Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: A pain in my behind

I caution all my readers, this post may contain too much pessimism, so read with caution.

The theme of 2009: A pain in my behind.

The year began in a pool of a most beloved country--Brazil.
I got sunburned. Do you know what it feels like to be on a plane for more than 14 hours with a bright red back?

January:Two weeks later I got some kind of stomach flu--I watched 18 hours of Lonesome Dove. Passed out on the couch. Ate crackers and drank Gatorade.

February: Applied for a job. Hopes high--good mullah--lady smashed hopes. Cried a lot.

March: I turned 25. Lost my health and car insurance. More bills

April: Big blur. Panic sets in for a new life.

May: I graduated from Utah State University--following my graduation, my family and I spent 2 hours searching through the dumpster for my little sister's clear plastic retainers (retail: $400).

Got into graduate school. I moved away from beautiful mountainous Cache Valley and my Dad lost his job.

Drove across the west to the mid-west: Utah, Colorado, Kansas (loved it), Oklahoma.

June:I started an amazing life in Oklahoma. (No sarcasm here--love Oklahoma...)

July: Get kicked out of my apartment by new tenant. Have no place to live.

August:I met my dream cowboy. He took me to meet his horse. He asked for my number. I was on cloud nine. The next day the Relief Society President was on my doorstep. He was married. Cloud hit by lightening. Now he dates a girl the same age as my little sister. (7 year difference :) )

September: Called Martin Harris. Worked an 60 hour week.

October: Roommate started dating--boy spends the night. Roommate blows up at me--I'm judgemental. Other roommate has a liquor party.

November: Wrote three 15-page papers. Two in one week. Cried a lot. Gained 15 pounds since June.

December:Traveled from Missouri, to Kansas, to Oklahoma, to Utah in 24 hours. Met my loving parents at the airport. Saw beautiful mountains, snow, rural streets and familiar faces.

Rode in my rusty-red truck to Logan. Played with friends. Cried some more.

Came home, got the flu on Dec 23.
Flu got worse, sniffles and hacking began.
Visited the doctor Dec 28--Have bronchitis.
Hacked all the way to Arizona to visit family.

Summary: 2009 was a pain in my behind. Call me a pessimist.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Surgeon General Warning: Graduate School


I am about three weeks away from finishing up my second (really first hard) semester of graduate school. When I began the semester I had no idea what a literature review was, nor did I believe I was capable of writing one. I had never done a research critique, nor thought about semiotics; however, in about four months I have learned how to do it all.

Still, I pose a warning to all those that are thinking about graduate school, and I do so in a scholarly manner.

Observe picture one below: this picture was taken in around the beginning of September 2008. I had just started the beginning of my senior year at Utah State University. My skin is vibrant, my eyes twinkle and my smile has a genuineness about it. I had an inner confidence and assurance that I could do anything; I was content with life.



Now observe picture two below: this picture was taken 5 minutes ago. Although it has been a little over a year, one can tell the toll this past year has had on me. The bags under my eyes reveal the overexposure to reading research articles, sometimes more than 50 pages long; the wrinkles above my eyes have been enhanced from too much contemplation. While the zits on my face reveal the stress associated with deciding to go to graduate school, moving states, cultures, and universities. It's interesting to note a couple of weeks ago I had the Rocky Mountains on my forehead and the Alps on my chin. Still, my favorite is the cute line of chubbiness that is hard to hide--the documentation of my preferred pastime: stress eating on chocolate and salty snacks.



My Conclusion: They should put a surgeon general warning on your graduate applications.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You're There...



In the ordinary aspects of life:
When I wake up
As I walk to class
While I sit at my desk

You're there...

As I seek to do the things I love to relax:
Horseback ride
Drive
Read

You're there...

When I attend the things that make me think:
Church
School
Work

You're there...

Thanks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

17 Pounds

Don't worry, this post isn't a musing over weight loss; although 17 pounds would be nice to lose :).

Instead, 17 pounds refers to the weight limit the Mormon Pioneers had when they crossed the plains by handcart. This included pots, pans, blankets, clothes and special possessions (music boxes, inherited vases, china, etc).

A description of this experience from Gerald Lund's novel, Fire of the Covenant, touched my heart as I was reading it last night:

"Maggie had known about the seventeen-pound limit before they ever left Scotland. She thought she had culled out everything that she could bear to leave behind. But now as she eyed the two stacks she had mad--one for discard, one for taking--the one looked pitifully small, the other unbelieveably large. Taking a deep breath, she started through the larger stack one more time. Out went her favorite dress. She had bought a year ago, one of the few times she had spent her wages on herself...after another five minutes of agonizing, it came down to two things. There was a brass looking glass that James [her boyfriend] had given her for Christmas last year...or the plain wooden music box, a gift from her
decesased father."

As Maggie went to weigh her things "The scales reversed with a heavy thud. The pan with the weights swung slowly back and forth in the air. The other pan rested heavily on the ground" revealing the weight of her precious possesions was too high. "She reached for the handle of the looing glass and pulled it out
from between her clothing. For a moment she thought the scales might come in balance. The lower pan lifted for a moment, but then hung silently about an inch above the ground." She was still too heavy. "Her shoulders lifted and fell, but without hestitations she reached out and took off the music box. The scales did not come into perfect alignment but the weigher declared, "that's enough."

Could you imagine traveling thousands of miles from Scotland, giving up your native land, home, friends and family; and then sitting on the edge of the wilderness and told, "No, you cannot take the precious music box your father gave to you."

Oftentimes, I believe we think we know what it means to sacrifice. Yet, after reading this story I have realized sacrifice means more than giving of your time and talents. More importantly, sacrifice is to give up the things you love the most, to obtain the greater unseen things God has for you.



It's never easy, but always worth it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Culture

Experiencing culture...who defines it? what makes it a true culture?

Perception. Interpretation. Context. Meaning.

During my communication theories class today we examined the barriers often imposed because of culture. The poor say there are too many rich, the rich say there are too many poor--the whites have too much power, the blacks too little. Men work, women work and then cook, clean, etc....

Or so they say. Who says? They: a generic grouping of people who we blame life's confusions on--an answer as easy to give as blinking subconsciously.

My answer however is different, and its my question to the world:

WHEN ARE WE GOING TO LET PEOPLE JUST BE PEOPLE?

From my international experience in Brazil, I realized people are different but very much the same. Parents still worry about their kids, teenagers are well versed in the latest movies and bands, church leaders are worried about helping their congregations become better individuals.

I guess whenever I hear these defining attributes of this or that, I am sadden because it pulls us away from our true identities. Paul said in the New Testament, "The Spirit itself bearth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."

That includes all the people on earth--we're family, brothers and sisters. God is our Father, we are His children. Such a view brings a greater light and hope to a stereotypical world and banishes the heartless "they" syndrome.

The fact of the matter is, it is also better to listen and to seek to understand, then to pass judgement and be indifferent.

Just a truthful thought for ya'll.

Monday, October 12, 2009

To Be or Not to Be:

SELFISH

1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.

Since President Monson's amazing What Have I Done for Someone Today talk, I have found myself in the realization of how easy it is to become selfish in day to day activities:

  • Get up
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Go to Work
  • Study for School
  • Go Home
  • Eat
  • Sleep

Yet the truthful thought of such a lifestyle is that is it ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE. Such a life is lived with no motive, love or desire for good.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • An honor student with an notable GPA claims the Summa Cum Laude award vs. an honor student who helps his/her friend pass a chemistry test.


  • An employee who is concerned about getting to the top vs. an employee who seeks to build up a positive work environment by fostering good employee relations


  • A Christian who knows of Christ vs. a Christian who lives a Christlike life.

You see, selfishness is a result of a natural tendency to live life, "just because." President Monson said, "We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes."

I have found that life have so much more meaning when it is spent in the service of others. I love the scripture found in Proverbs 3:27


"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."


So the question becomes, to Be or Not to Be:

CHARITABLE

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Utah Fall vs. Oklahoma Fall Weather



Sorry Utah, but you defintely lose this battle.





For all those who are traveling to General Conference in Salt Lake City, make sure you pack your thermals. As for me, I'm going to enjoy my t-shirts and horseback rides for another couple of months. Not to mention the beautiful greenery and trees that are all around me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It just made me smile

Languages can be goofy especially when the same word means something totally different in another language. For example, when we are embarassed by our language skills in Mexico we may want to claim we are"embarazada" only to figure out we just told everyone we're pregnant.

However, as odd as it may appear the word "fart" has many different meanings. While I was a missionary in Brazil, I encountred "fartou" meant "filled." I was sitting in a lesson with some people and we were talking about Christ instituting the sacrament among his disciples. While the topic was sacred, I must admit I got the inside giggles when I read, "They ate the bread and water" and "fartarm (were filled)."

So today, I refer you to one of my dear companion's blogs. She's living in Denmark right now and learning that "fart" means "speed" in danish. Who Knew? Check out some of the goofy signs she found there, they are good for a laugh.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I am going Green...but not in the way you think.

Going Green is too often associated with the "SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT!" clause that has seemed to reincarnate itself from the kumbaya nature movement in the sixities. While there are many principles I agree with the new earth conscious environment, I am a bit annoyed that they have "pattened" the color green for all their advertisements, clauses and movements.

For me, growing up with Green meant something completely different--it was connected to the missionary term of being a greeny. Simply defined, a greeny is that innocent young man or woman that hasn't got a clue of what his missionary experience holds for him; from the discovery of a new culture (be it Brasil or Washington D.C.) to the communication conflicts with a companion.

Yet to me, being a greeny can also mean standing at the bottom of a huge mountain of expectations. Any green missionary knows the expectations of an "honorable returned missionary" are high; and looking up (or forward) to two long years it seems impossible to accomplish such a task.

Such a principle has applied to me as I am beginning of graduate school. I see the endless potential of learning new things, making a difference through my assistantship and organizational involvement; and then, I feel as if its impossible to make it to the end of it alive, and I turn green.

However, life's experiences have taught me that it is the small and simple things one does every day that gets you to the top of the mountain. I love the parable of the train tracks that President Gordon B. Hinckley mentioned years ago in discourse. He described an experience a passenger train had when it arrived in Newark, New Jersey without the baggage car. Sadly, the reasoning behind the lost baggage was a three-inch switch that had not been properly flipped, resulting in a 1300 mile distance between the passangers in New Jersey and the baggage in Lousiana.

Such examples make me muse over the changes in life. For big changes in our life can result in the three inches that will help us reach New Jersey or sadly dump us off at Louisana.

Effort. Diligence. Strategy. Accuracy. Dedication--With such demands, no wonder I am going green.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beware of a Flat-Tired Bandwagon

Current media seems to be full of pledges, petitions and regulations; it seems like everyone is searching to become part of the GREATER cause. However with the fervor in the air, one might want to check the research for validty.

For example, I read the following story on Facebook today, and verified it later on snopes.com and found the article listed below on theburningbiscuit.com:

"A student at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide." And for plenty of good reasons, since:

  • it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
  • it is a major component in acid rain
  • it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
  • accidental inhalation can kill you
  • it contributes to erosion
  • it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
  • it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical. Forty-three (43) said yes, six (6) were undecided, and only one (1) knew that the chemical was water.

The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?" He feels the conclusion is obvious."

Do society a favor, be the one person smart enough to identify hoax petitions and causes. Living is hard enough without having to wade through a road full of flat-tired bandwagons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Perspective Paperclips

One never knows when a lesson will come back to bite you.

About a week ago I was surrounded by trees, students and the humid air of Oklahoma. While I was there Terry, a leadership facilitator, handed me a simple piece of wire in the form of a paperclip. He challenged me along with the group to be creative and bend the wire into a desirable shape. In 30 seconds, I turned my paperclip into a U. Other students made hearts, fish hooks, boxes, ninja weapons, etc.

Since that day I have reflected on the lesson of the wire and its application to our ordinary lives. How often do we define wire as a paperclip without noting its true potential?

For example, a person with a huge house can be labeled as glutenous. We see pretty model girls as high maintenance models who would rather put on lipstick than open a book.

However, recently my thoughts have turned to the labels we place on individuals whose marriages have failed. Divorce? Is it just another wire in disguise? While I believe there are many marriages that could and should be saved by adopting the "we" clause and forgetting the "I" that fosters selfishness, I am also learning of the pain of those abandoned by a spouse. You see there are so many in society that we label as "selfish" and "not good enough" or "strong enough" to save their marriage.

Yet there is another perspective. John Bytheway once said, marriage is like playing a duet on the piano, it takes two willing people dedicated to practicing the piece together. However, what do you do when your partner decides to exit during the second movement? It is impossible to continue the piece alone; and on the same note these individuals full of pain are stereotyped as paperclips.

I guess my plea today is to reexamine past judgments. As Terry our facilitator said, "Allow someone else to define who they are." Or as the Lord said to Samuel, "Look not on his countenance, or the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

Whether the person be divorced, rich, beautiful, poor, of a different culture or just plain weird, look upon their heart and discover the potential wire within.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

To the Class of 2009

In honor of the many freshman around the world who are starting the first year of college I offer some words of advice.

Sleep:
As I am entering into my seventh year of college, I have finally discovered nothing productive happens after 11 pm. While watching movies and eating chocolate all night with your roommates is fun, save it for the weekend. It will save your GPA and thousands of dollars in scholarship money.

Get involved:
While having a date with the library each night can lead to academic success, it can also become monotonous. Schedule some time to get involved with a club or organizational that you are passionate about. This will lead to successful networking, good friends and maybe even a perfect job.

Be Grateful:
Many people around the world would die for an opportunity like yours. Use it wisely.

Ask Questions:
No one can be saved in ignorance. Questions are the key to knowledge and your professors can be a spring full of knowledge. Be willing to show curiosity. Challenge ideas, argue with your text books and search for truth.

Remember who you are and be true to yourself:
Oftentimes we place on identity on our environment; in fact, most of the time we are tempted to mold ourselves to become more like those around us. While some change is good, like exchanging of recipes, the way you clean the bathroom or vacuum the floor, be aware of the change which threatens to steal your identity. If you are a the country girl who loves sheep and ponies be willing to admit it; it your a punk rocker and everyone loves country, play your music loudly (but respectly). The sooner you learn to be YOU the better college experience you will have.

Serve Others:
If there are 38 people on your floor, repeat the same phrase a wise man taught me my freshman year, "I am number 38." While your life might be stressful and your classes difficult, I guarantee there will be someone down the hall who is struggling more than you are. Be aware of those who may be extremely homesick, depressed or lonely. Be their friend and make them cookies.

Learn how to Pray:
I once heard that a college testing center is the most sacred building on all college campuses because of the amount of prayers offered within. While some are offered in desperation because of lack of study time, others are offered sincerely by those who understand the Author of all truth. There will be times in your college career that you feel like you just cannot do it; At these times I challenge you to petition Heavenly Father for his help. For he has commanded us all to "seek learning by study and also by faith." From experience I have come to learn that oftentimes the best student in not the one with a 4.0, rather a successful student in the one who learns how to access the Author of all truth for guidance, knowledge and wisdom.

My best of luck to all of you as you embark on this new phase of life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Raindrops Falling on my Head


Raining....
Originally uploaded by Pieter Musterd
Growing up in Utah, I thought rain was a rare occurrence. Generally if there was anything falling out of the sky it was "white stuff" Bambi described. Sadly, I spent more than 20 years of my life believing a good rain storm lasted 30 minutes.

To capture the experience of a Utahan discovering an actual rainstorm for the first time, I have created the following dialogue:

Non-Utahan: Looks like it might rain today, don't you think you should take your umbrella?
Utahan: Umbrella, what for? I've got my ball cap. I'll be okay

(rain begins)

Utahan: (wet) Man! It is really coming down out here!
Non-Utahan: Nah, this is just a good sprinkling.

(pouring begins)

Utahan: (soaked) Shouldn't the National Weather Service be issuing a exvacuation plan?
Non-Utahan: What?! Why?!
Utahan: The streets are flooding, doesn't that constitute a monsoon or something?
Non-Utahan: Flooding? Monsoon? Are you kidding me, that's just a big puddle.
Utahan: A puddle?! Its the size of Lake Powell; somebody could drown in there.

(30 minutes pass, pouring continues)

Utahan: (really soaked) Shouldn't the storm be over by now?
Non-Utahan: I don't think this one is leaving soon, the forecast said it would be here all day.
Utahan: All day?! What is this place, Noah's pre-ark practice field?

(Utahan becomes miserable, the rain drips from her face)

Non-Utahan: Are you sure you don't want to share my umbrella?
Utahan: I thought you'd never ask. Monsoons can be rough on the baseball cap.

(Non-Utahan smiles. Another Utahan has discovered REAL rain.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fire Under Your Chair


Chair on Fire
Originally uploaded by Keeton C
I met a banker the other week who exclaimed motivational conferences are great for "lighting fires under your rears that wear off in seven days." I laughed and nodded at the time but hardly recognized the deepness of his sentence until I attended the Agricultural Media Summit Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

During my stay at the conference I had the opportunity to listen to two motivational speakers during two different luncheons. One lady talked about her five biggest mistakes in her life and a man talked about how to differentiate yourself. I have to admit most of their material was good. They made me smile, laugh and think in 30 minutes; however, seven hours later (I didn't even make it a day) I am having a hard time remembering what they said.

However, during this conference I did have an epiphany: People matter, its that simple.

Still, people oftentimes do not feel like they matter. So for a short time at a conference a person is paid to tell another how WONDERFUL they are and how much they can CHANGE the world. For a few short minutes the person feels EMPOWERED and MOTIVATED; only to revert back to themselves seven days later.

So what is it that lights a true fire, one that is not found under our rear but rather in our hearts?

I believe a true spark is only ignited when we turn the fire away from ourselves and focus it on others. In a sense fire was never intended to serve itself. It was created to bring comfort and warmth on cold winter days. Each one of us often encounters a blizzard night full of trial, doubt or uncertainty. Yet, how many of us are willing to be the warm fire for someone else during their wintery night? Provide a shoulder to cry on? Tell a friend we love them no matter what they have done, are doing or will do? Loving unconditionally, having charity lights the real fire.

The Savior said it best in Mark, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it."

The solutions to life's problems are not found with the fire people try to light under your rear. Rather they are found with the fire people make in each others' hearts; "for charity never faileth" it warms through eternity.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wheaties For Breakfast

Its amazing that one box of cereal had so much success in its day; when I was kid, a bowl of wheaties for breakfast ensured athletic victory. However, as dazzling as the success seemed I always preferred the magical Lucky Charms or the Trix "that was just for kids."

Today, as an adult, I realize why Wheaties--a cereal higher in fiber--is a better choice for breakfast. What one eats in the morning, sets the tone and the mood for the day. For example, yesterday I woke up and ate Mini-Wheats with milk and a fresh peach. I arrived at work motivated to write profiles, study statistics and do anything else necessary.

This morning, was a completely different story. I overslept (first mistake), and then opted for crescent rolls for breakfast (I will not admit how many). Since the flakey-butter fattening bread did not completely fill the tank, I opted for some chocolate pudding. Although it was good at the time, the side effects have made me tired and lazy. Honestly, I feel like curling up like a kitten and sleeping the day away.

Its amazing how choice affects everything in life--even when it comes to breakfast.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Life Is Like a Pearl Necklace

The following story rings true in my life; I think it offers great wisdom.

The Pearl Necklace Story
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.

On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess--the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

"What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

What are you hanging on to?

--- Author Unknown

It has been my experience that the Lord often requires that we give up what we love the most, so that we can gain something we desire more. Too often we hang onto comfort, familiarity, and ease without giving thought to the tribulation, change and discomfort that bring us closer to Him above. He asks us to give Him our cheap pearl necklaces so that we can experience the real pearl necklace life: one full of true happiness and joy; however, such joy does not come without an abiding trust. Proverbs 3:4-5 says it all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Modern Day Miracles

A miracle is defined as “an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God” according to dictionary.com.

Miracles happen all around us; most we of them we note are the ones with high press time: a tornado that turned just before it hit a church, or a person who slammed their car into another and survived.

While these miracles are noteworthy of our attention, I love to pay attention to the small miracles that happen every day.

Recently, I traveled to Yukon, Oklahoma to attend the beautiful Oklahoma City Temple. I left work a little early so I could arrive on time; however in my haste to leave I forgot to secure the cap on my water bottle. Soon my backpack became the mini-version of Lake Erie. By the time I figured it out, the contents in my bag including my cell phone were drenched. Although I was frustrated by the whole deal, my mind was on getting to Yukon. So I grabbed my cell phone and got on the road.

Once again, however, my haste proved to be a trial. I didn’t print off the directions to the temple because I figured I could call my friend if I got lost; but when I opened up my cell phone it started speaking Numeric Greek:

8484 # 8329nf
5152 3513 19 08539 0215
58949735 895135


The screen went berserk. It jumped from contacts, to messaging, to my calendar, to the web—it was as if it had a search warrant for itself.

I tried my best to fix it. I pulled the battery out, held it up to the air conditioner in hopes to dry things out; I even slammed it against my steering wheel with the old farmer-fix-it trick. Still, I had no success—Strike One.

My biggest problem with my cell phone breaking is I had no way of contacting my friend in Oklahoma City; I didn’t even have her number, I had no idea where she lived, and I could hardly remember the way temple. I pulled off in Edmond, hoping to find a Verizon Wireless dealer, only to discover they do not exist in Central Oklahoma—Strike Two.

Then I got lost—Strike Three. I must have pulled off the Kilpatrick Turnpike three different times at the wrong exit; and by that time I was ready to Kill-Patrick (whoever he was).
I said a silent prayer in essence of, Heavenly Father I just want to get to Thy House.

Miraculously, the next exit I took was the right one. I pulled into the temple’s parking lot five minutes after my prayer and offered another of gratitude.

However, I still had a problem; I needed to contact my friend. I tried to use my phone again, but when I called her, my phone insisted on talking to her; it wouldn’t stop beeping, so we had no way of communicating. By this time, my screen was fogging up from the moisture captured inside.

Poor Kathleen was getting just as frustrated as I was; she tried calling me from three different phones. Luckily, I was able to find another phone and call her back and explain the situation. After we connected by phone, my second miracle happened.

As I was waiting for Kathleen to come and get me for dinner, I was trying to strategize how I would pay for a new phone. I believed in the blessing of paying my tithing, so I knew the Lord would provide. As I was contemplating, I looked down and the screen on my phone was clear. Curiously, I opened it up and I was able to navigate perfectly from contacts, to messaging to tools. My phone literally just snapped out of it.

Once more, I offered a prayer of gratitude. God had given me two miracles.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heading to California, But Ending Up in New York



What are you going to be when you grow up?




Good question,

A veternarian when I was little; that was until I saw my dog have puppies, and I lost my lunch.

A school teacher. I believe because of the good influences my teachers had in my life. Who wouldn't want to be the next Mrs. Beck, Mr. White, Ms. Hansen, Mrs. Brotherson and Mr. Black? Yet, somehow that didn't seem to pan out.

The world's next motivational speaker. Who doesn't want to change the world one speech at a time? I spent some time as a FFA State Officer and had the change to fulfill this dream to an extent, but it ended there.

A seminary instructor. I could teach hundreds of youth about the gospel--I opted to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Or, ALL OF THE ABOVE--Agricultural Communicator. A degree that encompasses communication, education and motivation with continuning diversity. That's what I want to be when I grow up.

On a given day as an agricultural communicator, I could be in the fields talking it up with a rancher or a veternarian and the next day headed to a professional development conference on Web development. I can teach fellow colleagues about the latest environmental policy or AP Style trend. Mostly I can motivate others to support local agriculture and rural development.


So you see, I always new I wanted to grow up to be something, and in a matter of fact my field of study lets me do everything; still, how I set out for California and ended up in New York, only the Heavens above know.

And yet, the sky is the limit and in Oklahoma the sky goes on for miles without end.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Other Woman Moved In...

My journey to Oklahoma has been adventurous. I have managed to switch jobs, universities, made new friends--the works.

Before I moved here, I was a little worried about getting new roommates. For its one thing to meet new people, its another to have to meet them and be their roommate the same day. What if you do not like the same type of cheese? Or what if she is a vegetarian and you like to bring home Oklahoma barbecue?

When I met Jordyn and Fred, I knew we were going to be instant buddies. Jordyn is a sweet-tempered, buffy-lovin girl. As soon as I saw her, I knew she was the perfect type of roommate for me. We both love spaghetti, McFlurry's and Reba.



About two weeks after Jordyn and I became roommates, she introduced me to our third roommate, Fred. He is a Westie whose slowly turning me into a medium dog-lover. He has a gentile temperament and he hardly barks, unless Jordyn and I start howling, then he has to join in the fun. He almost breaks my heart every day with his poutful stare when I put him back into his kennel; still he never complains.




Most experts say its takes a little as 30 seconds to make a good impression. Well, I believe such a statement is true. I fell in love with Jordyn and Fred the instant I saw them.

Today, however, I was introduced to the fourth roommate--Karli. In the first 30 seconds I met her, I knew she was a spaz--a running, jumping, panting kind of woman who does not even jump off the bull after an eight-second-ride spaz. I think I will have to hire her as my personal trainer. There is perks to all roommates, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Kindess Shall Not Depart From Thee






It is a truthful thought, what more can I say?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Confession of Geek Genes


Year Two, Day 12: Super Nerd!
Originally uploaded by Brymo

Okay, I admit it. I am full of geek genes. There is something about learning new knowledge that is invigorating. Still, I have always been the kind of person to hide my inner geekiness. Although I read frequently, I generally do it in my room with a closed door, and library trips are often just described as “I’m going to campus for a couple of hours.”


If one was to check my internet browse history he/she would find frequent visits to dictionary.com (but never when anyone is looking, of course), farm facts pages and current news sites.

Still, until recently I was able to keep my geek genes in check. Generally people associated me with the “people-pleaser” or the “entertainer;” but when I started a new job, I was asked to take a personality profile quiz called StrengthQuest. Any guesses on my top strength?

L-E-A-R-N-E-R


WHAT?! It is out in the open people. I love to learn, I am a proud geek. Call me Artemis. StrengthsQuest is absolutely correct when stated the following about me: “you get a thrill out of learning new facts, beginning a new subject, and mastering an important skill. Learning builds your confidence.”

It is true—learning does build my confidence. I love to figure out html coding for Web design, try out a new writing strategy in journalism or design a newsletter in Adobe InDesign. I even admit I am enjoying the challenge of my graduate statistics course. When I opened the book and saw the complicated formulas, I thought I would faint; however, as I have applied myself to learn the material I have found a new confidence. I can learn statistics and I love that.

Such statement is a testimony to my new found strength. A learner “enjoys the process of learning as much as you actually learn—perhaps even more.”

So people, it is not that I actually am a geek, I just love learning how to become a geek. Phew, my secret is safe.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oops!


oops
Originally uploaded by estherase
I have a reputation for experiencing big "Oops" moments within the first few weeks of a job. While these moments can be stressful at the time they happen, I am learning to sit back and laugh when they do.

My first BIG job (a.k.a. I felt responsible) was changing irrigation pipes for my dad on our sheep farm. As a sophomore in high school, I was ready to prove to my dad that I could be as good as my brothers. The first day, I had to transfer about 22 pipes from one field to another. My father gave me farmer instructions—never full of details—the night before, “take the line from Parnell’s and put it on the center riser of the grain.” So I did. I packed every sprinkler line individually to the center of the field. I thought it strange, but I wanted to follow my dad’s instructions. For those not familiar with irrigation pipes, the customary way to set up the line is to start from one far end of the field to the other. Needless to say, my dad was not very happy with me that evening and I had the opportunity to pack them again to the far side of the field.

Still, the first day was only the beginning of my adventures. On the second day, I decided to drive on a muddy, recently irrigated trail to check an end plug. To make sure I didn’t get stuck, I gunned the gas to get to the end of the field. Sadly, my plans did not extend past the end of the field. After checking the end plug, I went to turn the truck around and sunk into the mud. “Oh crud,” were my exact thought at the time. I tried to get out, but my attempts were useless. I buried the truck to the door, then called my dad. He had to pull out the John Deere Tractor and chains to get me out.

Two bad days, I could not afford one more. I wanted this job. The third day things went smoothly. I changed my lines and met my friend Rachel at her line. She reported to me that she couldn’t get her sprinklers to turn on. In my farm-girl pride, I thought “I’ll show her tough.” I turned the valve handled hard and suddenly water equal to Niagara Falls hit my face. Rachel forgot to clip the valve on the riser and as a result it was blown off by the water pressure. I was soaked. She was soaked. Dad was going to kill me.

I knew I had to face dad one more time. So soaked and covered in mud, Rachel and I got on the four-wheeler and drove to my dad’s office. I thought the secretary would wet herself when I asked for my dad. We were a sight, but dad was prepared. After I told him what happened, he pulled out his jeans, sprinkler boots and a wrench. When we arrived at the farm, dad waded in, and turned the riser off. With water dripping off his face, he looked at me and said, “Tamra are you sure you want this job?”

Since that day I had no problems on the farm with sprinkler pipes.
Today, it is a different story. I was trying to formulate a mass email to send to more than 200 companies. Jami, the office secretary, and I decided to send a test message; however, we hit the wrong button and sent an incomplete email to all of our company contacts—OOPS! Still, I am happy I have made my first mistake. I like feeling human.

What about you? What kind of oops moments have you had in the work place?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Cheese


Anyone familiar with the book Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson will understand my title. Basically the concept of book observes four different characters and their individual reactions to change. New cheese is a respresentation of change and new opportunities.

For me change stands for "Could Have Another Nice Gut-wrenching Experience." So it will not surprise anyone that my life has taken a huge change within the past month. I have moved from rocky mountains to wind-whistling plains; with the BIG move I have changed jobs, cultures, and universities.

With a new place most things in life tend to become transparent, like the cheese. Although core values remain constant within, external perceptions change with different environments. At the local IFA Country Store I was known as the upbeat, agriculture communication major with a stubborn connection with symmetry and color balance with shelf display. At church, I was known as "Tamra with a Camera" the person that took all the pictures; to others I was known as their best friend.

So point blank truthful thought: the hardest part of my "Could Have Another Nice Gut-wrenching Experience" is not the wonderful aspect of discovering more talents and enjoying awesome classes, its the journey through a new identity which comes with the discovery of new relationships.

Yes, Yes, I know you're all thinking, but you LOVE people and you are so good a meeting them; still, new relationships take time to build. I am enthusiastic about the small foundations I have built this week; I have great hopes they will yield a bountiful harvest of love and memories.

But for now, I just have to slowly color in the lines to make my new cheese bright.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Soulmate, This is for you...

"I won't worry my life away"

That's the perfect words to describe today. I was sitting in the Manti temple this morning thinking of the huge changes that about to hit my life in the next couple of weeks. I am going to move far away from my family, my horse, my friends, my beautiful mountains and my temple. Life is looking up.

Still, as I was trying to swallow this like a horse pill, I glanced at my siblings itunes playlist to find an 'ole favorite of mine, Remedy by Jason Mraz. My old roomate Jenny and I used to scream this song at the top of our lungs while driving down University Avenue in Provo, Utah.

It has some inspiring words for me in the my life right now:

1-I won't worry my life away
2-I will shine the light on my friends, when it all amounts to nothing; because I love them wherever they may be.
3-When I fall in Love, I take my time (hint, hint, 25 and still going strong)
4-Wherever I go, "I am still going to shine"

The fact is, there is nothing as constant as change in our lives, so we just have to learn how to bite the bullet, and sing at the top of our lungs, no matter how old we get.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Bleed Blue...Always.


My FFA Jacket
Originally uploaded by HHS Class of "83"
The famous saying at Brigham Young University was: "I bleed blue" at Utah State University its "Go Blue or Go Home"

I always feel pride when I'm dressed in the deep navy blue color. However, this color comes from a deep love for an organization I gained many years ago--The National FFA Organization.

The organizational mission is "to make a positvie difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education."

During my years as a FFA member, I developed skills in public speaking and leadership. I learned proper etiquette and how to be a strong member of a team. FFA taught me that I could dream, work and accomplish.

Sadly, today there are many critics of FFA and other vocational programs. Some claim vocational education is outdated and should leave our school systems. I disagree. For I believe classes like sewing, cooking, welding, animal science and others are needed more in our school. For they teach the principles of self-reliance and practicality.

Maybe its time to return to the simple things in life. Why not include practicality into our lives while we are quoting Hamlet, or figuring out Einstein's law of relativity? Or might we consider it ironic that our CEOs can crunch numbers but when they lose a button they have to buy a new shirt. Mostly, let us remember that such skills as quoting poetry or crunching numbers shall be nothing if we cannot feed or clothe ourselves by using pratical skills.

Has America come so far in the line of progression, that we have forget the simplicity that helps us prosper?

I know I have not forgotten the power of practicality I learned through vocational education. I shall always bleed blue, although it may have some Cougar and Aggie blue mixed in, my true blue will always be national blue, the color that represents the National FFA Organization. An organization that helped me develop premier leadership, personal growth and career sucess.

Friday, March 27, 2009

God vs. Man

BIG:
Man: 6'7"
God: Mt. Everest

RICH:
Man: 1 Trillion Dollars
God: Worlds without Number

SMART:
Man: PhD
God: Omniscient

BEAUTIFUL WOMEN:
Man: size 0, blond, curvy and sexy
God: Virtuous, Intelligent and Nurturing

LOVE:
Man: Gives a ring
God: Gave His Son

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Follow the Advice of the Song....

You know, there are far too many critics out there that depise country music. They claim the music is just good for losing your dog, truck and girlfriend. I disagree.

Most days, I gain strength from the inspirational messages found in some country songs. I can hum, Angels Among us by Alabama when I need a little reassurance. Another song, Some of God's Greastest Gifts Are Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks reminds me that a Creator is in control, and I should trust in Him to give me of the things I need, WHEN I need them, because He knows best.

However, lately, a song by Lady Antebellum has resonated with my soul, called I Run. This song describes the importance of relying on one another during difficult and stressful times. Although "this world keeps spinning faster, towards a new disaster" all I have to do is I run to you. Who is you? My family and friends. All I have to do is ask for help and then RUN.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Close to a hymn, eh?



Any guesses to where I will be going next Fall?



I woke up with this song in my head the other day, and figured, what the heck...Oklahoma, here I come.



Go Cowboys!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Break--Logan



And people wonder why I never get excited about Spring Break.

Need I say more? I woke up to this.




Sunday, March 8, 2009

Food Triggered Memories


As I thought about what to make for lunch today, I had an overwhelming craving come over me to eat macaroni and cheese. Maybe its the fact that my roommates are all traveling for spring break and I am home alone. It seems as if the fattening yellow noodles ooze with comfort and memories.

Eating macaroni and cheese was something I used to do all the time while visiting my favorite Grandma Day. After mixing the masterpiece, she would sprinkle my mac and cheese with pepper to give it a little more spunk--just like her. During lunch we would chat about her and Grandpa Day's love story; or any story from her lifetime.

Macaroni and Cheese has also been the fly on the wall during many long friendship conversations. Over a bowl of mac and cheese I spilled my guts about my secret crushes and frustrations. Other days I have laughed so hard until my macaroni and cheese wanted to take flight across the room like a NASA rocket ship.

Macaroni and Cheese taught me that quality (Kraft) is worth a good investment, over cheap (Western Family) and a horrible supper. It also taught me as a sophomore in college you do not leave your roommate unattended to make homemade macaroni and cheese--for the burning smell can take weeks to wear off.

It is no wonder, I have overwhelming cravings for mac a cheese--its just my stomach telling my heart that I miss the people in whom I used to share it with. So whether they be in Spring City, Texas, New York, Brazil, Wisconsin or Heaven, they need not to worry, for I have my mac and cheese to remind me of them.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Solution to Life's Problems--Get a Boyfriend

I think my friends and relatives have found the solution to all life's problems--Get a boyfriend. Amidst all my murmurings and complaints about life's trials, its amazing how much the subject of dating finds its way into our conversations.

Me: I'm frustrated because I cannot find a job.
Sister: Have you been on a date lately?

Me: What do you think about graduate school?
Friend: I think you will be married within the next year.

Me: I need to go for a horseback ride.
Friend: Have you thought about taking a hot boy with you?

Me: Can you give me a massage?
Sister: That's what boyfriends are for.


However, my truthful thought on Friday night is:
Me: What should I do tonight? Dude, I wish I had a boyfriend.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Uma Segunda Chance

Uma segunda chance, means a second chance.

I was recently touched by a quote President Thomas S. Monson made in a CES Fireside. He said, most things in life require a second effort. As I sat in bed tonight, I felt like I needed to give a second effort in answering two questions I received in a job interview today. So I decided to blog about them.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A bold question--one must first analyze, where was I 5 years ago? BYU. I was a frustrated sophomore trying to decide what I should major in, and what the purpose of my life was. I had no idea at that point I would soon be working in New Mexico, as a wrangler at Philmont Scout Ranch. Neither had it touched my mind that in a short year I would move to another country, learn a different language and completely change my diet from meat and potatoes to beans and rice--enough said.

So the question remains, where will I be in the next 5 years? It almost remains uncertain, but there are some principles that shall remain true--I guarantee that in 5 years I will still be firm in my faith, happy with my family relations and striving to make a difference in the lives of those around me. No matter how much time shall pass, be it 5 or 50 years, these parts of me shall remain true.

Second question that I have thought a lot about: What do you think about when you have nothing else to think about?

I loved this question, how appropriate, but I have to admit it caught me a little off guard. Yet, as I thought about it driving home I noted my thoughts. Generally when I have nothing else to think about, I start dreaming about how to make the world a better place. How can I help agriculture progress? How can I persuade the person in downtown Salt Lake to buy their vegetables at the local farmers market? How can I convince the people around me and ultimately my nation that debt never was a good idea? How can I be an influence for good?

Problems exist worldwide. Complaints exist worldwide. Yet, how often do we try to become part of that solution? I dream about solving problems. I try to make agriculture more sustainable, economical and appealing. I rally groups together, express opinion and write until my writer cramp becomes a permanent dent in my fingers. Truthfully, I love becoming part of the solution.

So fellow bloggers, I challenge you to think about these same questions and blog about them:
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What do you think about when you have nothing else to think about?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Uma Porta Abriu


Open Doors
Originally uploaded by *Fede*

Uma porta abriu, describes my feelings today--translated it means, a door opened.

Have you ever found yourself in life feeling like all the doors were being shut, and all the answers to your prayers are "wait" or "no." Honestly, I detest such life situations, but the truthful thought of those experiences is I grow immensely.

My life, like most, tends to follow the "wait" pattern. I can almost hear Heavenly Father declaring the favorite words of my brother, "Waaaiitt for it, waaait." When I think I cannot hold on for a second longer, my prayers become more intense and my soul begs for more strength.

Last night in such a moment the words of Ether 12:6 came to my head:

Wherefore dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

Such an enlightenment helped me to understand once again that life is all about patience testing. No matter how much I want something or how bad I want it, the doors of life do not open until I am fully prepared to enter in them.

Today, I glory in the fact a door has opened. I passed another test. I am interviewing for an agriculture field study position next week. During economic hard times, I have been offered the opportunity to interview for a job that offers full benefits. If I am allowed to step through the door I can stay close to family, horses and the agriculture I love. Most of all, I believe I can make a difference.

But if not...a better door shall open and greater patience shall be achieved. For my patience's sake, lets pray that I have found my door.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Opa!

"Opa" means whoops in portuguese. It's the best word to answer my sister-in-law's challenge to post my 6th photo, in my 6th folder. Well guess what, its her--as a mouse! Sister, thanks for the best laugh I have had all day!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Perdido

Perdido in Portugese has many meanings, but mostly it just means lost.

I pose the question to the bloggersphere, why is it we are so ungrateful for the things we have U-N-T-I-L we lose them?

As a graduating college student, I never realized the value of car insurance, health insurance, heck...any insurance... until I realized I am going to lose it. Did I ever once say thank you to the loving dad that has given it too me for so long? Thanks Dad...(I guess I finally said it).

What about health? I have spent the last four days on a couch wishing there was such think as a stomach trader. I have not eaten hardly anything but crackers and drunk anything but gatorade. I have moaned, groaned, twisted and braced against stomach pain...however, only then did I realize the value of health.

As we rise every morning do we even realize the great gift of health? To run and not be weary, to walk and not faint--what a blessing.

Thanks God.

Do yourself a favor, be grateful for what you have today, go hug something before you lose it.
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