Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let it Snow!

Last night about six inches of snow fell, and so this morning the schools are closed and the children are outside throwing snowballs at the neighbours' kids and building armies of snowmen. Forecasters are saying that the snow will last for about another week.

I had quite a busy week ahead before this. Tuesday night was Young Women in Excellence at our Stake Centre half-an-hour away on the outskirts of London. On Wednesday night the local Faith Forum – a group of the leaders of all the churches and religious and community groups in the area – was to be meeting in our chapel for the first time and I was doing the refreshments. Thursday was my eldest daughter’s riding lesson, and on Friday I was supposed to be attending my regular blood donation session.

But we Brits are rubbish at snow and seem to get taken by surprise by it every year. There is never enough grit for the roads, and I had never heard of snow chains for cars until I read about them in Twilight. I’ve no idea whether it is possible to buy them here, but we don’t have any so the car isn’t going anywhere and thus neither am I.

I already know that Young Women in Excellence and the Faith Forum are both postponed. We can’t get to the riding school five miles away and whilst I could walk to my blood donation venue (only 1 mile) I think the National Blood Service staff will tell me I shouldn’t walk back after donating, so it’s probably rather pointless.

So all plans for the week are cancelled, which is rather nice in a funny sort of way. Suddenly I have lots of wonderful free time and I’m quite giddy with the choice of things I might do with it, stuck in the warm safety of my home. Writing comes out top. I’m only 20,000 words from completing my epic fantasy novel, there’s another fan fiction competition to enter, and I need to tie together a few loose floating scenes from my attempt at chick-lit. I absolutely love writing and there’s really nothing I would rather do than snuggle under a duvet with my laptop.

Unless it’s snuggling down with a laptop and a cake. I had already bought the refreshments for the postponed meeting, you see, and they won’t keep…

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Survived NaNoWriMo!

So about a month ago, I was challenged by a family member to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo In a nutshell, this is a writing challenge. One has to commit to writing 50,000 words in one month's time. Wow!!! I've dabbled in the writing world before, but I'm not sure I've ever written 50,000 words in 30 days---until now. I'm proud to share that as of this afternoon, I have indeed completed this remarkable feat. (You may hold the applause for later.) ;) [Kidding!]

I have to say this challenge was just that---a challenge! And yet it was a refreshing way to break through writer's block. I used a storyline that has been rattling around in my head for a couple of years. Now it's finally down on paper . . . actually typed up on a word processor on my laptop, but I digress. True, it needs a bit of polishing and such, but it has morphed into a workable manuscript, complete with a plot-line.

Would I have completed the story without this little nudge from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? I'm not sure. All I know is despite all of this past month's adventures, which included feeding 23 people for Thanksgiving dinner, I squeaked in under the wire to finish. What a feeling of accomplishment. Even if this story never succeeds in getting published, what a rush to know I completed what I had pledged to do.

Will I tackle this challenge next year? That remains to be seen, but at this point in time I wouldn't be at all surprised. After all, my future bestseller will possibly be in need of a sequel. ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm posting this a little early since there's a good chance I won't get to it tomorrow morning. You see I've got a turkey to stuff, potatoes to peel, and a few jillion other tasks planned, but I don't want to miss the most important part of the day--just being thankful for all of the many blessings that have come my way.


Ever since October Conference, I've been thinking and talking about gratitude and since today is a day set aside for giving thanks, there are a few more things for which I wish to express thanks. At the top of my list is a deep sense of relief and gratitude that at the moment my family is cancer free. The last few years half been rough on that score with the loss of four family members and hard fought battles by several others. I, myself, am a cancer survivor and my doctor reminded me just last week that it has been seventeen years. I am deeply grateful for the medical teams and the prayers of loved ones who gave me those seventeen years. As hard as it was to face my own cancer, it was harder to watch two of my daughters suffer through their battles with the dreaded disease and I'm doubly thankful they are both strong and healthy today.

I'm part of a very large, diverse family. When we get together, we look like a mini United Nations. I am grateful for the bond of love we share even though we represent half a dozen different ethnic groups and I'm not sure how many different religions. As one niece said "we love each other anyway, warts and all. And man, we have a lot of warts." I'm grateful for every last one of my family members and all of our assorted warts.

I'm grateful for my immediate family, my husband, my children and their spouses, and my grandchildren. I think they're pretty special and there isn't a day that I don't thank God for their presence in my life.

Serving in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple is a choice blessing in my life and I'm so very thankful I've been given this opportunity. In addition to the spiritual blessings I receive and the joy that comes through this service, I also appreciate the many friends and those who read my books who whisper a quiet greeting to me there.

I'm appreciative of my country and the privilege I have of living in America. Like my family, our government has a generous number of warts, but it's a privilege to live in a land where I and every citizen has a voice in fixing those warts.

I appreciate and give thanks for a warm, comfortable home and a generous bounty of food on my family's Thanksgiving table. Even good food tastes better when shared with loved ones and there are a good number of loved ones gathering around my table today. I, indeed, have much to be grateful for.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some things you CAN take with you...

This week, I am grateful for books. Well ok, I’m always grateful for books. I am, without a doubt, a nerd of the first order, but as I know a lot of other people who love to read and write--and I do hold them in high esteem--I figure I’m in good nerd company.

The reason it’s coming to mind so readily now, however, is because of a quote by Richard G. Scott that I came across a few days ago: “After this life, you will be restored to that which you have here allowed yourself to become.” This is wonderful—after we end our journey here, we will be restored to what we’ve worked on. Basically, it sounds to me like we get to pick up where we left off.

I’ve often heard the quote that runs something along the lines of “you can’t take it with you when you go,” and I’ve always taken that as two-fold. One, the physical trappings here on earth don’t amount to much when we’re dead, and two, since all I can take with me when I go is what I’ve managed to put into my head, I’d better stuff it as full as possible.

Enter real life. Life has a way of intruding on the best of intentions, and the time slips by more quickly every day. I tell myself I’m going to learn about this or that, make a study of some author I’ve been meaning to get to, and it just doesn’t seem to happen. But as much as I do love books, there are lessons to be learned from those real-life experiences that suck up all of our time. I figure if I can somehow sandwich in book time with living, I should be good to go.

This is such a fun time of year, and it’s a blessing, really, to take the time to actually count our blessings and be grateful for what we have. My list this year could probably stretch on for pages, and I think, in fact, that that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’m going to make a list of every little thing I am thankful for and see how long the list stretches.

I challenge you to do the same! Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where am I?

As you know, I'm cleaning out and straightening up and putting my life in order - at least my closets and drawers and shelves. Yesterday I pulled my journal notebooks from the shelf to see if I had typed my 2002 journal entries or if they were still on the little floppy disks and needed to be transcribed. Unfortunately, they need to be transcribed - a whole year's worth! That may take me months in trying to decipher the words through the computer garble. But as I put monthly dividers in my 2003 journal, I discovered this page that was a thought to my children.

Sunday, January 19, 2003: "As I was saying my prayers this morning and doing my scripture study (currently reading The Mortal Messiah and the New Testament Doctrinal Commentary both by McConkie who really tells it like it is with no comfortable conscience cushioning as we study the New Testament in Sunday School) I had a thought that was totally unnerving. My life on earth is over half finished - I've been here longer - by far - than I have time remaining. And I am nowhere near a finished product! My biggest problem: subjecting my willful, rebellious body to my spirit which should be leading me and my actions instead of the other way around.

It came as such a surprise because I don't feel, inside, that I'm much beyond - say - 28. I don't feel 64 years old (except occasionally my body reminds me that I am not 28!) So it was a total revelation to me that my time to get it all together is diminishing rather quickly and I'd better get with the program or I'll never make it. Exactly where would I go if I were to die today? Have I gotten myself to the point where I could comfortably and worthily dwell with the Holy Ghost? Certainly I don't think I am worthy to be in the same sphere with the Savior, and what more do I have to do to make myself worthy to dwell with Father - to return to his presence?

The whole thing boils down to governing this rebellious body. When the Spirit quietly whispers "make that phone call" to someone, and I ignore it or feel I'll get to it later, that is disregarding or "rebelling" against the Spirit. When I pray for help in using my time wisely, and yet ignore the feeling I should go do "this" now and I don't, that is disregarding or rebellion against the Spirit. When I have one more bite of high calorie whatever, when I just asked for help to control my appetite and lose 15 pounds, that is rebellion on the part of my body over my spirit. Or when I say something I should not say, or don't say something I should, same thing.

I know these things. I've known them all my life. But sometimes I have to be reminded how simple everything really is. We either do what the Spirit tell us - or we don't. And if we don't, if we ignore or procrastinate, then we are saying: "Thanks, but I don't think I want to live that higher law right now. Tomorrow I'll do it."

But how many tomorrows do I have to bring this body (and tongue and mind) back into submission to the Spirit? What promises did I make before I came here that I haven't kept because I'm not listening to the promptings - or I'm procrastinating - or ignoring them?

Just some thoughts that surprised me this morning - so thought I would pass them along so you can think about where you are at your different points in life - and which sphere or kingdom you would inherit if today was your last on earth. Love, Mom"

So this column today is a reminder of how valuable journals can be, and how often we need to check on our "status" in life and see where we are in perfecting ourselves in preparation for our life in the next sphere. Happy Perfecting!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Scallywag. It was a word my dad often used to gently reprimand us if we were "acting up." My dad was known by friends and family as a character. He told the best stories and made people laugh. If he were alive today it would be his 90th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad! I'm grateful to have grown up under the tutelage of a man of industry, integrity, and humor. To honor him on his special day, I'm going to share some of his wisdom.

One: Don't be a Scallywag. I never really knew what that was, but it sounded like something to do with pirates. I'd read Treasure Island, and I didn't want my name associated with those rough and one-legged ruffians.

Two: He taught us (me and my sisters) not to be "full of bologna." This meant that on those occasions when we wanted to fib, or expand a personal story into the realms of fantasy, we were to remember not to be full of false meat. It was a disgusting image and therefore a powerful deterrent.

Three: He'd remind us not to "toot our own horns." This one had to do with overt pride and excessive bragging. For some reason, this bit of wisdom always comes to my mind on New Year's Eve when I'm tooting away on one of those little party horns. It really isn't a pleasant sound.

Four: We knew we'd pushed the child/parent argument to the limit when his bass voice would rumble that we "didn't have a leg to stand on." I'd stop arguing immediately, but wonder how I could still be standing if I didn't have a leg to stand on.

The list of platitudes could go on and on, but I've got a busy day: grocery shopping, laundry, researching for my next book, and ten other things...

Dad would say, "Stop burning the candle at both ends!" or, "Slow down and count your blessings." Good counsel.

A week from today is Thanksgiving, and surely my wise and funny dad will be high on my gratitude list.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I had an interesting experience yesterday that gave me an opportunity to stop and reflect.

I noticed a certain clock hanging on the wall. It was the kind that is ran by satellite and it couldn’t find its signal. Therefore the hands on this clock were racing around like crazy ticking away the hours of the day within only minutes.

At first I had to laugh as I surmised there are times I feel I am racing out of control like that.

Then I sobered a bit…

The hours in my day tick by like crazy and at the end of the day I wonder where the time has gone and what I have to show for the minutes that have sped by. Did I accomplish all that was needed? Did I do what was the most important in the grand scheme of things? Did I treat everyone the way I know I should be treating others? Did I spend my time showing my family how much I love them, and enough time caring for them?

I consider myself a fairly busy—even too busy at times— person. Though I am constantly justifying that all the things I am involved in and all that I am doing certainly need to be done or have their place in my life, I still find myself feeling guilty for the things left undone because I ran out of time.

For example, I had to work, so I didn’t spend enough time with my family… that one stabs at my heart almost constantly. I tell myself that on my next evening off I will do a really great family dinner and activity to make it up to them. Of course when the time rolls around, low and behold, I’m either exhausted, (or lately, sick) or sure enough, they have plans. Murphy’s law? So to remedy that, I have had to alter my plans.

Rather than making an elaborate evening out of our time together, we make the most of the time we do have together instead. Maybe we’ll catch a movie, or even rent one and have a movie night at home with treats or we’ll stay in and play a game. Last night I took my son Christmas shopping and we sang Christmas songs together. (Maybe a tad early for Christmas songs, but we had a ball singing at the top of our lungs in the car!)

Time is racing on.

I need to be conscientious of how I use my time. At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I filled my time with the things that are meaningful to my family, my friends, myself, and of course to my Savior, rather than just doing activities that fill my time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Author Fame

James Patterson is the richest and most successful author in the US, where apparently one in every seventeen books sold is authored by him. But would you recognise him in the street? What about if you're a fan of his books - would you know him if you stood behind him in the queue at the supermarket checkout? I certainly wouldn't.

Now what about the equivalent Hollywood actor - Tom Hanks? Would you know to ask him for an autograph if he was on the table next to yours in a restaurant? Probably. You might even get a little starstruck and lost for words in the process. What about your favourite sports stars or musicians? Their faces are probably well known, and they are frequently mobbed, or find themselves under virtual house arrest because of the difficulties of going about their daily lives anonymously.

I don't write for the money or the glory, but it strikes me that if I was going to be famous for something, I would really like it to be for writing, if only because all your readers ("fans"?) see of you is a little black-and-white photograph, and that's only if they bother to look at the inside back cover. You get all the good trappings of success - fan mail, financial rewards, the satisfaction of having entertained people - with no need for bodyguards or disguises.

That's not true of every author, of course. Stephenie Meyer (no. 3 on the list) is reputedly not enjoying the pressure of fame at all, and J.K. Rowling (no. 10) is recognised worldwide, but they are the exceptions. When I think of my favourite authors (excluding those above, those I've met in person or those who have also been on TV) I don't think I can picture the faces of any of them. In fact, I've just read The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith which was a superb book, and didn't include a photograph of the author at all. For all I know, he could live on my street.

There is one reason, and one only, that I would like my name to be well known, and that is because I get so fed up with having to spell it to people. In my mind, I see hubby dearest and I checking into a (five star luxury) hotel somewhere, and discovering that the receptionist is a fan. The exchange goes something like this:

Receptionist: What name is the booking under?
Me: Buttimore. That's B-
Receptionist: I know, like as in Anna Jones Buttimore?
Me: That's right.
Receptionist: And can I take your first name?
Me: Anna. Jones.
Receptionist: Oh..!

Yes, I admit it, I'd get quite a thrill out of that. Mostly out of not having to spell out my name, you understand.

Monday, November 15, 2010


So there I was, minding my own business when two things happened almost simultaneously. Within a couple of days of each other, one of my sons called to give me a "pep-talk" about writing . . . something I've neglected lately for a variety of reasons---and not too long after that enlightening chat, my brother called to encourage me to enter a competition called NaNoWriMo. I'd never heard of this particular delight before (don't make fun) but it sounded intriguing.

My brother went on to say that he and his wife had both tried this adventure a couple of years ago, and had enjoyed it immensely. He challenged me to sign up that very night (October 31) while I was talking to him on the phone. I think he suspected I would bail after our phone chat. ;) He was probably right. So he guided me through the process of signing up. After that, we discussed a few other items, then I hung up the phone. Curious about what I had just committed myself to do, I tried to sign in . . . and my user name and password weren't recognized. I figured that was a sign and shrugged the whole thing off.

The next morning, I was stunned to find a plethora of e-mails from the NaNoWriMo group in my e-mail inbox. Somehow, despite the glitch, I was a full-fledged participant in this year's competition.

I tried to sign on, and ran into the same problem with the e-mail and password scenario. So I valiantly persevered and made a couple of changes. Suddenly, I had access to my own personalized screen with instructions on how to participate in this year's event.

Filled with a new determination to follow this through (the old "if my brother can do it---I can too," philosophy) I began typing away. At first, it was like trying to break through a brick wall. But knowing this particular manuscript didn't have to be perfect, nor please anyone else, I kept typing. Soon I had my first 5 thousand words. What a feeling of accomplishment.

I'm currently at the halfway mark at nearly 25,000 words. I'm intent on completing this endeavor, and the story I started a couple of weeks ago is taking shape nicely. I may even submit it somewhere someday.

I think periodically as writers, we hit a brick wall. Some writers refer to it as writer's block. Thank heavens inspiring challenges like this can help us through this obstacle. I would say the NaNoWriMo event that takes place yearly, is indeed a writing vehicle that can jump-start our creativity.

While it's too late to sign up for this year's event, I would encourage anyone interested in the writing world to participate in next year's event. Here is the link:NaNoWriMo

Incidentally, I've learned that NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month which takes place each November. I've been impressed with how many writers take part in this event. And I, for one, will more than likely tackle it again next year. ;) Now . . . back to my budding masterpiece . . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today is Veterans Day

Veterans Day is one of those holidays that always seems to get overlooked. After all, how can a day to honor soldiers compete with the likes of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas? Somehow we manage to forget that without those soldiers who endured unspeakable trauma and too often death, we wouldn't be free to celebrate the flashier holidays.

Armistice Day or Veterans Day was established as a legal holiday in the United States to honor those who fought in World Wars I and II, but has since been expanded in the USA to include members of America's Armed Services no matter which war they served in or may be currently serving in. Other nations who were involved in World Wars I and II observe this day too. In Canada the day is called Remembrance Day. In fact our friends to the north still observe the day more fully than we in the USA do. Though there has been some fiddling with the date, it is still observed by most nations on November 11, commemorating the day in 1918 when World War I formally ended.

As a child, almost everyone I saw; schoolmates, family, strangers on the street, wore a crimson poppy on Armistice Day to show our support and to honor those who fought for us, especially those who were buried on foreign soil. There was a national sense of togetherness brought about by this simple symbol and the dimes collected for their sale went to support programs aimed at benefitting veterans, particularly those who had been wounded. Red poppies still appear on the lapels of newscasters and many ordinary citizens in Canada while the custom has almost disappeared here. I remember that at precisely 11:00 a.m. a minute of silence was also observed in schools, places of business, and even the radio went silent. Once almost every school child could quote the opening lines of a poem composed by John McCrae, a soldier who wished to honor a friend who died on a Belgian battlefield where he noticed the bright, sturdy flowers growing in fields that had been disturbed by war and where the flowers seemed to flourish between the crosses erected to honor the war dead.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Perhaps it is human nature to ignore unpleasant things until they touch us personally, but most people I know are hardly aware we've been at war for nine years, ever since America was attacked by foreign terrorists in 2001. Those of us who have had loved ones deployed during that time are certainly aware we are at war, but those who haven't, have too often gone on living their lives mostly untouched by this challenge to freedom and our way of life, other than being inconvenienced at airports and uttering complaints about the monetary cost of war.

Today is a day to set aside our political differences and simply honor those who risked their lives or gave their lives for freedom. It's a day to thank a soldier. It's a day to remember all those who sacrificed time, healthy bodies, or their lives so that we can choose our own government, our way of worship, our educational goals, our careers, and even so we can sit down together with our families to enjoy a holiday dinner.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Famous Rejections

One of the lessons I'm trying to teach my editing students now is that editors have rejected a lot of well-known and popular authors and what that means for them.

In my class, students read several novels and partial chapters of novels that may be bestsellers or award-winners (Pulitzer, National Book Award, etc.). Many of the students are quick to criticize and dismiss before they learn to their amazement that they have rejected a manuscript written by an author who pulls in multi-million dollar advances and sells millions of books. Likewise they may dislike a book that has won the Pulitzer. (I personally find a lot of award-winning books difficult to read. They're generally not "fun" reads. Think Cormac McCarthy's The Road, for example, not a light, pleasant read).

As long as editors are guided by their personal preferences--we're all human, after all--even good books will be rejected, because we don't like the same things. Fortunately, persistent authors can find the right readers/editors for their books, as the stories on this website tell:


Moral of the story: Keep writing, keep hoping, keep revising, keep submitting, and keep your day job.

Happy writing to you all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fifteen Rules for Writing

I've had three little storage boxes full of 3 1/2 inch floppy discs that I can't read with my current computer, but there was valuable information that I needed to save. Our computers at the Family History Center all have the 3 1/2 inch floppy drive so if I don't have any patrons, I've been reading the discs and saving what I need (or can decipher because they don't all convert) or just toss them if the information is outdated.

This is one I was able to save and since it has some great ideas, I thought I'd pass it on. I need it now that I am writing again to keep me motivated. Maybe it will help you in your current project.

How to Write Prolifically by Karen King

1. Take yourself seriously as a writer.
2. Write every day. Make it a habit.
3. Set small goals: so many pages a day, rather than finish the novel by next month.
4. Push yourself to go past your goals. Give yourself pats on the back when you meet or exceed your daily goals.
5. Wipe the slate clean each day. In other words, don't flog yourself with guilt if you fail to meet your goals. (And don't try to carry over yesterday's page count and add it to today's goal.)
6. Don't edit or revise until you finish a first draft. (Oh, that is a hard one for me. I edit what I wrote yesterday at the start of each new writing day to get me back into the story!)
7. Don't critique too early.
8. Do whatever works for you, get up early, stay up late, use a tape recorder, write in the bathtub, but don't get the computer wet. :)
9. Remember if you were not around, your husband and kids would not starve to death, and Pizza Hut delivers. Demand respect and time for your writing.
10. Play your stories in your head, like a movie. Rehearse scenes you've already written and let your characters run on with the next scene. I like to do this while falling asleep or waiting in line. Doing it while driving can be dangerous. The next scene will flow onto the paper.
11. Write through brick walls. When you feel stymied, just write. If it is slop, you can edit it out later. You may be pleasantly surprised by the quality.
12. Identify your problem spots and avoid them. Never leave your writing at the end of a chapter; start the next one. If you reread what you've written frequently, turn off the computer screen. If you backspace and respell too often, turn off spellchecker. If you're not sure of a word, or a piece of research, flag it and check it later. If you watch too much TV and don't write, make yourself give it up for two weeks. (Anything good will be back in reruns for the next twenty decades.) Play too many video games? Make it a reward for meeting your writing goals. Read too many books? (Don't we all!) Glut yourself as a reward for finishing a novel. (Finish writing a new one, that is.)
13. Don't start a new project until you finish the first. Use the energy from the next project that begs to be written to complete the one you are on. You'd be surprised how anxious you are to finish when you don't allow yourself to commit your next story to paper. (Not even a synopsis. A story idea worth writing won't disappear and one that won't hang around probably isn't good enough.)
14. Remember how far you've come and not how far you have to go. Then dig in and start the next one.
15. Never forget rule number one.
Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That Old Age Thing

There was a time in my youth that I thought people who were the age that I am now were positively ancient. I laugh and maybe even cringe a bit at the thought. But I have to step back and think on that for a minute.

I don’t move as quickly as I used to. I was told I have arthritis in my knees and I suspect I have it in a couple of other locations as well. But, arthritis??? Isn’t that an old people disease? I won’t use this blog to list my other “ailments” that go along with aging, but rather, my point is there are a multitude of things happening to my body and yes, even my mind :) that have been changing thanks to the aging process. Suffice it to say, I am sometimes taken aback by the older person I see looking back at me in the mirror. I notice the changes taking place that I never thought would happen to me.

So what of aging gracefully? My mother and her mother aged gracefully. In fact, I dare say, they became more beautiful with age. Not only that, but all around me I see women whom I admire aging most gracefully. I have to wonder what the secret is.

I decided to google it. I came up with all kinds of hilarious jokes and articles on the humor of aging. Unfortunately there were far too many I could identify with. It was more depressing than funny. What I learned from that was that humor is one thing essential to aging gracefully. That is not all. I learned much more as I pondered this whole aging process. A couple of articles hit a few pointers right on the nail for me as well. I thought I would share what I have learned.

The whole aging process is an important one and denying ones age though it is a silly, harmless, game played, (i.e. “I’m twenty five again…” or “Still thirty and holding…” etc.) it can also be disabling. After all, those grey hairs, those wrinkles, those scars, well, they are all a big part of who we have become over the years and we have earned them through our lives experiences. Therefore, we should wear them without guilt or shame, rather with pride and joy having survived or accomplished all we have experienced.

When you think about it, you can look back and say I am X many years old. I have learned X many years’ worth of lessons, X many years’ worth of personal growth, X many years’ worth of challenges and happiness, and X many years’ worth of accomplishments. Looking back there has to be some satisfaction for that growth and learning and that in turn can build self esteem. May you live that many more years and find much happiness in them! It’s something to be proud of.

Age doesn’t have to be a debilitating thing for us. We can age gracefully. After all, they say age is a state of mind—(I just wish my body would keep up! The physical stuff is a little harder to deal with!)

I know that as I have aged, my perspective has changed. I know now that the friends I have are the friendships I will always treasure.

I cherish moments with my loved ones as I realize there just aren’t enough of them. This is an about change when as a youth I hated it when my sister came near me or even touched me if I was angry with her or when she crossed to my side of the room after we had drawn the imaginary line.

I have strived to become more knowledgable and therefore more stronger in my convictions which inturn gives my life reason and purpose.

There are times I have become more forgetful, it is true. But maybe this isn’t all bad. It has helped me to be more forgiving— for when I do finally remember, I have discovered that some things just aren’t worth being contentious over.

I have tried to become more at peace with myself and with my fellow man.

I realize more than ever I have much to do and much to learn and suddenly I really don't have all the time in the world, nor all the answers to solve all of the world's crisis's but now, more than ever, I want to try to do my part.

The list goes on. I am finding that maybe aging isn’t such a bad thing. I would never trade my adorable grandson for less grey hair or a flatter stomach and firmer end zone.

Life comes with broken hearts— there we learn strength and love and compassion. It comes with trials and struggles and challenges—there we learn faith, hope, patience and endurance. It comes with adventure and experience— there we can learn wisdom.

Each and every day that we have on this earth can be a blessing. We can either cherish it or go out kicking and screaming. It is my hope that I can learn to cherish it and age with grace.

And so, in ending this blog, I have to add some of the humor that goes with aging. After all, in the beginning I did mention we have to have a sense of humor with aging, right?

When I was younger, one of my favorite shows was “The Sound of Music” Now that does age me, doesn’t it? This may be a bit of that “denying my age stuff” but “The Sound of Music” was the best picture of 1965 and one of the best musicals ever produced. In 1965, I was a little young to appreciate this fine film. But my mother helped me to appreciate it several years later.

This is a copy of a forward I received on Julie Andrews. It fit perfectly with my blog today and I couldn’t resist using it. I was unable to locate the original author: I could certainly relate to her feelings, could you? (Be honest and proud of it if you could!)

Julie Andrews turned 69 and to commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, actress/vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favourite Things" from the legendary movie "The Sound Of Music."

Here are the actual lyrics she used:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillac's and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things..

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short, shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Now there is a sense of humor from a lady who has aged gracefully! :)

*FYI The article I referred to in my blog for information was written by David Leonhardt on aging gracefully.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I'm writing this midway between Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night, so I figured I should probably blog about one or the other. I picked both.

My husband chooses not to celebrate Halloween. For a while I had assumed that was for the same reason Evangelical Christians don't celebrate it - because it is associated with the occult and forces of evil. However, I found out recently that the real reason is because he thought it isn't a British tradition. Roderic is very patriotic - it's one of the things I love about him.

I have mentioned here before that we didn't mark Halloween at all when I was growing up. We were aware of it and were a little scared that it was supposed to be the night when the ghosts roamed the earth, but our real celebration was Guy Fawkes Night on 5th November and all our family activities and traditions were all centred around that. The observance of Halloween in our part of Britain only started about ten years ago. I remember taking my eldest daughter (now 15) trick-or-treating for the first time, and having to explain to some of the neighbours that they were supposed to give her a treat, not the other way around.

However, yesterday I learned that observing Halloween by putting candles inside hollowed-out root vegetables and taking children door-to-door asking for treats is a British Isles tradition after all, having originated with the Celts in Ireland and Scotland. Even the name "Halloween" is a Scottish corruption of "All Hallows Ev'n" and for centuries there it has been traditional to carve neeps (turnips), and for children to go "guising" (dressing in disguise and asking for coins) and/or "souling"; visiting homes asking for gifts of fruit in return for prayers for the souls of the dead. It seems that Scottish and Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, and American TV brought it all the way back to England where it is doing its best to oust Guy Fawkes night as the big festival of the Autumn.

We usually assume that traditions are deeply rooted in history, but in fact it only takes a few short years, or a generation, to start a tradition. Roderic pointed out to me that fish and chips is the British traditional national dish, but potatoes were only introduced to these islands in the sixteenth century. So that tradition is less than 500 years old. And already here, with Halloween still relatively new and unpopular, it seems that homes which are happy to entertain trick-or-treaters are displaying a lighted pumpkin outside, and somehow we all know not to knock on those that don't. I don't remember that from last year. The tradition is already developing.

Sadly, I haven't seen anyone asking for "A penny for the Guy" for years.

Our family has its own traditions. We have fast food every Monday night as part of Family Home Evening. We put up the Christmas tree on the first Sunday in December. We celebrate birthdays by decorating the dining room overnight and putting all the presents on the table. Little things, but like other traditions they can really help make us feel part of something special. A tradition doesn't need to be old to be important, or enjoyable, it just has to be something which we associate with the remembrance of something bigger.

Monday, November 1, 2010

God's Tapestry

This past month has been a blur in our neck of the woods. So many challenging trials are taking place all around me. A couple of those have had quite an impact on my own life.

I've served as the YW president in our ward for nearly 5 years. In that time, I've grown close to the young women that I serve. A month ago, one of my Laurels was involved in a horrible car accident.

My husband and I hurried to the hospital as soon as we learned the news. Samantha was in ER, still unconscious. As I'm also a visiting teacher to Samantha's mother, I spent some time trying to offer comfort as we all prayed that Sam would wake up.

Sam didn't regain consciousness and it was decided that she would be flown by Life-Flight to a hospital in Salt Lake City. However, the weather was nasty that night and fate had other plans. Instead of taking Sam to Salt Lake, the helicopter flew her to the hospital in Idaho Falls, where she has been ever since.

It was a tough few days in the neighborhood. The accident had taken place on a Thursday afternoon. That Sunday she was still in a coma. I had to face a room full of grieving young women and didn't know quite how to handle things. Our Father in heaven did, however. After a heartfelt prayer, an inspired idea popped into my mind. We would make a cassette tape for Sam, one that would contain messages of love from all of the girls and YW leaders.

As we made the tape that Sunday morning, we decided to include a few musical numbers since Sam loves music and she was our main pianist in the YW realm. We saw a tiny miracle take place during YW as tearful frowns turned into hopeful smiles. Making that tape for Samantha was healing for us all.

We were able to get the tape to Sam's family two days later, and it was transferred to the hospital in Idaho Falls. We were later told that Sam had tapped her foot in time to the music as it had been played, and she had moved around in her bed during the messages. Still unconscious, Sam's reaction to the tape gave us hope that she would eventually wake from the coma.

We've seen several miracles with Sam the past few weeks. Prayers have indeed been answered. Despite the brain shearing injury Samantha sustained, she finally woke up, and she is recovering at an amazing rate. She is now in the rehab center of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, making impressive progress each day. You can see daily updates on this link: Sam's Blogsite

Every bone in Samantha's body should have been broken in that accident. Aside from the brain injury, she was fine. That in and of itself is amazing, and a testament to how watched over she really was.

My husband and I stopped in for a quick visit at the hospital in Idaho Falls this past week. It was heartwarming to see Sam's smile, and to hear her call my name. Though she has a ways to go toward a complete recovery, an inner light radiates from her eyes, indicating she is determined to win this battle.

How grateful we are that the Lord is truly at the helm. We have to put our trust in Him, especially when things spiral out of our control. Though life's trials continue, we know that things generally work out for the best. We can't see the entire picture now, but someday it will all make sense.

Along those lines, I will close with a favorite poem that pretty well sums things up:

Written by B.M. Franklin (1882-1965)

My life is just a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaves so skillfully.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reasons why-

The dark threads are as needful,
In The Weaver’s skillful hands
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.