It’s Not a Game

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

My last post was all serious and this one is going to be as well. For years, basically since the 2008 election, I’ve looked forward to the time I could vote. When John McCain and Barack Obama went head to head in the election, my school did well to keep us informed. Then again, with Romney and Obama in 2012, I was informed by my seminary teacher and history teacher. We threw our planned lessons to the dogs and had discussions on the current events, making our opinions known. When it comes to opinions, I have a lot of them. But because I don’t like contention, I’m more likely to stay quiet when the people I’m with bring them up. In my school classes though, my words come out and I defend my position. This is what happened during both of those elections and happens in a lot of my sociology and history classes. The world I live in is important to me, even if I don’t voice my opinion all the time.

Now that I’m old enough to vote, I’ve been paying attention to the world of politics again so that I can figure out who I’m going to vote for. Back at the beginning of the year, I had a roommate who was very vocal and pushy about her political opinions and kept me well informed about what was happening. I talked to my parents about who they would vote for and why and was surprised to find that I disagreed with them. I found myself leaning in favor towards O’Malley.

With the election growing closer and the news stations blaring in the background, I know that I need to start making decisions about who I will vote for. About who I support. Because even the electoral college is the one making the decision in the end, I need to be able to defend my beliefs. So tonight I decided to research the candidates. I didn’t read every single thing on every one of their pages, but at surface level it was easy to see that I don’t agree with any of them. There’s very few that I find things that I do agree with. I-side-with tells me who I supposedly agree with, but even then it’s one or two questions. There’s gotta be something better. I want something better for my world and for my children. If anything, I want people to know what I believe even though the world doesn’t agree. It’s important for people to know that I stand for something different. So here’s what I believe based on the questions and topics given by I-Side-With. (Note: I am skipping some questions but ask me if you have a specific one for me to answer).

Social Issues: This is really important to me. I’m going into Sociology after all. Let’s start with the beginning. Pro-life. There’s so many parents that ache to have children and are unable to. I know many of them. They would love to have children. So give them one or don’t get pregnant in the first place. Same-sex marriage. I don’t support it. I’ve been taught and wholeheartedly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe in that 1950’s American dream. Leave it up to the state or whatever, but don’t shove it in my face. The Bishops in my church are able to wed people in matrimony and currently can be fined if they refuse someone (even same sex) that service. I don’t agree with that and think that that should ever happen. I want same-sex marriage left out of my church. Death penalty is a hard one for me, so I’m going to take a raincheck and explain that on another day. Assisted Suicide however, I do support. I don’t think that someone should have to suffer through different medications and trying to survive a term of suffering longer since they will likely die anyways. As far as gender equality, I agree that women should have the same opportunities and consequences as men, end of story.

Environmental Issues: This area is less important to me. Not because I don’t care about the environment, but rather I feel like there shouldn’t be questions about it. I feel like everyone in the world should simply be doing their best to take care of the environment. Climate change is going to happen. I don’t believe that we can truly prevent it. We need to do our best to use renewable energy sources.

Economic Issues: Minimum wage should be decided by state—a higher national minimum wage will cause inflation. I had been thinking that welfare recipients should be tested for drugs but I’ve changed my mind and don’t think that anymore. National debt needs to be reduced—partially through military spending—but we also really just need to cut back on spending. [interuption because in the room I’m sitting in, someone is currently on speakerphone discussing politics (YELLING) and I can’t handle this. On one line, the man is for Trump and his argument for Trump is to degrade Clinton. I will not support someone degrading another human]. I don’t know about taxes but I think that it should be up to each state.

Domestic Policy: Yay! I find this area of importance and interest to me. Restriction on purchasing a gun: yes. Training and/or proof of training about guns should be required to purchase a gun. Be safe ❤ Yes! Legalize drugs! Why? Look at prohibition for example. Prohibition of alcohol caused so much fighting and underground problems. All of the problems that occurred with prohibition are the same that occurred with the legalization of alcohol, except that it was illegal then and there was more violence. Now though, drugs is the problem. If we legalize them, I truly believe that we can cease the war on drugs and decrease the everlasting violence on the US/Mexico border and underground in the US.

Healthcare: I really don’t know what to say about this category. I agree with medical marijuana. I think everyone needs health insurance, but I don’t think it should be free for everyone.

Education issues: What we have isn’t working. I’ve talked about that in many of my other posts and I stand by it. For sho’ no free college tuition. That stuff needs to be earned. Common core is currently crap. It’s a good idea in theory but needs to be changed.

Foreign Policy: Accept the refugees, don’t put up borders and don’t get super involved in other peoples business. No war on ISIS and no citizenship for illegal immigrants. However, for their children they can recieve citizenship IF they were born in the US and apply for citizenship. Really though, basis is we need to stay out of other country’s crap. We have so much debt of our own, we need to take care of ourselves. Put on our own life vest before helping others.

Criminal Issues: Body cameras aren’t a bad idea for police officers, particularly if issues continue to arise. I approve of solitary confinement.

So I guess that’s about it unless someone has questions. Some of these other questions and things I have more opinions on but they aren’t as important to me as the things I talked about. I’m just so sad about what our country and world are coming to and I wish it could change for the better. For now though, I’ll just sit here and root for the second coming to happen 😉 Kidding. It matters. This election is not a game. This election is not a race. It’s not all fun and games. This is a matter of life and death for our country.


Teach the Children

There’s a Christmas story popular among the general Christian public today about Santa Claus coming to a Father and giving him a number of objects, each a symbol, explaining to him what they mean and telling him to teach the children. The idea of the story is basically to inspire people to teach their children about the true meaning of Christmas and Christ’s birth. In my last post, I talked about some of the future relationships that I’ll have, including being a mother. There’s responsiblities given to parents to teach their children truths.

I’ve been reading some books of real topics lately and all of them touch my heart with every page. They’ve started a spark, a flame inside me that burns with pain and love for those in the world have been hurt. I was reading today about Columbine and was brought to the attention that two of my dear friends just older than me have no idea what Columbine was. I was in shock. Not to bash these friends at all, I just can’t understand how someone in our world today can’t know about tragic events that have happened in our lifetime and shaped the world into what it is today. Every time a school shooting occurs, I hear mentions and comparisons of Columbine. How could someone not know about this event?

After learning that they didn’t know about it, I was overcome with an overwhelming feeling that I must teach my children. When I have a family of my own, my kids need to know about what went on in my lifetime, before my lifetime, and what goes on in theirs. They need to know about the good and the bad and be informed so that they can be sensitive to others. I owe it to them, and I owe it to my Heavenly Father.

I’ve always beena  seeker of knowledge, wanting to know about people and pleaces and things and learning as much as I could from books and articles and school. I learn things everywhere and I pay attention. Current events always interested me and I shed countless tears over the lost lives of strangers whose stories became important to me. There’s been so many things I’ve learned that I was appalled to not have learned earlier (Key example: About the Lithuanians in World War II held captive in Russia—Go read Between Shades of Gray if you have no idea what I’m talking about). There’s been a lot about World War II that I wasn’t taught in school that has caused me to be distrusting of the education system whom it seems would rather keep me in the dark about distasteful things my country has done than tell me the truth. I was taught about Columbine in school as well as from my parents. They made it known to me that this was an important event and that I should care. In school we learned about Rachel’s Challenge, a challenge issued by the parents of the first Columbine victim.

I want my kids to be seekers of knowledge as well. I want them to be educated about the Wars that have plagued the world, about the leaders of our country and other world leaders. I want them to know about 9/11 and Columbine and Sandy Hook and the life of Christ. I want them to know all of these things and more. I want them to look for more. I don’t want someone to mention a large event that occurred int heir lifetime to them someday and them to not know what it was. This is my responsibility. I have to teach them. And for me to teach them, I have to know more.

So if you’re reading this, I hope you too will want to learn and will decide to teach your children. They need to know.


Remember all those Dystopian and Utopian novels that have been popular in the last several years? I would venture to say that those people either didn’t teach their children, or they weren’t brave enough to do anything with the knowledge they had.

Go out. Make a difference. Care about the world. The news may be dreary and depressing, but that’s what it is. We shouldn’t stop caring just because they only talk about sad things. We need to know about our world. If we don’t, how will we change it?

Learn a lot, Camelot.

❤ Annee


“We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”—Alma 56:48

Someday, I will be your girlfriend (you, being my future boyfriend, whoever that is). You’re out there somewhere and I hope you’re preparing like I’m trying to. My Heavenly Father is probably putting you in some pretty difficult situations to refine and teach you in preparation for meeting me. I think the key parts of the words girlfriend and boyfriend are friends. More than anything, I want a best friend.I have a lot of those, actually, but none of them are you yet. I can list off ten people immediately that I call “my best friend” when referring to them. But someday I’m going to have you. I’ve talked about my rules for dating in my other post, A Safety Guide to Natural Selection and all of that still applies. I want to be a good girlfriend though, supporting and not overbearing. I want to be someone worth spending time with. For the last several months, almost year, I’ve been really missing two of my best friends. They were my texting buddies. We’d talk everyday about the most random of things but now they are both gone on missions. I miss them dearly and I plan on resuming our normal friendships when they get back, but in the mean time, I had to find something else to do. The other day I started up a page of notes on my phone full of things that would be texts to you. Now before you get the wrong idea, realize that these are things like “I learned today that snails grow their own shells.” It’s the things I pick up my phone to text you before remembering I haven’t met you yet (cue Michael Buble music). It’s the things I want to share with someone, but especially you. Somewhere, you’re there. And obviously we’re not ready yet, but I hope we are both ready when that day comes that our adventures together begin. It’s going to be great.

Somewhere out there
Beneath the pale moonlight
Someone’s thinking of me
And loving me tonight

Somewhere out there
Someone’s saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another
In that big somewhere out there.

Someday I will be a fiance. Please, oh please don’t let me be a bridezilla. Remind me everyday that you love me and to be kind to those that are helping us prepare for that wonderful day. And please care, just a little bit, about our wedding. I want to make choices together since that’s what we will be doing for the rest of our eternity. If we can’t work together for a wedding, how can we possibly do anything else. Remind me to have patience. I have so many wedding ideas I’ve fallen in love with already like every other girl on the planet, but most of all I just want it to be a day I share with you. And also I want lots of dancing. And pictures. And a trillion ring. And a knee-length wedding dress. And of course a temple marriage.

If I had three wishes/ I tell you what they’d be/ If I had three wishes/ You would be all three

Someday, I will be a wife. I feel like this is what I’m least prepared for out of all of these roles. I don’t know how to be a wife. Still, I look forward to it and the way your last name will sound with my first. I’m excited for our adventures. I will apologize now for my lack of knowledge when it comes to cooking. I can follow a recipe and cook well, it’s just that I don’t cook often or make many different things. I’m going to try though and I hope you will join me. Actually, you better join me. Cooking and cleaning are going to be team efforts. Deal? Also I hope you love reading. I want to go to bookstores and not be rushed. I you to look at the books and gets just as lost in different worlds as I do. It’s magic. I hope you will preside over our household, protect me and love me always. I hope we never raise our voices and everything we do is out of love. I know it won’t be perfect but I think we can be amazing together. One more thing: kiss me everyday. And let others see it sometimes. Oh and…

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.

Someday, I will be a mother. I don’t know how many kids I will have or if they will even be mine, but I will be a mother. I pray that I will be a good one. I also pray that you will be a good father. I pray for our children. I pray for the world they will have to grow up in, likely worse than the one we had. In one of my sociology classes, I learned that the parenting structure for the lowest risk of juvenile delinquency is with the parents in equal power, the father slightly more. This better be the way it is. Parenting is a team effort. I want my children to be raised steadfast with love and in the gospel. I learned from an example once, of a man who never grounded his children. When they did something wrong, he would sit down with them, tell him he loved them and then talk about how they can fix their mistakes. I aspire to be like this. I never want to be angry with my children. They are just children. They are children of Heavenly Father that I have been given permission and responsibility to watch over. I hope we make time for family everyday: family prayers, family scriptures, family laughing and family love.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

With all of these things, I want to be like the mothers of the stripling warriors, like Eve, like Heavenly Mother. I want to be the best that I can be and continually improving. I know I can be too. With patience and love, with teaching and learning, with honesty and integrity, and other Christlike attributes, I will become.

I see my mother kneeling with our family each day.
I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray.
Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears,
And I am thankful love is spoken here.
Be sweet, parakeet!
❤ Annee

That’s My Hero

“The hero becomes strongest at his weakest point.”—The Road to Character, David Brooks

There’s these books that I love reading to toddlers, a series of them that all begin with “That’s not my _____” The blank is filled by things like puppy, dragon, fairy, cow, etc. They’re touch and feel books and go through all the creatures that are not “mine.” So it will say something along the lines of “That’s not my puppy, it’s ears are too soft” and then you will be able to feel the soft ears. It goes through the whole book like this until finally you get to the last page and it says something like, “That’s my rabbit! Her nose is so shiny!”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes. I’ve been writing a story about some superheroes so it’s a given that I would think about them. But I’ve been reading tons of things about superheroes. They’re everywhere and there’s tons of writing prompts about them. I have an entire playlist for this story I’m writing of songs that all relate to the story in someway which means 99% superhero songs. Marvel and other comic books heroes are everywhere and you can’t go anywhere without running into some reference or memorabilia celebrating them. My heroes though are a little different than these. All of the superheroes in these movies and such are known for wearing super suits, some of which give them additional powers. Some superheroes wear capes and masks, to conceal their identity or look cool. My heroes wear different things than these other heroes.

One of my heroes is a man by the name of Steven Stokes. He was a professor of mine that passed away last week and today, I attended his funeral. Brother Stokes taught me one thing that stood out from all of the rest, and that was what it means to have care and concern. These principles are the basis for a program run at one of the juvenile facilities around here and we studied them in my class. While I was taking this class though, I was going through some really rough times. Brother Stokes went out of his way to see how I was. He asked sincerely and listened to everything I told him. He always was willing to lend an ear to someone who wanted to talk. He taught me what it means to truly care about another person. Today at his funeral, one of his sons spoke and said that they had learned from their father the concept of remembering people’s names because it makes them feel important. Brother Stokes truly showed this concept in his life. He had thousands of students but he remembered all of them by name and followed them in the years after they left school and they would come back to visit him. This hero of mine wears a smile and has a heart of gold.

Another of my heroes, is a man by the name of Vance McHan. Brother McHan passed away this morning and when I heard the news, tears came from my eyes immediately. Brother McHan is the father of my best friend. He was also my seminary teacher, my bishop, and my friend. Brother McHan was funny and so insightful. He always was willing to give advice and counsel when I was having a hard day. He showed a great example of sticking to it as he would get up every morning before early morning seminary so he could go running and look over his lesson before coming to the church building where he would teach us and have conversations with us that taught me so much about the gospel, and about our savior, Jesus Christ. Brother McHan put up with our teasing, bickering and tormenting of each other in seminary and again when he became Bishop. He would welcome me into his home and tease me just as he did his daughters. Brother McHan taught me what it means to be a friend to someone else. This hero of mine wears running shoes.

The next of my heroes I don’t remember too well. She passed away when I was seven and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I have things of hers that remind me of her and I keep them with me in hopes of being more like her. I like to think that I resemble my grandma in a lot of what I do and from the stories I hear about her, I truly do. My grandma had such a unique sense of style, bright colors and patterns. My grandma wore colored pants fifteen years before they were cool. She loved to dance and she loved little keepsakes like stuffed bears and statuesque angels. This hero of mine wears polka dots.

The next of my heroes is actually a league of heroes. My siblings. Both the elder and the younger are my heroes, all in their own unique ways that they touch my life. My sister, Amanda, is my hero because she goes after her dreams. My brother, Coby, is my hero because of the presiding figure he is for his family. My sister, Chellayne, is my hero because she is in the process of raising and homeschooling a handful of amazing kids wither her husband. My brother, Lonnie, is my hero because he marches to his own drum. My brother, Dominick, is my hero because he looks up to me and knows what it means to truly listen to someone. My brother, Gabe, is my hero because he is talented in ways he doesn’t even understand yet. My brother, Taha, is my hero because his smile stretches wider than the equator and when he laughs, heaven laughs with him. My sister, Grace, is my hero because she is confident in her true beauty and knows her Heavenly Father. These heroes of mine share my blood.

My next hero is another seminary teacher. President Turner has made such a huge impact in my life. He is one of the kindest souls I know and his example lives with me every day. President Turner loves every student that passes through his classroom with a love so strong you can see it in his eyes and hear it in the way he teases you. His smile lit up every morning of seminary, combining with the light of Christ to make the room shine brighter than the sun. President Turner holds his priesthood with such love and care, you can feel God’s love through him. This hero of mine wears a suit and tie.

This next hero is a woman who could easily be compared to some of the amazing women in the scriptures, like Esther. Juniel Bingham is an incredible example to me. She’s had her fair share of challenges and I can’t imagine what those would have been like to experience. She’s stayed strong through it all though and taught me so much in the meantime. She was one of my youth leaders when I was in Young women’s and she made every minute fun. Even when things got stressful, she always found a way to smile and joke around with us. On the hardest days, she still took care of her children, showed love to them and her husband and at the end of the day, thanked her Father in Heaven for all that she had. Juniel is always willing to talk even now when I’m having a hard day or need advice with something. Juniel never gives up. This hero carries a diaper bag.

I could go on forever and ever. My parents. My aunts and uncles. All of my grandparents. My roommates. All of my church leaders. My friends. Every teacher I’ve ever had. The strangers who’ve complimented me. The leaders of this nation. Everyone is my hero.

The last hero I’ll mention here today tops all the rest and I’m sure everyone saw it coming. My ultimate hero is my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate exemplar of patience, love, kindness, being a teacher, faith, and so many other things. This hero stands with me on my best days, clapping his hands and cheering me on. He carries me on my darkest days, crying with me and holding me tight. He guides me when I’m lost, heals me when I’m broken, and keeps my humble when I’m well. He died for me. He loves me with a love that is so whole and complete. He paid the price of my sins. He knows every pain I’ve felt, every triumph I’ve had. He knows what I feel in a way I don’t even understand. I love this hero more than anything. In that book I’ve mentioned, The Road to Character, there’s a section that reads, “The trial is already over….Jesus stood trial for you. He took the condemnation that you deserve.” And then, “Imagine the person you love the most in the world getting nailed to wood as penalty for the sins your yourself committed. Imagine the emotions that would go through your mind as you watched that.” All of these other people, they are my heroes, but Christ, he is my Superhero. This hero of mine wears robes of white and carries the weight of the world.

❤ Annee


‘Cause I wanna wrap you up
Wanna kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
And I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
Never let you forget it
Yeah I wanna make you feel wanted

—Wanted, Hunter Hayes

Dance tonight was such an ideal night. There was not a single moment I was not having fun. I had tons of opportunities to teach and tons of amazing dances with really good friends. So here’s my night:

It started with teaching by myself. I taught cha cha, then swing, then waltz and then foxtrot in the beginners class. I had maybe 12-16 students and some of them were beginner beginners, so that was a bit of a challenge and I had to adjust my class from what I’d normally teach to some easier steps, but I also taught some things I don’t generally teach right of the bat and they went well. A dear friend, Jordan Hardy who teaches 180 was an onlooker and pulled me aside after my class to tell me what a fantastic job of teaching I’d done. He said I did great commanding attention and having authority and he hadn’t seen those skills in my before.

I sat the first song out and then a night-club two step came on and I already knew who my dance partner would be; Yovhan Daas. He found me and we danced. His lead is so strong but gentle. It’s next to impossible to step in the wrong place when Yovhan is leading and I’m following. He never fails to compliment me on my following at the end of a dance and I take pride in that. The rhythm of nightclub coincides with some pattern buried deep down in my genes, so that when the music hits just right, endorphins spill from the perfect side-cross-side of my feet.

Hey soul sister, ain’t that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo
The way you move ain’t fair you know
Hey soul sister, I don’t wanna miss a single thing you do tonight

—Hey, Soul Sister, Train

I’m hardly back on the carpeted area of the ballroom when I’m pulled out onto the floor again by another wonderful friend, Billy, for a Cha Cha. His style is so unique and such an interesting mix of moves from different dances but I follow all of it perfectly after switching over to the mindset of following his lead. He’s also a strong lead but very very different from Yovhan. Yovhan is gentle and precise in his guiding while Billy move quickly and always changes up the ending of every move. There’s no predicting what he’ll do. We make faces at each other while we dance, having so much fun with it. I catch glimpses between my turns of the beginners on the carpet watching our advanced dance, full of bronze and silver moves and styling.

After that I sit out another song before a Blues comes on and Billy takes me to dance once again. We’re the first ones on the dance floor and the mood is so different from the cha cha we’d danced earlier. The Cha Cha was sassy and playful. Our Blues is intimate, more simple and yet still full of moves not fit for a beginner. He does lots of turns and there’s lots of looking each other in the eyes. Billy likes to tickle me and tickles my neck so I duck under his arm and spin away but he catches me and spins me back into a closed embrace. All that’s on my mind is the dance and matching his rhythm. It’s dances like this that make me realize how much dance relies on your partner. It’s the best thing about ballroom dancing; two people become one and move together. Frankie Manning put it in the best way I understand it, “When you are dancing with your partner, for that two and a half minutes, you are in love with each other.”

Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are.

—Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran

I dance a Cha Cha with Garth and it’s something we’ve rehearsed a thousand times. By the time we start dancing we’re already halfway into the song so we don’t have time to do everything but it starts with technical basics and cross-body leads, then we do the chase and pull out all of our styling. He can do more than I can and does double spins and perfect tremendos, while I do single spins and half-okay tremendos. Usually I call him a showoff teasingly at this point. We finish out the dance with syncopated breaks and a rondes which we were taught in a class long ago by Pono and it took me months to get right but now I get it every time. It’s still not perfect but my feet go to the right places and I know what’s coming.

I’m out of breath now and planning to sit the next dance, a tango, out but my friends have other ideas. I’m talking to a friend but interrupted by a gentle hand on my back asking how I am with tango. I turn to tell Yovhan that I don’t know a whole lot but I’m willing to try and he willingly takes me out onto the dance floor again. I haven’t done very much tango at all and have a rule of saying no when inexperienced people ask me. I always say that I would say yes to someone like Pono or another really good dancer, but that never happens. Well tonight it did. I followed most of his moves but since I haven’t done tango in a long time, I needed a little verbal guidance with Yovhan was more than willing to help out with. He directed me and honestly enjoyed the dance. I felt amazing and for those few minutes was completely in love with tango. He told me once again that I was a great follow and that I catch on very quickly. I thanked him. He and my other friends have no idea how much these compliments mean to me. They light up my soul.

There were a few dancers with beginners and not as skilled dancers throughout the night. One with Alex, Lisa’s cousin, who is graduating this semester. I try to ask him to dance because he doesn’t get asked or ask people a lot and he’s always really happy to dance with me. We danced a cha cha and I simply let him make the conversation, following his unsure leads the best I could and being happy to be his friend. There was Justus, one of the ballroom managers who still is really inexperienced with dance and I had to guide him through a few steps but he tries really hard. Then there was Jason, an older fellow, who had just begun dancing this week. He asked me to dance several times for different dances, all of which required me telling him which foot to step on where and when.

I danced a Rumba with Tate, which is always fun. He knows I can follow and never shies away from the opportunity to teach me things that he’s learned in his higher up classes. He taught me three new moves and after a few times of doing them I caught on. Our Rumba was more of an instruction and time of learning for me than the real sensual and intimate feel that characterizes the Rumba, but I didn’t mind because just as Tate likes to teach, I love to learn.

There was one more dance with Billy, a swing because of course, Swing is where we met. We we’re both really tired by this point in the night though and found ourselves being a little sloppy but had fun with it anyways. I would turn the wrong way or he’d move too far away from me and we’d just laugh and jokingly ask the other what the heck they were doing. There was never a dull moment dancing with Billy.

He rocks in the tree tops all day long
Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and singing his song
All the little birdies on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

—Rockin Robin, Bobby Day

I danced a Samba with Ben and a Quickstep with Garth. Surprisingly, the Samba didn’t wear me out as much as it generally does. We hadn’t danced Samba before or at least not a lot so it took some time for both of us to get the feel of how the other dances. There were a few leads I was unsure of but I wasn’t sure if it was something I was doing or something he was doing that caused that. The Quickstep with Garth can be summed up in one word; exhausting. Garth has a lot longer of legs than I do so when he drives, he really travels far and I already knew I needed to drive more. I’ve finally got the pivots down okay but my footwork really needs work. It was fun though and I enjoyed it. We had to pause in the middle of the song to go use the microphone to tell people not doing Quickstep to get out of line of dance and out of our way.

I had to stop a couple of times throughout the night to look at the DJ because I realized he wasn’t announcing what type of dance each song was like the DJ’s normally do. But I knew every song, and every dance. I could have danced every single one. Two years ago, I couldn’t tell a cha cha from a nightclub twostep because I’d never even heard of nightclub, and now I can dance every single dance played at a social ballroom night. I’ve come so far and learned so much and even if I’m not the greatest dancer, I can say with total confidence that I am a good follow. I’ve learned to listen to my partner speaking to me through the hand on my back or an extra finger touching my hand when I’m supposed to stop spinning. I can usually tell exactly where my lead wants me to go and when I’m supposed to get there. I can lead others and be confident in it, communicating the same things to them that tell them where to go. When I’m following, I don’t have to pay attention to the fingers on my shoulder blade, they just put pressure in a certain way and my body knows exactly where to move and how to get there. The mix of the music and my partner’s frame can tell me what’s coming next and exactly when to stop spinning, when I’ll have time for my own styling or if we’re going to follow a routine. There’s so many unspoken words in dance, and not just the words that are saying what steps to do but also the feelings and emotion and connection that’s all concentrated right in that little bundle of a three minute song. Tonight was one of the best nights of dance I’ve had in awhile. I wasn’t worried about how I looked or why someone wasn’t talking to me or if someone was watching me dance. Tonight I just danced and had fun. More than anything, after all the different dances I was asked to dance song after song nearly nonstop, more than anything, I simply felt wanted.

Better shake, rattlesnake!

❤ Annee

You Are Not Beautiful

In my last post, in addition to with everyone I’ve talked to lately, The Road to Character has been a popular subject in my mind. I can honestly say that this book changed my life, and the way I look at the world but not in the way other books have. This book was probably bad for me in a way, from the world’s perspective, in the way that it changed me. (Once again, quotes unless otherwise stated are from The Road to Character.)

This book taught me something about the way the world is now, compared to how it used to be.

It talks about how in the past, pre-World War 2, everyone had a different view on life than they do now. Basically, this pre-view was focused on morals and values, becoming more efficient in these things and therefore becoming a better version of yourself while staying humbled. The focus wasn’t on the self though, it was on gaining better mores. You didn’t matter. The idea was/is/should be that honesty was worth more than the clothes you were wearing. People were taught mannerisms and behaviors that made them thrive in society and morality was valued.

The shift between views occurred “in the 1950’s and 1960’s to a culture that put more emphasis on pride and self-esteem.” This wasn’t bad. It helped minorities gain notice and recieve basic rights that are important in our country today. Before that, minorities were taught to look down on themselves. They weren’t as important as say, an upper-middle class businessman. This shift made all the difference for hundreds of thousands people.

However, the book explains that the shift went too far. This new view went from teaching minorities that they were worth receiving the same rights as everyone else, to teaching everyone that they were worth more. They were worth receiving more. The book labels this shift as the shift from Little Me to Big Me. This Big Me idea contains the beliefs that you should trust yourself, listen to your gut instinct. It teaches that you are the best judge of yourself and know what’s best for you. “In this ethos, sin is not found in your individual self; it is found in the external structures of society—in racism, inequality, and oppression.” I think this shift of where sin is found is one of the most important parts of this whole idea. In the church, we are taught and warned of the sin in the world, of things to avoid. But very rarely do we discuss the natural man, the way sin is also in ourselves and is something to be overcome and wrestled with.

In the last post I talked a bit about how the book explains that the world is centered around YOU. This last chapter of the book talks more about that, and how some people blame technology for this shift. We can customize everything. Everything is based on our technology and how many “likes” we get. But when did this become worth something? How is a “like” or a “follower” worth more to us than the time we spend with our family, than the people we serve. It’s true that these materialistic social media things bring us more value, more worth in our society. But social media isn’t all the problem.

In the last year, I’ve begun to have a problem with many of the quotes I see on Pinterest, and many of the ones I myself am guilty of pinning. Just scrolling through my own board, I see “If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to build theirs” and “We are stars wrapped in skin-the light you are seeking has always been within.” The church too brings in these quotes: “You are a treasured daughter of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth.” Now I’m not going all anti-church and anti these quotes, but I am saying that I see the problem this book points out. The world (including the church) is CONSTANTLY telling people how beautiful, wonderful, magnificent, talented, worthwhile, valued, and priceless they AND their dreams are. But the world didn’t used to do this. It’s a new development of this day and age and I honestly see it as a bad thing.

This shift went too far, with 1) Positive Psychology, 2) Self-branding ethos and 3) Competitive pressures.

This first idea, of Positive Psychology is one I see around me SO much, especially with the church and having depression. I spent a week in the Behavior Health Center in Idaho Falls this year and one of their biggest focuses was self worth. They taught us to recognize our worth and recognize our strengths and do what we could do and to not let the negative things in the world affect us negatively. The biggest fight that I see against self-harming, is recognizing self-worth.

Okay, so yes, it’s true, we have worth. We are children of God after all. But that doesn’t make us perfect. In fact, we are very, very imperfect. So why then, do we value ourselves so much instead of valuing honesty, humility and integrity?   Our worth, while always existing, does nothing if we don’t achieve the Character we strive to be, finished only by God’s grace.

“The things that lead us astray are short term—lust, fear, vanity, and gluttony. The things we call character endure over the long term—courage, honesty, humility.”

Our self worth does not make us a good person. Thinking you’re beautiful no matter your weight, scars, birthmarks, etc. does not make you have mores. Telling your child how special and loved they are won’t make them grow into a successful person. Reaching for your dreams doesn’t mean you’ll learn the skill of hard work. Keeping calm and carrying on won’t help you when you have anxiety and literally cannot stay calm. Making lots of money won’t necessarily make you happy. External challenges don’t complete our inside character. Success and worth are not the same.

We all struggle with things internally, but I think we’ve lost the ability to stop and think about those things, to battle our internal struggles. When I try to stop and think, I find myself focusing on the things around me, what happened that day or what someone else said. I don’t think about if I was honest with someone. We’re taught to shy away from the things we do wrong. To forgive, forget and move on. In our society, it’s not encouraged to reflect on how we’re doing  with values, how we’re working to overcome our weaknesses.

After Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah were visited by the angel, Alma was stuck in astonishment so strong that he wasn’t able to speak or move for two days. His internal struggle was so much bigger than himself. It took time for him to recover and sort through all of his problems and feelings. I think each one of us also has the potential for this kind of necessary repentance because although our sins are not the same, they are all bigger than us. We can’t handle them alone. The natural man within us is very real and in many ways, more important than the external struggles we face. “Sin and limitation are woven through our lives. We are all recognizing the stumbling and trying to become more graceful as the years go by….People do get better at living.”

This shift that has gone to far, forcing us into this self-focused world where all we do is try to make ourselves look better and be better and worth more than everyone else is pointless. We are all worthwhile to God and those things mean nothing. This book made me realize that and I’m sure I’m going to end up rebelling against this Positive Psychology now, fighting the system simply because You are not beautiful. You are not strong. You are not irresistible. You are not extraordinary. You’re just a person with a whole lot of faults and problems.

Get in line, porcupine!

❤ Annee

Quiet the Self

I read a quote somewhere for my religion homework today that said something along the lines of, “If you think you have humility, you don’t.” I’ve been reading about humility in this book, The Road to Character (which by the way is where 99% of the quotes in this post are from so just assume that’s it for citation purposes). I’ve found so many interesting things in this wonderful collection of words.

“They had to descend into the valley of humility to climb the heights of character.” A lot of times we see people and think what a character they are. But what does that mean? Take Jennifer Lawrence for example. She has a lot of character and many view her as humble, but I don’t think she’s a prime example. She’s certainly portrayed as more humble than other celebrities but she’s not like the people exemplified in this book. Dorothea Day, it says, wore donated clothes and slaved alongside others to serve people even more unfortunate than herself and still, she had to catch herself because she’d find herself looking forward to and seeking gratitude for what she was doing. defines humility as a “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.” That sums it up pretty well and by that standard, to the world, people probably seem more humble than they truly are. Still, I think the answer of what humility is lies deeper.

I was sitting with a friend the other day at a dance show and he commented on how he had a problem with prideful dancers. He said he tried his best not to be one and then pointed out examples in our friend group of people who were and were not. He told me I was not and that I was fun to dance with. His counter to being a prideful dancer was being a fun dancer. The thing is, I seem myself as a prideful dancer. I’m a Ballroom Snob who tells people no to dancing with them sometimes at dance nights purely for the selfish reason that I don’t want to have to suffer through an awkward tango or look stupid in front of my friends doing only the box basic in waltz. I’m a snob and I know it. I used to suck and my friends struggled through dances with me and now, I won’t always do the same for others (Most of the time I say yes—I do have some semblance of social courtesy). Many of my friends who are better dancers than me will also say no to less experienced dancers, which by my definition, makes them a snob as well. A couple of these “snobs” are included in the mental list of kindest people I know, yet they’re still snobs.

I find that there’s a fine line between pride and humility. One of the best dancers/kindest people I know exemplifies this to me. He is an amazing dancer and he knows he’s good. He will stand by that talent and his knowledge of it until the day he dies. He doesn’t put himself down. But he also recognizes that there are many better than him and he has room to improve. He’s humble enough to know he still has more to learn, but proud enough that he’s sure in his ability and will say no to dancing with people (But he will say yes to teaching or turn the teaching over to someone he knows, likes and trusts—like me—to help).

Still, another of my dance friends is so kind and patient. I have the utmost respect for him and his everlasting goodness. I’ve never see him raise his voice in frustration or anger, and he compliments everyone around him. He teaches so much of dance, but also teaches through his example. He is without a doubt one of the people I look to for an example of humility and although he’s an amazing dancer, he’d never say so, but rather thank you sincerely if you told him so.

This book has taught me so many things about being humble and the people make me want to better myself. The book explains that we are self-centered. Literally everything happens around YOU. You are with yourself literally all the time (something else I’ve been very conscious of lately). You are always in your mind. All of your experiences are yours, the way you see them. The book talks about how our world today is based so much on “finding yourself” and “being true to yourself” and “chasing your dreams. Maybe what this world needs though is simply to be. Simply to live in the conveyor belt of cheerful idiots. Because it we’re all trying to be craftsmen and chase our outlandish dreams and spend years finding ourselves, who’s going to keep the world running with all of it’s working parts? Maybe we need to stop focusing so much on changing things and maintain what is, changing little by little. It’s about us. It really is. We come to this earth with our agency, determined to determine our destiny. But so much of what happens relies on others. If we’re so busy finding ourselves, what happens to the person in front of us that just fell and scrapped their knee?

I’m reminded of a video of spoken word poetry where the message is simply to look up from your cellphone so that you don’t miss life passing you by. I think part of humility requires us to be in the moment and not so much in your own head.

Humility is freedom from the need to prove you are superior all the time…Humility is the awareness that there’s a lot you don’t know and that a lot of what you think you know is distorted or wrong.” It’s not just being modest, it’s accepting yourself as a figure that won’t be perfect until after the resurrection. We’re here to make mistakes and that’s okay.

“Truly humble people are engaged in a great effort to magnify what is best in themselves and defeat what is worst, to become strong in weak places.” Being humble encompasses standing strong. It encompasses making a difference and being courageous. It is standing firm in the faith.

“Self-respect is not the same as self-confidence or self-esteem.” Perhaps this explains my friend and why he can be seen as both proud and humble. He knows the difference between these and he knows where he stands, but he isn’t afraid to stop and help someone lesser in a particular skill than him. And he will recognize the better.

“We’re not bad. But we are morally inarticulate.”

Give a hug, ladybug!

❤ Annee