Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Best Weekend EVER

I had a fabulous weekend! I’m still basking in the joy it brought me! It may seem pretty normal to some, but it was definitely not for me.

Weekends are typically pretty boring for me. They include doing homework, feeling bad for not doing enough of said homework, and feeling exhausted from the side effects of 2 medications I take on Friday nights. That’s about it.

The past few weeks have been especially busy and the weekends especially boring. Though I am proud of myself for all the work I’ve gotten done, I’ve been way too busy and way too stressed.

Well, I decided that this weekend, even though I had a paper to write and books to read, I was just going to have fun and not stress myself out. And that is just what I did!

Thursday after class I finally bought myself an iPhone. (yes, it is amazing. Yes, I am so glad I bought it. Yes, I have a super cute teal otterbox. And, surprisingly, no, I am not completely attached to it.) Then Sarah and I went to my best friend Malorie’s house. We brought Taco Bell (cause it’s her favorite). We watched the new Three Musketeers (which is so so good!). We played with little Allie (who is the cutest little girl in the world). We talked about life (the good and the bad). We looked at the picture book Malorie is making of Allie’s first year (I made it in a few times! YES!). We stayed until 12:30 (and would have stayed longer, but Sarah had to work). It was wonderful! (and I can’t think of anything else to put in parentheses for that one…)

Friday I went to the Temple with Mom. I love going to the House of the Lord, leaving the world behind and worshipping God. I was able to feel the Spirit, pour my heart out to my Heavenly Father, and feel so much comfort that even though my life may not be going exactly how I want it to, my Father knows what He is doing and everything will work out how it is supposed to.

When I got home, I read the new book, Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson. I don’t want to say too much about it now, cause I’m planning a whole post based on it. But it was such a good read! Check it out! Though I didn’t love waking up the next morning with majorly puffy eyes from crying. It was definitely worth it though.

THEN the best part. Saturday Sarah, Malorie, Allie, and I went to the Zoo! I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Houston Zoo, even though I grew up an hour away. Maybe I did for a field trip or something when I was younger, but I definitely don’t remember it. It was so fun! We stayed for 5 hours. We saw almost everything. Later in the afternoon most everything was asleep which was a bummer, but it was still fun. We’ll have to plan better next time.

My favorite parts were:

The Otters (and Allie)

Holding baby Allie

Petting the Sheep-y! (though I was sad he wasn't fluffier...)

Seeing Cosmo the Cougar while wearing BYU gear (Ok, he wasn't Cosmo, but he was a cougar! He's hard to see, but he's up there!)

Holding Allie some more

Our oranges lunch break

The little monkey! (I was very excited if you can't tell!)

The elephants (poor Allie was a little scared)

We had so much fun!!! We came back to the apartment, ate Chick-fil-a, took a nap while watching Anastasia, and I held Allie for an hour and a half while she slept (really is there anything better than holding a sleeping baby? I don’t think so! And I was so proud of her for staying quiet with me so her tired mommy could sleep. She is growing up!). We spent another like 3 hours together, just hanging out. Not doing anything in particular. It was so wonderful. I don’t think I’ve been able to spend that much time with Malorie since she got married in 2008. We were together for 12 hours! I have the best, best friend in the world and I love spending time with her more than almost anything else. I am so grateful for her and our friendship. I don’t deserve it, but I’m glad she sees something good in me. I’m pretty sure we should have been sisters. I love you, Malorie!!! Thanks for being such a wonderful friend!!

Another particularly wonderful part of the weekend was hearing Allie say my name so much. She’s been saying it for a little over a month, but I wasn’t sure she knew who went with the name. But she does! Malorie had her practice saying our names on the way to pick us up. Then she said our names a lot throughout the day, which was wonderful. THEN later in the day I was in the bathroom and could hear her saying, “Where Rachel?” I about DIED!! It made me so stinkin’ happy! Then apparently she screamed our names on the way home. AWW!! I love that little girl so much! Thanks for sharing your beautiful daughter with me, Malorie!

I love my life! I had such a good weekend. And because I was doing things I wanted to, I didn’t feel bad for not doing my homework. Normally I just waste time and then get mad at myself for being lazy. Not this time! I loved every second of it!

And I’m also proud that I forced myself to stay on campus to write my paper until I finished it today. Yay!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2/30: Fears, Tonight’s Thoughts

To know what I'm talking about, read this.

Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears:

1) I’m pretty freaking scared to death of spiders. I’m not really sure where this fear came from. When I was a kid, there was a huge banana spider outside my bedroom window and I wasn’t afraid of it. Now, if that happened, I’d die. I don’t know what changed to make me scared. But oh boy, I am! I have too many scary spider stories. I can’t even type them cause they freak me out. Some of you have probably heard them. Please note: I just typed some key words about them to explain how horrible they are, but got too freaked out and deleted it. A friend of mine convinced me to let a tarantula climb on my arm (for moral support – she wanted to for a specific reason but needed someone to do it with her and because I love her so much, I agreed). Fortunately for me, she never got it set up, so I got out of it. Thank goodness. I probably would have had a heart attack and died. Just talking about this gives me the heebie-geebies! I think I need to take a shower after typing about this…

2) I’m scared of crazy bridges. Not just your normal, run-of-the-mill bridges. I can handle short ones or straight ones just fine. The ones that get me are the super long or super curvy ones. For example, most of the on-ramps for Beltway 8 in Houston freak me right out. I have to focus on my breathing and tell myself repeatedly that I’m not going to die. For some unknown reason, I always think that something is going to happen to the car and I’m going to lose control and careen over the edge of the bridge and die. It’s kinda horrible. I also always get just a bit anxious when I drive to Galveston on those long bridges. It’s not too bad, but I am a little hyper-aware on bridges like that. The worst example of this was when I was driving to Florida. There’s this huge bridge through some swamp in Louisiana. It’s something like 50 miles long. It takes an hour to drive on. Nothing but swamp for miles and miles. I couldn’t help but think about how the bridge was surely going to collapse and then we’d crash into the water but we wouldn’t die in the car – we’d be able to get out but then we’d have to swim to land, but that wouldn’t be for another 20 miles so we’d definitely either drown or get eaten by alligators. And with my luck it would be either my mom or my niece that got attacked first and then I’d have to fight off the gator and…and…and… So many horrible things went through my mind the first time we crossed it. The second time – it was even worse. EW! I’m never driving on that bridge ever again.

3) I’m afraid of leaving this life and it being like I never existed. I’m afraid of being forgotten. I’m afraid that when I die hardly anyone will be at my funeral. I’m afraid that there will be no mark left behind because of me. Now, I know that these things won’t happen. But my fear of being irrelevant drives a lot of what I do with my life. I want my life to have meaning, not for my own benefit, but for others. I want to do things that influence other people for good. I want them to feel the love of God because they knew me. I want to help them in their hard times. I want to life them up and give them hope. And if I’m successful in doing that, I don’t have to be afraid of my life having no meaning. In some ways as I’m writing this I feel incredibly narcissistic. But mostly I realize that because I value helping others so much and want so badly to do that, I’m afraid that I will fail.

In other news...

Today I had a cool experience. I got to observe some Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. I’ve been really interested in this model of therapy for a while, have read a book, seen some videos. But I’ve never seen it live until tonight. It was SUCH a good session. Amazing things happened. I could not believe how much progress I saw in just one session. I already thought I wanted to use this model, but wasn’t completely sold yet. After seeing tonight, I am 110% sold. I loved it! I was glued to it! I cried, I laughed, I thought deeply. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this session. A lot of people may say that emotions don’t matter that much. I don’t buy it. They matter so much. Beneath everything, there is an emotion that affects us. We learn to ignore it and deny, but it’s there. And when we let it out – oh man! That’s where the magic happens. For various reasons, I almost didn’t go tonight. I am SO glad I did. My experience was invaluable!

I also took the MMPI today. It’s a personality assessment. It’s 566 questions or something ridiculous like that. It took me an hour. I thought my hand was going to fall off. Seriously. It was insane. Don’t ever take it, unless you enjoy the feeling of immense pain in your hand from meticulously filling in over 500 stupid little circles til you go crazy.

Also – I’ve been boycotting Glee since the episode in the Fall about the characters all having sex. I don’t think we should encourage sexual activity in teenagers. Some may disagree, but I feel pretty strong about it. However, my sis and I found out that Matt Bomer was going to be on last night. We absolutely adore him. Like, I’m fairly positive he is the most attractive man that has ever lived. So, we gave in on our boycott for one night. And let me tell ya – it was the best decision ever. Matt Bomer on his own is pretty fantastic. Add him singing and there is just nothing better. If you didn’t see it, you should look up the song he sang on youtube, Somebody that I used to know. SO GOOD! I love me some Matt Bomer!!


Sunday, April 8, 2012


Words, so many words. And none of them fun.
I’m trying to do research for a presentation I have Tuesday at 1. My brain is having a very hard time staying focused. If I’m gonna look at pages and pages of words, I want them to be fun. This is boring. Boo. I am so distracted! But at least it's with something much more entertaining - me!

Why yes, I do sometimes take breaks from homework by taking pictures of myself in a dang-cute hat with my face and hair lookin’ fantastic while neck down I’m in my purple, starry nightgown. Don’t you?
In other news, have you seen the new edible Easter basket grass? It’s blue and pink and green. It’s especially Green because it reduces plastic waste. It takes it away from the landfills and puts it instead in our little tummies (the waste and the grass part, not the plastic part – I would never recommend eating normal, boring, tasteless, plastic Easter basket grass). Sarah added it to our surprise Easter baskets this year. Partly because we had both already said we were curious how it would taste and partly because silly Target ran out of the normal, wastey Easter grass. I was pretty excited to try it. I ripped off a piece of the pink grass and shoved it in my mouth as fast as I could. Then I pulled it back out to look at it closer thinking, “wait, this is the edible stuff, right? Cause I don’t taste a thing!” It mostly just tasted like paper. Which is I guess a little better than plastic. I realized I would never know this pink grass’ true identity unless I tried it again. I turned the corners of my mouth down, shrugged my shoulders while raising my eyebrows and popped it back in. Paper, definitely paper. Oh wait! Its dissolving. Ohhh, there’s the flavor. Turns out it has to dissolve before it lets the light flavor seep out. It’s okay, but nothing to freak out about. I’m glad Sarah got some cause otherwise I would have wondered for the rest of eternity what the edible grass tasted like. Now I know. Where was this stuff when I was a baby and would often eat dirt and grass while my parents videotaped me (rather than stopping me)? It would have come in very handy.

My Easter morning surprise! Thanks, Sarah!
Sarah also got us fun new herb/flower gardening stuff! 8 new packets of seeds! I can’t wait til this presentation is done so we can plant them! As you can see, the pots and patio table are all teal. So is the little owl planter decoration thing we have so loving named Owlie. He's a hoot and a half! (did you catch that? hehe) We have such a skill for giving personalities to cute inanimate objects.
I’m not the kind of girl who claims to have a signature color because what does that even mean and what makes them so special they can claim a color anyway? But if I was one of those girls, teal would mine. I think this arose out of my love affair with the color green while I was married to blue. Blue was my favorite color for as long as I can remember. Then all of a sudden green started growing on me and I felt like I was cheating on my blue-hued love. Then I realized that (unlike in real affair situations which I highly discourage) I could combine my loves and make teal. And what a glorious epiphany that was! My life will never be the same.
Thanks to my friends Stephanie and Brianne for feeding me delicious dinner. The steak was perfectly cooked, the candied yams were delectable with their marshmallows, cinnamon, and oats, the green bean casserole provided the perfect dipping for my roll, and the pretzel salad made my heart sing. Thanks for being such great friends. J I’m super excited about our season tickets to the Hobby Center. I feel all kinds of cultured at the mere thought of the theater productions we shall see.
And now, back to the no-fun, make-me-want-to-do-anything-but-read-them words…

He Is Risen!

I love Easter Sunday.

I love that my sister surprised me with an Easter basket full of candy and fun new gardening stuff.

I love all the Easter candy that can only be found this time of year (jelly beans, Cadbury eggs and mini eggs, peeps - YUM!).

I love Easter dinner and how it usually consists of something a little special (a few years ago I had asparagus for the first time ever on Easter - now it's one of my favorite veggies).

I love the bright fun colors that people wear (today I'm wearing a pink blouse, white skirt - and my cowboy boots).

I love the sun shining lightly through my window. (Did I just say that? Normally I hate the sun - I must really be in a good mood).

I love seeing pictures of little kids doing Easter egg hunts (get those up on Facebook, friends!).

But more than anything else, I love that I get the time to think about my Savior Jesus Christ and all He has done for me.

I love that Christ loved me enough to pay a ransom for my sins. I love that He suffered for me in the Garden of Gethsemane. I love that I know He not only suffered for my sins, which are many, but that He felt all of my pain, my loneliness, my despair, my fear. He suffered everything I will have ever felt and ever will feel so that in my darkest hours, He would be able to be there and say to my spirit, "Rachel, I know this is hard. I know you are hurting. I know exactly how you feel right now. I know this because I suffered for you. I love you so much that I never want you to feel alone with your pain, so I felt all this for you. If you trust in Me, if you lean on Me, I can help you carry your burdens. I can comfort you and put my arms around you so you know you are not alone. I have graven your image in my hands. I did it all for you, Rachel. I paid the price for your sins. Turn to me and I will forgive you. Together, we can me it. I am here for you. Do not despair. Someday you will be able to see me again, and hug me, and cry with me. I can't wait for that day! But until then, turn turn to me. You may not see me, but you can feel me. I am right here. All this Rachel, because I love you!"

I love that because He rose from the grave, so will I. So will everyone I love. I will get to meet my brother who was taken from this earth before I was born. I will get to see my 3 grandparents who have passed and get to know them so much better than I did here. I will get to meet my ancestors. And we will all be together forever. This life is not the end. This life is just a moment in our eternal lifetimes. I am so grateful for that knowledge!

I am teaching in Relief Society today about the eternal nature of our souls. I know that we lived as spirit children with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. I know that we chose to come to this life to grow and progress so we could return to live with Them. I know that we have existed forever and we will continue to exist forever. I know that because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can be forgiven of our sins and we can live forever with our families in the presence of God.

I am so eternally grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for His Gospel that teaches me how to live my life as He has asked. I am so grateful for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, that God loves us enough to allow us to grow through trials, and that He has provided a way for us to return to live with Him again.

When I think of these glorious truths I want to climb on my roof and sing praises to my Savior! He loves us! He is Risen! We will live again! We can be forgiven of our sins! We can have eternal JOY! He is glorious! He is perfect! He is the definition of Love! He is my Savior and Redeemer!

Click here to see a beautiful video of the Atonement, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's the video you see first on the page.

Click here to learn more about the truths I've expressed here.

I know some of you believe differently than some of what I have expressed here. Some details may be different, but I think we can agree that Jesus is the Christ. He died for us and He lives again! Praise to the Lord, the Almighty!

Happy Easter Sunday, all. Remember the reason we celebrate.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

1/30, Random Things

To know what I'm talking about, click here

List 20 Random Things about yourself:

1. I sleep diagonally across my bed. My sisters often ask me what I’m going to when I get married and have to share the bed. Well, I hope my future husband doesn’t mind curling in a ball and sleeping on one of the corners, cause even when I fall asleep normally, I often end up diagonally anyway.

2. I love the sound of the french horn. No other instrument comes close to its beauty. Hearing good french horn brings me more joy than almost anything else. In high school, on a band trip to Disney World, I told my friends that when I die, I want to be listening to a french horn. Still do. True story.

3. I have lived in 5 states (born in New Jersey, grew up in Texas, went to college in Utah, spent a summer doing research in Washington, served my mission in Florida, and now am back in Texas). I also like to claim that I lived in England, though really I just visited my parents for extended periods while they lived there. While in Europe we visited Scotland, stopped at an airport in the Netherlands, spent a few days in Germany, drove in Switzerland, Austria, and France, and toured part of Spain. I LOVE travelling and want so badly to do more of it.

4. I greatly aspire to have a huge library in my home someday. Wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, dark wooded bookshelves full of mostly books, but also some knick-knacks and accessories. A sliding ladder to more easily access the top shelves. Dark green walls (for the bits that aren’t covered with bookshelves). Huge, dark red leather arm chairs, love seats, and ottomans. Fluffy pillows. A globe on a stand. Side tables and coffee tables to match the bookshelves. Antique table lamps that don’t match, but compliment each other. A huge, soft rug. A big ceiling fan. Can you picture it? Cause I sure can! Someday when I’m able to build a house, the most money will go into the library. Sigh…I want it now! J

5. I have never dyed my hair. I won’t always be able to say that because I know I will in the future. Those pesky white (not gray) hairs have got to go!

6. I have three scars on my legs. One from kneeling on a jack when I was a kid, one from sliding down a rusty, broken slide on our swing set that used to be in the back yard, and one from being sling-shotted off a golf cart while on vacation with my best friend.

7. I am currently trying out gardening. And by gardening, I mean growing things in small pots rather than in the ground seeing as I live in a 3rd story apartment. And by things, I mean one planter of Oregano. That’s all we have so far. If it works well, we will graduate to more herbs and maybe flowers. Right now there are little tiny sprouts just barely coming out of the soil. I talk to these little sprouts in a high-pitched, cutesy, baby talk manner every day – lips puckered out and eyebrows furrowed. I am sure the little sprouts enjoy hearing my voice and are glad to know they are loved.

8. My bathroom is decorated in sage green and lavender. The perfect color combination for a bathroom.

9. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. I can’t wait to have kids to celebrate Christmas with. There are so many traditions that I can’t wait to do with my future family! Here’s one that I am really excited about: I have a book called The Autobiography of Santa Claus. It’s genius! There are 24 chapters. I plan on reading one chapter a night to my kids starting December 1 and going til Christmas Eve. It’s a story based on service, not on presents, which I think is great and so relevant to our day. And though it is about Santa Claus, it is very religious. I love it and I can’t wait!

10. My favorite sound (other than the French Horn) is wind blowing through pine trees. I feel peaceful and happy just thinking about it. I could spend a day in a grove of pine trees and do nothing but listen and think and be perfectly happy. My next favorite sound is waves crashing on the beach.

11. My favorite thing to do while at the park is swing. I plan on having a huge adult-sized swing-set in my backyard some day. It will probably have a large, comfy seat on it so I can swing for longer periods of time without my bum falling asleep! Have you gone swinging lately? If not, you should!!

12. I lived in Utah for four years, and somehow never went skiing. How did that happen? Future husband, whoever you are and wherever you are: you best plan on fixing that little problem!

13. I almost constantly have music playing in my head. Mostly instrumental music, though songs from the radio often get stuck in my head too. I still randomly will hear my 8th grade trumpet region music for hours at a time. I often hear soundtracks, such as from Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon, etc. I love music so much. I used to get annoyed at the music in my head because I felt like I was wasting so much time that I could have used to be thinking about important stuff. Now that I have more important stuff to take up my brain space, the music is a welcomed guest.

14. I am horrible at keeping up with planners. The only time I successfully used them was on my mission when I was basically forced to. I always buy them and use them for two weeks and then they don’t get touched again for months. I would like to change this about myself, but every time I try, it doesn’t work. But I keep trying – I’m sure someday it’ll stick.

15. I love reading books about dystopias. Some of my favorites are: The Hunger Games, the Matched series, Fahrenheit 451, the Giver (with the 2 sequels), Brave New World, and the Alliance. I have a goal to someday write a book. If that book happens to be fiction, I think it’ll be about a dystopia.

16. I have a freckle on my eye. Ok, I’m not really sure it’s a freckle. I don’t know what it is. But there is a little brown spot outside the rim of the iris in my right eye. It’s weird, but I like it.

17. I have a strange love for and obsession over the tv show Supernatural. It brings me more joy than any other tv show ever has. I don’t know how to explain it. I mean, Jensen Ackles is one good explanation for this love, but it is certainly not all of it. I used to be embarrassed to admit it was my favorite, mostly cause I don’t know many people who watch it and it’s really hard to explain to someone who’s never seen it. It sounds super lame when I try. But, I am no longer embarrassed – I love it too much to hide. J I am however, still very embarrassed by my love for the Vampire Diaries. That one I really have NO good explanation for, other than Ian Somerholder. It’s my guilty pleasure. Supernatural, it’s just a pleasure – no guilt involved.

18. I much prefer dark, gloomy skies to bright, sunny skies. The summer I was on my mission I actually yelled at the sun every day. It was too hot and made me uncomfortable! So I let it know how annoyed I was at it. I enjoy the sun every once in a while. But once it gets to be over 90 degrees, give me clouds and cool things down! Some people get depressed when it’s cloudy all the time – I get happy!

19. I once almost got killed by a hurricane. My sister and I went to the beach 3 hours before a hurricane made land fall. We were walking on the jetty and a huge wave came and knocked us off our feet. Luckily there was a cross post on the rails that caught us. If we had been about 3 steps behind where we were, we would have gotten washed out and battered against the rocks. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic in saying I was almost killed, but we definitely would have been hurt really badly.

20. The thing I hate most about being a girl is having to blow-dry my hair. I try to avoid it as much as possible. Ladies – there has got to be a better way to make our hair look good than blowing hot air on our heads right after we’ve showered and gotten all clean, only to make us all sweaty and not clean again. Someone, please find a solution to this life dilemma.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about me! What are some random things I may not know about you? What’s unique about you?

Next up: Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.

(wink, wink!)

30 Things

Remember how I mentioned in The Experiment that I found a blog off Pinterest and that’s how I decided to start doing more blogging? Well, this is what I found that day. It’s a list of 30 things to get to know someone more. The original author uses it on her blog and I’ve decided to do it as well. I won’t use it every day, but a few times a week.
30 Things
1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced? 7. What is your dream job, and why? 8. What are 5 passions you have? 9. List 10 people who have influenced your life and describe how. 10. Describe your most embarrassing moment. 11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have. 12. Describe a typical day in your current life. 13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have. 14. Describe 5 strengths you have.15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?27. What is your favorite part of you body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Now you'll probably get to know me way more than you'd ever actually want to! Yay! Feel free to join in on the fun on your own blogs or comment away to let me know some of these things about you!

Friday, April 6, 2012

To Mom, on your birthday

Dearingest, darlingest, Momsie:

(but not Popsicle cause I didn’t think about this 3 weeks ago for your birthday – maybe next year!)

Happy Birthday! How does it feel to be 29 yet again? (you know, that’s already weird since your oldest kid is 34, but how weird is it gonna be to be 29 when I, your youngest, is older than that in just over 4 years?)

As you know, I am a loser and have not gotten you a birthday present yet. I will get you one soon, I promise! But until then, I have decided to write you a letter to express to you my love and gratitude.

Mom, you really are the perfect mother for me. Heavenly Father knew what He was doing when He sent me to you and Dad. You might have questioned His reasons when I was born and you found out I was a girl, instead of a boy like you really wanted. (I still remember hearing for the first time about this while we were in England and Dad read to me from his journal of when I was born. I can’t believe you told the doctors to put me back if I was a girl! But I forgive you, cause we both know I am way cooler than any boy ever could have been!) I like to think that I was sent to you for your benefit, but I definitely know I was for my own benefit. I have learned so much from you and I am forever grateful that you are mine.

Thank you for often reminding me of how much fun we had together when I was little. I don’t remember most of that time, but there are pictures and stories that remind me. I love that while you were cooking, you let me sit at your feet playing with the pots and pans. I remember being so excited when you would clear out that one cabinet so I could take a flashlight, a snack, and coloring stuff inside it and play while you did what you needed to in the kitchen. I was so sad when I grew too big to play in there. (And even more sad that cabinet no longer exists! Though I do love the new kitchen). I love that when I was in Joy School, you were one of the teachers, too. I remember the lesson we had at our house where we learned to tie our shoes. I got all the shoes out of the laundry room and put them in the living room. I wanted to know how to tie my shoes before everyone else got there, so you showed me how a few times on one of Dad’s work shoes and I sat there for what seemed forever practicing and practicing. I don’t know if I did learn before my friends got there, but I like to think that I did. I remember eating tuna fish sandwiches and cheetos for lunch ALL the time, while drinking from my little green cup. I remember once, after watching Barney, pulling up a stool next to you in the kitchen and singing the “I love you, you love me” theme song. I was so excited to sing it to you because I felt that so strongly. I remember wanting so badly to get on the bus with Sarah and Michael to go to school and being so sad that I wasn’t old enough. But you were always there to give me a big hug and play with me so I could enjoy being home too. I loved going to the Family History Center with you and playing while you helped other people find records of their ancestors. (Although I did NOT like the time that I stapled my finger… OUCH!) I remember being so excited in the first few years of school when you would come help out at the computer lab – I was so proud of you and proud to be your daughter! I still am.

Thank you for being my friend when I was a teenager. Not in the way that some mothers would rather be the friend than the parent. You were the parent. You had rules and expectations for me and you made sure that I followed them. But you also showed me so much love that even when I got mad at you for small things, or you got mad at me for bigger things, I knew you loved me and I couldn’t stay mad for long. I felt so bad for some of my friends who didn’t have good relationships with their moms. I couldn’t imagine what that would have been like. I always knew that I could count on you and you would be there for whatever I needed. Even though I had bad self-esteem and thought that no one liked me or wanted to my friend, you showed me that I was fun to be with, that I was funny, that I had worth as a person. You wanted to spend time with me and talk with me. You listened to my ideas and encouraged me in the things I wanted to do. I loved when I was in basketball and we would stay up way too late watching the BYU Women’s Basketball games, even though I had to wake up in the morning for seminary. You encouraged me and told me that I could play for BYU if I wanted. I ended up quitting basketball for band, but you showed me that you would always be supportive of my dreams. I remember sitting in the library and talking for hours and hours about anything and everything. While most teenagers wanted to be out with friend (and though I sometimes did too), I wanted to be home, talking with you. I am so grateful that you made home a place I wanted to be, where I felt safe and loved. I remember telling people that you were my best friend (along with some other people, of course). And Mom, I don’t say it enough anymore, but you still are one of my best friends.

Thank you for teaching me about the Gospel, and how to love the Gospel. I never doubted your faith in Christ or in His restored Gospel. I saw how much it meant to you and it made an impression on me. You showed me how I can fulfill my callings in the church. I may not make handouts for my lessons or spend so much time each month visiting teaching so many sisters, assigned and unassigned, like you so faithfully do, but I have learned to accept the call to serve others and put my heart into it. I love the many Gospel centered talks we have had – in Yellowstone, at home, driving to Bay City, going to and from the Temple, on the phone. Growing up, it was so important to me to have someone who I could talk about the Gospel with so I could understand my own beliefs and how they fit into the Gospel. You were that someone. I always knew that I could talk to you about the Gospel and my own spiritual experiences and that you would not only listen, but get excited about it all with me. You still are that someone – just a few weeks ago I shared my new method of scripture study with you because I knew you would encourage me and get excited about it with me. Part of me wanted to yell it from the rooftops because of how much it was helping me, but really, the only person I truly wanted to share it with, was you. My love of the Gospel started with you. You showed me how to recognize the Spirit, how to get the Spirit when I needed it, and how to evaluate myself when I wasn’t feeling it so I could change and get the Spirit back. You taught me that Christ comes first. You never forced me to go to early-morning Seminary, but you encouraged me to go and pointed out to me how it was helping me, and I always went. You encouraged me to study the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and to pay attention to General Conference. You taught me about how our standards are not there to punish us or keep us from having fun, but to protect us and bring us joy. You showed me, through example, that the only way to be truly happy is through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thank you SO much for always encouraging me to go on a mission. I couldn’t count the times that you let me know how important your mission was to you and how much you wanted me to be able to have that experience. Even when I said I just wanted to get married, you said that I should wait because I would learn so many valuable things on my mission that I would need as a wife and mother. Though I’m not either of those, I know that it is true. I will be a much better wife and mother someday than I ever would have been if I had not gone on a mission. You never pushed the idea on me, just constantly reminded me what a wonderful experience it would be. If you hadn’t talked about it so much from the time I was young, I honestly don’t know if I would have gone. I didn’t do it for you, but in part, I did it because of you. You let me know how important it was to you, and I wanted that for myself. And because of you (and the Gospel, of course), I was able to touch many lives and help many people make steps to come unto Christ. I became better because of my mission, and so did many people that I influenced. Thank you for that.

Thank you for being supportive of my life now. You never questioned my desire to be a marriage and family therapist. You only supported me and encouraged me. When I doubt myself, you remind me that I can do this. You point out my God-given strengths and remind me of how they will help me to help others. You let me ramble on and on about what I’m learning, even though it’s probably sometimes boring. You encourage me to better myself in every area of my life, not just in my schooling. You lovingly remind me of the things I need to improve on. No matter what, I always know that you have my best interest at heart.

Thank you for not being perfect. This letter so far may sound like our life is easy and we never have any problems. But we do. Our family life is hard. There are times when all of us, I’m sure, want to scream because of our family is kinda crazy! We have a lot of struggles of all different kinds. We all get mad at each other, tease too much, waste precious time together doing things that don’t matter. We aren’t perfect. But we try. We try to make the best of the situations we are put in. No matter what happens between us, we know that we love each other and we would do anything for each other. We learned that from you, Mom. We aren’t perfect, but we don’t have to be. We get mad, but we forgive and love. No matter what happens, our family is going to make it. We are going to struggle, fight, cry, make mistakes, but we are in this life together. And we are going to make it. We are going to be re-united with ALL our family members. We are going to be together forever, now and in the eternities. And Mom, with the help of Dad, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, it’s because of you.

I love you, Mom! Happy Birthday!!!


Rach (your little punkin)

(Sorry it's a few days late, Mom - life's been crazy!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Darn my emotions!...

I have so many thoughts and feelings whirling around inside me right now, I don't even know how to make sense of it all. So, I'm going to write it all out instead of working on my homework. Yay for procrastination! At least with this I can feel productive in my procrastination rather than staring blankly at the TV watching other people buy houses that I want.

(Dear House Hunters on HGTV: you're making it very hard for me to keep the 10th Commandment. I am coveting my neighbor's house and their ability to afford a house and that they get to go look at houses and that some of them get to move to other countries all while I'm poor in an apartment. Shame on you for causing me to sin...)

So my co-therapist and I got a new client tonight. For confidentiality reasons, I can't say much about this client. Though, I will say that she is a girl and that she is my first client who is younger than me. I think that gets the necessary details across.

I have this problem of having WAY too much empathy for my own good. It's one of those annoying things that is both a strength and a weakness. Do you have any of those? Where you're in an interview and they ask what your biggest strength is and you answer. And then they ask you what your biggest weakness is and you say the same thing and it sounds horribly cliche and fake. But yet, it's true. It drives me crazy. But really, empathy is a big strength and a big weakness for me.

It's a strength because, hello!, I'm going to be a therapist. You need empathy to be able to align with clients and give them the caring support they need to improve their lives. I am really good at putting myself in other people's shoes and thinking about how hard being in their situation would be. I really do feel what they feel, at least to some extent. I think this is part of the reason I love reading so much - I feel the story, not just think about it. Usually, I am able to express my feelings of empathy to others and it comforts them, or at least I hope it does. There have been quite a few times when friends have told me about some of the hard things they've been through and I'm sitting there boo-hoo-ing and they don't even shed a tear. I assume this is part of what makes me a good listener and makes me one of those people that everyone goes to when they are struggling and just need someone to listen. I love being that person and I think I'm pretty good at it. See? Strength.

But then, my empathy is also a weakness. Because sometimes I have too much empathy. I put myself too far into other people's shoes and have a hard time living my own life because I am thinking too much about the other person. I become overwhelmed, at least for a little while, by pain and hurt and the desire to take all of that away from the person who shared with me.

That happened to some extent tonight. Here was this girl who was struggling with some pretty hard stuff. And though I haven't dealt with the same things she talked about, I could relate so easily to her. In some ways, she was very similar to me when I was her age and I could see myself in her. My heart broke for her. I sat there listening, trying so hard to think of every possible thing I could do to help her, and but really just wanting to sit there and cry with her. I felt so connected to her. When I let her know how strong I could tell she is, I was choking up and tearing up. And because I had so much I wanted to say I wasn't breathing enough. And, as I found out later, my chest and face turned bright red. (Which by the way, I just noticed this happens last semester. Have I always turned red in emotional or embarrassing situations? Cause I never knew). I probably looked and sounded crazy to her. But I was having such a strong emotional reaction that I couldn't help it! I held my composure (somewhat) and focused on her like I was supposed to, but inside I was a mess.

Then I drove home. Oh great day. I was even more of a mess! I always worried that my empathy would make it hard to be a therapist because it would be hard to leave work at work. And yes, it is. I thought about this girl and battled tears the whole way home. Because I want so badly to help her. To let her know that things will get better and to make things better RIGHT NOW. That she is amazing. That she has incredibly worth if only she could see it. I wanted to give her a big hug and take everything away so she could be happy. Neither of which I can do. (Stupid ethics!)

But, though I may not be able to do those things for her, there are many things I can do. I can research more on treatments that can help her. I can be at every session ready to focus solely on her. I can tell her over and over how strong she is and how much I admire her courage. I can give her hope that things will get better. I can challenge her negative thoughts so her mind can be filled with positivity. I can help her realize what resources she has available. I can make myself a better therapist. I can smile at her and reassure her and call her by name. I can help her understand and process her pains. And most of all, though she will never see it, I can pray for her.

This was the first time in doing therapy that my empathy has run away with me to aid someone else. And it is hard. It is scary. It is going to take some getting used to and I need to learn how to deal with it productively.

But would I change it? Would I want less empathy?

No, never.

Not when it can help me to help my new client. Not when it can help me to help others. Because really, out of everything I want in life, the thing I want the most, is to help as many people as I possibly can.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday, Monday

Well, Conference weekend is officially over. Tonight I'm going to download all the talks to my iPod so I can listen to them on my 40-minute-each-way commute. I'm pretty excited about that.

I had planned on posting something last night, but then my sister and I had some friends over for dinner. They just got back from visiting Australia for two weeks. We missed them a lot and are glad they are home safely! I made authentic Navajo Fry Bread, which I learned how to make from a dear friend in Florida, Sis LaFontaine. She's a full-blooded Navajo and has been making fry bread since she was 4 years old or something. I don't make it nearly as well, in fact, I used the KitchenAid to mix the dough, which is probably a sin. But each time I make it, I get a little better. The first time I attempted fry bread, each one was only barely bigger than the palm of my hand and shaped all weird. This time, some were still a little smaller than I would have liked, but some were big and fat, almost like she makes them. One ended up looking like a butterfly...not really sure how that happened, but whatever. It was delicious! Thanks, Sis LaFontaine, for teaching me to make Fry Bread and for being such a great friend and example of selfless, Christlike service!

After dinner, I still planned on writing, but then my sister turned on Holmes Inspection. Oh. Great. Day. That show makes me so terrified to ever buy a house. I think I'll get like 5 inspections done before I ever buy a house. Then someday if I am ever able to build a house, I will tell them, "Use that blue wood that doesnt mold and that purple foam spray stuff and that membrane junk around the foundation to keep out water." I like to use technical terms like that. I'm pretty smart. :) But seriously, that show makes me never want to live in a house, or an apartment... but then I remember living outside wouldn't be any better. Ew. I think I get freaked out by gross things way too easily.

Then I realized I had a ton of homework to do including reading about 100 pages of a book on how to get past affairs. I think I have decided that while I definitely want to work with couples, and inevitably there will be some who have had affairs, I definitely do not want to specialize in affairs. I'm glad there are people who do that, but I don't think it's my cup of tea. Which is good, since I don't drink tea.

So now, on Monday morning before heading to campus, I am finally getting to the blog. I even wrote it in planner of things to do today. I have a busy week ahead of me, and with the experiment, I need to make sure I make time for blogging.

Which brings me to the point of all of this. I hate Mondays. Especially Mondays like today when I have an insane amount of homework to do this week and I woke up 45 minutes before my alarm. That was annoying. I toss and turn all night long and I woke myself up because I was all tangled in my sheets and untangling myself took enough energy and brain power that I couldn't fall back asleep. Does that ever happen to anyone else? I'm still mad about it! This week I have to present a journal article on solution focused therapy, write a 10-15 page paper on emotionally focused couples therapy, research and prepare a presentation on Asperger's Syndrome, and read for classes. EW! I'm a little worried.

It's times like these when I wish I wasn't still in school. Right now, I would so much rather:

Play French Horn in a symphony. I used to dream of playing with the Orchestra at Temple Square. Or being in the pit for Broadway musicals. Or be in orchestras used for movie soundtracks. Right now, I'd even settle for having a French Horn at all. I have a mouth piece. And a practice mute. And lots of music. But no horn. Anyone wanna buy me one? The ones I want are only like $4,000... I miss French Horn so much sometimes that it hurts. I think after I graduate and have a job, it'll be the first big purchase I make. And let me tell ya, I can't wait.

Be a book critic. I love reading. More than I can even express. I think the thing I hate most about being in school is that during the semester, I barely have time to read. I love all kinds of books. I love it when I'm reading and the rest of the world falls away. I become so engrossed in the story that I become the characters in my mind. I feel what they feel and want what they want. A whole new world opens up with each book I read and I get to experience so many things I could never experience on my own. I could go on and on about how much I love reading. Eventually I'll get that booklist tab finished and share more with you all about my love of books. But wouldn't it be great to get paid to read?

Be independently wealthy and travel the world. I think today would be a great day to visit the pyramids in Egypt. Or walk along the Great Wall of China. Or swim in the Great Barrier Reef. Or visit the Louvre. Or take a cruise to Alaska and walk on a glacier. Or bungee jump in New Zealand. Or ice fish in Denmark. Or see the world's tallest building in Dubai. Or canoe down the Amazon. The list could go on and on.... I think I need more money and vacation.

But unfortunately, I can't do any of those things today. Instead, I'll drive to campus in the rain, file some stuff and enter data for work, do some research, go to class, drive home, and do more research. And I'll do it with a smile on my face. Cause I know I am doing what I'm supposed to at this point in my life. I love learning how to be a therapist. And oddly, I do like school. And even though I can't do all those things I want to, I can dream about them. And that's enough.

Happy Monday, all!
Here I am with my head in the clouds! (Actually this was taken last summer while rafting in Island Park, Idaho. Best second home ever!)