Why I won’t do homework on a sun-day

Before I get started, here is what you should know:

I love school.

No, really, I love it.  I always have.  In fact, the summer before 1st grade, I asked to be in summer school, so every morning my dad would leave “worksheets” on the kitchen table for me to do.  I just love to learn.  I believe that our purpose in life is to learn and grow in order to become like our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  When I learn, I feel myself growing closer to them, and I marvel at this world that was created for us.

But as much as I love school, and as important as it is to me, I also believe in the notion of a sabbath.  That term can mean different things to different people.  For many religious people, including myself, the Sabbath is a day (perhaps sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, perhaps Sunday) to rest from typical labors, worship God, and reconsecrate oneself to Deity.  Certain customs may be observed–part of my personal observance typically includes attending worship services, abstaining from shopping or dining out, and reflecting on my relationship with God through journaling and/or scripture study–all with the intent of regaining focus on what matters most in a busy world.

When I was a junior in high school, I decided to devote myself on the Sabbath hardcore.  Let me rephrase that: I didn’t change my observance, but my circumstances made my observance more difficult.  A typical day went like this:

5:10 am Wake up, get in car for early-morning seminary

5:25 am Arrive at early-morning seminary class (my mom was the teacher, so we were always early)

5:50-6:35 am Early-morning Seminary

6:35 am-6:50 am Travel home

7 am Prepare (Unless I went straight to school from seminary, in which case–homework)

8 am Leave for school

8:30-2:30 pm School (Or was it 2:40? 1:47? Does anyone who went to Moanalua High School understand the bell schedule there? I still don’t.)

2:30-5:00 pm, or maybe 6:00 pm, or maybe 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm Band or orchestra rehearsals, track practice, student association meetings, homecoming practice…who knows what else I ever did

I guess I did homework sometime after that, because I was taking 8 classes (the typical schedule at my school was 6 classes), and two of those were AP classes, and I was the vice president of the student association, and part of the National Honor Society and blahblahblah I WAS BUSY.

I decided to stick, hardcore, to my decision not to do homework on Sundays.  I wanted that day to be for God, and–if we’re being honest–my spiritual immaturity also led me to have a fear that if I didn’t stick with it, God would smite me and I would not get a 4.0 GPA.  Because, you know, He’s like that.  (Not.)

Several months later, I had an ecclesiastical leader make an unsolicited comment to me about the Sabbath and studying.  I was applying to universities at the time, and he reminded me that if I went to a certain one on my list I was likely to encounter many students would not study on Sundays.  I could understand their viewpoint, since it was my own.  But that good bishop reminded me that to learn is to become more like God.  That conversation didn’t lead to me block off my entire Sunday for studying–that felt like an abuse of the day–but it did help me to understand the sacredness with which I ought to regard my schooling.  That conversation is why I can’t stand to do a poor job on an assignment.  I’m not learning to earn a mark; I’m learning to become more like my Father in Heaven.

All this being said, one thing I have learned from my less-than-perfect attempts to keep the Sabbath day holy is the principle of recovery.  Rest.  Replenishing.

In his (phenomenal) book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel H. Pink describes how to “take a sabbath” as a means of regaining mindfulness in our lives:

Select one day a week and remove yourself from the maw.  Stop working.  Don’t answer your email.  Ignore your voice mail. Turn off your mobile phone.  Most Western religions have established a Sabbath–the seventh day of the week–as a time of peace, reflection, and prayer.  Whatever your faith, consider experimenting with the practice.  (And this need not be religious at all.  Secular Sabbaths can be equally re-energizing.)…Sabbaths, however momentary, can be important punctuation marks in busy lives.  (Riverhead Books, 2005).

This principle has helped me to feel calm during hectic semesters because I–the chronic type-A, focused, semi-workaholic student–believe in taking not one, but two days off from homework.  I try to avoid homework on Sundays, and I do the same on Saturdays.  I joke that Saturdays are sacred to me, too.  On Sundays, I worship.  On Saturdays, I play.  Both help me prepare to work and serve and teach and study and collaborate very, very well Monday through Friday.

This was my day yesterday:

8 am Wake up roommates, get ready for the beach

9-11 am BEACH BEACH BEACH followed by (sun)BURN (sun)BURN (sun)BURN

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11 am PLATE LUNCHES OF GLORY from Papa Ole’s (obviously ingested very, very quickly)

12 noon OMG there is a Sodalicious equivalent in Laie?  Prayers of gratitude all around.  (And everyone really should go check out So’Da Bomb–they’re wonderful and couldn’t be more friendly.)

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2 pm Shower, nap, get dressed with no rush

4 pm Meet up with friends at the temple

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6 pm Meet up with friends for sushi

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8:30 pm Continue the delicious food day with homemade ice cream (okay, okay, confession–neither the ice cream nor the plate lunch were ingested quickly…I just thought I’d saved pics of them from my Snapstory…and then I realized I hadn’t…)

10:30 pm Pick up something for the linger longer meal after church tomorrow, chat with a beloved friend

#blessed

12 midnight Go home wicked happy

That’s how I stay afloat each semester.  I believe in working hard, and worshipping hard, and playing hard too.  And I live by the counsel of a modern prophet of God, who said

Pres & Sis Hinckley

In all of living, have much fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.

-Gordon B. Hinckley

 

Happy Sabbath, sweet humans.  Let’s go rock this week.

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When I moved to Hawaii, EVERYONE told me it would be to find my husband.

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Well, joke’s on you ALL because I was literally just featured in the school magazine’s “Eligible Bachelor and Bachelorette” article. (Laugh-cry emoji, I know–I feel the same way.)

But there is a love story I need to tell, especially because it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

To understand this love story, you need to understand that my volunteer mission a couple of years ago–though one of the happiest times of my life–was very hard, and I learned a lot about myself and the world and just, you know, life.  One thing I learned is that I have anxiety.  I don’t think I thought anxiety was a real thing before my mission.  I thought people were just lazy, and that when I felt stressed it was because I was just being lazy or scared or I had procrastinated.  I didn’t think anxiety was real, to be honest.  Then I realized that I had it, and that those times in my life–nervous breakdowns in class over really little things, a convulsing meltdown the week of AP exams junior year, anxious overeating my freshman year of college–were not normal levels of stress.

A few rounds of counseling and other treatment later, things are better.  Generally, I do pretty well and I know what triggers my anxiety and I know how to keep myself in optimal conditions to minimize it.  But some days are still hard, and some days I don’t even realize what is wrong until I’m out of the funk and then it clicks.

Sunday was one of those days.  Nothing was wrong.  I mean, yeah, I was a little congested, and I was running late to church so I hadn’t showered, but nothing was wrong.  I had had a blast the night before with amazing friends.  I felt great about myself.  But something was wrong on Sunday.  I went to the first hour of church (sacrament meeting) and ran into a friend and said, “I think I’m about to split.”  I didn’t say what was really on my mind–“Sunday school is ALWAYS a struggle for me, especially if the teachers do A, B, or C, and it’s linger longer today and that’s just too many strangers for me to deal with, especially of the male variety.”  Instead I said I had a slight cough and I went home.

When I got home two of my roommates were also home (church is really, really close to our house).  They were grabbing cupcakes for the third hour of church, Relief Society.  Keep in mind that these roommates are the leaders of that organization, and there I was, laying on the couch, telling them that no, I wasn’t going back to church today.  They didn’t ask questions.  They just told me they loved me and they hoped I felt better.

I ran to the store for something I’d been out of for a week (not normal Sunday behavior, and I’m not condoning breaking the Sabbath, but this was NOT a normal Sunday) and took a shower.  When I got out of the shower, my roommates were home and had saved me a piece of cake from the class I’d skipped.

I sent a Snap to friends because, hi, their love–spoken and unspoken–meant the world to me.  Like, I ugly-cried on the couch.

Paul told the Corinthians that we’re nothing without charity.  That we can be talented and eloquent and a million other things, but without charity we are nothing.  Marvin J. Ashton asserted,

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.

Now, I’m not perfect at that, but I’m trying to be better.  I think if we look for what we love about people and how to help them, we’re able to see past the motes and beams.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Let’s love each other better.

 

It’s been a minute, but I’ve got a story.

Yesterday my flight took off forty minutes late.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that I only had a fifty-minute layover, and my connection took off ten minutes early (I didn’t even realize taking off early was a thing).  I wasn’t thrilled about taking a later flight, but then all of these things happened:

I got a snack, and the employee discounted my purchase (I paid it forward with her tip).

My yogurt was delicious.

I found a great book and got some candy that I rarely eat but really love.

I got to charge my phone.

When I got on my flight, no one was sitting in the two seats next to me. I had an entire row to myself!

I watched four episodes of a hilarious tv show and had to stop myself from laughing out loud.

The  flight attendant gave me pretzels, cookies, and peanuts.

After a trip away from home, that layover and that flight were delightful introvert recharging time for me.  (I ended up throwing up on the flight–a first–due to some wicked turbulence, but that’s a story for another time.)

When I got home, I took a shower, my dad brought me some Sprite, and I settled into the comfiest pajamas and the comfiest bathrobe and snuggled up under my new Moana blanket.  I fell asleep as the fireworks went off.  It was the best.

 

This reminded me of a pattern in my life.  I (almost always) know what I want, but then I don’t get it, because God has something better in store.  He knows what I need without my even knowing what I need.  I wanted to get home quickly–He knew I needed that layover.  I wanted to be an English major–He knew I’d love teaching.  I wanted to be married at 21–He knew it was not the right time.  I couldn’t see it then, but I am so, so glad that I was not getting married in the midst of what happened the year I was 21. I’m so glad for rescheduled flights, and failed relationships, and promptings to move.  I’m so glad for all of the times I have not gotten what I’ve wanted, because then there has been room for what I’ve needed.

The text came in at 12:05, and I thought it was about work so I answered.

“What are you doing?” the message read.

Within fifteen minutes my friend had picked me up, and within an hour we were at a temple south of here.  It was a beautiful night, but dark (1 am can do that to you) and as we drove back I could just barely make out the Wasatch front lining us on the right.

“The mountains are so pretty,” I said, like everyone says.  They’re what friends from Utah missed most during our mission in Virginia.  But I don’t love the mountains because of their beauty; I love them because of what they represent: fortitude and strength and resilience and thousands of years of growth.  They’re a visual reminder from God of, Look, it’s okay, I’ve got you.  Living in this valley is bit like being cradled in the hand of God.

I feel this is true because I always feel a bit like a baby.  The more I know, the more I need.  And all around me are these people who help me.  I didn’t know them three years ago or even 9 months ago but they feel like angels sent from God.

Maybe that’s part of why I came here in the first place.

After I stayed up until 6:10 am,

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my best friend met me on campus with a Mountain Dew.

Later we met for an early dinner and talked about #thefuture (vague hashtag referring to housing next year, grad school, careers, and what we’ll eat tomorrow).

Still later she gave me advice on how to respond to a friend’s text about a boy, and then offered to bring me Mountain Dew again tomorrow because, as of 1:08 am, I have had 3.6 hours of sleep in the past 24. She is the world’s greatest.

When I’m sad that a romantic relationship hasn’t worked out with whatever boy is currently on my mind, I’m reminded that I’m so blessed to have a best friend like Karisa.

 

These parents of mine

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from Pinterest, naturally

Today I sat in my dad’s office and watched my parents exchange business cards.  One of them had just gotten a new one or something, so they swapped and it was really funny but I didn’t have time to Snapchat it.

I tease my parents a lot: “Remember that time I broke my arm and no one believed me?”

Dad: “Yeah, I think we made you go to your siblings’ soccer game.”

Mom: “I know, I know, we’ve scarred you all…”

All joking aside, they’re great parents, and here’s one thing they did really, really well—they encouraged us all to read.

When I was younger we’d go to the local library all the time. I’d write book reports, sometimes for school, sometimes for fun, about stories I read.  In the summers we’d do the reading programs.  For fun, we went to the movies and dinner and the beach, but more than anything we went to Borders.  Night out to dinner? Definitely going to be a Borders trip afterward.

And this is what they did really, really well with encouraging us to read: whenever anyone was in trouble (e.g. sent to their room, grounded) nothing was allowed except reading.  There was no TV, no music, no phone, no hanging out with friends…but reading was totally kosher.  And that, my dear friends, is how one of my brothers ended up reading this random novel my mom had picked up the previous year but no one had touched yet…which is how we all discovered HARRY POTTER and our lives were forever changed for the better.

So last week I took three finals on Monday and first thing Tuesday morning I went to the library to treat myself.  Picked up a foreign film, two classics, and a book. Because that’s fun to me.  And amidst studying for finals, packing to come home, and now being at home, I’ve been switching between Jon Meacham’s book about the friendship between FDR and Churchill, and a biography about Sandra Day O’Connor, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Now, back in my house, I’m reminded of all of the books I’ve yet to read, just within my own house. I never did finish The American Political Tradition back when I started it as a sixth-grader and learned what “hindsight” meant.  Or Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth.  There are dozens of religious books written by professors I can take classes from at BYU (how cool is that. Three weeks ago I went to a lecture with 300 other people to hear a world-renowned scholar expound on the relationship between understanding the nature of God and understanding the nature of man, and all I could think was, “My mom has books by this guy.”).  And of course, my mother’s nightstand is layered with novels and self-help books and fitness books and all sorts of knowledge.

It took me a long time to realize how good my parents are at fostering a love of learning, but I’m so grateful that they are.