Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Wishes to You

As this will be my last post for 2012, I would just like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and
a Happy New Year.  Thank you to those who continue to visit this blog, leave comments and feedback (often in person,) and motivate me to keep writing.  My next post will be in about 3 weeks.

In the meantime, may you love and be loved.  May you hold close those dearest to you, whether in your arms or in your hearts.  And may we all remember the birth of our Savior throughout this Christmas season.

Best holiday wishes and a fun, safe New Year to you all.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prayers for Newtown...

I have already commented on Friday's tragedy several times on my other blog, but my heart remains heavy as pictures of the little victims have started to be released.

As predicted, the issue of gun control has already arisen.  I heard another person say they think that the school should be demolished and a memorial put in its place.  (I do not agree with that idea at all.)  Others have talked about turning off Christmas lights and putting away decorations in the wake of what happened because celebrating seems so inappropriate.

To me, most of these ideas give power to the gunman and to Fear, which is not what we want to do.  Focus on the identities of the victims and their families, yes.  Don't watch too much news footage or give status (however negative) to the the gunman's name, also yes.

We continue to attempt to make sense of the senseless. We look for reasons why these things occur and why innocent lives were taken too soon.  We don't like accepting that horrible random things just happen to those who don't deserve it.  

I am trying to keep it simple.  No more news, a healing heart, and moving forward.  Thank goodness that I have that luxury. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Remembering the Grandparents...

Today my mom sent me the picture above, of my niece and nephew on either side of my grandparents' grave.  The email subject was "remembering the Titos," because we called them Tito and Tita.  They both passed away in 2008.  My grandpa in March at age 97 and my grandma in July at age 90.  They had been married 66 years.

In another blog post on my other site I wrote an entry called The Blessings of Family.  And it is true, family is such a blessing.  At least mine is. 

I love that my mom takes my niece and nephew to visit their great-grandparents at the cemetery, that she talks of them often and makes them come alive in their world. My nephew only met my grandpa the day before he passed away, and my niece never had a chance to meet them.  But knowing the sensitivity of children and the huge presence that my grandparents were in our lives, visiting their grave site isn't creepy or morbid for us. It is just the best we can do for now until we are all together again. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Road Signs of Life...

There is something I heard the other day that was so profound, I cannot stop thinking about it.  What is even more amazing is that this concept was created and explained by a young child.
It was at church on Sunday, where we were having our monthly testimony meeting.  It is a chance for anyone to go up to the podium and share a spiritual experience and their feelings about the Lord's role in their life.  As the time was coming to a close, the son of some friends (age 8 or 9) took a turn.  And this is what he said:

I think of us as cars on a road.  There are all of these signs pointing us in the right direction and telling us what we need to do.  That is the Gospel.  And there are all of these ditches and cracks in the road trying to throw us off.  That is the Adversary.  And if we just follow the signs and directions and watch out for the ditches and cracks, we'll find our way back to our Heavenly Father.

Is that not one of the best explanations for living a good life you've ever heard?  I was awestruck at this child's wisdom.  His mother was sitting right in front of me and I asked her where he had heard this.  She didn't know.  His sincerity and earnestness seemed to indicate that it was something he had thought of himself.

I have been thinking about it for the last two days in relation to decisions I have made in my life.  I can, happily, say that I have not made any really bad life-altering choices.  But there are times in my life where I have been stubborn or prideful and there have been consequences.  There were signs pointing in the right direction which I chose not to follow and this particular car hit a few ditches instead.

Looking back, I cannot really see myself doing anything differently.  The person I am today is a culmination of all my experiences.  But I can think of times in my life when I could have been happier, more productive, and more selfless.  If I have any regrets, it is knowing that those moments are gone and cannot be undone.

Fortunately, the road is far from over.  I would like to think that age and experience is bringing clarity as those situations may present themselves again.  Next time I will pay better attention to the signs along the way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thoughts on Lincoln: the Movie

The two films I have been most excited to see this holiday season have been Lincoln and Les Misérables.

I did not know what to expect of Lincoln, but I knew that with Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role that the portrayal would be of exceptional quality.  He did not disappoint.  With all that we do know about our 16th president, there is also a lot that we don't know.  Yet Daniel Day-Lewis created the Abraham Lincoln that I imagine really existed, from his wit, to his posture and gait, to his stoop, which increased as the duties of his office became more burdensome and as the Civil War raged on year after year.

The film does run long, and there were certain parts that I felt could've been edited further.  It centers mostly on the passing of the 13th Amendment, and some of those scenes left me weary, although they were notably important, no doubt.  I preferred the scenes that did not involve acquiring votes and arguing, but showed the intimate relationships that Lincoln had with those closest to him.

I loved the close, easy bond that he had with this youngest son, Tad (wonderfully acted by Gulliver McGrath.)  I also loved how Steven Spielberg showed Lincoln's accessibility.  He visited the wounded in hospitals and soldiers on the battlefield.  He was able to drive undisturbed through the streets of Washington DC in an open carriage.  People could go to the White House and speak to him about local issues.  It was a time in history when presidential responsibilities were mostly focused on the country and not internationally. A time very different from now. 

If the film is accurate, it was also interesting to see people's reactions to their leader.  His opponents reviled him, his allies respected him, even putting up with his stories and quirkiness.  And his inner circle, mainly his youngest sons and house staff, adored him.

The supporting cast was very competent, although when I see Sally Field (Mary Todd Lincoln) and Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens) I can only see the actors, not the characters.  I like them both, but their appearances are too recognizable.  James Spader was excellent as W.N. Bilbo, and Lee Pace--a personal favorite--fully morphed into the loathsome Fernando Wood.

Lastly, there is the voice.  There are no known recordings of Abraham Lincoln's voice, but history has recorded that is was slightly high, yet relaxed.   In an interview I saw, Steven Spielberg said that Daniel Day-Lewis created the voice on his own and then sent him a private recording in which he was reading one of Lincoln's speeches.  Whatever Lewis's process, the voice he created was an incredible addition to the character.  And the occasional "ain'ts" and "I seen" reminds us that this was a self-taught man from extremely humble beginnings.

I love well-made movies.  Lincoln is one of them.  Seeing this great, yet enigmatic, man brought to life in such an amazing way was thrilling.  I recommend it.

This is a 43 second clip from one of my favorite scenes. A link to the film's trailer will appear on the bottom left.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A little holiday music...

There's no escaping it now, the holiday season is here!  I spent part of today working on Christmas cards and also bought some white, sparkly material to go underneath one of our nativities.  Hopefully, the house will be decorated by the end of the week.  That is my goal.

Here's a holiday song to leave with you this evening.  Celtic Woman--their Christmas arrangements are so beautiful!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Easing into the Season...

After a rainy Thanksgiving week, the sun was shining today!  My big dog wagged his tail happily during a very long walk and I made plans for my day.  The presents are nearly all purchased, but I was still curious to see what the local mall had to offer--I found a lot of inventory and so-so prices.  I never was one of those people who could get into the after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.  I left empty-handed.

So I decided to switch my focus.  Christmas cards. 

Sending Christmas cards takes work, but I believe it is the perfect way to start the season.  It's easy and it is your basic assembly-line activity.  Today I found the cards I wanted to send, along with some matching stationary for the annual Christmas update letter.  I had a little glitch in that I cannot open my computer files with last year's Christmas card list, so part of this evening was spent creating a new one.  I found the list changed as Life has put new friends in my path these last few years. 

Christmas cards encompass what the season is about--thinking of others and reaching out to those we care about.  My list is comprised of family, school friends, church families, college roommates, former co-workers, and local friends.  Each of them has played a role in Life's chapters and each of them is important. They all mean so much to me. 

Little gifts from the heart, they are.  The best kinds of gifts.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How I Avoid the Winter Blues

Ah, the holiday season.  It is that time of year when some people are immersed in baking, decorating, pageants, and shopping.  And others feel overwhelmed by all that the holidays bring.  I have never been a "holiday depression" type of person, but when I was juggling a demanding full-time job and the obligations of the season, sometimes I would forget to focus on why we celebrate in the first place.

Since my life has changed so much in the last 3 years, there are other factors that have the potential to bring the blues, if I let them.  I'm away from my extended family, it rains a lot during this time of year, and it gets dark quite early.
So these are things that I do to make sure that the winter blues don't creep in.  I think they work great. (Of course, we don't have children, who bring in a whole other level of "busy.")  =)

There is a difference between "counting your blessings," and enjoying your blessings.  To me, counting your blessings feels like a fleeting activity--one that is over before it begins and has very little effect on my mood.  The real trick is to enjoy your blessings.  Keep them in your mind to the point where you can easily tap into that fount of gratitude anytime.  First things that come to my mind?  My husband, family and friends, home, my Heavenly Father, pets, books, art and music.  See? I feel better already!

I am a planner.  I like calendars and lists almost to a fault.  I like knowing that, even if today doesn't have anything going on, it doesn't matter, because other things are right around the corner.  Whether the plans are large, medium, or small, knowing that something is going to happen always helps me.  For instance, I know that I am going out tomorrow, that Sunday is church, that next week we are decorating for Christmas and have plans to see the new Lincoln movie, that there is a Festival of the Nativities coming up next weekend, and in a few weeks I'm traveling to CA to see my family for Christmas.  Even something small is helpful, like going for a mani-pedi or planning the dinners I'm going to cook for that week. 

Because I like to know what is coming up, it helps me decide how to use my time on the days when there aren't plans.  Should I use that day to relax and rejuvenate for something big?  Should I work on my lesson for church that day?  Should I go grocery shopping or give a certain room a deep cleaning?  (I much prefer this kind of weather than Spring for that kind of cleaning.  When the weather warms up I just want to be outside!)  Is this the day I'm going to vacuum or wash the linens?  I am someone who craves order and I do function a lot better in a clean house.  Frankly, I find a dirty house more depressing that yucky winter weather.  But that is just me.  I'm not obsessive, but I can always find something to do around the house that makes me feel productive. 

I have always been someone who has a great desire to create a cozy atmosphere at home.  It is, after all, the place where we spend most of our time.  From my first apartment, to my house in California, to the house I share with my husband in Washington, there are things I do in every place I live. 
  • Keep it clean and orderly.  This does not mean making it a museum.  It just means avoiding clutter.  A place for everything and everything in its place, or into the trash it goes. It also means staying on top of things like laundry, keeping beds made, floors vacuumed, and the kitchen and bathrooms clean. Yes, it requires work, but it is about maintenance, which makes it so much easier.  I actually enjoy cleaning, and the rewards are far greater than the work involved.
  • Fill your house will savory scents.  Living in the Pacific Northwest brought some changes that I wasn't used to.  For instance, in California I always left windows and doors open to let in fresh air.  When the temperature is 40 degrees and rainy, like it is right now, I can't do that.  So I do other things.  I fill my house with the scents of a cozy home.  There are cinnamon pine cones in the living room, a pumpkin spice candle burning in the kitchen, the smells of a home-cooked meal, and a gingerbread spice Scentsy bar burning in the family room downstairs.  I have also been introduced recently to essential oils, which are wonderful. Right now I only use them for sleep, since I'm still a beginner.
  • Another thing I do is play music throughout the house.  Like the power of certain aromas, the things we listen to have great effects on our moods.  We have a set of speakers in our kitchen that get used every day.  Sometimes they are hooked up to the Pandora app on the iPad, sometimes to an MP3 player, but there is usually music going on in the background at our house, especially at dinnertime. 

Thanks to the digital age, those we love are only a phone call or a text away.  Facebook is great for that too.  But there is also the lost art of letter writing, which I do with my grandma.  She began writing to me on a regular basis in 1989 when I went away to college, and we have continued that tradition since then.  Letters from my grandma are what I most look forward to in the mail, and answering them brings me great joy..  And, even though my mom and I can have some marathon phone calls, we also like to email.  I like being able to write when it is convenient, to be able to craft my words carefully, and to send and receive photos.  Sometimes we don't write for a while, and other times we will start an email conversation that goes back and forth for days at a time.  When she is babysitting my nephew and niece, we will also do FaceTime, which is loads of fun when talking with the little ones.  It makes the miles between us melt away. Who do you know that would love to receive a letter?

I look for those rare pockets of sunshine and dry weather right now to take my dog outside and get in a good, long walk.  But since those are few and far between, this is also the perfect time of year to dive into a challenging book. I spent evenings last December curled up with Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  Wow, what a story--and all true.  And there was the added bonus of sitting in the living room amongst all of the holiday decorations while I was reading.  There is also the fun of puzzles and games, either alone or in a group of friends.

When all else fails, there is one, surefire way to feel better, and that is to serve our fellow man.  This can involve anything from taking cookies or bread to someone in need of some company, to volunteering at a soup kitchen or visiting people in the hospital.  It is true that Charity Never Faileth.  Time spent serving someone else is never time wasted.  There is always someone out there who feels worse than you do, and who can benefit from a visit or an uplifting word.  You may have gifts and a light inside of you that you are completely unaware of until you share it with another person.

All of these things are easy, inexpensive, and right at our fingertips.  They are possible in a home filled with people, a couple, or a single person--I know this from personal experience.  The thing to remember is that the holiday season is the season of joy, love, happiness, and remembering our Savior.  I encourage you to make the most of it, to remember why we celebrate, and to take advantage of those special moments with family and friends.  We live in a nation that affords us so much freedom and so many blessings.  Let's remember all that we have and keep our heart and minds bright and focused. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Slice of Gratitude

Tis the season of Gratitude, my friends.  I have so much to be thankful for that the list is very long.  Here are a few things that are on my mind today:

I'm always grateful for my husband.  Today we finally got to spend some quality time together as he's had a lot of work obligations lately.  I love living life with him.  It truly is the little things that create special moments.  We went grocery shopping together and had a lunch date.  We talked and laughed and later I cooked him dinner.  I love him dearly.

I'm grateful for my mom and the relationship I have with her.  Last night we talked on the phone for nearly 3 hours. We talked about Life's ups and downs, family, the holidays, plans she has for her house, the future and the past.  Before we knew it, it was 10:15 and our phone batteries were weary from use.

I'm grateful for the friends I have made since moving to Washington 2 years ago.  This morning I spent time with two of them and the time flew, as it usually does.  Their love and support means so much to me.  I can hardly remember my life before they were a part of it.  I have met some amazing people here.

I'm grateful for our house.  I love our house and I love making it into a home.  The rain poured and the wind blew all day long.  It was terrible weather to be outside today.  Our house is sturdy, cozy, and soundly built.  To be within its four walls is to feel the true meaning of a personal sanctuary.

I am grateful for music, and the feelings it brings.  Lately I've been listening to a lot of Celtic music and classical music.  Mozart is my favorite.  There is a sense of order to his melodies that gives me focus.  The Celtic music is wistful and creates a feeling of lovely longing.

As I said, this is a small list, people and things I've been in direct contact with these last couple of days.  I am determined to think about these and other things I am thankful for as the holiday season approaches. It is part of my effort not to become distracted by the temporal and unimportant.

What are you grateful for?  Ponder that as you listen to the beautiful song below.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shout Out to My Husband

The other day there was a theme on Facebook.  It seemed to be "Complain About Your Husband" day.  My hubby had just come home from a long, tough day at work.  I looked over at him with love and knew that I needed to add a post to combat the attitude I had just seen.

So, my darling, this is for you.

This is just a small list of things that I love about him:

  • He tells me he loves me every single day.
  • He makes me feel beautiful, even when I don't feel beautiful.
  • He makes me laugh at things I normally wouldn't think are funny.
  • His incredibly quick wit.
  • He loves me unconditionally.
  • His work ethic.  I've never seen anyone with a work ethic like his.  It is inspiring.
  • The way I always feel protected when I'm with him.
  • His beautiful singing voice.  When he sings and plays the guitar for me, it's even better.
  • The way he randomly shows up with flowers. 
  • His attentiveness.  He has made an effort to get to know the real me, my likes and dislikes.
  • His spirituality and humility. 
  • His ability to remain calm in a crisis.  
  • His highly developed sense of fairness.
  • The way he always thanks me--for marrying him, for the things I do around the house, etc.  He makes me feel appreciated.
  • His generosity.  Towards me and towards others. 
  • He is a GREAT shopping partner.  While other husbands are sitting, bored, in a chair, mine is actually picking out clothes for me to try on.  
  • The way he has accepted my many pets. 
  • The way he can come home from a terrible day, leave it all behind, and laugh and have fun with me.  
  • The way he understands how important my family is to me.
  • His commitment and desire for us to have a successful marriage.
How could I snicker at some of those posts that were supposed to be funny, jabbing at mens' intelligence and ineptness, when sitting next to me was someone who I love and respect so much?  I couldn't. There are plenty of funny things that happen within a marriage, but I think they are the things you should be laughing at together.

I am incredibly grateful to all my husband has done for me and for us.  He is my partner in every way.  Thank you, my love.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Time Out for Women--Amazing!

Is there anything like the unique energy a group of people creates when they are unified?  Especially women.  There is something so special about women getting together and working towards a common goal, whether it is service-oriented or striving towards self-improvement.

Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Time Out for Women conference in Portland, OR, and got to experience that energy first hand.  This is an event that has been going on for 10 years, with annual national tours. I only heard about it in May, and it sounded like such a great thing that I knew I had to go.  After organizing a group of 3 other ladies from church, we decided to make a weekend of it, complete with hotel rooms, restaurants, and train rides.  We had such fun!

Although it is presented by the LDS church, it is really for anyone.  It was a two-day event, Friday evening and Saturday throughout the day, with motivational speakers and musicians.  It was never boring, and, although it was attended by 3500 women, there was a great feeling of sisterhood in the room.  Yes, 3500 women all together in the same room at the same time. 

I think that one of the reasons why the event was so successful was because of this year's theme:  SEEK THE GOOD.  We were all there seeking goodness--in the speakers, in the friends we were sharing the experience with, and in our lives as we listened to the words and music that was offered.

We heard inspirational words about forgiveness from Virginia Pierce, beautiful violin music from Jenny Oaks Baker, and were reminded of the value of womanhood by Sheri Dew (an absolute force of nature, this woman) on Friday evening.

Saturday, from 9am until nearly 4pm, we heard from the beloved Mary Ellen Edmunds, DeAnn Flynn, Wendy Ulrich, John Hilton III, Laurel Christensen, and musical guest Hilary Weeks.

If I had to pick my favorites, I would have to say that all of Friday evening was absolutely incredible.  (I was so jazzed and stimulated that I'd be surprised if I got 3 hours of sleep that night.) I have two favorite speakers from Saturday.  One was John Hilton, a young religion teacher at BYU who spoke very eloquently on prioritizing our time and on applying scriptural questions to our lives, mainly these:
  1. How is it that ye have forgotten?
  2. Knowest thou the condescension of God?
  3. Have ye inquired of the Lord?
  4. Why should my heart weep?
  5. What shall I do?
All of these are questions that appear repeatedly, and all of them tap into our normal human flaws.  We easily forget what we have learned.  Or, we don't want to remember.  We often look for answers in worldly ways, when we should have inquired of the Lord.   And, although the answers are usually right before us when we ask "what shall I do?" doesn't it seem like sometimes we explore all of the wrong options before arriving at the right one?

My other favorite speaker on Saturday was a young woman (I say young because she is one year younger than me) named Laurel Christensen.  I liked her immediately, not only because of her message, which was on "waiting," but because I could identify with her in many ways.  She is 40 and unmarried, yet is still striving (and succeeding!) to keep her sense of self in a church that emphasizes marriage and children.  And, even though I am married, that chapter of my life when I was a single adult is not very far behind.

After very little sleep on Friday night, and a very full and stimulating Saturday, my little group of ladies and I arrived home tired, but very happy and fulfilled.  I also arrived home feeling quite grateful--grateful that such a wonderful event exists and ready to apply the uplifting messages that I'd heard.

All in all, I had a fantastic weekend that was all about Seeking the Good.  I have so many thoughts on that phrase.  Maybe in another post.  Until then, I challenge anyone reading this to seek the good in your own life.

*If you are interested in learning more about Time Out for Women, you can visit their website HERE and sign up for their newsletter.  The 2012 tour has ended, but locations and dates have already been set for 2013.  Any woman of any faith would benefit from this experience.  

A picture of my TOFW journal, which I nearly filled with notes, thoughts, and memories.  And to the left, next year's tour schedule, not available yet on the website. Click the pic to see it full-sized.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Autumn's Majesty, Pt. II

We had another sunny day today, and I was drawn to the reflections on the lake's surface.  Once again I ventured out with my camera.  It was later in the day, close to sunset.  Shadows and silhouettes were everywhere.  Here are today's best photos.  Click on them to see the full-sized versions:


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autumn's Majesty

Today was the day...that ideal day when fall colors, stormy clouds, and a sun-filled sky all blend together flawlessly.

After a busy morning, I took my dog and my camera out in the mid afternoon.  The sun was bright and peeked through the trees, illuminating their bright colors with heavenly radiance.

I took a total of 180 photos.  These are the 12 best of the day.  Click to see them full-sized and feel free to use them as your desktop wallpaper.

I love the shadows and placement of the sun.

Facing southwest, everything came together.

Lion's Island to the left.  Almost no editing was necessary with this photo.

One of my favorite things to do is find vertical lines within the composition. The trees and church steeple helped me accomplish that here.

I love layers: sky, colorful trees, reflective water, the semicircle of leaf-mottled grass.

More layers and a clear horizontal composition, with the exception of the fountain.

One of my favorites. I love the way the lampposts and flag pole cut through the photo.

One of the day's best.

This guy let me follow him around for quite a while. I think he enjoyed being the center of attention.

Standing on one of the bridges, I was able to capture the reflecting colors and a dramatic cloud in the sky.

We love living so close to the town's lake. Nature put on a terrific show today. Several people were there with their cameras.

After an hour, the sun started to fade. This was one of the final shots. Reminding me of an Impressionist painting, I opted for a blurry effect.
I use a simple Sony Cyber-shot camera--12.1MP--to take my photos.  Then I use iPhoto to straighten, sharpen, and sometimes enhance the colors (very slightly.)  Today's photos needed very little enhancing.  The sky was very blue and the fall colors were very rich in the sun's glow.  Mother Nature was very cooperative. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tonight's Halloween Highlights

Tonight was Halloween!  This was our third in this neighborhood, a neighborhood known for getting MANY trick-or-treaters.

2010...around 600


2012...565--I have to admit, we were a little bit disappointed.

We had 800 pieces of candy at the ready, lights on, spooky music coming out of the speakers, and decorations.  The normal 7-8pm rush was a little slower this year.  And less big groups.

Here are some highlights:

Most Observant Kid:  "You have a No Soliciting sign...are we allowed to ask for candy?"  This kid was also dressed as a vending machine.

Most Frequent Lines:  "Your house is huge!"  (The skylights make it look bigger than it is from ground level.)  "Can I pet your dog?"

Cutest Little Kid Line:  "Have fun trick-or-treating!"  (???)

Most Annoying Kid:  The little girl whose mother was holding her bag, and who came up and started to take the piece of candy right out of my hand.  No "trick-or-treat," no "thank you," nothing.  

Yearly Hilarious Repeat:  When a kid looks through our mail slot.

Most Creative Candy Holder:  The girl who was dressed up as a UPS delivery person and was holding all of her candy in a UPS box.

Line We Never Actually Used as Kids, But They Do Now:  "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!"  Good grief...

Most Frequent Little Kid Costume:  Spiderman and Batman

Most Frequent Big Kid Costume:  Cheerleader and Scream

Best Parent Costume:  Sigfried (or Roy)...a dad was dressed like one of them and had a huge, stuffed white tiger around his shoulders.  

And, as usual, we used discretion about which kids got which candy.  Polite little kids got the good chocolate.  Teenagers with a sticker on their cheeks, or just wearing sweats and holding out a pillow case, got Laffy Taffy and Bottle Caps.

We believe that when you spend $100 on Halloween candy, you get to set up some rules. That's fair, right?

Once again, our neighbors across the street had their pre-Halloween night party.  There were yummy soups, meatballs, and appetizers.  It is also the one time per year that we see the former owners of our house and hear what they think of the changes we've made over the last 12 months.  Hubby had to work until 5pm, so I still made him dinner.  We ate in the dining room and took turns answering the door and taking a tally of how many kids came to our house.

So, even though our numbers were down, we still had a fun night.  And even though it takes weeks to prepare enough candy for the trick-or-treaters, I love that we get so many each year.

And now, on to the next holiday!  Turkey, anyone?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Excluded...We're All Included

There are few things that can cause hurt feelings more than feeling excluded.  Especially for women.  You go through the gamut of emotions and questions, "What did I do wrong?"  "Did I make that person angry?"  "Am I not good enough to be a part of that group?"  I know, it sounds so middle school, but these feelings exist well into adulthood.

I had the pleasure of going through this very recently.  Let me tell you, it isn't fun.  But you probably know that because it has happened to all of us.  And if it hasn't, it will.

Being relatively new to this state, this neighborhood, and this ward, I'm in the middle.  I've been here longer than a few people, but a lot of my friends have lived here most of their lives.  As a social being without many social outlets, being included and embraced has been very important to me.  And, for the most part, I have been.  Which made this particular incident all the more of an ouchie moment.

Like I said, it has happened to all of us, and it bites.  The thing is, what do you do next?

In the same way that loss has its steps of grief, so does being excluded.  See if these sound familiar:
1.  Confusion
2.  Hurt
3.  Anger
4.  Sour Grapes
5.  Retaliation
6.  Shame
7.  Common Sense
8.  Forgiveness
9.  Peace
10.  Moving On

Wow, that is a lot of steps.  I went through all of these last night between 11:30pm to 2:30am.  If I had been smarter and less sensitive, I probably could have moved through them quicker, but I think everything was heightened because of the late hour.  In retrospect I'm a little ashamed that I allowed myself to feel as hurt as I did (and believe me,  I was pretty hurt.)

At some point, between Steps 5&6, I went looking for something to put me at ease.  Hubby was already asleep with an early morning ahead.  I didn't want to disturb him.  So I went to the Church Website and, like a dope, typed in "hurt feelings" in the search window.  Scriptures, talks, and articles on Forgiveness came up.  What?  I didn't want to forgive, I wanted sympathy.

And then it clicked.  We never have control of external situations that happen to us, but we always have control of how we handle them internally.  This was my opportunity.  Either stay stuck in Hurtful Mode, or move past it to Healing Mode.

One article I read was called Finding Peace Through Forgiveness.  Another was called Of You It Is Required to Forgive.  Both of them gave me a lot to think about.  They made me feel that, although my hurt was real, it was also petty.  These articles were talking about forgiving people who had caused enormous, life changing events, like murderers.  Good grief, if someone could forgive something like that, then I could certainly forgive not being included in a little get-together.

The bottom line?  These things happen.  They stink, but they happen.  And not knowing someone's motives or knowing the whole story doesn't mean either of you did anything wrong.  The healthiest thing is to let it go.  You can have your pity party, but don't let it eat away at you.  For all I know, my exclusion may have been an innocent oversight.  It doesn't matter.  It's small, it's over, and I'm not going to let it affect any friendships.  I don't want to be that kind of person.

Steps 7-10.  Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Friend, Barbie

I am so proud of my friend, Barbie, who was profiled on her local Utah TV station.  We have been friends since we were at BYU--over 20 years ago--and sang together in a group in Salt Lake City.  She may be blind, but she is far from "disabled."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moments That Matter Most

"Strength comes not from frantic activity, but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light." Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This is one of several profound thoughts shared in this short, but powerful video.  Do we channel our energy into the things that matter most?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stephen Fry in America

For the past couple of days, Eric and I have been enjoying a 6-part documentary called Stephen Fry in America.  Most people in the US don't know who Stephen Fry is--their most recent exposure to him is as Sherlock Holmes' brother in the Robert Downey, Jr. movies--but in the UK he is quite famous as a comedian, actor, and writer.

We didn't quite know what to expect from a series whose host visits all 50 states, but it turned out to be very enjoyable.  It is interesting to see how a person from another country views America.

Fry does not go to the normal tourist traps and places you would expect him to visit.  Well, sometimes he does, but usually not.  For instance, Los Angeles, Disneyland, and San Diego make no appearances at all when he visits California.  But he does visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Some states get more air time than others.  Each 1 hour episode has a theme, such as "the True West," "the Mississippi," "the Deep South," or "the Pacific."  And, while his choices of what he focuses on and where he visits may seem odd, they are always fascinating.  Standing at nearly 6'5", Fry is an imposing figure, and his size alone can create comic results.  He also has a very open and inquisitive mind.  From Ted Turner at his ranch in Montana to the homeless in Detroit, he treats each person he meets as someone with a story worth sharing,

For the most part, this is a very G-rated series, with a few PG moments.  A few of his subjects are people who live on the fringe of society with either dark religious beliefs or questionable morals, but most of them are not.  No matter what their circumstances, everyone he visits with are proud to call themselves Americans.  Besides seeing some unforgettable scenery, the viewer is also reminded of the many qualities that create the tapestry of our nation.

(This series is available on Netflix Instant Streaming.)