Saturday, January 28, 2017


It feels as if the entire internet has been aflame with anger and pointing fingers and derision and blame recently. So I’ve got a few positive stories and a few thoughts about humanity I’d like to share, in the hopes that they will make things a bit less flammable.

Story time.

Last week, I was hurrying through the lunch line in the college cafeteria. I had been running a bit behind all day, resulting in my needing to buy lunch rather than having made it that morning. I was looking forward to finally having a chance to sit and eat my yummy hot food and avoid the stress and the snow and the #struggle for a little while.

I reached the front of the line for the cashier and began to rummage for my wallet in my backpack. It took me approximately 30 seconds to realize, as my hand wandered deeper and deeper into the pocket in which I habitually keep my wallet, that it was not there.

            “I don’t have my wallet,” I mumbled, almost in shock. After a momentary panic, I realized, first with relief, and then with a different, hungrier panic, that my wallet was in the glovebox of the car, where I’d put it after a trip to the bank the day before, not wanting to reach back to the back seat to put it back in my bag.

            “I don’t have my wallet,” I repeated to the bored-looking cashier. “It’s in the car.”

             “Oh. You can go get it—I can hold your food for up to twenty minutes,” she offered helpfully, but already I was shaking my head, numbly, unable to explain, frozen by the impatient glances of the people piling up in line behind me. My husband had driven us to school today. He had the keys. He was on the far side of campus from where we parked, in a class whose classroom number I didn’t know. It would take me twenty minutes to find him, get the keys, and get back to the centrally located cafeteria, let alone the car.

             “It’s fine; I’ll get it.”

              A girl with dark red dyed hair and confident posture behind me pushed forward, putting her food with mine, offering her credit card to the cashier and brushing off my murmurs of shock, protestation and gratitude. I thanked her again as she hurried off and she smiled and shrugged, and I was left to eat my food in a haze of thankful contemplation.

"It's Fine, I'll Get It."
I mean, yeah, it was only $7 and, yeah, she probably was in a hurry and wanted me and my line-holding dilemma out of her way so she could eat and get on with her life. But $7 is another meal for herself tomorrow. And rather than any other option for getting me out of the way, like telling me to get out of the line, or just waiting silently until I did so, she decided to be kind.

Skip forward a couple days.

             I was the sole inhabitant of the sole laundry mat in my small college town. A couple in their early thirties had come in for a few minutes just after I’d arrived twenty minutes earlier wearing pajamas and tired expressions and had thrown a couple of trash bags full of clothes into the heavy duty washing machines, but otherwise my laundry vigil had been one of solitude and the thumping noises of washers and dryers.

The door scraped open and slender young woman with bobbed brown hair and large, stressed eyes wobbled in, carrying a basket containing an enormous pile of comforters and blankets. After glancing up at her entrance, I paid her little mind as she put her basket on the counter and began checking out the machines.

             After a few moments of dithering, she came over to ask me if the things in the oversized washing machine belonged to me. There were only a few minutes left on the timer. I indicated that I was not the owner, and that they had been gone for a while. She dithered a bit more, asked if there were any other laundry mats in town (there aren’t), asked if I thought the owners would mind if she took out their things if they didn’t return soon (probably not, but who knows?), then announced her decision to wait either for them to return or for enough time to pass to make taking out their clothes reasonable.

             To my surprise, after making this decision, she went back outside to her car, abandoning her overstuffed basket of blankets on the table. A few moments later, she came back with two small blonde girls in tow and a wide-eyed baby boy on her hip. She perched herself on a chair near me with the boy and quietly gave the little girls instructions on how to insert quarters into the vending machine in the corner that dispenses small toys rather than candy. I went back to my own business.

             Not long later, the girls were taking turns playing and bargaining noisily over their tiny toys (the sparkly ball was coveted, the orange plastic balloon, not so much). Mom, figuring out the change machine and rearranging the laundry, soon became frustrated with her single free hand and put down baby boy but quickly regretted her decision, realizing he refused to stand next to the table, choosing immediately instead to sit down and begin to crawl toward his sisters each time she attempted to set him on his feet. Mom picked him up again, tutting about the state of the floor, and eyed the washer, which had finished washing several minutes earlier, and which she was clearly itching to empty and refill with her own things. 
I'm a Decently Normal Human Being...
Finally, exasperated, she asked the older of the two girls to come and hold her brother. Either too engrossed in their activities to notice, or enjoying their play too much to want to stop, neither girl so much as looked up.  

            “I can hold him… if you want?” I offered, uncertainly. I nannied triplets, and I know well the need for another set of hands. Nevertheless, though I’m a decently normal human being and not particularly threatening-looking, I was an almost complete stranger. I didn’t want to creep the poor woman out.

             Either desperation or trust in my goodwill (or both) won out, and for the next five or so minutes, I had the privilege of holding the restless cherub, with his adorable tiny white and blue sock on one foot and tiny, cold pink toes on the other. As soon as she’d finished moving the wet clothes to a bin and her blankets to the washer, Mom happily retrieved her baby, whom I willingly relinquished then went back to my own business, a little more satisfied with life.

It wasn’t until later that day that I realized that, in a minor way, I had done as young Haley Joel Osment’s character suggested in a truly great movie—that is, I had ‘paid it forward.’ I allowed an act of kindness directed at me to make me more aware of how I could help someone else, then acted on the impulse to be kind, myself.
The "I Am 100% Right and They Are 100% Wrong" Mentality.
           There has been a lot of media dedicated recently to the divisions in our country. Each side seems determined to vilify the other. Too many people have the “I am 100% right and they are 100% wrong” mentality. To try and prove it, they take whatever the weakest link in the opposition may be—the dumbest things done, the worst things said, flaws in personal appearance—and turn it into jokes, memes, and hold them up as representing the whole. Not only is behavior unfair (and creates several logical fallacies—Straw man, anyone? Ad hominem sound familiar?) but it does nothing to change the minds of the other side but only confirms to their side the stupidity and wrongness of the opposition, solidifying the divisions between the groups.

Now maybe, like Pay It Forward’s Trevor McKinney, I am a little too trusting in the goodness of people, and if so, so be it. But I believe that in reality, the majority of people really, truly good and decent human beings. Friends to their friends, neighborly neighbors, loving parents and children. We each act according to the knowledge and perspective we have to the best of our abilities.
We're All Trying to Do What We Think is Right.
Not to suggest we live in a morally relativist world where conflicting opinions are all correct because the people holding them believe they are, or where all actions are morally equal so long as the person doing them thinks they are right to act that way. Some things are good and some are not. There are bad people in this world who do incredibly evil things every day. There are fairly good people who do terrible things for the wrong reasons. There are terrible people who do good things for the wrong reasons. But I am certain they are the minority. 

             For the rest of us, we’re all trying to do what we think is right, trying to figure out what’s good and important and true. We’re still learning, and sometimes we mess up. Nobody is 100% right about everything all the time (in fact most of us aren’t 100% right about anything anytime), and I’m fairly certain that especially in politics, no political stance or opinion is completely perfect and correct.  But we all have opinions, we all make choices, because we’re all trying to know and do what’s right—and, dang it, can we have a little compassion? Can we remember our fellow beings are human? To err is human. It’s a saying, it’s our nature, and it’s true. We err! All the time. Just because someone does or says something we don't agree with, makes a mistake, doesn’t mean we should strip their humanity and reduce them to a punchline (or worse, do so to their children!). We all mess up, and we'd all rather be respectfully corrected when we mess up than made out to be idiots, evil, mentally deficient, or have our appearances made the subject of criticism and crassness.
There Is Good in Each of Us—So Much Good.
We might disagree on many things, but there is so much that we fundamentally agree on. The person who opposes you on any given political topic might be the one who’ll willingly pay for your lunch when you forget your wallet, or who’ll seems decent enough that you’d let them hold your baby when you need an extra set of hands. The redhead didn’t ask my opinion on politics helping me. The laundry mat mom didn’t ask my religion before letting me help her.

There is good in each of us—so much good. I believe that. We have to rely on the good in others every time we walk out our doors, or society would fall apart. We all have reasons for believing what we believe, doing what we do, and whether our reasons are well thought out or the outcome of culture, community, or upbringing, we all do what we do with the intent to make the world (or just a life or two) better. So, for goodness sake, stop tearing each other and this nation apart, and try to see the human on the other side of the issue—and by doing so, act a bit more human yourself.

* pictures in this post (with the exception of the political memes, which were from various facebook friends' walls, and the Pay It Forward screen shot, which was provided by Google) were found on 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Oh, hey! P.S. I got married.

Wow, it's been a while since I last wrote anything here. And there have been good reasons, I promise. Right around the time that I last posted, things started getting serious with a certain red-headed mister, which was kind of a huge distraction from this blog.

Then on May 5th, I received a very pretty present and answered a very serious question in the affirmative. Wedding plans (and the accompanying fiance) are by far the most time-consuming and distracting things I've ever dealt with, guys.

No worries, though. I survived. And on August 3rd, I married the love of my life, with whom I've been living ever since pretty much happily ever after.


Aren't we cute?

I still have thoughts I want to share and things I want to say, so more thoughtful and meaty blog posts will show up soonish. I just felt it would be ridiculous if I didn't acknowledge the biggest thing to happen in my life thus far before going on to write about them. I mean, I just found and was sealed to my best friend and eternal companion. That's a rather big deal.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

In which Lisa waxes on (and on) about stories

I love stories. If you know me, you know that I am a huge nerd for stories. If it’s got plot and characters, I’m all about it—movies, books, tv shows, musicals, games, camp-fire ghost stories, fish-that-got-away tales, “How was your day?” “Oh, do get me started” rants and all the rest. I love ‘em. I’ve studied what makes a good plot, the characteristics of heroes and villains and antiheroes, traditional heroic arcs, predictable plot twists, and on and on ad infinitum. Basically, stories are my thing.

So it probably isn’t too surprising when I say that I’ve had stories on my mind lately.

In particular, I’ve been musing about our stories, yours and mine. The lives we lead and the ordinary adventures on which we go daily. Our heartbreaks and triumphs, our goals and our efforts to achieve them, our feelings, thoughts and actions. The average person (with the exception, perhaps, of people with certain mental or emotional disorders) is the protagonist of his or her very own “Once upon a time.”


Think about it. The protagonist is the usually the main person from whose point of view the world of the story is seen. They are not perfect, they do not always make the right choices, their point of view is often biased by their beliefs and experiences—but to them, and to the observer (the reader of the book, hearer of the story, viewer of the show) their actions are generally justified. For an example, let’s talk Harry Potter. (Yeah, I referenced Harry Potter in my last blog post. Do I have an obsession? Yes, in fact, I kind of do. Sorry, not sorry. If it really bothers you, skip the next paragraph.)

In the Harry Potter series, young wizard Harry, who was raised by abusive better-than-thou bullies, meets and immediately dislikes snide better-than-thou bully, Draco Malfoy. 

Throughout the series he suspects Malfoy of being behind any number of dastardly deeds. Sometimes he is right (Death Eater invasion of Hogwarts, anyone?), but at least as often he is wrong. Occasionally he gets in trouble trying to prove Malfoy is behind things when Malfoy really isn’t (making illegal polyjuice potion to try and prove Malfoy opened the Chamber of Secrets, for example). Similarly, it is part of Harry’s impulsive courageous nature—usually a good thing!—that he often acts rashly, without fully understanding the situation (setting out to “save” Sirius from the Ministry of Magic, only to find it was a trap and Sirius isn’t even there).

Now, before you start wondering if you just stumbled onto a Harry Potter appreciation/analysis-only blog, lemme get to my point. As happens often when we see the world entirely from one point of view, we see Harry’s actions as completely reasonable. Even when he messes up horribly, we understand his rationale and we find it easy to forgive him his stupidity.

But imagine we’d seen the story from Draco’s point of view? Or Dumbledore’s? Hermione’s? Harry’s actions wouldn’t seem quite so normal if we saw him through their characteristics and their sets of beliefs and biases.

This whole train of thought started when I found myself confronted with a version of a story I’d heard before, but from a different point of view than I’d previously considered. That is, I listened to the musical, “Hamilton.”

(So good, guys. 10/10 adults-with-a-tolerance-for-less-than-squeaky-language-and-an-appreciation-for-musicals-and-American-history would recommend.)

In Hamilton, we see the story of the American Revolution from the perspective of founding father, Alexander Hamilton. (Shocking, I know. You never would’ve suspected that was the protagonist, based on the name of the play, right?) I am a big history nerd too (STORIES, man—REAL LIFE stories!) and the Revolution is one of my favorite periods to learn about. In particular, I have always loved learning about Thomas Jefferson. I rather relate to the tall, shy, musically talented guy with a penchant for expressing himself better in the written word than vocally.

So, given my adoration of Jefferson, you can imagine my surprise when, halfway through enjoying the heck out of that musical, at the point when I’d already come to relate to and like Hamilton, I found out that he and Jefferson were political opposites. “Hamilton” portrays Jefferson as a hypocritical, pompous, jealous jerk who has it out for the play’s hero. Of course, the play exaggerates the character of Jefferson a bit for entertainment purposes, but it still represents the role that Jefferson played in Hamilton’s narrative pretty well.

It took me a while to reconcile Hamilton’s Jefferson with the Jefferson I’d pictured while reading my history books. A person couldn’t possibly be both the villain of one representation and the hero painted in another! Which version was right? I fretted. But eventually I realized they both could be, and quite possibly are, correct. It just depends on who is looking, their relationship with the person under scrutiny and the character traits and actions to which they pay more attention.

Sorry, I realize I’m getting a little long winded here, and not everyone is as excited about the nuances of story as I am. I’ll try and round up my thoughts quickly.

My POINT, gentle reader, is this: we are each the protagonists of our own stories, for good and ill. Of course, it is important that we be our own heroes and heroines. We are here to live and to become and to make something of ourselves, after all. But sometimes we fail to understand that every other person we know is also the protagonist of their own story too. Every action, interaction, relationship, passing gesture, every story has another side to it. We would do well not to villainize those people to whose perspectives we are not privy. And, even more than that, we could all be better at trying to understand the stories of those around us. We’ll likely find ourselves far more sympathetic to them, and we may even find ourselves in the role of antagonist in their lives and understand changes we can make in our own characters. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy "Month of Love," y'all

            Wow, it’s February already. The month of luuuuuurve. That’s what my brain (and I’m sure it’s not just me) jumps to at the mere mention of February: Valentine’s day and all it entails. Cuddles and cute red hearts, sickly-sweet selfies with significant others and shout outs to “best friends” and “baes” on facebook.
            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hatin’ on the holiday. I love Valentine’s day. I think it’s wonderful that our society celebrates love. From shyly delivering cards to childhood crushes to watching my grandparents slow dancing to Frank Sinatra, I have great memories of Februarys past. I just think that there is far too much emphasis placed on romantic love.
            Romantic love is important and noble and adorable and necessary, but it is hardly fair to prioritize any and all romantic loves above other types of love. Consider, the “love” in a relationship between teenagers who probably won’t be able to stand each other in a year’s time versus the love shared in a relationship between mother and child, between roommates, teammates or longtime friends.
            This week, I’ve had some time and reason to ponder on platonic love—particularly the love between my roommates.
            To make a Harry Potter reference (because that's how I role), “there are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 1997). 

             Not to say that we’ve faced fictional creatures of terror together, but we’ve spent over four months together facing adult, college-student life together. This is including but not limited to responsibilities, boys, breakups, breakdowns, homework, house cleaning and house parties. If that isn’t the real life equivalent of a twelve-foot troll, I don’t know what is.

            We’ve prayed together, laughed together, snuggled and napped together, shared food and funny stories, and we’ve seen each other through every mood in the spectrum. And this weekend, when one of my roommates walked into our apartment several hours later than expected, after having gone through a serious, life threatening accident and emerged unscathed, we held back tears together as we clung to each other. We knelt together and thanked God for her safety. And I realized just how dear each of these women has become to me, how devastated I would be to lose any of them. God puts people in our lives for a reason, and the ladies of apartment 113, my friends, have made my life better by their being in it, and that seems reason enough for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Of Lemons and Travel, Talents and Time


A Cardinal Rule of Blogging:

Do not attempt to address too many subjects in one post, lest you confuse your reader.

My thoughts on the matter echo that of a swashbuckling fictional protagonist you've probably all heard of.
Elizabeth Swann. Cooler than you since approximately 1728.

So I'll try to stick with the guideline and keep this post as un-confusing as possible, even if I do throw in several subjects.

But enough of gifs. I have thoughts to explore. 


I recently returned from a trip to the exotic land of Minnesota. The reunion with that part of my heart was a deeply satisfactory one; I could probably go on for the rest of this post just about the feelings of familiarity and comfort that the first sight of that hallowed place brought me at 39,000 feet. 

However, that is not my intent. Nor is my intent for this blog to be the equivalent of a public diary, so I'm not going to give you a minute to minute report of what I did, who I saw, where I went, whatever. Pictures are worth a thousand words anyway, here's a few:

As much as I loved my visit and adore the people I saw (both those you see pictured, those whose pictures weren't included, and those I forgot to pull my phone on), my thoughts keep coming back to our experience coming home,

We (mom and I) had been congratulating ourselves on our traveling savvy all week. We'd obtained the best deal for flights, lodgings, rental car, the works. Of course, cheap usually comes with an additional non-monetary price. In the case of our lodgings, it was the price of our comfort zones: two women staying in the basement of a stranger with questionable bathroom cleaning skills. With our flight, it was the unearthly hour at which we were constrained to travel,

Having gone to bed two hours prior, we arose so early in the morning it was more accurately still night. In that bleary half asleep world of dimmed lights and disconnected thoughts, we dressed, ate reheated Korean dinner and two day old chocolate chip muffins, gathered our things, drove to the airport and returned our car. 

Then began our adventures. 

The tram from the terminal we were in to the one in which we were supposed to be was half an hour late. Buxom airport-Verizon employees waiting with us bemoaned their lateness to their shifts, while we and other flyers shifted uneasily under the weight of backpacks and looming departures.

When at last the tram delivered us safely a five minute ride away, we found our security check in, complete with two lines of over two hundred people each. Baffled, sleep starved, we crowded in with the others, whispering, anxiety growing, comparing flight times with our neighbors, and fingering our tickets. There wasn't a crowd in Salt Lake when we left it at a similarly unholy hour. I apparently missed the memo that Minnesotan travelers are nocturnal and prefer to congregate in great masses, like bats, in large open spaces like airports as dawn approaches. 

Another forty five minutes to the front of the line. A security person gestured us forward. Mom presented her ticket. Our flight had been boarding for half an hour now. We were down to fifteen minutes to departure. After grimly studying her ID and ticket, the man behind the desk swiped the ticket, there was a beep, a green light, and she was through. My turn. Grim examination, swipe, beep, red light, problem.


The details become fuzzy in my memory after that. I remember feeling mortified at how much like a whimper my voice sounded as I cried out in dismay. The guard explained gruffly that we'd have to reprint my ticket. My ticket, which was printed at the same time and place as my mother's. My ticket, which was, to untrained eyes such as mine, now blinking away the last cobwebs of exhaustion as adrenaline set in, in all ways besides my name and seat number identical to hers. 

I remember striding purposefully to the opposite end of the gym-sized room, being told to wait by a bored bilingual airline staff member assisting a man rattling off Spanish. Finally crying out in desperation, "my flight's about to leave and my ticket won't work, please do something!" A new ticket. Priority line to the front of the crowd of nocturnal Minnesotans. Then boots on, boots off. Boots on again. Running, out of breath past dozens of gates, sympathetic faces, tired eyes. Then panting in another line in front of our gate, where another bored airline staff member with an official jacket a size too small and rosy cheeks informed me -- with seven minutes til departure, the plane still parked just on the other side of that window -- that we'd missed the flight. Doors close at ten minutes to departure. 

Exhausted, resigned, we stood and waited as we were issued more tickets, a new gate, a different layover, a later flight. We walked back the way we'd come and further, found the fresh gate -- its waiting area empty but for a man sleeping on a bench, a couple of airport employees chatting too cheerily behind their desk, a discarded paper McDonalds bag on a table -- and collapsed onto seats. 


Another Cardinal Rule of Blogging:

Don't make your posts too long or no one will read them.

I write to whatever length pleases me. You have no obligation to read my writing. I write for myself.


You're probably wondering about the title, "Of Lemons and Travel, Talents and Time." The only thing in it that I've mentioned so far is travel. "Where's the rest of it?" you're likely asking.

Don't worry, I'm getting there.

There's a great saying, one I've grown up with, one you're probably familiar with: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." (Ding! There's the lemons bit.)

I've never pondered on this saying very much prior to this week, but my fairly literal understanding of it has always been that just because life hands you something sour doesn't mean you have to take it as is. You can modify it to something more palatable. This is a life philosophy that my mom passed on to me by example, calling the frequent wrong turns, backtracking and recalculating GPS's we've experienced together "adventures," where one might have called them "being lost." Changing the name (and therefore, often, my attitude) about an unfortunate happenstance has always made it seem easier to bear, made it lemonade, for me.

But on Thursday morning, as I jogged down a hill in wet socks, I had some time to ponder about the nature of lemonade. (Not a sentence you hear everyday. Not a sentence I thought I'd ever write, either.)

My vanity had inspired me to wear a pair of ankle-bootie heels with my outfit (I should probably add here that I have returned to school at BYU-I; there would be no point in wearing heels during the week back home -- heck, I didn't even wear makeup or real pants half the week at home -- as I did very little that involved leaving the couch, let alone the house). My first class was on the far side of campus, and it had been raining on and off all morning. All combined, these factors made the idea of walking to class less than favorable. I thought to myself, this once, I will be lazy and drive.

Bad idea. 

It turns out, parking your car anywhere on or near campus is impossible without a permit. This didn't stop me from wasting ten of my fifteen minutes of pre-class cushion looking for a place to stash my trusty little Malibu. With two minutes left til class started, I pulled into the parking lot of the Rexburg temple. Just as far a walk from my class as my apartment would have been, but from the opposite direction. 

At first, I tried to jog, my heels tapping out a nervous staccato on the damp pavement, but soon common sense returned along with visions of my nonsensically clad feet flying out from under me at the first patch of slime the rain was sure to have engendered.  I slipped out of my short gray boots and, in my plaid socks, returned to speed. 

The world had conspired to make me late to something yet again. Second time in a week. I was dodging lemons, reassuring myself internally that this would make a fun story later. Just another adventure.

As I'd sat in the quiet of predawn in the airport in Minnesota, I'd had the thought that I should probably use the next few hours before our new flight to sleep, to read the book I'd borrowed from my home teacher and brought with me, to write a blog post, something. Instead I had continued to sit, blinking tiredly, as the room filled up with small families, older couples, men in hoodies and women in boots, and the time slipped away. Finally, stirring out of my stupor, I noticed an incredible sunrise and it occurred to me that I'd been given a few extra hours in my beloved Minnesota. Hardly something to complain about.

I snapped a picture, shared it and congratulated myself on my lemonade. I'd bested those lemons. I'd kept my temper in check. I'd found the silver (or rather pink and orange) lining in the storm clouds.

Back at school, as I slid into my seat, eight minutes late, feet chilled and shoes still in hand, I considered my lemonade-making expertise. Funny adventure. Nice sunrise. My optimism in both situations, while laudable, wasn't much of an improvement. Sure, my lemonade was palatable, but could I have made better lemonade? 

This brings me to the talents. As in the Parable of the Talents. (Stick with me here, this is the exploratory bit of this blog post. And if we get lost... well, it'll be an adventure.)

In the Parable of the Talents, a stern and imposing man of great wealth leaves a number of talents -- something that the LDS "Guide to the Scriptures" describes as "an ancient measure of weight or sum of money that was of great worth" (emphasis added)-- with his servants, along with unspoken expectations for what they will do with his money.

One servant, having been given this positively terrifying responsibility (let me remind you, when he fails, his Lord commands that he be cast into outer darkness, to weep and wail and gnash his teeth -- yipes), with this enormous sum of money surely gathering sweat in his hand, decides to keep it safe rather than risk losing it. He maintains the status quo. He does not allow the situation to become worse than it is by becoming responsible for losing his master's funds.  But neither does he really improve the situation.

In the airport, I had the thought that I should sleep. I had the idea that I should finish my home teacher's book. I had the inkling that this airplane business might make a good blog post, and I should write it.

Did I do any of that?


I maintained the status quo. I did not allow the experience to change my attitude for the worse, I remained positive, I took a picture. Did I actually improve the situation by using it to my or anyone's benefit? No.

Am I suggesting that I will be held accountable for my use of every second given me? Well, actually, yeah, I guess I am.

Like the talents in the Parable, time, especially time when things are going poorly, is a terrifying responsibility. Elder Richard L. Evans, narrating the film Man's Search for Happiness, said,

“Life offers you two precious gifts—one is time, the other freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. …
“Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.
“Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for."
If you are at all like me, when you first read that last line your immediate thought was, "Crap. What about the time I've spent on naps/video games/shopping/pretty much anything besides reading scriptures, praying, service, etc." But no worries. Repentance and the Atonement are definitely real, beautiful things and cover sins of omission as well as those of commission. Which is good, because I don't think I've ever spent a single day using every moment perfectly. The closest I came was on my mission, and I thank God for the incredible trainer who showed me the importance of every last second there.

Not that spending time doing things that are not gospel-centric is sinful. The developments of our characters, our talents, is important. Relaxation is important. Having fun and building relationships are important. And sometimes we need some time to sit unproductively in an airport to process a frankly traumatizing experience. There is a "time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn. a time to dance" as it says in Ecclesiastes 3:4. God has not given us a step by step recipe that tells us how to use our time perfectly (and anyway, even if He had, we're human and mistake prone and we would be incapable of following it perfectly -- again, the Atonement is so, so necessary). That's one reason why it is so essential to have the guidance of the Spirit with us at all times. To know on what we should spend our time, and how we can make our lemonade as good as we possibly can under the circumstances.

I suppose that's the real reason I'm sitting here, a week later, unsure of my use of time at five in the morning in a practically-abandoned waiting area in an airport over a thousand miles away. Were those thoughts about how I should use that time in the airport actually promptings? Or just a resurgence of my missionary waste-not-one-moment mindset? Or my brain attempting to create a sense of normalcy in a jarringly unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation?

I don't know. And it bugs me. Can I change what I did by worrying about it? No. Can I learn from it by thinking about it? Yes, and I have. (I hope.)

Returning to talents and lemons. Life gives us lemons sometimes. Things go wrong. Trams are late. Your ticket doesn't scan. The parking is all permit parking. These moments, like talents, are a terrifying responsibility of enormous potential. What we do with them is up to us. Do we make lemonade? Do we follow the Spirit to make it as good as it could be?

Because eventually, you're on that rescheduled flight, you're sitting in class with wet socks, those moments have passed, the lemons have stopped flying, and you are responsible for what you did with them.

So how about you? When is the last time you made some excellent lemonade (literal or figurative)? Did this post make sense to you? Am I the only one who thought the Parable of the Talents could apply to our time and choices under pressure? Tell me in the comments!

*Thank you to Sarah, my bestie writer-friend, for proof reading this post and giving excellent commentary and advice. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Returning like a zombie from the grave

With a shudder and groan, a post arises out of the depths of the interwebs! ...probably to little to no heed from anyone. (Which begs the question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? But that's a philosophical ponderment for another day.)

But, anyway, ehem, HELLO INTERNET. I know. It's been years. Literally. Two of them. But hey, I had a mission to triumphantly carry out! (Not a scary, undercover-for-the-FBI, killing-bad-guys-and-saving-priceless-treasures sort of mission, but more of the scary, one-hundred-percent-transparent, sharing-the-thing-that-means-more-to-me-than-anything-with-strangers variation of mission. Actually, now I think of it, I suppose there was some saving of priceless treasures involved...haha! If you somehow found this blog without actually knowing me and are still confused, I'll direct you to this lovely linky to clear it up a bit for you. If that one doesn't help, maybe I can have some friends explain to you in person?)  So yeah! Sorry, blog world, for leaving you out of the loop.

My mission was an experience of terrifying, humbling, incredible and needed growth and satisfaction, one that I'm afraid I can't sum up in words that really adequately explain any of it. But never fear, I'll probably attempt it the rest of my life, so I'm sure you'll hear plenty about it. I'd like to say I changed a lot on my mission, but really I think as much as I changed, I actually just more firmly cemented myself into who I was already becoming. I'm far more outgoing, less self centered (at least I hope!), better at carrying on real conversations and carrying out good habits, adapted to making decisions, goals and plans, a wee bit more world wise, a tad more forgiving... basically, I grew up a little and grew closer to my Savior a lot. Of all the adventures I've had in my twenty two years, those eighteen months in Minnesota were my favorite adventure yet.

So, to sum up:
I'm still alive (dur).
I served a mission (and now fall in the RM Mormon category[read HOT COMMODITY{there are sniggers from the distance}]).
I grew up and learned how to actually be a disciple of Christ rather than just a member of His church.

So yeah! Watch this space, 'cause now I've remembered the existence of this blog, I'll probably get back to posting at a, uh, somewhat regular interval. And not the boring, "I've only got enough motivation to post five sentences to prove I haven't died" type posts, or the "and this other boring thing happened that you couldn't care less about" type posts either. I have THOUGHTS, internet. Thoughts that are WORTH sharing. And they'll be coming to you... right after this commercial break.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer Livin'

Hey guys! Time for the mandatory occasional update. I'm home for the summer. I've got a job in the frozen department at a local grocery store. It sounds kind of lame, but I find it strangely satisfying. I plan on being massively productive in my writing life this summer, though so far I've been spending all my time off indulging my laziness. I've started going to the local singles ward again; maybe a miracle will happen and I'll manage to be sociable enough to make friends. Stranger things have been known to happen, right? Haha. Really, though, me being sociable isn't that unusual. It's just actually going beyond 'friendly' to actually 'friends' that I seem to have problems with. Mmmm, anyway. That's all for now folks. Stay tuned for the next Update of the Life of Lisa.