Friday, September 30, 2011

Running with heart...

In Alex Olsen’s weekly email from the MTC he shared a quote from one of his leaders who was a track coach. When this man was coaching his own daughter he told her: “We run first with our hearts, then our minds, then our feet.”

For Alex the running metaphor touched him as a missionary, reminding him to be confident in the work, encouraging him not to hold anything back (give it all his heart!).

For me the message resonated in my own running. When a run starts in the heart it’s much easier for the mind and feet to follow. If I’m running first with my feet, getting my mind and heart on board can often be a challenge.

So, for me personally, the quote rings true. Especially like Alex mentioned too, if I want to thrive at anything (missionary work, running, whatever), it’s best to give it my heart and soul. Simple but true!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The formation of character is a lifelong process...

“The formation of character is a lifelong process.” -Nitin Nohria

Nitin Nohria is the new dean of Harvard Business School and he has caught my attention. He taught leadership for many years at HBS before becoming dean in 2010.

Nohria is very focused on making sure the graduates leave Harvard with an understanding of business ethics. He believes there is a big difference between people knowing their responsibilities as leaders and their capacity to live up to them when they are faced with temptation or pressure.

Reporters from the Wall Street Journal published some interview questions from a recent lunch outing they had with Nohria. I loved a quote on character building and power at the end of that article:

“Abraham Lincoln said that people think that the real test of a person’s character is how they deal with adversity. A much better measure of a person’s character is to give them power.

I’ve been more often disappointed with how people’s character is revealed when they’ve been given power.

I have learned that in very modest ways even as having become dean. How I inhabit this new sense of self and learn to stay grounded is going to be as important to the formation of my character as anything I’ve learned from my parents.” -Nitin Nohria

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Too Much Homework!

Poet Jack Prelutsky on Homework:

Homework! Oh, Homework!
I hate you! You stink!
I wish I could wash you away in the sink,
if only a bomb
would explode you to bits.
Homework! Oh, Homework!
You’re giving me fits.

I’d rather take baths
with a man-eating shark,
or wrestle a lion
alone in the dark,
eat spinach and liver,
pet ten porcupines,
than tackle the homework,
my teacher assigns.

Homework! Oh, homework!
you’re last on my list,
I simply can’t see
why you even exist,
if you just disappeared, i
it would tickle me pink.
Homework! Oh, homework!
I hate you! You stink!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


"Think of mindfulness as hanging out happily." - Sylvia Boorstein

One of my professors at Santa Clara, Dr. Shapiro, is a real champion of mindfulness. She’s convinced that if we practice developing mindfulness personally it will make us better therapists. I can follow this logic, and besides, Dr. Shapiro seems quite awesome so I’m certainly willing to work on the concept.

Fortuitously, I happened to read a book last year by mindfulness guru, Sylvia Boorstein, which gives me a head start in understanding what exactly mindfulness is and what it isn’t.

One way to think of mindfulness is getting in a habit of seeing things in uncomplicated ways. Boorstein has a great story to illustrate this idea. Once she was trying to register for a retreat at a zen center and kept playing phone tag in her attempts to call Robert, the zen master, to schedule her visit. After about three or four attempts to reach the zen master, she said to the person who answered her phone call, “perhaps this means I am not meant to participate in this retreat.” And the receptionist simply answered, “probably it just means that Robert isn’t here.”

I’ve definitely been guilty of jumping to unwarranted conclusions like Boorstein’s leap. I’m also fairly certain practicing mindfulness will be a challenge for me. I have a few skills that will be helpful but in many ways it will be quite a challenge. I’m fairly impatient which won’t make it easy. But perhaps once I start practicing mindfulness daily (homework!), I’ll end up with more patience than I’ve ever had. Who knows?

“When the mind is clear, behavior is always impeccable.” -Syvlia Boorstein

Monday, September 26, 2011

The annual Relief Society General Broadcast..

Saturday night was the annual Relief Society General broadcast. It’s always the week before the October General Conference. Then in April it’s the Young Women’s General broadcast.

For a satellite broadcast, these are always pretty good meetings. And I’ve noticed that how much I get out of the meeting definitely depends on my mood. I suppose this is true not just for this meeting but church in general.

If I’m tired or feeling rushed or distracted the meeting never seems as inspiring but it’s likely just my own temperament. When I’m focused and enthused about any meeting or class (church or otherwise), I usually raving about the messages I hear.

Sister Julie B. Beck spoke about the patterns of discipleship and framed her talk around the theme: What I hope my granddaughters will know and understand about Relief Society. Sister Beck also introduced the new book getting distributed worldwide: “Daughters In My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society.”

Sister Silvia Allred talked about charity. While she was speaking we looked up her bio and I have to say that when I read that she has eight children, I was quite impressed. Then Sister Barbara Thompson talked about cleaving unto the covenants we have made. Keeping covenants brings happiness and joy.

President Uchtdorf’s talk was the usual home run. He is one of the best public speakers in the church! He noted the beauty of Forget-Me-Not flowers and then used the five petals to symbolize five things women should ‘forget not.'

The first thing we should 'forget not' is to be patient with ourselves. Heavenly Father is fully aware that we are not perfect. And he added: “God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.”

Next, we should 'forget not' that some sacrifices are better than others. Furthermore, a good sacrifice in some instances may not be a good sacrifice in another. President Uchtdorf said: “An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of greater worth.”

The third thing we should 'forget not’ is to be happy now! He used the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket to illustrate how people get caught up waiting for their Golden Ticket and sometimes miss out on their life as it is happening.

The fourth 'forget not' is the “why” of the gospel. Sometimes we get sidetracked over the “whats” and the “hows” and forget the “why.”

Finally, the fifth is to 'forget not' that the Lord loves you! President Uchtdorf has a great style and has genuinely helped women collectively feel more pride in who they are and find less guilt over things they aren’t. He’s definitely one of my favorite speakers!

“My dear Relief Society sisters, you are closer to Heaven than you suppose. You are destined for more than you can possibly imagine. Continue to increase in faith and personal righteousness.” -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chill Before Use!

Our home phone was missing and I'd been passively looking for it all day. Then I remembered a funny story about Michelle Walton finding her phone in her dryer when she unloaded a batch of clothes!

But our phone was not in the dryer, not in the washer, or anywhere in the laundry room. The laundry room was one of my first stops on my telephone scavenger hunt (due to Michelle's story and all).

Well, if you've ever wondered if your phone can take the heat or (in my case) the cold, it appears that house phones might be temperature resistant! At least to refrigeration! Because where I located our missing phone was in the kitchen fridge! And it's no worse for the wear!

Just how does a phone get into the fridge? A simple question. And the answer is simply that I get caught up doing too many things at once! Multitasking at it's worst!

I personally operate better on a singular focus model of efficiency! Actually my kids already know this about me since I can hardly answer a rudimentary question if I'm checking email!

When I attempt to multitask I end up distracted and do inane things like set telephones in the fridge or maybe the milk in the pantry! In fact, before the saga of the lost phone my sunglasses were missing and Brent found them in a casserole pan in the cupboard (but that’s another blog post!).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Introducing James McNally Olsen...

“Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last.” -Charles Dickens

Andrew and Caitlin’s baby didn’t arrive on Paige’s birthday like we’d hoped but at 2 am on Friday, September 23rd, James McNally Olsen, weighing 7 pounds 6 ounces, entered the world.

He looks just like Andrew! Seriously, check out that nose! In fact, it’s incredible to me how newborns already resemble their parents. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, but it is.

Cass and Mairead (the proud maternal grandma and aunt), jumped in their car, driving from Salt Lake to Las Vegas, as soon as Caitlin was admitted to the hospital. They arrived right after the birth but just in time for Caitlin to grab Mairead and insist that labor “really isn’t that bad.” So, apparently Caitlin was pretty stoic through the whole delivery (four pushes and out came James!).

Lisa and Bruce will fly down today to meet their new grandson and I guess we’ll get to meet James when the Olsen crew comes to visit their host of Bay Area relatives (Bo, Kira, Liam, Mairead, Knudsens, etc).

“Make no mistake about why these babies are here - they are here to replace us.” -Jerry Seinfeld

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taller by the Day...

I’ve grown! One whole inch! Sweet!

I always wanted to be taller. When I stopped growing at 5 feet, 5 inches I was disappointed. I would probably add 2-3 inches to my stature if it were my choice.

Realistically I should be grateful I hit 5’5” since my genetics don’t bode well relative to height. My Mom isn’t quite 5’3” and one sister is only around 5’1.” And, of all the girls in my family, I’m actually the tallest (although, as I just pointed out, this isn’t saying much).

But, back to this sudden increase. Last week Brent and I had in-home physical exams for life insurance policies. A nurse comes to your home and gives you a complete work up; getting your pulse, blood pressure, urine sample, EKG, draws blood, etc. Measuring height and weight are two standard parts on the physical.

So, the nurse read my height at 5”6.” To which I quickly responded: “5’6?” I have never been 5’6” in my entire life!” But the nurse, who was nonplussed by my revelation, reiterated that I was indeed 5’6.”

This could mean one of two things. First, that I have grown an inch. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely. I’m entering the phase of life where we don’t grow, we shrink. Plus, after not drinking milk most of my life I don’t think my bone density is in any position to buoy me up to look taller.

So, the second scenario is more likely true. Which is, that the nurse is one of those people who won’t admit that she is wrong. So, in my life insurance policy records I will remain 5 feet and 6 inches forever. Even though I’m really not.

But it felt awfully nice to hear my height as 5’6", even if it isn’t. Sort of like I might get a compliment where someone is being kind more than accurate but the compliment still feels good. Or, at least, until I realize that it isn’t completely truthful.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

First Day...

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford

Emily started preschool a week before I started my journey back to school (30 years post bachelor’s degree) and since Jennifer took a picture with signage, Paige insisted I get similar treatment.

Emily’s paper reads: "Emily. First day of Preschool, September 12, 2011." Paige was in a rush so mine didn’t record the date (September 20, 2011) but reads: "1st day of Grad School."

While Emily was adamant that her classmates should be “little kids” and the “same size” as Emily (see blog post from 8/10/11), my fear was exactly the opposite. I worried that everyone would be young and I’d be the oldest student in the program.

And, it turns out that I probably am the oldest. But the sky didn’t fall and the world didn’t end. So, I guess that sometimes even when the thing we fear the most becomes reality, life still goes on.

Yes, I feel a little ancient juxtaposed to the younger students. But nobody seemed to care that much. And, at least one of my professors looks older than me (whew!). So, after a few official days on campus, I think this back to school adventure is going to work, despite my fears. At the very least, I suppose I’m old enough to know that I don’t know everything! Which, after all, can be a pretty big thing (for those who don’t know this yet anyway!).

After Emily’s first day at preschool she was concerned that she didn’t learn anything new from her teachers and she didn’t get any homework. Again, this was not an issue for me. I’ve already learned a healthy respect for licensed therapists (there is a lot to learn) and I’ve already got loads of homework!

Emily and I do share a love for being in school, her first time ever and my first time in graduate school. Jennifer said that Emily wakes up and asks if it’s a school day (she goes M/W/F) and hopes the answer is yes! So, whether the kids are young or old, small or tall, we are both delighted to be in school!

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” -Michael Legrand

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When the hospital visitor becomes the patient...

It was magnanimous of Paige to agree to visit Krista Lynch with me at Stanford Hospital on Monday. After all, it was Paige’s birthday.

But I did throw in teasers like the close proximity to Stanford Shopping Center (which houses Sprinkles cupcakes) so Paige was amenable to accompany me. And, I forgot about Paige’s inclination to get squeamish about hospitals. That, or I guess I thought she’d outgrown it.

As Paige and I waited for an elevator some nurses pushed by us with a man on a gurney whose vitals didn’t look good. I barely noticed but the visual scene didn’t sit well with Paige. So, minutes later, as we were visiting with Krista, I was focused on the real patient (Krista) and didn’t realize Paige getting white, clammy and light headed. When she sauntered out of the room, I just assumed she’d had enough small talk and was going to wander the hall for a minute, perhaps trying to signal me that wrapping up the visit was fine with her.

It turns out Paige wasn’t hinting to go but genuinely on the verge of fainting. Our discussion on pain only exacerbated her trauma of being at the hospital altogether. So, somewhere in Stanford’s “C” wing, Paige went out cold. Meanwhile, Krista and I were chatting away in Room 303.

A nurse entered Krista's room requesting me, explaining that “the little girl” I’d come in with had fainted. Totally confused I told Krista I’d be right back and went out to find Paige, now in a wheelchair, surrounded by four nurses.

The attentive nurses were ready to admit their new patient until I convinced them that getting Paige out of the hospital environment would solve the problem more than any extended stay.

Finally, after assuring the staff that I’d watch after her, they reluctantly let us leave, but not before Krista made her way from her hospital bed to come check on Paige. So, yes, it’s a little embarrassing to visit someone and end up causing commotion in the C wing, but what can you do? Stuff happens. Plus, this lack of fortitude when it comes to guts, gore, and even measly hospitals, is probably hereditary and I’m afraid I might be the guilty party in passing it along. On a positive note, I’ve gotten remarkably more tolerant/less squeamish over the years (so there is hope for Paige).

But, back to the real patient, Krista was looking great and in good spirits and was getting discharged the following day. Furthermore, Krista graciously (from her hospital bed) called us Monday night to check on Paige and to inquire if Paige’s birthday went a little better following "the incident."

And, yes, it only took one Sprinkles cupcake to assuage Paige’s allergic reaction to the Stanford hospital. So, the drama on her birthday will be a memory we’ll probably laugh about for many years to come!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Choosing a Pediatrician/Choosing a School...

Today is my first official day at Santa Clara University as a graduate student! I was on campus yesterday but mostly getting logistics sorted out: student id card, parking pass, textbooks.

Yes, I’m excited to be a student again! I’ve always loved school.

After looking into Master's programs and researching schools, I decided that choosing the right campus for me was a little like choosing a pediatrician for my children.

When it comes to physicians we collectively don't spend much time with doctor visits. So, I never worried much about who delivered my babies or who stitched up my chin after a fall.

But, following any long-distance moves, finding a pediatrician was always a calculated decision. My kid's pediatrician had to be someone whose general philosophy on child rearing concurred with mine.

Any pediatrician who would dole out prescriptions too easily was not for us. I'm not an alarmist so I certainly didn't want a pediatrician who panicked easily. It may seem redundant that our pediatrician needed to like children but you would be surprised. So, our pediatrician had to have a good rapport with me and my kids.

The bottom line, I needed to feel in sync with the pediatrician. It's hard to describe the feeling of being in sync with your kid's doctor but if you’re not in synch with their logic and reasoning on child development, you know it!

Similarly, any graduate school program I enrolled in needed to have a mission statement that I believed in. I've got to feel a rapport with the professors and agree with their philosophy.

Basically, I need to feel in sync with the program. So far, I think Santa Clara University fits the bill. I’ve been impressed with everyone I’ve worked during the admittance process and I’m hopeful that my graduate school experience will be just as great as a few of the pediatricians we’ve had over the years. Namely, some favorites like Dr. Buchta in La Jolla and Dr. Safir in Los Gatos. If my grad school experience is as closely aligned with my life philosophies as these doctors were, I should be in good shape!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Happy Birthday to Paige!

I was trying to decide what to write about our cute birthday girl and decided that since I’m always quoting things I read and like, I could reprint my favorite blog post from Paige’s Pizazz (tales from her BYU London Study Abroad experiences). I love the following post as Paige shares a testimony building moment:

“It was such a neat experience to go to the London Temple today after spending some time at the Hindu temple in Southall yesterday. I felt a nice meditative contemplative spirit at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple (maybe how Julia Roberts felt for those those of you who have seen Eat Pray Love).

But today at our temple I had one of the best spiritual experiences I think I have ever had in a temple. It was a small temple and the workers were excited to have such a large group come in to do work for them. At the Provo temple a big group of students is very common but at the London temple, you could tell this was a big ordeal (in a good way) for them to have us...

...What struck me most at the temple was not what was said, but the spirit that was felt. As a group of us girls sat in the room waiting to do baptisms and confirmations, we took the opportunity to sing hymns.

Although my voice is not up to par with many of the musically gifted we have in our group, it didn’t matter at all. The temple workers came in and said we sounded like angels and someone even thought we were a CD. The spirit was just so strong, words can’t even do justice to it.

As we sang “I Stand All Amazed,” (one of my all time favorite hymns), I felt touched thinking about the life of Christ and his infinite atonement and sacrifice for us.

I also loved singing “Lead Kindly Light” and in it two phrases hit me. The first was “the night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on” and the second, “I love to choose and see my path; but now, lead though me on.”

I know there are a lot of time I wish I could choose my path in this life and at times I feel alone - but I know Christ is and will always be there for me if I put my faith and trust in Him.

The gospel is amazing and as we closed our temple trip singing “The Spirit of God” all together as a big BYU group, I felt the chills and that “burning in my bosom” that I know this gospel is true and I am lucky to have been born at this time with it in my life. There really is no greater gift and I know I am here on this London Study Abroad to have experiences like the one I had today. So, in conclusion, it is just comforting to know that no matter where I go, the peace temples bring will always be there for me.” -Paige Knudsen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eldorado by Edgar Allen Poe

"Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old
This knight so bold
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow
"Shadow," said he,
Where can it be
This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride"
The shade replied
If you seek for Eldorado." -Edgar Allen Poe

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Or Bust...

“For good nutrition, it’s hard to beat Skippy.” -Annette Funicello, from a 1970’s Skippy peanut butter commercial

Before Paige moved home we had 2 varieties of peanut butter; Skippy Creamy and Skippy Chunky. This pretty much fulfilled our peanut butter needs since Brent likes chunky and creamy is my favorite.

Now an entire shelf in our fridge is filled with a variety of peanut butter options.

Paige has made homemade peanut butter and cashew nut butter in our BlendTec blender. She’s bought sunflower seed butter, honey roasted peanut butter, almond butter from Trader Joes, and almond butter with roasted flaxseeds from Whole Foods.

Paige would love New York City’s Peanut Butter and Company sandwich shop in Greenwich Village (see photo). It’s filled with all things peanut butter and a menu of peanut butter treats.

So, just after Paige amasses her collection of every nut butter on the market, she invites her friend, Korey, who is allergic to nuts, to come to town for a visit. Go figure!

“The next best thing to sliced bread is peanut butter.” -Lee Zalden, owner of Peanut Butter & Co.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Tortoise & The Hare...

"Slow and steady always gets you where you want to go.” -from The Tortoise & The Hare

Our 20 mile training run yesterday started well for one and all. Nothing unraveled until after approximately 18 miles.

Actually Maria, who wisely opted to run the reservoir twice, finished strong which I didn’t actually see since I (perhaps unwisely) stayed with the B group, who opted out of the 2nd reservoir loop, preferring the flat LG Creek Trail.

Overall, we did okay (though none of us were fast) until around 18 miles. At that point we had a conglomeration of calf pain (not me), abdominal issues (not me), and screaming knee pain (me). So, we looked like a group of hobblers and the running felt like slow motion. Actually it probably didn’t only “feel” like slow motion, I’m afraid it was.

But, still, we finished. Our times garner no bragging rights other than the fact that we accomplished the distance. It was just one of those days where it felt like we won the race simply because we didn’t quit.

But, just like the narrator tells Alexander in Judith Viorst’s children’s classic, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: “Some days are just like that...Even in Australia.”

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” -George Sheehan

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reality Bites...

“No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.” -Elbert Hubbard

It’s hard to come back to reality after one vacation and I pretty much enjoyed two trips in a row: Rancho La Puerta & New York City.

So now it’s payback. The catch up begins. Ah, leaving town always comes at a price.

I’m certainly not complaining though. I feel very blessed to be able to do these fun excursions and I’m grateful Brent’s supportive of our annual girl’s getaway.

Plus, I’m lucky to have friends that I admire enough to travel with annually. Carole told one of her daughters that she should start a traveling group and she liked the idea but isn’t sure she likes her friends enough to spend so much time with them. In fact, we thought it was the ultimate compliment when Carole’s daughter told her that she thinks she might like Carole’s friends more than her own! Score!

And now, back to work (which there is no shortage of around here!).

“No vacation goes unpunished.” -Karl Hakkarainen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Miracle of NYC...

“It is a miracle that New York works at all. The whole thing is implausible.” -E.B. White

When I first came across E. B. White’s book titled “Here is New York,” I was amazed at how well he nailed New York City. Although I shouldn’t have been surprised, E.B. White’s a phenomenal writer, one I’ve loved since childhood (think Charlotte’s Web).

I reread White’s essay this trip to NYC and found it’s still relevant and timely. White understood that the people (the entire mix) are the spirit of New York. Also, White was familiar with being surrounded by 10 million people but still being entirely alone.

“New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute.” -E. B. White

At the end of White’s essay there is an eerie paragraph because while it was written in 1949 describing the nuclear threat, it could easily be about 9/11 and terrorism too. Here is the quote:

“The subtlest change in New York is something people don’t speak much about but that is in everyone’s mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sounds of the jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.” -E. B. White

The whole essay is worth reading. When it was first published, The New Yorker magazine called White’s work “the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.” For me it’s a win/win: I love NYC as well as E. B. White’s writings.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Have Subway, Will Travel...

The New York City Subway system is old and run down but it’s still a pretty amazing way to travel around the city.

We were all over Manhattan yesterday and could never have covered all the territory without access to the subway. From our hotel we rode down to SoHo for breakfast then took the subway to the 9/11 memorial site. You can’t see everything yet; it’s still a work in progress, but it’s coming along. And it’s a touching tribute.

Then we were back on the subway headed to Central Park (location of my favorite morning run). Later on we were back downtown to the East Village (where Abby Beal lives) for great Middle Eastern food and a visit to a piano bar (Maria’s Crisis Cafe) that plays sing-along broadway show tunes (the idea was fun but the crowd wasn’t quite what we were expecting, a rainbow pride part of the village- oh, well). We also got to see the movie, The Help and since we’d all read the book is was fun to compare notes (kind of an improv book group!).

So, thanks to the subway we can traipse around the city starting in midtown and going downtown, uptown and all over again, multiple times in a day. Taxis work too but it’s the rare taxi driver who can/will fit 5 women in their cab so usually it’s easier to hop on the subway.

Today is our last day in New York so it’s sure to be another busy day in the big city!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eendraght Maeckt Maght...

On Saturday we spent a fun time touring Brooklyn with local residents, Mike and Catherine Leavitt. Catherine is Carole Beal’s daughter and she works for Tory Burch corporate in Manhattan. After Catherine earned her MBA from NYU she stayed in New York working in the fashion industry (Vera Wang, Narcisco Rodriguez, Cole Haan before her new stint at Tory Burch).

Brooklyn’s official motto is “Eendraght Maeckt Maght” which is an early dutch spellling for “Unity Makes Strength.” And, after seeing all the ethnic neighborhoods, the motto makes really fits. Brooklyn has always been a magnet for immigrants. We loved seeing the Park Slope neighborhood that Carole’s kids live in, Brooklyn Heights, and the Hasidic Jewish communities in Borough Park (especially since it was their Sabbath).

We also went to the US Open on Saturday for the semifinals. We watched more great tennis and thought we were really living large!

On Sunday at the Manhattan 1st Ward I ran into Susan Patton who had been in our La Jolla Ward over 20 years ago. Bill and Susan Patton’s son, Chris, is an attorney with Cravath Swain and Susan and I both happened to be visiting the same ward on the same Sunday..... serendipity! It was fun to catch up with Susan & the church meetings all focused on 9/11 and were outstanding!

The rest of Sunday was filled with visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then dinner at Sylvia’s in Harlem. Apparently a church member owns Sylvia’s but sorry to say, we weren’t very impressed with the food unless you happen to like soul food.

Listening to a youth speaker, Jason, in Sacrament meeting yesterday talk about his memories of 9/11 as a 6 year old (he’s now 16) was really touching. One thing Jason remembers is his dad spending all day calling ward members because his father was the bishop of their ward at the time. Jason said it was the first time he remembers having feelings of concern for others. He also recalls how everyone in the New York City communities treated each other differently after 9/11.

9/11 is such a senseless tragedy but many good things did come out of bad. Yesterday the city seemed to need all the memorial tributes; it felt like a day of healing for the big apple. The terrorists can kill but they can’t take our spirit.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Just 10 years ago...

It’s poignant to be in New York City for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. There are thousands of articles, in fact, entire magazines devoted to coverage of the events that will take place today all over the nation but especially here in the city.

One article I read a few days ago came from the “On Faith” column in the Washington Post. It was a guest column from our church prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I’ve included much of it below because it’s so well done.

“The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and world.

There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the US rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.

Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.

Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.

But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.

If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years of the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.

The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The US Open..

I’ve only been to Wimbledon in the off season so yesterday at the US Open was my debut into the world of Grand Slam tennis.

We watched two of the men’s quarterfinals matches. First, in blazing heat we watched Andy Murray (#4) beat John Isner (#26) in a match that lasted neared 4 hours. Then, Rafael Nadal (#2) easily beat Andy Roddick (#21) in just over an hour and a half.

This means the semifinals will showcase the world ranked players #1, #2, #3, and #4 since Nadal (#2) and Murray (#4) meet up against each other tomorrow as well as Federer (#3) and Djokovic (#1). Both of these matches should be some amazing tennis to watch!

The US Open is clearly the happening scene in New York in September. Near our seats, albeit in the sky boxes, Michelle Obama was sitting with her daughters and legendary tennis icon Billie Jean King. Wayne Gretzky and his wife were across the court from us. Yes, it seems like everybody who is anybody is at the US Open! :)

I watched the women’s wheelchair doubles and it’s pretty incredible. The same rules apply as regular tennis only the ball can bounce twice. These handicapped women are really impressive!

We may get to return tomorrow night for the women’s semifinals. Everything is backed up because of the rainy week so tickets are all confused. Also, the finals scheduled for Sunday will probably be extended until Monday or Tuesday (but we don’t have tickets for the finals anyway). We did other fun things in the city but the US Open was definitely the highlight of our day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

In New York.....Anything Goes!

Flying coach on Virgin America isn’t bad at all. My nonstop (SFO to JFK) flight yesterday was pretty relaxing. Between this flight and my last Virgin America flight to Boston, it just might be my new favorite airline.

During my flight I reminisced on our first girl’s (apply title liberally since we are now old!)adventure. Logistically the trip was much harder to pull off nineteen years ago! My kids were young (preschool and grade schoolers) so we recruited Brent’s parents to visit Seattle and schlep their three grandkids to school and activities while I went galavanting off on vacation.

How funny that now, instead of recruiting help for Paige, Webb, or Andie, I’ve enlisted Paige to hold down the home fort in my absence. Last week when we left town for Mexico, Paige proved adept at meeting up with the runners, keeping things clean, the cupboards filled, watering the plants, etc. So, initially it was due to Paige (and my other kiddos too but she was the youngest) that I barely pulled off going at all and now it’s due to Paige that I can leave and things stay on course at home.

Our New York hotel isn’t very compelling but who spends any time in their hotel in New York City anyway. Just finding a place to accommodate 5 people in one room is difficult anywhere but nearly impossible in Manhattan. So we have a 2 bedroom suite (think quantity over quality this time).

Last night we saw “Anything Goes,” a Broadway revival of the 1934 Cole Porter musical. Sutton Foster and Joel Grey were the leads and the choreography was amazing. We all loved the show! And today we are off to the US Open...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New York, the Wonder City...

“I think you know that when an American stays away from New York too long something happens to him. Perhaps he becomes a little provincial, a little dead and afraid.” -Sherwood Anderson

I’m off for my annual girl’s trip and this year we are bound for NYC. Carole and Julie are already there; Susan, Ann, and I arrive today!

This is our 19th consecutive trip. It’s pretty remarkable we have pulled these boondoggles off year after year; a credit to good husbands who let us keep going! We think our 20th trip together next year should be big...maybe Paris, France.

But I’m excited that we’ll be in New York City this year, it’s a city I never get tired of. Besides, no matter how many times I go to New York City, I always discover new things to love! So, stay tuned...

“I carry the place around the world in my heart but sometimes I try to shake it off in my dreams. -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For...

In my 1st lesson in the Los Gatos Ward as a new Gospel Doctrine teacher I told the class that I’ve never taught Gospel Doctrine before. After I said it, I remembered later that I have taught Gospel Doctrine one other time...during my freshman year at BYU (which WAS 34 years ago so my memory lapse should be understandable).

But, that was a frightening church calling for me! The BYU ward was filled with freshman girls from my dorm (who weren’t that scary) to lots of return missionaries (who terrified me).

But, looking back, the experience was a good one (despite how nervous I got every single Sunday). I team taught with Kevin Pinegar, who happened to be one of those returned missionaries, and we became great friends.

So, I’m guardedly optimistic about teaching Gospel Doctrine, round 2. I’ve been pretty consistent with scripture study during my Seminary teaching years and it’s a good habit I was worried I might lose without a looming lesson ahead to prepare. Perhaps, my fears triggered this new calling which really will keep me consistent with staying on top of scripture study. So things do have a way of working out for the best.

The quote on charity is one I used in my lesson on 1st Corinthians on Sunday. It’s from an April 1992 General Conference talk by Marvin J. Ashton. I love the whole talk, which is titled: The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


“The ability to feel God’s love doesn’t just make life nicer or more comfortable - it changes everything. When filled with God’s love, we can do and see and understand things that we cannot do and see and understand on our own. As our own hearts are softened by these blessings, our overriding desire becomes to help others experience this joy also.” -Virginia Hinckley Pearce

I tend to err on the cautious side relative to bearing my testimony in public settings. Since the Los Gatos Ward had ample opportunities to hear from Brent, as the Bishop, it made me somewhat reluctant to take more than our family’s share of allotted time.

Besides, I generally prefer to listen versus speak. But, I also find by not doing something regularly I get out of the habit. And, I have enough bad habits to know that I should dearly hang onto or foster any good habits that I can.

So, needless to say, I didn’t stand up during our Fast and Testimony meeting on Sunday at church (one more month that goes by without taking the opportunity to get out of my habit of not getting up!)

And, although it’s incredibly simple, my testimony is strong. I’m so grateful for the gospel in my life! It’s been a huge blessing in every regard. It gives me opportunities to serve, it gives me opportunities to stretch outside my comfort zone (think scary callings like Gospel Doctrine teacher), it gives me opportunities to be surrounded by a ward family of saints who impress and inspire me by their kindness and goodness.

To borrow from the Relief Society Theme: “We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.”

So, it is my “testimonial" of sorts that living the gospel really does give my life more meaning, it gives my life a sense of purpose, and points me in the right direction by guiding me to make good choices. Or, as Sister Pearce puts it so nicely in the quote above, “feeling God’s love, changes everything!” For me, this concept isn’t just mumbo jumbo, it’s real. It has changed my life and I’ll always be grateful!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Lululemon Educator...

In the spirit of Labor Day (celebrating work), I thought I’d comment on Paige’s new “labor” since she was hired in August as a Lululemon Educator.

Paige’s early interest in the company may have been mostly about the perks (can you blame her?), but it seems like the corporate culture is going to provide for good learning experiences too.

But, back to the perks: yes, Paige will get some great discounts! In fact, Lululemon may be one of those jobs where it’s easy to spend your entire paycheck on merchandise.

In addition to good deals on athletic clothing Paige also gets to attend classes at a bunch of yoga studios for free. Lululemon want their “educators” (aka employees) to wear the gear, try it out, and get it seen in the right scenes (ie. the gyms, etc.). Hence, the company pays for Paige to go to fitness related classes at the company’s expense (now that’s a pretty slick arrangement).

During training, Paige has been impressed by Lululemon’s interest in getting their employees to set goals and to strive to be their very best. When Lululemon opened their first store in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1998 the original slogan was “to elevate the world from medocrity to greatness.” Today the mission statement has evolved to “create components for people to live long, healthy, and fun lives.”

Lululemon Athletica has 7 core values (hey, kind of like the YW Values; although YW's now has 8 since they added Virtue). The educators (that would be Paige) at the company are expected to articulate and embody these values, which are: Quality, Product, Integrity, Balance, Entrepreneurship, Greatness, and Fun. My personal favorites of the Lulu values would have to be balance and integrity.

One last thing I love about the company is the Lululemon Manifesto. The manifesto is inspirational thoughts that are printed on their shopping bags. It’s too long to list all of the maxims but I’ll wrap up my Labor Day blog by posting a couple of my favorite Lululemon quotes below:

“The conscious brain can only hold one thought at a time. Choose a positive thought.”

“Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.”

“Listen, listen, listen, and then ask strategic questions.” from the Lululemon Manifesto

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gidget Goes to Rancho...

“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.” -Rumi

We spent 4 days in Rancho La Puerta but when we met Gidget she’d been at the ranch for 4 weeks! It’s an awesome place, nothing like I’d ever experienced before, but as cool as the fitness spa is, I don’t think I could stay for a month like Gidget.

The resort has won the top destination spa several years in a row. Multiple classes start on the hour every hour for the entire day. Between Brent and I (some together, some separate) we took classes in Pilates, the Bar Method, Yoga, Meditation, Foam Rollers, Circuit Training, Spinning, Cardio Workouts, Organic Gardens, Writing, Sleeping, Fasting, Walking the Labyrinth, Reflexology, Feldenkrais, Cycling, Poetry Readings, Stretching, and Group Hikes.

Spa treatments of all kinds are available anytime. We both had one massage but Gidget had a full spa regimen daily; she was quite a character!

The food is incredible; vegetarian and everything is organically grown. Healthy eating but still delicious! Although Gidget had to take a cab to Tecate for a cheeseburger one night.

Rancho felt like a summer camp for grown-ups, albeit a fancy schmancy camp to be sure. And despite all the non-stop activity, we still had a pretty relaxing time. Everyone on the staff is helpful and the guests were all friendly. There’s just a great vibe generally throughout the whole ranch.

We got a big kick out of Gidget who basically abandoned her family for a month to recharge her spirit. Her husband, who happens to be one of the owners of the Texas Rangers Baseball team, had to fly over to reclaim Gidget, who finally seemed willing to face life and the world again and they headed back to Dallas.

It seems like women are more typical spa goers, we heard the male to female ratio is often about 10 to 1! Yes, Brent was quite outnumbered!

The only celebrity we saw was Mariel Hemingway (actress and granddaughter of writer Ernest Hemingway). Actually there could have been others since we often don’t recognize movie stars.

Overall, Rancho La Puerta was a great adventure! We might have to return with the whole family sometime!