Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Heed the Warning

A few weeks ago I got in my car and was driving to work. The temperature had dropped and had cause my tire pressure warning light to come one. I remember the first time this happened when I was living in Utah and was experiencing "real" winters. I was panicked because I didn't know what that light meant and was fairly certain my car was going to stop functioning entirely before I was able to get home and review the manual. Luckily I discovered that the cold weather caused some sort of change in the tire pressure, but that it would readjust itself with no worry. And that's exactly what I felt...no worry.

Fast forward to the present day. This light comes back on and because our temperatures have dropped and have been fluctuating regularly, it doesn't go off. As I was driving around town on Saturday running errands, I began to wonder if perhaps there is actually something wrong. Even when it warms up, the lights stays on...this "problem" isn't resolving itself as it had in the past.

I thought in my life how many times I'm given warning lights" about a situation and I naively think that "oh well, I've seen this before and it wasn't anything to worry about", when in reality, a warning light is still a warning light and should be heeded. If its determined there is nothing to worry about - great! However, it seems to me that it is better to realize those things sooner rather than later.

I haven't had this warning light checked yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All Messed Up and New Finds

I'm frustrated with myself today. I slipped up and found myself doing the very thing I'm trying to break the habit of. I had made it over a month and I screwed up! I h-a-t-e when I do that. I mean, why can I make it so long and then just one day do it and not really think about it until it's already "too late"? I feel so disappointed in myself. I have good intentions, I've looked at what I consider to be my "triggers", I make sure that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do (because I've found in other items in my life that I try to do (or not do), I succeed if I'm on track spiritually.

I'm currently on track to read the Standard Works cover to cover. In addition to reading from the Old Testament (where I'm currently at), I also try to read a chapter or two from the Book of Mormon. I LOVE the Book of Mormon. It truly brings me peace and seems to give me power to overcome things in my life (challenges, habits, feelings, whatever). Last night, I went through my nightly routine, but it had gotten late and I figured since I had said my prayers and I had read my 7 chapters from the Bible that I would just skip one night. And today I allow myself to get off track...seriously?? A months work down the drain. This tells me that I CANNOT skip reading from the Book of Mormon. I'm finding more and more that I need to be close to the Spirit to make right decisions and stick to them and that is one thing that does bring me close to the Father. I need to make sure I'm praying morning and night. I need to make sure that everything else on my "should" list is done, not because I should, but because I want to. I want these results.

So now I'm back at ground zero. 12 hours into my quest to break a habit forever...again. And seriously, I don't e-v-e-r want to have to feel this disappointment in myself (though I know there will be other areas for that to happen in). I want to be better and to stick to my guns. If I tell myself I will do something...I will. If I tell myself I won't do something, I won't - end of story. Got it, self?? (Yes, I talk to myself)

Now, on to a few new finds. I am a muncher. I love to munch on lots of different snacks. Fiber One recently came out with a new chocolaty cereal that only has 80 calories per serving. I don't count calories (which is probably something I should be more serious about - eh, maybe next time), but I do try to be mindful about what I put in my body. And when something that actually tastes good, is chocolaty AND crunchy and touts ONLY 80 calories, I'm all over it! Get some!! I'm just sad I found it 8 days before I start my "no chocolate" month. But oh the glorious reunion on March 1!!

Also, I've recently developed an affinity for Greek yogurt. I used to eat Yoplait, but they and I are having texture issues currently and it makes me gag. I got brave and tried Chobani brand Greek yogurt...yum! (it's the only one worth eating if you ask me - all others are, well, yuck!)  They have these great little four-packs called Chobani Bite. They are the perfect little snack and come in the two best flavors: raspberry with chocolate pieces and caramel with pineapple chunks. I'm addicted!! Also, I tried their banana yogurt. I was a little skeptical, but I stirred it up and spread it on my pancakes (as opposed to my typical peanut butter and syrup). DE-LIC-OUS! And if you need a little extra flavor, a smidgen of blueberry syrup on top of that is AMAZING! Just saying...
And my inner Italian (I'm 0 part Italian...just lived in Boston and claim their Italian) is completely in love with Biscotti! Thanks to a coworker I can't get enough of these little guys. I buy a box or two at a time and go perfect with my breakfast drink on the go in the morning. I used to hate the flavor of anise (black licorice), but I'm loving it now. :)
*I just ran spell check on Biscotti: it suggested either biscuit or Scottie - but not Biscotti. Silly Blogger.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An Anchor to the Souls of Men

I recently listened to this talk by President Howard W. Hunter on February 7, 1993. I wanted to share a few quotes that I loved.

1 – “So I am frank to say tonight that I hope you won't believe all the world's difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do—especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives.”
2 – “I want to say to all within the sound of my voice tonight that you have every reason in this world to be happy and to be optimistic and to be confident. Every generation since time began has had some things to overcome and some problems to work out. Furthermore, every individual person has a particular set of challenges that sometimes seem to be earmarked for us individually. We understood that in our premortal existence.”
“Prophets and apostles of the Church have faced some of those personal difficulties. I acknowledge that I have faced a few, and you will undoubtedly face some of your own now and later in your life. When these experiences humble us and refine us and teach us and bless us, they can be powerful instruments in the hands of God to make us better people, to make us more grateful and more loving, to make us more considerate of other people in their own times of difficulty.”
“Yes, we all have difficult moments individually and collectively, but even in the most severe of times, anciently or modern, those problems and prophecies were never intended to do anything but bless the righteous and help those who are less righteous move toward repentance. “

3 – “In light of such wonderful counsel, I think it is incumbent upon us to rejoice a little more and despair a little less, to give thanks for what we have and for the magnitude of God's blessings to us, and to talk a little less about what we may not have or what anxiety may accompany difficult times in this or any generation.”“As children of God and descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we must seek to dispel fear from among people. A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God's work at all. Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned mission.”
4 – “Are we prepared to surrender to God's commandments? Are we prepared to achieve victory over our appetites? Are we prepared to obey righteous law? If we can honestly answer yes to those questions, we can bid fear to depart from our lives. Surely the degree of fear in our hearts may well be measured by our preparation to live righteously—living that should characterize every Latter-day Saint in every age and time.”
5 – “That is a thrilling statement to me: that the ancients whom we love and read and quote so much—Adam and Abraham, Joshua and Joseph, Isaiah and Ezekiel and Ezra, Nephi and Alma, and Mormon and Moroni—all of these ancient prophets, priests, and kings focused their prophetic vision "with peculiar delight" on our day, on our time. It is this hour to which they have looked forward "with joyful anticipation," and "fired with heavenly and joyful anticipation they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day." They saw us as "the favored people" upon whom God would shower his full and complete latter-day glory, and I testify that is our destiny. What a privilege! What an honor! What a responsibility! And what joy! We have every reason in time and eternity to rejoice and give thanks for the quality of our lives and the promises we have been given.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Flip Side

I've been working on this post for days (well, years really). It's the flip side to the response of "where have all the good men gone?". I've written and rewritten it, but it's not coming out at all how I feel I want it to be. What keeps coming out are "man hating" statements, and that's not what I want, nor is it really how I feel. However, I do want to address the other side of this issue. I placed a lot of the responsibility on women in my response previously, but there is plenty that men are doing that create this idea that there are no more "good men" out there. Instead of the pages-long post that I was originally typing, I've decided to keep it short (relatively speaking) and to the point and let you know what we want. These points are in part based on my ideas, opinions and experiences, but they also include the ideas, opinions and experiences of many of my friends (all female). As with that other post, I'm sure this goes both ways (and women, step up to the plate, would you?? Give the guys a hand...), but we're women, and we want good men. So, gentlemen, please pay attention (note: some of these are geared toward men in, or who want to be in, relationships, but some are just good advice for all human beings).

1. Treat her how she deserves to be treated. She is not an object or a toy. She is a daughter of God. She is a princess. She's her daddy's little girl (as much as she may try to deny it). She deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. She desrves the best from you.
2. Make her your priority.We all have busy lives and a lot to keep track of, but if you want to keep her in yours, she has to come first. I don't know of a single woman who wants to be an afterthought. There may be things that together you have to be on the same page on to make this work, but don't hesitate to put her on top of your list.
3. Do the little things.A call in the middle of the day just to say hi. A note dropped in the mail (just like the olden days...haha). Perhaps a surprise visit to drop in and let her know you were thinking of her.
4. Don't underestimate the power of compliments.You may not be used to giving them, but give her a sincere compliment. Notice a haircut or a nice outfit. If she does something that makes you exceptionally happy, let her know. But don't forget, be sincere (also, practice makes perfect).
5. Make your affection consistent with your committment. If you're not prepared to marry her, don't kiss her like you are. If you're not sure about what you want from your relationship, or you just need time, don't go giving affection just because it feels good. Reference item #1...you'll both be happy you did.
6. Don't assume she knows you love her. Sorry, if we don't hear it from you and we don't see it reflected in your actions, we DO NOT think you love us. Reference all other items and tell her you love her.
7. Be willing to sacrifice for her. It could be your time, it could be money. It could be your favorite show or sporting event, but don't forget she is most important to you (and if she isn't, perhaps you shouldn't be dating her). In my series of "first dates" (because there weren't seconds or more) in Provo, I only had one guy actually come and pick me up, and with the exception of the same guy, I paid for myself. I'm not saying that you can't split costs or take turns (in fact I sort of prefer that - it make me feel like I'm not taking advantage of the guy), but seriously men, on the first date - ESPECIALLY IF YOU ASKED, plan ahead and pay for her. In one instance I paid $5 for myself. You may say, "it was only $5", but what I felt was "I'm not even worth $5".
8. Take interest in her. Everyone has different interests, and in your relationship you may enjoy few of the same things. It doesn't mean you can't take an interest. I had never watched football until last year. Thanks to the interest of the man I was dating, not only did I start watching football, I found that I even enjoyed it. I still may not know everything that is happening in the game, but I enjoy watching it now. Like me, you may find your own new interest in taking interest in the hobbies and activities of the person you are dating. Perhaps she plays music; listen to her practice or perform. Perhaps she is working on a project; be there when she presents it. Perhaps she is insterested in joining the circus...just kidding, but you get the idea. Remember, there are two people in your relationship - it's not all about you.
9. Expect and accept nothing less than the best. This one is self explanatory. You are a son of God! Really, you are!! And you too deserve the best, just like she does. Rise to your potential. Expand the horizons and be who you were meant to be. If you have found someone who helps you be this person and you can do the same for her...consider yourself blessed and do everything to make it work!
10. Let go of the past. Stop comparing her to the "exes" in your life. She will never be that person. You may have been hurt by someone, or by mulitple people, but it doesn't mean the woman you are with now is the same. Sure, we all have people we benchmark others by, but when it comes to the woman you are dating, she becomes that benchmark and all others fall by the wayside. And if the exes (either wives or girlfriends) have to be a part of your life due to circumstance, reference #6. Women are already hard on themselves and at times are insecure (I know you never knew that). Make sure she knows you love her, that she is  the best thing that could have happened to you, that you want her in your life. And if you don't feel that way, maybe you shouldn't be dating her.

This is just a good starting point, and again, I think it applies to both men and women. As I typed this list I've looked at a couple that I want to do better so that in the future when the opportunity presents itself again, I'm a better girlfriend and hopefully one day, wife. I'm sure I haven't made it easy on anyone, but with a little work, I can be better.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Breaking Habits

I’ve set myself on a mission to break a bad habit of mine. Since the details of what my habit is really isn’t important, and the principle of breaking a habit is relatively universal, I’m going to code name it “plucking my eyebrows”, which is something I actually should develop a consistent habit of, but I’ll deal with that another time.
So I never used to have an issue with not “plucking my eyebrows”. I knew other people did it, and some people could even say they were a bit addicted to it. But it was never something I was interested in. In all of my growing up years I had been told that I should never “pluck my eyebrows” and so I didn’t. I remember a time or two in my youth wondering why anyone would “pluck their eyebrows” and trying to analyze it, but never had been tempted to try myself.
After I moved to Georgia, I found myself feeling a bit tempted to “pluck my eyebrows”. In hindsight (which, as we all know, is 20/20), I see exactly where I “fell off the wagon” so to speak and when “plucking my eyebrows” became more than just a thought. I started “plucking my eyebrows” (wow, it sounds really bizarre, doesn’t it??), and ended up doing so for a while. I fell into a routine, almost, and “plucked my eyebrows” regularly. There were days that I felt like I couldn’t do anything else unless I “plucked my eyebrows”. I hated that feeling more than almost anything; that I wasn’t in charge of myself – I allowed myself to be driven by this “thing”. Luckily, I snapped out of this funk quickly. It lasted only about 2 or 3 weeks. Telling myself that I would no longer “pluck my eyebrows” was the easy thing. I was surprised how quickly I had become hooked on this, addicted (and it seems strong to say it that way, but I really feel like I was addicted to it). I found that I thought about it a lot more than I realized. And I found even more often that things would make me think about “plucking my eyebrows”. It seemed the harder I tried to leave this habit behind, the tighter it tried to cling to me. And things that were completely unrelated somehow seemed to now be directly linked to “plucking my eyebrows”.
It was a really hard thing to break! I learned what things were triggers for me. I found that just sitting and watching TV was a trigger, especially if it was not uplifting and clean. I found that for me, personally, Satan had great influence on me in the form of the media. I stopped watching, or more correctly, limited time spent watching, TV for other reasons and to reach other goals, but breaking the habit of “plucking my eyebrows” was directly impacted because of this. If I permitted myself to watch things that weren’t the cleanest shows, or in some cases that were openly in opposition to things I believed, I could feel my resolve to break this habit weaken. I used to be happy when I would make it a week or two without really thinking about “plucking my eyebrows”, but when I told myself that I just needed to make it one more week, that somehow translated in my brain to “I can ‘pluck my eyebrows’ in a week”. So I stopped setting those types of milestones.
For me, I had to say, “I will no longer ‘pluck my eyebrows’, now matter what”. Now as I make it a week or two (or over a month now!!) without “plucking my eyebrows” or really thinking about it or being reminded that I used to “pluck my eyebrows” regularly, I congratulate myself on what I have done, but I don’t look to what I have yet to do because this isn’t something that is going to stop. I will NEVER “pluck my eyebrows” again. I have a friend who is currently trying to quit smoking and she has shared similar thoughts on her struggle to break that habit. She has been smoking for several years. I have a friend who also has an issue with “plucking his eyebrows” (now it sounds a little funny) and hasn’t been able to stop despite a desire to do so – and he’s also been dealing with it for years. I only was in my “habit” for a matter of weeks and I found it (and continue to find it) to be extremely difficult. I can’t imagine trying to break a habit after YEARS!
February starts my month of no chocolate (so I guess I will find out what it’s like to try to break a years-long habit). I imagine I will struggle with breaking that habit. But I know from breaking myself from “plucking my eyebrows” that it isn’t easy, but that it is possible and entirely worth it.
If you have a habit, whether it’s something you shouldn’t be doing, or something you would just rather not be doing, start now. Make a determination that you will be in control of yourself and that you will not permit yourself to be controlled because of an addiction, a desire, a feeling, or anything else.  And if you need someone to cheer you on, call me! I’m happy to be in your corner!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I'm Supposed to Be Here

In December I treated myself to a trip to Boston. I was having a hard time here and needed some time away. It had been almost 3 years since I had left and I was ready to get back. Before I left I had several people nervous that I was trying to leave Georgia, that somehow this was a trip to scope out my next move. As I sat on the plane early that morning, I watched Boston come into view. The excitement was unreal! This was the place that I really became my own person. It was the place I launched my career. This was the place I started down my road to become the woman I wanted to be. I felt like I was coming home. All of a sudden my mind started wondering "maybe I could move back here". I spent that first day out to lunch with a dear friend and her adorable daughter. We had the best time! When I left her, I was heading to the family's house that I would be staying at (also the same family I'm going back to Boston for to watch their son). I sat on the beach that evening in my rental car just killing time. I had my journal in hand and was writing these thoughts and trying to make it work in my mind.
There aren't too many moments that come where I have a feeling or impression so strongly it seems to overpower me, but as I sat there that night considering bailing on my Georgia plan, I had the most overwhelming strong feeling that I am EXACTLY where I am supposed to be right now. It was absolutely incredible. So I finished my trip, loving every minute of it and soaking as much Boston into me as I could and then I came home.
Recently, I was contacted by a dear friend and former coworker about a work opportunity back in Utah. I wasn't looking to leave, but thinking about being back with my friends there, and with people my age, it was really tempting. I thought about it, weighed the options, and of course prayed about it and had the same feeling that I am EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.
I have said it before and I will say it again that I don't believe that Heavenly Father always has a certain place for us to be, or a certain job, major in school, or accomplishment to attain. In many instances, as long as you're on the right path, doing good with your life and following Him, He doesn't "care" (care as in no preference...He ALWAYS cares about you). But every once in a while He wants you to be somewhere specifically. At this time, for reasons so far above and beyond my understanding, He wants me in Waycross, Georgia. I've stopped looking for the exit route, the loop hole, or escape hatch. I've started making long term plans here. I'm settling in (finally) to my life the way it is, not the way I want it. I'm accepting the way things are and I'm working to fulfill whatever purposes He has for me. And until I figure that out (if I ever do), I will follow Him and do good continually.
He has a plan for you too! In almost every single one of Lori's letters home, she says that the Lord is in the details of our lives. A quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell says "The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well." Surely we're all where we're supposed to be. My thought is, if you're where you are but do not feel strongly whether you're "in the right place" (because He will ALWAYS tell you if you're not in the right place), likely you're there for another person. Right now, I think my biggest purpose is to learn from the examples of so many people in my life that, had I not moved here, I would never have gotten to known. And if I figure other things out along the way, GREAT!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keeping a Journal

We've been counselled to keep a journal, to write our thoughts, feelings and experiences. To be detailed and record promptings and results. I've not always been great at keeping a journal. During the times when I should have been keeping a journal and when things were really happening, I didn't (something about not wanting jinx fate...or just lazy, I don't recall). And when I didn't have much to share, I would ramble (oh wait, that's what the blog has turned into...oh well). Now I have three journals. The first is my personal journal. The one where I write all of my thoughts and feelings. The one I plan to burn so people don't have written proof/confession of my flaws and failures. The second is my "Study" journal. It started just as my book for taking notes in church and other like meetings, but now also contains all of my favorite quotes and copies of my favorite talks glued into the pages. The third is my writing journal. I'm hoping to write a book (did anyone else just cringe at the thought?) and its where I'm writing many thoughts and plans for that book. Oh, and then this lovely blog.
I absolutely HATE reading what I've written previously, especially when I was younger. If only I had know then what I know now...that's life for you. I stopped writing for a while just because of that reason, but I decided to get back to it strong in 2010/2011. Last week I was reading through one of my journals. It was July 2011. I was writing my plans to move to Georgia, trying then to determine the timeline of such a move, and the implications. I wrote questions to myself, pros and cons lists. I was so on top of it.
What is significant about this is that I claim that I started making the decision to move to Georgia in October/November. If it hadn't been for that journal, I would never have remembered that I was earnestly making preparations or trying to formulate a plan to make it happen. So when people ask me if I regret moving to Georgia for one reason or another, I have always said that regardless of any situation, I had already planned to move here. Now, I know for certain that it was in the works a full 3 months before.
It was awesome to read all of that. Every once in a while, even knowing fully that I prayed and pondered the decision to move here, and did so for several weeks (and as it turns out, months), I wonder if I made a faulty decision, or if I made it too quickly, or for the right reasons. I am so happy having written documentation for myself that I do know how to make good decisions, that I think things out thoroughly, that I was seeking divine help in making some very big decisions and was doing so in the right circumstances. So when I have hard days here, I know I really am where I'm supposed to be (stay tuned for a follow up to that).

Monday, January 14, 2013

What I Love

It's the second week of January and here in Georgia we're on on third day of temperatures in the upper 70's and even 80's! This is CRAZY! It doens't feel like we had any winter. I don't feel like I celebrated the holidays. Nothing feels like it's supposed to right now. I guess part of that is because Lori isn't here (or accessible by phone), nothing has really turned out the way I planned it (that should have been my first clue), and despite trying to make progress and move forward, I feel like I'm being pulled backward. What gives?? I feel like I'm fighting this cloud of depression that seriously wants to overshadow every positive thing in my life. I'm not that person. I am a cheerful, positive individual and I HATE feeling like this. I almost feel as if I'm broken, and no matter how hard I try, I can't put myself back together. It's almost like every time I get close to picking up the pieces, something comes along and breaks it into even smaller pieces.

This is the side of me I hate for people to know about. I try very hard to cover this side of me, to make people think that everything is okay, despite feeling this inner turmoil. I feel it stronger than ever now, almost in direct correlation to how hard I'm trying to get and keep my life on track. Maybe that's the key. The adversary is waging a personal war against me, and all of us for that matter, attempting to take my joy, my peace, my desire to continue fighting and moving forward. But I won't let him win. Yes, I may struggle today, and it may be harder tomorrow, but it will get better.

Okay, a few things that I love that are helping me overcome these feelings:

Lori's letters
The Sunbeam class I get to sub for on Sundays
All of the Primary kids that I get to spend time with on Sundays.
Getting to spend time with one of my favorite little girls. (Are you sensing a theme?)
Teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ through music
Singing in the Stake Choir
Listening to the CES Firedside last night by President Uchtdorf (Truth is truth regardless of who believes it!)
Making new friends (it's about time)
Planning parties
Reading old journals (a post about that coming soon)
Reading President Monson's biography
(Seriously do I have time to feel depressed?)
Picking up old projects
Talking to dear friends on the phone
Working out on a daily basis
Reading the scriptures and praying daily, consistently (not hit and miss)
Playing games with my mom
Watching my dad play with his goats (they're ridiculous, but so cute)
Seeing our new baby chicks (they're SOOO tiny)
Planning my next trip to Boston in May to spend time with another of my favorite kids - a bright and wonderful redheaded little boy (we get to play together for a whole week!!)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Real Life and Responses

Sometimes being an adult is not all its cracked up to be, wouldn't you agree? Yesterday I found that the vacation to Utah I've been planning for several months had to be cancelled because I'm a responsible adult and meetings/visitors at work that have to be tended to on the day I was supposed to leave. And believe it or not, it was cheaper to cancel the entire trip than to postpone it. Go figure. So, I will still take this trip, I just have no idea when! I bounce back and forth between being bitter and...scratch that. I bounce back and forth between being REALLY bitter and only SORT OF bitter. Though if I'm being completely honest, it's a strange relief not to worry about trying to pack in the midst of the big things happening at work. I probably wouldn't have been able to enjoy myself anyway. And, has anyone out west noticed that it is WINTER?? So not like the 80 degree, sunny day we had here in sunny Georgia (sorry, couldn't resist). With my luck I'd get stuck with a ton of weather delays, so maybe this isn't all bad. I should count my blessings. I guess real life isn't so bad (look, I just changed my entire attitude in a matter of a few sentences)!

In other thought, one of my guy friends posted tonight that he was tired of girls posting man hating statuses on Facebook and things about chivalry being dead and how all the good guys are gone. I have mixed feelings on this. I agree with him...girls shouldn't feel that way toward guys. I mean, I wouldn't want to read the same type of sentiment from guys about girls. So, what I'm about to say really goes both ways, but since I'm a girl trying to become the type of woman that a man would want to be in a relationship with, that's how I'm gearing it (guys, just flip it around).

I will confess that  I am at the front of the line to generalize and share the sentiments of these girls (though to my credit (hopefully) I've never posted such thoughts on Facebook). I have had so many GREAT men in my life, as close friends and examples, that help me see that this isn't always the case. It is frustrating as a woman trying to maintain high standards and a positive attitude in the sea of singlehood to find on a regular basis, guys who are consistently belittling women, treating them as objects, or using them for their own purposes with no sign of commitment (again, this goes both ways...just a reminder). And on the chance you do find someone who at the beginning seems to be the type of guy you've always dreamed of, you find after all is said and done that he is "just like all the others" (not exactly my experience...that of a friend, and I'm sure many others...on both sides). And what we're left with are hurt women turned into "man haters".

Why do we allow ourselves to be "man haters" instead of working to promote the type of behavior, responses, standards, etc. we are searching for? Why do we blame men when in a great number of instances women are the causes of the very things we despise in men? How can we expect to have men respect women when women don't respect themselves?

Where have all the good men gone? They've gone with the women who have either 1 - made their expectations clear and their men have risen to the occasion and are now in happy, healthy relationships or 2 - they've lowered their standards and they've gone with the women who have made it easy and disposed of all expectation. Perhaps there's a third option...the group that is just scared. I'll own it...I fall into this group. And please don't tell me not to be. Have you met some of these people? I work with some good men as far as people go, but if they were the dating selection, I would NEVER date again and I would consider myself lucky. On the other hand, I've met some of the most wonderful men I've EVER known and I've been scared and not done a darn thing about it (but that's a concern for another time).

The point I'm trying to make is that we should be less concerned with "where have they gone?" and focus more on the "where am I?". Each of us wields more power than we realize. It sure is easy to say we'll let another person (or group of people) dictate for us so we can use the cop out of "they made me" or "everyone else was doing it". Take some accountability for yourself. Women, if you want a man with high standards, have high standards first and make sure he knows that. If he won't meet you, or at least make some sort of attempt, he's not worth it. Set the standard, be consistent. And again, guys - if you want a girl with high standards, you have to have them too! I had a thought the other day that seems fitting now. It went something like this (I'm still working on the exact wording) "Don't expect to find the kind of girl you want if you can't be the kind of man she needs". It's unfair of anyone to expect someone AMAZING if you are content with the norm.

So take a careful look at yourself (myself included). Sure, you may not be dating the man of your dreams. You may not even be dating the man of someone else's dreams. And if you live in a place like I do where you can count the good type of single man you're looking for on one hand, you may look around wonder where the good men are. But they are out there! I truly have been privileged over my lifetime to have lived all over this country and have met not only good men, but GREAT men! And I'm willing to bet they didn't all start out that way. So that's another thought. We're all still working out our flaws and we're not yet who we're going to be. Cut the other person some slack (and if you're too hard on yourself, cut yourself some slack). And if possible, let's stop cutting the other gender down. It's a time to build and grow...so get off the computer and go do something about it!! :) :) :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

True Friends and Doing Right

I've been struggling with this feeling of loneliness. I love this wonderful place, but there aren't many people my age to do things with, and even fewer of them are single. Don't get me wrong, I love having married friends, and I love that they have children I can play with, but sometimes it's nice to be able to connect with people in similar situations. And, despite how much I love this place, I do miss that... A LOT! I've found that I took for granted having good friends, I mean REALLY GOOD friends. The kind of friends that you can do ridiculous things with and they don't judge you...they do it too. The kind of friends that you can pour your heart and soul out to and they listen and know just what to say (and sometimes what needs to be said). The kind of friends who support my goals and decisions and join me or uplift me instead of trying to make me change who I am and who I want to be in order to be with them. Over the last several months I've developed friendships with people but in a few instances (in both my personal and professional life) I've had to distance myself from people I hold dear because they weren't building me (and there's a good chance I wasn't doing that for them either). It doesn't mean we're not still friends or that I don't care about them and vice versa, but true friends will not pressure you to do that which is against your beliefs and standards, or criticize you for your standards and/or beliefs.
I've been in situations where I was able to withstand that type of pressure, and I've also had times where I've given in (lesson learned) and had to make some changes in my life. Regardless of the people or situations I've found myself in, I've been criticized. But what makes it worth it is when I know that I'm doing right in the eyes of Heavenly Father. I feel I need to make this clear - it's not about being right versus someone's else's "wrong", or being better than someone else. It's about being right with Him and being better today than I was yesterday.
I regret the times where I didn't stand as I should have, where I caved in to the wills and ideas of others, but I've learned much from those times. This quote by Eleanor Roosevelt (courtesy of Pinterest...where else?) has encouraged me to stay on the path. And she's right. I'd rather be critcized for being on the Lord's side and doing what I feel to be right than to be criticized for doing wrong.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Preparing for Your Spiritual Destiny

I recently inherited an iPhone and I'm SOOO in love with it, but probably not for all the reasons you may think. Sure, I can now check my emails, play games, even get directions wherever I am, but none of those are the reasons I LOVE it. I love it because I can listen to the scriptures and any general conference talk or BYU address ever given, basically. I am learning so much thanks to this amazing gift of technology!

Today I listened to a talk given by Elder Neil L. Andersen on January 10, 2010 (three years ago TODAY - pure coincidence or divine inspiration??) entitled Preparing for Your Spiritual Destiny. I just had to share a few quotes from Elder Andersen.

1. "Take comfort in knowing that you are joined by thousands and hundred of thousands in the challenges you face and in the important purposes you feel"

2. "Our premortal life was not a passive existence. We had choices to make there as we do here. We had progressed and were in need of a physical body and the experiences of mortality. We needed to prove our willingness to live by faith. Our Heavenly Father presented a plan to us. Central to that plan was the role of His Only Begotten Son to provide a way back for us. We accepted the Father's plan and rejoice in the chosen Savior. Our foreordained opportunities and responsibilities help shape what we are to do in mortality. In ways not fully understood, "our actions in the spirit would influence us in mortality."

3. "Have you ever wondered: Why is it that I am who I am? Why is it I feel the way I feel? Why have I chosen to believe so fully in the Lord Jesus Christ? Why do I choose to keep His commandments when others do not care about them? Why do I feel the way I do about the Book of Mormon?" ..."You were chosen and foreordained to have the gospel in your life and to be a leader in the cause of the restored gospel."

4. "Spiritual preparation will uncover your own inner resources. There is power in prayer. There is strength in the scriptures."

5. "And personal righteousness is essential to having the gift of the Holy Ghost. We will not be guided by the Holy Ghost if we are casual about our obedience."

And finally:

6. "Your spiritual destiny will have obstacles, delays, and equipment malfunctions. There will be mistakes. You may wonder if you are going to make it. Don't be discouraged! You will also have moments of hope and faith as doors open and obstacles are overcome. Continue, persist, above all, believe in Christ and learn to follow Him and His prophets; endure, as Nephi said, with a "brightness of hope" (2 Nephi 31:20). As you do, I promise you, one day you will hear your name. You will make it."

To read the full address, click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Buddha says...

Okay, one more piece of motivation. This one almost causes a bit of fear (but the good kind of motivating fear)...it's time to get to work folks (myself included).

How It's Going

I just wanted to post a couple of pictures of how I'm tracking my 2013 goals/bucket list. I give you "The Goal Wall":

I used PowerPoint to create a presentation to track my miles, a slide of "Go-get-'em quotes, and then a slide for each month. On the monthly slides, I have included a motivational quote of the month, then I have outlined where I should be each month to accomplish my reading of the standard works this year, I have a space listed for how many miles I walk monthly (just another way to track it), and then one item either from my bucket that can be completed within the month or a project or other activity I want to do. I have never felt like I've had more of a purpose in my life than I do at this time.

I am gaining such a testimony of not being idle in life. It sure is easy to sit on the couch and watch tv, or to just sit and do nothing. I'm not opposed to watching tv, in fact I enjoy it a great deal when I find something good on, or when I'm working out, or while I'm cooking in the kitchen (you get the idea), but I'm really trying (and succeeding pretty well, I might add) to limit the amount of time I ever "just sit", tv or not. I have 24 hours every day, just like everyone else. These goals I've set for myself take quite a bit of time and a lot of committment. So, I've had to take control of my time and discipline myself better. I get up between 5:45 and 6:00 AM  (yes, A.M.) just to walk because I don't want to put it off until the end of the day...I know myself and my good intentions. :) In order to stay on track with my reading, I need to read about 7 pages per day. I try to read on my lunch break or at other times when I have a few minutes to spare. Whatever I haven't finished during the day, I read when I get to bed (turns out I L-O-V-E reading in bed. *SIDENOTE: I'm currently reading President Thomas S. Monson's biography "To the Rescue". AMAZING!! He is so amazing!! I highly recommend it...HIGHLY).

I'm reminded of a talk I've listened to a lot by John Bytheway entitled "Turn Off the TV and Get a Life". He talks about trading least productive time for most productive time. He tells of his experience of writing a book and trading his least productive time (10 pm - 12 am) for most productive time (6 am - 8 am...I think). I've sort of taken that approach, or more correctly, my goals have forced me into that. If I'm going to get up and exercise in the morning, I have to go to bed early. I'm not one of those people who can function on little sleep - I need all 8 hours (or at least 7 and then a good long nap over the weekend).

Not only is this plan strengthening my testimony of the need to be active in all aspects of life, it is helping me discover some talents I've not realized I had before, or that I've not spent much time developing. Additionally, since I'm focused on "becoming" and trying to put my life in line with the will of Heavenly Father, I'm more inclined not to damage my body or spirit. I'm more aware of what I'm putting in (physically, spiritually, etc.) and the effects it has on me. Without intending to, I've become closer to the spirit and feel/notice its promptings in my life so much more. And the amazing thing is that I've only been at this with this intensity for a WEEK!

I'm an advocate now for going and doing. Nephi had it right all along (to which I say, "Duh"). Stop wishing, or I might say stop dreaming, and start DOING! Have big dreams for yourself (that's how I got here), but don't put them on the shelf, don't limit yourself to "someday" - get to work and accomplish something with your life! (Do you feel motivated yet??) Start small and work up if you need. Just do something!! :) :) :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 - A New Year, A New Me!

Well, I'm back and I'm SOOO excited! Since I went on my technological sabbatical (specifically from my blog, Facebook, and Pinterest), I have stepped back into a simpler time. I have delved into my writing with a pen and paper, and I've really gotten into it (don't worry, I'll be sharing all of that and the things I've learned over the next couple of months. I have a lot to catch up on, but I'll get to all of that another time.). If I wanted to check up on someone, I'd call or text them - no Facebook stalking. If I needed a recipe, craft idea, or quote, I resorted to one of the million recipes, books or notes I already had (with the exception of just a few things).
For 6 weeks I focused on people instead of things. I spent more time building relationships with my parents. I spent time serving people. I spent time working on my writing, music, and other talents. I found a new appreciation for so many of the things I have in my life (less time focusing on what I don't have). I spent time planning my life out - my goals, my ideas, my plans.
I decided to take a new approach to my resolutions - I started some of them in December. I figured if it was going to take a few weeks to establish some new habits, I had better get started early. So that is exactly what I did. I still have some work to do (still human), but I've spent some time creating my plan for success. This is the year that I tackle my bucket list No more some day. No more "when the time is right". No more waiting for things to "fall into place". This is the year I do instead of dream.

2013 is the year I'm walking 500 miles!
2013 is the year I'm reading the standard works cover to cover!
2013 is the year I'm growing my hair long to donate it (though I'm thinking it may roll over into 2014 - I need 10 inches!)
2013 is the year I'm going to visit Pike Place Market in Washington State (the end of THIS MONTH!!)
2013 is the year I'm going to go a month without chocolate (it's probably going to be February - it's the shortest month and I'm going to need all the help I can get!!)

I plan on doing some other things, and I'll list them out later, but I can tell you right now that this is going to be a GREAT year!!

Here's to a year of becoming!