Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Saved Me

Artist Cassandra Barney is working on a project called "What Saved Me," based on submissions from blog readers. This is my submission. 

Yes, he's wearing a grape soda pin from the movie "Up"

e.e. cummings once wrote, "We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit." 

I did not believe in myself until my husband believed in me. 

I grew up a shy and introverted girl. I struggled with self-esteem throughout high school and my first few years of college. I felt that I was never talented enough, pretty enough, smart enough. People told me that they thought I was amazing, but I never really believed them. I was convinced that I would never measure up, and that I would have to get used to living a life of mediocrity. 

But when I began dating Brandon, things started to change. He never gave me eloquent compliments, but quietly and sincerely showed that he loved me. He was always gentle and considerate with me. He expressed appreciation for my virtues and my morals. He recognized my strengths and told me how they had blessed his life. He told me I was beautiful, not just because of how I looked, but mostly because of who I was. He served me, and thereby showed me that he adored me. Day by day, he encouraged me and uplifted me. 

Slowly, gradually, his love changed me and helped me to believe in myself. Because I had someone that honored me, I learned to honor myself. He saw me as my Heavenly Father saw me, and helped me to focus on my divine gifts instead of my natural weaknesses. One day, I realized that I did not struggle with my self-worth anymore. I had truly learned to love myself, because of the love that Brandon had for me. That selfless, Christlike love has helped me to be happier and better than I've ever been before. I am grateful for this wonderful man who helped me discover my self-worth. My husband's love is what saved me from living in ignorance of my divinity. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Women are Heroes.

Have you ever heard of French street artist JR? I hadn't until Tuesday. He is fantastic. 

My friend Christine just wrote a post that explains him very well. Basically, he didn't like how the news portrayed women as uncontrollable emotional wrecks, so he set out to photograph them himself and show who they really are. 

The result is powerful and stunning. 

Way to go, JR. I'm a fan.

Friday, April 15, 2011

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso

Love this artist, love this video.

My favorite Kershisnik painting - "Nativity"

Hope this artist and his work wash the dust away from your busy week. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jesús De La Helguera is not my favorite artist, to say the least.

For the last day of our Northern Mesoamerican Art class (that's ancient Mexico, if you didn't know) on Tuesday, we looked at some modern Mexican depictions of the Aztecs. The most popular at the artists whose work we looked at was Jesús De La Helguera. As we viewed some of his paintings (shown below), the girl behind me whispered, "ooh, I like these! These are nice." I was disgusted at the objectification of women in these images and at the fact that members of my own sex were so used to seeing women in this light that they had been desensitized to it.

Jesús De La Helguera, "Legend of the Volcano"

Jesús De La Helguera, "Flor de Luna" In my opinion, the very worst one!

Jesús De La Helguera, "La Malinche"

Jesús De La Helguera, "El Flechador"

Jesús De La Helguera, "Grandeza Azteca"

And almost all of his paintings depict women in this way - helpless, flimsy, overly sexual creatures whose only purpose is to please the super-buff men they are attached to. This is not what women are; this is not what God made us to me.

Then the Professor showed us a Minerva Teichert painting similar to the one below:

Minerva Teichert, "Christ Blessing The Children At The Bountiful"

...and the girl behind me groaned in disgust. "Ugh, I hate Minerva Teichert!"

Some consider Minerva Teichert to be over-hyped, but I love her depictions of noble, virtuous, Godly women.

Minerva Teichert, "Esther."A copy of this hangs in the women'sdressing room at the San Diego Temple.
Minerva Teichert, "Mary and Martha"

These are the women I look up to - not the fantasized women Jesús De La Helguera paints.

Another reason why I don't like Helguera's art is because of his unrealistic body types. My first impression on seeing his paintings was, "Am I supposed to be that thin? Wow, I feel so fat!" On closer observation, I realized that his female figures are unnaturally, unhealthily skinny.Why is our culture so obsessed with equating beauty and thinness with worth?

Women, your worth is not based on your appearance. You have worth merely because you are a daughter of God. You have power and influence for good not by being a sex symbol, but by following Jesus Christ and using your gifts to bless those around you. You are so much more than a pretty face. 

I believe that actions speak louder than words - and images. My hope is that as we live virtuous lives, we can show people that true beauty comes from having character, and the true messages of the Gospel can drown out the false messages of a visual culture that objectifies women.

"True beauty can’t be painted on but is a gift of the Spirit. It is literally letting your light shine before men. When virtue is combined with obedience to the Lord’s laws of health and respect for the human body, young people truly become temples in which the Holy Ghost dwells, giving them a beautiful aura. It is this beauty that is most becoming and enduring." 
-Lynn G. Robbins, "True Beauty"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Overheard at the Moons'

Last night, as I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep, I had this conversation with my husband:

Brandon: "Hey, I just remembered this great YouTube video that you should watch."
Tasha: "Is it chocolate-cake-great or Rebecca-Black-great?"
Brandon: "Well, it's more of a chocolate-cake-in-the-shape-of-Rebecca-Black's-head-great, because it's ridiculous on purpose."

If anyone finds a cake mold in the shape of Rebecca Black's head, please let me know.

Friday, April 8, 2011

He Lifts My Burdens

I'll admit it - I'm stressed.

I kinda checked out of this semester back in February when I got married. I'm so close to being finished, and yet so far. I just want to be done so badly.

And if you know me well, you'll know that the first thing I do when I am sad, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, or without hope is to turn to one of these.

I add my testimony that Christ truly does carry our burdens if we come unto Him. He has helped others through challenges so much worse than this (watch this video for a beautiful example).

God is so very, very good. He gives me hope when no one else can.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Simple Gifts

Image found here.

Today I baked bread and did yoga. I forgot how good these things feel. 

It was so delicious to knead the dough with my hands, to stretch my legs and my back, to hold my bare feet. I felt so connected to my body and the earth.  It was so wonderful to lay on the floor and just be still. I don't think we do that nearly enough. 

A wise man once wrote these words as lyrics to a beautiful Shaker hymn:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'Tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of truth and delight

When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend, we'll not be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Til by turning, turning we'll come 'round right

I believe that bowing and bending are liberating, both physically and spiritually. Physically, it loosens our muscles, making our bodies stronger and more flexible. Spiritually, it helps us let go of our pride and let God enter into our hearts and our lives. In both cases, it brings happiness and helps us to "come round 'right." 

How grateful I am for the simple blessings in my life!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Season of Joy

On my wedding day - pure joy.

I feel that God has given me this time in my life as a season of joy and rest. I still have challenges - including 10-page papers and trying keeping the dishes clean while working 4 nights a week - but I also have deeper joy and satisfaction than ever before.

Marriage is so wonderful. I love living with my best friend, sharing my meals and my messes and my laundry with him. I love reading the scriptures with him each night, praying with him multiple times each day, and seeing his sweet face when I wake up each morning. He makes me laugh, serves me, and tells me that he loves me every single day. He is so good at serving me and lifting me up when I fall. He allows me to be my best self. Marrying Brandon is the best decision I ever made.

Marriage has also helped me to refocus on what truly matters most. When you form an eternal family, you realize that so many things are temporary and worthless. We live a slower, simpler life these days, putting our efforts into strengthening our relationships with each other, our families, and our God. We have learned to value people over possessions, and have discovered that, as Ben Behunin put it, "Joy, in all its glory, can only be obtained through unselfishness."

by artist Ben Behunin

And while, of course, I have been abundantly blessed, I believe that this truth is the key to my happiness. I found that the more I serve my husband, the more I serve in the temple, and the more I forget myself in working to center my life on Christ, the more joy I have. And let me tell you, it has been glorious indeed.

I wish that everyone could find the happiness that I have - but that is not up to me. You each have to find it for yourselves. I would recommend that you start by reading some of the talks from this past weekend's General Conference, picking up a copy of Remembering Isaac (a book that changed my heart and my life), and then getting to work! There are so many in this world who need your goodness, your talents, and your love. You cannot imagine the blessings that God has waiting for you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

O Thou that art the Light

Photo by my sister-in-law, Melinda.
Today started off horribly. I woke up late with a long to-do list nagging me from the back of my mind. 15 minutes later the repairman came, ruining my plans for showering and breakfast. I was mean to my husband and we were both very grouchy when he dropped me off for school. By 10:30 in the morning, my day seemed destined to be a disaster. I walked into my choir class brooding and downtrodden.

But there is something healing about singing. 

Sometimes I let myself forget the meaning of the hymns that I sing in Sacrament Meeting and go only mouthing the words without worshiping God like I really should. I'm grateful to be part of a choir that meets during the week and helps me to connect with God through song. 

As usual, when the rehearsal started, I was wrapped up in the pity-party being thrown in my head, thinking about how dreary my day was and how much more dreariness I had to slug through before I could crawl into bed. I read the following words in my music, and they basically slapped me in the face.

O thou that art the Light 
of the minds that know thee,
the Life of the souls that love thee,
and the Strength of the wills that serve thee:
help us to know thee that truly love thee, 
and so to love thee that we might fully serve thee,
whom to serve is perfect freedom, 
-Music by Gabriel Jackson, Text by St. Augustine of Hippo

This piece reminded me that the Lord has given me everything I have - my family, my education, my talents, my body, my life, my breath - and that I should not be complaining but rejoicing in my blessings and serving Him whom I love so dearly. I love how King Benjamin explains this concept in Mosiah 2:

"I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants....
"And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.  And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?  And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you."

Even though I am an "unprofitable servant" and a bit of a stinker sometimes, Christ still loves me. He is my Light, my Life, my Strength, my joy, my reason to rejoice. I strive to serve Him not because I think I can ever repay Him, but because I love Him and I have found that serving Him brings me perfect joy, and perfect freedom. The Atonement is incredible. Praise be to His name!