Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Am I Playing Favorites If I Like It All?

'Tis better to give than receive; so I'm giving thanks for what I have received.

I know it has been about a month since Christmas but maybe that is the requisite amount of time to really break-in the Christmas gifts and form concrete opinions about them. Christmas is different now that I am older. I have more specific tastes, I don't just want a thing but very specific version of that thing - brand, style, and color. Also, theoretically, as I get older I can just buy what I want myself, making it harder to come up with a wishlist. This year, that wasn't really true since I'm a full-time student and I quit my very part-time job just before Halloween. So I had a wishlist and it was so fun to get things I had wanted but couldn't buy myself. Here are my 3 favorite presents from my wonderful and generous parents.

1) Braun/Oral-B Professional Care 8850 DLX Power Toothbrush. I have wanted one of these for several years but could never justify spending more on this than the cumulative total cost of every toothbrush I have ever bought. I am now truly converted! It was worth every penny, I know that's easy to say when it was someone else's money, but it really is, I could do their commercials. My teeth are so shiny and whiter and I feel like I just left the dentist every morning and night.

2) Arrested Development Season 1 and 2 DVDs. What a brillant show, bittersweet to watch with the cancellation rumors, but so funny. I can see the few episodes I missed, enjoy the extras, and increase my crush on Jason Bateman. And now my dad is hooked too, we watched the first season together and I left the season 2 DVDs with him so he could watch them (I just got them back in the mail so now I can sleep through the night having them back in my custody).

3) Black oiled professional Dansko clogs. I fell in love with another pair of Danskos during my clinical rotations for nursing school. So many people told me that I needed them for nursing and after 8 hours on my feet at the hospital, I can tell you there were right. But those shoes are bright white, soles and all. I'm getting older and care less what other people think about my fashion sense but still couldn't bring myself to wear them in public with jeans. Now I have a respectable pair of black ones that are possibly even more comfy than the white ones.

I still smile everytime I use any of these things so it's good I got that super-fancy toothbrush.

What are some of your favorite presents, received or given?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Yay for Portland!

Just in case you weren't yet convinced Portland is the best city in the US.

Portland Rawks!!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thailand Memories and Volunteer Opportunities

Today I got an email from a friend I met while we were both in Thailand. She is back there working on a project to find honest wholesalers to sell the pearls directly to the artisans who create jewelry with the pearls. The goal is to cut out the middlemen so that ultimately the artisans would receive a fair profit from their work. A similar program is already underway in The Philippines.

Her email was short but brought back so many memories of the time I spent there last summer. As a nursing student, I had 4 months off during the summer and after searching for weeks for a humanitarian project to join, I heard about the Wave of Hope project. It is an NGO started by BYU students who were part of a social entrepreneur/global change agent program and was part of a larger group called Empowering Nations. I was blessed with the chance to spend 5 weeks in Thailand, 4 weeks working in Khao Lak and 1 as a tourist in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Khao Lak, where we stayed, is a small town about 60 km north of Phuket, in an area that was devasted by the tsunami in December 2004. I spent my days building houses out of concrete blocks in a small village, Tap Tawaan, about 20 km farther outside of Khao Lak.

I think about that trip almost everyday. I can't believe the impact this experience had on my life. I'm not even sure I realized it when I was there but it probably holds a place in my heart and mind equal to my mission. Yep, tearing up right now just thinking about it; it's hard to type when blurry-eyed.

I miss the wonderful hotel, The Baan Krating, where I was lucky enough to have air-conditioning and Jaime, a friend from home, as my roommate. I miss the restaurants with the best Thai food ever and so cheap. I miss being somewhere that the only time I was in a room with walls was either church or the hotel. But most of all, I miss the feelings I had while there. I miss the wonderful people I worked with. I loved helping and laughing and working so hard but feeling so good. I loved the Spirit that permeated my days spent surrounded by other socially-conscious people who love one another and act on their beliefs.

So if this sounds like something you would like to do, this same organization is planning another trip for Summer 2006. There are plans to go to Africa, South America, and back to Thailand. I got an email about it recently, however, I don't think all of the information is on the Empowering Nations website yet, so please check back if you might be able to help.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Wow, over a month since my last post; I took quite the extended Christmas break.

Now I'm back, and on a philosophical tangent.

Between New Year's resolutions, starting a new term in school, realizing I graduate this year, trying to figure out what area I want to work in, and that with a nursing degree, I could move anywhere, lots of things are currently or will soon change in my life. Change is sometimes difficult (duh) but when I get through it and know I am a better, stronger person, I feel proud of myself.

In French, there are two words for pride. One, orgueil, has a negative connotation we Americans usually associate with pride. The other, fierté, is a positive thing.

So I'm wondering and asking for your input on this. Can you have a good kind of pride, especially in yourself and your accomplishments? What do you call that - pride? self-respect? what? Is that too non-humble (trying to not use the pride since that is what I am trying to define)?

And what about the gospel aspect of this question - Recognizing the Lord's hand in all things, giving thanks for the blessings and strength I've been given that allow me to accomplish those goals or get through school? Should my pride or excitement be limited to the fact that I only use the tools and talents I have been given.

Should I just say things like, "Wow, I survived," "Yep, it was hard," or if I throw humility to the wind and am completely self-promotional, "I'm excited for myself!"

I'm expecting lots of praise in the near future so I need to know just how smug I can be.