Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Monstrosity that is the Music Industry

I already knew the music industry was in a downward spiral since... well... forever but especially since the 90s. But after just a few pictures an one video about this past VMAs (Video Music Awards) I am completely appalled and disgusted.

What the freak is this crap that these people are pumping out? From Miley Cyrus's flagrantly slutty behavior and outfit and performance to some of the most inappropriate music videos by Nick Jonas and heaven only knows the name of the other idiots with a recording studio....

What. the. hell. 

I'm sorry, but that is warranted right now. Do these people think that they're making music or making porn videos with a soundtrack? I'm not usually one who pays much attention to Pink, but what she said about the VMAs was actually spot on:

I felt sad because music is supposed to inspire. It saved my life. This trash won't save any kid's life. In a world that is even scarier and with lives still worth saving, who will stand up and have soul? Disenfranchised to say the least. Let down by my industry and peers [...] [it was] gross and embarrassing and hard for this pop star to believe. 

And for once, I'm surprised to say I find myself agreeing with Pink. Music can be fun and I certainly have had my share of Andy Grammar, the Beach Boys, Blink-182 and Parachute. I am all for the upbeat, funny music that I love.

However, along with the fun videos and fun music there needs to be some substance somewhere. Especially when musicians and others in a state of power have the means and the influence to change the world for the better. 

Lindsey Stirling has incorporated many positive uplifting things in her music videos, calling attention to poor kids with little means who want to be musicians, helping others realize that they should pursue their talents and dreams and so forth while still being fun and positive.

Sara Bareilles has since rereleased her song, "Brave" in honor of the documentary about Linda Vasquez called "Brave Heart" which calls to attention about bullying.

Katie Melua wrote the song, "Spider's Web" about the Iraq war and donated all the proceeds of that single to the charity, Save the Children after the civil war and tsunami that took place there.

Amy Lee of Evanescence donated all proceeds of her single "Together Again" to help with the Haiti earthquakes that happened not to mention depicting in her music videos time and time again the shallowness and emptiness of the music industry and pop culture. ex. Everybody's Fool and Going Under.

I'm sure there are others that I've overlooked. But that is what I believe music should do. Yes, it is to entertain, like movies, books and TV, but it should also call to attention real issues that are going on. Stephen King said, "Fiction is the truth inside of the lie."

That should be said for all forms of "fiction." Music, music videos, movies, TV shows, books etc. But all I can see is that the music industry is producing a "lie inside of the lie." There's no truth in any of the crap they've pumped out.

Let me just give a brief example by listing the titles and or lyrics to some of the songs nominated:

Arctic Monkeys-Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High-- well, not much room for the imagination there as part of the lyrics describing a person who only calls/texts them when they're high. I'm assuming he's not implying that they're "high on life" but rather that they're actually high on drugs. Exhibit A.

Nicki Minaj-Anaconda-- I'm not gonna go into the lyrics since the title speaks for itself. Needless to say it's disgustingly overtly sexual, anti-feminist, disrespectful to both men AND women, and just plain stupid. Exhibit B.

The Weekend-Earned It-- UGH. This music video SUCKS. It's full of sex! Not to mention this was featured on the Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack. Nuff' said. Exhibit C.

I could go on but if the actual music videos being shown weren't bad enough, it was the performances that were absolutely despicable, banal, hedonistic, abhorrent, cheap and straight up gross.

And these people are the ones shaping the impressionable young minds of the millennials and future generations? With their empty lyrics and their crappy hooks?

I'm disgusted by both the music industry and the musicians who take part in this desensitization to morals who are encouraging lack of responsibility for actions and lack of respect to men and women.

Maybe I'm too opinionated for my own good. Maybe I just need to not take everything so seriously and look for things that are wrong around me. But I can't help it. If I see something I don't like or don't agree with, I have to say something.

I've always been repulsed by the music industry and by the music that is produced in the genres of pop, hip-hop and rap, really even extending to my genres I love like rock. But I'm even more so recently just with the conduct and music that were displayed there.

And that is my rant. It will most likely go unnoticed along with the other things I've blogged about. I blog about positive things and it gets ignored. I blog about controversial stuff, and all of a sudden everyone has an opinion.


At least it's out there, and I feel better getting it off my chest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Death of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Resurrection of Creativity

So I guess this blog has been less about my adventures in writing and reading and more about my opinions on life and hot topics of today.

I'm fine with that, but I guess I should probably separate blogging for writing and reading only and another blog where I can actually state opinions on a wide variety of topics.

To jump right into it, I've been increasingly more concerned that many Americans are becoming more and more concerned about certain types of flags being flown from the South, lions being killed in other countries, and celebrities getting their iclouds hacked than real and incredibly crucial subjects that are directly affecting us as a culture, as a society, and as a country.

In reading many articles from the Huffington Post, the Smithsonian Magazine, and watching TED talks, I've become increasingly concerned about the decline, or better yet, failing of our public school systems, and even some of our colleges.

I call for a revolution, and I call for it right now.

Here are the things I do not agree with as far as education goes, and some of the reasons for why education needs to be changeed. Later, I'll actually write down a list of my ideas I've gleaned from Sir Ken Robinson, who's written books and assisted school districts & other school systems in reforming education, as well as from Finland's education system that has been in the top five ranked best education systems in the world.

But first, I'll tell you my reasons for why I want a revolution in our education. And I'll start with two stories to show you from my own experiences in middle school for a sampling of what is wrong with the way we educate.

1. I was 12 years old, in my sixth grade sex ed class, with an atrocious P.E. teacher. Hard-nosed, narrow-minded, monotonous woman, but I didn't really think much of her until a particular day when we were discussing, with wonderful detailed pictures, the effects of gonorrhea and chlamydia. I was even more grateful that this class occurred just before lunch! Anyway, I was blissfully ignoring this woman who was talking about all manner of disgusting things. Because I had already been taught about sex from my parents, I figured the lesson didn't apply to me and had my nose buried in a library book. It was a wonderful mystery book entitled The Doll in the Garden by Mary Dawning Hahn. As I was reading, I noticed that it was eerily quiet around me, but I was so enthralled in the characters I hardly notice if there's a mushroom cloud outside my window, let alone if a teacher is staring daggers at me. Which this teacher was. I finally realized what was going on when a classmate poked me in the side to get my attention. This "teacher" said nothing. Just stared at me till I closed my book. She didn't gracefully come over to my desk, whisper in my ear for other classmates not to hear, that I should refrain from reading till the end of class. She didn't wait till the end of class to pull me aside privately to let me know that though reading is admirable, there's a time and a place for it like Miss Stacey did with Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. Oh no! She treated me as if I had just committed a criminal offense. For reading a library book. In the middle of a nauseating sex ed class. Now I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with sex ed and I'm not saying that me reading during a class is at all admissible. What I am saying is that when a good student who never gets into any fights or has never seen the inside of detention is found reading a book in the middle of a class that is obviously uncomfortable a little slack would be appreciated. Not to mention the fact that I'm sure if I were a teacher, I would kill for those types of "behavioral problems" of reading a book in class instead of paying attention as opposed to throwing paper airplanes, fighting, talking over me, or pulling pranks. Please. This teacher had no idea how to handle a classroom situation of the like, and would rather that I stare at the effects of crabs on a projector, than increase my vocabulary and broaden my intellectual horizons and as a result, strengthen my self-awareness, self-confidence and self-worth that is needed in situations that could PREVENT me from making bad choices like irresponsibly sleeping with a guy I don't know. I speak for myself, obviously. The point is, (sorry this became more of a rant), where are our priorities? On education or indoctrination? On lesson plans or learning?

2.) This is a more positive story (though sad when you think about it). I was 14 in the same middle school, in the eighth grade. I had found a marvelous English teacher whose name I can't recall, but I will never forget her. She engrossed me in every lesson, and I waited with baited breath to learn from her and to do her assignments. She was a fantastic teacher, very young and knew how to relate to us. She had started the lesson of that day by asking how many of us (in the class) knew what the Holocaust was. I was the only person who raised my hand. In a class of 20 students. Needless to say, my teacher tried to hide her mortified look unsuccessfully as she proceeded to teach an impromptu lesson about the Holocaust and World War II to a bunch of teenagers who should've been taught that long ago. She saw the need to educate the class on the Holocaust & World War II and instead of sticking to her lesson plan, taught us according to our needs. THAT is a teacher who deserves a major award. And a bonus.

So what do these two experiences have to do with each other? Other than the fact that they happened while I was in middle school? First off, from the first story, I believe that the education system has become too industrialized. It's preparing children to be factory workers and farmers! That's why they have summers off, so they can work in the fields to plant crops. That's why children have to march from classroom to classroom when the bell rings because that's what happens in a factory. That's why they have close to eight hour school days! We have an assembly line mentality that we have to feed children through K-12 as fast as possible and treat them all exactly the same way, forgetting that every child is different, and every child learns differently.

This has to stop.

Not only is it debilitating, it's destructive. Children get into their minds that if they don't meet the status quo of standardized tests or the narrow incredibly selective path of careers and education, that they are stupid and somehow abnormal in a bad way. I believe that this leads to behavioral problems and even in later years, criminal activity.

Children who are told that they must learn to take a test are far less likely to excel and find their talents and abilities than children who are simply encouraged to learn.

Aptitude tests, ACT/SATs, etc prove only a minuscule portion of a child's intelligence. And yet we use these tests to determine what direction their lives will take and if they are "smart" or "clever."

Another alarming thing I've found disturbing, apart from the streamlining children in education, is the fact that there is a hierarchy of subjects in schools. Mathematics, science and literature are at the top of the list, whereas the arts, music, dance and theater are at the bottom of the rung. Education is more about conformity and less about diversity. It is more about dumping information into the brains of children, instead of letting them explore and develop their talents. Many people go through school not finding what they're good at because they don't excel at the things that society or that schools believe to be "important" and therefore never figure out where their talents lie.

Why? We, as a society, are craving, and more so need, children nowadays to become the next Van Goghs, the next Shakespeares, the next Einsteins, the next Mozarts. How can we do this? How can we have children become creators of masterpieces and innovators when we are deliberately stripping them of their possibilities and opportunities through our old-modeled education systems?

The education system was invented in the 19th century to accompany the Industrialist Age. It is literally two centuries old. It is outdated. How is it that we have made incredible leaps and bounds in technology and medicine, when we have not made a single step in the advancement and transformation of education? How? How is that possible?

Another observation I've made in regards to education in correlation to its quality, is the stark divergence between wealthy school and poorer schools. Now, I don't believe that everything in this country should be free, and I'm very much of the mindset that socialism will not work in this country as it can in countries like Canada, the UK and others. However, I do strongly believe that education should be one of the things that should be free and equal to everyone and that there should not be a disparity between the quality of education in poor and rich areas.

If our children are the future, should we not give all of them equal opportunities to succeed? How many Beethovens, Reagans, Rembrandts, Hawkings and Dickens are we overlooking simply because they are born or raised in disadvantaged circumstances? Why is it schools are better in richer areas than in poorer areas? Why? How on earth is that in our best interest?

I believe that not only should the federal government keep their noses OUT of our school systems (as far as policies go). The only "help" the federal government should give to schooling is money. Equal money to all schools regardless of location, rank or poverty level. Sound a little hippie-dippie socialist? Sure it does. But I'd MUCH rather the feds give money (and LOTS OF IT) to K-12 schools than free healthcare, including free abortions. I'd trade that all day everyday, especially if it means that children will be educated better to become BETTER doctors. See what I did there?

I believe that teachers should be given additional training in Masters degrees, if they have not already received one, and collaborate with other teachers in how to improve their teaching methods.

How often do good teachers know what their students need, but are unable or greatly restricted in helping them because of the red-tape bureaucratic bull crap that they have to put up with inflicted by our beloved federal government? And why are lawmakers, who are NOT teachers, making important policy changes on education when they themselves are not the ones to enforce them in the classrooms and will never see its far reaching effects?

Francis of Assisi said, "Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance." Emma Goldman said, "The most violent element in society is ignorance." So what is the cure to violence in society. Knowledge. And I have a plan as to how to rectify our education system.

I have a proposed plan on how to completely redefine education. It may seem crazy, but if we're to believe that children are the future, and that in the long-term we'll cut down costs of prisons and rehab centers that most of these children in poverty will face because of the bleakness of their own future, I believe we should do and pay as much as it takes to make our education system incredible.

I also propose that we should do an experiment, if lawmakers and politicians think it won't work nationwide, we should try it in a state that is a.) ranked the lowest on test scores/aptitude tests, b.) a state that is generally a "low income" state c.) have parents & communities how are genuinely concerned about the education of their children and d.) have qualified teachers teaching all 9 subjects listed below.

Here is my proposal:

1.) I believe first off that every child should be given not only access to a free lunch but a free breakfast. That every child be required to be at school at 7:45 Monday-Thursday to get a juice/milk, fruit, cereal or breakfast sandwich.

Researching on child hunger in conjunction with performance in school it's no wonder that kids do poorly in classes before lunch because roughly 51% of them come from low-income households who don't feed them breakfast! Almost every poor child comes to school hungry. How can we expect them to pay attention and absorb the information given to them if they're starving? And if you don't believe me, just look at a few of the websites below.

If we want children to do well in school and pay attention, then we need to make sure they start off their day right, with a healthy full breakfast. Yeah, it's again gonna cost us money, but dammit we've been spending too much money on dumb crap anyway. Why don't we actually spend our tax dollars on our education system. On the children and young adults in our country, who will end up making our country better anyway?

2.) We need to a.) make every subject equal including the arts & humanities as well as the science & mathematics b.) make school days be only 3 hours & 45 minute or 4 hour days with 45 minute classes each instead of 7-8 hour days and c.) have two rotating schedules like a Monday/Wednesday class schedule and a Tuesday/Thursday schedule with Friday, Saturday and Sundays off of school.

For example:

1. Reading
1. Social Studies
1. Reading
1. Social Studies
2. Math
2. Dance
2. Math
2. Dance
3. Music
3. Art
3. Music
3. Art
4. Theater
4. P.E.
4. Theater
4. P.E.
5. Writing
5. Science
5. Writing
5. Science

Before first class of the day, 7:45- Breakfast for all students
First class of the day starting at 8:00
Each class period is 45 minutes long
Between 3rd and 4th class periods are lunch breaks which last 30 minutes long
Each class period will have a 5 minute break period for students to study or sit quietly or rest at the end (40 minute instruction time)
Each class subject may be switched with others on different days according to the needs of the students and teachers (for example: Art and Math may be swapped with each other, Dance for Music, Science with Writing etc. this is simply a rough example for scheduled classes but may be modified.)
Each teacher will teach his/her own subject (no coaches also teaching Math or Social Studies teachers teaching English etc. a coach is a coach of P.E., a Music teacher only teaches Music etc.)
Reading & Writing will be split into to two different subjects due to the fact that some students excel at reading, while struggling with writing and vice versa. Reading and writing are two separate disciplines and should not be fused as one subject.
School ends at 12:00 noon every day, Monday-Thursday. From noon till 4:00PM, students still are required to be at school (unless a parent or guardian decides to pick them up) and attend extra-curricular activities and clubs. If students do not want to participate in extra-curricular activities, they are required to do homework in the cafeteria from noon to 4:00PM.
Examples of extracurricular activities/clubs are: Astronomy Club, Debate Team, Art Club, Band, Poet's Society, Football, Choir, Basketball, Photography Club, Dance, Film Club, Graphic Design Club, Computer Science Club, Spanish Club, Math Team, Baseball, Engineering Society, Orchestra, Lacrosse, Humanities Club, Archaeology Club etc.
After noon every day, teachers may choose to prepare lesson plans for following day.
Teachers should be allowed to construct their own lesson plans and choose their own text books.
There should be 1 teacher for every 7 students.
Classes should have mixed-ability students, not students grouped together according to age, whatever skill level a child is at depends on what types of classes they should take. (for example, a student who excels at Reading & Writing should be in an advanced Reading & Writing class but if the same student performs poorly in Math, the student should be placed in a Math class according to his/her skill level, not age group)

To end, I will simply share a quote by Bill Richardson & Elbert Hubbard.

"Ignorance has always been the weapon of tyrants; enlightenment the salvation of the free." "The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence."

If this country is going to be free and stay free, we need to educate our children and young people better. If we keep on going the way our education system has been in this country, our government will turn to tyranny, because future generations will be uneducated. They will not have the proper tools needed to fight evil and battle injustices. They will succumb to false doctrines and ideals that will lead them to turn to terrorism, radical groups, crime and ignorance.

Let us start now to change the education system using some of the things I've researched above.

If we do so, we will have a brighter future. And more importantly, our children will be blessed with knowledge and wisdom that they will need to battle enemies both at home and abroad.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Politically Correct/Easily Offended Epidemic

Okay, so I don't think the majority of people, myself included, really try to offend others. Me personally, I don't enjoy arguments or contention. I'd rather avoid them altogether.

However, it is physically impossible to go through this life without offending someone unless you literally don't say or do anything but even then there's no guarantee because really awful, douchey jerks can say that they're offended by your existence.

Anyway, it's really becoming an issue for me and I honestly think there needs to be more people talking about how our culture and this generation is using the term "politically correct" or "tolerance" as substitute words for "easily offended."

Seriously, this country's first amendment guarantees the right to free speech and freedom of religion. Yet, somehow that's only applicable unless you don't offend anyone with your opinions, thoughts, or beliefs?

I'm not referring to freedom of participating and promoting incredibly degrading and obviously offensive things like pornography and slander. Because to be honest, pornography is offensive and everyone should be offended by it. But that's not what I'm talking about. (Yet ironically people are more offended by very innocent comments MUCH MORE than pornography. Oh the hypocrisy. Also, by the way, pornography isn't just nudey pictures of people. I don't think the Sistine Chapel is pornographic. 50 Shades of Grey on the other hand, is.)

I'm talking about the fact that people get offended by some of the stupidest things I've ever heard and are constantly judging and criticizing things others say. If I were to say something along the lines of "Motherhood is the most revered and honored calling a woman will ever have," or "no one can replace the role of a mother" I will suddenly get a long list of hate comments from trollers saying I'm "anti-feminist" or something along those lines.

If I say something about how amazing husbands and fathers are, and how important their contribution to society is, I'm suddenly reviled as being a "patriarchal misogynistic."

If I say something patriotic about how wonderful the United States of America is and how my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for this country, I'm suddenly "xenophobic" and an "ultranationalist."

Man, so much for freedom of speech, am I right?

I'm just so freaking sick of this garbage. Anyone who is looking to be offended by someone or something will find a way to be offended.

And no amount of tip-toeing, mamby pamby, "there there," walking-on-eggshells-while-we-try-to-find-another-way-of-saying-something is going to stop these types of people from getting offended. Period. End of story.

I think we, as a society, have taken ourselves far too seriously. However, I am certainly not promoting vicious attacks and comments directed at any sort of group of people based on race, religion, sexual orientation, sexual preference, ethnicity, social status, gender, or age or any of the other categories we as humans have elected to create for ourselves. That is never okay and never acceptable.

What I am saying is just stop complaining so freaking much! Look at your life! I can promise you it's not nearly as bad as you might think it is. Not to mention the fact that the more we "passa mao sobre da cabeca da pessoa" as the Brazilian's say it, or "patting them on the head and saying 'there there'" the more they will feed off of that attention! There are far too many "bleeding martyrs" lately claiming they're offended by so-in-so and saying they're being discriminated against by this and that.


If the term "one nation under God" or "in God we trust" offends you so much, you can leave. As in leave this country. Aint nobody asking you to stay here! Here's the door, don't let it hit you on the way out. Fact is, the country was founded because of religious freedom and it just so happened that all if not most of our Founding Fathers believed in God or a Higher Being. Ugh. Quit your complaining already jeez.

If other things like only have the spaces for "Male" and "Female" on a doctor's medical sheet offend you, or if someone makes a comment on how important families and fathers and mothers are, or how that statue depicts a white man with two Native Americans, or just plain old doesn't agree with your opinion on something, GET OVER YOURSELF. Seriously.

You can and you do choose to by offended by someone or something. That is a fact. It is also your choice to get over it and move on and stop making a lawsuit and law out of everything. If we keep going the path we're going onto now, it'll be illegal to have a men's and women's bathroom! Because that's "sex discrimination."

Please. Just stop before you embarrass yourself.

We are all imperfect people in an imperfect world. Sooner or later someone is going to say or do something that is imperfect. Yes, it's frustrating but I know for a fact you've also done something that's offended someone at some point in time and space in the past or you will do something to offend someone in the future.

To add a bit of humor to this blog post, I've found a few youtube videos I think will illustrate my point even further.

The Most Politically Correct Doll Ever
Political Correctness at College

Forgive the brief language, but the first part is spot on
Night before a Non-denominational Holiday

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Prelude: A Thousand Years

I figured I'd better write a blog post about a certain handsome Canadian who has opted to be my husband December 29th of this year :)

Some of you don't know the story of where we began and might think something along the lines of, "Well that was quick."

Honestly it really wasn't. The story of me and Ian began five years ago at BYU-Idaho...

I signed up for my first film seminar class and my first screenwriting class in the winter of 2010. I walked into the film seminar class and was vaguely aware of a cute guy with glasses and perfectly swooped hair. The teacher started his schpeal on movies and began to ridicule Jurassic Park and its ending with the T. Rex who saves the day. Well, I wasn't going to stand for that so I raised my hand and made a snarky comment defending the epicness of Jurassic Park and decided that this teacher was kind of an idiot, so I got up soon after speaking my mind and left the class. I wasn't going to put up with a teacher who had no respect for Jurassic Park and early Speilberg movies! So I snuck out, thinking no one noticed my absence.

Little did I know, that the guy with glasses and perfectly swooped hair did notice me and my absence and had wanted to talk to me after the class ended.

Fast forward a few days later when I walked into the screenwriting class that same week. It was a nighttime class starting around 7:00 and ending at about 9:30 once a week. As I walked in the classroom, I scanned the room for any attractive guys I could sit next too, when my eyes landed on that same adorably boyish guy with glasses and swooped hair. I made my way over to him, sat in the desk right next to him and I think said something like "Is this the screenwriting class?" To which he responded something along the lines of "I hope so."

Since then, our screenwriting teacher, Sister Gilbert, put us in every collaborating group for the rest of the semester. But as luck would have it, every time we tried to plan a critique group session during the week, me and Ian were the only ones who showed up. I had thought that maybe it was on purpose and that Ian was trying to hit on me/ask me out but I was surprised to realize he genuinely wanted to talk about screenwriting and movies. This made me even more interested in him because of how genuine and unassuming he was.

Soon our collaboration group get togethers would be less about movies and scripts and more about life in general; what we liked and didn't like, failed relationships, our aspirations for the future and so on and so forth.

But, obviously, we didn't date right away. Ian was interested in someone and to be honest, I was still pretty young and immature. In spite of us dating other people, for whatever reason, we still remained close friends and we always ended up talking for hours and hours on end, whether it was on the phone or via facebook.

Fast forward to 2013.
my mission farewell in Utah, April 2013

I decided that, through impressions at church and personal prayers, that Heavenly Father wanted me to go on a mission. I told no one I was going other than my mom and my bishop for the longest time. 
The only other person I told was Ian. 

The night I told him that I was going on a mission was the night he told me that he loved me. Needless to say, I was shocked and a little annoyed but he backed up his thought by telling me that the Lord needed me right now. And that I belonged to Heavenly Father for the next 18 months. 
Our friendship deepened more as I drew closer to my return to Georgia before my mission in Brazil and we "dated" in the weeks that followed until then. However I knew that he was a good-looking guy and doubted that he'd "wait" for me for a year and a half. You could maybe call that pessimism but I just call that realism. I wasn't going to get my hopes up on a guy that I'd been in love with for the past three years. Yet in my heart of hearts I always felt drawn to him and he was and still is quite literally my best friend. 

I left on my mission August 21st and for the first four months of my mission I heard sporadically from Ian. I wasn't too bothered by this, mostly because I assumed he was dating other people but I enjoyed when I did get the occasional email from him.

Soon, into my fifth month I started hearing from him more often, and then I would get an email in my inbox every week. I won't share the specifics of the emails and letters here, mostly because they are special but suffices to say that he told me he was waiting for me and that I had all the qualities he wanted in a future wife. 

Still, I was dubious. Not that I doubted him so much as I doubted the many attractive girls who were in Utah and filled his social/family therapy classes. But every email for the next year strengthened my faith that maybe he was serious. Many of my missionary companions were more convinced than I that I would marry him as soon as I got off the plane. 

A few days after I was released as a missionary at the end of February, I had my first phone call from Ian. Even though I was incredibly skittish and strange being a newly returned missionary, he was very patient and understanding as I tried to figure out if he was really who I wanted to date and marry. The only issue was, I was in Georgia without much funds, and he was in Utah finishing up his undergrad. 

From about March to April we essentially dated long distance. As much as I tried convincing myself and him that we needed to date in the same state and date for a while before things got serious, it came to a point where I didn't want to wait anymore. With each FaceTime call it grew harder and harder to not be talking with him and to be so far away from him. 

Finally, I got a job interview for the dream job of mine (the Liahona magazine) and didn't tell Ian I was flying out for it. He just assumed they were phone interviews. With the help of one of my best girl friends, Stacey, I flew in and stayed at her place and she drove me to my interviews. That night, after my interviews were done, Stacey drove me to his house and we waited for him to get home off of his internship. When I saw him rounding the corner to go up the stairs to his apartment I yelled his name and nearly scared the crap out of him. When he realized who I was, I'll never forget the look on his face as long as I live. It was like a man who'd been denied water for days and had finally gotten a waterfall. 

He hugged me and didn't kiss me (though he was worried about making Stacey uncomfortable) and for the next few days we just enjoyed being with each other for the first time in a long time. 

First weekend with Ian after mish

And so after weeks of waiting to see if I got the job, I was finally able to move officially out to Utah, and better yet, be out there for Ian's graduation from BYU!

I was able to meet his wonderful family and we were finally geographically together to date.

Which leads us to now! After a few months of getting to know each other, our quirks, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, pet peeves, and worst moments we decided to make it official.

He flew out with me to Georgia to meet my family and ask permission from my mom to marry me, and also ask permission to get a certain priceless family heirloom to put on my finger.

The Swan House, Atlanta GA 
It must've went well because he claims he loves my family, even after putting up with all their quirks that I love, and they didn't maul him like they said they would so the week after the Georgia trip, we took my mom/great grandma's ring to get resized and shined up and he proposed Sunday July 12.

And so now we've come full circle! After five years and several set backs, we're getting married in the Payson Utah temple for time and all eternity on December 29th, 2015. Though I have to admit, eloping is sounding better and better by the hour. 

Even though I hate the Twilight franchise and the Twilight movies, the one thing I do like that is related to them is Christina Perri's A Thousand Years song. For the past five years, every conversation I've had with Ian, whether it be on the phone, via facebook or email, that song has always come on the radio or my iPod that's on shuffle. 

Ironically enough, the lyrics fit our story almost perfectly. 

Darling don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more 

After years and years of fruitless dates, endless array of tool-bags, and horrible disappointments, I've finally found someone who knows even the darkest and dustiest corners of my soul. Who likes it when I get feisty and fierce about something, who loves everything from The Muppets to Mystery Science Theater to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to Horatio Hornblower and everything in between, who wants to write a screenplay together with me, who wants me to publish my book, who wants me to continue playing to violin, who thinks I have a beautiful singing voice, who thinks I'm beautiful even with sparse eyebrows and huge owl glasses, who whispers the sweetest, kindest things to me when we're cuddling watching a movie, who makes me dinner every single night, who isn't offended or put off by my sense of humor or my intense love of books, who will actually encourage me to go in a store if I see something I like and try it on, who wants me to go to Grad school and accomplish all of my dreams, who I can have a deep Gospel discussion with, who wants to travel with me to places I've picked out, who respects me enough to want me to be modest in my swimsuits and skirts, who wants to play video games with me, who is incredibly spiritual and very in tune with the Spirit in every aspect of his life, who understands my love of Harry Potter, who is incredibly quick to forgive and deeply loyal, who loves Beauty and the Beast as much as I do, and so much more!

So this has turned into a novel, but to close up I have to say, I can't wait to marry my best guy friend. I can't wait to be able to fall asleep by his side and wake up to him every morning. Here's to eternity, babe! I get you forever. Muwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaa! ;)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Far-Reaching Effects of Gay Marriage

I don't pretend to be a political activist or a political know-it-all. I leave that to those who've majored in Political Science and Law. I do, however, know just enough about politics to make me dangerous.

Having said that, for those in this country who are rejoicing over the Supreme Court's decision this past week, all I have to say is that we have no idea what we've just done to ourselves.

I have never said or done anything to persecute or bully those with same-sex attraction. I've had friends who've chosen that path and I've never told any of them, or others that they're "going to hell" or that "God doesn't love" them. God loves all his children. Gay or straight or bi-sexual. He doesn't like when they break His commandments. But He still loves them. Period end of story. So let's set aside that argument for a while and just talk about politics. We can get into the religion end of it later.

The thing that bothers me the most, and the issue that I actually cried about on Sunday with my loving and understanding boyfriend who isn't American and tries to understand how much patriotism is deeply rooted within me, is the fact that the federal government, and specifically the judicial branch blatantly overstepped their boundaries. The judicial branch interprets the law. The legislative branch makes the laws. And the presidential branch enforces the law. Each of the three branches does not do what the other one does because that is exactly why this nation formed itself in the first place. We don't like it when members of the government have too much power! Because when they do, the power goes to their heads and they think they can run our lives for us. They can tax us more and take away our human and religious rights. That frankly frightens the living daylights out of us Americans after what we went through with the British hundreds of years ago.

As Justice Clarence Thomas (one of the Four Justices who voted against the gay-marriage act) says that liberty "has long been understood as individual freedom from government action, not as a right to a particular governmental entitlement." He also goes on to lament that the Supreme Court's decision on the definition of marriage into the Constitution goes "beyond the reach of the normal democratic process for the entire nation." He argues that that this decision will threaten religious liberty by creating an unavoidable collision between same-sex couples and religious organizations. "In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today's decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages with same-sex couples."

Samuel Alito (another judge who voted against the same-sex marriage act) says it even better. "At present, no one-including social scientists, philosophers, and historians- can predict with any certainty what the long-term ramifications of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will be. And judges are certainly not equipped to make such an assessment." Now here's the kicker, "Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of power that today's majority claims. Today's decision shows that decades of attempts to restrain this Court's abuse of its authority have failed." You can find the link to that article here.

So the fact that the Supreme Court completely ignored their duties as specifically stated in the Constitution and went ahead and did Congress's job too! They are now legislating! Doing what Congress should have been doing! That's NOT RIGHT. For more information on how the Court undermined the democratic process, here's that link.

Not to mention the fact that who the hell asked for the federal government to make more decisions for us? First it was the deregulation of the banks, then it was the No Child Left Behind Act, then it was forcing people to get healthcare through Obamacare, and now it's gay marriage?! Has no one else seen a pattern in the dictatorial attitude that has been going on for the past decade and a half??? Why has the federal government deliberately ignored the States rights in having a say in these issues? Why has the federal government not left it up to each individual State to decide FOR THEMSELVES about education, healthcare and marriage?

That is was pisses me off more than anything else. It's the fact that many Americans have become lazy. Yeah, that's right. LAZY. Comfortable in letting their rights slip through their fingers and more confident in the federal government making decisions for them, then letting us choose for ourselves.

I have many pet peeves. However, one of them that should be deeply intrenched in all of us, is when someone tries to take away our agency. Especially our moral agency.

Now, let's lay that aside and talk about the effects on children. According to the American College of Pediatricians, same-sex marriages are actually detrimental for a child's emotional needs.
No matter what your opinion on same-sex marriage is, for or against, a child needs a mother and a father. There are things that a mother provides in the home that no "father" or "man" can provide. Same thing with a father. There are certain specific attributes and characteristics that no woman can replicate. Every son or daughter needs a mother AND a father. If they have two fathers or two mothers, the child is lacking something that they need for their development. It's the same argument with divorce too! It's not just a same-sex issue. It's the same thing if the child were being raised in a single-parent home. I can attest to that somewhat because from 12 years of age onward I was raised by my widowed mother. Although I was lucky enough to have had both a mother AND a father in my home until that time.

If you want more information on this, here's the link.

Lastly we can step into the religious sphere. This country has always had a belief in God and religion. Although the founding fathers were from different religious backgrounds, you cannot deny that they were men of God. Part of the reason why this country was founded was exactly because the Church of England didn't allow citizens from other religious sects exercise their religious beliefs freely. Obviously, there were other factors involved, but this has gone way back since the Pilgrims set foot in the north of the American continent.

I will not be told what I should and should not believe. Nor will I stand being ridiculed for holding on to my own standards and religious beliefs. You could argue that homosexuality is a religious belief as there are still debates happening on whether or not homosexuality is biologically related or socially conditioned or both. But that's a different subject.

I'm infuriated with the fact that Obama has essentially said that Americans with religious beliefs against gay marriage should get over it. Saying phrases like "real change is possible" in the hearts of others, and "shifts in hearts and minds are possible" and my personal favorite, those who believe in gay marriage should "reach back and help others join them." Reach back and help others join them?

Excuse me?

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be persuasive. Each time there is a debate/argument there is always the hope that the other side will see our point of view and agree with us. My disgust is not founded on that point.

What it is founded upon is the fact that our dearly beloved president believes that religious members of society should basically quibble and change their point of views in order to become more politically correct. He is referring the idea of religious followers changing their religious beliefs to accept gay marriage. I do not accept gay marriage. I do not think down upon or belittle gays or lesbians or bis, but I'm not changing what I believe in order to become socially acceptable. The same argument can be said for homosexuals long ago who felt the same way. "I was born this way." "I can't change who I am." "Just accept it." Well, if they can stick to their guns and hold their ground, then dammit, so can I. I can't change God's laws. I can only try to live them to the best of my ability. As long as I'm not being hateful and violent "in the name of religion" that a lot of people do, then I will do my best to share my beliefs in a kind and firm way. Just accept it!

Obama has absolutely no right in telling those who have religious beliefs to "change." Homosexuality is not pleasing in the eyes of God in pretty much every religion in the world. Islam, Judaism and a lot of Christianity. Obviously, there are sects of each of these religions that believe otherwise but the Bible, the Torah and the Koran state that homosexuality is not acceptable in the eyes of God or Adonai or Allah. That being said, since none of us are perfect and it's also a sin for heterosexuals to have sex beyond the bounds that God has set, sexual sin is still sexual sin, whether its heterosexuals or homosexuals. And I know that God loves the sinner, but not the sin. Just as I loved my grandmother who was a chain-smoker. I loved her and still love her with all my heart. I hated the fact that she smoked.

It all boils down to this: Though I do not condone and though I strongly oppose same-sex marriage, it is not because I "hate gay people" or "fear gay people." I do not condone it because it is against my religious beliefs and, as far as I know, the Supreme Court hasn't butchered the 1st Amendment, so I and my Church have the right to oppose the institution of gay marriage and support the institution of traditional marriage free of trollers, persecutors and lawsuits.

Now that you've came to the end of my lengthy soapbox on this past weekend's issue, I'll just conclude it by saying that I know that truth does not change. And that sometimes the truth hurts and is a hard pill for individuals to swallow sometimes. But there will come a day when the "truth will set you free," and we will all see the effects of what has been done here. I love everyone, though I sometimes have a very ferocious temper with road rage and philosophy majors, and this also extends to those who aren't apart of my religion, aren't religious at all, or simply are neutral. That love also extends to those from whatever sexual orientation with which you participate in. I still love ya. And even more importantly, God loves you. And He loves your agency, which is why He would never force anyone to do anything they didn't freely want to do.

So the same should be said for all of us. No one should make anyone believe or not believe in something. So the question lies... where does freedom from religion end and freedom of religion begin?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love & Marriage

My thoughts and opinions are not to diminish or ridicule others who don't think as I do. However because everyone has been exercising their constitutional right in regards to "what defines a marriage" and since I am currently thinking more profoundly about that topic today, I feel as if I should share what I believe and think.

I cannot by any means say what I want without offending someone. But then again, you live a fruitless, empty half-life if you offend no one.

So to amicably and fearlessly share what my opinions are, specifically on marriage, I'll just rely on everyone to direct themselves to the link below. It is a very well-explained and well-written piece on the topic. Though to forewarn others, it's quite long so I'd advise all who are curious to please read to the end of essay for the full effect.

As I've said before, if you think differently than I do, then that's obviously more than fine. I would ask that "trollers" or those who adamantly have a different opinion than I do not viciously attack me for exercising the exact same constitutional right that you have been given yourself.

I stand by what is said in the article below and encourage all on their quest for truth to afterwards pray and ask God if it's true or not. If it's not true, you'll know it. It it is true, you'll also know it. But you won't know it until you do.

Marriage is Not of This World

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Motherhood: Divine, Selfless, Eternal

So, recently I have been disturbed by the increasing number of incredibly ignorant, false and inaccurate statements/articles that are being put on the social media respecting the logical reasons to be "child-free" and how having children is somehow remotely tied to destroying the planet.

I will be using gospel-related arguments for my case, not because I'm "religious" but because it's truth. God and the gospel in fact are truth. Hate to break it to you. Light is truth. Love is truth. And these concepts are from God. As is the family and its divine role in our happiness.

First off, in saying that not having children (when you are perfectly, physically, financially capable of having children) is somehow a higher way of living life, is just preposterous. And frankly, incredibly selfish.

There are some who seemed to have fooled themselves to believing that over-population somehow exists and that we will somehow be doing our said "children" and the world a favor by not having kids because they'd be born into a place with lesser resources and a lower standard of living. Okay, over-population is a myth people. That's like saying that lack of deforestation will somehow magically bring unicorns back into this world. So is saying that having children will somehow make it to where we won't be able to live comfortably on the earth any more, and we'd all be starving to death wallowing in disease and chaos. This is just complete and utter rubbish. I repeat, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OVER-POPULATION.

Science is completely against you on this one, babe. How is it that over-population is a myth? First off, in order for us to be able to overpopulate, it would mean that each man and woman would have to create more than 2 children. Let me rephrase that, each man and woman ON THE ENTIRE PLANET, would have to have at least 3 children or more. Following this line of logic, it would also mean that the children would have to grow up to ALSO create more than 3 children. And it would mean that this children would have to survive disease, famine, wars, car accidents, plane accidents, etc etc etc. Because of the increase in poverty in under-developed countries, the increase in drug abuse and violence, wars, diseases, people who DON'T procreate in the first place, accidental deaths, people who CAN'T procreate, famine etc etc etc, there is no WAY on this earth that this place could ever be over-populated. And if it would be, we still have Canada. It's quite gorgeously roomy up there. Case closed, people.

There is also the argument that the desire to have children is selfish because we only want to do so to continue the human race. Yeah. Cause that's a bad thing. *insert snarky comment here*

But I can also say, unsarcastically, that that is simply also not completely true. There is absolutely no great moment of fulfillment than that of seeing a child, your child, succeed at something. There is also no greater bond in this world than that between a mother/father and her/his son/daughter. I have heard many women say that losing a brother, sister, spouse was hard, but losing a child was the worst. Does that SOUND like a selfish desire to save us from human extinction? Or does that sound like a beautiful relationship between a mother and her child? It has very little to do with continuing the human race. It has largely to do with the fact that there is no greater miracle or power on the face of the earth that can compare with the miracle and power of creating human life. It's beautiful power, not natural selection.

Secondly, instead of thinking that you're going to magically cure the earth by not reproducing, I don't think our problem is too many people at all. It's too many bad and stupid people. So here's a reality check for ya, humans are NOT the problem. How about you spend more time raising good, honorable, wholesome people with morals and teach your kids about how to take care of the world as opposed to just denying them the right to live in it? The only hope for our future is the youth of the world. It's teenagers, it's the young people. Ya want a better world? Ya wanna save the earth?

RAISE. GOOD. CHILDREN. Which takes time and energy, but then again, everything that's worth anything takes time AND energy.

Going into the spiritual aspects of this argument, which is definitely the strongest part of this debate, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,

"I thank the Father that His Only Begotten Son did not say in defiant protest at Calvary, “My body is my own!” I stand in admiration of women today who resist the fashion of abortion, by refusing to make the sacred womb a tomb! When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this."

"God trusts women so much that He lets them bear and care for His spirit children. We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby’s first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child’s first day at school which bespeaks a special selflessness. Women, more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word self is militantly placed before other words like fulfillment. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms."

And that is exactly the closing statements of my argument. I do not believe that the world will get any better without children in it. I believe the contrary. I know for a fact that the only chance this world has is by shaping the ideals, beliefs, standards and minds of young children. They are our future. There is no greater work, no greater priority than this. No amount of worldly accomplishment can compensate for failure in the home. I am not yet a mother, and I'm not even sure if I can be. The worst insult a woman can receive is that of wanting a child, and physically not being able to have one, and then seeing women who have children or can have children and squander it.

If you don't want to have kids for whatever "unselfish" stupid reason, theres thousands of women in the world who are perfectly happy to accept your uterus.