Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Best Christmas Present Ever

I'm going to tell you a story. It's a Christmas story.
My Christmas story.

Four months ago, Mountain Man walked away from his dream job.
To use the words of one person who works at his former company, "The way he was treated was hideous."
It was a shock.

For the next two weeks, we walked around in a kind of stupor. We would look at each other and say, "What is going on?"
 Our plan for life was completely turned on it's head. And to be honest, we both felt betrayed, lied to, and just down right angry.

This tiny town isn't a place with a lot of opportunity. So right off the bat, we'd knew we'd have to move for Mountain Man's career, and because I can do whatever I do, where ever I am, I was o.k. with that.
I felt rage at the employer who was bringing such heartache to Mountain Man, and my kids who would be ripped from their routines, schools, and friends.

I was just mad, and sad, and then mad some more.

The weeks passed and we were jobless, down, out and a little depressed. Neither of us could see the path that we felt sure was before us.
We just knew there was one.

So what do you do when everything goes wrong?

Some people drink. Some people shoot other people. Some people pray.
I prayed.
We both did. Our friends, family and we even heard that some strangers prayed for us.

I felt their love....and this love gave me hope which swallowed up my anger, dissapointment and sorrow.

So we put our beloved, (and now fully restored) home up for sale, which broke my heart, and tried to move forward. Mountain Man put out a dozen CV's. We talked to the kids.
We cried.
They cried.
We prayed some more.

And then, like a good stew, after we put all of our wishes, desires, prayers, anger, frustration and everything else we were feeling into the pot, it all came to a rolling boil last week.

Last Wednesday, we sold our house.
Thursday, Mountain Man got a smokin' job offer beyond our wildest imaginings.
Saturday, we found a new house located in a great school district.
And the best part?
We have friends already living in the area who are like family.

The Lord is giving us safe landing once again.
Because oftentimes, I get all riled up and anxious on the journey. When I do, if I remember to take a deep breath, I feel my Father's gentle hand upon my shoulder and a quiet whisper that says, "It's all going to be alright."

Because, "He will give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." (Isaiah 61:3)

I don't have the proper words to describe my gratitude, but we are grateful and humbled beyond measure that He sees us out of the corner of his eye.

It was the best Christmas present ever.


"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you." ~Lao Tzu

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ” 
~Pema Chödrön

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Happy Christmas Kwanzaa Boxing Day

From our Square Toothed/Mountain Man clan to yours:
Merry Christmas!
(And Kwanzaa & Boxing Day and Feast of Epiphany, just in case we don't talk until then...)
Yes, this is an old picture.
I'm was too lazy and un-organzied to take a new one or send out holiday cards.
...and I'm O.K. with that.
To view a current picture and to see how much our kids have grown, squint your eyes and shake your head.
And yes, since you asked, Mountain Man and I still look that young.
That's right, we have magical powers.
Now, go drink some eggnog.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just In Case

The world didn't end today, which, quite frankly, I TOTALLY saw coming. There's too much good happening in the world, or maybe there's not enough, or maybe I just didn't get a chance to pick up my dry cleaning and I've long since believed that in one way or another, it will be on dry cleaning that the fate of the world will hang.

But just in case the world DID end today, I took some precautions:

I ate a donut for breakfast--because if today was the day, then I wanted to be filled with as much, fat, sugar and processed goo as possible so that the zombies would eat me first. Because I don't want to be around for that crazy. Eat my brains, zombies, and get it over with.

I left my bed unmade. I know there's a whole subset of humans that never make their bed, but I was hardwired (probably in the crib) to climb out of bed and IMMEDIATELY make it upon pain of shame and guilt from my mother, grandmother and every hotel maid on planet earth. However, today, I threw caution to the wind and let the tumble of sheets remain as is for the day. Take that, bed.

I didn't wash my hair. I've been growing out my hair and it's really becoming a pain to dry and style. So today, I just didn't wash it. I woke up and went to work. I look like a scary troll doll now, but if today was the last day, no one but the undead would be noticing my hair anyway...and they would just bite through it to my braaaaaaaaaaains anyway.

I was a kind and courteous driver.
No, really. I was.

Shut up, and stop laughing.

I fulfilled a bet that's been hanging over my head for a while. A couple of years ago my brother and I made a bet and I lost. I was supposed to take him out to lunch at Bajios. But before I could, it closed. So today, I found a Bajios in Portland and I went to lunch. The catch was, he was in Maryland, not Portland, but both the state of Maryland and the city of Portland end with the word "land" and that's good enough for me.
I can't help it if he didn't show up.

I sent him a picture though.

Debt fulfilled.

What did you do to prepare for the end of the world, just in case?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When Zombies Attack

Tis the season for peace on earth!

But apparently, not everyone's got the memo.

Take Monday night. I was standing in line at a Christmas concert when a woman (who was most likely a zombie) began yelling me, accusing me of cutting in line.

Firstly, it was a Christmas concert--peace on earth, o holy night, away in a manger, good will toward men...
Secondly, I had been standing in another line outside for an hour (with 200 other people) that wrapped half way around the block.
Thirdly, there were two lines but the yell-er hadn't realized this.
Fourth, she was probably having a bad day, because heaven knows if I got turned into a zombie right before the holidays, I'd be mad at the world too. But I can't help but wonder what it was about me that seemed to charge her so much that she just HAD to yell at ME.

Was it because she intuitively knew that I am a zombie slayer?


She yelled and yelled and carried on and on about "Cutting in line! The back of the line is back there! You just walked right in off the street blah blah blah blah blah...!"

Her behavior was appalling and rather un-Christmas-like, which is why I'm convinced she was infected even though she was quite eloquent for a zombie.

I felt I had two choices--o.k. there were probably more--but the two that came to mind were: run away, and slice her with a machete.

Neither seemed quite appropriate because I wasn't carrying a machete (I know, I know, how could I be so ill prepared?) And I didn't want to run away because I had just spent a half an hour standing in line...outside...in the cold. Also, I really REALLY don't like the slice-y part of zombie slaying which is why I try to only slay zombies with kindness instead.

Then a third option came to mind

I signed a clear and calm response to Mountain Man in American Sign Language.

And the zombie's face fell.

And Mountain Man translated my signing to her. But even he-of-the-calm-and-graceful-disposition felt put on the defensive because he translated my response to her into French.

"Je suis desole, elle est sourde. Joyeux Noel."
I'm sorry, she's deaf. Merry Christmas.

Zombie down.

How do you avoid confrontation with zombies? What do you do when strangers yell at you?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On Receiving

Receiving is an art.  I've only met a few women in my life who do it really well.

A few years ago, I was standing in line in a grocery store and in front of me was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  She was in her mid-fifties, had beautiful white hair, and lots of laugh lines.  She radiated a sense of calm and peace.  As often is my case, I started speaking before thinking and I said, "Ma'am, I have to tell you, you are so beautiful!"

She turned to me and said, "Oh my goodness, no I'm not."

On the other hand, I have a friend who is just as beautiful in every way and when you pay her a compliment, she kindly says, "Thank you so much!!  You just made my day!!"

She has mastered the art of receiving--receiving a compliment sure, but whether it is a compliment or something bigger, it doesn't matter because the principle is the same: She knows how to receive.

Receiving is about having an open heart--open enough to allow others to help, comfort, care and love.  Receiving is about believing that you are worthy to be the recipient of another's kindness, another's love and another's care.

Receiving is the most graceful act we can learn in this life.  Being a fellow human being is no small thing, and each of us have the privilege to give, and to receive, the loving kindness of others during our sojourn here on earth.

You may be asking yourself,  "How can I receive?"
I say, start small.  If someone pays you a compliment, simply say, "Thank you." If your neighbor brings you dinner out of the blue say, "Thank you."  If someone cashes in their winning lottery ticket and gives you half, say, "Thank you."  (And then buy them a Rolls Royce.)

If at first you don't feel worthy to receive the gift they've given you, that's o.k.--but try to make a little room for that gift to grow in your heart.  Try to believe.

Then, and only then, can you receive.

Are you a gracious receiver?  Giver?  Which is more difficult for you?


Also, here's a beautiful talk by a man names Dieter F. Uchtdorf...if you get a chance to watch it, it is a real treat--he talks about what it means to receive at this special time of year.
Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cannibalism, an Editorial

As promised, today's post is by a very talented writer, my daughter, Straight Face. The following is her submission to her school newspaper of which she is Co-editor in Chief. 
I hope you enjoy!

Cannibalism: An editorial* 

Anthropophagy, or more commonly known as cannibalism, has been rampant for centuries.  Even today some cultures such as the Korowai and Melanesian tribes practice cannibalism. While a majority of people frown upon cannibalism they are only reflecting upon one aspect of this controversial issue. They see is as a heinous act, the desecration of a body. Though  a thorough analysis of cannibalism will prove that it is a viable alternative to traditional food.

As I was discussing the topic of my editorial with my parents they brought up the point that cannibalism is an excellent way to rid yourselves of unruly children. Some parents have been known to keep a continuous fire burning in case any children need to be skewered and roasted. Who knows? At one point I may have had an older sibling.

The population of Earth has grown vastly within the past century and continues to grow at a whopping 80 million people each year. We are similar to bunnies in that respect. Eventually we will have to move to another planet or take a less evolved course of action. Cannibalism, people. It’s the next frontier.

Approximately 56 million people die annually. The average dimensions of a grave are 8 feet by 4 feet and up to 12 feet in depth. To bury 56 million people requires a vast amount of space that is not always available.   Additionally, the cost of burying a dear one ranges between $20,000 and $100,000. This includes but is not limited to; purchasing the plot, casket, the mortician and the embalming process. Cannibalism decreases these costs drastically. If you plan to serve them up as a tasty entree, the only expense incurred are the seasonings you plan to use to flavor your deceased loved one. And maybe the gas to cook them… though I suppose you could consume them raw.

Some people may find the idea of eating a person quite perturbing. For those who are squeamish they should consider using the bodies as fertilizer on farms. This would provide bountiful harvests while sparing the stomachs of those who are morally discomforted by this proposal.

To eat or not to eat, that is the question.

* Disclaimer: I have no intention of consuming a human being anytime in the near or distant future. 

Question: How did you liven up your homework assignments when you were in school?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Like A Boss

Do you ever just do something "like a boss"?

Whether it's decorate your house for Christmas, make a meal, complete a project at work, etc. doing in "like a boss" feels awesome.

I had one of those days today. Everything I did, I did it "like a boss." Which is strange because the majority of my focus is usually spent on not falling down.

So, I'm celebrating.
Here's a taste of what I smacked out (like a boss) today:

I made a fire--like a boss.
I woke up--like a boss.
I read the Bible (not the whole thing, which would have been waaaaaaaay more "boss-like" quite frankly, but I won't discount the few verses I did read)--like a boss.
I got dressed--like a boss.
I drove--like a boss. (You should be careful of doing this one unless your brother-in-law is a police officer and can get you out of tickets.)
I talked to my mom--like a boss. (Which, incidentally, didn't go over too well.)
I cleaned the house--like a boss.
I cleaned out the garage--like a boss. (And then I thought--who exactly is the boss here? And why don't they clean out their junk more often?)
I re-opened every box we packed to put our house on the market trying to find my Christmas piano music--like a boss.... except I completed this task quite literally like a boss, because I stood there holding packing tape while Mountain Man actually opened every box and I took credit it for it.

That counts, right?

What did you do today--like a boss??

Tomorrow I will have a special guest blogger, my 14 year-old daughter, Straight Face, who has recently written a piece for her school newspaper called, "Cannibalism. An Editorial." 
I hope you swing by to get a sneak peek before it's published! And yes, it's REALLY about cannibalism...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December and Time To Deck the Halls!

Happy Christmas Season to you--as well as Hanukkah which begins on Saturday!
Here's a little something to get yourself in the merry making mood:

Hope you enjoy!

What's your favorite holiday song?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Happens If You Try To Run Over Me In Your Big Man Truck

I really REALLY love the Christmas season. I love autumn as well, but I've never been sad to see November fade away into the twinkling lights of December. It's like the very air changes. People are a little softer with each other.

Except for yesterday.
Yesterday, I was walking downtown when this driver in a HUGE truck and trailer parked his massive machine smack dab in the middle of a crosswalk just as I was about to step off the curb.

I stopped just to make sure he wasn't planning on running over me while I was trying to cross. As I walked past him, I kind of shrugged my shoulders as if to say, "What gives, dude? You're in the middle of the cross walk."

Mountain Man and I continued on our merry way when the driver rolled down his window and yelled, "Well, you shouldn't have been walking in the street!!"

Really, dude?
Clearly, this driver was uneducated in the way of crosswalks.

So I took it upon myself to educate him.
And to be fair, there were many ways I could have gone about this.  

  • I could have just refrained--said nothing, just smiled and made my way along to my destination. 
  • I could have even given him an apologetic shrug as is to say, "Oh well, I'm choosing to not engage with your brand of crazy-town."
  • I could have even turned around and just given him one of those death-stares that I inherited from my parents that says, "Shut. It. Now." without ever uttering a word. 
  • Using an even and rational tone, I could have explained the purpose of crosswalks and how to properly respect the boundaries of pedestrians.

But did I do this, friends?
Did I?

Hell. No.

I failed.


I turned right around in the middle of the block and using the breadth and depth of my vocal training and my genetics (loud and Greek) I let him have it.

Yes I did.

When I was done, he kind of looked at me all bewildered and then just drove away.
I don't think he's ever had a "lady" rip him a new one like I did.

But what can I say?
It was still November.

When have you failed miserably at interacting with fellow humans?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Days 29 & 30 of Giving Thanks, or, Why I'm Grateful for Fire

I'm writing this post while sitting next to a fire. Not a house fire--but a fire in the house.
I looooooves me some fire.

I grew up in a house with a wood burning fireplace. Our job was to keep that puppy burning as hot as possible to heat the entire house. It may sound like I lived in a one room cabin, but I actually lived in a lovely suburban home, but my dad was a furnace Nazi.

Furnace Nazi?
YES. Furnace Nazi: a person who would not turn up the heat until actual icicles formed on your nose and eyelashes indoors.

Fortunately, I grew up feeling free to turn up the furnace as high as I want.
Unfortunately for my family, that's a balmy 63 degrees during the Winter months.

For this reason, I love our wood buring stove. I know, I know, I'm totally contributing to climate change, pollution, obesity in whales, and the extinction of the dandelion. But there's nothing I love more than the crackle and pop of a freshly started fire.

When the fire is lit, we all come from the corners of the house and gather together--it's probably just so we can combine our body heat to stave off the frost bite, but there's nothing that brings us together faster than a fire.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28 of Giving Thanks, or, Why I'm Grateful For Mountain Man, Even Though He Hates Soup

There is a serious division in the Square Toothed/Mountain Man household. It is a matter of the utmost importance and effects the fate of all mankind--at least in this house.

The subject of which I speak is soup.

My feelings for soup cannot be properly put into words. My adoration of the steaming, one-pot-wonder we call soup cannot be properly described.

Mountain Man feels quite differently.
He doesn't like soup.
This information came as a quite a surprise after fifteen years of marriage.

My response when he told me was something akin to, "You're dead to me."

More accommodating wives may have said, "Oh, no problem, we won't eat soup anymore."

Not me.

In fact, since he told me, we've eaten more soup than ever before.

Now, before you think this is some kind of passive-aggressive ploy on my part, let me assure you--it's not.
You see, if there's a character trait I possess in spades, it's determination. In fact, I'm pretty sure I would have made a successful spy. I could have turned all the other spies to work for my government. I can be pretty convincing.

Just ask my childhood friend, Diane, who didn't think it would be a good idea to call up the boy she liked and ask him to the next school dance.
I talked her into it.
And now they're married...
...of course, a lot happened in between the dance and the wedding, but like any good friend, I take complete and total credit for it.

I just can't quite shake the idea that if I make a different soup every night and use my convincing charisma, that Mountain Man might look at me on evening and say, "WOW! I had NO idea soup was so amazing!!"

I mean, after all, it's soup.
Soup is versatile and can be served hot or cold, it can be made quickly or can sit around in a crock pot all day. It's cheap, easy and efficient. Soup can be made with just about anything and it goes great with my other favorite food: crackers.
Simply put: Soup is a wonder food.

So, who in their right mind doesn't like soup???

...Well... Mountain Man, I guess.

But the problem lies in the fact that I equate soup haters with clowns, Darth Vadar, stalkers and mimes. Oh, and zombies--don't forget the zombies.

So what to do when you find yourself married to the enemy?

I haven't quite figured that part out yet.
But there's one thing I know for sure: I'm grateful for Mountain Man. He eats every bowl of soup I give him.

It was potato tonight.  

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Catching Up on Giving Thanks Because I Was Distracted By Pie

I've got to do a catch up. I vowed to do thirty days of giving thanks each day during November and of course (I was thankful in my heart) but...I was distracted by the pie.

There was an abundance of pie and an available fork, so I took it upon myself save the pie from lonliness, and friend, I succeeded.  

So, after some Pepto and a nap, here are days 21 through 27:

Wednesday, the 21st: We stuck it to the man, and all skipped school. I'm grateful for having a "Man" to stick it to, that my kids attend fabulous schools--even if we skip them from time to time.

Thursday, the 22nd: Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Although Black Friday bleed seems to be creeping in, it is still just a day of thanks...mostly. I'm grateful we have at least ONE day devoted to thankfulness.

Friday, the 23rd: Mountain Man and I ran to Portland for a quick jaunt to look at a potential future house. (It was love at first sight.) I'm grateful for shelter.

Saturday, the 24th: Home again, and after a lifetime of cars that break down everytime I attempted to start them, I'm grateful for a running and reliable vehicle.

Sunday, the 25th: Running water. It's always a bit squished trying to navigate four people in one bathroom before church on Sunday morning, but I am extremely grateful for running water in my home. This is a privilege a great majority of people do not get to enjoy on planet earth. I am humbled each time I turn on the tap and take a drink of clean water.

Monday, the 26th: We put up our Christmas tree and officially "began" the holiday season. As I pulled out each ornament, memories filled my mind. I'm grateful for memories, friendships, stories, time, friends and family. They make life worth living.

Today (Tuesday) the 27th: I raked up the last leaves from our ginormous maple tree. I love that tree. It blesses us with shade in the Summer, beauty and blossoms in the Spring and my most favorite smell on earth.
For a few short weeks as the maple blossoms bloom in March, maple trees give off this smell that reminds me of Montreal. It's truly lovely, and I look forward to it each year. I'm grateful for the leaves this lovely living organism sheds so that we can work together as a family to rake them up and have a little fun in the process. It's been a pleasure and privilege living under it's grace.

What are you grateful for today? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 20 of Giving Thanks, or, The Fancy Hatted Baptist

Thanksgiving break is upon us, well, almost upon us--we are skipping school tomorrow because (to be honest) it's just dumb that my kids have to attend school for just a half day, so I'm protesting this stupidity by not sending them.

Take that, Man. (As in, THE Man.)

With Thanksgiving, comes family--the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane, the loving, the kind, the enjoyable-- and often, family are all of these adjectives rolled into one with a side dish of coo-coo-kachoo.

We haven't lived near family in a very long time and we stopped traveling on Thanksgiving quite a few years ago because we wanted to start our own tradition...annnnnnd...we're lazy. This was about the time that I also decided that Thanksgiving dinner only tasted good if my own mother made it, and to eat a Thanksgiving meal prepared by anyone else (including me) was just a waste of calories so we started eating Thai on that blessed day instead.

Over the years, this hasn't caused too much trouble. In fact, it saves a lot of time and hassle. The one draw back with not traveling on Thanksgiving is that we do miss our family. This year, however, our dear dear daughter (not by birth, but certainly in spirit), The Fancy Hatted Baptist, is coming home from college to spend the week with us and her other friends who live in town (...but mostly with us.)

And yes, I really do call her "The Fancy Hatted Baptist" because she is fancy, and frequently rocks a hat.
She is also a Baptist...but just in her heart.

Our "adopted" daughter's marvelous family moved to Missouri last year and  instead of making the trip from Utah to Missouri for the short holiday, she's headed our way instead.

We're looking forward to having her home and I'm so grateful for her and her darling parents who are sharing her with us this week!

It's a blessing to be with family.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Days 15 & 16, or, I Get Why Eve Ate the Apple

This afternoon, I came home to this:

Two delectable and delicious, caramel apples...

I promptly ate one...and I enjoyed every sugary-coated moment. 

I enjoyed it even more because it was from a friend.
Kindness rocks. Kindness rocks my heart and soul and brings me to tears quite often these days.
And when kindness comes knocking with caramel apples, it's doubly good. 

And it makes me think...
...I get why Eve caved. 

What are you grateful for today? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13 of Giving Thanks, or, Why I'm Grateful for Uncertainty & Change

Uncertainty kinda sucks.

It's like standing on a precipice with the wind howling all around and nothing to hold onto.
To put it simply, it's terrifying.

On the other hand, this season of uncertainty has taught me an important lesson:
To enjoy the moment.

This season of uncertainty and change has gifted me with keener sight.
Not knowing how long we will be in this small town, I seem to be drinking in the the glorious golds, reds and oranges of the season. I find myself stopping several times a day to just breathe them in.

This season of uncertainty and change has gifted me with deeper appreciation for the man I've chosen to spend my life with with.
I knew he was cool before, but now? Now I stand in awe of his integrity, kindness, humor, and love a little more steadfastly. We are like two trees, standing side by side, our roots sunk deep into the soil of the life we've chosen together.

This season of uncertainty and change has granted me a season of rest. Our lives feel like they've taken a full stop--something I've been referring to as "Mid-Life Retirement". It's been two months of waking up to a husband that was kind of a ghost in our house, with all the hours he worked. This time together has changed the idea of what we want our family to look like. Our conversation is no longer, "What's your dream job?" but, "What's your dream life?"
I fully realize not everyone can ask themselves that question, and I have no idea why we are able to, but it's a gift.

Most importantly, this season of uncertainty and change has made me realize just how unique, magnificent, painful, beautiful and transitory life actually is.
LIVING is change. LIFE is uncertain.
Agnes de Mille said it best:
"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."
For me, life seems kind of dark right now, I just can't quite see the path even though I know it's there.
But I'm willing to leap...

...so here we go.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12 of Giving Thanks, or, Spending Time With Straight Face

My daughter, Straight Face, is 14. Well...almost 14. (We've been instructed to "round up" since her half birthday in July.)

Due to the Veteran's Day holiday, Straight Face and I fled for the "big city" an hour away for some much needed girl time.

And this is what I learned (again) being with her:

She is hilarious.
She is kind.
She's as smart as all get out.
She works hard.
She is generous.
She's a million other facets of joy in human form.

I am grateful for this beautiful creature who gives love at every turn and is growing up right before my eyes.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Days 9, 10 & 11 of Thirty Days of Thanks, or, Snapshot Sunday

This has been a crazy busy week, and to be honest, I've been all riled up inside. There have been a couple of days of fist shaking at the sky. Whenever change rears it's head, I tend to shake my fists. I also frequently forget to breathe and yell at other drivers, even if they're not doing anything wrong.
This week has felt like a step back in our recent journey. Things just seem to be getting more confusing.

However, I'm still grateful for this beautiful time of year and the gifts of color and cold, and fire (in the fireplace) and friends.

Here's a few pictures of my gratitude:

What are you grateful for this beautiful Sunday evening?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Days 7 & 8, or, Why I'm Grateful For My Feet

I missed yesterday of my Thirty Days of Giving Thanks--I was apart of a lovely event celebrating the grand opening of our new studio space with Carnegie Picture Lab. I've written about Carnegie here.

Anyway, over the last few days I've been busy with decorating, cleaning, greeting, and talking to people about teaching kids art and I've been on my feet a lot.

Tonight, they hurt.
However, it got me thinking about my feet. You know, I'm not very considerate of my feet. I hardly think about them at all. It's only when they hurt (which really isn't very often) and that's just really inconsiderate.
I'm mean, they're my feet.

So I've been thinking about these wonderful appendages today because they've been screaming at me to get off of them which got me thinking about why I'm grateful for them.

Here are the top seven reasons I'm grateful for my feet:

1. My feet take me from place to place--like from my bed to the refrigerator, then back again.

2. My feet are actually quite attractive. And I fully realize not everyone can say that. I think I could have had a successful career as a foot model. Of course, on some level I also believe that I could win Jeopardy even though I don't know that much trivia, but I'm sure that charisma alone could carry me through.
3. My feet are big. Not like Hobbit big, but just regular big. Sturdy. Steadfast. Solid. They keep me upright...most of the time.

4. My feet are strong. Or rather, my toes are. They can pick up pencils, Legos, un-shelled peas and even m&m's. (But just for the record, I don't eat anything I pick up with my feet...or anyone else's.)

5. My feet don't smell. At least I think they don't. They're kind of far away because I'm tall so I might just be making that one up.

6. My feet can walk, jump, bounce, kick and generally just take a beating. Of course, my legs can too so that's pretty cool but I'm trying to focus here, so you get the point. I'm especially grateful for this fact because when the zombie apocalypse finally begins, my feet will carry me far away from those freaks.

7. My feet don't really hurt that often. Maybe that's because I've been riding my pet reindeer around a lot in preparation for Christmas, or maybe it's because they're just good feet. Either way, I'm grateful for my feet, and my reindeer.

So, that's it. My feet rock and I'm grateful for them.

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6 of Giving Thanks, or, How I Stayed Sane During Election Season

I have a secret.

This secret has saved my fragile sanity during this election season, and I am truly grateful for it.

I haven't heard or seen a single political ad.
Not a SINGLE one.


The secret to my inner peace and maintenance of my fragile sense of sanity?

I turned off the television...and the radio.
I didn't watch a single debate...well, not by choice anyway. My daughter had to watch one for school, so I yelled at the screen for about fifteen minutes and did a fair amount of eye rolling and then walked out of the room.

In walking away, I got my power back.

I am filled with gratitude for the process of election in this country. I'm grateful to be able to be apart of it, to vote, to make my voice count.

But mostly, I'm grateful for the written word, for print media, which can be read
...out loud...while doing an impression of Sean Connery.

See? Fragile sanity.

To my U.S. readers, Happy Election Day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5 of Giving Thanks, or, Treasure Each Other

Unemployment is TOTALLY agreeing with the Square Toothed/Mountain Man clan. Of course there's that pesky little detail of income, but because we haven't seen much of the big guy in five years, this time off feels like a sabbatical--or maybe just a really long vacation. Either way, there's a lot about having Mountain Man home all the time that I love.

Take this morning, we went for a run and as we were running in a nearby park, a woman I see almost everyday (but usually alone) stopped us. I don't even know her name, but we have a relationship nonetheless. We exchange a little "good day to you" every time we pass one another in the park.

Today, our exchange was completely different.

As we drew closer along the sidewalk, her face registered surprise at the tall man running next to me.
As we neared her we both stopped to say hello. Without preamble, she touched my arm and Mountain Man's chest and said, "Treasure each other. Treasure each other every, single day. My sweetheart is in a home suffering from Alzheimer's."
"Treasure each other," she said one last time and turned and walked away.

Mountain Man and I kind of stood there in solemn silence for a moment.

As we began walking, no longer running, we took one another's hands, treasuring the moment; treasuring each other.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4 of thanks, or, Why I Don't Punch Babies

Sometimes I ditch church.

Seriously. Sometimes I just can't sit there any longer and flee for the hills.

Sometimes I don't.

Sometimes the holy spirit moves in me while sitting in those cramped little hobbit pews and I'm all, "Praise the Lord!" at least in my mind--because Mormons (in general) worship kind of quietly.

Sometimes I text my friends.
Sometimes I listen.
Sometimes I zone out and forget what the speaker just said and look over at Mountain Man who has faithfully set aside one hour a week (at church) for his Sunday nap and I think, "Rest on, Mountain Man. Rest on."

Other times, I look at his head nodding in his fitful sacrament meeting nappage and I flick the tip of his nose to get him to wake up.

Never once do I leave him alone.

Other times, I feel this overwhelming love for everyone in that place...and just to be perfectly honest...sometimes I could punch the nearest baby.

...O.k., I'd never REALLY punch a baby.

The point is, I'm trying to figure "it" all out.
"It" being spirituality, religion, tradition, culture, joy, peace, love unfeigned...you get the idea.

I'm not there yet...and I may never be.
But I will cast my net as wide and as far as possible and gather in as much light and truth as I can. From the cathedral at Chartres, to the Mountains of Montana, from Jesus to Buddah and everything in between, there's a lot of joy, beauty and truth to behold.

So today, I'm grateful for the joy in Jesus. I'm grateful for the life of the person we call Buddah. I'm grateful for the words of the Koran and the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te-Ching and every holy book.
I'm grateful for the questions, and the answers, and especially for that quiet and still voice that whispers, "Calm down ladyface, don't punch that baby."

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day 3

Day three of my Thirty Days of Thanks dawned earlier than usual in the Square Toothed/Mountain Man Clan. So early, in fact, that at 9 a.m., we found ourselves eagerly greeting out first house looker of the day.

Selling a house is kind of a big pain, but having your house for sale also has some unexpected benefits.
Some of them are:

Clean house. Cinnamon Pine Cones. Autumn Colors.

Clean house. I'm a pretty tidy housekeeper, borderline neurotic some would say, so having to keep things picked up for potential buyers hasn't been that bad. This morning was especially stellar. Everyone was dressed and things were clean by 9 a.m.

Cinnamon Pine Cones. Every time (and I mean EVERY TIME) I walk into my house I say, "This house smells weird." I have no idea if it really smells weird or not, since I can't smell what our house smells like--what's up with that, by the way? Why don't our noses register what our own living spaces smell like? I'm always worried that it smells like mold, or stinky feet, or Ben-Gay. (What? My knee hurts sometimes.)

Anyway, today, there is no weird smell because Mountain Man came home with cinnamon pine cones...No more Ben-Gay.

Autumn Colors. O.k., the autumn colors don't have much to do with selling a house, but they were the frosting on the day. Take a look:

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day Two

So the problem with Thirty Days of Thanks is that it's probably going to get old reading it everyday for a month. Fortunately, most of my friends of Facebook have gummed up the news feed with irate political posts, or pictures of cats doing household chores, so I don't feel so bad about gumming up the news feed with a little gratitude.

Day two of gratitude:

Sunshine. It was 65 and sunny today in Smallville. I took full advantage and I was able to take a few moments on a morning walk and breathe in the sunshine. Leaves were falling. There was a squirrel. It didn't bite my face off. All was right with the world.

Straight Face Wears Doc Martens. You know those really trendy new moms who dress their babies in, well... whatever-the-heck-is-trendy-right-now-and-outrageously-expensive? When Straight Face was a teeny-tiny, I always wanted to put her in a pair of baby Doc Martens, but I could never justify spending that much on a pair of shoes she would outgrow in 3.5 seconds. So I've been waiting for fourteen years for my "baby" to fit into a pair of Docs that I wouldn't cringe at purchasing.
Today, she wore mine to school. Not only was she ever-so-stylish, but they were free!

Silence. Sometimes the only way to prioritize is to find your own silence. Today was that day for me.

What are you grateful for today? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thirty Days of Thanks

Here's the deal: I am an UNDERACHIEVER...and I'm totally o.k. with it. This month is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I was going to get involved, and then I looked at the house I have to pack up and the imminent zombie attack that's about to break out and I was all, "Nahhhhhh."

Instead, I'm committing myself to something a lot easier, because...have I mentioned that I'm an underachiever? This month will be my Thirty Days of Thanks, because if there's one thing I know, it's this: If you think your life sucks, or if you having some struggles, show some gratitude and go help an old lady cross the street or something. You'll feel a lot better about your lot in life, and nine times out of ten, the old lady will give you one of those fruity hard candies that  old ladies like to carry around in their purses.

Without further ado, day one of Thirty Days of Thanks:

Sneaky Hugs. On my morning walk that I ran smack dab into my son outside of his school. I sneaked in a big hug before his friends came around the corner.
Double Rainbow and a knock at the door. A dear friend was driving by and stopped to knock on the door and made sure that I saw the double rainbow in the sky.
Bully at school. A bully at school said something mean to one of the other children, and it made me feel not quite as guilty about writing that "frank, open, and honest" email to his dad last week.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bring it on, Zombie Freaks!

As many of you know, I've been waiting for the zombie apocalypse to begin for some time now. Mountain Man has the required amount of guns, ammo and a prime spot all picked out from which to shoot the zombies should they attack.

Of course, I don't exactly know HOW many guns or how MUCH ammo that would be, but apparently, it's enough to take out the majority of the population of this small town if everyone turns into a zombie during the night, (except us) like I'm fully expecting them too.

I've done my due diligence too and stocked up on Diet Coke and organic-slave free chocolate to eat while we wait out the storm. The kids have been practicing their bike jousting (riding a bike while holding a spear to impale zombies on) and they feel adequately prepared should the unthinkable occur.

I, for one, think the Zombie Apocalypse has already begun. But before you start laughing and delete me from your blogroll, think about this: If this current election season has taught us anything, it's that zombies run the world, or are trying to. Zombies also run all forms of media, own McDonald's (ever eaten a chicken nugget? Braaaaaaaaains, friend, braaaaaaaains--) and are the freaks who charge so stinking much for an herbal tea at Starbucks.

I also believe there are a couple of zombie teachers at my kid's schools, and I'm pretty sure that Mountain Man's former employer was one as well.

Maybe it's just Halloween, and I'm feeling all spoooooooooooooky, but look around, you might see a couple in your neighborhood too.

So bring it on, zombie freaks!!!
And ...
Happy Halloween!

I find it best to be dressed in costume while fighting zombies...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Joyful Bloom Out of Uncertainty

Life is just a series of uncertain events. Some are unfortunate, some are joyful.

Six weeks ago, Mountain Man walked away from his dream job.
In this economy some would call him crazy.

I didn't.

We thought we'd be here until he retired in oh...about eighty-seven-thousand-years.... or whenever he turned 65. 
It didn't really occur to us that we would move again; and we certainly didn't want to move our kids one more time. Because well, it just plain sucks being the new kid at school...and it sucks to leave friends...and it sucks to start over and have to figure out how to navigate making it to the bathroom in the middle of the night in a new house.  

To be honest, I'm just not that evolved, so for me, change usually sucks.

Wrapping my mind around this change has been ugly...and...beautiful.
Sometimes events that begin as ugly little seeds of uncertainty evolve into joyful blooms.

I'm hoping that is what is on the way to our Square Toothed/Mountain Man Clan, a  
b i g   f a t   v a s e  of joyful blooms, with a card from God that says, "You made it! Well done! Careful of the door jamb on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night!"

.....but I don't know if He sends flowers. 
It would be nice though.

So everyday, I wake up...and hope.

Some moments I feel completely self assured. 

Some days, I can see the series of unfortunate events that led our family to this period of uncertainty and change as a path hammered out with good intentions and sadness overcomes me. 

Other days I think, "I will just stand back and allow this journey to unfold." 
On these days I repeat to myself, "I refuse to own any stress in this situation. All things have led us to this point. Everything happens for a reason." 

I feel better on those days. 

And on those days, tender mercies, like newly sprouted joyful blooms, poke their little heads up out of the soil of uncertainty. 

For instance, recently a flood of lovely, courageous, compassionate and brilliant new friends have showed up to hold lanterns of hope and encouragement along the path. There have been texts, a meal brought to our door, and most tenderly, tears that escaped closed eyes as one friend contemplated what had been lost.

Up until that moment I hadn't really allowed myself to face the reality.
I was scared that alllllllll my emotions would overcome me, and I would be left tossed and turned like drift wood in the tide.
But those tears, shed by another's eyes, allowed me to face the trauma.
And you know what? 

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 
I found that because it was spread between the two of us, I could carry it. 

What an unimaginable gift those tears were amid this uncertainty and change...

...water enough for a joyful bloom to sprout right before my eyes. 

How do you find joyful blooms out of uncertainty?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Things Come Together and Then They Fall Apart

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  Its just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
~Pema Chodron
I love this quote by Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron. I love it more today because this afternoon, a dear dear friend drove away with her family to Brooklyn, New York. For a short and cherished season, our friends, Mr. & Mrs. Marcus, graced us with their love, laughter, wisdom and joy and now life takes them onto the next chapter. 

In the wake of their absence, I've already felt the misery and grief. Yet, I also know that in the coming days there will be relief and even joy. Joy to hear of their adventures, and also joy in the realization that we were all able to be together during this brief and beautiful season. 

So, *raised glass* here's to coming together and falling apart, and allowing it all to happen...here's to living. 

Me and Mrs. Marcus. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beautifully Imperfect

I am a firm believer in swearing.

As a somewhat unorthodox Mormon woman, I can fully and wholeheartedly admit without shame or guilt that I was raised by at least one pirate and one of the things that he passed onto me was an ability to let loose when occasion arises.

I am not afraid to admit this, because I am truly, utterly and hopelessly flawed, but I'm stitched together with good intentions. And to be honest, sometimes, there's just no other word.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not about gratuitous swearing, or cussing just to say words "you shouldn't say" but every once in a while, like when you drop something on your foot, or fall off a horse, or get fired, or the zombies start their attack, a nice, juicy, ripe swear word seems appropriate.

I know that there will be many of you who COMPLETELY disagree.You may think that I'm a "bad example", "rude", "crass"--whatever, and that's o.k--because one of the other gifts my goodly parents gave me was to not really give a flying fart in space what other people think of me. Because it takes all kinds to make this world we live in a joyous complexity of crazy, which is just another phrase for, "being human."

Take my father-in-law, for example: Just a few nights ago he told me that anyone who works on commission is a "whore of the earth".

My own dad worked on commission his whole damn life. But I didn't mind a bit when my father-in-law said that, because I say CRAZY stuff ALL the time.

Take last week for instance:
It has been recently brought to my attention that Mountain Man doesn't like soup.

I know.
What a freak.
Who doesn't like soup???

After 15 years of marriage and countless soups, NOW he tells me.
Instead of saying, "Oh, that's o.k. we won't eat soup anymore" I said, "If you don't like soup, then you don't like fall. And if you don't like fall, then you don't like winter. If you don't like winter, then you CLEARLY hate Santa, and if you hate Santa, then you hate the Easter Bunny, and if you hate the Easter Bunny then you don't like Jesus."

Really. That's the kind of crazy I spew out.

So Pops, don't call me--I'm not offended in the least (and I just wrote the word "damn" on my blog and pointed out to your son that not liking soup apparently has serious spiritual ramifications.) I also just threw you under the bus on an open blogging forum...I should probably call you to apologize, but your grandson ran down the battery on my phone playing Angry Birds...so don't wait up. Also, there may be a seed of truth in that phrase...and I can say that because I work on commission too.

I also judge people, yell at stupid drivers, and write mean emails that I never send. I also JUST flipped my husband off. Our daughter was in the other room and I could hear her laughing. Mountain Man said "She just flipped me off so loud you could hear it, huh?"

Now don't get me wrong: I believe in doing my best--I really do. And sometimes my "best" is that I didn't lift my fist to someone's face. So if dropping a couple choice words takes the place of throwing an anvil at someone, then I choose the lesser offense.

I've never been one to paste on a smile and pretend that everything's o.k.

To put it simply: I am what I am, wherever I am.

I am like a rough stone in a river, getting tossed and turned by the rapids. As I get thrown about in this life from time to time I scream out, "This @!#&*@ hurts like hell!!"

I am beautifully imperfect.

a beautifully imperfect day...

How are you beautifully imperfect?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Letting Go

We are moving.

Moving, I tell you.



Quite unexpectedly, and without much warning, we are leaving the lives that we've built here for the last five years and heading west. 

We will be tearing our children from their schools. 
We will be leaving jobs we've loved. 
We will be saying goodbye to our friends (who have become family).

The prospect is horrifying. 

And beyond that horror is only a slightly less horrifying process (but only slightly). The process I'm talking about is the fact that we will have to pack up every stupid thing we own and drag it across the landscape several hundred miles.

Thinking about it makes me want to own less. 

No, strike that--thinking about moving makes me wish that the zombie apocalypse had already begun so my only concern was how much ammo I had. 

But I digress...
Moving makes me want to own less. Mostly because whatever I own has usually ended up owning me. 

Like this house.
"Whipped!" it whispers to me in the middle of the night, as I lie awake, dreaming of empty drawers.

So Saturday, I got rid of half of my worldly possessions.  

It felt amazing. 

It felt like letting go. 

I feel like I've turned a corner, like I can utter the words, "I'm moving" without bursting into tears.

And I also had some fun at the moving sale. 

Here are a few of the signs I put up on various items: 

It was a good way to let go.

P.S. If you know me in "real" life, please don't call me tomorrow asking me when or why we are moving. All I'm at liberty to tell you is that it involves a secret plot with a catapult, Area 51, cattle mutilations, Mitt Romney and Super PACs. If I told you anymore, I'd have to kill you.

"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you have for sure."
 ~Oprah Winfrey

How do you "let go"?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Being Present

I am 38 years old.

I am going through a mid-life crisis.

Mountain Man is too.

There is total upheaval.

Things we thought that were, simply, are not.

We are standing on a precipice, not leaning over at all, but the toes on our exposed feet are gripping the edge.

The wind is howling all around us, and clinging to our legs are our children and family of friends. We are gripping each other and to all of them tightly, knowing that before the shift comes a time of gripping onto the past.

In front of us lives the future, and behind us, spread out like a picnic quilt, lies the past. Our past together, and our separate pasts. Each memory a square of joy, or beauty, or pain or longing. But we aren't looking back. We are facing forward, each of us holding up to our eye a straw. You know, the kind you drink soda through.

As I look through my straw, all I can see is the teeniest, tiniest view of what is to come.
It does not comfort me.
But I believe that my view is the entire world--and to me it is.

Mountain Man is peeking though his straw too. He can't see much either, but from time to time we break from straw gazing and look at each other and smile, trying to reassure and convince one another that the view is magnificent.

Magnificent, I tell you.

Like looking through a glass, darkly.

Really, we can't see the future.
And the past is, well....past.

When we remove the straws from our eyes we are free to look into each other's eyes, hear our hearts beating wildly, and feel our children clinging to us. Because I stop trying to look through that little straw to glimpse a future that I cannot see, my hands are now free. As they drop to my sides, they are immediately lifted up by our friends.

With their reassuring comfort of hands and words, this mid-life upheaval is turning into something.

What, I do not know.
But I do know this: I am doing my best.

And Mountain Man is too.

And we are looking at each other, trying not to look back too much, but from time to time we straw-gaze, and that's o.k.
But mostly, we are listening to our hearts beating wildly for each other...and it's good to hear.

After all, amid the crisis and confusion, the wild wind howling around us, all we really have is right now. And now feels like laughter and children and friends and love and change and change and change.

And I'm feeling.
And listening.
And breathing,
                   and breathing,
                                     and breathing...doing my best to be present.

How do you focus on the present? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Make It Stop.

Quite a while ago, I was in the grocery store when I ran into a woman who was wearing a tee shirt that read, "Make it stop."

I laughed right out loud when I saw it, because it pretty much summed up things effectively and succinctly.

When I told her that I loved her tee shirt she admitted that many people come up to her when she wears it and say, "I don't get it...make what stop?"

She always answered, "If you don't get it, I'm not going to explain it."
Later that day I was sharing this story with a group of people. When I said, "And her tee shirt said, Make It Stop!" the two women to my right busted out great, big belly laughs and as we were wiping the tears from our eyes we noticed that we'd been the only ones laughing.

And then someone said, "I don't get it."

And another person said, "Me neither."

There was a long pause while I decided how to explain the inexplicable.
I finally said, "Give it a minute, it will come to you....how about those Seahawks, huh??"

I've mulled over this experience for a few years now, and I still am not sure what it was exactly that made that tee shirt the best darn tee I've ever seen...except that some days, it pretty much sums it all up, doesn't it?

If you could "make it stop" what would it be?

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's the Small Stuff

A few weekends ago, our circle of friends went out to dinner then ended up at our house because there were children and babysitters at the others. We are all 30-somethings and in the middle of raising smallish children, anxiously watching our careers grow while drowning in laundry or bills (or both), and trying hard to remember that it's the small stuff that really counts.

We sat around drinking Diet Coke (because that's all we had to offer everyone besides rice milk and tap water) and our conversation turned to great 80's movies. We discussed in fine detail the best movies of our generation and agreed it came down to three (two of which stared Molly Ringwald and that guy that I can NEVER remember the name of but who recently starred in "The Dead Zone"....you know, what's-his-name.)

Anyway, it was agreed that our top three picks for best 80's movies were Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles.  

Ferris wins for the sheer cool factor. Who hasn't wanted to skip school, steal your best friend's father's car, tool around downtown Chicago or lip-sync to "Twist & Shout" in a parade??

The hoodlums of Shermer High win for best representation of 80's angst in The Breakfast Club (angst that, incidentally, we still carry close to our hearts as 30-somethings) and for the fact that all of us wanted to be a bad-arse like Judd Nelson or crazy like Ally Sheedy--'cause people don't mess with tough or crazy and tough and crazy are faaaaaaaar better tools to navigate adulthood with than say, diamond earrings--but if you can have both, then you should.

Sixteen Candles made the running because all of the husbands admired the puck of that one kid (I still can't remember his name) when he asked for Samantha's underwear--and all the wives often dream of Jake Ryan doing the dishes, or vacuuming. Which, personally, if Quasimodo wants to do my dishes, I'd dream of him too--but you get the point.

The evening ended with our friend, ZF, recording the greeting on the outgoing message on our answering machine. He chose the one that Cameron left to put the red-headed evil principal off of Ferris' trail. He said, "You have reached the Coughlin Brothers Mortuary. We are deeply sorry we are unable to come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name and number we'll get back to you as soon as humanly possible."  Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

When my phone rings, I wait for the machine to pick up so I can hear the reaction of the caller on the other end. Usually they hang up and call back immediately thinking they dialed the wrong number and for some reason, it makes me laugh every time.
...'cause after all, it's the small stuff.

What small thing brings you joy?

Friday, September 21, 2012

40 by 40

My friend, Clover, posted a list on Facebook a while back of forty things she would like to accomplish before the age of forty. Since Clover and I are only a mere four days apart in birth, and she is one of those people whom I shamelessly copy (because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) I had to make my own. I'm 38 and three-quarters, so I better get a move on.

Here it is, Lisa's 40 by 40:

1. Read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  It's been sitting on my bookshelf since I was thirteen and I think I'm ready.
2. Run a half marathon--so I can be prepared when the Zombie Attack truly begins.
3. Take dance lessons, because "No one puts Baby in a corner!"
4. Ride the Hiawatha bike trail outside of Coeur d'Alene, ID.  Because I like bikes, and trails.
5. Attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
6. Attend every show at the Portland Art Museum.
7. Be still in a Japanese Garden.
8. Attend the Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth, Washington.
9. Learn to play chess.
10. Learn to make cheese.
11. Make twelve new book structures.
12. Learn to become impeccable with my word.
13. Actively manifest through daily meditation.
14. Write a book.
15. Get rid of half of everything I own.
16. Be present.
17. Sing with a band.
18. Spend a weekend at a spa.
19. Regularly write in the journals I began for my children when they were small.
20. Go on a two week juice fast.
21. Grow peaches.
22. Get a bird.
23. Do Bikram Yoga every day for 3 months.
24. Create a rotating dinner menu and actually stick to it.
25. Lose 40lbs....'cause the "baby" is now 9 years old.
26. Go on a weekend get-away with Mountain Man to San Fransisco.
27. Participate in a flashmob.
28. Climb Mt. Hood...or at least get real close.
29. Spend next year's Persied meteor shower in Glacier National Park.
30. Hike to the Granite Park Chalet and spend the night.
31. Jump into Lake McDonald--(It's freezing).
32. Grow my hair long and wear a cowboy hat with confidence.
33. Fit into my wedding dress.
34. Learn more about technology--I don't even know enough now to know what it is I need to learn...
35. Go boating on the Willamette River.
36. Live in a big city with kids.
37. Spend my 39th birthday doing random acts of kindness.
38. Go clam digging.
39. Read all six volumes of Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East.
40. Enjoy the moment.

What's on your list of things to do?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mormon Diaries, a Review

Being a blogger has some amazing perks.  One of them is sometimes reading fellow blogger's manuscripts before they are published.  My friend, Sophia Stone, has written a beautiful book about her spiritual journey through Mormonism. 

Here's a brief summary: 

Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart.

Joanna Brooks, Book of Mormon Girl author, wrote, “Sophia Stone has a fine eye and a searching heart. Her story of growing up in and reaching through her Mormonism for a deeper, more authentic spirituality reflects all the ways that religion can both keep us satisfied easy answers and push us to more difficult and complicated realizations. We need a hundred more books like this one . . . “ 

“Sophia Stone captured my attention from the beginning. This collection of personal essays, about questioning the legitimacy of Mormonism after having faith in the religion for the first 30-something years of her life, is not just a controversial quake to a reader’s heart and soul. Stone’s voice is brave, bold and intriguing. And surprisingly relatable to someone who is not religious.”—Jessica Bell, author of String Bridge 

Lucky me, I got to read an advance copy of Mormon Diaries. It is superb. Sophia Stone expertly took me by the hand and into her experience through Mormonism. She reveals the joy, questions and ultimate heartache that we all must face if we are looking religion to offer us easy answers. This is an important book for anyone who's struggled with their own spiritual journey.  

Here's a lovely trailer too...


You can download Mormon Diaries by Sophia L. Stone from your favorite eBook seller.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Houses & Roses

I have an unnatural attachment to the house I live in. I think it has to do with the fact that over the last five years we've resurfaced, painted, stripped or refinished practically every thing in this old house. My hands painted every square inch of the outside, except for the windows in the mudroom which are filled with countless mullions--my mom did those because I missed the line for patience.

Our house isn't big, and we all share (remarkably well) one bathroom (which isn't very big either)--and I'm in constant amazement of this old girl everyday. It's weathered and dusty (no matter how many times I clean it) and it groans a lot, (but I would too if I lived for 113 years). Our house has character. It's a house of love and joy. I get the feeling that the people who lived here before us loved well, and can't help but feel like their love kind of spilled over onto us too. 

Sitting in the dining room, surrounded by dark wood, the morning sun shines through the eastern windows and the aged wood grain breathes anew. Nicks and scratches and the life of this house are illuminated, but I don't see the nicks or the scratches because the light evens out all of those little imperfections.

The rooms are surprisingly spacious for a house this size. Every door and window has thick molding, making me feeling like I live in a house of picture frames. The yard is small, but with enough room for a two story tree house and a swing which gets a lot of use. It's a cozy little house.

I realize that I'm just talking about a place--and at the core it doesn't really matter what kind of house that I live in, but I am reminded of what the fox said in The Little Prince when he uttered, "People have forgotten this truth, but you mustn't forget it. You become responsible forever for what you've tamed. You're responsible for your rose."

Our house, this old creaky contraption, is my rose. All of our spare time over the last five years has been put into recreating the old girl, making her shine again. She's been our hobby, our joy, a place that protects us from the storms of life and where peace resides. Sometimes I get freaked out because we are slaves to where we live, but then I think of St. Exupery who said, "It is time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."

...and then I don't feel so bad.

How do you feel about your home? What is your hobby? 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

If a math teacher emails Lisa on Monday at 8 p.m., how long will it take her to post a snarky reply?

Yesterday, I received an email from my daughter's Geometry teacher about her progress report, and that she was announcing the new, interactive website for parents and students to go and experience all things math related.  

I've discussed a few times how much math makes my brain hurt.  You can read about that here.

Because I have so much math baggage, and the last place I want to be is at an interactive math website, here was the response I sent her: 

Dear Amazing Math Teacher,  
I hope you had a FABULOUS summer!  
I just wanted to communicate that I take great offense at being called a "geometry parent".  You can call me a "hot mama" (which would be weird), a "domestic goddess" (only when the house is perfectly clean and dinner is in the oven which is, like, never)  or even a "crazy loon" (probably the most appropriate) but to be called a "geometry parent" is just, well, insane.   
If ever, at any time, I gave you the impression that our daughter's remarkable math ability came from any of my genetics, I truly apologize.  The only traits she has inherited from me is that she uses her hands expressively while speaking, and she keeps a tidy room.  She can also make a mean chocolate chip cookie, but I think that has more to do with her grandmother than me.  
By calling me a "geometry parent" I hope that you don't expect me to do anything more than nod and smile at her if she brings up the words, "angle, protractor, compass, proof, or co-tangent" (Mountain Man had to explain to me what that last one was and all I heard was , "blah blah blah" for five minutes at which point I finally just ran from the room.) 
In addition, I would like to thank you for the information about the website so we can check our daughter's progress reports. I was very interested in the ability to set preferences on my child's account.  However, instead of a "send me an email if my kid is missing an assignment" preference, I would like to see a "send me an email when there is free chocolate cake in the school cafeteria for all parents of brilliant, sweet, kind and wonderful children."  I would find that much more beneficial, and I would even be willing to bring my own fork.  
Please feel free to forward this suggestion to the principal, the website administrator and the cafeteria lady, of course.  

How do you feel about math? Being called a "geometry parent"? Free chocolate cake? 

courtesy of Google!