Skip to main content

What's Behind the Mask?


I've lived in one or two neighborhoods where women set a pretty high bar for beauty and outward appearance. It's an unwritten, unspoken expectation that we need to look a certain way, or that the homes need to be "just so," or that the people in them need to be well dressed or well mannered or well... Well, they need to be practically perfect in every way.

Well, I'm not a trophy wife. My husband works really hard at his job and I work really hard at home full time, but sometimes I intentionally dress like a hobo because I want to go against the grain.;) It takes a lot of courage to run around in Costco workout gear when surrounded by the latest in LuluLemon. I don't have fake eyelashes, I don't get my hair done every three months, I paint my own toenails, I shave my legs at least twice a week during the summer. ;) I don't have time or money for all that other stuff.

Recently I'm realizing that the battle between Barbie and Raggedy Ann is unnecessary. I've learned a lot in these eleven years of living in HOA neighborhoods. I've learned that beneath every false, fake facade is a person with a heart. I've learned that when I meet somebody who is beautiful and smart and kind and everything, that she might have a hidden wart that she never talks about. She might be shy but it comes across as aloof. 

One day many years ago, I was the new girl at the park in a beautiful cookie cutter neighborhood. There was a lovely view, the weather was great with lots of happy children making noise on the playground. Along came a cheerful young mommy with gorgeous blonde hair and two kids, and she was wearing turquoise high heels to a playdate. Let's switch to the present tense. My first thought might be: "Who does that?" But if I look a bit deeper, I might realize she has great fashion sense. Or I might begin to see that she's out of her element here because she used to work full time, but now isn't so sure about the trade she made, from business executive to no-glamour mommy. She might be intimidated by the other mommies at the park, the ones who already have friends to talk to, and who packed healthy snacks for everybody to munch on when she grabbed a bunch of Cheetos on her way out the door. Or she might still have one foot in the door of the work world and actually need to look nice for a lunch later on that day. Whatever the reason for the high heels at the park, did I really need to judge her? Just because I wore comfortable sandals didn't mean that my shoes were better or worse. Our different shoes meant that our stories were completely different. But all those years ago, I couldn't see that. They say that when we compare ourselves to others, one of two things happens: we come out bitter or better. Either way we lose. I don't want to be bitter because I think everybody around me has it all together when I'm a hot mess. And I don't want to be arrogant because I came out on top of the invisible comparison. Pride is a slippery slope.

The truth is, we're all running around with a bit of pretense. We're all trying to share our 'highlight reels' on social media. We all have 'deleted scenes' that we keep quiet, in the interest of loyalty to family or reluctance to share sorrow. We all have the desire to put our best foot forward.

Dorothy Corkville Briggs shares this great truth in her book Celebrate Your Self, "Facades can become so real that some of us lose touch with our real selves...The longer we play roles, the harder it is to let them go...Shedding the pretend layer is scary. It  means revealing who you're afraid you are...Masks and genuine intimacy are incompatible. Masking requires enormous energy and guardedness." (p. 118-120)

How do you survive a cookie cutter neighborhood? Well, you smile. Yay for a chance to see somebody's face when we cross paths outside! Next, you can wave to people, and learn their names. Be the first to show weakness or admit to being human. Once you open up about your own struggles, the other people are less intimidated and more likely to be real with you. How do I teach my beautiful daughter to see behind the mask? I teach her to look for the sparkle in somebody's eyes, or to notice the smile crinkles at the corners of the eye. How do I teach her that it's okay to be real and okay to be imperfect? I teach her that it's a lot more fun to serve other people than to sit here worrying about myself all day.


Popular posts from this blog

Leaving Utah

Norm and I are at a crossroads.  It's time for our family to take the next step.  But first a quick trip down memory lane. We first came to Utah sixteen years ago.  We were young and cute and pregnant with baby #1.  Norm had been accepted as a student.  I had a lot of fun during my first two years of college, and I imagine the admissions board looked at my transcript and said something like, "yeah right!"  (More details about getting a D in organ lessons over  here .) So my first BYU application was rejected.  They let me attend classes as a visiting student, and one day an admissions officer called my phone.  It was a landline, and we were living in BYU married student housing.  He had two questions for me:  Is your husband a full time student?  Yes.  And you live on  campus?  Yes.  End of interview.  A few days later I got my acceptance letter. We finally graduated together in 2004. We bought our first home in Lehi, not too far from Willow Creek middle schoo


  These four books are either written by or about some of my favorite authors of all time. Isaiah , Prophet, Seer and Poet, by Victor Ludlow. One semester during college we did a deep dive into this poet's literary works found in the Old Testament. Someday if I get bored, I want to learn Hebrew and read his stuff in the original language. Neal A Maxwell  is another favorite writer. My favorite book that he's written is called All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, and is a masterpiece on human suffering and why it's necessary in the refining process. Highly recommend. The first time I read through it, it took about a year because I could only digest about a paragraph a day. believe  is such a fantastic collection of quotes on hope. Love it. Eliza  The Life and Faith of Eliza R Snow, by Karen Lynn Davidson and Jill Mulvay Derr. I love this lady so much and she's my favorite poet and pioneer woman. This biography is beautifully written. My favorite poem or quote by

2021 Christmas Card

December 2021  Dear Friends and Family, We love you and and miss y'all that are far away in WA and UT and other places!! This year we skipped our tradition of sending a Thanksgiving card and opted for a virtual Christmas card instead. It saved a ton of stamps and envelopes, but I definitely miss the glitter and sparkle. We hope you can feel our love even through a simple email or blog post. One tradition we couldn't skip was our gratitude tree, where the little leaves are a list of blessings. We are so thankful for God's goodness and mercy every day. Here's the highlight reel:  Cade graduated, made lots of Domino's pizza, read probably a thousand books, and is currently living in Provo, UT as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's heading to Helsinki, Finland in January. We are so proud of him and his hard work, we miss him but are excited for his opportunity to learn and serve. Shad spent a zillion hours with Marcus Ban

Thorns and gifts

We've been reading in the New Testament as a family lately, and Paul has some great advice and counsel that's still applicable today.  In his letter to the church in Corinth, he talks about a thorn in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. It's kind of a moot point to speculate what Paul's particular thorn might have been, but I've often wondered. More importantly: what is God's purpose in giving his children such difficult stuff to learn? Why does life have to be so hard?

One More Syllable

It's been a year. One year ago we moved to Texas. One year ago I started asking people to call me Kristina instead of Kristy, thus adding one more syllable to my name. August is our anniversary. Last year we celebrated that anniversary by adding a cool new memory. That day we drove up to our house, found the keys and walked inside with the kids. We spent the night in our house without any stuff. Isn't it funny how places seem bigger when they're unfurnished? And that pool in the backyard? We knew nothing about pools and maintenance but just jumped in carefree. It was great. It was like being in a hotel but with room for everybody to spread out. Maybe it's time to explain the name change. For me, I had decided before moving to Texas that I wanted to quit using Kristy as my nickname. It served me well for many years and I still like it, but it's mainly for simplicity. When I'd first meet somebody, maybe I'd mumble or maybe I don't speak clearly enou

Twenty + One Month

You know how life gets kinda messy sometimes? My version of messy looks like this: Four kids including a teenager learning to drive; a kindergartner learning to get herself ready in the morning; a senior learning about adulting; a middle schooler learning to ride her bike to electives every other day, a mortgage husband's career VIRTUAL PLUS church service pandemic, civil unrest, election year my own personal need for friends and connection even when my schedule looks like a revolving door Our big anniversary was last month and we were lucky enough to celebrate together this past weekend. We managed to sneak away for 24 hours. First I need to give credit where credit is due. There was a very generous friend who volunteered to parent the children during our 'Nelson marriage offsite.' And there was a generous benefactor who donated Marriott points to spring for the fancy room. I won't mention either party by name, but thanks to their generosity we had a great time. I'

Meek Warhorse

Norm's last church talk/sermon in Utah before moving to Texas July 2018, Lehi UT, Traverse Mountain 8th Ward Hello brothers and sisters, it’s my privilege to speak to you today.  I guess this is our good-bye address even though we haven’t moved yet, which I’m taking as a personal sign that the bishopric can’t wait for the next family to move in.  (that was a joke, guys) In my remarks today, I’m going to cover an alternative definition of meekness that really struck a chord with me.  Once I’ve introduced this idea, I’m going to share my supporting argument for meekness as a strength, and then I’m going to talk about how I believe we can develop this form of meekness in our lives. As Kristy told you, our topic is “being meek and lowly of heart” which, in the terms I normally think of meekness or lowliness, is a subject that does not come naturally to me.  I am not naturally what I consider to be meek, quiet or, as Kristy would tell you, all that well behaved.  While I

It doesn't matter where you live, but how...

Thoughts on Houses This is my first post from Texas.  The blog lives on.  August was a whirlwind, September we started settling in, and now it's October.  Most of the boxes are unpacked.  Just last week I found the box that had cookbooks in it, and that makes me pretty happy.  I still haven't made whole wheat bread or cookies since we got here, but maybe I'll do that soon. We spent a lot of time this summer thinking about houses, getting ready to sell our house in Traverse Mountain (in Lehi, on the northern edge of Utah County), and brainstorming on what we'd need in a house in Texas. On the way to Texas, we drove south through Colorado and spent the night at Mesa Verde.  We found the Far View Lodge inside the park and stayed up high on the mesa.  The night sky was pitch black away from the city lights, and the weather was at least ten degrees cooler up high.  I loved it.  The next morning we learned a lot about the Native Americans who lived there.  A man ga

How Controlling Are You?

Life is like Mario Kart. In the early levels, you're driving through Moo Moo Meadows and the grass is green and there's cows and fields and it's lovely. There's an occasional banana peel that gets tossed in the path, and sometimes the cows walk in the road so you try not to hit them. But overall the driving is pretty mellow.  Then later after you've unlocked other levels, there's stuff like Bowser's Castle. It's a maze with lava on both sides of the path, there's fire and brimstone all around, there's stone columns that try to smash you at random intervals. Just to know where to go and how to steer and stay on the path is complicated. Some stages of life are like Moo Moo Meadows. The details are easy-peasy and you just keep moving right along. And then there are years like Bowser's Castle where it's pretty intense and you pray a lot because the fire around you is pretty hot and you're trying not to fall in the lava pit.  During years

Happy Fall Y'all

Over the past year I've noticed a lot of fun and interesting things about Texas.  Call it culture shock or assimilation, but here's an outsider's view of my new home. Obviously I like saying "y'all," and I find it quite handy. From the vocabulary to the climate, from the school traditions to the local hotspots, I'm enjoying this new land even if I poke a little fun at some of the quirks. One of my favorite things about Texas is the people.  They are  nice.  The general default mode is to show kindness, warmth and hospitality. People go out of their way to help each other. I've seen this over and over again. The foundation of this town is built on people who are genuinely decent and friendly.  Language:  I love the west Texas drawl (or is it east Texas?).   At the elementary school, the sweet secretary lady is the nicest. When my son delivered something to his sister one day, she said, "Thank you baby," in a motherly, sweet way.