Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Boobs

I'm such a people-watcher. Joining 24-Hour Fitness just added to my people-watching opportunities. I'm pretty amazed at the many different personalities I've found in such a small space.

Today, for instance, there was a woman with a strangely unproportioned body. She had a very large chest, no backside to balance her extremely large chest, and she wore a tiny tank top that could barely contain her "stuff". She seemed petite enough except for her chest. Her skin was so white, in stark contrast to her black tank top. She had jet black hair and her left arm and shoulder covered with a red and yellow tattoo. I only observed her so closely because she was just ahead of me in the circuit training area.

What was funny is how the men/boys in the club behaved once they caught a view of her breasts pouring out of her tank top. Once she knew the guys were looking, she began to bend over more often, boobs pouring out. The guys -- ogling her chest. Some without restraint, just out and out staring and some would take quick glances.

I wonder what it is about BOOBS that mesmerizes men/boys. I wonder, if a man is staring at the boobs, does he want it to drop out so he can get a full view of the entire breast, nipples and all? Is the cleavage line enough? Does he just like seeing the flesh of a woman in that area?

Anyway, there was a specific group of guys that migrated toward her. They pretended to work out but stared at the BOOB the whole time. There was a couple of guys on the eliptical machine that were doing the glance-thing. A part of me found it hilarious that men/boys could be so distracted by body parts. The other part of me, the larger part, found the whole scene to be disturbing.

And I'm not quite sure which was more annoying -- the fact that she knew they were staring and lasciviously began changing her behavior or that the men/boys were mesmerized by the fleshy, chest stuff. But who cares? This is just an observation by a conservative woman, who wasn't always this conservative.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Review of Sorts

The very large topic of the subjugation of women has laid heavy on my mind for two simple reasons. The first reason - I just finished reading the book by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns. If you have plans of reading the book, stop reading this post now, as I may unravel details or the ending in a manner that might taint how you interpret the book.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, such a poetic title. So poetic, in fact, that at first glance I knew it wasn't a romance and that the title was satirical. It did, however, end up being about love. About unconditional, real love between friends and family. In relation to the subjugation of women, the story explicitly tells the tale of the Taliban and their treacherous domination over its citizens. To illustrate the topic, the book covers several forms of oppressive behavior. Physical and mental abuse, extreme poverty, near deification of natural-born sons rather than daughters, rape, murder, etc. The book was written beautifully, weaving in several historical events as well as places and classic Afghan literature.

The book left me heartbroken for Mariam, one of the key characters. In the closing chapters of the book, to defend herself and save the life of her fellow concubine, Laila, Mariam hits their abusive husband over the head until he dies. Mariam, wracked with guilt over her murderous act and wanting so very much to see that Laila's children live long lives and to see Laila be reunited with her true love, submits to the Taliban legal system. She gives herself as a sacrifice to allow the dreams of another to flourish. Triumphantly, she is put to death in the center of town, with a crowd both in awe and amazement at the courage that Mariam faced death with.


Reason #2 for this diatribe into the subjugation of women - I viewed the movie, Lilya 4-Ever. If you have plans of watching Lilya 4-Ever, stop reading this post now, as I will probably give away the entire movie here.

Lilya 4-Ever is a gem I found on Netflix. Sidebar: Netflix has a great selection of foreign films. I love love love foreign films because of the heavy topics they cover. The ones that I've selected, so far, have been gripping tales of the human condition. Anyway, Lilya 4-Ever is set in Estonia (once a part of the USSR). It is the tale of a 16-year old girl, Lilya, totally abandoned by her mother who up and moves to America. She is left to fend for herself and eventually turns to prostitution as a means of supporting herself and her little companion, Volodya - a boy abandoned by his parents. The graphic portrayal of how her life is lived, men penetrating her and grunting on top of her, broke my heart with the realization that this happens every day and has happened all throughout the history of the world.

Lilya falls prey to a handsome Russian, Sergei, who pretends to fall in love with her. He sends her to Sweden with the false promise of a better life and feigns to meet her there in two days time. With all her hopes and dreams for a better life fully intact and a newfound interest in living, Lilya leaves for Sweden. Overcome by despair and sadness because Lilya left him, Volodya ends his life. Sergei never shows and has sent Lilya directly into the hands of a small-time pimp. She is locked up in a single room and is only allowed to leave when the pimp has found her a "john". It seems she lives that way for weeks.

The apex comes when Volodya appears to Lilya as an angel and tells her that the door was left unlocked and she is free to go. She runs, without a clue on where to go, without a destination, utterly and totally WITHOUT hope. In the final moments of the film, Lilya climbs atop a highway over pass. Volodya is screaming at her not to do what he did -- to live life on her terms. Lilya, stuck in the violence called 'her life', jumps to her death.

The one unifying factor, in these two very extreme circumstances: THERE IS NO ESCAPE EXCEPT THROUGH DEATH. Bittersweet! Tragic! Triumphant, almost.

After experiencing the book then the movie, in succession, I realize how the world is in need of the healing powers of love. Women are charged with the task of being compassionate and forgiving and of teaching the world those special qualities. Though we are abused, though we are run into the ground with difficult choices, though we are subjected to burdensome loads; even through the drama of life, women will always triumph over the oppressor.


**Photo Credit for Thousand Splendid Suns
**Photo Credit for Lilya 4-Ever

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Rambling

Today is the first day in three years that I went to work by myself. Usually, husband was in tow because he was a student at the University that I work for. But he will be graduating in June so he is now working as an intern in the concrete jungles of Honolulu for the MADD organization.

I'm jonesing to hear his voice and to know that his office is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. **heavy sigh** But he's all the way in Honolulu. This morning, I felt kind of sad as I dropped him off at TheBus Stop just because we have spent all our days together for the last three years. (I'm thinking of using TheBus also just so I don't have to drive alone.)

Anyway, I guess I'll be alright. This makes me want to open my own business... so bad! Something that he and I can do together. We're sifting through idea's right now. There are several avenues to look into.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Words of Encouragement

If you haven't done it yet, do it now! Forgive yourself for all the crazy things you think you've done and let it go.

If there is regret in your soul, let it go. Let it go now! We are each on a path that is uniquely our own. No one else can live it. No one else can overcome and move forward as you do under the circumstances that you find yourself in. This is your life. Each choice you make is yours to make and only yours. You will live the consequences and you will reap the blessings. This journey is yours alone to decide to be great or just average.

Your potential for greatness is unlimited. The opportunities to learn, grow, and serve the world are as numerous as the sands of the sea. Every day, every person you come in contact with is sent especially to you for some great purpose. This life, this world is not an accident; not some random act of nature but an exact expression of God's greatness. You, me, and everyone in the world was carved in his image and have all of eternity to grow into the divine heritage from which we came. Remember that forever is in every moment.

Greatness does not necessarily mean you need to be approved of by the world. Greatness does not come in large displays of integrity, but in the silent moments when no one is looking. Greatness begins by living a courageous life, by doing good things, by being kind and compassionate, by keeping committments and promises; by making and keeping sacred covenants with God and self. Greatness is, at its core, a continuous expression of gratitude to the living Creator.

If there is love inside your heart, give it away every day! The only real and enduring peace comes from believing in love and giving it away at every opportunity. Many times in life, we expect to be on the receiving end of love and yet give nothing to the universe to deserve it. Love yourself. Love everything around you. This, above all, is the greatest gift you could give to a supreme creator -- to love all of his creations as he would!

Remember that inside of you is a goddess in embryo. And that goddess is made of compassion and unconditional love NOT judgement. She embraces you with every heartache you experience. So stop living so much in your head and allow the goddess inside of you to love you back to perfection.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How I Followed My Heart

There was no big "to-do", no white dress or tuxedo. There was no romantic music playing in the background or poetry readings to signify the occasion. In fact, it was just me and him, and a judge.

The day was cold, St. Louis cold! That's where I was living, Missouri, when we decided to tie the knot. HE had talked about it for weeks. He had asked me a dozen times to marry him. I blew him off every single time. I didn't know that I'd marry him until the second I said the words. "I Do!"

Up until that point, that very second, all I knew was unrequited love; a longing deep down in my soul to feel true love. Both our lives were full of confusion and yet he knew he wanted to marry me and I knew I didn't want to be unspoken for. Yet the truth is, I wanted to marry him too not just because I didn't want to be alone but because I knew he was a good man. There would be no logic to support my decision to marry him.

I joke that the ink had not quite dried on the final decree of my divorce from my ex-husband and I was marrying again, yet it was the truth. My ex and I signed divorce papers in April. By November of the same year I had already remarried. What would my parents say about the whole thing? What would my family think? Would they think that I had operated as an adulterer for all those years that I was separated from my ex-husband? What a tangled web it was so I decided that our marriage would be a secret. Yet, as Polynesian families go, there are NEVER any secrets!

News spread like wildfire within minutes of our nuptials. I don't even know how my parents found out but my phone began ringing off the hook. I can't begin to imagine what my family thought. Yet the truth is, we met just five days after my ex-husband left me. Spent time for two months. He got shipped off to Fort Riley, Kansas and we had no plans to pursue the romance any further. I moved to St. Louis, feeling so heart-broken in so many ways. He drove out to see me and we felt like we had when we met. Like everything was just so right. We both followed our hearts and we married. We're still married. Sealed together for time and all eternity to love each other in EVERY lifetime!

I don't know if I've ever told the story here; about how we ended up in front of a judge in a small suburb in Illinois; or how I followed my heart, as I always do, and how it has made all the difference today! Babe, thank you for loving me!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Searching

I am in need of a muse.

My days seem to be monotonously running from one to the next without incident. When did I sign up for this life? I don't know when things started to change into this "Matrix-esque" simulated reality where every day is the same but it wears me down.

It used to be that I could never be in the same place for six months. I'd work to finance a grand vacation somewhere. Cross-country road trip. Road trip to Key West, Florida. Dream vacation to Europe. Cancun, Mexico. Atlanta for a week. New York for the weekend. San Francisco shopping trip. **heavy sigh** Where did that freedom go?

I feel so chained to my job sometimes even though I absolutely adore every, single one of my Student-Workers. They are all so different and yet so indicative of the hope of the rising generation. I believe in them. I believe that they have the power to lead the world back to LOVE -- unconditional love! I just feel like I've reached a stand-still at my job.

Lord knows, I would rather be working on my many novels or traveling or learning yoga in India. Or learning about the Buddha at a Buddhist monastery. Perhaps I could be in Alaska witnessing Aurora Borealis or in Macchu Picchu. But here I am, exactly where the Universe(God) has placed me for a time, a season, and a purpose. May I fulfill whatever that purpose is.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunday Sermon

About a year out of high school, I was raped by the room mate of my boyfriend at the time (boyfriend became my first husband). Many women who experience that type of trauma never make it out of their psychological/ emotional/ spiritual prisons. I am grateful to have made it out of mine.

Many Christians are familiar with this passage in the Holy Bible:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? til seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

-St Matthew 18: 21-22
Immediately following that passage, Jesus goes on to tell the Parable of Forgiveness and Compassion. A master chooses to sell off his servant, whom owed a great deal of money to his master. The servant pleads for forgiveness and promises to pay his debt in full. The master is filled with compassion and forgives the debt.

The same servant went to a fellowservant that owed him money and demanded payment. The fellowservant had no means to pay him and the servant had him jailed until such debt was fulfilled. When their peers saw what was done, they went back to their master to tell all that had transpired.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me;
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

-St Matthew 18:32-35

I reported the incident to the police and was quickly referred to a detective in Honolulu. He took a full statement, sent me to Kapi'olani Women and Children Center for a full battery of tests. Within several weeks, my case was sent to a grand jury. The Grand Jury and the Honorable Judge James R. Aiona (current Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii) determined that there was enough evidence to prosecute my offender. The anger, the turmoil in my soul was overwhelming. I endured this part of my life alone, in the deserts of New Mexico where I lived for a short stint. One enters extreme spiritual darkness when the focus of your grief is "why me". With this victim attitude, the State of Hawaii subpoenaed me and I was to testify against my offfender. I returned to O'ahu with the express intent of putting my offender into the same bleak wasteland as I was experiencing. This attitude was evident in my sworn testimony on the stand. I cried. I yelled. I expressed my anguish in front of my offender, the Judge, and the 12-person jury.

The jury returned, hung, nine of them finding him guilty. Three, not guilty. This shocking turn of events sent me back into a wretched awfulness. I spiraled into a constant state of victim. My life was void of joy and I felt utterly helpless in my unpleasant journey. Within several months, I would find myself back in the court room. The State Prosecutor, it seemed, wanted so much to see my offender be punished for his crime against me. He retried the case in front of a different set of jurors.

An amazing thing happened between the first trial and the second trial. The Young Adult program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints happened to me. Prodding me ever so gently into the light, my brother assisted me into full activity in the Mormon church. Through the healing powers of Jesus Christ, my heart was softened. I grieved. I mourned the passing of innocense and I cast all my burdens onto the willing shoulders of the Savior.

When the second trial commenced, the spiritual prison from which I emerged was just a memory, and my testimony on the witness stand had changed considerably. Gone was my angered outbursts and bouts of tears. All I felt was a complete and overwhelming desire to forgive the man who had offended me. While on the witness stand, I looked him in his eyes and forgave the offender.

Forgiveness is not for the one who has offended. Forgiving my offender was all about me unburdening myself from the hate that was sure to consume me. Overcoming that dark time in my life was finalized by my ability to forgive him his debt against me. Though my offender was not repentant of his misgivings, one day he will be. When that day comes and he is filled with great sorrow, he will remember my unconditional act of forgiveness and maybe he will be able to apply that into his own life. In the second trial, a jury of my peers set my offender free. He was found not guilty and I'm okay with that.

Having had to experience this trial required me to dig really deep into my soul and to find a peaceful place to allow the healing powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to work through me. I'm glad that I had risen to the task. I am grateful that the Lord deemed me worthy to endure such awful gloom and rise above it.
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

-Doctrine and Covenants 122:7

Friday, April 03, 2009

TAGGED: My Top 10 "S" Words

1. SUPERSTAR.... Remember the movie Superstar? Pictured to the right is my dear sister Michele (pronounced Mi-sha-lay), may she Rest In Eternal Love. We saw this movie together and it will always remind me of her. I think it was her personality. She loved everybody and they all loved her back. She was the energy that you always wanted to be around. She made everything ALL BETTER. I miss having her around but I don't think I'd be where I am now if she were. Isn't that funny? She taught me how to love myself, to accept myself as I am. I met her in the seventh grade and we were friends until her passing in February 2001.

2. SMART... I was always a smart girl in school. Ever since I set foot into a classroom -- I blew my teachers away. I'm not exaggerating at all. It's funny to read my old report cards and all the things my teachers had to say about me. The funny thing is that I did so well in academics but my attitude sucked! I don't know if they still grade children on how they behave. What I do know is that I was a little terror to my teachers!

3. SPONTANEOUS... This word is a favorite. Why? One of the craziest things I have ever done in my life is get on a plane, fly to Oakland, California with nothing but a suitcase and $300 dollars. That's it. That's all. I made my way from Oakland, down the California coast to Los Angeles. From there, I caught the grayhound to New Mexico and stayed there for awhile. It was such an adventure. One of these days I will post some entries from that time in my life. I think I wrote in my journal the entire bus ride. It amazes me how much adventure I have enjoyed.

4. STUNNING... We were in Cancun Mexico when we took this picture. Red was my favorite colour at the time. Husband looked so delicious in his suit and I felt like a diamond on his arm. Would you believe that my dress was bought at Ross for $13. It fit like a glove; like whoever made it, made it just for me! Someone said I looked STUNNING that evening and it has become a favorite word ever since.

5. SPARROW... reminds me of the first gospel song I had ever learned: His Eye Is On The Sparrow. What the song means for me is that God is always looking out for me. I need not fear. I know he is always interested in my life and takes great pleasure in watching me make correct decisions.

6. STRONG... I am a strong girl; physically, mentally, spiritually. I thank my mother and the women that came before for this trait. My mother has beat cancer. She has had five strokes and can still function without too much assistance. I am amazed at the strength of her will power. If God would just grant me a fraction of her will, I think it would be enough to last me a lifetime. My mothers mother was also an image of strength. She managed to bare and raise 17 children. I am amazed at how "fertile" she was and the strength she must have had to put food in the mouths of every child and to raise them to be upright people. Wow!!


7. SLIPPA... pronounced just as it is spelt. Who could ever manage living in Hawai'i without the Rubba Slippa? I just couldn't do without it and whoever created it should be crowned! They call it flip flops outside of Hawai'i but here -- we all know what it is and where it belongs... outside the front door! This would also be the reason for my extremely wide feet.

8. SMILE... Someone said that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Smiling is such a priceless gift. It changes the way a person behaves. When you smile on the phone, the person on the other end can tell that you are smiling. One of my favorite songs we used to sing in Primary went like this:
If you chance to meet a frown
Do not let it stay
Quickly turn it upside down
And smile that frown away

No one likes a frowning face
Change it to a smile
Make the world a better place
By smiling all the while


9. STAR... Of all the things in the sky that I love to look at, it would have to be stars. As a young woman, at camp, a bunch of us would lay out on the grass and look up at the stars and discuss all the usual teenage stuff. Crushes, Love, Kissing, school, etc. We could look at the stars for hours and hours. They are so beautiful. Even now, in my 33rd year of life, I thoroughly enjoy star gazing. The universe is so perfect and so utterly beautiful and eternal; ever growing, ever expanding; ever evolving!

10. SAVIOR... One who saves, preserves, or delivers from destruction or danger.