Emotions, Random Moments, Rantings, Self improvement, Spiritual

Character

“Difficulties show men what they are. In case of any difficulty remember that God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be a conqueror, and this cannot be without toil.”

~ Epictetus (Greek philosopher)

I’ve always believed that when God puts an obstacle in front of us, be it a temptation, a difficult decision, or a trial, he does it because he knows we are capable of overcoming and being victorious. As the loving father he is, he would never put us up against something we are not prepared or equipped to overcome.

I think he often uses these trials to push us, not so that he can see where our limits stand, but so that we can see how much we are actually capable of handling.

I’ve also always thought that when trying times abide in our lives, it’s because he is trying to make us stronger. And well, he usually needs to make us stronger because he knows we will need to draw upon that strength in the future. I don’t know, but maybe trials are his way of preparing us for what’s to come.

I think it’s the same principle as when we build muscle in our bodies. First it’s painful because in order to build up our muscle mass, we must first tear apart the very fibers and tissues holding it together. We all know the phrase… no pain, no gain.

But when God is trying you and pushing you in pretty much every aspect, it sorta makes you wonder what he’s trying to prepare you for. Why the sudden spike in the building of spiritual muscle? Makes you wonder what sort of trials are to come. At least in my case.

Yesterday was a pretty tough day. And for a good part of the day I was so ready to throw in the towel. I kept wondering why my life could never just be simple. I felt angry that I was being pushed so hard. I didn’t want to be pushed anymore. I wanted someone to cut me a break. At that moment, I wasn’t interested in finding out how much I could take before I finally caved.

Then as I sat on a bench, in the middle of Mexico city, with tears running down my cheeks and my head in my hands… the most random thought popped into my head. It was a name. Helen Keller.

And then I thought that all good stories, especially life stories, always have a good plot, an abundance of opposition and plenty of ups and downs. That’s what makes them interesting, after all. They keep us hooked, waiting to see what happens next. And I guess that’s what makes them worth repeating, retelling and passing them down… that’s what makes them memorable.

My dad once told me that it’s easy to love those that deserve to be loved, the people who inspire love in us, the kind that deserve it, that welcome it and that return it. But what do we learn from that? When God commanded us to Love one another, I’m sure he had in mind that we love everyone, but especially those that don’t make us loving them any easy. Loving those that don;t inspire love in us, that’s the real test.

I think it’s the same with being the person you want to be. It’s easy to be that person when life is light shade of pink. The real question is, can you still be the person you want to be, the person you know you can be, when life isn’t going the way you would like it to go? Can you still smile? And keep the faith? And be patient? And put your shoulder to the wheel?

I think it’s during these times that our true character come forth. But it’s also in times like these when we decide what character we want to have. And it’s at time like these when we can start developing that character, in case we realize we haven’t already.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired,
and success achieved.

~ Helen Keller

Standard
Emotions, LDS Mission, Mormon, Pre-mission activities, Spiritual

Doubt

“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.”
~ John Lubbock

This morning I spent some time on the phone with the LDS lawyer who was assigned to my case by church headquarters in SLC. We were able to finally go online, fill out the application, pay the fee, and make an appointment at the embassy. I’ll be trying for my visa one last time tomorrow morning at 9 am.

As we were talking about the application process, he mentioned that he had just received word that the two other missionaries he had been helping had been granted their visas to the UK. However, he told me that they had been expecting a letter of refusal, same as me, because both of those missionaries had used the exact same Sponsorship letter I had used in my application. And since mine had been denied, they expected theirs to be denied as well.

But they weren’t. Only mine.

While I was told that my sponsorship letter did not fulfill all the requirements, they were told to come pick up their tier 5 visas any day of the week between 10 and 11 am.

When I got off the phone I kept thinking about what he had said. And wondered why they had lucked out while I had not. I thought perhaps I had drawn the short straw and gotten my application reviewed by someone very strict or mean or who was not partial to the LDS church. Maybe the other two missionaries got lucky with a nice person. Maybe Heavenly Father needed them on the mission field right away. Maybe… maybe… maybe. The possibilities are endless.

There was no way of knowing why things played out the way they did. All I could do now was stay optimistic. The words, have faith Kitzia kept playing in my head like a broken record. But no matter how much reminded I myself of that, a small voice kept sneaking in saying, if it was meant to be, then why so much opposition?

I don’t have an answer to that yet.

I do know that I’ve never doubted the confirmation I received last year regarding whether to serve a mission or not. But in the months following, especially the most recent ones, I have wondered whether I missed an update somewhere along the way? Did my Heavenly Father say, okay, thanks for being obedient but I was just testing you. No need to serve a Misison? And did I simply not hear it because I was so focused on getting out there? So excited about being a missionary?

I hope not. But I suppose it’s possible.

I’ve spent so much time and energy on this endeavor and invested so much of myself in this… that I cannot say I would not be absolutely devastated if things did not work out.

But then I’m reminded of the quote by John Lubbock, and I have the comfort of knowing I did everything in my power and tried my very hardest to be obedient and do what I thought was right. That leaves no place for regrets. Only for graciously accepting the Lord’s will. It only leaves room for trust… trust that I’ll somehow, someway end up being exactly where I’m suppose to be.

Standard
Uncategorized

full disclosure?

I’ve been thinking a lot about making my Blog public. But I’ve had a hard time deciding. On one hand, I would love for my blog to be able to reach more people so I could share with them the things I write here. I’m sure I’m not the only person who could benefit in some way from the detailed accounts of what I live and experience.

Even if just to make them laugh.

Or to make them realize how thankful they should be for not being as being as weird as me :P

On the other hand, I have to admit that I’m pretty honest about everything on this blog. I bear my heart and soul. There’s no topic I haven’t gone into on this thing. In fact, I use it more than my journal!

Maybe it would not be wise to make it public? Maybe some things are better left as they are?

I don’t know.

What good is my blog if no one knows it exists and cannot read it?

If a tree falls in the forest, but there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Standard
Decision Making, Emotions, Fasting, Liquid Fasting

Retractions and other things

Today is day 5 and I am still to experience “Euphoria” as a result of fasting. I’m starting to think whoever said that quote was stretching it a bit too far. But, I definitely don’t feel like crap, so that is a plus!

Last night I spoke on the phone with my dad after he finally caught up on reading my blog and he gave me some bad news. Apparently, when he fasted, he never included animal broths, just vegetable ones. He explained why he thinks vegetable based broths are the better option and though I am not about to repeat his extensive list of reasons (something about vegetable fat and animal fat differing in the sense that the latter sticks and clings to the inner walls of your intestines), I’ll just say it was enough to convince me to plead my allegiance to veggie broths only! Too bad this call took place literally 5 minutes after I had finished making a liter of chicken bone broth. Great!

On the bright side, he gave me lots of good ideas for tasty broths. Example number one; bean broth (no idea if that’s even what you call it). In Mexican cuisine this is a staple, it’s called Frijoles a la hoja. You take 2 liters of water, 2 cups of black beans, 2 big onions, some garlic, as much cilantro as you want, and a tbs. of olive oil (my grandma says it helps so that the beans don’t make you gassy!). You stick it all in a pot and few hours later you have something extremely delicious! Of course, I’ll only be taking the liquid and discarding the actual beans. But let me tell you. Its great for adding a little variety during a liquid fast!

So, with my first week soon coming to an end, I’ve begun looking to the future and toward the other things I want to accomplish with my fast.

Before beginning this fast, while I was still in the planning phase, I did some reading on the mental and spiritual aspect of a fast. And how a detoxification is not limited to the physical aspect, but can be applied mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is something that really interested and appealed to me.

Some books talked about retreating into nature during your fast. They encouraged getting away from modern worldly distraction such as television, e-mail, Facebook, cellphones, etc. Great emphasis was placed on evaluating the influences in your life and determining whether they be positive or negative influences. Then of course, eliminating any negative influences around you.

Mentioned was also how beneficial emotional purging could be and how it would be a good idea to use this time to try and work through any unresolved issues you may have. Mediation was a big part of this. So was journal writing. Of course, all of this being used as a means to an end. The end in this case being the efficient use of this time to clear out the junk inside of you–the mental and emotional junk we’ve allowed to accumulate inside us.

I really wanted to dedicate some time to this, but I wanted to be careful to not bite off more than I could chew right of the bat. This was my first long term fast and I had no idea how I would hold up. My first priority was to get through it! And if, along the way, I felt strong enough to incorporate some other goals, then great! But I wanted to be careful. I didn’t want to get fast-happy by letting go of too many things at once because it might turn out to be a little too much, a little too soon for me.

I’m a firm believer in baby steps. Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day.

I managed to make it through the pre-fast phase where I successfully let go of my “normal” day-to-day diet. Awesome! I’m about to make it through the second week, where I successfully gave up all solid food. Yay! And my spirits are still high. What does that mean? It means I’m feeling ready to turn things up a notch :)

So this is what I am thinking for next week.

Number 1. Goodbye Facebook! That’s for sure. It’s great for staying in touch with friends and family, especially for a little world traveler like me who has loved ones in every time zone. BUT, after careful consideration, I’ve come to this conclusion; in a few weeks (hopefully) I will finally be leaving on my mission. And once that happens, there will be no “me” in my vocabulary. The next 18 months will not be about me, they will be about the gospel of Jesus Christ and everything I do will be on the Lord’s time, not mine. Nevertheless, the time I have right now, is for me. And I need to make the best of it by using it for me and for my benefit and betterment. Who knows if I’ll ever be in this situation again. So I gotta do it right while I can.

So as selfish and weird as this may sound, I’m taking my time back, and at least for now, I’m not spending it on others, I’m spending it on me. If anyone really needs me, they can always pick up the phone :)

Number 2. Television. ugh. Some of the stuff I watch is definite JUNK. I know that. And that’s what I want to eliminate. I really want to put into practice the 13th article of faith; We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

That’s what I want to achieve. Anything that comes in through my ears or my eyes, I want it to fall under those guidelines and right now, I know that a lot of the things I spend my time watching and listening to, do not.

As far as unresolved issues go… well, I got on that wagon as soon as I left Sweden. I won’t go into any details here, but let me just say this; I’ve been working on resolving and simplifying all of my relationships. Getting rid of loose ends and unfinished chapters in my life is a big part of this. Clousure is a good thing. And I think I’m finally getting some when it comes to lots of things. I know… I’m talking cryptically. Sorry. That’s all I’m willing to say on the subject. At least for now.

So… there you have it folks, those are the goals for next week. Let’s hope I don’t crack under the pressure :)

Standard
Emotions, Love, Lyrics that speak what I feel

metaphorically speaking

Even if I never cross your mind,

I’ll leave the door on the latch
If you ever come back, if you ever come back.

There’ll be a light in the hall and a key under the mat
If you ever come back.

There’ll be a smile on my face and the kettle on
And it will be just like you were never gone.

Now they say I’m wasting my time
Cause you’re never coming home

But they used to say the world was flat but how wrong was that now?

And by leaving my door open
I’m risking everything I own

But there’s nothing I can lose in the break in that you haven’t already taken.

Standard
Fasting, Liquid Fasting, Uncategorized

Day 4

I finished my pre-fasting phase last week. It gave me hope to have been able to go 7 days on a raw foods diet while being mindful about cutting down my overall food intake as well as increasing my water intake. This period of time is supposed to help you lots during your first week of liquid fasting, which allegedly is the hardest.

Today is day 4 of nothing but veggie and fruit juices (and some veggie broths).

When I started this, I planned to go on nothing but fruit and veggie juices during the first week and then incorporate broths the second week, and finish by drinking nothing but broths the third week. However, I think I’m going to reevaluate my approach. Broths are really wonderful in the afternoon. They seem to really hit the spot and at this time of the day, my body seems to crave the broths much more than the juice. So… I’m choosing to listen to my body and do what it’s telling me. As of now, I’m choosing to incorporate broths in addition to the juices. Though I haven’t decided whether or not I will still carry out the third week on just broths alone.

My experience with juice fasting thus far is this:

I haven’t experienced the extreme hunger pains I was warned about. Not really. But I have noticed that I am the hungriest right before bed. But interestingly enough, I wake up not hungry at all. I drink a big glass of water and I can go up to two hours before feeling the tingling sensation of hunger. Weird right?

However, I have been experiencing some extreme sugar cravings! It was so bad during day two that I finally caved and popped a piece of gum in my mouth for a few minutes. I had read warnings about chewing gum while fasting and it said that it would only make you hungrier and trigger certain digestive enzymes in your stomach that could cause some discomfort. Which is why I made sure to chew it for only a few minutes. Interestingly to note is that, one again, the cravings were the worst at night. Why is that!? Could the cravings be more mental than physical? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I did anticipate sugar withdraws to be the biggest hurdle for me to overcome.

During day three I experienced very little hunger. Which I’m choosing to take as a good sign? Maybe my pre-fasting phase is really paying off??

I haven’t experienced being lightheaded or fatigued or any of the detox symptoms I read warnings on. I’ve actually felt quite good, energized and happy :) Not sure how to interpret that. However… I have been breaking out like crazy. Which is not common for me. I usually have nice, clear skin. May this be attributed to certain toxins being disposed of? (I hope so!) Or just the result of no exercise?

Other than that, I’m patiently waiting for all the other signs of detox to begin manifesting.

Lastly, my faith in my ability to carry this out is steadily growing. I really think I can pull this off :)

Standard
Fasting, Liquid Fasting

Day 6

Fasting, though extremely beneficial in many ways, is something that can have serious repercussions if not done carefully and correctly. One must really watch the levels of physical activity undertaken in a day and make sure that you stick to your regiment. If you are not careful, you may experience severe dizziness, may become lightheaded or suffer from headaches. Fainting is an extreme but definitely within the real of possibility.

Anyway, today was hard!

It’s the second to last day of the first phase of my 30 day fast. I’ve slowly decreased my solid food intake in preparation for next week, which marks the beginning of my liquid only fasting period. However, today was a very busy day. Two of my cousins were visiting, and Lucy’s stepson was also with us. We spent the day outside of home going from one place to another. The Pool house, the cinema, the theater… it was so draining! At one point, I remember getting out of the car and seeing big white blotches everywhere! I had to hold on to the wall to steady myself. It was kinda scary but it helped me learn, early on, a very good lesson; I have to be careful and I have to be prepared at all times.

I quickly excused myself from the group and made my way, slowly, across the street where I bough a fresh squeezed juice and an apple. After that I felt much better. But I realized that i have to be prepared, especially if I’ll be outside the house while fasting. And I have to plan! if not, it will be very hard to adhere to my goal.

Standard
Family, Father-Daughter relationship, Fatherhood, Love, Service

May 13

May 13th is always a very special date for me. It’s the day my father was born. It’s my Papushka’s birthday :) This year, like so many others, we are separated by a vast geographical distance. Sadly, I cannot be with him in person to hug him and kiss him and help him celebrate one more year upon the face of this earth.

It makes me a little sad to know I cannot be with him, but I am comforted by knowing that he will enjoy his birthday no matter what.

Because that’s just the way he is -always looking at the positive in every situation. Being happy and enjoying life no matter the circumstances.

Late last night, my dad posted the following note on his facebook wall;

Tomorrow is my birthday… yay!

I know those who see the Facebook reminder and love me will want to congratulate me, some will just ignore it, and others won’t even notice it until days later.

We all are familiar with that; we all know that’s what takes place every day in our virtual world. But who wouldn’t like to receive a little present from every single friend we have?

I’d love that! And I’m sure you would too :)

But actually… I’d rather have something different and more meaningful this year. Something with a positive repercussions if possible.

This year I’m trying to be sensitive to the needs of others, and I’m in the process of reprogramming myself to be capable of doing one good deed every day of my life until I die. It hasn’t been easy though.

Most of the time I’m so busy pursuing my own endeavors that I forget my daily goal. By the time I kneel down at night to give thanks for the many blessings received, I realize my failure. The failure to pay attention to the needs of those who are less fortunate than me and do something about it.

I know I can do it, I know we all can do it. And it doesn’t require much from us, a simple gesture is sufficient. And it definitely does not require us to empty our wallets.

So… if you happen to notice on Facebook that it’s my birthday and you would like to wish me well, then consider the following; I would appreciate it so much more if you would perform a good deed for someone in need, or to our lovely home, the planet.

In case you’d like to take up my challenge, I’d love to hear what you did! That my dear friend, will give me more joy than anything else.

So… being the good and obedient daughter that I am, I decided to do exactly what my father wished for on his birthday. I knew that were I with my Papushka, I would have probably made him a delicious birthday dinner. So, if I couldn’t make it for him, I would make it for someone else. The lucky recipients were my two wonderful hosts here in Mexico; my Tia Lucy and her husband Paco :)

The menu consisted of Garam Masala chicken over garlic rice, a yummy cucumber pineapple salad and a refreshing agua de tamarinado (Homemade tamarind juice).

For dessert I decided to bake a Swedish Kladdkaka, which just so happens to be one of the things I miss most about being in Sweden! I wanted to find a really GOOD recipe, and I did! Click here to try it out yourself.

One of the best parts about this recipe is that it was SO easy to make. Even though it was all made from scratch, it was no hassle at all :) Awesomeee!

And I swear, this is heaven for anyone who is a chocolate lover, which I TOTALLY am! It baked for 30 minutes and the smell filled the entire house!

When it was finally time to enjoy it, we did not forget who it was truly for… the birthday boy of course! We even blew out candles for him :) How nice are we?

One of the best tasting serve projects I’ve ever engaged in ;)

Dad, I hope I get the opportunity to one day prepare all this for you and have you enjoy it FIRSTHAND!

Before I end this post, I just want to tell you once again how much I love and miss you <3

I want to share with you something I read from the 2004 April General Conference. Elder L. Tom Perry spoke about the sacred nature of being a father in his talk, Fatherhood; an Eternal Calling he said the following and said this,

“… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you daddy for having raised me in a home where the gospel of Jesus Christ was taught. For filling our home and our father-daughter relationship with love and respect. For always providing for my needs, both physical, emotional, and spiritual. For never giving up on your lame jokes, for always trying to put a smile on my face, and for being my greatest friend <3

As your daughter, I can proudly and confidently testify that you exalted in your calling as father, having been a shining example of leadership and sacrifice.

Happy birthday daddy. I love you!

P.S. I did not cheat on my phase one diet! Well kinda… I made a vegan version of the Garam Masala. No chicken or dairy, just veggies (yeah, they were cooked, not raw) and salad :) It was a sensible compromise I think. Do you know how much self control it took to cook and bake all this and NOT eat it?

Standard
Decision Making, Mormon, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Spiritual

There is always a reason.

The peace that comes from the Spirit is often more
recognizable when it comes in juxtaposition to a
period of struggle and uncertainty. Perhaps the
work and struggle on our part to study and ponder
before receiving an answer is necessary because it
makes the difference between our feelings of
uncertainty and the feelings of peace offered by the
Spirit distinct enough to be recognizable.

Receiving and Recognizing the Holy Ghost
James P. Porter
22 March 2011

As I have mentioned before, I’ve recently found myself with quite a bit of time on my hands. In an effort to ensure I don’t allow these days to drift by in an aimless manner, I decided to jot down a list of activities I want to engage in on a daily basis. You know… to make sure I don’t wake up one day and realize the only thing I’ve done for the past week is watch episodes of House :P

One of the activities on my To-do list is aimed at keeping up my spirituality by listening to a General Conference talk, CES fireside or BYU devotional on a daily basis.

I especially enjoy listening to the “New BYU talks” podcast on iTunes, not only because they’re each only about 30 minutes long, but because they offer an extremely wide range of topics to choose from and are always aimed at YSAs (Young Single Adults).

The amazing quote mentioned above was taken from a BYU devotional I downloaded from this podcast. I seriously recommend it to anyone and everyone, regardless of age and life situation. If you don’t want to Podcast it, you can also download the PDF file here.

Do it! It’s awesome :)

This talk is honestly one of the greatest ones I’ve ever heard on this topic. Which in my opinion, is a topic we could always use a little more edification on. The whole talk was incredible, but I especially liked the aforementioned quote because it really hit home.

As soon as I heard him say those words, I though, I know exactly what he’s referring to. It was one of those “been there, done that” moments. The only difference was that I had never thought of it in the same context as he was presenting it.

I remember how hard my Senior year of college had been. It had definitely been a period of struggle and uncertainty, to say the least. And it didn’t make it any easier that no matter how much I prayed, pondered and studied the problem out in my head… I simply did not receive the answer I was so desperately looking for. Actually… I didn’t receive an answer period! Not even the slightest hint of one.

All I could do was tell myself to hold on, have faith, and trust that if the answers weren’t coming, it was because I wasn’t ready. Or because I was meant to figure this one out on my own.

But Elder Porter, with these couple of sentences, shone a different light on that period of time. I never once considered the possibility that this time of “radio silence” was necessary for me to be able to fully hear the quiet prompting of the spirit when they finally did come.

And now, it makes total sense. Our Heavenly Father is eternally wise. I can see why he chose to play things out the way he did. I look back and can accept that, had I received the prompting to serve a mission when I first began inquiring of the Lord what to do with my life, I wouldn’t have listened. I would have rationalized what I was feeling and would have definitely brushed it off as anything other than what it actually would have been: my answer.

Once again, there is no doubt in my mind that he always knows what he is doing <3 And thank goodness for that, because I definitely cannot say the same about me.

Standard