New Discoveries/ Recommendations

This Summer has been one of discovery, so I want to take this opportunity to recommend some of my new discoveries.

Music: Sigur Ros
I discovered this band while I was in Iceland. They’re from Iceland, and their sound is ethereally beautiful. They are in fact my favorite band.

TV show: This is Us
I’m like the last person in the world to discover this show, but it’s as good as everyone says. It’s also clean, which is a big deal for me. I’m not done with the first season yet, but so far I’m loving it.

Activity: cooking
I’ve started cooking, and I’m discovering that I’m not as bad as I thought! I’ve been tackling my food board (the first board I ever made on Pinterest) and it’s been so fun! I doubt it will continue once school starts again, but at least I have more confidence now.

Website: Goodreads
I’m also super late on this bandwagon. But Goodreads is social media for books. It’s fun to rate a book after finishing it, and nice to keep track of what I’ve read, what I want to read, and what I’m currently reading.

Exercise: Hot Yoga
I did hot yoga with one of my companions last week, and it was awesome. It’s yoga in 105 degrees, which is just as uncomfortable as it sounds. But it felt great after.

Fact of life: I’m always lost
Okay, this isn’t a new discovery. But it’s true. I hate going places by myself, and the real reason is because whenever I do venture out alone, I always get lost. It’s the worst.

July book: To Kill a Mockingbird

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a goal to reread everything I was forced to read in High School. This month I chose one of the first books we studied in 9th grade Honors English, and oh my goodness.

I remember liking it back in 2006, but the world sure was a different place a decade ago. Reading it in 2017 was an entirely different experience, and I think 100% of adults living in the US should read it before the year ends. I don’t think there could possibly be a more timely or important book, besides maybe the Book of Mormon. The issues discussed are SO RELEVANT today!!!! I literally thought racism was a problem of the past the first time I read it. Boy was I wrong.

This is a message that I think we would all do well to remember, brought to us by the ever-insightful Scout: “I think there’s just one type of folks: folks.” We’re all humans; all children of God. The color of our skin means nothing.

Reading this book again was a true joy, and it’s made it to my top 10 all-time faves.

A Surprising Discovery

So I’ve had a pretty epic first teacher Summer so far. #teacherSummer #teacheroffduty

I’ve checked off several bucket list items already, and I’ve been learning and growing like crazy. HOWEVER, as I’ve discussed here on multiple occasions, I am by no means where I’d “planned” to be at this point in my life. If all had gone according to “plan,” I would’ve met my soulmate a few weeks after getting home from my mission, fallen madly in love with him (but kept it to myself), been heavily pursued by him, finally agreed to date and marry him, and had at least two babies by this point while also having graduated with a teaching licence and put my husband through medical school.

Instead, I just finished my (super hard) first year of teaching. I was in a refiner’s fire for like 10 months, so hopefully I’m way more polished now. I have tons more life experience. I’ve been to EUROPE and learned about other cultures and all kinds of other interesting things. I ran a marathon in Southern England! I experienced authentic Finnish sauna! I went to King’s Cross! I navigated Iceland all by myself!

Turns out God’s plan was better than mine. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m grateful that I’m single right now! I have an amazing life, and I’m doing incredible things that I would never have done if I were married. I’m not saying life gets lame when you get married, but things change. And I’m grateful I’m in my present situation. My life is good.

June Book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Hi friends! So I’ve been MIA for the last month because I treated myself to a European trip (my first time!) as a reward for successfully finishing my first year of teaching. It was amazing, Finland was my favorite country, Europe>America, and I literally slept for 12 uninterrupted hours last night. It’s good to be back.

This particular trip afforded me with ample time in airports and on trains, which means I read quite a bit. The book I finished yesterday in the Reykjavik Airport is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance– my dad’s favorite book. I now know why it’s his favorite.

The premise of this book is a father and son on a cross-country motorcycle trip. The father shares his thoughts on proper maintenance of motorcycles, which is actually a metaphor for our lives. He also discusses quality in depth. Really interesting.

I found myself silently sobbing to myself in the airport yesterday, surrounded by hundreds of people that had no idea about the journey I’d just taken. Books are like that. You finish, and it’s hard to believe that no one else knows what you’ve just experienced. Reading is the best.

A Reflection on My First Year of Teaching

Cue “Celebration” because I’M DONE WITH MY FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING!!!!!!

I thought this day would never come. There were times when I thought I would surely die. It is a literal miracle that I survived this year. Praise the Lord!

This year was unquestionably my hardest so far, but simultaneously my best. It definitely yielded the most growth. Here’s a list of lessons I learned:

1. Nobody likes to be forced to do stuff. Never force.
2. Meet people where they are. Validate, and then teach.
3. Always express gratitude. Ingratitude is incredibly annoying.
4. As management goes, it’s easier to loosen up later than tighten later.
5. Exercise is a key to happiness for me.
6. Trials pay off if you see them through to the blessing. Not if you quit.
7. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.
8. God knows better.
9. Things work out. It will be okay.
10. Good leaders inspire with love, not fear.
11. Being single can be awesome. (Another post to come on this one.)
12. I’m happiest when I’m authentically Amber.
13. Being liked isn’t as important as being respected.

There it is. I’m grateful for this amazing, super difficult experience. Those kiddos will always hold a special place in my heart. Here’s to Summer!

May book: The Happiness Project

Okay, so I actually started reading this book about 9 months ago, but I finally finished it this month! I guess that kind of makes it sound like a boring book, but it’s really not. It’s well-written, engaging, interesting, and practical. By that I mean it could literally change your life.

The premise of this book (as you’ll see from the cover) is the author, Gretchen Rubin, writes of her experience spending a year trying to be happier. She deliberately focuses on one aspect of happiness each month for a year. Fun read, good stuff.

9 Reasons Gilbert Blythe is the Ideal Man

I’m on an Anne kick RN, because I recently watched the new Netflix series “Anne with an E” and was so overcome with love for Green Gables and Anne and Matthew and Marilla and Gilbert that I just had to watch the beloved BBC films as well.

I’m in love.

In love with Avonlea. And Anne and Gilbert’s relationship. And the whole small-town, book-loving, creative, passionate orphan girl turned successful author. And the idea of a perfect young man being in love with me since the moment he saw me, and never giving up on me, even after multiple rejections.

Okay, so maybe it’s not terribly realistic… But I yearn for a man like Gil. Someone who’s head-over-heels in love with me, but still respects me and wants my success and happiness, and continues with life even after temporary rejection, but remains loyal.

Here are a few reasons Gilbert Blythe is the ideal man:

1. He’s ambitious.
Off to med school while the rest of his classmates stick around to be farmers.

2. He’s studious.
He and Anne were the top of their class, and both worked hard and got great scholarships.

3. He’s kind.
He was always offering to help Anne. Even after she cracked her slate over his head.

4. He’s honest.
Ohhhhh if all men were like Gilbert. He’s straight up with Anne and tells her exactly how he feels. So much of the horridness of dating would be avoided if everyone was up front and open.

5. He’s loyal.
Even after being rejected by Anne, he STILL waits. He even calls off his engagement because “it wouldn’t be fair to Christine.” (This is totally different from Snape, because Anne wasn’t married. Lily was married. Snape was lustful and creepy; Gil was loyal and determined.)

6. He’s handsome.
I mean, this doesn’t really need an explanation.

7. He’s supportive.
He goes to Anne’s performance where she recites “The Highway Man” and GIVES HER AN ENCORE.

8. He’s useful.
Okay, this one takes some explaining. He actually helps Anne progress. Like, he gives constructive feedback on her book in a tough love sort of way, which she totally hates at first. But it ends up saving her writing career. He’s not afraid to be honest.

9. He’s forgiving.
Back to the broken slate. This boy is a saint.

So I’m not settling until I meet the living equivalent of Gilbert.

The Race

One of my favorite analogies for life is a race. That poem by my uncle Dee that used to get quoted all the time in Sacrament Meeting has always given me strength– in order to be successful, we just have to get up each time we fall. Racing as a metaphor for life makes sense to me because I have about 20 years of personal experience with racing. Each time I race, I feel like the Lord teaches me something important.

This is me yesterday. I’m finishing the Ogden Half Marathon. (I know, it’s lame. I’ll run a full marathon asap.) My parents and my recently-returned missionary sister Lauren all drove up to Ogden with me on Friday afternoon, and we went to a nice Thai restaurant for dinner.

As we were eating, the topic of her new boyfriend came up. I expressed how frustrated I was that both she and our cousin Haley, who went on their missions at 19 and both got boyfriends almost immediately after returning, seemed to be getting all the blessings I wanted, way faster than me. I couldn’t go on my mission until I was 21, I’ve been home for 3 years, and I don’t have a boyfriend.

During my race the next morning, these words from Elder Holland came clearly into my head: the race is against sin, not against each other.

It’s not a race to get married first, or make the most money, or have the most degrees, or travel to the most places, or have the most kids. It’s a race against sin. We’re all running it together, and our Coach has asked us to help each other get home.

The Internet Gets Me

The other day, Pinterest presented me with a highly compelling quiz: Why Are You Still Single? “Please, Internet. Give me your wisdom on this predicament I face on a daily basis. Teach me!” And so it did. I dutifully responded to the questions, and this is the loving, sincere, honest answer I got….

(If you can’t read it, it says, “You’re happy being single. You’re an independent, incredibly focused person, who is out-of-this-world awesome. There’s nothing wrong with being by yourself, and you totally get that. So keep enjoying the single life and chasing after those big dreams, because you’re a shining, radiant star.”)

Uh-huh. Yes. Yes! My thoughts exactly! How, Internet? How did you know I was out-of-this-world awesome? Without actually meeting me, how did you know that I was a shining, radiant star? I feel so understood, on a personal level! We should do this again in the near future. I have a really good feeling about this. <3

Okay, so obviously I understand that the Internet isn’t a real person. As a Millennial, I’ve lived 100% of my life with it, so we may have a different relationship than those of previous generations. Lol I can’t stop personifying it. THE INTERNET IS NOT A PERSON. IT CANNOT THINK OR FEEL. IT HAS NO EMOTIONS.

Humans that publish content on the Internet understand that we as a society have come to accept the Internet as one of us, and that we’re all in a long-term (lifelong) relationship with him or her. I mean it. Therefore, some humans that publish content on the Internet (why am I still capitalizing it?) strive to keep the fire burning by flattery and endless feeding into exactly what we want to hear, based on algorithms that identify our opinions, interests, dreams, and deepest secrets. They get us because they know us on a seemingly intimate level.

I feel weird about that.

The ambiguous nonentity of the internet (not capitalized) knows pretty much everything there is to know about me… because I told it. I have fed it all my information of my own free will and choice. It knows that I don’t like Donald Trump, so it obligingly puts cat faces on his face whenever someone has the gall to post a photo of him. It knows I’m a teacher, so it kindly gives me ads for Teachers Pay Teachers or other such helpful teacher websites. Thank you, dear friend! (Did I just say that? The internet is not my friend.)

So I’m okay with the internet feeding into my interests and stuff. That’s not a big deal. But I think the danger comes when we allow ourselves to live in this almost alternate-reality of an existence, where everything is catered to personal preference, and bias is omnipresent.

No Control (No contro-o-ol)

I like it when people do what I tell them to do. I like it when things go my way. I like it when people behave as I would hope.


On the other hand, I despise it when people don’t do what I want. I loathe it when people don’t do what they commit to. I hate it when people don’t meet my expectations.

I recognize that this characterization makes me sound like a really awful person, and that may well be true. But I learned on the mission that a weakness of mine is having high expectations for myself and others, and holding us all to that high standard. I suppose there are some strengthy things about that, but I think it’s mostly a weakness. I need to just calm the heck down and let people live their lives.

Things I can’t control:
-How other people act
-Other people’s choices
-Other people
-People’s opinions

Things I can control:
-How I act
-My choices
-Myself
-My opinions

I’ve found myself recently being super stressed about my roommate, who just re-entered an unhealthy relationship; my students, who have difficult home lives; various family members who are straying from the teachings of the restored Gospel; etc. etc. This just won’t do. I can only control my own actions, and worrying about others’ choices won’t solve anything.

I’m officially stepping away from trying to control other people. One of the most overwhelming aspects of this school year was being controlled by others. I hated it with all my heart. I don’t want anyone to force me to do anything I don’t want to do, or be anyone I don’t want to be. I want people to respect my decisions and let me live my life the way I decide.

So unless someone asks me for my opinion, I will do my best not to offer it. I’m going to respect the decisions of others and just try to lift them up. After all, our job is just to walk each other home.