Janet Sumner Johnson
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This vs. That: Snowboarding vs. Skiing

Oct 13, 2014 Uncategorized 3 comments

So I haven’t done this in forever, but I’m feeling in the mood for something light and fun, so here we go. Drumroll, please!

Skiing? Snowboarding? What did the masses choose? . . .

Total votes: 13

Snowboarding: 5 votes; 38%
Skiing: 8 votes; 62%
I voted skiing because I have never been snowboarding, but I’m kindof curious to try it. And at the same time, maybe not interested enough to give up my skis. Because I’m pretty good on skis. So why give up proficiency to learn something new, right? Okay, not right, but there we are.

How about you? If given the chance, would you try something new, or go with the tried and true? Gee, maybe that should be the next This vs. That! (Except I have a better one . . .)

Royals
 
vs.
 
Orioles

Controlling our Destinies

Oct 06, 2014 Uncategorized 5 comments

“Our decisions determine our destiny.” ~Thomas S. Monson

There is so much in life that we can’t control. So much that seems to affect who we are, who we will become, and in fact, our very destinies. I heard a snippet of an interview on NPR with an actor from That Seventy’s Show, and they were talking about how much there is out of our control that determines our “success.” (I put success in quotes, because that’s a matter of definition, isn’t it?)

The interviewer commented that making it big is not just about getting out there and working hard. He knows plenty of people who have been there working hard for a lot of years. People who have worked just as hard if not harder than the ones who DID make it big. So it’s not just about work. It’s about work, and luck, and timing, and the stars aligning, and Jupiter being in its 3rd rotation of the 5th lunar cycle and blah, blah, blah.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this past week. In truth, we can work hard and never achieve that “success” that we all dream of. So much of that is out of our control.

But we can control our destinies. How do we react when we get that rejection? Do we throw our notebook across the room and refuse to ever write another word? Do we scream and rant and blame others for not giving us what we wanted? For sabotaging us? Or do we pick our tarnished pride up off the floor, wipe away the dust and move onward? Learn from experience?

Most of us will probably never make it big. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have bright destinies and leave a trail of shining good in our wake. It doesn’t mean that we can’t leave the world just a little better than we found it through our actions.

Because we can control that. We can control how we act and react to everything we face . . . good and bad. And that is what determines our destinies.

Have you ever felt proud for how you reacted in a bad situation?


In Which the Ten-Year-Old Takes Over

Sep 29, 2014 Uncategorized 7 comments

Today, I am going to turn my blog over to my ten-year-old. He is a devourer of books, and tells me he could talk about books for days and days. So without further ado, here he is:

I find books very fascinating because they are able to take you to places you wouldn’t be able to go in real life. And when you are focused on a book, it starts to come alive in your mind. Pictures soaring through your thoughts. Personally, I prefer realistic fiction, and fantasy, and historical fiction.

I also enjoy mystery books. A to Z Mysteries are especially enjoyable. I find it quite interesting because in the mysteries they start asking the questions about who it could be and then they take their thoughts into an experiment and go through it like the scientific method.

My favorite book is called ICE FIRE by Chris D’Lacey which is the 2nd book of the Last Dragon trilogy. It is a very enjoyable book and when you read it, it feels like you are entirely swept away to another world.

For generations a family has created clay dragons that live and breathe fire. They can create these dragons because they are descendants of the last dragon. Then one day, a young boy comes to them as an exchange college student, and he discovers their secret. Later on during ICE FIRE, a witch tries to force the family to create her a real dragon, unlike the clay ones. The young boy is caught up in an enchantment by this witch and has to find his way out and save the day.

The reason I like ICE FIRE is because it doesn’t reveal everything that’s going on in the beginning. It kept me turning pages because I wanted to find out what was going on.

What is your favorite book? Why?


Sunny Days to Come

Sep 22, 2014 Uncategorized 6 comments

On the drive from Utah to Missouri, we had this gorgeous view:

 My camera is slow, and by the time the picture took, there was that car. But I kind of love the picture more for that. In life, we all face dark times.

Maybe we have family troubles. Maybe we have health issues. Maybe someone we love is struggling.

Whatever it is, whatever we are going through, there is always light at the end. Sunny days will come. That rainbow will light our way. Things will get better.

I can’t help but look at this picture and smile for the good things to come.

Stay strong, my friends! Things will get better.


Summer is Over

Sep 15, 2014 Uncategorized 7 comments
Hello! I’m back! Summer has ended and time has sped up. In fact, I blinked and now it’s the middle of September. Crazy!
 
Now I’m trying to remember what I actually did this summer. Let’s see . . . 
. . . and gosh this list is boring. So instead of babbling on, I’ll just bid you all a happy halloo!
 
 What have you all been up to?


Summer Break!

Jul 14, 2014 Uncategorized 5 comments

Summer is now in full swing, and rather than fight, I’ve decided to succumb and embrace the crazy. So I’ll be taking a blogging break from now to the end of August.

In the mean time, here are some summer pictures to enjoy:

The last day of school:

The Drive-in:

Fireworks:

And of course, Ice Cream!

Have a great summer!


High Heels and Science: Being Girly is Okay

Jul 07, 2014 Uncategorized 14 comments

So this past week or so, this article about a Verizon
commercial has been going around:

“Powerful Ad Shows What A Little Girl Hears When You Tell Her She’s Pretty”

After watching the commercial, I have all kinds of things going through my head.
Things that have been swirling about for a while now, and I am tired of holding
it in. First, as a parent, I tell my boys not to get their clothes muddy, too.
Because, LAUNDRY. Need I say more? And who are they to tell us what a girl hears
when you tell her she’s pretty? I’m a girl. I know just fine what I hear.

Because here is the thing: my personal experience as a girl
was pretty much the opposite. No one took tools from me and said ‘let your
brother do that.’ Everyone told me how great I was at science and math. From
parents, to teachers, to professors. And knowing how much of a braggart I must
sound, I was great at it. All my
highest test scores and best/easiest grades were in math and science.

Everyone encouraged me to go into a science, depending on
what subject they favored: My orthodontist told me I should be an orthodontist.
My engineer dad encouraged me to be an engineer. My HS and college math
professors said I should major in math. My physical science professor
encouraged me to major in science.

And they were all men. They saw potential, they encouraged.
Good on them! Exactly what the ad said adults should be doing. And what the ad
suggests they aren’t doing. Keep in mind, I am old. Like in my 30’s *wink,* so this
was back in the day women were discouraged from science, right?

By all accounts, I should have been in that 18% mentioned in
the ad. Because I liked science. And I STILL liked it when I got to college.
Plus, I was encouraged, which,
according to this ad, simply doesn’t happen for girls. And right up until my
first semester of college, I planned to be an engineer.

So what happened? What went wrong???

Nothing.

That first semester, I realized that the classes that I loved
were not math and science. So I switched. Majored in English. And I am one of
those people who was somehow “failed” by society because I didn’t
major in science. Or so this study tells me.

Well I am here to tell you that I was not
“failed.” I did not fall out of love with math and science because
society discouraged me or told me I couldn’t be good at it. I simply loved
other stuff more. I know it is not politically correct to suggest that gender
might be an influence, but there it is.

In no way do I mean to suggest that there won’t be women
out there who love science best. Of course there are. And actually, I know and love quite a few of them. But why make the other
82% feel like crap for not choosing science? MUST we choose it simply because
we can? Simply because others aren’t?

I read an article where the author makes a conscious effort not to talk clothes or hair or pretty with little girls. And while I love a lot about the article, I was left with a
question: What if a girl loves fashion? What if she loves make-up? What if she
wants to cut hair? Are those desires unacceptable now? Are those subjects not
“smart” enough? Not educated enough?

The coveted high heels
Because I have a little girl who loves all of that stuff.
And trust me, this is not me thrusting girliness upon her. I was a Tomboy with
a capital ‘T.’ I loved sports and taking things apart and running around
without a shirt because my brothers could. So imagine my surprise when my own
daughter is not like that. When my own daughter insists on cute girly froofy
skirts that poof when she spins. When all she wants for her birthday is a pair
of high heels (I don’t even wear high heels!).
 
“But these jeans!” I say, “Don’t you want to
wear jeans? Like Mama?”

Nope, she’s having none of it. She knows what she likes, and
who I am to discourage that simply because the world says she should love
science, and sports, and stuff that is not cutesy? Stuff that is “educated.”

I have just read so many articles and seen so many ads (I’m
talking to you, GoldieBlox with your anti-pink Super Bowl ad)
on what you should and shouldn’t say to little girls, and what you should and
shouldn’t give. I worry that the swing from healthy encouragement of letting girls
be who they choose to be has switched to discouraging little girls from doing
things that are esteemed to be “girly.” Pink is not okay. Dresses are
oppression incarnate. Choosing to teach or study English, or heavens, stay at home
to raise children is letting societal stereotypes guide your life.

I assure you, it is not. And with that, I claim pink to be an
acceptable color, dolls to be acceptable toys, and dresses to be acceptable
attire.

In no way do I mean to belittle women who choose science. I
LOVE science! I think it’s great when women choose that—as long as it is their
choice and not society forcing it upon them. I am sure there are girls who did
not get the encouragement that I did. Girls who maybe would have gone into a
science. And for that, I am sorry. Just as sorry as I am for girls who are put
down for liking pink.

I defend the rights of girls to choose science or NOT. The
rights of girls to love pink, blue, orange, black, fuscia, or all of them. To be a girly
girl, a tomboy, or a mix of the two as they so choose.
Society would vilify these words. Tell you they are insults. But I disagree! To
be Girly is a joyous and beautiful thing. I know because I see it daily with my
own daughter. To be a Tomboy is exciting and a daily adventure. I know because
I lived it.

There is room for all of it, and we need to find a way to
encourage the one without denigrating the other (whatever your preference may
be).

RED BUTTERFLY Winner!

Jun 30, 2014 Uncategorized 2 comments

And the winner is . . .

Jessie Oliveros!

Congratulations!! You’ve won a pre-order of Amy Sonnichsen’s RED BUTTERFLY, which is set to release Feb. 3, 2015.

I have sent an email, and I’ll get you all set up as soon as I have your address.

Hope you all have a great Monday!


Passionate Discussions on Social Media

Jun 23, 2014 Uncategorized 8 comments

***Five days left to enter for a chance to win a pre-order of RED BUTTERFLY (link)***

I am a person with strong opinions. Only natural considering my family loves to discuss. After meals, we’d sit around the family room and “passionately discuss” (my husband’s euphemism for the sport). I never thought much about it until my then-boyfriend, now-husband sat in with us. He was shocked that we hadn’t all leaped over the coffee table to beat each other up. I was shocked at his take on the evening.

But since that time, I have thought a lot about how a discussion can come across. Especially in the last few years, given the explosion of social media. I love discussing things passionately, but I have been amazed at how quickly a discussion turns to mud-slinging on the internet.

Instead of discussing issues, people turn to name-calling. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a jerk, and a whole slew of much more vulgar insults. To make things worse, intent of the Written Word can be much harder to interpret than that of the Spoken Word. Plus, it’s easier to be rude when you don’t have to look your audience in the eye, and it’s double easier when you can post that rudeness anonymously.  The exchanges can leave you feeling like this:

Which is why I’ve hesitated to join in. Instead, I’ve kept my posts/tweets/status updates innocuous.

Once, I broke my silence. Expressed my confusion on a current Media to-do. I sincerely wanted to understand and said as much, asking commenters to keep it civil.

From that, I had a “friend” explode on me. It was crazy. She unleashed her anger on me over a slew of subjects that had nothing to do with my post, and before I could even figure out what had gone wrong, she unfriended me. And I don’t just friend anyone on Facebook. This was someone I knew well. Someone I truly considered to be a friend. It made me sad.

More thinking ensued, and in the end, I determined that I can’t avoid discussion forever. But I refuse to let others dictate my behavior. As such, I have come up with three rules of conduct for social media:

1. Treat others the way you would want to be treated (the Golden Rule, yo).

This means you gotta show respect. People will have different opinions than yours, but going all kinds of piranha-crazy-fish on them isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. When someone can express their views passionately yet respectfully, I’m much more likely to listen. 

2. Let your work gel before hitting “send.”

Does what you are typing really need to be said? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Let it sit for a few hours and see if you still feel that responding to something is the best choice. But ask yourself: What am I accomplishing with this tweet/facebook post/response/social-media-message-of-choice? Are you really convincing others of something, or are you speaking to dead air? Are you venting, or are you defending something that needs defending? Time gives better perspective.

3. Accept that you cannot possibly please everyone.

No matter how nicely you say something, you will find people who just don’t want to hear what you have to say. People have their own reasons for doing what they do. I’ve found people ready to be offended at nothing. We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. But if we are respectful in what we say on social media, try to consider other’s points-of-view, well, in my book we will be happier.

What suggestions do you have for engaging in social media debates?


“The Butler” and Standing Up for What You Believe

Jun 16, 2014 Uncategorized 5 comments

This weekend I finally saw Lee Daniel’s The Butler. Yes, yes,
I’m behind in the movie-going world, but that’s what you get when you have 3
kids and a husband still in training. (Let’s just say the medical path is a long one, my
friends).

But getting back to the point, this movie had me all over
the emotional chart. You read about the civil rights movement, and the events
and the horrors, but it’s different seeing it a bit closer. So much courage! So
much patience. I am in awe of Martin Luther King Jr. and his conviction and
understanding of how to change people’s minds. He and Dumbledore would get
along great, because the answer really is LOVE. And the world desperately needs
more men and women like him.

But I digress. There is so much I could say about this
movie, but I won’t. I’m choosing to focus on one aspect. One aspect that is the
main theme, but I feel gets buried a bit by the end.

You see, the movie does this amazing job of showing the parallel
lives of Mr. Cecil Gaines and his son, Louis. Cecil is a butler at the Whitehouse.
Louis is a Freedom Rider who takes part in the sit-in at Woolworths, and other infamous
events.

Louis is out doing. He is fighting for his freedom, and for
the freedoms of all African-Americans. He is brave. He sacrifices his time, his
safety, and even his family for what he believes. And he suffers. Countless
stints in jail. Beatings. Every time he stands up in protest, he risks death.
In short, he is a hero. Very obviously. No question.

And then there is Cecil. He does not fight. He plays the
role that society expects of him. Subservient. Soft-spoken. Not allowed to
express political views at the risk of losing his job. He is paid less than
white men doing the same job, but doesn’t even dare express discontent about
that (at least at first). In short he fears. Fears for his life. Fears for his
son’s life. And yet . . .

And yet, he is a noble figure. In his own way he is fighting,
too. It is not obvious. It is not brazen. But he is fighting, and his influence
is felt. At one point Louis speaks of his father with Martin Luther King, Jr.. Louis
has been ashamed of his father his whole life, but Dr. King responds with this:

“Young brother, the black domestic defy racial
stereotype about being hard working and trustworthy. It slowly tears down
racial hatred because it’s an example of a strong work ethic and dignified
character. Now while we perceive the butler to be mainly subservient, in many
ways they are subversive, without even knowing it.”

In short, Cecil is more powerful than either of them
realized. Cecil’s honest decency. His care and concern for others regardless of
their personal views. He influenced people. He changed them.

There are so many parallels to this story in today’s world.
We are called on to stand up for what we believe in (whatever that may be).
Sometimes we think there is only one way to do that. That we must fight. We
must be brazen heroes like Louis, with courage that is obvious.

But quiet heroism. Love for others. Treating others kindly,
even when you know their views diametrically oppose yours. That is power, too.

**Don’t forget to enter for (link–>) a chance to win a Pre-order of RED BUTTERFLY**