~ because not all who wander are lost ~

Monday, May 17, 2010


I am divided at the moment. I am loving school right now, the awesome "study abroad" program I am participating in called "Integrated Natural History- Utah." We are camping, writing, studying, and exploring all over Utah, learning about the history, the people, the science of the state. I am enjoying spending time with my new friends and getting to know the state in which I grew up.

However, half of me longs to be home when I hear about how riverguide training is going. More than half of me, actually. I see pictures, hear stories, and think about my long-time friends establishing new friendships and inside jokes and experiencing the river together, and I have to admit that I feel a little left out.

Although I have grown up rafting, I have never really felt that I "belonged" to a group of riverguides. I've always felt too young, or I missed out on training, where everyone begins at the same level and grows together. Jumping into the middle of things, I always feel a bit like a well-kown stranger. It's an odd feeling. And this year, once again, I am missing out on the crucial beginning point. Still, I know most of the guides from last summer or beyond, and I cannot wait to go home on June 11th! I feel at home with a paddle in my hands, with stars above my head. I even miss the cocky boy scouts and hot, dusty lunches. Most of all, I miss my close friends who are finally guiding this year, and I want to be there with them.

But then again, I am having a great time with Laura, Annie, Erin, Greg, and all my other INHUT friends. I have climbed mountains, eaten ants, canoed in the hail, listened to a coyote, dug for trilobites, talked with Shoshone natives, eaten too many tortillas, gone to church with ranchers, and stayed up way too long talking about life. We will only be together for another few short weeks, and then INHUT will just be a memory. I only have so long to enjoy it.
This is where I am divided: to live in the moment, or to long for another?
My mom gave me some words of wisdom when I talked to her on the phone last night: "There is fun happening everywhere, but we can only be in one place at a time."

This place, this time, are mine. I don't want to rob this moment of its fulness by putting myself partly in another. I can fully immerse myself in river guide culture when I finally pull through that red-rock pass and see the glinting lights of Moab beneath the purple glow of the LaSals, but until then, I am a member of this group, of this moment. Fully.

Well, almost. Home is where the heart is, and my heart roams the red rock canyons. :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Freshman Year in Numbers

Roommates: 5
Road trips: 5
Pictures taken: 3,723
Papers written: 55
Credit hours taken: 32
Classes: 17
Times fallen asleep in class: 0
Most hours of class in a single day: 8
Fewest hours of class in a single day: 2
Phone calls: 714
Tests taken: 28
Tests bombed (59% or less): 1
Tests aced (100% or more): 2
Classes skipped: 6
Average hours of sleep per night: 7.5
Average bedtime: 11:45 pm
Average wake-up time: 7:30 am
Average time spent on Facebook daily: 27 minutes
Average phone-call length: 3 minutes, 15 seconds
Average time working out weekly: 2 hours
Nights at Laura’s Cabin: 2
New family members: 3
Trips Home: 7
Hymns played: 341
Professors who know me by name: 9
Weekly grocery budget: $21
Jars of peanut butter: 6
Bowls of Ramen soup eaten: 0
Apples eaten: 120
3 lb. bags of Craisins: 2
Free backpacks: 3
Hikes to the Y: 3
Inches cut off of hair: 12
Movies watched: 35
Books read: 16
Boys kissed: 7
(just kidding! only 1 ;)
Picnics in an elevator: 1
Songs written/started: 8
Guitar strings broken: 2
Pairs of new shoes: 5
Pictures in the BYU Daily Universe: 1
Quotes on the Quote Wall: 10

= 1 amazing year!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ordinary Miracles

I have seen miracles.

I now group miracles into two categories:
- ordinary people with extraordinary love

- random and wonderful things that just couldn't be coincidence- aka
God's tender mercies.
I received both when I needed them the most this past week.
The pop quizzes in Spanish were all about stuff I remembered learning before this class, so it didn't matter that I was behind in homework. One of my family home evening brothers surprised me with lunch when I didn't really feel like eating. The deadline for my chemistry homework that is normally due by classtime was extended a whole day. My dad sent me a text saying he loved me and to have a great day- I didn't know he even knew how to text! I forgot my keys, but the door just happened to be unlocked. The place I was reading in the scriptures spoke right to me, giving me so much strength. My roommates spent long hours just talking and laughing with me, going out for ice cream and hanging out. For just the second time in the semester, my religion teacher didn't ask us to turn in our homework. The sun was shining and the days were beautiful.
But the most amazing thing happened with a Chemistry test. As you can expect, studying is super difficult when you have something much heavier weighing on your mind. I forced myself to study for a few hours and do some practice problems, bringing my mind back to electrochemistry again and again, but my heart wasn't in it.

I was doing my best, but I just couldn't focus.

I was a little apprehensive going into the test, but not worried. (Once you learn what is really worth worrying about, a little midterm is nothing. ;) I sat down and began going through the problems, and I noticed gratefully that I felt unusually focused and capable.I felt great, everything was so clear and simple. Then when I got to the last problem, I stumbled. The day before, I had spent hours trying to figure out a practice problem just like this, but had given up, frustrated. My shoulders dropped and I looked up, at a loss.
Then I noticed my equation sheet. I looked through the familiar list, and my eyes fell on a certain unit conversion that I had never thought of before. I knew it was the one. The problem was suddenly so simple.
I turned my test in confidently, finished in half the time it usually takes me. I walked down the stairs and looked up to see my score, and nearly choked and laughed and danced and cried all at the same time-

Perfect score,

I definitely had some help from the Ultimate Chemist. My mom summed it up pretty adequately:

Faith is the conduit to truth, and truth is all the correct anwers.

When I told one of my friends about it, she replied, "That's exactly what I was praying for."
For me? I didn't know what to say.
Prayer is real. Prayer is powerful. "Thanks."

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It's funny how one thing can completely rearrange your priorities and alter your life's perspective. My boyfriend/best friend has been in the hospital all week with a very serious, sudden illness, barely hanging on. I didn't find out until just Wednesday night, which is probably a good thing: I didn't know you could be literally sick with worry, but it is true. Since then, I have scarcely thought of anything else. Food has been a bother to me, sleep has come slowly, and it has been very difficult to concentrate on schoolwork. Luckily I got to come home for the weekend to be with my family.

We visited him today. He was not conscious, but it was still good to see what is really going on and just be with him. The machines and medications keeping him alive are incredible- I am so glad we have such advanced technology available. I felt so helpless, though- he was so distant, so covered in tubing and sensors and electrodes. I could barely hold his hand through everything.

It felt familiar: warm and solid.

Another thing I am so glad for is the amazing amount of love and support that we have all felt. The entire community has risen together in prayer, fasting, and well-wishes. I made a group on Facebook wishing him well and updating people about his condition; it now has 250 members and rising. I know that he is on the prayer roll of at least four LDS temples and two non-LDS denominations. I laughed until tears came to my eyes when I called the Provo temple prayer roll and the very confused lady told me that his name was already listed. People who don't even know him are praying and fasting. It is really amazing, and humbling.

People keep asking me if I am okay. I really am.
I gave up eating for a while, but with a spark of good news, my appetite is back. I love to laugh. I love to give and receive hugs. I feel deeper. I have not cried, I have not forgotten to look after others, I have not given up hope.

Strong is what you are when you have no other option. What else can I be now?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Few Favorite Pics

Don't have much time today, but I wanted to figure out the "posting pictures" thing. These are just a few of my favorites in iPhoto. Since I got my computer a year ago, I have taken/acquired 7,440 photographs and counting...

Friday, February 19, 2010

More Than I Can Chew

This week showcased several disappointments in my life. It was a pretty good one, but things like homework, review sessions, performances just slipped my mind. I made long to-do lists and couldn't complete those, either, which was discouraging. I realized that I have been asking too much of myself.
Last night (actually, it was at 2 am when I finally finished my homework), I sat down and had a heart-to-heart with myself to figure out where I want to be and what I need to do to get there. My revised plan is not as grand, not as perfect, but it is doable.
Instead of failing to find the time to practice the piano for at least 30 min/day, I am going to play just 5 songs every day. Instead of trying to catch up and getting overwhelmed in journal writing, I am just going to sit down and write a little bit each night. Instead of trying to plow through several chapters in El Libro de Mormon, I am going to focus on each verse. Instead of making a huge effort to go to the gym every day, I am going to stretch every night and get in a run when I can.
I have shuffled my priority list once again, and it fits now. First things first, in wisdom and order- everything else will fall into place a little bit at a time.
After all, I can only chew a little bit at a time.

Different paths

Today, I realized that I take a different route walking to campus than I do coming home. I think they're both about the same distance. Maybe subconsciously I like to add a little variety. Or maybe I like cutting through the buildings as I rush to class, and then sauntering through the trees on my way home. Hmm...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Alphabet

Does anyone else think it funny that you have to learn a whole new alphabet in order to understand, say, Chemistry? "p" is no longer just a letter, it is also an operator that means "take the negative log of". C, c, E, e, F, G, H, h, J, K, k, L, M, m, n, Q, R, S, T, V, W, and Z all suddenly have double identities, too- or more! (think K- it can be a temperature or any one of several different constants, depending on the subscript). And don't get me started on X and Y. LOL Funny how studying chemistry for hours at a time warps your perspective on life. I understand why, though- it really IS a different language ;)

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Turns out that when I immerse myself in poetry just before bedtime, I wake up to very vivid and memorable dreams. Perhaps accessing my subconscious while conscious means that it is wide awake and ready to mull over what I'm really feeling as I sleep.

I don't believe all the "dream symbols" and other horoscope-ish stuff. However, I can definitely detect patterns and recognize symbols in my own dreams- and even interpret them- because I know what they mean to me. They could be totally different from someone else, because the sum total of my life is very different from everyone else's.

Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time I had a true nightmare.

I think dreams provide insight into what you feel deep down- what you are afraid of, what you know, what you won't admit to yourself- that your conscious, rational self refuses to acknowledge while you are awake. When that logical part is sleeping, the raw feelings and memories, thoughts, etc. can untangle themselves. Dreams are those fleeting glimpses into how you really feel about things.

Interesting... I think I will have to sleep on this thought ;)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More poetic thoughts

Okay, so I thought I'd continue on with the "poetry" mood I am in and post just a few more things.

The following poem is unusual because, unlike most of my other works, it actually began its life as a song. It was also the first one I ever wrote. The words are scribbled in my notebook with scrawling solfege next to them.
There is a second verse, but I came up with it later and don't know where it is now. I don't even remember the title, but this song was the capstone of my "Music Psychology" project.

Little ones listen
to sounds in the womb,
music and voices,
and they feel at home.

Young minds are molded
by all that they hear
music brings feelings
and memories near.

The next two poems were written several months apart- there are pages and pages in between them. I put them together into a song by the same title, but didn't find the melody until over a year later. 8=)
The last 6 lines of the first part are actually finding their way into a different song at the moment. The second part inspired the second verse.
These are good examples of the rough beginnings of songs. Some lyrics stay the same from the beginning, others change or are replaced. Such is life ~

Letting Go
I thought I knew the answers,
held life at the reins,
didn't take those chances,
shied away from pain.
I was afraid that if I let go
I would lose myself.
I thought that safety lay in keeping my heart
high upon a shelf,

but now I'm letting go
I know you'll catch when I'm falling
with arms open wide to show

that through it all you will be there
I can count on you to care.

Now that I know,
I'm letting go.

Letting Go (part 2)
What of the little bird
who, for fear of falling,
never learns to fly?

This next one also inspired a song. I still wonder why we have to grow up. I choose not to ;)

Through Children's Eyes
How much more can children see
than "grown-up" eyes like you and me?
How much more can infants hear
that's long been hushed with each past year?
How much more can babies love
when still they feel light from above?
How much more can friends we be
if youth change to maturity?

This last one has quite a background. I got tired of being with people and noise one morning while vacationing at Lake Powell, so I woke up to watch the sunrise alone, and filled 10 pages of my notebook and half a memory card on my camera. This is the only poem that I captured that day.

Fiery diamond.
Latecomer to the world who,
with one mighty heave,
casts gold far across the land,
then reaches westward
to awaken the rocks,
greet the birds,
warm the leaves of dormant trees,
and, with warm hands,
mold a new day
from the stiff clay of sleep.

I don't know why I am not a morning person. I love being the first person awake. I guess it's more that I like staying up late, and don't like waking up. But once I am up, I love it. Just me and the vibrant beginnings. No two sunrises are ever alike. And this one was all mine. ~

While Thumbing Through the Past

More random poetry I dug up from the inner pages of my Quills (high school creative writing club) notebook. Let me know what you think :D

Yesterday's flowers rest by the window,
each day seeing more of the world beyond.
The boughs bend and lean as they age,
but twilight is not darkness-
just no longer bright.

To the Beat of the Clock
I ponder as it thunders out the window's smock
why the seconds slowly lumber or the shutters knock.
I can't return to slumber, for midnight ears can't block
the whispers and the wonder and the tick-tick-tock!

The Mask That Frees
Opening night
Lights up, there's no turning back now
Become another.

Fears- those are yours, not hers.
Lights, too bright-
make a wall between the watchers
and the life you live.
A curtain between what's real-
and what is.

This is yours.
Her life, her eyes, her laugh,
belong to you.
Freedom from impersonation
Free to be yourself
in her.

So let it all out.

Feel her thoughts, show on your face.
There's the cue- now listen!
to the heat, to the words, to the music.
Feel your way in the light.

Live the moment through her eyes.

Love it through your own.

Brushing By
People live
on the surface
afraid to come up from the depths
because deep wounds
from the soul.

Letting Go
The last leaf
clings to its familiar perch
while all else withdraws.
Then, with a final breath,
and flies.

Song of an Amnesiac

A few years ago, I did a project on "Music Psychology." For one part, I researched several phenomena associated with music's miraculous power to transcend disability and heal people. This poem is written from the perspective of an acute amnesiac- a person who has no short-term memory retention and very little long-term. For reasons unknown, such people can sit down to a piano and play through a long-before memorized piece, coming back to themselves for a moment, but as soon as the music stops, they forget again.

Song of an Amnesiac


trapped in a world with no meaning
through time

so many strangers
know me
but i don't

i can't remember, who are you
what are we doing


and who am i...?

lost and alone

Then music- ah, the breath of life!
My fingers remember!
My voice knows the words!

The music brings me back
to this moment-
this past-
this "Me" inside.

I sing and rise up,
Whole again.

but then
the melody ends

i fade
with the notes

into darkness


who am i...?

Friday, January 22, 2010

These Ties

Today, I am a Kite-
but flying.
The stronger the ties,
the higher I fly.
They don't hold me back.
They lift me up.
into the sky.

Today, I am a Kite-
but grounded.
I could be tossed,
wind-whipped and lost,
but these ties hold me steady.
I use the wind.
I am secure
in these ties.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walking into the Wind

The wind feels like it's trying to tear things apart outside. What a warm, odd January night. I guess it only seems odd to me because everything has been so still and cold for so long.

I love walking into the wind. It feels like any moment, it will lift me off the ground. Tonight's wind is especially delicious because it is enriched with old leaves, rain on the verge of snow, and that urgent taste of change.
The cold is different from this morning's- wetter, warmer, but still a broad superficial chill, like when you jump into a cold pool after soaking in a hot tub.
I like this kind of cold, because it is only skin deep. It doesn't render me helpless, but refreshes and awakens me. Makes me alive. I enjoy that feeling.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In Passing, and Names

Yesterday I was late to class because I got distracted and decided to try an experiment on the way. In between classes, there are always bazillions of people on the paths going every which way. Sometimes it is hard to walk because there are so many students jamming the paths. My experiment: I looked at everyone who passed me, right in the eye, and smiled just to see what would happen.

Veeeerrrrrrry interesting: out of dozens, probably hundreds of students, most everyone was either zoned out to an ipod or lost in his/her own little world. More than half were looking down or to the side.

Only eight people noticed that I was paying attention to them. Of those eight, four looked away quickly (pretending like they hadn't seen), two glanced briefly, then smiled shyly at the ground, one glanced briefly then smiled straight ahead (her expression was like, "Umm... okay?"), and one person actually lit up and said, "Hey! How's it going?" (She's sits across from me in Spanish class).

It was a telling experiment. I didn't expect that so many people would be completely oblivious. I guess we do have a lot to think about, but there is so much going on right outside our own heads!

I also didn't expect that it would be kind of hard to make eye contact with total strangers. I felt intrusive at times- you know, "it's rude to stare." When I went to New York, I noticed that this phenomenon was even more prevalent. The way people tolerate tiny bubbles of personal space in a crowded city is to distance themselves in un-physical ways. I guess that keeps things from getting uncomfortable, but it also keeps us from making connections.

I find that when I get too zoned-out in my own little world, all I can think about is myself- my life, my problems, my classes, etc. Some of the best days I've had so far at college started out badly, but then someone said "Hi," broke the bubble, pulled me out of myself, and I learned that my problems were really not all that bad in comparison to his/hers.

Even more powerful than eye contact, than striking up a conversation, is using a person's name. A name is like a password into a person's life. I have been working on getting better at using names, because I know how much it means to people.

Just now, I walked up to a girl I've never seen before and said, "Hi, Rebekah!" She said "hi" back, bewildered and a little uncertain (I'll admit that I cheated- her name was written on her jacket). It's interesting how names don't bear the same power when spoken by a stranger- or do they bear more? There's that element of "how do you know my name, my password?" It is rather exciting to have access to this kind of power ;)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Updated Resolution

Live well.
Love much.
Look ahead.
Laugh often.
Learn always.
Listen carefully.


I've been wondering a lot lately about the shoulds of life. As a college student, there are so many decisions to make, so many directions my life could take- and so many voices telling me what I should do.

According to my major, I should zero in on all the classes that will make me qualified and help me graduate in 3.2 years in order to become a productive contributing member of society. According to my minor, I should somehow squeeze 18 credits worth of classes into an already full schedule. According to typical BYU stereotypes, I should meet a nice RM this semester and we should get married by this time next semester. According to leading doctors, I should drink 8 oz of water, sleep at least 8 hours, exercise 1/2 hour daily and eat a balanced diet. I should also keep the apartment spotless, spend time serving others, cook all my own food, buy organically, keep a year's supply of food handy, read scriptures daily, stay current on my first aid certification, schedule 3 hours/credit hour/week for each class, recycle, do every assignment and everything else anyone asks me to do, keep the commandments, keep in touch with my family, take time to do the things I love, and somehow find out who I am in the midst of all this. (actually, it's not "finding out" so much as "creating"- not a single moment of discovery, but an ongoing process. Nice tangent. Now, back to wondering about shoulds)

The thing is that I've done the calculations; I've tried to do it all- and there just isn't enough time in a day. I have to pick and choose to do some things, and leave the others for now. That's why I haven't done laundry or cleaned off my desk in ages (although I should soon because I'm just about out of clean socks). Of course, there are some basic shoulds in my life that keep me safe, happy, and on the right track- keeping the commandments, keeping in touch with my family, taking care of myself, preparing for the future, and taking time to do the things I love- but beyond those, how do I decide what I should do?

When I have to choose between two good things, how do I know which to pick? It gets a little blurry because most of my shoulds are good choices; the decision just depends on what's important to me and from whose perspective they are coming from. For example, my Life Sciences Academic Advisor will freak out when I tell her I dropped Chem 107 to take a guitar class, but my employers will be happy because guitar is a marketable and fulfilling skill when it comes to Cisco entertainment. Sleep is important as a general rule, but staying up an extra 15 minutes or so to relax and read the scriptures is definitely worth it.

What it comes down to is this: I don't always have to always do what I "should"(I couldn't even if I wanted to!). I just need to figure out what is important to me, what shoulds will help me grow and be happy and achieve my goals in the long run, and then just do it.

Life is not "one-size-fits-all." It's custom-designed by each and every one of us. And in the long run, it's just good to know that as long as I choose from "good should"s, everything else will work out because God is ultimately the tailor of this custom-fit life of mine. :D

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Time Flies When All's Familiar

Why is it that time seems to move so slowly at the beginning of anything? This last week seemed like at least three because we started a new semester.
I heard once that life seems to go faster the older you get because when you experience something new, you engage all your senses, but the older you get, the fewer new things you come across. The first time you do/see/experience something, it is all fresh and exciting and deserves to be noticed, examined, explored. Once you've already seen it, you usually don't bother looking at it again, so your eyes can skim over it. I think of walking to class- the first time I crossed campus, it seemed to take forever. I paid attention to the landmarks, the foliage, the students I passed. Now, at the beginning of another busy semester, I often step out of the classroom and suddenly find myself at my apartment, and I usually don't remember much of the walk. Sad day- that whole walk, lost in blind familiarity.
I need to make it new again- keep my head up and eyes open. I usually do most of my thinking in between classes, but focusing some energy outward would be very rewarding. I'll see what I discover around campus tomorrow. Same old, same old- and new. This ought to slow time down- it's already going by way too fast as it.
(Another reason I'm taking a random ballet class- it's something new. It'll keep me young ;)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lefty for a Day

The other day, I found myself in class sitting between two left-handed people. I noticed that notebooks, scissors, can openers, books, etc. are really not made for left-handed people, and they bump elbows with the right-handers around them. It must be very awkward for them to try to fit in with the "world" things that are made for right-handers. Today, I decided to try an experiment: switching my dominant hand for the day.
The hardest thing was definitely writing Chem 106 notes, including logarithms, many different formulas, graphs, charts, and paragraphs. I think I'll post a picture of those notes; my writing got better, but not much throughout the day. Another very difficult thing was doing my hair & make-up: I am so grateful to be low-maintenance, because otherwise that could have been quite an ordeal. LOL
An interesting quirk I discovered is that although I do most things with my right hand, I peel oranges, open water bottles, and pour liquids into a pan using my left hand.
When I first started writing left-handed, my hand automatically started at the right side of the page. I decided to let it go and see what happened. I realized something very strange: it was much easier to close my eyes and write mirror-style, right to left and backwards. It's like writing with my right hand, only flip-flopped. I think that way was less confusing to my brain and muscles. However, when I opened my eyes and actually watched what I was writing, there was a confusing tug-of-war between my eyes/logic and my hands/feeling. The eyes won out- I had to focus more to write left-to-right, but I could read it better. It was familiar; recognizable. It made me think about the whole heart part vs. smart part dilemma- do you trust your feelings, or go with the logical way? Here, there were only two choices. I am somewhat sorry to say that I went with the logical way- and I feel like I conquered something, and yet lost. It was a queer feeling.
The reason writing was so difficult is because I haven't developed those small muscles for it. My left hand is as good as my right when it comes to typing and weaving, and better when it comes to playing a guitar or peeling an orange- but when it comes to writing, I just haven't given it the years of practice.
I wonder what would happen if I did. Would I devote some tasks to the left, some to the right? Is ambidexterity subject to routine like the majority of human behaviors? Once, I changed the way I fold my arms by concentrating on doing it the "wrong" way so many times that it became the "right" way. Hmmm...
I wondered about this in Spanish class, so naturally it led to wondering about what it's like to be bilingual. Does a bilingual person reserve one language for certain situations? Is it possible to learn two equally, and then use them equally? This is something I'll keep wondering about... and perhaps someday I'll experiment with this, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Today, I wondered why people look away when you look them in the eye. Is the connection too intense? Can you really see into someone's soul through his/her eyes? What are we all hiding from one another?

This Year's New Resolution

In the past, I have made many New Year's resolutions to write more in a journal. However, I've failed so many times that this year I didn't even bother to make a resolution about it. Instead, I am trying a new method of recording some of my thoughts and happenings. I hope you all enjoy wondering with me as I experience this great wander called "LIFE"! :D