Tuesday, May 30

Honest Voices

[Wedding, group blogs, and family function have kept me from posting for awhile. Here's to getting back into a routine!]

I'm a Harry Potter Fan, (not a rabid HP Fan, but a fan nonetheless). There is a part in book five where Harry was passed over for a position of some merit, and after some embarrassing moments he has a second to himself to take it in. He asks himself what he was really expecting, and 'an honest voice said "not this".' I've been searching for that honest voice in my own mind, and have had some trouble finding it.

The honest voice was squashed out of me at a very young age, and I have severe trouble trusting my own opinions thoughts and impressions. For example, when I was 9 or so I was riding in the car with my family. The discussion turned to colors, and I proudly proclaimed that green was my favorite color. My sister quite seriously said "No it isn't." Instead of insisting that green was my favorite color I immediately wondered what was my favorite color, since it couldn't be green.

This lack of honest-voice has made itself known in many ways. For one, I'm often absolutely enthralled by the idea that Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself. Though this belief is quite accurate, I take it to extremes, for instance hoping that Heavenly Father will let me know what my real opinions are, and maybe show me what it is I like to do.

Another way my missing honest-voice is evident is through the nearly constant stream of chatter in my head. I'm always re-convincing myself of my stance on issues, my beliefs, my likes, and my feelings. It drives my husband nuts because I will repeatedly tell myself and him the myriad reasons why the conclusion we came to was correct. "Another reason why it's a good idea to get a house is because blah blah blah..."

I'm not sure if the honest-voice is self-esteem or not. I know I'm a talented important person who is loved, but do I know that because my honest-voice tells me so, or do I know it because someone else told me what my opinion about myself is.

I think, in this world of advertising, opinion editorials, and bossy older sisters an inner honest-voice is a vital thing to have. We should all be able to ask ourselves "do I really need a hamburger to feel manly?" and honestly answer "no." To ask "what is important to me about toxic issue X?" and answer "the children!" To ask "What is my favorite color?" and answer, without second-guessing "Green!"

Saturday, May 6


During the summer of 2001 my family took a trip to Sweden. We stayed for two weeks, and saw all sorts of great things. We saw the Alfred Nobel mueseum, we saw the largest lake in Europe, and we saw the docks of Göteburg. We bought wooden clogs, and saw professional glass blowers. The parts I remember best, though, were the days we spent with my mom's cousins scattered across a few smaller cities centered around Karlskoga.
When we arrived my mom's 'Spinster Aunt' cousin, named Ulla, picked us up from the Airport. She drove us around to see all of the relatives that we were to visit. Our relatives fed us, fed us, and fed us again. At every meal we were implored to 'take a second tour.' We were stuffed. The older people, who were obviously very excited to see and meet the children of their cousin who left so long ago, could barely speak to us. They didn't know English, and we didn't know Swedish. They pressed presents into our hands and muttered mysterious explanations.
There was one man, who looked exactly like my mom's brother. He talked to us the whole time, and we didn't understand a word he said. Ulla told him that we didn't speak, or understand Swedish, but he never gave up. The funny thing is that is exactly what my mom's brother is like. He doesn't care much if you understand what he's saying, he'll keep talking to you anyways.
My mom, with Ulla's help gathered names, birthdates, and cities, and parishes. Upon learning that we wanted to learn about our ancestors they took us to graveyards. In fact that is what we spent most of our time doing, eating and going to graveyards.
The graveyards were different there. In a graveyard in the US there are fancy headstones, and faded plastic flowers. In Sweden most of the headstones had a small flowerbed in front of the headstone, that families were responsible for maintaining. Our hosts told us that you could tell when a person's child had gone to the US because there were no flowers planted at their headstone. They all seemed to feel a deep loss because of those who had left. By leaving the emmigrants broke the family apart and the family the emmigrants left behind remembered those who left for generations.
I came to understand the desire to be sealed to a family. I had always thought, "if we're there together what does it matter if we're sealed or not?" These people, though I had never met them, were my family. I may never see those people again during this life, but I love them dearly. I know them. And my concern for their welfare goes beyond their mortal comforts. I need them, and know that they need me. We are not complete without eachother. They knew that they missed me and my siblings, but we had never known that we missed them.
One of the last houses we stayed at we sang a hymn, "How Great Thou Art," with the family. They sang in Swedish, and we sang in English. As we sang I looked around and my whole family was crying. After the hymn we laughed at our tears, and Ulla translated for our hosts: "They understand why you are crying, they feel it too." I still cry every time we sing that hymn. I think I always will.

Thursday, May 4

The uses of outrage

While I was in college I had the experience of dating a few guys who could best be described as, well, jerks. They had this amazing ability to say the worst things possible, and infuriate me in the process. It wasn't spite, it was mostly thoughtlessness, but the results were the same. I only confided in a few people, my best friend, and one of my four roommates. Somehow, though, all of my roommates seemed to know when I was angry. I think it was because they'd come home from class and find me scrubbing the floor like my life depended on it.

Yes, I'm an anger cleaner. I don't shout at people, I do the dishes. I don't slam doors or give cold glares, I clean the oven. In fact, the summer before I broke up with my boyfriend was the cleanest three months that apartment had ever seen. My poor roommates would tiptoe around the kitchen while I scrubbed the oven muttering under my breath. In retrospect they were probably afraid that if they made a mess I would snap at them. I sort of feel bad for the stress I put them through, but at the same time, there was that much less cleaning for them to do. I think it was a fair trade. :)

The weird thing is, it's not just regular anger that makes me clean. When I'd do bad on a test, or be frustated at work I'd go running. It was specifically relationship anger that would drive me into a cleaning frenzy. I'm sort of curious if there is anything subconciously symbollic about cleaning because I was mad at my boyfriend.

Luckily for me I married a wonderful man, who has yet to make me angry. The downside is, my kitchen spends a lot of time being very dirty.