Friday, October 31, 2014

Final thoughts

It's a beautiful fall day, and this is my last post on bold living.
[Image courtesy of the Wheel of Time reread on]

It's been an interesting project, one that I both enjoyed and abhorred.

What I liked about it

As a writer, my two biggest challenges center on finding the motivation to write and deciding what to write about. This blog challenge took care of both for me; I already had my topic, and I knew I had to write something every day. It was refreshing to not have to wrestle with either of those challenges for once.

Any time you focus on one thing for days and days, you learn more about it than you normally would. You notice it in everyday conversations, in movies and TV shows, in advertisements. About a week into this challenge, I perked up any time someone said the word "bold," and had to resist the temptation to take notes on everything they said after that. I noticed the different ways people used the word to describe actions, and I was constantly watching people for examples of how they incorporate boldness into their lives.

This challenge also affected me in ways I didn't anticipate. As I dug deeper into bold living, I was forced to delve deeper into sections of my own life. Boldness became a tool to solve issues I was grappling with, and a magnifying glass to help me identify areas I needed to improve in—often in ways I wouldn't have tried before.

What I disliked about it

It's called a 31-day blog challenge for a reason. There were times I didn't even want to use any form of the word "bold," I was so sick of it. I would long to write about insignificant things—my craving for pizza, the contact I lost this morning after I put it in, anything!—without having to justify how it fit into bold living.

Writing every day was difficult, too. Weekends were especially hard, since I rarely blog on Saturdays and Sundays. You probably noticed that those posts were less meaty than the weekday ones.

Would I do it again?

Maybe. The arguments for and against match up pretty evenly. (Although the personal growth aspect should probably get more weight, meaning the pros outweigh the cons.)

But for now, I'm happy to be done. I'm going to try to keep up my new daily writing habit during November via my own version of NaNoWriMo, but this blog will go back to normal. Hallelujah.

Some final stats
  • My page views for this month more than quadrupled my previous record. Traffic started spiking a few weeks before I started this challenge, though, so I don't think the extra traffic was solely because of this challenge.
  • Most popular post: bold literary characters.
  • My favorite post: probably the corn maze one.

And, that's a wrap! My 31-Days of Bold Living page now has 31 entries.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What a life of boldness looks like

Writing about boldness for 30 days probably doesn't make me an expert on the subject. Just ask any PhD student.

But during the last 30 days, I've looked at boldness from every angle I could think of, from creativity to risk taking to formatting. And I've tried to live a life of boldness, if for no other reason than it would give me something to write about.

To me, bold living means a lot of things.

  • Taking control over your life
  • Not allowing your fears to have the final say in your decisions
  • Being willing to try new things
  • A bit more flair to make things interesting
  • Daily risk taking
  • Standing out
  • Daring to be extraordinary

A life of boldness may not give you all the things you want, but at least at the end of the day you can look back and think, at least I tried. At least I had an experience. At least I didn't let [insert challenge here] beat me. 

And when bold living pays off, it pays off in a big way.

You won't be hearing much more from me on the subject, though. Not for a while, anyway.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A side effect of bold living

Ask my mom to sum me up in one word, and she'll probably say "sneaky." I like to do things in secret. I avoid anything that draws attention to myself, even if it means taking the long route to the bathroom so I don't have to walk past as many people. I'm pretty good at being invisible, and most of the time that exactly what I want to be.

But it's hard to be bold and sneaky at the same time. Whether you put on a flashy outfit or try out a new hobby, somebody is going to notice.

There are a lot of good things that come from bold living, but the extra attention is a side effect I'm not fond of.

I'm also not fond of the person who decided to do this blog challenge during a 31-day month. Why not do it in February, eh?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Balancing boldness with contentment

Boldness and contentment are pretty different—one means you're willing to try new things and the other means being happy with what you have. But it's important to incorporate both into your life.

Of course, it's possible to have both in your life at the same time. You can be perfectly happy with where you're at and still be willing to take risks. But usually it's a teeter-totter from one to the other. When you're content, you probably won't be in a hurry to change things. When you're constantly seizing new opportunities, it's harder to appreciate what you already have.

I don't have the secret formula for when contentment should override boldness, or vice versa. But I think this is one case where it's okay to flip-flop back and forth, depending on personal circumstances.

Bold living is rewarding, sure, but I think I'll focus on contentment in November.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Boldly living in the present

I have this problem where I get so excited about the future that I forget to live in the present. I can so clearly visualize how things are going to be that sometimes I'll ignore opportunities that have no potential to lead to the future I've envisioned.

Which is pretty dumb. Especially since my plans for the future always take longer than I think they will. You miss out on so many "now" experiences when your focus is solely on the future.

It's good to have a plan for the future. But something I have to constantly remind myself is that we don't live in the future; we live in the present. It's so much easier for me to focus on outcomes, but the journey is just as important.

Bold living can help you accomplish your goals. It can make some great things happen. But it can also help you live every day to the fullest, and even take you places you didn't plan on going. We spend most of our lives trying to get somewhere, but the journey is not simply a means to an end. The journey is where we do our living. Bold living is one of many ways to help us truly appreciate the present.

We're in the final stretch now. This index is almost full. Hooray!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Progress report

I know I've mentioned this before, but the theme I inflicted upon myself for 2014 is Be Bold. To help keep this theme in mind, I decided I would do one bold thing a month. (Which seems a little wimpy after you've been writing about bold living for 26 days, but, it's important to start small.)

So I've compiled a progress report for how I've been doing up to this point. (Good thing I have my journals handy. It's hard to do these types of personal evaluations without them.)

I did sealings at the temple for the first time.

I mastered the art of bread making. And I gave my two weeks notice. That was the hardest part of the quitting process.

Since it was too hard to be friendly, I decided to try a different tact: make it easier for others to be friendly to me. I did this by making the silliest goal ever: getting to church a few minutes late every week so I would be forced to sit by someone during sacrament meeting. I did the same sort of thing for Sunday School. It worked surprisingly well—a lot of ice was unthawed that month.

Oh, and I started a new job and finished my master's degree.

I got some party invites, and I actually went to a couple of them.

I took a golf lesson, and learned that it can be fun if you let it.

I went snorkeling. Which, despite the annoying equipment required and the panic you have to overcome to be able to breathe underwater, turned out to be really awesome. I also kissed a dolphin. Which was weird.

There was this guy on my softball team I liked, so I decided to get to know him a little better instead of keeping my distance and hoping he would somehow feel a deep connection between us and approach me out of the blue. A few weeks later he started dating another girl in the ward.

I played on my stake's all-star softball team. No longer the best female player on the team, it took a lot more guts to show up and play. Not that I should have worried, though; the more intense the competition is, the less the guys will trust the girls with the ball, so it's not like we were expected to do much anyway.

One of my coworkers quit, which ended my role as the newbie who's still learning things. I had to take on a lot more responsibilities and be more assertive overall. (Remember when I said I would cry if October was as bad as September? Well, that's pretty much the new normal now.) It was quite a learning curve, and I made some mistakes along the way, but it's been good for me.

I've said enough about October. Go over here for a recap.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One sentence

Sometimes, you don't have to be bold.

Because you're hanging out with your family instead. You can find legitimate boldness over here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween at work

I am amazed every year at the lengths people will go to for Halloween. The creativity and the planning that goes into every costume. The humiliation that is willingly suffered when costumes are donned.

I may not understand it. But the excitement people have for this holiday can be a little contagious.

At work today, many people spent all day preparing for our party later in the afternoon. I missed most of the fun because email reviews are taking over my life, but I'm not bitter.

I did, however, manage to get one picture of my work area while everyone else was crammed into the gym. The PR girls all dressed up as characters from the game, and while I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those costumes, I was really quite impressed with their ingenuity. Sadly, they aren't pictured here, but here's some of their handiwork.

My new place of work: Candyland. It even smelled like candy.
At least this year, people didn't have to Google "Muggle" when I told them who I was supposed to be. See more on bold living here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When bold living doesn't change your situation

I'm a firm believer that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. I've tried that sitting-around-waiting-for-a-miracle thing, and it's not a very reliable way to make sure things get done.

Which is why bold living has been my focus this year. My hope was that it would help me live more fully, take more risks, and thereby make things happen.

And it has helped—I've had experiences I wouldn't have had if I didn't make a conscious decision to be a bit more daring. I'm more willing to take chances than I used to be, even though it's not necessarily any easier. (I'll post more on this later this week, so stay tuned.)

But this challenge has also been a reminder that I can't control everything in my life. Bold living has enriched certain aspects of it, but my life is still my life. It's a hard lesson for us independent types to learn, but sometimes the only way to get a miracle is to wait for it to come to you. (I can just see feminists around the country squawking at that statement. But I don't care about them.)

But that's no reason to not live boldly; in fact, it's because of the situations you can't change that you should strive to live a certain way. I don't care if you want to focus on boldness or contentment or continual learning—the way you live your life regardless of your lack of control defines the person you are and the richness of your life journey.

It's like my stake president told us last month: trust God that things will work out, and then go live your life.

I'm amazed I'm still learning things about bold living after 23 days of writing about it. I guess that's the whole point, though, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pretty much the boldest person I know of

When I was at BYU, there was this guy in my ward, Andrew Wilcox. He is one of the most uniquely awesome people I have ever met. Everyone liked him, even though he was just a lowly freshman. I distinctly remembering him heart-attacking all the girls' apartments on Valentine's Day, and leading a snowball fight in the Miller parking lot—with a broken foot. He got around with this cool skooter thing—he would kneel on it with his injured leg and push with the good one. This did not stop him from participating fully in the snowball fight.

In the past year, he's used his awesomeness to become something of a YouTube sensation. (He even made it onto some major news networks.) This is a guy who knows how to live life to a fullest that most people wouldn't even attempt.

The only other person I can picture busting some moves on a stranger's roof is my brother. Maybe I should find a way to introduce them. I don't know if the world can handle that much awesomeness at once, though.

I think it'll take me about 700 years to work my way up to Andrew's type of bold living. Until then, I'll just let him entertain me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A bold playlist

  1. "Anyway," by Martina McBride
  2. "What About Now," by Lonestar
  3. "Breakaway," by Kelly Clarkson
  4. "I Hope You Dance," by Lee Ann Womack
  5. "Brave," by Sara Bareilles
  6. "Brave," by Hudson Lights (not a remake of the Sara Bareilles version—this is a completely different song)
  7. "Go the Distance," by Michael Bolton
  8. "Stand," by Rascal Flatts
  9. "Defying Gravity," from Wicked
  10. "Don't Stop Believin'," by Journey
  11. "Live Like You're Dying," by Tim McGraw
  12. "Miracles Happen," by Myra
  13. "This Is the Moment," from Jekyll and Hyde
  14. "Voice of Truth," by Casting Crowns
  15. "The Power of One," by Bombshel
  16. "On Top of the World," by Imagine Dragons
There are plenty of things you can do while listening to this playlist. Or you can use it as part of your pre-game ritual before you boldly go out and do . . . something.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I take risks

  • Because the long-term rewards are sometimes greater than the short-term rewards of safety and comfort.
  • To challenge myself.
  • Because I don't want my fears to dictate all of my decisions.
  • It's the risks I took that paid off that I'll want to tell my grandchildren about, not all the times I stayed home where I was happy and comfortable.
  • To make my journey more interesting.
  • To get exposure to new things.
  • So I can be more.
Why do you take risks?

You can find more long-winded reasons here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Boldness in the kitchen

Cooking for one person has its advantages. I don't have to cook new food that often, for one, because sometimes it takes over a week to eat all the leftovers.

But it also has its disadvantages. Like eating the same leftovers for over a week. And less motivation to cook, period, because there's no one to impress but myself.

But sometimes I put in the effort anyway. This weekend, for instance, I made two things I've never made before: Easy Broccolini Flounder Bake and applesauce.

The flounder dish I got from The Skinnytaste Cookbook, which is based on a food blog I follow that has yielded some tasty food. I don't cook fish that often, but in the spirit of trying new things, I decided to give it a shot.

It was actually pretty simple to make, and I only set off my hyper-sensitive fire alarm once. First I grilled some colorful veggies.

And then I threw them on top of seasoned cod (I couldn't find any flounder, and besides, I feel uncomfortable eating something that shares the same name of one of the characters in my favorite childhood movie), and let the oven do the rest of the work. Twenty minutes later, I had a lovely meal waiting to be consumed over some good magazine reading.

To be honest, I wasn't blown away by its tastiness, but I won't have any trouble eating it for the next few days, either. The tomatoes were my favorite part, unsurprisingly.

Now, the homemade applesauce—that didn't disappoint. I know pumpkin is all the rage these days, but nothing can compare to apples, in my opinion. I used to help Mom can apples when I was a kid, which is hard but immensely satisfying work. Especially if you get to sample fresh, hot applesauce before packing it away. (This is the sole reason I often heat up my applesauce before I eat it, in a feeble attempt to whisk myself back to my childhood, when certain things tasted better.) Sometimes at night, I would sneak into the fruit room and eat an entire bottle of sliced apples. There's no way my stomach could handle that much fruit now, but at the time those apples were simply too delicious to stop eating.

So I started with these apples,

which were promptly peeled, chopped, and thrown into a pot.

I threw in some lemon juice, cinnamon, and brown sugar, and let the crock pot do the rest for me. (Aside from the occasional stirring on my part.) For the next six hours, the smell in my apartment got more and more intoxicating.

A few hours after sunset, I was impatiently waiting for my bowl of applesauce to cool a little bit so I could see if it tasted as good as it smelled.

It tasted better.

Seriously, it's like eating apple pie, but without the crust. I am completely in love with it, and I don't think I'll ever buy pre-made applesauce ever again. This experiment in the kitchen paid off big time.

Taking pictures of your food is almost as much work as preparing it. But there's something about this blog series that has inspired me to use more pictures. You're welcome.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The 5K I almost ran

My stake relief society put on a health fair today, which started with a 5K run. When I first heard about it, I seriously considered doing the 5K.

The fact that I had never before considered doing such a thing only encouraged me more. It would be something different, something daring. I even went so far as to interrupt my lovely walks with spurts of jogging to prepare my body for five straight kilometers of running.

I still think I would have gone through with my plan if it weren't for one thing: the 5K was scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. On a Saturday morning. All week, my resolve has been weakening. There's a reason I don't work out in the mornings—my chance of success is about .027 percent. Even lower than that on a Saturday morning, when I hoard those precious extra hours of sleep like nobody's business.

Last night I didn't even set my alarm. I knew I wouldn't get out of bed.

I could berate myself for squandering a unique opportunity, but I'm not going to do that today. It's great to always be willing to try new things, but you have to accept that you won't always meet your lofty goals. You'll fall short from time to time. It's just part of being human.

I did, however, still walk a 5K this afternoon in the gorgeous autumn sunshine. That's gotta be one of the best ways to enjoy the most beautiful weather of the year.

Maybe I'll try football instead of a 5K. That would be equally shocking. See more on bold living here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A breakdown of the Hogwarts houses

Each Hogwarts house is known for a few specific qualities, but the people in each house possess qualities that fit in each of the other houses, as well. The right combination of certain qualities could land you in one house even if it seems like you belong in another (see: Hermione); furthermore, it's the way you choose to use certain qualities that set you apart from students in other houses.

Which gives me the perfect opportunity to break down each of the houses according to one trait: boldness.


Let's start with the obvious, shall we? During Harry's 4th year, the Sorting Hat says it flat out: "Bold Gryffindor, from wild moor." In Muggle terms, the Gryffindors are the jocks of Hogwarts: cocky, daring, more than willing to break the rules. But they're also chivalrous and brave, basically making them the coolest house at Hogwarts.


Ravenclaw is where "those with wit and learning, will always find their kind." They use their boldness to fuel their creativity. As pointed out in the Ravenclaw welcome letter on Pottermore, Ravenclaws "are the most individual—some might even call them eccentrics. But geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk, and unlike some other houses we could name, we think you've got the right to wear what you like, believe what you want, and say what you feel. We aren't put off by people who march to a different tune." Proud Ravenclaw, right here.


Slytherins are willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. This doesn't necessarily make them evil; it just means they're ambitious. While a Ravenclaw will go to untold lengths to find the answer to a perplexing question, Slytherins will chase their dreams just as far. They tend to be much more subtle about how they go about achieving their goals (just look at Voldemort—he was a sneak through and through), which is one of several reasons why I think I'd be a Slytherin if I weren't a Ravenclaw.


Hufflepuffs get a bad rap for being pushovers, but when faced with a moral battle, I have no doubt that the Puffs would win. They are extremely loyal, and are far more concerned with welcoming people with open arms than worrying about what people think about them. Theirs is a quiet strength, but don't forget that when the moment of truth comes, they'll be a second behind the Gryffindors to charge boldly forward. (And they're only a second because they're more likely to think before they act. I can't say the same for Gryffindors.)

This is a part of a 31-day series on bold living. Harry Potter references have somehow found their way into several of these posts. I'm not obsessed or anything.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

To be more than ordinary

With that word constantly on my mind, I notice it in a lot more places than I normally would. Like in this quote, while I was browsing the news:
“Fear never bothers you if you’re average, but the second you dare to be more than ordinary, fear awakens.” — Jon Acuff
And he's right. The easy thing to do would be to stay put, never changing. But there's something inside of every one of us that isn't content with unchanging stability. We all have that spark inside of us that urges us to do and be more. Fear will always be an obstacle, but it is oh-so-satisfying when you finally beat it.

I finally made it past the halfway point! The rest of this thing should be pretty easy, right? Right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The aftermath of a bold move

This year, I've focused a lot on enlivening my social habits, which often requires all the boldness I can muster. For some people, making friends is so natural they don't think twice about it, but I have always struggled in this area. Sometimes I feel like every cell in my body is fighting against my having any sort of social life at all. Pushing back against my introverted tendencies is almost always exhausting and discouraging.

It's often a battle I don't win, which doesn't exactly inspire me to try harder. (Which is why it's important to recognize when it's time to take a break.)

But every now and then, I score a victory. And the euphoria from that victory is strong enough to last for days. Weeks, even, if I roll with the momentum.

This week, my goal was to go to Cornbellys with my ward. I have loved corn mazes since the first time I went to one about 15 years ago. I was a brand-new Beehive, and didn't really have friends in the ward. But when your dad is in the bishopric, it's hard to get out of going to activities. (It's even harder when your mom is the Young Womens president—but that came later.)

My worst fear came to pass when everyone clumped into groups and darted into the maze, leaving me to either hang out with my dad or go through by myself: equally humiliating options when you're 12 years old. I entered the maze anyway, mostly to satiate my curiosity; I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. In front of me were a few girls in my ward. One of them saw me ambling along, and immediately invited me to be in their group.

And just like that, I was part of a laughing group of girls, just like I hoped I would be. Every year I went back, it was a similar story—I would somehow find myself in the middle of a group of teenagers, having a great time.

So I had a lot of good reasons to go to the corn maze with my YSA ward. But those same fears I had as a teenager were still there: I would have to show up alone and sneak into a group. There would be three solid hours of socializing. No one would understand my sense of humor, and I'd spend the whole time wishing one of my sisters was with me.

It didn't matter that I knew the activity would be fun. It didn't matter that I've been longing to revisit a corn maze for years. It was still a social activity with people I hadn't cliqued with yet—my instincts were screaming at me to stay home and crochet instead.

But this time, the need for something different—even if it was uncomfortable—won out. And the payoff was better than it usually is—I planted a few seeds for new friendships, saw the stars and some wicked awesome pumpkin carvings, and burned my tongue on 7-11 hot chocolate. (Completely worth it, in my opinion.)

It's another good corn maze memory to add to my journal. But the euphoric feeling I had when I went to bed that night—knowing that I took a risk, which paid off—that's what I'll remember most.

This blog challenge may have been what tipped the scales for this particular battle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bold obedience

Shannan's post from yesterday got me thinking about rebellious boldness versus obedient boldness. Judging by my actions, I think most people would classify me as obedient, but I've always been more of a rebel at heart. Especially as a teenager, I got a thrill from toeing the line a little and watching people's shocked but awed reactions. I've often admired those who break the rules more than those who always do what they're told.

But obedience is something to be admired, as well. It's crucial for soldiers to follow orders in battle, even if they don't fully understand or agree with them. It's a required skill if you want to keep your job, stay out of jail, and earn the trust of your superiors.

Despite this, the cool factor of obedience isn't nearly as high as rebellion. Some would even argue that to obey is weak—that by doing someone else's will, you're diminishing your own agency.

That might be true if obedience were always easy, but it's not. It's hard to obey rules you don't understand. It's hard to obey the counsel of your leaders when no one else does. It's hard to obey when you stick out like a sore thumb if you do so.

Obedience requires humility and strength of character—humility to accept that someone else understands the bigger picture better than you do, and the strength of character to withstand the ridicule that often comes with choosing the less cool option. It's not the flashy, exciting kind of boldness, but it requires bravery all the same.

This is part of a 31-day series on bold living. The index is still here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Guest post: The bold outlaw

Are you tired of me talking all the time? Would you like to get someone else's perspective on that word? I sure would.

So I've asked my sister Shannan to write a guest post for me. She blogs at A Creator's Heart.

The Bold Outlaw

I don’t think a series on “Boldness” would be complete without at least one mention of Robin Hood. I mean, he is the Bold Outlaw (that’s a real title, I kid you not). So I’m really excited that Angie’s letting me write a guest post on this series as I am more than a little obsessed with the legend.

Stephen Knight describes Robin Hood’s boldness in his “mythic biography” of the man as, “physical and ethical courage and success in his encounters with strong, oppressive enemies.” So not only does he have the courage to stand up for what’s right, but he has the physical strength to do it and he’s even successful! Also, can I just say that his boldness combined with his crazy skill at archery makes him seem a lot like a super hero?

But I digress. The point is that Robin Hood exemplified bold living in everything he did. When Robin and his gang robbed people, they didn’t just take their stuff and be done. Before robbing the guy, they’d actually blindfold him, take him to their camp, and feed him a kingly feast. Afterwards they’d “ask” for payment, only taking all the money if the dude lied about how much he had (I should point out here that these details I’m drawing from the original Robin Hood ballads from which the legend stems). When Robin opposed the sheriff, he was always sure to thoroughly embarrass him before he escaped. Nothing Robin did was subtle. He was extravagant in his rebellion and no one could be in any doubt of what he stood for.

His way or rebellion wasn’t the only thing that made him bold. Look at his chosen enemies: Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy of Gisbourne (a freaky assassin in the original tale), and pretty much all men of the cloth (excluding Friar Tuck, of course). These are powerful, dangerous men who had the resources to make Robin really suffer without punishment. That’s why he was outlawed. The life of an outlaw is romanticized through Robin Hood, but imagine for a moment what it would be like to be considered no better than a wolf - evil, and anyone can slaughter them and be rewarded. That’s not exactly a life of luxury. Despite that, Robin made his life in Sherwood worthwhile and wonderful and kept pressing forward with never a worry about what the men of power might do to him.

Robin Hood is bold because he didn’t hide. True, he had to stay out of reach of foresters and soldiers, but he usually outright robbed all those guys, and everyone knew he lived in Sherwood. In a world of corrupt government and religious leaders, Robin never faltered in his opposition to them and he didn’t worry about all of them knowing it. He even maintained a loyalty to King Richard - a king that most the people didn’t believe in anymore (although, it should be said that Robin Hood tales were originally set during King Henry’s reign, not Richard’s. But whoever the King, Robin was always loyal).

I think the boldness of Robin Hood is what makes him so enduring. In this world of shifting values, distrust, and cowardice, people want to believe in someone who will stand up for the right thing no matter what. That’s why super hero movies are so popular these days. Would that we could all be bold enough to never hide what we believe and feel.

If you're wondering why Robin Hood was excluded from my Bold Literary Characters list, it's because he's not strictly literary. And I haven't actually read any books about Robin Hood. This must be fixed.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Practicing what you preach

When I started this project, my biggest worry was that I would say everything I wanted to say by October 15, and then I'd be desperately grasping for publishable ideas for the rest of the month.

So it didn't surprise me that I spent all day today racking my brains, seizing on everything that was said during church and trying to spin it into a blog post. Sometimes that works, but today it didn't.

I've found that when I'm suffering from writer's block, it's usually because I'm not living enough. Life has so much inspiration to offer, but it's difficult to recognize that when you're not living to the best of your ability.

Most of what I've had to say about boldness so far comes from thoughts I've had throughout the year as I've tried to live more boldly, but I haven't had much experience to draw from in that area this month. Oh sure, I've had a lot of good excuses. Work has been exhausting. Past attempts at boldness didn't work out the way I wanted them to. I'm tired of doing everything on my own.

But I think I'm ready to practice what I've been writing about for the last 12 days. It takes work to live a life worth writing about, but I made a commitment to see this challenge through. And who knows—maybe it'll take me someplace unexpected.

This list still has more empty spots than filled ones, because October still isn't halfway over yet. Rude.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Missionary friends

When I go on my walks, I'm rarely in people mode. I pay attention to the audio coming from my iPod and whatever season we're being blessed with at the time, but I ignore people as much as possible. Occasionally an outgoing child will tag along and strike up a conversation until I walk out of their radius, and ward members will stop and wave from time to time, but usually I get what I set out to get: an hour of me time.

However, there is one group of people who don't let my headphones and averted eyes stop them from approaching me: missionaries. I've met many missionaries on my walks. Elders who look younger every time I see them. Smiling sisters. Senior couples who seem to be at complete peace with the world.

I'm not always eager to stop and make chit-chat, but I'm always glad they made me stop anyway. Even though they find out right away I'm LDS, they don't cut our conversation short to go talk to someone who might boost their numbers. They don't even ask me for names of people I know who need to hear the gospel. Their focus is always on me. They find out everything about me they can during those 15-minute conversations, and rather than feel annoyed at their prying like I usually would, I am deeply appreciative that they were bold enough to reach out and remind me that God will pour out his love for me in any way he can.

It's missionaries who truly capitalize on bold living.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What I wish everyone knew about formatting text

  • The underline is so 1980s.
  • As in, there's no place for it.
  • Seriously, don't underline text.
  • If you need to emphasize something, use bold or italics.
  • Never use both, like this.
  • All-caps are okay, but only in very small doses.
  • If you do this, you'll just look excessively ridiculous. 
  • And then people will mock you on their blogs.
The author realizes it's a bit of a stretch to include a post on formatting in a series dedicated to boldness. But it's Friday. You understand.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bold literary characters

Sirius Black, from Harry Potter. Sirius is a tricky character to classify. On the one hand, teenage Sirius was at the top of his game: he had popularity, good looks, and smarts. But post-Azkaban Sirius—the version of him we spend the most time with—is a shell of the person he used to be. But he still retains that bold streak. As a teenager, he had the nerve to defy centuries of family Slytherin-ness, and as an adult he continued to live by his mantra, "What's life without a little bit of risk?" That's why his story is so tragic to me—not only does he take the fall for his best friend's murder, but then he has to spend his "freedom" cooped up at home, away from the action. For a person with Sirius's temperament, that had to be almost as bad as rotting away in Azkaban with soul-sucking Dementors.

Ella, from Ella Enchanted. Ella may be cursed with obedience, but she takes what control she can and performs every command her way. With snark, if she can manage it.

Egwene Al'Vere, from The Wheel of Time. There are plenty of bossy women in The Wheel of Time series, Egwene among them. But she rises to power not because she is fond of telling the boys what to do, but because she can see what needs to be done—and then she does it. She doesn't let youth and tradition hold her back, which is why her leadership is so desperately needed among the Aes Sedai pinheads.

Kelsier, from Mistborn. I think Kelsier and Sirius would get along. They would probably leave worlds of destruction in their paths, though. Like Sirius, Kelsier has gone through some horrible things, but he is able to channel his recklessness into a brilliant and suicidal revolution. It takes a special kind of person to even attempt to beat such odds.

Athos, from The Three Musketeers. One of the only parts of the book I actually liked was when Athos single-handedly took on an entire army and walked away unscathed. He is by far the best musketeer, especially if you're going by the book.

Rachel Lynde, from Anne of Green Gables. Being bold enough to always speak your mind isn't exactly a good thing. But most of the time, I like Rachel anyway.

Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice. Women have come far since Jane Austen's day, but Elizabeth's strength in spite of society's limitations are still inspiring.

Gale, from The Hunger Games. Katniss fought because she had to, but Gale fought because he wanted to. One isn't necessarily better than the other, but Gale's way is more bold because he wanted to fight even before he was thrust into a revolution.

Bilbo Baggins, from The Hobbit. Bilbo did what no respectable hobbit would do—he had adventures.

And clearly, I read a lot of fantasy. What characters jump to your mind when you think of boldness?

Perhaps this index will help inspire you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When boldness isn't the answer

I've talked a lot about the virtues of boldness, but it also has a dark side. Too much boldness can lead to recklessness and burnout at the very least.

In Alma 38:12, Alma the Younger counsels his son Shiblon to "use boldness, but not overbearance." By way of background, Shiblon was the the quintessential middle child: not as popular as Helaman, not as rebellious as Corianton. His dominant trait was his steadiness in his beliefs and faith in God.

One of the overarching themes in The Book of Mormon is "moderation in all things," which is exactly what Alma is teaching Shiblon here. Boldness is good, but it shouldn't dictate how you do everything. A daily dose of boldness won't do any harm, as long as you remember that some things need to be done gently.

Here's an index outlining situations in which boldness is the answer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Boldness in creativity

Those in the business of creating—writers, artists, musicians, chefs, seamstresses, carpenters, graphic designers, to name a few—know their work requires a dash of boldness. Otherwise, their creations will never be more than a vague picture in their heads.

That's because to create—and to share your creations with others—is to face your fears. Every creation uses part of your soul for its foundation, and it's very difficult to let others see something so personal. What if they don't like it? What if they don't understand what you're trying to accomplish? And worse of all, what if they mock you for trying?

As a writer/editor combo, I am constantly aware of how others are picking apart my words. I worry about being too preachy, too vague, too naive. It's tempting to remove all vestiges of my personality in an attempt to write something that offends no one and garners no disagreements. But who wants to read something that bland?

Which is why boldness is essential to creativity. However you use your creative powers, you have to be willing to take risks. To create something people won't like. To create something no one has seen before. It's only when you create something truly meaningful to you that it will be meaningful to someone else—and you can only accomplish that by stretching outside your comfort zone.

The index is almost long enough to be a real index.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Choosing to live boldly

I'm having trouble writing a post today. My excuse? I'm tired. Lame excuse, I know. But I'm pretty sure it's harder to write about something that involves energy when you don't have any to spare.

Which got me thinking: is it possible to have a bold day if you can't summon a little bit of flamboyance? Can you live boldly when you're short on sleep, have a headache, or want to hide in a cave for a couple of months?

In my current state of tiredness, I feel 90 percent justified in saying no, it's not worth it, try again tomorrow. But I also know that it's easy to live a certain way when conditions are ideal; it's when conditions throw you through a loop that truly test your character.

This doesn't mean you're a failure if you come up short. That sort of thing is just going to happen, and nothing useful will come out of beating yourself up over it. But I think there's a lot to be gained if you incorporate boldness into your life even on days it feels like too much.

The other posts are here. There will be a quiz at the end of the month.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Boldly defend temple standards

Religion is a major piece of our world's history. During most of the time humans have inhabited the earth, they were believers. Beliefs changed and evolved, but people for the most part shared the same moral code.

That's not the world we live in today. In a very short amount of time, we went from being people who believed first to those who doubted first. The moral code that worked for centuries is now considered archaic and restraining.

This is a topic general authorities have addressed for years, especially lately with the Ordain Women movement and the ongoing fight for the legalization of gay marriage. As other organizations and religious groups have one by one lowered their standards to give the world what it demanded, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has boldly stuck to the standards the Lord has set.

Because that's the way we have to live our religion now: boldly. There are a legion of factors waiting to turn our beliefs into an unrecognizable mess—we can't afford to live our religion timidly or casually. To stand firm in a world that cares more about political correctness than the God who is in charge of it requires courage. In a world that elevates relativity in the place of absolute truths, we must be willing to go against the grain.

As Lynn C. Robbins said this morning, we must "boldly defend temple standards." The Church doesn't need to be defended—it will prosper without us—but we need to defend the Church. Everything that's worth having must be protected, even our testimonies.

Click here for more on bold living.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The bold apostle: Elder Holland

Elder Holland's talks are consistently among my favorites. I always feel a little cheated when he speaks in the priesthood session instead of one of the general sessions. Good thing that didn't happen this year.

It wasn't a hard decision to feature Elder Holland in this series on boldness. (The only other apostle I considered was Elder Oaks, whose "Thou shalt not hang out" talk of 2006 still rings in young single adult's ears.) He's not afraid to call us to repentance, to broach uncomfortable subjects, or to bear his testimony to a sea of doubters. He continuously makes me want to cheer, while forcing me to confront my weaknesses at the same time.

It's hard not to imagine such a powerful speaker as being powerful in stature, as well. 

About 10 years ago, Elder Holland presided at our stake conference. Between the only stake president I could remember being replaced by our old bishop and Elder Holland's appearance in little ol' Payson, that meeting was the most memorable stake conference I ever attended.

In typical Elder Holland fashion, he bluntly told the youth of the congregation that we weren't smart enough to make all of our own decisions. I wasn't the only teenager who looked around uncomfortably when he commanded us to trust our parents and leaders because they knew what's best for us.

But he didn't spend his whole time yelling at us, as one of my seminary classmates complained about the next day. He also introduced us to a novel concept (novel to me, anyway): love is multiplied, not divided. I'd like to blame my teenage-girl mindset for my surprise and awe at this statement; I had a hard time picturing someone acquiring a new best friend without shafting the former best friend. I loved my favorite people fiercely, but there was a part of me that thought I had a finite capacity for love. I didn't want to spread myself too thin. 

Even now, I have to remind myself that love isn't like a cube of butter, capable of enriching the taste of only 12 pieces of toast before running out. Love is its own miracle; it increases the more you use it.

After the meeting, Dad escorted his wife and five shy children to meet Elder Holland. I was torn between wanting to slink out unnoticed and wanting to meet my favorite general authority. 

When we finally made it to the front of the room, I was a little disappointed by how old and frail he looked. Here was a guy who could make people cower with his words, and he was shorter than me. He didn't even have a firm handshake (I suspect he was trying to preserve his energy). But when he looked me in the eye and thanked me for coming, I saw the boldness he lacked in his handshake burning in his pale blue eyes.

So when Elder Holland speaks, I shut up and listen.

The index is still here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why boldness, and not bravery?

As discussed yesterday, boldness is often synonymous with bravery. I debated over which word to focus on for this series, over whether it even mattered since the words are so similar, but in the end I decided to focus solely on boldness.

For starters, bold is a slightly more subtle word than brave (oh, the irony), and subtlety generally means there are more layers to unfold. We all know what bravery is, but we don't often hear about boldness as a virtue (or a vice, as I'll talk about later).

Bravery is a state of being. To be brave is to act despite your fears. Boldness, on the other hand, is how you perform an action. It's the difference between walking a tightrope just to get to the other side and walking across with a bit of flair—arm twirling, flips, crazy stuff like that.

To use a Star Trek example (Shannan, I want you to forget this ever happened), the motto of the show is "To boldly go where no man has gone before." (To clarify, I know this only because my editing classes always used it as an example of the split infinitive—I don't actually watch Star Trek. Unless Chris Pine is starring, of course.) Their goal isn't simply to discover new worlds, travel at unheard-of speeds, or do whatever it is those trekkies do. It's to do all these things with style.

Kind of like in Harry Potter, when Phineas Nigellus says, "You know Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts, but you cannot deny he's got style." (Now that I've countered my Star Trek example with a Harry Potter one, I feel much more like myself.)

In short, bold living isn't just about the things you do. It's about how you do them. The way you live your life is just as important as what you do with it.

The other posts in this series are available here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Boldness defined

There are a surprising number of definitions for "bold." Some have to do with danger, like these:
  1. Fearless before danger.
  2. Showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit.
Others portray it as a slightly negative quality, like these:
  1. Not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; impudent.
  2. Striking or conspicuous to the eye; flashy, showy. 
And still others connect boldness to creativity:
  1. Beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.
  2. Adventurous, free.
I'd like to add my own definition, as well:
  1. An action that is unexpected or slightly out of character.
As you can see, there are many different sides of this word, many ways you can live boldly. I'll be delving into the different aspects of boldness for the rest of the month, so stay tuned.

In case your memory is exceedingly short, here is the index to all the posts in this series.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Introducing: 31 days of bold living

So, there's this blogging challenge called 31 Days. Its premise is simple: to blog every day in October about one topic. I first heard about this last year when someone whose blog I follow decided to take on the challenge. I really enjoyed reading her posts, but I was a little too intimidated by the scope of the project to do it myself. How do you find 31 different things to say about one topic without being boring? What if you're busy, or don't have the stamina to give it the effort it deserves?

I'm still intimidated by the scope of this challenge. My enthusiasm for this idea has flip-flopped several times. And October will probably be another busy month at work, making it difficult to eke out posts during work hours. (But if October is as insane as September was, I will cry.)

But I've decided to just do it, if for no other reason than it's time I did something bold with my writing.

So that's what I'll be writing about for the next 31 days: boldness. (I did cheat a little, though, and started writing these posts in mid-September.) I'm pretty excited to get started; I hope it lasts.