Mar 31, 2009

Scifi and the Church

Several years ago, I went to a scifi convention in Pensacola and met a man that was selling two of a three volume set of LDS scifi short stories. He told me that the LDS church frowned on scifi and that these had been banned in Utah. I only chuckled to myself and replied that since I was LDS and into scifi maybe I had better look into the situation.

For fun I bought the books. They are terrific. One story is about a guy building a time machine so he can "peek" in on Joseph Smith's first uttered prayer and how the machine could never get it right so in the end he realized God was keeping that sacred.

One of the stories was about Cain and how he traveled the earth begging someone to kill him because he couldn't handle being alive. And of course God had promised him he would never be killed. Intriguing prospect to say the least.

The one that struck me the most was a "futuristic" theme wherein the last of the last days was upon us and the main characters were trying to travel to New Jerusalem for safety. They kept running into people who were evil but wise enough to know these travelers were going to a safe place. One of the bad guys or in this case girl had been an animal lover in the sense that she preferred animals over people. A sort of PETA and abortion activist.

Needless to say all the stories were well written, provoked interesting ideas and stayed fairly true to gospel principles. I suspect my "friend" at the scifi convention was lying about them being banned. Over the years, more church members have embraced and written for scifi (which is different from fantasy). To my knowledge few of them have breached church standards.

I enjoy speculation but recognize it as speculation only. "The Knowing" offers up a fascinating prospect for the last of the last days. While I thought the "seeding" of other earths in the very last scene was too corny, I did marvel how close they came to getting it right. I mean after all who knows but that the lost 10 tribes might come hurdling out of the "north country" which turns out to be space. Battlestar Galactica and all.

In short, scifi has a rich home in LDS legend and doctrine and I for one am glad.

Mar 30, 2009

They Bring Joy To My Life Every Day

by Joyce DiPastena

I have a link on my Yahoo homepage called “The Daily Kitten”, where they post a “new kitten every day…at 3:07 pm”. Being a cat lover, I’ve been following this daily link for several years. People from all over the world post pictures of their kittens (always adorable, of course…is there any other kind?), along with a short commentary that shares how the kitten became part of their family or something unique about their kitten. They may look identical on the outside at times, but like snowflakes, it quickly becomes clear, as their “people” share their personality quirks, that no two kittens are truly alike.

What touches me the most is how each of these short commentaries invariably ends with some form of the following statement: “He is still my baby boy and the love of our lives!!” “He has just made our home happier.” “They bring us hours of enjoyment.” “We love her so much!”

I’m sure that somewhere on the internet is a similar website for puppies. Just last Sunday, I visited a woman in our ward and observed her joy in a new dog her married daughter had recently given to her and her husband. Even I, the cat lover, came home with memories of the dog, repeating over and over, “What a doll! What a doll!”

I have two cats of my own, no longer kittens, but I still echo the words above from the Daily Kitten. “He is still my baby boy!” “He has made my home happier.” “They bring me hours of enjoyment.” “I love her so much!” And I never let a morning or nightly prayer pass, that I don’t thank my Heavenly Father for the gift of their love and comfort and for the joy they bring into my life every day.

Yesterday morning, on Music and the Spoken Word, I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small.

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

How grateful I am that among these creatures, “great and small”, He has graced our human lives with the opportunity to live in loving companionship with some of his “bright and beautiful” creations!

Mar 29, 2009


The magic of Romance

I used to be a closet romance reader … now I do it out in the open! I used to be ashamed of what people might think if they knew I read ROMANCE … because after all, most of the books that are in the romance genre now a day’s are at least rated R, if not worse. But that is not what I read! AND I AM SHOUTING OUT LOUD FOR THOSE WHO FEEL LIKE I DO, that there IS quality romance! It is okay to read romance! I am writing today to give tribute to the valiant few who still write romance novels that are based on character development, true emotion, and clean relationships! Those who raise their heads up high and say I WILL NOT WRITE SMUT! THERE IS MORE TO RELATIONSHIPS THAN THE PHYSICAL STEAM THAT CAN BE CREATED BETWEEN TWO INDIVIDUALS! I salute YOU!

Don’t get me wrong, though, because these jewels are hard to find. I know that I have a 99.9% chance of picking up a book on the romance isle in the local book store that is going to be consumed by sex scenes, lack a real plot, and will leave me dissatisfied and disgruntled! The odds are that bad. I do not despair, though, for I know that even within our select group of ladies we have countless quality stories that ARE good, clean, character driven, wonderful romances!!

Why aren’t more of these stories on the bookshelves? Why are the gatekeepers (aka the publisher editors) NOT taking these stories on? Why does something have to have sex in order to sell??? Why is the stuff that is published such BAD WRITING when there are so many out there (so many in our own group) that write good, quality, clean stories?

It is because it is the Last Days!

It is! And we are on the battle fronts! Given the chance to stand up! FIGHT! And NOT give in! We must never give in! We must never despair! We are HERE, NOW, for a reason! We are compelled to write, inspired to put pen to paper, guided as to what words to use. It is real. And the battle is real. And every time we DO NOT give in, we win a small battle … no matter what the world (or the editors, or the publishers) might say.

This is OUR little war, ladies, so CONTINUE TO WRITE! Thumb your nose at those snotty editors. Do your best to BE your best and WRITE your best, and in the end, we WILL be rewarded … even if we never get published. What we must never do, though, is sacrifice our standards in hopes of finding an IN. This is a battle and WE WILL WIN IF WE ARE ON THE RIGHT SIDE! So, get ready … get pens to paper … and WRITE!!!!

Mar 28, 2009

The Gift of A Critique Group

By Christine Thackeray

I'm the Saturday blogger and I'm getting in with only a little more than an hour left in the day. Sunday has already written so I'm out of order, but I still wanted to say thank you for the gift of a great critique group.

This morning I left my family and drove to the next town over to a little house by the railroad tracks. In it were three other individuals. One is a smart-mouthed, cynical Midwestern who works at the casino. Another is a sweet office technician and newly married girl who has lived in Oregon all her life. The third is a message therapist who has turned her entire backyard into a garden so she can donate the produce to the local food bank. None of them are of my faith but they all share a love of writing. Our genres are as varied as our lives, but we spent six good hours reviewing each other's works, and if it wasn't for children, spouses and life pulling us back into the real world, we would have continued. I love this critique group.

On Thursday afternoons I go three blocks away to a little house with two preschoolers. The other cubleader comes along with one of her teenage daughters. Now and then we have another woman come and join us as well, and we plow through our writing, which includes a romance, youth lit and woman's fiction or non-fiction depending on the week. One of us is technically savvy, one is great at brightening up tone and sharpening descriptions and the other gets the big picture of things. Invariably, I learn something new each time I come to improve my craft.

Finally, this week as I struggled with my synopsis I put it on ANWA Critique. The suggestions helped me to seriously improve it. New eyes are such a gift as they see things I never would have considered. How grateful I am for ANWA and the great writers I've met through this group, women I never would have otherwise met.

Writing is a lonely business. The creating is primarily done alone, but I have found that critiquing is a very helpful step. Some writers may find they don't need it, but many writers thrive on having the comraderie of a strong critique group to give them direction and insight... and maybe even a bit of inspiration.

Mar 27, 2009

Memorial Poem

By Kristine John

I had the privilege this week of reading an original poem aloud in front of an elementary school audience.
The assembly I attended was in honor of a dear friend, Susan Ludwig, who lost her battle with breast cancer in December 2008.
She and I met each other in 1992 when I started teaching at V.E. Johnson Elementary school in the Mesa School District.
It only took a semester to begin a friendship that will last eternally, and I felt honored that the teachers and staff at the school would remember our friendship and ask us to share a portion of our heart (through poetry, which Susan loved) with them at Susan's memorial.
The ceremony included the placement and dedication of a meditation bench, and incorporated storytelling and other elements that were important to Susan.
Tonight, I share the poem that my husband and I wrote together here with you dear ANWA sisters.

By Patrick and Kristine John

Ms. Ludwig as teacher,
Susan as friend,
A blessing to know her
A true friend to the end

Spiky, blond hair
And happy, warm smile
A ready quick chuckle
She’d listen awhile

A true love for teaching,
And for student’s success,
She gave what she asked for:
Always her best.

She taught my first child
The whole alphabet
My two year old boy
While she babysat

Many summers more,
She sat and she gave,
Tutoring children
Life’s road she helped pave.

She fought a brave battle
And never lost hope
She showed us her courage
She was not one to mope.

God called her home early
Which caused us to ache
For the friend that won’t be there
And memories we won’t make.

In honor of Ms. Ludwig,
Let me propose
Some lessons she taught us
Before I soon close.

Let us chuckle more often,
Let us laugh well and tease,
Let us work hard for others,
And want them to succeed.

Let us treat others kindly,
Of others think first,
Become strong and thoughtful,
Do not think the worst.

Live life for today,
And do what you should,
For tomorrows don’t come,
although we wish that they would.

Let us give what she asked of us:
Always our Best!
Let us live life with courage
And a kind little jest.

Mar 25, 2009

Happy things, and quotes from Charles' scriptures.

by Anna Arnett

To quote Randy Pausch again, "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want." (Or something like that.)  Today I got more experience than I'd hoped for.  The day started out fine.  By noon I'd finished my pressing chores and prepared to blog.  After debating on a subject for some time, I named several, but really finished only one.  Handwritten notes in my husband's large-print triple combination, the one he used on our temple mission in Australia, 1987-89.

I drafted my blog, then edited it three times, and felt immensely pleased. However, in the editing, I somehow gained a second copy.  No problem.  I'd delete one of them.  That's when I got EXPERIENCE.  I used the copy and delete buttons, but when I went to post, I found everything gone.  My paste gave me only a short paragraph I'd edited to a different spot.

So what did I do?  I went shopping and bought a new skirt.  For the next six hours I did only what I felt like doing, which was practically nothing.  Now, at bedtime, my conscience is getting the best of me, and I'm starting my blog all over again.  I hope to finish by midnight.

Four subjects I wanted to brag about, until I decided bragging is a form of pride and pride is a sin.  So I only mentioned them as family things I'm happy about or (in terms Heavenly Father used when 'bragging' about his Son)  about which "I am well pleased."  These things were:  

(1) Mark's "Baby Boomerang" will be showing at the Phoenix Film Festival Monday, April 5.  Yippee. 

(2) Paul arranged for the AZ Liberators group (B-24 vets and families) luncheon to be at the Diamondback stadium with publicity at the game, and some ticket rebate donated to the Arnett Institute (our non-profit historical organization, with emphasis on the non). 

(3) Grandson Christopher's innovative membership day spa is about to open a second location, this one in Gilbert.  

(4) My three oldest are still putting together presentations on their January re-enactment of the Prisoner of War march from Stalag Luft III, now back in Poland, to Spremberg, Germany -- a distance of over sixty miles -- with a dozen other 'kriegie kids' whose fathers or grandfathers had covered in 1945, the coldest days on record, in a night, a day, and a second night.  This group took three days with hotel stops and a chartered bus tagging along behind.  Nevertheless, I'm not only pleased with them, but a trifle envious.  "Mom, you'd never have made it."  (Did I blog about this before, or only think about it?)

If any of you want to know more about the any of the above, just ask with a comment and, since I love comments, I promise to answer in whatever detail you ask for.  I'll probably opt for email answers.  After all, how many (other than that particular blog's author) go back to old blogs and read all the comments?  I'd really like to know.  Wouldn't you?  I'd hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Now for the main blog.  Actually, I only discovered these quotes this morning.  I use my own scriptures. I'm transcribing them,  just as I found them, the ten numbered ones on the the inside of the back cover, others scattered on the front few pages, wherever he found a blank spot.

1.  If we never start, we will never succeed.  If we never quit, we will never fail.

2.  A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is always long enough.  Charles W. Arnett.  These were words intended for comfort, written to Reg and Daisy Boulton upon notification of the death of their daughter Kathy McMullin, in giving birth to her second child.  The child also did not survive.

3.  What you are to be, you are now becoming.

4.  "It ain't what a man don't know that makes him a fool, it's what he knows that ain't so."  (Edmonds, "Through Temple Doors," p. 75) - Josh Billings

5.  Truth is that which temporarily has the appearance of permanence."  Nat'l mag. 1st place (the Farm Magazine, Oct 1927)
Truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come. - Joseph Smith.

6.  The church we do not want to be in:
   a.  Museum style - where you go only as a spectator.
   b. Hairdresser style - where they split every hair four ways.
   c.  Service station style - where you go just to get filled  up.
   d.  Sleeping car style - where the passengers don't want to be disturbed.
   e.  Refrigerator style - where the chill drives out newcomers.

7.  It is better to aim for the stars and miss it than to aim for the gutter and hit it.

8.  I believe all I read in the Bible that I can understand; the rest I accept on faith -- Abraham Lincoln.

9.  A man who submits against his will is of the same opinion still.

10.  It is easy to discipline without love and it is easy to love without discipline, but it is required of us to discipline with love and love with discipline.

"Stand up for freedom, no matter what the cost.  It can save your soul and maybe your country."  Pres. Ezra Taft Benson

"Half the world is composed of those who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." - Robert Frost

We cannot become celestialized by being good, but by doing good. - doug Howard

1877 times, "And it came to pass . . . "

"The opportunity for service seldom, if ever, comes at a convenient time."  CWA

No one nor any thing can make you angry unless you choose to let it.

All of us want to succeed; some want to succeed badly enough to work for it.

The flowers of all our tomorrows are in the seeds of today.

Those who bear sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

Eternal progression takes us to perfection.

It's wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing things - Thomas Jefferson

The bathtub was invented in 1840, and the telephone in 1876.  Just imagine those wonderful 36 years of being able to take a bath without the phone ringing.

Mar 24, 2009

Hey, Universe...

by Valerie Ipson

It's one of those things you try to hide. You don't tell your spouse or your sister or best friend. Even when the topic turns to goals and dreams, you don't mention it. You barely admit it to yourself. Your writing group is usually the first to know.

But I was at the dentist with children last week and the lady behind the desk I'll call Sandy, because that's her name, asked if I was still writing. (She knows I write for the Beehive). I said yes, and then I blurted, "I'm writing a novel." Because she asked, I then told her what it was about. This has been happening with more and more frequency over the last several months, so, yes, I've pretty much outed myself. I've told the universe that I am writing a novel.

This all started at the writer's retreat last July, when Joan Sowards happened by my little computer table, noticed the first chapter of my manuscript and asked to read it. I didn't know what to say, but yes, so she did and that led to me actually allowing others to read it--members of my writing chapter and even Kerry Blair, who, for the record, gave positive feedback. I went on to even allow my husband to read the first few chapters and I caught my 15-year-old son reading it off the computer the other night when he should have been in bed. Now it has become a not-so-far-out-there proposition. Mom's writing a novel and she wants to publish it. It could happen.

I like how it feels to be doing something I've wanted to do for a very long time (my story idea first came to me in 1997--at least my earliest notes on it are from that time period) and that people seem to be fine with it and are even supportive. (Check the acknowlegements when my book is published, you'll all be mentioned!)

Anyway, it's very freeing to just let it out. You should try it. I daresay the universe is waiting to hear from you!

Mar 23, 2009

Who wants to read MY stuff?

By Stacy Johnson

We pulled the family together for our weekly tradition of "Family Movie Night" lastnight. My daughter and I were anticipating finally pulling all the boys together and making them watch Twilight with us. They haven't been as excited as we have been. They got it into their heads a long time ago that they didn't want to watch any "love stories" for our family movie night. It didn't matter how many times we explained to them how exciting and action packed it was, they were determined to not enjoy it.

My youngest kids didn't have school today, so we started the movie later than normal lastnight. My oldest son, who goes to a different school district, and had to be to school this morning, said he would start watching with us, but he would be going to be early that night and wouldn't be able to finish watching it with us. About a half an hour into the movie, I told him he ought to go to bed; he ignored me. I reminded him one more time, just before the scene where they played baseball; he ignored me again. When the movie was over, he finally pulled himself together and headed to bed. When I asked him how he liked the movie, he responded with a wry little smile and said, "I knew I wasn't going to like that movie." I knew he would.

It caused me to wonder if Stephanie Meyer knew the magnitude of what her story would become? Don't get me wrong, I know she believed in her book, but did she dream that it would be come a major motion picture? (Maybe she did, I know I believe in the power of positive thinking) Did she think that she would have throngs of fans sitting in the WalMart, even in the po-dunk town of Queen Creek, waiting with their magic blue ticket so they could buy the movie at midnight? Or, that the book would be so well received by not only teenage girls, but that those girls' moms would start fan groups on Facebook and MySpace? And now that it is a movie, consider all the boys who are watching it and liking it? I know it took me a really long time to finally read those books because I didn't think I could get caught up in a "vampire love story."

I am now considering all the book ideas I have had and how I shrugged them aside, thinking that my idea wasn't good enough, or it wouldn't reach a large enough audience. How can I possibly know the impact it could have. Thank heavens for all those great authors out there who keep on writing, because they believed in their stories. I need to believe in myself more and just get it down on paper, wether I think it will become a best seller or not. We all need to.

I have to go now, my parenting book about a mother who is out of control needs some real life stories to add to it and I can see a story brewing in the kitchen...

Mar 22, 2009

Spreading the word

by Marsha Ward

Since I'm on the road today, I prepared beforehand, and here's my thoroughly shameless plug:

Go buy my new novel, Trail of Storms. Do it tomorrow.

Here's a teaser:

"After her sister suffers a brutal attack, Jessie Bingham and her family flee post-Civil War Virginia and endure a perilous trek to New Mexico Territory. When she hears her former sweetheart, James Owen, has taken a wife, Jessie accepts Ned Heizer's marriage proposal on the condition they wait until journey's end to wed. But then Jessie encounters James again . . . and he isn't married now!

In her third novel about the Owen family, author Marsha Ward reunites Jessie Bingham and James Owen in a tangle of bewildering values and emotions, and high adventure."

Trail of Storms can be found on and, and by now it may also be at other online booksellers.

If that doesn't convince you, go to my blog or and watch the book trailer.

Can you feel that tingle, the tickle in your toes? The throb in your heart? BUY THE BOOK! I doubt you'll be sorry.

Mar 21, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

By Cindy R. Williams

I have a new book idea. It will be something along the lines of "Out of the Mouth of Babes, or "We Can Be Taught." It will be short stories of real life examples of lessons parents learn from children. The following will be one of the experiences for my book.

A few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon, I was driving to my son's high school basketball game with my eight-year-old son. I was stressed out about my upcoming weekend. My very wise little boy sat in the middle seat of the van listening quietly to me as I planned out loud, speaking mostly to myself, about how I had to attend the yearly ANWA General Board Meeting Saturday at 10:00, but a lovely elderly man in our ward had just passed away. His widow called and asked if I would play my harp at his funeral at that same time as the ANWA meeting. She said her husband loved to hear me play and would I please play for him one last time. Of course I would.

I had notified the Board that I would be late for the meeting---two hours late. After playing my harp at the funeral, and attending the end of the ANWA meeting, two of my sons had basketball games that afternoon. Then I was hosting a family barbecue that evening. Sunday, our Sacrament Meeting is at 8:00, and I was one of the speakers. My topic was "Becoming a consecrated Disciple of Christ." I had already prepared my talk, but one still has nerves to deal with. Directly after Sacrament, I would have to hurry home and once again pack up my harp. The "Heavenly Seven," our little ANWA musical group that formed at last summer's Retreat, was performing in a ward in Mesa.

I finished my walk through of my plans for the next two days with a heavy sigh and said, "I will sure be glad when this weekend is over." My inspired little boy said in a sure, quiet voice, "Look at it this way Mom, look at all the service you are giving."

My heart melted. Out of the mouth of babes. That was exactly what I needed to hear. From that point on, I looked at my busy weekend as an opportunity to serve others, and all the worry and stress floated away. I said a prayer in my heart while driving, thanking my Father in Heaven for my wise little son. I learned much about becoming a consecrated Disciple of Jesus Christ from my son. It turned out to be a lovely weekend full of service, peace and the Spirit.

Mar 20, 2009

PVC and Me

By Sarah Albrecht

Last Friday I bought four five-foot lengths of 2-inch diameter PVC pipe, three connectors, and one set of PVC primer and glue at Lowe’s. It sounds simple but that was also the day I had about 1,543 other things to do, plus all my kids were with me and my ten-year-old found a great hideout under the shelves and my four-year-old kept screaming at the (innocent, of course) older kids.

That night while everyone watched Spongebob I opened the family room window for ventilation, brought in the pipe and primed it with noxious purple primer, then glued on the connectors with a cute little pompom of a brush. Never having primed or glued pipe before, I felt quite proud.

The job had to be done Friday, you see, because Saturday was Nature Trail Work Day at my son’s elementary school, and, lack of knowledge and experience aside, I chair the nature trail committee. During the work day we planned to dig an arroyo to channel water from the bus bay to the pollinating garden we’re planting. We would dig one retention basin on each side of the garden to hold the redirected water. We would dig a narrow trench between the basins, into which we would lay my pipe so the water could flow from one basin to the next, as a water harvesting expert had advised.

Saturday morning I arrived early, tools and plants and wheelbarrow and pipe rattling around the back of our 1996 Ford pickup. I had to glue the pipe lengths together so the pipe would be ready when needed. Turns out three lengths fit between the basins, so we had one pipe left over. Not a bad error. Could have been worse, I thought.

I finished gluing and left my pipe lying between the projected basins. About that time a volunteer family arrived with a landscape-savvy dad. I told him our extensive digging plans, then pointed out my lovely pipe. “Thing’s gonna be full of silt in a year,” he said. “Now don’t get fancy. Just dig another arroyo over to the other basin.” My face carefully bland, I said, “Sure, that makes sense, we can do that,” while in my head I screamed, “Do you know what I went through for that pipe laying right there?”

Fortunately I was in the midst of reading Three Cups of Tea, a book about former mountaineer Greg Mortenson’s efforts to build schools in Pakistan. Due to trial and error, it took him three years to build the first school. Subsequent schools took three months. My little pipe was nothing like building a whole school, but the reminder was the same: mistakes, often time-consuming ones, are essential to learning. In fact, they function like springs, drawing one back in compressed discouragement, yet, if released, able to launch one forward further than was possible before.

From water harvesting to writing, I’ll take a deep, cleansing breath and keep that in mind.

Mar 19, 2009

Communication at the Speed of Light

by Stephanie Abney

We are busy people… probably TOO busy. Yet, I haven’t a clue what I could possibly leave out since there are so many things that I feel like I should do, that I seldom find time to do. So, whenever we have lessons on gratitude and people raise their hands with all of the obvious answers of love, family, gospel, prophets, temples, freedom, and so on, I say a hardy, “Amen.” And then I raise my hand and tell everyone that I am grateful modern electronic technology. That’s the absolute truth. I do it every time. I LOVE email, blogs, cell phones, voicemail, online photo albums, FACEBOOK, and the like. I’ve even learned how to text.

The thing that I love best about all of the above is that I can use them completely on my own terms and my own timetable. I read my email (and reply) when it suits me. The same applies for voicemail or checking out my FACEBOOK pages. And while I was sleeping, or teaching or traveling or whatever… someone left me a message or a link or some information that I need or want and when I get to where and/or when I want to look at it or listen to it, I am free to do so, even if it is in the middle of the night!

When our son, BJ, was so ill with leukemia, there were well over a hundred people who wanted to know how he was doing. Blogs did not yet exist as that would have been the best, I think. But I used email to stay in touch with everyone, even people in my own family, neighborhood and ward. It made it so that I did not have to repeat all the details over and over (which I could have never endured) and everyone knew what was happening, how they could help, what prayers were needed, etc. The support that poured in and surrounded us like a comfortable quilt carried us through the most difficult days of our lives. I wrote everything out once (which became my only journal of those times) and I clicked on all of the addresses and “poof” people all over the country (and even a couple out of the country) were thinking of us and our sweet BJ. I cannot tell you how much their reply emails helped us on several different levels.

From I reconnected with a few of my dearest friends in high school… and thirty years after our glory days, we met up in Hawaii for eight days of heaven on earth. We all remain in touch today and wish for matching schedules that would allow us to go to Hawaii again!

I’ve hooked up with former classmates, ward members and friends from the past through FACEBOOK and find it useful in keeping up with all of them (including family members). I also think part of the spirit of Elijah is being fulfilled as connection after connection occurs all over the world. It’s a wonderful thing.

So, yes, I’m grateful for electronic technology. However, it can’t take the place of the personal touch. Just yesterday I went visiting teaching and gave my sister a card that read on the cover, “In this fast-paced, busy world, when you need friend, just pick up the phone and call me…”

Inside it said: “And leave a message after the beep.”

Mar 18, 2009

It's a date

by Marielle Carlisle

I’ve made it a goal this year to write something everyday, or to at least LOOK at what I’m working on to refresh my mind on my current progress. I chose this as my main goal because I get lazy. So far I’ve found it hard getting into the habit.

I told my fabulous friend Wendy about my goal, and she told me something that I’ve really taken to heart. She said “Your muse needs to know when to show up!” I just love that. When I’m tired and about to collapse into bed after a 16 hour day of kids, I think “My muse! She’s expecting me.” I can’t just stand her up; that would be impolite. Even though she’s fickle and unpredictable, I have to give her the opportunity to speak to me.

So tonight I’ve got a date with my muse. I just hope she shows up.

Mar 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

I have an assignment. Since writers are generally researchers can anyone give the true story of St. Patrick? I'll be checking to see if anyone googled it or knew it. And yes I do. Half my family history is Irish, the other half German. So it's a big holiday for us.

Mar 16, 2009

Writing Education

by Joyce DiPastena

I'm feeling totally traumatized by a new calling from my bishop, and since I can't blog about it until I'm sustained next week and I'm too stunned to be able to think of anything else to blog about, I'll just share with you two writing-related thoughts my sister received at a genealogy conference she attended this week. This came from a lecture on writing genealogy, but I think it can apply to all writing:

Expect the writing process to be a college education.
Expect the editing and publishing process to be a graduate education.

So, let's all go out there and get ourselves educated! (I'll join you, just as soon as I finish feeling traumatized, but that could be awhile.)

Mar 15, 2009

The following was written when I was feeling a bit depressed about my writing skills. I had not written anything for quite a while, and I saw so many talented sisters around me doing so much that one day I came home and wrote this. Life is a great adventure full of ups and downs and I wouldn't miss one bit of it!! :)

Talent surrounds me but what do I do?
Sit at my home and I mournfully stew.
Never to reach for these heights by myself,
Of grandeur such, yet I sit on my shelf.

A FAKE, so I feel, feasting on others,
Credit I take, dear sisters and brothers.
Oh, who am I, should I simply give up
And look back on this with bridled disgust?

I wanted something that’s greater than grand
Novels, and poems with glory to stand
In front of the crowd, no fake would I be
But can I, oh can I have it in me?

I’ll practice and toil and never give up,
Not content not to grow to greater stuff.
The greatest, no, but I want Him to see
I’ll give all I have for the talents in me.

Mar 14, 2009

What My Mother Taught Me

By Christine Thackeray

The theme in Primary this month is on the Family. For sharing time they invited me and a few other mothers to stand behind a curtain and then asked us questions like on the dating game to see if the children could guess which mother we were. At the end as we walked out and exposed our true identities we were each asked one more question. Mine was what did your mother teach you?

My mother was a great woman. She raised twelve children, was constantly serving and wrote books as a hobby. She had twelve published with four being national releases. My mother passed away last year. My mind raced to try to choose which of the many things I'd share with the Primary but looking at their smiling faces, it was clear. My mother taught me to love children. She revelled in their beauty and the thrill of old things new in their eyes. She loved watching the emerging of personality and how small moments were made huge. She loved to hug and comfort and direct. She loved children and I love children, too.

A few days later I went to knew beginnings with my two daughters. I have an eleven year old who is so excited to turn twelve and a sixteen year old who is so excited about everything. The leaders had asked a number of women to stand and talk about their past mutual experience. One woman did an incredible job. She went through the history of the program as it had changed and showed the old bandelo's where you got a diamond stud for each article of faith learned. She talked about the busy bees and the M&M Gleaners which sounds like candy. She came from a less active family and said how it was the young women's program that made her decide that she wanted to marry someone who would take her to the temple, which she did and has a beautiful family of valient children as a result. She ended by reading a poem that spoke of the importance of sharing compliments. Of telling someone when they did well on a talk or that you liked what they were wearing.

That was another thing my mother taught me. Mother gave the best compliments. They were always specific and heartfelt. In her later years I came home to visit and after church it was almost comical to watch her say goodbye for far longer than anyone else, telling each person who had participated what she liked about their leasson and approaching everyone she knew who was struggling to see how they were doing. It was exhausting but beautiful at the same time. Too often I don't say the positive things I really think.

The last thing my mother taught me was how to tell a good story. When we went on family vacations we often would ask my mother to tell a story. Her tales of knights and castles or more contemporary dilemnas of girls trying to find their place in the world would take up hours, many times half the trip and we would be enthralled the entire way. Once I asked her how she did it. She said that when she began a story she had a clear concept of what she wanted you to feel with the last sentence and every word she spoke was designed to bring you there.

Oftentimes when I get stuck on a chapter with the bane of writer's block, it's because I've lost sight of my goal- how the reader feels with that last sentence. Invariably, when I work with a clear goal in mind, I write better.

Now, if I was a great writer I'd have some quippy sentence that would pull this all together in a bow, but I don't. I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that when we have people like my mother and sweet Marsha Ward who drives so many parts of ANWA and people like Liz Adair who share their talents so openly, it makes a huge difference in everything we do and I, for one, am truly grateful.

Mar 13, 2009

It's Not About the Bread

By Kristine John

As Mormon women, we spend an immense amount of time serving others.
Charity is a virtue we are encouraged to embrace and then imbue from the time we enter Relief Society at age 18 on throughout the rest of our lives.
Many times, we have been taught ways to show love to others beginning at the knees of our own mothers, and in turn, desire to teach our own children how to reach out and serve with the pure love of Christ.

It was just last week that a sister in my ward brought by a loaf of bread for our family.
All 9 of us had been sick for about a week, and receiving a loaf of warm, sweet-smelling bread was a pure blessing.
As the sister kindly handed me the bread, my mind went back to an experience I had about 4 years ago that helped solidify in my mind that charitable giving really isn't about the gift, it's about the pure love that is extended through such an act of charity.

In May of 2005, a new sister moved into our ward in Silver City, NM.
I had often seen families and sisters move into our ward, and had always striven to make an extra effort to welcome them with a kind word and offer any help that they might need while they were at church.
Truly, beyond that, I felt that other sisters or families could fill in with the friendshipping and kindness in the neighborhood.
(After all, I had my hands full with many children, including my newborn 6th child!)

This time however, I could not shake the recurrent promptings that I needed to do something more for this family.
As a homemaker, I have come to find that I love to bake, and I quickly decided that I would bake some extra dessert that night and run it over to the new family.
Unfortunately, that night, our dessert flopped.
The cookies I made were burned and, in my mind, ungiftable.
I determined that I would try again in a couple of days.

The next time I pulled out my grandmother's strawberry bread recipe.
I had recently discovered it in my files, and had yet to try making it.
Remembering the delectable, moist, fruity bread, I was excited to not only make this treat for my family, but also to share something unique with the new ward members.
I carefully measured, dumped and stirred, determined to follow the recipe to the letter therefore ensuring a perfect end product.
I watched the timer carefully, tested the bread with a toothpick, and finally, as it tested done, pulled it from the oven.
As I twisted the pans to loosen the strawberry bread, I notice that there was cooking oil oozing form the top of the bread.
My grandmother's strawberry bread had never looked like this!
Again, the end product, in my mind was not appropriate to give away.

Disheartened, I debating just not trying again.
I was a good baker, and yet twice in just as many days, my baking had failed and I was disappointed in myself, and my cooking skills.
It was a quiet persistent prompting that encouraged me to try one more time.

Calling on my tried and true recipes, I pulled out the bread recipe that I had used for years.
This was the bread that fed my family when we couldn't afford to buy a loaf at the store.
I had made hundreds of these loaves, and I was convinced that this time, I would have an acceptable end product, one that could be shared with love.
I watched the bread carefully, wanting to ensure it would be "just right".
When the timer on the oven rang, I quickly walked over to pull the bread from the oven.
In one glance, my heart sank.
My loaves of bread had not risen appropriately in the oven and I was looking at nice browned but relatively flat loaves of bread.

I took the bread out of the oven, turned it onto cooling racks, and started buttering the tops of the loaves.
Upon closer inspection, I decided that this bread, while in my mind, not perfect, was definitely edible, and would suffice as a gift for the family I had in mind.
I wrapped the warm bread, prepared it for gift giving, and headed with it, and my family out to our car.

As we pulled up to the curb, I told my husband, "I'll just run the bread up to the door. Most people are a little intimidated when they see 6 kids."
I grabbed the bread, walked across the street and knocked on the door.
I'll never forget the explanation I gave this sweet sister as I handed her the fresh baked but flat loaf of bread,
"I need to give this to you. I know it's not the best bread I've ever made because it's flat, but I've tried 3 different times to bake something for you, and none of it has turned out. I know, though, that I'm supposed to bring you something, so here's this loaf of bread."
I was embarrassed at that point, and therefore, rambling as I explained.

The sister graciously took the bread, invited me in, AND invited my family in.
She was at a point in her life where she had been hurt deeply by people in the last city where she lived and she needed to feel valued and loved, especially in the middle of a move.
As we put groceries away from her recent trip to Wal-Mart, we talked about numerous things, and began a friendship that endures to this day.
That loaf of bread opened the door to a friendship that began healing in her heart, and blessed my life as well.

It wasn't an experience I remember because of the bread.
It's an experience I remember because of the impact that that act of service had on her life.

Truly, it's not about the bread.
It's about love, sisterhood, and extending yourself.
It truly can make all the difference.

Mar 12, 2009

Catching the "Write" Ideas

by Kari Diane Pike

I wrote the most amazing blog today. Just as I tried to post it...I lost it! (See me banging my head on the table.) Now it's 5:45 and time to take kids to soccer and I still haven't posted anything...heavy will get the condensed, much less creative version.

Years ago, I wrote a story. I know, big surprise, considering this blog is written by writers. I loved my story so much, I submitted it to Deseret Book for an anthology they intended to publish. Deseret Book did not love my story. Shocking! Discouraged, I put my story away. Every couple of years I took my story out, dusted it off and tried to fix my story. I changed a word here, a comma there...and told my story how perfectly wonderful it was.

Fast forward to the 2009 ANWA conference. In a surreal moment of truth, I saw my story in all its flaws. Although friends tried to tell me how to fix my story, it took the right person in the right place, saying the right things at the right time. My heart needed to be in the "write" condition before I could find the "write" ideas to improve my story.

Today I caught a baby javelina with my bare hands (and a bath towel). Maybe I could add that to my story in a chapter called "Never Try This at Home." What do you think?

Mar 11, 2009

Amaryllis Block

by Anna Arnett

About mid December, I bought an amaryllis bulb at a drug store. I knew it was much too late for it to bloom by Christmas, but after all, I'd enjoy it any time. I potted it, watered it often, watched and waited for it to grow. It didn't.

Finally, sometime in January a tiny, green shaft pushed out of the brown bulb, and I rejoiced. My bulb wasn't dead. For several days the shaft reached slowly upward, but after a couple of inches, the tip began to shrivel and by the end of February almost all the green had disappeared. I hadn't meant to neglect my bulb, but I undoubtedly forgot to water it at some crucial point.

Repentant, I gave it water, then touched my fingers to its soil almost daily to check its need. Still, weeks went by with no return of green.

I pondered what to do with my bulb. I considered putting it in the refrigerator to simulate winter. I thought of tossing it in the trash as a lost cause. Instead, I gave it another drink to dampen it a few more days. I'd keep it like I keep papers cluttering my desk, or long-unworn clothing in my closet, or left-overs spoiling in the refrigerator. Pure procrastination, I know.

Monday, after I returned from my brother-in-law's burial (a fitting military formality almost identical to my husband's last March, sans planes flying overhead) I discovered a touch of greenery atop my amaryllis bulb. A small, but broad, shoot poked up, thumbnail high. Tonight, it measures a healthy four and a half inches, and beside it a half inch of new green pushes a withered tip upward. I'm encouraged. With more diligent care, I think I'll yet enjoy a beautiful flower.

That, I thought, is the way with my writing. When I neglect to write in favor of other activities -- even important literary ones like reading and answering e-mail, attending meetings, devouring books, critiquing, etc. -- my work in progress comes to a standstill. Ideas for further scenes seem to disappear, and "writer's block" takes over. Self-doubt replaces enthusiasm, and the growth of my writing project not only halts, but withers.

My amaryllis bulb gives me renewed hope. I can write and eventually finish. From this moment on, I can spend at least ten minutes a day on my own story. And knowing me, if I get in a good ten minutes I'll probably not stop there. My story will grow, and some day it will achieve fruition.

P.S. I know it's past bedtime, but I'm fired up. As soon as I post this, I'm going to open my WIP and give it a good ten minutes. That way, I'll change my above 'can' to 'will'.

Mar 10, 2009

Music To My Words

by Valerie Ipson

One of the questions that ANWA founder, Marsha Ward, has often asked in author interviews is "Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what types?" Now I loooooooooooooove music. I crank it up when it's time to do housework or I'm driving in the car, and back when I had a preschooler still around, she'd have to ask me to turn it down. "Trying to play here," she'd remind me.

So, suffice it to say, music gets me going, but it is a distraction when I need to sit at the computer and string two or more words together in a coherent thought. It is too hard to tune out the lyrics and not sing along, and more often than not, I can't tune out the beat that will eventually get me up and dancing. (This generally just happens when I'm home alone...okay, and sometimes driving down the street--depends on the song). If I went the classical route as some authors report, I wonder if that might have the opposite effect and put me to sleep.

I was further intrigued by the whole idea of writing and music when I read that Stephenie Meyer says she can't write without music, and on her website she lists several bands that inspired her through the writing of the Twilight series. Then I started noticing that certain songs on my computer's playlist made me think about my novel's main character, her relationships, and her trials. The songs put me right into her teenage world. Any song by Taylor Swift, for example, makes me think of my character and the boy she's falling for because Taylor's songs are so fun and teenagery and a little bit country. There's a song called All Fall Down by One Republic that absoutely must be the song played during the opening credits of the know, the one they make out of my novel...but I'm getting ahead of myself (slightly!?).

I still need to turn off the tunes when I write, but I listen to them for inspiration before my fingers hit the keyboard. While my fictional world looks like just black words on a page, there's music in there, and when I finally let my main character overcome all her challenges, the beat is going to get her up and dancing! When I'm all done, I'll be dancing with her!

What songs inspire your writing and the fictinal worlds you create?

Mar 9, 2009

The Missionary Puzzle

by Stephanie Abney

Saturday night I spoke in the adult session of Stake Conference. Here’s a VERY condensed version of my talk:

I teach 2nd grade and my students love to do puzzles. It’s more fun to do them with someone and as each person places their piece in the correct spot and a picture unfolds, it can be very gratifying.

When I was told the topic was “Missionary Work” because they had heard great things about me, I was quite surprised and wondered if I had ever really been very successful as a missionary.

Then the Lord showed me my kids doing puzzles and that I’m a piece of the puzzle. Just like the kids, you might not see the results with those early pieces… but as each one adds their piece to the table it’s easy to see that more than one person has a piece to offer. And even more importantly, sometimes it’s almost impossible to fit a particular piece in until some of the surrounding pieces are in place. Missionary work is a puzzle.

[I then went on to tell about Sun Wei’s visit from China and taking her to church, the visitor’s center, home teaching, and how she used her pocket translator to read the Ensign, etc.]. As part of her “American Experience” I was allowed to “expose” her to our religion, and so I “exposed” her! She didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay with us and enjoy “typical American life.” It was the spirit that she was feeling.

[I also told about experiences I had when I was a “Stake Missionary” WAY BACK WHEN. I had a sister companion in the ward. Our calling was to the less active sisters ~ there were 11 of them in our ward and they became our visiting teaching beat – YES, 11 sisters].

As we got to know these sisters I came to realize that they were the hidden treasures of the ward. They were wonderful and talented women. We began to lay down our puzzle pieces.

One sister loved old Westerns so out of the blue I suggested a slumber party. The three of us spent the night at her house, stayed up watching old Westerns, eating junk food and had a wonderful time. We kidnapped her for breakfast on her birthday, gave her a “year supply” box for a gift. (Turned out to be 12 bags of black jelly beans, her favorite, each bag labeled by month). She got a kick out of that.

We “heart-attacked” the front yard of another sister on her birthday and hid in the bushes to see her surprise until the automatic sprinklers turned on! So much fun!!

[I spoke of other experiences with other women and some neighbors - too detailed to share here]. Little by little, as we added our puzzle pieces and got to know these sisters it became easier to see where another piece might fit. And for many of these sisters we may never know if their puzzle is yet complete. But the important thing is that we put our piece on the table.

It’s sad when wards divide and you think you will have the same amount of contact with the ward members as before (especially when no one even moved) but more often than not we get busy with our new ward and new callings and except for a quick hello at stake functions, don’t see each other very much.

But today, I see one of those sisters as our ward leaves the building and hers enters. Was I the reason she chose to return to church activity? No, but I was a piece of the puzzle. Many other people added their puzzle pieces over the years.

Another sister whose teenage sons we taught told us firmly this was their passion and she would not be participating, so we just became friends instead. She is now a baptized member with a temple recommend. She was surrounded by wonderful neighbors who also added their puzzle pieces long after the ward divided and her sons served missions, adding many pieces to the puzzle.

One day we had a knock on the door. “Hi. I’m Jesse. Do you remember me? I used to live across the street. I’m 23 now and have moved back to AZ. I always remembered your family and how it felt to be in your home and I joined the church a year ago.”

And so the puzzles go… In closing, I’d like to suggest some puzzle pieces that you don’t want to overlook: Have fun; make friends; follow the spirit and sometimes, you have to try another way to fit the piece into the puzzle. Just don’t be the piece that’s missing! Bring your piece to the table of missionary work and see a beautiful life come together… now… or sometime in the future.

I put down my puzzle pieces and forever changed and enriched my life. Got a puzzle piece? Wanna’ play?

Mar 8, 2009

A Lovely Day

Yesterday, a whole bunch of ANWA members, some wonderful presenters, and other folks gathered at Eagle's Aerie School in Gilbert, Arizona, for a writers conference.

What a day it was! The ANWA Board has been planning the event for many months: setting a date, obtaining the facility, getting the keynote speaker and other teachers, arranging for catering, and sending out notices about the conference.

Almost 100 people came together to enjoy instruction and buy books. Over 25 authors, composers, and very talented people sold their work at the end of the day.

Although it's impossible to attend all the classes, I learned to visualize a completed work, do my research, make the work compelling, and then publicize and sell it.

I'd like to express my thanks to the many amazing people who brought all the details together, but especially to the presenters, who gave so freely of their time and expertise. Thank you, JoAnn Arnold, Scott Emerson, Lorna Hale, Doug Johnston, Gracia N. Jones, and my dear friend, Vijaya Schartz, for spreading a feast so that so many could partake.

Mar 7, 2009

I Am A Writer

By Cindy R. Williams

I was given a specialty calling a few weeks ago. I was asked to write our ward's Road Show. I went into automatic mode and said, "I would be happy to." Once those words were out of my mouth, self doubt hit and I thought, I don't know if I can do this. Just because I have published a children's picture book, the Bishopric thinks I am a writer? A children's picture book is a whole lot different than a four act play. My next thought was a personal reprimand. The Lord is doing the asking, and if the Lord thinks I can do it, then I can.

After I returned home and had time to think about it, I realized this means the Lord KNOWS I am a writer. This thought startled me. I have felt like a "wanna be writer." When I've been brave enough to tell others I'm an author or writer, I've done it reluctantly because deep inside I really felt like I was just a pretender, a dabbler, a bit of a fraud. Realizing the Lord knows I am a writer has given me confidence and helped me change the way I look at myself.

I mulled over the Road Show parameters, guidelines, scriptures and topic from the Stake, and prayed many times that I would be given the inspiration necessary to write this Road Show. An idea began to form, and I shared it with the Director. He liked it, so I scheduled four hours on Tuesday to write it. I opened my writing session with a sincere prayer that I would have the ability to write a Road Show that would bless our ward youth, and be pleasing to the Lord. I turned off the phone and settled into my favorite writing corner. I became very focused and intune to my goals. The play poured out of me, without a break. It was a gift. The Director is pleased, and I fulfilled my calling. I marveled at this gift and gave a prayer of thanks for this blessing.

It is time I face up to my talent. Of course, I have much room for improvement, so I am taking classes to learn more. But I AM a writer, and just like anything else in life, it is a journey. I choose to grow and develop this talent the Lord has given me. I may not shout it from any roof tops---not sure I could climb on one anyway---but, I will no longer hide it under a bushel. I will find joy in my writing. I will stop being ashamed of this hidden talent and treat it with respect. I will finish the myriad of writing projects I have on my computer and floating in my head. I will work hard on my goals and be the instrument I was meant to be here on this earth.

I am a writer. I am an author. I am a daughter of God.

Mar 6, 2009

Math Musings

by Sarah Albrecht

Lewis Thomas wrote that Montaigne, an early essayist, frequently explored topics which interested him without researching or claiming expertise. I’ll have to take my cue from Montaigne today since I’m thinking about math.

Math fascinates me because it is the language of patterns (I think “language of patterns” came from The Calder Game…?). In that sense, it is a universal language. But let’s get this straight: I’m not good at it.

I hated math all through school—working through the box of math cards in second grade more slowly than other kids, multiplying three numbers by each other in fifth grade, grinding through algebra and trigonometry in high school. I based my college major on how I could get through without any math since I didn’t want to ruin my GPA. And I still let my mom figure out the right amount of material for making curtains.

To my surprise, though, I’ve been able to help my ninth-grade daughter with algebra right up through the third quarter, but that doesn’t mean I really understand it. All I do is find the pattern to follow, then follow it. I have no idea how the concepts would be applied in real life, but using the pattern helps in the meantime. Math is more approachable if I separate it into pattern recognition and pattern application.

I love the idea that math can describe patterns in nature and music; that math can predict future patterns based on present ones. Last summer I read The Secret Life of Numbers, a collection of essays about math for laypeople. It exposed a realm of thinking which, since I generally lack a frame of reference in which to apply it, I have largely already forgotten. One story that struck me, though, was about some mathematicians who did a study on the shapes, or patterns, which are most efficient for tile-layers. That is, they figured out which shapes take the least amount of perimeter while enclosing the most amount of space. The answer? Hexagons. Then the author pointed out that bees figured out that same thing long, long ago, and hence the patterns we see in their honeycomb. Pattern and application.

All this talk about recognizing and applying patterns reminds me of a familiar scripture: “Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing, and establish a house…” Organizing often entails finding a pattern to follow. Preparing often entails gathering—physically, spriritually, mentally, emotionally--what is needed to follow the pattern. And doesn’t establishing often entail following the pattern?

Hey, does this mean I can somehow apply math to writing? Or to life? Just give me a sharp pencil and a big pink eraser and I'll give it a try.

Mar 5, 2009

Open letter to my children (Possibly exaggerated to prove a point)

By Stacy Johnson

Dear sweet, special children of mine, (except the baby who doesn't know any better),

When you got home from school and I asked you to finish up your chores that didn't get done this morning, told you to sit down and do your homework, and reminded you to go to piano lessons, you gave me "that" look again. You know what look I'm talking about. The one that says, "but what did YOU do all day?" I'd like to share with you all I did today so you don't think I sat around and watched Little House on the Prairie all day and drank my diet pepsi.

I woke about 3am to feed the baby. When I couldn't go back to sleep, I read from the Ensign and my scriptures, then worked on some homework for my class at ASU. I feel asleep for about 45 minutes then woke all of you up for the day. I read scriptures with you while I nursed the baby again, served you your breakfast (with groceries I purchased earlier in the week), asked you to pack your lunches (with homemade bread, I might add), and reminded you to grab your poster for the science project due today. I did the little girl's hair, helped you change your newly pierced earrings, and encouraged you to do your morning chores. I told you to get dressed (in clothes that I purchased, washed, dried, sorted, folded, and took to your room for you to put away. Had you put them away, they wouldn't be so wrinkly.) I kissed each of you, told you I loved you and sent you to school.

I put the baby down for her nap. I vacuumed the family room, swept the kitchen, rinsed the breakfast dishes, and wiped off the table. I straightened up the playroom and vauumed it. I stopped what I was doing to run your library book to you at school. At this point, I did sit down and drink a diet pepsi for about 30 minutes while I listened to my sweet visiting teachers give me a message on the divine role of motherhood.(Not really, but that would have been the icing on the cake, wouldn't it have?) After they left, I ate my breakfast. I made a phone call about your softball team, the one I am coaching with your dad. I threw in a load of laundry, folded a load, and hung up all the clean towels. I picked up the mess in the little bathroom and then my nephews came over so I could babysit while my sister when to my mom's house to help unpack from the move.

I made lunch for us AND cleaned it up when I was done. I changed three diapers, washed my hands, fed the baby her lunch and nursed her...AGAIN. I straightened the girls room and played with all the little ones as I worked.

I did spend some time checking on my friends (I facebooked and blogged for about 30 minutes). I made a few phone calls about ward choir, youth choir, scout campout, high school reunion, and girls camp. I read Dr. Suess for about 20 minutes. I got dressed just before you got home from school.

I cut up some apples for your after school snack and helped you do your homework, I took your shoes to you at volleyball practice. I drove you to your baseball practice, participated in your music class, and reminded you to go to activity days. I coached your softball team.

I made dinner and fed the baby some cereal while eating my own meal. I led the cheers from the Cheer box at pack meeting and then went to mutual to work with the youth choir. While you watched t.v., I finished up my homework. I gave you a bath, reminded others of you to take showers, I brushed your hair, read you a story, and put you to bed.

I finished up the dishes, re-swept the floor, started the dishwasher, started the washer, went for a run. Took a shower, put away some of my laundry (so I could climb into my own bed) and promptly fell asleep. Then, I dreamed about you.

So, as you can see, my life isn't all about me, it is all about you. You'll please forgive me when I forget things, constantly remind you to do YOUR chores, and ask you to make YOUR bed. You'll turn the other cheek when I get frustrated and lose my temper and start to cry. You'll forgive me when I can't come to your class and volunteer like the cool moms or when I can't buy you candy from the ice cream man every day cause it isn't in the budget. I'm a stay home mom, I don't have time for a "real" job. You'll thank me when my book on parenting becomes a best seller and we are rich enough to take you all out to dinner at a sit down restaurant.

I know someday you'll understand this, someday when you have a family of your own. My daughters should understand as they become mothers and if my sons don't, well, I'll let their wives write their own letters.

All my love, Mom

Mar 4, 2009

My other job

by Marielle Carlisle

Like I mentioned before in my “Here’s all about me!” post, I am a massage therapist. I used to work full-time, but now I only work Saturdays so I can stay home with the rug-rats during the week. I say I only work Saturday, but I technically consider it my day off and I practically sprint out the door Saturday morning.

I’ve been a therapist for seven years, and consider myself fortunate to work at a spa with a good reputation, with most of my clients being respectable, hygienic people. Because I work at a destination resort spa, I don’t get a lot of repeat clients. That means I have one hour with a person, and then they are out of my life forever, usually. Hence, people ask a lot of the same questions. Here are a couple questions that I hear everyday:

Don’t your hands get tired?
Nope. It’s more my back and legs from standing all day. If your hands start hurting, then your technique is wrong and you won’t last long as therapist.

How many massages do you do a day?
It depends. Usually 5-6. But no matter what number I say, people always respond with “WOW, that’s a lot!” Not really. The most I’ve done is 9. That’s a lot. 5 or 6 is a standard day, and I’m used to doing it.

I hold all my stress in my shoulders.
Okay, news flash: EVERYBODY holds their stress in their shoulders. It makes my job so much easier, because people have tight muscles in the same places. Takes a lot of guess work out.

Most people don’t talk much. But there are those special few who make my day so interesting with their unusual comments:

What race are you?
You mean, other than the human race? This same lady then asked me if I was Greek. I’ve never had anyone ever ask me that before. What do Greek people look like, anyway? Like me, I guess. To make matters worse, two of my co-workers were walking right behind us while this conversation was taking place and overheard the whole thing. They never let me live that down.

I’m afraid for you.
This is what a lady told me when she found out I was LDS. All I could think of to say was “Um, I appreciate your concern.”

What are your hobbies?
She actually used the word “hobbies.” People are always curious about how I got into this field, or want a little personal info (i.e. where are you from, do you have any kids), but my hobbies?

Watch out for the polygamists!
I had an in-room massage with a cute older couple from Germany, and when they found out I was from SLC, the husband gave me the above warning. I explained that I was LDS, and that the church does not practice polygamy. Awkward.

The list could do on and on. One guy was covered with a variety of tattoos (including scantily clad women!). At least I had something to read during the massage.

At the end of a couple’s massage, the husband started praying out loud, and his wife grabbed my hand and joined in with loads of “AMEN!” I could not get out of there fast enough.

I had a Japanese woman who spoke zero English. Z-E-R-O. It’s hard to communicate to someone to “flip over, and slide down the table” when you don’t speak the same language.

Ah, good times.

Anyone else have any interesting massage stories?

Mar 3, 2009

Sheer Dumb Luck

I suppose that most people don't believe in sheer dumb luck. As for myself, I become more and more convinced of it. Let me share a few examples of why I have come to the conclusion there is such a thing.

Writer sends in what we refer to as a timeless piece. It can be used months from now. He wants it to go in a specific issue. That particular issue is already crammed full of editorial material. So it gets cut. Then the advertising department comes up short and wala the article is back in the issue. Sheer dumb luck.

College semester-long project is due next week. One student has been working all semester on getting audio (in the days before youtube or the Internet) and heavy research on jump rope "songs" and their origin. One student grabs a book on Navaho blanket designs. Writes up 2-3 page report on the dyes and meanings, draws and colors several different designs. Blankets gets an A, jump rope gets a C. Why? Professor is into Native Americans. Sheer dumb luck.

First novel. Action/adventure. First time author. President of the US reads it, likes it, mentions it...goes golden. Sheer dumb luck.

What else can you call it when your work wins some times and loses other times? As writers we tend to be mother hens over our work and get worked up when it's rejected. But maybe it's not your work that's lacking, maybe it's just sheer dumb luck.

Mar 2, 2009

Never Give Up

by Joyce DiPastena

Last month when it was time to go visiting teaching, I’d misplaced my Ensign and my printer was broken so I couldn’t print the message off the Church’s website. So what did I do? I resorted to what I consider a “safe” fallback position in situations like this: I grabbed the most recent General Conference issue of the Ensign and pulled some thoughts out of one of the talks for my visiting teaching message.

The talk I chose was given by Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, entitled: The Way. One of the quotes I shared with my sisters was this:

“Life is hard, but life is simple. Get on the path and never, ever give up. You never give up. You just keep on going. You don’t quit, and you will make it.”

These words, of course, were in reference to living the gospel and enduring to the end. But as I contemplated what to write for my ANWA blog this week, these words came back to me. I think they might be reworded this way to apply to each of us who have chosen the writer’s path:

“Writing is hard, but writing is simple. Get on the writing path and never, ever give up. You never give up. You just keep on going. You don’t quit, and you will make it.”

Having fallen back into one of my writing slumps the past two weeks (knocked off my writing stride by a cold and a broken water heater that took more than a week to replace), this quote, reworded this way, came as much needed counsel and direction for me. I chose the writing path a long time ago. Now the trick is to “never, ever give up. Never give up. Just keep on going. Don’t quit, and…eventually, whether to publication, or to the end of my current manuscript, or even just to the end of my next chapter…I will make it.”

Thank you, Elder Corbridge!