Saturday, September 27, 2008

Indulge Me...

I've had a bad couple of days and have not felt well, and, well, I think the craziness level is getting a leetle too high right now. So, indulge me.

When I was in college, I was a DJ for the college radio station - KWRS, Spokane's only Pirate radio. We used to joke that it had less wattage than a light bulb. You could hear the station on campus, several blocks away from campus and on a good day, from Mt. Spokane. It was awesome to play radio DJ for a couple of hours a week. I still have some old cassette tapes (just saying the word makes me feel old) of my shows. I loved my show, it was called The Happy Hour. But that is besides the point. I was introduced to a whole new world of music that I had never been exposed to before. People like Michelle Shocked, Ween, Barenaked Ladies, Bjork, Rusted Root, Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco. One song I heard made an impact on me, 32 Flavors by Ani DiFranco.

I had been struggling with identity issues for quite a while. You could say that the teen years had been difficult for me, and the jump from high school to college was even more so. In high school I was easily defined by what I did. Smart kid, band geek, Christian, yearbook editor, swimmer, over-achiever. Each of those things firmly defined me and shaped who I was, what I did, who I was friends with, etc. But there was conflict in some of those terms that I struggled to reconcile. I thought every aspect of myself had to fit into one neat, tidy package.

When I came to college everything that defined me was stripped away one by one. I was average now, one of many over-achievers and I found it not so easy to juggle activities and my responsibilities. I also questioned heavily the concept of being a Christian and God. I heard 32 Flavors for the first time my sophomore year of college while I was deeply unhappy with myself.

I love this song because it has quite a few different messages that I get out of it. What I think I love the most about this song is the message about self-realization/acceptance. A woman is a complex creature, and I am amazed at all the things women are capable of doing. We have layers (flavors), some so deep inside us that most people (including ourselves) don't get to see them often (if ever). We need to embrace and celebrate the flavors that make us unique and create contrast in us - those things that make us individuals. We need to accept that we are not perfect, that we are flawed. Not to let that inhibit us, but let us grow and move forward.

So, this song was covered by Alana Davis in the late 90's, it might sound familiar. As for Ani, she looks pretty scary. Someone should have told her fake fluorescent feathers is not a good hairstyle for her. You know, the kind that come attached to cheap cowboy hats. (How judgemental of me, bad, bad, bad.)

As for the present day, I don't struggle as much with the things that define me. I spend less time trying to reconcile them and more time embracing them, realizing that I am complex and flawed. And wonderful.

This song is called Present/Infant.

This song embodies what I think causes so many women to have struggle. As a mother now, I hope I can instill in my daughters such self-confidence, acceptance and strength that they will make it through the difficult years joyful and confident. That they will not let the world outside try to project the idea that you're never pretty enough, popular enough, thin enough, clever enough..... That they will be content to smile and enjoy themselves the way they are. That they'll never be caused to doubt themselves and their true divine nature. During General Conference (bi-annual general meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave a talk called, "Concern for the One". I was supposed to teach this talk in Church on Sunday, but I just am not able to pull it together in front of a whole class of women right now. Which is probably why I'm rambling right now. I really loved this talk and really wanted to teach this lesson. Aneeewho, enough. Something Elder Wirthlin said has stuck with me this last six months and I have really tried to embrace it.

He said "Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed. Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole. This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another, but He “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God."

Here is a link to the complete talk he gave.

So, like I said, thanks for indulging me and letting me get the craziness that is floating around in my head out.

The End.


RORYJEAN said...

Wow- I loved this post. I especially loved the songs- I'm gonna have to add them both to my playlist. Its nice to be reminded that other women struggle with self-acceptance. I think sometimes I forget that we aren't struggling for perfection- even our best will fall short, and thats okay.
I hope you feel better soon- I can't imagine what it must be like to be sick while watching two active kids. Let me know if I can do anything to help.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am so glad you decided to indulge yourself, this was a very powerful and well-written post, one I think A LOT of women need to read. I think many of us struggle with self-identity and self-acceptance on some level, especially as young mothers in our church culture. We all need to learn to embrace ourselves, but we also need to learn how to fully accept other people who don't fit into our specific mold, too. We all can learn from each other.

(Insert tangent - I am sad you won't be able to teach on Sunday because I would have liked to hear even more of your thoughts on this subject. Although, the substitute I am sure will also give a good and well thought out lesson.)

I also loved getting to know you better in this post. I don't think I ever knew you were a DJ ... and how did I miss you used to be a swimmer? I probably knew that. Did you used to swim competitively?

Diana said...

I wondered if this post stemmed from the general conference talk. I think it's good to remember that we are all different, but that everyone's flavors make life interesting--even if that includes wearing feathers in our hair.

Maybe that's how I'll do my hair next Sunday.