Thursday, February 18, 2016

Proven Way to Receive Inspiration

Imagine for a moment that a friend comes to you seeking advice on

How to improve your ability to  receive personal revelation.

You can only offer one idea.  What is it?

  • A General Authority (Marion Romney) asked this question to another apostle (Harold B. Lee).  He gave him this perfect suggestion.

  • Additional blessings are pledged to us if we do it.

  • Abraham used this suggestion in Genesis 19:27.

  • Moses used it in Exodus 34:4

  • Joshua did it in Joshua 6:12

  • The Lord-God followed it in Mark 1:35

  • This one advice has proven added physical health benefit. 

  • We are promised to not be weary, but be invigorated if we keep it. 

  • All of the Quorum of the Twelve live this answer daily.

  • It’s the #1 reason teens struggle with brain dysfunction.  

  • Not doing it is the #1 cause of depression. Elder Russell M. Nelson doing  it will rescue those  “defeated and downtrodden.” 

  • Research at BYU proves a decline in GPA for every time this advice isn’t maintained. 

  • It is adversely affected by blue lights of screen time. 
  • Aristotle recommends it as a main contributor to health, wealth and wisdom.

  • Ben Franklin said health, wealth and wisdom are consequences of this one thing.

Read the July 2015 Ensign article for the one simple change in your life that will improve it more than any other self help tip.   I promise--It's in the Scriptures.    

Young Adults, Fill Your Life With Energy   Randal Wright 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine Sonata

Valentine Sonata '95
I spent the day in paper chaos
Searching for the perfect card
Striving for that phrase immortal
to impress you like The Bard.
My mind was tumbling with verses
Roses Are Red, or I Love You Because,
But nothing seemed to fit you perfect;
So unique—you grant me pause.

I knew that I would never find
A card to express what’s on my mind.
It seemed so hopeless. I felt despair.
At once I thought, “Get lingeriererr!”

I rebuked myself, “Concede defeat?”
Not me! You know, I’ve such conceit!
A thought then struck. “A poem attempt
I’ll write and express the evident!”

I struggled and suffered the lines to rhyme,
but was suddenly, rudely reminded, “The time!”
The children were starved. Dr. Seuss had ended
The dinner uncooked, the laundry resplendent

The moment was lost; could not be recaptured
My desolation complete; you would not be enraptured
When suddenly, wonderfully, it came so inspired
Personally, to angels, my life must be wired

A revelation! An answer! A thought so sincere
I’ll just resurrect the card you gave me from last year!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ten Embarrassing Application Mistakes that Will Keep You Out of College

So you want to go to college?

Great! Here are 10 embarrassing mistakes to avoid. 

1, Imperfect spelling and grammar. This must be FLAWLESS. Check especially for misspelling the name of the university you're applying to (also, spell it out--UCLA should be University of California, Las Angeles). Use more formal grammar--no dangling prepositions (like the one in the previous sentence--no, no!) and for pity's sake, NO text-speak. If you lol or ttyl, they will dump you like a dead fish. 

 2. Essays that are egocentric, boring, typical, obvious, overdone, immature or dripping with metaphors. Don't talk about yourself as a butterfly, and don't mention any roads or journeys. You must stand out from other essays--keep in mind how many of these things the committee is going to read. Try skimming through your essay at X5 speed and see what you come away with--and it had better not be spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar. 

3. Essays that haven't had very much review. You should have a minimum of 5 drafts and a minimum of 4 people read the FINISHED, polished essay to check for mistakes and make suggestions. Don't celebrate too early--chances are you aren't done yet. 

4. An immature or odd email address. Your entire application must say "PROFESSIONAL. READY FOR COLLEGIATE LEVEL WORK," not, "BIKINIBABE34." Make an email address that is simply your name, ie It can be an account that just forwards itself to your "real" email, but it's going to be vital for future work and other applications.

5.  Being late. This matters more than anything else you have going on right now, I guarantee it. A thrown-together application will prove that you don't have the time management skills necessary for college. 

So follow our instructions and don't be the one that the application committee laughs at--or groans over. Remember that you're PROVING that you're ready for college: a smart, put-together, professional, brilliant and ready youth. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Choice: Birth--Death The Morphosis of Womanhood

I just read an article makes three relevant points, that women are experiencing a revolutionary transition of personal power, that birth control is the impetus, and that womanhood is in morphosis.  I write on the cautionary genesis of that process.

I counter the basic idea of the article that society's convenience is reason enough to justify birth decisions or the end of birth--the death of life.  Although we are experiencing unprecedented  reproductive freedom,  women are still subject to what some think of as arbitrary forces of nature, subject to age, infertility and happenstance and to assume that we have gained some control over that merely because we have come into our own "womanhood" may be a fallacy.    Like a child who begins to recognize that he rules the world, then fears that he rules the world we must recognize that with increased freedom of choice comes natural, and irrevocable consequence.  I myself had to come to that untidy conclusion with the risks of some birth control that modify the body to reject future pregnancy.

Presuming that we can circumvent nature's reality with impunity is naive.  It is a contradiction to ignore the mind/body connection that ultimately requires humble supplication of self at every point--to nature, or to a God, to a world, an opinion, in relationships, or to illness and all the other ways to which we as human beings involuntarily relinquish control and are acted upon.  Even to the consequence of the humanity of the anguish of abortion.

We've come to believe--no to expect--that we have control and expecting that we exercise a sense of power over nature without consequence is at the core of this new womanhood question.  Continuing to further that argument leads us to believe that life is trivial and can be had at our own behest and on demand--further leading to the cavalier idea of humanity as a fungible and resulting in the devastation that we are now experiencing.

That being said,  my pro-life stance is that while women’s reproductive domination by man may be coming to an end, nature's control cannot be ignored.  As we become free from being acted upon we must more fully be willing to accept the ramifications of our own actions.  It is an enlightened woman who recognizes her place in the world universe and her eternal responsibility to the freedom of childbearing.  This responsibility is greater than surrendering choice, it is cautiously and carefully considering how to submit to a natural, more powerful version of nature's intent.

A responsible for life.  When we are considerate and adequately reverent of that, the lines of responsibility are more easily drawn.

Reality Bite:  Then we can more truthfully look to the added responsibilities of the choice of life--social responsibility, structure, care, nurturing, and education.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Man Plan -- (A Satire)

The Man Plan

The Man Plan

The men who lead our church youth group have an easy-going leadership style. They don’t get caught up in minutiae.  They stay flexible and just go with the flow.  

Guys plan with a laid-back attitude and I watch with awe.    Maybe it’s a gender thing that is uniform in church leaderships worldwide? 

Men don’t sweat the small stuff.  While women spend months on details like  “the  table centerpiece,” the guys live,“Let it Go,” long before it was a song.

In our house, the cool and calm planning attitude of man gets twisted by the whirlwind that is woman,  and when it does, the blustery moments usually result in tornadoes.

Like last night.  My husband tries to balance his natural man-planning with mine, the wifely PCD’r (planning compulsively disordered) .  It was our weekly-annual planning meeting, and as usual, I took the lead.  

“There is a youth activity planned; Let me have our son explain it to you,” I say.

The son shuffles in and mumbles, “It’s our turn to be in charge of the Wednesday activity.” 

“Really,” the husband looks shocked, “Already?  Are you sure?”  His response surprises me.  I expected the male “be cool fool, we got this,” attitude.  He must be channeling his femistique.

symbols-004The guy knows that the boys and girls take turns overseeing the planning—and that means somehow his time and space  has warped six months and that rift has created a deep-down fissure that could prove treacherous.

I interject coolly, “It doesn’t matter.”   I figure if he’s switching up genders, I will too.

“No,”  he recovers, “It does matter.  It’s important to follow the calendared plan.”

Still,  I can tell the unfamiliar underpinnings are chafing.
“Well,”   I replied, “You are right, and if there were such a thing as a plan...” 

The importance of a plan!   I have learned this from my study of a compilation of leadership books that could be titled, “The Mindset and Element of the Seven Habits of  Leadership Skills”.   Every one of those leader-building books insist that ‘The End Will Begin’ only if it’s calendared. 

So I persist,  “…let me give you an imagined scenario of how the man-planning process would go.” And I began relating the story as I have watched it played out over my experienced decades of youth activity planning. 

And to enhance the experience,  I will perform this in a duo of male voices. 
(First, in the bass of a radio announcer,)  "A day in the life of a male youth leader."  The alarm rings and the hand reaches for the cell phone and hits calendar. "Brainwaves begin  to roll in."

( The vocal pitch changes to treble,) “Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge of the activity tomorrow night?” as the man scans the smart phone.   “Whose week is it anyway?”

(Changing back to the Elvis voice.)  "And a distant memory from a planning meeting begins to struggle up  from the depths and belches a vague recall."
 (Back to the Sinatra voice,) “Seems like I heard the older group’s got it.  I heard they were planning something that sounded like fun.” 

(Bass,) "And the relief endorphins kick in."

(Tenor,) “Wow, great.  Wonder if they need help? I’ll text them tomorrow."  

(B,) "But then just as he’s rolling over, his calendar pings."

(T,) “Oh, but I have that late meeting at work tomorrow.  I’m sure they will let me know if they need anything.  Yeah, they have my number.” 

Now, I’ve been using my voice skills, and my psychic man-channeling that’s been honed through thirty-some years of close marital contact, so as I wind down and slam the imaginary smart-flip phone shut, (because no one has ever effectively demonstrated the end of anything without a satisfactorily slam of something,)  I look at the man and his cub and say, “And that’s how it will go.”

“So honey,” I conclude in my normal voice, “I think that if you plan it, all will be okay.” 

My husband, the consummate critic of my acting skills, quirks a questioning eyebrow and says, “Maybe we just better be sure.” 

“Hey,” I counter the criticism , ‘ I cleared this activity months ago with the young women leader.” 

“Yeah, still…” his dubious mind balks at my unfamiliar faux-male casual attitude and he hesitates, proving his ignorance of  the critical component of church calendaring,  'estrogen.'   He turns to the budding planner, my son the micro-male and says, “Who can you call?” 

“Well,”  I stifle the response that resounds in my head, “that would be the young woman leader.”     

I’m more than a little shocked that flipping out the female card hasn’t trumped and my mind races ahead to what deeper issue he may have that I haven’t already mentally considered and resolved. 

“Honey,” my husband, the long-term analyst-for-a-living rebukes, “I just don’t want to have to do this again in a month, if it’s not our turn.” 

And there we have it;  the real crux.  My mind leaps to a resolution and the drama drag queen begs to emerge.

“Oh, I get it.  Let me allay your concerns.  Let’s visualize next month, and imagine the thoughts of one of the other young men leaders,”  and with a throat clearing,  I drop back into my man-channeling persona. 

 “Announcing a day in the life of a typical man.  Brainwaves begin  to roll in,” booms me.

My tenor, “’Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge of the activity tomorrow night?’ flipping open that magical smart/flip phone.   ‘What week is it anyway?’  

"And a distant memory belches a vague recall."

“I remember that great activity from last month and the guys planned it… so it must be the girls.”  

"And with that, all youth-activity-centered-thought ceases and the mind shifts to other world-related problems."

"The next month arrives and again youth-activity-centered thought belches," 

 “Hmmm, wonder who’s in charge tomorrow night?  Is it my week?  Ah, I recall that great activity … but it wasn’t last month as that was the girls, so it might be us...” 

"And the man pushes the button and tells SIRI, 'Text  the other male leader.'"

Back in my own voice at home, in the kitchen, the husband watches enrapt with a slight smile on his face and I know I’ve entertained.  

Then I wrap it up, “And every other month from then on,  that ‘great’ activity will be remembered and remarked upon.”

And the coup-de-gras--the last word?   I got it.    

"You may not have to ‘plan’ again for six more months.”   

And that's it, the brilliance of The Man Plan.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Can I Learn To Love Those I Hate?

Dia talk college BYU 2008 singles ward

Hate Thy Brother? 
Remember that the family is the most sacred unit of the Church. –For the Strength of Youth

Right now, I’d like you to think about the person in your life who is most difficult to get along with—whether they be a family member, roommate, classmate, coworker or that one guy who cuts in line every morning at Jamba Juice—whomever, it’s not important. What is important is that you remember this person all the way to the end of this talk—so, if your memory is like mine or if you have a tendency to doze, you might want to write their name down. If it’s the person sitting next to you, I’d write it small.

Let me tell you—this is not my tried and true method of giving talks.  Usually I like to get up and stun the audience with a long chain of scriptures, hymn numbers and Bible dictionary definitions and then, while everyone’s still searching for the first reference, offer a quick testimony and sit down. If I do it right, I don’t even have to look nice because everyone’s looking at the standard works the whole time. However, I really felt I needed to share something different with you today.

Do you have your person in mind?  Let me tell you about my someone that I struggled with.

  • When I knew him, he was fourteen years old and flunking out of school—again.
  • He couldn’t concentrate in class and preferred to read comic books.
  • His mind was filled with the most trivial of trivia. He could tell you how many medic stations there are aboard the Enterprise, but he couldn’t multiply six and eight. He knew the names, types and skills of all three hundred and however-many Pokemon but couldn’t tell you what he wore yesterday.
  • He was absolutely self-oblivious. He’d forget to shower (or to use soap once he was in the shower), change his clothes or brush his teeth—and he was smack in the middle of puberty. His belches were audible from China.
  • He didn’t have any friends (big surprise) because he couldn’t carry on a conversation. He was an extreme introvert-- offering an icy glare to anyone who tried to even introduce themselves and a sarcastic dismissal to conversation starters. He had absolutely no sense of social norms, manners or fashion.
  • He had one older sister who was sailing through the social scene in high school and would probably end up valedictorian. She was forced to take him to social events and church activities, where her friends made fun of him. His parents were at a loss. He lived in a part-member family and wasn’t baptized—and showed no visible interest in it or in getting the priesthood.  He had to be forced to get up and go to early-morning Seminary. In my opinion, he was a failure at school, at church and at home—to his teachers, his bishop and his family.

His name was Ian, and he was my little brother.

Now, I realized while preparing this talk that it’s a little odd to talk about family in a single’s ward—I can’t exactly censure you about your relationships with your brothers, sisters or parents in the traditional sense by telling you to spend more time with them or to stop missing your curfew.  That said, my hope is that my experiences with family can be applied to our lives, present day, twenty-something working-single-college or grad school-students.  

When I was sixteen, my little brother was the bane of my near-perfect existence. My growing social life, blossoming relationships with teachers and budding reputation at church were crippled by this failure—who, by mother’s decree, followed me everywhere. Ian went with me to Mutual activities, dances and Seminary by necessity, but was also sent along with me to club activities, friends’ parties and even—horrors!—on dates.   He was the guy who called shotgun

He hated going almost as much as I hated taking him. My friends responded to my treatment of him and accordingly teased or ignored him. He responded with rude sarcasm or icy silence, which hardly improved anyone’s opinion of him.

Now let me tell you how this little book—the Book of Mormon—changes lives.

On March 17, 2006, I was sitting in the Oklahoma City Temple with my ward. I was the only member of my family there because no one else could come to the temple—including Ian, who came to church with me and my mom, but had never been baptized. I was all too aware of this in the temple, watching other sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers. At some point, I pulled out my For the Strength of Youth. In the family section, I read a few sentences that changed my life. “Strengthen your relationships with your brothers and sisters. They can become your closest friends. Support them in their interests and help them with problems they may be facing.”

President Harold B. Lee told us “the most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes” and we know, of course, that “no success compensates for failure in the home,” but as a 16 year old, I’d always assumed this would only apply to me when I had my own home.

What I learned that day was that Ian was startlingly odd, quirky to the extreme, enigmatic in every way—but he was my brother, and these few words—“they can become your closest friends”.  

This revelation made me realize that my attitude was the problem between us, not his personality. Nothing about him changed, but I was starting to adjust my own perspective.

If time—Moses 1: 3-4, 6, 12-13, 16

Why are we given families? Lots of reasons, of course, but in a few words—to have at least one person who will love us no matter what. If we can have just that one person rooting for us, the whole world seems brighter.

Preach My Gospel is pretty much my favorite text in the whole world. It coaches missionaries teaching the first lesson to compare the love of God to the love of a parent. How could we understand the love of God for us if we did not feel that overwhelming, absolute and never ending love from our families?

How could I understand the importance of charity and loving everyone as my brother if I didn’t learn to love my brother first?

Families are a microcosm of how God’s family (mankind) should treat one another. Hopefully our relationships with our family members help us realize that we can love anyone—even that person you wrote down back at the beginning of this talk.

We all know that the reason we treat others bad is because of our own insecurities.   The meaner the girl, the more insecure they are.  

I came to realize that the one reason I couldn’t show love for my little brother before was because of my OWN weaknesses and inadequacies—these stemmed from the relationship that I lacked with my elder brother, Jesus Christ.

As we learned from that verse in Moses, when people realize that someone--anyone thinks they are worthwhile, they live up to that expectation.  

My changes with Ian were slow and painful and so different than I had thought they would be. I began by praying to love him better, but I quickly found that with that prayer what I accomlished was that I really prayed to love myself better so I could be more open to his quirky tendencies. 

I practiced patience and learned to laugh at myself when his antics got me upset.  I reviewed my friends and only made friends who would be friends with me in spite of and because of my oddball little brother. 

It came—as I realized that I respected him, he started to trust me. We learned to enjoy the things we had in common and to capitalize on those similarities. We started with just a few things, but grew closer and closer as we learned to love each other. 

By my senior year, we were referred to as the Dynamic Darcey Duo in Seminary, carried out entire conversations in solely movie quotes and memorized every other word of scripture masteries—so we passed them off together.

He is now my go-to-guy in everything, scriptures, history, doctrine.  He knows it everything... well, about everything.  

Sweetest of all, Ian was baptized when I was seventeen, twenty-one months after I realized in the temple that I wanted him to be there with me.

Now, I can thankfully and joyfully tell you that we are the closest of friends. 

He is the most brilliant person I know in terms of history, computers, astronomy, mythology, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the scriptures.  

We’re still really different—sometimes he still forgets to shower—but we have learned slowly and painfully to treasure those differences.

We have become the closest of friends because I have applied the atonement in our relationship and have learned to love like the Savior.  

And he’s going to teach me how to sword fight this summer.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Momma's Mantras

An Ode to my Mommy by Dia 2014 Mother's Day    

"The loss of her parents, sudden, unexpected, must have seemed to the little girl like total betrayal. 'Not her Mommy!' one of her friends cried. To the small child Mommy is still god, and therefore immortal, and must not betray the child and the universe by dying." A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L'Engle

Mother is everything, the beginning of beginnings, the start of life. As Doctor Who (who can speak baby) responds to one infant's cooing, "You really should call him Daddy, not just not-Mummy." Mom is, in one sense, just a person--with her projects, her personality, her baggage, her positives and negatives, her problems, her programs. But her personhood teaches us, the little people, what and how personhood can happen. She teaches through her very ontology, through her being. 

The following is an incomplete musing on my mommy's mantras--what she taught us without really saying it out loud.   And let's be honest, we're all glad it's incomplete. We'd have to include her mantra (in great grandma's words), "Damn isn't a swear word, it's a place" and "a little yelling can make you feel better," along with other less humorously un-praiseworthy things. But if it is incomplete in its damning, it is more incomplete in its praise and celebration.   Mom, you wouldn't be you without all sides and all intricacies and all imperfections, and we're grateful for your choice to be a Mother along with all else.

Mom’s ability to sew taught more than geometry and home-tech skills. Through that one skill, she models thrift, modesty, integrity, creativity and munificence as she stitches away at our projects:  She sewed countless formal dresses and Halloween costumes long into the night, my choir dress shoulder shrug, dresses made more modest for my friends, and an ingenious pencil case out of a pair of shorts that made me the talk of the homeroom class for the year,  Oh, and let us not forget how you fixed that dreaded tie skirt. 

Mom was willing to put the time behind her injunction to “use your head, Fred” as she creatively and determinedly put all her energies into every problem at hand. From her, I learned, "there is always a solution" and "we'll make it work" and with enough resources, problem-solving, hours and creativity, "Yes, you can do Halloween as a human-sized tarantula complete with 8 moving legs and venomous fangs."   For her, sewing shows love and so she stitched my dress for the wedding reception and her own dress for my wedding.  I remember seeing her for the first time--after the sealing had finished--in the dressing room, resplendent and glowing and gorgeous in a hand-sewn purple dress. "No fair, Mom, you're going to steal my thunder."

Mom taught us to do hard things, and not only do them but improve with hard work and humility. I remember having a spit-fire-hissy-fit-tantrum once when she looked at a self-portrait I'd blown off quickly for the 4th grade parents-to-school night because "I'm not an artist." 

"You can do better," she responded (to my shock), and she sat me down and taught me about proportion, angle and perspective. After an hour or so of tearful sulking behind a slammed door, I realized I really could do better, and tried, and did better, and changed my perspective of myself forever afterward: "I can do new things, and if I'm humble enough to take correction, I can improve."

I remember Mom inventing ingenious new methods for boring tasks like patiently brushing Ian’s teeth reciting A, ">Apatosaurus, B, Brachiosaurus, C, Corythosaurus, D, Deinonychus,and all the way through the alphabet every single night. This was the only tactic that would hold his attention long enough to stand still and have his teeth brushed. 

Whenever she watched a friend or neighbor's crazy, filthy children, she would teach every single one--individually, and with utmost love and attention, and often with a humorous story or illustration--why we put away our toys, and why we washed our hands. She taught us that children are creative, intelligent, important and worthwhile---by treating them as though they are.

I'm hoping to keep learning from her for a long, long time, because though I've got "person" down OK, I still need so much help in learning how to teach personhood to a new little person. I hope my little person can learn just as much from Grandmother (Nina's) mantras as I learned from her.