Check out my other blog HERE

Saturday, December 14

On Choosing Happiness

I regularly watch a youtube vlog called The Shaytards.  And the dad, Shay, will sometimes spout off about how happiness is a choice and how he has to sometimes make a concerted and conscious effort to "choose happiness".

I wholeheartedly agree.  While I believe 2 Nephi 2:25, that the purpose of our existence is to have joy, I know that joy and happiness have to be realized.  My state of happiness has little to do with external circumstances and a lot to with how I choose see and interpret things.  It has a lot to do hope and what I expect.  It has a lot to with gratitude.  It has a lot to do with my relationship with God.

I had a moment yesterday where I saw the opportunity for me to choose happiness or not.  It started about 6:30 last night on my way home from shopping at City Creek with a friend, we stopped by Best Buy to see if I could upgrade my phone (finally).  Since this summer my phone has gotten really slow, hardly holds a charge, turns off randomly but won't stay powered down when I want it to.  So yes, I've been anxious to get my phone upgraded.  I'm not sure if all Best Buys are like this all the time, but it was BUSY.  I finally got to meet with a worker and we sat down and she pulled out the new phone I wanted.  We got down to business and she started typing away at the computer.  Then she asked for ID.  I opened my wallet and realized my license had been lost at the airport a few weeks earlier and was going to be mailed to my house.  "Do you have a passport or another type of state or federally issued photo ID?"  Sadly, I didn't.  I don't carry my passport with me and that's really the only other thing I've got.  She did estimate the value of my phone for trade-in so I thanked her for her help and my friend and I headed back home to Herriman.

I checked the mail when we got home about 7:30.  Still no license.  I grabbed my passport, bound and determined to get a new cell phone that night come hell or high water, and drove off to a closer Best Buy about 20 minutes away in Jordan Landing.  Once again, super busy, but I kept occupied by talking with some friends on the phone.  Upon being helped by a worker I explained to her the situation with my driver's license and why I was using my passport and she made some joke about finding money in my passport.  I told her she could keep any Argentine pesos that she might find in there.  She started clickety-clicking away on the computer.  We determined that I would get the 5s instead of the 5c and I was excited knowing it would only cost me about 25 bucks after trading in my old phone.  She started messing with the settings of my old phone in order to transfer service over to my new phone.  Then she turned the new phone on, booted everything up and updated all of the settings.  Then she had to actually process the upgrade with Verizon.  I signed a bunch of contracts and whatnot.  Next she started filling out the paperwork on the computer for my trade in so that I could finally pay the balance and be on my way.  She got a look on her face and then asked me if I had my driver's license.  I reminded her of my situation.  Then she left to go find her boss.  Ten minutes later she returned and asked if I had any other form of state ID.  I tried to gently remind her that all I had was my passport which I had been upfront about the entire time and which I was told at the first Best Buy would work just the same as a driver's license.  "I know," she said, "but with the trade-in part you have to have a state issued ID."  At this point it had sunk in that I would not be getting any new phone that night.  This is where I had to choose happiness.  It was a disappointing and frustrating situation.  Throwing a tantrum wouldn't change anything.  Crying (even though I kinda felt like it) wouldn't change anything.  So then I just sat there quietly while she had to call back Verizon and undo my upgrade, then switch service back from my new phone to the old one, put my new phone back in the box and hand me back my old phone.  I walked out of the store a little bit in a daze and looked at my phone.  It was 9:30.  I had spent 3 hours trying to get a new phone.  I thought about getting angry for a minute but realized I had already told myself that I would choose happiness in this situation.  So I went to chik-fil-a and drove home tired but happy.  And I'm still waiting for my license to come in the mail.  

Joy and happiness are ALWAYS there for the taking.  The CHOICE to take it can be challenging.  It's one thing to say, "I will not get frustrated in this moment, it's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things" but sometimes the things we deal with can really seem like big deals.  And we can't just avoid challenging or hard times.  Mourning, suffering and sorrow are all part of life's equation, they can be a part of it quite often, in fact.  I've wondered, "can I really be happy when I'm physically ill?  Can I really be happy when people I love are struggling?  Can the really hard parts of life actually be happy?"  The answer has to do with Jesus Christ and the peace and comfort that come from His atonement.  Unfortunately I don't have the words to express this more and truthfully, I am still learning and figuring this all out.  But lately, the lessons I am learning are that I can pray for peace.

I wrote in my scriptures as a teenager that peace is better than happiness.  As an adult I am learning that they are the same thing.  The temple is a place of peace and I feel very happy there.  Not exactly the same kind of happy as Disneyland but it's still a great happy.  My definition of what happiness is is stretching and broadening to encompass a lot of different types of goodness.  And I'm (trying) to choose all of it.

****I should add that I am in no way saying that mental illness is a choice.  That is an entirely different ball game.  Hopefully no one interprets this that way.  No one should feel hopeless or helpless.  No one is a victim.  With mental illness the choice available is how to combat it.  I respect anyone who is struggling with that choice.

Thursday, August 8

I should maybe just tweet this but I don't have a twitter

Dating would be so much easier if I just had tourettes* and no shame.  I'd just blurt out what I think and not be embarrassed about it.  There'd be no room for interpretation or subjectivity.  Just the cold, hard truth.  Sprazzy-spraz:  Keepin' it real.

*or some other condition where I unabashedly spouted my thoughts, feelings and opinions without fear of consequence.  I just looked up tourette syndrome and it really has nothing to do with the conditions I just described.  Read about it.

Monday, July 22

When Song Lyrics Express What You Are Feeling...

I don't know why but just about every line in this song spoke to me today.  Listen to it HERE or I also like THIS VERSION.

Close your eyes and clone yourself
Build your heart an army
To defend your innocence
While you do everything wrong

Don't be scared to walk alone
Don't be scared to like it
There's no time that you must be home
So sleep where darkness falls

Alive in the age of worry
Smile in the age of worry
Go wild in the age of worry
And say worry, why should I care?

No your fight is not within
Yours is with your timing
Dream your dreams but don't pretend
Make friends with what you are
Give your heart then change your mind
You're allowed to do it
Cause God knows it's been done to you
And somehow you got through it

Alive in the age of worry
Rage in the age of worry
Sing out in the age of worry
And say worry, why should I care?

Rage in the age of worry
Act your age in the age of worry
And say worry, get out of here!

Friday, June 14

My Time in Florida (continued)

-Sunday, ahh, Sunday was glorious.  First of all, during sacrament meeting they had a farewell of sorts for a family in the ward who was moving to Montreal because the Dad had been called as a mission president.  In addition, the eldest daughter was leaving to serve a mission in Paris.  The family did a musical number and sang love at home in French--it was super sweet.  Then, I got to teach the 10-11 year old class.  Being with them reminded me how much I love teaching any age and how much I love teaching the gospel.  We had a lot of fun and those kids cracked me up.  It was cool to be with them during sharing time and hear and sing songs that I remember singing in Primary--it's been awhile.

-After church there was a luncheon for the family leaving to Montreal and I got to meet Isjaneth who is the coolest.  It felt soooo good to speak in Spanish and of course, she is a steel magnolia like so many of the incredible women I met in Argentina.

-Later that evening we headed over to Isjaneth's house to make arepas and hang with the family.  I feel pretty good about being able to make them on my own as long as I can find the right kind of corn flour.  Trust me, I want to make these at home, and you want me to invite you over for dinner :)  After dinner we played games with the kids--who I adore.  Joel is a mischievous little boy who is just silly and such a character.  Sarah is incredibly smart and eager to learn.  Sarah sang for us and then got on the piano and performed some of the songs she has written.  They're good, mark my words you will hear this girl on the radio someday.  You just don't expect to hear a voice like she has coming from an 8-9 year old.

-I was seriously grinning from ear-to-ear by the time we left.  It just felt so good to attend a normal family ward and feel needed in a calling and to spend time with an awesome family and speak Spanish.  It felt almost a little bit like the mission.

-Monday I started to notice all of the creatures that live in Florida.  I found frogs (or maybe that was Tuesday?) by the outside trash can and I snapped a picture of this little guy after I noticed a few of them hanging from the outside of Makamae's windows.

-We also hit up Ybor City.  This is the place I would live if I were to move to Tampa.  We were on a mission to find this Cuban Bakery I had read about online called La Segunda Bakery.  You can read more about it HERE if you want :)  Once again here are some pictures of the bakery that I didn't think to take and a picture of my guava turnovers.


Mmmmm, guava pastries!
-On the way home I was appreciating the houses and the overall ambiance of the place that is Ybor City and how it was a little rough around the edges.  For example, the beautiful white house on the bottom right has bars on the lower windows.  Mak probably thought it was weird that I was giddy driving through this semi-sketch neighborhood but I loved it.

-That night we had Alona over for dinner and I made empanadas.  You can buy the tapas at Wal-mart and pretty much any other grocery store in Tampa.  I'm a little jealous that I can't just go to my regular grocery store to pick up some tapas.  I made them a little bit too spicy since I threw some cayenne pepper in the picadillo but a little kick never hurt anyone.  They turned out lovely.

-Tuesday we hit up the Hyde Park shopping area to visit some boutiques.  The Hyde Park neighborhood reminds me a little bit of a those picture perfect neighborhoods with well kept old mansions in Southeast Portland.  The buildings and homes are old but beautifully restored/upkept.  It upkept a word?  You know what I mean though, like, maintained.  Super trendy though; I'm glad Mak thought to take me here.

Can't seem to find the link where I borrowed this image from--don't sue me people.

-After that we made our way over to the centro of Ybor City.  I could have a taken a million pictures of the buildings.  Just look for yourself.  I adored this area.  It was a little bit eclectic and kind of funky.  Reminded me of NW 23rd in Portland.  My favorite was the cuban cigar store and all of the old men sitting outside smoking.

Can you tell I loved the archways and the iron detail at the top?
Isn't it just so charming?
-Okay, I can't remember the name of the crepe place but that was our reason for heading back to Ybor City for the second day in a row.  I loved the tile floors in the place, it seemed like the kind of flooring you'd find in an old house in San Juan centro.  I was just waiting for someone to come out with a lampazo to start cleaning the floors.  I also snapped a pic of some of the creative crepe names.

This is Ybor City, I loved the brick roads!
-Also some time on Tuesday Mak took me to a neighborhood in South Tampa, near the AF base, where they had brick roads and I took some pictures of this amazing public elementary school.

-Wednesday I didn't take any pictures.  We did head back to La Segunda for more guava tarts and turnovers.  Mak made pitas for me and they came in real handy when I started to get hungry at the airport.

-I totally home aloned it through the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport because our plane landed as my plane to Salt Lake began boarding.  Of course we taxied for EVER and then people taking their sweet time getting off the plane.  Then, I found out I need to get to a different concourse and had to take the shuttle thing which had numerous stops before I could finally get off in the right area and run to my gate.  I got there 2 minutes before scheduled take-off.  Whew, glad I made home!

Thursday, June 13

My (First) Time In Florida!

I had written a bunch of gloriously detailed travel logs about my trip and then the internet decided to be dumb and I lost almost 2 hours worth of writing.  So here's my best to recap what I have already written once.  

-I arrived in Florida early, early in the morning and immediately noticed the warm, wet, humid air.  It was very green and tropical.  It all kind of made me feel at home in an Oregon summer except even wetter and different kinds of trees.  The Sunshine State was actually really overcast and dull, but that's because a major storm was coming in.

-My phone woke me up from a nap telling to me seek shelter because there was a tornado warning.  Mak and I watched the news for awhile while she made tortillas and then we decided to heed all of the warnings and took shelter in the laundry room and watched Warm Bodies on the laptop.  It was pretty windy and rainy but I certainly didn't feel like I was in the middle of hurricane or tornado or anything, granted, I never left the house.

-Friday we watched over the movers at Alona's house (one of Makamae's friends) in St. Petersburg (St. Pete) while she ran to get the key to her new house on base.

-We made our way west and and hit up the beach.  I PUT MY FEET IN THE GULF OF MEXICO.  I loved it.  It was strange because everything about it was different from the beaches I'm used to in California and Oregon.  The sand was really white and the water was deliciously warm.  I'm told the waves aren't usually as big, but I'm wondering if the wind and waves were residual effects from the storm from the day before.  Next time I'm in Florida I will definitely be spending more time at the beach.  We hadn't really brought towels, swimsuits or other beachy stuff with us so we didn't stay long.

-On the way home we stumbled upon this great little hole-in-the-wall "Mexican Restaurant" called "El Huarache Veloz" in Pinellas Park.  I loved their version of "Autentic Mexican".



-What I loved most about it was that it wasn't the kind of Mexican food I'm accustomed to.  It felt like it had a heavy Caribbean influence.  The rice and beans tasted Puerto Rican to me.  I got a Venezuelan style arepa (at least I think so) and Mak got a Cuban sandwich.  So yeah, nothing we got was really Mexican.  The Spanish spelling errors all over the menu was my first clue that this place was a little gem and it really was--I'm glad we stopped.

-Later in the day we hit up MacDill AFB.  I really enjoyed seeing the base and thought the houses were charming and reminded me of a Florida version of Daybreak almost.  I surprised myself with how excited I got each time we went on base whether it was to grocery shop, hit the gym or just drive around.  Here are some pictures of the houses that I didn't take but it gives you an idea of what the houses look like.


The ones above were def my favorite!

These ones are duplexes and surprisingly very spacious on the inside.  The garage is underneath.  I think the alleyway system is what most gave me the Daybreak vibe.

See!  Daybreak-y Charm.

-Saturday was our day to hit up Orlando and we woke up EARLY.  Like, 5:30 AM early.  But it was worth it.  The temple was awesome.  Sister Perez was coordinating the initiatories and she had the most beautiful French accent.  She married a Spaniard but didn't speak a lick of Spanish.  It was funny to watch her interact with all of the Latin sisters in her thick French accent and their thick Spanish accents.  I also had a nice little chat with an elderly German sister who was so sweet to me.  I had names from Argentina, Chile and the Bahamas.  Who knew the Orlando temple would be so culturally diverse?  We also went to the celestial room and it was just lovely.

-After that we hit up Epcot and I'm a dork and didn't take many pictures except for this one of us waiting in a line at Test Track.  I don't really remember the names of the rides but I really liked the ones we went on.  It was really big and overwhelming.  I commented to Mak that it kind of felt like an interactive museum to me.  Each ride is like an event, like an exhibit in the museum.  There weren't as many rides as I was expecting but there was way, way more to see than I was expecting.  Even though it was a Saturday in June I didn't feel like the lines were really bad or that it was really crowded.  Well, in the afternoon after rides we hit up the countries and I started to get a little loopy from the heat and humidity.  It was really cool to walk from one country into the next though.

-We decided to head home after we saw these big, dark rain clouds heading towards the park.  It had started sprinkling by the time we got towards the front of the park and by the time we made it to the car is was pouring.  During the entire drive back to Tampa it rained like something I have never ever seen in the Northwest (I did see something similar on New Year's Day in Lujan De Cuyo).  People had to slow down to 40 MPH on the freeway and put on their hazard lights because you couldn't see anything and there was so much water on the roads.  The picture below is actually from Sunday but you get the idea--when it rains in Florida, it pours!

I will write more tomorrow to tell you about Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Stay tuned.
Read about the rest of my trip HERE.

Sunday, May 26

I love the temple!

Every individual who qualifies for a temple recommend is also qualified as a faithful Latter-day Saint. He or she will be a full-tithe payer, will observe the Word of Wisdom, will have good family relationships, and will be a better citizen of the community. Temple service is the end product of all of our teaching and activity.

-President Gordon B. Hinckley

Found HERE

Friday, April 19

These are my confessions...

My friend Makamae wrote some of her confessions recently; here are a few of mine...

1.  When I was younger I didn't know the difference between a warranty and a guarantee.  They sounded the same so I thought they meant the same thing.

2.  When my brother Nathan and I get together we speak in "little kid talk" that we made up to mimic Macey when she was a toddler/little kid.  Even if it's just the two of us and no one is around, sometimes we will still talk like that even though we are both in our late 20's.

3.  This past August I went to the dentist for the first time in seven years.  I had seven cavities and needed a crown.  Six months later, I went back for my 6-month checkup and I had 4 more cavities that needed to be filled.  I love to brush my teeth but it's the never flossing that always gets me in the end.  Do you know anybody that enjoys flossing?  It's tedious and it hurts.

4.  You know how sometimes you'll read a word over and over again and you say it wrong in your head?  I do this with the word "forensic".  I always hear it my head like this, "for-sen-ic".  I'll say it outloud, "for-sen-ic evidence".  What the heck is forsenic evidence...I'm the only one who knows.

5.  One Christmas, when I was between the ages of 11 and 14, I got so mad at my Dad that I opened up the present I had bought for him and I ate it.  I think it was gourmet caramel popcorn with nuts or something like unto it.  I don't remember what he said or did that made me so mad.

6.  ****Disclaimer:  This one is a poop story from Argentina.  Feel free to skip it if you're squeamish.  It was just too good a confession to leave out.

My comp and I got a case of extremely severe food poisoning from something we were fed which resulted in what we call "the diarrhea crisis of '06" or "the black death week".  The place where we lived had an incredibly filthy laundry basin that spat out black or brown dirty water.  So instead we washed our clothes in buckets filled with water from the shower spout or kitchen sink.  We did not have very large buckets, only a few pieces of clothing would fit at one time.  On the worst day of our sickness I had a little incident which soiled a portion of my fitted sheet about the size of a silver dollar.  I was so weak that I could barely move.   I folded the sheet over on itself so I wouldn't touch it as I slept, mustering what little strength I had, I rolled over and went back to bed.  I rinsed off that portion of the sheet 5-8 hours later when I was able to move again but didn't take the sheets to be washed at a member's house for at least a week or 2 after that.

7.  I only make my bed if someone is coming over and I think that they might see my bedroom.

8.  I ran into an old student of mine who was out with his family celebrating high school graduation.  I said, "Hey, Kolby, do you remember how you got all of the boys in the class to start calling me Hermana Spravzoff?" and he responded with, "Do you remember how you got mad at me that one time and told me to go to hell?"  I really did say that to him, I can't explain it, it just popped out.  I'm glad he was just razzing me about it.  It's funny, at the time I talked to his mom about the incident and she was like, "he probably deserved it."  It's true.  He did.

9.  I've never used a mop in my life.  I've only ever scrubbed floors on my hands and knees or I've used a swiffer or something like that.

10.  I unknowingly broke the word of wisdom on my mission (my 3rd comp's trainer drank green tea, so she thought it was ok).  And I knowingly bought something on a Sunday.  My trainer bought some chocolate from a kiosco so I justified doing it too.  Interestingly enough, upon leaving the mission, keeping the sabbath day holy was one of the commandments where my testimony had grown the most.

Sunday, February 10

Sunday Thoughts

A few Sundays ago my Bishop had brought up Elder Bednar's conference talk about the difference between testimony and conversion.  Hopefully you've read/listened to that talk, if you haven't, you can read it HERE.  My bishop shared these words, "Conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness precede the abandonment of our weapons of rebellion".  The thought came to me that maybe I have stubbornness, weapons of rebellion, that I'm not willing to give up.  I thought, "How can I stop resisting a stronger conversion?"  I am limiting and resisting a stronger conversion when I resist God's will for me.  Accepting ALL of what God has planned for me right now and in the near future will deepen my conversion.  One tangible thing I can work on is not grumbling about annoying and inconvenient situations that arise.

It's was such an interesting and humbling thought to consider, that my conversion could be stronger than what it is.  Because the truth is, I do feel converted.  I feel like I am consistent and steady in living my testimony.  But there is no "level of conversion" we reach where we've all of the sudden "made it".  We cannot put limits to our conversion, there is always more to work on.

Now, with respect to what I said about not resisting God's will for me, I'd like to paraphrase what the brilliant Jen Willahan said several weeks ago in Relief Society.  Essentially, she said that sometimes we get so caught up in the timing and formula of how things should work out, and how and when we get answers, that we rob ourselves of the growth that takes place in the process of seeking, asking and waiting.  I really want to be more humble with, submissive to and accepting of God and His plan because I know that there is wisdom in his timing and there's growth that I will lose if I don't have patience in the process.

Wednesday, January 23

The Secret To A Happy Life

So Tuesday was kinda jacked.  I was annoyed at work.  Irritable.  Finding fault with others.  Today I realize, "who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly."  I need to mind my own business and do my best work.  Why do we get so outraged when we feel like we are being taken advantage of (or maybe it's just me)?  I mean, maybe I don't know the full story.  How do we (I) overcome that frustration?

Anyway, back to the story.  I was drained on Tuesday from a long day at work and my being frustrated depleted my energy even faster.  So I was tired.  So I ate dinner.  So I turned on my electric blanket and snuggled into my covers and fell asleep at around 8:30.

I awoke in the morning and felt SOOOO refreshed.  Today was a superb day.  Nothing got to me.  I let nothing faze me.  I was businessy, but fun.  I realized that the secret to my happy life is adequate-bordering-slightly-excessive SLEEP.

Saturday, January 19

Is There Room Enough To Receive It All?

A few weeks ago I couldn't help but have the words of King Benjamin running through my head over and over again.  Like, oh-my-heavens-to-Betsy, I will never be able to repay God for all that he has given me.  All I can do is keep His commandments like He has asked, but then He will immediately bless me and I am once again indebted to him.

I thought about this as I returned home from my mission.  I set out as a missionary with the desire to give.  I refused to accept the idea that the mission could/would give me anything in return because I wanted to believe that being a missionary wasn't about me, it was about others.  The mission wasn't supposed to be a time to change myself, rather a time to help others change.  But I feel like as I let go and allowed myself to become a witness of Jesus Christ, I changed the most out of anyone I taught.  So the mission became not just about me helping OTHERS come unto Christ, but about how others helped ME come unto Christ.

This week was a pondering week.  I have had a LOT on my mind.  Thinking about relationships with people that mean a lot to me.  Thinking about how I can improve.  Thinking about the value I place on my relationship with God.  This week has been a struggle in many ways.  But this chapter in Mosiah kept floating through my head.  Even with the ups and downs of this week, I have grown closer to God.  I know where I stand with Him.  I trust Him...I'm trying to.  His opinion of me is the one I want to care the most about.  I CANNOT deny that the blessings being poured upon me are more than I even have room to receive.  And that's just talking about the blessings that I currently recognize.  As I reflect I'm sure I will see even more.  I wanted to focus on the disappointing and frustrating moments of my life this week but nothing could keep me down for very long because there's no where to hide from all of these blessings (God's love).

Sorry for the ramble.

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all theathanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and cpreserved you, and has caused that ye should drejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 21 I say unto you that if ye should aserve him who has created you from the beginning, and is bpreserving you from day to day, by lending you cbreath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own dwill, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all yourewhole souls yet ye would be funprofitable servants.
 22 And behold, all that he arequires of you is to bkeep his commandments; and he has cpromised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth dvary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do ekeep his fcommandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
 23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
 24 And secondly, he doth arequire that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bbless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

Tuesday, January 15

Needed This Today...

"The purpose of mortality is to learn and to grow to be more like our Father, and it is often during the difficult times that we learn the most, as painful as the lessons may be."