Friday, January 29, 2016

Oregon: I'm Confused. And Frustrated. And Sad. And Reeling. What About You?

I’m deeply bothered. Bothered by it all. I have watched the video and I still don't think it's clear what happened. I have read the articles—both for and against the occupation. There is a part of me that wishes I could choose sides as easily as the masses I see around me. Applauding or condemning, at will, but I cannot. Maybe I know too much. Perhaps too little?

I’m not here to argue or convince. Merely to try to make sense of it all for myself. A man is dead. I didn’t know him personally, but I know folks who did. And from what I can tell, he was a good man, if imperfect. It saddens me to witness people who cheer his death, and tout that “he got what he wanted”. Probably because I see it differently. While he may have said he would prefer death to prison, it seems to me that what he really wanted was to stand up for a cause in which he believed, to support the healthy use of public lands and to stem government overreach. Were his methods the most reasonable choice? I don’t know. And I don’t think you can REALLY claim to know either. All you can know is what you would have done and what you feel is justifiable for yourself. Unfortunately, we see only a micron of what is happening on both sides of the story. We see only what each side would have us see, for that is their reality and all they can ultimately show us.

I concede that you are entitled to your opinion on the matter, as am I, but when did it become okay to dismiss the life of a man with complete disregard for the fact that he was a man? Where has our humanity gone? Have we, as a society, become so incredibly selfish that the death of another member of the human race is irrelevant? Or worse, a cause for celebration?!? Can we not agree to disagree without exacting a death sentence? Can we not be loving and accepting of one another, even when there are differences? And what of moderation? Isn’t it reasonable that we find a way to use and conserve the lands simultaneously? Every part of me believes there has to be a way to do just that. Stewardship over the land has to be the answer.

Unfortunately, moderation doesn’t sell the people. Extremes do. And if the masses can be polarized under the pretense that one side is wrong and the other right, victory can be claimed and camp set up on personal moral high ground. Ironically enough, each side will claim said victory and the right to be on that moral high ground. Go figure, right?           

Yes. I do know the leaders of the movement. They are cousins, somewhere down the line. Men I have spent days with at our family reunion. They are God fearing men who love the outdoors, ranching, horses, dancing,  and family. They are tellers of stories and practical jokers. 

To a certain degree, I understand their plight, if only as an observer. I know the fight over public land usage in the West is tense. I have been privy to it for as far back as my memory reaches. Whether it’s a fight over land use, water rights, development, mining, air space, endangered species, or a myriad of other topics, it has had a place in my life. Still, at the end of the day, he who controls the water, controls the land out here. It’s just the way it is. Anyone who tells you that water rights in the desert southwest is an easy matter is either uneducated or incredibly na├»ve. There is nothing easy about water rights out here. Even Senator Barry Goldwater is fabled for saying something along the lines of “We’ll sell you our gold and share our women but if you come after our water you’ll have a fight on your hands!”

This situation is not black and white from where I sit. There is no clear right and wrong. There is so much ambiguity and bias that we may never fully understand the truth of the matter.

So, I suppose, at the end of the day, my plea is simply this…


Seek to understand the whole truth in the matter, not just the truth that suits your fancy. Be moderate and reasonable as you form your opinions. Understand that when someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t make that person inferior, stupid, or evil. Just different from you. Stop the name calling and belittling. Be willing to ask the hard questions and receive the answers that come. But most importantly—see the humanity of the situation. There are, after all, humans on both sides of this fight who are doing what they believe to be right.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fun, Fall and College Football

I recognize that most of you will think I'm crazy for what I am about to say, and that's okay. I feel like it's time this was out there. I always liked being in school. Always. I remember crying the whole way home on my last day of first grade. School was great. We did fun things and I got to learn SO MANY cool things!

Once I got to high school, I liked being in school so much that I participated in everything! I played volleyball and softball. I was in the madrigals, on the agriculture team, and I did drama.  Granted, I always played the 3rd fence post from the left, cause I can't act and I don't really love to be the center of attention, but I was involved. I went to assemblies and pep rallies and football games. I was involved in clubs and I went to dances. I took honors and AP courses and could write a research paper in my sleep--which sometimes I did!

When I graduated from high school and started college, I took 21 credits both fall and spring semester--and at that point I kinda burned myself out. I think I just did too much. I was working full time as well and trying to have a social life on top of my heavy school load...and I just couldn't keep up. I decided that I needed some time away from school.

I knew that time off for most people was a lifetime sentence. Once you stopped going, it was hard to go back. But I was sure it was what I needed to do. So I took some time. After a year or so, I decided I was ready to go back and finish my Associates degree. If I pushed hard for just one semester, I could finish up. So that's what I did. And then I took some more time.

Finally, in the summer of 2004, I decided it was time to go back and get my Bachelors degree. In January of 2005 I started school at the University if Utah--which in and of itself is quite the story, but I'll save that for another time. My first semester at the U was hard. I didn't know anyone, and my roommates were pretty much crazy. I spent a lot of time driving home to St. George. When summer rolled around, I wasn't sure I wanted to go back in the fall.

But go back I did. And starting fall semester made all the difference in the world. I found some extracurricular activities to get involved in (a huge THANK YOU goes out to all my friends from Encore for making the 05-06 school year so memorable!). And I discovered University of Utah Football!!

And now, every fall, when college football starts, and my Utes take to the field, I want to be back in college. I want to be on campus, in classes, and I want to be in Rice Eccles Stadium, screaming and cheering with the rest of the MUSS! There is something so energizing about being part of it! I'm not the biggest football fan out there (the NFL does nothing for me), but I love college football, and I am the biggest Utah fan out there! It takes 120 credits to get a bachelors degree, and at my last count I think I have about 226... and I would love to go back! For the sleepless nights spent studying and playing, for the professors who know an endless amount about the things they teach, for the friendships and the memories. And for the football. I would go back.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rain

Rain is beautiful. Especially in the desert. And since I have spent my life in the desert, there are few things I love more than a good rain storm. So what is it that I love about the rain? Lots of things!

First- Rain in the desert gives life. So many people operate under the misconception that there is no life in the desert. I am here to tell you that is incorrect! The desert is teeming with life, if you know where, and when to look for it! From unique wildlife to incredible wildflowers,  rain is the sustaining factor for life in the desert. 

Second- Rain is cleansing. I love the way the world feels after a good rainstorm-- as though everything has been cleaned and is fresh and new. The dust settles and the sky is a bit bluer, the grass a bit greener. The birds sing a bit louder and their song carries through the air a bit farther. All that was amiss gets reset when it rains. 

Third- Rain has the power to transform the world. Don't believe me? Visit an area that has recently seen a flash flood. There are few sights more thrilling and more humbling than to witness a flash flood as it cuts a path through the desert, carrying boulders the size of apartments along as though they are weightless, carving and changing the face of the land. 

Tonight. Tonight, it's raining in St. George. And I decided to go for a walk. 

And there was something so therapeutic about it. Recently, feelings of worry, self doubt and inadequacy have been all consuming.  My ever present companions as I attempt to figure out where my life should go from here. But something happened as I walked in the rain tonight. I got soaked. And as the drops hit my face, pooled together and started to run, I found myself letting go of a little bit of the troubles I have been holding onto so tightly. 

As I walked, I thought about my Savoir, who suffered on a cross, not just for my sins, but for my sorrows. He can take the pain. He can take the worry, the self doubt and the feelings of inadequacy. He can, and he DID. Now, I just need to stop holding on so tightly. 

I think one of my great limitations is that I tend to be afraid of my capabilities. I'm sure you are all familiar with the quote by Marianne Williamson that reads:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us. It is in everyone."

So my question is why? Why are we afraid to shine? Why are we afraid of the greatness that we possess? Have we allowed the world to beat it out of us? We all know that misery loves company and when we are down, the last thing we want is someone to make us feel better, right? I mean, if you can't join my pity party, you certainly aren't welcome to have a celebration of your own in my presence. I'm not discounting the value of mourning something lost. There is a time and a purpose to grief. But don't hold on when the time is past. Look forward to the future and remember to stay positive. Some of your best days are still to come!

So I issue this challenge--to myself and all who are willing. Stop holding on so tightly to the things that make life hard. Instead, give them to the Savior for He knows what to do with them. Forgive a bit more easily. Smile without hesitation. Offer a kind word. Stop worrying. And stop comparing. Surround yourself with those who lift you up and help you to be your very best self!

Funny, that all of that came from a 10 minute walk in the rain...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The ABC's for my New Year

Just in case you have been living in a time warp somewhere and missed the fuss, the fireworks and the fun, it's now 2015!!

Personally, I have never been much of a New Years Resolutions kind of a girl. For the past several years, I have made a modified attempt at it, wherein I decide on a focus for the year, rather than setting a list of resolutions. A few years back, my focus was to simplify. The next year I set my sights on serving others. And I am happy to report that I feel I have been successful in this form of resolution setting. Is that to say I have been perfect in my pursuits?? No way! I made plenty of mistakes. I got caught up in silly things. I was sometimes very selfish. Still, at the end of these past years, I could look back and say that I had done something right, and that was what mattered to me.

As I contemplated what I wanted my focus to be in 2015, I came across a post on Facebook from President Thomas S. Monson that said:

“At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings. Just as we learned the ABCs in school, I offer my own ABCs to help us all gain the abundant life.
A in my ABCs refers to attitude.
B is for believe—in yourself, in those around you, and in eternal principles.
C is for courage. Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently."

...and it got me thinking. The abundant life, as he describes it, is a great thing to strive for and I decided that would be my 2015 focus. So I wrote his ABC's on the whiteboard I keep in my room. And as I stood there, dry erase marker in hand, I found that the rest of the ABC's came to me with ease. I almost didn't think about it as I jotted them down, knowing that the things I was adding to my list would aid me in achieving the abundant life.
So, I share my 2015 Abundant Life Alphabet with you now. Pick and choose from it as you like. Take it or leave it in it's entirety if that is what suits your needs, but these are the things I feel to be important for me in the coming year: 
A- Attitude
B- Believe--in yourself, in others and in eternal principles
C- Courage-- to live decently
D- Dedication-- to the things you know to be right, to your health, to your family and to your friends
E- Embrace the experiences that you have
F- Faith that good things are going to happen in 2015
G- Grateful in any circumstance (Read President Uchtdorf's talk on this here)
H- Humility and trust in the Lord and His timing
I- Increase your income
J- Joy in the journey--it's all about enjoying the small things in life
K- Kindness matters (Thanks to John Dillon for frequently reminding me of this!)
L- Live a life worth emulating. Love much. Laugh often.
M- Make a difference in the lives of the people around you 
N- Never give up!
O- Overcome insecurity and open yourself up to life's possibilities.
P- Perspective-- keep it positive, keep it eternal
Q- Quality time with the people who are important to you
R- Record your heritage
S-Spend less. Save more. Life is better when it is Simple
T- Time for Travel. It's fun and it creates worthwhile memories
U- Use your talents to leave the people, places and things you come into contact with a little better
V- Virtue-- it is important to have high moral standards
W- Wants--keep them reasonable
X- Cut gossip, vanity and selfishness from your life (I know, cut doesn't start with an x, but let's get real here...what legitimate word in my vocabulary does?!?)
Y- YOLO! Cheesy, I know. But it's true. Make this year worth remembering!
Z- Zest for adventure

This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, and even as I was writing I thought of things I could add, but I hope this helps you as you decide what your resolutions will be in the coming year. Most of all, I hope that this year is filled with an abundance of goodness, success and blessings, because we all need more of that in our lives.

Wishing you a happy, safe, and wonderful 2015! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Grand Canyon Escalade

There's a never ending battle between progress and preservation and it can be difficult to know which side of the battle is the right side of the battle. Like a tight rope walker suspended in air with nothing but a wire and my own balance to keep me there, I often find myself rocking back and forth as I try to find the balance. I mean, let's get real here- there are some aspects of progress and development for which I am incredibly thankful. Can you say indoor plumbing and electricity? As much as I am an outdoor enthusiast and love to spend time camping, I am ALWAYS thankful for the opportunity to take a nice hot shower at the end of a camp out. And anyone who has ever had to take care of business in the questionable conditions of some outhouses is likely to sing the praises of a flushing toilet!

But here's the thing...as mentioned in the previous paragraph, I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love camping and hiking in the back country. I grew up outside and I enjoy being able to be in the solitude of nature. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I spend a weekend carrying everything I need to survive in a pack on my back. I know, it's not for everyone, but there is a group that it is for. I belong to that group.

In addition to spending my leisure time out in the back country, as many of you know, I spend my summers working in the Grand Canyon. In my humble opinion, the Grand Canyon really is the last "Great Unkonwn" of civilized America. Even with all the exploration that has been done, the maps that have been created and the goal of bringing the Grand Canyon into the "civilized" world (you can now explore the entire length of the main river corridor via Google maps) the Grand Canyon has been able to maintain its air of pristine isolation. Cell phones don't work in the canyon. Neither do computers. A vacation to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is still about getting back to basics, living in the moment, enjoying nature and reconnecting to the more primal side of life.

Grand Canyon National Park itself boasts just over 1900 square miles. Add in the surrounding undeveloped areas in the form of National Recreation Areas and tribal land and that number increases. It's the type of place where a lifetime of exploration can be spent without ever truly seeing all that it has to offer. It is a place where you can go to reconnect--with nature, with your family, with yourself. It is a place where all that matters is the here and now. It is a refuge for the spirited adventurer, yet still accessible to the masses by way of a commercially guided trip. (And for my money, that sounds pretty well balanced as it is!)

And now, the point of all my ramblings up till now: A new development threatens the unique solitude that is Grand Canyon. Proposed at the confluence of the Little Colorado River (LCR) and the Colorado River itself is a project called The Grand Canyon Escalade.

The Grand Canyon Escalade is basically a tram ride (similar to the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway) that would take passengers from the rim to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the confluence of the LCR and the Colorado River. In conjunction with the tram, there is a proposed amphitheater, shopping experience, and restaurant. Oh, and did I mention the hotel that will be going in during the future expansion stage?

Just the thought of what something like this will do the Grand Canyon breaks my heart. Allowing this to happen would be a disservice to all who come to the Grand Canyon seeking adventure and solitude. There are countless places where one can take in a show, have dinner and do some shopping, but the number of places where one can go to truly experience the peace of seclusion is rapidly declining.

I certainly don’t consider myself a conservationist, but I do think there are times when it is important to protect what we have. So I'm asking you this. Will you take a stand? Will you let your voice be heard on this matter? Educate yourself and make your decision. I know that I have made mine. If you would like, I encourage you to join with me in signing this petition to stop the escalade. If it hadn't been for the opposition of people just like us, we would have lost the Grand Canyon back in the 1950's and 60's to the Marble Canyon Dam and the Bridge Canyon Dam. But the voice of America prevailed and preserved one of the world's great natural wonders.

I could go on and on about the Grand Canyon, but instead, I will leave it to President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1903 stated about the Grand Canyon, "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve upon it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is keep it for your children, and for all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American...should see." (and we don’t need a tram to be able to see it!)

It's the age old battle-progress or preservation. No matter what you decide on this one, shouldn't you at least have an opinion?


Looking up the LCR from the confluence

Looking into the confluence from the the LCR

Friday, April 18, 2014

I Have a Tip For You...

Unless I ask, please, as my server, don't tell me how much to tip you!

I get it. Serving at a restaurant can be tough. People ignore you in favor of their cell phones, they are disrespectful, they treat you as though you are less than human and like they are somehow better than you. It baffles me as well. Therefore, I understand the urge to stick it to your patrons, but, at least as far as my money is concerned, it's REALLY not the best way to get good tips!

Tonight my mom and I went out to dinner. When we were seated our server came to take our drink order. I don't drink soda and my mom doesn't drink caffeine after lunch because it keeps her from sleeping. As a result, we both ordered water to drink. (Boring, I know, but read the vibe of your table, man. If, after several times of you asking I haven't flinched on the fact that I want water, please, quit trying to upsell my beverage choice!)

Our meal arrived and we shared a very enjoyable dinner. It tasted great and we had fun chatting while we ate. As we were finishing up, I ordered a dessert to go. I don't often order dessert when I am out, but tonight was a fun night with my mom so it seemed like a good idea. When our server returned with our dessert and our to go boxes (cause let's face it, there was no hope of me ever finishing the amount of food on my plate) he dropped off our check. I put the $25 gift card we had in the check binder as well as my debit card to cover the small remaining balance. Our server left to run the cards. Now, this is where the night gets frustrating for me. When our server returned to the table with the receipt for me to sign he had circled suggested tip amounts on the receipt. I was so insulted! Do I really come across as the type of person who is an incompetent tipper? And even if I do, how do you justify such arrogance in yourself as to tell me how much I should be tipping you??

Now, allow me to share a little of my own personal arrogance--because of the work I do, I tend to be a great tipper. I understand that tips play a huge role in the income of certain jobs and I do my best to take care of my fellow service industry workers. I also understand how a good tip can make a bad day good, and a good day great. I love being able to put a smile on someone's face in such a way. One of my favorite things to do when I have a gift card is to leave the entire amount of the gift card as a cash tip, because I was going to pay for my meal when I decided to go out anyway. It's just a fun thing to do! But I'll tell you, the second I saw those tip amounts circled on my receipt to call my attention to the "appropriate" amount for me to tip, the amount I had been planning to leave was significantly reduced. I really only left what I did because I know that as a server, you are required to tip out to the other people who assist with your tables- the bartender, the busboy, etc.- and those people were fantastic as far as my table went tonight.

So while I understand the temptation to leave a "subtle" reminder for those you serve, especially if you have been stiffed a time or two, I beg of you, don't do it. Keep the beverages full, a smile on your face and be good at what you do. You will be rewarded for it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weighing In: My thoughts on the Cliven Bundy situation

Imagine that you are living in a house that was built by your ancestors. You love this house. It is a piece of who you are, your heritage. It's a beautiful, one of a kind house, well suited to the needs of your family and the lifestyle you intend to live. It has been in your family for just under 150 years, passed down within the statutes of the law, from generation to generation. Each generation has maintained and cared for the house to the greatest of their ability.

One day, a team comes to your house and informs you they are now in charge of managing your house. There are a lot of people on the team. They are powerful and influential, and in an attempt to keep the peace, you agree to let them become a part of your life and have occasional access granted to your home. (I mean, you're not unreasonable, and your mother did teach you to share with others.)

Then, one day, this team shows up at your house and tells you that they are changing the scope of their management practices regarding your house, whether you like it or not. You are now going to be confined to living in only a portion of the house and the rest of the house will be given to some cats. Yep, I said cats. Naturally, you resist. Surely the management team can't just decide that you no longer have access to a portion of your house? Regardless of your resistance, the cats move in and you share your space. Still, you're not willing to give up without a fight. You begin seeking the help of legal council, you go to court, you do everything in your power to stop the management team from coming in and destroying your way of life and taking your home.

Finally, a court order is issued. It's not in your favor. The management team is coming in to take your home. Supposedly, their action is to protect the cats living in your house, but the same group that is taking your house for the cats is also down the road killing cats because they just can't afford to support them. What is your reaction to the situation? How do you respond to the management agency when they arrive at your home?

I'll give you a minute to think about it...

Now, I realize this isn't a direct translation of events as they are unfolding in Nevada. It would be impossible for me to create a scenario that incorporates all the different facets of the situation, but I believe it hits the highlights. I've thought a lot about this situation over the past several weeks and this is my take on it.

The Cliven Bundy family settled in the Bunkerville, Nevada area in the late 1800's. They established a ranching lifestyle and passed it down from one generation to the next. In 1946 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was established and began assisting with the management of public lands-already in use by a family that had arrived approximately 70 years earlier. Then, in 1993, this same management organization (the BLM) comes in and informs the Cliven Bundy family that they are no longer allowed to use the land because it is a habitat for the vulnerable (not yet endangered) desert tortoise. Never mind that the cattle and the tortoise have been sharing the land for the past 120 years without causing the extinction of the species? Never mind that this family's livelihood was tied up in the land? Never mind that just down the road in Henderson, Nevada, the same government forcing Cliven off his land for the desert tortoise was also planning to euthanize hundreds of the same species due to lack of funding? He was just to succumb to the will of the government and walk away? Wouldn't you resist, if it was your way of life at stake?

So now an unarmed family is being beaten and attacked. They have sniper rifles trained on them and when they tried to question the BLM about their belief that the BLM had begun shooting and disposing of the cattle on the range land, one of the BLM officers grabbed a 57 year old woman and threw her to the ground. Oh, and heaven forbid you should try to help that woman up or come to her defense, because that gets you hit multiple times with a taser, or at the very least, a threat of German shepherd attack dogs and "you'll be next".

I'm fairly certain that this is bigger than cattle and range land. The government must stand to gain A LOT over this, because if they don't, I can't imagine them fighting this intensely. I think it's safe to say that the government may have forgotten that they work for the people of the United States, and not the other way around. Whether you side with Cliven Bundy or not, the actions of the BLM, on site in Nevada, are inexcusable.

Now, for the disclaimer: Yes. I am a Bundy. I am related to Cliven, somewhere down the line. I believe my great, great grandfather is his great grandfather? Someone with better genealogy skills than mine can verify. I'm not claiming 100% innocence for either side of this situation-- such a thing rarely exists, but the BLM, the federal government, definitely crossed a line on this one. At least that's how the view looks from where I sit. Please, keep any posted comments clean and orderly. You are entitled to your opinions as I am entitled to mine. Discussion is one thing, but blatant disrespect for me or anyone else that may post here is not acceptable.