Saturday, December 14, 2013

"You could be a model!"

Sometimes I hear people say "you could be a model" as though that's the highest compliment or the ultimate aspiration. I know these people mean to compliment and obviously mean no offense, but rather than envying models, truthfully, I feel sorry for them.

I feel sorry for anyone who constantly worries about their physical appearance, not just because they want to look and feel good (like everyone does), but because their livelihood and value relies on how they look. How unhealthy that would be for your psyche! No thank you!

I also feel sorry for those who are confident and carefree now, only because of their appearance, because that will fade eventually, and what then? What kind of emptiness will they feel? I heard recently that the majority of women would rather be pretty than smart. Sad. I feel sorry for those who want to attain a model body over an educated mind, and I feel sorry for anyone who thinks that models are more admirable than scientists, teachers, writers, or moms.

Our world needs models, but it blows my mind to see young women clamber for the chance to become a model and subject themselves to criticism of their outward appearance! I would never allow that. I just don't get it.

Here's a Ted Talk by model Cameron Russell delving into the topic. Enjoy hearing about her experience with the modeling industry from her own mouth.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

David Archuleta with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir | The Cat and the Mouse

I watched this performance the other day and almost cried. This tune is gorgeous (I've never heard it before) and David performed it perfectly. I don't know how he didn't cry himself! Just as you think it's going to end, it becomes soft and sweet and then powerful and strong and finishes with you feeling uplifted and satisfied. Just magnificent.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

D. Todd Christofferson - The Moral Force of Women

Okay, so I've been holding onto this for weeks, knowing that I wanted to put it on here but wondering how I could possibly talk about it in a way that would reflect how much I adore it. Honestly, I don't think I can. It's like everything I've been thinking about regarding women tied up in a perfect, neat, and lovely little bow.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys

Oh my gosh. I'm in love with the banjo. And these boys. And their talent. And bluegrass.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Story about Charity

I read this last night. It's a beautiful story and a good reminder of how we should be thinking and acting towards others. Read it; it's not very long, but very uplifting!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Les Miserables, The Movie

I have a lot of favorite movies, but this is definitely one of my most favorited of favorites. The first time I watched it, I was not aware that it would be entirely sung, and I had no clue how emotional it was going to be. Because I didn't know what to expect, I wasn't too sure how I felt about it afterward.
I watched it again for the second time the other day, and this time knowing what to expect, I was absolutely thrilled with the movie. Had I had less control, I would've cried the entire (almost) three hours. Anne Hathaway surprised me with her chilling and heartbreaking solo. Hugh Jackman astounded me with his beautiful and may I say perfect portrayal of Jean Valjean. Russell Crowe was stiff and stoic, but that's who his character is. Eddie Redmayne's voice is a dream. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but if you want to really feel raw human emotioneverything from unrequited love to complete desperation, to loss, victory, honor, guilt, and selflessness, this movie will do it for you. I'm kind of obsessed.

Dare I say that this movie is perfectly cast, perfectly directed, and perfectly executed? I dare.

(I really ought to read the book!)

A Note on Modesty

As a young woman, I've heard a lot about modesty since I was around 12 years old. Unfortunately, one of the most prominent messages I've received is that I need to keep my hemlines and necklines a certain length in order to help young men keep their thoughts and actions clean. This is no reason to be modest, and in fact, the more I've thought and read about it, the more offensive I find this attitude. The conclusion I've come to is that this ignorant, demeaning look at modesty has permeated our society long enough. It's time we really think through the message we're sending to people in the name of something as lovely and pure as modesty.

We need to start teaching our young people (and not just women, mind you) about true modesty, of which dress is only a part. (See this article for more on that) And we need to start teaching our young men that they are not victims—that they live in a world full of pornography; it's pretty awful, no doubt, but we need to learn how to deal with it. They will likely face inappropriately dressed females on a regular basis, and regardless of how a woman dresses, she still deserves to be treated like a human being and never like an object, as the father explains in this blog post entitled Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son. (I encourage everyone to read this post.)

But the widely accepted view of modesty is not like this man's. One part of this prevailing attitude is that it implies that men are incapable of controlling their thoughts and actions. Men, I can't imagine that any of you are happy that we all assume you have no control over yourselves! How does it make you feel that we imply that you have no choice but to think and act like an animal? That you are a victim? That you cannot control your thoughts when faced with an immodestly dressed woman? It's kind of offensive, right? It's very offensive! Plus it's justifying and enabling bad behavior! I know you are in control. No matter how a woman dresses, you can treat a woman well and keep your thoughts clean. Perhaps sometimes this takes very deliberate effort, but the bottom line is God gave you agency.

Now I'm going to say something obvious, that actually doesn't seem as obvious as it should: women are not sex objects. We are people. We eat, sleep, work, study, have fun with friends, act silly, play sports, and go to the beach too, and we deserve to feel comfortable in all aspects of life without the burden of making sure all the right areas of skin are perfectly covered at all times. Just because we have bodies that have boobs and hips and butts doesn't mean we're always trying to get attention with them, and it doesn't mean we should hide those features either. We should love our bodies! Bodies are not just sexual; they are practical, functional, and miraculous. We should not be shamed into covering them up because of the ignorant and demeaning argument that a man can't help his sexual thoughts and feelings. Modesty is so much more than that. And our souls are so much more than what we wear.

How can we discuss modesty without bringing up the fact that when it comes to clothing, there's a double standard? Women are given strict rules on what not to wear, and what of men? From the female perspective, this really isn't fair. It's simply not fair to put the burden of keeping one's thoughts clean and pure on another person. So what effect does our current attitude toward modesty have on us? Women get the daily challenge of wearing the right thing and risking judgment every time we leave the house. Men and women alike are given the right to judge and blame women who do not meet their expectations of modesty. Again, unfair.

Now, before I get into other things, I just want to mention this as well—another thing to think about. Women get two drastically different messages regarding the body. One is from the world telling us that we are worth nothing unless we are physically beautiful and flaunt it, and that we can only get attention by using our bodies. Sure, it sounds a little over-the-top, but think about it. The next time you watch a sitcom, reality show, or listen to the radio, really listen to what they say. Listen to jokes. Absorb the attitudes and ideas expressed and think about them. You'll see what I mean if you don't already. The other message is from those touting modesty in the wrong way—they tell us that our bodies are sinful, that we should not show them off in any way—that in fact we should hide them so as not to disturb our fellow males. Both messages are exceedingly false. We should not be afraid of our bodies. Our bodies are not terrible, wicked, sinful things; neither are they everything important in the world. They are beautiful gifts from God given to us to house our spirits!

Sadly, despite the miracle that is human anatomy, women especially are taught in our society to hate our bodies. We see "perfect" women on TV all the time. They are skinny, toned, tan, perfectly dressed, and perfectly put together. We (men and women alike) idolize them! And what we forget is that they're PAID to look like that! They need to keep themselves in tip-top shape to be successful in that arena. The average person, however, lives a life where we can't spend all day working out with personal trainers, eating right, and taking care of ourselves on that level. Thus, we feel we don't measure up, and we complain about our bodies to each other all the time. We say we're too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too busty, not busty enough, have too big of hips or butt, or nose. We talk about how we hate our hair, our complexion, our acne, our ankles. We demean our own bodies constantly. Is this how our Heavenly Father would have us look at our bodies? Do you think He'd want us to idolize them either? I don't think so. Do we want to perpetuate either of these attitudes to our daughters?  Please, please say no. Can you imagine the healthy confidence your future daughter would have if you set a good example and never complained about your body and only mentioned how grateful you are that you have one, that it can help you work, reach goals, play sports, learn, and so much more? I hope that someday women will not allow others to make them feel uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed of their bodies.

We need to remember that each and every person is a child of God. Our spirits are invaluable. Our potential is unimaginable. This INCLUDES women who dress in short skirts, tank tops, high-slit dresses, bikinis, or low-cut blouses. In fact, if we really thought this through we'd realize that the women who dress this way are often the very women who would benefit the most from love and kindness and positive attention. The last thing these women need is to be shunned or used. Especially when it comes to young teenage girls, please do not ignore or shun them for dressing immodestly. Likely, they are feeling beautiful for the first time in their lives. They like boys. They want to be attractive to them. Help them and teach them to go about it in the right way. Love them no matter what they wear.

But back to my point. The way a man chooses to see a woman is exactly that: his choice. And yes, it may take a little training to get that message across to young men because the world is constantly teaching men, in often very subtle ways, that women are objects to look at, lust after, and use rather than people to talk to, love, and laugh with. It is not the responsibility of a woman to keep a man from objectifying and using her. It is his responsibility, and his alone. One person's impure or sinful thoughts or actions are NEVER the fault of another. Have I said that enough?

Now after saying all this, I want you to know that I'm not saying that we shouldn't dress modestly. I'm a strong supporter of modest dress. I'm also a supporter of modest actions and modest living. What I am saying is that modesty is a subject far deeper than the v-neck on a woman's blouse, and we should stop perpetuating these incorrect notions about who is to blame when it comes to inappropriate sexual thoughts and actions. Women should not be dressing to get lots of attention or to seduce a man—that is definitely true—but everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves; it is ultimately a man's responsibility to keep himself pure.

Modesty, to me, is really more of a way of living. A modest person is not prideful, does not seek for praise, does not boast, does not put others down, is selfless, is kind, and does all of these things without seeking out praise and adulation. A modest person does not care for the superficial and fickle approval of men. A modest person seeks to help others for the right reasons. We should dress our bodies modestly for the right reasons as well.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Standardized Tests

Oh yes, standardized tests. I took them every year in Texas growing up, and though I've always done well on them, I've always despised them. Here's why as explained as succinctly as it can be, which simply made my day. This is from the book Gross National Happiness by Arthur C. Brooks.

The purpose of administering them, at least originally, was to see whether schools were providing an adequate education to the majority of their students. When the students at a particular school perform poorly, on average, the school faces sanctionsthus the teachers have incentives to "teach to the test," focusing on preparing students to take the test instead of teaching the content the test is supposed to measure.

In essence, the purpose of standardized tests is completely undermined by the resulting responses from administrators and teachers to improve scores. So even though standardized tests are implemented with good intentions to improve education, they actually have the opposite effect.

I watched this happen in my own schools.

I remember my freshman year English class, we spent countless days taking practice exams for the TAKS test. I hated that class. Besides it being unproductive and time-wasting, that kind of "learning" took all the fun out of education. I knew I wasn't absorbing anything useful or enlightening in that class. It was dull and monotonous to everyone, including the teacher, and so all joy of learning was sucked out of us. Standardized tests are probably the very reason I detested English so much, however good I was at it. I only learned to love English in collegeafter standardized tests no longer loomed over my teachers' heads and I was free to learn and therefore free to love to learn. In fact, my passion for English blossomed in college, and I ended up graduating with a major in English language and a minor in editing; I currently work as an editor.

Perhaps someday the gross irony we call standarized testing will be ripped away from our public schools. Until then, I suppose we can only do our best to nurture a love of learning in our children and teach them that intelligence and success is not defined by a test score.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Do you have relationships in which you feel taken advantage of? Do you feel resentful at times? Do you ever regret agreeing to things? Do you have long-time friends or family members who push your buttons, sometimes in ways you don't quite understand and have never confronted? Do you feel like all you do is give while others take from you? Do you need some of these relationships to change in your life?

You need to read Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

I finally finished it. Every chapter has something wonderful in it that helps you analyze and understand your own feelings in relationships and how to better those relationships, whether with a spouse, a child, a friend, a fellow church-goer, or a co-worker. Boundaries create the environment for healthy relationships and the opportunity for you to take responsibility for your own life. It also gives you the confidence to say no when you need to.

Trust me, it's worth the read!

Steam Powered Giraffe - Honeybee

I first saw this a week or two ago, and I thought it was super weird, but I liked the song and bought it. It's really grown on me, and I actually have come to love the music video too. Its robotic, steampunk-y mesmerizing, animatronic, pantomimey, melodic, tender wonderfulness just got to me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm a Hooman

This meme has had me laughing every day for the past several days. So. Stupid. So. Funny.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sara Bareilles - Stay

I happened to look at my top 25 most played songs today, and this one, unknown to me, was at the top of the list by far. I guess it's not too surprising. It's full of emotion and beautyI got it over a year ago and it's still a favorite of mine.

This woman is a true singer, and I can't wait for her new album, which comes out TOMORROW!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Zac Brown Band | Chicken Fried

I hope you're having a good Memorial Day!

I thank God for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring.
Salute the ones who died
The ones that give their lives
So we don't have to sacrifice
All the things we love

Monday, May 13, 2013

Harry Connick Jr.

So, recently I watched the movie New in Town...twice.... And it got me on YouTube searching for Harry's music. I ended up really impressed with him in more than one way. He's humble and kind and funny and chill and he's a great dad and husband. And? He can do this.

Plus, he has a sultry, jazzy, lovely voice. Overall, I am a fan of the guy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sara Bareilles - Brave

Sara Bareilles is my favorite artist if you haven't figured that out from all my Sara-loving posts. She came out with this single recently, and I think it's fun, bold, inspiring, and just altogether wonderful. Check it out, friends!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Bad gets on the news and the Good is quiet.

Today was a horrific day for Boston and another reminder of the fragility and vulnerability of human life. All afternoon at work, I listened to live news as it began to sink in what happened. It was sickening. Who in the world would cause something so truly terrible? It's the question we always ask ourselves, isn't it? It's simply unbelievable and quite discouraging to see events like this occurring with more and more frequency.

But then as I see footage of people running toward where the blast occurred and tearing down fences in order to help wounded strangers, I remember that for every evildoer who cunningly executes hateful acts on others, there are a million good people wanting to help and make a difference, who love and care for their neighbor, who silently go around helping others, even if in the slightest of ways on a daily basisnot just when tragedy hits. And when tragedy does hit, that goodness is exponentially amplified. Click here for just a fraction of the tenderness and generosity that I'm sure has happened in that city today.

I still believe in us. I believe in the goodness of humanity, and I will not let this tragedy mar that belief.

Sending love to anyone affected.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day! And in case you were wondering what to get me for this auspicious holiday, you'd definitely be safe getting me my favorite chocolate. See below.


Sunday, February 3, 2013


If you've seen Wreck-It Ralph or if you've been on Facebook lately, chances are you've already seen this short film by Disney, but on the off chance that you haven't been able to watch it yet, you better make some time. This is my favorite short ever.

I love its simplicity. It shows how well you can tell a story with no colors (other than a tiny bit of red) and no words at all.