Month: October 2012

Four Eyes

Image

For the first time in my life I have glasses! They are just temporary until I finish vision therapy and can get my prism frames but they will help make the therapy more effective.  Since I don’t need them for long I could get less quality and went to a great website called https://www.zennioptical.com/  The glasses only cost me about $35 including shipping!

What do you think?  Do I pull off the whole cute nerd/sexy librarian look?  Its going to take some getting used to.  Its strange looking through boxes at the world.  I will probably want contacts once I have my permanent prescription.  I am sure I will get more used to it in time.

Its also hard to get used to the prescription. I’m so used to compensating that it feels strange to see things differently.  I bet I’ll adjust quickly.

So, that’s the new look 🙂

October Almost Over

Can I just say I’m glad October is almost over?  It has definitely been one of those months that I look back with a sigh of fatigue.  In one month I had a near panic attack, worked 50+ hours every week, got in a car accident, helped plan a reunion, battled a wicked infection, started vision therapy, and hit some roadblocks on my house build. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  Thank goodness I had a weekend off at the beginning!

I certainly hope that November is less eventful.  It may be the other extreme because I will be home a lot writing my book.  Sounds nice! I do have book club, swim meet on the 10th and some kind of Thanksgiving to break things up.  Plus, I will probably start boxing up non-essentials towards the end of the month.  I am so not looking forward to moving and stress of closing/buying my first property. I looked into hiring movers but it was so outrageous $1200 for just the big pieces in a 2 bedroom apartment.

I’m sorry in advance if I’m not the most festive this Christmas season.  It will be all I can do to just get through it.

I kind of wish I could do Thanksgiving and Christmas in January and February. Would that be too weird? I will go to Messiah Sing and and Christmas Carol.  Got to keep those traditions alive.  Will miss my memory tree but will definitely have to get an ornament to symbolize this crazy time of my life.

Not visiting my folks this year for Christmas or Thanksgiving is going to be interesting.  Luckily I have so much going on there won’t be much time for loneliness.  Like I said just got to get through the next couple months.  If I complete my novel, move, close my house, get tenants moved in, survive end of the year at work without going insane I will be a happy camper.

I’ve got to think of simple Christmas gifts that can be easily shipped, won’t take much time or cost much (between vision therapy, surgery, accident and home purchase, my pocket book has taken a hit!).

Anyway, excuse me for complaining a bit but I really am grateful to get through October.  Now on to November.  🙂

 

 

Outside the Utah Box

I don’t know about you but I’m always looking for something outside the box.  Something different, unique, and fun (and right now, cheap!).  Knowing NaMo is coming up I particularly wanted to fill this weekend up with a lot of experiences, make it jammed packed!  (I’m going to be starting at a screen for probably 12 hours a day including work and NaMo so got to be careful to keep my sanity as I write.

It all started on Thursday I met my friends Emilee and Rachel M for a silent movie at the Edison Street Events.  It was a really unique place.  A traditional Wurlitzer theater organ that was originally built around a chicken coop and then expanded.  The building is obscure and hidden away and I’m not sure how I heard of it but they were doing a screening of Phantom of the Opera (1925 version) with live organist.  This is not an ordinary organ but literally the pipes completely surround the room.  The keys are different too with sound effects such as drums and screams that are not in a normal organ.  The screen is small but I was completely immersed.  The organist was AMAZING!  and never missed a beat of synchronization with the movie.   He also included sections of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which was a lot of fun.

I will definitely go back.  Next up they have a Harold Lloyd screening, followed by Laurel and Hardy.  So great!.

http://www.edisonstreetevents.com/silent-movies/

On Friday I continued the fun (btw I worked 53 hours last week so it was not a complete fun ride…) by going to see my friend Etsuko’s Middle Eastern Dance recital.  I am the worst dancer ever and I am not saying that to be modest.  I really have almost no natural sense of rhythm or timing.  Because I am so bad I appreciate anyone who is willing to dance in public and perform.  I would never have the guts.

The recital was gorgeous and exciting with sword balancing, belly dancing and hip moving.  I have never seen that kind of dance so that made it more fun.

3rd person from right is Etsuko.
They had some professionals there along with the students and they were pretty great

After the recital I went over to my sisters and we decided to go to a movie.  Its funny because we are both movie goers yet have not been to a movie together in over a year! Crazy how that happens.  I had been telling her about Perks of Being a Wallflower because I knew she would love it, so we went and saw and no surprise she loved it.  ( I was so sure that I bet $100 she’d like it! Good thing I got to keep my $100).

It is not a movie for everyone because of its darker elements but I’ve seen it twice and loved it more the second time.  The characters are so well developed.  They feel so authentic, like I can actually picture people I knew in high school saying those lines and experiencing those things.  I definitely want to read the book as the movie is written and directed by the author.  It is definitely an outside of the box kind of movie and those come around so rarely I’m grateful when they do.

Saturday was more subdued but still a lot of fun.  I slept in (didn’t get home until after 2 after chatting and shopping with Anna) and then went to the local NaNoWriMo kick off party in South Jordan.  It was a little chaotic but I got to meet 2 other writers who had both done the challenge before and they gave me some tips. I feel pretty confident in my ability to finish and write something I will be proud of.    The guy was writing a fantasy novel and I can’t imagine inventing a whole world and characters in one month.  I feel overwhelmed just telling my own story, but I guess they are both hard in different ways.

After the party I went home and then called my friend Sarah to see if she wanted to hang out and she did!  I love it when you call someone spur of the moment and they are free.  Doesn’t happen very often any more but makes me super happy when it does.  We went to this yummy sushi place that is like 2 steps from my house (hurray new find!) and then watched an old staging of Macbeth (to get ready for book club next week) by the Royal Shakespeare Company (from 1979 with Judi Dench and Ian McKellan).  The filming looked dated and was a little hard to get past but the play and performances were amazing!  Again, it was just fun to watch something out of the ordinary, something I might normally have selected.

I know this is a bit of a rambling post but I’m always hearing people say ‘Utah is so boring’ or ‘There’s nothing to do here’.  Look at all I did in 3 days in Utah for under $20 total, $30 if you count the sushi.  I’ve often wanted to make a blog of 52 weekends of fun in Utah, where you profile new and exciting things to do every weekend in Utah, give reviews, have a calendar of events etc.  I think wherever you live it just takes a little bit of digging to find a wealth of fun, unique, exciting things to do with your time.

And think a little outside the box.  Try something new. You might hate it but isn’t that what makes life exciting? If we are totally predictable and never do anything different than we will never grow or develop.  I say that as a fairly predictable, but accepting person. I know what I like and usually go for it but every now and then I push myself and decide to grow a little.

Anyway, stop saying Utah is boring and get out and do some of the great things we at our fingertips!

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/in-defense-of-utah/

 

 

 

Creativity vs Convention

My brain is fried from entering accounting all day but I have something on my mind I wanted to explore.

Here it is-

I’ve always respected refreshing, unique stories.  Not necessarily fantasy but just out of the ordinary enough to make me think.  That’s why I loved A Girl Named Zippy and The Book Thief.  That’s why I like Juno, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Inception etc.

Then why I am writing such a conventional story? And worse off its my life and probably the most dramatic thing that’s ever happened to me. Quitting my job…What does that say about my life? Kind of depressing when you think about it. Sigh…

But I also love convention.  I love a good Hallmark movie, a Sophie Kinsella book, Anne of Green Gables, sitcoms, The Help, Edenbrooke, reality tv, and a good rom com.  Sometimes I wonder if that means I’m not as much of an intellectual as I like to pretend? This worries me.

Do any of you struggle with these types of feelings?

The one thing I know I care about regardless of creativity or convention is strong characters.  A Nora Ephron movie may seem conventional to most but I love her characters and snappy dialogue.  Perhaps why I tend to not like fantasy/dystopian novels is they tend to get so caught up in setting and atmosphere that the characters and dialogue get lost.  Like a George Lucas movie, all fluff and no heart.

So, how do I make this character one I would want to read despite convention?  That seems easy enough given the character is ME but I don’t know about that? What makes my story unique? I’m not begging for compliments here just exploring.  Having never tried I am SURE it will be harder than I can imagine.  Its perhaps a little tricky as well to create the character I was then and not the person I am now.  The change will not feel real if I already know all the answers.

I love in You’ve Got Mail how Meg Ryan’s character deals with losing her store and how it makes her this different person.  That’s the kind of thing I’d like to tap into when sharing my story but keep it light like that movie.  I know that’s a high standard but you have to keep something in mind for tone.

Maybe I will be surprised at how interesting I am? You never know it could be easier to capture this story than I think.  I’ve just had that gut feeling that this is important for me to write for some reason.  It’s just getting that character right.

Convention vs creativity?

Hmmmm.  What do you all think?

LOL

Preparing to Write My Story

NaNoWriMo coming up!

So as many of you know I am going to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge in which you must write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days of November.  It is something I have wanted to do for many years and believe me this year had a lot of excuses but I just decided to go for it anyway.    My twitter friend Abby and I have made a pact we would both finish or we have to do a polar bear plunge!  That’s motivation for you!

My story is one I’ve wanted to put to paper for some time.  It is based on my experiences in 2007 when I took the great leap of faith and quit my job.  I have written about that moment greatly on my blog but have always felt it had the inherent drama necessary for a good book- something along the lines of Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisenberg.

I will be adding a romance to the story which will be a lot of fun considering I’m a bit of an amateur in that department.  Hopefully I’ve seen enough romantic movies to make it believable.

A couple of challenges I have run into as I’ve outlined my piece.

1. How religious should I make the character?  Since it is my story it is hard to imagine not making the character religious.  My faith was a huge reason I took the leap of faith.  I knew for sure from God that it was the right thing to do.  Without that reassurance I may not have been so brave.   Not that it is going to be published by any means but I want my story to be as accessible as possible.  It seems so rare in modern literature that there is a character who is Christian without it being a ‘christian novel’.

2. How many characters to develop?  Well, I have 5 siblings, 2 parents, lots of friends etc but it seems too much so I’m tempted to make her an only child but maybe one or 2 sisters wouldn’t be too much to follow.  I also am morphing 2 of my former roommates personalities, Emily and Camille, into one roommate for the character.  You don’t want to make it too cluttered but also want to have enough drama for 50,000 words.

3.  The other challenge is to make a pretty dark time in my life real without making the character seem unlikable.  I was very unhappy at that time, even depressed, and I want to show that without having the character seem whining and annoying (which I’m sure I was at this time. Sorry friends). I’ve been thinking about Drop Dead Diva and how they take some tough things the character has been through (like dieing!) and still help it feel light and funny.  The whole reason that show works is because the characters are all so likeable.  The plots are kind of stupid but we don’t care because we like Jane so much.  I hope I can pull off that kind of likability while showing a relatable version of the workplace.

Tone is going to be a challenging thing to maintain in this story.  With panic attacks, anxiety and a lot of unhappiness I will have to work to keep the chicklit tone but I think it will be all the better for it.  (If you look at most chick lit it involves some kind of sadness, usually at the beginning, like a death, divorce, break up, infertility etc).  Wouldn’t it be the greatest thing if someone , someday read my story and thought- I’ve been there, I’ve dealt with that, let’s see how she does.  That ‘d be awesome!

4. Character names?  Because this is coming from real life I am having a hard time picturing the characters as anything else but their real names.  I’m using those for now but eventually I will have to give them different names because they are not accurate portrayals just inspired by true characters.   My sister had some good suggestions for choosing names.  Do you out there in cyberspace have any suggestions?

I’m really excited about writing my book.  I wish I could get started now.  I read my outline to my sister Anna and she liked it.  Hurray!  I am sure I will write a lot of it in the first week and then cool down a bit after that but it helps when you can type 120 words per minute touch type.

It will be so exciting when I get my certificate and it says ‘you have written a novel in a month’.  I will frame it!

I love a good deadline and challenge.  Makes me very happy.

So, who wants to read my book once it is done?  I might let a select few…

Think the whole process is a waste of time? (heard that from some) Check out this article with some reasons why to do NaNoWriMo

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/11/12-reasons-to-ignore-the-naysayers-do-nanowrimo.html

Romney’s Funny

So I’ve been sick the last few days and been working more than I should.  I still struggle to sleep at night even when sick so after my 20 minutes of trying to go to sleep I turned on the TV and stumbled up on Mitt Romney’s remarks at the Alfred E. Smith dinner.   It made me laugh a lot.  In fact, I thought it was much funnier than anything SNL has done this season.

Favorite lines:

“…tomorrow’s headlines would read, “Obama Embraced by Catholics; Romney Dines With Rich People.”

“Usually when I get invited to gatherings like this it’s just to be designated driver”

“In the spirit of big bird this dinner is brought to you by the letter “O” and the number 16 trillion”

After looking at recent job #s President will boast “you’re better off than you were four weeks ago”

On the bias of the press, headlines will say “polls show Obama leading from behind.”

Nice to have a good laugh! Hopefully it will make a few people see Romney in a new light. Not as stiff an unapproachable as the primaries made him look.

Macbeth

Our bookclub book this month is Macbeth by William Shakespeare.  Kind of funny to go from Sophie Kinsella to Shakespeare but I guess that says a lot about my eclectic reading taste more than anything else!  I’ve really enjoyed reading and listening to it again this month.  I hope the language doesn’t seem too daunting for some.  I love it!

MacbethMacbeth by William Shakespeare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day. To the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

Who could not like such poetry? What a ghastly and ghoulish tale full of murder, revenge, uprising, ghosts, witches and the madness of the human mind. It is without a doubt one of the greatest of Shakespeare’s works and one of the most unique, having elements of Hamlet, King Lear and Othello but still remaining a singular work.

I hadn’t read it for many years but what struck me this time is the theme of time. Macbeth learns his future, as many of us would wish to do, and then is compelled to make that future his own at any cost. How many of us would do the same? How many of us dream of a grand life and don’t realize that what we have at the moment is already as grand as we are meant to be?

I think most of us if given the opportunity for our dream life would make certain sacrifices that we would later regret. Hopefully not as dramatic as Macbeth but still I think we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to at least be tempted to do almost anything to get where we knew for sure we could get.

I also find the madness of Lady Macbeth very interesting.  How can we go from being so sure of something to being completely controlled and mad from anguish from it?  In a tail of witches and ghosts it is perhaps the twisting of the human brain that is the most terrifying of all?  They say all of Shakespeare’s tragic characters have fatal flaws.  No doubt Macbeth’s is the ability to be controlled and Lady Macbeth is the ability to control.  Can we not all also see ourselves in both flaws?

Makes you think right?

What would you do for the sure thing? for prophesied glory? What frailties would manifest themselves in you in such a moment? Those are  the questions of Macbeth.

PS. No surprise that I bring even Macbeth back to work and career ambitions…
View all my reviews

A Lousy Sick Person

I remember the good old days when being sick meant chicken soup, movie watching, slurpees and my Mom reading me a story and giving me a hot towel to feel better…Sigh for those days are long ago. (I obviously had a great mother right!)

Working from home is a great blessing but I have a hard time really resting.  I regularly suffer from insomnia and unfortunately this does not decrease when I am sick.  I can’t seem to turn off all of the things left to do and it is so easy to do them, that far too often I do.  I technically took 6 hours of vacation  today but I should not have because I really worked all day.  Sigh…

So here was my sick day.  I woke up and worked solid until about 11.  Then I was coughing so much I had to lie down.

Cough, cough, cough
Trying to rest

I took some cold medicine and read my book club book Macbeth by Shakespeare (very enjoyable).   I still felt antsy and couldn’t relax.  I stopped an answered more emails, all which seemed immediate and I was grateful I had answered them.  (That is my greatest problem.  I am sure they could wait but in the moment it does not feel like they could).

I went to an insomnia specialist on Tuesday and we talked about my anxiety and struggles relaxing.  She challenged me to turn off my cell phone for 4 hours.  As she was saying it I grew involuntarily tense like she had put a spell on me.  I was surprised  by the strength of the response.  She quickly said in alarm ‘we don’t have to do that right away…’.  I want to work on this but not sure how. We’ll see.  I will keep chipping away at it.

Anyway, I decided to make some soup for sick little old me.  It was a lentil soup mix I had that required adding carrots, onions and celery.  I was chopping the ingredients (I had all 3 from bountiful baskets) and cut my finger badly.

Poor sad finger

I was worried I would pass out when I cut it and my whole arm felt tingly.  Luckily it healed up pretty good.

So then I tried to rest some more but I felt guilty for not checking the PO Box for Poler so I went out to get the mail.  Nothing there.  However, I used the chance to go and get my sick tradition- Slurpee (At least some things don’t change!).

Don’t worry sugar free

So now I will try to eat something tonight but I have no appetite when I’m sick.  It is the one time I wish I had a roommate.  Someone who could get me something tasty and comforting….Sigh.

I just hope can recover because there is far too much to do right now.

See what I mean.  I make a lousy sick person!

So there is my sick day.

500 Posts of Rachel

500 posts!

So back in 2008 I was unemployed and itching for a project.  Why not blog my thoughts?  That will take up some time… Never in a million years did I dream that 4 years later and 500 posts I’d still be at it blogging, sharing, writing, and becoming the best version of myself.

I think in the end a lot of the satisfaction of blogging goes back to my faith (as everything does for me). In my church we believe that through testifying, a person grows in testimony.  Through sharing your life story and convictions with another they become deeper, you become better, along with the other person.  I think that is the main reason why Mormon’s make such good bloggers.  They fundamentally believe, like me, that sharing makes you stronger and more Christlike.  It is perhaps the greatest thing we can do for ourselves and the world.

I certainly saw that on my mission.  Why some may look at my service as an unselfish 20 months (which I tried to make it be) but really it was an incredibly intense personal experience of growth.  There is something about allowing yourself to be vulnerable that builds everyone else. This is true in any kind of sharing, even when it is a silly recipe or joke.

Also, another facet of my faith is the importance of remembering each soul.  We believe that every soul must be baptized and that no individual is denied that choice.  This is why we do family history or genealogy to find out who came before us and if we can do the work for them, then give them that option to accept.

But its more than that, my faith also teaches that each person should make a chronicle of their life.  That journaling and sharing your oral history with those you love is as vital if not more important than the covenant work done for the dead.  This includes every person no matter the mistakes, marital status or position in the church.  I’ve kept a journal since I was 8 years old and I treasure every one of them because they are the portrait of my life.  How great is it to be able to share that portrait with all of you?  I feel so blessed.

In any other era I would be a lonely girl who probably lived with her parents because it was socially unacceptable to live alone.  I would be stilted and stifled but today I have a voice and 100-250 people a day click on posts and many (if not as many as I might like) make comments and start discussions.  It is a blessed age.

Mostly I’m just grateful that I learned the value of open book living.  That people from all over the world know my story.  If I die tomorrow there will be many who can say they knew me and that is powerful.  In some ways it is appropriate that I started the blog when I was unemployed because that was my greatest leap of faith.  It was perhaps only then that I was ready to share the whole me with the world. I will never regret taking that leap and involving all of you in it.  Best choice I ever made.  Thanks friends!

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite posts

My proudest post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/bully-it-gets-better/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/anxiety/

My best op-ed style post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/feminism-and-the-workforce/

My best philosophic post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/imposters/

Favorite movie post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/romantic-comedy-cliches-im-sick-of/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/best-summer-movies/

Favorite political post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/patriotism-my-sacrament-meeting-talk/

Favorite exercise post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/deer-creek-first-5k-race/

Favorite diet post

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/the-only-happy-fat-woman-in-america/

Posts I wish everyone would read

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/interview-part/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/interview-part-2/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/interview-part-3/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/friends/

Favorite religious post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/i-am-a-mormon/

Favorite book post-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/why-i-like-a-book/

Post that impacted someone the most-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/happy-birthday-dad/

There are so many others.  I honestly feel an attachment to every last post.  My sister is always joking that every couple of days I say ‘have you read my blog.  I really like this one’.  But its true.  Maybe it says something about my ego but I think they are all great!  I look forward to 500 more and writing my novel in a month next month.  Wahoo!

It seems like everyone does a prize for a 500th blog. So here goes.  Will send a prize to the first 5 comments on this blog.

Reunion, Wedding and House

So a lot of memorable events happened lately.

First, I have walked in my house!  The framing is up, no sheet-rock yet but I’ve gone over all the floors and I’m so excited about it!  I also think I might have found the right fit for my basement apartment.  I had tons of interest but have narrowed it down to 2 great choices.  Tough call.  Will be checking references and doing some careful thought but either would be terrific.  The whole thing is so thrilling!

I think my shirt says it all!
In my master bedroom!!!

Then Friday I had my 10 year reunion at BYU.  I still can’t believe its been 10 years.  I’m not goona lie it was an introspective moment for me.  Thinking about the last 10 years, what I’ve done, what I wish I could have done, the pains, the triumphs, everything.  Sometimes I worry that I peaked at 21. That I had my happiest years then and have never quite been able to duplicate it. I’ve had great times and moments but as far as whole years that was one of the best.  Do any of you feel that way looking back at your life? I guess the older you get the more muddy your life gets. I envy the simplicity of that year.

Anyway, grateful for a moment to think about my life and all that I have accomplished and the great memories.  I was in charge of creating a video entitled ‘Then and Now’ for the reunion.  It was more challenging than I expected but here is what I came up with.

The reunion was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed chatting with fellow graduates and hearing from Setema Gali, former Super Bowl champion for New England Patriots.  I was very moved by his heart felt words.   I was expecting just a pep talk but it was very raw.  He said ‘be prepared’ for whatever God wants you to do and look out for ‘compensating blessings’.  That last concept really struck home with me.  There are usually compensating blessings whenever God gives us a trial.  Hard to see it sometimes but true.

I will include the group photos when I get them but here I am with my friend Shawn.  I am honored to be able to participate in the reunion committee and will forever be grateful for my BYU experience.  If I am any good as a human being today it is because of my BYU experience.

I don’t know how you go to a reunion without wondering- what do the next 10 years hold?  What does God have in store for me? We will see… 🙂

My friend Shawn and I at the reunion

Next up yesterday I went to the wedding of my dear friend Camille.  She married Tom Griego and while I haven’t had a chance to get to know him he seems like a wonderful person (just loving Camille means he’s a smart guy!).  Camille was my roommate for nearly 3 years and we grew up together.  I went to Hawaii twice with her and our relationship has always been dear to me.  She is a great listener and has always given to others more than focusing on her own needs.  I’m glad she has someone who can focus on giving to her.

The pretty bride and me.

More than anything it makes me happy to see my friends happy!  I have always been blessed with good friends, the best. I got to visit with a bunch of friends I haven’t seen for a while in addition to seeing Camille, which made the whole wedding a lot of fun. I don’t know what I did in the previous life to deserve such wonderful friends.

3 girls from the Maryland ward. We made it! 🙂 Me, Camille and Bekah Denhalter
Camille and Tom

Anyway, it was a great weekend! I feel so blessed.  Blessed for new starts with my home.  Blessed for the memories of the past at my reunion and blessed for the comfort and happiness of friendship at the wedding.  God is certainly good to me and I know that He has a path for me that if I am faithful my life will keep being an amazing journey.  In truth, I know I have not peaked.  What is to come? I’m excited for Him to show me. More than anything I know that I am loved by God and my friends and family.  Who can ask for more?