Facing Adversity

Taylor Yeager remembers a season where instead of playing basketball, he nursed a broken foot, but learned some important life lessons in the process: like not giving up.

It was my senior year at Kearns High School and I was preparing my skills for the 2011-2012 basketball season. I was helping my coach out with a skills camp, when in the middle of a drill I landed awkwardly on my right foot. I heard a loud pop and I instantly felt the pain in my foot. As I hobbled off the court, I sat down to take the pressure off my injured foot and took my shoe off. When I got my shoe and sock off, my foot was swollen and it was rapidly turning purple and blue.

With the pain being so extreme, I knew something was really wrong with my foot. My parents helped me to the car so that they could take me to the hospital to get x-rays. When the x-ray results came back, I found out that I had broke the 5th metatarsal. I didn’t know how to deal with it because I had never been in that position before. As a young adult, I never knew that facing adversity would be this tough.

I had to watch my teammates prepare for the season as I sat back on my butt waiting for my foot to heal. I experienced a lot of sadness, frustration, and even doubts started to creep into my mind. I started to think if I should hang my shoes up and quit playing basketball all together. As I was leaving the hospital, the doctor told me that the bone that I broke was going to take about a month or more to heal so I was going to miss the first 3 games of the season. I had to keep myself focused on what the bigger goal was. In the meantime, I caught myself up with school and stayed after classes and received some tutoring help.

Once I finally got back on the court, I was very eager to practice and play in the next game. My first game back was against Tooele High School who was considered to be a tough opponent. I was very nervous when game time came, but when my name was called to enter the game off the bench, the anxiety went away. I instantly made an impact by scoring 9 points in the first quarter and finishing the game with 18 points all together. My teammates were very proud that I was back playing, but even more so, my coach was filled with joy. At this point, I knew it was going to be a fun and long season.



More than a Game

Danny Katter reminisces about playing golf with his larger-than-life uncle and learning lessons like: “life is a series of golf shots, you can practice everyday and feel like you’re perfect, but things don’t always go how you want them.”

“Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies.” – Bobby Jones. Those were the words my Uncle said to me on the 528 yard, par five, 13th hole at River Oaks Golf Course when I was 16 years old preparing for my high school golf team try-out. As I faced a very long 250 yard second shot out of the thick, long-cut rough with a terrible uphill lie, I thought to my self, I shot an amazing tee shot, straight as an arrow with a little left to right slice at the end to avoid a huge, troublesome sand trap to the left of the fairway. There was nothing I could have done better; the ball just took a bad hop and shot to the right more than I had anticipated and bounced out of the fairway.

The weather was perfect that day, a beautiful, sunny spring day. No wind, not too hot and not too cold. At this point in my life I had just finished my first semester in high school and was struggling keeping my grades up and was fighting with my girlfriend frequently. I wasn’t in a good place in life. I couldn’t get my priorities straight and wasn’t focused on what I should have been. Football had ended more than three months prior to golf tryouts and I had nothing to keep me motivated until that time. I hadn’t even thought about trying out for golf until my Uncle Dave suggested it.

My uncle was a wild soul, big, muscly, loud, with a long black pony-tail. I called him my F.O.B. uncle, “fresh off the boat”. He looked like he should be giving surf lessons at Waimea Bay. He was one of the smartest men I knew, not only about school, but life as well. His advice was always spot-on and exactly what I needed to hear. He could tell when I was struggling with something and wasn’t myself. He was one of my mother’s six brothers and was only a couple years older than her, but was a complete polar opposite. I couldn’t connect with her, and we would butt heads daily, about grades, girls, friends etc.

He reminded me, that life is a series of golf shots. You can practice every day and feel like you’re perfect, but things don’t always go how you want them to. The littlest divots or rocks can alter the greatest shots. But not to look at is a bad thing, rather something to challenge you even more and make you better than you had ever dreamed of. Everyone faces adversity, its how you handle it is what defines you.

Two years after that spring, my Uncle Dave was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and was given six months to live, he ended up living an extra six months and passed away in 2007 right before my senior season of golf had started. I was a wreck, I didn’t go to school for weeks. I even thought about not playing my last season. But then my uncle’s words rang in my head, “never give up, no matter how hard life is, keep your head up and push through the pain.”

I did end up playing my senior season and I played every hole for my uncle. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through to this day. It made me a stronger person and taught me perseverance. That even when terrible things happen in life, it’s all about how you react to and overcome adversity. I try to apply that to my life every day. Life is too short to spend unhappy and depressed. Celebrate it and celebrate the people you love.

I’ll never forget those words my uncle spoke to me and I will pass them down to my son when he’s struggling with something in his life. I went on to make the J.V. golf team my sophomore year at my high school and ended up lettering in golf all three years. Two years making it to the state championship. I also graduated with a 3.5 GPA. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about my Uncle Dave, especially during golf season. I can still see his perfect swing in my head on the tee-box. Every time I tee up. Everywhere I play. I’m positive I will for the rest of my life.

Wild Animals, Wild Kids — Maybe Both

Gabe Moreno writes about his day confronting life-altering questions like: “Do polar bears poop?” while chaperoning the “trouble graders”  on an elementary school field trip to the Hogle Zoo.

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I’m a strong believer in volunteer work, mind you, although taking a gang of elementary kids to the Hogle Zoo was quite the adventure. It was a breezy and murky Friday evening on March 28, heading up the elementary school; it felt like a lengthy lone anxious drive. Walking through the desolated silenced halls instantly gave me nostalgia, as I reminisced how easy life was back then, drinking milk out of those funny cartons and having nap time.

I met with the after school program coordinator Long Nguyen of the University of Utah, who had organized the entire field trip, he had this frantic look on his face as he was checking his phone, and out of nowhere turned to me and said, “You’ll be watching over the trouble graders”. I assumed the old number system wasn’t good enough for this elementary so they used a “behavior-based” grading system? Rather elaborate. Anyways I wasn’t worried at all since I’m usually the cool uncle kids get to hang out with.

I heard a loud bell and soon after, I could hear a flock of children getting closer to the gym where we were. I eventually got to meet the kids I would be watching over, one of them in particular reminded me of myself; he was quiet, shy and seemed out of the loop, “You look like a nice person” he said as he held his Pokémon backpack closely to his side. I jokingly said I was a new student and wanted to make new friends, my new friend Oscar thought I was hilarious.

The other kids would come up to me and yell “stranger danger!” then run away before even giving me a chance to give an explanation. The rest of the “trouble graders” were around nine and ten years old, they weren’t as bad I thought they would be, although before getting in the school bus they gave me some trouble. I needed them to get in a straight line for head count, and at first they looked at me like some kind of over grown kid who had no position to give orders, then I recurred to the countdown method, “Five… Four…. Three…. Two…” BAM! Straight line of kids. It never ceased to work.

Riding once again in a big yellow school bus gave me the chills; the bitter and hectic rides I did not miss one bit, not to mention how uncomfortable the seats were. The kids went in the bus one by one, and then as I stepped in, I greeted the bus driver; your cliché polite old man with glowing white hair and starless sun glasses “Howdy partner!” He said with a big smile on his face. I had to hunker down because my head touched the roof of the bus.

The long bus ride to the zoo was rough; going sixty-five miles per hour with most of the windows down on a cloudy Utah day was wild to say the least. There was a moment I looked around and every kid I saw was on their phone, I wanted to tell them when I was their age, I didn’t have a phone. Hell, when I was their age, we had the more primitive version of a virtual pet; we called them “tamagotchis”.

After finally having arrived to the zoo, the children were anxious to get out of the bus, and I couldn’t really blame them. The zoo employees greeted us with ear to ear smiles as we stepped off the bus. Each one of the volunteers went their own separate ways with their five kids; I took my group first to the gorilla exhibition, their eyes lit up as they pushed their tiny faces onto the thick glass quietly observing the primates, I eventually had to drag them out to the next exhibition because they were blocking the view for the new comers. Next stop were the polar bears and they were fairly anxious.

“Do polar bears poop?” Christina asked timidly, I calmly told her everyone does, then I recommended the book “Everyone poops by Taro Gomi”, she laughed hysterically. As we wandered around, I could see other fellow zoo visitors looking at me confused, probably wondering why I was walking around with five kids, I found it rather amusing.

Oscar came up to me and told me he wanted to see the giraffes, so we were giraffe bound. As we were walking, the kids started enlightening me with random facts about giraffes, “Hey! Did you know that giraffes have blue tongues?” I acted amazed at all the facts they threw at me “No way you didn’t know that!” said Oscar with a dazed look on his face.

It was time for us to go, and the kids seemed tired and moody by the end of the day; their sleepy eyes did not lie one bit. One last head count before heading back to school, the “trouble graders” told me how they had a great time with me, and I myself had a blast. That day I realized someday I would be a cool dad.


Memories of Baklava and my Mother

Egypt native, Sabah Hassan, writes about the delectable baklava and memories of watching her mom bake. Did you know Sabah likes her baklava frozen? Try it!


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Baklava is a desert of Turkish origin dating the fifteenth century; and today it’s popular also in Greece and throughout the Middle East, especially in Egypt.

It’s very sweet; it’s made of phylo dough (super paper thin dough) layered like a lasagna with mixed finely chopped nuts, usually walnuts, almonds, raisins, pistachio and honey syrup, which is made of water, sugar, and rose water. Baklava is honeyed, juicy, little bit of sour. It’s so glossy. When you bit baklava, you can feel the dripping juicy, and it’s crunchy. Baklava has a rich flavor.

I have a great relationship with my wonderful mother; she is the truest friend I have. She has a sweet heart and she cares about everyone. When it comes to cooking, I am really happy to see my mom making the food we all enjoy, without my intelligent, amazing, fantastic, and sweet mother this world is nothing to me. Her name is Lul and she makes baklava during holidays or when we have parties.

It’s really simple to make baklava. When I see my mom making baklava in the kitchen she puts on her favorite song, it’s slow music, it’s Arabic. She opens all the windows in the kitchen so she can get beautiful fresh air, then I see her wearing her beautiful apron with purple flowers and green leaves on a brown lattice design.  When my mom makes baklava I can smell the fresh food as its baked. The fun part is that I cannot wait to eat the baklava, so I get into the kitchen, like a thief, trying to take the baklava, my mom sees me and says, ‘’go away!’’  holding her hips– which reminds me of the song by Shakira hips don’t lie.

When you taste baklava it melts in your mouth. After the baklava is out from the oven my mom puts it in the table to cool it down, but I like my baklava to be frozen.

For the people out there who don’t know what baklava is I feel sorry for you, because baklava is the best desert you’ll ever taste. Once you try it you’ll never regret it!

Released from Depression

Jerika Shupe writes about the bright light at the end of her own dark tunnel of depression.

In 2010 I was happily looking forward to my high school graduation and moving on to college and other exciting pursuits.  In the midst of all this, I became extremely ill and was diagnosed with two chronic diseases.  Day after day became a fight to somehow get my body to tolerate food so I could give it the nutrients to heal.  My body was so sick that it was extraordinarily painful to even have a thin bed sheet lying on my abdomen.

I was in denial about my health, pushing myself too hard, and finished high school with great difficulty.  I began to slip into a depression.  After the summer, I went to a semester of college.  That’s when I finally realized I needed a break and to heal my body.

At this time, I also was unexpectedly grieving the loss of two family members and my best friend.  And this is when my depression sank into suicidal thoughts.  This seemed to creep up on me by surprise.  I didn’t realize I was suicidal for a while, once again, I was in denial.  Until things got worse and worse and I realized I needed help.  So I started opening up to people about what I was going through.

Depression, also known as Major Depression Disorder “is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest: it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living” (Mayo Clinic Staff).  Furthermore, in 2007 a nationwide study showed that Utah was the most depressed state in the country (Thalman).

Depression may come from a chemical imbalance in the brain: too little serotonin, and can be corrected by medication.  As a result pharmaceuticals create antidepressants to raise the serotonin which we hope will help cure us.

However, this is not entirely true.  Depression can sometimes be caused by low levels of serotonin, but that is not the whole picture.  There are so many other things that it can be caused by.  So raising the serotonin might not do much for you.  A collection of doctors studied this and discovered that “…while anti-depressants raise serotonin levels within hours, it takes weeks before medication is able to relieve depression.  If low serotonin caused depression, there wouldn’t be this antidepressant medication lag.”

Studies have shown that antidepressants are, “…slightly more effective than placebo” (Ramsey).  What? We are putting our lives in the hands of a pill that is slightly more effective than a fake?  This is our problem. In learning this, I for one, wanted to get to the heart of the issue with my own difficulty with depression so that it could get resolved and fixed.

There were many different options of things I could do to try to help.  I considered anti-depressants, counseling, taking herbs, etc.  And tried many of them.  I began to talk to different people who had gone through something similar or knew someone who did, until I was referred to someone who used “The Emotion Code.”  Which is my solution to our problem.

Upon studying, I discovered many different things that I didn’t know before.  The Emotion Code is the use of energy healing to release emotions that have become trapped in our bodies.  What is energy healing?  Well we need to remember back to our science class what we learned as we were trying desperately to keep our eyes open and hope the teacher didn’t notice us nodding off.  (Maybe that was just me….but it wasn’t completely entertaining watching the slideshow of my teacher’s private collection of moss photos…true story).  Einstein discovered that E=mc2, which means that everything is made up of energy.  Our thoughts are energy and can be electromagnetically measured.  Well, same goes for our emotions.  They are energy, too, and when we feel an emotion strong, enough the energy of it can get trapped in our body.

So what I was learning is that trapped emotions I had in the past were still affecting me today and contributing to my depression and difficulty coping with present-life circumstances and moving on.  (Got Depression?)

There are several steps in an Emotion Code session.  First what we need is to learn from your subconscious mind if you have a trapped emotion related to whatever you are coming in for, and for the sake of this paper we will say depression.  Your subconscious mind is 90 percent of your brain capacity, remembering everything.  It remembers every face you’ve seen, knows what is going on in your body, even if you have trapped emotions.

To tap into the subconscious, the practitioner will use muscle testing.  Dr. Bradley Nelson, the creator of ‘The Emotion Code’, described in an e-mail what that is.

“Muscle testing is a noninvasive tool we can use to identify imbalances in the body. The science behind it is similar to a lie detector test or a polygraph. In a polygraph, a person is hooked up to sensitive electrodes and asked certain questions. The person’s answers generate a certain electrical response in the body, which is read and graphed by the machine, showing if the answers are true or false. This is done on a very delicate, minute scale. The muscles of the body are also affected by this electrical state- so we can use them to show this same response, just on a more pronounced, larger scale. Any muscle will become weakened in a state of incongruence or falsehood, making resistance difficult. Conversely, muscles will remain strong and able to resist when in a state of congruency or truth. What’s nice is that muscle testing allows us to access important information about health, we just have to know what questions to ask, then apply the resistance to a muscle and get our answers!” (Nelson).

In layman’s terms that means you hold your arm out straight and try to resist the practitioner pushing down on it.  If your arm holds firm, the answer is true or yes.  If the muscles in your arm weakens then the answer is false or no.

So once we have discovered the emotion we need to release it.  We release it by rolling a magnet down the middle of our back where there is an energy pathway called the Governing Meridian.

“Just like a magnifying glass will intensify sunlight enough to start a fire, magnets can act as an amplifier for the energy of your thought and intention, enough to produce a change in the body.

“The intentions and thoughts we have are energy. Magnets are energy. Your body is energy. Because of this, one can have an effect on the other.

“When we identify a trapped emotion with The Emotion Code, we simply must intend to release it, using a magnet to amplify this signal and put it into the body. We use the Governing Meridian as the entrance point for the amplified intention energy, because the Governing Meridian is an energy reservoir that connects directly to all the acupuncture meridians of the entire body. So when you put energy into the Governing Meridian, it flows instantly throughout the body and the trapped emotion is released!”  (Nelson).

I set up an appointment with a practitioner and was amazed at the burdens being lifted off and my increase in confidence.  I released trauma that I had felt when I was around 6.  I had taken a piece of paper, put it over a candle that was burning.  I must have felt super awesome and powerful for doing something like that.  My plan was to walk down the hall into the bathroom and put the paper under running water to put it out.

When I walked down the hall, I accidentally angled the paper so that the flames were pointing up to my fingers.  I felt the hot fire and instinctively dropped it onto our carpet in the hallway.  I ran and told my mom who blew it out with her super-mama wind-power.

This experience was so traumatizing for me at the time because I realized I set my house on fire and jeopardized my whole family’s safety.  I now understand that I was just a young child with poor judgment, but at the time I felt utterly awful and couldn’t speak openly about it without guilt until I was 20, after releasing those emotions that I had trapped as a horrified six-year-old.

I realized the emotions from this experience and others throughout the years were still in my body.  I was carrying those burdens and then when other burdens came, such as the grief and disease it all became too much and I lost my zeal for life.

Relieving these emotions was an incredibly freeing experience.  I began to feel burden after burden lifted.  Not just dulled, but lifted.  I went to the root of my issues:  low-self-esteem, fear, grief, and got them out of my body.

I had a complete transformation by use of the Emotion Code and was able to feel happy once again.  I was able to laugh, play, fun, feel free, but most importantly, truly love myself.  Truly be happy with me.  That is something I had previously thought I could never feel.

So we have a problem.  Here we are, believing that all we need is antidepressants, and if they aren’t fixed, then we are doomed to continue wading through our mossy swamp, when there is a life of happiness waiting to be unleashed.

My proposed solution is for those with depression to take a hold of our own health and seek help through a modality that gets to the root of the problem, that releases these emotions, not just learning how to deal with them, but to actually get them out of our body.  I believe our success will help those around us gain the strength to have successes of their own.

Depression was very difficult to go through, but through the Emotion Code I became healed and have become stronger and happier than ever before in my life.  That is why I, myself, chose to become an Emotion Code Practitioner.  I wanted to give help those around me who are suffering.  To anyone who may be going through similar things or knows someone who is:  There is hope.  You do not need to be stuck in this cycle forever.  There is healing.  And I am proof.

Barrel Bums

Adrienn Mak writes about the unusual characters she meets at a music and mustache festival 

As the night crept deeper and deeper into darkness on March 1, 2014, the freaks started to gather in the now emptied warehouse district of Salt Lake City. As groups of people were flowing through the doors to come enjoy the endless night of music, mustaches, and mischief; the night began to turn cool and crisp with mist in the air. Jay Sampson, a semi-tall man with a scruffy beard, smoking a cigarette, started talking in his heavy Boston accent; he said, “I haven’t talked to a promoter yet, but we are going to get a fire going for the all of us.” As Sampson stumbled away the group of people watched, wondering what would become of this.

In the distance of the warehouses all that was heard was the “thwack thwack” of an ax slamming into wood pallets; all that was seen was a white hat bobbing, everyone too preoccupied to know what was going on, continued smoking their cigarettes. The scraping of wood on the pavement started getting closer and closer.

“Get back people, it’s about to get hot out here!” Sampson started yelling in his slightly inebriated Boston accent.

The freaks that gathered all watched as Sampson started stocking the burn barrel. People dressed in neon hats and furry jackets watched as the hacked up pallet pieces starting stacking as high as the sky; after the barrel was full he just simply walked off. The group of folks that happened to be out at the time just wondered, where was Sampson going? A few moments had passed and Sampson returned with a can of gas and a cup;

“This isn’t his first rodeo,” spoke a beautiful, long blonde hair, woman, wearing a white feather head piece.

Standing like a group of homeless people next to the burn barrel everyone’s eyes just lit up with the beauty of Sampson throwing a lit piece of paper in the barrel then splashing a cup of gas into it. As the cloud began to open and the rain began to sprinkle it became a place of gathering, community, and warmth until the sun rose.

Climbing and Patience

Shawn Soper writes about taking his girlfriend rock-climbing outside for the first time and her initial trepidation, but how the experience brought them closer.    

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It was supposed to be a very nice day. My phone told me it might reach 70 degrees and be sunny most of the day. But on our way up to Ferguson Canyon my girlfriend Gen didn’t feel so confident.

“Do you see all those clouds?” she said, eyebrow raised. “ I am not sure your phone is right this time.”

Ignoring this, I continued my way up the road. Even if it did not end up being so sunny, it was supposed to be around 70  degrees — plenty warm for rock climbing sun or no sun. Well that was the dream anyways.

We hopped out of the car, grabbed our gear, leashed the dog, and headed up the trail. The trip up the trail was not as bad as I had feared, even with the rain earlier in the week, the trail was very dry. The hike took us about 15 mins stopping every now and again for the dog, or to look at some nature. I told her we where close to the wall, it was right around the corner. Her eyes blazed with excitement. Then we rounded the corner, and I pointed at the wall we where to climb. A massive wall with little features to the untrained eye. It stared her down, I could see it in her face, she was a bit scared.

We set up the tarp under the climb, tied the dog to a tree , and with the rope over my shoulder, we looked at each other.

“You ready?” I asked. “We have to hike up from behind it so that we can set our rope up.”

“Mhhmm,” she replied nodding her head.

I could tell she was still scared, but I was going to do everything I could to help beat the fear. The walk to the top of the climb was pretty uneventful. When we got to the top, I announced the we where here. Gen looked around unsure. I pointed out the chains.

“So these are the chains.” I stated, getting the rope set up.

“That it?”she said, sounding unconvinced “Well I guess I am trusting my life with some metal and a little rope.”

“Is that a problem?” I asked, really hoping it was not a problem.

“I guess not,” she replied

I got the feeling that if it was anyone else trying to tell her that this was safe. They would have had a hard time. But I was glad that she trusted me. It made it a lot easier. I finished up getting the rope through the chains and down the wall. I showed her a quick demonstration of how to repel.

“This is the scariest part,” I said breathing hard, “this is where you have to trust the rope 100 percent.”

I hated this part. I hated this part more then I hated anything. I got my courage and leaned over the edge putting my weight on the rope. I started going down, trying to explain how to do certain things, such as how to sink under a under hang, by lowering your butt lower then the over hang and then plunging your legs to the wall. Once I got down I pulled the rope out of my ATC and told here that she was good to go. Two seconds later I see her coming down the wall. No fear at all. Maybe I am just a big pansy, or maybe nothing stops her. I am still not sure. She got down safely and now it was time to climb up.

I started teaching her how to tie the knots that she was going to need. Once she got that down it explained the wall

“So this wall; it’s a 5.7” I tell her.

“There is no way,” was her response.

“Climbs are a lot different outside, you have a lot more options, you can use what ever you want on that face.”

Then started her climb. It was a long one, and I knew it would be. This was her first outside climb, and it can make you very scared. Also the fact that my phone had lied to me. During the whole day the sun got more and more covered. And on top of that a cold wind had started blowing down the canyon from the snowy mountain top. I knew she was going to have a hard time. I know that when its cold the hold on the face feel sharp and hurt your fingers. But she would not stop. Every time she would get stumped or confused. She would look very frustrated, I would ask.

“Do you need down?”

“No I am fine,” she would always reply.

Most of the time was spent trying to tell her where to go. Because I knew where the holds were. I had done that wall before, also with my experience I could see all the holds available to her, whether she did or not.

“Put your foot into that crack”

“What crack?”

“That crack, left foot, down an inch, there you go”

After a point she really started to get it. She started to fly up the wall. It was hard to keep up with her. She even started to get smart with me. About ¾ the way up there is a branch from a tree that grows next to the wall. It a rule that your not supposed to use it. Well she went up there and reached for the branch. I yelled up there and told her that was not allowed, it was cheating. She smartly replied “You said I could use anything on the face” quoting me.

After the branch she finished very quickly and then started down. Once she got to the bottom, I gave her a hug and told her how proud of her I was, that she did her first outside wall like a champ. She was happy and smiled, which made me smile. And now it was my turn. I tied myself in, chalked up my hands and started climbing. The second I grabbed onto the wall, I was freezing. I was amazed she had climbed all the way up. She had stopped every once in a while to warm up her hands and now I knew why. The wall was ice cold. With no sun the wall just soaked up the cold wind. Making every hand hold sharp and painful. Even with this added factor. I still wanted to teach her. So while making my way up I showed her all the hold I wanted her to use. That they would in fact hold her and yes they where safe. I had told her many times she needed to trust her body and trust the equipment; easier said then done. But that’s why I tried to show her on my way up. So I finished the wall fairly quickly, and headed down.

It was not that late in the day, but we decided to head out. We were tired of being cold. We packed everything up and headed back down the trial, dog in tow. Once we got back to the car. I asked her if she had fun. She told me she did, and that would want to do it again. That made me smile. Rock climbing is one of my most favorite things to do. And the fact that I get to do it with some one that I care about as much a Gen, well that makes it even better.

Sina and the Eel

Francella Pola, who grew up on the Samoan Island of Savai’i, tells this traditional myth she learned about how the coconut came to be: It all started with a very persistent eel who ended up getting his head cut off by the chief!  In the Samoan language, the legend is called “Sina ma le Tuna,” but English, “Tuna” is called fish.


Once there was a Samoan girl name Sina that lived on the Island of Savai’i. Sina had a baby eel (Tuna) she raised as a pet.

While Sina and the eel lived in Savai’I, the eel grew and became big and healthy. But something scary happened: the eel fell in love with Sina and that make her afraid. So, she tried to run away from the Tuna, but the Tuna followed her. Finally, Sina found a hideout place near the village of Safune and thought she is safe there.

In the village of Safune, there is a crystal clear pool where people of the village go to get water to drink. Sina often went by the pool to get some fresh water to drink. While Sina bent down and looked into the clear pool, she saw the Tuna staring right up to her. Sina got really mad and angry and she cried:

“You stare at me with eyes like a demon!” (Or in Samoan: “E pupula mai ou mata ole alelo!”)

So the chiefs of the village came and killed the eel.

When the Tuna was dying, the Tuna made a request to Sina to plant its head in the ground. Sina follow the Tuna’s request and planted its head in the ground.

About a year later, a coconut tree grew from the ground. And the people of the village husked the coconut, inside they saw the three marks that symbolize the two eyes and a one mouth of the eel. The mark for the mouth is use for drinking. So, when Sina drinks the coconut she is kissing the eel (Tuna).

As of today, the village pool in Safune, Savai’I is named after Sina’s words when she got mad at the Tuna. And it’s called “Mata o le Alelo.” The people of this village drinks fresh water from this pool. The place is open for sightseeing and mostly to the tourist when visiting the island.

This legend of Sina and the Tuna explains the origins of the first coconut tree and the usefulness to our people.


Memories of Nowroz

Nazifa Ali writes about her favorite Afgan holiday, Nowroz, which is her culture’s New Years celebration. She recalls happy memories with her family; like her mother making  a sweet treat called Haft Mewa, a mixture of seven dried fruits: green and red raisins,  apricots, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and the dried fruit of the Oleatser tree.

One vivid memory I had as a kid is Nowroz. My mom would design a simple rose that had lines coming out from the center of my palm which she said symbolized that I have a bright future ahead of me.

Two nights before the special celebration,  families get together at a relative’s house and apply henna on their palms with any designs. Applying henna on this day is said to bring good luck in general.  In my opinion, Nowruz is my favorite time of the year.

Many Afghans believes that Nowroz is chance to start a new life with a fresh start; the meaning of this is that you have to forgive and forget the mistakes of one another. In other words, this is the day where you are to have new hopes and new goals towards life.

One the main reasons why I find Nowruz fun is, back in my hometown, my family and our relatives would visit each other’s houses for up to one or two weeks; however, in America it is a matter of one day.

Another contrast between the events in both countries is that in America, they celebrate this holiday after Christmas, but in Afghanistan they celebrate it after eid al ghadeet. Like in America on the day of New Year’s they have a New Year’s resolution meanwhile in Afghanistan they don’t do that.

One of my favorite desserts for nowruz is Jelabi which my mom makes every year. The ladies of the house brings this desert while serving their guests tea.  Another custom for New Year’s is to prepare “haft- mewa” which means “seven fruits.” Haft mewa is a mixture of seven dried fruits that has been soaked in water with sugar for couple of nights and then is served on the day of nowruz. In order to make the “haft-mewa” you will need this fruits are green raisins, red raisins, dried apricots, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and dried fruit of the oleaser tree.

Just one day before New Year’s is where the young ones go to buy new clothes and jewelry for a gift on the other hand that women’s would prepare for the big day.

Finally, the day of celebration would arrive where some people go to mosque and then goes to their relative’s house. They first would visit their eldest then go to youngest. Also, the eldest of the house has to give money to everyone.

Saying Hello to Spring!

Kirill Jordan writes about joining the chaotic, but fun, Festival of Colors to welcome Spring.

What seemed to be  just another trip to the small town of Spanish Fork Utah quickly changed when I was stuck in hour-long traffic on my way to the Krishna Temple. After missing my goal of arriving there at 11 a.m.,I was finally able to park my car three miles away and walk to the temple and get in the gate by 12:45; that is when the fun began.

The Color Festival at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork Utah is thrown to celebrate the passing of winter and the coming of spring. According to Payum a host of the event “the Festival of Colors is a celebration of spring, it signifies the victory of good over evil, the end of winter, forgiving and forgetting, and starts the previous night with a Holika bonfire.”

I had no idea what I was getting myself into but being dragged by all my friends, I found myself here feeling the warmth and joyfulness of the people surrounding me. With loud music to the left and lamas to the right, I found myself lost not knowing which direction to go. I was looking confused and happened to stumble into a Hindu man.

“This is a time for people to be stress free and not worry about anything else other than being happy and having a good time,” said the Hindu man as he continued to walk away. He must have seen the confused look on my face and even left me with a free bag of colors to throw in the air when the time came. I continued my journey downwards towards the stage where they were having the bands play and people were dancing. The time to throw colors finally rolled around and I was quickly reaching for my bandana because I was warned about how hard it is to breath without. Luckily I was able to throw on my bandana and my sunglasses in time and shouted with the rest of the crowd “5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” and bam! Everyone threw their rainbow colored bags into the air and that is when I could not see anything other than the beautiful colors filling the daytime sky.

“You literally can’t see a thing and it’s so hard to breath when they throw the colors!” screamed my friend Ethan Bailey who was standing right next to me. When the colors finally faded downwards from the daylight sky, you could see the leftover affects and everyone’s clothes were filled with colors.

“This is the most fun I have ever had” said my other friend Sydney Bowen as we continued to dance. When the festival finally started to slow down I was lucky enough to find a hold of one of the performers by the name of Lokah Bhakti and snag a picture with him.

At the end of the day I think that the Color Festival is something that everyone should experience once in their life and go out and have a good time, don’t be afraid to try something new. I was very happy that my friends dragged me down there on an early Saturday morning because this will now be a memory that stays with me for a very long time.