Moana: A Review

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Welp, Moana has been out since 23 November and I’m just seeing it (life of a parent, amirite?). Not only have I seen it, I’ve seen it twice. Cause it’s that good.

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Disney. I grew up on Aladdin, Mulan, Beauty & the Beast (EEE! March 17 can’t come fast enough), and The Little Mermaid. I spent my childhood singing the songs and dreaming of a life of adventure and love, just like the Disney Princesses.

But as I got older, I saw some of the disappointing flaws that plague the Disney line. You know what I’m talking about. The white-washing, the reinforced gender roles, and some questionable choices about teenage weddings. So I was 100% on board with a new Disney movie with a non-white main character, one who didn’t have a love interest. Now as someone who adores a good love story, I thought I’d be a little disappointed.

I was not. Not even a little.

Moana is the story of a Pacific island chieftain’s daughter–not a princess, the main character explicitly states–who isn’t content with the life that has been planned for her. Even though her expected role is island life governing a village, she is suddenly thrust into an adventure that takes her out into the open ocean. While sometimes she reacts to the story, Moana drives her own life. She is a heroine, not a prize. Despite the males that constantly underestimate her, Moana excels.

And I love it for that. She isn’t competing with another woman for love, she isn’t pitted against some evil witch, and she’s not a side character for some male protagonist’s story. She is her own. It’s wonderful.

And that isn’t the only great thing about this movie. Have you heard the music? Pairing traditional music for the Pacific islands with Disney’s full orchestra, there is a little something for everyone. How Far I’ll Go” rivals Frozen‘s “Let It Go” as an inspirational ballad. Jemaine Clement cameos for a creepy song about exterior beauty in “Shiny.” And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson injects the perfect amount of smugness into “You’re Welcome,” which constantly reminded me of this:

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And as much as I am ignorant in other cultures, I did notice some hat tips towards Pacific island culture. Like the Haka War Dance and the islanders’ tattoos. While many consider this minor, these small gestures 1) teach those of us who don’t know about these things and 2) gives representation to those who belong to those cultures. We white, middle-class, Christian folk take for granted that we see ourselves everywhere. For our Canadian friends who don’t belong in that same grouping, I imagine that it’s refreshing to see themselves for once.

I can’t pretend that this movie doesn’t have its problematic moments, though I will need to see it at least three more times to really go through all its messages. Oh dang.

Overall, though, I’d definitely see it if I were you. It’s funny, it’s beautiful, and it’s got Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Three 5 star reasons if there ever were any.

 

Have you seen it? What’d you think? Let me know!

 

Carry On, Warrior: A Review

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As you’ve noticed in in my bullet journal, I’ve been trying to read more books this year. Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton was the second book I chose to read.

The story of how I found this book is interesting. A couple of months ago, one of the trends on my Facebook page was this author’s name. The tag line said, “Prolific Christian author comes out as gay!” I’m ashamed to admit that the attitude with which I clicked on the link wasn’t a positive one. As I moved my mouse to the link, I felt a sense of smug satisfaction. Ah yes, turns out that another holier-than-thou is just like the rest of us. I wondered if she had ever preached about the evils of homosexuality and if she regretted it now.

I know, not the best attitude.

But I don’t regret clicking on the article because I started researching who this woman was and she wasn’t the person I had expected. She still spoke about the unending grace and mercy of God, how important her children were, and how this new identity fit within faith. She wasn’t defensive at all. So I followed her on Twitter because I wanted to know about this person. And her tweets were often encouragements to other mothers or speaking out for the weak or reminders that God loves us. There was something… different about this woman.

So I asked for any of her books for Christmas and Brian bought me this one. And let me tell you, it was like she had transcribed my own heart and read it back to me. Her past is filled with struggles with drugs, alcohol, sex, and loneliness. She’s unapologetically honest about each thing and then reminds us that she is still a child of God, she is still unequivocally loved. No matter her past, her present, her future, she is loved. And that love is powerful.

There were three passages that I read aloud to Brian because they felt like my own words. She had words for the things I couldn’t describe on my own. It was freeing. She tackles big topics, all through the lens of love. She doesn’t have an ounce of holier-than-thou. It’s refreshing to hear something so real, so authentic.

The wonderful thing about books is that they can give you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. This book does that. It taught me about celebrating my children, about finding the reflection of God in each person I meet, about building the foundation of my marriage, and about loving others no matter their history. I imagine there are many things that more traditional or conservative Christians would find contrary to some of their beliefs, but I still think they should read it. Not because I want them to change their minds, but because, as Rachel Held Evans said, “Glennon Melton… [gives] her readers a precious gift: permission–permission to doubt, permission to believe, permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth, and permission to do it all imperfectly.”

So if you’re looking for a book that reminds you how much God loves you and helps you learn how to pass that love onto others, read this book. Borrow it from me, get it online. Whatever you need to do. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.

Pan Fried

I found a crepe recipe a few days ago. For those of you who don’t know, crepes are my favorite treat, but the only place that I know where to find them fast is West Edmonton Mall, which is a whole 1.5 hour drive from my house. I can’t justify three hours of driving with two toddlers just to eat a crepe, which I can’t share because my kids somehow channel the feeding of the five thousand and spread a mess of food much farther than science says it should go.

So I wondered if I could make it at home. I took the boys grocery shopping and gathered all the ingredients before heading home to make a delicious crepe lunch.

Life, then, felt sane. I mean, I was struggling to be a mediocre mom on a day off with the boys and trying to get a handle on all my school work, but life felt more in control than it did a year ago. Brian and I have been okay, I think. Life with two toddlers, one of us working full time, and one of us at school full time means we don’t get a lot of time to connect, but we both knew this was a season.

The first crepe was small and a little crispy, but Brian ate it without complaint. The second was a little better. The more I made, the better they turned out. And they tasted perfect. Smeared with a little whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and raspberries. Not a healthy lunch, but delicious.

Today I wanted to make crepes for breakfast. Same recipe, same pans, same everything. Not same me.

Life’s been turned upside down in a matter of days. It’s inappropriate to share any details, but my face today is a little tear-stained. My shoulders are slumped a little lower. I forget to breathe for a while until my chest aches and then it comes in big gasps, almost like I’m drowning.

I followed the directions, mixed the ingredients, poured the batter into the pan. It smelled magical. Exactly what I needed on a day like today. Three minutes later, I went to flip the crepe, but it stuck to the bottom of the pan. I scraped it out and tried again. Four more times. The fourth time used the last of the batter. There was nothing left.

A pile of broken pastry sat next to me on the plate with nothing to do but scrape it into the garbage. Time, money, food all wasted. The only thing I’d made was a mound of dirty dishes.

Life is like that sometimes. One day, everything works out. The next, all the effort and energy you expend turn into nothing but more work. You’re further behind than when you started. All you can do is clean up the dirty dishes and hope for tomorrow to work out a little differently.