Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering those we've loved and lost

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I hope you have all had a wonderful kickoff to the summer vacation season, which is part of what this weekend is all about.

But I don't want to use this post to talk about vacations; instead, I'd like to talk about the real reason we celebrate Memorial Day: to remember out loved ones who have died. You all know that loss of a loved one has been on my mind for the past little while because of what my family and I have been through, but today was a good reminder of other loved ones who've gone before.
Since we knew today was going to be a fairly busy day, my family made our rounds of the four cemeteries in our area (apparently there's one more I didn't know about, but oh well. We don't have any family buried there and it's way out in the country, so I don't feel bad that we didn't visit) last night. It was a pretty great experience.
Our first visit: the cemetery in my tiny Idaho hometown. In my opinion, I think this is the best maintained of the four cemeteries. They really do a great job with it. This cemetery is the final resting place for my beautiful niece. Since her passing was so recent, I was concerned that visiting her grave might be hard, but it was okay. See the beautiful flowers my sister and my niece's best friend placed on the grave? She doesn't have a headstone yet, but we still know right where she is.
My niece is buried next to my grandfather who actually died almost 18 years ago. Part of me can't believe it's been that long since he died, but time does pass quickly. This is his headstone. Thinking about my niece and how much her loss still hurts at times made me reflect on my grandpa too and how sad we all were when he died rather unexpectedly. He was a wonderful man, and I'm sure he's doing great work on the other side now. I was glad to remember his wisdom and the legacy he left behind.
I don't have photos to include but we also visited the graves of my niece who was stillborn, my great aunt and uncle, a couple sets of great-grandparents, my grandpa on my dad's side of the family and my uncle who died 14 years ago. Each of these losses did impact my life, even if I didn't know the person (such as my great-grandparents who died long before I was born) in that they taught someone I loved who has in turn passed their wisdom on to me.
This one isn't a family member, but she was a family friend. She taught at the same school my father teaches at for many years. In fact, she was teaching at the time she died. I think she was even my younger brother's teacher at one point. She died very suddenly and unexpectedly two years ago. I was thinking about her daughter and husband, whom I'm sure still miss her very much. I don't have a picture of this either, but I also visited the grave of one of my best friend's mothers who also died before her time. This friend and her husband stopped by to visit on Sunday, and it just made me think about the hole her mother's death left in her life which can never be filled. Her mother also left her a wonderful legacy and example.

I hope I haven't depressed all of you with this entry. It's not just about death and losing loved ones; my intention is to instead remember those who have impacted my life and to honor them for that.

Someone told me either right before or soon after my niece died that you never get over losing someone you love. At the time I found it to be a depressing statement and was disinclined to believe them. However, as time has passed, and I have felt the pain of loss so keenly, I can understand what they were trying to tell me. Nothing can ever fill the hole that person leaves when they die, and it's likely we will mourn that person for the rest of our mortal lives. But, it's our job to try to remember that person as best we can, learn from the example they set for us and keep the hope alive in our hearts that we will see them again. Healing from death doesn't mean forgetting; it means finding a way to cope and moving forward. I'm glad Memorial Day could remind me of that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Girl Power Moment!

So this weekend I had another girl power moment.

Since it was back in Feburary, I'm pretty sure many of you might not remember, but I had a girl power moment when I changed my car's headlight without assistance. It seems a small thing, but I was so proud of myself for doing so. This weekend I one upped that (and yes that phrasing sounds a little weird to me too): I changed my first flat tire, with supervision of course.

The other day Smirk and I were on our way to the park to go run/walking. I was concerned because I thought I heard a noise coming from my tire that sounded like air coming out, but Smirk didn't hear anything, so I thought I must be mistaken. I watched the tire carefully for the next few days but didn't notice anything amiss. I drove all the way to my sister's house on Friday for my nieces' dance recital and, again, everything was fine. However, after our little late night jaunt to Wendy's (because we were all starving after the event), I noticed in the pouring rain that my right front tire looked awfully low.

The next morning my fears were confirmed when my sister and I drove to the gym for Zumba class (wa-hoo!! it was awesome!) and I saw that my tire was completely flat. Normally this would distress me, but in this case it was okay because I knew both my dad and my brother-in-law were around so they could help me.

After returning from the gym and helping prepare breakfast, my brother-in-law and I trooped out to my car to address the problem. I was pretty insistent that I didn't want him to do it for me; I wanted him to show me how to do it. That's mostly what happened. I struggled just a little bit with pumping up my jack and initially loosening the lug nuts. He also made me think carefully about which way the donut should be put on my car so I could figure it out, which I did with some guidance.

I was delighted a few hours later to go back and get my car once the tire was fixed. I had helped bring this about myself and was so happy about that! Yay for brothers-in-law who are willing to help out when you need it and yay for another experience that reminded me of what a strong, independent woman I am.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Close Encounters of the Spider Kind

It seems spring has finally sprung and with it all the delightful aspects of the season including blossoms on the trees, tulips on Temple Square and beautiful weather.

The unfortunate part: the eight-legged critters that terrify me have also started coming out. Ugh!

The other day I was washing a much-needed batch of laundry. I accidentally dropped a piece of clothing on the floor and reached down to pick it up, only to be horrified as a large black spider raced out from under it and behind the washer. I was so startled that I didn't have the presence of mind (or a shoe close at hand) to kill it. In fact, if I hadn't just washed that piece of clothing I would've thought the spider came from inside it, which grosses me out almost beyond belief!

I have no problem with spiders that live outside and will let them be, but when they're in the house, they're in my territory, and that means they don't get to live. This spider was somewhat inaccessible, but I didn't let that stop me. I grabbed my hairspray from the bathroom and sprayed the critter so it couldn't escape. Then I found my spider spray and doused it with that. About 30 seconds later I was pleased to see the spider was no more. I wish I could say my disturbed feelings went away that quickly.

The next morning I was still on my guard from the encounter the night before. Somehow I had a sneaking suspicion that there might be something icky waiting for me in the shower. And I wasn't wrong.

This time instead of a big black spider it was a smaller brown fast one. In case you're wondering, no it wasn't a hobo, just a common house spider from the looks of it. I used my lotion bottle to smash it and that was that.

I'm proud that I have learned to kill the eight-legged critters when they cross my path, but I wish I wasn't so disturbed at the idea of how many must surely be living in the basement that I'm unaware of. It might be time to redo my spider barrier which won't kill them but does provide at least some protection. Here's to a spider free remainder of the month. I can only hope. . .

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To the bestest mommy ever!

This is a special blog post dedicated to an essential person in my life: my mother. Yes, I know that yesterday was Mother's Day so I'm technically a day late, but better late than never, right?
My mother has been my inspiration throughout my life. She has taught me by example the way I need to live my life and has showed me what it means to be compassionate, loving and service-oriented. She is constantly giving of herself, sometimes to the point that she has nothing left to give and yet she still presses on. She always puts her children, her husband and God first in her life. I can't tell you the number of times I stumbled across her while she was on her knees in earnest prayer during my growing up years. I knew she was truly communing with God, and her faith sustained me until I developed a strong faith and testimony of my own. I've also felt her prayers and been protected many times as I've grown up and moved out on my own.
Most of the time I don't think my mom even has a minute to herself during any given day, but she finds some way to manage. I've talked until I'm blue in the face trying to teach her about "me" time, but the idea seems foreign to her. Perhaps someday when I'm a mother myself trying to balance the demands of family life, running a household and working full time I will understand why that is. Until then, I'll keep trying to teach my mom that it's okay sometimes to do something for yourself. :)

My mother is always, always serving other people. She is a caretaker to the very core. She is also nurturing and loving, traits she has also taught me to have, although I still have a lot to learn about both. Here are a few photos to document all the wonderful things about my mom.
This is the two of us a few years ago after we both got fabulous hairstyles. Yes, you should be able to tell from the color of my hair that this is an old picture, and by old, I mean about three years old, but it's a great one so I used it anyway. :)
I wouldn't dare write a blog post about either of my parents without mentioning square dancing. It's the one thing they do for themselves that has nothing to do with their children (trust me with my parents that's a healthy and encourageable thing!), and I'm so glad they have it. The lovely lady standing just to the left of my mother is her dear sister who shares this hobby with my parents. She has been an honorary mother for much of my life too, so of course I need to mention her.
Here is my wonderful mother with three of her daughters, one of her adopted daughters and a beautiful granddaughter. She is very involved in her children's lives and will do anything she can to help. In fact, it's terrible for her when she can't do anything to help.
Did I mention she's also a wonderful grandmother whom the grand kids cherish?

Sometimes I get to do cool things like travel with my mom. Here the two of us are in Brazil a couple of years ago when we went to pick up my brother from his mission. It was one of the experiences of a lifetime for my parents, who haven't had much opportunity to travel, and I was so grateful to be a part of it. Because I can't get the spacing to work right on my blog, I'll also tell about the other picture. It's my mom and me in our family's special place, Yellowstone National Park. She and my dad introduced us to the park many moons ago when we were pretty young, and it's become dear to all of us.

Finally, my parents have set a wonderful example to me of what a happily married couple can look like. They preside over our family in love and righteousness, and I'm so grateful for both of them. Love you, Mom and Dad! Happy Mother's Day! How appropriate that this picture should've been taken in Yellowstone too. :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Alone Time: Love it or Hate it?

As I write this today I find myself sitting in my basement with both of my roommates gone until tomorrow. But don't worry--I'm leaving shortly to participate in fun activities for the evening, so I won't just be hanging out by myself all night. Trust me that's a good thing!

But being alone always puts me in a reflective mood probably because I both love and loathe it so much. I do enjoy having alone time, also known as "me" time, to sit and think or to do whatever it is I need to accomplish. I like to use it to space out from the day, particularly if it's been a long one, and sometimes use it to cry. I prefer to cry when I'm alone as opposed to when I'm with other people. It just suits me better. I also like the alone time because I can do pretty much whatever the heck I want to. I can blast my music, clean my house or simply sit and read a book all day. In fact, I prefer having an empty house when I clean. But that's beside the point.

On the flip side, I also HATE the idea of being alone. I hate feeling like there's no one there if I need them and especially that there's nobody to talk to. I know, I know my phone makes it possible for me to talk to someone whenever I want but it's not the same as having someone there. Sometimes I think I'm even afraid of being alone just a little bit because then I have to think about all the things I can mask during the day when I'm with other people. And I let my guard down, which isn't an entirely bad thing.

I suppose that the key to enjoying alone time is to just learn to embrace it, to not be afraid of what I might think when I'm alone or how I might feel and instead just let myself feel those things. I also have to convince myself that it's not pathetic.

A couple weeks ago I did a brave thing: I went to a movie by myself. I know there are plenty of people who do it all the time, but I'm not one of them. I've always thought I wouldn't enjoy the movie as much if I was by myself or, again, that I'd feel pathetic. This time I just feel empowered, which seems strange, but it all has to do with this transformation I'm going through right now. And for a girl who both loves and loathes alone time like I do, this is a big accomplishment.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to teach myself how to enjoy alone time while not letting it overwhelm me. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two New Somethings

I've just been looking over my entries from the past few months and realized I haven't had as much to say lately. There are reasons for this of course but I find it interesting all the same. I suppose I'll return to my wordy ways soon enough. After all, Idol is almost over and much as I hate to have it take my time, it really does. :)

Anyway, the point of this entry, as indicated by the title, is to talk about two exciting somethings that are happening this month. The first officially started last Saturday and the second started today, even though I thought it started yesterday. Oops! Not a bit deal, fortunately.

My two friends from work decided that they're going to go the entire month of May without eating sugar. By sugar, they mean candies, sweets, juices, pop and the like. Natural sugars, like fruits and honey, are okay. I wasn't sure about joining them because I'm a pretty terrible sugar addict. But, I made a slight modification to the challenge and agreed to participate. Strength in numbers, I say. I have now been four days without eating sugar (save the natural variety) and am doing very well. I did look a little despairingly at the calendar today and think, "It's sure a looonnnggg time until May 31" but I'm determined to see this through. My modification to the challenge is two "Get out of jail free" passes that mean if I'm desperate, I can eat sugar twice during the month and it's okay.

My reward is money toward a new iPod which I'm desperately in need of! I'd like to get it before I go to New York next month, but I'm not sure if that's going to work out or not. We'll have to see. I am planning to put a certain amount of money toward my iPod for every week I go without sugar. Wa-hoo!

The second exciting thing is a walking challenge I'm participating in through work. I opted to go for steps as opposed to time, so the goal is to get 65,000 steps in 42 days. I personally think that goal is slightly low and plan to knock it out of the park if possible. I'm excited to be participating in this campaign, however, and feel it is surely benefiting me already.

Wish me luck as I begin something new and exciting this month!