Tag: journals

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.

An Author

Last week a friend told me about a service that coverts blogs into books.

http://blog2print.sharedbook.com

Using this service you upload your blog and can chose from a number of different formats, with everything from a scrapbook style to more of a traditional book.  With my blog being more word-heavy and being 4 years old I naturally chose the latter.

IT IS AWESOME!  2 volumes, 751 pages with black and white photos (I also got a color pdf copy with links included).

Even though it is just for me it feels so satisfying to hold volumes in my hands that I wrote.  That have my thoughts and ideas inside. It really does make me feel like an author.  It is exciting!

I remember a writer told me once to bind your first book whether it is published or not, and I can see why.  Its extremely satisfying to see your hard work in paper form, not just electronic.

Its just neat to see the proof of my life over the last 4 years! It makes me want to keep writing.

The front and back cover. Don't they look great!
Text with photos
the inscription

Looking Back

So life has been a bit challenging for me lately.  Healthwise, painwise and otherwise.  I just spent most of my day today getting blood drawn and xrays done to try and determine why I am still having so much pain in my ribcage area.  Plus, there is the issue of my looming surgery on my eye and everything else.

I have decided all of the stresses in my life are out of my control.  The only thing I can control is my response.  Working on that.

I started to think about my life and particularly my teen years.  I’ve mentioned those times many times on this blog.  They were time I relate too because in like your 30s, your teens don’t have a specific job to do but get older.  Both times have brought significant health and family challenges and been introspective.

Sometimes I bet you wonder- was the teen Rachel really the girl she describes- itching to be independent and free, insecure and confident at the same time?  I was just reading over my high school journal and if anything I’ve toned it down a notch.  I was a great person!  I really believed in things and I wanted so much out of myself.  I still do. Here are some highlights:

“I wish I was more forthright.  Oh well! That’s something I can work on”  October 19,1998.  (I think I’ve worked that one out- what do you think? 🙂 )

“I love late night chats with Mom and Meg.  We talked about high school and the kids we knew with problems and why we were different.”  October 22, 1998.  (Good parenting in my book!)

“I have been accepted.  I am so excited! I started to scream and weep when I read the exciting first words ‘we are delighted to inform you…’  I have never been so thrilled, relieved and satisfied, at the same time.  For once in my life all my hard work has paid off.  I was always somehow disappointed but this time I was not to be thwarted!” Feb 16, 1999

“Maybe my brother and sister are right.  Maybe different is better.  It certainly is far less stressful…” March 1, 1999

“I’m just ready to go.  I’m sick of waiting around.  I’m ready to be on my own away from my family.  I love my family but I just want to be able to control my own life and do what I want to do when I want to do it.  I’m sick of always being tied down by little kids…” March 8, 1999

“I feel worn out and yet there is still so much to be done that I do not feel justified in my fatigue…” March 20, 1999

“I was once asked in class if I could meet anyone who would it be? My answer was decidedly sure. I’d meet Jesus.  There is no one who has done more for me and for all mankind and I am so thankful” April 2, 1999

“Today marks under one month until I go away to school.  I am so excited.  Finally my dream is coming true. Finally I have achieved something in my life that I really wanted. I never thought I would be able to go to BYU.  I always thought I was too stupid for that.  But surprise, I’m not.” May 21, 1999 (You know Sue on the Middle?  That was totally me.  I never made anything I tried out for until BYU).

“I am grateful for My Savior and the sacrifice He made for me.  I am thankful that he was born on Christmas morning with the sole purpose to save my soul.  Christ is the light and moral compass of my life and I love Him with all my heart.  I pray that I will always look to Him for everything.” December 25, 1999

“I hope when I’m reading this 30 years from now I will be able to say ‘Rachel goes into any situation undaunted and unafraid of the unpaved way that lies before her”  (Still got like 16 years to work on that)

More quotes to come but got to work tonight!

Blogger in Training

Today I finished work a little early and started looking for photos of me at the 2002 Olympics (post to be coming on 10 year anniversary.  Still can’t find photos!).

As I was looking through my old stuff (yes, I am a pack-rat and yes, I love it!), I found a bunch of old newspapers my sister and I made, current events logs, and journals I kept.   The thing that is amazing is how little I’ve really changed.  The basic Rachel at 31 is in many ways the same at 8, 13, 15, etc.

I think the Jesuits might be right- “Give me the child of seven, and I will give you the man.”

A couple things that I noticed from looking at these journals.

First,  how much I craved being special, being recognized, being first.  For example, I HAD to have this photo taken by the crayons because it was special.  It wasn’t my Dad, the professional photographer, taking photos.  It wasn’t even the regular school shots.  It was different and fun.  The smile on my face shows a lot.

Even my reactions to the people in my life seemed to carry more meaning than they might to other children.  When Anna was just a baby we went to Disneyland and I write “I had an outrageous time in Disneyland.  I remember how Anna was always laughing when I tickled her! I also went on a lot of rides and had a lot of fun” (12-31-1991).  Isn’t it interesting that the laugh of a sister produced the same degree of glee as rides at Disneyland?

Second, express basically the same interests then as I have now. Entries like “today we went swimming for a whole hour” are common with big exclamation points. I speak about cooking and when my friend loses her brother in an accident I say ‘our family brought them food on Sunday and I made an apple pie (All by myself no help from Mom!!) with homemade flaky crust and I cut the apples…’.  See how independent and strong I was but with such a desire to serve those in need? I would still feel great about making an apple pie by myself (although I highly doubt I did so at the time!).

Third, I was always confident in my testimony of my church and in Jesus Christ.  October 21, 1990, “I love the Lord and Jesus Christ and I love it even more when you go to a place and have a great feeling and that place is the place where sins vanish.  In the stake center or a church building when you are baptized and confirmed”. At a very young age I knew that the church was true and I could always feel it, never doubted.  Once I made a decision I was done. Luckily for my parents, I made a lot of good choices!

At an older age (probably 13) I said “The thing about knowledge is once we have a testimony.  We must use it!  Missionary work is very important.  I know not everyone can be a full time missionary.  But we need  to use our knowledge to set a good example.  If a friend swears you must (underlined) tell them to stop.  Because it is better that you be embarrassed or picked on or made fun of than to make Heavenly Father sad” (quite a statement for a girl who was routinely picked on…).

Fourth, it is amazing is how knowledgeable and fascinated I was by the news of the day and I had no problem expressing my opinion on those subjects (sound like anyone you know?).  For example, after hearing one of President Clinton’s speeches I wrote:

“I’m sorry but I didn’t buy the President’s speech!  All the emphasis on working together and cutting taxes.  He sounded just like Rush Limbaugh.  If the president really plans to be better than great, but the Republican congress should not be in tears and all touched by Clinton’s speech though…The Republicans and the American’s just say to Clinton if you want to follow, follow, but you’re not leading” (Fall, 1994). What 13 year old says things like that? I love it!

Its funny I can totally see the strabimus problem in this photo. I notice it all the time now. Things are just slightly off symmetry.

I even had an opinion on Charles and Diana getting divorced, saying “I can see how their marriage went bad.  Charles being forced to marry.  I also think that when Charles married they were more in lust not in love.  Prince Charles should still be allowed to be King”

I just think it is amazing that a child even knew about such things and then had the gumption to venture an opinion. I even have entries where I talk about balancing the budget and cutting taxes.  In one of our newspapers I give an update on the 1991 primary presidential election and that ‘Bill Clinton is doing very well’.

In high school I wrote “When I was a little girl I thought that everyone was special and everyone liked everyone else no matter what they looked like”.  I think that was true, even about myself.  I thought that I was special and I still do… I had a great desire to make others happy.  I talk about sharing my testimony with others a lot because it was something that made me happy.

“Some think that they are too busy, or that they need Sunday to go on vacation or to fish, boat or ski.  we must all think about the opportunities we have everyday where we can influence people, and use them to benefit mankind.  We must not only attend church, we must live a life worthy of the church’s standards.  We must invite as many people as possible to activities. We shouldn’t count on the government to do everything…”

Can’t you just see the little blogger inside some of those words? I’ve hopefully polished it a bit and gotten a bit more open-minded but the core is there.  That desire to make others happy, to feel happy myself and to speak my mind is still with me.

One last quote

“What would happen if everyone made a special effort to love someone every day.  People would be friendlier and less people would turn to evil.  Too many people are trying to fit in with their friends instead of having their friends fit into their beliefs and personality.  The only people who are cool are the people who aren’t trying to be.  We need to realize that with just giving the friendship, people would have no reason to want to fit in and drug abuse and crime would drop.” (1992, school journal)

There you have it my friends…

Some Achievments

So this week has been super stressful but I’ve learned and achieved a lot.

I haven’t decided on the surgery.  Still ruminating on it.  Luckily I can do it any time so it is entirely up to me.

I realized this week that I can only handle 1 non-work activity a day unless it is a weekend.  If I have other activities I almost never work out.  I just don’t have the time.  This week with 2 doctors appointments- eye and dentist, and vocal lesson/master class, I have only worked out twice (including tomorrow).   Perhaps I can do better on these crowded days but I may also have to accept that some weeks will be less intense workout wise.  I honestly don’t know how anyone exercises with all the distractions of kids.  I can hardly manage with my own distractions!

My trainer has been pushing me very hard lately and I’ve been eating well- ta da!  I lost 7 lbs since before Christmas!  I now weigh 257!  That’s 56 lbs lost in 3 years of working day in and day out.  As I told my friends ‘its a marathon not a sprint’.  I fully expect it will take another 3 years to lose the next 50.  Maybe others can lose faster but not me.

I have also signed up for the QUAC meet on the Feb 18th- I elected to go for the 50 free, 50 fly, and 500 free.  I think that will be a good amount- enough to push myself but not so much that I can’t have a little fun.  The meets aren’t quite as much fun as the open water swims but still I enjoy them. If you’ve never entered a master’s meet give it a try.  Anyone can do a 50 free.  Go for it!

I had another breakthrough today.  I went into TJ Max.  They had a sale on athletic wear which is my nemesis.  Low and behold I fit into a pair of athletic pants- regular sizes!  Victory! (Little things like that mean a lot!)

The other accomplishments is I have sprung free from the prison of my little food journal.  The sugar fast worked as a shock and awe of my system.  I feel good and very rarely want a sweet.  With that settled and my glucometer broken I was turning to my little book I’ve kept tedious notes in for the last year and change.  And you know what- it feels great!

I’ve always been a very independent person so it feels great to finally in a spot where I can trust myself.  I’ve actually developed this as my lifestyle.  Towards the end I realized I kept writing basically the same thing down everyday so why write at all.  I’ve always been an extremely independent woman and would rather just figure things out myself.  The journal was a tool to get me to this state and I feel for the moment it has served its useful course.

Without the journals I feel less like a test subject and more like an adult who doesn’t have to be monitored every moment.  I can make my own choices and make the right ones.  IF I go off track, my trainer will know and than back the journal will come!

I have it right by my TV staring me in the face.  I’m the same way with the sugar fast.  It motivates me by its potential resurgence.  Nooo! I can’t do that again so I better stick with the plan!

So, in a small way leaving that journal on the shelf is an accomplishment.

The journal is gone. Freedom!

Btw- never is there a more boring journal in the world.  Anyone hoping to find a drippy diary would be sorely disappointment (but that would be the case for all of my journals! That’s why I’m so awful when playing truth or dare.  Nothing dishy to tell!)

Next week trying a new endocrinologist.  Hopefully they will be better than my last 2 (I’ve had such rotten luck in that field).  I am sure he will take my A1C and I hope it is much lower than in July (5.3).  We will see!

You know what is probably the greatest accomplishment- I have become this new person.  I love the old person.  She is awesome but there is no denying my life is fundamentally different and I have changed.  My life story is fundamentally different because of the new layers I’ve added to it.   It’s like after my mission. I was still the same person in many ways but there was this new layer. There is something exciting about achieving a new version of yourself.

I’ve become a healthy person…Imagine that? 🙂

I love this photo. It was after one of the hardest workouts I've ever done. To me it looks like contentment. Contentment from a job well done, from a red face well deserved and a satisfaction of doing your very best at something very hard.

Journaling My Life

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior” Christina Baldwin

A collection of my journals/diaries

In the last few weeks I have learned a lot about myself through a voyage into my journals.  Since I was 8 years old I have kept one fairly regularly.  (I tell people I was a blogger from an early age.)

My sister and I both grew up avid writers. This, despite the fact that neither of my parents have ever kept a journal.  I am not sure where we picked it up? I know reading The Diary of Anne Frank was a big influence as well as the stories about romantic writers such as Jo March in Little Women and Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables.  I have also always loved letter writing (something my parents do not have any interest in either.)  From the earliest entries I have addressed my journal in letter form- beginning with ‘Dear Friend,’ and ending with some variation of ‘Love, Rachel’.

I must admit as I look at the ramblings of a young me it is hard to not feel nostalgic for the past.  In fact, a massive variety of emotions ensue upon opening each book.   Some of the experiences I recall vividly, such as the despair I felt at the passing of my beloved Grandpa  and cousin Lisa in 2001 within 2 weeks of each other. Other moments I’d forgotten about or remembered with a different slant. For instance, with each of my mother’s pregnancy I express feelings of fear and anxiety. (I recall this being a difficult time but I don’t remember being scared.)  On one such occasion after she had the baby I write I feel like  “a million blocks were taken off my shoulders” (October 7, 1996).

Several other themes stuck out to me as I read.  First is how often I talk about being tired, sore, exhausted, and worn out- even at the very young ages of 8 and 9.  How I wish I could reach out to the young me and give her the answers I now have?  I was probably experiencing a sugar high/low and didn’t know it!  Some people have doubted my story of struggling with weight from the age of 8-9.  Well, here’s a picture from 1990.

I still say a darn cute, if pudgy faced kid

This was a year later.  Don’t you just love the rockin fireplace background and the crimped hair!

From this young age I just kept gaining and could never figure out why

It also surprises me how much I thought about weight and how often I refer to getting in shape. For some reason, I have this picture of me as a mostly-confident kid, and I think in some ways I was, but obviously I had many moments of self-doubt, frustration and perhaps even self-loathing.

Many of the entries are predictable and probably full of the kind of details only interesting to me- grades in school, various friends over the years, squabbles with my family (some I hope the particular family members never read!) and other going’s-on in a young life.  One thing I’ve realized is that I was very independent growing up, but I was also in constant need of validation- validation from others that my choices were correct. Whether it was my taste of music, friends, books, movies, or activities I was almost never satisfied just to like something for my own fulfillment.  I’m not sure why this is but I recognize I still have some of this trait.  To a lesser extent,  but it’s still there.

The other lesson I take from reading these journals is my constant faith in the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon, God’s love  and in Christ’s sacrifice for my sins.  In years of chronicling my inner-most thoughts I do not have one entry expressing doubt or questioning.  I’m not saying I never did, but not in a dramatic, extended way.

October 21, 199o says (I have fixed the spelling but that is all), “I love the Lord and Jesus Christ and love it even more when you go to a place and have a great feeling and that place is the place where sins vanish.  In the stake center or church building when you are baptized and confirmed.”

Much later as a high school student I said, “I’m so grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  He is my comforter and my best friend and I love him dearly.  It’s hard for me to comprehend what He did for all of us but I am grateful that he did.  I was once asked ‘ who in history I would like to meet’…My answer was decidedly sure.  I’d meet Jesus.  There is no one who has done more for me.” (April 2, 1999).

I love this photo. I was a senior in high school. I loved getting studio shots because they were rare and somehow I felt they made me look thin

I could give many more examples, but suffice it to say I am grateful for my faith and the grounding, comforting influence it has been throughout my life.  I think I would have been a lonely fat little girl/teen without it.

On a funny note, almost every angry, venting entry  has something to do with not wanting to work.  There is a hilarious diatribe about gardening (to this day I still detest gardening above all other chores):

Sept 4, 1995, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.  I wish my mother took this more to heart. Want- a garden, Way- have kids do all the work, Profit- a bunch of food you can buy in the store and is moldy anyway.”

Another entry from 1993 puts it more bluntly. (I was disappointed on this day because we were supposed to go boating but it was cold so we ended up working instead.  Also, a friend was supposed to come over but couldn’t. ):

“I finished cleaning my room.  When I grow up I am never going to make my kids do work.”  There are a lot of other examples-  my poor parents! Somehow they taught me to become a workaholic? (Well, my mission taught me that, but they helped!)

this is another one from my senior photos that I've always loved. One of the best photos ever taken of me.

I just wanted to share one more entry from June 1, 2000:

“Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me? I seem to see the world through different color glasses than everyone else.  In some ways I suppose that I am more well-liked for my peculiar nature but I still wonder why I have it? Well, I suppose I will never know and if years from now, dear friend, I am reading this and have figured the answer out, I ask only that I share that knowledge with friends and family who will most likely find it most interesting as I am sure they have long been wondering what makes me tick”

Sorry friends and family…I’m still working on the answer to that question! Thanks for putting up with me anyway.

Pretty Words and Letter Writing

Pretty Words
Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathered birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.

I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.
Elinor Wylie

Like the poet I love pretty words whether they be docile, smooth, tender, bright, lazy or gilded.  I have always been fascinated by the ability of a word to convey a million different emotions.  Shakespeare is the master at this.  In 6 short words you understand the delicate state of Hamlet’s soul (“to be or not to be?”) and in just 3 we grasp the mad desperation of Lady Macbeth (“Out damn spot!”).

The New Testament is also remarkably succinct without the long speeches you might expect from someone as grand as Jesus Christ.  In fact, the most marvelous act that has ever occurred was glorified in only 3 words “He is risen.”

Another great example is the Gettysburg address.  In such a tumultuous time it is amazing that Lincoln took only 278 words to usher in a “new birth of freedom”.  Martin Luther King also gathered millions with his simple call “I have a dream…”

I’ve often wished that I had a real, genuine pen pal whom I could write long gushy letters to.  I just finished a book about the women of the American Revolution called Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. One of the things that amazed me was all of the letters these women wrote- sometimes to men and women that they would never or rarely meet.  It is remarkable how much we learn  about the daily goings on and the various opinions of the female correspondents.  I was constantly caught off guard with how modern and ambitious these 18th century women felt and behaved.

Some might argue that letters have been adequately replaced by email, blogging, facebook, twitter etc.   While these conveniences have their place and appeal they are not as thoughtful or thought-provoking merely because they are so easily produced.  A letter took real effort.  An email- not so much.  Nowadays kids don’t even spell entire words out when writing to each other- let alone actually putting together a real letter with powerful ideas from the heart.

For years I have started my diary entries as “Dear Friend” and then I write as if I was filling in a dear friend on the thoughts of my heart and the goings-on of my life.  While sorely missing the response, at least this allows me to format my ideas in the ways of old- something I find valuable in many ways.

Next time you have family home evening or a free moment sit down and write a traditional letter.  You can mail it or not but it will probably surprise you how interesting your life and thoughts are  These lettter’s do not have to be profound or sad, you may be fascinated by how witty you can be.  Give it a try!

If you want to read a great little book about a glorious correspondence check out The Delicacy and Strength of Lace by Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright.

It is a small book but one of my top 10 favorites (and it is recently back in print!).  It is the real life correspondence of Wright and Silko- 2 poets who only met briefly but exchanged letters for years.  I have like 3 copies if anybody wants to borrow.