Thursday, April 26, 2012

Surrounded by those I choose...

This morning I was contemplating my new life up here in WA State.  (Yes, it has been over a year, but I think it still qualifies as "new.")  While getting my car serviced the other day I found myself, yet again, defending my decision to move here to a complete stranger.

"How could you leave sunny southern CA,with all of its excitement, and move to THIS?!"  I was asked.

Yes, the "grass is always greener" philosophy is alive and well in this corner of the world.

But the truth, the grass IS always greener up here--literally--which is one of the many things I like about living in the Pacific Northwest.  And the things I was initially worried about, like being in a smaller town and being away from lots of cultural opportunities are non-issues now.  There is definitely something to be said for living in a smaller town.  People are a little nicer, the pace a little slower...all good things.  And even though there are no big cultural events in the town we live in, we live close enough to Portland where things are available.  All in all, not so bad.  And let's face it, I've seen a lot grosser areas in Los Angeles than I've seen here. 

Living in Los Angeles definitely has a few perks, and is, perhaps, a bit more exciting, but it isn't like living in a TV show.  Not everyone is all glossy and glamorous, holding their Louis Vuitton bags, and eating sushi and sipping Perrier.  A lot of people are tired from the constant rat-race (I used to be one of them) and wishing that they could live in a place where things move a little slower, too.

Bottom line...there are happy and fulfilled people in Southern CA and in our little town in Washington.

And there are unhappy and unfulfilled people in both places too.

I am choosing to be happy.  Yes, it is a choice.

Which leads me to the people in my life these days.  I feel very, very lucky in this respect, because for the first time in a long time, I have the option to only closely associate with people that I really want to be around.  (Thankfully, they like having me around too.)  I didn't have that option when I was working (few people do.)  Your colleagues are chosen by someone else and you pick your work friends from that pool of people. Yes, I had some wonderful colleagues.  And, yes, I also had some that I really could've done without.

I was thinking about this while reading an article on The Purpose Fairy site (fantastic blog) about things we have to do to be happy.  One of them was giving up the thought that you can control how people perceive you.  We've all been in situations where we know that someone doesn't like us, we don't understand why, and there isn't much we can do about, but it still bothers us.  Maybe we've even been singled out by that person.  I'm one of those people who it bothers a lot because, yes, I care what people think of me and it gnaws at me when I know I'm being thought of negatively and didn't do anything to deserve it.  Or at least, I THINK I didn't do anything to deserve it.

It brought me back to an incident that happened during my last year of teaching when one of my colleagues surprised me greatly by attacking my integrity out of the blue and not only turned against me, but took a little band of a few others with her.  Four people that I had great respect for as women and educators were suddenly giving me the cold shoulder, both in person and online.  I'm still bewildered at what happened and question what I did to warrant such treatment.  I lost sleep over it.  I remember filling out my wedding invitations at 3am because I needed a distraction.  Shame on me for giving them so much power.

And it wasn't so much that these women were key figures in my life, but it was the fact that someone didn't like me and I didn't know why.

But now I get it.  I finally, finally get it.  Something happened that I had no control over and it skewed their perception of me.  I wasn't a key figure in their lives anymore than they were in mine.  I was a colleague.  Friendship with me was expendable.  When it is a key figure you try a lot harder.  It's taken me almost 2 years to come realize this.

Which brings me full circle and makes me all the more grateful for those who are key figures.  My husband, my family, BYU friends, former colleagues that really know me and have a little more faith in me, and the friends I've made since moving to Washington. 

I'm surrounded by those I choose.  I choose some pretty great people.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Last night's Celtic Woman concert...

After donating to our local PBS station 4 months ago, Eric and I had the pleasure of enjoying our "gift" last night at the Celtic Woman concert in Portland.  What a treat!  I've seen them twice before, at the outdoor Greek Theater in CA, but I was excited to see their new show and in a different kind of venue.  They performed at the Keller Auditorium, which is about the size of the Pantages in Los Angeles, and I think I actually liked the indoor venue better!

The stage was smaller than the Greek, and the show was scaled down a bit (no big orchestra or choir aside from about 8 musicians and a 6 person choir,) but it felt more intimate.  And the fact that we were in the 7th row center helped a lot.  (I'll admit I was a *tiny* bit bummed because the Keller seating chart showed that we were in the 3rd row, and then saw that 4 makeshift rows has been constructed in the very, very front.  Still--no complaints--we had amazing seats!)

We had a quiet day leading up until we left for the concert.  Eric is still fighting some sort of poison ivy and me with my bronchitis...not the ideal situation for going out, but we made the best of it and had a really great time.  It was a beautiful day, which lended itself to a beautiful drive down to Portland.  And of course, seeing my handsome husband all dressed up was an extra treat for me.

I had purposefully not listened to the accompanying CD for this Celtic Woman show very much so that everything would sound very new and fresh.  This is their Believe show. (They create different shows for every tour.)

Below is a video of the opening song, which leads into a gorgeous show.  What I love about Celtic Woman is that the entire show is about beauty...beautiful voices, songs, costumes, and sets.  It is quality entertainment at its best!  (It certainly makes the "music" you see at the Grammys seem less and less credible.)  The fact that Eric had a great time was the icing on the cake.  It was a wonderful night!  If you ever have a chance to see them in person, go do it.  100% family friendly, too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Unplanned Adventure...

Recently Eric and I have been giving our computer room a makeover.  First it began by moving his desk to another wall.  Then it was getting rid of my old dresser that he was using for his work clothes and sweats. Next thing you know we were shopping for a new desk for him, then matching desks for us, then waiting for the hutch that he had ordered for his desk to arrive.

Let's stop at the hutch. 

The room had slowly been taking shape and as Eric worked very diligently to put all of this furniture together, when our progress took a detour.  The hutch we had ordered for him (I didn't want one) kept getting delayed.  He and I are alike in that when something is supposed to arrive on time and doesn't, we get a little irritated and start looking at other options.

Our option was (1) wait for the hutch to arrive in 1, 2, or possibly, 3 days late.  Or (2) to cancel the order altogether and find one in a store that we could pick up ourselves.

Despite being on my second week of a nasty bout of bronchitis, it was a beautiful day yesterday that couldn't be wasted.  So after locating a hutch online at a store in Hillsboro, Oregon and calling to confirm that it was physically there, we decided to go on a drive.

It turned into one of those wonderful adventures that no amount of planning can create.  We took back roads through Cornelius Pass to Portland.  The scenery was gorgeous, the weather was alternately sunny and wet.  The mottled sun through the mossy trees made for a lovely drive.  We joked and sang along with the radio (Eric changing all of the song lyrics to match the traffic situation and his excitement about finally getting his hutch.)  It was one of the most enjoyable drives I've ever had.

We arrived in Hillsboro, were in and out of the store with the hutch in about 10 minutes, turned around and arrived home about 3 hours after setting out. 

It was a little magical really.  All because of a hutch.
 Hutch, and no hutch.  Or as we call it, Starsky and Hutch.  (I'm Starsky.)

 The finished product.  What a difference compared to the way the room looked before.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My silly, silly husband...

I don't write about it much, but Eric is hilarious and keeps me in stitches daily.  I really should record more of the funny things he says because most people never see this side of him.

Example--yesterday the water bill came and he noticed that our water usage was slightly higher than it was at this time last year.

Scene:  The Kitchen

Eric: I'm sorry, Sweetie,  but it looks like you're going to have to cut back to showering only once every other day.

Me:  Really?  That kinda stinks.

Eric:  Well, YOU will!

I know.  Completely silly, but I love that we have silliness in our house on a daily basis.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A story to put a smile on your face...

Up here in Washington we've been enjoying some beautiful weather and I've been fighting a cold since returning home from California.  This morning I read my book club selection for about 4 hours until I finished it.  Wish You Well, by David Baldacci, is wonderful book that was hard to put down.  Great old-fashioned storytelling.

So, aside from those things, there isn't a whole lot to share here on the home-front.  Then I ran across a video that was so cute and inspiring, I knew I wanted to include it on my blog.

Meet Caine Monroy of East LA, California, an optimistic and enterprising 9 year old who began building a cardboard arcade in his dad's auto parts shop.  He had everything--tickets, prizes, game levels, security features--everything except customers who wanted to play.

I don't know if it is because this all takes place a few blocks from the first school I ever taught at, or because Caine reminds me of some of my students, but it put a smile on my face and I had to share this:  (the security feature with the "checkmark" is my favorite!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Home for Easter...

It's been a while, hasn't it?

My 2 weeks in California flew by pretty quickly.  It was great to spend a lot of time with my mom, my niece and nephew and friends from church.  We did have one tragedy during my stay when we learned that one of our former bishops, who was also a neighbor, passed away at only 69.

My mom, niece Angelique and nephew Xander.
She had this taken on her birthday last October

 Aside from that sad news, the trip was pretty good.  I attended my mom's book club (and even read the book, which I didn't really enjoy,) went to 2 FHEs including a fun potluck with yummy food, and saw extended family members at a party my mom hosted at her house. I also got to be with my niece at her toddler music class, which is loads of fun; take both kids to the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena, and take Xander to visit my cute grandma (his great-grandma.)

It has taken me over a year, but the weirdness of visiting what used to be called "home" and seeing the house I still own (and rent out) while staying as a guest at my mom's house across the street has finally dissipated.  Home really is where the heart is, and as I learn more and more about married life, and become closer with my new friends up here in Washington, this is feeling like home more and more. 

I would call Eric each day and we would talk for a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  He had to work long hours and extra days as I played in the sun, but this is the reason we felt like it would be a good time to visit my family.  When the 2 weeks were up, it felt wonderful to see him once again, to be back in our own house, and even doing chores didn't bother me. 

Unfortunately, 2 days after I returned home, I started sneezing and sniffling.  It came on so quickly that I thought it was allergies, but, alas, it was a full-blown cold.  The next 3 days were spent in bed, trying to keep up with the basics around the house, and trying to remember what it felt like to feel good.  When going up and down a small flight of stairs feels like climbing a mountain, that's when you know you are sick!

Yesterday I couldn't stand being stuck at home anymore and Eric had been hinting at a day trip as soon as I was feeling better.  We ended up driving to Vancouver (Washington, not Canada,) having lunch at Olive Garden, and doing some shopping at our nearest Trader Joe's and Best Buy.  I had checked out iPad accessories at the Best Buy in Pasadena, CA and was so, so disappointed in the store's recent changes.  It was a relief to see that the store in Vancouver was still delivering good service.

While at Best Buy, we bought a 2nd Roku player for our house. A Roku player allows you to stream Netflix programs through the TV, and I learned this week that the Mormon Channel (which broadcasts LDS General Conference) and BYU-TV were both available through the Roku.  I was so excited!  Our cable plan doesn't have BYU-TV, so I've always had to watch General Conference on my computer (which is a lot nicer now with an iMac.)  My old Roku player has provided us with a lot of entertainment upstairs, and now it was time to get one for the downstairs, family room TV.  

I finally feel like I'm "plugged in" to all of the Church broadcasts, which is great, and no extra monthly fee.  And, since I was traveling during Saturday's conference session and (she said, ashamed) playing "catch up" during Sunday's, I'm trying to watch the sessions now.  I really enjoyed Pres. Hallstrom's talk from Saturday morning--very powerful.  And I was sad to learn that Sis. Chieko Okazaki had passed away.  She was a gem.

Today Eric is at work and I've been trying not to overdo it too much as I continue to fight the remnants of that nasty cold.  The fact that it has been beautiful outside has made it easy to feel a little better.  Bailey and I took a walk by the lake, and dinner is in the over, filling the house with its yummy aroma.
 Yes, this is the lake at the end of our street.  This picture was not taken today, but the sky looked just like this!  The water was a bit muddier, though. 

Tomorrow, of course, is Easter Sunday, and I've looking forward to seeing my church family after not seeing them for 3 Sundays.  In the spirit of Easter, I'll close with this video, which reminds is that Easter is about celebrating the Savior's life and sacrifice, that we may all live eternally with Him: