Thursday, March 30, 2017

80 Percenter

This year marks my first year of teaching high school English, and I'd say it isn't going horribly. Right now we're working on a type of personal essay called "This I Believe" in which you write about something you...believe in. You can find hundreds of examples here. I've been writing alongside my students, so I thought I'd share it because I never blog anymore. (You'll find out why in the essay.)

When I was a kid, I used to dream that I’d make it into the Olympics.  Actually no, I didn’t just dream--I expected to go to the Olympics.  When discussing my bright future to any half-amused adult, I’d say something like, “Either I’ll go for soccer, or running, but I’m not sure yet.”  It wasn’t a matter of if I’d go to the Olympics, but in which sport I was to compete.  
Although I give props to my five-year-old self for such confidence and optimism, eventually I grew up and realized that I wasn’t going to make it to the Olympics for soccer or running.  In fact, I was never on varsity for cross country and didn’t even try out for the high school soccer team.  To some people, this may categorize me as a failure, but I quickly accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be the best at anything; instead, I was simply above average at a handful of things.
Although I continued through life picking up quite a few hobbies and skills, I never mastered them.  In some ways I loved being a “Jack of all Trades,” but it also kind of bothered me that I was never the best.  And then one day, on our way to the Uintas for a camping trip, I was sitting in the back seat of my friend’s Subaru Forester flipping through a Patagonia catalogue.  The magazine was mostly filled with pricey outdoor clothing that I’d never be able to afford, but on one page there was a quote from Yvon Chouinard that caught my attention: “I've always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession that doesn't appeal to me. Once I reach 80 percent level, I like to go off and do something totally different.” Keep in mind, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia said this; if he wasn’t afraid to admit that he was only 80% proficient at his hobbies, why should I be?
And that’s when I started to think of all the different sports and hobbies I had obsessed over until I reached that 80%.  At some point in my life, my thoughts and free time had been consumed by triathlons, drawing, lacrosse, piano, Dance Dance Revolution, P90X, longboarding, road biking, salsa dancing, drumming, roller skating, Crossfit, YouTube, skiing, and blogging. I never “threw myself passionately” into these activities to be the best--I immersed myself because it was a fun challenge.
I take my hat off to those who dedicate their lives to reach that 100% proficiency; the amount of talent, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice amazes me.  And yet, I don’t really envy them anymore. It would’ve been cool to go to the Olympics for soccer, but then I wouldn’t have had the time to make sub-par YouTube videos or hit the local skating rink every Friday night to show off my moves.  And that’s why I am okay with being an 80 percenter.  Because I believe that at 80 percent I can live life at 100 percent.

Now I will attach a few pictures of me doing some of those things I mentioned. Because pictures make it more interesting.

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Proof I did a triathlon.
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Friday, December 16, 2016


This is the first draft of our family's Christmas card, but I have a feeling that my mom will make me change it, so I'm going to post this sarcastic and somewhat snarky version on here because I want to. Ha.

Merry Christmas fellow friends and family that I probably don't know.  With the emergence of social media, Christmas cards aren’t exactly necessary to humble brag, but we’re conceited enough to send a hard copy out regardless.

Lily returned home from her mission in the Japan Tokyo Mission.  (Not to be mistaken with the lesser Tokyo South Mission.) Although the semester immediately following missions tends to be rough, Lily took ridiculously hard and time consuming classes because she’s a boss.  She also still loves to consume a lot of vegetables, primarily cabbage and carrots because they’re cheap.

Kristen is teaching her first year of high school English and will now stop referring to herself in 3rd person because she hates how teachers do that.  I teach about half of the 10th graders at Payson High and am surviving.  My students also seem to be alive, and have managed to not hurt each other in my classroom, so I’d say it’s going well.  I also still ski and roller skate which I try to mention to my students often so that they think I’m cool.

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Jenai is working in a chiropractic office and gets a free adjustment weekly, so she’s pretty much living the life.  She also has embraced her Latina side (jokes) and is not only salsa dancing on the reg, she has joined a salsa team and owns that dance floor.  She also picked up skiing after a little hiatus and hopefully will be joining me on the slopes to shred the gnar.

Mom is as cute as ever and has picked up tap dancing.  Seriously folks, she’s a little daredevil although she recently told me that last week’s practice was the first time that she didn’t feel like crying from frustration.  You try tap dancing and tell me how it goes.  Dad may have had a mid-life crisis and bought a motorcycle and grew a goatee.  He also still roller skates frequently thanks to moi.  This year, Mom and Dad were called to teach Early Morning Seminary.  Although they are learning a lot and (I’m sure) are grateful for the opportunity, are extremely sleep deprived and looking forward to this Christmas Break.  They also went to a French speaking camp for a week or so and I think they had a good time.  Poor Mom isn’t fluent, so it probably wasn’t as fun for her.  But she’s a tough one, so don’t worry.

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As a family, we went to Maui for summer vacation and we all felt very #blessed and #spoiled to be spending time in paradise.  We got awesome tans, minus Lily, because she had just returned from her mission and had pasty white legs.  

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Love you all.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  I’ll be flying back to Utah New Year’s Eve, so enjoy your night for me because I’m not planning on kissing anyone on the plane.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

After School Detention

Take a good look at this photo of me back in eighth grade.  I'm pretty sure it was my first Facebook profile pic, and I had to have my mom take it of me because selfies weren't a thing yet.

Does that look like the face of a trouble maker?  A trickster?  A punk?  No!  It looks like a half Japanese Mormon girl who didn't even drink caffeine.  She wasn't a total kiss-up (she talked too much for that), but the teachers (I assume) liked her well enough.

Wait, when did I start referring to myself in third person?

So like I said, I was a pretty good kid and didn't get detentions.  I mean, sometimes I had lunch detentions when you stay an extra five minutes in class before going to lunch because of forgotten homework or something like that, but not because I was BAD.

That is, until eighth grade.  I just read Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape today for an English class, so I thought I'd tell you through the "theatre" lens.  #theatrebecauseartsy



Mrs. Jansen
Orchestra kids


Cafeteria stage

Scene One
You enter in the middle of the eighth grade orchestra class.  The students are seated in formation on the cafeteria stage hacking away at their stringed instruments.  Mrs. Jansen, the director, is obviously frazzled because the majority of her students cannot keep a beat and/or are tone deaf.  She is working with the cello section and although they are not as hopeless as the violas and bases, she doesn't hold much hope for them.  That is, except for Kristen: She was the one cellist who actually had a musical background and although Mrs. Jansen wouldn't admit to it, she often gave Kristen preferable treatment.  The horrible screeching continues.

Mrs. Jansen: Ok let's try that section one more time at measure 23...Yes, 23...Where we started last time...After your ten measure rest!...Will someone please show Mike where measure 23 is??! (The cello section plays from measure 23 and Mrs. Jansen gives a defeated sigh and moves on to the second violin section; she typically has to work with them more than the talented first violin section.)

Nolan: (Turns around with a mischievous grin and whispers to the cello section) Hey guys--you want gum?  (Wanting to prove their rebellious natures, despite the fact that they are upper middle class students living in the suburbs of the midwest, a few of the students eagerly take the gum.  Kristen does as well.)

Mrs. Jansen: (Already thinking about the Starbucks she will be getting in the next hour, she calls the whole orchestra back together.) Alright everyone, let's all play from measure 23...Yes the same 23 we've been playing from this entire time. (The students play and start chewing their gum conspicuously after getting absorbed in the music.) Are you all chewing gum?? Go spit it out right now.  If I catch any of you chewing gum from now on that's an automatic after-school detention! (Many students make the walk of shame to the trash can to spit out their gum, but Nolan and Kristen don't budge.  They exchange impish grins.) Nolan! Are you chewing gum?!

Nolan: Yes.

Mrs. Jansen: (A bit worked up, but satisfied because she doesn't really like Nolan) That's an after-school detention for you!!  I was serious! If I catch any one else with gum, you're getting detention!

Minutes pass and the orchestra still sounds pretty lousy.  Kristen gets bored and starts chewing her gum mindlessly.

Mrs. Jansen: (Speaking in an almost unbelieving, regretful tone) Kristen, are you chewing gum??

Kristen: (Softly, yet somewhat defiantly) Yes.

Mrs. Jansen: (Her eyes glistening with unshed tears of disappointment) Well, I'm gonna have to give you a detention...

Kristen:  Ok.

The End

Ok, so that was really fun.  Maybe I should become a playwright when I grow up.  I'd be just as poor as being a teacher, so what's to lose? Anyway, that was the first time I got an after-school detention.  Nolan and I had to stack chairs in the choir room while Mrs. Jansen stood in the doorway eating popcorn.  And that's about it.

How's that for edgy and rebellious??  The funny thing is, I got another after-school detention in high school for being late to Honors Chemistry.  The principals (we had like five--don't ask) had this thing called Hall Sweeps where they'd pick a section of the school and have all the teachers close and lock their doors right when the tardy bell rang.  That day we were having a lab, so I had to go to my locker to grab my goggles.  And then I was late and got a detention.  I was obviously really acting up with those goggles of mine.

So there ya go.  Judge me if you will.  I am not ashamed!!

Monday, November 30, 2015


Psych!  This isn't really about hernias.  I mean, it mentions hernias, but that's not the topic.  I also mention peeing, Sacrament Meeting talks, and turkey which are not the topics of this post either because this post is very bad and I'm sorry.

I used to keep a list of all the things I wanted to blog about because I could never keep up with all the ideas.  I wanted to write about anything and everything.  I even made a rule that I couldn't write more than two posts a week because it was embarrassing.  Now--I've got nothin'.  Probably because I eventually got a job and found friends.

Well, to try and get back in the groove, I kept a list of things I wanted to write about just like the old days.  The problem? The ideas sucked and I didn't have anything to say about them.  The solution? Post them anyway.  Finished or unfinished.  (They're all unfinished.)

So here's the first thing:  Two Truths and a Lie

I started to make a list on my phone of really good things to say if I'm ever asked to give two truths and a lie in some party setting.  I'm really bad at this game.  Like really bad, so I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start and make a list while I'm not under any pressure or time constraints.  This is what I came up with: 

  • I once thought I had a hernia, but instead of a bulging organ poking through an abdominal opening, I had poison ivy underneath my skin.
  • When I was little I was flying home from Washington and all the flight attendants thought I was adorable so they kept giving my apple juice.  Then I had a horrible case of diarrhea the whole way home.
  • I was really small (and obviously adorable) when I was a child, so the doctors wanted to put me on steroids.  I didn't go on steroids. 
Good, right?  Do you know which one is the lie?  Probably not because they're so good. 

Idea Two: Make a list of all the strange things I do daily.

  • I count while I pee.  I don't even think about it.  I just count.  What can I say, I'm really good with numbers.  And peeing.
That's it.  I'm perfectly normal besides that.

Idea Three: Write direct quotes from a girl's Sacrament Talk

So I go to church (yay me!) and I also don't really know anyone in my ward (yay Provo YSA wards!) so I typically don't know the speakers either.  Well, this one girl gave an awesome talk yesterday and I started writing down quotes from her talk.  Before you get all impressed that I take notes in Sacrament just know that none of it was spiritual.  Just hilarious.  And it went a little something like this:
  • "What up brothers and sisters?"
  • "Sometimes I get really overwhelmed with all of this.  I can't be perfect; I like Tupac too much."
  • "Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and all he asks of his apostles is to stay awake with him.  And what do they do? Homeboys fall asleep!"
  • "I can't be a cool Provo girl--I don't have enough Instagram followers."
Ok, so maybe this was funnier when I was hungry and kind of bored.  Also, did I mention that I was in Sacrament Meeting? Then I stalked her on Facebook while she gave her talk.  I thought she was funny so I wanted to be her friend.  (I normally try to refrain from Facebook during church and stick with the more spiritual apps like Unblock Me (a highly underrated, yet intriguing game) or my digital Japanese flashcards, but becoming her new best friend was very important to me.)

In other news, Thanksgiving was last weekend.  It was great and I ate turkey.  I did not do homework.

Yes, I know this is a chicken.  Snapchat didn't supply the turkey emoji :(

Until next time!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why I dress modestly

Once upon a time I used to write blog posts mostly for humor.  But now that I started writing rant posts, I can't seem to stop.  I would say sorry, but I'm not apologetic enough to quit just quite yet.

So why do I dress modestly?  As a kid I was taught that we dress modestly because our bodies are temples.  I didn't wear bikinis.  I didn't wear sleeveless prom dresses.  I didn't wear Daisy Dukes simply because they weren't "modest."

Then I started to think about why I really dressed modestly.  I didn't dress modestly because I was taught to, I did it because I respected myself.  I had confidence and didn't feel the need to seek for the attention of guys based off of my body/clothing.  I didn't want that kind of attention, so I didn't dress in a way to get that kind of attention.

As I got older we didn't just learn from adults, we started to get testimonials from the guys our age.  Clean, trim teenage boys would stand in front of me and the other girls and talk about our beauty and how we should guard it because we didn't know the mind of a male.  We didn't understand how hard it was for them to control their thoughts.  And then they'd thank us for dressing modestly because it helped them keep their thoughts clean and helped them to be better.  And then the moms would swoon because everyone loves a pure hearted boy who just wants to stay clean so he can marry a perfectly pure virgin in the temple.  And more than one girl would swoon because she just wanted to marry a boy who wanted her to wear knee length shorts and shirts with sleeves to control his thoughts.

And I would sit there confused.

Wait, you people are actually buying this??  Was I the only one who saw the absurdity in this boy's remarks?  Had I been mistaken?  Was I dressing modestly not because I respect myself and don't want the attention of low life guys, but because a bare shoulder would spark a young man into thinking dirty things about me?  No. I dressed modestly for myself and no one else.  If guys can't control their thoughts, that's their problem--not mine.

More time went on and I found that other women also hated the discussion of modesty and how it objectified the female body.  I wasn't the only one who cringed when they heard "Modest is Hottest," and it felt good to know that not everyone was buying into this whole messed up idea of modesty.  So why am I even writing about this topic if so many women have already done so here and here and here?  Because I realized that I was beginning to dress modestly for reasons other than just self respect.  I was wearing one pieces because I didn't want to feel the judgmental stares of the people on my bare midriff.  Mind you, these weren't the stares of regular people at some city pool or even of a hormonal teenage boy--these were the stares of my fellow Mormon "brothers" and "sisters."

As LDS members, we live lives of pretty high standards.  And although it is great that we push ourselves daily to keep up these standards, we often forget that it's not our job to hold other people to these standards as well.  Middle School and High School can be rough, but I was never judged for wearing shorts two inches above my knee in Ohio.  But you better believe it happens on BYU campus.  Of course, there is an honor code involved in this as well, but overall we (as Mormons) tend to be extremely judgmental of each other.

So here's an example from my life.  I run.  Well, sometimes I run.  And when it's hot I run in my sports bra.  But since I run in Provo, the city that consists of BYU and mostly Mormons, I feel awkward running without a shirt.  Mind you, men run around shirtless all the time, but heaven forbid I run in a sports bra and show three inches of my stomach.  Anyway, because I'd rather not have people judge me, I will run with a shirt until I get to Center St. and then take off my shirt.  Or I'll run in the mountains where no one really cares.

And when it comes to bathing suits, I don't wear bikinis.  I just don't really think it's my style, and I don't feel that comfortable wearing them, but I really don't think wearing a bikini is much more sexual than wearing a one piece.  We're all wearing basically nothing.  I can tell what your body looks like whether you're wearing a one piece or not.  But mostly, if I were to wear a bikini other Mormons would judge me as one of those Mormons.  One that pushes the rules.  One that just isn't that good.  And I know this because I do this all the time.  It's so easy to judge people off of their appearances.

But this is ridiculous.  Just because things like modesty, or Sunday observance, or language are so easy for outsiders to judge, doesn't mean we should be doing any judging at all.  What if that boy who speaks kindly of others and always acts politely is struggling with pornography?  What if that girl who always dresses modestly has had problems with the law of chastity?  Both of those things are much more serious than modesty and language, and yet we still judge people based on what we see.

What I mostly want to say isn't just about modesty.  I guess I'm just talking about judgement.  And how stupid it is.  We all have trials.  We all have faults.  We all need to be better.  We shouldn't judge someone about their clothing (although I do recognize it can reflect the type of morals you have) and we shouldn't judge people's morality because we have no place to judge with our own faults.  Remember that story about the woman taken to Christ because she had committed adultery.  And what did Christ say? "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." John 8:7
The crowd dispersed because no one is without sin and Christ said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."  Christ didn't approve of the woman's sin, but even He, our Savior who is sinless didn't judge her.  Do you feel dumb for judging others yet?  I do.

So this is where I'll return to modesty.  Do I think modesty is important?  Yes.  Of course I do.  Do I think that we put too much pressure on girls to dress modestly for reasons outside of their responsibilities?  Yes.  I don't want to dress modestly to avoid lustful eyes and I don't want to dress modestly because if I don't, other Mormons will think I'm a wayward member.  That's stupid.

I have read article after article about why people pick one piece bathing suits over bikinis, but it always comes down to body objectification and judgement.  And I don't like that.

And to end.  Here is a picture of me and my friend wearing tasteful one pieces.  Do you think I'm a perfect Mormon now?  Because you shouldn't.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Gay Marriage Dispute

Social media has been brutal this past weekend.  So many opinions, so many articles, so many arguments.  And even though I wanted to just avoid it all, I couldn't help but read everything I came across.  I wanted to hear both sides. I wanted to try and understand this supposedly important debate about gay marriage.  But mostly I was just sad.

Before I get into anything I just want to say that I can honestly empathize with both sides.  At one point in my life I really thought that being gay was a choice.  I remember saying once, "Bisexual people are just horny and will hook up with anyone."  I was that closed minded and that judgmental. I'm not saying that those of you opposing gay marriage think such horrible things, but I really did have strong opinions against it all.  Then I grew up some, had more life experiences, gained gay friends and my opinions changed.  Now I'm at the point where I'm not upset about gay marriage in all 50 states.  I'm even happy about it.  But the thing that hasn't changed is my belief in the family--and marriage is the base of that.  As a Mormon, I have confidence in our faith and am comforted knowing that temple marriages will always be between a man and a woman.  So if you're living the gospel, stop freaking out.  If you live the way you're supposed to, then you don't have to obsess about gay marriage.  Have some faith.

I think it's totally fine to state your beliefs on social media, but I just hope it's for the right reason.  I saw many people post things on both sides that were tasteful and not emotionally driven.  But I saw a lot of posts that were judgmental and far from loving.  And this was on both sides.

I'm going to be a bit hypocritical here, because I need to work on this as well, but we really need to be more Christlike.  I'm not saying that being Christlike is to drop your beliefs and accept the opposing view's ways.  I'm saying you need to be loving.  We need to stop looking at each other based off of the labels we have separated ourselves into.  We need to think about how our words do influence people.  If you had a gay brother, would you word your comments the same?  Your beliefs wouldn't change, but I'm sure you'd think about how your words would affect him.

Some people say, "Taking offense is a choice."  I agree, but that doesn't mean it's not hard.  I'm not a crier;  I just don't really like to cry.  But after reading a few days worth of Facebook "discussions" I ended my day by giving a heartfelt prayer to replace my anger with love, and to make the sting lessen.  And then I cried myself  to sleep.

We have to stop judging people.  We are always going to have different opinions, and sometimes they will be about topics in which we will have strong opinions and feelings.  This is a test of your charity.  Please, share your beliefs all you want, but don't be pointing fingers.  It's not a surprise you're all mad at each other.  Everyone knows a conversation will never end well when it's always "you do this" or "I don't like how you...".

This was definitely a rant post, but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way and I'm fairly certain you were the people who kept quiet all weekend.  So, I'm sorry if you had a sucky weekend as well.  I still believe that people are inherently good, but the internet is just so good at providing mediums for tactless comments.

Oh, and please don't say "The next thing we know polygamy will be legalized!"  Because guess what--we already did that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

That's why it's called FAITH

I am LDS.  I grew up Mormon, went to church every Sunday, went to Early Morning Seminary every weekday through high school, go to BYU, served a full time mission, and basically just drip of Mormon shiz.  But I guess I'm done just playing that part of the model Mormon. Because I'm not, and I don't want to trick people into thinking that I am.  Let's be real.  I've got problems.  And I'm pretty darn sure all of you have got problems of your own.  It's not like we need to make our trials public on our Facebook walls, or explain our sins at the pulpit #awkwardtestimonyproblems, but we don't have to make people think that we've got it all together and that our faith is super strong and unwavering.  Because news flash: faith doesn't necessarily mean sure knowledge.  Remember that scripture that says, " is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21).  Alright, the English major in me wants to explain why I used that quote, but I'm gonna break the rules (because I'm super edgy) and just let you ponder on that while you simultaneously continue reading.  You can do it.  You're probably smart.

So here's the thing.  I've got questions.  I've got loads of them.  Does that make me a bad Mormon?  No, of course not.  People are always saying it's good to have questions.  It's ok to have doubts.  I'm pretty sure lots of people wonder why marriage and family are the focus of our faith, but some people never can get married and some women can never have children.  No one really knows why black people couldn't hold the priesthood until 1978.  There are a lot of things we just don't know.  But it's when you voice certain questions, or certain doubts when people start to get awkward.  And suddenly if you have these questions, they judge your faith, or what kind of Mormon you are. (Whatever that means.)  So here is an example that I can think of off the top of my head that is guaranteed to make many members cringe.   Women and the priesthood (or the lack of).  Did that make you wince?  Did you shrink at the thought of talking about this in Sunday School because you've had some uncomfortable memories?  Do you wonder about this yourself, but feel like if you bring it up people will question your faith?  Ok sorry, I'll stop bombarding you with rhetorical questions.

I'm starting a new paragraph because the other one was getting too long.  My English professors would not be impressed.  Anyway.  Why do we get so uncomfortable when women and the priesthood gets mentioned?  There are many questions we can't answer, but why is this question the awkward preteen covered in acne and self-consciousness when the other questions are just cute and ignorant?  (That was my attempt at personifying questions.)  There are probably lots of reasons, but I am going to focus on one explanation.  Really, what I think it comes down to is our attempts of reasoning our way out of the question.  Instead of giving real answers (because we don't KNOW right now) we try to explain why women don't have the priesthood.  How many times have you heard that women don't have the priesthood because their role is to have children?  Or that men are the lesser sex so they NEED the priesthood to make them better.  Gag me with a spoon.  Please.  This post's purpose isn't to talk about women and the priesthood, but let me clarify some things before I move on.  First of all, don't compare priesthood with motherhood.  They're not comparable.  Fatherhood and motherhood is the binary.  Priesthood has nothing to do with that.  Second, women are not better than men, so don't try to make me feel better about not holding the priesthood by placing me on a pedestal.

Ok I'm done with that.  But if you want to read about 13 more pages of that click here.  I wrote a paper about The Feminine Mystique and how it relates to the LDS culture last semester.

And this is where I'll try to bring this all back together.  People, YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW THE ANSWERS TO EVERYTHING.  Because we just don't know everything right now and the minute you start reasoning your way through questions you've got people saying that men suck so they have the priesthood and women aren't worthy if they aren't mothers.  It's OKAY to say "I don't know."  You can have super duper awesome faith without knowing because like Alma 32 said, it's not a perfect knowledge, it's a hope.  If we knew the answer to all our religious questions, faith wouldn't be necessary.  I believe that having questions and facing your doubts is the ultimate act of faith.  Not knowing is scary, but that's why we have faith.  It's a hope for things that are true.  I have a pretty solid testimony that God is my loving Heavenly Father.  I also know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.  I can't claim that I know everything else.  I might believe, or maybe just hope.  But that's good enough.  The prophet and the apostles are the ones who are supposed to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ.  We should be sharing our witness to others, but it's not the same.

So again, let's be real.  I love being Mormon.  I love the direction and happiness it has provided me.  I love how the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives my life meaning and pushes me to be better.  I will try to be my best self, but I'm not gonna try to make you think I've got it all together.  But even though my life might seem like a mess right now, that doesn't mean it always will.  I have that faith, but that doesn't mean it's perfect.  Because is that even possible?