Monday, January 26, 2015

late night ramblings about neil diamond and kindergarten plants.

If you've ever been to a fireworks show with me, you know that I seriously love Neil Diamond. There aren't many things in life that feel more blissful than watching colorful explosives to the sound of "we're coming to Americaaaaaa TODAY!" And everybody knows that it's appropriate to shout "ba ba ba" and "SO GOOD!" throughout the chorus of Sweet Caroline, right? Because that's almost more than appropriate.

This is not actually a blog post about Neil. (Though he may deserve one.) But Neil is relevant. Because a while ago, I was stressed out of my mind, not sure what to do, and driving past the temple when the answer to my prayers came in the mental form of "Good times never seemed so good - SOW good! SOW good!" (And that's when you know the Neil obsession is potentially pushing it a little.)

But really. Sow good was the answer. And has continued to be the answer for the last several months.

"Fear not to do good... for whatsoever ye sow that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall reap good for your reward." (Scriptural reference here.)

If you ask me, that's a seriously cool promise. So, homeboy Neil and I have been focused on sowing good for the last little while and it's been great. But recently, I've been back to feeling some anxiety about my life. And by recently and "some anxiety", I mean that I often find myself somewhere in between "it's fine" and "I'm so worried I could vomit".

And what I mean by "I'm so worried I could vomit" is that I have a tendency to focus on what I don't have in my life - those things that I hope to some day reap. Occasionally, I get so caught up in what's not there and what's not going quite like I would plan, that I get all emotionally attached to these ideas in a way that I feel like I'm not functioning normally and I can't think of anything else. I focus on what I must be doing wrong, instead of all the things that are going right.

The other day, I was having a really tough time with this and praying about it. (I say praying, but it sounded a little bit more like "whyyyyyy me?" than I usually prefer my prayers to be.) And suddenly, I gained a little perspective. Remember in kindergarten when you'd take a little dixie cup and fill it with dirt and then you'd stick a few seeds in, write your name on the cup, and place your soon-to-be plant on the window sill next to the rest of your classmates' respective dixie cups of dirt? Life is like that. We're all sowing - planting seeds with hopes of growing a flower or a vegetable or whatever our seed has the potential to be.

Sometimes in life, I'm that kindergartner that just can't handle what's happening under the dirt. The one who sneaks over while everyone else is finger painting and sticks their fingers into the dirt to see if anything is happening to the seed yet. Lesson one: seeds can't grow if you're constantly digging them up. Other times in life, I recognize that I can't dig up the seed, but I try to compensate by giving the seed EVERYTHING it needs all at once. Lesson two: seeds do need light and water and nutrients, but they also need those things in moderation and over time.

Somehow, picturing my life like a kindergarten project makes me feel a lot better about things. Ultimately, I'm learning that we have a promise: If we sow good, we reap good. With that promise comes a need to understand that reaping takes time. It takes patience and it takes trust. And there's a lot of value in sowing good and taking necessary steps (water, light, patience) in the "sowing process" and then taking a step back and letting the seed do what it's best at. There's less value in constantly trying to reap things that aren't ready to be reaped. Trying to watch a single seed grow will only keep you from experiencing all the other joys in life. Stepping away for a time allows you to see the progress without focusing in a harmful way.

I sometimes feel like my blog posts need disclaimers. Like, hey thanks for the free therapy, because I really needed to get this out in a way that other people could read it so I could finally understand it myself. But mostly what I mean is thanks for reading my blog. I think you're rad. Sow good.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

new years blah blah blah

Well, I'm lying in my bed with my eye mask pushed up on my forehead (sleep diva, don't judge) because I totally went to bed at a decent-ish time and then my brain was like 'ha!' and something about killing my sleep schedule last week and I really should be asleep. Tomorrow will be my first day back at work after a very nice and long Christmas vacation. (Bless you, PTO.) 

I'm afraid 6:30 is going to come a little extra early tomorrow. And, I'm also not concerned. Because worrying about how I'm not asleep isn't making me fall asleep any faster. So, here I am to offer up my word vomit to the blog world so that, perhaps, my mind can stop spinning in circles and I can maybe get a little rest. 

I'm a big fan of New Years and new weeks (and new hours for that matter). Fresh starts are a beautiful thing. Sometimes I like resolutions, sometimes I like to choose a word of the year, other times I like the feeling of everything being unwritten and spending the year discovering what my word/lesson of the year is/was. 

I have goals for this year. Kind of just general things I want to do that I'm keeping to myself. More like it's a surprise that only I get to know about or something (this isn't a wimpy cop out, promise). And besides all that, I think that maybe this year is going to be the year where I give myself permission to really live. 

I'm probably not going to make any bold life changes in the name of "really living" (although, I won't rule that option out). Really, I just want to admit to myself that it's okay to be me. And I kind of want everyone else to give themselves permission too. Not in a YOLO way, but in the way where you tell yourself what you already know deep inside. I think we all feel something so honest, it's scary. Something telling us that we are good. That we can think for ourselves in incredible ways. That we can give ourselves permission to be what we want to be instead of waiting for someone to tell us who we are supposed to be. 

This year, I'm giving myself permission to stop needing permission. Or validation. Or check lists. Or shoulds and supposed-tos. Because I got a small taste of the power that comes from just living by what I feel in 2014 and I liked it an awful lot. I don't actually know what exactly I want out of 2015, so, no lists for me. But I do know that I want everything to be what I want. Because I want good things. And I imagine I'll probably do a few great things in 2015, maybe more than a few. And I'm kind of excited to stumble upon what those great things are. All in the name of follow your heart or whatever way you want to phrase that (and make a pinterest meme out of it.) 

So. There's that.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

you're really not the only one

I have this conversation nearly every day: "Hey, Elise, how are you?" "I'm good! Busy, but good!" And the other day, as I said that, I realized just how monotonous it is. I seriously say that every time. And yeah, I'm totally busy. In fact, every night as I fall asleep I think "Does everyone else do fine with just 24 hours in a day? Maybe they're not sleeping. Do people really get bored? Maybe they only sleep four hours a night?" and then I fall asleep before I can finish that conversation with myself. So, hey, I'm busy. And I'm stressed. And I'm never sure I'm doing enough. And 'real life' is tough.

And this is where I've lived mentally for the last year or so. 

So, last Sunday, as I rattled off my "Busy, but good!" answer about my life, I followed it up with, "Maybe I should stop saying that. Maybe right now is normal and I should just embrace it and let this be normal and let more than this be 'busy'." And then within a matter of hours I was feeling overwhelmed about life again. That night, I went to the Christmas Devotional that the LDS church does every December (it's a favorite) and all the talks were about the silent night when Christ was born and the peace that can come into our lives when we rely on the Savior and the promised blessings that come from His teachings and His life.

And I remembered that the message I have continuously received over the last year or so is this:
"Be Still"

So, I've been studying peace. And I could probably write novels about all the cool connections I've found and things I've learned (and probably, someday, I will) but I've also found some other cool things as I've read articles and talks about peace.

Everybody is seeking it. 

Each article seems to have a story that goes like this: "There was a time in my life when I was struggling with (sin/loss of a loved one/divorce/heartache/medical challenges/etc.) and my life felt like it was in turmoil and everything seemed wrong and I didn't know what to do and I had unanswered questions and I felt really alone." And those are the stories that are used to illustrate peace. 

I'm not finding stories about people who have lived a struggle-free life. I'm not finding stories about people who just have never had reason to worry about anything. And I'm definitely not finding stories about people who didn't ever doubt or have questions. The more I blog and the more I open up about insecurities or questions on my blog, the more people I meet who say "I went through the same thing!" 

I'm pretty sure this study of peace is going to be a lifetime thing. I kind of think that the blessings of peace come more from continuously learning than from mastering it. So, don't expect me to be an expert any time soon. But here is something I definitely know: peace is available to everyone. Always. And some of that peace comes from realizing that you aren't the only one. You're not that "mistake" who has all the questions and the doubts, you're one of us. And none of us are mistakes. We're humans who are learning and I'm pretty sure the learning is the beautiful part. Opening up and letting others learn with you - that takes talent, because vulnerability sure likes to feel scary. But on the other side of that vulnerability is a life filled with peace. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

dear you

Hey! Just thought you might need a little reminder of how great you are. You're doing a really good job at this whole "life" thing, you know? And that thing you're going through that's really stressing you out? Have you thought about how much better you're handling it this time? You're doing a really great job. I just wanted you to know that your efforts don't go unnoticed. You really are trying, and sometimes you're not perfect. That's totally okay! You're still learning. Have you ever thought about how good learning feels? What feels like the tiniest baby step right now is going to feel like an entire mountain you climbed when you look back a year from now.

And think about last year. Remember all those things you were worried about then? Most of them seem silly now, don't they? And the things you're still stressed about - that's because they're not silly. They matter to you. Let them matter, but don't be too hard on yourself. Those things matter because you matter.

Take a deep breath and let yourself smile a little bit. Because you are awesome.

Monday, November 3, 2014

the grown-up version of junior high

Listen. I'm not old. I know I'm not old. 26 is practically a baby when compared to an entire lifetime.
I know this.
And generally speaking, I feel pretty dang young.
So, really. I don't think this post is about feeling old.
(Although I went rollerskating the other day and oh. my. back.)

I think, perhaps, this post is about feeling out of place. And I think that might have very little to do with age. I'm currently in a situation where I've been done with college for a few years now, I have a career (someone called my job that just the other day and I was like "hold up, you're right, that's what they call what I'm doing with my life THAT SOUNDS SO GROWN UP ICAN'TBREATHE."), and I'm still living in a college town which means I'm still hanging out with in college people.

But I'm not in college. So, somehow I feel like the misfit. I don't have any reason to go to the library or really hang out on campus much so then my brain tells me that all my friends are like "you can't sit with us." And I've officially reached the point of life where all those friends who said they weren't going to get married for a while and probably wouldn't start having kids until they'd been married forever have started announcing their pregnancies. And I have other friends who sent kids off to kindergarten this year.

And, let's be honest, I'm kind of grown up. Not all the way, but kind of.

It's possible that the biggest stress is actually the fact that the "next steps" are either entirely in my control or really dependent on someone else's agency. Example: I could up and move to Arizona. Or Rome. And that would be pretty much my very own, big-kid decision (read: scary). And on the other side of the example spectrum is marriage. (Which is actually, in my mind, the kind of next step I'm looking for.) And that's a whoooole lotta dependent on someone else's agency (read: scary).

So, I'm hanging out in limbo land a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I love where I live, I love my still-in-college friends, I'm pretty in love with my life. And I'm still doing what I'm doing very intentionally. This is where I want to be. But that doesn't take away all the feelings of something missing.

Realistically, things are great. I know my life is on a really good path, I know that God is a big part of that path, and I do genuinely trust Him. But there is also a lot of outside pressure and conflicting messages coming at me from all sides: do what you want! marry young! be a female entrepreneur! try tinder! move to a new place! stay in your first post-college job for at least three years! And this voice in my head says: "Nah, just do what you want. Do what feels right." And that feels good, but also feels like going back to square one because a lot of what I want is a husband and I can only do so much (plus, also, I don't actually want to be desperate).

So, hey. That's life, right? Recently, I've been reminded that I'm actually only 26. I'm not supposed to have the wisdom of my grandmother, I'm not supposed to have the maturity of a mother of four... I'm in my mid-twenties. This is the figuring things out stage of life and maybe, just maybe, this 'limbo' stage that feels so awkward is actually the part where I break through the struggle and get to some destination of knowing who I am and what I want and how to be okay with what I have right now. Rome wasn't built in a day, tinder doesn't solve your dating problems overnight (or maybe ever, I broke up with tinder last week), and life doesn't figure itself out in one blog post.

And when I get too stressed about feeling out of place, I just remind myself that I did actually survive junior high, so, I totally got this.

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. ✌️


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