Monday, December 21, 2009

A Short Vacation

Okay, lovely readers, we are going to take a short break so we can spend the holidays with our families, open presents, wear ridiculous sweaters, eat insane amounts of delicious food, etc. We hope you do the same.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Holiday Plug For A New Blogject

I got an email from a friend of the blog asking for submissions from our Mormon readers for a new blog she is starting called Hopefully Mormon.

Here's an explanation straight from the source:

"I want to start a new blog. Its purpose is threefold: 1. To get good (interesting and inspirational) pro-Mormon content out on the internet for the benefit of those inside and outside the church; 2. To do it in a way that no one else is doing; and 3. To pull a broad range of people in, people whose needs aren't already being met by the prolific (and fantastic and witty) blogging that's already being done....

Our unifying theme is from Peter: To "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope this is in you."

We'll borrow PostSecret's visual format--4-by-6 inch compositions that mix words, photos, drawings, etc.--but will focus instead on the quirky, lovely, aching, personal, inspiring, unforgettable reasons that all of you (parents, students, professionals, anarchists, artists) began and continue to make the LDS church part of your life."

The site will launch on January 1st but they are asking for submissions now. If you have a minute, put together a post card with a scripture or quote, a picture, or just a thought...any type of visual testimony you would like to contribute. It can be cheesy or serious or silly or sweet, just as long as it is you.


I really love this idea and I'm so happy to be able to spread the word about it. I realize, of course, that not all of you Lovely Readers are Mormon. This isn't meant to be exclusive--please know that the creators of this blog would also love to have your perspective if you would like to share it. If you've had a positive experience with the LDS church or a member of it and you feel inclined to share, then please do! If you don't know anything about our faith and would like to know more about us on a more personal level, I think this will help in accomplishing that.

Submissions can be sent to:

Hopefully Mormon
P.O. Box 970312
Orem, UT 84097

or email hopefullymormon at gmail dot com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

God bless us, every one.

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” — Charles Dickens

That middle one might be one of the hardest things a person can try to do, but if you can manage the other two, the third will come along eventually. Remember that everyone has problems, and you don't know what they are. If you assume that everyone is trying their hardest and doing their best, you'll find it a lot easier to accept them when they fail.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be Brave

Continuing some themes we seem to have going this week, I want to talk about being brave.

I don't think of myself as a particularly courageous person. I don't even like calling strangers on the phone. I'm terrified of spiders, I have dreams about going blind at least once a month, and I still run up the stairs really fast when it's dark in the basement. I get lightheaded in job interviews, I have panic attacks driving in the snow, and I covered my eyes during most of The Grudge.

So during the last year and a half there was a long series of events that led to me moving to Indiana. Most of those events involved my plans for my life falling through or not being what I thought they would be, and nothing worked until I decided I had to go away to grad school (rather than completing a program online while working at the BYU library, as was my original plan).

I wasn't completely sure I wanted to move across the country. I was terrified, and it was even worse when I got there and had to put my dad on a plane the next morning. I wanted nothing more than to get in my car and drive back home. My dad even told me that if I didn't like it by the time the tuition reimbursement deadline came up, I could drop my classes and come home. (Yeah. It was that bad.)

Thankfully, I stuck it out past the first few days. As it turns out, moving to Indiana was exactly what I needed. I'd been in the same place for a long time, and although it was fun and safe and familiar, I was really stuck. I wasn't really all that happy with where my life was, no matter how much I loved my roommates and loved being able to go home for birthday parties on the weekends; now I'm really happy.

And I guess that's the point of all of this. Sometimes you get stuck, and then you either have to be happy being stuck or you have to do something you're afraid to do - get a new job, move to a new place, start a new relationship, climb a mountain, run away to London, (I moved to Indiana only after I'd done that one twice), change your major, buy a puppy - scary stuff like that. And don't decide not to do it just because you never have or because it will be scary. I'm beginning to realize that some of my best decisions have been the ones I was most afraid to make.

I'm posting this video because this song is one of those that I like to listen to when I'm afraid to do something. The title is roughly, "No, I regret nothing." Even if you don't understand it (two years of college French and I still don't catch all of it), I think the feeling comes through just fine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I've been trying to write this post for over a month, but it never comes out right. I struggle with the tone and the phrasing because I don't want anyone to think I am whining (I promise I am not). I don't want anyone to think that I am not happy with my current situation or that I resent anything about it. But, in the end, I usually conclude that those worries are really just part of this post . . . an extension of all my other worries.

Let me explain. I have been watching my nephews (ages 21 months and four years) since February. My sister works part-time and I know that my watching the boys helped her feel better about that decision. I have also had several other jobs watching children of various ages. It's strange to just jump into a situation where you have to take charge of children who have no idea who you are. It takes me a lot longer to adjust and it takes a lot more patience on my end (not something I feel like I have a lot of in the first place). But with my nephews, it is different. I have lived with them (or very close by) since the oldest was one year old. My sister and I are so much alike that they don't really treat us very differently. She's obviously the mama and the one they prefer (as it should be), but it's nice that I can provide a similar feeling of security and comfort when my sister is away. I love the relationship I have with the boys and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Having said that, this year has been hard. I'm good with children and I know what I'm doing. People would see me rocking the baby to sleep in the halls of church and say things like, "You'll be such a good mom! You already know how to do it!" and "It will happen for you." I would smile and nod and pretend like I appreciated hearing those things. I didn't. I wanted to scream.

There was a point where I was watching my nephews and a little girl who was six months old. She would scream whenever it was time for a nap. She would scream whenever I wasn't holding her. She was cute, but she was a screamer. I would hold her and Bug (my youngest nephew) would get jealous and I would have to hold him too. Some days we would sit on the couch and all three of the kids would fight over space on my lap. Some days they would all nap at once and I loved all three of them. Some days I would just cry right along with the screaming. I never knew what to expect (except the screaming). To top it all off, I decided to start potty training. I just got so tired of the diapers. I don't know what I was thinking, really, but eventually it worked and I had fewer things to worry about.

Thinking back on that now, the thing I remember most is just feeling crazy and hoping and praying that things would be different with my own children. I have very realistic views on motherhood. If this year has taught me anything, it has definitely wiped away any remaining naivete in that regard. I know it will be tough and I know I will continue to doubt myself and my abilities. But I also know now that it will be different with my own children simply because they will be mine. I know there will be more of those "oh you're so cute and cuddly why did I ever have any worries ever" kind of moments...those are the moments I'm so grateful to share with my nephews.

I guess my point is that I worry too much. I will always worry too much. That is not something that will change when I become a mother. In fact, I will worry more...but that is okay. I know it will be different because I will be doing what I chose to do. I will be living my life on purpose instead of living to get by. I will have these memories of my nephews and they will share them with me and we will have a bond that will never break. I'll tell my children stories about their cousins and how Bug used to love to dance and sing and squeeze me tight around the neck and Monkey used to wake me up with a kiss on the nose and a proclamation that "the sun is up!" I will secretly pray that my children will share qualities with their cousins and that one day I'll look at my own little boy and be reminded of Bug's sweet smile or Monkey's silly faces and not one bit of the stress, worry or craziness will come to mind.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Go For The Gold

#215--Pursue more than just the things you are good at.

You will be told at a young age what your talents are. Enjoy the compliments, but don’t accept them at face value. You don’t want to walk a narrow path; attempt things you aren’t comfortable with and uncover skills or proclivities you didn’t know you possessed.
(from Prudent Baby)

I think a lot of people see themselves as static, as something like a character in a movie: you have certain likes and dislikes, you are good at certain things, you aren't good at others. You have certain personality traits; you like certain kinds of music and watch certain TV shows; you don't like certain foods; all those kinds of things. That is how I often perceive myself, and I blame this partially on those little "about me" blurbs we're always having to write--writing about who you are in a short paragraph is very difficult, and so we write about what we like instead, and then start to think of those two things as the same. They aren't.

My aunt Angela was an opera singer until she was around 40 (I don't remember her exact age). I remember going to her concerts when I was younger, thinking she was amazing. But she never progressed to where she wanted to be. Short story short: one day she went to a craft store, bought a block of clay, and in six hours discovered that she has an amazing talent for sculpting. She's been doing it for several years now, and has truly found her calling. Her sculptures are incredible, and you would never know that this is something she never even tried until her 40s. (Thanksgiving Point, in Utah, is going to have a lot of her sculptures on display in a sculpture garden.)

So the moral of the story is, don't put yourself in a box. The fact that you haven't discovered a talent yet doesn't mean you don't have it; you were not fully formed when you graduated from high school. Don't be afraid to try new things, even if you have no reason to think you'll succeed at them. Life is for experiencing things. Don't limit yourself to staying the same person you've always been; give yourself room to grow, to develop new talents and hobbies, to change old habits and become who you want to be.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be Jolly

I tend to only think of the word jolly in terms of Saint Nicholas or the Green Giant and, in turn, vegetables and a tummy that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Not being a fan of a tummy that reminds someone of jelly, being jolly isn't really something I think about.

Since I am a nerd, I looked up the definition of jolly at and Merriam-Webster. Happily enough, the British really make great use of the word jolly. Thank you the British! Jolly good job! But for our purposes today we are going with Merriam-Webster:
  • full of high spirits: joyous
  • given to conviviality*: jovial
  • expressing, suggesting, or inspiring gaiety: cheerful
  • extremely pleasant or agreeable: splendid
Aren't those lovely definitions? I think so.

Now here comes the meat and potatoes portion of our post (I guess all that up there would be the salad?). Be jolly all year long, folks. Carry your high spirits into January, on through Easter and right past Halloween. Be cheerful and splendid and joyous and, most importantly, be sincere. Being all of those other things without really, truly wanting to be just isn't worth it for anyone. Save some ding-dong ditching for May. Send some letters to friends (Yes. Write. With a pencil. Use the postal service. It's fun...sometimes.), or plan a Christmas in July party. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to be jolly. Make it a permanent part of your personality because, honestly, it can't hurt to be considered "extremely pleasant or agreeable."

And now for the dessert portion...because I'm a giver.

From a Google image search. Here.

*That would be "relating to, occupied with, or fond of feasting, drinking and good company." I'm pretty sure that is my favorite definition ever.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Spotlight: Stephanie Nielson

We are starting a new feature spotlighting women who are examples of loveliness. After following the story of Stephanie Nielson since before the plane crash that changed her life, I cannot think of a better woman to start with.

Stephanie Nielson is the author of the blog Nie Nie Dialogues, where she shares the stories of raising her four young children and, now, her recovery and return to motherhood. I have mentioned her before on this blog and I will probably mention her again--she is an inspiration and a miracle.

The Arizona Republic has covered her family's story, starting with the plane crash that left Stephanie and her husband Christian severely burned and proved fatal to their pilot, Doug Kinneard. You can read the newest, multi-part installation of the Nielsons' story over at and I definitely recommend that you do so... with tissues.

This story touches me in a way I can't explain. I can't imagine having the strength and the will to go through so much and it is incredible to me how Stephanie has made it through. As much as this new article shares, I know there are all sorts of secret, personal stories of triumph and despair, stories of the miracles that must have occured to get Stephanie to where she is today. To think of the doctors that worked so hard to heal Stephanie's body and the worry and responsibility they surely carried on their own shoulders. To hear of the unconditional love and support of Stephanie's family throughout the entire process. It's the way a family should be. And to read Stephanie's blog now as she expresses her gratitude, love, frustration, pain, joy, etc. It's all so real and sincere and it makes me want to send her presents to brighten her day (although I know people already do that for her).

She is inspiring, and a true example of becoming lovely.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beware the Me Monster

If any of you love Brian Regan as much as I do, you will probably be familiar with this bit. It's one of my favorites:

I have actually been meaning to write this post for few days, and when I visited Prudent Baby on Tuesday I was reminded that I hadn't done it yet. That entry is exactly what I have been wanting to write about:

#214 Try not to wait eagerly for people to finish their stories just so you can tell your own versions that more directly involve you.

I am of the opinion that when you are telling a story--whether it's one you're upset about or one you're excited to share--one of the most annoying things someone else can do is wait until you're done, then try to top your story with their own. Phrases like "that's nothing" or "consider yourself lucky" often come up when people jump in to share their own four-wisdom-tooth tales.

Remember that communication post we had up a couple weeks ago? Remember the part about overtalking? Well this has a lot to do with that. If all I'm thinking about the whole time a person's talking is how much better my story is, or how I can't wait to share it, then I'm not giving that person the attention they deserve. In addition, if the first thing I say after they stop talking is "that's nothing," imagine how that person feels. I have had this done to me many times, and I'm sure you have too, so it isn't that hard to imagine how the person feels. What we need to do is make sure that we never do this to other people.

You don't have to say one of those phrases for it to count, either. If you don't start with "consider yourself lucky," but then go on to tell a story in which you make the other person's story sound less important, then it's just as bad. No one should do this to people, because it doesn't feel good. We need to have respect for people that we're talking to. This doesn't mean you can't share your own related story; just don't do it as though you're competing. Say something that shows you empathize; acknowledge their frustration or excitement or pain; let them know you feel for them. Something like "Oh yuck, I'm sorry. I know how you feel, I had something similar happen to me, and it sucked" (or, "Yay, that's awesome! I'm so excited for you!"). Then tell your story. They won't mind if you do it that way. Good communication means having respect for other people, responding to them the way we would want them to respond to us... and not being a Me Monster!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to be Prettier

I sometimes read a blog called Smart Pretty and Awkward. As the name implies, it is a guide to being smart, pretty, and (less) awkward; each day there is a post with a tip for each of the three categories. I don't always agree with the "prettier" tips, because the writer of the blog and I have some different ideas about what is necessary in that department, but in general I find the blog interesting and sensible, and I love reading it. I was looking through the archives today and found a tip from earlier this year that I would like to share.

How to be Prettier: Don’t wear a size 8 if you are a size 10.

It can be really hard to admit that you've gained weight. I have gained about twenty pounds in the last couple years, and for a long time I couldn't find any jeans that fit because I kept looking in the sizes I was used to wearing. Shopping for jeans was a horrible experience, and I almost never felt comfortable in my clothes. I couldn't believe how much easier my life became once I finally accepted the fact that I now wear a bigger size, even much bigger than I ever thought I'd wear. Acknowledge your size and accept it. Don't pretend to be smaller than you are, because you will look like you're doing just that; you will look much more beautiful wearing clothes that actually fit you. That realization might suck at first, but accepting yourself the way you are now is the first step toward being able to change, and the earlier you can do it the better off you'll be.