Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

From Père Noël (or Joulupukki, it's all good)

And the Nelsons too:

My mom and sisters got here yesterday,
Almost everybody's here!
and we're picking up my dad this evening and visiting temple square.

We've done pleeeenty of Christmas shopping (and Andrew had the patience of an angel)...

Tired at the mall

We prepared Christmas menus, had hot chocolate, watched Jingle All the Way, listend to all kinds of Christmas music, played Settlers of Catan way too many times (Andrew's obsessed) and started the stockings!

And now I'll get back to my family. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas holiday with your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let's be honest though, whose life isn't crazy these days?

So my awesome Christmas break has turned into a stress-fest... including drowning in paperwork and uncertainty, making stressful decisions and initiating a minor encounter between the car and a cement post... Ahem.

But the good news is there's a point to all (well, most) of this stress: finalizing documents for my internship at KSL and most recently... prepping to anchor the morning news at Classical 89!

I'll be on air Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 AM (Yes, I have to get up very early... you're welcome, morning commuters.) You can tune in here.

The best part is I get paid to do it (Miserly student job pay, but hey, it's my first paid broadcasting gig!) and Classical 89 is a station I really like. My dad is so proud :)

So yeah, life is good, but I'm definitely ready for Friday to get here - then I really get an actual break, and we can focus on Christmas fun with my whole family!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Approaching Modesty

How interesting that I stumble across this literally a day after posting about For the Strength of Youth... The article is one woman's take on why the doctrine of modesty is harmful and even destructive for girls. Her main beef with it is that it is sexist and that it creates shame, essentially:

"Modesty taught me that I was a decoration. Everything about my life was governed by whether or not a man was watching. How I moved and what I ate or wore all depended on the male gaze. Modesty taught me that nothing I did mattered more than avoiding sexual attention. Modesty made me objectify myself. I was so aware of my own potential desirability at all times that I lost all other ways of defining myself."

Read the article, it's not too long. To be fair, her bio line indicates she was raised in an ultra-conservative religion, so of course she probably had a very different experience than most of us. But still, the way she views modesty makes me sad. It's such a wrong image of what should be a beautiful doctrine. My friend Anneke, who posted the link, had this to say:

"I believe in modesty because it protects women's self-respect in an age where our culture believes that women are for looking at and using. There are so many people who treat a woman's body as their own personal property. Dressing modestly is my way of saying 'No - this is not yours. You have no right to possess my body with your eyes and ignore who I actually am.' To me, modesty is the feminist answer to pornography. It's us saying NO."

Agreed. Modesty isn't about being a prude or protecting men from sinning. Modesty is about respect for yourself and respect for your God. It's about cherishing the precious gift that is your body and treating it with care. Another commenter, Joy, added the following:

"To me, modesty starts with respect for self and others and applies both men and women. Modesty is about recognizing that our behavior, words and appearance matter. Speaking, behaving and dressing in a way that shows respect for oneself and others, and is appropriate for the situation, impacts our own feelings and behavior and makes it easier for those around us to maintain positive thoughts and feelings. Modesty does not make a person a passive object nor does it render one invisible. It is the exact opposite. Modesty says we are here and we are powerful. Our thoughts, feelings and actions matter. Modesty does not ask 'Is this skirt going to make men lust?' Modesty asks if our behavior, speech and appearance help ourselves and those around us feel uplifted. Modesty recognizes that we influence others by our very existence and encourages us to be an elevating influence."

All that being said, do we get a little confused about modesty, even in the Church? I think so.

I still hear people say we should dress modestly so men won't have bad thoughts about us. It happened a few weeks ago in Relief Society, as a matter of fact. (Yes, I raised my hand... and pointed out that burqa-clad women in Egypt get groped all the time. Nicely, of course.) Well of course wearing a bikini to school would be distracting! But does that mean I have to constantly worry about some poor unsuspecting man catching a glimpse of the back of my knee? No. That's not the point. Additionally, the author kind of hit home in talking about the fact that modesty is typically only taught to women. Maybe that's not entirely true in Mormonism, but it feels like it sometimes. What does modesty mean for a man anyway? It's not like most men walk around in mini-shorts or halter tops...

Maybe one definition of immodesty for men would be wearing their pants so low that their underpants show? But other than that, I don't know. Maybe there really is something more exciting about a woman, more fundamentally appealing about her body, but it doesn't make much sense to me. Besides, modesty is about more than just clothing, it's in the way you act, speak, and yes, dress. But maybe it's fundamentally more about the way you present yourself to the world. I wish we spent more time talking about how you can present yourself rather than what you shouldn't wear... especially since it can be so subjective from one situation to another, from one culture to another, from one age group to another.

I ran into this article the next day from a Christian website. This author writes about how the phrase "modest is hottest" is silly and can even be damaging because of what it insinuates:

"Perhaps the phrase’s originator hoped to provide a more positive spin on modesty. I sympathize with that. However, 'modest is hottest' also perpetuates (and complicates) this objectification of women by equating purity with sexual desire. The word 'hot'” is fraught with sexual undertones. It continues a tradition in which women are primarily objects of desire, but it does so in an acceptable Christian way. Making modesty sexy is not the solution we need. Instead, the church [not sure what religion she is, but based on who she quotes I think she may be Catholic] needs to overhaul its theology of the female body. Women continue to be associated with their bodies in ways that men are not. And, as a result of this unique association, women’s identities are also uniquely tied to their bodies in a manner that men’s identities are not."

I feel like a big part of all these issues is the doctrine of original sin. No wonder all these ideas are lurking when people see Eve as the original temptress, the cause of mankind's fall. What a wonderful thing that in Mormonism we respect her, even admire her for her courage in taking the next step into mortality she knew was necessary. But maybe even we have remnants of "original sin mentality", when we put the responsibility for sin on women in cases like modesty or sexual purity for example. I worry that sometimes the ideas that both of these authors describe creep into our own rhetoric. And yet, official Church publications like For the Strength of Youth make it very clear that this should not be the case: "a young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to protect each other’s honor and virtue." Both of them equally.

So here's my question: how should we teach modesty to girls? What can we do better? And how should we teach our boys modesty too?

Oh and here's a fun fact: there may be scientific evidence for the value of modesty"Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up. Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as 'I push, I grasp, I handle,' said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University. And in a 'shocking' finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another's intentions. This means that these men see women 'as sexually inviting, but they are not thinking about their minds,' Fiske said. 'The lack of activation in this social cognition area is really odd, because it hardly ever happens.'"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Those perfect moments

You know those times when you come up with a deliciously witty reply five minutes after the right moment has passed? Well yesterday I had a brief moment of enlightenment just at the right time. And because it happens so rarely you have to hear all about it.

Andrew and I were leaving our apartment to go practice. Another guy was leaving his apartment at the same time, and Andrew knew him so they exchanged a few formalities. "how are you doing... what are you up to..."

I've never seen this guy in my life, so I'm not particularly chatty. When Andrew tells him we're going dancing, he says "oh, if I liked dancing at all that would sound like fun."


Andrew gives a polite laugh, then he asks him where he's going.

"I'm getting my bowling ball from the car. I just bought a new book and I'm excited to start practicing." Oh come on, that just fell into my lap straight out of Heaven. So I pipe up:

"hey, if I liked bowling at all that would sound like fun."

It's the little things, people.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh those Mormons

Have you heard about the new study on Mormons?

Nothing new. But this little tidbit actually did surprise me: "Although LDS women are just as educated as other American women, they are more likely to be stay-at-home moms and less likely to work outside the home."

That's kind of awesome.

Ok seriously???


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For the Strength of Youth

I'll be honest, I haven't read "For the Strength of Youth" in ages, but I just found out that the Church has published an updated edition. It's great to reread it, and of course my first thought was "what changed?" so I pulled out my old copy. Obviously, none of the principles and standards are different, but I noticed some tweaks here and there that specifically address more modern issues or probably clarify the intent of our leaders. (New text in purple)

In the Dress and Appearance section, same text here: Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him. Love it. But this little change is really powerful: If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Isn't it wonderful that even teens are expected to seek out personal revelation and study out principles for themselves?

From the Dating section (and this isn't new, but I love the emphasis on each gender's responsibility!): Remember that a young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to protect each other’s honor and virtue. Also, the first line of that section makes me giggle considering the increased emphasis on not "hanging out" lately: A date is a planned activity...

Music and Dancing--this little section is pretty interesting: When listening to music, be courteous to those around you. Keep your music at a reasonable volume, and remove your earphones when others are talking to you or want you to be part of their activities. Remember that the Spirit speaks with a still, small voice. If you listen to music constantly, you may not have the quiet time you need for thinking, feeling, and receiving spiritual guidance. I find it so interesting that something as seemingly benign as the volume of your music deserves being addressed by the Church. It makes you think about the very real influence--for good or for bad--of music. And check this out: Be careful that your use of social media does not replace spending time with your family and friends.

Not surprising at all is the explicit mention of pornography: Serious sins, such as sexual transgression or use of pornography, need to be confessed to your bishop. It's incredible just how rampant the spread of pornography is now. I've heard some numbers that show essentially 100% of men have been exposed to pornography at some point in their lives. It's a beast we simply can't afford to ignore or brush under the rug. Porn gets a whole paragraph of its own in the Entertainment and Media section, which I think helps people to realize just how destructive it can be: It is a poison that weakens your self-control, destroys your feelings of self-worth, and changes the way you see others. It causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit and can damage your ability to have a normal relationship with others, especially your future spouse. It limits your ability to feel true love.

Now this isn't new by any means (although slightly reworded), but I was touched to reread this section: Victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and do not need to repent. If you have been a victim of abuse, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult, and seek your bishop’s counsel immediately. They can support you spiritually and assist you in getting the protection and help you need. The process of healing may take time. Trust in the Savior. He will heal you and give you peace. I'm so glad it's made abundantly clear how much the Lord loves us, and that we can find help and healing from our leaders.

And there's a whole new section on Work and Self-Reliance: how appropriate! Set high goals for yourself, and be willing to work hard to achieve them. Develop self-discipline, and be dependable. Do your best in your Church callings, schoolwork, employment, and other worthwhile pursuits.

Anyway, there's plenty more but I haven't been through the whole thing yet. I think this is such a wonderful tool for youth, teachers, parents, and really just people of all ages--these standards apply to all of us. I'm so glad we have such inspired counsel.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Decisions, decisions

It's hard to make decisions. There's what you think you should do, what you really want to do (or not even knowing what that would be), knowing or thinking what you think other people expect you to do (not that that should matter but somehow it always does)...  the World vs. the Gospel, etc. There's the guilt of wanting something you can't have, or wanting what you think you shouldn't want, or wishing you wanted what you thought you didn't want (are you confused yet? Good. Now you have a sense of my current state of mind).

And then you read things like this. It sort of validates what I've felt for a long time: that I am going to need to at least keep a foot in the "real world" if I want to stay sane. And I really want to be a mother too. I can't wait to be completely absorbed by my little ones and teach them and play with them and feed them and spend every waking hour with them... but I also know that I am going to need to stay involved in life outside the home. It's just hard finding that happy medium. You're probably thinking "that silly Lydia, she's stressing out for nothing -- she doesn't even have kids yet!" Well I like to have a plan, and these are the kinds of decisions you make far in advance. Plus it's not that far in advance... we leave BYU to start our "real life" in April.

I wonder if I'll ever feel certain in any decision. Sometimes I envy my friends who are so certain about what they want in life. I had a close friend in the FLSR who was always dead certain she wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, and that was always the goal. She certainly didn't ignore the importance of education and completed her degree, but once she got married, they saved for a child and made a baby. And she is now a happy stay-at-home mom. Then I have another good friend in the broadcast program who, before she married her now-husband, talked to him about her goals and they decided he would follow her wherever she got her first job, she would get several years of experience as a reporter, and then they would have kids. And she hasn't changed her mind since. I don't even think one choice is superior to the other, and what I admire most is that both of these friends made a decision and stuck to it.

And then there's me, the eternal flip-flopper terrified of taking a wrong step. I want so badly to be a deliberate woman. I want so much to make intelligent, informed and inspired decisions, but I feel like so much is out of my--our--control that I have no idea how to make the right decision. And then there's the whole "leave it in God's hands" vs. "God helps those who help themselves", which isn't helping right now. I'm silly though, because I'm sitting here wishing an angel would come tell me what to do, but the moment that happened I'd probably whine that I didn't get to make the choice myself. Ha ha.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Redundant me

Way too many of my sentences start with "I read an article the other day..."

Seriously, it's pathological. But I really do read some good articles. And since everybody's stressing about finals while I chill out and enjoy my freedom (I technically have two finals left but I'm not really concerned, they're pretty straightforward exams), I've had lots of time to read interesting things. Or listen to interesting things. Have you ever heard of the Round Table, for example? It's a podcast by Mormon women and it's pretty awesome. I'm pretty sure that will be me in a few years. To be completely honest, I would love to have my own talk show and be a professional blogger. I'd go around giving speeches and write books and help people see the good in the world and think about hard things and find solutions... and learn plenty of things in the process for myself. Yup, that's what I really want to do.

Anyway, you should check it out, it's good. Another awesome place you should check out, especially if you're a mom, is, founded by an LDS woman (well technically there are several women involved but I think she was one of the original developers) but intended for a general audience.

And since we're talking about interesting articles, here's one I'm reading right now, about boys becoming men (and no, it has nothing to do with boy bands).

Oh and if you really want a good read... you should read my latest interview for the Mormon Women Project! Plug! But really, you can hear (and see!) more about how this Lebanese-French artist discovered the Gospel, which influenced her so much that it quite literally colored her whole art world.

In other news, I attended my last real class of my undergraduate career last week. It feels wonderful, especially because I still have my internship to look forward to. I just found out about another possible anchoring opportunity, but I'll tell more when I actually know more for that one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed though. It was kind of bittersweet anchoring my last newscast and airing my last story on Thursday.

in the voicing booth with my awesome co-anchor, Jenné

The whole Thursday crew. Aw, don't we all look so young and full of hope...

I'm also a bit nervous about the future, let's be honest. Ugh, decisions decisions. It's hard being a grown-up.
At least I've gained great experience and met awesome people. Who knows what will come of it all though... who knows.

Last Newscast

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ho ho ho

My favorite part of the holiday season is of course JibJab elves. How can you not love ridiculing yourself to spread some holiday cheer!?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finals. sort of

It's so close. I can't believe I'm finishing the last classes of my degree.

Oh hey, did I mention I got the internship I wanted? Woohoo! I'll be starting at KSL January 4th and I can't wait.

But in the meantime I am exhausted--I need sleep, I need mental rest, and I really need school to be done. My last story airs Thursday, so watch for that :) And Thursday is also my last day anchoring... kind of sad, I can't believe it's already almost over! Phew. Time to got to bed, I can't muster any interesting writing right now.

Oh, my next interview on the MWP is coming out tomorrow or the next day, so look out for that as well.