Thursday, September 21, 2017

Elevator Pitch -

This week I've been teaching my students how to consolidate their research into a 5 floor elevator pitch. You know - when you're on an elevator, someone asks you who you are, what you're doing, where you're going, what you're presenting on, and you have approximately 5 floors to answer that question.

My students need to be able (well, anyone) to verbalize what their research papers are about, in a succinct, precise, brief, clear approach - no humming, full of confidence, and hopefully, do that in 3 floors, with 2 floors left for feedback!

As a college professor, that's been easy for me to do: "I teach Freshman and Sophomore writing and a Folklore, or Cultural Studies course." Bing batta boom, message sent, plenty of time for questions and conversation.

As a chaplain, an introduction is horrible. "I'm a chaplain, a clinical chaplain, at a major hospital. I work with those who are dying, or have received a diagnosis that has rocked their very foundation." Beautiful - but what does that mean? "When we face any major upheaval in our lives, our entire being is traumatized. My focus is to help those who are in this situation as they question their beliefs, their values, their life's purpose." Or - "I listen as others sort through their thoughts and feelings."

But I had a friend awhile back who said to me, "Ronda, who are you? What do you stand for? What's your life purpose?" Yikes! Don't pin me down! I felt cornered, caught, tied down, and then stuck in that spot until I could give an answer. And my life is not one that is static - I am constantly on the move, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and to be asked to put myself in a box just about caused me an anxiety over-dose.

Today I attended a meeting at UVU (where I teach), and while one of the presenters talked about the Inclusion initiative at UVU, my elevator pitch to my friend, and to ya'll came to me.

"My deepest desires are to make sure that every person has a place to land where they can feel safe, share their story, and be heard." "I am one of those safe places."

There you go - that's what I've worked for and toward, all my life. My academic world, my professional world, my chaplain world, my interpersonal world. These are the people I'm attracted to, and quite often, they are attracted to me. Put the message out - verbally or silently, and it will be heard.

I came home from this early morning meeting quite happy - feeling at peace. I did it! I created my elevator pitch, defined my "mission," and expressed my deepest emotions, all in the matter of 5 floors, or a lifetime - depending -

What's yours?





Monday, September 18, 2017

Circumstances -

I've been thinking about this a lot lately - while it rings true to me, I wonder if it's just a little too simplified. Yet I know that whether circumstances reveal or the refiner's fire unveils, once we're down to our essence we're pretty exposed to the realities of the world and how we work in that world.



Thanks, Values.com, for sharing this thought with me today. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Waiting -

Remember the days of dial-up internet? Waiting and waiting and waiting - for the phone line to be available, for the connection to be made, for the computer to accept, for information to load? 

My husband - he'll tell anyone who asks that he waited for me for 16 years, and that the waiting was worth every minute. After being together me for 13.5 years though, he still does a fair share of waiting. For example:

Waited for me this morning as I showered and got ready for work, prior to us eating breakfast. 
Waited for me in the car (I'll just warm the car up, hon) while I gathered all my materials for the day. 
He takes me to work (I love that time with you), which means he waits a few minutes more to begin his day. 
He'll pick me up from work, take me to job #2 (UVU), and for sure he'll wait when picking me up after classes tonight - there's always a student or two who want to talk after class . . . 
He waits for me when I stroll rather than hurry; he waits for me when I visit with someone rather than scurrying right out the door; he waits for me to check emails before he can read the latest news. 
And the list goes on. 
He usually has a book or a radio, which makes the waiting more tolerable. 
He's a patient man. 
But then, what does patience look like? 
Is it the waiting, is it the learning to wait, is it being at peace with the waiting? 

So I've always been told I'm impatient. "Ronda, just be patient." "Ronda, slow down so others can catch up," etc., but then I think about the waiting I do in a day - 
Wait for patients to arrive (often late).
Wait while patients share their stories. 
Wait with patients. 
Wait for doctors, nurses, medical staff. 
Wait for students. 
Wait with students. 
And I've learned how to be peacefully present while waiting. 
I have to be present while I'm patient. I wish I could have a book with me, but no. 

More than Scott being patient with me, and me being patient with others, I'm learning how to be patient with myself. Time - being is a good place; being present, available, aware, engaged, or not, waiting is not an evil. 

"I waited for you for 16 years," takes on a new definition, when understanding that waiting is letting the path unfold, in front of us, with no idea what the future is to bring. Being in the moment, living for today, trusting the process, having joy in the being. 

Waiting - a good characteristic. "Hi, I'm Ronda, and I'm waiting."





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Past, Present, Future - 4 Generation Pic -

This photo, today, describes who I am, more than any picture or any story could. I love these women, and this Tom.





Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bugs and Lemonade -

So – Scott and I took a much-needed, 5 night, break and drove to McCall, Idaho (north of Boise) for what was supposed to be a stay in a cabin on a lake. Ha! The cabin was nice, the lake was across the street, but we couldn’t see it from the cabin because of the bigger cabins on the lake-side, the beach was a dingy dirty rocky sandy little area, the water had receded, so the dock that was so beautiful in the pictures was on dry ground, surrounded by muck! And then, to make matters worse, the area was covered in smokey haze from fires all around, so we couldn’t even see the lake or the mountains. And – Scott and I both got sick with stomach flu day 2. And – well, it wasn’t the dream mountain vacation I was hoping for!

Thank heavens Scott and I have both been through enough hard times in our lives to recognize and realize that we didn’t need to make this any tougher on ourselves than it already was. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, sometimes making lemonade is impossible, so you just have to accept that there are going to be lemony, sour, pucker up days, and roll with it, and we did: thank goodness the bed was comfy, there was a DVD player and a video store nearby, we had cold cereal to eat, and there were toilets that flushed and running water. And really, there wasn’t anything we could do but just make it through our situation.

However, last night we decided that since we have a busy week this week, no sense in arriving home tired on Monday evening, so we drove home today, using our day off tomorrow to really rest for the week. Good decision! We're unpacked, wash is happening, stomach is still deciding where it's rolling, and life. goes. on. 

I guess my “and thus we say,” or moral to my story is – sometimes you’re the windshield (or lemonade), sometimes you’re the bug (or lemon); but regardless, I've learned, and continue to learn, rolling with our circumstances, rather than fighting them, can be a good way to go!


And - we had a safe, warm, dry, happy home to come home to. Praying for those who want similar. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

This week -

Five years ago this week - whew, although I'm feeling a little anxiety today. So I'm taking the week off to "ommmm." In the meantime, I found this bit of good news -

Triple negative breast cancers tend to recur within a few years and when they recur, prognosis is usually poor. However, because triple negative breast cancers tend to recur early, if a woman survives five years without a recurrence, her chances of survival are high.

Once the five years are over, TNBC cancer rarely relapses, and a person can feel confident that they’ve been victorious over their cancer.


In celebration - this - 




Saturday, September 2, 2017

Scary Story -

Once upon a time there was a middle'ish aged woman. She thought she knew what needed to be known.


Then one evening she found a lump in her breast.

That's when her lessons began.


Five years later the fear is still there - and the unknown is far greater than the known.

to be continued . . .

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Huff Post on Melania -

Great article/editorial -

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Contributor

The Problem With Melania Isn’t Her Shoes

Her silence, not her stilettos, should be of concern to us all.





NICHOLAS KAMM VIA GETTY IMAGES
I don’t care what Melania wears, I care what Melania does.
I don’t care if Melania walks in stilettos, I care if she uses her platform to defend sexual assault as “boy talk.”
I don’t care when her portrait is airbrushed, I care when she says she will fight cyberbullying but instead continues to stand by the biggest cyberbully in her own backyard.
I don’t care when her hat says FLOTUS, I care that she is FLOTUS ― that she uses one of the more powerful positions in the world to do anything productive, save promote her personal brand and line her personal pocketbook.
I do understand the instinct to critique her, whenever and however possible. Her husband is a morally repugnant and dangerous leader, and she stands by him, silently waving, smiling, and normalizing his despicable behavior. My spirit was crushed when I realized that my four young children would grow up with him as our president instead of one of the smartest, most accomplished, and experienced women in politics. And Melania as First Lady is setting a terrible example for my daughters. She is passive when we want her to be substantive, an object when we want her to be an agent, and prejudiced when we want her to be inclusive. And so I too want to poke holes in her carefully manipulated image. But I refuse to do that by commenting on her footwear.
Because when our critiques of Melania focus on her appearance, we play right into her and Trump’s hands. We are complicit in their worldview that demands women act mostly as prized possessions, in a Barbie-esque package, who speak only on script. And when we judge one woman in power on superficial terms, we make it acceptable to judge anywoman on those same terms. And that has real world consequences for how we see and value women - and how women see and value themselves.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

New (to me) Author - David Joy, et al -

So, David Joy's writing is refreshing, irritating, laughable, gritty, and pure Southern. I found him on The Bitter Southerner, and his story about his grandfather had me laughing and hurting.

Give this young man a try; his "Blessed are the White Trash," certainly applies to others besides those living in the South.

And while you're at it, read "My Mother Wasn't White Trash," found at This Appalachia Life, and Hillbilly Elegy, a controversial memoir by young JD Vance.

With this quality of writing coming from young Southern men, the likes of Faulkner, McCarthy, Berry, Bragg, Ferris, are living on in these young men - strong material comes from a strong love and dislike for family, region, community, culture.

I'm always drawn to Southern raw/real/romantic writers - I think the portion of me that still longs for the life I left in the South, and the life I discovered while living there, lives on, vicariously, in pieces such as these.

Enjoy.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Zucchini Muffins, Lemon Muffins, and Service -

One of my favorite book titles is, Today I Baled the Hay to Feed the Sheep the Coyotes Ate. Interesting isn’t it! A rancher/farmer works so hard to take care of his sheep, and in the end, the coyotes love his sheep as much as he does!

Today, I baked nearly 10 dozen muffins – blueberry raspberry ones and zucchini chocolate chip ones. I also made nearly 2 dozen lemon ricotta pancakes. All are filled with extra protein. Why? To freeze and feed Scott and myself for a few weeks of breakfast, to share with our neighbors, and to get some healthy breakfasts into my mother. Scott also husked, cooked, and de-corned a dozen heads of corn, to freeze for use this winter.

What does our undertaking today have to do with the book title? Sometimes what we think we’re doing for ourselves is really for someone else, and they benefit just as much, or more, from our service as we do. In fact, cooking today was a joy, because service was at the root of it all. I wonder if the farmer sang to the coyotes as he planted his clover fields!

My father died last summer, July 5; he was a month shy of being 86. He’d been really really ill for the last 2 years of his life, and aging significantly for about 5 years. All but one of his children, and my mother, were around his bed when he died. It was a beautiful experience. Scott and I had the privilege of serving him, helping care for him, those last years. In fact, one of the reasons we purchased our home was to be close to my parents and Scott’s parents, helping them as they aged. And now, last Sunday, I took my mother to the hospital; she was not feeling well, and rather than “wait and see,” I took her to the ER, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was in the hospital for just 2 nights, which was enough! She’s home now, next door, and Scott and I are caring for her, with a little help from 2 of my sisters. Not only does she have pneumonia, but exhaustion, dehydration, and she needs to eat better.

Hence – today I baked to feed the people who fed me – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and who give me the opportunity to serve. If we listen, and if we act, we will always find ways to serve. And we are blessed in that act – those muffins weren’t only for others, they were for Scott and me too, and there were more than enough! ! (My grandmother, my mother’s mother – Geneve Jensen, taught me that food is always best when it’s shared.)



As with nearly everything I make, cook, sew, I seldom follow the recipe exactly. Hence - 1/2 white flour, 1/2 whole wheat, less sugar, raspberries with the blueberries, no glaze because then I can't freeze them, pumpkin pie seasoning rather than only cinnamon, chocolate chips too. For both recipes, to increase the protein in the muffins, I added extra eggs or egg whites and unflavored vegetable-based protein powder. For the zucchini bread, bake muffins for 20 minutes. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Plugfones - My Son -


I've written about Tyler's business a couple of  times -
and his business just launched a new product, and with that, a new website. If a momma can't boast about her kids, well . . .

Have a great weekend. And if you need some peace and quiet, give his Plugfones a try! I like 'em.










Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Feelin' It -

Tired, Overwhelmed, Grateful, Irritated, Calm - all emotions I'm feeling right now.

This week:
Mom in the hospital, then home with pneumonia and dehydration and exhaustion.
Added another class - now teaching 3.
New course curriculum for all 3 classes - means new lesson plans, new syllabus and calendar, etc.
Chaplaincy - need more hours to do everything I should be doing.
Diversity Council - presentations right and left.
Airbnb guests keep arriving and reserving.
Sleep - not much with responsibilities and commitments.

And wondering - Is caregiving the way of our life going forward? And who will care for Scott and I when we are older? And with a blended family, just whose responsibility is it to care for both/each of us?



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We Found Love - Running From -

A colleague asked me how Scott and I met, and whenever I share our story, I am reminded just how magical our meeting was. As I walked away from our conversation, with a smile on my face, this Ed Sheeran tune came to mind. And the line that has been running through my head - we found love right where we are - reminds me of how I was ready to run to another part of the US, where I thought I'd find myself and love, and yet, it was just across the street.

How often do we run, when really, if we stand still, the goodness will come to us? I'm a runner, learning how to be still.



Thinking Out Loud
When your legs don't work like they used to before
And I can't sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks

And darling I will be loving you 'til we're 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud

Maybe we found love right where we are
When my hair's all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don't remember my name

When my hands don't play the strings the same way, mm
I know you will still love me the same
'Cause honey your soul can never grow old, it's evergreen
Baby your smile's forever in my mind and memory

I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it's all part of a plan
I'll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you'll understand

But baby now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are, oh

So baby now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh darling, place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are
Oh maybe we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are

Songwriters: Amy Wadge / Ed Sheeran
Thinking Out Loud lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, The Royalty Network Inc.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Rain - "Soft Rain" 1972 -

I love a summer rain storm - the thunder, big warm raindrops, and often, the rainbow that comes as the storm rolls away.

I love the smell of rain on the dry dirt, on the dry concrete and pavement. I love the smell as the rain mixes with the day's heat.

I love the rush of the rain down the driveway, the rain gutters, the road gutter. And I love the possibility of splashing in puddles - without any worries of getting wet or dirty.

This past few days we've had some summer-time storms. Knowing the storm won't last, knowing that we need the moisture, knowing summer will return makes me look forward to these storms.

This evening, the thunder rolled in, and as I was in the garden picking beets and carrots with the grandchildren, with the raindrops beginning to plunk plunk down on the vegetables, a song popped into my head, totally unexpected:

"Rain falls, soft rain at my windows. . . . While the thunder's calling, there's a mighty hush about the world. . . . I will go outside where my sleepy head goes, feel the rain on my head, feel the wet on my toes. . . . And like the columbine, I want to bow my head to the rain. . . . A time to remember the beautiful things. To look for tomorrow and all our fondest dreams."

And suddenly I was 13-16 years old, singing, or playing, this song as a part of my church's youth choir. Nostalgia swept me away, and I felt the tears surface. I loved playing the introduction, the rhythm mimicked the rain, and the harmony was simple and so clean - just like the soft falling rain.



Rain Falls, by Janet Cox

Two other tunes sung during this same time were: Live Oak by Ron Simpson, and The Weed by K.L. Hicken. I remember them, but I can't find the songs or the lyrics. Anyone? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fri-Yay!

I've been on vacation - kinda. A family reunion is a big event, and the preparation, which began in January, has been bit by bit, but stressful at times. And just like my High School reunion, the actual event was wonderful, and I'm glad it's over!

So here's to Friday, a good weekend, and time to just destress, unwind, and enjoy the fact that my two huge summer commitments are over!


image via rifle paper co.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fire Fighter!

It is said Michael Douglas said, "Cancer didn't bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet." Now that doesn't sound like the words of a victim, or a survivor. Certainly it isn't the words of someone with puffed up pride.

Survivor?

Hero?

Fire Fighter!










Thursday, August 3, 2017

Feisty - Fire Fighting -

One of the things I continue to hear from my cancer patients, and their families, is that they became more "feisty" after their cancer diagnosis. Their BS meter is much more sensitive post-diagnosis than pre. Their tolerance for idle chit-chat, or small talk, is less. They are more interested in getting down to business than circling wagons. They don't want to be patronized. They want freedom, control, ability, knowledge. They have little patience for, "You ought to . . . "

So I asked Scott, "Has my personality changed since my cancer diagnosis?" And yes, and he used the same term, "feisty." However, he did say that my fire has become steadier over the years, the longer I'm out the calmer I've become. And I think it's because I'm continually learning that refinement is a process for more than coal and diamonds. A fire, even a refiner's fire, begins hot, coal hot, and then the temperature adjusts as time goes on, but heat needs to be engaged first. And with cancer and cancer treatments, "If the fire's too hot, get out," is not a possibility. So, we stay in the heat, and then adjust our feistyness as time moves forward. 

But there's not another way. There is no way that a woman, or man, thrown into the cancer journey can survive in that fire without fighting that fire with fire, finding their voice, saying yes or no, gaining knowledge, and being their best, and worst, friend. 

"You either fear the fire, or you simply become it," is a grand definition of one's cancer journey, or any journey that changes us - by forcing us to face our worst nightmares, and working through them, by being in the middle. And that's where feisty comes from. 

I am feisty. I am fine with that. I can blaze a path or walk on coals. I am also refined. I am happy with calm and a paved trail. But when the need arises, I am strong and furious and feisty! 






Monday, July 31, 2017

It's Always a Choice -

Today, just like every other day, I make multiple decisions:

To get up or stay in bed.
Exercise.
Shower.
Make up.
What to wear.
What not to wear.
Hair - straight or curly.
Breakfast - healthy, fast.
Work - time to arrive, time to leave.

And you get the idea.

But over the years I've found that while these are choices I make every single day, they are the most obvious, apparent ones, and yeah, while looking professional is important, and eating healthy and exercising is extremely important, I make other decisions that weigh heavily on me.

Am I a victim or a survivor - divorce, education, cancer, career.
Do I have a half-empty or half-full attitude.
Gratitude or unappreciative.
Engaging or isolating.
Supportive or needy.
Defensive or open.
Inviting or judging.

While I'm not always on the cheery end of the spectrum, there are a few things that keep me in the "Life is good" mode.

I have a choice.
I choose . . . .
Be the change.
Today is a new day.
Who is to blame?
Is there fault, or is it strictly attitude?
Am I Hungry Anxious/Angry Lonely Tired?
Where are the fingers pointing?

And when I'm physically hurting, I have to ask similarly and tell myself - "Trust the strong ones." Because I can't always be strong, but I always have a choice. And even if the choice is being weak or sad or ornery, it's still a choice.

New tattoo idea, "Be the change" across the side of my right foot. I learned this phrase from my father - "If you want something done, what are you waiting for? Do it." And while that's probably too much for my size 8 foot, "Be the change," is certainly the message that gleaned from his lessons, and one I've proudly carried with me. What do you think?






Friday, July 28, 2017

The Price for Peace -

It's been a great week; saying "NO" to something that was on my mind for so long has really been freeing. Even Scott has commented on how much at peace I've been. And I didn't even know it was causing me the unrest that it was - until that was gone, and woah, I'm a new person!

Earlier this week we had a house full of grandchildren, with lots of excitement and carpooling, thrown in. And I really didn't care. My house was a mess, there was lots of time spent in the car shuttling, and yet, we were happy. The kids had a great time, and honestly, so did I.

Peace is often hard to come by, yet how often is anxiety self-driven rather than other-driven? And when I found I could be the self to tell the other, well, peace came.

So going into the weekend, with amazing sleep all week, I'm happy to have found a few moments of "ommm." I hope you can as well.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Simple Summer -

I "feel like" I "should be" writing, but honestly, it's summer, and the living is "supposed to be" easy, and I like the idea of no obligations, no duties, no needs outside of my every day.

And I've had a chronic sinus infection since coming home from Switzerland, that doesn't seem to get any better regardless of medication.

So I only do what I feel like doing, and since this rarely happens, rather than feeling guilty, I'm enjoying.

And I'm not writing.

Happy Monday -


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Traveling Light - Leaving Baggage Behind -

A key tenant for chaplains endorsed by my endorsing organization (CPSP) is that we "travel light." This belief is that we hold no animosity toward others, we choose to not judge, we carry no bundles of books and robes and collars and banners, and we own no buildings. We are travelers, bringing with us who we are, not what we have.

This principle goes well with my personal beliefs - baggage only makes the journey harder, heavier, less enjoyable.

When I was going through cancer treatments, there were days when I lay in bed and cleared my mind - sorted and sifted through my own emotional baggage, and asking for forgiveness where possible, giving forgiveness where necessary.

And on the days when my blood count was low, but I was functioning, I sorted and sifted through my house. Cabinet by cabinet, room by room, corner by corner, I touched and tossed or saved every single item in my house.

By the time April 18, 2013 rolled around, my mind and my house were much lighter.

But just because my house is more clean and better organized does not mean my traveling lighter has ended. I notice my baggage often, and I try to attack it immediately rather than letting it sit around taking up space.

For instance - my "no" last week? That mess was with me for quite some time, but as soon as it was over, I reviewed the experience, looked for what I could learn from it, and then moved past it. In fact, even the thought of undertaking that potential journey was heavy, there was baggage from the beginning that I would have to carry - baggage that was not mine. Last week an encounter with a work colleague that wasn't smooth took a short, "I'm sorry, how can I do better," and then a promise to do so, and a step forward. Today I had a tiny melt-down with Scott. And rather than even carry that with me through the day, I quickly owned my anger (really anxiety and doubt), asked for forgiveness, and moved into the day - and thank heavens so did Scott, also choosing to travel light. Emotional house cleaning is as beneficial as literal, and when the two are combined, as they were today, well, I feel so much better - and both of my houses look dandy!

When we left for Amsterdam we took an extra piece of luggage, just for keepsakes, and we spent a decent amount of time looking for things we could bring home - mementos as well as gifts. And the gifts we shared were awesome and well received.

But we decided our trip to Switzerland would be a great opportunity to travel lighter, with only our backpacks and no room for souvenirs.

Talk about freedom! Traveling around the country with only what we could carry on our back gave us the opportunity to not shop, but to look, linger, savor, our experiences. We each bought a small item, and we brought home some chocolate, but otherwise, we arrived home with what we took from home. Wow - did that make unpacking easy!

Now I'm not talking about living a life with no obligations, responsibilities, or memories, but I do know this - that when I'm traveling - whether in my heart, my mind, or with my own two feet, that I'm lighter when I'm carrying less - when I'm not burdened, but lightened by my load.

As a chaplain this is extraordinarily important - if I bring my burdens into a visit with a patient, they can sense this; I add to their load, and then, interestingly, I add their load to mine - I don't want to bring any type of illness "back with me." As a teacher this is so important - if I carried every student's "my dog at my paper," excuse I would be stuck under a pyramid of dog poop. I listen, reflect, and then move on, praying those I serve will find answers to their burdens, not praying that I will find an answer to their burden. And when I travel - particularly lately - I enjoy the few items in my suitcase, but knowing my choices are limited leaves me free to use my energy in other ways - especially of having experiences that will turn in to fond memories.

And my house? Oh goodness - ask me - "Where is your . . . " Because I'll know. I won't have to wonder and hunt and sort through piles to find it.

I keep reminding myself that the only things I can take with me are my experiences and my memories, and I will not leave my burdens or things, for someone else to carry when I'm gone. Some days I carry excess baggage, too much, belongs to someone else; I think we all do. But I find when I drop what's not mine, the world is a better place for everyone.

Travel light - part of the Hygge experience, part of Nourishing myself, Gleaning - taking only what I need, what I can use.
   


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sherman Alexie said "No" -

I thoroughly enjoy Sherman Alexie's writing. Brutal, honest, painful, hilarious, stunning. And this article about him pausing his book tour is so rich for me. It validates what I did this week. Self-care, we all need to say "no" when our heart, or our mothers, tell us to. If only we'll listen.

Read a report about his decision here.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Confident NO - And Sinuses -

I did it - I said "No," to something that's been creeping up on me for the past nine months. And oh, I had major angst about this "no." I tried and tried to figure out how a "yes" could work. I could get a loan, push through faster than normal, sacrifice for the betterment of society (i.e. Mormon's in chaplaincy particularly), and yes, I could make this work.

But I'll tell you something - I don't operate on confusion. When I can see a project clear, or mostly clear, I can take hold of it and make it into a blooming success. And I have enough of these to be confident in my abilities to make something out of nothing.

And this - no matter how I looked at it, I was wandering into a dust cloud - with too many folks telling me what I "should" do, too many unknowns, too many entities involved. Typically I talk these types of situations out with a confidante or two, but this one, it was for Scott and I to figure out.

Until I took a leap and called a colleague - not even a bestie, but someone I could trust, and who understood the magnitude of this decision. After listening to me, as I rambled and sorted, she said, "And what is in it for you?"

I hadn't really thought about this, because I figured I'd be altruistic here, doing what was best for the other, pushing for another two years, making this happen, forcing it to work, and, as the bargaining chips fell into place - well, it looks good, and they have confidence in me, I am the best person, so why not. But I'd forgotten about me. There was nothing in this project for me! Why on earth was I stewing over it?

And with that question, and my answer, I finally had my entire answer - NO. No excuses, no options, no negotiating, just a "No."

I have a tough time saying "No." I don't want to disappoint others, don't want to minimize their efforts or their confidence in me, and I'll make sacrifices to make things work. But this time, I realized I don't want to make sacrifices; I don't want to make things work for someone else. I want to make things work for me! And when I had to tell two organizations that I was not interested, "No," I felt free - really really free.

So here I am. I've been flowing snot, swallowing snot, coughing snot non-stop, since saying "No." And I believe my mind is purging, cleansing, removing, and I'm doing my best to honor this. And it feels so good to be releasing the expectations others had for me. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when the release will be finished, and I can input my plans - my dreams - my goals - that I've had on the back-burner for far too long.

Tissue, liquid, cough drops, nasal spray, good music, good book - gonna be a great day!




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yes - No - Yes - No -

Have you ever said "yes" when you really meant "no"?

Have you ever felt pushed into saying "yes," because someone has said "it's for your best" and then you felt obligated, thinking "then they must know"?

Have you ever had to say "no" after having said "yes"?

How do you do that? How do you say, "I know what's best for me"? "Thanks for the opportunity, but no"?

Even if it will make you "the first," "famous," "a rock star," a "pioneer," a "ground-breaker," and all you want is to do what's best? All you want to do is be a good person, a listener, a guide, a mom and grandma.

And then what?






Monday, July 10, 2017

Sunday Dinner and Ex's -

Keegan turned 9 on Saturday. He is a beautiful child, so much like his father, so much like his mother - kind, funny, fair, friend to all, still a hugger, loves to run around without a shirt (suns out, guns out), loves people, cautious, tease, and so much more. 

Yesterday was his family birthday dinner. Tyler sent me a text mentioning it was for "all" the grandparents. That's at least seven grandparents. Five of those grandparents came, two were in Hawaii. That means - Alice (great-grandma), Scott and Ronda, Ex and his wife. 

It's the first time we've been together without any other in-laws. And having us all in the same room has been worrisome for most of us; I think to some degree it's been tough on Jenna and Tyler and their spouses - how will their parents behave?

Why is that? It's been 14 years, life goes on, we're all adults, there is proper etiquette, etc. Nothing "bad" is going to happen; the worst thing that ever happened was the divorce. But that fear is still there - interesting how memories of the past can be actual physical triggers for the present. An upset stomach, shakes, sweats, headaches - all points of tension that can surface. 

This happened to me yesterday, and I push through "for the sake of the children," and then, nine times out of ten, it's just fine. And it happens to the kids, and they bully through, not allowing their parents' issues to become theirs.

And yesterday was decent. We even laughed together, joked about the past, Ex even making a remark that had me laughing out loud, and Tyler breathing a sigh of relief, stating, "Ok, I think we can move forward now." 

With the relief also comes some pain for me. Because as I'm listening to conversations, I thought of missed opportunities, mistakes, my anger, and the unrealized, or unmet expectations from that past life. 

There were things I wanted, things I thought I needed in my first marriage, that didn't happen - for either of us, and with this came my anger, my frustration, my fears, my dread. 

Why - in a relationship, is it that it's not necessarily money, sex, or in-laws that kill a marriage, but those expectations, that aren't even discussed, just assumed, that bring a marriage to its knees? My marriage dissolved because my needs weren't being met - or better yet, I claimed he wasn't meeting my expectations - over the years, not just over-night. 

And this time around - I've had to make sure that my expectations for Scott and my expectations for me are clearly verbalized, all of the time, and that I analyze and parse out what it is that I need from myself - not just what he needs to give me. And when my expectations aren't being met - well, I have to look at myself, reign the future back into the moment, and move forward in reality.

This morning, upon perusing Facebook, a friend had posted this - "The Silent Killer of Relationships," and guess what - Expectations. And I found validation, and to a small extent, sadness. I try not to live in the past; I'm so happy with Scott and I, but I wonder . . . 

Happy Day - 


Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Value of Education - Regardless - Call to Action -

As a young child, during the hot Idaho summer days, my friends, siblings, and I liked to play school. Funny - out of school, wanting to play school. And yet, when it was time to think about what I would do after high school, I felt like my choices were limited - get married or go to school to become a secretary, teacher, or nurse. I chose marriage.

I began college in 1991, I was 31, no college experience. I began school the year Jenna entered first grade, at Shoals Community College in Tuscumbia, Alabama. My first classes were mythology, sociology, and math (probably math 95).

I had always loved learning, but the day I stepped onto the college campus I fell in love with higher education.

We were in the quarter system, and I went to school there for about 6 quarters - taking math, literature, sociology, and a writing class.

We moved back to Utah one December, and in preparation for continuing my education, I contacted my friend, Merilynn, who put me in touch with her friend, Dawn, who was an academic advisor in the English Dept. at Utah Valley University (UVCC at that time). Merilynn had suggested a couple of her favorite professors, and Dawn helped acquaint me with the college.

After getting Tyler, Jenna, and Clark all in school, I began that journey myself. My first classes at UVU were an Organizational Behavior class, and Women's Lit class, and a Wordperfect class.

And I was off. After taking all the classes I could at UVU, I moved to BYU, where I took 2-3 classes a semester.

I graduated with my BA in English from BYU, and then, still hungry, I traveled to Utah State University weekly, and took summer week-long workshops, until I received my MA in American Studies/Public Sector Folklore in May, 2003.

That's 14 years ago, and I daily count my blessings for a family who supported me on my academic journey. While the kids complained about classes, homework, tests, teachers, I did the same. While the kids studied and wrote papers, I did similarly. When they were figuring out their class schedules, I did as well. And we all saw the value of education.

A year before I graduated from USU, I began teaching Folklore at UVU. Tyler and Jenna both took that class from me - what a blast to have my own children in the classroom. There were many days we drove to school together - and had great conversations as we did so. And thank heavens for Aunty Dawn and others who gave Tyler and Jenna the same great advice they gave me, and they helped them with class schedules just as they did me years earlier.

I never have left the classroom (well, I did take a leave for cancer treatments). I went directly from being a student to being an instructor. And I have loved every minute of it. I love, love, love learning. And the classroom - regardless of age and stage and gender and knowledge, is a tremendous place to learn.

I'm not saying we can't learn in a non-traditional environment - I have my chaplain certification because of a non-traditional classroom-hands-on learning situation, and the online learning world is rich. And I have learned through reading, studying, watching, creating - my entire life.

But there is something about tradition - the classroom, that breeds inquiry, questioning, critical thinking, and an environment rich and ripe with like-minded folks.

Lately I've been thinking about going back to the classroom, as a student. I hunger to be fed, to feed. To a large extent learning has been my sanity. It has kept me happy, functional, at peace with myself. I am a restless soul, and I can't even, don't even want to, imagine where I would be if it hadn't been for the ability to attend college. Learning is something I do well. And because of this, I have some sense of self and some self-confidence.

And as I listened to Eva Witesman's talk about Women and Education, I realized, again, how fortunate I have been to know the classroom, to know professors, to know students, and to be on both sides of the desk. Formal - or traditional, learning is incredible. And it is available to nearly every woman. Even Malala Yousafzai, and her champion father, understand the value of educating a woman.

We, women, MUST be the mirrors for our children, our husbands, or communities. We can speak, not only from a lifetime's worth of experience, but from our knowledge based on stretching our minds in a classroom, from being fed by those whose brilliance is that of a teacher. And we can share - by studying, complaining, writing, choosing, testing, thinking, with our children - by our example, we can teach the world, or at least, inspire our own to continue to learn.

I'm amazed, that in 2017, 27 years since I began my education, there are still men and women who say women don't need a higher education. I am worried that there are women (and men) who believe women are not worthy, capable, financially able, to get into a classroom to learn. Or that there is no need for them to have a higher education. I am saddened that talks such as Eva's are still necessary - and that we applaud them as spectacular.

When will we listen? When will we learn that learning is important for everyone? When will society understand that it's as important to know how to double as recipe as it is to understand the Socratic way of teaching and Kepler's laws of planetary motion? It is important we not only know how to grow tomatoes as it is to understand botany - and the need for healthy soil. We need to know not only what to do when our kids have snot noses, but to understand the respiratory system. We need to understand how the United States government is set-up, and how it can break down - so we can teach and vote and advocate for what is right - we must know our rights. And soooooo much more.

Someday, just as I was, there will be a time when necessity is as important as breathing. Whether that be the intense need, not just desire, to learn, to leave, to work, to find independence. And higher learning is a journey - which means, that just as buying a week's worth of groceries takes budgeting and planning, so does getting on that path to a Higher Education - and don't let anyone tell you there is no money for you to go to school. There are so many many many resources.

Eva - thank you for your talk, it was beautiful. And I'm saddened it was necessary.

(Addendum - I keep thinking of so much more I can say about this topic - never-ending, but one thing I've learned from being in the classroom all these years is this - sometimes you just have to push "print" and be finished.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

AA and Scott -

Today is Scott's Independence Day. 25 years ago he declared his independence from alcohol, or as he calls it, Jim Barleycorn.

I am so proud of this man, his journey, and his continual diligence in staying sober - he serves, he preaches, he teaches, he examples, he lives his sobriety.

Scott's youngest daughter, Julie, posted this on Facebook today, and I'm sharing here - to honor both of them.

Today Marks 25 years sobriety for my father! We will be celebrating tomorrow his mile stone! I have many different feelings growing up in a divorce home! As a little girl my dad was my hero! I have had many feelings I have had to work through as an adult! I do however believe it has been the change in him that I have been shown the capacity a person can change and over come with seeing this in him. I am grateful I was able to live with him the short time I did before I had Madison!! I can see a lot of my father in myself! I have learned the valuable lessons from him such as not caring what people think! Learning to stand up for what I believe in even if I am the only one standing! I have learned to be true to myself above all else! I have learned that life doesn't always turn out the way we may want but there is always a new day to begin again! I admire the honesty of what I can share with my father and the compassion he has always shown the under dog struggling! I have held this trait throughout my life because of him! I see the value in everyone where many would see it lacking because of him! I saw a man at my young age loose everything, not want anything to do with his religion, family You hold a love for your family and religion in your own way today.... and made a change to be a better man! I love you dad! I don't say or see you nearly enough! I do value the lessons that you taught and the memories you gave that you couldn't otherwise if you had not made the choice to change!! Much love and respect to your day of Independence from your old self!!! I love you!!






Saturday, July 1, 2017

Women and Education - Eva Witesman -

Regardless of your religious persuasions, listen to this -
well worth the 28 minutes,
and then let's talk. 





Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quiet - Introverts -

I've been quiet the past several days. Too much running around in my head to really sit down and write about it all.

Writing really does take energy, and sharing my writing has been a risk I've chosen to take these past nearly 5 years. But some days, even weeks, putting my thoughts, or better yet - exposing myself, in print is pretty scary.

So occasionally I choose to be quiet - on paper. However, the writing that goes on in my head never stops.

It seems when it's the noisiest around me, I want to tuck away, leave the madness - even if the madness is only just clutter in reality, and take time to be.

And that's where I've been.

Thanks for your patience, and love.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Mom - and Change -

I received a text this morning from my mother (well, I received several, but I'll talk about one specific). She wrote, "Call me when you have a minute. I promise, it's something good."

My mother HATES change. And this year has been full of changes, and she has done a spectacular job of rolling with the newness, even when she hasn't wanted to. In fact, she's been able to make decisions on her own (tough in the past; she works by consensus); take care of insurance and money issues (she hates money issues); ask for help (where did I get my independence from?); and take a couple of road trips, all by herself.

So I wouldn't say she's embraced the changes that have come since Dad's death, but she certainly has seen that changes will happen, and she can fight them, or surrender to win.

Mom still worries, gets overwhelmed, gets overly-caught up in projects, has a tough time making some decisions, but all in all, she's doing so well!

And today, when I called her, for the good news, she said, "Oh, oops, I forgot what I was going to tell you. I'll call you when I remember." I had to laugh. Because two constants about my mom are her desire to share and her desire to keep the family informed (I wonder who else she shared the good news with, or forgot to share.)

She called me back moments later, "I remember now. You will be so proud of me. Joan and Marianne invited me to lunch with them on Wednesday. And I said Yes!"

One thing about Mom is that she doesn't like "being a burden." Like she ever could be such. And she doesn't want anyone's pity, and typically her life revolves around family. So for her to say, "Yes," is a major event, one, yes Mom, that I do consider good news.

Way to go, Mom. So proud of you. So very proud of you. Thanks for sharing!




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Diamonds and Stones -

There are days when the sun shines and bird sing - however -

There are just some days, bundles of them, that feel like I am dragging a rock behind me and have boulders in front of me - that I cannot get over or around.

Since cancer I've felt like I've had more stones than diamonds, and while I'm sure that's probably not reality, these past few days, well, they've been stone and boulder days.

And I'm against a huge rock right now, not sure what to do - I wish I knew there were diamonds waiting for me on the other side.

It's just too hard to move forward into the unknown - aka crazy granite mountains. Ready for some sun - glistening, shiny, diamonds.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Cheers for Rigby High School - Reunion Time

I graduated from Rigby High School, May 1977. On June 16, we will hold our 40th class reunion. I am on the committee, as I was five years ago.

Ten years ago, newly married to Scott, I attended my 30th class reunion, held in Idaho Falls, ID. Not many folks knew I had divorced or remarried. Scott and I were still in our little love-bubble and trying to figure out our lives together, blending families, caring for parents, figuring out incomes, and I hadn't taken the time, nor did I think I needed to, to introduce him to my high school friends.

In fact, I really hadn't planned on attending the reunion. I wasn't popular in school - rather quiet and shy, although I think that often came across as "stuck-up." I didn't know how to small talk, couldn't even keep a conversation on a date (sorry, Kevin), I wasn't athletic, and I felt terribly awkward in almost any social setting. Thank heavens I had a few friends who accepted me as I was (forever grateful to you few), and I didn't feel alone. So going to a reunion to see "old" "friends" really wasn't my thing.

Yet for some reason, I have no idea why now, we went. I stressed over what to wear, and we braved the small daytime picnic and the larger evening reunion. It was fun seeing folks, and I was glad when the event was over.

Except for one thing. Allen Lofgran accepted the nomination to be over the next reunion, asking me to co-chair, and we invited all folks living in Utah to join our committee.




And those five years came - so quickly. The September before our 35th reunion, I messed up my back, had been down most of 6 months, and I really thought that had been my trial. I attended the reunion grateful to be on my feet without pain. I was invincible. I had made it through the back pain.

I was grateful for this reunion. We were missing two stalwarts of our class, and some of us had aged more than others, sickness had crept into a couple of lives, and I was grateful to see these classmates. Our old high school was being torn down, so we reunited at the high school cafeteria, one last time. And I was grateful I made the time to attend, even if planning was a pain. Thank you Allen, Dirk, Tammy, Sanette, Renea, Trudy, Diane, Gary, Kevin, LaRae.





Who knew that just one week after this reunion I would find a lump in my breast. Here I was congratulating myself on conquering back issues, and cancer jumped at me. Dare I say it's F'd up my life? Yeah, it has. At times these 5 years have been nearly more than I can handle. Scott and I, and family have not only lost the life we'd planned, but three parents have died, we've had a bundle more grandkids born, and even when I thought my life was really truly over, life continued to happen. Nothing could have prepared me, no one could have told me, and yet, time marched on, as I marched on.

And here it is, time for the 40th reunion, this week. And I'm scared - I weigh more, I have aged, I'm more cynical, more introverted, tired, and honestly - I still feel as I did when I graduated all those years ago - shy, quiet, not-belonging, and not sure if this group of people really need me at the reunion. I won't be missed. But I'm going - I'm on the committee! We volunteered to organize it one more time - we had the spreadsheets, the Facebook group, the contacts, the knowledge, why not. And talk about a wonderful committee - the same folks, a few rotating out, some in - Dirk, Gary, Allen, Sally, Sally, Renea, Trudy, Jean. I'm grateful for these folks. Good people.

So we'll dine, visit, rodeo, visit, crack jokes about age, wrinkles, hair, life, visit. And we'll remember the few who have died these past 5 years, and I'll be grateful I'm able to attend the reunion.

But what I want to say is this - you know during that year of surgeries, chemo, radiation, healing - where did I go? What did I do while just surviving? Remember. My memories were sometimes all I could pick up. And those included my years with my friends in grade school, junior high, high school. So even in my not-belonging, I went to where I did belong - to friendships made years ago, and the memories that accompanied those relationships.

Our class song, for graduation was Seals and Crofts, "We May Never Pass This Way Again." And I've thought of those lyrics so many times over these 40 years. You see - while my classmates may not need to see me, may not need to spend time with me, I need to at least be that fly on the wall to see them - to let them know they kept me alive, even when I wanted to die, was dying, those memories, their faces, were with me. And those who won't be at the reunion - don't you think for one moment that I won't miss you. You mattered; you matter.

I won't be on the committee for the 45th reunion, and although that's 5 years down the road, who knows what will happen - who will die, who will live, whose lives will be dramatically altered.