Category Archives: Daily Special

Our Binders Full of Women

diana barrysI hovered over my desk and turned on my computer. Too busy to sit, I became a frantic bird and flitted about from one thing to another, never finishing the item at hand. I walked back and noticed the homepage had skipped to a different site. Thin legs sucked into dark denim glared at me.

The caption ‘how to wear boyfriend jeans 18 different ways’ taunted viewers in bold block letters.  Do I really need an article to tell this to me? And 18? Come on. I thought. But I clicked anyway.

I looked away, and thought back to the weekend.  My college roommates had planned a short get-a-way to California.  This was no small feat: jobs, babies, and husbands were left in order for 5 girls to travel from 4 different states for 3 days. We run 13 years deep, and have known each other through boyfriends, break-ups, unfortunate fashion fads, heartbreaks, marriages, moves, wishes, and defeats.  We are women now, but laugh and relax as the clear-eyed, open-hearted 18 year olds we were when we walked through the doors of college life.

The rarity and blessing in the lack of competition, drama and the ease of support, transparency and laughter is not lost on me.  In moments when I forget there is divine construction of people and events in my life (which happens mostly in dramatic dating woes and familial angst), I remember these women and how I’m wrapped in their stories, and they in mine, and am brought back to a warm knowledge in the strength and holiness of my associations in all realms. I’ll just say they are my Diana Barrys and leave it at that.

Years ago when teaching 9th grade, I met a teenage girl through a bathroom mirror. Not having time to go across the school to the faculty lounge between classes, I darted in the student restroom.  As I washed my hands, I noticed a young girl dressed in black, with a short dark stick straight bob. She wore lipstick and drew on eyeliner over already heavily placed eyeliner as she talked to her friend.

“I need to go home and put on make up – I have like no make-up on.”

I almost laughed out loud, and I’m sure my expression revealed my surpise, but as I walked away I thought these young girls have no idea who is looking back at them in the mirror. And do we really see them as well?

We let our (women and especially young girls) currency and validation come from status updates and screens. Culture tells us who we are and how much we cost and we are happy to oblige. What kind of jeans to buy? Click.  How big should my boobs be? Click.  What is the in color of hair this year? Click. How to keep, catch, or train your man? Click.

Here’s the thing – I click too.  A lot. And I know the dialogue of women and media literacy is growing, but the root of the dissonance for me is lack of identity and not feeling seen. When I’m with these women and friends, it shocks me back to a more aware state of worth and joy. And this is the base to then work from and relate to other women – to see more of their divinity and strength before, or amidst, or over the critiques, judgments, comparisons, and perceived flaws of all of us. Which, let’s be honest, we have endured many Mormon Mean Girl moments from different angles and positions of late. Counter. Productive.

As we sat in a hotel room in California we listened to the audio of President Uchtdorf‘s talk at Relief Society meeting.  Tired bodies with salt water hair and baggy sweats laid heads on the table and drifted in and out of consciousness as his words seeped inside.

 “In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.”

And I felt the strength and wholeness confirmed in his words, and also the empty scorched well many women feel. I want to see them, and for them to see themselves and others; to join forces in their writing groups, running friends, sad neighbors, book clubs, the intimidating ward members, and remember – connections among us bind and foster more growth. It’s all about trying to see one another and let our innate worth rain down.

How have women uplifted you? If you have felt isolated or unconnected from associations in your realm, what do you do to overcome?  Women and power.

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

heavengazingMy 11-year old daughter was struggling with a gospel question this week. As we discussed her ideas, I could see she was becoming more agitated and sad. She kept saying that she had a very bad feeling whenever this topic came up. She felt sad and upset…and I might add, a bit angry. When I told her to take it to the Lord, she claimed that the Lord never answers her prayers, so why pray about it? She said that the way she felt currently was an answer to her prayers and she did not need to ask the Lord about this topic specifically. As the discussion went on, it became very apparent to me that she was not under any influence of the Holy Ghost whatsoever. I explained how the Lord will never make us feel angry or upset when He is answering us. We might feel stumped if it is a no, but very peaceful and happy when it is a yes. After we get an answer, we should check that the answer is from God by asking again. And for me, I ask again. (Knock three times, eh?) This simplistic answer seemed to suffice for now, but how could I explain to my daughter the workings of the Spirit when it has taken me so many decades to finally get a glimmer into what is possible? Piercing the veil is no easy task for many of us. It is through obedience to the small promptings and guidance that the Spirit gives every day that we learn how to get answers to life’s bigger questions. Promptings can communicate the will of Christ and they are the primary way that we can know His will. However, some might ask, how do you even hear the small promptings? Continue reading

Peculiar Treasures: Kinetic Wonders

I’m cutting right to the chase this week. This installation art, Kinetic Rain, at the Changi Airport in Singapore is speaking to my soul so much I  put it in the post for you today. Rain enables life, movement, and us; in this piece it’s kinetic as we are.

While I’m thinking about movement and I am in awe with those who move on. Especially when it’s hard. Look at this collection of images and stories of strong single mothers by LDS photographer Erica Ericson.

How does your idea of beauty move over time and tragedy? Read Lee Woodruff’s lovely accounting of her journalist husband’s terror and their amazing transcendence together.

Mormon composers are creating a movement, and as the author so perfectly points out we didn’t just have a “moment”, but we’ve reached a critical mass and great works by Mormons are happening all over and outside of the music for the people, by the people.

How fast can your eyes move? Take this wee test and find out if your faster than the average reader. Can you beat our Kel? She smoked it at 557 wpm.

Here’s a book that will have you moving toward the kitchen. I have maybe been waiting for this cookbook my whole life- or at least since I drooled for a slice of the Trunchbull’s epic chocolate cake in Matilda.  I love that it was Dahl’s widow that finally made it all happen. What a delicious tribute.

The seasons are on the move, and here’s a fun tidbit and video explaining it is tree dieting that turns the leaves and sun that really makes a colorful autumn. Fascinating.

Did you watch the opening meeting of General Conference this weekend? The General Women’s Meeting featured more voices from more places than ever before. For this week’s First Draft Poetry, we have Melissa Young’s short but eloquent response to Elder Utchdorf’s talk about blessings and rain:

went outside
in the cold dark
and put my face to the rain

Let it Rain

I was curious about how the second General Women’s meeting would go. Spring was difficult and I’m still cooling from the heat of summer. I have felt spent and restless and impatient and enduring. My heavy-worn heart and wrenched, wrung-out soul needed a balm not just for recent church events, but for me in my own life fraught with questions and requests for answers. At the point in the meeting when we were all asked to sing “I’m a Child of God” I hit my threshold and everything I’d been holding in tumbled out and down my cheeks: tears for all my bottled up anxiety and annoyance. Ashamed, I realized my frustration probably looked like I was moved by the spirit instead of anguish. How can I be honest with myself and my religion when I ache for more than I have now? I want to sing I’m “A Child of God” the way I do to my own children, to loudly pronounce the tender truth I hold hard in my heart: God is love, love is family, Mother and Father are God. “Teach me all that I must do to live with Them someday,” audibly, not just under my breath in insistence for my own integrity. Each week begin the YW theme with my young women, “We are daughters of Heavenly Parents, who love us and we love them.” And when I offer prayers to God, have it understood and accepted outside of my own self that I acknowledge and reverence Her and Him together, as they are.

Patience, the spirit whispered. Patience is what is so hard and hurts so much in this and all my other wrestling of who, and what and when or where now and next. Wait. Wait. Wait. Can you wait? the spirit counselled and asked. Wait here, and there will be joy. The joy will be great here.

Calling my controlling calm to myself, I resolved that I could. And could certainly be patient for an answer (but impatiently hope I wouldn’t have to wait long.) Sitting up, I steeled myself for waiting and listening, and praying for some message to stem the hot tears on my face. Continue reading