Friday, April 20, 2012

Things I Have Shaped My Life, Part 3: Attitude

Attitude is an amazing thing. Based on the attitude one has determines how ones day will go. Little things can change it too, things that seem so small can have profound impacts on it. It is something that most people take for granted too. Something that is paid attention to in others but often overlooked in their selves. It is the one thing that people truly have control over but instead let others guide in the course of their day.

It may not come as a surprise to some of you but I used to really hate my self. I had allowed my attitude to become so bad that sarcasm and snideness spewed forth out of my mouth almost constantly. I could see nothing good in the world, and figured if I was going to be miserable all the time then those around me should be too. This didn't win me many new friends and put great strain on the friendships I had at the time. There are plenty of things I could blame for my attitude at the time, and I did.

After all I was sick and on chemo, my Mom had passed, and life in general wasn't going like I thought it should. Instead of reaching out and letting people help me I pushed away every hand that was reached out to me. I was going to live life on my terms. It's amazing, looking back now I realize my terms lead to even more problems. In the end they just made me more miserable.

I allowed my already  bad attitude to drag me down. If it wasn't for the friends who stayed by me through everything I might still be on the path of self loathing that had influenced me to chose that course of action. But it was because of these friends that the little things I needed to realize became clear to me.

I am worth it. So simple of a phrase. If others are willing to spend time with you, ask how you are, and make sure things are going okay, if they think you are worth it then who are you to say your not? People wont put the time or effort into something they don't see potential in. Everyone wants to be lifted up, made to feel better. Because people want to be lifted up they will find things that they think will do that for them. It isn't enough though for others to think you're worth it; you have to believe you are worth it. Just that little step can make a huge change in attitude. When you believe you are worth it you don't let things get to you as much. Sure there is still a challenge but you can over come it because you are worth it and whatever the challenge, well after it you'll still be worth it.

I've also learned that the way you dress and carry your self is an outward expression of your attitude. People can tell by looking at you what kind of experience interacting with you will lead to. But the more important thing is how it makes you feel. Dressing in clothes that are full of holes or look like you  slept in them just doesn't make you feel good. When you don't feel good about your self it leads to not having a very good attitude.

Of course others that cross the path of ones life have impacts on attitude too. You can't control how others will act others will treat you. The one thing that can be controlled though is how one acts with how others treat them. Just because others are having bad days or take things out on someone doesn't mean that it has to ruin the day. Instead of letting it bring you down look for ways to bring them up. Who knows, that little bit of niceness just might be what they need in the day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Things That Have Shaped My Life, Part 2: Les Miserables

Music can stir the soul in a way few other things can. When a piece of music stirs you it stays with you always. The beauty of music is that the same song can have different meanings for all those that hear it. No two people will interput the song the same way. I credit my Mother for my love of music and musical theater. She was always pushing me to expand my horizons.

My first exposure to Les Miserable was not the musical however, instead it was a two part TV miniseries. My mom was instant that I watch it and I remember sitting down as a family to watch it. I was floored by the story. It's a redemption story like no other. I believe I was about 16 when I saw it. From that moment I knew that I would never look at things the same way again.

It would be after my Mom passed away that I would discover the musical. I would find the 10th anniversary CD at Fred Myers. Over the next couple of weeks I would just continue listening to the CD over and over.

Valjean would teach me that no matter what you have in your past you can overcome it. That every act of kindness helps build us into a better person. That we need to take care of others also. The things we are given to us are a gift, and that we need to use those gifts to better the lives of others.

Javert would teach me that you can not let hatred blind you to the world around you. That becoming so focused on one thing can lead you to ruining your life and the lives of those you come in contact with.

Thenardier would come to embody what happens when you aren't honest with your fellow men. That you reap what you sow.

This musical is something that I still listen to even today. The feeling one gets when listening to the wonderful songs is one of awe. The spirit of the music moves you from tears to laughter, to hope, to fear, and to overwhelming joy. I love this story, I love the music, and I love my Mom caring enough to force a teenage boy to watch that movie.\

Things That Have Shaped My Life, Part 1: My Father

Everyone has moments in their life when they feel on top of the world. Those moments where they fell like no matter what they can overcome anything and everything that life throws at them. On the opposite side of the coin is the feeling that regardless of what they do they can't overcome what is happening now. These are two extremes that regardless of who someone is feels at sometime. However some people feel one or the other more often then others and no two people have the same experience with these feelings.

We are the only ones who can control how we feel. Each choice we make has a direct impact on what the outcome will be. We can not dictate the outcome however, just influence it to be more in favor of what we would like. Even if the outcome isn't something we would like, we can still find a way to make it a positive experience. I've had many things in my life that have taught me this. One such thing is the relationship with my Father.

When I was little Dad would come home from work and I knew to leave him alone. He was tired from working all day and I didn't need to be underfoot. If Dad wanted to do something then he would let you know and come get me. We would have days where it was just us also. These were mostly hunting and fishing trips that just the two of us would go on. I never thought this was strange or different, I just figured this was the way it was.

Our relationship took its first strange turn when I was 15. That is when I was diagnosed with my eye problem. At first Doctors thought it was pink eye and treated for that. It would be two weeks of nothing changing before Doctors would decided it wasn't pink eye. After spending all day with me at Doctors offices we were told it was Acute Uveitis and that it would be a matter of time before I lost all sight in my right eye. My Dad has always been strong, I never really knew what he was thinking, but in that moment I thought I saw a flicker of fear for his child. I was scared beyond belief. Here I was 15 and being told I was going to most likely lose my sight and my Dad was scared.

However whatever he was feeling was replaced by the support I needed. He was there with me through every test, every hospital stay, and every Doctor appointment. It didn't matter what time, where, or how far we had to go if something went on with my eye he was there. He missed a lot of work to take care of me even though my Mom could have taken me to appointments. That is something I'll never forget, that my Dad cared enough to be there every step of the way.

The next big change we faced was losing my Mom in the summer of 2001. It was August and I was 17. It was the 11th of the month and I had just gotten back from camping with my friend Matt. My Mother wasn't doing well but it was my niece Mackenzie's 7th birthday party. My parents sent us to dinner without them. None of us children wanted to be gone for long because we were worried about Mom but at the same time we couldn't ruin Mack's birthday. When we got back to the house it was only a few hours before Mom was gone. None of us saw it coming.

That was the first time I had ever seen my Dad cry. In all my life up tell that point Dad had been the strong one. Now here he sat crying as the world around us seemed to be falling apart. I didn't know what to do. With everything that was going on I seemed to fall through the cracks. But even when his world was falling apart too he made sure that mine stayed together as much as it could. One of the first things he did that night was make sure I had somewhere to stay if I didn't want to go into the house. Even in his darkest hour he was watching out for me, trying to protect me.

That year that followed could not have been easy for him. I know I didn't make it easy for him. Even though I knew he cared about me I felt like I didn't really know him. Mom had always been the buffer between us, the common ground. Now here we were having to deal with each other on a level we never had to before. It was because of that love however that we were able to make it through. As much as I respected him before I came to respect him much more over the first few months of it just being us.

I almost lost him not even a year after I lost my Mother. He got very sick and ended up having three major surgeries. There was a time when the Doctors told us that we needed to be prepared that he could go at any moment. As much as loosing my Mom had hurt the idea of losing my Dad seemed to hurt even more. I wasn't ready for this. I was 18, I needed him still.

He got better but it was a long road to his recovery. I felt responsible that after all he had done for me that I needed to steep up and take care of him. Even though I was still struggling with my Chemotherapy I made it a priority to make sure the house was clean, groceries gotten, and meals prepared. I couldn't do much but I was determined to do what I could. My life could wait.

Then he married my Step-Mom when I was 21. This changed everything. I had focused so hard on taking care of my Dad that I didn't have the skills I needed to cope with not being responsible for things around the house. Neither had I really thought about leaving. But she made sure that I left. Instead of trying to find my own way I was thrown out into the world to sink or swim.

Luckily I've always had friends I can depend on. Somehow she was able to turn my Dad on me in the process too. I don't know what she said or what she did but I found my self cut off from him. It would remain that way for most of the time tell I was 26. While it was better for a while, now at 28 it seems to be at the point of where I'm tolerated once again.

When I came to stay with them in Utah so I could go to school things seemed like maybe they had gotten better. Yet the facade that had been built would come tumbling down on December 3rd of 2011. That was the day I was physically assaulted by my Step-Mom. I wont get into much detail but what matters is that I was able to see that I had already learned the lessons of compassion, love, strength, and tenderness I needed from my Dad.

While our relationship might not be as strong as it once was the lessons he has taught me can never be taken away. The memories I have of him are mine and deeply personal. I've seen where he has been and what he has done and can use those for guidelines in my own life. I will always be thankful for the things my Dad did to help shape my life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Heavenly Father

I've often wondered how anyone can look around at the world and say that there is no God. Then I remember that I had been at a point where I had thought if there is a God he doesn't care, or maybe there wasn't one. It's really easy to get to that point, people don't realize that or if they do they chose to ignore it. I'm grateful that even through the times I doubted he never gave up on me and continued to bless me.

At sixteen I was diagnosed with an eye problem. My eyes and optic nerves were swelling and scaring. The worse part about the whole thing is the Doctors couldn't figure out why. I was hit with test after test. Cat scans, MRI, and spinal tap. You name it they did it to me trying to figure out what was wrong. Everyone kept telling me Heavenly Father would watch over me and help me get through this ordeal. I was sixteen. This wasn't what being this age was supposed to be about. I started to doubt at this point, i mean how could me possibly loosing my eyesight be a part of His plan for me?

I tried praying and I kept getting the same answer. That things would work out. How could they though when the Doctors couldn't find the cause of the problem? It made no since. As I was put on medicines that made me sick I thought for sure that the voice I was hearing was my own telling myself what I wanted to hear.

Then right before I turned 18 my Mom passed away and I was back on my meds for my eyes. I was still praying and trying to figure out what was going on. Why was I having to go through all this? What was the point? I mean Heavenly Father is supposed to want the best for us, how was this the best for me? Again I got the answer that everything would be fine and it would be revealed in time. Well I didn't want to wait, I wanted the answer now.

Alaska came after that. It was there that I got my answer. That was when I really came to know God. Partially through study and also through just being in a place that you could see His marvels abound. Once I had my answer I thought that was it. I had gotten what I was looking for so I could stop trying so hard. But by stopping I started thinking more about how I was going to do things, how I was going to get what I wanted. It was about me and I didn't care about the people I hurt along the way. I became very hard hearted and wasn't worried about anyone but me.

I had glimpsed the truth and chose the quick and easy path instead of working for something that mattered. I wanted satisfaction now. That was a very dark time for me. I did a lot of things I'm not proud of. However if I could go back and change it I wouldn't. Those things I wont talk about here, but it is enough for me to say that because of them I was able to learn even more.

Moving to Utah I meet a man at school who reached out to me. He touched my life in such a gentle way and showed me what it was that was making me so miserable. Because someone cared to reach out to a stranger my life has improved so much.

I had the light and I chose the dark. That is part of the beauty of what God does. He loves us enough that he is willing to let us make our mistakes, he isn't going to force us to do the right thing. People ask why he allows bad things to happen to good people. To them I say because he loves us he allows each of us to chose, sometimes the choices people make lead to bad things happening. He will hold each of us accountable for what we chose.

I know there is a God. I know my Heavenly Father loves me. There is no doubt it my mind. I still don't know the full reason why things have to happen the way they do, but I do know that each step along they way he wants to be there for us we just have to let him. If life was easy we would never grow, if life was fair we wouldn't appreciate what we had, if there was no sadness we could never know joy.

I watch my Father and see how much pain he goes through because of his children when we do something that leads to a bad end. I see him want to rescue us but there isn't anything he can do to make it better. I can only imagine what our Father in Heaven feels.

I watched as his son was suffered in the garden for us. He stood by as his son was beaten and taunted. He allowed them to nail him to a tree. He did this so we might have a way back to him. Christ was willing to do this for us. The love they have is amazing and at times I don't feel I'm worth it. I am though. God loves us, Christ loves us. I know this and I had to share it. I don't know how well I did but I hope that you can feel their love as much as I do. I am so grateful to have their love in my life.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm bad at posting

So I have this blog and I don't hardly post in it. When I started this I had the best of intentions. I was going to write in it everyday and my thoughts were going to change the world. Yeah well that didn't happen. I keep forgetting to post or I don't feel like posting, things that I shouldn't let stop me. I guess there is a plus, at least I remember I have it and make a post from time to time. It's better then never posting in it. I'm really going to work on posting in it more.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There is Enough Stupid in Washington Already

The atmosphere in Washington is one of winning and causing the other guy to lose. If we stay on this course our country will suffer. In order to get back to what we once were it is going to take an effort on everyone’s part to stop blaming the other guy. “Whether it's done through a third party or reforming the two we already have, we need candidates and leaders who prize the virtues of bipartisanship and solving problems over blame-game politics.” (Harman, 2011)

There is Enough Stupid in Washington Already

One can only imagine what those men who meet in that hall in Philadelphia were thinking as they signed their names to a document that would found a whole new nation. Fear and optimism must have been high, one misstep and it would all be for naught. Yet these men of different backgrounds and trades came together to forge not one document, The Declaration of Independence, but two, The Constitution. Their goal was to make this a nation unlike any other with freedoms we could cherish. However today’s Congress is much different. It isn’t about working together but destroying the other party. In order for this country to pull out of its nosedive both parties must begin working together in a true bipartisan effort.

“ Today, representatives would rather blame the other guy for not solving a problem than work with him or her on a bipartisan solution.” (Harman, 2011) It is a sad state of affaires we find out selves in when those we send to Washington to represent us are more interested in blaming the other person then getting things done. Instead of working together to fix a problem they compound it to the point that no one is happy with the final outcome. One needs only to look at the most recent debt crisis to see this in action. Instead of working out a solution that would benefit the nation, they instead fought and bickered to the point that the rest of the world has downgraded our economy and doesn’t trust us to be the nation we once were regarding our debts.

Who wins in this type of situation? No one. When election season comes around each side will in turn blame the other for what they see as a failure to compromise. Yet how can there be compromise if both sides refuse too. “Working together requires sharing the credit-but that might give the other party an opportunity to win.” (Harman, 2011) There was a time when this wasn’t the thinking in America. Sadly though the mentality of your either with us or against us has become a pandemic. Both JFK and Regan knew the power of working together to forge something great, to carry on the tradition set by our Founding Fathers as an example.

It is hard to blame one party for the current atmosphere in Washington. It would be much easier if there were a clear-cut bad guy in this situation. Yet how can there be when everyone is corrupt? We are all Americans wanting a better world to live in. We want a home for our families, food to feed them, an education for our children, and the safety of knowing that tomorrow is coming. So then why is it so hard for those that we elect, who promise to work for these things, to do it?

The answer is simple the system needs to change. We cannot keep heading in the direction we are going if we want this country to be still standing in a hundred years. The true enemy of freedom isn’t some foreign land but the greed in our own system. Only when we start working together for the good of our citizens can we truly begin to be a united nation. Is there more then one way to do something? Of course there is. But does that mean one way is right and the other wrong? No, it just means we will have to work harder to find a solution that works for everyone. Bipartisan is what we need to work towards. We need to stop electing people who only want to work for themselves and start electing people that will work for us.

Harman, J. (2011, August 15). Escape From the Asylum; Watching the debt crisis, a former congresswoman yearns for a lost bipartisan era. Newsweek , 158 (7).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.
~Arthur Schopenhauer

Every man, as to character, is the creature of the age in which he lives. Very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of their times.