Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Playing with Fire

There comes a moment in your life when you discover that there is a Katy Perry song that describes your dating experience. It is a sad, sad moment. There is also a moment when you are amazed at the resonance a P!nk song has with you. I don't know if you've ever had this experience before. I must confess that I have had this happen to me. I love the song "Try" by P!nk. The lyrics are as follows (The verses followed by the chorus at the end):

 
"Ever wonder about what he's doing?
How it all turned to lies.
Sometimes I think that it's better
To never ask why.

Funny how the heart can be deceiving,
More than just a couple times.
Why do we fall in love so easy
Even when it's not right?

Ever worried that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry?
When you're out there doing what you're doing
Are you just getting by?
Tell me are you just getting by?
 
Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame,
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned,
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die,
You've gotta get up and try"
 
 
So, why do I love this song so much? I'm not quite sure. It makes me want to dance in a way I haven't danced in a while. That is only part of it. I think that it is because of where I am right now. My high school experience has been amazing. I've loved it. Still, it has been a rollercoaster. I can think of three difference situations to apply to each of the three verses. I'm here, though. The chorus speaks a fundamental truth - wherever the stakes are high, there are high risks. High risks yield high rewards. Putting yourself out there is the only way you'll get what you want. You may fall, or get burned, sometimes, but it is so worth the risk. Even when you fail, you get the reward of learning from your mistakes! Isn't it amazing how that works? We got ourselves a pretty sweet deal.
 
I guess my point is that life is always good, even when it's hard. We have so much to be grateful for: our families, freedoms, faith, and friends. We can be grateful for our challenges, trials, failures, and successes. I think of "Meet the Robinsons." "That was a great failure!" Keep smiling - you are so loved. Don't ever forget that.
 
Happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for you.
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"An Apology"; also titled "Year of Joy: Update 2"

I'm sorry I've been awful recently... I've had a lot of thoughts worth sharing - I just struggle with putting them in order of priority. I'm going to go ahead and jump right in with a YoJ update.

Well, We are already at month four of my Year of Joy. Crazy. Since my last post, I've taken the ACT and SAT twice each. I've gotten into the swing of school and theatre. Op: Positivity has continue to grow. College apps are happening. I went to my first and last high school homecoming. We performed in the Variety Show. I've had some trials and I've been blessed.

Remember what I wrote about in my first two YoJ posts? The stuff about work and rewards? Yeah. I am going to repeat myself. IT IS SO TRUE. I have been so enormously blessed for my hard work. Let me tell you - it was HARD work. It was difficult to force myself to do what I knew I needed to. Our equation for joy was:

WORK + PLAY + FAITH = JOY

I want to add something to it. It should look more like this:

WORK + PLAY + FAITH(HUMILITY) = JOY

(I have a feeling we will be adding to this formula throughout the year.) I've discovered that when I am working hard, I need to remember to say "Thy will be done, o Lord" while going through "my" plans. I have to realize that my plans aren't mine at all. God's plan for me is better than any plan I could make for myself. Whether it means not doing as well as you could on a test the first time or drifting apart from friendships, it's in God's hands. Being blunt, humility can suck. But it is much, MUCH worse if you are prideful and Heavenly Father has to teach you to be humble. Make a choice for this week to not only be grateful, but to be humble. If things aren't working out the way you want them to, don't stress - He's got it covered.

Oh, and here's a YoJ picture for you. Talk about joy! (Hayride/bonfire/barn dance with church kids.)


Monday, November 5, 2012

Good Company

A thought for the moment:

“My idea of good company...is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.”
― Jane Austen, Persuasion

Monday, October 8, 2012

COLUMBUS DAY?!

Happy Columbus Day? HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY?! How DARE you insult my 21st century morality and perspective by telling me to celebrate the arrival of an invader, conqueror, and thief!

Okay, wait. You mean Columbus wasn't out to steal from people? You mean Columbus didn't know he was carrying deadly illnesses to a people who had not yet built an immunity to it? You mean Columbus didn't realize that he was upsetting a way of life that had been in practice for hundreds of years? You mean that he might have actually thought that he was HELPING PEOPLE? What the-

I love history, and I have studied it in depth. My knowledge is not perfect, but I am passionate about the subject. One thing I've learned from my studies is that you cannot take the narrative as fact. You cannot only believe what you read in your 5th grade textbook. It has been dumbed down, and is typically rampantly biased either to the left or the right. As a student of history, you are a seeker of truth. You are looking for the answers to questions people have. Of course, history is a social science, and you have an issue called "perspective." Two people who witness the same event may recount it in completely different ways. The people hearing those retellings have their own beliefs through which the facts are filtered once again. Today, we try to judge historical players by our own code of morality. Is this fair? I want to write a little about Columbus Day.

Imagine landing on an alien planet similar to Earth when you didn't know you were going there. The inhabitants look different, speak a different language, and have a completely different lifestyle. You try to trade supplies with them, and they willingly give you diamonds and Chipotle burritos for raisins and pony beads. You can't believe your luck - these people are so kind! They seem to live in a way that would be considered poverty where you are from. You try to teach them how to build roads and install water pipes. You don't stop to think that your descendants will use this exchange to lambaste you for years to come.

I personally get offended when people speak of immigrants to the United States as "evil thieves". I understand the point that a way of life was terribly and cruelly disrupted. It makes me grieve to think of those who suffered injustices. Yet, I also have the opinion that the time has gone. Why should I feel guilty for the actions of people who lived hundreds of years before me? Why should I feel that I am a visitor or invader in my homeland? My literal ancestors came here in the 1600s to flee religious persecution and economic hardship, not greed. I had grandfathers who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the World Wars. My own father served his country for 18 years as a federal official. My ancestors struggled through the Great Depression, toiled across the plains, and poured their blood, sweat, and tears into farms and businesses in Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Utah, and Illinois. This is MY country. My forefathers earned the right and have given me the privilege to say those four words. I am hurt when people try to tell me otherwise. Also, what does this say about more recent immigrants? Are they not a true part of this country? Of course they are. We thank everyone for their contributions to our country.

If you've studied history, you understand that it tells a story of a constant exchange of land and power among rulers, peoples, and empires. Egypt has never been purely "Egyptian." The land has belonged to countless empires and peoples. What even is "pure Egyptian?" Shouldn't it just be someone who lives, works, loves, and dies there?

I belong to this land. I am grateful everyday for that fact. I rejoice in its triumphs and mourn its sorrows. May we all remember our own heritage today in a way that would make our ancestors proud that we carry their name.

I am proud to be an American. I am proud to be a true American, not a German-American, or Anglo-American, or Euro-American or whatever name society might choose to give me.

God bless America, and everyone in her.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

15 Things You May Not Know...

After a year of our one-sided conversation, I feel that it's time to let you guys in on some facts you may not know (or really want to know) about me:

1. I am obsessed with pictures. I have photos all over my bedroom, computer, and I can never decide on Facebook photos.

2. I hate elevators. I especially hate the one in the parking garage by Target. Because of this, I refused to go on Tower of Terror at Disney World until I was 16. Yup. But don't worry - my love of Twilight Zone beat out my fear of falling to my death on a theme park ride.

3. I have been to around 43 US states. I need to hit up Alaska and Hawaii, parts of New England, the Pacific Northwest and North Dakota. I haven't really thought of a reason to go there yet... I'm working on it. I'd love to have visited every state before I graduate from college.

4. I have a bucket list that I have written down and hung up on my wall. It is comprised of more that 300 items and is constantly being added to and crossed off. It ranges in seriousness from things like "be in a paint fight" to "get married in the temple." Ask me about it sometime.

5. I have been a DJ before. It is something really fun and random that I love to do. Sometimes it means dressing up and being the most excited person there. It's right up my alley.

6. I love pranking. Before you judge, let me clarify - I love nice pranking. Things like heart-attacking, or doorbell-ditching cookies on their porch, or forking their yard with hearts and notes. Plus, you get to wear war paint.

7. Some girl friends and I came up with B.F.D.s, or best friend dates. Sometimes, you just need to go out and do something one-on-one with one of your best friends. It's different than hanging out in a group or talking on the phone. If you ever see one of us use the hashtag #bfd, you now know what we are referring to.

8. I love going to the movies. I know that some girls hate going to the movies on a date because it's "cliche," but I love movie dates. Most of the movies I see in the theatre, I see more than once. I also collect movie ticket stubs. I have a whole bin full of them. I actually gave up a discount once because they were going to take my ticket stub. It was on a bfd with one of my friends... She was embarrassed. I have my The Amazing Spider-Man 3D ticket stub though. It was worth it.

9. I wake up around 5am every school day to attend Seminary. No, I'm not becoming a priest (that wouldn't work), but it is a four year program that goes in depth in studying the scriptures. Each year, we focus on a different book of scripture: Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants & Church History; Old Testament; and New Testament. I am a senior in both high school and seminary. It's a lot of work waking up that early, but I have been so blessed because of my attendance at seminary. I'm grateful that I'm able to spend time with Heavenly Father every morning in a place where the World is silent.

10. I have a lot of opinions and ideas, but I don't often put them into words whilst having a conversation. That is one reason why I write! I love it, and I am doing it constantly.

11. I have the best friends in the world. For real. I struggled a lot to find good people to spend time with and really learn from, and I've finally found them. I thank God everyday for the blessings that they are in my life.

12. My family has driven across the USA so many times that I have lost count. We have traveled all over the States, from NY to Florida, from Idaho to South Carolina, from Wisconsin to Texas and everywhere in between.

13. I love the number 13. It has always been lucky for me.

14. I love sweaters. I don't know if you've ever noticed, but I have a sweater as a part of almost every outfit I wear. They are just perfect! They make things modest, classy, and I don't have to worry about anything. Gosh, I love them.



This is Nathan & I on location. I'm the psycho one with my arms up.
15. I made a movie this past summer with my friend Nathan. It was Church film documenting our stake's Youth Conference to Palmyra, NY. We interviewed more than 50 teens, and worked out logistics for filming, equipment, interviewing, and legal junk. (We had to get around 150 teenagers to get their parents to sign a "image use" form. THAT was tough.) It was such a neat experience though. I was blessed to hear all those kids testify of their faith and knowledge of the great work our Heavenly Father has, and is, doing in the world and in their lives. It was fabulous. It premieres this fall at the D.C. Stake Center. Come check it out!

So that's a little bit - okay, a lot - about me. Ever wondered anything about me? I'm opening it up for questions... I know that's dangerous, but come on. You guys already know everything about me. ...Or do you?

Peace  from the East,
S

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Year?!

It was a September afternoon in New York City, in an Midtown apartment. Tired and without much to get done, a girl opened her Internet to Google. She clicked on the "More" button, and saw the "Blogger." Curious, she clicked on it and continued through the steps to start a blog. Unsure of what she would write, she thought of a generic title that would allow her the flexibility to do whatever she wanted. A quote came to mind: "Whate'er thou art, act well thy part." Act Well Thy Part was born. It was September 19th, 2011. One year ago today.

I cannot express how grateful I am to all of you who have read anything I've written. Whether you've been reading since "Concrete Jungle Where Dream Are Made..." or started with "Year of Joy in Action," or just popped in for the "Great Dating Dilemma" series, you've been a huge part of my life. You've been with me through a move, an crazy school year, my first break up, and a complete attitude adjustment. I've written almost 50 posts about love languages, gendercide, Broadway musicals, overpopulation, dating, my summers, Jane Austen, Merlin, integrity, beauty secrets, friendship, communication, the Sisterhood, NYC, TV show concepts, goals, fears, and dreams.

You've stuck with me through the ups and the downs, through the crazy and the boring. You've read some of my best writing and some of my worst (Sorry!). Thank you for your thoughts and comments, either on here, on Facebook, or in person. It always surprises me when someone mentions my blog - people actually read it? I see that 1,700 people have checked out AWTP on my stats page, but it has never sunk in. I don't know if it ever will.

Again, thanks, dear ones, for everything you've done for me. I hope that something I've written has resonated with you, and that you've found something of value in it. Thanks for encouraging me to continue writing - I owe it all to you. I love you.

Peace from the East,
S

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 12th

Today is 9/11. It is the eleventh anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001. It is a day for honoring the lives of those who died and the first-responders who ran into the collapsing buildings. It is a day to vow to "Never Forget" and "Always Remember." It is also Patriots Day, a holiday that get forgotten quite often.

That is the irony. We swear to never forget 9/11 and the legacy they left us, but do we? What do we do starting September 12th to change our lives? Those people who died did nothing to personally harm their murderers. They just happened to be on the wrong plane or in the wrong building. They were innocent individuals who lived American lives. They were killed for no other reason than they were American. They had mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children, friends, coworkers. They had likes and dislikes. They had dreams and goals. They had triumphs and regrets. They had chores to do and memories to make. They were just like you and me.  They were you and me. They are you and me.

We have a responsibility to them. It is our duty to live life the best that we can. We are to honor their lives with an America that follows Her values. We are to pay tribute to them with individual lives of dedication and respect to the country that allows us to live the way we choose. We should try to the best of our ability to remember them in the little actions we do. They died because they were in a place that was a symbol of freedom. It was a symbol of freedom of enterprise, to buy and sell. A freedom to travel and go to and from their homes without government involvement. Let's not forget that there are men and women who fight everyday to defend this freedom. They believe it is worth dying for.

Rising again is what we do.
So, starting tomorrow, let us all try to be a little better on our oaths to "always remember." Remember while your hand is over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. Remember while listening to the words of the National Anthem. Remember while you are driving to work on a freeway. Remember while you are sitting in church - or choosing not to go to a church. Remember while you are voicing your opinion. Remember while you are playing with your children, kissing your spouse, hugging your parents. Remember while you are reading the newspaper. Remember while you are laying down at night without fear. Remember the purpose of politics is to elect "good, wise, and just men" to be your voice. Remember when you see a serviceman in uniform. Thank them. Be grateful that you are here. There are so many millions of people who think that the risk of dying is worth the chance to live here. We have so much more than we realize. Be grateful today for the sacrifices of thousands of people who have made your life possible, even just with creating opportunities for you to seize.

Think of those who died eleven years ago today. Think of their families and friends. Tomorrow, think of the future. Think of those who have died since then to ensure that we may live without fear, and that our children will be able to enjoy those freedoms we are so used to. Let us "Always Remember" September 11th by changing the way we live on September 12th.


 I want to say for myself that I know I am one of many who takes for granted all the blessings we have here in America. I forget in my day to day life. I want to be better. I want to start by saying THANK YOU to those who defend our liberty "in all cases," like the stripling warriors. Whether they are military, police, politicians, good citizens - THANK YOU. I want to thank the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) who were inspired to write documents that have withstood the test of time, guaranteeing my personal liberty. I'm grateful to the my ancestors who left their homelands beginning in the 1600s to settle the "New World," a place of promise. Without their sacrifices and hard work, I would not be here today. I want to say THANK YOU to those in history who have defended my liberty from attack, either at home or abroad. THANK YOU. Most importantly, I want to express my thankfulness to my Father - THANK YOU for allowing me the opportunity to live in America. I pray that I will be able to make the most of this incredible chance to make a HUGE difference in this world. I'm SO proud and humbled to be an American.
 
God bless America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Year of Joy in Action

So, how am I doing on my "Year of Joy" resolution? Well...

www.facebook.com/OperationPositivity

Pretty well, if I say so myself. This has been amazing for me thus far. I have tried very hard to refocus my energy and attention towards the positive and productive. I've been able to understand more, have more fun, and feel the spirit more strongly.

This doesn't mean that it's been easy. It's been anything but easy. We got some tough news regarding personal matters. It doesn't affect me as deeply as it does some dear friends, but it affects me. I have to watch while these wonderful people cope (and they're doing an excellent job, if you were wondering). I HATE watching people I love hurt. I mean, doesn't everyone?

Also, I've been placed in situations that require a lot of patience. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I've been blessed with a fairly high tolerance level. It takes a lot for me to get annoyed. However, the last month I've had to deal with people and situations that seem to enjoy "tap dancing on my last good nerve." (Twitches quote. I haven't seen that movie in AGES.) This includes some people who are on my "annoy the nice out of me" list. It takes a LOT to be on that list. I decided before I saw them that I was going to be nice. More than be nice, I was going to be truly kind. I was going to love them. I was going to let the comments that would bug me roll off my back. You know what? I had fun. It was a much better experience than I expected it to be. I learned to be more gracious. I have to admit that by the end, I was getting tired, and I slipped a little. I had less fun. I was the only one who was unhappy. But I got to see - and more importantly, feel - the contrast. I learned that to make the "Year of Joy" a reality, I've got to make the choice to be patient and kind to others.

Another thing I've encountered is the countless hours of preparation I've had to do for school and the upcoming ACT (THIS SATURDAY. Prayers would be greatly appreciated) and SAT. I started prep two days after I got back from the UK. It was the beginning of August. It was still summertime! I was home! I was supposed to be lounging on a chair by the pool with my girlfriends, sleeping in, watching TV, reading fun books, and going to movies and parties with my friends! Whatever I was supposed to do, it was NOT spend time at MC working on SAT vocab words or at home taking practice ACT math sections. Gross. I bet you can see where this is going. I have a dream of going to college and surrounding myself with knowledge and wisdom. That's not going to happen unless I score well on these tests. Being a homeschooler, there is more weight on your test score in your application. I want to go to a good school with lots of opportunities for developing my mind, talents, and testimony. So, I got down to business to defeat the College Board. I've worked SO hard, I'm ready for vacatio- wait. School starts tomorrow. Just kidding! In all seriousness, the blessings of this hard work have been evident. I'm not just saying this. My ACT math scores were in the gutter at the beginning of August, and I had my last practice test before the real deal yesterday. I jumped SEVEN points. That isn't all because of me. I've had awesome teachers/tutors, parents, and the Lord on my side as I've undergone this journey. I'm actually excited for Saturday so I can see the fruits of my labors and the power of the Spirit as a guide. I can now co-sign the mantra "Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on Him - Because it does." (BONUS: I still got to do some of those fun things I had wanted to do! Yay for the blessing of multiplied time!)


Work + Attitude = Joy
Overall, as I've worked to keep my attitude positive, I actually have been happier. Things make more sense in school, my friendships are strong, and I'm able to feel the Holy Ghost with me more often. I've even lost some weight! Joy is contagious. All it takes is a smile. I'm thrilled with a new endeavor that some friends and I have taken on. It's called Operation: Positivity, and it's primary goal is to make people happier than they would've been otherwise. One of our "missions" (Well, it IS a special ops unit.), involves standing on a street corner with signs like the ones above, shouting things like "Have a great day! You deserve it!" or "Don't forget to smile - we need it!" or "You are awesome!" We look totally happy, because we are! You get the biggest rush seeing someone brighten up when they read your sign. Using O:P as an analogy, you can't be happy without work. It takes a deliberate decision to be happy, or start an organization. It requires some time figuring out what you want to do, making a plan of attack. It also needs some bravery and willingness to put yourself out there. It's scary making changes in your life, and it's scary standing on a street corner yelling. But it makes you so happy. It makes you joyful. It is legitimately the greatest feeling in the world. I hope that I will be able to keep this momentum going as I dive into my senior year. One month down, nine to go until graduation.

LET'S DO THIS.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Prayer from a Romantic.

As she lay there in bed, she wondered... What was it like to be in love? To fall in love? Was it a rush, like diving from the top of a tall building? Was it a warmth, like the kind that makes you want to close your eyes and drink it in? Was it an awakening, when suddenly the world is bright and the answers are clear? Maybe, she thought, I'll know one day. Maybe I'll be done waiting. Maybe I'll be done with the dangerous tightrope walk of finding love. In love. Falling in love. Maybe that's it. Maybe it's being brave enough to fling yourself from the tightrope. To fall. To fall in love. To sink into something real, something so sweet and pure that you want to drown in it - forever. Probably not perfect, but perfect enough. She began to drift into sleep. Maybe it's a shock. A moment of knowledge or feeling that overtakes every part of your body and soul. Soul. Two souls so in tune that they become one. One life, one purpose. "He's out there," she whispered to no one. Under the same sky. Cliche, maybe. But the vastness of the stars made her feel close to him. As dreams engulfed her, she murmured a sweet prayer for him, whoever he is.

Father, hear her prayer and the prayers of many others. Watch over future husbands everywhere so they may prepare themselves for the tender wives that are waiting for them.

A beautiful song titled Overjoyed by Matchbox Twenty puts her prayer into music in a way I could never. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's in the Journey...

I'm learning something right now. I'm at a preparatory stage in my life. I am preparing for the ACT/SAT, senior year, college, life on my own, my last year in mutual/HST, everything. I am hitting the books. I've been doing some kind of school work pretty much every weekday, and most Saturdays, this summer. It has been a lot of work and a lot of effort. Yet, I'm learning that just because you've got something big ahead of you doesn't mean you should ignore the little things happening now. It is so interesting how some people focus on the result so much that they belittle it by removing the meaning of the process. What I mean is, someone once told me once to "Find joy in the journey!" She is so right. The Olympians in London right now are so full of joy and excitement. They have all worked incredibly hard for YEARS before this month to prepare and train for their events. Do you think that it would mean as much for Michael and Misty if they hadn't loved the meets or tournaments that they had in high school or college? Being at the Olympics is awesome, but it is the journey that they will talk to their kids about, not as much the 4 minutes in the pool or 10 minutes on the court.

So, I've decided something. As a lover of road trips, I'm going to look at this upcoming school year as one. I've got to work SO hard, but I've also got to enjoy everything around me more. I'm going to go to the movies, go to dances, do silly things with my friends, and spend time with my family. I am going to be the most involved, most enthusiastic person that I can be. I am going to look at graduation not as a destination, but as a mile marker along this high speed highway. I'm grateful for everything I've been given, and I plan to make the most of my life for the glory of my Father in Heaven.

I'm starting by posting a picture that pretty much embodies this concept for me. A paint fight in a friend's backyard may be silly, but it's something that matters to me. It was so fun, and it is a memory of my senior year that I'll be talking about for ages.

I don't want to be that kid who doesn't do anything fun senior year, and I also don't want to be the kid who goes around shouting "YOLO!" I believe that there is a balance between work and play. It's called "happiness." Throw in a handful of worship, and you've got "joy." Senior year for me is going to be called "The Year of Joy." Why?

...Because I'm finding joy in the journey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Musical Moment: "For Good"

Today's Musical Moment is from an extremely popular musical - "For Good" from Wicked.

I chose this cliche song for MM today because I am reaching the end of an adventure. I have less than a week left here in Oxford. It has been a journey, a challenge, a blast, and a blessing. I have learned so much about myself and my abilities here. Actually, my testimony has grown so much. I haven't been able to go to sacrament meeting for several weeks, and I am the only LDS kid here, but I have felt such a profound and obvious presence of the Spirit. I have felt the love of my Father in Heaven. I've been strengthened in my testimony of prophets and apostles as proclaimers of the word of God. It's amazing.

....Buuut, I'm ready to go back to church.

Not only has just the general experience caused me to think of this song, but individual people here at ASA have entered my life, and I hope they remain in it for years to come. I have had so many fun times, deep conversations, insightful experiences, and giggles. I love so many people here, and I will miss them as we return to our various homelands all over the world.

Thank you.

"For Good"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Sister Question

Those of you who know me well know that I have brothers, and no sisters. I am the only female child of my parents. I am also the oldest, so I got to hope each time one of the boys was born that I might FINALLY get a sister. Ehh... I love my brothers, and I wouldn't trade them for girls.

Still, I have sisters. How, you may ask? Friends, Young Women, and little ones. I have to say that it is an honor to be able to interact with these beautiful girls.

I can't say that I know exactly what it's like to have biological sisters - I don't. But, these girls give me purpose. I have to set an example of what a young lady is - graceful, classy, motivated, kindhearted, do-ers. This means that I have to work. I have to develop myself into what I know those girls can be. It is a challenge for me.

I learn what I can from the older girls. I watch them (and idolize them, actually). The way that they behave impacts me SO MUCH. I want to like the things they like, and act the way they act. I'll admit it - there are times when I change what I'm doing because of them. This is what little sisters do. I don't know if these older girls will ever know how much I look up to them.

It is interesting to be a girl in this world. It is hard being placed under constant pressure to be "hot" and "sexy," or "strong" and "independent," or "refined" and "flawless." Basically, to be perfect. This pressure from the World is a lot.
 

The Sisterhood is consistently under attack. It doesn't only make us insecure about ourselves, but it makes us competitive with one another. This should push us in the opposite direction. We should be hanging on even tighter to each other. We should gather to stand in opposition to the World's ideals. This gathering is happening. I've seen it occur over and over again. Every time a girl walks into a room, smiling and confident, dressed appropriately for the situation. Every time I see a girl sitting by herself be greeted by a group of friends. Every time a young woman decides to dedicate herself to her education for self-betterment and the ability to serve others and educate her children. Every time a girl decides to work towards what "real woman" is: kind, virtuous, educated,  confident, classy, willing to love and serve, with "deep beauty" reflected on her face. (Check out "A Beauty Secret from a Boy" to learn what "deep beauty" is.) As we help one another become this kind of person, the Sisterhood is strengthened.


There is nothing so fulfilling as hearing a young woman you love and admire say "You're like a sister to me." Thank you for letting me be a small part of your life. Thank you for giving me the great honor of having you in my life. Thank you for your remarkable example. I love you!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Guy's Guide to Dating (GDD: Part 3)

Ok gents. I hope you didn't think you were getting out of this one. You may not want to hear this, but dating begins with you. YOU are responsible for making sure girls have an opportunity to let good dating happen.

"Young men generally take the initiative in asking for and planning dates." - For the Strength of Youth (2012 edition)

That's what it says, brother. You have a charge. It's scary, I know. I've asked guys out before. I feel your... not pain. Insecurity is a better word for it. Think about it this way: you think it's scary asking out your friend to play laser tag for an evening? Imagine how intimidating it will be when you ask the most amazing, beautiful girl in the world, who you love with all your heart and would do ANYTHING for, to be your wife for time and all eternity. Even though you know she'll say yes, it's scary. Better get some practice in putting yourself out there and doing things right. Even the girl you propose to will have to be asked out on a date BY YOU at some point. (Logically, right?)

Let me walk you through a scenario. The bold text is your scenario, and everything else is my commentary.

-You realize that you've got nothing to do next Friday. You talk to one of your guys, and decide that you want to do something different than just "chilling," playing video games and your guitars. You come up with the idea to ask two young ladies you know to a picnic.

                        First of all, good choice. You can hang out with the guys anytime, but this is the initiative we were talking about before. You'll need it outside of high school dating, at places like work and college, so it's good to develop it - it is a talent! Plus, girls find it really attractive.
                   
                       Also, you chose a picnic. It's cheap, fun, and no pressure. You don't have to worry about rides, and you know you'll have an opportunity to just talk.

- It is now Monday, and you are seeing Alison that day. When you see her a little off to the side, and not right in front of all her friends, you look her in the eye, smile and say "Hey, Alison. I was wondering if you were free Friday evening for a picnic. Jeff and I were thinking of getting a double together, and I'd love it if you would go with me."

                       Thank you for not asking in front of everyone! That makes it awkward, either because it looks like you're trying to show off, or if she isn't free, it's uncomfortable for her to decline and arrange another time with you. It doesn't have to be all secretive either, because... That's weird.

                      When you actually spoke, you gave her just what she needs to know. You told her the date (Friday), approximate time (evening), activity (picnic), that you were doubling, and that it was in fact a date! You smiled, made her feel special. Way to be.

- She accepts, and you have a date! You tell her "Great! I'm looking for to it. I'll see you at 5:30 at the park? Do you need a ride?"

                     Always check. Make sure she's clear right then the timing of everything, and that she'll have a way to get there. If your mom needs to drive both of you, that's fine. NO SHAME.

- It's now Thursday, and you have to make sure everything is going to happen. You check the weather to be sure it's not going to rain. You run with Jeff to the grocery store to get sandwich makings (and maybe some junk food). You gather the soccer ball and a blanket. You've got this. You are an ace.

                    That's pretty much it. By making sure everything is in place beforehand, you're guaranteeing that you will be able to relax and have fun on your date. You ARE an ace.

- Your date starts, and you are having a blast. You are talking to Alison, who is actually really different when you talk just to her without a huge group of people. You've already learned that she loves Kit Kats and hates Milky Ways, that she wants to be a doctor, and really wants to go to Africa on safari. She's really cute when she laughs and brushes her hair out of her eyes back behind her ear. You also learned that she can kick your butt in soccer. (No one else needs to know that.) Jeff and his date are a lot of fun too. The four of you are having a lot of fun. You haven't checked your phone, and you have just been talking to the people around you.

                  There is so much going right. A+. You are talking to the people present, and not to anyone on your phone or the "textline." You are doing things according to plan, but left it flexible enough to do what you felt like. You are paying the most attention to your date, and not to Jeff, or worse, Jeff's date. (DON'T EVER HIT ON SOMEONE ELSE'S DATE.) You are just having fun. That is what dating is.

- When it's time to leave, you give her a hug, and say "Thanks so much for going out with me, Alison. I had an awesome time. It was a lot of fun. Maybe next time, we should go to the baseball game! I'll see you around. Thanks again!"

Yes, you THANK HER. The girl didn't have to go out with you. You read that right - You hug her. Don't try to force anything more on her. You went on one group date - don't make things weird. If later on, you've gone on a few more dates with her, you can go for a kiss, but remember: Dating is not to get a girlfriend.

A note on the physical stuff: I know you know that guys and girls are different. They place different meaning on physical affection. I hate to break this to you, but girls vary as well. To one girl, holding hands may be a way of saying "I like you and I'm having fun with you," while to another it may mean "I love you, and this is a sign of commitment." A kiss may be "Thank you for an awesome time, and I really like spending time with you," while to someone else it means "I want to be with you forever." Just be wary about what kind of message you want to send. Some girls want to save their first kiss for over the alter, and some girls throw their lips around, looking for someone to kiss. (Stay away from those girls... Nothing but trouble.)


Well guys, I'm almost done with you. I want to give one little speech before you hit that red X on the upper righthand corner.

Although every girl should be treated with respect, not every girl deserves the young man that you are now and have the potential to be. Remember that. You are an amazing person, who is trying his best to be someone good. You have talents, you have LOADS of potential. You don't get the self-esteem speech as much as girls do, and I think that's terrible. You are working now to be someone who can hold a job, support a family, AND have fun. You may not be thinking about it all the time, but if you sat and thought hard for a little while, you'd realize you have some goals and dreams that you want to achieve. Not every girl will be able to help you get there. I know I say "it's just high school," and "dating is about fun and friendships," but seriously. Do you think that some of these girls will help you be the MAN that you want and can be? They are distractions. They do not deserve you. They will hold you back. Have fun, be chill, but be careful. The people you surround yourself with now will impact who you will become. Besides, your future wife is out there. You are going to think that she is the most amazing person ever (because she is!), and are you going to want to tell her about your manslut ways in high school? Of course not. Basically it comes down to don't be a jerk. Ask girls out. Have fun. Learn a lot. Put yourself out there. Be rejected a few times - it's normal and healthy. It sucks, but it's okay. Make some girls you know smile. Be the kind of man that you want to be.

Think about it.


Questions/Comments? Comment below or send me a message - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Girl's Guide to Dating (GDD: Part 2)

Back to the dating series! (I'm starting with the girls, but guys, you may want to read this too.) I know I say that proper dating begins when a young man takes initiative and asks a girl out, but, ladies, there has been some not-so-great dating going on on our part too. I'm going to break things down and give you just a few guidelines to help you out.

1. Accepting and Declining.
So, a boy asked you out. How do you feel? Excited? Flattered? Anxious? Repulsed? Confused? Maybe you feel a mixture of these emotions. That's okay. It may be very new to you. It can be intimidating. You may not have been expecting it at all! You have approximately 4.3 seconds to come up with your answer. (I just made up that number.) What do you say?!

Say yes. Unless you have a valid reason to decline, (which we will discuss below) you should pretty much always say yes. Ask him then what the plan is - what day, if he's driving or you're meeting somewhere, what the activity is (so you know how to dress), who else may be there, etc.

To accept, say something along the lines of "Thanks so much for asking, Tom! I'd love to! What is the plan?"

Invalid reasons for declining:
- You don't like him "like that."
- He's "just a friend."
- He's too awkward.
- You don't want to date him.
- You think he's joking.
- You don't want to be in a "relationship."
             If you don't know why these are invalid reasons, please refer to "The Great Dating Dilemma - Part 1"

Reasons why you may decline:
- You have prior plans.
- You're grounded.
                   If either of these are the case, say "Thank you so much for asking, Tom, but I can't go out that day. Is there another time that you'd like to go out?" and continue to arrange other plans. If you say "I'm busy," guys will assume that you don't want to go out and NEVER ASK YOU AGAIN. Seriously.

- You already have a date. (In the case of dances and such.)
                 Again, thank him for his invitation. Apologize that you can't go with him, and ask him if he'd like to go out some other time. He may not get his prom photos with you, but you can still have fun together another day.

- Going on a date with him would make you feel unsafe.
                I'm serious about this one. If a boy makes you worry about your physical or spiritual well being, just decline. Thank him for his invitation, and tell him you cannot go. Do not make up an excuse about being out of town or something. Just say you can't go that evening or that your parents don't want you going to that party or concert. i.e. "Thanks for thinking of me, Jeff, and I'm flattered, but I can't go to that concert - it's past my curfew."

- He's your best friend's ex-boyfriend. (This one I think is a valid reason. Don't break the Sister Code.)
               If he asks you out, give him a look. That's all you need to do. If you choose to accept, go for it. High school shouldn't be super intense anyway. These things are always more complicated than they should be.

- Your parents do not want you to be out with him.
               Go ahead and blame it on your parents. Thank him, of course, but say that your parents don't want you going. It's not your fault, and there is nothing wrong with letting him know that.

- He is actually repulsive. (i.e. Doesn't shower or do laundry, coughs all over you, eats like a pig, and doesn't brush his teeth.)
               I'm reasonable.

If you are uncomfortable being alone with him, but want to be kind and accept, ask him then who you will be doubling with. That brings up the subject without being rude or pushy. i.e. "Thanks for asking me out, Tom! I'm excited! Who are we doubling with? I have a friend who I know could get a date."


2. Preparing.
Make sure you know what the plan is. Nothing is worse that getting somewhere and realizing that you are dressed totally inappropriately for the activity. Also, your parents will be more comfortable letting you go if you say, "Tom and I are going to the park for a picnic. I'll let you know if anything changes," than if you say, "I'm going out with Tom. See you later tonight!" Besides, if you know the plan, you will have less awkwardness milling around than if you didn't have an activity planned.

3. The Date.
 Once you're there, remember: you are on a date with this young man. It is your job to keep your full attention on him. Do not text your friends, do not check out other guys, do not act like you wish you were anywhere but there. If it's a double or a group, do not spend the whole night chatting with your girlfriends. They didn't ask you out. He did. Have fun! Don't worry too much about what he's doing, or what he meant by that remark - most of the time, he meant exactly what he said. Just relax. He's your friend already. Take this as an opportunity to get to know him better. Is he different in a one-on-one conversation than he is when he's part of the crew "hanging out?" Does he have a dream or hobby that surprises you? Probably. Just talk. I can't say this enough: HAVE FUN. That's what dating is for.

Paying: If he asked you out, expect him to pay. If you asked him out, be prepared to pay, but accept if he offers. Allow him to be the gentleman he has the potential to be.
4. Afterwards.
Once he drops you off, or you turn to leave, give him a hug and thank him once again for asking you and giving you an excellent evening. If it's awkward and the rest of your group is there, thank him in person, but also send a text or a message saying once again how much fun you had. The next time you see him, act totally normal. PLEASE don't be one of those girls who think that everything is going to change because you went on a date with this boy. Just be chill. Don't be offended if he doesn't ask you out again right way. It's nothing personal. He just, like you, wants to get to know all sorts of people.


Ok. So, what if you like him?

First, accept politely as stated above.

Secondly, get home, go to your room, shut the door, and have a little jam session. Just jump around and be excited. HE ASKED YOU OUT! There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating.

Third, keep in mind the reality of the situation: you are young, he is young. You don't need seriousness right now. The goals are friendship and fun times.

If you have a boy who you like, and he likes you as well, then you are a lucky one, aren't you? Don't feel like you can only go on first dates. You can go on more than one, two, three dates with the same person without being in a "relationship." You could hold hands and be cute without "long-term commitment." I may sound like a terrible person, but this is realistic. Do not try to pull a boy into a "relationship" right now. It makes things messy. Take this time to learn the basics of dating so you don't screw things up when you start looking into marriage. Most young women, as wonderful as they are, don't know how to say yes or no to a date, let alone know how to handle the ups and downs of a "relationship." Just make sure that you are on the same page as your "Tom".

Dating is complicated, with many variables. It would be impossible for me to cover every scenario or situation that could occur. I hope that you ladies find this helpful (and maybe some of you guys find it insightful). Dating is complicated, yes, but it is also wonderful. It is so much fun! Spending time with a good friend is and should be fantastic.

Think about it.

Questions or comments? Please send me a message or comment below! I'd love to hear your opinion.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Great Dating Dilemma - Part 1

Rejection. Tears. Drama. Ruined friendships. Anger. Cold shoulders. Whispers. Gossip. Insecurity. Vulnerability. Awkwardness.

These are all risks that come with high school dating. Let me tell you - they suck. Not just for you, but for the person you were dealing with, your friends and their friends (which are normally the same people), and family members on both sides.

BUT DON'T WORRY. There are precautions you can take to avoid these issues. Don't let these scare you into not dating. That is something that is occurring more and more often in our culture now. People come up with the best excuses not to date. How many times have you heard these lines?

"Well, I would ask her out, but I can't drive yet."
"He's nice enough, but he's my FRIEND! I could never date him!"
"She's not ready for commitment."
"I'm not ready for commitment."
"She would expect so much from me! There's no way I can live up to her ideals of the 'perfect boyfriend.'"
"Well, I couldn't tell if he was joking or not, so, I said no."
"He won't ask me out!"
"He's shorter than me. It would never work."
"He's too... bland. I can't be with someone who can't like that."
"I don't like her."
"I could never be more than friends. Why lead him on?"
"I don't have any money."


I am going to address each of these statements. This is the first in a mini-series I'm doing on dating. One of my friends told me to wait until I left for England to start this one; just to be sure nothing gets awkward after I open my soul and share my dating philosophy. It is frustrating to watch this generation (MY generation) screw up dating. Come on, guys. Think it through. I have a very different idea of what "dating" means than popular culture does. I am going to break it down for you.

A date is made up of 1 or more couples spending time together to get to know one another better and to have fun at a pre-determined time. Simple. No one said anything about "relationships" or "commitment" or "pressure." That makes dating unnecessarily complicated. If a boy and a girl go into an evening both knowing this purpose, they can spend less time trying to analyze each others' moves and motives, and more time actually having fun.

Now on to the excuses...

1. "Well, I would ask her out, but I can't drive yet."

Guess what? You don't need to drive. Sure, it may be more impressive if you can, and you will have more freedom to change plans. Still, there is NO shame WHATSOEVER in having your mom or older sibling drive you to a date. It is not an issue to meet your date wherever you're going. You asked her out, didn't you? My bet would be that she'll be too excited to notice that you're not driving. Especially in places where a graduated license system is in place; she will understand that the laws make it impossible for you to drive her right now.

2. "He's nice enough, but he's my FRIEND! I could never date him!"

This one bugs me a lot. He's your friend? Oh that's nice... Maybe that's why he wants to spend time with you! Ladies, no one is asking you to continually, or steady, date a young man who asks you out. If he had the guts to ask you out, he obviously thinks you're pretty cool, and he just wants to spend time with you without the rest of the gang. Maybe he does like you. MAKE HIS WORLD. You don't have to go out with him over and over again, or hold his hand, or kiss him, or be his girlfriend. But, if he's nice, and he's your friend - go out with him. Unless he is absolutely terrible, he should at least get one date. Just be smart.

3. "She's not ready for commitment"/"I'm not ready for commitment."

These statements are both correct. No teenager is ready for the type of commitment that is required for the "relationships" we aspire to have. Why should that keep us from dating? Remember the definition of a date above- nothing involving commitment (except showing up on time). If you only will date people in high school that you think will lead to long and happy relationships, you are not going to date much. Why isolate yourself from learning what you want and don't want in the person you end up with? It brings you one step closer to finding that person with whom you will live happily ever after. In the meantime, make friends and have fun. High school is about learning who the heck you are, and the qualities you want in a long term companion can only be discovered once you know your strengths and weaknesses.
 "Commitment" is so over used in high school dating.

4. "She would expect so much from me! There's no way I can live up to her ideals of the 'perfect boyfriend.'"

Read number 3 once more. Take a breath. This one is lame. Have you talked with this young lady to know what she wants from dating right now?  Maybe you've heard her talk to her girlfriends about all the sweet things she wants a guy to do for her. That doesn't mean she expects it to be you. I mean, I tell my girlfriends about how my life is going to be once I inherit a million dollars and marry Richard Armitage. How likely is that? (Next to impossible.) But, that doesn't mean I expect the boy I go out with a few times in high school to be a Hollywood hunk or a period drama god. I expect him to be a teenage boy - who will mess up sometimes, but just be a good friend.

5. "Well, I couldn't tell if he was joking or not, so, I said no."

If you can't tell - ALWAYS SAY YES. That'll teach him not to joke like that again. Besides, he now has a date with you! Lucky chap.  If you can't tell if he's joking, he's probably only half-joking. Asking someone out can be scary, even if they're your friend and you know they'll say yes. It. Is. Terrifying. Using the "Haha... I was just joking" line is a way to defend their pride and hide insecurity. Just assume he's asking you out.

You might be surprised, gentlemen, how often I hear this one, especially with prom. Now you know what I told the girls... Don't actually joke about this, or you'll end up with a date you weren't expecting.

6. "He won't ask me out!"

Then ask HIM out! Some guys have no idea in their adorable minds that you want to go on a date with them! They just don't think about it. Ask him out, and have fun. NO SHAME. Some of my best dates have been when I asked my date. Then you get to plan it too! If you're really nervous, get a girlfriend to ask someone, and double. It's actually a whole lot of fun.

7. "He's shorter than me. It would never work."

Come on. Remember - no one is asking you to go steady with the guy. No one wants you to marry him. GO HAVE FUN WITH HIM. He had the guts to get past his insecurity and ask you out. Please move past your vanity and learn to see him for the person he is inside, not the way he looks to your friends.

8. "He's/She's too... bland. I can't be with someone like that."

Think about this seriously for a second. By "bland", do you mean "good?" Or "sweet?" Or "responsible?" Remember how guys always complain how girls like "bad boys", and girls whine about guys chasing "skanks?" It's true. I've been saying over and over again how high school dating should be about self-discovery and making long-lasting friendships. If this is the case, why would you shun those who would actually treat you with respect and be a good friend? They may not be that Hollywood dream guy/girl, but they are real. Think about it.

9. "I don't like her."

Maybe not now, you don't. Have you noticed how I haven't said a single thing about dating someone you have a genuine crush on? Let me explain. There is nothing wrong with liking someone, or multiple someones. It's age appropriate. This is a big reason why teenagers shouldn't attempt "long -term relationships." You may like one person one day, and another person another day. Of course, this is a general, and there are exceptions. There are teenagers who are so loyal that they struggle liking someone new after liking someone for a long time, just because it's weird not liking person one. There are also people who meet in high school who end up getting married and have long, happy, successful relationships. Those people are champs. In teenage dating, there is nothing wrong with going on dates with someone you like. Just don't try to lock things in place. Date multiple people, but don't be in a "relationship" with multiple people. Keep things light. High school is fun. Don't let "relationship" drama ruin that for you. This means that even if you don't like the person, you can go out with them for a night and have fun with a friend.

There was a study done a few years ago, and the results found that guys were more romantic than girls. This means that guys were more likely to fall in love, and do so quicker. Girls were more tentative with their hearts, but once in love, loved longer.

This means that guys, you may like a girl one day and think that you are going to marry her and be with her forever. Don't say that to her. Chances are you're going to be over her and into a new babe in a little while. It's just the way your high school brains are wired. (It's not an excuse to be a player. Be smart please.)

Girls, don't give all of you. If you are hearing "I love you"'s and "I want to be with you forever"'s from a guy, feel flattered, but don't read too much into it. His brain is ADD, and if you don't believe it, you will end up hung up on somebody that you used to know. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

*NOTE: This is really bad "relationship" advice. It is not intended for people in "committed relationships." It is good advice for teenagers looking for dating and not DATING.*

10. "I could never be more than friends. Why lead him on?"

If you've read this whole post, and are still wondering my opinion on this one, you weren't paying attention. There is no need to be "more than friends" right now. I mean, you can have friends, good friends, and good friends (if you know what I mean), but why do you need a boyfriend or girlfriend? It's a lot of work. If you don't want to lead him on, don't hold his hand or kiss him. Don't say things to him that would be interpreted as you liking him. (Not that all guys read a ton into this, but some definitely do. I'm friends with a few.) I know this is a lot to ask of high schoolers, but just be smart.

11. "I don't have any money."

Dates don't have to cost money! Make a picnic and bring a soccer ball. Go to an outdoor movie in the summer. Heart attack your friends' houses. Have a photo shoot in ridiculous outfits. Document the adventures of an invisible man. Write a song. Build a fort. Have a mud fight. Play with water guns. Watch a movie and make sassy commentary, or turn off the sound and add your own dialogue. Dating can be so fun. Just go have fun! Don't worry about drama. Drama only happens when there is a misunderstanding or lack of communication from the start.


WOW. You have finished a novel-length post. Congrats! Look out for Part 2 and Part 3, which will be "How-To" guides for girls and guys. I will get to them ASAP, because, well, this is a fun topic.

Think about it.


Comments or questions?? I would love your imput! Send me a message or comment below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Musical Moment: "Bring Him Home"

Today's song is "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables. It's a beautiful piece. The character of Valjean is at the barricades, praying for his adopted daughter's lover. All he wants is for Marius to live through the night to be with Cosette. It is applicable to the way our Savior felt during his time on earth. He sang a prayer for each and every individual. He loves us more than I can describe.

Isaiah 53:3-7, 10, 12.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
 But he was awounded for our btransgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his cstripes we are dhealed.
 All we like asheep have gone bastray; we have turned every one to his cown way; and the Lord hath laid on him the diniquity of us all.
 He was aoppressed, and he was bafflicted, yet he copened not his mouth: he is brought as a dlamb to the eslaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
 Yet it pleased the Lord to abruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an boffering for sin, he shall see his cseed, he shall prolong his days, and the dpleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
...and he bare the sin of many, and made cintercession for the transgressors

For AD.
"Bring Him Home":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsYnhVITf9E

Friday, May 25, 2012

Musical Moments: Intro

I am a musical theatre kid. I'm pretty sure most of you know that already. Music means something to me, and the reason I love musical theatre is that the songs tell a story. They are emotionally motivated. They are constantly moving forward. They can be inspiring. They can be just plain fun. They speak to people. That's what they are written for. This motivated me to create...

A new series! I will be posting a song from a musical with a short blurb on what it means to me. They will be titled "Musical Moment." This should be a lot of fun... I'm excited.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Junior Year's Over?

This school year:

- I caught the Black Death in school. No joke. There are pictures. (Okay, actually it was just facepaint...)

- I starred in a production of "Lord of the Rings in Five Minutes." I was the Ring. Best role I've ever had. Ok, maybe I wasn't the star. Fine, I was a prop. :)

- I saw The Lion King, Les Miserables, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Newsies on Broadway or National Tours.

- I was in the best tap class ever. We had more fun than anyone else. FACT. We also got to be edgy - we tapped to a Bach piece.

- I met Maesa. That girl is my soul sister.

- I went to another Owl City concert. This time, it was at the 9:30 Club in DC, and Maria came with me to jam and eat veggie burgers.

- I stormed the Bastille. It set off the smoke alarm.

- I went to the 1000 for Life rally outside the abortion clinic. We ended up with more than 2000 prayer warriors there, and saved lives of babies and mothers!

- I discovered I like He is We, Days Difference, First Aid Kit, Foster the People, Hellogoodbye, Ron Pope (Thanks Ben!), Kimbra (Thanks Maesa!), and random 80's bands.

- I went to NYC for a bunch of fun weekends. I am so comfortable there. I love it.  :)

- I took AP European History, AP Environmental Science, and AP Human Geography. They were so fun! The tests went well too. (Thank you, God!)

- I started watching Merlin, Sherlock, Community, Spy, and Hawaii 5-O (Original).

- I got addicted to 16 Handles. Froyo foevah.

- I fell in love... with demography. Human population is SO interesting. You may have seen the impact of this in prior posts.

- My dad started working in NYC. It's been awesome. I've loved going up there all the time and having adventures. I miss Dad sometimes, but we get to talk to him a lot on Skype and on the weekends.

- I was in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." THAT was a true adventure, and I'm so grateful I was able to be a part of it.

- I was a part of some super fun photo shoots with Bethany and other awesome friends.

- I saw Maddie baptized! Greatest thing. I love that girl.

- I went to my first midnight showing of a movie: The Hunger Games.

- I hung out with the best friends any girl could ever have. SGA <3

- I danced in the rain.

Generally, this school year, I feel like I've gotten so much older than just a few months. I have learned a boatload, which is one reason I'm so grateful I followed the prompting to start this blog. I have learned to accept what others have to offer. I have learned that sometimes being all sunshine and daisies can be an issue. To clarify, being too much like Jane Bennett can be a problem. I've learned to stick up for myself in friendships and relationships. I've learned that giving is important, but not to "cast my pearls before swine." Not everyone is going to want what I have to offer. Still, there are plenty of people who love me for who I am and who they see I can become. The best part is that they will help me become that person I can be. I've learned how to handle friendships ending (Step 1. 3 days of mourning. Step 2. Shave your legs. It works). I've defined my standards. I've made mistakes and won victories. Some friendships have ended, but I've been blessed with people who can teach me so much more than they could at this point in my life. I'm so lucky!

Again, I say that I feel so blessed to have had the school year I had. It was like a rollercoaster, the lower the lows, the higher the next high. I loved it. I pray that I will be able to take the things I've learned and apply them to my self betterment.

Have a blessed summer!
S

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"You're Way Too Concerned."

I feel the need to explain something quickly:

If I worry about you, it's because I love you. I'm not trying to be condescending, rude, controlling, or your mom. I just love you. I get concerned because I see your potential. I see the light in your eyes, and I can get frustrated when you don't live up to it. I understand it may seem like a lot of pressure, and you're not accountable to me. It's personal life choices between you and Heavenly Father (sometimes your parents too). If I am your friend, though, that means that I have a responsibility to you to help you be the best person you can be. That is my job. You have the responsibility to do so for me as well. I expect constructive criticism. Let me emphasize: CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. I have gotten quite a lot of gaff the last few days from people that was not constructive at all - just mean. Please be careful about what you say. You never know how it affects people. Maybe one day I'll let you know some of the ways I have been impacted by what people say, but it's a little too raw right now. I'm definitely not perfect, and I make mistakes, but let me be the best friend I can be.

Lots of love,
S

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Quality Time Love Language: Not Just a Cliche.

Ok. This is my second post on one of the five love languages. They make people so much less confusing. Here we go:

Quality time is a real love language. Most people are at least a little bit of a quality time speaker. Still, it is some people's primary love language. (I happen to be bilingual: physical touch and quality time.) What does quality time mean? "Quality time is giving someone your undivided attention." (5lovelanguages.com) Ok, sounds simple enough, right? Then why do so many people struggle with it? It's a love language that is taken for granted, and is often brushed off as a cliche. Don't fall into this trap. Everyone deserves to be spoken to in their love language.

1. Spending time together.
Duh. QT speakers want to spend time with the people they love. They can't get enough of them. That means that if you don't see them often, make an effort to set aside a time when you can hang out with them. This is SO important. Taking a few hours to hang out with them is the same as giving a Gift Speaker an expensive present. I don't want to say that QT speakers are simple, because to them, time isn't simple. Time is a valuable commodity that isn't renewable (Thank you, APES.) It's limited and precious. The fact that you gave some of yours to them is so meaningful to them. Them giving some of theirs to you is the same to them again as giving you that expensive present.

2. Conversation.
Now, just being with the person isn't often what they have in mind. A QT will want to talk to you about their life - their likes and dislikes, the events, fears, goals, etc. Not everyone likes to talk about these things. QT speakers do. Not only should you at least listen, but try to share in return. That trust is something they crave. It's not just being there with them - it's also looking in their eyes and showing them you're interested.

3. Make spending time with them a priority.
If you want to have a close relationship with a QT, you're going to have to make choices about how you spend your time. If you think you're busy, guess what? So are they. They just make spending time with their loved ones a priority. They may choose spending time with them over other opportunities or things they may enjoy (like, sleep, or watching that show they've been counting down to). You mean that much to them. Don't abuse that.

4. Commitments.
This means that most QT speakers make plans and are hurt if people blow them off. I can think of a few times when my heart was broken by friends backing out of plans last minute. They didn't mean to hurt me, it wasn't anything personal, but try telling that to a QT speaker. It may not be personal, but that's how they take it. It's like the PT speaker with "play fighting." Keep your promises. It again is showing that you care enough about your QT to value their time.


Basically, QT speakers need you to realize that you are important to them. You can't "buy" their love with a gift or a letter. Relationship wise, a date is so much better than a gift. The fact that you would drop whatever you were doing in their time of need is so precious to them. I am a QT speaker, and I personally know how much it hurts to be stood up, and what it feels like to have people come to you as soon as they can when you need them. I love photographs, because it helps me remember those times I spent with friends. Some of my friends ask me how I remember every time we spent together, and it is because it's valuable to me. If you just "forget" a happy time, it says to a QT how little it mattered to you. I save memories like some people save notes and cards.

This is who I am. It may be who you are. It is probably someone you know. Be sensitive and look for ways to express love in a way that your loved one will understand.

Think about it.


For more on the Five Love Languages, including the love language assessment test, go to www.5lovelanguages.com.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Why Didn't You Leave?!"

"Because... you said we were friends."

So, I start with a Community quote today. People have a limited vocabulary these days. In general, they don't know enough words to completely express their thoughts. They have to repeat words over and over again. The ironic thing, then, is the total lack of respect and reverence for words that should have meaning, such as "love", "promise", or "friend." One reason why there is so much drama in the world is that people don't know the meanings of these words. If people realized that words have meaning beyond the superficial, the world would be a better place. Friendship is worth more than just someone you hang out with. Love is more than just someone you make out with or have dinner with. A promise is more than saying you'll do something if it's convenient.

It is all a matter of simple economics. If you print too much money, the value of each dollar goes down. If you use a word too much, its value decreases.

The fact that we use the term "friend" on Facebook to refer to people we pass in hallways or met "one time at this party" belittles the real meaning of "friendship." I have friends I would die for. I have friends who have dropped everything to come be with me on a horrible day. I have friends whose Eagle projects I have worked HOURS on. I have friends with whom I exchange birthday gifts with even though we didn't have parties. I have friends who hate the guy who hurt me more than I do. THOSE are my friends. Can we please bring the term "acquaintance" back into everyday use? That what you call people you know from a dance, or a class, or someone you didn't really talk to at a summer camp.

Promises are another issue today. In the scriptures, you can see examples of times when battles ended because one side promised the other that they would never attack again. Another time, leaders of an army refused to make a promise that they would never battle the other again, because they knew their people would not be able to keep it. They did this even though their lives were on the line. Promises used to be a big deal. If someone promised something, they did it. End of story. There just isn't that level of integrity today. I've written a lot about honesty and integrity recently, so feel free to browse April's posts to find my two cents.

"Love". Jordan from Messy Monday has some great things to say in his video Like vs. Love. (He's a little excited in this video, so don't let it throw you off.) He's 100% right, though. People struggle with being able to distinguish when to use "like" and when to use "love." It's really too bad. It leads to all sorts of problems. How do you tell friends you actually care a great deal about that you love them when you just said that you "loved" that new gum you just tried? Yeah, not going to happen. Another problem is one that teenagers are facing now. How do you tell that special person that you care for them more than just "friends." Teenagers should NOT be telling each other that they are "in love." I'm sorry, but it leads to misunderstanding and confusion. I believe that real "teen romantic love" exists and happens, but that's the small minority of the time. The problem we have now is that they use the word "love" cheaply, and then have to resort to physical means to express deeper feeling. That leads to problems of its own. Can't we learn from Melville's "Billy Budd" and recognize that nothing good ever comes when words are taken away??

I wish everyone would read this and understand where I'm coming from. The quote in the title reminds me of a situation I was recently in. It was not the first time and it certainly won't be the last. That's the problem with trying hard to bring the true meanings of these words back - you sometimes get messed with by people who don't understand. But hey, you'll find people who are true friends, who love you dearly, and will keep the promises they make to you. I know that.

Think about it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

weorþnes.

Starting to see a theme this month? Entirely unintentional. Might as well make the most of it.

One thing I've learned in my life is the value of integrity. What is "integrity?" Well, dictionary.com says:




in·teg·ri·ty/inˈtegritē/

Noun:
  1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided: "territorial integrity".
Synonyms:
honesty - probity - entirety - rectitude - wholeness

We'll focus more on the first one right now. "Having strong moral principles...." That reminds me of Merlin, and Prince Arthur. I think of the Knights of Camelot - willing to lay down their lives for the abstract concepts of justice, honor, loyalty, love. Arthur is willing to run straight into danger time after time. Lancelot is willing to sacrifice his life for the safety of others. Merlin lives a life of constant danger and secrecy because of a promise he made to Arthur, Giaus, the Dragon, and himself.



Enough being a nerd, the point is that they are examples of integrity. They believe something, and stand up for it, even when their lives are on the line.

I believe that integrity isn't just something in "a land of myth and a time of magic" (...And I said I was done being a nerd - DANG IT). I believe that it exists in our world. I believe that it is a talent that must be developed. I know that every person is on a different place on the journey. Still, I think that people should NEVER sell their integrity because of cowardice. The Abraham Lincoln quote I have in the previous post (titled I-N-T-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-O-N) declares that not only telling a lie is dishonest, but hiding the truth is as well. It's not only dishonest, but is immature and cowardly. Harsh? Maybe so. But I believe in telling people what they deserve to hear. Things are so much better when people are honest.

Think about it.


P.S. Is it ironic that "integrity" in Old English is a strong feminine noun? No.




Monday, April 23, 2012

I-N-T-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-O-N

I have so much to write about, and no idea where to start. Here's an intro to the next post:

"Silence makes cowards of the best men." - Abraham Lincoln

Ooo... Curious? You should be. Catch me next time with: "Why Silence Isn't Always the Key to Happiness."

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Thought for Today

"A man has not only a right to express his thoughts, but it is his duty to do so." - Percy Shelley

Next time someone asks your opinion of something - give it! It's your responsibility to stand up for what you believe.  Remember to take time to THINK. Raise your voice. Make a difference.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I've Got A Dream...

I've been letting things go. I'm going to have totally different experiences. I'm letting go of some relationships that aren't working out. I'm picking myself up and "marchin' on." (Nod to OneRepublic.) And I started realizing things about myself that I never noticed before. Most importantly, I figured out dreams that I had not been acknowledging. Wow. That's a lot. Not that these people and things were holding me back, but I was holding myself to a certain direction for them.

A dream I realized: I want to start a school.

I want to buy an old estate with a big house and a stable and start a school. I want there to be "houses" like in Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables. I want to teach the Classics.I want there to be music, art, geography, history, government, theatre - things that sometimes get overlooked. I want my science classes to be balanced, with opportunity to learn science without worrying about politics. I want girls to learn horseback riding, archery, and baking, and the boys to learn fencing, home-repair, and outdoor skills. Everyone learns basic cooking, ballroom dancing, and swimming.  I want to have respect, responsibility, and fun all on the same level of importance. I want to create a place where kids can run around and have fun, and think that learning is fun and exciting. (Which it totally is.) A place where they can think seriously about their futures without feeling pressured to take paths that aren't for them. A place where the trades are just as valuable as college. I want a place where kids are presented with information, and they can decide what to do with it, and learn how to form their own opinions. I love the dream of it. I hope I can create this place, even on a small scale for my kids or students.

See the things you learn about yourself when you move on? Sometimes it's painful, but it may be surprising what you discover when you shove off from the familiar shore.

Peace from the East,
S

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jumping Jacks

I've got a concept for a TV show! This is what the reviews will say when it comes out:

"Jumping Jacks" is a quirky program packed full of personality. It follows the lives of 6 teenagers; Ashley, Camille, Livy, Calvin, Carter, and Brandon. The pilot episode establishes the characters as they cope with their friends' graduation, leaving them behind.

Ashley is a spirited firecracker, always in for a laugh or a good time. That intensity can be turned against her when she is faced with drama or disappointments. She is an unknowing flirt, and that sometimes can get her into trouble.

Camille is the blond beauty. She is sweet and looks out for her friends. She is the oldest of the group, and yet is the one who claims to have no idea how to how to talk to boys, although they admire her anyway. She can play a handful of sports very well also. If we didn't love her, we'd be so jealous of her.

Livy is a dork who loves history and writing. She loves the stage and anything British. She sometimes enjoys taking a step back and just watching the rest of the group interact. She hates seeing anyone of her friends hurt, and can be the momma bear if necessary. She also is one who loves giving advice, although sometimes the group doesn't really want it.

Calvin is the mathematical genius of the group. He can calculate numbers in his head in a flash. He seems quiet, and for parts of the episode, you start to forget he's there. Then, out of the blue, he'll give a one-liner that leaves your sides aching, and you realize why you couldn't live without him.

Carter is a heartthrob. (Look out teen population of America!) He is a total flirt, but not a jerk. Sometimes, he surprises with another dimension to his character, such as revealing that he performs Shakespeare or listens to the boy band that all the tween girls are obsessed with. Still, he's a boy's boy, tackling the other guys or frequently calling people "boob", and then giving this little smile he can't hold back.

Lastly, Brandon is the best friend that every girl wishes for. He listens, asks for advice, and knows how to have fun. He always wears his heart on his sleeve, which can sometimes lead to drama. We predict that Brandon will have a huge following as well. We foresee a "Team Carter". "Team Brandon", and "Team Calvin" type battle in the very near future.

We found it interesting that the kids are never shown in a high school. They will refer to "classes" or "homework", but never talk about their school sports teams or rivalries. The group is very musical, with Calvin and Ashley playing the piano, Brandon playing guitar, Carter plays the bass, and the girls sing. All of the kids - except Calvin - participate in a community theatre program that they mention. We hope that there will be an episode or two showing us that side of them!

The relationships between each of the kids are interesting and complex. Although they love each other dearly, the very real sisterhood between Livy and Ashley sometimes leads to conflict and competitiveness. The "will they, won't they?" back and forth of Ashley and Brandon. The continuing flirtation between Carter and Camille. (Although they are the youngest and oldest of the group. We don't see that going anywhere.) It goes on and on.

The choice of "Lights" by Ellie Goulding for the theme song was an interesting one, although we approve after watching the show. The feeling of being part of a group of kids gives this show an addicting quality. We can't wait to see where "Jumping Jacks" will take us!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reality is a Lovely Place

Why do I love reading?? Well, I've always had an overactive imagination. I've always been able to take a situation and run with it in my head. This is a blessing and a curse. I can conjure up pretty much anything, and is a lot of fun! I can see the positive outcomes to a seemingly bleak situation, and see possible solutions. It makes being in theatre really fun, too. Downsides: Sometimes I get lost in my head. I can sit quietly for a veeeery long time. People don't understand where I'm coming from sometimes, because it's so out there. I become attached to fiction - a book, movie, person I've created. It reminds me of Beatrice Potter, who wrote Peter Rabbit. She called her characters her friends. The worst is when someone I know in my Imagi Nation is an awful lot like someone I know in real life. Then, I see the possibilities of who they can become, or who I'd like them to be.

Have you ever been to Disney World? Or had a great show run? Or gone on an epic vacation? Or had an awesome summer? Remember that feeling you had when whatever it was ended? That feeling of emptiness or disappointment is what I feel EVERY STINKING TIME I READ A BOOK. It's deep and personal, and it's like a good friend has just moved away, or we had a falling out. That feeling that you just need to give them a last hug before they leave, but you can't. (I definitely can't, because... they're not... real.)

....And then they turn the book into a movie. It happens all over again. It's almost worse if the actor looks at all like I imagined the character. This is the case with The Hunger Games. I fell in love with Peeta Mellark the moment he stepped up next to Katniss at the Reaping. It got worse as I continued reading all three books. I just always felt close to him. I could see us walking around District 12 or Rockville Town Center... Me giving him advice on how to deal with Katniss, him giving me cookies and great hugs. Is that terrible? It's probably because Peeta reminds me of several of my friends rolled into one amazing guy. It definitely doesn't help that Josh Hutcherson is attractive. 
It's awesome to be able to put yourself into a story so effectively. The Hunger Games was really fun and heart wrenching to read. I had a lot of fun as a kid. I could see these super complex stories to play with my friends. We had plot lines that took us to pirate ships, farms, zoos, kingdoms, and a whole town we invented in our basement (That was inspired by this book).

I never wish my imagination was less than it is. I look around, and see that I live in a society where imagination is celebrated when it produces something great. Otherwise, can be stunted or stimulated at a young age by the movies and television we push on them. Some kids just cannot use their imagination. Other can see the world movies presents them and beyond. My imagination hasn't created anything "great", but it has created a few characters I've played, the games I played as a kid, and everything I write. I'm just curious to see the movies they'll make and the books they'll write in 25, 50, 65 years. What characters will I be introduced to? What friends will I make?

I guess we'll just have to see... But I will continue to quote my hero Adam Young: Reality is a lovely place, but...

I wouldn't want to live there.