Category: Pondering

Visiting Indiana

It is now Thursday October 16th and I have been home since Sunday from my business/mission trip that I took last week.  I meant to update my blog much sooner about the recent goings on but it has been go-go-go ever since I got back.  I often say that I need 2 or 3 days off after traveling in order to recover.  Sadly it was not the case. I don’t know how my father is able to function with all of his travel.  It’s exhausting!

That said- I had a great trip.  The first part of it was in Michigan where I was trained on how to set up our warmer booth at various events.  I learned more about the types of warmers we carry, and the history of the product-along with the type of salesmanship that works at warm team events. On the whole, it was a good trip and my first business trip was a success! I still can’t believe I am old enough to go on a business trip.  How did this happen?

Once I was finished with work on Thursday, I drove to my first area on the mission-Angola Indiana.  To drive into a location that formed so much of my character was a weird sensation.  It was on one hand underwhelming to see through common eyes and on the other completely overwhelming because of the memories that came pouring with each street, store and site. The whole time I was in Indiana I felt like I was in a museum of my life. All these artifacts that would mean nothing to others made me well over in tears. It’s an odd and overwhelming experience to try and go back in the past.

While I was touring the mission I listened to a radio program about blogging and the woman being interviewed said that in her blog she “tries to only tell my story”.  In other words, don’t bring in the life stories of others so that you can protect their privacy.  I understand what she was saying but the task seems impossible.  How can I write an authentic portrayal of my life without including the stories of those who touch me? I only hope every mention of others in my blog is complimentary if not glowing with praise. I will certainly remove anything if asked.

With that understanding let me tell a little about the people I saw in Indiana.  Starting with Angola, I stayed with Sister Bork (still hard for me to call her Jackie.  It’s how I was raised).  She was a great host, and I enjoyed reconnecting with her.  I hope that my visit provided some comfort and companionship (even if for only 2 nights) during a tough time in her life.  She is a great lady who saved me from starving on many occasions on my mission.   We used to specifically tract around her house because we knew we could count on her for a cup of cocoa or a meal if we didn’t have a dinner.  There was one night I particularly remember where we had tracted all day in the snow.  It was hard work, and we were starving.  We stopped at the Borks, and we must have looked like quite the site!  Sister Bork was making breakfast for dinner and we wolfed everything down.  I think I ate 4 or 5 fried eggs, toast, hashbrowns, and more!

This is the first house I lived in on my mission.  It is such a shack! How did I live there for 6 months!
This is the first house I lived in on my mission. It is such a shack! How did I live there for 6 months!

You see, that is the type of small memory that flooded my mind around every corner in Indiana.  It was emotional and amazing. It’s hard to describe in words.

In Angola I also had the treat of seeing others from the branch, getting an update on everyone and particularly seeing my friend Sarah Garner who was my rock on the mission.  She has a sweetness and sincerity that I admire.  I just wish she could understand how great she is. If you are reading this Sarah- it is true!

Finally, I got the privilege of seeing a family I taught in Angola named the Aronens. Since they had changed their emails, I had not kept in touch the way I would have liked.  It was so great to see them and again it brought back every memory of each discussion.  It meant a lot to me that they still had the photo of Sister Servito and I with their girls on their living room wall.  I know they have many struggles but it warms my heart to know they are thinking of me along the way.  It was good to hear they are active and doing great.  Their girls are so big. I can hardly believe it.  Regina is in 6th grade!  Wow! They are a family that I feel I was meant to find and teach the gospel to.  That is a great feeling to know and it’s something I carry with me when I am struggling.  One of the ways I know that the Lord loves me is because he let me help the Aronen’s find the gospel.

This is Regina and Brianna
This is Regina and Brianna
Melody Aronen
Melody Aronen

Moving on to Indianapolis (which by the way- I thought I might remember how to get around places, and I didn’t recognize one building! Not one street! Good thing I rented  a GPS unit.  Saved my life!).  I arrived on Saturday morning and was greeted by Sister Leonard whose home I lived in during my 6 months in Indy. It turns out I was lucky to see her, as she has been out of town for the last 2 months, and is going out of town again in a couple of weeks.  It was great to reconnect and reminisce.  So much has changed in her life and in the life of the ward since I left.  There is a whole new stake, and I hardly recognized anyone at church.

At Sister Leonards I went down into the sister’s basement apartment and again was flooded by memories.  I thought of Sister Graves sleeping on a bed on the floor as happy as can be.  I thought of Sister Livingston doing sit-ups while reading the scriptures and eating an apple (she’s got a gift for multitasking).  I thought of Sister Hathaway struggling over her lessons each day.  More than that, however, I thought of the time on my knees I had spent in that little apartment.  The times I had poured my heart out to the Lord trying to have the energy to work hard and love the people- trying to get the answers for investigators and then thanking the Lord when they would come.  I also couldn’t help but remember the struggles- the sore feet, the canceled appointments, the squabbles with companions.  All of those memories are part of the story of my mission and they are special, even sacred.

Our little basement apartment at Sister Leonards house
Our little basement apartment at Sister Leonards house
Sister Leonard and I.  She helped me and so many sisters feel loved and at home on the mission.
Sister Leonard and I. She helped me and so many sisters feel loved and at home on the mission.

Being in that little apartment made me want to be a better person.  On my mission I was such a visible servant of the Lord.  Every day I had a clear purpose. I know we have that each day as normal members but it isn’t quite the same.  Nevertheless, I want to do better, be better, live with more of an attitude of service. I want to make sure I am where the Lord needs me, when He needs me.

One last comment- I think it is easy to feel that our little lives don’t make much of a difference in the world. I sometimes wonder if I should be braver, more bold.  In Indiana I realized that I do make a difference- that I do matter.  There was one experience in Indianapolis when my companions and I felt prompted to visit a lady who had been having marital problems.  To be more blunt she was being abused.  At the time, we debated about whether visiting a member was the best use of our time (the elder’s had been riding us about not spending time with members) but we felt prompted to go and see her.  When we got to her house her husband had been arrested and  taken away.  This was a big step for her, and we helped her through the night until we had to leave.  I have thought about that moment and wondered what ever happened to the woman.  Well, on Sunday I got to see her, and she told me something that made me cry- no weep.  She said that when she is sad or lonely she thinks of that moment and knows that the Lord loves her.  When I heard that I was beyond words.  It amazes me to know that my attempt to serve helps someone years later to feel of the Lord’s love.

I am so grateful that we listened and am grateful to the Lord for letting me know that my service as a missionary mattered. I cry now just thinking of it. It was like a giant hug from my Heavenly Father. I am so comforted by the knowledge that what I do each day is important to the Lord- more than that- what I do is guided by the Lord.  What a humbling thought that is.  That moment was worth the whole trip, and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving it to me.

In closing, visiting my mission was a wonderful experience.  My mission was a wonderful experience. Life is a wonderful experience.  I just hope that I can be the type of person I was as a missionary- living a life guided by the Lord, full of His grace and goodness.  It will not be easy,my mission wasn’t easy, but as the cliche goes- it was and is worth it.

The woman we helped and her daughter.
The woman we helped and her daughter.
The speedway track.  I did the full tour this time
The speedway track. I did the full tour this time
Winner Winner!
Winner Winner!
The finish line.  Tradition is to kiss the bricks after you win.
The finish line. Tradition is to kiss the bricks after you win.

Conference

For those of you that are LDS we have all enjoyed our semi-annual general conference, the final session ending this afternoon.  Despite being sick I took notes and learned much.  Each general authority that spoke did so with authority and comfort.  It’s like hearing advice from an old friend that loves you.  At least that’s how I felt.  A couple of talks that particularly stuck out to me were Elder’s Holland, Hales, Wirthlin, and Uchtdorf and of course President Monson.  It is Elder Hales’ message that I would like to mention in this blog. He spoke about defending criticisms of our faith both as a church and as individual followers.  Instead of responding to criticism in defensive ways, he taught us to follow Christ’s example and love those that hate us:

“When we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christ-like, we invite others to feel his love and follow him as well,” Elder Hales said.

Elder Hales even said that sometimes these criticisms can be helpful by their attracting attention to the church, which then often leads to teaching moments.

I thought this was a beautiful message, and one that I want to exemplify more fully.  I have always been very independent and don’t like to be criticized or told what I should be doing in my life.  While I don’t think we should be doormats for people, there is a way to be bold without being defensive.  Elder Hales said that the spirit would dictate which response is appropriate.  Just as the savior responded in a different way to Nicodemus than he did to the moneychangers in the temple, we will know what is the best response for the different people in our lives.

I actually don’t have many in my life who directly criticize my church membership but often I hear hurtful things through the media and my initial response is to be defensive.  This is something I would like to work on.

I believe Elder Hales’ message also applies to criticism and feedback in general.  Even in my work, I have always had a hard time with criticism and although I think I have grown over the years, it still is something I can improve upon.

One cool thing I noticed in Elder Hales’ talk is that he mentioned using blogs to spread the gospel!  That made me feel good!  In that vein, let me state to all of you that I do have a testimony of the Mormon church and its current prophet President Thomas Monson.  I feel such a tremendous spirit when I hear him speak.  I also have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and know that it is a true book.  I know this because I have prayed about it and the spirit has confirmed to me that it is true.  I love reading that book. It is my sincerest desire to serve my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in any way I can including trying my best each day to be obedient to His teachings.  I also have a strong testimony in eternal temple ordinances and am grateful that the pain of grief can be assuaged by the knowledge of eternal covenants and families. I thank each of you for your love and support and know that much of this testimony can be attributed to the righteous influences each of you have showered in my life and heart.  God bless. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Images

Yesterday I had an interesting experience.   I must preface the story by saying that I have been very busy this week with work and have entertained several times at my apartment. As is fairly normal I got to Saturday and felt tired (particularly because I had to work all day Saturday). As I was getting ready in the morning I got a call from my good friend Melany.  She was kindly inviting me to come to a play with her in Provo that night.  Normally I would jump at the chance to go to a play, and I certainly appreciated the offer; However, there was a side of me that knew how tired I was going to be after working all day and wondered how enjoyable an outing at night would be.  I thanked her for the offer and told her that I would have to check with my other friend Melissa as we had talked about doing something that night earlier in the week (we really had).

Later on in the afternoon I got a hold of Melissa and we decided to hang out on Wednesday (yeah!) but then I was faced with a dilemma.  I was tired and just wanted to do something relaxing at home, but I appreciated the invite and wanted to spend time with Melany.  What to do?  I certainly did not want to hurt Melany’s feelings or discourage any future invites.  In addition, I added a silly dimension to the decision.  Living by myself I know that I must be careful to stay socially active.  If I don’t, I  have this image of becoming some strange single woman who never comes out of her house but to cackle at the neighbor kids!  (I would add has 10 cats except I am allergic but you get the idea).  It’s so weird that I add such an image to my decision making but I can’t lie and say that I don’t.  I just do not want to get lulled into a lifestyle that I don’t care for, and I know sometimes that means getting pretty and going out with friends when I don’t necessary feel like it.

So, here’s what I did.  I called Melany and said:

“Melany, I feel guilty”

she said:

“Why?”

I said:

“Well, I really appreciate your offer and your thinking of me and in a certain way I feel like I should go out and be social but I’ve just had a really long week and don’t know if I feel up to getting pretty and going out.  If it was just a casual movie, dinner or games I might be up for it. I’m sorry”

She laughed and said that she not only understood but was feeling the same way herself.  We agreed to do something next week, which I look forward to.

The whole incident has gotten me thinking- do we ever do things not because we want to or care about the activity but to satisfy an image (or to avoid an image).  By going out that night its like I could say to the world: “See I’m social.  I’m not some weird hermit lady”.  This strikes me as a very odd thing to do and to think.  Why not participate in activities that you actually enjoy (particularly things in your free time) and not to satisfy some image.  Once again I am forced to ask the question- Why do I care what others think? At least I am aware of my tendency and trying every day to lessen the world’s influence over my mind and choices.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.  Almost everyone has some image in their heads of what type of person they want to be and do not want to become.  I can think of many examples of this like the teenager who pretends to like music and dancing when she actually doesn’t, or the housewife who woefully tries to make bread because she see’s that as fitting the domestic image, the working woman who wears certain make up she wouldn’t normally wear because she thinks it fits the image of a corporate woman, the academic who wears glasses for show because he wants to feel smarter.  Why do we do this? I would wager to say that everyone exhibits some behavior like this.  If they were truly authentically themselves they would not participate in the activity, but they do it to satisfy an image of some kind.

A part of me wonders if satisfying images is a carry-over from adolescence.   There is no time in life when images are more important or more carefully defined than in the high school years.  Leading up to high school I went through many friends finally solidifying myself as a drama nerd freshman year.  After having been through friends I was not going to let go of the one’s I had gained- and if that meant wearing a shirt a certain way or participating in activities I didn’t care for, than so be it.  I remember one time I went bowling with some friends and my brother and sister were surprised.  They said “You don’t like bowling?”.  I said “I don’t care.  My friends will be there so it will be fun”.  So, I went and had a good time bowling.

To a certain extent this type of attitude is healthy.  If I only did what interested me than I would never experience new things.  Many of my favorite activities I enjoy because a friend took the time to introduce me.  In some ways it seems to be a tug of war within me- how much do I give of myself to new experiences and how much do I stay true to what I am all about and what I find fulfilling?  Also, if I am doing or not doing something to meet some artificial image of what I want or don’t want to be, should I be doing it at all?  I don’t know but it seems to be shaky grounds for human behavior. Images are hard to live up to.

Some might say that this type of behavior isn’t a carry-over from adolescence but a result of media.  There is some truth to that.  There are whole scores of people whose job it is to sculpt images of men and woman of all types in this country.  I’ve always been fascinated by how the music industry molds the tastes of American music.  One year Latino music is the big rage, another year it is Indie Girl Bands.  Through the style of music, fashions worn by the singers, marketing campaigns and concerts given, the music industry not only produces music but says- this is the type of person that should enjoy this type of music.  This is what you should be wearing, eating, drinking, doing with your time ect.  Why do you think so many singers have fashion lines- Gwen Stafani, Celine Dion and J Lo all come to mind as singers that have done a good job of creating an image for their fans to follow.

Perhaps following images is part of human nature and the media simply feeds into that need to be included and defined.  That’s why we are always creating lists for everything.  We want to have everything objectified and categorized.  I don’t know why? Do any of you?

I am glad that I was taught from an early age that the most important image I can live up to in my life is that of a daughter of God who serves him.  In the end, this is the only category or type of person that really matters.  In fact, such a knowledge has been the thread that has kept me from diving to strongly into the world and its images.  Even though I may worry about becoming the cackling woman who lives alone, I know that this will never happen as long as I serve God and am active in my church.  It’s actually quite comforting to know that His is the only image I must strive for and that everything else in life has a way of working itself out. I am grateful for that knowledge and grateful for friends  like Melany (and of course my family) that understands me and loves me for me and not for any image I may or may not embody.

Snow in June

So, it is snowing in June. I find this amazing and ironic on many levels. First of all one of the reasons I didn’t move to Grand Rapids Michigan last Fall was due to the terrible winters they have. (I also wasn’t super excited about moving to a small town. Now I have moved to Draper- a small town) and on June 11th it is snowing in Draper. Luckily I have a spot where I can be secluded from the snow. In fact, the big windows in the rentals I am staying at make the bad weather look rather magical. You do feel as if you are in the center of a snow globe that has been shaken. Billy Collins (who I believe is the current poet laureate) captured this feeling of fish bowl weather in one of my favorite poems:

Billy Collins- Neither Snow
When all of a sudden the city air filled with snow,
the distinguishable flakes
blowing sideways,
looked like krill
fleeing the maw of an advancing whale.

At least they looked that way to me
from the taxi window,
and since I happened to be sitting
that fading Sunday afternoon
in the very center of the universe,
who was in a better position
to say what looked like what,
which thing resembled some other?

Yes, it was a run of white plankton
borne down the Avenue of the Americas
in the stream of the wind,
phosphorescent against the weighty buildings.

Which made the taxi itself,
yellow and slow-moving,
a kind of undersea creature,
I thought as I wiped the fog from the glass,

and me one of its protruding eyes,
an eye on a stem
swiveling this way and that
monitoring one side of its world,
observing tons of water
tons of people
colored signs and lights
and now a wildly blowing race of snow.

Who would have ever thought to compare snow to plankton! Even more, who has the talent to make such a comparison still beautiful? Amazing! I guess that is why he is the poet laureate! Ahh! My friends the sun has just come out! In my opinion there is not much prettier than the sight of the sun on a cold day- especially up here where the mountains start to glow. With all that has been happening in my life lately it is nice to know that even the weather joins me by changing moment to moment.

As far as my life goes- I went to my new ward on Sunday. It was interesting to be back in a normal chapel after attending sacrament meeting in the seminary building for 2 years. It felt as if the ward was very small but it must have been bigger than my last one. It just felt small because of the size of the room and the fact I was alone for the first time in years. I must admit that I missed my old roommates sitting in that pew all by myself. Still, I pushed on and people were friendly and welcoming. I am sure it will be a fine ward for me through the summer.

Aside from the new ward I have finally moved into my temporary housing for the summer. It feels good to at least be temporarily situated. It is nice being close to the rental properties. It will be especially nice when tenants start arriving, so I can welcome them with ease. Yesterday we got a commitment from a couple in St. George for the middle of August. That means we now have at least one commitment in each of the next 3 months with more coming in each day! I pray every night that they will keep coming in because I would certainly prefer doing this type of work than having some lame cough out corporate job. I have mentioned this before on the blog but just like I feel protected from the snow storm outside, I also feel protected from the storms of unhappiness and despair. The Lord knows me and He does want me to be happy. If nothing else, the last year has reconfirmed this truth to me. That knowledge makes anything even snow in June bearable. Take care friends and share your favorite poems with me!

Simple Pleasures

President Joseph F. Smith said that seeking “to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.”

This is one of my favorite quotes because it reminds me that there is nobility in the small, simple acts of life.  There is a part of me that wants to be bold, brave and make an impact on the world.  I just have to remember that often that impact is felt by the simple and not the grand gestures.  The people that I most admire are the ones that lived quiet lives filled with love and service- grandparents, friends, parents etc.

I was thinking about some of the small activities that give me great joy.  I’d love for all of you to share some of your favorites as well.  These are in no particular order:

1. Reading a good book

2. Lazy conversations with friends and family- phone is great but in person even better.

3. A funny joke or story shared with a friend

4. Comics- Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert and Peanuts are my favorite

5. Hugs from my nieces/nephew and siblings.

6. Morning scriptures and prayer

7. The mountains when they are clear and beautiful/The Ocean

8. The satisfaction of completing a task or job

9. Dinner/lunch with friends

10. Watching a good movie

11. Book clubs

12. NPR- especially Car Talk, Wait Wait and This American Life

13. Holidays

14. The comfort and security of being around loved ones

15. Fresh cut flowers- lilis and orchids are my favorite

16. Great music of all kinds

17. Cooking for myself or others

18. Singing particularly with my voice lessons

19. Shopping and finding a bargain

20. Finding the perfect gift for a friend or family member

So, I could go on and on.  The point is that I have much in my life to be grateful for and many happy, simple things that I can focus on doing well each day.

Tears, Aches and a little Opera

I don’t want you’all to think that I am only going to write deep and contemplative entries on this blog. Some of them will just be reporting on the exciting or not so exciting events of my life. The last 2 days have been interesting. It’s actually been kind of a roller coaster. Starting on Thursday Camille and I began the process of packing up our apartment and getting everything ready for a big garage sale. We were going to do the garage sale next Saturday but heard there might be rain so we pushed it up to this morning. It was quite the event and I think all of us including my roommate Megan felt kind of melancholy as we packed our stuff. We’ve talked of the move coming up for months but haven’t really dealt with it. I am not exaggerating when I say that I feel like my family is breaking up. I feel nearly the same emotion that I felt when my sister moved to Stanford- except at least with Meg I knew for sure that I would remain close. With roommates you never know. Some I have remained quite close with and others I’ve lost track of. I take my friendships and relationships seriously and it is hard to see them change.

It is also hard to know that I don’t have roommates in my next place. I am going to be staying at one of my dad’s rentals for the summer so I can help him get them ready for use as a vacation rentals. If any of you have a family reunion in Utah coming up let me know! We’ve got a great deal! The prospect of leaving a set of roommates that feels like a family to a big house all by myself makes me feel kind of sad. Still, I know it is the right move for me and I will grow from the experience. Maybe it will make me even more independent- if that is possible!

Anyway, we worked for 2 days to get everything ready for the garage sale. Squeezed in between this packing I had 2 interviews that were interesting. The first was for an engineering company called Raser Technologies. They seemed like very nice people and I may get the job. I am not sure if I am going to accept it; however, because it was so much like my last job that I can’t picture myself happy in it. I didn’t make this big change to go right back to what I was doing before! The biggest shock for me about this interview is that the HR rep told me that she received 85 resumes for a simple admin job! I was so stunned by that. Whoever says we aren’t in a recession is crazy. We’ll see what I decide to do.

The other interview was the for the Nordstrom Rack which I probably would have gotten but I had to tell them about my foot condition which disqualified me! Can’t win hah!

I was disappointed yesterday that I didn’t get a position in Sandy I really thought I would get. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone willing to take a chance on me and the frustrating thing is I KNOW I could do a good job if given the opportunity.

As a result of the last several months, I think I might take a part time job for consistency and then with my remaining time I am going to market myself as an independent contractor for marketing, graphic design, web design and event planning. I am already doing some work for my dad on his rentals but a lot of company’s outsource for this type of work and if I do it for the right price I think it will be successful. I am very fortunate that I don’t have any debt and have very minimal expenses, so it is actually perfect timing to start up a new venture. It all feels too brave for me but I have never been scared by a challenge. Plus, if it doesn’t work I can always get a job doing something else and I’ll have my part time job for some income consistency. It should be good.

So after all of these events I was feeling kind of stressed and luckily my friend Miriam had called and invited me to see the Utah Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. I tell you it was exactly what I needed. I needed to do something different, fun and not think about all of these things weighing on my mind. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Miriam and her mom. She’s been my friend since college and we’ve helped each other through a lot. She also just graduated from law school and is getting ready to take the bar. Life is changing for her. Life is changing for me. It was the perfect person for me to talk to at that moment. It’s amazing how the Lord provides those people in our lives when things are hard. It’s very reassuring to me that all of these changes I am making will turn out for the best.

So, I got back from the Opera last night at midnight and then took a long nap before setting up the garage sale, which started at 7 AM. It was a lot of work but very fun. We got to meet a ton of new people and make some money at the same time. I am super sore from moving boxes up and down from our apartment but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. It was another roommate moment for the record books.

All of these experiences have made me excited about the experiences to come- a little sad too- but I am determined to look at them as moments to anticipate, moments that will teach me and that will be fun. Just as fun as spending time with friends, hearing opera and branching out into new and adventurous careers and houses! It will be exciting! I don’t know if this entry makes much sense but it’s been quite the jumble of experiences lately, and I think I’ve conveyed that well in this blog.

Great Responses

So my first 2 blogs were a big hit. I have already gotten a lot of feedback on them. A number of people were concerned about my health from a comment in my last one. No fears on that point. Iam actually doing pretty good. I have a membership at Curves and go whenever I can and am trying to eat in a healthy way. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned health and exercise as one of the shoulds. I was referring more to trying to meet an illusion of healthiness instead working with what you’ve got and progressing. My other point is that my job used to be something I would compare my life, my performance, my career with others and to an illusion of success. Now I am looking for a new job grounded in what I want, what I really care about. I do think it is interesting how busy I have kept myself and how generally happy I’ve felt without a job. I thought I would miss the routine of it more than I have.

Anyway, my life is continuing to progress. Sometimes progress is hard. My roommates and I are beginning the process of moving. This makes me feel sad. I’ve been in my current apartment for 2 years and I feel a bit like my family is being broken up. I honestly try to not think about it. I was watching the movie Shadowlands the other day (great movie by the way) and I was touched by something one of the characters says. She has cancer and her husband doesn’t want to talk about it. In response she says “The pain later makes the happiness now greater”. Meaning the lack of time they have makes every moment more precious and meaningful. By not acknowledging it some of that sweetness is lost. Obviously my roommates aren’t dying but the movie has reminded me to savor the moments we have together while I have the chance.

My other thought from the movie is that in the woman’s case she knew the pain was coming. Most of the time we don’t have such a luxury. We can be assured that they will come to us all, so we should take every opportunity we have to soak in the many moments of joy and peace the Lord gives us. It’s so easy to take things for granted until they are gone but I am trying to do better in that regard. I think we all can.

I certainly feel blessed right now. I have been giving a season of joy after a really hard year, last year. I have an amazing education, which I am grateful for on so many levels. I have my testimony of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon to uplift me each day. Most importantly I have the Love of the Lord and my friends, family and associates that lift me and mean so much to me. It’s very humbling to ponder upon all that I have been given. I am truly grateful.

Should or Want?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my motivations in life. Being in between jobs means that most of the activities I participate in are by my own choice. What I mean by that is I don’t have a boss or authority figure telling me how I must use my time. It has caused me to wonder about the following question- how much of my life is dictated by what I want and how much by what I should want. For example, a woman may not want a family but feels that she should want a family; therefore, she forces herself to want a family.

I suppose there is another facet to this question- there are some choices that are based on needs and not wants. For instance, I will eventually have to get a job because I need money but what type of job I get could depend on what impulse I follow more- the wants or the “shoulds”.

There are so many things that I feel like I should want but in reality I have at best mixed emotions on. I should want a family. I’m 27 and Mormon, which means this should be my main desire. In reality, I am content either way. Singleness does not cause the hole in my heart that it does for some girls. I don’t know why. It’s just the way I am. I also should want to be married more than anything else, but in reality I am happy with my life. I am a fiercely independent creature and have yet to find a man that I feel is worthy of sacrificing pieces of that independence. Once I meet such a person I will get married and enjoy that part of life. In the meantime, I am happy.

It also seems like I should be unhappy not working. Shouldn’t I be at home watching soap operas and eating fudge? In reality my job was a great unhappiness in my life for years, and I am now just beginning to recover from the experience. Being unemployed has actually been quite liberating for me. For the first time in a long time I have done something different, something bold, something where I can tell the world that its standards are not going to apply to me and my life. I knew that quiting my job was the right thing to do and nobody will ever convince me otherwise. There is something empowering about that.

There are many other things I feel I should do or be but don’t really want to do or be such as dieting, budgeting, organizing, exercising, driving, dancing, mingling etc. It has made me think- how often do I participate in such activities because I want to do them, or do I feel I should be doing them? Do I feel I should have an organized room (one I clearly don’t follow as my room is super messy) or do I want to have an organized room? Do I feel I should be skinny or do I actually want to be so? Do I feel I should be a career woman or do I want a career? Do I feel I should enjoy dancing, camping, hiking, and running (to name a few) so I vainly try and participate in such activities? Why do I feel I should enjoy such things? I honestly have no idea because I sure don’t enjoy them.

It even comes into my reading. There are definitely books I have read because they are books “every reader should read…”. How stupid is it of me to read something because some person or list thinks I should when it isn’t even a book that I want to read. Granted occasionally such “shoulds” have introduced me to new books that I would not have wanted to read on my own, but still the fact that I am reading to please some imaginary ideal is kind of sad.

Now there are some “shoulds” that are dictated by the Lord such as “I should be morally clean, keep the word of wisdom, read my scriptures etc”. However, hopefully my testimony is strong enough that these choices are my wants as well as the Lord’s. In any case, my Savior is the only person I should be listening to and altering my wants around his directions. The world should not be dictating my choices.

I don’t know if this makes any sense but it has really got me thinking about my choices. As an independent thinker I want to live my life in a fashion dictated by my own thoughts and desires. I don’t want to finish things here on earth having only satisfied a bunch of “shoulds” that probably don’t exist any way. I want to live the life that I uniquely can live- not the life I should live or the one I am supposed to live. Such a life is destined for disappointment because there is no end to the “shoulds” a girl can create. Why we do that instead of just accepting ourselves and our individual choices I don’t know. For me, I am officially through with the “shoulds” and onto achieving the “Rachel’s true passions”. Only then will my life be my success, my journey and my choices.

The freedom of Joblessness

So, this is my first foray into the world of blogging. I have wanted to but have been content with the notes/postings on myspace and facebook. It is hard to describe my last 6 months but let me just say that I am in the job hunt and I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think I will be a bit sad when I have to go back into the work force. There is something wonderful about living my life the way I want to without regards to supervisors, bosses or routines. I have always been a big one for planning but after a bit of a breakdown last year I needed a change more than anything.

I recently saw a weekend movie where they made the statement. “I would rather be doing nothing than doing something I hate”. I have realized the truth of this remark in my life. The thing that is the most interesting is that I haven’t been doing nothing.  When did we get it in our head that the only viable thing for a person to do is work? I have actually been very busy.  In fact, I have been doing things that I actually love that I don’t have time for when I am working including doing some writing, making a cookbook for my mom, and exercising on a regular basis.

Nearly every day  I’ve had the interesting experience of applying for jobs all over the state of Utah.  I say interesting because you learn a lot about yourself as you answer questions from HR professionals.  My favorite one is “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”  Would I be interviewing for jobs if I knew where I was going in five years?  I guess they are looking for basic answers like “I see myself working for a great company like yours…”.  Usually I say something like “I would love to be a manager in a great organization that will allow me to develop all of my talents”.  I know it is pretty lame but it seems like they are asking for it with that question.

Whether the questions are lame or not it is always interesting.  I wish I could hear what my competition says because I feel like my answers are good but maybe they don’t stack up to  others.  I always feel like the interviews go well and then I don’t get the position.  I guess it just isn’t the position for me.

In the meantime I am enjoying my life and looking forward to the next adventure.