"May you LIVE all the days of your life" - J. Swift

Friday, July 27, 2012

Anything besides hiking and boating?

Oh yeah, (Laura, and Jared, and now Mer)... I was going to tell you about the rest of the summer:

Hiking and boating were the key events, but there have been more. I've played some racquetball, completed my summer indexing goal, played JT on many happy occasions, had a ton of reunions with close friends and roommates from my past... one whom I hadn't seen in 17 years.  I've been to a few movies (Avengers, Spiderman, Snow White, and Brave).  I've gone to Bees games, a Real game, the Scottish Festival, and the Joshua Radin concert.  I've ridden little Fuchsia (my scooter) around, been for a motorcycle ride, dressed up like a cow to get a free meal at Chik-fil-a (only with Laura would I do that... Loved it!) and got a free Slurpee on 7/11.  I played pianos on the sidewalk downtown, went to the farmer's market, grilled pizzas, read a few books (History of Love, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Temple and Cosmos (currently), and some books for work...).  I went on walks, went to the temple weekly (haven't missed a week since March 2011 at this point... yay!).  I've eaten well... meaning good food. I could have stood to eat more healthily.  I had a cooking class and went to the Chalk Art Festival.  I've been to a couple funerals (sad) and weddings (happy), and attended some parties and barbecues.  I've met new friends, and cherished long-time friendships.  I have even worked several days this summer.

It has been packed... And what it has helped me to see is that I have a life filled with the best of people, good adventures, amazing memories, incredible opportunities, and the Gospel.  I couldn't ask for any better than that.

...And the Summer of Boating

"For as many times as we've been boating, we should be a ton better than we are."  -- Marinda

Dear Laura (and Jared): (Better, Lavern?):

Well, it's true.  We should be better than we are.  What can I say?  I recognize my cautious nature, and at the same time my desire to jump on a wakeboard.  So I cautiously jump, but I jump... every time I go now.  It's the landing upright part that I haven't gotten down yet.  Still, I've only come close to a concussion once.  I think I have it now... The headache I've had since Tuesday's ordeal hasn't been too consoling.  Worth it?  Yes.  It has been the funnest boating summer in many years.  Mainly because I have been invited to go so much more than in the past.  It's the wonderful blessing of now having two friends with boats.  I've been boating with Mike and Mer for years.  Love their boat, love their family, love being out with them.  So many good memories.

Now, Brad has been kind enough to invite me several times.  He is in the branch and a fantastic (and quite patient) captain and person.  

So, following are pics from the summer of boating.  

Mer, Constance, and me!
Me and my favorite little Utah guys
Happy times!

 Bradford taught me to drive the boat!!! :)  Big smile.  Too big.

 Will looking all relaxed and GQ

 Fire on the water group: July 14th

 I'm not sure on this one.  Your guess?  

Best tubing crash catch 

And back to Mer and Mike's boat.
Connie Wake Surfing... Looks pro, doesn't she?

Fishing, Mike?
 The Afro made it back to the boat

What an awesome family!  Thanks for the good summer times. :-)

The Summer of Hiking

I'm sure I've been on more than a dozen hikes this summer.  I love getting out in nature... sometimes alone, other times with friends.  Hiking is one of my favorite ways to appreciate the gift of this beautiful  creation. Here are a few pics from my summer of hiking.

Tandy and I... yeah, she's the reason I committed to hiking weekly this summer... but where has she been in the past month?  Absent.  We gave it a good start though.  First with her was Lower Falls.

Then, Rocky Mouth

 ...On to Broads Fork

And finally, Red Pine Lake

Constance and Cherissa at Bell Canyon Reservoir (I've probably done this hike 1/2 a dozen times alone) in the past few months.  Also, a cool shot from my favorite spot, and then a super cool shot of me in my sunglasses. :)

The next two are me and Christian at Ghost Falls at Corner Canyon.  I also did this one with Melinda... but no picture that time... and I thought I got one. :-(

Justin and I on the Red Pine Lake trail.  

 We also hiked Sunset Peak

 And Silver Fork

Silver Lake with Melissa  

 Mill B North trail with Matt

Desolation Trail with members from the branch on the 4th of July

There have been others that I don't have pictures of, like Lake Solitude & Greens Basin, but you get the idea.  Looking back over these, I'm grateful that I've gotten outside a bunch.  I have loved every hike and every moment of peace, contemplation, friendship, and solitude in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. 

The Summer of Boating post comes next... stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Best Advice I too Seldom Take

I just realized I never posted this last month when I wrote it.  So, here it is... another post on song quotes.

There's a song I love called "Come from the Heart" which, I believe, was based off an old poem.  I'm not sure who authored that, so this is all about the song here. The lyrics are a great lesson to me... excellent advice that I, for one, too seldom take.  So, let this be a reminder to me.  

The lines from the chorus follow:

You've got to sing like you don't need the money

Ok, I do a fairly amazing job at this one.  Singing like I don't need the money is a talent of mine... This nearly always involves my crutch: JT (my guitar).  Now, I can usually sing on pitch.  I have the right sense of rhythm and can make a song sound like the correct song.  But I have a pretty average voice, sound, and ability level, and mostly... people aren't asking to listen.  So... I sing like I don't need the money, because, yes... I do sing anyway.  I mean, maybe I do need the money, but I wouldn't get much for my lack of true talent.  Proof: When I was in Israel studying abroad, I played guitar and sang with a friend on Ben Yehuda Street.  In a half hour or so we earned a few shekels.  That's not much.  We could have gotten some Mentos with our loot, I'm sure.  A truly talented performer befriended us, borrowed one of our guitars, played for 3 minutes and quintupled our earnings or more.

Well, Symbolically, I don't think the line is necessarily about singing, but about all those things that we love to do but are too timid, or embarrassed, or self conscious about to really do it loud and right.  We just need to go for it!  Be who we are and who we want to be, do what we want to do, and quit worrying so much about what others think.  If it's something we love doing, we should do it no matter how we look, sound, or feel... do it for the love of doing it and experiencing. Chances are, we'll find that the people listening love us all the more for just that.

Love like you'll never get hurt

Now, I used to be amazing at this.  I would give my heart away somewhat easily when I found a quality guy.  And I'd love... then I'd hurt.  Then I'd love, then I'd hurt.  So, present day me:  CAUTIOUS!  Have fun, get to know people, serve, give, enjoy, but hold back a bit, at least emotionally.  Sometimes a lot.  Because when you get hurt, it can really hurt.  (profound, no?)  But when we don't give everything... when we're not willing to give our heart, it's not as real.  It's not the whole and complete you (me), and you (I) feel it.  When is the right time to show and be the whole you?  Probably from the start.  Give it all.  As Neal A. Maxwell said, "No love is ever wasted.  Its worth does not lie in reciprocity."  So, maybe the real trick is to be willing to love, wholly and completely, whether in friendships or romantic and other relationships, and work on doing so selflessly, so that when you do get hurt, it's ok.  It's ok, because you did it right.  And the pain will end, and you will have been all the better for loving the whole way through.  This is advice I need to take more readily.

You've got to dance like nobody's watching 

Literal interpretation: Anyone who knows what I dance like (a rare, precious few for my lack of taking this advice) would be able to say... "Oh, yeah, she danced like no one was watching, or she wouldn't have danced at all."  I'm not good.  I wasn't willing to learn the skills as a child, have regretted that in my adult-life, and now will sometimes dance... sometimes like nobody's watching.  But most often, I KNOW people are watching so I step out of the room.  I'm working on this one.  And in the right circumstances I just go for it... knowing I have no clue how to look good on the dance floor, and just pray that everyone around me is entertained by me rather than shaking their heads at me.

Figurative interpretation: Who freaking cares what you look like when you dance?  Give up the pride and live your life in bold humility.

Well, in the song, Guy Clark sums it all up when he sings:

It's gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

If everything we do comes from the heart, we can live feeling ok about what we've done, how we've lived, who we've become.  May I take the advice a little closer to heart.

Following is a link to the folk song.  No video.  Sad.

Guy Clark: Come from the Heart

What was I thinking?

I'm considering renaming my blogsite "Dear Laura", in honor of the one whom I believe to be my only (consistent anyway) reader.  :)

Sometimes I remember things I've done and think, "What was going through my head at the time I decided THAT would be a good idea?"

I was with some long-time friends on Sunday, and one reminded me of a few things I did to help her make it through high school and college. Oh, but the high school ones... Yeah, they weren't good things. They were more like,... Hmm, what's the word?  Oh yeah, cheating.  For example, I wrote a research paper for her.  It was actually a partnered one, so I wrote it for myself, too.  She says she paid me for that.  Great!  I accept bribes.  And I don't even remember.  I hope I did something good with that dirty money.

Another, I took her geometry take-home final for her. Yes, I really did.  I remember that one well.  I told her she was going to have to stay by me and I would explain everything I was doing so I could feel a little better about it. I gave up on that idea quickly enough and sent her on her merry way as I finished the test.  The question came up tonight from some other friends, "Why did you do that?" Because, for those who know me, that really is out of character... especially for present day me.  Well, maybe back then I was a little more rebellious.  Or maybe I just liked math and wanted to have some fun with a geometry test.

I didn't know the real answer for why I did it for her, though, so I deferred to my friend who reminded me: "Well, it's because I had Mr. ____ as a teacher, and you knew he was no good so it wasn't my fault I didn't know what I was doing in math."  Upon hearing that, I slipped back into that same high school mentality and thought, "Oh yeah, That's right.  Of course."  Then realized, "What!?  Why was that enough to suddenly make it ok to cheat?"  Ahhh... sometimes I forget there really is a rather significant growing character phase in those middle, high school, and early college years.  Good news though, I  She passed the test and graduated.  And I have repented.  Win/Win.

Friday, July 20, 2012

That Table

So, the story goes... When I graduated from BYU and got a job in the real world and eventually moved to Salt Lake, I came to the conclusion that it would be a good thing for me to go visit my grandma every week or two.  My logical mind determined that I should make dinner at her place because we both had to eat, right?  Thus, Grandma became my guinea pig of sorts each Tuesday evening.  She was a good sport about it, even when she had to eat meals she probably would have rather skipped.

The routine went like this: I'd race home from work, change clothes, grab the recipe, run to the store to grab the ingredients, and go to Grandma's.  I'd cook while she watched the news... declaring how much she disliked President Bush, or how she liked the new Jazz Jerseys.  When it was time to eat, she turned the tv off... every time.  Then commenced the sacred time when we'd sit at her dining table in the chairs that were straight out of the 70's -- with their cream and orange, gold, and green tones.  After a prayer, we'd eat and talk... at least until it was time to clean up and call my sister (because my grandma, a retired phone operator, got free long distance... very cool in 2002).  

As we sat at that table, my grandma told me stories... Fascinating, non-fiction stories from her life, like the one about Bud, who she nearly eloped with when she was around 20 years old, and who later became her boyfriend at the age of 85.  Or the one about when she shook hands with President Kennedy and how much she liked him, as opposed to the other presidents she met, like (I think) Nixon or Carter (who she "didn't care much for").  She told me about how her brother set fire to the family house when she was a young child, and it completely burned down. And how she still met monthly with the group of friends who formed when they were 13 years old and called themselves the "Sewing Club".  She shared how a group of friends and their husbands formed a bet that became the catalyst for my aunt being conceived and considered one of the "bet babies". And she told me a little about my grandpa, who died when my mom was just one year old.  So many stories.  I loved it.  Learning her values, hearing her perspectives and memories.  The thing she valued most in life was her relationships with friends and family, and that table, or our moments there anyway, brought my relationship with my grandma to a deeper level.  

She gave me that table.  When she was no longer in good enough health to be at a place big enough to have a kitchen.  She gave it to me because of the time we spent together at that table.  I've had it in my house since I moved in seven years ago.  She passed away four years ago.  But I still had the table.

Until today... I gave that table away.  I gave it to a friend's family because I got a new table and chairs... contemporary ones that are "more my style." It sounds so callous now: Throw out an object with such sentimental value for something with NO similar value, just because I like it better.   But I have been wanting to do this for awhile. And have taken years warming up to the idea.  And while I do love the new table, I did get unexpectedly emotional, misty-eyed and even choked up as I watched that old, memory-filled table go out the door.  

Then I went to the Midvale City Cemetery and put flowers on my grandma's grave.  The table was just the symbol, anyway.  She's still with me.  I love her.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Face Tomorrow

I could write a blog post every day for the rest of my life using song quotes and likely not run out of material.  I look to music as a form of therapy at times... Be it spiritual music or just songs that give a bit of hope or direction.  In fact, I have a playlist I often listen to filled with non-religious songs that are uplifting or have lines I consider worth quoting... songs that give hope or inspire in some way.  Music is a powerful force in my life.  Not that I always listen.  I take special measure to provide moments of contemplation in silence, without anything playing in the background.  And sometimes I listen to books on tape or a talk or listen to the news on the radio.  Still, I love those moments when there is a message shared with me powerfully through a random lyric that some songwriter wrote along their journey, which, in turn, helps me along my journey.  

So, my next series of blog posts may be all based on this idea.  

This particular post begins where my last post left off.  The decision I was facing was whether to keep a job I'd accepted at a local elementary school in a district, or to keep my job at the charter school. There were quite a few pros to both, and cons to match.  Different potential for future opportunities.  And a lot of personal, emotional reasons to make this decision even more difficult.  

In the end, I decided to stay where I was, and consequently face the rather difficult task of going against my original word and letting the school that had offered me the position know that I was actually not going to sign the contract.  I felt sick to my stomach for a bit.  It wasn't easy.  I suddenly recalled all the reasons I shouldn't or didn't want to stay where I was.  And yet, by then it was certainly too late.  Fortunately, I really did feel best about that decision, and soon after, I felt the peace and comfort in making it.  And part of the peace came when I heard a song and listened to the lyrics a little better than I had in the past, and decided to face tomorrow in high hopes and spirits.  

Yes, the searching is easy. It is the finding that's hard. Just keep looking
and you'll discover, who you are. 

(Realizing here that searching for the answer truly was the easy part... time consuming, but I knew what to do and found blessings all around as I did that.  
Finding and recognizing the final answer was a pretty true trial... yet in the process I discovered a bit more of who I truly am, and I think that was part of why I faced it all in the first place)

Life's too short to second guess, I'll surely make mistakes
I'll just try to do my best, no matter what it takes

Here's hoping this wasn't one of the mistakes I'd surely make! :)... Regardless, I will continue to do my best in this and all other endeavors:

I'll face tomorrow like yesterday. 
Face tomorrow. Come what may

It is a bright prospect to simply face tomorrow, like yesterday (so far all has worked out, right?).  Yep, I'll face tomorrow, come what may ("and love it" -- Joseph B. Wirthlin)