Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Dear Family & Friends,

My favorite part of this beautiful holiday season is the time I spend reflecting on the last twelve months… on the changes, the personal growth and – most importantly – the blessings I’ve experienced. At the close of 2010, I know that I have much to be grateful for.

At the end of January, I was laid off from my job in Utah. In the face of confusion, frustration and a little fear and doubt, I felt an overwhelming peace in the belief that this was truly for the best and would simply be a shortcut to the road my life really need to journey down. So, on February 15th, my little car packed to the gills, I left my home in Utah and headed west, back to the home I thought I’d never permanently return to – California. While nothing could have adequately prepared me for the six months that followed, I was optimistic that my life was being guided and that everything would turn out for the best.

I know now more than ever that everything happens for a reason. My return to California has been marked by some of the most profound experiences of my life… profound on many levels. I have experienced more fear and doubt through some of my trials, but I have also been filled with more faith, more hope and more love. And I know that without one small "setback" in January, I would not have been where I needed to be when I was needed most.

I am so grateful and humbled for my Savior Jesus Christ and the many miracles He blessed me with this year. My experiences have led me to a deeper appreciation for the things that matter most… my family, my friends and my faith.

As we celebrate His birth and life this year, I hope we each can find ways to recognize more of the many blessings that constantly come our way and to express our gratitude to those in our lives that mean the most.

Thank you for being one of mine.

Happy Christmas!

Thanksgiving Daily

Thanksgiving Daily
Mormon Messages,

Our minds have a marvelous capacity to notice the unusual. However, the opposite is true as well. The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things, the more they become invisible to us. That’s why we often take for granted the beauty of this world – the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds, even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, have a way of opening their eyes and seeing the wonders and beauties of this world as though seeing them for the fist time. Look around you. Notice the people you care about. Notice the fragrance of the flowers and the song of the bird. Notice and give thanks for the blue of the sky, the red of the leaves and the white of the clouds, every sight, every smell, every taste, every sound. When we open our eyes and give thanks for the bountiful beauty of this life, we live in thanksgiving daily.

President Thomas S. Monson:

A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort – at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 28: What's In My Purse

Question of the Year: What isn't in my purse?
Answer: Not the kitchen sink. But that's about all that's not in there...

This is an exhaustive list of items in my purse when I left for work this morning:

A Quart-sized Ziploc Bag with Coupons and Gift Cards (Whoa! and a Sees 1-Pound Gift Certificate… Totally forgot that was in there!)
House & Car Keys
Work Keys & Badge
Temple Locker Key
Peppermint Oil
Orbit Bubblemint
5 Cobalt Gum
Cell Phone
iTouch in its Pouch
iTouch Headphones
2 MicroSD Adapters
Eye Glass Carrying Case
2 Eye Glass Cleaning Cloths
Hair Clip
Mini Advil Bottle (with Tylenol, Ibuprofen and – ironically – only 1 Advil)
2 fl. oz. Bottle of Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose Body Lotion
PetSmart Pet Perks Card (not in my wallet, so listed separately)
4 Pens
1 Highlighter
First Aid Kit (Bandaids, gauze, sterilized cotton swabs, cough drops, alcohol wipes)
Personal Necessities Pouch
  • Neosporin
  • Face Cream
  • Comb
  • Lipstick (What? I never wear lipstick! Weird.)
  • Mascara
  • Pocket Knife
  • BrushPicks
  • Tampons
  • Hair Elastic
  • Hand Wipes
  • Nail Clippers
  • Arbonne Skin Conditioning Oil
  • Salt (??)
Perfect Shot (Sonia O’Brien)
The Book of Mormon (one of the mini ones…)
Chocolate (2 Mini Almond Joy, 1 Mini PayDay, 1 Mini Reeces)
A Printed Map Locating the Bridal Shower I’m Attending Tonight

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 27: My Worst Habit

Running late. A lot of people think they start running late as soon as they wake up in the morning, but I’m pretty sure my “running late” starts before I go to sleep the night before. I just can’t catch up.

Day 26: My Week In Great Detail

Ok, I think that yesterday’s post more than covered the “Great Detail” of my life. This is the good parts version of this last week (which means mostly evenings and weekends)… and since many weeks are fairly similar, this is a fair pattern for what I do with most of my time. For purposes of serving my memory a little easier, I’m going backwards starting with today:

Read (Perfect Shot – Sonia O’Brien)
Movie (Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End)
Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins with Mom and Dad (probably half the Tuesdays out there…)
Dinner (Oh, wait… Not this time.)
Lunch (Arby’s with Mom)
Breakfast (Oatmeal)

Read (Perfect Shot – Sonia O’Brien)
Chuck (Regular date night = me + Mom + Chuck)
Dinner (Hash browns, pancake, pears)
Lunch (Carl’s Jr.)
Breakfast (Oatmeal)

Read (Winter’s Promise – Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard)
Movie (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)
Dinner (Turkey, cranberry orange glaze, mashed potatoes, green beans)
Flute Practice for Stake Conference
Breakfast (Hash browns, pancakes, eggs)

Read (Winter’s Promise – Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard)
Talked with Mom for 2 Hours
Dinner (In’N’Out Burger & fries)
Midsingles Halloween Activity (This was awesome!)
Oakland Temple Shift (2:00pm-6:00pm)
Cleaned House
Breakfast (Oatmeal and soft boiled eggs)

Read (Winter’s Promise – Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard)
Movie (How to Train Your Dragon)
Dinner (Leftover, I think…)
Lunch (Chipotle with Mom)
Breakfast (Oatmeal)

Read (All I Hold Dear – Jennie Hansen)
Book Club (The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbury)
Dinner (Baked potato bar & chicken enchiladas)
Lunch (Los Panchos – mini happy super wet chunky beef burrito… at least that’s what it said on my receipt)
Breakfast (Forgot… to eat it, that is.)

Read (All I Hold Dear – Jennie Hansen)
Dinner (Chicken enchiladas)
Worked 10.5 Hours (Yay!)
Lunch (Madras lentils with Fritos)
Breakfast (Oatmeal)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 25: My Day In Great Detail

This officially has the potential to be an excessively boring post. My days tend to be the same in a lot of ways, especially a work day like today. So, in general, this is a normal work day for me:

6:05am My alarm goes off.
6:10am My alarm goes off. I change it to go off at 6:30am.
6:30am My alarm goes off.
6:35am My alarm goes off. I get out of bed.
6:40 – 7:30am Shower, hair, makeup, dressed.
7:35-755am (Depending on the day…) I grab my purse and load up my phone, iTouch and the book I’m reading. I fill up two 32oz cups with crushed ice, set the flag out front and head out the door, usually letting O’Malley (cat) in for the day as I’m leaving.
8:20-8:50am I get to work after taking approximately 55 minutes to drive 21.5 miles.
10:00am I wake up.
8:30am-5:30pm (or 6:00pm or 8:00pm or 9:30pm…) I work. Proofing campaigns, writing copy, approving, reviewing, uploading… My computer and I get a lot of face time.
Sometime after 12:00pm and before 3:0pm Lunch.
6:00pm-Sometime after that… I get home.
When I Get Home-Later Dinner. Usually watch a movie with Mom and Dad. Sometimes we just read. There’s a variety of evening activities… Just depends on the night.
10:30pm I head to bed. Usually read for a while. Battle for bed space with the cats.
11:30pm-12:00am Sleep happens.

That’s probably more detail than anyone ever needed to have written down…

As a side note, I would like to express how obnoxious I think "working" is. Not "work". I love to work. I like being productive and the sense of accomplishing things. I just think it’s really weird, that we spend 80% of our waking hours essentially with strangers, and very little time with friends and family. Does this seem weird to anyone else? Just asking…

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 24: Where I Live

I live in the suburbs of San Francisco. Since moving back from Utah 8 months ago, I’ve really come to remember what it is that I loved so much about growing up here. Aside from the people (we have amazing friends), the things I love most about Northern California have to do simply with the geography of the area. I can visit the mountains, the redwoods, the beach, the city and the country… all in one day. That’s the long and short of it. I’m also a fan of the weather: not super hot very often, and it rains off and on all winter long. I miss the snow and the thunder storms in Utah (amongst other things, like my friends and family that live out there)… but as much as I miss “home” in Utah, it feels so good to be back “home” here in California. It’s always good to know that you are where you are supposed to be… when you are supposed to be there.

Day 23: A YouTube Video

This video and I have a very long history. The long and short of it is that this video is the end-all-be-all of making me laugh no matter where I am, what I'm doing... and no matter how miserable I happen to feel at the time.

I hope you enjoy.

Oh yah, I forgot to mention... It will totally be stuck in your head for days now. :0)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 22: A Website

The Oatmeal

Everything you ever wondered about (and some you didn't) explained in simple, easy-to-assimilate instructions.

Oh yah, and they're absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 21: A Recipe

(Pancake Balls)

2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons water (if too thick)

Top Secret Cooking Tools:

Æbleskiver Pan
Knitting Needle

Separate eggs & beat whites stiff. Mix all other ingredients together until smooth; fold in egg whites last. Put about 1/4 tsp. oil in each æbleskiver pan cup and heat until hot. Pour about 2-3 Tbsp. of batter into each cup. Turn with a knitting needle until cooked. Serve hot with raspberry jam and powdered sugar, syrup, or lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 20: A Hobby of Mine

Hobby, obsession, passion... they are all synonymous in many ways. My first response to all three would be simply: BOOKS. But I'm not entirely sure that truly encompasses the crux of the passion. I think I am obsessed with knowledge, with learning new things, with hearing stories and experiencing life vicariously through the lives of others. That I think is where the real passion lies. My most favorite time is when I am curled up in a chair reading something that allows me to escape to another world (the cup of hot chocolate and a crackling fire while it's raining or snowing outside, potentially in a small cabin in the middle of a coniferous forest... yah, those are all just bonuses). But beyond the books, I keep my iTouch handy whenever I watch a movie... If I don't know a word or am not familiar with an historical event or I just want to know who that cute guy playing that one character is, then out pops the iTouch and I look it up. When I'm sitting at my computer at work , my most frequent visits are to and - if I come across something I don't know, I look it up. And if I'm sitting in the backyard and a bird I don't recognize lands on the fence, I pull out my "bird book" and quickly try to identify it.

So yes - passion, obsession, hobby. It definitely qualifies as all three.

And the best part about this excitement I have for learning new things is that it can be contagious. It just makes my day when I come home and Mom or Dad is sitting on the couch trying to identify the wing-ed beast perched on the back fence.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 19: A Talent of Mine

Music. I've described my passion for music before, but I think that a great part of my passion for music and my natural abilities to hear music, feel music, and play music are God-given gifts. I know that I am supposed to use my musical abilities to touch the lives of others. And for me there isn't a more powerful way I know of how to communicate my testimony than when I am playing a special musical number in church on my flute. I know the Spirit teaches and flows through the words and melodies of good music. And I know that it is often through music that my Heavenly Father speaks to me. It is the least I can do to share my passion with others. There is a freedom that comes with all forms of creation, a way of expressing things we cannot otherwise express. That is what music is to me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 18: My Future Wedding

It's kinda funny that you could have a list of 30 things to write about and this is the one I've been dreading all month. At first I had lots that I thought I wanted to say... and then I decided that I had no clue how to write this post. I have come ultimately to the conclusion of I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA!!! Pretty sure that's why they call it the future. It's the abstract thing that hasn't happened yet that you can't really predict... that's just the nature of the future.

But I think that's okay. I don't think I need to know. I've participated in a lot of weddings, helped plan a few, and taken pictures at some others. I've learned a lot, but when it comes to my own wedding... those are decisions that will be made with the long-lost man wandering aimlessly looking for me (emphasis apparently on the wandering and the aimlessly parts).

However, for the sakes of this post I will share with you some of my ideas, a small list of things that you could expect to see on that great Someday in the future:

  • I will have a wedding dress, but I'm pretty sure I will wear a regular temple dress in the temple instead of my *reception* dress.
  • I don't think there will be a wedding luncheon. I think we will have a BBQ with family and close friends the night before the wedding.
  • I always wanted a winter wedding... just felt right. Knowing irony, I will likely get married in the middle of August, in 110-degree weather, and it will be ridiculously humid.
  • My bridesmaids (of which there will be few) will not have uncomfortable gowns that they will never wear again. They will probably don denim skirts, matching blouses, and either go barefoot or wear matching flip-flops.
  • There will likely be dancing and the music will be awesome. Times change as do the songs I "absolutely must" play at my wedding, but I'm pretty sure this one will be on the list. It's almost unavoidable in its perfection. (And the "music video" (?) is laugh-out-loud funny... or is that just that they even made a music video...?)
  • I will not go to a hot beach for my honeymoon. That is perfect for other people, but I think I'd much prefer to spend the time in the mountains somewhere... away in the redwoods.
The most specific part of my plans - and the only part that I know for sure - is that I will be married in the temple. Period. The end. Don't know which one, and I'm not really sure that part matters a whole lot. This will be the most important 30-or-so minutes of my life, and the part that matters is who I'm with and where we are. Everything above and beyond that is just extra.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 17: An Art Piece (or Four)

In 2006 I had the amazing opportunity to visit the east coast with several of my friends. While visiting Washington, D.C., we spent a day on the mall each going our separate ways to explore what we most wanted to see in the museum-packed capital park.

While I spent much of my time in the museums I am always drawn to (Natural History, Botanical Gardens, etc.), I visited the National Gallery of Art on what I can only describe as a whim. I have been in a grand total of two art museums that I can think of, and while I appreciate art and have many favorites, I've not really spent a great deal of time exploring my tastes in this particular avenue of passions (tho to my credit, I have been to several art *displays* and always observe the artwork in curated buildings... particularly temples).

Again, I'm not sure what propelled me to the National Gallery of Art, and most of what I saw left me completely and utterly un-transfixed. But I came across a section with early American artwork (1800s-ish), where I found that I generally liked the less abstract Realist and Romantic artwork. Particularly paintings... (I love Monet and Van Gough, amongst others).

I remember walking through and then coming almost to a complete halt when confronted by Thomas Cole's The Voyage of Life allegoric set. I cannot fully explain why, but these four oil paintings held my undivided attention for the better part of two hours.




Old Age

I think one of the things that most resonated with me - besides the pure beauty of the paintings - is the presence of the angel, and more specifically the location of the angel in each piece. I love that the are always there, walking beside us or watching over us. It is my belief that we determine which position they take in our lives, but regardless of what else is around, they are there if we look for them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 16: A Song that Makes Me Cry (or Almost)

I picked two... the first one is an almost, and the second one is a definitely. They ironically (or, not?) kind of have similar messages... maybe it's just what I needed to hear the last few months.

I've also linked the titles to YouTube videos, in case you wanted to listen to them too. Enjoy!

The Climb - Miley Cyrus

I can almost see it
That dream I'm dreaming but
There's a voice inside my head sayin',
You'll never reach it,
Every step I'm taking,
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking but I
Got to keep trying
Got to keep my head held high

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing,
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down but
No I'm not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm going to remember most yeah
Just got to keep going
And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on, cause

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb (yeah)

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb (yeah yeah ea ea)

Keep on moving
Keep climbing
Keep the faith baby
It's all about
It's all about
The climb
Keep the faith
Keep your faith

My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee - Rob Gardner

For a little while
Have I forsaken thee;
But with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee
For a moment.
But with everlasting kindness will I gather thee,
And with mercy will I take thee ‘neath my wings,
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

Though thine afflictions seem
At times too great to bear,
I know thine every thought and every care.
And though the very jaws
Of hell gape after thee I am with thee.
And with everlasting mercy will I succor thee,
And with healing will I take thee ‘neath my wings.
Though the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
Know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

How long can rolling waters
Remain impure?
What pow’r shall stay the hand of God?
The Son of Man hath descended below all things.
Art thou greater than He?

So hold on thy way,
For I shall be with thee.
And mine angels shall encircle thee.
Doubt not what thou knowest,
Fear not man, for he
Cannot hurt thee.
And with everlasting kindness will I succor thee,
And with mercy will I take thee ‘neath my wings.
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 15: My Dream House

Once upon a time (high school), I was really bored in class one day and I actually drew up make-shift blueprints for said dream house. The following were amongst the many amenities:
  • Play Loft
  • Huge Kitchen
  • Office
  • Craft / Sewing Room
  • Indoor Theater
  • Music Room
  • 2-Floor Indoor Aviary (with floor to ceiling windows - north facing)
  • 1,000 Gallon Fish Tank
  • Master Suite (2 Balconies - 1 to the backyard and 1 to the aviary)
  • 6 Regular Bedrooms
  • 3 Gas Fireplaces
And that was all inside the house. The exterior included nicely landscaped front and back yards (huge lawns, lots of flowering bulbs, a small pond with a stream, lots of pine trees...), a jungle gym, a play house, stables, riding trails through the surrounding forest, a fire pit, a work shop, a "grandparents" house, and - not 100% positive, surprisingly enough - I think there may have been a pool.

Needless to say, the house rested on several acres of remarkably beautiful land in a small residential area at the edge of a redwood forest. The main house itself was at minimum 5,000 square feet, and - at 16 - I'm pretty sure I never bothered to calculate the utility bills. And I definitely didn't factor in the maids to clean it!

Rumor has it that years change perspective, and I have to say I'd put a large amount of stock in this rumor. While a few of the listed luxuries would be nice, my dream house some 12 years later now really only mandates the following:
  • I want to feel comfortable in my house.
  • I want my family to feel comfortable in my house.
  • I want other people to feel comfortable in my house with they visit.
And to expound slightly on the two mandates:
  • I would prefer to have enough room so that if a family member or friend decided to surprise me, they wouldn't have to rent a hotel room.
  • I would like people to feel comfortable sitting on my couches and chairs, to not feel like they just sat on a rock with a pillow on top but also not to feel as if my couch just ate their entire bottom half. And I need to have guests sleep on the couch, I don't want to search for them between the cushions come morning. Nor find them on the floor because it was softer down there. Comfort denotes a happy medium - best of both worlds.
  • I don't want people to walk into my house, look at the pattern on my couch, and run away blinded.
  • Even if I had the money, I would NOT want for people to walk in and feel as if they had just entered a museum.
All jokes aside, the most important thing is comfort... and comfort extends beyond the physical and the aesthetic. My dream house is a refuge, a place that people would feel happy and at peace. I want it to be a place I can raise my family, where my children would feel comfortable enough to bring their friends, but also a place where we all would want to come home to each night.

And all that comes naturally by living up to one main focus: I want my home to be a place where there is a good feeling, or more specifically, where you can feel the Spirit of Christ in every corner.

A home that would be my own little temple on earth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 14: A Non-Fictional Book

Okay, so if you read my last post, you already know that my "expertise" on non-fiction novels is very limited. I just don't really get into them very much and can't say I've finished a very high percentage of the non-fiction books I've started. So, you would think that picking a single book to highlight for purposes of this blog post would be easy... but not so. I am, of course, still me... and therefore one of the single most indecisive individuals on the planet.

So call it a the "default" answer... or blame it on the time... or the fact that I've actually finished this particular non-fiction book cover-to-cover... or - more likely- just call it the selection of the non-fiction book that has had the most profound impact on me in my life, and there. I have my answer.

I'm not sure I have any readers (or friends that read my blog ;0) that are not of my same faith and beliefs, so to most of you this probably isn't a shock. But the one non-fiction book that continues to pop into my head right now is The Book of Mormon. I'm not sure what to write about it... this whole free-association thing sometimes hits bigger road blocks that you'd expect...


I have been reading and studying The Book of Mormon for as long as I can remember, and likely as long as I have been alive. It remains one of the only books that I am always reading at some stage or another. And it's effect is always the same. Whether I have read a few lines or a few chapters... and whether I consciously gleaned anything at all... I know that when I'm done reading whatever bit I've read, I am better in many ways. It lifts me when I am going through the deepest valleys of life, but it also washes away the small, mundane frustrations that occur on any other normal day.
It does not grab me like many of the other books I choose to read, and yet the insights it provides are much more profound than those I receive while reading just about anything else. I know that when reading I learn not just through the words of the book, but through the Spirit that emanates through the words. And what I learn is not the full benefit of reading. It's as if the book, its words and Spirit make me whole and leave me healed from whatever it is I am facing. It gives me encouragement, strength and a desire to endure that I have yet to experience while reading any other book - fiction or non-fiction. It is the best way to start my morning and an even better way to fall to sleep at night. And the more I read it, the more I feel it becomes a part of me.

Which is the ultimate accomplishment of reading - to become something new at the end, different than when you started, to be changed through the experience.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 13: A Fictional Book

99% of everything I read falls into this category. I'm not really a big magazine reader; I don't read the newspaper (though I do read a bit on news websites, just to get updates...). And I don't read much non-fiction. I love my fantasies, suspense-thrillers, certain pop-fiction authors and most of the classics I've read. I really only have two main criteria for a book I enjoy and a third that applies to books I would definitely read again:
  1. It's not trashy.
  2. I can get "into" the book... generally without reading half of it first.
  3. (For really good books) It made me think.
I don't really have specific genres that I limit myself to... In fact I will really read almost anything. I am particularly fond of adolescent literature; I think books in this age bracket are written better than most books written for adults. I have some favorite authors, but I love to branch out and discover new authors as well. I always read the flyleaf or back cover before purchasing a book, but I've never read the last page except after I've read the rest of the book. In fact, in many instances I will place my hand over the next few paragraphs so that my eyes don't inadvertently skip down and read ahead. It's just not as fun when you know the ending.

So I kept putting off writing this post for a few days because I was worried about how much I would write. I can talk (or write) about books for a lot longer than I can probably talk about much else - and I can talk a lot about almost anything.
And I'm pretty sure that if I were to continue this train of thought, I'll be sitting at my computer for days... So, to the point.

A Fictional Book.

I've also been stuck about which single book to pick. It might be the easy road, but why not pick the one I'm reading right now? Novel idea. (Bad joke, and remarkably, unintentional).

I am in a book club with several other women in my ward at church. Right now we are reading:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

And I completely admit that this book has fought ever facet of rule number two. I have been struggling. I read Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows in less than 24 hours. I was definitely "in" (of course I have a Harry Potter addiction... there was a period in my life that Harry Potter - the books, not the boy - was known as my boyfriend. We were, simply, inseparable. And when I'm reading Harry Potter, everything in my life is subsequently related to something that I read for several months following.). But with Hedgehog I could not really have been much further from "in". I started this book over 3 weeks ago (tells you something). It drove me crazy, was slow and abstract... and yet I couldn't stop reading it either.

Well, just yesterday something clicked. I have read the last 100 pages in about 2 hours... and I am now 35 pages from the end (another reason I've been avoiding my blog). I'm not entirely sure that I would recommend this book to just anyone, because it does require so much effort and... desire, maybe, to like it - at least toward the beginning.

Hedgehog is told from two perspectives. 1) Renee: 50 years old, homely, overweight, and the concierge for a very uppity residence in Paris. Oh, and she's completely and utterly addicted to all forms of art and expanding knowledge (books, movies, cultures, foods, art-art, etc.)... a huge part of her that she has spent most of her life hiding from basically everyone she's ever known. 2) Paloma: a 12-year-old resident of Renee's building, daughter to a prominent politician and pure genius. So much genius, in fact, that she has determined at her ripe old age that life doesn't get much better than living in a fish bowl, and thus plans to swallow a ton of sleeping pills on her thirteenth birthday right before incinerating the the apartment building.

Interesting premise, yes. Potential to go one of two ways - fantastic or flop.

As I mentioned before, it takes a while for you to get into it. Both Paloma and Renee are word aficionados, which can get a bit heavy at times, but the translator (it was originally written in French) does an amazing job... you completely forget it's a translation!

I knew I was hooked in the bathroom. There's a chapter that takes place in the bathroom in the fourth floor suite of Renee's building... and I loved it SO much I read the who scene out loud to Mom. So dang funny. From there it gets better... I feel that at that moment I began to see both heroines for who they *really* are instead of who they wanted me to see them as (which, in essence, is the point of the novel... at least I'm convinced it is).

The fact that the author can create these same feelings in me as she did in the characters speaks volumes, I think. At the same moment that the characters begin to "see" each other as they really are, there is another level of understanding that you as the reader begin to gain about the characters... even though you've known their secrets all along. It's as if the characters become more of their true selves the more they share those "selves" with each other... and with you.

I don't really want to give away any more, and I can't really spoil the end since I won't finish it until tomorrow. But The Elegance of the Hedgehog passed all of my "rules" for a good book... even if it took a while.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 12: Something I Am OCD About

Conversation I just had with Mom:
Me: What's something I'm OCD about?
Mom: Is this your question for your blog?
Me: Maybe...
Mom: Seriously?
Me: Yes.
Mom: Shall we make a list?
...a few "list" items later...
Mom: Maybe you should just pick one. Do you really want to broadcast how OCD you are to everyone?
Yup, that about sums it up. But if you need a list of some specifics, I am prepared to oblige:
  • Folding my clothes.
  • Hanging clothes in my closet: I not only organize my blouses, pants and dresses by color, but I have a separate color of hangar for blouses, pants and dresses.
  • Putting utensils in the dishwasher: The "mouth" part goes up on everything except sharp knives - they go point down so you don't poke yourself. Naturally.
  • Putting everything else in the dishwasher.
  • Putting dishes and utensils away (Mom & I disagree on where some things *should* live).
  • Shampoo & conditioner: Same brand, same smell. Period. None of this "mixey-matchey" with whatever happens to be left over in the shower, unless I happen to have some Suave Daily Clarifying shampoo. Then it's whatever conditioner.
  • The way I drive to work: I've noticed recently that I definitely have a pattern, not just what roads I take, but what lanes I drive in too.
  • Everything has it's place (this may actually surprise those of you that have seen my room): Everything. Even if that "place" is in a stack of papers on my bedroom floor. I know where everything is. I do not lose things. If I misplace something, it will drive me absolutely crazy until I find it (if you don't believe me, ask someone who was around when I accidentally left my phone and iTouch at a friend's house this last February... it wasn't pretty).
  • I alphabetize my books by the author's last name and when I have finished reading a book I write the month and year in the back flyleaf.
  • Jewelry box: I use two of those tackle/craft boxes with tons of slots to keep things separate - one for goldish jewelry and the other for monochromes and other colors).
  • Music: All of my iTunes have complete file information, right down to the cover art... I'm currently working on genres. Each song also has specific playlists it belongs to.
  • Pictures on my computer: Organized by year, then by month and date or date range, followed last by a brief description of what I was doing or where the pictures were taken. And that's just the folders. :0)
  • Email at work: My first day on a new job is very critical. I have to set up all my folders and basic filter rules. I was never more grateful for this particular "anality" than with my current job where I literally get hundreds of emails a day.
  • Folders at work: Basically the same system as my pictures... Most companies have naming conventions for files and locations of corporate date. I have my own naming conventions for files.
So, I'm sure if I spent more than 15 minutes typing this up it would just get scarier. Mom and I laugh all the time about how we are both particularly OCD about one thing or another (alas, poor Dad). For me, I try to look on the bright side... I wouldn't be nearly as good at my job (proof reader, copy writer and copy editor for hundreds of marketing pieces each month) if I didn't have a little OCD in me. Plus, because I know what my tendencies are, I can laugh at them... and at myself.

And I find that wonderfully healthy. :0D

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 11: A Photo Taken of Me Recently

Me and my two best friends in front of the Reno Temple in May. Definitely a "best" day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 10: A Photo Taken Over 10 Years Ago of Me

1998 - I'm not really sure why... because I have this ridiculously stupid, "Uh, excuse me but what are you doing?" look on my face... but I have always really liked this pictures. Weird, I know, but there it is.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 9: A Photo I Took

I was the one who actually photographed this amazing moment in Cougar history...

But Kimmy was the one that made sense of it all...

Which is why I love this picture.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 8: A Photo that Makes Me Angry/Sad

This one makes me sad:

And this one makes me angry:

I had to drive the PT for 37 hours while the Pearl was in the auto body shop. No one should ever have to drive the vehicle they absolutely detest... especially when my baby was in the shop because I hit a different (red) PT.

I think my aversion to PTs is taking over my life. I just can't help but be plagued by them! ;0)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 6: 20 of My Favorite Things

In no particular order (well, maybe some... more like a free-association order):
  1. My Family
  2. My Friends
  3. Books
  4. Ice Flakes
  5. Campfires
  6. My New Sherpa Blanket
  7. Kitties
  8. Birds
  9. Basically Every Dairy Product
  10. Naps
  11. Sundays
  12. Music
  13. Temples
  14. Long Drives in the Black Pearl (Translation: My Car)
  15. Ultimate Frisbee
  16. The Beach, the Forest & the Mountains (All in On Day!)
  17. Holidays
  18. Rain
  19. Fresh Snow
  20. Hot Cocoa
Okay, I know I forgot things... but it's not " An Exhaustive My Most Favorite 2o Things Ever In the Whole Wide World". Because then I could go on for days... literally...

These just happen to be the first 20 I thought of. :0)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 5: My Favorite Quote

I started assembling a quote box when I was twelve. I still collect thoughts, stories, poems and quotes... I'm not sure I will ever stop. I put them in folders, boxes, notebooks - even on my Facebook profile and the sidebar of this blog. For this post, I chose the quote that has been one of my favorites for a long time... a good reminder, even if I sometimes forget to read it. ;0)
I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.

Martha Washington

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 4: My Favorite Book

I am a bibliophile; thus, determining the answer to "My Favorite Book" is like trying to find the universal answer to everything. I have, however, previously attempted to answer this question before... here (question 23)... and I'm relatively sure the answer has not changed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 3: My Favorite Television Program

The following provides proof that I am capable of making some concrete decisions in my life:

I am incredibly - and unequivocally - in love with Chuck.

There is something so perfect about the Stanford IT drop-out, who is employed at the fictional equivalent of the BestBuy Geek Squad (i.e. BuyMore Nerd Herd), that - through a series of "right-place right-time" circumstances - becomes first a National Security asset and then later the spy no one ever thought it possible for him to become. It's the perfect balance of the geek-next-door meets clandestine-spy-world... and I LOVE IT!! (I'm sure the Zachary Levi influence is only a minor arm-twister, but it helps. Let's face it... he's just adorable! And apparently not photogenic... at least not here... ;0)

So, officially, I have a date every Monday night, promptly at 8/7 central, with Chuck. His imagination for dating options is fairly unoriginal... Mostly we just sit in my living room. Sometimes we eat. He gets a little melodramatic sometimes, and he always finds a way to get himself in trouble, inciting some form of subterfuge. Sometimes Mom chaperons, but then he usually brings his friends.

But all else aside, what gets me every time, and has me completely hooked, is his unprecedented ability to make me laugh. And there really is nothing better than a good laugh.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 2: My Favorite Movie

Hmmm... favorite movie. Probably will make for a shorter* post. We watch a lot of movies in my family, but I have never really been able to decide on a "favorite".

I like movies of all types - from high-action (lots of blowing things up) to your classic "chick-flick" - Disney cartoons to historical epic films... and pretty much everything in between. As with music, I like specific movies rather than genres or themes. If I were to narrow it down, I like movies that do one of two things: 1) they make me happy and/or 2) they make me think. (And all the better if they make me do both.)

Here's a list of some movies I've seen that I really enjoyed, for any one of an array of reasons, and would recommend:
  • Antwone Fisher
  • The Secret Life of Bees
  • Invictus
  • Blind Side (really almost all "based-on-actual-events" sports films...)
  • Just Like Heaven (yah, watched this one at least 5 times at the dollar theater...)
  • Avatar
  • Robin Hood (historical epics are a plus)
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • You've Got Mail (I never get sick of this one!)
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Harry Potter VII (Let's face it... they'll end up on here eventually, even if they're NOT released yet!)
I really could go on and on... (part of that whole "not picking a favorite" thing).

For being so sure if I like something or not, I really have a problem narrowing things down and picking just one! (Anyone who has ever gone to a restaurant with me can attest to the fact that it's not just with music and movies that I have this problem.) However, for purposes of this post, I have gone to extreme lengths and much internal debate to answer this question (maybe a small, pathetic attempt at being somewhat decisive ;0).

So here it is (drumroll might be fitting here)...

Most recently, the one movie that has really been at the top of my list is Disney Pixar's UP!
LOVED that movie. Aside from doing an amazing job with story line and animation, it is probably one of the few movies I've ever seen that caused such a wide range of emotional response. I laughed and cried - was grieved, angered and frustrated but also hopeful, uplifted and inspired. It was a great fairytale that rung true on a lot of levels and in general reminds me that there is always something more to live for, to enjoy about life and to make you laugh out loud. I remember thinking after it was over that we really do need more movies like it. If you have seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven't... your life really would be much better if you did. GREAT movie.

*Disclaimer: "Shorter" for me... Still probably means at least 5 paragraphs or so. ;0)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 1: My Favorite Song

I can't think of a better way to begin my new personal revival than by writing about my favorite song... or at least my current favorite song.

As most of you know, music has played an integral part of my life... probably since my preschool days. Many of the primary songs I learned at that young age are among my favorites when I just need a song to lift my spirits. I remember the first time I looked at the first instrument I ever played (the Song Flute) and being so excited that it was so much like Mom's recorder. In the fifth grade, I began my real musical adventure - I started the flute. From 5th grade until I graduated from high school, I was always in a band class... and in high school it was anywhere from 2 to 5 bands (between classes and after school bands) and 1 to 3 instruments (while the flute has always been my primary instrument, I also played the piccolo and tenor saxophone).

While I still play the flute, normally arranging my own flute solos, descants and even flute choir pieces (SOOO much fun!!) for church meetings, instrumental music has plays a much smaller role in my life than it once did (now primarily limited to occasional tinkering on the piano and even rarer flute numbers). My passion for music, however, has not dwindled in the slightest. I appreciate my quiet time, especially reading, but my life is otherwise filled with the sounds of whatever my heart needs to hear most.

My alarm each morning consists of songs from my iTouch and get ready for work listening to anything from classical to Disney songs to Rammstein. Eclectic is really the best word... and generally I listen to "songs" or "pieces" rather than "groups" or "genres". I usually stream music from one of various places while at work, and my commute is (between news and traffic updates) anything I have available in my car (iTouch, CDs and radio).

I also almost always have something musical stuck in my head. A dear friend of mine and I - while in college - developed a theory that when you get a song stuck in your head, there's a good chance there's a more profound reason than it just being "stuck" there. I've since come to realize that my Heavenly Father often communicates to me through music and much of that is placing a song in my head until I've listened to it and learned or felt what I needed to.

So from being the biggest band nerd in high school to waking up with a song stuck in my head... music has always been a huge part of my life. And I hope that never changes.

The "favorite" song I wanted to share is one that came in many ways as an answer to prayer. I was driving home from work a few weeks ago and heard this song on the radio. I'd been struggling with a lot of things (see yesterday's post) and this song just touched me. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. It made me laugh and made me cry... but mostly it gave me hope, and I can't think of a better thing to get out of a song on the radio. I now wake up to the song most mornings and dance to it in the bathroom when I'm doing my hair. And - more often than not - this song is been running through my head. This song has become my own personal theme song, one that will consistantly bring a smile to my face whenever - and wherever - I hear it.

I looked up the music video on YouTube for your viewing pleasure this morning (hyperlinked below). I'd not seen it before and was laughing at my desk before it ended and even more when it actually ended. This is my new favorite song:

Haven't Met You Yet -
Michael Bublé

For those of you that remember the college days when I would get "Someday My Prince Will Come" stuck in my head for weeks on end, this probably smacks of a little familiarity. I laugh at the music video because that is TOTALLY me! I can't tell you how many times I've had that party in my head - dancing and everything! And the poetic awkwardness that comes at the end when he realizes that he's not really there... yet. Yah, that's totally been me too.

But as I mentioned before, aside from being funny to the point of tears, this song gives me more hope for the future than perhaps many of my experiences have recently. It is an entertaining answer to the hole in my heart, if only temporary, and is just one simple example of how music has empowered my life completely.


I'm not surprised, not everything lasts
I've broken my heart so many times, I stopped keeping track
Talk myself in, I talk myself out
I get all worked up, then I let myself down

I tried so very hard not to lose it
I came up with a million excuses
I thought, I thought of every possibility

And I know someday that it'll all turn out
You'll make me work, so we can work to work it out
And I promise you, kid, that I give so much more than I get
I just haven't met you yet

I might have to wait, I'll never give up
I guess it's half timing, and the other half's luck
Wherever you are, whenever it's right
You'll come out of nowhere and into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing
And, baby, your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility

And somehow I know that it'll all turn out
You'll make me work, so we can work to work it out

And I promise you, kid, I give so much more than I get
I just haven't met you yet

They say all's fair
In love and war

But I won't need to fight it
We'll get it right and we'll be united

And I know that we can be so amazing
And being in your life is gonna change me
And now I can see every single possibility

And someday I know it'll all turn out
And I'll work to work it out
Promise you, kid, I'll give more than I get
Than I get, than I get, than I get

Oh, you know it'll all turn out
And you'll make me work so we can work to work it out
And I promise you kid to give so much more than I get
Yeah, I just haven't met you yet

I just haven't met you yet
Oh, promise you, kid
To give so much more than I get

I said love, love, love, love
Love, love, love, love
(I just haven't met you yet)
Love, love, love, love
Love, love
I just haven't met you yet

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lighting a Fire...

It's amazing to me how one small change in my life seems to have uprooted an entire laundry-list of positive habits I had formed over the last few years. Once upon a time, I lost my job and made myself think I was uprooting a lot about myself to move back to California. Ok, so not really a *small* change, but I think I let that change a lot about who I was, what I was doing and what I was aiming at becoming. I let losing my job become my excuse for becoming completely apathetic about a lot of things. I was on this train to apathy, just kind of drifting along, when other things happened (Mom getting sick, a funeral or two, missing my old home and all the friends I don't get to see as much...) that acted like jet propulsion, sending my train toward apathy so fast that I'm not really even sure what happened to the last four months...

An example of this apathy... blogging. I'd been so good! Since my blog is - more or less - my journal, this is probably not the *best* thing but not really significantly life altering either. Other similar habits - not life altering in themselves - all combined together and created this apathetic Jessi who was tired, grouchy and enjoying too much her own personal hermitage.

But, I'm back. I've decided that I've had enough of the apathy train and I'm really starting over this time.

I have two callings which together combine two of my greatest loves in life: music and the temple. I serve once each week in the Oakland Temple, which is a huge blessing... and one of the things I think helped turn my train around. I am also the Music Director for the ward Relief Society; this calling provides a constant reminder to me of how amazing life can be as long as there's great music around.

Some other things have helped light this fire in me and have me finally surfacing from this funk I've been in for 6 months. I have (finally) been called as a Visiting Teacher in my ward (for some unknown reason, this took a while) and the opportunity to go visit and befriend sisters in the ward is very exciting to me. I've also been invited to join a book club in my ward with other sisters - at varying points in life, but mostly close to my age. I also had the opportunity to arrange a special musical number that just might have affected me more than it did anyone else... even though others were touched, I think playing my flute again was the spark that my little flame needed. (On a somewhat funnier note, I recommend reading the wrappers on Dove chocolates. I think that they have also played their own part in changing my perspective on things... And yes, I mean the wrappers helped more than the chocolate. Crazy, I know.)

So I feel like me again, like I'm moving forward and finally embracing this new life that Heavenly Father needs me to live right now. I'm still single, with not even the remotest prospect of that changing any time soon... but I'm okay with that... again. Still hopeful, but realizing how much I can still be doing, even if it's not the "progression" I would choose first at this point in my life. I've started up that old Gratitude journal again, perhaps now with more vested interest. I'm reading my scriptures more regularly and trying to wipe off the depressed and tired scowl that had been temporarily affixed to my face. And smiling just makes everything that much better.

In short, I'm me again... at least the better version of me.

And the final straw - of sorts - that really fueled this fire, is having something to write about. I have been telling myself that I have nothing to post that isn't boring, that would interesting, funny or uplifting to everyone else. Just yesterday, in reading my friend's blog, I realized a few things: 1.) Life doesn't have to be interesting in order for me to be writing about interesting things. 2.) My blog really isn't as much for everyone else as it can be for me.

So I'm stealing an idea (thanks Erika!) and I'm hoping that this will help feed this little spark that's finally growing again... or at least get me back in the habit of blogging. I'm starting tomorrow and I'll be posting daily (hopefully) and progressing through the list below. Feel free to read as often or as rarely as you choose... But I hope that something that you read causes you to smile, makes you laugh out loud, raises your spirits or even helps light your own fire within.

Love you all!



October's "Write About This" Checklist:

Day 1: My Favorite Song
Day 2: My Favorite Movie
Day 3:
My Favorite Television Program
Day 4:
My Favorite Book
Day 5:
My Favorite Quote
Day 6: 20 of
My Favorite Things
Day 7: A Photo that Makes Me Happy
Day 8: A Photo that Makes Me Angry/Sad
Day 9: A Photo I Took
Day 10: A Photo Taken Over 10 Years Ago of Me
Day 11: A Photo Taken of Me Recently
Day 12: Something I Am OCD About
Day 13: A Fictional Book
Day 14: A Non-Fictional Book
Day 15: My Dream House
Day 16: A Song that Makes Me Cry
Day 17: An Art Piece
Day 18:
My Future Wedding
Day 19: A Talent of Mine
Day 20: A Hobby of Mine
Day 21: A Recipe
Day 22: A Website
Day 23: A YouTube Video
Day 24: Where I Live
Day 25: My Day In Great Detail
Day 26: My Week
In Great Detail
Day 27: My Worst Habit
Day 28: What's In My Purse
Day 29: Hopes, Dreams & Plans for the Next 365 Days
Day 30: A Dream for the Future
Day 31:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update on Mom

So it's been a while, which to me is a sign things are becoming
infinitely more stable than they were a month ago. :0)

Mom and Dad went to meet with her new surgeon this last Thursday
(7/8). They really liked him. He took a look at her healing incision
and just raved about what good home care she's had (Go Dad!). She's
just healing really well. While they visited with him, the doctor read
through all of her surgery reports and told Mom flat out that she was
very lucky to be here. That part really touched me when they told me
later that night. It really emphasizes again all the miracles we've
witnessed. The doctor also told Mom that she could start a gradual
clear-liquid diet. Mom started with ice chips that night and has
worked her way up to broth and Jell-O. She has another visit with the
doctor tomorrow, and we're hoping to hear more good things.

Mom has been doing really well in other ways too. She is really
mobile, but still gets tired easily. This last weekend she went
shopping a bit with Dad, went to a movie with our family and some
great friends, and went to Sacrament Meeting on Sunday for the first
time in almost two months! I'd say we're doing good. :0)

To the Hardy Clan - We missed being at the reunion and are anxious to
see pictures! We heard it was a blast and can't wait for the next two
years to fly by!

And to everyone - Thanks, always, for the love and support you've
shown us. We really feel so blessed to have our Mom still here and
know that it is through faith and prayer that we have that privilege.

We hope that this finds each of you happy and well!



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything = 42

Got this from Gretchen – Haven’t done one in quite a while!! Have fun! I sure did. :0D

Welcome to the new 2010 edition of getting to know your family and friends. Here is what you are supposed to do, and try not to be lame and spoil the fun. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person who sent it to you. Some of you may get this several times; that means you have lots of friends. You can change the answers or copy and paste. Have fun and be truthful!

1. What is your occupation right now? Marketing Assistant

2. What color are your socks right now? Black (a fairly normal occurrence…)

3. What are you listening to right now? 95.7 The WOLF & the humdrum sounds of my office

4. What was the last thing you ate? Yogurt, Do-si-dos and my morning infusion of crushed ice (shocker, I know)

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yuppers

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Bailey

7. Do you like the person who sent this? Uh… SCHYESS!! (Love ya, Gertch!!)

8. How old are you today? 28 years, 4 months, 3 days, 10 hours, 42 minutes… uh…

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Football – American Style (and let’s be honest… only BYU)

10. What is your favorite drink? Ice (Does this qualify?)

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Anoop. But I’ve permed it 2 times too many. (I was 8…)

12. Favorite food? La comida Mexicana: enchiladas de queso, frijoles y arroz

13. What is the last movie you watched? Despicable Me (Funny as heck!!)

14. Favorite day of the year? The fourth Thursday in November, tied with the Sunday following the full moon which falls on or after vernal equinox.

15. How do you vent anger? I always vent, but sometimes it leads to me washing my “windows”… or playing a good game of ultimate.

16. What was your favorite toy as a child? The wind-up puppy I got from Dad when July was born that played, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window.”

17. What is your favorite season? Cold

18. Cherries or Blueberries? HOLY CRAP!!! THIS IS A QUESTION?? Seriously, wow… (BWAHAHA! I just noticed something and would like to explain my thought process that elicited this reaction. I’m not wearing my glasses, so I thought it said Cherrios... and let’s be honest, what kind of comparison is “Cherrios or Blueberries”? I also might be a little tired… but still… I’m gonna say cherries if they’re fresh, otherwise, neither. :0)

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Fo’ sho’! I always liked these things. :0)

20. Who is the most likely to respond? Not Gretchen. She already did.

21. Who is least likely to respond? Uh… I’m gonna go with Gretchen on this…

22. Living situation? Quick, as opposed to dead. Generally the better way to be, I’ve found.

23. When was the last time you cried? Sunday. Always Sunday.

24. What is on the floor of your closet right now? Shoes

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Funny, but I’ve not decided who I’m sending it to yet… So… No comment.

26. What did you do last night? Read. Fill up one of my bookshelves *finally*! (My room is not “settled” until my books are.)

27. What are you most afraid of? Being left alone

28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? In-n-Out: Double meat, grilled onions, no tomatoes, extra lettuce. Absolutely NONE of that American processed yellow crap you *think* is cheese.

29. Favorite dog breed? Labrador retriever

30. Favorite day of the week? Again with the Sunday… followed closely by Saturday

31. How many states have you lived in? Two

32. Diamonds or pearls? Sapphire and Moonstone

33. What is your favorite flower? Daisies and carnations

34. If you could have only one CD forever which would it be? Right now, probably Daughtry.

35. If you could live anywhere for a year where would it be? The UK or Australia

36. If you could have one super power which would it be? The ability to help people feel better (Probably the coolest thing about the Twilight series is Jasper’s power, and I have to admit that it would be awesome to have that ability!)

37. If you could have two super powers what would the other one be? Flight

38. What would be your dream job? I’m going with Gretchen and saying FBI Profiler. (I’m not addicted to Criminal Minds or anything…)

39. What is your favorite non-fiction book(s)? The BoM

40. What is your favorite fictional book(s)? This would be like asking a grandparent to pick their favorite grandchild… Too many, too varied, each special to me.

41. What is the last book you read? Believe it or not, I’m still chewing on War & Peace, but I’m starting David Baldacci’s Divine Justice tonight!

42. If you were running for president of the world what would your platform be? The Tools to Find Happiness – no matter who you are, where you are, or what you’re dealing with.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Beginning Again...

So... I discovered that blogging is a lot like keeping a journal. At least when it comes to excuses as to why I keep putting it off. For the first few weeks after I moved back to California, I kept telling myself that nothing new was going on, so why post. And then a few weeks later I realized I could post about stuff, but wanted to make sure that I posted about the few things I forgot to post about back in January and February. And since I needed to post those first, I couldn't post new stuff... Then the last month has been a crazy blur. I began wondering where I would even begin... And I'm sure it was even more convoluted in my head.

So I'm starting over, in a way. Here's the last five months in a nutshell... (And apologies in advance if it's a little saga-ish...)

After finding out I didn't have a job anymore, and was moving back to California earlier than anticipated, I determined to move home February 15th, Presidents' Day. That left me about three weeks to see everyone I wanted to see, pack everything I was taking, store everything I wasn't... Oh, and find a new job. Three weeks became very short very quickly, but I felt like I was being sustained the entire time. Like things were happening the way they were supposed to. Mom flew out to Utah the Thursday before I moved, and we spent the weekend with Kimmy before cramming (literally) everything I was taking with me in my car (Toyota Corolla) and making the 13 hour drive west.

It took me a few days to get settled, but then I developed a routine of searching for jobs for about an hour or so a day, helping around the house, reading, and *relaxing*. I think. While part of my brain was trying to tell me to relax and enjoy the time I had to take it easy, the other part of my brain was trying keep a third part of my brain from freaking out. In short, I was going a little stir crazy...

I'm not one that enjoys doing nothing, at least not for months on end. But I still had that nudging feeling that things would be okay, that they would work out how they were supposed to. So I spent one day a week in the temple, and gradually began adding other more positive, less sitting-on-my-hands type things to my routine. The few job interviews I had really helped, too. I began to grasp onto that feeling of "things tend to work out" and tried harder everyday to push away the fear and doubts. It worked, most of the time.

Mom and Dad were great! They have always been so supportive of my sisters and me, so having them around during this time was not only nice, but essential. They helped me really grab on to the positive thoughts, helped me remember that this really was part of Heavenly Father's plan for me, and things really would turn out alright when it was time.

When April came, things got tons better for me... at least for my positive mental health. ;0) Kimmy came out from Utah twice to visit, and Julie, Caylee, and Cambree came up from Arizona for two weeks while my brother-in-law was in England on a business trip. I can't even begin to express how amazing this time was for me... To spend that time with my sisters and nieces. It really pulled me out of the funk that I was rapidly descending into. Most days we just stayed around the house, played in the backyard, talked, watched movies, played games. Just good family time. Other days we went on excursions to the mall, to San Francisco, to the zoo. It was so good to be able to spend that time together... I think for all of us!

May was a month of preparation... Mom and Dad's 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in December, so Mom and Dad were taking an Alaskan cruise and tour for two weeks at the end of May to celebrate. That combined with my Mom's family reunion in July, we were pretty busy preparing for the next few weeks and months. I also got a call from a company regarding a job I'd applied for back in March... and went in for two interviews, both very positive. I was still waiting to hear back from them when Mom and Dad left on their cruise in mid-May.

The last four weeks, as mentioned earlier, have been crazy... to put it mildly. Mom and Dad left on their cruise, and the following Monday I was called by the company I'd interviewed for and offered to start my new job at the beginning of June. Long waits, slight insanity spells, and many prayers finally all paid off and my preparations for starting a new job - two days before Mom and Dad came home for their cruise - began.

Part of this preparation involved a short trip to Utah and one heck of an amazing weekend! I flew to Salt Lake on the Wednesday before Memorial Day and spent most of Thursday visiting Kimmy and several friends down in Provo. I picked up a 16-foot Budget Rental truck (it was only supposed to be 10...) and drove up to the mountains above Park City where one of my best friends was storing most of my belongings. Two of my friends and I loaded up the truck and piled in for the road trip we'd been planning for over two years (although I don't remember it involving the three of us in a 16-foot moving truck with only two seats... ;0)! Friday night we stayed at the Silver Legacy in Reno, and Saturday we paid a short visit to the Reno Temple before climbing the Sierras (at about 2 miles/hour). We stopped at the Sacramento Temple for a bit before ending the "road" part of our trip at my house in the Bay Area.

Sunday, by far my favorite day of any week (this week not excepted), we went to church before heading over to the Marin County, the generally under-appreciated northern peninsula (where the Golden Gate ends). We visited Muir Woods, Mt. Tamalpais, and Stinson Beach. And wow, that trip was amazing. I ended the day feeling rejuvenated, ready to take on anything! I was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically fed that day. Nothing really does that quite as well as the mountains, the ocean, and great friends! I didn't really know then how much I would need that rejuvenation... Monday - Memorial Day - my friends and I spent the day along the San Francisco Embarcadero... Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39! After getting dinner at Boudin's, I drove back across the Bay, dropped my friends off at the airport, and got myself ready to start my new job the next morning.

At about 2:30am, I received a call from Dad. Mom had been admitted to the hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska and was being life-flighted to Seattle the next morning for emergency surgery at Harborview Medical Center. The next few days are still a bit of a blur. Mom had developed some holes in her stomach wall and was leaking stomach acid and bile into her abdominal cavity. Mom was in surgery four out of the five days that followed her arrival in Seattle, where they removed her spleen, part of her pancreas, most of her stomach, and part of her intestines. She was essentially in a drug-induced coma for about five days, and it's scary to realize now how close we'd come to losing her. She was in ICU for about a week and then moved into the trauma/surgery ward, where she is still. Julie, Kimmy, and I flew into Seattle this last weekend where we had an unexpected family reunion... that again was so necessary. Mom has stabilized significantly, and though she will be months on the mend, we're hoping she'll be flying home to California next week sometime.

I started my new job as scheduled on June 1st - and I love it! They've been amazing, and nothing but supportive as I've been dealing with so much personal life from the start of my employment there. I just finished my third week, and yet feel like I've been there forever. I feel so strongly that that's how it was all supposed to turn out... that this is part of the reason I was supposed to lose my job and come home when I did.

I also had a feeling that - besides work - there was some other reason that I needed to be here, now. With Mom coming home soon, in the condition she's in, I know that feeling was accurate. It will definitely be needed for me to be here to help out around the house and to be a support to both my parents as Mom continues to recover.


So, my little novella here has a purpose, but I couldn't accurately describe what I'm feeling right now without the background I've just given... Whether it's for my own peace of mind, or some greater purpose, I don't know. But just as with many things over the last month, I know I was supposed to start my blog again today... and with this being my general message.

I know now, after the last five months, more than I ever have in my life that God watches over us. That He loves us. That he cares more for us than we could possibly imagine. I know that we live our lives of our own free will, but that He guides us and is ever-mindful of who we are, where we're going, what we need to become, and - most importantly - what we need to experience in order to become.
He is there, whether we turn to Him or not. I have learned through my experiences in the last five months what He expects of me and how He means for me to accomplish that. I know that prayers are answered. Period. No ifs ands or buts! We just need to listen and to keep listening. I've learned that true friends are the gifts He gives each of us to help us on our individual paths... and that they can come and they go, but we always have what we need. I know that angels watch over us, both the ones we can see and the ones we can't. I've learned that the greatest blessing I have right now is the knowledge that I can be with my family forever. That FAMILY is what everything - this life, our experiences - everything is all about.

Things do indeed happen for a reason. There are no coincidences, no eternal accidents. I know that things are far from over, and I feel as if I really am beginning again. But that "beginning" comes with a greater understanding of what's been, a deeper appreciation of what is, and a sincere hope for what comes next.