Curing the Zombie Virus and Living Life

With AMC's television series “The Waking Dead”  premiering this month and all the zombie hype for Halloween it's easy to conclude that our culture may have a slight obsession with zombies. Well what would you think if I told you that certain forms of zombies actually exist?

At my job I work with the general public and so I interact with and talk to a large variety of people. Some of the people I assist are homeless, some of them are very wealthy, but most of them fall somewhere in between. Some are friendly, some are unbelievable rude, and some are just a heart beat away from being a zombie.
Have you ever met someone like that? Someone who is so lifeless and stiff? Someone who could fall under the category of the "living dead”? 

I always wonder what causes people to become so lifeless, and I've come to the conclusion it’s a “self protection/preservation” technique. They believe it would be easier to go through their days feeling nothing at all, than to feel the hurt and disappointment that sometimes happens in life.

I never judge these people to harshly because there are days (more than I’d like to admit) where I’ve felt like a “walker”. Not that I get an urge to bite someone’s arm off, but I just stumble out of bed and walk through my day without much joy, excitement, or feeling. I get so caught up in finishing assignments, going to work, and paying bills that I’ve stopped living. My heart is still beating, and my lungs are still breathing -but I have stopped living. I’m just going through the motions. 

When was the last time you felt alive? Really alive?  

If you have a hard time answering that question then you may have “turned” - but don’t worry, you still have a chance of coming back and making a full recovery. I have a few suggestions for fighting and eventually overcoming the symptoms of the "zombie virus".

1. Live with passion. Living with passion doesn't necessarily mean that you have to quit your day job and move to a different country - although you could.  Living with passion means that you have found that thing that gets you excited to wake up in the morning. It could be something as simple as that new recipe that you've been wanting to try, that perfect picture you've been trying to capture, or today could be the day you run farther or lift more than you ever have at the gym. Your passion may be something more complex; graduating from college, raising awareness about a social issue, or helping "at risk" children and teenagers in your community. 

If you can't find your passion, then you may need to create it. You may need to try new things, go to new places, meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone to find out what your passion is. 
“It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

2. Set goals. Setting goals goes hand in hand with having passion for life. Have a dream and then set a goal to make that dream a reality.  Goals help give direction and purpose to our lives.  Write down your goals and look at them everyday. Then get to work achieving them. 

3. Live in the moment and focus on the important. Start Living - really living - by being in the moment. Do those little things that are important. 

In the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder a character who as died looks back on her life and says,

 “That's what it was to be alive. . . To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?”  
Do we realize the minutes that make up our lives? Stop and fully take in the wonderful moments that happen everyday: the sound of your best friend's laugh, the way your significant other holds you, or the taste of your favorite food. These things may not always be the same. Are you letting these moments pass you by because you are to preoccupied with what's on your Facebook news-feed or worrying about tomorrow? Make an effort today to be fully present and to focus on those people and things that are most important to you.

(Toby Keith has a song titled "My List" . It's one of my favorite songs about living in the moment.) 

4. Move your body.  Zombies walk around aimlessly looking for something to consume. Don't thoughtlessly move through life.  We've all know of the physical and mental health benefits that come from exercise but how many of us follow the experts advice? Many people approach exercise as a chore, but we should be moving our bodies for enjoyment. Find that activity that you enjoy. It could be shooting hoops with co-workers after work, going on a walk with your significant other, or a yoga class. Move your body with meaning and purpose- move for enjoyment and fun. Plus if you are fit and in shape, if a zombie apocalypse happens, you'll have a better chance of survival.  

5. Find up lifting humor. Have you ever seen a zombie laugh? Me either. 

I'm sure that some of your best memories include the people you care about and lots of healthy laughter. Laughter can ease stressful situations and release tension. It helps to create new relationships and strengths existing ones. Laughter really is the best medicine - its good for us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Plus its contagious! So share something beautiful and healthy - your laughter.  

6. Have Hope. Hope is one of the most valuable assets that individuals and communities can have. Hope can propel individuals to step beyond their comfort zone and to reach for difficult goals. Erick Erickson is quoted to have said,
 "Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the stat of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain." 
Having the hope that a difficult task can be completed, hope that you can make a difference in the world, or the hope that tomorrow will be a better day can each help to safeguard people from falling into despair.   

To me, zombies have become a metaphor and a reminder tha there are different levels of feeling alive, and each of us has the ability to chose to live more fully and completely. 

If you feel like you have been infected with the "zombie virus" then please realize that you hold the cure within yourself. Life doesn't have to be boring and dreadful. We may not be able to control other people's actions or certain situations, but we can decide how we will respond to setbacks and heartbreaks. We don't have to aimlessly move through life like zombies. Each of us has the power to decide our purpose and direction in life. 

Your value is more than sexual.

My sexuality is an important part of who I am. Sexuality is an important part of being a woman, but it’s not the most important part.

The media portrays women in all sort of different roles, but they are only important if they are sexy and beautiful.  Even worse, in our own society its common for women to be appreciated and admired based solely on their looks.

It has taken me years to overcome the believe that my looks and sexuality are the most important part about being a women, and I just want to share with you a mantra that I tell myself whenever I start to believe society’s lie about women:  

The largest sum of my value does not come from sex. If my sexual appearance diminishes, my value does not diminish. If someone is “sexier” than me, their value does not surpass mine. It is a lie that “a women’s sexuality is what defines her worth.”

I think it’s a message that every women needs to hear, especially teenage girls.

There is an article and a book that I read which helped me to create the above mantra. The article is a talk given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Moral Force of Women”.

The Moral Force of Women

The book is written by Laura M. Brotherson, "And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage Through Sexual Fulfillment"

A They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage Through Sexual Fulfillment.

Sometimes Bad Things Happen

J.R. and I had many fun plans for our summer this year. These plans included things like: camping, mountain bike riding, and celebrating my favorite holiday with BBQs and Rodeos. . . But sometimes unexpected things happen that change your plans. 

And it looks like we've ran into a little bit of bad luck. 

On June 2nd American Express told me, and 60 other people that work in my department, that they are going to outsource our jobs over to India and Mexico. My last day with them will be September 20th. (Unless I find a job before then) ....

But I really look at this as a blessing in disguise. 
I made good money working for American Express - But I really hated it. 

I told myself that once I had been there for a year that I would find a new job. But American Express was reimbursing me for going to school and we get all of J.R.'s diabetic supplies for free with their health insurance. So I was planning on stay a little longer.. Meanwhile each day seemed to be crushing a little bit of my soul.   

I was telling myself, "just stay with this job until we get into a house." ..... But I know myself well, and after we got a house I would have said, "Just stay here until you have your first kid." 

And who knows how long those two things would have taken ?? 
Especially when each day it seemed harder and harder to go into work. And each day I left work less and less happy. . . It could really have ended bad. 

So I look at this obstacle opportunity as a chance to hopefully find a job that I enjoy. 
(There has to be one out there. Right?)

So this was kind of a downer on our summer plans, but we were still going to carrying out most of them. Until...

Our bad luck struck again; this time at J.R.'s softball game. 

J.R. in his softball uniform 

It was a close game, so J.R. decided to run from second base to third base, but he was going to have to slide if he had any chance of being safe. 

And when he slid, his cleat caught the edge of the bag, and it hyper extended his leg. I could tell that he was really hurting but he told me that he "just needed to walk it off." 

Well the next day he could barely walk. So he went to the doctors to have it checked out and after doing some ex-rays and mobility tests they advised him that he would need to see a orthopedic surgeon. In the ex-ray it showed a little piece of a bone had chipped off of his femur and the doctor suspected that he had torn his ACL.   

And sure enough... the Orthopedic Surgeon said that he had torn his ACL 

This meant that J.R. was going to have to have surgery. 
The doctor explained that in order to replace the ACL, they were going to have to go in and cut out a piece of his hamstring. They would then use the hamstring muscle to "recreate" the ACL, and because of this - J.R. was going to lose most of the muscle in his leg. He would be on crutches for at least a week after the surgery and then a brace for a month while his body recovered and healed. Which meant that J.R. wasn't going to be able to go to work for a month. (or really do much of anything) 
And then he would be doing physical therapy for 6-8 weeks to regain the muscle and movement in his leg.

The good new is:  this happened while I still have my health insurance with American Express and J.R. also has health insurance with his work - and so he is double covered. (luckily)

He had his surgery on July 2nd at a hospital in Park City, and because J.R. is diabetic, they wanted him be the first patient of the day. 

So our day started really early. 

This is the hospital entrance. Its a beautiful place, we decided that it reminded us more of a hotel than a hospital.

 This is the waiting room. I counted five fireplaces, but I'm sure that there are more. 

 See what I mean about it looking more like a hotel than a hospital?

 J.R.'s room was room #13 - which is his lucky number.

Then it was time to prep him for surgery. 

A nurse came in and shaved his leg - except for right above his ankle. 

So it left a stylish ring of leg hair around his ankle and lower calf. 
(It's to bad I didn't get a picture)

They also came in and put an IV in his wrist and drew some blood. 

And then they wheeled him away. 

I knew that this wasn't a major surgery on his heart, brain, or spine -
But I was still sooo nervous. 

I truly believe that because of the blessing J.R. received before the surgery, and because of all the prayers from our families and friends, that the surgery went better than the doctor had expected.  

When the doctor got in there with the scope, he could see that the ACL hadn't been torn completely, it was only a partial tear. 
So he was able to repair it without having to cut out any of J.R.'s hamstrings. 

The doctor then cleaned up some damaged cartilage, and re-positioned J.R.'s knee cap because it kept sliding out of place. 

So this means that instead of a six month recovery - 

it will only be about three months. 

This is J.R. right after surgery.
He was still having a hard time waking up from the anesthesia. 

So after being instructed on how to care for him, and what physical therapy exercises he would need to do for the next week, they sent us home. 

J.R. has to have his leg elevated most of the day. He also has to have an "ice cooler" that attaches to an ice pad under his leg brace that will help keep the swelling down. 

So when he isn't laying in our bed, he comes and watches movies on our ghetto futon. 
Or he will play some video games if he is feeling really well. 

We can't take the straight leg brace off until we go to his follow up appointment - and he can't get his leg wet - so J.R. hasn't be able to shower for over a week. 

So he had to wash his hair in the sink.

So this is how we've spent our Fourth of July. It wasn't ideal - But it could have been worse. 

We were able to see part of a firework show from our apartment balcony and while we were watching the fireworks J.R. said, "This surgery has made me realize how much I took for granted. How easy it was to get up and move around. All the simple things." 

 I agree with him. This experience has been really eye opening for me as well. It made me realize exactly HOW much J.R. does around the house, and how much I took our good health for granted.

It helped us to realize how many kind and caring people we have around us who were so willing to bring us dinners and spend time with us in our tiny apartment. Thank you to everyone who helped us out. We really appreciate you. 

I'm just hoping that J.R. recovers quickly and has no long lasting negative side effects.  

A Quality Life

The following is an excerpt from the book Our Search for Happiness 
by M. Russell Ballard. 

"The quality of our lives." It's an interesting phrase. I suspect most people think of this concept in terms of the comforts and conveniences they enjoy. But I prefer to think that the quality of our lives has more to do with substance than style. A quality life is one that positively influences others and makes the world around it a better place in which to live. A quality life is one that is constantly growing, expanding its horizons and enlarging its borders. A quality life is one that is based on eternal potential and not confined to this life only. A quality life is a life well-lived. - But not necessarily a perfect life."  

Elder Ballard goes on to talk about how happiness is the greatest of all riches. He tell a story about when he went on a business trip with, "Three outstanding businessmen, and each had amassed a considerable fortune."  

And when he returned home a few days later from the business trip his wife asked him, "How did you enjoy life in the fastest of all financial fast lanes?"

Elder Ballard responded,
"Honey, we may not have much money or the other things that some people think are so important. But I have a feeling that of the four men on that plane, I was the happiest and, in a way, the richest. I have blessings that money simply cannot buy. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that the things that are most important to me - you, our family, and my love of God - can endure forever." 

He continues in the book by saying, 
"I couldn't help but think of the Savior's words to His disciples when He said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) 
"The treasure we're talking about is a feeling of comfort, peace, and eternal security. Because I know that I'm part of a holy plan designed by a Heavenly Father who loves all of His children equally and who wants them all to achieve eternal success, there's no pressure on me to compete with anyone for worldly acclaim and accomplishment. Please don't misunderstand: There are many good men and women in the Church of considerable means who know and live Heavenly Father's eternal plan. Their contributions to God's kingdom, both spiritually and financially, have been significant. We all want to provide the necessities of life for our families and do the best we can with the talents God has given us. But when we consider from the unique perspective of eternity, fame and popularity aren't nearly as important as loving and being loved; status doesn't mean much when compared to service; and acquiring spiritual knowledge is infinitely more meaningful than acquiring an excess of wealth."
I wrote this post as a reminder for myself of the important truths that Elder Ballard teaches so well.
 And I thought I would share this with you so that hopefully it can bring the same comfort and clarity into your day as it brought into mine. 

Thanks for reading 

Father's Day Fire-pit

It's amazing what can happen when a group of dedicated people put their time and resources together to create something. 

J.R.'s family decided that for Father's Day they wanted to build a brick fire-pit for their dad.

They wanted to build it while John and Shauna were out of town, and so that meant they had a limited time frame and an even more limited budget. 

But with a lot of hard work - they pulled it together. 

They started with a empty corner of the back yard. 

J.R. and Kristen spray painted how they envisioned the fire-pit to look.  

Then they got to work -

J.R. started by tilling up the hard ground. 

After getting the rocky ground mostly level, it was time to "thump" it flat. 

Notice the wheel-barrel full of rocks in the background 

This is the ground after it had been tilled and thumped. 

After the ground was leveled, it was time to add the sand.  
1 Ton of Sand

Next came the really fun part - 

Building the fire-pit. 

And if they look like big kids playing in a sand box, 
that's because it's exactly how it feels to build a fire-pit. 
(except not as fun)  

Even Snuffy wanted to help out.

Next, we laid the brick around the fire-pit.

 This was the probably the most time consuming and back breaking part of the project. 

But it turned out well. 

It's definitely not perfect. 
This was our first time building anything with brick.  

And I think it was more difficult than any of us thought it would be, 
but we finished it in time without breaking the bank. 

When John and Shauna got home that night, they were so surprised to find what we had built. 

We celebrated with a hot dog roast followed by s'mores.

And I'm sure they will be having many more fires this summer.  

So even though it was physically draining and time consuming - 

It was all worth it in the end. 

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

I celebrated my Memorial Day by enjoying my freedom - with the people that I love. 

We went to one of our favorite shooting spots outside the town of Ophir.

Ophir is a small mining town and - as you can see - there isn't much out here. 

We love blasting away at clay pigeons. 

J.R. is "top shot" most of the time -

J.R. and Andy

but I'm not bad with a shotgun. 

J.R. showed me this place the first summer that we met each other. 
We've been on quite a few adventures together, but nothing quite like this place. 

Because this is where J.R. found an abandoned mine. 

Am I going to tell you all about how we explored an old, cold, and dusty abandoned mine; and about how terrifying thrilling it is to be deep inside a mountain? ....


I'll let you come to your own conclusions about that. . . 

Chantel and me

But I am going to tell you that there is nothing as fun and wonderful as creating memories and sharing experiences with the people that you love. 

And then just when I thought that our fun day had come to an end. 

It got even better. 

My little sister Chelsea and I decide that it was time to start getting our family horses back into shape. 

We also got to meet a next door neighbor 

Penny and the Mini.

I call her the "Magic Mini". 
She has one brown eye and one blue eye. 

There is something truly magical about her. 

But I guess you could say that about any horse.

Nothing fades away my worries and cares as fast as horseback riding does. 

With every lap around our small arena my heart becomes happier and more at peace with life.  

I thank Heavenly Father for the all opportunities and experiences that he gives me. 

And I'm looking forward to sharing another amazing summer with my family and friends.