  The organizers have told me it is ‘plenty of time for a swim’ but they don’t understand or aren’t interested in nurturing new/nontraditional athletes.  My best time on a 1 mile swim is 53 minutes. At Deer Creek my time was 1 hr 2 minutes for 1 mile.

To make matters worse they sent out an email last week saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race”  What does that even mean?  I’m not mentally prepared for life let alone a race.  I mean who feels adequately prepared for something so monumental?  I bet if you asked Michael Phelps he’d tell you things he wished he’d done or worked harder on.  To me this was baffling and kind of mean-spirited. (and I begged for some kind of an accommodation but no go)

They have also made it clear that you will be pulled from the water if you go over time, which I’m ok with but I just wish the time limit didn’t exist.  It honestly makes me sick inside.  Sick for my friend.  Sick for me.  Sick for all the other new swimmers who will be discouraged from participating.  A side of me wants to throw in the towel and not make the effort to drive out there and be humiliated…

But where’s the victory in that? I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance depending on weather, current, course, strength, stroke etc that I finish the race.  My GSL time after all was 1 hr 24 minutes so not even close to the cut off time because of the strong current. (Thank you Utah races for not having a time limit or at least a strictly enforced one).

50/50…so I either succeed and have a triumphant moment or I get a DNF (Did Not Finish).  Even now there is a side of me that shudders when I say those words.  It is so outside of my nature to not finish, and yet isn’t it always a possibility in any endeavor?  At least anything worth doing can be a success or failure?

The funny thing is  the ingredients are nearly the same for a finish and a DNF- both have training, goal setting, driving, racing, happy friends and lots of people who say to me ‘I could never do that’.  The only difference is me and my pride.  Kind of silly…

I love what JK Rowling says about failure. ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”

I don’t want to fail by default.  For me a DNF will be a DNQ (Did Not Quit)

swimmingHow do you guys deal with DNF’s and potential failures in your goals?  Its especially hard when it is so outside of your control.  What are your strategies?

I can definitely promise you this- I will not be swimming Slam the Dam again anytime soon.  If they only want athletes with a specific set of skills than they have got it.  This will be the last year myself or my blog are involved.  Too bad really…

I’ve gotten some great encouragement on facebook from the swim forums.  Thanks everyone!

Overrated Movies Part 2

A few months ago I did a post on what I felt like were overrated movies.  Now I was very clear to state “these are not necessarily bad movies.  I just think they aren’t as good as they are touted to be.  Basically I was expecting to be wowed and left feeling blahhh”.  Meaning I was disappointed but not necessarily repulsed or miserable.  Save that for my post on movies I hate.

The response to my little movie post has blown me away.  I have 83 comments, and that’s just the comments that were postable.  Some were so over the top in their name-calling I did not approve them.  This is not a forum of free speech and if you can’t treat others with a modicum of respect I have no time for you.

The thing that amazes me is I’ve done posts about gay marriage, abortion, religion, politics and not gotten near the vitriol that a simple post on movies got.  Nothing else even comes close. IT IS JUST THE MOVIES PEOPLE!

To give you a feel of some of the comments I got both posted and not:

“i can tell that you know absolutely nothing about movies. giving and opinion doesnt make you an expert about films.”    Did I ever claim to be an expert on films?  This is just my personal blog for my friends and family?

“that perfectly demostrates that real art its perceptible only for few. keep sleeping kid.”   My response to this is if the movie/art is as good as you say it is why are you so threatened by someone who wasn’t even saying it was bad?  Art should be open to a variety of responses if it is good art.

AND WHY AMERICA DO WE HAVE TO THINK THE SAME WAY ABOUT EVERYTHING?

I was also told (along with my fellow commentators)

You people all have the brain capacity of a roach.”

Another person said:

“This country has done nothing but breed sissy men and women for the last 30 years”   So now because I didn’t like the Dark Knight the entire country is to blame?  I am also in a tiny minority on the DK front so maybe others were educated in being more manly than I was?

You are “completely r@$%$$d”  (profanities to follow)

I was also told my list was ‘laughable‘ and that I was the worst ‘critic of overrated movies of all time‘  Here’s a thought- I’m not a critic!  I’m just a girl with a blog that writes about movies occasionally.  I have done nearly 700 posts in my blogging career and by my count 26 of them have been about movies.

I had to laugh when one person said I made them ‘cry’ to include The Graduate on the list (we actually had a delightful back and forth after that and I may give the movie another shot. )

Roger Ebert once said ‘I know as a critic I’m required to have a well-armored heart’.  He also said “In my reviews, I feel it’s good to make it clear that I’m not proposing objective truth, but subjective reactions, a review should reflect the immediate experience”

Thank you Roger.  It’s just my subjective reaction.  Why does that bother some so much?  Its not a truth carved in stone that everyone has to LOVE the Godfather.  What is wrong with thinking it was ok but a little slow?  Why is that so offensive?

I’d understand if you were in the movie, made the movie, wrote the movie but to be so upset over a simple opinion boggles the mind.

That said, I don’t want to give you the impression I was discouraged by the post.  Most of the 83 comments were constructive, insightful and interesting.  For that, I am overwhelmingly grateful.  If anything, I’ve been wracking my brain for other movie-related posts I could enter (oddly enough during this period I’ve watched little to no movies and none in the theater for at least 6 months).  Any suggestions of movie posts you’d like to read?

I welcome those with differing opinions, even strongly worded ones that say something instead of merely insulting me, my readers and/or all Americans.  One of the things I like about my roommate is she has such strong feelings on so many things.  Its fun to be around someone that makes you think.  I hope I do that for people.  I hope they say hmmm ‘I’ve never thought about it that way…’.

So please comment away but try not to cry.  It really is just a movie!  Relax!

25Movies-600x360

Box Month Review

The award goes to…

(Excuse the length of this video.  A lot to cover 🙂  ).

After a month and half of trying subscription boxes I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  I hope you have all enjoyed the reviews.  I now plan on moving on and covering only an occasional box on the blog (I want to keep the blog varied and interesting).  My goal with the blog has always been to be like a magazine for me.  Stuff I think is interesting, fun, exciting, meaningful.

Basically the blog is an exercise in self-indulgence that somehow has interested all of you.  I write about movies, books, politics, religion, writing, vacations, subscription boxes, swimming, current events, TV, weight loss and much more.  Thanks to all of you for reading my ‘silly thoughts’ as I say in the byline. More to come.

What would you guys like to see more of?  What posts have you liked more than others?  My movie posts are always quite popular but I’ve been on a bit of a movie drought lately.   I would love feedback.

subscription

Thanks and get subscribing! 🙂

If you want to read/watch my more detailed reviews of individual boxes check out

 

https://smilingldsgirl.com/?s=subscription+boxes

Peach Dish

I only have a second because I am working but my last box to try came.  Its called Peach Dish.  Its a meal service where you get delivered all the ingredients for a 4 course meal for 2 in the mail.  You can do it on a weekly basis for $20 or individually for $24.  They include all the recipes and everything is healthy and organic/grass fed (even the meat comes with it)

You can also buy grass fed beef and produce in bulk at very reasonable prices from the site.

peach dishI think this is a particularly smart idea if you are like me, single and cooking for 1, or married cooking for 2.  How easy to have everything ready to go? You just have to add oil, salt and pepper!

What do you guys think?  I will be posting a review of my favorite boxes later tonight.  What have looked the most interesting to you?  Which one’s would you subscribe to?  Thanks to all who let me try out there boxes for review at free or discounted prices.  It has been super fun.

Here’s my meal (posted later in the evening)

peach dish2

Whimsey, Blush and Watanut

So I figure I’d make it an record 3 posts today.  So much to get caught up on.  I came home to find more boxes to sample (some I paid for 1 without having to subscribe).

First one blush

http://www.blush.com/

blush august

This box had an incredible value and the nice thing is you can subscribe for $24.95 or buy it individually at $34.95

They also do a beauty profile and ask you to guage your fashion sense.

Here is the breakdown of the bag

Blush mystery bag
22 Mowie Wowie
18 Mor hand cream
2 Intelligent beauty restorative conditioner
20 Vapour Elixer Lip Gloss
5.71 Eminence Dermafoliant
22 Carita Progressif Mask
10 anastasia topcoat
4.48 coola sunscreen
14.4 pixi eye pen
1.87 dremu oil
8.43 sales tax
128.89 value of bag
price of bag 24.95 with subscription
34.95 for individual bag
 103.94  value

Pretty amazing value right?

The other two boxes I tried are whimsey, a craft box, and watanut, a food box.

I was very impressed with the packaging of whimsey box and the craft looks really fun.  Its $15 a month which is significantly less than other craft boxes.  This month is a bracelet and I think they look really pretty. I’m excited to get my craft on.  This would be a fun box for a group of girlfriends to all get or teenagers.  FHE activities!

Pretty packaging
Pretty packaging
The finished product bracelets
The finished product bracelets

Watanut is a nut box and everything seemed yummy; however, I don’t think it is as nice as naturebox.  With naturebox you can pick what you want and you get 5-7 bags as opposed to only 4 with watanut.  Still, everything tasted good.  Its $25 a month. Something to consider.  Would make a nice gift since you can order them individually

watanut

Gwynnie Bee

Hi guys! I wanted to tell you about a cool new service for plus size fashion.  Readers of this blog may remember my feelings on plus size fashion as featured on this blog https://smilingldsgirl.com/2010/10/16/a-note-on-plus-size-fashion/ 

However, bad fashion aside one of the problems bigger girls like me has is that our sizes can fluctuate greatly depending on a ton of different factors.   I’ve changed sizes in as quick as a month both on the upswing and downswing.  This can be extremely discouraging and expensive.  Most of the time it leaves us girls wearing frumpy clothes that are too lose or tight (both depressing).  You don’t feel pretty but you don’t want to invest in new clothing that you may only wear for a couple of months.  So you end up buying something cheap that is hardly flattering.  Basically you settle.

Well, someone has finally figured out a solution to this problem.  Its called Gwynnie Bee.  It is basically the netflix of clothes.  You log on to the site and then build up your ‘closet’ full of shirts, skirts, dresses and blazers (no pants for some reason?) and all of them are size 10 to 30 and designer names.  You can then pick a plan ranging from $35 for one piece of clothing, $59 for 2, $79 for 3.  For basically the price of a pair of jeans you can look fresh and new.

It only takes 2 days to send you your clothes and it includes a usps bag to seal up the garments when you are finished.  Then in 2-4 days you get the next items on your list.  Here’s an overview

Don’t you think that is a clever idea?  My only concern is that I need pretty modest clothes because of my religion and they have too many short dresses (I am also 5 ‘8 so what is short to me may be just right for some).  Right now you can try for free for 30 days.

http://goo.gl/pSDOfQ

What do you guys think?

2 of the looks I got in my gwnnie bee.  What do you think?
2 of the looks I got in my gwnnie bee. What do you think?