Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yesterday I was talking to Daniel and I told him I thought I might like photography better than painting. I what! Wait! I've always loved painting. That's who I am. Every time someone says to tell them something unique about me, I say I love to paint.
So I still love to paint, but for today I love photography.
I talked to my photography teacher after class. Every year at BYU I need a mentor, someone who shapes my life for that year. This year he's my mentor. I find myself seeing everything in art, observing how light falls on people's faces.
I have always known I love light. But I am finding that I LOVE LIGHT!
He encouraged me to spend this next year being a photographer, doing portraits and I just might! (Ok, dont worry, I'll still substitute teach---but I want to photograph people).
I love how with photography you can capture the essence of a person, roll them up into one moment in time. I love how you can throw a prop into their hand and they react differently --- and their personality comes out. Their true personality. I loved seeing To cry on command---the actress in her. And how she dressed for the shoot and how she changed her hair and facial expressions while I changed my lenses---that shows her artistic abilities. I love how when I gave Savannah the birdie she looked at it with such love and compassion---it shows her charity towards all men but also towards animals. I love how McKay reacted with the birdie: his tender spirit came out, but he also showed his most memorable thinking face.
What I would love to do, ultimately to do would be to take photographs for people and then paint their portrait so it's personalized and a real keepsake. When I'm painting people I get to know them. I was commissioned to draw two little girls whom I'd never met and I feel as though I would know them. Though I drew them over 5 years ago, I think I could recognize them today. Plus, painting is creating. It's taking something that's a blank white sheet of paper and turning it into something beautiful.
I photograph what I love.
I talked to my photography teacher and he asked me whyI was trying to photograph still life's and I told him I didn't know; that I love photographing people. I love their depth, their personality. And I don't think I'll try to photograph still life's---I'll stick to what I love.
So for today I AM a photographer.

A One-Track Mind

Ok, I have a statement to make about myself.
I have a one-track mind.
Yesterday I visited private and charter schools; I was supposed to be writing a paper and all I could think about was how awesome it would be to spend my next year teaching. I contacted maybe 20 schools and went to some of them and asked about teaching.
Well today I am in the photography mood and all I can think about is photography. I have gone to everyone's facebook pages and blogs who loves photography and looked at all their pictures. Today in my photography class we learned about lenses so I just tried to figure out what type of lens they used and why I liked their pictures. And again, I'm supposed to be writing a paper but that's all I think about.
I have a one-track mind.
I'm working on making that track go to my paper (because it was on my paper this morning and I couldn't drag myself away from the paper to go to work).
Why does my one-track mind change so often?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Feast for MY Eyes

I love my siblings! They are so beautiful! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My sister Eden is hilarious and had us rolling with laughter at this experience. She agreed to write it down for my blog:

So yesterday I walked into the bathroom and as I was searching for an empty stall, I was looking through the cracks just like any normal person.  But the one I had chosen was of course occupied so when I looked through the cracks, there was definitely eye contact established.  Awful experience in and of itself.  Needless to say, I picked the stall next to her.  And then there was that awkward...we're the only two in the bathroom, so, do you say something or just leave it be? hmm good question. Well that question was answered when she dropped her cell phone. She reached to pick it up and i dumbly said the first thing that came to mind...."Five second rule!"......ugh! Dumb on so many levels.  It's a cell phone. I'm in a bathroom stall.  Of course the floors are nasty.  And it's a CELL PHONE.  Then i muttered, "You know, if you were planning on licking your phone....ha...." I could tell this conversation was very one-sided.  My laughter at trying to repair my own stupidity died out.  Well eventually I could hear her door creak open, and I could hear her slowly wash her hands.  It seemed to me that she washed each finger one by one. Hurry up woman!  Of course I was done. Of course I was just sitting there.  Of course the updraft was freakin me out and making me cold.  And of course I was NOT going to get out of the stall.  Nope i refuse.  What did you expect me to do?  Meet her?  Comment on her ridiculously expensive looking custom made brown boots?  So I patiently waited until she was gone.  But I know that the lady with the custom brown boots.  Her cell phone's been on the floor.  Ya, ew right? 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Cancer Survivor!

Ashton, one of the Make-A-Wish youth wrote this essay for his school class. It is definitely a tear-jerker and opens your eyes to what these kids face when they are diagnosed.

How I Overcame Cancer
It was a hot day in July, and I had just finished my 8th grade year in school and I was 14. Even though I had to quite skateboarding and other sports because of being dizzy and my bad headaches, I was excited for the summer ahead of me. Transformers 2 had just come out and I was going to make sure I was there for opening day. I had wanted to see this movie for 2 weeks. My grandma, my grandpa, my little brother Chris and I were in our seats 10 minutes before it started at 6:45pm. I even snuck in 2 Rice-Krispie treats for the show. I can still remember my exact seat in the theater: Row 10, seat 3. As the movie began, the graphics and special effects impressed the audience around me, but they were not as good for me as I would have hoped.
At 11:30 pm, on July 6th 2009, the opening day of Transformers 2, I found out I was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma (a brain tumor).
As I sat in the movie theater, the sound and special effects made my head feel like it was going to explode. I only watched about fifteen minutes of the movie and the rest of the time, my head was in my lap. Even though, I was sad that I didn’t get to see the entire movie; I was more worried about my health. I knew that there was something wrong, but I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want anyone’s help and I thought that it might have been just another migraine. When the movie ended we headed to the parking lot. As we were walking to the car, I was walking really unsteady and my grandma put her arm around me to help me walk. My stomach started hurting. Once we got to the car, I started puking and that made my head hurt even more. I started crying and telling my grandma and grandpa how bad it hurt. By this time, my grandma knew something was wrong with me. She told my grandpa to take my brother home, and then the two of us headed to the hospital.
When I got to the ER I was put in a room waiting for the doctor. All I had to puke in was the trashcan. I was scared, anxious, angry, confused, and all over sad waiting to take tests. I finally took three tests. I had a blood test, a urine test, and a CAT scan. Finally, after waiting 3 hours, the doctor came in and told me the results. I was surprised, shocked and broken hearted. My grandma and I cried together. After the doctor left, I was put into another room upstairs and after awhile I fell asleep in the hospital.
The next morning at 7:30 they took me for an MRI and at 10:30 the Dr. came in to see me and tell me about the surgery. I asked him if I was going to die. He said “No I don’t think so but I can’t say for sure” At 12 noon I went in for surgery, to remove my brain tumor. The surgery took 7 hours and they had to remove a part of my skull to get to the tumor. After I was done with my surgery I woke up in the MRI machine and didn’t know where I was, and I was strapped down to the bed and had a tube in both arms a, tube in my top of my head to drain the fluid, a tube in my foot and one in my neck. I was terrified! I spent two days in intensive care of which I don’t remember much of other then I was scared and angry and didn’t want anyone around me but my grandma and grandpa, and then my mom arrived from Texas and I was glad. I spent a week in the hospital where they gave me some pain medicine that made me see red bugs crawling on my bed and I thought my nurse walk in through the wall. After coming out of the hospital I had two weeks before the radiation started. I had to go to LDS hospital everyday for 6 weeks and get my head strapped down face first to the table for about 15 to 30 minutes at a time. And every Friday after doing that I had to go to Primary Children’s to get a chemo drug called Vincristine. It was supposed to make sure that all of the cancer was gone from my body. One of the side effects is called “Dropfoot”. This took the use of my arms and legs away from me. It stared out just affecting my feet making them drag and making my knees weak, and then gradually went to my ankles. I started out using a walker and then I was then put in a wheelchair. After the next treatment, I lost the use in my right arm and part in my left. I was forced to use my left hand because my right was not working. My eye sight started blurring over, and I started seeing double. I already had dyslexia, and now with my double vision, reading was almost impossible. I was forced to depend on everyone for everything no matter what is was.
I had been through 6 weeks strait of radiation. This gave me such a bad sore throat that it cut off my esophagus almost entirely. All I was able to do was drink water and I could not eat. This was bad because it dropped my weight down from 230 down to 165 in a matter of 6 weeks. The doctors threatened to put a feeding tube in me if I didn’t gain weight. I was so underweight that I was just skin and bones. I looked so pale I almost looked like a ghost. I had to miss most of my 9th grade year making me fall far behind my friends. But the principal and some of the teachers and students would come to visit me at my house and even came on my birthday and brought me a cake and presents.
I did those 6 weeks of outpatient chemo and then I had to do another 9 sessions of in the hospital chemotherapy. I would usually sleep the whole time I was there and would have to stay overnight because it takes 6 or 7 hours for the chemo to drip and then I had to have 12 hours of fluids to flush it out of my kidneys. The first one was actually kind of funny. At the end of the session, I was walking out; I had my hood on, my cop sunglasses, and big heavy steel toed boot on. I had lost my hair from radiation, and was walking a little bit like Frankenstein, and a little girl saw me and screamed because she was scared. That was the best part of the day. Chemotherapy changed my perspective on life because it made me question my ability to survive.
This experience has made me think about what life has to offer, and how short life really is. It made me question a lot of things that I used to do, what things I want to do in the future, and what things I can do now. It made me question people, how they used to treat me, and how they pity me now. It makes me feel bad that people don’t really see what I am capable of, and they think that just because I am in a wheel chair, I can’t manage to do things alone.
It has now been about a year and a half since my diagnosis. I finished with Chemotherapy, and radiation on October 8th 2010, the day before my 16th birthday. When I look back on those times, and see how I was and it makes me stronger. I do miss my old life, but I know there is more to come. My mom now lives in Utah, closer to me. I love knowing that I overcame cancer. I am excited to walk again. I am excited for life in general. In July, the two year anniversary of my diagnosis, I will be on an Alaskan cruise with my family thanks to Make-A-Wish. I am a survivor.

The Convention On the Rights of the Child

This United Nations treaty is a treaty that I have devoted much time to; that I feel passionately about.
The primary concern is government sovereignty overruling parental sovereignty. As Elder Hafen states, "The CRC . . . confuses an understandable fear of state paternalism with an unwarranted fear of parental paternalism" (p. 451).
I have spent so so many hours studying this subject and I think the best unbiased article is the one here: https://www.hsdl.org/?search&collection=limited&fct&so=date&submitted=Search&tabsection=CRS+Reports&offset=0&creatormore=true&creator=Blanchfield,+Luisa It is the report to congress.
I just found out today that an organization ParentalRights.org is trying to pass an amendment to protect parents' rights --- and there are 31 senators against passing the CRC and quite a few in favor of this amendment!
It sounds like the ideas being promoted right now fit very well with the Proclamation on the family:  "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

I am really interested to learn more about the amendment and to see if I agree with it.
Having said all that, I do have one other comment: I get so frustrated that people have to take one radical position or another. There are just statements like "this will take away ALL parent's rights!!!!" when really we don't know the effect the CRC will have, but there will probably be at least one parental right retained. Anyway, after studying law --- just say it as it is!
They are releasing a documentary tomorrow about children and in favor of parental rights and opposing the CRC.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Victoria Morris-Cartagena

Victoria Morris-Cartagena is one of the cooles people! I love her international spirit; not only does she love her PuertoRican heritage, but she LOVES Korean! She is teaching children Korean over skype. She is an actress -- hence she has amazing facial expressions. She is so so fun to photograph!

I love this one!
altered lighting :)

Orthodox Christian Beliefs

Catholic Traditions

I have been learning about Catholic traditions:
One Catholic woman (who is a librarian at BYU) told us how much she loves that her Christmas spirit lasts so long. She waits until just before Christmas to put up her Christmas tree and then leaves it up until Epiphany (the adoration of the magi).
We took a survey in class and found that there were tons of us who grew up with advent calendars where you count down to Christmas and there's a candy in each little flap you open. Well this was originally a Catholic tradition and you got a scripture each day not a candy. Oh the commercialization!
I realized how hard it would be to convert to Mormonism after being devout in any faith. The woman who came to speak to us brought quite a few of her icons, fridge reminders of her faith etc. To ask her to give up all these small icons and to only celebrate our few holidays rather than the seemingly constant holidays on the liturgical calendar would be so so hard! I can't believe people actually convert!
Finally, we had a young man come speak to us about how Catholics believe in eternal marriage. They believe in an eternity where we are married to Christ. Personally, I think I would not be satisfied without Danny Holbrook as my eternal companion; I am so grateful for my beliefs concerning eternal marriage!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Daniel got into the strategy program! YAY!!!!!!
That was such a competitive thing to do and I am so glad he's in! The strategy program is the professors "baby" and they help you so much once you're in!
We know a huge part of that was because of the promise we felt that day in the temple that if we would devote our lives to service we would see miracles in the opportunities we were presented with. The strategy program and an internship is one of those things that Dan was blessed with. While all the other students prepared and called him asking what the interview was like etc. Dan went into the interview with his usual confidence and though he didn't prepare he was accepted!

Thoughts on our future

Dan and I were at the temple near the beginning of the semester; we had each received revelation concerning our future: the revelation was that if we focused on servant leadership, or serving others, we would be blessed by the Lord in great measure. Somehow He would help Dan find an internship and He would help me on the LSAT and getting into law school.
Following through with that consecrate our time and talents to the Lord has asked a LOT of us. We have been called to bless families of children going through incredibly hard times -- and for me in the last month and a half it has required over 120 hours of my time.
However, what we have learned from this experience has been profound.
The greatest benefit has been a change in the motivation of my service -- it has become a part of me; something I WANT to do; something that brings me incredible joy!
Dan has found an internship (probably) and I was blessed on my LSAT; that just meant that I did badly enough that I didn't want to try to go to Stanford or BYU. I have a feeling I'll learn an incredible amount this year and that I'll be directed in what I should do.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This may be the longest post ever.

Dan and I cam home and I just typed my ideas for over an hour as quickly as I could. If you want to know the mind and thoughts of Alyssa Holbrook completely unedited this is it. This is the least I've ever edited anything in my life (whatever I wrote stayed!) so it's a completely honest portrayal of me: it discusses something I've learned from every one of my classes, the change I want to see in the world, and the joy of making wishes come true. 

I love Daniel’s fervor! He’s sitting right next to me and typing like crazy. 
Last night we met with David Crapo, who talked to us with such passion about finding our mission in life, what drives us.
He asked Dan what he thought about when he wasn’t thinking about anything. I knew the answer for me: serving and paint a wish. And that’s a recent development. I feel this call on my life---it’s more than a stewardship, it’s a driving force that compells me to service. And I haven’t felt drawn to serve like it’s a nice thing to do; I have gained a seriousness about service that I never knew was possible! 
When David talked about how some people when they see a child with down syndrome who is happily playing and it just makes them want to cry; when they see a child who can’t move watercolor it moves them to complete compassion where they would give up anything to help that soul in need.
That spirit and determination to put people first in my life has overtaken me in the last few weeks. Just yesterday a young man who is blind came into the logic lab to prepare for his test. He carried his braille writer and after a little while was going to walk home. I asked if I could accompany him and he only wanted me to come if it wasn’t out of my way; well, that’s not what ended up happening. I walked with him across campus and to his housing talking all the way --- and I knew I didn’t want to be another person who asked him the basics: where was he from etc. He’s a freshman and that seems to be the freshman mentality. We began talking about ourselves and what times in life were hardest for us; his was high school. He told me about how it is to be at BYU and how he doesn’t have cooked meals and I offered to bring him bread that I bake every Sunday and he was so excited! He asked when and we found a way to get it to him. He said he hadn’t gained the “freshman 15” at all, he was kind of starving himself. He told me truly what he had eaten that day: 4 packs of trail mix. He was going to the game last night and I was really going to go with him! Anyway, talking with Kirk changed my perspective on life. I dont realize how often I mention how beautiful the mountains or leaves are (I wanted to so badly just describe them to him and let him see) and I didn’t realize how hard it is that the squares of pavement on campus have little bumps in them because his walking stick would get caught on those. I didn’t realize how many curvy sidewalks there are on campus. And most of all, we found things to laugh about that would have never been funny before. There was a man walking straight at us and he wasn’t moving to go around my friend---then I realized the old man was practically blind and couldn’t see Kirk! He ran right into him! Kirk immediately apologized (which made me sad how second nature that had been to him) and he explained “usually people who see the blind boy immediately move right out of the way! I wonder why that person didn’t?” He thought it was hilarious that the man couldn’t see either! And I would have never thought that braille writers were so so heavy --- like 15 pounds at least! And he could only carry it with one arm because he had his stick in the other. And I didn’t realize how logic would be so completely hard in logic -- he just made up a sign for “or” (a term used in logic). I also realized how much we had in common. He said he had thought he wanted to be the typical “blind lawyer” but he’s realized how little of a human element there is with what he’s experienced of logic---which is a HUGE part of law! How ironic that we face the same thoughts and struggles with figuring out our future: I have been thinking the same thing! I am leaning away from law because it is so much memorizing teeny little rules and applying them. We were so caught up in this conversation that we walked right past his apartment -- the funny thing? He was the one who realized we had gone too far. 
So back to last night with David. I realized that I have a huge passion for people and serving people and that is unique---David felt that passion in a very different way. David talked about a brand of car---you are some brand of person and you want to specialize in that one thing so that a graduate school doesn’t look at you and see a volvo with a spoiler and think that only your brother would buy you. He suggested that we look in a longer scheme of things to find out what we are--are we a manager? Consulter? and even further, are we a planner--someone who has an exact vision and plan for his life? (that’s totally me! I hate not knowing what I do and it consumes me until I figure out my ultimate goal and the thing I’m working toward). As I look to my childhood and highschool and college and see a theme: I see an entrepreneur who loves service!
I started lots of fun businesses:
I “interned” as a 12 year old at Mrs. Ditto’s preschool and visited several classrooms to help teach and then started my own preschool where parents payed to leave their kids in our basement while they did their Christmas shopping.
I began selling “flag pins” safety pins that had beads strung on them to look like a flag. I sold them for 1$ each at an art show and though these people would be at the art show and looking at all this expensive art, they would see this 12 year old girl selling something for a dollar and they would buy it! I was sold out of the 63 I came with that day and I asked my mom if we could go home. I quickly made more and sold those too! I was so excited to calculate the profit that I’d made-- and all in a few hours!
Dillon and I began a vending machine business that paid for my car’s gas (and part of my car) all through highschool and gave us more money for clothing or other investing. It was so fun because Dillon and I would have been home schooling all day and by the afternoon we’d be a little tired and grumpy but we’d load up the junk food and take it to the school listening to fun music the whole way. At the school the kids all loved us and thought we were so fascinating and that it was so neat to see how a vending machine worked, that we felt like heroes every time we left. I remember having the brain for accounting and how I’d love figuring how much he and I got paid and how much tithing came out and PTA funding came from the machine etc. 
Then by the age of 14 my parents had encouraged me to buy a mobile home; to invest my money (and they gave me a loan too :)). I had learned a lot by reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and other books and it was time to put it into practice. I had learned most of all by Dad taking me with him on his business trips and the whole few hour drive we’d talk about finances and I loved it! So as we started growing the profit from this first mobile home it turned into more and more mobile homes! I learned good hard work by scrubbing out 3 month old milk from a fridge, laying carpet (which involves banging your knee against the wall for hours and hours), cutting linoleum (which I found if you cut it in the same way as carpet it turns out to be upside down). I learned how to network; how to talk to the manager and make her like you ---- her daughter is how I learned how to lay carpet! And I learned to be a quick judge of character. If a car looked trashed on the inside, that’s what my mobile home was going to look like. If the lady lied about her husband to the manager but just assumed i was showing my dad’s property so she told me the “secret” she wasn’t to be trusted. And I learned how people live when if they were to go to work they would make less money than if they applied for a fafsa. They sat at home and watched TV or set up the garden of skulls in their front yard and polished their guns. And I met the young mother with two children who she didn’t know who their biological father was. I learned to do small things to serve these people like mowing the mother’s lawn after I had mowed my mobile home’s lawn. 
When I babysat, it wasn’t about the money; many a time I returned a check to a family who was having a hard financial time or who had gone to the temple for the whole Saturday. 
From these experiences I see my love of entrepreneurship and of service but service has never been as it is for me now. 
Following the prompting of the spirit:
I was told to go to the temple and do an endowment session but that wasn’t smart for me today! I have tests and papers and photography and painting projects due every day next week --- and they’re hard ones! We drove all the way to the library until i suggested that we turn around and go get our things for an endowment session. I felt so so strongly prompted to go! 
Well the ironic thing was that while in the session though I was so determined to get answers and vision for my life, I really did fall asleep for a second! I had such a hard time staying awake; more than ever before. But I did have promptings and that was that I’m doing a little too much service and devoting a little too much time to serving others; I have to remain healthy and that involves going to the gym so I don’t get blood clots. It was a warning to me. Also, I had the feeling that I needed to listed to Dan as he listens to the counsel of the Lord and uphold his goals and assist him (I thought of Emma Smith). And then Dan will guide me to what I should do and I will be able to figure out where we’ll be and what to do about schooling. I have been promised that I would know the answer to whether I should go to law school and where I should go for law school. And that was about the extent of my deep thoughts: exercise, do less serving for now, that motherhood and missionary work are the ultimate purpose of my existence but that I am also supposed to do other service, and take counsel from Dan.
But funny enough Dan felt the most awake he’d ever been. He gained his vision! He knows what we should do, what his financial/professional goals are and what we are to do in the church and how all of that fits with his patriarchal blessing. All the time I get in these moods where something consumes me; where all I can think about, talk about etc. is that one thing. And Dan’s like that right now! I love seeing it in him! I tried to tell him a few of my impressions and he usually listens and waits and then gives a couple comments --- but tonight he couldn’t wait for me to finish my sentence to give his thoughts and feelings! I loved having it turned around and listening to his ideas!
Again, back to what David said to Dan and I last night. It made me want to know the Lord’s call on my life and I came up with a few things I wanted to do. I thought about being the change we wish to see in the world. One of the ideas is that all people need help no matter their socio-economic status. 
Some of my thoughts from last night: 
MOTIVES! I am going to be reading a book called Works of Love by the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and it’s about one’s motive in doing good/serving/loving. I know I’ll find answers there!
Also, the change that needs to be in the world is that everyday people can dedicate their time talents etc. to serving others. Everyone has something to give and it most certainly may not be money! Someone is a lawyer, a dentist, an artist etc. and people need those services so that the governmet doesn’t have to do it. If someone were handing you money face to face and you knew it was theirs you would be so much more accountable! It is the idea of the tribes who go up and do their vision quest (which is what these last few days has been for me). These Indians go up to this circle of rocks on a hill and straight in front of these rocks is the North Star (“the nail”). They pray and fast for a long time, all the while praying for their people. Until they have a vision; until they know what they are to do in their life to benefit them. Also, these people don’t have an idea of the “self” and the “other”; these two are bounded meaning that when one does something for themselves, the are also benefiting their community. 
I would love to see people use their talents to help others -- that is truly the Zion that we are striving for. And why can’t it happen? 
I want to study Mother Theresa. How does she help people find God’s call on their life? One young woman came to her and Mother Theresa wanted to make sure this was God’s call on the girl’s life to become sort of a nun who helped the dying. As this girl helped the man who smelled of rotting, decaying flesh and would dye in the next day the girl was able to clean his wounds because she prayed and was able to see that man as if he were Christ. That was His call on her life. This is consecration to give your time and talents to the Lord!
In getting this message out to others, it will require not seeking for world-historical importance (see Kierkegaard’s philosophies on world-historical importance for an interesting discussion). 
I realized the impact of traveling and spreading these ideas to Russia---helping the people gain a vision for their lives and helping them to serve others though it doesn’t benefit them. I have seen that the church changes these people so they do just that but without the gospel there are few who go out of their way to help you. I love the quote from President Kimball “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take the people out of the slums, Christ would take the slums out of the people.” 
Another call on my life is to move people through artwork: photography or art. I have this vision of painting or photographing people being healed in some way; of people consecrating their lives to the Lord. 
I love how for Daniel and I the Lord gives “sudden strokes of inspiration”!
I am wondering for the first time about some things from my patriarchal blessing; does the Lord even need me to obtain a degree? I knew the idea that “things would be different in the Lord’s time and way” but that His will would be made known unto me would come...but this is a hard one! What am I to do? How am I to serve? I just keep remembering "we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
I think that I may not even ever need a degree? Dan has promises about his financial security and I wonder if the Lord can work through me more effectively if I don’t busy myself with school for a few years? 
I have been not so enthusiastic about “the mission of Relief Society” and the worldwide sisterhood but that is exactly what I’m seeing that the world needs! it needs someone to lift the feeble hand! I love the message of President Monson’s opening remarks from Conference when his younger brother passed away and they received a blanket for him to be buried in. After our Make A Wish training today I realized that I could go deliver a wish as a Disney princess and it would be marvelous to have someone to sew that for me! Every single person is needed!
I have had a strong feeling that as I understand the symbolism of the temple and work with my photography professor I will be able to gain the vision of what I am to do. 
Also, I have this idea that understanding the Russian Orthodox church will be helpful; that was why I was supposed to take my religion in the home class. We learned that Russian Orthodox people believe that they are married for eternity because they are married by God not the pastor and that all that god does is eternal. Also, the RO people believe that we humans can become as God. Also, they have condensed the whole baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, initiatory process (really everything about it), endowment, and portions of the marriage and sealing all into their baby blessing! I could not believe how much they believe that we also believe! This will be so important for Dan and I to have the understanding of their beliefs because if they know what their religion actually believes then they’ll be so close to the gospel.
I also understand now why we are not considered Christian. We do not believe in the nicene creed as other churches who recite it weekly do. 
I now understand the origins of the trinity: that there were pagan and Greek gods who were the polytheistic Gods and as the Christians did not want to believe in those Gods, they only allowed for one God. They brought so many religious leaders together and all had to come up with a statement that told about their god. Because there were entire doctrinal systems built on different ideas such as Christ as “Light of Light” that phrase is included. They believe in a self-existent God and the creed claims that Christ is the only begotten of the Father and yet begotten by the “breath of heaven” which is the Holy Spirit. Of course they would be confused on who God is because this creed itself has so may contradictions! We had a Catholic young man come explain to us that he also believe in eternal marriage and that this is what the Catholics teach! He said they believe they will be married to Christ. Literally. There will be no husband-wife relations but they will be much more fulfilled in Christ (he gave the example of seeing the beach in Florida but how that’s not the actualization of being there-- and that’s how marriage is for us in this life). Also, I understand why the Catholics and Orthodox Christians cross themselves and why they each do the left or right shoulder first. Touching your right shoulder and then left symbolizes the separation of the sheep and goats: and you want to do the right side first. As the priests mirrored the congregation in 4th - 5th century the people began going the same way as the priest did. I also realized how incredibly hard it would be to convert to the LDS church after having been so involved in one’s own religion. The devout Catholic Gail King who came and spoke to us had so many statues of Mary and prayer beads and traditions for every season that it would be incredibly hard to tell her to take everything out and to take down the pictures of Mary on her fridge and for her not to cross herself every time an ambulence went by. I loved two stories she told: first, she made a huge huge string of prayer beads (like 2.5 ft) for when she was nursing. the beads were worn from being rubbed so much; she prayed the whole time she nursed her sons (and she nursed each one until he was 2.5 years old!). And I love her story about the disappearing beans. They have a tradition about how one who gets the bean has luck for the whole year (it’s found in a cake on one of their saint days). She put a food-storage type dried bean in each piece of the cake and it disappeared! 
In conclusion, I want to say that the blind young man who I helped cannot be helped by make a wish. But he should be helped by someone. And aren’t we all poor? Less than 20% of the disabilities on campus are physical. And how many people are poor in spirit? How can we lift the hearts of those who are sad or depressed or who are just weary? I thought of Daniel’s (now my :)) grandmother who has severe depression --- what could I do to spend time lifting her heart? I think I may have discovered some part of my vision and the Lord’s call for my life --- it may be in touching people one by one. 
I loved wish granting training today; it was incredibly touching! 
I realized that I had one of my wishes granted! I had a wish to share a love of art with wish kids; to teach them to create. And I wanted volunteers to teach the children because it is therapy for them; therapy for those who have some deeper trial that is not apparent on the outside. And I got my wish!
I loved hearing about the wish child who inspired it all: Chris Greicius who wanted to be a police officer and how the whole community united to help him ride in a helicopter and motorcycle to some sheriff’s office where an important officer had a ceremony and made him a police officer and bestowed an honorary medal on him; they brought out a police uniform that would fit him. And the next day he had gone into a coma but he opened his eyes to see his “angel wings” symbol and then passed on. he was so happy! And similarly these children are being made so happy during these hard times! I can’t wait to help a child hang their stained glass star in the wish room and to throw their wish token into the wishing well and to go up into the beautiful room in the tower where there is water running under their feet and everything is lit up in their favorite color and how they write their three wishes on a slip of paper and put that into the hat and then the colors of the room change etc. I can’t believe I get to actually make a child’s wish come true! What a fun creative challenge!
I hope people realize how important it is to be creative in some way---in their own way. As President Uchtdorf said, The Work of Creation
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”
If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.
But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy.4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.
If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.
You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.
What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.
If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.
Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.”6
The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.

Being Compassionate
Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”7 Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”8
When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.
As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls.”9
President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”
These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.
President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: “When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.”10
In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.

An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord
I believe that the women of the Church, regardless of age or family status, understand and apply best the words of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”11 Often I have witnessed quiet acts of kindness and compassion by noble women who extended themselves in unselfish charity. My heart swells when I hear stories of the sisters of the Church and how they rush to the aid of those in need.
There are those in the Church—both men and women—who wonder how they can contribute to the kingdom. Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them. Every sister in the Church is of critical importance—not only to our Heavenly Father but also to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is a great work to do.
One year ago in this meeting, President Monson taught that “you are . . . surrounded by opportunities for service. . . . Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another.”12 Look around you. There at sacrament meeting is a young mother with several children—offer to sit with her and help. There in your neighborhood is a young man who seems discouraged—tell him you enjoy being in his presence, that you feel his goodness. True words of encouragement require only a loving and caring heart but may have an eternal impact on the life of those around you.
You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”13
In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.”

Friday, November 12, 2010


A couple days ago (oh, it was Monday --- how the week has flown!) I had a huge painting due and I forgot my paints! My sweet Daniel rode his bike home for me and grabbed my paints through the freezing cold flurries!
He even picked me a leaf along the way.
That's a tradition we started from last Fall where he finds me beautiful leaves all around campus. I love it!


Just after midnight a few days ago Dan got a text. He looked up at me with the happiest ever look on his face and I suspected what it might be about . . . snow!
It sure was!
Brighton opened today!
I feel badly for him that he's here in the FOB with me doing data sets for his Econ 388 class (the hardest Econ class). 
Happy Friday night!

Another taste of Russia...

This was Dan's favorite Russian clip from last week :)
And a fun reminder of what we loved about Russian cab drivers...they were mean but hilarious!
He says (Dan translated):
A country of donkeys and phirannahs...
(As he hits the ceiling) Teach me how to live how.
(As he almost hits the grandma) Where are you creeping? Cow! Do you green from red distinguish? Walk on green stand on red.
What happened? People used to act like people, now they changed. Paradox!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A piece of Russia

I heard Dan spitting and wiping stuff out of his mouth.
That's when I remembered we still have a piece of Russia
It reminds us of how blessed we are each day
It's dental floss! 
We bought it in Russia and brought it back
And every time you floss an amazing amount of wax comes out in your mouth
It reminds me that we are so blessed 
When we turn on our water it's not yellow, it doesn't have Giardia, and it's not brownish yellow, and we don't have to remember to shower with our mouths closed

Yep, Dan and I love Russia! We would love to live there (temporarily)! We love that the gospel is moving forward there in tremendous ways!
And we are so happy to be here for now.


Fantastic Husband

Yesterday I had a 10 page paper to write. And not just any paper, a super deep philosophical paper.
My teacher nonchalantly mentioned this text is the hardest text we'll ever read (including law school) and assigned us the 630 page book called "The Concluding Unscientific Postscript" to read in just a few weeks.
Sometime maybe I'll share one of the epiphanies I learned while writing about this book. 
But for now, I just want to highlight my fantastic husband. 
Who tried to buy me flowers but decided I'd rather be on time to my class AND skip walking in the rain.
And while he drove me he did something on my to-do list (returned art stuff from the activity in October).
He spent time helping me understand crazy philosophical text. 
He emptied the dishes. 
He "stopped by" target to look for a pair of slippers so my feet wouldn't be cold but they just had weird old grandma ones. 
And before leaving to do all these nice things he pointed our portable heater straight at me and turned it on full blast. 
He painted with me over the weekend
He took me out to Cafe Rio and shared my favorite salad with me
He gave me plenty of hugs and kisses
He asked my forgiveness 
And he understood my feelings and we came up with a solution for Christmas------finally!
He took me on a teeny vacation to the sand dunes but we had too much fun on the way taking pictures
He cooked turkey for our Sunday dinner
He watched one of the most beautiful sunsets with me and we began a tradition to watch sunset every Sunday in a unique place
He reads me scriptures and makes sure we pray together every day
He baptized me at the temple
He told my mom how wonderful I was and his brother how lucky he was that I was his wife

And I could continued on and on about how wonderful he is . . . 

Monday, November 8, 2010


Daniel and I took quite the Sunday adventure and learned a great lesson. We were on our way to the sand dunes when we made some rustic discoveries. I learned that it's not about the destination but about finding joy in the journey. We saw the most amazing sunset (since last week :) ) and both felt a tradition coming along...seeing sunset together in some neat place each Sabbath.
A little mishap: our camera ran out of batteries half way through. Luckily we could plug it in at the local gas station. So we didn't get any cool sunset pictures because we were saving our batteries for the sand dunes. And the sand dune pictures didn't even turn out! So...find joy in the journey!
Some of the words of one of my favorite songs: there is no station, no final place where dreams come true, no better world than this because here and now, our attitude and what we make of this world and our attitude, our willingness to sacrifice for one another -- that is eternity. 

The roof of this cool building collapsed! I have found the inspiration for my next watercolor that's due today at two :)
Mom H mentioned there wasn't a single picture of me on my blog...funny I hadn't even noticed. Guess I just find Daniel so attractive I got distracted!
CROPPING EXERCISES (for photog. class) 
Left: Orson Pratt's home
 right: experimenting with line

a feel for the town
Taken on an old train
 caboose we found in     
the middle of the town!