Thursday, March 12, 2015

Makeup: I Can Live Without It


These are my eyes.  All my life I was told I had brown eyes and that is how I filled out every form that ever asked for my eye color.  Then a doctor I worked with a long time ago commented one day that he thought I had pretty, green eyes.  Other people have told me my eyes are amber or even hazel, but most people agree that my eyes are not brown. 

I don't have great eyelashes.  Especially the ones on the bottom.  You can't see those unless I have mascara on.  When I have mascara on, they look pretty good.  I don't have thick, unruly eyebrows either.  I'm glad they're not unruly, but I wish they were thicker and darker.  I have to darken them to really see that they are even there. 

I like my eyes.  I like to wear eye makeup.  In fact, it was one of the first ways I rebelled at home.  Wearing eye makeup.  It's always been fun for me to apply makeup.  I don't like a lot and I like it to be pretty classic looking, but I like wearing makeup.  I also have worn makeup for so long that it's hard to think about going out of the house without it. 

Over the last few years though, I have found myself getting more and more comfortable, and even liking, not wearing eye makeup.  Even in public.  I'm not scared of people seeing me without it, like I used to be in college.  And maybe it has something to do with having chronic dry eyes and the constant need for eye drops.  Some days, my eyes are just too tired and too sensitive and don't want to have makeup put on them. 

I had hip surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It went well.  I didn't break my hip or have a hip replacement.  I  have deformities, I guess you could call them, that have been with me probably for my whole life that cause extreme pain and discomfort and prevent me from doing things I would like to do and so it was time to get it corrected.  The recovery is long.  I have been flat in bed for two weeks.  This week I can sit for 15-minute periods, but then have to go back down for 2 to 3 hours.  So, you can imagine, I'm not wearing eye makeup right now. 

These last couple of weeks have been weirdly cool.  I get to sleep any time I want.  I have an excuse to rest.  My sister brought me her small fridge and so I have it in my room, stocked with cold drinks and snacks.  I have excuses to not do the things I don't want to do.  I get to  watch movies and read all day.  My neighbors from church have been spoiling me rotten by bringing dinners.  And, the coolest thing of all is that I have decided I like the way I look without makeup! 

My routine has had to be much shorter these days.  I get out of the shower and only can put on some moisturizer and brush my wet hair into a braid before getting back down flat.  Each time I have come face to face with my reflection these last many days, I have gotten more and more happy with the fact that, hey!  I didn't have to put any makeup on today!  I still look pretty darn good!  And, more than that, I don't care!  Yay! 

I'm 50 so I'm not old by any measurement, but I am tired of some things.  I'm tired of reading books that I don't love, so if it doesn't grab me in the first two chapters, I'm not going to finish it and I'm not going to apologize either.  I'm tired of eating so-so food.  If I have to eat to live, because that's me--I eat to live--I don't live to eat--then I want to eat delicious food.  That doesn't mean fancy or expensive.  It just means GOOD.  The meals my church friends have brought me, by the way, have been delicious!  I'm tired of conversations that are negative.  They wear me out.  I'm tired of worrying about the future, and I'm a grade-A worry wart.  I'm worn out with it.  I'm tired of the world, and all the forces within it, pressuring me to look a certain way or to be a certain kind of woman.  Guess what?  I will wear makeup when I want to and I won't wear it when I don't want to.  Maybe I won't wear it to church one day.  Maybe, even, I will teach my lesson at church without wearing makeup, just because I'd rather have 5 minutes extra time in the bubble bath.  Maybe I will wear lots of eyeliner to the grocery store and maybe I will wear a bare face and bright red lipstick only to the symphony.  I will do what I want, when I want.  And guess what?  It's okay because me wearing or not wearing makeup is not going to hurt anyone.  

And something else.  I'm tired of trying to search high and low for better mascara.  I just read an article that said it's all the same, basically.  It's so hard and takes so long to get patents on new formulas, that the only thing they can really do is come up with new wands and new tubes.  And then they sell it to us for $8 all the way up to $40 per tube.  And then, they tell us we'll all go blind if we don't throw mascara out every three months.  I think that's a bunch of hype.  In college, and when we were first married, and for several years after that, I didn't have the luxury of getting mascara every three months.  It wasn't in the budget.  Especially if the tube was still full.  I used mascara until it was so gone or so dried out I couldn't get any more out of the tube, and I NEVER went blind.  They tell us that because then they get to sell more mascara.  And we're supposed to be okay with that because then we can try all the hundreds of ridiculously shaped wands and colors of tubes and fancy names of mascara.  There is one called "Better Than Sex," and one called "They're Real," and other ridiculous names.  Please! 

I'm sure you have already read my post, or rather my rant, about false eyelashes.  If not, please give it a read.  I won't go into that here, but I'm not afraid to tell you I'm against them.  If I now happen to be in the mood to put mascara on, and two coats on the top and one on the bottom doesn't do any magic, well, too bad.  I have more important things to do, like artwork or stained glass or reading a book, or cooking something new for dinner, or doing Pilates, or making out with my husband, or talking to my children.  I don't have time to try to look like Lady Gaga.  Who would want to? 

I guess I'm just tired of feeling like every day I have to put on some kind of  a mask to be presentable to the world, or even to my husband and children.  Guess what?  After two weeks of no makeup, my husband still thinks I'm pretty and my kids don't think I'm an alien.  I bathe every day and wash and style my hair.  I wear cute clothes that are clean.  I smell good.  If I don't want to wear makeup, is that a crime? 

I'm asking us as women to evaluate why we wear makeup and why we go without it.  How does it make us feel?  How do we feel when we take it all off?  I really LOVE washing my face at night.  I love having a clean face.  It makes me feel relaxed and calm and now I've decided, actually prettier. 

This is my face.  It's a nice face.  It makes my husband happy.  He loves me with eyeliner and lipstick and he loves me without it.   I am not against makeup.  If you know me, you would know I'm a makeup and beauty junkie.  I even subscribe to a beauty sample site where I get a new box each month bursting with lovely new surprises to try.  I highly recommend it.  It's like Christmas every month.   A new little box comes and you get to try things for a few times.  I have learned about new brands of hair and skin products that I didn't even know existed.  I have tons of eady-to-go items for traveling and my purse.  It's a wonderful way to learn about beauty.  So I'm not against makeup.  I will still probably wear makeup most days of the week.  I just want us to fall in love again, or for the first time, with our beautiful, uniquely special faces.  I want us as women to be able to look in the mirror and say, hey, you!  You are so pretty just the way you are this morning, leave things alone!  Take a rest! 

I can tell you that going without makeup for two weeks has done something else for me.  My skin has never looked better.  I don't wear foundation anyway, but I've been wearing more moisturizer and creams and serums because I don't have makeup on so I can slather something wonderful on if the mood hits or I need a little pickup.  I think it has helped my skin be brighter, less dry, and clearer. 

As I recover from my hip surgery and I'm allowed to do more standing and sitting and maybe actually even leave my house, I'm sure I will get back to wearing makeup, but then again, maybe not.  I really am enjoying my "real" face.  I hope it doesn't sound vain, because I don't think I'm a vain woman, but I do like my face.  Is that wrong?  And, is it wrong to like how it looks all by its own little natural self?  I don't think so.  I think we all need a little time off from our daily beauty routines.  It has helped me to focus in on the question of why do I put makeup on at all?  And, who do I really wear makeup for?  I think I've found that I wear it for myself, but I also wear it to be "pretty" in what the world would call pretty.  I think we all need to look at our eyes and our lips and our skin and own them, really embrace them and love them and accept them.  I don't have long or thick eyelashes, but I have eyelashes.  Where I didn't get blessed in the eyelash department, I got an abundance of blessings in the lip department, so I won't complain.  I'd rather have it that way.  And, in the lipstick blog post we will have to talk about how I finally came to accept and love my full lips.  That was a journey in and of itself, after years of teasing and bullying when I was young.

This morning I had the privilege, and yes, I say privilege, of taking a nice hot bath.  It's the first time that it has been okay to do since my operation, and I loved every second of it.  While I was soaking in the warm water and enjoying how nice everything smelled and how good it felt to be in my tub again, I spied my bottle of face cleanser.  I was struck by the title of it.  Purity, it is called, by Philosophy.  It has the coolest saying on the front of the bottle:
 
  
"Purity is natural.  We come into the world with all the right instincts.  We are innocent, and therefore perceive things as they should be, rather than how they are.  Our conscience is clear, our hands are clean, and the world at large is truly beautiful.  It is at this time we feel most blessed.  To begin feeling young again, we must begin with the most  basic step of all; the daily ritual of cleansing." 

I love that!  No wonder I feel so happy and good and pretty at the end of the day when I lovingly wash my face at the sink and pat it dry, looking in the mirror at the face God gave me.  Why, I ask myself, did I try so hard today to cover up and make up this face?  It's pretty darn beautiful just the way it is.  My prayer is that you will all discover and embrace your real faces, the ones God made for you, and be more proud than ever to show the world that beautiful face. 





#Philosophy
#makeup
#nomakeup
#beyourself
#truebeautyishonest






Wednesday, February 11, 2015

If the Crown Fits . . . . . .

 
Nothing says Valentine's Day like your husband buying you a new crown.   I say new crown because he already bought me about 1400 of them over the years.  It's not even Valentine's Day yet, but I am getting a new crown and it's pretty expensive so please don't feel jealous.  It's the same color as the others, but it's a little smaller and more dainty.  It has been ordered and will be here in about 10 days.  I'm so excited.....

Well, that is how I talk myself into being happy about  getting a tooth crowned.  And, truth be told, I don't have 1400 crowns to wear upon my head, but I do have several (lost count) crowned teeth that are worth way more than $1400.  I have to try to be happy about it and see how funny it actually is or I will cry.  We could have gone to Europe a few times for the money we have spent on my teeth throughout the years.  I am  just grateful we have dental insurance or it would have been much worse. 


Don't be jealous about my crowns.  I know it's human nature to be jealous of something someone else has, and now that you know I have so many crowns, I don't want you to start wishing you had crowns, too.  Because I promise you really don't want to have crowns.  They're not any fun to get or pay for or floss around.   And you can't eat caramel corn and Jolly Ranchers any more. 

Today is Wednesday and this all began on Monday.  When I intend to get a new crown, I get serious!  I went for a regular dental cleaning.  I was enjoying the nitrous oxide (laughing gas) that I have to get even for a cleaning because my teeth are so sensitive, when even through the thick fog of being stoned, I could feel horrible pain.  Yikes!  When the cleaning was done I asked the girl what would have caused that pain, but she didn't know.  "The doctor will come in now and take a look now," is what she told me. 

The doctor looked at the x-rays, which didn't show anything.  He put on his binocular glasses and head lamp to take a closer look.  "You have an old crown here, that someone else did, that doesn't fit properly.  It looks like there is some decay here around the bottom of the crown that is causing the pain.  You have two choices.  We can do a patch and fill where we drill out what we can, going under the crown and just patch it like a regular filling, but I can't guarantee I can get all of the decay that might be under the crown.  That costs about $30.  Or, we can cut the crown off, get it all cleaned out, and give you a new crown, which will cost about $430 (insurance helps)." 

Well, I have had so many misadventures with my teeth that I have learned there is no point in taking any shortcuts.  It's best to do it right the first time.  Speaking of which, it would have been nice if the other dentist would have done it right the first time his own little self so I wouldn't be facing this now, but that was a long time ago.  I told the doctor, "I always tell my kids to do things right the first time or they will have to go back and do it right later on, so let's do it right.  Please make me a new crown."  See, that is the way to get a new crown.  Just declare that you want it and 10 days later, it comes delivered to your dentist to be fit just for you.  LOL. 

The appointment for the crown was fast tracked so I could have it fitted before an upcoming surgery.  So, that was today.  I spent almost 2 hours in the chair.  Again, I was really enjoying the bliss of semi-consciousness under the nitrous when I heard the doctor say, "well, you certainly made the right choice.  There is a lot of decay here that I didn't even expect over here in the back," and all the way about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, among, around, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, and now I'm tired of writing so many prepositions, but you get the idea.   "I couldn't possibly have gotten it all without taking the crown off."  He told me he cleaned it all up, put medicine on the nerve that was now exposed, and would seal it up temporarily while I waited for my permanent new and lovely, expensive crown. 

I'm glad this happened.  It isn't fun to open your wallet to a $430 expense you didn't plan on, but I'm glad I could get this fixed before it became a worse problem, which the dentist said it would have become.  It would eventually have led to total tooth loss, probably an implant, and a lot more money.  I'm glad I chose to get it fixed right the first time. 

It makes me think about the little things in my life that I don't even know are creeping in.  Working their way in where there is the slightest opening, that I might not even know is there.  For 15 or so years I though this crown was doing its job of protecting the tooth.  But because it didn't fit properly, not covering the entire tooth area, decay was able to begin and do its damage, slowly, but surely.  I think this could represent anything that we don't want in our lives.  Influences of bad media, bad friends, negative people, or anything else that has the power to slowly eat away at the root of our soul, our faith, our love. 

This helps me see that I have to be very careful about preventing negative influences from eating away at my spirit.  I have always been good at flossing and brushing and taking care of my teeth, but it doesn't do any good if the crown doesn't fit.  It wasn't my fault that this happened to my tooth, but it still happened and I have to deal with it now.  I can blame the old dentist, or I can move happily along and be grateful I'm not going to lose my entire tooth.  I like to look at hardships and negative forces the same way.  And, I'll admit, it has taken me a long time to have this outlook.  It isn't the product of youth, at least not for me.  It has come as I have gotten older.  There are things that happen to us that are beyond our control.  But most things can be cleaned up, repaired, replaced, or forgotten.  The reason this is so is because we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes up the difference, after all that we can do.  We have to do our part first, but then He steps in and makes up the difference.  We need to be obedient, like brushing and flossing and keeping our dental appointments, and then the atonement helps us.  I could not fix this problem myself.  I needed my dentist's help.  So, we made a decision together to move forward with a new crown, and the health of my mouth will be restored.  Just like I can get a newly crowned tooth, I can repent and forgive and receive a newly crowned soul. 

I love to think about daily things and the way they pertain to my faith.  I'm a visual learner and a figurative learner so I think God gives me these lessons so I can grow my faith by learning this way.  I'm going to work harder at making sure my crown fits.  When I say crown, I mean my faith, my belief in Jesus Christ, my covenants.  All those things that help protect me from the evil influences all around me.  I'm going to be making sure it's on really nice and tight.  If decay slips in, the Dentist will come to the rescue and help me fix the problem.  I just want you all to know that I really know this is true because it has happened to me in my life many times.  Not just going to the real dentist, but trusting the real Healer, my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I want to wear the crown promised me one day if I am obedient and worthy, to live with God again, with my family.  I know it is possible because that is what God has promised.   I'm going to be more serious about looking out for silent spiritual stalkers and invaders that want me to fail, and defeat them before they have a chance.   I don't want anything coming between me and my eternal reward.  No black decay allowed under my crown, silently eroding away at my faith!  Gross!  I will be committed to do everything I can to prevent it, but if it comes without me inviting it, I know there is still hope and it can be drilled away and repaired. 

Go check your crown! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

There Is No Place Like Home-----So Make It A Good One



My favorite movie is "The Wizard of Oz."  Always has been and always will be.  I love the colors and the music, the characters and the story.  I really love Dorothy's red shoes.  I love the idea that she wants so badly to get back home to Kansas.  I guess this is because she loved her home, so naturally she would want to go back to it and her family.  When I was a kid, I always thought she was kind of weird to want to leave Oz and her fun new friends to return to the dreary dust bowl days of Kansas, in black and white.  Why live in black and white when you can live your life in Technicolor?  With a soundtrack.  And Glinda the Good Witch to look out for you? 

As my children continue down their paths to total independence from my husband and me, I hope they never feel about us the way I feel about my parents.  Look, I understand that no parent is perfect, because I'm not.  This post is not to condemn anyone.  These are just my thoughts, about my life.  It is my blog, you know.  I am writing this with an open heart and a positive outlook.  I own who I am and I don't blame anyone for anything.  But life could have been better for me if I had had what I think I desperately needed from them and didn't get.  It also would have been less painful if I had not had done to me the things that did happen. 

Here are the very most important things I learned in the home I grew up in, in no particular order of importance. 

1.  I know  how to sew.  I was 10 when my mom  started a 4-H club for me and my friends.  We learned how to sew and bake and babysit.  The best for me was learning how to sew.  I won blue ribbons at the 4-H competitions.  I still use, on a regular basis, the things I learned in that little club.  I can hem my husband's pants, or sew on a button that will never come off again.  I can cut out a pattern and follow it.  I know how to make adjustments for my height.  I have made all of the window coverings and decorative pillows in our home.  I made a lot of dresses for my daughter when she was young and plenty more for myself as the years have gone on.  I enjoy sewing.  It's cathartic for me.  I hate to unpick a seam, but I know that if I'm careful and precise, I won't have to unpick the seam.  Winning those blue ribbons for my hand stitching and machine sewing instilled confidence in me that I can sew and so I'm not afraid of it.  Over the years I have taught myself how to do more difficult things.  I even joined with other mothers in the neighborhood when our daughters were 10 and formed a 4-H club for them where we taught them to sew.  My daughter has her own machine now.  So, it continues on to her. 

2.  I know now that I like onions, fish, peppers, spicy food, ethnic food and runny eggs.  I have learned this on my own because we didn't eat these things at home.  My mom geared our meals to her tastes and because she didn't like fish, we never, ever ate it.  Not once.  Unless we were camping and someone else prepared it outside.  It was never prepared in our home.  I could have been  a picky eater, but I'm not.  I love food.  There are only two things I won't eat:  mayo and butter/margarine.  I also can't do wet or soggy bread of any sort.  I also don't really enjoy milk.  It's funny because these are things my mom really seemed to like.  Do I hate mayo because my mom put so much of it on a tuna sandwich that it seeped out of the bread?  Probably.  I also learned that I didn't want my children to be limited by my tastes.  I wanted them to like or dislike things for themselves.  I put mayo on their sandwiches, and cringed if I even got it on my hands, but I didn't make mayo unavailable to them.  This has blessed my family because my children are the most non-picky eaters on the planet.  They constantly surprise even their friends by exclaiming how much they love Indian food. 

3.a.  I learned, on my own, as an adult, that wearing tasteful eyeliner and eye shadow does not make me look like a hooker.  And wearing lipstick does not actually bleach your lips.  My mom always told me that if I started wearing lipstick I would always have to because it bleaches the natural color from your lips.  Nope!  Not true.  I keep wearing lipstick because I can, because the pop of color makes me happy and my days more fun, and because, if I'm going to wear lip balm anyway, why not make it more colorful? 

3.b.  And, for that matter, jeans are a girl's best friend, and the softer and more faded the better.  The cherry on top is when they are flare-legged.  Jeans are all I wear unless it's church and then I wear a dress.  I wear dressy pants when it's appropriate, but my life calls for jeans.  I have more pairs than I need, but I know why.  Because it was frowned upon to wear them at my house.  My Levi 501's were taken away from me once because "they weren't very ladylike."  I had an extra pair that nobody knew about that I kept in my backpack and changed into and out of at school.  Now that I can wear jeans everyday and own as many pairs as I wish, is there any reason I would wear anything else? 

4.  I learned how to iron.  I can iron the prettiest shirts you have ever seen.  I can make those collars nice and crisp and make anything look like it is brand new.  Thanks, mom.  I do appreciate so much having to iron dad's shirts because it taught me how to do it right.  I hate ironing, but I can make the iron sing. 

5.  I learned how to play the piano.  I know it was a huge sacrifice to pay for lessons and drive me to lessons.  I know I should have practiced more and been more appreciative of it then, but I appreciate it now.  I still don't play as much as I would like to, but I can play.  I enjoy few things as much as being alone in my house, playing the piano.  I wish I could play by ear like my husband and write music like he does.  I have to have music and I have to practice a lot.  But the fact that I can do that, that I can go buy a piece of music and then sit down and learn it, is huge to me. 

6.  I know how to bottle fruit and vegetables.  I sure hated September when I was growing up and it was time to can peaches and pears and freeze corn and beans.  But I know how to do it and I have done it.  I will admit that I only make salsa and grape juice, because that is what my family inhales.  I can buy peaches and pears during the case lot sale cheaper than I can bottle them.  Do they taste as good?  No way!  But it's the way I have chosen to do things in my house.  But, who knows.  Maybe this year I will bottle peaches and pears.  The point is that I hated it when I was young, but I appreciate it now. 

7.  I learned how to identify plants and flowers on hikes with my dad.  It's a simple thing, really, but I still get very excited whenever I see Indian Paintbrush and Penstemon.  Last year, we drove up to Snow Basin for a wedding reception in May.  The mountainside was completely drenched with blue Penstemon.  It made me so happy.  I have fond memories of my dad suddenly pulling the car over and jumping out, running down the road and hiking up the hill.  He would pull out his pocket knife and dig the plants out by the root and put them in old Wonder Bread bags.  Then the bags would go into his metal plant box that was strapped onto his back with a canvas strap.  He was always spotting some plant or flower that he needed in his herbarium at the university where he still teaches Botany to this day.  I loved that my dad was a botanist.  Nobody else had a dad that was a botanist. 

8.  I learned how to take care of babies.  I am the oldest of six kids that were pretty spread out.  I was 16 when the youngest was born.  I am very comfortable with diapering, feeding, changing, tending, and playing with little ones.  I love it.  Somehow it was a miracle that when we brought our son home from the hospital after the miracle of becoming first-time parents, I knew what to do.  Granted, I had never breastfed before, and I'm not going to say I wasn't terrified, but it all worked out and I seemed to naturally know what to do.  Even though it was just me and my baby and my husband.  My mother did not come to help me.  No one did.  But I figured it out by myself, with my husband's help, and I'm grateful. 

9.  I  learned how to be myself.  I know my mother hated my individuality.  I know she wished I wanted to be like the other kids in the way I dressed and that I had similar interests as other girls.  But I had no desire to be a cheerleader or on the drill team.  I wanted to debate and do public speaking and draw and paint and do science experiments.  I wanted to read deep books and discuss them.  I wanted to be the rebel in the sense that I wore things no one else was wearing.  Not that my clothes were bizarre or anything.  I just didn't want the same exact stuff that everyone else had.  And I didn't.  I'm glad that I didn't let my mom talk me into being someone I wasn't and that even though it caused tension between us, I stayed true to myself.  You don't have to graduate from an art program to be an artist, but I learned that I should have stayed in art school because it made me happy.  My mom really did not know what was best for me.  I promised myself that whatever my kids wanted to be when they grew up, I would support and nurture. 

10.  I learned how to trust myself.  Something very deep inside me told me that the things I heard all the time at home were not true for me.  I knew that I was worthy of respect and love and happiness, but that I would have to wait to make it for myself and live somewhere else before that could happen.  It was hard to wait for that, to let it come to me, to have to make it for myself, but I felt deeply connected to God and knew he was really my ultimate father, my Heavenly Father, and I chose to trust Him instead.  And I'm grateful. 

11.  I learned that just because there are 8 people in a family, it doesn't mean you're all the same.   My siblings and parents share a lot of common tastes and traits.  But we are not the same.  Not by a long shot.  And I don't want to be the same and I'm sure they don't either.  I know that my children are different, even though they have a lot in common, they are different people with different personalities.  That is to be celebrated and not condemned. 

12.  I learned that a marriage and family cannot last forever if you treat them with disrespect and don't keep your promises.  My parents separated when I was around 16 or 17.  It was awful.  Then they got back together and it was worse.  They finally divorced when I was 21, after I was married.  It was a very difficult time for me.  They had been married 20+ years and now were throwing it away.   But guess what?  It was not a surprise.  We all knew for years that it was coming.  Because of the way they treated each other, and the way they treated us.  From this I learned that if you want something to last forever, you had better treat it differently.  

13.  I learned that I was not important to my family or parents.  Maybe technically I was, but they didn't really care about me, I don't think they ever did, and I'm pretty sure they still don't.  It's alright though, because I vowed to myself that that would never happen in my family with my husband and children.  And it hasn't.  From my parents I learned all the ways not to be a parent.  I learned all the things not to do or say to a child.  So I thank them, from the bottom of my heart.  My desire to be a rebel against my family has blessed my own family in countless ways.  I have never, ever, ever, uttered the heinous words, "I hate you," to my children or husband.  I have never beat them.  I have never lied to them.  So, mom and dad, thank you for your arms-length relationship with me because it gave me the best relationships with my own family and husband.  It has made us even closer.

14.  I learned that it's okay to go to church alone because you don't go to church for the people, or your family.  You go to church for Jesus Christ.  There sure were a lot of weeks that I went to church alone or with a few siblings.  I didn't like going alone, but I knew I wanted to be there and if I had to go independently, then that is what I did.  I knew in the very depths of my soul, even at a young age, that I was going to worship and I could do that alone.  I could do it alone because my salvation is an independent thing.  It doesn't matter what other people are doing, it only matters what I am doing.  My personal relationship with God and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  This has blessed me in so many ways throughout the years.  When there have been rough patches in my life where I didn't feel like I fit into a congregation, I always continued to go to church.  There are no perfect people, anywhere.  Not in any church, not any place.  If you are looking for perfect people, you won't find them.  There is only one person who is perfect and that is Christ.  We all get offended from time to time, or feel alone some days, or even have hardships that are private to us.  None of these are reasons to stay away from worshipping God. 

I think I understand why Dorothy was anxious to return home to Kansas, to the land of black and white.  There are things we have to learn that we can only learn at home, where things are, or at least should be, black and white.  Then we take those things and venture out on our own, into the land of Technicolor, and make our own choices.  We can be limited by the things we learned at home, or we can be set free by them.  I believe it is our choice.  We can squeeze out the best there is from our experience and add our own sugar and water to make a wonderful punch.  Or we can look at the few little drops and feel sorry for ourselves.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of juice that comes from your childhood, then bottle it up and take care of it so you can pass it down to your family. 

I am not like Dorothy.  I love my red shoes, but I don't want to go back to Kansas.  For me, Kansas was hard and I'm glad it's behind me.  I much prefer my Technicolor world with my husband and my kids, with my own choices and my own decisions.  I appreciate all that I learned in Kansas, I really do.  It is what made me who I am and that's a good thing.  But the love that has come to me and the happiness that is mine now is much more bright and beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined, so why would I want to go back?  I don't.  One foot in front of the other, every day, and everything will be alright.  That is what I say to myself.  And it works. 





There Is No Place Like Home-----So Make It A Good One



My favorite movie is "The Wizard of Oz."  Always has been and always will be.  I love the colors and the music, the characters and the story.  I really love Dorothy's red shoes.  I love the idea that she wants so badly to get back home to Kansas.  I guess this is because she loved her home, so naturally she would want to go back to it and her family.  When I was a kid, I always thought she was kind of weird to want to leave Oz and her fun new friends to return to the dreary dust bowl days of Kansas, in black and white.  Why live in black and white when you can live your life in Technicolor?  With a soundtrack.  And Glinda the Good Witch to look out for you? 

As my children continue down their paths to total independence from my husband and me, I hope they never feel about us the way I feel about my parents.  Look, I understand that no parent is perfect, because I'm not.  This post is not to condemn anyone.  These are just my thoughts, about my life.  It is my blog, you know.  I am writing this with an open heart and a positive outlook.  I own who I am and I don't blame anyone for anything.  But life could have been better for me if I had had what I think I desperately needed from them and didn't get.  It also would have been less painful if I had not had done to me the things that did happen. 

Here are the very most important things I learned in the home I grew up in, in no particular order of importance. 

1.  I know  how to sew.  I was 10 when my mom  started a 4-H club for me and my friends.  We learned how to sew and bake and babysit.  The best for me was learning how to sew.  I won blue ribbons at the 4-H competitions.  I still use, on a regular basis, the things I learned in that little club.  I can hem my husband's pants, or sew on a button that will never come off again.  I can cut out a pattern and follow it.  I know how to make adjustments for my height.  I have made all of the window coverings and decorative pillows in our home.  I made a lot of dresses for my daughter when she was young and plenty more for myself as the years have gone on.  I enjoy sewing.  It's cathartic for me.  I hate to unpick a seam, but I know that if I'm careful and precise, I won't have to unpick the seam.  Winning those blue ribbons for my hand stitching and machine sewing instilled confidence in me that I can sew and so I'm not afraid of it.  Over the years I have taught myself how to do more difficult things.  I even joined with other mothers in the neighborhood when our daughters were 10 and formed a 4-H club for them where we taught them to sew.  My daughter has her own machine now.  So, it continues on to her. 

2.  I know now that I like onions, fish, peppers, spicy food, ethnic food and runny eggs.  I have learned this on my own because we didn't eat these things at home.  My mom geared our meals to her tastes and because she didn't like fish, we never, ever ate it.  Not once.  Unless we were camping and someone else prepared it outside.  It was never prepared in our home.  I could have been  a picky eater, but I'm not.  I love food.  There are only two things I won't eat:  mayo and butter/margarine.  I also can't do wet or soggy bread of any sort.  I also don't really enjoy milk.  It's funny because these are things my mom really seemed to like.  Do I hate mayo because my mom put so much of it on a tuna sandwich that it seeped out of the bread?  Probably.  I also learned that I didn't want my children to be limited by my tastes.  I wanted them to like or dislike things for themselves.  I put mayo on their sandwiches, and cringed if I even got it on my hands, but I didn't make mayo unavailable to them.  This has blessed my family because my children are the most non-picky eaters on the planet.  They constantly surprise even their friends by exclaiming how much they love Indian food. 

3.a.  I learned, on my own, as an adult, that wearing tasteful eyeliner and eye shadow does not make me look like a hooker.  And wearing lipstick does not actually bleach your lips.  My mom always told me that if I started wearing lipstick I would always have to because it bleaches the natural color from your lips.  Nope!  Not true.  I keep wearing lipstick because I can, because the pop of color makes me happy and my days more fun, and because, if I'm going to wear lip balm anyway, why not make it more colorful? 

3.b.  And, for that matter, jeans are a girl's best friend, and the softer and more faded the better.  The cherry on top is when they are flare-legged.  Jeans are all I wear unless it's church and then I wear a dress.  I wear dressy pants when it's appropriate, but my life calls for jeans.  I have more pairs than I need, but I know why.  Because it was frowned upon to wear them at my house.  My Levi 501's were taken away from me once because "they weren't very ladylike."  I had an extra pair that nobody knew about that I kept in my backpack and changed into and out of at school.  Now that I can wear jeans everyday and own as many pairs as I wish, is there any reason I would wear anything else? 

4.  I learned how to iron.  I can iron the prettiest shirts you have ever seen.  I can make those collars nice and crisp and make anything look like it is brand new.  Thanks, mom.  I do appreciate so much having to iron dad's shirts because it taught me how to do it right.  I hate ironing, but I can make the iron sing. 

5.  I learned how to play the piano.  I know it was a huge sacrifice to pay for lessons and drive me to lessons.  I know I should have practiced more and been more appreciative of it then, but I appreciate it now.  I still don't play as much as I would like to, but I can play.  I enjoy few things as much as being alone in my house, playing the piano.  I wish I could play by ear like my husband and write music like he does.  I have to have music and I have to practice a lot.  But the fact that I can do that, that I can go buy a piece of music and then sit down and learn it, is huge to me. 

6.  I know how to bottle fruit and vegetables.  I sure hated September when I was growing up and it was time to can peaches and pears and freeze corn and beans.  But I know how to do it and I have done it.  I will admit that I only make salsa and grape juice, because that is what my family inhales.  I can buy peaches and pears during the case lot sale cheaper than I can bottle them.  Do they taste as good?  No way!  But it's the way I have chosen to do things in my house.  But, who knows.  Maybe this year I will bottle peaches and pears.  The point is that I hated it when I was young, but I appreciate it now. 

7.  I learned how to identify plants and flowers on hikes with my dad.  It's a simple thing, really, but I still get very excited whenever I see Indian Paintbrush and Penstemon.  Last year, we drove up to Snow Basin for a wedding reception in May.  The mountainside was completely drenched with blue Penstemon.  It made me so happy.  I have fond memories of my dad suddenly pulling the car over and jumping out, running down the road and hiking up the hill.  He would pull out his pocket knife and dig the plants out by the root and put them in old Wonder Bread bags.  Then the bags would go into his metal plant box that was strapped onto his back with a canvas strap.  He was always spotting some plant or flower that he needed in his herbarium at the university where he still teaches Botany to this day.  I loved that my dad was a botanist.  Nobody else had a dad that was a botanist. 

8.  I learned how to take care of babies.  I am the oldest of six kids that were pretty spread out.  I was 16 when the youngest was born.  I am very comfortable with diapering, feeding, changing, tending, and playing with little ones.  I love it.  Somehow it was a miracle that when we brought our son home from the hospital after the miracle of becoming first-time parents, I knew what to do.  Granted, I had never breastfed before, and I'm not going to say I wasn't terrified, but it all worked out and I seemed to naturally know what to do.  Even though it was just me and my baby and my husband.  My mother did not come to help me.  No one did.  But I figured it out by myself, with my husband's help, and I'm grateful. 

9.  I  learned how to be myself.  I know my mother hated my individuality.  I know she wished I wanted to be like the other kids in the way I dressed and that I had similar interests as other girls.  But I had no desire to be a cheerleader or on the drill team.  I wanted to debate and do public speaking and draw and paint and do science experiments.  I wanted to read deep books and discuss them.  I wanted to be the rebel in the sense that I wore things no one else was wearing.  Not that my clothes were bizarre or anything.  I just didn't want the same exact stuff that everyone else had.  And I didn't.  I'm glad that I didn't let my mom talk me into being someone I wasn't and that even though it caused tension between us, I stayed true to myself.  You don't have to graduate from an art program to be an artist, but I learned that I should have stayed in art school because it made me happy.  My mom really did not know what was best for me.  I promised myself that whatever my kids wanted to be when they grew up, I would support and nurture. 

10.  I learned how to trust myself.  Something very deep inside me told me that the things I heard all the time at home were not true for me.  I knew that I was worthy of respect and love and happiness, but that I would have to wait to make it for myself and live somewhere else before that could happen.  It was hard to wait for that, to let it come to me, to have to make it for myself, but I felt deeply connected to God and knew he was really my ultimate father, my Heavenly Father, and I chose to trust Him instead.  And I'm grateful. 

11.  I learned that just because there are 8 people in a family, it doesn't mean you're all the same.   My siblings and parents share a lot of common tastes and traits.  But we are not the same.  Not by a long shot.  And I don't want to be the same and I'm sure they don't either.  I know that my children are different, even though they have a lot in common, they are different people with different personalities.  That is to be celebrated and not condemned. 

12.  I learned that a marriage and family cannot last forever if you treat them with disrespect and don't keep your promises.  My parents separated when I was around 16 or 17.  It was awful.  Then they got back together and it was worse.  They finally divorced when I was 21, after I was married.  It was a very difficult time for me.  They had been married 20+ years and now were throwing it away.   But guess what?  It was not a surprise.  We all knew for years that it was coming.  Because of the way they treated each other, and the way they treated us.  From this I learned that if you want something to last forever, you had better treat it differently.  

13.  I learned that I was not important to my family or parents.  Maybe technically I was, but they didn't really care about me, I don't think they ever did, and I'm pretty sure they still don't.  It's alright though, because I vowed to myself that that would never happen in my family with my husband and children.  And it hasn't.  From my parents I learned all the ways not to be a parent.  I learned all the things not to do or say to a child.  So I thank them, from the bottom of my heart.  My desire to be a rebel against my family has blessed my own family in countless ways.  I have never, ever, ever, uttered the heinous words, "I hate you," to my children or husband.  I have never beat them.  I have never lied to them.  So, mom and dad, thank you for your arms-length relationship with me because it gave me the best relationships with my own family and husband.  It has made us even closer.

14.  I learned that it's okay to go to church alone because you don't go to church for the people, or your family.  You go to church for Jesus Christ.  There sure were a lot of weeks that I went to church alone or with a few siblings.  I didn't like going alone, but I knew I wanted to be there and if I had to go independently, then that is what I did.  I knew in the very depths of my soul, even at a young age, that I was going to worship and I could do that alone.  I could do it alone because my salvation is an independent thing.  It doesn't matter what other people are doing, it only matters what I am doing.  My personal relationship with God and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  This has blessed me in so many ways throughout the years.  When there have been rough patches in my life where I didn't feel like I fit into a congregation, I always continued to go to church.  There are no perfect people, anywhere.  Not in any church, not any place.  If you are looking for perfect people, you won't find them.  There is only one person who is perfect and that is Christ.  We all get offended from time to time, or feel alone some days, or even have hardships that are private to us.  None of these are reasons to stay away from worshipping God. 

I think I understand why Dorothy was anxious to return home to Kansas, to the land of black and white.  There are things we have to learn that we can only learn at home, where things are, or at least should be, black and white.  Then we take those things and venture out on our own, into the land of Technicolor, and make our own choices.  We can be limited by the things we learned at home, or we can be set free by them.  I believe it is our choice.  We can squeeze out the best there is from our experience and add our own sugar and water to make a wonderful punch.  Or we can look at the few little drops and feel sorry for ourselves.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of juice that comes from your childhood, then bottle it up and take care of it so you can pass it down to your family. 

I am not like Dorothy.  I love my red shoes, but I don't want to go back to Kansas.  For me, Kansas was hard and I'm glad it's behind me.  I much prefer my Technicolor world with my husband and my kids, with my own choices and my own decisions.  I appreciate all that I learned in Kansas, I really do.  It is what made me who I am and that's a good thing.  But the love that has come to me and the happiness that is mine now is much more bright and beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined, so why would I want to go back?  I don't.  One foot in front of the other, every day, and everything will be alright.  That is what I say to myself.  And it works. 





Monday, February 2, 2015

Fifty Grades of Clay



I don't know about you, but I liked getting good grades in school.  I like grade-A beef.  When we got a new roof after the wind storm of 2011, we got the highest grade shingles.  I like high-grade tires and leather shoes of a high grade.  Our kids like getting A's and freak out at the thought of a B.  Truth is, everything is better when it is of a higher quality, or higher grade.  Think of cotton sheets, lipstick, and even paper towels. 

I guess there is a way to tell the higher quality cashmere from the lesser quality cashmere.  For lay people like me, it's because the higher the grade, the softer it is, and the less likely it is to pill.   I can tell if clothing is well made, just by turning the garment inside out and inspecting the seams, looking at how the buttons are sewn on, and how the hem has been done.  Was the fabric cut on the bias when it shouldn't have been?  The workmanship of a garment is important to the function of the garment and the value of the garment.  If it is made poorly, it will fit badly, maybe hang the wrong way, and won't last.  I don't like wasting money on cheap clothes because they tend to fall apart and make me feel like I just flushed money down the toilet. 

This weekend I took my daughter dress shopping.  We had heard about a boutique selling modest, lady-like dresses for a good price and so we were excited.  Then we found out the dresses on sale were seconds, or had some sort of flaw.  Dresses normally around $150 were $28.  I was suddenly suspicious.  We had just driven 30 minutes for this sale and now I had to inspect every seam and buttonhole?  We each found a few dresses and tried them on.  There were several women there, waiting for a turn in the two dressing rooms they had, speaking loudly outside the curtain, being quite rude, I thought, and seeming to rush me as I labored to try on these dresses.  I kind of felt pressured to get at least one, since I had driven all that way.  I quickly narrowed it to two.  The others had flaws that were obvious to the eye and so I left them on the hangers.  I was excited to find two dresses that looked like they were constructed without any major flaws.  Would it justify $28?  My daughter also found two dresses that looked gorgeous on her and we decided to get them and go home so my girlie could go skiing. 

The next day, yesterday, I wore my  new black dress to church.  It was horrible.  As soon as I sat down I could see the problem.  The dress was not cut out properly and so it hung strangely.  It also had a decorative placket on the bodice that was sewn onto the dress in a weird way and on my body, it quickly became all bunched up and looked ridiculous.  This had not been apparent until I was sitting down.  When I try things on before buying, I always sit down and make sure things look good from that angle, that things aren't too short, and don't become odd or scary in a chair.  The dressing room did not have any chairs so I could not do this.  Needless to say, I obsessed with the stupid dress for three hours at church, silently debating to myself whether or not I should go home and change.  I also obsessed about how I could possibly fix it myself, or should I just throw it in the trash when I got home?  Not a good way to spend church.  I was angry with myself for breaking my rule of buying cheap clothing.  It never satisfies.  I would rather have fewer things of a higher quality, than a closetful of trendy pieces of, well, I am going to say it---crap.

This morning, like I always do after our kids and my husband have left for school and work, I turned on the Today Show as background noise while doing the breakfast dishes, starting the laundry, and going over my calendar.  To my horror, all the excitement during that half hour was centered on a new movie, based on a book, that is set to open Valentine's Day weekend, which is in less than 2 weeks.  The immoral story, "Fifty Shades of Grey."  I will say right now that I have not read these books and will not see the movie.  I have higher standards than that.  The books have been called "mommy porn."  I'm a mommy, but I don't watch or read porn.  Apparently, we live in a sick, messed-up world if this book sold as many copies as Natalie Morales said.  We're also ready to be struck down as a nation if it's true that sales of rope and cable ties skyrocketed after this book came out.  Really, people?!  And, if we listen to the Today Show hosts, they are leading the way in being completely and honestly un-embarrassed to admit that, not only have they read the books, but are eagerly awaiting the opening of the movie.  ????  I'm really glad I don't look to those morning hosts as my heroes or inspiration to the way I lead my life, seeing as they always seem to disappoint. 

I will just say it.  I am sick and tired of marriage, true love, fidelity, chastity, virtue, and family being made to look provincial and outdated.  I am so darn tired of Hollywood telling people what is cool and fashionable.  I'm bone tired of the attacks on the family and marriage and how it is only so very rarely that a movie actually portrays a man and woman as being happily married, with children.  Just because the rest of the world has it all screwed up, doesn't mean we have to listen!  Just because other people are reading "mommy porn" and buying ropes doesn't mean we have to!  I don't know about you, but ropes and cable ties don't exactly sound like love to me.  It sounds terrifyingly scary!  It pretty much screams, r-a-p-e!    Kind of like a murder scene without the murder?  Kind of like, hell on earth?  I will even say that if my husband came home with rope and cable ties, I would run out the front door and call 911!

Love, true love, is chaste.  It is virtuous.  It is NOT filthy, degrading, scary, dark, or twisted.  It is beautiful, lovely, joyful, warm, safe, and heavenly.  I am so grateful that God has given us the ability to express ourselves physically to our spouses.  I think we need to remember that the whole purpose of sex is to make a family and keep a family.  When we get married, it is a serious, forever commitment:  to begin a family, centered on Christ.  This requires us to put off desires and physical appetites and try to become more like God.  We are taught that "the natural man is an enemy to God" (Mosiah 3:19).  We can't become like God, or have hope to live with Him again, if we act like a bunch of animals.  Marriage is ordained of God.  The family is ordained of God.  The power used to create such a family and a marriage is ordained of God.  It is God-given power to create.  It is not to be wielded carelessly, with rope and cable ties, with anyone you think looks "hot."  It is to be used to bind  husband and wife together, to make us closer, to help us express beautiful love and trust, respect and caring, for each other, and no one else.  Marriage is to last forever, between two people.  And, sometimes because of age or illness, injury, or accident, two people who really love each other can no longer express their love in this physical way, but it doesn't mean they don't love each other.  Maybe in those circumstances, a couple's love becomes even more holy because it is all about the spiritual and emotional connections.  This worldly, stupid ideal that monogamy isn't humanly possible, or two people can't possibly be together for a lifetime, or we all grow and change and need to experience different people, is nothing but a giant pile of CRAP! 

The family is falling apart.  Marriage is out of style.  I wonder why.  Because people are listening to this garbage instead of listening to God.  I don't care what your faith is---if you are a person of faith, you know I'm right.  God doesn't want it this way!  In fact, I know it makes Him sad to see his children act this way.  He wants desperately for us to be happy and He knows that the best way we can be happy is to belong to a FAMILY, with a mother and a father who are married, who are committed to each other, and each other only, for FOREVER, and thereby are committed to their children, made with the beautiful God-given power of procreation, for FOREVER.  There is safety in this!  Children are happier and feel safer and are more successful when they come from this kind of a home.  Couples are able to overcome hardship and trials together when they are bound to each other in this way.  If people of faith would stand up, together, and say, I am not going to participate in this garbage being thrown at me by ignorant, rebellious, self-important famous people!  I am going to listen to God and his servants.  I am going to take my cues from the scriptures, from the teachings of the prophets, and not from "the world."  There is power in numbers, people.  We need to stand up for what is right and true and chaste and benevolent.   

Please do not be tempted to see this horrible movie.  And if you have read these filthy books and subscribed to their ideas of "love," throw them in the trash where they belong and pick up the word of God instead.  Or, if you don't want to read the scriptures, read something else, that is clean.  There are plenty of clean, wholesome works of literature to read.  If you would like a list of my favorites, I will be happy to give recommendations.  The point is this.  There are plenty of things in this world that are "lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report," so let us "seek after these things."  We don't have to follow the world's standard to be happy, or cool, or popular.  I think the best thing we could do as people of faith is to openly, unapologetically stand up to all that is disrespectful of marriage and family. 

In Isaiah 64:8 it says:  "But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." 

What this says to me is this:  God loves us all.  He made us, in fact.  We are created in His image.  We are his masterpieces.  His creations.  He is proud of us and loves us all.  We are all different and beautiful in unique ways.  But, we are made in the image of God.  That means we are God-like, that we are god-ly, that we have potential to be like God.  But, we also have been given our agency, to choose, to decide.  This is a wonderful blessing, but we have a responsibility--yes, a responsibility, to use it wisely.  I really don't believe God gave us agency without hope that we would use it to try to become like Him.  We have our agency to make choices, but we must live with the consequences of those choices. 

My question to us is this:  What grade of clay will I choose to be?  Will I be moldable and teachable?  Will I refuse to yield to what God asks me to be, what He needs me to be, and crack and shatter all over the floor?  Will I be humble enough to do what He has asked me to do so that I can become the lovely, glorious vase with a gentle shape and a beautiful color?  The world wants to tell us what we should be, but that is not in harmony with what God has already promised us WE ALREADY ARE.  We can have all the blessings He waits so eagerly to give us, if, we choose to be humble enough to let Him shape us and mold us.  We do this by being obedient to His laws instead of listening to the counsel of men. 

The reason I am so concerned about the impact this book and movie are having on our culture is this:  If every person of faith was doing what they knew to be right, this book would not have sold so many copies and it would not be anticipating making so much money at the box office.  Maybe you can keep your bishop or pastor from knowing you read the books, or maybe you're excited about the movie and will tell everyone on social media.  The truth is that God knows if you read those books in secret or on the subway.  And he cried if you did.  Because he wants something better for you than the crap in those stories.  He wants you to feel loved and respected, safe and clean, whole and cherished, beautiful and angelic.  And you can NEVER feel like that while tied up with rope and cable ties, even if it's only in your imagination.  Not ever.  Let us choose to be a higher grade of clay.  It is by our choices that we make ourselves a lower grade of clay. 

I unpicked the black dress and will attempt today to fix it.  I'm not sure if I can or not.  I will see.  But, it wasn't worth the $28.  I already own beautiful, well-made, high-grade dresses and I didn't need another one.  It isn't worth the headache it has caused to save a little money on a dress.  Next time I am tempted to buy something of lower grade, I will remember one can never cut corners and expect excellent results.  Because I know who I am.  I am a daughter of a King, who is God, and because of this royal heritage, I cannot afford to participate in anything that will cheapen me or His legacy.  I have made promises to Him, to my husband and children, and I want to keep them.  I need to be a higher grade of clay, the glorious, ultimate form of clay possible, because that is how He made me.  If I take His hand and follow his plan, I can be Fifty times the highest Grade of Clay.  That is my goal.  What is yours?

As a reminder, I love the quote from Billy Graham:  "My home is in heaven.  I'm just traveling through this world."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thank You For Being My Friend



How do you help someone who is going through probably the roughest time of her life?  What can you say to lift their spirits?  To make them smile?  To tell them, in all honesty that, while you don't really understand how they feel, you want to try.   And then, what can you do to try to really empathize with them?  So your words aren't an empty, "call me if you need anything."  Is it possible to even try to help take away someone's suffering? 

My friend, Joan, has cancer.  I hate cancer.  It's cruel and selfish.  It takes what it wants and doesn't care who it hurts.  But, with my friend, Joan, it picked the wrong person.  She isn't cruel and she isn't selfish.  I was trying to think about how long I have known her.  It's' just been a long time, since our kids were really young.  This girl is the smartest and funniest woman I know, with a wit that is fast and sharp.  She sees puns everywhere.  Even in her pain, she sent me a picture of something she found on an invitation, showing me the pun.  Always searching for the happy side of things, the humor in life.  And, she finds it. 

Joan has taught me so much.  She has been an amazing example to me of being a good mother and wife, of putting in the extra time to make a homemade meal instead of cheating and getting it pre-packaged.  Of not being afraid to work hard and pay your dues.  She is a nurse, both a physical and a spiritual nurse.  There was a time when she helped me nurse my wounds after I was hurt through gossip and the choices of others.  Her counsel was witty and honest.  For a long time we shared scriptures, quotes from famous scholars, and my favorite, Shakespeare passages.  One summer, Joan taught my kids how to play tennis.  It was a blessing for my children to get to know her on that level.  She was patient and encouraging, positive and fun.  It was a great experience for them.

I believe people come into our lives for a reason.  I knew Joan in high school and even had her brother for my English teacher.  But it wasn't until she moved into our neighborhood and we became friends that I really got to know her.  She has taught me a lot.  She has been an example to me of how to be patient when things are tough.  How to see the humor in every situation, because at the heart of it all, there is humor.  How to make really good Jell-O when you're pressed for time.  How to be yourself even though other people might not agree.  How to support your husband in his church assignments, even though it might be a sacrifice at home.  How to really love the Lord and be humble before him.  We have helped each other through some tough days and tried to see the silver lining.  Something we used to talk about a lot was "it will all come out in the wash."  It's funny how that is actually true.  She is an example of how to be an amazing daughter; the way she has taken care of her elderly mother is truly an example of charity and love. 

Right before Thanksgiving, we went on a small adventure to the local drive-in in a neighboring town where we both are from.  It's called Kirt's and they still have car hops there.  As we sat there on that warm November day and enjoyed milkshakes and onion rings, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this woman, my friend.  Even though I know she was in pain, she was all smiles.  We even went on a little shopping jaunt to Smith & Edwards for some penny candy and kitchen gadgets.  I watched her tear around the store on her crutches like she owned the place and I knew this thing called cancer was not going to get the best of her. 

Like is always the case with Joan, she asked about my kids, about me and my husband.  She genuinely wanted to know.  She told me of her triumphs, even small ones, and beamed when telling me about her children, husband, and missionary son.  She glowed brightly as she shared stories of her faith with me.  It was a time to be cherished.  She taught me so much that afternoon, just like she always has, but this time it was special because I knew she was going through a lot.  To still be able to take the time to inquire about others is one of her gifts.  I felt her love for me through her smile, through her excitement at seeing the fancy gadgets to cut a pineapple into the perfect ring, and as we rifled through the penny candy and loaded up our shopping cart.  It is a day I will always treasure. 

This is what I mean when I say, how can you help someone who is suffering, when, in spending time with them, they help you in your own suffering?  In trying to cheer up my friend, I was the one who probably benefited the most.  This is what it's like to be a light to the world.  To be able to be kind, generous, patient, uncomplaining, happy, and even funny, even when faced with adversity.  To all who know her, I know you will agree.  Joan is a strong lady.  She is noble and honest, faithful, true, and loyal.  If you tell her something in confidence, she won't share it with anyone else.  She is fearless and grateful.  Happy and hilarious.  Possessing charity and compassion, wisdom and grace.  She is my friend.  I am blessed because she is my friend. 

I know God is a God of miracles, that his promises are sure.  That when we are humble and ask with sincerity and real intent, he answers our prayers.  When we bend our will to his, we are blessed.  I know that God knows best.  After all, he is our Heavenly Father.  I know that Jesus Christ is God's literal son, that he is our Savior and that through him we can live eternally, forever with our families.  I know that faith in God and Christ can make miracles occur.   I know that if a miracle is what is best for us, then we will get the miracle after much fasting and prayer.  My prayer is that my friend will have miracles.  A miracle of healing, a miracle of no more pain, and a miracle of a speedy and full recovery.

If there is anyone on this planet strong enough to go through what she is facing, it is Joan.  She is one tough lady and cancer should never have even thought about messing with her.  She is an inspiration to all who know her.  She can beat this and then what will cancer have to say for itself?  It will say, "never mess with Joan---she kicked my butt!"  

To all who have or have had cancer or loved someone with cancer, I know you understand.  Prayers for all of you and prayers for a cure.  I'm sure one day soon there will be one.  Until then, let's get this thing done!  Cancer, get out of the way!  Didn't you hear?   My friend Joan is in town.

Click and watch the music video below.  This one is dedicated to you, Joan.  Love, Gean

Thank You For Being A Friend--Andrew Gold

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bliss = Eggs Over Easy



Happy January everyone!  I hope your holidays were lovely and peaceful.  Ours were and I'm grateful.  Now it's January and I love this month!  I've been cleaning out closets and drawers, throwing things away, selling clothes I don't need and hardly ever wear, and trying to simplify my life even more.

Do you like simple things?  I do.  I love beautiful things that are simple and honest, without a lot of hype.  Food that is delicious, but not hoity-toity.  Clothes that are classic, well-made, and will last for years, but that not everyone else has.  Shoes that are comfortable, but also pretty.  A home decorated by our family's adventures and experiences, personal art work, talents, and achievements, instead of purchased from the store.  The perfectly soft and squishy, down feather pillow.   A car that gets good gas mileage, blazes through the snow, and will last to 200K miles.

I've been thinking about lessons my family and I learned in 2014.  Many were happy and exciting, others were sad and difficult, leaving wounds still waiting to heal.  I don't make resolutions.  I don't like the word.  I like goals, but I don't ever set more than one or two at a time, or they won't be accomplished.  I also don't usually share my goals with other people because I don't want people having expectations of me.
I want to have my own triumphs and accomplish things for the right reasons.

One thing I learned about myself in 2014 is that I like runny eggs.  Please bring me poached eggs and eggs over easy, and some rye toast to dip them in.  And, please kill me now because for my whole life I have missed out on this lovely, simple, and beautifully yummy treat.  Oh, the humanity !  At my house when I was a kid, when frying eggs, my mom poked the yolks so they would cook hard.  The scrambled eggs were really little yellow crusts.  I grew up paranoid that runny eggs were raw eggs, or bad eggs.  One day last year I realized that although I have never been a picky eater, I had never even tried the runny eggs.  I had been pre-conditioned to think they were bad and gross, so I had always ordered something else or prepared them differently for my own family.  Although, to my credit, I don't make gross, yellow crusts for scrambled eggs.  My husband is the scrambled egg king.  His eggs are super delicious.
I digress.

One day when out to breakfast I decided to live dangerously and order eggs over easy with a side of rye toast.  Can I just say, oh my heck!  It was so delicious, I had no words!  I couldn't believe that as a child I had been robbed of this yummy-ness and that it took me 50 years to decide for myself to try runny eggs.  Each bite of the toast dipped into the egg was like a bit of warm, summer sunshine in my tummy.  Bliss.  Then, as often happens when I get excited about something, I became obsessed with making the perfect eggs.  I wanted the perfect combination of soft yolk, but enough of the runny egg for my rye toast.

Voila!  It happened as a little miracle just this week.  I had a doctor appointment south of downtown and had a lunch date with my handsome husband afterwards.  I had an hour to kill in between so I wandered into Crate & Barrel to have a look-see.  I gave myself a small budget to spend, hoping to find some treasure to inspire my new culinary goals for the year.  Then I saw it!  A pan made just for poaching eggs.  I knew I had to have it!  Then I found a crepe pan, straight from France, and knew that was on the list also.  So I left the store with my egg-poaching pan, my crepe pan, a new French wire whisk, a jumbo spice ball herb infuser, and a bright, new, and happy apron.  I was ready to get cooking.  Dinner that night would be crepes and eggs.  I stopped at the store for some berries and Nutella.  Soon I was home, washing and preparing my new culinary tools.  Happy face!  The crepes were beautiful, light and delicious.  A real French hit!
But, the eggs were beauty personified in yellow and white.
Four minutes was all it took for heaven to slip out onto toasted bread.
A symphony of warm, yellow goodness.


I have already made eggs three more times.  It makes me happy.  I'm actually glad it took 50 years to discover this simple and delicious new taste and now skill.  I wonder, what else have I been wrong about for 50 years?  Just because someone else, like your parent, doesn't like runny eggs, doesn't mean you can't like them.  And just because your mom hates cats doesn't mean you have to.

Why a post about eggs?  You might say, Gina has lost her mind.  Maybe I have, OR, maybe I've found it.  Bottom line, people.  We don't have to like or dislike what others tell us to like or dislike.  We are all created to be unique individuals and with our own set of talents and gifts.  We are not supposed to be copycats of one another!  Just because my neighbors all go to Disneyland 27 times a year doesn't make us want to go.  We don't care about Disneyland (gasp!)  We would rather see Alaska, ride the ferry to the Outer Banks, go on adventures looking for lighthouses, study the tide pools of Oregon, eat North Carolina BBQ (vinegar!), go river rafting, go whale watching, go to Chinatown (Sam Wo's), eat at Houston's, ride motorcycles in the Dominican Republic, swim in the Caribbean ocean, hike waterfalls in the rainforest, and pile 22 people in a broken-down Toyota Corolla taxi tied together with chicken wire.  If Disneyland really speaks to your soul, I guess that's up to you, but don't go there 42 times per year just because everyone else does, and don't go there just because it's the only place your parents ever took you.
Maybe they were scared to have other adventures.  Maybe they were scared of runny eggs.

One thing about my upcoming 2015.  It's now runny eggs all the time.  No more hard, rubbery, gross yolks.  I want to be in the warm, glowing sunshine.  Obviously, hard eggs are served to us on lots of days because things happen to us that we don't choose.  But, when I can choose, and I believe I can always choose my attitude about things, I will choose the eggs that are sunny-side up or over easy.  Life is hard enough to eat hard eggs.  Eggs over easy sound a lot more happy, a lot more doable, a lot more fun.  The way I see it is, if I am given hard eggs, I will be grateful and I will eat them and appreciate them for what they can do for me.  But when I can choose, I will always choose eggs over easy.

Here is hoping that 2015 will bring us all blessings and happiness, even when eating the hard eggs served to us through others' choices and actions, failing health, or just life itself.  On those days, I will remember eggs over easy and how it only takes 4 minutes to make them perfectly, how because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, even my hard-egg days can be made easy again because of His love and sacrifice.
I just have to choose His way, which is easy, or the world's way, which is hard.  Which will you choose?  For this girl, it will always be eggs over easy, with a side of rye, dry.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Wanted: Sure-Footed Horses and Sure-Footed Men

This post is a followup to "Cream Doesn't Settle, Or It's Time to Dump Your Boyfriend." 


I am tired of young women not feeling safe.  All women, in fact.  I'm tired of them being unappreciated, mistreated, abused, lied to, taken advantage of, and taken for granted.  I'm worn out with all the young men who aren't taking life seriously and who refuse to 'get in the saddle' when it comes to love, marriage, and family.

After talking with my husband about this, he woke me up when he said, "the problem is that these guys are not sure-footed."  Wow!  Instant imagery came to my mind like a movie.  He was right.  What is the difference between a young man who meets the right girl and finds a way to make things work so they can get married and start their journey together and the guy who just keeps jumping from girl to girl, dating some for several months before dumping them and others only once or twice, refusing to take things seriously?  What about the guy who is pretending to date, but is really still hanging out with his buddies, but brings a girl along once in a while?  What about the one that likes a girl, a lot, but still 'breaks it off' so they can 'be friends,' thus avoiding responsibility?  He still gets the benefit of her company, but he is suddenly relieved of any pressure in the relationship.

I have decided that real men, sure-footed ones, are hard to find anymore.  So many young men are playing around, refusing to set goals and achieve them, delaying important decisions about marriage and family, and just trying to extend their childhood for longer and longer.  They insist on group dates, but they are in their 20's.  They don't call, they text.  They won't buy a girl a present or send a card.  They don't realize that dating doesn't have to be expensive, but it does require some thoughtful planning.  They are putting their lives on hold for 'someday,' which for them may never come.


Last December, our family went on an adventure to the Dominican Republic where our son had served his mission for our church.  It was an amazing, forever life-changing trip.  We saw such beautiful people and breath-taking scenery, ate such delicious food I never wanted to come home, and swam in a turquoise sea.  One of the things we did was ride horses to see a waterfall.   We needed horses and guides to take us on the treacherous trail.  The waterfall was nestled deep in the forested jungle at the end of a dangerous trail that crossed a river twice and was covered in clay and giant, slippery rocks.

It was a beautiful, sunny, Caribbean morning.  The humidity was 100% and the heat was 85 degrees F.    We left the hotel and hired a little broken-down taxi to take us to where the horses were.  After seeing the horses and meeting the guides, we paid our pesos and were ready to go.  I was a little concerned because the horses were skinny, without any shoes, and only blankets tied on with ropes instead of saddles.  Our guides were small, sweet, Dominican men with big, happy smiles.  They chose the horses for each of us and who would be our guides.  Soon we were each on our horses, ready for the trail.

At first the trail was just a steady, even slope.  Quickly the terrain changed and the trail was very steep, with large and smooth stones covered in wet clay.  It was very slippery.  I was feeling terribly guilty that we were on these horses while the little guides were trudging through the slippery mud and on the clay-covered stones.  They just smiled and gently followed the horses, whistling once in a while, or swatting the horses on the backside with a bundle of grass.

We crossed the river and the horses stopped to take a long drink.  It was pleasant and cool there in the river, but soon it was time to make the ascent back up the slippery trail.  In some places the trail was almost a vertical slope, it was so steep.  Large, jagged rocks covered with sticky clay looked like a disaster to me.  The horses lunged forward to keep our weight properly balanced.  They knew the trail and exactly where to hug the edges, where to gather speed to gain momentum, and where to take it slowly and carefully.  The guides were not leading the horses.  The horses were in front with the guides behind.  The guides were simply encouraging the horses in a loving way with kissing sounds and swats on the behind with their plumes of grass.  The horses just needed the positive encouragement to get up the rough and rocky mountain.

We finally reached what appeared to be our destination, only to have the guides show us the waterfall, still off in the distance.  We were told the horses could go no further and we would have to hike the rest of the way.  When we saw the trail before us, a straight decline of very steep and muddy rocks, I started to wonder how this was going to happen.  The guides said they would go the rest of the way with us, to help us on the dangerous trail.  We were not accustomed to it, but they seemed to glide over the danger with ease.  My little guide was in tune with me needing some extra help.  We had been staying on the coast where the heat was not as intense and there was a steady ocean breeze, but here in the mountains, it was intensely hot and humid.  My heart was truly pounding like it was going to jump out of my chest.  Papa held my hand the whole way down the trail.  He moved things out of my way and pointed to the safer places to put my feet.  Papa was an old man with ragged clothes, but he smiled bigger than I have ever seen and kept calling me Senorita.


We reached the waterfall at the bottom of the slope and spent some time there wading in the pools beneath it.  It was truly beautiful.  A prettier picture than I have ever seen in National Geographic.  Even the pictures we took do not do it justice.  Our guides held our shoes for us while we went wading and rested.  They knew we needed our strength to get back up the mountain.  Soon we finished our picture taking and swimming and knew it was time to start the climb.  It was hard for me, but my family was patient as I needed to stop many times to catch my breath.  John was concerned and tried to help me, but he was new to the territory and needed his own guide for help.  Papa kept stopping and forcing me to rest.  He waved leaves over me to help cool me off.  I told him in my very limited Spanish that I had a heart condition and he immediately took even more care to help me rest and wait.  Finally, we made it back to the horses and had to start the journey back the way we had come, over the slippery, steep mountains. 

It was an exhilarating experience to be so close to danger.  It was both terrifying and exciting to know that if any one of us fell off our horse, we would probably be killed.  We were in a third-world country, tucked away deeply in the jungle, and hours away from Santo Domingo and any hospital.  Even though I am prone to be anxious, I never worried while on that horse.  I trusted him and I trusted Papa.  They both knew the way.  I wasn't anxious for my family because I trusted their horses and their guides.  I also trusted God.   I felt deep humility in that place, with our new friends, surrounded by the Lord's creations.  They had made me feel safe because they were sure-footed.
 

Well, what does a sure-footed horse and a sweet Dominican guide have to do with dating and marriage?  It has everything to do with it.  To you sweet young ladies, watch and wait for the sure-footed horse who trusts his sure-footed guide.  For you young men, make sure to be the sure-footed horse and trust your sure-footed guide. 

Women need to feel safe.  We need to know that you are not looking at other girls.  If you love us, you shouldn't even see other women.  We need to know that when you find us and know you love us, that you will want to make us yours and protect us.  We don't want to have to worry about whether or not you are confident enough to lead our family.  We want to know you are ready for marriage and a family, to make the sacrifices with us and for us that will help make our family successful.  We need to feel safe with you and know that you will never put us in harm's way, talk badly about us to your friends or mother, or find reasons to be away from home.  We need to know that you are worthy of the guide behind you, the one who knows the trail even better than you do, and the one that ultimately is cheering for our safe return, together.  When we find the horse that is sure-footed, we will know, immediately.  All sense of anxiety will be lost.  All fear will be gone.  We will feel at peace with you and know you love us because you will show us by your actions and your words.  We will feel safe because you know your guide and you trust Him.  We will want to be only with you because of how good you make us feel.




If you are sure-footed:
  • You are prayerful in your quest to find a good girl.
  • You are humble and recognize God's hand in helping you recognize her.
  • You are prepared to take steps to move forward with marriage and a family.
  • You aren't afraid of getting married; you want to be married and you want a family.
  • You have faith that together you can figure things out so you can start your life together.
  • You won't insist on inviting her to hang out with your friends and you realize that group dates are for high-school kids.
  • You have goals and plans to achieve them.
  • You are careful with your money.
  • You know how to work and you work hard.
  • You know you are a Child of God, that you are valuable to Him, and that He needs you to be a righteous and obedient example.
  • You have a desire to serve God and your fellowmen.
  • You have clean hands and a clean mind.
  • You have a loving and soft heart and want to be good.
  • People look up to you because of the way you make them feel.  
  • You have hope for the future. 

Young men, take courage!  You are good and you are strong.  You are working hard and you are accomplishing great things.  Please let finding a sweet, happy, smart, modest, educated, young woman a priority.  Please stop listening to the world tell you what is important.  The only thing that will matter when we are gone from this world is our family relationships and our obedience to God's commandments, our testimony of Christ, and our service to others.  Please have hope that you are confident enough to help that special girl along the way.  She can't make it without you.  She needs a partner; a sure-footed, strong, faithful, committed partner to compliment her and who she can compliment.  She wants to help you.  She wants to find you, too.

Next time you see a girl you're interested in, take action.  Ask her out.  If you like her, ask her out again, and again, and again.  Talk about deep things.  Get to know her heart.  Appreciate her gifts and talents.  Encourage her to be her best.  Take walks.  Write her a letter.  Look at the stars.  Tell her your dreams and plans and ask about hers.  Get interested in her life and get her interested in yours.  Talk about the future.  Make plans together.  Work things out and buy a ring---a real diamond, even if it's small, and real gold.  Don't start life together with a fake ring.  And propose!  If you're a sure-footed guy that makes her feel safe and she loves you and you love her, she will say yes.  Then you can have the magnificent experience of joining with another person and starting a new life together.  It is God's plan.  It is God's commandment.  It is God's way. 

When I met my sure-footed horse, I knew him because he was different.  He wasn't like all the other boys who only wanted to make out or watch TV.  He treated me with respect and made me happy.  He made me feel safe.  He became my sure-footed husband, who continuously and unselfishly is always helping me and our children feel safe.  I know he loves me, that I'm the only woman he sees, that he wants to be with me when he isn't, and that he still has bright dreams and hopes for our future together.  He is my sure-footed prince, my trusted friend who trusts our Guide and is helping me, walking along next to me, on our journey up this trail of life.  He leads our family by example and love.  He loves us and protects us.  I love him with all my heart.  I know if we all do our part, we can all make it safely back to live with God.


Ladies, hold on and wait, for the man that is sure-footed.  If you are prepared to recognize him, you will know him when you meet him. 

Young men, be sure-footed.  Trust your Guide.  Be about doing good.  Be prepared and humble and when you meet that special girl, you will know her.  Then lead her safely home.