Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Introduction to Poetry...

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against it’s hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
-Billy Collins

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Solomon Asch on Peer Pressure...

Psychologist Soloman Asch is best known for his research on conformity. One of his best known studies showed that social pressure can make a person say something that is obviously incorrect.

Subjects were told that they would be taking part in a vision test, along with a handful of other people in the room. The participants were shown pictures and asked to answer very simple and obvious questions.

The catch was that everybody else in the room other than the subject was in on the study. They had been told to give obviously wrong answers.

Asch wanted to see whether the subject of the experiment would go against the crowd, even when the crowd was clearly wrong. All the subject had to do was say which line on the right matched the one on the left (see picture). In other words, it would be hard to get the question wrong.

But 32% of the subjects would answer incorrectly if they saw that three others in the classroom gave the same wrong answer.

Sadly, the 32% figure would probably rise more with answers that are even less black and white. And I must confess that I’ve been known to doubt my own opinion when it seems to be different from the opinion of everyone around me.

It definitely makes for a very interesting study!

“That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong... is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.” -Solomon Asch

Monday, November 28, 2011

Good Intentions!

Alas, I often feel like I’m the Queen of Good Intentions!

At church I hear a good talk and I ‘intend' to send the speaker a note (and the stationary sits unused).

At Costco I buy vitamins because I ‘intend' to take better care of my health (and the pantry is filled with purchased but untaken products).

I make resolutions. I make goals. I ‘intend' to keep them all. But all too often, they’re aborted midway.

If I could just figure out the disconnect between my good intentions and my less than stellar implementation, I’d be able to make some great progress!

“If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.” -William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Newest Member of the PCG family...

“Some people have got advice,
Some people have got horror stories.
I like people that look you in the eye with a glow and say “It’s gonna be cool.” -Russell Crowe’s comment regarding having babies

Brian and Daphne had a baby boy the day after Thanksgiving. Perfect timing for a baby that it took a few miracles to bring this child to join our planet.

With the arrival of Ian Augustus Smith it looks like the PCG family grows larger by the day. Brent was ecstatic that everything went well for the labor and delivery. It’s been quite a journey for the Smiths.

Brian and Daphne will be wonderful parents. In fact, all of these new PCG parents are cute parents! It’s fun to vicariously experience babies again with the new bumper crop of PCG employees starting their families. 2011 was definitely a high volume year for PCG baby arrivals. I think Ian might be the sixth (if you include Stacy’s daughter, Sadie). Congrats and a warm welcome to baby Ian!

“It was the tiniest thing I ever decided to put my whole life into.” -Terri Guillemets

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bad Behavior...

Bad Parrot

A young man named John received a beautiful talking parrot as a gift. However, the parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Paige & the Turkey Trotters....

The annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot has become a fairly new family tradition. I think this was the fourth year we've had Knudsen runners traipsing through downtown San Jose. Last year we had 100% family participation but this year the guys football mash up trumped the run for the men folk.

But even without Brent, Webb, and Ernie the turkey trot still had 21,000 race participants. Out of which, Paige Knudsen took 5th place Woman Overall and 1st Place in her Age Group! Woo Hoo Paigey!

We are sure Paige has won something but we didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony so hopefully they’ll mail her the trophy/prize money, etc. We couldn’t lounge around at the grandstand waiting since our Thanksgiving feast preparation needed to get underway.

Paige was joined by a bunch of her fellow Lululemon employees (most ran the 5K though) and Andie and I ran a hybrid of a 10K/5K combo. It does feel good to get in a decent run before the feasting begins. For every five miles we can add another piece of pumpkin pie to our plates, right?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude...a feeling that nurtures the soul!

“Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted - a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” -Rabbi Harold Kushner.

I love Rabbi Kushner! For me he is a little like a C.S. Lewis but of the Jewish faith (kind of how as Mormons we tend to quote C.S. Lewis incessantly, I do the same with Kushner and have read all of his books). As the author of the bestseller, “When Bad Things Happen To Good People,” Rabbi Kushner always has thoughtful and thought-provoking things to say. And, I love the sentiment that gratitude is a feeling that nurtures that soul (beautifully put and absolutely true!).

So, we’ve just returned from the annual Turkey Trot and I couldn’t blog earlier because our internet was down. And now the feast preparations begin. I’m grateful we’ll get to enjoy Thanksgiving with the Holland family again this year. It’s sad that last year was Carol Holland’s last Thanksgiving and we’ll definitely miss missionary Hermana Holland again too. But Alex is home from BYU and Webb drove up last night. So, it looks like the day should be filled with family, good friends and fun times.

I hope I can always be thankful for the small daily things in life that bring me joy. I’m grateful and fortunate I have these little things in abundance. Actually it’s stated better by the well known psychologist, Abraham Maslow, so I’ll close with his lines below...

“Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” -Abraham Maslow

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Wilt Heden Nu Treden”

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing...” -Theodore Baker

In 1894, Theodore Baker translated the Dutch hymn, “Wilt Heden Nu Treden” written by Andrianus Valerius in 1597, to the English version “We Gather Together.” And in our LDS Hymn book it’s called “Prayer of Thanksgiving.”

It’s a tie for my favorite Thanksgiving hymn. My other favorite is “For the Beauty of the Earth” and when this is sung by The Lower Lights it might even win out.

But I loved singing “We Gather Together” last night as we were truly gathered together with the Los Gatos community at the annual Interfaith Service.

This year our ward was the hosts so it was held in our Rose Avenue Chapel. The Los Gatos Interfaith community brings together the faith traditions of nine different congregations. Represented last night were leaders (pastors, ministers, rabbi’s, etc.) and congregants of the Shir Hadash temple, the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Unitarian church, the Baha’i Faith, and our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

There is always such a great spirit at the Interfaith Service. It’s a nice tradition. Originally I attended out of obligation, feeling like I should support it, but it only took a time or two to find that I really enjoy it. There’s a nice camaraderie among everyone and a really nice spirit of community and thanksgiving.

“We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant, And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let they congregation escape tribulation; Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free.” -3rd verse, Prayer of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beware the Sophist...

“The sophist, who is often a carrier of cleverness, is really an intellectual guerrilla, a forlorn man without a country who draws his delight and satisfaction from the process of verbal combat and encounter itself; he does not seek resolution, but disruption.

He has no homeland and, therefore, seeks always to fight his battles on the home front of the believer. The sophist has nothing to defend. He takes no real risks because he believes in nothing.

Perhaps, in a strange and twisted way, he wants to create anomy and drift by using the sword of speciousness to cut other men away from the central things that anchor them."

In case you don’t recognize the quote by the verbiage, it’s by the late (and greatly admired) Apostle Neal A. Maxwell. I don’t mean verbiage in a negative (too wordy) connotation but more for the technical writing. Elder Maxwell’s a gifted writer but sometimes people (okay, me) have to read through Maxwell a couple of times to make complete sense of all the meaning. But I think he’s a amazing writer and a spiritual giant (and dearly missed).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Life is Good!

When J. K. Rowling spoke at Harvard's Commencement in 2008, her parting words were from the Roman philosopher Seneca:
"As is a tale, so is life:
not how long it is,
but how good it is,
is what matters."

I ditto Rowling’s endorsement of Seneca’s wisdom. One of the first quotes I ever memorized was the simple “A day is as good as you make it” verse. My mom taught me the line and eventually made me do a needlepoint “A Day is as Good as you Make It” that is still up in her kitchen, forty(ish) years later.

So, yes, I’m a big believer in the the Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning) line of thought that goes like this: “The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”

We really do have control over our days and whether they are good or not so good. We can choose our attitude even in the darkest of days.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cute Cousins...

We may come from Mormon stock but not the most prolific. 8 cousins is fairly small compared to lots of families. And 8 refers to both sides. There are only 2 cousins (Madison and TJ) from the paternal (Brent’s) side and 6 from my side.

On my side of the family I am the only sibling who delivered male and female children. My oldest sister, Lisa, has 3 boys, then my sister, Marianne, has 2 girls, and my little brother adopted 1 girl.

This adorable photo (at least I think it’s pretty cute!) from 1989 shows 7 (my 3 and 4 cousins) of the 9 maternal grandkids (Alex and Haley are missing since they weren’t born!) At the time this photo was taken our family had the oldest cousin (Andie) and the youngest one too (Paige).

I love this picture because Lisa and I were actually able to dress our boys in matching pink shirts, hot pink bow ties, white suspenders, and white pants. This was because they were around 4 and 5 years old (Andrew, Webb, and Eric). Give them another year or two and these goofballs wouldn’t be caught dead in pink bow ties! Luckily we caught a photo before that narrow window closed.

I’ve also got a great picture of this crew in our big master bath jacuzzi, all stark naked with bubble baths beards. I’ve hung onto that photo just in case I ever need to blackmail any of them!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sister Hatch & Sister Lisonbee...

Julia Hatch’s Art Show wasn’t the only attraction in town this week. Recently returned missionary, Angie Hatch, and her also recently returned mission companion, Courtney Lisonbee, stayed in the Knudsen basement keeping Paige company this week.

It was fun to have the Sister Missionaries around. They served in the New Hampshire mission and they've only been home 12 weeks (Angie) and 6 weeks (Courtney). So they are both fresh returnees, missing New England and all things missionary. And they are darling girls!

When Amber Menasco walked into the house after our Wednesday run/walk, Courtney recognized her but it took a minute to process. And it turns out that Amber had taught at the Missionary Training Center when Courtney was at the MTC. Typical. The missionary world generally has that six-degrees-of-separation, Kevin Bacon theory at work. But often it’s more like one or two degrees with Mormon missionaries! There is also a kind of a mission language sister missionaries speak that is only understood by their kin. They’re not trying to be exclusive, it’s just goes with the territory.

We really enjoyed having these cute girls pop in and out of the house between their adventures around the bay area. They were having a hard time getting used to calling each other by their first names, so half the time we all just called them Sister Hatch and Sister Lisonbee.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The True Artists....

“Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort.

If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass. -Fran Lebowitz

When it comes to art, I have a good eye but zero talent. So, I’m best to follow the advice above and stick with hobbies like eating and let my talented friends do the painting and photography and such.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday nights with Julia Hatch, one of my gifted artist friend’s! Julia’s got an Art Show at the Hunter/Peterson home and some of the Hunter crew is also selling jewelry.

Most of Julia’s pieces are oil or acrylic on canvas but she’s got an assortment of sizes, themes, and color palettes to chose from. I found a cool geometric piece with my name on it :) It’s unusual for something from Julia’s portfolio, kind of more my style than hers. And I love Julia’s title for the piece I’ve just acquired: “Line Upon Line.” A nice scripture reference to my new art.

It’s a bit intimidating to be around my friends that are bona fide true artists. Julia with her paintbrush, Anita with her camera, Vicki with her knitting needles, Linda with her sewing machine, etc. I can’t compete but I do admire their gifts and talents! Maybe my talent is simply art appreciation. That, and a talent for finding truly talented friends!

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way - things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keefe

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Words For It...

Words For It -by Julia Cameron

I wish I could take language
And fold it like cool, moist rags.
I would lay words on your forehead.
I would wrap words on your wrists.
“There, there, my words would say -
Or something better.
I would ask them to murmur,
“Hush,” and “Shh, shhh, it’s all right.”
I would ask them to hold you all night.

I wish I could take language
And daub and soothe and cool
Where fever turns yourself against you.
I wish I could take language
And heal the words that were the wounds
You have no names for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"You Live In My Head!"

Christian comedian Anita Renfroe has lots of great stories about raising her three children. Renfroe is the woman who sings “Momisms” to the William Tell Overture.

Anyway, when her children would leave for college she had a classic speech wherein she’d give all those reminders she’d been rattling off for years: respect authority, treat others with kindness, use your manners, stay with a buddy, etc. etc. Her speech covered all the nitty gritty details.

When her youngest son went off to college she was busy giving him the usual lecture, reminding him of all the responsibilities he’d have and the need to prioritize his schedule and so on.

As she blathered on, her son stopped her. “Mom,” he told her. “You don’t have to worry about this. You may not know it, but you live in my head!”

I think that just might be every mother’s greatest desire! That we live in the heads of our kids; saying, “no, don’t do that” in the face of danger or “give it a try” in times they need to be encouraged, etc.

It might be the last thing that children want but I’m hoping that mine will all have moments of clarity when the inside of their head can just imagine I’m saying something like “don’t even think about it!”

Yes, that would pretty much be a dream come true! As long as they listen to the voice, that is!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Listening to the Spirit...

"We do not not know the future, but our Father in Heaven does, and he will lead and guide us if we let Him. When we are in tune with the Spirit, we will see many small miracles happen in our lives.

I have found that having the ability to see and recognize these small miracles is based upon my spiritual worthiness, my willingness to be obedient, and my desire to not allow myself to become complacent and caught up in worldly and personal pursuits." -Ronald T. Halverson, Ensign, August 2007.

Recognizing the small miracles that can happen in our lives when we follow the spirit is a rich blessing. I’m grateful that I’ve always felt drawn to things of beauty and to people who inspire.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stake President...

“The experience of calling a stake president is always the same, and it is always different.” -Elder Neil L. Anderson

Elder Anderson’s quote above comes from a great article called “The Spiritual Gifts Given the Stake President” in the December 2009 Ensign magazine.

The experience is always the same because two General Authorities sent to reorganize a stake feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to receive the same inspiration before the calling is extended. The Spirit of the Lord accompanies them and confirms the selection process.

The experience is always different because the man called varies from stake to stake; in age, leadership, education, abilities, etc.

When Elder Higham and Elder Wilson reorganized the Saratoga Stake over the weekend their experience was probably similar to other times for them. But it was radically different for our family since the new Saratoga Stake President is Dad/Brent.

Brent has large shoes to fill since President Hodgman has done a wonderful job leading the saints in the Saratoga Stake for the past nine years. While President Hodgman may be vying for a coveted position in the Primary now, he’ll always feel like “President” Hodgman to me. I still think of John Ludwig as President Ludwig so the title just seems to stick.

It was a weekend of spiritually tender moments which I’m sure I’ll write more blog posts about here and there. But, I’m happy for Brent to have the opportunity to serve. He loves to be busy and I think spending time on church service beats hobbies in terms of growth and development.

And what is my role in all of this? Well, for one thing, I felt compelled to remind the stake members that Brent isn’t perfect. Most people who’ve worked with him already know this but I didn’t want anyone too surprised if Brent nods off accidentally in a meeting or calls them by the wrong name, etc. Like all of us, he’s human (even if he thinks he’s cornered the market on an endless supply of energy). So, superpowers notwithstanding, Brent's human albeit a really hard working human.

Now that I’ve forewarned the stake members not to expect perfection, my next self appointed duty is to keep Brent grounded and make sure hearing the “president” title doesn’t go to his head. There are definitely some accolades that go along with the job and he’ll deserve all the thanks and appreciation. But when all is said and done, there is a lot to be said about humility whether you’re a stake president or a nursery leader.

“The president of the stake is the officer called under revelation to stand between the bishops of wards and the General Authorities of the Church. He is trained by the General Authorities, and in turn he trains the bishops.” - President Gordon B. Hinckley

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Putting Scripture On Our Hearts....

"There's a lovely Hasidic story of a Rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?" The Rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your heart breaks, the holy words will fall inside." -Anne Lamott

I love this story!

There are several things I adore about it but I especially like the idea that when we read, study and learn the scriptures they will rest upon our heart. And, when our hearts are troubled we can find comfort in those scriptures we've come to know.

Having opportunities to teach from the scriptures in Seminary and now in Gospel Doctrine has been a great blessing in my life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Good Life...

I’m working on a paper on Carl Rogers, one of the most influential American psychologists. It’s funny to learn that Rogers lived in La Jolla and passed away in 1987, while we were also living in La Jolla, but I don’t remember ever reading about his death. I guess I was too obsessed with the other famous neighbor that lived in La Jolla, none other than Dr. Seuss himself!

Actually Carl Rogers and Dr. Seuss probably knew each other. It was probably me that wasn't in the loop, or the in-crowd with high society La Jolla. But, soon enough, I’ll be an expert on Dr. Rogers too (in addition to my wealth of Seussian knowledge).

“I believe it will become evident why, for me, adjectives such as happy, contented, blissful, enjoyable, do not seem quite appropriate to any general description of this process I have called the good life, even though the person in this process would experience each one of these at the appropriate times.

But adjectives which seem more generally fitting are adjectives such as enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, meaningful.

This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be.

It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. Yet the deeply exciting things about human beings is that when the individual is inwardly free, he chooses as the good life this process of becoming. -Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person

Friday, November 11, 2011

Non Disputandum de Gustibus

Non Disputandum de Gustibus!(sometimes written as Gustibus non disputandum)

Either which way it's written or said, this is one of my favorite Latin phrases! Not that I know a ton (of Latin phrases, that is).

I learned the phrase from a stern literature professor at the University of Utah, Dr. Clarke. Basically it means "there is no disputing tastes!"

If you like Chocolate and I prefer Caramel, we can argue until the cows come home but our preferences won't change!

So, when it comes to opinions based on preference, there is little point in arguing my case. But, for the record, I do prefer caramel, especially Scotch Kisses from See’s Candies!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monitoring the Heart...

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."

-C.S. Lewis

Another powerful C. S. Lewis quote. Opening our hearts to love definitely makes us vulnerable. But it still sounds better than the alternative to me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Solvitur Ambulando...

"Solvitur Ambulando" ("It is solved by walking")

The old adage, Solvitur Ambulando, comes from the wandering scholars of medieval Europe. In the sixth century B.C., the Indian saint Mahavira is said to have received enlightenment while walking.

Walking does bring a sense of heightened awareness of the world. Walking can awaken a childlike sense of wonder at the world around us.

Paige has become quite the walker, all over the town of Los Gatos. As she studied for the GRE she’d walk around to review her flashcards. Or while she’s talking on the phone.

A Jain nun said: "This wandering life, with no material possessions, unlocks our souls. There is a wonderful sense of lightness, living each day as it comes."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An American in Armenia...

“Why can’t he understand us?”

Elder Olsen has arrived in Armenia! He said the one phrase he understands best is: “Why can’t he understand us” since it’s the line he hears the most often! :)

Alex says the language is coming slowly and he can’t understand very much of what the Armenians are saying. Yet. He knows it will just take time. But He feels fairly proficient conversing about the gospel.

His first area to serve is Gyumri, an area hit hard by the earthquakes. The people are extremely poor and humble. The members in Gyumri are small in number but strong in spirit.

President Carter is Alex’s mission president and he sent a really great letter to Lisa and Bruce. The mission home, according to Alex, is really nice! It’s in Yerevan, the largest city in Armenia.

I love to read Alex’s emails. He’s got such a positive attitude and is so excited to serve and love the people of Armenia. He knows how much the gospel can help these investigators. Getting his weekly emails will definitely be a highlight of my week!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A late blooming risk taker...

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anais Nin

I'm generally risk adverse. I don't write that with pride because I’ve definitely missed opportunities along the way due to fears of failure or inadequacy.

However, I'm finally reaching a ripe old age that I don't care as much if I flop. So, perhaps I'm actually figuring out how to "chalk it up for experience" and worry less about getting it perfect.

When I graduated with my bachelors degree I always assumed I'd continue schooling at some point. But, "some point” became a moving target.

Whenever life started to feel settled, something would come along and I'd put graduate school plans on the back burner. Initially it was pregnancy (Andie was a wonderful surprise, just earlier than expected). Sometimes, it was moves; east to west coast, southern cal to the pacific northwest, and finally bay area bound. Sometimes it was church callings or commitments that felt almost like full time volunteer work.

Needless to say, the timing finally felt right to return to school. And I’m grateful to be back. I really enjoy it, even if I am an extremely late bloomer.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? ‘is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be

The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm Pretty Much Always Happy; Except When I'm Not.

"Life's Been Good to Me So Far." -rocker Joe Walsh from the Eagles

I’ve had a great life! Not that I'm expecting life to end anytime soon(knock on wood). But every now and then it's probably good to step back and take stock. And for the majority of my days on earth I’ve been content and I’ve felt extraordinarily blessed!

One funny thing (ironic funny more than haha) about the picture to the left is that my life has been pretty "average" yet it has also been "memorable." Maybe not memorable in celebrity status or drama or major accomplishments but memorable for me.

I guess I don't necessarily see "average" and "memorable" as different paths. But I do understand the context they are trying to show in the picture. Lately, I just feel very blessed to be back in school and learning. It feels good (even if it’s a little overwhelming). And while I’m just another average student in the class, the classes are still memorable. Life’s good!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The ABC's of Elections.....

We used to sing the ABC song with Emily Bryan nonstop in the car. The CD is still in the car and it came on yesterday and brought back memories.

Emily's earliest version went A, B, C, D, L, M, N, O, P (she got totally tripped up by E, F and G). Now she has it all down from A to Z.

But Emily's incomplete rendition used to remind me of my campaign in high school when I ran for HAW Secretary (Highland Associated Women). This was back in the dark ages when high school elections were big Productions! There were primaries and finals; we enlisted campaign managers, made fancy posters, badges, and put on skits at assemblies. Getting elected was no small feat!

I was running for Secretary and two close friends were running for President and Vice President (Linda and Kim) so it would be terrible for all of us if one of us lost! Added pressure!

Fortunately, we were all elected and I probably owe my victory to the ABC song. My slogan was basically a customized ABC song with a Sesame Street theme. I even dressed up like Big Bird for the assembly. And since most people know how much I hate to wear costumes, that just goes to show you how muchI wanted to win.

Try this out: "A, B, C, D, E, F, G... H, I, J, K... U, M, P. Now I know my ABC's...tell me that you'll vote for me." The amazing thing is how well my last name (maiden name Kump) fit into the song! Like it was meant to be!

When Emily gets a little older I’ll teach her my campaign version of the A,B,C’s.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On...

I like the story below that was originally told by the Dahlia Lama. It’s a good one to remember whenever I think events in the world are conspiring against me.

In fact, accepting problems as a natural fact of human existence can definitely help reduce agitation and negative emotion.

"One morning 2 men were driving to an important business meeting, and they were running late. On the way to the meeting they got a flat tire.

Needless to say, the passenger got really upset about this but he noticed the driver remained completely calm and undisturbed by the situation, and immediately just set about changing the tire.

As they were changing the tire, the passenger became more agitated, but the driver just kept working, still totally unflustered. So, finally the passenger couldn't help but ask, "We're going to be so late, how can you be so calm about this?" And almost cheerfully, the driver answered, "This is number 3!"

The passenger asked him to explain, and he said, "Many years ago, when I first started to drive, I read a statistic giving the average number of flat tires that motorists will have during their driving years. So, right then I just decided to expect my fair share of flat tires, which by the way still has not reached the average, and at the same time I realized that no matter when or where I got my blow-outs, I could be sure that when it happened it would never be convenient.

I figured that was just part of the normal costs of having the convenience of driving, like paying for gas or oil. So, this is just one of my fair share of flats, that's all." -story told by the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our Circle of Influence!

Cartoonist Scott Adams (Dilbert) said: "You don't have to be a "person of influence" to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they've taught me."

Our Circle of Influence is wide! Whether we admit it or not, everyone we come in contact with may be influenced for the better or the worse because of us. I really do believe this!

I was especially aware of this phenomena teaching youth. While we are all influenced by others throughout life, teens are forming their identity and look to others for validation. I’m sure I’m not always a positive influence, but I’m aware that youth take notice so at least I try not to be negative.

Sadly, like the Dilbert cartoonist, many who have influenced me are likely unaware of the impact they have had on me. I should be better about expressing my thanks. I’m really lucky to have had so many people in my life that inspire me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dearth of Trick or Treaters....

2011 was a low point for Trick or Treaters canvasing Alpine Avenue!

We’ve never had droves of kids in costumes come by. The houses are just too far apart to acquire a maximum candy haul.

So, the smart and clever kids (pretty much all the ones in Los Gatos) stick to 3 neighborhoods: Tait Avenue, Johnson Avenue and the Manor.

Tait Avenue gets ridiculous busloads of kids and the home owners basically don’t leave their doorstep all evening.

Johnson Avenue is only a block away from Alpine but the kids go up and down Johnson without venturing over to Alpine. What gives? One year I even gave full size candy bars! The Manor has homes closer together and a festive neighborhood feeling so lots of kids head over there for trick or treating.

This year I only had about a dozen trick or treaters. In total the doorbell rang 3 times (an all time low). So now I’ve got a stash of fun size candy bars around that I don’t want. Fortunately, most of them are chocolate so I’m not very tempted. I avoided buying PayDay just in case (I like those).

So, it was a bit of a depressing Halloween! I spent most of the day writing two school papers. But at least we didn’t get pelted by a snowstorm like the Northeast! It could always be worse!