Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Recapturing Beauty Challenge!

The BYU Women's Services and Resources Center is sponsoring a 10 day body image challenge from October 11-20. I'm doing it, and you should too! You just give them your email address and they will email you the packet of information (which means some of you far-away-friends can probably participate too!) There is a simple challenge for each day, such as learning about God's definition of beauty, maintaining positive thoughts, or simply taking a nap. Plus, you get an awesome free t-shirt!

Yeah, it's pretty much a win-win situation. And I can't wait!

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's All About Your Heart.

It's all about your heart
Image found here. 

Have you listened to Mindy Gledhill's awesome new album? I love it. I can't get enough of it. The best song  is "All About Your Heart," written for the amazing Stephanie Neilsen. If you haven't heard her story, click here. If you haven't read her splendidly candid blog, click here. 

Whenever I feel like overwhelmed and inadequate, I close my eyes, turn on that song, and let the Spirit seep into my heart. It's like a love letter from my Heavenly Father to me. Every time I listen to it, the Spirit confirms that this is just how God feels about me, and all of His children.  

Oh, I've loved you from the start
In every single way
And more each passing day
You are brighter than the stars
Believe me when I say
It's not about your scars
It's all about your heart

I know that I am imperfect. I know that I mess up. But the Lord doesn't mind that so much. "It's not about your past and your scars," He says. "It's all about your heart." He knows that my intentions are good and that my heart longs to do what is right, even if my hands can't seem to make that happen. I am special to Him. I am His daughter. He has created me with unique gifts and a special mission in this life. He loves me perfectly, and no matter what happens, I know He always will. 

I wish I had the words to express how very grateful I am for that beautiful knowledge!

(PS- Mindy Gledhill is performing at a free concert this Friday, if you're in Utah Valley and want to go. Click here!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Staying Balanced in a Turbulent World

Image found here.

I have a friend who is an amazing woman. At her best, she is full of testimony and conviction, radiant with the love of Christ, and a joy to be with. Being with her makes me want to be a better person. But in recent years, she has changed. She has become busy with work and school and research and volunteering and many good things. She has great desires to serve and do amazing things in this world, but in pursuing that she has lost the light and joy in her eyes. She is tired and burdened. She is not happy. 

I miss the girl she used to be, her happy self, her best self, her true self. She has grown so busy with preparing to serve in the future that she has no energy left to serve right now, much less enjoy it. Maybe if she knew how her simple joy and goodness has blessed me, she would de-clutter her life and try to remember the girl she used to be. Oh, how I wish she would. 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote:

Woman today is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs, but still ignorant of what will satisfy them. With our garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them. With our pitchers, we attempt sometimes to water a field, not a garden. We throw ourselves indiscriminantly into committees and causes. Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distractions. Instead of stilling the center, the axis of the wheels, we add more centrifugal activities to our lives - which tend to throw us off balance. Mechanically we have gained, in the last generation, but spiritually we have, I think, unwittingly lost.

Fortunately, the Gospel of Jesus Christ provides the answer. When we make time to have a relationship with God and choose to make Him the center of our lives, the wheel slows down. We have peace in our souls and a greater capacity to serve. Our needs are satisfied. 

This week has been so busy as I've tried to balance tests, papers, my social life, my spirituality, and that lovely little thing called sleep. There have been times when I have been tempted to skip my prayers or daily scripture study, but each time I have chosen to put my relationship with Heavenly Father first, I have been blessed. I have been more productive, more peaceful, and more joyful. I have learned that I must make God my first priority if I want to accomplish good things and be happy while I'm doing it. 

If you find yourself feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, depressed, burdened, or unhappy, ask yourself these questions:
*Have I talked to my Heavenly Father today?
*Have I read the scriptures today?
*How is my spiritual standing? What can I do to improve it?

I find that whenever I feel sad or overwhelmed, it is because I have forgotten to make God my first priority. It is impossible to be truly happy when He is not first in our lives. But here is the remarkable thing - as soon as I ask forgiveness for my carelessness and strive to improve my spirituality, my heart is filled with peace and joy. I can feel God's forgiveness and love for me. 

Our Heavenly Father desires so earnestly for us to come unto Him. He can make your life amazingly joyful if you will just let Him into your life. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Focusing on our Strengths

Image found here.

First thing in my dance class this morning, our teacher sat us down. "We need to have a serious talk," she told the class. 

"I know that you focus so much on your weaknesses, because that's just how we are. We don't say to ourselves at the end of the day, 'I am just so awesome! I did a million things right!' People just aren't naturally like that. 

"Today, I want to focus on your strengths. I really think that you need to be just as aware of them as you are of your weaknesses. That way, instead of starting where you lack and trying to get better, you can start with what you are good at and build from there."

So she told each of us, by name, in front of the whole class, what gifts she saw in us. It was absolutely beautiful. I could feel each heart open and the class truly become a unified whole. 

It was marvelous to hear about the other dancers' strengths. Erika dances with passion. Matt is a born performer. Cassie is open and pure. Lindsey is an eternal optimist. Stephanie is grounded and full of strength. Jonathan has explosive energy. I too have seen these qualities in my classmates but haven't always been able to define them in words. Identifying each person's strengths helped me realize what a remarkable group we are. Our gifts fill each others' gaps. We help another. We reach new heights as we depend on and build off of each other.

And then, towards the end, my turn came. I was a little nervous, because I have really struggled in this class. I don't have the training and experience that my classmates do. I see so many weaknesses in my dancing. I wondered what she would say about me. 

"Tasha," the instructor began quietly, "has remarkable confidence and courage. Sometimes she lets herself forget that, but she always picks herself back up and keeps trying. Each day that she walks through that door is a powerful act of confidence. She shows that she is not afraid to try hard things, and I think the Lord is pleased with that. He wants to us do things that are difficult, because they help us grow. Tasha is not afraid to do that which is hard."

To hear those words of praise from the teacher of a class I struggle in, from someone who has seen my weaknesses and evaluated them with a number - that meant the world to me.

Why don't we do this more often? Why do we focus so much on weakness in ourselves, in our peers, in our communities? Why are we so obsessed with the negative? Negativity does not bring life or growth. It does not motivate me to keep trying. But when I think about positive things like my potential or my strengths or the help my Heavenly Father has promised me, I find the strength and desire to keep moving forward. 

Let us become more positive. Let us appreciate the goodness in ourselves, in our friends, and in the world around us. Let us fill our lives with the energy of positivity and the Love of God. I truly believe that these are the factors that can change our hearts and better the world.


 ‘Be not faithless, but believing.’ Believe in yourselves, in your capacity as a son or daughter of God, to do great and good things. 
-President Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, September 17, 2010


Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Brainwash.

Oh, and have a wonderful weekend :]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Me versus Study Abroad

 Brunelleschi's Dome. Image found here.

Today was the study abroad fair, and of course, there is going to be an Art History study abroad this Spring in Europe. And my heart longs to go. 

At first I thought that I might have a chance. They offer a lot of different scholarships, and if I was awarded enough money I could probably make it, right? But as I added up the totals I realized that it just isn't going to work. If I won awards from every organization, then I could go. But the truth is, I'm not going to win all of those awards. I could probably get something, but not enough. I can't afford it. I could take out loans, telling myself that it is a good experience and valuable to my education, but that doesn't seem right either, because deep down inside, I know that I need to bloom where I'm planted and lift where I stand.

After this disappointment set in, I became angry. Why do they have to have this study abroad information floating around every year? Every time I hear about it I want to go but I can't, and it is painful. Why can't the study abroad people just go away?!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is not their fault. The reason I feel unhappy about the study abroad thing is because it has made me so selfish and focused on myself. When they introduce it each year, I start to think that I am entitled to go to Europe because I'm an art history major. I am perfectly happy until I recognize that there is something I can't have. I forget how very blessed I am.

I find comfort in the example of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, whose education was in the Humanities and was funded by student loans and the sweat of his own brow. I'm sure he would have liked to have gone abroad too. But I am grateful for the sacrifices he made, for they made him the amazing man he is and make these words from "The Inconvenient Messiah" so much more powerful:

It is not easy to go without - without physical gratifications or spiritual assurances or material possessions - but sometimes we must since there is no guarantee of convenience written into our Christian covenant. We must work hard and do right, as Abraham Lincoln said, and sometimes our chance will come. And when we've tried, really tried, and waited for what seemed never to be ours, then "the angels came and ministered unto him."

So here is the fact of the matter: I don't need to go to Europe. I don't deserve to go to Europe. If the Lord wanted me to go, He would open up the windows of heaven and provide a way for me to get there - but He doesn't. I need to stay right here and soak up the richness of my life - my loving and supportive family, my incredible friends who love me for who I am, my high-quality education gained on a spiritually-enriched campus, my classes that allow me to sing and dance and write and create art, my calling that teaches me to serve, my opportunities to grow closer to the Savior and through His Atonement obtain eternal life.

No. I don't need anything else. God has blessed me with a beautiful life, and I am going to be better at cherishing each moment of it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This weekend...

A group of my favorite people went down to Zion to do some camping and hiking. And it was spectacular.

narrows 3

narrows 2

narrows group


And as if that wasn't wonderful enough, we got to hear from Julie B. Beck, Jeffrey R. Holland, Boyd K. Packer, and Richard G. Scott today. And I got to have dinner with my amazing sister. And meet with amazing women in my ward to plan how we are going to serve other ward members.

Yep, my weekend was pretty much perfect.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Take me higher

Photo by John H. Maw

I started fall semester last week, and with it an intermediate contemporary dance class. I was rather intimidated on the first day. It seemed that all of my classmates were Music-Dance-Theater majors and lifelong dancers looked flawless and moved beautifully. That's not who I am. I just dance for fun. But with all this talent around me, I wondered, would the semester be fun?

"We are not going to compare or criticize ourselves," our instructor declared. "We are all artists and beautiful children of God. We each have a story to tell. And the moment we look in the mirror and start thinking negatively about ourselves or others, we prevent our message from being shared. We are NOT going to let that happen."

But when we really got dancing on the second day of class, I did allow that to happen. With every movement, I felt like I was falling behind the other dancers. When they performed, they seemed to glide across the floor with the grace of swans. I felt like all I could do was flail my arms and legs like a beetle stuck on its back, trying in vain to roll over, wishing in vain to dance as beautifully as my swan classmates. And of course there were others in the class who, like me, didn't pick up the moves as quickly or gracefully, but in the midst of my pity-party I did not notice. All I could think of was how horrible I was, how I could never be a real dancer, that I should probably drop the class and stick with beginning dance classes for the rest of my college career.

Friday I came back to class, still discouraged. It didn't take long for me to start criticizing myself again, but then my teacher's wise words popped into my mind: "We are all artists and beautiful children of God. We each have a story to tell." I decided that I would make this a private battle, that I would stop comparing myself to others and focus on my own progression. Sure, I could drop the class and stay where I was comfortable, but how would I be able to grow? How would I learn to tell my story if I stopped here? 

That decision has made all the difference.

(It's funny how we become so much freer once we finally let go and forget ourselves.)

Why do I dance? Not to look better than others, or to even look good at all. I dance to share the story of how Jesus Christ's Atonement has transformed me, and how it continues to change me each day. It is the same reason why I write, why I sing, why I serve, why I live - to testify of my Savior and invite others to come unto Him.

We're learning a combination to the song "Higher" by Cindy Morgan. As I do the spins and arabesques, I wobble, I forget the combination, I am imperfect. But that is part of my story. None of us can walk through this life without stumbling and falling, but what matters is that we look to the Redeemer to help us get back up and continue on the journey. 

Each day that I dance, I learn that Jesus Christ truly does take me higher than I could ever reach on my own.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
-Winston Churchill

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finger Burns

Today I grabbed a pan that I didn't realize was hot and burned the fingertips on my right hand.
I've been carrying around bags of frozen peas and ice-cold juice boxes for the last 5 hours.
Each time I loosen my grip on that frozen Minute-Maid fruit punch
it hurts terribly. 
Which makes it hard to blog,
and gives me even more respect and awe for Stephanie Nielson.
I can't imagine having burns all over my body.
So kneel by my bed
and thank the Lord
for my small amount of pain
but mostly
for His miraculous power
that heals both body and soul.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


...I can't do anything right. 

But that's what God is for.

"I will cling to the rope God has thrown me in Jesus Christ, even when my numb hands can no longer feel it." -Sophie Scholl

"You may not be a genius. You may not be exceptionally smart. But you can be good, and you can try. And you will be amazed at what might happen when in faith you take a step forward." - Gordon B. Hinckley