Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Gift of Giving

My sister is really good at the Christmas gift thing. One year she made us a picnic quilt made out of old jeans. Another year she gave me some of her canning surplus. Beans, peaches, applesauce, etc, etc. Another year she gave us a personalized sign for our theater room. She's very creative. And thoughtful.

She does this with her own kids as well. The kids pick a sibling and they have to make something as a gift. I thought this was a great idea and so one year about seven years ago I decided we would try that. Our oldest was ten. Dan ended up spending about two weeks locked in the freezing cold garage with all four of our kids. (One or two at a time). This didn't work so well. It was a good idea, but maybe we had started too late. Or maybe Dan was overzealous to think he should "help" the kids build some great bird feeder or whatever they were working on. Or maybe we had too many kids. Anyway-- we kind of fell apart after that. It is sooo much easier to take the kids to the store and have them pick a gift for their sibling. Especially if you're sneaky and you suggest one of the smaller items on your list. Hey, everybody wins! And whats the point of being thoughtful for thoughtful's sake anyway!

Well, I think there's a great lesson in being thoughtful. This year  it just sort of happened without being forced upon anyone. Here's how it started:

Jake didn't know what to get Zach. We were wandering around Wal-Mart. I know, you know how I feel about that place, but it is a necessary evil sometimes. Anyway, we passed some BYU fabric and I got the great idea that Jake could make him a quilt. Jake loved the idea  so we quickly purchased all the fuzzy fleece fabric they had. I wasn't sure how this would really be accomplished being that Jake is ten years old, but I figured even if he did a little work on it, it would still feel like it had come from him. So we set up my grandma's old quilting frames in my bedroom, announced that code secret Santa operation was now in service and that NOBODY named Zach could enter my room. It was hard work. Jake had trouble just pulling the needle through the fabric. His fingers got sore. We remedied that with one of Dad's trusty socks. It helped quite a bit. Macy joined in the fun and caught on to the 'up and then down and through the hole' faster than I did when I first learned to tie a quilt. We watched Psych the musical, got distracted, got drinks of water, exchanged needles in hopes that the other needle would be easier (which it never was) and then eventually tied the quilt, sewed the edges, and then wrapped it up and placed it under the tree. You've never seen a kid so excited to give a gift. 

In this same spirit, Macy has placed a sign on the library door that condemns anyone but her from entering. "Christmas presents at work" it says. Then I got a call from Dan and Zach. Zach wants to knit Macy a scarf for Christmas. How does one do that?" They asked. "Get a book and some cool yarn." I answered. Zach has locked himself in his bedroom the last two nights. He hasn't even asked for help, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a call for guidance soon. Maybe? Ellie liked the blanket idea so much she got some fabric and made a throw for her brother Chase. She spent two days locked in her bedroom. This one is tied on the edges and doesn't need the quilt frames. She brought it into my room last night with great dramatic expression, and announced, "It's FINALLY done!" I'm very proud of them. I'm most proud of them for deciding on their own to be more thoughtful in their gift choices. Sometimes I feel like we are just going through the motions of trying to be good even though we don't really feel it or know why and I think that's okay. You have to start somewhere. Then somewhere down the way we stop trying to look good and we start being. I think that is what life is all about.

I have a long way to go. We are promised that blessings come after a trial of our faith. So I will keep trying to be good in hopes that one day it will all pay off. In the meantime I'm going to put some lotion on my very red and sore fingertips. (Quilters will understand).

Do you have a thoughtful gift story? How about a disaster gift story? I want to hear it. Leave a comment below. Or don't. Whatever. :-) Smiley face!

Christmas Songs Michael Buble Full Album

The Christmas Light within

My thoughts on Christmas

Last night as I drove home, my son and daughter asked what time it was. 

"Seven o'clock" I answered systematically.

"But it's so dark. It feels like midnight." my exaggerators expelled. 

It did seem late. And dark. And cold. But through the darkness a far off hill twinkled a bright red and green or pure white. Large  lamp posts illuminated the black road ahead, and with the help of my headlights, there was enough light to guide us safely towards home. I felt thankful.  I felt even greater joy as we pulled into our neighborhood and saw the trees and yards and houses I passed were covered in tiny sparkling colorful lights as if to welcome us home. I wanted to say thank you to each house. Despite the chilly temperatures I felt warmth.

Light in the darkness. 

There is an old proverb that says "It is always darkest before the dawn." I like this saying, but I think it can be misleading. Yes, in the midst of unhappiness, or painful trials, there is hope for a happier time in the future, but we don't have to wait for the dawn. We can chose to  remain in darkness or to surround ourselves with warmth and light. You can be in the blackest cave where there is not one spec of light--you can't see your hand next to your eye no matter how hard you strain--and if you light a small candle, or even turn on a dull flashlight the darkness is swallowed up in illumination. This power is a gift from Him. And we each have it.

As I drove I thought how fitting, and not altogether coincidental, that we celebrate Christmas--the birth of the Savior of the world--during the darkest and coldest time of year. The history of why early Christians adopted this time is complex, and in some ways controversial as there wasn't YouTube or google back in 300 AD to give us reliable information. I'm kidding somewhat there, by the way. But this I know: as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, we as human beings are compelled to light a candle, decorate a fir tree, sing a carol, fill our yard and homes with ten thousand lights, visit the sick and the affirm, serve our neighbors, wish a total stranger a good day and a Merry Christmas, and finally, exchange gifts with loved ones as if to say there is hope for a brighter, warmer, happier future. One that includes you. It's a beautiful thing. I love Christmas. I love the light that comes from Him and shines through us.

I love people. I love to drive around and look at the lights. I love to see that my neighbors have chosen to light a candle in a window on a dark December night or decorate a tree or start a fire (in the fireplace of course) or sing a song, share a gift, do a good deed for someone. This is how we light our dark nights. This is how we spread hope for a brighter dawn. This is how we celebrate. 

This is how we spread the story of a tiny babe who came to save us all. This is how we usher in the dawn.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The X in eXtra

I spent a few days last month being an extra on the BYUTV series, Granite Flats. It was super fun.

Okay, let's be honest, when I say "super", I mean it was sort of eXcruciating, really.

Not the eXcellent movie star moment that you would imagine.

And when I say "fun" It was really cold, boring, cold, a waste of my time, and did I mention cold? I get it. I do. An extra is just that. It's like playing Russian roulette, you maybe will-- or you maybe won't get picked. Or better yet, it's like that game on Toy Story with The clawww. "You've been chosen," we all say in awe as  the other nurse is whisked away to the warmth and lights and love of a studio set. But after twelve hours sitting in a cold warehouse and not being used even once, you have to ask yourself, "Self, is this the best use of your time?" And I've come to the conclusion that, No. It's not. Anyway, it wasn't all bad. The upturn was lunch. Now that was eXcellent! And by that I mean, after three days on set I gained five pounds.

Just in case you are imagination deprived, here's a math equation to help you understand. 11 hours sitting on my butt shivering + sneaking candy from the candy cart during every potty break + eating a wonderful big lunch with a dessert even after my five candy bars = five additional pounds. Muy mal!

 But on the upside (see how I said upside, instead of upturn? I'm so versatile) I met some interesting people, got to dress up like a nurse, and might-- just might-- get 1.3 seconds of screen time. And I got a small paycheck. Now we can have Christmas. I love being an actor!

Gotta go be an extra on the next BYU television program called, "How many candy bars can you stuff
in your coat pocket, fool?"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blue October - "Fear" Official Lyric Video

Post Bully Post--

Almost immediately after posting about my bullying experiences I regretted it. I have never liked rehashing the negative things that happen in my life as I figure every one has enough of that in their own lives that they don't need or want to hear about mine. But I left it. And as several weeks have past, and I have heard from numerous people, I am happy I went ahead with it. Surprisingly, many used my post as a spring board for a family discussion on bullying.  To know that several families read my blog to their children and then had a discussion about bullying, makes it, (my embarrassment at sharing this less than stellar portion of my life) all worthwhile. I do hope it makes kids think that when they are in that moment watching someone be picked on they don't just say to themselves, "boy, I'm glad they aren't calling me names like that." but they stick up for the one being bullied.  I did have one comment from someone close to me that made it seem I might have done something to 'provoke' these girls. That in itself is hurtful, but typical of people who don't understand how bullying works. I could have breathed wrong and that would have been enough to justify their actions. I would never assume that someone being bullied deserved it. I'm sure that nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you've been bullied yourself, I hope my words gave you hope for a brighter future in spite of others actions. Life is good. Life is beautiful. Let me be clear. I have lived a very happy life. I have a wonderful husband and great kids. Time does heal a lot of wounds and  helps  lesson the pain of the wounds that never heal.

People are resilient. I am resilient. And today 'I don't have to fall apart or be afraid or let the damage consume me or the shadows see through me.' Thanks Blue October for reaching my soul today. Hope you enjoy :-) Have a great week friends.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bullying and Silence. One and the same.

There has been a lot of publicity about the coach that suspended his players for eight days for bullying at Union High School in Roosevelt Utah. It even made national news. If you think about it, eight days doesn't seem that long for bullying that could potentially result in life long self-esteem issues, yet in our world, that kind of behavior (bullying), is too often ignored or explained away as "teenagers being teenagers". So when coach Labrum put his foot down and  suspended not only the guilty players, but the whole team, the nation took notice.

I took notice as well.

Why? It isn't the sacrifice of football games that caught my attention. It is because, as he explained it, 'If you stand by and do nothing, you are as guilty as those who do the name calling.' That was what surprised me the most. I especially like the quote he asked his boys to memorize:

“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece — by thought, by choice, courage, and determination.”

This is a deeply personal issue for me. It is not something I have shared with many people or even like to talk about, but it feels like the time has come to stand up and share my story. It  happened twenty-five years ago in high school. I was bullied by two different groups of girls. I should be over it. I should have forgiven those girls, I shouldn't even talk about it or bring it up now, right?

But here is the ugly truth about bullying. It doesn't just go away when the girls who "pretended" to run you over have added stretch marks, children, and mortgages, and have seemingly forgotten all about their thoughtless debauchery.  If not dealt with, the affects of being bullied can stick with you like a bad case of meatloaf and affect your self-worth for years and years.

I had a very happy childhood, good friends, and happy family memories. Coming from a family of nine, we lived humbly but happily, in a 1800 sq. ft home with a one car garage up until I was in the fifth grade. Then we moved two houses over and doubled the house and garage size, but  still lived relatively modestly by today's standards. When I entered South Fremont High School in the tiny town of St. Anthony, Idaho in the fall of 1988, I was popular, cute, was a freshman cheerleader, and was ready to conquer the world. If I had a fault, it was that I was a bit naive to the world of high school and its many entrappings and believed people would like me for me.

School hadn't been in session long when I sensed mixed signals by the older classmates. Ugly stares seemed to meet me at every turn. I had no  idea why, except, maybe  my nose wasn't perfect, or my hair too frizzy or my butt too wide. I had no idea. One night a group of freshman students, including myself, drove to a potato cellar where the junior class was busily working on their homecoming float. I remember walking in, not feeling bashful, as I recognized several kids from my neighborhood and thought they would be happy to welcome us. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl  I didn't know, but had seen before in the halls coming swiftly for me like an escaped gorilla. She had always appeared very happy, like when she laughed (loudly, I might add) her eyes squinted nearly shut in pure delight and she seemed to be very well liked. At the same time, she might have been able to bench press her boyfriend if she needed to. So you get the idea; I wasn't sure what to make of her. But here she came, stomping towards me, her arm outstretched, her finger pointed in my direction. "You!!" she had yelled. I knew I was in trouble. I took a step back, but it was too late. She grabbed me by the wrists and  started swinging me around in a circle like I was a limp doll. I fell to the ground and tried to fight her off me. My legs kicked up a cloud of dust. The taste of sharp dirt was strong in my mouth.

As I struggled with her I wondered why someone wasn't trying to stop this insane girl from tearing me from limb to limb. I don't even know if I knew her name. I remember yelling out, "Why do you hate me?" and she sneered back sinister-like, "Because, you're a wench!"   I remember hearing some laughter. It was as if my world had turned upside down. These people who had seemed so nice, who I would have believed would save me if I needed saving, were watching this whole scene in interest. Not even my Freshman friends did anything. Finally a teacher came  and pulled us apart. I left, shaken, dusty and confused. I went to the car and waited for the others. One of my friends whispered, "Why do they hate you so bad?" I could only shake my head as I wiped  embarrassed and dusty tears away. I had no answer, yet at the same time I was wondering, "Why didn't you stop them?"

Nominated for Freshman Homecoming Royalty the day after the "incident"
The next day I was called to the principals office. Three or four of the girls involved were sitting there glaring at me. I had not told on them, but the damage was done. The principal, bless his heart, didn't understand the situation. He thought we were friends who had gotten in an argument. It was the biggest waste of fifteen minutes I had experienced in a principals office ever. The bullying only grew worse after that.  I kept it quiet, not wanting a repeat of the soft lecture we had all gotten from Mr. Parker. I was nearly run over, flipped off, called names, had doors slammed in my face, or pushed into the wall and called more names by a whole herd of sophomore and junior girls. It got to a point that I avoided the main hall where upperclassman sat on benches and watched people walk by. I never sat on those benches. I would walk outside to get to the other end of the hall rather than have to  hear them heckle me. I hated those benches and never sat there. Not even my senior year except maybe once when someone insisted I sit by them.

high school can be such a lonely place
This continued into my junior year. Though the Junior girls had moved on, the girls who had bullied me as sophomores were now seniors. You'd think they would have  found other girls to pester, but I must have been too irresistible. It all came to a head near the end of my junior year. I was running for cheer queen. Let's clairify-- I didn't want to run-- I'd been voted in to run. I knew my fragile self-esteem was in serious jeopardy with any sort of election, but I'm not usually a quitter so I didn't drop out.

We were in the middle of an assembly. I believe we were doing the gong show and I was supposed to sing a song as well as I could and then they would "gong" me off. It was supposed to be a joke. I was supposed to sing well, and still be taken off. Funny, right? I knew it was going to be fodder for the felines, but I did it anyway. Sure enough, I began to sing. I don't know who it was, but I do know that most of it came  from girls in the first and second rows. (The mighty Seniors). Some of it came from a few guys. The sounds of bleeting sheep, of  vomiting, and sequential giggling was all I could hear as I sang. I tried to ignore it, but it was the final straw in a three year history of abuse from these otherwise popular, beautiful, well-liked girls. I ran off the stage. My heart felt crushed, broken, and hopeless. I had reached a tipping point and I was falling through shattering glass. Devastated is an understatement.  The skit wasn't over. We were supposed to go running back on the stage, but I was done. Done with everything. Including life. I slipped into a dark deserted instrument room, crumpled to the floor, and cried three years worth of tears in complete darkness, feeling more alone and worthless than I had ever felt before. I wanted to die. I don't know how the skit ended, or if anyone noticed I was missing. Eventually the bell rang. Time for lunch. I slowly walked home knowing in that moment that I wasn't going to win, and I was just glad it was almost over.

Besides wondering why these girls couldn't leave me alone, I wondered more earnestly, where my friends were. I knew that in each instance it had only been a handful of girls yet it felt like the whole school was against me. It felt that way because while these few individuals called me names, prank phone called me, pushed past me in the hall, drove circles around me, etc, there were always dozens of bystanders watching, and never once did any of them, including my best friends, come to my rescue and tell those girls off. Ever. In three years, (and believe it or not, it even continued briefly during my first year of college by one particular girl), I never had anyone stop this bullying. No one, that I am aware of, called these girls out while they were doing it or stood up for me  The teacher that witnessed it first hand only called all of us to the principals office, like I was a guilty participant instead of an innocent victim. And these aren't bad people. I have good friends. The teacher is now the principal. He is a good man. But people have long looked the other way when it comes to bullying, giving it the label of teen aged oats to be sown. Or harmless pranks.

In spite of the darkness, there were glimmers of hope. I did have one of the girls that wasn't actively participating, but was a silent observer, come up to me after the girls had done something in the locker room and actually apologize for her friends behavior, stating that she didn't know why they were so mean to me. Just her acknowledging that it was happening, and that it didn't make sense, and that she was sorry for her friends actions meant the world to me. I never forgot her and if she is reading this, I want her to know how desperately I needed her words of apology and sympathy more than she could have ever known. Thank you for standing up for what is right.

It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do. Moliere

The bullying I experienced was small potatoes compared to what others have gone through, but the emotional drain it had on me has, unfortunately, affected every aspect of my life. I have felt as if I must prove myself, and conquer the inconsequential opinions, of others while at the same time doubting I am of worth anyway. Sometimes these experiences make us stronger, they give us more drive to be successful. Maybe at some point in my life I will thank these people, but I doubt it. I wonder what the Becky of yesterday could have done with her life if she hadn't been squashed to nothing by those girls in high school. It is unfortunate that I have spent many years trying to "get over" the damaging affects of their actions.

I worry about my own kids, not just that they might be bullied at some point, but even more dangerous in my eyes, that they might be silent observers. For that is the true downfall of society. People who know better but do nothing. I have tried to never be that person. More than once I have gotten in the middle of things if I have felt someone was being victimized or  unfairly judged. I even tried to break up a fist fight once. By the way, I wouldn't recommend it. Not when you are half their stature and weight. I am a loyal friend. I will stand up for you to anyone at any time. I am not afraid of the backlash of others opinions, though I am trying to learn to be more diplomatic than I have been in the past. If you know me, you might recognize this in me and maybe now you might understand why I do what I do.

Bad things happen. Why did those girls hate me? I have an idea, but it's only an idea. In the end we can't control other's actions, we can only control our own. It doesn't always make things hurt less, but it does give us a recipe for how we should behave. This is why I share my story. To help make us all aware that it is our responsibility to stand up for those who are too weak to stand.

And just like Napoleon Dynamite,  if and when you ever need me, I've got your back.

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind. Think big anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack if you help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you've got anyway. 

Dr. Kent M. Keith

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Favorites: Classic Romance movies

I received two new movies in the mail yesterday. I wouldn't say they were new, actually, they are quite old, but two that I don't own so they are new to me. The first is one of my favorites, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, titled, Rebecca. Yes, the old Hitchcock favorite, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. I think it was after reading Rebecca that I seriously wanted to write my own stories, though I never got too serious until a few years ago. I remember reading this book, no rather, engulfing this book, sometime in high school and then soon after watching it on AMC, as that was what I usually did on Friday night. (Not your typical teenager. But that isn't important, and more suitable for another post.)
 I absolutely love this book and nearly as much love the movie, though I get tired of Joan being so weak and wishy washy. I like strong female characters like Scarlet and Elizabeth Bennett, not women who won't speak up! And other than creepy Mrs. Danvers, I find everything else about this movie, even the twist at the end, delightful. The other movie I bought, Portrait of Jennie, was recommended to me as research for my newest WIP (work in progress). I haven't seen it yet, so I'll let you know.

These two movies got me thinking about all of my favorites. I have so many, can I really list them in order? Do I put genre lists together? For a girl that struggles to choose what shoes to wear, I can't bear to rate my favorite movies as they all have something that I love, but for different reasons. It's like your children. They come so different. One might be good at sports, but struggle in English while another might make friends easily, but struggle with procrastination. You get the idea. So, I've decided to take it by Genre. We'll hit classic romance today, because I think I've already mentioned two and then next week I'll move on to my favorite 80's movies (Some Kind of Wonderful) Sorry-- let the cat out of the bag already-- and then I'll move on to action and so forth.

So here's my top five--six--I mean seven--I mean nine!

1. Somewhere in Time.

“The man of my dreams is almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of man each woman dreams of in her most secret and deepest part of her heart. I could almost see him now before me. What would I say to him if he were really here? Forgive me, I've never known this feeling. I've lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder that I fail to recognize it? You brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way I can tell you how my life has changed? Anyway at all, to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There's so much to say-- and I can't find the words-- except for these... I love you. That is what I would say to him if he were really here. ” 
― Richard Matheson

Besides the handsome Christopher Reeves, and gorgeous Jane Seymour, this storyline gets me every time! When the old lady touches Richard Collier's shoulder and drops the pocket watch in his hand and says in an urgent whisper, "Come back to me." Oh! Love it! It just get's better from there. I'd say this movie has become a bit of a cult classic for it's fans.

2. Pride & Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” 
― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice

I have to go with the six hour version on this one, though I know a lot of men and a few women that would differ. I'm not anti Kira Knightly or Matthew McFadden, but Colin Firth nails Mr. Darcy's arrogance and Pride and dashing good  looks splendidly. I watch it at least once a year. Last year my 12 year old daughter watched it with me.  She was on the edge of her seat and giggling whenever Mr. Darcy came into a room. It was so fun to see her catch the addiction.

3. Little Dorrit

John Chivery: I had got over it. I had! I might never thought of it again. I may not be a gentleman, but I am a man. Why do you think I found this room for you that you'd like and carried up the things for you when I really felt like knockin' you down? Do you think I did it for your own sake? I didn't do it for you! I did it for her!
Arthur Clennam: For who?
John Chivery: For Amy! Because she loves you!
Arthur Clennam: [Shocked] What?
John Chivery: Oh, oh! How can you say you don't know it? Anyone with eyes could see it! These walls know it! You're so lofty, so far above the rest of us, you don't even notice it. All the time I was breakin' my heart over her, she was breakin' her's over you!

An unusual pick for me seeing this movie is fairly new, but comes from Charles Dickens book of the same title and has sometimes been called long and confusing. The movie provides great chemistry between Matthew McFadden who plays Arthur and Claire Foy who plays Amy Dorrit. Matthew  is amazing in this movie. I absolutely love him even if he is a unaware of Amy's ardent affections for him for most of the movie. The triangle between Amy, Matthew, and her childhood mate, John, is classic. Fun side note if you see the movie-- when it shows the books of prisoners, the name of Charles Dicken's father is listed above Amy Dorrit's father's name. The story is Charles Dicken's father spent some time in a debtors prison himself.

4. Count of Monte Cristo

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered                               on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you” 
― Alexandre DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo

While not strictly a romance, it is one of the most romantic stories ever told. I like the movie version better because I am a fan of happy endings. Unfortunately  when you combine revenge, greed, and unrequited love, there is going to be a tragedy befalling someone. Stick with the movie if you are a romance fan. If not, read the book. Its an amazing piece of literature.

5. Princess Bride

Buttercup: You can die too for all I care.
[she pushes him down a high hill]
Man in Black: AS... YOU... WISH.
Buttercup: Oh, my sweet Westley! What have I done?

This is probably the best fairy tale romance ever. Sometimes when I watch this classic the thought that they just don't make them like this  always runs through my head. My favorite lines? Too many to count. But I think my favorite romantic line has to be, "As you wish." sigh...

6. Gone With the Wind

“No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” 
― Margaret MitchellGone with the Wind

First off, I love Scarlet. She is strong and full of spit and fire, yet weak and completely flawed in an endearing way. The tragedy in this movie is she spends the whole time wanting someone she would not have really been happy with if she had actually had the opportunity to have him. Rhett is her perfect match yet she is always yearning for weak and feeble-minded Ashley. I get it, but it drives me crazy at the end. Hello, It's Rhett Butler, woman! Open your eyes.


7. Rebecca

              " You wouldn't think she'd been gone so long, would you? Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor, I fancy I hear her just behind me. That quick light step, I couldn't mistake it anywhere. It's not only in this room, it's in all the rooms in the house. I can almost hear it now."

As mentioned above, I love this movie, but would probably put it under suspense rather than romance, as I find the romance in this movie rather lacking. Anybody for a little cheek rubbing? That always get's my fire going. Fun side note you may not have noticed. The main characters name is never mentioned. We hear so much about the dead first wife Rebecca, but we never know her name as her husband always calls her pet names like darling, sweetheart, dear, etc, etc, etc. If I could give her a name I'd name her Janice. She just seems like a Janice to me.

8/9 (This is getting long, so I'm going to combine two.) Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I love the newest versions of both. Here are a few pics.

"Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!” 
― Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre
“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” 
― Emily BrontëWuthering Heights               

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Puppy love and other sorts of animal admirations...

I saw a couple really funny things on my run the other day. The first was a donkey and goat. They were separated by a fence, but the goat was standing with his hooves stretched up to the donkey's neck in an embrace and the donkey's head was nuzzled against the goat's head. Unfortunately, by the time I pulled my camera/phone out they knew they'd been caught hugging, the goat quickly dropped to the ground, and the donkey took a step back. Then they stood looking in opposite directions as if to say,
                   "We weren't just hugging right there. That thing you think you saw?
                    Didn't happen. He was just scratching the itch I had on my nose."
                  "Okay...we were hugging! But please don't tell the other goats and donkeys.
                    It could totally ruin our reputations."

                    Yep. It was just like that. Super funny.

This isn't the picture. Apparently it got deleted from my phone, but this is a good one too. Who knew that different animals could not only tolerate each other, but actually love each other. I had a friend who put his chickens and bunny rabbits together in hopes of getting some Easter eggs out of the deal. Don't know if it's worked out for them yet, but it's a pretty good idea. I'll let you know if any of their Easter bunnies lay some eggs.

 The second funny of the day was these two dogs frolicking down the path, like they'd been out all night together and were experiencing a sort of lovers high in the cool morning hours. Tongues out, shoulders bumping, smiles on their faces. It was very sweet.  I guess love was just in the air that day. And I ran 6 miles. The longest run since about, oh...last June. :-) Good day for everybody.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beautiful day

It's a Beautiful Day!

Today was the first day I've ran outside since December. It felt awesome! It reminded me that this is why I run. To be outside, to hear the birds, to listen to the music. To feel the warm sun on my skin.

And of course, to get that runners high. Yes! We might have had an Idaho winter, but we are back to a Utah spring, and I am very happy about that. I almost wore shorts today. It felt a little anxious. I'll give it one more day.

I also felt great for another reason. I haven't mentioned this to too many people, but I think it would be unjust  to keep the knowledge that I've learned to myself. You see, last September, my friend, Lynette asked me to take a nutrient class with her. To be honest I really didn't want to.  I liked my brownies and cookies and I knew that if I took this class they would tell me to cut out the sugar and bread and all the things I liked. I didn't want to make a change. Plus, I was worried about failing. I've never done a "diet". In fact, I am against dieting in most circumstances. But she persisted and I finally gave in.

The class turned out to be amazing and insightful. Our instructor, Nancy, has become like a mother to us. She still stops me in the gym to see how I am doing, and to let me know how good I look. Why don't we live the way we were all taught growing up? Lots of vegetables, a little meat, a little starch. Protein and fruit for snacks and lots and lots of water. It's all about keeping your metabolism cranked. That's it. Well, not quite it, but that's the basics. Portion sizes and the types of food you eat are equally important.

For the first two months I cut out almost all my sugar and found substitutes like agave and Stevia so I could still have a cookie once in a while. I cut out butter and mayo and ranch dressing. I found good substitutes like Coconut oil for butter and yummy vinaigrettes with half the calories for my salads and even for my sandwiches.  I made sure I was getting enough protein, especially after working out, and started making "The green drink" which is one of my favorite drinks now, though if you are going to make it be sure to add something sweet like pineapple!!! And the most difficult change; I drank lots of water.  When I lost the first pound I thought it was just water weight. Then the next pound, I thought was just chance. It wasn't until I lost 5 pounds that I began to think this thing actually worked. I hadn't even set a goal. I just hoped to learn to eat better. It worked! To date I've lost 14 pounds. I don't know if I'll lose anymore, but I thought that at ten pounds so who knows.

Besides feeling better, (I had a lot of stomach aches before, my mom thinks were connected to my gallbladder), I can also run faster. I have more stamina and more air. And the rotten first mile, where it felt like I was burning out the crap that I ate the day before, is now a thing of the past.  The other thing about eating healthier is the meals are simple. Cutting out all the fats and mayo and all the other junk leaves you preparing simpler meals. They are more tasteful too. One of my favorite side dishes is cut up zucchini and squash baked in the oven for twenty minutes with a little olive oil and  mozzarella cheese. Add a little green pepper and onion and you will be amazed at how good it tastes. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

I used to joke that skinny doesn't feel better than chocolate tastes. But I've changed my mind. I do love dark chocolate. Especially the dark chocolate covered almonds at Costco. Yum! But it actually does feel better to know  that you are doing all  you can to live the most ideal life possible. Things will still happen, but  I am going to enjoy it more now that I feel better.

So that's it.  But there is one snag. This has to be a life change. I've never seen anyone keep the weight off by going off a diet. There was a reason they were on that diet. Yes, it's hard to keep  up when you're with family or on vacation. It's easy to slide back into bad habits. I know that the only way to keep it off is to make healthy eating a habit. It's the 80/20 rule. If you will eat like I mentioned above 80 percent of the time, then your body will take care of the other 20 percent. So you can still have the things you love...once in a while. And not too many. :) I had to remind myself of that when the girl scout cookies arrived the other day. Much harder than I had hoped.

Anyway, that's it. I feel good. I had a great run today, and now I think I'll go have a handful of chocolate covered almonds for my mid day snack. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Lady With A Smile

There was a lady at the gym with the most infectious smile. She was tiny. Probably 75 pounds with her coat on. A Japanese woman that could run, no sprint for  forever! I would watch her sometimes as I waited for a class to begin, or if I was riding a bike. Those skinny legs spun around so fast I thought I would get dizzy.  I don't think she ever broke a sweat. She was there all the time. At least every time I was there. She was quite famous. I mean, when you see someone sprinting on a treadmill for twenty minutes it catches your attention. I didn't know her name, but she always greeted me with a smile. At first I thought she was smiling at the person behind me because I didn't know her, and, why on earth would she be smiling at me? Then I realized, that she was that way with everyone. It didn't matter if she knew your name. She was happy to see you.

I go to the gym to work out. I rarely socialize and few people would know me. I never minded this before. I liked it that way, actually. I have a lot to do and I want to get in and out without making a scene, check that box, and get on with my day. Until yesterday. That was when I went to the gym and learned that this sweet lady had died. I learned  that behind that big smile was a woman suffering with a lot of pain and  struggling with personal trials so large they seemed overwhelming. My heart broke for her. My heart broke for her family. And yes, beyond that, my heart broke for all of us that will not have that smile greeting us as we step into class, or climb onto a treadmill anymore.

Today, I found myself looking for her. Wanting to see her smile. I realized how much it had meant to me and that I never really reciprocated her kindness. In my selfish ways, I seldom started up a conversation, even as she was pleading with her eyes for someone to talk to her. I never even asked her name. A few weeks ago she asked to trade  places in Zumba because she hadn't been to that class for a while and wanted to follow me. I laughed and assured her I would only lead her astray. I asked where she'd been and she informed me that she had gotten hurt and this was her first week back. I said I was sorry to hear it but was glad she was back. That was as far as our conversation went.

So back to today. She wasn't there. She wasn't on the treadmill, or standing beside me in class. I find myself looking for her. Expecting to walk in a room and be met by her beautiful smile. Half way through class I noticed something. There, next to me,  in the very middle of the room, was an empty spot. This was unusual because the class was full. To the rim. If you've been to body pump you'll know what I mean. Like people fight to get a spot. And yet, there beside me  was this gaping hole. I wondered if she knew that she was missed, that there was  indeed a spot just for her. Could she hear my thoughts and those of half the class, as her absence was jolting to so many  people? Did she know that we did love her?

I guess I just want to say that life is hard. But it is also fragile. When it gets really unbearable we have to put our heads down and fight to get through it. It reminds me of the weight class today. My legs were shaking and I just wanted to quit, and the lady teaching the class yelled over our heads, "How bad do you want this? How bad do you want this!!!" Well, I want it... bad. So, I put my head down and finished the work out because I want this! I want this life with all the pain and disappointment and hurt and all the crap that gets thrown at us. I want this life where nothing comes easy and you have to work really hard to get what you want, and even then you may not get it. Because it may not be God's plan for you.

Because, beyond the struggle, and the fight, and the pain, and blood and sweat, there is a beautiful sunrise to be seen; an owl crossing your path as the dawn begins. It is your child hugging you and kissing your cheek and telling you that you are the best mom in the world. It is  love and jokes and funny stories that make your stomach hurt and your eyes to tear from laughing. It is the brush of someone's hand wiping your hurt away. A hug, a cuddle, a passionate kiss from your lover. It is crossing the finish line of a race, and the bite of cherry pie you've been anticipating for months. It is worth it. All of it. Remember, after the pain, there is a cool down: a child's pose, a brief respite, and eventually, toned muscles and a healthy heart. And that makes everything else bearable. As our instructor says, "We're making diamonds out of coal." We are chunks of coal in desperate need of reshaping, our trials are the very thing that helps in this process and in the end we will have our reward, diamonds.

Shine bright, Midori. May heaven be blessed with your eternal smile.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The last few months have been busy. Mostly keeping my head down and writing, though it can be easy to get distracted with things like Christmas, New years, Birthdays. I'm just kidding about the distracted part. It is imperative that we not become so lost in the things we love that we forget the people we love. I often say it is a fine balance, and being a wife and a mother, I am constantly at war with myself as moms usually are.
So I have exciting news!  I buckled down and finished my second novel, Far From Perfect. And today it is available online at Amazon, and next week Barnes and Noble, (I don't know why they can't keep up with Amazon) , and then it will be available at about ten other retailers online. I can't wait!  I love this story! I love the characters of Cass and James. Even though I've never had a drinking problem, I understand her addiction and want her to succeed. And I love James. Love him! So I also want them to get together. I hope you'll feel the same. Here's the link to the book at Amazon. If you haven't read my first novel, The Sand Bar, check it out too! And happy reading!