Wednesday, June 15, 2016
This week something happened that made me think. I think all the time, you know, as we all should, but this time I was able to assign some vocabulary to some abstract ideas that I have had for a long time. I'll explain.
One of my most profound experiences with this concept was in early 2013. I was 20 years old and I was awaiting my LDS mission call, the letter telling me where I would be spending the next eighteen months. Of course I had my secret wish list in my head of places I thought would be great to go. One of those was Italy. While I was waiting for my call to come in the mail, my neighbor across the street got his mission call. "Rome, Italy." I was happy for him, of course, but also partly so disappointed because that was one of the top places I wanted to go. I mean, who gets called to ROME THE COOLEST CITY EVER? Well, he was going to so that definitely meant I had to scratch that option off my list.
Then two weeks later my letter came. "Rome, Italy." I couldn't believe it and I was so so so happy. I definitely felt that it was where I was supposed to go. But part of me was definitely scratching my head about it too. How was it possible that my neighbor and friend was going there, and then I was too? For some reason that didn't add up in my mind.
It really wasn't until this past month or so that I have actually reflected on that experience and seen it as a perfect illustration of one of my greatest mental struggles. I think my natural, mortal mind relies on the scarcity principle to make sense of the world rather than the abundance principle. The scarcity principle is the mentality that resources in the world are scarce or hard to come by, which makes the demand and desire for them greater. Makes sense. If there's less of something, we automatically place higher value on it and desire it more. Only 100 concert tickets available to see Coldplay? A lot of people are going to want that. Also, we hold onto things that we have (like our money and our time) for fear that someone else might take them away. I think a lot of people have this somewhere in their wiring, because it makes logical sense if you think about it in a very material sense. If someone in your village brings back a deer to feed their family, it means that your family isn't eating that deer, and that there's one less deer out there in the woods to feed your family. Okay, silly example, but you get the idea.
I think we take it a little bit too far in our minds sometimes and translate it to things less tangible. At least I do. Beyond things like food if we were nomad hunters and gatherers, we apply the scarcity principle to things like money, houses, cars, and even talents and beauty. If someone has a lot of money, that means that you will automatically have less money because they have a lot. If someone has a great talent for playing the piano, that means that I kind of suck because their talent is so great.
Here's another example. Let's say that you found out that someone in your class got 100% on their test. This was a super hard test that you studied for for weeks. You're upset that they got a perfect score because in your mind now you are less likely to get 100%. They took that resource. When I see it written out like that, I think, "Well of course that isn't true. A teacher can give out multiple perfect scores. If I studied my hardest, I can get 100% too." It seems a little silly to think about it through the scarcity lens, yet I think I still do it initially.
How about this one. I know a really beautiful girl (k, I know so many), but in this particular instance I encountered her and felt so much sadness in my heart because I knew I could never be that beautiful. I felt depressed for like a full day probably, just wishing that I could attain that level of prettiness. This happened/s in my real life and I think it was in this scenario is that I realized that the scarcity view on the world is incredibly harmful to me.
The abundance principle is the opposite. This is the belief that there is enough to go around. There's enough room and resources in the world for all of us to be benefitting equally. You don't need to hold onto things like your money or your time so tightly ... You can give things like that away and use them in order to help other people, because the belief is that you will eventually get returns. There are enough deer in the forest to feed the whole village. It's possible for multiple people in the class can get perfect scores on their test. If your neighbor buys a nice car, it's possible for you to save your money or get a loan and have a nice car too because nice cars aren't really going to "run out." If your buddy gets into your dream grad school, he isn't actually taking up a spot you could have had. Your talents and merits could just as easily get you there too.
While neither the scarcity principle nor the abundance principle is 100% true, and they're more like theories or ways to organize ideas, the abundance principle is a much happier and healthier way to think. It's definitely the optimist's way of thinking, and I'm pretty sure it's the way that God thinks too.
It reminds me of a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland. "Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is -- downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!" He's illustrating scarcity mentality here as well, and it really reminds us that that is such a mortal way to think. God is so full of blessings that he is openly giving out if we are willing to work and ask. Elder Holland continues to say, "To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him 'all that he hath.'" talk here.
I think the main thing I learned in reflecting on these ideas is this: Just because she's pretty doesn't mean I'm not. When I had that lightbulb moment during that depressing, selfish day, I kind of snapped out of my poisonous mentality and realized that every single person is so different. Why would I compare myself to someone else I barely know and think that they are taking away my potential to be beautiful? How silly is that? To quote something I saw on Pinterest once, "A flower doesn't think about the flower next to it. It just blooms."
Just because she's pretty doesn't mean you aren't.
If God blesses someone else, that absolutely does not mean that there isn't anything left for you. If your friend gets randomly assigned to Rome, Italy, there is no rule that says you can't go there too. If you really want it, you can have it. Sure, it might require a lot of work and and effort on your part to attain something difficult or scarce, but blessings are there waiting for you if you're willing to work for them.
We don't need to hold on so tightly to our time, money, material possessions, and talents. There are actually bigger returns when you take time to help someone else than if we try to keep everything we have to ourselves. We don't need to be competitive. If someone else is super smart, super cool, or has a really aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed, that doesn't darken the light that shines on you. I think that's one reason why we have that parable of the talents in the Bible too ... To remind us that God is really happy with those that recognize that there is enough to go around, and are willing to aid Him in spreading His blessings around to everyone else.
I didn't realize back in 2013 that God was trying to teach me something that day when He gave me a mission call, but I'm grateful that I'm finally starting to get it three and a half years later. There's enough Rome to go around, people. And I'm grateful that I am loved that much.
In writing this post I referenced this and this to make sure my thoughts about scarcity and abundance weren't completely off.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
I went to San Francisco on vacation last summer (during my blogging hiatus), and I was looking through all my pictures on my phone that never got to see the light of day. I felt bad for them, so here's one. That is one super photogenic city.
Yesterday morning, Shae clicked submit on his dental school applications. We have basically narrowed down where Shae will be going to dental school to three options. One here close to home, another one in Vegas (close to his home), and one in San Francisco. At this point, we're pretty sure we'll choose the Utah one so we can stay close to our families while we start our own family, if he gets in there. It would be a great thing to be close to family since Shae will be super busy a lot and I'll be alone a lot, but I do also feel like it would be so good to move to a new place like San Francisco and get some new experiences. Vegas is fine too but I'd probably die in the heat tbh.
Another reason we want to stay close to home, still family related, is that after dental school (which Shae is planning to do through the Air Force), we will most likely get stationed somewhere far away from home, and even possibly overseas (cross your fingers for Italy!), and so we feel like we should be near our people while we can.
Lots of pros and cons to consider. I do kind of have an itch to see and live in new places, and San Francisco might be my spirit city (and seeing the ocean daily gives me life), but I realize that in the end we will make a good choice and be happy with it.
See you in October, this decision.
Friday, June 10, 2016
Cooking dinner is my actual favorite. Hopefully this is the last time I have to make a dinner that is then transported in tupperware containers to Shae's study room at the church? That DAT is coming right up in a week from today. Eating dinner at the church has been fine though. I'm getting really creative about what kinds of foods are actually portable and can stay hot. Tonight we had bbq chicken, risotto, and green beans with garlic and lemon juice. I did french toast with strawberries once. That one wasn't easy. Also I dared Shae to go to the bathroom in the women's restroom tonight and he did. Granted, the stakes were pretty low because no one is using this building on a weeknight in the summer. It's kind of like our own house extension if we want. Also, I did my eyeliner this morning when I still had fetus face so that's why it looks so un-precise, wow. Better luck tomorrow.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
No one cares if you're "cool" except the people obsessed with coolness, and they're losers. People who care about cool inevitably lose, because contrived coolness is contingent on a lot of fleeting, external factors (namely time). So now what? When you stop measuring things in terms of coolness, a well of existential sorrow opens up within. You no longer have that measuring stick with which to faux-organize the world. But you can open that well now, or it will open itself later. Maybe better to learn to live in it today on your own terms.
An inspiring perspective from Lenny Letters
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
My photo library is completely full of these!!! It's a job, and most jobs are pretty boring, I realize, but this one makes my eyes hurt and back hurt and generally is really tiring. Yesterday I had kind of a frustrating day with this whole project, but today I was able to just de-stress a little bit and work on a painting job, which I LOVE. I did the first stage of Brynn and Zach's wedding announcements and I feel so much better. My chill is restored. Thank you, little leaves and succulents, for saving me today.
Fabric swatches, we shall meet again on Thursday (stink eye).
Monday, June 6, 2016
We eat pasta about 2-3 times per week. Maybe if we had lived in China or Brazil we'd eat rice or something, but we are pasta people through and through now. The best thing about it is that there are SO many variations you can make, and you can pretty much make a sauce out of anything.
Red pepper pasta is one of our favorites, and it's super easy to make. I learned this one while in Sicily and it's seriously so good.
Red Pepper Pasta:
Serves 2-3 (If you want more servings I'd just add more red pepper and more half and half. Everything else could stay about the same)
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3/4 cup cream (I use half & half)
Salt to taste
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
Cooked pasta of your choice (My favorites with this sauce are shells, penne, or rigatoni)
Chop red pepper and onion into 1/2-1 inch pieces. Cut up garlic clove into small pieces. Saute together in a large pan (big enough that you can put your noodles in at the end) with a bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft (red pepper doesn’t crunch when you bite it).
When that stuff is soft and smelling super good, put about 3/4 of it in a blender, leaving some peppers and onions remaining in the pan. Blend together with the half and half until pink and smooth.
Pour back into the pan with the remaining pepper/onion mixture. Simmer until the sauce thickens more (I learned from Chopped that that is called "reducing your sauce"). Add salt (and garlic powder if it needs it) to taste. You could also throw some basil in there if you’re into that.
Add as much grated parmesan as you want YUM YUM YUM YUM.
Put in the noodles into the sauce and toss around.
Add more grated parmesan on top if you want!
It's so so good and fast! Buon appetito!
Friday, June 3, 2016
June is always one of my favorite months, mainly because the nights start to get warmer and the grass is finally plush enough to lay on. This morning I went on a jog (and it was pretty terrible), but the day was so nice and I found out I live just a few minutes away from a Jamba Juice AND Daylight Donuts. My car came back from being fixed and it runs so much better now, and even though I'm poorer, at least I can leave a one mile radius again. Shae is taking the DAT in two weeks, and after that we will (in his words) "do all the fun things" after these months of strict study time. June has some promise, you know?
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
I said I wasn't going to be blogging about Netflix anymore ... but I think it's only fair to share with you some of its gems. When we surf Netflix for something to watch (which isn't super often right now because Shae is applying to dental school this week. yipee! ahh! teeth!), we will usually end up saying things like, "Wow this is a terrible selection" and just watch another episode of Parks and Rec. BUT I have found some great things on Netflix (like Broadchurch! Have you started it yet?), and I think I'll share of few of them here in case you're looking for something not lame to watch.
Mona Lisa Smile (2003) dir. Mike Newell (He made Harry Potter 4)
This is one of those film titles that I recognized, but was too young to actually enjoy or be interested in when it came out. I just watched it a couple months ago for the first time and I was really impressed.
Julia Roberts plays a west coast, free-spirited art history professor and she moves to a preppy all-girls college in New England full of geniuses. She teaches them to not only memorize the art history text book from cover to cover, but to actually interpret meaning and how to understand abstract art, which is pretty progressive thinking for their school. The story also deals a lot with gender roles, expectations of the time (which I found still apply right now) and other feminist issues.
It has a sweet female-dominated cast including Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst, and Ginnifer Goodwyn, and I just loved all of them in it. Each of them has a compelling storyline regarding finding their role in society and what will make them happiest. Should I get married or go to grad school? etc.
It's set during the mid-20th century and is a cool take on perhaps hidden issues of that time, but I found that the themes were still really relevant today as well. It's really beautifully shot, has really smart, though provoking writing (especially in the art history classroom scenes), great performances, and will make you want to shout "Girlz rule and boyz drool!" Just kidding, but it is really lovely and empowering and I almost cried at the end when they're all on their bikes (just watch it and you'll see). AND it's on Netflix so have at it.
(For any moms reading this (idk?) I probably wouldn't show it to someone under 13 because it's got quite a bit of talk about sexual issues.)
5/5 would recommend to people who like art and women and Julia Roberts.