Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Just a Girl

I never thought that I would be grateful for my weaknesses being pointed out to me, but lately I have been. I realized that I have so much learn, but one of my many experiences that I have had so far in my life has taught me to hope the impossible... that I can change. Now, I'm going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a little girl growing up in a big world. As she slowly grew from a mostly carefree but extremely mischievous elementary aged girl into a preteen she grew shyer by the day and by the moment. No one knows exactly why. She grew quieter, more reserved, and introverted as she moved from junior high school to high school. Mostly it was because she believed that people would just not want to hear what she had to say as well as an embedded belief that she really wasn't worth the time anyway. Occasionally people around her acted interested in what she had to say and they would ask her questions. She would perk up, smile, and on rare occasions she would carry a conversation. On the days that she just couldn't muster up the courage and in her mind, audacity, to actually speak up she would give one word answers that she figured couldn't disappoint or anger the few who stopped to listen to her. The words were common enough that they couldn't be seen as unacceptable. Soon those who attempted to be her friend and to bring her out of her impenetrable shell would give up and move on. With so little to work with how could they be her friend? Few could.

She could see that she frustrated people. She could see that she needed to talk to have more friends, but then again who would want to be her friend if she did talk? They would get to know her and then leave because she wasn't worth it. Besides, most of the time she truly believed that they left because of her, not because she wouldn't talk. So she continued to not talk, people who tried continued to try and then fade away, and the cycle continued. Lots of things contributed to her desire to change and to learn but one of the major contributers was a boy.

She moved to another new school. Her fourth since leaving elementary school. It was the first day of school and she had been dreading it for weeks. She'd done this so many times that you would think it would be easier, but it seemed to just be getting harder and harder every time. Moving through the halls full of unfamiliar and intimidating faces the thought that had been running through her mind the last little while became more and more appealing. Why not just stop trying? I can get through school without friends, without talking to people. I'll become small, unnoticeable. Then I won't get hurt and no one will have to deal with me. She decided it was the best solution, so during lunch she found a place that was away from most of the people bustling around and pulled out a book. She continued this practice for two and a half days.

On the third day halfway through lunch, a boy walked up to her and stood in front of her. She could feel her face flush red and her heart started beating so hard in her chest that she could hardly think. If I just sit here and keep reading he'll walk away. She continued to act like she was reading (since she couldn't read her book because her hands were shaking so bad.) Instead of walking away like most people would he sat down next to her and slowly pulled her book down away from her face. She felt like crying because she was sure that he could see already what a flighty, worthless, wimp she was. Her face grew hotter and she could feel the tears pushing to get into her eyes. He studied her face for a moment with his hand holding her book down. She let her arms relax when she realized she was trying to pull her book back up. His blue eyes lit up as he smiled. He had blond wavy hair and he dressed like one of the popular boys in school. Oh my! I am not cool at all. He's going to find out.

"Hi, my name's Nic. What's yours?" She sat fighting with herself. Her head was buzzing and it took a while before she actually realized exactly what he had said. He seemed so nice and she wanted to say something, but she couldn't make her mouth open. Finally she managed to mumble her name. His smile broadened.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" She shook her head and continued to smile. He began by asking her if she had just moved here and soon they were carrying a real conversation. She couldn't believe it! She got home that night and couldn't stop thinking about him, but eventually she pushed the thoughts down because he would leave too. She didn't tell her mom about him because she didn't want to try to explain later why she didn't talk to him anymore. The next day at school she had fallen back into her old mood and had almost completely forgotten about the day before as she read her book. Her heart started to race again and she felt lightheaded as she saw his shoes standing in front of her with his feet in them from beneath her book. He came back! This time she let her book drop by herself and she looked up to smile at him. He smiled back and sat down next her.

"I saw yesterday that you didn't have a lunch so today I packed two sandwiches," he said pulling the sandwich out of his backpack. She felt her face flushed bright red as she fought with herself. Do I tell him or do I just take the sandwich and smile? Eventually she decided to tell him, and she was even more embarrassed because she had let him wait so long.

"I have celiac's disease. I really shouldn't eat bread," she said feeling her voice grow smaller and smaller. Now it was going to be so awkward and he would leave. Instead he smiled and asked her more about it. After a while he offered her other items from his lunch that had no bread in them. The next day he introduced her to a girl named Julia. Julia was absolutely beautiful and she had the greatest smile. Julia introduced her to a group of teenagers that would turn into the best friends that she thought she'd never have. Since then she slowly grew and changed. After having Nic be so nice to her she decided that she wanted to be more like all of her new friends. She wanted to be outgoing enough to make a difference in others lives. Slowly through a lot of unspoken work and fighting she changed. She learned to talk to people. She learned to not worry so much about what others thought. She learned to be herself. She learned to be happy. She learned to see the good in herself. She learned to love herself and by learning this she learned to be outgoing and she made her goal.

If you haven't guessed by now, the girl was me. I was the shyest person in the world. I was painfully shy, but I changed. The only reason I changed was because the Lord knew exactly who to put in my path to help me make it. My point is that if the Lord can make it possible for me to become outgoing and leave my shyness behind he can help anyone change anything about themselves if we ask. When I made the decision to change I asked Him to help me simply because it seemed so completely out of reach. But it happened! I know that we can change. He truly can make our weaknesses strengths. All we need is enough humility and willingness to let him work with our lives and mold them to fit our desires. So as we all head into life, there is hope!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Abyss


So apparently after school starts I'm the worst blogger on the planet. It's been how long since I last wrote? Yeah, don't answer that. Life is so great! I've decided that college gets better as you let it grow on you. It's just crazy. College was the thing that scared me most until I realized that college doesn't last... then its time for life. Yikes. Now that's scary, but it's okay too. I figure I'll just cross that bridge when I get to it.

I've never really seriously thought about life after school simply because it's always seemed so far away. Suddenly it isn't nearly as far away as I think it should be. That hit me between the eyes when one of my bestest friends told me that she was getting married!
WHAT?! I'm so excited but it was still a big shocker. It just made me think about the fact that I'm growing up, seriously growing up. I'm on the edge of the cliff looking down into the abyss of life and suddenly there are very few ropes holding me back from plunging into the exciting, mysterious, death-defying craziness below. I guess two of the scariest things about it is that its a one way trip down and there is no way to keep from falling in. It will come though and the best thing to do right now is to just be as ready and positive as I possibly can. I only get to do this once. I want to do it right! Even though I'm so scared about life, I am so excited! So excited to learn and make use of myself. Or at least make more use of myself than I am at the moment.

Picture Credit: Soda Head.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh College..

Everyone always made such a big deal about going to college before I actually got there. Comments such as "You won't last long, you'll get married" or "You're going to have to work extra hard to keep your grades up" or "You are truly an adult once you're in college" scared me to death. Listening to everyone tell me what to expect made me feel like I was up in space getting ready to jump out of the rocket going at top speed without a cellphone, chocolate, or a lovely man. Okay, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration but not by much. I'm here to tell all of the future college students that it isn't like jumping out of a rocket in space at top speed without a cellphone, chocolate, or a lovely man. In fact, it's actually just fine. Now to discredit the above statements with facts. Okay so maybe facts according to Julie Munson, but hey it's my blog!

First is the whole "truly an adult" thingy. Umm... yeah of course you're an adult, but definitely not right away. Plus it isn't nearly as monumental as it seems like it should be. We've been preparing to be adults since we were little so it doesn't just all the sudden climax when you hit college. At least not nearly as climactic as the day I lost my first tooth. Okay.. maybe close to it. You definitely don't go your first day, get out of your car, and say to the world "I am now an adult!" That means I'm independent, boring, and forever considered old. Yay, exciting. No, pretty much you just feel like you moved to a different school that costs more money and where people aren't constantly on your back to get you to go to class. Big whoop. At least for me, I was pretty much as adult-like as I am now as I was before I graduated high school. Sure, I'm growing and becoming more mature
(maybe), but I didn't change drastically when I walked into my first class. Which I was ten minutes late to. whoops.

Second is the actual school work. Well, in high school I didn't do the whole just skate by and take the easy classes. My senior year I took college classes and really had few electives. This made it so that the transition from high school where I did my homework and took hard classes to college where I do my homework and take hard classes wasn't really that big of a deal. Go figure. However, that doesn't mean that the classes aren't hard. I am dealing with a math class right now that is kicking my butt! The rest of my classes are alright. I have definitely found a couple things academically about high school that I miss in college though. One of those is the relaxed feel that there is about passing classes. Yeah, you needed to pass them so that you had a good GPA and so that you could graduate but in college its a lot more serious. You have all of those other worries plus you're burning hundreds of dollars on nothing if you don't pass. Plus, if you're in my situation, that very money that is making it possible for you to go to college is hanging in the balance. So Stressful! The other thing that I lost was the flexibility. In high school if a class looked cool or of interest I could fit it into my schedule and take it. In college every class you take counts and you're supposed to be working towards your degree. Classes that do not pertain to your particular major are a money and time hole. Quite sad. Overall though the academic side of college is quite doable.

Now the last one. Marriage. Oh boy.
haha. oh boy. Yes, it is a possibility and, yes, it may happen quickly. However, there isn't some kind of a law or decree stating when the marriage is, who your partner is, or even that you have no choice in the matter. In fact it is one decision that you have more say in than most decisions other decisions. I have to live with my choice. :)

At least with my experience so far (It seems that many of my friends experiences are VERY different) the situation with boys is pretty much the same. You go about your day in school secretly liking certain boys while they go about their lives with their girlfriend who always seems to be the most gorgeous girl and all the rest of their friends. You spend your time doing homework and missing my friends Jacob, Ruthie, Jess, Tiffany, Michelle, the list goes on meanwhile they spend their time going to movies and goofing off. It really doesn't seem like much has changed. Just the expectation and the complications have changed. They've gotten worse.

Recently my brother told me that he really thought that I would've had a boyfriend by now. Coming from him that made me smile. Simply because if I asked him why he would say something like "well, you're so dang pretty. I didn't think you were going to last that long" Therefore, it didn't bother me. This opened my eyes though. Talking to other people I realized that lots of people thought that about me. I understand that because I thought that maybe...yeah. As it turns out, though, all the ones that I like are taken. I'm not going to date someone that I'm not interested in so I do my homework and try to ignore the loneliness. I have so much to focus on that it works. Most of the time.

The difference in complication is the serious level. In high school if a relationship was "se
rious" that meant they were steady dating and they might look each other up after the guys mission. Basically you would get your chance because they couldn't get anymore serious than that, and, for me at least, if they did get more serious I wasn't interested anymore. In college, though, the boys are off their missions. So as a girl you can't say anymore that you'll just have to wait til they break up and you get your chance. In college they might get married to their girlfriend and you'll never have the chance. Things just get more complicated. But it's also cool because all the sudden you can just go places with boys alone without everyone jumping around and saying "Single dating!! That's bad!" haha. That has been really nice.

Overall college is amazing. I'm learning so much! I'm learning so much about school, myself, and just the world around me. It's so exciting!! I have decided that despite all the hard things I do love college. :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Roller Coaster



I went with a group of girls that I know to Pine Valley (a little town about 45 minutes from Saint George) this last week. Some of them were friends (or the parents of friends) while others became fast friends. I loved being able to get to know them. What a great bunch of girls!! One of the various activities that we so courageously embarked on was to go to Primm (a little town-ish thing with a large resort) to ride The Desperado. After riding for two hours through nothing but desert and cacti we finally came to Las Vegas (yuck.) After driving through Las Vegas, to my dismay we drove through more deserted desert. Finally, I could see something. I had been watching the entire time for when I would be able to see the roller coaster after being informed that it used to be one of the tallest roller coasters in the world. There was a little bump on the horizon. My first thought was "Oh crap. I'm going to die."

If you know me well, you know that I have never been on a real roller coaster. Or at least I hadn't before The Desperado. Just to give you a feel for how outrageously obnoxious this roller coaster is the first drop is over 200 hundred feet tall. As you're climbing you go over a multiple story building and then continue climbing. When I crested at the top I just sat there and told myself that I wasn't going to die and that it would pass quickly. It's a 60 degree drop and the top speed for the roller coaster is 79 mph climbing to almost 4 G's.Needless to say it passed VERY quickly. I have to say that I didn't like the drop. It scared me so badly that I actually shut down for a couple of seconds afterward. No, I didn't pass out, but my head dropped and I stopped responding. However, the rest of the 2 minute 30 second ride was fine. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. What a crazy choice for my first ride on a roller coaster.

The rest of the time I spent in Pine Valley consisted of talking, playing games, and watching movies until five in the morning. I really don't know how we were still awake after two nights of no sleep, but we were. It was a blast. So glad that I got to go!

Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Buffalo_Bills_casino.jpg

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Grand Adventure


Recently I decided to take my little brothers on what we called a Grand Adventure. I got the name from Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh's Grand Adventure movie when they leave the hundred acre wood to find Christopher Robbin whom they believe to be in danger. We were home alone and incredibly bored when I decided that we needed to go for a walk instead of staying home and watching movies. So I left a note for my brother Jacob, who was at work, and we left. We (my brothers Nathan and Tyler) first went to the park that is behind the elementary school by our house. We played around on the playground for a while, laughing and screaming the whole time. Eventually the boys decided that they wanted to try out the playground that was at the park. I grabbed their hands and we started out for park.

Once we got there, to our dismay we found it to be occupied by several families worth of children. Nathan was fine with going to play anyway but Tyler didn't want to. He looked up at me and I could see his disappointment and shyness. He hadn't expected there to be other children when he suggested we come to the park. I asked him if he was shy and didn't want to play with the other children. He nodded his head. After talking for a while we eventually settled on going back to the other play ground. I couldn't believe how much that little experience meant to me. I knew exactly what he was feeling. Ironically, I had the same reaction when we got to the park. I have always been so shy, but I was prepared to just push it aside for my little brothers. It made me love them all the more to see their little personalities coming out.

On the way back to the other park we found a baby grasshopper hopping across the street. I picked the grasshopper up, which I would never have done had I been younger. I always was afraid they would eat me. Another story made up by my comrades in Elementary school. We named the grasshopper Tim and carried him all the way to the other park. He stayed with us while we played until eventually he hopped away and disappeared in the wood chips. We tried to look for him, but eventually gave up. "He's good at hiding," Nathan commented.

The boys were getting bored with the playground, but I could tell that they didn't want to leave. When I was younger, being the oldest, I was always the one that made up all of our adventures. I gave them all names, rules, and a purpose. Whether it be Lava Monster, Alligator, or Zombies. I had games for every occasion and burst of boredom. I reverted back to my childhood and created a game. My game I named The Wood Chip Monster. Original I know, but it worked. Basically I named different places on the playground such things as the Sausage Web, Turtle Shells, and The Tower. I stood at the highest point on the playground and called out the names of the places. From the time that I called out the name the boys had about ten seconds or more depending on how long it took Nathan's little legs to reach the said destination before they were devoured by the Wood Chip Monster. It was amazing how much I enjoyed myself. I loved being a little kid!

After a while I noticed how pink Nathan's boyish cheeks were and decided it was time to sit in the shade. We went down underneath one of the slides and began to bury each other in the wood chips, turning ourselves into Wood Chip Men temporarily before we burst out again. As you can probably guess we were filthy and sweaty, but we were smiling and laughing as well. After a while we got bored with that and we decided to walk again. We walked down one of the streets near our house and found that one of the houses had a row of beautiful roses along the sidewalk. Tyler stopped and started smelling the roses so Nathan and I followed suit. Soon we were grading them and came up with the champions who were awarded Best Smelling Roses and Prettiest Roses. We found a lot of trees down that street as well, and the boys asked me to get leaves from every tree for them... so I did. By the end of our adventure their little hands were gripped tightly around a bundle of various quaking aspen, oak, and other sorts of tree leaves.

At the end of the street we found an enclosure with a mare and her almost grown up baby in it. When we walked up to the fence the baby trotted over to us. It wasn't long before mama came up and pushed her baby behind her and came to investigate. When she decided we weren't a threat she continued grazing but she stayed right by her baby. The baby horse was very friendly and stuck her head over the fence to say hi. I showed the boys how to pet the horse without scaring her and Nathan came right up to pet her. Tyler, who has always been a little wary of large animals, took a little bit more persuading but eventually he began petting the horse as well. They were so cute!

After a while the we decided we'd better head home. I had my phone with me and when I looked at it I realized we had been gone for two and a half hours! We headed back home. Along the way Nathan and Tyler told me that we would have to go on a Grand Adventure again another day. I smiled and promised that we would. When we got home I made the boys drink a lot of water before I turned them loose. Soon both of them were fast asleep on the couch in the living room. I felt like doing the same. It made me wonder if maybe my life as a mother would maybe be similar to my experience that day. If it was going to be like even a fraction of that day I decided I would go through anything to get to have that. I was amazed by how much I missed being a kid. I had a really good childhood. Sure it wasn't perfect, but if I can get a glimpse of that simplicity and joy again by being a mother then I know what I'm doing with my life. (Not to mention being a teacher. :) It reminded me of the song called "Return to Pooh Corner" by Kenny Loggins.

"Christopher Robin and I walked along
Under branches lit up by the moon

Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore

As our days disappeared all too soon

But I've wandered much further today than I should

And I can't seem to find my way back to the Wood

So help me if you can

I've got to get back

To the House at Pooh Corner by one

You'd be surprised

There's so much to be done

Count all the bees in the hive

Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of
Christopher Robin and Pooh


Winnie the Pooh doesn't know what to do

Got a honey jar stuck on his nose

He came to me asking help and advice

From here no one knows where he goes

So I sent him to ask of the Owl if he's there
How to loosen a jar from the nose of a bear

It's hard to explain how a few precious things

Seem to follow throughout all our lives

After all's said and done I was watching my son
Sleeping there with my bear by his side

So I tucked him in, I kissed him and as I was going
I swear that the old bear whispered 'Boy welcome home'"

Anyway, that's my Grand Adventure. I know that I will never forget that day, and I'm sure that they won't either. Maybe it will be their memory of their big sister. Maybe they won't see me as a sister who was gone at work and school all the time and who didn't have time to play with them. I sure hope not. I was definitely glad to be welcomed home.





Judith's Poohfriends.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Twilight


"He must see how absorbed I was by him; he must not want to lead me on… so we couldn’t even be friends… because he wasn’t interested in me at all. I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting… and brilliant… and mysterious… and perfect… and beautiful… and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand."

For those of you who are Twilight fans this is the last thing in the world that you should read. I will crush all your hopes and dreams of ever having a sensible conversation about this abomination so unprofessionally called a book with me simply because it is impossible. There is no way to have a sensible conversation about how an insensible book is sensible. Duh. This does not mean that I think anything less of those who read, enjoy, or even admire this... book. It just means that I will know from then on that we disagree on at least one subject and that there is no way that will ever change.

I guess that I should elaborate on why I despise a book so excepted by the world and many in it. First, that the books have horrible literary merit, yes I'm a nerd. Second, the obsession that this book has brought into the lives of average teens is reason enough for caution. But the aspect about their power that scares me is that these books possess the frightening ability to persuade good people who have high standards to unhesitatingly drop their standards to read a book full of sensuality, violence, and less than praiseworthy characters. There, now to elaborate.

The first reason is that of merit. I suddenly really don't feel like spending much time on this subject, but I will anyway. If you've read the book you know that it is cheesy. Yeah, you know what's going on, there is a climax, and even a conclusion. But does it have to be so... sentimental? The emotions are so out of this world that they seem fake. Depression is real. Sorrow is real. Love is real. But these books convey a fantastical version of these emotions that I can't take seriously. One day at lunch my brother picked up one of his girlfriends (girl that's a friend, they weren't together. ha.) copy of Twilight. He began reading the book out loud to ultimately make fun of the book. All that I could think while he was reading was that it sounded like something I would have written when I was twelve. I'm not saying that I would have written about Edward Cullen at that age, I'm talking about the level that it was written at. I'm not saying that I'm a genius because I don't believe that it is written well enough to merit me a genius. It made me laugh. That's all I have to say. Ridiculous. If you can't see that, read it again and call me in the morning.

Moving on. Am I the only one that has noticed how many people seem to have become completely obsessed with this book? I'm not talking about the readers who read the book, maybe enjoy it, and then move on to the next book. I'm talking about the readers who read the book, breathe the characters, and live the story. The readers who are stuck in a world they've created in their mind to be like Bella's sad life. The readers who have a desire to be whiny, depressed, and completely helpless. (Not to mention mindless when it comes to "bizarre, beautiful boy[s]" who may or may not be a complete waste of their time considering the fact that said person has not even met the "bizarre, beautiful boy" yet.)

Take a look at these statistics. There are over 150 million children who do not have a home. The U-6 rating for unemployed Americans is up to 13.5%. Out of every 1,000 children born in America, 50 will die from SIDS before they turn five. What's the use reading these depressing statistics? To hopefully illustrate the fact that there are a lot people in the world and many of them are going through horrible trials. Horrible trials. I can't change that. I can't take away the hurt from each of those families as they deal with the loss of their children. I can't give each one of those homeless children somewhere to call home. I can't find a job for every deserving American. Neither can you. No one can. But it makes me wonder what would happen if instead of being obsessed with Twilight people became obsessed with helping those around them who are going through trials. What if we spent hours of our days daydreaming about bringing dinner to a family who has a family member in the hospital? What if we read stories about other people who had made a difference to get ideas and inspiration on how we can help? What if we wore shirts that said "I helped someone and I loved it"? What if we were part of Christ's team instead of Jacobs? What would the world be like if our obsession was to live our lives so that it was as close to His as we could possibly get it?

My last argument is the one I feel the strongest about. Here is a quote from a teacher centered blog called Teacher Magazine.The quote is from one of the comments. It states:
"...if they're reading, I'm happy. But more than that--if they're reading Twilight, that's a bridge to all kinds of stuff! Do they like the vampires? Hello, Dracula and Anne Rice! Do they like the fantasy elements more? Golden Compass and lots of others. Twilight has debatable literary merit, but as an introduction to reading for pleasure, it's a great jumping-off point."

I understand where these teachers are coming from. I want to be a teacher someday and have often wondered what I would do to try to get children to read, but I don't believe this is the answer. In fact, I fervently beg to differ! If we need books that have graphic kissing scenes, violent decapitations, and questionable family functions to get people to read there is something seriously wrong with us. I'd rather teens not read than immerse themselves in things that will awaken emotions and engrave ideals in their minds that will create a perfect opening for temptations that proceed certain actions. Actions that if pursued are of the highest degree of severity. Are we so blind? That's like saying it's a good thing for a shy teenager to go to a party full of drugs and alcohol and saying "Well, at least he/she is learning to socialize and getting rid of their shyness." WHAT? Does that not bring red flags up everywhere? Parents? Teachers? Anybody?

It worries me exceedingly that there are good people who seem to be able to completely over look the content in these books. Not to mention the movies! Has anyone read why it is PG-13? Take away the story, the romance, Taylor Lautner (whom many seem to believe is a "hunk") and what do you have left? This is the actual explanation that it is given for the rating(for Eclipse, the movie I have been told is "miles better than Twilight or New Moon):"MPAA Rating: PG-13: for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality."I looked up a parent review as well, but I don't really want to blog everything that is in that movie. Needless to say it is not appropriate for anyone in my eyes. We've been told that we should be supporting things that are "lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy." Is that any of those? Um... I think not, but you make the decision.

I guess that I should probably start concluding my long soap box session. I've had all of these things bottled up inside for a long time. It was nice to finally get them out. Sorry if I offended anyone. In the beginning I said I don't hold anything against those who enjoyed these books. I am entitled to my opinion and you to yours. I just believe in mine, not yours. :) Just so that you know, I have not read the books. I have read the first twenty pages of Twilight, watched the movie Twilight, and watched about 45 minutes of New Moon. If this causes you to believe that my opinion is invalid, then I guess in your eyes it will be. I won't read the books or watch the movie. Sorry. Consider what I've said. Sorry for any grammatical errors. Lastly, forgive me Stephanie Meyer for voicing my opinion which is, unfortunately, dead set against you.

P.S. I do not pretend to be perfect in any of the areas I touched on (violence, sentimentality, etc.) I was just pointing out the downfalls of Twilight. :)


photo credit: amazon.com