Monday, May 31, 2010

Life Without Cruise Control

"Destiny is no matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."
-William Jennings Bryant

I used to be a "grandpa driver." At least that's what my friends told me as I was shuttling them around. I don't think it was that bad, most of the time. I have never been one to speed excessively or drive recklessly, but I recently began a new job that requires a daily commute from Provo to Murray during the morning traffic. After doing that everyday for a few weeks, I think I have shed the title of "grandpa" and now I am just a "commuter." I think that switch generally requires an average increase of 10 m.p.h. and 53% more lane changes. Also, a commuter is envious of those that are able to utilize the carpool lane, although a commuter is too cheap to buy a "commuter pass." (to be able to use the carpool lane with only the driver in the car) I also love my car. I chose what I wanted, but I was unaware when we bought it, that it did NOT have cruise control. I repeat, the car does not go without my foot on the gas peddle. Long commute? Depends on traffic. Minor detail, right? Even though, it seems like something small, I am going to blame all of my problems on these facts from now on.

With it being the holiday weekend and all, my little bro and his friends went to St. George to celebrate his birthday and have a good time. Of course, my roommate and I tagged along with the 12 teenagers and my family. We had to leave later than the rest of them though, so I had to take my own car. I have made this trip once before with my spacious (but little) Honda Fit (that doesn't have cruise control) so I knew what kind of adjustments I would need to make during the ride so that my bum bum wasn't sore the entire way. I've thought a lot about how to fix this problem. While I'm driving and my right cheek is killing me (sorry to be so graphic...) I just try to find a solution that will keep the car going. This trip, I learned how to use my left leg for just a little while before it wussed out as well.

Cruise control.... cruise control... cruise control... two words that go through my head a lot, I think. St. George was wonderful! It was warm and sunny and the pool felt great. On Saturday, my roommate and I decided to go hiking. We were going to go hike up in Snow Canyon. Since I am on vacation, I should drive in a leisurely manner, right? Wrong. Once a commuter, always a commuter. Don't forget that. That is, until you get pulled over. In over 6 years of driving, I never once got pulled over! I think that's pretty good. Mom, I know it took you like 29 years, congrats. Why could I not have been a grandpa driver that day? Oh yeah, let's blame cruise control. If I had set my cruise control, would I have been going 38 in a 25 zone? No. I know what you're thinking, "who sets their cruise control at 25....?" Ok, we all know that I wouldn't have set it, but I need something to blame, remember? Cruise control/commuter (those are my 'issues'). Apparently, my "innocent act" worked to my advantage. I only got written up for 30 mph instead of 38. whew! Is it bad that I'm relieved to get that first ticket experience over with?

In all the thoughts I had this weekend about cruise control, I had many interesting ideas on how to make this work in my car. It was then that I had a bigger epiphany... what would it be like if we had cruise control for life?! We could just set it at the desired speed and daunt through existence while occasionally steering in a new direction. How many of us have tried this? Um, me. I will be the first to admit that. I think it seems easier at times to just coast through the necessities and hope that we can get by. In a way, this is kind of a run-on from last week's lesson from New York. Who controls what I do? Me. Who controls who I am? Me. Who controls my attitude, my actions, my thoughts.... my life? I do. We don't get the option to set a 'cruise control' to help us slide through the difficult travels that we'll make. We control our pace. At times, our speed limit (so to speak) is going to be much different that what we want. We can't always go 38 in a 25. At the same time, it's totally impractical to go 25 on the highway! We learn from those mistakes. We govern the journey that leads to our destination.

Cruise control through life? Forget it! I am going to drive myself to meet my goals. I hope it's a long trip, but you just never know. I picture different friends and family with me along the way. There will be good conversation, lots of great 'road trip' music, and maybe some funny games. Heck, I'll also tell you that my right cheek will be a lot more toned than that left one. It will be a little sore, but at least I'm setting my own pace. Right?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Waking up in the "Big Apple"

I have only committed to writing on Mondays. However, to get a jump start on things, I am going to write just this one Tuesday. The good part of the story involves Mondays though so I think it's legit. Two weeks ago (the day after Mother's Day), I woke up thinking, "Grrrrreat.... it's Monday.... (!)" I am very enthusiastic in the mornings... (take note, that's sarcasm). Anyway, I reached over and picked up my phone like I normally do to see who's contacted me when they should have been sleeping. I checked my email and received the most wonderful of surprises! I had signed up for this website called '' It was supposed to help me find good deals on flights to places that I wanted to go, but usually I got depressing emails that only reminded me that I was not going anywhere anytime soon. I'm glad I did not take my name off that list just yet. As the suject of the email, I read, "Fare Alert! Low fare from Salt Lake City to New York City." HA! I'd probably have to pay $500 and they'd call it 'low fare.' When I opened the email, to delete it of course, something marvelous caught my eye. There it was, "$20 Round Trip to New York City." That bout threw me over the edge! Who on earth would try to get my hopes up like that?! Everyone knows I've wanted to go and visit Kaitlan and see the Big Apple, but this was just cruel. I decided that I'd check out this hoax on Jet Blue's website. Much to my surprise, it was true! No hoax at all!! To make a long story short, I had plane tickets within 15 minutes. Thank you internet. The only catch was that I'd have to leave the very next day. Problem? Nope. I decided that instead of coming back the next day (as was required by the $20), I'd just buy a one-way ticket and stay for a week and then pay regular price to come home. (Dear BookingBuddy, I'm so sorry, please forgive me. I will never doubt you again...)

Spontaneity is always something that I've enjoyed. Sometimes, even 'planned spontaneity' is better than nothing. But I am a firm believer that every once in a while, one must do something that requires you to make a decision in an instant that could change your life. I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but in a way, I feel like I came back from NYC as a different, rejuvenated, and more focused person. So... before I knew it, I was on the red eye out of Salt Lake City. Arriving at JFK was an adventure, especially since I was by myself. I got on the air train, transferred to the subway, got almost to the hotel before I got lost and took a $4 taxi because I was so delirious! I made it on the same day as Kait's showcase. Coincidence? No. She did AMAZING! I'm so impressed with that girl and how much she's grown in the past few years. I was then able to spend a few days with one of my very best friends in a city that I have always found exhilarating. Although I can't put my finger on it, there was something that happened in that week that re-inspired me to try to be great. I came to the realization that I am, indeed, in charge of my own destiny.. For the first time in a long time, I have understood that limits to what I can do and who I can be, don't exist.

The only person that can make me feel trapped in my own little world is me. I've realized that the decision is mine. If I don't like something, I can change it. If it's impossible to change whatever it is, I can change my attitude. I am really grateful for my own little "adventures" that teach me these lessons. They help me put things in perspective and I always learn something new. Who knew someone could find so much purpose in a place where one person is so small?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Attempt #1: "Justified Blogging"

For the last few months, I have been trying to convince myself, "I do NOT need a blog..." Truth is, I don't. Let my friend, Nicole, attest to this, I make fun of bloggers. All of them. But let me take you through my thought process and maybe, just maybe, you'll understand this whole thing...?

#1: While this is my first attempt at "blogging," I have a very small success rate at
writing in a journal. I just can't do it! Needless to say, that's still a work in progress.
I'm counting these as journal entries.

#2: Put frankly, I'm definitely not good at working with computers. I'm honestly
putting forth some effort. If this thing does not get better looking soon, I'm going to give up. Who knows how to use these blog things?? HELP!!!

#3: Getting really tired of facebook....

#4: Six months ago, my life changed dramatically. My mission came to an end and I came home to figure out that life isn't quite what I was expecting it to be. Months later, I feel like I'm finally getting to where I need to be. Let me be honest, even after six months, the comment I still hear the most is, "Spence, we really are glad that you're home, but we're really missing your Monday emails." Well, I hope you meant it because here I am again, in full force! haha. Clearly, I learned and grew just as much, if not more, than anybody else. I have missed writing those Monday emails. Hence, the terms "missingmondays" and "letters from monday..." In a way, I feel like I am Monday. Plus, it's my mom's favorite day of the week. So, here's a toast to our favorite day! (Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, other family and friends that have commented to me, here's your chance to stay caught up on Mondays once again:)