Please Won’t You Be… My Neighbor…

I grew up on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  I was friends with Daniel the Tiger and Henrietta Pussycat.  I feared the rigidness of King Friday (feared is not the appropriate word… he was a puppet wearing a crown for gravy’s sake).  I wanted my mailman to be Mr. McFeely and was genuinely upset when he never came.  I rode that trolly into the Land of Make Believe every day as a child… and as 5 year olds are wont to do, I developed a crush on the sweater-wearing teddy bear of a man named Mr. Rogers.  He had a way of making everyone feel important and loved and capable.  He didn’t know me from Adam, but I felt like he knew me because he was talking just to me through the TV screen of my 1970s fuzzy picture box with bunny ears that needed to be adjusted every time the wind blew the wrong way.

I recently discovered that the entirety of Mr. Rogers 30-some-odd years of television programs are available on Amazon for Prime memberships to watch for free.  One late night a few weeks back during one of my many insomnia-induced nights where I search for anything to do that procrastinates homework, I set out to watch a few episodes.  Children’s programming is cheesy… and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is like a brick of gouda in a vat of velveeta visiting a hunk of swiss with a mistress of cheddar on the side, but the sentiment is still there.  The kind, caring, genuinely gentle man made me feel as if I was an important and worthwhile specimen… and who doesn’t need that reminder every few decades?

I’m not versed on the children’s programming of today (you mommies out there may be able to tell me), but I doubt that there is a Mr. Rogers equivalent on TV today… and that’s such a shame.  I hope that you who have young kids will take the opportunity to introduce your young’uns to the Land of Make Believe (free for Amazon Prime members… get ye’ there)… tell them Whitney sent you.  In my imagination, they’ll know who you are talking about.  Thank you Mr. Rogers for teaching me a childhood full of lessons about being kind and accepting of all.

“Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.”
–Fred Rogers
 
“Whether we’re a preschooler or a young teen, a graduating college senior or a retired person, we human beings all want to know that we’re acceptable, that our being alive somehow makes a difference in the lives of others.”
–Fred Rogers
Check out this clip of Mr. Rogers accepting the Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997.  He brought the whole room to tears by making it about everyone but himself.

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In other news… nephews Christian and Ethan found out baby “it” will be a boy!  Boys, boys, boys everywhere you look!  Guarantee you Auntie Whitney will be making him watch some Mr. Rogers!  Lindsay… it’s totally modern so stop it.

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Filed under Childhood, Life

Merry Easter…

Easter has become a time for pants-less, freaky-looking bunnies to scare the bajoobers out of small fry and then try to win back their favor by shoving chocolate and marshmallows in their face.  That sounds more like the torture chamber at Willy Wonka’s to me… except with less oompa and not a whole lot of loompa… but hell if there ain’t doopity doo.   With all of the hub-bub… and the fact that the dagnabbed florals are blooming and making me glee to the moon and back…

It’s sometimes hard to focus on the real meaning of the season (in my belief system anyway… carry on with whatever your belief system happens to entail… but let’s hope it has rear-less chocolate bunnies somewhere in it).  If you haven’t, take a few minutes to gander at this short video.  You will not be disappointed.

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In other news… during my woggercizing session the other night, I came across this little doo-hickey just lying in the street like some scene out of West Side Story…

If you don’t recognize what my stellar blind eyes picked up, that would be a handle to a steak knife.  This neighborhood has gone to pot… street brawls with steak knives… don’t they know Ginsu knives are the way of the future!?!?  As for me… all I brought was a pack of Trident to a knife fight.  I’ll be able to cinnamon them to death.  Next woggercizing session, fellas… you, me, the wind named Mariah, and Juicy Fruit.

Sister Lindsay and family came up for the weekend.  Between conference sessions, we went for a lovely spring walk… some of us were overdressed…  a sweater, a winter coat, and gloves in 60-degree weather… shoulda put the ole hand out the window before picking outer wear.

**Coughcough… Alena… 20 doll-hairs if you can tell me where the above picture was taken!!  **Coughcough…

Here, Lindsay is insisting that Shayne get his picture taken in front of a post.

Merry Easter everyone, near, far, and kinda lost.  I hope it was spent with the people you love!

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The Backlash…

First things first… wow… thank you all for the overwhelming love and support for Monday’s post.  I had no idea when I was typing that sucker up it would resonate with so many people… but I’m glad it did.  This world could use a lot more compassion and a lot less criticism.  So many people shared the post that my page views were 20 times higher the last 2 days than they are on a regular basis.

Of course when one has an opinion there are going to be the dissenters.  You know what they say about opinions… they’re just like wedgies.  Just because you don’t have one today don’t mean you won’t have one tomorrow.  While the vast majority were lovely and supportive comments, I did end up with about 20 or so that were so vile and hate-filled, I could have hung them up on the devil’s refrigerator.

Imagine that… a little ole post about having more compassion for those who may look different than you do came back with at least 10 people commenting that I was being a “whiny [expletive delete] with a huge victim mentality who takes no responsibility for being fat.”  There was the dude who told me if I’d spend less energy writing pity me dirge like this and more energy exercising, I’d have lost my weight already (Katie Hopkins… is that you?  Also, I exercise 3 to 6 days a week).  There was something about how fat is merely an adjective and if I am offended by the word it’s because I have no backbone.  There was something about comparing fat prejudice to any other prejudice is ridiculous because no matter what I think my weight is within my power.  I’ll stop here… but the pleasantries went on.

These people completely missed the point… completely!  But, they also proved my point… completely… so thank you for that, pleasant folk hiding behind the sword and shield you call a computer.

I’m guessing the lack of riboflavin in these folks’ diets is a big reason for why they are so hateful… I’d also venture to say if they’d think of adding a few bowls of Cocoa Pebbles per week into their diets they’d get that mineral right up into a normal level.  Riboflavin disease is the worst… especially on the common sense bone.

This blog post is for me… I need to let the negative go and move on, keeping the positive in mind.  I can only imagine the haters must have something going on in their lives making them so bitter.  I hope they are able to figure it out and get back to the sunny side of life… it sucks living on the devil’s refrigerator.

Also, Kelly Clarkson has a message for you on my behalf:

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Fat-Shaming: The Last Acceptable Prejudice…

I have always hated the word “fat”.  When people would call me it as a kid/teenager/adult that dreaded hay fever eye burning would immediately cause welling and I’d have to run and hide until the crying jag would pass.  Tender heart?  Thin skin?  Wimp?  Maybe…  Why does a 3-letter word stating truth bother me so much?  I never figured that out as a kid or as a teenager, but as an adult, I had a brief moment of clarity one time (brief is the key word when used in the same sentence as clarity with me) and it hit me like a runaway turnip truck.  It’s the word “fat” used in the following way that I can’t take.

You are fat.  

She is fat.  

I am fat.  

Except… I am NOT fat… I have fat (enough to feed a couple of small villages in Africa)… but I am not my fat.  I also have boogers, but I am not boogers!  It’s ridiculous when you use boogers in that way… and yet fat gets batted around like a Mike Tyson fight at an Ears, Nose, and Throat Doctor Convention.

I’ve let that word define me for so long it’s sometimes hard to see/know who I really am.  I am a daughter (of God and my parents)… a sister… a friend… a cousin… an aunt… a person.  At times I am big-hearted, kind, funny, hard-working, talented, smart.  At other times I am stubborn, bull-headed, anxiety-ridden, impatient.  I am someone worth knowing.  I am more than my outside appearance.  I am Whitney Lyn… the good and the bad all rolled into a giant ball of fluff and heart.

But I am not fat.

A few months ago I happened upon a 2-part docuseries called Fat and Back.  The lady on the show (I hate to use her name because it only gives her more publicity but for the sake of anyone’s curiosity, her name is Katie Hopkins) openly and proudly claims she hates fat people.  She would not hire a fat person to work for her… she would not be friends with a fat person.  In her mind, people who have fat are put into a category one tier beneath people with plague and Robert Durst.  The purpose of her documentary was to prove to fat people that they are lazy losers who should be able to lose weight like it weren’t no thing.  So, she set out to gain something like 40 pounds in 3 months. The 2nd part of her Loser-mentary was her trying to lose the weight over the course of 3 months.  Proof to no one but her ignorant self.  If losing weight were just about the trite calories in versus calories out diatribe, we’d all by Cindy Crawford on Nutrisystem.

She has failed to take into account the “why”.  Why people gain weight is the biggest hurdle to jump over… and even when you think you’ve figured out the why and have cleared said hurdle, it can all come crashing down on you.  Having fat is my lifelong cross to bear… and it’s not because I am lazy or I am purposely sitting on my aspercreme amidst a pool of Mallomars every night.  It’s because of my “why”… and my why will be a lifelong struggle.  It’s my biggest trial and I accepted it before I came down to this Earth.  I told God I would take it… and He knew I could handle it… because He doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  The difference between our trials is I wear mine on the outside… yours you may be able to bury deep inside… and if I can find a way to bury mine deep inside, I’ll have invented the last “die”t drug this world will ever need.

My plea is that we as a society stop thinking of fat-shaming as an acceptable prejudice.  We’ve all done it.  Looked at someone walking down the street and commented on their size/shape… but have we ever stopped to realize that there is an actual person with feelings and hopes and dreams living beneath that burdensome exterior?

I will never be accepting of my “fat”… I’ll forever wake up each morning ready to start anew on the journey to the svelte woman in my imagination… but in the meantime, you all can call me Whitney… not fat.

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Filed under Getting A Life

El Zone-o de Comforto…

Spanglish is the best language said the gringo in the back of the class.

I’ve mentioned how much I adore my comfort zone.  It’s a beautiful place… in my imagination… all decked out in pillows made of pizza (except… no thanks… how uncomfortably gross would that be… wiping off marinara sauce every time you lay down)!  But it’s a pretty zone… somewhere in nature with waterfalls and sunny days chasing the clouds away (five points for whomever can name that song) and trees… gotta have some trees… except they’re birdless in my imagination… either that or the birds do not have a digestive system… because seriously!  There are a few people in my imaginative zone of comfort, but not a ton of people… gotta have some hyperventilating room up in that there joint.

On the edge of my comfort zone lives a mean ogre named Anxiet-eetodd.  He’s ogre-ish because if I happen to cross that line between the comfort and the not-so-comfort, he is waiting with a keg of sugar and an all-you-can-eat Italian smorgasbord.  Stupid ogre.  That’s what happens when you are an emotional eater… rather than deal with the emotion, you eat it away, which is only good for Anxiet-eetodd because he works on commission from the Pillsbury Doughboy… and all I get is a wagon full of lard sauce.

I’ve had a number of comfort zone-crushing moments the last several years.  It’s a good thing to get out of one’s comfort zone, and I need to think of it that way.  Not only will it get me to try new things, but it will also make me face what I hate to face… how to get through feeling an emotion without stuffing it down.

My latest challenge… dancing… in public… with people around!  Close your eyes and picture me dancing.  When you finish laughing your aspercreme off, I’ll let you know it’s exactly as you imagined it.  Somehow, I… Whitney of the Zumba In the Dark With The Blinds Closed… am dancing for the curtain call in the aforementioned Mary Poppins shindig.  I knew they’d rue the day they decided to invite me into their web of talent!  :P  It’s still not too late to back out, FSTC!  I hope there’s a particularly darkened corner somewhere on the stage with my name on it.  We learned part of the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious dance this week, where-in Whitney nearly took out the whole back row with her skills.  I’ve been practicing it a little bit every single day since.  The steps aren’t that hard once you get them down, it’s the speed at which we have to do them.  If one of the cute smaller dancers twirls around, it’s like they’re walking around a pole.  If I twirl around, I’m at least walking around a block with change.  I’m leaving the dance moves below in the video for your perusal.  Someone who knows how to do the Mexican tequila bean dance on caffeine, jump inside my skin until July would ya’?  :P

Any tips, fellow dancers? (sorry, I couldn’t say that with a straight face… the “fellow dancers” part!)

T

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Filed under Getting A Life, Mary Poppins

Recommendations Of (In)Sanity…

Floor boy is no more.  Insert sadface.  However will I make it through the entire Spanish class without such entertainment!?  He didn’t go without parting words, though… which the teacher actually typed up and included in her lecture during the next class… apparently he had that much pull.  They were something to the effect:  Remember:  The word “burro” in Spanish means both donkey and ironing board.  Don’t be like me and picture ironing on a donkey during the test.  Also, don’t be like me and give up.  I think those words came too late for most of us burros.  We started the class with 20 students total.   As of this typing, we have a grand total of 7, including myself!  Either I need to take 3 showers a day because they can smell me all over the state of Utah or this class be too much work and studying for the state of Utah.  I’d tend to agree… Español es muy dificíl.  Tambíen Whitney no es muy inteligente.  I took my mid-term this past Monday and wracked my brain so hard for 2-1/2 hours I’m pretty sure all the cranium fluid is gone… never again to be replaced!  Whatever happened to open book tests for geezer college students?  Scientifically, I’ve been losing brain storage space since I was a baby… what with all the new things crammed in the thing.  I have a whole section of brain dedicated to jelly bean flavors, for crying outloud!

As a gift for completing my mid-term on the first day of spring break, the lovely parking police gave me a ticket and a bunch of attitude. Oh no you just didn’t!  Spring break usually means no students on campus and a lot fewer teachers who need parking spaces… and the lot I parked in was large and completely empty when I parked in it… with a total of 3 cars when I returned.  Of course I wore my stanky, I’m-so-annoyed-at-you face the whole time I was paying for the ticket.  See if they ever give me a ticket on spring break again!  Note to self:  Don’t tempt fates… park at home and walk 3 miles.

In other recommendations… I went to the movie, McFarland, USA this weekend!  What a charmingly, inspirational true story.  I’m a sucker for a true story.  Of course it was the predictable inspirational sports movie… hard-working dudes who no one thought could amount to anything, eventually win… blah, blah, blah… and the peasants rejoice!  But, those are the kinds of things that bring out the goose pimples and the rooting for the underdog in a person… or maybe it’s the swelling music that does it for me.  Go root for Danny Diaz, the slightly overweight runner who whooped the more fit boys on the hills… or Thomas Valles, the head-strong, overworked runner extraordinaire!  Your heart will swell three times larger that day!   All the burros in the land agree!

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The Cream Of the Crop…

It’s that magical time of year where the fairies who hate sleep rob us of an hour.  Once I get over the gravity of this situation, I rejoice in the longer evening light.  Sorry mothers trying to get your kids to bed early… I will try to rejoice in private.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the extended family members who have made their final heavenly journey over the last few weeks.  First, an uncle, Scott Nickell a week or two back.  Although, I didn’t spend near enough time getting to know him on this Earth, I do remember what a teddy bear of a man he was and how he always made me feel welcome and at home when I was in his presence.  That is not an easy thing to do when you have a socially-awkward chic with a stick up her rumpus… but he was so good at that.  His family and friends have been temporarily separated from a great man.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with them that they are able to find peace and comfort during this difficult time of waiting to see him once again… but the next time will be on the other side of the veil and with a lot tastier chocolate!

The second loss was just this morning, a sweet cousin, Brenda Hillman Sewell.  A strong, fighter of a woman who battled and beat cancer three times before her big heart gave out.  There is one shared story I have always remembered.  When I was a kid, couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6, during my rebellious years of lying to police officers about stranger danger and getting into brawls with 50-pound turkeys, a 20-something Brenda and her brother Kevin were charged with watching my sister and I for a day.  I don’t remember the circumstances as to why they had to watch us, but I do remember the day.  They went out of their way to plan fun activities, shuttling us around in an oversized Crown Victoria from the 70s (or at least one that looked as big as that boat was in the 70s).  One of our stops was to McDonald’s drive-through for an ice cream cone.  My sister and I were giddy like the wind at the prospect of getting an ice cream cone at the Mickey-Ds.  We didn’t get out much on account of the fact I was grounded so often… you know… for lying to police officers and the like.  Ice cream cone in hand, that boat of a car pulled out onto the busy Main Street and we jetted on down the road to our next fun-cation.

On her side of the car, Lindsay had her window rolled down and was busy sticking her hand out the window pretending she could fly.  This was in the 80s long before there were booster seats and required seatbelt usage… you know… back in the days where no one cared if you slammed your head into the dashboard during an abrupt stop.  Concussions for everyone!  I was jealous of Lindsay’s rolled-down-window, so went about trying to roll down my side.  Turns out, the window roller on my side was either nonexistent or it was existent and I was too stupid to tell the difference between the window roller downer and the car door opener, so I chose the car door opener and swung my door wide open.  I then, of course, freaked out… did not attempt to close the door, but instead curled up into a ball on the floor while Kevin and Brenda were freaking out in the front seat trying to figure a way to pull over on a busy street to close the door so that they didn’t kill me on their watch.  Brenda was understandably shaken and I got a talking to… but then I remember her taking me in her arms as tears streamed down my cheeks and making me feel safe.  This was before she was a mother… and I knew then she’d make a great one.

Big hugs and prayers and thoughts and love to you, Hillman and Sewell families and all of the many friends and relations that were touched just by knowing Brenda.  God only takes the best ones way too soon.  I can imagine the reunion she was able to have with her sweet mother was a glorious day for the both of them.

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