Tuesday, October 7, 2014

why I'm not changing my profile picture to "I'm a Mormon"

I have a million other things I should be doing right now, but I just keep thinking about this.

Many of my friends have changed their profile pictures to colored blocks that read "I'm a Mormon". You can find out how that all started here.

I'm a Mormon. That is actually something that I let define me. It's a very large and important part of my life. I, too, am excited about the "Meet the Mormons" movie coming out. I think it's going to be pretty cool.

I'm also a social media nerd. Social media is my career. I was giddy with excitement when David A. Bednar spoke on using social media to "share goodness".  I'm not sure that I actually think that changing your profile picture to read "I'm a Mormon" is wrong. What I do think is that there are better ways to share goodness.

And here's the other part: I'm getting a sense that this profile picture movement is causing a sense of divisiveness. See this Imgur album. The photo album is lighthearted and somewhat mocking this profile picture movement (and I'm tempted to change my profile picture to the one that says "I am Batman") but I think it makes a really good point. I understand that the intention of this profile picture week is to say "Hey, I'm a Mormon! You can ask me questions, I'd love to tell you about what I believe." But in some ways, it's turned Facebook even more into high school. I.e. "That's where the popular kids sit, that's where the jocks sit, and that's where the Mormons sit." You know?

Here's what I think would be really cool: Mormons being humans. Talking to other humans. And all humans sharing goodness and truth in whatever form they find it. I promise you, we're never all going to agree with everything everyone puts on Facebook. And that is OKAY! That's kind of the beauty of humanity - we're unique. AND we all have the ability to choose. To feel and to decide for ourselves. Truth is out there in so many places. I know that changing your profile picture to represent your beliefs isn't you trying to say that you're better than someone or that you know the only source of truth. I know that you want to share your truth with the world. I just think that sharing truth and sharing goodness is a lot more about creating friendships with other humans in a way that allows you to share truth with each other, no matter the source of that truth.

I'd never tell anyone they're wrong for having an "I'm a Mormon" profile picture. And perhaps I'm missing the point in some way. By all means, I could be wrong. But I, personally, am not going to change my profile picture. I will share goodness. Sometimes that may be in the form of scriptures, other times it's going to be quotes from Steve Jobs, and sometimes it's probably posting too many pictures of my food on Instagram (snocones ARE goodness). I will boldly declare that I am a Mormon, a graphic designer, someone who likes oreos perhaps a little too much. But I'm not going to replace my face with a label. I want my friends to know who I am because they know me. I am Elise.

Monday, September 15, 2014

dear boys: a love letter to nobody.

you turned to walk away and I lingered on the doorstep realizing 
that's what it's supposed to feel like
that's how it's supposed to be.
those glances,
the moments when our eyes met,
and both of us knew...
but neither one of us said anything.
and that moment of what if,
that glimpse of what could be,
is still sitting in my chest
keeping me from breathing normally
because what if is all I want
and everything after that.

your smile, your eyes,
that rollercoaster feeling inside
I can't breathe and look at you
but I can't not look at you
you're everything I want.

and maybe you're not everything
or maybe I don't know.


I know this is nothing like a traditional dear boys post. It really is to nobody. And to anybody. All at the same time. Because sometimes your brain is so full of what if and why not that you have to give it a voice somewhere. 

So, here's to unfinished poetry and love letters to nobody. ✌️

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

100 ways to be better

Let's start off with a disclaimer: I am not, in fact, going to give you any sort of list of ways to be better in this blog post. Sorry/not sorry. 

What I'm actually referring to is the constant pressure I seem to keep allowing into my life. There are always 100 more ways to be better. And I'm not here to complain about self-help or 'how to get a flat stomach' articles. I mean ways you can genuinely be better. There are always 100 of them. Read your scriptures more often, actually study your scriptures, have more meaningful prayer, be more kind to people, stop making so many rude sarcastic comments, go to bed at a decent time, eat less sugar, get up before the last possible minute to still shower and have time to blow dry your hair (most of the way), be more open minded in dating, trust your gut more in dating, etc. Those items are all for real on my list. 

And every day, I get overwhelmed by this list. Like, throw a tantrum + kick and scream level of overwhelmed. And then I don't even want to start to attempt anything on the list and then I feel like a bad person and then I add 'be a little easier on yourself' to the list and we're back at square one. 

And this week, woof. It's been a doozy. Nothing really negative has happened, actually, but I've got a lot to do (birthday party to plan, meetings to attend, 3 chiropractor visits + making sure the insurance is paying for said visits, and they declared my car totaled, so, I've got that to figure out too. But hey, new car!) Last night I had a headache, so I gave myself permission to not try and tackle the list but just relax and watch Psych. It was all fun and games until I woke up in a panic attack this morning and wrote 7 lists of things to do/buy. 

And then I came home from different events tonight and guilt tripped myself about not leaving early enough to edit the hour if video I need to edit by Friday. And I chastised myself for the frosty waffle cone I had after 9 PM. And now I'm staying up late to blog and I'm lessening my chances of making it to the gym tomorrow morning with every word I type. 

I'll get to the point: what the (insert word of your personal choice here) is the deal?? YES - we should strive to be better but were we ever meant to destroy ourselves in the process?

For the record, I'm in a pretty good mood. Life has been really great lately and I actually do feel like I'm becoming better in a lot of ways. And the more I remember that the more bugged I get at how easy it is to listen to those stupid 'you're not good enough, you're not doing enough' voices. Because guess what - I don't care if you or I have 100+ ways to be better. We ALSO have 100+ ways that we're ALREADY good. And trying. And doing. And BEING better. So loosen up on yourself. It's okay to do one thing at a time, it's okay to not be perfect today. 

Speaking of loosening up, I'm not proof reading this blog post. Because, it's 11:00 PM and I'm tired. And you know what? I'm not going to feel bad about it. Peace out, team. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

dating and donuts (hashtag:elisebrain hashtag:dearboys)

I don't really have anything important to say tonight. I just missed blogging. I also should really really be making myself get ready for bed. (Or doing laundry, because it's been an embarrassingly long time since that's happened.) But I'm here, blogging.

Let's talk about the single life for a moment. Insert the general "I know they mean well and are being nice and I take it as a compliment and stuff" disclaimer here. K, now. I'm just not sure how people think it's useful to say "Oh, he's coming! You just are waiting for the very very best. Don't you settle." and "He's going to come from somewhere you least expect it." and my personal favorite "Well, have you showed interest in my son? Maybe you should send him a message on facebook. Just say hi."

Like I said, they mean well. And at least they all think I should be dating someone, right? Mad props to them for that.

Sometimes, I don't want to be dating someone. Like, I reach this point of "actually I'm pretty cool on my own and that whole dating business is exhausting and maybe I'll just change my relationship status on facebook to 'donuts' and call it good".

And actually, most of the time, I actually much prefer the idea of dating someone. I even like the idea more than donuts when I'm thinking straight.

So, mostly there's no point to this post. And I know it's not Wednesday and I know I haven't dear boy-ed in forever, but these letters happened the other night at 1 AM and I need somewhere to share them, so, there's that.

dear no. 2 pencil,

chalk this one up to a great learning experience? okay, cool. 


dear j dub, 

I'm working on it. 


dear curly fries,

there are a lot of reasons that you are a favorite. and something from day one just felt natural. so, there's always that. 


dear potato,



dear shepherd's pie, 

no regrets. 


dear Prince Charming,

let's buy an RV and run away. 


dear blank check, 

too much, too soon. 

Love, Elise

Sunday, July 13, 2014

dross to consume, gold to refine.

Summertime has been blissful so far. And by blissful, I mean, I'm having the time of my life and staying up way too late and kind of not even feeling bad about how perpetually tired I am. I've recently had a couple nights of driving back to my apartment after midnight. There's something about driving when the world is a little more quiet and the roads are empty. I often drive without my radio on because I like having the "me time" to think. Sometimes I even talk out loud, mostly praying, sometimes to myself. Late night drives alone are my happy place.

The thing I love about these drives is not just that I have the time to really think, but also to listen. Sometimes, I think we pray, or start down a train of thoughts in our minds, and quickly get distracted by something. When you're driving, it's much easier to stay on that thought because you really don't have much else to do until you reach your destination. I've had a few great a-ha moments during these late night drives recently.(But not of the "Take On Me" variety, the radio is off, remember?)

I don't really know how this train of thought came about, but one night I got to thinking about how good I feel about my life right now and thinking about how rough things felt just a couple months ago. I want to understand what made the difference, to know how I was holding myself back, to figure out what I was learning... my mind often works in images, and the "picture" of my life a few months ago is of me clinging for dear life to a rope. Like, one of those awful gym class ropes. The "picture" of me now is of me standing on a solid, cement floor.

I've let my mind play with these pictures for a few weeks now, and I'm kind of putting the pieces together. The clinging was just that - clinging. The more I imagine about that picture, the more I realize that I felt like I had to hold onto that rope with everything in me. I thought that letting go meant falling. I didn't think I had anything to land on. In fact, in my mind, I imagine giant alligators in a big, yucky, bottomless swamp. And in my mind those alligators have names like "what if" and "you're not good enough" and "nobody wants you". The rope, in my mind, is multiple things - things like writing thank you notes, going to the temple, reassurance from friends and family, prayers (lots and lots of tear-filled prayers), etc.

I learned a lot from the clinging. I've never read my scriptures quite like I read them during those really rough months. I craved them. I needed more knowledge and more peace and I was starving for it every day. I talked to friends and family often. They reassured me and I often wrote down things they said so I could go back to that and rely on that when I had moments where I didn't feel so reassured. Things changed when I felt like all I had was that rope.

And then one day, I loosened my grip on the rope. Not to let go, not to give up, but to breathe. Because I realized I hadn't been breathing. I was white knuckling it and terrified. On one magical day, I finally loosened my grip just enough to step back and look at my surroundings. That's when I found that solid cement. It had been there underneath me the entire time, right below my feet. It wasn't moving, it wasn't going anywhere, it was firm.

Maybe this is feeling cheesy to you. I realize it might seem silly, but in my mind, it's a beautiful, visual representation of what I've learned. Things got hard and I didn't feel like my feet were on the ground. I clung to the best things - I needed to. But more importantly, I learned that you don't have to spend your entire life clinging. At some point, you have to loosen up enough to recognize that foundation that's been there the whole time. There are things you already know, solid ground to rely on - and often that solid ground was built from the very things you were clinging to.

Letting go of the rope felt wrong. Because clinging to the rope was about doing all the "right things". And I knew those things were blessing my life, I knew they were! But there is a difference between doing "what you're supposed to" and actively making choices that you deeply feel are right. It turns out that sometimes actively making your own choices is hard, really hard. Sometimes there are hard questions to ask, sometimes other people won't understand, and sometimes you may even feel like you are stepping away from all of those things you've relied on your whole life. The secret is in where you're stepping. There are murky waters with alligators and there's a solid cement foundation that's been built all your life. Trust the foundation, trust what you know, but take those steps and ask those hard questions.

The ropes are always there for times you need to cling - sometimes, you need to cling. But that foundation is also always there too. Trust your foundation enough to stop clinging when it's time to stop clinging.

Interestingly enough, this song is one of the ropes I was clinging to:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

If you take anything away from this blog post, take this: Sometimes, our pathways take us through fiery trials - it is meant to be that way. But the flame will never harm us. "All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good." Our deepest distresses will be sanctified to us and we will never be forsaken. Hold on to what you know, trust your foundation, make choices that feel right to you - not based on what you're "supposed" to do. Walk through that refiners fire with the confidence that you are gold - you are already gold simply being refined to something even more precious and beautiful.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

happiness: am I getting what I want?

I'm kind of fixated on the idea of happiness. I mean, I don't really think I'm alone. If you do a google search for "ted talks happiness" there are pages and pages of results that I'm now probably going to spend the next two weeks of lunch breaks watching. I'm pretty sure everyone genuinely wants to be happy - and we've kind of become obsessed with it.

I've always been a really happy person. Looking back on my life so far, I feel like I've had a really easy time choosing to be happy and staying happy. In fact, there have been many times when I've watched others and wondered why happiness seemed to be a struggle for them. Deep down, I know that I've had plenty of unhappy times in my life and many challenges that made it feel like happiness was unattainable - at least in that moment. Recently, I think maybe my perspective on happiness has been changing. I've had moments where I felt like I was wrong about all the happiness I'd felt before in my life. Like that may have all just been ignorant bliss. (I'll digress. I already talked about that in my last post.)

Today, I had kind of an "ah-ha" moment. Someone said something in a lesson at church that really just clicked and triggered something in my brain. I think somewhere along the line, I let my happiness become dependent on "am I getting what I want?" instead of "how am I being blessed?". Perhaps "how am I being blessed?" isn't the one secret question to being happy, but it does provide for a lot more consistent happiness. Because, the blessings never stop people. 

And ultimately, when I'm living worthy of those blessings, I guess I really am 'getting what I want'. But often it's all of the best things I never knew I wanted. 

I realize this is not the most well-written post to happen to my blog. Partially, I haven't finished processing my thoughts about this and partially... maybe it's really just that simple. Happiness might just be a lot more simple than we make it. It's a choice, it's all around us, we just have to remember that it's there and let it be the part of our life that we hold onto. 

And actually, I really want to know: how do you choose happiness - especially when life gets tough? what makes that difference in your life? 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

temple parking lot ramblings

I really love driving in silence. It's one of my favorite times to just think. Sometimes I just need a little Elise time, you know? I also spend a fair amount of time hanging out in temple parking lots. That's actually my most favorite kind of Elise time. 

Lately, things have been pretty good. I've felt a little bit more like myself in the last couple weeks than I have in a long time. But I'm also feeling strangely apprehensive. 

I bought a new car in December. By Valentine's Day, I was towing it over to the mechanic. By Easter, I'd officially driven my mechanic's rental car more than I'd even driven my new car. I did get my car back for a few days in the middle of the process only to find out that it was actually still having the same problem. So, it went right back to the mechanic. 

By the time I really got my car back halfway through May, I wasn't really even excited. I was pretty apprehensive about the possibity of it breaking down again. After a few weeks, I decided I felt comfortable about my car really being fixed. And then I scraped the side of it on a pole. 

It's not so bad really. My car still works and I'll get the cosmetic damage fixed. But in that moment I felt so awful. I finally had my car back and now the "next problem" was because I'd done something stupid. After some serious tears and a good old Dad talk, I let it go. I didn't hurt anyone, I didn't damage any other cars, I wasn't injured. It really wasn't such a bad situation and all that was in my power at that point was to choose to move on. 

And then, a week later, I got two holes in my radiator. 

This post isn't really about convincing you that I have the worst car luck ever. It's actually not really about my car. I've been realizing lately that I'm holding myself back from a lot of happiness because somewhere along the line I started just waiting for the next "car problem" to happen. 

And I'm referring to all of my life. Somehow, I got stuck in this idea of "life is hard" in a way that had me just anticipating my next challenge. Sure, life is full of challenges. That's a big part of life. But living life from challenge to challenge is not what anyone actually wants us to do. And it's not at all who I am. 

It's actually quite possible that my life is really good right now. And I think I've realized that "really good" doesn't mean "without challenges". And "really good" doesn't depend on how long things feel like smooth sailing before that hole in the radiator comes along. 

I'm learning. But I actually am still kind of afraid to believe things might just actually be good. I know that much of that is simply choosing a perspective. But somehow it feels like a "scary" choice to just believe my life is great. Because, what if I'm wrong? What if I allow myself to feel happy and believe that things are good and then everything comes crashing down around me?

But maybe happiness isn't so dependent on the things happening (or crashing down) around me. 

It used to be easier for me to choose happiness. I don't know if I just lived in an "ignorance is bliss" state of mind for a long time or if I have just finally caved and let myself become jaded. Maybe it's a combination of both. 

Here's what I do know: happiness is the object and design of our existence. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2000/10/our-search-for-happiness?lang=eng) Life actually IS really, consistently good. Because one thing I know for sure is that we all have a loving Father in Heaven who wants to bless us. Who sends tender mercies daily. Who is always always always there with open arms. And who, in His infinite wisdom, allows us to be tested and tried. Maybe I don't understand it all, but I guess I really do know that holes in radiators are actually a big part of why life IS good. 


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