Tuesday, January 31, 2012

PCG: Parties, Contests, Games...

PCG officially stands for Partnership Capital Growth but we know what really goes on at the office:

PCG employees are hard workers but they also like to have fun. And, apparently, they like to celebrate too. 2011 was a good year at the office so here’s a photo of Brent handing out a few end-of-the-year prizes.

I’m not sure if the PCG employees realize how lucky they’ve got it. Brent’s a pretty good boss; hopefully not a complete pushover, but as long as people get their work done, he’s flexible and extremely generous.

There’s definitely a culture with most companies; sort of a vibe or aura of the office. When hiring new people the PCG crew likes to look at more than just qualifications. The applicant needs to be a good fit for the company culture too.

PCG is in it’s 6th year and while the company has had to let a few people go, so far only one employee has quit; clearly a mis-hire. I mean, if you think about it, why would anyone want to leave a working environment that celebrates productivity with parties, contests, and games?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Nephi’s Courage...

"The Lord commanded Nephi to go and get the plates
From the wicked Laban inside the city gates.
Laman and Lemuel were both afraid to try.
Nephi was courageous. This was his reply:

I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.
I will go; I will do the things the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.

The Lord commanded Nephi to go and build a boat.
Nephi’s older brothers believed it would not float.
Laughing and mocking, they said he should not try.
Nephi was courageous. This was his reply:

I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.
I will go; I will do the things the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.

The Lord gives us commandments and asks us to obey.
Sometimes I am tempted to choose another way.
When I am discouraged, and think I cannot try,
I will be courageous, and I will reply:

I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.
I will go; I will do the things the Lord commands.
I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey." - words and music by Wilford N. Hansen, Jr. and Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen, 1986

Yesterday’s Gospel Doctrine lesson zeroed in on some of Nephi’s best character traits. Nephi was faithful, he was obedient, optimistic, resilient, and over and over again, Nephi showed he was courageous!

I love this Primary song so I had to incorporate it into the lesson. I figure if I keep adding children’s things into the lessons the worst thing that can happen is they’ll bounce me out of teaching adults and right into Primary. That just might be a better fit for my skill set anyway.

But, as always, I’m sure I learned more than anyone else in the class. And that’s the best plus to teaching adults. The fact that adults can make some great comments (the youth can too, as in, they are able, they just don’t!). Anyway, I need to let more discussion take place during sunday school since discussion is usually the best part of class.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

We attended a fun Chinese New Year celebration last night hosted by the Saratoga Stake Chinese Branch.

We feasted on all sorts of Asian treats (an entire buffet spread!), enjoyed a program and learned a little more about the festival festivities. Incase you don’t understand all the excitement around Chinese New Year, I’ll give you a little rundown below.

According to legend, Chinese New Year began with the mythical beast Nian. Nian came on the first day of the New Year and ate livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. Yikes!

So, to protect themselves, the villagers put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. Villagers believed that once Nian ate the food they prepared, the beast wouldn’t attack any more people. Then one year, people noticed Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. So, the villagers decided that Nian must be afraid of the color red.

After this discovery, every time the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. Firecrackers were used to frighten Nian away. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. And the legend claims that Nian was eventually captured by an ancient Taoist monk.

I also (relearned) that I was born in the Year of the Pig and Brent was born in the Year of the Monkey. We’ve obviously known this before but we are both always forgetting. I can see why I forget my Chinese zodiac sign; who wants to be the Year of the Pig? But, for Brent it’s perfect; the Year of the Monkey is the closest the Chinese zodiac signs come to a gorilla (Brent’s favorite!).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Areas of Expertise...

I’ve got my first Stats test on Tuesday. It could be a disaster but I am so grateful for fellow students! I’m in a study group that met yesterday and my cohorts were so gracious. They basically gave me free tutoring!

Also, in our class last Tuesday, someone was complaining about the credibility of some research and our professor threw out the “lies, damned lies, and statistics” quote and asked if anyone knew who coined that phrase.

Ah, my first chance to answer a question in class with confidence (finally!), so I belted out “Mark Twain” to which one of the guys retorted “of course our English major would know that!”

Quite frankly, it was awesome! I might look like an idiot in the stats arena but if we can talk literature, well, then I can hold my own. Plus, it looks like I’m becoming known around the program as “the English major” which might be a compliment or a diss depending on the context.

I guess it just goes to show you that we all have our areas of expertise! And, stats, while I’d love to breeze through my first test, is clearly not mine!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Key to Greatness....

“Let us remember, too, that greatness is not always a matter of the scale of one’s life, but of the quality of one’s life.

True greatness is not always tied to the scope of our tasks, but to the quality of how we carry out our tasks whatever they are.

In that attitude, let us give our time, ourselves, and our talents to the things that really matter now, things which will still matter a thousand years from now.” -President Spencer W. Kimball, A Gift of Gratitude

Brent sent this quote to the family and it immediately resonated with me. It reminds me of the famous Mother Theresa line that “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” Or, the recent advice from President Uchtdorf to focus on “the things that matter most.” (October 2010 General Conference)

It’s easy for me to read these wonderful quotes and endorse them all. Truly believing them though, to the point I govern choices in my life by them, is a little harder to do. Harder, but still important! As well as the key to greatness!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"You Look Gorgeous!"

A beware to my daughters: I may have found a new fashion consultant. However, there are some pros and cons I still need to weigh.

In the past I’ve let my girls (and certainly Webb too if he has an opinion) do the job of apparel approval. If we are shopping, I’ll try on clothes and wait for their reaction. If I don’t get a hearty endorsement, I rarely make the purchase. Just rolling their eyes can speak volumes. They can be ruthlessly honest, but I’m a little inept at calling it when it comes to style, so it’s probably for the best.

But, yesterday, I was watching Natalie Barth and since I needed to pick up a baby gift I stopped at Nordstrom. En route to the infant department I found a sweater I liked for myself so Natalie accompanied me to the dressing room to try it on.

The instant the sweater was on, Natalie gushed “You look gorgeous!” quickly followed by “You look absolutely beautiful!” Her praise was so loud anyone remotely nearby could hear and so effusive I nearly fell for it too. I have to admit, it was flattering. No one, especially not my inner voice, has spoken such praise from the dressing room walls.

Except, right as I was taking in the glory, I looked in the mirror and realized that Natalie was just emoting. She’s a smart girl but a novice on appearance. Because I did not look gorgeous, in fact, the sweater looked terrible. So, I saved my money, put the sweater back on the rack and proceeded to find the baby gift (which Natalie also heartily endorsed this so I think she was bullish on anything really).

So, the plus to taking Natalie as my shopping companion is hearing I’m gorgeous. However, I’ll probably save more money by keeping my girls enlisted to help me weed out unflattering clothes. They may not boost my ego but they’ve saved me from buyer’s remorse dozens of times. Maybe the best plan of all is to take my girls and Natalie too! Now there’s a win-win shopping plan!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Thick of Thin Things....

"We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we're doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the "thick of thin things." In other words, too often, we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes." Thomas S. Monson, November 2009 Ensign

I like this quote! It’s just a good reminder to be mindful of what we are immersing ourselves in on a daily basis. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the things that don’t matter at the expense of things that really do.

Even the scriptures caution us that we’re losing the spirit in our lives when important things become unimportant and trivial things are suddenly of great importance to us.

It’s a nice combination to have it in scripture but also reiterated by our prophet. I’m grateful for both!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Being Yourself...

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde

When I asked a girl in my grad school program about her holidays she sighed with relief about them being over. “Now," she noted about getting away from her dysfunctional and troubled family, "she could finally be herself again."

It’s kind of a bummer that sometimes people feel like they can’t be themselves around others whether that is their family or other groups.

But, just as I’ve been thinking about “being yourself,” Deborah Anderson happened to share a scripture in Relief Society that made me think about a corollary; do we sometimes “oppose” ourselves?

Deborah pointed out a favorite verse of hers found in 2nd Timothy 2:24-26: 24. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26. And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

It looks like we need to be more than just ourselves. We need to be careful we aren’t “opposing ourselves.” Lest ourselves need to be recovered!

Ultimately, we need to be our very best selves! And, in line with Oscar Wilde’s sentiment, that is clearly something that nobody else can do!

Monday, January 23, 2012

These BOOTS were made for walking...

“These boots were made for walking,
And that’s just what they’ll do.
And one of these days these boots
Are going to walk all over you!”
- pop song written by Lee Hazlewood & recorded by Nancy Sinatra. It hit #1 in the charts in 1966.

I’m not very fashionable and I don’t usually get very excited about material purchases but I have to say that the boots I bought this winter are getting some good mileage.

I’ve been wearing them to school and church so often they probably appear to be my only pair of shoes!

When I was gushing over how handy they are to spruce up an outfit Andie razzed me about making such a big deal over a simple pair of boots. This may not be verbatim but she basically said that most people can wear their boots without making such a fuss over them! (thank you Andie)

But, what Andie doesn’t realize is that I haven’t always had such positive relationships with my boots. As a kid I wore cowboy boots to ride horses at my grandparent’s ranch but getting the boots on and off was a huge ordeal (think ski boot level challenging). Then in high school when Fry boots were all the rage I wore them but I think I liked the status more than the boot (typical high schooler mentality).

The selling point for my Alberto Fermani boots was the zipper. It might not be cool to have a zipper and I really did like some Tori Burch boots with no zipper, but, in the end, that handy zipper won me over.

I considered posting a photo with me wearing the boots but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. Besides, they probably look better off anyway; I don’t think I quite do them justice!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stick to the Plan!

“To know what has to be done, then do it, comprises the whole philosophy of practical life.” - Sir William Ostler

Andie and I had an enlightening conversation recently with some friends who shared some details about their daughter’s tragic divorce. Their former son-in-law had been a bit of a chameleon.

Most ironically, during the time he was not faithful in his marriage he also headed up their extended family motto “stick to the plan.” Clearly a disconnect there somewhere! :)

I like the “Stick to the Plan” approach so I hope this man’s infidelities won’t ruin the wise saying for me. Being resolute and disciplined about accomplishing things we set out to do is really important.

Having a plan is not usually the problem for me. I generally start every day with a schedule and a decent game plan for the course of the day. For me the problem is distraction. I can start a zillion projects and not finish a single one. I get side-tracked. So, focusing on my plan and adhering to it is a really good philosophy for me to work from.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” -Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lies & Statistics....

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” -Mark Twain

Statistically speaking, there are only two English majors (myself and one other gal) in my Statistics and Research Methods class and everyone else has had undergraduate or advanced courses in statistics. Why did I ever let Paige move to southern California? I need her here to tutor me!

When it comes to gathering and displaying data for articles, I’m pretty clueless. I realize I need some basics to read professional journals but I’m not planning to go into the research end of psychology. So learning to analyze all these metrics and understanding the tools of the statistics trade feels beyond my purview.

My class assignments have been a mumbo jumbo of mean and median, standard deviations, p values, z scored, kurtosis, confidence intervals (have I lost you yet?) Well, whether you are confused or not, I am!

The professor is delightful and makes class fun but the homework is a nightmare. But it’s one of those classes that’s required so I’ll be so relieved when statistics is behind me.

“Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in the ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.” - Bobby Bragan

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Baby’s Dance...

The Baby’s Dance
by Ann Taylor

Dance little baby, dance up high,
Never mind baby, mother is by;
Crow and caper, caper and crow,
There little baby, there you go;
Up to the ceiling, down to the ground,
Backwards and forwards, round and round;
Dance little baby, and mother shall sing,
With the merry coral, ding, ding, ding.

Cute poem. And very cute little boy! This is Lizzie Worsham’s son, Peter, who isn’t quite one. When Julia and Lizzie came over yesterday Peter instantly won me over.

Peter’s incredibly good natured and insatiably curious. And he’s going to be a big brother! Adam and Lizzie are expecting another boy in March. Pretty exciting!

It seems like all visitors under the age of four love our plastic dog (affectionally name Jello)! Jello is always a hit and for some reason little people gravitate to climbing on him. I don’t think a real dog would be nearly as accommodating (I’m just saying...) :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing...

Here is Dad on his overnight trip to Minneapolis. The Anytime Fitness crew must have pretty good seats for the Minnesota Timberwolves games since Dad was close enough to get a photo with their mascot.

It’s been really cold in the Bay Area this week but it was hard to complain much when Dad got off the plane yesterday and noted the weather was two degrees in Minneapolis.

Fortunately he’ll be back tonight because I had the hardest time sleeping last night. I’m usually fine when Brent travels, I’ve been fairly conditioned over the years, but for some odd reason I kept hearing noises and it left me with a bad case of insomnia. Which leaves me feeling tired today, which leaves me frustrated. So the evening ordeal was unnerving but I’ve gained some new empathy for people who don’t sleep well at night. I’m generally out cold from about 11:30 to 5ish.

Maybe I wasn’t just nervous to be home alone, I could have been anxious someone was stealing Brent’s brand new Specialized bike. In fact, I’d better go check right now to make sure it’s still here....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Solitude - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has troubles enough of it’s own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you,
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need you woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many,
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine.
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles on pain.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaching Lehi’s Dream......

Teaching Gospel Doctrine is becoming more enjoyable and less intimidating each week. A Sunday School class of adults is definitely more frightening for me than a Seminary room of tired youth.

So, for me, this calling falls into the category of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Do one thing every day that scares you” maxim. I guess I don’t technically teach daily, but I’m definitely doing something that scares me.

Last Sunday’s lesson was on the vision of the tree of life (aka Lehi’s dream). It was a lesson that I totally enjoyed the prep work. Actually I always find preparing fun; it’s the 50 minute class time that throws me for a loop.

The symbolism and the visuals of the story are great. It’s one of those Book of Mormon stories that we return to over and over again throughout our lives, but like any classic, they’re classics for a reason!

One cool part about the lesson for me this time was that I woke up on Sunday morning with 3 impressions that I felt were important to share. I hustled to my computer and added the new ideas. Then, in class, as time was running short, I felt prompted again to move ahead and incorporate these distinct impressions.

Basically, they felt important for some reason and not exactly because they came to me in a dream. I’m not trying to equate myself with Lehi here. But, they were pressing on my mind. And I have no idea if any of the thoughts were something someone in class needed to hear. Who knows?

But, I would like any inspiration for upcoming gospel doctrine lessons that I can get, so it seemed wise to utilize the impressions in hopes that other ideas will follow. It was just nice to see that when we do our part (i.e. prepare) then the Lord really can/does send good ideas (at least in my not so humble opinion I thought they were good ideas) our way.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Silence is golden...

When Webb recommended the movie The Artist and described it as a French movie filmed in black and white with virtually no sound, I was not on the edge of my seat.

But, I’ve learned from experience that Webb knows the film industry so we decided to see The Artist and it was incredible! A charming movie!

It turns out you don’t need much dialogue to make a great movie. But, the characters have to be captivating and luckily these were.

Even though I’m old(ish); I wasn’t ever a big fan of silent movies. When I was a kiddo they were kind of considered passé. Now, after watching The Artist I’m inclined to rent a few classics from the silent cinema genre. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this silent.

The solitude of the theatre generally was pretty cool. As we walked outside right after the film, Andie immediately commented on the noise of Santana Row. It was uncanny how quickly you noticed the difference and how disruptive the noise felt.

With special effects getting so much hype in the movie world these days, it was refreshing to see a show that relied on a darling story and great characters to make it a hit.

And, speaking of awesome characters, there was a dog in the movie that was fabulous. I think the dog, named Uggie, was a jack russell terrier and he should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor!

This was the best movie that I’ve seen in the theatre in 2012! Okay, it’s also the first show I’ve seen, but at least I’m off to a good start!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ta Da!

The case of the missing passport.

So, Andie’s passport has been missing for about a year; pretty much since we returned from the British Virgin Islands.

There has been some dispute as to whose possession it was last in. This is due to the fact that I’ve been the longstanding designated keeper of all Knudsen passports.

However, as a passport keeper (and a good one at that!), there is one specific place I keep passports. So, when Andie couldn’t find hers and it wasn’t where I keep Knudsen passports, I was fairly confident it wasn’t lost on my watch.

Still, missing things unnerve me. We scoured Andie’s room at home to no avail. Since then, the search has continued, mostly at Andie’s Menlo Park place, also without success.

Finally, Andie secured a new application and even took the lovely passport photos. Which, once you start shelling out cash for a new passport, is just when you are likely to find the old one. According to my rules of logic.

Andie even mentioned to me that she thought it might turn up this weekend. We agreed that if the passport wasn’t found by Monday she should indeed mail off the replacement application.

Sure enough, low and behold, the passport pitched up on Friday night! No, not in my stuff. Yes, in Andie’s Menlo Park apartment. Apparently, it was found in a bag that Andie had taken to the B.V.I. that had gone into storage since our return (last January). Ta Da!

Of course, at some point along the way, I offered a reward if anyone found the passport (just hoping to spur on some excitement about the search). So, now I need to make good on coming up with a reward; but make sure it won’t inspire any other family members to conveniently lose their passports!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So many books, so little time...

The required reading for my classes this quarter is a whopping 14 textbooks! And that doesn’t even include any of the recommended reading.

I like to read but some of these textbooks are incredibly difficult to slog through and even harder to understand. Yesterday I spent the entire day reading and I didn’t come close to what is due for my classes next Monday/Tuesday.

I thought I was a fairly fast reader but come to find out, that is apparently when I’m reading novels or books of my choice. I was much slower yesterday struggling to understand terminology or grasp new concepts. Reading will now be my go-to in every spare waking minute for the next few months. And, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll have much extra time for pleasure reading during this quarter.

Some days I wonder “what was I thinking?” about returning to school. The work definitely feels harder in your 50’s than in your 20’s. At least from my vantage point, that is.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Personal Trainer at Equinox

In today’s depressed economy lots of people have a home but no job to pay their rent or mortgage. Paige has the reverse situation, employed with a job but no home.

Over the New Year’s weekend Andie, Paige, and their friend Pam took a road trip to southern California leaving Paige in Orange County (yep, the happening OC) to start work January 2nd as a personal trainer at Equinox.

So, these last two weeks Paige has been officially training while spending her free time scouting out a place to live. Luckily, Jon and Suzie Terry have been kind enough to let Paige occupy their guest room during her housing search.

Brent and I feel so grateful for the friendships we’ve made in the church that leave you with a collection of people living all over the country. This includes people like the Terry’s who are willing to take in your children at a moment’s notice and let them stay in their home indefinitely. Connecting with wonderful people is definitely one of the blessings of the church.

But, back to Paige: She will be a great personal trainer; Equinox is lucky to have her. She’s disciplined, hard working and passionate about fitness. And, she’s had some great experience during her Y-B-Fit internship, etc.

Yesterday Paige saw Kobe Bryant working out at Equinox but Andie advised Paige (wisely) that she probably shouldn’t pursue Kobe as a client to train. Based on his history, I’m afraid he might have a few boundary issues.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guess Who...

Now I Become Myself by May Sarton

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before --“
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Fall heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Open Wide...

Pictured above the wide mouth frog is a small mouth bass. The wide mouth frog gets a lot more attention and coverage out in the world due to all the children’s stories but anglers do fish for the smallmouth bass.

And, I happen to have more in common with the bass, specifically relative to mouth size. This is particularly apparent at dental visits when I’m continually admonished as a patient not just to “open” but “open wide.”

Actually, dentists tell me to “open really wide.” Really is added for emphasis because wide, for the smallmouth bass (and me), is simply not possible.

I’ve been somewhat oblivious over the years to my condition except at the dentist’s office when I’m told repetitively to open my mouth as wide as I possibly can.

A few years ago Peg Johnson needed some lab patients for dental hygiene practice and I was somehow recruited as a guinea pig. When I went in for x-rays Peg found certain slide inserts so massive for my inner mouth she had to borrow smaller ones from the pediatric dental supplies at her trade school.

Now, I am not a small person. Generally I’m average. Average height. Average weight. Okay, maybe a little less than average height and more than average weight. Overall, I wouldn’t even be considered petite, except in the category of mouth size.

So, when I needed a root canal on Monday the poor endodontist really had to work hard for his money. I held my mouth open as wide as possible for as long as possible but the infection was under the farthest tooth on my lower right side, hence Dr. Krupp had a very tiny area to work within.

The root canal wasn’t pleasant but I felt validated after my appointment. It was just nice to have an endodontist who wasn’t completely annoyed but understanding of my plight. And, my dentists, Team Hoover (Rex & Andy) are always kindhearted too. I just don’t like the fact I’m a high maintenance case for dentists. I feel bad about it, but what can I do?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our reliance is in the spirit which prized liberty...

“What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence?

It is not our crowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny.

All of these may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle.

Our reliance is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere.

Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors.

Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage as you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustom to trample on the rights of others and you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.” -Abraham Lincoln

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Quarter...

Santa Clara Winter Quarter. Technically the word winter could be challenged this year we’ve had such a mild season so far. But the quarter is indeed back in session; starting up today.

I told Andie I need to spruce up my wardrobe for school to look a little less matronly. So, of course, Andie razzed me that my effort to look more stylish is just an attempt to get some invitations to join study groups. That Andie....she’s on to me.

Truthfully, I’m just trying to look less out of place. It seems like most of the graduate students are in their 20’s. So, I’m old enough to easily be the mother of most of my classmates. It is what it is but you can’t fault me for trying to look less conspicuous.

The first assignment I turned in last quarter came back with admonition to use a smaller font. Oops! My grade on the paper was decent but I realized that my professor probably assumed I was trying to make my paper appear longer. In reality, I just used a larger font inadvertently. With my waning eyesight I’ve increased font sizes on my computer and I’d meant to change the paper to a smaller size before turning it in but I forgot.

So, at least this 2nd quarter I’m up to speed on appropriate font size regulations and a few more social mores for the collegiate life. And, while I feel a little like a returning dinosaur, I’m grateful to be there. Learning in the classroom setting again is exciting, there’s no question I appreciate it more now than during my undergraduate years. And, if my classes this winter are as enjoyable as my fall classes were then it should a great quarter.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

R & R...

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” -Chinese proverb

These metal art letters called out to me the first time I saw them in San Francisco in December. Then one day I was heading down our stairs and realized the stair ledge was the perfect home for the R-e-L-a-X letters.

My only reluctance was having to displace Flip-Flop, our elephant art piece from Kenya. Flip Flop’s home has also been the stair ledge and both things won’t fit there.

Well, despite having to relocate Flip Flop, I brought the letters home on Thursday, set them up, and crossed my fingers Brent would like them too. Fortunately, Brent’s a smart boy and thinks they’re cool and worth keeping. Whew! But he also lamented that Flip Flop would lose his perch. Currently, Flip Flop is comfortably taking up residence in our bedroom until we find a better spot for him.

When I added “relax” to my word art around the house I realized I have quite a collection of verbiage from room to room. The playroom has a “behave” sign, “simplify” adorns Andie’s bedroom wall, Paige’s room has “imagine” and “think" signs, the kitchen says “eat” in big black letters, and multi-colored “just do it” letters remind us of the Nike theme. I’d like to put up “CTR” (choose the right) letters somewhere but I haven’t found any I like (because all letters are not created equal; not even close).

So, back to the R-e-L-a-X theme I’ve added. I’ve always heard that the time we need to relax the most is when we have the least time for it. For what that’s worth. And, relaxing is not the same thing as being lazy. In fact relaxing can actually be quite productive. Just follow my sign and test the theory...

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answers.” -William S. Burroughs

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Any Which Way!

"Let us not find ourselves as indecisive as Alice in Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward, but in opposite directions.

She is confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, "Which path shall I follow?”

The cat answers, "That depends on where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn't matter which path you take."

Unlike Alice, we all know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life surely leads to the path we will follow in the next." -President Thomas S. Monson

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Theme...

In addition to resolutions for the new year, I’ve decided to try adding an annual theme for 2012.

Mostly it’s my attempt to have an overarching idea that encompasses all of my goals. Or, basically an attribute to focus on while I’m (hopefully) achieving those goals.

In theory my theme for the year should become almost second nature by next December. But this is my first time to add this approach as part of the new years resolutions, so we’ll see how it goes.

So, for 2012 my theme is going to be mindfulness!

I’m hopeful it will come into play in every aspect: emotional, mental, spiritual, temporal, and physical.

The idea is mostly this:
to pay attention,
to notice,
to quit getting stuck looking ahead,
to enjoy the moment,
the journey,
the time at hand.

I’ve never been one to pine over the past, I’m reasonably good at moving on. But, I do get a step ahead of myself. Often. I can get so caught up in being productive that I miss the present. Not to mention the fact that I’m also impatient.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” - James Baraz

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stage One.....

I’m the type of person who won’t start a project if it looks insurmountable. If it feels too daunting I’m easily overwhelmed.

So, for projects that are large in scope I’ve learned to rely on stages. Stages have gotten me through several marathons. Basically when 26 miles doesn’t seem possible, I just tell myself to get to the next mile marker.

This strategy helped a lot in the recent Nike race when my knee was probably hoping I’d quit. Around mile 16 I considered not finishing due to knee pain but convinced myself to get to mile 17. Then at mile 17 I decided I could at least do one more mile and so on.

Another variation of this method is described in this month’s Ensign magazine (Jan. 2012) by Elder Christofferson when his mother was going through painful radiation treatments for cancer. One day his mother was so sick and weak she told her mother she wasn’t sure she could stand having 16 more of the treatments. Her mother asked her if she could do the treatment that day and she said she could. Then, her wise mother told her that was all she had to get through right then.

Elder Christofferson has thought of that example many times when he has needed to take one thing or one day at a time. So, I’m clearly in good company with this approach.

Right now I’m implementing this strategy for the annual house (drawers, closets, etc.) clean out. Even just taking on the kitchen looms too large, so it's been divided into 5 stages: 1. pantry 2. fridge & freezer 3. drawers on island 4. left side cupboards 5. right side cupboards.

So far, I’ve only tackled one of the five kitchen stages. But, I’ll get there (albeit slowly). Then, after the kitchen, I can take on the bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. (also broken down into stages!)

For me, stages are essential. Without stages I might never even begin grand scale projects!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


"I'm a perfectly good carrot that everyone is trying to turn into a rose. As a carrot, I have good color and a nice leafy top. When I'm carved into a rose, I turn brown and wither." -Mary Pipher

Webb was surprised to find Mary Pipher on one of my gratitude lists that we each made for Brent for Christmas (our gift to him that he turned into booklet gift back to us - kind of creative).

Anyway, I’m a huge Mary Pipher fan, she’s my mentor (unbeknownst to her) in the therapy world. I’ve read all of her books and her philosophies generally align with how I’d treat patients.

The quote above is quite true. I always feel best when I can just be myself and nobody is trying to change me. And, like Pipher, I’d probably fall into the carrot over the rose category too.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

People are like chef’s salads...

“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” -Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto

This quote came to mind as I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to post about when I finish the book, it’s a compelling read. But, for now, suffice it to say that Jobs was a very complicated man.

Jobs could be a great guy, but, unfortunately he was intimidating and ruthless a lot of the time. He was unbelievably successful but never got over his complex over being adopted.

Isaacson does a great job of portraying Jobs honestly. He doesn’t white wash or gloss over some of Jobs traits that are unbecoming. As Steve Jobs got older, got married and had children, his eccentric habits were tamed (a bit) but he was never an ideal husband or father.

It’s an interesting book. I admire Jobs ability to bring art and design to technology. His passion is inspiring. But, while he was gifted in some ways, he was severely lacking in others. Like many celebrated leaders and inventors, Steve Jobs lead a very conflicted life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Changing it up...

The new year always feels ripe for new goals. A good time to make some positive life changes.

After rereading Clayton Christensen’s testimony of the church I zeroed in on Clayton’s description of our lay church and how much that outsourcing benefits all of us as members. It gives us endless opportunities to serve as well as learn from each other.

As Clayton notes, there are times when we can learn something profound about the gospel from someone we might least expect to be enlightening us on a church topic.

Elder Christensen had that experience when he was serving as the bishop of the Boston area singles ward and a college sophomore was asked to speak on repentance. The young student made his key point stating the following: “We often view repentance as a slow process. It isn’t. Change is instantaneous. It is not changing that takes so much time.”

That comment really struck Elder Christensen and he decided right then to change his behavior and quit “not changing.” I’ve also been thinking about this student’s idea that we can change instantly, but we don’t. I’m good at spending time not changing too. In fact, that is really what trips me up, over and over again!

So as I’m coming up with goals I’d like to accomplish for the new year, I’m trying to think of some things I need to quit not changing and actually make some progress by really changing them!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Be it Resolved...

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

To keep my health!
To do my work!
To live!
To see to it I grow and gain and give!
Never look behind me for an hour!
To wait in weakness, and to walk in power;
But always fronting onward to the light,
Always and always facing towards the right.
Robbed, starved, defeated, fallen, wide astray - -
On, with what strength I have!
Back to the way!