Friday, March 11, 2016

25 in 25 : #2, #3, #4

Oh hey!  Long time no see.  I've accomplished  a few things on my 25 in 25 list.  Did I every tell you everything I was going to do?  Probably not.... here's a few of the things I plan to do.  Some are small, some are big, some are personal (and those won't be shared), some will probably be changed by the time this year is over.

1. chalk the block.  2. run a 5k.  3. ride the tram at snowbird.  4. visit a different country.  5. go to lavender days in mona with shayla.  6. go to san francisco with ashley.  7.  karaoke with ashley.        8. learn to play the ukulele.  9.  read 25 books.  10. go to boston.  11.  meet someone famous.          12.  learn to knit

okay; i'll leave the rest for another day, or never.

the first thing I crossed off was chalk the block, you can read about it in my last post.

#2; I met someone famous.
My friend Diane invited me to go to a book launch with her and I met New York Times best selling author Jennifer A. Nielsen.  I have a picture of her and I but not on this computer.

#3; learn to knit.
Okay, I still have a LONG ways to go before I can say I'm pro at knitting, but I did learn and am still practicing.  I taught myself, thanks to youtube videos.  I feel like a grandma whenever I knit but it's relaxing and I'm excited to get better at this new hobby.  Watch out, you might all be getting sweaters for every holiday and birthday now.

#4; read 25 books.  Uh....I read 25 books in roughly...3 months.  Embarrassing? Nah.  Pathetic? Perhaps.  I just really love to read and I don't have any other form of social life for the most part.  Want a list of the 25 books I read? Good, because you're getting one.  Mind you, most of the books are cheesy romance books. Some are teen fiction.  I tried to throw in a variety but I failed terribly. I'll give each book a star ranking, based on how I felt I liked them...

1. No Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown ***
2. Love On A Whim by Aubrey Mace *****
3. Persuaded by Jenni James ****
4. Pride and Popularity by Jenni James ****
5.  Kiss and Blog by Allyson Noel *
6. Spotlight by Traci Hunter Abramson ****
7. Always Will by Melanie Jacobson *****
8. If We Kiss by Rachel Vail **
9. Kiss Me Again by Rachel Vail *
10. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (mandatory read for school) ***
11. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine ***
12. Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass ****
13. Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts *****
14. The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner *****
15. Happy Again by Jennifer Smith ****
16. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan  ***
17. His Personal Relationship Manager by Jennifer Peel ****
18. Twist of Fate by Rachael Anderson ****
19. Jessie Belle by Jennifer Peel ***
20. The Girl in Seat 24B by Jennifer Peel ***
21. Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson *****
22. Rough Around the Edges by Rachael Anderson *****
23. Stick In the Mud Meets Spontaneity by Rachael Anderson *****
24. Professional Boundaries by Jennifer Peel ****
25. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella ****

So...I apparently like to read books by the same authors.  But most of these are just ones I could get through the library's e-book app.  I also never give up on a book unless the language and content is terrible.  I'm not promising that these are all the best books ever.  In fact, would I recommend most of these? Probably not.  I'm hoping that I will broaden my horizons through the rest of this year.  If I find any note worthy  books I will share them here on the blog.

Until next time..

Friday, September 25, 2015

25 in 25; #1- Participate in Chalk the Block

Here's the deal; I turned 25 years old 4 days ago.  About 2 months ago I decided I wanted to create a 25 in 25 bucket list.  The first thing on my list was "participate in Chalk the Block".  It may have been on my list simply because I was already registered for it, and it fell on my birthday, but it seemed like  a good way to start out 25.

Chalk the Block is a chalk art festival held in Provo, Utah at the Shops at Riverwoods.  Each artist is given a parking space and are required to cover 8 ft by 8 ft of it in chalk.  I saw that registration was open a few months ago and told Courtney that she should sign up for it.  She told me she would only sign up for it if I did it with her.  So the decision was made, I would participate in Chalk the Block.  I was planning on just letting Courtney do the drawing and I could help color, seemed like a good plan.  Courtney had other ideas, she wanted me to do some of the drawing as well.  The theme for Chalk the Block was "From Sea to Shining Sea".  At first we wanted to draw Lilo and Stitch, then we wanted to do ocean animals, then we talked about doing Finding Nemo.  We finally met a week before Chalk the Block to decide what we were going to do.  We found a picture from Finding Nemo that we liked and thought we could replicate.

Thursday, September 17.  I had to work so I couldn't get down to Provo until about 2:00, Courtney had gotten there at 10:00, left, and then went back about 1:00.  When I got there Courtney had drawn out a grid and then started drawing some coral.  I started drawing an octopus, and after I finished that I drew a fish.   That was as far as I got on Thursday before I headed home.

Friday, September 18.  My birthday.  I got down to Provo about 10:30 or 11:00 and started drawing.  Courtney had added a sand bank after I left the night before, so I drew an eel and added in a little more sand and some water.   At 12:00 I left our space to go have lunch with Tammi, but when  I got to the Provo Beach Resort Tammi surprised me by inviting Ashley and Mari along.  We had a nice lunch at Bajio and then they came back to see our progress on our picture.  After they left Courtney and I attacked it with full force.  At some point that afternoon Cassi and her family came by to see what we were drawing and wish me a happy birthday.  It was about 7:00 or so and Courtney and I looked at our photo and realized we had a large space that really needed something added to it.  I came up with the idea of adding a sunken ship in to take up a large space.  So at 7:00 I sketched out a rough looking ship, but then Courtney came in and made it look 100 times better.  After she finished drawing it I started to color it in while she finished some coral, when she was done with that she started to color in the boat as well.  It was 8:30 pm by the time we finished for the day.  We didn't know how the boat looked and if our colors blended well together or not.

Saturday, September 19.  I wasn't supposed to get down to Provo until close to noon on Saturday, but  I got there about 11:00 and started working.  I think I added a crab before Courtney made it.  During the night some water ran through the middle of our picture so Courtney touched that up and I added some lines on the boat.  Courtney did a lot of finishing touches, shading, and blending colors on the lower half of the picture, and I started to add in all of the blue for the water.  We had to be finished with our art by 3:00 pm, we finished at 2:54.  Six minutes to spare.  We tried to win the award for "Best Use of Color", we didn't win anything, but we were happy with our result.

A few fun facts:  We didn't  use the grid system that was drawn, and we didn't have a photo to go off of, we just started to add things in here and there.  I was drawing cartoon animals, while Courtney was drawing realistic corals, at the beginning we weren't sure how that would look, but the more details we added the more it came together.  Because we didn't have a picture to go off of we started working from the bottom up, and then we went from the center, out.  Eventually we ran out of good places to sit without sitting on our drawings.  I needed to add some fish up at the top so I ended up drawing them upside down, since I was sitting at the very very top of the space.  Neither Courtney or I had ever done a picture so large, I had never worked with chalk, and Courtney hadn't used it a whole lot.  We were very much amateur's going in to this event, we still are.  But we now know that we have what it takes to finish and we are planning on doing it again next year.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

nothing...absolutely nothing

"What are you doing in life?"  "What's new?"  "What are you up to?"  

Those three questions are my least favorite questions to be asked right now.  I dread running into people I haven't seen in a while because I know the inevitable will happen.  

Let me tell you what my response is when asked those questions.  "I am doing nothing, absolutely nothing."  It's the truth, I'm not doing anything.  I wake up, play with my nephew, go to work, come home, eat, read, and go to bed. Then the next day I do the exact same thing.  Occasionally I do fun things on the weekends, but nothing extraordinary.  I don't mind this really.  I am fine with my mundane lifestyle, for the moment.  I know things will change soon and I will miss being able to do nothing.  

So why do I hate those questions if I don't mind my answers?  I hate the response I get from people when I say I'm doing nothing.  It's as if I am a horrible person for "doing nothing".  "What??!?! That's not true.  You've gotta be doing something?"  "Yes you are doing something, what are you doing?"  

Please.  Thank you for your concern over my lack of adventure.  But please.  Let me live this lovely life of doing nothing.  Soon, I'll be doing something, I'm sure.  Please, if you ask me what I'm doing, and I respond "nothing" leave it at that....don't try to convince me that I'm doing things, because I'm actually okay that my life is "boring".

Sunday, July 26, 2015

{super hero letter}

"It’s a’s a’s.....Superman?”  Nah, I’m never going to have a tag line like Superman, most likely I won’t have a fancy car like Batman, and I’m not going to be able to swing from skyscrapers like Spiderman. I may not be a superhero that is out saving the world from the newest villain, and I may never be the headliner in the newspaper. Don’t worry though, I’m a different kind of superhero.  Perhaps a better kind of superhero.
There are going to be people in the world who will tell me that I’m not a hero, and that my “super power” isn’t really a super power, I’ll just ignore them.  What I’ve got, it’s pretty special.  
You see, I’ve got a quiet strength about me.  Perhaps we should say my super power is invisibility.  But, that almost denotes some negativity in my mind.  It’s not so much invisibility but the super power to “hide” amongst the crowd, knowing when you are needed and reappear. 
Sometimes people think they need a big fancy superhero to rescue them from the bad in the world.  In my experiences, they don’t need the pomp and circumstance, and that’s why I think my super power is special.  When they come to their senses they will realize what they need is someone like me.  Someone who can be there for them, to listen, to care, to lend a helping hand.
You can see how some people would scoff and laugh at my super power.  It’s not an easy life amongst all these big powerful superheroes.  They are always picking on me, and trying to convince me that I’m not a superhero.  I’m doing my best not to allow them to get me down, but it can be hard.  
That’s where the strength in quiet strength comes into play.  It’s taken me a few years to figure this out, but I’m full of inner strength, especially when it comes to defeating the every day villains I may have to face.  These villains that I face, generally aren’t strangers, or scary monsters, but friends- people I love and trust. To quote a beloved fictional character, Albus Dumbledore, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”  So those other super heroes can go and fight off the monsters, but I’ll do things my way.
I try to do things in more of a peace keeper type way rather than fighting.  Kill them with kindness, right?  Not only do I face these daily villains, but I try my hardest to help those who are in need of a little extra boost.  Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear, having a super power of quiet strength makes this job rather easy.  I find great joy and reward in listening to someone else’s problems and possibly offering a small piece of advice.  
Maybe one day the “popular” superheroes will realize that I am just as much of a super hero as they are, and perhaps the world will appreciate me for who I am and not try to make me someone else.  But until that day I will continue to show them how powerful I can be.  How much good I can do in the world, and how much strength it takes to have the super power of “quiet strength/invisibility”.  Being a superhero doesn’t have to be about the thrills and the frills, you can be a superhero by living an every day life and just caring for those you come in contact with.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"A dream is a wish your heart makes...."

Growing up I had one education dream; to attend BYU.  I'm sure that's the dream  a lot of LDS kids had growing up in Utah.  I carried that dream with me until high school, senior year to be exact.  It was time to start applying for college and BYU didn't even make my list.  I applied to the U of U, UVU, Snow, SUU, and Dixie State.  BYU was no longer on my list because reality hit, it was expensive and I didn't have the grades I thought I needed.  My cousin convinced me to at least apply; so...I sat down with my seminary teacher and began the process.  That's all I did...began the process.  I stopped before I got halfway through.  So...I went to Snow, then SLCC, and finally UVU.   I graduated from UVU in December of 2014 with my associates degree.  An Associate's of Science with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education, and a One Year Teaching certificate.  I told myself I was done for awhile.  School was draining and no longer fun.  Then, I found out about the BYU-Idaho Pathway program.  It is essentially a program for people who hadn't had the opportunity to attend school, needed to return, or other such circumstances.   I saw some pluses in it, the price was right, it would give me a break without an actual break, and I'd be able to eventually get that bachelor's degree I wanted.
I started the Pathway program in January, I found myself falling in love with the way the classes went.  I liked the constant comparison between secular and temporal knowledge.  I started to have the thought in my mind that maybe now would be a good time to attempt my dream.  Although, my dream was slightly different now.  Instead of BYU, it was BYU-I.  Enter my trip to Rexburg in February.  It felt right, it felt so right, every part of it.  The Monday after I got home I was talking to my neighbor, who I also work with and I said "I'm going to apply to BYU-I."  I hadn't told my parents, and I kind of surprised myself that I was so willing to share the info.  She told me "Good for you, that's my dream for you."  I eventually talked to my mom and told her my plans.  She was happy, and encouraged me to go for it.  So I did, I took that leap, a leap that was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.  I applied for BYU-Idaho, I looked for a place to live, I started saving every penny of my paycheck.  My bishop was excited for me, he told me it would be a good experience, my stake president and the 1st counselor in the stake presidency agreed.   All signs were pointing north.  I was waiting for a letter in the mail, I was hoping one would come, and I was obviously hoping for the BIG envelope.  Well, I got tired of waiting so I checked online.  I saw the six letter word that I didn't want to see.  D-E-N-I-E-D right next to "application status".  Then I saw the letter.  I read it, 5 minutes before I was supposed to be at work on Monday.  I cried, for two seconds.  I told my mom, feeling like a failure that "my application was denied." I said it as fast as I could, hoping that maybe she wouldn't hear and I wouldn't have to deal.  She heard, I had to deal.  I tried to look for the positive in this situation.  I put all of my eggs into this one basket.  I had my life pointing in the direction of BYU-Idaho and suddenly it wasn't pointing anywhere specific.  Everyone has told me that "the Lord has something better in store for you." and words of advice like that.   I didn't like hearing that, and I still don't; because I'm stuck in that phase of saying "If something felt so right, and everyone was on the same page, why was it not the right thing?"  A dear woman, who I love like a second mother, well...she basically is my second mom (she took care of me when I was "sick" in 3rd grade just about everyday...and she is one of my best friends' moms.) commented on a picture I had posted on facebook; this is what she said.. "Jana good for you for taking the leap.  You never know what is around the corner and what doors may open just because you were ready and willing to take that leap.  Keep pressing forward and you will see what the Lord has in store for you!" It really opened my eyes to a new perspective.  Maybe it wasn't BYU-I that felt right, maybe it was me; trusting in my Heavenly Father, and making a leap that I otherwise wouldn't have done.  As hard as it is for me to now tell people whom I've told that I was going to be moving, that I'm in fact, not moving, and how much my heart is broken that I'm not moving.  I'm relying on my faith that the Lord does have something better in store for me and maybe all I needed to do was show Him that I could make a leap.

Marion Darlene Christensen

February 1, 2015... another day when my world crashed down a little bit more.  It had been just about 6 months since I said goodbye to my grandpa on my mom's side, and I had to say goodbye to my grandma on my dad's side; my last living grandparent.  Her death was sudden, and unexpected. However, Grandma had been saying for 6 years that she wanted to go.  She missed my grandpa and my cousin too much.  I was going to write the events leading up to her passing, but decided against it.  Instead, here's what I would have said at my grandma's grave side service; if I had chosen to do so.

"To say I am going to miss my grandma is an understatement.
My whole life I have lived
no more than 10 minutes away from her home.
She was the one who would take care of me if I was sick
and my parents were at work.  
Sunday afternoons were spent at her home.
Any holiday, she had a celebration.
She was the one I would tell about my new job,
the test I had coming up, 
or my weekend plans.
She made the best toast in the world,
and I have yet to figure out her secret!
My grandma was one of the most amazing people that walked this earth.
She was so kind to everyone she met.
She was strong, so strong.
She kept going even when she wanted so badly to stop.
She was the glue of our family after Grandpa passed away.
She made sure we saw each other often.  She planned activities to help us grow closer
as a family and closer to Christ.
Grandma made the best food! Toast; cake; gravy; candy; everything.
Going to Grandma's house was the cure to a bad day,
a busy week,
or a sick stomach.
She was the best listener.  Sometimes she didn't have much to say
but she offered the greatest listening ear.
Nights sitting in her backyard, talking, listening to the world around us
was a great way to spend summer nights.
Our family gathered at Grandma's for everything.
Sometimes planned; sometimes sporadically."

It's been two months since we said goodbye to grandma.  I had a hard time with her passing, but I bounced back.  Easter was hard, very hard.  The fact that it landed on conference weekend made it double hard.  At times I think I can still just walk down the street and find grandma home, waiting for some visitors.  Then reality strikes, and I remember she's not.  How blessed I am that I had her in my life, and that I was able to see her so often.

Monday, February 23, 2015

{a four hour car ride} that might have been a mistake...

I visited Rexburg, Idaho over the weekend.  I'd been telling my old roommate Courtney that I would come visit her and her husband while they were at BYU-I but I was always so busy with school.  So, since I graduated, I decided to go.  I was excited, so excited.  Until, I realized I would have a four hour car ride, by myself.  No one to talk to, no one to trade driving with if I got tired, just me.  As it turned out, four hours with just me, some music, and the open road wasn't so bad.  About a week before I was to go up I told Courtney, "Now, if I come up you have to promise me you won't convince me to move up there."  Ever since I started the Pathway Program through BYU-I the thought of just moving to Rexburg has crossed my mind a number of times.  As I pulled out of my driveway Friday afternoon I told myself "Don't fall in love with Rexburg." (Remember, I have a love of small towns.)  I told myself I needed to put some new music on my phone, because hooking my phone up and shuffling through music is easier to do than switching out CD's all the time.  Well, as it turns out, I didn't have time to add new music, so I was limited on my music choices.  I thought for sure I would need some upbeat, bass pumping music to get me through the drive.  I was wrong.  I listened to the same album on my phone for just about the whole four hours, each way.  I'm sure you're thinking, what does this have to do with anything?  Well.  As much as I love small towns, I love music even more, and I tend to learn some great lessons from songs, even if the lesson I learn isn't exactly the message the song is trying to portray.  Before I go much further, I should say this.  A part of me knew that in driving to Rexburg I was running from my life in Sandy.  Not that it is bad, but there are things happening that have had me wanting to run for awhile.  The fact that the second I got on the freeway and felt all of my worries and pain wash away I knew this trip would be for the best.  Somewhere on a long stretch of freeway in northern Utah or Idaho a song came on, and I knew, within a second, that this trip to Rexburg was going to be hard.  Hard because I knew I wouldn't want to leave.  Lately I've been enamored with a local band called The National Parks.  They are the perfect mix of calm and soothing music mixed with an upbeat vibe.   I am pretty sure by this time in the drive I had listened to the CD 3 times over, as well as listening to the CD every day for the past two weeks.  I don't remember where I was exactly on the drive, close to Malad I think.  All I know, is that I was driving in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but hills, fields, and sage brush as my scenery, when the song "Ghosts" came on. The song is about a boy who leaves his home for a girl, just to find out she isn't his one true love so he goes home.
The chorus goes like this... "So I'll go home, to rest my soul.  And all my ghosts, they'll be gone and I'll be home." After the second time through the chorus the girl sings; "And if you're looking for life, just keep running to me.  Cuz you just might find it..."
I'm pretty sure tears were streaming down my face at this point.  Though I wasn't running home, and I wasn't running because of a fallen love, I was running, and to be honest, I felt like I was running home.  That is when I knew I was in trouble.  Rexburg was amazing.  We didn't do a whole lot, but it was everything I needed and more to clear my head.  We walked around campus, and I felt like I belonged.  It was such a surreal feeling.  When I drove into town on Friday night, I had no idea where I was supposed to go, so I followed the signs toward campus and the temple.  From there, I figured out where Courtney lived.  This sounds weird, but it was like I knew exactly where to go.  Even though it is a small town, I had no problem just going to the exact streets I needed to go to.  When I came home to Sandy yesterday, I struggled leaving Rexburg.  So I drove around, and ended back up at the temple where I sat and pondered things.  I drove out of town with more tears in my eyes.  I felt like I was leaving home.  Somehow, I fell in love with that small town, even though I told myself I wouldn't.  I woke up in Utah today, and cried a little because I didn't want to be here.  Maybe, someday, maybe, I will go back to Rexburg, and I won't have to leave so quickly.