Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I am that I might have joy.

I was driving home tonight, holding my husband's hand, and was so enveloped in joy that I knee-jerk wondered - fear in the thought - "What horrible thing is going to happen next?"

Then I laughed at myself as a scripture came to mind:  "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy."

For the record:  in this context might does not mean or even imply maybe.  I'm serious.  Think about that for a second (unless you have known it for years.  Even then, just take a second.)

How do I know?  Well, grammatically, if it meant maybe we would be able to reword the scripture this way:  "Adam fell that man perhaps could exist (there are no guarantee's after all), and men are (wait, didn't we just say that man might not be at all?) that they maybe could happen upon some joy if they were lucky while traipsing along their possible lives on earth; like accidentally stepping in gum or dog poop.  Maybe."

I'm pretty sure that's not right.  "Adam fell so man would exist, and men exist so they may/can experience joy." Implying that we could not have experienced joy without coming.  Got it?  Makes so much more sense.  Especially coming from the God that I am familiar with and worship every day, whose commandments I keep because they bring me joy

Anyway, so then I took a moment to examine why I assumed that something bad would happen just because I was so happy.  It didn't take me long to find the infected root and the dirty water system that fed it.  How many times have we heard "Opposition in all things" in a context that clearly states: "When there is good, bad will follow."  Or "I am doing well now, so Satan will come at me again soon."  Or even, "I better not get too used to these blessings, because they will be taken away eventually because - after all - 'opposition in all things.'"

I'm just going to say it:  I'm getting really tired of people saying things they don't think about long enough to understand. 

I know, I'm judging.  I know that.  I'd like to not to.  Wait, that's another one of those things.  "Judge not," they say, but then forget to include, "that ye be not judged."  And they totally ignore the other scriptures regarding judgement, particularly this one in Matthew: "judge not unrighteously, … but judge righteous judgment."

I loved this by Dallin H. Oaks:

"I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles." View the entire talk here

I NEVER hear that part of it in a RS lesson.  NEVER. 

Not being taught properly may not seem like a big thing, but it must be.  Because as I was experiencing a great feeling of joy, it was immediately followed by my feeling afraid, ashamed, anxious, and wary of what would be coming around the corner to take it away.  I wondered what I must be ignoring because I couldn't possibly  be righteous enough to be happy.  If  I knew myself and my eternal standing well enough, I wouldn't have time to feel this great joy.  Right?  Isn't that what I'm being taught and have been taught in RS and Young Women and Seminary for as long as I have been in those classes? 

I believe that the teachers are attempting to teach humility and faith through hardship.  But - and I'm coming up against a lot of this recently - no one is asking or answering the most important question:  "Why?"

*Why are there hardships?
*Why do we have children?
*Why do we keep the commandments?
*Why do we pray?
*Why do we attend church?
*Why do we clean our houses?
*Why do we care for others?
*Why do we feed our children, husbands, pets and occasionally friends?
*Why do we pay tithing?
*Why do we do anything while on this earth?

I'll tell you the answer, just as the Lord has:  Men are that they might have joy.

The whole reason for EVERYTHING is to experience joy.  And whose job is it?  God's?  Actually He did His part already.  He came up with a plan (fool-proof, really, seeing as the Atonement is INFINITE), made an earth, gave us a Savior and sent us down here with complete agency (meaning, the ability and freedom to act as our own agent, free of force.)  It took a lot of guts for him to do that.  Joy and progression must be pretty important.....
So God has done everything within His power to offer us joy.  Of course, as they say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."  You can give your children Christmas presents galore, but you can't make them happy.  You can give your wife an evening away from the children when she asks for it, but you can't make her calm the heck down and appreciate how great it is to be with the children.  You can buy a new car, but you can't control the other moron who just rear-ended you.... 

Father gave His children the world and all the tools needed to enable them on their joy-bound journey,  but He, our great Father in Heaven, will not EVER force a single one of us to experience joy.

 In that same vein, He will never take joy from us. 

"Know this, that ev’ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is giv’n:
That God will force no man to heav’n.

He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind."
- Hymn 240


God is not playing a game of chess, nor is He running a lottery.  Our nightly prayers or daily scripture studies do NOT enter us into that great contest in the sky and up our chances of getting His pre-determined number of blessings to fall on our heads rather than someone else's. 

So why commandments?  Because the children of Israel said, "What should we be doing?"  And God has always told His children, "Ask and ye shall receive," so he gave them some pretty great advice. 
Don't kill, don't steal, honor your parents, don't fornicate, keep the Sabbath Day holy etc.

(and hey - don't even get me STARTED on what I'm being taught about the Sabbath Day... I'll do a whole separate blog on that later.)

I've kept those commandments - or at least I've made it my life's work to keep those commandments -  especially the "higher law" versions of "Love God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength" and "Love one another."

And ya know what, I'll tell you the result:  I'm a pretty freaking happy woman. 

I was not always so.  Three years ago I had almost exactly what I have now.... but I wasn't happy.  I mean, I was essentially happy or content or whatever, but what I'm feeling now is so vastly superior to that emotion that it really doesn't compare.

What changed?  I did. 
According to modern day prophetic advice, I upped my Gratitude.  Holy make a difference, Batman!

Because, okay, eternal perspective.  That means - assuming we trust in God and trust that the whole reason for this entire thing is our joy - we gotta look at every experience with the question:  "So how does/can this bring me/heighten my joy?"

I'm not stupid and I realize that in many situations, there will absolutely seem to be no answer.  At least no answer that is outside the realm of sarcasm.  :)  But let's remember the part where we are trusting God.  He doesn't lie.  When He says that "men are that they might have joy," He was absolutely NOT B.S.-ing us. 

For instance, as we were driving home and my  22-week pregnant belly began to contract, signaling the coming snowstorm, and I whimpered with discomfort.  Muad'Dib expressed his concern that perhaps this whole meteorological anomaly was odd and he didn't remember me going through that with the others..... which led us to think about my last two pregnancies.  And boy do we have a lot to be thankful for with this one. 

I look at what two dear women are going through, and I remember acutely what it felt like to experience frighteningly similar emotions in my own life.  And I'm led to gratitude for all those times I was convinced that I was on the despair paved road to insanity.  I'm grateful for the sub-par poetry that gave vent to those toxic thoughts.  I'm grateful for every good and bad play I've been in that purged my soul of the over-supply of emotions.  I'm grateful for the ultimatums that got me off  my butt and showed me what I was made of.  I'm also very grateful that I'm not going through it now.  I'm grateful then for learning that sometimes my help is not helpful, so I can sit back and wait for a good time, or wait for someone to ask for my help. 

I'm grateful for the teachers that have made things hard for me and my son, because through the experience, I have learned so much about myself,  my boy and my daughter.  My son has become closer with his Grandfather.  I have truly realized how much my children need me. 

I could go on.  When it comes down to it, what I mean to say is that our joy is our responsibility.  And in fact, it is intended to be our first priority. 

So when I sat in my car tonight holding my husband's hand, when my daughter played with my hair as she fell to sleep, when I covered my son's face with kisses and listened to him speak with wonder about his coming little brother, I took a deep breath and let myself feel joy free of shame, fear or guilt.  Because that's truly what my Father hoped for when He made the earth for me, gave His Son for me and sent me here with agency. 

I'd better not let Him down.  And really, with a calling like "go have joy," why would I want to?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another blog about writing.......

So, I've been thinking a lot.  Fedaykin and my hunny have brought some things to my attention, particularly as relates to writing. 
Fedaykin noticed that when I discuss my writing, I get pretty - and simply - stupid.  All the truth and wisdom I seem to be armed with on other occasions and subjects totally falls apart like a bike without bolts.  He was basically laughing at me and my irrational fear-based arguments.
He even went so far as to kill one of my excuses with an early Christmas present:  A digital recorder. 

Then there is Muad'Dib who has made a few observations regarding my "poetry" and my brain blockage when it comes to long (novel length) fiction stories.  I have characters but can't seem to get them from point A to point B.  He thinks that I'm pretty good with short stories (note "The Mystery of the Missing Legos").  He also pointed out that I come alive when talking about non-fiction; such as putting life principles in a story-like context or sharing an experience for the purpose of illustrating a lesson/application of lesson. 

I also enjoy being a "ghost-writer," and an editor. 

So where does that put me?

Muad'Dib has suggested that I write a children's book about sharing, using true principles.  Or a "feel good" book illustrating true principles of self-interest as found in the gospel, and how to incorporate those things into our lives (rather than the alternative, which seems to be "Do service or God won't love you as much, and the Spirit will LEAVE you.  Especially on Sunday; which is only a day of rest if by 'rest' you mean doing as much for other people as you can regardless of yourself and/or what brings you peace.")

I guess that I am wondering - like my husband  on his blog - "Where do I go from here?"  The Lord has basically made a song out of the word "Write." And I hear it in my head any time I ask "What can I do" either to help myself emotionally, help my family financially, help others... the answer is always the same.  Yet it seems that the direction ends there.  So am I to conclude that I must do as Julia Cameron suggests and DO IT no matter my mood, without appraising the content - just hoping that something good falls out of me and lands on paper?

Or should I conclude that I have not yet found that venue that makes my brain whir like a fully functioning piece of machinery with full batteries and endless space to run? 
I am at a loss.  Sure I write the blog....and that is likely what makes Muad'Dib say "non-fiction."

I still get stuck on the thought, "What do I know well enough to write it?"  I know myself.....and that's about it.  I know what I've been through, how I've dealt with it, how that's been to my advantage or disadvantage.  I even know how to see something as though it were to my advantage, rather than the opposite.  Yet I don't know that my processes are of any worth to others. 

On the other hand, I get downright upset when I read other books and see that the authors can't write as well as I can.  I know: pride.  I know.  Yet when I read those kinds of books it makes me sick.  It's like a person who CAN play the organ, and play it well,  but chooses not to,  but then that person gets mad when the "amature" who does get up to play the organ, doesn't do it as well.  There's a word for that:  ridiculous.  Here's another: silly.  Bad-selfish. Stupid. 

And this is the rut I talk myself into whenever writing comes up.  No wonder Muad'Dib lets me alone and Fedaykin laughs like he's watching the newest Jacka** movie.  Because it's painfully, laughably stupid.  It's the chance to watch my brain malfunction, when so often it seems to be a fine specimen of working order.  Yikes. 

At least these conversations over the past few days have got me thinking of how to portray the true principles of sharing....and if I can get to work, perhaps I'll need an illustrator in a few weeks.  We'll see.  Any other ideas?  Anyone?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 Year in Status


This is a compilation of some of my Facebook Statuses over the year.  I had a hard time weedling it down, because it turns out:  I'm pretty dang funny.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stirred by a word

Fedaykin said my blog this year has been - in a word - pathetic.  Can't say I blame him for the brutally honest assessment.  I have looked over the year and wondered, "Where did it go?"  Events made up my year, more so than thoughts, definetely more so than strokes of inspiration or even creativity. 

My writing has ceased entirely.  I haven't written anything creative in...um...easily all year, perhaps longer.  I haven't missed it entirely, taken up as I have been with theatrical endeavor after theatrical endeavor.  Seven Brides, Drama Club, Sister's Wedding, Crucible, Pregnancy...Some of course being more theatrical than others. :) 

I don't even believe I've had a creative thought that didn't have to do with positioning baby furniture, building set, arranging flowers or communicating with an actor.  My kids have stopped asking me to tell them stories, because I've been so preoccupied, I've told them I can't think of any. 

Is this sad?  I don't know.  Who is missing it, honestly?  I've been VERY happy.  It's not until I read past journals or meanderings of thought and see that for years my soul has been tied up in the ambition of being a true writer that I wonder what I've neglected.  Maybe nothing.  To everything there is a season, yes?  I have seen it to be so; the Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills and all that.  

Anyone notice my tone?  It has nothing to do with the current topic, however.  We've been having difficulties with my son's school.  In fact, if my son's school had a face, I would punch it.  I have heard and seen things quite troubling and been told that it is the way it is, and that as long as test scores over all remain high, then my son must be in need of drugs to bring him up to everyone else's speed.  This is of course a very short telling of a very long and involved story.

I am surprised by my emotional reactions to this situation.  Lori described me as a Mama Bear on a Facebook quiz.  I did not agree with her choice in animal until two weeks ago.  I have done my utmost (and succeeded) in not letting the Mama Bear rampaging inside me to leak out into reality as I've attempted to manuver and handle this situation.  Instead I've been the one thing I never thought possible of myself: diplomatic.  And what have I learned?  Diplomacy sucks.  Yeah, you heard me.  Diplomacy might work if there was mutual respect between the parties.  But these teachers do NOT have respect for me, nor do they respect the option that my son might be individual. 

And all the while, they tell me their opinions of him and I see myself in their descriptions.  I point it out and they look at me as though they were wondering how to get me on drugs, too. 

I was the girl in fourth grade who, when berated by the teacher for not doing my classwork, would instead fill in the blanks thus:  "If I were in charge I would: fire all the teachers in the world, especially you, you stupid dummy." Liam doesn't do that - he has a much stronger moral compass and isn't confrontational with authority.  But he will ignore them if he wants to.  As I grew up, I did the same things.  I would open up Jurrassic Park rather than listen to my PreAlgebra teacher.  I would write stories for hours on end rather than listen to the ramblings of my Biology teacher.  Did I get the best grades?  No.  Did I even get grades that reflected my intelligence?  Not even close...I bet my past teachers were just DYING for the chance to NAME my malady and drug me into submission. I guess that because that is what these teachers are looking for now. 

I've illustrated some teachers/teaching situations that I ignored.  Let me for a moment say a word for those who inspired me:  Mrs. Georgis - 1st grade introduced me to theater and told me to use my special talents and abilities to my advantage.  Mrs. Bonini told me I should write, because I had a great mind.  Mrs. Harrison gave me books and let me immerse myself in them, guessing that I would learn more by doing that, than by doing what everyone else in class was.  Mrs. Chady who challenged me to think bigger and more, to harness my confrontational demeanor into useful debates or to protect others.  Mrs. Jensen who brought Shakespeare to my awareness, and found that I had a talent with it.  Mrs. DeHart who taught despite my refusal to think within her box, and would take the time to prove her theories.  She made literature come alive.  Mrs. Miya who made history relevant. 

Come to think of it, all the teachers who worked for me were literature and writing centered.  I don't remember a single science or math teacher that clicked with my brain until college.  Oh, and they allowed me to ask questions without being put out.

I learned with pictures and concepts.  Memorization of facts has only been my strong suit when it comes to movies or theater or books.  What is the pythagorean theorum?  I don't know.  Who starred in the 1954 version of Jane Eyre?  That I know.  I could even tell you the famous siblings of the stars and quote a few lines and explain why the film noir version did good and bad for the storytelling. 

My son is like that.  What I can't figure out is why the hell teachers think there's something WRONG with it.  He remembers science and concept math like I remember the names and associations of performers. 

Basically I'm just frustrated. In the meantime I will do what I can to teach him, since his teachers are unwilling to take the time to do so themselves.  When I asked for their curriculum so I could teach him before he comes to school, they were thrilled that I would be taking over.  So I guess that's what I can do, since I'm not allowed to move him to another school or even to another class. 

I will teach my son, because no one else will.  I guess then it's a good thing he's got me.  Just as much as it's a good thing I get him.  I love him more than I can say, and in a way I am grateful for this horrible situation which has thrown my love and devotion to him into great relief.  I see my love now.  And my son will get that chance, too; and very soon. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Now that it is over...

*Great sigh of relief*

It is time to be Sayyadina again.  TheaterGeek struggled the last two weeks, seeing as Sayyadina was crowding TheaterGeek, itching to get back into action.  My house has been a mess since the return from our vacation (which I still need to blog, I know).  I have looked over the comparative squalor that I have been forcing my family to live in the past four weeks and felt less than great about it.

And then there was the play.  Most of you got to see it.  It was very good.  And it was not without it's negatives.  I felt friction on my soul the last two weeks especially.  I hope I learned things...

As I have said, I felt that the play was important: Grand Scheme of Things Important, as a matter of fact.  And there was a major part that felt it was not necessarily important for me, but for others.

Once again, I felt a brief hint of living the Law of Consecration.  I had talents and understanding, my husband had the patience and passion, my mother had the connections and the space, and our actors had the time and the talent.  We gave, and we took and we made something other people were willing to trade dollars for.  That's pretty cool.  Although, I did not take any of those dollars home for myself.  No one will.

So what did I earn in exchange for my time and talents?  I have satisfaction that I did something pretty good.  I learned what it feels like to be completely disrespected by an actor for reasons I can't fathom.  I saw a few people stretch their own abilities past what they originally believed they were capable.

And yet, I feel that the exchange was empty.  Then I get the feeling that I have not been "paid" yet.   I have not yet seen or received what it was originally intended that I see or receive.  That's fine.  I can be patient.  I'm really much more excited about the upcoming child, anyway.  And about going back to my home routine.  I truly love taking care of my children, cooking for and caring for my husband, and going to bed on time.  I love to make our home a welcome place for all.  I have missed it.  I knew that on the 30th of October, everything would go back to "normal."  I have prepared for it.  And in many ways, I folded space to get here sooner.

I'm sort of saying to myself - and to my Father - "Okay, I did it.  So what was that all for?"  I am just a little curious as to what the long term, Grand Scheme of Things payoff will end up being.  Because I am sure I have not seen the sun go down on what this show was intended to do.

But I am ever so sleepy.  And there is Trick or Treating tonight.  So perhaps I should pull myself together, and draw myself up to be a mother, as I am bound by heaven to be.  And my daughter needs a hug.  Off I go to be Sayyadina again!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our current endeavor


Athur Miller's
THE CRUCIBLE

A few months ago I was in my mother's office and we were talking about what was next for Lights Up!, her theater troupe.  We threw out ideas like "Little Women" around Christmas-time, a big musical like Suessical for the spring, or - hey! - wouldn't it be cool to do "The Crucible" around Halloween?! 
Ya know, a play about witches and witch trials the week before we all go Happy Haunting?!  That would be awesome!  And ya know what else?  Muad'Dib knows a lot about it.  He did a scene from it in High School (or something) and it's, like, one of his favorite plays! 
We're just riffing, right?

Two weeks later, Mom asks if I'm really going to do it.  I have this feeling...so I say, "I'll run it past the husband and see what he says."
So then in the car I turn to my hunny and say, "Yeah, and Mom and I were talking and we mentioned how cool it would be to do The Crucible around Halloween."
His response was foresee-able: "We're going on vacation three weeks before Halloween; and we did say that we were going to take a theater break.  I don't think we should do it."
"Okay.  I see that. I'll tell Mom."
But then...a few minutes later..."But if we DID do it, we'd do it like this - "
Before I really grasped what was happening, Muad'Dib was all fired up and on board. 
Well, then I thought, "There's no way we'll get the theater for those dates... lets just go talk to the Station."
I was right, there was no time available for us in the theater.  It seemed like Crucible was dead.
Then the lady in charged asked us what the play was about.
I explained that it was a play set in 1692, following the Salem witch trails, with themes on morality, fear, infidelity, hysteria and goodness.

She got SO excited and basically said, "We have to find a place to put this on!" 
All said and done, we decided on Gallery 51.  To me, it looked small.  To my mom and the lady, it seemed perfect.  An intimate setting for an intense play.
Well, then it seemed unlikely that we could get a talented, age appropriate cast to show up for auditions.
Still, we set up auditions and held them.
Nine people came.  Nine, for a cast that required at least 18 people.

We told those who did come that we didn't have enough.  If they had any friends interested, we'd hold another set of audition/callbacks two days later.  If we didn't have a cast by then, we'd call it off.

When Muad'Dib asked me if it was going to happen...I had a feeling.  Yes, it was going to happen.

The next audition rolled around.  Not only did we get enough people, we got enough TALENTED, AGE APPROPRIATE people to fill the cast - including Shematite and Mayflower.

We have blocked the play in about three weeks.  We will go on a vacation for two, then come back and rehearse three weeks.  Then we will open. 

This is the story.  All of these seemingly impossible things have come together to form what is already an impressive endeavor.  I hope you'll all plan to come see it.

We will open with a noon matinee on October 23, and then have further performances at 7:30pm October 25 - 29. 
Tickets are $10.00 general admission
$7.00 students and seniors
$5.00 for students accompanied  by a paying adult.




More to the summer

As it turns out, there is more to the "this is an incredible summer" than I originally thought.  Okay: basic run down of the summer:

Drama Club - a variety show in the spirit of Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland but written by my brother and performed for Lights Up! when The Wizard of Oz fell through - spectacularly fell through, btw.  It was great fun, but seemed to really change the game for Lights Up!, the theater troupe founded and run by my mother.

Brainstorm - while discussing the possibilities after the Drama Club, the name of a particular classic play came up. 

Wedding: AJ got married.  To see more, read down a few blogs.

Showtime - Jeff got a break.  To see more, read a blog down.

The Crucible - the play we tossed out while brainstorming.  I then tossed it out to Muad'Dib...before I knew it, we had decided to accept a directing gig for Lights Up!.  We held auditions the Monday after my sister got married.  We had 9 people audition.  But I had a feeling that it was going to happen.  And that it was going to be good.  So we had callbacks.  We had 13 people at callbacks.  I told those present that we didn't have enough people and that if they were serious, they would spread the word.  Little less than a week later, we had a full and talented cast for The Crucible.  We began rehearsal.

Now, the next thing...we didn't find out until the fall...but seeing as I'm ten weeks on, it's safe to say that it happened this summer. 

I am pregnant. 

The big thing I kept saying about this summer - all the way back in April I was saying this - was that this summer was going to be a game changer.  For every member of my family, the game has changed; and the catylist was something that happened late spring or during the summer. 

Now, on the subject of pregnancy:  WOO HOO!!!!!  

Well...there are my disjointed thoughts on this summer.  The ripples of it are still traveling to the shore, and have not yet reached their full wave magnitude.  I'm just riding it out. 

However, I should say that I'm a little ski-wompus.  You know, reactionary in unconventional and unpredictable ways.  Such as when I was in RS today and quite basically started...for lack of a better word - fighting with a friend and fellow Sister in the gospel.  Yeah, I did.  So: I quickly see the error of my reactions, and still - if we interact, please cut me some slack.  Grumpy.  Grumpy is a good word to describe it.  Not sad, not angry...just grumpy.  Happy!  but also grumpy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Starring my Brother . . .


Why is there a picture of Monty Python's SPAMALOT on my blog, you ask?  Because if you look ever so closely at the grail, just to the right of King Arthur, you will see MY BROTHER, who will be playing Patsy in this production in Ogunquit, Maine. 
You may also recognize Charles Shaunessy as the father from the series "The Nanny."  He is a well known Broadway performer, as is Rachel York, who I know as Margurite from The Scarlet Pimpernel. 
This is a big deal for my wonderful brother, who has been auditioning in New York for over 8 months straight, without a single sign of hope.
Then all at once, he was given a job in My Fair Lady at a regional theater.  He was asked to come back to Jackson to perform as Buffalo Bill in Annie Get Your Gun; he was asked to audition for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in New York.  He got an agent (which is much more about the agent picking you than you picking the agent.)  And then, he was called - virtually out of the blue - to play the role of
Patsy in SPAMALOT.
Oh, and did I mention that he was also asked to Franki Camp?  It's a five day long "audition" where he learns the music and mannerisms of Franki Vallie (you know, "Walk Like a Man?")  This is awesome because Franki is the LEAD character in the Broadway production Jersey Boys, and my talented little brother is considered for such a role.  It's due in large part to his VERY impressive vocal range. 
I'm just so happy for him. 
He has worked very hard at a very hard business.  And after years of trying, learning, taking classes, getting to know people and proving to those people that he's in it for the long haul, he is getting his first big chance. 
I will keep you posted with any further pictures or clips I can find online. 

As I have said, this has been an INCREDIBLE summer for the Stevens Family. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Sister's Wedding Day

Yesterday Auntie became Mrs. Bredthaur.  Or, as her previous students said it, "Mrs. Scottie Hottie."

Here are some pictures Muad'Dib was able to take of the day's events:


Rivulet's hair in the morning.
Lemur at the Temple.  Please note the missing front tooth.  It fell out as he slept the night before ! :)
My Little Cinderella . . .

The kids giving Muad'Dib a "real smile."
Cousins and family galore!  Even Little Brother was able to come in from Maine! Can you find his laughing, smiling face?

Here Lemur shows us his future "Calvin Klein" modeling capabilities.

I was SO glad to see my Grandma!  It was a surprise to us all that she made it there!

The Temple


The kids had their meltdown earlier in the day. In fact, what you see of Lemur below was just the beginning. He didn't smile for ANY of the wedding pictures until I was able to take him aside and explain to him that he wasn't a player in this production. He was a prop. He was like the stick I used as the Witch. All he needed to do was be where we told him to be and smile like he meant it.

Somehow, that's what got through to him.  Everything was fine after that.

SISTER!!

Then at the reception, Muad'Dib did a photo shoot with my older brother and his darling wife.

And here are some of the Bridal Pictures I took of AJ up in Afton, Wyoming.
Most of these were displayed on the tables at the reception.  But a few had a more special setting.
Wildman (my brother-in-law) made some beautiful frames which housed these pictures.

What made the frames super awesome was that they were made of wood that was once used as the roof of the barn on the Michaelson Family Homestead, a barn that was built by our Great-grandfather. 


AJ had always wanted her Bridals taken on the Ranch.  We both have always felt very strongly about Afton; a deep sense of home, of past connected with present and blooming with future.

This is AJ's favorite picture.  "The One" as we call it.  This picture will hang in her new home, forever encased in the beautiful heirloom barn-wood frame. 

My sister is MARRIED! 
It was SUCH an incredible day.  This has been such an incredible YEAR!!!
Not only did she finish school, get her Masters Degree, and go to China, she also fell in love, had someone love her - become devoted to her! -, she got engaged to this wonderful man, and yesterday she married him.  And all on the same day, she became Lucy's 'Nother Mother.   I don't like saying she's the "New mother."  Lucy's mother is never far.  AJ is not replacing.  She is adding to.  And I stand in awe of her ability to be a good mother.  I mean, right off the bat: jumping in on motherhood without the incubation period, without the cuddly infant years, just right in there at the Terrible Two's and into Three-hood.  If anyone doesn't know the full story, I may have to share it. 

For the time being, though, I'm just filled with so much love!  I sobbed in the temple.  I sobbed at the luncheon and I ran myself ragged during the reception to avoid sobbing.  Then I watched my sister walk to her car, hand in hand with her husband and I could not keep tears of joy at bay. 

Scott is wonderful!  Lucy is wonderful!  The day was bright and glorious and filled with all good things.  I am just ever so happy for my beloved sister.  I am sobbing again.  How wonderful!

Friday, August 6, 2010

And what would be lost?

The late summer storm clouds are about to obscure my view of brightest star in the western sky.  They have been moving in this direction for some time now, but I hoped they would spare the star.  I take comfort in knowing that when the clouds pass, the star will be there.  Yes, the star is above the clouds.  It is above the rain and even above the sun.  It has been a great marvel to look out over the valley and see lightning, clouds so dark they hide the eastern mountains in their plaque, and still to the east a sunset to take my breath away. 

Thunder rolls to my left as pink ripens to deep purplish-orange on my right. I hear children gasp in wonder at the sight of a particularly impressive slash of lightning. Rain teases softly on my rooftop, plucking at leaves until it seems the trees themselves shudder with giddy anticipation.  Too long they have roasted in the sun, too long relied on our piped water to sustain them, when all they truly desire is a good, hard rain.

My husband laughs in the living room, and a breeze stirs the aspen across the street.  The storm draws closer.  More lightning rips the sky, and I wonder at the dancing silhouettes before me.  Sometimes I wonder if I am the light or the thing that blocks it. 

I hear a single cricket; quite the change from the usual chorus that sings us to sleep most nights.  And now even he, my solitary serenader, has fallen silent.  As I write, things change.  Time moves on.  Clouds roil and churn overhead with a calm that belies their inner machinations. 

How is it that I may see God's hand where ever I look?  Not long ago I mentioned to my sister that sometimes it was hard for me to pray before bed because I felt that I had prayed so often all day that I could not imagine God wanted to hear from me more.  Her answer was very much like her.  She said, "It seems to me that if you see God everywhere, and thank him all day for each blessing you recognize: that is the definition of "the pure in heart.'" 

I shy away from that definition, for obvious reasons.  Perhaps they are only obvious to me:  I dare not agree outright, because I fear the term "pure," let alone the idea of asserting that I am "pure in heart."  I have worked a good deal over the past year to be actively grateful for all I see, hear, feel, learn and experience.  I try, and sometimes I fail, though my failures are not stacking up too high these days, in this area. 

The sunlight is nearly spent entirely.  Now the lightning is even more impressive as it tears asunder the darkness that stretches over the valley.  The thunder more ominous because it comes from an unseen place, echoing back and forth between the mountains. 

I saw a neighbor girl outside today.  She saw the rain and came out in it, just as I had.  I have often joked that when the sun is out, my children are in.  And when the rain comes to play, so do my children.  It is true of myself.  That is likely where they get the notion. 

Late summer rains are some of my favorites.  I remember nine summers ago now when in rehearsal for West Side Story, that it poured rain near the end of the night.  I and my three best friends of the time ran into the shower headlong and danced in it.  No stitch of clothing was spared.  We were drenched.  The rain smelled of salt and dirt.  Our laughter rivaled the thunder for boisterousness.  Whenever it rains in the summer, this is the memory that comes to me.

One year ago tonight, I opened as the Witch in "Into the Woods". How long ago that seems! How quickly this year has passed.  Four years ago, I brought home my second child.  In the rain.  I remember it raining the second day Rivulet was in this world.  It rained so hard that the power went out and she and I slept together in my hospital bed, as there was no nurse to retrieve her.  The sound of her breathing still sooths me to sleep, as does the sound of the rain.

I am so grateful, for ever so many things.  Most importantly tonight I am grateful for the advice and the permission I was given a few days ago, all of it wrapped up in one word:  "Live."  Not to imply that I would die...but I was in the process of putting myself and other things "on hold."  Living means to be actively engaged.  To enjoy, to be grateful, to experience without regret the exspendature of time.  Two good men have advised me thus, and I feel it my soul that I must obey.  And in the words of my favorite God Emperor, "Is not your obedience instructive?"

It is dark now, from the west to the east, the north to the south.  The lightning has not subsided - nor has my desire to write - but I have perhaps run out of things to say for the time being.  At least in this vein.  I cannot say exactly why this has become my way: writing and expressing where once the purpose of the blog was to document and update daily happenings.  Sometimes I wish it were the latter instead of the former.  But then I remember that what is is, and I have a truer desire to share my thoughts and feelings than to recount the actions of my days.  My actions speak of themselves, and say something different to everyone.  I am the only one who can say and write MY words.  If I don't, no one will.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Namesake similarities...

Firefly's River...

Our River.

I came in from getting the mail, after a day of swimming with the kids to find THIS on the LoveSac.  I suppose I can't argue with her logic:  naked IS the best way to nap in the summer.

Quite the resemblence, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'd like you to meet a less encumbered me.


I happened upon an old friend yesterday, and while driving away from them I pondered how much I had changed.


Muad'Dib and I have a humorous habit of yelling out "Who ARE you?!" whenever one or the other of us does/says something surprising. Just this afternoon, I stuffed my face with a monstrous salad, using only a tablespoon of dressing to enhance the lettuce. And I loved every last bite.


This is only shocking for people like Muad'Dib who have known that I was no friend to salad (except the pasta variety) since my birth. And now, I love it. This is a very small and trite example of my change.


I look over my life and see basic SELF that might shift or bend and twist, though it is this SELF that basically remains the same. It is SELF. Then there are bits, pieces and habits that change drastically and totally.


What causes these changes? "Need for survival," comes the intuitive answer. Nearly all of my lasting changes were wrought from the emotional need to adapt or perish (figuratively or literally). I use the caveat "nearly" because though I cannot call to mind a single instance when this was not true, I cannot shut out the possibility that one change sometime was different. Other changes were fueled by desire alone, and I can't think of a single on of those that was permanent.


I'm trying to figure myself out. It's what I do. It's what has become the purpose of this blog. I am searching for the SELF in Sayyadina. Most of you were aware of my burst of knowledge when I figured out that my SELF existed before theater, and therefore could exist fully even in the absence of theater.


Now I desire to learn what causes my SELF to change.
Last year I went through a MAJOR down turn in the cycle my SELF follows naturally. It was during that time that "This too shall pass" was clearly illustrated. I shed some defensive armor. I was able to frame hope into a workable idea for my depression-able mind. So in that way: yay for last year.

I'm now wondering - after seeing this old friend - if even while gaining some knowledge and application, I also lost. I am a little more judgemental of certain behaviors. Little. Who are we kidding. A LOT more judgemental of certain behaviors. Which is ridiculous considering my penchant for hypocrisy. I love people through those behaviors, but I judge them first.


So, as I continue on my journey toward what I hope is perfection, I'm concerned that even if I'm getting smarter, I might becoming more stupid.


And if anyone says "Well, opposition in all things," I will scream.


This is a possibility for a tangent. I will control myself.


The purpose of this blog entry was to say - again - for those who haven't seemed to hear me: I have changed. If that change hurt someone else, I am sorry for the pain my change caused. I'm not sorry I changed, because I pretty well like who I am now. I did not set out to change, to abandon, to disappear, to become disinterested, or to give up. I set out to do one thing that had nothing to do with anyone else except me. I didn't even accomplish the one thing. So stop looking for that person you knew last year. She's not here anymore. If you want to be friends with this Sayyadina, be my guest, but don't go looking for the old one somewhere behind my eyes. She is gone. Because although I did not accomplish the one thing, I accomplished some other things instead:


I let Anger (for anger's sake) go. I discovered within myself the difference between "sensation" and "emotion." I learned that I have an "off-button" for use in emotional situations. I have grasped the possibility that my help may not always be helpful and it's okay to let other people do for themselves. Most importantly: I have greater patience with my children and I see my husband's love everywhere I look instead of just where I look for it.


I don't know how I existed before; caught in the rampaging anger, impatience and victimization that I used to be: but thankfully, that is gone now.


I cannot be - nor do I want to be - that woman ever again. I am happier this way. And as far as I can tell, so is Muad'Dib.


So while I enjoy foods I used to hate: tomatoes, green peppers, rice, and salad; enjoy past-times I used to loathe: gardening, being alone, cleaning, and mowing the lawn; and while I see love everywhere when I used to ignore it in all it's forms: I will laugh and sigh as those who care to become reacquainted with my SELF, absent of those bits of useless armor which I shed as I grew.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"The Art of Journaling" as learned from Nephi

I haven't written in a while. Not a long while, granted, yet I have felt the separation from myself and the written word quite keenly. A plane seems to be flying low over Antelope Island. I can see it because I have the great pleasure of sitting on my deck, which although technically is in the backyard has a fantastic view over all of North Ogden, clear down to the Island. A few cars may drive by in the course of my morning, but all in all it is just me the birds and the breeze.

We have four lilac bushes now. Our garden has begun growing. Soon we will have a harvest of radishes, corn, salad greens, peas and green peppers as well as other veggies. We have spearmint growing the shadow of the main house and hornets trying to build a home in the eave of the playhouse. What a wonderful life!

The children have been sick. Rivulet has been sick for nearly two weeks, Lemur caught his just in time to miss the last three - and most fun - days of school. Summer is approaching, as is evidenced by being able to take Rivulet outside in the rain around midnight last night. It was not too cold, and just wet enough to wake her out of her bad dream stupor.

I have pictures that document all the things and events that have happened over the past few weeks, but I have few words. Perhaps it is the opinion of some that I have a good deal too many words. I noted something in my journal the other night, "I wish I wasn't so tired; so I could record some thoughts and not just events." I felt - and still do - that I and my children might be missing something having a record of events only.

In reading Nephi over the past few weeks, I have had my mind opened up in refreshing ways. I have taken for granted that I know the stories backwards and forwards and in fact have taught the stories, sometimes to my teachers. How glorious the chance to learn that there is more to learn!

Such as the event of Nephi coming to retrieve the plates from Laban. The final time, when Laban was passed out from drinking and lying alone, unconscious in the street and Nephi just happened upon him - something else took place. Nephi was instructed to do something that went against his then-current understanding. Did he do it? Not at first. He - in effect - spoke to the Spirit, and the Spirit spoke back. He "shrank away" from the deed. The Spirit offered more information, knowing that the law forbade the action he was now prompted to take. And then! Nephi, constrained by the Holy Spirit, employed reason. He opened his mind and the Spirit guided his thoughts that Nephi and the Spirit could be on the same page.

And how is that applicable to us?

Reading further, I get to the part where Lehi is murmuring in the wilderness and Nephi - after Nephi's bow had broken. LEHI was murmuring. The prophet!! And it was his child that called him - by action and word - to humility where he regained his footing as the patriarch of the family. I don't ever remember knowing that Lehi had murmurings. It spoke to me of difficulties ANY parent may have in their lives, and how we as their children can be comfort to them by living the truth at all times. Being a witness of God, showing our own faith can help even the people who taught us in the first place. Of course, here I was thinking of my Mom. A perfect example is the experience we had last summer changing the Shakespeare. There came a time - which I recorded in great detail - that Mom went kaput. I stepped in, and then stepped back out when she - for lack of a better term - came to her senses. Doesn't it make Nephi and Lehi more real to know they experienced this dynamic as well? It does to me.

Last week in RS, we were discussing how we could maintain our spirituality as we "grew up." It is no easy thing, quite honestly. Once we hit a high, we rest on it assuming the high is solid. I'm pretty sure it's more of an eternal escalator than a mountain. Once we reach the top of a mountain - you're there. But an escalator that is always going down, while we are striving to climb up; that seems to fit better. The world being the escalator, and each of our steps being the desire and action to rise above. Holding still will actually bring us down.

Now, for most of us, we have a solid foundation - a place we may never pass below. The problem is, I have met so many who believe either that a solid foundation is all you need or that there is actually a place you reach where you can never ascend above! That is not what the scriptures have taught us, so why do we embrace it?

To shake things up, I set aside my old scriptures: the Book of Mormon I had received at my baptism at the age of 8, the BOM I had used all through seminary and Institute and marked with all manner of pencils, markers, pens and personal notations. I set that aside an opened a new copy of the BoM, one I had bought when Muad'Dib and I were first married, and began to read the BoM as if for the first time.

And that's exactly what it feels like. Other bits of knowledge and learning that I have acquired over the past ten years are like a different lens to read the words through. I read the account of the Tree of Life much differently than before. I hear the voice of Nephi in my head with age appropriate timbre so clear it is disconcerting. I see similarities not only in spiritual understanding but in social settings.

And through it all runs a testimony of journal keeping. From Nephi to Moroni and Mormon, I am led to realize that their advice their words, were truly meant for our time. They knew it when they were writing it. And it was when reading Chapter 6 that I wondered whether what I was writing about was of worth: "Wherefore, I give a commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men."

Writing the Book of Sayyadina began with my first journal at the age of 10. I have since filled over ten journals and countless other computer documents, random notebooks and scraps of paper tossed into a folder. No doubt, my words need an editor just as badly as those prophets of old; particularly because not all that I have written was intelligent by any strain of the imagination.

But I will say that throughout my journaling, I have taken opportunity to write guidences of the Spirit, and testimonies of the Gospel. Such things were the basic principals that occupied the entries of King Benjamin, Nephi, Jacob, Enos and others. I have the advantage of only needing to make a record of myself and an accounting of my actions in my day. Well, and perhaps a record of my children until they can themselves take up the pen. I hope that my testimonies may someday be of worth to someone. I know, on occasion, they have at least been of worth to me. And maybe that is all that matters.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I found the square hole.

Remember about a week ago when I was riffing on a compost metaphor? It wasn't right, but it felt true . . . and now I know why.

It was incomplete and was basically being a square peg in a round hole. I just had to find the right home for it. Talking to my sister the other day, we discussed Depression. I can easily list more than five people in my family alone that suffer with this dis-ease. I am one of them.

I have been told and understand that Clinical Depression is chemical. I, myself, have gone the route of pills and medicine. In my experience (which does not negate the experience of another person) these things were much like muffling a gun-shot or wearing noise-canceling headphones: the gun and the noise is still there, you are just a little separated from it. Unless of course you had the misfortune to miss a pill, in which case the feelings overcame you in a mindless rush. For many, medication is the solution to their problem.

For me, it was not. Or rather, it was a short term band-aid on a wound that would not heal.

For me, and for many who I speak with, Depression and Anxiety go hand in hand. Depression is more of a "What's the point?" approach to life experiences. This leads us to find no joy in activities, in people or in the day to day events that spice the human life. Is is a give up attitude.

Anxiety compliments the big D, but is different because the Anxiety-ridden mind is ravaged by thought: ALL THE TIME. "What if this" and "What if that" and other misuses of imagination keep the afflicted persons from seeing and handling joy because they expect an awful, startling"BOO!" around every corner. They expect things to go wrong, likely because they have had that experience more often than not in their lives. The one condition could be illustrated by a tiger kept indoors, de-clawed and virtually toothless: laying there waiting to be acted upon, knowing he has no power to alter his life. The other condition could be characterized by just about any animal in a cage that once knew how it felt to roam free: pacing, fearing capture, fearing the unknown.

Simply said: Depression is fear coupled with despair. Anxiety is fear coupled with panic.

And both stem from fear.

A few years ago I was taught that the foods I eat contribute to my "chemical imbalance." To answer that, I changed my diet and periodically shake things up in regard to my vitamins and minerals. By doing so, I can today mentally cancel out what I perceive to be an emotion by going over what I have eaten that day. So: progress. I learned to understand the difference between "emotion" and "sensation." Sensations I can release, knowing they require little more than the passage of time to re-balance.

Around the same time, I began uncovering and examining my fears. Then I took steps to de-fang my fears. Frank Hurbert said it best in Dune: "Fear is the mind killer." I arm myself with the question posed by Wildman: "What's the worst that could happen?" And, so armed, I face the fear mentally and dance around it, negating the primal response of panic.

I have learned through much introspection which of my past experiences formed the reaction of Depression, and which formed the reaction of Anxiety. From that lesson, I can predict which experiences in future may trigger D&A reactions. Marry that information with what I know about me and food, I can either sidestep the situation altogether or handle it with grace as it happens.

Okay: So what does this have to do with Composting?

Life experiences pile up on our souls whether or not we want them to. They do. They pile up in our memories, the emotions pile up in our subconscious and become a heap of life weighing down our souls. Right? Or:

Could we compost?

If we imagine that each experience is tossed onto the pile of our past experiences, we have the choice to let them rot or to turn them over - mull them over - with the future in mind, with use, with learning in mind. Then we can take the experiences and spread that learning, that nutrient rich mass of knowledge around our current choices and be wise. In that way, our past nourishes our present and grows a healthy future!

As Moneo observed of Leto "I fear the unknown . . . You see everything that we know: the unknown . . . must be something new for you to know."

And it is!

The Depressed, the Anxiety-ridden: we are set apart by our seeming inability to change our lives, change our feelings or control the way we think. We cavort about as victims of our past actions, even our past in-actions haunt us in a most crippling way. We become hobbled versions of our true selves.

Now I say to you with what power I posses: It does not HAVE to be so! The idea that we are unable victims is false. We are able! We are accountable! We are powerful! We have the ability to take our past and choose to make it rot or compost, poison or antidote, fear or hope.

Is it easy? At first, no. Does it take work and focus and time? The answer to that is always yes. There are those who may read this post and decide within themselves that medication is right for them. Great. I'm not downplaying the good that drugs do for some. They gave me a much needed break. Choices are awesome and I am all for them.

This post is for me. It is to better understand where I have been and what I have learned from it. This post is so that I may remember this lesson when I feel over-run with emotion again: because it is inevitable in my nature. But this knowledge can keep me from hitting that bottom rock named "despair."

And hey, if someone out there learns something or thinks to themselves, "I'm as cool as Sayyadina; I bet I could use my powers of sensitivity for good instead of evil." (good being progression and learning while evil is cyclical self-loathing and self-damnation) Well, then I say: "You're right. I have the names and numbers of a few fantastic Life Coaches, should you require assistance." Because although I may be cool and I may be smart, beautiful and funny, I was not always so: (Okay, I was always beautiful.) I learned these truths from and with those who were kind and patient enough to guide me through the tangle that was my Self.

Now I function 97% of the time, not as a tangled mass of emotion and unconnected thought, but as a well strung Cello. And that other 3%? I work to keep it in perspective and don't give it any room to take root. Or leave rot.

I choose to compost. How about you?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cramped week, open spaces.

Has it really been six days since my last post? We've had a busy week.

My Uncle had blood clots and was flown from Wyoming to McKay-Dee where he was treated for a week, and we visited him nearly every day.

I attended a NAIFA conference for two days aided by DreamPacker and my mom as babysitters. I heard many kind and true things said about my father and learned ever more about the importance of insurances of many sorts. Not convinced there are any? Come talk to me or my dad (or my brother in law, for that matter) and we will teach you what we know.

I accompanied Lemur on his field trip to the Ogden Nature Center (Rivulet in tow) and learned about Pond Ecology. Directly from there, we drove to SLC and arrived at Kingsbury Hall via shuttle bus just in time to tape my sister receiving her Masters in Instrumental Conducting. Then we got on the wrong shuttle bus, getting us lost in UofU traffic for over 45 minutes before finally making it back to the car and down to Chili's for lunch with the fam.

My sister and I drove further into SLC to visit my Grandma for Mothers Day.

We then went to IKEA so Lemur and Rivulet could play in SmallLand for an hour. Why? Because last Friday, Rivulet decided to potty train herself. She had been potty trained for a whole week, and her reward was a trip to SmallLand, where only potty trained children are allowed to venture. She loved her reward! And I loved the chance to visit with my sister over a soda in the cafe.

Rivuleta potty trained herself! She has only had two accidents, one at DreamPacker's house just as the horses were led to the gate, ran and won/lost the Kentucky Derby. And the other was basically my fault. STILL! I was so worried she was behind others her age. Turns out, it's a lot less problematic if I just let her decide when she wanted to. YAY!

What else . . . Went to Mountain Road Ranch to watch the Kentucky Derby. Congrats to Super Saver, though I missed the win cleaning up the aforementioned "accident." I saw it on the replay, though. :)

I tore out grass in places it didn't belong and in it's place planted Irish Moss, Creeping Thyme and multicolored petunias. Also, we filled and planted our Square Foot Garden with everything from radishes to corn to tomatoes and onions. I'm excited to see what happens next.

I tore out the thicket behind the house and found (amoung other nameless shrubbery) a Viburnum Bush. YAY! They are so fragrant and beautiful. It hasn't blossomed yet, but is definitely on it's way. The lilacs are blooming too. I love our new house!

I drove to and from The Ranch this morning (6 hours in the car total) to return my Uncle to his home, and helped clean up a bit.

I'm sure there's more that I'm missing. I know I have pictures and videos galore to document it all . . . and hopefully I will post them sometime in the near future.

In the meantime, I'm alive. SUPER alive. I'm sitting on my back porch listening to the many birds that tweet and twitter (as nature intended) as the sun begins its descent behind the western mountains. Rivulet is seated next to me, dipping her finger into her peanut butter sandwich, and licking off the peanut butter - leaving the bread whole but empty.

I think everyone should have the chance to sit on my porch as I do now. Happy and tired and happy.

It's an odd reversal in my soul to be excited for all that is to come, not even knowing what it is. I'm excited for the roses to bloom. I'm excited for the geraniums to creep. I'm excited to smell the viburnum, to sit lazily on my porch for many an evening come June and all summer eve's. I'm excited that I am finally reading again! I'm excited to see what will occupy my summer, seeing as it feels wrong to plan anything. So that must mean something is coming. I hope it's what I think it is. And I'm okay if it's something else.

I remember realizing that depression was living one's life afraid of the future: living one's life backwards. Realizing that doing so was against nature, and that was hy it felt so terrible. It amazes me to find that gardening is one of the things that turned my brain forward.

A Bit of Earth, indeed.

Contributing is my role to help my children understand their feelings. We are finally at the stage when Rivulet is feeling so much and doesn't have words to identify or describe what she is feeling. So she often says, "No," "Nothing," "Never mind," or "I don't know." Having learned how important validation is - and seeing how much it has helped Lemur to be able to give name to his many feelings - I have had the great opportunity to focus on Rivulet and help her figure out what is up with her.

It amazes me that words have connotations before they have denotations. Rivulet can intuitivly know "angry" isn't the right word for her emotion, but "upset" or "frustrated" or "scared" is. And it is up to me to help her cultivate that sensitivity and clarity.

In this vein, Lemur's teacher said something to me the other day: "You told me Lemur has a temper. But I've never seen it. He always communicates very clearly with the other children, and with me." I don't remember telling her he had a temper. I remember saying he was emotional. Anyway: At the beginning of the year, I had "warned" her of Lemur's tendancies toward emotion, and advised her that he would calm right down if she asked him to take a deep breath. And as it turns out, he hasn't had a single problem at school. Then she expressed a bit of sadness that Lemur would be transferring schools for next year. We discussed that the second grade rooms had no windows. I told her that although Lemur was distressed about that at first, I told him that it was like a super-hero's hidaway lair. She smiled and said, "Ah, so that's where he gets it. From YOU!"

As it turns out, my kids get alot from me. When I was angry, they got anger. When I yelled all the time, they did too. When I found my balance and my center, they were able to stop protecting themselves from my volcanic emotions enough to flourish.

Again I am grateful to my Life Coaches and my Tuning Fork for teaching me so much so that I may now be a better mom and guide for my babies, who are swiftly turning into children.

Well, now it's cold. The birds don't seem to mind. But my fingers do. Rivulet has abandoned me for the warmth of the house and the hope of hot chocolate. Yet I cling to the moment just a little longer. Looking over the yard, slurping up every last view of this day until I am as full as I can be.

How wonderful to discover that I always have more space in my soul for beauty and love!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Composting?

The practice of taking raw ,cast-off and mulched organic material, putting it in a shady spot and letting micro-organisms break it down into one great big pile of useful stuff where only garbage existed before. I've read that you must mulch, moisten and move. Cut up the garbage into "digestable" pieces. Not a whole branch, but chopped up bits of branch, for example.
There is supposed to be browns (wood, branches, twigs) and greens (grass, veggie leftovers, leaves) and water.
The water helps with digestion. And then there is the moving. Taking what is on the outside, scooping it up and adding it to the center, letting the center fall to the outskirts.

Why exactly did thinking about this process today try to become a metaphor for my mind? I don't know. Now that I'm writing about it, I see almost no similarities. In fact, I can't think of ANY similarities.

My thoughts . . . I do just let them pile up like garbage; most of them I even throw away without examining them for their complete worth. And maybe if I kept them in a concentrated area - a concious effort to keep them from being strewn willy-nilly about my backyard of a brain - perhaps they could . . . uh . . . feed off eachother and grow together to form something useful?

Nah. Because the purpose of compost isn't just to have good compost. You can't eat compost. It doesn't even smell good. it has no flowers. It isn't pretty and it doesn't recieve accolades from passersby . . . It's purpose is solely to nurture something else to grow. You compost to not waste organic matter and then to add nutrient elsewhere when it can no longer contribute in it's original form.

That is nothing like thoughts. Or writing. Or my brain.

I guess this goes to show that you can't make a metaphor out of a compost pile. And yet, I tried.



* I've now re-read this post 3 times. I'm not entirely sure I've failed at the metaphor entirely. . . or succeeded entirely . . . or just gone a little mad. At least I typed it very quickly. And that I can be pleased with.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Out of the mouths of my babes.

A few cute stories of/from my cute children.

Lemur woke up this morning a little sluggish. I sat down on his bed to help him pick out pants. After he had chosen the wonderful "blanket pants" I had made him last year with Wildbound's help, he plopped down next to me and told me that he had had a dream.
"What was it about?"
His eyes glazed over a bit, as though he were attempting to re-enter the dream. I imagine it's how I look when recounting one of my nocturnal movies. "It was purple blind. There was another storm."
"Purple blind?" I asked
"I can't 'splain it. That's just what it was. We were in the car. And during Dr. Laura, the radio guy came on. He said there would be damaging winds, and hail stones this big" he made a marble sized circle with his fingers, "and I was so scared. Then the guy's voice went all krshshshskkshshsh and I think he got hit by the hail!"
I could see he was very upset, so I offered an alternative: "Maybe the storm was just dense like a blanket, so the radio waves couldn't get to the car any more."
He nodded and his shoulders relaxed a little, "Yeah, maybe that's it."
"Is that all?"
"Nooo," he said. "Then it hit our car, and we were purple blind - like a curtain and gooey! So you drove us home very safe and we came inside. We could see to Grandma's house and lightning was hitting so close to her house. The storm was bigger than anything I've ever seen in my life! There was lightning, and rain and hail and snow and it was like the sky couldn't make up it's mind, already." He stopped talking, though his eyes continued to move, as though he were watching it all again.
"What else?"
"Well, the lighting struck a tree up on the mountain, and the mountain caught on fire. Other houses were getting beat up and on fire. I was so scared, mom."
I reached out a hand to comfort him. He turned to me and smiled, "But then, mom, there were all these spirits and ghosts around us. They said that we were okay, and the storm wouldn't hurt us. They said that we shouldn't be scared because scared kills the brain."
I can't explain why, but his description brought tears to my eyes. "So they were protecting us?"
He nodded, "All of them. There was like nine for each of us. We were safe because they were with us and told us that being scared just makes it worse. So we stayed inside and waited until the storm was over and we were okay. There were lots, and we were safe with them."
"You know, Lemur, I pray for that every night."
"Well, it works."

The next was with Rivulet. At my parents house today, she asked to watch Bambi *commence eye roll sequence*. I turned it on and she watched the first part with interest as I wandered away to check on dinner. I came back just in time to see Bambi and his mother going out for their first meal of spring. Rivulet became anxious as the music changed, heralding danger so I sat beside her. Bambi's mother raised her head and perked her ears. "Quick, Bambi! To the thicket!" They began running and Rivulet clutched my hand, "What are they running from?"
"Hunters,"I answered.
"Run, Bambi! Don't look back! Keep running." Then the fateful sound of a gunshot. Bambi made it all the way back to the thicket before Rivulet asked, "What happened to the Mama?"
"She was shot by the hunter."
Rivulet gasped a Rivulet gasp, putting a surprised and sypathetic hand to her mouth. "Poor Bambi."
"Yes,"I said.
"It's okay, his Mama just went to be with Jesus Christ." Her tone was matter-of-fact, and though I turned to see her face, she looked completely okay with the turn the movie had taken. Then, as Bambi found his father she said, "See, it's his daddy. He's okay now. He's like Heavenly Father."
Wow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rain Dance

Rumbling thunder woke me this morning. I very nearly jumped out of bed and then padded quickly to my son's window. As I pulled up the shades the sky was split with a thick bolt of lightning. Another "boom" echoed off Ben Lomond and it, coupled with my urgen whisper, woke my son from his dreams. He reacted much the same way I did: eager and excited he joined me at the window. But the storm was moving to the north and west, beyond our field of vision.

Together we quickly ran down the stairs to the bay window in the living room. I lifted the curtains to reveal a beautiful rain-soaked view of the valley. Both Lemur and I let out a deep cleansing sigh. We are rain people. Lightning again. Lemur ran back to his room to get dressed. I could not wait. I put on my jacket and went straight out the front door, standing in the middle of our lawn, facing the passing storm.

Very dramatically, there was a roll of thunder and then it began to pour rain. I lifted my face to the sky and let the drops wash over me, laughing and feeling totally free. I swayed a little, to such inner music that moved me. I was instantly reminded of Topaz in I Capture the Castle, who would go out to enjoy a rain storm in only a straw hat and hip boots. And that memory led me to my favorite line from the Broadway Camelot, especially as recited by my mother as Gueniveir:

"It's never being alone that bothers me most. Do you know, I have never been without someone around me my entire life? Neither at Camilliard or camelot. I mean, completely, totally, solitarily alone? Sometimes I wish the castle were empty, everyone gone and no one here but me. Do you know what I would do? I would bolt every door, lock every window, take off all my clothes and run stark naked from room to room. I would go to the kitchen naked; I'd prepare my own meals, naked; I would do some embroidery, naked; and put on the crown. And then I passed a mirror I would stop and say: 'Ello, Jenny old thing! Nice to see ya!'"

Now, I was not in this state - except emotionally. Although I don't doubt that my neighbors were concerned for my mental health all the same. I was outside on my front lawn at 6:54 am, in the rain, in my pajamas, showing no intention for going inside despite becoming increasingly drenched.

I opened my eyes for a moment, looking to the door hoping that Lemur was on his way out to enjoy the rain with me, but was instead met by a look from my beloved husband.

I went back inside.

And I have not yet been able to shake the feeling of well-being that standing ill-clad in the rain offered me this morning. Nor would I want to.

*Sigh*

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Labyrinthine Lawn-Mower

"A labyrinth is not a maze, but a walking mediation device with a single winding path from the edge to the center. There are no tricks, choices or dead ends in a labyrinth walk. The same path is used to return to the outside. The labyrinth represents the journey inward to our own true selves and back to the every day world.
Walking a labyrinth is a right brain activity: creative, intuitive, and imaginative. It can induce or enhance a contemplative state of mind. It is a tool which can calm our anxieties, guide healing, deepen self knowledge, enhance creativity, and lead to personal or spiritual growth." - labryinthcompany.com Today I was mowing the lawn for my parents. They have a large sprawling yard and A LOT of grass to keep in check. I remembered all the times I dreaded mowing the lawn as a young teenager. And I noticed that today was very different. I had no headphones on. I was not singing "It's in His Kiss" from the Mermaids Soundtrack. I was not wearing shorts and a cute shirt in case the neighbor boys looked outside. I was not trying to pretend I was doing something - anything - other than mowing the lawn on a beautiful spring morning.

No; today I was pleased by the opportunity to be outside, smelling the grass and staining my feet with chlorophyll. I slowly walked behind the mower, around and around the back yard. I thought about Julia Cameron, and how she said that walking "replenishes our over tapped creative well and gives us a sense of . . . well, wellness." That "walking with our soles is really walking with our souls," quoting the following: "The action or rhythm of walking was used as a technique for dissolving the attachments of the world and allowing men to loose themselves in God."

I also thought about DreamPacker. A while ago she went through a Labyrinth phase. (Not to imply that she is out of that phase . . . she might still be in it for all I know.) She taught me how to draw one. We discussed making one out of rocks in her backyard somewhere, so one could go out and walk it at any time - freeing their mind by connecting right to left. She made a beautiful custom rug that I only wish I could afford. These thoughts led to another which was that perhaps this wonderful woman doesn't know how much she affects my life and mind.

I kept walking. I kept thinking. I went over a story-line in my head. I meandered through countless possibilities for past, future, present events and fictional parodies of each. Then I found myself thinking in a rut. I was walking along the perimeter of the yard, going literally in circles downhill. When I realized it, I rationalized that it was logical that I should be traveling this way because it was the easier path.
The image of the Labyrinth arrived in my minds eye. So I turned around and began mowing in the opposite pattern. I was amazed that my processes lept out of the rut and began flowing in a different direction. I worked a little more, and I was walking directly into the sun . . . but it felt wonderful. Metaphors sprang to mind. I wished almost fiercely for a digital recorder so I could speak and keep all my thoughts . . . then laughing at myself because even if I'd had one on hand, I could not have been heard over the sound of the engine.

We bought a new old car back in January. It did not have a radio. I used to believe that if I didn't have music in the car, I would fall asleep. As it turns out, my brain fills the silence with ease and I am actually more alert without music. I begin to have unspoken communications with the car, and am a better driver. I can calmly think out all my thoughts. I even begin to open my brain up to unthunk thoughts that before had remained wall flowers at the dance where all the music was too fast.

So from this I learned that Music releases emotion, and silence releases thought.
I learned that walking pumps my brain - though the two seem unconnected.
After I was finished with the lawn, I walked the mower back to it's spot under the deck and put it away. I didn't feel sad that the experience was over. But I did take a moment to marvel at how good it felt to have had it.

These were my thoughts today. And my brain would not let my head rest on a pillow until they were got out in a meaningful venue. And I guess I consider this meaningful as compared with other places I could have stored my musings because if nothing else, DreamPacker will know that . . . well . . . I bet she knows anyway.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The story flowers tell


These flowers, when I saw them in a corner garden on Temple Square this morning, made me think of my sister.
Then, while going through the pictures during the transfer from camera to computer, I was reminded of her again.
So I post it here . . . wondering if it will make other women think of their sisters.
As I think of mine.
I love my sister . . .