Saturday, February 28, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I love the people who make me laugh and always take note of who provides me with my first good laugh of the day. And with the stress of the past few weeks, the occasional humorous moment has come as a great stress relief, and been even more appreciated.
In Elder Wirthlin’s most recent conference talk he suggests, “The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life. . ..” My friend Jenny thought it was interesting he would suggest that laughter could make us live longer, and so she decided to do some research and see what other benefits there could be to laughing. Here is what she found:
1. It Helps Manage Your hormones.
So laughter might not be the cure all for monthly mood swings, but it can help manage other hormones. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones.
2. It provides a nice internal workout.
Forget about all those ads for ab diets and workouts; just learn to laugh. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart. Laughing 100 times is the equivalent of 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike!
3. Physical release.
This one won’t come to a surprise to any female . . . Laughter provides a physical and emotional release. Crying does as well, but as Sister Hinckley said, “I prefer to laugh, crying gives me a headache.” I found this to be very true in the past couple weeks when I was spending my days at the hospital. In all the stress of watching monitors, waiting for lab reports and holding our breath for the next doctor visit, I appreciated the male patient who went running down the hall, in an effort to catch his wife because he remembered something he needed to tell her. Unfortunately he was too late, but the expression on his face when he noticed several people staring at him and then watching him sheepishly back down the hall to his room, clutching his gown closed behind him, was priceless and kept me giggling for a long time afterwards.
4. Changes your perspective.
Humor can give us a more light-hearted perspective on events we might otherwise view as a threat. Oh, how true is this! I found the greatest tool in averting discord in my marriage was to have a good sense of humor. It is also a great tool to help smooth over otherwise difficult situations.
For example . . . when my son was a teenager, I encouraged him to attend the youth dances and ask to dance girls who might not otherwise be asked. He reluctantly agreed to do so. One night he noticed such a young woman, and asked her to dance the next dance with him. Immediately the girls standing by her began to giggle, and the girl he asked hesitated, looked over at a man standing by a group of boys and smiled at him and then accepted my son’s offer. My son quickly realized he had just asked a married chaperone to dance. (She assured him her husband was not the jealous type:-) Ryan came home mortified and determined to never follow my advice again. But our fits of laughter eventually won him over, and he began to see the humor in what happened.
5. Has social benefits.
Laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you laugh more. What’s even better is that the more you smile, the more others will too.
I saw an example of this one day while in Sicily with my friend Lisa. She was walking just ahead of me and smiled at an older , grumpy looking Italian man who was walking towards her. His face immediately went from grumpy to happy and for several yards he still had that smile on his face.
6. Fights illness better.
People who are optimistic (who are out there laughing) have stronger immune systems and are actually able to fight off illness better than pessimists.
7. Helps you live longer.
According to some recent research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people, those who expected good things to happen, were less likely to die than pessimists. (That is a direct quote. It really did say they were “less likely to die,” so I guess if we can always be really happy, we may live forever!:-)
8. It feels like eating 2000 chocolate bars.
That’s right — according to The British Dental Health Foundation, a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars. And oh, so many less calories!
9. It costs absolutely nothing.
And in today’s economy, that is a very good thing!
So there you have it. You can manage your hormones, make friends, improve your figure, be happy and live longer—all by having a good laugh! And that will, of course, bring great. . . . joy to your journey!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Actually, she graciously offered to update the decorating in my house and did a wonderful job. (That is not the finished product and I promise, all that stuff on the counters is now gone)
I love this picture! Not because we both look so good in it (which I know I don't) but because it was taken in Hawaii at the Polynesian Cultural Center and after spending the morning snorkeling. We did not have on any makeup nor had we done anything with our hair--and yet we were both still brave enough to pose for the picture. Courage at its best!
And speaking of being brave . . . This was taken in Tucson. We had gone there with our husbands for the night and it poured rain so our out door plans were canceled. So instead we entertained ourselves with a Nerf gun competition. Sonia was our target. (Not really.)
Tombstone, Arizona, (same trip, following day) feeling very Western, if not looking the part.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
My friend Jenny met her husband at BYU when she and her roommates set up a lemonade stand outside the boy’s apartment complex on the day many were moving in. And my friend Sonia, met her husband at her sister’s wedding. He was the groom’s brother.
I am pretty sure there are angels in Heaven whose only job is to make sure the right people meet, and to make their job more interesting they think up creative ways for that to happen. Since I missed being able to spend Valentine’s with my husband due to being in Utah with my mother (who is finally out of ICU! Hooray!) this post is dedicated to my Sweetheart.
It is our love story.
The First Time We Met
The first time I met Wes was at BYU just after he returned from his mission and I was preparing to turn in my mission papers. He had gone to visit a friend of his from high school, who also happened to be my friend and co-worker. When I arrived at work, he was there and my friend called me over to meet him. The second she said his name my heart did a leap inside of me and I thought, “This is the person I am going to marry!”
Our First Date
Our first date came two years later. I was called to serve a mission in Quito, Ecuador and Wes’ father was my mission president. (Angels at work?) His sister was also at one time my missionary companion. During my exit interview, my mission president told me to not be in a hurry to get married but rather to take my time and wait for the right man. Soon after I went home he wrote a letter to Wes and told him to ask me out. Wes ignored the letter until his sister called and told him she had just talked to their dad and he was insistent.
He didn’t. He had his roommate call and pretend to be him and ask me. (Yes, this was the coward’s way out, but also innovative.) So while Wes went jogging, Curt called and said, “You don’t know me, but my father was your mission president and he wanted me to ask you out.” (Wow, don’t sound so excited) “So can you go Thursday, Friday, or Saturday?” (Obviously very available). I chose Saturday and we went to the first of many basketball games. At this one his brother was the coach and Lehi High School was the team playing. (They won)
Two weeks later, I was ready for the “Define the Relationship” talk. At some point in the conversation Wes suggested we get married. I agreed but wasn’t ready to make it public, which was good since about a week later I got scared and backed out. Wes was patient with me, however, and one month and one day after our first date we became officially engaged.
Truthfully, I am the only girl Wes has ever kissed. That wasn’t due to lack of opportunity, but rather due to choice. He made a decision early on that he would only kiss the girl he planned to marry. About a week and a half into our relationship we were sitting on the couch in my apartment, and with a little encouragement on my part, he kissed me. Okay, so that first kiss wasn’t the best, but he was a very fast learner.
Twenty-four years after we were married he leaned over in the celestial room at the Mesa temple and asked if I would be his wife. Although incredibly delayed, that was my only official proposal. For our unofficial one, he came to my apartment one night, and after struggling with the marriage decision I decided I was ready to move forward and so I said, “I want to get married.” He asked, “Are you sure?” I said yes and we went and told my parents. Not at all romantic, but it worked. Three months later we were married in the Salt Lake Temple and moved to Mexico City where he was employed in the family business.
We were married in July and it snowed the day before the wedding in the mountains. That was not a good thing for an outdoor reception, but all worked out well. The other thing I remember is I was very stressed and rather cranky with my wedding line. My poor sisters and friends! I made them all stand straight and face forward at all times. If they moved, I got after them.
What I Like Most About Wes
Lot’s of things, but mostly that he is so very good. He lives his life in the white and never gets close to the gray area. He is also a lot of fun to be around (although people who only know him from church do not see that side of him) is very smart, very athletic, very generous, very cute and very good to me. Nearly every week he brings me flowers and is kind enough to give me frequent foot massages, which is my most favorite thing. I also love that he supports me in everything I want to do even if it means more messes around the house—like when I went through the tole painting phase, the calligraphy phase, the flower arranging phase etc. And of course he is a wonderful father to our five children and grandfather to our one little grandbaby.
But most of all, he is my very best friend.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The past few days have been very traumatic. Out of respect for my mother's privacy, I won't go into all the details, but when I arrived in Utah I was not prepared for how bad it was. She was sepsis (most of her organs infected and inflamed) and was shutting down. She was in kidney failure, not breathing on her own, unable to speak and in agonizing pain. On Wednesday, following some tests, it was determined she needed emergency surgery that she only had a 50% chance of surviving. The next three hours were some of the most difficult emotionally of my life. My family had all gathered at the hospital and we were placed in a separate "family room", probably so we would be alone if they brought us bad news. I spent most of my time pacing the hall.
We also called and emailed everyone we knew and asked them to pray for her. It was at this time my husband had an interesting experience that hopefully he won't mind if I share. As he began to pray he said he could literally feel the power of the many prayers being offered and knew they were being heard. I felt so comforted by that and appreciated all those who joined their prayers with ours.
We felt so blessed when the surgeon told us she had survived and was stable. The following day, however, we were hit with more bad news. They felt she was also suffering from metabolic encephalopathy, which is basically brain damage caused by the lack of nutrition from her kidney failure, that may or may not reverse.
However, today, only three days later, her kidneys are functioning normally, her breathing is almost back to normal, and she is slowly beginning to communicate with us. On Friday we were encouraged when she blinked her eyes in response to a question, and then on Saturday she started moving her head.
Progress is slow, but we are optimistic. And today is the first day we didn't get any bad news when we arrived at the hospital. In fact, the doctor told us things are going as well as he could have hoped. Improvement is going to be slow, but it is happening and there really isn't any reason we can currently see, that she can't be completely healed.
Thanks again to everyone for your prayers, love and concern. It means so much to me. I thought I was holding it all together well, but today at church one of my mother's neighbors told me there wasn't a moment of the day when she wasn't praying for my mother. When she told me that I broke down and cried. I know that your prayers are not only helping my mother heal, but have been sustaining me as well and I am so grateful for it.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I was so happy to be able to attend the sealing, but what brought even greater joy was to look around the sealing room and see five of my former students there. Besides Ciara, there was her older brother Jordan and three of Ciara's good friends. I was talking to the friends after the sealing and one of them, Natalie, said to me, "Isn't it so wonderful to all be here together in the temple?" It was. So much so that when I saw them all there it made me cry. What a wonderful sweet blessing that was.
In the afternoon, I was able to help set up for the reception. This brought such deep feelings of gratitude to me for the women in my ward. We joked that it was a "United Order" reception, in that many people brought the decorations they had, and all together it was absolutely beautiful. There were so many wonderful women, willing to dedicate their time, money, and resources to make the reception a success. I was so touched by all their selfless service.
And then in the evening we received a tremendous miracle. The weather report called for rain beginning around 6 p.m. and the reception began at 6:30. Everyone involved had prayed during the week that the rain would not come during the reception--as it was being held out doors. Michelle (Ciara's mother) told us she explained in her prayer that she didn't mind cleaning up in the rain, but asked that it not rain during the reception.
The reception ended at 8:30 and at about 8:20 we started feeling little sprinkles. By 8:30 it was a downpour. The next hour of cleanup was wet and cold, but there wasn't anyone there who did not appreciate the miracle that had occurred, especially when we heard that around 7:30 it was pouring rain only a half mile from where we were. What a sweet blessing that was and what a wonderful day I had.
Lastly--as long as I am writing about blessings, I want to add one my father received. While on his mission in Argentina nearly 60 years ago, he tracted out a home where he left a pamphlet with the teen aged daughter who lived there. He then was transferred and never knew what happened with the family. Several years ago, while teaching at BYU, he met an MBA student from Argentina who told him his mother was the girl he left the pamphlet with. She joined the church, married and raised her family in the gospel. Well, a couple weeks ago, my father read in the Church News that this same young man was just called to be a mission president.
So you never know what influence you might have on others. Leaving that pamphlet that day was such a simple thing, that did not appear to bear fruit, and yet, sixty years later, people are still being blessed because of it---and will continue to do so.
And there you have my day yesterday, and the many blessings that brought great . . . joy to my journey.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Dominating the landscape is Pike's Peak, named for the explorer Zebulon Pike. It is located 10 miles to the west of Colorado Springs and is one of 54 mountains in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet high (called "fourteeners").
Although this mountain is not as dominant, it is still very interesting to me. (Sorry the picture isn't better we took it quickly on our way out of town). The left side of this mountain is Cheyenne Mountain where NORAD is located. Here they "collect data from a worldwide system of satellites, radars, and other sensors and process that information in real time. Operations are conducted around the year in the Air Warning Center, Missile Correlation Center, Operational Intelligence Watch, Systems Center, Weather Center, and the Command Center" (that was taken from Wikipedia)
We all enjoyed this formation. I don't know the name of it (perhaps someone from Colorado can enlighten?) but here is the back of it.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
And although she was very nice, she also thoroughly, completely and totally intimidated me, because I felt thoroughly, completely and totally imperfect in comparison. Every insecurity I had about being a Mormon woman, every weakness and failure I possessed, were magnified when I was near her.
I grew up on the Wasatch Front in the days when young women were expected to sew, garden and know how to bottle fruit before they left home at 18. And although my mother is an amazing gardener, seamstress and can bottle anything, I never learned the necessities of Mormon womanhood. (I did take home economics in junior high but got a D when I didn’t put my pattern properly on the material and my shirt came out with little people sideways on it. )
And I felt guilty about it, so much so, that I enrolled in sewing classes as an adult. And I learned—to a degree. I learned to make Halloween costumes, some curtains and a few outfits for my three-year-old. (No one older than three would wear what I made). I also learned how to bottle fruit and even meat. For many years I tried my best to become what I thought the perfect Mormon woman should be.
I wanted to be Leonore.
Then I read a talk by Patricia Holland where she said she didn’t like to sew. She learned (because she too felt it was expected) but did not like it. That was a turning point in my life. For the first time, I felt free to admit I did not like sewing. After all, if Patricia Holland, the wife of an apostle didn’t like it, it wasn’t necessary for me to like it either.
Since then I have also come to realize that what makes the perfect Mormon woman has nothing to do with her talents and abilities, or her likes and dislikes. What is important however, is how she values and keeps her covenants. But even then, we are all on different places on the road to perfection. In our day of economic trials, knowing how to sew, bottle fruit and garden are all good things, and they along with all other good talents and skills should be cultivated. But they do not define Mormon womanhood.
One Sunday, while sitting in Relief Society, I glanced around the room. There were several single sisters who have been married and suffered through divorces, others have never been married. There was a sister battling cancer, others struggling with wayward children. Some were converts to the church, others born into families with pioneer ancestry. Some battle depression, some work full time, some stay at home. Some possessed the wisdom of age, and others were too young to realize they didn’t know everything. We had a Hispanic sister, a black sister and a sister from Finland. Each was very different. And each in some way had blessed my life.
And as we raised our voices together in song, I felt the spirit wash over me, and with it came a deep sense of love and appreciation for each sister in the room. I was so grateful the gospel tent has expanded to include every woman, from every background, from every country, with every weakness and with every talent. For just as our voices united in song, so did our hearts unite in love one for another and for the Savior. We had come together that day to honor our covenants. We had partaken of the sacrament and we were all trying to do our best to keep that covenant, and we were helping each other along the way.
We are different, but we are the same. And together we define the Mormon Woman.