Sunday, January 22, 2017

Shoveling Snow


I shoveled snow for the first time in my life today. I loved it.

I was a little bothered that a neighbor came to help me get the driveway cleared because I wanted to say I'd done it all by myself, but I think when someone offers to help shovel snow, you're supposed to accept. I mean, I haven't read any etiquette books lately, but I'm sure that's in there.

At any rate, I had fun. Snow in Utah is drier and lighter than snow in any other part of the country, so I imagine I'm sort of living a life of snow luxury. I'll enjoy it while I can.


Thing I'm thankful for: hugs and kisses from nieces and nephews

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Snow

When it snows in Utah, I like to go for late-night walks. My neighborhood is largely composed of childless adults and elderly couples, so there is plenty of untouched snow to mess up. Tonight, I wandered through a couple of nearby parks and up to the state capitol, where the glow of street lamps made me feel like time had stopped. By the time I walked down to Temple Square, it was midnight, and it felt like only an hour had passed.

Snow is a funny thing. It makes me feel a range of emotions: excitement, loneliness, gratitude, romance, nostalgia, thoughtfulness, mindlessness, pride, and sadness. I think it's good, though. I think it's good to feel all of those feelings and examine them. I learn so much about myself during those quiet walks in the snow, and I sort of wish they would never end. I also recognize that Utah––a state that gives me so much grief––affords this opportunity of stillness and introspection. Utah is not without its wonders, not the least of which is the arrival of snow each Winter. It is my second favorite part about this place.











Thing I'm thankful for: snow boots and long johns

Monday, November 28, 2016

Post-Thanksgiving Confession

So this is the time of year when I'm supposed to say what I'm thankful for. To list all of the things that make me happy to be alive. And yet. It hasn't been an easy thing to do. Those of you who have kept up with my blog over the years have no doubt noticed two big things about it:
  1. I list something I'm thankful for at the end of each post.
  2. I blog regularly, rarely skipping whole months at a time.
This year has been different. Let me tell you why.

In June, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. It wasn't a surprise. I had been feeling worthless and hopeless and lonely for several months leading up to that point, and . . . What can I say, really, but the truth? There were plenty of times when I didn't want to be alive. When I daydreamed of scenarios in which I was rushed to the hospital, though everyone knew it was too late.

There's no way to describe the utter sadness that is depression. I thought I had an idea because I tend to be somewhat melancholy, but I didn't truly know how dark the world could seem under a cloud of depression. The darkness seems to come out of nowhere, too, and you think you're going crazy because one day you find yourself kneeling on the floor and sobbing your eyes out because again, you feel worthless and hopeless and lonely. Normally, you would "buck up" and go out with friends, pick up a forgotten hobby, or fill your life with busy-ness. Normally, you would have a strategy for finding a solution to the problem at hand. But this time––this time you don't want to see anyone, you lose interest in the parts of life you used to find joy in, and the most difficult part of the day is getting out of bed in the morning. This time, you find it nearly impossible to think clearly. For me, that meant no writing on my blog and no "Thing I am thankful for." It was hard enough just to be thankful for life.

Why am I saying all of this? Why am I admitting to this . . . awful thing? Because I've thought a lot about gratitude lately and what, exactly, I'm grateful for. Well, more than anything else––more than desserts and a home and a job and a car and clothes and family and religion––I'm grateful for people's attention. I'm grateful when someone asks me how I am and listens to the answer. I'm grateful when someone says, "How was your day?" I'm grateful when someone remembers something I mentioned a few weeks ago and follows up. I'm grateful when people take an interest.

Sometimes I tell people about my depression, and they say, "What can I do to help?" Here's what you can do––with me and with everyone, depressed or not:

Take an interest.

Take an interest in the lives of the people around you. Ask them questions and listen to the answers. Don't spend valuable listening time thinking of the next thing you can say. Just listen. Ask about people's hobbies and work. Ask them what they've been thinking about lately. Ask them if they've got any exciting vacation plans coming up. Ask them about their families and their lives.

The world is full of people who don't realize that the most important things in life aren't actually things––they're people. People who are closely connected to you, as well as people who are not.

I am grateful for people who take an interest in me and who make me feel like I am an important part of their lives. That if I vanished, they would notice.


Addendum: The point of this post was not to subtly request praise or words of love––though I do enjoy both of those things. ;) It was, however, a request that you pay attention to the people around you and take an interest in their lives. If a friend tells you he had a bad day, ask him about it. Pay attention to the people in your life, and make them feel loved by showing interest.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Doing Happy Things


I don't want to get into the details here, except to say that I've had to work really hard at being happy and engaged with life lately. Mostly, I feel like I'm not doing a very good job of it, but in the last few weeks, one thing in particular has helped: rowing. That's right; I've picked up rowing again. It's so nice to be on a boat in the water.* I had forgotten how rowing made me feel. I had forgotten that it makes me feel strong and confident and focused on nothing but the rhythm of my oars.

I had forgotten that doing things that make us happy . . . Make us happy. Or at least suspend sadness for a little while. I think that as we get older, we forget what makes us happy. Or we remember, but we overlook those things because we have boring-but-necessary adult things to do. And I think what we don't realize––what I didn't realize––was that by making happy activities a priority, we fill our souls with lightness, so that we are better able to handle the boring-but-necessary adult things. The stressful things. The scary things and the sad things.

Once I remembered that rowing makes me happy, I remembered other things that make me happy:

  • Being outside
  • Being near a body of water
  • Baking
  • Spending time with family, especially my nieces and nephews
  • Making people laugh
  • Having conversations with David
  • Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Taking evening walks
  • Going to concerts
  • Appreciating art

My challenge to you, dear readers, is to remember what makes you happy and spend some time doing those things!


*The Great Salt Lake, to be exact.



Thing I'm thankful for: finding my Nalgene water bottle

Friday, July 01, 2016

Open Letter to Single Women

Dear Single Women,

If you are in your late twenties or beyond and you are interested in a male who is in his late twenties or beyond, call him what he is: a man. He is not a boy.* He may sometimes act childish (as we all do), but "boy" is a word reserved for males under age 18 and really––more precisely––for a male who is a baby to somewhere around 11 or 12. After that, he is a "young man" or "guy."

You can continue to use "guy" until a male is in his late twenties and maybe even into his 30s, but once he hits 35, you should start calling him a man. Especially if he has facial hair.

"But Sara," you may ask, "What if he acts like a boy?" Who cares? As I mentioned earlier––yes, he may act childish, but so do you. So does everyone. But maybe if you call him a man, he will act like one more often.

And let's get real, here: Calling a man a "boy" is not cute. I don't care how many times you've seen "Notting Hill." You are not the star in a movie, and you are not getting paid enough to say such silly things such as "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." It's not romantic; it's embarrassing.


Sincerely,
Sara



*Yes, I have heard women call men "boys" countless times. Here are some real-life examples: "Did you see any boys you like?" "She met this boy in the library." "I went on a date with this boy."

Friday, May 27, 2016

In the Quiet Heart

After talking to a friend tonight for a long time about a lot of things, this hymn came to mind: Lord, I Would Follow Thee. I especially love the second and third verses of this hymn:

Who am I to judge another,
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.

I would be my brother's keeper;
I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother's keeper––
Lord, I would follow thee.


"In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see." Those lines. Those lines express so much of what I'm feeling right now, and I'm in awe of the people who get close to seeing that sorrow and offer a gentle heart to the quiet one.

Thank you, Nick, for a gentle heart.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Omniscience

If you know me at all, you know that I think a lot about agency and decision-making and how God fits into all of that––rather, how God's omniscience fits into all of that. Without a doubt, it's the topic I think about more than any other in this world, and it's also the topic that I think more people should think about. I really do believe that omniscience is the thing that truly distinguishes God from everyone else. Yes, he's omnipotent, too, and the creator of mankind, etc., etc., but omniscience . . . That's the key. That's the trait that makes him God.

So. Last Sunday, Merriam-Webster's word for the day was "omniscient." Here's their definition:
  1. having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight
  2. possessed of universal or complete knowledge

It's difficult for me to put my thoughts into words, but something about this definition struck me. There is nothing in it about perfection.* There is also nothing in it about time. This tells me two things:
  • Anyone can be omniscient. It is an attainable thing. I'm sure it would take a long time to be omniscient, but I don't think it's impossible. Nor do I think it's improbable, especially as a Mormon who believes in some kind of eternal afterlife. Indeed, my idea of heaven is that it is a place of learning––learning to the point of complete knowledge and understanding. And it starts here, on this earth. Heaven is now, and it is all around us.

  • God cannot empirically see the future. He can completely understand all there is to understand, but he doesn't look at the future as if it were displayed in a crystal ball. One could argue that he can actually see the future because eternal time is non-linear, and while I agree that eternal time is non-linear, I don't necessarily think that the future actions of people can be seen. "Read," as in "reading the future" might be more on the mark, and I'll explain it like this: I was at my friend's house for dinner last week, and his toddler was playing with a ball near the dinner table. He lifted his arm up in the air and as the twinkle in his eye appeared, my friend said, "No––throw the ball over there." Why? Because without seeing the scene play out, he knew what was on his son's mind. His own experience in being a boy himself and knowledge of his son's past behavior and present developmental stage told him that what his toddler wanted to do––was about to do––was to throw the ball on the table, destroying everything that was dinner. It could be argued that he read the future.

    If God sees the end from the beginning,** then it is because he has infinite awareness, understanding, and insight of himself and others. He knows all there is to know about people and things.

Why does any of this matter? Why do I think it should matter to you? Because it's empowering! It gives life purpose! It also, however, puts responsibility on us––to be deliberate about life . . . to choose and to act and to be mindful. It's not okay to give everything over to God; it's not okay to make him do all the work or to blame him for everything that goes wrong (or right!) in life. Believing in an omniscient God isn't a pass to be ignorant. If anything, it's an obligation to learn.


*I'm working on a post about perfection because I don't think perfection––in a Christian sense––means what people seem to think it means.


Thing I'm thankful for: slumber parties with nieces