Thursday, January 24, 2013

What I have learned from the Men and Women in Hawaii

First of all, I would like to tak a little bit more about how I don't feel it is good or healthy for your mind or body to try to lose weight by putting yourself on strict regimens, be it exercise or diet. I am sure a lot of you are thinking. Sherry! I am overweight! I am unhealthy. I need to lose weight! It is not a bad thing. My Doctor even told me too!

I agree that in a lot of cases it would be favourable in one's life to lose weight. However, your weight is not the problem. It is usually just a symptom of a problem, or a variety of problems. My opinion is that most of those problems stem from a misunderstanding of who you are, and your worth as Child of God. There is a lack of self love. Would you shove the food that you put in your mouth into your child, watch her gain weight, put her on the scale everyday and be angry at her all day when it went up a pound? Would you then tell her that she deserves to not eat tomorrow? Would you starve her for a week and then when she finally can't take it, have her eat a whole bad of cookies? Would you then make her throw them up, and tell her she was bad for even eating those in the first place? I think child services would come and take that poor girl away! Not even kidding. What is sad, is how many of us treat ourselves in a similar fashion?

Christopher and I watched Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah last night and the whole interview I was just dying to know what finally changed his heart? Why, after all the lies, did he decide to come forth now with the truth. Finally, fighting back tears he told that it all changed when he saw that his son was defending his Dad at school while all the kids were accusing him of doping.  It broke Lance's heart to think that his son really trusted him, especially because his son had NEVER asked him if he was telling the truth. His 13 year old son, just believed him, because he trusted his Dad. Prior to this, nothing could shake Lance to tell the truth. He even lied under oath and sued his honest friends, people who accused him but were actually telling the truth.  I found it so touching, what the power of Love can do to change people from the inside out.

So, why is it that we would never intentionally do anything to harm our children, yet we are so unkind to ourselves. Like I said, being unhealthy is usually because we are not being very kind to ourselves. We are disrespecting our bodies, and using them for reasons that they never were intended for.

So, how do we learn to love ourselves, well first off like I said yesterday, I think it is important that we accept ourselves. We need to toss the belief that we are not good enough. You need not be perfect to be good enough. Do you have a perfect house? A perfect spouse? A perfect child? Of course not, but do you love them in their weakness, their shortcomings? Are they good enough? When we have a heart of gratitude, I believe that they are. I hope this is what we as women and men can all feel about ourselves. We don't need to be perfect in order to give ourselves some compassion and love.

The Men and Women in Hawaii have been such great examples to me in this area. Men and Women here are for the most part BIG! They are not only really tall, but really really thick. (with the exception of all the little asian people) They are such happy and loving people. They live simple lives, and for the most part you can tell their greatest treasures in life are their God and the people around them. They love their families, but they truly are so welcoming and treat everyone as if they are family.  It has been such a wonderful experience.  Some of them joke about them being so big, and some are like....yaaa I should probably try to lose weight, but there is not the sense of shame that I feel on the mainland. I guess they don't take it as such a personal fault or failure. The men also seem to just love their big women. It doesn't seem like they find fat gross, nor do they need this tiny little petite thing in order to feel like they can protect her. Sooo refreshing. It is just another evidence, that our reality is really not the reality. Skinny or muscular truly does not mean more attractive. It only does, because someone one day decided to convince us that is did. Same thing with fashion! Who decides what is in style and what is not?? Well, pinterest seems to be doing that these days, but regardless we just buy into all these lies as if they are absolute truth when the real truth is that none of that stuff matters.

I may sound like a broken record, but what does matter is LOVE. Love of God, Love of Yourself and Love of your Neighbours. Hawaiians are pretty darn good at that and I am trying to be more like them.

Anyway, I hope yall are having a good day. I am trying to be patient while I await this baby. Doc says I am 4 cm dilated now, so any day now!!! Like my friend Mindy said to me yesterday, she said, when you are in labor look around at everyone and remember that every single person came out of a vagina. Strangely  it really helped to think of it that way. I am nothing special. It is a probably the most common miracle we have in the life. How cool is it that we have all been a part of it! Ok that is enough for today!

I love you Daddy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Accept Yourself

First of all, I have not been writing the last few days because....well I have been in labour! Ugggh. It has been what is called "prodromal labour". For some women, labor is extended over days rather than hours. Contractions are regular and painful, however in my case they will last for 12 hours or so and then stop. Then they will start again, never getting strong enough however to get that baby out. One has referred to it as running a marathon in spurts rather than at a constant pace. The destination is the same, however the strategy of getting to the finish line is quite different. I am not having contractions right now however, so I figure it was a good time to make a post...then I am going to take a nap because I was up pretty much all night having contractions. 

One of my biggest passions and reasons for writing this blog is to help people understand what real beauty is. I am sure many of you have heard of the Dove campaign for real beauty where they display many different body types of women who are posing in their panties... Although, I can appreciate their effort and understand their objective, I think they are missing the real point. They are trying to show that a beautiful body comes in all different sizes and shapes. I agree with this whole heartedly however real beauty goes much much deeper than your physical appearance. First of all, real beauty would not be posing almost nude for millions of people. Real beauty is purity and virtue. Real beauty is a kind smile and loving hands. ANY and ALL women are capable of this. Like I have said, this does NOT mean that you will be admired by people for your beauty. You may just have to bite the bullet and accept that most people are going to think you are ugly for the rest of your life. In summary, it should not matter what you look like, but rather who you are. 

So, in no way am I discouraging exercise or a balanced diet. I am ALL for this, however having studied Health Education in University, I see health as much much more than just physical health. There are several aspects of health and too often people sacrifice their emotional health, their social health, their financial health, their mental health, their spiritual health or their intellectual health all so that they can focus on their physical health. Exercise and and nutrition are very important for a long and  fulfilling life, but it really does not take that much to be healthy in these areas. Much of what we hear in the media about exercise and nutrition is aimed at changing what you look like. I feel that most people disagree with me on this point, but I really believe that your appearance should not be of concern for you. This is probably the first time you have ever heard this, and can be a hard concept to wrap your mind around, but stay with me on this one. 

I have worked in the beauty industry on and off since high school and I always end up leaving it, because quite frankly I find it sad. You would probably die at the money that is spent on face creams to prevent wrinkles. Can our developed nations really justify spending hundreds of dollars each month on face creams when there are children dying everyday because they don't have food to eat!? 

I realize that the reality in our world is that physical appearance is soooooo important. I realize that. I don't foresee that changing either. What I am saying is that we don't have to buy into it. At some point in life you will get a saggy bum and wrinkles. You will not have a rock hard stomach, or flawless skin. If you don't believe me, call your Grandma. If you think, you will just not care by that point, I would beg to differ. I am confident that unless I stop caring now, I will care then. I know of a lady who is almost 90 and still obsesses about her weight. 

I am not God, but I am trying to help Him by helping his daughters understand why He loves them and what he expects of them. God loves you because you are amazing! You are sweet and caring and tender hearted. He loves you because you would never pass by a child on the street who is crying without stopping to offer help. He loves you because you bring create bodies for His children to come to earth. He loves you because you are HIS! You are His creation. I would like to believe that you would not criticize a gift that someone gave you in front of their face. That would be ungrateful and rude. Well, the reality is that your body is a gift from God, and you are always in his view. We would be wise to be grateful and treat it with love and respect. 

That was weird, I thought I saw an ant crawling on my arm... but alas it was just my mole... :) Anyway,   I hope that I am helping someone. I have seen too many people destroy themselves over this pressure to look a certain way. I have said this before, but not only is my immediate family and extended family plagued with these issues, I had a roommate die of a heart attack after starving herself. I took another roommate to the hospital and spent all night with her as she was hooked up to a heart monitor after her attempted suicide in which bulimia had a strong role. I had a friend addicted to laxative, another whose heart actually stopped for a moment because of anorexia but thank goodness she lived. I have heard others throwing up in the bathroom after a big meal, or spending hours at the gym. Not only have I seen these things, but I have lived in my own hell as well. It feels so good to slowly break free from it and release myself of all these pressures. I am learning that I am good enough. There is so much more to me than my body. I love my body. It allows me to express myself and enjoy the wonderful earth God created for us. Sometimes I look down at my hands and marvel how just a thought can make them move, or how my heart has been beating for 27 years without any effort on my part. What a gift! 

God, a long with my parent have given me a life. I am so grateful. I love my life. The love I have for my family and friends is overwhelming at times. Other times, not so much.... he he. But deep down I am so grateful for what I have been given. I love my body and what is had allowed me to do and experience. And, Finally, I am realizing that what I see in the mirror can never rob me of the gratification that comes from giving someone a big hug, or wiping away a tear. Even my fat swollen pregnant fingers can still do that! :) The number that changes on the scale will never have the power to change my ability to pray, or to listen to a friend who needs to talk. This is what being a beautiful woman is about, and when we let vanity in our hearts, it will rob us of these sacred experiences every time. 

I love you Daddy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let it go...

To be honest, I don't really know what to say. Today has so far been a hard day. One negative thought has led to another and got me feeling really down. I wanted to talk today about how to let this obsession go with your weight, but who am I to talk. I definitely have not done so. I am trying, very very hard. Part of my sadness is that I do not know how. I have discovered one thing today though. In my search for answers, I turned to the scriptures as I usually do and I came across Helaman 3. I would suggest you read it. If you don't have a Book of Mormon, get one! It is such a great book. You might have heard crap about it, but the best way to know the truth of something is to test it out and ask God yourself.  In fact you would not have to get one. I read it online usually on

This chapter talks about yielding your heart to God. I believe that the answer is not to force yourself to stop obsessing about yourself, but rather refocus yourself on something else. I once was told to not think of a pink elephant for 5 min. Guess what, the more I tried to not focus on a pink elephant, the more I thought about it. However, it is possible if you just start thinking about something else completely and ignore that you are not supposed to think about something.

I think this is also where Gratitude come in. I think life would be much more rich for me if I thought more about how full my cup was instead of how empty it was.

Just got off the phone with my husband. He could tell I was irritable and asked me what was up. I told him of my frustrations. He told me to just keep going and that slowly but surely God will continue to help me. I am so in love with him. He is so good to me and good for me. I have been trying to give myself freedom to eat what I want, but to be honest, I do not know myself. I don't know what I want.

When I was a kid, my mom controlled what I ate. As a teenager, I got to decide, however I was already so instilled with what was a "good" food and what was a "bad" food that I never really had freedom. Food, at a very early age was associated with either guilt and shame, or power, success and control. Dieting, whether it had a name or was just a set of rule in my mind, allowed some sense of external control over me because my belief was that I could not trust myself to make good choices

Ouch, I think this baby having a wrestling match with my innards. Or maybe He senses that mommy is upset and is trying to let me know that He is with me.  Both options kind of make me want to cry. :P

Thanks for reading. I will keep you posted on this journey of mine that I find joy in sharing.

I love you Daddy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

To be Truly Feminine

First of all, I would have you know that what I share with you is not only heartfelt, but it is shared after many hours of thinking, praying, discussing, crying and even yelling! I have gone through years of suffering and have also watched many family and friends suffer too from the same or similar issues. I have no shame in being open about this all, and part of that determination to be open about it is because I have learned that most people are very uncomfortable talking about this stuff. Many women carry a heap load of shame, or just would like to pretend that they are ok. After all, if they admitted that something was out of balance, that would mean they may have to change. Changing would mean that they may have to stop skipping meals or cut down their hours spent at the gym, and we all know what that would mean....a potential visit from the boogie man called FAT!!! Or some may feel that exposing a demon in themselves would mean that people would see their imperfection that they try so desperately to hide. In our minds, sometimes imperfection = disapproval = less affection = less love.  FALSE! The first step to solving any problem is admitting that their is a problem. In order to do that, it is important to know that we ALL have problems, even the people that like to portray that they have none. The fact that they are dishonest about themselves, is a problem in itself.  It does not mean you have to shout it to the world, like I do, but at least admit it to yourself and to God. Tell Him how much you need Him, your thoughts, your feelings, your desires, even if you think they are "bad".  He knows everything anyways, so hiding them from Him in prayer is quite ridiculous. I promise He loves you, He wants to hear from you and He will help you with your needs and wants.

I would like to share something with you that has been very helpful for me in understanding how poisonous it is to focus on your appearance. I am assuming most of you are women reading, but those who are men, this example may be helpful for you too.

One time while talking to my wise brothers about all this, they said. "Well Sherry, a girl with a nice body is not necessary in order for us to want her." I was all "YA RIGHT!" In my experience, most boys have wanted me when I was thin. When I have been heavier it is VERY obvious that there is less interest in me. First of all, my belief is that some boys will go for just the girls that look like models. YOU DONT WANT A MAN LIKE THAT. Second, there are men who are just as confused as we are about what is desirable in a woman. They may focus too much on looks, but ultimately they want a women with a TRUE feminine nature which is more about love and kindess. I have found that boys like this often are very frustrated in dating or marriage because a women is either focussed on herself or focussed on other. He may like her tan skin, her perfect nails, her firm butt, her perfectly white teeth, her fake eyelashes, and fashionable clothes....but eventually he realizes that she is not what he wants. She is too into herself, too into the world. Perhaps she does not want to be a mom, or stay at home to take care of her kids. Perhaps she is too into her career, or she spends all their money on herself.  Ultimately, although she is a nice accessory for him, her selfishness gets in the way every time. Finally there are men like my brothers, who have their eye on the real prize, a virtuous women who is willing to sacrifice and give of herself for him and the children. This does NOT mean she is frumpy and ugly and has no sense of style or desire to take care of herself. She takes care of herself because she understands that her body is a gift from God. It is holy and she keeps it clean out of  SELF ACCEPTANCE not out of a belief that "I am not good enough". She is not obsessed with herself, nor does she feel anxiety that if she has to cut her hair, or is not wearing makeup, that her husband will lose interest.

In trying to understand all of this my brothers used an example that hit home to me. They asked me if a man being rich was a prerequisite for me to be interested in him. For some girls this is a requirement. HOW SAD. For other girls, they are in a similar situation to the boys in the second category above. I was one of these girls for a long time. Although I did not care too much about money per say, I was looking for a guy who had worldly prestige. Status. I also wanted a selfless man who held me as his first priority. I wanted a God fearing man who was humble and was not obsessed with himself, his carreer, sports or his money. NOT possible! Why not? Well, because as the Bible says,

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other." Matthew 6: 4

In other words, if your heart is set on obtaining riches or a better body, you have yourself a false God. If you are ready to finally have true and lasting peace and joy in your life, it is time to change your master.

After I realized that I was attracted to the wrong type of guy, I spent many hours of heartfelt prayers asking God to help me TRULY desire Christopher. (who is now my husband). That may not sound very romantic, but I knew in my MIND that he was what I wanted and needed and I was determined to not fall into the same trap wanting a man who did not treat me right. SO MANY women fall into this trap. Now, I am in the process of aligning my heart and mind in my desires for myself. I consistently pray that what I am typing here will travel south from my mind to my heart and stay there!

How would you feel if your husband was obsessed with money, and spent more time thinking about being rich then about you!?? He might justify that he wants the money for you, though. It is so that you can be proud of him and desire him more! I am pretty sure that most women would prefer a husband who spent his time and energies thinking of her and how to help her feel loved and special and wanted. I know at least for myself, I would rather be poor financially, and rich in my relationships than poor in my relationships and rich financially. I would suggest to you that most men feel the same way about you and your body. They would rather have a fat happy wife, then a skinny miserable one, even when you think you are trying to be skinny for him. I believe that these are two of life's greatest illusions, and they are exposed through a paradox. The first is that if I can just get this paid off or have this much money saved then I won't have to worry about money any more. The second is, if I can just lose this many pounds or wear these pants again then I won't have to worry about my weight anymore. If I can just be "here" then I will be at peace and can focus on other areas of my life.  Stop believing it! It is a lie, an illusion, a mirage of water in the desert. I have been one of the biggest suckers for this lie for many years. Even if you get to the weight you want, it is either never enough or when it is, it takes all of your energy to maintain it in fear of losing what you worked so hard for. Trust me! There is a reason there are women out there everyday dying from anorexia, it is never enough! Here is the truth, life's ultimate paradox....In the words of Jesus...

"For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."  Mark 8 : 35

Finally, unfortunately oft times there is the issue of pornography and to all the women out there who have loved ones battling this horrible, horrible addiction, my heart weeps for you. This topic makes me VERY angry and VERY sad. In fact, the other day I wrote a poem about my feelings..... I must say, this poem was directed at men who are NOT willing to change. Not the humble men who in many cases were innocently trapped and now are trying to break free from a pornography addiction.

I am angry...

Angry at all of you 
who see it like a game
a pretty face to prey on 
who really has a name

There is all kind of junk
floating on the internet sea.
It's disgusting and you know it,
yet you savor it like Candy

Have you ever thought your hurting
more people than just yourself. 
The men, the women, the children
You keep hidden on your shelf. 

I know I should not hate you
but I hate what you do. 
In fact, hate is not a strong enough word for
the sleazy things you view.

When you touch filthy things
You become an enemy to God
you join Satan’s most vulgar team;
pleasure’s greatest fraud. 

I can’t control the waves
that roll across your screen
I can’t erase the images
your darkened eyes have seen

I can’t control your thoughts
and what they stimulate you to do
yet there is one thing I can control:
I will teach my son to never be like you. 

I can only imagine the pressure a women feels if she is being compared to digital women who look perfect on a screen, the women who walk around the mall in their mini skirts, or the women that clearly spend most of their life at the gym in front of a mirror glorifying themselves. Actually that is not true. I don't need to imagine. I think every man has to put up a fight in this area. Whenever an immodest girl shows up on a movie screen or walks by us in the store, my husband always turns to me and gives me a kiss. I think he is so amazing for turning so quick from temptation, but I would be lying if I did not admit that it breaks my heart that there is temptation at all. I wish that all women would see their bodies as more sacred and dress accordingly, but unfortunately we live in a society that exploits women as sex objects and consequently both men and women are being affected by it's seductive appeal. We are not enemies of each other, we need to unite as men and women in fighting Satan's plan to destroy souls and families. I know it can sometimes feel like men are the enemy, pressuring us to look a certain way, but I believe they are just as lost as us in knowing what makes a desirable woman. 

In conclusion, I would like to share another scripture that I think about a lot. 

"Therefore, oh ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all of your HEART, MIGHT, MIND and STRENGTH. That ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." 
Doctrine and Convenant 4:2

At the last day...or in other words, when we stand before him to be judged, do you think he will ask to see your husband's bank statement? Similarly, will He ask you to flex your triceps muscle, or wil He give your rear a cellulite check?? Will He give your kankles a disapproving look, or pinch in disgust your muffin top?? I believe that He will do none of the such. Rather he will look into your eyes, and it will be evident to both you and Him if you really know him. My wish and greatest desire is that when I am at this critical moment, He will look at me with teary eyes of approval. He will give me a hug and thank me for sacrificing a body that would have given me earthly praise for a body that is old, and wrinkly and full of stretch marks. All because I devoted my life to love and service in creating and sustaining life for his other children.

Thats the goal.....and through faith and endurance I believe we can all get there. 

I love you all! and of course...
I love you Daddy!

Here are the topics for the next 7 days... 

1. Let it go.
2. Accept yourself as you are.
3. Men and Women of Hawaii.
4. Exercise
5. Eating
6. Comparing
7. Replacing thoughts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Prince of Peace

I have neglected to make any new posts on this blog in the last several months as I am sure many of you have noticed. Sometimes I feel sad about that because I know that for many people reading my experiences and thoughts related to beauty and body image gives them hope in very private struggle that many keep within the chambers of their own hearts.  However, I have been battling my own demons in this area as pregnancy has brought on not only a whole new perspective on being a woman but also very real challenge in being able to peacefully live within a constantly changing body.

My pregnancy has not been easy, and I don't foresee it getting any easier within the next 18 days. 18 days!!!  (I can't wait to have that baby in my arms) Every woman has a different story, a different journey. Here is a glimpse of mine.

Some may wonder if me getting pregnant immediately after out wedding was a mistake, but it sure as heck was not! We both were very excited to have children. It has always been my dream to get prenant real fast after being married and honestly, even the ONE month I had to wait to take a pregnancy test was torture! I gained a new respect for women who struggle with infertility. The month can drag real slow anticipating that missed period.

Odd as this may sound, the night before I took the test I had a dream about man who asked me to go out with him.  Then that morning after seeing a clear plus sign on my test, I received a call from an unknown number.  The man was like "SHERRY!!! HOW ARE YOU! What are you doing Friday night??" I thought it was my husband playing a trick on me, so I was all "Chris stop! I am pregnant! Chris, no seriously I am pregnant!" Finally I told him I was going to hang up on him, and I did! I was a little upset that Chris did not take me seriously. Well, sure enough I found out when Chris got home from work that it was not him playing a trick on me. Weird. To this day I have no clue who that person was.

So at about 6 weeks I got horribly ill. To this day I honestly don't know how I endured the 10 weeks that followed. It was so bad, that even someone mentioning food, made me throw up. I basically lived on strawberries, skittles, cookies, and crackers. Our "honeymoon phase" after being newlyweds has not been so romantic. Our evening consisted of Christopher rubbing my back, flushing the toilet, and holding back my hair. Please excuse my graphicness, but many times the toilet would backlash at me and I would have throw up all over my face. Also, the strong convulsions would cause me to pee my pants. The positive part is that after throwing up, I always felt better, so after looking at the puddle on the floor and throw up on my face, I would usually just laugh at the ridiculousness of the scene, while cleaning myself up. I could go on and on about the stories during these 10 weeks, but I think you get the picture.

The saddest thing about all of this is that I was really scared of gaining lots of weight in my pregnancy and so when I could not eat or when I would throw up it was sometimes difficult for me to not be secretly happy about it. I am not proud of this.

Once the nausea subsided I said hello to my new friends--zits, swelling, back pain, pelvis pain,  sensitive teeth and gums, itching, stretch marks, urinary tract infections, heartburn, constipations along with its lovely hemorrhoid companions, and my darling polka dot legs. (I now have polka dot hands and arms) The doctor at first thought I might have a fungus on my skin that develops in tropical weather but after seeing a dermatologist, he confirmed that it is just from blood circulation. I also had an anginoma that I had to have removed twice. Thankfully it was benign. Finally, for some women enlarged breasts, may be a welcomed pregnancy guest, but not for me. If you are not sure how I feel, I suggest you tape two large ziplock bags packed with jello and pellets of lead to your torso and then go for a 10 k run.

It really bothers me how doctors will weigh you with every visit, yet they don't usually ask you about your diet or activity. I am nervous every time I step on that scale. I am not so much nervous about the number as what the number with trigger in my mind. I try so hard to keep healthy thoughts, but seeing that number hit 200 was not an easy pill to swallow and frankly it made me want to diet. I know all the professionals say to not diet while being pregnant, but I told them to screw off in mind, and I did. I did not do anything extreme or that would be harmful to the baby, but it was harmful to my mind to go back into feeling like I had to restrict and monitor everything I ate.

Here is the thing. After having a really good long talk with my husband last night, he helped me come to the conclusion, that it is NEVER a good thing to try to manipulate what your body looks like.

It is a very very hard thing to let go of, and I am in the process now of cleansing my mind of all of the desires to look a certain way.  I can just hear the justifications going on in your mind how trying to lose fat, or trying to be more toned is a good thing. I have been there, and I will tell you how those are some of the biggest lies you have ever believed and how they are ultimately hurting you and your loved ones.

I know it will take a while to convince you that I am not crazy to suggest such an idea, so I am going to break it up into a series of different blog entries. I will also keep you posted on how well I am doing with tossing out these old patterns of thought and replacing them with more noble ones. Ones that the world will not praise, but surely God will. This is especially important during pregnancy.  Like my husband said last night after I attempted to rip of his head off when he suggested that there is no point in me trying to lose weight. "Skinniness does not bring peace, God brings peace." It is time to let go of the illusion that being thin will bring peace to your life. Sure, you will get recognition and admiration from those around you when you lose weight, but who are we really here to please? I am confident in suggesting that when we stand before God at judgment day he will not put us on a scale, nor pull out his measuring tape or caliper. He will have many more important questions to ask us.  I am not suggesting that being thin, eating health or exercising is bad, but it is the motivation behind it all that can poison your soul and make Satan rejoice.  From the words of Isaiah...

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The PRINCE OF PEACE." Isaiah 9:

Tomorrow I will present an analogy that I have found helpful in order to wrap your mind around these concepts and I will also give you a breakdown of the what each new blog is going to cover. I hope you will join me on this journey! 

I love you Daddy!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Roar

Well, today I am roaring about a subject other than beauty that gets my blood pumpin.  I wrote this a couple weeks ago, and I think it is time to share. I believe this is a very serious problem in America, so I wrote it as my final paper for my American Heritage class.  I would love to hear your commentary.

Originally, I chose to focus this paper on the issues surrounding the American Healthcare reform, but this morning after stumbling upon an article on the CNN website, my mind was quickly changed. Rather than writing about healthcare, I would like to write about a problem that is, in my opinion, more threatening to American freedom than the issues of healthcare reform, or even gun control that are so heavily talked about as of late. Interestingly enough, it is an issue that I dare say most Americans are completely unaware of. I understand my boldness in bringing up this issue and that some Americans will be angered with my concerns. However, I feel this issue to be very important to be aware of and understood for all people, from all nations of the world. 

I have lived in the USA since 2007 and although I became keenly aware of this issue shortly after my arrival, I learned just as quickly that it is not something that is safe to talk about. This has upset me, particularly when America prides itself on freedom of speech. The harsh reality is that you are free to speak your opinion, but not without consequence. We see in the lives of Martin Luther King, an activist of the African- American civil rights movement; John F Kennedy, an American president; and Joseph Smith, the first Latter Day prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that freedom of speech and religion does not come without a price. All of these leaders were murdered in innocence in their own land for what they believed and stood for. 

I believe very strongly in what I am about to say, and have learned that it usually goes over poorly when I share my views with my American friends or even family. As a result, I have tried to remain quiet in an effort to not offend, but last night at my graduation commencement at Brigham Young University, one of the speakers challenged us to “be the change that you want to see in the world”. I believe that in writing this I am making my first attempt to make a change in wonderful country who is perhaps unaware of a weakness they have that could ultimately lead to its downfall. 

You may be wondering what CNN article would prompt me to finally speak up on this issue. It was an article on an Mexican- American athlete who after winning silver in the 1500 m track and field event at the 2012 Olympics in London, celebrated by waving the American Flag and the Mexican flag simultaneously. This CNN columnist, Ruben Navarette, was outraged at this act and shared his reasons for feeling so in his article, “U.S. Olympic athlete, Mexican flag?”, Aug 10, 2012. 

Navarette felt that Leo Manzano, the first american man to be on the Olympic podium for this event in 44 years, was egotistical in celebrating his victory as an individual and that his duty was to only represent the United States olympic team. Manzano, a man with citizenship in both Mexico and USA chose to celebrate his victory by waving the flags of the two countries that he loves, his home land and his adopted country. If he had only waved the Mexican flag, I could see why that would be a problem, but he waved both for indeed he represented both: he represented USA, by the jersey he chose to wear, and Mexico by the color of his skin and the language he speaks. Furthermore, being an immigrant myself, I feel that I understand this man. Just because America has adopted an individual does not mean that he must erase the love that he has in his heart for his native land in order to be true to America. 

This article was a good example of the fruits that come from the exclusive and elitest attitude of many Americans. I will never say all Americans, for this would not be true. I have met some Americans who are willing to listen to what I have to say and they do so with respect, interest and a genuine concern for the danger that these attitudes presents to the American people. However, the majority of my experience expressing my concerns, has left me feeling like a terrorist or that I will be blacklisted for being a communist. Hence why I have kept my concerns quiet for so long. 

So, what is the issue here exactly? The issue is the attitude of excessive pride that exists here. I am not talking about the type of pride you feel when your child takes his first steps or when you take a look at all of your grandchildren. I am talking about the pride that is comparative in nature. The “we are better than” and “you want to be us” attitude. 

I must admit, that I was very unaware of how strong this pride was until I moved here in 2007. Both my bother and sister lived in the USA serving missions for the LDS church, and I was sure when they came home that they would have fallen in love with the country they served in as most missionaries do. They were excited to go, unaware of what they would really be facing. Although both of my siblings loved the people they served, they share the same firm resolve to never live here again. This may be shocking for some Americans to hear, for it is quite opposite of what both the school system and the media teaches the young here both directly and indirectly. Directly Americans are taught that this is the greatest nation on the earth and the “American dream” is something that the rest of the world holds dear. Indirectly, other countries are not given a fair light and their differences are not taught or seen as strengths. 

To be honest, I had no idea what the American dream was until I got here. I was out for dinner with some friends and they asked me “Well, haven't you always wanted to be an American?” To be honest, I thought they were joking and so I laughed. They did not think that was funny. When I said an affirmative no, their jaws literally dropped and there was a moment of silence before one of them pleaded, “but it is the American dream?” To be honest, I had no idea what that meant. 

After doing 3 years of school here, I took a year off and went back home to Canada. I debating to never return because it made me cry and have anxiety to even think that I would have to come back and live here for one more year in order to graduate. To make a long story short, I fell in love with on my friends who still lived in America and I moved back for Him. Contemplating marriage was a scary thing for me for I knew it would most likely mean that I was here for good, but ultimately I decided that I loved Him more than I disliked living here. In sharing my concerns with him, I told him how hard it was that Americans think they are the greatest country in the world and they often put down other countries or compare themselves in order to make USA seem better. At first he disagreed with me and did not think that American did that. However, because I voiced my concerns his ears became more alert and now he knows exactly what I speak of. Three times in the past month I have heard Americans say “we are the greatest nation in the world.” The first was during a prayer to open the Spanish Fork Rodeo. The speaker literally thanked God for them being the greatest nation in the world. I must admit I opened my eyes in disgust hoping that someone else would have found that absurd, but I did not see a single person flinch. The second was by Barack Obama, the president himself. Finally, I heard an American Athlete say it on a commercial for the Olympics. Even if one had lived in every nation on this earth for long enough to get the big picture and truly understand the people, their values and heritage, I would not support their declaration of one country being greater than the other. The reality is that many Americans do not know much about the world, and so there is no real substance to such as statement of being the greatest country in the world. I talked with my friend from Scotland yesterday and she was asked by one of her University classmates where she learned to speak such great english. My other friend from Germany was also asked by a friend if they have cars in Germany. Cars? Germany? Really? Similarly my mother was asked by an american mother if we have microwaves in Canada. This is all very sad. Somewhere, somehow, the great people who live on this land are being uneducated or miseducated on the realities of this world and America’s place in it. 

The indirect portrayal of USA as the greatest nation in the world, is perhaps more prevalent but less obvious to detect. The media’s portrayal of the Olympics is a prime example. I have watched a fair amount of the 2012 olympic games here, and I was absolutely shocked at the end of the day to see how many medals China had. China and USA are what you can call neck and neck in the overall medal standings, but I am yet to see on television a chinese person win a medal or stand on the podium or hear their national anthem with pride. Another subtle but powerful way that American adopt this “we are the best” attitude comes from the angle of delivery that facts are taught in school. I have a difficult time in school here because the focus in school is to teach the students what to think, rather than how to think. I understand that it is difficult to teach history without a bias, but I feel that America could do a better job. In my opinion students should be taught the facts with the least amount of bias possible and allow them to form their own opinions. 

All of this is very alarming to me for I feel that this “we are the greatest” attitude puts America in great danger. In Canada we often hear of Americans who travel with Canada stickers or patches on their backpacks. They do this in order to avoid on the Anti-American resentment that is often encountered in many countries. This Anti-Americanism frightens me, and is one of the big reasons why I don’t want to live here. The reality is, however, that I do live here, and I have chosen to do so knowing that much of the world does not like the USA. Instead of running away from the issue I choosing to face it by “being the change that I want to see in the world”. It is important for Americans to understand that countries of the world do not feel warm loving sentiments towards America when Americans consider themselves better or feel it is their God given duty to pressure them to be more like America. This attitude will create enemies even in ones personal life such as interpersonal relationships at school or at work. Would you want to be friends with someone who thought they were better than you? The relationships between nations is no different. 

What makes one country better than another anyway? The problem is that what America values most is not necessarily what other countries value and that is hard for Americans to understand. For example, Canada has been made fun of for the size of our military. This is not necessary, for if it was our priority to prepare for and declare wars, be would probably put our tax money into the military too. According to Wikipedia’s report on the nations military expenditures, the USA spends 711 billion dollars yearly on the military. China spends the next highest, but not even come close to the USA spending only 228 billion each year. If a countries greatness is based on the money it spends preparing for war, then I guess USA is better than Canada and every other country in the world, winning by a long stretch. 

This is all very alarming to me that although USA is a leader in business, the military, research, and sports these areas are not what many countries chose to invest their time, means and energy into. A country may be poor monetarily but have rich communities who take care of each other and who value people more than money and things. It is frustrating to see a country that is highly materialistic, and often unsatisfied claim themselves better than another because of money, education and status. 

Then to make matters worse, they feel the responsibility to pressure other countries to adopt their value system. In fact, I was asked by my university on a final exam to respond in long answer as to how we could convince the eastern muslims to become more westernized. I don’t think I got a good grade on that question, because frankly, I did not respond to the question. I criticized the question instead and suggested that before we go start trying to change the middle east we should first focus on ourselves and our problems. In my opinion the middle east will always resists the western world if we continue to flaunt our women around in magazine and on the internet with nil to no clothing on or glamorize marital infidelity on television and in hollywood. We judge them harshly for executing or stoning a woman who is guilty of adultery and yet in American we kill thousands of innocent babies ever day, many for mere convenience. 

As a Christian who lives in a country founded upon Christianity I think it is imperative that the world stops competing as nations, and starts to work together as people. We are all God’s children. We are all equal in worth and so are the nations that we live on. We are all needed in this world, both nations and people. I believe that God was involved in creating and supports the American constitution and that America has many strengths that the world has and does look up to. I also believe that God was and is involved in the creation of every nation and people and that every nation and people has strengths that the world should look up to and seek to emulate. Our responsibility as citizens, not of our nations, but as brothers and sisters in this world is to learn about each other, try to understand each other and respect each other for our differences instead of using them as a means to prop ourselves up on the idolist and fictitious greatness scale. Democracy, is not God’s way and communism or socialism is not Satan’s way. Throughout God’s Holy Scriptures we see records of God’s people in various types of government. I believe God cares less about the type of government, economy or religion that a country chooses to follow and more about the happiness and moral standing of his children. It is true, that a democracy does a better job of preserving freedom because its fate lies on the will of all people as opposed to just one, but I would rather live in a country with a righteous king that welcomes me into his country as a equal than a democratic country whose people see me as less than. I am trying to practice what I preach and learn to truly love America. I am doing this by trying to understand these people and why they act and think the way they do. I feel that the hearts and intents of Americans are good. Therefore, I hope that in writing this they may become more aware of what their comparative attitude is doing to the hearts of their brothers and sisters in the world who truly love their own countries and their own ways of life. 

In conclusion, the color of our skin, the way we talk, what we choose to eat or do with our spare time are only outward symbols of what a people really are. It can be hard to understand the why of other nations because all we see is the outward symbols of their values and more often than not, they differ from our own. Americans would be wise to give more credit to other nations in the world and look to them as a guide to find solutions to their own issues such as education, health care, or reinstating family values. Most importantly it is imperative that Americans recognize that each country has different strengths and weaknesses and that no country is or ever will be better than another. In doing so, the consequences that would follow are renewed national strength and hope in solving the issues we face today, it would also help other countries to feel more needed and important as they are encouraged to play a more significant role in improving our world even though it is not monetarily. Lastly, it would improve the sentiments that people of the world feel towards America, preventing future terrorist attacks and even wars. This is my plea, hate me or love me for sharing, but time is precious and I could not remain silent any longer.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I am back!!!

Hey guys!!

So, it has been a long time since I blogged and I promise I have legitimate reasons! Well first of all, I got married! yippee! Then, we went on a lovely honeymoon cruise to mexico. After that, we had to move and get settled. Sheesh. I feel rusty. I have not wrote in a long time and I feel like I don't even know how to punctuate properly! (not that I ever did know how :P ) The hardest part is that we did not have the internet, and Christopher and I are not up with the jones and don't have smart phones!

Needless to has not been convenient to blog.  I am back though and I have lots of new exciting ideas that I hope you will all enjoy following. I feel like I have got my negative ranting out and I am ready to start making a real difference in encouraging others to start making positive changes in their lives.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back!