Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Worlds Unknown

Last night, for the first time that I can ever remember, I had a dream about dolphins. There were hundreds of them, their shiny, slippery, satin skin touching mine as I dove and jumped with them. They accepted me, played with me, spoke to me without words, and protected me. It is evening now, and I am still smiling about that dream.

Once, I did swim with dolphins. I lived in Florida and went out swimming in the Gulf of Mexico by myself. I swam out far, too far. I was worried, but at the same time I wasn't, I wanted to push myself out farther than I had ever been before. I am like that. I push myself a lot. I saw a black fin come towards me. I was sure it was a shark and that I was going to die. I simply accepted it and went still. In my experience, dolphins were NEVER black. This one was. And soon, there were followers, and soon, they were swimming with me and I kept pace for a minute...and then they sailed onward. It was a moment that no one else witnessed, a moment I don't share very often. A moment that was pure and radiant for me.

To see a dolphin in your dream symbolizes spiritual guidance, your intellect, mental attributes and emotional trust. It has also been said that a dream about a dolphin suggests that a line of communication has been established between the conscious and unconscious aspects of yourself. Dolphins represent your willingness and ability to explore and navigate through your emotions. As I close this time in Switzerland, I can say that this has absolutely been the case for me.

Dolphins are also representative of the Gods and it is said that to dream of dolphins--is to dream where they can lead you to worlds unknown. I move, in two weeks, to a country that I have never before set a foot. It is an unknown world and I am ready to take it. I am ready to push myself farther than I have before.

(Book suggestion: Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle--one of those books that changes your life as a young kid.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Something like Love Letters....

Over at the Dancing Newt (who is a terribly delightful blogger, by the way), Newt posted some of her recent love letters. I loved them so much, that I decided to copy her and do the same. Thank you, Newt.

Dear Switzerland,

Just so you know, yelling at me louder in German is not going to make me understand you. I thought speaking French, Italian, some Spanish, and some Indonesian was enough for you?

Dear Bread Baker,

You are the magician I always wished I could be. How do you do it? Each little loaf is a gift from the heavens.

Dear Police Officer,

I am sorry I didn't pay my 1 franc parking today and you felt you had to give me a 40 franc ticket. I promise not to try to cheat the system again.

Dear Alp Air,

You're so cool, crisp, and delightful that I might just have to breathe you in.

Dear Utah,

Today, well, today I really missed your sounds and smells, today I missed all your people and faces and food and the English you speak. Take care. I hope to see you soon.

Dear iTunes,

Please lower your prices. Seriously, you need a frequent shopper card.

Dear Blindside,

I avoided you because I have a hard time with sentimental movies that manipulate my feelings (like when I cried at Wilson (the volleyball) getting lost in the water), but then I got desperate, so I rented you from iTunes....and yeah, I kinda dug it.

Dear Jon Stewart,

Marry me, please.

Dear Dave Eggers,

Write more, please.

Dear Fox,

You better bring FRINGE back asap before I have to come over there and take care of it.

Dear Heart,

I think you are finally mended back together again. Switzerland has stitched you up all nice and neat. It feels good to have you whole.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smells Like Man Spirit....

Today I was taking a walk. That is not unusual. I was walking in the afternoon. That was not that unusual. Lots of old men passed by me on bikes. That was not unusual. The air was crisp, cool, and delightful. That was not unusual. I had good music on my iPod. Even, that...was not unusual.

Then, a man--a real live, young, good looking man walked towards me and as he passed me in slow motion, and the sun shone behind his head like a halo, and he just SMELLED like a warm, sweaty, sensuous GOD of a man with overwhelmingly good genes and pheromones that knocked me off my feet...and I wanted to throw him down to the ground and have my way with him...and I realized I've been meditating in these mountains like a nun for four months and my hormones are crazy and I just REALLY want.....

Well, anyway, that was unusual.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Women on Top

Recently, I read an article that discussed what they termed "The Oscar Curse" ...apparently, women who win the Oscar tend to find themselves out of love shortly thereafter. While I thought this was just a story made sensational to sell papers, I was surprised when I looked at the list that went on and on and on. I really do try to look for the positive in life, but some-not-so-nice-things become so obvious, they are hard to ignore. Usually, these things have a lot to do with equality, gender roles, and cultural expectations.

After a beautiful and heartfelt speech that brought her husband to tears, Sandra Bullock is now the object of a scandal of infidelity, and could very well be heading for a split.

Reese Witherspoon marriage ended 19 months after she thanked husband Ryan Philippe on the Oscar stage.

Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes seemed like soulmates, one of the Hollywood couples that might actually last. But she wins the Oscar, and a year later they announce their split. Could the two be linked?

Then there was Hilary Swank, who forgot to thank Chad Lowe in her first Oscar acceptance speech (the marriage survived) but said his support meant "the world" in the second (they separated a year later).
Julia Roberts split from her long time boyfriend, Benjamin Bratt, shortly after her Oscar win. In an interview, Bratt confessed that her fame was like a fly constantly buzzing in his ear while they were together. I wonder if she felt the same about his fame?

Halle Berry had to endure quite the public sex-scandal with her then husband. Their divorce took place only months after her win.

So what gives? Is it all just coincidence? Just Hollywood drama? Or do women who prove successful in their careers really just prove to be unsuccessful in love? Can the women really be the alpha in the relationship?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Something Happy...

The new volume of She & Him is out. It's good. It makes me happy. It makes me believe in Spring and sunshine and good lighting behind my silhouette at a picnic with a dashingly scruffy man playing the guitar. Yep..it makes me believe in all that...and in the power of the beauty of one white daisy.
I'm very unoriginal in my admiration for Zooey Deschanel. Every man loves her, even the gay ones, all the girls adore her...we're all channeling her somehow. In fact, I thought about her with my FINAL (and it just HAS to be) purchase from Anthro of a very, very, very chic blue dress.
I even have red shoes. How adorable will I be? As adorable as Zooey? Maybe if I purchase a tambourine too? Ah, yes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hug Me.

v., hugged, hug·ging, hugs.

  1. To clasp or hold closely, especially in the arms, as in affection; embrace.
  2. To hold steadfastly to; cherish.
  3. To stay close to.
To embrace or cling together closely.

  1. A close, affectionate embrace.
  2. A crushing embrace, as in wrestling.

[Probably of Scandinavian origin, akin to Old Norse hugga, to comfort.]

huggable hug'ga·ble adj.
hugger hug'ger n.

Yesterday on my walk I looked over and saw an oddly shaped person. Then I realized it was two people. They were hugging. Then I remembered how sweet hugs are and how much I love them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hot Spinster

I basically just bought this entire outfit. How could I resist? Every good spinster needs a quality cardigan. I learned that lesson way back when I was watching Marian sing in The Music Man. I decided today that my cardigan is going to be yellow, like my hair.
Now, if only I could learn a party trick like this girl. It might just secure my popularity in the new town that I'll be calling "home."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Thoughts of Spring make me want to breathe in fresh flowers and read a book while sitting by the lake. To feel the sun warm my cherry-blossom cheeks and squint my eyes in the sun.
Thoughts of spring make me want to braid my hair like I did today so the breeze doesn't blow it in my eyes. To have my hair smell like sunshine and lavender.
And write pretty letters on vintage paper to send to my love ones far away.
And wear light clothes that make me feel like a woman...clothes that barely rest on my skin, clothes that feel like light wind and warmth and smell like lemon.
And eat fresh things that grow on local trees.
Then tie everything up with an easter-egg flavored bow.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Something Simple

This blog finally feels like a blog to me. Thank you to each of you who are reading and for those of you who are commenting. You will find out that I don't usually post about love on this blog as I have a separate and private blog where I do that. But this post I just wrote, well, this one, I just felt like sharing on a larger scale as I think a lot of you have felt these feelings. I just happen to be feeling them now. By the way, if you'd like to read my Stellar Love Stories--please send me an email and I will send you an invite. It's all love--all the time!!

Something Simple:

He could be kissing someone else right now. He could be holding her hand the way he used to hold mine. He could be kissing that sensitive spot just below her left ear, just like he did mine. Everything he did with me, he could be doing with someone else. Now. Someone not me. Right now. I cannot, thought I've tried these past few months, wrap my brain around this idea.

Does that make the times when it was me less poignant? Does it cheapen what we had? Do we all just continue to replicate the same actions with people we form attachments to?

I can't think that we do. But I've been wrong before. Many times.

She may not know that he likes to have his stomach rubbed. She may never smell like ambrosia the way I did. He might not breathe her in the same way....nor as deeply as he did with me. He might not hold her in the same way...with his hands touching her lower back just so. He may not reach over and tuck that piece of blonde hair behind her ear while she's ranting about feminism.

But then again, he just might and she just might. They might just have exactly what we had. I cannot wrap my brain around this.

He told me he wanted someone simple. Is it possible to be glad I didn't fit that description, but also sad that I didn't fit that description? There is something beautiful in simplicity. Something easy. Something...predictable. I think after what he'd been through in life--he wanted predictable.

He mentioned a girl he thought he could date. She was simple. Very simple. I told him--as we sat on my couch that dark night, no lights, just empty air and black silhouettes--I told him that if he wanted to know what every day for the rest of his life would be like, then he should marry that girl. She was safe.

What he didn't know, what he couldn't see, was that I was safe too. That my love, once given, is fierce and strong and radiant and beautiful and intense and far from simple. It was lasting, it was a choice, it was redeeming, it was voiced, it was considerate, in encouraged, it was passionate, and it never discouraged. It was safe. It wasn't simple. These two things don't have to go together.

But it is over.

And right now, right now--he could be with a simple girl, holding her simple hand, and simply feeling safe.

And I cannot wrap my brain around that.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Unambiguous Woman

Feminist theorist Deborah Cameron coined the term "unambiguous woman" when she read this quote in Writing a Woman's Life, "What does it mean to be unambiguously a woman? It means to put a man at the center of one's life and to allow to occur only what honors his prime position. One's own desires and quests are always secondary." For me the "man" isn't a husband, I don't have one of those, but it is the idea of a husband, it's a father, male colleagues, clergy, and even God. "Man" is the symbol of male authority itself, the collective rule of men in general.

For the first thirty years of my life, I tried to cultivate the unambiguous woman in me, because I was taught that that was what I should be. I was advised to drop my pre-med studies because I needed to focus on becoming a mother. I was told that I wouldn't need a career because if I was faithful in my religion, God would give me a good husband who would take care of all my needs. Deep inside I tried convince my true self that I needed to belong to this world. It was all I knew. Yet, I've always fought against belonging, even though it was in small ways.

I've spent the last several years of my life distancing myself from the religion I was raised in because of the inherent patriarchy, but I've also spent the last several years hoping that times were changing, that religions could evolve, that God really didn't love 50% of the population more than the other 50%.

In a recent talk given at BYU, Elder Pace speaks of women in a way I would have expected from an episode of Mad Men, but am not all that surprised that it happened only last week.

Some highlights from his speech:

Women have a sacred role in the sanctification and purification of men, Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy told students and faculty during the campus devotional in the Marriott Center at BYU on Tuesday, March 9

~So women exist FOR men. Simply put.
~Women are not independent actors, they are tools to improve the lives of men. Now maybe addressing men was not the scope of Elder Pace's devotional, but it concerns me that nothing was said in relation to the male's sanctifying and comforting role in the lives of women.

"There is a limit to our spiritual development as long as we are single. There is a spiritual development which can only be obtained when a man and a woman join their incomplete selves into a complete couple...Although single men and women can accomplish great things on their own, they are incomplete until united intellectually, emotionally, physically and most important, spiritually."

~ The church is made up of a large percentage of single people. I can't believe that I'll NEVER fully be the best person I can be without marriage. I no longer believe that I need a man to make me more spiritual, intellectual, and saved. Please don't misunderstand me. I look forward to a beautiful marriage, but not having one is not going to make me EVER feel incomplete. EVER.

Referring to the phrase, "men have the priesthood and women have been given the blessing of procreation," Elder Pace spoke of the importance of each role in a relationship, and the ability couples have to complement one another in their eternal roles.

~ This is always the pat on the head that women are given in the church. "But you get to be MOTHERS? That's why men are in charge." The fallacies of this argument are many. The least of which is that MEN, too, are given the blessing of procreation (I mean, women, we don't do this alone do we?)

"Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny."

~While I think this is a beautiful paragraph, I can't help but feel as if he is telling women NOT to question their role because he's given them the promise that it will all be sorted out in heaven. I just think that is a lame answer. Men don't have to wait until heaven to know Father in Heaven. He's present and explained in every facet of the religion. Women don't get the same knowledge and goals to aim for.

~I think this talk brings up a lot more questions than it answers. Yes, he says that when women see Heavenly Mother all our questions about women's role in the Plan of Salvation will be answered. But he gives no hint to what that answer will be and from the rest of his talk it really seems like women's divine destiny is only to be a comforter with no comparable power to men.

Hmmm...thoughts? What role does patriarchy play in your religion?

Here's what the Feminist Mormon Housewives had to say. And this one is a funny little commentary from JDD.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Something Pretty...

Today I discovered something pretty on etsy. You should look at her creations. They are perfect for spring. I love the opaque colors. They make me happy. Spring makes me happy. Jewelry makes me happy.As Michael Scott would say: it's a win-win-WIN
Perfect little earrings to wear while donning a light white sundress--my yellow hair plaited off to the side, and a sparkle in my blue eyes. They are fresh. They match the color of my cheeks. I just might have to get these.
I think this green is a perfect Easter color. It reminds me of only good and simple things. It also reminds me of old English dames...and that makes me happy too. It also makes me want tea. I better be off to put the pot on. Wish you could join me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Deeper Peace

I'm at a time in my life that will never be again. I have the high peaks of the Swiss Alps on each side of my world. I have afternoons occasionally free where I can drive down the mountain to a nearby river. Along this river is a beautiful bike trail that I walk along. I've been able to get some lovely, long walks in. I walk for hours and miles and realize that I might not have the time to do this again once life gets busy in Portugal.

I don't rush. I don't hurry. I don't speed walk too much or even think about burning calories or having exercise...instead, I just walk. I walk. I smell the air. I look at the leaves on the trees and the fish hitting the surface of the river in search of something. I listen to an audio book...lately two different ones by Wayne Dyer (a big thanks to that person who first introduced me to him!) and find myself at some level of deep peace I never have experienced before.

Since I'm walking along the bike trail at the time when most people my age are hard at work, every five or ten minutes a sweet old Swiss man passes me slowly on his bike and says, "Bonjour!"

It's the highlight of my walk. These wrinkled and active men who look about at the end of their life's journey. Smiling. Pushing those pedals with the same amount of peace and time and joy that I take my steps.

It pretty much rocks.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dress Me Up!

This is a dress I just bought for long walks on the beach. I'll be wearing it without a trench but with a belt. I'll be wearing it without the rain and without the shoes and with a big, big smile.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sarah Seven Dresses

I'm moving to warm places soon. Very warm. I want to only wear dresses. I feel more at home in them. My legs breathe deeper and my smile is wider. I've been collecting and carefully buying some great pieces. I'd like to share some of them in the next little bit. But here is a great little designer I just came across.
Sarah Seven Dresses is wistful and feminine and warm and good. I like the fabrics and colors she uses. I like the drapes and lines. I just like.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Biting the Hand that Occasionally Feeds Me

This past Sunday I went to church. If you're new to my life. I don't go to church that much. In fact, after 30 years of a strict religious adherence, I left all religion behind.

And yet, last Sunday, I woke up early and drove 30 minutes to a tiny building where a small branch of my church people meet. I didn’t do it because I needed spiritual upliftment. I did it because I was lonely. Growing up in a family that practice strict religion and being about people who did the same, I took it for granted that church and church activities was a main way of meeting people and making friends. I never went out much to bars and partying. I never learned how to make friends in that way and still feel a bit uncomfortable with it.

So, after a few months of not making friends in my new country, I decide that I was desperate enough to go to church. I know, that sounds awful. Forgive me. I've been pretty vocal about some religious dissatisfactions I've had with my church in the past two years. As I drove to church I wondered, was I biting a hand that still has room to feed me? Would I be able to pull church off again, since there is so much I don't agree with? Was it right of me to even do so? I felt a bit like a traitor.

I walked into the first meeting of the block, Relief Society. There were 8 women there. ALL of them were over 80 years old. Two were in wheel chairs. One had an oxygen tank.


Seems like religion is dying out all over Europe, but I don't think the church was ever that alive in Switzerland. I almost laughed as all the eyes bugged out of their heads to see a new, fresh, young church going girl walk into their midsts. I decided that even though I didn't get what I wanted (some young fun women to go to a movie with or something!), that perhaps I could learn something from these wise and sweet Swiss women. I did. They spoke simply of faith and love and in French that I could actually understand. It was refreshing. It was sweet. I liked it. I think I am going to go again next week. They'll probably ask me to give a talk in French, and you know what--I'm a bit excited. I stick to the fact that church just seems better in Europe, away from the pressures and culture of Utah. I like being a member more when I'm over here.

JESUS UPDATE (because every blog post needs a Jesus update at some point or other!): I've not really cared about Jesus the past two years. I don't mean that to sound trite or casual. It's just how it is. I'm not sure if I even label myself a Christian anymore, but lately, just lately, I've felt drawn to reevaluating the teachings of Jesus...but not through a Christian lens. Impossible you might say! But no! These two books have come into my life and are helping me feel the admiration and love and honor for Jesus that I haven't felt in a long time.

RELIGIOUS DISCLAIMER (needed after being so positive about Jesus): Sometimes I worry that when I say something positive about religion that all my actively religious friends are going to say, "Oh, I just knew Stella's testimony of truth was going to come back!" And the truth is, it IS growing and changing and it doesn't really involve organized religion at all. In fact, I still have all my religious issues that I've expressed before. Those haven't changed and probably never will. However, I still think there is something sacred about honoring my roots every once in awhile, not ever being bitter about my religious heritage, and learning where things fit in my life.