... what i learned in 2015 ...

11:53 AM

1. your own happiness is so important!
sometimes we think that if we are making others happy, by sacrificing who we really are, then we will be happy. this is a lie. i remember one late night in february, talking to my mission president on the phone, and he told me, "sister arnesen, your happiness is so important!" i was shocked. it's like i hadn't thought of that. or maybe i'd been so busy convincing myself that i was happy, that i forgot was real happiness was. and i wasn't happy. if you find that you are changing yourself, or trying to chase dreams that actually aren't making you happy, then change it! choose what will make you happy. even if it's the hardest thing you've ever done. even if it means hurting people you care about. be honest. live true to who you are. this might not seem like the road to happiness. and maybe for a while you'll stumble around wondering what really makes you happy. but you'll explore and you'll find it again. i promise.

2. if you don't create your life, then someone will create it for you.
i've learned over and over again that you have to be proactively involved in the creation of your own life. now that i'm not in school it was so easy to let my life to be consumed by things that are basically time wasters. i learned this year that part of creating a life that you love and want to live is daring greatly. it's facing some dark times, asking for help, and then coming out stronger on the other side. it's looking at who you really want to be and then creating goals to help you get there. it's choosing the most important things for you and spending your time doing those things. 

3. God always send angels to help you.
as i entered the darkest period of my life, i wondered, quite honestly, who would be there for me. don't get me wrong, i know that i have lots of friends and people who care about me. but many of my friends are married or have moved away, so it's hard for them to be here for me consistently. amazingly, people came into my life. fellow canada vancouver missionaries reached out to me. coworkers became some of my best friends. old friends became pillars that i relied on. on my weak days i could turn to friends- old and new- for support and guidance. and then on the days that i felt completely alone, when i prayed, i felt the presence of angels, who were very near me and very aware of my loneliness, and who loved me oh so much. i promise that God will always send help and angels, whether we see them or not. he is aware of us and sends us the people we need to get through trials.

4. go outside.
i've always loved the outdoors, but this year i really took advantage of this beautiful place i live and basically got outside. if you're ever feeling like you need some perspective, i say, go to the mountains. stand on top of a mountain peak, or next to the ocean. feel the sea breeze on your face, or look at the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. if you need a quiet place to think about life, go the mountains. take a notebook (and, if you're me, a diet coke) and just think. this summer i hiked a lot around Provo and Salt Lake, i went on motorcyle rides up the canyon, i ran in the canyon. and then in the fall i went for drives up the Alpine Loop, we kept running down the mountain. and even when snow came we ran until it was too icy to keep running. if you want a spiritual experience, seeing the seasons change on the canyon trail will give that to you. so start a love affair will nature. it will change your life. 

5. read more.
when i was little it was pretty rare that i would be found without a book in my hands. just call me Rory Gilmore. i would be reading all the time. my mom constantly warned me about reading late at night with little light in my room. she said i'd need glasses (ironically, i'm the only one in my family without corrective lenses.) anyways, once i started university, there was literally no time for leisure reading. but this last year i discovered that i again had the time. and if you read any of my book review posts, you will see that i got through some great books last year. i really believe that reading keeps your brain active, expands your horizons, and helps you learn how to think intelligently for yourself. and now that The Dollar Bookstore is a block away from my house, i foresee needing more bookshelves in my room.

6. giving up is not an option.
perhaps you are new to the blog, or perhaps you read this post earlier in 2015. but something that really clicked with me this year is that i was not going to give up. yes, there were days when i thought: "what's the point? blessings don't seem to be coming, so why even try?" but then there i was the next day- trying. reading my scriptures. searching for peace and answers. strengthening my faith. praying. being grateful. attending the temple. it was like i couldn't stop. and then i realized i couldn't stop because i wouldn't stop. it wasn't that i was continuing to go to church and be active in my faith because of what people would think or because i was on auto pilot. i kept going, "pressing forward" if you will, because i have a strong testimony that blessings do come, that God does listen to our prayers, that the Book of Mormon is a true testament of Christ, that the Atonement is a living principle, and that Christ did suffer, die and was resurrected for me. and i knew that if i stopped, if i let up or gave up, i would not be happy. sure, times are hard, and for a few moments, happiness seems so very fleeting. but true, complete, eternal, perfect happiness is always found in the Gospel.

7. it's ok to find a new dream.
 you know in Tangled, right before the lanterns go floating into the air and magic happens and Rapunzel is wondering about her dream? she says, "I've been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what i might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything i dreamed it would be?" Flynn assures her that it will be. and then tells her that, if it is or if it isn't, "that's the good part. . .  you get to go find a new dream." when i got home from my mission i had everything planned out. i would get married and go to nursing school and everything would be perfect. i found out though that what i thought was my dream, actually wasn't. and it was devastating. i didn't understand why something i had felt good about before my mission could actually be wrong. in retrospect i think that God was giving me the opportunity to see what i really truly wanted, and he was also giving me my agency. so i had to be brave, and not follow a dream that honestly many people wanted me to follow. taking that step was hard. and left me confused and lost for the most part of 2015. to say that there was a healing process is an understatement. but thanks to good friends, family, the Gospel and my Savior, i feel like i have been healed. and i've realized that it's ok to find a new dream. whatever that may be when doors close, it doesn't mean you are stuck, it simply means that another door, or window, is going to open. and you will find a new dream. something to be passionate about. someone to love. places to explore. so keep dreaming.

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