Thursday, June 19, 2008

I know so very little

As I go to work and am surrounded by great literary minds and grammar geniuses, I feel pretty darn stupid.

I know how to use technology, yes. I know how to design publications on InDesign and how to manipulate photos in Photoshop. I also can make my own cool texts in Illustrator.

But I still only have a Bachelor's degree, and I still can't remember what the 10 basic sentence structures are, and I can't even remember offhand what an indirect object is (which was made clear to me in my Spanish 101 class).

There's so much to learn, and I feel unable to grasp much at all. For instance, I have started reading about seven books; I haven't finished any of them. I am interested in so many things and want to have a hand in each, but never really get anywhere because I don't have seven hands.

I want to know everything, yet I don't have the discipline to really learn one thing.

Perhaps this desire to know it all provides yet another motivation to gain exaltation so I can have a perfect knowledge. I guess I'll just have to settle with my imperfect brain and have patience for the life I have ahead of me to read lots of good books and learn lots of new things . . .

. . . like how to clean spit up thoroughly out of any fabric.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I decided I didn't like my blog layout again. I want to change it. It's like when I was younger and trying to name my stuffed animals: I would pick and name, and then later decide I didn't like it. I soon realized that continuously changing their names defeated the purpose of having a name all together, so I stopped naming them because I couldn't stand the thought of having to stick with the name I picked forever.

I'm scared for the time when I have to name my own children . . .


Why am I so good at it?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Brought back to reality

I recently wrote an article for a local magazine focused on two stroke survivors and increasing awareness about strokes and their symptoms. I was currently wrapped up in the current events surrounding my own life, probably complaining about something, when it hit me: it can all change in a second.

This man was a successful, relatively young, doctor when he had his stroke. His entire left side was initially paralyzed, but he got his movement back. However, he is still struggling to put words together. Suffering from general aphasia, he lost all communication skills. Sometimes struggling to find the right words, he told me he'd rather have an arm and a leg paralyzed than to have lost all speech and writing skills.

Humbled by this experience, I want to try harder to appreciate all the small things I can do everyday, and all the wonderful people in my life. I take my husband, parents, and siblings for granted much of the time, but I want to think about, serve, and show my love more. It sure is comforting to know that I have eternity to spend with them and if something happened to one of them, I could see him or her again. But showing love now sure goes a long way.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Expect things to go wrong

I wish I could call myself an optimist, but I don't think I can call myself a pessimist. I am disloyal to both categories, I waffle about my position, and change my argument.

Anyway, it may sound that living by the adage to expect things to go wrong, or to expect things to not go right, is living negatively or pessimistically; but I think it's a good way to cope with the fact that life isn't perfect.

I am one that likes to plan: I make lists of things to do everyday, lists including laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning the toilet, and sending an email I keep putting off. Being able to check them off gives me a sense of completion and satisfaction. So with that in mind, I like things orderly and to go the way I planned. But of course, life never seems to work out that way.

This is true in both major life plans and small, day-to-day events. For instance, I was going to go on a mission, and I got married instead; I was going to go to graduate school, but for now I'm an adjunct professor living in Rexburg; I was going to finish my senior basketball season and enjoy several sports in college, but I tore both my ACLs. Now, although all that seems bad, when I look back, it was meant to be, even if it wasn't in my initial game plan.

Dealing with day-to-day events not going right are oddly harder to cope with sometimes. Like today--I was planning on conducting a telephone interview for an article I'm writing, then going out, doing errands, and swimming. However, my interviewee didn't answer at the appointed time, and then I was left waiting around for the call. Then I get a call telling me he'll call back in half an hour. Now an hour later, I'm writing a blog, not getting my errands done because he might call. Frustrating?

Or sometimes I make plans for a weekend and then find out my husband made other plans; sometimes these plans are even worse than not being mine--they don't include me.

The list can go on. But what bugs me more than all those little misadventures now is that I let them get to me.

Going through big trials and derailments, like my knee surgeries, eventually became this noble thing that was meant to help me grow and find meaning in life. It was hard, but somehow I eventually was ok with it. But those stupid little annoyances don't seem to have a purpose but to make my life miserable.

For the record, my life is not miserable.

Anyway, my goal from now on is to just expect for things to turn out differently than I planned them. (My advice on weddings: "Expect the unexpected" is never truer. My experience: I dropped red lipstick on my skirt! Everyone tried to wipe it off, thinking it was a dropped rose petal. I was devastated, but to my credit, I handled it pretty well. My poor mom though . . . )

So, good luck to us all to find a way to plan and find purpose in our lives while taking the unexpected in stride.

Reporting Back

Exactly one month later I am here to say that yes, saying "thank you" made my day better. Unfortunately, I haven't thought about it much since March 19.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Saying "Thank You"

I checked out a book from the library yesterday on the benefits of saying "thank you." Apparently this habit is declining, because apparently you can write a whole book about it.

I do have to agree with what she said in the introduction at least--being grateful and saying "thank you" are almost guaranteed to make you a happier, more productive person, and certainly more pleasant to be around.

President Henry B. Eyring, first counser to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a talk last General Conference about the importance of taking the time to notice the gifts God has given you and your family. He suggested recording those blessings in some way as a way to remember them ourselves and as a physical sign to God that we are taking the time to notice and be thankful.

So, it's my goal to focus on the good things that happen to me today, be thankful for them, and perhaps even find a way to be thankful for the bad things that happen as well.

I'll report back.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Aisle 2

I was so proud of myself when I was old enough read the huge signs hanging from the ceiling at the grocery store: cereal, salad dressing, canned vegetables. But I was frustrated when I went to go find sun-dried tomatoes, and realized that I didn't know what category they would be in. These sun-dried tomatoes were packed in oil, so I thought they might be near the artichoke hearts and other preserved vegetables. Come to find out, they were on the tomato aisle. Go figure.

This experience brought several thoughts to mind: humans like to categorize things; they get unsettled when they don't know what category to put something (or someone); and no matter how hard people try to not be in a category, they will eventually box themselves in one for purposes of having some kind of identity or because others have put them there.

It also brought to mind my frustrations with the current presidential race and how unpolitical it is--it's all about belonging to a group. It feels like there's no winning.

If you are a republican and support John McCain, you are not being true to traditional Republican ideals. If you vote for John McCain, you're not forward-thinking enough to elect the first black man or woman.

Then it gets really messy with the "minorities." If you vote for Obama, you're only voting for him because he's black; if you don't vote for him, your anti-black president. If you vote for Clinton, you're only voting for her because she's a woman; if you don't vote for Clinton, you're a misogynist.

You have support a non-traditionally-republican white man, a black man, or a woman.

There's no voting on principles or policies, positions must be made on terms of your category, whether you put yourself there or someone else did.

Not that this is a new idea--although George Washington warned against creating parties, the next election became a battle between factions, and it's been that way ever since.

I felt duped when I grew up. When I was younger I thought you got a job based on the quality and quantity of skills and experience. Come to find out, it's all about who you know. Likewise, in politics, I used to think that the one with the best experience and ideas about government got the job, but I now know it's about money and connections.

It may seem like I'm anti-US government. This perception is not true at all. I believe that what we have is the best human-kind can create and follow. It's just the human nature in us all that gets frustrating, including the way that we visualize our own identity, but that's a rant for another day.

You never know who's listening

As I was listening to the radio the other day, I heard an ad for some sort of local easter function. But I was immediately distracted from the rest of the ad when I heard the easter-bunny-like narrator say the following:

"Special hunts will be provided for children ages 0-10, including a hunt for kids with special needs."


It just reminded me how funny the English language is, and that we all need to be careful how we write and speak. You never know who is listening, or reading.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Being content

I have a hard time enjoying where I am, thinking there's always somewhere better to be, something better to be doing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Becoming Something

Flying through the air, I jumped to my father's arms outstretched over the water.

Flying through the air, I jumped to be beat the girl next to me in a state finals heat.

Somewhere between these two moments of airtime, I became a swimmer. A competitive swimmer. I was a sprint freestyler. Somewhere in the millions of wet yards, a transformation occurred.

Some search for it their entire lives, some find it early in life and then want to break out of it. Others like me fall into it, looking back wondering if I didn’t feel it because I was covered with water.

Oceans of literature teem with stories of characters coming-of-age, searching for their heritage, searching for stability, searching for identity. I've read a lot of books, and I've often wondered if I was searching for something. Did I have a stable identity? Should I be plagued with a sense of loss as a teenager because I needed to find myself? While these may have been important, I usually had to leave them on deck when I dove into swim practice.

Then it occurred to me: I am something; I don't just do something. I am a swimmer. Somewhere between my two weightless moments I went from being able to swim, to being a swimmer. The evolution from a verb to a noun is an important signifier of the real distance I had covered, not measurable in yards. Owning something to a point that I can't separate myself from that "thing" brings a sense of confidence and meaning to my life. While my religious beliefs obviously give life in general meaning, a tangible validation sure pushes me towards success in swimming and other areas.

While I can't remember when I wasn't a swimmer, the newest addition to my identity has attached much more recently. As I just graduated and looked back at my college education, I was granted another realization that added to my personal dimension.

I am a writer. I am a professional communicator. I am a designer.

Until that moment, I only thought I could write, could produce professional documents, could design pages.

Granted, there's no doubt that I have room to progress. Orson Scott Card said that college doesn't really teach you anything, it just teaches you how to learn. And rightly so, I have become something, not learned everything. I have become a writer, looking forward to learning to write better now that I have the confidence to do what it takes to do so.