Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ladies, step up and out!

i always love these twenties flapper shoes like grandma eva wore
yesterday i wore tights for the first time since last spring.

i pulled on a pair of last season's tights (cranberry colored) under a dress that is now three seasons old--a grey sort of shift type thing that has seen better days.

i had two simultaneous thoughts:  1) i'm not ready for tights! and 2) i miss blogging.

i thought about starting a brand new blog--and why not?  

it still might happen.

but at least for today, i'll stick with the trusty old girls in tights blog.

it's gloomy out today, in a beautiful way, and the mountains are just barely turning their fall colors.  at the advice of my daughter, i wrapped in a quilt and sat on the back porch in the middle of the day and just looked at the mountains.  she told me to say out loud, "there is a rhythm and flow to life, and i am part of it."  i did what she told me to do, and it made me feel a lot better.

did i mention the part where i was feeling super crappy today?  

well, no one wants to hear about that old thing.

but, i was having a bit of a melt down.  

the kind that a daughter shouldn't have to witness in her trusty ol' mother, but she got me through it.  

so one thing i can't feel crappy about today is my wise daughter.  

and all the wise ladies i know.

i had already reached out to my baby sister.  actually, i was about to call her when she called me instead.  she always makes me feel better.

as i thought about who i could turn to for support, so many women came to mind.  

it's a stale line, but it's true.  and until i come up with a fresh line, i'll just have to use this one again:

i feel so grateful for the amazing women in my life.  

the lack i was feeling today began to fill with daughters, sisters, aunts, and mothers. 

i simply can't wallow in the face of such feminine, goddessy richness.


there's a lot of lady times stuff going down in my neck of the woods:

1) the ordain women action taking place a week from saturday.  a lot of hateful chatter is darkening the internets right now, relating to the ordination discussion.  this makes me sad.  but it also shows that this topic needs addressing.  by everyone.  no matter what your opinion is on the subject.  if someone in our midst wants to talk.  if anyone in our midst wants to talk, of high or low profile, of any walk of life or "worthiness" as determined by our ill-bestowed judgements about other folks's moral purity, it is our sacred duty and obligation to listen and respond with thoughtful, kind, and sincere reply.

my other wise daughter, ingrid, who has actual professional training in direct action, told me something like, "it's a really bad sign when you get NO reaction to your work.  it's a better sign if you get a lot of blowback."  so, i'm hoping the discussion will continue, but that it will get smarter, more nuanced, and more productive.  i hope with every fiber of my being  (that's more utah church-speak, in case you're not familiar) that shaming, judging, and name-calling will have no part in mormon sisterhood.  that behavior is shameful and harmful to us all, as a self-proclaimed body of christ.

if we're gonna talk that much talk, mormon people, we better get right on up and walk the walk.  i'm not seeing that happening right now.

i have many feelings on this ordination subject, but i still haven't figured out the right time and place and way and venue to talk about them.  i don't even know exactly what i want to say.  

sadly, i don't feel all that safe discussing these things in a public forum, and i'm pretty sure i'm not the only one.  

in the meantime, this is the most important thing to me right now, and the thing i feel most sure about:

mormon ladies, give your sisters a safe place to talk.  if we don't feel safe airing our questions, doubts, struggles, etc. in the sistership of church, then where?  i've known too many women, starting from the time i was thirteen years old, who leftthefold (that's mo-speak, too) because they were judged, shamed or criticized for having the wrong something or other:  skirt length, body type, mannerism, make-up, piercings, marital status, economic status, job or not job, number of children or not children, visual aids, boob job or not boob job, level of household cleanliness, enforcement of dress and grooming standards in offspring, attendance at movies of a certain rating, sexuality, etc.  i've even heard, on a few occasions, horrible, disgusting name calling and labeling at church.  i can't ever forget that, and it makes me not want to speak out even when i know i should.  

it's truly sick.  and not sick as in "rad", sick as in super twisted and wrong. this is a terrible "tradition of our fathers (i.e. mothers)", and we sisters are fostering and continuing it. it makes no sense for us not to be, instead: 

a fluffy bed of down 

or a green pasture for anyone 

who is hurting or questioning to lie down in, 

to rest and repose in

a cool drink of water on a hot day

and i don't mean in the sense that 

"oh, ladies are so much better at empathizing with folks than non-ladies."

i mean it in this way:  ladies need to take a leadership role in making our community a kinder, more open, more transparent, more welcoming, accepting, and safer place.  

and not because we're ladies, but because someone better do it.  why not us?  why not now?

from what i'm witnessing in my daily and weekly church interactions, in the heart of the sometimes twisted heart of the bosom of mormondom that is utah county, there's a crisis looming. we'd better do something fast.  

sister claudia bushman has said in my presence, at least a half dozen times, "the mormon church is a hierarchy, and women can't climb that ladder.  you have to make lateral space for yourself." 

i've never know how to interpret that exactly, but since sister claudia bushman said it, i keep on trying to figure out how to implement her wisdom in my life.  and i figure that making safer, more open spaces for discussion is, for sure, a lateral move, in the best sense.

let's show everyone we know how to talk in a smarter and nicer way.  

this might sound too optimistic, but i honestly think we can create a sea-change in the way dialogue happens in our church, community, culture, neighborhoods, and families.  regardless of where you fall on this issue, what possible harm is there in trying to understand someone else's point of view or feelings?  can empathetic listening ever be a bad thing?  let's change some of the negative actions we sometimes unwittingly adhere to, those unexamined traditions around our "duty" to condemn those we disagree with.  this is a practice that is purely cultural, and can be discarded without a second thought.  it does no practical or spiritual good to anyone.  and we don't need any one of authority to tell us this is the right thing to do.  we already know it. we've known it for years.  we just haven't practiced it widely or well enough.

warm, and with a nod to sherwood forest

2) i'm reading for my ph.d exams scheduled for december 5th.  this has been one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable things i've ever done in my life.  i've never felt so focused or invigorated by my daily work.  it feels like a miracle that i have ten more weeks to revel in poetry.

my google drive is now cluttered with empty folders and documents of new creative and scholarly work i want to do as a result of my reading.   i vowed not to start new projects until after my exams, so i now just entitle empty documents so i can come back to them if they endure the length of my reading months.  

my mantra for the past few months has been, "focus on finishing."  everyone in my life keeps warning me not to start anything new.  i tend to chicken out on the  finishing part of things.  i'm working on that.  

so i got a little off the gender topic there.  what i was going to say is that i'm reading, of course, tons of gender theory, but also my favorite writers, like sappho, harryette mullen, and emily dickinson, to name a very few, and one of the themes of my reading list is gender performance. i'm trying to figure all that out by december 5th.  

but one thing that has really impressed me, though, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as we say in utah church speak, is that more female voices in the world equals a better world.  in fact, more voices from any where we're not hearing from, or hearing enough from, improves the world.  more voices do not diminish the ones already out there, despite the defensive posture human beings almost ALWAYS take when they feel their territory threatened.  a plurality of voices can co-exist.  

can be beautiful.  

we should try it out. 

more lady poets doesn't diminish the work of gentlemen poets.  

more ladies asking questions about the status quo doesn't hurt a thing.  

does it?  if you disagree, tell me, and i'll do my best to listen with an open mind and a soft heart.

but you would think, given some of the over-the-top responses to ladies' questions that i've seen lately, that lady questions are the scariest thing in the entire world.

i would say, not to put too fine a point on it, that questions 

are always the thing that saves the world, 

and right now, 

it seems like we might need a last-minute save.  

who's gonna step up in her milan 2013 fall leg wear?

who's gonna step up? 

ladies?  are we?

i'll leave you with these two poem thoughts, from emily dickinson and harryette mullen, and an urging for us all to pipe down and listen up, 

lest we miss the best and quietest sounds:

I was a Phoebe — nothing more —
A Phoebe — nothing less —
The little note that others dropt
I fitted into place —

I dwelt too low that any seek —
Too shy, that any blame —
A Phoebe makes a little print
Upon the Floors of Fame —

--Emily Dickinson, Poem 1009



They just can’t seem to . . . They should try harder to . . . They ought to be more . . . We all wish they weren’t so . . . They never . . . They always . . . Sometimes they . . . Once in a while they . . . However it is obvious that they . . . Their overall tendency has been . . . The consequences of which have been . . . They don’t appear to understand that . . . If only they would make an effort to . . . But we know how difficult it is for them to . . . Many of them remain unaware of . . . Some who should know better simply refuse to . . . Of course, their perspective has been limited by . . . On the other hand, they obviously feel entitled to . . . Certainly we can’t forget that they . . . Nor can it be denied that they . . . We know that this has had an enormous impact on their . . . Nevertheless their behavior strikes us as . . . Our interactions unfortunately have been . . .


  1. Yay!! You're back.

    And I am SO ready for tights--no more shaving every day!!

    1. i look forward to pictures of your awesome shoe/tight pairings, kristine!

  2. Yay! I have been stalking this blog for way too long waiting for its return to activity! (No intended Church pun.) I also love all of this. It has been really unsettling to come back from a mission to a world where day-to-day Mormon life isn't, as it is for a missionary, about encouraging, accepting perceived failures in hope of progress, telling others about forgiveness and trying to forgive, but rather about hierarchies, judgment, and ruthless dogmatism. Not that either world is perfect or imperfect, but I guess I mean to say that being a missionary forced me to focus on the very, very basic things of the Gospel, every moment of every day, and accepting and loving all ideas, complaints, and confusion, like you wrote, is definitely a big part of that. I also have become wary of becoming part of any "camp" because both can seem so intent upon creating shame, fear or expressing anger to further their cause. It's weird to think about, but the most radical thing we can do is really to try to listen to what God would have us do, and do it, every day. Okay this was corny. But it's all too true! Love you, Lara. Let's go to yoga soon.

    1. eliza, this is so beautiful and insuring, and spot on. thanks for the jolt of insight.

  3. "and not because we're ladies, but because someone better do it. why not us? why not now?"

    "but one thing that has really impressed me, though, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as we say in utah church speak, is that more female voices in the world equals a better world. in fact, more voices from any where we're not hearing from, or hearing enough from, improves the world."

    ^AND THIS^

    Lara, I'm so glad you're back to blogging! I love reading your words and thoughts both.

    So sorry about the meltdown, but think about the wise daughter you raised who talked you through! That alone is cause for a step away from meltdownland.

    FWIW, it must be the week for mothering meltdowns... I had mine over the weekend via Skype. One of your fellow Utahns (is that the right word?) talked me back from the yawning precipice...

    Good luck on your Ph.D. comps! I'm so glad you are noticing and taking notice of the joy of the process. I really wish I had done that.

    I'm in your town late Oct. Would love to see you, even if only to bring comfort food and listen to you talk for a minute about the poem or project in your head at that point in time.


    1. i look forward to late october, teri. xxxxoooo

  4. She's back, baby! Yay! Keep 'em coming, I say!

  5. Beautiful thinks. I'm always hoping and working to green up my own pasture and make it welcoming and safe.