Thursday, April 23, 2015

CHANGE OF PACE TIME

Sometimes when life is at its most hectic there are moments of sudden humor. These moments give us a chance to catch our breaths, ease tension, and restore balance. Such a moment occurred this morning.

From the kitchen window I spotted an argument between a magpie and a dove. Just as their disagreement was heating up and turning physical, a robin zeroed in on the pair like a flying missile. Both the magpie and the dove lost no time deciding there was someplace else they needed to be. 

Early in my writing career, both a teacher and a published author gave me the same advice. They said when one scene after another is filled with suspense and tension, the grand finale will have a bigger impact if there is a tension breaker that allows the reader to laugh or at least be mildly distracted before hitting him/her with the big super crisis.  

I woke up this morning feeling like I've reached that brief change-of-direction moment in my writer life.  I have a full length novel, recently submitted to my publisher, and I just finished a novella and sent it to beta readers. While I wait to hear if the novel is accepted and wait for my beta readers to return my novella for whatever repairs it needs, I'm at that change of pace moment. 

Once I would have immediately started another story, but with two manuscripts in the works, I think I need a break. I promised myself that when I reached this point I'd clean my carpets. Last week's mud storm has left me with windows in need of a good washing. My garden needs some serious work and I have a Relief Society lesson to prepare. Today I don't want to do any of those things.  

I feel a bit like my granddaughter after her brother's soccer game a few days ago.  When the game ended she gathered up her little folding chair and her blanket and started to walk with my husband and me instead of her mother. We were parked at opposite sides of the soccer field. "Where are you going?" her mother asked her.

"To Papa's house."

"You need to go home and have dinner."

"Grandma has popsicles." She stepped closer to me.  

Ah! That's what I need, something different and fun before plunging into edits and rewrites.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Let It Go"


I'm later writing this blog post than normal. I usually strive to compose these items in the morning when I'm freshest and tend to do my best writing. However, today has been a busy one and this is the first chance I've had to grab my laptop. =)

That being said, I'm actually grateful for some insights I've gained today. It's a theory I've pondered before, but today I saw a few more examples of what keeps seeping inside my little grey cells.

Have you ever thought about how often we're told about the importance of forgiving and letting go of hurtful things? It's an item mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures, and by mental health experts, doctors, scientists, etc. and so forth. We're told that forgiving others benefits us the most--that very often, those who have hurt us in whatever manner either don't care about what they've done or said, or they have already forgotten about what has taken place. They have moved on--leaving us behind to stew and agonize over whatever it was that happened.

Here's my theory: I suspect that part of why we're told to let go of things--to forgive others and move on, is so that we don't become miserable, bitter, and consumed by the past. Today I had a birds' eye view of people who are still so angry over past wounds that they can't see the beauty of the day. They are melancholy, disconsolate, and at times, angry. Their focus becomes centered on themselves, their pain, and they lash out at those around them, unaware of how unbalanced they've become.

It was frightening, today, especially in the case of one individual who followed me through a care center, sharing items from their past that I really didn't enjoy hearing. I had come to provide entertainment, and left feeling slightly shaken by what I had observed.

Bottom line, no one is perfect. We are all hurt in some way by others, either intentionally, or unintentionally. I'm just grateful that we don't have to judge--though we often do. ;) Someday, all things will be sorted out. Those who weren't in their right minds when trespasses occurred will be made whole. Those who were wounded as a result will be healed. But I suspect that our frame of mind will determine how happy we'll be both on this side, or the other side of the veil.

The happiest people I have ever known are those who constantly look for the good, and who try to keep things positive. Despite heartaches and hardships, they push on to help other people, and in serving others, they find the peace of heart they are seeking.

My maternal grandfather was a wonderful example of this. He suffered through numerous trials that included the death of his father while he was in the 8th grade, the tragic death of his own, 7-year-old son years later in a freak accident, not to mention a horrible car accident where he and my grandmother were seriously hurt by a drunk driver. Despite all of that, my grandfather loved life. He loved to laugh and he looked for the good in people, instead of dwelling on the bad. He reached out to others and he was always willing to lend a hand when there was a need.

He loved spending time with children, and some of my fondest memories are of the adventures we enjoyed  while fishing with our grandfather, or "helping" him with varied chores on his dairy farm. He was never too busy to spend time teaching us fun card games and always made us feel like we were important.

Though we were saddened when he passed from this mortal realm, I'll never forget the feeling of joy that was present during his funeral--it was more like a graduation ceremony. My grandfather left us quite a legacy to maintain. It has become one of my goals to emulate his example. I don't always succeed, but it's something I continuously strive to accomplish.

So here's my challenge today--stop dwelling on past wounds. Find a way to work through whatever has happened, and begin looking for the good things that still exist. On days when you're hurting, do something for someone else. Don't fall into the trap of focusing only on your pain--it will come back to haunt you. I suspect that if we don't take of things before our declining years, those negative emotions will eventually tear us apart.

To borrow from one of my favorite scriptures: " . . . all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things . . . and men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:24-25)

And to once again utilize a favorite quote: "Keep your face toward the sunshine and all shadows fall behind."
(Helen Keller)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

NOT MY BEST DAY


This has been a day of small annoyances. Ever have one of those days? Nothing big, just a series of minor irritations. I could blame it on my blood glucose numbers which have been a little out of whack for a week or so--probably because of Easter plus my sweet tooth. I could blame it on not getting enough sleep the last couple of nights. Or it could be, some days I just feel grumpy. 

To start things off this morning I discovered I made a stupid error in my column on Meridian and my editor didn't catch it. I changed the title of one of the books I reviewed from Until Murder Do Us Part to Until Death Do Us Part. I went grocery shopping and the store didn't have the brands I wanted of a couple of items. My computer wouldn't save my WIP to my backup drive, so I had to e-mail it to myself to be certain I have a back-up. Late in the afternoon I decided I needed a break from writing (it wasn't going well). I accidently paid a bill twice a couple of months ago and the store sent me a refund check. Since I needed a new pair of jeans, I decided to use the check to buy the jeans, assuming that since the check came from that store it would be accepted there.  Besides I have almost enough points at that store to pay for the jeans. I figured wrong. Not only did they inform me I would have to take the check to my bank to cash it, but they couldn't even look up my points. It seems that store requires customers to print off their account data showing points from their home computers or use a smart phone to access the points at the store. I bought the jeans anyway, but resent having to make another trip to my bank to cash the check.

After all that, I was late starting dinner.  Half way through preparations I realized I was fixing both rice and potatoes. Maybe I should just go to bed. Surely I can't mess that up.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What is Really Worthwhile?

I'm slowly getting through all my accumulated "Worthwhile Thoughts" files. I've had this one for at least twenty years and possibly longer, but it is definitely a keeper.This was condensed from a tiny volume written in the 1890's by Anna Robertson Brown entitled What is Worth While? which went into 73 printings, stayed in print for 67 years (at the time I copied it) and was translated into Japanese. I love it! She says:

"Only one life to live! How do we make the most of it? How can we accomplish the most with the energies and powers at our command? What is worth while? What is vital? What may we profitably let go? We may let go all things which we may not carry into eternal life!" (What wisdom!)

"With this as a golden yardstick, we can measure our values and establish our rules. If we don't want to cumber our lives, there are four things we can do:

1. DROP PRETENSE! "Eternity is not for shams!"

2. DROP WORRY!  "Worry is a spiritual nearsightedness, a fumbling way of looking at 'little'         things and of magnifying their value."

3. LET GO OF DISCONTENT! "Make a heroic life out of whatever is set before us."

4. LET GO OF SELF-SEEKING! "In the eternal life, there is no greed. One hears of neither 'mine' nor 'thine'. All things are for all."

What are the things in life that we should keep, guard, use? Eight values can enhance one's life:

1. BE WISE IN THE USE OF TIME. The question of life is not "How much time have we?" The question is "What shall we do with it?"

2. VALUE WORK. But not any kind of work. Ask yourself: Is the work vital, strengthening my own character, or inspiring others, or helping the world?

3. SEEK HAPPINESS EACH DAY. If you are not happy today, you will never be happy! Strive to be patient, unselfish, purposeful, strong, eager and work mightily! If you do these things with a grateful heart, you will be happy - at least as happy as it is given man to be on earth.

4.  CHERISH LOVE. True love never nags, it trusts. Love does not have to be tethered, either in time or eternity.

5.  KEEP AMBITION IN CHECK. There is the great danger of substituting intellectual ambition for ordinary human affections. Let us keep it in bounds; let us see to it that it holds a just proportion in our lives.

6. EMBRACE FRIENDSHIP. It takes a great soul to be a true friend. One must forgive much, forget much, forbear much.

7. DO NOT FEAR SORROW. Disappointment in life is inevitable. Pain is the common lot. Sorrow is not given to us alone that we may mourn. It is given us that, having felt, suffered, wept, we may be able to understand, love, bless.

8. CHERISH FAITH. Strong, serene, unquenchable faith in the loving kindness of God will enable us to look fearlessly toward the end of the temporal existence and the beginning of the eternal and will make it possible for us to live our lives effective, grandly!"

Definitely wise words to live by. And I feel a kinship to her - I love her exclamation points! Now I have to do a little investigation into this wise woman who really did determine what is really worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm Just Sayin' . . .



So, it was my turn to blog yesterday, but I’ve been fighting off yet another nasty bug that has been going around. Good times/NOT!!! Today is a bit better, so I decided to take laptop in hand and make an attempt at writing a post. We’ll see how it goes; if it doesn’t make sense—we’ll blame it on the cold medicine. ;) 

It’s interesting, the thoughts that come to mind when you have time to sit back and ponder life. The first day felt rather muddled with feelings of, “Am I going to survive this one,” plaguing as a nasty cold wreaked havoc. Yesterday was more like, “Well, I’m still here, but I can’t breathe and my cough rather resembles animal life I’ve observed along the California/Oregon coast.” In between all of that, I found myself thinking about the past, the current time, and the future. Little things like that. At one point I remember analyzing the changes my grandparents observed during their respective lifetimes. In their youth, horse and buggy was the acceptable means of transportation. That morphed into trains, automobiles, airplanes, and launching men to the moon. Visiting friends, neighbors, and family members changed from talking over the fence, to using a contraption called a telephone, complete with cord and a person called an operator. There were party lines, private lines, and telephone lines that connected them with loved ones near and far.

They still wrote letters—one of my grandmothers in particular was very good at keeping in touch via the written word. This, I believe, has become a dying art. These days we send text messages and call it good. Or we instant message someone if it’s really important. We chat live via various programs online. 

I remember years ago when my father excitedly brought home a new-fangled gadget that allowed us to play a game on our television set called “PONG.” We were amazed at the stunning graphics. ;) Okay, they weren’t stunning, but it seemed really cool. Compare that game with what is now considered cool among video gamers, and it’s not so impressive.

When VCR’s emerged, we thought life couldn’t get any better. We could personally pick out whatever movie we wanted to watch, instead of relying on television stations to do it for us. DVD’s and Blue-Ray devices have pretty much taken over, or “streaming” via impressive bandwidth. I’m sure there’s something new on the horizon that will make all of that seem like pioneer days.

Our phones are now computerized, and some resemble tablets, since they’re growing in size yet again.
Ye olde TV sets are currently replaced with the flat-screened versions.

Planes, trains, and automobiles still exist, but each year sleeker models are revealed. I’m still waiting for those featured on “The Jetsons,” . . . you know, the family cars that fly around the atmosphere instead of enduring snarled traffic jams . . . oh, wait . . . they had traffic jams as well. Sigh . . .

If you’re wondering if all of this has a common link . . . it does. Ponder all of the technological wonders that have emerged during the past decades and consider this: THERE IS STILL NO CURE FOR THE COMMON COLD!!! I’m just sayin’ . . . we can send people into space, but we can’t come up with a way to stifle a malady that has been plaguing us for eons. To me, this is a very sad state of affairs!!!

I know . . . there are items out there that can help, but when one is lying on the couch, trying not to die, the last thing you want to do is drive to town to find something that can alleviate horrific symptoms, like coughing up one’s lungs, or not being able to breathe. I’ve been getting by with cold medicine I already had on hand, but it still doesn’t take away feeling like the last chapter.

So . . . all of you techie-types that are wailing because there’s nothing new to invent, have I got a suggestion for you!!! CURE THE COMMON COLD!!! Come up with a way to erase this vindictive bug from society on a permanent basis. You will be considered among the greatest scientists/inventers of all time.
And now, I’m climbing carefully down off my soapbox (since I’m still a bit dizzy) to lie down before I hurt myself. Au Revoir.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CRAZY


 

This month has been crazy.  There have been five family birthdays, a funeral, a wedding, a lesson to teach, and all the usual trivia of life. Plus I serve at the Oquirrh Mountain temple on Wednesdays, write a review column every other week, got my taxes ready, just sent off one book to my publisher, and I'm about a third of the way through a novella. 

My husband's sister passed away earlier this month after a series of strokes.  The funeral was in Sandy, but she was buried in Lorenzo, Idaho.  For those who never heard of Lorenzo, it's between Idaho Falls and Rexburg. It was great to see so much family, but sad to bid farewell in this life to a dear sister. Those of us who made the trek from Utah to Idaho for the burial stayed overnight in Idaho Falls where we had a spectacular view of the Snake River and the Idaho Falls temple. 

The following weekend we traveled to a different part of Idaho to my niece's wedding in the Twin Falls temple.  It was a beautiful occasion and the bride was gorgeous. Again we enjoyed visiting with family, but it was certainly a happier occasion.  We stayed with my brother and his daughter in the country.  From his windows we saw plenty of cows, a rock-chuck, pheasants, and mules. It was kind of sad to see a lone daffodil blooming beside the rubble that was once my parents' house next door.
 
 
 
On the way to my brother's house we stopped in Twin Falls where two of my high school friends met me for lunch. It was the first time the three of us had been together since high school which was a long time ago.  One other friend had planned to meet us, but had the wrong date and missed our
reunion. 


I discovered it's a real challenge to keep my blood sugar level steady while traveling and eating out. Not only is it hard to count carbs, but eating at irregular times creates problems too. 

And the month isn't over.  There are still two birthdays and a play.  Our oldest granddaughter has a part in her school's musical and we don't want to miss it. I wonder if April will be any better.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Words to live by!

I'm cleaning out files and drawers and cubby holes where I have stashed stuff for "later" when I have time to do something with it. It is too good to toss, but what do I do with it until I know what to do with it?  For example, I'm holding a yellowed newspaper clipping with a picture of a bespectacled older man in a jaunty hat with what is probably a colored ribbon band. He has signed the piece in a steady, readable script. This is what it says:

 "I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity - not security. I will refuse to be a kept citizen, to be humbled and dulled by having my state and nation look after me. I want to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed - never to be numbered among those weak and timid souls who have known neither victory or defeat. I know that happiness can come only from the inside through hard constructive work and sincere positive thinking. I know that I can get a measure of inner satisfaction from any job if I intelligently plan and courageously execute it. I know that, if I put forth every iota of strength that I possess - physical, mental, spiritual - toward the accomplishment of a worthwhile task ere I fall exhausted by the wayside, the Unseen Hand will reach out and pull me through. Yes, I want to live dangerously, plan by procedures on the basis of calculated risks, to resolve the problems of everyday living into a measure of inner peace. I know if I know how to do all this, I will know how to live and, if I know how to live, I will know how to die."
Signed by H. B. Zachry

I'd like to meet this man but he has probably been dead for many years since I've had the clipping for at least twenty years. I love his message. Still don't know what to do with the clipping! So I'll tuck it back in the file with a beautiful page of Inspirations from Norman Vincent Peale and uplifting quotes by the prophets and others until I need it for a lesson or talk. In the meantime, my files are expanding, not diminishing, but I have been given food for thought. I hope you have.