Thursday, December 15, 2011


For the past 21 months, my life has been consumed, and I haven't felt at liberty to discuss any of it on this blog, until now.

In February 2010, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3C endometrial cancer. We almost lost her then. I brought her home to live with me in Idaho, where she began aggressive treatment. By the summer, her cancer had metastasized. Stage 4. Still, the treatment was effective in containing and killing her cancer, and hormone treatments kept the tumors in her liver from growing. Unfortunately, that treatment was so aggressive that it finally killed her as well as her disease. She passed away November 30th.

My mom was a good, kind, hard working, faithful woman. Yet she and I had a complicated relationship ... at least from my perspective. We weren't very alike, we two, and those differences in our personalities and even, ironically, our upbringings made it difficult for us to really communicate or connect about anything deeply significant. Add to this having to take on the role of caregiver, and I spent two years in emotional conflict. I frequently had less than kind feelings toward my mother, and that always then made me also feel guilty. What kind of daughter, after all, would be angry at a mother who was suffering the way that she was? To cope, I became emotionally detached at a time when my mother needed emotional support more than ever.

The last two months of her life I was able to let go. It wasn't very noble of me. My mom had become so weakened, so sick, so dependent, so frankly pitiful, that it was now impossible to continue to harbor resentments. She'd had surgery and was in the hospital for a total of 7 1/2 weeks. She then came home with hospice care and was only home for 3 weeks before she was gone. The last week, she wasn't able to speak to me. Saturday and Sunday she'd been more alert, and though unable to answer back, she was looking at me with an intensity that I was certain she understood what I was saying. I told her how much I loved her, what a great mom she'd been. I told her about the things I admired about how she'd lived her life. The great teacher she was, the kind neighbor, the caring daughter. Without actually saying the words, I was able to say goodbye. That Sunday night she fell asleep and never woke up. On Wednesday morning she passed away.

It's been two weeks. Two weeks and one day as of this publishing. It's funny, I find myself counting the time as I did the ages of my newborns. I don't plan to, it's just how I am thinking about this. In some ways don't miss her yet, as if she's not really dead but only away. I'm used to being without my mother. For years we lived 3,000 miles apart and only saw each other for 10 days every year. But for the past nearly two, she's been right in my home, needing attention and care. So in other ways I feel a little lost, like I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be doing.

I assume that after the holidays, when the kids are back in school, my time will fill back up with whatever it is my time gets filled with. In the meantime, it's hard to go to bed when I should, and it's hard to want to stay awake during the day. It's hard to try to wrap my brain around this new motherless reality of mine, especially since, to be honest, I'm trying to avoid thinking of it as much as I can. There is a holiday to put on for my kids, and I can't seem to manage preparing for that and thinking about my mom at the same time. Processing may need to wait.

I keep thinking of the original lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas:"

Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow.
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow,
And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.

Clearly, the fates didn't allow for one last Christmas with my mother. But I assume that as time passes that fact will seem less tragic. Perhaps even next year I won't feel like I'm muddling through. It may take longer.

Merry Christmas, dear friends.

Friday, September 02, 2011

In the Quiet Heart

I had a three distinct, consecutive experiences the other day that got me thinking about tolerance, understanding, and compassion.

#2 has had her learner's permit for two weeks. She is doing very, very well. However, she is still learning. It's why they don't just hand out licenses to kids on their birthdays. One of the things that is hard to do is to determine how much time you have to merge or turn into traffic. Because #2 is also still figuring out how much and when to accelerate, we are leaving very large buffers in car lengths when merging onto a busy road. That day we were sitting at a yield sign waiting for enough space when the guy behind us apparently decided that she'd missed some opportunities to go and honked. That sort of impatience is hard enough for me to blow off when I'm the driver, but when it's my kid, mama-bear began to emerge. I really wanted to let this guy have a piece of my mind. "Give my kid a break! She's been driving for two weeks! Come and see me in 7 years when your kid there starts to drive!" Of course, I couldn't do it. But man, did I ever want to.

We got to our destination, which was a frozen yogurt place, and ordered our last-day-of-summer treats. When #3 finished hers, she dumped her trash into a very small waste bin that was clearly intended for sample cups. Not the end of the world, but to avoid having my family fill the bin unnecessarily I mentioned to #1 that when she was finished she ought to use the bigger bin by the door. In response #1 threw a fit. She started yelling that she never used small trash cans and why was I telling her to use the big one--it was #3 who used the wrong can. She went on, and I tried to calm her down a little, but it's sometimes best just to drop it and let her tirade run it's course. As frequently happens in these cases, we got stared at by a woman who was also there with her teenage kids. It's not obvious by looking at #1 that she is mentally handicapped. And the sight of an almost 17 year old throwing a toddler-style fit is not pretty. I get that. But I always feel torn between wishing I could explain and feeling resentful that I should have to explain in order to have some grace extended to my child. So I (not very maturely) stared right back at the woman until she turned back around.

After dropping the kids home I needed to run to the store for school lunch supplies for the next morning. (I firmly believe in getting things done waaay in advance.) On the way, my gas started acting weirdly. I was loosing momentum and was getting ready to pull over to the shoulder just past a 4-way stop when my (11 month old) car died entirely. This left me without steering, so all I could do was coast to the stop-sign. I immediately turned on my hazards and literally within about 20 seconds two guys had each hopped out of their vehicles to help me push the car to the side of the road. I called Larry for help, and while I waited for him to arrive about every 5th car to pass during this rush-hour time asked if I needed help or a phone or gas or if help was on it's way. It was exceptional. Most of these folks were probably on their way home from being gone all day and yet were willing to take time to potentially give more time to help a stranger.

Standing there on the side of the road, I started to think about the difference between these situations and how others responded to my family and I. It wasn't hard to pinpoint. It all came down to the hazard lights. People instantly knew that I was in distress. They responded as I believe most of us would. There's no 14-year-old-new-driver light for my car. There's no severe-mental-retardation light for my daughter. And it didn't take long for me to think of the fact that perhaps there was a light that the impatient driver behind me was wishing he could flash, so that I could understand his mood or sense of urgency. Sure, he could have extended some compassion, but then so could have I toward him in return.

We never know who's husband is chronically ill, or who is care-giving a mother with cancer. Who battles anxiety, or who has kids with special needs. It might be me. But it might be the woman eating yogurt at the table next to me, or the guy driving a car behind me. And if it's not any of those concerns, it could very well be something else.

I love the LDS hymn "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." One of the verses sings,

Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see.
And in the next,
I would be my brother's keeper; I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary, I would show a gentle heart.

It's that gentle heart that all of us yearn for as we muddle through life. And it's the gentle heart that many of us, myself most definitely included, need to practice giving more freely.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Happy New Year

The following post was originally posted by myself on my friend Chris's blog in September 2009. I thought it was worth reposting here.

My father was a university student when I was born. I was in the third grade when he received his PhD. I went straight to college myself after graduating high school, and got married during my junior year. My husband started a master's program as I was finishing my bachelor's degree. And my two oldest children were in school when he finally decided not to pay to write a dissertation for a doctorate in history that he no longer planned to use. My oldest child is about to start ninth grade and my baby, second.

My entire life has revolved around the traditional school calendar.

I guess it makes sense then that I always feel a greater sense of renewal and starting afresh on September 1st than I do in January. In September we start new routines, we advance grades, we buy new clothes, new backpacks, and new supplies. In September we make new friends and reacquaint ourselves with old ones. We start new sport seasons in new, larger cleats. We are assigned new teachers and occasionally adjust to a whole new school. In January we merely pick up where we left off before the Christmas Holidays. And occasionally make resolutions that have generally been forgotten by February.

Last year was a stressful one for my family. We moved 900 miles away, built a house and a warehouse, faced a family tragedy and business and personal financial struggles. Many good things happened, too, and overall I feel blessed. But I approach this new school year ready to move on. I look forward to a year where we are settled into our surrounding environs and routines. Where the stressors we encounter are every-day, garden variety stresses. Where we have only one house payment and our business is all located in one state under one enormous roof. I look forward to getting more involved again at my kids' schools. As the four of them will be spread among three campuses, this should keep me plenty busy.

Just for good measure, I'll throw in here that I look forward to weighing about 15 pounds less than I currently do. But I'm sure that effort will be abandoned by October.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Simply Remember My Favorite Things ...

I really want to get back to posting more. Unfortunately, much of what goes through my head these days is a little bit of a downer. (See my last post ...) So, in an effort to show that I do in fact appreciate that my life is not absolutely horrible, I am posting a list of some of my biggest blessings at the moment. It's not the sort of thing I usually do. I run the risk of sounding cheesy, or worse, braggy. Today it's a risk I'll take. With a smile on my face.

I am so excited for #3. She is starting middle school next week, and with it, orchestra. Being a former band-geek myself, I love when my kids are involved with music, especially at school. She's been taking guitar for about 5 years now, and is adding violin. Her guitar teacher also teaches violin, and so their focus is shifting for a while until she starts to get the new instrument down. She's had 3 violin lessons now, and is doing really well. YAY, #3!

We've jokingly called this summer "the summer of #2." It's not entirely true, but a great deal of time has been spent by me on the road taking #2 to drivers' ed and soccer. The great news is that she's passed drivers' ed and is now in possession of a learner's permit. That's also the scary news. But honestly, it's not too bad. She does pretty well. And come late February, we will have another driver at our disposal, which will be cause for much rejoicing. The greatest news is that #2 made her high school JV soccer team. After being cut last year, she worked her little tail off, improved vastly, and is so excited to be part of the team. They are a great team, too. It's so much fun to watch her play in a stadium.

Along similar lines, #4 is taking a break from soccer. This is really a huge relief. It's a break for our schedule, and it will be good for him, as well. #4 likes sports on a recreational kind of level, but his true interests lie elsewhere. It will be good to pursue things like music and drama.

I am taking a vacation in a couple of weeks. It won't be long, but I'll be with a couple of my favorite people in a beautiful city, and I cannot wait.

It's almost fall. My favorite season. I'm really having to hold back pulling out the autumn decor. Sweater weather for me is as comforting as cocoa. Apples and pumpkins, rusty foliage and chrysanthemums. I hope the weather this year doesn't skip from summer to winter. I'll be crossing my fingers.

Then there is Yogalaxmi. She deserves her very own post. Be watching for more on her ...

Finally, no list of my blessings is ever complete without a little bit on my life partner. I would love to say that I got such a great husband because I knew what I was doing when I picked Larry. But let's face it--I was only 19. All I knew was that I couldn't stand the thought of continuing on with life without him. I lucked out. I got a talented, intelligent, hard-working, funny, responsible guy. There is no one on this planet who I'd rather spend time with. He is incredibly supportive of me, and he needs my support as well. He has also taken on responsibility for my mother. He does it willingly and patiently and selflessly. Today I am thankful that he was born 41 years ago. Here's to another 41, at least!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Since I can remember (or at least since I've been old enough to have deadlines) there has existed for me a threshold of busy-ness beyond which I am unable to continue to function. Past that level I become virtually paralyzed by an overwhelming fear that nothing on my list can possibly be accomplished on time. And I do nothing. I am aware that this response is entirely self-defeating and ultimately self-fulfilling. Nothing will get done if I am not moving forward. The only reasonable course of action in these situations is to get to work. But it is crushingly difficult for me to do that when the list is too long. Some readers will not understand this at all. Others will totally get it. Brains are wired differently, and I believe this issue may be a symptom more on the anxiety-depression/functional acceptance spectrum rather than the hard-working/laziness spectrum.

Recently, I have become aware that this tendency of mine spills into other areas of my life beyond the "to do" lists. In fact, this post, which has been brewing and evolving in my brain for weeks now, was originally going to be about this sort of paralysis in relation to my body-image issues. Exciting, I know. To my credit, however, I did have a clever title and lots of little self-deprecating one-liners all ready to go. It may have been entertaining after all ...

I digress. As I pre-composed this post in my mind, I realized that at the moment my lack of inner peace involves SO much more than the number on the scale. I see areas everywhere where I am lacking, and where I'm really not headed in any sort of direction to improve, and I find it depressing. I am a Wife, a Mother, a Caregiver-Daughter, a Young Women President, a Dog Owner, a Gardener, an Amateur Artist/Musician/Seamstress, a Visiting Teacher, a Friend, a Blogger, a Reader, a Homemaker, a Chicken-Keeper, a Daughter of God, a Person with a Body. Without getting in the boring minutia of my pitiful life, I will simply say that the only role that I am not performing at a sub-par level is Reader. I am 6 books, or 11%, ahead of schedule to complete my goal of reading 52 books this year. Yay for me. Everywhere else my performance leaves much to be desired.

The list is too big. I am overwhelmed. And paralyzed.

In regards to my weight, I've been toying with the idea of how to *gasp* learn to be happy with the weight I am. I seriously don't know where to begin with that, but I feel like something has to give, and this is the only thing I see that can. Really though, it's a similar problem with the "everything else" part of my list. Is there a way for me to be at peace with who I am without giving up? I believe that we constantly need to be growing ... striving to be better. But for me, this comes with a super-sized side order of guilt and stress.

I am more than vaguely aware that the answer to this question has it's roots in prayer, in spiritual study, in service. Yet that awareness is easier for me to come by than to follow through on at this stage. The list is too big. I am overwhelmed. And paralyzed.

Ironically, it's the to-do-list type of activities which often overwhelm me that are keeping me from crawling under a rock at the moment. None of them takes emotional energy to perform. Drive to driver's ed? Check. Do the laundry? Check. Organize another YW activity? Check. And of course: Read? Check, check, check.

As I imagine comments to this post, I am tempted to turn them off. But instead of doing that (which frequently seems a little dramatic to me) I will just say that I'm not really looking for pity, or for solutions (unless they involve books and/or chocolate). If there's anything I need at the moment, it's camaraderie. Just so I know I'm not crazy. Or if I am crazy, to know that I'll have a lot of friends with me in the asylum.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Your Minister's Easter Post

Happy Holy Week. It's a time for renewal, reflection, re-dedication, and mass quantities of chocolate. (Ugh. When will I EVER get my eating habits back on track?)

One of my favorite Easter stories comes from my aunt, who had a woman in her congregation take a stand about the commercialization of the holiest of holidays. No Easter goodies for her kids that year, only celebration of the atonement and resurrection. Her young son's plea? (You have to hear this in your mind coming from a little Southern Cali boy with an inexplicable New Jersey accent.) "Mommy, can't we at least have a chocolate Jesus on a cross?"

Well, we do try in our home to focus on the Savior as much as possible at this time. But there is no denying that what my kids look most forward to are new Sunday outfits, filled baskets, chocolate, orange rolls, dying boiled eggs, chocolate, the cousin egg-hunt on Saturday, and of course, chocolate. They won't be disappointed. We'll have it all. And then some. (Do I make the lime cheesecake for Sunday dessert or the carrot cake? And if I do the cake, do I make it into cute bunny cakes or cupcakes?)

But one thing I've never done with my kids is perpetuate the Easter Bunny myth. I just can't. You may ask why not. That would be an especially understandable query if you know me well enough to know that I love the Santa stuff and Tooth Fairy fun. We are nearly over loosing teeth chez nous, but I still won't admit to my kids aloud that there is no Santa. And they can't admit it to me either, because, as they are warned, Santa doesn't bring presents to kids who don't believe in him.

The thing is, I find the Easter Bunny idea to be kinda, well, creepy. I have nothing against bunnies in general. Nothin's cuter than a little lop running around your house. Bunny Peeps? My favorite shape. Let 'em get a little stale and those crunchy ears are the best, Jerry, the BEST. Bunny cakes were already addressed above. Chocolate bunnies? Do I even need to respond to this one?

But an over-grown rabbit, who may or may not sport formal-wear, hiding baskets and boiled eggs that weren't even his own but that *I* remember dying (yeah, this issue goes waaay back)? Well, that's over the top. I think I may prefer an encounter with an R.O.U.S. because I know for certain that I should attack on sight.

As a kid there were several years that I tried to stay up to catch the Easter Bunny in the act. I was skeptical, frankly, as well as creeped out. I often wanted to see Santa as well, yet I don't remember ever feeling the need to prove something--I just wanted to hug him. (I guess for me a magical little old man with reindeer and a sleigh was a much easier story to swallow.) Those Easter-eves I always fell asleep before the Bunny's arrival, and I wasn't ever sure if I was disappointed or relieved to have missed him.

One spring, when I was about 16, I actually got a gig as the Easter Bunny for a week or so at our local mall. Strangers all over Western Mass have photos of me with their kids and babies in boxes up in their attics. Of course, no one can tell it's me. I wouldn't even be able to tell you if it was me, thanks to that top-heavy, hot, Lysol-coated, condensation-filled helmet of a torture chamber they called a "mask." That thing was brutal. And it was hard to see out of. You couldn't look down. Most of the kids sitting on your lap are below eye-level, and it was hard to see where they were or what they were doing. I about freaked when I had to hold a several week old infant for photos. I was just glad she was too young to roll over. Also, the Easter Bunny doesn't talk. So I just got to give hugs and pat heads and wave like a beauty queen on a float. That was harder than one might think. Not only could I not see these kids ... I couldn't answer them. And the ones who weren't screaming were asking lots of questions.

When I became a mom, and #1 was getting old enough to start the Bunny thing, I just couldn't do it. And really, I didn't even need to. We always had the big egg hunt on Saturday with our cousins, and everyone knew it was the uncles out there hiding the eggs. (Which, I suppose, could be it's own brand of creepy.) So on Sundays, I just hid the baskets. And that was that. No freakish rabbit. Same great treats. Win-win.

I'll be interested to see what my kids do when they become parents. Maybe they'll go over-board with the Bunny since they had deprived childhoods. Or maybe I'll have passed on that particular neurosis to them, and we'll have a second generation of Bunny-free* Easter celebrations.

*chocolate and marshmallows not excluded

Friday, March 04, 2011

All is Safely Gathered In (or: No Use Crying Over Dry Milk)

There is an LDS cannery in Garden City, ID, just west of Boise. In the summer they can produce. In the winter, it's meat. Since we've moved here I've had the opportunity to serve there 4 or 5 times.

This is not something I love to do. In fact, I rather hate it. But our ward is assigned shifts to fill, and even though we are a huge unit, we seem to have trouble filling our slots. I have the time, my kids are all in school, and I am capable. Largely out of guilt, therefore, I sign up. There is indeed some satisfaction in helping to produce food that will be used for folks in need, some of whom I am sure I know and love. And if someday those folks happen to be my family and I ... well I am sure my service will take on additional meaning.

Yesterday I was scheduled to work from 12:30 to 4:30 canning beef chunks. It's as lovely an experience as it sounds. It's smelly and wet and greasy and cold. Or it's hot, if you're working by the steam. It's also deafening. Even with earplugs. Time drags on like it does no where else. I was downright whine-y to my husband about having to go. But I couldn't not--it just isn't in me to flake if I know I'm flaking. So I bundled up in a flannel shirt, wool socks, and rain boots, and set off.

I've always thought that the blessings of service would be severely diminished if that service was given grudgingly, which fact crossed my mind as I complained to Larry. Yet, in spite of a poor attitude, I was handed some pretty nice blessings. First, I was asked to run quality control. This consisted of taking three samples of cans packed with beef before water is added, weighing each can and taking an average, and then doing the same with three sealed cans, water added. I recorded this information along with the time and the lot number every 15 minutes. Not cold, not wet, not quite as stinky. No sore back, knees or feet. Of course, that meant that I only was productive for about 3.5 minutes in every 15, but even so, time was segmented in a way that made it move faster for me. I was extremely grateful.

The next blessing, I'd never have anticipated. Every time you serve in the cannery, you receive a blue card. This card entitles you to purchase canned items from the cannery. Generally, you are only allowed to purchase only bulk items which you can yourself. I needed some bulk dry milk, so I went in after my shift and bought that and a case of canned beef chunks. One of the workers there helped me load my order into my car, and on his way back into the warehouse said to me (here comes that next blessing), "Good luck with your food storage."

That shouldn't have made me cry. Should it have? No. I'm pretty sure not. But it did, because he'd said it with meaning, like he was really concerned for the welfare of my family. And so am I. We used up most of our food storage before moving to Idaho, and once we got here weren't in a great financial position to rebuild those stores. We have a lot of expired #10 cans, too, that need replacing. It's a big job ahead, and it's a goal of ours to get that in order this year. I have been making some baby steps, but it's time to work in earnest. For some reason, this little comment, made by a stranger, has pushed my determination to do so to the next level. Those six simple words were an enormous blessing.

I'm glad I went.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's what's for dinner ...

Okay. So some things just should not irritate me. But they do.

#1 has a habit of asking what's for dinner. This isn't necessarily the problem. It's when she asks, it's how often, and occasionally it's about the annoying Phineas and Ferb accent she uses. Sometimes I've been gone all day, I'm tired, and the second I walk through the door I hear, "What's for dinner?" Sometimes I've answered this question of hers several times and yet again I get asked, "What's for dinner?" Sometimes I can see that she's looking AT THE MENU posted on the fridge in our pantry as she's asking, "What's for dinner."

And it makes me want to scream.

#1 is not a creature of habit, per se ... she's a creature of expectations. She simply wants to know what is going to be happening in her life on any given day or in any given week. It's how she processes the world around her. The problem isn't really that she wants to know what dinner is, the problem is entirely my response. I really do want to have patience with her.

Yesterday, while shopping for a family "jobs" board, I was inspired with a solution to this problem of mine. I found a little red magnet board, the perfect size for hanging an index card with dinner printed on it. I came home, hung it, made a cute magnet, and posted our dinner for the night. #1 came home, and I showed her, and told her how she can always look on this board for the correct menu item. (I will occasionally switch around my weekly menu, so it's not always accurate.) #1 seemed very excited about this.

I congratulated myself.

Today #1 came home, went straight to the menu board, and asked, "What's for dinner tomorrow?"

Thursday, February 03, 2011

More Than an Assignment

A friend of mine, who I desperately wish I'd gotten to know better before she moved, asked for some experiences with Visiting Teaching that she can use in a lesson on Sunday. I'm writing mine here.

Quickly, for my non-LDS readers, I will give a description of Visiting Teaching. The women's organization for Church members is called Relief Society. Visiting Teaching is a program in Relief Society designed to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the sisters. In an average sized congregation, sisters are paired into companionships and are assigned 2-4 sisters to visit. It is recommended that a formal visit is given monthly to each sister, to check on that sister and to bring a Gospel message. Then, throughout the month, any care or assistance that the sister may need is taken care of either by her Visiting Teachers personally, or if extra help is needed, the Visiting Teachers can let the leadership of the Relief Society know, and the help will be provided.

That's the ideal standard. It doesn't always happen that way. Humans are humans, and sometimes they get busy, distracted, uninspired, embarrassed, sick ... you get the picture ... and then the program doesn't run the way it ought. I will freely admit that I am not the world's best Visiting Teacher. I usually get my visits done, but I am not as great, in general, about that continuing support that I am supposed to be for the sisters I visit. There have been a few exceptions to this.

I have had some phenomenal visiting teachers, and I have had mediocre visiting teachers. And as I think back, the biggest difference has been whether or not these women have been my friends to begin with. I have had four in my life who were my good friends before the assignment was made. They loved me to begin with, they knew trials I was facing anyway, and I was willing to call on them when I needed help. These were also women who instead of asking, "How can I help?," would say, "I'm coming over to do this for you." Visiting Teaching at it's finest.

I did have one Visiting Teacher who was exceptional right from the start without knowing me previously. Not only did this woman come by for a monthly visit, she acted like I was her friend at church. She'd sit next to me during meetings. She'd smile when she saw me in the halls and ask me how things were going. She'd call occasionally to check up on me.

We had just moved to this area. It was a really hard time for our family. The bottom was falling out of our business, our house in CA was not selling, we were building a house and a warehouse which we were suddenly unsure we could afford. We had some stresses with our extended family. Larry was travelling to CA about twice a month. And frequently when he'd go, he'd give me some piece of bad business news, and take off, leaving me alone in a new place with no friends and no follow-up information about how maybe things weren't quite as desperate as he'd feared until he returned home several days later.

I was depressed. When Larry was gone I started to fall into the following routine: Get the kids up, make lunches, send them to school, go back to bed, wake up in time for them to come home, make dinner, help with homework, go to bed. If ever I was up when the kids weren't home, I was on line. That was the time that I had started to blog very regularly. It was a safer way to make friends and feel connected, and I love those friends I made, but the fact is that there is only so much comfort to be had through a computer screen, and much of what was really happening in my life I wasn't really sharing with the blogging community anyway.

One month, my Visiting Teachers were at my house, making their monthly visit, and this sister asked me if there was anything they could do for me. (This is pretty standard, and the standard answer is "No, we're just great. Thanks for asking.") Well, this sister had made enough of an impression on me about how much she really cared for me in just a few short months that I actually told her what I needed. It was a true first for me during a visit like that. I told her that every time Larry left I got stressed and depressed. I didn't tell her about the sleeping all day, because I was embarrassed. I DID tell her that it would be really great if we could get together and do something the next time he left. And we did. We made some cinnamon/applesauce ornaments at her house together, she made me lunch, and we talked about EVERYthing, including some things I'd not been able to share with anyone here. It was great. I still crawled into bed on other days, but at least that one day I was out and socializing and actually felt happy.

Yes, it's easy for me to come up with great examples of wonderful things that Visiting Teacher/Friends have done for me, but what I learned from this particular experience was that one of the best things that a Visiting Teacher can do is to become the real friend of the women she visits whether the relationship started that way or not. It takes time. It takes effort. And for people like me it takes reaching out of a comfort zone. It can be done. But it can't be done in just 30 minutes a month.

I wish I could report that I've taken this example to heart and have become that type of Visiting Teacher. I can't. But I think this month I may try a little harder to start being friends with the women I teach. I want them to know that to me they are more than just an assignment, and they won't feel that until it's true.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Almost-February!

#1 HaPpY bIrThDaY to my beautiful, sweet, talented, smart #3! 11 years ago today I was feeling great relief, physically and emotionally, if also a little beat up. It's hard to believe how quickly she is growing into a young woman. My love for #3 helps me to realize that I may indeed be worthy of the love of my Heavenly Father, strengths, weaknesses and all.

#2 What kind of idiot locks her keys in the trunk along with her groceries? Oh yeah ... that would be me. At least I have a patient husband willing to come rescue me.

#3 Everybody Wang Chung tonight. Perhaps I'm naive, but I have no idea what that means. Was it slang for something? Was it naughty? Was it like the Hustle? And why on earth did that band think that they were worthy of verb-hood? On the other hand, the song continues to get the air time to torment me a quarter of a century later, so maybe they were on to something.

Monday, January 03, 2011


For a while now, I've had occasional dreams that I call "facebook dreams." No, I'm not dreaming about facebook, rather, I am having dreams in which people from distinctly different, separate times or places in my life are featured together. As this never really happened before I had friends who were strangers to each other interacting with comments on my facebook posts, I've assumed that social networking was the prompt for these dreams.

The past week I've experienced a new type of internet inspired dream. Twice. The first time, I dreamt I was reading the blog of a real-life friend (which does in fact exist, and which I did in fact read regularly back when I blogged regularly). The post I read was a complaint about having to interact with annoying people. I was featured, by name, as an example of the type of person she can only manage to talk to when she "has the energy" for me. I was mortified and devastated, especially since I consider this to be one of my better friends in my area. (Even as I retell this dream, I am feeling some of the same negative reactions creeping in ... funny how my subconsciousness knows how to hit a nerve!) It thankfully was a dream in which I became aware that I was dreaming, and felt instant relief in the knowledge that this post was never written in real virtual life.

In my second dream I was reading an email from a woman I work with at Church. She was giving some calendar information, and telling us about some decisions she'd made regarding the auxiliary we serve in, being the president of that organization. The point of interest was that she announced that she'd resigned from the Ward Council. (For my non-LDS readers, the Ward Council is comprised of all of the presidents and leaders in a given congregation. The council meets monthly. One does not resign from this, but is only released with the end of one's calling as a leader.) And that was the big climax of my dream. Stephenie Meyer I clearly am not.

In each of these dreams, I was reading material on my lap-top, most of the dream consisting of text on a screen. The timing of these dreams seems especially odd to me, because I've been on the internet significantly less often in the past year than I had been the two years prior. It makes me wonder why I am dreaming these sorts of behaviors now. Why reading? And why on-line? I don't believe I've ever dreamed about reading novels, and I do that a ton. I am stumped, but it does look as though my dream-self is at last being propelled into the 21st century.

The final frontier? I have yet to dream about a person that I know exclusively on-line. Maybe that is coming. It seems certain it will if I continue dreaming about virtual interactions. I don't know which would impress me more--a dream about blogging with an otherwise un-met fellow blogger, or a dream about meeting such a person in real, non-virtual life. Perhaps time will tell. Until then, sweet dreams ...