Yes, I'm writing about this.  I don't really want to, but writing is how I organize my thoughts.  I'm tired of reading things about Kate Kelly's excommunication and Mormon feminism, I'm so exhausted but my voice matters. My experience matters. This subject matters. I've actualy tried to write about my feelings before but it always stays in my draft folder.  There are several reasons.  One, the subject is so large that it's hard to organize my writing.  A blog post is not enough.  A dissertation or book of memoirs maybe, not a blog post.  Also, I'm afraid to share my feelings. Something positive that's come out of this whole church/feminism/ Ordain Women drama is that people are talking about it.  I'm not as afraid to be me.

I have to preface this with the fact that I am a woman of faith.  I am obedient.  I want to serve. I do have doubts, but I also have a lot of hope.  There are so many things I hope are true. My religion has been front and center in my life for my whole life.  I have had many spiritual experiences. I've felt so much peace.  I feel like it's in my DNA. I feel the strength of my ancestors who viewed the prophet Joseph Smith's body after he was killed, walked across the plains to find peace, and built up a life on the beautiful land in Utah. My grandmother, a temple matron, would sit me in front of the mirrors in her bathroom and teach me about eternity. I spent countless mornings snuggling next to my mother in her bed while she read to me from the scriptures. I am invested.  This is my path, but I don't always fit the mold of the Mormon woman (spoiler alert, there isn't a mold).

There is also pain in the church for me. I thought I'd try to explain. I know a lot of people have a hard time understanding.  I'm not sure I know all the reasons myself.  I understand things in imagery, and last night I had several images run through my mind as I was trying to fall asleep.  It helped me to understand what I was feeling. Just because I struggle with these issues doesn't mean that I think everyone should see it my way.  I'm actually jealous of women in the church that love the way things are set up.  I envy people that never doubt.  This is my trial, though.  It does not make me less of a Mormon.

I need to preface this with, I am a feminist and have been for almost as long as I can remember.  If you are surprised I am a feminist, you might not fully understand what a feminist is.  Actually, when I hear someone say, "I'm not a feminist" I am so baffled.  I just thought everyone would think men and women are equal (I did not say the same) and should be afforded the same opportunities, respect and value.  When I was young, I was warned about being a "women's libber".  I was told to stay away from feminism. There was shame associated with it, but once I got to college it was a feast. I learned so much.  I had the support of wonderful professors and had so much to read and think about.  I had private conversations in offices with wonderful women who instructed me and taught me with love.  They were also woman of faith. I felt like this was my awakening.  I learned language to explain feelings that I have always had. But with this awakening came troubling feelings that I didn't know how to reconcile.

For a while, I felt so much confusion and sadness surrounding polygamy in the church.  No matter how people tried to explain it, the thought of a woman being required (for salvation) to share her sexual partner was so degrading. Women seemed to be given as rewards, prizes to men. I remember one evening I was driving to a friend's cabin with Willie and two other friends.  It was a long drive and it was snowing.  We were in a deep, safe conversation and this is the first time I vocalized that I felt like God must not love me as much as a man if he and his prophets and church treated women like this.  I finally realized why it hurt so bad. I felt unloved by God.

My next moment of realization was in the temple a year or so later.  I was sitting on a bench reading in the scriptures.  I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants about polygamy. It was always right there, bothering me, hurting me.  Then I had a moment of realization where God and the church separated. I could see that the church was not always right.  Humans make mistakes.  Understanding is limited. I didn't have to have answers to everything.  I didn't need to explain everything. This was the start of my managing the paradox of a human organization and an eternal God and where I fit in.  God did love me as much as a man.  If it didn't seem like it in the church, then I had to first believe God and then forgive the humans running his church.

That was about 14 years ago.  For the most part, I have been so happy in the church. I have had wonderful leaders.  I have loved my bishops and my mission president and my Stake Presidents. I have been respected and given opportunities to learn and serve.  I have a husband who is my partner.  There is no presiding in our home, just partnering.  But there has always been this yearning for female voice in the church. What about Heavenly Mother?  Do we not have any information about her because she doesn't exist? Some people say there are many Heavenly Mothers (something I do not believe).  Why aren't we seeking more knowledge about her? Why are there only men on the stand?  We seldom hear women's voices in general conference. I started to feel a great void for the voice of women in the church.  This is not anger or power grabbing.  It is sorrow.  We have inherited patriarchy.  It's everywhere, not just in the church, but in the church it is solid.  It is so strong. I don't place blame but I yearn for change. I don't think having one gender holding the power (spiritual, administrative, decision making, financial, doctrinal) is beneficial to anyone.  

Then Ordain Women came on the scene.  I had never seriously thought about women's ordination. It was too foreign. It was too extreme. Then once the subject started to come up more, it took about 15 minutes of seriously thinking about it and my mind opened up.  I saw myself standing in the circle when my babies were blessed.  I saw me inviting my mother to join in the circle.  I saw me administering to Willie when he was in need, something so personal and wonderful.  I saw sister missionaries finding joy bringing the converts they love into the waters of baptism.  I saw sisters from the Relief Society giving blessings to women about to give birth. I saw Young Women blessing and passing the sacrament. I saw women's voices being recorded in the scriptures and in our lesson manuals. I saw women speaking in general conference with stories and experiences that I recognized, teaching and expounding doctrine.  I saw women on the stand. I felt a wholeness.  I saw a true partnership of the men and women in the church. Just the possibility of it healed me. Just imagining it gave me so much hope. I realized that what I was feeling was a righteous desire.  I was okay that we weren't there yet, but I hoped for change.  

I have admitted that the approach of Ordain Women made me uncomfortable, but silently I felt guilty for Kate Kelly taking the fall for opening such a wonderful conversation and giving so much hope.  I loved her for it and every time someone spoke unkindly about her or Ordain Women, it felt like they were saying the same to me. It came up so much at church.  It hurt and I tried to defend her.  I tried to defend us.  Part of me can't believe she'd even try to rock the boat. You can't do that! Another part of me realized that this was the only way to be heard.  It was the only way for us to start talking.  Then when she was excommunicated, my hope was gone.  Then came pain and a lot of tears. I had a false hope. I thought things could change.  I thought the brethren would pray about women's ordination or at least try to listen.  I thought other members of the church would see what I saw. Instead, they cast her out. 

People can write lengthly explanations about why Kate should have been excommunicated or how she was wrong, or how she deserved it, but all I feel is the loss of my hope.  People can speculate about why women don't hold the priesthood, but nothing feels right to me. Now I have to raise a daughter and explain to her that God does love her as much as a man and she has great potential as a complex, multifaceted daughter of God even when it doesn't always feel like it in our church.  

Lula's true love is outdoor exploration.  When we come home from anywhere, she is so sad when I make her come inside.  We need to get our fence back up so she can spend more time in the front yard.  Today she played in the sprinklers with Wyatt and Hank.  


A Post

I haven't posted forever.  I'm not totally sure why. I've been working in the evenings a lot then a lot of things happen and I feel like I need more time to write about everything.  I'm breaking the silence with some pictures.  Then I need to write about so many things.






Pies

The night before Thanksgiving I made pies and I asked Willie to take this picture of me to match the one I have of my Grandma on my picture wall.  It's not very often that we have a whole, picturesque pie.  If I waited for morning for better light, there might have have been a piece missing.  I'm wearing one of her aprons in the picture. While I was cooking, I listened to a radio story about making pies.  It talked about women learning to make pies from their mothers and grandmothers.  My grandma was really into pies and I learned a lot from her.

I miss my grandma.  She's been gone for about 14 years.  She was such a strong influence for good in my life.  She worked tirelessly to keep her family close together. I have many memories of dinners and holidays. I want so much to be like her. I haven't turned out to be much of an entertainer, but hopefully I'm like her in other ways.  I do know how to make a good pies, though,and I think she'd be proud.


I have had a really busy few weeks, like so busy.  That's a post for another time. I'm taking a break right now and sitting with my feet up and posting some of these great pictures.  

My friend, Bri Lamkin, came to take some pictures of me and Lula.  I've been feeling some mourning about Lula being my last baby.  I really wanted some pictures taken of the two of us.  Time is going so fast.  I love how these turned out.  Bri did such a great job dealing with Lula being on the go the whole time.  She is a baby of action and she does not like to be still.  

Lula has brought so much happiness to our family.  I feel like a lot of my pregnancy/birth/post-pardum wounds have been healed this time around.  I'm really embracing the happiness and it feels wonderful.



This is what I said to Willie tonight and realized I had said the same thing almost every night for the last two weeks.  He said, "Maybe you are sick".  That changed everything. If I'm sick, this isn't bad at all. I have a bit of a sore throat, my lungs have been burning, and I'm really tired.  I think I'm probably suffering more from being under-slept (from Willie and I staying up recklessly late) than this bug, but since I'm "sick", I decided not to do anything right now but sit on the couch and enjoy myself.

Since I'm sick. I'm also not going to organize my writing very well.  Sorry.  This is going to be one of those update-ish type of posts.  I have to live up this sick thing since I'll probably start feeling better soon.

Lula

This baby can do no wrong.  We are all in baby heaven. She is the sweetest creature on earth and adorable.  There are pictures below to prove it.  She is getting around like crazy.  Every day she is getting somewhere new. She climbed up on the fireplace hearth and got a handful of ashes.  She is now very proud to climb over me when I'm lying on the floor. She is so curious and driven.  Her behavior, so far, is just like Hank and Wyatt. I can picture her dreaming about exploring when she's sleeping then waking up and being ready to go again.  Actually, after she wakes up, she'll sit on my lap for a few minutes then wiggle to get back on the floor.

She's resourceful.  My floors have never been cleaner since she wants to eat everything, but she spends all day looking for choking hazards to put in her mouth.  She has an obsession with legos and because of hank's droppings, I often have to take them away from her and she's devastated.  She lifts up mats looking for little things and reaches under the fridge.  The is a woman of action.

She's getting her first tooth and we all love it.  We squeal when we get a peak and we see more of it every day.  Wyatt, hank and I tried to get some gum pictures (below) but couldn't get her to smile much.  She was giving us more of a regal, collected look.  She has graduated from the baby section of the gym daycare to the toddler section where she can crawl around and play with toys.

She has a little cold right now, like her mom, and I can hear her heavy breathing through the baby monitor.





Tomorrow I'm going to take pictures for a soap post.  I have been meaning to get my soap in for a good shoot in the studio. I love soap making.  It needs it's own post.


I love these pictures of wyatt and Hank.  They were totally underexposed which is so me. I pick up a camera and don't remember what film is in it and just guess.  I guessed wrong on this one but look at those faces.  This is real life.  Wyatt is taunting Hank and they are laughing.  These two are so great. 



This year we had another Halloween fire and pot luck on 17th Street. I'm so glad we did.  We had it last year in front of the Noble's house and they decided to come back this year and we did it in front of our house.  We ate and talked and got warm by the fire. Then the kids went out trick or treating.  I manned our candy bowl and I could hear Jon Rizzo across the street by his fire, singing and playing the banjo by his candy bowl.  The boys made out really well and said it was their best Halloween yet.












I had to first google it and wikepedia said mid-life is somewhere between 40-60, so I'm getting there.  Crisis, well that's kind of dramatic.  I wouldn't say I'm in a crisis, and after some very quick Wikepedia study, I realize that I am not having a midlife crisis but a midlife stressor.  Only about 10% of the people in the United States report having a midlife crisis.

It is important to understand the difference between a midlife crisis and a midlife stressor. Midlife is a time from 40–60 where a person is often evaluating their own life. However, many midlife stressors are often labeled as a midlife crisis. David Almadia states that day to day stressors are likely to add up and be thought of as a crisis but in reality it is simply an "overload".

Researchers have found that midlife is often a time for reflection and reassessment, but this is not always accompanied by the psychological upheaval popularly associated with "midlife crisis."

So I guess a midlife crisis is a big deal and what I'm feeling is much more gentle. It's a yearning.  It's the feeling of life passing too fast.  It's trying to find a balance between absolutely loving the stage I'm in now but being willing to let it go as we all age.  It's wanting to be better, do better things with my time, love more, be outside more, make more soap, take more pictures for me, play more guitar, focus on what matters, etc.  Basically, I feel like being a hippy (in a Mormon kind of way). I don't want to love money.  I don't want to fill our lives with junk. I want to be spiritually fit. I want to be on our bed with Willie and the kids laughing and snuggling, with sunlight streaming through the windows (on a cool quilt,) as much as possible.

This is not about being unhappy. I'm so happy. Legitimately, happy. I just don't want to waste it running around being busy, rushing or on my phone or working too much.  This may sound strange.  I'm not sure what it all means. I'm not sure if it will pass and honestly, it could be depression knocking at my door.  I've had similar thoughts and feelings before, but this seems more constructive than what I've felt in the past.

So what should I do?  Starting soap making was one thing.  We actually ran around town collecting tools and ingredients so I could make my first batch the night before I turned 38. It was Willie's present to me.  It's something I've always wanted to do and it has really given me a creative charge.  More of that needs to come.  I can't be putting off things like this.

Photography for hire is going on hold or completely away.  I like it, but I like my bookkeeping job even more. It pays well, I'm good at it and it's so flexible. I can work in my pajamas. I can work with a kid on my lap. That is what I need.  I do not have room in my life for two jobs.  Photography for hire will have to go.

Facebook. I have a really like/ can be annoyed by relationship with facebook.  I love my facebook community.  I've reconnected with and made some great friends through facebook.  It fills a loneliness void.  I fear that it shallowly fills that void and prevents me from seeking more non-cyber friendships.  I want to stay up all night talking to a good friend.  I want to hug a friend and look at each other while we talk. Facebook has also become my mindless zone-out practice.  I check too often.  It gets too much of me.  I still need it, but i'm hoping it can become a once a day kind of thing.  Also, do I really need to link to and read every blog post posted on facebook?  Do I really need to know the 9 most hated Halloween candies?  No.  I'll be okay not knowing.  I'll end up eating even the most hated Halloween candy (tootsie rolls) if it's the only sugary thing left in our house.

I started reading a book.  This is big. I've been a less active English major for years.  Having kids has triggered some kind of working with my hands need, so when I have free time I do things. I make things. I love it, but I really miss reading. I also miss writing.  I've decided to start keeping a journal again. It's been so many years.

That's it.  I'm not having a midlife crisis.  I'm having a midlife stresssor and it could end up being a really good thing.




We decided to stay a night on the Mesa last night and I'm so glad we did.  We had some friends stay at these cabins so I called and reserved one for last night.  It was so fun.  The cabins are rustic but not as rustic as we've stayed in before.  They had heat and electricity and hot water.  Compared to a tent, that's luxury.  With it getting colder, I love the idea of a heated place for the kids.  

We went up Sunday afternoon and spent time hanging out by the lake and making dinner.  This morning, Willie and the boys took a row boat out on the lake and explored all around.  Lula and I did some hiking and she did some napping.  

Last night I went down to the dock on the lake and enjoyed the stars.  The lake reminded me so much of Lake Arrowhead where I grew up. It is smaller, and totally unpopulated but the tree-lined horizon and the sound of the lapping water really brought me back.  When I was a kid, I'd love to sit on the docks with my friends and look at the stars.

It was really nice having a few days in such a peaceful place. I had fun taking pictures.  I used a film camera when we were exploring the lake, but here are a few pictures I took with my digital camera.






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