Monday, February 20, 2012

Not The Average Girl From Your Video

Title: Video
Artist: India.Arie

If you are a woman, especially a teenager, please listen to this song. Make these words your own.
If you are a man, please listen to this song. Help women believe the message in this song is acceptable, even beautiful. 

I've been watching a lot of movies lately. Angels in the Outfield, Brother Bear, Beauty and the Beast, etc... But the one I watched most recently has really stuck out to me. 

"My Sister's Keeper" based on the novel by Jodi Picoult. 

I've heard from a lot of different people that the movie strays from the book quite a bit. I know that makes some people really mad, but I haven't read the book yet for myself. So I really don't know. (For the record, I do own the book and its next on my to-read list)

Kate, a 15 year old girl, has been battling leukemia almost her whole life. The story goes through the struggles that tear her family apart, and how they are sometimes the exact same things that bring them closer together. I won't go into it more than that just in case some of you haven't seen or read it yet, but intend to do so. (I'd recommend it) 

There is a scene where Kate's mom, Sara (Camreon Diaz) decides to try and help Kate not feel so self-conscious about being bald.

I hated that scene. Because it made me cry ;) 
But honestly, it was a really odd feeling to watch that. By no means am I pretending to understand what it feels like to have a child with cancer or anything along those lines. But that one portion of that one scene, I almost felt connected to their battle in a way. When I saw this movie back when it came out in 2009, that scene probably didn't even phase me. Now, I can't exactly say that.

Brittny, Mom, Kira, Jenny, and Shelly i'm sure could relate.

Kristi too. She's usually the one behind the camera. (If you like her work, such as these two pictures, check out more HERE)

For those of you who don't know, back in November, a large portion of my family as well as some of the members of the Logan UT community shaved their heads as part of a fundraising effort for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. St. Baldrick's is an organization committed to researching and finding a cure for children's cancer. How it basically works is this:

A person decides they are willing to shave their head if a certain amount of money is raised. In order to generate the money, the shavee asks around neighbors, friends, businesses, etc for donations. 

For example, Dr. Robert Young and his medical practice, Rocky Mountain Dermatology, hosted the event. Dr Young said if $10,000 was raised, he would shave his head. Since the RMD/St Baldrick's event raised over $16,000 (setting a record for the state of UT), it's safe to say Dr Young was bald for a while :)

The inspiration for this whole thing was a 3 year old kid named Tyson. Tyson's mom is my mom's cousin. Last April he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Even though i've never actually met this little guy face to face, I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of this event in his honor. His mom keeps a blog of his battle, and if you ever feel like you need to be reminded what it is to feel human again, you can read it HERE.

Most of the time, Tyson is a normal little kid. He makes messes, plays video games, and hangs out with his brothers and sisters. 

But sometimes, Tyson doesn't get to be a normal little kid. 

Right now he has to take 10 pills every Thursday. 

Last night, he had to make a midnight platelet run to the "helicopter hospital" as he refers to it since there is a heli-pad outside the pediatric floor. 

Oh, and Tyson's dad, Brady - you can see him in the back there. Brady was stationed in Iraq when the diagnosis came back in April 2011. 

It is quite the interesting sentiment to watch a movie like My Sister's Keeper, reach up to my own head and feel the few inches of hair that have grown back since November, and then remember that there are real people, real families, who have to go through this stuff every day of their lives. Families like Tyson's. And it just makes me wonder how many more kids, how many more families will have to fight this fight of childhood cancer before we can finally find a cure. 

Here's to hoping, praying, and head-shaving-fundraising that the number is a big fat zero sooner than later.

Also, if you or anyone you know may be struggling with the hair-loss effects of chemo, I invite you to listen to this song. It played for about a month straight after I shaved my head ;)

I Am Not My Hair feat. P!nk - India.Arie

This is a video from when I was on the talk show at my college, Southern Utah University, for the St Baldrick's event.

This is a video that my cousin put together. Be aware, you may need a tissue :)

"Some days there won't be a song in your heart.  Sing anyway."  ~Emory Austin

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Within My Heart A Welcome Guest

Today's title comes from the hymn Abide with Me; 'Tis Eventide.

Whatever you are doing right now, STOP.

Look around you.

Think of five things that you can currently see/feel/hear/etc... that you are grateful for.

Here are my 5.

1 - A computer to type this on.
2 - Fingers and hands that function properly.
3 - My LTC bracelet.
4 - The music playing on my phone.
5 - This super comfortable couch i'm sitting on.

That wasn't too hard. 5 really isn't that many once you get going. I could have probably written at least a few dozen more off the top of my head, just by noticing what is around me right in this moment. And I bet you could too. How about eyes to see this screen? Or a mind that allows me to press these buttons and make words? I'm happy to have all these things.

The cool thing about being happy, is it gives you a lot to be grateful for. And when you are full of gratitude, you are usually happier because you realize how much you already have. So really I could have said, "Think of five things that make you happy" and you could probably list some of the same things.

That doesn't mean I can only be grateful when i'm happy. Maybe I got a paper cut; that definitely doesn't make me happy. But I can be grateful that it was a paper cut instead of a machete and I didn't bleed to death. And then i'm happy that i'm still alive. So maybe gratitude can bring forth happiness?

I've had a lot of time to think lately. And the idea of 'happiness' has been on my mind since I work at "The Happiest Place on Earth". What does that word even mean, happy? Is happiness the same for everyone? What makes me happy? Am I currently happy? If not, why? Sometimes I think my mind is its own 4 year old, asking questions ALL the time. And sometimes I think it's pointless to spend so much time thinking about random stuff like this. But nevertheless, happiness has been the topic of ponderance as of late. And here's what i've come up with.

You are exactly as happy as you make your mind up to be.

If I really, really want to be happy, i'll find things that make me happy. But if I have a sour attitude and think the world sucks, i'm going to seek out the things that make that idea true. It's called the confirmation bias in research and statistics. We have a tendency to latch onto the things that coincide with our ideal and brush away the things that disprove or disagree with it.

*Side note, I think this is a huge part of eating disorders and self-esteem issues. If a teenage girl thinks she is fat, she will ONLY notice the things that confirm this, but she'll shun any comments or facts that suggest otherwise. But that theory is for another time.*

SO, what i'm saying is this. I, as most people do, want to be happy. And I want to figure out what will help me gain that happiness. But when it comes down to it, it's all up to me. A mickey mouse shaped ice cream can't MAKE me happy. It can help. It can influence. It can bring about happy thoughts. But it  is up to me to DECIDE if i'm going to be happy or not. Truly, truly happy.

Lately, i've noticed that the more I realize the astounding quantity and quality of things I am grateful for, the easier it is to let myself be happy. How can I be in a bad mood when I sit down and realize that God gave me a respiratory system that keeps me breathing without me even having to think about it? My lungs are literally helping keep me alive and I don't even notice them most of the time. Or how about the sun? The sun is amazing! It brings beauty when it rises and sets, light and warmth during the day, helps nature grow, makes biological life processes possible, etc... And those are just physical things. I won't even get into what a miracle and a blessing Grace is, or how I truly stand all amazed when I think of what Jesus Christ went through for me and what it allows. All in all, when I understand how much i've been given, i'm completely overwhelmed with gratitude. And guess what follow soon thereafter? Happiness :)

I don't know if there is really a "secret" to life, but I think gratitude is at least a hint.

PS: Totally unrelated side note - It's Abraham Lincoln's birthday today! 203 years. He was an incredible man, whose picture is currently hanging on my wall. If any of you were wondering "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" at the Opera House is my favorite part of Disneyland. Nerd status, I know. But he's just that great :)

"All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln