Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Solving Puzzles

My roommate has these wooden puzzles that sit on our end table. I love them! I've always enjoyed doing puzzles, and it's great to just have something to do with my hands when I'm sitting around. The best part about them is everybody grabs them when they come in, and they're great conversation starters. We've been hosting a lot of get togethers at our home lately, and these puzzles have been consuming my thoughts as countless people ask me which puzzles I can do and for tips on solving them.

As I respond to these queries, I can't help but think about other puzzles in my life, and feel grateful for them. It would certainly be easier and less frustrating if I guided the hands of my friends and helped them complete the puzzles. The thing is, they wouldn't remember how to do it the next time, and they would likely not learn much from the process. It is the same for me. I am sure God could figuratively put his hands over mine, helping me to solve the puzzles in my life. It would sure be easier! Yet, I find myself feeling gratitude for the difficulty of solving those puzzles. As I solve them on my own, with occasional tips from friends, family, and God, I am enabled to remember them and continue learning from them.

One friend is particularly gifted at puzzle solving. He sat down and worked through puzzles in a few minutes it had taken me about an hour to figure out the first time. This opened conversation about other puzzles, and he mentioned he could solve a Rubik's cube in just a few minutes. Ever the skeptic, I asked him to bring one over the next day and show me. He wasn't lying! He explained the logic of the cube to me, solved it multiple times, and showed me other patterns you can create with it. I've always thought Rubik's cubes are unsolvable, but now that they have been unveiled in some ways, I feel like I could probably solve one if given enough time. I'll get on that.

Again, I'm thinking about puzzles in my life. A few days ago I would have told you some were unsolvable. No more! Some things just take time, and I am grateful for the time I'm given to patiently solve the puzzles in my life. I'll get on that too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Be Still and Listen

There is so much noise in this world! It is deafening at times. Sometimes I plug my ears when I'm in a room full of people listening to music, talking on cell phones, visiting with each other, etc. I really do! There is peace in quiet. God is in the silence.

I wonder what it used to be like before personal media devices. What did this world sound like before TV, Internet, and cell phones? Were people innately closer with God? With each other? Was it easier to listen to the whisperings of the Spirit and receive personal revelation? I wonder what it could be like now if we calmed down.

I love intentionally dampening the noise in my life. I don't have or want a facebook account. If we're friends, call me! Let's do lunch. :) My roommate and I don't have cable TV or Internet access in our home. When I live somewhere with these things, I try my hardest to ignore them (not always successfully). I use my cell phone to communicate with others via phone calls and text messaging. I take pictures too, but that's it. And I don't always have my phone with me. If I'm with someone else who has a phone, or somewhere I'll have to turn it off anyway, I usually leave my phone at home. It's my tool, not my captor. So don't be offended if it takes me some time to get back to you!

Emotions and stress deafen me too. When I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed it is hard for me to focus on anything other than how anxious or overwhelmed I feel. When I can't focus on anything else, I am unable to hear and see the people around me, and I am unable to hear God speaking with me. This is harder for me, but I'm working on it. Daily exercise, eating healthy, and visiting with loved ones help me to keep the volume down.

I'm on a mission to intentionally and proactively keep my life, inside and out, quiet enough to be able to hear and respond to people and to God. Yes, I love the silence.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

A few nights ago I was partly in charge of an activity for hundreds of young single adults. The committee I serve on planned a fantastic romp at a local wilderness jaunt, complete with mingling, games, pies, a bonfire, and s'mores. It was a huge success! And yes, I ran around barefoot.

I arrived about an hour and a half before the activity was scheduled to start, to help get everything ready. My shoes came off almost immediately. I love walking barefoot in the dirt! To my delight, God saw fit to shower us with a fluke summer rain storm. It began to pour, and I danced barefoot in the mountains in a shower of raindrops. Best ever.

Some people joined me, others looked at me like I was crazy, and some maintained their decorum while looking at me with a little envy in their eyes. Sure I was wet for the rest of the night, and yeah my feet were kinda dirty after running around barefoot for 5 hours, but it was so worth it! I think all of us need to just let go sometimes--to relax and release our tension and stress while embracing the beauty of this world, if only for a moment.

Never be afraid to dance barefoot in the rain!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Buried with Grandma

I was born with an innate desire to make a difference in this world. This desire grew inside of me, becoming a living thing pushing me to do my best, to see the world, and to try to do as much as possible in my lifetime. It's helped me to excel in my schoolwork, to see the world, and to interact with hundreds and hundreds of people. I figured the more places I went and the more things I did, the better person I was. I was wrong.

Circumstances led me to live with my Grandma for the rather difficult final 9 months of her life. At first I thought I was there to help her, and I was grateful for the difference I knew I was making in her life. In hindsight, I know I was there so she could help and teach me. As I helped to prepare her for burial and watched her coffin be lowered into the soil, I knew my life would never be the same. I knew something had changed inside of me, but I couldn't quite place my finger on it.

Grandma has been with our Father in Heaven for a year and a half now. I can't believe it's been so long! Some days it feels like she's been gone forever, and some days it feels like I'll see her when I head home at the end of my day. I wish for the latter every day. Grandma had this incredible ability to make every person in her life feel like they were the most important person to her. I miss that. She never traveled the world or served on some fancy board. She lived her entire life in the same town, and was happy to do it. She taught me how to bloom where I am planted, to form and nurture real relationships with the people around me, and the blessings of staying still.

If you look at my track record, you'll quickly see I've never been good at staying still. In my desire to touch every corner of the world, I've not stayed in the same place longer than 2 years since high school graduation. I have good friends, and then move and lose touch with them. I've always lived in the future to some extent--planning my next grand adventure without cherishing the adventure I'm in.

I now find myself standing at a fork in the road. I will soon graduate with my Masters degree. I have an incredible offer to pursue my doctoral studies at a good university, fully funded, with opportunities to travel. Yet I find myself hesitating. I'm not scared. I'm good at moving to new places and making new friends. I know God will be with me wherever I am, and that gives me strength to do all things. I just don't want to go. I don't want to move. I don't want new friends--I like mine. I don't want to move farther away from my family. I don't know if I can handle 3-4 more years of graduate studies. I don't have the desire.

My drive is gone: buried with Grandma. I don't want it back. I am happy to sit still, to live in the moment, to nurture the relationships I have, and to bloom where I am planted. I can make a difference here.

I don't yet know what this means for me. I knew something fundamentally changed inside of me on that February afternoon a year and a half ago standing in the cemetery. Now I know what it was. I need to understand it. I stand at a fork in the road, uncertain which path I will tread, yet knowing this decision will be one of the most important of my life. Do I spread my wings and fly, embracing new opportunities and possibilities, or do I keep them folded in, embracing the incredible people and places I now hold dear? It is a choice only I can make, and I will make it.

Maybe I'll walk the path familiar to me, and maybe I'll walk the path less traveled. No matter which path I tread, I only hope I will have the strength to leave some things buried with Grandma.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy, Barefoot, Vegan

I have always been blessed with a deeply rooted understanding of who I am: a daughter of God. Deeply entrenched in my religious beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (www.lds.org; www.mormon.org), I know and believe each of us are sons and daughters of God with missions to fulfill in this life. This knowledge has always defined me, yet I have been and continue to be pulled by the forces of this world we share. With God, I always come off conqueror.

I'm too fat. I'm not pretty enough. I'm not smart enough. I don't work hard enough. I'll never do anything worth doing. People hate me. I can't do that. My values are messed up. I'll be happier if I lower my standards. If I do it just this once it can't hurt. Spoken, implied, or imagined, these are messages I've received from the world and sometimes believed. They aren't true.

Happy. I know I am happiest when I surround myself with friends and family who love and support me as I am. Living life with intention and excitement gives me joy. Most of all, I know my truest source of joy is my God. As I love and serve Him and each of you, my happiness blossoms exponentially and bursts. I love how contagious happiness can be. I love how much power happiness has.

Barefoot. Walking down a forest path, climbing trees, becoming lost in yoga and meditation, enjoying long road trips, walking around my house, playing my Grandpa's guitar, running to the mailbox in the dead of winter, sitting by a campfire, creating a fire with nothing but sticks, playing games in parks with friends and family, balancing on a slackline: all things I've done barefoot. Being barefoot is freeing to me. It grounds me, reminding me of my own divine worth as I reconnect with Mother Nature and the lessons she teaches.

Vegan. A more recent discovery. God sent, I stumbled across a principle that has changed my life: bioindividuality (www.integrativenutrition.com). My body is unlike anyone else's, and laws of health are personalized just for me. When I love my body, it loves me back, and my body is happiest when I'm eating vegan. No, I don't necessarily think the world should join me in this, but don't be afraid to try it! Take the time and initiative to test things out and listen to your body. It's worth it. My health affects every aspect of my life and being.

As I walk through life, learning and growing and watching others battle demons I've won, my desire to share my lessons multiplies. I don't know if this blog will help anyone, but I hope it will. I know it will help me. Lessons are solidified as I write them down, so if that is the only good that comes from this blog, so be it! I will write.