Monday, April 20, 2015

Let's Play Pretend

I was suddenly reminded of this blog the other day. Someone came by to check out my apartment and mentioned they had stalked me via the interwebs and found this. I was a little taken aback as I'm pretty sure I've only written 4 times in the last like, 2 years, but whatever.

I've actually wanted to post about something recently.

Many of you may have seen Kate Parker's photography, specifically her photos "Strong is the New Pretty." When I first saw it a week or two ago I had the most visceral reaction to it - I found myself getting super teary and emotional (which, if you know me, is a big deal). The more I thought about why the more clear it became. The photos were of these strong, uninhibited, beautiful girls who were completely free and filled with life, and I realized I had lost that feeling and desperately missed it.

I've always been one who seemed confident, happy, and uninhibited. And for the most part, I am. But over the last few years I (and I'm sure a lot of people once they graduate from college and officially become 'adults') became weighed down with responsibilities and the pressure to conform to a societal idea of adulthood. Part of that included the kind of photos I posted on social media, especially considering I was in a highly scrutinized line of work.

But when I saw these photos, I realized something. If I have children, I don't want them to look back at my photos and see the scrubbed selfies and perfectly posed photos with celebrities, candidates, and friends, where I smile pristinely and politely as I hold in the loud laughter that causes my eyes to disappear and my chin to draw into my neck. I don't want them to think "wow, she was pretty, look at how you can't see laugh lines or a double chin." I want them to look at me and think "wow...she looks happy. She lived life to the fullest and she enjoyed every second of it."

I, like most people my age, am guilty of taking photo after photo and photo until I finally find one where I feel like that bad hair day or my huge arms or the love handles or the blemish on my cheek are all properly hidden and the light, angle, and filter are doing the rest to hide whatever other thing I hate about myself that day. But you know what think when I look at those photos? I think "wow...I look pretty...it took me forever to get that shot." And then whatever joy I was feeling about the photo is depleted and tainted by how much work it took, as well as reminding me how I just don't look that way in real life.

So I made a decision. I probably started it a week ago. I decided that instead of focusing on photos where I looked good, I would make it a point to take and post photos whenever I was feeling particularly happy or joyous. Photos that my future daughters could look back on and think "man...my mom is awesome. Look at how strong, uninhibited, and beautiful she is. She is completely free and filled with life."

I've made it a point to only post real, authentic photos for the last week. And let me tell you, it's made a huge, huge difference in how I see and listen to myself.


This was the first photo I took with this new mindset. To me it marks a minor shift in my life. It's not big enough to call it a turning point...it's more like one of those places where the road adds another lane and then that lane slowly veers off by a small degree to begin with but ultimately takes you to a different place. This is my slowly veering. From now on I'm not going to see myself in terms of how I look to myself from the flipped side of my camera phone. The things I want to remember are feelings. The feeling I have when I wake up in the morning and see a 6 inch layer of fluffy snow on the ground, or when I laugh so hard playing Cards Against Humanity with my friends that I can't breathe, or when I start photo-bombing politicians at events, or even when my friend and I are dancing and doing the moonwalk through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store. These are the moments when I feel giddy and the most like myself. And these are the moments I want to preserve not only for others to view later, but for me to view in the not too distant future when I maybe need to be reminded about what's important in life and who I am. Because the me in these photos is real, and it is me, unedited and uninhibited. And I am strong, and that strength gives me life and a beauty no filter ever could.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Midnight Thoughts for a Sunday Evening

I've had lots of thoughts swirling around in my brain recently and I've wanted to get them out. So once again, we engage in list making, though this list may be annotated :)

I got a tattoo recently
It's a small treble clef that's about two inches behind my left ear. I will post a picture as soon as I take a good one. It has personal significance to me as well as to my relationship with God. While I was raised to be very anti-tattoo (and I oddly enough still am anti-tattoo in a vast majority of cases; how's that for hypocritical for you?) I mulled over it for roughly 3 months before I pulled the trigger, and I love it. While reactions have varied and I've allowed myself to feel saddened or guilty because of people's reactions, I've yet to feel guilty about the actual tattoo. Which is good, because it's obviously here to stay.

I'm an extrovert - except when I'm outside
I love being outside in nature. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you'll know that I feel like nature is God's love note to his children, and I never feel closer to him than I do when I'm outside. Also, if you know me at all, you know I LOVE people and am basically your textbook extrovert and dislike do anything by myself. However, the exception to that is being out in nature. I. Love. Nature. And I could spend hours in it by myself, just communing with Heavenly Father.

Modestly has been on my mind the last few weeks
Like, a lot. Again, modesty was a big thing for me while I was growing up. And while my idea of what modesty is has evolved and taken on different connotations, I still feel very strongly about its importance in society and in shaping both young men and women. And don't worry, I will most likely write a blog on this topic in the upcoming future (because I know we're all looking forward to another modesty discussion ;) )

Cutting people out of your life
My sister has spoken with me often about people who are in your "sphere of influence." I think it's something like roughly 10 people who are closest to you and have the power to influence you. I've been wrestling some pretty big spiritual and personal demons lately, and I've contemplated cutting people out of that sphere who cause me to question things that, up until now, I've taken for granted and received comfort from in my life. But I realized that doing so would just be avoiding the problem. If I'm not comfortable questioning things I consider to be truths, then I probably don't believe in them strongly enough to base a life off of.

Taking time off
I committed today to take time off. And not just "I'm shirking responsibilities and going out with friends spontaneously" time off. I'm committing to sit down for at least an hour once a week and read a book, watch a documentary, or just do something during which I am NOT ALLOWED to do anything else. This may sound simple, but seriously, I have the hardest time focusing on one thing and one thing only. Because of this, I find my ability to relax, think things through, and process information is decreasing. I am not okay with this, for reasons I think should be obvious. And actually, I think this is something everyone should strive to do in their lives. Basically just force themselves to stop for a second. We live such hectic lives nowadays, we take on so many projects and want to accomplish so much. What we don't realize is the frenetic pace that we plot can actually be detrimental to our overall productivity and happiness.

For the first time in roughly 5 years, I do not have a long-term life plan
It's stressing me out. Obviously, I haven't really followed any of those long-term plans, but at least I had them then, right?

Nymphadora Tonks
I just took this quiz a little while ago. I got Nymphadora Tonks, which made me unbelievably happy.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Sunday!!

Toodles!

-Jillian

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Judgey McJudgerson, my favorite hypocrite

Okay kids, hold onto your seats. I'm about to get on my soapbox. You have been warned.

*pulls soapbox out of back pocket, steps up on it, and clears throat*

I enjoy watching people. It helps me learn things about myself as well as about how the world works and how to better empathize with people. This pleasure I take in getting to understand people has led me on some crazy adventures, put me in some interesting situations, and has made me aware of some very human tendencies that seem to pervade all walks of life. We all have a tendency to hypocritically judge people. To highlight this, I want to point to one of the more divisive issues I've seen in the past few years - that of drinking the adult beverage commonly referred to as alcohol *cue dramatic music.*

Now, just as a point of reference, I have been on both sides of this divide. I have both been the non-drinker who didn't even go to bars and the drinker who had one (or more) drinks 4 or 5 time a week. I have also been right in the middle - the girl who goes to bars with friends, has a blast, and then soberly drives them home and makes sure they are taken care of.

But this is where the rub is. I will tell a little anecdote to highlight this odd judgmental hypocrisy.

Flashback: while driving one of my slightly inebriated friends home, he was introducing me to his (equally inebriated) brother who was also in the car with us. As we were pulling onto his street his brother goes "wait, you're Mormon?!" I nod and laugh, realizing he asked this because of the Y bumper sticker on the back of my car. My friend then leans over, rubs my head and goes "Yeah, but she drinks, she's a cool Mormon. Seriously. She's like no other Mormon you've met."

I realize he didn't mean this to be insulting and in fact probably meant this as a compliment, so I dropped him and his brother off without incident. But then I turned to my other friend in the car and unloaded on him.

"So...I realize he didn't mean anything by it, but what the hell? Would my personality and 'coolness' be inexplicably altered if I didn't drink? Did he not trust that I wasn't judging him before, but now that he's seen me drink he knows that I'm not?"

My friend then worked diligently to calm me down. I don't know if I explained my frustration and hurt well enough, so it only clearly it only sort of worked.

In hindsight though, I realize a lot of it has to do with the perception that Mormons (especially in Utah) are judgmental and close-minded to those whose actions contradict Mormon doctrine and culture (newsflash - that perception is unfortunately based on a certain modicum of reality), but I felt frustrated and hurt that that was the linchpin, the deciding factor on whether or not I was a "cool" Mormon - or even worse, that being Mormon was apparently a hugely deciding factor in whether a person would be friends with me; it was this factor, not that I consistently gave up sleep and down time on the weekends to spend time with friends, or that I offered on several occasions to pick them up at any time of day or night so they wouldn't have to hassle with walking home or getting a cab and that I was just as likely to get up and dance on the table while sober as they were while drunk or that I made an effort in my everyday interactions with people to be as accepting and loving as possible. No. It was that I was actually willing to drink and that I was a Mormon. For some reason that took my rebellion to a new level of bad-assness that was suddenly commendable; it made me being a Mormon palatable. I was also frustrated at the insinuation that before I started drinking I wasn't cool and that, likewise, my LDS friends who didn't drink weren't just as "cool" or accepting as I was.

"So what, then?" I asked my friend. "If I suddenly decide to stop drinking I'm no longer 'cool?"

I chaffed under this. I didn't like the idea that these people I considered to be my friends may not have accepted me until I started drinking and I especially hated the notion of having one or two life choices be the deciding factor on whether my friends accepted me for who I was or not. These same friends seemed to spit and hiss at those who did the same to them, yet there they were, doing it to me. If that had been turned on his head and I had introduced him to my sister or my friends by explaining "No, he's not LDS, but he doesn't drink, so he's cool! He's not like any non-Mormon you know!" I'm sure he would have been just as put off as I was.

Yet I've seen that conversation happen before. It's seen in the exclamations or seeming rationalizations of "He's not LDS, but he's a really cool guy," or "he's basically a dry Mormon, he should hang out with us more!"

It seems like damned if you do, damned if you don't. For this reasons, a majority of my friends and family doesn't know that I've drunk alcohol. That secrecy has almost nothing to do with my own personal feelings about these choices - in fact, if any person were to ask whether I was drinking or not I would admit it with little to no shame. However, I hesitate to tell certain people about this because how some of them would react.

A lot of my Mormon friends are not aware of my drinking phases, mostly because the few that I have told have not reacted well. I remember even mentioning to a friend once that I went to a bar - just that I went there, and I didn't even drink - and she responded with "Oh...well...I guess you're from Oregon and didn't grow up in Utah, so it's probably different there than here."

I'm still not entirely sure what she meant by that.

But again, it's not like I tell all my friends who drink that I'm drinking. Some seem to take it upon themselves to "convert me" to drinking now that I've seen the light and want to get me smashed all the time so they can have the joy of turning a Mormon.

I appreciate that about as much as I appreciate the LDS friends for judging me.

So what's the point of this rant? I think the point is that verse in Matthew saying "Judge not lest ye be judged." And most importantly, perhaps we need to stop looking at actions by others in terms of "good" and "bad" or that knowing one or two things about a person suddenly changes who they are as well as their worth. If you enjoy spending time with a person you enjoy spending time with them. So what if they did drugs 5 years ago or were at a bar last weekend or always do 100% of their home teaching and attend all 3 hours of church every single Sunday. That doesn't change who they are now or how they make you feel. If who they are is a good person and how they make you feel is happy and a good version of yourself, go for it.

I'm not saying this should make you change your standards or put yourself in situations where you feel unsafe. By all means, if you don't want to date someone who drinks, don't date someone who drinks. Likewise, if you don't want to date someone who won't watch R-rated movies, that's your prerogative. But maybe the reason you feel uncomfortable at a bar is because you look down on the people drinking. Or part of the reason you feel uncomfortable in church is that you're judging the people there for buying into a religion you don't agree with.

And that's where I have the problem. Because doing that raises your knowledge, self-worth, and self-discovery above theirs while diminishing their worth and the possibility that they could touch your life in a good, meaningful way. You don't know why that person is drinking at the bar, nor do you know why that person is so compelled to be an active part of their church. Just as your life has directed you on a specific path with specific actions, their life has directed them on theirs. And perhaps if we want people to accept us for our choices in life we should work on being more accepting of others ourselves. After all, you can't demand respect until you give it. 

*steps off soapbox*

Sunday, February 09, 2014

My Own Personal PostSecret

(Fact: I stole this from the PostSecret website)

Here's the deal. I saw this today and it resonated with me. My life is a little screwed up right now. And by that I mean more so than normal. I've felt myself overcompensating in my life for the last few years both spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and in certain ways, physically. I'm still not sure what to make of that, whether it's a good or bad thing, something I should keep up, or something I need to quit entirely. Yet the fact remains I am making choices that would probably count as me "screwing up" pretty hard in "other areas of my life." I appear to be a fairly well put together human being/contributing member of society on the surface - good job, good social life, good future prospects. But what a lot of people may not be aware of is I'm also making some "bad choices," and these "bad choices" may not just be a "phase" that apparently "everyone goes through" and eventually grows out of. I mean, it might be something I leave behind, but it's also just as likely something that I stop compensating for and learn to accept and fully incorporate into my life instead. 

I, personally, have mixed feelings about these choices. One thing I do know though is that when I actually stop to think about it, I don't actually feel bad enough about them to stop or even apologize for them, nor do I have the emotional energy to do so right now. However, I do know that I am not harming anyone and it's yet to be seen that I'm actually harming myself in any lasting way.

But I am also fully aware that I'm not entirely sure how God feels about these choices. I know he loves me, regardless of whether my choices are good, bad, or compensating. But as far as he accepts and understands them as something necessary for my future progression or is just waiting for them to pass with patience? We'll see as time progresses, I suppose. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

I've made my semi-annual trek back to La Grande. It was odd, on my way here I was thinking about the (literally) hundred or so times that I've driven that stretch from Ontario to La Grande and how every single time, without fail, one of my favorite things is to check and watch as the clock on my phone switched time zones. It's a little tricky as it never happens in the exact same place, nor does it always happen before or after the sign declaring you've changed time zones. And while I know it's silly, it's something I look forward to every time it happens. There's just something strangely satisfying about seeing your clock add or take away an hour in the blink of an eye. Especially while driving to La Grande, I get this odd satisfaction out of reliving the same hour twice; tonight it was the 10 o'clock hour. I had two 10:30s tonight.

While I don't expect people to understand exactly why I find this so wonderfully fulfilling (I don't quite understand it myself) I'm sure there is someone else out there who can relate to that feeling.

Toodles!

-Jillian

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Awesome Moment of the Day, January 31

So, since I can't necessarily talk about my internship, instead I'm going to share something me and my housemates have begun to call the "Favorite Moment of the Day." Essentially, we share our - you guessed it - favorite moments from the day. This isn't like a good news minute where people try and find something that everyone can ooh and awww over; these are stories that highlight how ridiculous our lives are and show that you can have extraordinary moments in an ordinary life.

For instance:

I tend to butt-dial my parents from time to time. It's completely unintentional (hence butt-dial), and now that I'm three hours ahead of time it's a bit of an issue. This morning I accidentally dialed my dad at 7:30am my time, so 4:30am my parents time. I ended up hanging up and figured my dad would shoot me a text or call me when he woke up around 11 or so my time.

I get to work and, as always turn off my phone. We eventually go on a tour around 3 in the afternoon, and as we leave the Staff Assistant, Meghan, makes sure I have my phone as this was the first time Thomas (the other intern) and I had been let out on our own for a tour. I happily turn the volume up on my phone, hoping I get a call from my office as I have a special ringtone (It's Beyonce's "The Star Spangled Banner.")

As we're bringing the former Oregon Legislator and a former Senate staffer through the little House rotunda, we pass the Speaker's office. As Thomas starts in on a story about some Oregon constituents running into the Speaker, my phone starts going off. But it's not my office. Instead, this song echoes through the House rotunda:


Yup. It's fine. I'm a actually a 14 year old girl.

It was then that my father decided to call. Luckily I managed to silence it pretty quickly and the entire party chose to ignore what happened. But still, it was a pretty awesome moment.

-Jillian

Friday, January 13, 2012

The City that Runs on Escalators and Coffee...

So far in DC I have:

Been hit in the head with bubble gum

Started a call and response during a parade in the southeast quadrant/ghetto of DC

Fallen down a flight of stairs

Lost my metro card/had my metro card stolen

Wore patriotic beads in a parade

Seen some unattractive transvestites

Gotten lost in the Rayburn Building tunnels and, subsequently the Longworth and Cannon tunnels - several times

Cried in the American history museum

Seen a part of the World Trade Centers, part of the Berlin Wall, and the hat Lincoln wore when he was assassinated

Corrected my supervisor on the founding of the United States

Failed at making copies

Sorted through 200 faxes

Visited the Washington and Lincoln monuments

Explored the WWII memorial

Learned the Smithsonian is not, in fact, one museum, but rather several different museums

Visited the White House

Toured the Library of Congress

Tripped several times while walking down the street - on nothing, or sometimes a stray brick.

Worn heels EVERY DAY at work

Eaten at Georgetown Cupcakes; and yes, that is the Georgetown Cupcakes from the TLC show DC Cupcakes

Visited the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

Had a wonderful dinner where I was able to socialize with my office

And so much more...

Needless to say it's been a very, very busy 9 days, and I am so excited for the next 13 weeks!

I would like to apologize; my ability to blog is limited by the fact I am working with government and even being lectured by governmental figures. We've been given explicit information that we are not to talk or share what we learn or discuss at our jobs or are lectures.

Alright, I've got to get up in 7 hours, so I'm heading to bed. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook for some more pictures and updates!

Toodles!

-Jillian

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just for the record...

Mixing cough syrup with codeine and Mt. Dew is not the best plan when you have stomach ulcers.

Just in case any of you were tempted to try, I thought I'd give you the heads up.

Toodles!

-Jillian

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving update

Well, I have an upper-respiratory tract infection and the doctor is pretty sure I have ulcers. More on that later.

As of now, I have completed (to the point of needing maybe another hour of work to perfect) 2 papers.

Before Thanksgiving, I have yet to complete: an 18 page rough draft (again, hopefully needing only 4 or 5 hours of perfecting), a 12 page paper, and a 5 page paper.

During Thanksgiving, I need to complete: a 5-page paper on an interview that has yet to take place, an 8 page biography, and an 8 page book analysis.

That sounds a bit intense for 5 days, I know. But I think I can do it.

After all that, I only have another round of edits on the 18 pager (this is my Senior Capstone, in case you didn't know), another round on my already finished paper, and another 12 pager.

Oh. And finals.

I feel like I should be more stressed about this than I am. Maybe I'm just over it. Or maybe I'm just thinking about all the small things I've accomplished in the last few days and am feeling pretty good about myself. Who knows. Either way, 6 weeks and I will be done with my last semester at BYU. It's a little freaky.

Toodles!

-Jillian

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

This is what I feel like right now...

However, because I am a student, this is what I look like right now...


Yup...apparently it's that time of year where my body decides it hates me. It all started Sunday evening. I was eating fajitas at the Macaroni Grill family dinner when I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. Not horribly so, just a uneasy to the point that I put my tortilla filled with happiness back down on my plate. I went to bed that night thinking I'd feel better in the morning.

I did. Sorta. My stomach was still a little uneasy, but I blamed that on the ulcer's that I've suspected I have. However, as the day progressed and Monday night rolled around my stomach was rolling too. I had had amazing plans to be productive and get a lot of work done. Instead, I spent a lot of it trying to figure out how to position myself so I would be in the least amount of pain and typing fairly nonsensical things in lieu of strong arguments in a paper. I didn't end up falling asleep until 1am, hoping I'd feel better enough in the morning to make it to my 8am class.

Again, this didn't happen. I woke up a little before 7, and while my stomach was hurting as badly, it was still an unhappy little organ. So, knowing my friend Madeline could give me notes, I went back to sleep for a few hours, knowing I'd have to wake up for a phone interview later on.

When I woke up at 9, my stomach felt, if not better, at least less shaky. I went to Smith's and bought some ginger ale and crackers and began my productivity. That productivity lasted through an interview, class, readings, bibliography writings, and a fun break for Crazy Bread, until around 9 pm. Suddenly my head started hurting. No, not hurting, THROBBING. It started in my neck, just below and behind my ears and moved all the way up to the sides. Whenever I moved it got worse. My chest started randomly feeling hollow and I started coughing - which did NOT help the headache. My stomach was still feeling a little solid, though uneasiness had started to seep in as well. I gave in at 11, gave up trying to do work, and went to bed.

Waking up today, my stomach felt pretty good - not perfect, but at least I didn't feel the need to stop moving. Well, I did feel that need, but only because anytime I did anything to get my heart pumping, I the giant hammers in my head start pounding away again. This has continued through most of the day. However, there's very little I can do about it.

I have no idea what's wrong with me, but it's starting to piss me off, mostly because I just don't have time for it. SERIOUSLY. Because I've got a lot of shiz going on, and I CAN get it all done, assuming I power through.

So you know what, body? I WILL finish that paper tonight, and I will finish grading those papers and re-take that quiz. And tomorrow I will research and write the outline and write my past-participant interview paper. And on Friday I will code and go to the meeting and work on my paper and go to work, and this weekend I WILL write my 20 page paper, therefore freeing up time to write my Argentine History paper next week. I CAN GET IT ALL DONE!

I CAN HAVE IT ALL!!!!!

Please note that the above is a really awesome 30 Rock reference. Imagine Tina Fey saying that while showing a meatball sandwich into her face, which is covered with tomato sauce. Classic!

Thank you.

-Jillian