• InLove Story, Malise Love, Uncategorized

    malise love story: a prologue about dumpster diving

    In 2013, James Taylor performed in Salt Lake City, Utah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (Isn’t that how all good stories start? No? Too bad, it’s important.) I heart James Taylor, so naturally, I signed up for tickets. However, a week or two before the concert, something came up and I wasn’t able to go. So, I posted on Facebook to offer the tickets to anyone who could use them. My friend claimed them for she and her son to use and I was excited to share them with her.

    The night before she was coming to pick the tickets up, I went to pull them out of my wallet and put them on my bedside table. But, they weren’t there. And they weren’t already on my bedside table, and they weren’t in the kitchen… then I realized that I had cleaned my purse out earlier that week, so I checked my bedroom garbage can and the kitchen garbage – not there either. I felt pretty frustrated.

    My roommate, Janielle, used to always say “prayer works” – usually after a story of losing her keys or purse, but always very full of gratitude. So, as I stood there in my room mad about losing the tickets, I heard a little Janielle voice in my head say “prayer works” and, though I thought it might be dumb to pray to find tickets, I knelt down and decided I’d pray until I stopped feeling dumb about it. As I started to pray, I remembered that it was garbage day, but we’d forgotten to take our big garbage can out to the curb that morning. Which meant that if I’d thrown the tickets away, they’d still be out in the garbage bin somewhere.

    I started to feel hopeful that that’s where they could be, but remembered that my neighbors were having a party in their back yard. I worried about what they would think of their neighbor dumpster diving at 11:00 PM on a Friday night. SO lame. “I really don’t want to look in the garbage can”, I prayed. And then a soft voice said “If I lead you to exactly what you’re looking for, does it matter where I send you to look?”

    I was humbled and I agreed that I could look in the dumpster in front of my partying neighbors if that’s where I would find the tickets. Shortly after that, I opened my eyes and saw the tickets right on top of my bedroom garbage can (which I swear I looked through before). I said a prayer of gratitude and got the strong impression that I needed to compare this experience to dating.

    I learned that it doesn’t matter where you find what you’re looking for, how you find what you’re looking for, or even if it doesn’t look like what you’re looking for (cough, shorter than me, cough) – Heavenly Father will still guide you to exactly what you’re looking for AND He’ll give you the peaceful confirmation that you’ve found something right.

    So, I started learning how to let him guide me through my “dating dumpster”.

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  • InLove Story, Malise Love, Uncategorized

    dear boy

    dear “punk”,

    thanks for being all kinds of cute and trying to one-up me in battles of who is nicer/cuter/etc.

    I’m glad we’re adorable. (and you’re totally more adorable than me, ha.)

    love,

    elise

    dear matty,

    my heart does magical firework-y things when you smile

    and also when you smirk because you think you’re being really clever

    and also when you tease me

    and also all the time.

    love,

    elise

    dear boyfriend,

    you’re my favorite everything.

    I love you more than instagram,

    elise

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  • InNote to Self

    Note to Self: You are Valuable.

    I was never asked to a dance in high school. Looking back, it’s definitely not a big deal. But then it was. I remember watching my friends get asked to dances and wondering if anyone would ever ask me. One dance, Homecoming maybe, I remember sitting at the computer near our front door the night before. Just in case someone decided to ask last minute. The phone rang, my parents told me it was for me, there was a male voice on the other end of the line who said “Elise. This is Harry Potter. Please stop being so obsessed with me.” Click. Needless to say, I didn’t get asked to Homecoming at the last minute. (I also didn’t stop my Harry Potter obsession.)

    Like I said, in retrospect, those dances weren’t a big deal. I turned out pretty alright even without a pretty prom dress. But if I could go back in time and hang out with 17 year old me on the night of the dance, I’d bring her a giant bag of caramel kisses and we’d have a heart-to-heart where I’d hopefully convince her a little bit earlier in life that her worth wasn’t defined by how many boy’s choice dances she was asked to.

    That’s the cool thing about perspective, looking back, you understand a lot more than you did in the situation. I like to go back and read my high school journals sometimes. I’ve learned to skip over the pointless pages of American Idol updates (although it is kind of fun to remember how many times I managed to vote for Clay Aiken and Carmen Rasmussen in a single night.) My favorite pages are the ones where I was convinced that I was “in love” with so-and-so for whatever reason it was that day. It would be embarrassing to admit how many last names I’ve sampled my first name with. (In gel pen, naturally.)

    I’ve come to love writing an awful lot. I also like to think I’ve become a bit better at writing since my high school days. My notes app on my phone is full of half-completed blog posts and stressed-out word vomit sessions. I’ve also learned to write when I’m feeling happy or grateful, so that I can remember those things when I’m not feeling that way later on.

    Anyway, here’s the point of this post.

    Months ago, I went on a really good date. There actually wasn’t anything particularly special about it, mostly just that I had a good time, felt comfortable with my date, and felt some sense of potential. I try to begin and end dates with a prayer so, when I got back from this one, I was expressing gratitude for the date and felt like I should write what I was feeling. I pulled up my beloved notes app and wrote something that has been a real blessing to look back on since I wrote it:

    “I think this is what hope feels like. A moment of believing that everything I’ve always dreamed of could actually come to be. I feel like spinning and screaming, the lights all seem brighter, I feel like every part of me is smiling. 


    I also feel this fear of ‘what if I’m wrong?’ and ‘what if I get my hopes up only to get them crushed?’ But something tells me that no matter what happens, this feeling of bliss and hope and ‘maybe so’ has a lot more to do with truth – it doesn’t all rely on ‘what if yes’ or ‘what if no’. I am valuable not just because tonight I feel valued, but because I am.”

    I actually feel really vulnerable sharing that note. Because, spoiler alert, not much more happened with that guy. And since nothing happened, it seems kind of silly that ‘every part of me was smiling’. But I’ve had this note on my mind all day and I’m kind of impressed by what I seem to have understood the night I wrote it. Today, as I’m writing this blog post, I am valuable. Even though nothing progressed the way I hoped it would when I was all twitterpated that night, that simple date taught me something that had always been true all along.

    And it’s true for all of us. We are valuable. We have infinite worth that is not defined by whether or not we are going on dates, or our marital status, our employment/education status, or anything like that. That’s something that has taken me a long time to understand. And somehow, separating those things in my mind has made all the difference.

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  • InUncategorized

    you’re really not the only one

    I have this conversation nearly every day: “Hey, Elise, how are you?” “I’m good! Busy, but good!” And the other day, as I said that, I realized just how monotonous it is. I seriously say that every time. And yeah, I’m totally busy. In fact, every night as I fall asleep I think “Does everyone else do fine with just 24 hours in a day? Maybe they’re not sleeping. Do people really get bored? Maybe they only sleep four hours a night?” and then I fall asleep before I can finish that conversation with myself. So, hey, I’m busy. And I’m stressed. And I’m never sure I’m doing enough. And ‘real life’ is tough.
    And this is where I’ve lived mentally for the last year or so. 
    So, last Sunday, as I rattled off my “Busy, but good!” answer about my life, I followed it up with, “Maybe I should stop saying that. Maybe right now is normal and I should just embrace it and let this be normal and let more than this be ‘busy’.” And then within a matter of hours I was feeling overwhelmed about life again. That night, I went to the Christmas Devotional that the LDS church does every December (it’s a favorite) and all the talks were about the silent night when Christ was born and the peace that can come into our lives when we rely on the Savior and the promised blessings that come from His teachings and His life.
    And I remembered that the message I have continuously received over the last year or so is this:

    “Be Still”

    So, I’ve been studying peace. And I could probably write novels about all the cool connections I’ve found and things I’ve learned (and probably, someday, I will) but I’ve also found some other cool things as I’ve read articles and talks about peace.
    Everybody is seeking it. 
    Each article seems to have a story that goes like this: “There was a time in my life when I was struggling with (sin/loss of a loved one/divorce/heartache/medical challenges/etc.) and my life felt like it was in turmoil and everything seemed wrong and I didn’t know what to do and I had unanswered questions and I felt really alone.” And those are the stories that are used to illustrate peace. 
    I’m not finding stories about people who have lived a struggle-free life. I’m not finding stories about people who just have never had reason to worry about anything. And I’m definitely not finding stories about people who didn’t ever doubt or have questions. The more I blog and the more I open up about insecurities or questions on my blog, the more people I meet who say “I went through the same thing!” 
    I’m pretty sure this study of peace is going to be a lifetime thing. I kind of think that the blessings of peace come more from continuously learning than from mastering it. So, don’t expect me to be an expert any time soon. But here is something I definitely know: peace is available to everyone. Always. And some of that peace comes from realizing that you aren’t the only one. You’re not that “mistake” who has all the questions and the doubts, you’re one of us. And none of us are mistakes. We’re humans who are learning and I’m pretty sure the learning is the beautiful part. Opening up and letting others learn with you – that takes talent, because vulnerability sure likes to feel scary. But on the other side of that vulnerability is a life filled with peace. 

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  • InUncategorized

    dear you

    Hey! Just thought you might need a little reminder of how great you are. You’re doing a really good job at this whole “life” thing, you know? And that thing you’re going through that’s really stressing you out? Have you thought about how much better you’re handling it this time? You’re doing a really great job. I just wanted you to know that your efforts don’t go unnoticed. You really are trying, and sometimes you’re not perfect. That’s totally okay! You’re still learning. Have you ever thought about how good learning feels? What feels like the tiniest baby step right now is going to feel like an entire mountain you climbed when you look back a year from now.

    And think about last year. Remember all those things you were worried about then? Most of them seem silly now, don’t they? And the things you’re still stressed about – that’s because they’re not silly. They matter to you. Let them matter, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Those things matter because you matter.

    Take a deep breath and let yourself smile a little bit. Because you are awesome.

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  • InUncategorized

    dross to consume, gold to refine.

    Summertime has been blissful so far. And by blissful, I mean, I’m having the time of my life and staying up way too late and kind of not even feeling bad about how perpetually tired I am. I’ve recently had a couple nights of driving back to my apartment after midnight. There’s something about driving when the world is a little more quiet and the roads are empty. I often drive without my radio on because I like having the “me time” to think. Sometimes I even talk out loud, mostly praying, sometimes to myself. Late night drives alone are my happy place.

    The thing I love about these drives is not just that I have the time to really think, but also to listen. Sometimes, I think we pray, or start down a train of thoughts in our minds, and quickly get distracted by something. When you’re driving, it’s much easier to stay on that thought because you really don’t have much else to do until you reach your destination. I’ve had a few great a-ha moments during these late night drives recently.(But not of the “Take On Me” variety, the radio is off, remember?)

    I don’t really know how this train of thought came about, but one night I got to thinking about how good I feel about my life right now and thinking about how rough things felt just a couple months ago. I want to understand what made the difference, to know how I was holding myself back, to figure out what I was learning… my mind often works in images, and the “picture” of my life a few months ago is of me clinging for dear life to a rope. Like, one of those awful gym class ropes. The “picture” of me now is of me standing on a solid, cement floor.

    I’ve let my mind play with these pictures for a few weeks now, and I’m kind of putting the pieces together. The clinging was just that – clinging. The more I imagine about that picture, the more I realize that I felt like I had to hold onto that rope with everything in me. I thought that letting go meant falling. I didn’t think I had anything to land on. In fact, in my mind, I imagine giant alligators in a big, yucky, bottomless swamp. And in my mind those alligators have names like “what if” and “you’re not good enough” and “nobody wants you”. The rope, in my mind, is multiple things – things like writing thank you notes, going to the temple, reassurance from friends and family, prayers (lots and lots of tear-filled prayers), etc.

    I learned a lot from the clinging. I’ve never read my scriptures quite like I read them during those really rough months. I craved them. I needed more knowledge and more peace and I was starving for it every day. I talked to friends and family often. They reassured me and I often wrote down things they said so I could go back to that and rely on that when I had moments where I didn’t feel so reassured. Things changed when I felt like all I had was that rope.

    And then one day, I loosened my grip on the rope. Not to let go, not to give up, but to breathe. Because I realized I hadn’t been breathing. I was white knuckling it and terrified. On one magical day, I finally loosened my grip just enough to step back and look at my surroundings. That’s when I found that solid cement. It had been there underneath me the entire time, right below my feet. It wasn’t moving, it wasn’t going anywhere, it was firm.

    Maybe this is feeling cheesy to you. I realize it might seem silly, but in my mind, it’s a beautiful, visual representation of what I’ve learned. Things got hard and I didn’t feel like my feet were on the ground. I clung to the best things – I needed to. But more importantly, I learned that you don’t have to spend your entire life clinging. At some point, you have to loosen up enough to recognize that foundation that’s been there the whole time. There are things you already know, solid ground to rely on – and often that solid ground was built from the very things you were clinging to.

    Letting go of the rope felt wrong. Because clinging to the rope was about doing all the “right things”. And I knew those things were blessing my life, I knew they were! But there is a difference between doing “what you’re supposed to” and actively making choices that you deeply feel are right. It turns out that sometimes actively making your own choices is hard, really hard. Sometimes there are hard questions to ask, sometimes other people won’t understand, and sometimes you may even feel like you are stepping away from all of those things you’ve relied on your whole life. The secret is in where you’re stepping. There are murky waters with alligators and there’s a solid cement foundation that’s been built all your life. Trust the foundation, trust what you know, but take those steps and ask those hard questions.

    The ropes are always there for times you need to cling – sometimes, you need to cling. But that foundation is also always there too. Trust your foundation enough to stop clinging when it’s time to stop clinging.

    Interestingly enough, this song is one of the ropes I was clinging to:

    How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
    What more can He say than to you He hath said—
    To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

    “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
    For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
    I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

    “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
    For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

    “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

    “The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
    I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

    If you take anything away from this blog post, take this: Sometimes, our pathways take us through fiery trials – it is meant to be that way. But the flame will never harm us. “All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.” Our deepest distresses will be sanctified to us and we will never be forsaken. Hold on to what you know, trust your foundation, make choices that feel right to you – not based on what you’re “supposed” to do. Walk through that refiners fire with the confidence that you are gold – you are already gold simply being refined to something even more precious and beautiful.

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  • InUncategorized

    Worry, Peace, and Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I’ve blogged recently. I haven’t posted anything publicly though. It’s not that I don’t want any of it to be read, it’s that I haven’t wanted to post anything they only tells half a story. Sometimes, things happen in your life that aren’t blog-able.
    That being said, I’m here to talk about half a story.
    I’ve mentioned that life has been hard recently in my last couple posts. Things are less hard right now.  I’m in a new phase and I’m grateful for that. Things are different. Of course, I still have challenges, but they’re new (and less exhausting/draining than the last ones).
    Let’s talk about worrying. I’ve come to realize that worry is my comfort zone. Why would something so stressful and even painful be my comfort zone? I’m not really sure. But sometimes I think we attach ourselves to things just because they’re familiar, not because they’ve got any value. Worry is familiar. I know how to worry, I know how to cry, how to feel, how to attach myself to things in a way that allows me to care from a safe, worry-filled distance.
    And then there’s peace. Peace is something I’ve felt and experienced before. I love peace. But it’s actually completely out of my comfort zone. I don’t know how to simply be at peace and not worry. So much so that I begin to worry about whether or not I should be worrying any time I’m not worried. (How’s that for mental exhaustion.)
    Recently, I’ve felt a lot of peace. It has been very uncomfortable. Contradictory? Yep. Am I worried about it? Actually, no.
    Months ago, I was talking to my dad about a really concerning challenge in my life. The advice he gave me (as well as the advice is received through prayers and blessings) was to be at peace. I told him I didn’t know how. The idea of figuring out how to do that stressed me out in all kinds of non-peaceful ways.
    Then, my dad said “Stop thinking, Luke. Feel.” Perhaps not a direct Obi-Wan quote, but definitely a true principle. (And who doesn’t love life lessons from Star Wars?) He was referring to Luke learning how to use the force. Here’s a real quote: “Let go of your conscious self and act on instinct.”
    If I’ve learned anything in the last 6 months, I’ve learned that there is so much more than what we think we know or “get”. The way to be at peace is a lot less about a step-by-step list and a lot more about letting go of your conscious self and allowing yourself to simply be in a place of peace. It’s about going to the Prince of Peace. Letting go in a way that requires complete trust.
    There are a lot of things I don’t know. And a lot of things that I’d realllllly like to understand. But for the moment, I’m okay with this out of my comfort zone stage because I’m learning that there is actually a lot more genuine comfort that comes from trust and from allowing yourself to be at peace.
    And as I type that, I think my favorite part is that I’m learning. That feels a lot more like progress than a consistent feeling of “being okay”. Learning feels like more.

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