Monday, November 12, 2012

#28 - Grateful for my Sharon Bear

I had just had a tonsillectomy with an adenoidectomy at the same time to correct some major sinus problems I was having. I felt like I was a Frankenstein reviving from the dead with blackish eyes and plastic stints hanging from my nose. My face ached from ear to ear and my throat felt like it was no longer a needed body part because eating and drinking was so hard for me to do. I believe it was Day 2 after my surgery, John had to work and I was feeling miserable, isolated, and lonely. My mother was out of town and all of my sisters lived far away. All of the sudden, I heard a knock on my door and someone took the liberty of letting themselves in. Immediately, when I heard the name “Maps” called out, my body filled with warmth and I began to cry. It was Sharon Oler, a good college friend of mine, who had driven from Pocatello to Centerville, Utah to check on me and see how I was doing. She brought me some beautiful flowers and enough homemade soup for me to eat the next couple of days. Tears were streaming down my swollen cheeks and in her soft, cute voice she said, “Oh honey, you don’t need to cry. I just came down to check on you.” But my tears were tears of pure gratitude, and I was so full of it that they seeped uncontrollably. I just couldn’t believe I had a friend who loved me enough to drive down from Pocatello to make me soup and give me flowers. Sharon sat with me for a while and asked if there was anything else she could do for me; I had her help me with a few things. If I remember right, she helped straighten up my room and cleared some dishes. Then about an hour later said, “I have to go home now but I love you and am here for you.” I asked her where she needed to be and she said she needed to go into work. Again, it just boggled my mind that she would go at such great lengths to show she cared for me when her schedule was so crazy. So I cried after she left, only my tears remained grateful, not frustrated and self-pitying because I knew when Sharon said, “I’m here for you,” she really meant it.

Another time when I was going through a rough time, Sharon sent me a personalized teddy-bear. Now every time I look at it, it reminds me of one of my favorite things about Sharon: her bear hugs. Her hugs have a way of making me feel like all is right in the world. Seriously, there is such thing as the gift of hugging and Sharon undoubtedly has it. Her hugs make the world melt away and make you realize you are standing on a reviving earth full of wholeness. I miss those hugs so much.

When I was first married, my husband and I moved to Centerville and although we were living in my hometown with family, I felt lonely. John was going to school and working full time and I was trying to juggle my degree and some health problems that made it difficult for me to work, which for someone extroverted like me made the days go by very slow as I was alone a lot. Sharon kept me from going insane. She’d let me talk and talk and talk over the phone with her and she just listened to me. Never judged me—just loved me. She visited me a few times and every time she did, I didn’t want her to leave. I wished she lived down the street from me. But alas, she was meant to be in Idaho where she met her husband and happily settled down to start a family in Oregon. She now lives in the D.C. area and I still wish she lived down the street from me. Perhaps one day.

Sharon, thank you so much for your friendship and for the sacrifices you made for me while I was struggling with self-doubt and health problems. Thanks for your pep talks and for making me feel special no matter what. I’m so happy you have found your own happily ever after. Stay in touch with me when you have the time.

Miss you,

Friday, November 2, 2012

#27 The Fight Against America's Sexism

I can't believe there are only 22 days until Thanksgiving. That went by pretty quickly. It just goes to say how important it is to keep some sort of a journal or blog because life keeps on going whether we record it or not. With only 4 people left to highlight for my challenge, I hope to finish before Thanksgiving 2012 if my capabilities of getting on the internet permits.

Many of you know that I am a feminist to the core. That being said, I am a feminist who believes men and women are made equal with different talents and capabilities. Eva Burrows eloquently said, “We have to be careful in this era of radical feminism, not to emphasize an equality of the sexes that leads women to imitate men to prove their equality. To be equal does not mean you have to be the same.”

I love that quote because it is exactly how I feel as a stay-at-home mother who happens to be a Mormon feminist at the same time. Why, may you ask, is it so important I share this when we live in an age when a woman can do just about anything? Well, because sexism is still rampant around the world and I believe women are in some ways shown less respect now than ever before in some of our mainstream media. Although women are cast in more powerful roles today, there is still this perception that most women are similar to the ones in reality TV shows like The Bachelor: fake, foolish, and feisty. They are portrayed as sex symbols rather than symbols of intelligence, nurturance, and virtue. They make women everywhere needlessly worry more and more about their body image and whether or not they’re fit and fashionable; they confuse women about the reality of beauty, real beauty, not the kind that is just skin deep and can be fixed by Botox or with the click of a mouse. I’ve noticed even women in highly powerful positions—doctors, FBI agents, lawyers, and so forth—have to have the sex appeal added to their intelligence. This, I believe, is taking generations of women in the wrong direction, and it’s sexism at its finest. It’s not saying, “Hey, I am proud to be me without all of the cover-up, style, and glamour.” Of course, the prevalence of pornography addictions which objectify women more and more in these degrading, fake roles only make the cycle continue to worsen as men bully their wives to look more like the facades they are so used to viewing, and women grow more and more depressed because they do not look like their media counterparts.

I love how Susan Douglas puts it, “Young women today are pulled between the message that they can do or be anything they want, that the world is their oyster [and that] full female equality has been achieved—and, on the other hand, there is enormous pressure to conform to this hyper-feminine ideal of hotness and beauty.”

I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard to fight against that pressure to conform, but we must stand up to it and say, “Hey, I can be beautiful by just being me, a healthy me.”

This is why I wanted to add to my grateful list twin sisters who began another woman’s suffrage persay by redefining beauty. Their names are Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite and you can find their website here: A friend whom I deeply admire, Candace Woodbury, is on Lexie and Lindsay’s team to fight an ever growing battle of the definition of beauty.

Before Candace told me about this movement, I had a different idea of what beauty looked like and I felt I was not it. When John would look at me and say, “Honey, you are so gorgeous, really you are.” I would be upset with him because I felt like he was lying to me. The more I read Lexie and Lindsay’s blog, the more I realized that John was right and that I am beauty redefined, and it’s more than okay to be comfortable just being me. Which, I am still in the process of discovering.

Anyways, thanks to all on the Beauty Redefined team, your non-profit work is much like Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s speech at Seneca Falls. I hope and pray it will go down in history and women can stop the fake madness and redefine beauty, which is essentially redefining womanhood. 

*Hope you don't mind that I posted your photo to showcase your awesome group.