Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 22: final

You know what I've loved about doing this string of Thankfuls? I've realized that I have so much to be grateful for, so many times on a daily basis that I see the hand of God in my life.

Times like yesterday, when I wasn't feeling well but friend was so kind and gentle. Or last night, when I was able to have a really good discussion with his mom about all sorts of important things. Or a few weeks ago, when my good friend called just when I needed it. And every quiet moment when I actually learn to breathe and relax.

Some of the times I am most grateful for are moments of inspiration. I've been feeling those a lot lately. Recently, I've been increasingly blessed to start developing a good understanding of what I want my marriage and future family to look like. I'm so grateful that I'm learning now that I want a partner who loves and respects all that I am- but who doesn't need to be just like me. In fact, because I am so passionate about so many things, in order to be my best self I need someone who helps me feel grounded in reality at times.

As quirky and strange as they are (myself included), I'm grateful for my family. We each have our challenges, but I wouldn't be who I am today without each one of them. I want to be with them forever, and I love them deeply- which is why they cause me such joy and such pain. We are placed in our families for a specific reason- and I learn so much from mine.

I am just so very grateful to be alive. It is truly a great gift we have been given that we get to experience life every day. To wake and breathe and walk and communicate and work and laugh and love. To struggle. To soar. To be challenged, and to fail. And finally to succeed. To feel both pain and the tenderness of touch.

It is all to easy to take life for granted, and I hope I never truly do.

Oh yeah- I'm also exceptionally grateful for turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and PIE!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 21

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced a new curriculum for teaching the youth, and I am so excited about it!  It's called "Come, Follow Me".  I am grateful for inspired leaders who are in touch with the needs of each generation.

One lesson I found particularly astute for this time is called "How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?"  Part of this lesson includes this video:

I hope we can all find partners in our lives who give us wings to fly and opportunities to act on our divine impulses to do good.

Catchup- through Day 20

I slack, this I know.  So here's some (very grateful) catchup:

17: Health
On Saturday, I ran my first ever race.  It was only a 5K, but after injuring my knees while prepping for a half marathon earlier this year, I was so grateful to have healthy, strong legs that allowed me to finish.

18: Friends
I seriously have some of the most incredible friends.  I love talking to them and I am so grateful for all they do for me.  I just love being able to call up/come home to so many lovely, authentic people.

19: Dentists
I write this one a bit begrudgingly, but it's true.  I was cursed with awful genes for teeth, and if it weren't for modern technology most of  my mouth probably would have fallen out by now.  I may have a nervous breakdown every time I go to the dentist, but at least I have a mouthful of teeth!

20: Road Trips!
Sadek, Laura and I are driving down to Arizona today, and I'm excited! It may be a grueling 11 hour drive, but at least I get to make it with people I love, music I enjoy, and snacks!  Let the Thanksgiving-ness begin!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 16: Education

Sometimes in the midst of stress and school, I have to remind myself to sit back and remember how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be here at all.

I'm finishing up my 4th year at Brigham University, and it's been an incredible journey.  Yesterday in the car I all of the sudden realized that this is my last real semester.  This is the end of a huge experience- one that will never happen again in quite the same way.

I'm grateful for all that I've learned, the opportunities I've had for research, networking, mind-blowing ideas, and preparation for my future.  That I have the capacity and resources to come here, do well, and be prepared enough that I know I can succeed in the future.  And, because of generous offerings from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and BYU alumni, I've had most of my education paid for.

After this year, I plan to save money like crazy for graduate school.  Then, if Heavenly Father's plans align with mine (yeah, I know, probably not likely), I'll be off to a master's program in 2014.

Life is all about opportunities: those you are blessed to have, and those you work hard to create for yourself.  I'm grateful for both.

Thursday, November 15, 2012



Tickling. Wrestle fights. Being a grumpy little kid. Quiet time. Raspberries. Butterfly kisses. Pure, innocent ways to laugh, giggle, and find joy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 14: Pie and Potential

FREE PIE! at Village Inn.  Hot chocolate and pie. :-)

Also, I'm grateful for the opportunity to see glimpses of people's incredible potential.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 12: slacking

I'm a slacker and I didn't get this up yesterday.

So I'm going to discuss how grateful I am to have a busy life.  I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to attend a great school, have a fun and rewarding job, great roommates, a car to take me to places where I can buy shoes (yes, I know, finally!), a loving boyfriend, delicious food....and just all around wonderful ways to spend my time.  I'm glad that I have reasons to slack, and things to do that are better than spending all day online.  :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11

As cliche as this sounds, I'm grateful for Thanksgiving. It's so awesome that we have a time of year dedicated to giving thanks. Whatever else our nation can or can't agree on, we can agree that we have a lot to be grateful for.

Day 10

Saturday was one of the most wonderful days I've had in a long time.  I woke up from a dream that brought some closure, got some things done for work and school, bonded with my roommates, watched a movie with my boyfriend and another couple (yay for socializing!), made an awesome snowman named Clyde (with lots of help), gallivanted in the snow and made snow angels, and finished off the evening with lost, tea, cuddling, and some more roommate bonding.

Today had wonderful parts as well- a good haircut, tromping through snow, realizing how great it is that I have the means to buy the clothing I need (if not the decision-making power), and quiet time with my man.

The gratitude I feel today is for the whole circle of feelings- ups and downs and "meh" points in-between.  For the understanding I have that even when my headaches don't go away, every night is plagued with nightmares, and I'm just plain is still worth living.  Sometimes it can be one look, one kiss, or just the quiet determination I feel at the end of the day.  But it's there.  And it's real.

I'm grateful for a knowledge that, even while I'm still figuring it out, I have a place in this world.  One that only I can fill perfectly, and only I will truly appreciate.  And I'm grateful that that's enough.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 9

I'm so grateful that regardless of what goes on in the world in general, I can build a fortress of goodness, fun, love, discipline, values and compassion in my own home.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that the majority of social organizations in this world were created to deal with the effects of broken and dysfunctional homes.  It would seem, then, that the greatest good we can do for society is to create and maintain a solid home foundation.

It's taken me a long time for my social activist mind to figure this out, but I'm glad I'm finally starting to get it.

What my home will look like:

A refuge of comfort and security, where you know you are loved and accepted.
An environment where hard work is taught and expected, with the understanding that anything can be accomplished if one is willing to work for it.
Pictures and decorations of things that are the most important adorning the walls.
Cozy nooks for cuddling and couches for lounging, because relaxing is an important part of a balanced life.
A collection of books and movies that teach good principles and values.
Ways to have good, clean fun: a basketball hoop, board games, classic non-violent video games, bookshelves, Foosball, baseball gloves,  music, coloring books, chalk, bubbles, crafts supplies, etc.
An attitude of gratitude that is communicated through constant service both in and outside of the home.
TONS of delicious (and yet secretly fairly healthy) food!
A place where expectations are clear, communication is two-way, and everyone feels just challenged enough that it helps them work hard to become better.
A stark absence of anger, contention, and harsh words.
Tickle fights and wrestling
Abundant words of authentic praise
Gentle guidance
Honest discussions about serious things 
A rhetoric of value-laden words with which to talk about life's experiences
A place where truth is taught and lived
Teaching by example.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 8: Nicole

After almost 2 hours on the phone with her today, I remembered that there are some things only sisters can share and understand. I love her dearly, and I am so grateful that we have one another.

Day 7: Temples

I am so grateful that we have a place on this earth to block out the unimportant things and remember who we are in the divine scheme of things.

Mesa, Arizona temple.
Where my parents were married, and Sadek and I visited this spring.

The temple I grew up attending, literally set on a hill.
Oakland, California

When driving in Washington D.C. as a little girl, we turned a corner and I saw this temple...
and if I had my choice, I would get married here.

The breathtaking Celestial room in the Brigham City, Utah temple.
I had the very special opportunity to go to the open house earlier this semester.
Provo, Utah.
Maybe not the most magnificent temple, but the one I've attended almost every week for the past  3 1/2 years.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 5 & 6

Democracy and Agency.

There is a very good reason God let 1/3 of his children choose a different plan- it's because of how incredibly much He values agency. We may not always make the best choices, but our ability to choose in the first place is the most important part of, I would argue, our existence. Without choices there would be no true feeling, no learning, no accountability, no progression, no goodness. If we didn't have the ability to choose wrong, there would be no virtue in choosing right.

I am grateful for a government system that, despite its flaws, seeks to honor individual agency. The democratic system often makes life more difficult and messy, but it does so in preservation of our precious gift of agency. And so, as a country, we are able to make choices and be collectively accountable for the consequences. It is in this way that we learn, grow, and mature. Our system isn't perfect, but it does pretty well for the mass of imperfect beings who participate in it. I am grateful that I have the right and privilege of voting.

I am grateful that I have the agency to make mistakes, and agency to choose to follow principles of I can personally develop testimony.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4: Fruit Snacks

Yes, I have a whole day dedicated to fruit snacks. Not the healthiest snack, but not the worst either. Fruit snacks have brought me so much joy at many needed moments. I've shared them with others (including unwittingly to a random testing center stranger), and I fully plan to share them with my children. I love fruit snacks!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3

I'm grateful for divine agency that allows me to choose how I want to respond to circumstances. It is a wonderful blessing to know that I can choose to be happy in any situation- and that happiness need not be contingent on knowing that I'm in the best of all possible circumstances. To the extent possible, I should shape my choices in a way that creates good circumstances- but these will never be perfect. And yet, they can seem so, because I have the capacity to choose joy, charity, and love- which fill any situation with a degree of lasting happiness.

Gratitude experiment: Day 2

Today's note will be brief, bit no less important for brevity.

I am grateful for the ways in which I've been able to experience love. For the strong feelings of protective love I've had for my little brother, the deep bond of companionate love I've developed with good friends and family, the passionate love that has taught me much and occasionally gotten me into trouble, and for the true love that has taught me the joy of sacrifice and service for those you hold dear.

Love can be painful, because you extend your heart to someone who you know doesn't know exactly how to hold it. But you do it anyway, because love isn't about how well someone else holds your heart, but about how carefully you hold theirs.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Gratitude Experiment

I've learned a lot about gratitude lately,  most notably how to recognize and be grateful for the things that are really important.  Often, that comes in the form of recognizing the hand of God in my life.  True gratitude is born in the moments when I realize that those I surround myself with are really excellent people who love me deeply- whether that be friends, family, strangers, or deity.  It's never really things that provide the joy that leads to gratitude (or vice versa), but what those things mean or symbolize because of their connection with people.

So, for the next twenty-two days, I'm going to pay more attention to these meaningful experiences in my life, articulating and documenting how they have touched and changed my life.

Day 1:
Today I want to express my gratitude for scriptures that contain the Word of God.  I am so grateful for the Old and New Testaments, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants.  I've struggled with consistent scripture study off and on in my life, but I've noticed that I feel the most grounded, blessed, and loving when I make daily study in the holy scriptures a priority.  I know that in these sacred texts I can and do find eternal truths that help guide and direct me in my life.  Through the scriptures, I am reminded that I am eternally loved by my Heavenly Father (see John 15: 9-15).  I learn that service is the greatest sign of love, and that the best leaders teach through example (see Mosiah 2:12-18).  When I am out of sorts, I can remember through the scriptures that love, kindness, meekness, forgiveness, and childlike qualities are the basis of goodness- not anger, resentment, bitterness or harsh words (see Luke 6:31-35 and Mosiah 3:19).  The scriptures provide stories of great women and men whose examples I can emulate (Abish, Moroni, Jacob, Mary, Emma, Moses).  And most importantly, they teach of the merciful, just, and infinite Atonement of our Savior, through which we are forgiven, healed, and perfected (see Atonement).

Glimpses into the scriptures remind me that life is about more than our school, job, athletic achievements, and even intelligence.  Life is about learning, growing, and enduring challenges well.  Some of the most stalwart disciples and incredible people in this life have not accomplished much by the world's standards, but they have grown into the type of person a Heavenly Father can be proud of.  The scriptures tell the stories of these people.

I am grateful for the hundreds of generations of work and sacrifice that have gone into the writing, preservation, and translation of the scriptures I can now access through tangible books, on my computer and phone, and through various languages and printings (like the Arabic and 1860 versions on my bookshelf at home).  It is such a blessing that I can study these pages at will, and that I can be blessed by their divine spirit and content daily.