Mar 23, 2014

It's Sunday! What are you wearing?

We're redoing our kitchen and I was busy sorting through papers while standing at the kitchen table when a knock came at the door. Scott was going home teaching so I already knew it was his partner, both men still in their Sunday best. I talked to our neighbor, found a photo of his daughter, handed it to him, and he and Scott walked out the door. I finished that pile and began making rolls. Halfway through adding flour it suddenly occurred to me to check to make sure I was wearing pants. For split second, I panicked before I affirmed that I was, indeed wearing pants.

 It's Sunday. It's not like I'm going anywhere or anything. I can take off my pants.

 This is a particularly relevant thought process after my incident this morning. Scott had already taken the kids to church and I figured I should put on clothes to go to church. I knew I bought a blouse and a belt yesterday and it was still in the car in the garage. In my underwear, I found that the garage door was open. It was a judgment based on probability and statistics. 85% of my neighborhood go to church at the same time. It was a couple of minutes after the hour meaning that possibly 10% were running late. My street is laden with punctual people. There was a >1% chance anybody would drive past my house and see my underwear clad body dashing out to the car in the garage.

 Then there is Murphy's Law. A pedestrian walking down the street, trailing a toddler. I still may have gotten away with it if I hadn't let out an expletive.

 Hence, today I am wearing pants

Mar 4, 2014

Happy Anniversary Now Get Out of Here

Friday was our 22nd wedding anniversary. 22 years ago we dreamed of rainbows and unicorns, making babies, making a home, and being in love forever.

Yeah. You know how that goes.

This year we spent our anniversary in ICU.

Alyssa, almost 19 years old, wants to go on a mission but kept having episodes with her heart picking up an extra beat and short circuiting. A couple of weeks ago she was having an episode that wouldn't quit so she drove herself to the emergency room. The medical team was able to hook her up and catch about 30 seconds of it before it slowed back to normal and the cardiologist on call determined she had an extra biological pacemaker in her heart. The way to stop the episodes is to kill a little piece of her heart by threading some tubes through her vein via her groin area then zap it.

The procedure was successful and quick. The part of the heart was between two chambers so it was hiding. Once the tubes were in her heart, they stimulated an episode and found the problem area, zapped it, then tried for 30 minutes more to stimulate another episode. Her regular heartbeat ensued. We followed her upstairs to ICU where she was just gaining consciousness and complaining that her heart hurt. Then we were told to wait while they pulled out the sheaths from her groin. I can't type that last sentence without feeling a little grossed out and light headed. They were direct veins that went to her heart which is where I get grossed out. They had to push down hard so she wouldn't bleed for the first few minutes while the blood clotted and the healing began. She was instructed that she couldn't move for 4-6 hours. At all. So she freaked out.

Just to clarify, Alyssa is a golden child. She really is. Thoughtful, kind, easy-going. She has a touch of OCD like most of the population but it kicks into high gear when she is coming out of anesthesia. We'd forgotten about her obsessiveness after getting her wisdom teeth pulled. She got mean and scary. This time around, she got mean and scary but there were more people involved. She yelled at the nurses because she couldn't put on her clothes. They told her before that she could put on her clothes but now she couldn't. When we arrived and she was yelling at everybody, we tried to placate her. She yelled at Scott and I to Get. Out. Now.  In her mean and scary voice.

Banished, we stood in the hall, looked at each other and cracked up. It was the Wisdom Teeth Episode all over again. We tried, over the next hour and a half to go and sit with her. She used her mean, scary voice and told us to GET OUT OF HERE. NOW. RIGHT NOW. GET. OUT. Unfortunately, she said the same thing to her nurse. She refused food. She refused water. She refused to use a bed pan. She wanted her underwear.

Finally, she accepted my company and, in tears, admitted she had a horrible headache. She knew she had been mean but couldn't seem to stop herself. She took a little Percocet, ate a little food, drank a tiny bit of water and apologized to her nurse. They became best friends. She let the nurse take her to the bathroom. She let her nurse take her for a walk. She let her nurse check her healing holes.

Eventually I went home and was relieved that Scott accepted my company. There were no rainbows or unicorns. There was no hanky panky. There were simply two exhausted parents that flopped into bed. Together.

Which is the best way to handle a day like this.

Feb 21, 2014

I Hate Pants

I wrote this on my Facebook page:
Makayla just wandered upstairs and found me reading on the sofa, pants discarded, as usual. She laughed at me. I laughed at her. Then I realized that Makayla Jensen is not my daughter. Go home, Makayla! I'm not putting my pants back on just because you are here!
 There are now two camps. People who agree with me and people who have absolutely no idea why anybody would discard pants upon entering home.

Fortunately, I've found that I'm not in a camp all by myself. I found an article of 10 Reasons Why I Hate Pants:

Best summed up by this Venn Diagram sent by Scott's cousin:

Feb 20, 2014

Being Too Honest

We're getting our kitchen redone and have finally reached the stage of final plans. A couple of days ago, the cabinet guy came over for final measurements. I greeted him, let him in and walked out the back door, grabbed a shovel and dug up worms in the side garden with the chickens. We found some huge, juicy ones. I'd had a hard day at work. It relaxes me.

I returned to my house and commented that working with natural elements like wood and granite must be so grounding to him. Mike, the cabinet guy agreed. Then he added, "Except for working with the wackos, it really is great. By the way, what were you doing out there?"


Mike, the cabinet guy dropped the final plans off about an hour ago. I couldn't answer the door because I didn't have on pants. Pants are not necessary nor are they even preferred when at home alone. I only knew it was Mike, the Cabinet Guy, because I peeked out the window as he drove away. I grabbed the plans and looked them over. Besides the size of the island, it looks great so I called to tell him so. The problem is that I forgot to install my filter.

"Hey, Mike, the Cabinet Guy. I got the plans. It looks great except for the island needs to be 72" instead of 60". Sorry I didn't answer the door but I didn't have on pants. Give me a call. Thanks."

He hasn't called back. I think he'll call Scott on his cell.

Feb 12, 2014

Our Defiencies.

I was out to lunch with my dance friends on Saturday and the conversation turned to our daily difficulties. One woman claimed she struggles with spelling. Horrifically, she mentioned. Another also struggles with spelling but doesn't know it. I know because she published a book on Amazon and I bought it.

One can't write.

Another hates to read.

I struggle with time and space, I announced. They looked at me like I'd just teleported from another galaxy. "Like Star Trek?"

No, like I can't judge space like a normal person. I'll be trying to find a parking spot and find the teensiest one and attempt to park the car. Scott will tell me "You won't fit, you won't fit," and I will pay him no mind. Of course I'll fit. I can park the car in the smallest of spaces after much back and forth and then announce, "Yep. It's too small." He just rolls his eyes.

One day a woman waited for me in her car outside of Target until I returned from my shopping and claimed my van. She approached my window and berated my parking, explaining how my poor parking makes it difficult for others to park or pull out. She was speaking to me as if I had control over this aspect. I do not.

Then there's the issue of time. I can tell time, I simply can't judge time. I will always be late. I believe I can do just one more thing. That morning, for instance, I had finished my shower and realized the bathtub floor was a little slippery. I took my used towel and rubbed it all over the tub and the sides. Since I'd already used the towel for cleaning, I went ahead and got out the cleaner and sprayed the counter and the outside of the toilet, then wiped them all down with the towel. I stepped out of the bathroom and stumbled on a basket full of clean laundry. They were mostly towels and since I'd just used my own for cleaning, I could easily fold the towels, take one for myself and put the rest away. But that's when I heard the scream.

I'd misjudged time and my teenage boy had come home from his basketball game and wandered down the hall. I forgot to mention that I was still naked.

And I suffer from the good sense to close the door.

Feb 10, 2014

Grit and Grizzlies

All I was doing was looking for an image of my great, great, grandmother. What I found was a newspaper article about her father and the demise of a certain grizzly bear that did not want to go down quietly.

William Dees, my ancestor, was the first school teacher in a little community in southern Idaho. He and 11 other families settled the area, greatly offending the Shoshone Indian tribe. They were recorded as being "fierce" and "a menace." In fact, the entire settlement spent all summer someplace else, returning only to harvest their crops. Eventually, they did return to their community for good, only to continue struggling with their crops.

Just to be clear about what these homes consisted of, they were dugouts. Little more than mud, dirt and grass. Home, sweet, home.

Additionally, the settlement struggled with wild animals wandering into their corrals and killing their animals. While I sometimes worry about the stray raccoon or hawk stealing away my chickens, or possibly a coyote that lives in the gully, these pioneer settlers had coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.

I can, in no way, match the commentary of this grueling scene as the author of this newspaper article, published in 1863. Please note (aside from the mispellings) the personifications of the bear; being indignant and resentful.

AFFAIRS IN UTAH; Fatal Adventures with Grizzly Bears 
Correspondence of the New-York Times. 
Published: October 3, 1863 
SALT LAKE CITY, Thursday, Sept. 10, 1863. 

The grizzleys have been very active of late in some parts of the Territory, and especially in Cache Valley. The drouth having made their mountain provender scanty, they, impelled by hunger, descend into the cultivated fields in the valleys. I noticed, last week, the accidental death of JOHN HILL, of Wellsville, formerly of this city, who went out with another to catch a depredating grizzly, but in the moonlight was riddled by seven balls from another hunting party, who mistook him for a bear. A few days ago another bruin rencontre occurred in that county, and resulted fatally, not only to his bearship, but to one of his hunters. I briefly state the particulars: Mr. IRA RICE, of Providence, set a trap to stop the depredations of a bear in an adjacent cornfield. The animal found the trap, but, being indignant, walked away with it, having put his foot in it. Mr. RICE and some companions tracked the depredator to his lair on Logan River. War was immediately opened on him, which he resented, turning upon his enemies. He came into collision with WILLIAM DEES, spread the man with a sore head upon the earth, and then retreated, carrying back four or five shots safely lodged in his hide. The men then retired in as good order as possible. The war was renewed the next day by more than a dozen men with shot-guns and revolvers. Bruin was found on the field all ready, and he made good fight, one of his enemies soon making strategic movements toward the tops of the timber adjacent. Two ran, but they were too slow for the bear. They turned, one on each side to let him pass, ALPHEUS HARMON pulling the trigger at him, but no fire. Bruin closed in and gave HARMON more fight than he wished. Another combatant attempted to put some lead in the beat's ear. Another miss-fire. Still another, HENRY GATES, came up and gave the beast a dose of buckshot in the mouth, knocking out several teeth. In return, the beast attacked GATES and tore his legs, arms and face frightfully. Others of the company came up, and three or four revolver-shots were given to the bear, who did not mind them much, WILLIAM DEES, wounded the day before, hidden above in a tall tree, then jumped astride of Bruin, and presenting his gun to the tenacious creature's head, ended the conflict. GATES died of his wounds in six days. HARMON is recovering. Brave, but rather inexperienced hunters. 

Grizzly is not an enemy to be trifled with, nor to be attacked and fought carelessly. 

Life lessons to be learned by my ancestor:
  •  No matter what happened yesterday, get up the next day and conquere what needs to be done.
  • When confronted with an insurmountable problem that can not be solved in the usual manner, find a way to get a different perspective and attack it from an unconventional angle; like above.
  • Newspaper articles were a lot more fun to read in the days of yore.
  • Grizzlies are not to be trifled with, nor to be attacked and fought carelessly.

Jan 17, 2014

What I'm Thinking

I know I'm being actively quiet. I've written post after post about my life right now but didn't publish them because it just didn't feel quite right. I'm hoping by the time I'm finished writing THIS post, I can click "Publish."

I'm going through a refining process right now. I'm learning lessons I really need to learn in an environment that is painful yet not mortally wounding. I'm in a situation where the rules keep changing, the players don't follow conventional rules, and it's not fair. I could go into the details so you could know how crazy the situation really is, but it's a moot point. I don't believe the point to my refining process is to BE right. Peripherally, I think I need to truly believe in myself and in my rightness, based on the particulars, but the details of what I'm learning are still a little fuzzy because I'm in the middle of it right now.

Here's what I've gained so far:
  • My self-worth is not based on others' opinion of me. 
  • I am a mother and wife first. My work life is not allowed to dominate my personal time. No matter how much pressure others put on me. My belief and action in this fact must be internalized and stand up to all the criticism and bullying that can be thrown at me.
  • I have given power to others' by caring about their opinion. 
  • No matter what I do or how much I give, I will never gain acceptance or gratitude. 9 days ago, I stopped trying. After years of pain in my upper back and shoulders, I feel great.
  • I have been a slave to fear for far too long. Like Timothy from the New Testament says, God is not the author of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind.
In the same vein but said with a smirk:
  • Never, ever back someone into a corner, believing your reality, agreed upon by those around you does not make you safe. There is a possibility that the person you are bullying relentlessly and shamelessly will realize she has nothing to lose and put things into motion on a much higher level.
  • Much, much higher level.
  • Study the labor laws. All the articles published on the web give you a sense of hopelessness. Labor laws can be used in subtle conversation when discussing the situation with people who matter.
  • And care about public image and relations.
  • And recognize the ramifications of the situation. 
I am no longer afraid of causing a stir or problem at work. I no longer care that I've gone farther over heads than I have ever been comfortable going. There is a possibility I've started a storm that I do not control the outcome of others' careers. They will hate me. They will resent me. They will be angry and upset.

But that's been my reality ever since I, apologetically, announced that, due to my husband's brain surgery, I could really and truly only work part-time like I was being paid to do. I lacked conviction in my approach. They got mad at me. My supervisors didn't support me. In fact, they passive-aggressively supported my colleagues.

I'm burning bridges. I'm making enemies. But, like I said, what do I have to lose anymore? But I'm standing up, alone. I don't mind it. My heart is not full of revenge or hatred. It's full of respect and love for myself.

I think that might be the greatest gift of all.

Dec 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

The best strategy is to include a photo of the Taylor Clan right here, like one I might send out for Christmas cards. But that would be operating under the assumption that I had Christmas cards made this year. Or that I actually organized a photo shoot. Which I did, by the way. It was last night. We missed it. One of the Taylor Clan is in San Francisco at the BYU Bowl game. She left Christmas day in the early evening to be a part of the festivities. I believe this is her first opportunity to see San Francisco. I hope she's having a blast. Marching band has been a great segue for her to see other cities and parts of the country.

I met up with my children's jr. high counselor at Wal-Mart a couple of days before Christmas. He's a young father and was herding cats three small children. I caught him up on what the kids are doing. I got to Alyssa and told him she'd be leaving on Christmas to be a part of the college band in San Francisco. He thought that was abominable and told me I still had the power to tell she couldn't go. If it wasn't so condescending, I would have reached out and patted his head affectionately. I might have even encouraged him to hang on to his youthful ideals of parenthood. Not to mention, I think it's a fantastic opportunity for her.

In The Polar Express, Santa announces that the first gift of Christmas will be chosen by the protagonist. He chooses Santa's bell. It's a sweet sentiment and embodies childhood. At our house, 13 year old Jacob handed 8 year old Jaxon the first gift of Christmas. Jaxon tore it open with gusto and, before we could all see what it contained, he yelled, "Great! A Jacob Wacker!" It was a big Nerf gun but his response is the true embodiment of childhood.

The kids also got a lesson on compound interest as I presented our oldest daughter with a statement from an investment company. I invested a little bit of money when when she was a babe in my arms (literally, I was holding her while I was filling out the paperwork). The intent was that it was for college. My parents then opened a 529 plan for all of the grandchildren which grew to equal the matured investment I made plus Alyssa got scholarships. I still wanted to use the money for college since scholarships and the 529 is nearly depleted after her first year but I decided to relinquish it for her choosing. She is bound and determined to serve the Lord and go on an LDS mission. The cost for preparation; clothes, books, and whatnot is a mystery but the cost of the 18 months she will be out in the mission field is $7,400. The account is currently only $300 short of that.

Sleds were included under the tree and Scott promptly took them to well known sledding hill. It's quite cold and the snow has melted some then refrozen into ice sheets. 16 year old Samantha took her first turn down the hill. It was an ideal run - fast, straight, hair streaming behind her. All would have been perfect except her stop which entailed splatting into a shed at the bottom of the hill. Who puts a shed at the bottom of a perfectly good sledding hill? Scott watched to see if she'd get up. She didn't. He ran down the hill, fell on his recently surgically repaired shoulder, and picked her up. Nice sprained knee that sacrificed in lieu of her noggin.

Last on the agenda was cousin time with Grandma and Grandpa. Noise, running, and sugar highs, along with Samantha's recounting of her harrowing brush with the shed.

If you are waiting for my Christmas card, please expect it some time before June. I will have family pictures by then for certain. That is the estimated time that Alyssa will be leaving us for 18 months. For the record, I am not completely okay with her being gone for 18 months. On the other hand, it's a lot like her band trips. I miss her but she is having fantastic opportunity and I could certainly use the blessings of having a missionary out. Just so she doesn't make leaving for extended periods of time a habit.

Dec 16, 2013

Christmas Gifts

I'm ruining the surprise right now. For Christmas this year, I am giving my husband the gift of a clean house. One might muse that perhaps I should be giving that gift every day of the year. That is a partial plan. But the truth is that the only day we really get to clean is on Saturdays. Saturdays have so many other things to do on them like basketball games, football games, Costco and grocery store trips, etc., etc. When we take a weekend trip to the cabin or someplace else, the house cleaning is skipped for that week.

My dad told me that he never saw his mother clean the house. She just kept it clean. She always had a clean house when I went to her home. I've also heard if you clean as you go, you don't have to clean so hard. I just cleaned as I walked from the front door to the kitchen sink. I took a detour to the living room and picked up three pillows, one blanket, hung up two backpacks in the entryway then continued eastward. I stopped to snatch up one quarter, a Q-tip, five pieces of paper, a pencil, and another Q-tip. I then grabbed some garbage of the counter and threw it away.

Just so you know, I ignored a lot of stuff on my way.

So I called a house cleaning service. They are coming on Monday.

One might suppose that having a house cleaning service come is a gift to me. You might be partially correct but only in assuaging my guilt. Scott has wanted a service for years. Hence, it will be ongoing.

Good thing I picked up the quarter on my way to the kitchen sink.

I am also giving each member of my family a ticket to see a musical group called Vocal Point. Feel like you want to smile? They are not using any instruments but their voices: Here's a teaser:

Dec 12, 2013

Willing to Take a Detour

It's really cold. My Mormon Assault Vehicle (minivan) has had to have the battery jumped five times in the past two weeks. This morning was another of those mornings. It was running when Scott was ready to take Jaxon to school. He went to start his own car again and it wouldn't turn over. He took Jaxon to school in my MAV. He returned to find the battery cables on his car were loose from jumping my car so often. We were both running late for work because of the battery issues. Got an email from a colleague. His house is flooded. Took time to text him back. Finally left for work. I was already 8 minutes late.

My work is two miles from my house, almost a straight shot from home. I pulled over as a police car passed me. Then another. Then a fire truck with lights blazing. Then another. Called Scott to make sure he was okay. He hadn't seen anything but hoped it wasn't at the elementary school. I flipped around and retraced my path. I was overtaken by two more fire trucks. I honestly didn't think the little town had that many fire trucks. The emergency vehicles were at the grade school. I pulled into the parking lot. School had just started so parents had dropped off their kids and gone home. All of the kids were outside in the cold with their classes. The principal walked out just then and announced that there was a fire on the stage. The children would be evacuated off school grounds to a church across the street. I caught sight of Jaxon. He happily waved at me. We joined hands and I called out to his teacher that I was checking Jaxon out for the day. We drove to the intersection where I would choose to go left and home or right and work. 1200 children were crossing the street on the right. I couldn't turn right. I turned left.

I don't know how bad the fire is. The children are safe. They are probably cold but they are safe. But I am grateful that I have a bum battery that made me late today. That I called my husband who wisely mentioned the grade school. That I had the courage to be later and turn around. That I found my son, happy and safe. That the professional educators were calm and kept the children safe.

The school just called while I was writing this post. They are informing the parents of the fire and that their children will not be at the school for almost three more hours. We may choose to keep our children home. Unstated is that we may also choose to go pick our children up from the school.

That would be a telephone call I missed because I was at work.

I'm grateful for the detour.

Dec 5, 2013


My 13 year old son is proudly flaunting his growth spurt. I am startled daily by his testosterone-laden voice, alarmed that we have an intruder.  Tonight I stood at the counter, doodling as he lamented that in 14 hours, he would be scarred. For life. His innocence (dramatic pause for effect) . .  Lost. Forever.

I continued doodling while he expressed how tragic the rest of his existence would be unless I revoked my signature on the permission form. Finally, my doodling complete, I held up my finished product and announced, "Son, I respect you so much that I've drawn a diagram so you won't be so tragically scarred tomorrow." I held it up for him to see. He clutched his eyes, screamed something about being blinded and ran to his room.

I do pity the boy. I was just doodling t's and q's.

Dec 2, 2013

How One Event Gave Me Clarity but These are My Ramblings...

Writing on my blog is like coming home. I opened the page, saw my moniker, and my entire being sighed and released all kinds of tension.

Where in the world have I been hiding? I've forgotten to prioritize based on what's really important. I've allowed others' expectations dictate how I've been spending my time. Not important people. Not people that can ever be satisfied. People who are miserable and validate themselves in nonconstructive ways. I fell into a hole.

It's been all about work. I kept believing things would ease up, it would get easier, better, or whatever. But for reasons I couldn't understand, I gave my all and then stretched further than I could and still could not satisfy or please. I had a particularly clarifying moment in the past week.

I had a huge project that was originally assigned to two people. Somehow it was whittled down to just me. I've spent hour upon hour upon hour hammering the details, arranging, organizing, and getting things ready. Every time I sought help from the one that used to be in charge of this project, she evaded me. The big day arrived. I had planned for most contingencies. Under normal circumstances, it would go utterly flawlessly. I knew it wouldn't but I had enough faith in my preparation to believe the kinks could be worked out. There were two big contingencies I didn't factor into the equation. The first was my belief that my colleagues had my back. That they wouldn't let me sink. That they would pick up the slack. I'd done all the heavy lifting. All they had to do was be support. That was the first kink. The second kink was sabotage in the form of one of the people from my previous sentence.

I won't get into the details of what was done and what happened. The bottom line was my moment of clarity as I was recounting the experience to my husband. I was livid but knew I didn't have solid proof that it was sabotage. The red clouds parted for a moment and I had a few epiphanies. The first was pointed out by Scott. Yes, there were hiccups, yet despite all of her efforts to sabotage my hard work, it was a success. She created a situation where chaos was invoked throughout the school then had a secretary radio me to let me know there was chaos and it was my fault. I knew she wanted to teach me a lesson, although I still don't understand why. She wanted me to know how hard her life is and how hard she has worked. Because she is a miserable woman who thrives on her victimhood. She's bitter that I am supposedly working part-time when she "has" to work full time. So she is punishing me.

In retrospect, I had some realizations of small but meaningful miracles. I stumbled across her invoking a riot with a particular teacher. I completely owned her faux pas of causing chaos. I apologized to him profusely. I sent an email shortly after the event apologizing for the interruption and requesting feedback. What I received was a few people who provided feedback - some meaningful and useful, others too specific to not be scripted by someone else, and praise. Praise. Was it a screaming success? Absolutely not. But I pulled it off. It was not a catastrophe. It wasn't even a mild catastrophe. It was a successful event that was supposed to be doomed. Since I didn't doom it, it was sabotaged. And it still worked.

It would be so fun to just be smug about the entire experience and turn the page. I really want to but I had some other moments of clarity when I was humble and teachable. I realized that Someone had my back. There were too many coincidences to call them that. The event itself is not career making or shattering. The fact that I had to do it myself and had a colleague actively sabotaging it taught me some very life changing lessons.

  1. I realized how insecure this woman really is. How fragile her ego is. In the past year, I have handed her power over me by seeking her out as a mentor in a new environment. She abused that power and revealed herself. She is a gifted woman in many areas but lacks confidence in her intellect. The truth is that she is not intellectually gifted. Now I see how deeply her insecurities go and how far she will extend herself to hide them; purposely hurting others to validate herself, she lost my respect and she lost the power she held. Because of my new knowledge, I realize how much power I have to harm her. I am so very grateful to say, with complete confidence, that I would not do that to another person. Not even one who did it to me. 
  2. I now know my enemy. There will be moments when I will be angry at her again. But I pity her. 
  3. I have given far too much time, attention, and anxiety to a game I call work. It wasn't a game I could win. Nobody will give me a medal because of all my sacrifices. What I can't finish during my work hours won't get done. When I pull into my garage at the end of work, I need to be the woman who is a mother to four children, a wife to a man that needs him, a daughter to my parents, and a servant of whoever the Lord inspires me to serve. Outside of work. 
  4. I have been ignoring other aspects of myself. In the past few days, since I had the clarity of seeing my work environment differently, I've allowed myself to seek the Spirit. It came in the way I best understand, through reading a book on someone I admire then reflecting on the lessons I could learn. I am reading I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring. He is exactly what I need at this moment in time; pragmatic and grounded. "I remember to this day the feeling of insight. It is a sure thing that the process of insight into patterns is one that the Spirit of God can illuminate and lead." I am allowing myself to stop, reflect, and look for the illumination. It's been there all along.
  5. I need to write. It is a visceral need. It is the way I think and reflect. It is the way I find perspective and I learn. In a personal revelation to Elder Eyring that he recorded and used daily, he heard a voice in his mind say clearly, "I'm not giving you these experiences just for yourself. Write them down." God blessed me to be tongue tied. I will never be a great public speaker due to my stutter. But God blessed me with an active mind, a love of vocabulary and the English language, and the need to communicate. I am meant to write. 
  6. My blog posts became boring when I worried too much about my reader. My best writings have always been to my best friend, Heidi. She knows me. She loves me. She gets me. I expect her to enjoy whatever I write. I anticipate her reactions when she reads what I write. Sometimes I type an email, read it over and think, "Wow. That needs to be public." So I cut and paste and publish it on my blog. What if someone knows someone I'm writing about? What if someone doesn't agree with me and chooses to argue my points? That's what happened a few years ago when my neighbor discovered my blog. She hijacked it in the comments section. Ever since that time, I have guarded my words. Which is stupid. I have too much to say. Which brings me to my original epiphany =
  7. Consider the source. Why should I fear man? Fear and self-doubt often make people do and say things they oughtn't. Weakness is rooted largely in fear and self doubt. I don't have to see through those lenses. Everyone has worth. Nobody is destined to fail. Not you. Not me. Why not stretch ourselves and explore our purpose in life? I write. I am.
Sometimes it's great to be faced with a challenge that, in retrospect, was destined to be a huge failure. Yet, in spite of it all, it wasn't. It wasn't anything at all but a speed bump. I thought it was a huge, monstrous, boulder of epic proportions. But then I drove over it and didn't even knock myself out of alignment. That's when I know I need to get myself a new perspective. The lenses in my glasses make objects appear larger than they really are. The lenses I love include a laugh track and narration. It includes children, a husband, a cat that walks across the keyboard while I type and a dog with jealousy issues. It includes quiet moments of reflection, prayer, good books, and following my inner compass.

Hello, speed bump. You are now in my rearview mirror. You are an object I distorted. I'll see you again. I'll try not to be afraid next time.

Nov 14, 2013

Negative Nancy

It's not that I want to be Negative Nancy. Life is good. I am grateful. I can count my blessings if I want to. But I don't really want to right now.

Scott left for Atlanta on Sunday morning. I drove him to the airport. Alyssa slept over so she could take the kids to church. Samantha really needs to pass her driving test. I need another driver. But I returned in time for Primary to help Jaxon with the prayer. They say closing prayer in senior primary. Heather told me this. She's in the Primary Presidency. So I left for awhile and returned for the closing prayer. Wasn't I surprised when it was announced that Heather's son would give the closing prayer? I looked back at her quizzically. Oh, yeah. She just remembered that he had the closing prayer. Jaxon had the scripture. At the beginning. Right after I left. Thanks, Heather.

The change of family dynamics hit that night. Alyssa and Jacob started to fight. They were in my room and it was starting to get physical. I screamed for them to getoutgetoutgetoutgetout and they did. Samantha locked the door behind them while I added, "Don't get very much blood on the carpet and DO NOT put dents in the wall!" Another stellar Mother-of-the-Year Moment.

I was involuntarily volunteered to do Career Day at work. That equates to me planning and implementing a Career Day for 480 8th grade students. I saw my calendar and started hustling up presenters then got slammed with meetings for 9th grade students and parents for the past week and half. I forgot to sign up for a conference and I am so very glad about that, although I scheduled more conferences with parents and students which I just don't have time to do because I'm freaking out that I am not ready for Career Day which is in 7 days. I need at least 20 parent volunteers. I have five. I've resorted to guilting mothers into volunteering like I was volunteered to help. I went to the PTA meeting and begged. My colleagues are apathetic and my boss is micromanaging. Two days ago I politely (I think) told her to BACK OFF. She's telling me what to do and it's so not helpful. She told me to call this person and this person. Go talk to these teachers. Call this student and tell him he needs to be at school (because we don't already have an attendance secretary?). Tell people where they will be and what they will do. Who is going to do this? Who is going to do that? I gave her my tolerant, did-you-know-I-am-PMSing-smile and told her that I'd just love to do all of that right now but I'm a little bit busy with SEOP's. This was said as I was standing up and backing out of the room. She persisted. Then she saw my crazy eyes. Wisely, she backed down.

And I just can't wait to negotiate classrooms I will be using/displacing teachers for two hours. Not that they will need the space to teach since I will have their students but some teachers are very, very territorial and love a good fight based on principle alone. I'll wait until my PMS is really finished.

My birthday is next week. I am proudly two years from my colonoscopy. I'm trying to decide if I want to get a mammogram this year or not. Surprisingly, it is not as fun as everybody says it is. My mom's cancer has returned. Her oncologist, bless her heart, has horrific bedside manners. She informed my mother that they will have to start all over again with chemotherapy and add radiation to the recipe. And she smiles while she delivers this news, along with the message that she has been delivering all along, implied or otherwise, "You have cancer. You will die. I will treat you, anyway." Hello, Mary Sunshine!

Fortunately, PMS can be measured in days but I can't help asking, what does a nearly 48 year old woman need PMS for, anyway? Take my uterus. I don't need it, anymore. I'll donate to someone who wants to use it. It worked well. It might still work well. My children were all very happy little parasites in their cocoon for those 9 months. I am charitable albeit grudgingly.

Just don't dent the walls.

Nov 11, 2013

When I Need Strength

I am inspired by my distant great grandmother, Henrietta Keyes Whitney. She and her husband, Samuel Alonzo Whitney were baptized into the Mormon church in the early years of its organization. They lived in Kirtland, Ohio and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. They had two sons, Samuel Jr. and Don Carlos. Samuel Sr. died in 1845 of lung disease (pneumonia). In 1846, the pressure to leave Nauvoo was very high. Henrietta was a young widow, no older than 24 and her sons were 6 and 4. Her late husband's cousin, Newel K. Whitney paid for Henrietta and her boys to leave on one of the earliest wagon trains. Unfortunately, winter was coming and they quickly erected a city of sod huts and stayed for the winter. They called it Winter Quarters. Four days after arriving, Henrietta's youngest son, Don Carlos died. Henrietta and her remaining son arrived in Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

When I was 18 and freshly out of high school, I went on a tour of church sites. We stepped off the bus and I was swept up with the most distinct feeling of intense grief. I couldn't stop crying. No other historical site affected me as strongly as this one before nor since.  I wandered the cemetery and sobbed. I did not know how many had perished. I did not know anybody who had an ancestor that had. I only know that it impacted me in the most personal manner.

It would be decades later that I would come to know Henrietta through a distant cousin that knew of the previous facts. I felt a longing towards her that I couldn't place.  I had unknowingly walked the paths of Henrietta. I didn't recognize my distant grandmother in that place. I couldn't place my disproportionate grief. But perhaps Henrietta recognized me as I passed her son's grave. Perhaps she connected to me at that moment and I felt a fraction of the grief she felt when she buried her 4 year old son and prayed his father was there to greet him. Perhaps she was sharing with me the faith she felt when she turned from the grave for the last time and climbed aboard her wagon to take her remaining son to an unseen place.

My oldest daughter took the same tour I did earlier this year. I told her the story of Henrietta, cried while I talked, and hoped she'd seek out some kind of sign that Don Carlos lived and died. I felt a deep need to acknowledge a mother's son. I felt a need to connect to her that someone still remembers. 

She found his grave marker. She brought this home for me:

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!

In the years to come that moment would play on my mind, singing to myself,  Gird up your loins; fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake. Maybe I didn't know Henrietta when I was 18, but I believe she's been by my side since then, reminding me that faith overcomes fear and I have not been forsaken.

Oct 9, 2013

I Want to Be a Part of it!

Joey made plans with her husband and kids to go to Mexico with some other families so now we're vacationing with fervor. 

We saw Newsies which I LOVED so much and met a couple from Utah across the aisle. We also had an unfortunate exchange with a couple from Germany who complained that Suzy leaned forward and blocked their view. Even after repeated, hard jabs in her shoulder. She had no idea why they were jabbing her until intermission. Then they went and got an usher to tell her to sit up straight. Very German of them. 

I still highly recommend Newsies.

So Saturday was Joey's last day. We had to put our having-a-good-time on steroids. We ran to Tijuana Canal Street and had the opportunity to talk to the Chinese immigrants who pretended to not understand our English while bartering. Inconspicuous Chinese grandmas in fanny packs walked close to us with shifty eyes while asking, "Watches? Purses?" They had the name brand knock-offs off Canal Street. They took us through a maze of people and blocks to a younger girl who stood, keeping watch with laminated pictures of the "name brand" articles folded and tucked in her pants. Very sanitary. Then we returned to bartering without the famous logos and bought our children's souvenirs. 

Although inexpensive, the cost of a trip to Canal Street is very high. It's frustrating, insulting and exhausting. I can't do it more than once a week. Twice, if pushed.

We found our way back to Madison Square Park where an expensive food court was set up with the exquisite, mouth watering foodstuff. It's some kind of event the park hosts for one month before closing it down. There was food I'd never heard of but tasted divine.

Like good tourists, we used every second to see and do. We returned to our hotel exhausted and happy with our purchases. We waved goodbye to Joey and wished her well. We didn't even bother seeing her off in the lobby.

What? She's a big girl. 

That night we saw another show, the pre-opening of Big Fish, the musical. Follows the movie but the special effects on stage are dazzling. Computer generated images, the use of light and shadows, along with costume design and choreography made the experience absolutely memorable. It's a must-see.

One more night time trip to the roof to see how the Empire State Building has disappeared and the city of Gotham has taken over and off to bed.

Our last day was unplanned and frankly, our funnest day. 

Sorry you missed it, Joey.

We finally had a basic understanding of the subway station and made fewer unnecessary trips uptown when we were trying to go downtown. We went to see the Manhattan temple. You climb the stairs from the subway and BOOM there it is! Half of it is a church with a chapel and the other half is the temple part. There's a security guard at the entry. That was a first for me. 

Jene wanted to show us where her sister in law used to live and took us on a subway ride out to Queens. We rode for a very long time. It became more diverse and, shall we say, mentally ill. I was sad for Jene's sister-in-law for living in such a bad neighborhood. Jene finally figured out where we should have gotten off to change trains so we backtracked and found ourselves in Astoria. It's out of the way and apparently quite Greek but it was very quaint and suburban after Manhattan and wherever we had just come from in Queens. We hit another highlight by finding a street vendor that served waffles with Biscotti, carmelized sugar, cream, strawberries, and other scoops of awesomeness. 

Just so you know, there are no obese people in Manhattan. None. I didn't even worry about calories because of the amount of time I spent walking. My feet hurt every single day and for a day after I came home from New York. I don't know how you get used to such activity. There is no quick just-running-to-the-grocery-store. It's all a couple of blocks of walking to the subway, a subway ride, walking a few blocks to the store, buying whatever it is, and backtracking. In fact, I saw something in Queens that made me realize how much public transportation is all there is in Manhattan. In Queens I saw a gas station. Manhattan didn't have any. At least none that I could see.

We returned to Madison Square Garden for lunch and a bite at the Shake Shack and Eataly then went to look at Brooklyn. 

If I had a bucket list, I would have added renting a bike and taking it across the Brooklyn Bridge.
I'd cross it off. It was so much fun.

Returning to the airport, we had a hired car. I honestly doubt any of us will ever get into a New York taxi cab again.

Home by midnight, up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for work.

I need a vacation.