When folks are asked how they feel close to God, or where they go to relax, or what they think is beautiful, many, if not all, answer Nature. Nature is sometimes the recovering addicts Higher Power. Thoreau went to Walden. Gurus sit on the tops of mountains. Very transcendental. Nature has inspired poets, prophets, lovers.
Nature impresses me. But it's not really me.
I submit to the jury that perhaps inspiration, relaxation, and meaning might also be found in human-made creations. Indeed, we may say that He who created Nature, inspired men and women to be mini-creators. The world is rich with innovation and creativity. I'm so thankful, really, that I've seen as much as I have. Humans have made the world so happily habitable. I heard an old Jewish proverb that said (and I will probably massacre it) that the purpose of life is to bring order to things. I think humankind has brought much order to the world, in good ways. I find it exciting. Below are some photos representative of those human-made creations that broaden my mind (in no particular order).
An artistic garden (like at Versailles).


Seeing organization.

Plays. And movies. Things that tell stories, illustrate points, connect people.



Beautiful food.

Beautiful interior design.

Traditions. And classy people.

Photography and fashion.

Degas in particular and art in general



The five most important people in my world (number six is my mom) with me.



I'm from Alpine. I grew up there all my life. Yesterday I went back to see my mom and went for a run. I'd forgotten my city. It's idyllic. It's like Martha Stewart's Bedford. On my run I was first met, in the chilly air, by a deer who gave me a look of put apathy. I had to smile.
My town has a candy store. When I was very young it was just an outlet and we'd buy damaged candy canes and suckers. But now it's a proper boutique. Charming.
Lanes. History. Interesting things to see. That's my city. Lots for kids to do and none of it naughty. It's safe and ideal.
This is the house I hope to one day own. It's a gorgeous house with orchards and property. That's what I want - property for bees and orchards.
No seriously. This is where I grew up. Beautiful isn't it? Nestled into the mountains and with such lovely fields. Especially in the Fall.
The sky is celestial. It's facing south, toward Utah lake. And this is my neighborhood. Jealous much?
Yes, that's a camel. Our dear friends have had them for years. They just keep them.

I have been so blessed to grow up in the prettiest little corner of the world.



On Monday I decided I need to purge. Not like that. It wasn't DSM-worthy. I purged my closet. I dropped half my wardrobe on the floor. My friends picked through it and I donated the rest. When I look at my bare closet I feel relieved. I really love what's left. And I have a better idea of what to buy next. In fact, I went shopping, committing to spending a little more on thing I love that will last longer, and came away with nothing. Manifesto: I will not buy cheap things because they are cheap.
It's a psychological as well as physical exercise, getting rid of so much. You get rid of the superfluous -- the tiny details that clogged your vision from priority. I got rid of goals I felt I should have and kept the goals that truly important. I pushed the fluff aside and saw who I really am.
I'd recommend this drill. You'll feel a million times better. It's free therapy. You find out just what you don't need. You aren't weighed down by literal baggage. Let me know how it goes.


Little Laughs

My job is often very serious. But we also have our fair share of laughs. Here are some funny things that have been said in session (none of which are personal or sensitive). Enjoy!
"Fish don't have feelings. Kurt Cobain said." (Client discussing being vegetarian and eating fish.)
"The staff just let me sleep around." (Eek!)
"She is a witch who sucks out all the happiness." (Client commenting to staff about me... in other news, we've since reconciled.)
"Hey, girlfriend!" (Parent greeting me. Little odd.)
"I literally felt like crap." (Literally?)
"Her name's Grandma and she's upstairs." (Client retelling a childhood story of the paramedics coming to his house for his grandma.)
"I've been diagnosed with super-strength." (Client supposedly "messing" with peers, but he might just believe it.)


Who are you?

I've got this fairly new contraption on the side of the blog (it's on the left). And it tells me where everyone who visits the blog lives (theorectically). Who are you visiting my blog? Please let a comment to let me know who you are and where you are from.



I was talking with Oli and I don't exactly remember what he said but it was something to the effect of, "Don't forget that you can really make a difference in someone's life." I think I've forgotten this a bit and that's caused me to be ho-hum about my work. So today I really tried. I mean I really tried to care. I tried to be interested. Tried to be excited. Tried to give them a little part of me. And I think it worked out pretty well.
I pulled out old thank you notes from past clients -- to remind myself that I have made a difference before -- and posted them where I can see them often. And then, tender mercy, two parents expressed extreme and passionate thanks to me. It was odd, but made me happy. And I had really positive interactions with clients where I thought, "Hey, they are a little happier after chillin' with me."
Tonight I got a note from a friend just saying how much she values me. It really made me happy. And everything she said was true -- well, I mean, she said that she appreciates how excited I am about stuff and it's true because I just feel so excited around her. She is really fun and I don't exactly know why but I think she is swell and I'm super stoked when ever I see her.
And also, I was talking with The Blur, who is one of my bestest friends ever, and she expressed appreciation and how she values our friendship and that was the cherry on top. can I just put in a plug for The Blur at this juncture in the blog. I can become obsessive. She laughs at my dumb jokes. She makes me feel like a million bucks. She's adventurous and daring. She is a hard worker who gives 1,000,000% (yes, that's a million) in everything she does. Also, she is hot (no, like really, really good looking -- so men, let me know and I'll see if you measure up), which a person ought it be if they possibly can.
I feel like as I've tried today, Heavenly Father has rewarded me many times over -- as is His style. So, because everyone else has already said it, I say thanks, because I got a couple few blessings too -- most are people. I hope you know who you are. I hope I've made sure you know who you are. I'm gonna make sure you know who you are.


A Serious and Critical Critique

The boys sounded great live. I was surprised to learn that they have done the bulk of their musical repertoire post MMMBop. I had expected for them to stick to the first album (what I know), but they played much more. Their sound is much more indie, folksy, blues. I think that they are appealing to a whole near demographic than in those MMMBop days. BTW, they've been performing for 13 years!!!
Taylor is still just as hot. And is it weird that his wedding ring is a turn on because it means he's faithful and kind of classy?
Passion and on-tune!
It was odd, it must be admitted, that he had his back to his brothers the whole time.
Look! It's the Queen (who never blogs)! This was her last hurrah before she upped and got hitched!
One last bit of information: Zack did not seem very into it. It's like he's just doing because he always does it and he'd rather be watching football.



Heart attacks, terrorists, fires -- all pale in comparison to an aquatic or spill emergency. Luckily, our paper towel dispensers have emergency functions.


72-Hour Kit

I searched the internet unsuccessfully to find suggestions of what to put into a 72-hour kit (something to sustain life). My ward just put new packs together so I thought I'd write out their suggestions and share them with all.

Day 1
Breakfast- oatmeal and juice box
Lunch - ramen
Dinner - canned soup (our happens to be tomato)

Day 2
Breakfast - granola bar
Lunch - applesauce and peanut butter crackers
Dinner - easy mac (flat packet, not the bowls)

Day 3
Breakfast - oatmeal and hot chocolate
Lunch - easy mac
Dinner - ramen

cookies (like granny Bs)
granola bar
fruit snacks
salt water taffy

Put it all into a one-gallon ziploc -- change things out every six months (like at Christmas and 4th of July, or at General Conference).

Write the date packed and have at least 3 gallons of water.

I put the bag into a bigger backpack (or some people put it in their backpacker backpack to store... and remove it to use the backpack). I also have a deck of cards, a solar shower (like $5 at WalMart -- heats the water and makes it come out all shower-like), rain ponchos, couple Sterno cans, toothpaste, change of clothes, one of those tinfoil looking survival blankets, fire starters, TP, some soap, and a first aid kit.



"Wow. This is so unexpected. I didn't even have a speech prepared. But I will tell you this, tardiness is not something you can do all on your own. Many people contributed to my tardiness. First, I'd like to thank my parents for never giving me a ride to school; the LA city bus drivers for takin' a chance on an unknown kid; and last, but not least, the wonderful crew at McDonald's who spend hours making those tiny egg McMuffin's without which I might never be tardy." - Travis
Travis (Breckin Meyer) and Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) in Clueless
I'm late to everything.


Meant to Be

I once had a Relief Society president who was slightly high strung. She was the drum major in the BYU band, full-time student, and held a job. She was one of those people that are always laughing but have a hint of insecurity. We got to be pretty good friends and that insecurity came out. She was a couple years older than me and a little worried that she might be in the predicament of being alone forever. She'd talk to me about this a lot -- to the point where I really didn't think there was much else to say. One day, however, she managed to expand my perspective. She'd been talking with the bishop and one of them came up with the brilliant truth that if something has been promised you the promise will remain in force until fulfilled. She recalled blessings, her patriarchal in particular, that had promised a family of her own. I've reflected often on this notion -- that promises don't have expiration dates.
My friend Andrea, has need blessed by adoption once and they are waiting for another. I wonder if she sometimes wonders if there are any other babies in their future. Or maybe she's been promised another baby and wonders if it will really happen. If it's promised, it'll happen.
It's all about the worldly notion of "meant to be." I believe in meant to be. Not in some ethereal, mystical way, but in the way that I believe God has things under control. Max Ehrmann, the poet, said, "Whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should." It's the essence of the song He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. I believe strongly that we are in His hands and things will work out as they should. And that we will be happy with the result.
That's the most important thing. We'll be happy with the result.
On my mission we worked with Nelli (in photo with Anni Kymalainen), who'd just had a rough time. She was from Kazakhstan and was allowed into Germany because she has German heritage (for more details on this law, call me). Her marriage was in shambles and she was trying to find a way to move out but had complication after complication. After one such complication I said, "I'm sure Heavenly Father has a really great apartment for you somewhere." At that moment I thought, "What a stupid thing to say! She wanted this apartment. She needs it. It doesn't make sense to wait for another." However, in reflection, I agree with myself. If things don't work out it's because something else will. And we'll be happy with that something else. Really happy.
The important thing is to have faith, which is essentially trust. If I say, "I have faith in you," I'm saying, "I trust you. I know you'll have integrity and follow through on whatever our agreement was." If we can trust the Lord, we'll know that our lives are working out in a meant-to-be fashion.
Last example, I went into social work because I really wanted to help people in poverty. I altered that a bit and decided I'd really like to do humanitarian aid. I felt very passionately about that. I felt strongly that it was unjust to have to so much suffering in the world, that it was part of my duty as a citizen of the world and someone who understands that my life has purpose, to help all those I could. And too help the most needy. Because I have been given much/ I too must give. And then in grad school it just didn't work out. I felt pushed toward mental health. I felt like I was giving up on the dream, letting unknown suffers down. And for what? Posher life with a steady income and a clinical setting. Therapy is luxury and I wanted to be giving necessities. Later, I was talking to a former professor, Dr. Jini Roby, about my feelings and she said, "Yes, but helping is helping. Macro or micro." That's helped me a lot. My job is meant to be. I'm where I should be. Maybe I'll still be able to build my African hut and work on a well, but for now my life is where it should be.
Meant to be is trusting things will work out and promises will be fulfilled.



So, July so far has brought my birthday and a concert with friends. Enjoy the photos!
I share a birthday with my niece, Gracie, so I spent my big day with her on her big day.
For my birthday, I had a black and white party. Everyone dressed in black and white. We ate food (including marble cake) and watched Breakfast at Tiffany's.
High School chums - Jen, me, Steph, and Haley
Kari, Christina, Tina, and Krista
Steve, Kate, me, and Braden
Rhiannon and Amy
Amy and Marta
Krystel, Kailee, and Christina
We went to see Secondhand Serenade with a bunch of friends. Good times!
The group. We took this photo for our upcoming album. We call ourselves "Album Cover/ Band Photo," but you can call us what our fans do - AC/BP.



World locations have reputations. If, for example, you tell someone you're moving to Wichita it might not have the punch of, say, New York City. When I lived in Germany, being American was very ok and sometimes a talking point. But you'd not find the Germans proclaiming their Germaness (unless it was World Cup season). I don't really find anything wrong with Germans, but country-pride is not looked well on since WWII.
Some places are allowed more pride than others, which is unfortunate. LA is rad, Wichita is less so. though I am quite certain Wichita has it's charms.
It is of one of those spots I'd like to write. P-town, where I live, receives mentions usually in an apologetic way.
"I gotta get out of Provo."
"And I really didn't want to have to move here."
"Yep, still in Provo. Eek."
It's like P-town is not allowed to be liked. One cannot be proud of it. To like it means you have no taste or that you haven't gotten out much. But I like it. I really do. And I flatter myself that I am somewhat well-traveled and educated. To prove my love, and encourage it in others, I have a top ten list of the things I really enjoy about it. These aren't really in an order.
10. Farmer's Market. Sometimes it's more market than farmer but it's fun to be with a community and some of the food is really yummy.
9. Bridal Veil Falls. The grounds make a good walk.
8. The grounds at BYU. If you need a walk or just want to spread a blanket or you like to people watch, this is the place.
7. Gallery Stroll and F-Stop Cafe. The art is fun and the cafe has about one patron, making it friendly and actually the hot chocolate doesn't suck. I went in there one day and there was a puppy just hanging out.
6. Center Street. It's just a cool looking walk.
5. Cocoa Bean. It's slightly bitter and that makes it beyond delicious.
4. Library. I've decided this (and the one in Orem) is my happy place.
3. Riding bikes on Uni Ave and near Center.
2. International Cinema at BYU. And it's free.
1. Communal. Try the squash and the pot de creme.



I have a game I play with clients who don't seem to be interested in actual therapeutic endeavors called Table Topics. It's a box of questions from "What was your favorite childhood meal?" to "Do you believe in an afterlife?" I've played it often enough that I have my prescribed answers and the game holds little mystery for me. I want to be as honest and open as possible (modeling, a therapeutic term I use for my notes to somehow justify the session's activities). However, some questions baffle me. "What one thing would you ask a psychic?" and "What is your biggest pet peeve?"
I would like to announce that I have an answer for the second (the one about pet peeves). It is the misuse of the word literally.
Literally means in all actuality, the concrete meaning of a word -- no metaphor, no idiom. The antonym of literally is figuratively. Figuratively means metaphor, idiom, a figure of speech.
I have the following rules for the use of literally.
First, the thing must actionable and have actually, physically happened. For example, in telling the story of her son's (figurative) broken heart she said, "He was literally crushed." What! Oh my goodness! Is he okay? Another example, "Time was literally flying." This brings up visions of clocks with wings, stalking prey like Hitchcock's birds. In both of these examples, the events did not actually happen. The offenders intended to strengthen to power of their statements. What they should have said was something like "He was totally crushed" or "Time was definitely flying." One can be totally crushed, so to speak, and time can be metaphorically definitely flying.
Second, it must be the opposite of figuratively. Because literally is used to create emphasis, offenders often use it in a way that can only be literal, making the word unnecessary and out-of-place. For example, "I was literally speeding down the road." Of course you were. There is no metaphor or idiom about speeding down the road. No one is going to think you weren't actually in a car. They get it. Another example, "The duck literally took the bread from my hand." Really? Glad you clarified. Otherwise I might have thought the duck wasn't real. A better way to say it would be "I was speeding down the freeway... really I was" or "The duck came right up, man, and dang if that bread wasn't taken from my own hand."
The best time to use literally is when you actually did something that might be mistaken as figurative. For example, "I literally bought the farm" or "Maria was literally relieved when she got to the restroom."
Check out this misuse from Kristen Stewart and this youtube clip from Frasier.
In sum, I now have a great answer for Table Topics, and it's one (as you might surmise from the impetus to write a blog about it) I feel quite passionate about.


Empire State of Mind

Last week I went to NYC with my mom and sister, Fred. I owned that city.
We had dinner with my girl, E Masi, and I even crashed on her couch (when our hotel messed up our "order"). She is always a delight to be around and I miss her tons since she moved to NYC.

We saw Memphis. Good show. It was about a white, 8th-grade educated loser from, you guessed it, Memphis who rises when he plays "race music" on the radio and subsequently falls for a black singer. It's got the same basic idea as Hairspray but is much more serious.
We visited the island.
And the Statue of Liberty.
Fred and I with Manhattan in the back ground.
Although we couldn't reckon that any of our ancestors came through Ellis Island, some folks with our name did.
The World Trade Center site. It was kind of sad to look at think of how horrible 9/11 was. As we walked the street around the site I kept thinking about the people who ran from the site 9 years ago and the people who were never found.
I got to meet up with Heidikins, who just happened to be in town.
Scouted for wizards but in the end, Waverly Place was just another street. But a really cool street.
The Brooklyn Bridge -- "Brooklyn, I spent a month there one night."
SofL is smaller from Brooklyn.
Imagine no possessions/
I wonder if you can/
And no need for greed or hunger/
A brotherhood of man/
Imagine all the people/
Sharing all the world
Breakfast at Tiffany's
In the Heights -- which I really enjoyed -- staring Corbin Bleu (Jordin Sparks will join him soon). It's the story of Usnavi, a first-generation immigrant living in NYC's Washington Heights. His neighborhood is going to pot and they have to pull together and decide what's really important. It's got great music, good script, and memorable characters. Totally recommend it!
Everyone has a good time in NYC.