Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reason? Or Just a Rut?

Most of us are most comfortable moving at an even pace through life.  We tend to get up each morning about the same time and head for bed at about the same time each night.  We talk to pretty much the same people day after day, check the same news sources, prefer a certain chair, and early on we establish a set protocol for getting ourselves ready to face each day, then follow a set pattern of beginning our work, checking our mail, getting the kids off to school, exercising for a certain period of time, eating meals, watching the same television shows, catching up on face book, or accomplishing whatever tasks have become part of our daily routine.  We're creatures of habit.

 A certain amount of routine saves time and brings order to our lives; but sometimes we're just in a rut.  Long ago a teacher advised a group of us to "live until we die." At first that appears to be a nonsense statement, but in truth, it is quite telling.  What is the point of reducing life to a boring repetition of mundane tasks?  We're alive, but are we living? Each day should bring a new discovery, a different perspective, a new realization.  The scriptures tell us God meant for us to have joy.  There may be peace in following a rut, but not much joy.

When I was about fifteen I lived in a house with a circular traffic pattern.  There was a kitchen, then a dining room, followed by a living room, which opened on my parents' bedroom.  Another door from the bedroom led to a tiny hall where we could go upstairs, exit the back door, or return to the kitchen.  The floors were all linoleum and every few days my mother would mop the kitchen, then the dining room, the living-room, the bedroom, the hall, then carry her mop bucket out the back door to dump it. One day I noticed she started with the bedroom and did the circle in reverse.  When I asked her why, she said she just got tired of doing it the same way all of the time and needed a change, besides she noticed spots that needed more attention by viewing them from a different angle. I've thought about that many times over the years and have come to the conclusion she was right.  Change is good.  Change doesn't always have to be the big life changing events.  Even small changes redirect our perspective and require us to think.

I recommend taking a walk with a small child. There's something about walking with a small child that invites a different view of life as the child notices and is excited about every ant or small creature that crosses the sidewalk or path.  Toddlers investigate flowers, weeds and the neighbor's cat. They notice birds.  The world is new and ready to be explored when a child takes an adult's hand and begins a trek down a path so familiar to the adult that he/she no longer actually sees it.

It's all right to enjoy a particular routine, to be comfortable with an established pattern of life, but it is also a good thing to shake up that routine a little bit from time to time.  Take a different street, try a new shampoo, learn a new dance step, read a different genre or try a new author, get an e-reader, taste a food you hated as a child, run instead of walk somewhere, be early for church, go to a different temple, or just do anything that's a little different from the usual pattern.  You can make the big drastic changes, experiment with the things you've always dreamed of doing.  That's good too, but in the little changes we learn about ourselves and are reminded of the reasons we do things one way instead of another.  We pay closer attention to the things that matter to us.  It's in deviating from a habitual pattern that we discover if there's a reason for the pattern we follow, or if we're just in a rut.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The "Eyes" Have it! (Or will get it)

I was driving us somewhere a couple of weeks ago - we were in my car and if Glenn drives he has to adjust the seat, then I have to readjust the seat when I get in next time, so sometimes he just slides into the passenger seat to make it easier. I've had blurry vision for awhile - even got new glasses after just a year with my old ones but it didn't help my far vision. Unfortunately, things are so blurry that I can't read streets signs until I'm right on them. That hasn't been a problem because when I'm in town, I know the streets. When I drive to the temple, it's easy - take the 14 to I-5, then the 405 and exit on Santa Monica Blvd. Turn left at the temple, another left and I'm there. (1 1/2 hours later on a day when traffic is moving!) I can see cars and other objects just fine, even if they are just slightly out of focus, sort of like driving with a dirty windshield. But I had to take a friend to Los Angeles to a hospital in an area I wasn't familiar with, and that's when I decided I might have a slight problem with my vision. Flash back to the trip with my husband - he asked what the street coming up was. I couldn't see it. He could NOT believe I couldn't see it. My far vision has always been superb - I could see things long before he could. All the way home, he kept testing me - can you see that? Can you read that? No. So he made me call my eye doctor immediately and make an appointment. I knew I had cataracts - my doctor had been watching them for a couple of years, but he said they shouldn't be a problem yet. "What is a problem?" I ask. :When it interferes with your life style." "Uh, it is interfering." "Could your husband drive you?" That was too funny! I drive everywhere - all the time! (I'm in the car so much I can get through numerous books on CD every month!) "Then I guess we'd better fix it," the doctor said. That fix will entail a tiny slit in my eye. He will lift the flap up, scoop out the cloudy lens with a tiny vacuum, making sure that he gets all of it, then he will slip a synthetic lens into that space - made by Alcon in Texas. He will drop the flap back over the new lens and it will not even require stitches to heal. I'll sit around all day with a patch on my eye and go in the next morning for him to check his handiwork. Voila - I should be able to see clearly again. I bring this up because I think it happens way too often in our lives. Something gets a tiny bit off-kilter or out of focus and it is such a tiny problem that we adjust to it. It gets worse only in very small increments and we continue to adjust. A child's behavior, a politician's lies, the material we watch on TV. A PG-13 movie that really should have received an R-rating. (I don't watch R movies so I'm very unhappy when they slip something in that shouldn't be there!) Things change so gradually that we don't really notice. We adapt. Socialism comes one tiny change - one executive order at a time. One more program to enslave the populace and make them more dependent on the government. It is definitely time to wake up to the fact that things aren't the way they should be and do something about it. It took my husband to spur me on to the doctor and new vision - (I hope! - I'll report in September after the surgery.) I think I'd better go down to my congressman's office and volunteer my help to stop the progression of socialism in our government. My new vision could help save my life or someone else's. My volunteering might help in our fight to save America. Things are already getting more focused!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Hubby George and I were working on our budget the other night. We were figuring out what money was coming in, what was needed to run the household, what bills we had to pay, and if there was enough left over to take an end of summer road trip. We were conscientious about not stretching ourselves too thin. We wanted to take care of our charitable donations and have some to put into savings. It was an evening of numbers that made my head ache, but, in the end, the effort was well worth it. We felt great that we managed to take care of the necessities and still have a bit for our trip.

I bring this up as a contrast to how our government cannot seem to figure out this common sense approach to finance--you don't spend more than you take in. I ran across an article that I'm going to share with you about how the U.S Government spends "our" money.

A warning before you read: this might give you a headache.

U.S Tax Revenue     $2,170,000,000,000
Federal Budget         $3,820,000,000,000
New Debt                  $1,650,000,000,000
Oustanding debt    $142,710,000,000,000
Recent budget cut     $38,500,000,000

What do you say we take away 8 zeros and pretend this is our household budget?

Annual Family income     $21,700
Money the family spent    $38,200
New debt on credit card   $16,500
Outstanding balance on credit card  $142,710
Total budget cuts    $385

Take two asprin and call your Congressman.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Life is Getting Too Crazy When . . .

I apologize for not posting anything for a few weeks. In my defense (and I'm sure many of you feel the same way) August has been a blur of activity. This past weekend would be a great example of what I'm talking about. In our clan we've survived two funerals, one reunion, and a wedding . . . all in a three day span. And that doesn't include a wedding that took place on my side of the family tree, something we were unable to attend because of everything going on in my husband's family.

So while I was doing quite a balancing act preparing food to take to Kennon's cousins who lost their father this past week, and wrapping a wedding gift . . . and other assorted tasks, I couldn't find the sympathy card for Kennon's cousins. I searched everywhere I could think of . . . then came back to the kitchen table where I was certain I had left it. There sat the wedding gift all nicely wrapped . . . with a card attached . . . and a sick feeling descended. On a nearby counter I spied a wedding card. Groaning, I carefully removed the card attached to the wedding gift, and wallah (Or however you spell that word. At this point in time I don't care.) there was the missing sympathy card. Oy! Most uncool! In my haste, I hadn't noticed which card I was signing. There under the large sentence that said something like, "Our sympathy is with you on this tragic occasion," I had written: "CONGRATULATIONS!" and signed our names with much love and caring. Then I had attached it to the wedding gift.

Wow! That would have been all sorts of awkward. We're laughing about it now, but that was truly a near miss of epic proportion. Sadly, I had to throw away the sympathy card, since there was no way to salvage it. I mean, one doesn't send a message of "CONGRATULATIONS" to people who have lost a loved one. It just isn't done.

This experience did make me realize that I possibly need to slow down a tiny bit, and as a dear cousin is always telling me, "Just breathe!" So what if in one day I had to attend a viewing for a funeral, a wedding reception, and a hot dog roast at a nearby park for a family reunion on Kennon's side of the family. In between all of that, I need to learn to relax and focus on getting my brain cells to work to avoid future embarrassment.

I doubt life will slow down much . . . at all. I'm already looking at everything on the docket for this week and cringing. But I will strive to make time for a little bit of R & R so things don't get so cluttered. Good luck to me I say, but that is my goal. How do the rest of you handle multi-tasking moments? Has anyone else ever sent a sympathy card to a wedding?

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Since the dozen or so writers who joined forces to form this blog site began posting our rambling thoughts, I've tried very hard to post a blog whenever my turn came around.  I nearly missed it this time and this won't be much of a blog I fear.  I'm tired and just a bit blue.  The tired part comes because I've been at the temple the past two days and my bad knees have made the days long and painful.  The blue part is because, you see, today is my little sister's birthday.  She died two years ago and she's been on my mind a lot today. I miss her. Though we fought and competed when we were kids; we were best friends too, and the best friends part of our relationship won out as we grew older.

My computer isn't playing nice tonight.  It keeps dropping the to address on every email I attempt to answer, forcing me to look the addresses up and enter them letter by letter. In addition to answering letters, I've been catching up on a couple of contests I'm involved with.  Go to my blog to check out a bunch of fun contests with book and book-related prizes to bring some sizzle to the end of summer.

I'm half asleep and can't think of anything intelligent (or otherwise) to say.  I promise I'll do better next time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Punctuation is Important!!

My husband dropped this little article on my desk this morning and thought I'd enjoy reading it. Little did he know it would end up being reproduced many times over. My Laurel lesson on Sunday will include it and I thought writers everywhere---as well as job seekers everywhere---should know about this! Tech Industry CEO Kyle Wiens at Harvard Business Review, July 20, 2012 wrote the following: "If you think an apostrophe was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building . . . Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.) if job hopefuls can't distinguish between "to" and "too," their applications go into the bin . . . Grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn't make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can't tell the difference between their, there, and they're . . . If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use "it's," then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with. So even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write. Grammar signifies more than just a person's ability to remember high school English. I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test will also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing---like stocking shelves or labeling parts." Love this man! Granted, we can all make mistakes when we are dashing of a quick e-mail to someone, but those mistakes stand out like a red stain on a white dress! (Especially to writers who are tuned in to that sort of thing.) But what about budding writers who haven't yet discovered how crucially important grammar is to an editor - and to a reader? I'm not sure how we get the word out to our kids to pay attention in English class, but if their livelihood depends on it, I guess we'd better make an all out effort!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Reading

As much as I loved hiking and fishing as a kid, I used to regret the arrival of summer in one way,  not because of the long hours I spent irrigating, weeding, and doing various farm chores, but because in the summer I lost access to the school library. You probably thought I was going to say because of those dreaded summer reading lists.  The truth is I never had a school teacher who gave me a summer reading list. Perhaps that was because I lived in a number of remote rural areas that lacked libraries, but I always read whatever I could get my hands on and I'll always be grateful to the Idaho State Library for mailing books to me every summer as long as I lived in that state and to the school teacher who introduced me to their great program for providing books by mail. I'm grateful too to the neighbor in Montana who signed for me to get a library card in a county where a year residency was required or the signature of a long time resident.

Today it is much easier to get a library card or buy books.  For most of us in America acquiring a library card is easy and there are numerous book stores, both brick and mortar as well as electronic, within easy reach.  Both Deseret Book and Seagull Book have mail order options for customers.  Outside of the Mountain West finding LDS books is a little harder though with the arrival of Kindle and Nook even those outside of the USA can easily and economically buy LDS books. There's another option too, which many readers underestimate.  Many authors offer their own and sometimes each other's books as contest prizes or in exchange for reviews.  Many of these contests are linked.

I've always loved curling up in a shady spot with a good book in the summer. Reviewing new LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine gives me the perfect excuse to do that, but by August the introduction of new fiction seems to slow down until the LDS Booksellers Convention introduces various publishers' new fall lines and as readers shift their focus from books to back-to-school clothing and supplies. This year attention is on the Olympics and squeezing in the last summer hikes, camping trips and boating before summer's end. There might even be more impetus to squeeze in outdoor activities than usual since our weather this year has left us unsure which season to expect when we wake up each morning. However, I suspect there are still a lot of people planning to read this month since many are still leaving on vacations and need a book to read in-flight, on the beach, or just because it's too hot to do anything else. 

Over on LDS Publisher there's a reading contest going on with two books being awarded to winners each day during the month of August. Those entering are asked to start with a list of books he or she plans to read this month. That's a little hard for me to do since most of the books I read are sent to me by publishers or authors to consider for reviews on Meridian and I don't know what they're going to send me. I just finished reading The Most Important Catch by Jaclyn M. Hawkes and have one more to-be-read book, Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson on my Kindle. Traci Abramson and Gregg Luke have new books I'm anxious to get my hands on and a couple of independent authors have notified me they're sending me books, but most of the time I don't know what I'll be reading. That's one of the nice things about this contest, books can be added or deleted as the month goes along. Extra points are awarded for reading any of the sponsors' books or books by any LDS author. I'm a sponsor, but I'm also entering the contest as a reader.  Actually I find the instructions for reporting books read a bit confusing, but hopefully I'll figure it out.  Here's my list, but expect it to grow:

The Most Important Catch by Jaclyn M. Hawkes

Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson

Code Word by Traci Hunter Abramson

Deadly Undertaking by Gregg Luke