It’s in the Simple Things: Day 6

(Picture of me from above!)
Today I woke up to a small cold and a very simple phrase flashed through my mind: “Today is not going to be a good day.” Honestly, who wouldn’t think those words after a groggy night’s sleep? But, I have reflected on this reaction I had all day and I realized how easily programmed my mind is for negativity!
I wonder about how easily we all give in to these urges to be cynical. It makes me think, “Do we inadvertently become morosely set about our circumstances? Do we decide before the day or the events in our lives happen there is no happy ending? We desire happiness and security and yet. . . before we can appreciate beauty and see opportunities before us there always seems to be something off about our day.

(Confess! You have felt like this sad clown before)
When it rains, we complain about being wet, our now dirty cars and (in my case) riding bikes with fogged glasses and wet bangs. When it is sunny, we complain about how hot it is and. . . how long it has been since it has rained! Our hair frizzes, our hearts are broken intentionally or unintentionally, the light turns red right before we cross and our favorite series gives us cliffhanger after cliffhanger.

These patterns of negativity go on day after day. There are memes and funny t-shirts lamenting and even praising our decisions to be unhappy. But should it be so?
When I was on my mission in Russia, I went through an incredibly difficult transfer in my last winter. Let me tell you, the sun did not shine. . . for several weeks. It was gray, it hardly snowed, and it was cold. My heart was broken and I really and truly had to fight oncoming depression. I cried a lot, but mostly by myself. I put on a strong face in front of others but any happiness I had was forced.

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There came a moment for me though when I knew I had to fight the foggy, lonely, bitter sadness swelling inside me. So I started writing happy notes to myself and sticking them on the mirror for me to see whenever I and my companion Carly came home. I talked about shots of blue I saw when the grey clouds seemed to part . . . just a little. I laughed about funny things like silly billboards, romantic pigeons and skillful, yet dangerous taxi drivers we daily encountered. And, though it was hard, I pulled myself out of my rutt with God’s help.
My problems did not disappear. I still left my area after six weeks, lamented a relationship with a young man who would never love me back and worried about my future. But let me say this. Because I looked for the good things happening in my life I FOUND THEM. I covered my mirror with daily blessings and happy moments and I began to believe they weren’t just part of my I imagination. I truly was a blessed and happy person. It just took awhile for me to see it.
I’ve had to remind myself multiple times in my life the truth Abraham Lincoln once said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

So…. as I left my apartment this morning I made a decision to, despite my mushy brain, long work schedule and clogging throat to find happy moments. So I did.

  1. I saw a praying mantis right as I got down the stairs!
  2. I finished putting up my glow in the dark stars all over my room. (Don’t be too jealous. 😉 )
  3. Though my salad had cucumbers in it, I really enjoyed it and felt good after eating it. (I picked most the cucumbers out when I realized they weren’t just funny tasting hard avocados.)
  4. I had no fussy customers today.
  5. My friend helped me buy a really nice dress which makes me feel like a spanish fashionista (Family it is floor length. Don’t be shocked)
  6. I talked to my Dad on the phone today. I missed him so it made my day.
  7. There were no long lines at the grocery store! Twice. . . (I forgot I need cash so had to go buy something else.)
  8. I realized I can bike up my crazy hill to work in only four minutes! Woot! I am strong even when my lungs are having burning spasms.

The list could go on but you get the idea. It takes me only a few moments of reflection to know how wonderful and beautiful my life is. I may not be married, or have children or be traveling the world as I would like. But really, who is to say I wouldn’t find SOMETHING to be negative about even then?
I really love this quote I found by Roy T. Bennett,

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose Wisely.

I wish you all a fabulous day and glad add this post to my thirty days of self reflection. Life is too short to be mopey! There is a whole world out in front of us waiting to fill our lives with joy, if we are open to it.

Book Quote: The Girl in the Tower (2017)

Sometimes I read new books and never finish them (This is about 60% of the time). Other times I finish them really fast but don’t think of them later.

However, there are other moments, the rare ones, where I become lost in a story and forget it isn’t real. Then it ends…. and I become angry because I have to wait for the next installment.

Yep, that is this series for me. This is a phenomenal story and I recommend it especially to those with a love of history, folktales and Russia.

‘Should I live out my life as a false Lord, until they find me out and put me in a convent? She demanded. Should I run away? Go home? Never see my brothers again? Where do I belong? I don’t know. I don’t know who I am. And I have eaten in your house, and nearly died in your arms, and you rode with me tonight and I hoped you might know.’

The word sounded foolish even as she said it. She bit her lip. The silence stretched out.

‘Vasya,’ he said.

‘Don’t. You never mean it,’ she said, drawing away. ‘You are immortal and it is only a game.’

His answer was not in words, perhaps, spoke for him when his fingertips found the pulse behind her jaw. She did not move. His eyes were cold and still: pale stars to make her lost. ‘Vasya,’ he said again, low and almost ragged, into her ear. ‘ I am not wise as you would have me, for all my years in the world. I do not know what you should choose. Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.

‘That is not advice,’ she said. The wind blew her hair against his face.

‘It is all I have,’ he said. Then he slid his fingers through her hair and kissed her.

Last of the Breed  (1986): Book Quote

Louis L’amour is a peculiar writer. He is known for his westerns but that description does not suit him well. This book in particular is an insightful look into inter-relations between Russians and Americans. It is a testament that our differences as countries are an illusion. L’amour brought into perspective how it is individuals who show the true, unqiue characters of the countries they live in.

Anyway, this was a most intriging, unbiased look into Cold war history. L’amour is truly a great historian and writer.

Quote 1:

“You’re a good woman,’ he said. I shall pray for you and yours.’

‘Pray is it? A long time since I’ve heard of that. Not since I was a small girl and we had churches where I lived, and priests. Well, pray if you will. I could do with a few prayers. Now be off with you, and if you say you have seen me, I shall say you lied.’

‘Of course. He smiled suddenly. ‘But don’t forget there’s a man walking away who will hold a place for you in his memory.'”

Quote 2:

“When you get back to America will you think of me?’

‘How could I forget you?’ He said, and was startled at the words. Now why did he say that?

‘It is very far. Everyone will be against you.’

‘How could it be otherwise? If our people and your people could sit down together and talk about our families, their farms, and their jobs, I think there would be no trouble.

‘It is our governments that are continually fencing for position, each trying to gain some advantage.

Russia does not trust its own people. They have built a wall to keep them in …'”- Louis L’amour

My Mission Experiences: Being called to serve!

IMG_0552(Church Building in Krasnadar, Russia)

As many know, I lived a year and a half in Southern Russia while serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was an incredible experience for me that seems impossible to really describe. I look back now on where I was before, how hesitant I was to serve and if seems truly unbelievable I am where I am today.

For those who don’t know, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day, often referred to as the Mormon church sends missionaries all over the world to teach others about our beliefs. We go in pairs talking to many people on the streets, in buses, in people’s homes and throughout many different countries. Some learn new languages on their missions. But for each person it is a unique experience.

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So, how do we know where we will serve? We are called by a member of our Quorum of the twelve, individually to serve in a specific area around the world. One person could be called to China while another to Arkansas. Currently there are over 400 missions around the world! Personally, I love asking members of our church about the places they have served.

We fill out paperwork, go to the doctor, have our wisdom teeth pulled if necessary so we can hand it in. Once each person submits it, they wait to see where they will go. That means. . . we have NO IDEA where we will serve until we receive a call letter.

As for myself, I decided to go on a mission in the middle of a teaching job. I was working as a music teaching at a middle school, while living at home with my family. Honestly, I was not very happy. I felt I was not learning enough, as though I was stuck after finishing college. I talked to my parents a lot about how I felt and just could not place what it was that was missing in my life at the time. Honestly, I assumed it was because I was not married. But something happened two months after beginning my job.

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Every six months we have something called General Conference where members of our church gather from all over the world to listen to our church leaders speak on matters of religion. In one specific session October 2014 I was listening to President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency speak on receiving personal revelation from God. As I listened to him I felt strongly I should go on a mission. I dismissed this feeling but within minutes I thought again I needed to serve on a mission. This time, it hit me as a wall of emotion and I started to cry.

IMG_0566(Also in Krasnadar!)

In time, I followed though and decided to serve a mission rather than continue teaching. I was eventually called to serve in the Rostov-na-Donu Mission in Russia speaking the Russian language.

Did I know Russian? Well. . . no.

Did I learn Russian? Well. . . yes.

Did I see many amazing cities? Art? Museums? Book stores? Yes.

Russia is an immensely diverse and fascinating place. But that is not what I value most from my time there.

IMG_0158(A special place for me in Astrakhan, Russia.)

Words cannot describe the soul refining, achingly hard, beautiful and life changing experiences I had among the Russian people. There are people there who I love so much and pray for every day. I caught a glimpse of how God must feel for each of us.

Through a series of posts I would like to share my experiences with you all. Please know this. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one church on earth led by living prophets and apostles called by God to gather his scattered people around the world. This church is led by Jesus Christ, who died, resurrected and lives to help each one of us to return to God, our loving Heavenly Father.

I know Heavenly Father is aware of and loves every individual who lived, lives and will live upon this earth. I know these things because I prayed to know the truthfulness of these things.

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I also know Joseph Smith was called as a modern day prophet to restore profound, eternal truths of authority, family, ordinances, and doctrine lost in time as many denominations of churches shifted from Christ’s original church. Many who read this probably have heard some crazy things about him. Let me just say this. If ever you study his life, you will see the many children he lost, the many times he was imprisoned, mobbed, tarred and feathered, ridiculed, betrayed, beaten and mocked for what he taught. Let me ask, what man in his right mind would do such a thing for a lie?

I felt I should start writing these posts and I hope, perhaps, I can help someone. Or better yet, I hope I may lead you to the one who can really help you. God is the true source of life’s answers.

I hope you feel Heavenly Father’s love for you this day. The world is a truly beautiful place!