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.

April Book: Catch 22

Ugggggghhhhhhhh. I did not enjoy this book.

Catch 22 is a WWII novel, set on an island in the Mediterranean Ocean. It’s pretty much the story of Captain John Yossarian, and I don’t even have anything of substance to share. I don’t feel like I’ve been changed by reading this book, and I can’t say that I enjoyed any of it.

In summary: this is your warning. Read it if you so desire, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Dogma Eat Dogma

One of my deep desires is to just love everyone and be okay with whatever decisions other people make, even if they aren’t in line with my personal belief system. But sometimes it’s really hard for me! Like I have a hard time tolerating people who
-Don’t like Harry Potter
-Support Donald Trump
-Think public education is a waste of time
-Undervalue high-quality music
-Use Comic Sans
-Vocally oppose President Monson and other Church leaders
-Hate Utah (the state) and/or BYU
-Don’t use the Oxford comma
…and the list goes on.

Is there anything fundamentally wrong with folks that hold any of the above beliefs? I guess not. I mean, we’re all God’s children, trying to make it through a series of 24-hour periods. But when do you take a stand, and when do you just back off and let people do their thing?

A big weakness of mine is I hold such strong opinions that I tend to believe them to be fact. I’ve been known to make statements like, “Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto is the most glorious piece of music ever to be written!” or “Running in the morning is the best way to have good mental health!” or “The North Shore of Oahu is the most beautiful place on Each!”

These statements may be true for me (and who can argue, right?), but the key is they are my personal beliefs; not universal Truths or even truths. They work for ME.

I had a companion at the end of my mission who wanted to help me with this problem, so we worked out a simple solution: Every time I made a Sis.-Blair’s-opinion-as-fact statement, she would say, “You think?” and I’d modify it to start with, “I think…” This is something I’ve tried to continue to practice since coming home, but sometimes it’s hard for me to distinguish between facts and my right opinions!

So here’s my quandry: I’m not sure about when it’s appropriate to just take a step back and be cool with everyone, and when it’s appropriate to take a stand. As Hamilton says to Burr in the beginning of that delightful musical, “If you stand for nothing, what’ll you fall for?” Elder Christofferson also addressed this issue in his most recent Conference talk. How do we lovingly stand for our beliefs (and opinions?) without being dogmatic or pushy or narrow-minded? Where’s the balance?

Baby Face

Recent conversation with an old man in a hot tub:
Old man: Have you ever thought about how different your life would be if you had big, blue eyes?
Me: *laughs nervously*
Old man: I hope you’re old enough to get left-handed compliments.
Me: *continues to laugh nervously*
Old man: How old are you, anyway?
Me: 25
Old man: *Looks aghast* Well, that’s going to work out really well for you. You look 15.
Me: *fake smiles*

#SOML

This happens to me allllll the time. I’ll get a half-day sub, and he or she will come into my classroom and say, “Wait, you’re the teacher? I thought you were one of the students!”

PSA: Being told you look 12 is not flattering at all. It is not a compliment.

So what the heck do I do? I don’t care thaaat, much… But I’d like to get married, and I don’t think anyone’s going to want to marry me if they think I’m 15.

Unfortunately this is an unresolved issue in my life, so I can’t write about the solution. I just want to be taken seriously, and teenagers are the last demographic on earth that will be taken seriously. My bad for not looking my full quarter of a century.

If I Had a Million Dollars

Cue “If I Had a Million Dollars” to listen to as you read this.

Here’s what I’d do if I had a million dollars:

1. Pay my tithing ($100,000)
2. Put $500,000 in a savings account
3. Pay off my car. Actually probs buy a new one.
4. Donate a good sum to the Church’s humanitarian fund
5.

You know, I honestly don’t believe my lifestyle would change. I would continue to shop at Trader Joe’s every week. I wouldn’t go buy expensive clothes, because I can get really cute, cheap clothes at Plato’s Closet. I wouldn’t quit my job, because I enjoy having a purpose. I’ve already paid for my upcoming Europe trip, and the money in the savings account would be for future travel. I have a comfortable lifestyle, and I don’t see any reason for it to change. I have everything I need.

I guess it comes down to knowing how to manage money, and living within our means.

I’m realizing this sounds super first world-y… I’m aware that my privilege is far above most of the world, so I just want to conclude in gratitude for the amazing circumstances with which I am blessed.

“All this time, and I never knew!”

Yesterday I went running in the canyon above my house. Prior to this run, I’d been operating under the misconception that a paved road above the Capitol building was the canyon. Boy was I wrong.

My friend and I ran along the road I’d previously believed to be the canyon, and then met another friend at a gate. We walked through the gate and followed a trail into a grove of trees. For the next two hours, we explored miles of the canyon on snow-packed trails I didn’t even know existed. All that time I’d been running on pavement!

Trail running is my favorite, and I never knew I had an actual canyon in my backyard! It got me thinking about how much is available in this life that we may not even know about.

*The Gospel
*Prayer
*Temples
*Repentance
*That money-saving app called Honey that I need to install
*Paying tithing online

And the list goes on. As creatures of habit, we get comfortable in our ways. I always order the same soup and sandwich at Zupas. I usually buy the same groceries every week. I listen to the same music every night. But what if there’s something that would be a total and complete game-changer, and we just don’t know about it yet?

It’s time to take risks and make discoveries.

March book: Princess Academy

Okay, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read this book! It was first published in 2005, and I feel like I’ve been hearing about it every since. But for some reason I never got around to reading it… Until now!

Brief background: Miri is a young girl living with her father and sister on Mount Eskel. The king’s priests divine that someone from their small village will be the prince’s bride, so all the eligible young maidens are sent to an academy to learn how to be a princess.

What I loved: A ROCKSTAR FEMALE PROTAGONIST. Miri is everything I could hope for in a heroine. She’s flawed but still lovable, she’s got a boy but he’s not a big part of the story, she’s strong-willed and kind. Big fan.