Thoughts on Winter

I have a love/hate relationship with winter.

I love looking out my windows to the snowcapped mountains in the distance, especially when the sun is rising over the ones in the east and casting pink streaks of light across the snow. And when the sun is setting over the mountains on Antelope Island over the Great Salt Lake and the orange/hot pink bursts of light make the whole lake look like it is made of fire. I’m lucky enough to get a beautiful view of both where I live.

I love that in winter nature takes a break from creating to rest. I love the stillness of winter. Everything in nature hibernates for a while, and winter is just mother nature’s slumber. I love the peace I feel in the winter especially while just sitting at a window watching the snow fall.

I love watching people playing in the snow and making snowpeople. Especially since it inspired Bill Watterson’s best strips for Calvin & Hobbes.

I love winter because I have a lot of beautiful sweaters and cute boots and this appeals to the fashionista in me.

I hate commuting during snowstorms. I hate being cold. I hate that my asthma is cold weather induced and it’s harder to breathe. I hate that I have to find everyone’s coats, scarves, gloves and boots just to leave the house when in summer I can throw on a pair of flip flops and run out of the door. I hate plowing through my driveway and scraping off my car.

But however much I hate certain aspects of winter, I am grateful for this time of rest, of slumber, to let nature be quiet for a while. In two months growing things will wake up and sprout new life. I’m willing to wait for it.

Echo Chamber?

Recently I was accused of living in a liberal, social justice warrior, feminist bubble – an echo chamber surrounded by only people who agree with me.

Cool story, bro?

Let me tell you a little bit about my echo chamber.

womens-voices

Little girls who grow up in Mormon-dominated Utah in a part-member Mormon family where the only parent who is LDS (mom) does not attend church until she is 14, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who attend their LDS ward alone growing up, with just her siblings, without parents but with their support, and were subjected to lessons about how every other child was born in the covenant, therefore more blessed, and members of eternal families, whereas she was not, through no fault of her own, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who have kids in the neighborhood tell them they’re not allowed to play with them because her aforementioned parents don’t go to church and will probably make them drink beer (my parents rarely, if ever, drank alcohol) and watch R-rated movies, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who are made fun of for having a father who did “un-masculine” household chores like laundry and didn’t go hunting or own guns because he’s a pacifist, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who are raised by strong female role models and who are taught from birth they need to grow up to support themselves, despite being a member of a patriarchal religion where she was taught her only goal should be motherhood, and career and education “just in case,” don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who try to start a Young Democrats club in their High School in Republican dominated Utah, who had her posters ripped down and not a single teacher would agree to sponsor the club, letting it die before it began, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who are told by the Student Body President their sophomore year of high school that they should be excommunicated from their shared church and humiliated in front of their entire Human Biology class, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who are made fun of in front of an almost entire classroom full of boys in her AP American History class for being a feminist and bringing up the point that the foremothers of our state of Utah were suffragists, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who excitedly register to vote during their senior year of High School only to have the woman registering her give a disgusted grunt when she asked if she would like to register for a party and she proudly proclaims, “yes! Democrat!”, don’t live in echo chambers.

Young college co-eds who attend one of the most liberal Universities in her state only to attend a Young Democrats meeting with 4 attendees on a campus of over 20,000 students, don’t live in echo chambers.

Young married females who are shamed for hyphenating their married last names (17+ years and counting), don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have their gynecologist tell them that the very real physical negative side affects of their birth control are all in their head, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are pressured by their church leaders to have a testimony of a President and a war they don’t support, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have news articles written about the good work they’re doing in their career and are met with comments about how awful it is that a mother would dare to work, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are shunned from being in the cool mommy group in the neighborhood for not being a stay-at-home-mother, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have to constantly fight the culture of sexism and misogyny that permeates modern day America so she can raise her daughters in strength and sons with respect for all of humanity, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are told by their supervisor that the quarter inch of cleavage that shows when they fold their arms at work, even though they are dressed perfectly modestly and their garments are covered, might entice a clinical male client to rape someone, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are censored at work for having a feminist voice and threatened with the loss of job and income, not to mention their covenants since they work for their church, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who vote their conscience and then are shamed for not voting for members of their faith and told they are being deceived by Satan, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are glared at for wearing pants to church by so-called loving members of their religion, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are asked  by their church leaders to gain a testimony of exclusion of LGBTQIA members, their children from baby blessings and baptism, when it goes against everything she knows is right and Christ-like, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who want more authority in their church than their 12-year-old son who can perform one of the most sacred rituals, passing the sacrament, and she can’t despite being an adult and temple recommend holder, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who break their own hearts and walk out of the church that informed their entire spirituality and into a church where they feel peace and no cognitive dissonance and aren’t asked to compromise their values and conscience, and can just worship the Christ that they love found in the New Testament, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have half of their neighborhood no longer talk or wave to her or unfriend her on Facebook because of her changing and evolving religious convictions, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are feminist liberals living, working, and raising their children every day in Utah, don’t live in echo chambers.

So, please consider the reason why you’re having a strong, negative reaction to my opinions is perhaps because you live in an echo chamber? You’ve grown up and lived in a conservative state, surrounded by conservative people, and a conservative religion, where the people in your life (friends, family, and neighbors) all share your conservative opinions. I might be the first person who has ever disagreed with you and offered a different perspective. Perhaps I do it in an assertive and strong voice, which makes you uncomfortable because you’re used to women deferring to men, backing down from confrontation, speaking to you in dulcet tones, and when they do disagree, keeping it to themselves.

Well, that ain’t me. I’m not a shrinking violet, I’m a damn iron daisy, and if you condescend to me, cast aspersion on my character, shame me, insult my intelligence, or question my spirituality, you will hear from me and it WON’T be in my Relief Society voice, but the strong, clear, voice of the strong, independent, proud woman my parents raised me to be.

I’m not a night owl anymore

I used to be a night owl. There wasn’t a morning that I didn’t want to sleep through.

Since I was a child I delighted in the dark, calm, still hours of the night. In high school and college I would stay up late reading into the wee hours. In the  morning, 10:00 am was too early for me and there was nothing I loved more than sleeping in. Frankly, there was nothing I loved more than sleeping as I would usually also require an afternoon nap after morning classes.

As a young mother I was blessed to have babies that started sleeping through the night at about 2 months old. I think the universe knew that I couldn’t handle the sleep deprivation that most parents are forced to endure. Even if my young children woke me up at an early hour, I remember half sleeping on the couch while they would watch “Sesame Street.” By 10:00 am I would be able to function, but I definitely napped when they napped.

Then something changed.

Now, there is not a sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains that I want to miss.

I witnessed years of gorgeous hot pink and orange sunsets over the Great Salt Lake.

Now I also get to bear witness to the audacious morning breaking almost every day.

A little over two years ago I accepted a job that required me to start work every week day at 8:00 am. With a half-hour commute and having to drop off my youngest at her beloved babysitter’s, I have to leave my house about the same time I used to wake up to get my kids off to school (and then promptly went back to bed).

It took me a while, but I began to appreciate the beauty of an early morning.

Then after numerous attempts to get back into an exercise routine, six months after I started my new job I resigned myself to the fact the only time I had to work-out was when the gym first opens at 4:30 am to give myself enough time to get ready for work, and my children ready for school. The thought of waking up at 4:00 am was obscene to me, but I did it.

And I noticed a swift transformation in me.

No longer a night owl.

I emerged as a morning person.

I’ve made fun of morning people my whole life. How can anyone be that happy at ungodly hours? I remember my mother getting ready for work in her bathroom while I was in Junior High and High School, singing and dancing to the oldies station, with a curling iron in her hair. She would chatter away at me all morning while I scowled over my cereal and wondered how I ever emerged from this woman’s womb. She didn’t even drink coffee.

And now, I’m that annoying person in the office who is so happy in the morning I even get on my own nerves. While most of my coworkers won’t even speak to me until they’ve had at least one cup of coffee, by the time I get to work I’ve already been up for four hours and I’m ready to engage and talk, while they scowl at me over their steaming mugs.

My favorite time of day now is when I leave the gym in the summer. I look to the East as the sun creeps over the purple mountains in the distance. I have a great view of Weber Canyon and the tilt of the earth at that time of year is just such that the sun shines through the break in the mountains.

It’s those times they I say a silent prayer of gratitude. That every day I was able to witness a sunrise and a sunset. To put myself in the way of beauty, as Cheryl Strayed says.

sunrise-over-the-wastach
“Wasatch Sunrise” by Chad Dutson