Friday, October 28, 2011

In Loving Memory...

I don't think I've ever really deconstructed this phrase. I've surely said "In loving memory" about someone or something off-handedly before, but never have the words meant more than they do now to me. I really do want to express my love for Mark in respecting his memory.
I can't understand the facebook notifications telling me that everyone is celebrating the life he lived. I just can't bring myself to "celebrate" yet. I need the time to grieve the loss of someone so special to me.

Mark Spencer Wooldridge:
To most, he was known as that quiet kid in class who made lessons bearable with his underplayed snarky (one of his own favorite adjectives) comments about the ridiculousness of life. Or maybe the genius who had a perfect score on the SAT and frequently set the curve on all the physics tests.

Others may remember him for his outstanding acting debut as the awkwardly hilarious Willard in our high school musical, Footloose.

Or possibly when he was crowned Mr. Mustang in 2009 after he stole the show at the mangeant our senior year with his performance of an original comedic monologue he wrote which had the entire crowd in tears we were laughing so hard.


But I feel like I personally knew a Mark not many people got to see.

I knew the Mark who sincerely wanted to know what life was about and loved to spend hours having deep conversations about things that really mattered.

I knew the Mark who finished his Eagle project partially (and he'd deny that this had any sway with him at all) because my mom once told him she would never let her daughters marry anyone who didn't finish their Eagle Award in scouts.

I knew the Mark who understood me. He could just sense the days I was exasperated and ready to give up on everybody. All I had to do was make eye contact with him during class or in a rehearsal and he knew exactly what I was thinking--without fail.

I knew the Mark who struggled to find a place for God in his life. There was a time I watched as he went from extremely confused and hurting, to full of faith and happiness. It was amazing to discuss the things that transcend this life with someone so brilliant.

I knew the Mark who spent the majority of his weeknights skyping with me when we both went off to college. He could always find something humorous in life's situations, even in the worst of times.

I knew the Mark who had an amazing way of lending support. He had a gift for instilling confidence in others, and he was so sure of his own gifts and abilities, it was refreshing.

I knew a Mark who doubted he'd ever find anyone who'd completely understand the way he thought about life and made a pact with me that if we both turned 3o and were still single, we'd just elope and get married.

I knew a Mark who was brilliant. He could do anything he put his mind to. He was truly incredible.


As I sit here pondering the loss of such a great person and close friend, I struggle to define my emotions. My first thoughts are of sadness and grief at the idea I will never be able to call him up to chat again. Then my thoughts turn to his mom and brother. My heart aches for them more than I can explain. I just want to pour all the love I have out to his mother and assure her of the many times Mark told me of his love and respect for her. I want to hold her and let her know that I am praying God will help her find peace and comfort through this awful experience.

Once I muster up the energy and courage to look past the immediate pain, I can't help but think of the implications. What would have been different had I taken more time out of my life to check in with him more frequently in the past year? Why did I lose contact with him? He was struggling emotionally, I knew that much. What in the world was I so caught up in that I let one of my good friends go months without hearing me tell him how much I appreciated and cared for him?

It would be presumptuous to assume that I alone would have changed the outcome of his story, but I can't help but feel like I neglected one of God's greatest commandments: "Love one another, even as I have loved you." I hate that it feels too late for me to show Mark my love for him, but I simply have to pay my respects to his memory. I wish he had known how much each conversation, each sarcastic remark, each "look", each day with him had meant to me. I wish I had told him more often how frequently in the past few years there was no one I wanted to talk to more than him.

I hate to diminish this entire experience to a simple didactic message. But I think the only way to cope with my emotions here is to resolve to do better at telling those people in my life I love that I really do love them. I'm not even close to accepting the fact that Mark is really gone, but I think all we can do in this situation is do as Proverbs says and, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding".


Memories of Mark

I first met Mark in Footloose. He was hilarious as the awkward hick, Willard. Such a blast watching him work with my mom at our house on his song "Mama Says...".

Then Mark joined "Off The Wall" the next year and our friendship took off.

Countless nights out with the gang...

Mark would find humor in popping my icepack with a fork and drenching me...

"Up the Down Staircase". While Mark and I were both one of the few teachers (rather than students) in the play, we had hours and hours of downtime backstage to become best friends. This play reminds me of some of my fondest memories of Mark.

I will never be able to read "A Midsummer Night's Dream" without picturing Mark hilariously playing Peter Quince with us. He was amazing.

I love this picture; it shows how genuinely happy I was at the time. Mark had just flipped me through the air :)

His brilliant wall costume for me...

Such a good moment...

His performance as the dentist in Little Shop completely stole the show. He was everyone's favorite.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Beginnings...

So, in church today, there was a great talk about meekness, and the guy really emphasized that people who talk just to hear themselves talk or prove their intelligence probably aren't very meek. I can't help but think that a blog is sort of like talking just to hear myself I feel kinda weird blogging right now--especially since I don't have anything important to say. But it's the last day before the new semester and I'm bored and I know I'm going to be terrible about blogging once classes start, so I thought I would just write a quick post here.

So, I am going to be a junior at BYU. I know that's not that old, but it sure feels old to me. It feels like just yesterday I was eating dinner at the Canon with all my friends from freshman year. Funny how time flies, right? It's freaking me out! I don't want school to be over! I love school! :) I'm excited pretty much every year at the beginning of school, but this year especially. I am taking 2 religion classes, 2 English classes, a family finance class, and my third semester of sign language. It might be too much on top of work, so I may not keep all of them, but so far I can't wait to get into the reading and learning and studying of it all. I'm way excited to learn about managing my money too because I am so so soo bad at that. Hopefully I can get through a year of school without debt this year :P

So yeah, that's basically all I wanted to say. I'm really really super duper excited to embark on my journey through junior year here at BYU. I'm excited for a new ward, new roommates, new professors, new books, a new choir, and early church!!! Wish me luck!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

15 Lessons Learned from Ben Franklin...

So I got the chance to read Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography" last week and I absolutely loved it! He is such a great writer--the perfect mix of great advice, sarcasm, comedy, and serious reflections on life. If you ever get the chance to take some time to read it, I highly recommend it. This is going to be a kind of lengthy blog, so if you are not in the mood to read the musings of Benjamin Franklin mixed with my own thoughts, I suggest you just skip this one and wait for another, shorter blog, but it you do happen to read this, I hope you enjoy it! These are just some of my favorite quotes from the book and what they made me think about.

"A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty"--Why is that? I've found it's really true though, at least with myself. I find I'm more generous with my time when I don't even seem to have enough of it to handle my own life. Franklin suggests that poor people are generous to avoid the appearance of being poor, but I'm not sure I agree. It's just a weird phenomenon.

"He and I had made a serious agreement, that the one who happen'd first to die should, if possible, make a friendly visit to the other, and acquaint him how he found things in that separate state."--This is hilarious to me. But it makes perfect sense. People are supposed to have the best perspective on their lives when they're on their deathbeds. So, at the risk of sounding slightly insensitive/morbid, I have to agree with Franklin. If you have to die, might as well do something useful while you're at it.

"I grew convinced that truth , sincerity, and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life."--How great is that?! It all leads back to being honest--always. I just love this as a motto for life. By the way, "felicity" means "intense happiness".

"I entertained an opinion that, though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden, or good because they are commanded, probably these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered." --So basically, things are prohibited to keep us safe, and commanded to help us become better people. I think as a member of the LDS church I go through this train of thought once in a while because a lot of Heavenly Father's commandments are like this and it's easy to get caught up in the logistics and forget the reasoning behind it all.

"There are croakers in every country, always boding it's ruin."--Right?? There's always going to be nay-sayers and doubters in our lives. The story behind this quote was that this guy wouldn't buy property in Philadelphia because he said the city was going to fail soon. He kept discouraging Benjamin Franklin from starting up his business there because he was so sure the town would never survive. Several years later, he finally bought a house for 5 times as much as he would have paid in the first place. I think sometimes in life we may listen to the "croakers" a little too much when it'd be better for us to just have confidence in our ideas and dreams and have faith that it'll all work out.

"Will Coleman...who had the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of any man I have ever met."--Wouldn't you just love to be remembered like that?! A clear head, a good heart, and strong, good morals. That's pretty much my goal for who I want to be. I wish I knew how this Will Coleman guy did it.

"Small things appearing great to those in small circumstances."--He's talking about money here and how grateful he was when he was struggling and someone helped him out. I think he's right to an extent, but I don't think small things just "appear" great. I think any help really is great--just especially if you're in a humble situation.

"He that would thrive, must ask his wife."--enough said. ;)

"As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other."--CTR right? No big deal. This is when Franklin was working on perfecting himself. I thought that was funny. Wish it were that simple, right?

"I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined."--It's funny how when we really start trying to improve ourselves we start finding our faults...I can't decide if that's discouraging or inspiring?

"Tho' I never arrived at perfection, I had been so ambitious of obtaining it, I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man."--It's hard to accept that we will never be perfect simply because were mortal and prone to error, but I agree. It's worth a shot if only for what you learn along the journey, right?

"In reality, there is, perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself."--I'd imagine pride was hard to keep at bay when you were someone as brilliant, hard-working, and successful as Benjamin Franklin. But it's inspiring to me that someone so amazing realized that all pride ever got him was arguments and tension. He knew that humility was the only way to present yourself in life and I hope I can take a lesson from his book.

"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."--I can personally attest to the truth of this maxim. Isn't it funny how we develop such a deep love for those we serve? It makes no logical sense, but it's one of those weird truths of life.

"When men are employed, they are best content'd."--In other words, being lazy will never lead to happiness. I think this is so true. I am always happiest when I am being productive, or engaged in learning, or working hard.

"Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day."--This is exactly the title of my blog! It amazes me that Benjamin Franklin, who had his fair share of big things happen to him in his lifetime, swears that it's the little things that produce joy--not huge things.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After...

Crazy. My brother's married! My only brother. I'm so happy, and I love his wife :) Wow, Sierra, is that so weird? You're a wife! haha. I'm sure they're gonna be just crazy busy moving Jeremy in and recovering from the wedding and everything, so I just wanted to post a few pictures of the wedding and let them know how great everything was :) We love you guys!

Sierra was so stunning and beautiful when they were coming out of the temple and Jeremy was just beaming from ear to ear. The Denver Temple was absolutely gorgeous as well of course!

I just love this one. Props to Mom for taking it. What a beautiful day, right? I think they look so so so happy here it's great :)

What a fun group! Of course these aren't the best pictures. We're excited to see what the actual photographer got!

The Fam Bam!!

They kept the rustic theme up by using clothespins to clip their engagements and her bridals to a cute little wooden ladder. So adorable :)

The Cake!

Their centerpieces were so awesome! Complete with sheet music, books, flowers, silhouettes of the bride and groom, and beautiful flowers :) The perfect explanation of Jeremy and Sierra.

Yes, yes they are Mr. and Mrs. Penrod <3

Cutting the cake :)

Tori Loves her Aunt Sierra. Isn't she so cute? (both of them...)

The first dance. <3 This is definitely one of my favorite pics of the night. Don't they look so in love?

I can't tell you how many pictures we have of Jeremy in this exact pose with his trumpet. We all enjoyed hearing him improv a bit with the live band towards the end of the night.

The bouquet toss...Sierra did so well. She threw it far enough and right to the middle. Perfect!

I thought the rose petals were a beautiful touch, much cleaner than soapy bubbles. But I think we caught Jeremy a little off guard.

So that gives you the general idea of their reception. It was really such a beautiful night only made better by being able celebrate with two people so in love and happy to be married. I'm so excited for Jeremy and Sierra!! I was going to post a bunch more pics of my family and my nieces (of course...), but it is pretty late and I think I need some sleep. Hopefully I'll be back with more (as if 20 pictures aren't enough, right?).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

So Maybe I Have a Slight Phobia...

I don't really know what to write, but I feel like I have seriously failed lately in the blog department. I mean, I don't just feel like it...I definitely have failed. I just need a place to write down the plethora of random thoughts and memories swimming around in my head. So here I sit. Staring out at this little slice of heaven. A beautiful lake reflecting the sun setting on the green mountains of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho--compliments of Aunt Kendra and Uncle Michael's cabin :)