Month: February 2011

Why I Like a Movie?

My regular readers will notice the similarity of this post to one I did a few weeks ago on reading entitled- Why I Like a Book?.  In it, I ask the question- Am I a soft reader?  I must say I thought it was one of my best posts and it inspired some interesting discussion; however, it did not completely put my mind at rest.

Perhaps mistakenly, I like to think of myself as a smart person- even as an intellectual.  Despite my fondness for television and fast food, I also aspire to higher, loftier places.  For example, rather than simply reading I get great pleasure from discussing literature with my friends and digging deeper into texts.

It is the same for other sources of entertainment- particularly movies.  My parents taught me to analyze everything.  To look at a movie and comment on the socio-economic conditions, values presented or implied, even the cinematography and acting.

I can recall many times getting into somewhat animated conversations especially with my brother about the virtues of one book or movie over another.  In my family I’ve always felt comfortable talking about anything and expressing my opinion about everything.

That said- Do you ever want to be a particular type of person but you just aren’t?  I think deep down inside I want to be a hipster intellectual who enjoys independent movies; however, I am learning every day that I am more of a blockbuster fan than I’d care to admit.

At BYU they had an international cinema which was free with films from all over the world.  Even then, it was the type of thing that I wanted to like.  I’m not really sure why but there seems something better about a person who likes international cinema- something brighter, more thoughtful?

I went over and over again and left each time bored out of my mind and disappointed.   I can’t think of a single one I enjoyed or felt emotional about, not one (and its not the subtitles that bothers me. I can’t even remember any titles- that’s how unimpressed I was).  Since graduation I have tried repeatedly to like other supposedly ‘thoughtful’ movies, and I very rarely do.  Another one that my brother loves which I thought was a snooze-fest is Days of Heaven.  I admit the photography is beautiful but the story is obvious and pedestrian.  After about an hour of watching wheat in the wind and listening to people complaining I was done…Sadly there was another hour left!

I suppose there are movies like Juno, Slumdog Millionaire and 500 Days of Summer (all films I adore)  that might be considered ‘independent’ but each still has a certain box office appeal.

The reason I started thinking about this is tonight I watched The Blind Side- an incredibly popular movie starring Sandra Bullock as Leigh Ann Tuohy, a Memphis mother who along with her husband and family, invite a homeless african-american boy into their home, and eventually adopt him.  The boy turns out to be Michael Oher, all-star offensive tackle in the NFL.

It is an inspiring movie about the ability of family and love to rescue souls.  Some have criticized the film as being racist, as another ‘white people saving the poor black boy movie’;  however, I’ve seen interviews with both Michael and Leigh Ann and they are clear that Michael’s race had nothing to do with their offer of love.  They saw an opportunity to rescue a needy soul and they took it.

Clearly The Blind Side has its fans- millions were made at the box office and Bullock won an oscar for her performance.  However, there is a whole crew of people who scoff at such a movie.  In fact, A.O Scott, film critic for the New York Times, said as a point of critique, that it sheds “nuance and complication in favor of maximum uplift.”  This is a bad thing? How is ‘maximum uplift’ a bad thing?

Am I stupid? Am I duped by the dramatic music and the ‘based on a true story’ tagline?  I don’t know?  Maybe? I wish I could help it, but no matter how ‘intelligent’ I try to be, I still respond positively to The Blind Side and negatively to those scores of international films that Mr.  Scott would probably think are brilliant. Recently I watched the supposed indie classic Dinner with Andre, and I about died of boredom.  It’s seriously two people talking about nothing for over two hours! Kill me now!

I am not saying that every movie has to be roses and cupcakes or even end happily.  Some didn’t like 500 Days of Summer because of its ending, but I thought it was perfect.  As mentioned before, I love Slumdog Millionaire- a film where children are treated terribly, horrible poverty is exposed, and gang violence pervades.

Why did Slumdog work for me?  Because the characters at the heart of the story are good people who I wanted to see succeed.  I got caught up in their romance.  I wanted them to be happy.  In this case, the ending was triumphant enough for the grim beginning. In fact, it made the difficulties experienced all the more meaningful because of the greater triumph they add to the characters.  In Slumdog you really feel like you grow up with the two characters and become immersed in their struggles.  It’s a great movie. (Not to mention the script, cinematography, acting and music are all sumptuously wonderful)

I am even willing to like a movie that’s a little bit different such as Where the Wild Things Are- a very divisive movie.  You either love it or hate it.  I thought it was brilliant and captured the essence of childhood perfectly.  I can’t think of another film that portrays the way I thought as a child.  When you’re little you take everything for granted and yet you want everything changed- and you, want to do all the changing.  You also see the world through a unique lens that doesn’t make sense to the grown ups around you.  Have you ever seen a child throw their hands in the air in frustration trying to explain a problem or tell a story to an adult?  This movie gets that aspect of childhood just right.

Like the little boy in the movie, I also thought I could be queen of the world as a child- I wanted to do everything on my own, in my own way.  I’d like to think I’ve carried some of that spunk into adulthood? Where the Wild Things Are also captures a child’s ability to ask questions about everything.  The boy, Max, accepts his new world, but he constantly asksquestions of the wild things.   It’s a unique movie, but it is also one of my favorites. ( I have to add my nephew used to look and sound just like the little boy in the movie! He’s 14 now, so not so little.)

In the end, I believe people deep-down inside are good.  Of course, life and sin can tear away at their dreams and values, but I still feel people start out good, innocent and full of potential.  Modern skeptics would hold otherwise, and so movies that I respond to come off as sentimental or silly.  Oh well!  I tried for years to like their stuffed shirt flicks and it isn’t worth it. Give me a weepy biopic or a sentimental romance any day over a cynical portrayal of urban life. Btw, I spent time in urban areas on my mission, and saw a lot more good than evil and more things to feel hopeful about then despairing.

I also believe in the power of redemption.  No matter how bleak it may seem we all have the power to change our lives- no one is a lost cause. It can be as simple as a character that learns to love another person, which is why I’ve always loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and Audrey Hepburn is a goddess).  Its about two flawed characters who save themselves through the purity of their love.

It doesn’t have to be redemption through Christ (which I clearly believe is the most profound redemption).  It can be redemption through many noble things such as hard work, persistence, family, community, and love as in The Blind Side.  This theme of redemption is why I LOVE the story of A Christmas Carol.  It is also what attracts me to Jane Eyre.  The bitter Rochester finds himself and renews his life through loving Jane.  It doesn’t always have to be a drama.  Sometimes the funniest movies are ones that feature characters who learn their lesson- What About Bob? comes to mind as an example.

I do have to remind myself that these intellectuals I want to be like aren’t so great.  After all, they are the same people who think David Foster Wallace and David Sedaris are funny- a thought which is beyond me?  I think both of them are obnoxious, condescending, preachy and dripping with disdain for anyone who isn’t like them.  I didn’t laugh once while reading their supposedly insightful commentaries.  (Maybe because it is my traditional Christian life they are making fun of? On the other hand, I can laugh at myself and my culture?)  Who knows?

I guess I respond to what I respond to.  Can anyone help that?  Hmmm…I definitely will be curious for everyone’s thoughts on this one!


Good Men?

I know I just posted yesterday but I was forwarded this article by my parents and thought it was so interesting. (To my facebook friends forgive me for reposting my thoughts on this subject).   I also thought it was well written and very witty.

It is called Where Have the Good Men Gone by Kay S. Hymowitz (evidently it is an excerpt from her book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, which I am very excited to read).  In the article, she discusses the new problem of ‘pre-adult’ men in America.  These are the types of men that are often profiled in movies starring Will Farrell, Seth Rogan and Owen Wilson.  Some women find this type of silly ‘frat boy’ behavior charming but it has always driven me crazy.

Unfortunately, even in the church there are very few single men over 25 that I would not describe as ‘pre-adult juvenile men’. I could give you a ton of examples. For most of them it is not like they are doing anything specifically wrong or sinful (that I’m aware of at least) but they don’t seem to have any motivation in their life. No motivation in their careers, schooling, not to mention marriage or family. (There was a whole crew of them in an old ward I used to call ‘The Ferris Bueller Boys’ because of their immature and annoying antics!).

I think there are 2 problems that Hymowitz doesn’t really mention. The first is what I call the epiphany complex. Many men are expecting to be struck with an ‘ah ha’ moment when it comes to major decisions. For instance, they aren’t content to find a job, it must be ‘the job’. They are expecting to find something that is ‘meant for me’. Until they find that job they move from sales or other work that is beneath them, so when it inevitably doesn’t work they can say ‘oh it wasn’t the job for me’. This is also true with some men when deciding a major. Its like every class has to be perfectly suited for them or they can’t tough it out.

Of course the epiphany complex is most seen with men in dating. Sometimes, especially in the church, if a girl isn’t perfect and scream out ‘this is the girl I’m going to marry’ then they don’t pursue a relationship. A lot of guys miss out on great girls because they don’t get that epiphany they are hoping for and never ask them out.

The other problem is the possibly mistaken cultural tradition that making it in our society is harder for girls. Clearly this was true in the past when women could do little more than teaching and nursing. However, now there are more women graduate degree and law students then men. I think girls are still taught that you will have to work harder to get paid what men get paid. Single motherhood is also frequently portrayed in movies and on television and many women almost plan on it. When I was going to grad school it was always, with a few rare exceptions, the female students who worked harder than the men. In addition, if there were any students that we had to babysit it was the men.  I hated being in group projects with certain men.  It was a near-guarantee they would flake out, and I’d be forced doing the work for two people.  Women are taught to expect such behavior and to plow through it to get ahead.  We understand that things like education and a career will be tough and that we will have to fight for any position we gain in life. I do think this leads to a lot of overworked, stressed out, female professionals that only look to their girlfriends for companionship. At least girlfriends seem to understand.

The other ironic thing is that some guys feel intimidated by women who are successful but what is our alternative? Sit at home and knit? I don’t think so. (no disrespect for knitting intended 🙂 ) The women of the world are not going to wait around for men to be motivated.  We all just have to live the best life we can and hope to find someone who will love us.

It’s all kind of depressing when you think about it but what can be done to fix the situation? All I can do is pray that one of the ‘exception to the rules’ is out there. After all, I only need one!


the philosopher's life...ah, the dream!


The philosopher Pascal said “All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room“.  If this was true in the 1600’s when Pascal was alive then how much more true is it today?  It’s hard for me to think of the last time I was sitting and purely pondering.  Perhaps at the temple or on vacation (particularly in Hawaii…Contemplation by the beach is the best!) but it is hard to think of examples from my day-to-day life?

As I work from home the temptation to answer emails, return phone calls and update spreadsheets at all hours of the day is strong.  There are always a multitude of projects that are left undone.  In fact, last Thursday I stayed up until 2 am and woke up at 6 am the next morning to finish a filing project which needed to be done to assist with sales tax filing.  Part of this was my own fault because I had put it off in favor of other more pressing assignments.  I am working to simplify my work life but it can still be very invasive of my time.  There is no 5 pm cut-off with my job- both its greatest asset and challenge. Fortunately I finished the filing project on time and commented to my boss how gratifying turning it in was.  Despite my long hours I feel like I’m always presenting projects that are ‘almost done’ or ‘nearly completed’.  Luckily my bosses (including my Dad!) are amazingly understanding.   In truth, almost all the work-related pressure I feel is self-imposed.  As part of my treatment of PCOS I am learning how to manage stress and anxiety better but its a process!

Anyway, all I’m saying is it is easy to take up free time with work….

Moving on.  As everyone who reads this blog knows my health has been a near-obsession over the last year.  This requires hours of my time in exercising, weight training, reading up on PCOS, studying diets, visiting doctors etc.  People that think major weight loss can be done easily or by only a slight increase in effort are crazy.  Today I was at the gym for nearly 2 hours. It is a huge time commitment.  Thankfully I have a job that is flexible and can move around all of these various responsibilities; however, when given a free hour I usually feel like I should be working out or studying up on my condition.

Then there is church.  There is the temple to go to (which I did last Saturday.  So wonderful).  Visiting teaching to do, scriptures to read, lessons to plan, activities to attend and more.  My ward is new and I sincerely love it.  If I could I would attend every activity and get to know every member.  I just wish there was more time.

Finally there are friendships to cultivate, books to read, entertainment to view, music lessons to practice (today was master class.  I did Gravity by Sara Bareiles and I think it went pretty well.), journals/blogs to write, loved one’s to call, and a semblance of a social life to keep in order.  (not to mention dating someone but who has the time? the list could go on and on)

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I’m not.  All of these things are huge blessings that I am deeply and eternally grateful for.  I’m just saying that I don’t have time to contemplate or meditate without feeling like I should be doing other things.

What do you guy’s do to find time for deep thought?  Surely I’m not the only person with such a fast-paced life?  Maybe part of being an adult is not having time for such things?   It’s kind of sad because when I was in college I LOVED my philosophy courses.  They made me feel alive in thought.  They taught me how to analyze the world and human behavior in new ways.  It’s hard to overstate their value to me.  Even now, nearly 10 years later, I still remember individual lectures in Ancient Political Theory (poli sci 201 with Dr. Holland), Modern Political Theory (poli sci 202 with Dr. Bohn), Theories on Human Freedom (with Dr. Bohn), Political Economy of Women (with Dr.  Hudson and Dr. Bowen), and Religion and Philosophy (with Dr.  Hancock) (to name a few). I also loved my classes on Chinese Politics (Dr. Heyer) and Japanese Politics (Dr.  Christensen).  I sometimes wish I could take classes like these again and be inspired with the wonder of the world…Although I probably wouldn’t find them nearly as impactful today.   I try to learn on my own but it isn’t quite the same as sitting at the feat of scholars absorbing their hard-earned knowledge, your mind all the while expanding with every word!

College was stressful and very busy but it was also one of the happiest times of my life.  It’s such a cliche but I really did find my voice in my classes, and their influence has never been forgotten.  I even studied Pascal which led me to the quote that spurned the idea for this post.  So, who says you never use what you learn in school? Now if only I had a second to ponder about it!  Retirement?

“I can well conceive a man without hands, feet, head. But I cannot conceive man without thought; he would be a stone or a brute.”  Blaise Pascal

Happy President’s Day!

I just had to post a video in honor of the weekend.  This girl is so cute!

I am a huge patriot and am grateful for all the presidents that have served.  I certainly wouldn’t want their job!  In recent times politician has become a dirty word but, you have to remember that many good people sacrifice high paying jobs in law and business to serve their country.  I think such an ambition can be noble and worthy of commendation.

I also acknowledge that power is a slippery slope of ego and moral compromise for many, if not most, who are given its taste. Like the scripture says:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Hence many are called, but few are chosen.”

That said- I am grateful for those that heed the call to serve in our democratic republic at the federal, state and local level.  I am also deeply in debt for the sacrifices made by members of our armed forces and our missionaries.  I want you to know that I pray for you daily.  God bless you and God bless the USA!

I used to have all of these memorized but now I know I'd struggle. Especially with the turn of the century presidents...Oh well!

PCOS Venting

I'm working on making this a reality. Come a long way. Its a transition!

This post is a bit of a vent so please bear with me. I am writing exhausted from a long week full of interesting, new experiences.   It has been intense with work, activities, a date (yes a date on Tuesday- just a first date but was fun), and trying to manage my health. Every day I learn more about insulin resistance and PCOS, but I still have a long way to go.  The hardest part is knowing how to manage my new insulin requirements.  My body is having a tough time adjusting to the low GI diet/metformin because my insulin levels can be low causing sudden fatigue, body aches and light headiness.

I have been very strict with my diet and the affects seem to be so different day to day.  It would be one thing if I could figure out ‘oh this food makes me fatigued’ or ‘this food helps me feel better’ but there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason?  It’s a serious problem because when I say sudden fatigue, I mean sudden fatigue.

Yesterday I ate 2 pieces of whole grain, whole wheat toast with a little bit of butter.  Then I rushed out the door.  (I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before which I’m sure didn’t help but still it was weird).  So, as I was driving to Syracuse I got about 20 minutes and I became very tired- my eyes burning, my head feeling fuzzy.  It was all I could to pull off the exit and into a parking lot.  I knew I needed to eat something and unfortunately had nothing in the car.  Across the street was a McDonalds and I figured it would have to do.  I debated about what to order and finally went with a Diet Coke for the caffeine and an order of chicken nuggets (not the best but I figured mostly protein and fat, no big carb loaded bun).  The strangest thing was almost immediately I felt better.  My mind felt alert, my eyes stopped hurting and I was able to feel good all day.  Isn’t that peculiar? The other question is why did the toast cause the reaction?  I had a good low carb, whole wheat bread and no sugar  or jam on the toast?

Maybe some of you, online world, have ideas or have experienced similar experiences.   These episodes are  not regular and don’t seem to fit any pattern either in the source or solution?  Honestly nothing seems to make me feel better aside from sleeping and who has time to sleep for 2-3 hours in the afternoon?  I have gotten a myriad of suggestions including  peanut butter, protein bars, shakes, candy, juice,  agave syrup, and other foods to reverse the low insulin (I’m pretty sure the attacks are hypoglycemic- meaning caused from insulin rates that are too low).  I also can’t figure out what particularly triggers it and why sometimes it does/does not happen? It’s so strange.

I’ve called my endocrinologist (who is the best) and left a message (they are closed Friday’s).  I am meeting with him next Thursday, and you can bet I will have a lot of questions.

It has been a struggle and I must say I have not done great this week exercise-wise (only 3 times this week).  I have been so exhausted it is hard to move.  Its an adjustment but don’t worry I’m not off my game for long.  I am meeting with my trainer Wednesday (trainer Wednesday, doctor Thursday- busy week!).

One of the hardest things is my new feelings that food is an enemy.  When you don’t know if a food will send you into an episode or cause other problems it is hard to enjoy it.  I have not learned to anticipate, like or crave my new food requirements. I’m really trying but nothing tastes as good as it used to. Excuse my language but it kind of sucks.  I used to love cooking but it seems like everything I know how to make is not allowed for various reasons. In addition, the whole wheat/low carb varieties of food just aren’t as good or satisfying, and I’ve never been a huge ‘hunk of meat’ person.  I am starting to uncover new recipes, cookbooks and websites that look promising but right now nothing I can eat looks good.

I try to remind myself that ‘its just food’, which helps but it’s still hard.  Its tough to go to FHE and see people eating cake, hard to go to dinner and not eat the free bread, its hard when a food I think is OK seems to cause an episode.  I also don’t want to be one of those annoying dieters that everyone has to tip-toe around.  I want them to feel comfortable eating whatever they want to eat.   I’m keeping a journal of everything I eat, and the symptoms I experience, but I just miss things.  It feels like I miss everything.

Anyway, please excuse a little complaining on my part.  Changes are difficult, but I know I have to be successful.  This is it.  This is the moment where I grit down and change my life.  This is where all the challenges I’ve had since I was a little fat 8 year old girl make sense and fall into place.  I’m getting answers but along the way adding more questions…It’s a journey!

Lately I’ve been reading the experiences of other PCOS patients and it is comforting to see how their experiences mirror mine.  It is also nice to see them persevering through the tough times, making amazing progress, and eventually achieving full health.  It gives a girl hope!  Its also nice to know the diagnosis and treatment are not easy for anyone. Every PCOS patient struggles with regulating insulin levels, changing their diets and controlling symptoms.  Reading the blogs does make me happy I’m not trying to have a baby because the women that are experience even more struggles with their PCOS.  I feel bad for these women and their struggles. With both PCOS and endometriosis I may not be able to ever have a baby, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!

There are also PCOS patients who suffer much more then me- some practically losing their hair and others experiencing large painful skin conditions. I guess that’s part of the reason I wanted to write this post- I’ve been benefiting so much from reading the blogs of other patients and feeding off of their stories.  Hopefully someone will feed off of mine.  I thought I had experienced all the hardships of this fitness quest but the last few weeks have been tough- on one hand thrilling and mind-opening, but on the other difficult, confusing and both mentally and physically trying.

Thank you for letting me vent a little bit and for the support.  I’ll get through this and be a better person at the end. I can already see it happening. Take care and have a great President’s Day weekend.

Low GI Diet

Recently my endocrinologist recommended I begin a diet based on the glycemic index. This approach to food is kind of like a ‘low carb’ diet but not exactly.  It is less focused on protein and more on regulating insulin.  This is particularly important with PCOS patients because they are ‘insulin resistant’ (different then diabetes).  In the PCOS Workbook (my new favorite book) by Angela Grassi and Stephanie Mattei explains the condition:

“If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, chances are you have insulin resistance.  This occurs when your cell doors do not respond appropriately to the normal amounts of insulin produced by your body.  In other words, your insulin ‘key’ does not fit well into the ‘lock’ on your cell walls.  When this happens, extra insulin is produced to increase the chance of getting more glucose into your cells.  The result: your body has too much insulin. Since insulin is a growth hormone, too much promotes weight gain mostly in your belly. “(Grassi, and Mattei, 19-20).

Here's a diagram that explains what is going on in my cells! I find this very exciting!

This is just one of the amazing things I am learning about my body as I research my condition.  Its amazing how one little malfunction in my body can have such overarching effects in my weight, appearance, future fertility, energy levels, depression, anxiety and more.  Even the way I handle stress can be effected by the insulin resistance.  Its actually a vicious cycle because my insulin levels affects my hormones (particularly one called cortisol) which lead to greater stress and exhaustion levels, but that very stress makes the cortisol levels go up and everything else along with it…It also does not help that it is at the stressful times that we tend to eat poorly (although I am not an emotional eater I definitely used to eat fast food when stressed-more out of time then anything else).  Higher levels of cortisol particularly effects a person’s ability to handle ‘alarm reaction’ and ‘exhaustion’ (meaning the onsets and endings of stress are the hardest- totally me.  I hate surprises and change. Also, I almost always get sick after a really stressful situation. Even in high school I used to get sick after every play).

I could go on and on… As I mentioned earlier I have been learning to eat in a new way.  As the PCOS Workbook describes:

…different foods affect your insulin levels differently.  Simple and refined carbohydrates cause rapid rises in insulin whereas other ‘slow’ carbohydrate-containing foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk) gradually increase insulin keeping blood sugar levels more stable. (Grassi and Mattei, 31)”

To gauge the effectiveness of a food on my insulin levels I follow the glycemic index.  This list gives the carbohydrate totals for certain foods ranging from 1-100.  In general it is best to eat from foods 51 or lower. The PCOS Workbook says “To avoid surges in insulin levels, limit your carbohydrate intake to one to three servings per meal (15-45) grams of total carbohydrates and one to two per snack (15-30 grams of total carbohydrates.  Although still important protein and fat do not contain carbohydrates and affect insulin to lesser extent…” (Grassi and Mattei,31)

the gylcemic index

Later on in the chapter they discuss fats and meats going into great detail about OMEGA 3 fish oils, OMEGA 6, what the best proteins are and what is truly a ‘whole grain’.  It is a fabulous resource but I won’t bore you with much more recitation.

While I am excited to be learning so much, adjusting to the new diet has  been harder then I thought.  I figured I was doing pretty good after a year of eating right but I’ve been surprised at how difficult it is.  One of the things the PCOS  Workbook says is that strong cravings are to be expected:

“A fast insulin release followed by low blood sugar may also explain why many women have a strong desire for sweets and intense cravings.  When your blood sugar drops, your blood glucose is low and your brain tells your body it needs more glucose now! To raise blood sugar levels your body tells you to eat. After eating, glucose enters your blood stream quickly giving you a rapid rise in blood sugar, which makes you feel better.  The more refined food you eat, the greater increase in insulin and the more refined foods you crave.  Simply the more sugar you eat, the more you want. (Grassi and Mattei, 21)

This makes so much sense to me because throughout my entire I life I get ravenously hungry quickly and have strong cravings for sweet/simple carbs.  I have also been prone to feeling light-headed, fainting and nausea if I do not eat and drink enough.  Since I’ve been this way my whole life I just thought it was the way I am- didn’t know I could change it.  Even driving home from Syracuse today it had been several hours since I ate, and I could barely keep my eyes on the road I was so tired.

As I said making these changes has been tough.  Even with the medicine helping (well at first it made me sick but now I’ve adjusted) I still have strong cravings and long for the old foods.  It is a difficult adjustment both mentally and physically.  It is with this in mind that I turn to you.  If you could send me your recipes that fit into 51 or lower on the glycemic index (see above).  Please particularly avoid white sugar, flour, potato and other high starch/sugar foods.  It would greatly help me out. The recipes can be entres, breakfast food, side dishes, salads, anything. Especially if you have something that is a little bit sweet that’d be great! (fruit is allowed and some sweeteners in moderation like agave syrup.) I also crave pasta but find whole wheat pasta lacking.  If you have any way to make it taste less heavy and gritty I’d love to try it!

Thank you so much in advance.  If I get some good ones I will give another prize- maybe a good cookbook or a meal if you live close.  I hope you weren’t too bored by all that I’ve shared.  It is so life changing I couldn’t help but share.  Also, thanks for listening to me moan and groan on occasions as I make this change.

Romantic Comedies that are Actually Romantic

I know I’ve been doing a lot of posts lately.  What can I say- I’ve just been in the mood!  As everyone knows Valentines Day is coming up next Monday.  Fake holiday or not, it does tend to bring a girl’s mind to the romantic. I’m too old for visions of knights in shining armor and long passionate kisses but still the idea of falling in love has its mystery.  It is the great unknown in life.  When will it happen?  Who will it be with?  Is he walking by me right now? Have I known him forever and not known it…

While I don’t believe in ‘the one’ or fate, I do believe that God directs us in our lives to what we need.  There may not be ‘the one’, but I don’t think there are 150 ‘just rights for Rachel’ running around. If there are, they certainly do a good job hiding themselves!

Anyway, today I spent a few minutes filling out valentines for my sisters and nieces (the real loves of my life!).  As I signed my name to Disney Princess cards I began thinking about romantic movies and books.  My internet friend Forest Hartman recently put out an interesting article (he’s a movie reviewer I follow) of “romantic comedies that are actually funny.”  The point of his list is that most movies prescribed as romantic comedies are more romantic dramas or at best straight romances.

While I agree with this basic point, I do not agree with most of his selections, which include many of the modern raunch-filled, hard-R movies such as Something Like Mary, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  I must confess to only seeing one of these movies, I did not find it funny or romantic.  I was too distracted by all the adult content. A movie doesn’t have to be PG rated, but I usually wish the adult content was left out.

If my humble opinion were taken into account a romantic movie should be funny but it should also be innocent and tender.  A true genius like Cary Grant knew how to build romantic tension while still keeping the characters likable and funny.  All the sex and foul language make characters less sympathetic and ruin the romantic tension.  What’s it all leading to if sex is already off the table? Getting married? I guess but that’s not as tense and funny?

I guess I am just too old-fashioned for modern romance but considering modern romance includes three movies last year where women went to sperm banks maybe that’s a good thing? To some it might sound crazy but I believe in a romance where a girl meets a guy, they fall in love, overcome struggles, stay morally clean, get married, and have a family.  Isn’t it a little scary that this notion sounds archaic?

I am willing to make some exceptions.  For instance, I love Juno but I feel like the character learns from her mistakes and finds love.  The movie certainly doesn’t treat sex and love as nothing.  I also liked the movie Last Chance Harvey which was more of a drama but about real people who fall in love because of common interests not from stupid bets, competitions, pratfalls, and meaningless sex?

Almost all of the romantic comedies I have seen in the last 10 years have been awful- and most of them starring Jennifer Lopez, Ashton Kutchor, Kathrine Hiegel, or Matthew Mcconaughey.  Why do I keep going you ask? Good question.  Most of the time I give into peer pressure, figuring I’d rather see a lame rom com then be alone.  Tough call? Lately I have seen much better romantic movies on lifetime and hallmark channel original movies!

The main point is these movies are not romantic.  They aren’t even sexy or exciting.  The characters usually hate each other and are hateful throughout the film and then we’re supposed to believe ‘poof ‘ they fall in love.  They are also put through ridiculous impediments to their love- mainly because the right impediment, chastity before marriage, is considered a joke.

So to borrow Forest’s title I’m going to suggest a list of ‘romantic comedies that are actually romantic. I sincerely tried to think of a few selections in the last decade but could only come up with two.  Most of them are much older. It is a great list.  I highly recommend ordering them on netflix now and enjoying them with your honey on Valentines Day.  What movies do you find romantic?

1. His Girl Friday- the rom-com that all others have been copying for 70 years.  The way to do snappy dialogue and opposites attract right.

2. Shop Around the Corner/ You’ve Got Mail (2 different movies, same plot, both wonderful)

3. When Harry Met Sally (this one does have a tiny bit of adult language) but great Nora Ephron dialogue.  I love her!

4. Talk of the Town- may be hard to find but worth the effort.  A philosophic romantic comedy! Can borrow from me if you want.

5. Bringing Up Baby- if you want a rom com that is super funny this is it.

6. Roman Holiday- perfect for Valentines. Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck in Rome- perfection!

7. Return to Me- a bit of a stretch as a comedy but has comedic moments and I love it. I also love that they manage to fall in love without her taking her shirt off to show her scar.  Most Hollywood movies would find such a notion unrealistic.

8. Clueless- hilarious. based on Jane Austen’s Emma! (Mostly funny for those who went to high school in my era.)

9. 500 Days of Summer- wildly creative, love the ending, a few adult moments.

10. Moonstruck- family, betrayal, anger, love, humor and opera- great script and good performance from Cher! Who’d a thunk it?

11. Juno- I have to do an 11. The dialogue is a bit glib but I love it.  I think it is funny and romantic and tender.

Happy Valentines Day!  I love you all!

A Good Moment

All of my friends, family and blog readers know I have done a lot of whining as I’ve ventured down the road to physical fitness.  While I would like to bear all the difficulties with gentile grace, the stresses and struggles have at times been more than I can endure alone.  It’s all I can do to keep from screaming with  frustration.   (Seriously, if you only knew how much I want to complain and don’t, you’d find me restrained). Thank you in advance for your continued support and patience with my struggles.

It is with this history in mind that I share a perk of my weight loss I experienced today.

First some background.  As I have mentioned on this blog I am a member of the Tree house Athletic Club in Draper.  This is a nationally award winning gym- the best in the state with amazing personnel, incredible facilities and a serene spa environment.  I could not have experienced half of my success at any other facility.

In fact, the gym is so great a special program called Real Life Fitness trains there.  This is basically a fitness boot camp (or a fitness retreat as it is called on their website) where people from around the country come for stays ranging from 2 weeks to 4 months.  From what I’ve seen of the program it looks pretty good.  It’s a bit too military for me (sometimes their trainers are out on the floor yelling and it makes me crazy! I hate that kind of trainer.) I have never watched the show but I guess its designed to mimic The Biggest Loser.

Anyway, the process appears grueling and difficult.  As I have not been a participant, it is tough for me to comment on its effectiveness, but I have noticed improvement in some patients as I work out with them each day.  My only worry is whether they can keep up such a difficult routine when they get home?  Some of them are doing 7 hours or more of exercise a day!  I am glad I decided to go with the steady-as-she comes approach instead of something like Real Life.  I don’t think I will be as fearful of gaining once I achieve my goals.

Now getting to today- I did a quick workout this afternoon (had voice lesson so I had to hustle).  As I put away my gym clothes and water bottle in my locker I noticed a woman who looked depressed sitting in the lounge area.  I could tell she was a new Real Life’r and I said:

“Rough workout?”

“Yeah, I felt like I was going to pass out.” she said

“How long have you been here?” I said

“Just 2 days. You been here a while ?” she said (I must have looked in pretty good shape for her to say that!)

“I’m not in Real Life.  I live here in Draper but I’ve been working on losing weight for the last year.”

“Really?  They just told me I need to lose 67 lbs” she said her face filled with despair.

“Well, don’t over do it.  You can only do so much.  Your body will fight back big time- especially at the beginning”  I continued “People have no idea when they say ‘get off your butt and work out how hard it is going to be.  You are talking about 3 years of your life 2 hours a day with other major lifestyle changes.  It isn’t just get off your butt. ”

“Seriously” she said. “I’m so sick of hearing that.”

“I’ve been working hard for a year and lost 40-some pounds and still have a long way to go.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Don’t get discouraged. ” I said.

“I appreciate that.” she said as tears welled up in her eyes.  Of course, this made me cry!  Unless you’ve been where me and this nameless woman have, you don’t understand.

“Really. It feels impossible right now but you can do it!”

I had to rush off to make my lesson but as I exited the gym I shed another tear or two to marvel at where I’d come in 10 months time.  Back then I’d never have been able to give that woman advice.  I wasn’t going to Tree house until August!  It was a sweet moment of victory- one which I hope to repeat many times in future years.  I also hope a few people are similarly inspired by this blog- despite the complaining.  It would make it all worth it!

Some people when they change their life they look at the discarded versions of themselves with disdain and maybe a bit of anger.  I promise to all of you that I will not do it.  Talking to that lady today made me realize I can inspire people and lift them up.  Believe me, those struggling with weight-loss get enough negative feedback- they don’t need to hear any from me.  I hope I am the first one with a hug and a word of encouragement.  I hope I always see people’s potential and accept them for who they are now, while never doubting their ability to change.  This is my goal and mission statement.  You guys better help me keep it!  If I get out of line remind me of my commitment and give me a bit of a wake-up slap!

Today was a tender mercy I will never forget.  Too many more…

My Hawaiian Fantasy

Of Hawaii, Mark Twain said

“When you are in that blessed retreat, you are safe from the turmoil of life; you drowse your days away in a long deep dream of peace; the past is a forgotten thing, the present is heaven, the future you leave to take care of itself. You are in the center of the Pacific Ocean; you are two thousand miles from any continent; you are millions of miles from the world; as far as you can see, on any hand, the crested billows wall the horizon, and beyond this barrier the wide universe is but a foreign land to you, and barren of interest”

As everyone knows I love Hawaii. For years I wondered why my cousins made such a big deal about Hawaii and then in 2007 I went and was totally hooked.  There are literally two things I don’t like about Hawaii- cockroaches and the heat/humidity.  Both a small price to pay for tropical paradise.

For my entire life Grabber has owned a time-share of sorts on the Northern Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.  (For the life of me I will never understand how it took me so long to get to the island! I blame my parents.  What were they thinking?) It is near a small town called Haleiwa.  The house itself is actually two homes- one called the Grabber house, and one called the Cottage.  As the name suggests the house has more space where the cottage gets the view and the screened in porch.  The lot sits in front of a rocky section of beach with amazing views and adjacent to another beach known for sea turtles.

the rocky beach outside the house
the house

Haleiwa is also 18 minutes to Laie, Hawaii home of BYUH and the Polynesian Cultural Center.  This is an amazing cultural park where you can learn all about the native music, dances and food.  Definitely worth the money. Even closer to the house there are a lot of fun places to eat in Haleiwa including the Grass Skirt Grill, Cafe Haleiwa and the Dole Plantation. I could spend my entire trip in Haleiwa and Laie and be perfectly content.

At the PCC getting inked!
matsimotos shaved ice. So good after a long day at the beach

It almost goes without saying how much I love the beaches in Hawaii.  I love the beach anywhere but especially in Hawaii.  On the good beaches the sand is soft, the breeze is light and the views spectacular.  I can’t think of a better day then setting up my beach chair, reading a good but silly book (there are particular types of books for reading on the beach- I will have to do a post on that some day) and soaking in the sun (sunscreen on!).  My favorite beaches are the ones with soft sand and deep enough water to really swim in.  I will go until my arms are about to fall off.  I sometimes have to be reminded to take a break.  I know everyone says this but I honestly could go to the beach every day and not tire of it.  Its the best!

it just doesn't get better than this


Stef and I at hanauma bay after a long day snorkeling. Excuse the frizzy hair! Stef is coming with me again this year. I love her!

Now you may find it odd for me to be posting about Hawaii now when I am not planning on another visit for nearly 6 months.  Perhaps it is strange  but what you may not understand is I literally think about Hawaii almost every day.  I think most posts would be about Hawaii if I let it. I have a fantasy of moving there some day and starting my own smoothie and bookstore (to sell all good books for reading on the beach!).  I promise you this- I will find a way to retire there.  It’s happening so get ready!  Also, it’s snowing like crazy here in Utah…Oh, to be back at my island home…. Maybe I will get lucky and meet someone from Hawaii and he’ll swoop me off and we’ll live there forever….Wow.  Better control myself!

Anyway, I love Hawaii.  The first time I went was one of the worst years of my life and I think Hawaii saved me.  It made me happy when little else could.  It is my happy place. I hope that all of you get to enjoy it some day.

My upcoming trip in June should be even more fun because I will be trim and in shape!  Can’t wait.  My goal is to take surfing lessons.  Even if I stink at it I want to try.  Aloha!