I run, hit, and throw like a girl.

I have noticed a facebook post going around lately that talks about girls and the stigma of “hitting, running, and throwing, like a girl.” I’m sure it is a well meaning ad trying to empower girls to realize that they are not “less than” a boy. But, here is another thought: I do hit like a girl, because I am a girl, and I’m proud of that. In our amazing effort towards equality I think we might be losing something very important.

Just for fun I did a google search on the fastest man and woman on earth. The fastest man to date is a Jamaican by the name of Usain Bolt, the fastest female to date is a woman named Florence Griffith Joyner. The difference in their times for a 100m sprint was 1.31 seconds. For those of you who run that is a significant difference. No one can shout equality in the face of facts. So what am I trying to say? The point is men and women are created differently. There is a reason for that. What I am about to post is a very controversial topic, so if you don’t want to read further please move away from the computer and your life will be far less stressful.

For just a moment imagine if men and women were exactly the same. What if men and women could both work equally well in all capacities? What if men could bear children? What if women didn’t have hormones that caused them to cry at the touch of a dime?  Would we even need one another? Many men and women would like to deny the fact that we really do NEED one another. And let’s be honest, who would pay the price if we were all totally, equally, endowed? Well, my guess would be our children. Why? Because, (a little like our modern world is turning) we would be so caught up in competing with each other that no one would really stop to nurture our babies. Hey, who would even stop and have babies? If we don’t need each other why do we need children?

Yes, I already warned you that this would be a debatable topic. But may I suggest something? Maybe the empowerment we should be giving our daughters, and other women, is to rejoice in who they are. Maybe for just one day we could revel in the fact that we are different. Actually maybe for just one day let’s celebrate that we have been given gifts, talents and capacities, above all is the fact that we can bear and nurture children, that are different than men. We are different than men. I am not lower than a man because of this fact, nor am I his exact equal. But maybe just maybe we make a pretty great team. His strengths enhance my abilities and mine definitely enhance his. We NEED each other to form the most basic unit of society- the family. I need his manliness to be the awesome husband and father that he is, and he needs my “wimpy, girl throwing arm” to bear his children and be his wife. So yep “I throw like a girl because I am a girl, and I am proud of that!” And for the record the ad was put together by “Always” feminine

products. Just a little ironic humor there :).

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Words of Love Have Great Power

Image found at motivequote.net

Some days I wonder if I make a difference in the lives of my children. I often feel like more of a lecturer/nag/maid than a role model or someone they trust and cherish, but every once in a while I hear tender words that tell me I really do make a difference in their lives.

A few weeks back I received six sentences in an e-mail from a son who’s been serving an LDS mission for 15 months:
“Thanks so much for being my mother. You are a great woman, and I am thankful for everything you have done for me! You have helped me learn so much and taught me more than you know. (I’m sure that you’re crying now. Stop crying. I love you!)”
It’s kind of cute how well he knows me, and that he thought to tell me to stop crying,  but his words of foresight didn’t stop the tears, then or now. I still cry every time I read his message.

How can the same six simple sentences so consistently move me to tears? The words themselves aren’t especially emotionally charged. I’m sure most people who read them don’t cry. So, why do they make me cry? Probably because I love my children like I’ve never loved anyone else. I devote my life to them, and I don’t regret the sacrifice. My greatest desire as a mother is to have my love and service give them the courage, strength, wisdom, belief–all that they need–to realize their full potential and to live lives filled with true joy. When I hear or see something that helps me understand that my greatest desire as a mother is being realized, even in a small way, it fills my heart with joy and the hope that I can continue to give my children good gifts.

Reflecting on these thoughts today has turned my thoughts in another direction as well. I wonder how many times important words go unsaid–how many times important feelings go unexpressed. Marion C. Garretty said, “Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.” Is it? How can it be if it is never expressed in a way that it can be heard and deeply felt? And if it is the fuel that has enabled a normal human being to do the impossible, does his or her mother know her love has had such power? How can she if she has never been told?

I hope that we will all try to remember that though we desperately need to hear the words of love our hearts are hungering for, we also desperately need to express the important loving words in our hearts.
If your mother needs to hear that she helped you accomplish the impossible, tell her. If your children are running low on the fuel of belief and encouragement you have to offer, fill them up with pure unconditional love.
There is unimaginable power in love! Use your power for good today.

 

Who do you want to be?

Triathlon legs

Twenty months ago I competed in my first (and at this point my only) sprint distance triathlon. I had several reasons for doing it, some of them silly, some of them reasonable and even touching, and maybe someday I’ll share some of that with you. Today I’m more interested in the significance of the other side of the thought process behind choosing to do a triathlon–the reasons that didn’t influence my decision.

didn’t do it because I’m naturally gifted at sports, or because I’m a fitness enthusiast.  I’m not exactly a couch potato by nature. I enjoy being active because I like the way it makes me feel, and the way it makes me feel about how I look, and the way it makes me feel about how I feel (again, a discussion for another time). But, I don’t live and breathe exercise. I regularly fall into the slump of inactivity. I never had “Olympic potential.” I had to work, hard, to be able to swim even one lap when I first started swimming. Biking was unreasonably painful until I built up my quad muscles and figured out proper seat placement. I couldn’t run the full three miles without taking walking breaks until about three weeks before the event.

I didn’t do it because I get a “rush” from swimming, biking, and running. I did love swimming by the time I started training for a triathlon, because I had already been through the hard work it took to learn to love swimming, but, when I started training, I loathed biking and running. There were days when I didn’t want to run, but ran anyway, even if was only one mile instead of three and I walked half the time. There were days when my butt hurt so bad from biking that I literally cried when I got on the seat, but I rode anyway.  And I kept on running and biking, even though I didn’t want to and even though it hurt, until I got to the point where I stopped not wanting to and I stopped hurting. I will never love running. I will probably never love biking. I will never choose to run a marathon or ride a century. But through the process of training I learned to enjoy both activities, and, more importantly, I learned that even when I don’t enjoy it, I can do it anyway when getting through it means accomplishing something greater.

I didn’t do it because I wanted to prove how awesome I am, or because I didn’t love myself before I completed a triathlon. I am and always  have been comfortable with myself as a non-athlete. I get that I’m “good enough” without competing in endurance sports. Running a triathlon doesn’t make me think that other people are going to think I’m cool. I’m totally comfortable in my nerd skin, and, honestly, I don’t care if people, in general, think I’m cool, or hot, or sweet, or sick, or whatever the popular term for being socially acceptable is.

But for every reason I didn’t compete in a triathlon I gained a dozen reasons why competing in a triathlon was good for me, and none of them had to do with physical fitness or appearance.

The most important thing I learned was that God cares about what I’m doing because He cares about me. He wanted me to finish a triathlon, not because of the triathlon itself, but because I wanted to finish a triathlon, and He knew that I could benefit from it. And because He cared, he helped me reach my goal. He provided me with the blessings I needed to accomplish the goals I set for myself. He was there with me in the calming voice of my teenage lifeguard son the first time I swam in open water. He was there in the quiet voice inside my head that told me I could run for one more minute before I took a walking break. He was there in the leg-shaking transitions between biking and running and in the nearly irrepressible urge to sit down and sob when I crossed the finish line. Finishing a triathlon taught me about God’s love for me.

It also taught me that I can do hard things.

I can do hard things if I tackle them one day, one hour, one minute, one circumstance at a time. I didn’t get up on the morning of the big event and go out and finish the race. I couldn’t have finished it that way, and a little voice inside my head tells me I might have died (If you’ve ever swam more than a few hundred feet in open water water or ridden a road bike in hilly Eastern Utah, you might know what I mean).

I can do hard things if I keep going even when I don’t want to. Like I said, I didn’t love the entire experience. I had a lot of hard days. I had to train through sickness, pain, and apathy, but I kept going even when I didn’t want to.

I can do hard things if I can keep things in perspective. I didn’t win the triathlon. I think I was second-to-last in my age division, and probably in the last twenty of the entire sprint. I didn’t win, but I finished, I accomplished my goals, and I gained and grew, in many ways, from the experience.

So what does all of this have to do with valuing and honoring motherhood???

So many times I look at myself as a mother and think, “I’ll never be a good homemaker,” or “I’ll never be good at doing my daughter’s hair,” or “I’m just not a patient mother,” “I’m not organized,” “I yell too much…” A hundred times a day I tell myself all about all of the things I’m not being, doing, or succeeding at as a mother. And then I stop there and tell myself it’s okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for loving ourselves the way we are, but I think that far to often we give ourselves a pass and give up on becoming who we want to be by using the excuses of self-love, self-esteem, and self-acceptance. I never could have finished a triathlon if I told myself, “I’m not a natural athlete and that’s okay. I need to love myself for who I am.” My world wouldn’t have stopped revolving if I hadn’t finished a triathlon, but I would have missed out on a lot of valuable lessons if I hadn’t done it, including the lessons about God’s love for me. And, even though the triathlon in and of itself wasn’t important, I believe I am a better person for having overcome what seemed impossible.

Mothering is important. Being a little better at it each day is vital to our own well-being and the well-being of our children. I won’t get into the dangers of the societal view that we can’t overcome our natures and we don’t need to control our animal urges, that too is a discussion for another time. I will say, without apology, that it’s absolutely not okay to stay indefinitely the way we are and love ourselves that way. It is not okay to stagnate in any aspect of life and tell ourselves, “I am the way I am. That is my nature. I need to love myself the way I am…” That attitude isn’t any more healthy or right than telling ourselves we are nothing and hating ourselves for all that we are not.

Who do you want to be as a parent? As a spouse? Do you want to be more loving, more tolerant, more patient? A better nurturer, a better listener, a better cook? More organized, more efficient, more knowledgeable? Then be that. Don’t expect to be that today, or tomorrow, or next week. Study it. Work at it. Train for it. Expect one more ounce of patience than you had an hour ago. Fix a meal that was a little bit better than yesterday’s. Listen with your whole heart for this one story, even if you don’t want to. Whatever it is that you want to be, train for it and then finish it. Become it. Do it one event, one quality, one character trait, one accomplishment at a time. You don’t have to–you shouldn’t–accept yourself as less than you you can and should be. Becoming better doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself the way you are, it means that you love yourself enough to be better than you are now. Don’t accept less than your best self. Do what is right, not what is easy.

You can, I can, be the person we each want to be. Now, go get your “running shoes” on!!!

We are doing God’s work

 

 

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Today I had a conversation with a friend and we began discussing our Valentine’s Day plans. We were discussing how we both hadbought the “cheapo” valenties and (insert gasp here) not even logged into our Pinterest account to make the latest and greatest Valentines, to make our children the “envy” of the class. And for a second, I really felt bad I hadn’t done more. But as quick as the thought popped in my head another soon followed. I was reminded of the Mormon Message, Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership. I went to the computer and pulled it up. Its an excerpt form a talk given by Elder Jefferey R. Hollad (An LDS Apostle) that he gave in April General Conference 1997, it reads:

“One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.

But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him.”

I think we can all agree that we have had these same feelings of doubt and inadequacy from time to time. And now even more so in the age that is SOCIAL MEDIA, motherhood has been put on center stage. With a click of a mouse we can proclaim that we are “perfect” mothers.

Social media in certain circumstances can be great. This blog and others like it that lift others are great. But if it is something that stirs up those feelings of  inadequacy, abandon it. Or if your inadequacies’ come from something totally different, whatever it may be abandon them and run as fast as you can away from them.  Be reminded of what Elder Holland said, WE ARE DOING GOD’S WORK.  We have been entrusted with some of God’s most choicest spirits at a time when our world is spiraling out of control. Our children need US not the latest and greatest  Pinterest project that demands hours of our time. THEY NEED US.

Motherhood is GODS WORK. I know it. I have felt it. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father sent me here to Earth knowing fully that I could be a mother to HIS precious children. I have felt His love and support in those moments of inadequacy and in moments of joy. I challenge all you mothers out there to take a second and clear out all of those feelings of doubt and leave them behind and start new. Start being a Mother knowing that what you are doing is HIS work.

Why Am I Here?

Written on my heart

Why am I here? I’m not talking about the big, life-defining question that shapes my existence–that’s between me and God. I’m talking about right here, right now, on the internet writing this blog post. I’m here because I want to make a difference in the world, to help people see that our society has bought into a huge lie–the lie that a woman’s life only has value and meaning if she has a career. But here’s “the rub:” all the words in the world won’t make a difference if people just sit here and read them, or even if they just pass them on for other people to read. Don’t get me wrong. I hope you will pass my words along, because, like I said, I want to make a difference in the world and words are my way of doing that. I want to increase my reach because it isn’t very far yet. Maybe it never will be.

But my “reach,” no matter how far it goes, now or ever, will never mean anything if all I ever manage to do is draw people into my cyber-world of e-praise and e-validation. All that will ever do is possibly harm my audience and most certainly harm my own family and home. My hope is that my words will inspire people to ACT, in the real world.

True validation and a true knowledge that a woman’s work in the home has meaning comes not from thinking we are valuable, but from being valuable. We recognize that value in our lives not by thinking more about it, but by feeling and expressing gratitude, and by seeing that something we have done has touched someone else’s heart. It comes from the heartfelt hug from the woman whose day just got a little brighter because you recognized her efforts. It comes from the happy laughter of the child you chose to play with instead of saying, “just a minute, Honey,” for the fifteenth time this morning. It comes from the warmth you feel in your heart after you do something good.

There is value in the work we do at home that defies the logic of the world because, not in spite of, because that work is about service and self-sacrifice. The simple, basic, seemingly paradoxical truth is that joy does not come from how highly we think of ourselves, but from how little we think about ourselves.

So, why are you here??? If you’re here because you are reaching out for something to lift your spirits and help you keep going as a wife and/or mother, thank you. Thank you for having that kind of trust in us. You might find what you’re looking for in the quotes we post on Facebook or the feel-good blog posts we write, but that boost will only be temporary and fleeting. If you’re looking for a boost that will make a lasting difference, then log off of the cyber world and participate in the real world.

And if the people you serve don’t throw their arms around you and proclaim, “Thank you so much! You are the best wife/mother/friend EVER!!!” remember this: The Savior of us all was mocked, spit upon, beaten, and cruelly murdered by those He served. If you live a life of service and selfless sacrifice, you are in the best possible company.

CHALLENGE OF THE DAY and kalliope’s rant

Give them your time. Give them your love. Give them your heart. If you don't, who will?

Give them your time. Give them your love. Give them your heart. If you don’t, who will?

I’m going to admit up front that my head is reeling a little right now. I should probably apologize too, because I have a feeling this is going to turn into a rant. I just read three totally different things that have me wondering, “What kind of parent am I, really?” and “Who is going to save all of the broken and bruised children out there in this ever-increasingly sickening world?”

I know that evil has always existed, but when I was a child, at least people hid their evil tendencies. Now pedophiles clamor for recognition among the “classes” of sexual preferences. (And, just as a side note, why in the world do we need to declare our sexual preferences anyway, let alone have recognition for them??? ) When children are celebrated and honored, they are really paraded about like trophies and banners proclaiming, “Look how amazing I am; I saved six starving African babies!” or “Look at my beautiful offspring!!! Now, pay me millions of dollars for the exclusive.”

And then there is the politics of it all. Politicians think they have the right to decide if a child should live or die. Judges rule that women have a right to choose whether or not to murder unborn children. Members of a teachers’ union stand in solidarity with and fight for the severance pay of a teacher who molested a child for years.   Divorce settlements make things “fair” for adults, but ignore the needs of the children. Prominent people in media and government proclaim that children belong to the community. Everywhere around us, children are reduced to property, objects, tools, possessions…something to be used, disposed of, controlled, defiled. It seriously makes me want to vomit. A midst all of this quarreling among the adults about who has a right to do what, who is safeguarding the children?

Thank Heaven there is still some semblance of sanity–a few voices crying in the wilderness, a few beautiful examples of what the world should be like for children. That is the only thing keeping me from losing my mind right now. That and the fact that I have promised myself that I will BE the change I want to see in the world, and I will encourage everyone I can get to listen to me to do the same.

So here is the challenge of the day: Honor motherhood ( or fatherhood) by loving your children. Speak kindly to them. Cherish your time with them. Turn off the television, turn off your phone, get your butt off the stupid computer, and PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILDREN. If they ask you a question, answer them lovingly, honestly, openly. Give them your time. Give them your heart. There are enough people out there who will belittle them, take advantage of them, use them, hurt them, objectify them. Be the one who values them. Be the one who puts them first. Stand as sentinel. Safeguard them. Because that’s what it means to love someone. Because it is right. Because if you don’t, who will?

Challenge of the Day: Find Joy in the Journey

One of the most endearing memories my children say they have of me is a memory of me being angry…REALLY angry, and screaming. Not my finest hour, to be sure, and quite honestly, the fond memory isn’t about the anger, it is about the quirky way I handled it, and the simultaneous reaction to it.

My girls had been fighting (a daily, or maybe hourly, occurrence at our house), and the youngest one was wailing on one of her sisters. I have no idea how many times I had asked them, and then told them, and then demanded them, in a crescendo of decibel levels, to stop fighting, but I finally screamed at the little one, “If you hit your sister one more time, YOUR BUTT IS MINE!!!” Complete silence filled the house for a split second, and then all of my children, followed in short order by their mother, burst into wild laughter. The children continued to have fits of laughter about it throughout the day while repeating the phrase, “Your butt is mine” ad nauseum.  That was a couple of years ago, and they still break into fits of laughter at odd, random times and say, “Your butt is mine.”

Parenting is demanding, taxing, exhausting, infuriating, heart-wrenching, painful, and just plain difficult. The same can be said of being a spouse. But a family, whether it be a family of two or a family of twenty-two is worth doing.

Why???

Because having a family is also rewarding, thrilling, exhilarating, heart-warming, joyful, and just plain fun.

Today’s challenge is to focus on the positive, let the negative roll past, and just enjoy the journey you are taking with your family. Good, peace, fun, laughter, beauty, and absolute joy can be found in almost any moment. Enjoy and embrace the good things about your family, they could be gone in an instant.