Sunday, February 28, 2010

Each Life That Touches Our For Good....

For good reason, Friendship is a popular theme! People sing about it, write poems about it, and even dedicate TV shows that play up the "Friends" theme!

And friends really can be a saving grace in our lives! A tender mercy! Spending time with amazing friends that I only get to see occasionally is great therapy! There isn't a pill or drink in the world that could give me the same motivation and sense of well being than I get from good friends!

"What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days."
-2nd verse of the hymn "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's too painful to remember.... or, The end of innocence...

"Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget."
-sung by Barbara Streisand in The Way We Were

As teenagers, Steve Halgren was the Favorite Big Brother! We all adored Steve and felt like Julie was the lucky one to have such a handsome older brother! Plus, Steve was darling to Julie (ever a tease but doting) and remarkably pretty cute to all of us (his kid sister's entourage of goofy friends)!

One of the sadder moments that brought our childhood era to a screeching halt came right after college when Steve and his wife, Vicki, were hit head-on in their car by a drunk driver. The accident killed Steve and just days after his funeral, Vicki went into early labor and their first child, a son was born. Vicki named him Stephen.

I was married & living in Boston at the time. Julie was married & living in Santa Monica. At the time I heard the news it felt unimaginable. Steve Halgren was dead, yet the Steve we knew was more full of life than most people you will ever know. It was awful!

My fondest memories of Steve are at the Halgren's cabin. We'd beg Steve to take us 4 wheeling in his Toyota Land Cruiser. He'd finally relent and we would bounce up and down in the Jeep with Steve's humongous dog, Zeus, along for the wild, all terrain ride!

Julie says that she still thinks about Steve every day. Of course she would - he was the Big Brother we all wanted! I know I think of Steve whenever I read of innocent lives destroyed by people who drink and drive. Steve's death had a profound and lasting effect on all of us. It was unfair, it was preventable, it was horribly tragic! It might have been the first time I truly became aware that sometimes things in life were going to be terribly, terribly sad!

"Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence." -Don Henley, lyrics from This is the End of the Innocence

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Cabin or Yours?

Affluence can definitely be both a blessing and a curse!

Our gals ski group feels so fortunate to be here enjoying Julie's cabin for the weekend. It's our European Chalet in Brighton, Utah! Seriously, it's called "Das Alpen Haus!" (see photos)

It occurs to me that growing up, the majority of my friends had cabins! Back then, Julie's cabin was outside Heber, Linda's in Park City, Kim and I had cabins in Brighton, etc. We had plenty of options! Those who didn't have cabins probably had boats (some had both). And none of us really thought of our families as wealthy. I'm embarrassed to admit that it hardly occurred to us that this wasn't "the norm!"

During summer months and on weekends during the school year we'd venture out to cabin overnights or on boating adventures to Lake Powell! We felt lucky and we were a pretty wholesome crowd; nice kids but definitely a little oblivious to how good we had it!

Now I realize that these blessings of abundance left us somewhat impervious to the stark reality that most families don't have cabins and/or boats! We just waltzed from cabin to waterski trip, completely ignorant of the fact that we had "luxuries" well beyond the majority of teenagers in the world!

"Things" (cabins, boats, etc.) don't make people happy and after primary needs are met research shows that greater affluence has never led to greater happiness. But, as an adult I do now realize that our more-than-comfortable-childhood was more unique than I knew. This awareness has given me more appreciation for our endless opportunities. In the innocence of youth I didn't understand our good fortune. At times our worries in life were as carefree as "Whose cabin should we go to this weekend?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Galapalooza! (The Sequel)

I'm off to Utah for Galapalooza (the Sequel)! This photo was taken at our Gals Weekend last February, the calendar year (2009) when the Highland High School Class of 1977 Graduates celebrated our 50th Birthdays!

2009 felt like an important year for us to get together and remind ourselves that we may be 50 but (as the saying goes): "you're only as old as you feel." And, last February we all felt like we were back in our glory days of high school! What a rush!

Last February we gathered 13 erstwhile bff's at Julie Halgren Glenn's cabin in Brighton, Utah. And we had a blast! It was wonderful to connect with everyone and while I keep in touch with many of the group there were some darling friends I hadn't seen in years!

In light of the great memories from our 2009 adventure we have a smaller group compiled and meeting up tonight ...not intentionally excluding anyone... just less formally planned this year. It mostly came about for the group who wants to ski.

So, I'm shirking some duties (handed Seminary responsiblities off to Jacque and Saturday building cleaning to Andie and Dad - thanks guys!) and it's Play Time for some once-upon-a-time-ski-bums!

I count these friendships as one of the richest blessings in my life! The influence of these friends goes way back and far beyond just enjoyment of skiing! Having such exemplary friends from my youth makes me acutely aware of the importance of friendship! Good friends really are people who inspire & motivate us to be our very best! For me, this group definitely does that! I adore these women!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Diet Coke Detox!

The 1st week of Lent is behind us! And, in full disclosure I can happily report that I have not had any caffeinated soda! Score 1 for K2! So, the Diet Coke Detox has clearly begun!

It has not been easy! Drinking Diet Coke has definitely been my longest running vice! And, while I'm sure quitting must pale in comparison to other things, it is hard enough for me. Which should be a cautionary tale for me to stay far far away from products with any remote potential for addiction!

But, hey, I figure if I can make it through Lent then I might as well continue on! Because the more I read about diet soda the more lame I feel about actually paying for and ingesting a product that impedes good health!

1. Dentists say Coke stains your teeth and erodes tooth enamel! 2. Michelle Obama's campaign to curb childhood obesity places a big emphasis on the harm of drinking soda! 3. There are many who believe that aspartame is a carcinogen!

So, there are three good reasons to quit! Combine those with the simple fact that Diet Coke contains no nutrients whatsoever!

Of course, it is always easier to replace a Bad Habit with a Good Habit and switching from diet coke to drinking water is my Ultimate Goal!

For the time being, if I need a carbonation fix I'm allowing Diet 7-up! It's a crutch to initially wean off caffeine and the next step will be from soda generally. So far, so good! And kudos to Andie who has been willing to help me by not drinking any diet coke in the house! Out of sight, out of mind!

By the end of Lent I am hoping to chant: "Diet Coke, It's a joke! --- But H2O, that's how I roll!" -a K2 original

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"We Do Not Doubt Our Mothers Knew It." -Alma 56:48

This picture is titled "Our Mothers Knew It" by artist, Megan Rieker, from her "Women of Inspiration" series. (It's a lousy image download but should give you the general idea.)

Anyway, it's probably my favorite art from the 2,000 Stripling Warriors story in the Book of Mormon since the focus is less on the warrior theme and more focused on these young men learning in their youth (and by their mothers no less).

One mother is drawing the tree of life story. One mother is outfitting her son in the full armor of God.

The artist depicts women whose main goal is preparing their children to prosper and not go through "life's battles" in fear! As an imperfect mother I'm not sure I always do the best job at teaching my kids important truths. But I look to those mothers of the 2,000 Stripling Warriors with great admiration!

We are studying these last chapters in Alma this week in Seminary. As I teach youth, and more so, as a mother, I hope that I can always live in a way that my children, students or others might sense and not doubt that I know!

"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it." -Alma 56:47-48

Monday, February 22, 2010

The "Best Part" of the Olympics...

Dipping artichokes in melted butter is tasty. But, by far, the best part of the artichoke is the heart!

For me, if the Olympics were an artichoke (random analogy here) then the stories behind the athletes would be the heart!

The races are great to watch but when NBC shows the little clips about the athletes; those are the highlights for me!

Most of the athletes personal stories are inspiring! Many athletes have overcome great obstacles to be at the Olympics! Some have a touching story of a hero in their life. And, all the Olympians have supporters (family and/or friends) who have always been there for them!

Whatever their nationality, the athletes have great pride in the country they represent! Some of the athletes are characters, a few a little pompous, but mostly, they are loving their moment of glory. And, good for them, they've worked hard to earn it!

One friend told me it drives her crazy when her husband fast forwards their taped Olympic viewing right through the personal story clips! I can't imagine! That's like skipping the heart of the artichoke! The races are exciting; thrilling moments and sometimes heartbreaking, but I'm interested in the race because I've connected emotionally from the stories & interviews.

Thanks to the personal stories, I stay tuned and stay up too late during Olympic season! And, yes, what can I say....the analogy came to mind because we had artichokes for dinner last night! So I guess that is how my thought process works just never know!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"If you truly love Nature, you will find Beauty everywhere." Vincent Van Gogh

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things-
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim,
Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He father's-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise Him.

-by Gerald Manley Hopkins

Saturday, February 20, 2010

There is hope shining "BRIGHT"ly before us.....

"Tora! Tora! Tora" (oh, wait, that's the movie title)
"Torah! Torah! Torah!" (and that would be my new favorite Olympian!)

Torah Bright! Women's Snowboard Halfpipe Gold Medalist! Roxy Clothing Line Designer! LDS Church Member! Awesome!

What a thrill to watch Torah Bright win the 1st Australian Gold Medal in the 2010 Olympics! And she doesn't fit the stereotype of your typical snowboarder at all! She's coached by her older brother, Bob, comes from a great family, and she's engaged to be married in the Salt Lake Temple.

When Bright was asked if her religion helped her with her snowboarding, she replied: I think it perhaps gives me a little bit of purpose to what I do, which is always a nice thing to get you through those tough days and rough times. I think it's kept me fairly grounded."

Bright's manager, Mark Jones, admires her example, stating, "Torah's values are not shallow, they're not for convenience, they're a part of her absolute spirit and her fundamental belief."

Jones admits that they have passed up lucrative endorsements in order for Bright to remain true to her beliefs. They've turned down deals from energy drinks that are highly caffeinated and some magazine publications. Jones said: "If it's not very classy and classic and reflective of her standards, then we don't go down that path. She just wants to surround herself with really positive people and positive brands."

At the end of the day, Torah Bright's feels like the real winner! She says, "I'm happy looking at the world and eliminating dramas that are caused by certain things that you do or don't do." Man, I ditto that sentiment! Go Torah!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The "Better Half" of the Team!

Andie and I were the benefactors of Anita's Celebrity Forum tickets with Laura Bush as last night's guest speaker. She was a gracious & classy speaker!

Laura Bush updated the full auditorium on her family members, reflected on their 8 years in The White House and now their "afterlife" (her choice of words). Then, she spoke fairly passionately about her champion causes: literacy, education and women's issues.

She was really charming! For 63 (hey, she's even older than Elton John and Billy Joel) she looks beautiful. She was really impressive with her prepared delivery but rambled a little during the questions. Much more articulate with notes than on the stump (but then, so are most people).

Laura Bush has almost a folksy but dignified style. And a cute sense of humor. I remember during the transition from the Bush entourage to Team Obama the Bush's were constantly asked about their future plans. Laura Bush cleverly responded: "Though my plans at the moment are vague, I can assure you that I'll never run for the Senate in New York." Clever, a little jab at Hillary Clinton (who had never lived in the state of New York before the Clinton White House departure - but knew their was a potential Democratic Senate seat available)!

A touching moment for me in Laura Bush's remarks was when she addressed the constant barrage of criticism toward her husband. She said it did bother her but didn't disturb her because she
"knows who she is and she knows who George is" ...(spoken with great conviction!)

Bush also felt a calm from living among the ghosts of past presidencies in The White House who also struggled over tough decisions. She came to feel that all of these men were decent men trying to do their best for our country.

Laura is one of the most popular 1st ladies which is amazing since George W. left office with a pretty decimated approval rating. She's currently working on her memoirs, coming out May 3rd, which she joked will be titled "Formerly Shy Librarian Tells All." I think her comments gave us a good sneak preview of the book. And, Andie, of course, was a fun date and probably the youngest person in the audience!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Billy Joel! Elton John! Face to Face!

"I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music." -Billy Joel

The Elton John/Billy Joel Face to Face Concert was Tuesday night! It definitely trumped the notation for "Bookgroup" on my calendar!

I was pretty excited; humming and singing their greatest hits for days before the show! These guys are definitely two of my all time favorite musicians!

And their performance was pretty amazing for 2 old codgers! Billy Joel is 60 and Elton John is 62! Sir Elton was like the regal knight, a total class act and Joel was like the kid brother, bouncing around stage, making faces, he was quite a character!

The concert started with a duet of Elton John's "Your Song" (a personal favorite):
"And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world."

Three and a half hours later they wrapped up the show with a a classic from each of their prolific repertoires: "Candle in the Wind" and "Piano Man." Incredible Concert!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday! 1st Day of LENT!

A Lenten Reflection:
Give up complaining --- focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism --- become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgements --- think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry --- trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragment --- be full of hope.
Give up bitterness --- turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred --- return good for evil.
Give up negativism --- be positive.
Give up anger --- be more patient.
Give up pettiness --- become mature.
Give up gloom --- enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy --- pray for trust.
Give up gossiping --- control your tongue.
Give up sin --- turn to virtue.
Give up giving up --- hang in there! - (author unknown)

I know Mormons don't traditionally celebrate Lent but Knudsens do! We've never adopted Ramadan (the Islamic tradition of fasting 40 days from sun up to sun down) but I'll never say never...

I adhere to President Hinckley's admonition to find the good in all religions and I think Lent is a good and cool practice. I like the concept of Lent on several levels!

Thus, we've adopted our own loose version of Lent...basically encouraging family members to "give up" something from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday!

The Lent season is going to be tough for me this year. I have decided to give up Diet Coke! For someone like Webb, who never got hooked on drinking soda, this would be a cake walk! For me, who reluctantly admits to having a diet coke addiction, this will be really hard! I'm going to continually have to remind myself that I Can Do Hard Things! I'm hoping that 40 days without Diet Coke will wean me from the insidious habit all together!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another "DUH!" study.....

I'm always amazed that it takes copious research to convince some people of obvious things! For example, I just read about a new study in a Pediatric Journal showing that parents who are actively involved in setting rules and reinforce what their teens learn in driver's ed have children who are safer drivers! See what I mean?!

But, this IS good information, and, as the author of one of the studies said: "The real message of this paper is that parents matter." Whew: good to know!

Not long ago I read the results of a study that showed that teenagers who watched TV shows with sexual overtones were much more likely to engage in sex. Again, did they really need laborious research to figure that out? Common sense tells me that people who view risky behavior are more likely to behave at risk!

I suppose that just because we think an outcome is common sensical, we need still need the data to back it up! I just find several parenting studies amusing when the answer seems obvious!

Or, maybe I just think I'm an expert on the subject!? Well, after 28 years of lab work, I certainly should have picked up a few ideas along the way!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A President's Day Tribute to Honest Abe!

"We are not enemies, but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." -from Lincoln's 1st Inaugural Address

The Better Angels of our Nature! To me, that is exactly what Abraham Lincoln represents!

Lincoln had great empathy and made a conscious effort to understand the perspective of people who he disagreed with. He sought to understand the Southerners.

Unlike many antislavery orators, Lincoln argued: "They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up." Very insightful!

Despite his outward gregariousness, Lincoln was profoundly solitary and he loved to read. He found worthy companionship in books. For Lincoln, reading was part of his relentless drive for self improvement.

William Miller said people who knew Lincoln from early years in New Salem and Indiana remembered Lincoln "reading while the horse rests at the end of a row, reading while walking down the street, reading under a tree, reading while others went to dances, reading between customers in the post office, and reading snatched at length on the counter of the store." You've gotta love anyone who always has their nose in a book!

In a 2005 Time Magazine article, Barack Obama provided a wonderful summary of the message Lincoln's life can convey. Obama wrote: "What I marvel at, what gives me such hope, is that this man could overcome depression, self doubt and the constraints of biography and not only act decisively but retain his humanity. Like a figure from the Old Testament, he wandered the earth, making mistakes, loving his family but causing them pain, despairing over the course of events, trying to divine God's will. He did not know how things would turn out, but he did his best."

I ditto President Obama! President Abraham Lincoln was an amazing man who had plenty of struggles but rose above his demons to bring us the better angels of his nature! A true hero!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Cutest Cupid!

Rose are Red, Violets are Blue.
Noah and I send Valentines Greetings to You!

I think Noah Touchet makes an adorable Cupid!

Even though some people complain that Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday imposing us to dutifully give out cards, chocolates and flowers, I happen to like all holidays. Any cause for celebration!

John Bryan told me that in Japan the Valentines tradition is for women to give chocolates to men. What's up with that?

Erich Fromm believed that "Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence."

I remember Valentines Day was pretty fun in elementary school. Decorating (or transforming) a cardboard box into a worthy receptacle for cards was homework no one complained about! Then, the mystery of what it meant if a boy signed the card with "Love" instead of "From." That could lead to all kinds of interpretation. Finally, the best cards came with candy! Ah, good memories!

When it comes to a holiday extolling the virtue of love, I have to include one of my favorite quotes from Ursula K. Le Guin: "Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." There is wisdom and truth in that thought!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Citius, Altius, Fortius!

Faster, Higher, Stronger! I Love the Olympics!

Last night was the 2010 Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The motto for the games "With Glowing Hearts" comes from a line in the Canadian National Anthem.

"The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself." -Dawn Fraser

I'm always inspired watching the Olympics! There's a thrill about seeing amazing athletes that have trained for hours every day, giving everything they have physically and mentally to be the very best in their sport.

The discipline and drive of the athletes really motivates me to "put out" more in all aspects of my life. To me, Olympic Athletes really do represent giving 100%! Their excellence is impressive!

"There is something in the Olympics, indefinable, springing from the soul, that must be preserved." -Chris Brasher

Let the Games Begin!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thoreau's Walden Pond

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." -Henry David Thoreau

I mentioned Elder L. Tom Perry's conference talk in yesterday's post extolling simplicity. Elder Perry talks about a time in his life that he was under a lot of stress and since they were living in New England he and his wife would visit Walden Pond on Sundays.

Elder Perry shares some details of Henry David Thoreau's simple lifestyle back in 1845 when Thoreau decided to spend 2 years living at Walden Pond. Thoreau discovered that there were really just 4 things a man needed to sustain life: food, clothing, shelter, and fuel.

Elder Perry comments on these 4 essentials but in discussing fuel he talks about spiritual fuel. He reminds us of the Parable of 10 Virgins and the 5 who were wise keeping sufficient oil (spiritual fuel) in their lamps. He testifies of the simplicity there is in righteous living.

Like Elder Perry, we also lived near Walden Pond during the five years we spent in Boston. Walden was a peaceful and reflective place to visit. Apparently, before Thoreau died he was asked if he had made peace with God. He replied, "I was not aware we had ever quarreled." I'm also grateful to find a peacefulness when I think about my relationship and reverence for God. And like Thoreau, I do believe these are truths we can only learn through simplification and not through all the distractions of life.

"In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness." -Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, February 11, 2010

'Tis a Gift to be Simple....

"Teach us Delight in simple things,
And Mirth that has no bitter springs."
-from, The Puck of Pook's Hill, Rudyard Kipling

Simplicity! It has such a nice ring to it! I think most people would choose the simple life over complexity - theoretically speaking.

But somehow our choices don't always reflect that desire. We're constantly cramming more things into our days, making every hour busier!

About two years ago, Elder L. Tom Perry gave a great conference talk called "Let Him Do it With Simplicity." He talks about the spiritual benefit of a simplified lifestyle.

To me, missionaries are a good example of this. Their lives are uncluttered while they serve; they don't get caught up in TV, movies, current events, fashion, shopping, etc. They are pretty singularly focused.

Yet, despite all missionaries do without, they always seem content. I know I'm not an expert (having never actually served a mission) and I know that missionary life has plenty of challenges and frustrations too. But, generally, missionaries seem happy!

And while it isn't realistic to think our lives can be as singular focused as missionary life, it does make sense that simplification (eliminating unimportant things) can increase our ability to feel spiritual things.

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." -E.F. Schumacher, Thanks Arly!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crazy 4 U!

"I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met." - Marguerite Duras (French writer)

When I first came across this quote I wasn't sure if I was offended by it (as a mother) or agreed with it (as a daughter). Truth be told, it does resonate with me (a little).

Perhaps it's simply inescapable. Destiny. Mothers. We are a crazy lot! But are we good crazy or bad crazy?

Loon crazy or goon crazy? Meaning, are we off the charts bonkers (loony) or just harmless goofballs (goony)? There is a big difference! Think institutional patient versus maybe a slightly pathetic comedian.

And, is it a chicken and egg conundrum? Are mothers crazy because their kids drive them crazy? Or, is it the craziness that makes women willing to sacrifice (sometimes a lot) to be a mother?

As long as the "crazy" isn't the scary, prone to sudden maniacal outbursts, rants and raving crazy; then I'm hopeful that the writer is just stating the obvious fact that as mothers, you've got to do a lot of strange stuff along the trails of mothering. And if that leaves us a little bit nuts, be it! It's worth all the madness!

Perhaps Billy Joel said it best in "You May Be Right:"
"If I'm crazy then it's true
That it's all because of you
And you wouldn't want me any other way."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trash Talk!

The book I'm reading on the 2008 presidential campaign, Game Change, is illuminating on how many things were not what they seemed! The game face many presidential contenders and their wives put on for the public is quite astonishing!

One of these disturbing revelations is the foul mouth of Senator John McCain. Around his campaign staff he was constantly rattling off strings of expletives. Think the "f" word repeated over and over! Needless to say, I'll refrain (happily) from sharing the (numerous) quotes!

It isn't as if I hold McCain in great esteem (choosing Sarah Palin sort of made me question his sanity) but hearing his foul mouthed tirades just makes me lose respect for him.

Call me a prude but I have a very low tolerance for "trash talk." It seems like an uneducated, undisciplined form of communicating. There are so many words that elevate and edify and it's just a major disappointment to me when people choose offensive language to get their message across.

When Socrates was once introduced to a young man, he said: "Talk in order that I may see you." And I do believe that our speech does reveal us!

"Swearing is a vice that bespeaks a low standard of breeding. Blasphemous exclamations drive out all spirit of reverence." -President David O'McKay

Monday, February 8, 2010

One (magic!) Law of the Universe....

One of the interesting laws of the universe is the "whatever you want, give it away" concept or philosophy! And most of us that test the premise find it amazingly true!

Amanda Dickson, is the co-host of a morning radio show and she wrote a great little book titled "Wake Up to a Happier Life." One of the chapters of the book explains the concept this way: "If you want love, you must love people. If you want respect, you must respect them. If you want support, you must support people. If you want patience, you must be patient with them. If you want money, you must learn to be generous."

It's hard to figure out why this is true, but it is! The only way to fix your world, is to fix yourself. I notice it the most when I get frustrated with another person's behavior because deep down at some level the person that I am really frustrated with is always myself!

It's a little like the boomerang! Throw it out there and it returns to you! Amanda Dickson suggests that we take inventory and come up with a few things we want. Then, give or do those things for others and watch how easily they come back to you! "Lift someone else, and you are lifted!"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

To "Blog" Or Not To "Blog"....

Andie wants to write a Guest Post on this K2 Blog! She's been collecting all kinds of material. Whenever I do something weird she threatens to include it in her mother blog roast! Yikes!

I told Andie she should start up her own blog. Between living with elderly parents and teaching special needs students in a rough inner city school, Andie would have plenty of interesting stories!

The back and forth with Andie made me think about why I keep writing this random daily drivel. Outside of an occasional family member placating me, I don't exactly have anyone reading my missives.

And I don't really have a specific theme; most people who blog seem to write about their kids of their crafts or politics, etc. I write about pretty much....well, anything that interests me. I don't exactly have a niche per se. Unless an "eclectic blog" could be my niche. Maybe writing about "anything" becomes like the Seinfeld's really about "nothing!"

I guess there are 3 reasons I keep plugging along. First, I'm more of a reader than a writer so this challenges me out of my comfort zone a bit. Pushing myself with challenging things is a good exercise. So, basically, I'm teaching this old dog new tricks!

Second, with all my reading I constantly find little gems that I don't want to forget! Blogging gives me a chance to record lots of the wonderful quotes, poems, and words of wisdom I discover!

Third, even though I don't have an audience who reads my ramblings I think my writings are my legacy of sorts. Maybe a day will come, fifty plus years down the road where a grandchild might come to know who I was a little bit more from reading my thoughts.

I guess I don't want my own family to ever wonder what I believed in and what I felt passionate about. By nature I'm a little shy so this gives me a medium to express things I feel in my heart!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

If You Can Sit At Set of Sun...

"If you can sit at set of sun
and count the deeds that you have done
and counting find
one self-denying act,
one word that eased the heart of him that heard,
one glance most kind
which fell like sunshine where he went,
then you can count that day well spent!

But, if all the livelong day
you've cheered no heart,
by yea or nay,
if through it all you've nothing done
that you can trace
that brought the sunshine to one face,
no act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost,
then you can count that day as worse than lost."

-Robert Browning

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream!

This picture should explain the urgency of yesterday's post, or ...Why Andie and I needed to find goldfish containers! Just look at that girl! Does it get any cuter?

Last Sunday Emily was wearing a fancy foofy Valentines dress at church. Think festive wedding type attire! So, following the meeting block we had a Linger Longer with Ice Cream Cones. Hence, Jennifer promptly removed Emily's dress before it had ice cream imprints and sat Emily in the corner of the gym, happily licking away!

When Andie and I saw her topless at church it cracked us up! As long as Emily had that cone in her hand she didn't care a bit that she'd been stripped down to her tights.

Emily looks almost as excited as those times in Seattle when we'd take our dog, Torrey, to the drive-thru at Dairy Queen for a Doggy Cone! Torrey looked like she had died and gone to dog heaven when she slurped that doggy cone! Good times!

One of the best things about little kids is watching their excitement about little things! Just to see Emily so enthusiastic about the prospect of an ice cream cone puts it all in perspective! Ah, the simple joys of life!

"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million!" -Walt Streightiff

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"The Snack That Smiles Back!" ...Oh, yeah!

We searched. And we searched. ...And we scored!

After a disturbing incident at church last Sunday, Andie and I have been hunting down Pepperidge Farm Goldfish containers.

When Emily sauntered down to our row for her weekly visit she headed straight for Jacque because that is who had the orange plastic goldfish container!

Andie and I couldn't compete! My "Trucks" picture book didn't hold a candle to edible snacks! So, not to be outdone, Andie decided we needed to level the playing field and fetch our own goldfish containers to lure potential snackers (Emily, Natalie, Ryan, etc.) onto our laps!

We found containers on eBay but they were used and we want only the best for our "Little People" friends! But yesterday Andie had a hunch to check at Safeway and we are now the proud owners of 2 containers. And they are sporting multi-colored goldfish! Go Andie!

Apparently Goldfish crackers made their debut in 1962, when Pepperidge Farm founder, Margaret Ruskin, discovered the goldfish cracker on a trip to Switzerland and returned home with the recipe.

In 1988, the Goldfish cracker went into space onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery! And in 1997, Goldfish introduced "Smiley." Now half the Goldfish crackers have small imprints of an eye and a smile. Thus, the advertising slogan "The Snack That Smiles Back! Goldfish!" I'm embarrassed to admit that I eat Goldfish so fast I never noticed that half the fish are plain and half of them smile.

We'll test our containers out this Sunday! Andie can't wait for church! They'd better work; if not, we might have to look into the Goldfish Mobile (see photo) to entice the little people! We could trade in the Tiguan for Smiley!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"You've Gotta Try New Things Sometimes!"

We adopted a quote that my nephew Eric said when he was about 7 years old and it's become a famous line in our household!

When Eric was visiting us in Seattle his mom, Lisa, and I took the kids to the Space Needle and rode the monorail right to a new food court. The great thing about a food court with little kids; everyone can order whatever they want!

It was an easy choice for Eric. He ordered a Corn Dog from the Hot Dog on a Stick stand. Lisa had warned us that Corn Dogs were currently Eric's staple food! It was pretty much all Eric wanted to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! And Lisa was a little tired of the lack of variety in his diet.

So when Eric was still hungry and wanted to order another Corn Dog; his mom balked! "Eric, choose something else," Lisa pleaded. "This place has everything: pasta, burritos, chinese food. Can't you please pick anything else?" Eric carefully thought it through and finally settled on ordering....a Cheese Dog (also from Hot Dog on a Stick).

So, as Eric happily ate his Cheese Dog we gave him a hard time over his selection. To the rest of us, it looked identical to the Corn Dog! But not to Eric! When we said, "Wow, Eric, from a Corn Dog to a Cheese Dog! Way to shake it up!" Eric just smiled and said: "Well, you've got to try new things sometimes!"

And that began the famous line that we use on each other whenever we want someone to branch out (even if it's an incremental change like Eric's). The quote has served us well! Because even when it isn't exactly our preference, sometimes... you've just gotta try new things!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Be Concise!

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a short story in 6 words. The result was:

"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

Wow, just six words and Hemingway can create a drama and invoke our emotions! Not bad!

One of my favorite professors in college was completely obsessed with the "KISS" model of writing, which stood for "Keep It Simple Stupid!" He was ruthless with the red pen and course papers, eliminating half the text on any written assignment we turned in.

At first we balked! As a class we cried out that he was "pruning" our pages with abandon, taking out our unique "voice" ...leaving our writing barren! What about our creative style?

As the semester continued we had to concede that tightening our sentences did result in a better end product. But it was always painful to delete, edit, and scratch out phrases that were near and dear to our hearts!

Well, my college days were a long time ago and I haven't adhered to the KISS approach in my writing as I should. But, my professor might have created a monster because I find myself editing the writing of others. Which is sometimes okay, but the other day I caught myself editing an Apostle and realized I might be getting a little carried away! It's not really my place to impose brevity on messages from our church leaders! Even if I did think it was a little long winded! I stand corrected!

Monday, February 1, 2010

"I Can Do Hard Things"

When President Hinckley called Susan W. Tanner to be the YW General President she felt overwhelmed but remembered two important things. First, she knew she loved young women and, second, she remembered a personal motto she had: "I Can Do Hard Things!"

Sister Tanner incorporated that motto into one for all the young women to fall back on in times of discouragement.

Sister Tanner spoke once of a time she was struggling with despair, but found comfort in thinking positive thoughts. "I concentrated on three things," Sister Tanner said. "Finals will be over in three weeks. I know my family loves me. And I know Heavenly Father loves me...These thoughts elevated me enough to feel the comfort and guidance of the Holy Ghost through a difficult time."

I definitely need to use the "I Can Do Hard Things" motto when I hear that innner voice tell me it's "too difficult," "too late," "too early," or just "too much to take on." I need to boldly remind myself that I can do this because I can do hard things! It's a great slogan! And, no, I'm not "too old" to adopt it!