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!

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