Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tribute to Mothers

I was studying the scriptures the other day, and then had an idea of writing a post as a tribute to mothers. I didn't have my computer on me, so I just wrote a quick note that about doing a post on it, and saw the note today, and could not remember what I wanted to say. But as I've thought about it, some of it has come back to me.

The power of mothers is great. I was at a CASA (Court appointed special advocate) conference, and if you don't know what that is, it basically means that it was a conference that dealt a lot with how to help troubled children, especially children who come from homes where there is abuse and neglect going on.

I know a lot of mothers right now, mothers who choose to stay home with their children, instead of seeking other work. My comments are directed specifically at them, but apply across the board to good mothers and parents.

What you are doing does matter. Not just if you succeed either. You could have the most troubled child in this world, but your love and care, your persistence, it is making a difference, and it matters, even if it is not doing as much as you wish it could.

What other mothers are doing doesn't matter to make you a good mother. You are your own person, and have to do the best with the talents and blessings you have, not someone else.

Worry less, love more. You are beautiful, for being a mother. The change in your breasts, the stretch marks, the baby weight, they mark you as a mother. Wear them with pride, like your battle scars.

Your children listen to you, moreso when you don't think about it than when you want them to. Don't feel guilty about that. Feel proud. You say good things.

There are lots of kids in this world who did not get enough love at home, who are trying to go off and find it somewhere else. Your love is powerful. Your hugs, your kisses, your I love yous, your reading books, and laughing, and playing, making meals, and teaching. These things are powerful. These shape the lives of your children, and they protect them and keep them safe.

It matters. What you do it matters. Probably more than anything else. So keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Embracing Imperfection

I saw this post linked by somebody on facebook, and it drew me in, and it is a good post. I highly recommend it. And it left me with two desires, which kind of mingled with another desire I had, so this may kind of be a mishmash of stuff going on in this post.

The first thing I want to say is that you are beautiful. Every person who is reading this, you are beautiful. We are all imperfect. We may be far from what we think is ideal, but every single one of you has great beauty within you. I remember when I was younger thinking that I did not understand the word ugly, because I had never met a person who I would call ugly. I still haven't. The world is full of beautiful people, and I'm not talking about someone else, not that other person you see, I'm talking about you. And I don't mean you 20 years ago or 20 pounds ago, or whenever you look back on and think you looked your best then, I mean right now. You are truly beautiful.

On the flip side, I want to be real about me. I think I'm beautiful, in body and spirit, but that does not mean I am perfect.

I have often watched entire seasons of shows in the space of a day or less. This is my biggest coping mechanism when something is not going well for me, throw myself in a show and I don't have to think. Throwing myself in a book is a joy, a passtime, throwing myself in a show is an escape.

I have never been suicidal, but I have wanted to abandon my life at times, and embrace hedonism. That is my brand of self-destruction.

My house is never completely clean. The only kitchen that gets cleaned regularly is my kitchen, and I mess it up as soon as I clean it.

I am crippled by fear, in even what I think, and consider doing. I try to overcome it, but it is a huge weakness, fear of how people will react, fear of being rejected.

I made a goal to shower ever other day. I still don't shower that often.

I pick my nose and eat it. I have actually been thinking about doing a blog post on that.

I am a virgin.

I think one of the hardest things when I got divorced was wondering if someone would love me for all these things that Janardan hadn't. Would someone else accept them, and what would happen when I dated someone else, and I had to tell them the truth about me? Then they would want to go running to the hills.

But then I began to appreciate myself. I don't really know how or where it came, except that I know it came through the atonement, even though I asked for healing of so much less than what was given. I love myself now more than I ever have in my life, and all those things I used to tell myself, the things I used to worry about, they are still true. But I am better at embracing what is good about those things, in taking pride in them, or seeing them as a point of starting to work on improvement, or seeing them as not a big deal, and something to be worked on later.

And so I urge all of you - appreciate yourself. Love your imperfections as well as the perfections. Love your body for all it allows you to do, no matter what limitations it puts on you. Forgive others so you can forgive yourself. And forgive yourself. Move past the mistakes you have made, and work for a better future, but allow yourself to be imperfect, and to find joy who you are, in this moment, and in every moment.

I love you all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Lord's Tender Mercy

I have kind of been freaking out this week about money. I pretty much paid up front for the place I will be staying the entire month while I am in Australia, along with my new passport fee, and then about $1000 worth of stuff for my car ($850 in car repairs and $140 for registration). And I still have hanging over my head the purchase of my ticket, saving money for buying food and money for rent for January and February.

I was especially freaking out with the car stuff, trying to decide whether it was worth it to pay for the registration when I will really only be using it one month, etc. etc. All this going back and forth in my head.

And then the counsel from the Lord, to have faith, to just have faith. So I decided Thursday that I was just going to have faith, and when confronted with worry, instead of giving in, to couteract it with faith, faith that the Lord could provide for me, and that all would be well.

So I've also been having mad cravings for Guru's sweet potato french fries. Like for about a week, I would go through wanting them, thinking about buying them, remembering I have no spare money, and then just thinking about them again. So then the day I decided I was just going to have faith, I came home, and went to say hi to the fam next door, and they had just come home from Guru's, and had Guru's sweet potato fries leftover, and I got to eat some of their delicousness. It just felt like a little message from the Lord, that he was aware of me, and that if he could bring me these fries that I had just wanted, just had a small desire for, how much more he would watch over me in the things I prayed for, and desired so much more.

The Lord truly loves all of us, and I am so grateful for him, and how he blesses my life. And I am glad he is looking out for me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"That which is worth eating should be worth savoring"

I was talking to my friend a little while ago, and was telling her how I have not always loved food the way I do now. She was surprised, because I talk about food all the time, and it is something I love so much, and cherish about being alive.

I have always been a kind of picky eater. I don't know if on the spectrum of picky eaters that my pickiness is that much, but I would definitely say I am somewhat picky. I can't stand to eat a warm sandwich, do not much like peanut butter and jelly.

Ever since I have moved out of the house, I have enjoyed cooking, the act of creation, it is just something I am drawn to. Being married to Janardan, and his not appreciating or really eating anything that I made that did not come from a box just made me not want to cook for him, but I still liked to cook things for myself, but I still think I had a bit of guilt when I would make things for myself and not want to make whatever he would eat for him, even if I did try to avoid feeling it.

Then we lived in Texas, and that was a very weird food adventure, living in a vegetarian household. I've always eaten meat and enjoyed it. I liked this guy in high school who claimed to be a vegetarian (I don't think he actually was), and it made me consider being a vegetarian, and I didn't eat meat for about two weeks. The last day of my vegetarianism, I was fasting, and my purpose was to determine if I should be a vegetarian. The conclusion I came to was that I should not, based on a scripture in the D&C, and a line from my patriarchal blessing. It was a moment of anxiety for me, as my dad had made Sunday dinner, and was making chicken, so I knew I would have to either tell him I wanted to be vegetarian, or eat the chicken. I ended up eating the chicken salad, and it was delcious.

So being in Texas, just having something denied to me made it that much more difficult not to eat it. I did not eat a ton of meat before I moved to Texas, but just not being able to eat it, I went kind of crazy and craved it a lot. I bought beef jerky to put in my car, just as my safety net, so that if I ever just like had a craving too bad, I could go out and eat some. I don't think I ever did, but it made me feel better. I would order things with meat every time I went out to eat. My dad took me to my first Brazilian barbecue during that period of time, and it was the perfect time to indulge in so much meat.

When I got back from Texas, I still kept eating tons of meat, just like, wanted to get it in while I could, still feeling that scarcity mentality. I still have a bit of meat in my freezer that I bought during that period of time.

There are too many factors to list each individually, but I would say that there are three factors that have influenced me the most in my present relationship with food. The first was a lesson we had in Sunday School about the word of wisdom, and there are lots of beautiful words in there about enjoying fruits in the season thereof, and lots of things about in the seasons. It was then I realized that I had no concept of what things were in season, that I had no idea what the seasons of food were. I do not think I anticipated how much I would change by that, just asking that simple question, "What is in season?" And it is a question that has made me love food.

It is the step beyond just eating to live, and going to the point where you live to eat. It is that question that first took me to the farmers market in Provo last year, that took me to the Promenade in Pleasant Grove, where I met the farmer that I now get my CSA from (Community Supported Agriculture - it is kind of like getting a share of the harvest). It is that question that brought me excitedly to the first week of the farmers market this year, where I fell in love with asparagus. I had never liked it before when I had had it, but I was craving something fresh, something wonderful, and asparagus fit the bill. It is what brought me to try all sorts of things. It is what today brought me to be eating a pepper like an apple (actually that owes itself to my dabble into raw foodism too, which I found to be unrealistic, but helped me appreciate that some things can just be eaten wholly raw, and be quite good.)

The second factor is probably Pizzeria 712. There is a quote they have on their wall, on their website, and seems to be a bit of their motto, ""When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is." - Alice Waters. I have thought of that quote a lot, and the food I love to eat at Pizzeria 712, as I have cooked this summer. Perhaps my favorite meal that I have made this year...ok, there are too many, so many have been yummy, but one, I just threw together a bit of everything that I had at the time, and cooked it, and it was so delicious. It is because of that motto. The best and the tastiest are what is in season -right now-. You can make some great combinations. Man, I have eaten some delicious things this year.

The third factor has probably been Food Inc. Trying to eat locally (another factor influenced by my sister, but also by just knowing what is seasonal by what is grown around you) pushed me to want to eat meat that was at least grown in Utah, but watching Food Inc. made me care so much more what kind of meat it was that I buy. It makes things like chicken broth so much harder, but also so much better. I have 5 chickens in my freezer, and I will probably eat them at a rate of one per month, if not less often, so that I can spread it out until I am able to order another bunch. But it is not just the chicken that I cherish. I have the skins in my freezer right now, no idea what I am going to do with them, but I will figure out something to do with them sometime, but I cherish those bones so much, because they will make wonderful, delectable chicken broth.

One thing I have found in my food journey is that most things I think I do not like, I do not like because I simply have not had the best, or because I have not found a setting which I like it in yet. Like the day I had stuffed mushrooms changed me forever towards mushrooms. I now love them, in so so many ways. Right now I do not really care for turnips or radishes, but I will continue to try them in different settings, when offered by other people, in the search of the thing that will change me toward them, because I believe that every food out there can bring me a joy and satisfaction.

I love food, because it is a precious gift. It is a gift of labor, of life.

I have the quote that is the title here hanging up in my kitchen. It is not because I think it speaks of some quintessential part of me, that it just defines me, but as a reminder to me, that I enjoy life, I enjoy eating, I enjoy food better when I savor it. I work hard to keep food worth savoring all around me, by eating seasonal, by having the best milk, the best meat, the best cheese. Today I got to work, and wanted to eat something before I needed to start work to replenish myself a little from my bike ride, and so I was chomping down a fresh red pepper. Then I thought of that quote, and slowed down, and ate and chewed with appreciation. What a wonderful time of year, a wonderful season, to be the time when this pepper was picked at perfection, so that I could then be savoring it at that moment.

I hope my journey has just begun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Maybe I really am a Writer

I just recorded a recording of the part of a story I have been working on, and it took a half an hour to read it aloud. When I finished, and saw how much time had elapsed, I thought "Perhaps I really am a writer."

I have a lot of doubt in myself, especially with fiction. I have a certain concept of how such things come to be, and it does not fit my way of operating. I am not a person who will lock myself up in my room for a month at at time, and just write a book. It takes work every day, each small painstaking step. I get small bits of momentum, but it always takes effort.

I meet other people who write, and they just seem to have this internal drive, like they -must- write, and it seems like the stories just spill out of them. I feel like I can be like that at times, but it is more often than not, non-fiction, in the form of journaling or blogging, writing letters, or something like that.

But I keep going, making the small efforts day by day, doing my 20-30 minutes of writing time, sometimes daring to take that into fiction (I missed two days, when I was getting exhausted of writing...but I'm back and more dedicated), and today, I read a small part of that product, and it is going somewhere, and this world I have found, this place and these people I am writing about, I have hundreds of more stories to tell. So maybe I am beginning to find myself as a writer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Because I choose to

(Reposted from December)

The words of Neo in the final Matrix movie are somewhat immortal to me. They go with other timeless quotes such as "To thine own self be true". And they get at something that I think is at the heart of our very existence. The backdrop is Agent Smith fighting him, with mind as well as body. He has throughout the whole triology been telling Neo that "It is inevitable". And it culminates in this moment:

Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?
Neo: Because I choose to.

Because I choose to. These are the words that ring out and stand as a banner for everything we are and everything we can be. It is the admission that in everything we do there is, or at least at one time, there was a choice. We cannot control the world around us. We cannot stop the winds and the storms, we cannot stop the sun from rising, or force it to rise, but in ourselves, we are our masters. We choose what we do. This is the powerful gift, the divine gift of agency.

The whole point of the atonement is to give us the ability to raise from the ashes from our own bad decisions. It is to give us greater freedom to choose, and that one bad decision will not ruin our lives and destroy our ability to choose forever, but as we cling to that, that we may gain greater and greater freedom. If you look at any command the Lord has given, what appears to be a restriction upon closer inspection is a protection of that divine right to choose, a guide to help people stay away from those things that destroy agency, that impair choice.

It is not inevitable. Nothing is inevitable. We can choose, and we can repair our impairment to choose through the atonement. The consequences of our decisions are natural. Certain choices lead to certain consequences. The choice is the decision in the first place. We can choose anger and bitterness. We can choose strife. We can choose to love. We can choose to hate. Every moment of every day, we have a choice. Nothing is inevitable. We are who we are, we do what we do, because we choose to.

(Sometimes I need my own pep talk. Today, I found one for myself from myself)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I am getting rid of my trash can

I do this thing when my trash can in my kitchen gets super full, where I hang a plastic grocery bag from the handle of my sliding glass door, and put my trash in there, so I don't have to brave opening the big one, and can put off taking out the big trash. So I was thinking today about my trash can, and how I didn't want to take it out, but how I would probably take this small one hanging from my door out pretty soon. And then it just occurred to me. Why even have this big trash can at all? It is such a big bag, and things get so gross by the time it is filled that I -never- want to take it out. It would be oh so much simpler to just have this bag on my sliding glass door.

So I haven't talked that much about the ways I am embracing the process of minimalizing. But this is one way. Another way is getting rid of a lot of the boxes that I have. My ex always wanted to keep them around so we could use them when we moved? I don't really know why he wanted to keep them, but he wanted them, so we kept them. So as I was thinking about what to get rid of, these seemed like the natural place to begin.

I also donated my old gaming systems to DI. I am getting rid of a lot of my Christmas stuff that seems extraneous. I kept all my Christmas lights, though, because I love my Christmas lights! Getting rid of old pairs of shoes that I never wear, and a ton of clothes that I never wear, or only wear when I get desperate from not doing laundry for three weeks...ie if I didn't have them, I would for sure do my laundry, so that sounds like a better idea.

My first idea was the use fewer dishes, but I have not actually done anything with that yet. I want to gather all the dishes from all over the house, and my car...and wherever else they might be, before I pack them away, so I don't have to pack a whole ton away at once.

I am also getting rid of two duffel bags. I still have one super large one, and one week/weekend-sized one. I kept all of my camping stuff, though I probably could weed through some of that.

I went through my CDs, and got rid of most of the cases, and put them all on one of those spindly things. I also put the couple video games I have on there. I had my old laptop in my get rid of pile, but then decided I might want to see if I can revive some data from it. I'm selling a few things on ebay which will hopefully cover the cost of getting a separate battery charger, as what is dead about the computer is the power cord connection to the motherboard. Once I can get data off and wipe it, I will probably part with it, but there may be some pictures on there I really want. They may also be gone from the other time I wiped it. But I can at least get some old chat logs off of it, or find something of nostalgic worth that I have plenty of space for on my current laptop.

I still have a lot to go through, and lots of things to actually get rid of, instead of just being in the pile. I also have purgatory in my hallway, which is those things which I need to use in the next month or so or get rid of. They have to prove their usefulness. Not in the hallway, but also on that list is the massage table. I want to use it, so I should. I really want to give my aunt a massage. I got her phone number yesterday so I could call her sometime this week and figure out a time she might want to come down here so I can give her a massage. If I do that, then it is worth keeping. If I don't end up doing anything with it, it's not, and I should fix it and sell it.

I love the look of my closets, though. They are so empty. My dancing room has always been (since I made it so) one of my favorite rooms in the house. It is so freeing to be so empty. It is peaceful, it is fun. It has so much possibility. I look forward to having more of my house join that realm. And also for the feeling that I can manage everything I own, instead of it overwhelming me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Creation Before Creation

"For I, the Lord God, created all things of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth." - Moses 3:5

I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, how things are created in some manner before they are created, how important that process is to the process of creation, how it takes both parts.

If I were to apply this to art, or writing, or whatever I do, I think of it as, creating things mentally before I create them physically. Especially in writing, it is the thought, and the mental concept of things, long before I even sit down to write. The time I most often create writing in that form is in the first stirrings of the morning, just waking up, my eyes still closed, and I am carried to a world, consider a world and the people, maybe something I'm working on, maybe something I was just dreaming about. But that is most often where the creation begins. It also comes right before I go to sleep, in that dreamy state.

But it also applies outside the acts of creations of art or things like that, and goes to the things as mundane as doing my dishes, cleaning my house, showering, what to wear. If I intend to do it mentally, and go through the process mentally, thinking through the steps it will take, essentially doing the task mentally, then I am much more likely to do it, to be successful at it. Not that it takes a supreme amount of time. You can complete the entire process of a task mentally in about 5 seconds. So it's not really like, planning out my whole life, it's just intending things before I do them.

It is also seeing the problems and the hitches that might come, that need to be addressed now, so that some thing may be done in the future, if it is not to be done now. It is a good pattern to follow, and I find success as I attempt to create before I create.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reminding myself why I want to get rid of stuff

My house is in an oppressive state right now. It is funny, because my house is not usually overly neat, but there is always the solace of my empty dance room.

I began my journey of getting rid of stuff, figuring out what is important, and trying to get rid of the rest last night. Now my dance room is covered in stuff that I have to figure out how to get rid of. Part of me feels like it would be so much easier to just throw it back into my closets and forget it ever existed. The other problem here is probably that I am attacking two projects at once. I am canning food, and I was working all day yesterday also at preparing the 5-6 ingredients that need to be made from different things for these enchiladas I am eating today. So I have been doing lots of dishes, but they keep being piled up in the sink anyway, and I have been assessing what stuff I want to get rid of, taken two trips to DI, and my house still feels like a mess, and like it is covered in stuff.

I do love the view of my closet though. The one in my bedroom is practically empty except sewing supplies on my shelf. The one in my dancing room has my clothes, massage table, a few boxes of things, camping stuff, blankets, and cans of food. (I have not used the massage table in a while, but I hope to. My deal with myself is to give myself a certain date, and if I have not used it by then, then I will get rid of it.)

This is the sort of middle-math of my way of approaching problems, which is just to dive right in, without much plan, and just see where it goes. It will be nice when I push through, but now I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. There are boxes all over, and there are things where I don't know where to take them. Then I have my normal stuff kind of in disarray. If I cleaned my bedroom, I might feel better about the disarray of my dancing room. I could probably pick that up a little quickly. Yes, I think I will do that.

I'm just trying to think of moving right now, how if I don't get rid of this stuff now, I will have to move it whenever I end up moving. If I get rid of it now, I never have to deal with it again. It will also make doing my inventory easier.

But, it certainly does not make me want to buy new things. So I guess one thing has been successful. Just need to keep perspective. Things will be good. I will be headed where I want to be. This will all end up better than it was. The process is a bit daunting.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce Giveaway

So I am making spaghetti sauce tonight, and I ended up with a last batch that will be just three extras, and so I was like, hmm what should I do with these? Kind of weird, because this is less than I planned on making for the year anyway, but I think this is all the sauce I will do. I'm doing lots more tomatoes, and everything else should store well for the winter. Tomatoes are easier to do, more versatile, and everything else that goes into spaghetti sauce I can store over the winter (onions, garlic, spices).

But anyway, so the thinking of these as extras got me thinking, and I decided I want to do a giveaway of one of the bottles of spaghetti sauce.

So, here are the rules:

1 - You have to be in Utah. (This is a local challenge, shipping this stuff anywhere wouldn't really make a lot of sense.)
2 - Have one meal where you know where everything in the meal came from. (This can depend on how you want to do it, but the grocery store is not an answer. If you are eating something processed, you can do a lot of research and probably find out where the different ingredients are grown, but probably easier is just buying some fresh food from a stand near your home.) I'm gonna make an exception with grains, because they can be hard to track down, but consider that a bonus.
3 - Come back and comment on this post with what you ate, and where everything in the meal came from.
4 - Enter before September 9th. The winner will be chosen at random of the pool of people who meet the qualifications!

(For anyone out of Utah, feel free to join in and comment, join the discussion and sharing the story of meals, but just know you won't be in the running for the giveaway :P )

And to start off, I'll share my meal.

flour - Lehi roller mills, which I assume the flour comes from Utah farms
eggs - from a farmer at the farmers market
tomatoes - from Chavez farms and Stratton farms
onions - local farmer here in Provo
garlic - sold by this local farmer, but grown by an associate in St. George
peppers - from Jacob's cove, came with my CSA
salt - real salt from the ancient Sundance sea, here in Utah
beef - grass-fed beef from Redmond farms
spices & pepper - don't know, though I do know where to get some locally