Sunday, July 31, 2011

The things you would do if you weren't afraid

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately. Jacob and I both recently read a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, which in many ways is as cheesy as it sounds, but there ain't nothing wrong with a little cheese now and then. It's caused both Jacob and I to sort of re-evaluate. I feel like most of the things in the book were things that I had learned before, and had believed and lived by, but for some reason had forgotten. Things like the power of "positive self-talk," and not allowing yourself to be trapped by "what if's."

So yesterday I started thinking about "all the things I would do if I wasn't afraid."

I would open my heart more fully to everyone around me.

I would be a better friend...I would call more, write more, and visit more.

I would chase bigger dreams.

I would travel more.

I would paint more.

I would get involved in more things that I'm passionate about.

And a lot more. 

But as I was thinking about these things, I realized that for a lot of them, the ONLY thing that's holding me back is fear. Some I started to say "I don't have the money," or "I don't have the time," but even those are just excuses...I'm afraid of making a financial decision that will make my friends and family judge me for a fool. I'm afraid of using my time "unwisely."

I came to realize years ago that it really doesn't matter what anyone in the world thinks of you. Only what God thinks of you, and what you think of you. It sounds selfish at first, and it's hard to let go of the opinions of others---especially those others whom you care the most about. But it's really not's freeing. Selfishness traps you in always choosing what you do and say based on how others will react towards you. When you decide that it doesn't matter what others think of you, you are free to love them and serve them without worrying about what they might think. One of the things the fear book talked about was the idea that "the less you need someone's approval, the more you are able to love them." And if you care what God thinks about you, then you will treat people around you kindly, including yourself. Sometimes, we misinterpret the principles of sacrifice and God's commandment to love others and exclude ourselves from that love. And it takes awhile to figure out what God desires for you, but ultimately, I believe that He is a loving parent, who wants happiness for us, and shows us what we can do to obtain happiness.

And I don't believe He wants us to be afraid. I don't think He wants us to limit ourselves with fears about ourselves, our futures, about what others may think.

So what are you afraid of? Even if the worst possible thing happens, you'll probably be okay. So, go. Do. You don't have to eliminate your fears. Just don't allow yourself to be paralyzed by them. Give yourself time to do the things that scare you. Let go of all the "what if's." Stop "should-ing" all over yourself. =) Dye your hair pink. Save up the money and visit Norway. Introduce yourself to a stranger.

Live the life you've always imagined for yourself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why I now like exercising

The $7 work-out videos at Walmart. They've changed my life.

My sister Beckah recently wrote a blog about why she doesn't like to exercise, so I thought I'd write a response. Here's why at-home work-out videos are superior to any other work out regimen:

1. You can avoid the atmosphere of the gym. The gym is a place where weird people go to find dates. It's a place where you're embarrassed, because there are only so many people you can be sweaty in front of. Plus, if you're just beginning the whole work out thing, you don't have to deal with the judgmental sneers from those who can bench press YOU in addition to what you're bench pressing.

2. You don't have to leave your home. No need to change into work out clothes, pack a bag, get in the car and drive all the way out to wherever. You can wear whatever you want, and you don't have to schedule the trip.

3. No gym membership. Which means more money for other things like books and music and Taco Bell. I guess you do have to pay for the work out video, but still.

4. You can set your own pace. (AKA you can cheat and no one will be the wiser. I mean, if you want to pursue your fitness goal, you shouldn't cheat. But some days, you just don't have it in ya, and the other fitness class members won't judge you if you cut corners.)

5. There's someone cheerfully encouraging you. It's the CHEESIEST thing in the world, but I for one am a fan of being repeatedly told "You can do it!" "Looking good!" "This will give you the rockin' body you deserve!"

6. You can't beat the canned midi loops that you're sweatin' to.

7. You also can't beat the awkwardly smiling fitness girls in the background. I always wonder how they find those. Are they models? Dancers? Is it the kind of thing one's agent would book for you? I like to imagine that they just send someone to wander the gyms of LA, and when they find someone with white enough teeth, they ask them to be a background work out girl.

Anyway, that's my advice. Invest in some at-home work out videos.

Then again, this is coming from the girl who ate 1/3rd of a package of bacon by herself today, so I might not be the best person to give health advice.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Some deep thoughts today...

I've been pondering this blog a lot lately. It's gone through quite a few changes, and I don't think it's done changing yet. When it began, way back in 2004, blogger was still a fairly new thing. I don't think there was such a thing as a "Mormon Mommy Blog." Or fashion blogs. They didn't really exist yet. And for the most part, I knew my audience. I was writing to my family and a few friends, just not in e-mail form, in case anyone else was interested in reading. Now, to my great surprise, I have 175 followers. Which is awesome. And a little strange, just because I only know two dozen of them. Three or four times in the last few years, people I've just met have said to me "This is kind of crazy, but I actually know you from your blog." (One of those people is now my husband.)

I've remained sort of aloof from the blog-world in general as the years have gone by...I only follow three or four blogs of people I don't know, and then I don't even actually "follow" them (via blogger), I just have links on my own blog, or bookmarks. I never do giveaways, and I've only entered one once. I've tried hard to keep this blog in the spirit of its original intention...simply a place to share thoughts and updates.

But it's getting difficult for two reasons:
1) My audience has changed. And that's grand, it's just different.
2) I've changed. If you go back and read some of my early entries, they're delightful, but I've sort of "grown up" more. This is mostly a very good thing...I'm aware of what I should and shouldn't be publishing on the internet. But there's a lust for adventure and a delight in sharing fabulous realities that used to be a much bigger part of me.

It's sort of a theme in my life right now. I used to be much better at saying yes to whatever adventures came along, and of seeing the everyday beauty of life. And this blog used to be much more a part of that.

I don't think this blog should "go back" to what it used to be. Nor do I think I should "go back" to who I used to be. But there are parts of me that I think are the truest me, and those true parts have been hiding under a few fears lately...a lot of past experiences trying to keep me from living as fully and as beautifully as I could be. I'm working on bringing those true parts of me out into the light again.

And maybe this blog will be a part of that. I've been reading a lot of delightful stories on some fantastic blogs lately, and the life-loving, adventure-seeking, story-telling part of me is being woken up. In recent years, I've really only blogged if "I have something to say"...some specific topic to write about. But there are a lot of great stories that are going untold because of that. So it's time to celebrate life a little more, especially on this little ole blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What 1 year of true love looks like

I guess technically this is what a celebration of one year of true love looks like. A year of true love defies pictures, I feel. I could spend this blog entry telling you all about our true love, why it's been a great year, what I love about Jacob, etc. etc. But I don't feel a need to today...I've told him those things, so suffice it to say that it's been a great year and I love Jacob and I'm excited to see where our marriage takes us next. I'll tell you about our anniversary weekend instead.

About a week before, I asked Jacob if he had any ideas of how we should celebrate our anniversary. We're pretty poor at the moment, so I didn't want to go too crazy, but I wanted a celebration. Jacob informed me that he had been scheming, and that it was a surprise.

Now, Jacob usually just doesn't have it in him to keep a surprise a surprise for very long. He usually ends up revealing what the surprise is. But this time, he kept it all secret and didn't tell me a thing! Sunday afternoon, I was blindfolded and handed my iPod to listen to, then guided to the car and placed inside. I had some suspicions about what we were doing, and I thought camping might be involved, but I had no idea where or for how long or anything.

After about half an hour in the car, Jacob said I could either remove the blindfold then and enjoy the scenery, or I could wait until we arrived at our destination. I took off the blindfold to see the beautiful countryside outside of Ashton, and was informed that we were on our way to Mesa Falls, Idaho! Which was extra-awesome, because it's been on my list to visit all summer. =)

We camped for one night, enjoyed the scenery, talked, got eaten alive by mosquitoes, almost got rained on but then didn't, ate tinfoil dinners and s'mores, and enjoyed being surrounded by God's beautiful creations. Jacob had gone to his parents house to prepare a few things, and his family told him that under the circumstances, they wanted to give him his birthday present early...because it was a tent and two sleeping bags! And what a lovely tent it was too. Without the rain-cover, three full sides of it are mesh, so it's like being all kinds of outdoors without being eaten by the 4,000 bugs that kept attempting to feast on us. We're excited to put the tent to use for the rest of the summer. We also had such a great time being in nature, and are so blessed to live in this incredible place, that we decided that every Saturday from now until the end of the summer will be spent doing something outdoorsy. =)

And now here are some pictures.

(You like the optical illusion in this top-left picture? Jacob appears to me taller than me! In reality, we're about the same height.)

We also decided that even though we're in love, making out while covered in sunscreen, bug repellent and dirt is one of the least romantic things in the world. So we made up for it when we got home.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh beautiful

I love the 4th of July. I really do. I especially love the 4th of July in a small town like Rexburg. And here's why.

Friday - We set off fireworks with Jordan and Heather in the Church parking lot. I will forever treasure the image of little Heather, almost 41 weeks pregnant, lighting fireworks and then running away from them. Also, a lot of candy was consumed.

Saturday - The day of purchasing fireworks. Which was sort of similar to they ways in which I imagine people purchase weed. I went to the Black Cat stand in the Broulims parking lot and spent almost $60 on explosives, and then said "Bottle rockets aren't legal in town, are they?" And I said that because I knew that someone there would then tell me where I could get some. Which they did. I drove five minutes out of town to someone's farm, where they had a truck trailer in their yard, full of explosives. I walked up and said "I need some bottle rockets...I hear you're the people to see." "Come with me," one of them said, before leading me into the dark truck trailer and handing me a package of contraband fireworks. I filled out paperwork with my name, address, and driver's license number, and provided the name of a city that I was planning to export these fireworks to. I felt awesome.

Sunday - A day of food and friends! In the afternoon, we were joined by Seve and Jules, and Mike and Shanda, and had one of those "married people meals" that married people are always planning. The highlight of which was the HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM we made for dessert. Jacob and I got an ice-cream maker for our wedding almost a year ago, but this is the first time we've used it. But I think we'll be using it about once a week for the rest of the summer. Seve and Jules stayed a bit longer, which necessitated a second dessert of s'mores made with Nutella instead of chocolate, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers. And they were amazing. Then Jules and I talked about babies (she's due in November) while Seve and Jacob had a Nerf gun war.

Monday - I got a text from Jordan around 3 am announcing that they were on their way to the hospital to have their baby. I might have done a little happy dance, and then slept for 4 more hours. While I hadn't been looking forward to getting up at 7 am, by the time it came around, I was pretty awake. One of my best friends was having a baby and I was getting ready to be in a parade. And 4th of July in a small town just can't be beat. (It's something every American should experience at least once.)

We dropped some breakfast off at the hospital for the Taits, then drove over to the school, where the Theatre Summer Camp at BYU-Idaho readied ourselves and our "float" (Gary's truck with a banner taped onto it), then drove out to Smith Park, the parade's starting point. The parade was a blast, roasting hot, but we had fun. After changing out of our costumes (I was a nerd, and Jacob was a founding father, sort of), the Grotto Committee members went our separate ways...Jacob to finish some things at home and me to Porter Park for a while, to enjoy the Independence Day Fair. I ate two chicken kabobs and listened to the jazz band while watching people ride the mechanical bull.

It was still hot by afternoon, so a handful of friends told us to meet them at Beaverdick Park (every single time I write that name, I can't believe it), and to bring our bathing suits. So we joined Mike, Shanda, Seve, Jules, Jerry, Ashley, and Janelle, dangling our feet in the water at the dock and occasionally throwing each other in. The highlight of that afternoon was probably when Jacob attempted to step from the dock to a large pipe that was sticking out of the water, where he was planning on balancing. He succeeded for about one and a half seconds before exclaiming "Oh, freak," and falling into the water, shoes, glasses, and all. He did manage to save himself and all of those valuable articles, though. Oh, and I foolishly refused sunscreen, wanting my skin to be "sun-kissed," which would somehow make summer a reality. My back is now somewhere between "fire engine red" and "magenta," and summer is too much of a reality.

In the evening, it was fireworks with Jacob's family! As per the tradition I've developed, I read the Declaration of Independence (with occasional interjections of "Sshhh!" and "Hey, listen!" and "Pay attention! This is a sacred document!"), at the end of which we lit the first firework of the night. We had several unsuccessful "Tank Wars," and lit dozens of ground-flowers and crackle-bombs and sparklers. (We've still got a handful of 'em around here somewhere, to be set off at a later time and place...)

Happy birthday, America. (And Kaitlynn Elizabeth Tait.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Big (or very small) news

I'm going to write about my 4th of July weekend at some point, including a rant about the terrible sunburn I got, but first, there are two small miracles that need to be celebrated.

The first small miracle belongs (in part) to this person:
(Yep, Carrie. I used THIS photo.)
This is Carrie Chapman. We became friends in the fall of 2004, in Acting I, and we've been tight ever since. Our friendship is based on telling great stories, helping each other through hard times, exchanging letters while Carrie was on a mission, and similar liberal/hippie views of the world. She is one of my best friends in the world and I love her.

In April of 2009, Carrie married this person:
His name is Scott, and he plays the guitar and collects funny t-shirts. They were our downstairs neighbors during the first 6 months of Jacob and I's marriage, and we miss them every single day.

And on June 28th, these people became a family of three, as this little person came into the world:
This little bundle of joy is named Georgia Rose, AKA "Peach" or "Peach Pie." (Georgia peach...get it?) I don't know a lot about her yet, and I'm sure she's still learning about herself, too. She's only been here on earth for 7 days. But everyone is sure glad she's here. I can't wait to meet her, and she is one lucky baby to have Scott and Carrie for a mom and dad.

The second miracle belongs (also in part) to this person:
This is Jordan Tait, another bestie. We became friends on the night I smeared chocolate on his face at this party in the Fall of 2006, and we spent a Playmill summer together in 2007. Our friendship is based on similar tastes in music, a shared passion for comedy, film, and theatre, and helping each other accomplish and face difficult things.

In August of 2010, about a month after my own wedding, Jordan married this person:
This is Heather. Heather is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and if she seems shy when you first meet her, don't let that fool you. She's also got a FANTASTIC sense of humor, and is a stronger person than most other people you'll meet.

And in the early evening of July 4th, the duo became a trio with the arrival of this little girl:
This is Baby Tait. She doesn't have a name quite yet, although I keep rooting for "Elizabeth." =) (UPDATE: THIS IS KAITLYNN ELIZABETH TAIT. Bam.) Her birth was welcomed by a procession on Main Street (four marching bands, seven cheer/dance teams, Miss Rexburg, the dancing guys from Ray's Car Wash, and floats advertising local businesses), and fireworks. But she deserves it. I haven't met her yet, but if she's anything like her parents, I already know she's a gem. I can't wait to meet her later today, or tomorrow.

I have all sorts of new thoughts about the miracle of birth and families and stuff, but at the moment I'm still a little speechless with the wonder of it all, and even if I could articulate my thoughts and feelings, I don't know if this blog is the place to record them. So I'll just say that these two little people amaze me. I'm so excited for these dear friends to begin this journey of parenthood. I keep having these experiences that make me think "Whoa. I'm like, an ADULT now." And then something else happens that makes me feel like that again and I feel like I never really was grown up before. I guess that will continue until the end of my life, and probably beyond.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled for the Chapmans and the Taits. Congratulations to two new little families.