Wednesday, April 1, 2015

dear boy

dear "punk",

thanks for being all kinds of cute and trying to one-up me in battles of who is nicer/cuter/etc.
I'm glad we're adorable. (and you're totally more adorable than me, ha.)


dear matty,

my heart does magical firework-y things when you smile
and also when you smirk because you think you're being really clever
and also when you tease me
and also all the time.


dear boyfriend,

you're my favorite everything.

I love you more than instagram,

Sunday, February 22, 2015

note to self: you are valuable.

I was never asked to a dance in high school. Looking back, it's definitely not a big deal. But then it was. I remember watching my friends get asked to dances and wondering if anyone would ever ask me. One dance, Homecoming maybe, I remember sitting at the computer near our front door the night before. Just in case someone decided to ask last minute. The phone rang, my parents told me it was for me, there was a male voice on the other end of the line who said "Elise. This is Harry Potter. Please stop being so obsessed with me." Click. Needless to say, I didn't get asked to Homecoming at the last minute. (I also didn't stop my Harry Potter obsession.)

Like I said, in retrospect, those dances weren't a big deal. I turned out pretty alright even without a pretty prom dress. But if I could go back in time and hang out with 17 year old me on the night of the dance, I'd bring her a giant bag of caramel kisses and we'd have a heart-to-heart where I'd hopefully convince her a little bit earlier in life that her worth wasn't defined by how many boy's choice dances she was asked to.

That's the cool thing about perspective, looking back, you understand a lot more than you did in the situation. I like to go back and read my high school journals sometimes. I've learned to skip over the pointless pages of American Idol updates (although it is kind of fun to remember how many times I managed to vote for Clay Aiken and Carmen Rasmussen in a single night.) My favorite pages are the ones where I was convinced that I was "in love" with so-and-so for whatever reason it was that day. It would be embarrassing to admit how many last names I've sampled my first name with. (In gel pen, naturally.)

I've come to love writing an awful lot. I also like to think I've become a bit better at writing since my high school days. My notes app on my phone is full of half-completed blog posts and stressed-out word vomit sessions. I've also learned to write when I'm feeling happy or grateful, so that I can remember those things when I'm not feeling that way later on.

Anyway, here's the point of this post.

Months ago, I went on a really good date. There actually wasn't anything particularly special about it, mostly just that I had a good time, felt comfortable with my date, and felt some sense of potential. I try to begin and end dates with a prayer so, when I got back from this one, I was expressing gratitude for the date and felt like I should write what I was feeling. I pulled up my beloved notes app and wrote something that has been a real blessing to look back on since I wrote it:

"I think this is what hope feels like. A moment of believing that everything I've always dreamed of could actually come to be. I feel like spinning and screaming, the lights all seem brighter, I feel like every part of me is smiling. 

I also feel this fear of 'what if I'm wrong?' and 'what if I get my hopes up only to get them crushed?' But something tells me that no matter what happens, this feeling of bliss and hope and 'maybe so' has a lot more to do with truth - it doesn't all rely on 'what if yes' or 'what if no'. I am valuable not just because tonight I feel valued, but because I am."

I actually feel really vulnerable sharing that note. Because, spoiler alert, not much more happened with that guy. And since nothing happened, it seems kind of silly that 'every part of me was smiling'. But I've had this note on my mind all day and I'm kind of impressed by what I seem to have understood the night I wrote it. Today, as I'm writing this blog post, I am valuable. Even though nothing progressed the way I hoped it would when I was all twitterpated that night, that simple date taught me something that had always been true all along.

And it's true for all of us. We are valuable. We have infinite worth that is not defined by whether or not we are going on dates, or our marital status, our employment/education status, or anything like that. That's something that has taken me a long time to understand. And somehow, separating those things in my mind has made all the difference.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

come party with me: sharing shine lunch & shirt

Not a lot of things make my heart happier than sparkles, doodling, service, and girl time. Combine #allthethings, and I'm holding back happy tears of joy. Seriously.

Sharing Shine is a community that encourages women of all ages to share their shine. The website is filled with shiny, sparkly stories that I just love reading. So, when Kelsey asked me to design a shirt for them, I was pretty much elated. 

This Saturday, Sharing Shine is hosting a "Beating Hearts Brunch" here in Logan. They'll have Fizz 'n Fryz, a valentine craft, and a speaker on self-care. So, basically, be still my beating heart. If you're free Saturday morning, I'd love for you to come party with me!

If you're not a local, hurry and buy plane tickets real fast... or at least check out the Sharing Shine website, cry over a few incredible stories, and then maybe buy a sparkle shirt. (I don't get any money if you do, but CAPSA does, so #goodturndaily).

Register for the event & buy a shirt here:

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.


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