byu, each life that touches ours, realizations

Dear Provo, I miss you.

A year and a half-ish ago, while visiting my sister in a city that is not Provo, Utah, I posted the following to my Instagram:

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I was in this funny state of in-betweenness.  I had an apartment in Provo and classes in the fall and a job and roommates and my best friend (when she wasn’t abroad, bless her wanderlust spirit).  But I also had this feeling that I was leaving Provo, at least for a while.  I was headed home, and that was unexpected and scary and humbling but so, so right.

So I post this thing and I don’t think much of it–because it really is a joke.  I mean, Provo is fabs, but some of it is so tough.  The comparison.  The vanity.  The sheer…pressure of it all.  Some of that is self-inflicted, sure, but I wasn’t alone in that.

When I left Provo I knew I’d miss the people, and the Chick-fil-a (bless the Chick-fil-a’s of Utah County, esp those on Bulldog Blvd and in the Wilk), and the Swig, but I never thought I’d miss the place.  I left quickly.  I didn’t really give myself time to think about it.

But now I know what I miss: I miss the In-N-Out runs at midnight.  I miss the Payson Temple.  I miss Zupa’s.  I miss the Provo Temple, and the Provo City Center Temple.  I miss the vending machine bagel sandwiches.  I miss the JFSB courtyard–the prettiest place in any season.  I miss the Maesar, and Karl–oh, Karl!! I miss J Dawg’s and the engineering building that I can’t remember the name of (the Clyde, maybe?  The one with the tiny women’s restroom that was so difficult to find?).  I miss the language lab on the second floor of the JKB, where you hear Mandarin, Arabic, and German spoken at tables right next to each other.  And oh, international cinema!  What a delight.  And Art After Dark!  So many great things.

I still feel myself to be a Cougar, true blue through and through, even though I won’t graduate from BYU (but hey, catch me in Laie on December 15th, won’t ya?).  I still feel that way because for so long, BYU meant everything to me.  (Even though I said forever that I had NO INTEREST in going to BYU.  Even though I visited other schools and had never stepped foot in Utah until two weeks before the start of freshman year.  Even though I complained about the weather and the lack of good chicken katsu.)  BYU and Provo encompassed so much.  They meant so much.  Provo brought me some of my dearest, and truest, friends.  Provo expanded my love of learning.  Provo sent me on my mission, and my mission more or less saved me.

BYU-Hawai’i has meant everything to me.  If Provo sent me on my mission, it’s my mission that sent me here.  And being here has been the greatest blessing (check out any and all of my social media posts from the past year to see/hear overflowing, gushing expressions of gratitude for all that this plot-twist life experience has been).  But I just want Provo to know:

 

You were my first love.

So have a good school year, BYU.  I still love you tons.  After all this time, always.

 

 

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each life that touches ours

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.

 

each life that touches ours

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.

byu, each life that touches ours

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.

 

byu, each life that touches ours, literature i love

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.