Monday, August 4, 2014

Online Quizzes: Yes, I Love Them

Upon letting everyone on Facebook know that I was designated Jean Grey from X-men based on an online quiz, I had a friend post "I don't, and recommend no one else ever take these "quizzes". They are all really attempts by "big data" to get you to divulge more personal information than you otherwise would. They make billions, and all you get for it is "knowing" which X-Woman "you are most like" (in " because its not like they put a lot of thought into it....that would cost more money and reduce their profits). Quit giving them this stuff for free..."

I appreciate his sentiment, but you know, I really like the quizzes....when they are done well. 

During my first job at The Summit Group Communications, I was asked to take a Predictive Index test, very similar to the Myers Briggs Type Test. It was amazing to read the results as they very clearly described some of my traits, how I reacted in certain situations, etc. I have always enjoyed taking them just to see their accuracy.

Today I took one, and I really liked the result. The quiz was, what classic novel would you be. This was my result."Empathetic and Family Oriented, E. B. White's CHARLOTTE'S WEB does a lovely job of describing your homey life. Kind and understanding, your are the epitome of empathy, and have a true gift for confiding in others. You tend to be an optimist, or try to be anyway, but have had your fair share of grievances. You are a rare individual in your ability to recognize that no one would be able to appreciate the good times, without having first experienced the bad."

I wasn't sure what direction I want to take this post. I even re-wrote it several times. I had statements like:
  • Quizzes do not define me
  • Even having taken Myers Briggs back in the day, the results would be different now
  • I like knowing what Disney character I would be
  • I find joy in knowing who I am, even if it means that I took a predictive test in order to discover something about me that I didn't know
  • I like learning about myself, particularly about how my strengths and weaknesses work so that I can improve my weaknesses
In the end, I decided not to elaborate on any of those points mentioned above, and just wanted to say...thank you quizzes. Even though you are gathering data from me, I liked this novel quiz....a lot. Even if you are getting billions from your research - good for you for being smart enough to come up with a brilliant way to make money. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Questions About Happiness

I wanted to ask you some questions about happiness, as related to an earlier post:

  1. How do you feel/find joy in your journey?
  2. Is finding joy in the journey something you have to work at - one that you have to concentrate on everyday? If so, what techniques do you employ?
  3. What do you do to empower your faith?
  4. Do you feel that searching for happiness is counterproductive? Why or why not?

I would love to hear from you.

Book Review: I Need More Time to Read!

It got to the point that I would rather read a book than have a conversation with my sweetheart. My dishes piled in the sink (which is actually my worst pet peeve), important documents and such laid on the kitchen table for days with no regard (bills, what are those?), and my back hurt from all the positions I tried in order to get comfortable so I could read for hours on end. Yes, I love reading. And no, I haven't discovered how I can get the most out of reading unless I lock myself in my room and read for hours on end. 

Once I discover the secret, I will tell you. Unless you have already figure it out. Have you?

Here is my book review for the past two months:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - 5*
I love this book. It opened my mind to what someone who has cancer might feel. I was pleased with the character development, humor, and realness of the story. I pondered the author's note and have to admit, it put a bad taste in my mouth. I thought, just let me believe what I want to believe. I questioned whether or not the statement was intended to stop fan mail inquiring about the realness of the, I guess I can understand that. It was also apparent that this notion, or bias, made it into the story. I feel that while real and valid, it came across as pompous.

Otherwise, I enjoyed his character's pros about life and what it means to feel fulfilled, what each person thinks their value is to society, and how a teenager might react to deep rooted beliefs when 'doomed' from the beginning. I have no doubt I would have challenged my belief system knowing I was born to die a potentially early death.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt - 3.5*
It was fun to be a teenager again when I read this book. I loved the premise of a teenager doing away with technology in response to her boyfriend who cheated on her with an online girl, and as a way to heal. The story line was clever and witty. I really got into the book, seeing that one of my dreams is to be a consignment/antique dealer. I would love to own a store! In that way, I loved it. The characters were well developed. Sometimes I was lost from chapter to chapter, and I had to make some assumptions in order to make the story feel more smooth. However, I have found this phenomenon (jumping) in Young Adult fiction, so it may be a common denominator in this genre. Perhaps due to our ADHD society??

The Titan's Curse (book 3 of the Percy Jackson series) by Rick Riordan - 3.5*
I love the Percy Jackson series. I have started looking up the different Gods and Goddesses to understand their powers and dominion. It would be nice if the book had an index of these different characters and their roles. As mentioned before, I have a hard time with how adults present a young person's behavior and reactions. Sometimes I felt that Percy was portrayed more like a 6 year old rather than a 14-16 year old. But, I only know how I was at that age, not how boys are - so I can't say. I loved the story line, but felt that the development of the story was shortened because of the timeline of events (days). 

There was too much too fast. I felt this way about The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis. I think if the development and speed were more tied together, I would have liked it more. The book was also a little predictable - key words and phrases to introduce the plot turns and twists were a little too noticeable, but perhaps this was done for the real demographic of the book series.

Out to Canaan (book 4 in the Mitford series) by Jan Karon - 5*
I thoroughly enjoy this series. I like how in the past several books, I have escaped into this wonderful little town, and have become my own character in the book. The characters have come to life for me. I find myself wishing the best for them, rooting them on during turbulent moments, wishing and praying that there were more people like Tim Kavanaugh, who only sees the good in people (even in his nemesis..on occasion).

The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland - 5*
Fantastic series. In the end, I was sad for our dear Josephine. The period dramatizations led me to explore this era even more - I ended up learning more about Marie Antoinette. While it may have been fiction, I appreciated the referenced dates and timeline. The character of Josephine throughout the entire series remained fluid and within controlled dimensions - in fact, all Gulland's characters were well characterized and never stepped out of their individual spheres.

Recently my friend posed the question of what books she should read. I copied down the responses to her query and have included them in this blog post. In addition, the BBC often has great recommendations on books, although I personally exercise a screening test based on the book description. Here is that list. My apologies if some things are spelled wrong:

1. Seabiscuit - Hildebrandt
2. Unbroken – Hildebrandt
3. Monkey Wrench Gang – Edward Abbey
4. Wrenched: The Legacy of the Monkey Wrench Gang
5. The Other Typist: Suzanne Rindell
6. Orphan Master’s Son: Adam Johnson
7. The Alladin factor: Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen
8. Thorn birds: Colleen McCullough 
9. Gone with the Wind: Margaret Mitchell
10. Art of Racing in the Rain: Garth Stein 
11. Glass Castle: A Memoir 
12. These is my Words: Nancy Turner 
13. The shoe makers wife: Adriana Trigiani
14. The rent collector: Camron Wright
15. The historian: Elizabeth Kostova
16. The crocodile on the sandbank: Elizabeth Peters
17. Bartimaues series: Jonathan Stroud
18. Tasha Alexander's series
a. The Counterfeit Heiress
b. Behind the Shattered Glass
c. Death in the Floating City
d. And only to Deceive
19. The Name of the Wind: Patrick Rothfuss
20. Mistborn: Brandon Sanderson
21. Wheel of Time series: Robert Jordan
22. Blackmoore: Julianne Donaldson
23. Mortal instruments series: Cassandra Clare
a. City of Heavenly Fire
b. City of Bones
c. City of Lost Souls
24. Fabric of the World: Lee Hardy
25. Memoirs of an imagery friend: Matthew Dicks

27. Storyteller: Jodi Picouit

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bound Decisions Lead to Happiness, Right?

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. 

Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquility of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.” - Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

I listened to this interesting TED talk from Dan Gilbert, the author of Stumbling on Happiness, this book I read a while back. When I read the book, I wasn't on a quest to find happiness (might I remind my readers, searching for happiness is almost counterproductive). At the time, reading this book was an assignment. As such, I skimmed through the pages, and didn't have any major takeaways, because I wasn't engaged. Then I 'stumbled' (pun intended) on this TED talk.

The quote above is heavy, at best. I still have a hard time understanding everything. However, I like how Dan Gilbert explains in his theory of happiness that YES, there are some ideas that are better than others when it comes to the "happiness" outcome. In addition, because there are some decisions that are better than others, I should have preferences on how to make decisions that in turn influence happier outcomes. 

Maybe you have heard the adage that despite our circumstances we can be happy. What I understood from the talk is that my personal commitment to decisions makes me a direct "influencer" of my personal happiness and outcome. Gilbert points out that decisions that are bound bring about happier outcomes by nature. 

For example, my personal ambition or anything else I pursue that lacks boundaries could mean that I will do whatever want/need in order to get to the next level. In other words, if I have personal drive and ambition without personal rules, I am more likely to hurt others and even myself. Without a personal commitment to common sense or moral judgement, I could still get what I want, but my happiness factor would be lower than if I had certain personal rules in place.

What do you think? Do you think that you are prone to be more happy when you have personal rules in place?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being On Time: Important to Happiness

I was reading one of my favorite blogs The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin who wrote a post about how to change the habit of chronically being late. I agreed with the steps she gave readers to help them change the habit.

I ended up posting a comment about how I felt about the importance and value of time, specifically if I am going to meet up with someone.

Here is what I shared:

"I am chronically way ahead of schedule. I grew up in a household that always arrived to things at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule. There were always some advantages to our 'promptness'. For example, we always got the pick of the good seats at movie theaters, we always avoided the rush at the restaurants, we always made our flights. 

The disadvantage is how others view their promptness. When I was first living on my own, and would show up to everything early, I would end up waiting and then (because I live in an area where people are chronically late) would end up waiting even double the time because they would be late. This was very frustrating to me, and I ended up creating a story in my mind that someone did not value my time enough to show up when they said they would. I have since struggled with the concept of the value of someone's time. 

The way I dealt with this at first was the three strike rule - if someone didn't show up on time, or around the time of our appointment, and they did it three times, I wouldn't schedule anymore appointments with that person. I ended up losing a lot of valuable relationships because of this rule. I have learned that there are people who do not value the importance of 'being on time' as a priority the way I do. Being on time for me means, spending more time with someone I care about. But maybe being on time for them means doing everything in their power to get there, even if it means being 10 minutes late, and still having an enjoyable time. 

I have since remedied my three strike out rule and have come to learn that A. I still like being on time - it makes me happy to know the lay of the land, but have had to learn to just be, instead of getting frustrated, B. Adjusting my expectation that just because someone else is late, doesn't mean that meaningful things can't happen, or that they care less for/about me, and C. Understanding that there will be things that get in the way of someone not being able to be on time...and being considerate of how they prepare to make appointments."

Like I said in the post, I have been fighting this almost my entire adult life. I recall a specific period of time where the last thoughts mentioned above dawned on me. My friend asked me to meet at her house at 10:00 p.m. so we could go out on the town. I arrived 5 minutes early, only to wait an additional 45 minutes for her to get ready. Before I left my home, I had a million things I needed to get done. But, I put them on hold because I needed to make my appointment. That was more important to me than running some last minute errands. You can imagine my consternation when I arrived only to realize I could have finished my errands instead of being prompt. Needless to say, I tried to put the anger behind me and have a good time, but found I had a chip on my shoulder from that evening's events.

When my friend asked me to do something else, I remember being clear about the time table, "Your time, or my time." I said it as a joke at first, but the conversation took a more serious turn as she responded defensively. She knew she had issues being on time, and others around me know that about her. Being a new friend of her, I had to learn it the hard way. At the end of this experience, we didn't speak with one another for a while. I realized I valued her too much as a friend to lose her, so I had to change my ways, and accept that I shouldn't be so pointed when trying to address time management issues. I eased up and realized that she would be late to every event we planned, and ended up taking a book so I would have something to do while I waited.

In addition to what I said in the post on Gretchen's page, I remember having a conversation with a friend who caught me in my moment of 'waiting and getting angry' because my friend was late, asked me why I was so frustrated. After explaining my situation and my thoughts around being prompt, he told me that I should just start showing up around the time that my chronically late friend would so I wouldn't be so frustrated. He said semi-jokingly that I was the one at fault because I could have scheduled in all this other time to do something else instead of wasting my time waiting, and maybe I should consider changing my behavior.

You know, I find great comfort knowing that other bloggers/comments/posts said something similar to mine. I appreciated all their comments, even after I posted something that was quite similar to what others were also thinking...oops.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Things on My Mind this Week

  1. Double-roll toilet paper seems to go a lot quicker than regular-roll toilet paper
  2. I have a love/hate relationship with having my heat on at night and my a/c on during the day
  3. My coughs sound like sneezes - when I am cold, I cough. I was cold today and coughed a little. My coworker sent me a quick IM saying "bless you"
  4. I am tired of being responsible - part of the lay off required that I receive pages and pages of paperwork. Part of my new employment also required pages and pages of paperwork. I am tired of reading and reading and reading and sometimes trying to read between the lines. Here are some of the things that I have been responsible to read and understand for the past two weeks.
    • Filing taxes jointly for the first time - requires more and more time since my sweetheart was a contractor
    • COBRA and associated fees - Holy expensive!
    • 401k transactions - on the phone with representatives to help me with future financial planning now that I don't have a retirement plan anymore, talking with Dave Ramsey's people
    • Release documentation - it was still sad to send those in, even though I got a great is still a void that I am hoping to fill with this new opportunity
    • Last day of medical insurance until my new one starts
    • New insurance for my new job
    • New medication that I need to know about, how much is covered, etc.
    • Obamacare, finding out if I can be covered for 1 month with any insurance, (they only provide for a year, which is great for someone needing yearly coverage)
    • Dental - what's covered what's not - I still have wisdom teeth. YIKES!
    • Learning about new tools for my job, documentation, documentation, documentation!
    • Helping sweetheart learn about communicable diseases - studied e-coli today. Bacteria. Fecal-oral. Nasty symptoms. Only last 5-10 weeks. Only thing a patient can do is wait it out, feel terrible in the process, drink fluids, and eat a healthy diet (BRATY) and stuff good on digestive system.
    • Trying to find the best credit cards for my new travel schedule with work - I will get to travel, yay!!
    • Reading the ins and outs of policies/procedures associated with my new job, and helping develop some too
    • Keeping up with bills and changes to plans - I want to switch internet providers, but lack the strength to research one. I also want to combine phone plans with my sweetheart, but it looks like it might be more expensive, and I am too exhausted to really find out. Every At&T person has something different to say, and something different to offer. So, I'm done looking. 400 hours of phone to land is just fine, whatever.
    • Understanding new procedures at our apartment - no peeing dogs in non peeing areas
    That is a lot of documentation. That is a lot of responsibility. I think I want to lay in bed, cover my head, and watch movies under my covers for the rest of my life! and we don't even have kids yet...being an adult bites.
  5. My favorite post on Facebook this week was, "Free horse manure. You haul and load. Just let me know when you want to come by so I can move my horses." I love living in Rexburg!
  6. Finding out that Rexburg kids get a week or so break from school during the potato harvest
  7. Additionally finding out that all our potatoes in the store are not from Idaho - they are all shipped....bummer. But also finding out that during potato harvest, I can go get all the leftovers in the field. HOLLER! Oh, and did you know that if you go to Five Guys, they will have a sign that says where their potatoes/fries are from? Look for Rexburg - we are famous!
  8. Learning about how to take care of in house basil and rosemary - they require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Still not sure by us putting them by the window is helping. Our basil seems droopy. He might need to be pinched.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Being Tossed by the Wind

Some know that I have been hit by an unknown, unplanned storm. Despite the storm, my days have been filled with hope, unlike my reaction to the other storms that have entered my life. I have been blessed with calm, with minor outbursts of anxiety. To still the anxiety, I pray. To calm my fears, I seek validation and inspiration from my sweetheart's unrelenting faith. 

Maintaining peace and calm during the storm has been tough. And every once in a while I find myself in a fetal position, wrapped in covers, not wanting to come out of bed. But I know I must. I know I must gather my strength and hit life head-on. I know I need to consider this time of unemployment as an adventure, a blessing in disguise, an opportunity.

I know I am qualified. I know we will be taken care of. I know that the Lord is aware of our circumstances. I know that everything will be OK. I know that we will be able to put my sweetheart through school, so that he doesn't need to work and so he can concentrate on what he needs in order to be successful. I know we will have enough in our savings to get us through this time, and to prepare us for future financial endeavors. I know it will all be possible through the Lord, Jesus Christ. And that is the energy I am creating - my manifesto. I am sticking by it.

And so, in my humble state, I offer a song that has touched the fiber of my being. It speaks to me. It calms me.

Jesus, Savor Pilot Me Lyrics

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee; 

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

While th’Apostles’ fragile bark
Struggled with the billows dark,
On the stormy Galilee,
Thou didst walk upon the sea;
And when they beheld Thy form,
Safe they glided through the storm.

Though the sea be smooth and bright,
Sparkling with the stars of night,
And my ship’s path be ablaze
With the light of halcyon days,
Still I know my need of Thee; 

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When the darkling heavens frown,
And the wrathful winds come down,
And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
Lash themselves against the sky,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,

Over life’s tempestuous sea.
As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey Thy will,
When Thou sayest to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”