Friday, January 23, 2009

The Unity of Hope - Inauguration Day

On Tuesday, January 20, 2009 the United States of America swore in its 44th President - President Barack Obama. He's a man that I believe has experiences that are much needed. He has the ability to demand attention and results. He is diplomatic and will be able to work well as a liaison between countries and other diplomats. He loves this country and understands the challenges that face us, and he . He brings what he stands for - HOPE. He makes us feel like his slogan is real, because it is - YES WE CAN.

I couldn't help but feel that no matter who you were originally supporting, or how you feel about Barack Obama himself, one can not deny the power that was felt behind Tuesday's ceremony. I felt proud to be an American for many reasons, and I felt at peace about what was to come... the good and the bad. I feel that even though our country has problems - economically, socially, etc. - we have people (not just Obama and his office) that want to solve them. I am overwhelmed by our ability to break down barriers and overcome walls, and see us working toward overcoming other prejudices. If you think about it, we had a woman, black man, and a Mormon running - These are all large steps for America. Though I don't feel we have overcome all of our prejudice gender wise, racially, or religiously, I believe we are making the correct steps toward doing so. Today, I feel proud of American's.

As the speech was presented and the swearing in took place, I felt a sense of unity and comradeship... As Obama stated in his inauguration speech:

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

We must keep this untied feeling alive. The sixth graders were talking about unity today in my mom's class because there has been major gossip problems lately, and they asked me to come talk to them about gossip and how it ununifies us... My quote was (I felt proud of this):

"It takes all of us to be unified, but it only takes one to start the process of unity."

My Bishop gave a little lesson at Family Home Evening on Monday night about looking forward, and not being able to let go of the past. He was relating more to us holding to our sins and not forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. However, it can also apply to being stuck in past experiences, and how staying stuck in the past can hold us back. I thought about the times I have held myself back because I have had a hard or bad experience, or even on tests how I get shook up when I know that I don't have any idea what the answer it and have, therefore, gotten one wrong and can't seem to do the rest of the test successfully.

We can not do this with America's problems... We must forge forward and not let the past determine our future. We are asked to learn from our mistakes and keep progressing - not to stay stuck in the mistake. We must forge forward... and I truly believe that from our options, Obama was, and is, the best one to help us move forward. Yes We Can - It's not fluff, it's faith.

I think Obama is a great public speaker & great with presentation... However, I think it is more than that. I don't just roar over a great speaker - I have to many friends who are good at it. I fell that I am good at it... There is something more to his speeches for me. I don't just feel like he is speaking hoped truths, though hope is a classic motto of his. I believe that he is speaking belief - he believes in the power of change that we can make, and the ability America has a a country, as well as the individuals within its boarders. Again - It's not fluff, it's faith.

I know what many of my friends are going to think reading this - and I understand that you might not all agree. That is why I was hesitant to ever write political feelings - or even relate back to the political arena. However, these are my opinions and I stand beside them.

Now, in relation to my personal life, I loved something that was said in the inaugural speech that inspired me and sparked the fire of dreams and ambition within me once again... That has been happening a lot lately. Obama spoke saying:

"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journe
y has never been one of short-cuts or settling-for-less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things..."

I am working hard on my heart of golden stone... Haha! In other words, my desires require unique kindness and an ability to create relationships and friendships. Additionally, I must be strong enough to face the hardships and work with all my might. Gold is the purity of the heart's center, but the outer-surface is stone - tough enough to push through trying times.

I also love how this statement says everyone deserves their moment to "pursue their measure of happiness." Our "full" happiness... I believe that to. There are so many ways that we can achieve that happiness, but whichever path someone chooses to do so, they should be able to receive the fullness with good choices and hard work. My church believes that too... and I love that.

One more quote if you will:

"Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort.."

If only each of us, me included, could always maintain this form of thinking and be guided by the purity of our values.... We would each be better off and happier in our lives, as would the entirety of the world.

Song for today: In relation to changing the world and sticking to our feeling of unity, the song I choose for today is:
Brett Dennen's, Ain't No Reason - an incredible song about unifying ourselves and making a difference... (Check out the music video here, because THAT is the most amazing part of the song - this video is SO moving! - )


(P.S. I was going to put "We're All In This Together" as the song... Then I thought about it.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To Give Is To Recieve...

I had the opportunity over the long weekend to re-read The Giver, by Lois Lowry. It has been my favorite book since sixth grade, after the first time I read it for Ms. Downs Language Arts class. However, I haven't read it since a year or two after that... Thus, I wanted to read it again and see if it still held the same captivating themes it did for me when I was twelve.

It does.

The entire time I was re-reading it, I felt that rush of longing to finish... Not in the way that you are praying to get through something so that is can be done, but in the way that you have no desire to put it down. It enthralled me all over again, and I found myself pulling out a pencil and writing in the margins or underlining phrases that I found deeper meaning in. This book has so much one can pull from... There are general, surface themes, and deeper ones. The reader has a world created for them to fall into, and is found feeling many differing emotions...

I felt grateful that I have been raised to think for myself and with knowledge of the world and the gospel. I felt sorrow for those who are close-minded, and anger for those who keep others trapped in a world providing no wisdom, creating ignorance and intolerance. I felt frustration over those who chose to remain in ignorance, until I realized that they might know there is any other way to live... The frustration remained, but it was now frustration over having no idea how to reach those people and help them grow. I felt love for my family and friends - and was in awe that those emotions could be void in someone. I felt extreme happiness in being able to see colors, feel emotion, believe in things and myself... I felt intense joy in that I could hear music.

I felt a reassurance in my soul that the gospel is true... To understand the joy, you must have felt pain. To embrace beauty, one must see the ugly. In simpler terms, you can not say something is good, if you don't know what bad is.

To explain a little (warning: this might be a bit confusing), Jonas is a boy from a very structured and conformed community that is selected to be the next "Giver" in the town - the town chooses each child's job for them at the age of 12. To be the "Giver" is a great honor cause people are chosen every few decades and no one other than the new and previous "Givers" known what exactly the job is... As Jonas begins his training with the old "Giver" he finds that his job is to receive all the world's past memories, emotions, etc. and store them within his self to provide wisdom to the town council. His eyes are thus open to the idea of agency, having emotions, and having the ability to think for one's self. He even begins to see colors and hear music - something the rest of the community can not do... If you have seen Pleasantville, it has some similarities...

Now, I feel like I just have to give you a taste of this amazing novel - I hope this will inspire those who have not read The Giver to read it and think about its many messages...

"But sir," Jonas suggested, "since you have so much power -"
The man corrected him. "Honor," he said firmly, "I have great honor. So will you. But you will find that that is not the same as power."
- Pg. 84

"I don't know why they even need a Receiver, then, if they never call upon him," Jonas commented.
"They need me. And you," The Giver said, but didn't explain. "They were reminded of that ten years ago."
- Pg. 103 (This reminded me of prayer - especially as the conversation continued...)

"My life is here."
"In this room?"
The Giver shook his head. He put his hands to his own face, to his chest. "No. Here, in my being. Where the memories are."
- Pg. 104

'Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss or loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.'
- Pg. 122

"I liked the feeling of love... I do understand that it wouldn't work very well. I can see it's a dangerous way to live."
"What do you mean?"
Jonas hesitated. He wasn't certain, really, what he had meant. He could feel that there was risk involved, though he wasn't sure how.
(LATER - Jonas with his parents...)
"Do you love me?"
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a gave a little chuckle, "Jonas. You of all people. Precision of language, please!"
"What do you mean?" Amusement was not at all what he had anticipated.
"Your Father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete," his mother explain carefully.
Jonas stared at them. Meaningless? He had never before felt anything as meaningful as the memory [of love].
- Pgs. 126 & 127

Imagine that when you told your parent, friend, boy/girlfriend, etc. that you loved them, they laughed at you. Imagine that they told you that the word love was meaningless... and that they liked being around you, but that was as deep as they could feel. Imagine a world where feelings and expression of emotions were non-existant... That would be my personal Hell.

'... He knew he couldn't go back to the world of feeling that he had lived in so long.'
- Pg. 131

How horrible would that be? A world that was completely void of all emotion... We joke around about it all of the time, but the truth of the matter is
, we live to feel. We live to love and have emotion... That is what we are designed for - and I would have it no other way.

'... Overwhelmed with feelings of loss. His childhood, his friendships, his carefree sense of secutiry - all of these things seemed to be slipping away. With his new, heightened feelings, he was overwhelmed by saddness at the way the others had laughed and shouted, playing at war. But he knew that they could not understand why, without the memories. he felt such love for [them]... But they could not feel it back, without the memories. And he could not give them the those...'
- Pg. 135

It is hard to move past, the past... Nonetheless, we are called to forge forward and press ahead in life. I just can not imagine living in a world where no one around me understood love, anger, fear, and real emotions. It hurts my hurt to even pretend...

I know that this book is an extreme example of conformity, the absence of agency, and lack of emotion, among other things. However, as we realize that these problems do exist for some people and in societies, we can strive to break the mold there and help ourselves and others to expand our viewpoints, let go of prejudice, and express ourselves positively.

These are just a few of the MANY things I thought about while re-reading The Giver, but I don't have time to write them all... I am just so grateful for good, mind-opening literature - something a little different too. I am grateful for things that make me realize how grateful I am for my agency and emotions... and my individuality. I hope that we can all be grateful for our gifts of agency - even though it's hard to make tough choices at times, individuality - even though people will scorn differences they fear, and emotions - though we, especially I fight to hide them at times from those around me. I feel full right now. I feel joy.

Song(S) of the day: Sticking with the themes of today's entry... There are two songs...
The first is Goo Goo Dolls, Iris. This is a song from when I was in sixth/seventh grade that I loved then, and even more now... There is a section in the lyrics where it says:

"And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming,
Or the moment of the truth in your lies.
When everything feels like the movies,
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive.

And I don't want the world to see me,
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand.
When everything's made to be broken,
I just want you to know who I am.

The second song is an incredible connector to this piece of literature... read on, and listen on to: Please Bleed, by Ben Harper.... Here's a taste of that:

"Make me feel like a beggar
Make me feel like a thief
Make me feel like a battle, that cannot end in peace
Make me feel like running, as if I've lost my nerve
Make me feel like crying, tears I don't deserve

Is this really living sometimes it's hard to tell
Or is this a kind of gentler hell
Turn out the lights
And let me stare into your soul
I was born and bled for you old

Please bleed
So I know that you are real
So I know that you can feel
The damage that you've done
Who have I become
To myself I am none
I am none..."

The music video is a bit creepy, but very cool too. Go listen to these amazing artists!


P.S. This is a sidenote, but I watched the show Lie To Me tonight because I was still working out after American Idol was done... If you watched it, thoughts? I really think it is a clever program! I had to give it a few more episodes and see if it becomes a favorite.... :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Joy of Reality... and Reality Television.....

Joy is an interesting thing. You can find joy in so many things throughout this life, and I truly believe that you can even find joy in the negative times in life. Granted, some things in life just suck, and you don't find much beauty. However, I have found that even in my darkest hours and turbulent points in life, I have learned the most poignant and powerful lessons. Within these life-changing moments we grow and find joy in our increased knowledge, gained experience, and fresh outlook on things... Our most trying times are often are greatest times of growth, and growth initiates joy!

There are times then I am doing things of great importance in my life. I have often felt great im
portance in certain things I have accomplished or created... I hope that throughout my life I will continue to do things that I love and that mean something. I find a great amount I want to do something important and be in constant contribution to society, especially within the workforce and my talents.

I find joy in the little things, like a sunset or snow-covered mountains. I find joy in a "pull-through" parking spot, turning the radio on and catching my favorite song, practical jokes, the smell after it rains, and curling up with my duvet inside a chilly room. I live to hear a little kid laugh, or watch them dance around the room. I reel while listening to someone play piano, or when someone says "Thank You." I find joy in hearing someone's testimony for the first time and even more, I find joy in seeing someone live their testimony. I like the little things, along with the great accomplishments, and I feel as though I can find joy in anything.

That being said, there are also times in my life where I find joy in the "trifles" or trite things in life...

Thus, let the season of useless television program obsession begin. I always find that my peak is in the winter season... Perhaps because I spend more time in doors, but perhaps because it is because TV programs in the winter are just better. Don't get me wrong I do apprecaite my occasional dose of "The Hills" and other oldie "on-every-day-shows," and I can not live with out my fill of The Office each season. However, I love the winter line up...

First, let me just give credence to the one show that really gets me going from the fall season.... The Office. There is nothing funnier than the classic prank wars between Dwight and Jim, the awkward and ignorant things that Michael Scott says and does, the funny realizations Kevin has, each sarcastic remark from Stanley, etc., etc. Also, I just love the Jim and Pam interest - the most classic, hilarious relationship... Yep - I love that show... That's what she said.

Second, I will say that I have a rejuvenated love for the show, 24. Yes, bring on some good ole' Keifer Sutherland! Haha... Last season was not as intriguing to me, and somewhat overly violent. I love action movies and don't mind things blowing up... I enjoy a good car chase scene too. However, I hate a lot of blood and pure murdering violence. I didn't use to bother me until I started working so much with younger children a few years back. See, I find a LOT of kids talk about, draw, or due violent things without understanding that it really hurts people. That happens regardless to an extent, but each year it gets worse, as younger kids are saying or doing violent things because they "see it in my dad's favorite movie" or say bad thing because they "heard it in Mom's favorite show..." I hate the thought that I might encourage my child to think or express themselves violently.

ANYWAY, I am enjoying this season of 24 because it has not appeared overly violent and contains a lot more intellect - like the beginning seasons. I hope this does not change! I really am loving the twists and turns of Season 7's 24! Love it.... :)

Okay, so I must write about the show that is either hated or loved with a passion by most of America... American Idol. It started it's 8th Season last night and I was excited beyond belief! I was in love with texting my friends who were watching and hearing their opinions over people. I am not gonna lie - there was no one the first night that was as good as those from last year. There were some good voices, but just none as great as our top 10 from Season 7. There were a few I liked, but.... eh. I know that I have prejudice and hold to the last season, but nonetheless, my statement of not seeing anyone up to the same par stands.

Tonight had some better voices and few I really liked at the get go, but there are still not many like last season's line-up. There are like three or four I could become passionate about depending on the Hollywood rounds. Next week equals Salt lake City, so that should be way fun! Perhaps tonight, it will be better as they head to Cook's hometown... Next week they head to Utah and that is the what I am most excited for, in hoping that I see some people I know on screen.

Sidenote: I like the new judge, Kara, a lot! She adds a new dynamic... I just hope that her and Paula disagree SOMETIME.)

I also must add it was a tad bitter sweet last night... I wanted to be a part of the whole deal even though it is kind of a luck-shot-in-the-dark. I'm not talking about being on the show persay, I am talking about being a part of the experience. It was a weirdly motivational and therapeutic thing for me last year and I wanted to be there in the blood, sweat, and tears... hoping that there was no real blood though. Haha... I know beyond belief how many people roll their eyes at me for saying this, but I get very connected to the people up there - I feel for them. I mean, I know that the whole thing isn't as real as society buy into, but I feel a real connection to their desire, dreams, and the music they create.

That is what really spurns my love for the show... I want people someday to feel that connection of therapeutic that I felt with the music I want to create. I just wanna share my gift. It is that simple. I also believe that the world could use more good influences in the media, so that would be a hope of mine as well if I ever went the big-time route.

My dream job? Still = A backup singer! How classic would that be?! I mean, I get to travel and make music like I love, still have opportunities to share the gospel, and be able to live a normal life as I can still go to the store or to dinner with my family... Thoughts?

Sidenote: I am also in love with America's Best Dance Crew (classic.) and this Season of The Real World: Brooklyn. When I randomly search through the TV and see Johnny, Kate, and Eight, I enjoy that too...

I have decided to give song ideas in my blogs for friends to check out that I currently love or feel the need to revisit the love for. Today's song is a fresh, new one...

Erin McCarley: Love, Save The Empty or Pitter-Pat... Okay, the WHOLE CD is amazing! There is Blue Suticase, It's Okay, Sticky-Sweet... It is all incredibly written and has a very "Sara Bareilles-esque" feel. Try it out! So amazing, in fact, that I bought it for full price on ITunes when it first came out... THAT is some dedication... Haha!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Easy Out Clause... A Personal Crutch?

(Food for Thought: First, I debated calling this entry "The Easy Out Clause... A Personal Crutch?" or "The Power of Comparison" - Just thought I'd through that out as a preemptive statement...)

I have so much to write about... I feel fired up about a lot of things - not in an angry way, but in a passionate way... I find that ofttimes when I am overcome with passion about a certain subject of incident, that people think I might be angry. I assure everyone that I am rarely angry at all... In fact, when I am really mad about something I usually get very quiet and withdrawn and save speaking out for when I have calmed down. When I am speaking passionately, sometimes it just comes across as anger... Oops. That being said, I am very passionate about the next few things I will blog about.

First things first - obviously... I never understood that statement though I use it - I feel I should pose a question. What is your personal easy out clause? In other words, what do you use as your crutch in life to excuse yourself from doing things that are hard, that you are scared of, or that might make life easier?

Most people have a crutch of some kind in their lives... This is not an attack on anyone, just a realization about myself and human beings in general. Just a little preemptive note to let others know that there is no need to defend ones self... It is food for thought for all, including myself, to contemplate and hopefully determine if they have need to overcome the "crutch" in their lives. In this instance, I will discuss myself, as that is who this article is really about no matter how much I wish it wasn't - haha! Now, I shall continue...

Most people have a crutch of some kind in their lives... Most people use something about themselves or their lives as an excuse to not become as great as they could be. I don't believe anyone does this on purpose or even with a full knowledge of what they are doing. I know that I did not realize I was holding myself back. At times though, I found myself looking for the easy way out of a tough time or tough emotion. I found that I felt better about the things that went wrong in my life by blaming it on "my crutch" and feeling like I was safe from the judgement of others. I knew what I was doing, but only partially... Every time I felt bad about not finding success in relationships, leadership positions in HS, sports, jobs, or even music, it all led back to one thing in my mind.... My weight.

I would spend nights in MS/HS crying over my "lack" of a boyfriend, for not making it into the student government role I wanted, for never being discovered within my music and acting, for making the "B" team in volleyball, etc, etc, etc... and blaming it on my weight. However, the problem was not my weight... It was the fact that I was using my weight as an easy out. That might appear confusing, but I will say it again - It was NOT my weight, but my decision to blame my weight for not succeeding. It caused me to create a false comfort in my failures and unhappiness, and I found that I was able to do less work. I would go for the things in life that came easily for me, and things that were hard were blamed on not being skinny enough - not always, but often.

"People are just prejudice!"

"I'm not pretty enough... I'm too fat for him."

"They would notice my talent if I was thinner... If I just looked like HER."

These are dangerous thoughts to have... I have always been a fairly confident person - however, everyone has something that holds them back a bit in life if they let it. I have slowly stepped away from that, but it has taken time. I am confident in who I am, and have been for a long while now. However, doubts in myself return in moments of comparison... I just know have learned over time how to fight them.

Now, I am taking a step in a different direction, but it does tie into my general point. Bear with me, and please be patient as I get to that point because I believe this "tangent" explains why we use "crutches" in our lives.

Comparing is one of the most powerful tools that can be used for good or evil. I believe that we can use the power of comparison in many positive ways and it can teach us about ourselves and others... However, I also believe that comparison is one of the most powerful tools of the devil. It is used as means of convincing others that difference is negative and that they are less than another person because they are different. Whether this be with physical appearance, race, mental ability, religious beliefs or practices, wealth, talent, etc., the power of comparison can often cause others to feel inferior. That is WRONG. That is EVIL. Everyone is on equal ground - perhaps not in individual situations, personal or economical resources, or even by the power of wealth. However, each individual in this world is EQUAL in the sight of God. I wish we would be equal in the eyes of each other as well, but this article is about the most important step in making that happen... If we want to be more accepting and loving of each other, we need to be accepting and loving of ourselves.

We need to stop comparing our bodies to supermodel bodies, or even to the "prettiest girl in school." We need to stop comparing ourselves to other people in the same job that we have and where they are, with the same talents we have and how advanced they may be, and comparing our cars, house sizes, clothes... It is insanity. Society and the natural man has created enmity toward one another, and on a deeper level that is spurned from the enmity we hold toward ourselves and where we are. Stop.

Stop comparing yourself to others, and thus, stop comparing others to what you are, think you are, or want to be. No one is perfect, and yet we are all equal...

Now, tying this back to our personal "crutches" in life, we build these crutches based on the need we have to be loved and feel important. Everyone - EVERYONE - needs someone to connect to. (Side note: That is why I believe that the worst punishment for hardcore criminals would be solitary confinement... That is true punishment, and true death.) Often, as human beings we feel that we are not good enough to be with other individuals for many different reasons. We don't understand why someone doesn't to be with us, or even be a friend. We don't understand why the companies we have applied for didn't accept us. We don't understand why bad things happened to us, and not to someone else (there is that comparison tool again...)

Therefore, we create a fake sense of confidence in who we are, and use our weaknesses as excuses for our lack of perfection. We blame our problems, insecurities, trials, and misfortunes on these weaknesses instead of trying to fix them and realizing that sometimes, bad things just happen! Sometimes life sucks or we mess up... There is no reason in specifics for this. Also, sometimes if we had more faith, not only in a Divine Creator, but in ourselves, we would see that things happen for the best in the long run - and sometimes it is a LOOOOONG before one will see that.

We are told within the church that we can turn our strengths to weaknesses... Now, whether you are LDS or not, I believe that everyone knows deep down that those things that you are bad at can be improved upon with hard work, determination, and faith in yourself. That said, I believe that these weaknesses can become strengths. I don't think that this necessarily means that if we suck at basketball we can someday play in the MBA - though there have been stories of miraculous improvement through hard work leading to amazing things. However, I do believe that with work you can become better at anything, and that work and determination will make you stronger not only at that one thing, but as a person. Thus, our weaknesses become strengths. In addition, our passions grow in that thing and our confidence in ourselves grow... More strength is born.

Finally, there are times that which you are weak with can become a strength. For example, if someone is an alcoholic and works really hard to overcome that, they can. Not to say that they could necessarily drink at all anymore and be okay, but if they stayed away they could get to a point where it is no longer a needed craving... I have seen this happen. Then, this man went to schools across America talking about the power of alcohol when used negatively... He spent his time helping teens stay on a positive path and saving them from going down a similar path to where he had been. He turned his weakness for alcohol into creating a job and stability for him, and he blessed the lives of others - his weakness became his strength, and the strength of others.

I have used my weight as a crutch to lean on, instead of seeing it as a hurdle in life to cross and progress past. My weight really may have been the reason for some things happening in my life, but I can not blame problems or my unhappiness on it. I can not think that it really has held me back in any way because though I have not had a lot of things I have wanted in my life, I have done a lot of great and amazing things. However, I have used it as an excuse, alibi, and explanation at points in my life - and for a majority, this must end. I have begun the process of making that happen... I have been losing weight and taking care of myself - but even if that was not the case, I have realized I am beautiful, funny, talented, caring, smart, and a good person. I have solid priorities and am thoughtful in the way I act toward others. The things that matter are all aligning, and those things that I lack are being worked at.

We are going to feel that we don't have the same things to offer the world or others as another person might have. It is because we are all different, which is amazing. Why would we want to all be cookie-cutter children? We all have different things to offer to the world and to ourselves... That's ok. It is okay that I can not do a lick of science and that I struggle with math and spelling - Thank goodness for spell check... Thus, I will never find a cure for cancer or heal the world of aids. I will never be an operations analyst for the government or go undercover for the FBI. I will never write the next version of E=MC2... That's ok. I will teach children values and critical-thinking skills to improve themselves. I will bless the world with music and share my faith in the gospel, myself, and the world through song. I will be a mother someday and raise a child (hopefully a few) who will continue to contribute to society and give what they can give - thus, having a piece of myself give even more.

I don’t want to be the best them – I want to be the best me. Otherwise, I’m not giving what I need to be giving...

I think the most important thing to remember, from a religious point, is that we are going to lack things in life. In those things we lack, remember, we do have a Savior who will make up the rest. We have a Savior who lives and loves us... and he has not only paid the price for our sins, but has filled in the places where we are lacking... Christ has made up the difference.

Remember, you will struggle and falter in life, but failure only comes when you permanently stable yourself on a personal crutch ... Failure comes when we give up on our dreams or faith because we have a moment of weakness, and then we use that as a reason to refuse our progression from going any further. Failure only comes when you give up.

"Don't give up what you want most, for what you want at the moment..." - G.A.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas and its multipe Eves...

So, I promised that I would do a little bit of blogging about my Christmas break... Let me begin with a question - Have you ever spent the entirety of a break running yourself ragged to the extent that you were exhausted and it didn't feel much like a break at all? Well, this was the first break I did NOT do that - haha!

I spend every break I get planning activities with my family and friends that consume every day then stay up late watching movies or listening to music and get little sleep. This was almost EVERY day of EVERY break, and it was awesome, but exhausting to say the least. This Christmas break of 2008 was phenomenal in that it was the first break I spent sleeping and taking each day when it came. I made very few plans prior to the day I was currently experiencing. I planned to go up to Bountiful to visit with old friend at one point and I planned out my New Years Eve for the most part, but that was it... It was the most relaxing and rejuvenating break of my life and I came back to work yesterday feeling rested and ready to work! A lot of "R" words in that.... Rejuvenating, relaxing, rested, ready... Just a random recognition.... Recognition - "R!" Okay.... I'm done... Really. :)

SO, break was fabulous and semi-uneventful. Perhaps this was partially due to the fact some days were spent snowed in up on the mountain. I know we aren't that far up on the mountain in difference from the freeway, but it is enough to make the freeway accessible and our roads very much NOT accessible. Therefore, I spent many days inside watching movies, playing games, and cooking with my family. I also had a lot of time to play piano (I got a new movie themed piano book for Christmas, too!) and sing. It was fabulous - amazing, actually! I mean, we had fun, but who know that resting and not planning each moment of your day could be so fun?! I did not... Haha! Not that I am in anyway saying that this will be a regularr assurance - I still have this weekend planned to a "T." However, there will now be a few weekends here and there where nothing is planned and I will take each hour as t comes.... Love it! Haha...

Now, Christmas Eve really is worth writing about... Haha! My family did Christmas that night because Derek and Cami were flying to Michigan the next morning and we wanted to do it all with them. Christmas Eve is usually the big part of the holiday anyway for us... We read the Christmas story/watch "Joy To the World," play name that tune with Christmas songs (Me and Cami were on a team and we got ONE right this year... I have NEVER done so badly - haha!), do the big-deal meal (holiday finger foods!), and open the gifts from the "yearly family gag-game." The last part became a tradition three years ago and Christmas has NEVER been the same - haha!

The "gag-game" is when my parents find random gifts or random assortments of gifts to give us with clues to figure out what they are prior to the game.... The first year it was random gifts from DI with poems to determine what they were. Last year was a bunch of gifts in a box with correlating scriptures to determine what they were and who they were to belong too.... This year my parents filled a trash bag with a bunch of numbered, RANDOM things (aka: junk from around the house) and gave us movie quotes with each item. We kept what we got, but could trade at the end if we wanted too and we had to tell what the item was before we opened it. It was hilarious when we started opening plastic forks, random canned goods, a pair of tights, chopsticks, candy, tissues, water bottles, hot sauce, little books, old cassette tapes, weird stuff, etc. Yea - it was a good laugh! I will post some pics from the past few years because each year has been wonderfully hilarious in its own way.

Well, we opened ALL our gifts other than our stocking after the "gag-game" because we wanted Derek and Cami there. It was a lot of fun, and in all honesty we usually open "only one gift" on Christmas Eve each year... Though each year since I have been in college Derek and I have talked dad into "just one more... one more... one more!," until they are all open EVERY Christmas Eve. Haha! We're so sly... :) I love that! I think it's good too though cause then we aren't so focused on presents on the actual Christmas day during dinner and family time... It's a good separation... I want to make the two really separate I think.... I mean, when I have a family I was thinking I might wanna do all the secular stuff and spiritual stuff on separate days - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We'll see! :)

Anyway, break was amazingly wonderful! Brooke, my bestie from HS came to visit me the week before Christmas and that was awesome too... It was nice to show her where I went to college and have her meet some of my good friends. I wish she had come when finals weren't going on at BYU so it would be a bit more fun and interactive, as it usually is, but it was still really good to have her here. It's great to me that I have been lucky enough to still maintain some of my friendships from High School, because some people don't talk to anyone from High School after their college friends have really set places in their lives. I still have a few friends from HS that I keep in touch with and it's different, but special and a good feeling...

The pics below & to the side are me and Brooke on campus by the bookstore and Naked Indian Statue - haha! Gotta love campus!

Then, this is us in our matching Twilight shows before catching a late night showing! Love it!

Another thought before I end this with some amazing pics from break - I spent a lot of time with Derek and Cami and even had a sleep over at there place... I think I might have to post the videos we made because the night I was there (night before Christmas Eve) they exchanged stockings and Cami was given (from Derek, of course) these blow up balloon rockets that make high pitch screaming noises when they "go off." Imagine, if you can - and I know y'all who know them can, Cami going CRAZY with laughter and clapping like a five year old when they would go off. Haha!!! It was the most hilarious thing that I have ever have seen and I have it on tape... It would be the most amazing YouTube video of your life.... Yep. I had BETTER post it on here - for posterity and record keeping purposes, of course! :) ENJOY!

This is Cami and I freaking out over the ONE point that we got during name that tune... It's okay - we've SO have this next year...

This is Derek and Daddy-O... bonding... Haha! It actually was him quoting, "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear... ( my dad's shirt was fuzzy) Fuzzy Wuzzy has no hair!" (& my dad is blad...) Yea. We spread real love in this family! :)

The Mama - Reading off quotes for our family "Gag-Game!" Haha!

This is SUCH a classic shot of my mom!

Also, on this side we have Natalie (or, Nattie-Baby, as I call her) holding one of the gag-gifts - a geode - actually kinda cool!

A cute picture of Derek and Cami - two of my BEST friends in the WHOLE world! :)

This is me and Cami in our blingin' new jackets we got from Derek... Haha! Pretty much were are dressed like B-Money (Provo's Rapper) and I am in love with that... I seriously wear that jacket everyday I can...

I hope break was fabulous for everyone... Remember, take time to do nothing sometimes... It is a wonderful gift to yourself... :)

Cami and the Amazing Rocket Balloon! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some Good Old Fashion Remodeling and Recognizing the Capstone, Keystone, and Cornerstone....

So, the other night I had this craving to redecorate that kept me up until 4am... Yea. Haha! First it started with my room and reorganizing all of my clothes, jewelry, the way my room and bathroom are set up, and washing/cleaning EVERYTHING. Haha! I love when I get in those moods because even though they keep me up until all hours of the morning, they also produce creativity and an extremely good-smelling, clean room. Haha... I love that feeling of accomplishment, and I love decorating and organizing things...

Then, this desire for change and reorganization spread to my blog and redoing the layout, background, "accessories," and color theme. I spent a few hours finding other blogs that I liked and looking through a million and one layouts and backgrounds. I found this one blog that had cute "web buttons" (like the one that says "Live, Laugh, Love" on the side of my newly designed blog), and picture links to and - way awesome! I found out how to rewrite parts of HTML and create a layout - I felt so computer literate and smart - haha!

Anyway, I bumped into the site of a fellow blogger and loved the page so I stole some of her ideas and emailed her to ask her how things were done. She emailed me some links and ideas and now, with the LDS buttons and specific color themes, I wanna write on here everyday! Haha... I do need to be a better blogger too because my journaling has suffered lately and since I like typing better, this could be an awesome way to keep track of specific thoughts and moments in my life.

If you want some LDS Buttons for your blog too just go - HERE:

Anyway... I have done "winter cleaning" for my room and blog, and now I am officially going to type about something else. Haha!

Today during Sunday School I was letting my mind wonder while we started our study of the Doctrine and Covenants. I think that it is important to just let a thought go when talking about gospel subjects sometimes... Thus, today they talked about the D&C being the "capstone" of our religion. I didn't know that it was refereed to as that... I know that the Book of Mormon is the "keystone," and Christ is the "cornerstone," but I was unaware the D&C had one the those key place references. So, as my mind wondered I was thinking about how this reference I compared it to the art that is, the art of education. Allow me to explain (I sound so intelligent - haha!) - we have a capstone in or majors where we have to do some project, thesis type paper, and/or student teaching to finish out our professional training. Then, we go into the "keystone" using our education in the work force and put that stuff into practice - the real action takes place... and both the the capstone and keystone are based on the main subject -the cornerstone.

This is just like the D&C and Book of Mormon (BoM) are the capstone and keystone - both built upon Christ, the cornerstone. As we teach surrounding the foundation of the gospel principles - Christ - the D&C teaches us specifics in modern day revelation. Not that the BoM doesn't, but the specific points of the D&C is to increase faith, establish specifics for the gospel and church, present modern-day light on missionary work and encourage the need to testify, and create humility and a path for understanding. The Book of Mormon to me, is more what causes us to take action and change our ways. It gives us more meat and potatoes of a meal, rather than the place setting and appetizer of the meal... This all sounded more articulate in my mind. Haha!

Anyway, I just think it is amazing how we can relate the gospel to any and everything. They asked how we can make our scripture study more effective today too and I said that if we were to take time each day to ponder during and after our reading, then taking time throughout the day to just recall what you had read about, then it would be more effective and hopefully change our lifestyle and daily actions... We would become more Christ-like - grow and change.

Questions about the church and what I am talking about? Feel free to ask in the comments section OR press the link "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" button or the picture of the Salt Lake Temple (the one on the side - not below) to get some answers. I know that the gospel is the fullness upon the earth and that as we live the gospel we will be happier and grow closer not only to our Savior, but to the true us. Who are you - who am I? We are children of God, and he lives and loves us - as does our Savior, and brother, Jesus Christ. I love the gospel and again testify of its truth and the happiness it brings....


P.S. Tomorrow evening, I'll post some pics of Brooke's trip here and Christmas - I simply LOVE the holidays! Tomorrow morning at 6:30 = the end of the holidays and back to work. Ug! Too early.... Haha! Hey, I gotta bring the bacon home- eh? :)