Sunday, November 23, 2014

True Gift Giving

Whenever I think of gifts, I am reminded of a paper I read for one of my theory classes a few years ago at BYU. It was in Stan Knapp's class, and we were reading a paper by Zygmunt Bauman (how he scored that name, I'd like to know) about gifts versus exchanges.

This really was one of those life changing moments for me in college, and however little money a sociology major will make me, it did make me think. The paper, as mentioned, discussed the difference between gifts and exchanges, and our professor challenged us to discover an example of a true gift. Harder than you think, because when we give a gift, we're often still hoping for a thank you or at least the good feeling that we helped someone. According to Bauman, if you give something with the hopes of any sort of return, it is an exchange and not a gift. This isn't to say exchanges are bad or shouldn't be motivators for giving, but for me it was a sort of wake up call that I wasn't actually on the fast track to Mother Theresa.

It made me wonder if I've ever given a true gift in my life, at least according to Bauman. Every so often I'll try to do something anonymously and tell myself I'm not going to say anything about it to anyone. Sometimes I make it, but often times I'm still looking for my end of the deal- that someone will know I did something good and tell me I'm a good person. This goes for service too. So often, when someone is having hard time, I find myself thinking of how I want to help. I want to make them cookies, I want to hear the drawn out story, and I want them to thank me for being there for them. But then if I do that, who is it really about? Unless they are my kindred spirit and love eating their feelings while also discussing them, it's about me.

This lesson was ever more powerful when Nate had his brain surgery, and I was the one that needed help. I kept communication with others (minus a few poor listeners) fairly positive and optimistic. Why? Because I didn't want anyone to commiserate with me unless I felt like they were actually doing it to help me, and not just to feel like they "reached out to that girl in need." Call it selfish, or maybe sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted, but when you feel like enough things are being taken from you anyway, the last thing you want to do is give simply to satiate another person's curiosity. Even if it's just giving an answer to, "How are you?" Or I guess that's how it was for me. 

It was a time that I really appreciated what the "true gifts" were for the time- help with absolutely no expectation of return. Help where no one would ask questions or want me to spend time with them, help where people would understand if I took the gift and didn't smile back.  And, to speak of the goodness of many of our friends, that is exactly what we received. Loving texts and messages that didn't expect a reply, food dropped off without a need for thanks, and several significant acts of service without a moment's hesitation. My gratitude for them is deep.

For me, the experience is a reference point for situations when others need help. There was so much I just didn't need, and I have to remember that for others. Instead of calling them up right away, I will think, "Wait- am I calling because I am sad and I want to experience that emotion, or am I calling because I sincerely think this person wants a phone call right now?" 

It's a tough question to ask yourself, and there's no one answer for every situation. And I'm not saying we shouldn't help people. I know for myself, sometimes I need people to keep asking how I'm doing, and sometimes I don't. It's basically crazy. But, I do think we'll never regret taking more time to think about what someone truly needs instead of just what we want to give them, or even what we want them to give us (details, time, etc.) 


Coming back full circle to tangible gifts, and on a way lighter note, I got Nate the coolest Christmas present ever. It is mildly selfish because I loved buying it and I know he will think I'm the best wife ever. So, I guess it's for both of us. ;) 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mormon 101: So... horse and buggy, is that you?

So first off, my job is stressful and laid back at the same time. In our little neighborhood of desks, we all have a million people to answer to and email and organize, and we're never short of a crazy situation. But, somehow we always find ways to chat. We chat about all sorts of things, but fairly regularly, these chats turn to what I like to call Mormon 101.

I'm not sure if it's because I like to talk about it or people like to ask, but I talk about being Mormon like it's my job. (But it's not- my job is to email people, as mentioned above) I don't talk about it in the "I'm Mormon and you should too" way. I feel like I do more dispelling or confirming rumors, and then I try to smile and nod when coworkers tell drinking stories and I don't have the slightest idea of what they're talking about. The combination makes me feel a little like a zoo animal- both experiencing and observing a different world than those around you, even though you're technically in the same place. Or maybe I'm just an oddball and being Mormon has nothing to do with it.

There are some funny things said though. The quote in the title came yesterday from a friend at work. He wanted his daily dose of Mormon 101, and came up to my desk, and in all sincerity, asked if I used a horse and buggy. It was my pleasure to inform him that in fact, I used cars, buses, and airplanes for transportation.This is the same person that asked if a Mormon's future held any promise if they didn't go to BYU. I answered that we were shunned and had no chance of work. After a few moments of silence, I also let him know that we could apply to any other college and still succeed in life and in the church.

I should be more careful with my half-truths, but sometimes it is too difficult to resist. My friend saw some missionaries at the store on Monday, and he asked me why they were all there together, wondering if it held some significance. Before explaining that missionaries have a fairly regimented schedule and Monday is their day to prepare for the rest of the week, I indulged. I told him that it was a mandate for all Mormons to go to the store on Monday afternoons, and I was sacrificing by still being at work. Ah, the look on his face. Hey, if people already think you're crazy, you might as well roll with it. 

To be sure, most of my Mormon 101 conversations are more sincere than the aforementioned (I often tell the truth about my church as well ;) ) and they are not one sided. I've learned a lot about others' faiths and just lifestyles, and it's been great. We talk about the good and the bad, and everybody learns. I can just feel my mind expanding and becoming less ethnocentric. :) That's another topic for another day, but I will say moving to Washington has given me a healthy dose of "Caitlan doesn't know everything" and it's been good :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Book I Think Everyone Should Read

I will always struggle with what should be capitalized in a title and what shouldn't... please give me the grammar rule in the comments if you know.

Anyway, I've been reading this book at the recommendation of one of my best friends:

And I have no reservation in saying that it is changing my life. Unfortunately/fortunately, I'm having a lot of, "Oh wow, I need to get my act together" moments, and it is for the best. I think one of my biggest lessons is calling myself out on how often I justify thinking of or treating others poorly. It's been very eye opening.

One of the core ideas of the book is having a heart at peace versus having a heart at war. A heart at peace allows us to have peace within and towards others, while a heart at war reflects inner conflict and mistreatment of others. I guess what has been profound for me is realizing that what I thought was a totally justified way of seeing others is actually an indication of my own inner conflict. It's hard to swallow, but it does make sense.

Anyway, I highly recommend it. It's maybe 200 pages and will only make you want to be better. It's not religious, but does fall in line with the basic principles of treating others and yourself well, which I always support. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Moving On

Every time I look at my blog, I see "RIP Little Car" and "Nate's Brain Surgery," and I keep thinking, "Ok... it's really time to move on."

Our summer was definitely the most... life threatening? Dramatic? Expensive? that I've had in a while, or that I've ever had really. But, life goes on. We still have to do laundry, we still have to pay utilities, and dang it, we still have to go to church.

Though trials definitely make me resent normal routines, I also think there is comfort in things being "normal." I remember wanting everything to just stop while I had my grieving moments during Nate's stay in the ICU, but I also remember coming home in the mornings and just needing to fold clothes or do my makeup because those things were still the same. I could control them, and they hadn't been phased by life's recent events. When you're worried your life might fall apart, it's nice to just do the dishes sometimes. (Spoken like a true housewife, I know)

And eventually, things got back to normal. Nate is totally healed from the brain surgery, and his hair is thick enough to cover the scar. We're figuring out the one car adventure and I'm getting my daily entertainment by riding the bus (last week a man was cradling his backpack and singing it a lullaby) We have our seemingly mounting church responsibilities, but we're doing it and I like to think we're making a positive impact.

Nate and I also celebrated our 8-monthiversary and one year mark of our being engaged this weekend. It's funny I thought I knew him or even really loved him a year ago. Our marriage has seen the normal newlywed struggles and then some, and thus our relationship definitely has dimension it did not have 8 months or a year ago. I've come love him deeper and better, and I'm just grateful I was smart enough to say yes. We've seen lots of things together, and it turns out Nate is a good adventure buddy. :)

Here's to strength!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

RIP Little Car

So, Legolas is totaled. No more blue Corolla with the bluetooth and touch screen radio and zero acceleration. You can read more about the accident here , but yeah, Legolas is gone.

He was a good car, and I feel a little sad thinking about it being gone. It's like getting rid of a pair of old running shoes. I usually get my thinking/feeling time in while driving or running, so when a car or pair of shoes has to go, it's like saying goodbye to that segment of my life as well. Time to move on, I suppose.

Goodbye Legolas. Mostly goodbye to all the loud music I listened to in that car. It was my first car with a halfway decent sound system, so I think I had blown the speakers (They were starting to crackle...). I guess at least I got my use out of the car in some way! It was a good time, and he will be missed. RIP little car- or I guess more accurately- may your parts be sold to good dealers.

 The Glory Days

Well, on to the next chapter. I will now be learning how to drive stick shift so Nate and I can share his car. Here we go!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dear July: You may have won the battle, but not the war.

Somewhere along the lines, I must have done something very frustrating to the month of July. That is all I can think to explain a random brain surgery and a car accident mere hours after Nate leaves for California.

The Short Version:
The accident was totally my fault. I was trying to get back to the freeway in a city I had never been in before, and was distracted by trying to figure out what my GPS was saying/where I was. As I came to a light, everyone in the lanes next to me was moving and the intersection was clear, so I just kept going. Turns out the light was red, and oncoming traffic was headed my way. A lady hit the front of my car on the driver's side, and then she fled the scene. I got off with a warning instead of a ticket (lucky, to say the least) and my insurance only has to take care of me instead of her as well.

I am fine. My neck and shoulders are sore, but that's pretty much old hat to me now because of how many accidents I've been in. Just another round of chiropractic care and some massage therapy. My car will be in the shop for about a month, and I will drive a fancy rental. And by fancy I mean newer model of the Toyota Corrolla.

The Details:
I think accidents are worse when they're you're fault, because then it's not just the shock and scariness of an accident. It's also the disbelief of how stupid you were in that instance.

I've replayed the situation about a million times in my head- glancing at my phone, looking back at the road and assuming it was my turn, only to suddenly be hit and hear that terrible sound of another car hitting mine. I didn't even know what had happened until I got out of the car and the other woman said, "Are you F*ing kidding me?! You ran a red light!" I stared at her, dumb founded, and didn't say anything, because: A) I didn't know I had run the light and so B) the accident was totally my fault and thus C) she had every reason in the world to be furious with me. I just stood there as she walked past to me to the gas station nearby (never to return, as we later discovered) and tried to piece together what had happened.

They towed both the cars away (neither could be driven at this point) and our friend Brock came and picked me up and took me home. I was still too shocked by the whole thing to have any real response, so I was feeling pretty good and just prepared myself to live with the consequences.

The next day, however, was a little less manageable. I was on the phone for the good part of the morning with the insurance, the towing yard, the mechanics, and the medical adjuster. I will say this for Geico- they have been great to work with, and even had someone come pick me up to go get a rental car. Geico covers me having a rental for up to 30 days. (which, it turns out, is fortunate because my car is going to take about a month to repair.)

After I got the rental, I went to the mechanic where my car was. This was probably the weirdest part of the whole experience. I could have sworn my car wasn't as damaged as it was when I got to the shop. It was a very odd feeling of realizing that this was actually a pretty bad accident, and I was lucky to be alive- never mind not seriously injured. As I looked at my car and saw all the scratches and chunks taken out of the metal, I was filled with a deep sense that I had absolutely been spared. If she had hit me a millisecond later I would not have been so lucky. You'll notice the now concave tire. That could have been me.

 And it was my fault. Like this accident was a total consequence of me being distracted, and yet I escaped punishment in a lot of ways. (Not that I should be grateful the woman was clearly some sort of criminal since she didn't stay on the scene, but... it does help me a lot. Maybe God was trying to teach her a lesson? Who knows)

This weird feeling was only increased as I looked at the inside of my car. From the inside, everything looks completely normal- no dents or scratches anywhere. And it was really weird to see remnants of my normal life when outside the car was totally not normal. I'm trying to describe it, but it was just very odd to see things like grocery lists, receipts, and sunglasses inside the car when outside the car was practically a near death experience.

The Pictures. Yikes.


This is all I can deduce: Nate had random brain surgery, and we were blessed in so many ways I don't think I could ever say there isn't a God. I get in a crazy accident that was my fault, and I walk away with sore shoulders at worst. Either July has it out for us, or God is trying to tell us that whatever happens here on earth, He's still bigger than it and can soften the blow. Who's to say, but Nate and I are still alive and kicking, so here's to life. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Running Journal #1

I decided to start keeping a running journal on my blog. The hope is that it will create some accountability for me and give me a chance to talk about one of my favorite things. My guess is that no one cares, but the idea that an ambiguous someone might is probably enough to keep me running regularly, and that is the goal.

Today was a solid 4.5 miles. In the pouring rain. I entertained myself by making up songs in my head about how hardcore I was while also telling myself I was the best. I don't possess either of those traits, but the self motivation did help me run several hills.

My goal was to run to the temple. I was sopping wet once I got there and thought about how there could probably be a conference talk about it. You know- reaching the temple no matter the odds. However, I was in no place to go inside temple since I was in my wet and dirty running clothes. Better pick a different analogy.

The other fun aspect of this run is that my toenail will likely come off. My second toe on my right foot has lost its toenail multiple times. It's only this toe, and, gross as it is, I get a certain sense of satisfaction whenever it falls off. It's like a rite of passage into being a hardcore runner or something. Anyway, last night I broke the rod that holds up our towels (I was trying to put too many towels on it) and one of the posts landed on my special-volatile-toenail toe. So, between that and the longer run, I can expect a naked toe by the end of the week. Unfortunately this is exciting to no one but me.

Anyway, it was a good run, followed by a good warm shower.

Monday, July 21, 2014

6 Month-iversary

Well, besides made up words (although I think month-iversary is catching on...) Nate and I have had quite the first six months! It has included, but is not limited to:

2 apartments
2 states
1 big new job (Amazon) and a few little ones (me at The Borgen Project and a brief stint at Gap)
2 ER visits
1 brain surgery

and... well I think I just want to end on brain surgery.

We've had quite the go, and I had started this blog with the intention of saying all of the things I've learned about marriage. Unfortunately, I'm a slow learner and wouldn't have much to say except, "Be nice," and, "Brain surgery isn't as bad as it sounds, but you should still bring a lot of chocolate."

However, I have learned more about Nate, more about myself, and more about what I love about Nate. In lieu of it being our six monthiversary, I think I'll list my six favorite things about Nate thus far.

1. He is affectionate, even in his sleep. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I'll reach over and grab his hand or put my arm around his waist. Without waking up, he will grab my hand back or press his arm against mine. This is also true of the early morning hours, and I think it's sweet that even when he's not awake, he still likes to snuggle!

2. He is very ticklish. Like, more so than a little kid. My favorite thing to do is tickle him during prayers at church- you know, when a grown man is supposed to be quiet and still. :) You know he's a good husband because he's still nice to me afterward.

3. He loves loves LOVES cars. We play this game whenever we drive of who can spot the Tesla (or any fancy car really- Maserati, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, etc) first, and Nate can not only spot the car by its headlights, he can also tell you the year, how the engine works, what it's all made of, and how much it cost.

4. He is a smarty pants. Nate loves to research things, and he loves noticing trends. I love it because I am always learning from him, and it always seems like he knows everything. Why google when I could just ask Nate? Also, linear regressions are his favorite thing. I'm beginning to think a shirt with a graph on it would be just as attractive to him as something scandalous.

5. He is a good cook. Nate and I have a lot of fun cooking together, trying new things, and critiquing meals as well. It's one of my favorite things we have in common, and it's nice to have a husband that can whip up something delicious.

6. He's got a great bod. But really- Nate is one buff guy. But, more than just a good body, I love that we do active things together. From tennis to kayaking to just going on walks, I love that we get out, and I love that Nate is always up for whatever I suggest. Not only does he think my ideas are good, but he goes along with them. :)

I love my sweet pea, and I can't imagine life any other way.

 We took these the night we got engaged.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nate's Brain: Home Free

I feel like we are the luckiest people in the world, and I still can't believe they let us go home today. We were told that Saturday would be the day if everything went perfectly, and to consider ourselves lucky at that.

So, when I last wrote, they were challenging Nate's brain. This means they made it more difficult for the brain to rely on the catheter to pump fluid, but it was still possible. After a day of that, they decided to clamp the catheter. This would mimic what it would be like without the catheter while maintaining the security of keeping it there. Nate's brain did great. The pressure stayed at a good level, and Nate felt fine.

The nurses told us that after 24 hours of clamping the catheter, they would then take it out. Then, after 24 hours of doing well with no catheter, we would be transferred from the ICU to a regular recovery unit. We would stay there for 48 hours, and then go home. We were ok with this, and we were honestly just excited to have a timeline and some progress. 

This morning, the physician's assistant came to take out the catheter. She took one look at Nate and said, "Yeah, I don't think we need to transfer you to another room or keep you overnight. I'll see what I can do to get you home today." A half hour later, she came back and said, "The surgeon said you need to go home. I told him about you doing lunges during your walks and he said to get you out of here."

It is seriously like Christmas came early. I have never been so grateful for my bed or my kitchen or just my life being more normal. Obviously we will still need to keep an eye on things, but as far as brain surgery goes, it shouldn't be too bad. 

I'll probably write more later- we were the recipients of so many blessings and so much help, and we feel stronger as a couple. But for now, just know that we're home, happy, and healthy! 


Monday, July 7, 2014

Nate's Brain: Good Timing and The ICU

Last Wednesday, Nate called me asking if I could pick him up early from work. His week-long headache had progressed to the point of him barely being able to function, and he needed to come home. He had taken the prescribed migraine medication, but it didn't seem to be working. Later that evening (around 3am), when Nate couldn't sleep because of the pain, our doctor (who was thankfully on call) said we needed to go to the ER. 

The doctors in the emergency room immediately performed a CT scan, discovered fluid on his brain (hydrocephalus), and then transferred us to the Neuro ICU. There, an MRI showed that Nate had a colloid cyst on his brain, creating a blockage to the ventricles in his brain. Hence the fluid build up and the pressure causing the headache. 

A few hours later, they did an endoscopic procedure to remove the cyst- aka brain surgery. Basically, they drilled a hole in his skull and stuck a small tube through that would both break down and suck up the cyst. The surgery went well and was successful in removing the entire cyst. 

Since then, he has had a catheter where the surgery took place, draining the excess fluid and blood from his brain. Until the brain can get into the habit of pumping/draining on its own, the catheter acts as a support. Nate's drainage has actually gone really well, and they're to the point of doing what's called "challenging" the brain. This means that the brain cannot rely as much on the catheter, and has to pump on its own. This is a good thing, because we don't want the catheter! Because as long as the catheter is in, we are in the ICU. 

The hope is that the catheter will be removed fairly soon (crossing our fingers for tomorrow), and we will leave the ICU. That will be exciting, but unfortunately it does not mean leaving the hospital. Once the catheter is removed, Nate will still need to be monitored (though less closely than in the ICU) for a period of time.

We're not sure how long this will all take. Though everything is going well and Nate has done great, the timeline is still on a case by case basis and is only revealed a piece at a time. I joke that this is like "Choose Your Own Adventure" from Hell. There are so many factors at play and we never know exactly what's next.  

The good news is this- He is doing very well and progressing quickly. Once he is recovered, he will be totally normal. He is still thinking, eating, talking, sleeping, all of the above- normally. Eventually, things really will be just fine.

We also feel extremely fortunate. Nate's best friend Brock moved up here barely a month ago with his wonderful wife Devynne, and the timing could not be better. We also have wonderful friends from church offering their help. It also helps that we just so happen to live by one of the leading neuroscience institutes- Nate's surgery was performed by one of the top neurologists around. And, my internship ended the day before this all began. Good timing- I say yes. 

It is true that Nate's surgery took place when we were supposed to be flying to a family vacation. But- in my mind, it was one less thing to worry about on the way to the hospital since we already had work off.

I also feel the need to apologize for unanswered phone calls and texts. As you can imagine, this is a very busy and overwhelming time for us, and I can barely keep up with keeping immediate family updated. We are grateful for the prayers and the support, and we have been so helped. Though I am not the best at getting back to everyone, I do promise to ask for help when we need it.

I know things are going to be fine, and it's times like this when you realize how much faith in God really helps. Whatever your spiritual affiliation, we have received great strength by appealing to and relying on a higher power. It is still hard, but we're grateful for the perspective our faith allows.  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sometimes the Universe Combines Against You

I like to think of myself as someone who can keep it together. I also like to lie to myself. :)

But sometimes, I swear it is not my fault. Anyone would have a meltdown under the same circumstances, right? Sometimes your day just has it in for you, and you have no choice. You will cry, you will feel sorry for yourself, and you will probably buy yourself frozen yogurt. It's just how it is.

Today was such a day. It was one thing after another, and I pretty much bit my lower lip off to keep from crying at work. The frustration was compounded by the fact that I am the easiest person in the world to read. This always makes my life worse. Anyone could tell I was upset, but whenever someone asked about it, I found it difficult to make the connection between a spreadsheet and my mental breakdown credible. It was just one of those days, and the spreadsheet was the last straw.

So now everyone at work thinks I have some sort of deep emotional connection to Excel and its abilities. They could be right, but it's also true that the rest of the universe was combining against me. I couldn't fight it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One Girl's Quest for Attention: #7 Will Leave You Speechless, and The End is a TOTAL Surprise




The End... SURPRISE!

This is just a commentary on all of the trending articles lately. The titles are so clever and interesting, and the pieces are always SUCH good writing.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thoughts On Sunday- Debunking My Own Testimony

I was sitting in church today during Sunday School, and someone made a comment that started me thinking. They talked about how part of life is figuring out how infinite the Atonement of Christ is. I would agree, and I feel like life is also a continual refinement of testimony, too.

I would say refinement because, especially over the past few years, I feel like my testimony has changed a lot. Where I used to say there was a reason for everything or an answer to ever question, I really don't think that any more. I think there is peace available in times of trial, challenge, or pain, but I don't think there are always answers.

I also used to think doing the right thing and being happy were synonymous. Not true. Sometimes we do the right thing and it's harder, it's less fun, and the payoff is not immediate.

I know none of this is super profound or unheard of, but it is interesting to me that I have always had testimony of Christ, but it has changed so much. I believe in Christ and I believe in His ability to provide peace and companionship in difficult times, and I do believe there are answers available as well. I guess my point is that when answers aren't clear, we still have a friend in Christ, and that's ok.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Feel Good About Yourself in 5 Minutes

Most people are aware that there is suffering in other parts of the world. Most people are aware that the US does a lot to help. However, what most people are not aware of is that the US spends less than 1% of its budget on foreign aid. What most people, or at least myself, are also not aware of, is that you can actually do something to change this. You really can help the starving children in Africa.

I work for The Borgen Project, and our goal is to help people realize they can impact the decisions Congress makes. Congress tallies the calls they receive.* If an issue receives enough attention, Congress will do something about it. So, if you want something to be done to help people receive electricity in Africa or for more people to have access to clean water (here's a list of issues trying to be passed), just follow this link, type in your zip code, and say, "I am calling because I support this act and would like it go through." Or, you can say what the site says, "I'm a Borgen Project supporter and would like to see increased funding for Foreign Aid."

Email is also an option.

So, take 5 minutes, call your people, and then you'll know you did something good for other people. :)

*For your interest, here's a copy of what the weekly tally sheet looks like.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sometimes your house is messy but you blog anyway.

Nate and I have been married barely two and a half months. I think I have cried more in that time than in my whole life put together before I got married.

Now, before you think that my marriage is wholly at fault, just wait a second. I am married to a wonderful man, and the longer we are married, the more I realize this. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the tears from flowing.

I am truly beginning to believe my tear ducts were somehow super-charged once I said, "I do." I cry ALL THE TIME. A cute commercial? Tears. A happy baby? Tears. A pretty hymn in church? Tears! I am telling you. Before I got married, I didn't even cry when I broke up with someone. (To be fair, anger and pride can usually neutralize tears) Now it's like I'm biting my lip every day so I can hold it back, because who cries over YouTube?

So now if Nate even barely disagrees with me, my mind isn't even bothered and I can logically tell I shouldn't be phased, but I can almost immediately feel my eyes welling up.

Maybe it's the birth control. Maybe it's because Nate never tells me not to cry or wonders why I'm upset (even if it makes no sense. Show me a man more compassionate and sympathetic than my husband.) All I know is that I am now a big baby. So it goes.

On to other things, I am volunteering as an intern at The Borgen Project. It's pretty cool- they advocate for Congress to increase funding on Foreign Aid. If anyone can make a difference in the world, it's the US government, so call you Congress person today!

I am also working at the Gap. It's great. I feel like my two occupations are rather revealing. Saving the world sounds good, but so does wearing cute clothes. I guess I'll do both!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Something Nice

I came across this video because someone had posted it on facebook (Yep, my day was made better because of facebook. What have I come to?) and it was actually perfect timing.

This video was a little ray of sunshine when I was having a slightly rough morning. While there is much to love about my new life, I would be lying if I said all the changes have been easy to adjust to. I'm not worried- I think anyone would have a hard time graduating, getting married, and moving all at once. So a big part of my focus right now is just letting myself have a hard time and making adjustments instead of being angry for not being happy every second. Luckily I'm married to the greatest guy in the world, and he's very patient.

I liked this video because it reminded me how grateful I am for Christ, and goodness in general. There is so much good in the world, and there is so much good in my world. Thinking about Christ reminds me of that and helps me to be patient, trust in God, and be at peace. I get stressed out no matter what life hands me- good or bad, and so I'm glad that I can remember Christ in any situation as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On a Lighter Note...

I knew my last post would generate a lot of heated opinions. However, I didn't realize how much I wouldn't appreciate fueling the debate, and if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. So, I deleted the facebook link. Turns out almost no one reads my blog if I don't have it on Facebook. :) I left it on my blog, because that's still how I feel, but yeah- no more facebook.

But, on a lighter note, I was making my lunch, and was again, again again again, reminded that Nate and I do not have a microwave. Initially I didn't think it would matter much, and- to be fair- it takes mere minutes longer to use the stovetop or oven- but you would be amazed how hard of a habit it is to kick. I apparently used the microwave several times a day, considering how often I am reminded I don't have one.

A recipe calls for melted or softened butter. Nope, pull out the saucepan. Leftovers for lunch or dinner? Nope- do a quick analysis of what belongs in a pot and what requires a cookie sheet or casserole dish. Thaw some meat? Better get some warm water running.

It's probably better to not have our food zapped and then instantly available. It teaches patience and minimizes the need for instant gratification. However, it is one more thing to add to the list of "Why I'm Grateful I Wasn't a Pioneer"

That is a great list actually.

I'm grateful I wasn't a pioneer because...

-I like being warm
-I don't like being wet
-or cold
-or dirty
-I like to have a variety of foods on hand. Last night was Mexican, tonight will be Thai, and I'm planning Italian for tomorrow. Pioneers ate the same thing every day
-I like to do my hair and makeup
-I prefer to go to church inside a building
-I sleep with a night light
-I love our BeautyRest mattress
-Having carpet and a vacuum is nice
-I may not have a microwave, but I do have an oven. And sink.

First world problems.

The list goes on, but next time you are uncomfortable, just think, "At least I'm not a pioneer."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Strictly Opinion: Women and the Priesthood

In the recent past, there has been much discussion in my church about women receiving what is called the priesthood. For those who don't know, the priesthood is a spiritual gift, power, and/or authority given to men to act in the name of God, usually in the instance of performing ordinances such as baptisms or blessings.

The priesthood is an outward thing- meaning you can never use it to help yourself. The priesthood will always involve an act of service- one person helping another- when it is used. So for some one to seek after this, in my opinion, is contradictory. It is contradictory because wanting something for yourself is inward, not outward, but also because the priesthood is a gift.

For something to be a gift, it means that it is being given by someone who has chosen to bestow it. The distribution is in their power. The priesthood is a gift. God has chosen to give it to men, and I don't remember God being swayed by large groups or protests.

Now, this is not to say there is no gender inequality in the church or that women don't need a stronger voice. I am all about women being equally represented and having equal weight in decisions, and I support change (as long as it's sound with doctrine). Just ask my husband, or really anyone who knows me. However, this inequality/discrimination/oppression is not just found within my church. It is a world problem. Misogyny is a real thing. But- this is my main point. In my experience, misogyny comes from man, not God. And this is the Church of Jesus Christ, not man. 

I have never felt that God loved me less than men, or that He revealed truth to me less often. If we look back to when Christ was on the earth, He was basically a huge liberal giving women credence in a time when they had none. His best friend was Mary Magdalene- she was the first person who knew He'd been resurrected. Christ had 12 (or 11, since Judas had died by then) male apostles in charge of running the church, but Christ went to her first (John 20:11-18). Women may be treated unfairly, but it's not because of anything Christ did. It's because people make mistakes.

Also, women have been given gifts from God as well. Women have made covenants with God as well. And I can't think of a higher form of service than motherhood- giving up your body for 9 months, and then all your time and energy ever after. I wonder if the attention should shift from what we don't have to magnifying and understanding what we do.

So, back to the issue at hand, the women who want the priesthood are planning a protest at a worldwide meeting the church is having. I wish they wouldn't. It's a huge disrespect to a gathering many people revere as sacred. Do it another day, and do it somewhere else. Also, if someone does have issue with not having the priesthood, the person they should go to is God, because He's the one that makes things happen and He's the one who decided who to give the priesthood to back at the beginning of the world. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I talk a lot. Since I'm home alone, I'll blog a lot.

I like to read those silly articles people post on facebook. You know- the ones that have titles like, "What is ACTUALLY wrong with Miley Cyrus" or "The Best 10 Ways to Wear Pants". It's like dessert for my mind- useless, no real nutritional value, but still enjoyable.

Anyway, today I saw one that was called "5 Relationship Myths" or something like that. They always have numbers. However, unlike most of these mental dessert articles, this one had a little quote I found rather profound-

As a rule, notice how many times the word should enters your thinking process when it comes to your relationship and try to let it go. There are no shoulds or molds that you have to squeeze yourself into; there's only what works for the two of you.*

I love it because I feel like my mind is filled to the brim of "shoulds". Not just in a relationship, but in everything. I think there are so many external expectations for what we wear, listen to, eat, think, handle social situations... the list goes on. It'd be hard to break it, but I'd like it if I could always do things just because I wanted to, and not because I felt like something else was telling me I should. And, I'd like to practice not being disappointed or frustrated when things don't go the way they "should".

***Because I read enough syllabus in college to know that plagiarism is wrong,  here is the article-

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Road Less Traveled... At Least By Me

First off, I absolutely love this song by John Legend. I have always appreciated the realness and sincerity of his love songs (haha especially PDA) and this is no exception.

This song talks about how he loves this woman with all of himself, and loves all her as well- whatever mood she's in. I felt it rather fitting as that is definitely Nate- loving me no matter what. And- let's get real- I'm a moody kid.

It got me thinking about why I married Nate in the first place. I married him for many reasons, but one of those reasons was that Nate is different than I am. Our strengths and weaknesses have almost a direct inverse relationship, but I actually wanted that. I dated a lot of guys because we had things in common- because they thought like I did, they liked the music I did, or they agreed with a lot of my opinions. Eventually I decided I already had more than enough personality, and certainly didn't need to be reinforced. And so there is Nate- my other half. He is not my other half in the sense that we are a continuation of each other, but in the sense that we both provide what the other needs- the half that was missing before.

Is it difficult to be different? Yes. But I am so grateful for a husband that excels when I lack, and allows me to show him things as well. So those are my thoughts. Being with someone like Nate was not my normal course, but it has proved to be so much better.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

All of the Above... One Month Later

I realized that I posted exactly one month ago- woohoo time for a recap!

Somewhere around the end of July/ beginning of August, I started feeling like my life was going to change come fall. I wasn't sure what it meant- a new job? A new living situation? A new... cross my fingers... relationship? Little did I know it was all of the above. Six months ago, I was single, working at the MTC, ready for another year at BYU, and pretty sure I was destined to be in Utah till at least 2015. Well, we all know I was about to be pleasantly surprised. Graduated, married, my last day at the MTC was yesterday, and we're moving to Seattle. Like tomorrow. Best believe I have thoughts on all of those.

Graduation- I already wrote a post about. I gained a lot from BYU, and I'm ready to put it to use. There will always be a place in my heart for my time here though- the fun, the spontaneous, the difficult classes, the painful times, the friendships, the frustrations of dating, the loneliness, the learning, and basically just the life changing.

Marriage! I am married. It's funny- living with and being with Nate all the time isn't weird. But whenever I say, "I'm married." it's a novelty. It's only been three weeks, though.

The wedding was its own kind of crazy. Anyone who was there knows that the man who married us was a straight up loon. Like- his very own special brand of crazy. During the ceremony, people were shocked as he spoke about everything from spousal abuse to run-ins with chainsaws. Yeah- crazy.
But, at the end of day, Nate and I are still married, before God, our shocked guests, and our special friend Mr. Looney Bin. I guess it really is a testament to the power of God though. I still feel that our marriage is sacred, God is a part of it, and we will be together forever, regardless of whatever weird people do.

The honey moon was awesome, though. We spent a wonderful relaxing week on the Big Island- driving a convertible, eating fresh fruit, enjoying hikes and the beach, and going to National Parks.

The MTC. I had my exit interview yesterday with my boss, and it was hard to believe that my time there had come to an end. I have never had a job so demanding, rewarding, exhausting, and just thorough. My boss and I talked about how much I had changed since I was hired, and I talked about how much refinement I felt I'd experience since working there. In a lot of ways it was like another dose of the mission in that I was so aware of my weaknesses, but was also given the regular opportunity to look outside myself and help someone else. I've taught about 800 missionaries, and now it's someone else's turn.

I will definitely miss the insights and the learning the missionaries experience, and that I experienced too. I will also miss having a spiritually focused job. At the same time though, I could definitely feel that it was time for me to move on. Everything has a time and a season- someone will take my place, and I will go elsewhere.

...Elsewhere meaning SEATTLE!!! When Nate came home and told me he had the job, I started crying because I was so happy. I LOVE Seattle. I loved it when I lived there, I've loved it when I visited, and I'm going to love it as Nate and I begin our lives there. So awesome.

I'm excited for the adventure, and I also think it will be good for Nate and I to start over somewhere together. Utah has a lot of memories for us, but they are mostly of our single lives. So- let's get this marriage thing started. :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Best Idea

I should go out running errands, buying last minute things, thinking about my little budget, and trying to make our funky apartment more of a home. But instead I'm going to write a blog, because... I want to. :)

The week before the wedding is stressful, I've decided. I'm not especially surprised by this- life tends to get crazy right before you do anything big to it, especially when other people are involved. Weddings, I have found, tend to illicit a lot of advice and also opinions, and you simply cannot make everyone happy. Oh well- at least I'm only having one!

The good part is this. I've decided it was the best idea ever to meet Nate in the temple because now we can go on temple trips together all the time, and the really fun thing- we can sit in the room where we are going to be sealed whenever we want. In the midst of all the stress, this proved to be one of the best calming, peaceful cures. Last week we were sitting there, all alone in this big, beautiful room, imagining who would be sitting there and talking about how it would go. I felt so happy and so excited, and definitely felt the Spirit confirm to me that marrying him was the best thing I could be doing.

I also felt grateful to be able to sit there together weeks before we got married. What a neat opportunity to be so close to our temple, and to have access to that room where we will be sealed.

Sealing rooms always remind me of a woman I met on my mission- I was showing her pictures of the inside of the temple and explaining that pretty much everything we do there is making some sort of promise with God. When we got to the sealing room, and I explained that the promise we make there allows our families to be together not just in this life, but also in the life to come.

She started crying and said, "You know, I always hoped that it would be that way."

Her saying that always stuck with me because I think I had gotten so used to telling people, "Yeah yeah yeah, temple is really cool, and by the way your family will be together. And now on to the Book of Mormon..." Her hoping made me realize that it is really special, and it is really cool.

And so now, next week, I'm marrying Nate and we don't ever have to worry about losing each other.  While I have questions about a lot of things regarding religion, the temple is so beautiful to me, and I love that we get to make a promise of marriage to each other and God that transcends life itself.

For more info about temples, go here.