Discovering Why

When I found out that I was going to be serving in Brooklyn for the last three months of my mission, I was beyond excited. I wanted to end the mission in the city, as I had spent the last nine months or so in upstate New York and Connecticut. By the time I got to our little apartment in South Brooklyn, I was shocked. I was expecting the loud, crowded, bustling subways of North Brooklyn, where many of the tourist attractions are located in the borough. With sparse public transportation and streets, what I got almost felt like the boonies of New York City.


The missionary work also proved to be more difficult than I was used to. At first it seemed as though there weren’t any hispanic people at all, just Chinese, Itallians, and Russians. It was frustrating to feel as though at times we couldn’t even find anyone who spoke English or Spanish, let alone find anyone who was interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The difficult circumstances were slowly chipping away at my morale.


We weren’t the only missionaries in Brooklyn who were struggling. I was serving as one of the missionary leaders my time there, so I had others to worry about as well. Our mission President asked us to figure out what we could do to help the missionaries improve the work they were doing. One of the ideas we implemented was called the Reason Why initiative. We invited all the missionaries in Brooklyn and Staten Island to ponder the reasons that they were missionaries. Why they decided to come out and volunteer 18-24 months of their lives, what were their reasons for staying out in the moment, and what they wanted their reasons to be. Every day for two weeks, a couple of missionaries shared one of their reasons with the other missionaries, and at the end we compiled a video of all the reasons why.


Over the coming weeks, we slowly saw more and more little miracles. The initiative was a part in helping the missionaries improve the way they were working, but I think the biggest impact I saw was the one that it had on me personally. 16 months into my 18 month mission, I was surprised when I was honest with myself what the reasons for me being on the mission still were at that point. Was I really out here sometimes because it was easier than going home? Was the only motivation and energy I had inertia from the past several months? I felt a desire to change and have a higher purpose. I wanted to be here because I was exactly where I was supposed to be, because I was on the Lord’s errand.


Once I had that in my mind, it was easier to get excited about missionary work, and a little easier to share with every opportunity I received. It didn’t matter as much that South Brooklyn didn’t meet my North Brooklyn expectations, because I really was called to serve a mission, no matter where that was. When I found out that I was going to New York City on my mission, I knew that was exactly where I was supposed to be. Why would being in South Brooklyn be any different from that? The people here need the Gospel just as much as anywhere else, even if it was a little bit harder to find the people. I was happy to be there, when it came down to it, and I wanted the other missionaries to feel that as well.


Soon enough though, my time in New York City as a missionary came to a close. Coming home from my mission in the thick of COVID-19 put a dent in many of my plans for going home and getting right back into things. I had crafted most of my goals to be social related- something I that hasn’t been at the top of my list for quite some time. Now that my top social goal is social distancing as much as possible, I kind of lost purpose in everything else.


If South Brooklyn taught me anything though, it would be if I was feeling down and unmotivated, I was going to have to figure out what my reason why is. This blog is one of my reasons right now, and I decided that I want the reasons for my blog to be my kids.Not only for the children that I hope to raise one day, but also for the student that I hope to teach one day. Thinking of you helps me put my own life more into perspective, and helps me to be happier on a day to day basis. We’ll save journaling and recording for another day, but I know that as we make our experiences meaningful and sacred by writing them down or remembering in some way, it will make our lives all the much more meaningful and sacred.
I hope you know that I already love you all so much, and I hope that these articles and letters will be a help to you. Every post is a piece of me and my time, a little sacrifice that brings me closer to you. I hope that I can remember that and keep it going for you.



~Ali
~Mom
~Miss Ali

New York, New Habits, New Me

Subway Station in Queens, NY
Subway Station in Queens, NY

“Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that everyday we are new?”

-Taylor Swift, Foreword 1989


When I first started drafting this post, it was titled “Well, I’ve Already Embarrassed Myself so I Might as Well Do the Thing Properly”. I get embarrassed easily. It doesn’t matter if it was something silly I said when I was 5 or if you mentioned this blog post to me later today, you could probably see me squirm if you looked close enough. Being embarrassed almost makes me squirm as much as being wrong. I despise being factually wrong and nothing brings the weight of failure like misgauging the reaction of someone I tried to please. I think the discomfort about the past stems from a combination of gained knowledge, experience, and skill. The present is more of a people pleaser thing.

We live in a time where we can spread our thoughts and ideas and feelings with just a few clicks. And they’re hard to get rid of. We simply can’t delete or erase the mistakes that we’ve decided to make public. We are now left with two main options. We can deny, ignore, and justify, or we accept responsibility, evaluate, and conclude. Only one of these options is a champion to true, positive change.

I decided that although grudging tolerance to my past self was all I wanted to accept in the beginning, it wasn’t the most uplifting way to start off my second debut into the blogosphere. My eighteen months in New York was truly a once in a lifetime experience for more reasons than one. As a missionary, I focused on the spiritual progress and wellbeing of others. I was truly happy and had countless experiences where I saw God’s hand in my life. I changed, and I want that change to last forever. With the everyday pressures of life, I sometimes struggle to know how to apply the things I learned on my mission into my new world.

A concept that takes a lot of effort for me is the growth mindset. I can remember when I was in Queens, my friends had me “talk back to negative thinking”. Basically, everytime I said something negative (which was often), I had to resay the thing in a growth mindset kind of way. For example, if I said “I can’t talk to people like a normal person” I would have to change it to more like, “Talking to people isn’t one of my strongest skills, but with practice, I can get better”. It was an exhausting practice, but it worked. I felt like it was something we were always talking about, and one of my leaders in particular was always encouraging us (including her husband) to make sure that we were approaching challenges in a healthy way. I admire her a lot, and the message of the growth mindset stuck. Soon enough, when I was asked to help out with other sister missionaries, I was spouting off the same advice I received, with a testimonial attached.

Talking back to negative thinking was just one of the important daily habits I started as a missionary. We are taught that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6, The Book of Mormon). Many people at least know how to be more successful in life, but struggle to actually do those small and simple things.One of the quotes that had great impact on me in my time in New York I learned early on, but didn’t quite know how to apply until much later:

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”

― Albert E. Gray

The key of success is right there in the final line of the quote. What is the purpose? Is your purpose bigger than your weakness, your failure? Is it bigger than your pride, your ego? I’ve come to find that if you want to have your purpose bigger than the menial tasks required to accomplish your goal, it has to be bigger than you. I believe that my greatest application to finding purpose is to take the time to see where I’m at, where I want to go, and how I’m going to get there. Regular time to reflect, evaluate, and readjust is essential to reach our full potential.

I started this blog as a recommendation from a high school teacher. I wanted to go into political science and be a writer. Plans changed, I didn’t have a clear vision of my goal, and the blog quickly puttered out. While I still think that being a journalist or a speech writer would be fantastic amounts of fun, that’s not where my main goals are at. Right now I want to write children’s books, and while that might change as well, I think I have enough data to suggest that I have a desire to write something sometime, so I thought it was the perfect time to start learning to be the best writer I can be.

Today I’m grateful for change. It’s our choice that decides if those changes are positive or negative, but we have all the tools that we need for our success. I’m grateful for the habits of peace and happiness, and the opportunities we are given each day. As we learn to harness change, we will be able to see a new way that truly, life is good.

~Ali

Top 100 Favorite Songs on my iPod (That Hasn’t had New Music on it Since 2015)

I have always prided myself on my diverse music taste (in which I basically listen to anything besides country). My mother loves music- I listened to a lot growing up. Along with that, I heard all of my older siblings music before I really cared to listen to my own. Yet I always find myself getting into these music ruts where I listen to the same twenty or so songs for a couple of months then I verge on the point of hating them forever, which is where I desperately look for new music. Other people have this problem too. I wanted to do something a little different with today’s post and that’s where the top 100 comes in.

However, it wouldn’t be as exciting if it wasn’t a little weird. Instead of just doing my top favorite 100 songs in general or in a certain genre, it’s going to be on my 4th generation iPod touch that I’m not exactly sure when I got, but it was before I was 13. With 890 songs ranging from video game sound tracks to Supertramp to Taylor Swift, it should be interesting to see what is on there. The newest album on it is “Beneath the Skin” by Of Monsters and Men, which was released on June 9, 2015 in the US.

I’m sitting here listening to all the songs on my dear iPod, writing down all of the songs I love in alphabetical order, then we’ll make sure that it comes out to 100 (and if it doesn’t we’ll change the number). Also, in order to increase variety, if there is a particular artist or album I really enjoy, I’m only going to chose one or a handful to put on the list. Whether you’re looking for some different music to listen to or just want to judge my taste in music, here’s the list 🙂 (The links are to official content on YouTube):

  1. The a Team- Ed Sheeran
  2. All Again For You- We The Kings
  3. All At Once- The Fray
  4. All Dead, All Dead- Queen
  5. All These Lives- Daughtry
  6. All Too Well- Taylor Swift
  7. Amsterdam- Imagine Dragons
  8. Animal- Neon Trees
  9. Anything Could Happen- Ellie Goulding
  10. Apologize- OneRebuplic
  11. Bach- Prelude in D Minor
  12. Bad Blood (Live Piano Version)- Bastille
  13. Bad Medicine- Bon Jovi
  14. Barbara Ann- The Beach Boys
  15. Barbra Streisand- Duck Sauce
  16. Beautiful- Carly Rae Jepsen
  17. Billie Jean- Michael Jackson
  18. Dance Floor- The Apples in Stereo
  19. Dance Inside- All American Rejects
  20. Dance, Dance- Fall Out Boy
  21. Daniel In The Den- Bastille
  22. Dear Maria, Count Me In- All Time Low
  23. Deer In the Headlights- Owl City
  24. Disco Strangler- The Eagles
  25. Don’t Speak- No Doubt
  26. Dragon Attack- Queen
  27. Drop the Girl- Hit the Lights
  28. Everything Has Changed- Taylor Swift
  29. Farewell Hyrule King- LoZ: Wind Waker
  30. Feels like Tonight- Daughtry
  31. Final Fantasy Theme (Press Conference Version)
  32. Fix You- Coldplay
  33. Friday is Forever- We The Kings
  34. Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! (A Man After Midnight)- ABBA
  35. Give A Little Bit- Supertramp
  36. Grace Kelly- MIKA
  37. Guitar String/ Wedding Ring- Carly Rae Jepsen
  38. Halcyon- Ellie Goulding
  39. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger- Daft Punk.
  40. Heart Attack- One Direction
  41. Heart of a Child- Hitoshi Sakimoto
  42. Here Comes the Sun- The Beatles
  43. Hey Mama- Matt Kearney
  44. Hollywood- Michael Bublé
  45. Human- The Killers
  46. Hurts Like Heaven- Coldplay
  47. I Never Woke Up In Handcuffs Before- Hans Zimmer
  48. I Of The Storm- Of Monsters and Men
  49. I’m Back [Album Version]-  John Siegler
  50. Into The Ocean [Album Version]- Blue October
  51. It’s Late- Queen
  52. It’s Time- Imagine Dragons
  53. King and Lionheart- Of Monsters and Men
  54. Life In The Fast Lane- The Eagles
  55. The Logical Song- Supertramp
  56. Long Live- Taylor Swift
  57. Love You Like a Love Song- Selena Gomez
  58. Magic (feat. Rivers Cuomo)- B.o.B.
  59. The Middle- Jimmy Eat World
  60. More Than I Am- Bleach It Blue
  61. Mountain Sound- Of Monsters and Men
  62. Naturally- Selena Gomez
  63. Nine In The Afternoon- Panic! At the Disco
  64. No Matter What [Album Version]- John Siegler
  65. Ocean Walt (Surfing)- Skotein
  66. Peaches- The Presidents of the United States of America
  67. Pictures of You- The Last Goodnight
  68. Pokémon Theme
  69. Pompeii (Live From Capitol Studios/2013)
  70. Princess Zelda’s Theme- LoZ: Wind Waker
  71. Pumped Up Kicks- Foster the People
  72. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)- Jim Croce
  73. Rock It (Prime Jive)- Queen
  74. The Rocky Road To Dublin (Live)- The Dubliners
  75. Safe and Sound- Capital Cities
  76. Shine Down- Ximena Sariñana
  77. Slide- The Goo Goo Dolls
  78. Some Might Say- Oasis
  79. Something Good Can Work- Two Door Cinema Club
  80. Something That I Want- Grace Potter
  81. Stop In The Name Of Love- The Supremes
  82. The Streets of Rabanastre- Hitoshi Sakimoto
  83. Summer Skies- Save The Nation
  84. Sweet Baby James- James Taylor
  85. Sympathy- The Goo Goo Dolls
  86. Take A Chance On Me- ABBA
  87. Take Me Away- Avril Lavigne
  88. A Thousand Miles [Album Version]- Vanessa Carlton
  89. Tickets- Maroon 5
  90. Victim of Love- The Eagles
  91. Viva la Vida- Coldplay
  92. Wait On You- Roadtrip Romance
  93. Wheel In The Sky- Journey
  94. Wouldn’t It Be Nice- The Beach Boys
  95. A Year Without Rain- Selena Gomez
  96. Yellow- Coldplay
  97. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim- Jim Croce
  98. You Found Me- The Fray
  99. You Give Love A Bad Name- Bon Jovi
  100. 1983- Neon Trees

Wow, exactly 100 the first time around, with song 890 being number 100 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Any songs you like? That you forgot existed? Have a good weekend! And maybe listen to some music today 😉

~Ali

Jesus Wept

Yesterday when I went to bed, I did not want to write a blog post today. I knew that I should, and I knew that I was probably going to, but that didn’t increase my desire. When I got up this morning though, I had new energy. I knew what I wanted to talk about. It was the words that my mother has said at least a hundred times:

“You just need to keep moving forward.”

I went over to my brother’s apartment at around eleven, only to stay there until after three. My prospects of actually getting this blog post finished for my goal was waning. I still wasn’t sure what I actually wanted to say.

Awhile after I had returned home, my pocket buzzed. It was Mom asking who had died. I had gotten a notification saying that Barbara Sinatra (the wife of Frank Sinatra) had died. I assumed that it was that. Mom said no and informed me that a boy in my graduating class had just passed away. It took me some time to find out who it was.  I was in a slight panic. I have never had anyone I was extremely close to pass away before. With a graduating class of less than five hundred, most everyone knows everyone. The panic dissipated when I found out. He was someone I had classes with, but had never really talked to. Yet it was quickly replaced with the sick misery that is all too familiar for my school. Last October we lost a teacher and a student within days of each other. If there is one thing I have found living in a small town, it is that if something like this doesn’t directly affect you, it does to your friends.

I have tried to keep religion mostly out of my blog, in order to make it as relatable as possible. It is impossible for me to express my thoughts even at mediocre manner without incorporating my personal religious beliefs.

I remember when I was about thirteen years old, one of my church youth group leaders telling us about how she had gotten through a difficult time. Her parents divorced. It was incredibly difficult for her, but she was married and had a young daughter. She continued to keep a schedule with her daughter, making sure her needs were met. She told us that her therapist attributed her not going into deep depression to this. That was a story that has always stuck with me. It has something to do with knowing you are part of something bigger than yourself.

When I heard of my classmate’s passing, I thought that it might not be the right time to talk about moving forward. When there are family and friends grieved, who are you to tell them to get over losing a precious soul. Then I thought of the famously short scripture found at John  11:35 :

“Jesus wept.”

I came to realize that in this scripture lies the key. This is the story where Christ raises Lazarus from the dead. There isn’t necessarily a reason why he should be sad. Christ knows that in a few short minutes, Lazarus will be up and about. Yet when Martha takes him to where Mary and other Jews are weeping, he weeps along side with them. Christ shows that even when He knows that we will rise again, He also knows that it is difficult now. It is okay to take the moment to be sorrowful. What is important is that we do not allow for the sorrow to take over us and stop us from progressing. After Jesus wept, he raised Lazarus. After the Pharisees heard and decided they wanted to kill Jesus, He went to Ephraim and “there continued with his disciples”.

We may not get our brother back, we may not get our friend right now. But the fact that there is life after death, the fact that the sun will raise to see another morning should give us the comfort to weep and there continue.

There will always be those who will be there to help. There will always be those who love you. Though there may not be the chance to go back, there is always the opportunity to move forward. My thoughts and prayers are with my classmate’s dear family and friends. To feel pain is to be alive.

~Ali

That One I Broke up with Harry Potter and it Emotionally Messed Me Up for a While

I was battling with an inner dilemma last night in my apartment. All of my roommates were out. I really just wanted to watch anime on the big television in the living room. But there lies the problem. I enjoy watching anime. The issue is that not many people just enjoy watching anime. Either it is someone’s air, food, water, and shelter, or it isn’t. And those are the people who think the first group is weird. My fear was that you can only be in one group or the other. If I was watching anime at all then, well, there was only one alternative. While increasing polarization of society is happening, that isn’t what we’ll be looking into today. In the first Harry Potter book, Harry and Dumbledore have a conversation by the Mirror of Erised. Dumbledore tells Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. It seems that many have fallen into the trap of dreams rather than the depths of reality.

One time, sitting in her car, one of my best friends described to me her struggles with friends over the past couple of years. She’d been more detached from our circle of friends because of various extracurricular activities and found a different group to be with. As her senior year progressed, she prepared for college and started focusing more on her personal goals after high school and what she was going to do to make her dreams a reality. Her friends, not as much. Their focus was much more on the books and movies and television that made them feel something. It was the Ministry of Magic instead of the government. Percy and Annabeth instead of real life relationships. My dear friend wanted to make her dreams a reality, not have her reality be dreams.

When I was younger, I read Harry Potter constantly. It was, in a sense, a part of my necessities, if not my drug. I was enchanted by the literary magic. The fact that someone could come up with such a world was beyond me. It captured my heart and mind. I fell in love with the characters and the style and the story. Yet I fell into the trap that it (the encompassing cloud of everything) was perfect. When I got older and had a greater presence on the internet, my world began to shatter. I had never really considered politics to be part of Harry Potter (or fiction in general). I was truly shocked. My idol, JK Rowling, wasn’t standing up for her work. She was just kind of going along with whatever in my eyes. That broke my heart. In that time, magic was dead, reanimated with the whims of the world. I had also subconsciously divorced myself from literature. I didn’t read for pleasure anymore. I was happy when I was forced to read for school, even though I didn’t realize why at the time. I still loved reading. I just hadn’t gotten over the split between me and “Harry’s Wondrous World”. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I truly started to come back to that abandoned love of mine.

I had the opportunity to take a Lord of the Rings class the third trimester of that year. It is one of the only of its kind in the nation. The way that the class was set up made it so that the focus was much less on the actual reading (which my A in the class without reading the entire series can attest to), and much more on the themes and messages of the series. One of the first assignments that we did in the class was to write an essay on our personal “ring” and who was in our “fellowship” in this particular journey of our lives. I didn’t turn in the paper on time. I thought about it for weeks and worked on it. By the time I was finished, I wrote twice that was required of me. And it meant something. The class continued to be taught in this fashion. We applied what we were learning to our lives. There were times where I wished it was a class called “Lord of the Rings and Christianity” where I could talk more explicitly about my personal beliefs. However, it was one of the most spiritually and emotionally uplifting classes I had ever experienced during my public education. It was in that class that I was reminded that fiction is meant to be an aide to our reality, not reality itself.

That is when my world changed.

That June for my birthday I ended up with four books: The Four Loves by CS Lewis, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Second Treatise of Government by John Locke. The Treatise was for reference for debate and I haven’t read it in full. I had also read Howl’s Moving Castle sometime ago (it was one of my sister’s favorite book). These were the books to the start of my recovery. CS Lewis is a theme of my senior year. His logic-with-faith approach to religion drew me in. The not-so-subtle allegory of The Chronicles of Narnia reinforced the idea that literature can and is an effective tool for life. I may have gotten a little obsessed, but it was with something that was very real. One of my friends also had an affinity for Lewis. The discussions we were able to have expanded my world and helped me to understand what I believed better. The humor in Howl’s Moving Castle still makes me laugh and know it’s okay to have a good time. As I get closer and closer to finishing The Lord of the Rings (it’s been a tough run), I continue to see that, even with my flaws, I am able to help accomplish incredible things.

In Camelot, King Arthur says, “We must not let our passions destroy our dreams”. Rather, we should make sure our passions help to achieve them.

~Ali

Suck it Up and Show Your Weakness

While at a job interview yesterday, I was asked a question that I had been expecting:

“Why is confidentiality important?”

The job I was interviewing for works on a system on voluntarily asking for help in order to improve method and structure. I suspected that confidentiality would be an integral part of the work. It wasn’t until I verbalized my answer in that interview that really  thought about what it meant:

“When someone asks for help, they become vulnerable. We need to respect that in order to truly do something.”

While I wasn’t incredibly impressed with the eloquence of my answer, I did believe that the core of what I was saying was true. I have found that it is in the weak and honest moments that we have the greatest opportunity to change for the better. Vulnerability is the path to strength.

I began to look up more reliable information on vulnerability in the same way I had done countless times in speech and debate. Yay for Google. One particular researcher caught my eye. With over 6,400,000 vies on YouTube Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability”  is one of the most popular TED Talks in the world. With over a decade of research, Brown discusses connection, shame, and vulnerability. One of her quotes about vulnerability that stands out to me comes from a Dan Schawbel interview titled “Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better”  :

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering “You’re not good enough” in our ear, it’s tough to show up.”

Showing up is hard for me. One of my greatest weaknesses is the amount weight I give to what others think of me. It’s hard to for me to put my writing up on social media. It’s hard for me to go to a dance party with only ten people at it. It’s hard to ask roommates and neighbors to do what I need them to do. I’m afraid that I won’t have friends and I won’t be loved. Trying to be the “perfect” person  for everyone means you aren’t the perfect person for anyone. Including yourself and God.

In asking a question, Schwabel mentions that, “People connect more with those who have weaknesses”. In this simple statement, I realized something simple. So simple that a little voice in my head said, “Well, no duh”. Weakness is important. Also that it is important to realize that weakness isn’t inherently bad, which I can’t remember ever explicitly thinking about. In Wendy Ulrich’s article “It Isn’t a Sin to be Weak”  , she describes it this way:

“We might define weakness as the limitation on our wisdom, power, and holiness that comes with being human. As mortals we are born helpless and dependent, with various physical flaws and predispositions.”

We must rid ourselves the idea that weakness is automatically evil and instead think of it as a limitation that can be overcome. A weakness of a baby is that it cannot walk. Yet babies are rarely ridiculed for this particular weakness. It is one that everyone has faced and many have helped others to face. The process takes time to fix and that’s okay. When we have this mindset, we are putting ourselves on a path of progression and growth. We can become stagnant and hateful with a negative perspective on weakness. Not only do we rob ourselves of personal improvement, we rob ourselves of connection. Perfectionism kills honest progress. As we attempt to hid our weakness, we also shove away our opportunity for real human belonging and connection. We seal the very well from which we wish to drink from.

Give a little of yourself. While life certainly isn’t easy, it can be simple. I have personally been trying to do this in small ways. Being genuine in conversation, being honest in wants and desires and needs. I have failed a lot. Yet each time I succeed, I feel a little better about myself.

Brown quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” when summing up her thoughts about vulnerability:

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly . . . who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

We make mistakes constantly. We mess up, let down, and misunderstand. However, thankfully, our mistakes never need to be our end  Experience never need be forsaken. Every time we say “I’m sorry”, every time we say “I’ll try again”, we make the most of vulnerability. It is our choices that make us who we are. How we roll after the punch. Our worst deeds can turn into our greatest resource for helping others. In that help, we can find the connection that we have so greatly desired to have.

In the past day, I have learned a little bit more about why confidentiality is important. It is important because it gives the chance for vulnerability in a small, private setting. Confidentiality leads to trust and human connection. It leads to progress. Confidentiality can be the first step to a happy, honest life.

Recognize weakness. Get help from others. Change. When we become better, life becomes better. Then we are one step closer to being able to say that life is so good.

~Ali

It Was Like a Hug and a Kiss to Someone Who Was Homesick

No school. No job. No friends. It has been nearly two years since my sister Jill left for college, leaving me the only kid at home. I had gotten used to being on “my own” in a sense, even though I still had my parents. I didn’t do a lot with my friends, so much of my socializing was playing cards with my parents and grandma. Which isn’t extremely typical. I decided to move early to Provo to acclimatize myself before starting school. I was afraid, but felt good. As June 29th continued to approach, I felt there was still so much I wanted to do, people I wanted to see, and things I wanted to say.  Yet time went on, and I was awake at unholy hours that Thursday morning. I drove for the first part of the journey. My thoughts were thankfully unable to wander.  When we arrived at my apartment complex, my brother came over from his to help me haul my things to my room.  I went to the door and knocked. Nothing. I knocked again. Holding my breath I opened the door and it was unlocked. I was dismayed. Was there seriously no one in the apartment? I unpacked a little and left a slightly passive aggressive note on the table before heading off to Salt Lake with my family. Taking the train to Salt Lake was an experience. There was lots and lots of waiting. Which meant lots and lots of thinking time. Which meant a woe is me mentality. We ended up only having lunch (which turned into dinner) in Salt Lake. By the time the Provo train station arrived, the last thing I wanted to do was go to my new apartment. Yet time went on, and I found myself knocking on my apartment door once more.  I wasn’t excited. This time the door opened.

“Hi, I’m the new roommate.”

As soon as she stepped aside, my grandma shoved me in and started talking to my roommate. That’s where it all becomes a blur. It seemed as though everyone was home, and everything was happening (though that was far from true). Before I knew it, I hugged and kissed my mother goodbye. My brother left for his apartment and my mother and grandma left to spend the night in a neighboring city. I was alone. With three other people. Becky was really the one who saved me that first night. She just talked. About her family, about her college freshman dating life. I was unpacking and listening. I’m not sure that I experienced anything like it before, but it was what I needed. I was able to spend my first night in Provo, if not elated, comforted.

The next morning I woke up to my roommates’ 6:15 am alarm. The other two girls in my room worked together, ten hour shifts from 7 am to 6 pm. I was having a hard time sleeping, so I figured I might as well get up.  I didn’t get much done that weekend. I didn’t really feel like it, and I didn’t feel the need to do more than unpack. So I didn’t. Yet time went on. The problem with letting yourself do nothing is that other forces tend to get in the way of the nothingness. The more time went on, the more lonely and out of place I felt. Something need to change, but the problem was nothing was staying the same. I was drowning in change.

The hope came on Sunday. My roommates and I went to church about twenty minutes before one. The service started at one o’clock, so we made it in plenty on time. Over the past couple of days, I had tried hard to attend all the different activities that were going on. As other students entered, I recognized quite a few of them. When one certain person walked into the room, I took a quick little breath. It was my friend’s older brother. He is a couple of years older than me and I don’t believe that we have actually met. He was incredibly popular during high school to the extent that we we’re still talking about him years after he had graduated. It was small. It was simple. Even still, it was something incredibly, undeniably familiar. And I held on. He ended up speaking later in the meeting. If there is one thing that boy can do, it is speak. Every word was a hug and a kiss from every person I loved and every person I missed. It was greetings from home.

I could have listened forever. Yet time went on, and I was home from church. Before I went to church that day, I was uninspired and sluggish. After, I was happy and energetic. I loved Provo. I started calling my apartment “home” and I loved the people I was around. Things are looking up.

I learned (or at least remembered) much that Sunday. The show must go on, because time will go on regardless of whether or not anything is happening. Performing is much more fun and satisfying. We can use what is familiar to inspire positive change. For me, all I needed to move forward was to realize that I haven’t lost myself forever. That came in the form of a familiar face and voice.

Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”. The past gives you many supplies and tools on the great journey of life. Be sure to use those things to propel yourself to a better future. You are capable of the incredible and improbable. It is easy to forget. When you are feeling lost or suffocating in change, look for hug and a kiss from home. Be yourself, because you never know when you will be helping someone who is a little homesick.

~Ali