Sunday, May 30, 2010


Went to climb in my bed last night after all the grandkids left. Ava stayed behind to have fun with Nana and Papa.

There was a piece of note paper (from a notepad that I keep on my nightstand) right where I was going to sleep. I picked it up to place on my nightstand, when I happened to glance at the writing on the paper. It read:

"Dear Nana, Have a good dream. OXOX (she drew a heart) Lilia"

I was so deeply touched by this and shouted with JOY to have Ava come and read the note that Lily had left. Lily is eight years of age, and in her short time on the Earth she has brought, to everyone that knows her, such love and happiness. Especially to Ava, who is standing beside me as I write this note.

"Dear Lily, Have beautiful dreams all of your life. OXOXoxoxOXOX (with a big pink heart next to my name) Nanita"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Break a Leg, Jonathan

In Hollywood, when an actor or musician is about to perform in a show, they say say "break a leg." It is an idiom which means "good luck." It came about because of theatre superstitions about wishing someone good luck--that in doing so it would actually bring them bad luck!

Well, I don't know the phrase to use for someone that will be working on a movie as a "witness camera" for the set. Or a good phrase for someone who hopes to be a successful screenwriter someday, so maybe, Jonathan, I can borrow from the Aussies, and just wish you "chookas." Chookas came about as a phrase meaning the theatre was filled up with patrons. Someone would then holler out "chooks" meaning they would all get to have chicken for supper that night! Chooks was an Australian slang word for Chicken. Nowadays, it is used by performers prior to a show--no matter how many are in attendance--and is simple a wish for success.

Remember Jonny, all the things about you that begin with the words "I am . . ." along with the sum of all you've experienced, worked for and lived through--and you will be the man you were meant to be in this life. You are already that man to me.

So, Jonathan, as you depart the mountains for the dessert, I wish you Chookas, and instead of breaking a leg, how about muchas bendiciones? Tu Mami

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is it True?

What's the worst that can happen?

Can you deal with it?

Is it the end of the world?

These are my three questions I ask myself when confronted with a situation that I fear. For several years the answers to these questions have taken me down a path of thinking that eventually freed me to let go and trust that things would be alright. This wisdom teaches me that, first, I am not in charge of the universe, and second, there is true peace in doing the best you can and then letting go--calmed inside with a belief that things will be alright, or at least thought of in a different light. Might be different. Might not like it. Might not wish it were true: but still something that I can and will survive.

So today, as I read the words of Byron Katie (as told by Caitlin Flannigan) simply put: my world was rocked. The student was ready and the teacher appeared.

Byron Katie stated that "all the suffering that goes on inside our minds, is not reality. It's just a story we torture ourselves with." Isn't this the truth? How many times have I zeroed in on the worst possible scenario, anguished over the most broken-hearted sentiment or gave my physical and mental body over to an unbearable (or unbelievable) thought? To find out that I am the author of such thoughts was both enlightening and empowering!

Just for the record--I am truly an optimist. Terry often remarks that I make Pollyanna look like a depressed person! But once in a while there are those thoughts and worries that creep into my head. Having a husband, five children, in-laws, and grandchildren only up the odds of having a few crises (and we've certainly had more than a few). So, when I do have those times where I wish I could control the universe, and make everyone happy or do what I perceive is the right thing to do, I now have some better questions to replace my own with--thanks to Byron Katie.

Katie declares, "All war belongs on paper . . .and this is how you go to battle: you write down each and every stressful thought, and then ask yourself four questions about it:

  • Is it true?
  • Can I absolutely know it's true?
  • How do I react when I believe this thought?
  • Who would I be without the thought?"

After you ask yourself these questions she advises: "when you have wrestled the thought to the ground, you replace it with a 'turnaround'--an opposite thought, one that is 'as true or truer' and that doesn't cause you suffering."  

Katie, herself, has been through her own "awakening" (after a stint in a halfway house in LA) and woke up one day simply being aware that she had changed. She understood the world differently--there was no story, she said, just "it".

In trying to teach about the reality that you create, she goes on to say "there is reality and then there is the movie your mind projects about that reality. There is the dress and there is the movie that tells you how you look in the dress. Your mind projects the movie that tells you that you're about to be fired or that you've ruined a friendship or that you have no sense of style." She began to realize that she had full permission to "walk over to the movie projector and yank the plug from the wall."

She challenges everyone who chooses to do what she calls "The Work" and to be truthful in asking themselves these questions: "Who would you be without your thought or how do you react when you believe this thought?"

You soon realize that some of the most scary internal thoughts and fears dissolve when you ask yourself the question in all honesty: is it true?  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Perfect Day

I love days like this. 

It's snowing that "pretend snow" outside. You know what kind of snow I mean--where it looks like snow, feels cold like snow, and is even snowing sideways, fiercely, to try to convince us that it really is a big snowstorm. Yet the moment the sun comes out--it will all go away, and look as though it had never really happened.

Right now, all I can think of is the beautiful light that it is creating. Perfect light. People light. The kind of perfect light that you love to take pictures in. 

The house is quiet, the wind is softly blowing outside, but inside, all I can hear is the clicking of my keyboard as I write this and the soft hum of my floor heater warming my feet. These are precious hours to think, to write and to meditate. 

I have always kept notepaper and a pen on my nightstand next to my side of the bed. Why? Because the other precious hours, to think, write and meditate, are somewhere after I go to sleep, and before I rise. I get ideas. Thoughts. Solve problems. And sometimes when sleep evades me, I sit up and make lists. 

And sometimes I am even inspired.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jared Turns 33

M'ijo--it has been quite a while since I wrote you a letter. Not being a good example, am I? So today, as I contemplate your Birthday, I think that I will take just a moment and write you a letter.

Let's see, how old are you today anyway? Oh my, you are 33! What was I doing when I was 33? It was 1985, in Bolivia, and Jonathan had just turned a year old! Jacey was not even thought of at the time. . .but the next year, we became a family of seven. I did some of my "best work" in life in Bolivia. The world grew smaller for me, and my strengths grew larger. I had unprecedented time with you kids, not having to worry about the daily upkeep of a house, and cooking the meals. I did all the fun stuff--designing and shopping for menus, cooking for big groups of people, and overseeing the house. That's how a woman's life should be I've decided. I remember Bolivian women thought all American women sat on their behinds all day eating bonbons. When I explained that I was the cook, the maid, the chauffeur, the party planner, the taxi, the bank, the laundress, the gardener (that was the most shocking to them!) the seamstress, paid the bills, coached and was the nanny--well, I think I had them straightened out and flying right.

I learned a lot in my 33rd year: like a woman's home is not her character, nor her worth. And speaking of worth--that mistakes were part of my growth--not my worth. My patriotism grew, my ability to sacrifice and be of service became more powerful, and I found that I could love anyone--no matter the culture, the poverty, the ignorance or the arrogance (that was for some Embassy folks). I learned that I could survive alone, and raise four kids with a spouse that traveled a lot--and be very happy doing it! I learned a new language, made new friends (mourned my old and dear friends), and served in a church calling where I didn't know a word that was spoken! I learned to eat fresh, not drink the water and to quit putting my hands in my mouth.

I learned to rely on the Lord in a way that I had never experienced so continuously. I saw His hand. I was sheltered in the hallow of that Hand many times. I knew and felt the comfort of the Holy Ghost--which sometimes was more my companion than your father was. I read the Book of Mormon and understood it better than the thirty-three years before. I also loved more deeply my LDS world family, and their passion for always trying to do the right thing.

I understood prejudice, poverty, sickness and religious intolerance in a way that was not possible being raised in my lily-white all Mormon Utah.  People can be just as devout and faithful believing something else, and I grew to love and understand that. I have one exception here: While driving in her car, I told Meches to quit genuflecting through every intersection, she was making me nervous! If she was so unsure of her driving skills and needed to bless every intersection--maybe I needed to walk!! 

Well, enough on my 33rd year, here is a wish I have for you for your 33rd year, and it comes in the form of a song from Dylan called "Forever Young"

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

I've included some music so that you can hear him sing it, and follow along with his words. They are good wishes, and some of the thoughts that I would wish for you as your Momma.

You are a good and man. Your brilliance, talents and social skills are the envy of everyone. They sense how much you like people. I'd like to think that my talking to strangers (like in elevators) may have helped a little in the social department! You are a good husband and I watch as you grow and learn how to be a better one and am very proud of your efforts. You are a wonderful father. Campbell has brought out in you all the tenderness, love, connection and sweetness than a true man can have for his child. You are beyond what I ever thought possible in your desire to serve your son and to give him so much of yourself. You will have many paydays ahead and will be full in your heart in the future for all of your work done today. Being a parent means delaying gratification, but then you are a gardener, so you know all about that.

Thank you for always caring about your Dad and me. You have an uncanny ability to sense when we need to talk, or to do something nice for us when we need it. But Jared, just having you walk in the door, and be so glad to see us, is the nicest thing that you can do. Old people like to be loved. I know, because I am old. You and Sade have been so good to us--and we love your invitations to join you--doing anything!

Thank you for the constant love that you show to your siblings, cousins, grandma--and your old aunts and uncles! You are the oldest and have known them the longest.

Have a wonderful day today reflecting on your thirty-three years of earth-life. I love you.


Monday, February 22, 2010

"Letter Day Saint"

Here we are, and what a motley crew I might add! What is about a four-hour trip, was actually seven. That's because we had to stop so Karol could walk around and wake her legs up, Audrey had to use the bathroom, we all needed drinks, and of course we had to eat at Cafe Rio!

We survived about three winter storms, icy and slushy roads, fog, and not having washer fluid! Going down was full of welcome chatter, and coming home was full of singing--from the Beatles to the Carpenters--we belted them all! I still miss Karen's voice. 

We wound down by listening to "American Life" with Ira Glass on NPR. This radio piece as told by David Segal tells the story about a woman named Elizabeth who was dying of cancer. She composed thirteen birthday letters for her 16 year-old daughter. Her final letter was to be sent on Rebecca's wedding day. 

At first, the letters felt comforting. Dad mailed them to her, but at her mother's request, the letters were for her eyes only. This set up one of many uncomfortable "traps" in the experience and unintentionally built a wall between her and her Father. The story has an interesting twist, and ends in a very unexpected way--promoting lively discussions between all of us, in the car, as we drove north on Interstate 15. What we would write to our children if we knew we were going to die?. Would we write anything at all? After hearing this broadcast, we all had to re-think our first reaction!

The girl, Rebecca, said that although she felt that the letters made her "visit her mother's grave" every year and kept her from "moving on", they also made her a better person, as her mom challenged her to give "ethical expression" to her life as well as other important comments and suggestions. Elizabeth was a Mormon mother who wanted her daughter to marry in an LDS Temple. All of her letters reflected on her daughters Mormon religiosity, with only one problem: the daughter decided as an adult that Mormonism was not for her. Each yearly letter became more of a condemnation than a welcomed visit. And Dad had to "pick up the pieces" from an emotionally distraught daughter every year she read her birthday letter.

She marries, outside of an LDS Temple, to a non-member. She is very happy, but on her wedding day, she is not sure if she wants to read her Mom's letter--she doesn't want to be sad knowing that she was not meeting the expectations her mother had for her. She thinks she may wait another time to read her Wedding Day Letter--but the letter never even arrives. Although her Dad's secretary had sent the letter FedEx, the letter turns missing. It never shows up. 

You will have to click on the link below and listen to the story--trust me, Rebecca has more to go through in her young life, and we are all saddened as we listen. Not the outcome we all thought, as we drove down the interstate. Not the outcome at all. 

The program describes what happens when parents set "accidental traps" for their children. The actual story is called: "Act One. Letter Day Saint", but the other two stories are just as interesting. So, if you have a moment, click on this link: 

Listen to all three stories if you like, and then tell me what you think in a comment. I would love to explore this with all of you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Road Trip!!!

Jacey, Jennifer, Butterfly, my sister Karol (and maybe Sade) and I are going down to St. George on Saturday, because I have to wrap up the finishing touches on our Harrington Family Reunion in June in St. George. It's just easier to meet with my Uncle Julian at the kitchen table than exchanging emails.

Terry said, "Are you sure it's worth it going all the way down there on Saturday, just to come home on Sunday?"

"What?" I say, "and miss a four-hour talk-fest down, all the fun and talking at my Aunt and Uncle's house, and another four-hour talk-fest home? Are you crazy, I can't wait!!!"

He just laughed because, after all, he did marry a Venusian.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Journal Writer's Dilemna

Sometimes you will say or write different things if you know that no one is listening or reading your thoughts. Then there is the question, well how much exactly do I share? Do you tell the whole truth? And what happens when something is the truth, for right now, but isn't the truth later? Or what happens when you thought you knew the truth, but you really didn't. And what happens when your own truth isn't someone else's, and that that someone else is someone you love very much, or some one you live with, or someone you raised or was raised by . . .

How much do the people in my future (and with blogs, my present) want to know about their past? Will any of it really matter? Will it stop someone from making a terrible mistake? Feel that this too will pass? See that it could be overcome? Realize it has no power over them? Believe that because you think  it, it's okay for them to think it also?

Is what I do everyday, and sometimes twice on the weekends, going to really matter to someone that will probably spend their days totally different than I spend mine? I think I am going to say "yes" to that one. Because for as many "things" that change in the world, there will still be people--my people--that will still be doing the same old dumb, smart, funny, crazy and hopeful things. Although the world may change and look different, human nature, carnal woman, civilization and crazy families will still be reacting and dealing with life from a distinctly human point of view.

I just had one thought: maybe there will be a pill that will change all that "humanness". Maybe my great-great granddaughter won't need to read my journal--or listen to her parents--or do what right. Maybe there will be a pill that will change all that, and pharmacology will be better than psychology?

Well, I think that I will take my chances and write anyway. If only to make them glad they didn't have to live without all the things that I know that they are going to have that I can't even dream or imagine about. And also, because it will be good to know that I loved. I loved now, so that they will have love then. And I believe that love is one thing that will never change.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To Terry

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms,
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers.
Thanks to your love a certain fragrance,
risen darkly from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride,
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where "I" does not exist, nor "you,"
So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
So close that your eyes close and I fall asleep.

-Pablo Neruda

Pay Your Bills

My Dad would get out the "bill box" every Sunday night or so. He would carefully go through all the bills, and more importantly, pay them. He always counseled us to pay our bills, and live on what was left. I have come to believe that not only is that sound wisdom in financial areas, and that you sleep better at night, but it is also good wisdom for everything else.

"Paying the bills" can be used as a metaphor for many things in life. If you exercise, eat right and get enough sleep--your body will thank you for the care you give it. "Pay it later" and you will live with degeneration, insomnia, pills and sometimes depression. 

Ignore your spiritual life, and you will find yourself feeling disconnected, vacant, lost, doubtful or troubled. Whatever it is that you need to do to keep yourself connected to God, a richer inner life, your Savior, or the Holy Spirit, you need to "pay" it. 

For everything in life that is worthwhile, beautiful, important and valuable--there is always a price to pay. An action to complete. A thing to do. There is always something that we have to do FIRST. Try it any other way, and it just gets undone. Those who have learned to delay gratification, and do the things necessary first--enjoy so much the journey later.

Dad always did the work. He always paid his dues. And everywhere I look in life I see where I have to do certain things, so that I will have the things that matter most (whatever they are) later.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Spirit Told Me

Saturday night I was able to spend an evening with my sister Karol, at a play at the Hale Centre Theatre. It was a play that I  really looked forward to: The Importance of Being Earnest. It was, and still is, one of the funniest plays/movies ever. But the show wasn't just on the stage. . .

Across from us, within level view, was a couple that caught my eye about 20 minutes into the play. They were a striking couple in their early seventies--her with her beautiful short white hair, and radiant smile, and he with his suit and tie and handsome features--were enjoying the play immensely. Actually, everyone was, but not exactly the way they did.

The woman would laugh, and he would turn and look at her laughing with such awe and joy. Then he would laugh and she would do the same. Sometimes she would caress his chin, and he would look at her with such tenderness and love. They both enjoyed the play--and each other. Towards the end of the play, I said, "Karol, look at that couple over there". Karol smiled and said, "I've been watching them all night, aren't they lovely?" We continued to glance at them, smiling, until the play ended.

As we departed down the stairs towards the exit--I found myself right next to the couple. I stopped and looked at both of them and said, "I don't know which I liked better: watching the play, or watching you two!" They were both overjoyed with my comment, and began to laugh together, and then he exclaimed, "We've only been married TWO weeks!" and then they hugged each other. Ah, such unrestrained love and devotion!

They went on to explain to Karol and me, that both had lost their spouses. When I asked how they met, he replied, "we were both walking out of the Tabernacle at the same time". Then she jumped in with, " . . . and a voice told me that I had to talk to that man!" I laughed and said, "but did you know if he was single?" and she said, "no, I just did what the voice told me to do!"

It was really just that simple--she did what the voice asked her to do. She lived her life by the spirit. She practiced listening to the spirit, and when she answered the spirit (because of her personal strength and experience) she was living out her later years with a companion that brought her obvious joy.

"Listen to that still small voice, listen listen. . .
When you have to make a choice
He will guide you . . .always"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Something to Post About

"When your spouse does something right, tell the world. When they do something wrong, tell them in private."

This morning Terry brought me breakfast in bed for MLK day. It was very cute because I thought he had already gone out the door to do his morning run. He's been practicing getting the eggs perfect (one set of eggs landed in the garbage)! All I could think of when he left was what could I do for him? You love whom you serve. Love begats love, and "besides" he says, "I want you to have something nice to blog about".

I'm just tellin' ya.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

For those who know: Obama who? You will always, first and foremost, be more important to me.

The Visit

Audrey, Lily and Turner were being watched by Terry and me. Their mom Jenni, was doing one of her favorite things to do every year: Filming a Short for The Annual LDS 24-hour Film Festival. Jenni was off with her "film crew" (the rest of the Turner family) writing, producing and acting out their movie. While they did their 24-hour thing, we settled in for our 24 hours with the grandchildren.

All three of the kids were being mesmerized by the Disney Channel. And yes, sometimes that is a very good thing. Tonight, however, I announced, as I sat dinner on the table, that the TV was being turned off, and we were all going to "visit". (I had informed my OWN children many years ago that we were going to visit, only to have Jared remark bewilderingly,"what kind of a word is VISIT?") My grandchildren are so much smarter than their parents, for when I asked if they knew what the word meant, Lily immediately raised her hand and gave a brilliant definition, and it was obvious that she and Audrey were very eager to visit.

The rules were that Papa and I could ask them each a question, and then they could ask us one. We went back and forth asking and answering questions. Although we had a slow start with a bunch of really silly questions, we soon got to some really good ones:

"Papa, how many girlfriends have you had?" "Five, but your Nana was my favorite."

"What's your favorite color Nana?" "Pink, just like your favorite Lily."

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" "A dishwasher" says Audrey,

"A Rockstar" says Lily, "oh and a Chef."

"What kind of food do you want to cook?" Nana asks.

"Teriyaki Food"

"Hey Audrey," I say thinking (I've wanted to ask her a question for a couple of months now: she quit calling me Nana and now calls me Grandma. I would really like to know why).

" . . .why do you call me Grandma?"

She squints her eyes, tilts her head, and looks at me and exclaims, "because . . .you . . . .LOOK . . .like a Grandma??

Visit over.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's a new year--think I'll make some magic!

Yesterday, I reminisced about my mom, and then I smiled about my grandson. Two years to the day, one said goodbye and the other said hello. Life can be like that you know, and how often have we heard the phrase that when a door closes, another opens up? Well it did for us--and it was in the form of a beautiful baby boy . . .

Jonathan and I took down the Christmas Tree today, and for the first time in a very long time, I turned our home into a walk-in Valentine. There are hearts everywhere. Pink, red and white lights flicker as the Valentine Bunny sits in her spot on the table. Tomorrow I will fill the clear jars with red lids full of candy hearts and valentine sweetness.

Valentine boxes and tins in all shapes and sizes greet visitors in the entryway. Some are old fashioned, Victorian or romantic, while others are simple, sweet and lovely. I love hearts and I love romance. Most people give up on romance way too soon. To two old birds like Terry and I, nothing is sweeter than when we take the time to romance one another . . . things like when he stays awake and downstairs at the kitchen table while I am in my office editing photos, because he doesn't want me to be alone. . .so he waits for me to finish so that we can walk hand in hand up the stairs to our bedroom.

Or the many nights when I am up editing photos into the wee morning hours, and even though he waits awake as long as he can, I find him sleeping. The sweet part? My side of the bed has been folded down, all smooth and beautiful like the finest hotels do, my pillow fluffed up, and my night table has the light on so that I don't have to find my way in the dark.

He loves MY dog. He rubs Tommy's belly, and let's him sleep at the foot of the bed making any turns difficult when you have a 25-lb dog sleeping on your feet, or snuggling between your legs. He is the one to let Tommy out in the very early morning hours only to bring me the morning paper to read in bed.

Saturdays (and other mornings too) he makes me breakfast--not cereal mind you--but the best fried eggs, toast to dip in (yes, he makes perfect runny yolks!).

This is romance. He is love. I sent this to him in an email the other day as I was feeling so much gratitude for this magnificent man:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

I want Nana and Papa's house to be magical for when my children and grandchildren come and visit. I want them to feel love. I want them to see beauty . . .and I want them to have romance!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day Revelation

It's just a day, for heaven's sake. So why do I always have such a sense of dread? My children are wonderful on that day--and I make it hard for them too. Maybe it's because of my crummy attitude. So why is it crummy? I am sure that GUILT has a little to do with it (I can hear a chorus of women saying “amen”). You get “a day” each year to remember all the times where you didn’t measure up as a mother--at least that is what I do to myself. You sigh at lost opportunities, unmet needs, and missed cues--and maybe not loving/being in tune in just the right way with what every child wanted or needed. And since we always remember the sensational stuff (whether good or bad) we tend to judge ourselves by those memories. Just a little narcissistic maybe?

What's missing sometimes in our minds, and even in the minds of our children (that is until they become parents themselves) are the memories of the thousands of minutes, days, months, and yes, years where you did your job, and you did it elegantly--maybe even brilliantly. You did it through sickness, fatigue, sadness, sorrow, frustration and fear. You did it with poverty, isolation, loneliness and loss. You did it with faith, courage, determination or just plain stubbornness—and with never enough time. It was easy to do when you were skinny, happy, financially stable, and with a marriage made in heaven. It was a lot harder to do if you lost your faith, your friends, your sweetheart, or even your dog. The minutes, days, weeks and months of excellent mothering get forgotten by us as we measure our mother's worth by all our imperfections. By all our weaknesses. By all our regrets.

We all have trials--and often the casualties of these trials are the scars we pack around that constantly remind us of the battle. And Mother's Day, it seems, is the holiday we use to celebrate that battle. I've changed my outlook for that day--for several very good reasons--my children. My crummy attitude was affecting their affection for me on that day. I know that they dreaded it too as they looked forward to a day where they would be walking on eggshells. If they didn't say the right things or do the right things they assumed that they would reinforce my own screw-up view of my motherhood. That's a terrible burden to give children, don't you think? Especially when it has NOTHING to do with them. It was all me, but I was inadvertently putting them in charge of fixing me.

Because that is such a dead end path, I choose another: I look forward to seeing them all today while looking into their eyes and seeing the wonderful human beings they are and have become. And yes, even knowing that I DID have something to do with it, and be proud of that work.
I know that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. And also, just in case, if I taught them anything--I taught them to be forgiving. I trust that that is why they will love and celebrate me on this, my day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How to Screw up a Child

I took four of my five grandchildren to McDonald's for lunch yesterday. They all wanted to eat and play in the play area.

I sat at the table close to the play area so I could watch my grandkids playing and still feed my littlest grandson Campbell in his highchair. I happened to notice an older woman who was there with her daughter and two of her grandchildren at the next table. The daughter had gone to the play area with her daughter, and the grandmother sat with her five-year-old grandson at the table where the following conversation took place:

"Now if you want to go back into the play area you can't be mean anymore!"
He sits silently looking around.
"Are you going to be like Jesus or Satan?"
He stands up, blankly staring into her face.
"Sit down and do as you're told or you'll make Jesus cry."
He doesn't sit down, so she smacks him in the face, and he cries loud and hard.
Then she tells him to "sit down and be quiet", and to eat his "happy meal".
And he does.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Alone Again.

My children are very good to me. When their Dad travels, and I am left at home, they are very conscientious about making sure that I am okay . . .and not spend any time alone. Jared invited me over and even tried to hide my car keys so that I would have stay in his guest room. Jonathan forces me to be with everyone when they gather, and Jacey and Jennifer both have dinner invitations to keep me busy with. I love and appreciate each and every thoughtful gesture and am grateful for their kindness and selflessness.

After living for many years with a traveling husband I finally lobbied for, and won, the right to get a much-longed-for dog. Jared found Thomas Magnum a.k.a.
"Tommy Boy" in New York for me some three and a half years ago. He has been my constant companion since. He's a Malti-poo and therefore has been bred to stay close to his owner. And so what happens after all these years? Terry quits traveling as much--so now I have both Tommy and Terry in bed (and on the bed) with me! And I welcome the company.

My beloved grandmother lived alone as a widow for some 40 years. I only knew her as a widow, except for a brief marriage when I was a child. I used to hate to leave her house after spending the weekend with her, because I knew that she would be alone. She actually never complained, in fact hers was the neighborhood party home, and she lived a very full life in her church and neighborhood. I just remember thinking that
I would be lonely if I was her--and so my heart would literally break, and tears would secretly flow, each Sunday as I drove away with my parents and four siblings, watching her wave goodbye from her porch. To this day, I still remember how unbearable that was sometimes.

Now, as a very grown up woman, I have known loneliness myself. I truly know what it feels like to think that you will be alone, or are alone, or are experiencing profound periods of loneliness. It was in these times that I introduced myself--to myself--and found out that I had the potential to be pretty good company. It was hard at first, for I am truly a creature of crowds, laughter, family and friends. But I did, and I gained something that has served me well, and for many occasions since. It is not only okay to be alone with me, but I need it more than ever. Almost on a daily basis, I need to fill up my soul, think about my life, talk to my Father, and dream of things to see, places to go, lessons to learn, and how I can best love more fully and completely.

I learned to turn what was once a lonely uncomfortable situation, to one of growth and realization. And so when Terry schedules a trip--after I mourn a little--I know that I am in for another great time of introspection, meditation, soul-searching, and yes, to-do-lists. It also
"takes me off the hook" for a whole list of other things, but that is another blog for another day.

To this day, I still have my moments. The worst are when I drop him at the airport and have to travel home alone in a car that still smells of his cologne. And sometimes when in our great big house I hear a great big
CREAK, and I wish I was not alone. I miss him in the morning, where for years, we have discussed EVERYTHING as he comes home from a run, or readies himself for work. I miss him searching for my hand at night for we always fall asleep holding hands.

In case there be any confusion, although I've learned to love my alone time, I am
most happiest in the middle of people who I love and who love me. You know who you are. And in that crowd, I never feel alone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Girls are like
apples on trees. The best
ones are at the top of the tree.
The boys don't want to reach for
the good ones because they are afraid
of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they
just get the rotten apples from the ground
that aren't as good, but easy. So the apples
at the top think something is wrong with
them, when in reality, they're amazing.
They just have to wait for the right
boy to come along, the one
who's brave enough
to climb
all the way
to the top
of the tree.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sing, Damn You, Sing!

Getting physically older is not fun, nor particularly graceful. As I get ready in the morning I moisturize my dry old skin, perk up my eyes with eye-liner & mascara, cover my age spots with foundation (the oily kind because powder makes your wrinkles stand out). I pluck out the white eyebrow hairs, and the black "boar hairs" and then turn my mirror to magnify so I can pluck out various hairs that grow on my face in weird and frustrating places. I outline in permanent lipstick color where my lips should be, but aren't. I put on my contacts or glasses, and plop a hairpiece on the top of my head (female surgery took care of the hair on my head--half of it has fallen out--but I am hopeful. I see new brave hairs coming back so maybe I can get rid of the "ferret" in a couple of months). Turtle necks are my favorite shirts, and I couldn't live without my orthopedic shoes!

A man dated this gorgeous Opera singer, famous for her beautiful voice. After a wonderful courtship, he married her, and they soon found themselves alone in their honeymoon hotel.

He watched perplexed as she took off her long, beautiful hair. She removed her beautiful blue eyes and put them in their containers. Next came the falsies, a girdle (that made her waist look so small) and of course, off came her makeup. Then he watched in horror as she removed her teeth.

He only had one thing to say to her: "Sing, damn you, sing!"

At least SHE could sing . . . :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blogging is Good for a Woman's Health

Raising children with technology is a bane and a blessing. TV, and later Nintendo, were the interlopers in our life as I was raising my children. You have TV, Nintendo, X-box, home PC's and Macs, and all their attendant helps and hindrances. Doing the Tango with technology, and finding a good balance and appropriateness are your big challenges today. Best of luck. It's like dieting; it's not like you can give up food. The way the world is constructed today, you cannot live without technology i.e., the home computer, and what a blessing . . .

So, just why is blogging good for a mother's health? Because it connects you to the world. I remember being so isolated and alone. And speaking "kid-talk" for hours on end. I would drive my husband nuts when he dared to show his face in the kitchen after work. I would talk and talk and talk--I so craved another adult voice, or a simple adult conversation.

He wanted quiet.

But somehow we would both muddle through it. I would find a way to get my needs met, and he would just hang on hoping for the period that never came--only cascading commas, as I let loose all the "big words" I'd saved up for the end of the day, seemed to flow. John Gray calls women Venusians and men Martians, and explains this very phenomenon very well in his book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". (My husband loves that book so much that he gives it out for wedding presents--he has even given out the Spanish version)

So now what can women do about this? Sit down at your computer, click and therapy begins! You can talk with other women, read about other women's difficulties, thoughts, ideas, musings and experiences. And you don't have to leave the house (as if you could sometimes). I marvel at the candor you young women have. You are fearless, you are open, expressing your thoughts candidly through humor, love and yes, even courage. And because of that, the floodgates have been opened. We no longer have to judge "our insides by someone else's outsides". We are all inside now.

When I was a young mom, sadly, when our churches should have been knocking down these walls, they were fortifying them. Unintentionally, you were pitted against perfection, and perfect-seeming people. No one came forth to declare "hey, I did that once" or "my kid did that more times than I can count". No, we hid behind our "can do" personalities, and worked like the devil to appear saintly. I am so glad that times have changed. And if they haven't where you are--they will--or you will just have to go ahead and do it anyway.

There will be thousands of women online ready to cheer you on, to hear you, to teach you, to heal you and show you in many hundreds of tiny ways that you are not alone. We all make mistakes, but as one of my best friends once said, "they have have to do with our growth--not our worth."

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Daughter Turns the Big Three Oh

She was the most beautiful baby. It seemed to her Dad and I that she saw right through us. Also, her soul was somehow not as hidden like in most people--it was perceived and it was old. Old and wise. She has grown into a wise old Pacha Mama now, but not too old to laugh, be adventurous, to create, to explore, to learn, to wonder, to teach, to love, to nurture and well, this list is endless. She is the daughter of dreams born in the heart of a young girl imagining the future and how blessed she would be to someday have a little girl. A little girl that would be named Jennifer, the perfect companion to the little boy that came before.

Feliz CumpleaƱos, mija.
Con mucho cariƱo y mucho amor,
Tu Mama

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama--My President

I can't remember when I have been more excited, more hopeful, more confident in our future as Americans as I have been since the world realized that for the next four years, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States of America. I can't count the times I was moved to tears as Obama gave his acceptance speech--and I was equally moved by the final words of John McCain. In fact, I felt that it was McCain's finest hour, and one of the greatest speeches of this election time. He was all McCain, and he went out the true statesman that he is.

This election year, I wasn't concerned about making history. . ."the first Black man, the first female vice-president". I was more interested in getting the best person for the job. Gender and color shouldn't matter--and I think that the world is getting closer and closer to that ideal. The best person for the job was elected--and he happens to be black. I'll tell my Grandson Campbell about this night--and how important it was, but somehow, maybe the world will be so much better, that he won't understand how Americans had to fight and sacrifice to get to a place that future generations will probably take for granted. Hopefully none of the lines that separate us from each other, will be there when Campbell, and yes, Turner too, grow to manhood.

Our family gathered for prayer after the announcement that we had a new president. Terry gave the most beautiful, heartfelt prayer--asking for a blessing on our new President, his cabinet and this nation as well. It just felt right.

God bless America and President Obama, his wife and children.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Honor of My Dad

Dear Pops,
I can't believe that it's been two years since we lost you. And yes, sometimes, we have literally been lost without you. You can't believe all the things that have happened since we last saw you: three new great-grandsons, a new Missionary (Dad loved Missionaries, especially his grandson's), grandchildren earning their higher education degrees, and a new Democratic President, who happens to be African-American! There have new jobs for some of us, new church callings, and some of us have even retired, un-retired and retired. Some of us moved into different homes, remarried and had significant medical problems. Some of us have gotten skinnier, and some chubbier. Some of us are fighting battles that may be too difficult to win. But, all in all, Dad, I think that you would be proud of us and all that we've accomplished. There might be "Atta Kids" all around.
We love and Miss you . . .and we will "never give up".

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cheryl & Ryan: The Bouquet

"Okay," I said "Your colors are blue and brown, so what kind of flowers would you like? Can you give me an idea?

"Yes" she said "I want Ivory roses, feathers and birds."



"And birds?"

"Yes, feathers and birds--and roses"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Love and Leg Hair

This morning I got a chance to reflect on my life as a woman who has had to shave her legs for over 43 years. I can't believe that there was a day that I actually looked forward to this lifelong drudgery. Thank heavens, the look after is worth all the trouble. The first pair of nylons that covered my brand-new shaved-for-the-first-time legs were some nylons that my dad found in a barrel at the hardware store where he was buying plumbing supplies. They were such a bargain (there was an entire barrel full to the brim) that he bought several pairs and brought them home for me.

I was dumbstruck.

You see, the reason for the "big sale" was because they had this funny "seam" running right down the back of them.
Never mind it was the 60's and seam nylons went out with WWII. . . and to top it all off, my first occasion to wear my first pair of nylons, with my just-shaved-for-the-first-time legs, was to my great-grandfather's funeral. It was hard enough that you had to put on a polyester"harness" around your hips, where some cotton straps and dangley metals things, clung to your nylons (they only went up mid-thigh) so they wouldn't fall down. Oh, and when that "special time" came around once a month--you had another "harness" that, well, we'll save that for another story.

Everyone at the funeral remarked how much I must have loved my Grandfather (which I did) so much, because I stood by his casket all evening. The real reason was that next to the casket was the only wall which I could stand in front of, hiding the hideous seams behind me that etched up my leg on the back. Yes, I actually "backed" into the room, and I "backed" out of the room. And Dad was very proud that he'd bought me something so special . . .

Fast-forward to the greatest invention of all time--knee socks! Trouser socks! Wonderful contraptions to hide the fact that you didn't have time, one too many times, to shave. Winter can be a boon to too tired hands, and worn-out blades! Just cover it up with a dark sock. . .

Jacey is studying Cosmetology. She did her last semester in aesthetics. In other words--she learned to wax. And she waxes everything. Her brothers, and yes, even her Dad, get regular "nose hair" waxing--and they all swear by them that they actually breathe better. She said, "Mom, grow out your leg hair and I will wax your legs" Okay, that sounds interesting, I'll try it--I really like smooth legs. Well, Jacey has the social calendar of a national leader, and she was getting married to boot. She kept postponing my waxing. You know when I gave up waiting for my wax job? When one morning as I was walking down the stairs, I felt the "wind blow" on my legs. They were actually "blowing in the wind" as I walked! Disgusting. I shaved that day.

Now, with no, or very little estrogen coursing through my body, my leg ha
ir is noticeably softer and less noticeable. Maybe I will become like my mom who never had to shave in her golden years. But I am not there yet.

Today, as I was shaving my legs, my little four-year-old granddaughter, Audrey, stood by me watching. "Nana, why are you cutting that grass?" I fell on the floor.

"Gwamma, what makes the grass grow there?" Fall on the floor again.

I don't know. I just know that today--it was a lot more fun to shave!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Me, Tamra & Paisley's Planet

Tami and I have been working on Tami's dream--her "Gap" year. Tami is my cousin, on my mother's side, and we have been working on her idea of creating a children's book called "Paisley's Planet". Tami will be traveling the world, visiting with children, writing her book and enjoying her life as an independent observer of life, enjoying all this world has to offer. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

It will not come without sacrifice. She has sold or stored most all of her "earthly possessions" while her greatest blessings in life, her children, will be in constant contact with her through the gift of technology. Apartment--gone, car--soon to be gone.

Until she makes this big leap in her life, she will be working on business plans, Paisley's blog, travel arrangements, translators and housing. Many have offered her a home in some wild places . . .but she will always be here, with us her family, in the home that we call our heart.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"The Baby" is Getting Married

Life is pretty much a whirlwind of activity these days as we prepare for the wedding of "our baby". "The baby" is almost 22, has chosen a really good man, and is halfway through her college education. She is getting married in the right place, and it feels like the right time, and with a man that feels right for her.

It seems only yesterday that I saw her name "Jacey", written on a piece of surgical tape, taped at the foot of a NBIC crib for all the world to see. I still have that piece of tape. It meant the world to me at the time because it signified her importance--she wasn't just a little bit 'o nothin', tiny as she was, she was a force to be reckoned with. She had a name. That meant that the doctors had to do everything they could to not only save her life, but make that life as normal, physically, as possible. They did. With the exception of a little problem that most of her friends, and all of her family can attest too--Jacey fluffs. Often and loud.

She has a tender heart, the tenacity of a lion mixed with the compassion of angels. She is loyal and kind, and though sometimes--because she is so young--she takes her time getting to the right place--she always gets there. Always, she is quick to recognize her errors, slow in correcting them (she tortures those she loves) and then quick to make it better. Don't you just love this about her?

Jacey has tried her whole life to do the right thing. She has survived. She has loved--but most of all she has forgiven.

I wouldn't have missed one moment with this child--it has all been worth it. She is precious to me. She is my little girl. . . and she has grown to be such a beautiful, talented, and loving young woman. I must have done something good . . .for God gave her to me to raise. . .

What I Wish My Estrogen Would Do . . .

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