Friday, January 28, 2011

My New Job

I have a new job with a debt assistance company. We get lists of people who have shown interest through the internet, and I call them and ask if they'd like me to set up an appointment for them. I talk to people all day who have tons of debt and are experiencing the strain it puts on your life. Some of them think they don't need our help, some are very grateful that we're calling. Some have so much debt, they won't be able to pay it off in their lifetime. Many of our leads are through a Christian website, so I speak to a lot of really nice people. The say "God bless" on their answering machines, and they are so polite on the phone. They are a great example of loving your neighbor, even loving someone on the phone that they've never met . It is pretty typical for Americans to be suspicious of a strange person who calls them on the phone, so much that they'll let the machine get it. But not some of these people.

I spoke with a man today named Russ who was all politeness, and an example to me of real Christianity. He was interested in an appointment, but we weren't able to make one because he currently has no internet. He said he'd like to call me later though. He said he is very blessed to have no debt! but he would like to improve in the area of managing money. He would like to make sure that he is using the money God blessed him with in the best way--the way that pleases Him. What a guy! Sometimes I come across people who have miraculously paid off their mortgages and credit cards and have minimal debt, but he has absolutely none. And not only that, he considers his money God's money and wants to spend it well because of it. What a grateful man. It made me realize that I consider the money I make my money because I feel I have earned it, and should be able to spend it how I please. If I had an attitude like him, I might eventually be blessed enough to have no debt. Living entirely for God and not for myself might actually give me more freedom in my finances than hardship. Sounds difficult, but maybe not....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

16 Weeks

I cannot believe I am 4 months today! I hardly feel pregnant sometimes, and I don't have much of a baby bump. The fatigue is still there to remind me, though. And I still eat all the time. I find out the gender soon, and I think it will help me connect with the baby a little more knowing if it's a he or a she. I am so excited for that moment (and to not have to call the baby 'it')! Here are the stats I got this week:

How your baby's growing:

Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he's about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces. His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren't recognizable yet. He's even started growing toenails. And there's a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop.

Ok now I am craving avocado. With tomato on a really good sandwich. Really, I don't think my baby is that big. Maybe that long, but an avocado is just so round. At my first appointment, the doctor actually moved up my due date because baby was bigger than normal for 8 weeks (it was a whole inch long, and one ounce I think) and therefore further along. So he bumped me to 10 weeks and moved my date from July 20 to July 14. I am curious to see if my baby is still growing fast, or if that 2 week bump has put it behind at all. Who knows. I just hope it comes sooner than later because I am really just excited to hold it.

P.S. No one at work knows I am pregnant. It is fun still having a secret, but then again I want to tell everyone so I can talk about it!

P.P.S. I am so excited! I think about it all the time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Musicals and Oldies

So I watched South Pacific for the first time last night! I loved it. There were some songs I recognized that I didn't know would be in it. Some Enchanted Evening was soo romantic. I didn't even mind the soft focus and the fake coloring--it was awesome! I loved it. Baby loved it too, I'm sure.

Another thought--I was listening to the oldies radio on my commute home, and they played When the Lights Go Down by Journey. Really--when did 80s and 70s music become oldies? When I was little they played 50s and 60s on the oldies station. It made me feel like an oldie.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another week has come and gone, in the door sales world. It was an extremely cold week out knocking doors, I got a lot of people that said no right off the bat, but even with that, there were quite a few that said yes. In fact I was called back by one guy today, who when I knocked his door, gave me that look that says, I don't have time to talk, besides its freezing, He had only cracked the door open a pinch. I mentioned why the services we offer are great benefit for him, got him laughing, by giving him a business card of mine, and he told me he'd look into it, along with telling me to get out of the cold. it was somewhere in the teens. One of the days it snowed on me ... again while out knocking. I think the best was a super nice family shared with me their dinner. We had KFC, and they signed up. Despite the mean people, there are some truly amazing people out in our communities.
I think alot people think that doing door sales the hardest part would be just being able to talk with people. Which don't get me wrong can be difficult from time to time. Or people ask me if the weather is the most difficult part of this job. Its not that bad when you prepare for the weather, or if you realize that you're going to talk to as many people as possible so be happy to meet someone, who knows, you might meet someone cool. Sometimes its not the actual work of it that is hard. but rather the time spent in doing the work, or the business side of the job is taxing. All in All I've had a great experience with it, and will say, yes I hope the weather warms up a bit. That would be nice, but if not, I'm still out there, meeting some of your neighbors, and getting a feel for what each neighborhood is like.
O funny story, I sent an online order form to a potential customer, only to realize I had sent the email with all the instructions to fill out the form and everything without attaching the PDF online form. So I felt pretty bad, so I took off and personally showed up to fill out a paper form. The Customer recognized my last name and asked if I knew a Jessica, who did ballroom. It turned out the customer had been in some of Jessica's classes in college and were friends a little bit. Kinda a funny moment. Kind of like when I knocked and installed a tv set top box for one Jess's cousins. Yeah those weird moments are pretty cool .

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So far, my baby has..

-traveled to Seattle, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, and Riverside
-eaten a lot of In n' Out burgers and a lot of pizza and many oranges
-grown fingers and toes and all major organs
-been to its first Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert
-spent over 300 hours at the University Mall
-attended its first ballroom competition (where mom couldn't figure out why dancing was so exhausting)
-been in the Timpanogos Temple
-gotten its first package in the mail
-gone knocking doors with dad
-listened to a lot of Gloria Estefan and Mariah Carey

Friday, January 7, 2011

Our Perception of Beauty

This is a topic about which I feel very strongly. It’s a message that I wish could be explained to every young girl and teen (and their mothers, who might need to hear it even more).

“They’re sad facts that many of us know: You will never see an average American woman represented in the mass media as a ‘beauty ideal.’ And it is completely reasonable to assume that every image of women you see in the media has been digitally manipulated. So why is that where we get our standard for what is normal and beautiful?”

This quote comes from an article I read called “Beauty Redefined” in the recent edition of LDS Living. I was so glad that someone finally addressed this topic in such a direct way because it is affecting every single woman in America. We sometimes hear the phrase: “Beauty is not on the outside but on the inside” which is a true statement, but not strong enough to convince women who are spoon-fed a completely opposite, man-made concept of what real beauty is. The problem is that we live “in a world where there is a constant flow of media images that far exceeds the number of women we could ever see face to face, creating for us an abnormally thin and digitally enhanced feminine ideal. A counterfeit, dangerous, unattainable norm.” Not only is this the ideal, but it is portrayed as normal and healthy!

You would think we would be able to distinguish the truth from the lies in media. However, women have succumbed to this “narrow” image of woman, affecting their self-esteem, creating a preoccupation with their appearance, influencing them to fall upon eating disorders, and giving them an overall sense of self-loathing. The article included some interesting studies, stating that more than half of adult women claim their bodies “disgust them” and 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Those numbers are astounding, but when I think about some of the women that I know and the things they say about their bodies, those figures seem pretty realistic.

I had to come to terms with my own “disgust” that was taught to me by media. I’ve always been pretty thin and quite confident about myself, but that in no way excluded me from feeling like my body could improve. I remember being very conscious of my weight when I was in middle school. I was pretty proud of my 78 pounds, but sure enough that number went up as I got taller and as my woman curves started to come in. I remember feeling dismayed in my sophomore year of high school when I weighed 113. At 5’ 1’’ I thought that was a little too much. I missed my thin, muscle-and-bone body from a few years before. Putting that down on paper now makes me feel ridiculous. But the fact that I can still remember those numbers just shows how much my perception of beauty was skewed, and it makes me feel happy to have finally gotten to a point where I no longer measure beauty by a dumb scale of weight. I continued to worry about weight, and it kept going up in high school. What I did not realize was I was just not done growing and filling out. It was not something I talked about with anyone, but I know I thought about it often and took my appearance and weight into consideration when I ate and when I bought clothes and makeup. There were times when I thought maybe I should just be anorexic for just a couple of days just to drop a couple of pounds. Fortunately for me, I did not have the self-control for that and I was totally unsuccessful—went on eating as usual. But the strange thing is I was a confident person. I knew I had worth, I didn’t feel particularly unattractive, I wasn’t depressed. But I was still affected by this unrealistic perception of beauty.

Unlike me, there are girls and women out there who have a tremendous amount of self-control and will do just about anything to make them feel good about themselves, dieting and starving to be thin. Another study pointed out that half of all 9- to 12-year-old girls wish they were thinner, and 35 percent of 6-to12-year-old girls have been on at least one diet. This might seem like a shockingly young age group, but the fact is that much of this awareness of weight stems from little girls’ mothers. Mothers go on diets, they talk about how fat they are, they talk about how they despise aspects of their bodies. It is having a very negative impact on little girls, and it is only enforcing even more strongly what little girls see on tv, on billboards, in Barbies, in magazines, etc. It is so important not only to say positive things about a child’s body, but to also say positive things about your own body.

One other interesting thing is that SLC has been ranked “Vainest City in the Nation” in 2007, 2008, and in the top 5 in 2009 because of the amount of botox, plastic surgery, and beauty products sold there. LDS women especially feel like they need to be the perfect mom, the perfect cook and homemaker, the perfect role model of excellence. Why shouldn’t this carry over into the area of perfect body?

I’m pretty sure every single woman struggles with her body image, no matter where she is on the scale of American’s standard of beauty. The plan for the media money-makers is to convince viewers that female worth is dependent upon appearance. We have to first recognize that we women are in a battle before we can start to defend ourselves from their lies: that beauty comes in one form, that it is attainable with enough money, time, and effort (whether in the gym, the mall, or on the operating table), and that women who don’t fit the ideal are doomed to be undesirable, unhappy, and unsuccessful.

I don’t want friends and family to read this and feel bad for me because I used to have a bad body-image. I really do feel good about myself and I do not have any health or eating issues—I weigh much more than I did in high school, so nobody freak out! But I am trying to address this very specific issue of how women feel about their bodies and be honest about how it has affected me, and I hope it gets some people thinking. Some women keep their feelings of inadequacy very deep inside, and some women talk about their disgust with certain parts of themselves freely. I just want to point out that there is another option: to redefine what beauty is entirely. I don’t mean that we should fall back to the cliche that beauty is not on the outside…. but that we should actually redefine physical beauty. I think all women should feel good about their outer and inner selves.

I want to talk about one more good example of our disillusioned thinking. Marilyn Monroe was the icon of the 50s at 5 feet 5 inches and 140 pounds. Her figure represents a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) of 23.1. In contrast, the sexiest woman alive today, ranked by men and women alike, is Angelina Jolie, at 5 feet 7 inches and close to 100 pounds, representing a 15.7 BMI. An 18.5 BMI and below is considered underweight. The standards that media (and that we ourselves) have set is to be underweight and unhealthy. We fool ourselves into thinking that thin is healthy, but we have pushed that standard to such an extreme that it is unattainable. Even other movie stars who are not as abnormally thin as Angelina still fall under the 18.5 BMI including Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Aniston and hundreds of others.

Our dissatisfaction with ourselves does not just come in the form of weight. Women feel inferior because of an endless list of things! Wrinkles, the shape of specific parts of their body from calves to fingers and toes to noses to ears, the length or color or thickness of their hair, their teeth, their smile lines, the bags under their eyes, their muscle or lack of it, their foot size, the shape of their face, the plumpness of their lips, their nails, the shade of their skin. There are endless ways to be nit-picky about your own body because no one knows it better than you. There are also many ways to counter this way of thinking:

1) When considering your health and weight-loss goals, base them on concrete measures of fitness and wellness, not on a desire to look a certain way or to fit into a certain size or to hit a number on a scale.

2) Consider the women presented in media and ask yourself if they are good role models, if their value is based on talents and personality, or if their worth is based solely on physical beauty.

3) Another important thing to do is to speak highly of your body and to teach children to do the same. Your daughters and family members will learn from you. Self-image can also be just as challenging for men and boys, just with different standards and expectations, so encouraging them is important too.

4) You can also remember that the image of beauty in media is strictly there for money-making purposes. If they can convince you that you are not the ideal beauty, they can convince you that you need their product.

5) Another thing you can do is to encourage other women and help them see their own real beauty. I like to think about how mankind’s perception of beauty has changed over the centuries and across the world. It has changed so many times! It is a concept that we create, it is not a rule that we abide by.

6) The magazine article encourages women to forget about expensive makeup and diet pills—the best way to improve your appearance is to have a little more light in your countenance! Service in any capacity fills us with love and light that radiate from within and draw people near. Sounds cheesy, but it’s really true. The happiest, most beautiful women are the ones who are always thinking of others. It really does enhance even their physical appearance and they are beautiful to all who know them.

I think this topic is not addressed often enough and not in enough detail. There is so much more to a woman that her hair, her cup size, her eye color, her pant size. And it is not just about looking past physical appearance, but learning to love our bodies as they are and rejecting the stereotypes that media want us to believe in.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Strange Dream

For someone who rarely remembers her dreams, it was pretty strange for me to wake up mid-dream this morning and to recall every detail of my dream last night. I had just finished a choir concert and was with Raimo heading home (on foot). It seemed totally real in my dream--the fact that I had just sung in a concert even though I am now graduated. We ran into Uncle Alan and Grandpa Eldridge, both wearing long wool pea coats. It seemed totally natural. Uncle Alan said, "Oh, I forgot you were singing up there tonight too," which meant they had gone to hear Berit sing. Grandpa Eldridge said nothing, but he smiled at me, and I felt reassured that he had been watching me. Then we were at my apartment, which looked nothing like our actual apartment. I offered Grandpa some grape juice, and he went to the cupboard and pulled out a container of fig newtons, which he opened and began to eat. He walked into the kitchen toward the sink as I tasted one of the fig newtons, which to my horror had an unusually hot and spicy filling. Grandpa discreetly threw his in the trash and took a sip of grape juice as I spit out my own nasty cookie. Shortly after, I turned around and Grandpa was walking out the door into the cold night. He didn't say goodbye, and I couldn't catch up with him. And he never said a word throughout the whole dream. When I woke up, it took a moment to realize he is not actually alive anymore. So, dream interpreters, what is the meaning of this?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Birthdays are fun

I had a great day yesterday. The nicest thing about birthdays is you get to choose everything and do whatever you want since it is your day. Or maybe my husband is just really nice to me:) Yesterday I wanted to use a Bath and Body gift card I got for Christmas. I got body wash, which I always run out of quickly, and hand soap because we haven't had any in a loong time. It's exciting to have awesome hand soap that smells like apple and foams up for you. Then my baby was feeling like a snack so I said I wanted a parmesan pretzel, so we got pretzels. Meanwhile, I was getting lots of phone calls from friends and family throughout the day, which is fun, especially when they sing to you over the phone. Then we went to see The Tourist at the movies. It was a fun movie and the scenery and costumes were so beautiful! Then I wanted to go to Olive Garden. So we did. And had their awesome salad and my favorite meal there: Seafood Alfredo. And I ate half of it so I could get my favorite dessert that I first tried in Italy and loved: tiramisu. I rarely get to eat it, so I savored every creamy bite. It was a very Italian day with that movie and food. Awesome. Then we rented Knight and Day, which made us laugh a lot. I thought it was great. During that, Parker, who I haven't seen in months, stopped by and gave me some pink birthday flowers, which is my favorite color. He is so excited for us about the baby. We visited for a while, watched the end of the movie, then he took off and we went to bed. And... I got the best night's sleep. Lately I have been waking up a lot during the night, but today I was able to sleep in and it felt awesome. It was unusual that BYU didn't start school yesterday. Very often my birthday falls on the first day of school-ew- but he didn't start till today. So yay--I had a fun day. I got some great gifts from my grandma and Raimo's family, and my parents' gift is on hold till I think of something I want because I can never think of anything I want so soon after Christmas. And the best thing is, Raimo and I celebrate birthday month. So pretty much it is my month and there is plenty of time to do fun things all month. Today I am getting my hair highlighted and cut. I haven't had it done since August!!! My hair is reaalllly long and really grown out on top. I love getting my hair done! Well, my baby is hungry again so I am going to eat that second half of pasta. Yay!

Oh, and this is the picture Raimo took of me when I found out I really was pregnant. It is not that great of a picture, but he pretty much captured it.