Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fear, Mesothelioma, and Lung Leavin' Day

Fear is a four-letter word to me. You name it, I'm scared of it. And like Harry Potter, I hate feeling fear. It's paralyzing, consuming, and sickening. While we all have our thoughts of which fears are the worst, I think most of us would agree fear for our lives is somewhere near the top of the list.

That ultimate fear is what Heather Von St. James endured when she was told at age 36, just afer her daughter was born, that she had mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by asbestos) and 15 months to live. She had her lung removed, and her sister named it Lung Leavin' Day. Every year, Heather and her loved ones celebrate that most frightening day by writing their fears on plates and smashing them over a fire. They turned it into a fundraising event as well and are trying to expand awareness for both the cancer and the fear-releasing ritual.

Although Lung Leavin' Day has already passed, Heather wants us all to be free from fear and right now--no need to wait for a special day to face them. We may not ever experience a life-threatening disease or other traumatic event, but we all have something in our lives that terrifies and prevents us from growing or moving on. I can definitely say I do, especially right now as I find myself at a crossroads, unable to take my first step due to fear of the unknown. If only it were as easy to overcome as smashing a plate to bits! But the symbolism behind the act is profound: recognize and name your fears, seize them, break them, and reduce them to ashes. May we all follow in Heather's footsteps and be brave. 

You can learn more about and follow Heather's journey on her blog and Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When Being Short Stinks

photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira
Most of the time I don't mind being a petite person. It comes with a lot of perks, and I'd much rather deal with the challenges of being a too-short female than a too-tall one. But sometimes it's downright frustrating, especially in these situations:

Having my head touched
Biggest pet peeve ever. I am not an armrest or a puppy. My head is off limits, thank you very much.

Shopping for pants
Pants are always too long, and hemming ruins the cut of the pants, so I decided to start shopping in the women's petite section. What an eye opener! Apparently if you're a petite woman you're also wide around the middle or you wear your pants up to your bra line. If you're short and skinny and trying to be fashionable you must be a tween. But I ain't that skinny, nor do I want to dress like a middle schooler anyway.

Folding sheets
Have you ever tried folding king size sheets with a 4-foot wing span? They don't come out pretty. And I thought the queen sheets were tricky...

Relying on step stools
In every room there is a step stool or chair so I can reach the stuff that is at most people's eye level. The worst is when I still can't reach it and I have to climb on a counter or other precarious place and then climb back down with whatever I have in hand. Then there are the times I'm too lazy to even drag the chair over and I jump up and down like a buffoon trying to grab something or put it back--only to have it fall on my head instead.

Slow dancing
Whenever that moment comes in a chick flick when the two love interests begin to slow dance and look into each other's eyes and kiss and the woman rests her head on the man's shoulder, I think every woman fantasizes of that happening in her relationship. Well, for me it stays a fantasy because my head doesn't go past my husband's chest. And I can't gaze into his eyes or kiss him long without getting neck cramps.

Being treated like a child
Sometimes I wish I already had wrinkles and graying hair so people can tell I'm an adult! Okay, so not really. But when I was pregnant with my first child--at the age of 23, after getting married and finishing college--I was always scared of being mistaken for a teen mom because at the time I was working at Party City with a bunch of high school grads, my fingers were too swollen for my wedding ring, and I was dressed in khaki pants and a ponytail everyday. I'd find any opportunity to drop the words "my husband." And in general, I get teased a lot, like the baby sister in the family. I thought baby sisters were supposed to be spoiled!

Moral of the story? Height does not equal age, maturity, intelligence, ability, or beauty. It's just a number. (But one that can sometimes be a nuisance, lol.)

Are you short, average, or tall, and how do you feel about it?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

First Christmas in New York

My blogging has been despicable lately. Valentine's Day is over and I'm just now posting about Christmas. *Shameful blush*

Christmas Eve we spent with a thoughtful family from church who invited us to join them and their posterity for dinner. We ended the night singing Christmas hymns while the kids put together the nativity. They are one very musically talented family! It was a joy and a pleasure singing with them.

Although Caden was excited for Christmas, he thankfully was not at the wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-in-anticipation stage yet. Christmas morning Justin's family woke us up, and we Skyped with them all while the boys opened their gifts. Santa brought Caden his long-asked-for umbrella and two kiwis, his favorite fruit. Santa brought Gabe his own crayon roll and an orange. The boys were thoroughly spoiled by our families, and every gift was well thought out. We were all happy with what we received.


After finally getting dressed and cleaning up, we Skyped with my family and then Caden had a friend visit. She and her family moved an hour away, so it was nice getting to see them again.

I made our traditional Christmas lasagna (from Love to Be in the Kitchen), and we had the missionaries and another brother from our branch over for dinner and a fun game of Imaginiff afterward. A former missionary who served here called too, which was a very nice surprise.

Once everyone left and the boys were ready for bed, we watched some of How to Train Your Dragon 2, one of the movies the boys got. Justin and I ended the night playing Upwords. He just barely beat me (but I always count his wins as mine because I always help him, and he cheats anyway by finding words in the dictionary lol). It was a very wonderful Christmas full of family and friends! The funny thing is, although we had a white Thanksgiving, we did not have a white Christmas.

Friday, February 6, 2015

December 2014

December was a crazy month for us. It took some time for us to recover. We started the month off making a last-minute scripture advent calendar and decorating our tree. Justin and I also went with our friends to see Mockingjay at the IMAX theater. It was intense!

Next we had a 3-day vacation to New Hampshire for a timeshare-type presentation. It was snowing when we left and sometimes hazardous driving, but we got there safely.

We had Chinese food the first night and then relaxed at the hotel before going to bed.

The boys (okay, all of us) loved the giant tub in our master suite! The whole room was like a mini apartment, smaller than the one we first stayed in when we moved to New York but way more awesome.

sharing a bed for the first time

The presentation the next day took longer than expected so we didn't have time to do anything because everything closed by 6 or earlier. So we ate at a Mexican place (I have learned that hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in random states have better food than any place I've eaten at out west) and saw Penguins of Madagascar, which was cuter than expected. It was Gabe's first time at the movie theater and he did awesome! Without popcorn too! The last day we drove back and it was clear weather and easy travel.

The Primary kids and their parents made Christmas ornaments and cards to take to a nursing home. The following Saturday, Caden went (I stayed home with sick Gabe) and they delivered the items and sang carols. Caden had a fabulous time, and I know he brought sunshine to the dreary place.

best of friends!

Earlier that morning, we went to a small-business fair to look around for Christmas gifts (didn't find anything) and meet Santa. Caden was shy but told him he wanted an umbrella.

Sunday I played my flute in church. My friend Felicia volunteered to do a duet with me. We were going to ask another lady to sing along, but all the women ended up singing. We never got to practice altogether so it was a little rough (I had to stop to catch our music sheet from falling!), but I think everyone appreciated our efforts. I also sang a duet with one missionary while his companion accompanied us. Although I've sung in choirs and even a quartet once, it was my first time singing a duet! I did the alto for "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem."

The next night we got in our pjs and met our friends in Syracuse to go see the Christmas lights on the lake, but it was backed up for miles! They waited hours to go through but we went home, picking up some ice cream on the way.

In other news, I got called to be the new Primary president. I was first counselor previously. I've been in various Primary callings since 2009. I love being with the kids! That wraps up December; a separate post is coming just for Christmas.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No, Sports Illustrated, This Is a "Real" Woman

The Internet is abuzz with praise for Sports Illustrated featuring a truly plus-size model, a "real" woman. I, on the other hand, will not be joining in.

First, I will not applaud a magazine that objectifies women, of any size for that matter. How is displaying a fuller woman on a men's magazine any different than displaying a thinner woman? The purpose is still the same.

Second, I will not allow media and men to tell me what is real and beautiful. Is my 4'11", 110-pound, curve-less body any less beautiful or womanly than hers? Which leads me to my third point, how is this woman more "real" than any other?

Of course, based on the modeling world, she may have more common and attainable proportions. But I would hardly call that more real. When it comes to physical appearance, there is no "real" woman. Women come in every imaginable shape and size,

including petite with no hourglass figure

to plus size with a rounded figure.

And those women and all the rest in every possible in-between size, with or without "flaws," are beautiful and womanly.

Karen Crespo, the first quadruple amputee to model in a runway show at New York Fashion Week

Yet, the focus is still on the wrong attribute. A woman's curves, or lack thereof, do not define her identity as a woman. What makes a woman real is her strength, her kindness, her courage, her perseverance, her happiness, her love--especially for herself. All these qualities, and many more, are what make her truly and undeniably beautiful and womanly. 

Any woman can fit into that standard of womanhood and beauty regardless of her size or looks. And that is what we women should strive for. As Lupita Nyong'o said, "Beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume. It was something that I just had to be." May we all be beautiful and real women.

All photos were found on the Facebook page A Mighty Girl.
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