Friday, March 20, 2015

Seize the day!

I have always been someone who tries (believe it or not) to not make waves. I’ve never been one who strives to be in the spotlight or wanted to get recognition. I would much rather be a grunt in the background helping to make a success than in front absorbing the accolades.

Yes, I speak in front of tough crowds every day as I teach college students for my job and lead a youth group of 12-18 year olds at church. I never said I have any problems speaking in front of a crowd, because I don’t, it just isn’t my preferred place.

Lately, this preference has really started to stick in my brain and made me seriously consider other areas of my life that I prefer to keep, not hidden, but rather not draw attention to. One such area is in my religious beliefs. I am a temple recommend carrying member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) – or Mormon. I’ve always just quietly lived my religion (or not, when I’ve fallen into inactivity), but it’s never been something I’ve really brought to the forefront.

I’ve always admired my friends on Facebook who, regardless of their religion, proudly post what they are doing in their church, or what great events are coming, or what a great sermon they had at church that day. Me, I choose to post other, non-secular things. I think I’m afraid of offending people with my religion. Silly, I know, especially since I’m never offended by any of my non-LDS friends talking about their great churches…so I decided this has to stop.

Now, I’m not saying there’s going to be a huge up-tick in LDS postings on my Facebook page, but I am giving myself permission (and you are all witnesses) to post church-related things on my wall/blog without fear of offending others. My church is a huge part of what has shaped me and who I am, so I’m going to stop apologizing/hiding it.

If that attitude offends you, I’m sorry…but I still love you!


On another note, this phrase has been going through my head a lot lately.
“…as we strive to live the Young Women’s Values, which are: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue."

If you’re female member of the LDS church, odds are you have likely heard and said this sentence/phrase many times. Especially if you attended church from the ages of 12-18 years.

As I work with the youth every week, see their struggles, pains, attempts to do and be good, my heart breaks and my eyes leak tears. I break and I leak because, although I empathize with the youth’s doubts, being bullied, questioning themselves and their religion, and their own self-worth, ultimately I can honestly say I still don’t understand what they are going through. I don’t.

I can’t truly understand because being a teenager today is completely different then when I was a teenager 20+ years ago. I wish I could shake them, hug them, snap them out of their funk, or just make them truly listen to me when I say it will get better and they are better than those who have or are purposefully hurting them. But I can’t. I can’t because I’m an adult and they recognize that I really don’t understand. To many of them, I’m too out of touch.

All I can be is honest with them and live honestly. And as I live my life honestly, I hope they understand and learn that there is one other value I wish these girls understood and took to heart, the value of joy or happiness. It’s not just a value, it’s literally a commandment. Jesus himself commanded that we should “be of good cheer” (John 16:33). We are commanded to actively search for joy, happiness, cheer, optimism, whatever you want to call it, even when circumstances and people are conspiring against us.

“Be of good cheer” has been a defining value and principle since I was a child, and it has served me well through the missteps and mistakes of life into adulthood.

Any time any member of my family left the house, my mother always yelled and told us to “be of good cheer.” Sure, we were kids and would add “and don’t drink no beer” to the end of her saying, but even at a young age I understood the value of her plea. She wanted each of her children to find the good in everything and allow that goodness, not the negative, to fill our lives.

Maybe I’m more naturally inclined to be happy and upbeat. My mom loved to tell the story that when I was a little kid and was pulling myself along the ground before crawling, I would army drag myself to wherever she was in the house, look up at her, and just grin. Spastic curls, dirty face, but a grin from ear to ear. Even today I am quick to smile. I laugh at my foibles and mistakes daily and I truly love to bring joy to others.

To put it more clearly, the invective to “be of good cheer” does not align itself with the “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (2 Nephi 28:7) misnomer the world and Satan would have us buy into. The first requires active participation on our part, to “be of” = exist/happen and “cheer” is to give – be it a shout/encouragement. Being of good cheer means to look outward and find the happiness and joy that doing for others can bring.

Being merry, on the other hand, isn’t the same thing as being of good cheer. Being merry brings to mind a couple of different scenarios. The first is a person having fun at a party – that’s momentary/transitory. It requires no real effort and is solely focused inwardly on the individual. The other reading of “be merry” is a negative one. Back in the day, “making merry” was the same thing as ridiculing or picking on someone. Again, a momentary “pleasure” and at the prices of someone else.

I think that’s the thing that most people forget or don’t really understand about happiness or joy—that it never comes at the expense of others. Any choice I make, I always consider how it will affect those around me and those I love. I consider the ramifications and weigh those against the momentary joy I will receive. This approach to life has resulted in sometimes poor decisions, but has ultimately never led me astray. It has also helped me to not allow the heartache, pain, and sadness that naturally come with life to make me a “negative Nellie”. Instead, I actively exist and happen to give happiness and cheer to others. I do not dwell on myself, but focus on others.

The value of being of good cheer shapes me. It affects my words, my actions, my habits, my personality, and my outlook. It enables me look at the bigger picture while finding happiness in the minute and small details. It allows me to lose myself in the joy that surrounds me and is waiting for me to tap into. It is this commandment that I value, that I hold dear, and wish every single person, old, young (women), male, female, etc., could better understand and value: that it isn’t until we look outside ourselves and choose to uplift those around us, that we ourselves are lightened.

That is my long-winded spiel for I ask you, what is one more "value" you would add to the italicized list above? Why is that one important for you?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Seriously, as I wandered onto my blog and realized how long it had been since I've posted, I was amazed. Again, the slippery little snake of time is a tough bugger to catch!

So the brief recap of the last six months? Well, we had Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years ( declared 2013 the year of Patty!), my birthday, Valentines, St. Patrick's, my dad died, my parents shoulda-coulda-woulda 53rd anniversary, the 1 year anniversary of my mom's death, spring semester teaching finished, and Mother's Day.

It's been a tough year, but it's also been a good year. My parents are together again with no pain, my family is closer than they've been in a very long time, and I'm happy. Actually, I'm more than that, I'm joyful! I am taking the time to reacquaint myself with me. So much of the past year and a half has been spent focusing on others, that I've lost a bit of myself in the process. Now I am deciding what I like to do, see, read, listen to, etc.

In the past two-ish months since my dad's funeral, I've created a pile of books that I hope to read in the future...for fun! I can imagine a number of my students rolling their eyes as they try to grapple with the idea that reading is fun, but it is, or rather it used to be, fun for me. It's been years since I've really sat down and enjoyed a book. So far I've read two biographies, a Jane Austen book , a couple of mind candy-esque pop-fiction things (not a fan), and I'm in the midst of reading a historical thriller. So I'm reading a wide range of books figuring out what I enjoy.

Getting out and dusting off the 'ol tools has also been fun. Putting shelves up
, fixing things around the apartment, etc. is relaxing. I enjoy seeing a task accomplished and making things function better. My dad was never one to shy away from teaching his daughters how to change tires, use power tools, or work hard, and I am very thankful for that.

I'm also trying to be more social. Spending time with actual people more my age, walking around Moscow, going on walks/hikes with my dog, going to church, etc. Instead of sitting by a sick/hospital bed waiting to fulfill the wishes of another, I'm making a conscious effort to be out in the world and experience it!

Sure, I'd love to wallow in my comfort zone of chilling at home in jeans, tee, and slippers as I watch tv on my computer, but this is my year, dang it! And I'm going to do stuff! That's not to say it's easy for me to walk into a room and "work a crowd". Trust me, it's not. But one of the sayingsI live by is "fake it 'til you make it." So I'm working on changing myself into the person I want to and can be. Sometimes it's all an act, but each time I "fake it", it's one step closer to being true.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Slippery Little Snake

It's amazing to me how often time gets away from us. For instance, I can't believe my oldest nephew is married with two darling daughters (along with an array of other nieces and nephews who, mysteriously, continue to grow up --- without my permission); or how many of my college freshman were born in the 90's, the year I graduated from high school; or even that I've only posted on my blog twice in the year 2012 (this will be my third time).

In addition, as I was driving down a Moscow, Idaho street in my car this weekend, I had a sudden epiphany: It's been nearly a year since I've spent a weekend at home. Now, I'm going to contradict myself right here and say I have spent the occasional weekend at home, but honestly, I think it's just been a handful of times. Approximately a year ago we found out our mom had cancer, and pretty much since then, I have spent every break and nearly every weekend spending time with my parents and helping to take care of them. Is it a lot of time? Yes. Can it be exhausting? Yes. Do I regret any of it? No, not at all. How could I miss this opportunity to spend time with my parents and get to know them as adults. Because, honestly, I loved the long talks I had with my mom and seeing her zingers, sense of humor, and how she "handled" my dad. And I love learning my dad's foibles, quirks, and generosity to his children.

I'm not trying to sound like a saint or holier than thou, because, trust me, I have more than enough sins in my past, but I just recognized how much time I don't spend in my own home. It's so pronounced that my roommate even commented on how weird it felt having me home on a Friday. Time has scampered past me without my notice.

Again, this winnowing away of time hit me as I took my clean clothes from the washer today and prepared to hang them to dry (yep, I do that -- conserving natural resources and all -- did I mention I live in Moscow, ID? -- we're big into recycling, organic, and conserving our natural resources. I feel horrible if I throw away something I know can be recycled when I'm at my sister's house!). Anyway, sorry to go tangental. As I walked down the hallway with the basket of clothes I just thought how domestic I feel. As a kid I hated doing chores of any sort, but as an adult I enjoy a clean house and couldn't believe the sense of familiarity and rightness I felt as I went about my tasks and chores.

I know this is the month of November, when people post what they're thankful for every day on Facebook (which I think is admirable), but as Daylight Savings occurred this weekend and I "gained" an extra hour in my Sunday, I couldn't help but think about how often we don't really pay attention to the passage of time. Truly notice the leaves changing colors, people growing older, ourselves growing and maturing.

Those are my musings this evening, and some thoughts I've been thinking on lately. I have no eloquent way of ending this posting other than to encourage you to spend time with those you love and that are important to you. Too many times we wish we could have time back, but that is the one thing that no one can hold on to forever.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I saw today progressing different than that

Some days just never wind up how you planned.

My mom died last night. After expressing our love for her and going over plans for today, my sister and I wished her good night and went to bed. This morning I found her, called 911, and waited for the county deputy to finish his Unattended Death investigation before heading to the hospital to see about my dad who had been there since his emergency foot surgery a week earlier. He's home now and the coping and healing is slowly beginning.

Unsurprisingly it was deemed a death due to natural causes, but the death was a surprise nonetheless. Around Thanksgiving 2011 my mother had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The cancer had spread into her gallbladder, liver, and lymph nodes, so everyone knew it was just a matter of time – just the time frame was unspecific.

As a family, we were blessed with the ability to say our good-byes, express our love and appreciation to her, and grow closer as a family. Right now I am emotionally and physically spent, so I’ll just cut and paste what I wrote on the Facebook family message board that has been updated as time has passed.

For those of you who haven't heard. Mom died during the night. I found her this morning and she had already passed. Although we're all saddened, there are many good things to take from her passing.

Luckily she died at home, which is where she would have wanted to be. She really hated hospitals and I know she wasn't looking forward to returning to one any time soon. Additionally, she didn't have to go through the intense pain and wasting away that is often seen with terminal cancer. Although her death was sudden (in that we didn't expect it to happen last night), she would tire easily and had other health issues. Overall, she was very upbeat and positive last night before she went to bed.

The greatest thing to remember is that she was so proud of her children. Like a proud parent she often loved to brag about how many kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids she had. She loved to talk about how successful each of us were as well as talk about how long she had been married.

In talking to the county officer who came this morning, he was impressed by how successful our family was (i.e. not in prison and we are upstanding citizens) and he talked about what a testament that is to what great parents we have.

So, to each of you, I want to say thank you for being someone mom could, was, and is proud of.

Funeral plans are pending, but it looks like they will be held sometime next week in Ellensburg, WA. We will post more when we know more.

For all the love, prayers, and condolences that have been expressed thus far, and will inevitably continued to be expressed: thank you.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I love how my students talk about how I (i.e. teachers) have summers off -- like it's a good thing. Do they not know that "summers off" means I am revamping my classes, reevaluating assignments, creating calendars, finding new prompts (to minimize plagiarism), locating new readings, reading books about teaching (because we all know how much fun it is to read a textbook in your free time), and anyone of a number of other teaching-related things?

ALSO, do they not realize that, since I teach in college and I want to stay current and marketable, that I also do research and writing of my own (for "fun), apply to and/or present at conferences, submit to journals and publications, and other "fun" stuff like that?

I remember once upon a time when I also thought teachers had the life with weekends off. I'm pretty sure it started when I was in elementary school and my summers seemed to be lackadaisical and responsibility free, so you can imagine how glamorous a teacher's life seemed to be. Not only did they get summers off, but they were adults too! To a six year old, free time + adulthood = freedom to the extreme! -sigh- Those were the good ol' days! However, that belief changed when I became a teacher.

Summertime isn't here yet, I know. However, as mid-term grades have been submitted, we're on the verge of spring break, and summer plans are starting to be made...or at least discussed, I've begun to think about teaching, and summers, and how a responsibility free adulthood is a complete and utter farce. Pretty much like anything involving the Kardashians or television shows with the word "reality" in them.