I fasted for 24 hours the first time when I was 14. Now I do it monthly for purely spiritual reasons. I receive spiritual strength and blessings when I fast. I donate the money that would have been spent on food to those who need financial help. I like the way I feel when I fast. Well, I don't like the hunger pangs. I do like the feeling of self-control and thoughts of I-can-do-hard-things. Every month I am reminded that food should be a pleasurable event, not a stuff-it-in-the-face-'cause-it's-there habit. I promptly forget the reminder but, as the saying goes, "It's the thought that counts" ... or was it, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Well, it's coming up to the time I fast and this month I have another reason to fast. I was listening to NPR and heard a great report on the health benefits of fasting. It can reduce cravings for sugar (not enough for me), reduce disease including cancer, can protect against brain problems like Alzheimer's, and even extend life. You know how yoga or, dare I say it, exercise can make you feel really great? Well, I think (and science agrees with me) that fasting can do the same thing for you. 


Women's Suffrage

Heaven help us.

Check out this video.


The Role of Women

I was speaking with a good friend a few days ago. She is my age, the mother of two, and living far from home while her husband goes to school. I am my age (obviously), a graduate with a master's degree, and building a career. She lives her dream -- motherhood -- and I live the dream I just realized I had. My job is really great. I love it. I get to work with teen boys (which, I realize, is not a universal dream) and their families to help them all be happier, "well adjusted," interdependent, insert other therapuetic words here. Every night since I graduated I thank God for how well my life is going, ups and downs and all, because it really rocks.

My friend and I began discussing the recent General Conference from a few months back and about Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society president, and her talk entitled "Mother's Who Know." There was quite a hoop-lah (technical term) over this talk. Maybe some of the controversial statements were: "Mothers who know desire to bear children." "Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world." Or "They [mothers who know] do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most." I guess some folks weren't thrilled with the idea of women's greatest achievements happening at a home.

I told my friend that I had reread the talk and couldn't find anything to be all up in arms about. "And anyway," I told her, " if I didn't agree with something, I would just shut up and work through it because she isn't giving out her own agenda." But some folks (apparently on the Deseret Book website somewhere) thought it right to throw a fit. Then my friend asked me a very interesting question. Interesting because this friend knows me. She knows that as a kid I never said I wanted to be a mom, let alone a stay-at-home mom. She asked me, "If you were married right now with kids would you be working?" The answer came easily. "No."

Society, or Satan -- same difference, has fed women a message, propaganda that says this "Homemaking is below you. Homemaking is for stupid people. Homemaking is a waste of a college education. Homemaking is monotonous (this could turn out to be slightly valid)." Saying you are a homemaker is on the same level as "You throw like a girl." Well, are you implying that there is something wrong with throwing like a girl? Homemaker is now almost a degrading phrase. And that's the false message.

The more I work with families the more I am convinced of parents' role in their children's success. I am not a parent but I give a lot of advice and model discipline techniques. The kids I work with could be tomorrow's inmates and a lot of it is due to faulty parenting (by really well-meaning parents) and some genetic oddities. My education and career (regardless of area of expertise) are building my ability to be a great mom. Education only enhances homemaking ability. In fact, children in developing countries are far more like to reach adulthood and themselves be educated if their mother (nothing to do with dad) was literate.

I didn't always have "mom" at the top of the what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up list, but it's there now. I know the term homemaking has been tampered with and I can see it for what it really is. My right. My calling. My purpose.



Sometimes I choose to forget about starving people in Africa, and Asia, and even in South Provo. I mean, I really don't feel the effects. They are entirely forgettable. And except for international communications, I would be ignorant to their plights. But I do try to help "causes" whenever I can because it's right, and because it is entirely possible that someday I may be a "cause." So I buy pink for Breast Cancer, I bought the disabled Haitian orphans' Christmas cards, I donated some cans of food, etc. And today I tested my knowledge for charity. At freerice.com, you find synonyms to words. And for every word you get right the site will donate 10 grains of rice. I don't know how many grains make up a bowl. In five minutes I had 400 grains of rice. I wanted to keep going -- "just one more word" -- but I knew I needed to write this blog and get on with my life. But I am going to go to the website when I have time to kill and kill hunger in my free time. And while simultaneously saving the world -- ten grains of rice at a time -- I am proving my intelligence to myself.


Umm... Can we talk?

Dearest John,
Hi! How are you? Well, I know how you are because I've read your letters, of course, although you seemed worried about me. John, lots of people go months without speaking. Divorced people, for instance. Bad example. Also, friends from high school. But that doesn't mean they don't care about each other.
Well, let me give you a little update.
Still working at the Malt Shop. Play "Piano Man" one more time on the juke and I'm going throw a table at someone. They don't play our song so much. You remember, "I Saw the Sign" by Ace of Base. Good beat. Don't understand why they don't choose it. Remember that one time that we danced to it in the parking lot? That was sweet.
So, family's good. Friends good.
Passed French. Wow, didn't see that one coming. I know you say that it's not that hard but let's remember that one of us is "immersed" and the other has better things to do. Better things to do that studying, I mean. I don't think I'll take another semester of it. I'm pretty busy with my major classes. I'm taking, like, 9 credits and it's killer. I know you think I'm dumb but you try keeping up with ward stuff and tutoring and work and roommates and stuff. You just don't understand busy, Sweetie. I mean, you do one thing all day. Not that I'm downing you, but, hon, one thing.
Anyway, so let me tell you how the miracle of the French class occurred because it's actually kind of a big deal. Julie, you know Julie. She's Beth's friend. And Beth, she's the one that we sometime saw when we went to parties at Kevin's. Wow, Kevin. He's such a loser. But anyway, I ran into Julie at, like, someplace, I don't remember but I think there were Mexico things around, and I told her how hard French was and she totally sympathizes. Then she told me that her brother's roommate was French or Belgian or something near the French African colonies and she said I should get him to tutor me. Well, I talked Mom and Dad into paying for it and Louie (sp?), the roommate, became my tutor. And I got away with like a C or D, don't remember, same diff. And, I have to say he went far beyond the call of duty because he taught me stuff that wasn't even on the test. Like culture. And we ate out a lot and watched French movies -- with subtitles because he wasn't that good of a tutor. So Louie is so fun to be around and we just hang out all the time, even though the class is over. No worries, we can still be tight when you come home. Anyway, so Louie asked me to marry him. I know. Shocker. But I was thinking about it and I think it's a really good deal. So, I just wanted to say that it's a bummer that you and I aren't going to work out, but like when you get home and get married then we can do couples things together. I haven't listened to "I Saw the Sign" with Louie yet because I wanted to wait until you got home and we can listen to it all together. Honestly, I haven't even told Louie about it.
Anyway, gotta jet. Keep up the good work. Like, you come home in not that long so like I'm not going to write again but I'll just plan to see you at the reception or something. Like in the parking lot... you know, to listen to the song.

Au Revoir,




I was in the theatre seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age (intense, violent, and thought provoking) and saw a preview for a new movie called Juno. Juno is the story of a young girl who finds herself pregnant and about her baby's adoption. And Juno is one rye character. Rye. You may find the movie irreverent. I think it will be. But not in a mocking sort of way. It will be irreverent in a surreally (not a word) true way. Here are a few lines (or watch it here) from the movie:

-- Juno: "You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirtguns and shoot them out at sporting events."

--Vanessa: "Your parents are probably wondering where you are."
--Juno: "Nah... I mean I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"

I think this movie will be unique for two reasons. First, it shows that sex has consequences. Second, it shows that there is yet another option besides parenting or abortion. OK, so I have an opinion about unplanned pregnancies. I know that there are a lot of opinions of this topic. My personal belief is that every baby is supposed to be in a certain family but that doesn't mean that the family has to be the biological one. I believe that some babies come to families... creatively. And that means that some bio-parents have the chance to serve a family in a way that no one else can.

I have a friend who works at an adoption agency. I am used to saying "giving up a baby" but she always says, "placing a baby for adoption." I like that. I think that being the bio-parent and placing a baby for adoption is heroic, courageous, and loving.

Check out the trailer here and then check out some clips from the movie when they pop up after the trailer.


Messed up

I was listening to him complain about his brother. His brother is failing all classes, running away from home, hanging out with the only peer groups that will accept him (kids who do drugs and kick it in the gang), and is in therapy. And I'm thinking, "Maybe your brother is trying to tell you something."
Then I hear about his personal high school drama and I'm thinking, "Wow, you are naive." I was that kind of high schooler. Aloof and unaware of the world despite outside trials. And that's good. Doing stupid things has the biproducts of regret, and hurt, and trouble.
But I have to say that there is no school master like the school of hard knocks and in a way it's the best education money can't buy.
I learn new things everyday at work. I'm not talking just growing experiences. I mean, I am learning what I never learned in high school. These kids have done it all. And they've suffered consequences. And, oddly, they are better for it. Treatment forces emotional maturity and guides and intense understanding of self. You are forced to question your thought processes, your actions, your emotions, and then forced to do something new. The "good" teenager never learns that.
So, like how the bone heals stronger after a break, I feel that kids who heal after a really stupid adolesence came out ahead of their peers.