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.

30 May 2013

I've been planning for Halloween since March...

So remember when I was Leslie Knope last Halloween? And how people still refer to me as Leslie Knope? And how I was at the Embassy of Estonia (of all places) and a guy shouted "Knope!" and I answered (right?) and he actually was shouting "Knope!" and not "Nope!" (because then I would have been extra embarrassed that I answered)? Yeah, it's a little out of control.

But I still love Leslie Knope and everything she stands for and it was the greatest, easiest costume ever so naturally I'm going to be her again this year. But what will make Halloween 2013 even better is that this year I will have a crew.

You guys, I have a Tom, an Ann, a Ron, and a Jean-Ralphio.

I met Jean-Ralphio during interviews at my current job. He's got wild curly hair and a massive, story-telling, one-upping personality.

I met Tom, Ann and Ron at the airport on a business trip. They also work at my company. When I met Tom, he was still slightly tipsy from the pitcher of sangria he drank at brunch. He's a swag dresser and a firm believer in the "Treat Yo'self" philosophy. And he's Indian. SAY NO MORE.

Ann is demure and sweet, with a hint of sassy wit. The more level-headed of the bunch. A joy to be around.

Ron is a black-haired Jew, but his hair is full and he could pull off a gnarly mustache if he wanted to so he is a natural default.

My company is a GOLD MINE for Parcs and Rec look-alikes/act-alikes. I am in Heaven. Halloween couldn't come quicker.

14 May 2013

Happy Tuesday: For Mom

Today is the midway point between Mothers Day and my lovely mother's birthday. The OCD in me who seeks symmetry and synchronization in all things says that this day is the perfect day for a tribute to Mom.

As I sit in my rent-controlled studio apartment, reflecting on the journey that got me here, there are three lessons Mom taught me that stand out in my mind as especially worth highlighting on this inbetween day of celebrating the greatest woman I know.

1. Mom taught me to have a sense of adventure.

When Mom was young she packed her backpack and left the Home of the Free to explore the mountains, meadows, villages, and cities of our motherland to the east. She slept in Irish fields, roamed Italian streets, ate with Nords, Swedes, and Danes. Postcards home were few and far between for this bright-eyed adventurer.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to follow in her globe-trotting foot steps. I did so as soon as I legally and financially could. Mom let me go wherever I wished, as long as I emailed her every time I arrived in a new country. How many mothers let their firstborn, blonde, seemingly defenseless daughters gallavant across Europe, shacking up in seedy hostels and on park benches, living off of cheap salame and bread, with scant means of communication? I asked her once if she ever worried about me. "Sure I worried," she said, "but I couldn't not let you go because I did the exact same thing when I was your age." Mom worried because she's a mom, but she never showed it because there's no point in worrying your children.

This brings me to the next lesson learned...

2. Mom taught me to roll with the punches.

Mom has this miraculous ability to find the good, the comical, the memorable in every unfortunate situation. Never any worries. Never any stress. She calmly faces hardship, frustration and grief with a smile on her face. So when things like surviving as a missionary in Romania and graduating with a European Studies degree and no career plan happened in my life, I leaned on her and on the optimism she instilled in me since birth.

In a phone conversation a month or so ago, she told me all about her new life philosophy: "Have fun!" All she does is have fun. The woman cannot be kept down. Tennis every week, bike rides to the beach, hikes with Dad and the pup, sleepovers with her best friends, dancing at weddings...Occasionally she'll remember I exist and call to inform me of all the fun she's having. Life is to be enjoyed, not stressed over. I thank Mom for that golden lesson.

This brings me, again, to the next lesson learned...

3. Mom taught me to trust in God.

Mom's story is one of steadfast faith. She taught me how to recognize God's hand in my life - the daily miracles that so often go unnoticed, either because we are distracted, absorbed, or otherwise unable to perceive the sweet moments and tender mercies as evidence that God is aware of, and actively involved in, our day-to-day lives.

Everything that has led me to where I am now - new job, new city, new friends - is so far from my own doing. I was guided here by a power beyond me and never could have accomplished as much as I have without the constant guidance (pushing, really) of my Heavenly Father. I'm a West Coast girl who enjoys the slow life. I have little to no qualifications for the unreal job I landed. This clearly wasn't my plan, guys. But it was someone else's, and I trust that this particular Someone knows what He's up to.

So with a combined sense of adventure, utopic optimism and trust in God, I live a pretty darn awesome life and I have Mom to thank for it.

Cheers to my mom, the greatest woman I know.

05 May 2013

Happy Sunday: Smart Mormons

Happy Sunday, peeps. You can all rest easy, I AM alive and well. To kick things off after this month-long hiatus from the blogosphere: a fantastic, well thought out article written by a non-Mormon about Mormons. Maybe true, maybe not. A logical and interesting perspective, nonetheless. Less spiritual and more political than the average Happy Sunday post, but a solid glimpse into an elemental LDS belief.



"SMART MORMONS?" By Mike Jensen Tuesday, January 22, 2013, Canada Free Press

Mormons have intrigued me ever since Mike Huckabee back in 2007 claimed that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. With the recent election over, I decided to check out Mormons a bit more.

My hope in doing this was to explain to readers who Mormons are and whether or not 22 percent of the people were justified in opposing having a Mormon president.

But instead I’m going to share an intriguing bit of Mormon theology I learned that I think makes them perhaps the most politically wise human beings on the planet. Ironically, this story stems from that Huckabee quote about the relationship between Jesus and the devil, but the lesson to be learned is one that, regardless of our political or religious views, we would all be wise to consider.

So here’s what I learned: Mormons, unlike most other Christian sects, believe that all humans lived a life before mortality. They call this the pre-existence or pre-earth life. At birth a veil is placed over our minds so that we don’t remember it (you’ll see why in a minute).

In this pre-earth life, we were all in the presence of God as His spirit children. Jesus was there—the first-born of God’s spirit children, and a leader in the councils in Heaven. Lucifer was also there, and was another leader among the children of God. He was called a "son of the morning."

At some point in this existence, the Father called all of His children together to explain how things worked. All of His children would have to leave His presence and come to earth for a period of testing. The goal was to see if we would live a righteous life even when we had to live by faith, as we would no longer be able to remember God or heaven (that’s the reason for the veil).

If we would live a righteous life, we would be given the opportunity to return and live with God forever. Otherwise we would forfeit that chance, because no unclean thing can live in God’s presence. However, God knew that we would all make mistakes, so he would provide a Savior for the world. This Savior would live a sinless life, and because of that, he would qualify to pay for the sins of the world through what would be called the "Atonement." If people would sincerely repent of their sins, then the Atonement would essentially erase their sins, and they could still return and live with God. The Father called for volunteers to be this savior, and two stepped forward: Jesus and Lucifer.

Lucifer said that he would be the savior and he would force everybody to live righteously, thus guaranteeing that all of God’s spirit children would return to Him in heaven. Jesus said that He would follow the Father’s plan and allow God’s children their free agency. They could choose for themselves whether to live righteously and take advantage of the Atonement or whether to live in sin and forfeit the opportunity to return and live with God.

God rejected Lucifer’s plan, causing Lucifer to rebel and declare war on God. One-third of God’s spirit children joined Lucifer in this rebellion. In the end, the rebellion failed and Lucifer and his followers were cast out of heaven. They came to earth without bodies and now, continuing the war they started in heaven, they tempt men to do evil to one another and lose out on the chance to return to God.


Now, any traditional Christians reading this will see similarities to their own belief system. Most traditional Christians believe that Lucifer lived in heaven as an angel, but then declared war on God and was cast out.. However, the causes for that war are not necessarily clear in traditional Christian theology.

That is where Mormon theology is so intriguing. For Mormons, the greatest of all battles, the war in heaven, was fought over LIBERTY—or as they call it, "free agency." Lucifer wanted to take it away, while God demanded that humans have it.

Although a Mormon might balk at my making comparisons between their religious beliefs and modern politics (and as I said earlier, every Mormon I’ve ever known was a very good person, so I apologize to any I offend), I see a direct correlation here. For a Mormon, the battle for liberty is not unique to this life; it is the core battle of the ages. Lucifer lost the war in heaven (he really thought he could beat God?), but the war continues on earth. So seeing the government become more and more tyrannical is not just a political concern; it’s a fundamental, eternal concern. I’m inspired by this Mormon theological idea: God intended for humans to be free to make our own choices and live with the consequences of those choices. The Founding Fathers of this country said essentially the same thing in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evidence, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

My study of Mormonism has not only given me new-found respect for this people and their religion; it has also made me evaluate my own attitude towards the liberty that seems to be slipping through all of our fingers. Is this just something that is nice to have, and for which I thank the Founding Fathers? Or is it really something that is endowed by God, and that He expects me to fight for. According to Mormon theology, I already fought for this once. The fact that I’m here says that I was on God’s side in the war in heaven, and fought for liberty. A Mormon might ask, why should any of us be less willing to fight for it here than we were there?

31 March 2013

Happy Sunday: Christ is risen, indeed

I celebrated this rainy, yet lovely Easter morning at mass at the National Cathedral with Gma and company. I loved singing about the resurrection of the Lord accompanied by an angelic choir, a brass ensemble and an organ. There's just something so impressive about organs in massive cathedrals. At one point the reverend proclaimed, "Christ is risen!" to which the hundreds in attendance responded, "Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia!"

This was repeated back and forth about 6 times and I was so overwhelmed with joy because that is exactly what I adored about celebrating Easter in Romania. For at least 2 weeks preceding Easter, and another 2 weeks following Easter, Romanians (and others nationalities that are predominantly Eastern Orthodox) greet each other with this same dialogue. On the phone, in stores, on the street...family, friends, strangers... For a month Christ and his resurrection are at the forefront of everyone's thoughts and incorporated into daily salutations.

May we remember the blessing of the resurrection always. Christ is risen. He lives. Through him the bonds of death are broken that we may all rise and live again.

Happy Easter.

30 March 2013

The Name Game

A couple weeks ago, I was making my merry way across the Key Bridge towards Georgetown. I usually despise traffic but sometimes it facilitates exciting conversations with strangers. Like the guy driving behind me who started wildly honking his horn and shouting out his window when he saw my license place and alma mater sticker.

Stranger: "UTAH! WHOA!  Utah, hey, Utah!!
Me: "Wha...the...?"
Stranger: "OH MAH GAH you went to BYU! Woooo! Go cougars! AHHHH! JIMMER! Do you know Jimmer????"
Me: Not personally, no.
Stranger: My sister went to BYU! Do you know [insert name that at least 200 other people have here]?

There is something you should know about Mormons. We have a weird fascination with playing the Name Game. You know, the game where you list off every possible Mormon you know and hope that the other person knows one of them, even vaguely. Mormons have this lofty assumption that they share all their connections with other Mormons. So we play the Name Game to confirm those connections.

This is the first time someone has played the Name Game with me in the middle of DC traffic. Impressive.

24 March 2013

Happy Sunday: Perfection

I heard this insight about perfection today.  

The girl sharing the comment more or less said that being a perfectionist is a sin, in the sense that perfectionism is self-absorbed, rather than Christ-centered. A perfectionist relies solely on himself and his own capabilities, therefore eliminating the assistance of the Atonement and the whole idea that we are made perfect through Christ. 

In the Book of Mormon it says: "Come unto Christ and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then his grace is sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." (Moroni 10:32)

Perfectionists base their worth and success on an imaginary idea that humans, acting by their mortal power alone, can be perfect. And they measure their progress according to what they deem is better or "more perfect" in others. 

Let us not be perfectionists but rather come unto Christ and strive for perfection, recognizing that we are inherently weak and that it is only in and through Christ's Atonement that we can be made strong. 

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)  

I feel like this would significantly decrease the amount of stressed out people in this mad world.
For more fantastic Pinterest fails, click here

17 March 2013

Shout out to St. Pat, from this Galway Girl

What kind of person would I be if I didn't give a shout-out to the mother turf on this day of celebrating St. Patrick, who rid the Green Isle of all snakes. 
Fact. I swear. 
I thought I'd throw some photogs of my favorite country up here, from our last trip in Summer 2011. These pretty much sum up Ireland for me. Music. Green. Dancing. Beer. Music. Rainbow-colored houses. Sheep. Music. Castles. The jolliest people in the world. Did I say music? 

On our first trip in 2006, my cuzball Katie and I started the tradition of rolling down the hill of the Rock of Cashel. It was my brother's turn the next time around. This castle was built by Brian Boru, founder of the O'Brien dynasty. Blood runs thicker than water, so sometimes you have to do foolish things to honor the dead. 

Happy St. Patty's Day! Erin go bragh!

Happy Sunday: Grace

Today I heard it described as this:

Justice: When you get what you deserve.
Mercy: When you don't get what you deserve.
Grace: When you get what you don't deserve. 

Read it like 50 times and ponder it for 20 minutes. It'll make sense. And then all of a sudden God's love will take on a whole new meaning.

I finally fully grasp how God can be both just and merciful. And it is through His grace that I can truly feel His love, even especially when I don't deserve it.

Happy Sunday.

06 March 2013


Fresh Prince marathon!

I've been as productive today as Congress has been all year. 

01 March 2013

Wait. What?

This was roughly my reaction when I woke up one morning last week and realized I had registered for a half marathon. 

There are few things in life I hate more than running. 
Despotism. Bullies. The plague. 

But it's to raise money for Crohns Disease research. So I guess I can do it. 

February was

a FAILURE. As far as blogging goes. 
Like the time I closed my eyes on the treadmill.

True story. December 2012.

I'll do better this month. [Both at blogging and running on a treadmill]

24 February 2013

Happy Sunday: Hollywood and Heartache

The pre-ceremony red carpet coverage of the 2013 Academy Awards is on the t.v. as I write this. I watched the above video as Kristen Chenoweth interviewed Hollywood starlets about their designer gowns in the background. Interesting juxtaposition. Glamour vs grief. Stardom vs sorrow. Power vs pain.

Certainly Kristen Chenoweth knows nothing of self-doubt. Look at those perfectly sculpted arms.

Jennifer Lawrence has probably never been lonely. She's funny and witty and talented and charming.

Reese Witherspoon has no idea what helplessness and hopelessnes feel like. She's one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I'm leaning towards maybe not.

Marilyn Monroe is quoted as saying: “I've never fooled anyone. I've let people fool themselves. They didn't bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn't argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn't.” 

May we be sensitive to the inner struggles of those around us. Let us remind them that they are never completely alone. And when it is us that is suffering, may we remind ourselves that there is One who suffered before us, who knows our heartache better than anyone and is there to offer us hope.

"The Son of Man hath descended below [it] all. Art thou greater than He?" (D&C 122:7)

Happy Sunday,

07 February 2013


I was the technophobe who never wanted an iPod.
We all know how well that turned out.
And it's only been downhill from there.
Here I sit in an abyss of technology. Work laptop on my knees. Personal laptop open next to me, playing Steel Magnolias. Work iPhone 5 came in the mail today. I stare at it in disgust. Personal Smart Phone lays ajacent to it. I feel sick.

I was meant for a different decade century.
The only thing feeding my old school soul right now is Steel Magnolias.

03 February 2013

Happy Sunday: Revelation

"Men have come to speak of revelation as long ago given and done, as if God were dead....It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was, that He speaketh, not spake....The need was never greater of new revelation than now."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson 
(from an address delivered in the Divinity College at Cambridge University, 15 July 1838)

31 January 2013

I can get used to this

The lovely view from the office building in Rosslyn. Georgetown, the National Cathedral, Key Bridge, all the way to Capitol Hill (not pictured).These are both kinda tacky, poor-quality photos, no thanks to Google images. Shockingly, no Deloitte employees ever take pictures of the view here and post them on the Internet. Weirdos. Look at this! Soon I will take my own since these ones are lame.

28 January 2013

The Land of Cotton...

...old times there are not forgotten.

As bummed as I was to not drive through Utah and see all my favorite peeps on my way to DC, Route 40 offers a world of gems, starting at about Oklahoma.

This is why the South is so great:

Highway Patrol officers will pull you over just to chat.

Your restaurant waiter will treat you like you've been friends for 20 years.

There are things on the menu like okra, fried green tomatoes, sweet tea, hush puppies, and biscuits & jam.

There are towns named "Lottawatta" situated conveniently by a lake.

And this is why Asheville, NC is my favorite city in the South:

All the men look like Scott Avett and all the women look like Scott Avett.

This works tremendously in my favor.

25 January 2013

06 January 2013

Happy Sunday: Science, Religion and Eternal Truths

The Mormon Church is the only church that publicly proclaims the doctrine of Pre-Existence over the pulpit. However, I feel that the truth that we lived with God in Heaven before this life is an innate concept to many Christians, even if their individual denominations do not preach it.

My mom, born and raised in a very active Catholic family, always knew she lived in Heaven before this earthly, mortal life. She vividly recalls a time when she was four years old and made a comment to her mother and grandmother about how she was "waiting in Heaven for Daddy to find Mommy so she could come to Earth." The adults laughed and wrote it off as something that any cute little kid would say. But my mom remembers feeling confused as to why they thought it was funny. Years later she was visiting a recently-baptized friend in Italy who explained to her what Mormons believe, including the Pre-Existence. It's no wonder that she immediately recognized it as an eternal truth.

Like the chemist in the video, I am fascinated by the science of the universe. The more I learn about the intricacies of nature, the more certain I am of the existence of a Higher Power, even a loving Heavenly Father who created it all. And as my Heavenly Father, it's only logical that I once lived with him in a heavenly home and family, whereto I strive to return one day.

"Science and religion represent two independent witnesses of Creation. And we're told throughout the Old Testament that two or more witnesses are required in order to certify the truth. They are not opposites, but they are like the vision seen from your two eyes. If you close one eye and then close the other and alternate back and forth, you don't see the same things with the two eyes. But it is the combination of those two views which gives you three-dimensional perception and shows you a lot of things that neither eye by itself sees."

Science confirms faith.

Happy Sunday.

04 January 2013

Superlatives of 2012

A selection of numerous highlights from the Year of the Dragon:

In January, I started teaching my first Romanian class, which also happened to be the largest class in the history of the course. Good thing all 23 of them were total gems.

Click here. 

In April, I graduated from BYU, alma mater of the highest scorer and MVP of 2012 NCAA D1 basketball, the first Mormon to run for U.S. President, a Superbowl MVP, and Jeopardy's All-Time Champion. Oh, and the world's gooiest couples.

In May, I took a trip with the cuzzballs and Gma to Chile, where we ate the most seafood and saw the most volcanoes I have ever eaten or seen in a 2-week time span.

June was a busy month. I went hiking and camping in the best adventure destination in the Western States (my humble opinion) with three of the smelliest boys and one of the sweetest girls I know.

Also, my friend Sara Jarman and I climbed Germany's tallest peak.

Finally, I endured the hottest, sweatiest, most hellacious train ride from Hungary to Romania. My brains were literally (but not literally) boiling in my skull and melting out my nostrils. You know you'll be disappointed if I don't draw a picture of this...

Whilst studying in Romania, I met the goofiest Dutchman and the most fab South African.

In September, I moved to the DC Metro Area, home of the world's largest building, the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere, the wealthiest county (oh ho ho), America's skinniest regional park, and the most infuriating law makers. That's a lot of superlatives.

In December, my colleagues voted me "Trivia Most Valuable Player." Anyone who understands my love of trivia understands that this is the greatest complement I've ever received.

That answer was way off...

They also voted me "Most likely to become President." Thanks, guys. This was the push I needed! HOLDEN-KNOPE 2024!

Also in December, I accepted my first big girl job offer.

Click here. 
Cheers to a fab year!