Monday, November 18, 2013

Let us Give Thanks

Well, hello there. It's been a while! I decided to write a post today after reading several friends' blogs. It seems that people can always better express their innermost thoughts in blog/journal form, even though technically anyone can view a blog. I've found this to be true for me as well. But here's the scoop: some people express trials they are going through, and it's shocking at times. What I want to say today is that I am grateful for my life, and my many, many blessings. Because a lot of people (most people) have it harder than I do. Most of all, I want to thank those who are going through trials for not giving up, and to declare that God loves each and every one of us.

I used to always think that God loves all of us, plain and simple. Sometimes, it's easy to see how God loves other people, but not necessarily how much he cares about little old you. The truth is, God loves you. He wants you to succeed, and he knows your griefs. Even though it's hard to understand or even witness, God is with you every step of the way. And sometimes, it's especially hard when the Lord is pruning us, and the pain is great. Little do we realize that such a pruning will one day make us into a fruitful currant bush. If you're confused at this analogy, see Elder Hugh B. Brown's talk titled, The Currant Bush.

As Elder Brown puts it,
"You sometimes wonder whether the Lord really knows what he ought to do with you. You sometimes wonder if you know better than he does about what you ought to do and ought to become." Later, after relating the story of the currant bush, he states, "I wanted to tell you that oft-repeated story because there are many of you who are going to have some very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried to prove what you are made of. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, “God is the gardener here. He knows what he wants you to be.” Submit yourselves to his will. Be worthy of his blessings, and you will get his blessings."
What a beautiful realization--God is in charge, and he is shaping us into our best selves, if only we let him. This act of letting the Lord shape us takes a lot of humility and strength. Those two words might not often be used together, but from my point of view they are inseparable. If we submit our will to God's will, and put our trust in him, we will be okay. It might take years to realize it, or even eternity, but we will become what we need to be if we let God shape us. And if you keep your eyes open, you'll receive little proofs of it along the way.

What are these little proofs, you ask? Some people call them blessings. Others refer to them as "tender mercies," and some even say it's God's hand in our lives. Call it whatever you like. But if you look for these little proofs of God's love for you, you will find them. They are everywhere, great and small. I find it's often the small things that hit me hardest, because if God cares enough about me to worry about the petty, insignificant things, I know he'll be there in my hardest difficulties.
6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

Let us be meekly watching for such simple expressions of God's love for us. He's there, and He loves you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Happiness is Key; Will You be the Locksmith?

Lately, I've noticed an influx of advice on how to be happy. Many of you fairly imaginary readers may not know this (of course you don't know, you're almost nonexistent!), but I struggle with feeling depressed sometimes. I get down on myself a lot, and despite my cheerful disposition, I have a bad habit of looking at my life through a dreary lens. However, I have been trying to improve myself in this particular area, and the hoard of articles I've seen lately have been little reminders to keep me going. Facebook is great when people share worthwhile things, isn't it?

So recently a friend posted this: Habits of Supremely Happy People. This friend has a serious life-threatening disease, and in the past year went through a (presumably) difficult divorce. She is an inspiration to many with her courage and motivation, and this post was just another drop in the bucket. Despite all this, I saw her post and thought, yeah right. Mankind has been searching for the key to finding happiness for ages, and what have we got to show for it? This is probably just another hokey article about following your bliss. And yet, I read it anyway. We all have what will help us personally be happy, but the tip I remembered most from that post was that you have to choose to be happy. Making a conscious effort has huge effects, as evidenced by a scientific study that was referenced. The specific aspect from that post was that I tested was walking briskly and acting like I owned the place to improve my mood. And suddenly my drudging walks to work weren't so drudging after all (shocker).

The next post was shared by a newly-wed friend, but one who had waited years for the blessed event to happen, and didn't let her unfulfilled desires make her a bitter cynical monster. Evidenced by her sensible sharing of this post: How to get flat abs, have great sex, and rule the world in 8 easy steps. Now you may think, this post looks like what I see every day in the checkout line, but don't let it fool you. The eye-grabbing title only makes the post that much more ingenious. The blessed author reminds us of what headlines we constantly see everywhere, and how they make us feel like we cannot be happy the way we are. We aren't thin enough, sexy enough, or powerful enough. But despite what the world wants you to think, you actually can be all you want to be, and that power of decision remains with you. I would highly suggest reading this post as well.

Obviously the point I am trying to make is that we CAN be happy if only we CHOOSE to. And you're thinking, big whoop, dimegirl. Who came up with that, captain obvious? We've heard it all before! and you may be right. But I know that some days are bad, and often those bad days are followed by monotonous ones, or worse than before ones. Despite it all, we have to sit down (or just cease our busy lives for a moment) and realize how freaking blessed we are. We have clothes on our backs, we live in a country with religious freedom, our families are not tortured and lost to us, we can walk to work or school or the store and not be attacked, our bodies function well, we not only eat 3 meals a day, but choose what we want to eat! I have so much, and I cannot tell you how undeserving I feel when I claim that my life is hard. But I'm trying to reform myself.

It is easy to lose the perspective of how much we have when we get caught up in our (very real) small problems. So let's all make a commitment to ourselves to be more positive. When you have troubles, stop and help someone else. Make their burden a little lighter, because they're probably suffering from something just as you are. We never know what others are going through, so it's safe to assume that we are all going through something. Big or small, we all have problems and worries. So let's uplift each other and work to be happy. Happiness is the key, but we are the locksmiths and no one else can make us put forth the effort. It is our choice, and what a wonderful opportunity it is to choose to be happy. I thank God that we have that choice, among so many others.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Well, this is nice. My new blog layout and colors are quite pleasing, if I do say so myself. Why the revamp, you ask? It's simple. Right now, my life is going through a revamp. I've heard that word "revamp" used over and over again, but never really thought about what it meant. According to the OED (typical definition reference--yes, I am that cliche) the word revamp can be defined as thus:


To give a new and improved form, structure, or appearance to; to renovate; to overhaul; to revise.

 In my case, I felt that a renovation or revision of my blog's appearance and purpose was in order. The reason behind this sudden overhaul (yes, I can use big words from the dictionary!) is simply that I had a recent realization that my life is about to change drastically. I am on a precipice of human experience, as my college graduation will occur next June and probably babies soon(ish) thereafter. Now before you judge me or assume that I am another baby-hungry female provo-ite, stop.  
Note: at times people feel they should or shouldn't have children at any given time. Either way, it is none of our business, just a very personal decision. The end. 

Whew. Glad we got that out of the way. As I was saying, there are big things in the future. Something else for my readers to keep in mind is that although I am soon to finish my undergraduate education, my spouse is a college freshman and will continue on to complete a Master's degree leaving him with...5+ years left of school. Yay for education, right? Well, yes. But how to tackle the age-old young Mormon married couple question: How can we have kids and balance that with school/careers/etc? Oh, if only the answer were that simple. 

When this question comes to my mind, however, I think of a quote I've heard that states, "God can't steer a parked car." This reminds me that although the future is scary and uncertain, I must keep moving on. I must continue to do what I believe and know to be right, and not only hope for things to work out, but have faith in that scenario. There is a big difference between wishing for things to go your way and having faith in God's plan for you while moving forward with what you currently know. So, my husband will continue in his education, we will both work when we can, we'll try to stick to our budget and remain financially stable, and we'll prepare for the not-too-distant day when we will have children. Because I know what I want the most. 

So, back to the revamp. With all the fear for the future, (aka supporting my husband through school, trying to avoid student loans, having a child in this world and attempting to be a good parent, etc) it's easy to be set back and discouraged. The other day I was totally having a freak out when I realized I was graduating with a B.A. in English and had little idea of how to find a job after graduation, or even what I wanted to do with my degree. And yes, I've heard the all the critiques on Humanities majors and their lack of ability to find a job outside of the fast food world. But from this day forward, I choose to shape my own destiny, and not to fall prey to the negativity of the world. Does this mean I'll expect rainbows and butterflies and free money after I graduate? No, but it does mean that I will not let negative opinions around me preventing me from succeeding. 

With that, I'm now searching carefully for helpful internships that will make me more marketable, I'm revising my resume and lastly, doing a lot of self-assessment and soul searching. Because the better I know myself and what I want, the more aptly I can shape myself into what I want to become. My options include working in any type of editing, teaching at a charter school, obtaining higher education through an online process, teaching piano, secretarial positions, etc. There's a lot I know I can do, and just because I didn't major in it doesn't mean I can't have a job dealing with it. So that's my plan, and I'm sure I'll have to shape and adjust it many times over, but I know what I want and I'm determined to get it. Will being a mother with a husband in school long-term be hard? Of course. But it will be, and that's the beginning of what I want.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Same Mistakes

Today I sent my husband a message (one of many as we both work semi-boring desk jobs) that said: "I'm having a bad hair day :(" to which he replied,
I wanted badly to reply with a sassy answer, but instead decided on: "One of life's great questions."

Aside from the norm of "great questions" we all ask (who am I, where do I come from, why am I here?) there are a subset of ones (what is truth? What is beauty? What is love?) that I have pondered, but the phrase itself triggers deeper thought, whether you are contemplating your existence or simply why your stupid bangs will not stay in a french braid for anything.


So is this post on something as trivial as the pain of growing out bangs? Unfortunately, not. Following the above mentioned exchange, I decided to read the blog of a person with whom I am acquainted, but who I would not necessarily refer to as a bosom-friend. I had recently heard of her plight in a quick marriage resulting in domestic violence and a broken heart. She posted this blog with a comment that she could tell her story and also help herself heal by writing it all down. She also told her readers to "enjoy," although I quickly learned this was to be unlikely in my case.

She (we will call her Carly) began the post with the beginning of her doomed love story to the man she is now separated from. It was sweet and interesting, not to mention fast-moving. But amongst it all, there were definite allusions to a tragic ending, one which a writer can only weave into the tapestry of a story with the hindsight that can be gained by living it. And so, successively, each post was sadder, and more real, and led each reader to dread what was written next. The most interesting thing about this blog could be condensed into two things:

1. Carly claimed that she was spiritually guided (despite the horrid results) to this marriage
2. I knew another acquaintance that had almost an identical story

So could the two women be the same one? No, I knew both women well, and was shocked at how their stories were so similar. Meeting a man on the internet, falling in love over video chat, becoming emotionally involved within a matter of days, ignoring the warning signs of lies and a darker side, being hurried into a lifetime commitment due to his involvement in the military, only to find their prince charming was quite alarming (rhyme not intended). Both women poured out their hearts to me (1 through her blog, the other in person) and were in agreement that they were spiritually led to this men thinking that they were the One...but having misgivings the whole way.Why is it always easier to see our mistakes after the great error?

This brings me to the title of this post. We are all human, but why in the heck do we make the same mistakes over and over again? It would seem we were prompted by some higher power to make a decision that we regretted later. Perhaps these promptings were of our own making, or not as strong as we hoped them to be, or even a combination of the two. How did we get here?
We need to recognize the difference between when some big confirmation happens, and when we are just trying to make our lives more like a movie (seminary, or of another nature). Do you know what I'm saying? Maybe these women felt they needed to be there for the scumbags. But I'm less certain they felt as sure about feeling the absolute command to marry them. It is far more likely that they had been force-fed by years the story of true love happening within a couple of days and no matter how mean and awful he is sometimes, it's true love, because. Media is a scary thing, and we as real human beings need to be aware that life is not a movie. It is not a TV show. And if you have doubts about a man that said "I love you" the 2nd time you skyped, who you're about to marry, and could see him being a future wife-beater, then don't marry him. It's as simple as that.

I am not in any way blaming the women who were victimized in these situations. I just want to say that we should be aware that it is easy to fall into to the traps they did, if we do not think for ourselves and really ask ourselves if this is something we feel right about. Even then, we can be deceived. If you're really listening to a spiritual prompting, it will never say, "Go ahead, what's the worst that could happen? He's not angry and violent all the time..." So no, I'm not attacking either of the women aforementioned. I'm simply pointing out the human tendency of desiring our lives to be like a great story, and the negative effects that can have. We none of us live in a fairy tale, but when we realize that, sometimes we can come pretty close.

So one of life's great questions that's on my mind today: How can we avoid making the same mistakes? As for that question's relation to why women get bangs and grow them out again repeatedly? I have no answer.