Choose the Rights OR Strive to Be

The idea for this blog post first came to me after a conversation with my mom where we discussed the misconceptions generated by the phrase “choose the right.” Saying “choose the right when a choice is placed before you” implies a black and white world, where everything is either right or wrong. That is simply not the case.

As the wise Sirius Black teaches, the world isn’t split into good people and death eaters. In other words, there’s more than just “good” and “bad” or “right” and “wrong.” To be clear, some things can be split into right and wrong. Lying is wrong. But is 100% honesty always right? What if that puts another person in danger? Causing physical harm to others is wrong. But what if you have to protect yourself? Stealing is always wrong. But what if your family is starving to death and you have to steal a loaf of bread to keep them alive?

Beyond the right vs. wrong moral conundrum, I’d also like to consider the implications of a Choose the Right mindset in other decision-making contexts. Having grown up in a setting where the phrase “choose the right” was ubiquitous, I think it conditioned me to believe that every choice I made was either right or wrong. As a child it wasn’t too hard to distinguish between the right choice of spending my evenings reading and doing homework, rather than the wrong choice of staying up late playing games with Lucy. Or the right choice in high school of not dating until I was 16.

But then I came of age, and decisions became more complex. I made the choice to attend BYU-Hawaii for college, and I loved my experience. But would it have been wrong to attend BYU in Provo, or a different school altogether? I don’t think so. I think I could have chosen any number of schools, and they all could have been choosing the right. I am eternally grateful that I got to serve a full-time mission. That was a right choice for me. But would it have been wrong to graduate sooner and get right into the classroom without the mission? Not necessarily.

I think the main point I’m trying to make is that there can be multiple rightS for any given situation, just as there can be many wrongs. I even think there are many “right” people to marry, though I’m so happy I chose Spencer. I am thrilled to see that we’re moving away from such a heavy focus on CTR, and instead focusing on “Strive to Be.” STRIVING to become like the Savior is infinitely more powerful than choosing the “right.” Striving to be like the Savior means it’s a continual process, rather than decision-by-decision. Striving to be like the Savior means the more we repent, the more we become like Him. And it removes the anxiety-inducing black and white life model. I love it.

How to Talk to Pregnant Women

It’s my belief that you can’t REALLY know how to interact with people in a certain situation until you yourself have been in that very situation. For example, you can’t REALLY know the best things to say to a teacher on Parent Teacher Conference week unless you’ve been a teacher. You can’t REALLY know the most helpful questions to ask a missionary unless you’ve been a missionary. You can’t REALLY know what to say to someone who’s recently been through a divorce unless you’ve been divorced. And you can’t REALLY know what to say to a pregnant woman unless you’ve been pregnant.

Therefore I had no idea how to talk to pregnant women (besides “Wow, you look great!”) until I became pregnant. So in an effort to help anyone who may want to improve their abilities to talk to converse with that vast demographic, I bring you Amber’s Guide to Talking to Pregnant Women!

GREAT QUESTIONS TO ASK
1. How far along are you?
This is like the most basic question you could ever ask, and it will give you plenty of information. No matter what the answer is, you can always say something positive in response.

2. How are you feeling?
Still basic, still easy to answer. If she’s feeling great, great. If she’s feeling terrible, tell her how brave and strong she is.

3. What’s your favorite part of being pregnant?
This is a no-strings-attached question, and hopefully it will make her smile. You could also ask her about her least favorite part if you wanted.

BIG NO-NOs
1. As tempting as it is, do not talk about her body (e.g. weight gain, a la “Are you sure there’s only one in there?”). There is SO MUCH MORE going on than her changing body (e.g. growing a human), and she just really doesn’t need to hear about her body. She may be worried that she’s gained too much weight, or she may be worried than she’s not gaining enough. She may be worried that her bump is too big, or she may be worried that her bump is too small. Just don’t talk about her body. It should never be the focus.

2. Unless she brings it up, don’t ask for personal details (e.g. baby’s name, birth plan, plans after the baby is born). These are between the woman and her partner, and they really aren’t your business. I love telling people our baby’s name, but I also loved it when Spencer and I were the only ones that knew it. There’s something special about keeping certain parts of the pregnancy sacred, and the parents shouldn’t have to deal with nosy people trying to know everything. And maybe she doesn’t know what it’s going to be like after the baby comes, so try to avoid adding additional stress.

3. Don’t touch her belly. I don’t know why people suddenly feel entitled to touch women as soon as they know there’s another human inside, but I have been astonished at how many people have reached out to touch my belly without asking if I mind. Just look at it and tell her how beautiful she is.

4. Don’t tell her horror stories of pregnancy or birth. For some reason people seem to think I’d like to know how their neighbor’s baby died shortly after delivery, or how their varicose veins never went away, or how she got a concussion during the third trimester and now has no short term memory. g o o d . v i b e s . o n l y .

A Single Shard

I read “A Single Shard” last week, and I have to say it was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It’s the story of a young boy in Korea called Tree Ear, who was dropped off by a river as an infant. He is raised by an old man, who lives under a bridge. Tree Ear becomes an apprentice to a potter, and the book follows his journey.

This book is everything that fiction should be: inspiring, exciting, emotional, and fulfilling. I feel like I’ve become a better person from reading this book. 10/10

Everything’s Not Awesome

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, ever since we saw The Lego Movie 2.

You know the song from the first Lego movie? “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!” It was a cute part of a cute movie. But in the second Lego movie, the song changes. They sing, “Everything’s not awesome! Everything’s not cool, I am so depressed!”
Here’s the video

I know that’s kind of depressing, but I think it’s really important. The truth is, everything’s NOT awesome, and I don’t think it helps anyone to try to pretend like it is. This is my favorite part of the song:
Everything’s not awesome
Things can’t be awesome all of the time
It’s not a realistic expectation
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
To make everything awesome
In a less likely, unrealistic kind of way
We should maybe aim for not bad
‘Cause not bad, well that would be real great

TRUTH. Things can’t be awesome all the time! If everything was awesome, it would be like staying in the Garden of Eden and never growing. We need not awesome to recognize the awesome!

So what I’ve decided is that everything is not awesome. I was really sick a few weeks ago. Now Spencer’s sick. I have an hour commute to work every morning. I get severe anxiety from some people in my life. Students and parents are disrespectful. Donald Trump is the president. Kale is not delicious.

BUT

It’s okay. Everything’s not awesome, but it’s okay.
It’s going to be okay.

The Big Breakup

Joyfully announcing my official breakup with…. the Internet.

Yeah yeah I know it’s 2018, and it’s literally not possible to completely sever ties with something so integral to our daily lives. (But does it have to be? Stay tuned.) So I’m not like never touching a web browser again. I do still have to check my email every day, and sometimes I like me a good NY Times article, and let’s be honest where else could I plug in all the random ingredients I have to figure out a meal I could make without having to go to the store?

But here’s the thing: I don’t need another voice making me feel inadequate. I already do that job just fine. By getting online I’m inviting other negative voices into my head, and they aren’t doing me any favors.

For example…. I’m on Pinterest this morning (mindlessly scrolling, what else?) and within the first five pins I pass, I’m treated to, “7 Reasons You Need to Have Sex With Your Husband Every Day” and “Eat This to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week.” First of all, how dare you tell me what I NEED to do? You don’t know me. I DON’T *need* to do anything. Also, my body is fine just the way it is, so back off.

But as strongly as I reacted, let me be completely honest: my first reaction was, “Wait, does everyone else have sex every day? We didn’t have sex yesterday. Maybe I’m a terrible wife…” and “I need to lose weight.” I didn’t have either of those thoughts until some anonymous person on the internet told me I’m not good enough.

That is unacceptable.

So I do concede– breaking up with the internet is not an option. But in the sense that I allow the internet to tell me how to feel about myself and my marriage and my body, THAT relationship must end. I need to learn to train myself to ignore the barrage of messages the internet sends. I guess it’s easier said than done, but I’m going to be working on it.

Pics Or It Didn’t Happen

If your husband sends you flowers at work, but you don’t tweet about it, did it really happen?

If you complete a triathlon, but don’t post photos on Instagram, did it really happen?

If you get married, but don’t put your wedding video on Facebook, did it really happen?

For the last few months I’ve been essentially off social media. You could say I’m a recovering addict. But tbh I have no desire to go back. I realized several months ago that I had a problem, because I found myself on one of the medias pretty much anytime I can any sort of free time (e.g. standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for a student to come to his or her piano lesson, laying in bed late at night after writing in my journal).

So I decided to ease my way off by deleting the apps. I could still access them via Safari or Chrome on my phone, but I’d have to login each time. That was mildly effective, but I still went on to Facebook once a day.

I did post our engagments and bridals. That was fun.

But then we got married and went on our honeymoon. We were so busy being in love and not being *that* couple that posts photos of their honeymoon that we didn’t even touch any of the social medias during the whole trip. It was amazing.

So then I was like, “Why go back?”

Then Pres. Nelson invited all the sisters in the Church to go on a 10-day fast from social media, and I was like, “Yes, Sirrrr!!” And I still haven’t gone back.

I’ve since done all the stuff I mentioned at the beginning of this.

The only people that know about our cute couple’s Halloween costume are our parents and brothers and sisters. But that doesn’t make it any less cute. Those are also the only people that know about the St. George triathlon we just completed. But that doesn’t make us any less strong or cool or dedicated. Even less people have seen our wedding video, but that doesn’t make us any less happy or in love. I don’t need likes, and the world doesn’t get to know every detail of my life.

I guess that got a little aggressive, but I’m just trying to say that I really appreciate being able to authentically live my life without needing to tell everyone about it. I spent several miles of my first marathon trying to come up with the perfect caption after I finished my race. Now I don’t remember what the caption was.

I’ve found it easier to live in the moment and not be concerned about the opinions of others if I don’t rely on social media. I’m not saying it’s bad and everyone should get off– I know people can do really good things there. I’m also not aware of other people’s lives like I used to be. But I’m okay, and I think they are too. If the Spirit tells me to get back on, I will. Maybe it will be an important ministering tool in my future. But for now, I’m happy living my life with just Spencer knowing what I had for dinner.

Another October Book: The Egypt Game

I don’t have students on Fridays, so that gives me time to read in my classroom. Today I finished “The Egypt Game” by Zilpha Keattey Snyder. It’s a Newberry Honor book, and it was rather delightful to read.

Two young girls discover that they’re mutually fascinated by all things to do with Egypt, so they begin to play a pretend game where they imagine they’re Egyptian. Four other children join them, and the book follows their game. Fun read.

In Which I Dabble in Domesticity

Hello there! Writing on the couch in my living room on a Friday afternoon. Yep, it’s Fall Break.

I didn’t have to go to work yesterday or today, and I get Monday off as well. Unfortunately, Spencer doesn’t have the luxury of a teacher schedule, so he still had to go to work, leaving me on break by myself.

Luckily I’m quite practiced at being alone, so I’m faring pretty well. Yesterday I did a lot of laundry, started watching “Queer Eye” on Netflix (LOVE LOVE LOVE), read a lot of the Book of Mormon, ran to Office Depot to get some stuff for my classroom, walked back carrying all my stuff, and then found myself with a few more hours before Spencer would be getting home.

So I decided to [drumroll please] try my hand at being domestic.

^what I thought I should look like

Not gonna do a “what I actually looked like” but maybe you can imagine. We keep our house clean, so there wasn’t much house stuff to do. So I decided to delve into my Food board, which has hundreds of delicious-looking recipes that I’ve never even thought about since pinning them. I know Spencer loves Buffalo Wild Wings, and we’re trying to eat healthier foods, so I decided to make Buffalo cauliflower. It turned out fine. The pumpkin cookies I made were mediocre at best. Needless to say, I was nearly in tears when Spencer got home.

Should have taken a picture.

Anyway, here’s the thing– doing the stereotypical wife things (thank you Mrs. Brady) is not easy for me. I guess I’m good at “keeping house” because I’ve been a fully independent adult for almost a decade and I can’t stand any kind of mess. But cooking is not my thing. I can kind of do it, and I plan on getting better, but it just doesn’t come naturally to me, and it is NOT fun for me.

Doing stuff for Spencer is fun for me though.

So of course I will continue to strive to do wifey things when I can. But we both work full time, and we’re both really busy. And who says good wives have to be good cooks?

I have this image in my mind of all the things you have to do to be a good wife (hi again Mrs. Brady. Hi Mom. Hi Grandma Hall. Hi Cathy.) and I feel terribly guilty if I’m not “measuring up” to that image.

But here’s the thing: Spencer didn’t marry me for my cooking skills or my sewing skills or my 1950s housewife persona. Nor did he fall in love with my mom or my grandma or Mrs. Brady. He married ME because he loves ME. So I think rather than getting down on myself for not being as domestic as I feel I should be, it would be better for both me and Spencer if I could just lean into my own strengths and focus on authentically being the woman Spencer fell in love with.

Society has a lot of expectations for women, but society can go jump in a lake. Society has no part in my marriage or in anyone else’s marriage. I think everyone should do what works for them and makes them happiest. If that means being a housewife, amazing. More power to you. If it means something else, you do you honey.

October Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Just finished this book that I’ve been hearing about for as long as I can remember. That elusive 42 that held so much meaning to all who had read “Hitchhiker.” I guess I’m glad I finally understand.

This book felt reminiscent to me of Ender’s Game. Maybe that’s because that’s pretty much the only other Science Fiction book I’ve read.

Here’s a brief synopsis: The world ends, Arthur goes with an alien into outer space, chaos ensues.

Solid 6/10. Like it became enjoyable to read, but it was so weirddddd. Which is okay. Maybe just not really my jam. But I’m glad I read it.