Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Resolutions

I've never really done New Years Resolutions before. I think often it is because I already have other goals going on, and so I don't really want to interrupt and deal with new goals with the New Year, and it seems a bit contrived or something. And last year I did start my 101 goals in 1001 days, but upon reflection, I think it was a massive undertaking, and while I have done a lot of the goals there, and may give them some thought, there are too many to give any meaningful direction to my life. Well...now I actually want to go back and look at that list, and see what I really think about it. *Does so*

Hm...well, maybe I will not ditch that. It's a good list to have. I've actually done a lot on there. Yeah, I'll keep it. It still has a longer duration too. They are good goals.

There are a little less than 10.5 hours left for me in this year (Aussies get the new year early, and this time I get to partake!), so here are my resolutions for 2011.

1 - Love more people, and love people more

2 - Find 5 ancestors and get their temple work done

3 - Spend 15 minutes outside each day

4 - Finish writing a story (to a polished state)

5 - Take a picture of all the food I eat

Goal 5 I expect to be imperfect. I will not actually get a picture of everything I eat, but I will accept that, and just try to do my best.

Goal 3 I expect could be the same way, though I don't see why I shouldn't be able to do it, if I am thinking about it.

Goal 1 I put in because I wanted to reach for something that is not mechanical, that is not just checking something off my list. It is more to give me focus to my year, to focus on loving more people, and to love more the people I already love. What a beautiful thing it is to be loved, and to love. I want a goal that at the end of the year, I could have achieved, but still be ready to make the same goal next year. I want to change, not just accomplish. So that is the purpose of this goal that is not really quantifiable. It is perhaps the most important goal on the list.

I will probably check in from time to time this year to see how I am doing on various goals. That is, after all, the beauty of posting it on my blog, that I have more accountability!

So a toast to the new year, and all the possibilities it brings with it!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We are all Strangers, We are all Friends

People are not super friendly here. I've talked to a friend from Adelaide, and I think it may be more because this is a big city than being Australia, because it seemed the same way in New York too. I guess when you get so many people together, it just begins to get unmanageable to try and smile or say hello, or acknowledge most people you see, and so you end up just ignoring them.

But, I still believe in friendliness, and a good smile, so I try to smile or say hi as I walk by people, even though most people avoid eye contact.

So today, I was walking home from grocery store, just through the neighborhood where I walk the most, the well-worn path I walk, and I am looking at the people I am passing, seeing who to say hi to or smile at or whatever, and I smile at an Indian-looking man, and he says to me, "Did I see you the other day? Do you live around here?"

So I told him yes that I am staying around here, and I probably did see him the other day. We talked for a second about how people here don't usually say hi or smile, and then we grabbed sodas and talked for a little while.

He just barely moved to Sydney, and sounds like he doesn't really know many people, and he didn't want to talk about family in Australia, because it sounded like it was a hard subject.

It made me think of the other day, when I was walking along, and this lady actually did smile back at me, and it made my day. It was kind of a hard day. I'd always heard people talk about how a smile could make someone's day, and I always thought it was a bit trite, and like, yeah maybe it can be nice, but it's not -that- big of a deal, but then seeing that lady smile at me, I just understood what a smile could do.

And then talking to this guy, it sounds like I got to be that for him another day. Funny how we can affect people without even really knowing it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thanks Guys

I feel like...so glad that I asked for help, and just to be amazed by the outpouring of love by all of you. When the comments first started coming in, I just cried and cried, and it was so healing. I only in rare circumstances reached out for help while I was married, and I think that is also partially why it was such a dark time, because I went through it alone. Looking back I'm kind of like, "Oh that wasn't a big deal, I probably didn't need to make a big fuss about it," but then I think, it probably wasn't a big deal, because I had so much support and love to outweigh something that left on its own could have grown to something significant, even though it did not justify it.

But I just wanted to say thank you. You all are amazing.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Need your help guys

*you can go to the very end and that will tell you what I'm asking for help with, if you don't feel like reading the whole thing...it's long

Imagine for a moment that you are just married, and you have attempted to have sex, but find that you are unable to, that your body is stopping you from doing so. Imagine after two more weeks of efforts, finding that you are still unable to. Imagine the inadequacy you feel, the pain and questioning if you are a real woman, when you can not do this. Imagine again having a bit of discomfort with your husband, and a silence that lasts a week. He sleeps in your second bedroom, and the only interaction you have is opening the door to bring him a pan of food, because you are worried that he will starve. You eventually break the silence, and talking at least resumes, but the problem still lays unresolved. Imagine the unhappiness and depression you feel, at the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of everything in the house. Every pan, every plate, every fork, every piece of trash is picked up by you, taken to the sink and washed...or not all of them are. Imagine dropping a bowl of nacho cheese on the floor, your husband reacting with stress, and it being too much for you to take, and so you don't feel able to clean it up, so it stays on the floor for months. Imagine having a moment of revelation, when you realize that part of what makes things so difficult for you is that your husband does not express appreciation for any of the things you do for him. Then imagine talking to him, and him saying that he does not know how to appreciate. Imagine feeling stopped in your tracks, and feeling like you will never be appreciated. But then you think that perhaps you can teach him what appreciation is, and he denies all your efforts to teach him, saying that these are just surface actions, and that they don't really get at what appreciation is. Imagine then again finding out that your husband does not trust you. You try to feel consoled that he does not trust anyone, but it still eats at your self worth, and makes you feel like he does not see you as deserving to be trusted. Imagine the anxious feeling you have watching your husband be naked very often, when he has made covenants. Imagine trying to start things like scripture study, and prayer together, and it feels like all the efforts are on your part, and then your husband tells you that he cannot really feel the spirit when you do things together. Imagine giving your husband massages every day, but never once hearing a sound of pleasure from his mouth, a word of thanks, anything to know it is appreciated, except that he accepts the offer for one the next day. Imagine wanting your husband to be by your side in everything you do, but after a few months, you realize you will never see your family, and you will never get out of the house if that is how you want things to be. Imagine constantly worrying about being sick, about falling into the chasm that you see your husband in, because you don't have time around healthy people.Imagine having your husband speak words of degradation about friends who want to be married and have kids, and find that as a meaningful purpose in life. Imagine every piece of trash, every trip from the house to the trash can, every piece of laundry, ever dish, ever speck of dirt, every thing gotten out being your responsibility to clean up. Imagine it all just getting to you so much that your kitchen just has a small walkway to walk through, and you are so overcome by it. Imagine your husband being stressed that your mom is coming to help you clean the house, thinking that he might be expected to help clean things up, and you consoling him that he does not have to do anything, that that is why your mom is coming. Imagine your husband never being able to go out and do things, but then when a new video game system comes out, he is able to go out and camp out over night, to stay out for long hours. Imagine the joy of your moment, getting to be out with your husband doing something fun, and it is pretty much the first time it has happened in your marriage. Imagine waiting and looking forward to the next time a video game system will come out, because you want your life to be like that one day.

Imagine your husband always wanting to be in a different room from you. When you try to sleep in the same room, he goes to a different room, and you end up switching rooms. Imagine the rejection you feel. Imagine your husband not working, though he said that he would support you, that he would work. Imagine waiting and waiting for months, bringing up the subject a few times, but nothing ever happening.Imagine watching your savings decrease. Imagine finally thinking it has gone on too long, and deciding to get your own job. Imagineworking, and how getting away every day makes you feel better, and helps you get out of your depressive funk. Imagine finding joy in cooking, in making things, in washing tons of dishes all at once, in canning apple sauce and juice, and tomatoes. Imagine the happiness that comes into your life, but that your husband does not share it. Imagine feeling that to have an amount of sanity, you have to somewhat ignore your husband, or you will be drawn into his depressive state, and your house and life will fall into disrepair. Imagine taking singing classes, and loving so much to sing, but every time you sing at home, your husband complains or makes fun of you for doing so. Imaginethe stress of finding out that you have to move at two weeks notice. Imagine your husband being stressed and stopping working over it, to never really work again in your marriage. Imagine feeling the burden of moving all of your things on your own. You break down. You call your mom to read you a story, and it calms you. Your dad comes over and reads to you, and your family helps you move things, even if it is not at all a desirable situation for them. You feel so stressed, you just feel like you need your family to help you. You are desperate.

You move into a new place with two bedrooms. You and your husband have not slept in the same bed for a very long time, so you take separate bedrooms. This becomes the happiest you have ever been in your marriage. You love your own bedroom, sewing, reading, writing, waking up with the sun. You are a short walk from your sister's house and able to go over there often. You try to set up your husband with things so he can take care of himself in his bedroom, food and the things he would need to cook it, a microwave and hot plate, cans of food and boxes of the food that he likes to eat, but you have long since tired of cooking. Imagine going in there to read scriptures together. You have decided to try that again. He seems distracted, and pained by the interaction. Imagine coming to tell him exciting things in your life, and to come away feeling like you wasted the happiness you had, because he did not share in it. Imagine people asking you about your husband, and you not really having anything to say about him. There is nothing really going on in his life. Imagine writing, and wanting your husband to read it, but him not doing so. Imagine finding at his house letters that you wrote to him, long long letters, that lie unopened.

Imagine three years of marriage, and only one word of thanks ever uttered. Imagine asking him to help fix your computer, the one thing you know he can do, and him not doing it, even though you know if it was his own, he would spend hours straight to find the problem and fix it.Imagine so many tears shed, sobbing that you know is heard, but no comfort comes, that you remember two times when he came to hold you when you were crying. Imagine the most unimaginable loneliness you have ever felt, and you finding it ironic that you found it in marriage. Imagine the longing for priesthood blessings, and the denial of those, the refusal to give them, when it is the one thing that he will do for you. You still ask, and they are wonderful when he gives them.

Imagine your husband telling you that you have no purpose in life, degrading the job you took to support your family. Imagine him leaving the church, but you have hope, because for once he is being somewhat nice, and he admits that he had been being a dick to you before, and he wonders why you would have wanted a committed relationship with him. Imagine going out with him, and feeling a bit of that feeling you felt when you went to get the Wii, to come home and have him tell you that he was miserable the whole time, and he is upset that you didn't notice it, even though he seemed to be alert and invigorated while you were out. Imagine him telling you that he doesn't want you to initiate any interaction, so you stop even trying to initiate conversations. He talks to you a couple times, and you joke together and laugh, but then after the first two weeks, he turns to silence, and nothing happens between you. Imagine the desperation and loneliness you feel.Imagine how you feel like you can't talk to anyone about it, because they don't know him well enough, or because they are your sister, and he has asked you to not really talk to her about him. Imagine finally breaking the ice to talk to him, to ask him if you both want the same thing, to be in a happy relationship, and he says that you are not on the same page. Imagine him saying in that conversation that he will leave by Wednesday. You leave at that and cry, then go to your dad, and sob as he holds you. He then starts talking to you about the process of divorce, and you feel so strongly that this is not the point you are at. You feel like you have not reached this place yet. You return home to your husband, laying on the floor, and try to hold him, cry to him, and plead to him, tell him that he should not go. He tells you soon that if anyone is going to change, it will have to be you. He says that your sister understands him better than you do. You think to become more like him, to think the way he thinks. You try it. You try to intuit your way into the way he thinks, that you may understand it. He discourages you from trying even so. You try everything you can think of. Imagine feeling a lack of control in your life, feeling unhappy and confused. Imagine desiring to give up your life, to embrace hedonism, wanting to go off and have sex with someone else. Imagine how that makes you feel about yourself, and the steps you go to to correct such feelings, to overcome them. Imagine telling your husband after such things have been overcome, and he says that for the first time in your marriage, you have said something that surprises him. You did not even expect it to hurt him, because you have never seen him hurt, and it does not seem possible. It seems apparent that you have hurt him, though, for he soon after ends it.

Imagine asking him about going to San Antonio in a month, and him telling you that he does not think he will be around then. Imagine him asking for more time, and him saying that your time started 6 months before, and that you were over time, though no conversation had been had before to indicate that such a trial was ongoing. Imagine the hope you feel for him, that when he is gone from you, he may actually find happiness, because that is what he seems to think, even though you think it is a vain hope. Imagine then his parents calling you and telling you they are leaving to come and see you, that they are leaving right then. Imagine the stress you feel. You plead with him to call them. He does, and gets a plane ticket to leave Christmas day. You ask him if he plans on coming back. He says he does, then he will leave. You talk to him in January, continually asking him for updates on when he might be back. You want to move on with your life. You mourn the loss of the life you thought you had. You worry about always being willing to go back to him, because he has a potential that is palpable, and that you imagine is greater than anything you will ever find elsewhere. Imagine the surprise, then joy you feel at the happiness that comes in your life with him gone. Imagine the feeling that you are yourself again, and how you understand that, as people tell you "I feel like I have Jennie back again." Imagine as person after person after person says that they thought before that he was not a partner to you, not a husband, a jerk, that he just took and took, and never gave anything. You feel defensive of him at first, but with time come to see that their assessment is pretty true.

Imagine speaking to him again, just to sort out something, and him trying to blame you, to make you feel guilty for the things that happened, that it was because you did not understand him that things ended, that it was because of things you did. You feel yourself being drawn back in, being brought down by his words, being manipulated and controlled once again, and you have been free of it for a month, so you know you do not want to go back there. You talk to your sister, and she gives you the courage to make the decision to cut off all contact with him. You begin to question more what went on in your marriage, if you were manipulated and controlled, because you had never thought so at the time, but that reaction made you feel like you probably were. You have no idea how to point to it, but read about emotional abuse, and feel like the symptoms are there, even if you cannot nail down the actions. You feel free, and grateful for every day, for the simple joys of life, the feeling of air in your lungs, the smell of flowers, the smile of a child.

**I wrote this a couple months ago as an email to my sister, and then included my parents in on it. Read something I wrote a couple years ago today, something he said to me, and it is reverberating in my head. His words are insidious, and when I think I am free forever of his control, they come upon me from nowhere, and I feel bound again. Well this time I don't plan on fighting it alone. So I need you guys. I need you who read my blog, just to remind me that I am me, and I am in charge of my life, that I have control, and that I am not crazy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I've felt like a mother for 2 years. It was about 2 years 2 months ago that I first became acquainted with Mark, and then less than a month later that I began to feel, by some miracle, the love of a mother for this boy. It was weird at first, until I realized what it was. I knew I loved and cared about him a lot, and described it as "a mother lioness protecting her young" or "a mother hen protecting her flock."

But having a son halfway around the world who you have never met, never hugged, never seen the precious beauty of with your own eyes, it is not the same. It always felt real to me before, but having met him now, it feels really real.

I was worried in LA about missing my connection, because my first flight was delayed, but it ended up that the Sydney flight was 2 gates away from my incoming flight, so that was a great relief for me as I walked off that plane. Then the 15 hour flight was actually not that bad. I slept maybe 6-8 hours, rested more than that, watched a show, journaled, studied scriptures, and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise out my window. I had brought Mockingjay to read, but found that I did not think I would have enough time to finish it, so didn't even really read it at all. Perhaps on the flight home. But anyway, then I got off the plane, through immigration, the conveyor belt was broken, so there was a delay getting my bag, but as soon I saw my bag, I took it and ran to customs. Got through customs quickly, and quickly walked down the ramp, scanning the crowd, looking for him. I didn't see him anywhere, and then I saw him, and I doubled speed, weaving through people, and turning a corner to see him. And then I was there, and he was there, and I just got to hug him.

I have wanted so many times to do that. Just out of happiness, or wanting to comfort him when all sorts of bad stuff is going on, and I finally got to. But then just like, as the day wore on, I just felt like...well, we were walking around the neighborhood with the lady who owns the apartment I am staying in, and we were going across a crosswalk, and there was a car coming towards us, Mark first, and I was just like, instantly in my mind alert, and if the car had not slowed down, I would have done something. There is no way I was going to let anything happen to him. And I would throw myself in front of a bus to stop something from happening to him. And like, that's stuff I kind of had an inkling for before, like I felt that general protectiveness of him, but it's so real, when I am right here.

He is beautiful, and he is my baby. I love him so much.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In the Air

So for some reason I decided to use the free Wi-fi this time on my flight, and of course what to do but update my blog!

So it seems like I will be able to see Mark every day while I am in Australia, and pretty much all day, so that is awesome! :D

I am on my flight from Salt Lake to Los Angeles at the moment, and don't want to sleep on this flight. Want to save that for the flight to Australia...because let's be serious, I am going to need as much time-sucking as I can get on that flight. But towards the end, I will probably just get giddy and just want to bounce in my seat.

I kept jumping up and down various points through the past two days, partially when I was waiting in the line for security. I'm just so excited.

This is probably the most planning I have ever done for a trip. I started an actual packing list like 3 months ago, and started packing a whole nine days before departure (this is a departure from my usual pack in the last 20-30 minutes before leaving the house. It usually works well though). Of course I've been looking forward to this trip for two years.

One day I will have to write out me and Mark's story, and how we came to be bonded as mother/son. But that time has not yet come. He's an amazing kid, though, and I can't wait to meet him.

I feel so blessed, to have this all work out, that I am going to get to see him so much, and just that I know him at all. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but they are beautiful.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

8 days

Eight days. I leave for Australia in eight days. The reason I planned this trip was to go and meet this boy I love like my own son. I've been planning to go there for a couple years, but planning to come at this time since maybe March or April. He moved out of his parents house and in with his girlfriend at the time and her parents, then some bouncing back and forth when they broke up. Then he needed to find a place on his own, and she felt bad for him, so they found a place together, and lived together again, while remaining broke up.

And now she has accused him of attempted murder and assault. At first I believed her. But the more I talked to her, the more her story didn't add up, and then after he was arrested and released back to the custody of his parents, I got to talk to Mark, and hear his side of the story, and then I really didn't believe her, because he did admit to striking her, though not in any sort of forceful way.

I've known about this for a couple weeks, and just kind of been holding on, trying to hope, praying, and it seeming like the evidence is so crap that the case will not go anywhere. And it's been up and down, back and forth about whether I will even get to see him at all while I am there. It seems probable right now, but no certainty.

And so today I decided to start packing, and as I am packing, I realize I have no idea where my passport is. I cannot find it. I look all around. I find my -old- invalid passport, but cannot find my passport. Then I find it, and I am still sad. It finally all comes to a head. And I just start sobbing. I am sad that someone would do something like this to my son. I feel so helpless being able to do nothing for him. I want to save him from all pain and suffering, and here he is with so much heaped upon him. And I just think over and over, Why? Why is this happening? Why would she do this to him? Why? Why? Why? Why would someone be like that? Why would someone want to destroy someone else's life like that?

Before this all happened, people would ask me what I was going to do in Australia, and wonder if I was going to see much. Since my main plan was to cook and sing and play games with Mark, I did not figure I would get out to see much, so I'd say no. And they would seem a little confused. I leave in eight days, and I don't know what I am doing while I am there. I don't know if I will get to meet this boy who has touched my life, and changed me, and blessed me with the title of mom. But I do know one thing: that even if I don't, the trip was worth it. It is worth the chance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

There is something beautiful and special about a world blanketed in snow. It may move the colorful world to a world of seeming black and white, but it has it's own kind of majestic beauty as well. Though it is cold, it seems quiet and peaceful, the sun rise, seen in the south, not yet over the tall eastern mountains, and I can still hear birdsong.

I want to bask in it, to soak it in and let it fill me, to let it overcome the turmoil and worry I have been experiencing. It seems in the most basic way to be the earth heeding the call of the Lord to "Peace, be still", and makes me want to do the same.

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The master of ocean and earth and skies
They all shall sweetly obey thy will
Peace, be still, peace, be still
They all shall sweetly obey thy will
Peace, peace, be still

Today, I trust in the Lord. That all things will be done according to his will, and that will be best for me, and for those I love, that the trials will bring experience and be for our good, and that it all works into his glorious plan.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who am I?

I have been thinking about the lack of depth to characters I write. Like I have been considering this story in my head for a couple weeks, and the characters are a bit of a blur. They don't stand out to me - it is the actions and the circumstances that interest me (I suppose that is a good thing, at least). Then I started to think about how I view people, in this sort of mish-mash way of the things they do and their circumstances in life. And those things can be interesting, but that is not what makes people human.

In my 50 pages of story that I was writing before, there was crying on almost every other page. It's because that is how I experience, exult, and joy in sadness. To me, sadness is beautifully experienced by crying. But people experience sadness a variety of ways.

I guess I think it is important that I understand what my traits are, who I am as a character in the story of my own life, so I can see when I am falling into the pattern of seeing everyone as I see myself. I want to love these people, love them for their weaknesses, and their strengths that can inspire me, and I think that begins with the journey of understanding myself, and taking time to see people around me in a different way.

I like to relate people to me. I think it tends to make me pretty empathetic, with a few exceptions, but I try to consider myself in the situations others are in, doing the things they are doing, and following the thoughts and feelings that would lead them to be that way, and I see myself in people, and I see them in me. I see how I could potentially react that way, how I would feel if I was going through that.

But I want to see how they are not me. I do this most often with my parents, because it is a relationship that is most surrounded by a natural inequality, difference, separation of understanding. I think I will be surprised and inspired by what I see. People are amazing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sacrament Hymns

I have been studying the atonement for my scripture study for the last little while, and this week I've felt like I should be singing hymns about the atonement each day to enhance my study. So as I have been singing these songs, I have noticed a pattern, one that I had never really realized before, because not often do you sing songs about the atonement (ie mostly the typical sacrament hymns) all together. You usually get one a week, and there is a lot else to focus on, like the importance of the coming ordinance, a time to reflect on the past week, and lots of other worthy things, so analysis of the hymns is not usually something that occupies my mind during that time.

As I have been singing these songs one after another, though, I have begun to realize something. It came, because I was thinking, "Man this is some dreary music for some really hopeful words," as I was singing something, which I don't remember which hymn it was. But then I thought, well of course it makes sense, sacramental music should be penitent, and a lot of it is repentant, but almost always, the last verse is these hopeful and beautiful words, full of promise and brightness, which I think I never noticed before, because it seemed to just fit with the rest, and get sung that way, and so I never noticed it.

But as I have been singing, I have felt the power of those verses, and they make me smile, and feel joyful, and as I sing them, they don't sound the same; they have that feel they should have, that matches the words, even though the music is the same. It's like I feel like I am finally singing it the right way.

So for all my LDS readers out there, next time you sing a sacrament song, try to find that beauty and hope and love in that last verse, and sing to match it, and find the true joy that comes from that, but more appropriately from the source of all hope and joy and love, which is Christ, through his atonement. Because that is what we sing about.


How glorious!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A quilt as a metaphor for life

I wish I had pictures to accompany this post, but they were just taken this morning, and I left New York, and did not bring pictures with me. I am sure I will get them within the next few days, but this is more about the process than anything else, so I guess the pictures don't matter so much.

This quilt I just finished has had so many pitfalls, and because I was making it for someone else, and not for myself, I had to overcome my inclination to give up. I made the center the first time, and then the back fabric bled, and so I had to scrap that one, buy new fabric, and do the whole thing again. Sewed the blocks all together, and it was super super huge, so had to take off a row of blocks, which i had to unpick them all, and then also re-sew part of the other blocks. And all of these things are obstacles that would have stopped me up, probably from ever finishing a project. I have so many unfinished projects, that I just got to a point where I was too frustrated, it seemed like it would never work, so I gave up.

It has been interesting seeing how the option of giving up being taken away has taught me that so much more is possible than I would have thought, and I can do a lot more than I once gave myself credit for.

But the real analogy that I have been thinking about is something that happened Friday night. My mom left to go work at the temple, and I was there with George (the quilting machine), quilting the quilt. The tension had some problems, and it being my first experience with George, I did not really know how to fix it, so I went along as best I could. I got the center piece finished, and started on the easy pieces, and was getting a decent amount done, feeling like I was closer to being on schedule. Then my mom came home, and started unpicking all of this work I had done, because there were these problems on the back.

I went to bed angry, and woke up deflated, to see almost all of my work taken out. It was not until today that I understood why. With the quilt finished, we took it to the quilt guild, and then we held it up, hanging over this bannister, so my mom could take pictures of it. Then my mom came over and took the side I was holding, and sent me over to see my quilt. It was stunning, absolutely beautiful. Then they turned it around, and I looked at the back, and it was gorgeous. This was a work of art, on both sides, through and through. This was perfection, insomuch as it was possible for this quilt.

My mom and I talked about Saturday morning, because she had spent a lot of time taking this work out, feeling like she had done me this great favor, and was wondering why I was not thanking her for it, and why I seemed to be in a bad mood. Once I told her how I felt about it, she understood a bit more.

But I think there is an important lesson I learned from this, and it was one I did not learn until I saw that quilt hanging in its final form. I wonder how many times Heavenly Father sends us a blessing, something to help us, to take us back from the point we were at, to re-try something, so that this time we can get it right. And we get upset and angry, and he probably feels a bit curious, as to why we are so upset, though he knows, but still must think we are being foolish, because it is for our good. Because he sees the finished masterpiece of our lives and self before we do. We get caught up in the details, in the worry of day to day living, and he is worried about bringing us to that level of perfection.

I think what looking at this project, seeing its beauty and perfection really taught me was that perfection comes through an imperfect process. So many times I have given up on things, because I have made a mistake, or I have messed something up, and it seems beyond repair, or not worth the effort. But the mistakes, the hitches, the problems, they are all just a part of the process. The inferior center flowers, and the thread that is in the trash lays by the wayside, but this quilt lays in its new home, hopefully wrapped up around its new owner, fulfilling the purpose of its creation.

I hope I can do that for my creator.

And thanks again mom.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tribute to Mothers

I was studying the scriptures the other day, and then had an idea of writing a post as a tribute to mothers. I didn't have my computer on me, so I just wrote a quick note that about doing a post on it, and saw the note today, and could not remember what I wanted to say. But as I've thought about it, some of it has come back to me.

The power of mothers is great. I was at a CASA (Court appointed special advocate) conference, and if you don't know what that is, it basically means that it was a conference that dealt a lot with how to help troubled children, especially children who come from homes where there is abuse and neglect going on.

I know a lot of mothers right now, mothers who choose to stay home with their children, instead of seeking other work. My comments are directed specifically at them, but apply across the board to good mothers and parents.

What you are doing does matter. Not just if you succeed either. You could have the most troubled child in this world, but your love and care, your persistence, it is making a difference, and it matters, even if it is not doing as much as you wish it could.

What other mothers are doing doesn't matter to make you a good mother. You are your own person, and have to do the best with the talents and blessings you have, not someone else.

Worry less, love more. You are beautiful, for being a mother. The change in your breasts, the stretch marks, the baby weight, they mark you as a mother. Wear them with pride, like your battle scars.

Your children listen to you, moreso when you don't think about it than when you want them to. Don't feel guilty about that. Feel proud. You say good things.

There are lots of kids in this world who did not get enough love at home, who are trying to go off and find it somewhere else. Your love is powerful. Your hugs, your kisses, your I love yous, your reading books, and laughing, and playing, making meals, and teaching. These things are powerful. These shape the lives of your children, and they protect them and keep them safe.

It matters. What you do it matters. Probably more than anything else. So keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Embracing Imperfection

I saw this post linked by somebody on facebook, and it drew me in, and it is a good post. I highly recommend it. And it left me with two desires, which kind of mingled with another desire I had, so this may kind of be a mishmash of stuff going on in this post.

The first thing I want to say is that you are beautiful. Every person who is reading this, you are beautiful. We are all imperfect. We may be far from what we think is ideal, but every single one of you has great beauty within you. I remember when I was younger thinking that I did not understand the word ugly, because I had never met a person who I would call ugly. I still haven't. The world is full of beautiful people, and I'm not talking about someone else, not that other person you see, I'm talking about you. And I don't mean you 20 years ago or 20 pounds ago, or whenever you look back on and think you looked your best then, I mean right now. You are truly beautiful.

On the flip side, I want to be real about me. I think I'm beautiful, in body and spirit, but that does not mean I am perfect.

I have often watched entire seasons of shows in the space of a day or less. This is my biggest coping mechanism when something is not going well for me, throw myself in a show and I don't have to think. Throwing myself in a book is a joy, a passtime, throwing myself in a show is an escape.

I have never been suicidal, but I have wanted to abandon my life at times, and embrace hedonism. That is my brand of self-destruction.

My house is never completely clean. The only kitchen that gets cleaned regularly is my kitchen, and I mess it up as soon as I clean it.

I am crippled by fear, in even what I think, and consider doing. I try to overcome it, but it is a huge weakness, fear of how people will react, fear of being rejected.

I made a goal to shower ever other day. I still don't shower that often.

I pick my nose and eat it. I have actually been thinking about doing a blog post on that.

I am a virgin.

I think one of the hardest things when I got divorced was wondering if someone would love me for all these things that Janardan hadn't. Would someone else accept them, and what would happen when I dated someone else, and I had to tell them the truth about me? Then they would want to go running to the hills.

But then I began to appreciate myself. I don't really know how or where it came, except that I know it came through the atonement, even though I asked for healing of so much less than what was given. I love myself now more than I ever have in my life, and all those things I used to tell myself, the things I used to worry about, they are still true. But I am better at embracing what is good about those things, in taking pride in them, or seeing them as a point of starting to work on improvement, or seeing them as not a big deal, and something to be worked on later.

And so I urge all of you - appreciate yourself. Love your imperfections as well as the perfections. Love your body for all it allows you to do, no matter what limitations it puts on you. Forgive others so you can forgive yourself. And forgive yourself. Move past the mistakes you have made, and work for a better future, but allow yourself to be imperfect, and to find joy who you are, in this moment, and in every moment.

I love you all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Lord's Tender Mercy

I have kind of been freaking out this week about money. I pretty much paid up front for the place I will be staying the entire month while I am in Australia, along with my new passport fee, and then about $1000 worth of stuff for my car ($850 in car repairs and $140 for registration). And I still have hanging over my head the purchase of my ticket, saving money for buying food and money for rent for January and February.

I was especially freaking out with the car stuff, trying to decide whether it was worth it to pay for the registration when I will really only be using it one month, etc. etc. All this going back and forth in my head.

And then the counsel from the Lord, to have faith, to just have faith. So I decided Thursday that I was just going to have faith, and when confronted with worry, instead of giving in, to couteract it with faith, faith that the Lord could provide for me, and that all would be well.

So I've also been having mad cravings for Guru's sweet potato french fries. Like for about a week, I would go through wanting them, thinking about buying them, remembering I have no spare money, and then just thinking about them again. So then the day I decided I was just going to have faith, I came home, and went to say hi to the fam next door, and they had just come home from Guru's, and had Guru's sweet potato fries leftover, and I got to eat some of their delicousness. It just felt like a little message from the Lord, that he was aware of me, and that if he could bring me these fries that I had just wanted, just had a small desire for, how much more he would watch over me in the things I prayed for, and desired so much more.

The Lord truly loves all of us, and I am so grateful for him, and how he blesses my life. And I am glad he is looking out for me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"That which is worth eating should be worth savoring"

I was talking to my friend a little while ago, and was telling her how I have not always loved food the way I do now. She was surprised, because I talk about food all the time, and it is something I love so much, and cherish about being alive.

I have always been a kind of picky eater. I don't know if on the spectrum of picky eaters that my pickiness is that much, but I would definitely say I am somewhat picky. I can't stand to eat a warm sandwich, do not much like peanut butter and jelly.

Ever since I have moved out of the house, I have enjoyed cooking, the act of creation, it is just something I am drawn to. Being married to Janardan, and his not appreciating or really eating anything that I made that did not come from a box just made me not want to cook for him, but I still liked to cook things for myself, but I still think I had a bit of guilt when I would make things for myself and not want to make whatever he would eat for him, even if I did try to avoid feeling it.

Then we lived in Texas, and that was a very weird food adventure, living in a vegetarian household. I've always eaten meat and enjoyed it. I liked this guy in high school who claimed to be a vegetarian (I don't think he actually was), and it made me consider being a vegetarian, and I didn't eat meat for about two weeks. The last day of my vegetarianism, I was fasting, and my purpose was to determine if I should be a vegetarian. The conclusion I came to was that I should not, based on a scripture in the D&C, and a line from my patriarchal blessing. It was a moment of anxiety for me, as my dad had made Sunday dinner, and was making chicken, so I knew I would have to either tell him I wanted to be vegetarian, or eat the chicken. I ended up eating the chicken salad, and it was delcious.

So being in Texas, just having something denied to me made it that much more difficult not to eat it. I did not eat a ton of meat before I moved to Texas, but just not being able to eat it, I went kind of crazy and craved it a lot. I bought beef jerky to put in my car, just as my safety net, so that if I ever just like had a craving too bad, I could go out and eat some. I don't think I ever did, but it made me feel better. I would order things with meat every time I went out to eat. My dad took me to my first Brazilian barbecue during that period of time, and it was the perfect time to indulge in so much meat.

When I got back from Texas, I still kept eating tons of meat, just like, wanted to get it in while I could, still feeling that scarcity mentality. I still have a bit of meat in my freezer that I bought during that period of time.

There are too many factors to list each individually, but I would say that there are three factors that have influenced me the most in my present relationship with food. The first was a lesson we had in Sunday School about the word of wisdom, and there are lots of beautiful words in there about enjoying fruits in the season thereof, and lots of things about in the seasons. It was then I realized that I had no concept of what things were in season, that I had no idea what the seasons of food were. I do not think I anticipated how much I would change by that, just asking that simple question, "What is in season?" And it is a question that has made me love food.

It is the step beyond just eating to live, and going to the point where you live to eat. It is that question that first took me to the farmers market in Provo last year, that took me to the Promenade in Pleasant Grove, where I met the farmer that I now get my CSA from (Community Supported Agriculture - it is kind of like getting a share of the harvest). It is that question that brought me excitedly to the first week of the farmers market this year, where I fell in love with asparagus. I had never liked it before when I had had it, but I was craving something fresh, something wonderful, and asparagus fit the bill. It is what brought me to try all sorts of things. It is what today brought me to be eating a pepper like an apple (actually that owes itself to my dabble into raw foodism too, which I found to be unrealistic, but helped me appreciate that some things can just be eaten wholly raw, and be quite good.)

The second factor is probably Pizzeria 712. There is a quote they have on their wall, on their website, and seems to be a bit of their motto, ""When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is." - Alice Waters. I have thought of that quote a lot, and the food I love to eat at Pizzeria 712, as I have cooked this summer. Perhaps my favorite meal that I have made this year...ok, there are too many, so many have been yummy, but one, I just threw together a bit of everything that I had at the time, and cooked it, and it was so delicious. It is because of that motto. The best and the tastiest are what is in season -right now-. You can make some great combinations. Man, I have eaten some delicious things this year.

The third factor has probably been Food Inc. Trying to eat locally (another factor influenced by my sister, but also by just knowing what is seasonal by what is grown around you) pushed me to want to eat meat that was at least grown in Utah, but watching Food Inc. made me care so much more what kind of meat it was that I buy. It makes things like chicken broth so much harder, but also so much better. I have 5 chickens in my freezer, and I will probably eat them at a rate of one per month, if not less often, so that I can spread it out until I am able to order another bunch. But it is not just the chicken that I cherish. I have the skins in my freezer right now, no idea what I am going to do with them, but I will figure out something to do with them sometime, but I cherish those bones so much, because they will make wonderful, delectable chicken broth.

One thing I have found in my food journey is that most things I think I do not like, I do not like because I simply have not had the best, or because I have not found a setting which I like it in yet. Like the day I had stuffed mushrooms changed me forever towards mushrooms. I now love them, in so so many ways. Right now I do not really care for turnips or radishes, but I will continue to try them in different settings, when offered by other people, in the search of the thing that will change me toward them, because I believe that every food out there can bring me a joy and satisfaction.

I love food, because it is a precious gift. It is a gift of labor, of life.

I have the quote that is the title here hanging up in my kitchen. It is not because I think it speaks of some quintessential part of me, that it just defines me, but as a reminder to me, that I enjoy life, I enjoy eating, I enjoy food better when I savor it. I work hard to keep food worth savoring all around me, by eating seasonal, by having the best milk, the best meat, the best cheese. Today I got to work, and wanted to eat something before I needed to start work to replenish myself a little from my bike ride, and so I was chomping down a fresh red pepper. Then I thought of that quote, and slowed down, and ate and chewed with appreciation. What a wonderful time of year, a wonderful season, to be the time when this pepper was picked at perfection, so that I could then be savoring it at that moment.

I hope my journey has just begun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Maybe I really am a Writer

I just recorded a recording of the part of a story I have been working on, and it took a half an hour to read it aloud. When I finished, and saw how much time had elapsed, I thought "Perhaps I really am a writer."

I have a lot of doubt in myself, especially with fiction. I have a certain concept of how such things come to be, and it does not fit my way of operating. I am not a person who will lock myself up in my room for a month at at time, and just write a book. It takes work every day, each small painstaking step. I get small bits of momentum, but it always takes effort.

I meet other people who write, and they just seem to have this internal drive, like they -must- write, and it seems like the stories just spill out of them. I feel like I can be like that at times, but it is more often than not, non-fiction, in the form of journaling or blogging, writing letters, or something like that.

But I keep going, making the small efforts day by day, doing my 20-30 minutes of writing time, sometimes daring to take that into fiction (I missed two days, when I was getting exhausted of writing...but I'm back and more dedicated), and today, I read a small part of that product, and it is going somewhere, and this world I have found, this place and these people I am writing about, I have hundreds of more stories to tell. So maybe I am beginning to find myself as a writer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Because I choose to

(Reposted from December)

The words of Neo in the final Matrix movie are somewhat immortal to me. They go with other timeless quotes such as "To thine own self be true". And they get at something that I think is at the heart of our very existence. The backdrop is Agent Smith fighting him, with mind as well as body. He has throughout the whole triology been telling Neo that "It is inevitable". And it culminates in this moment:

Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?
Neo: Because I choose to.

Because I choose to. These are the words that ring out and stand as a banner for everything we are and everything we can be. It is the admission that in everything we do there is, or at least at one time, there was a choice. We cannot control the world around us. We cannot stop the winds and the storms, we cannot stop the sun from rising, or force it to rise, but in ourselves, we are our masters. We choose what we do. This is the powerful gift, the divine gift of agency.

The whole point of the atonement is to give us the ability to raise from the ashes from our own bad decisions. It is to give us greater freedom to choose, and that one bad decision will not ruin our lives and destroy our ability to choose forever, but as we cling to that, that we may gain greater and greater freedom. If you look at any command the Lord has given, what appears to be a restriction upon closer inspection is a protection of that divine right to choose, a guide to help people stay away from those things that destroy agency, that impair choice.

It is not inevitable. Nothing is inevitable. We can choose, and we can repair our impairment to choose through the atonement. The consequences of our decisions are natural. Certain choices lead to certain consequences. The choice is the decision in the first place. We can choose anger and bitterness. We can choose strife. We can choose to love. We can choose to hate. Every moment of every day, we have a choice. Nothing is inevitable. We are who we are, we do what we do, because we choose to.

(Sometimes I need my own pep talk. Today, I found one for myself from myself)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I am getting rid of my trash can

I do this thing when my trash can in my kitchen gets super full, where I hang a plastic grocery bag from the handle of my sliding glass door, and put my trash in there, so I don't have to brave opening the big one, and can put off taking out the big trash. So I was thinking today about my trash can, and how I didn't want to take it out, but how I would probably take this small one hanging from my door out pretty soon. And then it just occurred to me. Why even have this big trash can at all? It is such a big bag, and things get so gross by the time it is filled that I -never- want to take it out. It would be oh so much simpler to just have this bag on my sliding glass door.

So I haven't talked that much about the ways I am embracing the process of minimalizing. But this is one way. Another way is getting rid of a lot of the boxes that I have. My ex always wanted to keep them around so we could use them when we moved? I don't really know why he wanted to keep them, but he wanted them, so we kept them. So as I was thinking about what to get rid of, these seemed like the natural place to begin.

I also donated my old gaming systems to DI. I am getting rid of a lot of my Christmas stuff that seems extraneous. I kept all my Christmas lights, though, because I love my Christmas lights! Getting rid of old pairs of shoes that I never wear, and a ton of clothes that I never wear, or only wear when I get desperate from not doing laundry for three weeks...ie if I didn't have them, I would for sure do my laundry, so that sounds like a better idea.

My first idea was the use fewer dishes, but I have not actually done anything with that yet. I want to gather all the dishes from all over the house, and my car...and wherever else they might be, before I pack them away, so I don't have to pack a whole ton away at once.

I am also getting rid of two duffel bags. I still have one super large one, and one week/weekend-sized one. I kept all of my camping stuff, though I probably could weed through some of that.

I went through my CDs, and got rid of most of the cases, and put them all on one of those spindly things. I also put the couple video games I have on there. I had my old laptop in my get rid of pile, but then decided I might want to see if I can revive some data from it. I'm selling a few things on ebay which will hopefully cover the cost of getting a separate battery charger, as what is dead about the computer is the power cord connection to the motherboard. Once I can get data off and wipe it, I will probably part with it, but there may be some pictures on there I really want. They may also be gone from the other time I wiped it. But I can at least get some old chat logs off of it, or find something of nostalgic worth that I have plenty of space for on my current laptop.

I still have a lot to go through, and lots of things to actually get rid of, instead of just being in the pile. I also have purgatory in my hallway, which is those things which I need to use in the next month or so or get rid of. They have to prove their usefulness. Not in the hallway, but also on that list is the massage table. I want to use it, so I should. I really want to give my aunt a massage. I got her phone number yesterday so I could call her sometime this week and figure out a time she might want to come down here so I can give her a massage. If I do that, then it is worth keeping. If I don't end up doing anything with it, it's not, and I should fix it and sell it.

I love the look of my closets, though. They are so empty. My dancing room has always been (since I made it so) one of my favorite rooms in the house. It is so freeing to be so empty. It is peaceful, it is fun. It has so much possibility. I look forward to having more of my house join that realm. And also for the feeling that I can manage everything I own, instead of it overwhelming me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Creation Before Creation

"For I, the Lord God, created all things of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth." - Moses 3:5

I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, how things are created in some manner before they are created, how important that process is to the process of creation, how it takes both parts.

If I were to apply this to art, or writing, or whatever I do, I think of it as, creating things mentally before I create them physically. Especially in writing, it is the thought, and the mental concept of things, long before I even sit down to write. The time I most often create writing in that form is in the first stirrings of the morning, just waking up, my eyes still closed, and I am carried to a world, consider a world and the people, maybe something I'm working on, maybe something I was just dreaming about. But that is most often where the creation begins. It also comes right before I go to sleep, in that dreamy state.

But it also applies outside the acts of creations of art or things like that, and goes to the things as mundane as doing my dishes, cleaning my house, showering, what to wear. If I intend to do it mentally, and go through the process mentally, thinking through the steps it will take, essentially doing the task mentally, then I am much more likely to do it, to be successful at it. Not that it takes a supreme amount of time. You can complete the entire process of a task mentally in about 5 seconds. So it's not really like, planning out my whole life, it's just intending things before I do them.

It is also seeing the problems and the hitches that might come, that need to be addressed now, so that some thing may be done in the future, if it is not to be done now. It is a good pattern to follow, and I find success as I attempt to create before I create.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reminding myself why I want to get rid of stuff

My house is in an oppressive state right now. It is funny, because my house is not usually overly neat, but there is always the solace of my empty dance room.

I began my journey of getting rid of stuff, figuring out what is important, and trying to get rid of the rest last night. Now my dance room is covered in stuff that I have to figure out how to get rid of. Part of me feels like it would be so much easier to just throw it back into my closets and forget it ever existed. The other problem here is probably that I am attacking two projects at once. I am canning food, and I was working all day yesterday also at preparing the 5-6 ingredients that need to be made from different things for these enchiladas I am eating today. So I have been doing lots of dishes, but they keep being piled up in the sink anyway, and I have been assessing what stuff I want to get rid of, taken two trips to DI, and my house still feels like a mess, and like it is covered in stuff.

I do love the view of my closet though. The one in my bedroom is practically empty except sewing supplies on my shelf. The one in my dancing room has my clothes, massage table, a few boxes of things, camping stuff, blankets, and cans of food. (I have not used the massage table in a while, but I hope to. My deal with myself is to give myself a certain date, and if I have not used it by then, then I will get rid of it.)

This is the sort of middle-math of my way of approaching problems, which is just to dive right in, without much plan, and just see where it goes. It will be nice when I push through, but now I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. There are boxes all over, and there are things where I don't know where to take them. Then I have my normal stuff kind of in disarray. If I cleaned my bedroom, I might feel better about the disarray of my dancing room. I could probably pick that up a little quickly. Yes, I think I will do that.

I'm just trying to think of moving right now, how if I don't get rid of this stuff now, I will have to move it whenever I end up moving. If I get rid of it now, I never have to deal with it again. It will also make doing my inventory easier.

But, it certainly does not make me want to buy new things. So I guess one thing has been successful. Just need to keep perspective. Things will be good. I will be headed where I want to be. This will all end up better than it was. The process is a bit daunting.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce Giveaway


So I am making spaghetti sauce tonight, and I ended up with a last batch that will be just three extras, and so I was like, hmm what should I do with these? Kind of weird, because this is less than I planned on making for the year anyway, but I think this is all the sauce I will do. I'm doing lots more tomatoes, and everything else should store well for the winter. Tomatoes are easier to do, more versatile, and everything else that goes into spaghetti sauce I can store over the winter (onions, garlic, spices).

But anyway, so the thinking of these as extras got me thinking, and I decided I want to do a giveaway of one of the bottles of spaghetti sauce.

So, here are the rules:

1 - You have to be in Utah. (This is a local challenge, shipping this stuff anywhere wouldn't really make a lot of sense.)
2 - Have one meal where you know where everything in the meal came from. (This can depend on how you want to do it, but the grocery store is not an answer. If you are eating something processed, you can do a lot of research and probably find out where the different ingredients are grown, but probably easier is just buying some fresh food from a stand near your home.) I'm gonna make an exception with grains, because they can be hard to track down, but consider that a bonus.
3 - Come back and comment on this post with what you ate, and where everything in the meal came from.
4 - Enter before September 9th. The winner will be chosen at random of the pool of people who meet the qualifications!

(For anyone out of Utah, feel free to join in and comment, join the discussion and sharing the story of meals, but just know you won't be in the running for the giveaway :P )

And to start off, I'll share my meal.


Pasta:
flour - Lehi roller mills, which I assume the flour comes from Utah farms
eggs - from a farmer at the farmers market
Sauce
tomatoes - from Chavez farms and Stratton farms
onions - local farmer here in Provo
garlic - sold by this local farmer, but grown by an associate in St. George
peppers - from Jacob's cove, came with my CSA
salt - real salt from the ancient Sundance sea, here in Utah
beef - grass-fed beef from Redmond farms
spices & pepper - don't know, though I do know where to get some locally

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Minimalism and Community

My sister and I went out on errands this evening, and we talked about a couple things that seemed worth talking about. I'll talk about the first, which is something I've been thinking about lately, just after coming across something on the internet, and just as I always think more about the simpler life of older times, and how I want that to shape my future.

I read this thing the other day about a minimalist challenge, which is to have only 100 personal items. I want to do something akin to the goal, but have not quite decided how I will bring it into play. I am sure I will document it when I actually go through the process, but for now it is just conceptual. I have aspirations when I marry again to buy a piece of land and with my husband build a home there. I figure what we will be able to build together will be modest, but nice. I've read about different methods that are easy to learn, and can be used easily to do most of the building, and the land is one of the most important things to me, because I want to be able to raise and process most of the food that I and my family eat.

But back to the challenge, so the idea is just to live with less stuff. I feel the appeal of this, and having my dance room, which is pretty much an empty room, which I do so many things in, and which my nieces find even more ways to have fun in, I enjoy the concept of empty space for creativity, and how less is more. I want to make it so that moving is less of a chore. I want to know what everything in my house is, and know that it is something I want to have. I actually was thinking toward this idea, but more abstractly, back when I created my list of 101 goals in 1001 days. One of my goals was to make an inventory of everything that there is in my house. I think it will be a lot easier to do once I get rid of a lot of my stuff.

And I know there are some things that I will not get rid of, but simply reorganize. Like I want to relegate most of my dishes to storage. I want to have more so that when I have guests I have dishes for them, but want to keep it to one plate, bowl, spoon, fork. Because then I will keep them washed. It will also make more room for my canned food in my kitchen, which is a logical place for it to be.

I am sure I will have a lot more to say about it once I actually begin the process. I wanted to tonight, but got busy socializing, which is always a nice distraction.

The second concept we discussed was independence, and the notion that things can be done on our own. As I began writing tonight, it made me think of my own writing. It is not my own. My non-fiction especially on this blog. I get ideas from so many places, so many people, from the things I read, from the people I talk to. It all comes from so many places. But even my fiction, it is inspired by so many other people, and as I have said, the characters that are just like me are the ones that bore me most (maybe that wasn't on this blog), and it's the one who seem like other people, real people that aren't me, that fascinate me, and that I love. And it is because they are the people around me.

There are so many people involved in our lives, and we are involved in so many other people's lives. I suppose this sentiment has been captured before in the phrase "no man is an island", but I think that is a negative spin on something that is beautiful.

We all depend and rely and affect each other. We are a vast community of people who are greater than the sum of our parts, because of what we do for each other, how we build each other up, how we spread knowledge, how we can lift and inspire and strengthen each other, and make each other better than we ever would be on our own.

I think of the simple act of committing to other people, to write 20-30 minutes a day, and just that system of support and strength, how it has helped me be more the person I want to be, to do the things I want to do. I am glad that I am so much more than just myself, but that all of it is me. I am glad that I can come to live my true potential, while keeping my own beautiful individuality, to be a part of community, and to be one. It is a beautiful thing to be an independent entity, but connected in a vast network that is humanity.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Every little bit counts

20-30 minutes doesn't sound like a lot. That is part of the reason I thought I could do this challenge. I don't really feel like I do very much each day. I've been working on my story, and it just goes on bit by bit, a page at a time. It seems like something I could have sat down and written all at one time. It is not overly complicated, and I pretty much knew where it was going for the most part. If I had a free day with nothing to do, I probably could have just sat down and wrote it.

But that is the beauty. I haven't had a free day. My day off my dad was here, and I was doing stuff with my family. Every other day I've been working. But the little steps add up, and my first story is coming together. But those little bits, piece by piece they are adding up, and I am coming to a later part in the story. I am no longer at the beginning. I know my characters better now, know this world a little better now, and things are happening. And all it has taken is just 20-30 minutes a day. Today I wrote more than that, but most of the other days, I have not written much more than that.

I look back with longing a lot of times on the days of early 2008 when I would wake up, and spend the day reading and writing. I would spend an hour in my different kinds of writing. It is when I wrote a few of the stories of people close to me. I had time, and I felt like I was just living the dream, and I was disciplined, and it was what I was doing with my life. Now I feel pulled in so many different directions, and feel like I barely get a moment to write. But I see it's adding up. It is working. I am moving forward.

Every little bit counts. In everything we do. Every little bit counts.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blogging

Gonna do another post inviting responses. I assume a lot of people who read this are into blogging themselves. So what got you into blogging? What do you like about it? What is your goal with it?

I am a person who is drawn to journaling. I'm usually keeping 3-4 different records that I write in periodically, with pen and paper, that have to do with my life. My first blog was a livejournal, because I had a couple friend who were doing them, and loved to keep up with them, and figured I could add it to my extensive journaling repertoire. Then Carolyn and a couple of my other friends were doing xangas, so I moved over there. Then it kind of died off. My sister got into blogging, and that's when I got on blogspot, which I guess I have liked since I have stayed on a long time, and spent the most time sprucing up my blogs, and also have about 15 open blogs (open as in, ones I have started or write on occasionally, as opposed to blogs that are open to the public!).

A friend mentioned my blog on her blog, saying that it is talking about improving myself. I guess I had never really thought about what it is, I just write when I feel like writing, about whatever I feel like writing about. But blogs do take on a character of their own. Like if you look at my xanga and livejournal, they are replete with references to boys, which I generally steer clear of in this blog, except for the briefest mention, because 1) I think a lot more people read this, and it is much much more public and 2) because I got out of the habit when I was married.

I started this blog and called it the Adventures of my life, because I wanted to view my life with more excitement, vigor, and passion. It is not so much that I do a lot differently, but that I like having a different perspective on it. And so that is a lot what I do with this blog, is to find, create, and share meaning that I find in my life. Which is really just one big grand adventure in itself.

But come one, come all, and share your own experience in coming into the blogging world, even if only just as a reader.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Barefoot Experiment

Maybe a month or so ago, I was sitting in my sister's living room, and just kinda listening as her and a friend talked. They somehow got on the topic of bare feet, and running, and these shoes that are kind of like bare feet, and all these other things. It sparked a curiosity in me, of what it would be like to walk with bare feet.

It kind of mixed in with this scene from... I think it is Fire of the Covenant, if not, it was one of the Work and the Glory, but pretty sure it is Fire of the Covenant. There is a part where they are preparing for their handcart journey, and they tell the parents to let their children go without shoes, so they can build up calluses, and strong feet, so they will be able to use their feet on their journey. I've thought about that from time to time throughout my life, how the skin on feet can be built up, and protect against the things that would come to hurt our feet.

So I decided I wanted to try it out. I've been trying to appreciate the senses that my body offers me, and figured paying attention to the sensation of touch would be another worthy pursuit. So I just made a loose goal to take a 15-minute walk each day in bare feet.

I do not have appreciation for grass. I think it is nice pretty much for when you want to play something that requires a field with low grass, otherwise I am more prone to appreciate more natural vegetation, with a greater mix and variety of things, and especially in a desert climate, with plants the require a lot less water. Lawns seem very pointless to me, and it seems like there is so much effort in maintaining them in our culture.

When I first started walking through the grass, paying attention to how it felt on my feet, though, I felt like - this is why we do it. This is what grass was created for. It feels wonderful on the feet.

I liked feeling the different textures, avoiding the rocks that would dig up high enough to cause pain to my less calloused areas. I went to my family reunion for 3-4 days, and did not wear shoes at all, and my feet felt great after that. I could walk across seemingly any surface without worrying about hurting my feet.

I went up to this activity for my ward the past couple days, and I went out yesterday to take a walk barefoot, and it was the smoothest pavement I had walked on. Felt wonderful.

I don't really know where this experiment will lead. I have read about hiking barefoot, and that is something I would like to try. Tall grass still scares me, because I would never want to step on a snake. But walking barefoot has given me an appreciation for my feet, and the wonderful textures of the ground around me.

It is a wonderful thing to have feet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Four Years Ago...

It is hard on a day like today to not take a walk down memory lane, and so I have.

Four years ago this day I was married to Janardan.

I hold myself accountable for a lot of what has happened in my life. I know his choices weren't my choices, but a fair few of my choices were incredibly dumb.

In retrospect, the decision to marry Janardan was a pretty rash one, a snap decision that once I made, I never questioned, never revisited, never analyzed against the evidence. It is also a decision I made before we even dated.

Our dating life was not incredibly better than our married life. There is a moment in our courtship that I have thought back on a lot the past while, the moment when Janardan told me he wasn't really ready for a relationship, and suggested that maybe we should break up, and I did not even consider it. If we broke up, we would get back together and get married. If we stayed together, we would get married. I had already decided, and I stubbornly clung to that decision, willfully oblivious to any event but that final event. The details didn't matter. I knew what was going to happen.

I will sometimes idly wonder why -someone- didn't say -something- to me in that time, and then remember how I was, and know exactly why they wouldn't have. There is nothing that anyone could have said, nothing that anyone could have done that would have changed my mind. I am stubborn. Stubborn beyond reason.

I made the decision one morning in May of 2005, as I went about my work at early morning custodial. It was probably around 6:30am when I decided unalterably the decision that I would marry him.

Every one of us is a wonderful son or daughter of God, with an amazing potential, a capacity to do a work beyond our greatest dreams. And I saw in him that potential. I saw in him a greater potential than I had ever seen in anyone, and I wanted it. I wanted the future that was possible with him. I wanted to partake in that greatness, in that life that would shape the world.

In retrospect it sounds like delusions of grandeur.

And I held that view, that possibility, until I finally saw a crack, a chink in the armor, when the potential began to seem impossible, and it was not until I came to terms with the fact that he was leaving me, and until I stopped talking to him that I began to fully understand that the reality of my world, the reality of his choices, my choices, had been leading nowhere near that potential, and that a grand potential for greatness was worse less than nothing when the choices being made were heading for pain, misery, and control.

I was reading through a conversation we had in December, where I was still intoxicated with that idea, where I said that I thought even if some other guy could make me happier, I would always want the potential with him, and I would go back to him at the drop of a hat.

I don't like to place blame. Yes, I think he was controlling and manipulative, but I think that I let him control and manipulate me.

I wondered all the years of our marriage why he had married me. Before we were married, I was so focused on my goal, so focused on being with this amazing guy, having this great potential in my future, and then as soon as we were married, I began to question why he had married me. He never really answered me. I still don't know why he married me.

But to my self in December, I say, You're wrong. There's no way I'm going back there, not no way, not no how (...trying to think what movie that is from, can't remember! Ah, google reveals it's the wizard of Oz). Because I have my own potential, and I don't plan to put it with someone who is wasting his away. In the vein of the parable of the talents, I would rather be with someone with only one talent, but who is using it for good, than someone who has ten talents, but is burying them (I know the parable goes the other way, but it works better for my metaphor this way).

I have always been someone who thinks a lot about the future. Still do. Think about what the future will bring, plan for the future, anticipate the wonders of the future, and find happiness in the happiness that there will be in the future. It was this taken to misguided levels which led me to be so blind to my life and the problems I was facing, to the tremulous issues in my marriage, and even the relationship before the marriage, because I had this hope for the future.

But eternity is not a bunch of tomorrows. Eternity is today. All we get is today, every day, forever.

I find the biggest impediment to me making the use of my own potential is my own belief in myself. I really am my own worst enemy. Today, I want to be my friend.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What pieces of writing have change your life?

I think there is a lot of subconscious affect on us from all the media we take in. But there are those moments when we know that the thing we have just read has unalterably changed us forever. So what sentences, paragraphs, articles, books have changed your life? And how have they changed you?

Harry Potter 7 is probably the piece of fiction (not that I'm looking for only fiction, just that the scriptures change me over and over and over again all the time, but besides the scriptures, this is probably one of the biggest experiences I have had) that has had the most impact on me. Reading the end of Harry Potter 7, it was so emotional for me, and inspiring, and lifting. And it reminded me of how much I loved to write, how I wanted to do something like that, how I wanted to create something akin to that book. It was in the late hours of the night when I realized the path of my life, that I wanted to write, that I am a writer, and that that was what I would be. There are tons of passages in there that I love, but it was just the overall effect of it that changed me the most.

The days following I began to realize I have always been a writer. I remembered that I have been writing since I knew how to draw letters. I also realized that when I had become afraid of the idea of being an author, I still had words flowing out of me into tons of different journals. It just flows from me.

So that is the biggest one, though there are countless others, and maybe I will share more in the discussion that will (hopefully) follow. So tell me! What writing has changed your life, however big or small, and how?

Telling you all so you can keep me in check

I read this blog. Today there was a post, offering anyone to commit to writing 20-30 minutes a day. I've been praying for help with my writing, especially the motivating me to write, and so when I read this, seemed just like an answered prayer. Social pressure! Always a good way to keep yourself on track.

So I thought with that, besides just telling her that I committed, I would tell everyone who reads my blog, so you all can keep me accountable too. Wrote in my journal today, and here I am writing again, though this is not super content heavy, just more of an announcement.

I think maybe I will start a series of blog posts that discuss motivations for writing, and opening up for discussions for everyone to share their thoughts on the different topics.

Hm...gonna go run and make one right now!

Friday, August 13, 2010

To Tatiana

I have one friend who understands the mother/son relationship I have with Mark more than anyone else does. It is because her son came to her the same way. He even came to live with her. She's been with him as he's gone to the hospital many times for suicide attempts, and other physical ailments. She has tried to teach him, to help him grow independent, but above all, she has loved him.

He took his life last night. I woke up to a message from her, asking me if it had all been a waste. Love is never a waste. Caring for someone, even though they may make the decisions that will hurt you, is never a waste. Cherishing a life, that is not a waste.

The loss of a child is always going to be heart-wrenching. Suicide has got to be one of the worst ways for them to go. But though it may make us feel like we're helpless, we need to remember we still helped.

And so today, I dedicate this blog entry to Tatiana, and to mothers everywhere who have lost their children. We never know the time we will get to keep our children. But no moment, no love spent, is ever a waste. It matters more than we know.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Lamp

I had a dream about being back together with my ex this morning. We were together, making out, and whatever else. Then he was talking to me about his teeth, and the work he had had done while he'd been gone, and how he didn't think he was going back to the dentist, but going to go to these (don't remember the word from my dream) next time, and tell his dentist that he wasn't going to see them anymore.

This part of the dream was a representation of probably some of the best times I had with him, not quite the best, but the best times that ever happened on a semi-regular basis, meaning maybe once or twice a month.

After this part of the dream, my sister and mom were there, and my sister was packing up a lamp. Right now I have decided I want to get a bedside lamp, so I can read and write in bed, and just reach over and turn it off, without having to turn off my overhead lamp. And so I told my sister I wanted the lamp, even though she was packing it up. My mom said it was a sewing lamp, which in the dream meant it was for some reason hotter, and put off a lot of heat.

And then he was there, and I could tell he would prefer I not have the lamp, and I left it in my mind that we would think about it, but I knew that I would cave to what he wanted, and that I would not have a lamp.

I woke up disturbed, alone, and wanting to cry. I don't want to want that life. I didn't even wake up thinking much about the lamp. It was thinking about the good times. They were not good enough to justify everything else I put up with, with the way I didn't respect myself, how he didn't either.

I've been on a couple dates with this other guy, and other people as well, but this one guy in particular, who knows how to treat me. He makes me feel special, powerful even. He empowers me. And I don't know what will happen with him, but I'm glad I've at least had that glimpse to know that I am worth so much more than how my ex ever really treated me.

The more I have thought about it, the more the lamp is the part of the dream that bothers me the most, because it is me giving something up I want, me putting myself last, me putting him before me. I've spent the last 8 months learning to not do that. And I know that I am fragile enough that if I let him back in my life, I very well could go back to that.

So that is the choice I can make. It is the power that I have, that I take, and will take.

I was somewhat scared to post this, because I am pretty sure he reads my blog. But it's not worth avoiding that not to post it. I need to work through my own stuff, and want my friends, family, and even any random stranger who wants to, to be able to help me and support me through it.

Think I might buy a lamp today.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Enjoying the Agency of Others

There is so much in this life that we can affect, that we can choose for ourselves, how we can determine our attitude and destiny in so many ways. But then there are some things where our lives are incredibly affected by the choices that others make. There are the moments when others lift us when we fall, when someone tells us something we would have never thought on our own, but resonates so soundly with us, that in an instant, it becomes part of who we are.

It can affect us negatively too, in the form of abuse and intentional, or even unintentional hurting. There are lots of moments of uncertainty that come to our lives because of the agency of others, if we care about them, while they are making a decision, seeing what they will do, and how that will affect us.

This is the kind of thing that has in the past had the tendency to drive me crazy. If there is a possibility of some upheaval, I will just assume it is going to happen, so I do not have to deal with the reality of uncertainty. Uncertainty has been the state I try to avoid more than anything. Pain I at least have some coping for.

But now I am trying to embrace the uncertainty that others bring into my life. Embrace the thought that I don't know where tomorrow will lead, that the possibilities are there, and not all of the choices are mine to make to see where my life goes. To give up control of my life where I never really had it except in the artifice of my own mind. And to enjoy the uncertainty.

There is something thrilling about it. It is exciting, though it is really not doing -anything-.

I've come to this point after taking a while to just notice and analyze how other people's choices affect the relationships I have with them. It started with my ex leaving, but I've been noticing lots of things since, how other people's choices affect me, how they keep on choosing things even if I wait to choose, just sit back to analyze (which is a choice in itself I realize), and how life keeps going on, and I don't have to make it. And that there are plenty of people out there who willingly choose to be in my company, and treat me well, and appreciate me for who I am.

It feels like a river of choices, flowing all around me, and I know mine affect me the most, most determine where I will go, but the other choices matter a lot too. And when I don't know what someone else is going to choose, I can wait and see, and just enjoy the ride. For it is thrilling.