Saturday, December 12, 2009

Beware of the Bus

At work, we like to joke around about not pushing anyone under the bus. It's a phrase that has become uncomfortably common among the work environment but alas, still brings a snicker to my face everytime I hear it. Truth be told, we avoid situations where someone might actually get thrown under the bus because it's a selfish sacrifice for one's own safety or well being and nobody wants to be the person pushing someone under or being thrown under.

I often think of this phrase when I'm taking the bus, which has been my normal mode of transportation for the majority of the week. It helps to take my mind off the fact that it is indeed a bit ghetto, that all my important belongings are tucked away safely in my backpack which I refuse to take off throughout the 25 minute ride.

At first, I attempted to read on the bus - quickly realized how motion sick I get and instead observe those around me. For me, the bus is a luxury because it alleviates me from the congested crawl to work on the 10. But for many, it is the only mode of transportation available. For the most part, the demographics are Chinese and Hispanic while the bus drivers are mostly the latter. The reason I noticed this is because often times, when someone gets on the bus who doesn't speak English, it is easy for him or her to communicate with Spanish since the bus driver most often speaks the language. Unfortunately, I can't help but ponder that for the little Chinese grandmas or grandpas who get on the bus, there is not this same luxury. I can help out if the situation arises but thus far it has not and until then, I sit tightly in the front (also cuz I'm too chicken to walk towards the crowded back).

Lately, I have been brought back to the memories of my own wai-puo (grandmother on my mum's side) who passed away in December 2005. She used to take the bus a lot from Monterey Park to Arcadia, mostly to visit us and because she did not want to always be a burden to my parents after wai-gong (grandpops) passed away. Often, we would also go to Monterey Park to visit her, but once she moved to Arcadia with us, she longed for the companionship of her friends and her days spent playing mah-jong. So.. she took the bus to visit her cronies! Just like me (except I go for work since LA parking prices are a nightmare)! But... as she grew older, her memory often slipped. She forgot that grandpa had passed away and yelled at my mom for joking about such a matter. She forgot that I had grown up, saw my little cousin who was 3 at the time and called her by my name. She forgot recent things, but held on tightly to the past memories. And one day.. she forgot where to get off from the bus.

This was pre-cell phone world we live in today. All we knew was Wai-Puo was not at her bus stop, had not returned home, and was nowhere to be found. The entire family freaked out, split up into troopes to scour the greater LA and all the potential bus stops she could have ended up at. We asked all the bus drivers if they saw an old Chinese lady who seemed lost. We eventually located her and she was a good hour away in some city I had never heard of.

I sit on the bus often and think about Wai-Puo and how scared she must have been that day. How lost she must have felt, not able to understand anything everyone was saying to her, just wandering around, hoping her family would find her, knowing that they love her and would not be relentless in locating her. I wonder if anyone offered a kind smile to her, if anyone tried to ask her where she was going, if anyone noticed. Then... I think back to the stories wai-puo and my mom both told me of her past. her right ring finger was crooked because it was shot by a gun when she was only a toddler (even when she was almost not completely there in the family photos we took a year before in which she instinctively tucked that had under), how she had escaped to Taiwan as a refugee with three kids since her first husband had gambled off all their money and didn't live to endure, how she would cook meals of grandeur for all the people in the village, how wai-gong, a handsome and educated engineer would fall in love with her despite her three kids and how she would raise her five kids despite being dirt poor, how she had no fear when killing a chicken on the farm for dinner.... I think about the counseling she gave my mom, aunts and uncles, how she would have been in this situation.. and I realize..she was probably really scared on the inside but on the outside, courageous and determined.

So everytime I'm on the bus.. I think of wai-puo. I think of the strength she had, the faith she had, and the understanding she had when she was lost and am reminded of the same strength I must have when I might feel lost, alone or scared and remember that Heavenly Father is watching after me and that I am never lost, never alone, and never should I fear for faith and fear do not coexist.... if only I could remember that in everything that I do.

Wai-puo didn't live to see my join the Church, didn't live to hear the gospel, didn't live to see any of her grandkids get married or have kids. But wai-puo has been waiting on the other side of the veil and recently, I was able to perform her baptism. As I prepared the name files for wai-gong and wai-puo, I felt a flood of warmth overcome me, a sense of approval from both my grandparents and a sincere thank you for the work I was about to do and I knew, 100%, that was them telling me thank you, guai hai zi

Wai-puo and wai-gong are proud of me. This much I know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Red Rock Canyon

Thanksgiving for the Phillips this year happened in the city of sin; however, thankfully that which gives Vegas that nickname isn’t what drew us to the city. Instead the plethora of buffets and promise of warm weather made it a destination of choice.

The food was great, the sunshine was nice, but as is the case with all holidays, being with family was the best part of the week. We did our ritual Thanksgiving movie marathon, looked around looking for good Asian food, took lots of pictures, caught up, and had an all around good time. I was able to see my pops show my mom he wasn’t cheap. I saw my mom relish the day off from preparing the lavish dinner we typically have. I got to see my two little cousins who aren’t so little anymore. Sadly, I wasn’t able to see my family walk away from Circus Circus’ dump the chicken in the pot, but I was able to see the fruits of their evening. Apparently they are as good as they said they were; I will doubt no more.

My favorite activity was hiking in Red Rock Canyon. It’s essentially a huge playground for adults; there are multiple peaks, no paths, and you can go wherever your heart desires. Some places it was easy hiking, other places you have to use all fours, and there were a number of people using full rock climbing gear. The path down to where the red rock began was covered in gravel and many people, including myself, were slipping down the somewhat steep slope. Walking down the path, I was worried about how dangerous it must be to hike up the mountain if we were slipping so much just on the path to the start of the mountain.

After getting on the actual red rock, I realized that it would be that dangerous. There was no gravel, it was solid rock, and with decent shoes there was little chance of slipping. The realization that climbing wouldn’t lead to sure death, my dad and I decided to ditch the women and children and be a little more adventurous. We had a blast as we crawled through little crevasses, slide down our butts and made my mom nervous by posing for pictures on high ledges. After exploring a good portion of the mountain, my dad and I returned to the trail head, and waited for the rest of our group. As I waited, I kept seeing all these people slipping as they were walking down the path covered in gravel. Some looked as if they wanted to turn around, as all the slipping made everything seem so dangerous. I wanted to reassure them that once they made it past the gravel, and got on solid ground, things would be much better.

It’s been said that when we choose to ignore what the prophets say, that we change the very ground that we stand on. Sure, we may choose to obey other aspects of prophetic counsel, but the act of picking and choosing what commandments we follow puts us on shaky ground. My experience at red rock reminded me of that quote. When the red rock is in one full piece, it gives you good traction and stable footing. However, when broken up into little pieces, the rocks provide little traction and cause people to slip. Same material, but when taken in pieces instead of as a whole, the outcome is very different. Such is the case we when choose to break the fullness of God’s gospel into little pieces that are most convenient for us. However, when are willing to show faith, and act on prophetic counsel, we will soon find ourselves standing on solid ground, as we gain testimonies of the principles they teach.

Just Another LA Asian Girl?

Most people know that I grew up in a predominantly Asian suburb within Los Angeles County, that I then went to college in a small town just 20 miles east of where I grew up, and that I began working immediately after graduating in LA. That mere synopsis is enough to convince everyone that I'm indeed a LA Asian gal. Why else would I not have left?

Upon taking time to get to know me, the intricacies that outline my life and the parental restrictions placed upon me while growing up come to surface and that perspective often changes.

First, I am proud of the fact that I was born in St. Louis, Missouri. So proud that in fifth grade, while everyone was fighting about who go to do their state project on Hawaii, California or Texas, my selection of Missouri immediately stood finalized since I was the only one. So proud that the miniature St. Louis arch was among one of my prized possessions growing up and I often went to admire it and ask my dad about the time he took me up in the elevator of it when I was a kid. So proud that when I saw a trucker hat that said Missouri, Show Me Yours (because it's the "show me" state), it became part of my weekend gear to represent my birthplace. So proud that when I saw an ugly orange t-shirt that said Missouri Loves Company with a picture of the state and its neighboring states next to it, I exclaimed I want that shirt! ...and subsequently my brother bought it for me as a surprise (but it was too small so I haven't worn it yet) which made me squeal with delight upon receipt. So proud that when the NCAA March Madness final game was in St. Louis, I boasted of that being my birthplace at which point, I heard - that sucks, it's the crap hole of the US. Hmmmm.......

Second, I never had the option of leaving California. As all my friends surveyed all the colleges and universities they would apply to, I was instructed not to apply to any out of state schools by mummy dearest. At the time, I didn't understand and vowed with all my might, to apply no matter what she said. And then I realized there was a hefty application fee and since I was also not allowed to work (even though at 15 I could easily obtain a working permit), it did not seem doable with all my extracurricular activity demands. Years later, I would come to realize this simple restriction was to prevent me from applying to the same school as my high school boyfriend who was one year older, and from using work as an excuse to interact with the rebellious kids all hanging out at the mall and meeting older college guys who preyed on the high school girls working the booths in the center aisles of the mall. That all makes sense now but at the time, it just felt like my parents were clipping my wings and preventing me from flying which meant I would never soar since I could never even fly. Then, when college ended, and my grades bleakly stared back at me, hauntingly indicative that I would not be able to obtain a reputable job, I tried using my vivacious personality to get my foot in the door. Miraculously, it worked, but asking for a starting position anywhere outside of Los Angeles seemed stupid since my connections had been made here. So stay I did.

I didn't actually discover LA until I moved there two and a half years ago and actually lived in LA, LA. I say that because Arcadia is not LA. Arcadia is a suburb, a community of homes, full of peacocks by the Arboretum, a beloved racetrack where we graduated high school and the Santa Anita Fashion Park, which despite the changes over the years, still feels like the same mall as it did in 1992. And then there is LA which is ... well... odd. Busy. Different. Judgmental. (or so it feels...) Similar to how it's portrayed on television - LA is the place where people come from afar to try to make it as a star, materialistic to the nth degree and not somewhere my kids will ever grow up! As I think about it more, the more urgent getting out of LA seems to be. The traffic is horrible, the housing prices are ridiculous and the smog is gross. Here, obsessions over worldly matters of prestige, materialism, success, wealth and fun collide with good ol'd traditional values of honor, loyalty, faith, integrity, chastity, and kindness. And so with that said, it's easy to declare "I hate LA!" without any remorse and feel justified by such a statement.

I was reminded of how detrimental such a resentment can be when my BFF, who went to Berkeley for school and then moved to San Fran where she began working and has been ever since, was staffed in LA for a project. She began complaining to me about how rude everyone in LA was, how despicable the traffic was and how much she missed SF for its public transportation and easy going people- basically everything opposite of what made LA such an awful place to live. Attacked by my own BFF, I strongly felt the urge to defend my city. I explained that traffic wasn't that bad if you knew when to navigate where, that the people she encountered was a one time occurrence and NY people were worse, and that LA was awesome for other reasons. I reminded her of the beautiful sunny weather, the nearby beach, and the cheap and diverse but authentic food options. She slowly softened and agreed there was truth in my rebuttal but stubbornly stuck to the fact that the ugly traffic still outweighed the beauty the city had to offer. I sighed and let her be.

Six months later, as she came to an end of her project in LA, she told me how much she was going to miss LA. She raved about the food, the weather, the proximity of her family, and told me... I think I'm done with SF and ready to come back to LA for a bit. She was done with SF and I was ecstatic at the idea of her moving back! And then... as fate would have it, I ended up in San Jose for a special project of my own, and I too fell in love with SF, at the lack of traffic, the kind people, and slowly, I too welcomed the slightly colder weather, fell in love with places I discovered to eat at, and started to forget that my family was not with me.

So... it got me thinking.. this mentality I had is not good and what have I learned? And this is what I came up with....

1) The grass is always greener on the other side.. so don't take for granted what you have or always wonder about what you don't have.

2) We human individuals adapt well... maybe not immediately, but eventually so persevere and be patient.

3) Avoid negative complaining and strive for positive thoughts of remembering what you are blessed with.

Be that of good cheer.

I may be just another LA Asian girl for now.. but that doesn't mean it won't change some day later and if it does, I will cope and adjust. LA is part of me... but there is always room for more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What Would You Have Done?!

Although I don't know why, some of the guys I used to date gave me their e-mail and facebook passwords (men tend to have the same password for everything). Maybe they really trusted me... maybe they really loved me... maybe they were slow typers.... maybe they needed me to access something and forgot to change it back...or maybe they were really dumb. I'd like to think the latter but who knows...

A person can do a lot with an e-mail password. In fact, the possibilities are endless. However, before you jump to any rash conclusion about what I did - I admit, I snooped. In my defense, it was not a consistent violation of privacy nor was it done manipulatively with any sort of revenge in mind. Instead, it was just a simple inkling to know more. On top of that, I had confided in the BFF who agreed, it was harmless and given our bored Christmas break lull, we thought it'd be a good idea. Yeah... we were wrong, but that's not the point ... at least not yet.

No good has come from that incident. Not only did we find nothing juicy or interesting at all, we were wrecked with guilt and remorse immediately thereafter. And then, the inevitable happened. It began to loom in the back of my mind and tempt me.. maybe there's something interesting today? Maybe something exciting happened now? I'd like to say it's only when I'm restless that the temptation strikes.. but it's more of a when you least expect it type urge. Luckily, I am happy to report I have been strong enough to resist such destructive desires but I did begin to ponder.... what could I do to get rid of this knowledge?

Julia heard of my snooping incident and told me she was going to e-mail them both and tell them. I begged her not to and she only agreed after I promised, pinky swore, that I would not access their e-mails again. Fearful of how mortifying her notification to them would be, I promised her I would not. And I did not. But still... the thought of should I.... would I... could I... would not pass, could not pass, and did not pass.

My co-workers told me I was crazy. And upon hearing this, I thought.. am I? If you had such privy information, you could tell yourself I won't look now... but what would prevent you from looking in two.... five... ten years? The more I thought about it, the more anxious I became. I knew the burden of such information would only grow and I didn't want it! Facebook stalking is already ridiculous as it is - did I need more stalking opportunities tempting me?

I knew I had to do something ... but what?! How could I convince these dummies to change their passwords without giving away the fact that I had violated their trust and accessed their e-mails? I began to defend myself again, thinking I was strong enough. I would not succumb to looking and all could be left alone. But this feeling inside would not disappear. I don't think it was instinctive... nor was it something of my own. It was almost as if I felt prompted to react. But what was prompting me? Not my own will.. but something more powerful, something stronger than myself. I knew I should act... I just felt I should.... but how?!

After obtaining advice from numerous friends and family (my mom said they're stupid for giving me their e-mail but that's their fault, my brother just chuckled and muttered dumb*butts, my best friends roared with laughter and my co-workers were amused by how ridiculous my situation was) or attempting to obtain advice (as most of them just laughed at the pickle I was in), I came up with a solution.

I would threaten them in e-mail that their passwords had been violated! I could be ScaryHacker123 e-mailing them to change their passwords immediately or have all their information compromised. But then... I thought, what if the government came after me and tracked down my IP address and realized who I was? Would I be arrested? Bad plan.. what next?

I would give them a virus in their e-mails! Okay... duh, not a real virus - but a fake one. One of those messages that sends itself to all your contacts and pushes you to realize there's something wrong. It can be asking for money.. or referring you to a website.. or asking you to forward information. Oh, it was brilliant! Only... it had to be harmless and nothing disgusting.. so I drafted up an e-mail that recommended all contacts to check out this cool website (which I checked.. is nothing dirty or virus-ish). I decided to change it up for the second dummy. Not wanting to send another e-mail to all contacts, Claire suggested I change their gmail settings so a background theme would come up when they opened their e-mail. Again... brilliant!

I felt good. I felt like I had acted on a prompting and made a difference. And now, I could go about, knowing that other worldly things would try their best to attack me but at least I had done my own due diligence in ridding myself of one temptation.

So I told Andy about it, thinking I was soooo clever. I may have even asked him if he was proud. And then, to my dismay, he told me, those boys would not change their password. Based on what I did, they would just think the system had a malfunction and disregard it as anything with their e-mail access. UGH. This situation was becoming a wet blanket.

Pride is a funny thing. You often don't realize it is there, staring at you in the face, holding you back from doing something right. In this moment.. I thought why I couldn't just e-mail them and tell them I had their passwords?

1) Because I would look really stupid.
2) Because I would be admitting I had done something wrong - which I had... but still, why do I have to tell them about it?!
3) Because I was embarrassed by my own actions.
4) Because I did something wrong.

But I wanted to fix it. So... I sucked up my own pride, put aside how ridiculous I would soon feel once I sent the e-mail, how psycho crazy I would become to all of their friends who heard the story, and did it.

I didn't even bcc them. I sent them both an e-mail together. The e-mail was succinct and cordial. It told them I had their passwords from before, it had not left my mind, and I had tried to let them know inconspicuously and failed. I apologized and asked them to change their passwords.

It's hard to admit you did something wrong. It's even harder to fix it. But what I learned from my psycho episode is this... pride is dangerous, don't let it get in the way of doing what's right. My girlfriends love this story because it's only something Daisy would do!... but in addition to that, although they all agree it's not something they'd ever do, nobody disagrees that it would have been a constant temptation and everyone agrees that it's for the better. If only I had realized that before I sent the e-mail to all his contacts...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Not What You Always Think...

I'm currently in the midst of my sixth and last busy season and as much as I enjoy that statement... there are definitely aspects of it I will miss dearly.

I'll miss the difficult times that bring a group of random people together, the shared enthusiasm for yet another over-indulgent but firm sponsored meal as the highlight of the day, the random Starbucks and Jamba Juice breaks during the day which warrant a breath of fresh air(literally and metaphorically), the "oh! I may have found an issue" ah-ha initial excitement, moments the "oh! man... I really have a lot of work now" eventual dread moments, the "oh! am I going to ever finish it in time?" threateningly permanent pondering moments, the "man, I've been stuck in a bare room with white walls and fluorescent lights for way too long" moment, the reminder that it's late when the cleaning lady or man comes in to take out the trash, the painful growing pains, the memorable team ramblings, the high anxiety, the tight deadlines, the plethora of coaching moments and everything and anything that is..busy season. And like the run-on sentence that just was, that is exactly how busy season feels. Intense. Extreme. And hopefully... over soon!

For the last three weeks, my days have been jam packed with client meetings, update meetings and team meetings. Among all the meetings, we were told on Friday, as a team, to determine if we'd participate in the annual Homewalk which our managing partner sponsors. We were strongly (if they could force us, I'm sure they would) encouraged to attend and after the manager left us with the task of compiling a report of who would be going, the room was filled with bitterness and resentment. Maybe it was the stress. Maybe it was the deadline. Maybe it was the messy conference table strewn with paper clips, crumbs from the variety of dinners from the past weeks, clutter of post-its both used and new, and the piles of utensils on the side table that had accumulated from our time spent eating at our computers... whatever it was, nobody seemed happy. Negative Nancy's, Debbie Downers and Pouty Patty's all around... alas, where was Optimistic Oscar?

Nobody wanted to go. Why should we go to a work function on the weekend? I don't even like the homeless, can I help some other cause instead? What excuse can I think of to justify not going? I was disgusted by the conversation topic but I did not retreat entirely and instead I encouraged well thought out excuses for not going and indirectly contributed to the growing consensus that "firm-sponsored community service" seems self-serving. The complaints continued and began to wear on me. I myself, had told everyone I could not go because of a wedding but when team members began to comment on how they'd rather spend time with their own families instead of dragging 'em out to the event, I grew sad. It seems so often, once the incentive to load your resume or college application with volunteer service disappears, less people are willing to donate their time to the service of others. I grew mad. Why couldn't everyone be more selfless and stop thinking of only themselves? And then, in a fury of typed messages to a friend, I was reminded not to judge. I was reminded of those who might choose to anonymously give their time to others. I was reminded to be thoughtful, considerate and have charity towards everyone. I grew taller .. and realized... I better repent.

A few hours went by and like an elementary school colored parachute that you lift high up, run under and sit at the edges of the chute now in back of you so that you are engulfed in a parachute tent of colors, the stress seemed to loom over our heads. And then.. without any real turning point, the parachute seemed to just deflate on its own and the room lightened up. A joke was told. A sarcastic but funny remark was shared. And then.. we seemed to be normal again.

I sat there.. thinking, if the wedding isn't until later, I can probably do the walk in the morning. Again, talk of who was going came up and this time, I chimed in that I might be able to go. "Well, if you go, I will go too," a co-worker responded ... "I just don't want to go alone." And then, as if on cue, another spoke up and said, "I guess I'll probably be going too..." and then, with seemingly begrudging hesitation, everyone else agreed.

I sat there... stared at my computer screen... and was dumbfounded by the sudden change of hearts. The intensity in the room had only added to the reactions I had witnessed only hours before and upon doing so, I quickly passed judgment... yet a few hours later... I knew there were other concerns that had stopped them from fully committing which made me think of all the other times I quickly conclude on someone or something because of my initial observation and then am wrong. And I realized... it's really not what I always think. I should really work on those thoughts - on controlling them and ensuring my thoughts are not too critical and judgmental so they cannot then influence my words or my actions.

At the end of the day... it's not what you always think. ... and even if it is what you always think, letting some time pass as part of your confirmation process can't hurt.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

That's Actually Not Cool...

I was part of the "Smoke Free Class of 2000." The lofty campaign was deeply embedded into our lil 7 year old minds complete from a jolly jingle, demonstrations with stained cotton to depict the images of our lungs after just one puff and brightly colored yellow t-shirts.

Unfortunately, like many kids, I did try smoking and though smoke free now, missed the point of the campaign by trying it.

I was 14 and wanted to look cool so I begged Gege, my oldest cousin six years my senior, to let me take a puff and "play baseball," the code word he used around adults when he wanted to go smoke a cigarette. I remember it vividly. We were outside of my parents old house, the sun was just setting and it was a breezy fall evening. I stood on the sidewalk watching him smoke and politely asked for a menthol, the mint flavored cigarette. He refused. I begged. He refused again. I tried to persuade him by using logic. Why could he smoke but I could not? Didn't he want to share his fun with me? I decided bugging him would break him down and he'd eventually give in. "You're too young," he told me. "But all the kids are doing it!" I explained. "Have you?" he asked. Without hesitating, I told a white lie. "Yes... tons of times! So it's not a big deal... I just want to try a menthol versus a regular cigarette." "You already tried it before?" he looked at me incredulously and sternly. "Well.. sorta..." I replied.

Upon hearing so, he handed me a cigarette with much skepticism, his eyes growing wider as I took it into my hands, his head tilting as if to focus on me more carefully. I wasn't sure how to light it.. I just held it in my mouth while he lit it right? He fidgeted with the lighter and frustrated, eventually snapped the cigarette back into his mouth, lighted it, and gave it back to me. I wasn't sure how it all worked but I had seen it tons of times on television and on the streets so I took it in between my fingers, brought the cigarette to my lips and took in a puff, trying my best to look seasoned at the art of smoking. As I held the cigarette, thinking for a brief moment how cool I looked, Gege's eyes grew large and he turned around and screamed, "Xiao Gu Gu! Zhong Cheng Jia zai tsou yan!" which translated to Auntie!! Daisy Chou is smoking! (the full name is always used when trouble ensues...)

My mom never heard... never stormed out of the house in anger.. never did anything.. but the fear of what she would do was enough for me to promise Gege never to smoke ever again. I didn't understand... he did it, he looked so cool doing it, why couldn't I? I wanted to know what he didn't know. I begged him over and over again to not tell on me and he struck a deal with me. "If you promise NEVER EVER to smoke, even when other people are pressuring you or telling you it's cool, then I won't tell your mom," he said. "Okay! I promised.

We pinky swore and after we did, he let out a deep hearty laugh. "What's so funny?" I asked. "You didn't even inhale." "Huh?" I replied, utterly confused. "If you smoked before, you'd know when you take a puff, you actually breathe it into your lungs." "What?!" I yelled. He tricked me! I eventually worked out a deal to actually take a puff, actually inhaled, and ended up coughing until I wanted nothing ever to do with a cigarette again. And he eventually told my mom and I got yelled at but promised NEVER EVER to smoke again. I'll never forget that day. It was a pivotal point for me.. the moment I decided smoking was really not cool and that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. I'm so glad that moment happened because it helped me avoid smoking on the patio at college parties, in happy hour settings, and at any weekend outing.

After being in Vermont for a week with two chain smokers, I've been reminded of how uncool smoking is. I'm not ashamed to make blatant comments about how disgusting it is or how their second hand is killing me and my future. Then, at lunch today, I found myself starting a conversation about why they smoked. "Does it make you feel better or taste good or what?" i asked sincerely. Before they even began to answer, I interjected with.. "because when I was younger... and I tried smoking, it was seriously.. because I thought it looked cool. Before I could get addicted, I realized how gross it was and got over the whole cool thing and I really think every single person who smokes, does it because they think it's cool and then are stuck doing it forever and not by choice!" I paused. I had said a lot. I felt immediately guilty of the over critical attitude I had exhibited. Oops. Time to repent.

One of the co-workers is from Japan, is in the US on secondment and speaks very little English. He is pretty quiet most of the time. My question brought about a smile and he looked at me and replied, "Actually, that is true." Woah. Not what I expected. He continued. "That's why I started smoking and sometimes, even when I smoke now, I think, I am looking cool." Again, not what I expected. The other co-worker chimed in, "Well, I personally didn't start smoking cuz I thought it was cool, I just saw my mom doing it my whole life." I nodded, thought for a second and responded, "But you respect and look up to your mom and I'm sure growing up, you probably imitated her, so maybe you thought it was cool, subconsciously?" He shook his head and responded, "I don't respect my Mom though!" and my response was silence. "Just kidding!" he said. Whew. But I couldn't stop. "Isn't it interesting that everyone knows how bad smoking is and there are even laws against doing it in certain places but not with drinking when they're both not unhealthy habits?" I asked. Both my co-workers know I'm LDS and though I wanted to go on about how accurate the prophecies were... I decided that was enough for the day. Our conversation quickly changed to how awesome the homemade hot sauces, ketchup and cola at this uber green restaurant we were dining at, but I continued to ponder.

We all know examples are important. We all try to be a good example. We also all look for good examples around us. So just think, how much more important is it to be a good example to your kids? And how much more important is daily scripture study and daily prayer for your kids who will look up to you, will imitate you, and will think you're cool (even if they don't vocalize it)?! Like Elder Bednar said during the past conference, "Consistency is key!" Start building those good habits now. I read this morning that "good habits are the soul's muscles, the more you use them, the more they grow." You better believe it, plus the Prophet said it .. duh. Sometimes it is a big duh in our own lives. I mean, until I realized how stupid it was to smoke, I 100% thought it was cool and I am so grateful that someone I looked up to, told me stupid it was! Thanks Gege. I am reminded everytime I smell second hand smoke and everytime my coworkers take a smoke break. And on top of that, I've committed to making sure that my own definition of what is cool should be what is "cool" in the eternal sense, because that's what really matters and that's what really is ... cool!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Football and Me

I'm not athletic. I've never claimed to be. The extent of my athleticism is boxed into a category known as dance. I have been a part of numerous dance teams - drill, dance and formation ballroom dancing, but within in these groups, the concept of winning is drastically different. Unlike a "sport," there aren't different positions that work together and in most dance team competitions, it's the unity of performing the same moves or coordinated waves which determine the outcome of our winning.

So when I recently decided to join the powder puff football team with our Ward, I was not only skeptical, I was fearful.
And although I know fear and faith cannot coexist, fear is the best description of my decision to participate in competitive sports for the following reasons:

1) I'm not as competitive as some of the girls on the team.

At least not openly so. The extent of my competition is ensuring I am constantly pushing myself to be more than what I am. So if I can't even catch a ball, catching it once out of ten practice drills is better than none and sadly, to me, that is a win. Unfortunately, my teammates might feel different.

2) I am not willing to put my body at risk of catching a ball.

I once jammed my finger catching a football. Not only were my fingers swollen with purple and pain, but I was lucky enough to have it on my left
hand - the hand that is less utilized (sometimes I aim to be ambidextrous since I was born a leftie and switched over by my mom who inadvertently stifled my creativity). Now if I was an athlete by profession, I would not care, unfortunately, I am an accountant by choice and my hands are quite important as I am on the computer more than 10 hours a day. That means letting the ball fall sometimes and hearing my wonderful teammates cheer me on for the next catch while they repress expressions of utter disappointment.

3) It's football and I'm a girl.

I know, you're thinking How sexist! How gender typical are you Daisy? Well, I enjoy watching football... if someone is watching it with me but I really enjoy shopping... even if nobody is with me. I also enjoy good replays on Sports Center even if by myself but I really enjoy the cheerleading and dance competitions on ESPN and am usually by myself.

So basically my football world turned upside down when I heard Coach Mendenhall of the BYU Cougars at a fireside in San Diego last weekend.
I'll admit, I was watching a lot of BYU football because Andy is a huge fan and it's a great weekend pastime, but until last Friday, I wouldn't have called myself a Coug fan.

As the members of the football team spoke about their own experiences being a disciple to Christ through their mission, through football and life in general, the spirit engulfed me. I was touched by the simple words of each player and Coach Mendenhall and the message that the game was secondary and being a disciple to Christ is always first. It reminded me to take every opportunity to not only live the Gospel, but share it and be proud of it and not get caught up with the temporal things of the world. And then, when I least expected it, the defensive linebackers got up and sang a song. Again, the strength of the spirit moved me, which also caused me to chuckle a bit because there's no doubt in my mind that the spirit is real… why else would I become choked at the off-key musical performance of some big brawny football players?

After the fireside, I reflected on my own football experiences. The last practice I had was a Tuesday before this fireside, one in which I seriously considered bailing because there were other things I'd rather do - sure, it's a good work out but I suck and I would much rather be doing something I'm good at and also burns calories. I ended up going because of the obligation I felt from the prior commitment made. After this last weekend, I realized... I should continue going because it's actually not half bad AND the game is second to the relationships made there. Not only is it an amazing way to connect with other sisters from the Ward but the brothers as well! A bunch of dudes volunteer their time to not only teach us the basics of flag football (you know you can only pass one time, only pull flags if they have the ball .. ahh, it all makes sense now!) but have the patience to consistently coach and encourage us. And trust me... if you saw some of us newbies, you'd be amazed. I am amazed. And re-energized for football - both the Cougs and the Angels.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The One Time I Want Calluses...

There are a lot of Mormons at my work place. In fact, that's how I first came to learn about the Church ... through co-workers. During the day, I have a sametime chat list that is entitled "Momos" and whenever I have a gospel question, they are my go to people to contact if I want an immediate answer and Andy isn't online.

All my conversations are normally quite informative and very priceless but today.. one hit home and made me want to blog immediately ... and since it's Friday and I just finished everything on my list.. I'm going to take a risk and write it down before I forget!

Scott and I were having a conversation about life and audit and I told him a really funny story about realizing the presence of the Spirit and not recognizing it (sorta like a gain that isn't recognized until something is sold... yeah, I'm a CPA but I'm bad at math). We got to conversing about testimonies and he reminded me that the knowledge that I have is a major blessing.

In fact .. he said it with emphasis indicated by use of the caps lock key like this: "...that a MAJOR blessing." He went on to tell me, "it has to be nourished, just like everything else in life...a marriage, a plant, etc. and if it's not nourished, it'll die." He then followed it quickly by, "Not to freak you out, but you CAN lose that knowledge if you're not careful, God will take it away from you."

"I know!" I told Scott. "But ... it kinda feels like it's easier for me, only because I can see the stark difference of the Spirit in and out of my life." I went on to tell him... "I'm holding onto the iron rod tightly...and I feel fresh and ready to hold on forever." I paused for a second after that. And if my hands grow tired? That's the opposition talking right there because I refuse to let my hands get tired. And in fact.... my hands, are still not callused and therefore, are not shielded from the initial blisters which are painful at first but end up protecting me and enabling me to hold on continually. And I do fully intend to strengthen them! So, I have to remember to build small calluses which will help me hold on tightly and consistently. I liken it to when I first started investigating and was reading once a week... maybe twice if time permitted, praying at night only... and loading up on reading talks with three or four in a day and then taking a break for a week after until a new urge came to read and enlighten myself. Now, I'm consistent with the lil items that matter - daily scripture study and prayer and ensuring that I do not ebb and flow by over or under doing it.. and aim for the Goldilocks philosophy of what is just right for me.

It's weird because I never thought I'd want calluses. But I do because I don't plan on letting go of the iron rod... anytime.. ever!

Monday, September 28, 2009

My First Conference Ever

April 2, 2009 9:19 AM
Hi Lindsay,

Long time no talk! I hope all is well and you are still dancing and having a good time at PwC. So this may sound out of the blue and weird .. but I am actually "investigating" the LDS Church and thought of you. I'm actually in San Jose right now - and this is where my journey began as I'm on a mini-tour here with the L&E group rewriting curriculum to incorporate Aura... but I return to LA tomorrow and was just curious if you were active in the Church and if so, if you might be able to help me answer some questions as I continue my journey. It sounds weird, I didn't expect it but apparently God just knew and found a way to reach me. Have a great Thursday and hope to talk to you soon!


April 2, 2009 9: 54 AM

It's so great to hear from you! I think about you often and how absolutely horrible I am at keeping touch, so I'm glad you reached out to me. That's exciting that you're looking into things with the church. I can't wait to hear about your experiences and what stage of the process you're at!!

I'm still very active in the church and would be more than happy to answer any questions you have. I also go to the church on Sawtelle every Sunday afternoon if you want to join me. If you're not at that point yet, it's totally pressure. Let's get together once you get back, though. What does your week look like next week?

Best regards,

April 2, 2009, 10:40 AM
Hi Lindsay!

I feel the same - so no worries. Yay! Let's definitely get together next week! I'm working from home with the exception of Thursday - should be in the office, so I'm pretty flexible, let me know where you'll be! Mark Gardner (not sure if you know him) actually reached out to Megan Kakadelas for me and she's offered to take me to the YSA Ward in Santa Monica - which I am assuming is the same Church you go to at 2:15? I'm watching the conference from home this weekend and going with Mark's family to the Sherman Oaks Family Ward on Easter Sunday but have set to go with Megan the weekend after.

Let me know if you're free for dinner next week and we can talk more and I can ask you more questions! I'm really sad to be leaving San Jose because this is where I've been having all my discussions with friends and missionaries (had 3 lessons so far) but so far, I've only been to the Sacrament part of Church so I'm looking forward to checking out the Sunday School and Relief Society. In the meantime, I'm just praying a lot and realizing how genuinely happy I have been lately cuz of this weird feeling which has been explained to me as the Holy Ghost... hehe. It's all very new and still a little weird for me, but I can't deny it and I'm praying to know more truth and to have my own testimony to the Book of Mormon (which I've been reading but it's hard - that language!). Have a great Thursday!


April 2, 2009 12:43 PM
So awesome!! It sounds like Mark has gotten you very well connected! If you're planning on watching conference this weekend, a handful of us are going up to this super-dope house in Calabasas on Saturday to hang out and watch it. Basically, one of my friends from Merrill Lynch's boss asked him to housesit for the week and actually encourages house parties. It's supposed to be an awesome house, so a few of us are just planning on spending the day up conference, bbq, swim, watch conference, etc. You should totally come!!

As for next week, I'm totally free anyday. Should we say Thursday if you're going to be in the office anyway and we can meet up somewhere? Can't wait!

Looking back at this e-mail chain is funny - because the unspoken reason I reached out to her was hoping for a companion to watch Conference with even though it didn't come up until later.

What's Conference? As in investigator, it was explained to me as the only time twice a year when Mormons don't go to Church and instead stay home or go watch it live - both Saturday and Sunday. Wow, these Mormons are hard core. Upon watching both sessions of the Conference while I was investigating, I learned it was basically different people talking to the Church members with a few songs here and there - sung by a huge choir or with a karaoke type sing along for us at home to sing with. As I listened, I realized despite some of the Church talk (apostasy, dispensation, atonement, provident living), most of the talk was just real. It was advice anyone could and should follow. As I further investigated, I learned that the ones giving the talks were the prophet or President of the Church (currently Thomas S. Monson), other apostles (there are 12 plus the President/Prophet's first and second counselors) and a bunch more (general authorities from the First and Second Quorum of the Seventy, Area Seventies or Area Authorities Seventy - bleh... it's all uber confusing still so forgive me if I'm wrong!) and that all the talks given were based on the needs of the members inspired by revelation from God.

My first Conference experience was amazing and no doubt - Lindsay had a huge part in that. When we talked about it after, she admitted that she didn't want to ask me right away because she was unsure where I was in my investigation. But to that ...I say...hey, we should all take a risk! Sure, we might get rejected and sure we might seem overbearing Mormons way too excited about the gospel, but for those less active, investigating or struggling, there's no loss in asking and getting rejected! Grow some layers of thick skin and worst case scenario, you get rejected (boo-hoo *sarcasm) or looked at weird (awkward turtle) but really... it's no big deal!... especially considering the possibility of even just ONE person who might have really needed it or wanted it .. who just might say, "Oh yeah! Thanks for reminding me!" .... or "I'd love to come with!"

Do it! Pleaseeee do it. If not for me.. then for the daisies with thorns.