Sunday, May 19, 2013

Empowering LDS Women

Hey, readers!  I recently wrote a guest post for one of my favorite blogs, "Empowering LDS Women" and it just went up last night.  I recently shared here on my blog that I've been less active in Church for some time.  This guest post is about my experiences growing up Mormon and why being part of the Church empowered me as a woman.  Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daydreams of Being a Skateboarder

I've spent the last few days working through a stomach flu and being stuck inside.  I'm now at that point where I'm feeling a million times better but I have to be a little careful because it's so tempting to run around like a maniac and overdo it. So what am I doing instead of running around like a maniac? Watching skateboarding videos, of course.

I don't skate. I'm an outsider looking in, so for those who actually skateboard, I might just sound like an idiot, or maybe I'm just stating the profoundly obvious, I don't know. Ben grew up skating most of his life, and has recently been doing a little bit again. He has always watched skate videos. I started watching too. At first it sort of all looked the same to me, and while it was impressive, I didn't really see how someone could just sit and watch other people skateboard.  I could do a 5 minute video, but three of them back to back?  Not so much. Until something switched and I started noticing things that I appreciated.  While I still couldn't name each trick, I started noticing how they did their tricks; their style. And the artistry of the video-editing in skate videos started to blow my mind a little.  Over time I realized I was developing favorite skaters and favorite video sections.  And I found that I wanted to watch them MULTIPLE times. Who knew? As an outsider, here is my brief opinion of what makes skateboarding so awesome and why it should be more broadly appreciated than it is.

It is as much an art form as it is a sport.  It's actually really similar to dance in that while it is brutally athletic, it's also expressive.  The attention to detail is intense; having to apply just the right amount of pressure at the right time and place to flip the board exactly right all while maintaining the right speed and balance for both a physical and visual affect.  The video component adds to the whole visual art of it as well. It involves just watching and appreciating how tricks look when done in different locations, on different surfaces, and from different angles, even in different lighting. In addition to video-editing, there is music.  Oh, the music! Skaters get to pick which song they want to go with a particular section they've been shooting. And to me, this is where you get to see if a skater really knows himself well.  I can never get into sections that have thrasher music- but that's just a matter of personal taste.  I guess my reason is that thrasher music does little to express a rhythm for me.  My favorite sections are often the ones where a skater can pick a song that has a rhythm and a feel that just matches the way he skates.  Skating definitely has rhythm. And depending on whether a particular skater specializes in a lot of smaller stuff (smaller not necessarily being less impressive), or jumps a lot of big gaps or what have you, that rhythm varies from skater to skater. Some of the best videos come about when a skater knows his rhythm and style and can pick music to match.  While I still don't have extensive knowledge of skate videos, my absolute favorites thus far are Cory Kennedy's and Marc Johnson's sections in Pretty Sweet, as well as Andrew Reynolds' section in Stay Gold. I couldn't get a hold of any sections from the Pretty Sweet video on youtube (we bought it on iTunes). I did, however, find the Andrew Reynolds one on youtube. He skates some big gaps in this video, and I think the music fits perfectly with that.

Why isn't skateboarding more widely appreciated?  There are too many reasons to go into, and it gets weirdly political too. Unfortunately, there are some skateboarders who get caught up in alcohol and drugs and end up getting in trouble all the time and they're the ones people look at and say, "Skateboarders are a bunch of dangerous punks." There are always the bad apples that give everybody a bad name. There have been attempts to make skateboarding more mainstream, like the X-Games. My issue with that is that it removes most of the things I like best about skateboarding. It tends to leave it kind of stale and soulless, although admittedly still impressive. To me it seems like the X-Games wants to make skateboarding about the angry/rebellious image, about competition and money and energy drinks.  And I guess a lot of skateboarders do like those things. But if you look at skateboarding itself, as this thing that began organically from people just being creative, it's not money-driven, angry, or even competitive at all.  It's cooperative.  It's about taking all these pieces and creating something new out of them that didn't exist before.  They took roller skate wheels, attached them to a board and began redefining space. Railings, stairs, bushes, mailboxes; I've seen all these things made into something totally different in skateboarding. And when you watch videos, what are all the skaters doing?  Are they trash-talking and competing?  Nope.  They're cheering each other on, and supporting each other.  They're celebrating when another skater finally lands a trick he's been trying to get all day. When you watch interviews with the skateboarders themselves, they spend time talking about other skaters who inspire them and whose work and attitudes they appreciate. That's kind of what I like about it so much. While I do think skateboarding deserves wider appreciation, I'd be satisfied to leave it as it is if it means it can maintain its cooperative, expressive and artistic nature.

Also, this:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Date Yourself

I'm officially in the off-season from work, so I have a couple months to be as productive with my time as I wish. I'm recalling a lesson that Ben and I taught together to the Relief Society in the Singles Ward we served in. At the time, there were a ton of stellar single women who were often frustrated because guys never asked them out. So we taught a lesson called "Date Yourself". We talked about the value of getting to know oneself and love oneself and finding satisfaction inwardly before going out and trying to find all those things with someone else. Liking yourself and knowing yourself will never be a waste as it can only improve your relationships with others.

I've been spending more time with myself this week and I'm rediscovering that, hey, I do like me! I went for a hike and took photos. The sun beating down on me was like a welcome visit from an old friend. There's nothing like sunshine to make me love being me. I love that I have skin that can drink in the warmth. I love I have limbs that can take me places. I also listened to music, which I haven't done in a long time. I don't know if everyone feels this way, but I think my willingness to be emotionally vulnerable allows me to enjoy music in a unique and intense way. I did some cleaning, which isn't exactly a blast, but it did feel good to be otherwise productive.

I've been through periods of time when I really didn't like me, when I really thought I wasn't enough. I've spent a lot of time trying to force myself to be better than I am. Improvement is a worthy goal. But my own quest for perfection often led me to inwardly do violence to myself without realizing it.

So here I am, just taking a moment to share the happy news. I like me today!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Change in My Life

I have always had an obsessive need to be understood.  That's what I always thought, anyway.  But perhaps more accurately I've always had an obsessive need for others to think well of me, and misunderstandings which led people to think I was uncaring or somehow unworthy always hurt me to the core.  I'm learning that while I do care a great deal about people's feelings, I also need to learn to let go and allow people to think of me what they will.  It's time to learn how to find solace in knowing who I am, rather than seeking solace in the approval of others.

With all of that, I feel it's time for me to be straight-forward with my friends and acquaintances about who I am, and where I am in my life; not for the sake of asking opinions or getting any feedback, but for the sake of living my life wholly, undivided, and without pretense.  Without constantly worrying about being judged.  It's time to let go.  This is a very hard thing for me to say, but for a while now I have been less active in my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Ben and I haven't been attending Church for the last eight months or so.  The reasons are far too numerous, and some too personal to share.  We still love and treasure so much about the Church, and we love everyone we have attended Church with in our wards and stakes.  While this is something Ben and I are going through together, I will restrict the rest of my words to my experience alone, as I really only speak for myself.

This has been a very difficult process for me, with a great deal of loss and grieving, but also a great deal of hope and joy shining through.  It is hard to be away from things that I have known and loved my whole life, from things that are so familiar and comfortable to me.  My friends who have never been Mormon may not ever understand how much meaning and beauty and happiness can be found in a Mormon life, or how important that meaning will always be to me.  But it is something I carry with me.

While I do not know for sure what the future will hold, for now my life is very different than it has been.  I'm doing my best to keep my heart open, and I still believe that God loves us very much.  I still see many blessings in my life for which I am truly grateful.  I continue to seek guidance from the Lord in helping me to be the best, healthiest and happiest version of myself I can be.  As my beliefs have shifted over time, I have been acutely aware that most of those who know and love me might feel confused or saddened about this change.  Nevertheless, I feel compelled to exercise integrity and live in harmony with those beliefs.  I also feel compelled to express these things publicly because I don't want to feel as though half of my life is a secret.  I know I cannot live that way; constantly trying to hide or explain away everything I do that others disagree with in an attempt to retain their approval.  I cannot lie.  My friends deserve more than that.

For those of you who know me best, you already know I can get carried away with explanations, wanting to make every detail perfectly clear.  At this point an attempt to explain how my beliefs have shifted and why I am making the decisions I am would be a very bad idea.  I am not a woman of few words and it would take far too many of them, and far too much emotional energy for both you and I to go through it all.  I cannot explain myself to you.  All I can do is let you know that my life is changed, and I am changed.  I am sorry to those of you who feel let down or disappointed by this, or by me.  Know that I still support you in your faith, and that I'm still proud of my Mormon heritage.  I am still proud when I hear of my friends getting mission calls and getting married.  I'm still happy for your milestones and contributions in the Church and the world.  Know that I am still in the process of becoming.  And despite my many flaws, I believe it's going well and that I am where I am meant to be.