Sunday, January 31, 2016

In which I was a teen psychic

Last week, my mom had me go through some boxes of my stuff from junior high and high school to get rid of whatever I didn't want anymore (apparently my parents' house doesn't have infinite space?) In the process, I found something bizarre. Something glorious. Something I had completely forgotten existed.  It was....the Man in a Can!

So, the Man in a Can was an activity we did for my church Young Women's group when I was 14. We cut out pictures of wedding dresses, color schemes, and rings, made lists of attributes we wanted in a future husband, and picked out names for our future children ("So, basically pre-Internet Pinterest," says my brother). Then, each of us sealed up the contents of our wishful wedding planning in a Number 10 can, to be opened only when we had become engaged.

So here I was, face to face with my DIY Pinterest Time Capsule, opening it a year and a half late. I remembered the activity; I also remembered having a really bad attitude about it. I'm pretty sure I sat in the corner with some of my friends griping about how it was dumb, and styles were totally going to change between now and whenever I got married, and what if some of us never got married, and I wanted to go rock climbing for our activity but no, we didn't have the budget for that. But I eventually sucked it up and clipped a few things out and put them in my can, and I think at some point I actually started enjoying it. 11 years later, I was a little bit anxious. What if I opened it and saw a picture of the perfect dress, and had regret about the dress I actually wore at my wedding? What if I had found the perfect color scheme back at 14, and all the time I spent agonizing over my wedding colors had been completely unnecessary? Who knows what kinds of long-buried expectations and newly discovered regrets this tin can would stir up?

Still, it had to be done. With Aaron's help, I opened the can, eager for a glimpse into my own adolescent mind.

The first thing I learned was that as a teenager, I had way different taste in jewelry. Here are my prototype wedding rings:


They're just so...boxy and clunky and...eugh. Not my cup of tea. And diamonds aren't really my thing either. Here's my actual wedding ring.


Next, I looked at my wedding dress choice. Teenage me was actually pretty close to adult me in this choice. I really like the bodice and the overall shape of this dress. And it doesn't actually look much different than the one I ended up going with.


But then I pulled out my list of attributes for my future husband, and it got really weird. 

Most of these are pretty generic Mormon/teenage girl answers. Who doesn't want a partner who is loving or patient or smart or respectful or sensitive? All of these apply to Aaron, but that just means he's a good guy. Then I started to notice that some of these were a little more specific: "Spontaneous and fun-loving," "funny," "loves music." Again, still nothing highly unusual. But then I noticed two things "will sing to me" and "brown curly hair would be nice." Whaaa? First, Aaron sings to my almost constantly. It's possible we sing to each other more than we talk to each other. And I mean...brown curly hair? Aaron is literally the only person with brown curly hair I've ever been romantically interested in (besides like...Josh Groban....) How did I call that as a 14 year-old?

The only conclusion I've been able to come to is that I had latent psychic powers as a teenager. How else would I have known that I'd marry a music-loving, curly-haired man, and wear a drop-waist, butterfly sleeve dress for the occasion? It's spooky, man.



Saturday, January 30, 2016

In which I feel the burn

This year, I set a New Year's resolution that I've been trying to bring myself to set for a few years. I decided that I would lose 20 pounds by the end of the year.

For the past three years, I've been skirting around the issue, pretending I don't care, and basically doing nothing. So what that I'm almost thirty pounds heavier than I was five years ago? Bodies change, man. I was training for a half marathon five years ago, and I sure don't have time for that now. I would tell myself that the only healthy outlook was to love myself as I was, which meant accepting those extra thirty pounds as a welcome part of me. I told myself that trying to lose weight would only lead to extreme dieting, anxiety, and probably profound disappointment. I reasoned that it was just too hard, I couldn't do it, and it would make more sense to just accept my new size as normal.

And I was ready to leave it at that, except that I couldn't. It kept nagging at me. This extra weight doesn't feel like a part of me. I don't love how I look, I've had to say goodbye to some of my favorite clothes because they don't fit anymore, and I'm just not comfortable. A few months ago, my weight finally crossed from the "healthy" BMI zone to the "overweight" zone, which was kind of a rude awakening. I have a family history of serious health problems caused and aggravated by obesity, and while I'm healthy now, I'd rather not have to deal with any of those down the line. Further, I've realized that my weight gain is a symptom of some really unhealthy eating and exercise habits that I should probably work on regardless of the numbers on the scale.

Most of all, I've realized that yes, loving someone means you accept them and love them where they're at. But it also means that you support them in their goals for self-improvement. You don't enable them in stagnation. You encourage them to be better. I can love myself and my body and still set goals, change my habits, and get healthier.

A lot of my friends who have been successful in losing weight have done so by enrolling in exercise programs, following a strict dietary regimen, and otherwise making drastic changes in their lives. While I respect and admire their tenacity, I'm almost positive that approach wouldn't work for me. I would burn out within days and jump right back into eating ice cream for dinner every night. So I'm going to focus on making small, sustainable changes and turning them into habits. Right now, that means only eating sweets on the weekends and exercising five days a week. When that becomes easy, maybe I'll pay attention to the kind of exercise I'm doing or work more fruits and vegetables into my diet.

Even though the changes I'm making are tiny, sometimes they feel so. so. hard. It physically pains me when there's a package of cookies up for grabs in the faculty room and I'm munching on my carrots instead. In the middle of a Utah winter, it's really difficult to convince myself to go running when I could be on my couch watching Netflix. But there's a kind of a satisfaction that comes when I do make these choices. In a yoga class I went to the other day, the instructor talked about the concept of tapas. Tapas literally means heat, and refers to the friction generated by going against the grain of what is easy. It's a purifying fire generated by letting one's will rule over one's desires. In an LDS context, it might be described as allowing the spirit dominion over the body. My instructor described tapas as "a fiery discipline" that allows people to transcend themselves. And every time I turn down a brownie, change into my running shoes, or eat an apple instead of a bowl of ice cream, I'm cranking that fire up just a little bit hotter.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

In which I'm back

Well, you may have noticed that my Johnny Karate blog series lasted exactly one post. I'm not going to make any apologies or give any excuses for that. But after a seven month blogging hiatus, I think I'm ready to start writing again. I don't know what shape this blog will take or what purpose it will serve. It used to be a journal of sorts, a place to vent my thoughts when I didn't know who to share them with. I have an unprecedented level of support in my life now, and my mental health is much better than when I was blogging the most, so I don't need this blog to be therapy for me anymore. But I do know that I miss writing.

I know that these days blogs are supposed to have a theme or a niche or some unifying feature. For the past seven months I've been trying to choose an angle: do I want this to be a lifestyle blog (whatever the heck that is)? A blog about living in Provo? A religiously-themed blog? A blog full of stirring essays about my deepest inner feelings? I have no clue. And while it's hard for me to choose a specific angle, I think the title of my blog provides the closest thing I've got to a unifying theme. I am alive, learning, and growing, and I want to share my thoughts and stories. You can come join me, if you like.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

In which we encounter fake flowers, whales with legs, donuts, pixies, and middle school

Well, today is Tuesday, which means it is time to report on my first week living the Johnny Karate Way!  So, here is what I did!

Make Something: We did a lot of art projects at work this past week (professional development for the art teachers, fun for the rest of us), and my favorite was making these tissue paper flowers. It's super easy! The ones that I made look halfway decent, even though I am seriously disabled at crafts. I think I'll have my students make these for May Day next year.



Learn Something: Did you know that there used to be whales with legs? It's true! Sort of! At least, the direct ancestors of whales were land mammals who had legs and webbed feet (kind of like sea lions). Also, I learned that ladybugs lay extra, unfertilized eggs for their babies to eat upon hatching. So that's neat. These are the cool things you learn when you go to the Natural History Museum of Utah. Seriously, everyone go there. It is gorgeous and you can learn about whales with legs, so that seems like a win-win.

Karate Chop Something: I karate-chopped....my hair!



Okay, actually my wonderful hairdresser Shelby did all of the chopping, but it took a lot of guts on my part to let her chop it! This is the shortest my hair has been since I was about 3 and I love it to death.

Try Something New Even If It's Scary to You: On Monday, Aaron and I hiked to Donut Falls. It felt so good to be up in the mountains again, and to try a new hike. Aaron wanted to climb all the way to the top of the falls, past the sign that said, "Do not climb past this point or else you will die," (or some similar warning,) and I was terrified, but I did it, and nobody slipped and fell onto the sharp rocks and died. So that was a win.




Be Nice to Someone: My friend's wife is creating a curriculum for a middle school composition class for her music education capstone, and she needed some volunteers to help her workshop it. So Aaron and I were her guinea pig students for a couple of days. We got to create some fun compositions and brainstorm ways to teach some different musical concepts.

All in all, this week was a success! I will be far away from the Internet next Tuesday, so I'll try to get an early post out by Sunday night. If not, you will get a double post in two weeks. Lucky you!

What have you made, done or karate chopped this week? Did you try anything now or scary? How have you been nice to someone? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In which I become a follower of the Johnny Karate Way

Well, this blog has gotten a bit dusty, but seeing as the school year is ending any second now (actually, in three days, but whatever), I thought I'd pull it back out and give this whole creativity thing a whirl. And I actually have an idea for a blogging project that's been fermenting for a couple months now. Hopefully this will keep my brain from atrophying too much during the break.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge fan of the recently-ended show, Parks and Recreation. I didn't know that a TV show could be so simultaneously hilarious, emotionally engaging, and just....goodhearted. Aaron and I started watching it together when we were dating, and soon we referenced our "Pawnee friends" in conversation the same way we would discuss any other mutual friends. Parks and Rec has been, literally, the most influential TV show of my life.

Television Parks And Recreation animated GIF

All right, so, the project! In the final season of Parks, Andy Dwyer, the series' lovable buffoon, has created a children's TV show called The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show!

Parks And Recreation Tv Show animated GIF
Parks And Recreation Chris Pratt animated GIF
Parks And Recreation Chris Pratt animated GIF
Parks And Recreation Chris Pratt animated GIF

Johnny Karate is absolutely ridiculous, and it also possibly contains the key to a fulfilling life. Johnny's Five Karate Moves to Success are, in order:

1) Make Something
2) Learn Something
3) Karate-chop Something
4) Try Something New, Even if it's Scary to You
5) Be Nice to Someone

Each of these five steps has its own segment on the show. What I want to know is, how would my life change if I implemented these steps? Would I become a smarter, kinder, more fulfilled, happier person? Would I become a space ninja from Mars? Would I be disappointed in myself for taking life advice from a fictional children's television program?

Only one way to find out.

This summer, I'll be posting every Tuesday with the ways I have used the Five Karate Moves to Success this week (and yes, there will be pictures of karate-chopping stuff). I invite anybody who is interested to join me in this challenge, and keep me posted on how it goes for you.

Remember, kids:

Well, it’s time for us to go, but I want you all to know
That karate’s not about fighting,
It’s about knowing who you are,A
nd being kind and honest while you’re kicking for the stars.
Yeah, that’s the Johnny Karate way! 

Parks And Recreation Wink animated GIF

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Which I Am Lonely

Not long ago, loneliness, for me, was inevitable. My roommates would leave on their dates, or to the library to study, or to their graveyard shifts, and I would be left alone. Sometimes I would try to make plans with other friends, and sometimes I would be successful. Sometimes I would call my mom or my sister and catch up. But often I would find myself at home with nobody to talk to, knowing that there was nobody who actively desired my presence. I got accustomed to the dull ache and learned how to work around it and to distract myself, but time and time again, it came back.

This evening, I feel that ache again. I desperately wish there were somebody home to talk to, to laugh with, or just to sit by. I am craving companionship and I don't know where to find it. It's been so long since I had to deal with this kind of loneliness, and I don't remember how I used to numb it. It hurts.

But in a strange way, I relish the pain. Its very unfamiliarity is a reminder of the goodness that is my life these days. I get to spend each day with my best friend, and when I'm not with him, I'm either working at a job I love, spending time with friends or family, or relishing my alone time. I still experience depression, anxiety, and stress on a fairly frequent basis, but loneliness? It's almost unheard of now.

So, tonight I feel lonely. And I am grateful, because it reminds me of the time where loneliness was everywhere, and how much has changed since then.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In which I become reacquainted with an old hobby

Recently, I reintroduced myself to my old friend, the sewing machine. I had five very large windows and access to a room full of free fabric, so I decided that I should make some curtains. Now, I haven't actually sewn anything since I was about 13, besides a few errant buttons. I have fond elementary school memories of helping my mom with sewing projects, making a pair of pajama pants for my Dad one Christmas, and making a pillowcase in 7th grade home ec. However, sometime around 8th grade I stopped sewing. Maybe it was because I strongly, strongly disliked my 8th grade sewing teacher. Maybe it was a misguided attempt to reject stereotypically feminine gender roles. Maybe I just knew my mom wanted me to learn to sew and I was being a punk. Who knows. All I know is that even though all I've made so far is a set of really simple curtains, I am in love with this hobby. The hypnotizing clacking of the machine, the precision involved in measuring, cutting, and pressing, and the satisfaction of looking at your finished product....it's just awesome. All of it.

Displaying IMG_20150117_203847501.jpg

Displaying IMG_20150117_203726134.jpg