Saturday, December 31, 2011

Partying It Up New Year's Eve!

I don't know what any of the rest of you did New Year's Eve but I can tell you this, my night was as my sister would have said it... pretty bomb-diggity. I got to spend time with my parents. My sisters partied the night away... away from us so there was less drama. We listened to the party going on at Times Square as we waited for the ball to drop and we played games and drank Martinelli's Sparkling Cider. That is right... Mormons party rock!

But seriously, we had a lot of fun. We laughed and enjoyed a good night. Dad got a little action when he thought it was midnight so he may have been a little eager beaver in kissing his sweetie but that is my parents for you. And yes they did so with crazy 2012 glasses on. Earlier in the night we played a game I bought called Munchkin. And it is just plain hilarious! Even the rules are fun to read! But even though my dad one the first game, I ended up winning the second game after a drastic comeback. It was a hard fight to the bitter end but I came off victorious. It is slightly complicated so I don't know how much fun my mom had but I think my dad at least had fun. Who can't laugh when they are fighting Wannabe Vampires and Shrieking Geeks when they armed with a Horny Helmet, Boots of Butt Kicking and their Potion of Halitosis?

Also I decided to start a couple of books before I fly back to Provo on Tuesday... The Hunger Games (no one tell me how it goes because I think I already have had enough of them spoiled by my sisters) but first I am going to finish The Alchemist. So far it has been really good and I think everyone can get something out of reading it. It speaks to everyone differently and to each person differently through out there lives. It has many life lessons that it teaches through the experiences and attitudes of the interacting characters. It really is fascinating. It is almost like a a modern version of the Canterbury Tales.

In my own defense, I promise I am normal... But this may just prove that it might take one special girl to help me out with number five of my eight New Year's Resolutions for 2012.

Getting Ready for the End of the World

So I figure that when it comes to New Year's Resolutions and the fact that according to the Mayans and popular opinion the world ends this next year, my goals better be pretty lofty! Go big or go home! Know what I mean?

Remembering that these are goals will be a little large and I have a whole year to accomplish them (keep that little tidbit in context of the goals...) I want by the end of 2013 to have done the following:

1. By the end of this upcoming Winter Semester, I want to still be eligible for a scholarship. As a mechanical engineering major that means I still need to be up around a 3.55 GPA. I want to take either the GRE or the ME Exam next year.

2. Also when it comes to education, I need to apply for graduation next year! I didn't think I would be saying that any time soon since I feel like I am still in the middle of all my classes. But I also need to figure out when I am going to start checking out colleges for graduate school so I can get a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering. So far, I think I will be applying for the University of Utah, UCLA, Ohio State, etc. So yes, my first choice of colleges to transfer to from BYU to is going to be U of U. I will pause for a moment to await the befuddlement and confusion.

3. The other thing I need to figure out is if I can set up an internship for this upcoming summer. I am still looking for a good place to go but to be honest, if I did just go back to my last summer internship I know my supervisors and coworkers well enough that if I wanted time off I could ask for it while still getting good work experience.

4. Most people would ask why in the world I would be asking for time off... well, let me tell you. My family travels a lot and they are going on a cruise without me during the Spring Break this year. BYU doesn't have a Spring Break and on top of that I also have never been on a cruise! So this summer I may want to take two weeks off and go visit friends. So I want to do a little traveling!

5. I also am going to be turning 24 this next year and kinda like my roommate Ryan, it would nice not to become as it is called in LDS pop culture, a menace to society. If the situation right and it happens that I am dating the right girl, I would want to be engaged or married this next year (If you can't figure this one out... this would be the lofty goal.). I don't know if it will happen but I will try to be patient and see what happens. So I guess a more realistic goal is that I want to be dating someone seriously this next year and if this happens, then it will be a great blessing in my life.

6. Be able to manage my time a lot better. There is going to be a lot of things taking up my time next semester and I need to stay on top of things so I get the most out of my day and I don't end up wasting my own time. I had to quit my job as a research assistant that I had last semester because this next semester looks like it will be very difficult. Between classes, dating, and just taking care of business at my apartment and in my ward, I may be pretty tired which is just an easy prediction that I am planning on making now.

7. Along with managing my time better, I want to manage my health better. Apparently my doctors want me to do a couple of things. As a diabetic I should have only half of the food that I eat at any meal be carbs. Well I can tell you right now that never happens. So I need to fix that for sure. Then I need to test more, even when I am on vacation. And finally, I want to make time for daily exercise. Whether that consists of push ups and sit ups at night or a run, if my 50 year old dad can do it... then I can do it.

8. This next year I am planning on taking a Doctrine & Covenants class but I want to also read the Book of Mormon this year. So whether I start now or I create a reading program for myself over the summer. I want to finish the Doctrine & Covenants and the Book of Mormon this year. Maybe if I try a little harder with this goal, then maybe God will help me out a little more with goal #5! We can always hope, right?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Choosing for Ourselves

Tonight's post is going to be a lot of abstract thoughts I have been having lately, mostly about perspective. I am always a thinker and a dreamer so I typically have a variety of thoughts running through my head at all times, which can be odd. I am told that most men can't think about more than one thing at a time which is probably true, so what I just need to do is focus on directing my thoughts so I can choose where I want them to go. Anyways that could become a post of its own in its own due time but right now I want to talk about our choices.

I was watching a few videos tonight before I went to sleep and some of them put my own personal beliefs in a poor light. The thing was that the people who professed to know so much about my beliefs really didn't know much about them at all. And though I wanted to comment and take a stand and a side, I realized that people can choose what they want to believe. If they wanted to really know they would ask and go to the source. And the best way to do that is to go to those who have those certain beliefs, find out from them what they believe and then go to God ask if it is true. What better way of going to the source then that. So if people want to mock, belittle, or try and destroy the faith of others, they can try because that is their choice. But it was amazing how many of these people did not believe in anything themselves... nothing at all. What a cold and dark way to exist not believing in love or light... Because faith in God brings both. People can choose to love themselves but that isn't truly love at all. Love is not selfish like that. I can't really say that I understand it myself because at times I have been childish and thought that I could go from one heart to another, like a boy with a toy who would play with one and then move on and expect that he could play with it again whenever he returned. That kind of love is selfish and insincere. I don't want to be like that ever again and so I thank God that we can repent and through that process change. Christ never loved like that. If people truly knew the Savior and understood His mission, I think we would begin to act a little differently.

And by acting differently I mean we would make our own decisions, choices, be our own person. Many times I have thought to compare myself to my parents, my grandparents, my namesake. The thing is that we make our own legacies. I am not my dad. I am not my mom. Not that they are bad people but the fact is that I am my own person and I choose my own life. I chose what I wished to believe in, who and how to love, and in the end I will write my own story. I just hope that by the time I am through, it will be worth reading. But I guess what I saying is that you are not defined by who you are, where you come from, or even the people you surround yourself with... you make your own choices. We choose for ourselves. We can create for ourselves our own life just as people can choose to either accept us or reject us. But in the end, the beauty of the whole thing is that no matter what happens in life, you have a choice. You can choose whether you see the rainbows through the rain. You can choose to smile. You can choose to stand and fight for what is right or take the easier path. But in the end it was always you who chose and no one else. It will be and always was you. You got to choose.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Unexpected Reunion

This Christmas season has been a real blessing. I have been able to spend a lot of time with family and with my siblings, our family getting bigger, relatives coming home from abroad, and others moving away, there is a lot of changes happening. Because of all this it has been amazing to be able to spend quality time with my family this last week and should be the same next week too. Family is where home really is. It isn't a place but the people that make the place feel like love because the love is real. So anyways, this week I can't really say that I feel like I have done a whole lot. I mostly help my mom out, sleep a fair bit, and then spend my afternoons and evenings with the rest of my family.

However, one of our traditions around Christmas time is baking poppy-seed bread with an orange glaze and then delivering them to our family and friends along with caroling to them. If for nothing else I travel back home to New Hampshire every Christmas for that bread (just kidding... kind of). But seriously, it is delicious! One of the families we decided to deliver to, we met through wrestling in high school. I wasn't the biggest kid on the team but I had spunk. I would practice with their son Alex a lot and we became friends. They aren't LDS like we are but they are an amazing family with strong values and relationships. Since I love them a lot, we decided to bake them one too. When I drove over and knocked on their door, they were surprised to see me and invited me right in. After hugs and handshakes from everyone, we began to catch up, swap stories, and the time just flew. It wasn't until I got a call from my dad that I realized how much time actually had passed, excused myself, they thanked me for the gift, and I was on my way. But it was so nice to catch up. To be able to see familiar faces and see how happy they were.

When I think about my relationships, I want them to be like that... an unexpected reunion. I think I will know when I found the woman I want to really get to know when it feels for both of us that when we first meet that it was like meeting an old friend. I feel like if I met someone like that I would be willing and would want to hold onto them forever. In the end, I know that I have always wanted two things in life: I want to be the best future husband and father as I could be and I want to marry my best friend. And if I had to guess what she would be like... She would be as crazy as me and we would be crazy about each other. We would make each other laugh, she would be witty and sarcastic, but if she truly was like me, she would be a dreamer. And I would do anything to help us live our dreams together... I don't do so well with distance but I am trying.

Not that I want distance between me and the ones I love, but distance can be a good measure of the trust and strength of a relationship. The thing about distance is it either does one of two things: the flame of a relationship reacts only one of two ways to the breeze of distance. If the flame is too small it is extinguished. But if the flame is large enough the air will give the fire strength and it will grow. And if I throw another analogy into the mix, I can't let my fears get to me. Sometimes I am afraid that people won't accept me so I hold so tightly that they can't breathe and so they push away. It is like holding a bird; you need to hold on only tightly enough that it can't fly away and it will feel safe. Still, I think that is the feeling I want it to feel like, as strange as it sounds, an unexpected reunion.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stay Strong

I don't know what it is but when it comes to talking about my religion, I don't hesitate. There was a friend I made a while back who is a recent convert to the Church. She isn't from the States so she has an especially tough time and I think I understand a little bit. I have visited her country before the wards were a bit sparse and the members were either totally gun-ho and maybe a little over the top or you never saw them because they never came. I didn't know exactly what to tell her but I was able to talk her through a few things and help her see that the happiest she has ever been was when she was going to Church.

Making any major life decisions like that come with a honeymoon stage... marriage, college, conversion, moving out on your own, etc. There is period of time when the feelings are all still new, there may be some attention you receive as people help you through the adjustment period, etc. But then there comes the period of time when that all has worn off and you have to stand by yourself and face you decision and continue to move down the path. Don't get me wrong: The joy hasn't gone away but the attention and newness has. If it really was your choice all along, this is the time that will be tested. In her case, it was almost more than she could bear. Her home life was not always the type that you would have thought would have been standard of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but that was the beauty of conversion. People change and we can continue to change and improve. This was the miracle of having the Spirit in her life. I won't share all any more of her story because she is still living it and it is her story to share, not mine. I was just an instrument along her path that was there to help her stay strong. Not to endure... but to endure well.

If you ever have found yourself at a point where you begin to doubt yourself or think you should turn back, take a moment to see where your choice is leading you. Who are you becoming? Where will you be when you finally have achieved your goal? If these are things you believe you need to do, things that will make you a better person, help you find fulfillment, purpose, joy and happiness in your life and by accomplishing whatever it is bless the lives of the people and strangers that surround you... make sure your path is straight, steady your course, and then push on through. Because if it is a good decision then there most likely will be some opposition so you will have to push on through. And even when you feel like you are alone, just know that you are never alone. There are people all over the world that fight similar struggles. And in this season, remember there was one Man who faced your struggles, your temptations, fought your fight, and He will never leave you if you will but let Him into your life. Christ is Our Savior. Let Him play His role. Let Him in and He will make you strong. He will help you rise to the occasion. It is up to us to stay strong.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Friend Effect

I am sure this will be surprising to all of you in the fact that this post is not to give a discourse on some unsuccessful dating experience. Actually this is exactly what the title says it is about. What exactly is the effect that friends have on us? I was having a discussion with one of my amazing friends whose opinion I respect very highly about the subject and I started to think about it.

No matter who your friends are they always have some sort of an affect on you. Maybe they are the type of people who lift you up. They are always there to give you a kind word when you need it. They are the type of person who naturally is always happy so being around them just has that rubbing-off effect. Sometimes they aren't always the best influence and you are the lifting influence. Maybe if you aren't careful their bad habits begin to wear you down. Your standards begin to fall a bit more each time you are together. Sometimes however you can even learn from these experiences! You learn to be more accepting and less-judgmental. You gain a different perspective of a certain situation in life. But overall, I think we are always looking for someone that is a positive influence on us. Life is tough enough that to have the support of your friends is something that I think we all rely on.

What are you doing to improve? How are you affecting the people you surround yourself with? Are you the positive influence or have you become a negative one? I began a bit of self-discovery or self-reflection. Recently, I have been trying to focus on my studies as much as I can. Finals week was last week and it was full of books, hours spent in the library, and taking worthwhile breaks with my friends. But if I look even further back, I am trying to improve. I know where many of my weaknesses are and I have been trying to spend more time building them up. Whether that means I take extra time on my knees in prayer, a little more time on my toes on the athletic court or field, or maybe just testing my blood sugar a bit more often, no matter what it was I am on the right road. Mentally and emotionally I am doing better as well. I date a lot. My dad and mom can attest to the fact as they typically are in the front row seats of the highlights and failures of my social life. I have this ability to bounce back from heartache or rejection, to whatever degree it occurred, that allows me to move on and keep trying. I want to be the kind of guy that can take bad news on the cheek and reply with a compliment or a smile. Why? Because in the word's of Dan Burns, "It is better than the alternative." The point is that recently I have been able to be in my "Happy Place." Emotionally, I have been able to be me. Mentally, I have been able to keep control of my thoughts. Spiritually, I am continuing to improve and I like the way it is looking.

I think this is all happening because I have been able to balance my responsibilities with taking time to love and serve my friends. I have a good ward right now that I have friends who are supportive and strong. I feel like I can really lean on them when I need to and vice versa. My roommates are solid. And the women that I have been spending my time with make me want to be my best self. In the past I have relied heavily on my family to be my support and my strength. I don't think I have let that go at all but I think I have found that kind of support out at school as well. When I really listen to others and look for ways to improve my life and the lives of those around me, I feel like I can really make a difference.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Botched It...

I don't know exactly what the outcome of my latest actions will be so I guess I will just have to wait and see but I know how I want it to be. I probably spent a good 4-6 hours studying today for my very last final exam. Then I had miscommunications all over the place. I wanted to take the test today so I could be done and getting ready to move out. Instead, I studied a ton and didn't get a whole lot out of it because this last test is going to be my toughest one this semester and it also covers a lot of material I don't understand. Anyways, so the time I have allotted out to take the test gets interrupted by having to wait at my apartment so I can be there to get the presents my family wants me to bring with me back to New Hampshire. Well they never show up and I go and run some errands instead. On top of that, I had planned to go meet a friend up in Salt Lake to take a break from studying and go see the Christmas lights they had all set up but at the last moment another friend called me because she was in need. She wanted help getting ready for her last final that I already took, but the time and the place got screwy there as well. Long and short of that was that I was able to help her out and still make it to Salt Lake in time. I had planned to meet my friend at 10:00 in Salt Lake but her phone died so we never actually met up. But if I look on the bright side, I was able to study today, see the Christmas lights up on Temple Square, and tomorrow I will be done with finals and I will be packing up to get ready to go home for Christmas! Still, the whole thing is kind of a bummer because I really wanted to see this girl and the fact that we had talked about it before and I was supposed to be her ride home! So the long and short of it is, I hope she made it home safe and sound. I feel really bad about it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Conversation Backfires

I had a little self-reflection lately where I realized how fickle I am with my emotions. And maybe it is not just me. I had to explain to a friend what was going on with this man who continually wanted to date her. He sounded like he was sincere so I didn't assume that he was not. But I also determined he was a romantic from all of her experiences and stories. The part of him that stopped him from acting on any of his professed feelings was his own sense of reality.

I have always tried to treat women I date as a princess, as my queen. I listen, serve, do my best to focus on her needs, her wants, and her feelings. However, I also recognized that at the end no matter what the circumstances, I don't let any feelings I have die. They lie in wait behind the walls I put up for whatever reason. The trust in a relationship may be broken, distance and reality of the difficulty that it represents awakens within me, or the world takes up our time so time together becomes few and far between. The feelings inside demand attention and romance but the walls around them call for caution because of any realistic sense for the situation. I guess the philosophers were never so far off when they said that Man would always be His greatest enemy. We are the ones that stop ourselves. We too easily give into our own fears.

Why do I fear? I fear because of all people involved! These are not stones we walk on as we build relationships. We are building a foundation of memories and emotions but it has been my personal history where as I have built the foundation before we begin to get to know other people. I have laid a long foundation to just overcome my own shy personality that when rejection may come, we are forced to go back the way we came, by walking on top of these memories and emotions, the walls and chambers of our own hearts. We fear because we care so much so soon. Maybe the reason I am able to remain good friends after these breakups is because I try not to turn around but continue to move forward. At the point of misdirection where I must pick another course, I stand fast. I wait. And when the moment is right, I build anew towards a new direction and a new hope for love given and love gained. If there is no risk in a relationship then what really is the worth of the blessings that we hope to gain? You have to put yourself out there if you hope for anything serious.

It is this same fight between the romantic and emotional Man and the realistic Man which is the problem. Because any guy can see what is wrong in another man's relationship. Why? Because we aren't emotionally or romantically involved in it. We can now see why he isn't making her happy. We can now know what he needs to fix. But if we were that guy, we could come up with no real sound advice or direction for ourselves. We would come up with something that would blossom from our romantic side and then the realistic shoulder angel would tell us, "Come off it. That will never work." And we will have no idea which guy to listen to. The type of man that a woman needs to watch out for is the one that doesn't have both angels. Having both at times is like living your worst nightmare as the confused male. But the guy who doesn't have both sides to balance him out is either crazy or just a straight up jerk.

So as I sat there and listened to my friend's problems in her relationship with this friend of her's. At first I just felt like he was just such an idiot. And then I realized... wow. I am that same kind of idiot. And the funny thing is, everyone will tell us that we didn't do anything wrong when we ask them for their opinion. I don't know why that is. Probably because we couldn't get the story told as unbiasedly as humanly possible. But for whatever reason, I think why those relationships don't pan out into something more is just this simple fact: People don't truly love each other unless they have seen and accepted each other at both their best times and at their worst. If you do something stupid and she loves you, she loves you even in all your stupidity. Men prepare to always be wrong. And women, prepare to always be ready to say, "Stupid is with me." And everybody can hope that it gets better and easier with age.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Something About Children

I don't know what it is and I am sure I never will but when you hold a little baby you can't help but smile. Children have this feeling about them of purity, innocence, love, fragility. They have this ability to live in the world with a naivete about how close they really are to the edge. They are so small but so full of life. It is like they have a much larger spirit about them that gives them all that energy which will fade as it fits to grow into each child.

This weekend I got to spend some time with my family and some of my extended family. My brother was there and recently his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Kelsey Collette. I saw her after she was born but this was the first time I ever got to hold her. As I took my little niece in my arms, she felt so small, precious, priceless. Even when her little body shook as she cried or how peaceful she became as I rocked her to sleep, I can not describe the feelings I felt or thoughts that crossed through my mind. It was a feeling of joy, love, wonder, and amazement at such a beautiful creation. To be able to tuck her little body against my chest as I held her with her head in my hand and rubbing her forehead until she fell asleep, I just began to think about what my future family could be like. I thought about her sister, Shaylynn, and all the personality that she has grown into. I thought about the covenants my brother and his wife made to create a family where the Spirit could teach and help foster their children and help them to grow. I almost cried. I wanted to know all the things she knew, see the heaven where she had just fallen from, to feel the peace and innocence of youth. I don't know what it was but there is just something about the sacred Spirit that protects and guides our children.

P.S. She has such a fun little personality. She made a funny face and I tried to make one too... keyword: "tried." Too cute.

Timing is Ridiculous...

I can't think of a year when I haven't met a fantastic girl at the very end of the semester and just pray and hope she is still there when I get back. Don't get me wrong... I know plenty of amazing women already in my life but it always seems that there is something that acts like a monkey wrench. Whether it is poor timing, like in this case, stuck in the friend zone, or just neither of us took the initiative to act. There is always something.

Back to the matter at hand... The odd thing is that even though I date plenty, this is the first time in a long time where I was asking a complete stranger for her phone number. I don't know why I was so nervous and why I kept asking questions afterwards but I just hope it wasn't fake and that I hear back from her. Is that weird that guys and girls alike get nervous when it comes to messages? I can't think of one of my friends who wasn't nervous when they had to wait for a response from someone they were genuinely interested in. It isn't like whatever happens is going to kill us or ruin us for life, but there is something about the waiting and the anticipation that just causes you to continually have that small part of your brain that is assigned to cell phones, open and waiting to hear the ring or vibration of their answer. I don't mean the type of nervousness that makes you sweat but the type that you just can't get rid of, the one right below the surface. You might look like you are continuing on with your day as normal but you are really right on the edge of your seat just waiting for the call to come in. I don't think it was because she was exceptionally pretty (she wasn't... she was stunningly beautiful and modest), the fact that she was well traveled, cultured, but down to earth. It wasn't that she seemed genuine in the fact that she continued to ask questions between periods of silent studying. It was more like that it seemed effortless and it just felt like it fit.

I don't know why I feel like I need this blog to express myself. Maybe it is because I think too much or maybe because I am just that pathetic (sarcasm here... sarcasm). Really I am a pretty good guy, a gentleman of sorts. I buy flowers for my friends when they are having a rough day, listen to a story of broken and lonely hearts, but on the flip side of that coin, I am unpredictable and spontaneous. I remember a last year there was a Family Home Evening activity I went to and there were notices passed out to surprise a girl for her birthday. None of the men who got a notice knew her so that made the whole plan that much better. There was one guy for every year old she was and while she was teaching at her elementary school, they would come in and give her a birthday wish one at a time every few minutes. I was the last guy on the list and some of the guys sang to her, danced, brought her a rose, etc. I however wanted to really surprise her so I snuck into the room, squatted down and joined the rest of the kids in the classroom activity. There were kids in a line and they would walk up to the front of the room and gave her some sort of object. I decided to get in the back of the line and crept up to the front, making faces at the other kids who noticed to keep my presence as a secret. By the time I got to the front, she looked up, took a small double take out of surprise, and then I gave her the rose, whispered "Happy Birthday" loud enough for all the kids to hear and then kissed her softly on the cheek. She immediately turned bright red and hid her face in her hands while I stepped back and covered my mouth in a surprised but teasing way. The kids all ooohed and aahhed and laughed and before I left I looked back to see her smiling at me as I was closing the door. I flashed a smile and gave her a wink and walked out feeling like a thousand bucks.

The point I am trying to make is that all of my friends are getting married and engaged and there I am just trying to be a friend and make people happy. I don't know why I thought of that story as I was walking to classes today. Maybe it was the fact that yesterday my cousin asked when was the last time I kissed someone was and I had to admit that it had been over a year. I just hope it is like learning how to ride a bike, but the point was that I have been changing and trying to be patient, trying to be sincere, and trying to just be myself. I just don't know why I can't meet people in better circumstances: Random strangers with not enough time to make a serious impression, friends with no intentions of being anything else, or the invisible secret admirer. All I know is that the only way to see if things are really going to change at all is to wait and see what happens. But it wouldn't matter if I had all the patience in the world, it still doesn't change the fact that the timing is ridiculous and I don't know if these butterflies will ever leave.