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Identity poems today.

I wear knee-length jean shorts.
I wear jorts.
I cut my old jeans off at the knees,
and roll them once or twice,
to make my jorts.
I wear knee-length jorts even though my thighs
pudge out a little at the bottom,
Because I am Mormon,
and it is dang hot this summer.

I read things on my Kindle.
They are electronic books.
Like the paper version,
Only you swipe instead of turn the page.
Having a Kindle makes me feel Official.
Because I own a tablet
Not made of stone.

I argue with my husband.
Useless banter.
Sometimes for fun
And sometimes by accident
And a few times,
on purpose.
Because I just have a lot of emotions,
And that is a weird thing to handle.
I’m sorry.

I live in Texas.
Austin, Texas.
That has been true
For exactly seven days.
I live in Texas
And I embrace that.
But I need a job
And a friend
Please.

jorts

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Interaction

|ˌintərˈakSHən|:
noun
1. reciprocal action or influence
2. the process by which different things affect each other or change each other.

This morning I woke up to Ken tapping my ankle.
“Can you take me to work?” he asks.
It is NEGATIVE 30 degrees in our room. I am freezing and delusional.
“Can you take the car to work?” I say in a mumbly morning voice.
“Then how will you get to work this afternoon?”
“You could come home for lunch. We’ll eat lunch together,” I say.
“…they’ll let you do that right? A lunch break?”

I’m sure he knows I’m half asleep, making up nice notions of lunch so I don’t have to get up for breakfast. I will turn to ice out there– I just know it.

“Remember how I’m leaving early today so we can go Christmas shopping? So… I can’t take a full lunch break.”
“Oh. …k,” I say as I go from curled-up ball to straight-leg position. This is, of course, signals that I’m on my way to getting out from under the covers. It takes me a few minutes to move again. And then a few more. And eventually my teeth are brushed and I have another layer of pajamas over my first layer and tacky pocahontas moccasin boots with gigantic sweatpants and my hood is up and I look close to death. Out the door we go. I shiver in there until the engine warms up. We’re off.

On the way, we see her!
It’s the Tamale Lady.
The road to Ken’s work occasionally includes a little lady with a wagon, a cooler full of homemade tamales, and homemade sign. The interaction with this lady is half the experience, though the tamales are real good too.
“She brings in a lot of business in the wintertime,” Ken says.
I bet she does. I am already planning a visit on my way back.

I’ve only met her once, maybe twice, but she talks as if she remembers me instantly.
“Ooooh! Como Esta? Bien?” she says.
I cant show you on a keyboard how she says this. I’m sure she doesn’t remember me but she smiles with all her wrinkles and her little eyes seem to recognize me as a friend. It feels great. I love interacting with latin people because there is something faintly familiar there– the insta-friend hospitality and the food=love thing– it’s like the south. There is home in those little eyes. I don’t know how to express this in English, much less spanish, so I just beam out a:
“Bien! Bien!”
I then proceed to use every spanish word I know,which totals to about 9, and try to use them in this tone like by the way, I appreciate you. I am happy to see you today. I am still in my ridiculous pajamas but she doesn’t seem to notice so I forget too.
“Ooooh mucho frio!” she says to me.
I look at her hands trembling as she reaches for her tamale list. A pair of pink gloves lays in her wagon next to the cooler. I guess she sees me notice them because she starts using those beautiful rolling words to explain that she would wear those gloves except that they don’t fit under the plastic glove she uses to pull the tamales out of the cooler. I understand what she is saying though I don’t know any of the words she is using. Does she think I speak spanish? No, she can’t possibly be fooled– my accent is horrendous. I wish she would just wear her pink gloves. They would only touch the corn husks and nobody eats those anyway. She doesn’t really need a plastic glove.
“Si. Mucho mucho frio,” I say, looking at all the snow and ice around her knowing I can’t understand how cold her hands must be all morning, maybe all day out here.
She shows me the list but I already know what it says.
“Dos,” I say as I point to cheese.
“Uno,” to pork
“Uno,” to chicken.
I’m glad she uses this list because I never learned the word for pork.
“Oooh quatros!” she says. Man I love this lady.
She slips the flimsy plastic glove onto her aged hands. They are beautiful like my Mamaw’s. She reaches around for those tamales, knowing which flavor is where though they all look the same, and bags them up in a brown paper bag– like the kind I used to take my lunch in. She folds down the top of the bag and then reaches for a second one to put them in. This is new, must be a winter thing to help the tamales stay warm.
They are $1.25 each so I know I owe her $5. She doesn’t tell me that though, just smiles her genuine wrinkly smile and hands me the bag.
“Gracias Hermana,” I say.
Hermana is one of my 9 words. It means sister and it’s normal to call people sister in spanish, which is kind of like being Mormon and kind of like just being real, genuine people who are trying to care about each other. I hand her $5 with one hand and then a little extra in the other hand– so she knows I’m giving her this second part on purpose. She doesn’t pretend she doesn’t want it. She doesn’t get embarrassed and shove it off like oh no you don’t have to do that. Is it an American thing to react that way? I’m glad she doesn’t react that way. She just beams again and says thank you and some other beautiful words in Spanish.
“Feliz Navidad!” I say.

And I walk away just loving that woman and anticipating some masa goodness for second breakfast.

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To-do lists and an experience with revelation.

I’m going to tell you about my day today.
Today I sat down to write about my mindset right now, a mindset which seemed just fine to me.
I wrote out my thoughts in the black text you’ll see below.

Then I remembered a speech by someone I love. His name is Dieter. He is a humble man from Germany and he has been called by God to speak to the world. We call these men prophets, seers, and revelators. I know their words are not just wise opinions they’re kind enough to share– but messages inspired of God. I know my father in heaven  helps them know what to say. I know because just after I expressed my thoughts here on this post, I felt prompted to read this speech I haven’t read in a while. And I saw, point by point, how powerful and personally applicable the words of God are as they come from these men. Here is some evidence of that. I’ve copy/pasted his counsel inside of what I originally wrote. Notice how his words, quoted in green, have the power to interrupt my course and steer me toward the truth. I’ll start out with some of his introduction.

“One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival.

…When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be. [But] there comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.

…My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.” –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

(Here’s where I come in…)

Today I sat waiting for my meeting to start at work.
I pulled out my notebook and made of list of things I need to do.
It filled the whole page. That’s okay. It tends to do that lately.
Then I do what I do every other day,

I categorized each thing into its purpose:
WEDDING
CHURCH
WORK
HELP MY FRIENDS
SCHOOL

“Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.” 

Then I made myself a deadline for each thing.
And micro-managed that list down to the wire until another week was planned hour by hour.
Literally. Every hour.
With all this you would think I’d never be behind on anything!
I am. I’m pretty behind in all things.
But that’s okay. I’ll just keep catchin up til it works. That’s what I do these days.

“I just have so many catgories in my life right now, and I’m trying to be AWESOME in all of them,” I said to my English Professor.

“Ah, and therein lies the danger,” she said.

Oh to be an english professor. To be a woman in hip business casual with a vocabulary that would knock your socks off. To be articulate and wise and spend time in the profession of pondering and articulating.

I daydream about all of the grandeur of her industry, if you could call it an industry. I wonder how she is a Mom of her 3 year old daughter and a wife and a professor. I wonder if she reads beautiful things to her daughter. I wonder what kind of statements she will make in her next publication. I am filled with hope and inspiration and thin nostalgic dreams. And then I come back to reality. There on the sidewalk next to her. With my paper still one day late and my thesis still weak and scraggly. Oh. Oh, real life.

There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions…The reason we return to these foundational principles [of the gospel of Jesus Christ], to the pure doctrines, is because they are the gateway to truths of profound meaning. They are the door to experiences of sublime importance that would otherwise be beyond our capacity to comprehend. –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

She’s right you know.
Therein lies the danger.

I know. But that doesn’t mean I can give up.
So I’ll just make my list, scope out a computer in the library, and sit down to my homework til its time to see my Ken and teach those missionaries. Today is homework day. SCHOOL CATEGORY. Time to profess my desire to educate myself. In the mean time, I’ve got Pandora flowin through my ears and faith stretchin my mind. And of course, ibuprofen. I can do this.

Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most. –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I see. My list is helpful. My list gives me direction. But my list should not define my identity or shape my priorities. I  know that, and yet I miss the point day after day. I know these man speak for God because time and time again I feel their words are personalized specifically for me. And yet they speak to the whole world. These are not general, vague messages of peace and goodness for the masses. These are direct, applicable, words just for me. God is out there and he is leading a church. There are still prophets and seers today. They are following him. So will I.

Click here to read the rest of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s speech, Of Things That Matter Most.

Click here to see a list of worldwide conferences. Men and women called of God, like Elder Uchtdorf, prepare for these conferences by asking God to reveal what message they should share with the world. They speak according to His will. Every year I listen to these conferences with a list of personal questions. Every year I receive answers just for me. I know they’re from God, and I know he’ll reveal answers to you too. Go read! Let them be revealed to you.