Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Time

Just about two years ago, I wrote a blog titled Another Time. I wrote it just after my life had changed and though necessary, it was unexpected. This blog was the first time I made any indication in writing that I wasn't okay, but at least initially accepting of that trial. I was distraught and hurt, confused and lost, feeling extremely inadequate. In the blog, I made it seem like I was working on adjusting to the change, when I truly wasn't doing well at all.

Here I was alone, with few friends, struggling in my classes, moving into a new complex where I knew no one, staying a whole summer in Utah for the first time. With friends getting married and graduating, dating and getting straight As, I felt like I was going nowhere. To say I was "in a bad place" was a large understatement for a girl that generally didn't leave the house without a smile on her face.

Though this hadn't even been the start of the low point, only what felt to be rock bottom. Rock bottom being when my anxiety came in full force and depression entered the scene. I hadn't been doing well for months before the change, but now I was completely miserable. 

Every day, I would wake up feeling the same, or more often worse, than I had the day before. I kept pretending things were fine by putting on a face, laughing and doing "normal" things when I was around friends or family. Trying to convince myself and others that I was getting better, but I wasn't. Inside everything hurt because of the depression; I wanted to crawl out of my skin because the anxiety was unbearable.

All I wanted was this "time" everyone kept promising me. This time when I would find my new normal, my new happy and start the new chapter in my life. Doing everything in my power to hasten this, I grew more impatient, unhappy and the fr
ustration with myself, my emotions, my lack of ability to overcome this trial and in the Lord for not taking it away became overwhelming. The depression and anxiety were becoming unbearable and I didn't know what to do anymore. The place that I was in was not healthy. It was terrifying to feel the way I did and I wanted out. I decided I finally needed help.

As strange as this may sound, a complete stranger helped me sort through my problems. I looked forward to being able to ramble on to clear the irrational thoughts that cluttered my brain, making it hard to function with someone that was there to listen and tell me I wasn't crazy. As I was taught to handle my overwhelming emotions and anxiety, my thoughts and emotions became easier to sort through. Life started to seem livable.

I grew to finally recognize that I was doing fun, great and productive things. I was surrounded by people that loved me, people that wanted to see me happy, and were looking out for my well being. I got more comments about how I looked well, healthy and happy, something that hadn't happened in almost a year. I finally was starting to feel normal with a sense that the uphill battle wasn't nearly as impossible as I had thought.

Though the biggest growth came with the realization that I hadn't been relying on the Lord. The One that really was there the whole time to comfort me, aide my patience, listen to my thoughts, and who I hadn't reached out to much at all. I had only begged him to take away the pain, make the anxiety disappear, help me feel normal, and make this "time" come faster. Sure, counseling helped me sort out my thoughts, but it more helped me realize that I had another counselor that I never reached out to. A counselor that could have helped me come to many more conclusions about how to deal with my feelings way before it became almost too much to deal with.

Today, I share this blog with you (one that's been sitting in my drafts for months) because I finally feel like I've found that "time." I've gone through many trials in these couples years, and even continued counseling, reached goals and created new ones. It hasn't entirely been easy, but I've been better because of everything I went through. 

I'm grateful for the difficult, yet rewarding trials that I've been given as they shape me to become stronger and better than I am. I still have my hard days and deal with anxiety, but those hard days and moments only make the good days better, as I recognize my blessings and the differences in my feelings compared to those moments of distress.

I'm constantly finding out who I am and the plan that Heavenly Father has for me. I'm happy, healthy and loved. Of course these realizations of blessings and the strength I gain from trials didn't come til I decided to turn more towards the Lord in all things. Looking to him more has made all the difference in my progress. 19 year old Jensen could have never predicted that I would be where I'm at today. I owe it all to my wonderful family, friends and The Lord.

I know that I'm a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and He has a plan for me. And though His plans are always different than my own, He knows me, is aware of my needs and is always there to guide, comfort and listen. Without my faith, I never would have been able to see that I need to give myself more credit for how much I am capable of, how much I am worth and that I should never be settling for less than I deserve (And I deserve a whole lot!).

Life is beautiful and I am smiling through it all.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Recent Observations

It's hard to top the view count of the last blog that I wrote. However, I always have something to say. So blog I will.

It's been just about two months since I lost my dear Nana. Still seems strange, not having her comment on every Facebook status, like every picture I post, send funny text messages with attempts to use emojis. It's a happy space that I guess I didn't realize was existent til it was empty. With this revelation of sorts, I've tired to fill the space with a new recent activity.

No, not teaching. Practicum did take a large chunk of my Summer away from me as I taught the most adorable seven year olds ever, but that isn't the activity that I am referring to as that is, thankfully, over. (Longest 6 weeks of my undergraduate career.)

I'm talking about being observant. It's interesting how much you miss in a day when your mind is preoccupied with x, y and z all at the same time. I explain to my readers all the time that I thoroughly enjoy being busy from morning til bedtime but that's changed, slightly.

I've gotten comfortable with free time. I lay on the couch with my roommates to watch movies for hours on end. I will take a night off to snuggle up on my bed to finish a book in it's entirety (300 pages is nothing if I'm determined enough). I go out to get dinner by myself (stay tuned for a blog on this topic). I'm content coming home to clean the house, make dinner, go on a run to come home and sit my apartment alone peacefully. Though, I refuse to say in silence because it makes me extremely uncomfortable. (And if you know me you know, my music is always on when possible).

Rerouting to being observant... On those times when I'm alone, enjoying the Summer air on my bike rides or runs, or when I have more down time, I've come to notice things. The air on a cooler night, almost feels damp on my skin. The rain makes the apartment smell better than a candle could. The more I stare at the night sky, the more stars seem to appear. Just quality H20, water, actually tastes very good. Smiling at strangers just to be nice, isn't so scary. The air in the Mountains is 1. cleaner and 2. smells better.

Being with my friends, I've realized that laughing generally sounds ridiculous but it's contagious so it doesn't sound as bad when everyone is doing it. It's better to be bored together than bored alone, because you at least have someone that cares and will listen to your rambling. You don't have to be good friends to share amazing memories. Filling conversational silence isn't necessary as sometimes it builds a relationship more than words could. Friends don't care if you look like a mess, they genuinely care why and how the mess came about. (Then they will tease you about how you look if appropriate.)

I've come to appreciate the little things, like finding a penny on the ground, or a small gesture from a stranger. It's a pity that the smaller things that are actually pretty grand, go unnoticed because we are so preoccupied worrying about the larger, more consuming life activities such as how are we going to pay for school? Or why didn't that person we like text us back? What in the world are we going to do after college?

Important questions, but sitting on the grass to watch the clouds pass can make those larger items of business seem less consuming when we choose to observe the little, beautiful and less stressful aspects of life.

Well at least, that's what I've observed or choose to believe. Life has been a much easier and enjoyable when I make time to stop my stressing to enjoy the day, people, events, etc. for all that it has to offer.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

There's a Woman

There's a woman who came into my life when I was six. I met her at a restaurant with my family, when she showed up with other people who I didn't know. It was a pizzeria. I was told that she was my Grandmother, and these people were my new Aunt, Uncle and cousins. She was to be called Nana. That was that. No questions asked. I was okay with it. They all seemed fun enough, plus I was eating pizza.

There's a woman who gave me a stuffed dog. Mom told her that Dalmatians were my favorite so that's the one she chose. I named it Dottie because I was seven. My creative side hadn't quite developed yet. The first of many saved gifts, each a treasure.

There's a woman who often threatened to feed me prunes. Indecisiveness would only get me those shrived fruits. It was always "Yes, Nana dear." No was never an option, unless it was the correct answer. Rarely was it the correct answer.

There's a woman who always kept us kids busy. We always made Shake n' Bake chicken and fed ducks at her house. Crafts were my favorite, digging through the chest of supplies to find my next project. She taught us nursery rhymes and old songs that I can recite to this day. My dollhouses and hand me downs still there for the younger cousins today.

There's a woman who taught me to be proud of my heritage. She talked about the crazy family ties that I some how fit into, stories upon stories of the craziness. She'll pinch you if you're not wearing green come March, but happily kiss you just for the luck.

There's a woman who helped me acquire my first real job. Yellow Brick roads and dressing up as a princess, making children stare in awe. Walking goats and having a parrot on my shoulder for a week straight. She told me I'd love it there, and she was right. The inner child in both us still hold our magic memories working there close to our heart. Who knew a place called Fairytale Town could be just as enjoyable for adults as it is for kids?

There's a woman who says I look just like a man she once loved. He was smart, handsome and strong. I am just like him, she says. I admire him, but look to her example.

There's a woman who I aspire to be. She taught me how to be creative, independent, passionate about the things I care about, stubborn when it matters, and to always see the best in people. I strive to make her proud every day. I'm honored to be her grandchild. A woman so kind, intelligent and amazing. I love her. She's my Nana.

Not everyone has a reason to cry when they have to complete a family tree assignment because there isn't enough space for every person that deserves a branch. Not everyone has huge family parties where they are the same age as their uncles, and have cousins twice their age. Not everyone is lucky enough to grow up having multiple grandparents, not just the two from each side.  Not everyone has a Nana. Not everyone gets to have this Nana. How lucky am I to a woman so strong and wonderful in my life as one of my biggest role models.

You went and lost your phone so I had to write you somehow! Thank you for being one of my biggest cheerleaders. I miss you, but I'll see you in a week. Hoping you get some sunshine. I love you, Nana.

Edit June 5, 2015.
Words cannot adequately describe the feelings of my broken heart after losing this amazing woman on June 3, 2015. I will never be able to explain how much she means to me, how hard I've tried to make her proud, and the amount of admiration I have for her. A 9 year battle, fighting for her life so she could continuously bless the lives of others with her wisdom and grace. I've never met someone so strong and selfless, loved by everyone she met. Those who knew her know how truly incredible she was, and how much she will be missed.

How lucky I am to have you, Nana dear. I will always strive to give you something to be proud of. I have a hard time using the past tense even though you've passed, because as we both know, we'll see each other again. How grateful I am for that. I love you more. xoxo

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Students of Room 39

For those that didn't know, I've been student teaching for over a month! This first 60-75, ended up being about 80+, hours of experience is for my minor, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL K-12). I've been working at an Elementary school in a sixth grade class, Room 39, with only about 20 students. Sure, I primarily enjoy teaching younger students but this has been especially enjoyable!

The first day I fell in love with the class and the school. I felt at home, stepping right in sync with the routines and helping the students as if I'd been there for months. My fourth day in the classroom, they had already invited me to their class play. Through out my time there, I went to assemblies, danced with them, and even attended Space Camp; it's been a blast.

Now on my last day, to say they were disappointed that I had forgotten to tell them it was my last day earlier in the week, would be a major understatement! They were so upset with me. I'm going to miss these kids, don't get me wrong. However, this student teacher is exhausted. She's happy to hang up her badge and take a few weeks off. Teaching, on top of classes, studying for her teaching license test, work, moving and various other life concerns, has me worn out. It's time for a few weeks of rest.

Between getting to know the students and actually being able to work on their progress, the hours have been extremely beneficial as I've finally have gotten to put the things I'm learning into practice. I feel better about my teaching skills, like I'm actually decent at it. Not only has it all been beneficial to my confidence level, but also have given me plenty to talk about because, in case you didn't know, kids say the funniest things. For instance:

How do you spell your last name?
Are you sure? Spell check says it's wrong.

Do you like chocolate?
No, not really.
How? Chocolate is beautiful.

I'm going to call you Ms. Teacher.
You could call me Ms. K or Ms. Krause. That is my name.
Nope. You look like more of a Ms. Teacher.

*Learning about Heat Transfer*
Why is it that when we touch a hot pepper that it doesn't feel warm, but when we put it in our mouths to eat that it's really hot?

How old are you?
20, why?
And you're not MARRIED? Get on that sister. 

*Working with my Native Spanish Speaker*
You don't speak Spanish, do you?
Hablo un poquito.
Ha. Un poquito. Very very little.
****A while later*****
You lie. You no speak Spanish.

Why do you make me do work?
Because I'm your teacher.
Okay, but really. What's the real reason??

**Taught our Native Spanish Speaker how to say "Try Again"**
Angilu, can you sit at your desk? La mesa. That's the right word, isn't it?
Try again.

Michael, did you come sit by me because I was sitting alone on the bus?
Is yes or no the correct answer here?

*Walking through the halls near the younger grade classes*
TEACCCHHEERRR. Someone was kissing someone in the back of the liiinnnneeeee.

So yeah, this is my life. I love it. I love the kids, even though they say some interesting things. It's fun. But I think teachers should have nap time. And for what it's worth, 20 is not old.

First 80+ hours down, 100s more to go. I can't wait though. Does that make me crazy? Oh well. Just call me Ms. Teacher.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dumb Luck

Did you know that I'm extremely lucky?

No, I'm not kidding. My life sometimes can be a series of unfortunate events and you can't help but laugh at how ridiculous things can get sometimes for me because seriously, it's hilarious at times the stories about the horrible, no good days that I have. However, I'm actually ridiculously lucky when it comes to winning contests, awards or prizes.

It all began probably on my first day of Kindergarten. Showed up wearing the cutest floral dress that twirled (all my dressed had to twirl), I was awarded "Star of the Day." Moving forward, I'm not an artist, but I always entered my stuff into the fair, and without failure, I'd come back with a ribbon and a prize. I won a separate city contest once, was given a whole bunch of art supplies.

Older I got, the larger the prizes became. I won a whole set of bedroom accessories (alarm clock,  radio set, wall clings, door frame decor) courtesy of Sparktop.Org because I simply pushed "enter."

Bigger and better, I won a premiere screening for Garfield: Tale of Two Kitties, from the same website, with 500 of my closest friends, plus a bunch of gear for the movie. I didn't have 500 of closest friends but I filled that dang theater as much as possible.

Once on my birthday, the tickets we had for a (don't judge) Dixie Chick concert (I was like 8) had our seats blocked off for light equipment. We told the usher and he gave us floor seats instead. I was tiny so we had to move up a few rows, but it was pretty sweet. And that's not the only time I've gone to a concert or show and been given better seats.

And those are just the bigger random things I won (that I can remember.) I'd often just win random small things on top of that. Like my name was almost always drawn when there was a raffle, or I'd be standing on the number they picked out of the hat for the cakewalk. I'm always finding money in my pockets or on the ground (usually then though, I turn it in.) I often am getting emails about random surveys I've been chosen for that give me some sort of incentive at the end. I am ridiculously lucky.

Now, I randomly entered a Digital Storytelling Contest for a class and I received an honorable mention award for a video I created in an hour using an IPad application. I'm $35 bucks richer and I've got another weird prize to add to my lucky streak.

So yeah, there's your fun fact about me for the week. I'm sure my mom could tell you more things that I won growing up, but these are just the few that came to my mind. If you want me to pick your lottery ticket numbers, don't ask. My dad has tried that and it doesn't work. I'm only a lucky charm for myself, I guess?

If only the luck could apply to the rest of my life events, and not just winning things...but that would be asking too much I suppose.

Anyways, I'm now settled into my new apartment. Spring classes are a go as I prep for my teaching this summer. I'm still student teaching for my minor, which has been a blast! No breaks for me when it comes to school, but I'm excited for the adventures that the warm weather will bring.

In other news, less than 8 months til I graduate. I'm signed up for yet another race. I'm planning a birthday trip for my 21st! I've got a bucket list of places to go this summer and things to do. My list of books to read this summer is expanding. Annnd I'm training to do another super cool thing that I'm not quite ready to announce because it's in the works.

So yeah, life is good here living in Sunset Suite in the Bubble. Yes, my new apartment is called the Sunset Suite. Plus, it's number 12! Did I mention that's my lucky number? (:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Not Bad, Just Hard

What is one life lesson that has shaped your life and what advice can you give others from it?

If there is anything that I've learned, especially from the last year of my life, it is that there are never bad days, just hard days.  

Let me explain the differences that I see:

Bad adj: Of poor quality, inferior or defective

Hard adj: solid, firm, and resistant to pressure; not easily broken, bent, or pierced.
2. requiring a great deal of endurance or effort

A bad day would mean that everything went wrong. It was completely horrid and there was no way that anything was even remotely positive about it because it was poor.

A hard day would mean that effort was needed in order to get through. That things occurred requiring you to work through them, and be strong. Also, twisting the definition a tad, you were required to be resistant to pressure as much as possible.

The deciding factor on how you handle your days is your attitude. Crazy things happen, it's life. However, your attitude dictates how you let everything affect you. Attitude is what aids your judgement. It's a given that if you are not in a positive state of mind, you are going to have a difficult time with the tough things that come up. You'll get worn down and distraught by the detours and dead ends that you weren't expecting. However, if you have that positive light in a difficult situation during your day, you'll be better able to look at it head on for what it is, take it piece by piece and deal with it to the best of your ability. By the end of the night, when you're staring up at your ceiling before your eyes close, you'll be able to say that the difficult parts didn't define your day, but instead shaped it, and you.

Going back to the definitions I listed, I'd rather have a day that put effort into, than day that I deemed poor quality due to my unwillingness to see past the negative aspects and abandon the idea of a positive attitude.

Each day is a gift and though it might be hard, declaring it a "bad day" counts it out. Instead by saying it was simply hard means you are able look back and say you're stronger because of it, and learned something as you chose to have a positive outlook. 

Hard days come, but they are what you make them. Choosing to make them a learning experience and an opportunity to better yourself is probably the best you can do when faced with a hard day. In the end, they still have the potential to be good when looking at them in that state of mind. That's the point of life anyways, to learn grow day by day.

Now there is never a day that I label "bad." I've limited myself to using only hard since my days are never bad, because...
1. there was always something that happened that made me smile, even if just for a second
2. I always learn something new
3. I'm stronger each day because of the trials that I face.

 I love my life, even with the hard days, the difficult trials and obvious flaws. Life wouldn't be the same, or as enjoyable if you didn't have those aspects to make you appreciate the things that truly are wonderful, beautiful, and full of so much (insert lovable life qualities here).

But that's just my life lesson. I only hope that your days are good, and if not good only hard, never any that you consider bad. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sailing through Trials

2nd definition according to Dictionary.Com
the act of trying, testing, or putting to the proof.

Everyone has them. Everyone is dealing with something that is weighing them down. Family, friends,  school, health, money, love, and many other of life's concerns burden one's mind. Some trials, not only one person is dealing with. Some are strictly personal. No matter how they are defined or their content, no matter how many you have at one time, again...we all have them.

Oh trials...Aren't they funny things? They cause us stress, pain, and anxiety. Once they are over, we come out confident in our new abilities and knowledge, or lack of pain, stress, pain or anxiety because we have overcome something that tried and tested us, proving our strength.

Yet, we spend so much time crying and mulling over the reasons as to why? Why us? Why now? Why this trial? Why can't it be over? Why can't it go away? Simply why?

Questioning only leaves us with more questions, with even fewer answers. We come back with increased stressed, pain, anxiety and now frustrated with our lack of understanding of the reasons behind why we are stuck with this unfortunate situation.

"God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” C.S. Lewis

Without diving too far into my beliefs, trials are given to test but only so we can come out of them wiser and stronger than before. Heavenly Father gives us these trials only to better us. My Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself. He knows how much I can handle, what I can handle and when is the best for the trial.

Sure, I might disagree with him at the time being. I might throw at Him all the questions as to why this is occurring and beg for Him to make all the pain to go away. He'll ease the pain. He'll walk me through each day of the trial. However, He knows that I will be better because of it.

Grace carried me here, and by grace I'll carry on.

The best way to deal with a trial is to have the most positive attitude possible. We might not be able to smile through it, skip and jump at the appearance over another hurdle during the course, but the more we can, the easier it gets. It helps with the way we respond to things, people, and situations.

If we go in thinking positive, things are going to be easier as we evaluate the situation and then go at it the best way possible. On the other hand, a negative attitude gives us the worst case scenario and preconceived notions. We keeping ourselves from seeing the bigger picture and understanding the situation as a way to grow.

"We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." Thomas S. Monson

Overall, life is kicking my trash lately. I feel like I'm carrying a stack of books and things just keep getting piled on top. Higher and higher it climbs as my arms get more tired, trembling under the weight. Every once in a while, I drop the stack but I'm not left there to scramble and pick everything up alone. Heavenly Father is there helping me gather my belongings and move along, lessening the load now and again, helping me carry the load so I don't have to do it by myself.

Small blessings, like a class cancelled or extended deadlines occur when I need them most. A shift getting covered last minute when I'm sick in bed. A postman has even delivered a book I needed so desperately a whole two days early. You can say a small miracle, but I say blessings. The little things don't make the bigger trials disappear necessarily, but they make them seem smaller and more manageable. I'm so grateful for the little blessings in my life.

I'm a hot mess sometimes, but life, even with all of it's twists and turns due to trial, is beautiful. Life is good. Crazy, but oh so good (: