Mar 30, 2013

If it is to be, it is up to me!

My missionary son in Texas sent this picture to us. It made me laugh.  I hope that someday there might be a plaque that says something like this. . . "On this site in 2013, a great novel was written," and not "On this site in 2013, a great novel was never completed."  If it is to be, it is up to me.

Mar 29, 2013

Gift Drifter

By Beckie Carlson

I've been thinking about gifts lately. It isn't Christmas, and my birthday is still twenty six days away, so ... take it as a hint if you want. I've been thinking about the gifts I've given and been given in the past.

My mother tells me I am a 'master gift giver.' If I am, I learned it from Brad. He wasn't always the best at giving gifts, but he had the best philosophy. He believed in giving people something they never would have thought of, didn't 'need', and would love. I think that is a wonderful way to take the pressure off gift giving. Too many times, we get caught up in trying to give the perfect, useful, 'this will fix all the problems in the universe' gift. It is too much pressure! Many times, when trying to give this perfect gift, we end up getting someone the one thing WE want them to have. Like, say....a lasagna pan we want them to make lasagna in...for us. Not cool.
Here is a list of the top ten gifts I have either given or received in no particular order. I am sure there are many more I could add, but honestly, it always surprises me if I remember anything at all!
1. My uncle Paul gave me a Christmas present one year, the only gift I ever remember getting from him. I was about....ten at the time, I think. It was a simple package of paper, pens, markers, a ruler, crayons....and stuff like that. I absolutely loved it. It might be because I usually ended up leaving my grandmother's house with nothing but (awesome) homemade pajamas, but I think it was because that is something I totally loved and still love today. Paper, ink, art it!
2. My mother gave me a really cool wooden box for art supplies when I was in third grade I think. My memory is fuzzy. I remember we lived in a trailer park in Winslow. I had seen the box on the counter and asked if I could have it. She said no, and seemed a bit miffed that I had asked. Apparently, she was planning to give it to me all along. I was always good at ruining my own surprises....
Jumping ahead many years to where my crazy thoughts take me,....
3. It is a sort of tradition that I give everyone in my immediate family pajamas for Christmas. We would let the kids open them on Christmas Eve. It was something they knew they were getting, but just opening that one present somehow made waiting til Christmas morning for the rest easier. Anyway, one year, I hit the local Kmart and got us all matching jammies. I wasn't too sure on the sizes but I made my best guess. As the kids opened their gifts, there was stunned silence and then great peals of laughter as they held up the pants. I had gotten the hugest pants I have ever seen. My hubby was not a tiny guy, but his pants would have fit at least two of him. None of the boys were able to wear their jammies that year, but we all had a great laugh.
4. I bit my nails when I was little. I don't think my index fingers went a week without bleeding for over two years. It was a bad habit I couldn't seem to break. When I turned 12, my best friend gave me a tiny wicker basket with nail supplies in it. I took one look at those cotton balls, cuticle sticks, trimmers, and shiny polishes and the nail biting stopped. Ever since then, well, up until this semester, my nails have been pretty great. Thanks Renee!
5. Sometimes when I give a gift, even though it fits all the above mentioned requirements, it is still a little bit for me. One year, I gave my sisters pole dancing lessons for one of their birthdays. It was three for each of us. Some of you may be surprised that a proper person such as myself did such a thing, but it was dang fun! Only one of us fell to the ground, and none of us got 'pole burn.' It was something I'd do the safety of a small studio with only me and my sisters and very few mirrors....
6. My sister (the runt) is not much of a gift giver. I think she is practicing for the days when she is very wealthy. Wealthy people don't spend their money on gifts....right? They seem to be able to coast through life on clouds of linen and bubbles. Anyway, she did give me a pretty amazing Christmas gift this year. She knitted me two adorable head bands and a custom made t-shirt. The shirt is covered on one side with bleached out cursive words. It looks very cool and trendy. The special part of the shirts is the thoughtfulness she put into her choice of words. It isn't a cliche French poem or words from a rock ballad, no, it is 'testicles' in eight different languages. That is truly a gift from the heart.
7. I have been the 'gift buyer' for many a year at my house. I bought for the kids from me an Brad, I bought for the kids from the kids, and I sometimes even bought for myself from the kids. It was an amazing thing to get gifts from my girls this year. My oldest daughter actually bought me a Kindle. I was .....speechless when I opened it. I still am. Love it. My other daughter got me an amazing purple watch for work. I love it! I was surprised that I actually got surprise gifts. Who knew?!
8. Some times the gifts I give have ulterior motives. Don't judge do it too. One year, I gave my hubby a guitar for his birthday. He hadn't asked for one, but I really wanted him to play one. He did not disappoint. Not only did he learn it...he learned to play a bit of Spanish music. It ended up being a gift back to me. Well played.....
9. For this one, I have to do a bulk category of all the super sweet, amazing, little things my kids have given me over the years. I love the pictures, hand-prints, Christmas ornaments, rings, necklaces, etc. anything given to me by my kids is priceless. I can't say I have saved everything, but they have all been wonderful.
10. I did plan this one for last. My dear husband died two weeks before my 40th birthday. It was ironic in a way, he was the one that always looked forward to getting old while I fought it tooth and nail. I ended up aging without him. My birthday was not the highlight of my life that year. I had sweet friends that made me go out and party a bit, but it was a bit shallow. Even though Brad was not there to celebrate with me, he had still gotten me gifts. For several weeks around my birthday, I received little packages in the mail. He had ordered me a collection of pendants from different artisans. They were all very unique and different. They weren't things I had asked for, nor things I had needed. He had succeeded in surprising me, telling me he loved me, and reminding me of the many years we had been together that had been a series of gifts. Whenever I wear them, I remember him and our life together and it is like he is giving me another gift.
I think he should also be given the title of master gift giver.....cause I said so.

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Mar 28, 2013

Jesus is the Christ

By Susan Knight
Spencer W. Kimball
“I could not see how we could really celebrate an Easter without discussing the Lord Jesus Christ. Why even the devils know that Jesus is the Christ.”
“. . . And that is my testimony to you, that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the living Son of the living God.”
“Because of Christ, the grave had no permanent victory. Death was overcome!”
“As one of His latter-day witnesses, I testify that He lives today. He is a resurrected Being.”
“Easter is the day when we celebrate the greatest victory of all time, the victory over death.”
“I declare my personal witness that death has been conquered, victory over the tomb has been won. May the words made sacred by Him who fulfilled them become actual knowledge to all. Remember them. Cherish them. Honor them. He is risen.

On Easter Sunday, as we take of the sacrament, let us not forget the sacrifice of our Savior. We do it in remembrance of Him.

Jesus suffered in Gethsamane, bleeding from every pore. He was whipped almost to death, blood streaking His face and body. Our Savior could barely carry his cross.

This, our Redeemer, withstood nails in His hands, wrists and feet. And only when He decided it, He gave up His life. A soldier pierced His side and water flowed from the wound, signifying death of a broken heart.

On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus became the first ever to be Resurrected. The tomb was empty.

The Apostles found Jesus' clothes folded in the sepulchre. We, too, symbolically fold our clothes after they are worn in temple ceremonies to show that even the folding of clothes can be a sacred act.
An empty tomb, but our hearts are full. The knowledge that the Great Jehovah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, rose from the dead and atoned for our sins was the greatest miracle and blessing that ever happened since this world was created.

We celebrate, not that He died, but that He is risen.

Mar 27, 2013

I'm a Writer!

by Kami Cornwall

     I know what you're thinking. "Yeah, we're writers. That's why we're here." But I have had a couple of reaffirming experiences this week to share with you. First, I interviewed for an internship with a counseling service nearby and when the director asked me how my writing skills were I could say with confidence, "I love to write! Writing is one of my strong-points."
     Later I purchased a book called The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines which lays out different "types" of heroes and what possibly drives them as well as good jobs for them. It was not only fascinating, but it also made me feel great about how I had set up my story so far. The characters fit into these subtypes beautifully and work well together. So that's good to know. I did something right!
     Currently I'm working on a very long paper about OCD and it's symptoms, causes, etc. which is not nearly as fun to read or write. If you have any OCD insights feel free to share them in the comments section though. I'm collecting journal articles for it right now and will be spending most of my week writing! Just not the fun kind. Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Mar 26, 2013

Is It Ever Ok to Admit You are at the End of the Rope?

by Terri Wagner

Reading the last few posts, I am reminded I am not the only one struggling to find meaning in a long protracted trial that I feel pretty sure I'm flunking. Yesterday, my sister who is a nurse in an emergency room walked into what has to be one of the saddest experiences a nurse can have. A two year old perfectly healthy two days ago dies; and no one can really say why. It affects everyone the rest of the day. It puts so much into perspective. The weary head cold patient doesn't really get the sympathy he/she might have. The whiner who is not really hurt all that much doesn't get much comfort. For a while, the team just works on auto pilot while the emotions roil around inside. The child had been in and out of the ER; the parents concerned and doing everything they were instructed to do; the child had seemed better; and early yesterday morning the little boy wandered out of bed into his living room, laid down on the floor and was found by his parents already in Paradise.

My sister says that is the only comfort that finally penetrates that feeling of failure for is the knowledge that this young spirit went straight to exaltation; that angels carried him back to Heavenly Father; and that he was most likely a strong spirit with little to prove, just needed that body and a bit of mortal experience. It's cold comfort, but it's something. She wonders how the others in her team cope without that knowledge. And she tries to live with the taste of failure.

A struggling Relief Society president tastes failure with a chaotic situation. Thrust into the job without much RS experience, she finds out quickly what a hard, time-consuming job it is on top of a debilitating health condition. There is so much need in her ward and so little resources. Her physical pain keeps her from even being able to move at times. She's alone, no husband, no children at hand. She feels so helpless and worries over the very real needs of her sisters.

An inactive member makes a decision that changes everything...not a good one. It will change how others perceive this member, it could cost them their membership at a time when perhaps it is most needed. That decision leads to others equally wrong with serious consequences. And all the family can do is look on in despair and frustration feeling that sense of failure.

I could go on. While I am not the person in any of those stories, they are very real. I myself vacillate between I can do this to I can't do this anymore! Funny when I was younger, the optimism was always there to "catch" me. Now the only thing that really succors me is the realization that in perspective my trial though long and scary is not nearly as burdening as what others are going through.

Years ago I decided to make up a prayer basket not unlike what they do at the temple. I pray over the names listed in there and periodically rejoice when I can take one out. I try to remain worthy to have the Spirit so I can pray individually for those who need that, but otherwise I just put them in my basket. Lately, I am beginning to seriously consider putting the entire world into my basket. There is so much need; and only one true answer: Our Savior.

As the reminder of the Atonement and the Resurrection nears, I find myself pondering the words of our latter-day prophets and apostles: the Atonement is not just about forgiveness but also about enabling. I want to tap into that enabling power to secure my situation and end my trial (two years seems forever in this situation). Is that inspiration or desperation? And in the end, if it helps (or praise be works) does it matter?

Life got suddenly serious and dangerous...or am I just missing that optimism that youth carries with it? I find myself singing the words to "I Am Woman." It's not a "Mormony" kind of song but the words sure resonate: "Yes I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain!"

Anyone else feeling at the end of the proverbial rope?

Mar 25, 2013

Of Late Blog Posts and Finals

By Claire Enos

Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry I forgot to post yesterday! I remember thinking I needed to write a blog post, but I've been so busy with homework due in the next couple weeks, a few of them are huge projects that I'm way behind on. Finals in a couple weeks, then heading home for five months.

I hope you are all having fun writing! Remember to take time for yourself.

Have an amazing day!


Mar 22, 2013

. . . And That Kind of Month

by Marsha Ward

Last time I posted, I wrote about a day without power, that is, electricity. Today I'm going to muse on other stuff that has made up my month. It's been very interesting!

I had a birthday. So did a brother, two in-laws, several progeny, and quite a few of the progeny of my siblings. March can bankrupt a body.

My website went off-line. I decided to move it soon to another service, and bought a hosting package that turned out not to be suitable.

I had an interesting emotional breakdown. Interesting, because I discovered that the same thing happened exactly the same time last year. Trend-spotting is good.

I resigned from a position during the breakdown. Fortunately, the person to whom I sent the email was patient and waited out my breakdown.

I unresigned.

I settled back down into the day-to-day fending off of "Denial of Service" attacks to a website I monitor for the position I was again serving in. I'm sure some of the stress of this position caused the breakdown in the first place.

I began to write my fifth novel.

I was invited to participate on a high-visibility panel at a convention later this year.

I accepted.

I purchased a new hosting package for my website with another company. I was informed I can't make sales from my site with that package. Back to square one.

I came down with the flu I'd been battling off successfully for two months. I've been mostly in bed for the past three days. Except when I've been in that other vital room of the house.

Anybody know some very good stress relievers?

Mar 21, 2013

New Chapters and Sequels

by Kari Diane Pike

I loved Cindy's post a couple of days ago about character recipes. I have an extensive recipe collection of the gastronomic type...I love to cook. I also have a lot of characters in my family -- there are a lot of us. This morning I have grandchildren, in-laws, and children gathering together (about 65 of us for dinner tomorrow night) for the beginning of what I started to call an new chapter in our lives -- but can see now that it is not so much a new chapter for me, but a spin-off, or a sequel in formation. Child number 6 is getting married the day after tomorrow. This is a happy moment, a relief to the chaos and challenges of the past year. So, since I am pressed for time and my internet connection is sketchy at best, here is the recipe our family created in 2012.

The Pike Family Recipe For A Memorable 2012
Ingredients: Douglas, Kari, Amy (Sean), Kenny (Aprilynne), Kati (Chris), Jared (Christin), Elizabeth (Daryn), Ammon (and soon-to-be, Cambrai), Brittany, Micaela, Levi, the dog (Gentry), the cat (Jules), and the birds (Stevie, and Sky) and 18 (as of January 23, 2013) grandchildren.
1.    Begin the year by seasoning Doug with a rub of unemployment. Leave in Highland,Utah the rest of winter and let marinate. Check frequently for signs of a job.
2.    Pour Kari, Micaela, Levi, the two birds, the cat and the dog into a house. Stir in school, work, laundry, cello lessons, soccer, friends, Gilmore Girls’ marathons, church activities, Scouts, gardening, baking, reading, writing, and packing boxes. 
3.    Sprinkle with visits from Amy, Kenny, Kati, Jared, Elizabeth,,, (and their spouses and children), Ammon (so he can do his laundry), and Brittany. Oh…add a pinch of Grandma Pike, Grandpa and Grandma Collamer, and Grandpa and Grandma Newcomb and various other Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.
4.    As the temperatures rise, remove from Highland, Utah house and stuff Douglas, Kari, Brittany, Micaela, Levi, Sky, Jules, and Gentry into a tent trailer in David and Becky Brooke’s driveway in Alpine (well, Levi, and Gentry slept in the house).  Baste with summer rain showers. Smoke with nearby forest fire. Let stew for 8 weeks.
5.    Fold in job offers from California, Idaho, and Oregon. Sprinkle on some magnificent chaos.
6.    Dunk Doug into Coos Bay, Oregon for three days. Quickly remove and set in Arizona’s July heat and leave to dry.  Baste with a new job in Mesa, Arizona and set to rise.
7.    Pour Doug, Kari, Micaela, Levi, and Brittany into Kenny’s house in Glendale, Arizona. Set oven to bake.
8.    Remove Brittany to Northern Arizona University and then to Brigham Young University.
9.    Increase temperatures with a couple of car accidents, and scares with Grandma and Grandpa Collamer’s health.
10.    As temperatures cool, frost with more soccer, piano lessons, choir, church activities and grandchildren (We have three new ones in that past 13 months – MaesonAnne Rose Anderson – January 12th, Emali Anne Carbonneau – April 4th, and Franklin Jerome Wright – January 23rd, 2013), and Ammon’s engagement to Cambrai Loftus.
11.    Top with generous amounts of good health, daily miracles and tender mercies, heaps of friendship and hugs, and buckets of love.
12.    Serve over best wishes for your 2013 and a solid layer of hope in Christ and His Atoning sacrifice.
We hope you know how much we love and care about you. As crazy as this recipe has been, we think of you often and hope that life is treating you well. We would love to hear about what you’ve been up to!  Come visit, call, write, text, or… come visit!

Mar 19, 2013

Challenges Shape a Story

By Leesa Ostrander

I came across a very interesting quote:

“Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everylasting benefit.” ― Richard G. Scott

I had to think if I did not have challenges and obstacle's where would I be today? What would the story I create look like? Sound like? Feel like? Many of my experiences whether fun and exciting or true learning moments have shape the stories I create. 

I may think of a story and how my character will get out of a mess, then realize it is me that is in the mess. My path can shape a story or my path in life. I can see stories in everyday around me. The challenge for me is to finish the story!

In writing is it the responsibility of the character to overcome a obstacle or is it the plot to create a method for the character 

Mar 18, 2013

Awesome Quick Quote

By Tracy Astle

Working in an accounting office. In the heat of tax season. (pant, pant, gasp) All I  have time for today is a quick quote, but it's a truly awesome quick quote.

"The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well."

Neal A. Maxwell, That my Family Should Partake, pg 86

We can trust that we (and our writing) are where we need to be if we put Him first and seek His guidance. He's got this. It's all good.


Mar 16, 2013

Character Recipes

By Cindy R. Williams
My son did a “People Recipe” project in his 7th grade Creative Writing Class. What a fun way to hone the features of your characters.
Take information learned from interviewing your character. (Yes, sit back and talk to your character.) Create a fresh, fun recipe about him/her/it. Remember to use recipe-type words, but make your ingredients original and have them differ from the examples listed below.

Questions to ask your chracter:
                Full name and nickname if applicable
                Three physical qualities
                Include three other facts
                A flaw, bad habit or bad quality
                My ask about likes and dislikes, fears and ambitions
                End recipe with a two sentence set of directions

Chase Spaghetti
Serves 4 people

Two green eyes
Add some glasses
A bushel of blond hair
An ounce of hair gel
Several yards of light colored skin
Add a pinch of a shy personality
A spoonful of knowledge
A nightlight
A basketball
And a pair of running shoes
Mix all but hair gel in large bowl and heat over stove. Stir constantly with a large spoon for eight minutes. Pour hair gel in the pot and mix well. Dump into strainer until liquid is drained. Enjoy!

Caitlin Cake

1 head of shoulder length light brown hair
A pair of expressive blue eyes
One small gum-chewing metal mouth
A generous love of traveling
A dash of interest in the ocean
3 cups of books to read
Combine evenly and sprinkle with family and friends. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees and serve with mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

Mar 15, 2013

Milk Drunk

By Beckie Carlson

happy tears

I am thoroughly enjoying my new grandson. He is more adorable that I can ever describe. When I look at him I see all my kids and my late husband combined into one perfectly sweet, innocent, beautiful bundle. I love holding him and snuggling him. He smells so good ( most the time). He gives big smiles with his whole face. When he cries, I give him back to his mommy and go on with my day. It's a beautiful thing really.
My daughter is doing amazingly well at the whole motherhood gig. I have to admit, I had a few small doubts about how well she would do. She is a smart, capable, talented woman....who needs a HUGE amount of sleep. I worried that she would lose her mind or something, seeing as new mommies don't ever get enough sleep, let alone a HUGE amount. But she has persevered and amazed everyone  around her.
If you are a mother, you understand this miracle. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of shortcomings a person has before they have kids, after they have a baby they are stronger. There must be something that happens when the baby comes out. Maybe there is a sort of 'trade off.' The baby comes out and a sort of super-mom-power goes in. Once you have a baby, you can literally change into another creature when the calling arises.I know, personally, I have changed into a huge, white, long fanged tiger at times. It is usually when someone says something about my kids....negatively....and I instantly turn into that tiger. Look out "person that offended" cuz I will rip your head right off. 
We also become softer and stronger at the same time. I used to like scary rides at amusement parks and laugh at sappy commercials on television. When I became a mom I didn't want my feet off the ground or to be moving in any way at an 'unsafe speed.' I had a baby, and then babies, that were counting on me to stay alive. I had to use my head and stay safe. As for the sappy commercials, I now cry when Flo sings the progressive well as when Elves show us their love through baking. It really gets out of hand sometimes. Especially when I'm trying to get my grandson to giggle and a commercial for toilet paper catches my attention. The poor boy is going to grow up thinking he should cry whenever he is laughing. Is that such a bad thing? Everyone would say he takes after his grandma then......cause I said so.

Photo credit:

Mar 14, 2013

Singing With Angels

By Susan Knight

Well, we did it. My daughter Jewely and I sang in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Jewely and I before we left for the concert
The last time I wrote, I spoke about the dress rehearsal. I remember saying to a friend that if I didn’t sing during the performance, my joy was full and I was satisfied just to attend the dress rehearsal.

Little did I know then that the “real thing,” singing during the performance, was one-hundred-thousand times better.

All of us in the chorus were drenched in magenta light
I sat behind the organ, with the blue scarf
My heart was filled to overflowing after singing “Psalm 23” when the last notes of the chorus echoed and bounced off the walls and ceilings. The sister sitting next to me wiped her whole face with both  hands she was crying so hard. I had stuck a handkerchief in my pocket, thus able to dab my eyes.

At one point, I heard a not-so-still-small voice say to me, “Look around! You don’t ever want to forget what this looks like—feels like!”

I was glad I followed the prompting because, unbeknownst to me, I lost track of time and realized the music for the last song began to play.

By comparison, the dress rehearsal wasn’t worth mentioning. It was just another day. But, oh, the live performance enraptured and enthralled me, enveloped me in the spirit and beautiful music. It took my breath away.

I began to think about the comparisons to the three kingdoms of glory. We are told that the lowest kingdom is more wonderful and magnificent than we can imagine in our poor human minds. The terrestrial kingdom is so awesome and astounding as to be unfathomable.

Yet, we are also told not even to think about those two because if we end up there, there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that we didn’t aspire to the highest kingdom.

That’s how singing in that beautiful and historic builidng compared to practicing in the ward chapel and even rehearsing in the Tabernacle.

I would not have wanted to miss it for anything. I'm glad I made the commitment to attend the rehearsals, study and learn the music, practice, practice, practice and put forth my best effort.

The icing on the cake was when my daughter bore her testimony Sunday in Relief Society. She was unmistakably thrilled and awed by performing those inspiring songs and, according to her, being able to sing with her mom. (Like!) I felt the same way. My heart also beat with joy to see my other daughter and two sons-in-law sitting in the balcony, supporting us.

I want to be in a totally amazing and incomprehensible kingdom some day with my family. There will be angels singing, lights and auras flashing and flooding the air, peaceful and spiritual feelings, and the presence of Deity.

Until then, I must commit to keep the commandments, attend church and the temple, study and learn the scriptures. I must practice worthy behavior, and put forth my best effort in all I do. I want to be where the sacred and breathtaking celestial music dwells, in the bosom of my Father in Heaven.

Mar 13, 2013


by Kami Cornwall

As I wave goodbye to my kids headed for school and the door closes, I smile. I have this whole day to myself! I'm on Spring Break this week (which doesn't coincide with their spring break.) It should really be called Spring-Week-To-Get-Caught-Up-On-Taxes/Writing/Laundry/And-Everything-Else.

Also? When I'm alone...I hold conversations with my dogs. I'm turning into THAT lady. The crazy lady who thinks her dogs actually understand what she's saying. The psycho lady who can feel that her dog is glaring at her and probably plotting her demise.

"Why are you looking at me like that, Malcolm? You should know by now that I'm not going to open that door for you anymore. See...that's why it's called a "doggie door." You have a hole. See the hole? I'm staying right here and you can walk through any time you feel like it."
     *evil glare from the cute beagle*
"Seriously. I don't know why we're still discussing this. Come in if you want to come in."
     *Malcolm glares at the doggie door and then turns his back*
"Whatever, dude. You can pretend it's not there all you want but it doesn't change the facts. I no longer have to cater to your every whim. You have to take some initiative now."
     *Dog uses the doggie door and plops down on his bed with his favorite chew-toy - a blue lamb. He slowly pulls out its stuffing and removes it's squeaker, then looks up at me expressionless...or possibly with the thought, "This lamb represents you one day...very soon."

I think it's time to turn on some music. And possibly talk to some other human beings. Very soon.

Mar 11, 2013

Write What's Hard

By Claire Enos

I've been learning a lot this semester in my Creative Non-fiction class. A lot more than I ever planned on learning. Like I've mentioned before, I didn't mean to sign up for the class. It was an accident, but I chose to stay. I wanted to learn something new. And I have learned a lot!

One thing I learned a week or two ago, is that when you write creative non-fiction, you need to write what is hard for you to write. Things that you don't want anyone to know about, or things that just seem to be too hard to write. The best writers know how to use their experiences to enhance their writing. Everyone is different, everyone has been through different things that shaped them to create who they are today. But there is always going to be someone out there who understand what you went through. Who knows, what you write might actually help someone who is having problems with what you got through.

So, I think it's important to remember that the harder things are usually the things that might help others. Even if you write it just for yourself, to help you get through it, that's better than nothing. That's what makes a good writer a great writer.

In class today we talked about writing what's difficult again. We read a story that didn't so much deal with a difficult situation as a difficult emotion to deal with. Her emotions were tied to the fact that her and her husband were moving away after they'd made their house a home. It was interesting to see what can be done and how things can be written. I loved it.

Just some food for thought :)


Mar 10, 2013

On Addictions and Other Things

By Jennifer Debenham

I have a dear family member who got caught up in drugs as a youth but has fought valiantly, with tremendous support from his parents and family, to overcome the addiction. One way he fights, is by replacing the old addiction with a positive activity. In his case it is working out—hard, real hard—for a minimum of two hours every day. He also has turned into a relative health fanatic. He constantly looks at nutrition facts to determine if something will be good for his body.

It got me to thinking that I don’t have a physically destructive addiction that I need to overcome, but I do have habits that keep me from accomplishing some of my goals in life—chief among them—writing. Well . . . writing a lot. And succeeding at it.

It seems there are so many distractions in life, good and, well, less so, that keep us from truly being our best selves. My good ones are my kids, my husband, my church calling, my homemaking, my time serving others, my job. My “less so” are television shows that I just have to see to “get caught up” or that pesky little word game on my phone that keeps me entertained if I have a couple minutes to spare. It hasn’t escaped my attention that all those two-, or five-, or ten-minute breaks add up to an hour pretty fast. An hour I could spend WRITING.

And even worthy distractions can be managed. If I’m organized.

That's the real struggle.

It dawned on me today, though, while reflecting on the progress of my inspiring loved one, that I need to find my own positive habit to replace my “less-so” ones.

Hellurrrhhh! Writing!

Every day.

No exceptions.

Two hours?

I’ve got this!

Wish me luck. (I'll need it.)

And happy writing!


Mar 8, 2013

It's Been That Kind of Day . . .

by Marsha Ward

I woke up to a beeping from the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) beside my bed, The UPS unit is a link between my Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine and the electricity at the wall plug. The UPS only beeps to alert someone that it has switched to battery to power whatever is plugged into it.

What that all means is this morning brought a "power outage."

I staggered out of bed, sleep deprived once again. Looking out the window, I discovered that Thursday night's rain had turned to snow sometime long enough ago that four inches had accumulated.

Power outages are par for the course in Rim Country when it snows. No one can predict if a snowfall will cut power or not, but it's always best to be prepared. That's why I have both my computer and the CPAP hooked up to UPS units. They provide power for a limited amount of time, until I can take care of what needs looking after.

I put on my glasses and stumbled into the office to shut down the computer. Once I did that, the dark cold hours stretched before me.

Fortunately, I still had a dial tone. I called the power company to report the outage, using the old-fashioned phone that I'll never get rid of. It's extremely hard to replace, I've discovered. Fancy cordless phones are a dime-a-dozen, but just try to buy a phone that doesn't require an electrical cord!

I puttered around the house, striving to keep warm. I read a book. I took a phone call. I went to the bathroom, armed with a lantern. The phone rang again. I make it a rule never to run to answer the phone. Whoever it is can call again, if it is really that important.

I began another book. My cell phone rang. I took the call. Then I decided to take a nap to get warm, but just then the power came back on. I turned up the furnace, which, although it is gas-powered, ignites through electricity. I had just settled back to watch a classic Star Trek episode when the power went off again. I called the utility to report the new outage.

Now the power is back, but who knows for how long? It's just been that kind of a day.

I hope you had a more productive day. What did you do?

Mar 7, 2013

Everything is Going to Be Okay

by Kari Diane Pike

 February 2013.
 If you have any idea where February 2013 disappeared to, please contact me immediately.

Seriously. I know February has fewer days than any other month, but I feel like I barely stepped out of January. Wasn't Christmas just a couple of weeks ago? I thought I dreamed upValentine's Day and here I am a week into March.

Our son gets married in 16 days. Three days later, I have a huge work conference to attend -- for three days! Three weeks after that is an open house for said son and his new bride. The next week I get to be an honorary family member for a friend who is getting married to the love of her life. (She is from Pakistan and England and has no family here.) Two weeks after that, our youngest daughter graduates from high school and leaves for Brigham Young University. Then it's summer break and family reunions and trips to Utah and the ANWA Arizona retreat (which I really, really want to attend) and then school starts again. I don't even want to think about how the holidays nip at the heals of school beginning.  Aack!

I've been pondering on how different life is this year than during our adventurous 2012. I think the biggest difference is in my personal growth. I came to that conclusion after watching Sunday night's CES broadcast (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosts a broadcast from their church education system for young and single adults every few months). You see, a couple of weeks ago, my EBF (eternal best friend, aka, dear hubby)and I were asked to be the speakers during Sacrament meeting on Easter Sunday. While I am grateful for an opportunity to share my testimony of the Atonement, I also feel a great deal of responsibility. There are people who attend church on Easter Sunday who don't normally attend at any other time. What can I say that will help them feel the love the Savior has for them...for all of us? I was praying about my concerns when I heard about Elder and Sister Bednar's talks

  • A testimony of the Atonement directs us, empowers us, and helps us to hold on when we do not understand God's will for us.
  • "Not shrinking is more important than surviving." (Neal A. Maxwell)
  • We can learn to "partake of the bitter cup" without becoming bitter -- everything we endure builds our character and helps us overcome the natural man as we learn to submissively accept His will and timing and submit to all things.
  • The Master cares. He calms the the waters. Do we believe Him?
A view from our tent trailer in Alpine, Utah - July 2012. We were just a little over 2 miles from the source of this fire. Fortunately, the winds calmed and shifted direction. We even received much needed rain that very night. Heavenly Father does hear and answer our prayers.

 I will never forget the terror that gripped me last summer when the winds whipped out of the canyons of northern Utah and threatened to overturn the tent trailer in which we were living. Huddled next to my EBF, buried under blankets to stay warm and block out the noise of falling tree branches and flying debris, all I could do was pray. A hymn came to mind and as I sang its sweet message, I felt myself encircled in the arms of the Savior's love.
" I will not doubt, I will not fear;
 God's love and strength are always near.
 His promised gift helps me to find 
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
 My trust, my prayers, humility. 
His Spirit guides; his love assures that fear departs when faith endures."
"When Faith Endures", Hymns, #128

Not until I heard Elder Bednar's talk did I truly understand why and how that peace and comfort came to me. I knew, deep down that no matter what the outcome, everything would be okay -- because Jesus Christ does love us. He lived,  He suffered, He died, and He lived again, so that we don't have to perish.

I learned that I believe in the Savior, and I believe Him. No matter how things happen, everything is going to be okay.

Now go listen to Elder and Sister Bednar. Your heart will never be the same. I promise.


Mar 6, 2013

Writers Write!!

By Jill Burgoyne

I was talking to a lady at a subway restaurant and told her that I was a writer. She told me that she had "tons of really good ideas" but she just didn't know where to go from there. "How do you become a writer?" Well, I believe that the distinction between a writer and a non-writer is that: writers write. We put priority on it and we practice it, and we perfect it.

As a young mother of 2 with one due in 4.5 weeks, I am definitely facing some priority collisions. It already takes a tremendous effort for me to get 20 minutes of straight, quiet, writing, but when baby comes, I KNOW that I'll have to be creative. I make myself write 15 minutes a day. My days are just happier when I do. When baby comes, 15 minutes might dwindle to 10 minutes or even just a few sentences- in the words of a fellow writer "One page a day adds up".

When I wanted to complete a manuscript, I made a goal of 2,000 words a day. I finished the manuscript in 3 weeks. It was great! And I was a little sleepy at the end of it. But I accomplished my goal. When we write, we are practicing and perfecting our craft.

Writers write. That's what we do.

Mar 4, 2013

By Tracy Astle

There are lots of advantages about getting older. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

For example, I've been big into goal setting since my early college days. In my twenties and thirties I would set a good , focused goal and head out full steam ahead. Let nothing get in my way!

Except something always did.

Maybe I wasn't so good at being realistic about my goals. Just maybe. Maybe I was a little better at getting discouraged or frustrated by my inability to reach my goals as quickly as I thought I should.

Right now my writing goals are also appropriately specific, but here's the difference - I'm wiser. I've been working for five years on a writing project which at the start I figured might take a year or two. And at this point in my life I'm okay with that. Before? Not so much.

So, the bottom line here is that while goals are very important for continuing our progress, so is maintaining our sanity. Relaxing and recognizing the forward movement we're making, even if it's waaaaaay slower than we hoped or expected, is not only okay, but wise. If we're doing what God asks of us, we're good. His timetable is often different than ours, whether slower or faster. Our Father loves us all along the way and appreciates our efforts. Shouldn't we, too?

Mar 2, 2013

Mother's Advice

by Cindy R. Williams

I'm finally old enough to realize how wise my own mother is. It only took me thirty-plus years to figure this out.

Mom stopped by today for our weekly lunch. She left a paper on my roll top desk without saying a word. You see, she learned long ago, that I listen to her counsel better when she gives it in a more back door, you discover it yourself, fashion.

Here is what the paper said:



I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner. I use shampoo in the shower. When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body, and printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning, "FOR EXTRA BODY AND VOLUME."

No wonder I have been gaining weight! Well, I have now gotten rid of that shampoo and I'm going to start showering with Dawn dish soap instead. It's label reads, "DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE."

Problem solved!

If I don't answer the phone, I'll be in the shower.

My mother is full of good advice!

Mar 1, 2013

ANWA Conference Top 10

by Beckie Carlson

I attended the ANWA conference last week and came away with ten things I learned. I would like to share them with you all here. These are in no particular order, just how they happened upon my mind.

1. Everyone has a 'personal mythology' as James Owen says, we all just need to find ours. I have been discovering the truth of this over the past week. My past is kind of interesting...stay tuned!
2. Just because a person is a writer, doesn't mean they know anything, or everything. I was one of those that had to look up what a "protagonist" was before I could find a costume for our Protagonist Ball.
3. There are people in the world that haven't read The Tale of Despareaux. I am not sure why this is true, it is a most spectacular book. You will fall in love with it.
4. Some people don't want help. We had some sessions where we shared what he had written and gotten feedback. I love hearing good things about my stories, but it is hard to hear criticism. I think I did okay though. Some people don't do okay with's not personal!
5. The Hilton in Mesa has not changed since 1986 when I went to prom there. I think they carpet is the exact same carpet I danced those two dances on. I could be wrong...but why duplicate those colors?
6. Just because I am 'away at a conference' does not mean I got any sleep. It wasn't like a Stampin' Up! convention where I stayed up all night playing, I stayed up all night doing homework. I came home more tired than when I left. SO not fair.
7. Arizona has freaky weather. As I drove into the hotel, the sky started spewing out these balls of what can only be described as semi-solid-slush. It was pretty amazing, but made the blinding sun even brighter. I'm lucky I made it alive.
8. Writers are their best customers. Yes, we had a bookstore at the conference and yes, I bought a truck load of books. You are welcome fellow authors, be prepared to pay me back next year!
9. Naps can happen anywhere. After reading the feedback on a few of my "beginning of book" entries, I instantly fell asleep on a chair in the lobby. Maybe this was to avoid the feelings of failure, rejection, euphoria, and concern that the comments brought on...or maybe due to all that late night homework. You judge.
and last but not least.....
10. Agents are people too. I had the opportunity to talk to, eat with, and generally hob-nob with some agents that were super nice. I truly enjoyed them and their feedback. Especially the ones that requested my books!
All in all, it was a fabulous week. I suggest you become a writer, if you aren't already one, so you can join us next year! I didn't even mention all the good food and chocolate.....totally worth it! Cause I said so!