Monday, December 17, 2012

Feed the Good

My hands are literally shaking as I type. My heart is broken, and I can not stop thinking of Friday's tragedy. I feel I am in the depths of "mourning with those that mourn". I feel helpless...I want to take their pain because I think I am strong enough to handle it. But, of course, no human is strong enough to bear these burdens alone. I know our loving Savior is lifting every person affected from the depths of their despair and sorrow. I believe we can rejoice in knowing that those who lost their lives are peacefully wrapped in the loving arms of our Father in Heaven. 

I'm not opening up comments on this post. Cowardly of me? Probably. I just don't have it in me right now. I don't want a debate. I don't want the anxiety of worrying if this post makes someone angry. I'm feeling vulnerable and it is taking all I have within me to even write this. So why write if I can't take the heat that could most certainly come from this post? I'll answer that question shortly.

Someone asked how I'm handling things. This recent horror has touched us all, whether directly or indirectly. I told this dear friend of mine, "I'm handling things like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum." There are things I want, and can't have...a promise that my children will always be safe. A promise that I will never have to bury another of my children. A promise that my teacher friends will never be in harm's way. I feel I have no control over anything, and that makes me angry. There are thoughts I need to share, but can't find the words. I'm tired. I'm scared. And, if you add all of that together it equals me wanting to kick and scream and cry. I want my mom to hug me, tell me she loves me, and then send me to my room for a much needed time out....but alas, I am not a two year old. There is life to live, service to be given, and light to share so as to outshine the darkness of our world.

I did it. This morning, I dropped off my elementary school babes and a precious neighbor child who I love with all my heart. I did it with a giant smile. I did it with an enthusiastic, "I love you three noodles to the moon and back, and don't you forget it!" And as I pulled away, the tears streamed. I thought of all the suffering parents, who will never again have that gift. I also thought of every other parent out there who does have that gift this morning. I wanted to shout, "We did it! With this simple act of dropping our children off this morning, we are shining our lights. We are battling evil and darkness. We are showing that we will not retreat."

Last night I was reminded of an old Cherokee legend. 
There are other versions, "Grandfather Tells" and "The Wolves Within".
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. He said to the boy: "A fight is going on inside of me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." 
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one I feed."

This story struck a chord within me, as I believe it to be absolutely fitting for where I find myself today. In attempting to process the recent tragedy in Newtown, as well as so many other horrific things going on in our world, I find "the wolves within" doing battle. For every negative thought I have, I am desperately trying to have more thoughts of good. It would be naive to think that only positive, good thoughts will fill our minds as we process recent events. For me to combat the darkness and negativity in the world, I have to face it. I have to stare it down; otherwise, it will simply be pushed away...which is a far cry from fighting it.

Through this processing, I have many questions and thoughts. Understandably there are people who will emphatically disagree, and even become angry with me over my opinions. I pray that as our country moves forward, we can have civil discussions. I pray that, especially in disagreement, we can listen to one another. All of that said, I will remind you of what I wrote earlier: I'm not opening up comments on this post. Cowardly of me? Probably. I just don't have it in me right now. I don't want a debate. I don't want the anxiety of worrying if this post makes someone angry. I'm feeling vulnerable and it is taking all I have within to even write this. So why write if I can't take the heat that could most certainly come from this post? One word: selfishness. (I told you I'm behaving like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.)

I work through things and find healing through writing. Because I can't sit with many of those I hold closest in my heart and talk through all of this, I come to this spot and write. I'm going to share some thoughts and questions that are filling my mind, with the hope of freeing myself from how they are consuming me. Maybe you will agree, maybe you will disagree, maybe you will do both. I would venture to say that wherever you stand, some of this has possibly crossed your mind as well. These thoughts and questions are unorganized and, quite frankly, a jumbled mess....

Why do we not address mental health issues more effectively in this country? Why can't people get their family members the help they so desperately need? If the mother of the shooter knew her son had mental health issues, why was he exposed to so many weapons? Maybe she had her own share of mental health issues? Or was she completely clueless as to the torment her son was feeling? How must she have felt if she did pursue help for her son, but couldn't get it. There is a beautiful piece of writing being shared on Facebook and through other outlets. It is one mother's heartfelt and gut-wrenching story. She needs help. She is doing everything in her power to help her son, to keep her family and others safe from harm. But, she is met with obstacles at every turn. I literally hit my knees after reading her story. I wept for her, and her son. I am in awe of her strength and courage. I want to find her and hug her. I want her child to be loved and helped. She is a soul I admire. But I couldn't bring myself to share her writing. Why? Because I am a terrible person sometimes. I read some of her other writings...I wish with all of my heart I hadn't. The mother says she "loves Che". While Che may have begun with decent intentions, many of his actions, and the way he carried things out, were far from decent. He was an extremist. Regardless of a person's view of Che, facts and history show he was often violent and cruel. I can't reconcile this in my mind enough to repost the mother's amazing writing. I know, I am terrible. I am trying, truly with no judgement, trying to understand how we can be mourning the loss of innocent lives, grasping for help, while following the teachings of perpetrators of violence. I don't see that extremist views are all that helpful in finding solutions, because the views only help those who completely agree with said extremist. I am fighting against the hate and loathing I feel towards Westboro Baptist Church. They sicken me. My heart hurts. My head hurts. I don't believe taking away everyone's guns will stop violence. If a human wants to take a life, that human will find a way...fertilizer, box cutters, guns, knives. Screaming about gun control, taking away the 2nd amendment and demonizing all who disagree doesn't solve anything. It doesn't solve the crisis we have in this country of not adequately addressing mental illness. It doesn't protect our children. It is simply a way to make yourself feel superior, as though you have all the answers. I do believe there are things we can do much better when it comes to guns. Banning them isn't doing things is very much a common sense you really think the criminally insane follow laws? Or how about those suffering from sociopathic you really think they are stopping to contemplate laws? They will find a way to accomplish whatever it is they are planning. We have to help people before it gets to that point! My brother made one simple statement that sums it up, for me, very well: Why don't people storm into police stations shooting? Because they know everyone is armed, and they wouldn't make it very far before they would be taken down. Evil doers prey upon the weak and defenseless. We can't live by "what ifs", but what if there had been an armed law enforcement officer at that school, what if the principal had proper and effective gun training? I don't know the answers to "what if", but the questions still cross my mind. I don't want to hear a single politician, whose children and family are protected by armed Secret Service agents, tell me I don't need a gun for protection. If that is the case, I fully expect they give up their access to protection and bodyguards. This goes for celebrities as well! The children of politicians and celebrities are no more important than my children and yours. If there is no need for "average citizens" to have protection, then like I said, I fully expect politicians and celebrities to give up their Secret Service and bodyguards. This country needs a major overhaul, one that I don't believe can come without the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so sick of the political correctness, and our inability to call evil exactly what it is. We will never know what drove the shooter to commit his senseless, heinous acts. It is not my place to judge the souls of others. I won't do it; however, in an effort to keep my family and all those I love safe, I will absolutely judge the behaviors of others. Refusal to call those acts evil in no way changes the fact that they were evil! Terrorizing the innocent and murdering 27 people is evil. And if you can't recognize that, please just get out of the are hindering my ability to fight darkness with light. To share light and good in this world, we must admit and recognize that there is also dark and evil.

As you can see, my mind is a cluttered mess right now. And my heart feels shattered. In the big scheme of things, I am no one. That feels terrible to me, so helpless to change things that must be changed. So for today, I will fight the darkness just by being someone to those in my little corner of the world. I will drop children off at school with a smile, I will be kinder and gentler to those I come in contact with, and I will not be afraid to step up and shine the light of Christ that is within me. I will do my part to feed the good wolf. Because I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, good will most certainly triumph in the end.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dear Fall, You've Got a Hold on Me

You know that part of Voldemort that lives within Harry...until it gets killed and looks (in the movie) a bit like a bbq'ed chicken curled up under that random bench? Weird, yes? Well I've decided a part of death's aftermath lives inside of me. Only, I won't ever be able to rid myself of it. I don't have a magic wand, or a Dumbledore, or a Severus Snape. And no matter how valiantly I fight, no matter how much time passes and how much healing occurs, no matter how much unwavering faith I have...death's sting never truly leaves me. It's my understanding there are women who have experienced circumstances similar to mine & no part of death's aftermath lives within them. I don't know what that would be like. But I do know (with every fiber of my being), for whatever reason, that isn't the way God has decided it will work for me. I'm okay with that.

Today I was happily going about my business, and shopping at Hobby Lobby (ohhhh how I love that place). I was in a terrific mood, buying supplies needed for making a cute gift box with awesome ribbons and bows...I think I'd like to do that for a living, wrap gifts. But, I digress. I walked through the store, enjoying my alone time, pretty much without a care in the world. As I stepped up to the counter to check out, that's when it happened. A fierce punch, right in the gut. One powerful enough to make me feel queasy. True, it was a figurative punch, but I must say I think I would have preferred a literal punch.

As I stood, waiting to check out, I looked to my left. Aisles and rows and shelves full of Fall decorations lined the store. In that moment, and completely unexpectedly, it all came flooding back to me...the smells, the hurt, the sadness, the fear. Death. For a few brief seconds (that actually felt more like an eternity), I felt every pain of 16 years ago. As quickly as it came, it was gone. As quickly as it had shown itself from deep within me, it vanished. 

I didn't have to run to the car in an effort to hide my tears. I didn't lose my composure. I was reminded that it's still there, a part of death's aftermath living inside of me. I was reminded that it can punch me in the gut; however, it does not control me. I paid for my things and loaded the car. I thought of how writing about the experience would ease my heavy heart...and hopefully, I pray, someone else's as well. And then, I stopped thinking about it. I began thinking about the next errand on my list. But throughout the afternoon I've been reminded that this.just.never.ends. And clearly, the Fall season has a hold on me that will never let go. I'm just grateful it's a gentle hold more often than not, delivering less frequent & not-so-long-lasting gut punches.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Never Say Never (Clean Eating Day 16)

The above commercial from Geico is definitely one of my all time favorites. I could watch it over and over again. Instead of getting tired of it, I find myself laughing even louder. Plus, I can't deny that "jackwagon" is part of my daily vocabulary. Seriously folks, that commercial is funny stuff!

If you've read my blog for any time at all, you have picked up on the fact that I'm a firm believer in roles. Everyone has a part to play in this production we call life. Some roles we have may be never-changing, due to our inherent natures and passions. Other roles are ever-evolving due to maturity, growth, life experiences, choices we make, etc. Depending on particular circumstances, we may have times in our lives when we can relate to either Geico's Sarge character or the role of the guy he's taking to task. With my new clean eating commitment, I'm most definitely the jackwagon. 

In my opinion, one of the most annoying things a person can do is "reform" themselves and then preach to me about it. Please stay with me here, because I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I mean. I love a good story. I love to hear people's dramatic tales of triumph over tragedy, as well as simpler stories of small changes that helped them improve their daily lives. What I don't find endearing is when those changes and improved choices transform someone into a self-righteous preacher man or woman. As I make healthy lifestyle changes, I'm trying to remain humble and share my newly found knowledge without preaching to everyone around me about how horrible their choices are. Choices that were mine for a very long time.

Also, I want to make one clear distinction. To me, having a passion for something and becoming a reformed jackwagon (who then preaches down his/her nose to everyone else) are two very different things. Let me explain. Bethany is passionate about health and fitness. She has become my Sarge. She is never condescending or mean like the Geico Sarge, but she can definitely get a point across! She isn't looking to make anyone feel inferior or bad about choices they make, she genuinely cares. How can she care so much about others' health and fitness? Before you cynics say "Well, it's how she makes money.", etc. let me tell you, Jared & I have done the math. I know how many of us are in Bethany's Biggest Loser, and I know what we paid to join the program. I see the time and energy she puts into this. Believe me, she is genuinely concerned about people becoming healthy. If not, she wouldn't be wasting her time. There is no way her motivation for this program is making money off of us. So in answer to the question, "How can she care so much about others' health and fitness?" It's quite simple: this is her passion. 

People who are genuinely caring and sincere can be passionate without being haughty and preachy. Bethany has this skill mastered. She is tough and tolerates NO (I mean zero, absolutely zero!) excuses. But she isn't holier than thou about it. She is straightforward and no nonsense, but never preachy. I've noticed that the "reformed" can often be both haughty and preachy. So if after my reformation (or even during the process) from unhealthy jackwagon to solid clean eater I become haughty and preachy, I don't know that I could be very helpful and inspiring to others. And while I can feel this change becoming something I'm passionate about, I never want to make anyone else feel "less than" because they are doing things differently. I don't think that really motivates people to make lifelong changes for the better. Maybe in the short term, but not for the long haul. 

This approach is working wonders with my family. I gently introduced this process to my family. I couldn't go full on Geico Sarge with them. I would have little to no credibility. Because let's be honest, we all know that exactly 17 days ago, I was making worse choices than most people around me. 

Jared has been an amazing support for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've fallen in love with him over and over again, in the past 16 days. He is so very good to me. He's thoughtful and considerate and has been willing to make changes with me. He hasn't said one negative word. My children (minus the spinach episode with the girl) are on board. Over the weekend, I was chatting with the kids. They say I seem happier. I have more energy, and they noticed I'm not having headaches anymore. My fourteen year old son said, "Mom, thank you so much for doing this. I feel so much better." My ten year old son told me, "I love this streak I'm on. I haven't had soda in over two weeks, wonder how long I can make this record go?" And, my eight year old little lady said, "I can not believe how many grams of sugar are in one stinkin Pop Tart. Seriously Mommy, never buy that stuff again." 

I admit I went to my room, closed the door and had a little cry. I felt equal parts proud and ashamed. Proud of the changes we're making to improve our health. And oh so very ashamed. My kids had been eating crap and drinking soda because I was too lazy to put the effort into providing them with good food. Do you know how difficult that is to admit? I'm a good mother. But, I was failing miserably in the eating arena. I'm not beating up on myself either, just checking out of "mamby pamby land" and into reality. I hated shopping, I hated cooking, and I tried to minimize my time doing those things. I bought the crap and soda just lie, just because it was easier. The loads of crap aren't in the house anymore and no one is suffering or fussing or whining (again, minus the spinach episode...but one episode in 16 days isn't too shabby!) Do you know what that tells me? While my family trusts me implicitly, I didn't trust them...or myself. I never believed they could/would do it. Because I never believed I could/would do it. 

I consider myself to be relatively confident and secure; however, when it came to getting healthy I just didn't believe I could make such drastic changes and succeed. I tend to shy away from things that I don't think I can master. I love a cushy comfort zone! I would play off my lack of belief in myself with jokes and snarky comments like "I'll eat whatever I want, whenever I want.", "It isn't that I can't do it, I just don't want to do it." or "People are so over the top about food." What I really meant was, "I just don't think I can." 

Thankfully with the support of my family, Bethany, Bethany's Boot Camp trainers, and the ladies in my Biggest Loser group, I have no doubt I can do this. My entire perspective is changing and I like it. I also like the 6 lb weight loss that's showing up on the scale. (Sarge is going to fuss when she sees this...we are supposed to stay OFF the scale except for official weigh ins with her. She is pretty serious about that because of how our numbers will fluctuate while making these big changes. But, we were out of town this past Saturday so I missed the weigh in. This morning I couldn't help myself. I can tell my shirts are fitting differently and I just wanted one quick peek.) Would you believe as much as I liked seeing that change on the scale, I wasn't completely ecstatic. I was pleased and I liked it, but I wasn't overjoyed. I was surprised by how little I cared. But, how happy I am to shop and cook, how much better I feel, my daily 4-5pm headaches are gone, other specific health issues I've had for YEARS that are now improving, finding success so far out of my comfort zone it amazes me...those are the things making me ecstatic.

Wanna know just how far out of my comfort zone I've reached?
I'm visiting the following sites daily:

Never say never, friends. Never say never.
Or if you do say never, and then reform yourself, please don't become an annoying preacher. And if I become an annoying preacher, please report me to my Sarge.  

Lastly, my boot camp class was rained out yesterday,Bethany posted this Rainy Day WorkoutI was certain I might die. But I didn't. Whew! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Popeye Would Be Proud (Clean Eating Day 9)

There was a picture of our dinner to go with this post. I decided against using it. I was afraid if I showed you the picture, you would react just like an 8 year old. An 8 year old being weaned off of S'Mores daughter. There was crying & gagging & begging at dinner tonight. You would've thought I was force feeding cow tongues & eyeballs. All I did was serve a smoothie. Ok fine, there was spinach in it (a whole heckuvalotta spinach). But my husband and boys couldn't even taste the spinach. Neither could I. When you try it, you won't taste it either; however, the girl adamantly insists she tastes spinach!! Yeah right. She's never even eaten spinach. She wouldn't know what spinach tasted like if it ended up in a smoothie at dinner. See there, I just proved my own point. Yes, I could've slipped it in without telling her. That was the plan...but the little rat snuck up on me while I was blending...I had no idea she was there...eyeballin' me the whole time. I really need someone to make a silencer for the blender. 

I found tons of great smoothie recipes here. It's my new favorite site. I tweaked the recipe I found for the purposes of feeding my family of five. And yes, it was YUMMMMMY:
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 C water
  • 4 C spinach
  • 2 ripe bananas (that's my preference...I use bananas that are very ripe; otherwise, I notice a bitter taste)
  • 1 C frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 T ground flax seed
This recipe made plenty, with some left for me to have in the morning. 

P.S. Please be kind. If you have a child who loves spinach, spinach in smoothies, and would never consider touching a S'Mores PopTart...YAY for you. Now, just be grateful and gloat in silence. Thanks. ;)

Monday, May 28, 2012

We Remember

Many years ago, while living in Kansas City, I hosted a baby shower for a dear & lifelong friend. P and I had grown up in towns just 30 minutes away from each other. We attended girls' camps together in the summer, youth conferences, and our families went "way back". Over the years going to college, marriage, and life in general took us different places. I was overjoyed when Jared ended up attending the same D.O. school her husband did. After so many years, we were living close by each other once again...random and wonderful. She and her husband were a source of strength and support to us, my oldest son & her oldest daughter were big buddies. I will be forever grateful for all they did to help us through that first year of our new life in Missouri.

I had the pleasure of spending time with P's mother-in-law when she came to visit and attended the baby shower. I was missing my own mom during that time. I felt a longing for that "feeling" of having a Southern matriarch close by...I loved Kansas City, and miss it to this day; however, during that time I just needed a Southern mama. Spending time with my friend's mother-in-law was just what I needed. And before she left my home, as she hugged me goodbye, I remember thinking, "I surely do love this adorable little lady."

On September 29, 2010 she lost her son. Senior Airman Mark Forester was killed while serving our country. I didn't know Mark extremely well. But, his brother, his sister-in-law P, their children? They are like extended family to me. And his mother? I told you. I loved her from the moment she stepped foot in my home & graced me with her presence. 

I think of her, and her family, several times a week. But admittedly, I can't ponder on her loss too often. When I think of her, my heart begins to pound, and it feels harder to breathe. So quickly I try to wrap it up, and tuck it away on my "grief shelf". I do this with all thoughts of mothers who've lost their children; otherwise, I would live fully in their grief and mine all day. Everyday. 

But today isn't "everyday". Today is a day for remembering, and stepping outside of the comfortable thoughts we enjoy each day. It is a day to ponder sacrifice & that isn't always an easy thing to do. But, it is also a day for rejoicing in the freedoms we share, freedoms others have given us...and paid for with their very lives. Today, my family will take more than a few moments and pay tribute to all who have gone before us in the cause of freedom and relieving oppression. We will stop to pray for and think of the Forester family. We will pause to reflect on the life of Senior Airman Mark Forester. I will pray especially for his sweet mother, expressing heartfelt gratitude for her sacrifice of a young son. Today, we remember.

You can read more about the extraordinary life of Senior Airman Mark Forester here

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Human Error (Clean Eating Day 6)

I spent quite a bit of time working on a post yesterday. While writing, a stack of papers I had piled beside the laptop slid. The avalanche of paper pushed a notebook onto the laptop, and that notebook landed on the keyboard. Usually posts automatically save, or at the very least I have the forethought to save things myself. Not yesterday. Immediately, my mind wanted to make myself feel better. "That probably happened for a reason. Maybe it was a sucky post, maybe you shouldn't write about this journey because you're going to annoy people, but probably it was just a sucky post. Maybe you just weren't supposed to share that one."  

But, I know the real reason why that post was deleted. Because I was stupid and made a bad decision. My desk is in huge need of clean up (yet another chore I haven't stayed on top of since Monday). I've always opened mail by the garbage can in my garage. That way, the only thing that gets inside my house is the mail I need to keep. No envelopes, junk mail, etc. But, not since Monday. On my desk there is a pile of mail, lip balm, 3 notebooks, and graduation gifts I have yet to deliver, as well as an assortment of pens & pencils. Stupid=letting things pile up like that. Bad decision=writing a post with the pile teetering next to the laptop. There was nothing spiritual, cosmic, karmic, religious, etc. to do with my post getting deleted. It happened because of my human error. 

I hesitate writing this next part. I don't want anyone (especially the bigots who ignorantly and stubbornly insist I'm not a Christian because I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...ughhh, it's played out bigots & gettin' old) to misunderstand what I'm trying to communicate. And I don't know if I can express it clearly. But, I'm going to try.

This world our Father in Heaven created for us is subject to the laws of nature. Things happen. Sometimes those things are lovely and beautiful, other times tragic and horrifying. Sometimes we see miracles. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes He intervenes, other times He doesn't. And we may never receive an answer to our "whys". I made a firm decision years ago that I wouldn't allow any of the things I just mentioned cause me to trust Him less, become less faithful or stop praying for miracles. I decided to live in HIS world, rather than try and control what I believed to be MY world. 

Did my daughter die because of "reasons" other than: she had a chromosomal abnormality that caused countless health problems, those problems in turn causing survival outside of my womb to be impossible for her? No, there were no other "reasons". Her additional 18th chromosome was in direct opposition to the laws of nature. And if she had not fulfilled her purpose, just in the short 9 months I carried her, I have no doubt He most certainly would have intervened. But, the reasons she died were not because He "took her" from me to punish me or to "test" me. Now, the devastation and effects of her death were absolutely tests for me. But I do not, I will not, believe my Heavenly Father "took" my daughter's life because He wanted to see if I could pass a cruel test. I don't believe I was being punished for some past transgression. In that particular circumstance there were no human errors such as stupidity or bad decision making. It was biology & God's plan allowing my child to fulfill her purpose and return to Him. He didn't intervene as nature took its course because He didn't need to...that was the reason, plain and simple.

Now you are surely asking, "What in the world does any of this have to do with her clean eating journey?" I need to be clear: my own human error led me to where I am now. It would be so much easier to just let myself believe I was mistreating my body and eating poorly because of some deep-rooted, terrible pain or loss. Much easier to believe that for years self-sabotage has been my way of expressing the grief I feel over losses I've experienced in my life. There are things that time never heals, and there is pain we will always feel. It would be convenient for me to tell you that's how I became a professional in the field of self-sabotage. It would be much easier for me to tell you that I gain weight because of my hypothyroidism. 

But, I wouldn't be telling you the whole truth. While those things most definitely play a part (and I am not discounting anyone who has health issues like hypothyroidism, etc. or people who have emotional struggles) they are not the REASONS for my poor health choices. Playing a part in something and being a reason for something are different things. But, I've used them as excuses/reasons for eating all the crappy foods I love, used them as excuses/reasons for not caring. For many years it's worked out just fine. But I turn 40 this year, this body of mine is changing. My poor choices won't keep working out "just fine". 

Everything most certainly does happen for a reason. Often, we humans mistakenly use God or other people as the alter upon which we lay all of our "reasons". Truth be told, sometimes the reasons can be laid only at our own feet, with thanks given to our own human errors. Stupid=being too lazy & stubborn to simply do the right thing for my body, not admitting I just happen to enjoy anti-foods. Bad decisions=giving in to "but it tastes so good", living on foods that could possibly outlive people because they are so full of chemicals & preservatives, and using food as a friend rather than using food as fuel. 

I started turning things around this week. Smart=food is neither my friend, nor my is my fuel. Good decisions=see below. I'm only posting Wed, Thurs, Friday because Monday and today are so similar to the others...creature of habit, remember? I don't need a lot of variety. Some of you may look at this and wonder how I could find eating clean to be difficult. Let me tell you, if you weren't born with a palate that naturally appreciates greek yogurt, you can't understand. And, I love sugar that comes from all the wrong places!!!...milk chocolate, cereal, Dr.Pepper, ice cream, sour gummy worms, etc. I am literally in the process of retraining my palate. It's also important to note that what I have listed is exactly what entered my mouth on a particular day. There was no "just one Hershey's kiss", or "just one bite of" so & so. If it went in my mouth, it's recorded.

Wednesday: 2 boiled eggs, 2 slices nitrate free turkey, blackberries
Thursday: 1/2 C oatmeal (prepared using almond milk), topped with berries
Friday: 1 boiled egg, 5 baby carrots, banana & 1T almond butter

Morning Snacks
Wednesday: banana & 1T almond butter
Thursday: apple & string cheese
Friday: apple & leftover protein shake from Thursday's dinner

Wed: romaine lettuce topped with loads of vegetables, olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing
Thurs: romaine topped with tuna (prepared using greek yogurt, mustard, and a little relish)
Fri: baby spinach and tuna, 1/2 of a Babybel cheese, 3 Mary's Gone crackers

Afternoon Snacks
Wed: apple & 1T almond butter
Thurs: apple & unsalted cashews
Fri: went to movie with the family, asked Bethany beforehand & she gave me the ok to have a tiny bit of popcorn. I had 2 scant handfuls of popcorn (made me feel sick), took a snack bag of green peppers with me (so glad I did), and drank 44 oz of water while in the movie.

Wed: romaine topped with avocado, rinsed black beans, cilantro, red & green peppers
Thurs: a kick-butt protein shake I made with one scoop protein powder, 1/2 C almond milk, 1T almond butter, 1/2 of a banana, lots of ice
Fri: grilled chicken, grilled veggies, watermelon

*No, I'm not measuring everything. I'm really only measuring out the things that have potential to cause me portion control problems (almond butter, oatmeal, cheese, Mary's Gone crackers) Today Bethany mentioned if we hit a plateau later in the program, we'll need to focus more on measuring.
*Mary's Gone crackers were recommended by another lady in the group. They are AhhhMazing! Find them in the natural foods section of Kroger.
*Thing that made me go hmmmm: almonds make me feel hungrier and really hurt my stomach. Cashews don't. So, cashews have become my nut of choice. 
*Yes, I still desperately miss my ice cream. 
*Bethany recommended The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno. Don't let the recipes scare you. I haven't paid much attention to them because they aren't appealing to me. But, the book was fantastic and helpful in introducing me to the principles of clean eating. Also, based on Bethany's recommendation, I just ordered Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Clean Eating Journey: Day 4

Hooray, I'm still alive! Yesterday I mentioned feeling great in the morning, but wondering what the afternoon might have in store for me. The foggy feeling didn't rear its ugly head until around 4:30 p.m. And even then, it was mild in comparison to what I felt the previous days.

Today has been fantastic! I can feel my energy level on an upswing. It's 10 p.m. and I've had zero fuzzy, foggy brain today. It's been a much better day, but heaven help me! There are times in the day that I reeeeeally want to cheat. But I'm so happy when I talk myself down and push through the temptation. I believe the reason I'm on the upswing this soon is because I haven't cheated. I don't think I would feel as well if I were confusing my body by beginning this program, then cheating (even slightly) every once in a while during the day. That isn't to say that I'll never again in my life have a cupcake, some ice cream, or bowl of cereal. But I can tell you, it will be a very long time before I even consider it. 

The toughest part of each day for me is between 2p.m. and 4p.m. I feel myself dragging, and diligently fighting the urge to be grumpy.  This is when I would love nothing more than a icy cold Dr.Pepper from Chick-fil-A. I just have to fill up my 80 oz water container and push through the slump. I've been trying to keep my mind busy. I'm learning that when I feel pouty, aggravated, or desperate to have something I shouldn't, it's because I'm thinking too much. One huge hurdle I'm trying to overcome is how food consumes my thoughts. This was the case well before I started eating clean. I felt guilty about pretty much any and everything I ate. Now, not getting to eat those things consumes my thoughts. So I have to stay busy and involved in something, or I will freak out over the fact that I can't eat cookie dough ice cream!! Ok, have to quickly move to the next topic or I might cry over ice cream...AGAIN!

For people who've been relatively healthy eaters, maybe this wouldn't be difficult? But I've turned my own world upside down this week. Everything about this is new to me. I was a once a week shopper. I can't even express my level of disdain for shopping. I hate it! Processed crap can last an eternity in your pantry. The items you find on the perimeter of your grocery store? Well, not so much. Eating clean means I go to the store frequently, whether I like it or not. Surprisingly, I'm beginning to enjoy the adventure of searching the grocery store for new things to try. I have never enjoyed cooking. Eating clean means I spend more time in the kitchen. But I'm noticing my kids follow me there, they're curious, want to chat, and see what in the world I'll try next. I had never even tasted plain Greek yogurt before Monday...and let me tell you, plain greek yogurt is not the same as yogurt that has any flavor added. If you naturally enjoy the stuff, you're already a step ahead of where I was. But just since Monday, I've found ways to slowly get my taste buds on board. 

My goal for tomorrow is to share my food log...and clean my house, do some laundry, water my plants. All of these things have fallen completely by the wayside. I wasn't kidding when I said my world has been turned upside down. It had to be turned upside down and shifted, so that I can build a new foundation. One that is stronger, more resilient, and capable of out-lasting the processed crap in a pantry. 

Click here for recipes & tips from Bethany. There is a recipe she posted back in February that I can't wait to try: Pineapple Cashew Chicken. Sounds yummy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dirty Girl Has Left The Building

Oh Kanye, you sneaky little devil you! Sometimes when I least expect it, a song pops into my head. Yesterday, and again today, I woke up with the following lyrics playing in my mind:

Work it harder, make it better,
do it faster, makes us stronger,
more than ever, never over,
Our work is never over.

N-n-now that, that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger.

Honestly, I don't know exactly what Kanye meant with those lyrics. I'm pretty sure I don't even want to know. I like to find my own meaning in songs. And for now, those words are playing in my mind, on repeat. A personal anthem of sorts. If I'm not dead because of it, it must be making me stronger.

A few months ago I registered for my first 6 week session of Bethany's Bikini Boot Camp. That decision has proven to be one of the best, most empowering decisions I've made in years. Currently, I'm in my fourth session. This past Saturday, I began another new adventure. Bethany's Biggest Loser competition. I'm easily the least competitive person I know. I couldn't care less about "winning" a contest. I find that, without fail, my biggest obstacle and competitor is myself. I entered this because I need to change my eating habits and how I look at food. I also need to be held accountable. And so it began. 
I walked into a room filled with 25 ladies, and saw only one familiar face. I'm a creature of habit. I like familiar faces, so immediately I felt myself wanting to run away. I didn't. 

All of us were weighed, measured, and photographed. Then, Bethany began talking with us about what to expect on our journey from dirty, "anti-foods" to clean eating. This is no fad diet. No food groups are excluded. There are no pills, gimmicks, or shortcuts. This is a lifestyle transformation. We have signed a contract with her committing to logging every food and beverage choice we make, logging our exercise, and attending weekly meetings.

After listening to Bethany talk, I was truly inspired. She is realistic---giving me the okay to wean off of my beloved Skippy peanut butter by mixing it (for the first few days) with all natural peanut butter. Simply because she gave me the green light on that, I found myself not wanting/needing to wean. I quit the Skippy cold turkey. Tell me this isn't partly a mind game...yeah, right.

She is passionate about healthy lifestyle habits---more than once Bethany spoke of our children and how our choices influence them. She made me want to be better. She made me want to stretch myself and step outside of my comfort zone. I walked into that room on Saturday feeling terrified. No joke. I had butterflies in my stomach, thought I might vomit, and felt certain I would feel completely overwhelmed. I was consumed with self-defeating thoughts. But I walked out of that room ready to rock my own world. 

Monday came and kicked my butt in a big way. I had no energy and felt like I was walking through dense fog all day. It was ugly. I wanted to jump off the wagon and never look back. I didn't. Tuesday was much better, but I cried around 8 p.m. when the thought of not having ice cream hit me with the force of a massive garbage truck. Don't laugh, try giving up one of your favorite "drugs". And for those of you believing you don't have a drug of choice, just cold turkey quit something you love (that isn't 100% clean) and then we'll chat. So I've made it to Wednesday. I feel better than I have thus far. In fact, I'll even say I feel great! But who knows what the afternoon might bring? Having never been through any sort of rehab, I was unaware of exactly what it means to detox. I currently have a crystal clear understanding of just how poorly I've been treating my body. I'm shocked by how dependent upon legal drugs I've become over the years. You might think it's a stretch to call sugar, additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners "legal drugs". But as I've been ridding my body of them, there is no denying this is detox. No denying that in the past, when I thought I was making decent food choices, I really wasn't. I'm learning to walk away from anything that has more than 5 ingredients. If something has even ONE word I can't pronounce or that I might need a chemist to explain, I'm walking away. My sugar is coming strictly from sources like fruit and almond milk. A huge adjustment for this Crunch Berries brain of mine. 

I've decided to journal this adventure. If you've read my blog before, you know I'm pretty much an open book; therefore, I won't be sugar coating anything (literally or figuratively speaking). I'm going to be honest and share my triumphs as well as my struggles. I know there are critics and naysayers. To those people I say, you do YOU and I'll do ME. That probably sounds rude, and I don't mean to be. But, I have a wonderful mentor. I want my advice, critiques, and suggestions to come from her. She is the one I'm accountable to, she's the one monitoring my food choices, reading my health history, and focusing on what will work for me as an individual. I know myself. I'll become overwhelmed and anxious if I have more than one coach. Now, that said, I'm all for cheerleaders! I love to have them, and I especially love being one for others. I sincerely appreciate the support I've already received from so many of you. It's keeping me on track. Thanks so much!! 

No one knows how I came to this moment, except for me. So please don't tell me all the ways I could've taken this journey without joining a group, having a mentor, or all the ways you would do it differently. Again, you do you. I'll do me. I can promise you this: Every penny I spend, every moment I give in this effort is worth it. I've realized those two facts very quickly.

In short, dirty girl is slowly transforming herself into a super fresh, super clean, and much stronger individual. How do I know for sure? Because I'm not dead.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Courage Like a Lead Balloon

It's too bad that I always feel the need for disclaimers. But, I do. Not really to protect myself, but mostly to protect the reader. I try to be fair by giving the warning that you might not like what I have to say. So, maybe you shouldn't read any further. But if you do read, please understand, you do so at your own risk. I need to be very clear. THIS POST IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED A REPRESENTATION OF ANYONE'S VIEWS & OPINIONS, OTHER THAN MY OWN. The feelings I express here are mine alone. They are not the feelings and opinions of my spouse, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, or other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are mine, and mine alone. I speak for no one but myself. Hopefully that was clear enough; although, I'm sure some jackwagon somewhere will complain.

My intent is never to offend, but it's highly probable I will offend someone (most likely, many). As I've previously mentioned on this blog, most liberals find me to be too conservative for their liking, and most conservatives find me too liberal for their liking. After reading this, people from both camps will be ready to pummel me. In fact, maybe I should sell tickets for the opportunity of pummeling Snarky Belle...that could potentially be the answer to our country's economic woes. At the very least, we could probably put a dent in the deficit. And that's a little frightening...the thought of people paying to pummel me. It isn't easy sharing yourself with others, when you know you will probably be left without a safe place to land once the dust settles. It takes courage, courage that I've been mustering up for at least five or six weeks now.

I value forthright communication. Most of the time, I'm preaching to everyone around me about its importance. And yet, over the past weeks, I've found myself less than willing to practice what I preach. I've never felt so uncomfortable in my own completely not the woman I know I am to be. I'm ready to be me again. And I sincerely hope no one is offended or angered by my words, but if that happens? So be it. But maybe, just maybe, there will be someone out there who understands where I'm coming from, and I won't feel so alone with my ramblings.

I would never vote for someone because of their religion, race, etc. I would also never vote against someone because of their religion, race, etc. This is neither an endorsement for, nor is it an indictment against, any candidate. This is my feeble attempt at bringing some level of integrity to this ridiculously out of control election year. And no person, party, or ideology will be spared.

We aren't even a full two months into 2012, and already I'm weary. The bickering, the mud-slinging, the back and all makes me ill-tempered. And let me tell you, no one in the political arena is innocent. Not Congress, not our President, and certainly not any of the Republicans running for office. I'm tired of their supporters making excuses for them. I don't care who you support, surely you can see that there is no innocent bystander in this circus. And if you sincerely believe that the person/people you support are above reproach, you need to seriously reevaluate your objectivity.

So here goes. I share with you my worries/aggravations/frustrations:

(A.) Congress can try and make me believe all day long that they have a terribly difficult job. Blah, blah, blah...I don't care. Most people I know have difficult jobs. Most Americans work hard, and they're exhausted. Many people I know would be ecstatic just to have a job, regardless of its level of difficulty. So Congress, you big bunch of whiny ass babies, I wish we could vote you all out, or at the very least that we could freeze your pay until you can do your job! FIGURE IT OUT already!!! Balance our budget, it's what you've been elected and get paid to do! It may even require making some people so angry with the tough decisions you have to make, that those people don't re-elect you. I'm sorry, you still have a job to do! You people need to figure out how to get along...with each other, and with our President. Enough already!

(B.) President Obama, I'm worried about the economy. I remember that years ago, when you were a member of Congress, you spoke passionately about how irresponsible it would be to raise the debt ceiling. I'm not an economist, and I'm also not a politician. I honestly don't know the best way to get us out of this heap of trouble. But, I wish you would honestly express why it was a terrible idea to raise the debt ceiling when Bush was president, but now you feel it's a good idea. I'm being sincere here, I don't understand the logic. And I would prefer answers that don't include you, and those around you, speaking about "the mess" you inherited, or bashing conservatives...not because I think Bush did some outstanding job, or because I'm protective of conservatives, but because the blame game is just tiresome. That game seems more congressional than presidential. I believe the blame game is beneath you and the office you hold. Also, I'm worried about Iran, Israel, China, Syria, and the war occurring at our own borders (even though no one wants to call it a war, it is). I know you're very busy, and I can't imagine the pressures you face; however, this is EXACTLY what you signed up for, right? I know that people (foreign leaders, the Republicans, and the Democrats) can be hard-headed and difficult to work with, but you chose a job that put you smack in the middle of them. I understand "everybody does it", "Bush did it", "Clinton did it", etc. but I worry that your campaign for re-election could distract you from serious matters facing us right now. I hope that isn't true. Lastly, I don't believe people should be penalized for success. I believe in helping the helpless. I am compassionate, and my heart aches for those who struggle to care for their families. I want to be wealthy one day, not because I am greedy, love money, or evil...but because I want to have more to GIVE, I want to have the resources necessary to make life better for others. So I take issue with demonizing the wealthy. There are dishonest, greedy, evil people to be found in every tax bracket.

(C.) Recently, I've had a lot of people asking me questions about things that I believe. I pride myself on being "an open book", but as the questions were raised, I realized I was timid in sharing some of the things I feel strongly about...for fear of criticism, backlash, and the judgements of others. This fear isn't irrational, as I have experienced all of those things throughout my life. Some who share my faith do not agree with where I stand on several issues, those of other religions refuse to accept my declaration that I am a Christian. And those who do not believe in God, or those who believe in Him, but don't like organized religion take issue with me because I do believe. Clearly, I can't win. So, I'd like to stop trying. I've come to realize, my life isn't about winning. It's about standing, getting punched in the gut, and getting right back up so I can stand once again.

As I've thought things over, I have been reminded that my place in this world is not in a closed book. I am an open book, and I will continue fighting for the courage to share my opinions and beliefs. What do I believe? Who am I? I'm a daughter of God, a follower of Christ. I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I believe the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. It does not take the place of, or add on to, the Bible. It is simply another testament of our Savior's life and saving grace. I know, without a doubt, Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior of mankind. I believe it is through His grace that we are saved. But I also believe that to be a true follower of Christ, I must show my discipleship in word and deed. I will diligently try to love others as Christ loves me. In a nutshell, those are my religious views.

My religious and political views vary greatly. We are a diverse nation, we are human beings sharing this world. My religious views have no place in my government. Why? Because this isn't my world, it is ours...yours, mine and everyone else living in it. I feel we would be well served to remember those lessons about sharing that we learned long ago as children. Injecting religion into government is, at its very best, completely contrary to our God-given free will. Now some will say, "How can you stand as a Christian, and have the political views you have?" Because it's who I am, it's something that I can do. And it isn't something I'm going to hide, or feel badly about anymore. I was recently asked how I felt about Prop 8. (Everyone take a deep breath, because this is when I'm going to make every one mad, lose friends, and get blasted by judgements.) I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. I don't believe its definition should be changed. But, I will not stand against civil unions and equal rights. I don't feel that our society is threatened by civil unions. I strongly disagree with statements like that. I don't support giving any person or group more rights than another. I think all of us in this country deserve the same basic rights. Now, to guarantee equal rights, sometimes certain individuals or groups need extra help. I want to be clear that if I lived in California, I would not have been pounding the pavement for, or giving money to, any group that was fighting against equal rights for gays. I don't believe a person should be denied the basic rights I have because of sexual orientation, just as I don't believe those rights should be withheld because of race or religion. My church has been railed against for its supposed involvement in Prop 8. I will stand firmly and say, the church did not give money to anti-gay groups that perpetuate hate and bigotry. If individuals within the church donated to such groups, that is an entirely different issue. But I can promise you this, I would never do such a thing. And I don't appreciate our sacred temples being desecrated by those who resorted to violence and vandalism. Those behaviors solve nothing, and they're wrong. I do not want to be judged by the actions and words of others. My places of worship should not be violated because of decisions others make.

The next thing I'm going to get a beating for is the abortion debate. I am NOT pro-abortion, but I am most certainly pro-choice. That is NOT to say I support abortion as a means of birth control or as a matter of convenience, and late-term abortions disgust me. But if a young girl is brutally attacked, raped, and left pregnant, I don't believe the government should be able to tell her what to do. I believe that would be a decision for her, her parents, and her ecclesiastical leaders to prayerfully consider. I understand, as I've heard so often, "standing on the side of life". I understand the thought, and I think most people want to stand on the side of life. I find it cruel to insinuate that a young girl impregnated during a vicious rape, who needs to know she has options, is somehow opposed to life. I've heard a young lady tell her story of being the baby who survived abortion. I have heard the happily-ever-after stories of young women who chose a different path, and would never consider abortion. And those stories touch my heart and make me teary-eyed. But reality is, not every one has those stories to tell. And friends, we live in the real world. It would be heartless and cruel to force personal beliefs on a young brutalized victim. If someone can't understand the differences in this case and abortion being used as birth control, a convenience, etc. then we can just agree to wholeheartedly disagree. The bottom line is we can't legislate morality. We can't, and more importantly, we shouldn't.

I am a firm supporter of the separation of church and state. I will fight against any government forcing its views upon me; likewise, I will fight against any religion attempting to impose its beliefs upon me. I believe people are free to choose, and I will defend their right to do so, as well as my own. My church has officially stated, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." And that is where I stand. I prefer moments of silence in public schools as opposed to praying aloud. For one thing, it teaches my children they can always communicate with God, regardless of the circumstances. No one can take that gift from us. The more obvious reason why I prefer moments of silence is because I don't want others' beliefs forced upon my children, or anyone else's children...especially in school settings, or other settings where authority figures have the ability to (consciously or not) intimidate children, or make them feel uncomfortable. For example, two of my three children attend elementary school. Recently, it has come to my attention that their principal is less than fond of our religion. (Her eighth grade son has been sharing his mother's thoughts with my eighth grade son during lunch...Dear parents, your children always give away who you truly are.) Knowing she has ill feelings toward those of my faith, do I really want her leading my children in prayer. The answer is an emphatic, NO! Because of what my own children face, my compassion for others' children continues to grow. Children deserve to feel safe. I do not want any child, no matter where they attend church or if they don't attend church, to feel belittled or ridiculed. It would be contrary to the most basic Christian tenets.

(D.) I'm tired of, and bored to death with, dancing around the elephant in the room. I could respect people a lot more if they would just fess up! I really couldn't care less if you vote for Mitt Romney or not. It's your business. But, could you please stand firm and be honest?!? Just tell the truth, "I will vote for anyone but Romney because he's a Mormon." Seriously, let me help you out here...go into your bathroom, look yourself in the face, and repeat these words..."He's a Mormon. I can't vote for a Mormon because I choose to believe lies and misinformation." At least then you'll be just a bigot, instead of a lying bigot...and I can respect bigots just slightly more than lying bigots. I'm so annoyed by people pinning their disdain for Romney on everything but the truth, which is that he's a Mormon, and you can't stand it. Guess what folks? Obama isn't the anti-Christ, and neither is Mitt Romney. (Jury's still out on Gingrich...ok, sorry, that was a joke I couldn't resist.) In addition, Rick Santorum isn't the Savior of the world. And since I'm on the receiving end of the mainstream Christian wrath I can justifiably say, those of you who vote AGAINST someone because of their religion, race, etc. fulfill each and every stereotype about uneducated, ignorant Southerners and Midwesterners. I'm pretty sure Mormons are the last group left who can be mocked, falsely accused, and bullied without fear of repercussion. Oh sorry, you feel I'm playing the "religion card"? You better believe it! And quite frankly this political climate has greatly increased my compassion for anyone who ever feels the need to play a "card" of any kind. It's unfortunate to say the least.

(E.) I'm frustrated that Mitt Romney will not stand up, with great firmness in his voice, and say something like, "I am a Christian. I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a Christian. Believe me when I say it, don't believe me, you make your choice. But, your choice to believe me or not has no bearing on the fact that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Are there beliefs that seem strange to others? Of course. That is most likely the case in any religion. Are there weird people, goofballs, and possibly even jerks who are members of my church? Of course, and you can find those types of people inside and outside of every church in this world. Bottom line, this is the United States of America, and I am free to worship my Heavenly Father as I choose." I want to hear something like this from him. And I want him to say it firmly and with conviction. But, I don't think he will. I'll tell you why I believe it won't happen.

(1.) He's being advised by his political people that he should not make religion an issue. NEWSFLASH: It is already an issue! It's a great big elephant sized issue!
(2.) In our church, we are often told we shouldn't feel as though we need to "defend" our religion. We are to take the high road, turn the other cheek, and all that jazz. I agree...but only to a certain extent. I only have so many cheeks to turn. I will not apologize for my Christian beliefs, I will not apologize for my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I will never (no matter the price to be paid) deny my Savior's grace and mercy. I will also never be found sitting by quietly when my beliefs are being attacked. I am a defender, and no one will tell me I can't be. If you have only lived in areas densely populated with those who share your religion, I'm sorry but you really don't get a say in how I choose to defend or not defend my religion. Until your child has been ostracized and mistreated because of his faith, you don't get to decide what it means to take the high road.

I can't say for certain, but it's quite possible that Mr. Romney has had limited experience with being persecuted for his religion, until now. He may not know that there comes a time (especially when in the national spotlight) when you have to man up, take the bull by the blasted horns, and say "Back off! I am a Christian, and it's time you just accept it." As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have NOTHING to be ashamed of, and nothing to hide. His "taking the high road", "turning the other cheek", etc. is frequently being portrayed as evasiveness. Pretending his religion is a non-issue, in my opinion, will ultimately have disastrous consequences for his campaign. Will everyone accept that he really is a Christian, that he truly does believe in Jesus Christ? Will people come to an understanding that there is much more that binds us together as Americans, and as human beings, than there are things that divide us? Probably not. But at the very least, I could respect him more if he would just say it! Because quite frankly, he didn't ask my opinion on whether or not I wanted all of this added animosity and trash talk about my church added to what already existed. He didn't check with my 14 year old son and ask how he felt about being the only active member of our church in his entire school. Romney didn't think about how my child would feel as he sits at his lunch table, and hears the horrible comments made about "the Mormons". So please forgive me, Mr. Romney, if I feel you owe the rest of us the common courtesy of being a little more bold in standing up to the critics.

Of course the persecution would come our way, with or without Mitt Romney in this race. Believe me, I have felt it my entire life. I grew up in an EXTREMELY anti-Mormon area of this great country; although, many who live there (members of our church and those of other religions as well) would like to pretend that elephant isn't sitting squarely on top of their fair city. I could fill a book with stories of how I was mistreated because of my religion. Many times I was told to just turn the other cheek, gently reminded that Christ suffered the greatest betrayals and persecutions of all. I think I did a fine job of smiling and turning the other cheek for many, many years. But as far as I'm concerned, the time has come to stand up with firmness and conviction, and that is not the same thing as simply telling people where you go to church, or inviting them to an activity, in my opinion anyway. I'm going to be vocal and stand firm with great conviction, even if it means I never get a job in politics, or a position on the school board. And just as I do my best to respect those of you who choose silence, in order to secure your places in politics, on school boards, or just to make your life more comfortable, I hope you can do your best to respect those of us who stand.

Well, that sums it I guess I just wait for the lead balloon to drop.