Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jumping Jacks

I've got a concept for a TV show! This is what the reviews will say when it comes out:

"Jumping Jacks" is a quirky program packed full of personality. It follows the lives of 6 teenagers; Ashley, Camille, Livy, Calvin, Carter, and Brandon. The pilot episode establishes the characters as they cope with their friends' graduation, leaving them behind.

Ashley is a spirited firecracker, always in for a laugh or a good time. That intensity can be turned against her when she is faced with drama or disappointments. She is an unknowing flirt, and that sometimes can get her into trouble.

Camille is the blond beauty. She is sweet and looks out for her friends. She is the oldest of the group, and yet is the one who claims to have no idea how to how to talk to boys, although they admire her anyway. She can play a handful of sports very well also. If we didn't love her, we'd be so jealous of her.

Livy is a dork who loves history and writing. She loves the stage and anything British. She sometimes enjoys taking a step back and just watching the rest of the group interact. She hates seeing anyone of her friends hurt, and can be the momma bear if necessary. She also is one who loves giving advice, although sometimes the group doesn't really want it.

Calvin is the mathematical genius of the group. He can calculate numbers in his head in a flash. He seems quiet, and for parts of the episode, you start to forget he's there. Then, out of the blue, he'll give a one-liner that leaves your sides aching, and you realize why you couldn't live without him.

Carter is a heartthrob. (Look out teen population of America!) He is a total flirt, but not a jerk. Sometimes, he surprises with another dimension to his character, such as revealing that he performs Shakespeare or listens to the boy band that all the tween girls are obsessed with. Still, he's a boy's boy, tackling the other guys or frequently calling people "boob", and then giving this little smile he can't hold back.

Lastly, Brandon is the best friend that every girl wishes for. He listens, asks for advice, and knows how to have fun. He always wears his heart on his sleeve, which can sometimes lead to drama. We predict that Brandon will have a huge following as well. We foresee a "Team Carter". "Team Brandon", and "Team Calvin" type battle in the very near future.

We found it interesting that the kids are never shown in a high school. They will refer to "classes" or "homework", but never talk about their school sports teams or rivalries. The group is very musical, with Calvin and Ashley playing the piano, Brandon playing guitar, Carter plays the bass, and the girls sing. All of the kids - except Calvin - participate in a community theatre program that they mention. We hope that there will be an episode or two showing us that side of them!

The relationships between each of the kids are interesting and complex. Although they love each other dearly, the very real sisterhood between Livy and Ashley sometimes leads to conflict and competitiveness. The "will they, won't they?" back and forth of Ashley and Brandon. The continuing flirtation between Carter and Camille. (Although they are the youngest and oldest of the group. We don't see that going anywhere.) It goes on and on.

The choice of "Lights" by Ellie Goulding for the theme song was an interesting one, although we approve after watching the show. The feeling of being part of a group of kids gives this show an addicting quality. We can't wait to see where "Jumping Jacks" will take us!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reality is a Lovely Place

Why do I love reading?? Well, I've always had an overactive imagination. I've always been able to take a situation and run with it in my head. This is a blessing and a curse. I can conjure up pretty much anything, and is a lot of fun! I can see the positive outcomes to a seemingly bleak situation, and see possible solutions. It makes being in theatre really fun, too. Downsides: Sometimes I get lost in my head. I can sit quietly for a veeeery long time. People don't understand where I'm coming from sometimes, because it's so out there. I become attached to fiction - a book, movie, person I've created. It reminds me of Beatrice Potter, who wrote Peter Rabbit. She called her characters her friends. The worst is when someone I know in my Imagi Nation is an awful lot like someone I know in real life. Then, I see the possibilities of who they can become, or who I'd like them to be.

Have you ever been to Disney World? Or had a great show run? Or gone on an epic vacation? Or had an awesome summer? Remember that feeling you had when whatever it was ended? That feeling of emptiness or disappointment is what I feel EVERY STINKING TIME I READ A BOOK. It's deep and personal, and it's like a good friend has just moved away, or we had a falling out. That feeling that you just need to give them a last hug before they leave, but you can't. (I definitely can't, because... they're not... real.)

....And then they turn the book into a movie. It happens all over again. It's almost worse if the actor looks at all like I imagined the character. This is the case with The Hunger Games. I fell in love with Peeta Mellark the moment he stepped up next to Katniss at the Reaping. It got worse as I continued reading all three books. I just always felt close to him. I could see us walking around District 12 or Rockville Town Center... Me giving him advice on how to deal with Katniss, him giving me cookies and great hugs. Is that terrible? It's probably because Peeta reminds me of several of my friends rolled into one amazing guy. It definitely doesn't help that Josh Hutcherson is attractive. 
It's awesome to be able to put yourself into a story so effectively. The Hunger Games was really fun and heart wrenching to read. I had a lot of fun as a kid. I could see these super complex stories to play with my friends. We had plot lines that took us to pirate ships, farms, zoos, kingdoms, and a whole town we invented in our basement (That was inspired by this book).

I never wish my imagination was less than it is. I look around, and see that I live in a society where imagination is celebrated when it produces something great. Otherwise, can be stunted or stimulated at a young age by the movies and television we push on them. Some kids just cannot use their imagination. Other can see the world movies presents them and beyond. My imagination hasn't created anything "great", but it has created a few characters I've played, the games I played as a kid, and everything I write. I'm just curious to see the movies they'll make and the books they'll write in 25, 50, 65 years. What characters will I be introduced to? What friends will I make?

I guess we'll just have to see... But I will continue to quote my hero Adam Young: Reality is a lovely place, but...

I wouldn't want to live there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Beauty Secret from a Boy

I had an experience the other day. I was sitting there, talking to one of my guy friends, and he suddenly said something that surprised me. He said, "(Name of girl) is getting less pretty." It came out of nowhere. This guy is one of the sweetest young men I know. Plus, he was talking about a girl who I think is very pretty. I've often wished that I looked more like her. Now, when I responded with a startled "What?", he explained. "Her countenance. Her countenance has totally changed. She used to be a pretty good-looking girl, but she's changed. Countenance is at least 20% of a girl's attractiveness."

Wow. This was coming from a young man I totally respect. He has high standards and is a good example to me. His opinion is one I value. Countenance is at least a FIFTH of a girl's attractiveness?! Dude. This isn't something that I read in a book or heard in a conference talk. This is something that was said to me by a worthy priesthood holder. If that isn't enough reason to carry yourself with confidence, than I'm not sure what else you need.

What is this "countenance?" says that a countenance is "someone's face or expression." In Mormonland, it means something more along the lines of "spirit" or (I hate to say it) "aura". We believe that every single person is born with the "light of Christ", or what the world calls a "conscience" or "moral compass". It's a guide to prompt people do the things that are right. By the actions we take, we can either brighten or dull the light of Christ within each of us. (P.S. The Holy Spirit is a constant companion to those who have entered into a covenant with Christ, not to be confused with the light of Christ.) When you see someone who has done something good or joyful, people may describe their looks as "glowing". THAT's their countenance.

Simply put, you can see someone's spiritual health in their countenance. It's that light in their eye and the sparkle in their easy smile. Of course, that doesn't mean we should go around judging people by how glittery their eyes are. You can tell when someone is happy and following the commandments of God. My friend is one of these people who is trying his best to do what he needs to. He is a teenage boy, so of course physical beauty is a factor in a girl's attractiveness, as well as how fun the person is, and how well they can actually converse. But at LEAST a fifth of a girl's attractiveness is what Sister Dalton calls "deep beauty".

"I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants."

Wow! As young women, we are always told to look for a worthy priesthood holder, a spiritual partner, for a husband. We want a husband who can see our deep beauty, because that means he loves us for all of us, inside and out, what we are and who we can become. In order to attract that kind of boy, we have to do the things listed by Sister Dalton. She continues:

"The world places so much emphasis on physical attractiveness and would have you believe that you are to look like the elusive model on the cover of a magazine. The Lord would tell you that you are each uniquely beautiful. When you are virtuous, chaste, and morally clean, your inner beauty glows in your eyes and in your face. My grandfather used to say, “If you live close to God and His infinite grace—you won’t have to tell, it will show in your face.” When you are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you are confident and your inner beauty shines brightly. And so “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”

There's our countenance we were talking about. It's true what they say about inner beauty. Your potential is divine and royal. Those young men whom you wish to spend time with will recognize that, and help you develop it. You, in return, will be a motivation and support for their development. They will agree with Sister Dalton when she said:

"Develop deep beauty. There is no more beautiful sight than a young woman who glows with the light of the Spirit, who is confident and courageous because she is virtuous."

Click HERE for a great video using a lot of the quotes I used, as well as a link to the full talk.

Think about it.

(Credit where credit is due: Elaine S. Dalton "Remember Who You Are!" April 2010. And of course, to my wonderful friend who inspired me to write this piece. Thanks, kiddo.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Things I Think, But Don't Have the Guts to Say....

- I wish you'd at least try to change. I love you, and I know what you're capable of. This behavior only leads to dead ends. Please stop. I'll help you change.

- You are one of the most amazing people I've ever known. I think you're fantastic. Stop letting people rip on you. You are priceless. God loves you.

- I wish I could change your past. I wish that those things that happened to you hadn't happened. You were so young, and it's not fair. I know that Heavenly Father loves you, even though we call Him by different names.

- We are like sisters. We really are. We fight and annoy each other like pros. But we're like sisters. We laugh and love each other more than most people can understand. Know that when I am obnoxious and tell you what to do, it's because I love you. I see what you can become, and I want to help you get there. Thanks for taking my advice. Thanks for giving your advice. Sorry for being a brat sometimes. I forgive you for being a brat sometimes. :) I love you, my dear.

- Now, don't let awkward past feelings get in the way of a good friendship. You are definitely one of my best friends, and I understand you WAAAAY better than you think I do. I'm sorry if I was annoying to you during the last few weeks, but - come on. Really? You thought that was a good idea? And then telling me about it the way you did? No, man. Bad plan. Still, I think you're awesome and I have very high respect for you. You said "comfortable," and I agree. Let's keep it that way.

- I am SO GRATEFUL God sent you into my life. I love you so much. You are someone who I can relate to and learn from, and help you grow too. It is a very satisfying friendship, for that, and for all the silly stuff we do. :) I hope one day we WILL have a photographer follow us around taking pictures of all the cute stuff we do.

- You, my friend, are someone I haven't quite figured out. People tell me it's because you're too simple for me to understand. Lame, but possibly true. I'm not sure you even know that you hurt me a while back, but I'm not mad at you. You never meant to hurt me. Actually, I know you were trying to do the opposite. I know you were trying to give me space to do whatever made me happy. But, myself aside, learn to fight. Don't give up so easily on this one, ok?

- I'm so glad we're starting to be friends! I've always thought you seemed super fun, but our different circles never really met.... Until now. Hold on, buddy - this is going to be a BLAST.

- I'm so glad that you're only kind of leaving next year. If you were full-on moving away, I might die. I love you so much, you dork. You are one of the people who understands me, and I love that. You are quirky and adorable. I don't know who else would listen to me rant and rave about Red Scarf and Bird Town, and then give their opinion too. I'm looking forward to next year. :)

- Hey you. I think you're pretty awesome. You are one of my best friends. I love hanging out with you. You always make me smile. Thanks for putting up with me when I'm annoying or being a total girl. It's payback, I guess, for having to put up with your nonsense. Thanks for seeking out moments when you can just talk to me - that means the world to me. I miss you when you're MIA. Don't forget the real world when you're traveling through your imagination. I guess all I can say now is.... Whatever.

- You are not alone. I know you feel that way sometimes, but you have SOOO many people who love you, including the Creator of the universe. Don't let your past dictate your present and future. You are who you choose to become. I love you, babe.

- You, my dear, are a very special young lady. You have artistic talents that I envy. Keep up the good work. Remember to say no, but don't always shirk your calling. I believe that God has put people into your life that He knows you can minister to. I thank you on their behalf. He loves you, I love you, they love you. I think of you often.

- You two are the ones that keep me writing. Thanks for your constant support and encouragement to keep writing. Sometimes I feel like my blog is a waste of time or that nobody reads it, and then one of you will make a remark to me about my last post. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You make me feel like the things I write have an impact. I owe most of these posts to you. Pick one you like, and it's yours. :) I love you.