Sunday, November 3, 2013

One time, I asked my best friend what she has learned on her mission.

And this is what she said:

"I have learned that the life I have lived is super blessed. There are so many people who would do anything to go to the US and I was lucky enough to be born there and enjoy the freedoms that I did and will again when I return.

I have learned that a smile is more powerful than an atomic bomb, even if you only have two teeth!

I have learned that the eyes are the windows to the soul and where your spirit talks.

I have learned that wrinkles and sun spots are gorgeous.

I have learned the a hug can cure anything. 

I have learned that the spirit speaks every language.

I have learned who my heavenly father is and what his love feels like.

I have learned that every question has an answer.

I have learned that I am nothing and the gospel is everything.

I have learned to be an instrument and not the music.

I have learned to never stop learning. I have so much more to learn but the thing most of all that I have learned, it to love the people and the Savior. If I can do that and nothing else, then everything else will fall into place because my desires will be for them and not for myself. I have learned to forget myself and got to work."

I'm so grateful for the incredible example of gratitude, humility, hard work, service, and unconditional love this woman has been to me. Her words are a constant reminder to me to see the beauty and blessings in everything and everyone around me. Can't wait to snuggle her again. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Longie but Goodie

Here's what's new.

Caroline and I moved into our new home, and we love it. We love the apartment, we love the atmosphere and the ward, we love our roommates and we love each other.

Baking skills beyond compare.
There was a mighty rainstorm in Provo which resulted in all manner of flooding and destruction. People were running around and splashing and swimming and canoeing and playing in it. Some loser even showered in it. What a freak.

Noah was gonna get his ark, but I was like, it's OK Noah. I think we can handle this.

 School started. It's going to be an intellectually challenging semester for me. I am coming to the painful realization that I have been relying entirely too heavily on my natural ability and instinct for writing and grammar, and not actually learning the parts of speech and why they go where they go. But I'm excited for the challenge and I'm excited to learn.

Britney and I started a new exercise regimen (regimen is easily confused with regime, a mode or system of rule or government, and regiment, a unit of ground forces, consisting of two or more battalions or battle groups, a headquarters unit, and certain supporting units. I admit to making this mistake) and have been working out like fiends.

This is one of the strongest people I'll ever know. Just sayin.
We have also committed ourselves to eating more healthily (healthfully?). And while we're here on this subject, I want to talk about healthy habits for a second.

I've been thinking a lot lately about taking care of my body and I recently formatted an essay for my print publishing class that had me reevaluating my motives for eating/not eating certain things and working out.

Side note, I also whipped up this Simpsons character in my print publishing class using Adobe something-or-other. Please, hold your applause.
The essay was about objectifying women. It discusses the effects of the sexualization and objectification of women, which is a topic I feel like I've seen floating around a lot these days, but I found this essay particularly interesting because it talks about the effect on women individually. I'm going to spare you the full 12 pages of the original and condense it into the quotes that stuck out the most to me. Hopefully it flows OK. I don't know who wrote the original piece or who I can credit it to, but I feel I should clarify that the ideas from the essay are in blue and these ideas are not my own. Don't worry, mine are coming later.

Most of the studies discussed in the essay were based on the Objectification theory, a model for self-objectification developed by Barbra Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts.
Objectification is defined as when a woman's body is seen separately from their person and women are viewed merely as bodies. The basis for the theory is the hypothesis that women model the way in which others objectify them, particularly men. 
"One of the most consistent observations is that men place greater emphasis on the physical attractiveness of a woman when evaluating her desirability, than women do when evaluating the desirability of men."
Thus, "Women more than men are viewed and treated as sexual objects," and women have more to gain by being preoccupied about their appearance. 
"Evolutionary theorists contend that women's physical attractiveness indirectly signals reproductive value, and so evaluating women's physical attributes has become an important criterion in men's mate selection. Others argue that the cultural practice of objectifying female bodies originated to create, maintain, and express patriarchy."

"Girls and women learn, both directly and vicariously, that their looks matter: Other people's evaluations of their physical appearance can determine how girls and women are treated in day-to-day interactions"
That's natural, it's life. It is what it is. The real problem, according to the essay, is not that women are objectified by others. The problem is that women begin to objectify themselves.

"Objectification theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to
internalize an observer's perspective as a primary view of their physical selves."

Objectification is impossible not to notice or be affected by. It is not limited to pornography. It is in advertisements, movies, and all kinds of visual media. But it's not limited to visual media either. It manifests itself in the way women are talked about, in books, movies, articles, and everyday conversation. "Every woman is in some way affected by men's objectification and almost all self-objectify to some degree.  But if this becomes a pattern by which all self-confidence and success is measured, or simply a preoccupation that makes other healthy behaviors get pushed aside it deters normal and healthy development."
The essay cited several studies finding that "self-objectification consumes mental resources."
It distracts from other things that should be going on in the mind and takes away time from other activities. It becomes a complete obsession.
"Self objectification leads to a form of self-consciousness characterized by vigilant monitoring of the body's outward appearance."
Most of these risk factors have a basis in body-based shame. This shame is more potent than guilt or dissatisfaction.

"Shame generates an intense desire to hide, escape the painful gaze of others, or disappear, along with feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness."

This shame is believed to lead to more outward problems as it leads to a desire to change the body until it is not the object of shame for the individual anymore.

Here is where eating disorders and plastic surgery come in. There have been countless articles and books and documentaries about this, because it's so dangerous. But sometimes even a seemingly healthy diet can be emotionally damaging if motivated by self-objectification and appearance obsession, because a person can experience this shame and respond to it obsessively, even if not by starving themselves or demonstrating other physically risky behavior.
"The extent to which body 'correction' is motivated by shame elevates the task of meeting societal standards of beauty to a moral obligation. Thus, women who fail to live up to this obligation have been deemed uncivilized and immoral."
That was kind of the gist of it. I always like these kinds of studies because they help me understand myself a little better. It is so true. How sad is it that women can be so easily convinced that our appearance determines our worth? And that those feelings of worthlessness can be literally debilitating. How awful is it that a woman can be treating her body just right, and still hate it because it doesn't match the bodies portrayed in magazines as attractive?

This essay got the wheels churning for me, because I'm at a point in my life where I care very much about attracting the opposite sex. And reading it made me ask myself, am I making food and exercise choices as a favor to my body, or as a punishment? Am I working out to make my body strong, or because I'm not yet as sexy as I would like to be? Am I basing my self-worth on what I look like? Am I mad at myself or ashamed of myself because I don't look the way I want to look? Am I spending so much brain power on worrying about my appearance that I am not dedicating my efforts or focus to things that actually matter (i.e. my job, my education, looking for opportunities to serve the people around me)?
And I am sad to admit that I didn't like my answer to most of those questions. And it's a shame.

So I know it's not my place or anything, because I'll be the first to admit that I suck at this myself, but I'd like to ask you a favor.

If you're a guy, please let as many girls as possible know that they are beautiful. Each in her own way, even when she is not photoshopped or instagrammed to the point that she barely looks like herself anymore, even if she does not have giant boobs and a giant butt and a tiny everything else, like all the TV and magazines and ads tell us we're supposed to. Girls need to be told they're worth loving without trying to manipulate themselves into looking completely different than they really do. Seriously. Don't be shy. Tell us. All the time. We are always internalizing other people's perspectives, and the constant bombarding of messages that we are not good enough the way we are is magnified a thousand times in our own mind. So give us something positive and uplifting. Please.

If you're a girl, please love your body. Because it's a gift from God.
A thought came to me a few days ago. If anyone gave me a present for my birthday or Christmas, I would never, ever, ever sneer at it in disgust and talk about how ugly and terrible it is, or how I would be happier if I had received something else. Not just because it's a magnificent gift that I will cherish, but out of respect to the person who gave it to me. Your body is one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given you. It allows you this incredible mortal experience. It lets you run and jump and cheer and see and smell and taste and feel. It lets you learn and create. Create art, or inventions, or LIFE. What a precious gift. So try to take good care of it. Don't starve it, don't shovel all the junk you can fit into it. Don't overwork it, and don't neglect it. Don't spend so much time decorating it that you forget to USE it for all the things your Father in Heaven intended you to use it for.

OK, I'm off my soapbox. Thanks for staying with me. That's all.

be happy :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This has a point, I promise.

See this little guy?
This is a groundhog. He (or she. who can really say?) burrowed his (or her!) way 30 or so ft into the ground to make a home for itself.
A groundhog can make a new burrow overnight. Did you know that?
I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with this. Let me back up a little to last week.

Last week, I went to Salt Lake with my best friends for a bachelorette party.
We did all the things that are done at good bachelorette parties. We went swimming. We played get-to-know-Hailey's-fiancé games. We got pedicures. We stayed up late making immature jokes and laughing too loud. We tried foreign food. We drove all over salt lake in search of a pole dancing class, couldn't find it, gave up and got McFlurries instead. This is the stuff that memories are made of.

Hailey had to chew a piece of Hubba Bubba for every trivia question about Allan she answered wrong.
Let's just say it's impressive how much that girl can fit in her mouth.

We came home, and the dust from our fun weekend settled. Caroline went back to California to get all the stuff she'll need for the upcoming fall semester, and Taylor went back to Landon to do whatever married people do. That left Hailey, Megan and me.

Now is a good time to mention that Hailey is graduating. She has just completed her last term of college. She is going back to Yuma to get married and never see me again. Naturally, this displeases me.

As a direct result of Hailey's imminent betrayal departure, Hailey, Megan and I felt the need to bond as much as possible before she leaves. The meteor shower Monday night was the perfect opportunity. In fact, I am convinced that God planned that meteor shower precisely so that we could enjoy one last best friend memory together before everything changes for good.

We left the house at 2 A.M. with mounds of blankets, pillows and snacks and drove to Rock Canyon park, hiked up and over the hill, and snuggled up under the stars. I wish I could have captured that moment. The sky was so clear and the stars were so twinkly and the moon was bright enough to light the mountains. Everything was quiet except for the rhythmic hum of crickets chirping and the temperature was just cold enough that we were able to put our blankets to use. There was a certain thrill to seeing a flaming meteor soaring briefly through the sky, and it was the cutest thing when Megan saw a shooting star for the first time in her life. Between glimpses of meteors, the three of us just stared silently up into the beautiful sky, alone with our thoughts but together with the understanding that this was one of those magical moments that made all of the hard parts of our friendship worth it, and that it would be one of the last we would have together before life separates us and turns us into different people.

As I laid there, it all hit me. I've lived with these girls for three years now. They've been with me through everything. They've made me laugh so many times, I can't even count that high. They've hugged me after breakups and been way too kind to me when I had cramps and was acting like a monster. They've forgiven me when I've been condescending, thoughtless, and/or embarrassing. They've supported me in reaching my goals, they've shared their dreams with me, and they've been such an example to me day after day. And now, it's over. And at that moment, all I could do was look up at the sky and thank my Heavenly Father for giving these people to me, for giving this life to me, for letting me have these beautiful moments, even though they can't last forever.

This is where the groundhogs come in.
(Timeout. Did you know groundhogs are 1-2 1/2 feet long? I always thought they were tiny little things, like prairie dogs, but no, they're like the size of a cat, or bigger.)
(Yeah. Yes. OK. I researched groundhogs for the sole purpose of perpetuating this analogy. But if knowledge is the only thing you take with you to the afterlife, then allow me to give you the eternal gift of groundhog facts. You are welcome.)
As I was having these thoughts, I couldn't help but think of my friends as little groundhogs, who came into my life freshman year and burrowed their way into my heart, pretty much overnight. I know that the future will bring so many other incredible people into my life, and they'll make their own little tunnels in my heart too. They will bring me happiness that is just as great, but it will be a different kind of happiness. I will never feel this way about anyone ever again, and I will miss it so much, but I am inexpressibly grateful to know what it feels like to have friends that God hand-picked for you to give you comfort, teach you, and help you grow.

I will forever love my little groundhogs!


Monday, August 5, 2013

(Not So) Health Nut

As a college student, sometimes I get sick of eating frozen foods and Wendy's and rewarding myself with Café Rio multiple times per week. (Ok.. I never get sick of Café Rio.) (What?! It's hard to get through the week, alright! I need pick-me-ups! DON'T JUDGE ME!)

So then I'll get on a health kick, and I get a liiiittle overzealous with my fruits and veggies at the grocery store.
I'm like, of COURSE I can eat two pounds of cherries, an entire watermelon, a whole package of cuties, 2 boxes of strawberries, 3 cucumbers, 2 heads of lettuce, a whole bag of celery (I don't even LIKE celery!), 10 apples and 5 tomatoes in a single week.
And honestly, I probably COULD if I were using that to replace all the junk I usually eat.

But does that happen?
Not exactly...
I can't give up my Café Rio addiction and I can't single-handedly eat enough produce to feed a small family.
And so, inevitably, two weeks later I still have an entire watermelon sitting on my counter; a head of lettuce, a pound of wrinkly cherries and a couple tomatoes in my trash; and 3/4 of a bag of cuties and 5/8 of a bag of celery still in my fridge, alongside my Café Rio leftovers.

What can ya do.

Run. A lot. And cross your fingers that it's enough to counter the 1000-calorie salad you just ate.
Solid strategy as far as I'm concerned.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Those who bring sunshine

I've never understood why everyone keeps things so personal. That's probably because I'm naïve and I haven't had enough encounters with malicious people to lose faith in humanity yet. But I can't help but think that on a fundamental level, we all have the same basic emotions, and even though we all struggle through different trials, there's always someone who understands. Shouldn't we share with each other? Shouldn't we rely on each other? Isn't that why we're all here together in this life?

So I've always felt the need to be transparent.
When people ask me how I'm doing, I like to tell them.
If I'm happy, you'll know it.
If I like a guy, he'll know it.
If I'm sad, you'll know it.
If I'm frustrated, you'll know it.
If I'm stressed, you'll really know it.

To me, it's a matter of honesty. In my mind, pasting on a smile when I didn't feel happy was a lie.

But my perspective is changing lately.
Recently I've been learning that smiling is an act of service. Have you ever had a stranger smile at you? A big, genuine smile, for no apparent reason, and all you can do is smile back. What a kindness! They shared their happiness with you. If only for a split second, your mood was lifted.

Acting positive and kind and upbeat even though you don't feel happy is a sacrifice. You're sacrificing your comfort or the ease of letting your mood rule your demeanor for the sake of improving the lives of the people around you. It's not to be fake or to put on a show so that everyone thinks your life is perfect, or at least that shouldn't be the goal. It's to make someone smile, to make someone's day better, to ease someone's burden.

You know those people that, whenever you're around them, you feel better about yourself and better about life in general?
It's because they're happy, right? They're happy to see you. They think you're a great person. They remind you of all the good things in life. They're happy in general.
Are these people happy because nothing bad ever happens to them? Do they act this way because they have nothing to be unhappy about?
I don't think so. I think they probably have just as many problems as you do.
But if they can have problems and be this happy, why can't you?
What if YOU were one of those people that makes everyone happy?
Guess what.
You can be! You are! YOU are 100% capable of making people happy!
What if everyone made the decision to be one of those people that makes everyone around them happy? What a happy place this world would be.

Uh-oh. My naivete is coming out.
Do I care?


Make someone happy today.

Monday, July 29, 2013


you have to go up to the canyon and have a bonfire with your best friends for no reason other than you have a box of extra firewood, graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows lying around and you need to get it out of your living room.

you have to build a fort because life gets hard and you need blanket walls and mattress floors to protect you from work, school, sunlight, and home teachers who mercilessly remind you that you're single.

your best friend finally comes home from 2 months in Europe and you're so giddy that you literally cannot help but take several ugly pictures of yourselves because you're so excited to be reunited at last.

you have to throw your other best friend a late surprise birthday party.
You have to, because she was studying abroad during her birthday, and she had a rotten birthday, and she always goes all out to throw everyone else cutesey, thoughtful, fun, tastey parties and she just totally deserved it.
When this happens, it becomes absolutely necessary to have a Breakfast At Tiffany's theme because she loves Audrey Hepburn.
It also becomes necessary to annoy said best friend by dragging her from the aforementioned fort against her will and making her take you on a fake shopping trip that she doesn't even want to go on and preventing her from eating food she wants to eat because there's a party waiting for her at home and it's for her own good.

Hailey poppin' bottles

Sometimes there's no one there to take the picture and you have to photoshop Caroline in.
your friend from high school whom you haven't seen in over a year drives 30 minutes to come visit you because he loves you and when that happens, you have to spend the day watching scary movies in your fort and going out for authentic Mexican food and getting locked out of your apartment, because really, is there any other way to celebrate seeing an old friend?
you don't have time to blow dry AND straighten your hair before church, so for the first time in your life you attempt to do something you've always been too scared to do: blow dry your hair with a round brush. Sometimes, you just have to face your fears to find out that you can DO it! And it's gonna turn out OK! And there's nothing to be afraid of!

And sometimes,
you have to post a video from your childhood, partly out of nostalgia, and partly because it shares the name of your blog post.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

What women want

Can I teach you something about girls really fast? I promise it's useful.
I had a conversation with my friend Britney about what girls want in a significant other. Do I have your attention? What girls want. The big mystery. Here's what she said that really resonated with me: "What guys don't realize is that they could have almost any girl they want if they would just love her."

Now this statement in itself can be interpreted in a lot of ways, but I think it really stuck with me because it reminded me of something I read in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Sweet book, btw. Read that). Steven Covey told of how he counseled a man who was saying he wanted to leave his wife because the love was gone. Covey's advice was to "love her." This confused the man because he had just explained that the love wasn't there anymore. This is what Covey said:

"My friend, love is a verb. Love--the feeling--is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?"

So you don't have to immediately FEEL love for her, as in, you don't have to feel like you're in love with her. But if you SHOW love to her, the feelings will come. What an interesting concept. 

That has sat with me, and the chord was struck again in my mind as I was listening to a talk about charity in my ward some weeks ago. The speaker shared the following quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, Your Wonderful Journey Home:

"Have you ever wondered what language we all spoke when we lived in the presence of God? I have a strong suspicion that it was German, though I suppose no one knows for sure. But I do know that in our premortal life we learned firsthand, from the Father of our spirits, a universal language--one that has the power to overcome emotional, physical and spiritual barriers. That language is the pure love of Jesus Christ. It is the most powerful language in the world. The love of Christ is not a pretend love. It is not a greeting-card love. It is not the kind of love that is praised in popular music and movies. This love brings about a real change of character. It can penetrate hatred and dissolve envy. It can heal resentment and quench fires of bitterness. It can work miracles."

So you have to SHOW love, but not just any kind of love. There are different kinds of love. No, let me correct myself. There is one kind of true love, and many counterfeits for it. A man who shows charity--the pure love of Christ-- to a woman through his actions will set himself apart from other men. 

Have you ever wondered why girls fall for bad boys even though they treat them terribly? A big part of it, I think, is because they are hoping the boy will love them enough to change for them. They see these movies where bad boys change their ways in the name of love and the girl saves him and they live happily ever after. But they don't realize that this portrayal of love is artificial. It is a sorry copycat of Christlike love, a love that can supersede all of a person's imperfections and help them blossom into who they're meant to be. Many girls fail to recognize the difference between movie love and real love, pure love, charity. They don't realize that this is what they want.
I believe that to an extent, the appeal also comes from a woman's vanity and pride. She wants to be powerful enough or beautiful enough or lovable enough to change someone. She might feel that she would be validated or her self worth would be confirmed if she could be a positive influence in this boy's life and change him for the better. But this is also flawed thinking, because none of us can change each other. Only Christ can do that. We can only try to follow His example and submit ourselves to be instruments in the Lord's hands to help those around us.

Oftentimes girls think they want this electric romance--this passionate fireworks show with sparks flying everywhere that's supposed to be worth any fighting or mistreatment or hardship that may come--because that's what we usually see in movies. Because its the easiest to portray, and it's thrilling, and it looks like the best thing ever. It's used in ENTERTAINMENT because it's more entertaining than charity, because charity is so simple. But underneath all the perfect lighting and background music, these cinematic romances are, in reality, very empty. The truth is, that's not really what we want either. Again, we often mistake romance for a pure and Christlike love--we mistake kisses and sweet words and gestures that ultimately hold no promise at all for service and sacrifice that demonstrate a man's devotion, not only to his woman, but to his God. A love between a man and a woman is fallible and susceptible to failure. But a love between God and one of His children is perfect and complete. A relationship founded upon God will always succeed. Two people who have made obedience to God their number one priority will treat each other right. 

I guess I can't guarantee that loving a girl will make her love you. Like I said, we're easily deceived by the media into thinking we want things that really won't do anything for us, and it can be hard to break through all that brainwashing, depending on the girl's emotional maturity. But here are the facts, whether we girls realize it ourselves or not:

What we want, on a basic fundamental level, is to be loved as a daughter of God. We want someone to see our tenderness and our vulnerability, our individual worth and our grand eternal potential, and to do all he can to live up to that by working to meet his own grand potential. He can only do that by living righteously, which by definition requires him to be obedient, to treat his eternal companion with selflessness, kindness and respect, and to take personal responsibility for her happiness. 

Anyway, that's the answer. Love. Pure, Christlike love. Charity. 

Plain and simple. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Little tidbits from the last 4 months of my life

I forgot to blog.
For four months.
It just slipped my mind.
For four months.
Here is my humble offering of apology to you.. some pictures to pretty much sum it up.
Carli had a birthday.

I crashed my car :( It was my fault.

I ran a half marathon. All my friends came :D

Caroline and I tried to juice fast.. It lasted about two days

We had a girls' night to console ourselves while Taylor was attached to Landon's hip and Megan was in Europe.

I celebrated Mothers' Day.
I made my mommy a floral arrangement :)

I roadtripped to Lake Tahoe with my family, and I dragged Hailey along!

I watched the Miss Provo beauty pageant, just for fun. And Zhanna took me to Mongo's Stir fry. It was AWESOME!

I've been enjoying my time as a 5th wheel.

I had a devastating hair mishap. Dyed it a completely ridiculous shade of red.

And then I tried to color over it with brown, which was equally devastating.

I ran a marathon. I was blessed to have so many loved ones helping me get through it and waiting for me at the finish line.

Megan came home!

We threw Taylor a bachelorette party. The main activity was binge eating. We did not regret it.

We went boating.

We celebrated Hailey's birthday with a crepe dinner and an intimate bonfire.
Megan smashed a fly with her bare hands. She was very pleased with herself. Meanwhile, Hailey and I were unable to bear the violence.

Classes started, and I have been trying desperately to survive being a news reporter while working full-time. So far, so good I suppose.
Bright side: I got a press pass!!

 I started swimming in the mornings. Someday I will do a triathlon!

Meggy, I'm sorry I used the picture with you blinking. It's the only one I have with all of us :(

I celebrated 4th of July with my family. We ran a 5k. They entered everyone's race number into a raffle and my mom won the bike! Then we went boating.

I ended up with all the shnacks. This should be a surprise to no one.

That should do it. I'll try to blog more frequently. But it might not be until I get through this miserable term. You've been warned.