Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three Reflections

Lately, I've been around a friend that I met in Peru, and he is very different from me. This has caused me to reflect on certain lessons that would serve me well to put into practice. They seem to be all related. Here they are:

1.      Don’t seek the most comfortable way.
For some reason, I am a person who seeks the most streamlined way of doing something. I solve problems by finding the ergonomic solution, the one that takes the least amount of energy to put into practice, or at least, it might seem that way. For example, I really like being warm and physically comfortable. I will use energy to get blankets together or put on a coat, and then when I pick my spot and sit, I still remain focused on my physical comfort, and I can’t relax and move from the physical to the intangible, at least in my brain. I spend more energy on my comfort than actually enjoying it and living in the moment.

Yesterday, I bought some shoes that I knew were going to be uncomfortable, but when I danced last night, I wasn't thinking about my feet; I was busy living. When I stop worrying about the future and invest all my energy in the now, I get a fuller, richer experience. I am able to give my focus to the moment and soak it up. It becomes more meaningful and memorable because all of me was living it, not just a percentage.

(Maybe the reason why we age faster, or at least feel older, is that we do not devote all our attention to the events that transpire around us. We have our mind elsewhere, and so time seems to pass us by.)

I cannot live a life of complete comfort, because then every pleasure is satisfied and I have nothing unresolved. There needs to be a thorn in my side to make me struggle. Otherwise, I would never do so. This brings me to my next lesson.

2.      Keep experimenting.
Contrary to what I have somehow programmed or developed in my head, I will never be a final product here on earth. There is never a time when I can sit back and say something is completely done. I am a work in progress, and so I should act like I am in an experiment. One of my friends in Peru told me, “We are young, and we have the right to make mistakes.” Then I thought, are we not all young? When is it time to stop experimenting? If I give myself the motto of “Keep experimenting,” then I see life as something to be experienced. I can try new things, because those things don’t have to be 100% polished when I do them. Things can be rough, I can take risks, I can see my experiments as tests until I finally get it right. And then when I can say that I got it right, that doesn't mean all the other times were in vain, for they shaped me and led to the most polished version of me. I must be willing to try new things, or I will get old very fast. But not just old, stuck in my ways, unwilling, stagnant, uninventive, lacking creativity and vitality. When I say to myself, “Keep experimenting,” I can give myself the opportunity to fail, which might be one of the greatest gift of learning. 

3.      Experience more, complain less.
Many times, I put myself into a bubble. This is mostly a comfort bubble. I use the spectrum I have experienced in this bubble as the basis for determining my mood. When the difference between the highest and lowest point is not very extensive, I will complain more and not be grateful for what I have. Yet as I expand my experiences and am forced to deal with things I wouldn't naturally choose for myself, I grow more appreciative of the things that really are blessings, privileges, or rights. That’s when an air mattress becomes a luxurious queen bed because I've been staying on lumpy hostel mattresses. Or hot water is a privilege because other people never have the option between hot and cold. Or I’m just thankful I can wash my hands with soap in a public bathroom. As our vision expands, we see things for how they really are, and our perspective is clear. Let’s remember what we have, what others don’t have, and what we could be without if we are not grateful enough for our circumstances.

I hope that I remember these lessons and put them into practice in the “real world.” The challenge is to constantly become.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Talents and Abilities

In my church, I have been taught a good amount about developing my talents, but it’s not until recently that I feel like I can really do something with them.

What do we know about talents?

  • Everyone is different. They see things differently.
  • You cannot discover and realize your talents without other people.
  • All God-given talents and abilities should be developed.
  • When we work to improve ourselves and put our talents to work, then we do the most good.

Everyone is different.
People would say to be yourself, but I didn’t have a clear picture of what that was, and I lacked self-confidence (I still do). Especially when it comes to job hunting, I would get discouraged and not want to try: “Those people have a lot more or better skills than I do. There’s so many people applying for the job. Why can’t I get a job? What’s wrong with me?” It’s also futile to compare my personality with others. We are all at different stages of life, and just because time has gone by on a calendar doesn’t mean I need to be progressing at a certain pre-determined rate. I decide how slow or fast I go. I am the one in charge. When I recognize who I am, who I really am, and what I have to offer to the world, I can let go of competition and comparison and just focus on doing what I am supposed to do to the best of my ability.

Another thing I have learned about all of us is that we are complex people. We might take a job or choose a career in one field, but that is not all there is to us. At least in that one field, we use a lot of skills to perform our job. There might be hard-core skills we have, like software design, but then there are other things that may not be as easy to put on a resume, like spatial thinking, an ability to clearly teach a new concept to that someone can understand, or an analytical mind. It is very important not to put yourself into a box and limit your potential only to what employers describe on job postings. We need to find careers that suit our myriad of talents, not conform ourselves to only what is expected of us. That way, we won’t be denying part of ourselves just to get a paycheck.

You cannot discover and realize your talents without other people.
It might be different for someone who has been able to see themselves clearly from a young age, but I felt I was slow to blossom. My self-consciousness, timidity, and self-doubt prevented me from seeing myself clearly. I appreciated the friends and family around me who could accurately describe me, and in a way that I would believe it, since I dismissed so many things about me. Going to new places outside of my comfort zone and familiarity, trying to adapt to them, and making friends in the process—that is the environment that most developed my self-image. By hearing or seeing how my personality or skills have helped other people, my true self gets confirmed to me multiple times until I finally believe and accept it. The next step is to thrive.

All God-given talents and abilities should be developed.
Reflection is all that is needed to be able to put the pieces together. These things were with you the whole time; you just weren’t paying enough attention. When you sit down and really simmer with thought-provoking questions about what you like to do, what you’re good at, when you accomplished something that you were really proud of, and things other people have pointed out to you, the perspective really becomes clearer, and you can start to make possible plans of action to put these skills to work. If I were to negate my true self and try to be someone else, I would do the most damage. I do not do anyone good by keeping my brightness in the dark and not sharing it with others. 

When we work to improve ourselves and put our talents to work, then we do the most good.

I believe that when I do something naturally because I want to do it and I like doing it, and it produces something that benefits another person, then I will be fulfilling my vocation. I will be happier, feel like I am really having an impact, will be creating something that wasn’t there before, feel inspired and enabled, and be having a positive impact on the world around me.

I know that there is no limit to what I can do, only my self-doubt. When I see who I really am and stay true to it with the actions I choose to do, then I will be an unstoppable force for good.

Application: What can you do to see your talents clearly?

  • Reflect on when someone complimented you. What were you doing? How did it benefit the other person? What skills were you using? What can you do to improve those skills and continue to put them in practice?
  • If you haven’t heard of it, read How to Find the Work You Love by Laurence G. Bolt.
  • Take time to ponder, reflect, meditate, pray, and ask yourself or God what your special talents are. How can you use a combination of your skills to pursue a career that is more in line with who you really are?
  • If it doesn’t seem like inspiration is coming, just sit in it for a while, and answers will miraculously pop into your head.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Hello, World.

If you haven't noticed, I took a break from writing this blog (but I don't think any of you have noticed, because I got one hit on my last post, and that was probably me). Why did I not write to you? Was I a slacker? Did I escape from the world and end up eating pizza and Sour Punch straws all day? Nein. I actually was writing a weekly email to my friends and family all the while I was in Peru. Now I am about to leave Peru to go to France for a couple of weeks and then back to the States, but I wanted you to know I haven't forgotten about you. My commentary just took on a different form, and now it will switch back, because I don't think my extended family cares that much about normal life as much as South American adventures.

So, where am I at (not physically)?

I am about to embark on putting my dreams into reality. I already did some of that by choosing to go to Peru. However cliché it is, being here has changed me. I've been able to see things clearly, and my own reflection has been shown more to me. 

What's been going on the past six months?

I travelled to Lima and Nazca before doing an internship in Chiclayo, a northern Peruvian city. I did editing for the marketing department. I had never done marketing nor editing as a job, but it turned out to be really helpful. Apart from the diverse group of people I got to know who have a lot to learn from, I was able to learn more about my capacities and skills. At the end of my internship, I took another month to finish up my travels in Peru before I come back decades from now and reminisce about my formative months here.

What have I learned?

I have learned I need to be me. If I am not confident in myself, no one else will be confident for me, at least not in a sustainable way. I have also learned I have been given talents and skills that are important to develop, so it would be the best idea to see how my gifts can be used in a professional setting to improve the lives of others on this planet (obviously, I don't have a specific vision for my next job). 

But, what are my skills?

I am a thinker and observer. I am organized, and I like things to be visible and transparent. Take, for example, my possessions: I find it hard to concentrate on important things when I have a lot of stuff and when that stuff is not neatly stored in its own place. Therefore, I try to reduce distractions by having less stuff and placing it neatly in rows and things. Apart from that, it has been confirmed to me that I am a decent writer. I like explaining things clearly that I have learned, and I use writing to try to figure out my world and ask questions. I am also a documenter and preserver. I like making things to last, and I like to remember things that have happened. I have also learned that I can cultivate these skills--and others yet to be quantified--with the help of the Lord. He made me to be without limits, and I am the one who puts those limits on myself. If I just trust in Him and his plan, I can be far more successful that I can just by myself.

So, where do I go from here?

The biggest task seems to be to find a job that includes the following in some way:

  • An opportunity for me to write original content
  • Edit other people's work
  • Proofread materials before publication. This could also include working to improve graphic design content.
  • I could do well editing English that was written by a non-native speaker.
  • I could work in a place that deals with travel.
  • I want to keep up with my Spanish.
  • And young people might be my most effective audience.

It will take more introspection and reflection and asking to see exactly in what direction I will go, but I am confident that I will be successful in putting these skills to work, because they were revealed to me. They are part of my true self, and my true self deserves to be cultivated and enhanced.

I hope you can also act on your true nature and put your unique skills to work, because there is no one quite like you who can offer the world what you uniquely have.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three Lessons

Believe in yourself. Be happy. Do what’s best for you. These are three things I learned recently from someone else. I am trying to put them into practice. Let’s discuss them, shall we?

First, Believe in Yourself. Believe in what you have the capacity to do. Believe that since you have done something in the past, you can do it again now. Believe that given what you already have, you can put things together to something you have never done before. You have been given special talents and gifts, and all of them together are what make you unique. You have something to offer the world. Have the courage to share it, even if it’s not perfect.

Be Happy. Choose to be happy now. It’s an attitude, not a product of the environment you’re in. Things could always be better. Things could also be worse. Be grateful for the moment, and savor this time, because it will change soon. If you dedicate your concentration to right now, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll forget it, because it will mean something to you. There’s also something you can learn from right now. See it, and love it. You deserve to be happy now.

Do What’s Best for You. Contrary to superficial belief, this is not selfish. If you really think about what’s best for you, what is the best decision that will not just serve your selfish pleasures, but something that thinks about the best outcome for the present and the future and that benefits not only yourself… some decision that is made by your best self—then it will truly not only be a great decision, it will also have a positive effect on others and will help them to do what’s best for them, too. Let’s not make decisions only based on our perception of what other people think.

I’m reading a book, How to Find the Work You Love, and I think it’s really great. What sets it apart from other books that I might read is that it makes me trust it (which I am inclined to do anyway), not so that I blindly accept what the author says, but so I can turn inward and answer questions for myself. It allows me to be the one in charge of the decision making, and that’s what I desperately need in this time. I need to learn how to make decisions to craft my future. I plan on answering questions that deal with my personal desires for myself, what my natural talents and abilities are, and to find patterns with my identity that I can put together into a vocation to help the world at large (or at least a small part of it). This is an important task, a vital one, which is worth spending the time on it, because there’s a powerful quote mentioned in the book that describes what happens if I don’t take the time to figure it out: “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on…children, than the unlived lives of their parents” (Carl Jung).

I was asked at work if I could proof read something that would be sent out to an agency. It was text and formatting from the graphic designing. I said sure. As I went along editing—changing the smallest things, checking the rest of the document for consistency, capitalizing words, making notes—I felt a feeling in my chest, a feeling similar to when I am learning something spiritual. At the end, when we were updating the actual document and I was passing my notes along to the graphic designer, I could see what she needed to do, but I don’t have the skills right now to do it on the designing program. At any rate, I realized that my picky-ness is actually helpful! It depends on which areas, but I enjoy making things the most accurate that they can be, and people need that in the professional world! It’s a great thing to have something confirmed to you that you can then act upon with confidence. I can always make my skill better, such as becoming a pro at APA style, but at least it’s been made manifest to me (and I understood it), that I am a good proofreader! My quest for perfection can be useful to somebody.

It’s interesting because this discovery seems opposite to a couple of other discoveries I have had recently. I visited Alianz Francois (or however you spell it), and also felt the same feeling while listening to other people speak French, so I think I should learn French. That doesn’t mean I will be an awesome French speaker in my life, but “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Another realization is that I need to do creative things with my hands. Here at the school, I have made a Mater (from Cars) costume out of cardboard and paint, painted a black shirt with white ribs (so I looked like a skeleton), and I fixed the auxiliary valve of our shower with just a plastic bag and a rubber band. I have the ability to look at resources and then see how I can make them into something new and better together. That is a great skill to have. It is useful. I can also be creative. There are no rules. I see the goal (for example, Disney-themed barbeque), and then I decide what I will do based on that parameter. I cannot fail, for there are no specifics. I can be as creative or involved or dedicated as I want to be.

I hope that you have not gotten discouraged by my personal findings. My goal is to make you look at yourself and what you want to do, and then to do it. This is your life. No one else is going to live it for you. You make the most of it, or you don’t. What you’re doing right now is good. It’s not bad. But there is always a better way of doing things. You can be more effective or reach more people or hone your skills more. Like Switchfoot says: “We were meant to live for so much more. Have we lost ourselves? Somewhere we live inside.” So listen to your conscience, and have the courage to act on what you hear.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Growing Pains

I've come to another country to seek something I can name but can't qualify. What I want is personal purpose, the title of this blog. What does that mean? What do independence, self-confidence, or personal determination mean? What am I expecting? The Lord didn't make anything that didn't first have a plan. It's only my second week, and yet I feel I am lacking something. I guess it is the same something that prompted this whole journey. It can[t be resolved just my putting me in another place. I have learned that lesson, and yet I expect to relearn it a few more times here. I am myself. I still have my habits, quirks, and positive traits. And yet I can still rise above shifting circumstances and keep my commitments and flourish, not just go into a skeleton operation.

This whole phase of my progression involves a huge shift in mentality, from dependence to independence, from passivity to objectivity, from surviving to thriving, and from being acted upon to acting. While the Lord is in complete control of everything around me, ultimately I am the captain of my fate. I decide not only how I live my life, but how far I reach to Heaven.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Every Good Thing

Lately it's been easy to notice and be grateful for the Lord's hand in my life. When He is not in your thoughts, it's easy to pass events off as just coincidence or your own effort. However, I have realized that everything I do is because of Him. He reminds me of what I need to do. He gives me a quiet suggestion of how to be better, and then it's up to me to act on it. Truly, every good thing comes from Him, and it is through Him that we are able to do all things. 
"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things." - Alma 26:12, Book of Mormon
In the Church, we learn that we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism. This gives the recipient the right, whenever he or she is worthy, to have the Spirit to be with him or her at all times. But the truth is, the Spirit was influencing the person long before they made the commitment to be baptized. He worked almost silently in their hearts, slowly changing their perspective and adding new ideas.  Lao Tzu taught, "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." Many times we forget the Lord and really how much he has enabled us to act in our own sphere of influence and to choose the good so we may reap the reward.

I guess this post is a tribute to the Lord and a testament to my recent change in perspective. Repentance denotes "a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." So, according to this, I am repenting and becoming more like Christ and Heavenly Father, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to progress.

Enjoy this uplifting song.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Social Skills

I've been thinking about my friend's example recently, and here's what I've learned: every social event is an opportunity to learn and grow. This friend taught me that there's a lot more available than what you see.

First, a quote: "If all you know is what you see with your natural eyes and hear with your natural ears, then you will not know very much." - Boyd K. Packer

And another one: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.” - Henry B. Eyring

So, since we know that there's a lot going on, and that people don't always show or tell exactly what they're feeling, then there is an opportunity to serve. If you're just aware and observant, you can read people's body language or their energy and respond appropriately. You can help someone without them asking for it.

I experienced this somewhat recently. I tried to keep these tips in mind. I went to an activity and the first part had concluded, and everyone was going into another room for the activity. I said hi to a girl I knew, and she told me of a recent struggle she had. I didn't prompt her to tell me about it, and I don't know how many people she had told, but I tried to listen with love to what she was saying and try not to interrupt or take her situation and compare it to mine. At the end, she thanked me for listening to her, and t felt good to have been available for her at that time.

I think the hindrance to observing people and responding accordingly is self-absorption. It can happen even in a conversation with someone--turning the subject back to you, not really hearing the feeling behind their words, not truly listening, interrupting, thinking about other things you have to do rather than listening to them.

This is a major shift in my previous thinking. Instead of waiting to be acted upon, now I see it as I am being given opportunities to act, to observe, to take the initiative, to get outside my comfort zone, to put someone else's needs above my own. I got the thought the other day, "Instead of expecting to receive, give." That takes effort to keep in mind, but it's necessary to adopt if I'm going to become more like Christ.

I thought about my life goals the other day. My first thought was that I wanted to learn how to give everything to the Lord: my heart, soul, will, desires, talents, wisdom, abilities, everything. There's a great quote about that from C.S. Lewis:
The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
But then I thought of the scripture in first Corinthians: 
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
So, my foremost desire should be to love, to love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. I recently watched the 1982 film, Ghandi. He lived by an absolute truth that one person is not higher than another and that we are all brothers and sisters. It made me reflect on my tendency to act in accordance with the environment that I am in. I tend to take cues from others on how to treat the people around them. I want to live by absolute truth. I want to cultivate love for all. 

If I have love for others, I will focus on their needs and listen with love. I will be mindful of the souls around me who need my help, and I will have love enough for God that He can whisper to me the promptings I need to act accordingly.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Makes Me "Cool"

I read on reddit once that just because you travel to a new place doesn't make you cool. I tried to explain that to someone last night. Just because you change your surroundings, you don't elevate your status, whatever that means. I guess it makes us appear cool to people that we don't know that well, like an acquaintance or a potential employer. If you are from Europe, you could travel to multiple countries in a week. Plus, it's not uncommon for people to be bi- or even tri-lingual. Maybe it just seems cool from the American perspective. 

Anyway, I contend that what makes us "cool" are experiences. Just because I am planning on going to Peru doesn't make me extraordinary, but what I will learn will add to my character and personality. The mission was a great thing n my life, but it wasn't just because I changed my surroundings; I worked hard, I sacrificed, I developed my social skills, time management skills, and self-discipline. I learned how to work closely with others toward a common goal, among other things. So I guess it's not the change in scenery, but the skills involved in adapting to that new setting, that makes us more interesting and seasoned individuals. 

People ask me why I'm going to Peru. Apart from the "to travel and I've got an internship" answer, I like to say "to experience life, gain more confidence, grow, be more independent, and develop myself." As I come closer to leaving, I'm reminded how crazy this idea is. 

But I won't give it up. I will follow through. And you can see who I've become at the end of it all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Meta: This Blog

The purpose of this blog has changed. At first, it was a way for me to write my thoughts and attitudes down 1) just to get them out of my head, and 2) to possibly have a responsive audience to give me feedback. I bought a journal, and it has taken over the first purpose, and I continue to speak to live people to share my ideas.

I have been trying to move away from the idea of leaning on others and telling them everything that I think about. I shouldn't need validation from others. I am capable of keeping my own little secrets and not sharing them with anyone else. Can't just having the Lord as my friend be sufficient?

So you see, this is why I haven't blogged as much lately. I haven't defined the new purpose for this blog. It is not a journal. It is not a cry for validation. Perhaps it should just be its own record. Perhaps what I learn I can share, not so others will glorify me, but that perhaps my lessons learned will benefit others.

Quote from the day:
"It's not what you do; It's what you become while doing it."

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I have made lists of things I need to do, things to bring with me, and places to go. Most of them are written on my big whiteboard:

It keeps me focused. I can take a daily inventory of what I have left to do. 
I won't bore you with all the details, but I have been able to get a few things done. 

I feel there is a dichotomy here: I have visual progress of my preparation for the trip, yet I hardly have any solid itineraries for actually being in the country. I can't give people specific dates, I don't know where I'm staying, and I don't even know where I'm visiting really before the school internship, apart from Lima and Nasca. 

I have learned in the temple that everything made during the creation was planned for before it was executed. The action just went according to the plans constructed. That is how the Lord works. He does not do something without thought, consideration, foresight, or intent. 
Gilbert, AZ LDS Temple

I fear lest my lack of planning will make me more susceptible to the dangers out there, but I also feel I have some time to plan when I'm flying or after I've landed. There isn't necessarily a time crunch.

I guess, when in doubt, act like you have a plan. And I can't discredit all that I've learned or prepared so far. 

It's going to work out.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Positive Updates

I am learning more to decide things on my own. I followed after James and bought a nice big whiteboard, yet I am crafting my future on it. Today I was able to make clear categories for goals: short, medium, long, and then an extra column for what to pack. 

I am in the progression stages, and I am changing my perspective. The Bible Dictionary defines repentance as "a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." It seems I am in the process of repentance. 

My prayers are changing, too. There is less telling the Lord what I want and more communing with Him. This is very helpful in allowing me to learn more of how He works and establishing independent communication with Him which I can trust. This will be invaluable as I soon will make many significant decisions to shape my future.

I am thankful for where I am at. Without James to push me into frustration, I wouldn't have taken this kind of responsibility for my growth. Without those special experiences, I wouldn't have wondered if there was something more to discover and live. And yes, thank you to the many Reddit posts I have passed time in front of. They are specific and unattainable and unrelatable enough to make me experiment on my own. 

Thank you to the people who recognize they shouldn't solve my problems. Thank you to the people who inspire me to act for myself. I am doing it.

. . . I am doing it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Inspirational Quotes

Sidewalk Prophets, "Keep Making Me"

Make me broken so I can be healed..
I want to run to You with heart wide open
Make me broken

Make empty so I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding onto my will...

Make me lonely so I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one more than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me


Our Greatest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson


I've been fascinated with the word "jihad."

Before you start thinking of Islamic extremists blowing up things, jihad can be translated directly as "struggle" or "striving." It can be violent or non-violent internal or external. There's a well-known phrase that goes, "striving in the way of God."

I feel like that's where I am. I am striving. There is an internal struggle I have, and I'm trying to have it just involve me and the Lord.

Food for thought...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

los padres

Tonight I told my parents about my decision to go to Peru.

Four of my other relatives had come over in the afternoon to spend time with us. We went on a hike and then came back to the house for dinner. I had told my sister that I would probably tell them tonight. She urged me not to tell everyone at once. I thought that was a good idea. Our DVR of the Olympics was caught up, so after everyone else left and my parents sat down on the couch, I took advantage of the next commercial break to tell them. My mother had known about my Skype interview, yet she didn't know what it was for. I decided to start with that: "So, I had a Skype interview, and I heard back from them recently... I have bought a plane ticket for May 13th to Peru." I went into all the details from there, trying to go in chronological order. My mother stopped me a little way in and went to get a piece of paper to write it all down so she could adequately tell others what my plans would be. My sister had speculated what their reaction would be, and I was a little anxious to hear it once I was done covering all the bases of my trip. My mother--surprisingly--said she thought it was a good thing, but they both agreed I should take a self-defense class and possibly carry a weapon, like mace. I don't know about the weapon, especially with the TSA, but I am willing to take a self-defense class. I took one in college, and it wouldn't hurt to do another one. After all, I would prefer not to get raped or assaulted.

As I was driving home, I wanted to text or call someone to tell them, but I have been more reserved as of late, so I will just tell you. Regardless, I did feel the quite Spirit letting me know that I am still on the right path. That felt reassuring. Thank you, Lord, for guiding me on this journey.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Weakness of Mine

"Learning by faith and from experience are two of the central features of the Father’s plan of happiness." - Elder Holland

I learned last night that I depend too much on others to help me solve my problems. I latch on to one or two people where I am and expect them to do the work for me, in a sense. I can't remember it not being that way. In Flagstaff, I had two people. I had my good friend in San Diego, and now I've tried to use James to help me discover my purpose. While he has been helpful, he cannot do the work for me. Even on the mission, I would get to a breaking point and then call the assistants or my zone leaders, looking for a way out. No one can solve my problems. They are mine, and when I lean on those people more than I'm supposed to, they probably feel the burden. They have their own things to work through. They don't want to carry my weight when I'm not working and doing my part.

What, then, are friends for? How do we help each other while still respecting our individual responsibilities to progress? What purpose are we supposed to play in each other's lives? Where is the balance between helpfulness in our trials and usurpation of the load? What does being a friend look like to you? If I don't help other people in their trials, then there seems to be a distance between me and them; how do we connect while still leaving God as our focus?

There must be a way to draw everything back to Heavenly Father. I need help, sometimes He sends it to me in the form of someone else. But I am not supposed to put my trust in that person. The Lord was working through them. They reflect the light; they are not the Light.

Don't lean on anyone else. Lean on Him.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feeling the Spirit

I feel my Heavenly Father at random times of the day, like a couple of days ago when I was contemplating buying a wireless keyboard or today at work just doing my regular thing.

It's comforting, yet puzzling. What is He trying to tell me? My best guess is that He's trying to tell me that He's close. But I hope I can discern more specifically what His counsel is.

Dearest children, God is near you,
Watching o’er you day and night,
And delights to own and bless you,
If you strive to do what’s right.
He will bless you, He will bless you,
If you put your trust in him.

Children, God delights to teach you
By his Holy Spirit’s voice.
Quickly heed its holy promptings.
Day by day you’ll then rejoice.
Oh, prove faithful, Oh, prove faithful
To your God and Zion’s cause.

The Wall (not a Pink Floyd song)

I feel close to a wall. Things have been building up, and they're not going to let up as long as I am moving forward and am not apathetic about my position on this journey. It keeps nagging me to do better, to keep pushing. I'm feeling the resistance.

There was a program called Turning Point, and one episode was of a professional kayaker who started an organization that takes people with cancer out on outdoor excursions. They do kayaking, rock climbing, rappelling, and other things. His aunt has cancer, and she was the inspiration for the company. In the show, it's her first time rock climbing. There was a pretty good grade on the rock, not too difficult, but she tried it and couldn't get very high because she was afraid. She came back down and it seemed she wouldn't try again. But as she saw others ascending, she wanted to try again. She eventually reached the top, and then the founder was talking at the sametime; he said "We want people to get to that breaking point, because that's the only way to break through."

I was talking with James the other night, when I was hitting the wall (I will probably hit it many more times before breaking through) and he told me that when people summit Mount Everest, they do it in steps, like that workout warmup where you touch one line, then go back, then touch a farther line, then go back, and so on. People don't just hang out on Everest. They have to work up to it. If all the work was to just hang out, then it wouldn't be as worth it.

This journey is going to be a struggle, with short respites, but I should take comfort in the fact that resistance means I am striving for something better.

James sad I was close. I hope so.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gonna Be Some Changes Made

On Saturday I move in with my new roommates. They're in a house, and I get a single bedroom. I'm not planning on taking much stuff with me, and I'm only going to stay there for three whole months. 

I had an interview last Monday for an editor/translator position at a language school in northern Peru, near Chiclayo. The interview was via Skype. I thought it went well, though there was always the awkward pause for the delay in technology. I seem a little overqualified for the position probably in their eyes, but the rep said that they could find something for me to do that suits my skills. They are going to be busy with a new marketing campaign, so I'll stay busy. Anyway, she was going to get back to me in 2-3 days, which was Thursday at the latest. I didn't hear from them, and I didn't think it prudent to email on the weekend. But today I got an email:
"We have talked extensively about your application and decided to accept you as an intern. Your qualifications and experience as well as, and this is quite important in our opinion, your person as such convinced us. Welcome to the team!"
Woot! I got a job in Peru! Feel happy for me if you aren't already!

So now there are steps: I need to first accept the position. I need to learn more about the visa situation and decide if I am going to tour the country first or last. I need to get documents to submit. I need to tell my parents after I move out.  I need to research more about the country and things.

Here are some other details of the position:
  • Unpaid internship
  • 40 hs/wk, 8 hs a day.
  • Work assignments include translating texts, including brochures, flyers, job postings, updating the Facebook page, and other things.
  • I have free access to activities available to the language students regularly, including salsa dance class, Peruvian cooking, and BBQ.
  • I can live at the school in the student dorms for free or stay with a host family in the same city. Three meals a day, no utilities, less than $300 a month.
  • Usually, volunteers stay for 3 months, and interns stay 6 months, but it depends on the person. Most people stay about 3 months.
  • If I want to stay more than 3 months, I'll have to get a work visa, which is a process. But since I want to visit more than one place, I would want to stay more than 3 months. It takes 2-3 months for the visa to be processed. The school would help me with the process.
  • Weekends are off, and they plan excursions every other week to other cities in the northern region
Time to get going with the next step of my life. I am thankful to Heavenly Father for guiding me on this new path to my purpose, courage, confidence, experience, ups and downs, independence, learning, and love.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


James has been pivotal in this journey I'm now on. He's so young (21!), especially in the Gospel, yet he has a knowledge that he's had for a long time now. He says he knew the Gospel before he even came into contact with the Church. He's received revelation from the Father, and that has guided him to this point. He knows his path and what he has to do. He looks ahead into the future. 

Once I was doing a project for school, and to get input from my dad, I asked him what is the best characteristic of a good leader. He said vision. I didn't think it to be a good enough answer for me to report on--it's not as solid as great speaking abilities, per se. But what my dad said is true. Vision is necessary to determine what you do in the present. It gives you direction. How can you know what to do if you don't know where you're going?

James is very different from me, but there's a connection there because he has gone through my same journey, in a sense. It seems like he is "woken up" to what this life is for. He is striving to live his purpose. These are all things I strive after, and I appreciate his vision, encouragement, and optimism. I am able to help James by listening to his point of view and allowing him to express himself. I guess I'm the only person in his vicinity that can listen and understand, or at least get the idea of what he's trying to express. 

I told him I don't understand everything he says, especially when it comes to his specific purpose, but I do feel the Spirit when he speaks to me, and so I will trust that. He's not like most people, and so maybe I need to listen more intently to what he says. He can see things for their true purpose, instead of contenting himself with the normal belief held by most of our peers. 

It just seems to be a great symbiotic relationship, and I can't wait to learn more, and I really love being able to have a positive influence on his day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Publicizing my Decision

In general, I find it easy to tell my friends in the Church about my decision. I still haven't told my parents. I had told a couple of people before I called my sister a day before my post was published here to tell her about it. She thanked me for the courtesy of calling her before the general public knew about it. (Sometimes I can be kind of dense.)

Here is why I don't tell certain people about my decision: I'm worried they will talk me out of it. This decision is a precious tender thing. It symbolizes a lot about myself that I want to cultivate and nourish. It hasn't grown into something strong and independent yet, and so it could easily be uprooted and left to dry out. I only tell certain individuals because I believe they will help support my decision, not reject it. Also, if I tell many people, then I will be held responsible by those people to fulfill my goal, and sometimes I worry about failing. What if I don't follow through? What if I give up on this dream before it has even started, like so many other dreams I've had? I kind of want to follow through just to show myself that I can be committed to something and see it through to the end. If I give up on this dream, how many more opportunities for growth and development will I push aside in my life? 

Now is the time to go after what I want. I've been given the gift of time. I can develop myself into who I want to become and who the Lord wants me to be. How can I be my true and divine self without stepping outside the life of comfort? 

I have the opportunity. I must do it.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Why did I decide to buy a plane ticket to Peru?

I was talking with James. He shared some pretty heavy stuff with me. He told me it was his purpose, his vision, what the Father has revealed to him. That sounded great, but it made me think about what my purpose is. 

As we talked, I could feel his energy and excitement. It was contagious. I felt like we connected. It must have been the Spirit. He said, "The thing that you want to do--just do it." Peru hadn't been my priority dream, but it just came out of my mouth: "I want to go to Peru!" "Alright, do it, then!" But immediately, I thought, "What?!? Go to Peru?! That's such a crazy idea! Why would I do that?" But I felt somewhat committed, like saying the words made them more of a reality, a possibility. 

I thought this commitment would bring immediate opposition from the adversary--full of doubts, second-guesses, and negativity. I did experience that for a moment driving home, but for the most part, as I have been fostering these ideas and researching more about traveling down there, it's making more sense. I have some money available, my work is ending, my parents are (hopefully) moving to another state to retire, I'm single, I don't have any immediate life plans that would interfere. I have a freedom available to me...

Why not go to Peru?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spiritual Feast

I went to a state-wide young single adult conference in Phoenix last weekend. It was great. There were so many speakers, including Sheri Dew, Alex Boyé, and others. All the speeches were about us, where we are, our purpose, and most of all, who we are. I think understanding my divine nature is the key to my success and confidence. I will work on that. The Spirit was very strong throughout the conference, and I also got to get my groove on at the dances! 

Saturday afternoon were the workshops. We heard from a Broadway singer/actress, Christeena Driggs, who had many uplifting and go-getting things to say. Though ultimately she wasn't my very favorite speaker, if I had to pick a singular moment in which I felt the Spirit confirm the words of any one speaker, it would be when she quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: 

"The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences."

Though it's not put into Gospel terminology, I think this applies directly to me. It makes sense. I could only progress up to a certain point in the presence of our Heavenly Father, and then He sent me to earth to learn. It is certain that there will be hardships in life and things I can't control, but I can't avoid every discomfort and loss, away from what is happening in the world. I can try to prepare and protect myself from things I know will harm me, but many people have lived this life and have stories to tell; I should listen to them. 

Then I should make my own stories...


I just bought a plane ticket. What I feel is giddy and excited. I feel blessed and that it's a good thing. I must remember how I feel because I know there will be times when I will doubt that it is the right decision. 

My one-way plane ticket is for May 13. My plane flies from Los Angeles. My plane will land 23 hours later in Lima, Peru. 

I don't have a job lined up. I don't know anyone in Peru. I don't even know which city I will stay in. I only know I will be flying there and that I plan on trying to get a job and stay there anywhere from 6 months to a year. 

Isn't this crazy? People don't just buy a random plane ticket and leave their country of origin, do they?

I don't know which and how many doors this will open up, but I do know it will open them. 

The only other people I have told are my friend who helped inspire this decision and my boss. I have four months to come up with a plan and get ready.

Here we go.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Life Update

My parents got an offer on their house, which means they will be moving no later than March 16 to California. I will stay here and wait to see what happens at work. My friend has a vacancy at her house, and I will live there for a couple of months until I figure out what to do.

Here's a list of near-future possibilities if I don't keep my current job:

  • Visit my great aunt's son (not sure what the title is) and his wife in Colorado on their homestead for a couple of weeks and learn about organic farming and broom-making
  • Visit my parents for a week or so after they have moved
  • Do some crazy thing like teach English in another country or get a job in Peru for 6 mo-1 year or join the Peace Corps
  • Live with my sister in California in the old house she is renting. Her roommate moves out May 31.
  • Take a road trip (maybe visit some Amish)

As you can see, my schedule is wide open. I would like to get back into Spanish, and I hear jobs are easier to get once you're in the country. I've saved up a bit of money, but I don't want to spend it all in one year without any income. 

I should hire a life coach to help me sort all this out.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Haste Makes Waste

I read about people who have few possessions, and it makes me want to drastically reduce my possessions, despite giving away many things already. I have noticed a difference between the right mindset of eliminating excess and the frantic effort to get rid of anything not necessary. I can tell when I'm trying to get rid of something just to for the sake of getting rid of something. I feel like reducing (relatively) slowly in the right mindset is better than deciding in haste.

I just had the realization that it should be this way with my journey. As much as I would like to have a singular event or packaged amount of time in which I "find" myself, gain a lot of confidence, and come to a career conclusion, it's probably not the Lord's way. I need to build off of what I have already experienced, not replace it. I'd rather do this process right rather than rush. This is how it will be, and I will try to be patient with the timing in which events unfold.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Old Friend and Optimism

Yesterday I saw a friend from high school. She was in drama with me. I saw her a couple of years ago at my friend's wedding, but I hadn't really seen her before that. I asked her what was going on in her life. She is currently a freelance English teacher in Costa Rica. She had taken her TEFL course down there before, and afterwards she just networked until she got a job working at a school, but still independently. My sister mentioned to her that I'm looking for a big lifestyle change. My friend said, "Well, come on down!" I'll keep Costa Rica in the back of my mind as a possibility. Upon parting, she said, "Good luck in your life adventures." What a very apropos sendoff.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Friend and a Confirmation

It felt only a little strange that I was sharing such personal insights with this person I was really just getting to know for the first time. 

I first met this person (I'll call him James) at a night kickball activity. He had joined the Church and I had wanted to talk to him for a while but hadn't gotten the opportunity. I just started talking to him after the activity, and he seemed approachable. I offered to let him read my conversion story to the Church to see if that would help him with his transition. It did, and the next Sunday we had our ward feast.

We sat at the same table with my girl friend. James seemed to not beat around the bush. I thought it was safe sharing about my personal journey with him. I told him that it seemed I had learned things spiritually. I had investigated the Church and gone on a mission and have come to know things for myself. I have gained a personal testimony. But what about the world? How do I live in it and stay true to the truths that I have already learned? Are these spiritual truths that I have acquired really absolute truths? Do they apply to the rest of the world? How do I experience the wisdom of others and have my own experiences and then compare them with what I have learned in the Church? I told James, "I just want to know what's truly real for my life." Then the Spirit came to me and made me emotional. It was this same Spirit that has given me confirmations about other points along this road. My girl friend put her hand on my back as I composed myself. James seemed to know what I meant.

I feel like James has a unique perspective that can give me a new insight into this journey. He is definitely optimistic about me achieving my dreams, and I value his opinion. I will seek to learn more from him on this slow but steady journey towards finding my place in this world.