Friday, September 5, 2014

Coffee is Just a Beverage -- Raising Open-Minded Children

Since having children, I have learned a great many things. I’ve talked about a few of them here as I have tried to make sense of myfailures as a parent, my moments of complete exasperation, and the times when nothing seems to make sense.

But there is one thing I feel I might be doing right.

I don’t want to sit here and toot my own horn. Mostly, I write this for myself so that I can put my thoughts down and keep examining things in order to choose a path I feel is best for me and for my kids, and I sort of just hope that someone else out there finds some of my thoughts useful too.

And I could be totally wrong. 

But that’s kind of the beauty of parenting, I suppose – screw it all up one day, start over the next.

So… I mentioned coffee.

Growing up, I was convinced that coffee was “bad.” Bad to drink, bad to taste, bad to smell, bad for your body, bad to enjoy, bad to think about enjoying – just bad. And drinking coffee, well, that made someone a bad person.

What I didn’t realize was that a lot of people drink coffee. And – newsflash – they are not all bad.

And, guess what? Come to find out, coffee itself isn’t “bad”either, unless you want to drink excessive amounts of it – but then, an excessive amount of anything isn't usually good for you, even broccoli.

But my paradigm for so long was “coffee is bad, therefore coffee drinkers are bad.” I would stare at people in restaurants because they let the waitress pour coffee into their cups and in my heart I was just embarrassed for them. And my friends who tested out cappuccinos and mocha ice cream and even (for a very naïve year or two of my life) my friends who put coffee creamers in their hot chocolate? HOLY COW they were off the rails.

Judgy judgy judgment.

But as things tend to happen, I grew up. I found out that everyone in this world has more worth than I had given them credit for. My ideas shifted. I now value the ability we all have to collect new knowledge and make decisions based on our discoveries. I find a tremendous amount of peace in being able to decide what’s right for me through my own study of the world.

And that’s why I don’t tell my kids that coffee is bad.

And I don’t let them find fault with people who drink it.

And I don’t tell them not to drink it.

I give them the facts, the ideas, the beliefs, and I will show them the way I have found to be best… but they get to choose.

And I find them to be far more accepting, empathetic, and non-judgmental little people than I have ever been.

And when they see someone’s coffee cup filled in a restaurant, they don’t stare. They don’t think that person is bad. They don’t feel sorry that that person is ruining their life by drinking the coffee.

Because coffee is just a beverage.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Your Parents and You -- 5 Stages of Utter Nonsense

I'm getting older my friends. And I’m noticing something.

Something besides the darkening of the hair on my upper lip and the way I can no longer sleep on the ground while camping and still wake up refreshed.

I’m noticing that I am both mesmerized and befuddled by one thing. Well, two things. Er, people. 

 My parents.

They know so many things.

They don’t know much.

They are so experienced.

They are so inexperienced.

They are full of advice.

They need advice.

They do things right.

They do things wrong.

Do you get the picture? Do you know what I’m talking about?

As a kid I had seen my parents as heroes who could beat down robbers in the night, lift cars off of my mangled body in the event that I was struck down in the street, and surely knew everything about everything. Stage 1 – Ignorant Adoration.

When I was a teenager, I experienced a sudden shift in the way I saw my parents, a shift into Stage 2 – Exaggerated Realization. You know the one. The one where you suddenly realize your parents don’t know everything and logically conclude that they must therefore know nothing?

I couldn’t believe I had never noticed how ridiculous my parents were.

How dare they impose such trite laws upon me as curfew? It’s not like I was going to get into any trouble after 10pm on a school night. And sitting me down with my boyfriend to discuss the idea that we ought to be wary of pettin’ and sofa settin’ while trying not to actually say words like petting? Big, obnoxious eye roll.

And then I found my true love, got married, and decided to start a family. Enter Stage 3 – Ignorant Expectation.

I am going to do everything so much better than they did.

I am going to spend all my days singing nursery rhymes and jumping on trampolines with my adoring angel children.

My kids are going to be so well-behaved and so smart and it will all be because of me.

But somewhere along the line, probably around the time my oldest son turned two, I suddenly realized something.

I know nothing.

My parents know so much.

I am so dumb.

My parents are so smart.

I cannot raise this psychotic child.

Maybe I will give him to my parents.

Stage 4 – Ego Crushing Disbelief.

And now, four years and two more kids later, I am in Stage 5.

What’s Stage 5? I’m not really sure what to call it.

Live and Learn? Acceptance? Enlightenment?

All I know is that I am now seeing things a bit more clearly (hopefully). I don’t think my parents have all the answers, but I’m glad for their advice. I see some flaws, but I adore their strengths. I realize that I can still come to them when I have a problem. I can still talk to them and ask questions and dump my kids on their doorstep when I just can’t take it anymore.

I can appreciate that we are different from each other.

I can appreciate them as individuals, as real people…

And yes, as my parents.

And I can appreciate that they are still pretty darn forgiving of my awkwardness.

Like that moment in a conversation with a parent when I use a word like vagina or masturbation, and they duck their heads, their eyes get wide, and they look at me like, “You know what that is????”

I love you Mom and Dad.

My parents -- tolerating the surprisingly radiant glow of my awkwardness since 1987.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How's Your Body Image Today? Wait, Don't Answer That.

I have spent 26 years in my body. Aside from the first nine and very confident years of my life, do you want to know how much time I’ve spent actually liking that body?

Maybe 400 days all together.

At the age of 9 or 10 I hit a chubby phase and I just didn’t know how to get out of it. When other girls my age were losing their baby fat and looked like little string-beans, I was gaining. My confidence quickly declined.

To console myself, I ate.

I remember eating handfuls of sugar from the baking cupboard, just because there were no other sweets in the house. I envied my younger brother, who seemed to be able to do the same thing and not gain an ounce.

To console myself, I stayed in my room and read books while he went out and played basketball.

My weight went down in high school because I was going out with friends all the time instead of staying at home where the cookies were, but after that it was once again a struggle. Being a stay-at-home-mom and getting through three pregnancies have made it even more so.

And I can’t pin all of the poor self-image on weight issues. I always knew I’d have those because, well, there just aren’t a lot of Skinny Minnies in my family tree. On days when weight isn’t a concern, it’s other things. Stretch marks. The way my eyes kind of go down on the ends instead of up. My “man hands.” My nose. The mole on my neck that my kids sometimes find and pinch. Saggy boobs. Thighs that touch. My sometimes painfully-obvious mustache.

There are so many nit-picky little things I see when I look in the mirror.

I’m sure you can probably relate. You may even be thinking, I don’t know why she thinks she’s got so much to complain about, look at ME.

I know what you mean. Because I look at other people, maybe even you, and think the exact same thing.

But something in me has changed. It is growing slowly and I hope it continues. It started the day I learned that I would be bringing a little girl into the world.

In the time since then, I have been thinking more about what I tell myself about my body. Because I want things to be different for her. I don’t want her to struggle with her body image the way I have struggled with mine. I want her to look in the mirror and see those sparkly blue eyes, sassy curls, and perfect pearly skin and know she is beautiful. Even more than that, I want her to look in the mirror and see past the outside. I want her to smile at her reflection because she has laughter and confidence and peace inside. I want her to believe me when I say to her the same thing she always says to me –

“I love your heart.”

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that my “issues” magically disappeared overnight because I wanted to change things for my daughter. I have good days and bad days. I still want to cry every time I see numbers on the scale going up instead of down. But now, when I take a moment to reconsider, I am able to see how screwed up that is, and at least that’s a start.

I guess something we should be asking ourselves is, “Who is telling me I’m not good enough?” Is it “the media?” Men? Celebrities? Models? Society? No. I’ll tell you who it is.

It’s you.

We are all stuck in this horrible habit of telling ourselves we’re not good enough. And until we can start to look past all that, there is little hope for future generations of women. For our daughters and granddaughters. For their daughters and granddaughters. The cycle will continue until we stop expecting so much from each other, but more importantly, stop expecting so much from ourselves.

And it’s hard.

But here’s what I think – if we start doing more to be honest and loving to our own bodies and the bodies of those around us, no matter what they look like, we can do it.

We can do it, because it matters.

It matters because we will never learn to live with love and happiness if we can’t accept and appreciate our differences, no matter how big or small they seem. 

From the smartest woman I know.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Know Why You Pinch Your Kid in the Grocery Store

Mothering, I have found, is one of the broadest and most difficult areas of study a woman can take up.

In the moment you think you have found a solution for one “mommy-problem,” another one arises. What works for one child doesn’t work for another. What works for another child may only work for a single day. Or a single hour. Or thirty seconds.

The role of a mother has to be so flexible that it can bend over backwards, touch its toes to its shoulders, change a diaper with one hand and simultaneously prepare dinner with the other.

Honestly, I sometimes feel like I will break.

And I know this is nothing new. The internet is chock full of the sarcastic rants, emotional stories, and heartfelt suggestions of mothers in all walks of life these days. I am a quiet voice in a noisy crowd when it comes to this blog. But I am a voice that wants to reiterate something to you:

I hear you.

I know how you feel.

I understand that in the moment you pinched your child in the grocery store you were feeling angry, tired, and a little out of control (or a lot). But, for just a moment, you didn’t really care.

And guess what? I think that’s okay.

I’ve been there. Soooooo many times. And it is hard to admit how imperfect I really am.

Because we are so overloaded by pictures of perfection on social media that we feel that there must be something we aren’t doing right. And we contribute to that dishonest media flood, hoping, perhaps, that we will “fake it until we make it,” all the while wondering: Why are all those other moms playing and cooking and crafting with their children when I can hardly manage to serve mine breakfast without feeling overwhelmed? Why does this mom or that mom seem to be able to juggle homeschooling, sewing little dresses, running twenty miles, and making a fabulous meal all in one day when all I want to do is lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling?

I’m going to make a little bit of a suggestion here, mostly to myself, but also kind of for you if you’re nodding your head as you read this.

Stop checking your Facebook feed every few hours.

Stop scrolling through Instagram every night before bed.

Stop searching Pinterest for crafts you can do with your kids and following links only to find yourself sucked in by another “perfect mom” blog.

Stop reading the blogs of relentlessly optimistic people who turn every misery into a “there’s a reason for this.” Sometimes maybe there really isn’t a reason. And it is 100% okay if you want to wallow in your pain, your sadness, your misfortune.

Stop trying to be something you’re not.

Because you may not be the mom who has the patience to homeschool.

And you may not be the mom who has the skill to sew little dresses.

And you’re certainly not the mom who likes to run twenty miles per day.

And fabulous meals only happen maybe once a month. Maybe.

Smiling through chaos since 2008.

But you are a mother. A mother who loves her children. A mother who loves to read and do all the voices. A mother who loves to dance in the living room and sing really loud. A mother who tries to listen, answer questions, and give honest explanations. A mother who snuggles, kisses, hugs, laughs, cries, and strives to understand.

Fill in your own blanks.

You are your own kind of mother. Perfectly imperfect.

And you’re so good at it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

How I Became a Feminist

There was a time in my life when I thought that “feminists” were nothing but hedonistic, troubled man-haters who were so absorbed in their womanhood they couldn’t imagine handing over even the tiniest bit of control to the opposite sex.

There was also a time in my life when I thought buying Girl Scout cookies and showing support for Girl Scouts was “inappropriate” for someone of my faith.

It’s not.

I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that I was wrong. Really wrong.

Granted, there are extremists in every group, and I’m not saying I support the opinions and behaviors of all feminists.


I have gradually come to find myself listening to, understanding, and often agreeing with many of the people I once called “feminist” with a bit of disdain on my lips.

And… gasp… I now often count myself among them.

Let me pause for a moment and talk about tradition.

I love tradition. Tradition is Christmas presents and Easter egg hunts and family reunions and watching people smile awkwardly and stare at their cake while everyone sings “Happy Birthday” to them.


But what else is tradition?

From a woman’s perspective – it has meant a lot of submission, surrender, and producing heirs.

Thank goodness this country has changed so much in the past century. Women have gone from being purely homemakers with little voice to holding government office and becoming CEOs of top corporations. That is incredible, America. Good job.

But if we dig a little deeper, it’s sad to see the inequalities that still exist.

I used to justify those inequalities. I would say things like: “Men are physically capable of more. We trust them to do what we can’t,” and “We’re still equals, we just have different roles in life,” and “Men are more rational. If we had a Presidential Cabinet full of women, our country would be an emotional wreck.” Yeah, I said that.

I was raised in a very conservative, traditional home in a very conservative, traditional community, as a part of a very conservative, traditional religion. Maybe you can see where those things I used to say might have come from.

But I guess the big question here is this: Is tradition right?

It is true that in general, men are physically stronger. It is true that in general men and women often lean toward specific roles based on biological makeup. It is true that in general, they often think rationally and have fewer “emotional” moments (as long as we’re talking about sadness and not anger, that is).

But why does that mean that women should take the backseat?

Women are biologically capable of bearing children, but does that mean they have to? Women are generally more sensitive to the feelings of others, but does that mean they are incapable of making rational decisions? Women have become very good at doing laundry and making sandwiches and bringing cold beverages to men who sit in front of televisions watching sports, but does that mean they should spend their lives doing nothing else?

Proudly raising the next generation of girls who stand up for themselves.

Yes, I was certainly wrong about feminists.

And this cookie season, I proudly bought Samoas and Tagalongs from the Girl Scouts in order to celebrate the liberation from my confusion.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The What Ifs and the Why Nots

So... I hope I didn’t scare you away with my last blog post. The sentimental, ponderous, self-improvement obsessed side of me sometimes takes over and things can get oh so serious. Of course, after putting myself out there, I immediately wondered if it was the right thing to do.

Admitting that you don’t always love the life you’ve chosen is… revealing, to say the least. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, either. I love my husband, I love my kids, I love photography and being at home and sometimes I even like to clean things. I would not trade the life I have now for a different one. What I guess I’m really trying to say is that I sometimes find myself wondering what things might have been like if I’d taken things a bit slower.

I was so excited to get married and start a family. That’s kind of your basic pre-teen LDS female fantasy, really. Most of us grew up with Mom at home, cooking and cleaning and crafting and raising the small people – and from what I’ve experienced with friends and family, most of us wanted to be just like that. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

I believe motherhood is a wonderful, complex, and worthwhile piece in my puzzle. I will always be proud to have been a mother in this life and raised children who [hopefully] lived their best lives as well. But after several years of struggling to find and be the “perfect mother,” I’ve realized something – I’m not just a mother. Mothering is not the only thing I was born to do. I am still an individual with interests, hobbies, thoughts, opinions, and “issues.” Being a mother is part of me—it has changed things about me—but it isn’t all of me. And it’s okay if I sometimes scale back on the mothering stuff and spend more time on photography stuff, or writing stuff, or lunch with friends stuff, or going on rollercoasters with my husband stuff. It’s okay.

In trying to accept and make time for my individuality, I have thought a lot about what this life would mean if we all believed it were the only life we would have. Most, or many, religions believe in an after-life. Some, like Mormonism, believe in eternal life and eternal progress. And it’s a beautiful concept. We do all the things in this world that we believe will get us to Heaven and eternal happiness will be ours, right?

But WHAT IF this is it?

Just consider it for a moment… what would we do differently if we believed that this life was our only life?

Aside from sky-diving and climbing Mt. Everest, is there something we would really like to do to truly live? Would we see the world? Would we write books? Become actresses on Broadway? Have a passel of kids akin to that of the Duggars? Eat cheesecake for dinner?

So what’s really stopping us?

Is it that belief that this life only leads to another so we might as well just live quietly and wait for whatever wonderful thing is next? Is it a lack of funds? Heaps of responsibility? The horrifying thought of wider hips?

Or is it just… us?

Cozumel, just after sunrise. Awesome.

Why not climb mountains and eat cheesecake and write books? Why not follow our more spectacular dreams? Why not become the people we wanted to be at age six? Why not enjoy and celebrate every moment with loud voices and exuberant hearts?

Why not live this life as if it were the only one?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shifting Gears and Finding Truth

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, and about my life in general. I like to make you guys laugh. I know most of you can relate to many of the things I rant about here, and I hope it makes you feel a little more at peace with who you are and what you’re doing at this point in time, because that is so important.

But as I’m putting things out there for you to read I also wonder what else I could be doing to make life a bit lighter – for me, for you, for mommies and wifey people and just women in general. Because of the things I was taught and the convictions I adopted as a child, I knew from an early age that all I wanted in life was to marry, have babies, and stay home doing crafts, cooking, and cleaning.

Well, now I’m here, approximately 7 years later and wondering… Where am I going in this life and why does the peace I thought I would feel by this time still seem kind of distant?

Some of you might know what I’m talking about, others may not. I envy those of you who feel useful, love what you are doing, and are totally content where you are. The truth, for me, is that wifehood and motherhood are a lot harder than I expected. Like, a LOT harder. Really, life is harder than I thought it would be. That isn’t to say that I’m not happy in many ways, many times of the day, and really, I don’t have a lot to complain about when it comes to comparing my “hardships” to those of others.

But everyone has their struggles.

And our struggles are not always the same – but I think we can find some common ground in our journeys through this life. Whether we are SAHM/SAHWs, working moms, working wives, or just all-out women in the world, I stick to the belief that we are here to help each other live the best lives we are each capable of living.

So, with that being said, I want to take a new perspective, at least for a little while. I hope you’ll keep reading my blog, although you may not laugh as often when you come for a visit, and maybe you’ll even cry sometimes. I’m sure I will.

I want to talk to you from my heart, because this is the kind of writing I can feel. Admittedly, sometimes what comes from my heart really is as goofy and snarky as what you’ve read so far, because I really am goofy and snarky (along with many other things).  But my plan for the next few months is this: to embark on a little journey of self-acceptance, family love, marital joy, and finding my truth.

And I’m hoping… maybe you’ll join me?

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. Heavy stuff, that. I hope this all makes sense. Come back again for the first official installment documenting the discovery of the mushier parts of my brain. Love ya!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One time, we went on a Caribbean cruise.

We just got back from a lovely trip.

A Caribbean cruise. A Caribbean cruise.

And yesterday, it snowed here.

I can’t stop thinking about palm trees and blue ocean and every kind of mocktail under the sun.

Oh, the sun.

That’s right – thanks to my dad’s super-generous Christmas gift to his family we packed up our two older kids and joined 10 other family members, hopped a plane to Houston, and spent 7 days seeing three countries, swimming in the ocean, and stuffing our faces with food better than any I’ve had in my entire life.

It was amazing. I didn’t have to cook dinner or make my own bed for a whole week. And judging by the looks of my house right now, I have obviously not yet recovered.

So I’ll be reminiscing today. But I want you to come away with some practical tips as well, because that’s how I try to run this blog. A little laughter, a little fun, and a little bit of sorta-kinda-decent advice from someone who learns everything the hard way.


Leavin' on a jetplane.

Cozumel, Mexico port.

The whole fam-damily (minus Dad, who was the photog)
with me, Aaron, and Big E and Sis top left.


Iguana mania in Honduras.

Shopping time!

Roatan, Honduras.

Drinking from a for-real coconut.

Cotton candy on the beach.
The South American flavor didn't bother her one bit.

Riding on the tender boat to Belize.

Mayan ruins (Altun Ha) in Belize.

Ok, so now that you’ve seen a little of the awesomeness that is the western Caribbean, here’s your tips.

10 Things You’ll Be Glad You Took On Your Caribbean Cruise

1. Sunglasses – when you’ve been living on the frozen tundra withan average of only 9 hours of daylight for most of the winter, the sun is bright. Really bright.
2. Five bottles of sunscreen – ok, we didn’t quite go through five, but seriously. When you are as beautifully pale as I am (not to mention my even lighter oldest son), burn is the only thing you know about the sun. And I’ve mentionedbefore what a hypochondriac I am, so talking about my fear of death by skin cancer is pretty unnecessary.
3. Extra swimsuits – one of them is always wet and it’s nice to have a dry one to alternate with. And, if you’re like my dear hubunk, climbing into precarious motor boats may just tear your trunks from crotch to knee and leave you a bit… exposed.
4. Random medications – because sometimes people get pinkeye the first day of a vacation.
5. Your own snacks and water – I don’t care what you have to do to fit them into your checked luggage, you will never regret that you had fruit snacks and bottled water for yourself (and for the kids who have meltdowns over such things), especially when a hamburger and fries is at least $10 in American cash.
6. Cash in small bills – you won’t find anyone on an island with change for an American $100 bill, my friends.
7. Someone who likes to hang out with you – because even if you have a group of 14 people like we did, you need a special buddy who will wonder where you went when you get lost from the rest of the group.
8. Lots of underwear – Changing from swimwear to clothing and back all day is confusing. For some reason, no one can remember which underwear is clean and which ones aren’t.
9. A good camera and video camera – Aaron tried to talk me out of bringing my big camera. I told him, “Yeah, right!” What kind of photographer doesn’t take her bulky camera and bulky camera accessories to all the beaches to get covered in sand and cloud up because of the humidity? I didn’t regret it for a minute. And the videos Aaron got are priceless.
10. Your inner party animal – cruise ships are made for fun-lovers. Granted, many cruises are full of the fun-loving elderly. But you will have endless amounts of fun if you can karaoke anything from the 50's and 60's, I’ll tell you what.

Daddy and Sis on the tender boat.

5 Things You Might REGRET Taking on Your Caribbean Cruise

1. Your small children – there are kid centers on cruise ships. There are fun things to do. They have their choice of foods and entertainment practically every day. But nothing can keep them from having their typical hungry/tired/bored meltdowns at the most inconvenient times, in the most inconvenient places (such as crowded tourist areas where they shlump to the ground proclaiming their legs hurt and they can’t walk, or on the floor of the fancy dining room on the fanciest night, or on board airplanes where they pee their pants just before you land at a busy airport where you have to walk a mile to find your luggage and fresh clothing). I was grateful every day we left the 2-year-old at home.
2. Your electronics – Wifi costs too much wherever you go and unless you have international cell service, you’re not calling anybody. So why bother? Oh, that’s right… we’re all addicted.
3. A large group – maybe my dad feels differently about this, because it really was so fun to all be together. But holy moly getting everyone on the same page and gathered up every time we went somewhere was not an easy task. I was usually the crazy-lady straggling 10 yards behind the others with the 3-year-old who “couldn’t walk.”
4. Your fear of enclosed spaces, open ocean, germs, wild drivers, and strangers – You will live for a week in a tiny room sans windows, without being able to see land, surrounded by thousands of people with questionable hygiene, be driven around on South American roads by South American drivers, and not know anyone except the people with whom you travel.
5. Only a 7-day cruise – You will not want to go home. The only thing dragging me back was the sweet little boy who had spent the whole week in the homes of relatives wondering what “trip” we could all be on without him. Did you know there are 6 month cruises that go all over the world??? Yeah. Do that.

Marvelous. Ignore the wheelbarrow man's photobomb.

Someday we’ll vacation again… someday. But for now, we’re easing back into real life (it sucks) with homemade mocktails and pretending the snow will be gone again soon and sleeping all together in the same bedroom every night (still adjusting to normal sleep schedules again).

I can’t wait for someday to come.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I am me. You are you. And Oprah is a billionaire.

I'm going to ask you to do something for me. Go to the nearest mirror. Look into it. Look past the dark circles, the frizzy hair, the yet-to-be-waxed mustache.

Okay, maybe that’s just me.

But seriously. Look past all that. Now look past the labels – whether they’re the ones you give yourself, or the ones given to you by others. Woman (or man). Mom (or Dad… you get the idea). Homemaker. Mormon. Cook. Athlete. Tall. Short. Fat. Big-boned. Skinny. Emotional. Bossy. Faithful. Hurt. Selfish. Courageous. Grieving. Tender. Vulnerable.

Break through every last layer.

Now what do you see?

I’m going to take a rare break from my usual writing (aka: snarkasm) and go out on a limb here, because there are some things… some things that I want to say. Maybe things that need to be said. And this is the only way I know how to say them so that someone will hear. And if it changes something for that one someone, then it will have been worth saying.

We are all here, in this world, inexplicably attached to that reflection we see in the mirror. There’s no getting around it. We look how we look. We are what we are. We are born with what we are born with, and nothing more.

But we have this incredible capacity to take all of that “stuff” that makes us who we are and bend it, flex it, stretch it, build it, and otherwise make it even more incredible than it already is.

YOU. You have that power.

I could be a great many things. I could be a painter, a mountain climber, a stripper, or a whale watcher. Those things are within my reach. What is not within my reach: being a Beyoncé, a Miley Cyrus, an Oprah Winfrey, or a Thomas S. Monson… because I am not those people. And that’s okay.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that none of us will ever see someone else’s reflection when we look in the mirror. It will always be you. But there is so much perfection, so much wonder and beauty and peace and focus in that. And it’s a shame that it’s so hard to accept the face, the body, the heart, and the mind that stare back at us every morning.

It frustrates me (although I sometimes do it myself) to see people who spend so much of their time waiting. People wait for more money, for smaller hips, for a good man, or for happiness. Some of them look, half-heartedly, but in all the wrong places. Others sit around in their pajamas all day with their eyes glazed over as they stare at the screen of a device that shows them pictures of the things they wish were theirs. 

And to those people I say:


Stop complaining about what you didn’t have, what you don’t have now, what you will never have, or how you’ve-been-screwed-over-so-many-times-by-so-many-people-and-how-dare-they-ruin-your-life? That's no way to live.

Get out of the house. Go places. Experience things. Try new foods. Get a new hobby. Make new friends. Step out of the miniscule box you have been living in and spread your fabulous wings.

But do it with this in mind: what you do and who you choose to associate with are what you will become. If you want better, you have to act better. You have to work hard to become your best you.

And some days, your best you really will need to sit around in pajamas and stare at a screen all day. I’ve been there. I get it. But don’t let yourself be defined by those days. Find your purpose. Start becoming the person you want to be.

You have the power to find potential within yourself. You have the power to make yourself who you want to be. You can take the very most basic pieces of who you are and become your own, personal best.

I am not an expert in anything. I am flawed. And I am not the prettiest, the healthiest, the smartest, or most caring or most generous person in the world. But I am me. And I know the me I want to become.

You are not your labels. You are not your marital status, your religion, or your relationships. You are YOU. Think about it every time you make a decision. The minute you stop acting based on the labels and start thinking critically for yourself is the minute you start to truly become your best self.

And just think – Oprah has made billions on that idea.