Thursday, January 25, 2007

Where the Spirit Lives

I am at school right now and really need to be studying, but I have so much on my mind that I wouldn't be able to study even if I tried. All I could think was "I really need to blog about this," knowing that it would help me at least arrange my thoughts in some sort of order.

This term I am taking two history classes, 19th century Europe and the history of women in the US from 1800 to the present. I didn't really expect them to be so difficult for me emotionally, but I have found some of the material very..... difficult to keep inside.

I used to relate everything to the church, as many of you did as well, but I do so now with a different eye. When reading about this happening in the US or Europe in 1820 or 1830, I wonder who might have influenced JS at this time and how that affected the shaping of the church. Anyway, I started to have an anxiety attack when I was reading "A History of Private Life" for my European class and it mentioned Evangelicalism. These are some of the quotes I read which pain me now as I think of the grief, fear, and inadequacy I lived with but didn't even realize where there or why they were there.

"The Evangelical message focused on sin, guilt, and the possibilities of redemption" (pg 51)

"They could struggle for a truly religious way of life that would involve breaking all old habits, examining critically every individual and social act, and reflecting on the Christian meaning of every thought and practice." (pg 51)

"It aimed at the transformation of the individual self, the becoming of a new person in Christ. This required powerful supports - an internal system of checks... and also external supports from the clergy and others among the faithful who could assist in the ceaseless struggle to live as a new soul. Such a struggle involved the endless minutiae of daily life: relations with family, friends... servants, giving and taking of orders, eating of meals.... leisure pursuits.... whether at work or at home... God was watching and listening, and those all-seeing and all-hearing eyes and ears had to become the internal conscience." (pg 51)

"It was necessary to scrutinize every aspect of human behavior. A real Christian had to live a spiritual life every minute, every hour, every day, and every year; every action every thought had to be judged within the eternal scheme." (pg 51)

"The renunciation of self was vital... the heart must be surrendered to holy obedience, the will trained to submission." (pg 52)

I kept thinking while reading this "in losing myself in Christ, I find myself," "repentance is something done daily as we never know when we will be kneeling in front of God's (or Christ's, or Joseph Smith's or President Hinckley's or whoever will be judging us - never was clear on that one) judgment seat," "every action is preceded by a thought, so every thought must be celestial so that I may be celestial," etc.

So then I go to my US women's history class where we watch a film called Where the Spirit Lives. It is a story about the life of Native American children who were sent to schools to learn to live like "real human beings, not the savages they are." It was so sad to see the main character taken from her home, as so many young children were, sent to a school where they looked down on them, told them their heritage was savage and sinful, and were taught what was really important in life.

** Spoiler**

For anyone who may want to watch this movie and they don't want to know the end, stop reading now.

Ok, so there were lots of sad parts, but in the end the main character was able to escape the Anglican school and return home with her brother. Not many of the children were able to do this. Most children had to endure or die. And I know many of them did, whether by suicide or maltreatment at the school. Amelia was able to retain who she was and realize what she believed and what was important to her. It was so disheartening, saddening, and maddening to see how many good people could do so much harm and damage, all the while believing, truly believing they were doing what was right. Life is so complicated.

I have spent so much of my life trying to deny who I was and trying to fulfill a role that I am just now beginning to discover, or recover, who I am. In denying people the opportunity to be themselves we create so much misery, especially when we tell them it is horribly sinful and wrong and they'll go to hell for it. I know there has to be a line, someone who wants to kill people must not be allowed to, I won't deny that. Just that not being free to explore who we are and be ok with who we are is wrong.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fly Away

I love friends. I love real friends who like me for who I am and not what religion I belong to. I love knowing that someone wants to be with me because they chose to, not because they feel obligated to. I especially love it when those friends live close by. Since I started this blog I have been wanting to write about one of my dearest friends because I want everyone to know what a wonderful person she is, and how much she has helped me over this last year. So this post is dedicated to you, A.

A and I met met a couple of years ago while I was pregnant with M. I had started feeling really nervous about having two kids and still staying sane and had been wanting to talk with someone who already had more than one. I was walking outside of our house and saw A getting out of her car with her two kids. I really wanted to ask her what was hard about having two kids, what was easy, and how she did it. So I went over, introduced myself and asked away. She was really sweet and answered my questions, but we only spoke for a few moments because she needed to be on her way. I always looked for her car whenever I went outside after that, but I didn't ever run into her again outside my house.

Fast forward to around March of 2006 where we met up again at the park across from my house. We both must have been going stir crazy, because hardly anyone else was ever at the park, but it gave us the perfect opportunity to really open up to each other. We were both in going through very difficult times: her dealing with her marriage and mine with religion (which also included my marriage at the time). Though we never planned it, we ran into each other often over a short period of time and talked a lot. And listened a lot. Our oldest sons soon because fast friends and her son invited us over to their house. I was secretly delighted because I had been hoping to take our friendship past the "running into each other at the park" phase, but didn't know how do do it.

This past year has seen a lot of changes in both of our lives, and if it weren't for her I have no clue how I would have handled things. Before I started questioning my faith I would have testified that God sent her to me to help me through this trying time. I am no longer sure whether he exists, so now I just consider myself lucky as hell to have met her.

We took our boys to the Cascade Raptor Center today and were able to see hawks, raptors, owls, and vultures which had been rescued but were no longer able to survive out in the wild. They were amazing to watch and see up close. But the most beautiful part of the outing was the rare experience of watching rescued hawks being released back into the wild. Watching those amazing creatures take flight again after having been hit by cars reminded me of me, and everyone else going through similarly difficult circumstances. I feel like I have been hit by something huge and am wounded, but I started to feel hope in healing and of someday finding strength enough to fly. To add to the emotion and sweetness of the moment, the woman releasing one of the hawks dedicated it to her sister, who had died just over a week ago from a 9 month battle with brain cancer. A and I both had tears in our eyes.

A, you have helped me overcome so much and realize so much about myself. You have given me a safe place to fall when I felt there was none. Thank you A, for everything!!!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Just lay it all out there

Ha, I love hearing my oldest child run wildly down the hallway for the bathroom, slam the bathroom door shut, fling the toilet seat up, all the while hearing his feet hit the floor as he is doing the pee-pee dance. You gotta love it!

Ok, I have been avoiding this long enough. I have no idea how much sense this will make because I have had so much on my mind lately. So, please forgive me if I am all over the place and nothing makes sense.

I don't know how much my family knows, but I do know that they have some idea of my inactivity. Our youngest son is 18 months, so he should be in nursery by now. I remember talking with my sisters about how weird it was when S was almost 18 months, and talking with them about the strangeness or difficulties which occurred when their kids were put in nursery. No one has mentioned it. That, for my family, is weird. Gospel discussion was part of our daily life. We would always talk about church stuff in one way or another. The fact that I just don't talk about it anymore is very telling. When they mention something about the church, I just listen but I don't really add to the conversation much, except where I feel I can and need to so I can avoid something I'm not ready for. No one is bringing up the fact that I don't talk about it because no one wants to hear me say that I haven't gone to church, though they must suspect something. And I am not ready to say it. I'm not ready to face the torrential storm of emotions they will feel and I will feel.

My younger sister called today and we were just chatting about life. She is pregnant with her third and was released as the compassionate service leader (this is someone who sets up meals or help for families in need within the ward) because her pregnancies can often be difficult. They asked her to teach every third Sunday instead. She said, "I don't know if you know the prophet we are learning about this year, but it's Spencer W. Kimball." This is quite telling. She would never say that unless she knew something was up.

I feel anxious about this. I feel a need to "know" something. But having lived how I have I find it difficult to make decisions. I learned how to compartmentalize and live with cognitive dissonance for 30 years and I am finding it hard to change that. I have read about President Hinckley's couplet, Brigham Young's ideas of the moon, yet also stating that every sermon he preached was doctrine, the three first vision accounts, the changing of the unchangeable temple ceremony, and much more (sorry, I couldn't link it to the quotes specifically, so you'll need to search on the page that is brought up if you want to see them). Yet I still doubt what I have read. I still feel something inside not willing to say, "It's wrong." Why, why, why? Why can't I just get it? I feel split in half. Half of me believes what I have read and feels free to move around, but then there is another part of me that still feels mormony in some way and can't let go.

I have done a lot of crying, wailing, and throwing things these last few days. In fact, I almost went out to chop some wood, I just didn't have the energy to get up off the floor. I felt so much anger, sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness that I had nothing left.

I hope I make it through this, whatever it is.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Great and Spacious Tower

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Marter Luthen King Day!

Gluby woke up at 8:20 this morning and, since I am still sick, he got S ready for school. M was still asleep so all was well in the house as I tried to go back to sleep. About 20 minutes later I hear Gluby and S return home and I thought, "Hm, maybe there is a school delay because it's too cold or icy or something."

Soon I heard M clamoring in their bedroom and Gluby asked S to go keep him company until he could go get him. I figured I must have fallen asleep because I didn't remember Gluby getting up to go get M out of his crib, yet he was walking around the house. Later, Gluby came in and asked me if I took M out of the crib. I said, "No, didn't you?" "No." "Oh, good. Does that mean he did it himself? Ugh." It turns out that our 4.5 year old decided he was old enough to help pull his brother out. That is so much better than M getting out on his own!

Anyway, about 20 minutes after they got home S asked me if I wanted the door closed because everyone was up and about. I said he could leave it open and, by the way, why wasn't he at school? He said, "Papa said that it's Ma(mumble) Lu(mumble) King Day."

Me: "Ah, it's Martin Luther King Day? Ok."

Then I hear, "Papa, I told Mama that it's Ma(mumble) Lu(mumble) King Day!"

Gluby: "It's pronounced Martin Luther King Day, S."

He then ran back to our room and said, "It's Marter Luthen King Day, Mama!"

Me: "It is?"

S: "Yup."

Me: "Ok, thanks"

So, on this special day I want to wish you all a Happy Marter Luthen King Day!

And, if you haven't taken the time to listen to any of his speeches, here is a website that has his speeches on audio file. I have only heard two, I have a Dream and I've been to the Mountain Top, but they are amazing. I actually cried listening to the Mountain Top speech.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I was reading through my favorite blogs today (don't worry, if I didn't/don't post a comment on your site today it doesn't mean you aren't included in "my favorite blogs" list. I just didn't have time to comment on all of them!) and started to feel a wave of emotion and gratitude to you all. Your blogs have helped me in more ways than I can express and I want to say thank you to everyone out in the blogosphere. Your support and friendship mean so much to me. Thank you!

Love to you all and a hope for a happier present and future!


How Do You Rate as a Girl?

This term I am taking a US Women's History class and, in reading one of the assigned texts, I came across this quote from a 1960 issue of Seventeen magazine.

How Do You Rate as a Girl?

1. Do you wait for a boy to open a car door, even though you both know you are quite capable of managing it yourself?

2. Do you listen responsively to a story you have heard before rather than squash the pleasure of the boy who is telling it?

3. If you are going to the movies with another girl, do you look presentable enough to cope with an unexpected encounter?

4. If you bureau drawers or closets were open to view without warning, could you stand the inspection without apologies?

5. In a serious discussion which includes both sexes, can you keep form being overpowering even though you know a great deal on the subject?

6. If a boy forgets his manners, can you restrain yourself from correcting him?

7. Are you able to refused a kiss without hurting a boy's pride and sending him home in a huff?

8. If that special boy told you he liked your long hair, would you keep it long to please him?

9. Have you the courage to be nice to a boy whom the other girls consider to be a bore?

10. In stores, are you apt to moon over pretty lingerie and perfume?

Scoring: Seven or more yeses: you are a veritable flower of femininity! Five to seven yeses: there are a few thorns. Under five: ouch!

Wow, um, can you say propaganda? There is a quote from "The Secret of Being Feminine." For Teen Only, February 1963:

"You can and should pursue your own interests and always do your best, but not to the disadvantage of that boy in your life, whether he be your date, your steady or someday....your husband."

So go out and be yourself! Just do it inside this little box we have made for you. It reminded me of being at a CES fireside when I was 23 and one of the apostles (I don't remember which one) said that there are too many aggressive women out there and that we need women who are courageous enough to be soft, compassionate, nurturing, welcoming, and feminine. I decided right there that I wanted to be those things. I would be those things.

Just like American culture encouraged females to be who they are, but to do so within the provided box, Mormon culture says to be yourself as long as you have and develop certain qualities.

It's nice, right now anyway, to be free from the box and just be me.

Monday, January 8, 2007

You too can be happy, clean, and obedient!

Gluby and I had a friend over for dinner tonight and they made some wonderful Tom Yum soup. (I love not having to cook!) After we were done eating we moved to the living room and chatted for a couple of hours. I remember looking at the clock at 11:01 and thinking that I was feeling sleepy. The next thing I know my pillow, Gluby's lap, was moving. I complained that my pillow had moved and Gluby suggested that it would be more comfortable if I went to sleep on the bed. I decided to take Gluby's advice and headed off to bed while they went to the office to do stuff with the computer. By the time I got to the bedroom I was wide awake, and here I am at almost 4:00 AM, still awake. Ugh.

Anyway, I spent some of my time reading blogs and basically wasting time on my laptop in bed. Around 2 I decided to take a look at the newest Friend magazine. I read two different stories whose main characters were little boys named Matthew (shows originality of thought, you know?), how the Holy Ghost helps us to feel good when we help others (because we can't feel it by our carnal, natural selves), and what a "happy, clean, and obedient boy" Spencer W. Kimball was. It seems Kimball spent all of his free time learning the scriptures, singing hymns, and running off to Primary. But, he is just a normal little boy, as, you see, he also loved to squirt milk from the cow into the cat's mouths during the milking! What a little rascal!

I am not sorry that I have started hiding the Friend and Ensign magazines from our children. I haven't tossed the last few because I want to read them with open, non-emotional eyes and see what I think. Things are not looking up for the church.