Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rocking the Post-Grad Life


This blog is like an aloe vera plant. I can't kill it, but I can't seem to keep it totally alive either. But for the sake of posterity and journaling, I'll keep it relatively alive.

Well, I guess the biggest news is that I graduated college. Whoop! Even though I really did plan for this, I'm still somewhat surprised that it actually happened. I also occasionally forget that I'm not still this 17-year-old freshman. And at almost 22, I'm sometimes not the youngest person in the room anymore. (I still look like the youngest person in the room though.)

Graduation was a great experience. I think people who choose not to walk in graduation ought to be slapped. There really is something about finishing. Along with receiving my empty diploma cover (talk about an anticlimax), I graduated Summa Cum Laude. Remember how I was so determined and excited to get a 4.0? It turned into a really serious goal, and I'm super proud of achieving it. As a freshman/sophomore/junior, if you asked me how I kept a 4.0, I'd probably answer that I just worked really hard and paid attention in class. Now, if you asked me, I'd say it was the result of many, many blessings and tender mercies. Before I started college, I wanted to follow the prophet's counsel to stay out of debt. BYU-Idaho has an amazing scholarship program, and my GPA allowed me to stay 100% debt-free. I believe that my desire to follow the prophet, my relentless work ethic, and my complete obedience to the Honor Code qualified me to be enabled to work beyond my own capacity. 

My last semester was also the culmination of my experience in other ways. I won two first place awards in an academic conference for Professional Writing and Creative Nonfiction. I'd never entered a competition before, and it was exciting to present my work. My English faculty also awarded me the Larry Thompson Award for Outstanding English Majors. Along with two other graduates, Jake and I were treated to lunch with the department. One of my professors gave a short speech about how awesome I am, and I was given a certificate and a backpack full of "all the necessities for the modern student." Nobody outside the English department even knows about this award (I didn't even know it existed until I received it), but it's the one that means the most to me. I adore my teachers. Because I was so dedicated to my school work, I didn't really make a lot of friends in college, but I did become pretty close to the faculty. I love all my English professors. All of them routinely went out of their way to help me with projects, recommend me for jobs, mentor me as I figured out my career direction, and occasionally listen to me cry in their offices. They taught by example, and I want to be just like them when I grow up. So to be recognized by the people I respect the most meant a lot a lot a lot.

I think it's apparent that I loved school. I poured everything I had into it, and BYU-Idaho was the best experience of my life.  (Disclaimer: Obviously, my relationship with Jake always took priority over anything else, and our marriage continues to be the best thing that ever happened to me. BYU-Idaho was the best temporary experience.) So it makes sense that after the holidays were over and life settled back down, I felt a little lost. Ok, a lot lost. I spent more waking hours on campus than I ever did at home, so I felt homesick. The realization that I'd forgotten how to be a normal person with hobbies and a life began to dawn on me. I was blessed to get a job almost right away, which helped. (I'm working part time as a technical writer for a safety training company. I make powerpoints about OSHA standards. ) But I decided that I had to make some goals and try some new things if I wanted to not die of boredom. So for the New Year, I took Luke 2:52 as my mantra for the year. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

This scripture is the guide for a balanced life. It highlights four categories.
1. Wisdom/Intellectual
2. Stature/Physical
3. God/Spiritual
4. Man/Social
I decided to set goals in each of the four categories, since for four years I'd only truly focused on the first one.

Intellectual
I backed off a little on this one because I still feel saturated from school. Instead, I made goals based on skills instead of knowledge. I wanted to learn how to use WordPress and do food photography, so I started my cooking blog. So far I've only missed two weeks without a post, and I've taken more than 1,000 photos since January. I also wanted to spend some more time on creative writing, so I started a new short story. It's coming along slowly. One of my English professors loaned me some good books, and I've read one each month since graduation. I've read them slowly, without looking for potential quiz questions. And if I don't like it, I give myself permission to stop reading. I'm relearning how to read for pleasure.

Physical
My goal for the year is to run a half marathon. I've been stuck at the 5k level for so long because I've lacked the time and focus for serious training. This is the year though. As you may remember, I dealt with terrible shin splints last summer, so my focus the first quarter of the year was injury prevention. Since January, I haven't exercised fewer than three times a week. Usually I hit my goal of five days of exercise. I usually run three days a week, do strength training one day, yoga one day, and I bike to work everyday.  I'm super buff. The school also offers free personal trainers and nutrition consultants, so I've taken advantage of that too. I feel sharper and healthier than ever. My shin splints haven't been giving me trouble, but I have had some other persistent lower leg pain even though I do everything right and treat and recover by the book. So I don't know if I'll be able to make my goal, but I'm sure going to try.

Spiritual
Jake and I made the New Years goal together to not miss a single day of scripture reading all year. And here we are almost five months in and still going strong! It's made such a difference. We are so much happier and less stressed. I also took an Institute class, and we've been going to the temple twice a month together. Our lives are so much happier for it. It really, really makes a big difference. We are so thankful to live so close to a temple.

Social
Ok, this one is the hardest one for me. I'm not a social person. Sort of. I'm not a group/party/activity  person. I'm the three-best-friends-for-life person. I have best friends who are as close as family. Spending time with people who are not in my super close circle of friends can be really draining for me. It takes a lot of effort for me to be outgoing even though I'm not shy or self-conscious. There is value in creating very strong connections and loyalty to a few friends, but I don't see that as the best way. Jake is the total opposite. He loves everyone and is happy to hang out with anyone, which has been good for me. So, I've been making more of an effort. I got to know my personal trainer pretty well, and I chatted with my Institute class friends every week, and I introduce myself at church to the new sisters. I also made more of an effort to talk to my best friend often. She's living across the country, and it's easy for us to not make time to talk in our busy lives. But we've been a lot better at calling and texting. So I've got a long way to go, but I'm working on it.

My goodness, this is a long post, and I haven't even touched on a lot of things. Maybe I'll write another one sometime. Maybe not. Anyway, thanks for reading. Don't forget to be awesome!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Brief and Relatively Thorough Update

Here's a brief and relatively thorough update in five parts.


I'm loving my last semester. I'm taking Senior Writing Seminar (which isn't a seminar at all. Serious misnomer there.), American Literature, Digital Imaging, World Religions, and College Algebra. Quick summary of all of them. Ready go.
Senior Writing: The whole class consists of three elaborate book reports and two portfolios. We read a book, create a PowerPoint/video trailer for it, create a visual representation, give a 20 minute presentation, and write a study guide. And we create two professional portfolios. Pretty fun class. Super, super, super glad I don't have to write a paper. And yes, I recognize the irony of that. It doesn't sound too rigorous, but the quality expectations are super high (prize for using "super" more than three times!) and it's a competitive class. But I'm really enjoying it.
American Literature: Also really enjoying this class. We're studying literature from 1865-1945, and I love it. It's the Realist and Modern periods, and I definitely enjoy that more than Romantic or Victorian literature. (Every time I read Emerson, I say Well yeah, but that's not how it really works in the world. Can't stand that man. Dang idealist.) It's a relatively heavy workload, but not bad.
Digital Imaging: It's a photography class, so I'm learning how to use my new DSLR and Photoshop. I'm trying really hard to overcome my genetic disinclination for picture taking. It's hard. I feel really inexperienced, but it's also been really, really fun. Tomorrow we're going on a field trip to a ghost town to take pictures all day. Super excited.
World Religions: Also an interesting class. I'm taking it from Brother Huff, which is fun. I took my very first religion class from him. We've studied Hinduism, Buddism, and we're just starting Judaism. It's not a lot of work and pretty interesting. It's also really interesting to study other religions in the context of a religious school. It's really different from other religion classes.
College Algebra: I'm taking this class because I'm tired of being/thinking I'm bad at math and I refuse to function under an assumption based on foolish childhood decisions. I'm actually really, really liking the class. My teacher is great, and I'm grasping concepts. So yeah, that's kind of a big deal. Literally the only time in my life I can remember enjoying math.

Jake is working at a manufacturing shop in Rigby. He's doing CAD design and loves it. He's designed parts for a cement truck, humidifier, filtration system, and lots of other things. The man was born to be an engineer. He can take any idea and make it more efficient and easier to use.

Jake works 4 ten hour days a week, which means he works 6 am to 5 pm. Which means that we get up at 5 am. I'm actually liking it. I get up with Jake and then stay up and work on homework. I get about 2 or 3 hours done every morning. I still do about 12-16 hours of homework a day, but the few hours in the morning really help cut down on my load the rest of the day. I can't wait to graduate. I'll be kind of sad because I have extreme nostalgia issues, but I'm a better wife when I'm not in school. True fact.

Everything else is just great. Nothing else really to report (except that I learned how to ride my bike with no handlebars!). We're just living the dream.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Honor Code and Temples

Ok, I know I promised a Part 2. And I know it's been like a month. Whoops. What can I say? I've been busy. Post about that soon.

So the Honor Code. I don't hear many complaints about it as a senior, but as a freshman, tons of people complained about it. And it does seem a little restrictive if you look at it on the surface level. Modest dress, no shorts, no leggings (although I've noticed a lot of girls ignore this rule), no short skirts, no pants above the ankles, no beards, no crazy hair color, no shaggy hair for guys, no overalls, no holey jeans, no sleeveless dresses or tops, no flip flops, no alcohol, no drugs, no staying out past midnight, no skipping church meetings, no opposite gender friends in the bedroom, no swearing, no hats on campus, no sweats, and probably more. That's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

So yeah, it seems like a lot. It doesn't any more because it's all habitual for me now (not that I experienced a drastic lifestyle change when I started school here), but initially it feels a little bit Nazi.

But that frustration comes from assuming that BYU-Idaho is a university. Which it is, yes. But Elder Bednar called it a Disciple Training Center. So it's a place of great learning that prepares us to be servants of the Lord. What other place fits that description? Oh, yeah. The MTC, and I'd also submit that the temple is a Disciple Training Center.

So now think about the Honor Code in terms of the temple.

What do we wear to the temple?
How exact is the clothing we wear in the temple?
How do we speak in the temple?
How must we behave to enter the temple?
What do we do in the temple?

Just like the temple clothing, behavior, and speech is exact and specific, the Honor Code is exact and specific. In exchange for great learning and blessings, we promise to live with higher moral standards. If we do not fulfill that promise, we can no longer enjoy the blessings.

Isn't that cool? Besides that, commandments are a way for God to bless us. And I absolutely believe that the Honor Code is inspired direction from the prophet, which means that the more commandments, the more blessings. So the Honor Code is not oppressive. It's not Nazi rule. It's not restrictive. It's a way to become a disciple and be blessed.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What Every BYU-Idaho Freshman Should Know, Part 1

In the event of my last first day of school tomorrow, this post is the thoughts I've been pondering as I consider the years I've spent at this university.

This is not a post telling you the best study spots, (The Snow Bldg. or the 2nd floor of the library in the skywalk or the 3rd floor of the I-Center), or the best place to get your textbooks (Book Viking), or even what to do with a terrible roommate (pray about it). 

This is a post about how BYU-Idaho has changed my life. 

When I started at BYU-Idaho, all of my teachers talked about the 5 Principles of the Learning Model. And the 3 Step Process of the Learning Model. And how BYU-Idaho is really a Disciple Training Center. Honestly, I didn't get it. I loved praying in class, and I loved going to devotionals, but the Learning Model and the Honor Code didn't really translate to much except really stupid pre-class preparation quizzes and no shorts in the baking July heat. But. But. But. I get it now. 

Let me explain. 

Everything at BYU-Idaho is founded on doctrine. Seriously everything. For example, the 5 Principles of the Learning Model. 

Learners and teachers at BYU–Idaho:
1. exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as a principle of power;
2. understand that true teaching is done by and with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost;
3. lay hold upon the word of God as found in the holy scriptures and in the words of the prophets in
all disciplines;
4. act for themselves and accept responsibility for learning and teaching;
5. love, serve, and teach one another.

Ok, so these are great, right? Right. I didn't have too much of a problem seeing the connection between learning from the Spirit and acting responsibly and helping and serving others and a great educational experience. But the first one really puzzled me for a long time. How does my faith in Jesus Christ influence my secular learning? 

Well, I should have swapped that question around. Because look at this. The 3 Steps of the Learning Model Process. 
1. Prepare
2. Teach One Another
3. Ponder and Prove

Prepare involves studying ahead of time, both class material and the scriptures, working out problems, writing down questions etc. Teach One Another involves active participation in learning, problem solving, asking questions, helping others etc. Ponder and Prove is usually the assessments: homework, tests, projects. It also involves sharing what you learn with others and looking for applications and connections with other subjects. It should involve seeing the fruition of the previous two steps and also lead into the next topic's preparation. 

I didn't see it before, but this is the faith process. Faith must follow certain steps as well. There's always a promised blessing for any commandment, much like the course objectives. Then we are to study it out in our minds (Prepare). Then, after we have received an assurance (Teach One Another: receive answers in class from the teacher or other students), we act by moving forward. Then we receive confirmation of our choice/actions (Ponder and Prove) and revelation and inspiration to see the influence our actions had on other people or the other parts of our lives. 

It's totally the same thing. Every day and week spent at BYU-Idaho is literally a day in the Disciple Training Center. You will build habits and thought patterns that will strengthen your faith and your ability to rely on the Savior's counsel. Even more so, you will see the enabling power of the Atonement in your life as you continually act in faith to do hard things. 

And that is a great blessing. 

This has been part one. Look for part two: Understanding the Honor Code. Coming soon. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer Break: A Precious Treasure

Yeah, so summer break is awesome. I figured it's about time for another blog post, and maybe time to document what we've been up to.

BYU-Idaho is not like other universities. In many ways, mostly good ways. One of its oddities is the Three Track System. Basically, by having three semesters, there's only 2/3 of the total student body on campus at any time, and the campus is almost never empty. Both of which allow the school to serve more students and drastically reduce costs. It also gives the unique Seven Week Break. The Seven Week Break is the gap between the end of Spring semester (Usually 3rd week of July) to the beginning of Fall semester (Usually 2nd or 3rd week of Sept.). And it is a magical time.

Blissful, really.

The produce section of the grocery store isn't crowded with gossiping groups of girls trying to decide if they want to pick out vegetables in case they meet boys in the store, or just skip straight to the cereal and milk. But even that's not really a big deal. The real beauty of the Seven Week Break is Time.

It's something I haven't experienced for quite a while. I don't have to be anywhere except church, besides an occasional work meeting every few weeks. And it's beautiful.

Jake is working as a drafter for a manufacturing company, and he loves it. They're experiencing a gap between projects though, so he hasn't had work this week. Prayers that work will come in soon would be appreciated. It will, we're sure, and he really enjoys working there. So that's good.

As for me, I've realized that I haven't grown out of being a homeschooler. Given vast amounts of free time, alone by myself in the apartment, I default to basically exactly what I spent my childhood doing. I get up early. Jake works at 6 am, so I usually get up at 5 with him, then go back to bed until 7 (because I can). Then I run or do strength training (Btw, I love my Crowley genes. Defined arms in two workouts!), shower, read scriptures, eat breakfast, and clean the house a little and do the dishes. If I have work, I'll do some editing for a few hours, then read a classic, watch some math videos on Khan Academy (which if you haven't heard of, you're missing out. Best educational tool ever!), watch some tutorials on cameras and Photoshop, do some Relief Society visits or phone calls, and maybe watch an episode of The Office so I feel like part of a real workplace. Then I might do something fun outside with Tina, or plan dinner. Jake comes home at 5:30; we have dinner and work on projects or do something with friends or watch a movie. We go to bed at 9:30 or 10 at the latest.

Ok, so it's not exactly exactly what I did as a child, but it's principally the same. I spend a lot of time reading or studying on my own. I've read

  • This Boy's Life, by Tobias Wolff 
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zuzak 
  • The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
  • "All My Sons" and "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller. 
So about a book a week all break (the two plays count as one book because they're short), or about 1,700 pages total. I've still got a week left, and I've got Running and Being by George Sheehan to get through. I probably could have spent the whole break studying one book, but that feels like school. And I do what I want. 

Besides our trip to Washington, we spent a two weekends with Jake's family for his nephew's blessing and a cousin's wedding, and we spent Labor Day weekend in Utah with my family. No pictures because I'm an airhead. (Hopefully my photography class will solve that. Hopefully.) But those were all super fun trips, and we got massively sunburned at a water park, because we're airheads, but it felt like summer initiation. 

Now that it's almost over, I'm starting to get ready to go back to school, just for the sake of routine and productivity. And boots and sweaters. And I'm really excited for my classes. It blows my mind that I'll graduate in four short months. But wahoo for an awesome last semester! And wahoo for a great summer!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Trip to Washington

 So we went to Washington with our married friends, and spent basically every minute of an entire week with them, and have zero pictures with them. So just use your imagination. Look! It's a baby seal!
 These are the two bridges that replaced the one that blew down in 1940 (Galloping Gertie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zczJXSxnw).
 As we I am genetically indisposed to taking pictures on vacation, virtually all the pictures you will see in this post will contain this exact pose. I'm learning, people.
 Those trees in the background? That's an island. We stayed there. It was awesome. Also, I'd like to note that those are the first pairs of flip flops we've owned since attending BYU-Idaho. Also, note that my arms are four shades darker than my legs. Also, ignore that my eyes are closed. We picked up starfish off the dock and touched the tops of jellyfish.
 This picture is out of order, but W for whatevs. We went to Seattle and ate lunch at Ivar's. I can honestly say that my first fresh seafood was life-changing in the best way.
 Here we are walking on the bridge shown previously. We threw rocks off the side and Jake timed the fall and then calculated the height based on that. Yes, I'm married to an engineer, why do you ask?
 Here we are waiting for the ferry to Seattle. Those are streams of water over our heads. We had a little too much fun playing in the fountain.
 Still waiting for the ferry.
 And posing again. Still waiting for the ferry.
 Hey, we're on the ferry! Posing again.
 And again.
 This is also at Ivar's. The seagull were CHEEKY! They'd eat right out of our hands. Jake held out french fries and then tried to snatch the seagull that took it. Hilarity ensued.
 Hey look! We're in Seattle! Please note the slight pose variation.
 This is The Gum Wall in Pike's Place. Pretty much the most simultaneously disgusting and cool thing I've ever seen. I look anxious.
 I'm on a pig.
 Pike's Place. There were many people.
Bye, Seattle!

And that's basically all the pictures we took. We also went boating twice, kyacking, picked blackberries, and shopped at Goodwill. And ate a lot of food. Best vacation ever!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hippies

On Monday, we went to Winco and ran some other errands in the big city. (And by big city I mean mid-size city surrounded by farm land.)

While we were checking out, Jake looked at the couple in line behind us, and whispered, "Look at those guys. They're totally hippies."

I looked. The guy had a beard, and they were both dressed really hipster/Bohemian. (Hard to tell the difference sometimes.) I shrugged. "Yeah, I guess they look a little like hippies," I whispered back.

Then we loaded 25 pounds of juicing carrots on the belt, along with 25 pounds of dry beans and some kale. While she rang it up, I checked to make sure all my curly tendrils of wild hair were still tucked under my bandanna-folded-into-a-headband. 

We loaded up our cart and left. The afternoon sun was really bright, but luckily I didn't have any makeup on to sweat off, since I hadn't showered that morning.

As we loaded our groceries into our beat-up car with the bike rack, Jake said, "That hippie guy sure had a nice beard."