Friday, December 16, 2011


There are some things people just don’t talk about. Social norms dictate they are too personal to discuss widely. This proscription is arbitrary, for while people may believe the issues to be divided on personal lines, they are not so clearly delineated. We talk about “personal” things all the time; some personal things are freely thrown about (much to some people’s chagrin) while other areas are banned precisely because they are personal. And so, I am led to believe that people don’t broach the topics because they are uncomfortable, either for themselves or supposedly for the person on the other end of the conversation.

But the silence on these issues can be devastating for a person experiencing something “too personal” to be discussed. Certainly, people have different ways of dealing with life’s events, but many – given the chance – would gladly benefit from a conversation about these personal issues. I do not deny their personal nature; I defy the idea that their personal nature precludes discussion.

Often, the simple act of discussing something difficult with another person reduces the burden we carry. Countless times while in conversation, I have discovered that what I viewed as a personal crisis was in fact a collectively experienced one. Knowing that my experience was shared with others quelled supposed insurmountable concerns and sadness. There is something in the telling, something in the receiving and relating that heals. How many times I’ve been soothed by those unassuming words, “Me too!” The shared identity: now I can relax. What I’m feeling is normal, or at least shared by enough people that it doesn’t spell disaster for me if I’m experiencing it.

Just one year ago, I had never heard of a single person who’d had a bad honeymoon. Honeymoons were a glorious time for a new couple. Right? Right? I remember lying in bed in Honduras so sick I could hardly move. (Why in the world did we go to Honduras on our honeymoon? Nobody will ever know.) I was convinced I was the only person who’d ever had a less than stellar honeymoon. Oh, but out of the woodworks came numberless honeymoon horrors… once I started to tell my story. Why hadn’t anybody told me before my honeymoon? I wouldn’t have felt so worried and distressed if I’d known somebody else had experienced what I was going through.

And so, I feel the need to share an experience, both for my own healing and hopefully for others’. A couple weeks ago, I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks. From the beginning, I had felt a very strong connection to this little child, and my worst fear was that I would miscarry. I had seen the fetus, the heartbeat; we had chosen a name. There was life, and suddenly, it was gone. The emptiness that prevails is overwhelming; incompleteness consumes the soul. Emotions destabilize, and I find myself abruptly transitioning from laughter to tears and back to mirth. Then creeps in the deadened heaviness – no longer weepy, just hollow – and I wish I could return to the freedom of tears, with their sweet release of emotion. They say that one in eight women have post-partum depression, and I wonder what the figures are for women who miscarry. All those rapid changes in hormones and no life to show for it.

Truly, a miscarriage has been one of my keenest trials, exacerbated by my worries about my upwardly mobile age. But through it all, I have oddly felt at peace. I was able to say with meaning, “Thy will be done” before I started to miscarry. While it does not lessen the acuity of the pain, or make restitution for the loss, it brings peace and calmness. I have been sustained through this process and feel I can trust that the Lord will indeed take care of me. Just today I read the scripture, “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” I am in His hands, and I can trust not only that these experiences will be for my good, but that there is a reason in all things.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A round of love for everybody

Love this.

Love him.

LOVE this.

3.3.2011 in SLC!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh, Baltimore

If I were to love Baltimore, it would have to be for its quirks - you know, those things that make you chuckle and roll your eyes a bit as you say, "Oh, Baltimore." I had one of those moments this morning as I sat in my car with the window down searching for a parking spot. A complete stranger from down the block just starts yelling, "God bless you! God bless you!" I start swiveling around to figure out who he's talking to, and - finding myself the only potential recipient of such a blessing - finally look back at him from our distance with an incredulous, "who me?" face. Stranger: "Yes, you! God bless YOU! It's a wonderful day. Whoooeee, lady! You've got a sweet ride. Seriously, I love your ride." Still separated by a couple blocks, I yell my thanks right back at him. I have to attempt my thanks several times because they are punctuated by his repeated, "That's a beautiful car. I love your ride." Finally, my light turned and I drove off to his smiles and waves, all the while thinking to myself, "Oh, Baltimore."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Waiting for the locusts

In the famous words of Mikale Clark, "If it's not one natural disaster, it's another." In the last 9 months, DC survived an earthquake, a hurricane, 2 Snowmaggedons with 5 feet plus of snow (where even Johns Hopkins closed for an entire week), crazy heat waves, a tornado, weeks without power, and flash floods. It has almost become the norm to be without power, and Pepco just might get the ax. Now we're just patiently awaiting the locusts. Bring 'em on.

Thursday morning we woke up to continuous thunder and lightening like I've never heard before in my life. Deafening and continuous (although some people were miraculously able to sleep through it). And then the rains began; the heavens opened their mighty gut and gushed for 45 minutes. In that time, 4 feet of water collected in our front yard. I went to leave for work and could not even leave the door. Our cars were immersed in water and we all began to wonder if we had been magically transported to Pakistan overnight. My car story doesn't have a happy ending - I guess the engine didn't like getting soaked. But we won't dwell on that. Just thought you might want a couple pictures proof, even though these weren't at the highest point.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Keeping 'em open

We live in a world of almost infinite opportunity. At every turn we are beset by new options, from the menu at a restaurant or list of careers to the people we befriend and date. Growing up in the old Land of Opportunity, we imbibe the adage "there's nothing you can't do." In so many ways, these opportunities enrich our lives, but I've also seen them wield their fair share of destruction. Too often we allow ourselves to become paralyzed by this vastness of opportunity, endlessly chasing after something simply because it is there. Just the mere awareness of an option can make it seem valuable and plausible. Sometimes we even start to dream about it becoming ours or integrating it into our lives. We fear losing something, even when it isn't necessarily a good option for us.

And it's only natural, I suppose. We humans have a potent aversion to loss, in whatever form it may come. Even the loss of something that is not technically "ours" is something our constitution avoids. We want to keep our options open, sometimes indefinitely, because quite frankly, the thought of loss is so painful to us that we do whatever we have to do to keep our doors from closing.

Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational did an experiment where he asked people to click on a door to earn money. Each door would bring a varying profit, but it was their choice which door they continued to click. One group was allowed to revisit a door as frequently as they wanted, and they had 100 clicks total. Another group was allowed the 100 clicks, but if they left a door alone for 12 clicks, it would disappear forever. He found that participants in the 2nd scenario were harried, frantic, and made 15% less money than those in the 1st group. They would have made more money by simply choosing one door and sticking with it for the entirety of the experiment. But the presence of those options and the idea that they might disappear were enough to make participants act in illogical ways, chasing after doors that didn't present a good return on investment. In other words, they wanted to keep that door "alive" even though it wasn't benefiting them. They couldn't stand the idea of loss.

Ariely also tells the story of Xiang Yu, a Chinese commander who burned his army's own ships and destroyed all their cooking pots. Of course, his men were confused about why he would do such a seemingly crazy thing. His response was that without the pots and ships, they had no choice but to fight their way to victory or perish. He forced them to close some doors, to suffer a loss so that they were motivated to move forward.

Sometimes there will be somebody who burns our proverbial cooking pots or ships in order for us to move forward and close a door. More often, we are the ones that will have to take the initiative and make conscious decisions. There are some doors we need to close, and others we need to keep open. How do we forge ahead, consciously closing doors when expedient? And how do we decide when it is time to close a particular door?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


When I stopped eating sugar in January, I did it to be healthier, thinking that I understood the intentions behind my actions. But recently, in conversations with friends and my own gospel study, I discovered that I had underestimated my desires.

Of late, I have been thinking about what I eat in terms of my personal stewardship over my body. If my body is the "temple of God" and has been "bought with a price" I have a responsibility to maintain its sanctity by what goes into and out of it. We are told to "glorify God in [our] body" and that proper treatment and use of our body will lead to its sanctification.

We learn that the "natural man is an enemy to God." Thus, in this life we are to "bridle all [our] passions" and subject our carnal desires. This, in my opinion, is one of the principle purposes of fasting - to learn how to allow our Spirits to gain traction over our bodily desires, to practice the arts of self-mastery so that we can be more in-tune with the Lord's guidance of our lives. I also believe this is a major theme in the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom provides guidance that can facilitate self-mastery and strengthening of the spiritual. By helping us to bridle some of those passions, we are promised the blessings of wisdom, knowledge, strength, and divine protection. It is for our temporal salvation, "that every one of [us] should know how to possess [our] vessel in sanctification and honor."

Eating is tricky, because so often we do not immediately see the effects of what we do, or we don't tie food directly to how we feel. While we often focus on certain facets of the connection between the physical and spiritual, we often miss that connection when it comes to eating. But the virtues of patience and self-mastery can be so perfectly developed in making decisions about what we eat. We live in a society of self-indulgence, even hedonism at times. We want things, and we want them now. I am reminded of President Uchtdorf's talk on patience. We are becoming so unaccustomed to having to wait for anything or postpone pleasure, and this includes our eating habits. "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." But how often are we ceding our rule over our spirit to our temporary desires? Do you know how sweet a strawberry is when you eat no other sugar?

I am not advocating that everybody stop eating sugar - it is simply my personal decision based on my feelings of my stewardship over my body. But, I feel strongly about my need for self-mastery and temperance. I feel that what I eat has an influence on my ability to feel the Spirit and communicate with God. As I practice self-mastery, my spiritual tendencies are refined and I feel I am a better steward over what God has given me. "The same is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler

Milton alert! I feel privileged to report that we've got a veritable Office Space-inspired drama ensuing at my very own office. It started off innocuously enough. Our coworker came a knockin', asking if his interns could borrow staplers to do lit reviews. Why, who could turn down those cute little interns? And they needed those staplers for such a noble task (that much ennobled by our dislike of it).

Enter scene right: intern #1, with a penchant for walking in all circumstances upon his tiptoes and pasting a perpetually perplexed look upon his face. Also to be noted, a high-toned, low-volume manner of speaking.

Intern #1 walks to Big Intern Boss' office, perplexed at not finding him there. In his bewilderment, he happens to fortuitously turn around and lo... what does his eye fall on? A shiny (not red) stapler.

Complication: Said stapler is currently cohabiting with another coworker, who will certainly lay claim to the stapler.

Intern's solution: Lurk and maneuver body to size up the stapler from every angle until the owner of the stapler turns around to find him there.

Intern: "Um, I think that's my stapler."
Coworker #1: "Well, let's see... I'm pretty sure this is my stapler."
Intern: "No, see, I know that's my stapler."
Coworker #1: "When I started here, this stapler was in my office, so I think it's mine."

Coworker #2 intervenes: "Hi, Intern #1. Were you looking for a stapler? Because I put my stapler in your cube so that you could use it."
Intern: "Oh, really? I didn't see anything."
Coworker #2: "Yeah, I did. Do you want me to come and show you where I put it?"

*Intern and coworker #2 enter Intern's cube. Intern takes one look at the stapler and instantly responds, "Oh, no. See, that's not my stapler. My stapler had a sticker on the top. That's why I know Coworker #1 has my stapler. See, it's the sticker."
Coworker #2: "Well, this is a stapler and it works just fine, so how about you use this?"
Intern: "But she has my stapler."