Saturday, December 11, 2010


"I'm alone, but I'm not lonely . . . " Bonus points if you know what movie that is from. Sometimes I love to be alone. It's nice to have peace and quiet, which, my kids will tell you from many of my lectures, are not the same thing. It is in fact very common to have one without the other. I just read my husband's most recent blog posting here. Some of the best truths are learned in solitude. We can learn a lot from each other, but when it comes down to it, our best learning comes when it is just you and the Holy Spirit. Besides it's probably easier to hear when no one else is talking:)

God is alone, -- but the devil, he is far from alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion.

Clearly, time spent with only ourselves for earthly comfort is time well spent. Being physically alone is not the only factor here. To truly be alone we need to turn off all of our wonderful devices that talk to us in place of other humans. Sometimes I purposely leave my cell phone at home when I go somewhere, just so I can feel the disconnection. And I secretly love it when the power goes out, because of the way it cuts us off from our electronic world and gives us a little time to just breath in the solitude of it. Plus it makes me even more grateful for electricity and all my wonderful toys when the power comes back on. This is one reason we take our kids camping every year. There is nothing that can compare with sitting around a campfire in the fading light with nothing but nature all around you. Being outside, alone, is one of the most wonderful things in this world. Sometimes when I was a kid and I got stressed out I would go out to the backyard and climb a tree and just sit. Try it sometime, it's a singular experience.

Solitude is not about being completely alone. Just as the reverse is true, being in a large group of people does not mean that you are well-companioned. It is all complexly intertwined. I have felt utterly alone in a room full of people who I am familiar with. On the reverse I have been physically alone and felt more loved and accepted than at any other time.

Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows.

I often find my solitude simply by following my heart and just being who I am. That of course, has taken years of figuring out exactly who I am, but I have a fair idea by this point. When my children are playing quietly and I have a great book to read, I find solitude. When I get the chance to work out in the yard raking leaves, or spreading wood chips, I relish in the solitude of physical labor out in the beauty of nature. I'm really not too much of an outdoorsy girl, but I want to be. I decided that the only reason I am not out there more is that for ten years I have had one or more little people who I cannot and should not leave unattended for long periods of time. I am greatly looking forward to the time that is fast approaching when all my children will be able to accompany me on long hikes. (oh, and I need to get into shape for those long hikes too:)) In the meantime I grab little moments of solitude.

We can't all go live by the side of a pond for two years, but I am quite sure that with a little effort each of us can find moments of solitude wherever we are.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Favorite Dead Guy

Seriously I really think Henry David Thoreau is my new favorite dead guy. He had more common sense than the majority of the world's population.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.

I strive to keep my life simple. My kids are not involved in tons of things. I am not involved in tons of things. Elder Oaks' "Good, Better, Best" talk has become my mantra of life. I admit I am also judgmental of those who complain about how crazy their lives are and yet do nothing to simplify. If you know something is wrong at least try to fix it, you know? I do still have days and even weeks when my life is much busier than I would like, but that is the exception and not the rule. This means even more to me on the eve of one of my crazy busy days. I am curious to know if anyone else thinks that this would constitute a busy day: Kids up and family scripture study at 7:30, strip beds, wash sheets, devotional with kids, visiting teaching at 930 and 1030, home for lunch, visiting teacher arriving at 1, take care of friends dog about 230, piano lesson at 330, house cleanup at 5, dinner at 6 and kids bedtime at 8. I fear that what I consider an insane day will be nothing to others, but for me tomorrow will be crazy. I much prefer my two or three kind of days.

One of the biggest reasons for keeping things simple is so I don't miss anything. I want to live and enjoy what is really important, like a three year old who loves everything, and a one year old who is growing up way to fast. To quote Thoreau:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I want to live. I want to rake the biggest pile of leaves, or spend a whole day just reading books outloud, or watch a baby learn to walk. There is just so much in this world. So many options. Too many in my opinion. I know I have to make hard choices about what I will or will not do and what I let my kids do. I want to be sure that I spend my most valuable time becoming better than I am, and being as goofed up as I am I have lot of improving to do . . .

When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence

Slow it down people. Sometimes (like tomorrow for me) we run so fast trying to do everything we miss what really matters. After all is it more important for your child to play three sports and two instruments, or for that child to spend time with you one on one just taking a walk and talking? To me the answer is obvious. Time. For anyone who disagrees, perhaps you should take a moment and ponder on why you do not feel a desire to be with your child. I know that's a little or a lot judgmental, but honestly, why do parents schedule their children? I am not talking about situations where a child who is old enough to understand commitment and responsibility asks, begs, or pleads for lessons or a certain activity. If the child has a passion, feed it. My problem is when the parents sign up their children so everyone is running around every available opportunity instead of having any down time at home. They push their children out of a misguided attempt to better them without understanding what the child really needs to become better. They want the best for them, but they miss the point that what is best for them is being with them. I understand that it is easier emotionally to drive and drop, than walk and talk. Establishing an emotional connection with a child or any other person requires a certain level of maturity and selflessness, not to mention charity and love. It's hard, I know. I have been there. I have had and still do have times when I would really not rather have to deal with kids. It is easy to dismiss and ignore them. It's hard to care for another, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Just like with everything worth having or doing in this world, it takes work and it's going to be hard, but the end result will be well worth it. Things that are permanent and absolute are few and far between in this temporal world of ours. Find out what those things are and you will have a clear picture of what you should be spending your time and energy on. I think that was one point of Life in the Woods. Take time away from civilization and assess your priorities. When we have our priorities in order we are more than capable of taking of our own and then extending out to help and serve others. Gotta say, loving this my new favorite dead guy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have been mulling over a thought concept for some time now. I thought it would be titled Perception. So I guess this really is reality or perception. What is the difference between the two?

I am reading Wives and Daughters for my new book club and I was struck today by the way the author presents certain characters. Some of the people in the book, and in many other books, just don't get it. It's like they live in this alternate world, that doesn't intersect the real world. I often see or interact with other people and I wonder (sooo judgingly) if they realize that they are functioning with a false sense of what is real and what matters. Reality (punny I know) tv shows for example. Do the people on those shows really behave that way in real life? I sure hope not. I imagine that a great deal of their drama and angst comes from knowing they are being taped and that in real life they would not be so terribly unpleasant or idiotic. Of course that leads into why we as a society have this clearly rampant desire to voyeuristicly observe other people acting like they are not acting while they clearly are? What does that say about the Human race? Where does this deep need for drama and excitement come from? Why are we so incapable of being content with where we are and what we have. Just to be clear I am not judging here, I am more than guilty of books and movies enjoyed simply to remove myself from my reality for a time. I just wonder . . .

So in dissecting the thought of how another person's perception of the world is in fact their reality, does that mean that they are not living in the real world, or that I am not? I feel that I see things much more clearly than they do, so does that mean that I understand what is real and what matters? or am I deluding myself with thoughts of my own grandeur? I think that observing life from a gospel perspective is the only way to judge. I know the gospel to be true. I know Christ was/is perfect. So if I can try to see the world through His eyes, that seems like the best possible way to determine what is reality. Of course, once I master that I will be able to stop judging people and considering myself "more real" than they are and then this whole concept of my perception vs. their perception is rather moot since it would simply become the perception of the Perfected one, which is universal and omnipotent.

Obviously (to me at least) my concerns about perception should be focused not on who is right, but on how I can help. Naturally my next thought leads me to think about how I perceive myself in an attempt to share the gospel and then begin to consider how another person might perceive my attempt to share, which could very well seem to them like I don't live in the real world, but really that is just my perception of what their perception might be based on only my own life experiences, which is not their experiences and since I have yet to discover that elusive mind reading ability, I will never truly be able to know how another person receives what I share.

It's a conundrum.

My right answer: don't worry about what other people think. Do what I know is right. Ask questions when I do not understand. Pray for guidance.

Someday I'll figure it all out.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Being as clothing has been necessary since the Garden of Eden, it is one of the first things Thoreau addresses. Me and clothes have had issues since waaaay back. When I was in elementary school I had a couple of pairs of jeans that were exactly the same. So even when I wore a different pair jeans each day, it looked from the outside like I was wearing the same thing everyday. I don't remember thinking anything of it until the teasing started. I think it began in 5th grade. The more fashionable girls, who had the latest styles made fun of me because of my clothes. Even then I wore alot of what I wear now: jeans and a t shirt. That's my pretty standard dress code. I like it and I am comfortable in it. However it was not up to par. Being picked on for what I wore got much worse in Junior High. I had a math class first thing in the morning and there were two girls who came to class everyday and first thing told everything that was wrong with what I was wearing. They didn't even pretend to be helpful/condescending, they were just plain mean about it. As a result I have some very serious issues about what I am wearing, what it says about me, how I look, etc. It has taken me years to begin to move past it and truly find what I am comfortable wearing. So clearly clothing is a very important part of our lives, whether it should be or not.

It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes. Could you, in such a case, tell surely of any company of civilized men, which belonged to the most respected class?

This of course illustrates the concept behind school uniforms. That is an attempt to get children to, well conform for one thing, but maybe it is also an attempt to help them see past the outside. I'm probably reading into that way too much, but it is a thought. But imagine for a moment that there were no myriad of options for clothing. We all wore the same thing. We would have to actually speak to someone and get to know them before we could pass judgement. So challenge number one is to look past the clothing of someone that is different or less expensive or less cared for than our own and look for the child of God that is wearing those clothes.

Challenge number two as least according to Thoreau is frugality. How often do people buy clothes that they don't need? And then (myself included) we donate our less fashionable older things to Goodwill with the narcissistic thought that someone less fortunate than ourselves will be grateful for our sacrifice. But really aren't they the better people inside that are willing to wear something that is not new and not the most stylish, but still functional.

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of the clothes.

I love new clothes. But being a mother of six, I very often find that I must sacrifice my desire for the needs of my children. They are still growing (magically) and I (hopefully) am not. Therefore what I have should last me more than the next six months. Everytime I want to start exercising again I think I would love to get new shoes and "exercise clothes" however as previously stated, my desires are usually overshadowed, which is a good thing. Clearly since I am not currently diligent in exercising, this is an enterprise that requires "a new wearer of the clothes" as opposed to cool new exercise clothes. I have to make a change within before making a change without. I need to become a regular exerciser before I spend my families money on something that could otherwise go unused. Fashion may seem like a fairly frivolous thing to worry about, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. The concept of changing the inside can be applied to so many aspects of life. And looking like something doesn't make you that thing. I know, I do it all the time. I am a 30 year old mother of six who sometimes wears a black t shirt, leather wristband, skinny jeans and combat boots. Oh and I dyed my hair black. Apparently I am going through a bit of a goth/emo/punk phase. Does that mean I am those things? No. But it does bring up the question of why do I wear it then? Do I want people to think that I am punk, or goth? Maybe. How much does what we wear affect how other people think of us? And why do we chose to wear certain things, especially if we know it is unusual? I am not sure if I want attention, or if I just want to be what in my mind I perceive as "cool". I might still be trying to find acceptance that I never felt as a child. For the most part I wear what I wear now because I like how I look. So in conclusion, most people probably don't worry about clothes as much as I do, but for me it is a big deal. It may not seem like it, but I am very insecure in many areas. I don't look like it usually because I tell myself I am confident and comfortable with who I am, it's a little trick I learned in High School, but that is a post for another time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


A few weeks ago some of the ladies from the ward here decided to start a Non church book club. The idea is that if it is not church sponsored people will come simply out of a desire to be there and not out of obligation due to various callings. We had a planning meeting and everyone brought a few suggestions of books we could read and then we voted. It was a lot of fun to see what kinds of books people have read and to get ideas for future readings. One of my suggestions was Walden. I have never finished it, though I started it once. I was hoping to use the motivation of knowing other people expected me to be done by a certain date, but alas, it was not one of the chosen. Keeping in mind that we had to narrow down a list of about 60 books to 6, one a month for the next six months, it is not surprising as more than one sister commented on how reading shouldn't be hard. They didn't want to be challenged in their reading time. One one hand I agree, I have several series of books that I own that are my "fluff" books. They are easy reads, simply for the joy of the story and a chance to escape into someone else's life for a time. On the other hand, this quote from Walden (not so coincidentally, since I decided to go ahead and read it on my own anyway) sums it up nicely.

Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above?

So while I heartily encourage easy reading, and thoroughly enjoy it myself, I must admit that I feel it is equally if not more necessary to read things that are hard. Things that make us question ourselves, what we think and force us to examine the inner workings of our hearts. It is very hard. It took me many months to read The Road Less Traveled, but it was worth it. I don't think it will take quite as long for Walden, but I expect to find similarly deep insight within the pages.

The beginning concept of Life in the Woods, was an experiment of self sufficiency and living a life so simple as to focus only on needs and thereby discover what any human truly needs. These needs are not just the physical, though that is well covered, but I think will extend into helping remind me how much of my daily life is really an unwanted chain that I have formed of my own volition to tie me to unnecessary objects that are of this world alone. Finding what it truly needed, in this case by reading a "hard" book, I believe I will gain a greater measure of happiness than I gain by reading my much loved fluff. So here's to reading, whatever you choose, may it bring you happiness, easy or hard.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jimmy Eat World

I heard a song by Jimmy Eat World last night on the radio. It was shockingly late for me to be out and about the town. I was having a Girls Night Out orchestrated by a friend of mine. It was simple, and lots of fun, just some girls having dinner.

This is a frighteningly new experience for me.

It was fun and at the same time soo hard. I worried about whether or not I was overdressed, Was a repeating things they had already heard?, Was I really boring and not fun to be around? Was David okay at home with the kids? Was this really relaxing?

Yes and No.

For some people socializing is like breathing. They naturally care about other people and feel rejuvenated by social interaction. I am the opposite. It drains me and I get to a point where I know there are people talking, but it all turns into a senseless buzzing in my ears. That's when I know I am getting tired and ready to go. Does this mean I should stop socializing? I think not. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that I want my children to become normal and well socialized adults, which I believe will be precipitated by my setting a good example of how to be social. So I will continue to socialize, because even though it drains me, I do enjoy the sisterhood that results from getting to know other women.

Now that I am completely off track, I had no intention of posting on the strange inner workings of my mind (only on the intellectual sounding ones), so I will continue. So I heard this song, on the way home and after some personal struggles that I have had lately, it really hit home for me.

Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or
looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away.
It just takes some time,
little girl you're in the middle of the ride.
Everything (everything) will be just fine,
everything (everything) will be alright (alright).
Hey, you know they're all the same.
You know you're doing better on your own, so don't buy in.
Live right now.
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else.

Clearly this isn't the whole song, but you get the idea. So I thought to myself while listening and driving at 10:30pm, He's right! It is just in my head and somehow everything will turn out alright. A lot of what I worry about is just in my head. That doesn't make it any less real for me, but it is usually not as serious or horrible as I imagine it to be. And it is really freeing to just be myself. Even more so since I have only recently managed to begin finding out just who I am. I'm nearing thirty and I don't really know myself yet.

The biggest truth that I discovered during this late night drive, is that I only have to be good enough for one person. Obvious though it may be, I will specify just so there is no confusion. I have to be good enough for my Father in Heaven. I don't have to meet anyone else's expectations, which is really perfect since He is the only one who knows ME. He expects of me exactly what I am capable of doing. Usually I need divine assistance to find out just how much I am capable of . . . but it is never more than what I can do (with divine help).

Well this was a very long way to say I heard a good song last night, after a fun time with friends, that uplifted my spirit. Ahh, Simplicity!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Understanding the Why

I know "why?" is supposed to be a favorite question of the 2-3 year old set, but it is starting to become my favorite. In addition I am loving asking "why not?" For one thing it really unsettles people and forces them to be real and face life, which I am learning is not something many people enjoy. You'll be glad to know that since my last posting I have still been plugging through the fourth turning and now I am on page 233 of 335. So I am making progress, I am just not understanding 90% of what I read. As far as "society" goes, I am an infant. Not yet thirty and not having any experience in the real world, or politics. I hardly even keep up on what's going on, partly for lack of time and partly for lack of feeling like it matters. Yes, yes, I know if everyone had that attitude we would live in anarchy, yada, yada, I know! That doesn't make it any easier to feel like my opinion matters. Besides I am so young, and uninformed, I hardly understand why one certain law is bad and what the long term effects are going to be.

Still, all that aside, I have a deep love of trying to understand Why things are. Why people behave the way they do and why history has played out the way it has. Enter The Fourth Turning. This is the book to see the connections between how national and world events have shaped people, who in turn shape national and world events. So here are a few quotes from this book referring to the baby boomer generation, which is anyone born during the years 1946-1964.

"To galvanize the community to save itself against the darkness of human evil, Boomers will continue to allude to cleansing catastrophes, like the impending birthing pains predicted by the Earth Changes movement. Back in the Awakening (years 1964-1984), any bout of unusual weather prompted Boomers to predict the new Ice Age; today, it prompts them to predict global warming. Charles Krauthammer asks, "Is there a primitive religion that can match 'environmentalism' for attributing natural calamity to the transgressions of man?"

Love it! This may or may not make any sense to any of you, but here is how I get it. Those people born from 46-64, simply because of when they were born, grew up under a certain set of circumstances which through no fault of their own shaped these people as a whole to believe and behave in a certain way. Boomers began life during a High, when things are generally going very well, people are prospering and everyone is feeling great. Because of that when they start coming of age 20-40, they become cynical and disenfranchised about they way things are and starting looking to lay blame and complain about problems without really wanting to work hard enough to fix them. Now bear in mind that this is a very generalized description and obviously not every person fits the mold, this is generally how those of this generation work. I am not trying to knock boomers, and just for the record they have lots of good qualities too.

The beauty of understanding the why of the past is in grasping at the potential of the future. History repeats itself, and in quite a recognizable pattern if you know what to look for. We have been where we are before. However, I personally believe that what is coming will be different than before. My religious belief is that we are nearing the time when Christ will return to the earth. And well it kind of works out. If the years 1964 to 1984 were an Awakening, then the next cycle which is an Unraveling covered 1985 to 2001, next on the agenda is the Crisis, which would run from 2001 to maybe 2020? After that begins another High era, what better way to usher in the beginning of the good times than with the best that ever were? Once again my opinion and no I really don't have much to support it. That's why it is an opinion and not a hypothesis. I do know that time can be divided into sections of 20-25 years based on event dates and that we are cycling through history they way we cycle through a year or a day.

I gotta say I am really getting eager for the end of the book, which covers the authors predictions for the future,which happens to be the time in which I am now living, since the book was written in 1997. The more we understand about our past and our world the better we can prepare for what is coming.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Imagine one of those picturesque movie shots where the heroic lead character gently blows a century's worth of dust off the priceless artifact, then lifts the lid with the utmost care.

Got it? good.

That's me. I am figuratively blowing the dust off my keyboard (and hopefully my brain) and trying to get back to more intellectual endeavors. No, reading Elmo and Grover books is not what I consider to be intellectual.

Last year I spent several posts on The Road Less Traveled. It was a great trip (yes, I meant that.) Recently I have started reading The Fourth Turning. I am on page 78 out of 335. I started reading it two months ago. For one thing, life has been crazy. Having all the kids has finally caught up to me and I actually have less free time during the day than I used to. But the other thing is that this is one of those books that is written in such a way that I can only read a section at a time and digest it before moving on. So here is what I have gleaned thus far.

God is a god of order. This is a concept which I can appreciate very much. I love order, I love sets and even numbers. I don't know why, I just do. So really it doesn't surprise me that there is more order to history than just sections of years and centuries. The authors of this book (Strauss and Howe) chose to call this turnings. Each turning is a somewhat flexible number of years. It is based a great deal on generations and how long a generation is. Each turning is characterized by certain traits. For example, during a fourth turning, there is a crisis, something major that greatly changes the world we know. It's like the winter of time. That's what I love about this book. Everything is cyclic. There are sets and phases. And wouldn't you know history really does repeat itself.

It is quite fascinating to look back over big historical events, good and bad and see how the great invisible wheel has turned. In addition to the ordering of time and events, it is also applied to people. Defined generations can be seen, as well as defined archetypes. A generation is everyone born within about a 20 year period. Depending on when the generation comes to be, they fall into one of four archetypes: hero, artist, prophet or nomad. Each of these groups approaches life and therefore stages of life in a different way. It is fascinating to know that by gaining an understanding of these stages and archetypes, it is possible to glean some idea of why people do the things they do. Not on a personal level to be sure, but on a general public level. Understanding WHY anyone does anything, well for some reason it intrigues me.

I am now getting to the part in the book where the author is illustrating how the myths(or stories) we tell and read and watch are indicative of certain archetypes at certain generational times. I am eager to get a grasp on each type of myth, so as to be able to apply it to the novels I read. For example, to tell you that Star Wars is the tale of a young hero type (Luke), being guided by an old prophet type (Obi-Wan) with a nomad (Han Solo) stuck in the middle, can gives us amazing insight into the time period from whence it came or the time period of George Lucas' life. Seeing the ties between historical and social gives us greater understanding of where we have been and hopefully gives us some guidance for the future.

I highly doubt that much of this made sense, but then that is why I am not the published author here, but the meek lowly student. I would recommend this book. I am sure it is going to be a good one.