May 31, 2013

Writers and Cataracts

by Marsha Ward

What's a writer to do when the eyes start to give out?

Apparently, sometime in the not so distant future, this writer faces surgery for cataracts. The mere thought of someone mucking about with a cutting instrument anywhere in the vicinity of my eyes fills me with terror.

Somewhere, I picked up a snippet of information about preparation for a procedure. One may choose to have inserted--in place of the cloudy lens--either a corrective replacement lens for close vision, or one to allow distant vision.

I'm sure some of you have undergone such a surgery.  Or you may have a friend or relative who has done so.

In light of the close vision needed for computer work, which all writers do daily, what choice have you or other writers made?

Close or far? What should I choose? 

Discuss. . .

May 30, 2013

Keep Pedaling!

by Kari Diane Pike

Oh, how it did this fifty-something-year-old's ego good when I started pedaling the bike and noticed how much more strength I seemed to have than when I first started cycling. Seriously, I felt like I was flying down the road. At last, I was seeing the results of hard work and the sacrifice of hot fudge sundaes and Reese's peanut butter cups. Until I turned the corner -- and had to ride uphill -- facing the wind. Talk about a bubble bursting experience.

I pedaled harder and changed gears, and still nearly came to a stop. I considered turning around and riding my course in the opposite direction, but then realized that all that would change was the location of the challenges. What goes down, must come up. At some point, I would still have to face the hills and the wind. I had two choices: keep pedaling, or give up and walk the bike home.

I realized that quitting wouldn't help me reach my fitness goal, so I chose to keep riding. I leaned forward over the handlebars to reduce some of the resistance and faced my challenge head on. I turned another corner and with the wind once again at my back, I sat up straight. The wind became my friend and pushed me forward to yet another challenge. The experience made me think about a quote I read the other day:

"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?" (Abraham Lincoln)

Okay. That lead me to this thought: The culture I grew up in taught me that "pain" is a bad thing, that something is wrong and that I should avoid it as much as possible. If something seems too hard, then I probalby shouldn't be doing it. Pain is my enemy.

What would happen if I were to take Lincoln's advice and make "pain" my friend?

Pain can tell me when I need to make changes -- changes in my physical activities, my eating habits, and even changes in my attitude. A little bit of pain can precede a fabulous spurt in growth. But like any worthwhile friendship, I have to pay attention. If I ignore the pain, it will find ways to make me pay heed. Pain also feeds on fear and can grow to monstrous proportions. I realized that my fear of pain is what keeps me from realizing my dreams and achieving my goals.

So what would happen if I were to change the way I perceive pain? What would happen if I were to stop being afraid of challenges and the possibility of pain and embraced them instead? In the scriptures, the Lord told Adam that "cursed shall be the ground for thy sake" (Moses 4:23). Challenges are meant to be a blessing! By looking at challenges and pain as opportunities for growth -- by making them my friend -- I will find that nothing is impossible.

May 25, 2013

Donny and Marie

by Cindy R. Williams

 Donny and Marie. What does that mean to you? A little bit country? A little bit rock and roll? Paper Roses? Puppy Love? Mulon? Depends what year you were born.

Sure, I grew up with them. I even attended Marie's wedding reception when she married Steve Craig --the first time.

I will be attending the Donny and Marie Show in Las Vegas with my mom, husband, son and daughter and son-in-law soon. It will be my second time seeing them in the past six months.

My mother is a huge Donny fan and gave us tickets to see their Christmas show at the Gammage. It was incredible. Donny and Marie are true showmen/women/people!  Both have incredibly trained voices and insane stage presence.

Let me tell you a little story about my mom and Donny Osmond. A couple of years ago, my brother took our mom to Las Vegas to see the Donny and Marie show for her birthday. (He always does one-up my sister and me.)  They arrived just in time to unload their luggage in their hotel room and change for the show. Mom was so excited that after she brushed her teeth, she forgot to put her one false tooth back in. It is the second from the top front, so yeah, it shows. She, and said brown nosing brother, hurried to the show.

Afterword, there was an opportunity to shake Donny's hand and get an autographed picture. They waited in line and when it was their turn, Mom grinned with her mouth closed but wouldn't talk. My brother is a funny guy. He told Donny that Mom was a super fan, but embarrassed because she forgot her tooth. Mom about melted into the ground. Donny flashed his million dollar smile then quickly grabbed an 8 by 10 glossy, signed it and handed it to Mom.

When they got back to their hotel room, Mom looked at the picture. Donny had written, "To my dear friend. Don't forget your tooth!  Love, Donny.

I am looking forward to the show, not only to see Donny and Marie, but to watch my dear mother act like a kid in a candy shop.

Donny and Marie forever!

May 24, 2013

Too Good Tuba True


By Beckie Carlson

Mr. Matthews was an amazing band teacher. No, he wasn't my teacher, he was my kids' teacher in Junior High. He was fun, engaging, and knowledgeable. He told a daily joke, usually a "yo mamma" joke, which the kids would bring home to me...their 'mamma.' He made band fun. Kids that normally wouldn't dream of setting foot in a band room, were lining up to be a part of his posse.
When a student reached the sixth grade in our school district, they all went on a 'field trip' to the Junior High for Band Day. Mr. Matthews had every kid try every instrument, whether they were interested in playing it or not. Students that already played each instrument were there to listen and take notes on the instrument trials. It was a pretty cool process. After the kids all got their 'scores,' Mr. Matthews would talk to them individually about what they played well. His theory was, if an instrument is easy for you to play, it might be the one you want to focus on. Even if you dreamed your entire life about being a world renown tuba player....if playing the oboe came easier...pick that one. He told the kids they could play whatever they wanted, but getting good at something that came easy as opposed to something that was hard....well, it was just easier! It made a lot of sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now.
Some things in life are just easier for us than others. I wanted to be an accountant when I first started college.....many years ago. Unfortunately, after a couple attempts, I figured out I really sucked at accounting. I could have beat my head against the wall for years, determined to be an accountant, damn it, but I didn't. I changed my path and tried different things til I found something that was easier. That happened to be getting married and raising six kids for a couple decades, but whatever. Now that I am back at school, learning to be a teacher has been easy for me. I could have gone into medical stuff...but, that would not have been easy simply because I hate sick people. (sorry...)
Other things in my life have shown themselves worthy of my time because they came easy to me. I can talk about most anything like I am an authority, I can make almost anything that requires a glue gun, I can do almost any household repair using a table knife and tweezers, and I'm reeeal good at putting homework off til the last minute while I update my blog.
There have been things in my life that I may have really wanted to do, that I really had a driving urge or desire to make work, but were as far from the easy side of the scale as the side borders of Texas are to each other. Those things have been and are being purged.  Those things are not worth my time and energy. Life isn't about being miserable all the time as we stretch ourselves to reach unrealistic and hard goals. Yes, I believe in stretching and bettering myself, but....I don't think we need to kill our selves, our passion, or our spirit to do so.  I've found a happy easy place....and I'm staying. Cause I said so.

Photo credit:

May 23, 2013

Out of Commission

By Susan Knight

Posting early because after May 17 I will be recuperating from surgery. I hope I am finally going to get my foot/ankle fixed. If you think about it, please pray for me.

Had the privilege of attending LDStorymakers and came home exhilarated, but exhausted. I am discouraged, yet delighted. You know how it goes. I think, overall, I am overwhelmed. I need a break to decompress from all the information I received. I took notes because my addled brain could not begin to remember all I learned.

Before my surgery, I made sure I planted delightsome colors in my flower gardens and hope to enjoy them through the windows, from my recliner, while convalescing.

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day. Mine was superb. Got to see all my kids. That's what Mother's Day is all about, right?

Have a very pleasant May!

May 22, 2013


by Kami Cornwall

Why is it that as soon as I step into the bathroom I miss an important phone call, a child comes screaming through the front door, or some other catastrophe chooses to occur?

Or that I'm only mildly interested in eating healthier after I've gorged myself on a breakfast of chocolate-coated sugar cubes? (They just sounded so good!)

And why am I at my most productive the day I finally decide to sit down and pay the bills? Man! I get everything done that day! Return phone calls, respond to e-mails, make the house will have to come later. Ahem.

Why does that "productive" day only come maybe once a month for me? maybe we're getting into some sort of weird she-biology thing relating to the cycles of the moon and I am NOT about to go there. NO! IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT!!!   WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?!?!

Also, I would like to write a note to Mother Nature and ask her to PLEASE make up her mind already! Is it still Winter? Did we jump to Summer already? But no...we went back to Spring again today. It's like she's spinning a giant roulette wheel and we're all standing on the sidelines rubbing our hands together saying, "Let's goooooo Summer! Come on! Come on....lucky number seven!" I don't know. What I DO know is that I haven't planted my seeds yet because I just know that I'm going to be lying out in the sun on my beach towel and sunglasses when she will come sweeping in and cover me in a blanket of snow. Poof! 'Cause she likes to keep us guessing. Thanks, Mother Nature. Awesome.

In other news...the elementary schools are going to be releasing the newest batch of CRAZY kids in a few weeks for summer break. Last year I tried to create a schedule for them. EPIC FAIL. Why try?

May 21, 2013

Please Pray for Oklahoma

by Terri Wagner

I guess nothing else can be said or requested that has more power than that statement. I live too far away to jump in my car and go help...although I did during Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. Those first few moments are so very fleeing. At first you are just grateful you surivived, stunned at those who did not. You are grieving and yet joyful somehow that you are ok. Then comes the realization of what you have lost. No matter how much we say it's just things, the truth is it's our things that just got wiped out. And over time that begins to hurt more than we thought it would.

When those dark clouds, wind, and rain blow away, you find yourself in a very strange place emotionally. Suddenly nothing is safe. Time never quite heals the wound. It justs soothes the rawness of it for a while. It comes back. Everytime the sirens go off, everytime the dark clouds gather, everytime it takes you back. It's like mourning over and over again. And you grieve when it happens to others.

I lived in Topeka Kansas on June 8, 1966 when an F5 hit the town. I remember the joy we were ok, the dismay of the ones that did not make it, the stories that tore your heart out, the destruction that is never really captured in a photo. Mostly, I remember the fear, the pain, the disbelief.

I also remember that people went to churches, prayed in the streets and on what used to be their front door. God was the only rock in a world gone dramatically wrong. Yes, there are those who curse God and demand to know why did He let this happen. But even that anger drains away in the face of scores of those who reach out to help. He's there, using their hands, their faces, their assistance. It dulls the pain just a tiny bit for just a moment.

So I pray when disasters of any kind happen. I rush to help in any way I can, because I know it makes a difference.

May 20, 2013

Be Brave

By Claire Enos

Have any of you heard Sara Bareilles' song, Brave? My sister has been listening to the song nonstop since she heard about it a week or two ago. I love the meaning behind the song, and the lyrics are magical in the musical/poetic way.

Last semester in my creative non-fiction class, one of the pieces I worked on was a mesh of song lyrics, meanings to me personally, and personal stories from my life and how they all seem to meld together in my mind. My writing is inspired by the music I listen to a lot of times.

I think it's important to remember to be ourselves, be brave and let the words flow, whether they are on paper or in a group of friends, acquaintances, or even complete strangers. No one is going to know who we are if we are constantly hiding behind a mask. After all, they can't see inside your mind. They don't know who you really are on the inside if you don't show it on the outside.

Yesterday, I went to my ward at church here in Las Vegas for the first time, and one of the speakers talked about how no one knows who we are as well as God does. He knows us inside and out, even the parts of us we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves. He knows what we're good at, and what we're bad at. He knows us for who we truly are and he still loves us unconditionally. If we all knew everyone else the way He knows us, there's no way we couldn't love each and every one of our brothers and sisters down here on Earth.

So, be brave. Let the words flow. Be yourself. This world would be a much better place if we just let ourselves be known by all around us.

Much love,

Me on my 21st b-day. True happiness right there ^-^
When are we more ourselves, than when we are truly happy?!

May 17, 2013

1,000 True Fans

by Marsha Ward*

In my perusal of Twitter links, I ran across a reference to "1,000 True Friends", and decided to find out where it came from and what it could mean for me.

I tracked it down to an original post called "1,000 True Fans" on The Technium, written by Kevin Kelly, an "original thinker," blogger, and technology writer. I'm sure he is many other things, as we all are, but let's just call him what I already have, for the sack of brevity.

Kelly asserts that a creator--such as an artist, musician, or author, among others who create works of art--needs to acquire and maintain only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

He defines a True Fan as one who will purchase anything and everything you produce. If your 1,000 True Fans each spend an average of $100 a year on your work, your income will amount to $100,000 a year. Minus your expenses and taxes, that's a living for most folks.


I probably spend $1,000 to $1,500 a year on books. I don't think the average person does that, but I hope some of my readers would spend some of their book money on my novels.

But do I have anywhere near 1,000 True Fans?

Let's see. As I write this** I have 559 Facebook friends, 161 Fans on my FB Fan Page, 223 Followers on Twitter, and 69 Friends on Goodreads (although I'm sure a lot of those are duplicates), so, in theory, I'm nearing the 1,000 goal. But here's a question: Are they True Fans by definition? Do they each buy $100 worth of my product each year?

Well, no. Not all the friends I've mentioned above care that I write novels. Some are chums from long-ago school days. Some are extended family members I barely know. Some are friends or relatives of my friends. Besides that, I don't have $100 worth of product to sell to my True Fans, even if they each paid into my wild fantasy of making a living from writing. I have much work to do to create product for fans, and to make alternative and derivative works available to my True Fans.

Kelly mentions that once you've found your 1,000 True Fans, you need to nurture them. You have to maintain direct contact with them. Technology makes this possible. Tweets and blogs and emails and Facebook help a great deal.

I still have a long way to go to achieve a fandom of 1,000 True Fans, but I hope I'm on my way.

Oh, and did you know WD-40 can be used to untangle jewelry chains? 

* first published on "The Ink Ladies" blog, 9-23-2009
** Updated figures: 1,179 Facebook friends, 728 Fans on my Facebook Author Page (plus 141 Fans on a Page for my novel series), 932 Twitter Followers, and 464 Goodreads Friends. Still not making a living from writing, though.

May 16, 2013

Living in the Moment

The "Thinking Critically" exercise in my textbook instructed me to select a task that I normally dislike or avoid and perform that task with mindfulness. Since exercising is the most common "task" I tend to avoid, I decided to go on a walk/jog/run. Normally, I would grab my phone and ear buds and listen to music or talks or other media...anything to take my mind off of the idea that I am exercising and also to make it easier for me to justify the time spent in the activity as "worthwhile". I often make phone calls. Yes, I am a multi-tasker. (What mom isn't?) This time I left the ear buds behind and the phone off..
At first, I focused my attention on what I felt physically. I noticed I held a lot of tension in my shoulders and hands and that when I released that tension, I had more energy to use as I walked and jogged. I counted the steps I took with each breath in and out. I let go of the anxiousness I felt to get the whole thing over with! I gave attention to the path I was traveling and noticed the differences in the several types of paths - gravel, dirt, concrete, asphalt, and a little grass. I also noticed that the bridge across the paseo has quite a bit of motion to it when heavy traffic passes over it. When I arrived at the bottom of the paseo, I noticed that the temperature dropped by several degrees from what it was on the road above. The humidity was higher, and there were more insects. When I focused on breathing and counting steps, I found myself less aware of the distractions from traffic noises. On the other hand, when I turned my attention to my surroundings, I noticed sounds I had previously been unaware children playing in a distant school yard, dogs barking, birds calling, etc. I even discovered where a bunch of feral cats hide in the storm drains.Time went much faster than I thought it would. I was sure that paying attention and being present in the moment would make the task seem endless. My anxiety melted away and even though my muscles were tired, my mind was alert and I felt an inner energy I had been missing earlier.

I am going to apply more of this principle to other areas of my life -- living in the present and savoring each moment. I even tried it while folding laundry yesterday. I don't get quite as many different tasks accomplished, but I am finding that I remember more, forget less, and have less anxiety. I make fewer mistakes and I feel a greater sense of appreciation for the beauty of the world around me and the challenges I am experiencing. I am more aware of the needs of others, and best of all, I feel an increased closeness to the Spirit. 

So, what task do you usually avoid? What is keeping you from it? How can you learn from it?


May 11, 2013

Basketball Quote

by Cindy R. Williams

My family loves basketball. In fact, my husband says that basketball is the Celestial sport. The rest of the Williams' clan either laugh or step away to avoid a possible strike of lightening.

He may have a point though. Check out this quote I wrote.

Basketball is like life. You can be the ball and leave your fate up to others to control, or you can be a player and take control.

Make your choice, are you the ball or the player?

May 10, 2013


By Beckie Carlson

This week was fun. I had the supreme opportunity to test kindergarten students in math and reading. If you have never had this amazing priviledge, you really have not lived. I'm not exactly sure where the word 'kindergarten' comes from, and I'm to lazy to look, but I'm thinking it has something to do with the virtual 'garden' of different personalities, abilities, and talents of children this age. They are an absolute delight. Well, until they sneeze on your or wipe something foreign on your new favorite skirt. But I digress....
Testing Kinder takes a certain kind of mentality. You can't really go into it very serious. The test is spelled out as to what the test giver says, but the kinders never seem to have gotten the memo about what they are supposed to say. The following are some actual answers to questions I gave this week, in no apparent order.

Q: Dan was a tall man. His sister Emily wanted an apple she couldn't reach so Dan got it for her. What did Dan look like?
A: He had on a white shirt, red pants and brown shoes. He had yellow hair and blue eyes.

Q: An adventure is an experience that is new and exciting, like taking a boat down a river or going hiking in the woods for the first time. Use the word Adventure in a sentence.
A: I'm going on a adventure to do mushrooms.
(I had to ask another question here.....)
Q: You are going to do mushrooms?

A: Oh! I mean Marshmallows! (giggles......)

Q: This word is GOOD. Which of these words, boy, bad, mean, cry....are the opposite of Good?
A: Puppy
The student I loved/hated testing the most was very consistent in his answers. For every question on the reading test, he gave the confident answer of ROPE. I'm not exactly sure why he was so obsessed with ROPE, but at least he was consistent. I think he has a very bright future ahead of him. I mean, if you are consistent....that's really all you need.
Next week we get to do more testing. I think I speak for everyone when I say we truly love testing the kids. It is right up there with waxing my brows or scrapping bunions off my big toe. Nothing compares. I'll try and keep a notepad handy so I can record some more gems for you all. Until then, if you want to recapture your youth, start saying random things. I'm pretty sure someone with recognize the child in you and send you to time out...If you are lucky....cause I said so.

Photo credit:

May 9, 2013

Reality Check

By Susan Knight


When I was a kid, I often looked at my mom’s vaccination scar on her upper right arm and wondered why it was so big.*

“Mine’s not that big,” my little self would say as I compared my arm to my mother’s.

A few days ago, since the weather is warming and short sleeves are more prevalent, I happened to glance in the mirror, and what did I see out of the corner of my eye?

“Holy cow,” my older self said as I stopped in my tracks. I did a double take in the mirror and saw my eyes widen as I spied my mother’s vaccination scar—on my arm.

I looked at myself then at the reflection of my arm, and realized it is in the same predicament as my widened gut and expanded butt.

“Sorry, mom,” I said as I stared at my arm. “All this time I thought my doctor was better precisioned than yours.”

Then I remembered . . . small town life . . . we had the same doctor.


*Those of you who are of my baby boomer generation, will know what I’m talking about.

May 8, 2013

Keeping Your Head Above Water

by Kami Cornwall

     Just when I thought my life was already busy, I have been thrust into three more weeks of school. I like school, but this feels more like being forced to sprint after you've already ran twelve miles. It's six hours of class per day plus four hours of reading and another hour of writing. Oh, plus I "get to" come up with a presentation on two days.
     Did I ever tell you how I learned to swim? We were at "Lucky Peak" (somewhere in Idaho) and I was about 7 years old. My older brother and sister waded out into the river, pulling me along with them while my mom stayed safely on shore with baby sister. We played, we hopped, we went deeper. They were taller than me but I wanted to keep up. So I began bobbing up for air and moving deeper into the river. Finally, my instincts kicked in and I began kicking and flailing my arms fast so that I could keep my head above water and realized with glee that I was not about to die. Instead I shouted, "Look! I can swim!"
     Do you ever feel like you're doggie-paddling your way through some days? Or weeks? That will be me for the next three. I'm really hoping that I'll get to that euphoric moment when I can shout, "Hey, look! I'm not gonna die! I can swim!"

May 7, 2013

I feel like a wet noodle

by Terri Wagner

Starting a new job is a nightmare of wet noodle proportions. So is starting a new book. And for that matter starting a new life. We have had several baptisms in our small branch which is like starting a whole new life. Why does it bring such a huge emotional response?

Nerves get shot, things get forgotten, important things get lost, unimportant things become niece calls this microfocusing. I call it wet noodle. You get up, you get down, you get worn out. First there's the excitement. I got the job!!!! I found my plot!!!! I started that new diet!!! I succeeded!!!! Look at me, I'm doing great.

Then comes the moment. You walk in to the new job, first day; you open the document, and write the first scene; you put on tight clothes, and they aren't tight anymore. Life feels surreal.

Two or three days into it, you are still on a high. Grateful relief flooding through you. Two, three weeks into the new job, and you are starting to fit in, feel somewhat knowledgeable, find a lunch buddy, figure out the lunch system, learn the important rules, find a rhythm. Same for writing. You hit a stride, words fly on the page as fast as you can type (or write), the characters come together, conversations make sense. The new diet doesn't leave you starving, in fact, you like it. The clothes are getting looser.

Then somehow it all flattens out. In spite of your best intentions, you start to realize this isn't your dream job, or not going to turn out to be that dream job. You say something you probably shouldn't have, you have an encounter with an employee you don't know how to handle, your boss becomes distant and possibly threatening. The words stop. The characters seem mundane. You can't think where to go next. The diet becomes limiting, confining, hard. The clothes don't get looser.

You wet noodle. The rush of emotion and excitement fade. It all becomes routine. You dread getting up to go to work or in the very least it just seems another day another dollar. The words revert to "said," "saw," "was," "were." Some people even begin the old habits of procrastination, whining, eating too much candy or just too much of all the "forbidden" foods. The bigger clothes come back to the front of the closet.

Why? Are we hard wired to wet noodle? Can we stop the downward slide? Why can't we stay laser focused? Centuries of wisdom indicates that the turtle wins because the rabbit stops running, distracts himself from the goal, wet noodles out. The turtle stays microfocused and wins the race.

How do you survive the wet noodle? That's my new quest...find the way to keep the excitement as positive as when I started so I win the race. How do you handle the wet noodle?

May 6, 2013

No Regrets

By Claire Enos

Every second of every minute of every day we are faced with choices. Should I wake up early today? Or should I stay up late tonight? I'm not going anywhere: should I stay in my pajamas all day, or change into clothes? Every day, we are faced with millions of choices, and although they may not seem important at the time, invariably all choices become important. Why? Because each choice we make leads to another set of choices, and those lead to another, and another until we are faced with the big, deep questions.

So, what leads most of us to make decisions? What factors play a part in our decisions? I don't know about other people, but a lot of times I choose what's easy. And that may not always be what's right. In fact, usually I know that my decision isn't right, especially when it's easy. Take yesterday, for instance. I could have gone to church, a ward I've never been too, but it's so different and new and alien to me that I made up an excuse not to go. Now, I have to live with that decision and face the fact that I may have missed out on something wonderful. For example, what if I would have made a really great friend by going to church today? Now, I will never know what would or could have happened.

Sometimes, choices lead to regrets, especially easy choices. Those choices which don't push us to try something new or something outside of our comfort zones. That's one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn over the years, but perhaps the most rewarding; because once I've come to that conclusion like I did yesterday (after thinking about what I missed out on), perhaps it will be easier to make a hard decision, one that pushes my limits and takes me outside my comfort zone.

So, having said all that: I challenge each and every one of my readers to consider the lesson I've learned and perhaps make a hard decision, something that requires you to take a step or two outside your comfort zone and do something you know will be/could be rewarding for you. And keep in mind, all your little choices lead to the big ones so "keep your eyes on the prize" and it'll be so much easier to make the hard decisions, or so I believe.


May 5, 2013

Finding Joy in the Journey

By Jennifer Debenham

As a girl, one of my favorite movies was "Summer Magic," starring Hayley Mills. In one memorable scene, the main character, Nancy, is bustling about preparing a garden party that her spoiled older cousin, Julia, was supposed to be helping her with, but Julia is nowhere to be found. By the time the party begins, Nancy is exhausted. Then Julia enters, looking the picture of relaxation in a beautiful dress and perfectly coiffed hair. Nancy expresses her frustration that Julia has not helped with the preparations of the party, and her cousin just smiles and tells her she should go get a lemonade because she looks flustered and tired.

Often when I have had a crazy-busy day (or week or month) I find myself thinking of that scene and how MUCH I can relate to Nancy--especially as the mother of teenagers who seem quite adept at portraying the Julia character in any given situation.

It occurs to me that the garden party is a lot like life. Don't we all get a little burdened with all the details? All the responsibilities?

The other day, as I was preparing to teach a Relief Society lesson, I came across a talk by President Monson, from October, 2008, entitled "Finding Joy in the Journey." It is a great reminder about what is really important in life, and it was the perfect message for me during my busy week. You can read it here.

May 3, 2013

Achieving Goals

by Marsha Ward

At the beginning of this year I wrote out a list of goals in a Word document. I didn't go into the multiple areas of life the way other people do. I kept this list centered around my writing life and career.

I divided the list into two areas of emphasis: THINGS I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH IN 2013, and THINGS I COMMITTED TO DO IN 2013, sort of internal vs external forces at work. The original version had about ten things in the list at the top and five at the bottom.

Since the page looked so bare, I copied the goals a second time at the bottom of the page, and when I printed it out, put the two copies in two places in my house where I could see them.

Soon, I discovered that the date of one retreat I had planned to attend conflicted with a convention I was obliged to attend, so I had to revise the list.

This revision process is ongoing, as I cross off goals achieved and add new ones. I have even added others I achieved despite them not even being on the original list.

Today, I split off a section from the first list, as it had grown enough to be accounted as another area of endeavor. This one is EVENTS I WILL ATTEND AND/OR PRESENT AT IN 2013. You see, as the year progressed, I found myself in demand for speaking engagements at conferences and other events, so I had added those engagements to the list.
Now there is only room for one copy of the list on the page. It includes things I had not thought about at the beginning of the year, but which have become goals or been accomplished, such as when the need for a new hosting provider from my website arose. Vital steps were involved that I needed to accomplish, so they went on the list.

Here we are in May, nearly to the mid-point of the year. How am I doing with my goals? Is my list helping me to achieve them?

Yes. Absolutely. I have crossed off multiple goals, including most of what I committed myself to do during the year.

I can give one huge yes to an item that was number two on the list: re-publication of the print version of The Man from Shenandoah by my own company. Big Happy Dance!!!

I now have books in hand. Autographed copies will be sold from a new website, WestWardBooks.

Preparing for and creating this website was one of the things I added to my list of goals after I had achieved it. I know many other people with ADHD who make daily lists, then have to add the things they actually accomplished just so they can cross them off, too. Hey! It works for validation and for figuring out where the lost hours went. Huh. I actually did do something today. My goals list is helping me get things accomplished, and I'm glad I made and continue to refine it.

Recently, I began to set weekly writing goals at the online ANWA chapter to which I belong. The intent is to help me be accountable for writing progress.

Is this weekly goal-setting exercise working for me? Sometimes yes, sometimes, no. Some days my writing time is devoted to research and/or the making of charts or graphs. In the main, it has been successful for keeping me on track with achieving my goals.

Whew! I just deleted a huge tangent I went on. I'll use it in another blog at another time.

Do you use lists to help yourself achieve your goals? Tell me how writing down your goals works for you, or how making a list might help.

May 2, 2013

This is only a test.

by Kari Diane Pike

My dad and step-mom had just driven away after a delightful month-long visit and wedding celebration. I walked into the kitchen, determined to keep a cheerful disposition despite feelings of exhaustion and "after-the-event let-down". I opened the crammed-full refrigerator and grabbed a carton of almond milk from the top shelf. Blueberry juice, from a hidden bag of crepe toppings, dripped down my arm and onto my shirt. When I lifted the package of lunch meat sitting next to the milk, more juice poured to the floor. Closer inspection revealed streaks of the purple sticky stuff running down the entire inside of the refrigerator.

Annoyed, but not dismayed, I turned to the pantry to get something to clean up the mess, only to discover bags of chips and other "side dishes" I had forgotten to serve at out family dinner two days before. Tears ran down my cheeks.  I felt so stupid. Such a little thing to send me over the edge of despair. I wanted to throw myself on the floor and scream and kick my feet. Then five little words spoke to me:

"This is only a test."

If you grew up in the 60s and 70s, you'll recognize that phrase right away. I'll bet you can even "hear" the voice. It was part of the script used by the Emergency Broadcast System. Wikipedia tells us:

"The Emergency Broadcast System was established to provide the President of the United States with an expeditious method of communicating with the American public in the event of war, threat of war, or grave national crisis."[1] It replaced CONELRAD on August 5, 1963.[2] In later years, it was expanded for use during peacetime emergencies at the state and local levels.[1] Although the system was never used for a national emergency, it was activated more than 20,000 times between 1976 and 1996 to broadcast civil emergency messages and warnings of severe weather hazards."

All through my growing up years, a loud tone would play on the TV or radio to get the listener or viewer to pay attention and then you would hear something like this:

“This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and official information."  

As a child, the sound of that high-pitched tone would strike fear into my heart, along with visions of mushroom clouds and world destruction -- until I heard those comforting words that assured me that I and my loved ones were not in any real danger. 

This time, I recognized the voice of the Holy Ghost as he brought me much needed comfort and peace. I also knew that if I was in any real danger, the Spirit could instruct me as well as warn me. By listening to that still, small voice I will always find peace and protection.

Life itself is a test and the Holy Ghost is my personal E.B.S. As I exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, keep my covenants, and serve with all my heart, I will be able to hear His warnings and know where to turn. 

This is a test. It is only a test --


May 1, 2013

Differences in English

By Jill Burgoyne

My Bachelor's degree is in Linguistics (Okay, well officially its English with a Linguistics Concentration, but it's Linguistics). I LOVE my degree. I loved going to school for it and I have always had an insane fascination with language.

Recently, I have been pondering language and specifically British English vs American English. I'm going to jump to some generalizations here, and I hope not to offend anyone. By drawing on some personal experience and also how the British Accent is perceived. Now: it is important to note that there is more than just one British accent. In London alone, there are several different accents (Wikipedia specifies three different accents). But it didn't mention one we talked about in class that we referred to as the Queen's English or RP (Received Pronunciation). This one is what we typically think of when we think about a British accent.

My husband and I spent some time in Europe before our babies were born. (We had a honeymoon baby, so I was in my second trimester when we were in Europe) and we had some funny experiences with our American accent. :)

One in particular was when we were spending a day at the beach (Brighton?) with the family that we were staying with and I was rolling up my pants to play in the waves. A little bit later, I commented on how my pants had gotten a little wet. The mother paused and asked for me to repeat. "My pants got a little wet," I replied. To which several in the family began to laugh. Apparently I said my underwear was wet and it made them laugh.  Another instance, we were at a little cafe, this was in Northern Ireland, and we asked for the check... which is NOT equivalent to a bill... here you can say either check OR bill when you want to pay for a meal, but in Ireland... the waitress began laughing at us and told us she most CERTAINLY would NOT. She knew it was a vocabulary difference between the two dialects, but everyone made sure to laugh at us. We laughed too, but we didn't think it was worth as many laughs as they gave. (I think they laughed nearly 10 minutes).

When there is a British Accent in an American movie, it either means its the eccentric bad guy, the royal, or the hot guy. If its a girl, its usually the proper or snobbish girl, not usually the girl that wins the guy. Usually. I can think of a exceptions, but the point I'm making is that the accent plays into stereotypes that we have already established in society. The accent cues our minds tho think differently than we would have if the character spoke with an American accent.

Have you noticed the spelling differences between British English and American English? Words like : honour vs honor or saviour vs savior. Or organise vs organize? We can thank Webster for that. Noah Webster, that is, he consciously wrote the differences into his dictionary. I'm not kidding either. And personally, I think it was one of the best ways for us to set ourselves apart as a different sovereign. Changing the language. We don't have the same qualms with Britain now that we did in the 1700s, but the language differences have survived; for better or worse.