Saturday, January 30, 2010


Aren't there some words that you just love? I love the word serendipity. I also love serendipitous events. The dictionary describes serendipity as: the ability to make fortunate discoveries by accident, such as finding interesting items of information while looking for something else; something found by a lucky accident; a chance discovery.

On our trip to China, we stopped overnight in Singapore. While touring that incredibly beautiful and clean city, visiting a Hindu temple, the skies opened up and dumped on us. A vendor had some umbrellas for sale and I grabbed the first one I could put my hands on without even looking at it. Later, when I had time to examine it, I realized it had the national symbols of Singapore, along with their beautiful paisley design that is found on many things in their city/country. I had picked up the perfect souvenir from Singapore without even knowing it.

Just this week, a cute little girl came selling Girl Scout cookies. Her mom was with her and introduced herself as our new neighbor who had moved in down the street. Serendipity: I thought I was just buying Girl Scout cookies, but got to meet a new neighbor I didn't know had moved in. But that serendipitous event didn't end there. They were having septic problems.

(Yes, we are on a septic system instead of a sewer system because our neighborhood was built in 1971 and we were too far out of town for the sewer system to reach. For years we were "the last green spot on the hill," meaning you could look up the hill and see trees and know that was our neighborhood.) But I digress - as usual.

The tile men who were fixing their bathroom were the same ones we have used in all our tile makeovers over the last 25 years. They told her they had re-done our bathrooms and that I was a writer. She told me her husband worked in Hollywood, but she worked at home, transferring video to DVDs. Serendipity! Shelley was just going to come and get the camcorder tape which had their honeymoon pictures and send it away to have it put on DVD. Voila! I discovered a professional just down the street who can do it for her instead of sending it away. And now I can get all the other films on DVD from this particular camera. We had already done all of our VHS videos to DVD, but I had forgotten this little used camera and it's smaller cassettes.

So I love serendipity. I'd give you more fun examples, but I hear my company getting out of the shower and I need to go fix breakfast. And that is the reason I didn't blog yesterday - too much company and not enough time to get to the computer.

Hope you have some fun serendipitous events in your life. They can make mundane things much more interesting.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January- yuck

As much as I try to begin each year with a sense of optimism and purpose, the January does its best to beat me down. I enjoy fresh starts, I like reevaluating and setting new goals, I enjoy everything that a new year is supposed to be about. So why is January so hard?

Is it as hard, I wonder, for people who live in sunny climes? I keep thinking maybe its the weather where I live, and I suspect it may have a lot to do with that. I live on the mid-northern end of the Wasatch Front in Utah, and inversion is in full swing this time of year. (That means a blanket of cold air and crap is trapped in the valley and I'm ready to start wearing a SARS mask.)

I'm looking out my window and I see dirty snow. When it's winter, I want it to be either in the act of snowing or I want to see a beautifully deep blue sky with sparkling clean snow on the ground and in the trees. I don't demand much, do I?

Isn't that just like life, though? (Here comes the meaningful metaphor.) Things aren't always perfect, they don't always appear as we'd like them to. The trick is to find joy in the journey. So, against my better instincts, I'm going to list things I do like about January.

1. The house seems nice and simple after putting away all the red Christmas clutter.
2. As much as I enjoy having my kids at home, it's nice to get back into a routine when they go back to school.
3. I like the thought of planning for a new year that's full of fresh possibilities.
4. When it snows, it's beautiful.
5. Getting through it feels like an accomplishment.

Ok, that's a really lame list, but it's better than nothing. :-) And now, sitting here at the end of January, I have Valentines Day to look forward to, and then by the first part of March, I'm usually feeling pretty good.

Is it just me? I should ask my Florida relatives if they have January blahs. Well, wherever you are, I offer a big woohoo that we've survived January and I wish you good things to come from here on out. :-)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Temple Service

This month our Bishop has asked our ward to do an exciting service.
There are those within our ward boundary that are striving to become temple worthy.
There are those within our ward boundary that are temple recommend holders who do not partake of the temple blessings by attending the temple on a regular basis. And there are those within our ward boundary that have never been able to attend the temple. I suspect it is the same within all ward boundaries.
Our Bishop has asked each of our ward families to fast for all of these people.

He placed a calendar on his door and families signed up for one day to fast within as families throughout the month of January into the month of February lasting for forty days. It’s in remembrance of the forty day fast our Savior did at the start of His ministry. At the end of the month, we’ll have a ward Temple Day. The youth will attend as youth groups and the adults will attend throughout the day. That evening we have a session and a banquet planned where we’ll have someone in the Temple Presidency speak to us.

We have set a goal as a family to increase our temple attendance and our fast was just this week. It was fun for us to do as a family because this year our son is old enough to attend the Temple and to learn to appreciate the importance of temple work.

This all started with a gift from our Bishop given to each family. It was a beautiful 8x10
picture of the temple to hang in our homes to remind us of the blessings that are ours if we will make the temple an important part of our lives. On the back is a letter from our Bishop with a quote by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson:

“ Now my brothers and sisters, we have built temples throughout the world and will continue to do so. To you who are worthy and able to attend the temple, I would admonish you to go often. The temple is a place where we can find peace. There we receive a renewed dedication to the gospel and a strengthened resolve to keep the commandments.

What a privilege it is to be able to go to the temple, where we may experience the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Great service is given when we perform vicarious ordinances for those who have gone beyond the veil. In many cases we do not know those for whom we perform the work. We expect no thanks, nor do we have the assurance that they will accept that which we offer. However, we serve, and in that process we attain that which comes of no other effort: we literally become saviors on Mount Zion. As our Savior gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for us, so we, in some small measure, do the same when we perform proxy work in the temple for those who have no means of moving forward unless something is done for them by those of us here on the earth.”

Wow. I was really moved by that statement when I read it. I also recognize the tremendous blessings that have been promised as we attend the temple.

D&C 109:22 says: “Thy servant may go forth from this house armed with thy power and that thy name may be upon them and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.”

And one of my favorite quotes about temple attendance is by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone:

“I promise you that all who faithfully attend to Temple work will be blessed beyond measure.
Your families will draw closer to the Lord, unseen angels will watch over your loved ones, when Satanic forces tempt them.
The veil will be thin and great Spiritual experiences will distill upon this people.”

We are indeed a blessed people to have so many temples in such close proximity. I love the peace I feel when I attend the temple. No matter what seems to be going on in the world, I can walk within the doors of the temple, and find solace and comfort.

I love that our Bishop has asked us to do this service. I am so excited to strive to make temple attendance an even bigger priority within our family.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Convert or Born in the Covenant?

by Anna Jones Buttimore

I have recently received a new calling as a Primary teacher, and it has got me thinking - again - about the many blessings of being born in the Church, as opposed to being a convert.

If you have grown up in the Church you have all the benefits provided by its programmes. You have been through Primary and know all the Primary songs. (When I was first called as Primary President in my old Branch I knew none, and knew nothing at all about how Primary operated.) You have been through Young Women or Young Men and you know all about the Church standards and how to live up to them day-by-day. You have done Seminary so you have a very comprehensive knowledge of the scriptures as well as having memorised lots of verses. You know how old a Deacon is, what PEC stands for, and how to make a centrepiece. You know the myriad of little rules that a convert must learn - things like not clapping in church, and taking the sacrament with your right hand. Standing up and speaking on very personal matters in front of 200 people doesn't worry you at all - you've been doing it since you were six. You never miss coffee, and fasting for twenty-four hours is second nature.

It's not so bad being an adult convert either, though. If you are a convert you know what alcohol and coffee taste like so you're not curious. You have "been there, done that" for many of the things you're no longer supposed to do, so you know from experience why they are wrong and, in many cases, are happy to have a fresh start. You know how much happier you are as a member of Christ's Church than when you weren't a member, and you have a wonderful new world of opportunity, challenge, friendship, social events and support open to you. You don't have to worry that your testimony is based only on what your parents or others have taught you, and you have a real actual conversion story to tell.

Which are you, what have been the particular blessings, and which would you rather be?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

My family has always enjoyed musical productions. We love to watch classic movie musicals. One of our favorites is "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," starring Debbie Reynolds. This movie is based on the life of Margaret Brown, who was known as the Unsinkable Molly Brown after her heroic efforts in helping some of her fellow passengers survive the traumatic sinking of the Titanic.

My siblings and I nicknamed our mother Molly Brown quite some time ago. To be honest, the challenges our mother has faced in her life are numerous and overwhelming. Here is a sampling:

A few months before my mother was born, her brother Jimmy died in a tragic accident at the age of seven. A passing motorcycle spooked the horses a crippled uncle was driving, and Jimmy was thrown from the milk-wagon, dying instantly when his neck snapped. My grandmother was understandably devastated and she was placed on high-powered medication to ease her through this difficult time. My grandfather was told that the baby his wife was carrying would be stillborn as a result.

No one was more shocked than my grandfather when my mother was placed in his arms a few months later. Not only was she alive and kicking, but she demanded immediate attention and a name. My grandfather dubbed her Genevieve, after his own mother.

Following her amazing start in this mortal realm, Genevieve lived a fairly normal childhood on a ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. After graduating from high school, she went on to attend Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. That is where she met my father who was preparing to become a pharmacist. The two were married on August 5, 1959 in the Idaho Falls Temple. They spent their honeymoon in Yellowstone Park, and were in fact camping near Hebgen Lake, washing their car in that infamous lake just a couple of days before the earthquake. Luckily for them, they had left the area before disaster claimed several lives.

They moved to Pocatello where my father attended ISU, intent on earning his degree in pharmacology. About a year later, he developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome and was paralyzed from the neck down. This was the same time my mother found out she was expecting me. What a joyous time in their lives. ;) As my maternal grandfather later stated, "What the @#%$!! else is going to go wrong?"

It would take my father a year to recover from this debilitating condition. Gradually he regained the use of his limbs. During his recovery, they moved into a tiny trailer next door to his parents who lived in Roberts, Idaho. Dad's parents wanted my mother and father to give up their dreams of college and remain there on the family farm. My mother locked horns with her father-in-law and let him know in a big-time hurry that they were going back to Pocatello to finish school. And they did just that. My father graduated from ISU in 1964 and became a full-fledged pharmacist, my mother cheering him on every step of the way.

When I was about 3 years old, my mother brought home a baby brother for me to play with. She found out a week later that she had developed blood clots in one leg as a result and she spent several days down, relying on her mother to tend my brother and me. Mom survived that scary time, and went on to have 2 more children. Her leg filled with clots again during her final pregnancy and she was bedridden for most of that challenging time.

A few years after my youngest sister arrived on earth, my mother developed lupus. She has endured years of chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis, and other fun-filled adventures as a result. She has faced it all bravely and continued forward, setting a wonderful example of perseverance for everyone who knows her.

About a year and a half after I married, my father took his own life. This would prove to be one of the most difficult challenges that any of us would ever face. Dad had been suffering from a rare liver disease and when he died, he was not himself. This knowledge helped somewhat, but his departure from this world still left gaping heart wounds.

After Dad's death, my mother said that she was tempted to pull the covers over her head and never set foot outside of her bed. Instead, she moved to Wyoming to piece her life back together. Two of her daughters were still in high school, and her son wanted to serve a mission for the LDS Church.

Not knowing how she was going to survive the days ahead, Mom placed her faith in God that things would work out . . . and they did. Childhood friends of my father asked if they could send my brother on a mission in Dad's memory. It wasn't easy for my mother to step aside and allow this to take place, but she did. She and my two sisters learned how to repair the family car in his absence, as Tom served a mission in Montreal, Canada.

While my brother served in the mission field, my mother and sisters moved to Logan, Utah. Mom wanted to live in a college town, hoping that my brother and sisters could secure a college education. Shortly after her arrival in Logan, Mom attended a technical college with one of my sisters, graduating as the valedictorian of her class. After that, Mom worked as a dental assistant to help provide for herself and her kids who were still at home. And just as she had wished, all of her children attended college.

Mom worked hard for several years, then retired when complications from lupus surfaced. She turned 70 this past weekend, and we gathered together to celebrate her life. While her health isn't the best, she continues to take each day as it comes, pressing forward despite the obstacles that hinder her path. She is indeed a remarkable woman, and an example of fortitude. I have no doubt that she will continue to help everyone around her to survive the "Titanics" that surface without warning. Her legacy of courage and compassion will ease hearts and minds as we all strive to survive the challenging times ahead.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Live Like You Were Dying

My house is quiet and it seems kind of empty. For several months a cousin and her husband have lived with us while he was being treated for cancer. But at last they are on their way home, back to Alaska, a trip they came here not knowing if they would ever take. During this past year one of my sisters has been a patient here in Salt Lake, also being treated for a severe form of cancer. She's home now too, back in Idaho, having survived far longer than she was told to expect. One of my brothers died a mere year and a half ago and I've lost three sisters-in-law to the dreaded illness. I and two of my daughters are cancer survivors. Why do I mention this? I just learned that an old friend, someone just my age, passed away yesterday, the Haiti tragedy trumps all else on the news waves, and because I have a Tim McGraw country music song stuck in my head . . . "Live like you were Dying.

We joke about "Bucket Lists" and all of the things we'd like to do before we breathe our last, but from my own and those I love's experiences with living as though we were dying, it really isn't the grand adventures, the sky diving, the whirlwind trips around the world that occupy our thoughts at such a time. No our thoughts are more centered on, "I just want to go home," If I could just sit on the back deck and watch the clouds turn pink at sunset," "I want to fall asleep and wake up in my own bed," "I want food to taste the way it used to taste," "I want to hold my grandchildren a little longer," I want to drift to sleep with my head snuggled against my husband's shoulder," "I want to write letters to my children telling them how important they are to me and to God," and "I wish I'd cleaned out all those boxes and left better notes so that the kids will know what is valuable and what only has sentimental value."

But the rest of the song is pretty true. There's something about coming face to face with our own immortality that makes us want to be a little kinder to others, to feel a little deeper, to evaluate the choices we've made in life, and to want to do better. It's a time when we can't help wondering if our final score card is good enough. And oddly enough, there's a scary note of excitement, perhaps anticipation as we contemplate what lies ahead.

If you're thinking I'm in some kind of melencholy fog, thinking about death, I assure you I'm not. It's living I'm thinking about. There's so much about living we take for granted or give little thought to, until we face the possibility of it coming to an end. This world is full of terrible things, but there is also so much good. Think how the sun feels on bare arms on that first warm spring day. Or ice cream melting on your tongue. The scent of a freshly bathed baby snuggled in your arms, the pride and joy tinged with a hint of fear on a five-year-old's face the first day of school, the awe and joy when you see your child kneel at the altar to wed a worthy companion, the feel of warm sand between your toes, the soft fur of a kitten, the grin on a teenager's face when he sinks a critical three-pointer, or that tingling sensation when you know you're still in love with the person you married forty-five years after you made your vows.

There's actually more about living than about death when I say "I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying," and I hope you make that opportunity without waiting for it to be thrust upon you. Instead of seeing the dark and gloomy side of living, perhaps we all should decide what's really important and start looking for the bright and good. Let go of hate and anger, selfishness and greed. Hold fast to the tender moments, the small kindnesses, the innocence of youth, love, and faith in God.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh! It's Friday!

Cheri complained about Mondays. I don't mind the weekend ending since I've rested on Sunday and I look forward to plunging back into my week. I guess I don't have the normal Monday blues because my Mondays are the beginning of a new week of accomplishing - trying desperately to get everything done I need to do before I die!
However, Friday is another matter. Apparently my Fridays are most people's Mondays. It's my cleaning day, laundry day, shopping day, in addition to my normal daily routine. I had so much on my plate this morning (Friday) that I even skipped my hour exercising on the Wii. I did do the body test that told me I had gained weight since yesterday. Something I didn't need to be reminded of!
Aside here: did you know that Applebee's has a menu with several delicious 550 calorie meals?? We received a gift card from Glenn's sister for $25 at Applebees so we went yesterday to use it. My Asiago pepper steak was the best steak I've had for ages! Only 550 calories for a plate full of veggies and a wonderful, tender, tasty steak. But I always put on a pound or two when we eat out, thus my Wii reminding me I'm not being good.
Back to Friday - as I'm bending over my third toilet this morning, scrubbing wildly to finish in the 30 minutes I'd allotted myself for the three bathrooms - I would make my time frame! - I suddenly thought of Cheri and Kennon and prayers, then my thoughts went to all of you and I remembered! Friday - my turn to blog!! Oh!!!! Not today. Today I'm doing laundry, vacuuming, windows, painting a stool, patching up nicks in my hall and touching up paint that didn't survive my grandchildren over the past few months.
I have 10,000 steps to walk since I didn't exercise, 7 phone calls to make, five e-mails to send (which I'm working on in my head as I'm cleaning.) I planned to oil all the wood in my house because in our very dry high desert climate, you have to watch wood carefully so it doesn't dry and split. I have water barrels to fill for our preparedness - I'm only two years behind on this task and today was the day to catch up and get it off my every-growing list of things to do - before our winter rains begin on Sunday.
In 1972 - or thereabouts - I compiled a cookbook of my favorite recipes as a present for my sisters and mom. Remember the old hectograph method of reproducing things? That was what I used. The purple pages are fading after 38 years and now that I have granddaughters, my girls decided it needs to be updated with my current favorite recipes and delete the older ones we no longer use. (Remember Whip and Chill? I had several recipes using that and it is no longer available. Just an example of how out-dated some of the recipes are.) I have to send my current favorites to my granddaughter who is retyping the whole thing and making the revisions under the direction of her mom. I need to get those in the mail today. And I need to make a quick trip to town before my husband gets home at noon.
I'll admit, the thought skittered across my mind that I could just skip it this morning and do my blog tomorrow. Then I remembered we are leaving early to drive to the coast to see the Monarch butterflies wintering for a couple of months in Ventura, walk on the beach, and have lunch in some fun place.
So with the only thing on my mind this morning being my list of things to do today, I have blurted out my day, my expectations, my frustrations, and given you nothing of worth. My apologies, dear ladies. I know your schedules are just as busy - or even much busier than my own and you don't go on and on as I've done. But I guess I have given you a direct feed into my scatter-brained mind, for what that's worth. Hopefully you can take a lesson so you don't get this addle-pated when you reach my age! I can see you shaking your heads and being grateful your minds are more organized than mine, that your thought patterns are less wild, jumping from one thing to another in a nano-second.
But I'm incredibly grateful that my mind still works, in its own funny way, that I have the strength, energy and good health to do all I do, and that I know you incredible people who enrich my life so much. Thank you for that blessing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Country of Compassion

I have always been proud of America; not of every decision or policy, but surely of the ideals of freedom and compassion. That compassion has shown itself again in the aid being sent to the suffering peoples of Haiti. America has joined with several other of the world's tenderhearted countries to send relief and hope to this small impoverished country.

My soul has been anguished for the last several days with the horrific events occurring in Haiti. In fact, I've been so effected that I've had a hard time sleeping. If I were a doctor or a nurse, I'd be getting on one of those relief flights, but as I have no such skills, I will donate to the Red Cross and to the LDS church's humanitarian aid fund, and say many prayers.
I will pray for relief for the injured, lost, and lonely. I will pray for the children. At the same time I will pray for this to be an opportunity for the country to be freed from despotism. How much better the lives of the Haitian people if their government was one of tolerance, truth, and goodness.

I'm not saying that America is perfect, but at least we have the means in place to keep power in the hands of the people. This is a power we can not afford to lose. America stands as a beacon to oppressed people worldwide that freedom is possible, that for over two hundred years we have embraced a system that has offered its citizens the greatest amount of expanse for genius, expression, ingenuity, and compassion.

As I watch the planes being loaded with food, water, and medical supplies for speedy departure to Haiti, I promise again to never be complacent about my citizenship in America.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Grandma's pride and joy

I realize that Cheri Crane has already written a beautiful blog about being a grandmother.

I think she has captured the feelings of every grandmother's heart. So at this time, I just want to add, this is an incredible point in my life and I am feeling so blessed.

On Monday, January 11, 2010, I became a grandmother for the first time to a little grandson. Though we waited with anticipation for this day, when it was actually time, I was flooded with emotion.

First of all we had a trek to make from Salt Lake to Idaho. I may be crazy, but for some reason, the drive this time took twice as long as it usually does. I have always felt it was way too long to begin with.

About an hour away from the hospital it struck me with such force that at this very minute, my grandson was struggling to make his way into this world. He was to be the first grandson, the first great grandson, and the first nephew on our side of the family. With this little baby making his entrance, he was the beginning of a whole new generation in our eternal family. Once more I felt so grateful for the knowledge that families are forever.

We didn't quite make it in time for the delivery, I met my grandson when he was an hour old. When my son handed his son to me, I was overcome with emotion. My little grandson looked at me, and I looked at him. Instantly my heart melted and I fell in love with a perfect little baby. My pride and joy had just arrived and it's grandma's little boy. Ryker, 7 lbs. 7 oz.

In a couple of days time, I'll have to go back to Salt Lake. I have no idea how I'll ever be able to leave my grandson behind. He owns a part of my heart. But I'll tell you one thing, The love in my heart, the feelings of gratitude I feel, and the memories of these incredible few days will be with me where ever I go. (And I plan to make A LOT of trips to Idaho)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Train Journeys

It's very late, I'm freezing (heating went off two hours ago) but I'm determined to blog!

The reason I've left it so late is that I've been in London for most of the day for a meeting. London is a spectacular city, and I really enjoy going there. The meeting went well too; no pay rise, but I do get to redesign our funding leaflet.

Anyway, enough work stuff. The only thing that really bothers me about London is just how busy it always is. There are still just so many people that I often end up wondering how Heavenly Father can possibly know us and love us all individually. Last time I went to a work meeting (at Broadway, near Buckingham Palace and New Scotland Yard) I was quite subdued on the way home, finding myself on the packed commuter train (standing room only) feeling depressed that there are so many millions of people just in this one city, and so few of them know anything at all about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, I told myself, I bet I'm the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on this train. And then I got off at Rayleigh Station, at the same time as a member of our Bishopric got out of the next carriage.

But again today I was struck by the sheer swarms of people on the Tube and milling around in the streets, and again found myself wondering how He can really find time for each of us, and how the Church can ever be an influence for good in a place such as this when fewer than half a percent of the population are members, and only a third of those are active. Again, as I settled onto my train at Fenchurch Street Station for the journey home, I felt as though I were the only Latter-day Saint for miles around and I was fighting a losing battle.

Then I heard an American accent. Not that uncommon in London, but this was a train bound for Southend, and we don't get many foreign tourists. So I looked across to the next seat, and there sat two young Elders who, it transpired, were returning from a meeting at the mission home in Hyde Park, and were assigned to the next Ward along. We had a lovely chat, and then, feeling warm and comforted, I left them to get on with making calls on their mobile phone as they made appointment after appointment after appointment. They have two baptisms on Sunday.

There may be over six billion of Heavenly Father's children on the Earth, but He knows us all, and He knows our needs, and even when those of us who know were are His children are in the minority, we need not lose heart because He is on our side.

P.S. Both these missionaries were from Utah, but I can't remember their names! So if you are reading this out there in Zion and know of families with sons serving in the England London Mission, specifically Basildon Ward in Romford Stake, let them know that their sons are wonderful, and are doing amazing work.

Monday, January 11, 2010

You Know It's A Monday When . . .

It seems for years I've heard people complain about Mondays. Monday signals the end of the weekend and for most of us, that means back to the grind, etc. This can often be a daunting thought. And interesting things tend to happen on the first day of the week. Take today for example. I showed up an hour early for an appointment. The sweet young things behind the counter looked at me like I was totally senile. These are the moments that keep us humble. ;)

Last Monday I went grocery shopping and after unloading my cart, I realized I had left my wallet out in the car. Nice. Maybe I am senile. ;)

Songs have been written about the illustrious day known throughout the world as Monday. Here are some familiar lyrics by John Phillips of "Mamas & Papas" fame:

Monday Monday, can't trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday Monday, how could you leave and not take me.

Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time.

And there are numerous cartoons depicting the joy . . . or lack thereof of Monday:

So for today's blog post, I'm venturing two questions:

1) What can we do to make Mondays a more enjoyable time?

2) What are some of your favorite Monday faux pas?

P.S. Can I just say that it's awesome trying to be intelligent enough to write blog posts on Monday? =D

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Garbage Man Made My Day

Every Wednesday around 7:30 a.m. our garbage man comes around and collects the garbage. For some reason we always forget to put our containers out the night before and because I go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. I usually get the lovely task of setting the garbage out before the truck comes.
So, yesterday morning, I was in the kitchen with my husband and my 10 year old daughter. I'd just made breakfast for them (which is quite noteworthy since I never cook breakfast) and they were eating their eggs when suddenly we heard the roar of the garbage truck coming into the cul-de-sac. I looked at my husband and he looked at me and we both paused, waiting for the other one to run out and move the cans to the curb. By virtue of the fact that I was wearing shoes and he wasn't sealed my fate. I pushed the button to open the garage door then stopped. "I'm too embarrassed!" I cried and went back in the house. I didn't want to go running outside and drag my garbage cans through the snow. Besides, he was almost past my house so it was too late anyway.
Then, I heard a horn honk. It honked several more times. Was that who I thought it was? I peeked out of my garage and sure enough, there was the garbage truck sitting in front of my house. The driver pointed at my garbage can at the side of my house.
"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed to my husband and daughter, "He's waiting for me."
Feeling like an idiot I flew out of the house, grabbed the green recycling bin, and headed for the curb. The driver yelled, "blue, blue," at me and I ran back for the garbage bin instead and brought it to the curb.
"Watch out for the ice," he called out his window as I positioned the bin. He kindly told me I had it backwards, but that he could still dump it, then proceeded to do so.
"That sure was nice of you," I told him. "I was embarrassed to run out here."
He smiled and said, "No problem."
"Thank you. I hope you have a nice day."
"Happy New Year," he said, as he shoved the truck into gear.
When I walked back into the house my husband and daughter were laughing. They had stood at the window and watched all of this go down.
Now, it wouldn't have been the end of the world had I not gotten my garbage out this week. But I'm telling you, that cute little garbage man with his piercings and tattoos, totally made my day. He didn't have to wait for me. He certainly didn't have to go to all the effort he did to make sure I got my garbage out, but, he did. His kindness put me in the best mood and all day I found myself meeting friendly people at the post office and then again at the grocery store. It was such a great day and all because someone went out of their way to be nice.
Just think, if everyday we had a goal to be nice to just one person, how much better the world would be.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


In keeping with the general overall theme established by bloggers, newspaper reporters and columnists, and anyone else who knows how to type, I've decided to blog about the new year. Just so you know, I'm of the school of thought that maintains the decade still has another year to go, that is, 2010 is the last year of the first decade of this century, not the first of the second. I've heard the arguments pro and con and I plan to stick with my first grade teacher who insisted ten comes after nine and eleven is the beginning of the teens which end in twenty. Numbers are grouped by tens and each group begins with one, such as one, eleven, twenty-one, thirty-one, etc.

2009 wasn't a great year for me and mine. Cancer seems to have it in for my tribe and we've done a great deal of shuffling people around, visiting hospitals, praying, crying, and generally fighting to keep loved ones with us. Financially, we're among the survivors so far. Politically the year has been a joke. Dave Barry expressed my sentiments on this score best:

The year hasn't been all bad. My latest book, Shudder, has done very well. I'm serving now at the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple and loving it. My new little peach tree produced forty peaches last summer. And I've put away all of the Christmas decorations for another year.

Now on to the New Year's tradition most of us dread the most---New Year's resolutions. I didn't really make any new ones. The old ones were hardly used at all, so I'm just recycling them. There's all kinds of advice freely available to those who wish to make resolutions. The general idea is to set some self-improvement goal, stick to it for a few weeks, maybe months, then forget it until next New Year's. Don't get me wrong, I'm a firm believer in goal setting; it's something we all ought to do, I just can't see promising to eat less before all the Christmas candy is gone.

The trouble with most resolutions is that they're too abstract. We say "I'm going to lose weight." when we should say, "I'm going to lose a pound a week (month) for a whole year and I'll do this by exercising forty minutes six days a week, drinking eight glasses of water a day, and forgoing any food that remotely tastes good. Just remember a goal that isn't measurable and attached to a plan doesn't count. It doesn't work either.

My hopes for 2010? I've got a lot of hopes: better health for my family, a best seller, calorieless chocolate. My expectations? I'm not overly optimistic where politics or economics are concerned; I expect more of the same. Spiritually? Hey, I work in the temple and I teach six-year-olds in Primary; that's about as close to heaven as one can expect in this life. New Year's wishes? I wish all of you happiness, good health, laughter, the ability to forgive, and the chance to see the world around us through the wonder in a child's eyes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Learning from Every Experience

The new year is always an opportunity to think about the past, good things to be grateful for and not-so-good things to deal with or try to change. For the few days I’ve been thinking about an interview I heard a few days back on the Diane Rehm show (NPR) with an opera singer, Denyce Graves. The Andante link below is another interview you can read, but you can hear the interview on various websites that carry Diane's show.

As part of the interview Denyce described a really bad period in her life not so long ago that involved her 15-year marriage falling apart and her vocal cords having trouble. What caught my attention was that she was having killer headaches, so I wondered if she had a condition like what my sister has. Denyce later had a polyp removed in surgery and then had to recuperate. During all this she couldn’t talk about it; apparently singers don't like to let it out that they're having vocal problems since it has a bad effect on their careers. So she only told a few close friends.

An additional stressor was that she'd wanted to have children and had been trying for years and she couldn't. Then no more marriage either. So life was bad all the way around.

She said that the loss of her voice made her ask herself what she was supposed to learn from this loss, and that seemed a good approach to me. To ask, what can I learn from this loss - something we no doubt already know, but in a crisis it seems like it's the kind of thing one forgets.

Her words made me start thinking about what am I supposed to learn from this time in my life - loss of job, loss of personal space, loss of income, structure, etc. No answer on that yet, but Denyce didn't talk about what she learned or realized either. Instead, it's what happened in her life after that that gives me hope. She did ultimately get her voice back and the medical procedure on her vocal chords went well. Despite everything, she did find herself pregnant, by her current boyfriend, and despite all warnings of miscarrage or a Down Syndrome baby, she has a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Her operatic performances are considered stronger than ever - as if her difficult experiences have infused her voice with more richness. And life is better than ever. It gives me hope..

And last, just a note for writer friends. Denyce said that as a public performer, she finds it best to ignore critics and reviews. She described seeing two critics practically coming to blows about Puccini. Imagine there even being an argument about Puccini! He’s fabulous - what more is there to say? I expect it’s the kind of attitude that becomes a bit easier over the years. Plus, it’s another opportunity to ask, what can I learn from this, right?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good-bye to Christmas - Welcome 2010!

Today I'm putting away Christmas. I'd hoped to have it all done so I would have a fresh start on this first day of the New Year and could plunge into my goals and resolutions. Yes. I'm one of those who craft a list of things I hope to accomplish during this new year. Last year, I did very well on most of my resolutions, except that I lost the same 5 pounds 20 times and gained it back again!

But I'm behind schedule before thenew year even begins as we've been blessed with the presence of our youngest daughter and 4 1/2 year old Violet and 11 1/2 month old Julian all this week. Troy, our son-in-law, who wants to be a building contractor instead of a CPA, is constantly remodeling their home. This week, he's installing a sky light in their living room and the main bath, so Shelley and the kids have been with us during the construction.

What fun I've had baking with Violet, coloring with her and reading to her. She talks non-stop, of course, so the air is constantly filled with chatter and song. Julian is mobile - he can't be unsupervised for 30 seconds as he has a wonderful fascination for the tree with it's blue lights and blue and silver ornaments. And newspapers, magazines, shoes, and every tiny little bit of whatever has been left on the floor, all of which immediately goes into his mouth.

So we've had fun with the kids - and nothing on my list of things to do has been accomplished. But if I want to look at it in a different light, I've fed the hungry (four times a day!) sheltered the homeless, bound up the wounds (band-aids!) and clothed the naked (endless laundry!) And been rewarded with endless hugs and kisses, some of which are very slobbery but totally sweet.

We have two more days (at least) to enjoy them before their house will be fit to return to, so I've had to rethink my list, my schedule, my goals, my priorities and remember that nothing is quite as important as being in the moment with my family.

So as I try (not sure it will happen with the little active bodies hovering so close!) to put away Christmas today, the tree, the decorations, my nativities and little ornament tree filled with our Armenian and nativity ornaments, I'll remember that only the symbols need be carefully wrapped, packed, and tucked away, not the meaning of Christmas, nor the reason for it. I may put the Christmas albums back on the shelf, but I won't stop singing the Christmas carols. My daughters sing them all year with me. (Is that strange or what?)

I won't stop thinking of Christ who is the reason for the season, nor stop trying to be like Him, nor stop learning of Him and serving Him. My efforts just won't be as frantic as they are for the month of December. Like Cheri, and probably most of you, I overdo Christmas trying to make it a perfect holiday with perfect memories for all involved, and remembering all my friends and neighbors with notes or goodies. But if I keep the Spirit of Christmas in my heart all year, I will have accomplished all my spiritual goals, probably all my family goals, and certainly most of my personal goals.

And I have a head start on Christmas for 2010. Our Waldenbooks is closing and after two trips (and another one planned with the remainder of the list) I have most of my Christmas and birthday shopping done for my 12 grandchildren and my family for the rest of the year. Not a bad start for the New Year! Now on to my scripture study before the little ones wake, so I can begin the new year with a check mark on my to do list: scripture study accomplished.

Happy New Year to all - may your accomplishments be satisfactory to you and your relationships fulfilling!