Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's only as hard as you make it

Something I have (re)figured out this week: Life is only as hard as you make it. People (myself included) blow things out of proportion all the time. The secret to life is balance. In my life at the moment, I have 4 elements that need to stay properly aligned: spiritual, physical, and academic, and fun. Obvously, when I have a family of my own, or a job, or whatever the next phases of life bring, those elements will change. But regardless of what phase of life you're in, the key to managing stress and life is making sure whatever your elements are that they're all in check. I have noticed that if just one of these aspects of my life are taking up too much or too little of my time, everything gets chaotic and stressful.

So, feeling stressed? Figure out whats out of balance, reprioratize your elements, and chill out! "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured," as a wise President Hinkley once stated.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

21 Years in the Making!

Apparently my blogging habits take after my journal writing habits. In my case, that means only writing when:
a) Something significant happens
b) I'm really happy about something
c) I'm really upset about something

21st birthday has earned its placement some where between the lines of a/b. In honor of this day, I'm following Taylor Swifts advice to "Speak Now". If you're confused, go read the cover letter of her newest album, then come back. (really though!) I only wish I was as brave as Taylor, but since I'm not, let me just say thank you for singing what feels like every emotion I have felt since 16, and saying everything in a song I wish I could say to people's faces:

The Story of Us: the whole thing. Dear John: word for word, let's just say, been there done that. Never Grow Up: for my brothers. Innocent: turns out not every song is directed towards a boy. Speak Now: newest inspiration for 2011. Love Story: pure joy. A Place in this World: 21. Other Side of the Door: if only men could read women's minds.

The list goes on and on. I think part of the reason I love music so much is because it can say things I'm feeling more clearly than I could ever possibly put into words.

So what's this year going to be like? Only time will tell. As someone once said to me, "all in due time." All I can say is out with the old and in with the new...whatever that means!

21 Things that took me 21 years to learn:

1. People don't read minds. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
2. In long run, the only person who gets hurt when pretending not to care about something you really care about is you. It's ok to care, and it's ok to show it.
3. The best way to study is to read with a question in mind. Memorizing last minute only gets you so far. (Yes, it took me 21 years...)
4. Everything happens for a reason. Don't freak out, everything will be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end.
5. Time flies the older you get-come what may and love it.
6. You can exercise all you want, but you lose weight when you stop eating...hahaha
7. It is not requisite that man run faster than he hath strength. Know your limits.
8. Being a nice, good person doesn't mean you actually have to like everyone, much less be BFFS with everyone.
9. But be nice. You'll never have to regret being too kind.
10. Sometimes being mature and choosing the right sucks. Do it anyway.
11. Old school: Empathy. Treat others how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Remember what it feels like to have your feelings hurt.
12. Have fun and lighten up! Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.
13. There's something about dancing that frees the inner you. If you think that sounds cheesy (cuz it does), just try it.
14. Do things you think you don't feel like doing. Nine times out of ten you'll be glad you did it.
15. Surround yourself with people who charge your batteries, not drain them.
16. ALL things in moderation. Boys, food, friends, exercise, shopping, fb, you get the picture.
17. You find out who your real friends are when they get married, and even more so when they have kids ;) hahaha
18. Sometimes you have to quit trying to make a plan and just go with the flow...that's usually when it all falls into place.
19. Don't judge. "Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul." In other words, you never really know what someone else has/is going through. Even someone who seems like they've got it all.
20. Do things that are hard to do.
21. Follow your own advice, and dont ask others to do things you arent willing to do yourself.

What I'm trying to say is...
Speak now or forever hold your peace, ’the words said by preachers at the end of wedding ceremonies all over the world, right before the vows. It’s a last chance for protest, a moment that makes everyone’s heart race, and a moment I’ve always been strangely fascinated by. So many fantasize about bursting into a church, saying what they’d kept inside for years like in the movies. In real life, it rarely happens. Real life is a funny thing, you know. In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact, that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I’ve begun to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything. I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life, and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you. ’ When we should’ve said ‘I’m sorry. ’ When we didn’t stand up for ourselves or someone who needed help. Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you’ll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone. What you say might be too much for some people. Maybe it will come out all wrong and you’ll stutter and you’ll walk away embarrassed, wincing as you play it all back in your head. But I think the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest. So say it to them. Or say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it in a letter you’ll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying I could’ve, but it’s too late now. There is a time for silence. There is a time waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it. I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home is Where the Heart is

I realize that I haven't blogged since I have been home from Europe, but I have serisouly been so busy! There are so many people I want to see, so many things I want to do, on top of work and helping the family out. I am afraid I am starting to sound more and more like my mom, but really, life at home is crazy sometimes. Something ironic I have noticed this time around coming home is that I love it! The reason this seems kind of funny to me is because I just came back from one of the most beautiful places in the world, and all of the sudden, I am seeing all these great things Vidor, TX has to offer. (if you have never heard of it I do not suggest Googling it... I am a little afraid of what you might find haha)

Growing up here I swore I would leave and never come back, especially after living other places for the past few years (including Paradise I might add) The thing is, the things you can only find in a small little country town are what make make them worth living in. It's a twangy, potentially annoying song, but Tracy Byrd nailed home right on the head in one of his greatest hits. If you know me (or even if you dont), you know Im not a camouflage wearing, deer hunting, southern accented girl. The truth is though, I am a Texas girl through and through. If you don't know me too well, I may come across as a little prissy...yes I love make-up and big hair, but guess what state is known for that?? I love four-wheeler riding (especially when the driver is particularly attractive), country music, and lets not forget country boys. Could it be that I think his tractors sexy? It's quite possible. Likewise, these boys know how to work and know how to play, as a wise man once sang.

Among many other things, it's so safe. Vidor may get a bad rap for it's past...but the people here really are so nice. I admit, it may not be the classiest place (ie. the closest Nordstrom is 2 hours away...) but it's not ghetto or gangster. I never am afraid I am going to be shot, stabbed, or held at gunpoint while I am at a gas station (which I know of happening in close by towns). Am I by any means arguing the Vidor is perfect? Not at all. But maybe it deserves a little more credit then we all give it. There's just something so fun about being around people you grew up with, adults and peers...they knew you as a kids, they knew you as teenagers, and they love you anyway.

And for the corny part of the story...

Kenny Chesney's latest hit "Boys of Fall," and watching Montana's high school football games have left me feeling a weird sense of nostalgia. I am not one of those people who feels like high school was the best years of my life (by any means). I always felt like 16 going on 30, and never really felt like I related well to that age group. But, something about this song totally takes me back to the part of high school I actually loved. You may not understand if you weren't a cheerleader, athlete, or maybe even on the drill team or band, but this song has a way of bringing you back and making you remember that there were somethings in high school that weren't so bad. I can't wait for the day my brothers hear this song and call each other crying about it...I will be sure to blog the day it happens ;)

As the saying goes, there really is no place like home!! Everyone comes from somewhere, and chances are you love wherever you grew-up. I feel like knowing where you're from helps you understand who you a little bit better. After all, "you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you have been!"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Most Important Things in Life aren't Things.

I really believe that everything happens for a reason, so anytime I am in a new situation, I try to figure exactly what the reason may be. Being away from everyone these past couple months, in Greece, has really given me a new perspective on life and gratitude. The older I become the more I am able to appreciate people and what they have done for me all throughout my life. I feel so blessed to have so many "best friends" and such an awesome family. Many of my role models growing up are now my great friends. My life is proof that the most important things in life aren't things.

New Year's 2010

My dad is one of the most amazing people I know. He has always been such an involved, loving father to all of us kids: coaching, attending games and practices (even the far away ones), always making sure that we have everything we need and much of what we dont need :) Yes, he is human and therefore not perfect, as a matter of fact this past family vacation we all reminisced about our favorite beatings as a child hahaha, yet one of my biggest fears is that I will never find someone who compares to my dad's selflessness, integrity, and work ethic.

As you can see, my mom is stunningly beautiful. What I appreciate most about her is that I don't think there is anyone else on the planet who loves me more unconditionally than her. One of the biggest life lessons I have learned from her is that just because someone makes mistakes doesn't make them a bad person, and certainly not worth any less. An old, dirty, crinkled $100 bill is worth the same amount as perfectly new one.

My Lola is my favorite person in the whole world. When I was little, I loved her because she always gave me money. As I grew up, I learned to love her because she is simply good. She is the most devout Christian I know. She is sincerely kind to every person she knows and meets, and she takes care of her family. These are just the obvious things. She can be endearingly naive. Other things I adore about her are things like the fact that she never gets jokes the first three times they are told. And not only that but she will sit and think about them after the conversation has moved on, and once she finally figures it out she laughs out loud about it and explains it to us all :) She is also hilarious on the trampoline, four-wheeler, and definitely while playing Skippo with her grandkids.

Melanie and I at my high school graduation above, and Rach and Christina (sisters) below

Melanie, Rachel, Christina! I was so lucky to have such amazing youth leaders growing up-seriously. (I know there were more of you that I loved too...dont be offended if your name isnt mentioned!) All three of them were married with families, but took the time not only to get to know me, but to be my friends. My senior year of high school, my two very best friends left for college, as well as many other friends. Mel, Rachel and Christina became my new best friends haha...I doubt it was such a big deal to them, but I really enjoyed hanging out with them, working out together, baking cookies, long deep name it. It ended up being a great time for me and I will always remember what a big part they played in my teenage years :) I always look forward to seeing them when I go home to Texas !

My crazy brothers! When I was a little girl, I would have given anything to have a sister. I remember being angry at my dad to the point of tears during one of my moms ultrasounds because he was joking that he "sees a boy in there." Turns out he wasnt joking! While I was a mean, anal, bossy big sister not so long ago, I love my brothers more now than ever. Not only are they all incredibly good-looking, but they are all incredibly good. (not perfect, but good) Remington is currently serving a 2 year mission for our church, a huge sacrifice for a 19 year old boy. Im so proud of him, not only because he's where he's supposed to be, but because of the work it took for him to get there. Cutler. He is crazy. You can't always tell from the outside, but he is a passionate, deep guy. I cant wait to see the girl he marries and what his kids will be like :) Montana, Montana...if you have ever met the kid, you already know how amazing he is. If anyone in this world "got it all," he definitely did. Maverick is also a loving talented kid, and Im excited to see him play sports in high school. We joke that he is my dads favorite (but secretly it's not a joke haha) Him and Bridger will always be "the babies," no matter how old they are! know him is to love him. I dont know how he ended up to be such a sweet little boy at the end of 5 brothers, but we cant help but adore him and his cute little quirks.

And the list goes on and on...Freshman year at BYUH many great memories!

Becca and Alyssa-Are the craziest, most fun girls. (sisters) Lyss in on a mission right now :) Melissa just got married in July.

Nicole is one of my best friends too! She is the most pleasant person to be around :) She just got married in June.

Arielle is literally one of the most beautiful girls I know! Not to sound cliche, but inside and out. She gets married this December :)

Jenelle is my second cousin, and also one of my favorite people ever! I have known her my whole life and have this hilarious memory of us making hair scrunchies when we were little. I always remind her of it hahaha. She is also married and pregnant with baby number 3 :)

Kayla, Brittany, and I became best friends in high school. We are a funny combination in personality and appearance! I love them like sisters and dont know how I could have made it through high school with out them. We have that relationship where we dont have to talk everyday to know we love each other. I love not seeing each other for months and picking up right where we left off! Both of them are married now with babies, Mavrick and Annabelle :)

I have 3 good friends named Kayla-this is Kayla Ragan. She is part of some of my favorite memories in high school. Mudding, chips and salsa, skipping school, and girls nights. She always reminds me to "Smile, life's too short not to" :)

This blog wouldnt be complete with out mentioning these lovely ladies. God didnt give me a sister, but he gave 3 beautiful aunts! I love talking with them, shopping with them, Cafe Rio with them, basically everything I would need a sister for :) These are my moms sisters, but my dads are just as awesome when I get to spend time with them!

All of these people have made some kind of positive impression on my life. There are so many more people I could go on and on about!! Like I said, I'm so blessed, and my life is definitely proof that the most important things in life aren't things at all <3

Friday, September 3, 2010

Newly inspired! So here it goes!

I have never been a good journal writer. For example, my current journal is the same one I started when I was 11 years old! I have been stalking random peoples blogs lately (with all my spare time in Greece) and have been inspired to create one of my own! Hopefully I will do better now in recording my life and perhaps document something inspiring to others along the way, as I have felt reading so many of yours.

I will start with a quick recap of life since college started. My choice to apply to BYU Hawaii was not really the plan until my senior year of high school. I always wanted to go to Provo, especially since both of my best friends were already there. That year (in the middle of volleyball season) my parents (sort of forcefully) invited me to go to Education Week at BYU. I didnt want to go because I had a big tournament that weekend, but my parents told me to pray about it, so I did. Obviously, the answer I received was to go, so I did. It didnt take me
long upon arriving on the campus to sense that this was not the place for me. I realized that maybe I was supposed to be there that week to realize that I better start seriously thinking about other options for school. I knew I wanted to be at a church school still so that left me with Idaho and Hawaii...come on now, is that really a question?? haha...and that leads me to the next big chapter of my life :)

BYU Hawaii

All those people who told me to enjoy high school because they will be the best years of my life lied to me! haha I think what they meant was to enjoy it, because it will be the last time I really get to be carefree, a kid. I understand that now. Sounds cheesy I know, but my first two years at BYU Hawaii were really magical to put it into words! The combination of the beautiful scenery, the fun people, and the strong spirit on campus made the whole experience indescribable! In short I fell in love...with Hawaii. One day, my friends and I were taking the bus up to Waimea Bay and there was an old man sitting across from us. Every time I round the corner where North Shore begins my heart beats faster and I smile because its so breath taking-like I said, Im in love with the place ;) So the older man looks at me and says, "Your sweetheart must love you!" My friends and I were all a little confused (considering I had no "sweet heart"-haha thanks for bringing it up sir!) Noticing that I was a little lost he went on to say that I must have a sweetheart because I look so in love hehe. "No sir, I just love this place!"

My first year there in the dorms were so fun! I loved living on campus, although I wasnt thrilled about being forced to at first. I made so many great friends there, and it was a blast having so many girls to get ready for dates and dances with! We all shared clothes and jewelry, did each others hair and make-up...what more could a girl ask for?? Did I also mention we were in walking distance from the beach? That part wasnt bad either ;) I think my room mate Becca and I made it to the beach every single day the first couple months at least! We only went there to study of course...

So life went on, school got harder, daily beach trips became less frequent, boys became drama, etc. There came a time when I needed to choose a major (and stick to it), but that isnt something a 19 year old girl should have to decide! So I took a year off to save money, figure things out, clear my head...which leads me to my next adventures!

Arizona, Vegas, Texas, Utah, Cali, GREECE!!

2010 has been a busy year for me! During Christmas break I decided that since I was taking a break from school, I would move to AZ to work and have a new adventure while I figured things out. My good friend from Hawaii flew over from Cali to TX to drive to AZ with me. Nothing like a fun road trip with good company! In AZ I lived with some very kind family friends for a few months and then stayed with my grandparents for a month or so. While I was there, I found a job as a nanny for a couple different families, and both of them had a set of twins! (Did I mention the family I was living with had twins also??) I was afraid the Lord was preparing me for quadruplets one day or something! I guess we will still have to see about that one haha...Anyway, one of the families had a brilliant little 5 yr old girl and boy/girl two month old twins when I first started with them. The dad was Caucasian and the mother was half black half Taiwanese. She was seriously gorgeous, and so were her kids! I totally fell in love with those kids and still miss and think about them all the time. It was a great opportunity to be part of a family of another faith and see what their home was like. I gained so much respect for the faith of Mei (the mom) and the way she lived her life despite her challenges. I learned yet again, that you never know what someone may be going through despite what it seems on the outside. The other family was also an inspiration to me. The mother was a Neonatal specialist and very very brilliant. I thought it was cool that she made so much money, yet she was always thrifty (coupons, sales, older model mini van, etc) and spending her money on things that mattered most in the long run: her kids activities, family vacations, things that will last forever, even if only in memory. From both of these families I learned more about what kind of person I want to be, and also that faiths other than mine also have much to offer.

I also made a couple of new best friends at church. Leona, is "Hapa" like me (picture below), except she is half Japanese. We look alike and it was fun to be the only tall, brown, "exotic sisters" anytime we went somewhere where the majority of girls were white (no offense to anyone ha). We roadtripped to Vegas from AZ for a fun weekend with my Lola and Lola. It was my first time there, and probably my last! I definitely understand why its called "Sin City" now haha. Camille was the other friend and she is also from my singles ward there. She is coming out to Europe to travel with me in a couple days!! I cant wait!

In May, I had a great opportunity to really get to know my step grandmother, Cathy. I fell in love with her, and was so glad I got to know her in that short while. I will always have great memories of Hallmark movie marathons and Blue Bell ice cream :) I will also never be able to watch the Phoenix Suns play with out thinking about her! Another favorite part of AZ was spending so much time with my Aunt Mandy and her family!! Such a sweet, happy bunch of people! One of my favorite families ever, actually. I consider them (Both my aunt and her girls) the sisters I never had :)

All the nannying in AZ inspired me to fulfill a life long dream of mine-to visit Italy and Greece! I found a summer job as an Au Pair in Greece and here I am! Between AZ and Greece, I was able to go home for a couple weeks to see my family and join them for a few days in Utah. Thank you Cutler for flying out just to hop in the car and drive all the way back home with me :) We had a good time-especially the part where I got pulled over by a State Trooper haha, luckily he was a nice guy! Thank goodness for Red Bull, sour Jolly Ranchers, and iPod adaptors. Utah was fun too, Montana did well at BYU football camp and I got to see some good friends and family I have missed. From there I was a bridesmaid in one of my best friends wedding in California.
She was a beautiful bride, and the wedding topped any bridal magazine wedding I have ever seen!! Such a fun couple....

(Here is a pic of some of the friends who made it from Hawaii for the wedding)

That same weekend, I left for Greece, which turned out to be an experience I couldnt have even imagined before I got here! First of all, did anyone know that some people really are as filthy rich as you see in the movies. Im talking personal drivers, nannys, maids, cooks, mansions, parties, Prada, Chanel, Juicy, yachts, summer houses, etc. And its not just this family, but ALL of their friends and extended family as well. Second, Greece really is as beautiful as you imagine it would be, maybe more. Third, America really is the promised land, and Im convinced nobody can truly appreciate it with out experiencing living else where first.

Greece really is so neat because it is SO rich in culture and tradition! This family I'm living with and working for is very interesting. While they have so much "help" the mom is really involved with the kids and loves them very much. She just doesnt have to do the dishes, laundry, diaper changing, you know, the dirty work. She plays with them, teaches them, disciplines them (sometimes haha) and all the fun stuff a mom wants to do. My job is to play with the kids, help them with their English, and help out with taking care of them. Fair enough.

I have been SO lucky to travel all over the country with them. To be honest, I didnt even know Greece was composed of so many different islands. I have now been to 5 different parts of Greece with them. We have been to different islands, stayed in fancy resorts (where I have my own room) and visited friends summer homes and yachts. I am still shocked at the lifestyle, I mean I am from Vidor, but its not like I grew up in poverty!! The only downside of the experience is that because I am surrounded by all these millionaires all the time, some of them think they are better than you because of their money. Not so much to me because I am American, but to their other help, they are very rude and degrading. Its very annoying to deal with, and its one of those situation where saying something about it isnt really going to help. However, that is something I am able to get over because I am only here for a couple months, I just feel sorry for the girls that are here for years. Another cool thing about the job is that I have met several other girls doing the same thing for other families from all over. New connections to the world! I love picking their brains and comparing lives. It has really been fascinating!

This whole experience has been really good for me. There have been temptations here I have never had to deal with before, and sometimes I only have myself and my faith to hold on to. They say you learn who you really are when no one is looking. Im human and have done things Im not so proud of, but so far I can say I am pretty proud of who I have found myself to be :)