Feeling accomplished


My work is strange. It’s a job where I am the very end of the line and depending on the client, everything gets blamed on me. I also do a lot of copy-pasting – which is always fulfilling (sarcasm). Recently one of my clients implied that a few minutes of training (if any) and someone else could take over my job. Sometimes it’s hard to see my contribution or feel like what I’m doing has any worth.

Just for a refresher of what I do: I manage certain sections of LDS.org. It is a huge website with worldwide viewership. One of my sites is translated into 23 languages, which is more than most other sites on LDS.org. Although I didn’t write the content, I take great pride in the Youth Curriculum site. I built that thing. I fix and maintain that site. Someone else could have done that work, but they didn’t. I did the work and I can look at that site and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Last week we had a department devotional. That’s one of the strange things about working for the church: prayer before meetings, and weekly/monthly devotionals. But this devotional was a little different. It was set as a celebration and we watched two videos. The first was a video about our department. As it played I had the impression “You are a part of this great work.” I may not be producing videos or speaking in conference (thank goodness), but I am contributing to this great work. I am helping to publish the word to the world.

It’s interesting to work on a project in which I have pride. In my last job, I was doing all of the design and marketing for a company, but I felt very little pride in our spectrometers or soil testing equipment. But now I do something I believe in. It’s nice.

The second part of the devotional we watched an “I Am a Mormon” video about Elaine Bradley, drummer for the Neon Trees. She talked about the importance of having a personal relationship with God. Whether you are Mormon or not, having a relationship and belief in a higher power can save you. Then, weirdly enough, she came out and played her guitar for us. It all made me grateful to work where I do and be part of this great work. Lets just say not every devotional ends with a rock concert.

Elevators and doors and men

photo[1]I work with mostly older men. People at work tend to remember my name much better than I remember theirs due to the fact that I am in the minority (young and female).

The bonus of this is that I never have to open my own door. My arm muscles have really suffered in the past four years. Any time I walk up to a closed door, there is magically some man who is there to open it for me.

This is the same for elevators. I always enter and exit an elevator first. Sometimes this is less than ideal when I’m what seems like a block away and some man in an elevator is trying to hold it open for me.

Now here’s where the problem lies: I no longer know how to open my own doors. There has been many an awkward moment when I walk up to a door with my friends and I just stand there waiting for someone to come open it for me. When we’re in an elevator I always feel like I have to get out first, no matter where I am in the grouping. Thankfully my friends are good people and no longer make fun of me for it (as much).

Someday I’ll probably have to re-learn how to open doors and wait for elevators to empty. But for now, me and my Relief Society arms are going to sit back and take pleasure in the fact that chivalry is not dead. At least at the Church Office Building.



Apparently I am always bending down in pictures with Cassi. Ha!

In the summer of 2008, I decided to move to Austin, Texas to do a summer internship with IBM. I found my house through the LDS Institute and moved in site unseen. Soon after I got there, my new roommate moved in. Her name was Cassi. She was short. Like really short. Don’t worry, she knows it. :) It was always fun to see us together because I am rather tall. We were quite the pair.

We became fast friends. We kayaked together, ate ice cream together, watched SYTYCD on her sloping bed (one of the legs of her bed frame didn’t work and we never fixed it), and loved being together. We dealt with our crazy live-in landlord and the shockingly loud live-in bird. We were sad when the summer came to an end and I had to leave away. Thankfully, she stayed for a couple more years and I had a place to stay when I visited.

Cassi was born prematurely and developed Cerebral Palsy. I was nervous at first about how I would deal with this. I’m the kind of person who is scared of people with accents because I worry they’ll be offended if I don’t understand them. How would I deal with a roommate who had this condition that was totally new to me? But Cassi walked me through it and I quickly learned how strong and brave she is.

Since Cassi walks differently, she tends to fall down a lot. When we first became roommates I would freak out every time and try to help her up. She quickly told me that helping her was actually less than helpful. By the end of the summer, she would fall and I would stand by and let her get herself up. We would get quite the looks in public when she would fall and I, her friend, would stand and watch as she struggled up. But Cassi is strong. She is independent and she can do anything.

Recently Cassi made this video about her life. Maybe I cry every time I see it. I’m just so proud of my friend. It’s a blessing to know Cassi Baird.



Emotions. Feel them.

*Another really long-ago written post*

To write ‘LOL’ rather than to actually laugh out loud; to send a crying emoji rather than actually crying; to convey information rather than humanity. It’s never been easier to say nothing.”

Jonathan Safran Foer

I saw this quote in a round-up of best quotes from 2013 graduation ceremonies. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

I’ve always been much better at expressing myself through writing than speaking. It’s been the downfall of a few relationships. I act like everything’s fine until one day someone sees an email from me and realizes I had a lot more to say than they knew. “Email goggles” were made for me (Google’s invention of having to do math problems before you can send emails after a certain time of night).

When I was a Sunday School teacher, I cried before and during every lesson. When I was Relief Society President, I cried every time I conducted our meetings. Usually when I send a crying emoji, I am also literally crying. Crying is not my problem.

This is part of the reason why I ultimately decided to leave Facebook. Although I knew that most everything there was only a half-story, I had a hard time remembering that later. And I didn’t like that I was being fake either. Yet, on the other hand, I hated reading posts from the people who were too honest; those who told every detail of their life and feelings and thoughts and emotions. If I want people to know everything about me, I’m going to pick and choose who those people are.

I’ve espeically been working on this since becoming a landlord. I can’t leave passive-aggressive notes anymore. I can’t beat around the bush or send text messages or handle things through email. I have to talk things out. I have to address the roommate who never squeezes out the dishrag (stale dishrags are the bane of my existence). I have to discuss late fees with my roommates when they don’t pay their rent on time. It’s hard, but I’m learning.

Not having Facebook has been good and bad. I don’t get invited to a lot of things because people just forget. I basically don’t exist in my ward because they only announce things through it. But I have better relationships with several of my friends who go out of their way to tell me what’s going on in their lives. I talk on the phone (slightly) more. I go out of my way to see people. I send more pictures through text and email. I may not know every detail about my friends, nor they about me, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. My relationships tend to be more deliberate and I like that.

Reading Lately


Book statue at Seussland in Universal Studios.

I think that last year you could call me a “voracious” reader. You could call me that because it’s an excellent word and because I did more reading than maybe ever before.

Last year I read 51 books. I was one short of a book a week. I really really tried to get that last book in on the 31st, but apparently that’s a day you’re supposed to spend not reading by yourself in a dimly-lit room.

I’m not really sure how I read so much, seeing as how I bought a house and feel like I spent all of my time painting and weeding and shopping at Ikea and Home Depot.

Here are the three things I think that helped:

1. Give up. If you’re not loving a book, you don’t have to read it! There are billions of books to read, why waste your time with something you don’t like? I started following the 50-page rule. If, by page 50, I was not liking it or if I was feeling forced to read something, I stopped. I gave up. I threw it away (not literally).

2. Audiobooks. Six of the fifty-one books from last year were on audio. I know there’s a silly argument about whether or not audiobooks count as reading. I say that if I can go to a book club and intelligently discuss a book I listened to, it counts. Just because I didn’t see the words on a page, doesn’t mean I didn’t read the book.

3. Re-read. I usually get to a point in the middle of the year where I’m craving something I already know. This is why I own so many books; I love to reread. I’m the same with TV shows. I have several that I watch/read every year or two without fail. For books, it’s Harry Potter.

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Some of my favorites from 2014 (excluding re-reading HP):

My Antonia

Peter and the Starcatchers (The audiobook is read by Jim Dale – the Harry Potter reader!)

Robinson Crusoe

The Beginning of Better Days

The Hiding Place

The Importance of Being Earnest

The Matchmaker of Perigord

The Pigeon Pie Mystery

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring without Mustard, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Speaking from Among the Bones (#2, 3, 4, and 5 in the Flavia de Luce series. READ THEM.)


Oh Yeah…

*I wrote this post several months ago and forgot to ever publish.*

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Did I mention that 10 weeks after my first Grandma died, my other Grandma passed away as well? The joke we keep making is that my parents have always loved doing things together, so why not lose their moms at the same time too!?

I had a different relationship with Grandma Capener. She had a really hard life and she was often distant. Christmases with Grandma Capener usually involved being handed an Avon catalog with the directive to pick out something we wanted.

But over the past few weeks I’ve looked at Grandma’s life and realized how truly strong of a woman she was. She overcame so much. She lived alone for 30+ years and ran a house and a life all alone. Now that I own a house by myself, I know a little bit about how hard that really is.

She always stayed strong in her beliefs. She had good reason to be mad at God or at her church, but instead she held fast to her faith. She loved ward choir maybe more than anything else in the world and was always positive that her ward’s choir could give the MoTab a run for their money.

She loved family history and genealogy work. On the last day I sat with her, she became very agitated about Family History and the need to get it done. It was so important to her to know her lines and her heritage and get work done for them.

Grandma loved nature. She always filled her house with weird raffia ducks and paintings of seascapes. She had a wonderful eye for beauty in nature.

Grandma’s house held special memories for me. She had a wonderful library with books to the ceiling. She had made pillows out of giant t-shirts or sweatshirts and if you piled them all into the middle of the dropped floor, you could jump from the benches and have a perfect landing.

Grandma was strong. Grandma overcame and Grandma survived. On my mom’s blog, she talks about some of the things that Grandma went through in her life. I’m sure I don’t even know everything that Grandma went through, nor do I want to know. But most of all I hope that Grandma is happy now. I hope that she gets to decorate with blue jeans and overstuffed pillows. I hope that she was greeted by loving family and given all of the love that she so deserved. I hope that she has peace.

Oh My Grandma


Grandma would probably hate this picture, but I love her eyes.

Last week my grandma died. I’ve gotten mixed reactions to that news. I feel like sometimes I have to justify why it matters that my grandma died.

I’ve decided two things: 1) People react to my loss based on their own relationships with their grandparents. Those who were close with grandparents understand my sadness. Those who weren’t, see it as somewhat less of a loss. 2) I shouldn’t have to justify feeling really really sad over death.

Playing games with Grandma.

Playing games with Grandma.

But…I’m going to anyway. You see, my grandma was really great. I lived with Grandma every summer for at least 7 years. I spent a dozen Christmas mornings with Grandma. Grandma cared about ME. Individually.


This face says so much to me. This is her mischievous face.

Grandma was the kind of person who was loved by everyone who knew her. She was mischievous and loving and giving and kind.

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Christmas Eve pajamas. There’s an even better version of this picture from the back.

When I think of Grandma, I think of summer. And food. I think of hollyhock dolls and running through sprinklers. I think of crepes with honey butter and cookies from the ice cream-shaped cookie jar and homemade desserts and giant dinners. I think of huge bowls of popcorn and candy that she would sneak into me when I was too little to stay up playing games with the older kids. I think of playing games and laughing until it hurt. I think of Christmas mornings in our pajamas and Easter Egg hunts on the hill. I think of Lake Powell and cute hats and scotcheroos. I think of painted nails and perfect hair and the willingness to still get dirty. I think of the Christmas morning we spent together in New Zealand as we walked along the beach in our pajama pants. Mine were yellow with blue stars and hers were probably silk.


Our last Lake Powell trip.

When I think of Grandma, I think of tears. Not sad tears, but happy ones. I think Grandma passed down her ability to cry at the drop of a hat to me. We might have had a chant on Christmas days of “Make Grandma cry!” because you knew your gift was good when it made Grandma cry.

My absolute favorite picture of Grandma and Grandpa.

My absolute favorite picture of Grandma and Grandpa.

When I think of Grandma I think of unconditional love. I think of her love for her husband and the example they set to me of marriage. I think of her love for me and the way her face would light up each time I came to visit even when she could no longer speak my name.

And that is why it matters that my grandma died. Because she was the best person I have ever known. And that’s why it matters that I believe I will see her again. Because I can’t imagine not believing that. I know this isn’t the end and that’s what matters.