Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Lifelong Learning

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: “We will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time. … But remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly with spiritual sight, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. …

“… And since what we will need to know is hard to discern, we need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn. It also means that we cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark” (“Education for Real Life,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 18, 19).

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “A few of the basic attributes needed to become a lifelong learner are courage, faithful desire, humility, patience, curiosity, and a willingness to communicate and share the knowledge that we gain. …

“My dear sisters, don’t ever sell yourself short as a woman or as a mother. … Do not let the world define, denigrate, or limit your feelings of lifelong learning and the values of motherhood in the home—both here mortally and in the eternal learning and benefits you give to your children and to your companion.

“Lifelong learning is essential to the vitality of the human mind, body, and soul. It enhances self-worth and self-actuation. Lifelong learning is invigorating mentally and is a great defense against aging, depression, and self-doubt” (“The Journey of Lifelong Learning,” in Brigham Young University 2008–2009 Speeches [2009], 2, 8–9).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quittin' Time

My Visiting Teachers are going to be here in 45 minutes and so I did a quick "pick-me-up" of the house and pulled out the trusty Hoover. I made it through the living room, the we-aren't-sure-what-to-call-it-but-technically-it-is-a-formal-dining-room-but-it-currently-houses-Mr. Amazing Man's-computer-and-book-collection room, the entry & the hallway before this happened.

This particular Hoover has been across the country and back several times, seen me through a child and graduate school and only recently has developed the nasty habit of not turning on. So in a fit of ingenuity that only a Special Ops. soldier can muster up, Mr. Amazing Man rigged it so that it will turn on and off...but only when I plug it into the wall or unplug it from the wall. It hasn't been a problem until I sucked up my shoe lace this afternoon.

Aside from the mad dash down the hallway to unplug the Hoover and the acrid smoke hanging about my office, it isn't really a problem now either. It is more funny than anything. And as my dear sister-in-law always says, funny goes a long, long way.

I took the event to signal that I am done for the day. Even the laundry is going to have to wait because I am going to go play Lego Star Wars with the Good Professor. That beats vacuuming any day of the week.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

In the Eye of the Beholder

Remember that shell-of-a-bug from that other post that set me to dreaming about Hawaii? On the other side of the tree, this is what I found staring back at me.

A wee bit spooky at first, but lovely nonetheless, wouldn't you agree?

As I worked my way around the tree, I encountered a mass of...I don't know, some green growing thing that grows on trees. Moss? Lichen? Perhaps I need to call my New & Improved Dad and find out if he knows. He knows everything there is to know about green growing things seeing as he is a plant doctor.

At any rate, this yet unidentified green thing (UGT) was mesmerizing.

And what!? Tiny mushrooms growing on the side of the tree??? As a daughter of the high desert, I am still startled and delighted by the abundance of green life here on the east coast. I mean, come on. How cool is it that my tree is growing miniature mushrooms?

Travel Plans

This morning as I was watering my plants, I noticed this guy. Errr...what is left of him anyhow.

And I thought to myself, "I know that feeling."

And then I thought, "How did he do that? How did he get out of his shell and leave it behind, perfectly intact and just disappear? Where did he go?"

I know exactly where I would have headed. Hawaii.

How about you? If you could shed your skin with the apparent ease of this critter and escape for a while, where would you go?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Working Mom

I noticed this little feller sitting there by the bird feeder looking a bit disheveled. The pin feathers sticking up on his head, the wing feathers all skewampy. Something told me he was a fledgling. Then over hopped mama.

At first, he just danced around, turning this way and that. I could almost hear her sighing and saying, "Son, open up you mouth! It's lunch time." It was like watching the avian version of "airplane" or "choo-choo train" at feeding time.

"Come on son, just open your mouth and eat already. Do I need to set the timer?"

"If you don't open up right now, I am going to put the wii away for the rest of the day."

Finally, he listened to his mother and had his lunch.

Let me tell you, that was one hard working mother.

A Love Letter of Sorts

Dear Mr. Amazing Man -

I knew it would be difficult to sort through those boxes of papers. I just wasn't prepared for the searing, crushing, and soul shredding process it turned into.

I am not sure what was worse: the letters from my mother over the course of about three years in the early '90s, stunning in their terseness and acerbic lack of any mercy or tenderness for her oldest living daughter. Or the letters from my bio-dad while he was in prison for child molestation, not signed "Dad" but with "Prisoner #" with the return address of "The Cell of....". Or the pictures of my precious Boo Bear tucked in among the other things. Or the faded letter from the Bishop requesting my presence  before a disciplinary court for possible excommunication. Or my first marriage license and pictures from the day I married M.

I think it was the letters from my mom. After reading about 15 of them, I finally stopped opening them to pour over the pages of her hastily scrawled words. I kept hoping that one of them would simply say, "I love you. That is all. Love, Mom" without any theological grandstanding or belittling or moral lecturing but...

I finally gave up. 

Blessedly, throughout the process,  I would find card after card from you tucked among the deleterious content in those boxes. Thank God for you. Like a bas relief, you became very apparent. Over the past 16 years, you have been the golden, shining thread that weaves through my life. Your love for me is my rock and my refuge. As I sorted through the other items, my soul became hungry to find that next card, that next letter, that next note from you.  I knew when I slipped it from the envelope and opened it up, I would be greeted by nothing but love for me and belief in my abilities to overcome the struggles in my life. Your letters and cards were the Balm of Gilead to my wounded heart yesterday afternoon.

You have never flinched as I have slowly unwound the knotted life I have lived. You have always believed that the wounds and scars I bear make me more beautiful, more human, more humane. You have never doubted my ability to overcome all of this. You see in me what even my own mother cannot or did not see.

I can see my reflection in the computer monitor... my forehead drawn together, my lips pulled tight, tears brimming over already puffy eyes. And the headache - the headache that only comes from crying oneself to sleep and waking to tears again in the morning.

This morning, I threw out the letters from my mom, mainly because neither of us need to be reminded of how awful that time period was between us. I think she would find it embarrassing to read how hurtful she was in those letters because she is not that same woman. And for me...well, it still hurts nearly 20 years later to re-read them.

I threw out the letters from my bio-dad.

I threw out the letter from the Bishop.

I threw out the license and pictures from my first marriage. I used to think that Captain Knuckle would want them but he has enough of his father, me, and him together that he doesn't need to see the ones from that overcast day in April 1995.

The pictures, letters, license, and summons now sit on the curb, waiting for the garbage man to pick them up in a half of an hour. 

But I kept the pictures of Boo. And needless to say, I kept the cards from you.

I love you. Thank you for loving me all of these years. 

Much love -

Your adoring wife, M.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Resolution: Lose 1000 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. I decided today that I am going to lose 1000 lbs. The plan hatched as I cleaned out a closet in preparation for The Amazing Ms. A. to come live with us in October. I realized I had a lot of stuff that I really didn't need, just tucked away in places that are far to convenient and out-of-sight. Staring at the mound of stuff in the middle of the room, I realized I really needed to let some things go so they can bless someone else.

Hopefully some of the 1000 pounds will be stuff currently attached to my hips and thighs, but the vast majority of it will come from all unused, unneeded, unwanted stuff stashed around my house. Every thing is fair game - books, clothes, household goods, plants, new stuff, old stuff - everything but the kids, the husband, and the cat. Unfortunately, I don't live in a place where I can even remotely consider holding a yard sale, so most of this stuff is going to be donated to my favorite local thrift store. Maybe I will sell some of the stuff on eBay, maybe do some consignment shop stuff with the boys clothes they have outgrown, or maybe I will give some to the neighbors. All I know is 1000 lbs. has got to go.

I will keep a running total on here just for kicks and try to get pictures of the piles of stuff before I haul them away. I have no idea how long it will take for me to reach this goal. Should I even set a date or just keep working until I do it? The perpetual student in me wants a deadline but I am not sure. I will have to think about that for a couple of days.

Wish me luck friends, neighbors, and countryman. I am about to embark on a serious dejunking of the family homestead.

The Good Professor Knows How to Work It

Look at those yummy chocolate brown eyes, those lips, the cheeks! How does a parent say no to that face?