Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hold my hand and sing me a song...

Remember that one time I completely abandoned my blog for like 6 months? So...that was cool. I'm back now.  Here's what you missed:

  • I have officially moved to Harlem. I was really stressed about the moving process, but it ended up working out quite nicely. A dear friend of mine helped me bring a load of clothes and books on the subway, and then I took the rest of it in an Uber. I had like 3 boxes, one dresser and a few garbage bags of stuff.. The whole move cost me $43. It felt like a financial win. 
  • Over spring break, I purchased a dresser from an antique store for $25 and repainted it. It resides in my room and makes my heart happy every time I walk into my bedroom. I enjoyed fixing it up so much that this summer I decided to start additional projects. Thus far I have painted a nightstand, TV stand, dresser, trunk and a mirror. It's strange to me that I've stumbled upon this little hobby in my late twenties. It feels so random but I'm ever so grateful for finding something that calms me down after a hard day, gives me a creative outlet and only has to please me. 
  • I've been in the market for new glasses frames. I feel a change in the wind in that department. I tried on some funky patterned and colored ones. The sales associates often times tell me I'm too white to wear the ones I'm trying on. Haha I want to tell them a joke about how hard it is being white but I don't feel like that would go over well. Haha At a different store, the manager gave me his card and ended up sending me creep balls texts about what he actually thought about me while I was in the store. Some things need to be kept to yourself. Just because you think perv thoughts, doesn't mean we want to hear about it. In summary, so far  my favorite frames are red. 
  • Back to unwanted male attention. Recently when I get followed, I tell them my name is Penelope and then provide an incorrect phone number. It turns out telling fellas on the street that you have a boyfriend doesn't necessarily deter them. So now I just lie about who I am and crap like that. I figure it's the closest I can get right now to being Sydney Bristow. 
  • I made Tim Riggins brownies today and ate three of them. That's a fat joke. It's also a promotion for how delish those brownies are.
  • In order to pass medical clearance for my new internship, I had to get a few vaccines. I went today and brought a dear friend with me for moral support due to my excessive levels of pansy-ness.  I asked if he would hold my hand and sing One Direction songs to me. He did hold my hand but hates One Direction...So instead he would sing phrases that he felt described the band members, "sometimes I can't bend my knees because my pants are too tight".  I loved it. 
  • I bought a really cute couch over the summer. It's darling. We're currently in the works of redecorating our apartment. As soon as the living room is complete, we intend to have a housewarming party. I've been watching a lot of Friends lately and now can't stop thinking about how badly I want a tight group of friends in my life here in New York. There will be preliminary casting for my own personal Ross, Joey and Chandler during upcoming parties. I can't wait. Haha 
Now my eyelids feel like they weigh 80 pounds so I'm going to go unconscious now. Until next time,

Mal

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Plump, chubby, meaty thoughts...

Yesterday at my field placement I had a client mention previous social workers that had worked with him.  He mentioned the one before me who was chinese and spoke fondly of his relationship with her. The woman before her, he said, "Was a bigger girl, like you."  His comment caught me off guard a little bit.  You see, while I'm well aware that I'm not a stick figure, I suppose I didn't necessarily see myself as a bigger girl.  It has lead me to a series of thoughts that I thought might be meaningful to write down.  And perhaps, just perhaps, they might be of some use to someone else.

Part of the reason why he and I view my size differently is because he's probably comparing my size to previous social workers--in which case, I could quite possibly be larger than them.  I, however, compare my size to previous me. You see, only a few years ago, I used to be a hefty version of my current self.  I was going over the weight difference in my head and I hadn't realized until this week that I'm 50 pounds lighter than I was 5 years ago.  Fifty sounded like a big number.  I suppose it's weird to think about because I don't necessarily feel like I look drastically different.  I enjoy going shopping more and I'm more comfortable with my body but I don't feel like I look like a completely different human being or anything.

Every now and then I reflect back on what it felt like to be that size.  Random memories are very vivid for me.  For some reason, I can picture very clearly the walk from our high school out to the seminary building.  It wasn't a far walk on the sidewalk, up a few stairs and you enter through a pair of glass doors.  While there's nothing particularly noteworthy about these doors, I remember very clearly how much I hated walking up to them on my way to seminary.  I just didn't like my reflection and having to walk up to these doors and be reminded of what I looked like was awful.  I made an effort to avoid all reflective surfaces.  It made me angry and frustrated to see what I looked like.

People compliment my hair every now and then.  It's always nice to receive compliments and feel like there's something lovely about you.  What people maybe don't know is I have, perhaps an odd attachment to my hair.  I remember being in high school, being a bigger girl and feeling like the only thing that was pretty or unique about me was my hair.  So as silly as it may sound, it feels like my hair got me through some hard times.  haha My hair didn't have a size or a weight, it was just my hair. It made me feel special at a time when I didn't think there was anything else special about me.

Dating was an interesting concept for me.  I understood that in order to date, you had to be beautiful.  And beauty, from my understanding, was to be itsy bitsy in size and have a beautiful, acne-free face.  I grew up feeling like I just didn't fit that description.  I went through phases when I was really working on my character--I tried to study and develop Christ-like attributes or I set goals to notice and get to know the quieter people in class, etc.  I remember feeling frustrated at times, like no matter who I became, no one would see it or care if I wasn't attractive.

I moved to Paris for a study abroad when I was 20 years old.  It was the first time I got followed and asked for my number.  There were guys that thought I was beautiful and wanted to get to know me.  I found it so odd and intriguing.  Didn't they know I was tubbers?  They weren't supposed to pay attention to me.  This was breaking all of the rules that I understood.  Looking back on those pictures, it's almost the biggest I've ever been, but I didn't feel unwanted or painfully unattractive. In fact, I felt pretty in Paris.  It was a very new thing for me and I was scared to go back to Utah and not feel that way anymore.

Paris made me think that maybe the definition I had understood of beauty growing up wasn't true.  Maybe it really didn't matter if I was as tiny as the Olsen twins.  Maybe I didn't have to fit a certain mold to have value.  Maybe the right person would notice me and find me worthwhile regardless of my size.

I have an aunt that pointed out something pretty interesting to me.  She told me that she looks back on her wedding picture and laughs because she remembers feeling fat that day.  She said what was funny is she's never been that size since.  She laughed about how if only we could stop being so hard on ourselves in the present moment.  Who knows where we'll be in the future, looking back on this phase of our lives thinking, "you weren't doing so bad, you know?"

Through a series of events with different key people in my life, I slowly shifted my mentality from caring what other people thought about me to caring what I thought about me.  And perhaps more importantly, striving to have an accurate view of who am I and what matters.  Clearly in junior high and high school I didn't have an accurate view of my worth or value.  I was so certain that being attractive was what would get me friends and a boyfriend and give some sort of meaning to my life.  It sounds pretty ridiculous right now.  Over time, I learned that I wanted to strive to have a good relationship with God.  I wanted to talk to Him about how I'm doing, things I'm working on, struggles I'm having, etc.  I cared what He thought about me.  And that's the only opinion that I wanted to matter.  I knew that His love for me didn't change if my waistline did.  He loved me regardless of how many friends I have, what my grades are, if I made the dance team or if I do well in the next piano competition.  I wanted Him to be proud of me and for Him to love me.  I was tired of not feeling good enough for other people--whether or not it was true.  I wanted to get to a place where I no longer needed other people to think I was awesome or attractive or hilarious.  I just needed to know that God was happy with who I am and I wanted to be in a place where I was happy being me.  That's it.

So to my client who thinks that I'm a bigger girl, in some respects, you're right.  I'm not tiny.  I've definitely got some hips, thighs and boobs.  But you know what?  I'm okay with that.  What's important to me is that I make an effort to eat healthy, exercise and take care of myself.  I feel good.  And I feel pretty just the way I am.  I'm finally okay with where I'm at and how I look.  Are there girls that are prettier and tinier than me?  Sure.  There always will be.  But I don't see myself in comparison with them anymore.  It's never been helpful to compare things like that anyways.  What matters to me is that I can compare my current self to an earlier version of myself and see improvement--whether it be with weight, scripture study, organization, budgeting, time management, etc.  Do I still feel a need to continue to eat healthier?  Absolutely.  Do I think I can do better at exercising?  You betcha. But today, in this moment, I can be grateful that I've been worse off and the progress feels rewarding.  Today I'm going to appreciate how far I've come rather than be overwhelmed by how far I have to go.

I suppose my takeaway for those who are reading would be that we could all be a little less hard on ourselves.  Take a minute to look at your life and see what you've learned and how you've grown.  You'll always want to do better and that's a good thing.  But don't beat yourselves up and discredit all of the good that you've accomplished.  You've come a long way.  Be proud of that.

Alrighty then.  Pep talk over.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

First semester at NYU, The kind soul that holds my hair back, Hunting for the first time



Oh my sakes.  It's 2015.  I haven't written since October.  And naturally, much has occurred since then.  So let me tell you where things are at:

I've successfully completely my first semester of grad school at NYU.  And it is still crazy to me writing sentences indicating that I am receiving academic instruction from NYU.  It feels like a dream and also completely preposterous at the same time.  But somehow it's real.  I really love my program.  My favorite class last semester was my "Human Behavior" course.  My professor was outstanding (and therefore I'm taking Human Behavior 2 from him this semester). haha We focused a lot on looking at how our experiences from childhood manifest themselves in behavior as we grow up.  My mind was constantly reeling in class as I looked at my upbringing and how so many facets of my life have formed me into this person that interacts and reacts to people and life in the way that I do.  It's fascinating.  
(This photo was from when I went to Hip Hop Nutcracker at Christmas time.  Aaaannnddd yeah, it was as fun as it sounds.)

One of my favorite examples that he gave is one from his personal practice.  He has a client he is working with that's 7 years old.  This little boy does have some severe behavioral issues, enough that at the age of 7, he's been kicked out of several schools.  Kicking, biting, throwing things, yelling, tantrums, etc.  Let's call this little boy Johnny.  So Johnny goes to see my professor for therapy and they work together to find out where some of these behavioral issues are coming from.  It turns out Johnny's mom and dad fight a lot.  Johnny has seen his mom physically abuse his father as well.  Sometimes Johnny's dad doesn't come home. 

My professor explained when a child sees this type of dysfunction in his parents, it's too horrifying of a thought to think that these stabilizing forces in his life are a mess.  It's easier to think something is wrong with you, the child.  That's much easier to digest than the thought that the people responsible for raising you, teaching you and keeping you safe aren't highly functioning.  The part I loved about this is my professor invited Johnny, his little sister, and their parents to a session.  Each member of the family was asked to make a lego tower, with each lego representing one year of their life.  So Johnny's tower was 7 legos tall, his little sisters tower was 5 legos tall, and his parents had multiple towers of legos.  My professor explained that Johnny is only 7 legos.  He's little.  He's a kid.  He shouldn't be responsible for the problems and issues of his parents that have multiple towers of legos.  He's a kid.  His job is to be a kid and play.  The people with the big towers have a lot of years and therefore need to handle their bigger issues.  

This example really resonated with me.  I loved the imagery.  I think in our own ways we can take on stress from people that have more "legos" than we do.  And that's not our job.  Our job is to deal with our own issues and carry the responsibility of the number of "legos" that we have, no more and no less.  Anyway, perhaps this is a random thing to share but it really helped me.
 
I was fortunate enough to travel home for Christmas this year.   Unfortunately, the trip was very short.  I didn't get to see all of the people that I wanted to meet up with, but thankfully I got to squeeze in a few quick visits.  It's such a mix of emotions traveling home.  For many years I felt frustrated in Utah and like I didn't belong.  I so looked forward to traveling abroad or getting out.  One of the elders in my mission once told me that I didn't seem like I was from Utah...and I took it as a compliment.  haha But I do love Utah and there are a lot of wonderful people there.  And it's a strange experience for me to come back to Utah and somehow feel right at home.  A place where I used to feel so out of place now brings such a feeling of peace.  I love being surrounded by the mountains.  I love how when they're dusted with snow, I could be outside for hours and never grow tired of looking over at them.  I love that I have memories in the strangest of places back in Utah.  The movie theater where my group of girlfriends and I finally got up the courage to ask a group of boys to hang out with us--and they later became our dear friends.  The spot behind Albertsons, that normally doesn't hold any significance, except it's where Ashlee parked her car for the parade one year and we watched the whole thing with snacks and AC.  It was brilliant.  And Kneaders, just because their french toast is the best thing that ever happened to human taste buds. haha

Something remarkable happens when I meet up with each of my friends.  They are from all different parts of my life.  High school, my Paris Study abroad, my mission to Italy, my time spent in Uganda, or even just from being assigned as a visiting teacher back in the AF singles ward.  Regardless of how I know them, this lovely rush of emotion fills me when I hug my friends after a long time.  Man, how I love them.  I love being on adventures and living in New York City.  But my heart is so happy to be home and in the company of people that know me, understand me and love me.  We've been friends for years and have seen each other through a lot of situations.  I so admire the people I've seen them become and my heart is so happy for the joy they have found as they've become wives, mothers, finished school, advanced in their careers, and grown as remarkable women.  I'm really the luckiest.  My friends mean the world to me. I feel like the most fortunate person on the planet whenever I'm back in their company.  


My brother Cody and Sister-in-law Aubry were very gracious to host us in their home.  It must be awfully chaotic having extra bodies in your home but as Raf said, "Aubry is like Mary Poppins." and she really is.  The woman can work a 12 hour night shift Christmas Eve, still manage to photograph the excitement of Christmas morning, make a trifle for my dad, bake dinner, look fabulous and go to family parties without sleep.  She's quite remarkable.  I love being around her.

My brother Cody is also fun to be around.  He has one of my favorite laughs in the world.  He's a lot of fun.  Cody and Aub also introduced us to a new version of the card game "Golf".  Let's just say we played a pretty good amount of Golf while we were there.  Thanks Code and Aub for letting us all shack up with you for Christmas. You were too good to us and it was so fun being with your family.

Now their three children are three of the sweetest, most adorable tiny people I've ever known.  Sadie has a cute little scratchy voice that told me she was going to be watching out the window on Christmas Eve. "I'm going to look for a wed light."  How come?  "To see if Wudolph is real!"  Mya's response was, "If you see it, wake me up."  haha I love them.  I loved playing with them and watching their eyes light up on Christmas morning.  Little Hayze has the cutest little run and melts your heart if he even glances your way.  They're such good kids.  I can only hope that my children one day will be as sweet.

 This trip was quite epic because it was the first time I agreed to go to hunting.  My dad and brothers are hard core hunters.  Growing up, we had an entire freezer that was pretty much dedicated to the meat from their kills.  And there was an extra garage nearby containing a shrine of their heads and antlers.  This year, I got to go along for the ride.  I'll be honest, part of the reason I was turned off to it all these years was because I pictured them wandering around all day, trudging in waist-deep snow looking for animals.  But nay, that is not how it worked.  We were all layered up, chewing on jerky (how appropriate), and looking out the windows of Cody's truck with binoculars for elk.  I didn't realize that it wasn't as freezing or unplanned as I had originally imagined.  We drove around, stopping to look through the scope for several hours.  Of course because my brother had a cow elk tag, we saw lots of bull elk instead.  Isn't that how it goes?!  They are such cool creatures.  It was pretty amazing to be in the mountains.  Cody shot an elk at 540 yards.  It was really impressive.  The hike over to it was a bit hard in the deep snow but it was good cardio.  :)

As we got closer to the elk, it was incredible to see what an incredible animal she was.  It was pretty cool to see almost a reverence that we all had for this animal.  She was beautiful.  Even as they were skinning it, I was in awe at how strong she was and how incredible it is how all of our bodies are put together.  I'm grateful my brother let me tag along for the experience.  I'm sure it's more fun with only guys, but it was really fun to see him in his element and how talented he is.  Later when we came back to New York, Raf and I were watching "The Walking Dead" and the characters in an episode wouldn't shoot a zombie that was 100 yards away.  Raf laughed and said, "Man, Cody makes these guys look like chumps.  He shot an elk that was 560 yards away."  haha And it's true.  My brother does make those characters look silly.  He's got hunting skills.  He really does.

It was a really fun break.  My parents and kid sister were also in Utah for the break.  I love them very much.  They do an awful lot for me.  It's always fun to get the family together as it seems sparse these days.  I adored the family time, catching up with friends, seeing their newborn babies, and not having any homework to do.  :)  Now it's back into the grind.  Classes have started and I'm back at my internship.  It's going to be another great semester.  I can already tell that these classes are going to push me but I'm really excited about it.  I think it will be good for me to continue to learn about myself as I delve more into this program.  As always, I will try to be good at keeping you up to date with the happenings here in NYC.  But, if I'm not on top of my posts, just know I love you and you'll hear from me soon.  Love from New York,

Mal