Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lancelot and Guinevere: Reunited

At the recommendation of my daughter, Erica, I went to see a movie she promised me I would love.  I did.  It is one of the most charming movies I have ever seen.  It is refreshingly chaste, focussing on delightful characters and their sweet relationships with one another.  It successfully sells Italy as the most lovely, romantic place in the world.  It is Letters to Juliet.
Years ago I began the hobby of paying attention to movie credits.  I found that there were often stories within stories that could be discovered by a little extra consideration to detail.  Imagine my surprise and delight as I read in the opening credits that starring in the movie was not only Vanessa Redgrave, whom I already was aware of, but also Franco Nero.  I was thrilled!  How profound.  How ironic.  How exciting. 

Why, doesn't everyone know that Franco Nero played Lancelot du Lac to Redgrave's Guinevere in the 1968 movie version of the musical Camelot?  I knew it, and had tucked that little tidbit away as a souvenir of arguably the most stirring portrayal of star-crossed lovers ever on film.  I cannot condone their adultery, but I can swoon over their chemistry, their beautiful music, and their contagious agony and heartache.  What I didn't know was that there was even more to the real-life story that I had yet to discover.

The movie stars Redgrave as a woman whose letter expressing regret at leaving her Italian love to return to Britain is found behind a loose brick at Juliet's Verona house, a famous tourist spot and romantic pilgrimage. Redgrave's character seeks out her left-behind love, named Lorenzo, with the help of a young tourist who stumbles on the long-lost letter and decides to respond to it, 50 years after it was tucked behind the bricks.

Lorenzo is played by Franco Nero, and the movie's tale of young love abandoned and then rediscovered after decades echoes his real life love story with Vanessa. The pair met on the set of "Camelot" in 1967, had a son Carlo, and went their separate ways until finding each other again years later,  and marrying in 2006.  As years before, their chemistry is still undeniable, and suggests that time and space are inconsequential as they relate to the connection of two souls; that when heart speaks to heart, little else matters including 50 years worth of wrinkles and gray hair. 
In an interview with Nero about the movie and his rekindled relationship with Redgrave, he recounts some dialogue from Letters:  "She says a wonderful line, 'Sorry I'm late,' and I answer, 'When we speak about love, it's never too late.'"

Treat yourself to a sweet gift.  See this movie with someone that won't mind if you have trouble holding in the joy or the tears.  You're welcome.

In Memory of Murl

One of the delightful surprises of my marriage to Brian (and there have been many) was the relationship I was able to have with my mother-in-law.  Murl Haws was sweet, sassy, and devoted to her children and grandchildren.  It was an honor to share the title "Sister Haws" with her.

Murl absolutely loved the ocean and treasured whatever opportunity she could find to go there.  We would always try to fit in a trip to the coast whenever she came to visit, at whatever dumpy motel we could find, or afford, so she could sit, ponder, marvel, and drink in the magic of the waves. We made great effort to find a room with an oceanview and relatively easy access down to the beach. 

This weekend in her honor, Brian is gathering his sisters and their husbands for a reunion at the Oregon Coast.  You see, we have finally found a place to gather with lots of big, glorious windows facing the ocean; a place with easy access to the beach; and a big kitchen with plenty of dining space.

Sadly, it came too late for Murl to have experienced.  She passed away nearly two years ago and yet every time I go to the beach house I think of her.  I imagine her sitting next to the fireplace, cozy in a blanket, a good book nearby, enjoying the view. 

Murl, we love you, and wish you were joining us tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Confidence: Given, earned, or merely fleeting?

We spend our lives pursuing elusive confidence. It is the key to facing life's challenges with hope, with faith, with courage, with head held high.  And yet, as soon as we obtain confidence, it slips away and the quest begins again.

Recently I spent a troubled night of restless sleep mourning the loss of the confidence of my youth.  Some of you may not have any idea what I'm talking about.  Others will.  It is undeniable.  There is something extraordinarily debilitating about the discovery of one's lost youth.  I appreciate the wisdom that comes with old age and maturity, but I don't welcome the decline in physical appearance, strength, and stamina.  How much confidence is derived from our outward appearance?  What happens when time takes its toll and the freshness of youth is replaced by weariness of body and soul?

My objective has been to age gracefully, but sadly I admit that age is winning the pursuit, and no amount of special creams will keep it at bay.  I have never believed in artificial methods for maintaining youth.  I am a grandmother, and I am content with looking like a grandmother.  But I would like to be a lovely grandmother.  Is that too much to ask?

My sun worshipping days of the past are catching up with me.  Frustrating age spots are popping up in uninvited places.  Gray hair hasn't been much of a nuisance yet, just a few random strands, easily plucked into submission.  My slowing metabolism is creeping up on me.  Morning stiffness makes me move like an old woman, despite generally not feeling like one.

I can't seem to shake the feeling of being overlooked, not getting the attention I used to in my younger days.  The older woman becomes invisible, ignored, disregarded.  I've never been one for flashy clothes with an abundance of accessories.  Is this what an older woman resorts to in order to be noticed?  Some attention I don't want!

I'm certain there must be a way to tap into other reservoirs of confidence.  I stumbled upon a quote by the extraordinary beauty, Sophia Loren, who if she has aged, no one cares because she is so fascinating:  “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

That's the key, isn't it?  There are so many other things we can bring to the table that have nothing to do with outward appearance.  My desire is to spend my days in quiet service, as the invisible old lady who loses her life hopefully in order to find it.  So what if I have to give up some pride and refocus my priorities.  My family will always love me, I think, as I mellow into the graying matriarch who is the endless source of good meals, fun surprises, and unconditional love.  I may lose my teeth, my figure, my pride, but hopefully I will never lose the twinkle in my eye, the warmth of my wrinkly smile, and the faith in my heart.  These are the priceless assets that draw people toward you, no matter what your age, or your size, or your stature.

What do you remember most about your grandmother?  Did her wrinkly, twinkly smile make you love her less, or more?  Was she fashionably dressed, or simply clean, and sweet smelling with a warm, soft, enveloping embrace?  Did the aromas of her cooking fill her home, making it inviting and welcoming?

The transition is the difficult part.  Watching the decline is frustrating and painful.  I don't care about the aging process in others.  Why can't I cut myself some slack, too?  Why can't I be more accepting of my own youth slipping away?  Because the pace has quickened.  The decline is more noticeable.  The deterioration has become steadier and more blatant.  Perhaps it is time to start wearing red and purple, and saying to heck with it.

No.  I'm not quite there yet.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Legends of Sleepy Hollow

Last Friday I took a step backwards in time.  At least that is what it felt like.  And I found a circle of friends which I would have wanted to be apart of.  I would have hung around their perimeter until they would have had to invite me to join them.  I saw where they lived; where they read, studied, and wrote.  I saw where they pondered and communed with nature.  And finally, I saw where they were laid to rest; all within yards of each other, in a peaceful spot on one of the hills of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

You see, I was in Transcendental Central, to borrow a term coined by my daughter, Miranda.  I was in Concord, Massachusetts, the lovely little tranquil spot outside the bustle of Boston; the place where the Revolutionary War began, where first rang the shot heard round the world.  Historians delight in the significance of this important place.  Literaries delight in its significance as the birthplace of the Trancendentalist Movement.

I went to Walden Pond.  I really did.  And it was as peaceful and beautiful and inspiring as Thoreau said it was.  I walked the pathway he regularly took from the pond to his little shack.  I saw the replica shack that has been built in the spot of the original.  I sat on his doorstep, and looked out to see the things he saw.

I'm pretty sure he would not have looked favorably upon the extensive parking lot, the gift shop, or the bikini-clad swimmers in his pond.  But they didn't really detract too much from the spirit of the place.

The real monuments to their greatness don't reside on the shady hill of Sleepy Hollow.  They rest on the bookshelves of homes and libraries all over the world.  Their lasting impact can be felt as one explores their revolutionary thought.  They believed religion can be a personal thing, with spirit touching spirit.  They were missing a few critical pieces of truth which their contemporary, Joseph Smith, just a state away in New York, was restoring to the world.  I believe they were ready to hear and would have been receptive to the restored Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and would have welcomed Joseph into their circle too. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Territory

My parents used to own a big, fancy motor home that they set out to explore the country in. I was always fascinated by the adhesive map posted on its side that showed all the different states they had visited.  It was truly remarkable the miles they had covered, especially considering the method they chose to cover those miles.  I am not that patient.  I find a day spent traversing the country in an airplane to be painful and challenging; I can't imagine a road trip which requires exponentially more time sitting in a cramped position. That doesn't mean I don't share their desire to explore and discover.  And I, too, love "coloring in" the places I have seen.

This past week I was able to cover some new territory, which is always a thrill.  We spent a couple days in Atlanta, Georgia at a textiles industry trade show.  In the past, the extent of our Atlanta experience had been reserved to time spent in the airport, which I think doesn't really count, so it was nice to get out and really put our feet on some Georgia soil.  We had a great time.  One of the highlights for me was seeing the stunning Georgia Aquarium.

This may be the best aquarium I have ever seen.  I would love to go there again someday, sharing it with my children and grandchildren.

After our time in Atlanta, we flew north to Boston, Massachusetts, again having the opportunity to see new country for both of us.  Boston held back none of its charms.  It was beautiful, and the weather couldn't have been more delightful.

Our lovely hotel, The Lenox, on the corner of Exeter and Boylston, was the perfect location to explore the city on foot, within easy walking distance to Fenway Park where we saw the Red Sox play, Symphony Hall where we saw the Boston Pops play, and the Boston Common, where we saw the rest of Boston play.  I could easily spend a week in the Boston area and never run out of interesting and spectacular attractions.  So not only is Boston now checked off my list of places to see, it is now on a new list:  the Places to which I must return.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oh, Ardy! Come look.

I love it when I hear those words.  It means my husband has seen something he thinks is beautiful, or remarkable, or for whatever reason, something that will thrill me.  And I always know that he will be right, whatever it is.  I know this because of our  history together.  He delights in discovery, and he delights in sharing it with me.

Last night when we checked into our room in downtown Atlanta, we were told that they had run out of standard rooms, so they were bumping us up to a premium room with a corner view.  Okay.  No argument here.  As I followed Brian into the room, I heard those familiar words, "Oh, Ardy!  Come look."  Of course he was right; it was absolutely worth my time to look at the breathtaking view of the beautiful skyline in the background, and in the foreground the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN Center and Phillips Arena.  Right there.  Here were some of the premiere attractions of Atlanta spread out in panorama before me, to drink in at my leisure.

There is power in those words:  Come Look.  Are we always attentive enough to look when someone bids us to? And should we always obediently look?  Of course, we must use caution.  Awhile back on facebook, my seminary teacher from years past seemed to be beckoning one of his former students to "look at this sexy video".  That seemed a little out of character I thought.  Sure enough.  He had been the victim of foul play and a virus.  Those with evil intentions know how trusting the collective "we" can be, and they know the power of suggestion.

There is another admonition to "look" given by the prophet Alma, to his son Helaman, in the Book of Mormon.  He loved the idea of being able to look to the Savior, Jesus Christ, for healing, for redemption, for salvation, and was frustrated that so many would perish because of doubting the easiness of the commandment to just look. He cautions his son:  "Do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way...the way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever...yea, see that ye look to God and live."

I am so thankful for those in my life that have pointed the way for me to look, to follow, to live.  I have had some remarkable examples in my life.  I hope that there are those in your life that you trust enough to follow their admonitions to "Come Look!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rest of the Story...

So I know a few of you are wondering the fate of the Big Blue Van.  Just as Brian suspected, it had been stolen.  I can just picture those idiots, laughing all the way, after they hot-wired it, riding down the road in its bouncy seats.  They must have thought they were pretty smart.  Then, they must have thought themselves pretty smart to use it for their other outlaw activities over the weekend.  They must have loved that the back is so spacious, with plenty of room to fill with hot merchandise from their escapades.  Then, they must have thought themselves pretty smart to have abandoned it by the side of the road, still full of their bounty, after they had let it run out of gas...  Yea, pretty smart.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Surreal. Magical.

Some of life's most unique and treasured experiences come when one is least expecting them; when one is spontaneous; when one stumbles upon them.

Yesterday, Brian and I had our free Saturday all planned out.  We were going to make a trip to the dump, take some stuff to the Deseret Industries trailer, and clean the garage.  All worthwhile things, don't you think?  Brian went down to work, as he usually does on Saturday morning, planning to bring home the big blue cube van so we could do our chores.  That's odd.  The van wasn't there.  He checked with  his employees that might have borrowed it.  Nothing.  It led us to the conclusion that this dear old friend, one that has been used and used by so many people for so many different things, must have been stolen.....???  I don't know.  I hope not.  It is a puzzle.

Well, so much for our anticipated day of work... To heck with it.  Let's do something fun!

For years we have driven past the Maryhill Museum on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge.  We had heard good things about it.  Wondered about it.  Were curious about it, especially the Stonehenge Monument that stands nearby.  We decided to go see it.  It really wasn't that far away, and all we had was time.

The drive was beautiful, the museum was fascinating, but the most unexpected surprise, in a day filled with surprises, was what we found as we walked the grounds of the museum.
  Peacocks!  Yea, but not just a few peacocks, and not bashful ones.  There were a dozen or more, and they were inquisitive, friendly, very proud and boldly demonstrative.  As I quietly ventured closer with my camera, afraid to frighten them away, they were just as interested in me as I was in them. 
 Brian and I kept looking at each other with incredulity.  Was this really happening?  It was magical.  It was almost reverent and sacred, this unbelievable interplay with some of God's most fascinating creations. 

I will never forget this day, when I got up close and personal with the peacocks.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Comrade in arms

I found a blog that surprisingly expressed many of the same feelings I have had about the process of writing a book.  Check it out:  The Artisan of the Human Spirit

Friday, May 14, 2010

Untraveled Worlds

Inspiration comes from surprising sources. And I continue to marvel at the power of "Shuffle".  By mere chance the songs of life pop up at unanticipated times.  Hitting my stride well today and heading for home on a strong note, my favorite choral group, the Sprague High School Concert Choir, accompanied the last quarter mile of my walk.  It began with stimulating percussion, piano and violin, taking my mind back to the State Choir Championships a few years ago, when Director Russ Christensen pulled out his ace in the hole; a new song the choir had quickly learned to wow everyone at State.  It worked.  I remember feeling thrown back against my chair, breathless from the beauty, majesty, and vigor of this new piece of music, performed by a one-hundred voice choir that was defending its title as State Choir Champions.

The piece that so thrilled my heart that day and likewise swelled it today was "Untraveled Worlds", a new choral number by Paul Halley, with lyrics taken from Alfred Lord Tennyson's masterpiece, Ulysses.   I couldn't find a youtube rendition by the Sprague Choir, but here is one that comes close to their splendor; the BYU-Idaho Collegiate Singers 2009.

Hearing this beautiful music today prompted me to look up Tennyson's poem to read the inspiring words.  What a unique experience to read and identify with Ulysses, one of the greatest adventurers of all time, who isn't ready to be put on the shelf yet.  He still has places he wants to see, experiences he wants to relish, and new worlds he wants to discover.  I have never realized before that in some ways, old Ulysses and I are cut from the same cloth.  We appreciate the experiences of the past, all that we have learned, all that we have suffered and enjoyed, both with those we have loved and also alone.  We dread rusting unburnished, not to shine, from being unused and forgotten.  Bring on new things!  Follow knowledge like a sinking star!  Push off, and sail beyond the sunset!  To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!

Excerpt from Ulysses: ( I encourage you to read along as the choir sings; very inspiring!)
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees.  All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone...

I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life!  Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

Come my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

At the Mercy of Shuffle

I have a theory, which proves effective most of the time.  I have an enormous playlist on my iPod, entitled "Workout Jams" which I listen to while I walk, either on the treadmill or, when the weather is nice like today, around my neighborhood.  It is a widely varied collection with almost every genre represented. I have stuff from the old days; I have stuff my kids have bought on iTunes;  just a whole assortment.  I did stop short of Mormon Tab.  My theory is this:  whatever song comes up when I put it on shuffle, I walk to that particular tempo for the length of the song, then when a new songs comes on, I adjust my gait to the new tempo.  This does all the thinking for me and I get a nicely varied workout, with plenty of quick and enough slower stuff so I don't die.  Works like a charm.  Most of the time.

Today was a bit of a frustration.  Don't get me wrong, I love John Denver and Olivia Newton-John.  But Shuffle couldn't seem to get  past them today.  What began as a leisurely stroll continued to be a leisurely stroll nearly the whole way.

 I was encouraged when it picked up a little bit with Donny Osmond.

 But then when it moved to a lazy, instrumental version of This Guy's In Love WithYou, by Burt Bacharach, I knew the day was a waste, and I headed for home.

 As I walked up the front steps and the Lettermen started singing "When I Fall in Love", I knew I may need to make a new playlist...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I've Heard it Said

I've heard it said that writers become reclusive.  I've heard it said that they can become buried in their latest project and let other things fall to the wayside.  They forget to eat.  Sometimes they forget to get dressed.  They cloister themselves away, craving solitude, to focus, to think, to research, to ponder, to write.

It's all true.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who Am I Kidding?

Everybody has a blog.  That is what I am discovering.  There must be millions of them, drifting around out there, waiting to have someone come, anyone come, to read their feeble attempts at making sense of the universe. Obviously there are not enough hours in the day to read all the blogs out there, worthwhile or not, including mine.

Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to those of you that do make the effort to tune in regularly, checking to see what I am up to lately.  And I am pleased to report that the numbers of readers are climbing, reporting in from numerous places across the country and even the world.  This has been an interesting project.  So, again, THANK YOU for following along.  I am flattered to realize that you deem it worth a few of your precious minutes to read Ardith's Quest.  I hope I am making it worth your time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Perfect Marriage

In my mind, this is one of the reasons I have a perfect marriage. 
Next week, I am accompanying my husband on a business trip back east.  Part of our trip will be spent in Boston, a city I have always wanted to see.  Above are two of the things I am most excited about.  We have tickets to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, AND we have tickets to attend a Boston Pops Orchestra concert.  Isn't that a perfect combination?

These two events represent the individuality as well as the harmony of the marriage of two minds.  While in our past lives my husband was the athlete, I was the music geek.  Despite our differing interests, we have grown over the years to appreciate those differences. We have shared the things we love, have been open to trying new things, and genuinely have looked at the other's interests with an open mind.  As we celebrate twenty-seven years of marriage, I can honestly say I am looking forward to the ballgame almost as much as the concert.

But I must admit, seeing the Boston Pops in Boston has long been on my bucket list.  Keith Lockhart:  here I come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Are You a Good Guesser?

When someone hands you a gift, and says, "Guess what it is!", they REALLY don't want you to guess correctly.  They are so certain that their gift is so well considered and planned that it surely will be the ultimate delight and surprise.  They are certain you could never guess what they have so carefully prepared.

I remember one such occasion many years ago on Mothers Day.  I was probably nine or ten, had carefully taken my budget of one dollar into town on my bike in Cedar City.  I carefully considered the perfect gift for my beautiful mother.  I remember walking up and down the displays at a handful of stores, and then as though a light came on, I discovered the perfect gift that was within my limited means.  I put my treasure in my bike's basket and rode home, convinced I had purchased something which would delight and surprise my mother.  I found a box, wrapped it, and hid it away for the big day.

With great pride, I presented it to my mom, confident that in its uniqueness, it was the perfect surprise.  So, of course, I challenged her to guess what it was.  She carefully shook the box, evaluated the weight, and finding it to be as light as a feather, she guessed the most random thing she could think of:  "A feather duster!"  she guessed. 

"Who told you?!!!"  I was crushed.  I knew that someone must have divulged my grand secret, because who could possibly have ever guessed such an unusual gift?  My mother genuinely felt terrible for her random, yet correct guess because she could tell I had been so excited about my surprise.  You see, that is how mothers are.  They recognize the importance of seemingly small things to their children.  Mother's eyes have a way of seeing straight into their children's hearts.  It is one of the blessings of being a mother, to have this unparalleled gift of understanding. 

Mothers can recognize frustration.  They recognize disappointment.  They recognize subterfuge.  In their young children's eyes they may appear to be all-knowing and all-seeing.  And it makes them very good guessers.

I would like to honor the woman who still understands me better than almost anyone, my adorable mother.  She can look into my heart and see my joy.  I hope she can also see the pride I have in calling her my own sweet mother.  Thank you for your patience and your unconditional love.
I hope you have a wonderful day, and feel the love of all those who call you "blessed".

Friday, May 7, 2010

Outing an Obsession

Those that know me well will smile.  Those that are only now discovering me may be a little surprised.  I have an obsession.  A Hornblower obsession.
And it isn't just because the recent Hornblower movies on A&E featured the fascinating Ioan Gruffudd.  I am equally drawn to the Captain Hornblower of old, played by Gregory Peck.

One evening, years ago, my husband called me into our bedroom where he was watching the A&E channel.  He said he had found something I might like, knowing I am a big fan of historical fiction.  It was a movie about a young man who had enlisted in the British Navy and was prone to seasickness.  He was a man of integrity, and though not perfect, he would not compromise his honor; he was courageous, and loyal, and quickly rose from being green with nausea to being a formidable crew member.  As quickly as he learned to scale the lines of the ship, he also escalated in his ranking.  When we first meet Horatio Hornblower, he is a midshipman.  By the eleventh and final book of the series, he becomes Admiral in His Majesty's Navy.

I know this because I was immediately hooked.  I now own all the movies ever made about Horatio Hornblower.  I own and have read all the books in C.S. Forester's series.  I have a book that showcases the making of the movies.

I have a fictitious biography, written by a fan of Forester's legendary character.  See?  I'm not the only one that shares the obsession.  Imagine a character so compelling that fans are even speculating and constructing a potential reality.

While I did not get swept up in the latest vampire craze, I have to admit to my weakness for this man in uniform; the one that uses his brilliant mind and courageous soul to outwit Bonaparte; the one that puts his honor and duty above his personal needs;  the one that stands watch and protects me from behind the door of my scrapbook room...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It Mattereth Not...

I have seized the opportunity recently to take a step back, to review my life and my priorities, and to refocus my energies according to this new perspective.  I have been reminded of the important things in life, and those that really are of little consequence.

I found a choice reminder in the Book of Ether, Chapter 15, verse 34.  Ether has watched the final demise of a once-great nation, which came to final blows by Coriantumr and Shiz.  Gruesome story.  In realizing that he is left to wander the balance of his days alone, leaving his life in the Lord's hands, Ether records his final words on the gold plates which will later be found by the people of Limhi, and included by Mormon in his great book; "Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God."

It mattereth not.  Which things do matter?  Which ones do not?

How often do we get caught up in worldly woes, losing sleep over issues that really matter little in the grand scheme of things?  Could we look at, and dismiss, most of the things that weigh heavily upon our minds, realizing that trivial things really "mattereth not"?  What matters is how we handle those difficulties.  What matters is where we turn for counsel, for peace, for resolution.  What matters is the character we are building in times of trouble.

In looking outward at the challenges of our country and our world, it doesn't take long to realize that our little lives, which we worry so much over, have been blessed with extraordinary blessings.  I am not facing flood waters, nor having to rebuild after earthquakes or hurricanes or tsunamis.  My family has seen its share of challenges, but most things that leave me awake in the wee small hours of the morning are quite insignificant.  As long as I am making good choices, trying to be faithful and diligent and to turn my cares over to the Lord, then whatever comes my way mattereth not.  I can handle it.  We can handle it together.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Google Search Knows Me!

I am continually amazed by the number of blog readers that stumble upon me from Google Search.  I have a tracker that shows me where in the world my readers are, and from what link they used to get to me.

Yesterday was a particularly interesting day.  Someone from Las Vegas was looking for "Mormon Moms", and because I recently made a post about submitting my blog to a related list, Ardith's Quest showed up on their search results.  Someone from California searched "pitched their tents toward the temple".  You guessed it; my blog about preparing for General Conference showed up in their results, and they clicked on it.  The real surprise was someone from Senegal.  They had typed "love people" in the search field.  Would you believe my blog from yesterday about the "People who love me" qualified as something they may be interested in?  And I guess it was, because they went to Ardith's Quest to read more.  Astonishing.

But there is a hands down winner from Google Search.  There have literally been people from all over the world that have looked for "A Family is forever, eternally together".  Occurring almost daily, someone will search for that and be directed to my post about that favorite family song.

What does it all mean?  Well, probably nothing.  But it is fascinating for me to realize that there are far-reaching effects from me sitting down each day to share a little of myself with whomever wants to read it; that the thoughts I send out into the world are in reality reaching and connecting with someone.  I find that particularly gratifying.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sadder But Wiser

One of the most well-known, and probably the most re-produced musical of all time is The Music Man.  I love The Music Man.  Like most of you, I, too was in a production of The Music Man in high school.  Good times.  Happy memories.  I especially love all the sing-a-long songs, and know them all by heart.

There is one song by Harold Hill and his buddy Marcellus that always seemed a little pessimistic to me, compared to the other songs; it is Sadder But Wiser Girl.  Harold sings of his preference for the woman who has been around the block a time or two, has learned that life isn't always as one imagines, and has had to become a little hardened by life's lessons.

I have come to believe that one can't go through life without becoming a little sadder, but hopefully a little wiser too.  We are always learning.  We are always having new experiences that affect us for good or for ill.  Each day yields new lessons.  I find it so interesting to go back through old journals to see how far I have progressed; to see how naivete' has been replaced with insight, increased understanding, and sometimes even disappointment.  We may have had our eyes opened to the starkness of reality, but with that knowledge of good and evil, hopefully we are also gaining wisdom.

We may learn who our friends really are.  We may learn on whom we can rely.  We may learn what our thresholds are, for pain, for endurance, for criticism.  We may learn where we can turn for unconditional love.  We may learn of strengths we never knew we had.  We may learn of untapped resevoirs of courage, of stamina, of patience.

In our learning, hopefully we are also expanding our capacity to be sympathetic to others who are also learning life's often painful lessons.  Hopefully we are more quick to lend a hand to someone struggling, and that we can empathize with those who are sadder but wiser for any number of reasons.

When the Savior Jesus Christ came to this earth, one of the main purposes was to learn firsthand how difficult mortal life really is, so that He would then understand "how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:12)  And as we read in John 11:35, the Savior was also not above sadness and on occasion was known to weep. 

Sometimes in life, we are all a little sadder because of lessons learned, but this needn't mean that we have taken a step away from God.  The prophet Alma "began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him."(Alma 4:15)  I am thankful for the comfort promised by the Savior in Matthew 11:28,29;  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

What a tremendous promise.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I wish I could write poetry

Sometimes it would be nice to be able to encapsulate one's feelings into a concise little poem.  I find poetry to be rich and concentrated, painting a picture in as few words as possible.  Why can't I do this?

My grandmother could.  She wrotes books full of imagery.  My son can do it.  My daughter can do it.  They take what is in their hearts and like a single brush stroke, fill the page with light.

My amateurish attempts have been ridiculous.  I can't get past juvenile rhyme schemes or predictable, boorish iambic pentameter.

I wish I could write poetry.