Sierra's View: December 2011

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

an explanation of the past few months...

Are you ready for this? It's kind of intense. Hey, I warned you. I would really like your input, advice, and opinion on this one! 

"Expectation is the root of all hatred." (See Expectation post.)
Isn't that the truth, though? When we expect specific actions, attributes, or achievements from another person, we are constantly going to be let down. My expectations, particularly at this point in time, are rather high because I want others to solve the pain and the things I can't quite figure out on my own right now. It's almost as if I want someone else to fix everything. I look for someone else to do everything right, because I can't seem to do it sufficiently. And when others do something wrong or hurtful (as they usually do unknowingly) it's abnormally devastating to me right now. Logically, I am fully aware that this reasoning is completely irrational and ridiculous, but my heart can't seem to cope any other way. When that person (whoever that person is) does not meet those expectations, often it turns into anger. People differ in their expressions of anger. Some yell, some cry, some avoid. But I have found that anger, ultimately, is the aftermath of expectations not being met. And sometimes that is a scary feeling. Although anger is an emotion that we have all felt, it is also the easier route to take. Because anger usually exists when another emotion is present, but that other feeling tends to be hidden even deeper in the internal structures of our body. We either don't have the tools, capability, or courage to go and find out what that other emotion is. When grief hits, when expectations are not met, anger tends to be the first emotion felt. Why? Because it is a lot easier to be angry, than to be fearful or to be hurt or to feel any other deeper, scarier emotion. Anger, like expectations, exists due to a lack of needs not being met. Recently, anger, for me,  has stemmed from those expectations of others not being met, but more importantly, it has arrived due to my imperfections in coping mechanisms. Then again, there is no perfect way to grieve. Everybody does it at their own speeds and in their own ways. But a part of me gets frustrated, angry, or confused with myself because I feel like it is silly to continue to be this sad. How in the world am I supposed to be feeling right now though? What is considered the "appropriate way" to deal? What is considered the right amount of time until all this pain dissipates? When will it be easy to talk about Holland? When will my family be "normal" again?

This Christmas Holiday has been okay. It's difficult to be home because the last time I was here was for her funeral. And so, through this "homeward bound" experience, this is what I have realized: Anger is easier to handle than grief. When I am angry, I can make everything about someone else, something else. I can even make it His fault. I can focus all my energy on punishing, refusing, or ultimately leaving an entire situation (metaphorically or literally). I have found that I am comforted by anger's sharp, precise lines and it's definite road map.
Grief, however, is a more complicated matter. It is something that I cannot direct. At all. It is about MY loss; everything I once cherished and believed in. It has a component of fear and one of regret--of wishing I could turn back the clock, to more vigilantly try to change things. Pay more attention. Love more fully. Be more available. When the grief hits (which it usually does, particularly at times when I am not even examining or recognizing it), I find myself looking inward, blaming myself for somehow feeling this way and allowing my emotions to rule everything; to destroy everything. Grief also has a disorienting effect, offering absolutely no game plan whatsoever, leaving me one option: to suffer there in the moment until it is usurped or taken over by anger or some unsuspecting emotion.

In midst of this roller coaster of anger, I have found that it is much easier to avoid others and cope internally. I am what psychologists  like to call an "avoider". It's not that I'm avoiding my feelings, I'm just avoiding explaining my feelings. Mostly because it's too complicated to attempt to explain in the first place.  I have been extremely cold and distant in the past few months (well, that's all relative. Cold and distant for me is rather different than someone else's cold and distant!) It is easier for me to be alone because in the quiet moments I can somehow feel a semblance of all the different paths my heart tends to be taking. I am trying so hard to figure out "what is going on with me." It's hard to be around others because I cannot fully explain what I am actually feeling in that moment. Emotions are not black and white right now. I'm not feeling "sad" or "lonely", I am feeling every single emotion piled into one. It's too difficult to explain because it's too difficult to pinpoint the particular emotion. The complexity is confusing though. It is not just a shade of one color. It's as if my emotions are an uneven amount of gray that can't decide if it wants to be black or white.

It also gets confusing because sometimes my grieving entails aspects of me; it's not even about Holland or Lexie or Nick anymore. I become sad and find myself in that rut; in that floodgate of multiple emotions, due to a loss of something else in my own life. Grieving is not just the loss of the specific people who have died in my life, but a loss of everything that I feel is missing. So now, I am not only grieving for Holland, or Ryan, or any others who have passed on before me, but I am grieving for the lack of companionship, drive, etc. in my own life. See how it turned around on me. And how is that fair? How selfish is that? It bothers me that grieving is such a selfish process. I don't mean to be emotional or selfish. My head tells me to get through it, to stop those particular actions. But unfortunately, after all the reading and research that I have done, that is not how the process goes. It's "normal" to go through all of this. Survival takes a portion of self absorption and it, in a way, has made me strangers to a lot of people because they could not relate. 

Yet, It's a constant circle of destruction. 
Because all of that emotion, all of that confusion, is then directed to the Lord. Even though I don't necessarily mean for it to. 
And it's not because I am asking "Why is this happening?" Because I realize that all things are for my good. That there is a reason all of this is happening. But I ask, rather, "When will this be over? When will the pain subside?" And you know what? You know what I have learned?
That sometimes it's okay to be angry with the Lord; it's okay to feel the way that I have been feeling. 
I know that makes me sound like I possess a lack of faith, but I think He gets it. Truly. I think He understands when I am a little frustrated. I know this because I have felt Him say that to me. I have felt Him say, 'It's okay, Sierra. You're okay. Just don't go too far. I am here. And I am sorry." He gets it, as long as I don't go too far for too long. He loves me. Individually. My self worth, my confidence, was lacking for a little while. I felt as though I didn't deserve what was best for me. I don't really know how I was feeling (shocking) I just knew that I was doubting myself, my abilities, and my strengths. But through the many many many tears, I know that He loves me and has given me so many wonderful attributes.  I know that. I have re-learned that over the past four months. It's been lonely, as cliche as that sounds. And even though that loneliness and anger is sometimes directed to the Lord, He has also been the only one to get me through this entire situation. With roommates that I feel are abandoning me, with family that is all grieving on their own so they are unavailable, and with Tanner on a mission, the Lord has been the only constant in my life. 

It's amazing how I can feel everything and nothing at the exact same time. My head and heart seem to be in a constant battle. Sometimes I try everything in my power not to cry because if I start, a floodgate of tears then follows. And sometimes I just can't handle that. However, I have also learned that emotion is not a bad thing. I was reading my dear friend, Erin's blog, and she said exactly what I had typed the day before. (Great minds think alike, Erin!) Emotion is not bad. It's just how you deal with it. It's what you do with it. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry. You just cannot allow those emotions to rule your decisions or stay ever present. I'm not saying that I ignore my emotions. I can't do that. But I can take the sadness with me, keep moving, and integrate it into my life. Eventually that burden will get lighter over time. I have learned that I am a person who has learned happiness through those moments of sadness.  

Coming home has been exactly what I needed. I am surrounded by people who love me unconditionally, just because they are blood (and they have to! Ha!) and because it's a safe place. It's hard for me to want to go back to school, actually. The past few weeks as I have watched my family members grieve and deal with everything in their own special way, I consistently remind myself: "This too shall pass." 

I wanted to get this out before New Years because  I am ready for a fresh start. I am ready for a new beginning. A New Year. How awesome is that? We always get second chances in life.
Happy New Year (even though I strongly dislike this holiday) everyone!
Thank you for your love, patience, and kindness through this roller coaster.
Hey, never a boring day in the life of Sierra, huh? :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011

It's been a wild one at the Ainge home. That's for sure. 
Holidays since the passing of Holland seem to be...different. There doesn't seem to be another way to put it. It's not that it's bad, it's just not as fun or energetic or joyful as it has been in the past. Particularly since everyone seems to still be grieving in one way or the other. 
The loudness was still apparent, however. No need to wonder about that.
 Maybe some dysfunction, too.  Whose family doesn't have that though, right?

On Christmas Eve "Eve", we had a cousin gathering. We put on a talent show. Which, I might add, was the most lame talent show that I have encountered. I sang while Mckenna played the piano and Brizzy sang. Four songs. Diva. That's it. Dearest family of mine: it's time to produce some more talents. We had a gift card white elephant exchange. It was fun to be reunited and laugh together. No one quite understands (or makes fun of you in my case) like your family. 

Christmas Eve incorporated just my immediate family (which in itself was 10 people haha). We had a beautiful family dinner. It was so weird to have an adult Christmas. Most of our Christmases have involved many children. But this year it was just Dane and Brizzy. (And let's be honest, Dane, who is four months old, doesn't really count. He's still adorable though. We'll keep him). 

Christmas was a long day. We went to church first so we didn't open presents until noon. Then, in the midst of the crinkling of wrapping paper being torn apart, we skyped Bri and her family. We didn't finish opening presents until four pm. Yikes. We took our dandy time, eh? 
Santa gave me a brand new blender, crock pot, and Macbook Pro. Guess I was a good girl this year? :)

I have a lot of things on my mind, but I'm trying to figure out how to put it all into words. So, for now, this is what you get. 
It has been so wonderful to just relax, enjoy time with family and friends, and sleep. My goodness! They don't warn you that you are going to be exhausted from going to school every single day. In college, too! And it only gets worse (or so I hear)!

I've been spending the past 24 hours with this little girl while Lex is at the beach. 
I just love her. 

My nieces and nephews are probably the cutest things ever.  
Hope all y'all had a wonderful Christmas too. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Aingels We have Heard on High/Merry Christmas

Catchy title eh? 
Side note: Growing up my family used to go caroling and we'd sing that Christmas song. We thought we were so hilarious. 

Last week, my choir, The Latter Day Celebration Choir (an auditioned group at Orem Institute of Religion) put on our Christmas Nativity Pageant. We, as students, created and built the set, wrote the script, found costumes, and most importantly, sang beautiful music encompassing the true meaning of this Christmas season: the Birth of our Savior. I was given the wonderful opportunity to sing the angel solo in some of the performances. In this particular song, children from the Utah Valley Children's Choir came to sing. They were dressed in all white, acting as the angels who came to wake the shepherds up.

I was extremely humbled and grateful to take part in this show. LDC has a special spirit to them--the people, the music, and the talent involved all creates a wonderful experience. Every day I am grateful to have tried out for this choir. I knew that this was something I was supposed to do. Every single day, I get to sing with these people and be enlightened with the Spirit. How awesome is that? My struggle with LDC has been one with many tears, frustration, and sadness. But, after our last show, I was reminded how truly wonderful this choir is, in spite of the lessons learned.

I am so grateful I was able to take part in this Christmas show because it truly put me in the Christmas spirit in midst of finals, stress, and lack of sleep. Thank you for all those who came out to support!
I won't be posting for the next few days because I'll be soaking up the Christmas laziness and enjoying time with my family ...AKA...eating...a lot...(but, hey, working out too!) but I just wanted to wish you all a very very VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Below is the video of my solo. Enjoy. 
The link below the video is one song from the show that my choir sang. It is called "Father of Light." Listen to the words.  I posted this earlier, but I want to show it again so you can all hear the power. 
Yay for the Christmas season! 

Father of Light


Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm dreaming...

of a green Christmas!
Where: Beautiful Portland, Oregon.
Why/When: Home for the Holidays
What: Workout, eat treats, Christmas festivities, and be with family and friends. 
Three weeks without school. Best Christmas gift ever. 
...I'll keep you posted on life. 

Downtown Portland waterfront

my backyard. 

P.S. And for your entertainment, click HERE .
This is a song (one of my favorites) from the Christmas Nativity Show that my choir put on. It was wonderful. I'm sorry if you missed it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What THIS Christmas Means to Me.

{I just had this feeling that I needed to post this. No idea why. Excuse the intensity.}
There is something so raw, so exquisitely painful and real, about letting go; letting go of an intimate relationship, letting go of a loved one,  or even letting go of the past. 
Sometimes when words seem to fail and tears are all that seem to be apparent, we need to turn to someone, something, for support and strength. 
I think I found it this Christmas season.

"And so this Christmas I'll compare the things I felt in prior years

To what this midnight made so clear: that You have come to meet me here.
And the first time that you opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior?
And the first breath that left Your lips,
Did You know that it would change this world forever?
To look back and think that This baby would one day save me.
That you were born so I might really live.
And I celebrate the day

That You were born to die 
So I could one day pray for You to save my life. "
Relient K - I Celebrate the Day

Friday, December 9, 2011

Growth & Christmas.

I recently (and by recently I mean this entire semester) have been bombarded with trials.
I get trials. I'm a human (big shocker there). But for some strange reason, circumstances keep happening that have been exponentially more difficult than usual.
I finally, after a rough go, feel like I have some semblance of a grasp of my emotions, of these particular trials, that seem to have consistently come my way.
Once I feel like I have that grasp, however, something exasperating happens , and I am once again run over (metaphorically speaking, of course).

This idea of growth has been a constant struggle.
Through deaths and other recent personal battles, I have had to dig inside myself and find what growth truly means. 

First, I have began to notice that everything, in life, happens for a reason. As I am sitting here writing this blog, I am listening to Tanner on a recording. We send a recording device back and forth and it is so wonderful to hear his voice. I feel like he is sitting next to me, holding a conversation. It makes me feel a little less alone. It was, by no coincidence at all, that particular recording showed up on my doorstep (or in my mailbox. Po-tay-toe poh-tah-toe) on a day when I needed it the most. The other night, I had a "mental breakdown." I happened to text my dear friend, Allie, right before about matters that were completely unrelated. She called me and I lost it. It was humiliating, but I did in fact lose it. I don't think it was any coincidence at all that she happened to be driving by my apartment in that moment. I am grateful for her and her comforting words. I am grateful that the Lord placed her in that spot, at that time, and in my life general.
Growth is recognizing that the Lord has a hand in everything.  

Also, I have found my negativity to be wearing on others. And I feel awful for putting that on others around me. Sometimes this battle is a little too intense for me, so the negativity is my outlet. I have been given the opportunity to sing a solo in my choir's most recent Christmas pageant (This Sunday, Dec. 11, at 6 and 8. UVU Institute Building. Be there!) and I feel extremely inadequate to be doing it. I'm not entirely sure why. Probably because I feel inadequate in a lot of aspects of my life right now.
But, as I have been pondering, I had an epiphany. I think that's a part of growth:
Humbling yourself; feeling inadequate so that the Lord can strengthen you. 

I literally live my life one hour at a time. I have always been an organized person, but I live my life in a pretty spontaneous manner. But this, right now, is a time where I can only live my life one hour at a time. Because if I begin to think about everything (as I usually do), I become physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.
But, I think that's okay! The Lord knows how much I can take right now. I know how much I can take right now. Sometimes I feel like I should be working harder, smiling more, being kinder, and being more compassionate and giving this Christmas season. But the important part about that is this: the fact that I am trying. He is happy when we all just try to do our best. He loves us. This holiday is to celebrate a perfect being who loves us perfectly. We can grow because of His immaculate, unconditional love. 

This Christmas season is all about celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Birth is a hard concept for me to wrap my head around right now. Whenever I hear someone talk about babies, I instantly think of Holland.
I recently received news from dear friends in Kenya. Joseph and Mwaka are our the main correlation between Kenya and Kenya Keys. They fed us and took care of us while we were in Kenya. They do so much for the organization and are two of the most hardworking people I have ever met. Their example is constant. They had been trying for 11 years to get pregnant. Finally, this miracle happened and Mwaka was pregnant when we were living there this past summer.
Long story made short, Mwaka delivered a stillborn. When I received this news, my heart ached. I know how desperately they had been aching for this child; and then to lose it. My sympathy and empathy towards their loss is unimaginable.
 I see others' lives (my sister and brother in law, Mwaka and Joseph, etc.) around me and I am grateful for the steps, for the trials, they are taking. They are a testament of growth; of allowing the Savior to mend you in a way that He wants. This melding, interestingly enough, will (and should) mold into what you want to become as well. Unfortunately, reality is a little more difficult  than that though. Often times we are unaware of why He does the things He does in order to allow us to grow. I think we all understand that we are given these trials for a purpose. But allowing them and humbly receiving them is a different story. As we celebrate the best birthday ever (yee!) this season, may we each include thanks for His birth, for His life, for His atoning sacrifice, for His death, and for His example.

"He knows all of my feelings; the depths of despair. All the limits my soul can endure. I will trust in His name, I have nothing to fear. For in Him, all my hopes are secure."


Thursday, December 8, 2011


happens. Love and Words help. Here's what I've been learning. 

from me: 
I never want to be angry; I never want to let fear control me. Sadness will come. It will definitely come. It is a part of life, a part of what makes us, well, us. Embrace it, learn from it, and don't look back on those times with negativity. Don't curse all sadness-- that it should have never happened. Take those things near, hold them, but don't let them overpower you in a way that ends up destroying your entire being. 

and the scriptures: 
 "...if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if heavens gather blackness and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know though, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (D&C 122:7)

Christlike Christmas Characteristic (3 points for alliteration) that I (we?) are going to work on this week: 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Songs.

Happy December!
I have decided to make a playlist of some of my favorite Christmas songs so that you can spread and savor Christmas cheer through music!
I have so many thoughts that I want to write currently, but they are so jumbled that this is all my brain (and heart) can handle right now.
So, enjoy! Eat your little heart out, sing a long to these songs, and illegally download away! Let's just all be honest here (Tis the Season), we all do it. 

Oh, and you're welcome.

Celine Dion: O Holy Night
Celine Dion: Feliz Navidad
Celine Dion: Don't Save it All for Christmas Day
Okay, you know what...just ALL of Celine's Christmas CD. Moving on. 
David Archuleta: I'll Be Home For Christmas
David Archuleta: Melodies of Christmas 
David Archuleta: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 
Yep, all of David's Christmas album too. 
Chuck Berry: Run, Rudolph, Run
Faith Hill: Where are You Christmas?
Glee: Last Christmas
Justin Bieber: Mistletoe
Josh Groban: Silent Night
Josh Groban and Faith Hill: The First Noel 
(Yep, you guessed it. All of Faith and Josh's album too)
Kelly Clarkson: My Grown Up Christmas List
Mariah Carey: Jesus Born on this day
Mariah Carey: Joy to the World
Mariah Carey: All I want for Christmas is You (big shocker)
(Okay, AND all of Mariah's album)
Michael Buble: Cold December Night
(Yea...and Michael's entire album...)
N'Sync: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
N'Sync: Oh, Holy Night
(All of N'sync too...have you noticed the pattern yet?)
Paul Mccartney: Wonderful Christmastime
Sarah Mclachlan and Ingrid Michaelson: Winter Song
Taylor Swift: Christmases When You Were Mine
Martina Mcbride and Martin Dean: Baby, It's Cold Outside
Michael Mclean: The Forgotten Carols (entire album)
Sara Bareilles: Love is Christmas 
Stevie Wonder: What Christmas Means to Me
Brenda Lee: Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
Savior of the World: Look On Me This Day & Come, Lord Jesus Come.

Do you have any other songs you absolutely love and would like to share? These are just some of my absolute favorites. 

Oh, and here is a picture of my choir and I singing with Michael Mclean at the Forgotten Carols.
I love Christmas time.
And Christmas music
And the Savior. 
That's all. For now. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh, My Heart.

I saw this video a couple of minutes ago.
It's a miracle that I didn't start bawling.
This hits a little too close to home right now.

Two Years from Hailey Haugen on Vimeo.