28 February 2014

Home Sweet House of Cards

I watched both seasons of House of Cards over the past two weeks. It's horrifying and disturbing and caused debilitating sleep deprivation and overall made me seriously consider moving out of this deranged circus. I live right next to Rock Creek Park, which would make a prime location to stash a dead body. But then I remembered that my car is registered here until 2016, so I'm trapped like Rachel Posner is trapped in her janky Baltimore apartment (bad joke). I'm also dangerously suspicious of my own politician family members and I think it's starting to show. 

Would I recommend watching House of Cards? About as much as I would recommend looking away from a train wreck. 

16 February 2014

Happy Sunday: You Know Enough

Last month I gave a talk in church on this subject. What I know vs. what I don't know had been on my mind for the past several months. So when I was asked to speak, I welcomed the opportunity to articulate what I'd been thinking about, but which I'd never talked about openly.

I put a lot of thought and prayer into what I might say. I didn't write my talk down because I'm more of a bullet-point person, but I felt like it came out coherently. At least people seemed to look like they were understanding...

Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts via blog. In more words or less, this is basically how it went...


About 5 years ago, I was contemplating serving a mission. After months of careful deliberation and prayer, I was almost positive this was something I should do. But there was one major hang up: I felt like I didn't know enough. I doubted my knowledge of church doctrine. I was intimidated by the scriptures. The thought of having to explain these things to strangers was frightening.

With this dilemma on my mind, I settled down one morning to watch the October 2008 General Conference.  A relatively new (to me) general authority named Elder Neil  L. Anderson gave a poignant talk conveniently entitled "You Know Enough." That was as strong an answer I could ever hope to receive. I put in my papers shortly thereafter and left on a mission to Romania the following July. Since that moment 5 years ago Elder Anderson's words--"You don't know everything, but you know enough"--have served as a constant source of encouragement.


Before I go on, there is something you must know about Mormons. Mormons LOVE conversion stories. We love finding out what possibly convinced someone to join this church. Whether that someone had lifelong exposure to the church, or whether they had been investigating only a few short months, they obviously did not have a perfect knowledge of the intricacies of the gospel before being baptized. But they knew enough to be compelled to make that sacred covenant and take upon them the name of Christ.

When my mom joined the Church 30+ years ago, she actually hadn't "investigated" at all. I wouldn't say she was anti-Mormon, but she had been known to disseminate anti-Mormon literature...She was living in Salzburg, Austria at the time. One of her best friends lived in Italy, so she occasionally would make the not-too-distant journey to visit him. On one such visit, her friend announced to her that he had joined the Mormon church. You can imagine her utter shock at this news. She told him he was crazy; he's throwing away his life; Mormonism is a cult; he has no idea was he's getting himself into. But he made her promise to contact the missionaries when she returned to Salzburg. Out of respect for her friend, she did.

When she called the missionaries, it was mainly just to argue with him. They somehow convinced her that arguing in person would be better than over the phone, so she met them at the chapel. There, they showed her a slide show presentation of the story of Joseph Smith. Something to note about this particular slide show: the slide projector was malfunctioning or something, because it was out of sync with the recorded narration. So each slide was one off from the recording. "I can't believe this," she thought. "This is crazy. These boys don't even know how to work a slide projector. What on earth am I doing here?" But she remained seated for the duration, and thank goodness for that because the next moments that ensued changed my mom's life forever. The presentation came to the First Vision, when Joseph Smith prayed in the Sacred Grove to know which church to join, and God and Jesus Christ appeared to him. She was struck. An overwhelming feeling came over her, rendering her unable to deny that whatever feeling this was came from God. She knew it was true. She knew Joseph Smith really did see what he says he saw. "If this is true," she thought, "then so is everything else." She was baptized less than a week later. My mom certainly didn't know everything. In fact, she knew almost nothing. But she knew enough. And that faith has developed into a strong and shakeless testimony over the years of her membership in the Church.


How does this same principle apply during times of struggle and personal hardship? More often than not, the Lord's response in the midst of our trials is "you don't know everything, but you know enough." I was talking with a good friend of mine who has recently experienced a trial that highlights this concept beautifully. She allowed me to share it with you:

I recently had the opportunity to take a job that seemed as if it would be the perfect fit for me in the long run. In fact, it was the most ideal situation given what I had studied [in college] and what my ultimate career goals were. However, a part of me felt very strongly that I should reject the offer. God never told me outright that I needed to reject the offer, but through prayer, fasting and reading the scriptures I came to understand that it was not the thing that I should do. After I made the decision, it was subsequently confirmed to me after I got in a car accident and it took me out of commission for the next two months. I probably could not have accepted the job anyway, given that I needed that time to recuperate. I asked God a lot of times why this had to happen to me-- Why I shouldn't take the job, why I should leave... I asked him and I actually received somewhat of a feeling reassuring me of the reason why I could not take it, but I never received any more specifics after that. I knew enough. I knew that I wasn't supposed to take the job... I knew my next steps for the next few months--and that was enough. Truly, it was enough. Sometimes I doubt that though. Why could't I know more? Didn't I need more information to make such a tremendous leap of faith? Nope, I only needed what I needed in that moment. God would take care of the rest. Some days I very much struggle with the will of the Lord, but as of right now I know enough. It is still hard though but I have a measure of hope in the future, because the Lord never forsakes us. 

Mark 5:36: "Be not afraid, only believe."


In his aforementioned talk, Elder Anderson said, "There are days when we feel inadequate and unprepared. When doubt and confusion enter our spirits. When we have difficulty finding out spiritual footing. Part of our victory as disciples of Christ is what we do when these feelings come."

This room is filled with very intelligent people who I'm sure have the answers to an array of complex mathematical, scientific, sociological, and financial questions. But when it comes to religious questions, especially trying to reconcile spiritual convictions with moral, social and political controversies, I don't think I'm the only one here who's been faced with significant doubt and confusion.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, in his most recent General Conference address, said this: "Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history, there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. Sometimes questions arise because we simply don't have all the information and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn't make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction."

We WILL be faced with doubt. That is okay. That is normal.

He went on to say: "There are few members of the Church who at one time or another have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith."  So please, doubt! I encourage it because I feel that is leads to a stronger, deeper conversion. But when you find your doubts and confusions begin to overshadow and overpower your faith, do as President Uchtdorf advised and "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."

We have moments of profound spiritual inspiration. Moments when we feel the Holy Ghost testifying the eternal truthfulness of a certain gospel principle. Remember those moments. Sink them deep into your soul. Make them a part of who you are. Draw on them in times when you need reminding that you don't know everything, but you know enough.

A legitimately candid photo taken after I opened my mission call.

15 February 2014

In Love with Love

A few things I'm in love with...

This "Girls With Glasses" video about love.

These lovebirds on the NYC Subway.

Photo Cred: Matt Weber

This charming French film (and its soundtrack!).

"Heartbreaker." Watch it on Netflix.

This strawberry butter cream frosting, which distracted me during this week's government snow day.

Strawberry jam, butter, and powdered sugar. Piece of cake.

Happy {belated} Valentine's Day, lovers!

21 January 2014

2014: Turning Over a New Leaf. Actually, I just went ahead and uprooted the entire tree.

To begin, a formal apology to the blogging gods for my absence these past months. 2013 was a Mad World fail. Parlty because my world was particularly mad. Oh, woe is me! I'll explain in a separate post.

Alright, enough of that. Here goes 2014. I've never been one to set New Year's resolutions. They just weren't my thing. I was a lot better at setting short-term goals throughout the year. Less intimidating, less...I don't know...final. And so much easier to keep (and--let's face it--remember). But this year is different, as the title of this post implies. I started thinking about my resolutions in October of last year. I wanted them to be well-thought out. I wanted to give myself time for them to sink in. I weighed them all individually. I threw out some and kept others and continued refining the list until I came up with a handful of goals that I was genuinely excited about. 

I am also not usually one to publicize a list of my goals. I mean, what better way to parade around all your weaknesses. "Hey, everyone! This is what I suck at and am trying to improve! This is what I really want to accomplish and I'm going to look like a tool if I don't!" Not to mention the added sense of accountability that comes along with sharing my goals. Yeesh. 

That said, here goes nothing:

1. Make serving others a priority

My headliner quote for the year.

2. Learn a language

Preferably Russian.

3. No more gluten

Which sadly means no more doing this.

4. Exercise 4-5 times a week

This body ain't getting any younger.

5. Delete Facebook

This will free up time for #6 and #8 and life in general.

6. Research my family history

Even if it requires rummaging through graveyards in Ireland.
Yes, I realize there are two pictures of gravestones in a row. 

7. Budget my money

I thought I'd ask Congress to help me with this one.

8. Write in my journal and/or blog weekly

Writing is my creative outlet.

9. Frequent museums

10. Leave this continent 

The travel bug is itching something fierce. 

Several of these seem pretty ordinary. But all are rooted to a deeper cause. Something that I am working to change or develop in myself. I feel like I'm already doing fairly well on many of these and lagging behind on others. But there you go, world. All on the table. I trust you'll hold me to these. 

Happy New Year,

14 September 2013

Mindy Gets It

Hey! Remember me? I'm the mad girl with the mad life who writes this mad blog. My world has been SO MAD these past few months--so much so that blogging has taken a back seat to things like, oh, I don't know...working, traveling, socializing when possible, sleeping, and reading. In that order.

My reading list of late has been made up of books with all female heroines, written by female authors. Girl power! Woooo! Sister before misters!

HAH. I kid. I'm no feminist. I typically read books about war and chronic diseases, so this is a new chapter for me (pun fully intended).

Most recent read for my book club...which is all girls...I get it now...

Mindy Kaling is up there with Amy and Tina on the list of women I want to adopt my children if my husband and I are ever in a fatal car crash. She's edgy, outspoken, and blunt (any wonder why I love her?). She can command an audience with her wit and and honest humor. Best of all--she has values! And morals! AND she's famous. Seems downright contradictory.

In her book, Mindy talks a lot about her traditional views of relationships and home and family and love. While ranting about the "depressing, zeitgeist-y magazine articles about relationships" like 'how women don't need men anymore' or 'monogamy is dated and we should all be swingers,' she says this:

"This wretched little magazine article has helped convince more open-minded liberal arts graduates that the nuclear family doesn't exist without some hideous twist, like the dad is allowed to go to an S&M dungeon once a week or something. It makes me cry because it means that fewer and fewer people are believing it's cool to want what I want, which is to be married and have kids and love each other in a monogamous, long-lasting relationship."

I think it's saying you want these things that's uncool. Most people secretly do want them. But openly admitting that you have any sort of traditional life ambition (what? your number one life goal isn't to start a non-profit in Ethiopia? or be Hillary Clinton's speech writer after dedicating the whole of your 20s to putting her in office? or work for some ultra-hip start-up in NYC where you wear sound-cancelling headphones and drink coconut water?) is viewed as, well, lame in this "progressive" world we live in. I detest the word progressive. It's obvious to me the human race is reverting steadily back to neanderthalism (godless, hairy, Paleo-dieting bush men: I'm talking to you. I'm also talking to you, Miley Cyrus.). 

Anyway. go Mindy. Read her book. 

24 June 2013

Skull and Cross Fit

I hopped on the Cross Fit bandwagon. For those who are contemplating trying it out, you definitely should. Look how glamorous it is:


Nothing more glamorous than sweating buckets and panting like a donkey in the Gobi Desert in front of a beautiful men. No shame, my friends. No shame.

03 June 2013

Branding Myself

At work, we hear all the time about building a brand. What do we want to be known for, professionally? What do we want to be experts on?

There are also countless workshops and networking events where we inevitably end up at group tables, being asked to share a fun fact about ourselves as part of standard introductions.

There is one fact about myself that I have on reserve, solely for these kinds of things. And also to make sure that I always win at Two Truths and a Lie.

Consequentially, this is how I've been branding myself in the professional world. Dangerous things, those fun facts.

This isn't all. I'm on a role at my new company. I said to a male co-worker one day, "Hit me up if you want a snack." Oops.Tricky things, those innuendos.

But wait, there's more. I was training a new member of my team a week or so ago. We use a company-wide IM system for most quick correspondence. Like in GChat, green means you're available, red means you're busy, etc. Conveniently enough, this also creates excellent innuendo material.

Roxanne, anyone? Yeah...

So I'm on the fast track to branding myself as the company circus freak/prostitute. FML.