Mother Mother

Sunday, May 13, 2012

All I've ever tried to do is honor what is familiar in me.*

Mothers' Day is one of the many days each year when I reflect on something special, this one thing in particular that is familiar in me. It's something I learned when I was a child and started caring about in a new dimension as a 22-year-old lady.

I'll cut the mystery on this something special: I believe that I am a child of Heavenly Parents, that my spiritual genealogy is simple and magnificent and common to every other person this planet has met. I believe that I have a Heavenly Father. I believe that I have a Heavenly Mother. I have spoken with and thought about my Heavenly Father every day that I can remember in my entire life. The relationship I have with my Heavenly Mother has been so small in comparison (and it is always in comparison), so short in its span, and that smallness truly breaks my heart. But I am trying to make Her every bit as central in my life as He is.

I wonder if I'll ever be able to do that -- make those relationships equal in some fashion -- because I became devoted to my Heavenly Father as a twelve-year-old kid with braces and such a water-clear sense of the world, and now I'm twenty-five, and the way my grown-up self connects with divinity is by necessity different from the way my child self did. I suppose that's all right. Maybe Heavenly Father is the childhood sweetheart that I'll know forever and ever, and maybe Heavenly Mother is the deep and challenging partner of my mature years. Maybe those loves have equal weight, even if they take different shapes.

So this belief in my heavenly beginnings, my Heavenly Parents, is something so dear and familiar in me. It's such a Mormon part of me. I'm comforted to find that I still cry at this facet of my testimony. It still makes me emotional. For all the ways I've deconstructed and reconstructed and analyzed and compartmentalized and reprioritized my religious knowledge, the thought of my Heavenly Parents is real to me and worthy of tears. This is still how I form my understanding of divinity. I honor them as a set. I love them individually.

And on this Mothers' Day, I'm thinking of my own mom. The one who brushed and curled and braided my hair. The one who sends me texts with funny emoticons. The one I've seen crumpled in sadness and laughing in the sunshine.

I wonder if my Heavenly Mother is like this. I wonder if She tended to my needs and my nitpicky desires while I was still in spiritual infancy (or am I still in that infancy?). I wonder if She sends me messages in Her own way. I wonder at Her experience of the terrible grandness this universe holds. I wonder how She manages to feel so much.

And on this Mothers' Day, I'm thinking of the mom I want to be. A mom who judges rightly when to cuddle her toddler and when to let that same child explore with minimal supervision. A mom who tells her teenage kids about the first time she fell in love. A mom who tends scrapes and slivers with a tender hand.

I wonder how this will train me for my next progression. I wonder if I will know the godly skill of holding on and letting go. I wonder what wisdom I will most want to transmit. I wonder if I will be able to heal the ones I love in a manner most befitting their independence.

I wonder about Her and I believe in Her. I honor Her as someone familiar in Me.

*I can't claim credit for that sentence, one that I find totally brilliant. It's just something I heard a few years ago in a podcast interview with Ashley Sanders. [PS I love her and I love that interview. I'll try to expand on why in my next post.] But anyway, even if I didn't make it up, those words are true and they just stir something in me.

Events: My First Hot Yoga Class

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The first thing I can tell you about yesterday is that I saw other naked adult women for the first time. So that happened.

Blame it on the fact that I've never had a gym membership or been a fashion model. It seems like changing rooms/backstage dressing areas provide ample opportunities to see other folks in the buff, and since those aren't places I've ever been, yesterday represented a first. I purchased a Groupon deal (a few months back) that would allow me ten 90-minute sessions of hot yoga, and with my blessed day off from work, I ventured forth to see how my body would like it and if I would, in fact, DIE as a result of excessive sweating and excessive stretching. Walking into the changing room pre-class, I was met with about five women in various states of undress, recovering from the class they'd just finished. I registered their nudity in my head -- "Oh, they are naked" -- and proceeded without concern. Being a self-analytic, self-reflective person means constantly evaluating your emotions and reactions, deciding if you like them and if they make sense. I was pleased to note that I didn't feel weird at all. I could notice these women without staring, and noticing their breasts or the tattoos on their bums didn't feel any different than noticing someone's nail polish. Next thought: when I'm done with my class, will I be naked in front of strangers too? Will I do that? Will I feel comfortable enough? Should I aspire to be that comfortable? Et cetera. Self-analyzing is a chore sometimes.

Despite what I've led you to believe so far, the main focus of my class was not sitting in this locker room and ruminating on the female form. No, I came to get my yoga on. Yoga is a now-and-then thing for me, something I enjoy but have never made into a serious practice. This particular form of yoga, hot yoga, is different from anything I've done, and the difference is summed up in that word: hot. HOT. In explaining the heat to Craig, I mis-estimated that the room was 90 degrees. No no, it was 105 degrees (just checked the website), and with 40% humidity. I wish I could capitalize letters to put the emphasis on that. It was sweltering. Just sitting in that room took it out of me. And then I had to stand like a very flexible flamingo in said heat, trying to maintain balance against forces that would have me faint and fall.

And oh, the sweat. I have never in my life sweat so much, not even close. My skin was positively slimy from head to toe, as if I'd been slathered in olive oil, and little streams of sweat were coming off the ends of my hair. My fancy new yoga pants looked like they'd been dipped top-first in a bucket of water before I put them on.

The only difficult thing was not collapsing, which might sound like a joke, but I mean that sincerely. I thought that the HOT YOGA thing would be tough because of the yoga, but it was actually tough because of the hot. I didn't find the poses that difficult, nor was I intimidated by the stamina it took to hold them. But I had to rest on my back about five or six times, trying to recover from the lightheaded, I'm-gonna-puke feeling brought on by the temperature.

In all this, I noticed little things about my body. The edges of my lips would tingle during each rest. When I lie down, my right foot rolls out and opens up more than my left, like my left foot is repelled by the ground while my right foot is like, "Meh, whatever." There's a tendon in my right foot that gets really tight, as do my shoulders. My arms are very long.

The thing that's remained on my mind since yesterday's class is a quote that was posted throughout the studio, an old proverb.

Be humble, for you are made of dung. Be noble, for you are made of stars.

And for those of you who wondered, this body, made of dung and stars, did indeed go naked in the dressing room when she changed from yoga gear into a t-shirt and jeans.

Thoughts: Considering Clothes & Their Consequences

Thursday, May 3, 2012

(It's been a while since I posted 'round these parts, and while I was away, GoogleBlogger went and changed the whole setup on me. Let's hope my skills as a native English speaker get me through this rough patch.)

What is it about some interests and hobbies that makes them seem noble, while others seem shallow? Why do some strike you as legit and others come off as immature? I'm honestly asking here. Because the thing is that my most enduring interest is becoming more and more clear by the day, and I have mixed feelings about it.

See, I love clothes.

(Side note: I forgot for a moment that this used to be my daily style blog and that you probably already knew that about me. I thought I was revealing something sort of surprising. But I am not. Carry on.)

It all goes back to the 5th and 6th Grades. Pretty sure of it. I had an aunt at the time named Jennifer. (Yes, "at the time," because she is no longer my aunt. She was married to my uncle, but that changed.) Jennifer would occasionally stop by our house and drop off trash bags of clothes she no longer wanted, clothes my mom and I might be interested in making our own. She was fancy and hip. She shopped in Las Vegas, acquiring cooler things than my mom and I found at Wal-Mart and sometimes JCPenney's. Those bags contained possibilities of pretty, promises of popularity. Jeans with leather labels -- mmmmm. I loved Jennifer's hand-me-downs. They gave me that special "Girl, you are movin' up in the world" feeling.

This affection for certain articles of clothing continued on through my years of middle school, high school, and college, but between my introduction to style blogs and my current job as a clothing buyer, it has sprouted roots and grown thick branches. (Yes, this love is a tree, or at least a solid bush.) I derive actual happiness -- a real kind, temporary but sincere and innocent -- from putting on a precious dress or a solid pair of boots. I revel in scarves. And it's not about acquiring things that cost a lot of money -- certainly not. I took stock of my wardrobe tonight, and 63% of it is secondhand. This collection, all in all, was pretty cheap. It's not about money or status, and I'm confident it's not about getting the boys and girls to think I'm pretty. It's just that I lovelovelove wearing beautiful things that help me feel beautiful alongside them.

But am I a superficial nincompoop for feeling so wrapped up in clothing? Am I small-minded? Does this make me a bad feminist? A bad Christian? A bad wife? A bad friend? A bad person? I ask myself these questions. I try to answer "NO" without reservation. Loving music isn't shallow. Loving fine cuisine isn't small-minded. Loving calligraphy or nautical history or birdwatching isn't an indication of poor moral fiber. So why this ambivalence when it comes to the clothes thing? Why does this interest carry a stigma? I'm accepting theories for consideration.

All I know is that yesterday I wore a green skirt with blue roses on it, a skirt that cost me eleven dollars, and when I stood at the bus stop and saw the way that skirt moved in the May breeze, I delighted in it.

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