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.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cold Pizza for the Heart

Last night, when I returned from powder puff football practice (they let anyone join, even me!), my legs throbbed from the drills the coaches made us do, my body fatigued from the day's events, and my mind tired from focusing on when to yell "pass," "ball," and "over," and the first thing my mom asked me upon entering the back door was whether I had dinner. It was approximately 9:20 when I got back - I sure hope I ate by then! "Yes, thank you," I responded. It was as if she didn't hear me because the next question I got was, "Do you want some fruit?" and again, I tried, as politely as I could, to say no. "There's pizza if you want, leftover from our dinner!" she yelled from the living room and as I walked through the kitchen, I could see one little thin slice sitting on a plate and saran wrapped. I love thin crust pizza.. but I wasn't hungry. "And we have some mooncake but you shouldn't eat that cuz it's fattening!" she told me. "Okay! Thank you mom!" I replied. I was exasperated. A bit perturbed. But that's what mothers do right... they bug you until you call it nagging but it's really just affection.

Living at home is a constant challenge.. especially at 27. I think I've analyzed it enough to conclude it is due to the fact that these people who raised you, taught you everything you knew, are now your roommates AND your parents- which is hard. Plus, you've already been out on your own and now you have to come back and try to mesh your preferences together. Now, it's as if you're a guest and you're not here in the long run but just temporarily staying over for a bit.

The worst part is - I end up feeling like a lousy daughter when I think.. ugh, why are they nagging me?! The first thing my dad usually says when he comes home is where's the lil girl? - but in Chinese - I can't use pinyin well so forgive me for the lost in translation attempt. My mom loves getting updates on my life - how's work and has an impeccable memory that results in inquiries about every single friend I have had since elementary school and sometimes I just want to scream - I don't know where she is! I haven't talked to her since middle school!

So this morning, as I scattered half a dozen skirts and tops all over my purple sheet covered bed, trying to find something appropriate for a meeting with the senior manager and cute for when I meet up with a handsome guy later while carefully balancing the fact that I really wanted to wear the Chanel earrings Grace got me from Hawaii, my mom pranced in and plopped down on the spot which hadn't been engulfed by my clothing options. This is a rather normal occurrence - being in real estate gives her so much flexibility so she doesn't usually get ready for work until I leave. I tilted my hips sideways as I hopped into my tiny closet that is carefully placed in the corner of the room where the sleigh bed meets the door opening (sometimes I've hit myself while doing this and have to bite my knuckles in pain as the throbbing subsides) and as I did so, I asked if she had heard from Lay-Lay (my brother) as of late. To no surprise, she hadn't. (Guys don't seem to like calling their mothers as much as girls and guys don't also seem as privy to share detailed updates on their lives with their mothers... something my mom often complains about. A lot of what's going on in Lay-Lay's life is usually relayed by me and then if anything is important enough, retold to Momma Chou by my brother again.)

She stared at me and just kinda observed so I asked her what she had for dinner last night. "Yesterday we had pizza for dinner." Oh yeah! I knew that! She then continued... "You know, I got really sad yesterday." Oh man.. this is definitely because of the 'tude I gave her when I came home because I was irritated at her repetitive questions about whether I had eaten. "Oh.. " I continued. "Why..." I asked... a bit fearful of the admonishment I'd soon encounter.

"Well, I went in to get pizza for Dad and I at the Pizza Hut on Second. I was waiting there for the one pizza I ordered - thin crust, soooo good, and I thought of all those times when I used to go with Lay-Lay to pick up a bunch of pizzas for the whole family. But this time, I was sitting there by myself and nobody was with me. And then I started to cry because I missed those times when Lay-Lay would go with me and we'd eat together as a family. Yesterday, the only people eating the one pizza we got was Dad and me. And.. we didn't even get buffalo wings."

Awwww. My mom's so cute. It's hard to stop looking to the past sometimes.. especially when it was filled with happy moments. I reminded my mom that the future would also have lots in store. It didn't hurt to add that she is having a load of fun with my dad, that they go to all sorts of fun college and elementary school reunions together, that they have friends to hang out with, eat dinner and go dancing with! I told her to have fun now because when she had grandkids, she'd have even more options to juggle between. To that she laughed and said... hurry up then!

As I reflected on this morning's events... I thought...sometimes, we can smile about the past.. but we shouldn't stick around there too long.. and instead should really should learn to put it behind us. As good or as bad as it was... it belongs in the past and must stay there in order for the present to get to the future. A friend once reminded me about Lot's wife when I was apprehensive about the past and its influence on my present and future. It's one of the biggest challenges about finding the gospel and adapting to be a daughter of God. Time after time, I am faced with questions about why I've changed my standards, why I no longer participate in inappropriate joking and why I spend so much time with God. Over and over, I have explained that I didn't really choose myself... instead, the Lord gave me signs that indicated why I must not choose otherwise. In a way, I am obedient because I know the consequences of not doing so and I am faithful EVEN if it is hard. And I have been blessed because of it and that joy is undeniable and indescribable.

So remember Lot's wife. Who's Lot's wife you ask? So in the Bible, there was a story about Lot and his wife who were both instructed by the Lord to "Escape for thy life, look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed" (Genesis 19:17). Lot and his wife left and his wife, against the instruction of the Lord, looked back.. and then... dun dun DUNNNNN.. she turned into a pillar of salt. Lesson learned... every time you find yourself dwelling on the past.. think, that's salty and try to avoid it!

As for my mum, it's an example of dwelling on the good parts of the past, which not as cunningly trapping as the bad times, can also be dangerous if it distracts you enough that you're unable to focus on the present. But... she's right, those were good times. And I also look back and smile and then think.. there's a slice of cold pizza at home waiting for me. How good that makes my heart feel!

Monday, September 21, 2009

It Always Counts

I fondly remember when we used to have spelling pre-tests in elementary school. They would be short and sweet--a mere preview of the tests to come later that week. I was quite fond of being a big dork, the kind that leans to the left (I'm right handed) and covers her paper with her left arm as she furtively writes in the words announced by the teacher and used in a sentence. And even when I found out the scores didn't matter and it was just a push to remind the less attentive students (aka slackers) that they needed to study for the big test - I knew it counted. Of course, it didn't.... but it helped me prepare for the actual test and it pushed me to study, prepare, and fail that test would I not!

And then I started working, and the tests (post CPA certification) were long gone. In its place were annual reviews but besides contributing to some subjective decision about the compensation package I was to have in the subsequent year, I wasn't privy to much of my file. I was told how I did and given a brief synopsis of things to improve on... but there was nothing tangible for me to grasp. So does the day to day stuff not count as much? Or what does count?

Last week... I counted my lucky marbles.

I was tasked to notify all those I have close working relationships with, particularly the partners and senior managers, of my two weeks notice. They were not difficult conversations rather they were enjoyable and conversational. In fact, almost all four conversations started with some catching up and me giving them an briefing on the joys of Southern cooking (I was in South Carolina all last week for an assignment) which consisted of buttered, fried, re-fried and did I mention... butter? Everything was slathered with butter or if not, was sitting in a tub of melted butter. I think you get the point.

p.s. Not very conducive to the new goal of slimming down for the wedding I am in come November.

I told all of them about the state of mind I had been in for a while. It began about a year ago when I was looking for another opportunity and the chance to go to San Jose for six months fell into my lap with the Learning and Education ("L&E") group. I went with high hopes and though I found the gospel, spent much needed time with the BFF and found myself - I also learned L&E was not for me and client service seemed a much better fit. Upon coming back... I quickly realized the passion I once had - the excitement at each planning, update and teaming meeting - had vanished. In its place, I grew bored and dull by every acronym thrown at me, at every FAS - wait they are codifying it!!!, and every technical alert revealed. And with the boredom, came the indifference that led to an unproductive and inattentive worker by the name of Daisy.

I told them I had analyzed the things I liked and disliked about the job in detail. I liked the people, like the Firm, like organizing, managing projects and teams, and liked interacting with everyone. I disliked the hours, the commute, and the technical aspect (which only grows to be more and more with each passing year!). But most important, the job didn't seem to be in line with my long term goals. I didn't tell them I had long planned to leave and become a school teacher back in 2006 - that was unnecessary. My plans had fallen through and at the time, continuing to work was the best option. Plus, I was still learning! I was still challenged! And I was still having fun! I also didn't tell them how low morale had gotten in light of the recent economic downturn. There was no need since it was pretty obvious and as corny as it sounds, we really are lucky to have a job despite the lack of salary increases this year (beats a salary cut).

Many friends (who are greater than acquaintances but less than close cronies) have often commented on the shock they find when I tell them of my utmost priority of having a family. I've been asked - but if you're good at this, why would you not do it. And what? I ask. Stay until partner? It's for some people, but it's not for me. If I can be a good associate or senior associate, I can be an amazing mom. Trust me... the latter is definitely harder. Even when I shared the decision to quit without a job, I was told, That's very unlike you Daisy. Upon explaining the plan of action I had ... some agreed it was best and some remained silent as indication of a polite and reverent disagreement.

It wasn't a quick decision. It wasn't an easy decision. It was long and thought out and extremely difficult. I talked to family. I talked to friends. I talked to Church leaders. I talked to people my Church leaders introduced me to. I weighed all my options. I prayed. And then... I made a decision.

I took that decision to the Temple two weeks ago...

I asked simply... for confirmation that this was the right thing to do.

I immediately felt a shiver... followed by what I imagine as God reaching out to hug me and comfort me that the decision was right. Rest assured by the embrace and touched by such a powerful and immediate response, my eyes filled with tears of joy.

But I was still nervous. I still had hesitations. And I had nothing. I mean.. in all honesty, I had a few business ideas and things to do, but it was a 100% pay cut and it was risky.

Despite the faltering anxiety, I trusted my friends, my family and most importantly, Heavenly Father.

Flash forward to the two weeks notice talks. First ... a partner asked me if I'd be interested in recruiting. I'll be honest, I thought - man, those hour are going to be just as bad for at least 6 months with all their night time recruiting events! But I wanted to keep my options open so I said sure. A day later, I got the news that there was a spot (hooray!) but another candidate was being considered and he/she was more qualified than me (sad face and ellipse).

Second... the senior manager asked me if I'd consider another non client service internal role. I told him the truth - it wasn't something I'd considered prior to quitting, it wasn't my intention when I gave notice - but yes, I'd be interested in hearing more. On Saturday, he called me back and offered me a role within the Firm which deals with deployment of teams and projecting revenue. It was a people heavy type role and my background with client service would help, the hours would be better and I could start immediately but.. (there's always a but) ...there was one small caveat. Given the recent turnover frenzy, I'd be asked to stay for four weeks for one of my client year-ends. I had already considered staying but knew my heart wasn't in it and my work would be questionable. Given the new situation, I had an incentive to do well!

Nothing is final yet .. but the recent turn of events made me realize how much it always counts. It being anything and everything and nothing doesn't count. Just like this mortal life is the time for us to prepare for our eternal lives... everything - little or not - what we do here in this life, prepares us for other things in this life and ultimately all the little things add up to that great day of judgment.

I am so grateful that someone noticed me and realized, I would be a good fit for something besides client service. There might not be anymore "official" pre-tests, but everything counts. Everything helps. Everything matters... even the small things.

Moreover, when you feel dejected about your honest and true efforts to do good or feel neglected, know that He is watching, He is noticing and He cares. His hand is in our lives... so trust Him and know that He blesses you for the righteous and good things you do... and in the end....that pure heart and mind you have committed to, the determination to keep His commandments, to recognize a wrongdoing and commit to change for the better, the service you provide to others, the helping hand, the caring support-- it all matters and... it always counts.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Pie of Daisy

My conversion story is full of minute details that have yet to be fully captured on paper which makes it complicated when people ask.. so how did you come across the Church? Yet the more people I meet, the more stories I hear and the more testimonies that are shared with me... the more I realize...all these stories simply collide in a beautiful harmony that is a constant tune reminding me that everyone is a convert to this Church. Whether that chance encounter was from a knock on the door from missionaries, a missionary approaching you on the streets, a friend sharing the gospel, an acknowledgment of truth after searching for yourself, a determination to prove the Church wrong, a curiosity to know more, or simply a leap of faith... we all have our conversion stories.

The commonality is nothing more than a sincere surrender of pride that results in a desire to know the truth.

So I make no attempt to make this blog entry a story about the conversion, but instead to offer a bit of simplicity in the long story that is me coming to know the Church is true.

I was e-mailing Keiko, a good friend from Colombia that I was lucky enough to meet this summer based on a chance encounter she had with Quinn on a train that resulted in us sharing the gospel with her and many more summer fun time memories, and explaining to her the happiness that I felt from the gospel. But upon doing so, I paused and backspaced to the word "happiness." It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I was happy before the gospel, meaning my life was one that had meaning. I laughed, I partied, I worked hard, I saved money, I hung out with family and friends, I made friends easily, I was boy crazy, I liked telling stupid jokes and I was-yup, you guessed it... happy!

So as I was about to tell her I am happier - I stopped. That simple phrase, as succinct as it attempted to be... was not doing it justice. I was not just happier. I was .... and the word came to me. Fulfilled.

I started to liken my life before the gospel to that of a pie chart. I had many things in my life that made it 100% but there was still a void there despite the pie looking full!

There's actually no room for anything else in my life in this pie chart... but what the gospel did for me was... created an outline to my life, redefined some of the parts in my pie and kicked out useless parts that didn't contribute fully to the "happiness" in my life.

My pie is a bit different now, but it's a more complete pie even if it looks just as scattered as above.. it just has a stronger circumference of faith keeping it together.

p.s. Andy was next to me as I made that chart, otherwise.. would I have put him as less, more, categorized him with a previous category or none of the above? *snicker and giggle.