Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Day at the Temple

Click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
Today at the Portland Temple, running a bit early, I circled around the building and took several pictures.  It is a beautiful edifice and wonderful subject.

Sun peeking through the trees is a favorite nuance of mine, so I immediately gravitated towards this photo when I saw them all on the computer screen hours later. After driving 60 miles through a persistent drizzle, the celestial orb finally made its appearance around 10am. I felt a quiet confirmation that I was spending my day as I should. Laundry and other housework could wait. When you go to the temple you are doing the Lord's work--much more important.

The sunshine generously continued during the drive home and a brisk afternoon walk. Dinner with my sweet husband was the perfect conclusion. I will say farewell to this day feeling blessed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Passion. Exhausting or Exhilarating?

Today I listened to a 19 year old young woman give a talk about embarking on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She has been called to Taipei, Taiwan and leaves in 17 days. After a few weeks learning the basics of a new language (spoken AND written) and about the missionary discussions she will be teaching, she'll be thrust into the most amazing adventure she's ever experienced.

But what I loved most about her talk today was her passion for everything she cares about--the Gospel, her family, her beliefs--everything. And I thought about how, at that young age when the world is open to you and anything seems possible, enthusiasm like that is so pure. It isn't until we're older and knocked around by Life a little that passion often makes way for cynicism.

It made me think of a line from the Cinderella adaption, Ever After, where the prince says to his future princess, "How can you live every day with such passion? Don't you find it exhausting?"

Passion (from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer) is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything.
Passion may be a friendly or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, discovery, or activity or love – to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject. (from Wikipedia)

Yes. Passion CAN be exhausting.

When I think of the definition of that word in terms of "intense emotion," I broaden that meaning to include being very sensitive to things, sensitive to how one treats another, sometimes caring to the point of distraction.

There are times I feel things so deeply that I need to have a little talk with myself. It isn't necessarily a flaw, it's just how I'm wired. Usually it is directed toward some injustice I've witnessed, a person who didn't get the credit he/she deserved, or empathy for a child or animal being mistreated.

I'm not saying these feelings are right or wrong, but they certainly present the person feeling that way with some choices. Step in--maybe where you don't belong--or take the route of indifference? Speaking from personal experience, the route of indifference usually leads to guilt because you can't  "un-feel" something once you've felt it. Changing how you feel about something or someone is usually a long process, but it isn't the same as erasing the emotion.

"Even as we seek to be meek and to avoid contention, we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values....'Loving-kindness' is required, but a follower of Christ--just like the Master--will be firm in the truth."   --Elder Dallin H. Oaks
As difficult as it may be sometimes, it's OK to stand up for Truth and for what you believe in. There's a right way and a wrong to say everything. And if you want someone to really hear you, choose the way of respect and kindness. Disagreement and contention will never happily coexist. But disagreement and respect will...and do.

And yes, Passion can also be very exhilarating!

Channeling energy towards personal betterment that benefits others too is a wonderful thing. I experienced this (accidentally) during my weight loss journey. While throwing myself passionately into exercising more and eating less--chronicling the odyssey on my other blog--suddenly I was getting calls, emails, and Facebook messages from people asking how I was losing weight. Even better, I had people telling me I inspired them. Me, just doing my thing to lose a few pounds, inspiring others. How awesome is that?

As I come full circle with these thoughts, thinking of the unblemished passion of youth, I believe the cynicism that often appears later is very much within our control. We need to have little interviews with ourselves and ask what we are putting out in the world--positivity or negativity?  The word "Positivity" is a little weird, isn't it? Do you think it is because we don't hear it enough? Or practice it enough?

Whatever you're doing, whether it is changing the world or changing the sheets on a bed, do it with POSITIVE passion. If we each do this from our own little patchwork square in the world we can make a quilt that covers a bigger area that we ever imagined.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My far!

Photo by PJ Taylor  
January, where did you go? How is it that we are already midway through the month? 

Our simple Christmas came and went without much fanfare. Eric worked on Christmas Eve and Day until 5pm and you know what? It was fine.  We had a very nice dinner on Christmas Eve: ham, stuffing, rolls, veggies, Martinelli's and PIE. 

Then we went downstairs where I had set up the small group of gifts from his parents and me and opened them, just the two of us. It was easy and intimate and perfectly OK that it was only us. Eric made it an early night because of work the next day. I played on the new iPad that "Santa" gave me. 

On Christmas morning I slept in for the first time in ages, dragging myself out of bed at (shock) 8:30am to quickly shower and dress and hustle over to some friends' house who had, generously, invited me over for Christmas breakfast. The food and company was very nice as we noshed on eggs, fruit, homemade rolls and cocoa for over an hour. By the time I left, at nearly 11am, I was sufficiently stuffed.

Arriving home I called my mom and wished her Merry Christmas. She, too, was by herself that day, so we had a lengthy chat until nearly 2pm. I spent the rest of the afternoon downstairs on the sectional, alternately reading/playing/streaming on the iPad. Eric arrived home, we had leftovers from the night before, and, suddenly, Christmas 2014 was at an end.

The New Year was much the same, except that this time, Eric was working graveyard. I was committed to staying up until midnight--not because I'm a celebratory person--but because we have 3 kitties (18, 5, 4 months) who wouldn't appreciate the neighborhood fireworks without a little soothing from me. I utilized the time by working on my Relief Society lesson for the following Sunday and was happy to have the time to focus. The next night I worked on the upcoming Relief Society newsletter. Two productive evenings, if I do say so!

The last couple of weeks have been about settling into the day to day, post holiday routine.  My real commitment right now is getting a grip on eating right again and counting calories. The last 3 days have been terrible! Tomorrow--Thursday--is usually "skip the gym" day, but I haven't earned it this week, so I'm going. We have our big cruise vacation coming up in just 2 months, so there is time to do what needs to be done. It's just a couple of pounds, no big deal, but I do not want to start lapsing back into bad habits.
Yes, this will be our cruise ship! Yee!
Speaking of our cruise, we bought our plane tickets yesterday, which makes it feel even more official! Thank goodness for air miles, because we got them for a steal. 

On a personal note, I think we all do our share of soul searching at the beginning of a new year. I'm not a big New Year's Resolution person, I never have been, but I do make an effort to be self aware.

So what do I want to do this year? I want to be better. I want to be better at recognizing my flaws and conquering them. We all have them. I want to get rid of some of them. A little internal housecleaning, if you will.

What do I want right now at 9:35pm? To sleep!  It's been a good day spending lots of quality time with Eric. Do you know what a blessing it is to be married to such a good person who wants to spend time with me? I'm grateful for him every day.

Good night, Friends.