life

What I learned from Bullet Journaling

12:56 PM

A lot of people are super into Bullet Journaling right now and anyone with a Pinterest can see how creative and cute people can get with it. As a pretty avid journaler and planner, I thought this was the perfect thing for me. I am not as artsy as some, but I love doodling with letters. In my old journals, I included many designs, doodles, lists, plans, and even taped things in when I really wanted to save something but didn't have a good place for it. I'm not a scrapbooker - this is as close as I get.

Anyway, I bought a new journal for 2017 and decided I was going to be more deliberate about my planning and my creativity. I pinned like a million different spreads on Pinterest, followed several Instagram accounts and began brainstorming ideas like a crazy person.

It was a lot of fun! I spent every Sunday creating my weekly spreads and writing my goals. I implemented all of my planning and goal-setting skills from my missionary days and became a more effective person because of it! My to-do lists grew, and I felt more organized by getting a handle on my planning.

This lasted for a solid 2 and a half months until we went on a 10-day road trip.

I really wanted to write about the trip and then get back to bullet journaling, but honestly I was so out of practice for writing in my journal that it just never got done. Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months and suddenly it was the middle of June and I still hadn't finished writing about that road trip from March. I also hadn't been planning as much. I began to realize that maybe bullet journaling was a little bit more work than I was able to chew.

Here are some awesome things about bullet journaling:

The monthly spread

I sincerely loved doing this and I plan on keeping up with it! I love the habit tracker - it's been the best thing for me to develop and maintain habits. If I'm writing it down, I'm much more likely to do it. Plus it's fun and cute and colorful and is a great separator for the months. So I'm definitely keeping this.

Specific spreads
I think it's great to have a space where you can plan out parties, create a budget, write a chore list or a list of your favorite TV shows. This is totally up my ally because I love lists, I love planning, and I love making the page look cute with fun fonts and colors. I also made a spread in my journal for Matt's monthly updates. Yes, I know it's all on Instagram but this way I could keep the cute sticker and have all the updates in one place.

Things that were hard:

Weekly spreads
I was a bit of an overachiever sometimes adding a water and step tracker and setting more goals for the week. Don't get my wrong I LOVE goals. But I had a tendency to set too many goals during the week that would steer away from my monthly goals and I'd just get too ahead of myself. I think in the future I will focus on smaller, more achievable goals that are ~actually broken down from my monthly ones.

Also, while I liked the way they looked and functioned, it was just a lot of work. It took me a few hours on Sunday to create my new spread for the following week and honestly that's just a lot of time to devote to drawing boxes? Sometimes that's super fun and therapeutic, but I didn't like it being an obligatory part of my planning.

A lack of journaling.

I left myself about a half page to journal for the week. I mean, that's better than nothing. But when I look back at times of my life where I wrote every day, this gave me opportunities to really open up and write about things that matter. It became a personal and even spiritual thing and I felt the lack of that. I missed having a space where I ~could write every day if I wanted to. I knew that I wanted it back again.

In the end, I learned a lot. And if you love bullet journaling then by all means go for it! I think it's a great creative way to be more effective, plan out your life, and keep track of everything. For me, I definitely found elements I love but am ultimately following a different path which I'll blog about another time.

lauren

Writing, A History

11:07 AM

When I was a little girl, my dream job was to be a novelist. So I wrote a novel when I was ten. It was called “The Underground City” and followed the adventures of Kaylee and Kelly who went down a slide at my own elementary school playground and ended up in a land like unto Oz. I wrote a whopping 100 page book which I later gave to my friend and never saw again. I went on to come up with other ideas for novels that never panned out and enjoyed writing essays throughout my school years. I loved spelling and grammar, reading books, and telling stories. I journaled every day.
When blogging was becoming the new, cool thing my family moved overseas to Tahiti. I thought I would have the coolest blog bragging about my adventures overseas. I wrote about the ocean, strange foods, and my issues with abc.com for not streaming Lost outside of the US. I lasted about six months before I found my new calling: MOVIES.
I started a blog entitled “Some People Like Movies” in 2009. I wrote reviews of the few films I could get ahold of at the rental store, analyses of Alfred Hitchcock movies, and top ten lists. After returning home from early morning seminary I would read movie blogs for hours and hours. Despite the obvious ~teenager feel, this has been my most successful blog to date generating a few ~hits, mostly from fellow movie bloggers I met on the internet. I was proud of the blog and I continued writing on and off until 2015 where I lacked the confidence to write more. I was afraid to share my opinion and afraid that people would think it was lame to obsess over movies so much. It still exists, though, and I may write again so check it out if you're into that kind of thing.
Somewhere in the middle I started another personal blog called “Of All the Gin Joints In the World” named after the famous line from “Casablanca.” This blog detailed my college adventures, my opinions, more essays and commentary. It was a lot of fun, and I used some of those blog posts on my application for BYU’s Communications program to which I was accepted. The blog also includes my weekly emails home from Japan where I served as an LDS missionary. I stopped blogging there in 2014, though those posts are still available for view on this website.
At BYU I had the opportunity to write for the Daily Universe as a sports reporter in 2016. I covered the club sports like lacrosse, rugby, and hockey and thoroughly enjoyed going to the sporting events, getting to know the coaches and players, and learning an entirely new style of writing. It was a great experience.
Writing has been a large part of my life for many years. I used to always think I had it in me to pursue journalism professionally. Now I have a family and I don’t see that as the path I want to follow, but I think there’s a way I can keep this talent as a solid side-hobby. I'm a mostly SAHM with some spare time here and there for good old fashioned creativity. I would like to write again, if it please the court.

bucket list

some more buckets

10:17 AM

Why did I get on that tangent yesterday?

Oh right. My bucket list. I was looking at it. And I realized that I've accomplished a lot of noteworthy things in two years. I crossed stuff off. Go ahead. Hate away. Call me pretentious while I talk about how awesome my life is. Whatever, guys. You all should know by now that despite the cool things I do and the awesome things that happen to me sometimes - I really don't have it all together, and my life is a mess, too. So don't get jealous. You don't really want to be me. I'm up front with the stuff I do wrong so I'll be up front with the stuff I do right, too. OKAY.


What happens when you have a really bad day and you fail a test (Tuesday) is you start grasping for anything that'll make you feel better about yourself. And this helped. So here's a look back on 2 years and Summer 2014. Most of these were on my list and I was able to cross them off. A few weren't, but they were nonetheless bucket list worthy.

bucket list

something about buckets

1:35 PM

So my companions on the miss mish (I'm REALLY sick of mish always autocorrecting to miss or sometimes mush. Mish is a WORD) would make fun of me for my bucket list. And hey, they should hate away. It's rather extensive.

I've been doing some thinking about bucket lists though. And I've even been doing some hating myself.

I feel like this is such a typical blogger/social media thing. Everyone is soooo into their bucket lists and all it does is make readers roll their eyes at how pretentious the writer is. Sometimes I see trends on Twitter where people are hash taggin' their bucket lists and I'm just like who ARE you people? "I want to take a picture of my outfit every dayyyy" cuz you're rich enough to buy everything from j crew&anthropologie. "I want to learn how to tattoo and tattoo myself" even if it looks like a ten year old attacked you with a crayon "I want to live my life with no regrets and dance in the rain" or whatever that cheesy saying is "I want to blow bubbles with bae" just STOP SAYING BAE THIS DOESN'T NEED TO BE A THING AND THIS IS STUPID. You know what's on my bucket list? Fight a BEAR. And WIN.

Here I am hating on other people's bucket lists, jeez. I really have no room to talk. My own bucket list stemmed from a family home evening activity when I was twelve. In the Mormon-world, Monday nights are devoted to family time in this cute little acronym-ed evening called FHE. These activities were rather sporadic when I was a teen because I was the only child living at home and we were often on different schedules. But this particular night still stands out to me and we (all three of us, baby) sat down and talked about our dreams. I think I love this memory so much because not only did I first begin to open my mind to the potential and possibilities for my life, but I also was able to get to know my parents in a different way by hearing about what THEY dreamed about.

You can tell this stemmed from the brain of a 12-year-old because it's like automatic NUMBER ONE SKYDIVING since that's, like, everyone's go-to and then BAM number two is to get my Young Women award thing from church since, like, duh. It was on my mind. This list has stuck with me for over ten years, though. This is why I can't be a true hater - I mean we go way back, bro. I still love my list and the goals I have set for myself. Granted, it has evolved over the years and some of the items from back then were just silly. Like watch all 6 Star Wars and all 3 extended versions of Lord of the Rings in one sitting. Which I did. When I was fourteen. Because I'm AWESOME. ANYWAY, the list thing has helped give me a vision of what I want to accomplish in life and I'm all for that. It's been a way to keep track of things I have done and write down whenever I do have goals for myself. Like every single time I pay rent I add "have more money" to my list. Or every time I watch a James Dean movie I add "marry James Dean" but then that isn't possible because he's dead. That's the only thing getting in the way of that relationship, obvs.

But I've decided not to get hung up on my "list" anymore - and I feel good about this decision. Oh, my list will still be there. But I will not let it detract from that wonderful lil thing called spontaneity. Some of the greatest "bucket-list-worthy" adventures I've been on came from no list, from no pre-planned ideas, just from friends being idiots and wanting to experience life and recklessly discover. I can't write down every single "awesome" thing that I want to experience with my life preemptively. So as great as it is to check things off a list... Sometimes I need to remind myself to just take a step back and remember to experience life as it comes.

As Dan says in Dan in Real Life, "instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised."




p.s. Do you have a bucket list? Are you a hater? I'd love to hear.



life

stories on rejection: from japan to the call center

1:16 PM

Over the summer, I decided to work two jobs for a while to earn a little extra money. And by for a while, I mean for about a month and a half. I wasn't working full time at the MTC and once spring let out of school I had a lot of free time with not that much money. So I applied around, I interviewed at a bunch of places, and I wound up with a job at a call center. #livingthedream.

I'd heard plenty of horror stories about call centers. And it's not like I was looking forward to making calls straight for four hours. But I was far past the point of caring what kind of work I did as long as it paid. And, well, to be honest it wasn't that bad.

1. It paid decent enough. I scraped in around $10 an hour with opportunities for bonus money every day.
2. It was super easy. I felt like I was as good as any other employee after four days of calling. You pretty much just sit there and wait for the computer to make a call for you and then read a script. And, like, I'm pretty good at talking or something.
3. It was convenient. Close by, the hours fit in well with my other job, and I didn't feel the pressure of staying on into the school year.
4. They generally played pretty good music.
5. It wasn't straight cold calling. The people had at least checked a box online that we could contact them (whether or not they knew they were doing that is a different story - but it's still better than cold calls). And we were providing a good service by telling people about educational opportunities in their area. Anything's better than sales.
6. Pizza Fridays. Also Rebecca Black on repeat Fridays (you win some, you lose some).

My Sodalicious addiction began with this job.
Dirty Dr. Pepper for daysssss.

People knock on call centers mainly because of the mean people. This part bothered me the least.  My coworkers would get down when they just got hang ups all day and I'm like, "Hey, who cares? You get to talk less, ammiright?" Really, it doesn't get all that much worse than a hang up. But, like, I hang up on telemarketers all the time, so who am I to hate? I'll admit, there were days where people were just flat out rude and go off on insulting me and I'm like, "Sir, you haven't even seen my face so how can you know I'm ugly?" Seriously, people need to think through their insults more. But in the end I was mostly just entertained when people got rude. It provided for some great tweeting material and stories to tell at the end of the day.

#callcenterprobs
[Going through qualifying questions]
"How old are you?"
"18."
"What year did you graduate high school?"
"2014"
"Are you currently enrolled in school?"
"No."
"Are you a US citizen?"
"No."
"Okay, are you a permanent resident?"
"No, I'm here illegally."
"Oh are you?"
"Yeah, I'm from Africa and I'm actually really worried that they're gonna kick me out of the US."
"Sure you are."
"Yeah, I mean like I've got AIDS and I don't know what to do cuz I left my parents back in Africa and they got eaten by lions!"

Of course they did.


Other Call Center greatest hits:

Customer: "Who's calling my damn phone?"
Me: "Hi, may I speak with Angela, please?"
"No you may NOT!" *click*


"No, I don't want any education EVER. I'm stupid and I just want to get belligerently drunk all the time so could you please stop calling?"


75 year old man: "Listen, honey, I don't really care about what you have to say and I don't want to listen. But if no one else has told you yet today, I love you. Bye!"


"Nah, I'm not interested. But listen Lauren, you have a really cute voice. You give me a call when you get off work, okay?"


Me: "Are you just not interested for the moment? Or not at all?"
"Not at all for the moment."
"...That doesn't answer my question."


"Sorry, I'm in the shower."
"Then why did you answer the phone...?"


Me: "We're calling because we saw you were online looking for career and education opportunities..."
"I can't use a computer, I don't even know what offline is to go online!" (someone actually said that once).


"Hi, may I speak with Walter?"
"Who is this?"
"This is Lauren from the blah blah blah center."
"Where are you calling from?"
"We're located in Utah."
"Are you Mormon?"
"Yes, actually I am Mormon."
"Oh, I don't talk to Mormons." *click*

I can never escape that one, I guess.


Freak, I served a mission. I guess the rejection over the phone really never phased me because nothing can top the rejection I got every single day as a missionary in Japan. You can say that I've gone to the big leagues with rejection, you feel me? But in that case, it was something I cared about that I did full time, not something that I did for 4 hours a day to pay rent. Nevertheless, I remember some pretty good, entertaining times I had over there, too.

#japanprobs
"Hey we're..."
"No thanks."


"Hi.."
*sticks hand and waves it in front of their nose and walks away.*
What, do I smell, or something? We dubbed this common "no-thank-you" gesture the shark fin.


"Hey, we're the missionaries..."
"No thank you, I'm busy."
"Oh, will you just take this flyer then, if you don't have time to talk?" 
"No, my hand hurts and I can't hold the paper."


"Hi, we're the missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!"
"Oh, I'm not Christian." *walks away*
Obvi you're not Christian, why do you think we wanted to talk with you?


"Hi we're the church of Jesu..."
"No thank you."
"Oh do you have religion?" 
"No, I just don't like you."


I knocked on a door once and I was greeted with, "Sumisu (Smith)?"
Shocked a little bit I was all, "Um, yeah that's my name?"
She blabs on a little bit about this one time we met and then I remembered seeing her about a week earlier. She seemed excited to see me again, but had no time to talk.
"Oh well, okay, could we come back tomorrow sometime and say hi?"
She BURSTS out laughing at the preposterousness of the proposal and just says, "No no no no." and then closes the door.
"Okay! Just asking..."


Someone comes to the door dripping wet, wrapped in a towel and just says, "Sorry, I'm in the shower!"
"Yeah, you didn't even need to come to the door, lady."
 Seriously, why do people do these things? Apparently the shower excuse is universal.


"Hi, we're the Church of..."
"Any talk like that is NO!" *slams door*


"I'm actually just about to leave..." (doesn't)


"I can't speak English!"
"Oh we speak Japanese!"
"Um... I have to go."


We ran into this one man while knocking on doors. He seemed to be in his mid 40's and he seemed to think we were beautiful. I asked if he had a family and he said, "No, they're all dead. Ladies are welcome!"


And my personal favorite:
"Hi! My name is Sister Smith! How are you?"

...no response or any sort of acknowledgment that I exist.


[but hey, we got popsicles from a lady who rejected us once. you can't hand out popsicles over the phone]
[believe it or not i've looked worse]

People are hilarious, guyz.

Nah. The bottom line is that despite the ease, despite the convenience, despite how much I loved awkward conversations while waiting for the computer to load and trying to pronounce unpronounceable names, and despite the pizza - YES EVEN THE PIZZA - that job just sucked. It is the epitome of a "staring-at-the-clock-willing-it-to-turn-faster" kind of job. The rejection never phased me, but I think that was why that job was never worth it in the first place. The rejection phased me a lot in Japan, but that's because I was fighting for something I cared about. I was helping people and it made me sad when they didn't want to hear from us. The rejection was worth working through for a year and a half. Not even the funny stories at a call center were worth more than a month's time.

You have funny mission rejection stories? Ever worked at a call center? I'd love to hear about it.

Also, life lessons learned from funny customers at the bookstore.  

lauren

home is a fire

1:32 AM

What's your name? Where are you from? What are you studying? I wish I could count how many times I have asked and BEEN asked those three questions in my collegiate career. I wouldn't be surprised if it reaches the thousand range by the time I leave BYU. I went to my new singles ward last Sunday. After an hour of socializing I could not handle one more awkward handshake, one more awkward conversation with a recent returned missionary and I could NOT stand the "where are you from" question one more time. 


Name? Not that hard. I'm Lauren Smith. Most common last name in the US, it's all pretty easy to spell with some pronunciation troubles in the first name. (Loh-ren, not Lah-ren). But we can breeze past this question quickly enough. 

Major? Meh, sometimes I say Communications and then people think business. Sometimes I say Journalism. Sometimes I say Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Sometimes I say Journalism in the Communications program. I like to shake things up. Generally this question is responded with some slightly bewildered looks, some "Oh you don't hear that very often!"'s and some "So is journalism going to be obsolete in 5 years?"'s. 

The where are you from question, though. This is a struggle. I have hated saying I'm from Utah ever since I moved to Springville in 2001. And really, I love Springville. It's home in more ways than it's not. But I grew up in Wisconsin. Minnesota. It's Minnesota. I realize that this post will probably just open a can of worms with a few select friends of mine who think it's funny to try and convince people I'm from Wisconsin. *COUGH JULIE CLINGO COUGH* Let the record show: I'm not from Wisconsin. I'm from MINNESOTA. For realsies, I was born there and my family spent 20 years there. The relationships and friendships that my family and I have from there are among the most precious friendships that we could ever ask for. My heart is with Minnesota. 
These are all around '97ish besides the 2nd one which was taken in 2001 right before we moved

So here are my response options:
-Option 1 is just to say Minnesota. I mean, I was born there and technically spent longer there than Springville. But I have come to the conclusion that I can't really respond Minnesota just by itself. It's been over 10 years since I lived there. I'll be real. 

-Option 2 is just to say Springville. Generally this works out okay for me, tbh. I know a lot of people from Springville. I know every back road to Reams and twenty different ways to get to Mapleton. But then two things could happen (and both have happened to me) 

1---The person asking me ends up being from Minnesota. I say "woahhh where?" And they say "Oh, Twin cities ish." "No where?." "Ah you probably won't know but Minnetonka." "No way, I grew up in Eden Prairie, do you know so and so?" "Yeah! Wait I thought you said you were from Springville..." 

2---"Oh did you go to Springville High? What year did you graduate?" "Well actually I was only there my freshman and sophomore year." "Oh?" "Yeah I mean I would have graduated in 2010 but then I moved." "Oh where did you move to?" "Tahiti." "Wait whuuuuu?" 

So generally this question is responded differently every time. My go-to is "Grew up in Minnesota, moved to Springville when I was 11 and my family is there now." But either way it turns the conversation complicated. 

Life's tough, guys. 

Anyway, I visited Minnesota just a few weeks ago to see my best big brother Adam. And, I kid you not, I have only felt that good stepping off an airplane one other time in my life and that was the last time I visited Minnesota when I was 14. It FEELS like home. The air is different. Minnesota nice. Target. Lakes. Trees. Mall of America. Downtown. Great parks. Twins games and the Target field. GREEN. Target. Good eating. So many friendly and happy people. Apples. Music. The snow gets tedious but it sure is pretty. Minnesoooota accents dontcha know aboot that? Also, Target? 

Back to those pictures up there briefly. Besides the part where I'm super cute (I know, right?) there's something about them that captures a lot of my love for both Minnesota and my childhood. There is something safe and special preserved there. It's just... happy. Happy in a place I loved with great friends, a great school, a great neighborhood, and great snow. I remember my parents telling me that we were going to move to Utah and despite the great prospect of being close to my then newly-wed sister and brother and law, I was devastated to leave. I wasn't just leaving behind a place I loved, but a childhood bliss that could never be equaled in a different location.

I may have more connection to Springville. I may know more people and know the town better and my family might live there now. But there is something that I just FEEL about Minnesota. I love it so much. My heart is there, and I re-realized that this summer. 
Nothing without my A Smith as my tour guide and fellow WNBA fan (not really. We just went to a game. And that MVP Maya Moore chick was pretty awesome)
 Yupp. Same swing set.

But all that emotion/feelings stuff isn't very easy to convey in response to a four-word question, you feel me?


mission

I CAN'T EVEN

12:23 PM

Don't I look like such a sister missionary? Probably because, OH WAIT, I was one. Two years ago I went into the MTC. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday and it was weird. The whole mission thing seems like such a dream - like it never happened. There are, of course, tangible evidences for having served a mission. I speak Japanese now. I'm super mature now (obvi). I'm nowhere close to graduating from college even though I started 4 years ago. My pictures on Facebook suddenly switch from short-hair Lauren to long-hair Lauren (NEW ALTERNATIVE TO EXTENSIONS: just disappear to Japan for a year and a half) (Also, I miss my short hair a lil bit but that's neither here nor there). Things like this.

September 5, 2012 feels like a lifetime ago. I'm so different from the person I was then - for better and for worse. I look at these pictures from the beginning of my mission and I'm just like who IS that? And how can I look more like her because she's skinnier than I am! But seriously. It's crazy how much things change over the space of a mission - besides your weight. Anyway, I remember that first day pretty clearly, but it was entertaining to go back and read about it. Here are some first impressions of the MTC according to my beloved journal Theodore (yes, I name my journals. Haters gon hate).

Well I'm in the MTC now. Here's what's up:
  • Elders are really young.
  • I don't speak Japanese. At all.
  • Gym orientation videos are awesome.
  • Cannon center food...
  • I forgot a towel
  • We sang Called to Serve today. Let the tally begin.
  • I got lost once.
  • And we forgot our scriptures to this one thing.
  • Don't compare yourself to anyone, Lauren, STOP IT.
  • Be grateful for diversity.
  • There aren't enough hangers.
  • We did an activity with actor-investigators. I mock everyone silently for their naiveté but I don't know what I'm doing either. (obviously I'm supes humble)
  • I keep wanting to speak French.
  • I had a 19-year-old call me out when I said "yessir." He said, "actually, you need to call me Elder." PLEASE.
  • This is going to be hard.
  • I met really cool people today including my companion, Sister Clingo (Julie from Springville whom I had met before), my roommates Sister Peterson and Sister Silva, the one chick who showed me around, and Sister Buhler who is also going to Fukuoka.
  • I'm exhausted.
  • I hope I can wake up tomorrow.
September 6, 2012
I feel like I've been awake for three days.

...Very tired.

...Very very tired.




Hahaha. I probably said the word "tired" like sixteen more times in that second entry. I'm glad that future Lauren couldn't tell MTC Lauren that the fatigue would never go away because I might have gone home right then. 


It's really funny to see missionaries now go through the same things. It all comes back full circle, or something. Yes, I am working at the MTC. Yes, another day I can write about how that's going it's great. Along with the fatigue, I remember the Japanese - which is probably the number one topic of conversation with my missionaries now. I remember our second day having a teacher try and get us to sing from the hymn book - which is all written in Japanese stuff likeあいうえお. I'm looking at this like, "really, you want me to sing right now?" And then they just Japanese at me and I'm like "Dood I English." So then they say, "look it up in the dictionary if you don't understand." And I'm like, "HOW THIS IS CHICKEN SCRATCH NOT A LANGUAGE." "Just look it up! You know!" "No... I don't know." So then they'd kinda try and show me the Japanese alphabet system thing and I'm still just like "This means nothing to me. It's just squiggles. ABC, that's an alphabet." 

I also remember just feeling different. The MTC was a little spiritual bubble. I learned a lot. I loved being spiritually nourished every day. I loved feeling like I was becoming a better person. 

More than anything, though, the most tangible evidence - and the thing I'm most grateful for - of this whole experience is the relationships I developed.

I met a lot of people over that year and a half. But there will always be something special about this first group that I knew in the MTC. Two years ago I met these great people. Two years later and my life wouldn't be the same without them. ❤ 

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