Sunday, April 24, 2011

A New York Easter!

Hey all! I'm blogging from our hotel St. James on 46th and Broadway here in New York. We've walked around all day long since yesterday morning, so needless to say, we're very tired.

I've been worrying for the longest time about how we're going to fill our seats for the shows we're performing. We've got one show this Tuesday at 9:30 pm at the People's Improv Theater, and another show at Gotham Comedy Club this Thursday at 6 pm. Both clubs have contacted me asking how many people we expect to come, because, so far, not many people have gotten any tickets for our shows.

This has been stressful. I've been reduced to tears thinking about the people breathing down my neck for these two shows, but today was Easter. And by the end of today, I feel completely different.

We had a fireside today by George Nelson at the chapel in downtown Manhattan. It's in the same building as the temple and was completely awesome to attend in the middle of New York City.

One of our advisors in Divine Comedy from BYU's theater department. He talked about the parable of the unjust steward that Christ talked about in Luke 16. In it, the steward tricks his master to fix his situation when he lost his job. The scriptures then say:

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

Now, why would the Lord commend the unjust steward? We talked about how those who are focused on this world and this life are more prepared and wise about their life plans than the plans we make for our eternal future. The Lord then says: And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.

Now, what does this mean? It's the whole "Be in the world but not of it" idea. We can learn so much from those around us. There is much beauty in the world and we can find it and expand upon it, illuminating it with the light we have from the gospel.

This thing that we're doing, this comedy group, is a way we can spread light and truth to all the world.

This is when everything changed for me. I've been so worried about pleasing these big guys who are housing our shows, when really I need to focus on those who can gain light and truth from seeing our clean, uplifting comedy. If I keep focusing on that instead of our comedy club owners, I know that the Lord will provide. He will help His work go forth and as long as we're aiding in this work, we will be successful. Even if there's only one person in the audience, if it's someone who needs to see us, that's all I care about.

And so, on the way home, I looked at everything with a fresh pair of eyes. Instead of being nervous and awkward when confronted with such a foreign place, I saw all my brothers and sisters who I  can serve and help in my own way. It was wonderful to see the world a little bit the way the Savior sees the world.

I love New York. (:

Friday, April 22, 2011

B.A. with a BA

We've come to a milestone in my adult life: Graduation!

That's right, kiddies. I got my Bachelor of Arts at Brigham Young University. Got. In the past tense. I did it. (:

Commencement was a wonderful procession of celebration and wisdom and lots of clapping. It was surreal, though. While I was listening to Elder Richard G. Scott speak on all we've gathered from this university in the last four years that will help us go forth and serve, I thought to myself, "Has anything changed about me in the last four years? What the heck have I learned?"

Of course, we always learn a lot when we keep asking ourselves that question, but I figured I'd answer that for you tonight by taking a little trip...

Freshman year:

So excited to start my higher learning! Little did I know that crap computer would break four months later and never turn on again, thus serving as my catalyst for meeting my wonderful Macbook, Theo.

I dated one boy freshman year. I thought we'd get married. We broke up after two weeks, before we even had a first kiss. I learned then that just because he's Mormon, doesn't mean you marry him.

Also, I learned that I can't back down to dares.

And that I had a pretty awesome group of friends.

Thank you guys for making my first year away from home absolutely wonderful.

Then I lived with Mal for the summer. Fantastic idea, in my opinion. Plus, I chopped all my hair off!

Another good decision. Lots of really good decisions before starting off sophomore year! Once I got into my sophomore year, however, I found myself still unlucky... in love, that is. Very unlucky, actually. And I left this year never wanting to come back. I learned something very good though: don't let anyone make you feel used. You can do that by taking a step back and analyzing the actions someone takes toward you. If they make you feel bad, you should leave. But don't kick yourself too hard once you've finally left.

Also, I wrote a novel this year. No joke. A real, 230-pager. Coming from someone who thought she'd write field reports on female genital mutilation in Somalia, this came as quite a surprise. But I loved it. I fell in love with writing at this point. I'd always been drawn to creative writing classes, but I'd never experienced anything so rewarding. I wrote a character that I grew to love. She was gritty and mean and sensitive and observant and really a mess of a person. But she led my story, Je Suis Bien, Procassini. And I found that emotional truth can come through fiction. I knew how to get at it. I knew how to translate real life into a story and make it something that stuck with people. Granted, the story itself is my beginning work, and I'm still learning how to refine this, but I mark my sophomore year as the pivotal moment when I realized what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to write people and write it in such a way that made real life people think about each other. I thought it was fantastic. And continue to think so.

Finally, this was the year I joined Divine Comedy. Now, I don't care how much stress devoting 7/8 of my life to this group has caused me. I love them. I love them I love them I love them. I gained a family here at BYU when I joined Divine Comedy. And I can't thank God enough for letting me have them.

Junior year! Ho-okay. Started out rough for me. Probably because I thought I might get married. And not like my freshman year of 2 weeks. This was real life love, buddy. This was really it.

And then it wasn't.

This year, while certainly my hardest, taught me very much. This is when I grew the most and learned how I personally can come closer to the Savior.

First: I realized I needed to break the curse of my upbringing. All the marriages of my family were proposed to in under 3 months of knowing the person. That's the exception. Not the rule. I realized that most people don't get that overwhelming revelation. They get to know each other. And boy, is patience a beast to tackle when you realize you don't have it.

Second: Sometimes we see something and we think it's the best thing for us. The best in the entire world. And then we find out we're wrong. That's when we need to trust God, who simply has something better in mind.

Third: Don't push away your friends when you feel crappy. They're your friends. They only want what's best for you. If this particular friend ever reads this blog, I know I've apologized already for my whole Junior year, but here it is again: I'm sorry I was such a butthead. I'll try forever to be as good a friend to you as you were/are to me.

Fourth: Get to know your parents. I found out much more about my mom after a spontaneous road trip with her over the summer. Literally, I stopped the egg beater that was beating my orange zest cookie dough and we left for Utah. And on this roadtrip, I found out where my mom came from, what she found joy in, and how much work she really did put into our home growing up to make it look so easy. I learned a lot about life in that 13-hour car ride listening to nothing but Beach Boys, Abba, and the Carpenters. I wish I'd take the time to learn it sooner.


Senior year!

It's been a great year. I've learned a lot about my potential. I can tackle 18 credits while working, being president of Divine Comedy, performing in a Mask Club play, and remaining absolutely calm about all of it.

I've learned that I have a habit of basing my self-esteem on how many people show interest in me (as a friend, or otherwise) and that I can combat this by looking at all I know about myself personally, and going from there. I've learned that I often let how uncomfortable I feel in social situations get in the way of how I treat people and that I need to learn to break my comfort zone and help those around me. I've learned that on paper, I look pretty dang good. I've learned that in real life, I'm better than what I look like on paper. I've learned that being liked is just as sensitive as liking someone, but that both are good experiences. I've learned that graham crackers can substitute for bread in peanut butter sandwiches. I've learned that push pins can go in cinder block if you're strategic and pretty strong. I've learned that we affect people more often and more deeply than we might realize. I've learned that we often repeat and re-learn patterns of struggles in our lives for specific reasons and that instead of complaining about them, we should learn why God's repeating trials for us. I've learned that the Atonement is an enabler as well as a healer and that when we use the Atonement, we can ask God to grant us the power to change our circumstances instead of asking Him to just change our circumstances for us. I've learned never to schedule three DC shows in one night. I've learned that I can write people and use that for good. I've learned that I'm a B.A. when it comes to what I love and I'll have an MFA in two years to prove it.

Entered to learn. Going forth to serve (while still learning much more along the way).

Love to all! I hope that April finds you well.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Conference: I love it.

I have been spiritually fed today. I feel like I should get onto my little corner of the web and express my deep appreciation and love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. He and my Heavenly Father have truly touched my heart as I've listened to sessions of my church's General Conference.

I went into this conference weekend with several questions in mind. Being in a very uncertain time in my life where my future's about as constant as my bank account, I have a lot of these questions. In listening to the talks our leaders have prepared for us, however, my questions were not directly answered. I was surprised, however, to find a much more valuable insight as I listened to the divine counsel we received.

As I took notes during Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk on righteous desires, I saw a distinct scene in my mind of what I could potentially become in my life. It was a deeply moving portrait of the woman I so desperately wish to be. She is outlined in my patriarchal blessing but has remained a far away ideal that I might reach at the end of my life. Therefore, this scene that played in my mind touched my heart and my spirit. I learned while listening to these talks who my Heavenly Father has intended for me to be, and furthermore, I learned how I can become that woman. It is through the simple commandments we elect to follow every day. It is through the strengthening actions of charity, selflessness, and faith that these speakers outlined this weekend. I can become the woman my Heavenly Father has planned for me to be in following His counsel and simply elevating my standards for myself.

My questions regarding my immediate (and long-term) future have remained unanswered (directly, at least), but in their place, I now have less concern about these challenges and more about how I can better myself. I feel like my priorities have shifted and that I need to stop worrying about what I'm doing rather than who I'm being.

I know that the men and women who spoke at this General Conference spoke on what the Lord would want each of us to know. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "If we teach by the Spirit, and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance" and offer specific instruction just for you. I have a testimony of this church. I know it is true because I have felt the overwhelming spirit of my Savior in my life when I live its teachings. I have been blessed with guidance, love, and encouragement when I strive to do what is right, and I have been blessed with forgiveness when I have redirected my life back on the course of righteous living.

I am simply offering my testimony for any who has curiously stepped into my blog. It is the single greatest gift I possess and continues to bless me every day. I know Christ lives and that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us and wishes for us to return to Him so that we can one day be like Him. And I say these things humbly in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.