Monday, May 1, 2017

April: Be more forgiving.

[I'm not going to lie, this one sat in my drafts for a lot longer than I thought it would. I guess I thought that after singing Let it Go for the last couple years this would come a little bit more easily--but that couldn't be further from the truth. Lucky for me, we're all constantly a work in progress, and I'm better today than I was yesterday, or last week, or last year (I hope), and this is my way of keeping myself accountable.]

Normally, I'm a very trusting person.
I'd rather trust somebody completely from the get-go and give everybody the benefit of the doubt than have loads of reservations about who I could trust with what....

but if anybody does anything that makes it hard to trust them, it's basically game over.

Giving somebody a chance to earn that trust back is something that I've always struggled with.
I have a hard time getting over things that hurt or disappointed me and an even harder time not letting those feelings affect my judgement of that person or situation.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about something that had been bugging me for a while. After several minutes of ranting, I wrapped it all up with a nice little "but I'm not a bitter."
She looked at me and said, "Well, yeah actually, you are." I argued that no, I wasn't, I was just annoyed and couldn't believe that this thing was happening, blah blah blah. She rolled her eyes and let it go (probably because she knows me and realized it was fruitless), but that night I was reading a talk by Kevin R. Duncan and realized that she was right.

I was bitter. I was still upset. I was letting this situation (and a dozen other ones), things I had essentially no control over, affect how I was feeling and it wasn't doing anyone any good.
Being upset about these things wasn't making me a better person, it wasn't solving the problem, and I can pretty much guarantee that it wasn't causing the other people involved any grief.

Elder Duncan says, "I am convinced that most of us want to forgive, but we find it very hard to do. When we have experienced an injustice, we may be quick to say, "That person did wrong. They deserve punishment. Where is the justice?" We mistakenly think that if we forgive, somehow justice will not be served and punishments will be avoided." 

I put my computer down, opened up my journal, and started making a "let it go" list; a list of everything that was making me a little more bitter, a little less peaceful, and was wasting my time to be worrying about.

I knew when I was done that some were going to be easier than others (duh, Ash).

Some were bugging me because I'm a stubborn person that struggles to admit when I'm wrong; some were on the list because there had never been any resolution to a conflict; some were there because they still hurt and affected me, and like Elder Duncan said, I felt as though there was a punishment or consequence that had not been divvied out.

But, as Elder Duncan also says, "none of us should be defined only by the worst thing we have ever done." 

When somebody does something that hurts you, disappoints you, or causes you to abandon your trust in them, it's hard. Forgiving somebody for those offenses is even harder. But shouldering those feelings when you don't have to is the hardest thing to do.

That's not to say it's easy. Or something that happens quickly (because believe me, there's still a lot of work to be done here, and it's a good thing these New Year's resolutions span 365 or I'd be really slacking), but I do know that even the small improvements I've made have made me a little less bitter and a little more peaceful.

So make like Anna and Elsa and let it go--I promise it will feel better if you do.

Monday, March 13, 2017

March: Be more grateful.

I know, I know. It's March. Not November. 
But this weekend is St. Patrick's Day, which is all about luck and I've got a lot of things I consider myself lucky to have--so this month I'm focusing on being grateful for everything I get to call mine.

I'm grateful for music and books and Netflix. 
I'm grateful for the gym and leggings and eyelash extensions. 
I'm grateful for Dr. Pepper and pebble ice and peppermint Chapstick. 
I'm grateful for nerdy podcasts and inspiring quotes and purple nail polish. 
I'm grateful for minky blankets and days with no alarms and the promise of a tan come summer. 
I'm grateful for rocky road ice cream and fireworks and boys that hold your hand in the car. 
I'm grateful for my job--and everything that comes with it. The proximity to my family and the people I care about. The flexibility that allows me to make up for the school programs and ballet recitals and football games I missed while I was at school. It's placement in an industry I know very little about, which gives me endless (challenging) learning opportunities. The coworkers that make every day entertaining and productive, and make me excited to go to work every day. 
I'm grateful for my people. For my family and the eternal cheerleaders they are. For my parents and their support and advice. For my sisters and the way they motivate me to be a better person. For my brother and our genuine friendship. For my grandparents and all the lessons they've taught me. For my aunts and uncles and cousins and all the love they give. 
I'm grateful for the most patient boyfriend--and all the things he does for me. For the time he spends with me, and getting to me. For the effort he puts into our relationship. For the way he makes me laugh (and roll my eyes). For letting me spend time with his family, and the way his nieces and nephews make me smile. For the way he challenges me and makes me a better person.
I'm grateful for the neighborhood I grew up in and all the people in it. For neighbors that have become family and for Sunday nights in the culdesac. For corner lemonade stands and family vacations.
I'm grateful for Utah State. For the things I learned in class (and not in class). For the best friends that little town gave me, and the people it let me cross paths with. For the growing and breaking and loving I did there. And especially for the way it prepared me for the real world as soon as I was ready to leave. 
I'm grateful to be a member of the Church.  For siblings that serve missions and teach the gospel all over the world. For temples that enable me to be with my family forever. For forgiveness and the Atonement. For the yearly Primary program. For a Heavenly Father that loves me. 

No one has an easy life--but I've been pretty blessed to have a life full of relatively smooth sailing, and I need to be more grateful for the things I am so lucky to have. What are you grateful for? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Days of Love.

My sweet friend Shelby has been doing this series for a couple of years, and I was thrilled to be a part of it this year!

Here's what I had to say about love (but you should read the rest of the series as well because they'll make your heart all kinds of happy). 

February: Be more honest.

I know, I know, it's February. The "love" month. I should have picked "be more loving" or "be more sentimental" or even "teach yourself to like the color pink even though you've refused to for years." 
But I didn't--because I think being more honest kind of leads to being more of those things (not the pink thing. The loving and sentimental things).
I'm also a terrible liar--so why did I choose to work on being more honest for February?

I think we all like to hide from reality behind knee-jerk responses and carefully calculated subject changes.
I'm notoriously bad at letting people help me solve problems and even worse at showing my emotions.
Being vulnerable isn't one of my strengths--but I'm working on it.
That's why this month, I'm trying to be more honest; more honest about my feelings, more honest with the people around me, and more honest with myself especially.

I think I've always equated feelings with weakness. Being vulnerable about anything meant that I wasn't capable of handling something on my own, whether it was an essay I was struggling to write, an event I was planning where I may have bitten off more than I could chew, or coming to that point in a relationship where I realized that this was good but acknowledging that would mean I had something to lose and losing is one of those things I hate.
I'm one hundred times better at helping people fix their problems then fixing my own--or heaven forbid, making somebody help me figure mine out.
But (and this is huge for me), I've realized that I make things a million times more difficult for myself if I'm trying to keep everything inside and figure things out by myself.

We (or maybe just it's just me here) in this world filled with the idea that things have to be perfect to be good. Nothing is perfect, not everything is easy, and good grief, some of us have really really bad
This month, I'm teaching myself that it's okay to have a bad day, it's okay to be emotional about things, and it's okay to really feel.
Maybe this love month will make me less heartless after all. ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January: Be more present.

I'll admit it, I'm absolutely terrible at keeping my New Year's resolutions--but I know I'm not the only one. By the end of January, they're more like really good ideas that would have been cool than things I'm actually working on to make myself a better human. 
That said, I wanted to go into this year with goals for myself, because #newyearnewme, right? But rather than making a list of things I was likely to forget or abandon in the next 31 days, I made a list of 12 things I wanted to work on, and assigned each one a month. 
Now, I'm sure that approximately 0% of you people reading this actually care, but this is my way of being accountable: my place to record what I'm doing, how I did it, and how it worked. So read away, or don't. You choose. ;) 

January: Be More Present
I'm a ridiculously sentimental person. I hate deleting photos and emails, I mark big events or my favorite memories in my planner (and then keep those planners forever), and I just barely (we're talking two weeks ago) threw away all  some of the notes and letters from when I was in JUNIOR HIGH. 
It's my way of remembering the "important" things, despite my terrible memory. 
As I was cleaning up my inbox + camera roll + messages over Christmas break however, I realized just how unnecessary all of that was. 
I'm going to remember the truly important things, even if I don't have 15 screenshots of texts about it saved on my phone. 
And then Dumbledore reminded me that "it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live" and I realized that daydreams fell into that category and dwelling on the past wasn't helping my future. 

So for January, I'm going to work on being more present. More appreciative of the here & now rather than ultra-nostalgic for the then & there. 
For me, that meant deleting the dozens of screenshots of texts that weren't important + 4-year-old text conversations with people I haven't spoken to in months because "there's some good stuff in there," clearing my inbox of two years worth of emails that I poured my Monday mornings into, and getting rid of things that had meant a lot to me once upon a time but were nothing more than trinkets with a touch of nostalgia that were cluttering my desk + the top of my dresser. 

The important things will always be there--and that's true for every part of life. 
There's just so much good happening right now that I don't want to miss a single second of it because I was caught up in what was instead of what is.
Master Oogway said it best. "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; that is why it is called the present."