Saturday, February 27, 2010
So that this morning when I was awakened at 5:00 am with a tsunami warning, my mind was instantly turned to the need for my Savior, and the promise of peace and calm during chaos.
We are sitting in our 12th floor hotel room in the Marriott at Waikiki Beach. Waiting. Wondering. Hopeful. We don't feel in danger. We are anxious but thankful. Brian and I are traveling with our good friends Walt and Cindy Myers. We are gathering for a devotional. We have brown licorice and Dots. We should be good.
Thank you for your prayers.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I was actually a little offended by its hopelessness. I know that our world faces dire circumstances. I know the outlook is bleak, and frightening, and seemingly futile. But I have been taught that if we fail to have hope we indeed have nothing.
I often feel quite helpless regarding my role in the pursuit of change in the world. I have heard it all about the power of one person's vote; our need to get involved; the danger of passivity. And I do agree that we can't sit at home hoping someone else will stand up and make some noise. But that doesn't seem to be what calls to me. What does call to me is making the effort toward peace in my family, in my children's lives, and in my own heart.
A modern-day Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin writes this about personal peace:
"The value of peace within our hearts cannot be measured. When we are at peace, we can be free of worry and fear, knowing that with the Lord’s help, we can do all that is expected or required of us. We can approach every day, every task, and every challenge with assurance and confidence in the outcome."
This is the kind of peace that I can visualize. Even though at times this may seem as hopeless as "World Peace", I know this is attainable and is a principle of truth.
Elder Wirthlin continues:
"Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality. We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us."
That is my goal, to be calm and serene amidst the chaos that surrounds me. Am I always successful? Sadly, no. But I understand the source of peace and I try to tap into it daily.
I love the imagery of the Savior calming the tempests. I own a beautiful painting that hangs in my living room. It is one of the many that have been created to capture this remarkable miracle. We all look at these types of artwork, seeing beyond the physical representations. Rarely do we find ourselves on a boat in the middle of a storm, being tossed about and fearing for our lives. Often, however, I think we all feel beaten by the storms of life, the daily tempests that pound us against the rocks. And just as the Savior calms the waters in the paintings, He puts forth His hand with the same confidence, power, and infinite love to calm our troubled spirits.
"The phrase “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39), that the Savior uttered when he calmed the storm-tossed sea, can have the same calming influence upon us when we are buffeted by life’s storms."
This powerful directive goes hand in hand with a related one found in Psalms 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God". Sometimes the storm is within us. Sometimes our anxiety, anguish, and fear create internal turmoil that threatens our peace. When the Savior admonishes "Be Still", perhaps He is not calming the outward influences like the wind and the waves or the mean people or the money problems. I hope we recognize that sometimes the only one we can calm is ourselves. It would be nice if we could make everyone else do what we want them to do so that our lives can be full of peace. Not. going. to happen.
Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts. I am not trying to calm the storms that rage around me. I am working on the ones I have most control over. Mine.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
She and I are not that much alike. She is bubbly and full of fun. She is the life of the party. She draws people to her in remarkable ways. And yet, we complement each other so well. We understand one another. We can almost read minds sometimes.
For several years we were the 5th year leaders at Girls Camp. We worked well together, had a lot of fun, and hopefully brought out the best in the girls that we taught. It was inspiring to see them rise to be leaders while we supported them from the background. We have watched together as they have moved on to become remarkable women.
There are too many facets of our friendship to recount them all here. We have shared each other's highs and lows. We laugh together. We cry together. Patti, dear, I love you. Happy Birthday, my sweet friend.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I lived in several places growing up, attending most of my elementary school years in Cedar City, Utah; going to junior high in Wichita, Kansas; and attending high school in Grace, Idaho. Because of this, I know people from all over. But because I haven't been back to those places, I fear that no one even remembers who I am. I have been able to connect with a few key friends from those places, thankful that someone remembers me, but I know that most people wouldn't remember the shy, brown-eyed girl that was usually too timid to exert herself, and then moved away. I don't even have yearbooks from the past because they were in a box in our garage when a pipe froze and then burst, flooding everything.
Sometimes I look back upon my childhood and wonder if those memories I seem to have even happened at all. I think my hazy past has something to do with my obsession now with scrapbooking, my desire to document our lives, to make a record of my children's activities. I'm so thankful for the invention of the digital camera which completely erases any hesitancy to snap away as many pictures as I want.
I treasure the few pictures I have of my childhood. A few years back I encouraged my dad to scan and digitize some of the slides they had accumulated over the years. I know it was a labor of love, very time consuming. It has been like getting back a portion of my youth, validating for me that those memories were real. Thank you, Dad. It means a lot to me.
Monday, February 22, 2010
But that doesn't mean that everything in our lives must always be the same. There are plenty of variables out there to make life interesting if we only make a little extra effort. One area is our social lives. It is usually the first to be sacrificed because of our busy schedules, and that is fine because our families and work and church should be our priorities. I don't believe that our friendships don't merit some priority as well. We, however, had fallen into a very deep rut. If we did find ourselves with a free weekend evening, we might try to call someone last minute to go out to dinner. Usually without any planning ahead, though, we were rarely successful.
This had to change. So we took it upon ourselves to make the change. We instigated what we affectionately call, The Rut-Busters Club. It consists of a pretty good group of friends who have known each other for years, are comfortable together, and who otherwise we rarely see anymore because our kids are so busy.
The challenge is to take turns hosting a party. Not just any party. We have tried to use a little creativity to come up with ideas that get us up and doing things we haven't done before. Cooperative spirit and good humor are usually called for too.
Here is a sampling of some of our adventures together. Our original plan of monthly get-togethers has had to slide a little. We really are a very busy group of people and sometimes the ruts are difficult to buck, but we are trying.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Here is my blogpost today. Enjoy!
Friday, February 19, 2010
Well, the thing I like about Survivor is discovering those with integrity and moral fiber. I'm not saying that Boston Rob is a glowing example of that, but I was able to catch a glimpse of Rob that I hadn't seen before. He may not be labeled a hero by the producers. Today, he is a hero in my book. I'm sure he would not want to hear that though. Later, when his fluids had been restored and he was back "on his guard", he declared that he must "stop trying to be the good guy". It is time to "be a villain!"
And what about those other "heroes"? Well, there is a lot of pressure in being labeled a hero, and sadly, Colby, Tom, James, and the rest fell seriously short. They are trying to walk the tightrope of acting heroically while at the same time not daring to step forth as a leader, because we all know in the game of Survivor, leaders have a huge target on their backs.
Compelling television. I encourage you to join me and the rest of America as we watch a fascinating microcosm of our society. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
While it can be counted on for its permanence, the fascination also lies in its ever-changing nature. Every cresting wave is unique. The colors vary. The wave patterns change. The wealth it deposits at high tide is its own surprise. What it reveals during low-tide is a similar treasure hunt. The varying light of the morning, noon, and evening creates a stunning, continuous picture show.
I often wonder what lies beneath the beauty of the waves. What parallel universe exists hidden by the depths? We may occasionally enter this mysterious world by means of s.c.u.b.a. or snorkel, but all it really does is pique my curiosity about the components I don't see. We can survey with binoculars or telescopes, thrilling as we catch sight of sea lions and whales. But that really only reminds us of all we cannot see.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
"Have fun! Eat healthy!" I received this cheerful suggestion from a newly acquired friend. It kind of startled me because I realized that I don't usually associate those two things as being related. Aren't the two a blatant contradiction in terms? Is it possible to have fun and still eat healthy, or eat healthy and still have fun? I don't know. The jury is still out on this one. I honestly don't mind trying to improve my daily eating for good health. I have pretty good habits for the most part. When do I let my guard down? WHEN I want to "Have fun".
So when do I allow that? How often do I deem it more important to have fun than to make wise food choices? Well, let's see, the weekend is always a good excuse. When I am on a trip always qualifies. If I am feeling sorry for myself and need some "comfort", I will self- medicate with something yummy. Social situations always call for "fun" eating. See my problem?
Perhaps I need a little paradigm shift here. Out with the old frame of mind, and in with a new perspective, one that doesn't connect a fun time with fat and sugar. I know that simple willpower is not enough. Life is not about living in a state of denial. It is about valuing the promise of something different enough to make the necessary changes. For most of us, we enjoyed health and fitness while we were too young to realize just how good we had it. We were able to eat whatever fun food we wanted with hardly any repercussions at all. I don't expect to return to my college days, neither to my figure, my poverty, nor to my homework load. I am happy that some things have improved with the passage of time. But that is not to say that we cannot go back to a healthier weight. I'm not ready to go down without a fight, but am I willing to change my definition of fun?
I have been around the block enough times to know that sometimes we simply cannot deal with the challenges on our own. We may think we are strong, but sometimes our strength is really just a disguise for our stubbornness. We are simply unwilling to sacrifice our will. If I want that doughnut, I'm going to have that doughnut, or that Oreo cookie, or whatever, and no one is going to stop me. Yikes. That hit a little too close.
I don't have the answers, my friend. But I do recognize a wake-up call when I hear it. For me the challenge will lie in finding ways to have fun and eat healthy at the same time; to convince myself that the two can actually coexist. That doesn't mean that I will be perfect in following healthy guidelines, but I can make improvements. I can be more consistent without falling off the wagon as often, all in the name of having a good time. Food can be just as addictive as any substance that promises to make us "feel good". Controlling our intake is trickier though because we can't simply quit cold turkey. We actually need food every day. Controlling our bodily appetites is one of the main tests presented to us while on this earthly sojourn. Are we passing, or are we failing?
Life isn't meant to be easy. I often choose the easiest possible solution. What does that say about my strength of character? If I make my quest for health an issue of character then perhaps I will be willing to take that high road. I hope it is a road we can take together. I'll see you there!
I thrive on solitude, which is good because I am finding myself alone more than I ever have. Often it isn’t by choice, merely circumstance. And then there are times like these, when I tap into the Thoreau in me and I seek out solitude, seek out time for introspection, seek out time to reacquaint myself with the internal woman.
I will be spending the next few days alone at the beach, sitting on the edge of the world. Already I have seen storms, calms before and after the storms, and as right now, the whole world awakening to a beautiful morning. I saw and heard the sea birds calling good morning to the day. The sun is promising to spend some time with me. That is company I would never turn away.
I brought a couple of books with me. I brought watercolor supplies with me. I have an iPod full of my favorite music. There are enough TV channels to keep me distracted if I choose. Probably won’t choose.
I brought my laptop. I made sure it is equipped with word processing software. I intend to spend a good amount of time writing. I used to think it was such a romantic notion to spend a week at the beach writing a book. How is it that I have been so blessed to actually see this notion becoming a reality? It no longer seems out of reach; it seems like an actual possibility, kind of like an unspoken dream that is no longer unspoken.
Are you a solitude kind of person, or do you crave company? I suppose I am a little of both. Ask me three days from now…
Monday, February 15, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
How does one tap into one’s sense of humor? Is it possible to develop it? Is it possible to coax a reluctant funny bone out of hiding? I want to be funny. I want to be able to write about things in a humorous way. I want my readers to smile at the narratives of my life. But I want to be real. I want to write with authenticity. I want the reader to be able to hear my own voice. What can I do? What should I do?
I completely believe in the ability to strengthen and hone one’s craft. Writing shouldn’t just be about sitting down and seeing what comes out. It can be stroked, and caressed, and smoothed, and perfected. Can it also be funnified?
I have a friend that thinks I could have increased the funny-factor in my post about my airport anxiety. Was I too subtle? I felt bad when one of my readers apologized for having giggled as she read it. No apologies necessary! Giggles are invited. I feel bad that I don’t come across as inviting giggles, or as being open to a chuckle or two. Am I too strait-laced? Am I too uptight? Am I too much of a prude that people don’t expect to see any humor in my writing?
I can’t change my innate personality, but having lived with Brian all these years proves that I must have some kind of sense of humor. I certainly have been exposed to his wit long enough for some of it to have rubbed off. I know how to laugh at all the funny parts. No one understands his sarcasm like I do. Frequently my children will look to me for clarification because I can always tell when he is joking, even if no one else can.
Thank you for letting me air my concerns. I am not asking for placation. I am not looking to be pacified, appeased, or mollycoddled. I am thinking out loud, and wondering if I ever might be able to draw you in because of my irresistible wit and sparkling sense of humor. I don’t know. Maybe my kids were right...
Oh, to be able to be whisked off to our desired locations throughout the world without having to deal with driving an hour to the airport, dealing with rush hour traffic, the stress of being on time for one's flight, facing the risk of delayed or cancelled flights, and just as stressful, the long drive home from the airport when all one wants to do is crawl into her own bed.
I have learned through painful process that if I want to continue this chosen course of being well-traveled, it does come at a price.
As some of you may know, we took a great trip to Florida for Christmas. I made the mistake of stating in a blogpost just days before our trip:
"So this detail person will be spending the next five days making lists and checking and re-checking them, so that no child will be left behind, or any reservation number, or any Christmas present, or any shoes, or any...
And then Monday morning I will head to the Portland airport, fly to Salt Lake City where I will meet up with the rest of my family, then we will all board the plane to Orlando. Once I get to that point, I should be able to relax and enjoy myself, reveling in the fact that all the details will be combining to make the Happiest Christmas Ever!"
Sometimes things we say eventually come around again to bite us in the butt. We never made it to Salt Lake City that day. We never met up with the rest of our family. We never boarded the plane all together for Orlando.
We did spend hours and hours waiting in the Portland airport after our flight was cancelled for mechanical problems. All the passengers were trying to re-route their trips and it was a nightmare I have tried to forget. If I had only to worry about our little Oregon group, it would have been a little better. But I had kids in Salt Lake that were expecting us to fly to Orlando with them that evening, renting a big van together, and driving to Vero Beach for a restful stay before the craziness of Walt Disney World.
Fortunately I had my new little Acer Aspire with me to help change, cancel, and adjust reservations online. What I wasn't able to take care of on the computer required a few phone calls. I am proud to report that I held together pretty well most of the day. But I am ashamed to admit that I did lose it while on the phone with the rental car company. They had just quoted me the price for a mini-van, taking into account that this was Orlando over Christmas Break. $1000 a day!!! I threw up my notebook and used less than acceptable language...
When we eventually all came together we had a wonderful time.
Then all we needed to do was go home when it was over. After all the fun was had, after all the food was eaten, after all the gifts had been exchanged.
Our returning flights went as planned. No delays. No cancellations. What a relief, right?
As we were getting closer to Portland, the pilot announced that we would be flying into snow. What a surprise! How fun! We rarely get snow so this was an unexpected treat. Hmmmm......
What should have taken an hour at best to drive home took nearly SIX hours. Add these six hours to the time spent flying across the continent and it was enough to punch us in the gut. I have tried to put this terrible memory in the past. I was so disappointed in myself that night. Sometimes a wife's most important role is to be a support to her husband. I failed that night.
I had taken some Nyquil during our layover in Texas for a cold I was battling. When my husband needed me most during this gruelling drive home, I was simply unable to stay awake. I tried. I really did. As miserable of an experience that it was for me, the real hero that day was Brian. I don't know how he did it. The rest of us were sleeping. He was not. He suffered the whole nightmare almost exclusively by himself. I'm so sorry, my dear.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I remember one Valentines during the early years of our marriage, shortly after moving to Oregon. My younger brother, Wayne, babysat our little Jackie so we could go out to dinner at McCormick and Schmicks. That seemed like such an extravagance at the time. One year, my parents watched our little Jackie and Robert so we could go away together for a ski weekend.
I remember one year while we had three very young children and lived in Salem, we celebrated all together with a picnic on our family room floor.
I wonder if Brian and Miranda remember the year we went out for Italian food in West Salem and had our car towed. Ah, such special times...
Many years blend together. It has gotten to the point that going out for dinner is no longer too much of a thrill, so it becomes more difficult to set the day apart by simply doing that. And what does one do for the man who doesn't care about 'stuff" and if he wants anything he will go get it himself?
Brian has a little bit of a stubborn streak in him too. He doesn't like anything that is commonplace or expected or perfunctory as Valentines Day to dictate when or how he shows his love or treats his wife. He would much rather spoil me all the other 364 days of the year than to do so simply because the world tells him that he should. I actually find that rather endearing as I too have a little non-conformist streak in me.
I do remember our first Valentines Day together. Brian and I were both attending Utah State University, and had only been dating for a few short weeks. Our college ward was sponsoring a Valentines dance. I spent extra care getting ready because I wanted him to think I was beautiful. We made an appearance at the activity, danced one dance, then and as I look back now I can see he was being true to form, he asked if I wanted to leave and go see a movie. What? I kind of wanted to stay and dance but I could see that he didn't. We went to the movie, "Tootsie" with Dustin Hoffman, a very fun movie. For me though, the memorable part was in the sound track. It began to play "Something's telling me it might be you, yes, its telling me it must be you all of my life". The amazing song by Stephen Bishop seemed to touch my heart with words speaking just to me. "I've been saving love songs and lullabyes"...
Well, that was probably sharing too much of myself. Needless to say our courtship progressed and in June of 1983 we were married in the Idaho Falls Temple. And the rest, they say, is history.
How are you celebrating Valentines Day? Brian and I will be going to the coast this year to spend a couple of nights before returning Sunday morning for church. Sounds nice...
Monday, February 8, 2010
This project presented several unique challenges. Coming up with ideas for each letter that told something about who I am and what I value wasn't always easy. Employing numerous techniques stretched my creativity. Finding pictures to represent different facets of my life was a fun quest. Limiting myself to one page per category required some careful editing. Hunting for and creating unique embellishments was delightful.
So I have decided to share this album with you for a couple of reasons. First, it is a compact way of revealing the different facets of my life. Secondly, it will push me to fill in the few gaps that remain in my album. Each week I will put together a post with a few of the pages, and we will make our way to the end of the alphabet together. Enjoy!
I got lucky with the title page, the Letter "A": All About Ardith. Too easy...
The letter "B" allowed me to share my love of Broadway shows. By scanning some of the Playbills I have collected over the years, then printing them in small version enabled me to include several. I decided to only show the plays I have actually seen in New York City. Luckily for me, the touring show companies often come to Portland, Oregon, so I don't always have to fly to the East Coast to get my fix. This page was put together in 2005 so it doesn't include all the great shows I have seen since then. I am spoiled, I know it...