25 Quarter-Life Lessons (& Realizations)

Happy 25th birthday to me! I almost went out and took pictures in a dolled up little black dress holding gold balloons to look Instagram perfect. Sometimes as a blogger I feel that’s what the internet expects of me, but let’s keep it real. I woke up early for a morning run, packed my husband’s lunch, met with a dear friend for lunch (she drove 2 hours just to come see me. Gosh I love her), read a book on the grass in the backyard, and spent the remainder of my day pecking at my keyboard in sweat pants, hair pulled back, no make up and my thick purple glasses eating Mike & Ike’s. That’s real life for an aspiring writer. I’ve been contemplating this milestone for about a month now, and it’s made me feel a little nostalgic to think back through all the years that have flown by. In 25 years, there’s plenty I’ve realized, and even more I’ve learned. So here it is: 25 lessons I learned by age 25. 1. Life is really what you make it. Be creative. We so easily get lost in the mundane routines of life. It can be boring and

“We are Daughters of our Heavenly Father”: A Testimony of The Young Women Theme

Hi friends, it’s been a while (like, a month & a half while)! I thought writing + my blog was on the top of my priority list, especially after quitting my day job but — HA! Yeah right. It’s not, but at least it’s still a once-in-a-while hobby. I think we need those, our own “once-in-a-while hobbies” to energize us and refocus us. Mine are running, getting a pedicure, writing in my journal (or, if I have a few hours, on my blog) and napping. We need these activities because life is full of surprises. Some are amazing, some are imperfect, but we find fulfillment from our crazy, chaotic lives in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the past 13 days, and the following 15, I am living out my husband’s gigantic worn-out missionary suitcase moving house to house as I tend children of various families while the parents go out of town for mini getaways or work-related trips. I refer to myself as “The Travelling Nanny” because it’s who I am, really! It’s a fun gig where I’m able to meet so many cute little kids, drive them to and from school and soccer practice in a snazzy

From a Father to a Daughter, These are the Lessons I’ve Learned About Real Love

I’ve spent many of my recent quiet moments reflecting on my father and my special relationship with him. Some of his lessons come from conversations, but most come from observing how he interacts with the world, and with me. From a father to his daughter, these are the lessons I’ve learned about real love. Real love was making me Minnie Mouse pancakes on Saturday mornings. Growing up, I’d often have cousins or friends sleep over on Friday nights. My dad would pitch up the tent in our backyard (or we’d camp out in the living room) and he’d stay up late with us teaching us about the constellations, telling us funny stories, and wake up early to prepare our favorite pancake breakfast.  He’d pour the batter by hand in the specific shape each kid wanted: monster trucks, letters, and soccer balls, but I loved my Minnie Mouse pancakes and I loved even more that my dad would make the time, and the mess, to cook them for me. Real love was sneaking a note in my lunch when he knew I had an important test at school, a dance performance, a late-night shift at work, or simply felt I needed a little extra

We Have Big News! (No, not baby news. I’m sorry, mom)

Aaron gave me a mother’s day card last Sunday (I’m not a mother yet — he’s just super thoughtful) but the greeting AND his own written message was entirely in Spanish! You’re probably wondering why he did that. It’s partly because he thinks he’s funny but let’s just say he’s taking all the opportunities he can to teach me how to speak, read, and understand Spanish because…. THE BENNETT’S ARE MOVING TO PERU!!! Yes, yes. It’s true. It’s okay to still be in shock because I am too.   If you’re interested to know how this happened, here’s the low down. Aaron was offered a full-time job with KPMG after he graduates with his Master’s degree this December of 2017. BUT, his start date isn’t until August of 2018. This means we have nearly nine months of “down time” after he graduates before he starts working in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. A few days after Aaron received this offer, we began tossing around ideas of what we could do/should do to fill our time before he starts working. While driving in the car one afternoon, he said, “What would you think if we moved to Peru??” I looked at him, stunned, and

7 Insights I Learned While Earning My $40,000 Piece of Paper

Perspective is one of the most valuable insights I have gained in the last four years as an undergraduate student at Utah State University. I received my share of embarrassing exam grades, worked lousy jobs, lived with roommates who never did their dishes, and experienced really rough break-ups but as I think back to it, these have all been opportunities for my benefit. My years as an Aggie have been the most influential of my life and I would like to share my 7 insights for anyone seeking to make college (and life) a valuable experience: What you do matters. There are always consequences for what we do and the choices we makes each day but what I mean is in the way of long term consequences. During my first year of college, my classes were much more difficult than I anticipated them to be but I often skipped them to hang out on the quad with my friends instead. I stayed up past 2 a.m. almost every school night with my roommates and the boys across the hall rather than studying for my human anatomy exam, and I went to basketball games instead of my 7:30 p.m. study groups. If you

“Voices of early-returned LDS Missionaries: The Daily Universe”

“Overtime, I learned that I served exactly the time I needed to serve and taught the people I needed to teach.” When I was thirteen years old, I attended an EFY (Especially for Youth) the summer before eighth grade and my counselor had asked us on the first day to think of questions we wanted answers to. They could be gospel related, familial, or academic – anything we wanted – and she promised us by the end of the week, if we sought for answers from the scriptures and prayer, we would receive an answer. The question I wrote was: am I meant to serve a mission? I had watched my older brothers prepare and serve and I felt that experience was something I wanted. During the week, I read a particular scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that influenced my decision. The spirit was so overwhelming in that moment that I knew I had my answer. From then on, I tried to live my life in a way that was preparatory for a mission and read that scripture on a daily basis. I served in the Illinois, Chicago mission for exactly seven months. I entered the MTC on July

How Shopping At Target Taught Me Compassion Today

I tucked Tessa and Navy into their beds, kissed them good night, and closed the door behind me. I watched Aaron across the hall as he gently laid blankets across Lewis’s small 3 year old body and we met at the top of the stairs, greeting each other with a high-five. “Nice job! We had another great day,” I said. “Yeah,” he smiled. “They are great kids.” It was our fourth night babysitting the Stringham family but the first in a long time that I’d be on my knees at all hours of the night praying for a miracle. … The commotion of Sports Center buzzed through my ears as I slowly peeked open my eyes. I could feel that something was wrong. Aaron lay next to me wide awake with the remote firm in his grip. The clock on the night stand read 12:03 A.M. I leaned off the edge of the bed and unplugged my phone, swiped the unlock screen, and was frightened by the little number 4 on my messaging icon. Four unread messages. Something is wrong.  “Hey Marlee.” Whitney wrote. “Did you see the text about Krystal?” My stomach immediately flipped. I pressed the back button,

Why LDS Women Must Proceed With Confidence in Their Choices

Did you guys love love love love General Conference like I did? Wow. My devotion to God and my love toward all of His children completely expanded! I can’t remember the name of the speaker, but he was a mission president in Washington. One of the missionaries under him came to him saying, “President, I just don’t like people!” Ha! I totally laughed out loud. Sometimes it’s hard to get along with people but I was taught throughout this conference that I need to more earnestly love others as God loves and take seriously His call to “be of good cheer.” There were several other thoughts I was able to apply to my personal spiritual development but one I feel I should mention is Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s talk from Sunday morning. He spoke of the divinity of the Holy Ghost and how we must act on the first prompting and be confident in it. We dismiss or question divine council if we avoid even the second or third prompting. He also said, “First promptings are from heaven to help someone in need, family and friends in particular.” I don’t know who, if anyone, might need to read what I’m about to

“This Is The Place I Was Telling You About!”

HOW IS EVERYONE?! Oh, I have missed this — sitting down at my computer with a bowl full of snacks (today it’s carrots & club crackers) and having so much to say but lately, I’ve had exactly zero time to say it. The good news, though, and the update about us is: WE SURVIVED THE INTERNSHIP! For those who are just tuning in and haven’t read previous posts, my husband has been interning with KPMG, an accounting firm in downtown Salt Lake City, for the last few months. Let me tell ya, it wasn’t something easy but what good comes from easy things? Sure, it was long, exhausting hours for him to work and to be away from home but together we were able to find ways to keep our relationship strong and our love so passionate. I’ve been humbled by him, too. Somehow through all his responsibilities, business trips, and coming home to cold dinners, he was able to find time to nurture me and treasure those precious moments we did spend together — morning prayers & pillow fights while making the bed, to name a few. The last three months have taught us a great deal and

Wings

Manhattan awoke to a snowstorm that Thursday morning in January. Flakes whipped through the skyscraper canyon and a bright white coat covered all that was gray. Arctic air brought in winter’s coldest day, a single-digit wind chill, as ice formed around the edges of the Hudson River. The day was already rough for Martin Sosa, an architect, who was heading to Charlotte with his wife and kids because of a family emergency. They arrived at the airport in the early afternoon on January 15, 2009 with their four-year-old and nine-month-old and suffered through the inconvenience of security officials who insisted on checking their infant’s baby food, jar by jar. “Would you like to enter a private room for inspection?” probed the inspectors. Fifteen minutes later, the family moved on. They boarded Flight 1549, a plane that had been flying for ten years and was about to make its 16,300th takeoff. Before departure, Mrs. Sosa protested the separation from her husband and daughter who were seated three rows back but Doreen Welsh, a flight attendant, settled her down in her middle seat with her baby. The man on her left was sleeping. The man on her right coo-chi-cooed the baby,