Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tying Up Loose Ends

I am notorious for starting projects....big projects....and then losing interest and moving on.  This winter/spring, I have tried to go through my stash of unfinished projects, deciding whether or not they are worthy of my time, and choosing to either finish them up or throw them out.  Actually, I have been trying to do this with all aspects of my life - deciding what is worthy of my time, what enriches my life and what doesn't, and where they fit into my priority pyramid.
My family is at the pinnacle of that pyramid - their needs, wants, dreams and desires.  There's nothing more satisfying to me than supporting those I love.  I like to think I've become very skilled at it.  This alone tends to take up most of my time.  Farm comes second. What little bit is left over is divided among friends, extended family, and personal interests/fulfillment...hence all the unfinished projects.  I am not complaining, I just need to simplify, prioritize, and weed out the unnecessary.  It's proving harder than it should be. I have a hard time not trying and wanting to do it all.
With all the time I invest in being a mom, although validating and fulfilling, I tend to lose myself - who I am aside from that role.  That is another thing that has made me somewhat unsettled.  I can see my children learning, growing, and moving on.  Once they are gone, which is a good thing, I don't want to be left feeling empty, wondering who I am and what I have to offer.  I am working through these things just like I am working through my drawers of projects.
So in honor of my ramblings and that it was National Quilting Day yesterday (I think), I am posting some pictures of a quilt I started for Hannah about 5 years ago.  It is fittingly named Farmer's Daughter.  It's pretty detailed.  It consists of two different types of blocks.  The Farmer's block:
I've done them in multiple colors.  I like to think they look like fields with pivot irrigation.  Then there are 64 red star blocks.  I've used 8 different reds.  Hannah's favorite color has always been red.

I've gotten through 2 of the 8 fabrics and started on the third. Only 47 blocks left to go.  Each block takes about 20 minutes - probably less for someone more skilled.  I keep telling myself  "just a couple blocks a day" and I will get there. 

 Although my quilts never end up perfect, they are a perfect metaphor for life. You take scraps, organize, put them in place and create something new, hopefully useful, and maybe beautiful.  Wish me luck....I need it.

Monday, March 2, 2015


 There seem to be few "real" people left in this world; the ones that truly live what they believe.  Last week the world lost one of those few. 
 My first encounter with Walter Knapp happened when I became friends with his son, Brent.  He was always so gracious and welcomed me into their home...maybe it helped that I was willing to gather worms out in the pasture.  What a fun memory from that time.
As life moved on and I got married, I was fortunate to be once again acquainted with Walter.  He was a dairyman and so was my husband.  Both families had been in the industry a long time and had spent time together showing cows at the fair, working on co-op boards, and association through our community.  Both David and I have fond memories of Walter.  As time moved along and things have changed, Walter did not.  No matter what the circumstance, he was always willing to stop for visit, ask how we were doing, inquire about the farm, and ask "well, what do you know?". 
If ever there was a man that truly loved people, regardless of differences or short comings, it was Walter Knapp.  When David phoned me to tell me of his unfortunate situation.  We both were a little astonished at the emotion that overcame us.  Why so many tears?  Then again, why not?  He was a man with a big heart, a big voice, and willing to express his joy.
During a long drive home after hearing, all I could do was think of a way to honor him and the words that would describe such a great man.  Following is my tribute to him:
Up before dawn
A cathedral of stars
His form of worship
Life on a farm.
The care of his land
Animals to keep
Well being of his neighbors
Other's needs there to meet.
In the shadow of his mountain
Heritage held dear
Tradition was honor
To his soul was kept near.
Family his glory
The circle so large
His greatest accomplishment
Patriarch, his charge.
Salt of the earth
A life savored best
By doing what's right
Toil without rest.
An honest day
An inclusive heart
A man of his word
Joy to impart.

The light of humanity is a little dimmer in your absence.
You will be missed - your smile, kind words, and positive outlook.
May you rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Negatives to Only Being Positive

There are times in my life when I wish I weren't so flawed.  The sad truth is, we are all imperfect whether we try and hide it or embrace it and let it help us connect with others.  Life, itself, is flawed....hopelessly, flawed. 
I have heard it expressed that we would all be better off if we would only focus on the positives - never criticize or voice concern.  I do believe, at times, this can be some extent, but question what would be the outcome if we didn't acknowledge the hard parts of our lives or the pain and suffering of others?  Would there ever be change?  Would we address the issues and imperfections that hold us back or would we gloss over their existence, learning nothing and spinning in a circle?  A merry-go-round can be fun, but for me it has only ever caused me to become a little disoriented with my surroundings and distort reality. In contrast, moving forward, even if it's an uphill climb and difficult, feels much better once at the top.  A conquering sense of accomplishment over an imperfection can be one of the most exhilarating experiences one can have.  Progress is positive, but we can't move forward without first being honest about where we are.
So here is the question:  where is the balance?  I believe it is a very fine line; trying to look for the positives and have hope while earnestly trying to improve ourselves, others, and our surroundings. Life can be overwhelming with hardship and uncertainty.  I think the simple idea of only being positive can bring momentary peace of mind, but feels disingenuous when there is so much that can be improved on.  It also seems to take away a sense of empowerment and responsibility, that you have within you the ability to change something....anything really, but must simply accept what is and look at only the good it has to offer whether it's overall value is a net positive or negative.  Plus, how marginalizing is it for another, when speaking of their own struggles, is told to only look for the good, instead of validating what could be a very painful existence?
I had a good friend share with me a blog post that takes a deeper look at how the illusion of or delusion that we are supposed to be "happy" all the time can be limiting and detrimental.  You can find it here:…/01/27/cult-happy-tool-submission/ 
I have really tried to examine my own behavior when it comes to being positive or negative and have come to the conclusion that for me, the barometer will probably fluctuate.  There will be times when I am wallowing in self pity and need to adjust my sails and take in the positives that surround me because I am immensely blessed.  Then there will be other times, when it's uncomfortable, comes at a personal cost, or doesn't affect me at all but could help alleviate another's suffering, that it's necessary to shine a light on something less than sunny.  Ignorance is not always bliss.
I have a movie that I love.  I can watch it over and over and over and....  Anyway, I think it expresses exactly what I am talking about.  Here's a clip:
If you haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, you should.  If you have, watch it again and be inspired to look for the silver linings in life while also dealing with the hard stuff.  It's not about being perfect or appearing to be so, it's about striving to be better, to do better, and making this world a better place for all.  During some of the most difficult times is when the true beauty of life is revealed.  Excelsior!, my friends!! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pants, Prayers, and Priesthood

Over the past six months or so, in my cultural world, a lot has been made of these three subjects.  Many of you know exactly what I am talking about, but a few of my distant friends, not living along the I-15 corridor will be utterly confused.

In my world and from a very young age, I was taught/believed in very traditional gender roles - the father being a provider, overseer, and patriarch of a home, while the mother bore, nurtured, and taught children.  Both were divine callings from God and were the most important work one could do.  I was very much a traditional girl.  I loved playing with dolls, learning household chores and arts, and couldn't wait until the day I found my prince charming who would complete me.  I not only found comfort in the outlining of the role that was laid before me, I LOVED the idea.  I remember my mother teaching me and I, singing the words of a song; "When I grow up, I want to be a mother, and have a little, two little, three little, babies of my own.  Of all the jobs, for me, I'll choose no other.  I'll have a family.....four little, five little, six little blessings in my home."   As you can see, I literally took those words to heart.  I am a stay-at-home mother of six and it is MY calling.  As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that not all young girls feel/felt the way I did or had the same dreams I did. 

 This post is to acknowledge those girls/women, who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves "uncomfortable" or "unfit" for the callings presented to them from a very young age; not to demean those who embraced their calling, as I did, because to support and understand another's feelings, even if they differ from our own, doesn't mean that we have to abandon that which speaks to us.

I have one daughter, that from an early age didn't "fit".  Maybe this had to do with the fact that she was the only girl her age at church, maybe it's because she has a tendency to compare, but maybe it's simply because she came with a different set of talents, strengths, and interests than your traditional girl.  She waited in anticipation for Activity Days (the girls equivalent of Boy Scouts in our church) as she had watched her uncles be involved in Scouts; playing basketball, hiking, tying knots, scuba diving, and building things out of wood and metal....just to name a few.  Later I found out how disappointed and out of place she felt while making hair bows, jewelry, and writing/talking about her feelings.  None of these are her strong points or interested her in the slightest.  They only made her feel like something was wrong with her.  These activities also made it very apparent to her that she was different and that to be happy, she needed to conform to "love" these types of stereo-typical girl activities to be accepted and to prepare for her role as a homemaker/mother.  As we all know (in adulthood), not all mothers love to cook, craft, or are the "touchy-feely" type of women, but by the gender biases presented to her at a young age, her interpretation was to shame who she really was and to do her best to change.

About six months ago, there was a push, by a small group of ladies, to wear pants to church.  Traditionally, in my religion, women wear dresses to church.  This being deemed "their best dress".  This idea was proposed to show support of those who had felt marginalized over the years.  Some ladies feel their "best" in a dress (I being one), but some have felt very uncomfortable in a dress, not even like themselves.  On the onset, I found this to be a refreshing idea and since there is no hard and fast rule about what is to be worn on Sunday, only  "Church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don't counsel people beyond that", I saw no harm in it.  I also felt like trying to understand and support was a very Christlike thing to do.  Boy, was I wrong.  What followed were vicious back and forths over social media, death threats to those promoting the idea to wear "their best dress pants", and those offering support called to repentance.  I think this display of hostility against a cultural/social norm, not a rule, speaks volumes of the correlation found in my culture.

So, here we go again, with another push. This time for prayer equality in our upcoming General Conference where no woman has ever offered the opening or closing prayer.  There is no rule about this social norm either, but in 1978, then-church President Spencer W. Kimball did make an official statement allowing women to pray in sacrament meetings, saying "there is no scriptural prohibition against sisters offering prayers" and adding that it is "permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend." This has spawned another war of words over what is right for women in the church and what is wrong; where there is room for equality and where there isn't, and what equality looks like.

I am also aware of a petition going around to move the church in a direction of granting women the right to hold the priesthood.  This is a very touchy subject to most and one that I am not going to really get into.  I will say that child-bearing has long been held as woman's equivalent gift to the man's priesthood gift.  Unlike a woman's gift of child-bearing, given to her (and all women for that matter, regardless of faith, unless physically impossible) just by her mere genetic make-up, a man's ability to hold the priesthood is a validation of his morality.  She can share in his priesthood through marriage, but can't directly address God in the same way as her spouse.  So what is a woman's equivalent to a man's gift of fatherhood???  Just wondering?

Since I am inactive in my faith, I didn't take part in the Wear Pants to Church day.  Although, if I were active, I like to think that I would have had the courage to show up wearing my pants, even though I realize there would be a social price to pay.  I am inactive for my own reasons and don't fit into other proverbial "boxes".  So, when the reaction to questions that push the social norm, is "if you don't like it, just leave the church", be aware that it is people like me that you are asking to leave.  People that have invested.  People that have loved and served.  People that want to bring their best selves and share, even if they don't exactly fit.  People that believe that sometimes asking questions is what moves us forward. People that long to be a part of what has made them who they are.  People who love the gospel and are willing to endure the social fallout, because of the good that they see there...

or maybe, like me, they will eventually just get tired of trying to fit, being judged for it, take your advice, and just stay home next Sunday.  Don't be too surprised.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Over the past decade or so, through personal and professional decisions (not that I/we are professional at anything, but farming is our profession), I have been introduced and exposed to new ideas and thoughts.  This has been such a lovely experience for me - to meet new people, hear diversity of thought, and to view all aspects of my life through new eyes.  
You see, I live in a conservative, monochromatic, small community.  Not that we don't have our share of town kooks and weirdos (I, probably being one of them).  It is a great place to live.  A safe place.  A place I love.  Yet, when anyone attempts to do anything "outside the box", questions arise.  "Why do things differently?", "Isn't the status quo good enough for you?",  "Do you think you are better than the rest of us?", are all things said when new thought or behavior is introduced.  I think this is a natural human reaction, so I am not being disparaging.  I am just acknowledging that a lot of diversity of thought doesn't arise in a community filled with people of the same religious, economic, and cultural backgrounds.  Sometimes new views or thoughts are met with fear, simply out of ignorance.

This became very apparent for me in San Fransisco, while I was there chaperoning a high school band/orchestra trip.  San Fransisco is such the opposite of Preston, Idaho.  Instead of fields of corn, there were rows of houses.  In lieu of snow capped mountains reaching skyward, there were skyscrapers.  There were bridges instead of barns.  All of which fascinated me.
I was also fascinated by the talk I overheard on the bus.  I was surrounded by talk of "I would hate to live here", "it is so ugly here", "why would anyone want to live here?".  I, myself, probably wouldn't want to live in San Fransisco, but it does have some things my little town just can't offer.
  I am not sure how the kids felt when I tried to change their attitude of fear into one of inquiry.   They might have just wanted the old lady to be quiet.  Regardless, we talked of the music scene there, the diversity of cultures, and how nice the weather was year round.  I tried to point out the nice things about what we were experiencing and hopefully they could see that different doesn't have to be a comparison.  Different doesn't have to mean bad.  It can just mean different.

I really love the picture I posted above.  Why?  Because it symbolizes this whole thought for me.  We all have things we value: things we like and dislike, things we believe and reject, and things that are important to us.  Those things are what defines us as individuals -  it's the rock that is our foundation.   But what I have experienced and what I believe, is that our foundation should never inhibit us from building bridges to others:  other cultures, other religions, other views, and other ways of life.  There is value there.  If not for us, for those living that existence.  To demean their way of life, simply because it is different, without first trying to understand and learn from it, is to demean them as human beings. 

I took this picture while on our tour of Alcatraz.  It is a good reminder to me that out of the most dismal, desolate places, beauty can grow.  That the positive can be found in all kinds of places, if you are willing to look for it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Personal Inversion

It's been awhile since I have blogged.  Not that anyone can tell, but I have had an aversion to even logging into my blog.  Why?  I don't know.  I guess sometimes we just need a break from things....even good things.  It's been a nice outlet for me to blog, but lately, I have felt less than inspired to do anything.  What is wrong with me?

I hear a lot of people talk about having Spring Fever.  I suppose that is what you call it when you are ailing from a longing for sunshine, green grass, and the ability to go outside without your nose hairs freezing.  (Or is it when you start feeling more frisky than normal?)  Anyway, I'm not sure if this is what is causing me to want to jump out of my skin or if it's my lack of desire/creativity.

The only way to describe how I feel, is to say that I feel trapped.  Trapped in my house, trapped by the weather, trapped by my responsibilities, and trapped by my own attitude.  Yes, I feel like Randy in that obnoxious snow suit and I want to yell through my suffocating scarf, "I can't put my arms down"!

Sometimes I wonder if this funk I am feeling isn't weather induced, but is due to my age.  Don't women have "issues" around forty?  Can I blame it on my hormones?  Those poor hormones seem to get blamed for more than their fair share....but then again, they do cause us all so much suffering, why not blame them?  Could it be a midlife crisis?  Hell, I hope not!!

On my path to recovery, I saw this posted to my friend's facebook wall.  It seemed to resonate and I shared it there, so sorry for the repeat here.

I commented on her post, as did other friends.  One lady had this to say "Why? "Busy" to me implies accomplishing things, being involved. What does it mean to you if you find it negative?" 

 I went on to explain, that to me, "busy" is doing without purpose.  She followed up my comment with "So what do you call doing WITH purpose?".  This got me to thinking.....and evaluating the feelings of frustration that I have been struggling with lately.  I still haven't come up with a word that would describe "doing with purpose", but I do know that I want to live "with purpose".

As I looked at the things that have occupied my time lately, I realized that I have been living with an imbalance in my life.  The scale's a little heavy on the busy side and light on the purpose side.  I need an adjustment.  This is what I have been trying to achieve, as of late.

So why my break from blogging?  I guess like a lot of other endeavors, it started out fun and then it turned into a "to-do", and finally it felt like a burden.  With all the other "to-do"s that I can't ignore, this was one of the first to go.  I guess I have realized that I shouldn't feel like I have to blog, I should just do it when I feel like I want to or when there is a "purpose".

I do realize that as long as my life is filled with children, it will also be filled with some kind of "busy".  This is unavoidable and a small price to pay for those sarcastic, crazy, fun, lovely creatures that are my kids, but I am ready to do a little spring cleaning of the unnecessary, non-purpose things that somehow have found their way onto the "to-do" list and clutter my mind and my well-being.

So, I am going to open the window, let the fresh air of optimism and creativity fill the corners of my cluttered mind and blow off the dust of monotony.  I will plan fun adventures with my friends, take time to watch good movies, and see the value and beauty of being still. 

 Don't all hamsters need a break from their wheel at least once in awhile?

(Did I just equate myself to a rodent?  Wow - that's an all time low...)

*Also, I would love to hear your word/words for "doing with purpose". 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

At Last

How could I pass up, on this, the day of love, the chance to post my most very favorite love song of all time?  I LOVE this song and it's simplicity.

And how could I not dedicate it to the guy who makes my life worth while and still can make me smile?  Love you, Dave.  Thanks for blessing me with a life full of kids, laughs, adventure, meaning, joy, and LOVE.  Here's to us!!

  We all define our own relationships and what it means to show true love.  Some show it with expensive gifts or big productions, but some choose to show it in little ways everyday.  Thanks, David, for making sure I feel loved everyday.  Your quiet, patient way, without need of recognition, means so much.  You see the "real" me and my potential.  Thanks for always encouraging me to be daring, live life to it's fullest, and support me in all my crazy endeavors.  I love you more than you will ever know.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!!  Here's hoping that you've found your true love and enjoy a day celebrating that special someone.