Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Quarter

Spring Break has drawn to a close and life continues at Northern Arizona University. With the final quarter of the school year here, its time for me to buckle down and focus. My upcoming travels to Tennessee seem to have me distracted, but I am committing myself to finish strong. So I made some small resolutions to hopefully keep me going!

First, I am instating a five o'clock rule. I am going to work my hardest to accomplish everything on my to do list up until five pm. Last quarter I found myself always procrastinating by watching TV episodes or just lounging around, and then by night time I was too tired and unmotivated to do anything besides sit around.

Second, I working for a sugarless quarter. Notice I said sugarless as in less sugar. I did not say sugar free. I am just attempting to cut out all those random sugars and worthless calories I ate last quarter. For example every time I went to the grocery store I HAD to buy a package of skittles or milk duds to eat on the way home. Fruit snacks, syrup, pop tarts, I ate way too much of it all, so I have traded out some snacks for healthier ones and am reading labels carefully. But lets be honest, I don't want to go a whole quarter without skittles.

Finally, to go with the five o'clock rule there is a seven am rule. It may not seem very early for some, but its my new wake up time regardless of the day ahead. I have never been one to sleep in too late to begin with; however, even a couple hours in the morning can make a difference. I get more accomplished and am on with my day.

The several long research papers whose deadlines are starring me in the face are pretty daunting, but I feel like these mid-semester goals will keep me focused and on top of all my work....... at least I hope so:)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring is in the Air

Last week was Spring Break 2013!! I spent the week at home, which was not too epic, but it was fun. The weather was Arizona awesome which is like mid 70s to low 80s. The best part of this time of year (for those of us who are allergy free) is the flourishing citrus blossoms. The air turns sweet and the blossoms open into cute little flowers.  With spring in the air, I had to take the opportunity to walk around my own yard and neighborhood to see it in all of its glory.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Southern Comfort Zone

I had mentioned at the beginning of the year that I had no travel plans, but of course I could not let that last very long. I knew I wanted to be out and exploring and learning again. Luckily, I caught word of the National Student Exchange just at the right time. Its just like studying abroad, but I stay within the United States. I heard about the program just before the deadline, so I had a lot to accomplish and decide on, but I was so eager it came naturally. After narrowing my choices down to three schools and waiting for weeks, I finally heard the amazing news last Friday: I am going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville!!!

The placement was completely unexpected. True, it was my first choice, but last year UT only accepted one person. I felt certain that I would be attending my second choice in Worchester, Massachusetts or maybe even my third choice in Fairbanks, Alaska.

In complete shock, I listened to the voice recording from my education abroad advisor and realized that my dream was coming true. I was going to Tennessee!

My dream?? Here's the explanation:
For the past several years, I have been imagining my fairy tale life. The picture perfect future for me is a small two story house on a big grassy lot . Fruit trees line the back of the property with some big oak trees in front of the house. A tire swing hangs from one of the branches and several children are out playing in the yard. I imagine a garden and maybe some farm animals (mainly chickens, a cow maybe depending on how self-reliant I want to be). I picture living in a small community far enough away from a city to be peaceful but still close enough so that I do not have to say "when I go into town". Of course I will be accompanied by a loving husband who supports my ideas of living a simpler life and cherishes all of my goofy quirks.

May not sound like much to you, but its my dream. And its a dream that I always pictured taking place in Tennessee.  Now I have never been to Tennessee and do not really now much about it, so its kind of odd that it is part of the dream, but whatever.

Obviously the unexpected news of going to my dream location is amazing to me. I cannot wait.  Everything I have been reading about the state and the school just makes me even more thrilled to go. Every aspect seems perfect, but even if its not everything I have chalked it up to be, I know it will be an awesome experience.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nicaragua: A Review (finale)

So I am from Mesa, Arizona. We boast the second highest concentration of Mormons in the world (following Salt Lake City of course). All through high school, everyone complained of the Mesa "bubble" . Too many Mormons, too many good people, too little drama. Why would you complain of that? I do not know, but people did. Older generations, mainly teachers, talked of preparing the high school seniors for life outside the "bubble", when we all moved on to different colleges in different locations.

While Mesa has its own problems and is not a perfect bubble, Nicaragua was definitely an out of bubble experience for me. I lived with a non-member, single parent family surrounded by very few other Mormons. Drinking, theft, immorality, abuse,  poverty, and depression were rampant. I personally witnessed all of those issues in many different forms. However, I came to the very strong conclusion that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the answer.

Salt Lake Mormon TempleThe restored gospel of Jesus Christ gives people the hope we need, the community we seek, the resolve to be better that is necessary, and the support and strength we want. It allows  us to be a little better every single day; it gives us an eternal perspective; it helps us live eternally with our families.

As I walked along the Nicaraguan streets, I constantly thought how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ would change the entire nation. Even at times when I was not contemplating the church, it would pop into my head as the solution to some situation I was looking at.

I remember one weekend when I was sitting in an old school bus in , a small tourist-y town, waiting to head back to Managua. As the bus drove around the city looking for last minute passengers to board, I sat glancing out the window. In one instance I saw this young boy, probably no older than three sitting on the ground in nothing but a pair of underwear that were too big. His mother and sisters sat a few yards away vending plates of food. I watched as he climbed a small pole and sat there begging for money. After a few moments of no success, he went to bother his mother for food. She gave him a few fried plantain chips and swatted him away. He then walked a few feet away and planted himself and his food on the ground and began to eat the now dust covered chips. Every few seconds he would put his hand out to strangers, never saying a word but looking for anything. Later he went over to a ledge on a wall and began to play with a little toy truck. My heart broke as I watched him wander around aimlessly and bored and alone. I wondered what his future looked like, what expectations would be required of him. I realized that probably neither of the answers would come close to the potential he has a human being.  But then the resounding sentence came into my head, the gospel is the answer.

 In many situations, that powerful statement leapt into my thoughts, and I realized that it was true.

 D&C 123:12-13 states "For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations... who are only kept from the truth because they now not where to find it- Therefore  we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness..."

I look up to all of the missionaries currently "wasting and wearing out their lives" to bring truth to the world. I have seen how much it is needed, and I look forward to the day when I can join the ranks and spread the truth.