Success and Sweat Glands

Zig Zagler the motivational speaker said “success is dependent upon the glands – sweat glands.” I have experienced this type of success this week. As many of you know I have been working hard with my dad to get our vacation rentals ready for the first renters. It was a lot of work and I mean the physically grueling work of lifting, moving, cleaning and organizing (and even shopping can get exhausting).

I wish I could adequately paint a picture of all we have accomplished. Let me just say that on May 31st the current renters came for a tour of the properties. At that time one was mostly finished but the other needed a lot of work. For starters, the basement hadn’t even had sheet rock installed. After their tour I could tell the renters were skeptical that we could get it done on time (and to be honest I was a bit skeptical myself). Since that day we have put in many 10-14 hour days and with the help of a great team we managed to pull it off in a spectacular way. You really wouldn’t believe the transformation if you saw it. Our work included not only the construction but the furnishing, design and organization of the entire house. We had to purchase and clean everything from furniture to plates/pots and pans/TV’s etc. I even learned a lot about home decoration adding plants, flowers and photography to each room. Everything is luxurious and beautiful. The renters couldn’t believe all we had done. It is like a different house. Here are some pictures.

In addition to all the physical work of late there has also been the mental work of marketing the properties and handling new reservations (we are booked for most of July and already getting August!). We had to create a contract, get the contracts out, organize a reservation system, run deposits, set up VRBO.com accounts and more.

With all of this craziness it’s been hard to squeeze in any social time. I hope that in the next few weeks I can do better at that. I miss my friends! I think whenever you start something new (a new job, new move etc) you have to figure out what mixture of work/friends/church etc works for your life and schedule. It takes time.

Anyway, I feel this is a fractured post but I wanted to share with you’all the sense of accomplishment I feel at having gotten renters in the properties. It was a lot of work and sweat but like Zig says that’s what makes success. It certainly feels good to be proud of my work and and to do something I really enjoy (even when it is hard I still like it). I guess Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he had me quit my job and job hunt for months with no success. He was leading me to these experiences and this growth. I am so grateful for that. Grateful, proud and happy! Here is a picture of how I feel- a self portrait you might say (except I don’t have such large earrings!).

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!

Desires of Happiness

Alma 41:5 “The one raised to ahappiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.”

This morning I went to the temple, which was a welcome respite from all of the moving and adventures of my recent life. I was reading the Book of Mormon while I waited and came across the scripture above. It struck me as interesting. What exactly does it mean by being “raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness”? Clearly the righteous do not always achieve their righteous desires. For instance, someone may have a righteous desire to serve a mission, but they are not able to go for a variety of reasons. I suppose the Lord could be referring to longterm happiness but I think it is more complicated. One of the most difficult things in life is turning over our desires/our willpower to the Lord. Perhaps this scripture is saying that once we finally make that step we will be perfectly happy and to whatever degree we achieve such full devotion determines the degree of happiness we will experience.

One of my favorite parts of D&C 4 on my mission was the line “if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work”. This phrase makes even more sense when coupled with the scripture above. For every step that we take in His direction the Lord is not only saying that we will be happy but that He will use us to further the work. In a way it is kind of a circle because in building the kingdom we experience happiness which causes our desire to serve to grow, which will give us more opportunities to serve…

It is such an empowering thing to know that we have a say in our happiness. We are not just lifeless blobs that respond to stimuli. We can decide to follow the Lord, sacrificing our egos and desires; thereby, creating happiness both currently as we serve and in the eternities. It reminds me of a quote I have from President Kimball (I had it on my wall when I had a wall!)

“Happiness does not come by pressing a button, as does the electric light; happiness is a state of mind and comes from within. It must be earned. It cannot be purchased with money; it cannot be taken for nothing”

In my life I felt a prompting to make a variety of changes and following those promptings has given me great peace and happiness- and that’s saying something because my life is pretty chaotic.

I look forward to seeing what all of you think on this topic of happiness and the desires of life. Please share.

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.

Open to Change

One of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail. I know it is a silly movie but I just enjoy it! It has so many memorable lines such as:

I *love* Patricia. Patricia makes COFFEE nervous.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but valuable. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?

So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?

People always say that change is a good thing, but what it really means is that something that you didn’t want to happen, has happened.

I love daisies. They’re so friendly. Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?

Have you ever become the worst version of yourself. That a pandora’s box of all the hateful things, your spite, your arrogance, your condecension has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and walking away… you zing them.

A HOTDOG is singing. You need quiet while a hotdog is singing?

Perfect. Keep those West-Side liberal nuts, psudo-intellectuals…
Readers, Dad. They’re called readers.
Don’t do that, son. Don’t romanticize them.

It happened in Spain. People do really stupid things in foreign countries.
Absolutely. They buy leather jackets for much more than they’re worth. But they don’t fall in love with fascist dictators!

When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.

You get the idea. I have been thinking a lot about the movie because it is all about change- even one of the quotes I have listed refers to change. Kathleen Kelly has her whole world tipped over and she must change her career, lifestyle, companionship etc. I am aware that in movie world there has to be a happy ending but I think her journey is a realistic one. She ends up growing from her sacrifice and realizing a whole new part of herself- a potential she would have never understood by staying in the store. She even has a higher capacity to love by the end of her change.

Like Kathleen Kelly I am being forced out of my comfort zone. I currently do not know where I will be permanently living, what I will be doing for a job, or who I will be living with. It’s just a vast unknown. I am starting to get an inkling that maybe running my own company isn’t such a crazy idea. I have also been keeping busy working on my dad’s rental properties and planning some events. Plus, I have that little thing called boxing up and moving all of my stuff…

Getting back to the movie, I wouldn’t be surprised if my journey is somewhat similar to Kathleen’s. In the movie she says “who would ever thought that I would write? I mean, if I hadn’t had all this time…” I feel the same way. Who would have ever thought I’d be where I am right now, an MBA grad experiencing these changes. Certainly not me. It’s actually kind of exciting! I always wanted to be someone that was brave and bold. Like the kind of girl I read about in my books- Joe March, Anne Shirley, and even Nancy Drew. How did such a girl wind up as an accounting clerk? I know that I still have the desire to do great things and this time of change may be just what I need to push me into becoming what I wanted to be as a child.

I have already experienced some of that change. Quiting my job taught me to trust my inner voice in a whole new way and that self awareness is part of the reason I have been so happy these last few months. I have a confidence that is no longer hindered by the opinions and feelings of others like it used to be. Sure I have my moments of discouragement and frustration (just as Kathleen does in the movie) but there is still an underlying confidence in my decision and my life that has not and will not change. I hope that as I continue to make changes I will grow even stronger. In the meantime thank heavens for wonderful friends, family and even movies or books that make me smile at life.

You’ve Got Mail once again describes the last 6 months for me and the time to come-

Last 6 months

I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.

At least the next 6 months

You are a lone reed, standing tall, waving boldly in the corrupt sands of commerce.

Who knows maybe I will even find my Tom Hanks at the end of the journey!


Married vs Singles?

So, I gave this blog a somewhat provocative title on purpose. I am hoping that some good discussion will develop from my thoughts on a TV snippet I saw this morning. The point of the discussion was why married and single people tend to have a difficult time maintaining relationships with each other. Of course, they put the argument in boxing terms which may be a bit strong, but they brought up the point that often people that are close when they are single find it difficult to remain friends after one of them gets married. I must say that I have noticed this on occasion. I have some great married friends that I am still close to but others have fallen off the face of the earth. To be fair, I have also lost contact with some of my single friends as well.

Do you guy’s see this as a phenomenon? If so, why do you think it happens? Do singles feel threatened by the marital bliss of their friends- or vice versa? Are schedules just so different? Are lifestyles different, so relating to one another becomes hard? Do married people not need friends for support and comfort the way single people do?

I hope nobody is offended by this line of questioning. I honestly am just curious for thoughts on the topic. One thing I have wondered is if the real barrier comes when children are brought into the picture. I have had a number of married friends without kids that mention the difficulty they have bonding with other married couples with kids. Most of the time such difficulties result from scheduling conflicts. Children require so much time particularly at night when those (married or single) without kids are off from work itching to hang out. It’s a lot of work for a parent to find a sitter and the few times they do go to such trouble they probably want to spend time as a couple instead of hanging out with their single friends.

Another problem that might create barriers is a change in conversation and interests between the two groups. For instance, two girlfriends may have had everything in common when they were single but now that one is married some of those primary interests have changed for the married friend. What is important to remember is that those points of connection are still there. Priorities have just changed. I would wager to say that singles can be every bit as flaky in discounting or forgetting their married friends- with singles just assuming they have nothing in common anymore. I am obviously not married but it has got to be hard to get married and get dropped by most of your single friends.

So what is the solution to this problem? I don’t know, but here are some thoughts I have on strengthening married/single relationships (sounds so diplomatic hah!). First of all, whether single or married everyone must try to be what I call a low maintenance friend. Be someone that doesn’t whimper and feel neglected if they aren’t contacted for a month or if an outing together doesn’t work out. I love friends like this. Friends that I can always count on, friends that I love to be with, but that are not going to cause me additional stress in maintaining the friendship. I understand that everyone has their high maintenance moments but in general friendships should uplift our lives and be a solace from the world. They certainly should not add extra stress to our already busy lives. My next suggestion is to try and be understanding of different schedules and lifestyles. I was talking to my sister Megan the other day and she mentioned that a friend of hers and had gotten together for breakfast. She said this was convenient for her because she got some female bonding time without interrupting naps, sleeping or other commitments with her children. It was also casual so she could bring the kids and did not need a sitter. Maybe next time a single girl wants to get together with her married friend she could suggest a Saturday breakfast? On the other side of the spectrum married people must work around and respect the schedule of their single friends. Finally, it is important to be sensitive in conversation to the lifestyle and decisions of both groups. Sometimes both groups can come off as condescending- as if they have made the better choices. Let’s just respect each other and remember that we are friends. That’s what’s important!

One last tip for my married friends. Don’t set up your single friends unless you honestly feel that the set up has potential. Most singles don’t mind set ups that are thoughtfully prepared but everyone I know hates the “Your single. He’s single” type of set up. There has to be some reason that the couple might work. Bad set ups are irritating and annoying on many levels and can give the impression that you can’t be friends unless you are part of a couple.

So, those are my thoughts on this topic. It will be interesting for your responses and again hopefully you all understand the spirit of the post. I love all my married and single friends!!!

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.