Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Secret Garden

A few weeks ago, when I left the hospital after surgery, my mother gave me a potted flower—a little token of her love to cheer me up. It was vibrant and alive. I left it in my apartment in Provo when I went home to California for a week and a half. I forgot to ask anyone to water my little flower while I was gone. When I came back the flower had wilted and looked beyond saving. I tried to save it anyway. For the first few days, it looked hopeless. All my constant and diligent efforts seemed to be having no affect on the little flower. The flower still drooped and sagged. I decided I would try for a few more days to heal my flower. Soon after, I recognized that my little flower, ever so slightly, began to change. It had begun to perk up and brighten! With renewed resolve I kept up my tender loving care until one day the flower at last looked as good as new! My efforts to save the flower had paid off. I was inspired by the resilience of that little flower.

I recognized that one of my friends is like this flower. When I met him, he seemed despondent and sad. He was stand-offish and easily offended. People had a hard time being around him. I don't know why I ventured to become friends with him, but for some reason, I did. Some friendships are almost natural and are easily maintained. Others take much more effort. For a while, it seemed like I was making all the effort and even then he seemed reclusive and discontent. Finally, after a few months, I began to see a change in him. When I would come over to visit, he seemed happy. I didn't feel so much like such an intruder. A few more months passed and then he began to text me and invite me to church events. I was happy that he valued my support. He is now one of my closest friends. He seems happier now and more hopeful. I am glad he allows me to see his happiness now.

The flower analogy applies to me as well.  Back home, I have a next-door neighbor. Her name is Crystal . We met on the first day of third grade. I had just moved to California from Montana and I was slowly walking down the center aisle of the school bus, passing row after row of chairs looking for a free spot to sit when this blonde, bubbly girl asked me to sit next to her. Of course, I said yes! By now, we are like sisters. I tag along on all her family vacations and family reunions, go to family home evenings at her house. I even went to seminary with her during ninth grade. Her family always invited me to church functions and church dances. I had known about the church, thanks to Crystal and her family, for eleven years before I had the courage to join. I was a roller coaster when it came to the LDS church. Sometimes I would feel excited about it and would feel joy when learning about it and then immediately I would squash those thoughts and try to forget about them, turning my joy into bitterness. I investigated twice. Once my Senior year of high school and again my Freshmen year at UCSB. The first time, I let everyone down and backed out. I didn't talk to them for almost nine months. I didn't want to. I had forgotten they were my friends and family and thought they only sought to convert me. How wrong I was. They just loved me. They always had. I came around and was baptized a little over a year ago. How thankful I am they stuck with me through it all. I am so incredibly happy now thanks to their diligence and pure love.

Just as neglect and indifference can make flowers wilt, so can neglect and indifference make people lose hope. If ever a friend or loved one of yours seems to be wilted by the pressures and abuses of the world, tend to them lovingly as you would a flower. If you find yourself struggling under the burden of worry and doubt, a little faith in Christ’s love can be as nourishing as rays of the sun and can help you revive and prosper. Gardens require diligence and patience to grow. Where there was once just emptiness, through love, flowers can thrive. People are like gardens. They have much beauty in them. It is our responsibility to seek it out and to see it fulfill its possibilities. Friendships are like gardens. Testimonies are like gardens. Plant a seed and help it bear fruit. Love is like "Miraclegrow." It makes any ordinary thing become extraordinary. Never underestimate the power of love in restoring others and yourself. Never underestimate the resilience of yourself and others. Venture to care. Be a gardener and see to it things grow.

I am a college student. During college, money can get tight. I think a lot of us have ventured to our food cupboard and looked into it, sighed, and shut it discontent with what’s in there, only to come back an hour later, hopeful that by now something delicious has appeared-- hoping that some of our moms’ fresh homemade bread or cookies or strawberry-rhubarb pie is magically waiting for us. Inexplicably, we always open the cupboard hoping to find something wonderful that was not there before. Even though we might be always disappointed, we always go back and look just one more time. With people though, you never know.  Every time it is entirely possible that when you open the cupboard door and peer inside, you will indeed see something different, new, and exciting. It may take a few trips to the cupboard to find anything but eventually something as beautiful as your mom's homemade bread will be there waiting for you to discover it.

(Thank you so much dad for editing this one for me. You are the greatest dad in the whole world! :) )

Friday, June 15, 2012

IV Drip Drip Drip

I went to UCSB to visit some of my friends and it was so wonderful to see them all doing so well! I have missed them even more than I thought I did(which is saying something)! All of them have helped me grow and become better in many, many ways. I hope they enjoy my friendship as much as I enjoy theirs. I have no idea how we all became friends, all I know is that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. The following descriptions of them are poor expressions of their true nature.  Human complexity and imperfection is what gives life texture. As humans, we may all be imperfect but my friends come pretty close to perfection nonetheless. They are so complex and full of life it is hard to explain them accurately because no combination of words will do. I guess that is why we have to live life, not just read about it.

Bryan's loyalty and dependability is ever present. He is still working out, working and having a blast. He was my workout buddy and he used to pretend to be my boyfriend when IV creepers would get too close. He even introduced me to the magical body pillow. He forgave me when I tucked him into bed and forgot to turn off the light when I left, he leaves the funniest voice messages and he is totally into World Peace. This guy is solid.

Max's laughter and rosy cheeks make me smile. His laughter is infectious and I always felt safe around him. His drive and responsibility have always impressed me. He is going places. He is a homie and a half and he has and awesome sister , Mary Grace, and I have, since I met her, always wished her happiness and strength.

Nelson. This guy. Where do I begin? His mumbling, funny, smart comments always make me laugh even though he usually has to repeat them since I am hard of hearing. He gets it. His hugs are top notch too. His smile seems to emanate from inside of him. It isn't just a smile, it is a statement. I miss how he used to give me his left over candy when his mouth would get sore from eating too much of it. Those were the days!

Armand's kind and cleanly nature is amazing. He has a sweet sense of style too I might add. He always takes care of people when they get too drunk. Fetching waters and making sure they don't fall asleep on a random park bench in IV. What a great guy! He also makes an amazing Aladdin. Did I mention he loves the Lakers? Maybe "love" isn't a strong enough word. Last time I checked he and Kobe = SOUL MATES.

Quincy. He loves his coffee French Pressed and piping hot. I like that he asks questions and receives the answers with an open mind most of the time. He never fails to make me feel welcomed and appreciated. I don't feel awkward when I hang out with Quince. We used to go out with Garrett and just pick up sea shells...okay, okay, we only did that once but the one time we did go it was awesome and I am sure, had I stayed at UCSB, we would have made that a regular thing.

Garrett is awesome. He and Quince have been friends for a long time and their friendship inspires me. He is a little more quiet but when he speaks people listen. It's pretty cool. He is always so nice to me and I appreciate that immensely.

The ever beautiful Caylee is my all time favorite roommate and a wonderful friend. I loved that our dorm room was a safe place where we could just BE. She helped me rekindle my love of pink. She helped me to embrace being female and her sense of fun was always fantastic to have around. Every time I see Hello Kitty I think of her and my thoughts are always pleasant. She is gorgeous inside and out.

Genna and our long-lasting friendship was an amazing thing to have up at SB. We ran together all through high-school and hung out all the time and it was so nice to have a piece of home up with me in SB. She is so laid back, friendly and adventurous it is contagious. 

Scotty's messy runner man ways were always so fun! He knew how to take a joke which was nice because I like to laugh and he has a good laugh. It was nice to have someone to talk about running with too. I hope he still has his red shorts. Those were legit.

Dane Tinley and his encouragement and support. This super soulful surfer introduced himself to me early on freshmen year and I am so glad he did.  Dane is actually one of the main reasons I started taking writing more seriously. I always told him how much I loved it and books and one day we were eating lunch and he told me he was going to buy the book that I,one day, would write. I thought he must be joking.  But, nevertheless, his words implanted themselves in my brain and have popped up daily since. That short conversation we had made a tremendous difference in my life. It was just the push I needed. He was so genuine about it. He even read my terrible script I wrote for a play I had been assigned to write for a class. He is a brave soul. He said he liked it. It was terrible and maybe he thought so too but I think he understood the delicacy of friendship. He didn't lie, he was just merciful in his critiques.  They were constructive but never painful. I think he liked that I tried. So I haven't written a book yet. Maybe I never will.  At least I am doing something I love and that is, largely, thanks to Dane.

Jacob Vowels was awesome. I dyed this kid's Mohawk platinum blonde once and it was so fun. He can pull that kinda thing off. He does track but he still seems to keep life pretty balanced.

Andrew has killer patience and courage. He had the strength to go his own way even when it was incredibly hard to do so. Props to this guy for doing what he needs to do to be true to himself.

Elder and sister Tate and all my SB ward friends and their cheerfulness that have helped me become happier than I have ever been.

Unfortunately, UCSB dropped my major and after only a year at UCSB I transferred to BYU (a decision I do not regret, except that it meant I had to leave my friends) in order to  pursue writing and Athletic Training. If I could have taken all of them with me I would have. I miss them everyday. I think about them often and talk about them all the time. If I could make like HP and apparate I would. UCSB was one of my greatest adventures and I got to spend it with some of the world's most amazing people. Leaving was incredibly painful but life isn't all honeysuckles and sunshine but getting to see them again was dazzling. I have been trying to figure out how I can turn the trial of having to be away from them into something that makes me stronger and I think I have figured out what I needed to learn from it all. That "goodbye" does not have to be forever. The hope that I get to see them again someday is what keeps a smile on my face and laughter in my eyes. Friends are one of this life's greatest treasures. They are my family. I am determined to always keep in touch with them. I think the reason Peter Pan could remain so happy even when his friends came and went was because he chose to forget about them. Rather than suffer pain at their loss he would, simply, just forget. I refuse to forget. I would rather suffer the pain of a thousand "goodbyes" with a hope of saying a single "hello" again rather than letting "goodbye" be the end. Where my friends go there will my home and heart be also. I am so glad I went home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond!

Poetry. I like to read it and write it (well I attempt to write it.....the art of it can be illusive). I think the love of poetry (writing/reading in general) runs in my family. My dad (Jeff Streeby) not only walks around in his cowboy boots twirling his handlebar mustache, he also writes incredible poetry. He just published his first book. Sunday Creek. It is AWESOME. He is my go to guy for all things poetic. He critiques my writing (in a wonderfully kind and fatherly way) and always encourages me. Next is my brother, Cutter Streeby. This handsome, intelligent, reckless, softy loves to write as well. He has also published many different poems (mostly in Europe) I send all my poems to him for advice as well. It is nice to have both my brother and my dad to critique my writing since they both have different styles and tastes but, essentially, they have helped me improve enormously. From confessional poetry, to observational to just plain abstract they help me out and never cease to believe in me. That is a wonderful thing. My mom the funny, generous, loving, firecracker has always been extremely supportive of my families love for writing. She used to be a journalist!  My sister the fair headed maiden on the sea paints, so, her poetry truly is "poetry in motion." Our mutual love for the art of writing has not only taught me the importance of support when delving into undiscovered lands but also it has taught me the importance of passion.

I was thinking the other day, as I was driving home, that in this world it seems that those who have no opinions may be politically correct and safe but sometimes they may seem a bit fickle but those who seem to only see in black and white seem to limit themselves completely from all the extraordinary possibilities of this crazy, ever changing life. I think it is healthy to be a little bit of both. To have opinions and passions but to also be willing to change your mind if situations arise that contradict a previous notion or opinion you once held. It is impossible to be correct in all things, so change is inevitable. I am not saying be fickle about one's beliefs or supporting a chameleon life style of changing colors just to blend in with others. Just be open. Also I know that there are beliefs I hold that I will never give up. Such as my belief in free-agency. I choose what to believe. I choose who to become. I am responsible for what I have become. In the end it is my choice. Freedom to choose is a beautiful thing. And it is everyone's freedom.
I realized that I needed to stop blaming people or circumstances for who I was or how I was feeling because I am free. And because they are free.
And I respect that. Realizing that I am entirely free to be and feel how I choose has brought me so much happiness. Because it helped me to let go of so much that weighed on me. But I had to and still have to go through life recognizing and trying to change things about me that I do not admire. But I try to do so calmly and lovingly. Even when it hurts. There is happiness in the process. And there is pain in the process.
And it's all going to be okay.

I believe in kindness and love and trying and courage and balance and freedom and hope and many other things.

I don't know everything and have never met anyone who does. So limiting myself by refusing to change when I know I am wrong because of pride is what I hope never to do again.  I am human though so I know I will make mistakes  But I will keep on trying.

Since this blog began with poetry and morphed into something else I guess I will share some poetry with passion.

This is one of my favorite poems of all time. I love everything about it. It puts into words almost everything I wish to be and do. This poem voices some of my deepest desires.

     The House by the Side of the Road

      THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn
      In the place of their self-content;
      There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
      In a fellowless firmament;
      There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
      Where highways never ran-
      But let me live by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.
      Let me live in a house by the side of the road
      Where the race of men go by-
      The men who are good and the men who are bad,
      As good and as bad as I.
      I would not sit in the scorner's seat
      Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
      Let me live in a house by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.
      I see from my house by the side of the road
      By the side of the highway of life,
      The men who press with the ardor of hope,
      The men who are faint with the strife,
      But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
      Both parts of an infinite plan-
      Let me live in a house by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.
      I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
      And mountains of wearisome height;
      That the road passes on through the long afternoon
      And stretches away to the night.
      And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
      And weep with the strangers that moan,
      Nor live in my house by the side of the road
      Like a man who dwells alone.
      Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
      Where the race of men go by-
      They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
      Wise, foolish - so am I.
      Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
      Or hurl the cynic's ban?
      Let me live in my house by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.
      Sam Walter Foss

and another------


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 
Rudyard Kipling
FIN....for now :)

Monday, June 4, 2012


This too is one of my favorite books. Written by Mary Shelley at the age of nineteen this book is a masterpiece. There is a reason it is a classic. It is amazing that a nineteen year old could have written such a work, but it would be no less amazing if she had been forty-five. Inspired by a dream and a challenge Frankenstein was born. This book is teeming with life lessons and insights. This book has taught me so much about life and people. I learn a lot from books. I tend to be an observational learner and books give me a chance to look into different aspects of life even if the characters are fictional. The characters may not be real but the things they go through can be, more often than not, paralleled to real life. I see many parallels to the teachings of the scriptures in this book. The way they handle situations and the consequences they suffer from their decisions can help one determine how one might act in a similar situation. So it is with Frankenstein. Though the monster he made by magical means may not exist, the ways in which he handled the entire situation are very real. This book has taught me the importance of love in the home, and love in general. It has taught me the importance of befriending those who may seem different but who are no less human than myself. It has taught me that vengeance leads only to destruction. How to find joy in any situation and how and why to forgive. I learned to have more compassion. I learned that there is no more noble a calling than to be a servant unto my fellow man.  I learned that, perhaps, sinking into utter despair can be a means by which we learn to experience incandescent joy at the simplest of things. That people are imperfect but their constant effort to do right is admirable. I love people " and I long to discover the motives and feelings of these lovely creatures [...] that it might be in my power to restore happiness to these deserving people [...] and I am rewarded for any such exertions by seeing none but happy, kind faces around me." Here are some of my thoughts and favorite quotes from the book. They may be muddled and excessive but I they are important to me and for that reason I wanted to share them. 

*Spoiler Alert

Frankenstein. He grew up in a loving home with wonderful parents whose " benevolent disposition often made them enter the cottages of the poor. This, to [his] mother, was more than a duty; it was a necessity of passion- remembering what she had suffered, and how she had been relieved- for her to act in turn a guardian angel to the afflicted." He "received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control." He had a lovely friend (eventually wife) Elizabeth who "unfolded to him the real loveliness of beneficence and made the doing of good the end and aim of his soaring ambition." He was not perfect but none of us are. I like the way Mary Shelley writes about people. She paints them with such bright colors. Though descriptions of their physical appearances are scanty (I prefer this) one can almost see the shining beings walking through their gardens. Also she writes from a perspective of one who has suffered tremendously. She writes from one who sees all as infinitely better than themselves. It is beautiful and poignant. Frankenstein appreciates the beauty around him more deeply because he has lost everything. I don't agree that we have to lose something to appreciate it fully but nevertheless trial and strife if utilized can open our eyes and vivify the colors of our lives. It is like when I have been in my apartment all day with the blinds closed and suddenly my roommate opens the blinds. At first I shy away from the light but then I notice how much easier it is too see. How everything is illuminated. I am thankful for trials for this reason. They have helped me in innumerable ways. 

Frankenstein creates his monster. Then he runs from it. When it looked to him for guidance in a world it was unfamiliar too and that it had no choice to be in Frankenstein forsook his creation. He fled. His Creation, confused, alone, helpless and lost, began to roam the countryside. Eventually this creature (I do not think he had, yet, become a monster) came upon a cottage. An old blind man and his two children lived there. He observed them for many months wondering at their relationship and their love and their family. He wanted to be a part of it. It was one of his greatest desires. He was kindly, with the purest of intentions. He learned much about service from the children "for several times they placed food before the old man when they reserved none for themselves." The hope that they might accept him fostered kindness in him and his "present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope and anticipation of joy" sustained him through his many months in hiding. One day he decided to inquire of the old man if he could stay with them. He went down at sat at the old mans feet. The old man smiles at this creature, he could not see him so his judgement was stayed until the creature spoke. He was so full of love that the old man spoke to him fondly when the creature asked him how he might become part of a family, or how to make a friend. He told him "(man)Do not despair. To be friendless is indeed to be unfortunate, but the hearts of men when unprejudiced by any obvious self-interest, are full of brotherly love and charity. Rely, therefore, on your hopes; and if these friends are good and amiable, do not despair." 
"(creature)They are kind- they are the most excellent creatures in the world; but, unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me. I have good dispositions; my life has been hitherto harmless and in some degree beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster"
"(man)That is indeed unfortunate; but if you are truly blameless cannot you undeceive them?"
" (creature)I am about to undertake that task; it is on that account that I feel so many overwhelming terrors. I tenderly love these friends; I have, unknown to them, been for many months in the habit of daily kindness to towards them; but they believe that I wish to injure them, and it is that prejudice which I wish to overcome." 
The children were good. They performed many acts of service towards each other and loved each other deeply, but they were not perfect. Unfortunately the children's eyes were overcome by the creature's appearance and they tried to kill him. After that the creature became something of a monster. Hate had changed him into a vengeful and murderous being. Filled with jealousy and loneliness he began killing Frankenstein's family. "How much more a murderer who could destroy such radiant innocence!" Frankenstein became wroth and vengeful as well. Frankenstein and his creation both began life " with kindness and a love of virtue. [they] had begun life with benevolent intentions and thirsted for the moment when [they] should put them into practice and make [themselves] useful to [their] fellow beings." They had now become unrecognizable and distorted by their hate. Frankenstein's father tried to save him from this destruction by asking him to think "not brooding thoughts of vengeance against the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness, that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our minds, enter the house of mourning. My friend, with kindness and affection for those who love you, and not with hatred towards your enemies." Yet Frankenstein could not be persuaded to let his creation live in peace. He and his creation met in the mountains and his creature asked for a wife that looked like him. His creation wanted a companion. Frankenstein refused and so the hunt began. After many, many years of hunting Frankenstein was nearly dead when a sailor found him. Suffering had changed Frankenstein. " His countenance became expressive of a calm, settled grief that touched to the heart. Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky; the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems to still have the ability to elevate his soul from earth. Such a man lives a double existence: He may suffer misery and be overwhelmed by disappointments, yet when he has to retire into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within which no grief of folly ventures." How can I see so noble a creature destroyed by misery without feeling the most poignant grief? He is so gentle, yet so wise; he is not so utterly occupied by his own misery but that he interests himself deeply in the projects of others." Loneliness can stifle a soul. Companionship can help ease much pain. To have no friends, is a tragic thing. Frankenstein had been surrounded by his friends and family yet he forsook the thing which he created because of it's hideous face. He forgot to take into account the love that creature could posses if nurtured. His creation became a monster. He was not a monster to begin with. Many times I wonder if his creation thought "I have no friend, when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate in my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of [someone] who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine." 

Frankenstein forgot to show his love. He forgot to nurture that which he created. He felt guilty and ashamed of his creature expressing only hate towards it. Imagine if Frankenstein's creation was but a child. Imagine if Frankenstein had acted in the same way towards his child. If he showed them no love. If he spoke only hateful words to them. Would the child have turned out differently than poor Frankenstein's monster? If no one showed any love towards this child how would he survive?  If all his attempts at love and charity were met by disdain and disgust would he not too shun the idea of love and turn towards that which he has only ever known? Hate, despair and selfishness. Frankenstein's feelings towards his monster can be paralleled to many relationships today. Hate fills the home. Relationships splinter and families decay. It may not be to this extreme but if Frankenstein had showed but a little more love towards that which he had brought into the world things might have been different. His wife, nephew and friend might have lived happily. Instead hatred passed from father to "son" and the destruction of it reached farther than both of them. Frankenstein's monster could have chosen to metabolize the evil by which he suffered so much. He could have continued on refusing to accept the hate that other's showed towards him. He could have decided to be different than them. Yet, he chose to turn his grief into hate. Neither party is entirely innocent. 

I hope if I meet a creature or a person like Frankenstein's monster, who may appear less attractive than most but with an innocent and pure countenance I can stay my judgments like the blind old man and appreciate that being. I hope I show love to all those I come in contact with regardless of their appearance. I have learned so much from this book about unbiased love. I am not perfect but I refuse to allow superficial judgements to chain me down. I will make mistakes. Maybe I may not try to kill an unfamiliar face but what if I flee from them? I refuse too. I refuse to leave them alone. I have been shown so much love in my life I wish to do the same for others. I hope I can have the courage and determination to follow through with my decision. If I mess up I will try again and again and again to be better.

This book has taught me far more than I can express. I love this book. Books, to me, are a guide. Although nothing can take the place of experience books can help one decided in advance the reactions one might have to different things and they open up new worlds of insight. They help one see from different perspectives. Good books truly are like best friends. They make you better, they help you understand, they add something to your life. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Positive Self-Esteem.

I taught my first lesson in Relief Society today. It was really fun....and terrifying. I learned so much from my RS sisters as we discussed the topic of my lesson. It was on the integral role of positive self-esteem in reaching and realizing our divine potential. 

Harold B. Lee defined Self-esteem as "righteous self-respect that might be defined as 'belief in one's own worth, worth to God and worth to man." I am LDS and I believe that we are all spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father with a divine potential and purpose in this life. I believe that Jesus Christ not only believed we were worth dying for but that we were worth living for as well. His life was a life of happiness, sorrow, friendship,self-less service and undying faith in Heavenly Father.  I believe, also, that we will go on after this life into the eternities and I believe we don't have to go into the eternities alone. I believe that families can be together forever. 

I was wondering how I could improve my self-esteem (it is something I have struggled with for a long time) so, I studied it out and prayed about it and gave my lesson on it today and received a lot of wonderful input from my lovely Relief Society sisters. Teaching is not only to help those being taught but to also help the teacher as well. I was so excited for today because I knew that I was going to learn so much from my Sisters. Here is what we discussed mixed in with a few of my own thoughts.

We know that developing a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father can improve our self-esteem by leaps and bounds. We can do this by praying, committing to daily scripture study, applying the Atonement more often in our lives, visiting teaching, and being a friend and servant to others. Visiting Teaching and Relief society are also wonderful ways to serve one another and develop everlasting friendships. We can go to the Temple to receive strength, direction, comfort, and give service. Why do we do this? To find truth. To find true and everlasting happiness. To find hope.

We also decided that speaking positively and thinking positively about ourselves and others can make a huge difference in the way we see ourselves. If we can find something to be grateful for always then we can be happy even in the most trying of times. I believe happiness is a choice. It is easier to be happy in some places of the world than in others but nevertheless happiness is always waiting to be found and remembered. Sometimes we must suffer in the depths of despair to appreciate the exquisite joy the simplest of things can bring. I have found that, often times, some of the happiest people have suffered the most pain. But in the end it is not who has suffered more or in what way, it matters how they decided to view their suffering and whether or not they chose to grow and be made better because of it. If we continue to compare ourselves to others we may miss the unique gifts and talents the Lord has blessed us with. How to we think more positively? We can replace bad thoughts with good ones. Whenever you are thinking something that brings you or others down, stop immediately and think of something that does not involve the physical that brings you joy. Some quality you see in yourself or another that lasts far longer than a haircut or a clear complexion. Replace the scowls in the mirror with smiles. List the things you can do for others. Serve someone. Help someone achieve a goal they have. Encourage those trying to develop talents. Listen to those who need someone even if it may be inconvenient for you. Express appreciation often. Show your love. Do the dishes for your roommates or clean up a room in the house for your mom. Whatever it may be, let it be positive and of eternal and everlasting value. Be determined to love others and yourself. Be willing to be happy. Try to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you. Do not miss out on all the beauty and light in the world. We may have to put up a fight against despair and darkness but we will win in the end if we are on the side of truth and light and though it may seem, at times, that the sun will never shine and a cloud hangs ever over you it is as Samwise Gamgee says to Frodo in the Two Towers, 
Sam: "It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. 
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam? 
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for. " 

We also came to the conclusion that supporting one another in all our righteous endeavors was one of the most important steps in assuring that our positive self esteem continues to grow. A recent study has shown that those with a work-out partner are 90% more likely to achieve their fitness goals and maintain them than those who do not. So it is with most things in life. A house does not stand for long if it has no support beams. A garden does not grow without constant care. We are here to help each other and to love one another. Religious or Atheist, male or female, poet or mathematician we are all in this together. We are all on the same team. I am not a fan of alienating people because they do not share my views and I hope others do not discriminate towards me either.  There is good in everyone and I am determined to see it. 

Something to remember is to always have patience with yourself. I have a motto that I live by and it is "Patience not complacency." I am wildly imperfect. I make mistakes everyday. That does not mean I have to accept that that is just the way things have to be. I refuse to accept that I cannot change for the better. I refuse to believe evil is permanent. That does not mean I hate myself for my imperfections. I pick myself up, brush myself off and start anew with increased vigor. It is hard too do. Often times it is a struggle to stand back up and keep moving (especially with increased vigor). Sam carried Frodo up Mount Doom when his burden became to heavy to bear alone. He may not have been able to bear Frodo's particular burden but he could "share the load." "Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam." And so we too can place our troubles and our sorrows and our inadequacies on the Lord, Jesus Christ's, shoulders. Unlike Sam, however, Christ knows exactly how we feel. He has suffered every pain and experienced every joy each an everyone of us has had. He will help us when it seems that no one else can. Heavenly Father loves us each individually and knows our names. He is always with us. He is there to share our pain but also to share in our happiness. Sister Holland's book a quiet heart quotes " it is okay to be imperfect while striving for perfection." So you didn't check off everything on your to do list, you forgot to do the dishes, there was a misspelling in your final essay of the semester, and you didn't get to go for a walk with your dog. It is okay. You can try again. You can simplify, prioritize and reflect on the things that matter most. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." At the end of the day, instead of recounting all the mistakes you made focus on the things you did achieve that day. Go to sleep smiling. It's good for digestion. 

Try not to forget that others struggle in many different ways. Women may tend to struggle with their appearance whereas men may struggle more with feeling under appreciated in the work place or whether or not they are providing for their families adequately. Don't forget that many wonderful men, although they may not express it very often, need a boost. They need encouragement from those they love most. There are many amazing men in the world and they, like women, can use some support. Father's Day is coming up, but you don't have to wait for it to express love and gratitude towards the men in your life. Today, tomorrow and forever afterwards son can thank father, mother can thank her father, sister can compliment brother, husband can express love for his wife, father can express his love towards his children. 

I came across a story while reading Elder Marvin J Ashton's "The Measure of Our Hearts" and I would like to share it with you. I do not know the original author and I apologize sincerely. 

"One night a young idealist had a dream. He dreamed there was a new store in a nearby shopping mall. He went in and saw an angel behind a counter. Nervously, he asked what the shop sold.

“Everything your heart desires,” replied the angel.

“Then I want peace on earth,” exclaimed the idealist. “I want an end to famine, sorrow, and disease.”

“Just a moment,” replied the angel. “You haven’t understood. We don’t sell fruit here—only seeds.”

And so it is up to each and every one of us to decided to be better. Not better than our neighbor or our co-worker or our friend but to just, simply, be better than we were yesterday. It starts with each of us as individuals. If you want to learn how to cook, sew, play tennis or golf, be an awesome mother or father, if you want to love more deeply, if you want to serve more often, if you want to help others do the same, you can. You just have to take action. You just have to nourish the seeds until they grow. Take heart, for with billions of people on this earth and a Heavenly Father that loves you, you never have to go at it alone. "ask and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (3 Nephi 27:29)" 

I believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Do you?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Peter Pan

This is by far one of my favorite books of all time. I love everything about it. J.M. Barrie was a genius even if he was a little mad at times.  I am determined to read this book to my children and recommend it to anyone who will read it. The introduction at the beginning, by Jack Zippes, states "It is a self-help book written by a doctoring author for those adults who have lost touch with their imagination and need to regain it through a re-introduction to children's imaginative play." I believe the best medicine is preventive medicine. So I love books like Peter Pan. I hope I never forget to imagine things. I hope I never become too serious.

*Spoiler Alert

Peter and Wendy and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens are both extremely tragic. Even more so than being out of milk after eating a large piece of chocolate cake. Down-right lethal even. However, I am a huge fan of tragic movies and books. What can I say? My family has a morbid streak. It is not the pirates, Hooks vengeful mind or even when Wendy, John and Michael begin to forget their parents that is so tragic as all the things Peter is missing out on by not growing up. He forgets things. People, sorrow, love and many other things. I can see some reasons why Peter might have rejected social conventions. Adults failed him. So many adults are filled with sorrow and discontent. They forget to find joy in the small things. For "there is almost nothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf." They forget to revisit realms they use to fly through on a daily basis as children.  They are plagued by the "What-Ifs" of life. Peter just forgets. He had a mother once. He ran away. She waited for a very long time for her child to come back to her, to leave the island in Kensington Garden behind. Eventually Peter tried to return. He found bars on the windows and a new child had taken his place. Returning to the gardens he became a guide for lost children. "It makes him especially kind to the House-Swallows when they visit the island, for the house-swallows are the spirits of little children who have died. They always build in the eaves of the houses where they lived when they were humans, and some-times they try to fly in at a nursery window, and perhaps that is why Peter loves them best of all birds."  He helps children to love, trust and be loved in a tumultuous but nurturing environment (1).
After many adventures in Neverland Peter was invited to become part of Wendy's family. He refused. Sad but resigned to respect his wishes she, the lost boys, her brothers and her parents (we can't forget Nana) began to laugh (and bark) and play and "there could never have been a lovelier sight; but there was none to see it except a little boy who was staring in at the window. Peter had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be forever barred." He didn't have a family. That is the greatest tragedy of all.  If I had to brave this dangerous grown-up world, suffer tragedy after tragedy, work day after day in a black hole, be a victim of extreme physical pain and anguish nevertheless surrounded by the love of my family or never grow-up, live in a magical land and know no fear or sorrow but without a family I would chose family. I am unwilling to give up my ability to love. I don't believe we have to give up imagination to grow up. I have faith that this life doesn't have to be devoid of fairies, adventure or flight. "For to have faith is to have wings." I just think, the longer we live, the more adventures we can have. To love is an awfully big adventure in itself. "Perhaps we could all fly if we were dead-confident-sure of our capacity to do it as was brave Peter Pan that evening."

Try this.

"If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours  suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire. But just before they go on fire you see the lagoon. This is the nearest you ever get to it on the mainland, just one heavenly moment; if there could be two moments you might see the surf and hear the mermaids singing."

I want my children to always believe in fairies (I still do). I want them to see mushrooms and know that they are "fairy chairs that the servants have forgotten to clear away." To stare at flowers long enough to see them wink (as Fairies often do). I want them to hear the sighs of a thousand ancient stars. I hope they do. I want to see their first laugh break "into a million pieces and skip about" and take the shape of a fairy.  I hope they never kill their fairy with disbelief.

(1) - Jack Zippes
(2) - A whole bunch of quotes from Peter Pan
(3) - P.S. The 2003 version of Peter Pan directed by P.J. Hogan is one of my favorite movies. I recommend it :) It has a lot of quotes from the book :)