Friday, March 25, 2016

Preparation Days

I got a flu shot today. I don't usually get the flu shot, however my friend Kimberly had a close friend and multiple acquaintances hospitalized and pass away last week due to the H1N1 swine flu in a town roughly 2 hours south of where I live. This saddens me and we are praying for her and those families. We are also getting our flu shots, to cover our bases.

I hope I don't get a bad case of the flu from the vaccine, as we have plans for Easter. However, it is better than the alternative.

Preparation is often harder than I would guess. Perhaps I encourage flakes of pride to mar my patient exterior. I do not always see a need for such strangely timely preparation. Often, this preparation is pushed upon me. Eventually, I do see the need for these experience- usually long afterward. Figures.

1. Mission- There were a couple of months before I received my mission call, that I was chomping at the bit. Before that period of restlessness, I was secure in my decision. However, when I got to the point of actually leaving for my mission, I felt like I'd taken a running start. That momentum of emotion propelled me through the hardest times of my mission and helped the time go faster in the interminable early months.

2. Marriage- I was really on the fence about Charles for a couple of months in our dating period. Once I made the decision to marry him, I didn't feel nearly as panicked about the outcome. The calming effect of making a choice and the resulting faith in that choice was a salve to my youthful distrust of my own long-term decision-making skills. I felt prepared for the fallout. Charles still called me the morning of our wedding to make sure I was going to show up.

3. IVF- One of the most difficult parts of not having a child, is wondering if it will every happen for you. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite fairy tale. Fairy tale stories about wanting a child and trading any manner of valuable things for one didn't hit my truth center until our first unsuccessful attempt. I love money, and if I'm willing to trade it for a baby, you know babies must be important.

4. Running- When I lived in Germany with my cousin Danielle, she invited me to run with her running group. They had just begun training for a half marathon when I arrived. However, I left Germany about a week before the race. Since I had trained for running long distances, I was then able to participate in two half marathons that summer in Juneau and Skagway Alaska.

When I worked in Emeryville, CA my company also participated in two  relay races that we prepared for as a team. We would run in the afternoons and increase our distances until the races happened. It was a great team building activity in both cases and was lots of fun.

However, I noticed the more preparation I put into running long distances, the better off my knees were at the end of each race. My knees hurt to varying degrees when I finished, but I know the worst cases of stiffness were when I wasn't running long enough distances during my training. The last relay race I did, I could barely walk myself to the finish line.

5. Food- There was a time when I would come home from school and eat ramen or a burrito every day around 3 PM. It seems I have grown past ramen and burritos and have moved on to vegetables and other grown up foods. The longer preparation times yields great results and I usually have plenty of time to prepare these things into food more satisfying than ramen. I still love burritos, but they are not so plentiful in my life these days.

6. Art- I have an affinity for tiny things. I love shadow boxes and the intricate miniatures they house. I have realized, as I go in and out of artistic phases, that the longer a person takes on a certain piece of artwork, the more valuable it becomes. In high school, I worked on a drawing of different body parts, which also displayed the different types of shading.

A girl saw it in the art room and asked the art teacher if I'd sell it. He directed her to my next class. When the girl asked me how much I'd like for it, I said, "I don't know...$20?" She was pleased as punch at my asking price. Later, when I told my teacher how much I'd sold it for, he said I could have asked for more since I'd spent so much time on it. Since I had no illusions of grandeur about my artistic talent, I hadn't expected anyone to pay more than $20 for my work.

Artistic development gives you the benefit of spending time expressing what you see in a particular medium. If you do not prepare this medium with adequate work, your finished product will be basic, uninteresting, and harder for yourself and others to appreciate. The most rewarding artistic creations I've worked on have taken serious time investments and have improved with the time invested in them. That said, there is also a point where you need to stop working on a project, so you don't get bogged down in an impossible quest for perfection with that piece.

7. Tests and other hard things- I've never been very good at taking tests. I feel panic-stricken and second guess every answer I write down. I do not have great confidence in the answers I will chose, and I shoot myself in the foot as I go along by checking and rechecking my test when I have finished.

The more preparation and studying involved, the more confident I feel. It's the same with injecting myself with needles and moving houses. These things are hard, but if you think about the end result of taking tests or finishing difficult projects, your perspective changes. This change of perspective can also enlarge your hope and faith in good things to follow.

I know as we prepare for different challenges, we can feel the boon of hope provided to us by our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. If we pray, read our scriptures, and climb from our shells...or apartments every so often, we will have enriched lives despite ourselves.

As we serve others and stock up on food storage, we are preparing for future challenges. This preparation also makes us aware of the past and present blessings we receive and so often gloss over.

I am currently preparing to work some clay. It's been a while. I'm currently preparing to invite people over. It's been a while. I'm currently driving our stick shift car, Professor Plum. It's been a while. I am currently preparing to run and clear away some of my body rust, as I have been starting to crust over.

These changes can be spur of the moment and often turn into good habits. I see now that I should prepare to change.

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