Thursday, May 28, 2015

Super conscientious

A few weeks ago for work, my department filled out these leadership DISC profiles. (D = Dominant, I = Influencing, S = Steady, C = Conscientious) The point of this exercise was to figure out each other's leadership styles so we'll communicate better. We are the communications department, after all.

My highest category was Conscientiousness. I like order, structure, and precision. These are qualities editors need to have, otherwise they'd be best off in another career.

What surprised me, though, was that my Conscientiousness (goodness, I hate spelling that word) score was exactly the same at home—84%—as it was at work. All of my coworkers had different scores for home and work, but my two scores for all four categories were almost identical, indicating that I only know how to be one type of person.

Still, I wasn't convinced that I was super conscientious at home. Until Shannan moved in, and I saw myself in an entirely new light. A normal person wouldn't be irked by the tiniest of disruptions to her routine, but I've noticed more and more over the past few days just how ordered I like to be.

For example:

  • I use exactly four ice cubes in my water bottle at night. No exceptions.
  • When I load the dishwasher, cups always go on the left.
  • It is crucial that the blankets on my bed line up evenly, and that there are no obvious wrinkles.
  • I trust no one to manage the temperature level of my apartment—I must do it.
  • My books, movies, and clothes are all organized by style. Disruptions cause mild stress.
  • The blinds must be twisted the right direction.
  • I've listened to every song in my iTunes library, and every song is carefully considered for which playlists it will contribute to. And every song must be listened to to the end, otherwise iTunes won't add it to its play count and that would wreak havoc on my world. 
  • My hair is the bane of my existence because it is too unruly to easily control.

It's no wonder I was so upset whenever Kimberly wouldn't let me play the Order Game with her.

But lest you think I'm unreasonably rigid in all things, I'll have you know that my shoes are tossed in a heap in my closet, my car is usually a bit cluttered, and I like to make up new rules for Monopoly. There is hope for me yet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dream Diary: Part 7

Sister party fire
Our sister party destination this year is in a secret building in Payson, by the Crest gas station. (I've dreamt about this place before, but it likes to change locations, and the exterior changes based on the plot of my dream. My bedroom is in the corner of the basement, almost like a cupboard-under-the-stairs type thing, and there's a secret entrance to the room that only Kimberly and I know about.) Strangely, it's the little sisters who are in charge this time, while Tiffany, Mom, and I are just there for the ride. (There was a lot of role reversal going on in this dream, which made it all the more fun.) The gas station goes up in flame—through no fault of our own, may I add—but we continue our little getaway anyway. No one is fighting the fire, so I start to worry that our building will catch fire next. But we're not allowed to leave, because Kimberly is a government fire employee of some kind and she can't vacate premises until the fire marshal gives her the say-so. And Shannan knows who started the fire and why nobody is doing anything about it because she's some sort of spy, but she won't tell us what's going on. So I do the one thing I have control over: gather up my journals. I think about grabbing my Harry Potter books, too, but it's difficult enough carrying around 18 volumes of my life. Tiffany has a very Shannan-esque attitude about the whole thing—"Wait, there's a fire?"—and plops down to read next to an open door, letting all of the smoke in. Mom steals my thunder and is more concerned about when we will get to eat next than whether we will survive the fire. Kimberly finally gets a call from the fire marshall and is about to tell us what to do—in her best "I'm the oldest and therefore the most responsible" impression—when . . . my alarm goes off.

Bring on the stunt doubles
This was a Convention work dream. Except instead of running the Store and conducting training sessions, my team had to sail this old-fashioned boat made out of steel to a specific destination every day. And because of the high amount of danger involved, actors were hired to be my coworkers so the real people wouldn't get hurt.

Once a nerd, always a nerd
I dreamed I was going over a new semester of syllabi and marking my calendar with due dates, tests, and reading page counts (all color coded, of course). When I woke up I was sad because it wasn't real.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lunch: from fuel to fun

Lunch has always been my least favorite meal. Since high school, it's been an ongoing dilemma to find foods that are portable, filling, and that don't need to be reheated/refrigerated. It's even harder when you try to be healthy while doing it. And in college I often had to eat on the go, so I needed food that was inconspicuous and odor free. There aren't a lot of foods that fit these parameters. And those that do are bland and uninteresting.

So I've taken very little delight in lunch; it's simply fuel to ensure I survive until my next meal.

Some people can pack a simple sandwich or throw a granola bar into their purse and consider themselves prepared for midday, but my appetite has always been too ravenous for such measly helpings. Others forget lunch altogether, to which I say, do you forget to get dressed in the mornings, too?

But as my schedule calmed down and my body required less fuel to get from one place to another (those hills at BYU are mean), I was able to gradually reduce the size of my lunches.

Not only that, but I think my metabolism is starting to slow down, as well. I got down to a sandwich + one side for lunch, and that's not even the weirdest thing. I no longer need toast to complement my breakfasts in the mornings. Noon rolls around and my stomach isn't imploding with hollowness. The work day ends and I sometimes have the stamina to consider taking my evening walk before eating dinner.

I am no longer the hungry person I once was.

This decrease in appetite happened around the same time I finally decided I had had enough of sandwiches. Even homemade bread wasn't enough to ensure my faithfulness of 10+ years.


So I made possibly the biggest food-related change of my entire life: I ditched the sandwiches and started experimenting with salads.

Let me clarify a few things before you die of shock. I did not go full-out vegetarian. Any time I eat a meal that is heavy on the fruits and vegetables, I feel deprived for the rest of the day and seek comfort in donuts, ice cream, and all things salty to compensate for my lack. Any meal that doesn't include meat and cheese just isn't a proper meal, in my opinion.

This drastic change was merely an opportunity for me to make lunch fun again, to stop eating the same boring thing every day. Even if it meant more time in the kitchen cutting up vegetables.

Some of the experiments didn't impress me, like this Italian Tuna and Rice Salad. The olives were delightful, though.


This experiment would repulse tomato haters, but scored with me (after I added some chicken, of course).


But things got even more fun when I finally stepped out of my comfort zone and tried out a new grocery store: Trader Joe's. My coworkers who truly care about the food they consume swear by Trader Joe's, so I decided to try it out. And let me just say, I haven't had so much fun grocery shopping in a long time. The store is small, so you don't waste any time traveling through miles and miles of aisles, making the hunt for specific items so much easier. And so far, everything I've tried has been a hit: the carrot-cake cookies, the tomatoes, the applesauce, and the concoctions I threw together for lunch.


Not lunch, but delightful all the same.


You hungry yet? Let the fun commence!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A temple for Payson

It was during a five-minute break from my evening ASL class that I got the news. Payson was getting a temple.

And it wasn't folklore this time; we had an official Church press release affirming that fact.

It's difficult to describe the emotions that course through your body when you get this kind of announcement. Over the next few days I went through stages of shock, excitement, incredulity, gratitude, and joy. Utah (at the time) was home to 13 temples, but this temple would be for little ol' Payson. My people.


Some of those feelings came back when I went to the open house yesterday. Strangeness at seeing such a magnificent structure where there used to be a simple field (and during some of my pizza delivering days, the road didn't even stretch out that far). Surprise when I recognized some of the ushers. The complete incredulity of feeling like a tourist in my own town, a town that doesn't have any tourist-y attractions (except for, perhaps, Peteetneet Academy, but the only people who would drop by to see that building are Payson natives).


And once we made it inside, it wasn't just the beauty of the apple blossom motifs, the hand-painted gold trim, and the abundance of stained-glass windows that pleased the eye and spirit. It was the extra Payson-ness—the paintings of familiar mountains and scenery, the work done by local artists. All the little reminders that this temple was built with the people of Payson in mind. The building captured the feeling of home in a way no other temple can.





I'm probably biased, but it's one of the most beautiful temples I've ever seen. I may not live in the temple district anymore, but I'll still be proudly claiming the Payson temple as my temple.



Friday, May 1, 2015

Why YSA wards are proof of God's love

It's a truth universally acknowledged that single twenty-somethings are the red-headed stepchildren of Mormon culture. Each family ward has a place for children, youth, and adults, but those of marriageable age with no children suddenly find themselves without a niche.

The solution? Throw them into a singles ward! Marry them off as quickly as you can so they can move back into a real ward and finally feel comfortable with real adults!

Okay, so it's not that bad. Except, sometimes it feels that way. Sometimes I worry that the comical, negative stereotype super-glued to YSA wards is the only perception people have of YSA wards. That they view those who didn't seize the low-hanging fruit in their early twenties as too weird/selfish/lazy/immature to get married.

And I'm not just talking about others here—I thought the same thing until I became one of those single twenty-somethings.

When in fact marriage really has little to do with singles wards in the first place. It's often a side effect, yes. But after 7 1/2 years in a YSA ward, I've felt more and more strongly that these wards were created because God loves his YSAs, not because he wants to "fix" them.

My first YSA ward was a BYU ward. To my 20-year-old self, it was like an unsupervised playground that spontaneously shot couples with Cupid's arrows. Even beyond that, it was a haven, a place of belonging. This was a ward specifically for me and all the other transitioning adults in my small corner of Provo.

I never thought I could learn so much from people my own age, or that church would still feel so right in a setting without families.

Being surrounded by budding romances did wear me down toward the end of my BYU experience, though, and I lost sight of all that is good about singles wards for a while. I felt like that guy from that Singles Ward movie, who, after his divorce, was more upset that he would have to go back to a singles ward than that his marriage had ended.

My perspective shifted when I moved to Midvale and started going to a newly formed singles ward, where beards were rampant and college graduates were the norm. Refreshingly one of the young ones of the ward again, I felt more at home at church than I had in a while. The pressure to get married was still faint, but I was surrounded by people in the same boat I was—trying to make the most of a life experience most of us didn't expect to have.

And being part of a singles ward is an integral part of that experience. It provides you with people who roll their eyes with you when someone admonishes you to "try a little harder" at dating, like it's that simple. (And they're also the ones you listen to when you really do need to try a little harder.) You have a support group to lean on when all of your friendships change because your friends are married and you are not. Sunday School, Relief Society, and Priesthood lessons are relevant to your life today, not the one you hope to have in the future.

But it's more than just the sense of community and commonality. It's the way your relationship with God strengthens as the regulars in your life diminish. It's the trust your bishopric has for young adults to fulfill the "important" leadership callings in the ward. It's the way the ward focuses on you and helping you reach your potential.

I haven't missed going to a family ward for a long time, and I know I'll be really sad when I have to leave. Because YSA wards aren't just a solution to the twenty-somethings problem—they exist because God watches out for all of his children, even the misfits.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Read the Old Testament: Check

It took about five years, but I can finally check off "read the entire Old Testament" off my bucket list.

Given the length of time it took to complete it, this goal clearly wasn't a top priority. (I can only think of one other book that took me longer to read—Little Women. I started it in junior high, picked it up sporadically throughout high school, and then finally started over and gave the book one last try after graduating from college. Incidentally, it is now one of my favorite books. Timing is everything, my friends.)

One of my favorite classes at BYU—possibly the favorite—was the Bible as Literature. We studied the bible from historical and literary perspectives, something you don't get to do much in your typical LDS Sunday School class. To make things even more interesting, Dr. Eliason didn't assign a specific edition for the entire class; instead, he asked us to pick out a couple different versions and base our study on those. (This made read-aloud sessions more fun—it's fascinating how much the translations differ from each other.)

I went a little beyond the minimum book requirement (my checking account wasn't happy about it). But this English major couldn't resist the "prompting" to just buy one more . . .
And just like that, instead of the dry, hard-to-understand text I had previously associated with the bible, I had a book of stories akin to Aesop's Fables or Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales (although some of the stories are definitely more Grimm.) During that semester, I discovered so many new stories and understood some of my old favorites in deeper, more satisfying ways. Who knew you could learn so much from the line "and Eglon was a very fat man"? Who in this modern era wouldn't enjoy a story about a young woman who pounded a tent peg through her captor's head rather than wait for rescue?

The bible is full of stories like that, and unfortunately we couldn't cover all of them in four short months. Never fear, I told myself, you can read the entire thing on your own time.

Which is what I did, although it wasn't quite the experience I was expecting. Turns out it helps to have a bible expert at your side to provide context. And some of it is about as interesting as an inventory list. Not to mention the stuff that is just plain incomprehensible. (Think Isaiah is hard? Then you haven't tried Ezekiel.)

But you know the phrase "You only get out what you put in"? That is essential to Old Testament scripture study. You can't peruse through it like you would a picture book and wait for knowledge to pop out at you with lots of pretty colors. Those inventory lists, family trees, and detailed laws may not be fun reading, but if you start to think about why they're there, you might learn something anyway. If you're paying attention, you'll find that many of the men and women have personalities—they're real people, not one-dimensional stick figures who exist solely to teach lessons. And most importantly, stories about talking donkeys and whales that swallow humans and large bodies of water that are split in half still have so much relevance to the boring, troubling, and confusing things we deal with every day.

I am by no means an Old Testament expert yet, and I plan to dive back into the book many more times to dig out more treasures.

But for now, on to the New Testament!


Monday, April 13, 2015

When you're playing hooky

When you've procured for yourself a burn-out recovery day, you have to do it upright.

An excellent start to any day begins at the temple. It's especially satisfying to do the Lord's work when you're supposed to be in a cubicle somewhere.





After a quick lunch, grab a book and read outside. It's a beautiful day out.


Next, let's hit the matinee showing of the latest must-see movie.

But first, buy a treat with your spare change. That's what it's for.


And if you're lucky, you'll get an entire theater to yourself.


When the movie's over, you'll be ready to move around a bit—so why not explore some new walking trails in the luscious spring sunshine and see what you can find?



And be sure to take more pictures of flowers. Because it's fun.




When you get home, this would be the optimal time to start preparing for a fabulous dinner. But chances are you don't have any food to cook, so plan on enjoying leftovers again later.

Oh my, look at the time. The work day is just ending.


The rest of the evening is yours to do with as you wish. If you've followed these instructions, you should be sufficiently recharged by bedtime.