Saturday, March 28, 2020

I Learned It in Relief Society

Partly from a Facebook post from the other day:

I lay awake early this morning pondering where I learned many of the things that are becoming most useful during this crazy time (the pandemic and the Utah earthquakes, for future reference).

Haircutting: at Relief Society
Gardening: Dick Dresher at Relief Society
Bread making: Sister Spencer and Jane Merrill at Relief Society and Iris Hunt
Food storage and emergency preparedness, at Relief Society and work in the Welfare Department for The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints

(But what about sewing (one of my hobbies), you ask?: Mom, school, private lessons, Liz Clark, personal learning, but I probably could have learned some of that at Relief Society, too.)

I'm glad Tiffany Litster inspired me to make Relief Society my social outing.

And didn't I learn these things at home? Well, I watched my mom do them, but you know how stubborn kids are... It took some maturing to actually take them to heart.

***
Tomorrow I will try to post some of my favorite quotes from the founding of the Relief Society, but while I was listening to Saints the other day, I ran across this one from Eliza R. Snow:

"The society should be like a mother with her child. . . ." I feel so glad that I've had Relief Society to teach me skills that, at times, are invaluable, and I know it has made a world of difference to many more women, too.


Sunday, March 1, 2020

In a Room of Great Women

Back on February 19th I had the opportunity to be in the the same room with some of the most powerful and influential women I have ever met! I went to UVU's Women & Leadership Project's The Status of Women Worldwide: Becoming Empowered as Global Citizens. I originally went to hear Valerie Hudson talk about the strength of societies in relation to how they treat women and Sharon Eubank talk about making a difference through worldwide organizations like LDS Charities, grassroots organizations, and individually. Valerie Hudson profoundly influenced my thought about ten years ago when I read her "Two Trees" article. I got to work with Sharon/Sister Eubank around 20 years ago when she hired on with LDS Employment Resource Services in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Welfare Department. I still have the toy she gave me for our first child when we had my work baby shower. I was astounded when Sharon eventually became HEAD of LDS Charities. Not that she couldn't do it, but she was the first woman to do it. Not only that, she was also asked to serve as part of the general Relief Society presidency, the largest women's organization in the world! I don't know how she has time for both because I know how busy the head of LDS Charities is because I was their staff assistant for a while.

So, not only were there cool speakers at this function, there were even other incredible women there! I found a seat on the front row (why not?), and after a minute or so, a tall woman asked if the seat next to me was open. Well, guess who it was? Vauna Davis. You might not know who she is, but she headed up Women for Decency and is involved with the Utah Coalition Against Pornography and additional anti-pornography programs. Seven years ago I was pretty involved in stuff and had actually volunteered to do Women for Decency's Pinterest page... well, it didn't last long, but I had an e-mail to show Vauna about it, lol. I, of course knew that she also knew my friends Michelle and Polly because of this work.

I'd seen a message that Sharlee Glenn was going to be there, too, and hoped to meet her. I hope you know who she is! Does MWEG - Mormon Women for Ethical Government ring a bell? This is what she had in the New York Times that very day: https://www.nytimes.com/…/opin…/mormons-religion-trump.html… Not only did I meet her, but she also introduced me to another founding member of MWEG, Linda Kimball.

Then I walked over to say hello to the Big Ocean Women Ladies, including Carol Allen and Ann Takasaki, who I had the opportunity to go with to part of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women 5 years ago (which I never even wrote about on here). While chatting with the Big Ocean ladies, I met another woman, whose name I can't remember, who's involved with Days for Girls, another fantastic organization!

And to top it all off, one of the sponsors was MX, the company my husband worked for for around 7 months last year.

I don't know how many more amazing women were in that room, but I'm sure there were many, and I felt totally honored to be in their presence. I even got a little choked up about it on the drive home. There was real power in that room.

I'm not going to write a big summary, but Valerie Hudson talked about her new book The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide. She spoke a little about how the common measurements of literacy, participation in the labor force, and parliamentary representation are not real indicators of women's empowerment in life, but it's more about:
  • How much say does a woman have about getting married? How old is she when she is married?
  • How much say does a woman have within her marriage?
  • What types of property and inheritance rights do women have?
  • Are there are inequities in family law, such as in matters of divorce and child custody?
  • Is marriage patrilocal? Are brideprice or dowry paid? Is polygyny or co-[sorry, it got cut out of my picture] marriage prevalent?
  • Does the society view domestic violence and femicide as normal, even expected?
  • Is rape treated as a property crime?
It became very clear that even though some countries educate their women and get them involved in government, if they're not treated well on the home-front, all the education and government participation means nothing; the women are still trapped. Many of the things Trump does and says toward women does not create a secure feeling for women, and I don't think his example helps men in our country treat women better.

At the end of the lectures, someone mentioned that we need more women in Utah politics, and I thought, but if they're happy where they are because they're treated well, does it make a difference? Maybe they feel fairly represented, and that's fine. It reminds me of that quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "Let me tell you something Toula; the man is the head, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants." Maybe more women have that kind of influence than we know. But heck, if you're a woman and want to get into politics, more power to you! I mean, GO JAN GARBETT! She's a great lady just like the ones mentioned above. I've met her. But, if you're happy where you are, and fairly treated, you may as well enjoy it, AND keep on making progress in your own circles as you see fit.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Girl with the Seven Names

Yesterday I finished The Girl with the Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee while on the way back from St. George. She is a North Korean defector who originally didn't intend to defect. This story has similarities to Where the Wind Leads by Vinh Chung, but it's not quite as exciting, and there aren't quite so many miracles, but oh so interesting to learn more about life in North Korea! I need to go look up her TEd talk now!

And a few quotes and thoughts:
"She liked to dress well because she thought this made up for plain and ordinary looks." (Chapter 1)
Perhaps I ought to dress better to make up for my plain and ordinary looks? I do try to smile to make up for my plain and ordinary looks, but my plain and ordinary personality causes me to wear generally plain and ordinary clothes. I did a research paper once on how better looking/better dressed people get treated better. but I'm still pretty plain and ordinary.
"If a couple loved each other too much, it would condense all the affection that should last a lifetime into too short a period and one of them would die young." (Chapter 1)
Oh that's a disheartening belief!

The birth of Kim Jong Il:
"His birth was foretold by miraculous signs in the heavens: a double rainbow over Mount Pectu, swallows singing songs of praise with human voices, and the appearance of a bright new star in the sky." (Chapter 4)
It's interesting that he would choose similarities to the signs of Christ's birth. Maybe that's why he didn't want them knowing anything of Christianity because they'd see that he copied parts of the signs of Christ's birth. It's like he thought of himself as a combination of Christ, Santa Claus, and an Egyptian pharoah. The author points out later in the book, that the only person with real freedom in North Korea is the ruler, not the people.

"Women had to be more careful than men in their attitude toward everything in life." (Chapter 17) Sad, but true.

The name she got when she was engaged to someone she didn't want to be engaged to: "My new name meant: the person who respects elders and makes a good wife by following her husband and listening really well to him." (Chapter 22) How insulting!

Lee experienced miracles in her life. A train worker helped them get away from another worker, and in a culture where people often turn each other in to authorities for crimes, no other passengers on the train exposed her hiding family (Chapter 6). In chapter 45, when Lee is helping her mother and brother defect, while in transport, after openly speaking Korean with one another, they are stopped by an officer at a checkpoint, and her brother and mother pretend to be deaf and mute and no one turns them in! In Chapter 48, Dick from Australia miraculously comes to her aid. He gives her money, lets her stay in his guest house, and accompanies her to the jail. She hadn't experienced such kindness with no strings attached. She says "Random acts of kindness had been so rare that they'd stick in my memory. . . . He showed me that there was another world where strangers help strangers for no other reason than that it is good to do so. . . .  From the day I met him, the worlds was a less cynical place. I started feeling warmth for other people. This seemed so natural, and yet I'd never felt it before."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Girl Power from Where the Crawdads Sing

Yes, I've been listening to books lately. My friends have a book club that I don't really go to, but lately since my youngest is in preschool, I've been trying to listen to some of them so that I won't feel like such an intruder if I do decide to stop in at one of their meetings. Where the Crawdads Sing was good like many of the others, but I think I prefer nonfiction. It's hard spending so much time on anything not to have it be really inspirational. Anyway, I liked this empowering line from Chapter 17.

Upon entering womanhood: "...this ain't nothing to be ashamed of. It ain't no curse like folks say. This here's the starting of all life and only a woman can do it. You're a woman now, baby!"

I beg to differ about the curse part, but this is a job only we women can do, and I liked that.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Relationship Advice from the Tattooist of Auschwitz

I finished listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz the other day. It's not a very long book, and about half way through, well even in the beginning, I decided I didn't really like it. I couldn't really stomach it. My patience for these things must have expired in my tween/teen years when I read all the youth books about World War II at the local library. I was annoyed with The Tattooist of Auschwitz because how on Earth could there even be a romance in a concentration camp??? What an oxymoron. It was so unrealistic. Then, I looked into it to see how much of it is based on true events.

If you didn't know, the author interviewed Lali/Lale to make his life history, but wrote it into a screenplay, then the book. So, it's probably more true than not, but you never know how accurate your memory is, but I guess to Lali/e, it is for the most part how he remembered it, accurate or not. So, I finished the book. Of course it was horrible and uncomfortable in parts, but I loved that Lali/e loved women as people. I loved that he adored his to-be wife.
After breaking up their fights his mother would take him aside and explain to him that he would find someone else to love and care for. He never wanted to believe her. As he became a young man, he would run home to his mother each day for the hugged greeting, the feel of her comforting body, her soft skin, the kisses she planted on his forehead. "What can I do to help you?" He would say. "You're such a good boy. You will make someone a wonderful husband some day." "Tell me what to do to be a good husband. I don't want to be like Papa. He doesn't make you smile. He doesn't help you. . . . I want the girl I marry to like me, to be happy with me. . . ." "You must first learn to listen to her, even if you are tired. Never be too tired to listen to what she has to say. Learn what she likes, and more importantly what she doesn't like. When you can, give her little treats: flowers, chocolates. Women like these things. . . ."  (Chapter 19, around 4:56)
Growing up, it was a very loving family life. The devotion my parents had to each other was total and uncompromising. When many in their circle of friends started getting divorced, I went to my mother and asked how she and my father had managed to stay together for so many years. Her response was very simple: "Nobody is perfect. Your father has always taken care of me since the first day we met in Berkenau. I know he is not perfect, but I also know he will always put me first." (Gary, their only child, Afterward, around 7:21)
And a bonus, but about optimism:
How can you just pack and sing? With a big smile on her face she said that when you spend years not knowing if in five minutes time you'll be dead, there is not much you can't deal with. She said, as long as you are alive and healthy, everything will work out for the best. (Said to Gary by his mother, Gita, when his father had to close his business and their house was auctioned, Afterward, around 7:24)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Self Image

I was deleting screen shots on my phone the other day while watching Willy Wonka with the kids and ran across quite had few little gems about self image; I guess it's a theme in my life, just like most women.
Because Satan is miserable without a body, he wants us to be miserable because of ours. - President Russell M. Nelson, "We Can Do Better and Be Better," April General Conference, 2019
. . . [A]re you more interested in dressing and grooming your body to appeal to the world than to please God?" - President Russell M. Nelson, "We Can Do Better and Be Better," April General Conference, 2019
If Satan can get us to fixate on our bodies, either in vanity or self loathing, then he has caused us to misunderstand completely the role our bodies play in salvation. - Tessa Meyer Santiago/LDS Living
Manage physical desires in a healthy way. - Youth Guidebook, Physical Goal Ideas, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension. - Prince Harry after Meghan Markle gave birth to their son
When we think we need more self-discipline, we usually need more self-love." - Tara Mohr 
Related to that last one, I didn't save it, but someone posted on Facebook recently about the myth of self-care. It basically said that rather than turning to pampering yourself, you just need to turn to God. Then, someone posted in the comments a link to something else saying that rather than feeling like you need to keep up with the Jones's, and needing all that self care because keeping up with the Jones' is so much work, maybe you just need to let go and give yourself a break! That's a total paraphrase of two posts/articles, btw. Anyway, good food for thought.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

I Read The Magnolia Story!

While browsing through my library app, I saw that The Magnolia Story by Chip and JoAnna Gaines was available. I can't say I've ever watched the show (maybe in a hotel room on a trip once, well part of it? Maybe an advertisement for it?), and I think I went to the Web site once? But even then, I oddly do know who they are and what they're about.

This was a fun, short read (well, listen). I loved how they openly talked of God and faith and listening to that Still, Small Voice. I was so impressed with Jo when she felt it was time to stay home with her babies and she DID!

I related so much to Jo's conservative personality and cracked up over Chip's craziness. My husband has a similar personality, but as a software engineer, rather than a DIY/RE/whatever guy, if that's even possible.

I love that they work so well as a team on their projects. I love projects too, but sadly, my husband DOES NOT! He is not handy and does not want to be. We do not work well together like Chip and JoAnna. I had to birth a son and raise him to work on projects with me. We work well together.

I was thinking about Fixer Upper and wondered why so many people are drawn to it. I wonder if its success is because the Gaines' are willing to share their faith along with their story. Earlier in the year, I listened to The Impossible (=>Breakthrough, the movie), the one where the boy falls through the ice and is DEAD, but he comes back to life after his mother's great faith and prayers. With that story, I also wondered if their family experienced such great miracles because God knew they would share them, and it would be a witness that would draw more people to Him.

And lastly, I loved this quote at the end:
Being on a farm is something we both dreamed about, and in the hustle and bustle of our busy life, when I come back here to this place I love it always takes me back to the basics. . . . There's something about doing things the way our ancestors used to do them that puts your heart back into the rhythm of this thing called life. It's why I think cooking for my family is important. It's why I love making things with my hands, designing with my hands, and gardening with my hands. (Chapter 15, 4:49) 
I agree that doing things with your hands keeps it so real! I feel a connection with those who have gone on before when I do things how they did it. I think it's a way to stay grounded.