Friday, August 31, 2007

Enjoy the Journey

I just read Snowdragonne's thoughts on enjoying the night sky, and it made me think about the beauties of this earth that I enjoy so much but see so seldom these days.

One of the best hikes I've ever been on was the one where I decided to focus on my surroundings rather than my destination. I had a limited amount of time and I realized I wasn't going to reach the summit before I had to turn around, so I slowed way down and started looking around me instead of just ahead of me. I started noticing flowers, birds, and other beautiful things that I'd been missing before. I'd been so intent on not tripping as I hurried along that I focused entirely on the dirt trail rather than natural beauties I'd come to see in the first place.

That seems to be the story of my life lately: I get so busy doing things that I forget to savor the people and experiences that really matter.

Gotta work on that.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quote of the Day - "Physics and Fashion"

"Once you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy." --Albert Einstein

Doubt this one will change my life, but it sure was good for a laugh.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Family Togetherness

A friend recently wrote on her blog that her once close-knit (if somewhat dysfunctional) extended family has started drifting apart. Her grandpa died a few months ago, and now that the generation that united them is passing away, the aunts and uncles have started drifting in different directions. They still care about each other; they just don't spend as much time together as they used to.

I haven't yet suffered such a loss, but my extended family is experiencing a similar phenomenon. My dad's side of the family used to gather once or twice a month for birthdays and every major holiday. Now all the cousins are grown up and going their separate ways, and it is hard to get even the local aunts and uncles together very often. It's kind of sad, but what is is and you just have to roll with it.

The river of life and generations flows on, and though I miss some of the old traditions, we've kept a few of them and we're creating new ones with our immediate families and our new little family. I'm curious to see what traditions stick or evolve with Baby and her future siblings. It's kind of fun to think we're creating a unique, hybrid family culture that will be even more than the sum of its parts.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quote of the Day - "Roommates"

"Love ebbs and flows, but it goes on being love. We are used to the fluctuations in our own feelings. I know, for example, that I don't love my husband exactly the same way every day. We go through periods of living more like roommates, bumping up against each other matter-of-factly in the ordinary course of living in the same house. I'm busy; he's busy. Love ebbs. Then something happens: I don't know what it is. Maybe I get a little extra sleep one night, maybe he does--maybe something nice comes in the mail. Maybe he says something that makes me laugh and look at him, really look at him, for the first time in days. Maybe absolutely nothing I can identify happens. But one day we decide on the spur of the moment to go out for ice cream together after dinner, or maybe I suddenly feel like giving him a hug, and it isn't just roommates anymore. Love flows back up around us again, warm and familiar." --Beppie Harrison

I came across this quote a few weeks ago. It paints an incredibly accurate portrait of my marriage (and probably yours, too, if you're married). Phillip and I are both a bit introverted, often content to spend hours working alone on our individual tasks and projects. We respect and love each other, but sometimes we do seem more like roommates than sweethearts.

Then all of a sudden a word, a gesture, a thought wakes my sleeping heart, and I feel so lucky to have this man in my life. I'm almost overwhelmed with gratitude for his good heart, for the fun we have together, for our ability to relate to each other.

I'm glad I have a roommate who does the dishes, a partner who shares my principles, and a sweetheart who makes my life so much sweeter than it would otherwise have been.

Barak & Mitt

P.S. For those of you who commented on the "Candidate in Pink" post, I just posted a reply. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner - we've been out of town for a few days.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eavesdropping Encouraged

The blogosphere is a funny place. In everyday interaction eavesdropping is generally frowned upon, but on blogs it's practically encouraged. You're free to read about anyone's lives, loves, losses, and random musings, whether they know you or not.

What's more, you often get to know people more quickly and intimately than you could through normal conversation. In face to face interaction, you can't just walk up to a stranger and ask about their hopes and dreams. We don't generally feel comfortable revealing that kind of stuff to people we've never met. You have to wade through several layers of smalltalk about hometowns, college majors, hobbies, etc., before you find out what really makes them tick.

In the blogosphere, though, the first day you encounter a blog you can read for fifteen minutes and get a pretty clear idea about what the auther is like, what interests them, what they value. And if you like them, you're free to visit as often as you like and participate in their conversations. Jane Austen might be appalled at the social anarchy, but I love it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Candidate in Pink

I'll give you one guess who the title refers to. That's right: John Edwards.

Just kidding. The other day, I heard a radio piece on Hillary Clinton that I found rather interesting. They were discussing, of all things, her campaigning wardrobe. On the one hand, it's an utterly frivolous subject; on the other hand it raises some intriguing questions.

As a pre-candidacy senator, Clinton favored power pantsuits and no make-up. Now that she's courting America's favor, she's had a serious makeover and she's wearing skirts and dresses, some of them in shades of pink. The radio folk drew the conclusion that she's trying to appeal to American's traditional, subconscious ideas of womanhood, even if our conscious expectations of women are somewhat different these days.

I'm still trying to figure out what I think about that. Part of me is kind of amused at the disconnect between what we say a woman can be and what we really feel comfortable with. On the other hand, part of me is a little irked that a female candidate has to look and act like something she's not in order to court public opinion. But then, I suppose that's the nature of politics - they're all trying to become what we want, rather than convince us to want what they already are.

I probably won't vote for Hillary Clinton (pink dress notwithstanding, we don't see eye to eye on most things), but I'm still excited to live in a time when she can make a strong run for the presidency. In the past the question has always been, "Could a woman be president?" Now the question just seems to be what title they'll give Bill if she wins. I love that our country has reached a point when a woman, an African-American, and a Mormon all have a decent shot at the presidency, and no one seems particularly fazed about it. 'Bout time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Grass is Always Greener . . .

This afternoon I read a post by my friend Beth about her struggles to enjoy singlehood. She pointed out that there are so many things to love about being single - freedom, solitude if you desire it, sole management of finances, etc. - but it can be hard to really enjoy them when what you desire most is marriage and children.

I completely relate to that, partly because I spent several years living that paradox, but also because (irony of ironies) I face a similar challenge now that I'm married. I have the world's sweetest husband and an amazingly cheerful and well-behaved baby, but sometimes I forget those incredible blessings as I focus on things I wish I had - more time, freedom to come and go unrestrained by nursing and napping schedules, a yard, central air.

Wishes are human and goals are divine, but if we can't appreciate our current blessings while striving for additional ones, we'll spend our entire lives waiting to be happy. And that's sad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What Women Want

I once heard someone relate the story of a husband who decided to sincerely compliment his wife at least once a day. He expressed his admiration of her virtues, her strengths, the way she nurtured their children, etc. After several days, his wife said, "I know what you're doing, and I thank you for it, but all I really want is for you to tell me I'm beautiful."

Now I won't deny that it is very important to me to know my husband thinks I'm beautiful. However, it disturbs me that the speaker implied that this is what EVERY woman wants MOST. Maybe some do (more power to 'em), but for my part it is even more important to me to know that my husband respects me, and that I inspire him to be better. In turn, those two qualities are what I love most about him.

In a recent post, Scienceteachermommy referred to this as the Darcy Effect. The term refers to Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, whose love and respect for Elizabeth Bennett inspires him to be more humble and selfless. STM thinks Darcy's enduring appeal lies in the fact that his sweetheart's example motivates him to be better. I think there's a bit more to it than that (e.g. Elizabeth finds him inspiring, too; and her influence on him is more meaningful because he already has such high standards), but I definitely think STM has a point. I (like most women I know well) want a sweetheart who finds respects me and finds me inspiring, and I want to feel the same way about him.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


As most of you probably already know, President James E. Faust of the Church's First Presidency passed away yesterday morning. I will really miss that man. I have long felt a warm affection and respect for him, as if he were some sort of third grandpa to me. Perhaps it was because he often flavored good counsel with a bit of personal experience, like a dash of seasoning that makes wholesome food delicious. He invited us into his life and his memory, so he seemed familiar to me, even though we've never met.

I'm glad he has moved on to greet the Lord he loved, but I'll sure miss him down here.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bonding Over Dishes

A few days ago, Phillip pointed out that we used to wash dishes together (him washing, me drying), but for some time now he has washed alone. I’m not sure how it started; perhaps it was when I needed every free minute to work on my thesis. Whatever the reason, Phillip said he missed my company, and asked if I would mind joining him again. Yesterday evening I resumed my post, towel in hand, and we had a good time talking and just enjoying each other’s company. The companionship with my husband is definitely worth more than whatever housework or leisure I’d have been doing instead.

I had planned to join Phillip for dish duty again tonight, but by evening I had a splitting headache. I was torn between spending quality time with my husband and curling up in a fetal position with our big, stuffed iguana. I decided to compromise and just pull up a chair near Phillip while he was washing. I'm glad I did--we had a thoughtful discussion about things we've been reading lately.

It's funny--lately we've been struggling to come up with activities to do at home together (Joy goes to sleep pretty early, and we lack the funds for expensive dates anyway). You can only play so many games, watch so many movies, etc. I never imagined that housework would be our magical solution, but it's turning out to be a great way for us to hang out and just enjoy being together. And hey, you can't beat the price.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Quote of the Day - "Happiness"

"You don't find happiness; you make it." - Bishop Crabb

Today we attended the wedding of a couple who are about to join our ward. Bishop Crabb officiated, and I found some of his remarks very touching. In addition to the above quote, I liked his comment that the bride and groom will be forming a unique family, born of their personal qualities, interests, and strengths. Phillip and I each come from families with distinct personalities and we, in turn, are forming a new family with its own quirks and traditions. I'm excited to see how we will evolve as the years go by.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Not Alone

"We read to know we are not alone," according to a character in the film "Shadowlands." I assume he meant we seek confirmation that others share our ideas, desires, fears, etc. I confess I've never really felt that way about reading (frankly, I just like a good story), but the principle definitely applies when it comes to blogging.

When we are around other people we tend to be on our best (or at least our better) behavior. It's not necessarily hypocritical - we're just trying to accentuate the positive so socializing will be an uplifting experience. The only trouble is that when everyone leaves their problems home, it can give each person the impression that they're the only one with a disorderly life or misbehaving children.

In the blogosphere, though, we're less concerned with keeping up appearances. We share our highs and lows - the former inspiring, the latter comforting as we're reminded that we're not the only ones who get discouraged by our challenges and faults. I'm grateful for a forum that allows me to see both the divinity and humanity of the people I know.

Bookstore Ambiance

I hung out at a bookstore today. I had met a friend for lunch, then we wanted to find a place to chat so we walked over to Borders and sat at a table outside for an hour or so. I suppose we could easily have found a park bench, but there was something about being so close to all those books that we found strangely appealing.

Do you have a place like that - a place you comforting because of what you associate with it?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


I volunteered to be on the national bone marrow donor registry today. I wasn’t aware there was such a thing until a few weeks ago. Twin baby boys in a nearby stake have a blood disease that will claim their lives if a suitable bone marrow donor is not found soon, so all the surrounding stakes are holding drives for people to find out if their bone marrow is similar enough to the twins’ to be of use. The test is simple enough: you rub cotton swabs on the inside of your cheeks, then the swabs are sent to a lab to find out if your tissue is similar enough to that of any patients needing donors. Even if I’m not a suitable donor for the twins, my data will be kept in a registry in case it matches someone else who needs a donor.

When the drive was initially announced in church, I understood that I would need to donate blood in order to be tested. We were later informed that that wouldn't be necessary, but before I learned that I was prepared to give blood in order to be on the registry. That was a big decision for me. I absolutely-from-the-bottom-of-my-soul hate needles, and the only time I ever tried to give blood it was a traumatic and fruitless experience (they couldn’t even get enough to use what they took), but I was determined to be tested no matter what I had to go through. If my baby was sick I would be desperate for anyone and everyone to be tested, and with that on my mind there was no question that I had to go today. The odds of finding a suitable donor are long, but with God all things are possible.