Nov 27, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 7: Trials

I saved this for last because it is probably what I am least thankful for. Considering this, I do have to show some gratitude for my trials.

Things get hard sometimes. Everyone knows this. But I think that all of us forget that at the end of our hard times we come out stronger, braver, older. Whether we like it or not, our trials help us to grow, and teach us valuable lessons.

When I think of who I was four years ago and compare that to who I am now . . . wow. I mean, I'm basically the same. The framework is there, the foundation intact, but the rest of me has undergone a major renovation. And not all at the same time. Each trial took a little bit of us, tore it up and rebuilt it into something new--bigger and better.

I wanted to end this week with a little thank you to my trials. You suck, but thanks for making a better me.

Nov 26, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 6: Music

You know that one song? The one that seems to describe your situation perfectly? You know how you love to listen to that song in your room, or sing aloud with it when no one is home? Or how about that one song that you just belt out in the shower? And those songs that you dance to in your room?

I love music. I have annoyed my family my whole life by singing just about every song I came across. My poor mother had to go through years of badly played piano and a couple years of my complaining how much I hated it. Then after I got over hating it, they all had to listen to me play it.

There is something about music and how it can reach the soul. It can make you happy, it can make you cry. It can make you think, dance, and laugh. Listening to music can make a tedious task slightly more bearable. It can make you feel closer to God and understand Him better.

I'm glad that my mom forced me to continue piano lessons. I'm so happy that she saw my love for singing and paid for my voice lessons. There is something about being able to possess a skill in music. No one can take it away from you. They can take away my piano, but I will always have my voice (though once they hear it they might give me the piano back! ;) ). I will always have the songs I have heard in my head.

Music makes life more interesting. Have you ever watched a movie that had absolutely no background music in it at all? It's boring. It is so hard to have an idea of what is really going on. Life may not have background music . . . well, not the kind of background music that starts up with no source whatsoever and lends dramatic interest to each situation. But, how about that really bad day when you just needed to listen to some Secondhand Serenade because they are just totally tear inducing? Or when there is that one guy and you're sure that you are in love with him and you just can't stop smiling and listening to "your song". Or you just need to scream it out and you put on some Metallica. Or it's a lazy, rainy day so you listen to some folksy music, like Microwave Jenny. We each create our own background music, and while it may not give us clues about life (like if something bad is coming in the future, or that person is "the one"), it does make it more interesting.

I'm very grateful to have music in my life; both in the form of artist's albums, and in my own fingers and voice.

Nov 25, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 5: Imagination

Have you ever met anyone who didn't have an imagination? And they give you that really strange look when you tell them about the dragon living in your pipes? Yeah, what's up with them?

Ever since I was little have had an active (sometimes too active) imagination. I was (and sometimes still am . . . what? I didn't say that, that's embarrassing!) constantly involved in my "stories"--a game of make believe where I created a life for myself either as a character I made up, from a book, or just as me living and amazing life. Two of the earliest instances of this were when I made believe I was in the Babysitter's Club, and my little imaginary family: my husband, Thomas Benjamin Franklin, and my three daughters, Meghera, Polly, and Charity. To my knowledge I didn't use my imaginations in the way most kids used them. I didn't talk out loud to them, or blame things on them. I did talk about my little imaginary family, but I never thought of them as real or insisted that they were.

As I grew I would use my "stories" to take my mind off of unpleasant things. I would be Cinderella during our weekly cleaning, for example. They became more and more complex, and there were times when I had several "stories" going on at the same time and then I would pick and choose which was best for the situation. I would revisit certain scenes and change things about them as I learned more about the world (or if I just wanted to change something).

So, why am I letting you all know about something that is actually kind of embarrassing? Because I'm grateful that I have such an active imagination. Sure, sometimes I need to wake up from these stories and face life as it is. But, I think that the stories have given me a good outlet for all of my secret desires, hurts, and needs. I don't like getting mad at people, so instead I will play out a scene in my mind where I do get mad at them. After that, I feel better. It's cathartic. And it is an escape. Sure, I read and watch movies/TV to escape too, but there are times when you just need to put yourself in a complete different situation, one where you are the star.

Also, my imagination has given me a gift: the gift of writing. I know that I'm not the best writer out there and I may never be published, but taking my stories out of my head and putting them on paper (read: little metal complicated pieces belonging to a computer that I have no idea how they work, but they do and for that I am grateful. As long as they don't crash) is such a wonderful feeling. Maybe someday someone will read my writing and it will be an escape for them just as I have used other authors' imaginations to escape.

So, yes, I am very grateful for my imagination. And am very sad for those who don't have one. What do they do?

Nov 24, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 4: Work

There is a line in one of my favorite movies that goes: "I'm blessed with work."

Okay, most of the time I don't feel this way at all. I don't enjoy having to get up and go into work, and dealing with customers and problems. As I'm walking through campus my mind is back in my warm, cozy bed (or on the music I'm listening to; or both). But when I get to work and I start doing what I need to do, it's not so bad.

There are times when I have actually liked the fact that I've had to go into work. Work is distracting. Most of the time you have to apply your mind to it and not think about anything else. There are good people to talk to that I work with, and always something to do (whether or not I always do those things are a different matter . . . ;) ).

Work is a blessing. Being able to work and support myself is a tremendous blessing. This is a hard time to try to find work and I am glad that I have a job. I don't want to make a career out of working at a grocery store, but it has put me through college and taught me a lot about leadership and attacking problems that you see. My job has given me some amazing opportunities as I have worked my way up to student manager.

I will lose my job in about three weeks when I graduate. That is a hard thing to deal with. For months my mind has been filled with worries and questions about what I was going to do, how would I find work, where I would find work. Fortunately, I have been blessed with work in the form of an internship. It will only last four months, but will hopefully give me the experience and confidence I will need to get a job that I like. I'm excited to be a professional and gain the independence that my little student job couldn't offer me.

So, yeah, I'm glad that I have the ability, health, and chance to work.

Nov 23, 2010

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 3: Home

I have been truly blessed in my life.

As I sit in my parent's living room on this cold November evening, I have to reflect on how thankful I am to have a home. A roof over my head, food to eat, a warm bed to sleep in and people who love me.

It isn't just my parent's house either. I have a home with three other girls. My little apartment in Provo is a home to me. A temporary home, but a home none the less.

How blessed am I that I have two homes?

My mom told me when I was fifteen that a home isn't a building, it's where your family is. We were on the brink of moving from the only home I had ever known and I was upset. My memories were there! I had planned on all the most important events of my life taking place within it's walls. How could I leave it behind? I found out that she was right (as she usually is). When we moved to our temporary home in Provo and finally into our new house, I realized that I carry those memories with me. That's is why they are called memories--because they live on in your mind! This new house quickly became my home and it is because I was there with my family.

I'm thankful to be in a position where I have such a comfortable home. A home that is filled with laughter, tears (mostly mine), and memories.

Nov 22, 2010

Big News!

I got my internship!

Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 2: Friends

I have always said that I may not have a great many friends, but the ones I have are great. This is a true statement. I have been blessed throughout my life with just a few friends that have helped me realize the good in me and helped me help myself. They have been my Jerry Maguire.

I wish that I could name them all and say wonderful things about them, but I would certainly leave someone out and then I would offend someone, and then I would be down a friend. That would just be tragic. So, to avoid this, I would just like to thank anyone who has believed in me, trusted me, helped me, and loved me. A big thank you to the friends I've had for years, those I just met, the ones I have worked with, the ones I have had classes with. The friends who have comforted me when I cried, and shared laughs with me. The ones who have read my writing, and came to know my imaginary friends almost as well as I do. And to the friends who have become a part of family.


Nov 21, 2010

A Week of Giving Thanks, pt. 1: Family

Since it is Thanksgiving, and I've been having a bit of a hard time lately, I decided to post everyday this week about something I'm thankful for.

This most important thing in my life that I have to be thankful for is my family. I feel like I post a lot about how much I love them and how amazing they are, but it's just because it is all true. Without the family I have, I wouldn't be the person I am right now.

My parents. Both my parents instilled in me at a young age several basic parts of my being that have made my life beautiful and successful. The first of these is my religion and love of God. If I didn't have the Gospel in my life, I think that I would probably never leave my bed. Knowing that there is so much more out there than just a life that you live until you die is so comforting to me. Knowing that there is a Father in Heaven that wants me to be successful and who loves me keeps me going.

The second basic part is love of education. I am graduating from college next month, and I know that I couldn't have gotten there without my parents. Not only did they let me know how important getting a degree was, but they showed me by their example. Both of my parents have their Master's degrees. And it isn't just education, but learning continually throughout life. How many random things have I learned about on my own just because I wanted to? It's almost impossible to say, but I know it is because I was taught that I can keep learning and that it doesn't have to be restricted to the classroom.

They also taught us all about the importance of family. I count my parents among my best friends, which is really good when I just need someone to talk to about something going on in my life.

My sister. Every girl should have a sister. I was lucky and got a big sister. What is so great is that I can talk to her about things that I am going through that she has had to go through too. Our lives aren't parallels of the others, but there are similar circumstances that we have both had to deal with and it is nice to talk to someone who has already been there. There are just somethings that you don't want to talk to your parents about no matter how good of friends you might be with them. That is where a sister comes in handy.

My brother. Just as every girl should have a sister, every girl should have a brother. He is a protector, and a friend. He is a rock that I can lean against when things get hard in life. A sturdy figure in life. He has problems too and I think it is great that he wants to talk to his dorky little sister about it all. He is an example to me, and I know that he is an example to his companions, the members, and the people he is teaching in the Dominican Republic.

My bro-in-law. I remember a time from my freshman year. I had just gotten my UTA bus pass, but I didn't know how to ride the bus. Frankly, riding public transportation scared me. My bro-in-law was so nice and rode the bus with me. He told me what I needed to know and helped me feel confident about using the UTA system. That's just the kind of guy my bro-in law is.

I love them all, and am so grateful to have them in my life. Thanks for loving me unconditionally and being there for me for now and forever.

Nov 14, 2010

Sunday Special: Feeding the Flamingos

Last summer I was able to go on vacation to California. While there I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they had a special exhibit of flamingos.

Real flamingos (as opposed to the garden variety) have a beautiful bright pink color (as opposed to pepto-bismol). You might know this, but that bright pink color comes from the food they eat, which contains high amounts of beta carotene. This means that if a flamingo cannot get the brine shrimp that it usually eats, its feathers will become white or gray. Since we relate that bright pink color with flamingos, we might not even realize that that white bird is a flamingo.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Let me tell you what I've been thinking about.

In 2 Nephi 31:20 it reads: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father. Ye shall have eternal life."

We are kind of like flamingos. When we are feasting on the scriptures, and the words of the prophets, people can recognize us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They realize that we are children of God because of our "color." If we stop eating what we are supposed to, not only could it be dangerous for our health, but we start losing our brilliance. People can no longer easily identify us as what we are.

We are children of a Heavenly Father. We should be showing the world our colors! We should be feasting on the word of Christ so that we will have that special "glow" that so many people have associated with us. Just as flamingos can share themselves by their brilliant colors, we should be willing to show the world what we believe.

Be like a flamingo. Don't be afraid of being pink, of being different. Our differences are what make us recognizable.

Nov 11, 2010

Good Can Come from Bad

This week did not start out well.

I came off the weekend nursing a cold. On Monday my cold was almost better, but still there and I had developed a cough. Work was fine, but my class was so . . . can I say boring? Okay, boring. FHE was okay, we made pizza and watched Muppets Treasure Island. Overall, Monday wasn't too bad.

Tuesday was when I started getting down. My afternoon was spent working on a project, spending several hours on a computer doing what I find tedious design work. There is something about sitting in front of a computer for three hours that makes me feel irritated, bothered, and restless. Usually that feeling will go away in an hour or two after I finish, but on Tuesday I had to close at work and my bad mood just followed me. I was short with people and was glad when it ended.

The bad thing about working in the morning is that when you close the night before, you don't really have a break between being and work and going back to work--except sleep, which isn't really a break. So, my bad mood didn't truly go away. I did talk to my cashiers and was pleasant. Class was a work period, so at least I did something, but working with a group on a computer project is difficult and irritating, so I went home not feeling much better.

Once I got home, I immediately changed into my pajamas. This was because of two reasons: 1) It was laundry day and I wanted to wash the pants I was wearing, 2) pajamas are comforting. So I did my laundry, watched Glee and Raising Hope, and relaxed. I made dinner: yummy, warm, creamy hamburger stroganoff. Comfort food. I was feeling slightly better, but still sad and not very happy. Then there was a knock on the door.

It was one of my very best friends! She came by to sing with me because I had just gotten The Scarlet Pimpernel sheet music. I love that girl; the moment I saw her my mood was instantly lighter and as we sang beautiful music together I was genuinely happy. Who would have thought that one person could clear the cloud that had been three days above my head?

This morning something else made me happy. I received a call from the Church Office Building. I got some good news from them! It isn't official, so I'm not going to say anything else right now.

Anyway, sometimes good can come from bad.

PS A very happy birthday to my wonderful Mommy! Love you!