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Avengers X Hamilton

After the success of my Avengers + Taylor Swift post, I decided to pair my favorite heroes with some of my other favorite lyrics. For some reason, these turned way more serious than the T Swift ones.

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Thank you, Rick Walton

The news comes through Facebook. Rick Walton has passed away. This isn’t surprising. Last year Rick was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After an initial surgery, the tumor returned, leaving no more treatment options.

For those of you who don’t know, Rick Walton was the author of over a hundred picture books. He taught writing and publishing courses at BYU. And to me, he was a mentor.

Rick was the first person who made me feel that I could turn my love of words into a career. He taught me that the road to publication is twisted and full of (mostly) fun detours. That it was okay if reaching your dreams took time, as long as you kept writing.

But the most important thing I learned from Rick was not how to get a book published. The most important thing I learned from Rick was how to leave the world a better place than I found it.

Rick was a dreamer. He was always talking about his Next Big Idea. His enthusiasm was contagious, and it made you want to hit the ground running to work on your Next Big Idea.

He was the type of person who believed that we were all better off when we stuck together. He was a builder of community. He was generous and supported everyone within his sizable scope of influence.

A few summers ago I was attending a writing conference (which I was only able to attend thanks to a referral from Rick) where Rick was honored for his efforts. The emcee asked everyone who had been influenced by Rick to stand. Over half the auditorium stood.

That’s the kind of person Rick was, and the kind of person I’d like to be.

On my desk, I have a note from the mother of one of the students I tutor, thanking me for helping her daughter with writing. In my inbox, I have a message from a former editing client telling me that ten literary agents have requested to see her work. I get to spend my days teaching college freshmen that they can, in fact, write and write well.

And I think Rick would be happy that I get to spend all my time putting words on paper and helping others do the same.

Thank you Rick, for helping me believe that I could be a writer. Thank you for teaching me to lift those around me. One day I hope I can say I’ve inspired half as many people as you have.

In the mean time, I’ll just keep writing.

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That Time I Fell in Love

Walking home from school the other day, I realized I was happy. Really happy. Giddy happy. A little bounce in my step happy. I’m practically dancing down the sidewalk to the song stuck in my head (or as I like to think of it, the soundtrack to the movie of my life). Today’s selection is Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and my brain is blasting it at top volume.

I recognize this feeling. This is what it feels like to fall in love.

Before you get too excited, let me clarify that I’m not seeing anybody. I don’t even have somebody I’m trying to date. The romantic feeling taking me over has nothing to do with a boy.

In my mind, I rewind to the girl I was three years ago. That Kyra would hardly recognize or understand the Kyra I am today, the one who’s dancing in the streets.

Three years ago I was suffering from clinical depression. Getting out of bed in the morning was a struggle. Forget about falling in love, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was completely paralyzed emotionally.

But with time and a lot of love from friends, family, and God, I got better.

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Awhile back there was a trending tag on Twitter called #depressiontaughtme. The stories there are haunting and beautiful. I added my own: Depression taught me empathy.

My depression and the painful recovery process that accompanied it taught me more about suffering than all of my previous life experience combined. I truly believe that this increased perspective has made me a better listener, a better supporter, and a better friend.

What I’ve only recently realized is that my depression has made me a happier person.

Not at the time, certainly. I was anything but happy then. But in the time that’s followed, I’ve felt true joy.

It isn’t that my life is perfect. It’s not, and there are things that I would change if I could. But my life is so much better than it was three years ago that it’s almost impossible for me not to feel happy and grateful.

Because when you spend that much time in the darkness, even a little light feels like it can illuminate your whole world.

This kind of happiness is special because it doesn’t depend on circumstance. It isn’t contingent on getting good grades or having a good hair day or being asked out by your crush.

This kind of happiness is just there and it’s yours for the taking.

It’s there because you now realize that life isn’t so bad even when it’s not great.

It’s there because there are people in the world who love you just the way you are.

It’s there because you finally know that you can do hard things.

It’s there because you’re Kyra Nelson and you deserve to be happy and fall in love.

You get to fall in love with laughter and friendship and hard work. You get to fall in love with meteor showers and red velvet cupcakes and poetry. You get to fall in love with life.

Perhaps most importantly, you get to fall in love with yourself. Just with being yourself and doing all the things you do.

And that’s a pretty special feeling. I think I just might put it in my pocket and save it for a rainy day.

Super Ladies Need Super BFFs

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I’ve been fascinated by super heroes since the Super Friends watching days of my childhood. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that the world of superheroes was a rough place for a girl.

There are so many ways I could talk about the mistreatment of super women, but for the scope of this post I’m only going to discuss one: numbers.

Look at the poster for any of the recent superhero movie posters. You’ll notice that best case scenario, female characters are outnumbered 2:1 and more commonly 5:1.

I didn’t used to be so bothered by this. Sure, it was annoying. But as long as the token female was super cool (I’m looking at you, Black Widow) it was sort of okay. But more and more I find myself dissatisfied with the “token female” approach. I’m starting to see the need for superhero movies and tv shows that pass the Bechdel Test.

To pass the Bechdel Test, the show in question must depict two female characters having a conversation with each other about something other than a man. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three qualifying movies in the entire Marvel franchise (Jane and Darcy in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, Gamora and Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy). Maybe I’ve missed some, but it took me a few minutes to even come up with those. The point is, girl/girl conversation in Marvel are scarce.

But why exactly is this harmful? The first problem with the heavily skewed male ratios of most superhero shows is that they suggest that extraordinary men are a dime a dozen but extraordinary women truly are rare.

This doesn’t even make sense to me, since I struggle to think of any plausible reason men would be more likely to obtain super powers on a statistically significant level. But these skewed ratios are so prevalent that we start to subconsciously accept this idea that men are more likely to be super than women. That’s why the idea of an all male team or almost all male team seems normal to us but the idea of an all or almost all female team seems radical.We can’t even seem to get a female solo movie, forget a whole team of female supers.

Token femaleship also doesn’t allow for a variety personalities, either. What’s even more problematic is that you’ll notice all the token female characters start to look very similar. They all have a certain type of personality, a personality that reflects more stereotypically masculine characteristics. This seems to suggest that female characters can only be strong if they act like men.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with female characters who have more masculine personality traits. But only having strong females with these traits sends the message that women can’t be strong acting like women. They have to act like men to be strong.

We need more diversity in this regard. Give me girls who are super perky, cutesy, quirky, or nurturing and can also beat up bad guys. Don’t send the message that girly is weak. Strong male characters don’t all look and act alike. Strong female characters shouldn’t either.

Furthermore, movies or shows with only one prominent female character do not provide opportunities to show women working together. Steve and Bucky set serious friendship goals. Who’s setting the friendship goals for girls? They exist, but they’re not on the big screen.

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Peggy and Angie: The first female friendship duo I found in the world of live action super heroes.

We need role models to teach girls that female friendships can be powerful. That relationships between girls can be important. That they can accomplish more when they work together.

Let us see how strong we are as a team.

I’ll leave you with a few examples of female friendships that we do have. Let’s see more like these, please. (Bonus points to those that feature POC or body type diversity)

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Taylor Swift meets Marvel

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You know what they say. If you love something, turn it into a weird mashup with something else you love. Or something like that.

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Adventures of the Week 5/15/16

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Frozen Vegetable Mishaps

I got a call this week from the grocery store saying that I’d purchased some vegetables that were being recalled. Unfortunately, I’d already eaten the vegetables when I received the call. So if I die of listeria, I guess you’ll all know why. It’s just dumb because chocolate would never have done something like that to me.

Murder Mystery

I got to go to a 30s themed murder mystery party. Which is great because I always like to feel justified in the time I waste watching vintage hair tutorials. Which ended up being useless anyway because I wore a hat. At any rate, a murder mystery can be a great way to meet new people and never be able to remember their real name ever again.

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My costume. Don’t regret the hat, even if it did cover my fabulous hair.

I reread some old FaceBook statuses

I have this reputation for being funny on FaceBook. But as it turns out, that was not always the case. This week I delved deep into my timeline and started reading some old statuses. Which lead me to wonder how I had any friends at all in high school.

Some 2008 Statuses:

  • Kyra needs more yarn!!!!
  • Kyra Nelson really hates math! And Chad!
  • Kyra Nelson needs to read up on John Locke’s social contract
  • Kyra Nelson is just kinda discontent with life at the moment.
  • Kyra Nelson thinks loyalties are important even if they strangle you to death
  • Kyra Nelson was humiliated by her math teacher yesterday
  • Kyra Nelson just discovered something…so now what?
  • Kyra Nelson just finished another hat
  • Kyra Nelson needs to reconsider
  • Kyra Nelson just can’t ignore the gorilla standing in the corner the way everybody else seems to be able to.

Not sure if that last one was literal or if I meant elephant or was just super angsty that day or…?

I did come across one update in which I expressed a desire for windshield wipers that moved in time with your music and that is actually a pretty good idea.

Taylor Swift lyrics of the week: “And I know it’s long gone and there was nothing else I could do. And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to.”

Where I Was, Where I Am

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Beacon Hill

That’s me. I’m on top of Beacon Hill, and I feel like I’m on top of the world. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as alive as I did the moment that picture was taken. I was high on life during the following weeks as I toured the British Isles. I felt like, finally, my life was turning out exactly the way I thought it should.

Then I returned to the real world. I realized that I had a lot of things I had been running from and suddenly they were catching up to me.

I snapped. The year that followed was without a doubt the worst year of my life. I was dealing with depression that I should have gotten professional help for but didn’t. I was having a hard time connecting with people. I pushed them away. I burned bridges.

A lot of people think depression is sadness, but for me it felt more like apathy. Towards everything and everyone. Being sad would have actually been a relief because at the time I was incapable of feeling anything at all. That’s a terrifying feeling. To look around and realize you don’t care. You can’t care. And if you can’t care, then what’s the point of anything?

I don’t remember when or how things started to get better, but I mostly attribute it to the angels, seen and unseen, in my life. Little by little, a miracle took place. I started healing.

The healing process is a strange thing. It’s bumpy and uneven, and I’m not sure I’m totally done healing from the things I experienced that year. Some days I still feel like I’m trying to rearrange the broken pieces of who I was before into the image of the girl I want to be now.

My life hasn’t turned out like I thought it would. I fully expected to meet Prince Charming as an undergrad at BYU and become a stay-at-home mother to five children who’s names all began with the letter e. I didn’t plan to get a PhD. I wasn’t even considering getting my MA.

Somedays I just look at my life and I’m really confused because I hadn’t anticipated any of this. I get terrible imposter syndrome and I always think there must be people more qualified to do the things I’m doing. Almost on a daily basis I find myself puzzling over how I ended up where I am.

That doesn’t mean for one second I’m sorry to be here.

When you’re going through a hard time, people tell you it will get better. And it will get better. And then it will get worse again. And most of the time things will somehow be getting better and worse simultaneously.

I’ve finally decided what I want to be when I grow up. Now I’m figuring out who I want to be. It’s a work in progress. But I’m feeling optimistic.