Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 in Review

When I first thought about this year, it seemed like not much has happened. There hasn't necessarily been a defining moment, like a mission call, coming home, going back to Moscow, or graduating. But it's been an important year--a year full of steps and building blocks and slow discoveries.

January--Spent some time being unemployed. Tracy and I founded the Cult of Learning. It was a month full of self-rediscovery, people I love, and job searching.
February--Started a new job at Boostability as a writer and editor. It was a month of love and friendship and joy, especially with the trip to Spokane for Sarah and Jake's wedding. It was literally the best weekend full of wonderful moments with my favorite people.
March--Jessie's and my room flooded and got moldy, requiring us to move into Tracy's room for a few weeks while it was being repaired. It was a month of Atlantis and Journey to the Center of the Earth and late night chats and cuddling.
April--Walked in graduation (even though I graduated in December), changed my hair up with bangs and highlights, and packed up and moved from my beloved Lookout House down the street into Arch House. It was a month of change and new beginnings.
May--Traveled to Illinois (Chicago and Nauvoo) to see one of my best friends get married, and then sent my sister off to the same place. It was a month of good friend times.
June--Got a new computer, made new friends, and had a blast. It was a month of just living life.
July--Went to Hawaii for a week with my best friends to see another one of them get married. It was a month full of adventure and love and some of my favorite summer memories (both in Hawaii and at home) with some confusing emotions thrown in there too.
August--After I turned 25, I decided I needed a drastic change in my life to end my quarter-life crisis (#QuarterQuell), so I quit my job and moved to Salt Lake. It was another month of new beginnings.
September--Officially started looking into grad schools. Took the GRE, made some big life decisions, and loved being "funemployed" again. It was a month of taking steps and non-traditional productivity.
October--Attended my 4th (and last) wedding of the year. Two of my favorite people married each other and all of my other favorite people either flew in for the wedding or just magically happened to be in town. It was a month of being reunited with old friends.
November--Overhauled a paper for my writing sample and stressed out about money. It was a month of being grateful for the every day things in my life.
December--Turned in my first grad school applications. I also became an aunt to a beautiful roommate goddaughter. It was a month of reflection and processing a lot of the important things that happened this year.

TL;DR--It was a year full of weddings and lovely people and adventures. It was a year of deciding what I do and do not want to do with my life. It was a continual process of new beginnings. 

Often, I when I reminisce I get sad at the times gone by, the good years that will never come again. But honestly, this year is different. Don't get me wrong; there has been so much good that has come from it. I made so many new friends, got to see the old ones quite a bit, and there were so many adventures (big and little) that I will treasure forever. But mostly, it's been a year of slow and steady progression on so many different planes (academic/professional, personal, romantic, etc). It's been really hard in a lot of ways, and really rewarding in others. Mostly, I just have a feeling that this gap year is a huge stepping stone for the great things that are to come in my life.

That makes 2015 so daunting but so exciting. But I'm ready for it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Grad School Journey

A long, long time ago, back before my mission (which feels like a galaxy far, far away), I had aspirations to go on to grad school. I'm not sure why. It just seemed like something I would do. That kind of got lost in my post-mission identity crisis, but it was still always in the back of my mind. When I graduated a year ago, I wanted to eventually explore my options down the grad school path, but it got pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of finding a job and then working full time--not to mention the fact that I was burned out from school.

When I walked at graduation in April, I knew. I was sitting in the Marriott Center at the Humanities Convocation, and I was reflecting on my undergraduate experience and I just knew that I needed to go back to school. Which was terrifying because 1) the possibility of rejection and 2) I still didn't know what I wanted to do as far as a career. I couldn't just spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to get another piece of paper and still be in my same situation in a year or two. But I missed school, I wanted to go back, and I really started feeling like I needed to make it happen eventually. 

The following Sunday, I was reading my patriarchal blessing during Church. There's a lot in it about my education, but one sentence has always . . . I don't want to say "bothered" me, because family is important and my highest aspiration in life is to eventually be a mother, but it always kind of made me wonder about whether or not I'd actually go on to grad school. It basically tells me to always remember that the most important thing will be to teach my family correct principles, and I used to think that meant sacrificing personal goals like school or a career for my family. But as I was reading it that Sunday, it changed. It became the catalyst for me to go to school. It doesn't matter if grad school will or will not lead me into a good career (although that is definitely a BIG hope). What matters is that I love to learn, and this degree will make me a better person, and it will help prepare me to teach my friends and family about the Gospel and life. And so even though I still wasn't sure that it was right, I had confidence that it was. I felt like I could justify a decision a leap in the dark going to school without a definite path, because God had told me it would be beneficial. 

Well, long story short: work happened and summer adventures happened and I got bogged down by a lot of things and grad school plans got pushed to the side until August when I got fed up with my life. I was moving to Salt Lake, hated my job, and couldn't find another one, so I took it as a sign that I just wasn't supposed to work right now. I took the plunge, quit my job, and decided to focus solely on grad school.

I've since had a blessing where God told me that this is the right thing. He wants it to happen, and it's part of his plan for me. I have often returned to my patriarchal blessing, because all throughout are promises about my education and my future. I felt a lot of guidance in deciding which schools to apply to. I had a lot of divine help when I took the GRE, as manfiest by a perfect score on the verbal and writing. I have had a lot of professional help on my application from friends and professors. And I even have had a lot of emotional help from the Lord because I have only really freaked out about this whole thing once, which is a big deal. 

I submitted application 2 of 8 today, which is what inspired this post. There are still a lot of fears and worries. But honestly--it's okay. I know that this is right. I don't feel a pressing need to know where I'll be in 8-9 months, because I know I'll be where I'm supposed to be. I'm still far from done with this journey, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm actually on a path that leads somewhere.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reflections on Some Goals

December 1 might be too early for a "reflection on the year" post. And there is a good chance that I will learn a lot in the next month of my life. However, with the holiday season starting with this past week, I have thought a lot about this past year. The last time I was home for longer than just a day or two was last Christmas and New Year's. I had just graduated, I was feeling very lost in my life, and I remember sitting on what has become my bed in the guest room thinking about life and what I wanted my goals for 2014 to be. I started making the traditional list:

  • Spiritual things like scripture study, prayer, temple, etc (Obviously not perfect, but much improved in many ways)
  • Working out 3xWeek (Nothing until September, but it's been pretty good since then)
  • Become a morning person (hahahaha)
  • Travel someplace new (check, check, check)
Quite surprisingly, actually, I have realized all my goals about trying to find my way in life. I found a job, took (and rocked) the GRE, and looked into grad schools. I may not have decided what to do beyond the next year or two, but I did decide that, and grad school will be a huge step in fully making that long-term life goal come true. 

However, despite all these wonderful, wonderful things that have happened--and trust me, I don't want to downplay any of the above paragraph, because those are literal miracles that have happened in my life--there were some large goals that are very close to my heart that haven't come any closer. These goals have always been there, but I felt very strongly that this year was the time to really work on them, and that came directly from God. And there have been things that have happened this year in relation to those goals. But they are still so far and out of reach. 

I had a blessing this summer where God told me that many "drastic" changes that will majorly change my life were coming up. 2 months later, I was quitting my office job, moving to Salt Lake, and starting to really get the grad school ball on the road. Later, I had another blessing which let me know that this grad school path is not just right, but an integral part of God's plan for me. And I am so grateful for all those things, because I am excited for grad school and I have learned a lot and I feel so much more at peace about my future than I did a year ago. Drastic changes, indeed.

And yet, the first blessing was originally in response to my fears and worries about the goals that still haven't happened yet, and I have to wonder: when will those drastic changes happen? When will I get those answers? Yes, I have faith in the Lord's timing. Yes, I have learned a lot about myself in relation to these goals. But sometimes I feel like I'm back on my mission: I have all these righteous goals but have seen almost no success in them, even though I prayed about them, set them in faith, was doing all I could, etc. And then, God gives me something little, a good contact or a small miracle or a member-present lesson and I think "THIS. This is it." And then after I'm excited and faithful and hopeful, everything just falls apart. That was more or less my entire mission. Do I not have enough faith? What am I doing wrong? What do you do when God tells you to work hard and prepare for one thing and so you do and then you end up taking 1 step forward and 3 steps back? In some ways it is even more crushing to have a glimpse of that bigger vision and not see it realized then to see absolutely no success at all.

I really don't mean for this to be depressing. I am try to be (and generally succeeding at being) hopeful and focus on how much I have grown and progressed and the answers that I have received, because I am so grateful for those. I just thought about my goals for this year, almost bittersweetly, as I sat on that same bed again this week. I really don't know what's going to happen and where I'll end up and when these answers I want will actually come. But they will. 

And now I don't know how to end this post and I need to go work on finishing up a lot of things.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lack of Inspiration

After 2 months absence, I'm back. Maybe. I just don't really feel like I have much to write about right now, especially since most of my writing energy is going into grad school applications and work (the little of it that I have). My life right now is full of the mundane: sleeping, eating, filling out grad school applications, going to the library, refreshing the site I do much of my work through to see if there is any writing to be had, watching TV, going to church things, money stress.

In short: I feel like the things I'm doing right now are very important and will lead to life-changing things, but it's just not the time for anything big and exciting right now. And that's okay. But I used to be good at finding the little moments to write about. So what happened? What should I write about? Any ideas? Requests?

Saturday, September 6, 2014


The past 2 weeks of my life have been a new stage in life: I quit my writing/editing in-office job to start writing part-time from home and figuring out my life and looking into grad schools and generally focusing on me and taking care of my body and soul.

Here is what I have accomplished:

  • Books read: 2--Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Help
  • Friends skyped with: 2
  • Hours of sleep I get every night: 8+
  • Seasons of Call the Midwife watched: 3
  • Times I've worked out: 2
  • Times I've made my bed: 4
  • Baths taken: 1
  • Late-night dance parties: 1
  • Conversations about literature: countless
  • Indian food meals: 2, plus 2-3 leftover lunches
  • Russian food meals: 1
  • Times I've gone to the temple: 2
  • Cultural evenings: 2--The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and Sutton Foster
  • Blogs written: 14
  • Sister missionary companionships talked to: 3
  • Lunches or dinners with friends: 5 by the end of the day
  • Pages read in the Book of Mormon: 100+ (right on track with my old Bishop's challenge to read all the standard works--minus the Old Testament--in 6 months)
  • Times Katie and I have stayed up very late talking: 4-5
  • Hours studied for the GRE: 2-3 (okay, so this one could be better)
Although I can get kind of lonely and distracted during the day, all in all I have been very productive and I finally feel like my life is starting coming together. I finally have the time and motivation to do the things I've wanted to do for ages. I still am lost long-term, but I'm working hard to take the steps needed to get my body, mind, and soul where I want them to be.

Monday, September 1, 2014

10 Books

Found here

I have always loved to read. And so I often don't participate in crazy chain things, when a friend tagged me in a post on Facebook and asked me to list the 10 books that have stuck with me the most, I had to accept the challenge. And it really was a challenge. Trying to pick only 10 books? Are you crazy? I tried to pick a variety: fiction and non-fiction, books from my childhood and college. I might have cheated a little bit by listing two series/groups. Oops.

Obviously, I could recommend many, many more books. And you know, I'm not necessarily sure that these are my all-time favorite books. But they are books who have drastically shaped who I am today, perhaps the books who have stuck with me the most. (Yes, I realized that I just used "who" in referring to books. It wasn't on purpose, but it fits. Freudian slip?) So here's my list. I highly recommend every single one of these books; if you haven't read them....well, you should.
  1. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. -- Does this one need to be explained? Let me just say this: I can't remember exactly how many times I have read the first book. It's at least 30.
  2. Middlemarch by George Eliot -- I don't remember much of it, which I am ashamed to admit, but I do remember coming out of it a changed person, especially in my interactions with others.
  3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy -- BRILLIANT. This book is one of my absolute favorites. It's Russian, it's beautiful, it is so real and raw, and Tolstoy did not waste a single word (which is saying a lot). There is a reason this book is consistently at the top of multiple "Best Novels in the World" lists
  4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbury -- This book is beautiful, both in prose and message. When I finished, I almost turned around and started it over again. The words are lovely, the characters lovely, and it leaves you with such a love for life and all people.
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte -- Although I don't identify completely with Jane, I see a lot of myself in her. This has been one of my favorites since the first time I read it back in junior high.
  6. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare -- No, I couldn't pick just one play. And yes, Shakespeare is phenomenal. There is a reason he has lasted so long. 
  7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- One of my favorite books when I was young, I just adore the characters and the story. The first time I read it, I identified most with Beth, but at different times in my life I have connected with each of the sisters. Laurie might have been my very first literary crush, and the story is one that just remains a part of you forever.
  8. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter-and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Dr. Meg Jay -- Although I'm still figuring out my life, this book helped put me on a course to start and really motivated me in ways I didn't know I needed. It simultaneously helped me feel much better about where I was in life, while showing me how far I still need to go in the next few years--and showing me how to get there.
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -- Much like the Elegance of the Hedgehog, this book has beautiful prose and beautiful people and beauty beauty beauty. Tears all around.
  10. Pythagoras's Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender Wars by Margaret Wertheim -- I'm not exactly sure when or how I became a feminist. I know it was before this book, but this book has a beautiful narrative, is engaging, and made me wish in many ways that I had gone into a STEM field.
Runners-Up: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Farewell to Provo

Once upon a time, I was a wee lass. Of course, I didn't think so at the time. I was (barely) 18 and thought I was an adult, ready to face the world. And in many ways I was. I came to Provo thinking I knew everything, but really knowing nothing, and this beautiful place has taught me so much.

It was here I had many firsts, met most of my best friends, went on adventures, received a mission call, and came home to after my mission. Provo taught me how to think, how to laugh, how to live. Provo taught me how to push through the hard times. Provo taught me so much about myself, more than I could ever imagine. Even when it's quirks and oddities drove me crazy, it was still home. It's more home than Idaho now, and I love my favorite places here and the mountains and most of all the people.

But I've known for a while that this would be the time for me to leave. It actually came later than I originally thought--God's funny like that. And, as I get ready to leave, I'm not really sad. I'm excited. Provo has been great, and it will always be a part of me, for better or for worse. But new adventures are calling: Salt Lake, both old and new friends, and many new and exciting things.

So . . . farewell, Provo. Don't worry. I'll back back to visit, and often. I won't be far. I'm just moving on.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Can Do Hard Things

I have always wanted to be courageous and daring, ever since I was a little girl.

I wanted to climb up trees and jump off swings--but usually ended up getting up only a few branches. I wrote essays about it in England--about wanting to be free from paralyzing fear and just run up mountains in my bare feet. I struggled with it on my mission and had a hard time finding the courage to talk to people on the street or run on icy roads--even though chances were they would reject me or I would fall flat on my face. And things haven't changed since I've been home. Fear of failure and heartbreak and rejection have been much of my song in dating, school, and applying to jobs.

In many ironic ways, fear is a safety blanket. You can hide behind it as an excuse to not put your heart or pride on the line. And I'm ashamed to admit that I do that with so much of my life. I go through phases where I make bold and frenzied attempts to prove myself: not only my academic/romantic worth, but my bravery and courage. But more often than not these end poorly, with me soon retreating back to my cowardly ways, vowing that it will be at least a few more months before I apply to jobs, open my heart, or submit another essay for publication. It doesn't matter that I know I'm qualified and worthy and rocking in every possible way. I'm almost positively going to be rejected, because that's just how my life often works, and so I pull back because I can't be rejected if I don't try.

In short, so often in life I am a coward.

But that is not always the case. In fact, some friends (who know me better than I know myself) often tell me of my courage and faith. I will admit that it is hard to believe them. But at the same time--I eventually always do keep pushing on, like a masochist who feeds of emotional pain, because I know that I won't be able to live with myself if I sit idly by, fearful, faithless, and unresponsive.

As I have gotten older, especially on and after my mission, I have learned that true courage comes from faith and hope. And if that, learning to rely on the Savior, is what courage is, perhaps I really am more courageous than I though. I don't have to be daring, or unafraid of hurt. But I can be vulnerable and open and faithful, because even when the hard things end badly (as, at least in my case, they do 98% of the time), there is hope for the future, for that 2%.  One of my favorite quotes is from Eliza R. Snow. I had it on the back of one of my planners on my mission. She said: “I will go forward. I will smile at the rage of the tempest, and ride fearlessly and triumphantly across the boisterous ocean of circumstance . . . and the ‘testimony of Jesus’ will light up a lamp that will guide my vision through the portals of immortality.” That is true courage. I may not always be smiling, but I will triumph over circumstance and somehow make my way across the dark void by the light of my Savior's love.

So although I still feel fear and I still have those moments where I want to hole up, perhaps Jessie and Christine and my other friends are right. Perhaps I am more courageous than I thought. And that courage pushes me to do hard things through the enabling power of the Atonement. It doesn't make it any easier, but it makes me stronger, more patient, and hopefully more like him. Because the Savior feels our pain, honors our sacrifice, and opens a new door for us--even if that door is so far in the future that we can't see it yet. He knows it's hard because He has been there. He is right there, getting the door slammed in the face with us, tears streaming down His face at our pain. And He will plead our case with the Father until the hopeful victory is reality. He will make sure that we succeed when the time is right.

All we have to do is have courage.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The End of the Adventure

Well, the time has come. The time being the 6 HOURS I am spending chilling out. All alone. In the Phoenix airport. Waiting for my flight to SLC after my wonderful adventure to Hawaii. I figured I'd use the time to give you the rundown of the rest of my trip.

Tuesday: Now, having had our numbers cut down to 3 and being on the dry side of the island, it was our first real beach day. The sun was shining, the tank was clean . . . and the sunscreen wasn't waterproof. The story is this: Michele had sunscreen, SPF 50, that I used. Put it on, waited about 15 minutes to go hop in the water, but then I immediately spent much time out in the waves with Kate. It was lovely. And then I went to relieve Michele of her stuff-watching duties and laid out in the sun and read. That was also lovely. We then went to get lunch, where I had the BIGGEST PANCAKES I HAVE EVER SEEN, and they had fresh blueberries baked into them and on top and were delightful. Kate noticed that I was a little sunburnished, but it was just my face and arms and so I was like "No big." Then we went back to the beach and repeated the morning routine: put on sunscreen, wait, and I go get in the ocean, and then go lay in the sun. At the end of the day, Kate and Michele come back and say "We have good news and we have bad news. The bad news is the sunscreen wasn't waterproof so even though you waited and reapplied, you essentially haven't been wearing sunscreen the entire day." So much for trying to prevent skin cancer. By the end of the day, I was a walking advertisement for it. haha. That night, Michele and I nursed my hot pink body while Kate swam with Manta Rays. I was going to go with her, but, you know, serious sunburn. Pain. All that.

Wednesday: Although I wasn't going to let a sunburn ruin my trip, I did need to take care of my body. I decided to opt out of the morning activities, and let Michele and Kate go off and do their beach thing. Honestly, I love the beach, but I get beached out very easily and my body REALLY needed a break. But the best thing is that night. That evening we drove up to Mauna Kea and went to the observatory. Basically, we hiked up the top of a cinder cone (Intensity level: HARD due to being out of shape, high elevation, and mostly having a hard time walking due to sunburn on the backs of my thighs. Oops) and watched the sun set and then star gazed. The most stars I've ever seen and the most beautiful night sky, which is saying a lot because I've been in the middle of nowhere before, but this was magical. And cold. But mostly magical. Stars and a volcano. Two of my favorite things.

Thursday: Our last day in Hawaii. We headed out early so that we could try to make parking for this limited-access beach that Michele really wanted to get to. We didn't make it, but instead we found a small cove that was perfect! It had lots of great snorkeling for Michele and Kate and a lot of shade for my (still) burned-out body. Ha. Burned. We ate some great food--Hawaii has fantastic goat cheese--and ice cream, where a new local who just moved from Portland and who is probably the only person on Earth (not including celebrities) that all 3 of us could agree was cute. Then we tried the limited-access beach again and got an open parking spot. It really was beautiful. It was a fantastic way to end the trip: a chill day, mostly just spending chill time with each other on the beach. At the end of the day we headed out to the airport. The rental car had to be back by 7, but our flights weren't until 9 (or in my case, 10:45) so there was a lot of waiting. And lots of the cutest little kids all day erry day on vacation with their parents in Hawaii.

And that brings you up to date! My sunburn is well on its way to getting better. But I miss my girls. I mean, Hawaii was wonderful, but honestly, it was just the place that we happened to gather for this wedding. They were the real reason for the trip. And they were the best part.

So if you want a sum-up of the trip, here it is:

  • Great conversation
  • Good food and scenery
  • Horrible/Wonderful singing at the top of our lungs in the car
  • Lots of really bad jokes
  • The best company

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Mahanaloha--a mix of the big 3 Hawaiian words: mahalo, ohana, and aloha. This is one of the bad puns/jokes I have been making that Kate rolls her eyes and yells at.

So, although the long silence on my blog might suggest otherwise, life has been pretty happenin' lately. In fact, I am currently enjoying my very first trip to Hawaii. I might do a quick month-by-month catch-up for everything that has happened in the past few months later, but for now, I wanted to share the magic of the Big Island and my wonderful roommates. Here is my trip in a day-by-day nutshell.

Thursday: The lovely Tracy drove  me to the airport at an obscenely early hour. You know, before you hit the high point (Hawaii with your best friends) you have to hit the lowest of lows, which for me was eating a breakfast burger--glorified MacDonald's that was horrible and cost $8--on the floor of the Phoenix airport after waking up at 5 a.m. I was also really paranoid, which is unusual, since I'm usually a calm traveler who loves flying. But the beautiful ocean views were enough to make up for it, let alone the fun times with Lisa and Kate after my 6 hour flight, 2 hour wait, and then 3 hour bus ride to Hilo from Kona. We hugged each other, ate lots of good Mexican food, and talked a lot.
This is how Hawaii welcomed me--a rainbow
Friday: I woke up to the most beautiful view ever. Moral of the story: it is always worth it to pay the extra $10 a night for the ocean view. Lisa, Kate and I chilled out on the rocks, saw crabs, did mermaid poses, etc. and then went on a nice scenic drive. Kate bought a coconut from a guy on the side of the road and he chopped it open with a machete right there and we drank it with straws. We drove through a beautiful cemetery and then went out to help get the wedding site ready for the next day. Later on, we picked up Michele from the airport and the 4 of us had an evening of Bachelorette Thai food, milkshakes, and conversation with the lovely bride.
The view from our hotel balcony in Hilo

Kate and Lisa drinking from the recently-opened coconut

Lisa and me in HAWAII

REUNITED (and it feels so good)
Saturday: The Wedding! Jen and Will both looked soooooo good. So good. The Bishop who married them was fabulous, the food tasty, and love strong. It was just a small, simple outdoor ceremony and it was perfect. And it didn't rain until 2:30--half an hour after the wedding ended. Luckily. I'm pretty sure it has not stopped raining in Hilo since. And by raining, I mean dumping buckets of water everywhere. Before the rain started though, we managed to make it to the farmer's market. The wedding was draining though, so after that we went back to the hotel and took naps and then introduced Kate to the magic that is Pitch Perfect. We have been quoting it and singing its music ever since.
The reason for the trip!
Kate and Lisa did my hair

Oh how I love this girl

Me and the Kate and a leaf
Sunday: It rained and rained alllllll day. We went to sacrament meeting, and then watched the World Cup game. Still raining, we decided to go get some food and try our luck at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park anyway. In short, I can now say that I have hiked along the rim of the caldera of an active volcano in a tropical storm. Lisa and I also decided that Hawaii is exactly what Idaho would look like if it were in the middle of the ocean. Think about it. We were very wet and by this time the day was just about over, so we headed home. Lisa and I went to dinner at the local pancake house and had such wonderful conversation. When we came out there were quite literally 3 new inches of rain on the ground. That had fallen in an hour or less. I think I have seen more rain in the past 48 hours than I have in the past year living in Utah.

(I don't have any pictures from this day because it was hard to see and I haven't gotten pictures from Lisa and Michele yet)

Monday: We once again ate at Ken's House of Pancakes and then checked out of our hotel in Hilo. It was still raining, but luckily it didn't completely follow us. Our road trip finished my circumventing the entire Big Island, as we ended up in Kona for the next few days. Stops along the way included a black sand beach (where we saw sea turtles playing in the water, although they were shy), the southern-most point in the United States, a pizza place (where we read everyone's not-so-accurate but hilarious astrology information), and a beach where we finally got to play in the ocean. We checked into our condo here in Kona, which is quite lovely (and has internet, hence the blog post) and ended our time with Lisa with a nice sunset swim. Then we took Lis to the airport, with the windows down and blasting great songs.
The black sand beach

The ocean!

Southern most point in the U.S. Those waves were huge.
Basically, this trip is wonderful. Being with my ladies is so rejuvenating for the soul (although they're not all here), and Hawaii is a beautiful place. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Not the Time: An Introduction to My Thoughts on Mormon Feminism

As the title of this post says, tonight is not the time for this blog--a blog about many of my views on feminism in relation to Mormon doctrine and culture--to be written.

And so I'm not going to write it.

Instead, I am just going to say that I should know better than to expect full, Christian love from the imperfect people around me. Especially because I am not perfect. But honestly, I am tired of feeling my heart torn in two by members of the Church who condemn one another. I am not trying to condemn those who are doing much of the condemning, because I have been one of them before, I see their viewpoint. And I am so imperfect myself. But oh, how I wish they could see the pain they are causing so many people through their words and interpretation of doctrine. I wish we all (including myself) could understand the Atonement better in order to realize that Christ came to heal the sick. Which is me, and you, and those who ask questions, and those who are still afraid to ask.

Please remember that those who ask questions about difficult issues are most likely (meaning, almost definitely) not trying to rebel against God. They're just trying to reach out to Christ to find the healing they need. And these people include your family members, your neighbors, an old investigator from your mission, and that random guy walking down the street. It includes me. And it probably even includes you, in one way or another.

Yes, I am a feminist, even if I am often hesitant in publicly proclaiming it.

Yes, I support my church leaders and am grateful for them, their revelation, and their counsel.

Yes, I am a Mormon. More importantly, I'm striving to be a true disciple of Christ. A Christian.

Yes, those all can go hand-in-hand.

I will probably write a longer, more specific blog about some questions and thoughts I have on gender-equality/feminism in the Church later, on a day when it is less of an emotional question for me, and when it's not after midnight. But for now, these are the thoughts of my heart: striving towards the love of Christ. If you have any questions about where I stand as a feminist (especially in the Church), please email me. We'll chat. Until then.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Here is some news that I'm not going to try to make well-written and just say, because I want to post on my blog but I don't really have anything to say. 

Basically, I start my full-time job tomorrow. I have mixed feelings, but I am mostly excited to 1) make money and 2) have a more regular schedule in my life. In my free time I have read a lot of good books--most notably Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I have eaten a lot of good food--like tacos at Tortilla Bar and Chicken Avocado salad from Pinterest. But the days full of lounging around are done. And I'm okay with that (for the most part) now.

In other news, there isn't really any other news. I still don't know what is going on in my life after April, but now that I have a real job I am not freaking out so much about that. But nothing new is going on. That's it. Over and out.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


As lazy as I feel some days, all this down time is helping me become reacquainted with myself. Now that I have time to explore my life and the world around me in a normal setting, really since I've been home from my mission. This summer was a little bit of a break, and a good start to that but everything got swallowed up in the utter academic chaos that was my life this past semester. But here are some things that I have (re)learned about myself in the past few weeks:

  • I need people and am an introverted extrovert. I'm an extrovert in the sense that I love people and spending time with them and I draw energy off them and I really do need those with whom I have close relationships. But I'm a horrible extrovert because I am really bad at meeting new people and being myself around people I've just met, especially if I'm not with someone I already know very well. I hate situations where I'm meeting new people. There are times when I need to be alone. But I give everything I have to the relationships that I have and once I get past my awkward meeting people stage (or if I meet you with others that I already know), we're friends forever. Loving people is one of my gifts. And I need that in return from people. When I'm having a hard time, I need someone there. Luckily, I have so many of "my people."
  • I need words and music. Books and writing and singing and playing piano breathe soul into my life.
  • I am more marketable than I think. I just need to find the right place. But God might not tell me for a while, which means I might not be exactly where I wanted to be or what I had planned to be doing for a while (right now that basically means in a big city/not in Utah). But that is okay, because I will make choices and work towards things and being better.
  • I don't have to have a job or be doing something big and grandiose in order to be successful. After some lovely words from a roommate and reading this marvelous talk I realized that I have the talents and skills to bless people by just being me and loving them and working towards becoming who God wants me to be--in a completely spiritual sense. And right now I have the time to do that fully without any distractions of overworking at a job or school.
  • Sometimes I am sad, and that is okay. Sometime I am giddy, and that is okay too. Emotions are human and I shouldn't feel ashamed about them. It is okay to cry and to share my feelings with others, even/especially negative ones. I have always felt like I needed to be "strong" for other people--to hold in my tears until I'm by myself so as to not burden them with my emotions, so that I am not a wreck so that I can help them. So to not break their view of me as this happy person. But GUYS GUESS WHAT. Everyone has moments of sorrow and grief and anger and frustration and HUMANITY and that is not only okay, but it is necessary and I am not helping anyone or myself by being "strong" and keeping all that to myself. We are not weak when we show emotion. I have come to realize that it is a very courageous thing to do--to open your soul up like that to the world and accept everything that comes. Admitting you need help or a shoulder to cry on is strength. True strength is not being a rock, but being humble and resilient.
I guess this is all just more continuation of the Void. It's been getting to me the past few days, but good things happened yesterday (as in, I have another interview and also a JOB OFFER--but I am waiting to accept until I see how this other job pans out) and I woke up today with renewed conviction that 1) I will live my life however I want, 2) God will guide me and bless me, even if that includes being stuck in the wilderness for a few years first, and 3) . . . well, I actually forgot what this one is, but know that it had to do with me being AWESOME. haha.

And sorry for the HORRENDOUSLY LONG post. It's impossible for me to keep things short.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


This summer I revamped my blog to its current format. I wanted something a bit rustic and vintage, but not too much either of those things. Mostly, it just needed to be simple, and I was really happy that I found/came up with what I currently have. But it also needed a new title. Before my mission it had names like "Custard Cremes and Milk" and "The Girl with the Blue Shoes." Then I came home and was "Baltushka" for a while. But I've changed a lot in the past years, and while I still love custard cremes and milk (oh, I love milk) and I still have and love my blue shoes and I still talk a lot, none of them fit anymore.

Hence "Unsung." Singing has been perhaps the one constant in my life. Singing and writing.
A definition for you: "not celebrated in song or verse; not praised or acclaimed or honored"
Some synonyms: neglected, overlooked, unacknowledged, unrenowned, forgotten, unacclaimed, undistinguised, unknown, unhailed.

Although you could (hopefully jokingly) argue that it's kind of become the first few in that list of synonyms (another definition: neglected--a blog that wasn't written on for 3 months), I wanted it to be more of the actual definition. You know, just about the simple things in life that people often take for granted or don't think about. That's kind of who I want to be. Yes, I want to make a difference in the world. Yes, I want to change people's lives. But I don't want any honor or glory. I mean, a little recognition is nice, but it really doesn't matter. I just love people, and that's why I do it. I'm fine being unsung.

But I also love singing and writing and telling and hearing these stories of the unsung heroes and things in life. Perhaps that's the real reason I renamed my blog to "Unsung." It's a place for me to sing the songs that are currently just empty notes on a page, waiting for someone to come and discover them and give them a voice.
  • stThis is kind of what I wanted my blog to be. A simple place for me to talk about 

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Void

My friend Kate and I have this joke about "the void." I think every twentysomething is at least vaguely acquainted with it. In short, the void is about post-graduation uncertainty and not knowing what you should do. For my entire life, my parents and teachers and friends and leaders have been telling me that I can do whatever I want. And I know that I have the ability to. The problem isn't in that. It's in that I don't know what I want to do.

Up until a few months ago, I knew what was going on in my life--what I wanted, where I was going. And I did it. BYU, English, a mission, going back to Russia. But somewhere along the road, I realized that I actually didn't know what to do after graduation. Adding a Russian major and my internship helped postpone the need to decide, but buying time didn't help much. And graduation grew closer . . . and closer . . . and went right on by. And here I find myself just floating in the void.

Almost 7 years out of high school
A recent grad
Not a lot of work experience
Even less of a clue of what I want to do with life

But something Kate told me once about the void has stuck with me. Yes, the emptiness and uncertainty (especially since I've never really dealt with it before) is terrifying. But emptiness also means that there is something to fill with love and relationships and words and experiences and goodness and life and ME. So that's what I'm trying to do. I might not be able to see super far into the future--honestly, I can't see past the end of this week, for the most part. But I can work on filling today with worthwhile things; I can work on making me worthwhile. I mean, more worthwhile than I already am, because let's be honest, I'm pretty awesome. But in all seriousness, this is a time for me to not worry about the little day-to-day things, and to just focus on filling up the void with the things that I do know and love. It's kind of like I'm splatter painting in the dark, and I have no idea what I'm doing (because it's dark and I'm bad at making art) but someday the lights will come on and it will be a Jackson Pollock worth millions of dollars. Maybe. And that gives me faith in myself, in God, and even in the void. That it's a good thing and also not forever. And despite of the not knowing, or maybe even perhaps because of it, I feel like 2014 is going to be the best year yet.
Pollock's Full Fathom Five, MOMA (from here)