Shedding pride while finding worth: A lifelong struggle

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Circa 1989

I was in a jazz dance class, mostly with kids who were quite a bit older than me.  I was pretty proud of myself and it showed through my dynamic recital performance.  My enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt when, after my number, a little boy got up and sang a solo; my memory tells me it was the song Father Figure by George Michael.  I didn’t say anything, and I’m pretty sure I thought I hid my disappointment well, but I remember thinking he’s not very good, why did he get to sing by himself?

Summer 1992

I was attending a performing/fine arts camp in Wilmington, NC while visiting my dad for the summer.  During a lunch break, a small group began to congregate around one girl as she told a story.  I was nearby and overheard her talking about her relation to Christina Applegate.  I’m not sure why this was a big deal to everyone, or how they even knew who this actress was — At the time I only knew her from Married, With Children and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, both of which I shouldn’t have been watching at my age — But they did care.  A lot.  I felt something well up inside me; a feeling I now recognize as jealousy.

During one camp day we took a field trip to a theater called Thalian Hall.  I was very familiar with this theater because the previous 2 summers I had been in productions of Annie and The Sound of Music there.  I’d explored every nook and cranny of this space as we searched for signs of its supposed haunting.  So as we walked behind our tour guide, listening to stories about when and why this building came into existence, all I wanted to do was run off and go back stage.  “This is boring.  Lets go see my dressing room!  This is my theater!” I wanted to scream.  But nobody knew, or cared, about my experience with this theater.  Why do they care so much about that other girl’s experience? I thought.

7th Grade

Our 7th grade class was assigned to complete an awesome project together.  We were to create an actual restaurant, interview for the job we wanted, and then bring our creation to life in the school cafeteria.  My Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, who also happened to be my drama teacher, announced that included in the list of jobs would be the job of “entertainer”.  I didn’t even need to look at the rest of the list; I knew that’s the job I wanted.  But since he also told us that the entertainers needed to first sign up for a REAL job, I chose hostess.  I thought that’ll be an easy job that I can get out of the way at the beginning before my performance starts.  Auditions were held, cuts were made, and the final cut left 4 of us.  For my final audition I chose a song from The Secret Garden.

The Girl I Mean To Be.

I thought it went really well.  I must have thought wrong.  Mr. Deboer assigned the other 3 girls as entertainment, while I was the only one who didn’t make the cut.  I fulfilled my job as hostess and when it was time for the singing to start you can guess who I thought could have done a better job.

Fall 1996

In the Grand Rapids Ballet company, cast-list-posting time was the most exciting time of the year!  And no matter my track record, I still had high hopes every time I walked into that studio.  We’d had auditions for The Nutcracker recently, and I felt strongly that this was my year.  I’d worked hard and paid my dues and this was going to be my time to shine!

It wasn’t.

But it also wasn’t Molly’s.  Oh, Molly.  She was one of the 3 girls who had been chosen as restaurant entertainment, and had also been cast as the coveted role of Clara in the previous year’s production of Nutcracker.

After we had all had our chance to look over “The List” I found Molly crouched under a ballet barre in tears.  I sat next to her and put my arm around her and told her it was going to be okay.  Her response?  “You don’t understand.  You’re USED to getting bad parts!”  Touche Molly.  And thank you for reminding me why I resented you so much.

Forest Hills Central High School: Senior Year

Since leaving the GRB company a few years earlier, I’d had very few disappointing experiences when it came to dancing and performing.  My departure overlapped with my acceptance to the high school pom squad, and upon hearing from the captain that my audition score had been highest of all participants, I knew I’d made the right choice.  I was finally — FINALLY! — in a place where I was appreciated and recognized for my talents.

My final year of poms I was named captain.  And at our annual pom camp, I was also thrilled to be chosen as an All-Star and given the opportunity to perform in Disney World with a select group of dancers the following winter.

86(That’s Molly embracing me…clearly only hugging me to try to overshadow my special moment…not really, but that’s the teenage me talking)

Before winter came, I decided to audition for our school’s production of “The Music Man”.  The auditions went seamlessly and I found myself again in a group of 4 girls (one of who happened to be Molly) singing the lead character, Marian’s, solo.

Disappointment set in when I found out that although I had made the call-backs, they fell on the same day as the final All-Star rehearsal prior to leaving for Disney World.  I made the tough decisions to back out of the All-Star performance and take my chances with the musical.  After all, auditions had gone so well!

I not only did not get cast as Marian, I was cast as a chorus member with no lines.  Molly was cast as understudy Marian.  I spent a lot of time regretting my decision to back out of the Disney trip.

Summer before college

Despite almost 10 years of difficult with Molly, she and I decided to take a trip to Wisconsin just before graduation.  We were both auditioning to be counselors at the pom camp we’d spent the last few years attending.

I have such wonderful memories of that trip.  The audition was so much fun, we met some great people, I did my very best, and I went home with a lot of confidence and excitement about my new summer job!

A few weeks later I still hadn’t heard back in response to our audition.  One day, I got a call from Molly.  “Did you get your letter?!” She asked excitedly.  “No…,” I knew where this was going, “Did you?”  By this point it was clear that she felt bad for calling.  “Yes…”

The best part was that summer:  While I was attending my younger sister’s pom competition, the same competition I’d competed in for the last 3 years, Molly was performing with the group of counselors as an introduction to the event.

Still in need of approval even in adulthood

I’m embarrassed at my reaction to all of these experiences, and so many others that I didn’t mention.  I really could throw myself off a bridge for allowing myself to waste so much of my life judging my worth based on whether I received more recognition than someone else.  And I wish I could say it stopped when I left home.  But as you can see, that’s not the case…

Last week

A few months ago, I wrote a post that included a story about a “falling out” that I had with a fellow Zumba instructor.  He is currently teaching at the same studio that my daughter takes ballet with, and whose recital we’ve participated in as instructors.  I knew that if I wanted to take part in this year’s spring recital I’d have to take matters into my own hands — he and I haven’t spoken since December.  So I wrote him and asked how he would like to handle this years performance and what days would be best for him to get together.

His overdue response came, in which he briefly told me he had it handled and that he’d already gotten a group together to participate.

I instantly felt rage that I’d forgotten I was capable of.  I didn’t realize how prone to grudge holding I really am.  I’ve always thought I’m pretty great at getting along with people.  But not this person.  As much as I’ve been blaming our broken-relationship on what he did to me, the truth is I just never wanted to see his face again.  And it makes me sad, because I really miss doing this.

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That same wave of jealousy I felt as a 6 year old in a dance recital, that same disappointment I felt when my teachers didn’t think I was good enough, that same humiliation I felt when Molly got chosen over me for parts, jobs, boyfriends (oh, did I not mention that my high school bf cheated on me with her?), the rage I felt recently at being rejected, it still creeps up now.

This is where I segue into something more serious and important that may not be immediately recognizable as relevant…

About 5 billion years ago

My spiritual beliefs tell me that life did not begin at birth.  Before the Earth was created, we lived with God as his spirit children, where he revealed his plan for us to receive a mortal body and live an Earth life away from him, where we would be tried and tested, but also form families and experience joy.  In this way we would have the chance to learn things we couldn’t without a body and hopefully one day choose to return to live in Heaven again.

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At that time, Lucifer (Satan) stepped forward and wanted to be recognized and praised as the one who would make all of God’s children return to live with him after their Earth life.  But at that same time, Jesus Christ, understanding that God’s plan required his children to be able to make their own choices and mistakes, volunteered to atone for the sins of the world, providing the gift of repentance and forgiveness to all of his brothers and sisters.

It was then that Satan, feeling resentful and vindictive, rebelled against his Father’s plan, taking a “third of the hosts of Heaven” with him, and in doing so was denied the opportunity to receive a body.  Determined to deceive the rest of God’s children into rebelling as he did, Satan has subjected us to much temptation, fear, and sorrow.

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I really do hesitate to compare myself to Satan, the father of all lies, the cause of all unhappiness and sin.  But when I get so angry about not achieving success, being the favorite, or being in the forefront of everyone’s mind, I can’t help but see that he is succeeding.  He does have such a strong hold on me.  I’ve been feeling so much hate and resentment towards people lately, and the more hate I feel towards others the less I feel I am worth anything.

I think he knows that the younger he starts tempting people to hate others and hate themselves, the more likely he is to succeed.  Lately, I have heard the phrase “It’s not fair!” out of my 6-year-olds mouth WAY too much.  Satan is no respecter of age.

One day, possibly many many hundreds of thousands of years ago, I made a decision to follow Christ’s plan and not Satan’s.  He’s angry with me for that and trying in every way to get me to change my mind.  I chose eternal joy and family in spite of temporary challenges, over limited progression in a naive and oppressed dictatorship we would have been subject to under Satan’s plan.

“…having made that decision, why should we have to make it again and again after our birth into mortality?”  The late prophet Gordon B. Hinckley asked.  And he continued, “I cannot understand why so many have betrayed in life the decision they once made when the great war occurred in Heaven.” (“The Dawning of a Brighter Day”, Engisn, April 2004)

He goes on to describe the “faint but beautiful light” that shines through the darkness of these perilous times the world has always lived in.  There are so many opportunities in life for us to do good and to be a part of something much bigger than our own journey.  We are told that we have so much more tremendous significance than we could possible comprehend.

But despite our significance in God’s eyes, “…this does not put us in a position of superiority.  Rather it should humble us.  It places upon us an unforgiving responsibility to reach out with concern for all others…We must cast out self-righteousness and rise above petty self-interest”.

Based on my history of pride and resentment, clearly I’m not qualified to preach humility.  Even as I write this post I have to convince myself that I’m not sharing my experiences so people will think I’m an amazing writer.  Or even so that someone might thank me for being the reason they found God.  So I’ll end with the words of another remarkable leader:

“Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2010)

UPDATE (May 25)

When I wrote this post, I honestly had no thought in my mind that someone who actually knew Molly would read it, let alone Molly herself.  I had no intention of dragging her name through the mud and I hold absolutely no ill will towards her today.  She is and was a beautiful person.  Regardless of the jealousy I always had towards her, I still considered her a great friend for many years.  I think sometimes we choose friends based on our admiration of them.

My point of this post was not to prove how terrible other people are, it was to show how in need I was and am of changing.  How in need many of us are!  Pride is a terrible thing.  It is no one’s fault but my own that I carried these grudges and resentment around with me for so long and life would have been so much happier if I could have let them go and seen myself for who I really could be without being compared to others.

As for the writing style, drama always makes for better story telling right?  So while I wrote as if I still hold these feelings as a 31 year old woman, I truly don’t.  It is always easier to see the truth and the purpose behind the experiences in hind sight.  I’m grateful for what I learned about myself through these times, even if I didn’t handle them as I would have liked.

So I want to sincerely apologize to Molly (and John and that little boy who sang a solo and anyone else who I thought was living the dream that I should be living).  They don’t deserve what I have felt for them in the past.  Love you Molly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Insomniac Child

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Ever since my little Calder was an infant it has been a real struggle to get him to bed at night.  The twins have always shared a room, but when we first put them in separate beds Calder began his nightly ritual of screaming himself hoarse.  Luckily, at the time our closest neighbors were about a half a mile away so no one reported us.

Despite the lack of sleep, I do have fond memories of cuddling with my little boy as he stared at me, refusing to close his eyes.  I remember one night when he was about 18 months old that I sat in the rocker with him sprawled across my lap, gazing wide-eyed into my face, my arms falling asleep, and thought he’s so big, I’m not going to be able to do this for much longer. 

Eventually his terrified howls turned into hysterical laughter.  After an hour-long bedtime routine, the lights are turned off and we slowly exit the room.  Seconds later, the laughter starts.  I peek in his room and whisper “Quiet, Calder,” and the giggles instantly halt.  Before I’ve taken 2 steps out of the door frame, it starts right back up.

After a few minutes the room is quiet.  But then we hear a soft creak in the door and look to see two little eyes peeping through the crack.  As I start towards his room, he turns to run and I hear a fast pitter-patter as he jumps back into bed.  When I enter the room, I approach the bed and kneel beside it.  I whisper, “Calder, everyone is sleeping.  Can you go to sleep too?”  “Yes,” he says.  “You promise?”  “Promise,” he replies.  “Okay…I love you.  Goodnight”.

You can guess how this goes on for the next hour or so.  Promises mean nothing to a three-year-old.  Sometimes it results in a firm pat on the bottom and a few tears shed.  Many nights the same thing happens in the middle of the night.  Aaron and I take turns going to his room and trying to coax him into falling asleep.  Once he (and we) have exhausted all our tricks, there’s nothing left to do but just wait it out.

Several days ago, this happened.  At about 3 AM, I laid in bed looking up at the ceiling with my eyes wide opened, thinking about what I needed to do the next day and if any of it required a well-rested body and mind.

Suddenly I remembered that the previous evening, as we tried “the usual” to get Calder to bed, Jade burst into a song that went something like “Go to sleep, go to sleep, you need to get your re-e-est…”, to the tune of — what else? — Let it Go.  Aaron and I laughed and tried to continue with the song.

And that night, at 3 AM, I did continue the song.  And this is what transpired:

The light still shines through my window tonight.
Jammies on and teeth are brushed,
lullabies of twinkling stars, ABC’s and babies hushed.
The sun is setting but I’m still awake inside.
Couldn’t close my eyes even if I tried.

I need a drink, my diaper’s wet,
there’s a monster underneath my bed.
One more light on so I can see, Mom, please.

Stay awake, stay awake, don’t wanna sleep anymore.
Stay awake, stay awake, don’t know what this beds for.
Parents still watching TV.
Maybe Oso’s on…
I don’t think sleeping is for me.

Funny how the darkness makes everything more fun,
but despite my curiosity I can’t play with anyone.

Brother, wake up and play with me.
It’s more fun than your bed, you’ll see.
We’ll play dress up with our dirty laundry.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’m having so much fun.
Stay awake, stay awake, can’t be the only one.
Mom thinks its necessary,
but I’m not tired.

My bed is soaring through the air to outer space.
I’m strapped into my bright blue car and I’m ready to race.
My yellow submarine’s submerged beneath the sea.
Fire truck’s on it’s way with help to those in need.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll miss something if I blink.
Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll never sleep a wink.
There’s so much to do and see!
When will the sun rise?
I don’t think sleeping is for me…

I would like to take credit, but if it weren’t for my clever daughter and my insomniac son, none of this would have taken place.  Oh, how I love them!

In the days that followed, I got it in my head that this was going to be something big.  So I pondered and worked and sang and edited and three short days later…

 

 

 

A little regret and a lot of perspective

This weekend has brought with it a lot of reflection, as well as a handful of stories via blog-surfing, that really knocked some sense into my hard head.

For the last two days I’ve been listening to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Since college, I’ve always really looked forward to this weekend twice a year and have made a huge effort to watch all 8 hours of it.  Since 2007 it has gotten progressively more difficult to listen with full intent, but I do my best because every time, without a doubt, it redirects my focus down the right path.  And one day I hope all my babies will be teenagers who really look forward to and benefit from this weekend as well.

As I come close to the end of this conference, my head is spinning with confusion about how certain things can seem so important one moment and totally insignificant the next.

Before I forget precisely why I am posting this, I want to admit that my resentment towards people who don’t care about Zumba was entirely misdirected.  In fact, I had a friend stop me in the grocery store yesterday and explain why she hasn’t been able to come the last couple of weeks.  She told me she had been so sad to have to miss it because it is the highlight of her week.  And not only that, her 5 year old daughter was so sad to miss it because she loves to come play with the other kids!  My response — “Oh, don’t worry about it!  I completely understand.  I missed you!” — sounded sort of forced coming out of my mouth after what I posted the previous day.  But I realized it was actually more true than I thought.  Why did I start doing it again anyway?  Not for the praise of people around me, but to hopefully build closer relationships with people I didn’t usually spend time with, and show them a way to be healthy in the process…if they were interested.  Mission accomplished.  If anything, my resentment should have been directed at myself for being disappointed that I couldn’t stick to my original purpose.

So what I said Friday was exactly what I said it was…venting.  I had a strong emotion that somehow I needed to release, and it came out as anger towards people who I’m sure all had very logical reasons.  I’m over it, hopefully for good.  And I owe apologies to the innocent victims of my anger.

Now in the process of coming to this conclusion, I also came across two stories that just made me want to punch myself in the stomach for being so self-absorbed.  One was this one about a little boy who survived drowning a couple of years ago.  The other was this story about a mother of 5 children whose husband was shot in Boise, ID a few years ago by the husband of the woman he was having an affair with!  Okay, I can’t think of very many things worse than either of those two scenarios.  Except for maybe this one where the child didn’t survive the drowning.  Or the story of the father whose car was was hit by a drunk driver, ending the life of two of his children and his wife who was 6 months pregnant.  And of course the Nielsen family’s story is both tragic and inspiring.  Don’t click on any of these links unless you’re ready and willing to invest a significant amount of time retracing the steps of their tragic stories as you mourn with them.  You have been warned.

At this very moment, I have a good friend who is at Primary Children’s hospital with her 2 year old daughter who is undergoing a clinical trial for a very rare form of leukemia.  While they were very blessed to have caught it when they did and to have made it into this trial (she was #75 in a trial that only had room for 75!), they have a very long road ahead.  And not only that, but she has a pre-teen daughter with autism who she had to leave at home with friends and family.

All of these stories are incredible examples of faith and forgiveness.  Today as I look at my life it almost seems unfair that I’ve had it so easy.  And it scares me what could lie ahead in order for me to learn these principles.  Maybe you’ve heard the concept that if everyone were to put their trials into a pile in the middle of a room, you’d be quick to pick your own back up?

No, Multiple Sclerosis is not fantastic, but would I choose it over cancer?  Yes, of course.

Yes, having 4 kids within 5 years has been very physically and emotionally demanding.  But would I prefer to not be able to have children?  Or would I have chosen a career instead if I could go back?  Definitely not.

I understand that my Father in Heaven knows and loves me and has designed my life, with all its joys and challenges, specifically with my potential and progression in mind.  I’m really trying to find joy in MY journey and not envy someone else’s journey.  I’d love to constantly have an “attitude of gratitude” not only for my blessings and times of ease, but for the hard times that make me stronger.

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A time to laugh, a time to dance, and a time to vent.

If I was a mathematician, I could tell you the exact probability, statistically speaking, that people will show up if you invite them to something.  For example, if you invite 300 people to a wedding, you can count on 33% of them not coming so you’d only plan food for about 200.  The no-shows’ reasoning for not coming would vary, anywhere from “I live in New York and the wedding is in Hawaii” to “Honey, who is this person?  I don’t think we’ve ever met.  Oh, she’s your mother’s second cousin’s ex-husband’s new wife?  Okay, she probably won’t notice if we don’t show up.”  But even then, they’d probably send a gift.

But let’s say you plan something that is not only NOT in Hawaii, it is just down the street.  You offer to change the time if it doesn’t work into people’s schedule.  You tell them they can bring children so “my husband is working and all the kids are home” can’t be an excuse.  You invite 92 of your closest (emotionally and geographically speaking) friends to come.  And best of all, its FREE!  Now even if 66% of your invitees didn’t show up, that would still leave you with 30 guests.  Even if 90% of the people you invited didn’t show up, you’d still have a cozy little group of 10.

So if you’re really good at math, tell me, what is the percentage if only 3 of the 92 people show up to your convenient, fun, and free event?  This is a fun game, huh?

You may have already guessed that this is precisely what happened to ME this morning when I invited NINETY-TWO people to come to my FREE Zumba class.  I’ll be honest, I actually had five guests and not three, but that’s because one of the friends I invited, invited two of her own friends.  And 100% of the people she invited came.

This is actually nothing new for me.  I’ve been teaching Zumba for 4 years, and I actually think I’m pretty good at it, but I never could discover a magic formula for how to pack your classes.  Which is why I already decided I was done teaching, and then I decided again, and again!  And then I composed myself, blogged about it, and then changed my mind.  I’m such a glutton for punishment, I don’t know why I keep coming back to this.

But please, if you have someone close to you, or even just an acquaintance of no exceptional importance, who asks you to join them for something that they’ve put a lot of work into, do them a favor and just accept!  It will make their day.

Okay, thanks for listening.  Have a nice weekend 🙂

 

Making unorganized matter…organized. And making it matter.

Several months ago I wrote the following in a post entitled Leave No Path Untaken:

“I have an innate need to be part of things.  And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it.  Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round…It’s really difficult for me to feel just mediocre.  I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do.  There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day.  Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!”

I think a lot about the need I have to somehow make every moment a memorable one.  Blog-worthy.  Epic even.  Last week I had one such experience which I would consider to be particularly remarkable.

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For the last few years I’ve attended a conference called Time Out For Women with my Mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It is, exactly as it sounds, an opportunity for women to give themselves a break from daily tasks, whatever they may be, and focus on what makes them (us) special and important.  Each conference has a line up of inspirational speakers and musical guests (both men and women).  This year the line up included an incredible singer/songwriter/guitarist and also husband/father named Justin Cash.

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Well, since I don’t really ever “give myself break”, I used his performance time to imagine a scenario in which I got him a job working for my dad and devised a plan for how I would make this a reality.  If/when this worked out, Justin would have a great job, Dad gets a fabulous artist, I have something to say to this singer after the show besides “I really enjoyed your music!”  Everybody wins!  Of course I couldn’t just sit and enjoy the show.

Ironically, Justin also had a few things to say between songs and what came out was a paraphrase of the following quote by Elder Dieter Uchtdorf (Member of the LDS church general presidency):

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty… As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”

Hey, that’s what I’m doing!  Thank you for the validation, Elder Uchtdorf.

So after the show, I approached Justin and, in the most composed voice I could muster, pitched to him my idea for his future.  Not wanting to offend him by implying that he needed a better gig, I think I apologized and smiled a lot.  But I was thanked with a hug and a napkin to write on.  I gave him my dad’s email address, with “Tell him Whitney referred you” scribed underneath.  Again I apologized and explained why I had written my own name on the napkin, he laughed and thanked me, I wished him luck and we parted ways.

I just realized how many times I referred to him as “Justin” so apparently from my end the meeting went well and we are now on a first name basis.

I was very inspired by this conference and did actually listen and not try to respond to or intervene with the majority of the show.  It was a good feeling to be recognized for the things I’m already doing, and encouraging to see that change is possible for me.  Probably the next few posts will have to do with things I learned from this experience.  But for now I’m going to make one last helpful (and hopefully profitable) plug!

If you’re reading this and you live in the Charleston, South Carolina area, please make this a priority!  It’s an incredible show created by a couple of people who I love very much, who also happen to have been very talented Broadway performers.  Maybe if you mention me they’ll give you a discount!

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I believe in karma.  Maybe…just maybe…now a spot will open up for me in their cast 😉

 

 

 

One choice can transform you

My enthusiasm for young adult fiction may have reached its pinnacle this past week.

If you, like me, savor this genre of reading material then you also know that the movie Divergent will be in theaters this week.  To celebrate this special event, a friend of mine assigned the book of the same name as this months book-club read.  Upon completion of reading something for a book-club, typically you gather together to discuss feelings about your experience reading the book.  YA fiction fans do things a little differently.

Here is a schedule of events for our book-club meeting:

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•As you enter you will be greeted by a table upon which the 5 factions are displayed.  Here you should choose a tattoo and use the small dish of water and cotton applicators to mark yourself before full entrance into the event.

•Take the following test to determine which faction you will continue on with in the choosing ceremony:

1. You most want your friends and family to see you as someone who…

  • A. Is willing to make sacrifices and help anyone in need.
  • B. Is liked by everyone.
  • C. Is trustworthy.
  • D. Will protect them no matter what happens.
  • E. Offers wise advice.

2. When you are faced with a difficult problem, you react by…

  • A. Doing whatever will be the best thing for the greatest number of people.
  • B. Creating a work of art that expresses your feelings about the situation.
  • C. Debating the issue with your friends.
  • D. Facing it head-on. What else would you do?
  • E. Making a list of pros and cons, and then choosing the option that the evidence best supports.

3. What activity would you most likely find yourself doing on the weekend or an unexpected day off?

  • A. Volunteering.
  • B. Painting, dancing, or writing poetry.
  • C. Sharing opinions with your friends.
  • D. Rock climbing or skydiving!
  • E. Catching up on your homework or reading for pleasure.

4. If you had to select of of the following options as a profession, which would you choose?

  • A. Humanitarian.
  • B. Farmer.
  • C. Judge.
  • D. Firefighter.
  • E. Scientist.

5. When choosing you outfit for the day, you select…

  • Whatever will attract the least amount of attention.
  • B. Something comfortable, but interesting to look at.
  • C. Something that’s simple but still expresses your personality.
  • D. Whatever will attract the most attention.
  • E. Something that will not distract or inhibit you from what you have to do that day.

6. If you discovered that a friend’s significant other was being unfaithful, you would…

  • A. Tell your friend because you feel that it is unhealthy for him or her to continue in a relationship where such selfish behavior is present.
  • B. Sit them both down so that you can act as a mediator when they talk it over.
  • C. Tell your friend as soon as possible. You can’t imagine keeping that knowledge a secret.
  • D. Confront the cheater! You might also take action by slashing the cheater’s tires or egging his or her house—all in the name of protecting your friend, of course.
  • E. Keep it to yourself, statistics show that your friend will find out eventually.

7. What would you say is your highest priority right now?

  • A. Serving those around you.
  • B. Finding peace and happiness for yourself.
  • C. Seeking truth in all things.
  • D. Developing your strength of character.
  • E. Success in work or school.

•To determine your faction, simply add up the number you have of each letter.  Depending on your propensity towards being selfless, honest, peaceful, intelligent, or brave, you will either continue as Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, or Dauntless respectively.

•Once you have chosen your faction, you, along with the other members of your faction, will start on a journey that will take you from home base to the grocery store 2 miles away on foot in 20 degree weather through the snow.  Without getting caught.

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I almost didn’t go.  I didn’t really want to.  I’m so glad I did!

Even though I am not a good runner, and it was very cold, and I was hiding in bushes and against people’s houses wearing all black while dogs barked at us, and we easily could have been identified as criminals and stopped by authorities (I mean look at us, don’t we look scary??), it was definitely worth it.  Especially since my group got there first.

I would definitely be Dauntless now.  Can’t wait to see the movie!

For the beauty of the Earth, Mom, geez.

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In anticipation of what was sure to occur on this Sabbath day, I took the following preemptive action.

Me (to Jade):  I think we should sit down and make a list of what would be appropriate Sunday activities.  Like drawing or writing letters or learning about our ancestors.

Jade:  What about going outside to play with Mallory?

Me (skeptical):  Explain to me how that is an appropriate Sunday activity.

Jade (In her best beauty-pageant-contestant voice):  Well, it would give me an opportunity to see the beauty that is all around us in this world.

Well played, Jade.