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Natalie Portman once inspired me.

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The magazine was “InStyle” . The article was on Natalie Portman. It was fall of 2008. I was living in Vegas and my graduate career was just starting. I was acclimating to the new environment, not sure how I managed the transition from tropical paradise to desert wasteland, but I digress. The article spoke to me. The writer had managed to take this world renowned actress and turn her into the type of human being that most of us can easily identify with. A human being who wakes up, puts their pants on and goes to work and manages not to have their face splashed across popular media. What you might call, an average Joe (or Jane). I was inspired then. I had determined to make my next interview ( I was freelancing for an MMA magazine at the time) worthy of the notice I gave that “InStyle” piece. Then grandpa died in January.

It happened so quick. I was devastated. I was…stunned. But the assignment came from my editor, and I pulled every thread of inspiration I could grab onto within myself, and I reread the Natalie Portman piece. I did the interview. I wrote the words. I submitted. I remember my editor telling me that that piece was inspired.

That same year, my Nannie died too. I managed to lose two grandparents in one year. The funny thing is, I still felt inspired. Does loss and heartache inspire anyone else? Seems to workout for Taylor Swift, but hers is really more self-inflicted. I digress again.

All through grad school, especially when I started to develop strong feelings for B, I felt a force in my chest. Not a force of pain, or even joy, but a force that felt like if I didn’t transfer the energy that was literally balling up inside of me, I would just go numb from too much energy. It was like I saw wonder in everything, I felt peaceful about the hard things, and I found clarity in the easy things. And again, I went back to the Natalie Portman article.

Fast forward to now, 2014. I don’t feel that force anymore. I do feel inspired every now and again. There are people that  I see them all the time who inspire me. There are ideas that inspire me. There are so many inspirational things in my world, yet why don’t I feel that force anymore. Insert the cheesy line: may the force be with you. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe at some point within the past few years I closed myself down. I’ve become too caught up in the cares of present day life. I think I’ve let myself have too many tools to choose from. Instead of relying on the one tool that has always served me best. William Zinsser wrote: “…words are the only tool you’ve got.” (On Writing Well, 2006) Mr. Zinsser was talking about the importance of the usage of words, but his reminder resonates with me at this time, almost like a great force.

Where is the Natalie Portman article when I need it?

Feast or famine…or something in between.

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So my former boss emailed me and asked if I’d come back to work in the office for a “couple months”.

I was surprised at my reaction. Several months ago, when I was jobless, I would’ve been all over the idea of going back to my “big girl” job. But the other day, I felt conflicted. Do I want to go back to that job. For a while there, that job  stressed me out big time. Like, BIG TIME.

I started teaching again and now I’m in child care management (baby sitting twice a week which is quite lucrative) and I still have time to grade papers, and clean the house, and go to the beach on the weekend and life has meaning even without my big girl job.

So I emailed my boss back and told her I had a full plate (kinda) but that I could come in certain hours during the week. She was totally accommodating, as she usually was/is and so here we are.

I went from no jobs, to 3, in a matter of hours.

So hopefully I still have time to grade papers, and keep the house clean, and go to the beach on the weekends.

She had me at hello…

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Chilean author and activist Isabel Allende gave an inspiring TED talk about passion, the heroines of her novels, and her take on why our society should strive to empower women . Although dated (2008), I came across it because I finished reading “Daughter of Fortune” and was blown away by the adventure, the free spirit, the description and, of course, the passion she used as she took her protagonist from one continent to the next against all odds to pursue love.  I therefore wanted to know more about this authoress who has captivated my mind, so I was semi-stalking her on the Web.

Gracias Señora Allende por inspirarme a un nuevo nivel de pasión.

She was becoming more bold

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“I am finding new strength in myself; I may always have had it and just didn’t know because I’d never had to call on it. I don’t know at what turn in the road I shed the person I used to be.”

-Eliza Sommers, “Daughter of Fortune,” Isabel Allende

“The wild is always revealing.”

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At least that’s what Bear Grylls says on his new reality show “Get out Alive” on NBC. In the show, teams have to survive hills, rivers, valleys, streams, starvation, exhaustion and hypothermia in some cases. At the end of the journeys the teams are evaluated based on performance and Bear has to eliminate a team. (Side note: I should really be a script writer or something cause that was pretty good) Not only is the team’s pride at stake and their overall physical well-being, but $100,000 to whichever team is the ultimate survivors.

What does this have to do with me you ask? Plenty. I’ve spent some time in the wild lately, what with being unemployed and all, and I’ve had the time to observe some valuable life lessons and learn a little about myself.

1. Take the path of least resistance.

This lesson for me is one I’ve always struggled with and probably always will, don’t worry about what you can’t control. Last week I hiked Koko Head trail, a very steep, very narrow railroad trail that ascends the slope of what used to be an active volcano on Oahu’s East side. This trail is no joke! I’m not in bad physical shape, but I’m not in olympic marathon condition  either so this trail almost got the better of me. I saw people running this beast, up and down, and I thought to myself, you all make me want to vomit with your stamina. I didn’t vomit though, I kept going. There is a spot along the tracks where, just before the incline goes up a few notches, that the tracks cross over a tiny gorge so as to form a bridge between the two sides. Well it looked a little intimidating to say the least and I felt very apprehensive. However much to my surprise, there was another path to take us up, one that didn’t involve stepping on the tracks cautiously so as not to slip and fall into the gapping whole beneath us.  The path to the right of the tracks looked less intimidating and so, naturally, we took that path and it lead us back to the tracks where we continued our ascent. I realized that when there are things going on in my life that I can’t control, I can ultimately make things harder for myself by worrying and being too cautious, or I can take the path of least resistance and learn that valuable lesson that Elder Neal A. Maxwell so simply stated, “Faith in God includes faith in His timing.”

2. Keep moving forward, the view is great at the top.

Part of having faith to move forward goes hand in hand with hoping for the view at the top. In addition to Koko Head, I recently discovered the marvel that is the Pillboxes hike in Lanikai (also on Oahu, Windward side). The ascent isn’t at bad at Pillboxes, and the hike isn’t as long, but it is still a hike nevertheless and some effort is required to ascend the ridge to get to the top where the concrete lookout boxes are waiting. With both these hikes, there are some incredible views at the top.  On both hikes I did, at least a week apart, there was some spectacular Hawaii weather and I got to see some incredible views on the clearest of days. The effort, the waiting, the wondering, the physical and mental endurance (not to mention emotional endurance), the pain, the sweat and tears, it’s NOT FOR NOTHING! The end results on both of these hikes was amazing, just like I know the things I’m waiting for right now in my life will be amazing. I have to keep moving forward, I have to have faith that the view from the top will be amazing.

 

Spring does not always bloom.

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I’ve had a lot of time to sit and think lately. Too much time. Way too much time. At first the time was gladly accepted. Now it’s just a burden on my spirits.

It’s been a rough few months, what with the stress of work, then the absence from work. Then there is the people variable. Sometimes people stress me out the most.

Then there’s the matter of my automobile, which has taken such good care of me until lately. Trivial though it may be, a girl needs a car to be reliable at all times. Mine has not been reliable as of late.

It’s all been very draining.

There is always a silver linning…ALWAYS.

My house has never been cleaner or more tidy. I’ve become more fit, thanks to the extra time allotted me to exercise. I didn’t realize that  sitting at a desk 5 days a week does nothing flattering for my waistline. I’ve also had the time to become quite obsessed with the British series “Downtown Abbey.”

My spirits are high despite the present cares and worries. I’m grateful to a loving husband,  a great exercise buddy and 1st counselor, and above all, for a strength beyond my own.

Spring will end and give way to summer, and I look forward to that very much.

My sister and I…we’re kinda a big deal.

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Now that my little sister has a college degree, she can now join the rest of us who breathe a quiet sigh of relief, when we finish something that seemed to have no end. Congrats Jordan!

She finished! Utah Valley University class of 2103

She finished! Utah Valley University class of 2103

In front of the Mt. Timpanogos LDS Temple