Monday, March 29, 2010

Food Inc.

I have not watched a movie that made me cry so much in a long time. I expected to be a bit shocked, to be more informed by watching this move, that it would probably inspire me to change my ways a bit more, but I did not expect so many tears.

I recommend this movie to everyone. It is on Netflix instant viewing for anyone who has access to that. Otherwise, I plan on buying a copy that I will be happy to lend out to anyone who wants to see it. It is a truth that needs to be brought to light.

Religious or not, I think it is an issue that matters, but I can't help as an LDS person feel like I am not taking part in my duty to have dominion over animals, and to make sure that they are dealt with properly. When I saw the way that chickens and cows and pigs were treated in this movie, it made me weep. I am not against eating meat. There were also shots of cows and pigs living on their farms, eating grass and things they have been eating for thousands of years, and they looked so much happier. I think the life that the animals I eat lived affects the life I live (which is actually supported by them having better health and needing less antibiotics, and that being passed on to me the consumer).

Food policy is so messed up in the United States. It makes food that is not really cheap, cheap. I want to support food policy changes, but I also want to encourage anyone who has the means to spend your money on food. It is worth paying more for food that you can know where it came from, food where if you know where it comes from, it wouldn't make you want to weep. I go to the farmer's market, and I've had people ask me if it is cheaper. No, it's not really. But there is no question of whether the quality is better. There is no question that there is great satisfaction in talking to the person who just picked this food this morning. The price is higher, but the cost of cheap food is one I cannot pay.

Food is at the most basic level what keeps us alive. Food is our life. It is worth paying for.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Simple Beauty of a Family

I drive up to the house. There are two boys playing basketball at a stand in the driveway. They both say hi to me, even though they have never seen me before. I walk up to the door, and knock, and I am greeted by a squeal and a hug. I go in to see familiar faces.

We talk as LaVerne finishes up the preparations for dinner. I am afforded special honors as the guest along with Juliana, since it is her birthday. I would love to just sink into the background, to watch and observe, and just feel like a part of this great family, but I get even more included by being asked questions, and talking about my divorce, my ex, lots of different stuff, my work. We talk and eat, 8 kids, two parents, one guest, sitting around a table, with two of them at the counter right next to the table.

We finish eating, and kids trickle away, and just a few of us are left around the table talking. Then LaVerne starts asking Juliana what we're going to play for her birthday. The decision is made for hotbox. LaVerne gives me clothes to borrow, and I put them on, and join everyone else shoeless outside, where we run from blanket to blanket, trying to avoid getting hit by the ball that two people are throwing back and forth trying to catch us. I scream as I run, afraid that I am taking a risk by going at that time. I don't even notice it. I just do it by instinct, as I rush toward the safety of the blanket. Olivia grabs my hand, and wants me to run with her at a riskier move than I would have taken, and we run for it. I get more and more used to the game as it goes on, and take more risks, and scream louder as I run. I am terrified and thrilled as I step on the blanket safe each time. We play until the call is made that it is time for cake.

We all go inside and sing happy birthday, then eat cake. A few of us end up left at the kitchen table again, talking. I get a text, and LaVerne says I should go check it, so I go and grab my phone, and explain the story behind it. A little while later my mom calls, and asks how I'm doing. I tell her I'm with LaVerne and ask if she'd like to talk to her. Alexis, Jackie, and I listen to half of the conversation as they talk, and crack up at certain parts, because we have no idea what they are talking about. They talk for a long time, and LaVerne eventually goes into another room, and we start talking more, find out what is going on with them, they ask me about my work. Jackie starts picking up the dishes, and I follow in step, helping out. I rinse of dishes, hearing the sound of children around playing, and think that this is wonderful. I end up alone in the kitchen, and follow the sound of voices to the bedroom. There are four or five kids in there, LaVerne on the bed. I sit down, and just soak in the atmosphere. LaVerne shows me her pillows that she just made, and I watch Juliana play with the baby, while Olivia asks me if I am going to stay the night, then tells me she doesn't want me to stay the night.

Then it's bedtime, and the younger kids are directed to bed, to brush their teeth and wash their faces. They change into their pajamas, and ask LaVerne to sing to them. She sings Amazing Grace, and I sing along. She and Juliana sing a few more songs, and I join in when I know them.

I leave, and I am left with this feeling, this feeling that I have been part of something beautiful today, that I was invited into this family for a day, and got to take part in its beauty and power. It is refreshing, and I realize it is what I want. There is a line from a movie that says that children are what happens when your love spills out because you can't contain it just the two of you. I saw that physical reality today. It was powerful and beautiful. To me, that is what is worth grasping for, sacrificing for, striving for. I used to go over to this Hawaiian lady's house sometimes for their Sunday dinner, and I felt that same thing.

And LaVerne just amazed me. She just went about doing everything, and she wasn't stressed. She just seemed peaceful and happy with her life, like 9 kids, no big deal. And I'm sure it's not always like that, and that there are times when things for hard, but I imagine for the most part, she's learned to let go of the things that don't matter, and just focus on the things that do, because she's just so easy-going, and seemingly contented with her life.

Today was beautiful.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I am always excited to get a calling. The fresh new idea of serving in some new capacity, of feeling useful, of contributing, and taking things a new way.

I have two callings right now, and it is funny, because when I received both calls, I felt like I completely understood why I would be called to these positions, and I felt a great confidence in being able to do them, and thought that it would be great. My callings are Sunbeam teacher and Ward Choir Director.

I feel like these callings that I thought I would be great for, I end up feeling like a chicken running around with my head cut off. I have a few wonderful and faithful members of my choir, who are always there and support me, but I often feel like we have no one, we need men, we need women, we need anyone. I feel like I know from my singing class a bit about singing, but feel like my knowledge is more adaptable to helping individuals than a group. I often feel like I have no vision of what I am supposed to be doing, and I run choir practice by going through the motions.

I had a sliver of clarity today, though. I came to choir, and was lamenting that I had not sent out an email, that I had not yet talked to this woman who I wanted to do a descant, and then that I felt like there was no one in choir. I left my house too late to walk to church, so I drove, and then I had a couple minutes before choir, and I was thinking, and I wanted to do something. And the scripture came to my mind, that where two or three are gathered for the sake of the Father, he is there. And so I started off choir by reading that. And it made me more grateful for those wonderful dependable few who I know will always be there, and made me happy they were there. And it was a calming moment for me, and just a reminder that even if I don't have a choir with even all the parts represented, if I don't have the balance I think I need, that I have a small meeting there each Sunday, with a group of people who want to get together and sing praises to the Lord. And that the Lord is with us, just for that.

It is still hard to not let the other things get to me.

And then teaching Sunbeams. That calling is insane. I had a calling in nursery a few years ago and I loved it. I thought it was great. So I thought, Sunbeams, sure, this should be fine, right? And I love my niece whose that age, and love to play with her and whatever else, so this should be great.

The notion of trying to get three-year olds to sit relatively still for three hours is insane to me. I feel like it's constant in Sharing Time, trying to get one kid or another to sit still and stay in their seat. Then when it is time for class, I feel like it is a constant battle to try and keep their attention, and for me to keep focused on what I am even trying to teach. It is a good thing our lessons are as simple as "I am Thankful for Plants and Flowers" so when my mind gets distracted by the kids running around, and trying to get them back in their seats, I can remember that I just need to tell them something about plants.

I look at these lessons, and I am so excited about them. Like, just talking all about plants and flowers, that sounds awesome! And then I think about getting to share my passion with these kids. But it never ends up quite how I think it will. I am so grateful for the woman that I serve with. She is so engaging, and keeps their attention so well. I am so glad that I get to learn from her when she teaches every other week, and I hope that I can aspire to be as good a teacher to three-year-olds as she is. She is fabulous.

I think of the words of Enos a lot, about his struggle. These callings are such struggles to me, and I sometimes wonder if I am actually doing anything that matters. I love my little sunbeams. They are so cute, and they make me smile, and I am so glad I get to be with them, but I wonder if I am really teaching them anything.

But I also get the feeling that this struggle, this stress and whatever else, it means I'm where I'm supposed to be. It's not supposed to be easy, and it is certainly hard. And so the Lord has placed me here to grow. And so I hope that is what I am doing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sacrifice and Talent

I have been thinking lately about taking time to develop talents. I've been thinking particularly about writing. I stopped at Pizzeria 712 on my way home from work last night, and was reading a book while I waited and ate my food. And as I was reading, I felt more motivation to write, as I felt the ideas of the book inspiring me, and reminding me of the importance things in my life could have.

It is a hard thing to balance, feeling like I need to take time to myself, take time to read, time to write, and step away from the part of the world where I am directly interacting with people, that interacting with people at some point must be sacrificed to developing my own talents.

It seems like something that should come naturally to me, but it doesn't. Like it makes sense to me. I think of going to Carolyn's concert a couple weeks ago, and how wonderful that was. And I've been thinking of how much she has had to sacrifice through the years to have that talent. I remember her staying at home and practicing when others of us would go out and do things.

I don't know what I am meant to do in my life with writing, but I feel like it is what I was born to do. But I have a hard time taking out time, to step away from people, to go into books, and to go into my own little world, to develop it in mind and with words.

I guess it seems like if I was born to do it, it should not feel like so much of a sacrifice to do those things. But sometimes it really does. But my hope is that it will be worth it in the long run....and that I will do it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Amazing Birthday

Sometimes I think I forget how much I enjoy being with people. I live alone, and I love living alone, doing my own thing, and just living life. But I love being with people too. I love one on one, and I love small groups and big groups. I get focused in on the narrow base of people that I interact with on a pretty much daily basis, and I so easily forget how much I enjoy the company of so many people.

I hadn't really thought about what I wanted to do for my birthday this year. Then my sister was asking if I was going to be working that night, and I hadn't thought about it, and she said that she wanted to throw me a birthday party. And I've been excited about it ever since. I didn't want a night to sit at home and lick my wounds and be sad that I'm alone...or off working to avoid that. And so I've been excited.

And I was going off to a salon (yes I did pamper myself just a wee bit Deanna!), and my sister was stressing because she felt like she hadn't planned as well as she hoped. And I just got tears in my eyes, thinking about the great love that my sister has for me, and how she'd put herself through this stress and whatever, so that I could have a great birthday.

And I got a barrage of birthday wishes from people all day long. I went to go up and pick up my car today, and pay the $1600 I owed for it. Then I had to go to the courthouse and find out that I couldn't pay my ticket yet because of whatever issues. But it's like, there were well-wishers all throughout the day to make those things not matter, and just bring me back to my happy place, and remember that it was an amazing thing to be born.

24 years ago. 24 years ago I arrived on this earth. It's been a rough life. But it's been a beautiful life. I don't really expect there to be less pain and hardship than there has been in the last 24 years. I expect there will probably be more. But I expect to be able to bear it with more happiness. I've learned how to at times have the heart-wrenching joy that comes with being happy at the same time my heart is breaking.

And today I got to celebrate my life, hearing from so many people, having their care, then getting to have so many friends and family around me as my sister threw a birthday party for me, and to talk and laugh and play games. Every wish of a happy birthday made me feel just that much better. Every gift that was given made me that much happier. Every hug and call and text, just made it a great day.

I've been thinking about being 24, and I like the number. "It's a good number," I said to Emily, and so she wrote it on my cake, lol. It's gonna be a good year.

And next year on my birthday, I'm going to the hospital where I was born, and I'm gonna celebrate my birth minute there! You're all invited, so anyone who wants to join me, start planning now! It's gonna be awesome!

(And once again uber thanks to my sister for being amazing and awesome and making this birthday amazing, and to all of you for making this the best birthday I have ever had. Everyone should have every birthday be like this :)... (though hopefully not having to pay $1600 is car repairs lol!))

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sometimes I want to crawl into a hole. I want to make my own little world, where I can shut out all the stupid things that people do. I want to forget that I live in a world where people murder, where people rape, where people abuse children. I want to forget that I live in a world where people use alcohol and drugs to solve their problems. I want to forget that violence is rampant, and people make a mockery of some of the most sacred and beautiful things there are on the earth.

Because thinking about these things can make me weep. It makes me feel overwhelmed. It makes me wonder what difference my own little life can make, and how much happier I could be if I just lived blissfully ignorant in my little hole, and didn't know the horrible things that happened outside of it. It all seems like too much, and in my little hole, I can control things, I don't have to worry about the bad decisions other people make.

But staying in my little hole won't change that the world is like that. Ignoring those things, wanting to run away from these harsh realities, it won't change one thing. And so I step out. I step out and trust that my tiny little ripples matter, that they can make waves that will change the earth, and that the world is a better place because I am out of my hole. And I realize, if nothing else, I am a better person, just for trying.