Friday, September 30, 2016

21 Day Happiness Challenge - Again -

I did this in March, and I'm beginning this again tomorrow. After a month of angst, I need to drop my pessimist attitude and get back into the positive thinking, the world is good mind-set. Join me? 


GRATITUDE Write down three new things you are grateful for each day.

JOURNAL Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours.

EXERCISE Aim to be active for at least 10 minutes a day.

MEDITATE For two minutes, focus on your breath going in and out.

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Crisis - Not -

Remember this post? Big hour-long meeting today with all the important people, and me. And guess what? There was no reason to be irritated, afraid, scared, unsure, anxious. All was well, and I burnt nearly a month stressing, worrying about the event.

I had two epiphanies though - for which I'm grateful. First - I am one of the important people! I cannot continue to minimize myself and my roles. Second - the worst case scenario is seldom going to happen, and I need to learn that I am living a new life where I can trust those who say they have my back, and I can trust in other's goodness, and in my own goodness and my own credibility. And when I do this, others will as well. Karma.

I am Ronda Walker Weaver - chaplain, writing instructor, folklorist, and beyond -

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Being a Chaplain - from -

I often get asked, "Just what is it you do?" When I tell people I'm a chaplain. Well, more eloquently than I could share, is this article. It is so well-written, brought me to tears, and explains what and why I am a chaplain. Enjoy -
For hospital chaplains, the motivation is simple — to help people endure illness and even death. But the work is extraordinarily difficult. Today, meet the people who walk life’s most difficult paths with families of all kinds.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Practice Pausing -

I'm learning this, but still not totally confident in my abilities to hold still, particularly when I think action is better than no action. However - I have learned to not hit "Send" when emotional or tired or irritated; rather, wait, review, delete. 

Where are your weak "Pause" moments? 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Affect-Effect - Accept-Expect

A student asked me if I would explain the difference between Affect and Effect. Affect is the verb; effect is the noun. And I gave him this sentence: 

"I was affected by the effects of the tornado." And then there was a tornado in northern Utah, and I figured I'd better change the sample sentence. 

"I have been affected by the effects of cancer treatments." 
"I have been affected by the effects of divorce." 
"I have been affected by the effects of renting our room through AirBnB." 


And then he asked me to explain the difference between Accept and Expect, and I had to think. Accept is the verb; expect is likewise a verb. 

I have certain expectations of myself and of others. Once a self-appointed friend told me I had too high of expectations. And I innocently thought that was odd - I mean, if I do my best, shouldn't others be expected to do the same? And if my expectations are out of reach for others, then do I need to accept less, because I expect less? Can I accept less of myself if I lower my expectations for myself? 

Does acceptance have anything to do with lowering expectations? Is it necessary to take a step down on the expectation ladder just to be able to be more accepting of whatever comes my/your way? 

When you learn to accept rather than expect, what are the affects, and for how long are you effected? I'm not sure this is "right." What if I accept more and expect more - isn't that the law of abundance? Or is that the law of disappointment? 

Aaah goodness, food for thought. Damn students who make me think! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Entitlement - "You're not the boss of me" -

I have zero tolerance for folks who feel entitled. I also have no tolerance for folks who tell others how to do their job, particularly when they feel entitled to "advise" you.

I've been having a conflict at work - not my colleagues, but one a few separations away, who has been trying to tell me how to do my job, even though his experience, and his education, and his job, are very different from mine.

His entitlement comes from having a bigger title than mine, working for a more prominent hospital than mine, and having a few more years of chaplaining experience. And he thinks it is his role to teach me how to do my role.

Now, I would never, in a million years, even consider telling him how to do his job. Never! I'll take care of my own messes before jumping into someone else's, which makes it difficult for me to see why having my "buy-in" on his way of doing things, is so important.

In fact, he basically incited an email riot, getting more and more detailed, and then getting very very personal, sending the email to lower, middle, and upper management, stating my full name and my wrong-doings (saying 'no' to his way). I responded to the first two emails, while the riot was still a conversation, and then I stopped, sending only two more messages to my boss and my colleagues, not the entire freakin' group, apologizing for being the reason for the mud-slinging.

And come to find out, he said, "the cart came before the horses," but he was a little too quick with the "send" button, although he didn't claim any wrong-doing or over-reacting, or calling anyone names. In the meantime upper-management feels it is necessary to have him in on the decision-making process of my job, which isn't his job, and of which he has no experience! What?

Yet he's my colleague, and we'll have to interact, and how do I walk tall, look him in the eyes, and stand my ground (I've compromised so much I'm nearly ashamed of myself)? And this is eating me up, because see - I did no wrong, and I'm more than open to conversation and compromise, and yet there is no safe ground for which to do this.

Cover up? Pretend nothing happened? Surrender to win? And when can I get back to doing my job, which I'm damn good at, rather than sit in on another planning meeting, because what was, is not what is, because someone tampered with my educated and experienced and trained and backed-up program?

Where is my advocate, my champion, my voice? And do I care? God grant me the serenity -

Monday, September 19, 2016

Education - Listening and Learning -

I was at a Palliative Care conference all last week - long 10 hour days listening, learning, and remembering. I love the classroom - I love being a student as well as a teacher. There's just something about learning, with others, that invigorates me. And even though I am still exhausted, I am alive with fresh knowledge, Monday energy, confidence from practicum, and the excitement of getting back into the hospital and implementing all that I learned - formally and informally. 

Happy Monday - go forth! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Empathy - Sympathy

I'm reminded today, during a conversation on Empathy and Sympathy, of these two videos. We don't have to fix everyone's problems, nor do we have to compare our "owies" with someone else's or share our story. Typically when someone is in physical or emotional pain, all they want, or need, is a listening ear and a soft space.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

We Must Remember This - As Time Goes By -

Four years ago -  and these anniversaries are still bittersweet - but getting so much more palpable. Louis Armstrong, sang "We Must Remember This, As Time Goes By," for the movie "Casablanca." Although it is a romantic "no matter what the future brings" song, we all will always have memories, and this remains true for me, today.

These memories take many forms, and yet I believe my "fight for love and glory, a case for do or die," has molded this me - and today, just barely today, I'm ok with this.

A sigh is just a sigh -

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Anxiety -

Confession - I don't like going to church. Never have, probably never will. I go for the sacred, not the secular. My life does not revolve around my religious community. 

And today is no different. Adding to today's anxiety was the talk given by a young man (early 20s) beginning with a summary of The Alliance, reportedly a book he listened to while driving to California. Purportedly a book about the apocalypse, as it takes place in Star Valley, Wyoming. 

I walked out. Many of my bad nights are filled with dreams regarding concrete, long-bed trucks, and marauders - raping, pillaging, burning, and kidnapping. Have you ever read Cormac McCarthy's The Road?

So I came home, I'll read, bake, cook, try to figure my angst out, and then move on - dreading, already, next week's worship service. 

HOWEVER - one of my sweetest memories revolves around similar anxiety - I was 17 years old, living in Idaho with my grandparents, finishing up high school. My Sabbath day sucked, for some reason (probably similar to today's), and I came home from Sunday School sad. My grandfather suggested we take a drive, so Grandpa, Grandma, and I filled their Oldsmobile, and drove to Idaho Falls. Although my grandparents were strict Sabbath Day protocol upholders, my grandfather pulled the car into Taco Time, on the Idaho Falls highway, and we had dinner. 

I will never forget this tiny tender show of love, understanding, and that sometimes keeping the Sabbath Day holy involves caring for others in the way they need to be cared for. 

Today I was reminded of their generosity, which took so many forms, and I was reminded that even when I think I am alone, I am not. 

Now back to that Diet Pepsi and book. Peace be with you this day - 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mt. Timpanogos and Her Relatives -

I love mountains, and even though I lived in the potato-lands of Southeastern Idaho, I considered the Menan Buttes, the rolling farmland, and the view of the Idaho-side of the Tetons my mountains. And of course, 45 minutes up the road was the Lodgepole pine'd Island Park, a few miles more and we were either in Grand Targhee, West Yellowstone, or beautiful Swan Valley.

I was at home in the mountains of Northern Utah - particularly the gorgeous drive through Sardine Canyon into Logan. Later, the kudzu-covered, blossom-abundant, hills of Northwestern Alabama brought me more comfort than I had ever expected.

And of course, the past twenty-odd years I have found peace and beauty in Provo Canyon, the Nebo Range, the Wasatch Mountains, the Alpine Loop, and Scott's beloved Zion.

Yet it's Mount Timpanogos that wakes with me in the morning and nods to sleep with me in the evenings. She is always constant in structure and ever-changing in attire. She is beautiful wearing snow, green grass, and the golds and bronzes of the aspen and autumnal grasses. She is my reminder that God is good, that Utah Valley is home, and that there is beauty in being strong and solid and sensual.

I am lucky - and blessed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stories Heal -

Ya'll know I spent the weekend at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. An awesome event, reminding me that we are all storytellers and listeners. We all have stories, and often, by telling them, and having them listened to (even me, on this blog), we can make sense of our world, our events, our relationships, and hopefully - heal from experiences that come from just living life. 

Here you go - 

Stories That Help Us Heal  
In the medical context, professionals often function analytically; gathering observable facts in making assessments.  They "know" a patient through the diagnosis.  But a patient's personal story helps unwrap unique and universal truths that can help the clinician relate to and appreciate the person behind the diagnosis.  Stories open our hearts along with our heads. Whether we hear the stories of our patients . . . effective storytelling can be a powerful tool . . .  Recounting an event lets us process it in the telling, while inviting others to hear and see what we have seen.  Narrative helps us (and our listeners) connect with the lives of others, and with our own hearts and experiences as well.  A good story facilitates understanding, reconciliation, even healing, and can make us aware of the larger, divine narrative of which we are a part. How and when have you been touched by a story, or used stories to help foster understanding? 

 -- Susan Cosio Stories That Help Us Heal PlainViews, 12/21/2011, Vol. 8, No. 22

I assign the below article to my English 1010 students. It brings great classroom discussion, and primes them to do research on topics that are relevant and applicable to their life's stories. 

Stories Matter
I want you to travel with me to a famine camp in Sudan, on the Ethiopian border. You have seen the dreadful television footage of the starving babies, their bellies bloated. Flies crawl in and out of their eyes and mouths, jealous for the last drops of moisture that cling there as long as these babies cling to life.

Now you are among them, as a reporter for a mid-sized daily newspaper in the Upper Midwest, charged with writing about a place you have never been before, about an event you can’t possibly understand, for readers who will never go there and don’t know what it has to do with them – beyond writing a check to charity.

You’ve been at the camp for several days. You walk its ground each day, stepping around and over 100,000 people who have come because they heard there was water. By the time they had arrived – some of them walking three weeks from their Ethiopian villages – the water was no more than a well of mud in a dry riverbed.

You watch the little girls walk to the river and dig in the mud, soaking their rags with moisture that they wring, drop by drop, into their plastic jugs. You sit in the clinic where the waiting line is hundreds long. Desperate fathers thrust their babies at you, thinking that because you are a khawaja, a foreigner, you must be a doctor. You must be able to help. But all you have to offer is a poised notebook and some questions – suddenly too little to accommodate this reality.

You wander to the edge of the camp, to the vast defecation zone where those healthy enough to walk go to heed nature’s call. It is oblivious to the need for a little human dignity. Women squat inside their skirts, their heads covered in veils, trying to create some sense of cloister.You stumble to the rocky hillside where clusters of men claw at the hard earth, creating holes just deep enough to cradle the shrouded bodies they gently place there.

The holes don’t need to be deep, for the bodies are very thin. They bury 75 each day, sometimes more. Most are babies. At night you retreat to the other side of the straw wall that encloses this awful world. You collapse — ashamed of your small and temporary hunger, of your selfish fears — on a cot, in a small straw hut. You’re grateful that it’s dark, that you will not have to look at things for a few hours, but you can still hear. You hear coughing and vomiting and whimpering and keening. You hear shouts, angry bursts of life, and rasps that rattle to silence as seventy-five more people die. Then you hear something else: singing. You hear sweet chants and deep rhythms. Each night, over and over, at about the same time. You think you are hallucinating. You wonder if you have gone quite mad from your fear. How could people sing in the face of this horror? And why? You lie in the dark and you wonder until the mercy of sleep claims you.

Daylight comes again, and you open your eyes.

I went to Africa in 1985 to report on the Ethiopian famine for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. I had never been outside of North America. The singing intrigued me. It took me several days to find out what it was. I had to go through several translators, until someone finally told me that it was storytelling. When the villages in Ethiopia and what is now Eritrea finally got too parched or too bombed for people to survive there, they got up, en masse, and walked to the famine camps.

Then they settled, in whatever little huts they could find, as a village. They continued whatever rituals they could. One of their rituals was their nightly storytelling. The elders gathered the children around and they sang their songs. It was their version of school. It was how they carried their history and culture and law with them. It may have been my first conscious awareness of the power, history, and universality of storytelling. We all grew up with stories, but do we ever stop to think about how much they connect us and how powerful they are?

Even, or especially, in the face of death these stories live on, passed from elder to younger, from generation to generation, carried with as much care as those precious jugs of water. Events pass, people live and die, life changes. But stories endure. Several years after I went to Sudan, I stumbled across what has become one of my favorite books, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. He writes, „Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased and there is nothing to remember except the story.

I asked Tomas Alex Tizon, who used to work with me at The Seattle Times, why human beings need stories, and he replied: Thank God for stories – for those who have them, for those who tell them, for those who devour them as the soul sustenance that they are. Stories give shape to experience and allow us to go through life unblind. Without them, everything that happens would float around, undifferentiated. None of it would mean anything. Once you have a version of what happened, all the other good stuff about being human comes into play. You can laugh, feel awe, commit a passionate act, get pissed, want to change things.

My friend and fellow writer Katherine Lanpher, who wrote for the Pioneer Press and is now with Air America, told me this about stories: Stories are the connective tissue of the human race, whether you are dissecting a school levy or South Korean politics. At the heart of every issue is a human element that leads to the three most beautiful words in the English language: What happened next? If you answer that question, you are a storyteller. They say language makes us human. That notion is being challenged as we discover that apes have language. Whales have language. I welcome them into our fold. I’m not threatened by them, quite frankly, because I think that stories make us human. Only by telling them do we stay so.

Stories are our prayers. Write and edit them with due reverence, even when the stories themselves are irreverent. Stories are parables. Write and edit and tell yours with meaning, so each tale stands in for a larger message, each story a guidepost on our collective journey. Stories are history. Write and edit and tell yours with accuracy and understanding and context and with unwavering devotion to the truth.

Stories are music. Write and edit and tell yours with pace and rhythm and flow. Throw in the dips and twirls that make them exciting, but stay true to the core beat. Readers hear stories with their inner ear. Stories are our soul. Write and edit and tell yours with your whole selves. Tell them as if they are all that matters. It matters that you do it as if that’s all there is.

Reporter Forum Von Jacqui Banaczynski

Monday, September 5, 2016

Making Sense out of Change -

This month, and transitioning into my least favorite month - Pinktober, I resolve to continue on this path - 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Timpanogos Storytelling Festival -

Tonight was the last night of a week of beauty up Provo Canyon. The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival has been in my life for more than 15 years, and for most of those years I have been in charge of the music for the festival (a mini-music festival). Sweet Jenna has been on my committee for years, and this year, I was on her committee. A beautiful changing of the guard.

I've never had a "performing" talent. I don't dance, sing, play a musical instrument (well, Christmas music and hymns on the piano), but tonight I realized I do have such a talent. My talent is to assemble a platform for artists to share, to bring artists to audiences, audiences to artists; I'm the backdrop to their beauty.

While I participate every year with the music, I also spend time listening, listening for new, and I continue to learn and be entertained. One of my all-time favorite storytellers is Kevin Kling. I've heard him several times over the years, and his stories either make me laugh or cry. This year was no different.

Another favorite is Bil Lepp. He is hilarious.

And of course, the music. This year Hot House West, and their gypsy jazz kept my toes tapping.

I am grateful for performers and for behind-the-scene'ers. It's pretty beautiful when we all get together. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

My 4 Year, Campus Cruelty, Heal the World -

I was going to write about how 4 years ago my life was forever changed - I found my lump. But I'm not; I'm good.


This evening, on campus, a student at UVU was raped.

The campus police officer told me this is the second on-campus rape in the two weeks school has been in session.

Tonight this young man is too scared to be alone.

NO ONE deserves to be hurt, shamed, bullied, coerced.

Whose life is changed forever? Mine? The young man's? The rapist's?

Go figure -