Friday, July 1, 2016

If anyone is still reading this blog, I'm trying a more public blog. You can check it out at Trial and error....we'll see how long it lasts.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Ever wonder why scars impress us? Me, too. A scar is like a medal; signifying bravery, endurance and survival. Some scars could even surpass the Purple Heart.

Whenever I look at the scars I have, I am reminded of the event; the story behind it; perhaps what I was wearing, what I said, who else was involved. And, of course, did I learn something from it? Was it that kind of scar? A learning scar? Or was it a choice scar? Or a life-sustaining scar?

If I had more visible physical scars, I would expect there to be questions. I mean, come on, people see. They're curious. Hopefully I could answer their questions in a positive, teaching sense and, in doing so, it would be a growing experience for me as well.

My first child was born without all of his legs. My husband and I made the choice not to hide what he lacked. We did not keep him swaddled in a blanket, leaving people to wonder. In the summer he wore 'cool' attire like everyone else. People would either stare or they would inquire. I understood the stares. I appreciated the inquiries.

Being give the opportunity to answer questions about a scar gives me a chance to acknowledge and admit that an event happened. Hopefully you will validate me so next time when a question is asked, I will still feel free to answer honestly and truthfully, without shame.

Asking about scars, in a loving, graceful way, opens a little spillway for emotions and feelings that are most likely at flood-threatening levels. Releasing a little bit here and there is so much healthier than sending the whole of it rushing downstream because the dam broke. White water rapids would appear as puddles left by the lawn sprinklers in comparison!

And old scars. They're just as fascinating as a fresh one. Maybe a little faded. Their stories richer because of the wisdom that we have acquired since the scar's appearance.

But oozing wounds...

Oozing wounds tend to scare us; repulse us. We look away. We walk away. We tell our children to shush when they begin to ask questions.

And if it's my oozing wound....well, I'm embarrassed as well. I try to hide it and camouflage it. I don't want you to see it or ask questions or point or whisper.

A wound that hasn't yet developed into a scar shows I haven't gotten control. My raw emotions and feelings are still exposed. I haven't learned what it is I need to learn to heal and get better. I haven't "earned" my scar.

Weird that we are more drawn to the scar than the actual wound. Especially since it's the wound that needs the attention, the care, the acknowledgment in order to become the scar.

Just an observation today.

So grateful for the Atonement offered by my Savior. He stands, arms outstretched, offering this amazing gift to me. Paid for. Wrapped up. Done deal.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

This Mother's Realization

One night, a couple of days after I had been asked if I would speak on Mother’s Day, I found myself standing in my basement watching quite the scene. Water was running, dripping, pouring into the basement. Soggy ceiling tiles, shorted out light, puddled carpet, saturated insulation. As I threw down towels, wrung out towels, moved buckets, moved stuff out of the wet zone, ran upstairs and ran back downstairs, I realized I was standing barefoot right smack dab in  the middle of the perfect picture of motherhood. In my eyes anyway.

Mothers are constantly assessing, diverting, praying, learning, evaluating, judging, sucking it up, crying, prioritizing, choosing, redirecting, swearing (sorry, I had to throw that one in there because, yes, I was swearing), plugging, cleaning, surveying…and then we take a quick breath and start it all over again in the next moment.

The earliest dream I remember having when I was a young girl was the desire, wish, longing to have been a pioneer. Dressing up in my Grandma's pioneer clothes - complete with bonnet, lace up dresses and button-up shoes - was a little bit of Heaven for me. I'd let my imagination take me away to a time when I knew in my heart of hearts, I would have been one of the valiant pioneers. I would have cooked over cowpie fires with no complaining and walked miles and miles and never once tripped over my long skirts or petticoats. But I was quick to realize I had been a fence sitter too long in the pre-existence. I had missed my chance to be a Pioneer. So, this dream of being a pioneer was stored in the back of my mind…just in case.

I got older and along with the short term aspirations of being a world famous bug collector and a roller skate queen, I began to dream of being a musician. Until I sat on my violin. Fortunately, I had a mother who was willing to let me keep trying but with the piano this time, something I was supposed to sit on. Then the organ. Then the hippie in me won out and I took up the guitar. Circumstances changed and this dream of being musically talented was stored in the back of my mind…just in case.

I have always wanted to be a writer. Again, my mother was supportive as she helped me rhyme words and count syllables as I tried to write down what was in my head and my heart. But then elective classes in school hit and I decided I could be an artist. Oil paints, linseed oil, chalks….I could do this. But I could only copy someone else’s work, I couldn’t paint what was in my own head. And so this dream of writing something important that others would enjoy and painting a priceless masterpiece were stored in the back of my mind…just in case..

I went to college with aspirations of being a social worker. A couple of hard classes and I felt defeated so I decided to change my major to education. I began working towards a teaching degree. Then I met Alan. School continued but there were other choices and options on the horizon now. So, goals of being either a social worker or teacher were stored in the back of mind...just in case.

The night before I was to be married, my mother and I were talking. I’m not sure what exactly brought it up, but I informed her that if, for some reason, Alan was not at the temple the next morning, I would be getting in my VW bug and heading somewhere far, far away. I would not stop until I came to the first Peace Corp office and there I would be joining the Peace Corp. I would devote my life to serving others and taking care of those less fortunate than myself and she may or may not ever see me again. It was dark as we were talking, but I’m pretty sure I heard her eyes roll. I'm pretty sure she spent the rest of that night in fervent prayer that Alan WOULD be at the temple in the morning. Needless to say, Alan was at the temple the next morning and, so, my Peace Corp dream was stored in the back of my mind…just in case.

I had a variety of goals and dreams and longings as a young girl…

Life happened. Cooking, sewing, keeping house and looking after a husband all took a front row seat in my life.

And then, when baby #1, fresh from Heaven with his own little set of challenges and talents, was laid in my arms, I was blown away. I was honestly in new, unchartered, unmapped territory! And then #2, #3, #4 and #5 – each of them with their own set of challenges and talents for me to discover and learn and help them master. Sometimes I wandered through thickly forested areas or gravel pits or on paths with thorned bushes on either side. Sometimes it was more of a straight path through beautiful meadows. Whichever way, no matter how many books had been written or how many “perfect” mothers there were out there, I was forging my own path. Figuring things out on a daily basis. Praying constantly for help. I realized my dream. Fence sitter or not...

I got to be a pioneer.

I learned to create harmony out of the sound of children’s off-tune, marching-to-their-own-drum melodies – all playing simultaneously, usually with no volume control and sometimes around the clock.

I got to be a musician.

And not a moment in the day went by that I did not try to write on my children’s hearts words of love and encouragement. "Be your best", "It's what's inside that counts", "You are my sunshine", "You can do anything if you want to bad enough". And at the end of every day, there was always an "I love you, no matter what" and a kiss. And those Kodak moments came frequently enough, giving me a glimpse into the beautiful, unique eternal nature of these spirits entrusted to me - these priceless masterpieces. And I was renewed.

I got to be a writer. I got to be an artist.

Trying to help children be graceful in hard situations; be strong but it's okay to cry; learn to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost; hand out forks to everyone, sit on the floor and enjoy the cake that just fell off the counter; always remember who they are and where they come from and instill them a desire to always do their best, be their best and be Christ like - all were giving me more experience in social work than college courses. Explaining to one son that if you are going to ride your bike with your feet on the handlebars and your arms flapping in the breeze, you probably deserve that large goose egg on your head -- and you should be very grateful that is all you got. Reading books alongside them to make sure they understood what they were reading; singing along with their ukuleles to "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley"; understanding why I quit math after high school geometry; teaching them that school work NOT finished at school automatically becomes HOME work and they did need to bring it HOME And, of course, running alongside an uncertain but determined bike-rider right after the training wheels had been removed. All of these instances, as well as many others, made me a better teacher than anything I would have learned in my college courses.

I was a social worker. I most certainly got to teach.

I never made it to any 3rd world countries with the Peace Corp. But I will argue that catching barf in my lap, wiping runny noses with my bare hands, rinsing messy diapers out in the toilet multiple times a day, trying to put a bandaid on a minor owie while the wounded child screamed bloody murder, scraping food out of hair, noses and ears, trying to understand why one child is sitting on the roof while trying to figure out which child stole the ladder, rescuing stuffed animals from being drowned and flushed down the toilet and reading the same little Golden Books over and over and over and over again rivals anything I could have done in another country. I may have gone to bed exhausted but oh, so very satisfied.

I got to serve others.

Never would I have imagined that I would attain all my dreams. And never would I have believed it would happen by just becoming a Mom!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Granola Bars and Restrooms

Several years ago, there was a woman {whom I will call Stacy} who was receiving services at the mental health organization where I work. Stacy had a substance abuse problem in addition to mental health challenges {kinda par for most of our clients}. The particular substance she chose to abuse was alcohol.

I bonded with her. I admired her. I rejoiced with her successes and was sincerely sad when she backtracked. She was my age and I'm sure that helped with the bond. She had been married and bore children. Now she pretty much lived with her mother, visiting her grown children and grandchildren when they would allow.

I was introduced to one son when she brought him to the office. Stacy wanted him to see where she came to get help. You could see he loved her.

Her mother was sort of a substitute home health caregiver. When the primary caregiver needed a break or vacation, she would substitute for them. This meant, when she did get a job, she was gone for several days at a time.

First thing one Monday morning Stacy's mom came storming in, with her in tow. Mom was washing her hands of her. She'd had it. Story came out that Mom had been away working all weekend leaving Stacy home alone. Mom had tried to get a hold of her off and on and could never make contact, which was worrisome to her. Stacy had basically been on a drunk all weekend, oblivious to the outside world and anyone caring about her.

And so Mom left. Stacy sat on a chair in my little office, waiting for a crisis worker. It took way too long. Based on her history, there wasn't a lot of urgency. Finally a therapist came and talked to her. She realized that because Stacy had been drunk all weekend she hadn't had anything to eat. She took her to feed her and left her eating to come get the scoop from me as to what was going on.

When she went back to the kitchen area, Stacy way lying on the floor, unconscious, in a small bathroom just off the kitchen. She was evidently so famished that she had eaten too fast, choked and gone to try and throw up in the toilet.

Medical help was given. Ambulance was called. Stacy never regained consciousness. Her mother has to live with her last moments with her daughter being those of washing her hands of her. I live with that, too. It's a way too vivid memory for me.

Fast forward to today.

This client, a man, {I'll call him John} was dropped off for his 10am appointment way early. I checked with the person who brought him and she nodded when I confirmed that she would be here to pick him after his appointment at 11am.

John has been in prison for 26 years. The last stint was a short amount of time, during which he fell/had an accident/something and hit his head so hard that his skull was fractured and pieces of it pierced his brain. Surgery was done and part of his brain had to be removed as well as part of his skull. His eye on that side is useless. He has long, unkempt hair, scraggly facial hair, a slow, halting gait {due to the brain injury} and has poor hygiene. But he is the quietest, most polite, gentle man. Looks are deceiving in his case.

During his appoint, he divulges to the therapist that his ride has dropped him off and headed south for appointments. At the earliest they'll return by 5pm. What is he going to do?

The whole day he has silently wandered our building, going outside now and again to smoke. He was able to walk a few blocks to a store and get some food; even though his balance and stamina are not very good. He tries to call to see about a ride but only gets an answering machine. I offer granola bars. Make sure he knows where the restroom and drinking fountain are.

Plan B is in place. Another mode of transportation is in place if needed.

Finally, his ride does come about a half hour before closing. Even though his home life is probably not the best, my heart is lighter that somebody did come and pick him up.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around this. So much about life is unknown. I try to factor in that people make choices which have consequences. I get that sometimes you have to let people go - maybe even people you care very deeply about - because they drag you down or bring stuff into your universe that is unwelcome and hurtful - maybe even dangerous. My heart just hurts.

Maybe I'm more concerned that either one of these people - Stacy or John - could be me. Will you offer me a granola bar and show me where the restroom is, please?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Am a Wanderer

I don't know a better title.

A wanderer seems to fit. I sure don't seem to fit. A lot of times I wonder where I do fit as I don't feel comfortable anywhere, really. Such a conundrum.

I want to feel comfortable in my own darkness, but I don't feel comfortable in my own skin. Weird, huh?

When I was little I used to think I should have been a pioneer. I fantasized about how glamorous that life would have been. Being self-sufficient. The adventure of it all. The older I get, though, I realize I could never have been a pioneer. I can't walk up three stairs without stepping on my maxi skirt and tripping. How would I ever had crossed the plains?

Growing up in the 60's and 70's I coveted the real, true Hippies and their communes. Living together in perfect love. Being harmonious with life and nature and having no animosity at all. I know I would have taken to the bra-burning with a power and energy that could not be matched. The sandals and love beads and peasant dresses...I would have loved it. I think I would have thrived. I was too introverted for all that free love stuff, though. I would have been embarrassed, shunned by the commune for not being more forthcoming and open.

Gypsies have always been a passion of mine as well. Watching them on old westerns. Their big earrings and flowing skirts. No roots. House on wheels. Go when things got uncomfortable. Big earrings and a camp trailer are the closest I've come to that aspiration. I have acclimated well to both of them, though. The dancing, though...I never could have danced good enough to get a scrap of bread, let alone money. Scratch that idea.

I get kind of hokey ideas sometimes. I see the world as parables - tangible things representing intangible things which make my understanding easier. I like to try potions and remedies that are unorthodox sometimes. Oils and just plain old time. Positive affirmations.


I probably wouldn't have made it as a pilgrim or one of the earlier settlers in America, either. I'd have been burned at the stake or drowned in the pond as a witch. Am I in some time warp? Wandering around without a place to call my own?

As I See It

My mother had macular degeneration. She found out she had it right after my Nathan was born. She was crushed and devastated and bitter and angry and sad - all the stages of accepting a loss in your life.

After my dad died, she took a year and went back to school to recertify her teaching degree. She had taught in Idaho but never Utah. She had a major in Home Economics with a minor in English. When she went job hunting, the only opening was for an English teacher at Springville Junior High School. She took it in hopes of eventually transferring into the home economics department - her true love. It wasn't long until she realized the home ec teachers were as young as she was and fully intended on staying in their capacity.

So for some 16 years she taught English. She was the best English teacher you could hope to have. Only problem was, you didn't realize that until you were well into life, with those junior high years only a tiny memory in the rear view mirror.

Finally she got a break and the sewing teacher at the junior high retired. She had her dream job. For about a year. Then she found out about the macular degeneration. It was difficult to see straight on. Images were wavy and out of proportion. Peripherally she could see adequately but straight on sight continued spiraling downward. She could no longer evaluate sewing projects as no seam lines looked straight. She was trying to decide what her future was going to be now. Certainly not what her carefully drafted blueprints had looked like not that long ago. She needed to plan and prepare. Because, after all, there was no one to take care of her....but her.

Enter Nathan. Born with bilateral lower limb deficiency. His birth defects hit her hard. Again she was crushed and devastated and bitter and angry and sad. Her faith waivered. Her understanding was lacking. I think she cried harder and more than I did.

However, without batting an eye or taking a second breath, she said to me, "I would give my eyes this very minute if it meant Nathan would have his legs."

I knew she meant it, too. If it were possible, it would have been done before her lips closed over the last word.

Needless to say, I throw a little celebration when I leave the ophthalmologist's office with a clean bill of "EYE" health. But I wonder, are my eyes really that good? Does his diagnosis really mean anything?

I feel like each day of my life is an "eye test". I'm surrounded by people in various situations and struggles and life experiences. Some of their own choosing. Some perhaps more circumstantial. A few of them ideal and some, well, some are just downright unfair. And I wonder {sometimes more verbally than I should} about their situation and why they don't do something about it or make different choices. It would be so easy, right?

At least in my eyes.

Am I seeing that bottom line on the chart? That fine print? Or do I focus on the fact that I can read that top line perfectly without skipping a beat or stumbling over whether it's a "C" or a "G"? Goodness knows the type font is large enough. And I think I see it all.

But that bottom line.

Grateful to be able to go home and kneel down before my Heavenly Father and get a real eye test. He will remind me that "I" do not see the whole picture and it is not my place to judge. He will guide me through the letters on that bottom, small-font line:


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Which Part is Mine?

I trusted the process, the people, the circumstances....I trusted Karma in general.

Damn agency!

Everything can fall smoothly into place. Everyone can play their part. But let one player forget their part or choose to adlib for a moment or be caught off guard (having forgotten their cues) and the whole play gets bad reviews.

Evidently I don't have the faith to back up my trust. My body does not emanate naturally occurring positive ions. It's so hard to play a part that isn't written for me. Or that I don't feel is written for me. Or that I just flat out don't want to memorize and rehearse those lines.

And so I ask, "Which part is mine?"

Not necessarily a rhetorical question but there is really no firm answer to it.

And so I'm left to figure it out. Every minute of every day. The only thing I know for sure it the answer is fluid.

I, too, must learn to be fluid.