Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life is an endlessly fascinating story.

Here's something I've been thinking about. In two of my classes, my professors recently said essentially the same thing. It was something like this:

"A story is only interesting when something goes wrong."

They were talking about how no one wants to read a story in which life is perfect. You quickly get bored and lose the desire to keep reading because if nothing is going wrong, it feels like nothing is happening. Of course, a lot might actually be happening (people going to work, children playing, the wind stirring up leaves) and yet it is all boring unless it involves problems. That's because you start to care about characters as soon as they face trials. "Oh, no! Is he going to get away from those thugs!? I must keep reading, or I just won't know if he survives this....!"

It's kind of funny because people don't like their own lives to be like the stories that they enjoy reading. As soon as problems appear in their lives, they say, "Oh, no! How am I going to get out of this?" And they immediately become unhappy, wishing constantly for their trials to be gone.

But isn't it all the things that go wrong that actually make our lives interesting? If nothing were to ever go wrong, we wouldn't have to make difficult choices. We wouldn't have to struggle, and consequently, we would never grow or develop. Life wouldn't be a journey as much as a stagnation. And we would actually be bored, just as bored as if we were reading a story in which nothing was happening. (Inside of our souls, nothing would be happening.)

So, I have this theory. I think that we can learn to see life as an endlessly fascinating story in which we have endless opportunities to grow. Our trials keep us from getting bored and they keep us progressing. I am going to try to stop being miserable when things don't work out the way I want them to. I am going to try to relax and enjoy my own good story.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What I learn when I walk.

Last night I went for a walk in the cool of the evening. I love taking walks almost every day. It's amazing what a powerful tool that such a simple action can be. I often seem to leave my apartment in a cloud of worries. All of the problems and trials that I have to deal with are trying to force their way to the front of my mind and the effect is a little like a whirlpool. I think about it all and feel confused and overwhelmed.

As I'm walking, I feel my body become stronger, and the most amazing thing happens. My thoughts begin to slow down and suddenly I am able to organize them. I can put them into perspective and begin thinking about them separately. Solutions start presenting themselves, and I am relieved to start figuring out what to do. Of course, some problems don't really have solutions, but I am able to quietly tuck them away and stop dwelling on the things I can't change. I feel wiser and more capable and my life feels more manageable.

This is what happened last night, and I started thinking about the importance of taking care of our bodies. When we take care of our bodies, as the Lord has asked us to do, we are all more receptive to the Spirit of God and the peace that the Spirit brings. The older I get, the more I see that the commandments that the Lord has given us really are for our good. When we keep them, we can be at peace in all kinds of circumstances.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bring in the new semester with chicken burritos!!!!

Tonight I got Paul to make some chicken burritos, and they were SO good! He fried up an onion and a green bell pepper with cilantro, canned green chiles, and chicken cut up in little chunks. In a separate bowl, he partially crushed some pinto beans so that they could be easily wrapped in with the meat and vegetables. Then he wrapped it all in three huge tortillas. (Oh, and he put rice in his own, but I didn't need the extra carbs on mine.) It was delicious! It's nice to have a husband who cooks, and cooks very well and willingly.

We are both three days into our new semester. It's a little stressful at first, but I think it will get better as we go along.

Paul has to do a research project in the next several weeks and he is also working on his thesis project this semester. For the small research project, he is sending out surveys to find out about people's experiences with personality discrimination in job interviews. He supposes that certain personality traits make you more likely to be favored in a job interview, regardless of how qualified you are for the job. I think it will be interesting to see if the research supports his assumptions. I'm really proud of him!

Oh, and I should mention that we had a lot of fun with my cousin Charsty and her two little girls last weekend. We were both really sad to have them go Monday morning. Now it's just the two of us again, although that works really well because we like each other so much. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

There and Back Again; a Robbins Tale.

So, we've just gotten back from a trip... and it was quite a trip with many valuable experiences, a lot of stress, and a lot of fun.

One month ago, we left Kansas and drove to Colorado. We met my parents in the southwestern part of the state in a town called Ouray. On the way there, our car started acting up, and when we reached Ouray, it gave out entirely. (Pay attention, and you MIGHT start to notice a pattern.) While the car was in the shop over the weekend, we went gallavanting all over some of the highest mountains in the country with my mom, dad, and my brother Ryan. I would post some pictures, but I just feel that pictures are so inadequate to show what a place really looks like. You really just have to go there to see what it's like.

We stayed in two different campgrounds and went swimming in a huge hot springs pool twice. Mom and Dad also treated us at a John Wayne restaurant, where a scene from one of his movies was shot. We got to see a lot of beautiful and historic sights in the area.

Monday rolled around, and we were able to get our car fixed while we saw a few more gorgeous places. (A powerful waterfall in a canyon, for one.) Once we had our car back, we decided to go on to California as planned, even though we had significantly less money than we had planned to have at that point. Paul's parents promised to lend us a little money if we needed it, so we drove through the state of Arizona and saw some more incredibly beautiful places.

We had decided to try some highways rather than sticking to the freeways, and the results of this decision were mixed. The scenery was amazing in the Sedona area (seriously, rivaling any beautiful place I've been in my life), but the roads curved and climbed through hilly areas so that the speed limit often got down to 25 or even 15 mph. It doesn't take a mathematician to calculate that it takes a lot longer to get somewhere going 20 than it does going 85.... So the day we spent in Arizona was quite a long one.

It was late when we finally got to Whittier, California, and we slept for half of the next day before we began properly socializing with Paul's family. In California, we went to the beach twice, and we also went swimming at a mountain resort called Oak Glen, where Paul's family frequently stayed when they were kids. We got to hang out with all of Paul's siblings and their families. And we went to the temple, too, which we have needed to do for a long time.

I love, love, love little babies, and I was so happy to have time with all four of my nephews and my niece that live in that state. (I look forward to Thanksgiving, when I can go to Vernal and visit my other nephew Ryan, too.) All babies are different, and their personalities are strikingly individual. They are all so cute! If I lived close by, I would happily be the date night babysitter for all of them as often as their parents wanted to go out. I'm really not that scared of diapers, either.

We spent the last few days of our trip in Phelan, which is in the high desert about an hour and a half from Whittier. As soon as we arrived, our car was having problems, and (you guessed it) it gave out on the morning that we were going to leave to come home. Paul's brother Craig and his wife Jenny were kind enough to let us stay another few days, since we couldn't leave anyway. Another of Paul's brothers, Jonathan, was in Phelan for another reason, but he put everything aside and spent many hours working on our car so we wouldn't have to pay for a mechanic again. He, with help from Paul, Craig, and Mark, (another brother, who had come up to Phelan when he heard about our troubles) took out the broken part and then installed a new one. It was really quite a sacrifice for him, and we were really touched by how much everyone wanted to help us.

Staying longer wasn't all bad because it meant that I got to have yet more time with two of my nephews, who I simply adore and could not possibly get enough time with. I got to know Jenny quite a bit better, too, which was good. She's a really funny person.

After the car was fixed, we were finally able to head home. My mom helped us out by getting a hotel room for us in Gallup, New Mexico. This time, our drive across the state of Arizona was shorter because we went all the way across on I 40. The state is gorgeous, even from the freeway, and so is New Mexico. I LOVE New Mexico, and I wonder why I never hear people talk about it. It's simply a gorgeous state, if you're a desert-lover like me. I loved driving across it and up into the edge of Oklahoma.

We were only in Oklahoma for a short span before we passed back into our state, Kansas. I had a lot of fun seeing amazing places and spending time with loved ones on the trip, but it sure felt good to come back into our town and get into our own bed.

Now, we have to pay our families back all the money we owe them... but at least we were taken care-of when we really needed it, and now life can go back to normal. My cousin Charsty is visiting us tonight and all of tomorrow. She is bringing her two wonderful little girls, and I am so excited to have time with all of them! After Charsty leaves on Monday morning, Paul and I will go to school to start yet another semester.

That's the end of this travel log.