Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Home Means Nevada

A cow's moo, a tractor in the field, and the smell of waffles cooking with sticky, sweet, homemade syrup boiling in the background while the first signs of daylight creep through the closed blinds on my balcony door are my alarm clock today and have been most of my life. I quickly think of my list of things to do today: swim in the ditch, pick mulberries from the tree out back, drive a tractor for fun, visit great-aunts and uncles and climb in their tree house, help them garden (gardening=eating their homegrown carrots), & feed, brush, and riding the horses; bake homemade bread/cinnamon rolls with grandma, ride four wheelers with grandpa, walk everywhere, swim in the river or the rez. Most of these will be done with the cousins that dominate this valley. There is never a dull moment, unless the heat is too excruciating. If it that happens, Jeremy's house to play Super Smash Bros in his cool concrete basement it is! I hope his brother found that snake down there.. If it is rains later, we should probably take full advantage of the weather and play all types of sports outside, mainly in the mud. We could always go to the sand pit and dig tunnels like we did when we were younger. The possibilities are endless!

 I have moved four times in this valley, never moving more than ten minutes away, always in Logandale. 18 years of my life were spent here. And then one day I realized that 18 years was a long time; too long. So I moved away for college. Now, a year later I am back, stuck in a waiting period for another month. People constantly ask me if I am nervous to serve my mission with it coming up so soon and my reply is always the same: I am more excited to leave than they can even comprehend. I am ready to "just go already". My voice is always so firm and serious when I say that. I thought it was because this valley holds nothing for me, except old memories.
My friends are all gone serving their own missions or getting married. Moapa Valley is one of those towns were you must make your own fun, which is and always has been fine, unless you have no one to do that with.

Then something happened yesterday.

After my morning routine, I called up my grandma to see if I could come over. I needed some help with a sewing project and I wanted to make some homemade cinnamon rolls as a thank you to my amazing photographer for doing my mission pictures. I have made homemade cinnamon rolls enough times to be able to do it with out her. In fact, I could have just stayed at home and done so, but I knew that she loves when her grandchildren visit and I thought that it would be a great way to make more memories with her that I can cherish on my mission and throughout my life. I want to leave for my mission knowing that I have done all I can to express my love to those around me just in case..
I drove the back roads to my grandma's, mainly because I was almost out of gas, but also because that was always so fun when I was younger. Opening the door to the old house on the hill, the familiar smell that will always be associated with Grandma and Grandpa Waite's house hit me. I gave my grandpa the usual hug and kiss on the cheek and then grandma and I went to work. First we worked on the dress, then we moved to the kitchen to work on the rolls. Grandma explained that it had been a long time since she had made any rolls. I think the last time she did was the last time I did. She even commented that she would like to leave me with the cookbook we always use and I gladly accepted that offer.
 We pulled out the yeast, flour, milk, sugar... then it dawned on us. We had no eggs! So we did what any normal person would do: we called up my Aunt Cindy and asked to borrow an egg. I hopped on the old ATV and drove down the hill to my aunt's house where she had dozens of fresh eggs in her fridge that her very own chickens laid. I picked up a dozen and got back on the ATV to drive two minutes back up to my grandparents.

This was the moment.

A huge smile landed on my face as the cool air blew my hair out of it's messy braid. I drove with one arm, holding the eggs like a football in my other arm. I looked around this valley I have always known and I had that feeling of being home again. I remembered what it was like to grow up here, relatives at every corner, use of transportation was either walking or riding four-wheelers. Everyone is so kind and loving; it is a safe place. Here I was, making homemade cinnamon rolls, grabbing fresh eggs on a four-wheeler, and spending the morning with my best friends. My love for where I grew up was re-kindled. It took me a while, but I remembered a very valuable lesson that I learned so many years ago, a lesson that helped me make such great memories: you make your own fun AND you make your own happiness. You can be happy no matter where you are, expect less and do more.

THIS was my childhood.  THIS is my where my family is. THIS is my home.

First Day of School with the Cousins

Making our own fun


Cookie Making

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letting Your Light Shine

We learned in Psychology and Communication a few months ago that Extroverts are praised in society while Introverts are made to feel useless and not liked.
This is something that has been on my mind for a while now, and yes, I did have a long conversation with my roommate about it a few days before we all went our separate ways.
But I am not here to condemn the world for being human and and not understanding everyone completely well; I will let others do that for me. What I want to talk about is a little different..
While Extroverts may be praised for their impeccable ability to gain energy by simply being with others, they also have to watch out. If anyone becomes TOO confident, TOO charming, TOO happy, a finger is wagged at them and they are looked down on like a little kid at the library getting in trouble by the librarian for talking too loud. You see, confidence and happiness are only good in certain levels and once that line is crossed all hell breaks loose. Let me tell you a little story:
A spunky, stubborn, and strong little girl, always on the move, loves adventures and has no problem with people. In middle school, like most kids that age, she starts to go through some awkward stages and has a hard time with her appearance and loving who she is inside because of what she has been told is more important: what's on the outside. Although her personality desperately tries to stick with her, she allows herself to become shy, her confidence starts to vanish almost completely, but she still has a compassionate heart and wants to be liked and included. 
High school comes around. She starts thinning out and begins the journey of learning how to do her hair and makeup through trial and error, many times. The "popular" and "pretty" girls have befriended her for years now and have kept her motivated and feeling loved. She becomes involved in cheer leading and school activities with great friends by her side at all times. She is well liked and slowly her confidence grows again. Living in a small town confined her, however, and she still hasn't found who she once was. Or rather, she hasn't realized who she has always been: that same spunky, stubborn, and strong little girl. Graduation day appears, and although it is hard for her to say goodbye to everything she has known for years, everyone she has been around since she was two years old, the memories she will always cherish, it is time for her to move on and to continue to learn, grow, and progress in this life. So she does. She leaves everything and with anxiety in her heart, she begins a new chapter in her life.
College is a fun and thrilling adventure with some crazy twists, turns, and mistakes. It takes her awhile, but after making a slew of friends, she finally finds out who she is and most importantly whose she is. She makes friendships that will last a lifetime and enjoys every minute of her first year of college. She attends church faithfully and surrounds herself with people who share her same standards and encourage her to do good things, while still maintaining a spontaneous and adventurous attitude in life. After her first year of college, she moves back to her hometown before her mission and looks back on the person she was when she left this small town, realizing just how much she has changed.. for the better. Now she can confidently talk about herself in a good way without fear of resentment or worrying that others might think she thinks she is better than those around her. Because that is far from the truth; she just LOVES WHO SHE IS and who she has become thanks to the trials she has gone through and lessons she has learned.
This story sounds oddly familiar.. probably because it is about me. Ten points to Griffindor if you got that right!
Looking back on who I have become, I realized that my confidence is practically through the roof compared to what it was in middle school. One thing that I have realized, is that it is a great feeling when you can love who you are and be happy at all times. When people do find that level of confidence and happiness, an alarm goes off in people's heads telling them that the happy person needs to be judged, talked about, and told that they are bad people, that they are fake. I know that who I was before probably would have joined in because I didn't realize the truth. The truth is that those people just love who they are, and rightfully so! They know that they have talents and beauty, that they are smart, kind and service-oriented. They enjoy the life the live because they aren't worried about what others think. I personally don't think it is bad to be really confident and happy, and people like that should definitely be praised for finding that level of happiness in life, not judged because of it.
I think that Extroverts and Introverts should each be loved, cherised, and accepted in life. I think that people should be able to confidently share their talents, love, and light without judgement from others. Most of all, I think that it is okay if someone talks about the good, positive things that are happening in their lives, and the good qualities they feel they have. There is definitely a point where it can become a little much, and sometimes people do it in an unkind and bragging way. But if we can maintain a sense of humbleness, then feel free to share your goodness with me! Sharing ideas and stories with others is something we all like to do. This life isn't meant for keeping that all in, it truly is for sharing, and in turn, caring about others. 
I know who I am and I would like to share it with all of you because I can FINALLY see it all. I am smart, smarter than I thought I was. I am motivated and hardworking, but yes, I can have those "lazy" days every now and then. I am kind and compassionate towards others and I know that I have been given those traits, along with being a good listener and keeping an open mind, because the Lord knew that I would major in Psychology and work with people as a therapist. I am obedient, trusting, and loyal to a fault. I will try and make any friendship/relationship work no matter the strains that are put on them and me. I'm not stellar at anything in particular, but I am good at a range of things and average at most. I will try anything and because of that, I have become better at many spor
ts and other things. I go in to everything with a positive outlook, and I try to laugh things off when they go wrong. I don't like to make others feel bad and if I do, I will apologize multiple times and do some kind of service for them. I never realized it, but I am actually pretty mature for my age and I have really cool and deep thoughts. I have the strongest testimony of the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I don't believe in coincidences. Everything has a purpose and a lesson to be learned. I am beautiful in my own way. Lastly, I am talented and my talents have gotten me some pretty rad jobs so far! I LOVE WHO I AM and I know that I am worth the best in life and that I deserve someone that will love me without trying to change even a freckle on my nose. I am worth fighting for and because I know all of this about me, I will never settle for anyone that treats me less than amazing.
So if society wants to judge me, let them eat cake. I don't claim to be perfect in any way or better than anyone else, I just claim to be good enough. I encourage all of you to let who you are shine out, and be comfortable in your own skin with that amazing personality you have. Everyone is meant to be different for a reason; don't desire to be anyone else. But don't forget: never stop trying to be a little better because we will never be completely perfect and can always work on achieving greatness.