Best Reads in 2014

31 December 2014

This year, I read a lot of self-help and personality psychology books.  Not really any novels (except a John Grisham because he's always a delight).  Needless to say, it was a huge year of progression and self-discovery for me.  As such, I forego the awards for Best Discovered Novelist and Best Writing, and I just selected a couple Best New Mentors!

Best Discovered Novelist:  ----

Best Writing:   ----

Best New Mentor:  Andy Andrews and Brene Brown.

Below is my bookshelf of best reads in 2014:

Upward and onward,

The swing of our many hearts

28 December 2014

Sometimes the past beats inside like a second heart.  When the pendulum of my emotions needs to swing that way.

But I've been studying acceptance lately.  Accepting the pendulum to swing as it may. 

Then, I breathe in deep and put my primary heart back into focus.  Pulling my pendulum back in place. Allowing my thoughts and actions to become free of all previous fear, insecurity, or withholding.   Reigning from the power of accepting myself as a fresh new person in every moment that I need.  The feeling of total uninhibition and renewal.

Here's to quiet Sunday evenings, making mini collages, and using acceptance to be in control.

Upward and onward,

One Image Source

Part 3: Beautiful Shadows

Furthering the talk of - Love.  See Part 1 and Part 2.

I texted Mace one night last summer, saying I really just needed to get out.  We were sitting on a bench outside the mall, after we had just played an entertaining social psychology game with the mall occupants, laughing ourselves to tears.  Then we went outside to the bench, and he started to ask me what was really going on in my mind, why I felt so heavy lately.  We were interrupted by a man needing to use Mace's phone, and we're pretty certain he made some sort of drug deal, or he just gives really elusive directions to mysterious people to meet him in nowhere places.  Not that we were eavesdropping by any means.

I proceeded to tell Mace that my concept of love is failing me.  Because I know what I believe about love, and I live according to that, but I get confused when the return from another is meager and their desire to improve is indifferent.  WHY don't people want to improve how they love? 

Because I believe the ability to love comes naturally for some people.  As an innate gift or successful genetic wiring.  While others struggle with it, maybe by circumstance or just laziness.  And I'm really not a fan of laziness, not like the Saturday sweats  and TV-watching-chocolate type lazy, not that I know anything about that...  But the type of laziness that promotes deflection and excuses from becoming a better person.  Basically, people unwilling to be better - and that includes being better at loving other people.

And yes, I know about the Love Languages, and how people speak their love differently, and one can be spinning at maximum output while the other feels nothing, so you have to get on the same page first.  But, simply the awareness of one's love language doesn't really do much if people aren't willing to be loving in the first place.  So yes, that book works for affectionate people.  But is there a precursory book about simply being a consistently loving and attentive person, because then there'd be no AT MINIMUM just hug them or buy them a cactus, because we'd feel so satiated and trusting in our love all the time

And I'm not talking about just romantic love either.  Loving everyone.

Anyway, so I asked Mace about his perception of love.  "What is love, to YOU?"  Which reminds me of the time I worked at Dairy Queen as a youth and asked all my coworkers the same question, writing down their answers on scraps of receipts and storing them in a napkin.  Turns out a bunch of pubescent teenagers had their heads on pretty straight about love.

But the ensuing conversation between Mace and I was the most eternal perception of love I have ever heard.  Mace told me how love can be functional at many different levels.  One level being coasting from one love language action to another.  All the way to a level where one is fully enveloped in the another's needs, two steps ahead of them, creating a safe and protected relationship for another, as Mace described, sacrificing all but your covenants with God for that person.  And as the level of your love increases, so does the intensity of your happiness.  Concluding with the thought, love develops the more you practice it.


That love is a conscious choice and effort to be improved.  That TO LOVE is something of a talent or a muscle.  So I asked God that specific question to see if He agreed, "Do YOU believe that love is something every person should be striving to be better at? That love is a skill that should be constantly developed?"

And I remember driving to Mexico, a few weeks after speaking with Mace, sitting in a van full of friends and reading my scriptures, and I remember a distinct feeling that yes, YES, love is certainly something that can developed and everyone should be willing to do so.

So I hold that conviction:  One's ability to love CAN and SHOULD be developed.

Upward and onward,

Too Crood to Remember

26 December 2014

Tonight after family games had been played and leftover Christmas dinner had been eaten, it was time to watch.... The Croods.  I honestly wasn't expecting much, but it was one of Brennan's Christmas gifts that he was eager to watch, and I wanted to hang out with him.  So I put my earlier Audrey Hepburn film on pause, and nestled into the couch with him and my parents to watch.

I loved the movie.  I'll get to that.

But mostly, I LOVED being with Brennan.  He was laughing SO much, as he always does.  It's so easy to get him laughing, and he just keeps going and going.  He's never anything but happy, calm, and easygoing.  And tonight I thought about how Brennan is one of the people I feel most happy around.  And when I see him experience any bad emotion, I can hardly handle it.  Is that what parenting feels like?  Feeling your child's emotions times 10?  Because if so, I don't think I could even handle watching my child eat a pea. For example, yesterday Trevor and Brennan were playing a video game upstairs.  I was sitting between them "meditating," which is what I tell Ryan is my Pinteresting time, ha!  But after a round of the game, Trevor started taunting Brennan - "why aren't you fighting better!" "how are you not better at this!"  The older brothers often tease Brennan.  But this time Brennan said, "Stop Trevor!  Stop teasing me!"  Which means business coming from the always-happy-calm boy.  So I stopped "meditating" and looked over at him.  His lip started quivering and his eyes welled up with tears.  It broke my heart.  Sometimes you just need someone in your corner.  So I flung my head the other way.  Protective sister mode.  "Trevor, encourage Brennan at what he does.  Do not bring him down.  Look at him, and then apologize."  Trevor looked over and Brennan was looking down at his controller with sad tears.  I saw Trevor look sad too.  "Sorry Bren."  Then I pulled Brennan close and just hugged him until he felt like playing again.  It made me feel SO sad to see him that deflated, though Trevor was noticeably uplifting towards him for the rest of the day. 

And then, earlier today, Brennan and I were downstairs just chatting.  I was asking him about school, who he hangs out with, who his friends are.  He didn't really have an answer.  "Who do you sit with at lunch?" I asked.  "I mostly just sit by myself."  "Do people come sit by you?  Are they your friends?"  "Yeah, people come sit by me and sometimes talk to me.  I don't know if they're my friends.  I don't really hang out with them."  He wasn't bothered by this, as it was just a fact to him, which is commendable that he's so comfortable and approving of himself during such a need-to-be-popular time.  And I can understand why he is this way, because we live outside of all the neighborhoods so there's really no kids around, and Brennan is so much younger than the rest of us siblings that he's used to not having people his age to connect with.  So probably at school, it feels normal to just be... more alone.

But that makes me feel so bad.

During the movie, as Brennan was laughing so hard next to me, and then as he grew tired, resting his head on my shoulder, I thought about this.  I thought what a tragedy it was for THEM, all those weirdo middle school kids.  Because of every kid at that place, I'd want to hang out with Brennan.  He's such a JOY to be around.  Move over zitty tweens!  Don't mind us laughing so hard about the caveman grandma who has nasty armpit hair.

I feel really really grateful that he is my brother and that I'm his "Best Friend."  Whether he means that truly, or because he's been coaxed all his older siblings for so long that he's primed in his answers.  But he is very much that role for me, as just being around him makes me SO happy.  Two goofy peas in a pod.

And as for those cavemen Croods, well, I was seriously impressed.  Nothing gets me like a feel-good movie with all these inspiring messages.  I mean, who knew a movie about CAVEMEN would make me feel so happy.  What I liked - besides Brennan hysterically laughing every time someone got punched in the face by a monkey or a rock, which was making it all equally hysterical for me - but I LOVED the following messages from the film:

-letting go of the way things have always been to allow for new ideas.
 (Guy being a risktaker, which kept fueling better and better innovations.  I believe in that!)

-find the differences in other people as a positive contribution.
 (Guy and the dad having a heart-to-heart in the tar, and they accept each other and note how each is offering benefit)

-moving beyond tragedy and still being a stellar person.
 (how Guy's family all died in a tar accident, and he never once let it hold him back)

-accepting ways you can be better and putting it straight to action.
 (the dad realizing he could be more open to new ideas and more loving to his daughter.  Changed the whole energy of his family.  I loved that!)

It was good.  It was all just so good.  And texting Ryan during the whole film was also fantastic :)

Here's to hilarious brothers, positive messages, and gratitude towards having just the people we need.

Upward and onward,


Happy Moments

24 December 2014

Home for Christmas!  Ahhhh..  the house is quiet.  Quiet to only the storm outside.

Except I don't feel like sleeping.  Because I feel.... really happy.  "Really" anything is the best time to write.

Below is a list of happy moments on this Christmas break:

-LOVED seeing Trevor's scriptures open on his bed.

- going to buy a bow with Devin and Brennan.  Good chat time with Devin.  His car smelled so good.  Talked about him going to PT school and joining the military.  Talked about Kara and baby and their relationship.  They are a good match.

- hung out with Brennan while we waited for Devin.  Explained to him things about working like the pallet lift, "retail," "inventory."  Love teaching him and also seeing my knowledge in business.

-came home and researched financial modeling.

-talked to my mom about it when she got home.  Helped by doing the dishes.

-Dad passed through and said, "yes you have way too much talent to just be a P-Card lady."

-Played Just Dance with Brennan.  So fun.

-Now watching Shark Tank with mom :)

Upward and onward,

Something that matters

04 December 2014

I just can't crack how empty it all feels. Work.

Was sitting numbly in the cafeteria. Big companies do pidgeon-hole you. I'm not a number-pusher. And I hate the feeling of spinning a wheel in a rut.  Ryan was telling me the other day that I'm just a puzzle piece and they have to keep me in my little puzzle spot.

Mace just sent me an email about a typhoon in the Philippines. Could be really helping.

I was perusing online just before. The way people turn themselves into a business. It's SOOOO stupid to me. Like your face and your clothes and your 1,000,000 professional photos matter.  It's so brainless.  Freaking brainless. 

I want to do something that matters.

Upward and onward,


A simple night for myself

02 December 2014

Tonight I stole some solitudinal time for myself.

First I walked to the temple, just down the campus of my office, and did my favorite work of iniatories.  Worked with a woman who had a permanently deformed neck, and as she talked to me with her head completely cranked sideways, my own neck started to itch horribly in the same spot.  I thought of those movies that are like, "when we go in to see him, whatever you do, don't stare it his unibrow."  And then the scary guy turns around in his chair and all the main character can do is gape wide-eyed at his unibrow.  Stop itching neck.  

I recovered, felt an amazing calm while doing the temple work.  That was my first time doing initiatories in the Salt Lake temple. 

Then I came home and went for a run. Runs are few and far between these days.  It is always well passed dark, which makes me long for my sunshine evening runs.... ah gosh.  So I swaddled up and sprinted down to the city park and began running laps around the mile and a half loop, dodging from lamp post to lamp post, decompressing my mind.  A few laps in, I became aware of the one other runner in the park.  A young fellow, dressed in all black spandex, running in the same spot of the park as I was.  He was running sprints and walking the hills, and I ran steadily.  So we leapfrogged back and forth, back and forth, for many laps.  The park was entirely barren, except for the two of us running close by each other, so we grow to be somewhat of comforting companions.  Though we never spoke, or even acknowledged the other, it was really nice to not be alone.  I told myself that I would just keep running until he went home, and then I'd go home too.  So we kept going and going.  Always passing each other in the sames spots.  I reached mile 8, holding myself firm down a hill.  I reached the spot where he usually passed me, and I turned around to see if he was coming.  He was gone.

Well, that marks the end of my run too then.  So I walk-danced the last part of the loop to a Chris Brown song, which is my signature thing to do when I know no one is around to see.  And then I lollygaged the mile and a half back home, texting Ryan who was still working late.

Now I write in my "unds" on my bedroom floor.  That saying goes way back to grad school when I would blog in my underwear and Leslie would sit in the hallway and laugh with me.  Some things never change I suppose. 

Here's to calming nights.  The same things that make me feel peaceful time and time again.

Upward and onward,

And some happy pictures!!

A cute little house on my run!  CHRISTMAS IS COMING! 

Happy view from my room.  My favorite scripture next to my brothers.  My mangled vision board on the left and my new vision board on the right.  And of course my two house plants that are miraculously STILL ALIVE.  

And a visual for said writing location.  Everything just feels so cozy and right tonight.

A sweet, chocolately evening

01 December 2014

I come home early from work and text Ryan, "maybe we can hang out another day.  Feeling imbalanced tonight.  Wasn't a good day at work."  He says he doesn't mind, and he arrives a couple hours later. 

After I've gone grocery shopping, stopping at Bath and Body Works next door to lather myself in every bottle of cream that my slippery hands can still open, Ryan finds me in the center of my bedroom floor, just sitting still, processing. 

I tell him we'll picnic right here tonight, eating cut-up produce that won't fit on my drawer of the fridge.  He's really kind to me, pulling me close and telling me he doesn't mind I had a bad day. 

Then we decide to watch a movie.  I make hot chocolate for us, while he follows me around the kitchen wrapped up in my bright-striped college comforter.  I forgot to buy milk so I attempt to make hot cocoa with powdered milk, and I mask the taste by adding 18 scoops of chocolate to both our mugs.  We nestle in for our movie, the insane amount of sugar pulsing in my veins. 

After the movie ends, he's cuddling with me on the couch.  And I'm something like Cinderella in times when I'm decompressing heavy emotion.  The clock rings 10, and no matter what's happening, my emotions demand their time, and I softly cry.  Though I try to be discreet.  Ryan always kindly prods me open and reassures me I can talk to him.  I'm fine.  I'm not crying.  Even though both our faces are wet.  "It's okay to cry," he says. "Want to talk?"  I shake my head. 

It's the return of the dark pains I've wrestled and battled for years now.  The surge that I know feels so real in the moment, but tomorrow I'll be grounded and I can self-talk my way through it on rational ground.  I just can't hide it in the moment. 

We stand up to clean up our hot cocoa, and I follow him upstairs giggling.  We're back in my bedroom and I tell him, it's time for my daily 10 pm scarf dance, except I keel over giggling and don't even perform a dance.  I tell him, "oh no you've never seen me weird before.  It's about to get crazy." he laughs and replies, "What are you talking about?  I see you act goofy all the time.  Every time we're together, you laugh and wheez uncontrollably for at least 15 minutes without anything funny even happening."

That is probably true.

It's a sweet night.

Upward and onward,