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Monday, April 26, 2010

new science

As most things begin nowadays for me, I was at the library and I came across the following book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. First thought that came to mind? No, duh. Second thought? What's "new" about gratitude?

A few days later I came across an article from the March 2010 Ensign magazine, The Value of Experiencing and Expressing Gratitude by Dr. Vaughn E. Worthen. Dr. Worthen is the director of the counseling center through Brigham Young University and expressed his professional opinion on the impact of gratitude. He explained that this "new" field of study is directing patients to push their thoughts and actions towards behaviors of gratitude in all that they do. According to Dr. Worthen, "Current case studies and research show that cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms in cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of well-being, and a greater satisfaction with life. Grateful people tend to generate more positive memories, reminding them of the good in their lives. Those with higher levels of gratitude are viewed as more empathetic and supportive, more forgiving, and more likely to assist others. Grateful people also report feeling less envious and more generous with their possessions. They thus enjoy better quality relationships."

This professional insight to gratitude meant a lot to me, but still, this isn't a "new" practice, is it? In 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 18 we read, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." This scripture teaches us that everything requires a grateful heart. Then in Doctrine and Covenants 78 verse 19, " And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more."

Gratitude is an action of receiving, an act of humility reverencing the abilities of others. From this, just as Dr. Worthen pointed out, comes an increased ability and capacity for happiness. It is no wonder to me that the scriptures repeat time and time again the necessity of giving thanks. According to the writings of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." Gratitude allows the heart to open to its full capacity and allow love in so that an individual can be nothing but happy.

So, to all of those in the field of psychology, I admire your efforts in this "new" field, but I hate to report that it is really as old as the sands of time. Blessings beyond measure, happiness beyond belief awaits those who bestow upon themselves an attitude of gratitude based on the teachings of Jesus Christ from the creation of the world.

Friday, April 23, 2010

a case study in support of the early development of machoism

The subject in observation was a young man of approximately seven years of age. He had a military-esque coif to compliment his sun bleached hair and surprisingly tanned skin for so early in the season. The boy was left to his own devices in the library and made his way into the children's section.
His confident strut indicated that he was in need of a task, a mission. He found a case of his own. A little girl of approximately the same age but, to the young man, but in a far more desperate situation than himself. With imaginary cape strapped securely about his husky neck, the boy leapt into action.
His deep voice rumbled through the children's section as he told all who would listen that he was trying to find a book for the little girl. As any good damsel would, the girl kept our hero on his toes, never quite satisfied with the book he had retrieved. But he was in earnest. The right book would be found for his heroine.
Sadly, both subjects were hastened from the library by their guardians before a proper literary resource could be agreed upon. All that was left in their wake were stacks of discarded picture books.

Friday, April 16, 2010

love is blind

Parents are unfailingly bias. I recently requested aid in my search for more permanent employment. The Tall Guy responded by sending me an email with a link to a posting on monster.com. I went to the posting to see that Alicia Keys is looking for a professional blogger to maintain her new website. My father and I talked about it and he said that I was the perfect fit for the personality the internationally-acclaimed singer/songwriter is in search of.

"She wants someone who motivates others and inspires them. That's you, Boo!"

I blushed and smiled under the confidence my father has in my talents. Then I read through the qualifications and job demands more thoroughly. My dad saw nothing but my talents while I saw nothing but how I was, yet again, under-qualified for a job.

So I got to thinking, Why don't I apply for the job? It's a shot in the dark for any of the tens of thousands of people I'm sure are bound to send in their resume. But why not? I always see my faults, why shouldn't I see my potential and just jump off a cliff for once? Tall Guy, thanks for only seeing me through your rose-colored glasses and thereby reminding me that I really am all that and a bag of chips. One day, I'll find my niche. Today, I'll apply for the job of a lifetime.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

be well..

I'm an NPR addict. I can't get enough of it. In fact, one of the highlights of recent weeks for me has to be the afternoon I made a meager donation to the local NPR station. Then heard my name over the radio a few minutes later. What this says about my level of academic geek, I'm not sure, but it's just how it is.

Every so often, I'll catch a small segment done by Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion in which he highlights literature. In fact, I'm pretty sure the segment is called The Writer's Corner or something like that. Anyway, he reads poems and gives history to the lives of certain authors and key figures in history. It's absolutley delicious stuff.

At the end of each segment, Keillor signs off with the phrase, "Be well, do good things, and keep in touch." I remember the first time I heard this because I was livid that I was driving down the interstate and unable to write it down. "Be well, do good things, and keep in touch."

Do you realize how much wisdom and how many life lessons could be learned from that little snippet? A lot!

Be well: take care of yourself, be happy, exercise, get out of the house, enjoy the sun, don't drive like a moron.

Do good things: serve. Serve. Serve. And be happy about it. Fill your time with good, worthwhile activities, not just things to pass the time. And then be happy.

Keep in touch: call Grandma. Write a letter. Talk to someone beyond a "poke" on Facebook. Read the newspaper. Write in your journal. Read the scriptures. Read a book. Go for a walk. Call a friend.

And that's just the stuff off the top of my head!

"Be well, do good things, and keep in touch."

Working on it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

mayday! mayday!

I need help.

There! I said it! I need help.

It's taken me the better part of a month to say that, but it's finally coming out. I need help. I've been needing help for weeks now. Individuals have offered their aid, but I flat out have not known what my needs are. In between crying fits and just trying to survive emotionally, it didn't seem like anyone could really be of assistance. That, and I have no clue how to ask for help. Needing the aid of others has always seemed such a selfish desire when there are so many others who are in more dire situations than myself.

But I'm drowning. The SSS Engquist is taking on water and sinking fast with no land in sight. So it is that I'm sending out this distress signal before I'm really in over my head.

Emotionally, much of what is going on still needs to be sorted through on my own and on my knees. But, I have compiled a list of things that I am in need of now that I know for certain I cannot attend to on my own.

  • Employment- I'm needing to find a more substantial, stable job. Though I am currently employed, I am barely surviving on what I am bringing in and it is causing me constant stress. It would be great to find something with a more consistent schedule to free up some much needed time to be social. My contacts in Columbus are still fairly limited, however, and I'm not even sure where to begin looking.
  • Information on freelance writing- Under the suggestion of many over the past few years in particular, I'm wanting to begin writing professionally but have no clue how to do so.
  • Maintain current body weight- Basically, shove food down my throat. I'm not eating enough for any number of reasons and it's resulting in me losing too much weight. I'm not proud of this...at all. But really, shove food down my throat.
  • Access to a computer with the Microsoft Office Suite- Long story, but my computer does not have this, which is problematic when I try to revamp my resume and other documents in preparation for applying to graduate school...again.
  • Social life- PLEASE ask me to do things! My schedule has been such that I have no idea what is going on anywhere anymore. Walks, movies, group outings, just let me know that they're happening. That said..
  • Patience- Be patient with me. Keep asking me to do things. Call me. Harass me. I'm going to say "No" multiple times, I can guarantee it. It's not for want of social interaction, but because I am desperately fighting the desire to give into a reclusive lifestyle.
Much of this is directed at those of you who have befriended me here in Columbus. You are a wonderful lot and I am utterly grateful for you. It is for this reason that I turn to you now.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

creatively processing

Nearly every art history class I have ever taken has begun with the Greeks, the fathers of Western culture. One of the greatest components of their society was the dramatic arts. Oratory, comedy, and tragedy, these were what the Greeks treasured. In the latter of these genres, the performance was considered successful if and only if the audience experienced catharsis.
To our modern sensibilities, catharsis resonates with the idea of healing and restoration. While this is true, the Greeks understood catharsis to be so much more. It was a process of purifying, purifying the soul through the exhuming of extreme emotions. Unlike a movie today that may make you cry, a cathartic Greek piece made you feel to the utmost. Grief, sorrow, pain, joy. After this, this period of purging, burning the soul, came renewal.
I have been undergoing this ancient tradition for over a week now through a piece of my own art. Buried knee-deep in old journal entries, letters, and stories, I tackled my current demons through those of my past. I reread much of what I have written over the past couple of years. It hurt. Physical pain consumed me for a couple of days as demons ripped at my heart.
After everything had been read, I cut it all up into little pieces. I reexamined it and the fragments of my soul suddenly made more sense. My heart felt, above all else, a renewed and strengthened capacity to love. Catharsis, my friends, is a horrendous, painful, therapeutic, rejuvenating, peace-inducing process.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

easter, more than just eggs

The Ransom
by the Tall Guy

Today I paid your ransom.
Today I put your burden onto me.
I will always love you forever
So today, please choose to be free.

Today I paid the price
for your ransom you see
So now you are free to choose
that a slave you’ll no longer be.

The Penalty has been Paid.
The foundation for your freedom has been laid.
What will your future bring?
What kind of songs will your heart sing?

Songs of True Love?
Songs of True Hope for Tomorrow?
Songs of Joy?
Or the Sad Songs of Sorrow?

Where is your path?
What path do you seek?
What path will you follow?
Your destiny, what will it be?

To suffer continuing slavery to addictions,
Is this the path you will choose?
For destructive self indulgent pleasures
All your freedoms will you loose?

What will be the price for your soul?
Will it be sold for mere Silver or Gold?
Or will you seek for the light
and choose to do right?

Will you seize the day?
Take responsibility for yourself?
Or, will you continue to blame others
As you squander and mock their help?

Will your life be lived well?
How far will you go?
After goodness or evil?
What are the seeds you will sow?

It’s still all up to you,
as it always has been,
You can choose to remain in hell,
or you can break free from your sin.

You have all the power
because you have the choice.
So please pray to Our Father in Heaven.
Pray with all your heart, soul, and voice.

You are a part of my heart.
You are a part of my soul.
Because of my love for you
your ransom is no more.

This is the song and promise of the One.
The One who loves us ever more.
He is the One
who seeks to heal our terrible sores.

There was a time,
long before time ever began,
Where one who is most evil,
Sought to bind us all slaves unto him.

By him there would be no hope,
No Joy, No Sorrow, No Sin.
By him there would be no Freedom,
for we would be in eternal bondage to him.

But there is one other
the one who truly loves us still.
He offered himself, as a martyr.
He offered himself to be killed.

To pay the required price of ransom.
To save us from our sins.
As our beloved older brother, and Savior,
He is truly our next of kin.

So we chose on that day,
that day long before time began,
We chose the path we would follow.
We pledged our life and souls unto him.

But the evil one was so disappointed.
So in his selfish wrath he swore
Eternal Death and certain Destruction
to those who would dare seek for more.

His existence will never be happy.
He seeks only to destroy.
His pretended love for us poor sinners
is merely a devilish ploy.

He seeks to enslave us in darkness
He seeks to keep us from the Truth.
He seeks to exploit us in our weakness.
Our suffering he will never remove.

But the One who loves us still
He holds out to us a true beacon,
a gleaming bright light on the hill.
if we will only just seek him.

With outstretched arms opened wide
he lovingly and gently pleads,
Please “Come unto me” my dear loved ones.
Please come unto me and be free.

We may not always be so free to choose.
Because of bad choices our freedom we may loose.
But his love will be ours forever,
for us he said, ”Not my will,” but chose only the will of our Father.

Like the clear dawn shining bright
He graciously offers joy, hope, salvation, and might
To free our souls from the dark dreary night
Freely he gives and offers each one a new light.

His light will penetrate all darkness.
His Light illuminates the path of Truth
His Light will overcome all darkness
If we will only just seek and follow the Truth.

I will always love you forever.
You are so much a part of me.
It has not ever been easy,
but a part of me you will always be.

For us who have struggled so greatly,
For us who have slaved with our sin,
For us who are so heavily burdened,
For us Please dear Lord hear our cries from within.

Please help us to move forward.
Please help us to be free.
Please help us to love one another.
Please help us our Savior to see.

Who will we choose to be our Master?
Who can truly save us from Sin?
Will we choose the father of all evil?
Or, will we seek to be with our beloved kin?

Someday love will heal all of our hearts.
Someday love will heal all of our wounds.
Someday my heart will be healed with the tears of your love.
Someday, Someday, hopefully someday soon.

Today I paid your ransom.
Today I put your burden onto me.
I will always love you forever
So today, please, please choose to be free.