Tuesday, August 30, 2011

hope is a thing with feathers

A few excerpts from my talk, given last Sunday. Maybe by posting I'll actually take it to heart.

Hope really is 'a thing with feathers'* for me, flitting and flying off and hard to hold onto, the bird never perches on my shoulder for very long. Even though I know better, it would stay longer if I didn't always shoo it away. It flutters off too often, and sadly at my own urging.

This then:

Hope needs to be nourished
From my own personal experience I need to say this about hope. It can die if it isn’t nourished. Hope needs nourishment. If we don’t eat we can’t live. I used to frequently say to my children when they were small “If you don’t eat your peas, carrots, potatoes and meat, you won’t grow up to be big and strong.” We need nourishment to live and hope needs to be nourished.

There are several ways we can feed hope in our lives: through thinking positively, listening to uplifting music, prayer, doing good works, being of service. These are all good. But it’s important to know also, that hope lives on memory. Memory nourishes hope. The scriptures, reading from them regularly and frequently and consistently, give us a needed sense of history and perspective. When I think my problems are unique or overwhelming the scriptures and the examples in them quickly put them in their place.

...The scriptures furnish us with perspective because most, if not all, of human experience is contained in them. They run the gamut of human emotion and examples and they are the standard by which we measure all truth. The scriptures expose sin and provide us with examples of how to overcome and how not to live a life. The scriptures shed light on who we are as God’s children and our part in the Plan of Salvation, the scriptures teach us of the Savior and our complete need for him.

Scripture is the guide then, that teaches us what we should believe and how we are meant to live to please God. The scriptures expose sin as our basic problem, and shows us the way back home by faith in Christ. Our Heavenly Father’s laws and commandments guide us on our earthly journey and his wonderful promises encourage us to persevere along the way.

Times we live in
The scriptures also help give perspective to the times we live in. World conditions today are downright scary. As news reports get worse about the economy, wickedness and calamities filling the earth, we all could use that calming influence and hope that the scriptures and the gospel bring.

President Howard W. Hunter speaking at a BYU devotional taught:

I am here tonight to tell you that Despair, Doom, and Discouragement are not an acceptable view of life for a Latter-day Saint. However high on the charts they are on the hit parade of contemporary news, we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us.

I am just a couple of years older than most of you, and in those few extra months I have seen a bit more of life than you have. I want you to know that there have always been some difficulties in mortal life and there always will be. But knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair.

(He went on to say):

In my lifetime I have seen two world wars plus Korea plus Vietnam and all that you are currently witnessing. I have worked my way through the depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy and have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.

So I am frank to say tonight that I hope you won't believe all the world's difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do--especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives.

So reading the scriptures, brothers and sisters, and reviewing the stories and lives of those in their own time and own generation can really inspire us. Those stories comfort and encourage us and give us hope for the present and hope for the difficult days ahead.

And so the rest of my talk goes. But the part I need to breathe in today is the section I quoted.
And I know what to do. I've lived this so many times. When I feel the most hopeless it's because I feel the most helpless. So doing something, anything to help solve the problem nearly always helps. Moving our feet, the working toward, coupled with scriptural and historical perspective, can lift our mood and attitude.

*Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

--Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

on the hottest day of the year

Oh, man. 98 degrees in the shade. But we braved the heat for two dollar discount admission at the Thanksgiving Point Farm. My girls are some kind of frugal and stoic mavens.

And the popsicles were totally worth it.


And pony rides. Did I mention ponies?

Beefy Hot.

My wilted girls. Love these hot mamas. he he he.

how i organize my world

I’ve been exposed.

Which is why I feel so vulnerable today. Quick, where are the cookies?

How come so threatened, you say?

Well, it’s because I raised such snoop-dog kids. Yesterday I was minding my own business attending to important internet stuff. I didn’t notice Mr. JLW picking up the piece of paper I had set aside.

He starts chuckling. Then ruffling.*

JLW: Oh. My. Gosh. Mom, is this what I think it is?

I look up from my computer screen.

Me: Huh?

JLW: (More laughter). Your kidding right? He continues to read, then asks incredulously, You made a list of all your lists?

Me: (sheepishly) Maybe.

Me: Give it here. I grab it out of his hands. You shouldn’t go around picking up random pieces of paper. I say with a nasty tone: I don’t go around reading your private notes to self or lists or… whatever.

I glare at him angrily and shoot him a crusty.

JLW: That’s because I don’t write notes to myself. But it’s okay, mom, I’m not dissing you making a list of your lists. It’s something probably everyone should do. I think I’ll go write one right now. Snarky snark.

He starts down the stairs, still ruffling, er laughing.

JLW: And it was a long list, that list of your lists! He continues chortling all the way down the stairs.

I consider biting him.

True to pop psychology research (that says when a person is shamed they will lash out wildly in defense, by blaming or deflecting or getting angry and loud**), I show him not to make me feel foolish. Ha!

Me: (Sputtering) You’re shunned. And I bring down my right arm all Dwight-like emphatic.

Ugh. Exposure of the onion layers reveals such secret weirdness, eh?

Addendum: I consider adding him to my list of people shunned.

*family joke. ROFL = Ruffle. If something is pee your pants funny, then its Pleats.

**That's what they say about Brutus anyway. And why Olive Oyl was able to tolerate his presence, he was shamed as a child. But Popeye believed none of this.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

luke 6:38 a giver, not a taker

I can't help the poor if I'm one of them
Found this little maxim tucked into the pages of the hymnbook a few weeks ago. It was written on the back of a Sacrament meeting program and when I turned to the opening hymn it fell out. Don't know what prompted the insight. Maybe the speaker, a flash of revelation, who knows. But I thought it a great find and my own secret message. It has even made me think of purposely leaving favorite quotes in random places.

This little proverb is a perfect fit for my own personal philosophy and strivings. I don't want to be a taker. I want to be a giver. That's hard to do if we don't have the means, not just financially but in energy and intellect, too. Because most of us put off being givers until that 'someday when I come into money or have accumulated enough'. Only to learn too late that giving is an attitude and not totally dependent on our circumstances and we ought to be doing it as we go along. We can always give something and give with an open heart. And when we do, it comes right back to us in 'good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over'.
I've known quiet givers, people who are generous with their time and money.* Their example inspires me and shows me a better way.

Liking this, too: http://commencement.vassar.edu/2001/010520.king.html

Stephen King, America's Boogie-man, spoke at Vassar College as the commencement speaker. He wanted the graduates to think about how they would spend their lives, so the speech took a very personal turn. He told them about a day in 1999, when he was struck by a car and severely injured.

As he lay recovering in a hospital bed and then for months later, he had a lot of time to think about life.

Some of what he told the students at Vassar:

“I’ll tell you one thing you’re not going to do, and that’s take it with you. I’m worth many millions of dollars, and a couple of years ago, I found out what ‘you can’t take it with you’ means.”

“I found out while I was lying in the ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with (a badly broken leg). I had a Master Card in my wallet, but when you’re lying in the ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts Master Card.”

“We all know that life is ephemeral..., but on that particular day and in the months that followed, I got a painful but extremely valuable look at life’s simple backstage truths: We come in naked and broke. We may be dressed when we go out, but we’re just as broke.

And how long in between? Just the blink of an eye.”

And then he said:

Of all the power which will shortly come into your hands, the greatest is undoubtedly the power of compassion, the ability to give.

We have enormous resources in this country - resources you yourselves will soon command - but they are only yours on loan.”

“I came here to talk about charity, and I want you to think about it on a large scale.

Should you give away what you have? Of course you should.

I want you to consider making your lives one long gift to others, and why not? All of you want to get at the getting place, but none of that is real. All that lasts is what you pass on. The rest is smoke and mirrors.”

Finally, he said,

“I give because it’s the only concrete way I have of saying that I’m glad to be alive and that I can earn my daily bread doing what I love. Giving is a way of taking the focus off the money we make and putting it back where it belongs - on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities which nurture us.”

The whole speech worth reading.

*I happen to live with one. Yup, I do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

guadium # 99,994

Nielsen's Grove Park in Orem. An awesome place for the grandies. Ducks to feed, a fountain to wade in and swings that go in circles. We had so much fun last evening that we grabbed Faye and Megs and went back this morning.

More info here:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

this weeks reading

If you're wondering what happened to Sunday's post, well, I deleted it. It was mean and I knew better. But here's something you might like.

Five Blessings of Reading
1. In reading, we experience one of the greatest pleasures human life can afford us; books sweeten, nourish, brighten, and enrich our lives.

2. Books enable us to live more lives than the one allotted and allow us to experience impossible adventures.

3. Books help us to process, order, and understand our personal experience and gain perspectives on others’ lives.

4. Books enable us to see outcomes where we presently only see possibilities; solutions where we presently see only dilemmas; direction where we presently only see impasse.

5. Books allow us an opportunity to learn how to discern the Holy Spirit and respond to its promptings.
--Richard H. Cracroft, BYU Magazine, Summer 2011. p. 55

Yup, yup. Reading is an important way to grow and imho an essential ingredient in developing character.

So I was excited when Chea gave me the assignment to read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Not finished yet, but Chea, you were right.

It is stirring in me the sort of feelings as in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.

Yes. Definitely. We will discuss.

But wait. You haven't read Housekeeping? Go read, people. Then visit Professor Hungerford (an online fav of mine!).

She discusses this novel here:

Second part:

Oh, and this month's MoDa selection:
Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

"I think love is kind of like those waves out there," she said. "You ride one in to the beach, and it's the most amazing thing you've ever felt. But at some point the water goes back out; it has to. And maybe you're lucky-maybe you're both too busy to do anything drastic. Maybe you're good as friends, so you stay. And then something happens-maybe it's something as big as a baby, or as small as him unloading the dishwasher-and the wave comes back in again. And it does that, over and over. I just think sometimes people forget to wait."
—Erica Bauermeister (Joy For Beginners)

Friday, August 12, 2011

"You can only be young once. But you can always be immature." —Dave Barry

Being a mature adult. So. I’m taking this to mean no adult temper tantrums, ‘notice me, notice me!’ antics, blurting out stupid insults, putdowns or 'neener neeners', or speaking without thinking. No, the emotionally mature read the social cues in any situation and adjust their behavior to ‘appropriate to the moment’.

Maturity includes the ability to regulate emotions, delay gratification, maintain a calm demeanor, and an ability to schedule the hard stuff first. So says Social Science.

It means we get over having to be right all the time, or our ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude. The mature don’t bully and they don’t boss and they don’t gloat.
And above all, the highly mature internalize personal accountability.

Oh, sheesh. It’s tough being an adult. Such a stinkin' life-long process to grow up. But the ability to recognize when we are being immature, to step back when acting like a two year old, and remind ourselves that the goal here is to become civilized, well, I hope that counts for progress. Because I have been doing a lot of ‘oh crap, why did I just say that?’ lately.

The easy thing is to remain childish, selfish and unaware but it’s not very fulfilling. And it’s embarrassing. We look like, well, immature jerks. He he he.

Here then, this says it better:


Friday, August 5, 2011

because I am recommending Middlemarch

Woo boy. JLW and I have had this discussion frequently. He accuses me of relying on professional critiques way too much. And then I come right back at him by saying he does the same thing. He won’t watch a movie I recommend until he has read a plot synopsis and several ‘credible’ reviews.

But he has a point. The internet with all its information can also taint us, making it more difficult to ‘reach an unbiased and wholly personal verdict’ about books, movies, music, art, etc. It’s the BIG VOICE and I am as guilty as anyone in sometimes listening to it way too much. All the more reason to develop powers of reasoning and mature thinking skills. If we don’t then the BIG VOICE can really diminish us. By making us trust our own judgment and preferences less we become unsure of our own opinions. The BIG VOICE then becomes our voice. Not good.

This then:

There’s an essential freedom in being alone with one’s thoughts, oblivious to and unpolluted by anyone else’s. Diminish that aloneness and we start to doubt our own perspective. Do I really think Blue Bottle coffee is that great? Or Blazing Saddles that funny? Do I really not like that pizza place because it isn’t authentic New York-style? Sure, it’s entirely possible to arrive at one’s own opinion amidst a cacophony of others. But it’s also possible to bend, unknowingly and imperceptibly, toward a position not naturally our own.

Life demands assessment. Indeed, it’s often improved by hearing from the Roger Eberts of the world (or whoever the equivalent is in the Review Your Purchases genre). But we have to watch how much outside assessment we let in. There’s something heartbreaking about surrendering to strangers the delicate moment of giving order to the world. In those instances when we bring our cognitive reasoning to bear on our surroundings, when we aim our singularly human powers of evaluation at a piece of art or a fellow person, it’s a fundamental expression of the self. There are wonderfully democratic and empowering things about an Internet full of anonymous voices. But when those opinions replace our own blundering around for truth, we’re in trouble. Too much charting becomes an unnecessary handrail, too many floodlights along the dark path. I give that only two out of five stars.

Whole article here:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. ~Mark Twain


Sort of reinforces the idea that habits are best gently coaxed and not forced with grit-your-teeth-willpower.