Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sewing My Red Tent

This post is definitely going to mention menstruation.  You have been warned.

First of all, any woman who hasn't read The Red Tent yet really should read it.  The part I want to take out of it is the portrayal of the tent in which women had to stay (we're talking Biblical times here, as well as some rules that carried over into Orthodox Judaism) while menstruating or giving birth because they were "unclean".  The author paints a picture of a tent full of women sharing wisdom, secrets, and rituals.  There is magic and love, bickering and gossip, life and death--you know, the basic life of a woman.
So as I came off my period last week, I started to think about my own red tent.  Mine is a virtual tent at the moment, with women coming and going, sharing wisdom and gossip, the mundane and the holy.  I've gathered precious friends, old and new, to join me in my tent when I am in need of support and when I have my own hard-won bits of wisdom to share.  The most common visitors these days are Buzzy, Bitsy, and Chihuahua.

Buzzy has the most in common with my life situation, even though she lives a million miles away.    Her grounded common sense balances my flighty and emotional nature, and I like to think that I sometimes help her find magic in the world.  She is strong, stable, and will talk about ANYTHING with me.  And I mean anything. There are sacred things shared in my tent, and intimate details of love and partnership are exchanged. Sometimes I truly love technology--I would not have met her if we had lived 100 years ago.  I love her.

Bitsy lives in a magical place, surrounded by all sorts of women who pass her love and knowledge, which she is kind enough to pass to me.  We have both been alive for the same amount of time, but the pains of her labors have been mighty.  She has found peace for which I strive, and joyfully shares it with me.  She joins me in my flights of fancy, adding her own creative flair and artistry.  Bitsy spends her days healing and caring for people, not thinking of her own troubles before she has lifted a friend or family member.  I am humbled by her dedication to love and willingness to grow while being lashed by storms.  I love her.

Chihuahua shares a long history with me.  We have both grown in similar ways, learning to love more and defend less.  I was there when she lost her first baby, and she packed up her babies and left hearth and home to be with me when I lost mine.  We lived together for four years, supporting each other, bickering with each other, cooking and shopping together, and quietly loving each other fiercely underneath any disapproval or irritation.  We live near each other again, after years apart, because we really do belong in the same tent.  We might disagree vehemently, but if an outsider attacks, the claws come out and we stand as one.  She has become a sister to me, with all the ups and downs that come with family.  I love her.

It is vital for women to have a circle of sisters, friends, or soul mates.  The connections can be loud, quiet, strong, old, new; survival of woman requires them.  While I would love to be able to retreat to a hut or tent while I am menstruating and hormonal, I know the arms of my sisters are open to catch me when I run into them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great Stuff From Other People!

This lady hits the nail on the head with her thoughts on the church's romantic paternalism.  I'm pretty sure this goes on in other churches, as well.  Our culture is not nearly so egalitarian as we would like to believe sometimes.

A good collection of thoughts on the priesthood ban that was lifted in 1979 (1978? why can't I remember? And why am I too lazy to look it up?)

That's it for today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Some clarification on the new hole in my face

This. Is not me.  Though I'm sure some people think I'm headed down this road now.

Here is a short list of reasons why I just pierced my nose.  I'm about to turn 30, and I have no business in a piercing parlor like some rebellious teenager.  So here we go:

1.  A stud in my nose makes me surprisingly more accessible.  At least, I feel more accessible--which technically will change my behavior enough for other people to notice and feel more comfortable talking to me. People who would not have been comfortable talking to me casually because of my age or bland clothing or the carseat in the back of my car, can see that I'm just slightly in the black sheep fold and perhaps some cultural barriers can fall.  This is my plan, anyway.  The other option is that kids think I'm stupid because, well, I'm not a rebellious teenager with pink hair.  We'll just vote for the first half of the plan.

2.  I had to kill Molly Mormon.  I had to break that attachment to and obsession with Mormon culture that led to so much guilt and fear.  In the words of a dear friend, I had to "let what is holy be holy, and let what is mundane be mundane."  Too much of my life I spent caught up in the mundane, giving it space on the holy shelf.  So much time was wasted that actual holy things almost didn't fit in my life.  I focused on the outer things like the cut of my clothing or the age I got married.  My sense of worth was tied to the level of 'modesty' of my clothing, the level of shining star returned missionary whose hand I was holding, the clocked time I spent on my knees, how many children I could push out before I hit 30, and the clean and organized atmosphere of my home, complete with walls saturated with pictures ordered from Deseret Book.
My sense of worth went down the toilet so, so, so, many times.  On the outside, I was trying to conform to the Molly Mormon image, because I thought it would bring happiness, just like all the stories in the Young Women's manuals.  On the inside, I contemplated suicide many times, and got close to actually following through several times.
Piercing my nose was enough to make that necessary break, and to free myself.

3.  My clothes are boring.  I can't afford to dress to fit my personality--I don't have the time or inclination to put in the effort that would take, and I don't have the money.  I have a little smug self-satisfaction now because I know that at least a little of my personality is shining through--why, yes. Yes I am different from you, Sister.
I doubt anyone at school will ever care or even notice, but I sure will be making a statement in my ward on Sunday... :)
And if anyone in my family actually takes the time to read my blog.. surprise! hehehehe

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Die, Molly! Die!

Ok, I'm not really that intense.  But seriously--is there a way to kill an unhealthy piece of culture?

Here ya go, family! I spent all day in the kitchen, without mussing my hair or makeup.

 Yesterday I went out and did something that was traumatically painful--I wasn't expecting it to be so painful, because in the world at large, it's almost entirely insignificant.  No one from my weekday life cares, and hardly anyone noticed.  But I've been feeling a giant break inside myself.  I feel like I cut off a diseased limb, but I miss that limb.  I've been living with that limb since I was born, and it's been reinforced as a vital part of my makeup by everyone around me.
That little piece of culture has been preached over many a pulpit and in many classes full of young women eager to prove their worth based on the guidelines they're given.  Going against the grain on this one is a sort of declaration-to myself, and to other church members: I am not a Molly Mormon.  I do not sew; I love to cook, but it's organic, not bulk crap food from the food storage centers; I do not drink Tang; I go barefoot as much as possible; I have friends who identify as gay and lesbian; I believe in evolution sometimes; I am a feminist; I hug trees; I do 'weird' Pagan rituals that involve lighting candles and thinking about (GASP) Goddess; I plan on working at least part time, and it might even be outside the home, and it won't necessarily be because I have to; I talk to my Heavenly Mother just as much as I talk to my Father; I question things, and I use my intellect on purpose; and now I have the cutest ever pierced nose.

Tonight I'll be burning Molly in effigy, and saying a ritual goodbye to: unnecessary guilt, self-loathing, perfectionism, judging people based on appearance and expecting them to conform when they join the church (Acts 15, anyone?), and the layers and layers of fear deeply instilled in my soul by well-meaning teachers and parents.

So yeah. Go ahead and die, Molly.  Rest in peace.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: it only hurts a little bit (now...), the swelling is on the inside, I'm taking very good care of it, snot will not come out the hole if I get a cold, sometimes it pokes when I rub my nose but I hardly notice, it won't get infected and make my nose fall off.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A mundane sort of post about losing weight

Tips on Losing Weight Fast

I do not do well with schedules.  I'm one of those people who will follow a diet and exercise program rigorously, to the point of obsession, for about a week.  Maybe two.  Then I start to reward myself for doing so well.  Not that food is a reward, really.  It should be about survival.  I WANT it to be about survival.  I do like to enjoy what I eat, but my new mindset needs to be that it is fuel.  
I've considered a juice fast, but I'm not entirely sure what I did with my juicer.  Also, I think that would go terribly.  I like to chew things.  That's what teeth are for.
Here's my new idea (my new AWESOME idea): I am going to write down everything I ought to be doing onto slips of paper.  I will then put those papers into a hat and mix them up and pull one out every morning.  I will only do one thing each day, but I will do it WELL.  I'll have an exercise pile, and a food pile.

Some examples:
no sugar today
no sugar including fruit today--add more veggies
no carbs today
green smoothie for breakfast today--heavy on the 'green'

p90x cardio video today
40 minutes of laps in the pool today
1 yoga session today
walk to classes today instead of taking a bike, take the long way
no internet except for schoolwork today

If something really doesn't work with the day's schedule, I'll just put it back and pull out a different one.  I think it may work, because it's so unpredictable.

Any suggestions on things to add to my hat?  Any ideas for a ritual/spell I can create to stay focused?

starting weight: 182 lbs

Quote of the Day

screenshot from The Stepford Wives

"For three-fourths of my life I felt threatened to the core because I hated to sew. Now, I can sew; if it is absolutely necessary, I will sew—but I hate it. Can you imagine my burden over the last twenty-five or thirty years, “faking it” in Relief Society sessions and trying to smile when six little girls walk into church all pinafored and laced and ribboned and petticoated—in identical, hand-sewn dresses, all trooping ahead of their mother, who has a similar outfit? I don’t necessarily consider my attitude virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, but I’m honest in my antipathy toward sewing. Obviously the Lord has created us with different personalities, as well as differing degrees of energy, interest, health, talent, and opportunity. So long as we are committed to righteousness and living a life of faithful devotion, we should celebrate these divine differences, knowing they are a gift from God. We must not feel so frightened, so threatened and insecure; we must not need to find exact replicas of ourselves in order to feel validated as women of worth. There are many things over which we can be divided, but one thing is needful for our unity—the empathy and compassion of the living Son of God."
--Sister Patricia Holland

I love this.  For years I've told myself how much I want the life that Mormon culture threw at me as ideal: birth 3 million children, make all their clothes, cook everything from scratch, budget on a shoestring, be a compassionate angel neighbor and community missionary.

Yeah.  Not so much.  But it's ok. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Out of the Broom Closet

I find myself wondering what people think of me now.  Yesterday's post on the magic of faith was the first post I've ever shared on facebook and google+.  While I did filter out one specific viewer (for the sake of the sanity of my family), it was open to the rest of my world.  I read and reread it, trying to see if it sounded ridiculous or over the top.  And I really don't think it does.  I think my logic is sound, and the psychology and science behind it is reassuring to the intellectual side of myself.
It may cause concern among family members and/or friends, but I also feel so much freer.  I'm not hiding half of myself anymore (except to one person haha), and it's a huge burden lifted.
I hope that my contributions to conservative groups and circles aren't viewed with suspicion now.  I write and speak for the audience I'm addressing.  It in no way implies that I don't fully believe the views I espouse.  I'm far too rigid on that kind of integrity to ever feel okay with faking it in front of even people I care about deeply. I've been open with doubts, struggles, and cognitive dissonance.  And I've also been open with epiphanies and spiritual understanding.

So. I'm out of the broom closet (is it narcissistic of me to assume people noticed? lol), and look! I'm still me!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Magic of Faith

Moon  Night Sky

Two nights ago I lit ritual candles and drank milk out of a special cup.  I meditated on angels and
stars.  I spent hours talking to friends close enough to me to be called a coven, as we designed rituals to bond us and use our energy for mutual benefit.
Two nights ago, I got on my knees and prayed for each of my coven sisters by name for help in supporting them in specific trials they are facing.  It wasn’t a whiny prayer or a begging prayer, but a solid prayer of faith and expectation of help.  I prayed in the name of Christ, and imagined my Brother kneeling next to me with His arm around my shoulders, approving my words and desires.

Two nights ago, I acted as a Pagan Christian.                       

Many Christians cannot reconcile the two paths I tread.  They don’t see how I need the extra ritual and mysticism to bring my mind and spirit to holy places.
Many Pagans shun Christianity because of the guilt-saturated traditions and the strict moral codes that they feel are harmful.

Here’s one way I make this work: prayer.  There are piles and piles of articles and books on the law of attraction—how to make it work and make all your dreams come true.  And there are piles and piles of spells and rituals that involve sending your will into the universe.   I certainly believe in that, and I believe that anyone can get anything they desire on this earth.  But that’s only half the story.

There are scriptures that explain you only need ask for something and believe that you’ll receive it, in the name of Christ, and it shall be given you.  How many Christians can actually pray with that kind of faith?  Too many of us shoulder unnecessary guilt or over-indulge in appropriate guilt.  We feel unworthy, blemished, imperfect, unlovable.  Our prayers are begging and pleading for things while deep down we don’t truly believe we’ll ever get what we ask for.  I've been that way, myself.  I don’t want to be that person anymore, and Pagan rituals are strengthening my Christian faith.

My prayers are mostly short: I ask for guidance in my path, I express my deep gratitude for the blessings that never cease, and then I’m done.  Throughout my day, I expect that guidance because I know my Heavenly Parents love me and want me to be happy.  You could say I have a prayer always in my heart.  Then I’ll do rituals that involve lighting candles and feeling the strength of my power and will to create something or heal someone.  I hug trees and find stillness in nature to quiet my mind so that it’s open to divine influence.  Then I go and do the work I feel pulled to do—whether it’s schoolwork, playing with Sprout, making feminist comments at church, writing she scriptures, or talking for ridiculous amounts of time to a coven member when she is in crisis.

So here is my testimony: Jesus is my Savior and Redeemer.  God and Goddess are my Parents, and they both want to hear from me.  The earth has a spirit, as does everything upon it.  There is a life force and energy that we have the power to manipulate, and the responsibility to manipulate with caution, generosity, Divine guidance, and courage.  We are all connected, and loving the weirdos and freaks; the gays and homophobes; the socially inept and the smooth politician; and your family, warts and all, is the only way to find the path to true happiness, whatever your religion.
These are the things I believe, and strive to live in accordance with.

Blessed be.

Tranquil Beach