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.

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

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.