Proud of My Grad

In less than a month, we will have the first master’s degree in our little family. I am so proud of Hope for all the hard work she has done this past school year as she worked toward her Master of Social Work. She had to go to summer school, which was not fun when factoring in me driving bus at night. She had to put 1050 hours at internships that did not pay anything, not even a thank you at times. Hope had to endure critical comments from closed minds. Hope will still have to log over 4000 hours of practice and supervision after graduation and before she can get licensed. It has not been easy and there were times I know she wanted to give up, but she stuck with it. She overcame adversity despite opposition from multiple fronts. I know there were a lot of prayers on her behalf and we are grateful for that. It makes be exhausted just looking at all her requirements, but I support, am proud of, and wish my grad the best of luck!

_MG_9920Us with our fake bachelor degrees when we graduated last year.

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February is Therapeutic Recreation Month

Recreational therapy is a recognized human service profession that utilizes recreation involvement as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being. Recreational therapy has been a recognized form of health care and human service provision for over four decades. (NCTRC, 2011). We aim to increase the quality of life of our clients through enhancing leisure skills, or the techniques one uses in order to enjoy free, unstructured time. In turn, these skills can further help an individual turn her or his life around and provide an outlet for positive coping.

At my job, recreation therapy is one of three disciplines found under the Expressive Therapy department, alongside art therapy and music therapy. Interventions are often experiential and focus on many topics, including: positive coping, leisure education, analyzing personal leisure, expressive techniques, communication, self-awareness, problem-solving and more. Therapeutic recreation interventions are designed to provide opportunities to practice life outside of treatment, and often provide many opportunities for patients to have fun, for laughter itself can be therapeutic.

Hair Update

It seems that when I have time to post it is typically about my hair. I will continue that tradition today and hope to diversify our posts in the future. Right now I will show evidence that my hair is getting to be a more uniform length along with more options for styling short hair.

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This photo was taken back a little before Halloween.
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This photo was taken today. A little over 7 months since I got my pixie cut.
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This is what I did with my hair for Halloween. Maybe it could be a good option for everyday 😉
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This photo was taken back in September.
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This photo was taken towards the end of October
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This photo was taken a few weeks ago. My hair is now getting long enough that I can pull some of it up away from my face.
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Curly hair is always fun 🙂

Pixie Cut Journey

Since I chopped my hair off back in April, I have been growing out. I loved having really short hair, it took a while to get used to having to do so little to make it look decent. But it was an adjustment that I thoroughly enjoyed. I started growing my hair back out immediately after I cut it because I knew that by the time my hair started getting long again I would be missing my long hair. I have just recently began to miss my long hair and have been willing it to grow faster. But it hasn’t worked. In the meantime I have devised several strategies to cover up the awkward stage my hair is in. I have only gotten it trimmed once in the last five months when it was getting so long in the back that I could not stand it. The hair stylist explained to me that hair grows faster in the back, and that I should come back frequently as I grow my hair out to avoid looking like I have a mullet. This was a good tip and something that I did not know; however, I hate paying to have my haircut. So every once in a while I have been trimming the hair on the back of my head. Which is not an easy task, it never looked amazing but I thought it looked pretty good for what it was. It also satisfied my desire for not having a mullet. Another thing that has helped is headbands. I use headbands when I run to pull my hair back, and also to cover up that my sideburns are an awkward length compared to the rest of my head. They also diversify what I can do to my hair. Curling my hair is another trick that hides the unevenness that can happen in the length of my hair. It also helps to look at pictures of when I first got my haircut and realize that my hair really has grown quite a bit.

This was taken the day after I got my haircut

Some headband magic about a month after I cut my hair

This was about six weeks after I cut my hair. It was a nice length, but got kind of poofy and out of control if I didn’t comb it right after I washed it.

This was around the first time I got it cut (three months after the initial haircut). You can tell it was getting a little shaggy in the back.

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Another trick I learned was to flip the ends of my hair out. It also makes me feel like it is longer.

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Curly hair makes everything better. This was taken about four months after the initial hair cut.

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This is what my hair is looking like these days (about five months after the initial haircut). I tuck the sideburns behind my ears to distract from their awkward length.

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This is me wearing my latest favorite headband. I made it from scraps from my reupholster project.

A Classy Couples Retreat

A week ago today Hope and I attended a couples retreat held at CLAS Ropes in Provo, Utah. To our surprise, it was an effective program that caused me to rethink some things about our marriage. Do not worry though, it was all positive. The challenges we partook in ranged from building a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows, to blindfold tag; from classic challenge course activities to canoeing. I will brag that our spaghetti tower we built at the beginning of the retreat was the only tower to stay standing throughout the entire day.

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The ‘foundation’ is key to a strong marriage.

The first thing I learned during the retreat was the value and importance of communication. There were several activities that required us to really talk about how we were going to accomplish the task. Because I work on challenge courses I went about working without telling Hope what she needed to do. I guess I expected her to read my mind. It should not be surprising that we struggled at first. Once we took the time to sit and strategize together, we became a force to be reckoned with.

The second thing and probably the take home for me was to celebrate success with my partner. For me it has become routine to accomplish difficult tasks such as walking across a cable leaning on someone, or jumping from a platform to a bar suspended in mid-air, or suspending myself thirty feet in the air. I casually get through it and am not super excited, because the thrill was spent on my first time. It is different for Hope. Some of those things were very difficult for her, and she needed my love and support to get her through it. And when she accomplished those tasks, I needed to celebrate with her. Actually I was reminded of my first times when I became excited for her, and all of those emotions came back to me. It brought us together when we celebrated together, and that made a huge difference in our relationship.

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Hope about to do the zip line.
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And away she went!
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Me jumping for a bar suspended in mid-air.

Graduation!

We graduated! Because we both graduated the same day in different colleges, we and some very dedicated family members sat through a total of five hours of graduation ceremonies. Most of which was listening to the names of strangers being read over the loud speaker. Thanks to everyone who came and supported us amidst all that monotony. We weren’t sure if we ourselves had the stamina to endure it, it was as though there was one final boring lecture to prove ourselves worthy of our diplomas.

Thanks to everyone who came and supported us the day of graduation and those countless others who supported us in the years it took us to get to graduation.

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Joe receiving his diploma cover.

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Me with the dean of my college, whom I’d never met.

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We made it!

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We were so glad Joe’s mom was able to make it to graduation.

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Couldn’t have ever made it without these people!

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We were pleased that a grandparent from each side of my family was able to come.

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I was also able to walk at the same time as my former roommate who is finishing up her Masters degree.

All in all it was a good day and a great feeling to have finished something that has been a goal for so long.

All photos were taken by my mother Cindy McConkie.

Missing Friends, Seeing Cycles

When I am having a rough time I miss the way things were. I miss old friends and the places we hung out in. Specifically, I miss summers in Jackson with no responsibility. I miss the times where I laughed my head off for no good reason other than I was having a good time.

I have had friends from different times of my life. I have my Jackson friends; I have my friends from my freshman year at Utah State University; I have my friends from my LDS mission in Mexico; Although small in number I have close friends from living here in Salt Lake City. Now I have my wife as a friend. The Lord has blessed me with good friends for different stages of life.

To sum it all up, I want you to know that of all the things that truly makes me really happy, spending quality time with old friends I have not seen in a while, is at the top of the list, if not close to it.

When Technology Fails

I never realize how much I rely on technology in my life until it is gone. My computer has crashed or otherwise been unusable several times in the last year and  the wireless internet that we share with excellent friends has gone out even more times than that. Every time this happens I feel useless. When the internet does not work I can’t cook because I can’t access my favorite cooking websites. I can’t check my email to see what is going on with school, church, and friends. I can’t publish a blog post or see what gems my sister’s blog holds, and I can’t watch my favorite television episodes. When my computer doesn’t work I can’t work on homework, watch DVDs (as my laptops doubles as our TV/DVD player), or write new blog posts. I feel anxious that there is this entire cyber/technological world that I am missing out on.

However, there is something to be said about being unplugged. Those times when I am able to completely let go of technology (of my own free will, not when it is taken from me). I find new freedom. I am more in tune with my thoughts and feelings, my Heavenly Father, and the world around me. I am better able to connect with the people in front of me, rather than those on my cyber network who aren’t physically present. I also, surprisingly, have more free time.

As with all things, there is a balance that needs to be found and my balance is sometimes overthrown by an overindulgence in technology.  Maybe when my technology fails, it is really a sign to me that I need to reconnect to something else.

Golden Tickets, Forget-me-nots, and Wish Lists

As I have been very busy working the equivalent of two jobs, I have been trying to listen to more than just the popular hits on the radio as I commute back and forth. One talk from the October 2011 LDS General Conference always seems to stick in my mind, President Uchtdorf’s talk on the forget-me-not flowers of our lives. He reminded us to not overlook the tiny things in our daily lives that really and truly matter the most. We were also informed about not getting stuck on our ‘golden tickets’ that we think we need in order to be happy. I decided to reflect on what my golden tickets are these days.

My golden tickets seem to consist of a rather expensive wish list of gear and other cool gadgets I all too often think will help me feel efficient, prepared, and way cool. I feel that I need an Apple computer or any new Apple product to replace my small, humble net book and outdated iPod. In order to be fully prepared for the outdoors and/or emergency situations, I think it would be so technologically advanced to own portable solar energy from Goal Zero. I will not even mention the backpacks, climbing gear, boating equipment and other things I have spent so much time drooling over.

The forget-me-nots I overlook include having stuff that works. Sure, it would be cool to have all new stuff, but I should consider myself fortunate to own what I already have. That being said, I would not refuse a gift off of my wish list, wink, wink. More importantly, I have a place to sleep comfortably at night, and I have food to eat always, even though I may sometimes burn it or ruin the mashed potatoes! And I have someone to love and spend forever with. Truth is, I am a lucky man and I am grateful for messages such as this one to remind me of that. If it does not ruin this post, I will throw in a link to the country song I am thinking of this moment.