Misunderstood Modesty

Growing up, I was always taught to dress modestly according to both my parents’ and our church‘s standards. In all honesty, I could not have cared any less about it. I was a rebellious, know-it-all teenager with my own set of issues, and when I started feeling oppressed by rules and expectations and standards, I would lash out in defiance to anything that was making me feel confined or like I couldn’t be myself. Why did it matter to anybody else what I wore to clothe myself? Why did my church leaders push modesty so hard and teach it in such irritating and degrading ways?

MG 9355IMG 0001 610x812 Misunderstood ModestyI’ve heard many arguments and reasons to dress according to that standard of modesty, and none of them have been right. Perhaps I did hear the right reasons at some point, but I was never able to truly understand it because all of the other misleading reasons drowned it out too much: dress modestly so boys won’t think about inappropriate things, because your body is a temple, as a preparation for wearing the holy temple garment, because the prophet said so, because we want to attract the right kind of boys–the list could go on, but those are some of the more common ‘reasons’ I’ve heard. While there may be some truth to some of those, I found them all to be misleading. I was so rebellious that I would purposefully break those standards because they seemed dumb and unimportant to me in comparison to the other problems I was dealing with. In fact, I learned some damaging mistruths from being told to be modest by those motivating factors.

But my defiant, independent, strong-willed self learned better over time.

I’ll influence boys to think of inappropriate things? You’ve got to be kidding me. Millions of girls do much worse than showing their shoulders or 4 inches of skin above their knees, and I’m the one who is responsible for their thoughts? Obviously, I could influence what I want them to think about me by dressing certain ways, but taking their agency out of the equation is the entirely wrong way to teach a girl to dress modestly.

My body is a temple? I understand that it’s a metaphor, but how in the world should a temple dress? Or should it be it based on how we dress in the temple? Have you seen temple gowns that women wear? Floor length, long sleeved, high neck-line, with white stockings underneath. How is that supposed to realistically help me to decide what to wear on a regular basis?

Preparation for wearing garments? In all honesty, even some clothes that are considered modest for teenagers to wear don’t cover up garments completely. Also, garments are worn because of faith and understanding a personal covenant made with Heavenly Father. There’s a very spiritual reason for wearing garments, and it should not be made mundane or become the expectation or reason for dressing modestly until those covenants are made. And even then, wearing clothing just to cover up temple garments shouldn’t be the motivating factor to dress modestly once you’re wearing them.

Because the prophet has counseled us to do so? I understand following commandments by faith, and some people are good at what some might call blind obedience. But a blanket rule for everyone? Specific lengths and requirements of clothing based on some strict standard of what? The “average” female body? How damaging that can be to a girl’s self esteem! Tall girls get to show more leg in a pair of shorts, while, if a shorter girl wore the same pair she’d get to show only her cankles. Busty girls have to wear high neck lines because they’ve been so blessed with breasts, while a more flat-chested girl can wear lower necklines without showing any cleavage. No, a blanket rule of set standards is unfair and misleading in many ways.

In order to attract the ‘right’ kind of boys? I can understand the good intention behind this one, and it’s a bit more on the right track in some ways. But it’s perhaps only part of the real reason we should have for dressing modestly.

That real reason isn’t to obey our parents and it isn’t even to be a good example, though those things do happen as a result of dressing modestly. What we need is to teach our beautiful Young Women to dress modestly because of their own desire to do so. We shouldn’t be putting false-truths in their minds to try and achieve that, nor should we try to scare or punish them into it. Our young ladies need to be loved into it, so that they can love dressing appropriately for themselves.

Why should you dress modestly then? Well, I’ve told you all the wrong reasons. Can you guess what any of the right reasons are?

IMG 3739 copy sm 610x915 Misunderstood ModestyYour physical body is an amazing gift from Heavenly Father and your life is sacred and your birth was a miracle. Women go through some of the most intense pain and discomfort known to mankind just to bring another little body and spirit into the world. Aren’t you grateful for the talents, abilities, and fun you can have in this life because of your body? Having an attitude of thankful reverence for your own mortality is a good start to understanding why dressing modestly is important.

Most importantly, however, the reason for dressing modestly has absolutely nothing to do with adhering to a list of standards. Clothing ourselves according to those standards might be the way we dress modestly, but that list itself should never ever be the driving force behind following it. The reason for dressing modestly should be something YOU determine. You decide why you want to follow those standards and principles. You choose what motivates you and why doing so brings you joy. There is no all-encompassing reason for modest dressing. It is and should be a very personal purpose that each one of us individually comes up with.

Want to know mine? I’ve got a few, and they’re pretty simple.

I love the Lord. I have faith in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that Joseph Smith was the prophet in these latter-days who restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth so that we all could enjoy the blessings that come with it. We have 12 apostles walking to earth once more! We have the Priesthood available to us as we need it. My husband can offer me blessings of healing or comfort any time I need one, just the same as the Savior offered when he walked the earth 2000 years ago.

I dress modestly because of the joy that fills my heart, the respect I have for myself, and I wear what I want to because when I do, I feel close to the Spirit and I can really focus on the promptings He gives me. I feel my Savior’s love more fully. I can focus on Spiritual things because I’m not distracted by silly physical things, like adjusting a strapless bra underneath a sleeveless top, or tugging a short skirt down so that I don’t accidentally flash my underwear to anyone, or making sure I stand or sit a certain way to look the best in a skin-tight outfit. How could I focus on serving others or listening to the Holy Ghost if I were focusing on my choice of clothing all day long?

Also, I dress modestly because I get cold easily. Bare shoulders and short shorts just make me freeze, whether it’s cold outside or if it’s icy air-conditioned inside.

I do still see the beauty in some immodestly designed clothing. Having studied fashion design and clothing construction, I get excited when I see fashions that are stunningly created, modest or not. It doesn’t mean I’ll wear them, although I’ll readily admit that I would absolutely love to do so under different life circumstances. But I’ve also learned that when we make sacrifices for any purpose, be it a person or a principle, we come to love that person or principle more. True, honest sacrificing miraculously does that, because it’s something we do of our own free will. (If someone else tries to force you to do something, it’s definitely not a sacrifice, it’s just unfair and removes your own agency from you, which is endlessly frustrating–which was my exact experience as a teenager I mentioned above.)

I’m not so focused on the list of standards that I miss the purpose behind it. The point is not to control what boys think or show how perfect of an example you are being. The purpose is to show your own faith and testimony through your physical appearance. It’s entirely up to you how you go about doing that. Nobody can do it for you, because it’s a very personal matter. The Lord knows our hearts though, and He’ll know if we’re trying to justify something we feel deep down that we shouldn’t be wearing, or if we’re stubbornly sticking to the idea that we’re an exception to some rule of modesty. We have recommended guidelines to help us as we learn to decide for ourselves what our individual standards will be, but in the end those guidelines should never control our decisions on how we dress. We should be the ones deciding for ourselves if what we wear is modest, and as we practice making those decisions in that way, we will come to know if something is or isn’t up to our own personal set of standards.

Dig deep. What are your reasons for dressing modestly? And if you have none, I challenge you to find out if you should have some.

Fun Facial Hair

Bob grew a nice full beard all winter long. Then he went out of town for a week. When he came back he had shaved his beard into a…. well, this:

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I think his facial hairstyle needs a name. I suggested Archibald (punny, much?), but Bob didn’t like it. Our friend Lindsi suggested Lord Alfred Pennyworth. In the end, Bob got a new job and decided to shave his facial hair into something a little more normal for these days. (He now has a Wolverine-worthy set of chops.) I’m glad I captured this while I could!

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The January Overwhelm

Drove from Clarksville, TN to San Diego, CA, arriving in October.

Packed up a moving truck & moved to Provo, Utah on October 31st.

Both my husband and I got jobs at Sundance in November.

We house/apartment-hunted for 2 months.

My husband’s car got hit and totaled on Christmas Eve
(while he was out of it helping a co-worker’s car get unstuck).
Insurance undervalued his car by 50%. Let the battle begin.

We moved into our apartment on January 1st.

Readmitted into the 1st year courses for Industrial Design at BYU.

Classes started January 6th.

Over half of the BBN Admin Team members needed to step down to take care of personal needs.
Double the work I need to do for that community.

My car’s transmission died on January 16th.

January 17th, I attended the Sundance Film Festival and interviewed some amazing people for Forward Walking.

My son and I got influenza on January 20th.

We each contracted a second virus by January 24th, complete with ear and sinus infections.

Today, February 3rd, I’m finally feeling up to working and going back to school after missing a week.

And here I am wondering where in the world January went. One of my goals for this year was to get my blog where I want it. So far, month one was a total flop. But for good reason! I’ll give myself a break, because honestly, I deserve it. After everything we’ve had happening over the past few months, I feel like I’m doing a pretty bangin’ job of living life!

Anyway, I just wanted to get this all out of my head somewhere. I should make a to-do list. But that might just stress me out more when I see the sheer amount of stuff I need to do. I’ll just do one thing at a time and remember…

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Good luck, self!

Catrina’s Maternity Photos

I’ve known Catrina since high school, and she’s one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever known. Throughout all of her trials and struggles, I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face. Her doctors didn’t think she’d be able to get pregnant, and her husband wasn’t supposed to be able to have kids either. The baby growing in Catrina’s womb is a complete miracle. There was no way I wasn’t letting her get some maternity portraits!

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Halloween 2013

If you don’t know me well, you probably don’t know how obsessed I am with Halloween costumes. I love Halloween strictly because of the opportunity to dress up as whatever you can dream of and create. I LOVE IT.

I’m really proud of our past costumes. They’ve even been floating around Pinterest, which makes me feel pretty cool. I had a friend tell me last week she saw pics of our costumes last year show up in a Google search she did. Nobody really knows who I am, so I’m not popular or famous, but my creations are! Suh-weeeet!

Alright… Without me blabbering on and on, let me introduce this year’s costume theme for our family.

 

Graham is obsessed with Ylvis’s What Does the Fox Say. And I can’t blame him. He’s one-and-a-half, he loves animals and music, and that song actually has a great beat (and is freaking hilarious and well done, even if it is completely ridiculous–let’s be honest). Graham asks to watch it when he wakes up in the morning and immediately after every nap every day. We usually watch it at least 5 times a day. I have the entire thing memorized (not by choice, mind you).

Here it is, if you’re living in the dark ages or have been rebelling against watching it.

When Graham wakes up in the morning, within five minutes of seeing us he’ll say, “Fah-fah? Ha-tee! Ha-tee!” After every nap, he says the same thing. And if he sees my phone, my computer, or my husband’s laptop, it’s always, “Fah-fah? Fah-fah?

We decided to play up this new found favorite song of Graham’s.

May I present….

 

 

The Fox

 

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IMG 0225 copy sm 610x827 Halloween 2013I love how Graham pulled Bob’s tie loose.

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IMG 0243 copy sm 610x782 Halloween 2013And my favorite shot of Graham, and we look ridiculous. He got tired of wearing his fox ears…

 

IMG 0247 copy sm 610x743 Halloween 2013Graham: “Eeeeaaahhh!!!!” (translation: “I don’t want this on my head!”)
Me: “Graham, just keep the fox ears on for 30 more seconds!”
Bob: “Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringering!”

 

IMG 0249 copy sm 610x648 Halloween 2013“This is how you’re supposed to wear the fox ears, Graham!” (As Bob put them on backwards… Ha!)

Until next year, which I’m already debating about, Happy Halloween!!

Cake Smash!

My sister-in-law asked if I’d take pictures of her almost one-year-old son doing a cake smash. He’s an adorable, pudgy baby, so how could I say no?!

Also, my talented sister-in-law crocheted his bow tie and diaper cover. Aren’t they cute??

 

IMG 9526 copy copy Cake Smash! IMG 9617 copy copy Cake Smash! IMG 9635 copy copy Cake Smash! IMG 9700 copy copy 610x406 Cake Smash! IMG 9709 copy copy 610x406 Cake Smash! IMG 9712 copy 610x406 Cake Smash! IMG 9725 copy copy 610x406 Cake Smash! IMG 9740 copy copy 610x406 Cake Smash! IMG 9793 copy copy 610x406 Cake Smash!

{A}’s Senior Portraits

A friend of mine, Ale (“al-ee”) has a daughter who will be graduating high school this summer. What an exciting time for all of them!

Unfortunately, her senior portraits came back and just fell completely flat and short of their expectations of them. Ale called me and asked if I’d be willing to retake her senior portraits. I jumped at the chance, because as you can see, this girl is beautiful, talented, and loads of fun, and I couldn’t wait to capture that in her portrait do-over!

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A Letter to Life

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Dear Life,

Why won’t you let me catch up? Or catch my breath? Or catch a break? I know I bring on a lot of my own stress and busyness. But I’m doing all of that because I have to make some money just to live you and I’ve been given talents and traits I’m supposed to develop during you. But does it always have to be this hard?

Okay, I’ll give you some credit. I’ve found some amazing friends and I was given an incredible family while dealing with you, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of fun moments with you too. But this constant lack of enough time in a day is just not cutting it for me. Neither is the constant barrage of trial after trial, hardship after hardship. And every time I try to take on less work, I always turn out to be just as busy as I was when I wasn’t saying no to things! What’s up with that?

Anyway, we’re moving soon–driving from Tennessee to California, and then from California to Utah. It’s going to be absurd and full of face-palms, I’m sure, especially with our energetic toddler. I work from home, I’m going to school again next semester, I’m a mom and a wife, I have PTSD and I’ll need some therapy again soon, and we’re not sure why exactly we’ve had this run around the country just to wind up back where we started (ask God about that one–He knows why since he’s the one who told us to do it). But would you please throw us a bone? We’d love to find the right place to live. And my husband could really use a job when we get there. The sooner that stuff lines up for us, the more likely I’ll be able to succeed in all areas of life–school, work, home, and personal health.

I don’t want to regret you. I’d like to think about you with fondness, joy, and laughter, even after all the tears you’ve caused me thus far. I know that’s still possible. But we’ve got to work together. I’ll cooperate if you will too. I know, I know. I can’t have everything. But we could really use a break in the next month or two. I don’t see how more stress and less help will aid us in doing what it is God wants us to do. We’re exhausting our resources–asking friends and family to help in whatever ways they can, praying and trying to do what God wants us to do, and being the best parents and spouses and friends that we possibly can be at this point. So Life, it’s your turn to work things out.

Thanks in advance.

Janae

I’m not superstitious…

But yesterday happened to be Friday the 13th, and it was a pretty rotten day.

Note: I hope this doesn’t come off as complainy. I wrote all of this with sarcasm and humor, so please read it as such!

I’ve been looking forward to Bloggy Con for months now, making plans, remaking plans, changing plans, and preparing to attend the conference since February. So when all of my hard work and plans seemed useless in many ways due to a gazillion things completely out of my control, I got a little cranky about it.

Bob and Graham ended up coming with me to Bloggy Con. In some ways, I feel like it may have been better if I had ………

Going Back

When I was in college (at BYU), I changed my major about 9 times. It might have only been 8 times. Either way, it was getting ridiculous. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and when none of the majors I was choosing were working out, I went to the campus Career Counseling Center for help.

But they didn’t help. I was paired with this older gentleman who was obviously a bit old-fashioned and traditional. After telling him about my passions and what I loved to do that I hoped to turn into a degree and possibly a career, he directed me to the major: Home and Family Living.

What the [insert expletive here]??

It was like he wasn’t ………