Friday, July 30, 2010

The World is a better place....

Twenty-four years ago today the world became a little brighter, a little happier, a little better because a beautiful little boy came into the world.  My sweet son, Robert, has filled our lives with joy, with music, with laughter, with virtue, with honor.  The relationship between a mother and son is an undeniably special thing.  I love you, my dear.  Thank you for the honor of being your mother.  I hope I haven't impeded your progress too much.  I have tried to merely get out of the way as you have reached for the stars.  Thanks for the stardust you have managed to scatter around.
I have been so blessed to have you in my life, in my family, and in my heart.  I miss you today. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

She Should've Had a Blog

I was introduced to a new friend today.  Miranda did the honors.  She knew I would make a connection with this dear lady, one who steps off the page and instantly becomes more than an acquaintance.  Although her formal name is Frances Burney, a British author at the turn of the 19th century, I think I will prefer to enjoy the more familiarity of her nickname, Fanny.  Fanny was a gal ahead of her time.

Fanny's first journal entry in 1768 presented a common dilemma.  She knew that memory would fail her eventually so she wanted to have a place to share her "thoughts, manners, acquaintance & actions," where she could "confess (her) every (her) whole heart!"

She continues:  "But a thing of this kind ought to be addressed to somebody--I must imagine myself to be talking--talking to the most intimate of friends--to one in whom I should take delight in confiding, & remorse in concealment:  but who must this friend be?"

That is a dilemma that bloggers wrestle with, at least I do.  With whom am I sharing my thoughts? to whom are they directed?  to whom am I uncovering and baring my soul?  with whom am I occasionally being silly?  Although after much inner debate and finally choosing to be blissfully unaware of who is reading my blog, I think I can take a page from Fanny's book.  She delighted in figuring out to whom she could direct her writing:

"To whom must I dedicate my wonderful, surprising & interesting adventures?  to whom dare I reveal my private opinion of my nearest relations?  the secret thoughts of my dearest friends?  my own hopes, fears, reflections & dislikes?--Nobody!
"To Nobody, then will I write my journal!  since to Nobody can I be wholly unreserved--to Nobody can I reveal every thought, every wish of my heart, with the most unlimited confidence, the most unremitting sincerity to the end of my life!"

While Fanny's newfound freedom in writing to Nobody enabled her to write with utter honesty, her private thoughts were reported so fully and faithfully that, in the end, every reader is able to share them and relate to her Universal truths.  That is a tremendous accomplishment.  While I don't enjoy the freedom of my posts being read posthumously, I do hope that as I work through the reflections and musings and deliberations of my life and share them freely with "Nobody", perhaps some particle of truth will resonate with you, whomever you are, and that occasionally I might prompt you to look at something in a new way, or to set your sights on a new goal, or to express your previously inhibited feelings.

Thanks, Fanny.  I think we are going to be good friends. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Should I be offended?

My family, under the ruse of generosity, regularly offer me their cast-offs.  They lovingly give me all the Special Dark chocolates in the bag of Hershey's Minis.  Why are they so loving and giving?  Is it because they want me to have the best?  Hmmmmm, what do you think?

 Maybe someday their tastes will mature and they will realize that all these years they really have been giving me the best thing....  Such a sweet family I have.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Playing with the Big Boys Now

Perhaps nothing sets off the beauty of the Oregon Coast quite as much as a sky full of kites.  One of the main draws to Lincoln City is its reputation as the "Kite Capital of the World," with numerous festivals that bring spectators and participants by the hundreds.  Even on a regular summer weekend, people flock to the center of town where the "D" River flows into the ocean and the kites are most striking and most invasive.

While local kite shops set up incredible aerial displays for all to marvel at, replete with giant squid, and an octopus or two, the skies are also filled with the kites of novice fliers wanting to join in the fun. It needn't matter what was spent on a kite; if it flies it is a winner.  Last Saturday there were lots of winners.  The winds were perfect as usual, easily and gently lifting the multi-colored flyers into the stratosphere, simultaneously lifting the spirits of all those enjoying the spectacle.

Some kites seem to attract more attention than others.  I noticed that one kite seemed to continually elicit comments and smiles.  As folks gathered to photograph the huge showstopper kites, they also singled out this much smaller kite, anxious to take pictures of it as well.  While not the grandest, or the biggest, or the cutest, or the fanciest, it apparently represented something that struck people's imagination.

Who would have guessed?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Are we willing to receive more?

The following is a quote taken from Sheri Dew’s book, If Life were Easy, it Wouldn’t be Hard:

"C.S. Lewis believed that 'we are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.'
"One scriptural passage in the Doctrine and Covenants seems to speak precisely about those of us who are happy making mud pies rather than accepting the offer to vacation at the seashore. Describing those who will not receive a celestial glory, the Lord declared, 'They shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift' (D&C 88:32-33)." (The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, 2).

Then Sheri says “Ugh!”  I agree.  Ugh.

Why do we let stubbornness impede our progress? Why do we let it interfere with the joy that can be ours for the taking? I have been doing some thinking about the idea of stubbornness. Of course its root is in our pride. Oh, how I hate that millstone called pride which we all allow to weigh us down, to mire us in the murkiness of arrogance. I heard a quote from the movie “Young Victoria”.  In essence it was this:  Don’t confuse stubbornness with strength. We want to appear strong in the face of challenge, adversity, difficulty. Yet if we are wise, we will make certain that our strength has roots in diligence, knowledge, and perseverance and not merely be a result of our stubbornness to give in to the offer of help, the offer of counsel and advice from others with more experience and wisdom. Why must we always try to muddle through things, entirely left to our own devices? Particularly when it is rarely necessary?

Are we overlooking the bright spots of life, offered to us for our diligence and obedience, like a holiday at the sea because we won’t lift our eyes from the mud pies we are content to be making in the slums? Are we allowing ourselves to suffer needlessly alone with our trials because we are too stubborn to offer them up to the Lord who has offered to bear our burdens and make them light?

I am convinced that most of our misery is brought about by our own refusal to lift our eyes to see the possibility of something better. I hate the idea of status quo. I think we should continually be asking ourselves if we need to be content with how things are, or if they can, indeed, be changed and improved. I vote for change. I vote for improvement. Just because “that’s that way we’ve always done it”, it need not be the way it continues. The change lies within us. Not a new idea perhaps, but a needed mantra for our new day.

Our new day will begin as we begin to heighten our awareness of the miracles at every hand. Perhaps it is as simple as seeing with fresh eyes the ideas the Lord has built into every creation He put upon this earth.

I have a garden. Oh, the lessons that exist in a garden only if we shed the pessimism of the world to look with a new perspective. How many of us have not weeded a garden and had the parable of the wheat and the tares become ever so clear to us? Or as we prepare the ground for new plantings, do we not consider the parable of the seed and the importance of seedlings being placed in well-prepared ground to insure their success? Would we plant daisies in rocky soil? Or wouldn’t we take care to give them every advantage, as we would our children, to insure that they will thrive throughout the long hot summer days, with rich, ample soil that will sufficiently hold the moisture necessary to thrive?

I am awestruck by the numerous lessons I learn from my garden. There is even a lesson to be found in the care of the garden. When it is young and new, it requires constant work to assure its success. Then as it matures, less day-to-day effort is required. It is possible to simply bask in its beauty with only minor maintenance. Oh, it can’t be left to tend itself entirely, but it doesn’t require the same degree of hard work, and the blessings certainly outweigh the effort involved.

So it is with our children.  Today in the Stateman Journal newspaper the death of one Robert Haws was reported as the result of a fight with a fellow inmate at the State prison. Though our own son, Robert Brent Haws, is no longer in our constant care, I thankfully believe that he is headed down a completely different road than that other unfortunate man because of our diligence as parents to make sure he was "planted" in fertile soil, was nourished with the good word of God, and continues to receive the warmth of our love for him.

There are great blessings that come as a result of our diligence.  Wherever we put our love, concern, and sacrifice, that is where our progress will be and ultimately will dictate which rewards we enjoy.  Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if our efforts are going toward making mud pies in the slums, ...and if we are content with that.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Zippity-ay and Heidi-ho!

There is one thing grandmothers should never miss--their grandchildren's birthdays.  Yes, I put a package in the mail a few days ago, and yes, I allowed plenty of time for it to reach its destination, and yes, I handpicked gifts that I thought would delight her.  But I am not there.  I am not with my granddaughter on her first birthday.  Feeling quite at a loss.

What a year full of love we have had, fortunate to see her several times during her first twelve months.  Evelyn's parents have done a great job recording her first year with wonderful photographs.  So here is a birthday celebration of the little lady whom I love so much.
I love you, Miss Evelyn.  You fill our lives with joy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blogging your own book

When I first began blogging, nearly a year ago in September, I questioned the permanence and lasting value of a blog.  I had read a scripture which indicated that unless something is written on metal plates it will certainly perish.  I pondered the difference between what should be included on my "small plates" and my "large plates".  I wrote a blog entitled What is Lasting?

While I don't pretend that my humble efforts merit being preserved on gold, I do think my efforts merit being bound into a book.  So that is what I do. 
The forum I use to do this is called Blog2Print.  It is a very easy process and I have been so pleased with the results. 

If you are a blogger too and have considered making all your work a little more tangible, a little more lasting, follow this link.  Your posterity will thank you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Heart Says "Vivez!"

There is nothing as invigorating as a brisk morning walk.  How quickly I forget.  Determined to put behind me the excuses which lately have been winning, I set off under beautiful blue skies before the temperature had risen too much.  It was exactly the lift my heart was needing.  I hummed along with the BeeGees, with a little boogie in my step, thankful for the renewed desire for "Stayin' Alive";  I commited with Creed to "tattoo my heart on my sleeve"; and I embraced the reminder of Marguerite from "The Scarlet Pimpernel" to Vivez!  To Live!

I ask myself why I am familiar with so many obscure musicals, with musical scores that seem to benefit only me.  The Scarlet Pimpernel was on Broadway for too short of a run.  Then they reworked it, brought it back, and again, it only ran for a limited time.  Such a waste.  It is truly one of my favorites.  I love every song.  My children grew up singing these songs. 

One of those songs has recently spoken directly to me, has seemed to be the message I am most needing to hear.  It brilliantly goes back and forth between free-spirited Marguerite and her uptight friends.  She is trying to convince them to actively seek the joy in life, to forsake their prim and proper natures and let their hair down.  Could she be speaking to me?  Well, perhaps she is speaking to you.  You decide.  And try to overlook the old-fashioned usage of the word "gay", if you can....


Mes amis, je suis enchantee
Simply to move through the sunlight
Open your arms to this warm, bright
Moment embracing us

You have one life, let it be gay
Shouldn't one do as one's told to?
No, let the moment enfold you
Grab up your one golden chance
Darlings, life is such romance
Give this world a sweeping glance
Let it set your soul a-dancing night and day

Live, here's to life, let us be gay
Let go of each inhibition
No one need give you permission
What are you waiting for?

Vivez! Live!
No one lets loose every which way
Life is too short to be guarded
I think I'm quite open-hearted
Loosen that heart if you dare
Come and lay your passions bare
But, my dear, if people stare...
Then it's time to let your hair come tumbling down

What of propriety?
There are rules we obey in society
You prefer to live calmly and quietly
But your heart wants to play

Oh, vivez!
You have one life, let it be gay
Don't put it off till you're dying
Now is the time to be flying
Grab up your one golden chance
Darlings, life is such romance
Life is tossing you a new bouquet
Meet your heart half-way
And your heart will say vivez!

I am thankful life is tossing me a new bouquet.  I intend to grasp it with both hands, find the joy that so easily becomes forgotten.  Though there will be time for living calmly and quietly, I prefer now to take advantage of my waning youth and grab up my one golden chance.  Won't you join me?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blissfully Unaware

How many things in our lives can we really just "let go" and not worry about anymore?  Probably more than we ever will.  At the suggestion of a friend, I think I have decided to let something go and, in turn, become blissfully unaware.  As you know, ever since I lost my children to their maturity and desire to leave home (and me) to go to college, I have been nurturing a new "child", a little blog I like to call Ardith's Quest.  I have watched as its readership has grown and, more importantly, as its direction has clarified.  I have observed the "author"  becoming more confident in sharing herself; more confident in addressing subjects close to her heart.  It has been an interesting venture.

Part of the process has included a statistics counter, which breaks down the actual visitor information to more than just blog hits.  It has tracked the number of new visitors per day, repeat visitors, where they are in the world, and the path they used to find my blog.  Fascinating stuff.  Kind of addictive stuff. 

It has led me to question my motivation.  Why am I writing this blog?  Is it to have a creative outlet?  To encourage personal thinking at a deeper level?  To exercise my writing skills?  Or is it to see which subjects will draw in the most readers from the broadest locations?

I think my little stat counter has jeopardized the integrity of my writing.  I know it certainly has driven me crazy, wondering who is reading and where they are from.

I want to write because it makes me feel better when I have somewhere to express my thoughts.  I want to write because it is a great way of preserving my family history; stories, pictures, and all.  Every few months I have my blog posts bound into books which I hope will become treasures to my children and grandchildren.

I choose to become blissfully unaware of who is reading my blog.  It doesn't matter.  I love it when someone  mentions something I have written, something that made an impression on them.  That is the real value in writing a blog--knowing that I have made a connection with someone through my thoughts.  And it is kind of thrilling to know that my readership possesses an anonymity, too.  Makes it more mysterious.

Feel free to continue sharing your comments, anonymously if you like.  Feel free to share my blog with your friends if you think it worthy to pass along.  I don't plan on going anywhere for awhile; I like it here.  Posts may be a little sparse over the next month as I am knee deep in wedding preparations.  Be patient with me.  And maybe be a little jealous of me as I become, at least in one area of my life, blissfully unaware.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Without the Hurt...

...the heart is hollow."  Anybody?  Who knows the reference?  C'mon, somebody?

I hope that little snippet of lyric took a few of you back in your memory to one of the most charming of shows, The Fantasticks!  I love The Fantasticks.  I really do.  And I have never seen it on Broadway, in fact I have never seen a live performance.  (Why is that?)  I do own the movie on DVD that was made a few years ago, celebrating the longest-running Musical in New York City, working on 50 years right now and certain to be around much longer.

Why?  How can a little simplistic show with only a handful of characters and minimalist set keep drawing people in, night after night, year after year?

Its message is universal and it offers something for all ages to identify with.  While at face value it appears pretty straight forward and basic, beneath the surface it offers a richness of philosophy, and its greatest calling card, I think, is an unforgettable score.  The music is entrancing, hummable, simply beautiful, and in some ways even haunting.  The songs of The Fantasticks have become a part of me.  They often replay in my head, lifting me with hope, allowing me to wallow in sadness sometimes, and helping me to remember that through trials come strength of character and strength of love.

It employs a common device.  The end of Act One appears to be the "perfect ending".  We could all go home then thinking, 'Wasn't that nice?  I love happy endings.'  Of course, as in life, the 'happily ever after' is usually premature.  The real struggle comes with a few doses of reality.  Things aren't always as bright and shiny as we hope.  Tarnished by challenge, the real beauty of life eventually surfaces.

For those not familiar with this show, find a way to acquaint yourselves.  For those that already love it, I hope this little reminder will help you to hum a new song today, one that you haven't thought of in awhile.  Try to Remember...