Ode to cycling

Our world is really beautiful. Yeah, inversion during the winter isn’t great (and it’s actually called pollution, btw), but the world is beautiful. 

In 2011, I spent most of the summer cycling 20+ hours per week. I’d start where I lived in Provo and go. One day I ended up in the podunk town of Kamas, about 40 miles away. Another day I ended up at the summit of the Nebo Loop. 

I saw more of Utah on my bike than I ever saw in a car. 

You contradict that and say, “Lee J, you’ve driven 30,000+ miles in utah in your car, and rode only 1,000 miles on your bike!”

That’s true, but on my bike I could see. I saw the places I was going. I saw the things around me as I passed them. I saw more of the state on my bike than I’ve seen in my car. 

I miss that a lot. It was tough training that often. Twenty hours each week is equivalent to a job, and eating enough food to maintain my mass was really hard. But I gained a ton of perspective from viewing God’s creations and landscapes on my bike. 

I grew because I took time for myself. Time in quantities I haven’t taken since. Perhaps time that I might need to return to doing. 

Cycling is great. Wave at me when I pass you on the road. 

Temples

The primary song goes “I love to see the temple, I’m going there someday.”

It’s true. I love to see the temple. I am going there someday.

The way I’ve felt the past several weeks though is, “I love to see the temple, I’d really like to have the peace that comes from it. But I can’t motivate myself to go.”

It’s been really hard to feel that way. It’s not that I don’t want to go, that I’m unworthy to go, or anything else. I just can’t get myself to go.

When I realized that I lacked the motivation, I was forced to question whether I’d fallen into another depressive funk.

That was scary.

Being forced to consider that you struggle with something you thought was a one-time, mostly environmentally-influenced thing is scary. I never want to be in that dark, dank, dismally depressed place again. I don’t want to consider it as an option, but as my desire to go to the temple strengthens, my motivation to go decreases.

And that’s as scary as considering what Hell is. Because that was as close to Hell as I’d like to ever come.

So struggles happen. I still experience really dark times. I’m considering some things that should really help me get out of this funk. One of them is going to the temple.

I’ll get the motivation. Even if it’s convincing a friend to drag me there. The peace of the temple is worth it. I want–I need–to be there and benefit from the strengthening power it provides.

The sun will shine again, and temple worship helps me see a glimmer of light along this path I tread.

The light along the path

A guide for using this blog

The title is slightly misleading. Lots of website have style guides and media guides. This isn’t like that at all. 

It should be no surprise that I’m fairly open with what I post here. I am aware I may have many readers, but likely won’t. Those who end up here are likely facebook friends who are curious about what I posted regarding my blog on a Sunday afternoon. However, some of you may be women doing appropriate background searching on a guy you are going on date(s) with. 

I’m talking to you. 

The content here is public; I know that; I’ve been aware of it from my first major post in January. But please understand the power you hold as you read. 

You were likely drawn here as part of a way to protect yourself or “make sure this guys isn’t psycho.” That’s a good thing to do, but be careful. Mystery and learning about the other person while dating is important.

You may have a huge urge to judge me based entirely on what I’ve written. I suggest you be very careful about that. I am open and authentic, but I still control 100% of what is written here. I don’t hide anything, but I still try to hold some things close to the chest. 

One girl read my entire history, decided I was broken, mentioned it frequently while we dated, and turned me off entirely to getting to know her more. If that’s your judgment, just say so and tell me you’re not interested, because I’m not interested in dating a therapist/counselor/coach/fixer. 

But I suggest you read with caution and form your judgments based on our face-to-face interactions. A good friend did that and our conversations have allowed for me to maintain a level of disclosure I find appropriate and tailored to the level of trust I felt with her. 

You are privileged with this information. What will you do?

Accepting and giving love

I’ve had a lot happen this week. It may turn into several posts.

I like to consider myself a fairly normal person. The people who know m best know how accurate that may or may not be. But I hope things I experience are things you can relate to.

I have a need to be loved. Coexisting with that is a need for validation. I come across a bit conceited because I don’t really like the fact I have those needs and because I greatly dislike false validation.

However, I experience fear every day that my efforts are not enough, that what I’ve accomplished in life severely lacks, that I may never accomplish what I believe I can or should.

Heavenly Father knows my needs. He knows my fears and concerns. He knows what I need to grow, and what I can endure. When I receive priesthood blessings, He always tells me He loves me and is pleased with me. That is a great comfort and always needed.

We are aware that we often only accept the love we feel we deserve. I know that is very true for me. I have difficulty accepting love during my darkest times. I have difficulty having hope for future blessings and experiences when those times happen.

Believing others when they show me love is important. It’s something I can improve and something that will make a difference for me. When I have hard times, I can ask friends to speak with me and listen to what they say and how to see their love and Father’s reflected in them.

I was able to be that person for a friend a few weeks ago. She’s had a rougher past year than I have, and as she told me about it, I sat, listened, let her cry, cried with her, and did everything I could to show I cared and to reflect the love Father has for her.

It was apparent she’d been having trouble accepting how much someone could care about her. It was good to be the person she needed then.

Some day, I want to be with someone who sees me for who I believe I am, who loves me in spite of my faults and fears, and who I believe when she says I honestly deserve all the love she and my Father give me.

Until then, I get to learn from friends, and I get to rely only on my Father to learn to accept love in my life. The reality is we deserve more than we accept, so it is up to us to open our minds more and be wonderfully accepting of the love and kindness we actually deserve.

The person behind the most obvious characteristic

I’ve been pondering how I can better love those around me. I have friends with all sorts of mental, physical, emotional, and religious challenges. From depression to anxiety to eating disorders, fibromyalgia, homosexuality, autism, substance addiction, to pornography addiction.

These things–especially depending on how often my friends mention or focus on it–often become the basis for how I perceive them.

“Jeff is a really good guy, even though he’s addicted to pornography.”

“Amy is super-productive for someone with depression.”

“Emily is really cool for a lesbian.”

“Alfred is the best divorced guy I know.”

And perceiving them this way is wrong.

Heavenly Father loves each of us because of who we are, not what challenges us. When we consider the eternal perspective, we must realize that what people many struggle with the most are not eternal aspects of their character.

The fact I spent the last six months incredibly depressed are not an eternal aspect of who I am. However, it taught me critical lessons about myself and empathizing with others and impacts my return to Father’s waiting arms.

My friends may experience pain and trials. They may be depressed, divorced, missing limbs, chemically imbalanced, same-sex attracted, or all of those.

They are children of a Loving God. They may or may not accept that fact. But I can. I can love them for who they are. I can love them for their eternal characteristics–characteristics that may be strengthened by their challenges.

So the way I perceive them, the way I love them must be informed that these trials are temporary. After mortality ends, none of these things will be challenges they face. Anxiety, depression, amputation, same-sex attraction, divorce, eating disorders, addiction, and so many other things won’t affect us any more.

Those then won’t be the things that define my perceptions of my friends. Nor should they be now. If I can change my above perceptions to:

“Jeff is a really good guy.”

“Amy is quite productive.”

“Emily is really cool.”

“Alfred is one of the best guys I know.”

Then I show the love Father does and I focus on their whole worth as God intended.

The people I meet are not defined only by their most obvious characteristic(s). Those characteristics and experiences might end up making them better people, but they are temporary. They will not last beyond mortality. And if I do not recognize that, I do myself and them a disservice.

Season of thanks: Sight

I’ve had a few experiences over the last few weeks and a dream last night that make me very grateful for the ability to see the world around me.  Arguably, this is the most important of the five senses (in direct conflict with touch–think of a child and a stovetop).  Although not absolutely crucial, it probably does the most to enrich our perception of the world.

I like to take multiple-hour bike rides.  I have seen more beauty from the seat of my bike than I ever could express in words (great way to see beautiful things, btw).  I spent several hours climbing 20 miles to see 360˚ panoramas of southern Utah County from the top of the Nebo loop.

 

I’ve also enjoyed the backside of Mt. Timpanogos while returning from a ride to Kamas (not really a destination people might want to go, but a beautiful ride.  Obviously I would not be able to type without some understanding of where the keys are and what I am typing–most easily accessible through sight.

However, I think I would be able to function without sight (not saying I want to).  Several times I have acted as though I were blind just to do it.  Occasionally, I end up with bruises or cuts because I mis-remember where things are or take a corner too late (and too fast), but empathy is what pretending to be blind is about, right?

Conclusion: be grateful for the little things that you might take for granted.

Beauty

Wow. Two posts in a month. It’s like a record or something (until you look at my first four months blogging, and then two posts is kinda crappy.)

Skipping the age story (still not the right time), I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about Beauty–what it is and how we know something/-one is beautiful. And since I’m a man, I’m going to be biased toward women’s beauty.
First off, I have to say I disagree wholeheartedly with the thought that beauty is only skin deep. I think that is a shallow definition of the word and espoused by people only slightly less shallow. (In four months I haven’t really become any less judgmental.) But I wholly agree that ugliness runs to the bone. (This doesn’t refer to the physical definition.)
People manifest beauty in many ways. We obviously think of beauty in the physical sense. We see magazines glorifying this type of beauty at every checkout register of every grocery store. But how many delve into a more comprehensive definition of beauty? How many of us look beyond the face to see what’s inside? Innate talents and personality greatly affect my vision of another’s beauty.
(I should note that everyone has different ideas of what constitutes beauty. It could include intangible character traits such as intelligence, courage, daring, wittiness, or stubbornness. Or beauty could include very specific physical characteristics–fingernails, eye colour, or hair length. I give these only as examples, not as conclusive exposés of what I consider beauty.)
Women generally become more beautiful to me as I learn more about them (sometimes this goes in the reverse). Perhaps this is a mental connection I make as they talk about who they are. Also my observations of women’s actions/abilities change how beautiful they are to me. Also my interpretation of beauty is affected by how similar she is to what I think beauty entails, whether it be physical, mental, emotion, personal, etc. The closer she is, the more beautiful I consider her.
Two examples may help illustrate. To me, a woman with little physical beauty is much more beautiful when I hear her classically-trained voice. This not physical characteristic makes her more beautiful to me. Or if she shares goals/aspirations/opinions (although disagreeing with me can be more attractive (depends on the topic)) with me, she immediately becomes more exciting/attractive/beautiful.
I guess what it comes down to is that certain characteristics people have, certain things they say/do are considered beautiful. These add up to (hopefully) overcome areas where they are not as beautiful as another.
But, all that aside, women who try their best to be beautiful should always be praised for their efforts–in whatever manner they add to the world’s beauty.