Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Things I Love About My Faith: An Introduction

A major part of how I choose to seek the positive is related to my faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I wanted to make a post about why I choose to be a member of my church giving a list of reasons why and explaining them. However, I realized it would take too long and I'd never post again if I waited to write it all.

Instead, I've decided to make it a series of posts taking one reason at a time and elaborating a little on each one. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Seeking the Positive in Food

I've been reading a fascinating book lately called, "The Taste of Sweet," by Joanne Chen. In the book, she looks at how we, as a society, view sweet things. I knew that all of us don't taste things the same, but I didn't know that there were scientists that study how we taste. I learned that there are people that are non-tasters, tasters, and super-tasters and part of what determines how strongly one tastes something can depend on how many taste buds you have in your mouth and whether you have a genetic tendency to taste a certain bitter chemical. I also learned how scientists create flavors and how the taste of strawberry in the 50's is much different than the strawberry tastes now, even the actual fruit. There's lots more, so I recommend this book to anyone that would like to read more about the science, history, and psychology of sweet foods and sugar.

One part that made me want to post about it talks about how most Americans have this love-hate relationship with sweets and food in general. We are surrounded by talk of how this food is fattening or how we need to eat more foods with anti-oxidants or omega-3's. Most of us love to eat cake and ice cream, but after we eat it, we feel guilty because we just ate junk food and swear to just eat salad for the next week to make up for it. (That might be a minor exaggeration or it may not. :) )

The author tells of a survey on health concerns and diet given in four countries, including the U.S and France and the stark difference in the answers given by the French and the Americans. The French women used words like delicious and celebration to describe ice cream and chocolate cake whereas American women used words like fattening and guilt. The author mentions the French paradox, where although the French eat rich foods, their rate of cardiovascular disease is lower than those in the U.S. She states that the lead psychologist behind the survey thinks that this guilt and fear of gaining weight may be the reason behind why many Americans eat so much and have unhealthy relationships with food. The author later wonders if part of the reason might be because the French have a more positive attitude about food.

Personally, I've never been too worried about food, though I do try to eat healthy foods most of the time. I do get worried sometimes if I eat too much or have too many sweets, but most of the time, I just try to do better next time. However, after reading this book, I have decided to keep trying to eat good foods, but not feel guilty when I don't. I have decided to try to enjoy my food more instead of just eating out of habit.

So far, I've done pretty well to taste and savor what I'm eating. I haven't remembered to do it for every meal, but I know I ate some really nice peanut butter cookies this week and enjoyed letting them melt in my mouth. My hope is as I taste my food, I will slow down and eat only what I need while still enjoying the experience. Do you want to try it with me?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Thought

Today I pulled out my little sewing machine that my mother-in-law gave to me a long while ago, learned how to use it, and hemmed three pairs of jean cutoffs for summer. It was so easy and now D and I have more shorts. This is a big deal for me since sewing is not one of my regular activities, so I thought I'd share.

Go back to your regularly scheduled activities... :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You're Gonna Miss This...

A few days ago, I was in my van listening to the radio and the song, "You're Gonna Miss This," sung by Trace Adkins came on. (Yes, I am an occasional country music listener. :) ) As I pulled into my parking spot and sat listening to the end of the song, I started to think about what I would miss when we leave school one day. I looked out at the well-maintained lawns and the mountains in our backyard and thought, "I will miss this." I will also miss having a playground out my front door, though I do have days where I yearn for my own backyard. I'll miss having my husband home as often as he is. I'll miss my gas stove, especially if we can't get one wherever we go. In a way, thinking about what I'll miss helps me appreciate what I do have while we are here.

After a few days of thinking about what I'll miss after we leave graduate school, I started thinking about my baby, e, who is learning how to walk. She likes to pull herself up on anything that is available, including me. She'll grab onto my pant legs and sometimes keep holding on while I walk slowly around so she can walk with me. Sometimes it's a little frustrating when I'm trying to get stuff done and then I think, "You're gonna miss this," and I become more patient with her.

I try, as a mother, to enjoy the stages that my children are in, especially the younger ones, because I know it won't last long. I think it keeps me from wishing they were older and could do more at times because I know they will be older one day and I'll miss the things they used to do, like learning to walk or say their first words or laugh a cute baby laugh.

So my advice to myself and you is to take advantage of where you are right now. Instead of just wishing and planning for what might happen in the future, enjoy where you are right now.

(e is starting to let go more often and walking by herself. I'm gonna miss her pulling herself up holding onto my pants soon. :) )

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

As I watched fireworks through my front room window, I realized how wonderful a country I live in. As much as I dislike the fighting and negativity of American politics, I am grateful that the fighting is mostly with words and ideas and not with guns and bombs. I'm grateful that the explosions I see and hear tonight are not because of differing ideologies, but for celebration of the birth of our great nation. So as this election season continues to drag along its dreary way, I hope to remember that at least we can disagree in our country without people dying.

God Bless America!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kindness Begins With Me

I already talked about seeking the positive in our children as parents, but what about everyone else? Your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your neighbors? The people that work at the store, the person driving next to you, your senator or congressmen, the crazy liberals, the evil conservatives, Big Oil, the list could go on and on.

We see in our society so much of name-calling, fighting, and just seeking for the worst in someone else. I know it gets tiring for me and I have to keep myself from getting sucked into the negativity, especially when it comes to politics.

So what can we do to make a difference? I've been teaching my children a song for when they start picking at each other. The key phrase of the song is "Kindness begins with me." I think we need to start with ourselves to be more kind to those around us, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to look for the good and positive in others.

It doesn't mean that we have to sacrifice our principles. We can choose to disagree without being disagreeable or mean. We can also choose not to get offended when someone does something we disagree with. We can try to understand where others are coming from and try to find areas where we agree. We can choose to think of others as people instead of objects by considering their feelings about something instead of summarily dismissing them just because we don't agree or understand.

Will you try it with me?