While I acknowledge the end of one year and the beginning of the next as a perfect time for change and renewal, I’ve never held much truck to the idea of making resolutions–they don’t tend to stick.
That being said, I have been thinking about what’s happened in 2010, and what I would like to happen in 2011. Personally, emotionally, I think I’ve made great strides in 2010–and accomplished something I wasn’t planing on–namely, going back to school. I don’t remember if I made any resolutions for 2010–I could probably look them up here, but I’m far to lazy to do that (now watch WordPress find it automatically for me…)
so, here they are, my goals for 2011. The goals that one might say I’m resolute to see happen…
- Get (and maintain) at least a 3.5 GPA. Seeings how I got a “D” in one of my three classes this semester, this might be hard, but I think I can do it.
- Go to church at least three times a month, and all three meetings at least once a month. Along with this, scripture study and prayer every day.
- Blog every day. WordPress has a Dailypost challenge thing to help remind people to blog everyday. I’ve signed up for that…it’s a little intimidating, blogging every day was the goal of The Storyteller Chronicles, and I failed miserably. So were trying it again.
- Write every day. Not connected to the blog or homework. Stories, free-writes, whatever. Every day. Connected to that…
- Write a novel. 150,000 words–that averages out to about 410 words a day–not counting things like outlining and editing. It doesn’t have to be ready to send to an agent, let alone a publisher. It doesn’t even have to be good. It just needs to be a complete, lengthy story. Um, eep.
Looking over this list, it’s going to be tough, but an easy goal isn’t really a goal, right? So, here’s to big things happening in 2011! Now if you’ll excuse me, this big, ambitious list is making me tired. I’m off to take a nap.
Last week was one of the worst of my life. Since then, I’ve been thinking about what makes a bad day, or a bad week for that matter. Is it that the events of said day are truly horrible, or is it that we focus on the horrible, but ignore the good?
I’m inclined to believe that it’s the former. Something happens to put us in a bad mood, and consciously or subconsciously, we focus on the things that will reinforce our bad mood–we notice the jerk who cuts us off in traffic, but not the person who lets us in. We gripe about forgetting our umbrella, but don’t notice how wonderful the rain is.
Sunday, things turned around for me. I made it to church–I’m claiming all three meetings, but that might be stretching it–I had what amounted to a therapy session during Sunday School.
I’ve been trying to focus more on the positive in my life, and let the stress go–something that’s nigh-on impossible for me. I know that it’s foolish to worry about things that I can’t control.
For now, all I can do is focus on my schooling, and know that whatever happens, happens. I’m trying not to stress, but that can always lead to stressing because I’m stressed out, which just turns into this whole big mess…
Something amazing happened today. I mean, besides the fact that I was able to check Facebook and email from the comfort of my own home. I actually made it to church.
I was thinking about it last night, and decided not to plan on going–which relieved the stress of planning to be around a bunch of people. I decided that I should go, but I wasn’t going to make myself go.
AND even though I woke up only a half hour before church started, I managed to get dressed, take the dogs out, and make it. I even stayed for all three meetings, more or less.
When I came home, I discovered that my roommate had slipped out even earlier than I did, and was making curry–crazy thing, my Taiwanese roommate makes amazing Asian food. She was even able to explain that it was a Japanese style curry, a little sweeter and a lot more mild than, say, Indian curry.
Church and curry would have been enough to make this day amazing, but the icing on the cake came when I checked my registration status at school, and saw that I could register for a class I was wait-listed for. Which brings my class load up to a whopping 10 credit hours–and the classes I’m taking on campus are each once a week, one on Friday and one on Saturday, but it’s a class that I need to continue on with my schooling.
I did also discover that in order to play the games that I’ve been suffering withdrawals from, I’m going to need a new graphics card. I think I’ll wait on it, though, either until I find a job, or ask for it for Christmas. School will probably go a lot smoother without being distracted by the Sims.
So, yeah. I’ve had a great day. Things are starting to go much smoother.
Although, when I have to get up to be on campus at 8am on Saturday mornings, I might just change my mind…
So the allergies/head cold is totally kicking my butt, to the point where WebMD is telling me that I have an ear infection. Or thyroid cancer. But probably just an ear infection.
I’m considering it karma because I’ve known that Lulu’s had an inflamed ear for a while, but haven’t done anything about it*. Do you think the wipes I’m using for her ear would work for my ear?
I’m hovering at that annoying point of feeling good enough to y’know, actually do stuff, rather than spending the day in bed.
I got up this morning, got ready, took the dogs out and saw I had a half hour before I had to leave for church, so I sat down on the couch with a book, and promptly fell back asleep. And didn’t wake up until church was over. Whoops.
I feel horrible about this too. I have a friend, who I first met about three years ago, soon after I moved into my house/ward. He was on crutches at the time–he was a marine, and had been injured in Iraq.
The story loses some of it’s drama when, after talking to him for a bit I found out that he was an explosives expert, and had been hurt in a training exercise.
A year of crutches/physical therapy later, and Phil went on a tour of duty to Afghanistan. Which, happily, he returned from, and decided that his time in the marines was up.
So, what does a good Mormon ex-marine boy do next? He goes on a mission. His farewell was today. In my ward.
And I missed it.
Phil, if you are reading this, I am so sorry. I wanted to be there, I really did.
You are going to be an awesome missionary.
*I am not an awful dog mom note: The inflammation in Lulu’s ear is more like a hot spot that happens to be located on the flap of her ear. She’s not showing signs of vertigo or nausea. She just scratches her ear. A lot. I’m treating it with some OTC wipes, and they seem to be helping–except now she runs away when she sees me coming, because she doesn’t want me messing with her ear. Sigh.
I made it to church today, at least to Sacrament Meeting.
I have a hard time with church during the summer, well, a harder time. The schedule flips around, so rather than having sacrament first, Relief Society is first, and sacrament is last.
It’s a lot easier for me to go if I know I can slip out after Sacrament and not attend the other meetings, than just coming at the proper time for sacrament.
Our meetings are combined with two other wards, also, so there were a LOT of people there. I don’t do well with a lot of people. I kept reminding myself that I was in the very best place, doing the very best thing to combat my agoraphobia.
My thoughts after I woke up, but before I got up:
It’s Mother’s Day.
E’s getting blessed today.
In a family ward.
That means I have to go to church in a family ward on Mother’s Day.
Here’s how Mormons do Mother’s Day. We don’t have a paid ministry, so speakers for our meetings are pulled out of the congregation. On Mother’s Day, the speakers tend to run heavily to the youth–teenage girls crying when they talk about their moms, and teenage boys making stupid jokes–but still somehow choking up when they get to the serious part.
There may or may not be an adult speaker.
After Sacrament Meeting, the young men bring in small gifts to pass out to all the mother’s in the congregation.
The men then take over the women’s teaching duties to give them a break.
Sounds sweet, right? Well, it neglects to take into account the immense feelings of guilt that any given woman is carrying around on any given moment. Yeah, Mother’s Day is not a fun day at church…
Especially when you’re a single woman who would still be young in the rest of the world, but Mormons consider an old maid, and you are very much aware of your biological clock.
I made it to the sacrament hymn before I started crying. I made it through the first speaker before I slunk out, sobbing.
Honestly, I think it was as much the stress and emotion of the week catching up to me, in one very inopportune moment as it was feeling sorry for myself for not having a family of my own.
I managed to hide through most of the luncheon, Sis managed to put enough of the aunts and cousins to work that I was just getting in the way in the kitchen.
While in hiding, I was thinking about E’s birth mother, friends of mine who lost children, my sister, who is physically unable to bear children, and other women who would have reason to hate Mother’s Day as much as I do. Mom told me later “It’s not just you childless girls who hate Mother’s Day, it’s hard on all of us who are imperfect.”
Ugh, I’ve literally been working on this post all day–more than 13 hours. I’m ready to be done. I’m exhausted physically and mentally, and am so glad to be home.
But not as glad as Max and Lulu.
Saturday, I crashed.
When I say that, I don’t mean I wrecked my car, or my depression got the better of me (at least not until the evening) I mean a physical crash–I spent almost all day lying around my sister’s house, recovering from the whirlwind that was my birthday.
Speaking of my birthday, it was one of the best I’ve had as an adult. Good job, Sis!
Sis and the Bro-in-Law first took me to lunch at Red Iguana, which is very probably my favorite restaurant in SLC, but one I don’t get to eat at enough. I was very brave there, and tried something new–I’m not an adventurous eater. I’d like to be, but that’s how I find out about food allergies. Guess how I know I’m allergic to lychee?
Anyway, I ordered a dish called chilaquiles. It was tortilla chips with chorizo, egg, salsa espanolia, and mole pobliano. I’d had an investigator make mole for me on my mission, but I didn’t like it then, so I was a bit hesitant to try it here–despite Guy Fieri raving about it on his show. My verdict? The first bite was amazing. The second bite was good. The third bite was okay. By the fourth bite, I was wondering if I had to finish it. If anybody at Red Iguana is reading this, chilaquiles would work better as an appetizer. It’s too…flavorful for a main course, and there really isn’t anything to cleanse the palate between the bites of amazingness, so it gets to be too much too soon.
We then went to the zoo. G is a funny kid. He’s the only kid I know who will get more excited about seeing a firetruck driving on the road outside the zoo than the actual animals at the zoo itself. I had fun though–the weather was perfect, it wasn’t too crowded, and the animals were lookin’ for love, which meant that they were rather demonstrative. G even noticed that the penguins were giving each other ‘piggy back rides’. Yeah…
After the zoo, we headed back to Sis’s house, where I watched Sis and the Bro-in-Law work in the garden. Technically, I was watching E while Sis and the Bro-in-Law worked in the garden, but we were outside so we could keep talking to each other. My parents then showed up, and we went to dinner at my other favorite restaurant in SLC, Sampan.
I was still feeling adventurous, and wanted to order something I’d never have before. The Bro-in-Law suggested ordering something I didn’t even know what it was, like “Baawwk Chow and abe-alon-ee mushrooms”. When I told him that I knew a) the correct pronunciation of bok choy and b) that it was cabbage, he changed his mind. I ended up ordering Empress Duck and miso soup. I’d never had duck before, or miso for that matter.
So, miso is made with tofu. I learned that if you are allergic to soymilk, you are also allergic to tofu. Fortunately, Dad had a benadryl in his pocket for his hay fever, that I was able to take as soon as I felt my throat starting to close up. The soup was good, though.
The duck was AMAZING. It was greasy, and I don’t know how much of that was the meat itself or how it was cooked. Either way, I now have a favorite dish at Sampan.
While we’re on the topic of food, I didn’t even get a cake. It just didn’t turn out. We were going to make cake balls, but by the time we got back from the restaurant, we were all too tired for one more project, and we just didn’t get around to it the next day.
Saturday, I helped Sis get ready for HER birthday party. I was born exactly one week before my sister’s first birthday, so for one week out of the year, we’re the same age. I turned 29 on Friday, so Sis will turn 30 this next Friday. She’s celebrating by going into hiding for the whole week. We started to plan a menu, then decided we should go to NPS to see if there was a good deal on meat.
What is NPS? Well…in the Bro-in-Law’s words, it’s a store that sells whatever fell off the back of a truck. It sells food that is slightly past it’s expiration date, or that the containers have been damaged, that grocery stores can’t sell. It also sells a variety of other stuff. Going there is a bit like a treasure hunt. You can find good stuff and good deals, but mostly…well…
Mom and Dad had never been there before, and had a lot of fun looking around. I did too, for that matter. I think I won, though. In a shelf full of books that mostly had titles like The Virgin’s Wedding Night, I found a copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. For 50¢ each. That’s less than I could have gotten them for at a thrift store, for new books! Never mind that I’ve read them both before.
I do have to give credit to Dad for that find. I glanced at the dirty-sounding titles of the books, and decided I wasn’t interested. He spotted Fahrenheit 451, but because he already has a copy of it, he wasn’t interested. It made me look closer though, and I found the Steinbeck. And those were the only two books on the whole shelf that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen reading in public.
I came home on Saturday evening, to find that a) my lily of the valley had doubled in size while I was away for two days, and b) my internet wasn’t working, and my back-up plan, aka, piggybacking off my downstairs neighbors, was no longer an option. They went and set up a password, the little stinkers. Hence the late update on the weekend’s activities. Still, a little time away from the internet never hurt anyone, right?
I carefully prepared my Sunday School lesson (but not as carefully as I should have, I realized when I was sitting in Sacrament that I had neglected to do two or three things that I meant to), only to have no one show up to my class. EVEN THOUGH I saw every single one of my class members in Sacrament meeting. It was okay, though. I wasn’t really in the right mind-frame to teach anyway. I did have a good conversation with my Temple Committee Co-chair. He just got back from a mission to England, and has a cute little accent. It’s not fair. When I came back from a mission to Canada, I only brought with me a penchant to say “eh”.
This morning’s adventure has consisted mostly of Lulu’s digestive tract, so I’ll spare the details. The other adventure was being on the phone for 45 minutes, at least 30 of which were spent on hold, and talking to five different people to get my internet working again. So frustrating. But, here I am, and all is well.
I KNOW that every fourth Sunday I have meetings starting at 8am at the church. I prepared for it, I went to bed early, even though I couldn’t sleep, and Lulu kept me up even more than she usually does. I showered chose what I was going to wear–including accessories, the night before, and set my alarm for 7am. I woke up at 8:30. Crap. The last five minutes of my first meeting were really good, though.
I talked briefly with my Bishop, and he complemented me on what I had done in my capacity as the Temple Committee Co-Chair, I thanked him, then commented that I should be doing more. He just smiled at me and said, “Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.” Later, he repeated that over the pulpit to the Ward, and added “and you will be happy.”
Happiness tends to be a fleeting thing for me. For everyone I suppose. The depression makes happiness harder to come by, and it doesn’t stay as long as it would for a normal person. But Bishop’s comments made me think: focusing of shortcomings and failures, as well as thinking about what we can’t do is a surefire way to become depressed.
I was feeling anxious during Sacrament Meeting, and would have slipped out to go home, except I had to teach the Temple Prep class in Sunday School. So I pulled out a piece of paper, and started making a list of the things that I can do. It included things like temple and volunteer work, helping my family, gardening in my little patio garden, and taking care of the dogs. There wasn’t anything too big or amazing, but it was a nice little exercise.
While I was writing this, a few other things came into my head–writing, and artwork. My writing has gotten better over the past few months–I always knew I could write, but have felt self-conscious about what I’ve put out. This blog has helped me overcome some of those feelings, and my writing has improved for it. My artwork–painting, drawing and photography, might not be that great, but I can do it. And with practice, those things will get better.
I have an eye for layout and design. I can create wonderful things that catch people’s eyes, and that they enjoy. I can cook and bake, I can sing, just not well, I can memorize songs and scripture and poetry. I can be happy.
Sacrament meeting was a little surreal today, I got the distinct impression of being told to work on my family history. I wish that such revelation would tell me where to start.
Okay, so the opening hymn. It’s not one we sing often enough for me to have memorized, so I pulled out the hymnbook. I noticed that it was written by a fifth great-grandfather on my mother’s side. Interesting, I didn’t know he had a hymn in the hymnbook.
So, sit through announcements, sing the sacrament hymn, then listen to the first talk, which happens to be about families–specifically, don’t do stupid stuff because it can affect your families for generations, but, if and when you do mess up, things can be made right through the atonement of Christ. And, even if you do mess up, if you’ve been sealed in the temple, you’ll still be a part of your family forever. (The concept of forever kind of freaked me out at this point. Not the being with my family part, I love my family, but existing forever–but that’s another post.)
Rest hymn. One I know, so I don’t need the hymnbook. One that also happened to be written by a fourth great-grandfather on my father’s side. Okay, that’s a little weird…
Now, it’s not like I’m descended from WW Phelps or anything–I checked, and Edward Partridge (the grandfather on my mother’s side) has only the one hymn in the book, and Joel Hills Johnson (the grandfather on my father’s side) only has two.
I know it’s not the connections to these two men I need to work on–frankly, I can rattle it off in my sleep (Edward Partridge had two daughters, Eliza and Lydia, who were sister-wives, both married to Amasa Lyman. Lydia had a son named Edward Leo Lyman Sr. Who had a son, Edward Leo Lyman Jr, who had a daughter, Eleanor, who had a daughter Louise, who is my grandmother. Joel Hills Johnson had a son, Seth, who had a daughter Mary, who married George Hyrum, and they had George Hyrum Jr, who had a son Ellis, who is my grandfather)
Did I mention that every single one of those individuals were/are Mormon? (at least for a bit. Some [okay, one] of them apostatized…) Family history is a big deal with Mormons, and we tend to have large families. What I’m driving at, is that I’ve had many faithful aunts and uncles (though I’m going to go out on a limb and say mostly aunts) who have plucked most of the low hanging fruit. While tracing my ancestry, most lines have been completed to the 1500s. I know I need to do this work, but starting in medieval Europe is more than a bit overwhelming.
I guess the best thing to do would be to talk to the family history coordinator for the ward and stake, and have them help me figure it out…
At church today, I ran into a girl who I have contact with perhaps once a month. I can never remember her name, but she annoys me. I realized today why–she is very concerned about appearing perfect, and, the natural shape of her face and nose makes it appear that she is always looking down at the world around her.
We chatted for a bit–small talk, which I totally suck at, and I realized that she is quite a nice person, one who probably has a lot of the same neuroses that I do.
Mormons are very concerned with perfection–we are taught that the purpose of this life is to become perfect, like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see Matthew 5: 48 and 3rd Nephi 12:48) When perfection is discussed, we are reminded that perfection is impossible to obtain without the saving power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and we will not be perfect until after the resurrection.
Granted, I know more Mormons than any other denomination, but it seems like we are more concerned with showing the world a perfect face than the rest of humanity. We have to be the most humble, the most sincere, the kindest, the most generous, etc. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and, quite frankly, depressing.
I’ve talked about this before from a personal viewpoint. WHY do we have to put a perfect face forward? Everyone is human, and everyone who has ever lived (besides Christ, of course) made or makes mistakes. We are not perfect. We are flawed, we mess up, we do dumb stuff. The beauty of the Plan of Salvation is that as many times as we mess up, we can repent and start fresh and new.
I know full well that one of the biggest challenges I face is overcoming the need to appear perfect. I know that no one thinks or expects me to be perfect right now, but I get mad at myself when I fall short. When I am fully aware of my shortcomings, I don’t want to go to places where I think they will be highlighted.
It doesn’t matter, I suppose. All we can do is keep moving forward.