Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Laments of a Bike-Rider

Gas is expensive.
Exercise is healthy.
Parking on campus is a joke. 

These are only a few of the reasons that college students like myself choose to bike to their university campus rather than drive. And if you live close enough, why not, right?

I don't start classes until next week but I have started my campus job, which is great. I decided I would ride my bike whenever possible. Well. Riding my bike is great and I love it and I'm not about to start driving a car to school. But every bike-to-campus-er has moments where we start to wonder...what in the WORLD was I thinking?

It all starts off great. I'm leaving on time, I've got everything ready to go, I'm wearing a decent outfit for work, and things are looking up.

About 20 seconds later I have picked up significant speed and I am now realizing that 7:40 am can be quite chilly, even in the springtime. In fact, I can't feel exactly my face or hands anymore. Then it doesn't take long for icy-wind-tears to begin streaming down my cheeks. I imagine what anyone who sees me must think - she really really REALLY doesn't want to work, her car got stolen, her parents just kicked her out, who knows. 

A few minutes later I arrive at the uphill part of the journey, which is great because I start to warm up. Then it becomes not-so-great when I realize that I'm panting and beginning to sweat. NO! I need to be composed and nice-looking for work! Oh well, it's too late to take it slow. I left "on time," but on time for me is most people's "barely making it on time". By the time I park my bike, lock it, and walk up the stairs to the campus office where I work, I have already thought through possible parking scenarios for the next day. 

By the end of the day, I'm actually looking forward to some quality time with just me, my bike, and the sunshine. 

Once again, it only takes about 20 seconds for me to realize that weather conditions are not 100% desirable. I mean, it's a beautiful day outside. But then I start pedaling up a seemingly endless hill and start to wonder why in the world I even own any sweaters, and WHY did I wear one TODAY? Oh, right, because I definitely needed it in the morning. Tomorrow I'm wearing a cardigan and short-sleeved shirt, problem solved. 

The next day I do it all over again and as planned, wear a cardigan so I can ride home in short sleeves. It's still too hot. Then a nice cool breeze comes along to help me out. It's nice until the cool breeze turns into a full-on headwind. It still cools me down but it makes me work so much harder that you can hardly tell. Then that headwind brings a lovely surprise that almost makes me change my mind about the whole saving money on gas thing: A FLIPPING BEE GOES DOWN MY SHIRT.

If you know me at all, you can probably imagine what I did here. I am infamous for talking to myself, especially in stressful situations. I kept pedaling, but gradually slowed down as I got more and more worried. I was clutching the handlebars with one hand while the other held the little fiend trapped between two layers of fabric. I said repeatedly, "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO" and "OHMYGOSH OHMYGOSH OHMYGOSH" until I came to a stop and was able to remove the threat of a lifetime. I was, by some twist of fate, stopped right in front of where my best friend used to live. I don't know who lives there now, but I'm sure they're well acquainted with me by now. I did spend a good few minutes outside of their house doing a sort of "scared-out-of-my-wits-get-out-of-my-shirt-dance" and shouting "BE FREE, BE FREE!!!" to that sneaky little bee. It finally came out and flew away. I took a few deep breaths, took in my surroundings, and decided to remove myself as quickly as possible. After catching my breath and walking a few steps, I hopped back on and fought that headwind for the last stretch before my house. 

I arrived at my house sweaty and panting even though it was only about 70 degrees or less outside. And I decide that I need to start actually exercising. 
And even though it's uncomfortable and whatever, I somehow actually enjoy all this stuff! I love almost freezing to death, then nearly passing out of heat exhausting, and being attacked by wild creatures. 

Sometimes things are harder and don't make us feel good immediately. But once you are able to do it consistently, you can see all the good things coming from it and you feel a great sense of accomplishment. That's how I feel when I realize how much money I've saved, how much healthier I feel, and how many more crazy insects (mostly just bees) I have overcome. 
Yay for bike rides!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Scenes from a Stellar Spring Break

One of the perks of being in post-mission-not-in-school-yet-limbo is that you can go on vacation whenever you want, since you're essentially already on vacation. BYU is infamous for not having a Spring Break. But ha, ha, I got Spring Break anyway this year. We went to Lake Powell as a family (big surprise) and it was perfect.

The last few weeks had been kind of tough (doing nothing but scrapbooking and going to ward activities takes its toll after a while and you start to go craaaazzzzyy...), and even though I thought I was relaxing, I actually needed to get to Lake Powell to truly relax and recharge so I could feel ready to move forward, start working, start school, all that good stuff that's happening now. I don't know what it is about that place, but it's like a fountain of youth. We go there and we feel healed, even if we encounter countless mishaps and unplanned delays or challenges. Boats break down, people get sunburned and sore, sometimes we get ourselves into dangerous situations. But that doesn't keep us from loving it and feeling like we're in heaven.

I don't know what it is about this special place, but I absolutely love it. Here are a few pictures from this most recent trip (though the family computer has about 1.5 million similar photos from over the years).

We arrived late at night and had to creep through the lake to the houseboat, hoping for all we were worth that Nessie hadn't migrated to Glen Canyon.

Luckily we all survived and were able to sleep well that night. The next day we went out exploring in a nearby canyon that we often hike through. I love those canyon walls oh so much. 

Then we returned for lunch and had all afternoon to relax while a few people had to go into town for a few things we had forgotten to bring. We all sat up on top of the houseboat, soaking in that sunshine like warm honey right out of the microwave. I had a strict rotation to follow: 
read a few pages, sleep 30 minutes, take some photos; repeat. 

(photo cred goes to my little sister who thinks she's funny taking pictures when I'm not ready and then they end up being ALRIGHT)

That's why Spring Break at Powell is so great. The water's too cold to do any water sports or swim much, so there's plenty of time for just lounging around. There also are hardly any other people on the lake. And it's great just separating yourself from responsibilities, social media, pressures, decisions, and all the things we face in everyday life and just clear your head. I never understood, until now, how taking a vacation can do that for you. What a magical thing. 

The next day we had another great adventure exploring more canyons and, of course, fishing! I "caught you a delicious bass," except I don't know if it was actually delicious because it just a little smallmouth and I threw it back. Then we decided to go swimming. I lasted for about 3.7 seconds in the water and decided that I'd had enough swimming for the day. Lake Powell's April water isn't exactly the same temperature as its July water; shocking, right?

Then the next day we went for one last hike to another one of my favorite spots. 

We returned, cleaned the boat, packed up, and headed out. I was so exhausted the only thing I wanted to do was sleep. But as we were loading up the truck, my sister reminded me it was my turn to take the least desirable seat in the truck. The cab of my dad's truck has a seat in the front between the driver's seat and the passenger seat. It's kind of like banishment - whoever deserves a punishment, or in my case, just has the shortest legs, gets that seat. I acknowledged that yes, indeed, it was my turn, since she had ridden the whole way down in that seat. 

You might be thinking, "Wait! But if she's your little sister, shouldn't SHE have the shortest legs?!" I know, that's what I said. But some unfortunate discrepancies sneak up on you while you're out of the country, one of them being your youngest sister growing taller than you. It's no big deal, it's not that bad. When she bugs me about it I just look at her tauntingly and say "Well at least it'll be easier for me to find a husband who's shorter than I am! Ha, HA!" and turn away and go cry in a corner. 

Of course, there's no comfortable way to sleep in that particular spot, so instead I talked to my parents the whole 6-hour drive home. Luckily I survived. Just kidding, I actually really enjoyed it. I don't think I've EVER made it the whole drive home without sleeping. This time I was forced to. I didn't even read or do anything. It's crazy. Anyway here I am, not very well rested but 100% rejuvenated. 

I don't know if I'll ever really know what's SO great and SO relaxing about Powell. It must be because it's so familiar but still an adventure every time. This time was surprisingly calm and uneventful - we usually have SOME kind of mishap. It was just what I needed before diving back into work and school. I'm sure it won't always be like that (we're overdue for some malfunctions or something soon), but I enjoyed it while it lasted. 

Just a little end note: I was feeling too lazy to do any photo editing so what you see here is PURE NATURE. I LOVE NATURE.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

High, Low, Filo Dough

This doesn't actually have anything to do with filo dough, I just wanted to rhyme. 

It IS about highs and lows, though. That's just what happens when you get home from serving a mission. 

"Let me explain.
No, there is too much. Let me sum up." (- Inigo Montoya)

I can't really tell about everything that happened in the last 18 months, but if you're curious, my mission blog is still 100% intact. You can find it HERE. 

But now that I'm back, I've decided to resume the blogging (by request of some, but mostly because I just like telling everyone about the weird stuff I think about). I've loved being home, but life is never easy, even when it seems like it should be. 

The first couple weeks home were awesome. I didn't admit in my emails how difficult being a missionary was for me. I had some very wonderful experiences and I learned some amazingly valuable lessons that I couldn't have learned anywhere else. I'm so grateful for how much better I was able to understand some parts of the Gospel, the Scriptures, and God himself. But there is always opposition, of course, and if I'm going to progress so much, I have to also go through a lot of difficulty. Unforeseen health issues, challenging companion relationships, and less-than-civil strangers are only a few of the common mission challenges that I (and all missionaries) faced. Arriving home to a family that loves me for who I am, is much more excited to see me than your average Chilean citizen was, where I don't have to follow a schedule, I can go to the temple whenever I want, I can sleep as long as I want, etc. was relaxing to say the least. 

I think what it comes down to is this: I expected too much of myself while on my mission and I was not able to enjoy my service as much as I should have, and coming home to a brief period where I basically had no expectations was like being able to breathe again. 

This was fun for a couple of weeks, as was seeing my cousins, friends, neighbors, and everyone else. But boredom is a dangerous thing, and I did everything to avoid it. With several months until being able to enter school again, I decided to apply for as many jobs as I could, attend the temple anytime anyone invited me, go to every ward activity, practice the piano, make hair bows and add lots of Etsy listings (view my shop here: ArbitraryArray), cook, read all the books I had been meaning to read, go on 5K runs or several-mile-long bike rides, scrapbook, make cookies for people, organize mission photos, sew new clothes/alter old ones, learn a new language by reading the Book of Mormon in Italian, write to my missionary friends who are still out, and most of all, find out who got married while I was gone and look through all their adorable photos on Facebook. (Seriously, I probably shouldn't calculate how much time I spent doing that my first couple days home). Eventually I secured a job on BYU campus, which I can't start until I'm closer to entering classes. And eventually, boredom set in. It's such a dangerous thing. Even though all those aforementioned things are plenty to fill infinite amounts of time, sometimes you just don't feel like doing any of it. 

Boredom is such a weird thing. It's not like there's nothing we COULD be doing. You could learn a new musical intrument, learn a new language, clean your house (your mom would love it, too), volunteer at just about anywhere, etc. etc. But being bored, I'm convinced, isn't about not having anything to do. It's about not feeling like doing any of the things you could be doing, or not feeling motivated. What an awful thing. After the excitement of being home wore off, I started feeling like that. I started staying in bed loooonger, while "reading" (but mostly sleeping). And mostly just lazying around. I still did some of my listed productive things, but you can only do so much when you just don't feel like doing anything, you know? 

Ha. Isn't it terrible that we sometimes have such limited vision that we decide to do nothing rather than do something? This is what leads to less-than-ideally-productive times. When I started falling into this, I began to create goals for myself, which I usually didn't keep, if I'm being honest. But I still haven't had a day where I stayed in my pajamas and didn't leave the house once, so I think we're doing okay. And I will never have time to relax like this again in my life! (Yikes that stuff scares me). 

Then a few days ago, I realized that I should just focus on music. I absolutely love music. Listening, playing the ukulele or piano, and especially singing. So I both auditioned for BYU Noteworthy (the 9-member a capella group) and played at an Open Mic Night in the same day. It was fun and exciting and got me excited about something once again. I never thought I should pursue music too much because I always thought I would never be a professional and as a hobby I just wouldn't have enough time. But it got me so excited these last couple days just to be doing something that I love! I didn't make Noteworthy (not even close haha) but I don't feel bad. It was an experience that built my confidence and made me realize how much I really want to be involved in music. Still not as a profession, but I think it's worth my time as a hobby. You'll most likely be hearing more about this, as I have made some goals to finish original songs I have begun writing and will want to share when they're done. 

I didn't expect this to turn out so lengthy, but I guess life is full of surprises, right? I just want you all to remember that life has its highs and lows. That there is something to be grateful for every day. And sometimes we can't really explain why something is so hard, but it just needs to be hard so that we will evaluate ourselves and decide to improve something. (Like me deciding that maybe I was so "bored" because I was spending waaaay to much time with social media. Yesterday I deleted the Vine app on my phone because...dang, some people on Vine are just toooo funny and you stay up watching their videos for hours and hours and it's just, yeah). So here I am, not feeling like I'm back to my highest level of happiness, but excited that I will be starting work soon. It's been fun to just relax and do some things I've wanted to do. I'm so grateful for every opportunity that I have to be better even though I miss most of them. 

Stay tuned, I have some things I've been wanting to write about that I'm really excited for. And thanks for sticking with me and reading all this! I have the best people following me.