Saturday, December 3, 2011

100 Things I'm Grateful For

For my Mind, Body, Health class, we got the extra credit assignment to write a list of 100 things that we're grateful for. I've actually loved doing this!  After getting stuck around about item 47, I really had to think, subdivide, and google: "list of things I'm grateful for."  By the end, I really was feeling super grateful for all that I have, and I came out with over 100 things that I needed to pair down.  Here she is:

1.      I’m grateful that we’ve always had just enough money to cover our expenses when they come due, even if we don’t know where it came from.
2.      I’m grateful that I have excellent health despite all of the trans fats I’ve consumed via Totino’s pizzas
3.      I’m grateful that I can move! It feels great to get out of my bed, walk, and dance
4.      I’m grateful that I attend one of the most prestigious schools in the Nation and pay a pittance for admission
5.      I’m grateful that most of our tuition is paid for by the government and generous donors through Scholarships and Grants
6.      I’m grateful for the positive, uplifting, academic atmosphere at BYU
7.      I’m grateful that I get to wake up to my best friend each day
8.      I’m grateful that my husband fuels my desire to become the best version of myself
9.      I’m grateful that I am a child of God who was righteous enough to be sent to Earth at this day and age to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ
10.  I’m grateful that I know I have divinity within me and the potential to become like God.
11.  I’m grateful that I get to take classes I love and chose my major
12.  I’m grateful that I got married young before I became stubborn and set in my ways, and while I’m still malleable
13.  I’m grateful that we have a temple five minutes from our apartment
14.  I’m grateful that I am a fabulous cook.
15.  I’m grateful that our cupboards are always at least partly full, which I can’t say for at least 30% of the world
16.  I’m grateful that my job allows me to eat delicious food for free after catering events
17.  I’m grateful that I took a weight lifting class in high school and now know how to use the equipment in the weights room
18.  I’m grateful that I went through a long awkward phase so I wasn’t tempted by vanity or physical temptations when I was young
19.  I’m grateful that I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which provides me with a curriculum to become perfect and gain exaltation. 
20.  I’m grateful that I live in one of the richest nations in the world.  I have a roof over my head, heating and air conditioning, a car to drive, an education, and adequate food. 
21.  I’m grateful that I don’t live in fear of the government or my safety
22.  I’m grateful that my body reminds me each month that it’s healthy enough to get pregnant and carry a baby
23.  I’m grateful that I can read and have gained so much knowledge throughout my life
24.  I’m grateful that my parents raised me in a home full of acceptance, guidance, good morals, fun activities, strong religious convictions, and love. 
25.  I’m grateful that my parents are still married
26.  I’m grateful that my parents have taught me by example how to live a healthy, happy lifestyle
27.  I’m grateful that the Savior atoned for me such that the sins I repented of are washed away.  I have a clean slate
28.  I’m grateful that I have no allergies, diseases, viruses, and have had no broken bones.
29.  I’m grateful that if I wore a different item of each type of clothing each day (i.e. pants + shirt + shoes), I would not cycle through them all in a one month period
30.  I’m grateful that we have technology at our fingertips.  I can talk to people around the world, learn what the greats knew, etc.
31.  I’m grateful that I’m not addicted to anything (pornography, drugs, alcohol, depressing thoughts, nicotine, swearing).  Love is my only drug.
32.  I’m grateful that I have positive self esteem and really regard myself as capable, talented, productive, and beautiful
33.  I’m grateful that I can clearly see my weaknesses and derive pleasure from the challenge of making them into strengths.  I think about things I would love to improve each day automatically
34.  I’m grateful that I can play the piano, violin, guitar, and sing
35.  I’m grateful that I have a calling at church that allows me to help others, feel important and needed, and have a place in the world. 
36.  I’m grateful that for the most part, I have good habits
37.  I’m grateful for death, because it makes life so much more meaningful
38.  I’m grateful that life is so much easier now than it was hundreds of years ago.
39.  I’m grateful I got to go to Japan in high school.  I learned to see the world as a much larger place, to respect another culture and to interact with people and form friendships that spanned beyond a language barrier.  It helped my confidence and maturity grow immensely.
40.  I’m grateful I speak English, which allows me to converse with people of other countries and them to converse with me.
41.  I’m grateful that I don’t have to make all my food from scratch but that I can.
42.  I’m grateful for modern science and medicine
43.  I’m grateful that I’m good at most things I try right off the bat (not to brag, only to say that it’s a blessing to have many interests, talents, and hobbies).  These talents include an artistic eye and hand, talent in rock climbing and other individual sports, and in music.
44.  I’m grateful that I grew up in beautiful Colorado where my family spent quality time together in the outdoors hunting, rock climbing, hiking, camping, 4-wheeling, and biking.  I now love the outdoors and appreciate the beauty and serenity found in nature. 
45.  I’m grateful that my best friend’s mother taught me lessons I needed to hear from an adult other than my own parents when I was going through a tough growing experience in high school.  She helped my self-worth increase and was candid with me about important issues. 
46.  I’m grateful that my best friend taught me patience, that you can’t control anyone, and that relationships are as strong as you make them.
47.  Growing up, my family was very close to my extended family.  I developed close knit relationships with my cousins and they have been such a support to me while we’ve all been here at BYU.  My aunts and uncles and grandparents also welcome us for dinners, game nights, and fun, which have been a blessing to me as my immediate family lives 8 hours away.
48.  My dad was layed off for a time while I was living at home.  My mom had food storage and savings that helped us survive and taught me the power of budgeting, optimism, paying tithing, and service.  It made me heartier as a person and less dependent on external things for happiness.
49.  I’m grateful I’ve had so many positive influences over the years including my parents, Young Woman’s leaders, grandparents, aunts and uncles, mentors, friends, dates, teachers, etc.
50.  I’m grateful that I have a marvelous, gorgeous wedding band that reminds me of covenants I’ve made and what a great husband I have for forever
51.  I’m grateful to have chosen the wrong decision at times and learned from my mistakes
52.  I’m grateful that I am self reliant. I don’t depend on my parents, the church, or the government for funding. 
53.  I’m grateful that I know most of the skills necessary to be a contributing adult in this society.
54.  I’m grateful that my husband is patient with me even though I know he knows my weaknesses
55.  I’m grateful for those “Ah-ha!” moments that have been so important to my personal growth over the years.
56.  I’m grateful that we got enough money and gifts from our wedding to furnish our apartment and decorate it so that it is cute and comfortable.  I love feeling the spirit when I come home.
57.  I’m grateful that my husband and I got sealed in the SLC Temple for time and eternity.  We will not be separated by death and can continue to progress after this life. 
58.  I’m grateful that when I’ve relied on the Lord and focused outside myself, I’ve succeeded, and when I haven’t, I’ve failed.
59.  I’m grateful that I can recognize right and wrong and truth
60.  I’m grateful that my Mom taught me how to drive a standard ("stick-shift"), which is the only car I’ve ever owned
61.  I’m grateful that I worked during high school, which helped me to learn that things aren’t handed out, the value of hard work, saving versus spending, delaying gratification, and responsibility and integrity.
62.  I’m grateful that my parents used to take me and my siblings to sing for elderly and sick patients, shovel the driveway for the neighbors, etc. which taught me how to serve with a smile
63.  I’m grateful to have a sense of humor that fills life with fun and meaning and optimism
64.  I’m grateful to have neuromuscular control over my limbs
65.  I’m grateful that I’ve made the right decision many times
66.  I’m grateful that I have a good physique genetically
67.  I’m grateful I have hot water to bathe in, that comes out of a faucet
68.  My major is Communication Disorders.  I often hear of all the things that can go wrong; a person has their larynx removed, they have a sensorineural hearing loss, etc.  I am grateful I can speak and that I have a good vocal quality; that I have pretty good pitch and can sing; that I can hear what others are saying without hearing aids; that I can listen to and appreciate music.
69.  I’m grateful my father worked hard to provide us with the necessities
70.  I’m grateful my parents still pay for my phone bill and like to help my husband and I out with little gifts in the mail
71.  I’m grateful my husband is applying to medical school to provide us with the money to have lots of children
72.  I’m grateful that my husband is smart but that he’s devoted and applied himself to his studies and as a result is driven, intelligent, and he knows where he is going in life.
73.  I’m grateful that Mike and I could attend a financial planning seminar.  We’ve since created a budget so we can pay off debt and put money in savings.  I’m grateful for the chance to be financially stable.
74.  I’m grateful that I have my independence.  The movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly shows a man who through disability loses all motor function besides blinking his eyes.  I’m grateful I can go to the bathroom, eat, drink, walk, communicate my needs, and get out of bed by myself
75.  I’m grateful that we live in Utah valley and are surrounded with people who are driven, excited about learning, spiritual, family-minded, charitable, and great examples to us
76.  I’m grateful that we have gone on so many fun dates and still do so
77.  I’m grateful that I have a job and get along with the people I work with
78.  I’m grateful that I know that the most worthwhile things take time, and that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
79.  I’m grateful that I realize that there’s never been an issue at work or at home that doesn’t resolve itself.  I’ve learned that if I’m doing what’s right, I just sit back and know the Lord is on my side, even when things may seem unfair or others are in the wrong. I know that God is Just and while I can’t control others, I can control myself
80.  I’m grateful that people look up to me.  I’ve been able, through my actions to be a positive example to my cousins, nonmember friends, and my siblings. 
81.  I’m grateful that I didn’t have to experience the heartache that comes from serious mistakes, and although I did some stupid things when I was younger, the Lord was able to re-direct my path.  I’m in the best situation I could ever hope for, and it’s a miracle I got to this place.
82.  I’m grateful that there are miracles everyday
83.  I’m grateful that although I have no sense of physical direction, I’ve never been seriously lost
84.  I’m grateful that the world is a beautiful
85.  I’m grateful that my teeth are healthy now.  We went through a time where I had to get two root canals and crowns, and four fillings.  Now I have nightmares of all my teeth sequentially falling out and I wake up grateful that they are intact
86.  I’m grateful that my mom read to me as a child.  I now love books
87.  I’m grateful that the Lord has given us the scriptures and still speaks to me today through his prophets.
88.  I’m grateful that I own my own computer and have blog full of our fun memories
89.  I’m grateful I keep a journal that will someday be precious to me and my children
90.  I’m grateful that I’m a good, satirical writer
91.  I’m grateful that I connect well to my in-laws and value spending time with them
92.  I’m grateful that I own household cleaning supplies and use them
93.  I’m grateful that I live in a relatively peaceful area while the world is at war
94.  I’m grateful that I live in a society where I’m free to chose my occupation
95.  I’m grateful that I live in a society where women are encouraged to gain an education
96.  I’m grateful that I have so much free time
97.  I’m grateful I live in a society where I am free to chose who I associate with and marry
98.  I’m grateful that if I got sick, we would have adequate insurance to cover any expenses
99.  I’m grateful that I know that I can feel whole and happy independent of my situation, hardships, others, or despite limited relationships
100.   I’m grateful there are good people in this world

When Mike was on his mission, he started a tradition of writing, in red ink, one things he was grateful for each day in his journal.  I think that the more you write these things down, the more they easily come to mind, and the more grateful you feel for them.  I also think that one important lesson we all need to learn is to attribute our blessings to God, and to realize that whatever our strengths, talents, life situation, etc, they all are given to us. That's what I learned from this assignment.  I'd like to make the goal of having more things that I'm grateful for than things that I'm concerned about throughout each day. 
This begs the question, what are you grateful for?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Loving That Mountain Air

Due to much anticipation (and a general amount of misarticulations) from the fam, Mike and I would like to officially broadcast some good news concerning his "amcast" or "MCats test" score.  Since officially taking on a six-to-eleven overtime job known as "Studying for The MCAT," Mike and I have been anxiously awaiting the day when we can blog, work out again, and begin new episodes of The Office (Since I'm not sure what MLA regulations are for italics and quotations, I'll just alternate them between titles).  My friends, the long-awaited day of reckoning is here.  It is the news I shared in Relief Society 'good-news minute', two of my classes, and to all of the folks back home via the miracle of cell phones.  Mike got his MCAT score back....and it's good enough.  No no, it's great.  I must here downplay my excitement I've worked so hard to build; I would hate for anyone to get the impression that we're bragging or compare themselves to us.  But what I mean is that his score is definitely 'good enough' to get us in, somewhere, to some medical school.  He's worked so hard, and because of it, we've been so blessed!

As a result of this relief, as I may or may not have mentioned, we've been able to go camping!  For our one year anniversary, Mike and I made the drive out to Bryce Canyon: home of the clean mountain air, towering red hoodoos, and imaginary-or-not forest bears.  (I can't bear the thought of it! = bad pun).

The weather was perfect (hot in the morning, then rain showers in the afternoon), and we got to hike and explore all day, then come back to our tent site and cook dinner, s'mores, and rice-crispy-treats at night.  Our campground, Red Canyon, was only 15 minutes outside of the park and nestled next to some quaint formations.  It was an absolutely gorgeous four day mini vacation.

Day 1: I was overjoyed to get settled in, as you can see in this picture, and despite a little sky perspiration, we started to make pita pizzas for a cozy dinner.

Day 2: We made the 15 minute drive into the park, which we were told was actually much less packed than previous weeks.  I think we were one of maybe five American families in Bryce that weekend...
Mike commented on how nice all of the Europeans in the park smelled as they passed by in their brand new, state-of-the-art gear and ounces of perfume.  Yeah, they might have turned up their noses at us squalid peasant folk in our ruddy jeans and unkempt hair, but this is our country. They can have their socialist health care, bad teeth, nickers, and 'Harry Potter' (but lets face it, where would my generation be without 'Harry Potter'?  It's the one good thing to come out of Europe besides America).

Here we made our descent into the canyon.  In Bryce, you start at the highest elevation and hike down through trails flanked by towering red rocks.  Our favorite route was hiking half of the Navajo Loop trail down to the figure-eight of Peekaboo Loop, then back up the other side of Navajo.  We didn't get to explore Queen Victoria til the next day, but it really nice to do the most extensive and most beautiful trails on the first day.

These amazing trees appeared to have been there for centuries; clinging to a sheer rock foundation and worn smooth from the elements.  

Just huggin a tree

This tree could have been polished with a fine sandpaper and rubbed with olive oil for all we knew.  It felt so smooth!

We hiked a gorgeous path along these rocks 

This is Mike's "I made these" pose.  He is master of the rocks.

Where are we?  I don't know.
The tourists put this massive wall into perspective.  It was a behemoth of ancient, drippy rock.

After a brief nap at camp until the rain stopped, we drove across the street and explored a little on foot at dusk.
This is what I will look like as a pregnant lady...and this is what Mike will do to show off my belly.
We met Bob the photographer, who took some great shots of us on the cliff edge, and was just a really genuine man.  We made a connection and everywhere we went in the park that day we seemed to cross paths. 

This little fella looked right at us and posed in different positions for 10 minutes as he waited for a morsel of our bagel. I admire his spunk.  That takes patience. 

On the last night of our trip, we were making rice-crispy-treats in camp and telling stories to each other when suddenly, we heard a rustling in the bush.  Wheeling my flashlight from East to West, I saw nothing, but as Mike started a story again, he heard the noise too, this time coming from behind us.  We waited, each second getting more and more tense and my heart beating louder in my chest.  Finally, as I heard a grunt about 3 feet away, we didn't wait for a confirmation that it was the animal of our imaginations. Turning to each other and shining the light, we too yelled and grunted, backing up all the while until, safe in our car, we drove.  That night, freaked out of our skin and with a spiritual prompting not to sleep at out campsite, we bedded under the neon sign of a Texico Station just five minutes outside of the park, with only a burlap bag, my sweater, and a couple of ponchos to keep us warm.  We were so scared we didn't sleep much anyways that night, but what an adventure it was!  We woke early enough to catch the dregs of the sunrise on our last day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Two Successes, a Cake, and a Flop

I've been working on these two pieces for a while, and I think they may be done!
I did this watercolor using the huge storm outside as kind of my inspiration.  I applied the paint with a dropper and used string, cups, and books placed in the wet paint to shape the droplets and make it interesting.
Here's an experiment in negative space organic shapes and paper materials
    Did I mention that over the family Reunion Mike and I celebrated our one year anniversary?  Congrats to us; for on this auspicious occasion, we once again got to partake of our fun-fetti and raspberry wedding cake.  I've had dreams about this moment!  For the past year, every time I've called my mom this cake has been mentioned in an attempt to get her to bring it out (alas, she wouldn't budge because of tradition. I will never make my children suffer thus.)
Imagine my disappointment when my favorite part, the fondant, was freezer-burned beyond repair.  I don't think I will ever recover. (These are all happy "before" photos, by the way)

     So, today marked the beginning of the end of my summer classes; kick-started by "creativity day" in my History class.  Students showcased everything from homemade quilts and pizzas (which somehow applied to the Renaissance) to movies, magazines, sonnets, sculpture, inventions, etc.  My favorite was a facebook profile created for Henry VIII, documenting his many relationship status updates and wall posts. It was hilarious!  The worst was a shoebox full of dirt and army guys featuring "trench warfare of WWII."
     My project fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  I really want to go back in and further edit the hair and face...but for now, this is how it looks.  This is my first attempt at oil painting that incorporates elements from the High Renaissance, Romantic, Classical, Rococo, and Impressionist genres.  Although Mike LOVES this, I think it's absolute crap, and I'm so dissatisfied.  I will try again when I decide to get over my harsh feelings towards this medium.
    Just a hint: this is supposed to vaguely resemble someone who, er, is me.  It's supposed to be a self-portrait and I'm so embarrassed with the way it turned out. Creative idea, but a failure in execution. I guess that's a reflection of the creative eras of history, in a way.  Something about how without so many failures, we would have never had the light-bulb, Picasso's art, the airplane, or Facebook. I'd like to think that this failure is the beginning of a progressive future.