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Saturday, May 8, 2010

THE GIRAFFE IN THE ROOM



When I was growing up, we took the exact same summer vacation every year --- and my family JOKES about our OCD tendencies. We would load up the Mercury Marquis, stock the cooler with Diet Coke, and drive from Twin Falls (Shangri-La of the West) to Salt Lake City. Then Larsenpalooza would begin.

DAY 1 – Pool time at Little America and shopping at Crossroads Plaza. Endless hours at the Disney store and Mrs. Field’s cookies.

DAY 2 – Hogle zoo and one of those animal carvings a machine makes out of a hunk of wax, which typically never made it back to Idaho due to the melting factor.

DAY 3 – The Pièce de résistance and grand finale. . . . . . LAGOON! I still hold the Larsen record for eight consecutive Colossus rides without puking.

Anyway, it was during these Hogle Zoo visits that I became quite enamored with giraffes. They were tall and awkward just like me! (And that's not my chubby little brother in the picture, it is in fact me. Apparently, my mom lost the fight over the wearing of a shirt but fortunately she had gone with the androgynus haircut. And people wonder why I won't leave the house without eyeliner and lipgloss.) Giraffes also have these amazing eyelashes, like nothing MAC zoomlash can replicate.

No matter where a giraffe is --- the jungle, the zoo, head in the trees – it’s impossible not to notice. I relate and maybe that’s why I have become so enchanted by them. It’s no secret to my friends and family that I’m a train wreck when it comes to the freak of nature tall thing. I know, it is supposed to be a gift, but sometimes I just wish it came with a gift receipt.

Enter my love of the giraffe, because in all their quirkiness, there is something undeniably majestic about them. They move with a grace that seems to say, “If you are going to stare, I’m going to give you something to look at.”

So, I focus on the “something.” It used to be basketball. If people were going to watch my team play, it was an opportunity to put on a show. Sometimes it’s my message. If people are going to listen to me speak, it’s an opportunity to say something meaningful. Sometimes it’s my actions. If people are going to watch my every move, it’s an opportunity to be a little kinder than necessary. And sometimes it’s just my fashion. If people are going to stare, it’s an opportunity to be a little more fabulous than my onlookers. And for that, I’d like to thank Michael Kors for the wardrobe, Kenneth Cole for the accessories, Marc Jacobs for the handbag, MAC for the make-up, and my sister for the mantra, “fun, fabulous, and flat broke!”

Speaking of my AMAZING sister, Evie Elaine Larsen, she recently taught me a fantastic new lesson about giraffes. I recently hit a bit of a rough patch, nothing like The Great Depression, but I was down-and-out about things. The classic cliché’ of when it rains it pours. I’d had to make some decisions about some things in my life. It made me question my purpose and dredge up my now-famous insecurities. In true sibling form, Evie took the brunt of the ugly cry sessions, although they didn’t quite reach Billy Elliott proportions.

To make the sniffling stop, she sent me this great giraffe-themed care package that included a card that taught me this: Giraffes, with their long necks and staggering heights, are very disproportionate creatures. In fact, when they put their heads down, they physically cannot move forward. So, for that reason, they do not like to bend down. About the only time giraffes will put their heads down is to drink water. And they learn to consume large amounts of water very quickly, because with their heads down and no mobility, they become very vulnerable to predators. They have to keep their heads up to move forward.

Isn’t it amazing the metaphors we can find in life? You can’t advance, progress, or pursue your dreams if your head is down. You have to keep your head defiantly up to move forward. We are all going to have challenges and bad days and even tragedy. It’s unavoidable, like the giraffe has to eventually drink water. But if you keep your head down and wallow, you make yourself vulnerable to lose the fight. And life wouldn’t be a fight if it wasn’t worth winning. You gotta keep your head up to move forward.

I love the quote, "Whate lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." We have to find the power to pull our heads up and move forward to achieve anything in this world.

Thank you so much Evie for reminding me it’s time to put my head up so I can move forward. I’ve had enough of a water break and I’m ready to stand freakishly tall again with my head in the clouds. Aren’t giraffes the absolute best????

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