Sunday, December 18, 2011

Home for the Holidays (at last)

I never quite thought I'd make it to this point: I'm home. The fact is still settling in, and ever so slowly the cares of last semester diminish as I spend time amidst the people and scenes I find so dear.

I guess I have a lot to say. I've experienced quite a range of moods, from reflective to melancholy (I love pronouncing that differently ever since I watched Megamind), to nostalgic. So let me spill the thoughts.

I surpassed my weight goal. At the start of my training sessions with my awesome trainer, Ian,I set a weight goal for what I wanted to weigh when I finished training. I started weighing 214. My goal was 195. I'm thrilled to be able to say that last week I weighed in at 193. At the end of my training, I sent Ian a text:

"Yeah seriously it's been a life-altering experience for me in a lot of ways. It's affected the way I feel, my mood, my confidence, and of course how I look. It carries over into every other aspect of my life. It's way cool to experience that change."

The next week I came into the gym, and that very text was quoted word for word on the white-board they use to promote training. I had to smile. I am their anonymous poster-child, kind of, I guess.

Another accomplishment: I decided to make my bed every day for the last two semesters. My friend Becky once told me that if you just make your bed, your whole room will look cleaner. It's true. So I tried it. I'm proud to say that I made my bed every single morning. And the success continues. It's a habit now. At the end of the day, no matter how cruddy life feels, it always seems a little brighter when you see that you have a neatly made bed to end it in.

Coming home for the holidays, I never quite know what my sleeping arrangement will be. This year, Julianne is off to serve the Lord (hiking, play volleyball...) so her room was vacant. It is now serving as a guest room for this man.
The funny thing is, this was my room all through high school. And the bed is in roughly the same spot. So much similarity in setting as my high school days, that I was instantly led to reflect on all that's transpired since I last resided in this place. That's the cause for the nostalgia.

There are certain things that I always look forward to at Christmas. If they don't happen every year, the world and life still go on, but some rituals have memories attached to them and the memories are renewed as the ritual plays out. The first is my Mother's orange rolls each Christmas morning. The smell is absolutely entrancing, the taste, enamoring. I savor that memory even now.
Another ritual is holiday carriage rides. Not too many people around have access to a carriage, let alone a good horse and horseman. Our family has all that (and more!). It's hard to put into words the feeling of a Christmas day carriage ride. In the very instant, you're given a taste of older days, a flavor of what the Currier and Ives scenes depict, a feel of timeless thrill that you can get no other way. I love this ritual and love that my dad is just the man for the job.


My younger brother asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year. It's come to this: my real gift is being with the people I love in the place I love most. That is what I want most. And every year I get that, all other gifts seem like trivialities. Not that I mind the trivial fun things, but my heart is on the true lasting joy of making memories with my family.

This year, I engaged the old man's enthusiasm for the season (his inner-child really shines through at this time of year) and got him excited about putting up some lights. Our house sure looks sad without any exterior glow.
I'll interject and confess that the lights are my favorite part of Christmas decoration. Can you imagine this holiday without the lights? Do you feel the excitement I do when you see a great light display? I love it. It makes everything that much more festive. (May your days be merry and bright)
So dad bought some lights. And I think I'll be stringing them up tomorrow.

To all my dear friends and my lovely family, Merry Christmas! I love this holiday almost as much as I love making memories with you all.





Monday, November 14, 2011

The Triple Ten

I've meant to write this post ever since the 8th. It's one of those reflective posts.

The year 30 is something of a mile-post age. I mean there's no inherent magic in a number, it's just another digit. But it does provide the opportunity to look back on things and see how things have changed.

I look in the mirror, and here's what I see:

-White hairs. They aren't that prevalent, so fairly inconspicuous (to anyone but me). I confess, every now and then I grab the tweezers and pull a few of them. I can't help but think I should wear them proudly, but my vanity still wins out over my aged wisdom.

-The healthiest version of me I've seen in decades. I seriously have more muscle and less fat than I can ever recall having in my life. I think that's almost the inverse of what one might expect from another single American dude of my age.

-Youth. I'm constantly reminded by the youngsters on this campus that 30 is the age of decrepit geezer-hood. I think that is a very relative judgment. I know that almost anyone else would look at the age 30 and would love to be that young. The truth is, I don't feel old. I feel young, vibrant, and energetic. I usually let the number be untold and let my youth speak for itself. Maybe I should also point out that my actions denote a less-than-mature individual. But I can't help that.

I thought for sure that I'd be graduated and moved onto the next stage of my life by this age. I almost made it, and that's close enough for me to be content.

Another measurement is my single status.
I helped lead a field trip to the Grand Canyon last weekend, and all the students assumed that I was married. That came as quite a surprise to me, and it shocked them all to hear that I was indeed unmarried and (gasp) single. I know that this may evident the need for reprimand, but I'm going to say it anyway: I love my life. I'm really glad I'm still single and have the freedom to do things that married folks only think of doing "someday". I don't care if people call me a "menace". I'll smile, not able to subdue the thought that they're at least a bit jealous. It's not that I would shun the amazing opportunity of a blissful companionship. But it hasn't happened and life is still awesome.

I'm not a conventional person. While I know that convention is formed on the basis of hard-earned wisdom, I can't help but question it all along the way. Humanity is composed of the widest spectrum, and we're supposed to all fit into one societal norm of convention? Sorry, but I like to think of convention as more like guidelines. Life is far too dynamic to restrict it to the rigid expectations that have been laid down by society. That's not to excuse behavior that is out of line, it's just reality, and I find it fascinating. It brings color to life.

I'm also aware that I'm not as conservative in my views now. Life experience has taught me that I should be more objective in my approach to life.

That's how I view myself at this stage. It would be fun to know what other people see. Not their modified opinion that would be suitable for sharing, but their honest view. Not that it would necessarily (I spelled that right on the first try!) change my view, but gosh people are interesting.

Thanks to all of you who have helped me survive to this ripe old age and helped to shape me into the guy I see in the mirror.










Thursday, November 10, 2011

News

I know I've had a lot of back-and-forth talk of graduating and the possibility of one more semester. I'm sorry the story changes so frequently. The truth be told, I want a simple solid answer too.

But here's the real situation, and I'm really just swallowing all sense of pride to disclose it to you:
I'm not going to be able to graduate in December.
Before you say "Oh NO!!!" just keep in mind that I'm not freaking out over it, so you shouldn't either. Let me explain. No, too much. Let me sum up.

I spread myself too thin this semester. I hate to admit that, but current grades and my stress levels are firm evidence that can't be overlooked.

I have very good instructors, and I feel I've learned the concepts in class well, but as far as keeping deadlines for homework submission, I have failed across the spectrum. My exam scores are high, but that's not enough to counter the point deficit indicated by my grades. That's one thing I really hate about school: when busy work takes precedent over learning. The learning is happening, it shows in my exam scores. But the busy work dominates my agenda, forces me to rush, and utterly decimates any chance of long-term retention of any of the concepts I'm learning.

Long story short (too late!), I am (and this is final) coming back for one more semester. Here is the silver lining in that dismal blotch of water vapor:
I already have financial aid awarded for one more semester that would be forfeit if I were to graduate this semester.
And I have a break from January to April before I'm scheduled to come back to school.

So my GPA has suffered, my pride is laid out on the table for everyone to mourn prior to its graveside service, and I continue on: learning as much as I can from my classes and not giving a hoot in Hell of a damn about busy work.

The plan for my off-semester? Arizona, Flagstaff, living with my best friend Jay, working, and enjoying time near enough my family and friends to visit often.
Oh, and by the way, thanks for those of you who made an effort to make me feel loved on my birthday. I had a great day!

The Status of Things

I just got back from a paid trip to Arizona. Okay, so it's not quite that glamorous; I was helping lead our physical geology class on a field trip to the Grand Canyon. I had a great time, but it snowed on us Friday night and was below-freezing temperatures for most of Saturday. All in all, it was an awesome trip. Here's the bad thing:

I wanted to stay in Arizona. I have 6 more weeks of school left at BYU-Idaho, then I graduate. And a trip to Arizona at this point made me want to be done even worse than before.

I am kind of freaking out at this point. I'm completely focused on post-graduation details and care almost nothing about my current classes. They have nothing to do with geology, and I am just hoop-jumping at this point with the end so close I can almost taste it!

Not only does Arizona call my name, but its allure is magnified by the prospect of the holidays with my family: a holiday I don't have to come back from.

But that also means big life decisions and grown-up living. That scares me some. I think the excitement outweighs the fear in this case, and that's an encouraging thought.

What should I do for Thanksgiving? They're only giving us a part of a week off, so there's no point in traveling home, just to turn around and come back a few days later, especially when the end of the semester is only a few weeks after that. I have friends who are staying in Rexburg, so if I stick around I'll be in good company.

So that's it. I'm freaking out. Wanna freak out with me?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All the Fun I Can Muster


My week has been an absolute blast. I've reveled in the full range of fall activities and really gotten a good fill of enjoyment.

Highlights:

Carving jack-o-lanterns with our Home Evening group.

The Haunted Mill (ok, so that was last week, but I'm still giddy).

Costume dance party Friday Night in the basement of the Hemming Village shopping plaza. It was super crowded and sauna hot, and the fire dept. showed up to enforce fire-code regulations (I guess we had too many people in there).

Costume dance party at the Legacy flight museum. This party was SO much fun! Afterwards, me and my friends Riley, Kat, and Alicia defied curfew (yes) and went to Denny's.

When life seems too good, something always happens to bring your head out of the clouds.
In this case, my head must've caught a cold up there in the clouds (not a huge surprise after all the close contact with a bunch of sweaty dancing college kids). I woke up this morning stuffy, congested, and with the unmistakable grogginess that can only mean one thing: it's a sick day.

I love and I hate sick days. I've never taken a sick day when I wasn't sick. Blame that on my genes. So while a sick day means a day full of dilly-dallying, lounging, eating whatever sounds good, and sleeping, it also means that you can't fully enjoy it because you are sick. I still try and make the positive aspects of it outweigh the awful symptoms (sniffle, blow, toss tissue, continue).
It's a warm enough day that I may just go take a walk in the park. Getting the blood circulating always seems to do some good. Plus, it gets me out of the house and the fresh air has to be good for me.

So what have I been doing on this day of sickness? Well, I ventured out all bundled in my coat and beanie (which I still haven't taken off) to WalMart where I bought some pills, some cough drops, and lotion-infused tissues.

Whenever I bring that combo of items to a cashier, I have to wonder if it scares them. I half expect them to pull out a respirator and latex gloves, and say a quick prayer that I'll pay with a card so they don't have to handle cash that I've touched.

If my cashier was apprehensive today, she did an amazing job not showing it. It makes me wonder about the bravery of ordinary, everyday people. Anyway...

I've also been downloading some songs I've been wanting, reading my sister's blog (that in itself is making me feel better), checking out people's pictures from the weekend, and contemplating checking out Pinterest.

I haven't yet started a movie. I usually stick to 3 choices when I'm sick: You've Got Mail, The Princess Bride, or Phantom of the Opera. I think it's Phantom for sure this time.

But after that I may venture beyond my usual choices in an attempt to fool myself into thinking I'm not really sick and that I'm just having a fun day at home. I'm feeling kind of "Clue" vibe.

What do you do when you're sick?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lessons

I feel bad: not the weepy, remorseful, sickened, self-loathing sort of bad (though the Phantom get-up may give that impression). It's fairly mild, but present nonetheless so I'm writing about it.
I hope this makes sense as I divulge an explanation.
The reason for the feeling is that I have left some things undone. I have a tendency to focus on the here and now far too much, and anything remote or quiet or non-demanding gets shoved aside, even when I care about it. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about, but deal with the tendency in a much better way.
I just checked my Yahoo mail. I had 136 unread emails. Talk about neglect. There were letters from friends and loved ones, loving notes from my mom and a letter from my sister who is in the MTC. I think I should probably close that account and have you all change to my gmail address, which I check nearly every day.
Along those same lines comes this lesson:
I had to go talk with my Calculus professor. He's an awesome guy, very cheerful, knowledgeable, approachable, and down-to-earth. Here's the situation: his class has no deadlines for homework. It's up to you to tackle class material in preparation for class discussion and exams. So there is no deadline to drive you to act; it's up to you to learn.
I like that, and at the same time, it's hard. My academic history has taught me to focus on the things that require work with deadlines attached. I hate that, but it's the hard reality. If I don't have a deadline, I let a task float in the back of my mind and bother me, not to the point of action, just a constant hum of mental nagging, "you really should get that done". Then I swat the idea away, as if it were a mosquito buzzing in my ear, and move on, working away to meet a deadline for something else.
Does anyone else see the flaw?
My instructor pointed it out for me:
Some of the most important things in life do not come with deadlines.
For example, children don't come with deadlines. There is no deadline saying that "by ____ date, by 6:00pm, you need to have taught your child the importance of honesty". Does that mean that your child will go through life never learning that important lesson? Let's hope not.
We have to learn how to prioritize those things without deadlines so that we devote ample time in their direction because they are important to us. Deadlines help us accomplish things and society wouldn't be driven to the level of efficiency that it maintains without that structure, but time-management requires some personal decisions and some real balancing and prioritizing.
For me, that means that I need to spend at least 6 (probably more, but I know that's not gonna happen) hours on Calculus each week. It also means that I should plan out times to take care of other important things, like talking to the people I care about, even if they live hundreds of miles away and I don't have to have it done by a certain time.
Has it taken me this long to realize this principle? No, it's a fairly simple fact. It has taken some real experience though for it to sink in and stick.
That being said, I'm excited about life. It's my favorite time of year right now (despite the Rexburg chill) and this weekend is sure to be filled with fun adventures. Halloween is Monday and I'll be writing about it soon-ish thereafter. (The picture above is a preview of coming distractions)
If I neglected your email, I'm really sorry. There's no valid excuse. The truth is that I let deadlines suck my attention away from things I care about. Let's hope that by the end of the semester I have satisfactory grades to end all deadlines pertaining to this school and come home for some quality time with you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It Feels Autumnal


It's October. You know this, but it finally feels like October. The leaves are all changing, the wind is chilly, pumpkins are appearing on porches, and I updated the playlist on my blog.
I went to my second haunted attraction of the season on Saturday night: Dr. Slaughter's House of Terror in Idaho Falls. It was fun. It wasn't quite as good as people had made it out to be. I still like the Haunted Mill the most. I have yet to go, but I can't wait.
Idaho really has a lot of options when it comes to Haunted attractions. And most of them are really reasonably priced. I've discovered that I love to be scared. Not scared in general, just the kind of scared you experience when you're expecting it and know that what's scaring you is not really dangerous. I love the feeling of being frightened.

I really have the urge to go out and explore some of the little ghost-towns out in the outskirts of Rexburg. I don't know why I get so thrilled over that sort of thing, but I do.
I'm updating my iPhone's software right now. It's the big IOS5. It's supposed to be mind-blowing amazing. I should know by later tonight if that's really the case. I'm sure I'll love it. It's crazy what I can do with that phone.
In less than a month, I'll reach my third decade. That is so crazy to me. I told my friend I'd be 30 in November. He said, "You're OLD!" I don't feel old. I feel young. In fact, I don't think the number says much about my age. Old and young are matters of perspective. To students here, 30 is old. To those my parents' age, 30 is the prime of youth. I say that I feel young and nobody can convince me I'm not. One day I'll be old. But I don't know if I'll ever act like it.
So I am now completely excited that it's fall. I hope to have plenty more exciting fun things to write about all throughout this month. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feeling at Home

I’m on a mini-sabbatical. I’m ditching out on a week of school and I’m okay with that.
I needed to be home. I needed to see my family in person. I needed to hear their voice, see their face, feel their arms around me. I needed to touch the hand of my new tiny nephew. I needed to spend some time with my Ju before she is gone to the island of Cebu for a year and a half.
Sometimes, when you are determined to do the things you need, other things, like school, are pushed to the back-burner. And you know what? That’s all right. When I get back from my trip, school will still be there, as stress-ridden and busy and wonderful as it always has been.
And now, a few other thoughts.
Here are a few little things I love:
-the warmth of candlelight
-the sound of trickling water
-the smells of autumn
-fresh soft towels
-rainy days
-a good book with a comfy chair and blanket
Once in a while, a list like this forms in my mind, and I just sweep it out onto the page.
It’s good to be home. It’s good to hear all the sounds I’m accustomed to. This morning, I woke up completely disoriented. I thought, where am I? This isn’t my bed. What is going on? It’s funny how your mind settles into a routine and when that routine is altered, it really throws you off. It took a good 20 seconds for me to realize where I was.
I feel refreshed. I’ve been able to stop and see the new baby calves in our herd, see our horses, taste the sweet corn my family raises, breathe in the scent of freshly-cut hay, and the approach of a rainstorm, and hear the sound of the tractor go by the house. These are the sensations that set things right. These are the feelings of home. This has been my therapy. (And Cat’s hot tub helps too)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Go Time!


I have a lot on my mind. I figured I should sit down and write about it; that always helps me to sort things out and let my mind stop mulling it over.
The past two weeks have been, and I do not exaggerate, the absolutely most stressful time of my life.
I've been told, and I'd have to agree, that I'm normally the calm one amidst any chaos. The past two weeks dissolved that cool constitution into a more frenzied and anxious version of myself.
I can sit down and write about it now, because I've braved the worst of it and worked through things. I want to sort of spell out all that's happened, just so you'll have an idea of where I'm coming from. This is not a "surprise, you were expecting a blog post and instead got thrown into a pity-party!" I'm trying to avoid that tone; as I said, the worst is past. And I'm now calm, collected, relaxed ...ish.

First, I only just yesterday finalized my schedule for the semester. I'd visited the Academic Advising center 3 times, each time I got a different take on my situation. On my last visit, their conclusion was that I was 1 credit short of graduating and that I had no other choice but to come back to school for another full semester to finish one credit. I explained what that implied for me and asked if there wasn't anything else they could do. They wouldn't budge. I think they're trained to respond that way.
So in despair, I went to a miracle-working man who is the chair of the geology department, Dan Moore. He looked things over and within a 5 minute visit, he had signed his name to a paper authorizing a change that would allow me to graduate in December. He had also, in that brief time given me some sound advice about weathering life's storms, what steps I should take to prep for grad school, and how to cope with challenges. He really merits the title "game changer".
Two weeks back, on Friday, I noticed an itch in my throat. I checked things out in the mirror and realized my tonsils were bright red and swollen. So I went to the student health center. They tested me for mono and strep. And then tested me for mono again 5 days later. Both tests were negative. So I'm fighting some sort of sinus infection, taking antibiotics since the steroids they gave me didn't seem to help the inflammation.
I got a call last week from the secretary of the VP of the University. One worries when one gets such a call -even if one hasn't done anything they think would merit such a visit. My mind was busy reviewing all my recent actions, scrutinizing every act that might have been out of line with what the university expects. The anticipation of that visit tormented me for a full day. On the day of the appointed visit, I called the secretary to see if I could get the interview moved up: I couldn't endure the wait any longer. An hour later, I was in his office having a chat. He's an amazing man and he approached the issue as "I'm sure I can learn a few things from you and I'd like to teach you a few things if I can." The issue at hand: I posted a picture of a campus banner on my facebook page, having added a twist to it by throwing in an additional line to the message on the banner. All that agonizing over something I had considered so laughable.
On top of that, I hadn't yet received my financial aid funds, and I was feeling the squeeze.
I was taking 5 classes, all labor-intensive.
I got called in for an interview with the Stake President. He talked a bit with me, and then instead of issuing me a call explained that he could tell that this semester was not the semester for me to take on a calling. The interview was to extend a call, but he decided not to even issue it. I didn't want to have to refuse a calling. I was saying an honest prayer of thanks on the walk home from that meeting.
There's more to the list, but I think this paints enough of the scene for you. One of the beautiful things about life is that things end. Tonight, for the first time in almost 2 weeks, I am able to breathe easy; my stomach is not in knots, and I am smiling. I have to send a thank you to those people in my life who have empathy, to those who listen patiently while I spill my woes, to those who send much-appreciated aid my way. You know who you are, and your timing is uncanny. If you take anything from this, it's that life will send you Hell sometimes. But Heaven is still where it's always been, and it's closer than you think. The phrase "this too shall pass" is really a wonderful truth (and it sounds best when said in the voice of Sister Encarnacion).
Now, onto something else. I recently read "The Help". Now, my usual book choice is chosen from the classics. I rarely pick up a modern best-seller, because a lot of the time they provide entertaining reading, but nothing very meaningful or worthwhile. The Help was the surprise of the year for me. It was endearing from the first chapter. I was able to finish it in three days. After reading a few chapters, I got an idea. I added the "Patsy Cline" station to my Pandora list. I found it to be an ideal mix of music for playing in the background as I read. The day I finished reading, I knew I had to send the book on to my sister. So that afternoon, I packaged it and sent it. She read it and passed it on. While I did yearn a bit to hang onto it, I wanted even more to share it. If you have any interest in reading at all, read it. And pass it on. It's full and deep and will get you thinking and laughing, loving and crying. It's a book that touches you deeply.
Now, I make an announcement. I am taking a trip. I've been trying to announce this to my family over the phone, but haven't gotten an answer yet, so it's being blogged first. I'm heading down to Salt Lake City for general conference weekend. I'm spending the weekend with my besties Perla and Misty. I can't tell you how excited I am for that. And on Sunday, I'll leave my car in the care of friends in Utah and I'll travel with my Perla and Misty straight to Arizona! I can't express how excited I am. I need to see my sister Ju before she leaves for her mission. I explained this decision to one of my instructors, and she totally agreed with my choice. (Her name is Sister Hansen, and she is amazing).
So for at least 4 days I'll get to be in Joseph City sort of taking a break from school and enjoying a long-overdue visit with the people and places I love the most. I know that after a few days on the road, I'll miss my Rexburg friends, I'll miss my bed, I'll miss the gym, and I might even miss school. When I get back to Rexburg, it will be October. And despite any reason school gives me to fret, I will have plenty of reasons to be content, to be calm amidst the storm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seasons

I suppose it's time for another entry.

I spent the majority of today lounging around in my bedroom watching movies. The reason? My tonsils are red, inflamed, and swollen. I don't really feel sick, except for the fact that it hurts to swallow. This set in on Friday night and I think I might go in and have it checked out at the Student Health Center tomorrow morning since it shows no sign of clearing up.

Isn't that life for you? You have a beastly first week of classes, and instead of a weekend of recovery, you are fighting sickness and stacks of homework. I keep trying to focus on the positive.

After being in my room nearly all day, I had to venture out. A walk gets me out of the house, gets me some fresh air, fresh imagery, and gets the blood circulating. It was refreshing to notice the subtle beginnings of autumn approaching. I love the fall season. I only hope my school schedule will allow me to enjoy it, at least a little.

My walk was just over 3 miles and at the perfect time in the early evening to catch the prime warmth and glow of the setting sun, enjoy the hint of breeze, take in the smells and sounds of the outdoors, and stop at a few bridges to sit and watch the water flow in the canal.

I know I had more to say ...

Oh, yeah. One of the coolest things happened this week: the reunion of Team 109. All my pre-mission roommates from the Fall of 2008 are now home from their missions and are all now back at school here! We met for dinner Wednesday night and had a blast just reminiscing on old times/inside jokes, and getting caught up. How did I get so lucky that semester? We were all really good friends. I've had some great roommates since, some that I've become great friends with, but never since that semester has the whole apartment been 100% awesome like that.

Speaking of roommates, I feel 100% isolated at the moment. All of my roommates except one are big time geeks. I am not exaggerating. I don't feel I can relate to any of these guys, except one. The one exception is the one I share a room with. He is really easy going and down-to-earth and considerate. But he's also engaged, and his fiance has a house here in town. So he is never around, except to sleep.

I think I need to start planning to spend more time on campus. Because sharing an enclosed space with 4 sci-fi/computer/gaming enthusiasts is just starting to make me cranky. I keep telling myself it will all be over in 12 weeks; that still seems a long way off.

I finished reading the book "The Help" this week. I haven't enjoyed a book that deeply in years. I'm usually not one to go for more modern novels, especially those that are super popular. But this book was well worth reading. I was amazed by what I found in it. I finished it within a week, and I highly recommend it.

I am still awaiting financial aid money. When it comes, I can book a flight down to Arizona. There is a danger in this: if I go to Arizona, I'll have to leave it again. And I may not want to.

By the way, I've decided something this week: I am not going straight to grad-school after graduation. I know it's not the conventional thing to do, but it is my choice. I need a mental break and some time to shift focus for a bit. Since I can, I will. Now I've got to find a job. The world is open, and I'm ready to seize it.

So that's it. The season for feeling like it's my last semester.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It Begins

Today was the first day of my last semester (fingers doubly-crossed) here at BYU-Idaho. I don't usually like to share things that make you fret, so please don't. I'm only writing this because this is my online journal, and it's my creative outlet. Right now, my stomach is in knots. I'm stressed. It's nothing I can't manage, but if it's prolonged, I may need some sort of professional help (I need Ramses!). Here's what's on my plate: 7:45am Calculus II 9:00am A computer programming course ( I don't care to remember the name) 10:15 am Physics. Again. Yipee. 11:30am Persuasion. I have friends in all of the classes except persuasion (which is a comm class). I know that 'ere long I will have enough friends in that class too. Of all those courses, the only one that excites me is persuasion. It will undoubtedly be my saving grace, refreshing my mind and bringing excitement to my academic realm. That does it for classes. Now, I've also been given the opportunity to be a student coordinator over talent exploration activities on campus. That means that I oversee all the managers of things on campus like dance workshops, writers workshops, stadium singing, ...yeah. Totally voluntary, and a fun thing to be involved in, but one more thing to take care of. And I've had two phone-calls in the past week, both of them from the executive secretaries of two different stakes. The first was to confirm that I was still a "student rep" for the Institute of Religion in Rexburg (a calling I got a year ago, and never had any follow-up contact about). They still want me to do that calling, whatever it is. And the second call came today from my own stake. I find out tomorrow what joyous calling they are considering adding to my life. Did I mention that I work? And that I donate plasma? And that I am still waiting on my financial aid funds to be made available? The reason for my stress, in this instance is that my current world involves all give and no take. Dear stake president, please say just kidding. Ok. So the photo at the top is what I've currently got as the desktop background on my computer. Sometimes images can do so much to enhance my mood. When I see that photo, it's a reminder that I do, in fact, love the fall season. I love the smells, the change in temperature, the colors, the fun. It reminds me that the holidays are right down the road, and with them, family and friends. The photo below is what's hanging (a photo-on-canvas print) on my bedroom wall. I, in the years of transferring my belongings from one apartment to the next, have learned not to decorate. It's a sad reality that bare walls are much less hassle when moving time comes around. But I saw this piece of wall-art at Ross. It was ten dollars, and that made the decision easy. It's now adding some warmth and life to my once bare off-white wall. I'll end with that. Any good stress-management insights? Feel free to share them!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Summer is Waning

I don't know why, but I'm feeling poetic today. 

I'm hanging onto these last few slices of summer and trying to savor them for all they're worth; school starts for me on Monday. And while that comes with an excitement all its own, coupled with the thrill of the change in seasons, I'm just not ready for summer to be over yet.

I thrive on days that were meant to be spent swimming in a river.

I live for afternoons when the sun invites you to lay out, when the breeze is just right.

I can't bear the thought of not enough time in the afternoon for a quick nap with the summer sun warming my skin through the window.

But in anticipation of a season of change, I am starting to get ready. Here's where I tell you the things that will most certainly jeopardize my man-card holding privileges.

I bought some L'oreal exfoliating scrub. I use it every night and it's heaven to my face.

My friend Diana offered to wax my eyebrows ---and I accepted.

I went and had my back waxed. (Now that should redeem some man-points. That took some real ...cojones). I was reminded of the scene in the movie Hitch where Albert is getting his back waxed: "Sweet Georgia Brown!"
After the waxing, I got a massage.

Today, I go in for a trim.

I will be ready for school. All these little self-indulgent things are helping me to get excited.

Note: the eyebrow treatment took a total of maybe 10 minutes, and let me put it this way: I never thought I could love my eyebrows this much.

The gym has been good to me. I continue to make progress, losing flab and gaining that dense, strong, lovely stuff we call muscle.

Friends are coming back into town -friends I haven't seen since my first semester here. Reunions will be joyful.

I fear that the fun of the Fall semester will pass all too quickly and that before I know it, I'll be plunged into real society to decide my next move and determine the path that I will travel next.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hi there!


It's been about 7 weeks, and I am full of guilt; see, when school was in, I had every bit of an excuse to not be blogging. I was finishing out a very demanding semester. But that was over almost 4 weeks ago, and here I am just now writing anything. All I can offer in the way of an explanation is that I've been enjoying summer, and for that, nobody can expect me to apologize.

So, some of you need an update, the rest of you can just skim through the details you already know to get to the better, fresher ingredients that make this blog stand out amongst it's competitors like Papa John's pizza.

I decided to stay in Rexburg for the 7-week semester break. The geology dept. offered to allow me to work through the break, which is nice. But while that means a source of income and a something productive to do during my break, it also means that I won't be seeing my family and friends in Arizona. It also means that a much-less-exciting Rexburg is my home with most all of the college students leaving.
But here is my pledge: when school starts up again, I'll be planning a trip (during school?!! ...I know). I'd like to visit before my Ju leaves for her mission to the Filipino island of Cebu.

But for the meantime, I'll be hangin' with the spud farmers here. And in my free-time, here's what I do:
1) SWIM! There are some awesome places to go here: Rigby Lake (5 bucks per vehicle), The sandbar in St. Anthony (free), Monkey Rock (where the picture at the start of this post was taken, also free), and lots of others that I have yet to try.
2) GYM! You're all sick of hearing about it, but I stick with it. I'm making extra efforts since I don't have school.

3) MOVIES! God bless the dollar theater! I've seen some really great movies this summer. If movies were a drug, I'd need an intervention. I recently acquired a few new titles I've been meaning to add to my collection for years: the Hunt for Red October and Freaky Friday. I know those two are at opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum, but such are my tastes. I found them at Hastings. If movies were a drug, Hastings would be my dealer. That store is altogether way too fun.

So here's the story of the photo at the start:
It was the last week of school and a group of us decided to (ok, promise not to tell. Promise? ok, keep reading) ...break curfew and go night-swimming and then go eat out at Denny's. It was awfully mischievous and awfully fun. I might add that the water was FREEZING cold. Monkey rock is a fork of a river where the water passes over a rock ledge (a jointed basalt vitrophyre, to be precise ...and I know my Mom now knows at least what basalt is). It's a great little swimming hole where you can actually swim under the waterfall and come up behind it. We took glowsticks to light the way, then stacked them on the rocks behind the waterfall. It looked all strangely glowy, kind of like the planet Pandora on the movie Avatar.
I adjust pretty quickly to cold water, as long as it's not too cold. So it was fun, until everyone else couldn't stand it any longer and we headed off to Denny's. We got home around 3:30am. Then at 10:00am, I went to take my Group Dynamics final, which was fine because it was an interview with my instructor, not a written exam. I really like those kind a lot better. So while breaking curfew is really not acceptable behavior here, it was totally worth it.

I mentioned finals, so here are the outcomes: An A in Book of Mormon (my final religion class), An A in Group Dynamics (so sad this class is over!), A B+ in Calculus (which is a KILLER because it's an 89.4%! Only .6 of a percent away from an A-!!!), and an F in Physics. Yes, I failed that awful, awful class. I was concerned about it, because I need it to graduate. I talked with my good friend, the division chair of geology, Dan Moore about it. He said "just take the lower-level Physics and call it good." If he says so, I'm 100% fine with doing that. Physics 105, here I come. I've said it before, but I know the reason that I don't do well with Physics is that it is highly-detailed in areas that I just have no desire in. I love learning, and I love knowing that we have methods for deriving the physical details of the minutia that make up the foundation of our physical world, but I'd rather leave it to those who get a kick out of solving it. I have to literally force myself to even try at every turn along the Physics path. There's no desire there to keep me trekking along otherwise.

For the rest of the break, I'd like to go camping, keep swimming, and gym-ing, and movie-ing. And I'd really like to come home, but for the sake of finances, that one will have to wait.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The One About Motivation


I thought that if I titled this post like an episode of FRIENDS, it would have more appeal.

Here it is, the promised post about motivation and fitness. I'll start with this one idea: one is a product of the other. In fact, either can produce the other. This should become clearer as I explain.

I'm going to lead you on a little trip: it's the story of how I found my motivation.
I don't pretend to be some fitness guru or even close to being in great shape. What I can say, with confidence brimming, is that I found a start to the journey!

Here's some back-story to bore you all into leaving the computer: If I want to remember what it was like to have a flat stomach, I have to think back decades. Even then, I carried that cute-at-the-time baby fat. Still, I was a healthy little guy. For all the rest of my life, I've had some extra flab hanging onto my body: belly, sides, cheeks, arms, legs, you name it. I didn't consider myself obese, but I knew I was overweight. I know that weight or size does not equate self-worth, but it sure is a factor in self-image. In high-school, I went from being a 210 lb.-sophmore to an eventual 185 lb.-senior...

What had I changed? My junior year I started running, and my senior year I added football to my activities. The daily cardio-burn really helped me shed the pounds. That was a very positive feeling, and I learned something from it: I have the potential to change. I didn't have to abandon hope and accept my belly-flab as my constant companion.

So, I had lost weight. I look back at pictures, and I can see it in my face: I look more lean. However, the mid-section still held onto that stubborn flab. Once I left home in the individual pursuits of the next few years, running became less of an option (especially in Canada) and football was a thing of the past. I slowly regressed into the 210-220 lb. range (thank you, MTC Cafeteria).

Since returning from the mission, I've had spurts of motivation that have led me to the gym pretty consistently to run the treadmill or use the elliptical machine, but it never made a huge difference for me. My weight would fluctuate, but I'd never get any promising results and my motivation wavered.
Let me fast-forward to this year.
2011, January. I was off-track, in Arizona having the time of my life being with family and friends. The holidays at home provided a great dosage of rich food, then I moved to Queen Creek to live with my brother and sister-in-law.
I worked with my brother for a bit, and our most convenient source of food was the entire imaginable gamut of fast-food chains. We also thrived on caffeinated soda to keep us running steadily through the long work-days. I didn't have a scale handy at the time, and was happy to avoid one. I didn't like eating that way, but I lacked desire to do anything different.
Then I stopped working (yeah, it happens to college students from time to time). Suddenly, I had some time to do things. I could read, I could nap, I could walk the dogs, I could visit friends, watch movies, shop, eat, laugh, cry, ponder, spit, hike, breathe, or make funny faces in the mirror if I wanted! This was actually the best thing that could've ever happened for me at that point.

Enter Perla.

Perla had been talking about P-90X. I wanted to try it, so one day we planned to get together and do Yoga. (Yoga isn't for everyone, but I LOVE it. The best de-stressing mechanism for me. Moving on...) Once I had a taste of work-out time with Perla, it became a regular thing. We'd decided a time, we'd get together, and we'd work out. On days when we weren't, I would always go jog the running trails that go through the neighborhood (and they are AWESOME!). I decided to cut all soda out of my diet and to really avoid fast food and sweets. Perla and I also did some looking into foods that are nutrient-rich and low-calorie and started getting creative with including them in my diet. Things were changing.

This was the start of a journey I wasn't even aware I was on.
My weight-drop wasn't drastic, but I started to see subtle signs of a leaner physique.

I want to point out that 1) motivation got me started and 2) improved fitness fueled my motivation.

Let point out some other key factors here: in high-school, my weight-loss was due to cardio alone. Quit or reduce the cardio, and fat will start taking up residence like you've just refurbished its dwelling. I've since learned that a great combo for long-term leanness has three key elements: cardio, weight-training, and eating right.
Let me explain why, and then I'll get on with "the rest of the story". Cardio burns calories and results in a slimmer build. But weight-training builds muscles. More muscle mass in your body means more calories/nutrients are needed to sustain the body, so the calories you do take in are being used -not stored as much. And proper eating even further limits calorie intake so that you get more nutrients and less junk. Summation: you can fight calories from 3 different angles. It's a triple-combo that brings more satisfaction than any combo meal at Burger King ever will.

So, in April, I came back to Rexburg for school and I got a screaming deal on a gym membership (seriously, it's 10-dollars a month with no contract). I weighed in at 212 lbs. when I got here. Since then, I've dropped 12 lbs. I remain right around 200 lbs. as I swap muscle mass for fat.
Every week, I see new changes for the better. I wear a 32-waist now, and that just thrills the heck out of me (thrift-store shopping possibilities just increased!). I try on shirts, and they fit me really well. I can look in the mirror with real satisfaction and smile at what I see. I do that every day now.
Looks aren't even the best part. I feel so amazing! I keep kicking myself for waiting so long to feel so good! Prior to my changes, I felt sluggish most of the day. I could do what I needed to do, but felt like a nap was what I really needed most. Now, I am energetic, much more happy, and I feel things much more! When I laugh, I feel the emotion, not dulled by any bodily fatigue. When I am moved to tears, I feel that emotion in its fulness. When I feel joy, I really feel like I'm brimming with goodness. My body was made to perform! Let me emphasize that by repetition: My body was made to perform. It seems to go against our intuition that a tired, worn-out body would benefit by added activity. But it does!

My friends here at school have noticed the change in my mood and behavior and will frequently ask me what energy drink I'm on. It's fun to be able to respond, "LIFE!" I seriously feel that I have been physically reborn. I have a new and different frame. I have defined muscles. I can see that there is a frame under the layers of flab that were once there. I see the veins that operate to send nutrients to the ends of my limbs. The body is an amazing machine, and it is made to perform.

The reason that I have taken the time to write this down is 1) I need to record these thoughts for later, 2) I have learned a lot through this process and feel obliged to pass it on, and most importantly, 3) I hope that my insights can serve as a spark to make some changes in your own daily routine. *I am not trying to brag.
I know that you are many things: parents, students, teachers, employees ...and it is a real challenge to find the way to bring fitness into your life even when the motivation is there. Start with eating right. That's one of the biggest favors you can do yourself. Eat often, and eat the things that are good for you. Learn to turn down sweets. It's an un-American thing to do, but it's so good for you.

I can stand confidently and say that every person reading this has the potential to change. Some things are out of our control. We can accept that. Our personal fitness is completely in our own hands.

Now, if you're serious about this, here is your first assignment: find your motivation.
Here's how I found it: I went to Vegas, we took pictures. When I came back, I was really not pleased at all with how I looked. That got me started. The progress I see along the way keeps me going. Find your motivation, and start your journey -even if it's small steps in the start.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Days


I have a lot to say. Some of it will be worthwhile, some of it will be extemporaneous. If you know what that word means, props to you and I hope we're friends.

First, let's talk about the weather. Summer has finally come to Rexburg ...for now. Today we reached a scorching 85 degrees! (I give the Arizonans my full consent to laugh) It's so fun to watch the town transform with good weather. Students at the school will find a patch of lawn and just stretch out and soak in the sun. The parks are filled with all sorts of activity, the streets are busy with long-boarders, cyclists, and strolling couples. We really know how to take full advantage of good weather in these parts.

Now on to other things. I've thought a lot about learning lately. I think I am absolutely addicted to learning. After being in school for as long as I have, you make some observations about the process and about yourself.
I think that it's a shame that we know so much and pass on so little. All of my more aged instructors have stories to tell of when they were in high school and how much algebra they were taught. What happened to those days?
I try to imagine how life would be if I had learned, really solidified the basic operations of algebra in high school. My college experience would be enhanced exponentially. I'm now taking calculus and just barely getting comfortable with nearly all the aspects of algebra. The world has known these concepts for centuries, and yet children and adults alike float through life completely in the dark ages where math is concerned. I am seeing more and more how learning truly is power; it's a cliche expression, but the truth stands. This world is looking for good thinkers. Subjects like tough math develop thinkers; look at the people we admire for their contributions to our current advances in understanding the world -they all knew how to work with math. I have struggled with math in the past, as much of the world's students do, but that's the point: I struggled. I learned. I am empowered because those ideas are now mine. Oh that every child could learn the great ideas that open the world to amazing possibilities.

I've been taking a communications class semester called group dynamics. Let me interject and say that all of my communications classes have proven to be the most enjoyable and useful of all. If you ever get the chance to take a communications class, you'll be glad you did. I want to share some of the concepts I've taken from the class recently. In that way, I think my readers are getting some real meat along with the cotton-candy fluff of my usual posts.

For class, I attended a Forum put on my Robert Whitman. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Franklin Covey. He is so much more than that, but I think you get a hint of what kind of guy he is from his job title. It was AWESOME to get insights from someone who has been so successful in his profession. I'm going to share my notes from the forum here:

Be “a game-changing person” or someone who improves whatever they’re involved in.

Choices an individual makes in order to achieve success:

1) Believe in yourself: What would you try if you knew you could not fail? A true mirror (undistorted) reflects that all are gifted (example: Paul Potts, opera singer, Britain’s Got Talent, YouTube clip). If you don’t believe in yourself, find friends that believe in you.

2) Be strong in the hard times: Do the work that your goals require of you.

3) Put God first in your life: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.

4) Stay away from the avalanche zones: Remember Reinhold Messner (Italian mountaineer considered to be “the greatest climber in history”).

5) Bring others with you across the finish line: Remember that life is a team sport.

That's the end of the notes. I just loved what he had to say. He had awesome insights, and I felt empowered by his comments to go and make some changes to how I approach life. I hope at least someone finds this beneficial.

In my comm class, we have full access to the entire collection of Harvard's online material. Only two schools in the world have this access: BYU-Idaho, and Harvard. It's some of the best material, and I always come away from class discussions completely engaged in thought and so enriched by the discussions we have. Anyway, one of the neatest things we do with the Harvard material is a simulation of climbing Mt. Everest. We get together in small groups, open up our laptops, log in, and start the simulation of climbing day-by-day together. If you implement the skills of group dynamics we've been learning in class, you do much better succeeding in your goals and it grades your success as a group at the end. We get to do the simulation a number of times, and each time we do it, we have so many things reinforced about life and working together. There's a lot to be learned from all the accounts of groups who have attempted the Everest climb. We all have some challenging things to face in life. A successful end is much more likely when we help each other, lift each other, and work as one.

Okay, one last bit of wisdom from that class, and I'll move on.
Every week, we get to come up with our own "Sharpen the Saw" activity. This idea comes from Stephen R. Covey's book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I know, some of you are thinking, "Well excuse me for livin', but I've never read it." (Ten gold stars to whoever can guess where that quote is from, although I think Cat has a slight advantage). And then there are those of you who have read it who are thinking, "It's so good." I digress. Sharpening the saw is basically the idea that a person can work hard all day trying to cut down trees with a saw that is a little dull from constant use. If he would stop occasionally to sharpen the saw, the work he did with a sharp saw would be much more effective. A lot of people are so concerned about keeping on task that they don't want to take the time to stop and sharpen the saw.
Covey points out 4 dimensions to sharpen in life: spiritual, physical, social, and mental. We should get in the habit of taking some time each week to focus in on one of the dimensions that needs sharpening and figure out a way to sharpen it. I've had a real blast doing a weekly sharpening activity. It's been really neat to see what a difference it makes. It's a neat concept, and I think everyone should give it a try.

HEY! I just found out that I am an uncle again! My brother and his wife just had their first son! He has red hair! His aunt Julianne will be thrilled, no doubt.
I'm just as thrilled as can be to have yet another little guy enter our family. I can't wait to be able to actually see him in person. Congrats to JC and Mari!

It seems so trivial to continue on with what I was going to say, but then the blog must go on. I am way too concerned about my collection of movies. Most of you know this, but I was reminded of it today. I opened my DVD wallet to select a movie to watch as I blogged (yeah, I think Alicia and I are related ...for reals). I found an empty slot. This is not good. Since they are alphabetized, I usually know exactly which one is missing. This time, it's School of Rock. My first reaction was "No! Where is it?!?! Who has it?!?!" Then I calmed down and thought, dude. You can buy another copy for like 5 bucks if worse comes to worst. Then I had a good laugh at how silly I am about my dumb collection.

I guess that does it for now. Thanks for enduring to the end of the post, and I hope your summer days are as gorgeous and enjoyable as mine. Of course they are, you're not in school. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check our DVD player...

PS: My next post is going to be about fitness goals and desire. Be ye warned. If that's not something you're interested in, feel free to ignore my next post.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sink Me If I Didn't Go and Do It

I'm sure you've all noticed that, judging by my lack of entries, I've either 1) dropped off the face of the planet or 2) not been keeping up.

I can't really apologize, because it wouldn't be sincere. I've meant to blog, but each time I sit down to the computer, I'm not feeling it. And if I'm not feeling it, it wouldn't be a read-worthy post anyway.

I sit here and I have a feeling a lot like the feeling of sitting on a porch looking out on a yard that has been left unkept for months: not at all pleased with what I see, but excited to jump in and transform it.

So here it is: the barrage of thoughts that you, no doubt, have wondered where they could have been all these long weeks (or is it ...months?):

First, I'm not going to talk about fitness. I feel good. The end. Now you can sit back comfortably and read the rest.

This semester, I'm assistant manager for a show called "Jazz Night". The show is going to be the night of June 25th. We'll hold auditions this coming week and get a line-up of performers. The show is going to be outside on a gorgeous lawn on campus. It's also a free show, so that makes it even easier to publicize.
I've had a lot of fun scheming up ideas for our poster, our show set-up, and etc. I'm excited to see how that pans out.

Speaking of shows, I went to a show on campus tonight that was unexpectedly PHENOMENAL! Have you heard of Nik Day? He's from Idaho Falls, goes to school at BYU-Provo, writes the best contemporary piano pieces, and sings and performs like you would not believe. Check out his stuff on YouTube and iTunes. His album will be my next purchase. He is incredible.
Opening for Nik was the comedian Stephen Jones. If you don't know him, he's also a BYU-Provo student. He was featured in the YouTube commercial parody of the Old Spice commercial called "New Spice". It's on YouTube, a must-see.
I can't say which I liked better: Nik's music or Stephen's comedy! They were both so good! Stephen had me laughing so hard that I was nearly too exhausted to laugh at the end of his act! This has been, by far the best show I've seen on campus. Collin Ray was incredible, but this show topped it.

Continuing on with the theme of entertainment, I have some most exciting news!
(NERD ALERT)
This Tuesday, YES! This Very Tuesday, a special event is coming to our dollar theater. Are you ready? LORD OF THE RINGS. YES!!! They are showing the Fellowship of the Ring this week, The Two Towers next Tuesday, and The Return of The King the week after that! These movies are meant to be viewed on the big screen! I am seriously giddy at the prospect of seeing The Fellowship on the big screen again. I'm not sure I'll go to the other two, but it really is a great chance to see them this way. We'll see.

Now what's a movie without dinner? Which brings me to my next topic, eating out. So I rarely eat out here, but when I do, I prefer these eateries: Costa Vida (yes, we have one now, with Sweet Pork Salad, Horchata, the whole bit), Great Harvest (Ooh, if you've never tried this, do yourself a favor and TRY IT! I love the turkey pesto sandwich. Mmmmm), or Mill Hollow (a local frozen yogurt / sandwich joint. No yogurt for this boy, but they make the best baked subs on their own home-baked sour-dough. It's truly scrumptious ...and sumptuous. I love how those words compliment each-other).

You all know that I'm a nerd-at-heart. I've told you this, you've surmised it, you've seen me look at rocks, it's common knowledge. Here's the thang (typo-intended because I say it like that a lot): even though I've got a nerd-core, I struggle with Physics. I struggled with Calculus, but this time around (retaking it) I've done really well and I'm actually liking it and registered for Calculus 2. But Physics, it's been the most difficult thing my brain has ever faced. But I am beginning to make progress. Conquering these concepts would really boost my confidence. If I can conquer Physics, I can face any course and succeed. I truly believe it.

Do you have an inner-nerd? Do you take secret delight in grammar or literature or some other nerdy subject? Guilty, right here. Rocks included. I've noticed that I will always jump at a chance to flaunt that inner-nerd. If anyone has a question about something I know about (and feel absolute pure passion for), I perk up, step up to the plate, and swing for the fence! I suppose it's because it's not every day that our nerdiness gets that chance to shine, to be of some use to someone. I'm sure I overdo it and annoy people with spouting knowledge, but when I'm their phone-a-friend life-line, they'll thank their lucky stars that I have that little nerd deep at my core, ready to offer my brilliance on cue.

Here's a random bit: I took my chica-friends to Taco Bell to grab dinner to go on Friday. While waiting to order, my friend picked up a packet of Verde Sauce and said "I think I am converted to this sauce." "Well," I chimed in immediately, "welcome to the church!"
What would life be without Taco Bell? I can't imagine college life without that one universal constant. Yes, it's unhealthy. But I guarantee that if it weren't there, college kids would find another way to get their cheesy grease-fix. Taco Bell does it for cheap, they do it quickly, and it tastes surprisingly amazing. Honestly, what kind of magic created a Chalupa? The soft, yet crunchy, texture of that shell... ahhh.

I'll wrap this up, but first, this: Practicality. I've noticed something.
There are some really practical people in the world. They are not normal. Practicality has its place, for certain. But since it's not a universal norm, it most often comes across as quirky.
I'll illustrate. Most boys and girls walk to class dressed in casual but tasteful combinations of wardrobe pleasantries. They carry their necessities in their backpack, and tote their book in hand, so as not to weigh-down their backpack and make it look slouchy. They saunter in, take their place amongst their peers, and breathe deeply and satisfyingly as the begin their coursework.
Then, there are others. They leave the apartment with an extra-large backpack (usually camouflage ...so as to ...blend in?) that holds ALL their books, a strapped laptop case, plain clothes selected from the cheapest clearance section available (simply there to cover nakedness), knee-high socks from a surplus store, hiking boots in case they end up in a survival situation, a quirky brimmed-hat to keep the sun out of their eyes and, if they're really serious about practicality, they've got a fanny-pack full of granola bars. Do not laugh. These are real people!
They are the people who make you think to yourself, "What's it like to be a weird person? Wait, or am I weird, and they're normal and I perceive them as weird because I'm not normal?" But then you shake it off because the status quo demonstrates that it's simply not possible.
I wonder what it's like to be so practical. I think we all need a healthy dose of practicality to help balance our chi and keep us in check, but it can be overdone.

Now I've exhausted my superfluous thought reserves and can leave you satiated with all this verbosity until we meet again. Until then, ...granola bar anyone?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Inner Child


Last night, I went to the Disney-themed show they have on campus. Students run the show, the acts are selected from student-auditions, and it's always one of the best (and certainly funnest) show on campus.

I was performing in the show with the "My A Capella" group this past Fall, and it was fun to enjoy the show from the audience this time.

I arrived at the show 10 minutes early, and as I walked in, one of the girls running the show was looking for help: the auditorium's digital projector wasn't working, so the promo-video they had planned to show was a no-go. They needed some music to fill the current void of silence. Enter my iPhone. It has Pandora, so I quickly queued up the Disney Kids station (why I didn't already have it saved in my stations, I don't know). They plugged that baby into the sound system, and I provided the intro music for the show. Okay, so really it was Pandora, but I helped.

I'm not sure what it is about Disney music that makes me feel like a kid again. Maybe it's all the memories I have attached to those songs. My awesome mother never left us wanting for Disney music. From the Sing-along videos, to the Disney favorite songbook, to the Disney favorite tapes, to the actual Disney movies themselves, our house always had some form of good ol' Disney fun well within our grasp. I cherish the memory of my Mom playing "name that tune" with songs from the Disney favorites songbook. We would bid on how many notes we could guess the title in. I equally cherish the memory of me and my sister dancing and singing along to the original Parent Trap song "Let's Get Together" complete with brooms as our pretend guitars.

Last night's show got me to remember some of those things. I was smiling and cheering through the whole show. Memories from my childhood were revitalized, along with memories from my more recent childhood. I absolutely LOVE the movie Tangled! So if you find yourself feeling old, stressed, weighed down, or just too "growed-up", remember that Disney never left. You can set the grown-up world aside for a bit and bring out your inner-child. That's okay.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Another Mix of Thought

I'd truly be an ungrateful son if I didn't mention my Mom. She's awesome. If you know her, you most certainly agree with me.
Life challenges the very best of us with all it can, and I think that my Mom, through all of life's challenges, has remained standing steadfast in the path that she knows is right. She's got the noblest heart of anyone I've known, big enough to love anyone, forgive anything, and understand. She's a keeper, and I think I'll keep her.
I love her humor, I love her insight into the fun details of life. I love her way of making life pleasant for her family, even through the most unpleasant times.
Mom, I love you.

Now, here's a funny thing: I went to call home for Mother's Day. I got the following recording: "You have reached a non-working number."
This has got to be a joke, I thought. First off, anyone who knows my family know that "non-working" is a phrase as foreign as "bored". And yet, here was this recorded voice telling me that the number I've had since I was born was no longer working. I called my Mom's cell number and got the lady of the house. She confirmed that, while the family was still in working order, the phone number had, in truth, been let go. I think a more accurate term in the recording would be "dead" in place of "non-working".

So the family is officially wireless. How thoroughly modern we are.

Okay, so next, I'm beaming. I am honestly grinning as I type. Why, you ask? I'm pretty thrilled about how I feel. I don't want you to get sick of me rubbing my fitness triumph in your face through a computer screen, it's just good for me to share my success in this way to keep fueling my motivation. Since I've been in Rexburg, I've lost 12 lbs. If I keep going, I'll be a new person the next time I see most of you.

Now that I shared that, I feel comfortable sharing this next part about food.
I finally went to Great Harvest. I've heard from so many people how great this place is. Verdict: IT REALLY IS! It's my new favorite eatery in Rexburg. I get the Turkey Pesto (no cheese). It's awesome! If you haven't been to Great Harvest, and you get the chance, do it!

Sometimes I do dumb things. It's all too true. My most recent was trying frozen yogurt. I know it's gonna give me an allergic reaction, but sometimes I just try again, you know? Just in case. They were handing out tubs of frozen yogurt at a talent-board retreat dinner on Friday night. And I did partake. See? Dumb.
Even as I ate, my mouth was telling me "this burns". The rest of the night, I was itchy. All over. And I was congested all through the night and into the morning.
Will I ever try it again? Yes, definitely. Will it be soon? Absolutely not! I have to forget what it feels like before I try the same dumb thing again.
The sad part about this: I may never know what it's like to have a Pinkberry. Please tell me that someone is thinking "Wait, what's a Pinkberry?" It will make my day.

I've got a new addiction. It is Michael Buble radio on Pandora. I can stream Pandora on my phone, so I take my phone into the bathroom with me and start out my day with a shower and a song. It really is the perfect way to start a day.

This semester is very demanding in terms of efforts, but not too strenuous as far as mental challenges go. I'm really loving classes, loving being with friends, loving the way I feel, really loving life. I really miss the people and warmth of Arizona, but life here is treating me pretty darn well. Couldn't you all just come visit? We could do lunch at Great Harvest! Just a thought.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fakers

I am saddened. I keep getting spam comments on my blog posts. In fact, I get more spam than I get actual comments from readers. I have 21 official "followers" on this blog, and I only know about 8 of them. I love keeping this blog. It's the best journal I've ever had and it's fun to reflect back on. I also love sharing the details of my life with my friends and family. But at the same time, I feel used. Spammers are using my journal to try and sell their wares. What should I do? I hesitate setting my blog to private; that seems to complicate things for some of my less-than-computer-guru friends. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fit and Well

I am not wriing this to brag. My aim is to motivate and inspire.

I've been consistent with my diet and fitness goals: more consistent than at any other time in my life.
Here are the initial results:

I feel incredible. I feel energetic, cognitive, balanced, happy, and ...well, well.
I have lost a considerable amount of extra flab. I look in the mirror, and I see an improved, leaner version of myself.
I began to notice that I actually have a skeletal frame where the fluff had covered it.
I'm never as hungry as I used to be, I sleep soundly and wake up consistently prior to 8am without an alarm.
My body is loving being cared for. Do you have any idea what it would be like to feel like a child again?
That's as best as I can describe what I feel. I feel alive, refreshed, and completely ecstatic at the results I'm getting.

I keep asking myself, why have I waited so long to make these changes?
The truth is, I didn't have the motivation.
Once I found it, things really took off and I find myself forming new habits of living that are amazingly rewarding and fulfilling.
I am went and tried on a shirt at the mall. It was only 8 dollars on clearance, but I was not really counting on it fitting.
Then I tried it on. And it fit me like a dream! It was a great feeling to look in the mirror and be genuinely satisfied
with what I saw.

And the neatest part is that I get to look forward to things only getting better as I maintain discipline in taking care of my body. I made it through the Easter holiday not feeling the least bit sorry that I wouldn't partake of any sweets.

In all sincerity, nothing NOTHING tastes as good as being healthy feels.
The key is motivation and willingness to adjust.
The rewards are real. I'm not going to post pictures or list how much I've lost just yet.
Let me just say, you can do it! Find the motivation, make some changes, and live!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back to the Barren North

I am officially all moved in. Rexburg is, as I had expected, windy, cloudy, and cold.
I am missing the weather and people of Arizona so much I could almost cry.

Yet, the view from this point is more promising than the gloomy scene I've painted. Weather aside, things are good. I really love my new apartment, I'm looking forward to friends getting back into town, and Spring really is on the way.

So. What's up, Rexburg, you bittersweet old town?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Savoring

My days in Arizona are numbered. This makes me sad. The break I've had has really been positive and refreshing.

My friends invited me to go camping in Payson this weekend. When they said "camping" they actually meant "a weekend getaway to a resort on a golf course".

Once I saw the place, I could easily overlook their deception. I was absolutely blown away. This is easily one of the nicest homes I have ever seen.

Here's a little sample of the interior, compliments of Verizon Wireless and the new iPhone.

The living room:

The kitchen and dining room:


My personal favorite, the THEATER ROOM complete with leather recliners, tiered seating, mood lighting, a theater-style popcorn popper, projector, and surround sound.


Some features not featured in the photo tour:
-a hot tub on the deck
-a pool table and ping-pong table
-antique oak wood flooring upstairs salvaged from an old courthouse in Arkansas
-impact sensitive lighting: the lights come on when they sense your footsteps.
-purified water in all the faucets

I could go on, but I think that paints the picture for ya.
There was a winter storm warning in effect, and storm it did. We woke up to this:

I was almost thrilled, but I still haven't gotten to the point that I like snow again yet. I'm still in love with the desert heat and sunshine and was hoping to get my fill prior to my return to Idaho. It was really pretty, I have to admit.
I felt like we should all slip into fur coats and head down the lane to have tea with Mr. Tumnus.

So now that I've got that all blogged, let me speak of other things.

For those that actually follow my blog, I finally got around to adding pictures to my Vegas post. Scroll down and check it out if you want.

In my last post, I mentioned some of the changes I've made in order to be more healthy. Well, I've really stuck with it and this camping trip was no exception.
For Friday dinner, we headed to the store to buy our own choice of food.
While others were busy buying steaks to grill, I was buying the simple ingredients for lettuce wraps and protein shakes for breakfast.

I felt a little like a joy-kill snob-boy. Everyone else was having the deluxe steak dinner and I was sticking to my lean protein wrapped in leafy greens. Oh well. I really want to stick with what I'm doing. It's paying off.
Let me say this: I haven't lost a lot of weight, but I am changing shape and feeling good. I hate being controlled by the scale and fretting about a number. It's not a positive motivation for me. When I'm gaining muscle and losing fat, that doesn't show on the scale. The real reward for me is feeling healthy and energetic and being able to run 3 miles non-stop without feeling like I'm going to puke and/or cough up my right lung.
On a similar note, my P90X order was canceled for some reason. I'm actually glad because rather than spending the $90 plus tax and shipping, I have a friend who was good enough to duplicate her discs for me (thanks Perla). I'm really excited to be able to get going on the program on my own with access to my own DVDs.

I am really not liking the lurking feeling of anticipation of my departure. My heart has gotten firmly set on staying here. I almost want to defer a semester of school and stick around. Almost. My better judgment tells me to stay. Freudian slip! I meant go!!!

And so without further adieu, let's make these last few days in the Grand Canyon State as Grand as Can be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lately


Lately, I haven't blogged a whole lot. You know this, but it needs to be stated to lead into my next thought. I've been having a great time staying busy with other things that I want to do. When you're given 4 months off school, you really should maximize it's usefulness and not squander it on things like blogging. There's some wisdom for you.

Lately, I've been busting my butt trying to develop good habits for staying fit. I'm happy to report that it is paying off.
I want to share my goals with you because it will help me keep motivated if I tell you.

But first, why the sudden urge to reform? That's a very good question and I'm glad you asked it. It started with looking at my Vegas pictures.

Now I don't think I look humongous, but I know I can do better. That really was my wake-up call.

I had spent the first few weeks in Queen Creek working with my brother, eating fast food 2-3 times a day and consuming more Coca Cola than I normally would in an average year (and loving every minute of it, I might add).
That, my dear children, is called "gluttony" and too much of it makes you feel like total ca-ca.

I was also inspired by the efforts of my Uncle Tom who we visited out in California. He's really good at sticking to his diet and it is paying off.

I think back to a day when I was (yet again) being screened to donate plasma. The first thing they do is check your weight.
I'd been very consistent with my exercise routine and eating pretty healthy.
I stepped on the scale and something magical happened: the computer noticed my significant weight loss.
I then had to give them a reason for the weight loss.
I was proud to say "diet & exercise". The worker beamed at me as if to say "You go, Glen Coco!"

I loved that sense of accomplishment, but I loved even more my feeling of wellness. Life is too short to go through it feeling like your body is a sack of garbage.

Lesson: no food on earth tastes as good as being healthy feels.
My friend Perla disagrees, but I stand by this saying.

Here's what I'm doing:
No soda EVER.
No fried food. I was going to say "no fast food" but I want to be realistic. Just exercise control. There are a lot of good options on today's menus (value salad?). Just make smart choices and control your portions.
Avoid the sweets like they're Satan's candy. I think portions are a biggy here too. I've been turning to frozen grapes whenever I get the craving for sweets, and I'm totally hooked.

Eat smaller meals and snack throughout the day.
One of my newfound favorites is lettuce wraps.
I use the green leafy lettuce, some chicken or turkey for lean protien, wrap it up and dip it in a side of dressing.
I add a side of celery sticks and usually finish with a handful of frozen grapes or some other fruit.
I would've never thought it, but I LOVE this meal!

So I combine those dietary goals with a fitness plan (which changes from week to week, as long as I stay active) and that's it!

I've got the P90X videos coming in the mail. I've been doing the workouts with my friend Perla and they totally ROCK!
My favorite is the Yoga. Yes, it's true. I'm really amazed at the improved definition in my muscles, hence my decision to buy the program.

So Tony Horton is my new trainer.

Not to be confused with Tony Perkis.

Or Tim Hortons, the Canadian Donut Emporium.


I'm sticking to it! I'll have to adapt my plan to my school schedule when I reach that point, but I'm feeling really confident about sticking with it since I already have an awesome head-start. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the Road


I'm back from one trip, and on to the next! Let me just fill you in on the details from my trip to Vegas last weekend.

The idea formed collectively among me, Perla, & Misty. When Misty suggested a weekend trip, we knew it was meant to be. We had felt the Vegas vibe. Note: the Vegas vibe should not be ignored.






I'd been to Vegas a few times in the past. I was excited to go, especially with the peeps I was going with, but I had no idea just how much fun I was in for.

We invited our friend Kent to come. He was down! Then he got sick the day before the trip, but at the last minute, he grabbed his things and came! We're so glad he did.

So Friday we drove to Flagstaff and stayed at Misty's. She had a theme party planned. The theme: Hot. That meant hot-tubbing, hot pizza, hot tamales, the movie Hot Rod... a solid theme for a guaranteed fun night.

Saturday, we headed west, Vegas-bound.
Here are the highlights:

The Bellagio water show! I could've stayed there all night and watched it! So incredible, you've just got to see it.

The Venetian! How have I never seen the inside of this place in all the times I've been to Vegas? I am a little obsessed with the atmosphere they created in there.

The Phantom of the Opera! I am SO GLAD we [Kent] decided on this show! It was outstanding. I wish I could've taken photos of the interior of the theater. If you've seen the movie, it's a pretty equivalently spectacular theater as the one in the movie, except it's not a movie set! It's really breath-taking.

We stayed at the Hilton (thanks, Priceline ...or should I be thanking William Shatner?). They had a little dance club downstairs with no cover-charge, so we ended the night getting groovy on the dance floor.

We had some pretty awesome interaction with random strangers on this trip. And if you know the people I went with, you can understand that even if we weren't in Vegas, we'd still be having a blast! I love my friends! It was fun to renew our bond after a few years of absence.

In 2 days, I'm off again to California with some other fun people (grandma & great Ju-Ju) to California.
I've got Vegas pictures, but I can't post them to blogger from my phone, so that'll have to wait 'til I'm back in Queen Creek.