Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Traveling Light -

1. Scott and I have been watching Parenthood on Netflix this past year.

2. When I was going through cancer treatments I would think about every room in my house and what was in each room. When I was feeling well, I would dejunk and rearrange. I know where everything is in my house.

3. My fantasy is to buy a motor home, get a PO box, and travel the US, very very slowly.

So what does this all of to do with the "price of rice in China"? Some days I feel burdened down - with thoughts, family commitments, career commitments, community commitments, he said/she said accusations, biggest baddest man on the totem pole, whiny students who want what I can't or won't give them, and I often blur the line between duty and desire. Whose wishes are the most important - mine or whomever I'm serving? Do I put the oxygen mask on myself first, or do I run run run helping others and then drop, exhausted? And how often is "exhausted" socially acceptable? What is the ratio for caring for others and caring for self? Other care greater-than or less-than Self care?

And it's times like last week and this week (Timpanogos Storytelling Festival) and hosting AirBnB guests, on top of normal commitments, that makes me want to head out, with no obligations, and just roam. And it's times like this when I am really really sad that summer is coming to an end, and I'm militant about stating, "The last day of summer is not until Sept. 21, don't put your winter clothes on yet!" And yet it's pending, and I mourn.

Which is all to say that I get the urge to run away, dejunk even more, and travel light, find a camping spot in the woods and tuck myself away (with running water and flushing toilets). I think I could do it. You?

PS - I love the music on Parenthood. Did you know you can find almost all tunes, here? Awesome!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Long Ride Home - Musings -

Today Scott's son, Daniel, received a leadership "calling" in his church congregation. We drove to Cedar City and back, to be with him and family during this time. The drive was beautiful - seeing the sun rise in the east, shining on the fields, ready to harvest, was stunning.

Last week we stopped in Lewisville, Idaho, where my dad is buried. We left flowers and drove to Macks Inn.

Tonight I'm missing Dad. He loved the young men in our congregation, he loved my sons, and he would have enjoyed the ride to Cedar to be present when Daniel was "sustained."

I was on Instagram, pulled up this picture, from Jenna's account:

Funny how settings, songs, textures, light, all have ways of bringing moments to life, even after they're gone. 

This photo, and the lyrics she posted with it, make me melancholic. And tonight I'm crying - missing my dad, proud of Daniel, thankful for a safe and beautiful drive, grateful for a loving husband who is a good father and grandpa, and so grateful for experiences that hurt and help me grow. 

Here's to a week of them

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rock, Paper, Scissors - a Social Experiment -

So tonight, with all 3 of my 1010 writing classes, we had a little fun. I divided the students up into groups of 4, and told them to play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" for 5 minutes.

And then I asked them -

Where did you learn how to play RPS?
Who taught you?
How old were you when you learned how to play?
How did you know what I was asking of you?
Who was in charge of deciding how to play?
Was there any differing opinions on how to play?
Did you have to teach anyone in your group how to play?
Did you learn anything new while playing?
Were there any arguments?
Did you play anything other than rocks, papers, scissors?
What did you learn?
When do you play?
How do you determine in/out, winner/loser, or not?

And then I asked them these two more questions -

How did you know?
What does it mean?

And I will continue to teach my students, this semester, that context is every bit as important as content, and to never stop asking these questions of themselves and to others.

So, Rock, Paper, Scissors - what are the rules anyway?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tears - Mourning, Loss, and a Bunch of Other Stuff -

Yesterday I learned we have a patient whose breast cancer has metastasized, and she's young, with a family, and she's foregoing traditional chemo warfare for a more gentle treatment. While she's using oils, positive affirmations and prayers, healthy eating, to purge her body of this cancer, it is growing, has grown, and will continue to grow.

I was a vegetarian, new vegan, eating healthy, living healthy, at my optimum weight, practicing positive affirmations, etc., when I found my tumor. And as much as I wanted to do the same as my patient, I knew, knew, knew this was not the best route for me. And a dear friend said to me - "This is war. You need to use chemical warfare to fight the invaders. Then support your body with green drinks." I don't like war analogies, never have, but his statement made immense sense to me, and I began chemotherapy a short time later.

And I'm glad I did. I lost a helluva lot during that treatment journey, including the doubt that I think I would have had, if I'd chosen an alternative treatment plan. That was my peace of mind.

So back to yesterday - I'm sharing with the team what my oncologist told me, my friend had told me, and how I chose my treatment plan. They're nodding their heads. And then one of the team members mentioned my doctor was her doctor; and my colleague told us what this oncology doctor had told my patient, and it was the same explanation he had given me, nearly 4 years ago.

The dam broke, and I had to leave the room, in tears, to just be able to breath. Talk about triggers. I thought I was past this - I use my experiences daily to help my clients; I'm not afraid to talk about my cancer and all of the issues that arose because of my treatment. I'm okay with this; I think I'm healing by being able to tell my story.

I walked out, went into the break room to cry, my colleague found me there, apologized - which wasn't necessary, and talked with me. I'm trying to figure out why I'm crying, he's trying to do the same, and I cannot sort out my emotions:

School beginning, summer ending, Dad gone, Storytelling Festival on its way, 4 year anniversary, physical struggles, still mourning the loss of me, and gratitude - opportunity to help others, a life changed, a life of possibilities, and a future, with no wondering if "I have done the right thing." All of this spilling over into a tiny trigger!

I look for affirmations daily to give me peace. Here's what I found, just shortly after I gathered my me and took a deep breath before returning to work -

And then later, after 3 English classes, my sister sent all of us siblings this article (please read). And while I think she meant it for us to read in context to recently losing Dad, I couldn't help but think of yesterday's scenario and saying good-bye to that older/younger, wiser/innocent, unsure/cocky me.

Hell - some days are filled with peace, others with angst, some with pure joy, others with wondering and bewilderment. And I am so grateful that I'm here to participate in this dance.

I'm not afraid of change, of different, of plunging, yet for all of us, grief is that sharp note that pops up in any piece of music - that's meant to be heard and acknowledged. Mourning isn't easy, isn't clean, doesn't fit into a time-frame or process; mourning is about allowing ourselves to identify triggers - as they happen, and to allow this trigger or reminder to take us on the journey into the loss, recognize and affirm the loss, and then move forward, even if it's dancing a dance you don't know. Embracing the change and the tears.

Happy day -

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"Going Home"

This past week Scott and I spent several days in Macks Inn, Island Park, ID. Cliff, Jenna, and family were with us. We had a lovely time.

But what I want to share is - Tommy loves music, and he picks up on so many melodies and lyrics - this family has music playing all the time. Tom really likes Little Einsteins, and one of the constants with these shows is that they play classical songs and meet people from history, including artists, explorers, and musicians.

Tommy was "la la la'ing" to a song one afternoon in Idaho. I recognized the song, and I asked him where he heard it. "Grandma, that is a sad song. Ring is going home. It's a really really sad song, but it's supposed to be happy, but it's sad."

"Going Home" is one of my most favorite pieces of pseudo-American classic music, and one song I'll have at my memorial service. Yo-Yo Ma is one of my favorite musicians; I've seen him live, he is a stellar musician as well as a good man; here's his cello version. Sissell's version is perhaps the most popular version.

And how appropriate of Tom to be sharing this tune, at this time - I have been going home, in many many ways this summer - home to Alabama, home to my family of birth, revisiting my beliefs in an after-home with my Dad's death, home to Rigby - where friends and family from all of my life stopped their days to pay tribute to Dad and to our family, home to Macks Inn, where I find rootedness, and now, settling in my home for the school year. Mostly though - my home is with my husband, and that has been affirmed and reaffirmed, and reaffirmed. "Quiet like, slip away, I am going home."

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Transitions - Rearranging Furniture -

My dad has been dead 6 weeks today. Wow - seems like yesterday he was sitting on the patio reading, looking up as I walked through the door, saying, "Well hello, dear, how are you today?" and pointing to a chair to sit down with him and visit, if only for a minute. He always put down his book or the newspaper, took a sip of water from his mug, and gave me his full attention.

Dang, I miss him. And I didn't realize how much, until the other night. Over the past two years, as Dad's health, stamina, and strength have failed, he's spent a lot of his time sitting in his recliner in the family room, next to an end table with a lamp, box of tissue, a bowl of nuts or ice cream, and a book or two and a couple of magazines. He even made himself a TV tray that would hold his meals, sitting on his lap. He'd have the TV on, usually with something from the BYU station, Lawrence Welk reruns, or a blank screen with music playing.

Typically when I would go to my parents I'd walk in the front door, take 5 steps, look to my right, down 5 stairs, to see if Dad was sitting in his recliner. 9 times out of 10 he was, and I'd wave, walk toward him, or walk on by, depending on whether or not he was napping, reading, or watching something on TV, or even if he heard me when I walked in.

There have been changes in the house - the recliner was moved into my parents' bedroom on Sunday before Dad died on Tuesday. When Dad did pass, the first thing Mom wanted was to move the recliner (and his shower chair) into the garage, not back downstairs. Shortly after his death my brother, Craig, spent a few days with Mom, and he cleaned out and rearranged things in Dad's shop and the garage. Now Mom can drive the car into the garage and unpack the groceries! Yet one thing that hasn't changed is that the table sitting next to the recliner has stayed there, the lonely sentinel, holding a place, marking time, almost a memorial, and no one has moved it.

Until Saturday night. I had told Mom when she was ready to holler, and Scott and I would rearrange the family room for her, moving Dad's table, but not leaving an empty space. She did; my mother was ready to make a change (and change is not something she's a fan of). The room looks good - the end table is now a true end table, with only a box of tissue and a lamp on it. Dad's lap tray is in the storage room along with his space heater, and his books are back up on the bookshelf, his bookshelf (and that's another story). The room looks full, alive, bright.

I haven't been through their front door since the rearranging. Honestly, I'm a little afraid to go over, look down, and not even see the lone table - it was my reminder of my father - here or not, it stood for him.

Moving, rearranging, losing, is tough - and moving forward is the only way - transitions. My dad. Today I miss him. I hope I miss him tomorrow as well.

One of my favorite songs, reminds me of my childhood and watching Lawrence Welk with my folks. Are there tunes, shows, movies, that take you to a younger day, that you have incorporated into your life, now? My kids know every word to this song, and I have tried to sing this to my grandkids - passing down my dad.

Banana Bread, Zucchini Bread, and the Sabbath -

On Sundays I go to church, participate in rituals, and then leave after our worship service and come home. Typically a Sunday's service lasts 3 hours, and I attend the first 70 minutes. The other 2 hours are divided up into Sunday School, and then a men's and a women's meeting.

I'm pretty lonely when I attend the last 2 hours, so I come home and cook, where I choose to be alone. I was reared that service and food are intricately tied together, and I'm a believer that as Christ served others, I should as well. It's a part of my Christian duty as well as my Walker/Weaver/Jensen/Johnson duty and obligation.

When I bake, I think of those I will give goodies to. Not necessarily their reactions to my gifting, but why I want to give to them, and I put my energy and goodness into what I bake. My cooking is not purely generous - I prep and bake and grate and cut and freeze our meals for the week, and typically one more meal to go into the freezer, for a rainy day.

I take advantage of this time - I listen to music (today it's the "Summer Country" channel), and I run through what's happened in the past week, what is planned for the upcoming week, what I need to be prepared for, and I run through the list of those I love, to see how I can reach out. I see this as my meditation time and my silent prayer. I'm most open to the spirit, it seems, when my hands are busy. Often I think about what's grieving me - including children and grandchildren, how I'm going to make time to see them; friends who are going through tough times and transitions, and how I can reach out to them; Scott - and how his needs are always secondary to my needs and wants, and how I can rearrange that to make him a priority.

Whew! All this while in the kitchen!

Today has been no different. I've chosen to bake this Sabbath. I have an abundance of zucchini and bananas, so bread it is! The recipes I use are constant, and I have used them enough to know just how I can adjust them - removing this, adding this (today it's chocolate chips to the b bread and orange and coconut to the now gluten-free z bread). As you can see from the cards, they are well-used, well-loved, and even these recipes bring me solace - I remember who, where, when I received them, and I am on that journey to the past as well as staying in the moment and thinking about the future.

And in doing, even though I'm alone, I'm with those I need to share with. Make sense?

PS - Usually I have Scott distribute the goodies - the introvert in me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Some Days I Stay Inside - Introvert Notice -

I think I'm coming off the "My father has passed away," "My vacation is over," "Another trip is about to begin," funk. I have tripped, lost my balance, slammed my finger into a heavy door, called people names that aren't theirs (no swearing), and been in a "chemo brain" fog, although that should have ended awhile back. I'm hoping for a couple of down days before I have to open my mouth, or step out, into public and clients. I read this meme this morning, and I laughed, because it's exactly what I've been thinking I probably need.

So here's to alone time -

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Trials -

A young woman had a life that was not the picture perfect, man on a white horse, obey the commandments life she had envisioned for herself.

She lived "well" - didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't sleep around, worked hard, put others first, and yet those plans that were to be her reward were naught. She fell, stood up, was knocked down, turned the other cheek, and she put one foot in front of the other, with nothing more than hope and tenacity to guide her. She pushed through, hoping that "some day . . ."

When what was to support her failed her, she looked beyond her world, for more. One day, while crossing traffic lanes, meditating on her lack-of'ness, she asked her guide, "Why me? I've done what I was asked to do, I've been good and steady, and yet this? I cannot take one more."

And the reply came, "Perhaps your trial is your blessing." She pulled her car over into slow lane, turned off her emergency lights, and embraced her journey. And her heart was at rest.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mixed Messages - To Follow or Not -

I grew up with the phrase, "If everyone else wanted to jump off a cliff, would you too?" And many times I'd whine, saying, "Everybody's doing it," and expect a different reply from my parents.

As well, I heard, "Follow the prophet," "Set a good example," and "Hang out with good people, and you'll never go astray."

As a teenager, a young parent, even this young'ish granny, I waver back and forth between the two statements. Be unique, be like everyone else. I think this is where my, "I'll do it my way, with or without," personality comes into play.

I want to belong. I really really really love to be around like-minded people, folks with similar beliefs, goals, ideology, and yet I really really really love my friends who are a smorgasbord of walks-of-life.

I don't belong. I consider myself an outsider. I've strayed outside of the parameters my parents and my religious culture set for me. And it's because of this wandering I have had amazing unique (at least to me) adventures and why I'm not afraid, not at all, to try something new, go down a dirt road, speak to the funky dude on the street, and not be bothered by those whose life-style is different than mine.

One of my best characteristics, if I may shout, is that I know how to connect with people, regardless. And this has played out over and over again in my life. I think my unspoken motto has been, "Be curious, because in the questioning and searching, you will always be amazed." So - many times I have chosen to jump off a cliff, all by myself, not evening inviting anyone to join me (and please remember, this is in the culture I was reared in, which may not look too adventurous to the outsider).

I'd say I was reared in a conservative Mormon home; yet my parents never defined any of us by comparing us with each other or telling us to do something like someone was already doing. So I wasn't blown away when my father's death and memorial services were anything but normal, and as I watched the very strong and different personalities work together, I was stunned at how different and how alike we are - not all Mormon, all with children, not all children are picture-perfect, all with degrees and certifications, many working in the caring-for-others industry, all with open arms and open doors and open minds, and a willingness to listen to the "other." And our children are doing similar. Where did I learn this? From the same parents who taught and reinforced that I didn't need to be like everyone else, that I am my own person, I have my own journey, and so does everyone else.

When I think about the Mormon Primary tune, "Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don't go astra-ay," I think I understand what is being taught, but if the Prophet jumped off a cliff, would I follow?

NO!!! I wouldn't. Nor would I jump on to some bandwagon of anti-Mormon Mormon folks who are growing in number, just because I want to embrace those who are "different" or be a part of the popular group of anti's, and in doing so, becoming just like them.

"Follow my conscience (heart, gut, spirit), explore my conscience, listen to my conscience, it will guide my wa-ay."

Friday, August 5, 2016

Vacation to WA, OR, and BC - 10 Reasons to go on a Vacation

Reasons to go on a vacation:
Detox - Body and Soul
Stay in the Present
Invest in the Future

Here's July 20 - August 2, in pictures. We had a glorious time, for all of the above reasons.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Forks, WA - or Twilight -

Thoughts on Forks, Washington

If I was going to write a book, filled with lovers, vampires, us and them, it would take place in Forks, Washington. Oh yeah, already been written! But if it hadn't, this is what I've learned, and imagined about Forks.

Small town, one stoplight. Quinalt Indian reservation, fishing village, logging trucks. Clearwater correctional center is down the road.

A Sunday afternoon in a laundromat provides a view of the transients - a couple of middle aged folks traveling down the coast, too clean to wear dirty clothes or smelly underwear, but claiming they are on an adventure. Two people, middle age, sitting in their 90's era car, playing on their 2016 era phones, waiting for 3 washers of bedding to finish spinning. A red bearded and Bradbury tattooed man enters and Notting that the extra large heavy duty washer is full, leaves. Two fine specimens of youth, clean, bearded, not shaved, with duffel bags stuffed with clothing (smelling, even from afar of hard dirty labor) tightly compressed into the heavy-duty extra large washers, with soap packets strategically tucked into their all-in-one batch of dirty smelly clothes. A week's worth? One with a black tattoo, forests, mountains, cloud, and "Ask who wasn't are not lost," wandering through the scenery. A young couple, late 20's with a small bit and a baby on the way. Laundry in two baskets, quickly paved in two washers, returning to their red pickup which didn't start on the first or third try. An older couple, appearing as if they are skilled st laundromat laundry - complete with TV tray opened up, deli dinner pulled from white bags, and the two dine on deep fried and cold sauced  from shared Styrofoam containers. The red bearded man's makes a week timed return, claims the heavy duty machine, and begins to fill it.

Road signs with names such as Hoh, Quillet, La Push, Rialto, Quillam, Kalaloch, Aberdeen, First, Second, Third beach, Quits and Sol Duc Rivers. Signs advertising twilight wood, ho hum lodging, Sully's Diner, Guard dogs on duty, and Home off the Chitwins.

Rain forests, giant trees bearded in moss with ferns and clover and ivy at their bases hug the beaches, and the bones of these trees claim the sand as their graveyard. Rusty mailboxes filled with brown and rotting newspapers,

Misty mornings settle below the tree line blanketing the area, burn off as the day becomes to brutal bright clarity with hot dusty days and settling again into eerily covered evenings.

Shape shifters - what is apparent isn't. Roads to nowhere open up; Indian villages rise from the sand; a town full of transients, who stay. Restaurants with welcome and open signs suddenly closed, unwelcome, and the lights go out throughout the town. Only one place twinkles in the dusk - BBG's, burgers bar and grill. Overflowing with folks wanting a warm dinner and a friendly beer. 

Motels and homes, ready to say amen and east find themselves not only without power to break bread but without power to pump water to rinse the day's dirty from their hands.

Little ones cry from hunger, mother's search through pantries, hungry men our their boots back on, workers turn on their flashlights, and the adventurous put their packs back on, dodge the ravens guarding their meals, and with no gps or stars to guide them, take the right fork and join the caravan with twilight leading the way.