Sierra's View: February 2016

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Monday, February 29, 2016

President's/Valentine's Day Weekend!

Over President's Day and Valentine's Day, it was a long weekend. Some friends of ours have a cabin at Brian Head Ski Resort down by Cedar City, Utah. We packed our bags and had a mini getaway. It was such a fun weekend of skiing, playing games with our favorite couple friends Josh and Carli, and watching movies (that's pretty much all we did!). We went to church in a little town hall and everyone was in their snow gear. It was AWESOME. The service was 45 minutes and my little heart was so happy (but seriously? Why isn't sacrament meeting only 45 minutes? Church needs to be 2 hours. I will make this happen, guys). My first day back not he slopes in a few years--I taught myself to ski my freshman year of college--I did not fall. I was only going down green, but hey, I loved being out on the mountains again! I had a little anxiety attack out on the mountain on our second day. I think my legs were tired, I was tired, and I hadn't slept. It was cold and I seemed to just be struggling a bit, so I kind of shut down. Not my finest hour. Overall, though, my first day back on the slopes in a few years and I did okay!! Woot. (It's the small battles that we overcome, right?)

Here are some awesome moments from the mini getaway. 

Photos from instagram 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Man Called Ove (Book Club!!) // Sierra's Book Reviews

Like I mentioned last month, I love being in a book club. I am excited to be the co-host with Bonnie this month for the novel "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman. 

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

My thoughts: 
One thing that is so interesting to me about book clubs is that I come away from them with such a different perspective than I did before going in. This novel caused such an interesting discussion because some members of the group did not love the cheesiness that accompanied this story. Call me a romantic (okay, I am one!) but I loved it. I loved the heartfelt, compelling story that showed that even a horrible man like Ove, all have a good side, even if it's in unconventional ways. I think that Ove's character is incredibly unlikeable. In a way, almost painful. He is, frankly, horrible. He is a bitter old man (although the book said that he was 59? Since when is that considered old? That was a bit confusing) who clearly has a lot of negative emotion to work through. For me, I wanted to learn about his past. I know that Ove was stuck in his ways because of experiences that we went through. So, for me, I wanted to keep reading so that I could understand WHY he was acting that way. I don't think that Ove could have  carried the story alone. I think that he needed some serious help from his hilarious neighbors, if that makes sense. With that, my favorite character in the story is Paravaneh. I loved her. So much. I loved that she was feisty and annoying, but you loved her in spite of them. I loved that she didn't take Ove's crap. She added some pizzazz and realistic nature to the story,  in my opinion.

The way that Ove talks about his and Sonja's relationship will tear at any female's heartstrings. It is clear that he felt that she married way below her level. In his mind, Sonja was perfect because she had passed on. And although that was a little annoying, for me, it was endearing. When someone passes on, you tend to just remember the good things. I hope that my husband thinks of our memories and me the way that Ove does with his spouse.

In the story, Ove mentions that when you don't share sorrow, it can drive you a part. That is what happened with him and his neighbor Rhune. I think that this is SO true. Often times when someone is going through a hard time, they need someone to step up and in a sense say "I'm here for you. I've been through this." These types of trials either make or break a relationship. Unfortunately, for Rhune and Ove, the death of a loved one, tore them apart. I have seen this happen in my own life and the lives of so many others, so I could relate to this part of the story immensely.

Oh, the cat. I love the cat. The cat symbolized, in my opinion, Sonja. Ove talks about her love for cats and when he meets cat, he feels a sense of duty to take care of it...for Sonja's sake. I actually thought it was funny because he IS a cat. He is fickle and particular--cats only like you if they choose to like you, and that's exactly what Ove does. I felt that they were companions and that he could subconsciously, relate to this cat. The saab. The stupid Saab. So annoying. I wanted the author to shut up about it! But the Saab symbolizes his unwillingness to change. Also, the fact that he put his heart and soul into that car and it was something that he prided himself in.

All in all, this book was not perfect. It had many flaws. It wasn't written amazingly well (was it translated from Swedish, by the way? We were wondering that in book club? I know he is a Swedish author...), One's grumpiness, for me, got quite annoying (Like...we get are pissed off at the world! Ha) and the idealism that correlates with this story can be unrealistic. But, honestly, I loved it. I found myself crying towards the last few pages because it just made me want to be a better person. As cheesy as that sounds. I loved seeing the beauty of change in mankind and all the wonderful things that can happen when you have a "village that loves you."

Some of my favorite quotes from the novel: 

...all people at root are time optimists. We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like 'if.'

Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.

He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had. 

And then he utters seven words, which Parvaneh will always remember as the loveliest compliment he'll ever give her. "Because you are not a complete twit.” 

But sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don’t share it there’s a good chance that it will drive them apart instead.

You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away

Bonnie's thoughts: 
So I think I must have been the person who Sierra was referring to who didn't like the cheesy, romantic story.  Don't get me wrong!  I love a good story that tugs on the old heart strings.  But I did have a few problems with A Man Called Ove mainly in that everything wrapped up a little too perfectly for me at the end.  It was like we just wrapped all our problems up and put beautiful little bows on them and placed them underneath the Christmas tree and isn't life just perfect?  One book club member said she appreciated that because so little is that way now- in real life and in our media- so it was refreshing to read something that tied up perfectly even if, admittedly, it wasn't realistic.  I can see that.  I guess I had to suspend my sense of reality a little bit to "buy" the end of the book.

For me I also struggled with the book because there was so little plot.  I get that it's a character driven story, but I would have liked something to happen.  I was much more interested in the back story, and found that to be my driving force in reading the book.  I really enjoyed reading about Ove and Sonja's relationship (although it did bother me a little that someone as perfect as Sonja would marry someone as grumpy and mean as Ove) and I really enjoyed the backstory of Ove and his dad.  Those were the parts of the story that propelled me forward- the present story line was pretty boring for me.

I think the main take away from the book and the thing that I liked about it was Danica mentioned that in  real life it's hard to give people like Ove much of a chance because they're so grumpy and mean and we're just like, "Ugh!  Old grumpy people.  Just learn to be nice!"  I think the most interesting conversation stemmed from that- that "being nice" is different for different people and that we don't have to ask people to "be nice" on our terms.  For example, Ove is a very thoughtful, considerate person in a lot of ways (he lets the boy who has been kicked out of his house live with him, he takes care of the stray cat, drives Paravenah and Patrick to the hospital) but he isn't nice in the conventional, obvious way.  He allows himself to be a good person in the way that he sees it, not in the way that the world values "good people" or "kindness".

Cute girls at our book club meeting (I somehow am ALWAYS in workout clothes...) 

Some questions you can answer in your post are:
1. What did you think about Ove and Sonja's relationship? How do you think it affected him?
2. In the story, Ove mentioned that when people don't share sorrow, it can drive them apart. This happens to him and his friend Rhune. Do you think that this statement is true?
3. Who is your favorite character in the story?
4. Is Ove likable enough to carry the story?
5. Did you see any symbolism in the cat or the Saab?

Or you can just talk about some of your thoughts from reading! I would love to know your thoughts!

Sierra's Other Book Reviews: Go Set a Watchman // These Is My Words //  Intuitive Eating // Happier at Home // Happiness Project // Wild // Elizabeth Smart: My Story  

Come join us next month, either online or in real life, for book club! :) 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Things to Remember When You Feel Like You Are Not Enough.

Today was hard. It has been a challenging year in my classroom. I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted after teaching this year. I am drained. I was already having a rough day when I was handed a sheet of my student's test scores growth over the past few years. I had to do everything in my power not to burst into tears while reading this sheet. I was completely discouraged. I started questioning everything that I have done in the past as a teacher and what I am doing now. I was doubting my ability to even teach. I was being compared to other teachers (who are fabulous, mind you!) and it did not help me feel any better about my career. So much of who I am correlates with my career as a teacher. I know that I may not ALWAYS be a teacher, but for right now, it is a part of me. And if I feel like I am not even succeeding at that, what is the point of it all? It's hard to be a part of a job where you don't feel appreciated for the work that you do. As I drove home from school today, I bawled my eyes out. I am not saying this to receive pity. I am saying this because I know what it feels like to not be good enough. I questioned everything about my teaching. Is this even what I want to do with my life? It's a very sad, very emotional feeling.  I just screamed and cried and voiced all of my frustrations, concerns, sadnesses, and hardships that comes with being a teacher to Tanner.  Sometimes it's hard to put into words how challenging being a teacher is. Today has been hard. And I've had to deal with it. Because when life gives you hard things, you need to deal with it. So, I write.

I think that it's s safe assumption to say that every single person on this planet has felt "not good enough" at some point in their lifetime.
Recently, I have felt an overwhelming sense of self doubt. 
I have, repeatedly, felt a pang of sadness wash over me as I have analyzed portions of my life. 
I find I, unfortunately,  tend to come back to feeling like this, no matter what. I'm not entirely sure if it's correlated with my own personal emotional trials or stress, but I can't help but feel like life just wants to kick me down at certain points.
There are different places and times when one feels like this. In can be correlated to work, spirituality, friendship, romantic relationships, family, confidence, shame/vulnerability, hobbies, etc. (For me, it's all of them right now ha). 

This person is better at their job than me.
Nobody appreciates what I do.
I am not good at my career. 
I am not a good enough mother/father.
I am not a good enough wife/husband.
I am not a skinny enough person.
My arms aren't as thin as hers.
I am not loved by others in the way that I feel that I deserve to be loved.
I am not as good looking as others.
My house isn't as organized or cute as theirs.
I don't have my life together like they do.
Would anyone even notice if I didn't do what I was supposed to?
Why do I feel like others not treat me the way that I treat them?
I am not enough for the Lord to love me.
What am I doing wrong in my life?

Sound familiar?

I am so mean to myself. It's not fair. I am my own worst critic and it's tiring. I can imagine that some of you have thought these things. If you haven't, then teach us all of your majestic, perfectly confident ways. I feel like I am a confident person, but, honestly, I struggle, at times, to be as confident as I know that I have the potential to be.
I wanted to share with you some things that I have been thinking about tonight. Things that I need to remember when I don't feel good enough. Perhaps these things will help you. 

1. You are not comparing alone.
Everyone compares their individual self with someone else. With the newest technology, its hard not to see everyone's "highlight reels". Everyone compares their trials and weaknesses with someone other's strength. It's what we all do. This does not make it right. But, for me, sometimes, its just nice knowing that I'm not comparing myself alone.

2. You are enough.
This is my mantra for the year. And I REALLY need to remember this right now. I am enough. I am not perfect. But I am enough. I am a good teacher and even if I never get that validation from parents or teachers or principals or coworkers, I need to remember that I am doing the best I can.

3. Give Yourself Some Slack.
I am really hard on myself. As I looked at my student's growth percentages today, I immediately went to the worst. I did not analyze what I was doing well, but automatically focused on what I need to work on. Y"ou are doing better than you think you are." I need to remember that.

4. It's Okay to Be Sad.
How you feel is how you feel. THAT IS OKAY. That's all I'm going to say about that.

5. Lack of Validation Does Not Mean You Are Worthless.
I am someone who needs validation. I don't feel like I am super needy and constantly beg for attention, but every once in awhile, it is nice to receive some validation from others. Whether it's at work, at church, with friends, with my husband, etc. I think that everyone needs to feel recognized at some point. There will be times when you don't receive that validation that you want. You are not NOT doing a good job because you don't receive that validation. Just remember that. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Am I The Only Woman On the Planet Who Hates to Cook?

It's true. Sometimes I really feel like I am the only woman on the planet who hates it.
I hate to cook.
Hate it. (These religious, Mormon roots that I have are, obviously, not doing me any favors.)
I wish I could tell you WHY I hate to cook. I simply do not have a response, really.
Please, can someone validate me in this?!

Perhaps it's the fact that it takes more brain power to come up with a meal than I like to use at the end of the day: get the ingredients, cook it, and then clean up after....and all of that exhausts me just thinking abut it.  Literally the LAST thing that I want to do after a long day of work is have to think of and make dinner. It's not that I am completely incompetent. Really, I'm not. I, actually, would probably be pretty good at it if I tried, but I truly do not enjoy it. It is not a lack of ability (at least I don't think), but more of a lack of desire, if that makes sense.

Perhaps, also, it's the fact that I use my creativity in so many other places, that I don't want to use it in the kitchen. I am a very creative person. I think I could probably come up with some creative recipes. I could even use that cooking time as therapy (I know that lots of women find it therapeutic), but I just don't want to. I like to use my creativity in my classroom,  in acting and singing, in my writing and on this blog, in my home and my clothes, etc.

Or perhaps, it's because I'm a LITTLE bit of a feminist and I feel like the woman's spot is not only in the kitchen, but doing other things. I'm not a homemaker. My poor husband. (Hey, I love to clean and decorate my home. Plus I plan everything that happens. It's not like I do nothing, people!).

Or, maybe, it simply just comes down to the fact that I would rather do a lot of other things other than cooking. For example, reading. or writing. Hell, I would rather clean my house than cook. Hahaha.

And, of course, because of my hatred for cooking, I am not very good at it. So I get discouraged any time that I DO try to cook. It's a cycle, really.

With all of that being said, I love making pasta. I was gluten free for a few months to try to "re-start" my body. Let's just say that I am glad THAT is over. I love making delicious pastas with Bertolli Riserva Five Cheese Pasta Sauce. 

For this pasta sauce, make a delicious five cheese pasta (just add noodles and peas and extra cheese---BOOM. DONE.)

Please let me know your thoughts on easy, delicious, healthy, cheap recipes here--is there such a thing?!

Go grab your pasta sauce today and make your husband happy that you cooked a meal. Ha. Click HERE for a $1.50 coupon for Bertolli® pasta sauce and over 100 authentic Italian tips for cooking! I found this sauce at my local Wal-Mart.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Go Set a Watchman // Sierra's Book Reviews

I took this at a bookstore because all of the books on the shelves...YES PLEASE. Bookstores make my OCD heart happy. 
To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite novel of all time. Because of my intense love for this book and all that encompasses it: the characters, the writing, and the story, I was a little apprehensive to read Go Set a Watchman. Despite what many people say, this story is not a sequel to TKAM. It involves some of the same characters: Scout, Atticus, and set in good ol' Maycomb County, but that seems to be it. Scout, who only goes by Jean Louise, in this novel. It is set twenty years later, after Jean Louise has lived in New York City. She returns back to Maycomb to find out that her father and the life that she once imagined, was not as much as a daydream as she had remembered. She struggles with her illusions of her father from the past and dealing with, in a way, "forgiving" her father for his imperfections.

A lot of people had many negative things to say about this novel. Yes, it cannot, by any means, be compared to TKAM (can anything, really?), but I was pleasantly surprised while reading this. This might have been because I was so nervous and negative to begin it and was surprisingly inspired by the lessons and quotes that took place.

The controversy surrounding this story is one that causes anyone to stop and think. Atticus and Jean Louise debate, perhaps, even fight, over the issue of race in many discussions. One of my favorite parts of the novel was at the very end when Jean Louise comes to terms with the imperfections of her father, and realizes that he, in fact, was not the perfect person that she had imagined.

My favorite part about the story was Jean Louise's narrative voice and the struggles that she goes through. It is one, I think that we can all relate to, especially at this current time. We can relate to the issues of race in our days, and we can relate to the struggle of one day, realizing that your parents are not perfect. My least favorite part of the story was the lack of plot. I do feel like this novel had immense potential, but it was lacking in the story development throughout. The voice and moral were present and quite strong, but the plot was lacking.

But, let's also revisit the fact that I am obsessed with the names of these characters: Atticus, Jean Louise, Scout and Harper. I have my future children's names. No, but seriously. Ha!

Overall, I give this novel 4/5 stars. 

Favorite quotes from the novel:

+A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them. 

+She was almost in love with him. No, that’s impossible, she thought: either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in this world that is unequivocal. There are different kinds of love, certainly, but it’s a you-do or you-don’t proposition with them all.

+If you did not want much, there was plenty.

+The only thing I’m afraid of about this country is that its government will someday become so monstrous that the smallest person in it will be trampled underfoot, and then it wouldn’t be worth living in.

+As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us.

+I was taught never to take advantage of anybody who was less fortunate than myself, whether he be less fortunate in brains, wealth, or social position; it meant anybody...

+She was born color blind.

+Jefferson believed full citizenship was a privilege to be earned by each man, that it was not something given lightly nor to be taken lightly. A man couldn’t vote simply because he was a man, in Jefferson’s eyes. He had to be a responsible man. A vote was, to Jefferson, a precious privilege a man attained for himself in a—a live-and-let-live economy.

+I guess when you're hurt your first instinct's to hurt back.

+Integrity, humor, and patience were the three words for Atticus Finch. There was also a phrase for him: pick at random any citizen from Maycomb County and its environs, ask him what he thought of Atticus Finch, and the answer would most likely be, “I never had a better friend.” Atticus Finch’s secret of living was so simple it was deeply complex: where most men had codes and tried to live up to them, Atticus lived his to the letter with no fuss, no fanfare, and no soul-searching. His private character was his public character. His code was simple New Testament ethic, its rewards were the respect and devotion of all who knew him. Even his enemies loved him, because Atticus never acknowledged that they were his enemies. He was never a rich man, but he was the richest man his children ever knew.

+She was easy to look at and easy to be with most of the time, but she was in no sense of the word an easy person. She was afflicted with a restlessness of spirit he could not guess at. 

See more thoughts on my GoodReads.

Other Book Reviews: These Is My Words//  Intuitive Eating //Happier at Home // Happiness Project // Wild // Elizabeth Smart: My Story // 

Have you read this book?
What did you think about it?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On Dealing with January...

January is hard. 
I always start the month with a large amount of pizzazz. I love the snow and coziness and the changes of season. Yay! January! It's so cozy and fun! By the end of January, I'm over it. I am craving some warmth. I do love winter. I love the change in the seasons. I think the snow is beautiful. I try not to let the snow stop me from being up the mountains and being outside. But something about January just makes me want to not teach or work, lay in bed and watch Netflix. Which is great...except, I, like, can't do that, and have to be an adult. Ugh. 

This January I have tried to change my outlook. I love the beautiful scenery. I have tried to embrace the snow and allow myself to slow down and just enjoy life. Let's ignore the fact that I have had about seven migraines since the beginning of January, and I am about ready to chop my head off due to these stupid things. My headaches are always worse in the winter. I think that it's correlated with the weather and the pressure. But I know my migraines are connected to my hormones, so it's maybe just a combination of it all. My seasonal affective disorder may be affecting this hormones and then the compilation of the pressure and cold...I bet it's all of it. That's my science talk. Either way, these migraines are going to be the death of me. 

Even with all of that, I am learning to deal with January. I am learning to love it, or, well, accept it for it's beauty. Here is my January via Instagram and past posts. 

A winter walk with my favorite humans and animals. 
Talked about my why I Braintype everyone, especially my students. 

I think #saylorthepup likes the snow... 

When you've had a rough week....and your husband brings you a note and flowers. Yes.  Sometimes marriage is hard and sometimes things like this make it okay. 

Can you tell I am dreaming of summer? I want this swimsuit so bad. But it's $100 and I just can't justify that. Someone give me sunshine and this swimsuit. 

I wrote a book review on this amazing book. It has, as dramatic as it sounds, altered my view of eating and my body. 

Sometimes January makes all of your crap come out. And this quote is so perfectly true it's insane. 

I am still (trying) to do my health plan. It has been difficult. But I am down 14 pounds. So yay! And my outfit choices are even better in January. 

I love my fellow teachers and faculty. I have spent a lot of January at my school. Shocking. My students have about did me in this month and I am ready for Spring Break. Hahaha. 

A lot of snuggles with Saylor happened....

I fell in love with the Utah mountains. Again. 


Again. Sigh. 

More snow. It sure is pretty, i'll give it that. 

Joined a book club and read this book. I fell in love with it. Oh, and my Sodalicious. Of course. 

This is what heaven feels like. 

Literally my every day outfit after school in January.... killing it with birkenstocks, wool socks, leggings, sweaters, scarfs, and messy buns. 

Typical face in January. 

Talked about how being a grown up sucks. Ha. 

Craft night with friends and fellow teachers. Or, more, me coloring and the other ladies doing crafts. I hate crafts. 

Reconnected with old friends from Oregon!! 

Trying to wear decent outfits at school...

And spending even more time in my classroom...

A lot of hilarious Bachelor girls nights... 

And a LOT of girl chats after school. 

I took this photo with my PHONE and updated you all on life with snow. 

I didn't make New Years Resolutions. but i did make some of my own things to work on. My mantra for the year. 

I don't know why this picture kills me so much, but it does.  hahahaha. 

Yep. Talked about how blogging in the winter time is so different. 

I recapped Lessons I learned in 2015. 

Drank a lot of tea to help with my migraines. Continued in Be Better Movement. 

Tried to compliment others and write sticky notes to my students.

Well, it's February. Here comes nothing, guys. 
Do you like January? What do you like about it?