Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ring out the Old...

Yes, Christmas is past. I am aware of the fact. But these Christmas colors are staying up until January has fully begun, and even then.... well, we'll see how that goes. Welcome to any family, friends, kin, or acquaintances who are visiting based on my mom's little link at the bottom of our Christmas letter. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to listen to the hopeful ramblings of an often misplace muse. Under the circumstances, you must either be very curious, very crazy, or really love me. Whatever your reason for being here, I thank you again for your time.

The year is almost out. I don't know about anyone else, but for me it has flown on wings of lightening. I have experienced a lot of changes, especially in heading off to college. Many thanks to those of you who have helped me through those difficult days. I can't possibly find adequate words to express the joy and blessing of the support of a friend or dear one when the road grows rough and the feet grow weary.

It has been quite a year... a year of long-anticipated endings and fresh new beginnings. A year of friends, of family, of near kindred. A year of song and dance and music. A year of herbal tea and wool socks. A year of lost keys, found keys, and borrowed keys. A year of hardship, work, and pain. A year of late nights and early mornings. A year of partings and a year of greetings. A year of temple trips, hot chocolate, and late-night conversation. A year of new friends and old friends. A year of sorrow. A year of rejoicing. A year of thanksgiving. A year of magic.

Isn't that amazing? Before we know it, a whole year gone. So here's the moral of the story - for a moral there must be. Three hundred and sixty five days have passed us by. Did we use them wisely? Now that the holidays are over, we are looking over our accounts to see how our funds have been spent. I think that ought to be the way we treat the new year, as well. Last January we were given three hundred and sixty five days to spend as we chose. Did we spend frivolously, or did we use them for the improvement of others as well as our own? The answer is yours. Just something to think about...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind
should auld acquaintance be forgot
for auld lang syne,

For auld lang syne, my dears
for auld lang syne
we'll drink a cup of kindness yet
for auld lang syne.

Robert Burns. Probably a familiar tune, isn't it? Auld lang syne, loosely translated, means "for the sake of old times" or "days gone by." I agree with Burns here. Though mountains, oceans, and passing years divide, let us never forget the bygone days, for they can be a great help and comfort to us in the future. Yet let us also raise a cup to days to come... and may they be as beautiful, as sweet, as prolonged, and as magical as auld lang syne.

Happy new year, my friends. Here's to auld lang syne, and to many days to come! May you be blessed and happy this new year and always. 'Til next we meet...  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three Gifts

There is a book of religious doctrine out there - the Korahn, I think - which has a very interesting idea to go along with its reading. It is said that every doctrine written therein has seven meanings. The first is the most literal - for example, "And the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights" (Jonah 1:17). So Jonah was swallowed by a fish and waited around inside for three days. Literal, face value interpretation. The second level is slightly more symbolic - say, the Lord prepared a trial for Jonah to endure. The third level more so - the Lord prepares trials for his children, which they must endure to become more like Him. And so on and so forth, until the seventh level, which, according to tradition, is known only to God.

One of my religion professors brought up an idea rather like this about Christmas. This season, too, has different levels. Three, as it happens - a number closely associated with this holiday, especially in the three gifts of the Magi. So, in honor of the season, consider these three kinds of gifts, of three levels, of Christmas.

The first kind of gifts are the secular ones. There's nothing wrong with that, by the way. Secularism, while often overplayed in the modern world, isn't always a bad thing. What I mean in this case is the gift that you go to a store, website, or retailers to purchase for someone near and dear to you for a holiday or special occasion. It could be anything - clothing, toys, books, electronics, home appliances, beauty supplies, you name it. Secular simply means it goes into wrapping paper and under the tree. Secular gifts are a great thing. I have gotten one for each person in my immediate family. My mom has been frantic trying to hunt them all down for the kids and my father. We have received countless tokens and treats of the season from neighbors and friends in the past weeks. These gifts are our ways of showing others that we love them and are grateful for their influence in our lives. It's how we give aid to those who we don't know, but who happen to need a guardian angel or Christmas elf - which, in turn, happens to be us. It's our way of participating in the season of giving.

The second kind of gift one from our Heavenly Father - that is, the Christ child. There are all kinds of gifts that go with this one - gold, frankinsense, and myrrh, to name a few, as well as bright stars, angel carols, and visits from neighboring shepherds. It's the perfect nativity - shepherds, wisemen, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in the manger. This is the second level of the Christmas season. Perhaps less noticible than the secular side sometimes, its spirit still penetrates our holiday celebrations with the sweetness of new birth.

It goes deeper still, however. There is a third level, a third gift. This level is the most important, but often the most overlooked of the three. It does not celebrate holiday sales and brightly colored presents. It does not celebrate a baby in a manger, or even a redeemer on a cross. Not a child Christ, or a dead Christ - but a living one. This level is one of remembering that at this time over two thousand years ago, our loving Heavenly Father gave to us the greatest gift the world has ever known. It is bearing in mind the great suffering that Jesus Christ took upon himself for our own sinful sakes, and bearing in our hearts the joy of knowing that we can be healed at his hand. It is celebrating that a baby was born - a baby that would make it possible for all of us to return to our Heavenly Father. It is a time of feeling of our Heavenly Father's incomprehensible love for us, and refining our desires to match his. And even though Eastertide is yet to come, this is a season to rejoice in the knowledge that our savior lives. Those are, in my opinion, the sweetest words human tongue can utter. Our savior lives!

I now most humbly descend from my little soapbox. You can come to your own conclusions about Christ and about faith. But I hope that my words have at least brought to your remembrance the true origins of this season. An unfriendly town, a shabby stable, a less than adequate manger, and a baby - a baby who would someday be the greatest gift the world has every received. May we give thanks for that gift this day and always.

Happy Holidays, my friends! 'Til next we meet...   

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Silver and Gold

Three words: FINALS. ARE. OVER!!! Suffice it to say that I have been in a jubilant mood since I escaped my last exam yesterday - Astronomy. I no longer have to study for days at a time. I have two weeks to simply repose at home - no deadlines, no pressure, no textbooks. It will be a glorious experience. Anyway - to the point. I do have a tendency to get around that, don't I? We'll, we're here now - so let's begin.

"Make new friends but keep the old - one is silver and the other's gold." I imagine that you all have heard this so many times it hardly requires repetition. Yes, it's commonplace. Yes, it's been overplayed. I'm here to tell you that it's also true - but not in the way you might suppose.

Indeed, old friends are as good as gold and better. I have many companions that have been Daemon to my Pythias since before I can remember (and by the way, if you don't get the greek reference, look it up - Daemon and Pythias. It's a story worth the reading). I have many friends with whom I have formed sweet alliance as the years passed, throughout my school days and on. They have been dearer to me than any material possession I could ever own or desire. They have made life bearable for me when it could hardly be shouldered. They have supported me in my high ascensions, even when they themselves had already reached the summit. I couldn't have asked for anything or anyone better than they. Next to such unfailing friendship, where does gold stand a chance?

But here's a rather interesting spin on the old phrase. Did you know that silver is acutally more valuable than gold? It's true. Gold often sells for more on the market, but silver - in its broad usefulness and comparative scarcity - is actually higher in value. Now what does that say to us? Allow me to give example - and again remember, as I relate my own experience, that I do so only for a lack of anyone else's. If you can make relation with the topic at hand, please bear yourself in mind as you read.

I came to college lonely and afraid. All of my old companions had gone to other schools, and I was very much alone. The size of the school overwhelmed me, compared to the little high school I had just left. My apartment was altogether too quiet after the hustle and bustle of a household of seven. I found myself crying often, and sighing almost every two or three breaths. It was a difficult first few weeks, without question.

But college didn't bring hardship only. When I came here I discovered something else - pure silver. My wonderful roommate was my best helpmeet during those difficult times - always smiling, always free and easy, and a cock-eyed optomist to the core. She cared about what classes I was taking, how my day had gone, who I had met, or what I had done, and earnestly listened to the telling. My other apartment-mate soon made herself known as a veritable rainbow, bringing life and color into any room she entered. And then, not long after, we met the girls next door. Addy, a constant ray of sunshine who hails from rainy Washington. I suppose that when natural sunlight is scarce, you learn to make your own - Addy simply radiates it everywhere she goes. And then her roommate - if you read my sunday scribblings entry a week or so ago - "What a Difference a Day Makes" - then you know how I met Katie. She came over one night, without pretense, and asked if I was doing anything. We ended up making a movie night of it, and we both had a wonderful time. What she could not have known was that I had been having a horribly homesick day, and had despaired at sitting in the apartment alone all evening. I had no sooner completed the thought when her knock came at the door - a little miracle in its way. We have been fast friends ever since. We plan to room together next year, and to go to Jerusalem together come next winter.

I could tell you endless stories of a similar nature. It's incredible how many memories can be made in three and a half months! There have been so many evenings, so many days, so many hours that I have held on to afterwards, and which I have later fled to and cherished on difficult days.

But the point, once again - gold and silver. I love my old friends. I do. I've missed them, and I've tried to take every opportunity to correspond with them. I've missed high school and Heber City. And even in their absence, I prize them as gold. And yet... here in Provo, I've found something equal to gold and better. Even in the midst of difficult change, even in a new, unfamiliar place, I have been blessed with silver everywhere I turned. I haved thanked my lucky stars and my Heavenly Father every day for such friends and such blessings as I have been given - even during the difficult days. And those dear friends have been more valuable to me than the old, simply because they are not a letter or a message, but a warm, living, breathing human being standing in person before me. Someone I can physically turn to when I need encouragement, or comfort, or a sweet embrace. And I can say with all honesty that none of my shining silver friends have ever let me down.

This time of year, both Thanksgiving and Christmas, is a good time of year to take stock of your personal coffers, both in a physical and spiritual sense. As you do, I encourage you to take particular notice of your gold and silver, and express your gratitude to both for their friendship and service. I also encourage you to look around and notice those who count you as gold or silver in their own treasuries. I know that every time my friends have given me comfort, my only desire was to return it in their hour of need. So take notice, be aware, keep and open mind - you never know what you might discover by the simple act of keeping your eyes open.

I know I have well expended my time on this page - yet one thing more. Never forget who sent you among these loved ones - our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They are our finest friends, now and forever. When all other metals have rusted and tarnished, when "from love's shining circle the gems drop away," they will always remain. May we remember to turn to them in all our doings, during this sacred Christmas season and always.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and safe journeys to all. 'Til next we meet...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #245 - Limits

Can't is a horrible word. For one, it's a conjunction - and in my book it's just as easy to say "cannot," as it was said in proper English for centuries before Americans hit the scene. And crazy though it may seem, even in this conjunction-heavy modern day I am a great supporter of proper English.

That's not the real reason I hate it, though - "can't." I hate it because everyone says it about me. Almost every day. They've been saying it for sixteen years, and I for one am at a loss for anything that might make them stop.

I "can't" use the stairs, so I have to have an elevator pass, or take classes on the ground floor. I "can't" be in the school play because it requires dancing - no voice-only parts available. I "can't" do any school sports, even though I'm sure I could dominate at track and field if I wanted to - or basketball, or even rodeo. I "can't" drive myself anywhere (even with my liscence) because I "can't" get in and out of the car by myself. And I "can't" get any job that's worth getting. Believe me - I've tried. All because of this stupid wheelchair.

I shouldn't say that, really - my wheelchair allows me to do a lot of things I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. It takes away a whole world of "can'ts" from the picture. The proper thing to say is that I hate the fact that I will probably never be able walk. It's the only "can't" I've learned to accept. I can't stand for more then a few seconds on my own - I never could. I suppose that after so many years of living with a "can't," you start to get used to it.

But I have a secrect. In the evenings, after the dinner dishes are cleared away and my siblings are off to their respective activities, I disappear to my bedroom. I have it to myself - the only one on the ground floor. I lock the door, turn on the desk lamp, and pull the shades. I get out of my wheelchair and onto my bed. I even collapse it and push it beneath the desk, so I don't have to see it. I kick off my shoes and pull off my braces. Then I slip a hand under my pillow and draw out what's hidden there - a novel, whatever I was able to get my hands on in the library that week. I reverently pull back the cover, find my last stopping place, and read.

And suddenly I am in another world. It doesn't matter which one - the effect is the same. I am taking the stairs of Hogwarts two at a time, trying to be on time for Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall. I am dancing in the moonlight with the Scottish selkies, their seal skins abandoned on the beach. I am playing discus or racing chariots with Perseus and Jason and Heracles himself. I am travelling the world - by ship, by train, by horse, by hot air balloon. I am working alongside both the great and the humble - sluething alongside Sherlock Holmes, weaving with Silas Marner, striking the hour in Notre Dame with Quasimodo, or farming beside Alexandra on the Divide. I fly over Alegaesia on Saphira's back, ride through the woods with the Elves of Rivendell, wield a sword in defense of Narnia against the evil White Witch, or join the crew of brave Odysseus in his journey home to Ithaca. I can be anyone, go anywere, or do anything between those blessed pages...

And when the novel is over, or life comes once again creeping beneath the door and through the blinds to steal me back from the realm of fastasy, I turn to other means. When my mother or teachers think I'm doing homework, I open a fresh notebook and write. And then the world is my own, and I am once again free of the contraints of reality and flying on the back of my own imagination.

The world may say that I "can't." I say "you can't stop me."

Friday, December 10, 2010

As I Am

I wanted to share another piece of prose that is not my own. This one's poetry, actually - but that's not really important. Here it is:

I am the place where God shines through
for He and I are one, not two.
I need not want, nor will, nor plan -
my place is where and as I am.
And if I be relaxed and free,
He shall carry out His plan through me.

It's that fourth line that I wanted to show you particularly - "My place is where and as I am." That is temperence at its best. I think that not all of us feel that way. It is easy to wish that we were somewhere else, some other time; or that we were like someone, or had what someone else has, or could be in someone else's place. Sound familiar? It sure does to me. More than once have I been touched with envy for another, for for longing for another time and place, away from the care and responsibility of now.

Perhaps, though, we ought to think more along the lines this poem suggests. I am not, in fact, in a more stress free environment than the one which I occupy. I am not the girl with the angel voice in the Fine Arts Center, nor the skilled actress in the main stage production, nor J.K. Rowling (or anyone like her). I am in finals week. At BYU. I am an actress, a singer, and writer, even if not perfect or highly trained. I am student, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. My place is where and as I am. I use myself as an example simply because I haven't the words to relate it to every one of you. Imagine the words as they would sound with your name in their stead, and your place and talents, and you'll have a better picture.

And then there's the next part: "And if I be relaxed and free, He shall carry out His plan through me." Relaxed and free. How often are we so set on our own plans that we forget our Heavenly Father's? I know I have become so misguided at times. Again, it's easy to forget. It is an inherent part of our nature to let even the sweetest memories slip away from us. Because we can't see Him, we sometimes forget that He is there. But even on our brightest days,and especially in our darkest hours, He never forgets us. All it takes is for us to turn to him, to "Humble [ourselves]... before the mighty hand of God, that He may exhault you in do time... Casting all you care upon Him, for He careth for you."

And that he does - more than our lesser minds and hearts can ever comprehend. He knows us, and loves us, and has a plan for each of us. If we will only be relaxed and free, seperating ourselves from the hasteneing and rush of our everyday lives, and let Him work through us. May we all remember His everlasting love this sacred time of year.

Onward, ever onward! Until next time, dear readers...   

Monday, November 29, 2010

Everyday Roses

I'm taking my own advice today. For once. I'll have to start making a practice of it if I intend to find anything worthwhile to write. In reality, though, I'm not taking my own advice so much as the advice of Dale Carnegie. The quote I refer to is to your immediate right and down a ways, but I will repeat it anyway:

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today."

I think Carnegie was onto something here - a truth that has been hanging over the heads of the human race since the very begining. Who of us has not desired to be in a different place and time? Who has not said to oneself (though in not so many words), "I will be happy when such-and-such a date or this-that-and-the-other is done." You can fill in the blanks. We've all said to ourselves that life will be better when the school year is out, or when a final is over, or after taxes are due, or once pay day comes, or once an assigned speech, talk, or presentation is past... the list could go on forever.

But in this fast-paced, mortal world, forever is something we simply don't have. It is not known to any of us how long our probation on this earth will be. We can't afford to always be looking to our "magical rose gardens over the horizon." Not when there are so many roses blossoming around us where we stand.

For example - it has snowed where I am. Several feet put itself down over the weekend, and with it came the truely cold weather. One would imagine that any kind of roses short of those made of silk would be a sheer impossibility. Walking home from campus after the day's classes, the air was maliciously bitter. I could feel the sensation leaving my face, ears, and fingertips. By the time I got to the first traffic light - the halfway point - I was no more capable of fast speech than I was of sprouting wings. On top of that, the day had been long, finals approach, and I had caught a cold the day before. This was the point at which I was wishing to be a thousand places and a thousand times other than where I was - not the least of which included Italy, St. George, Hawaii, or at my grandparents' house in front of a roaring fire.

This was the point at which I had to try to remember my own councils. I looked around and tried to find a blessing, a piece of magic in my immediate surroundings. The trees were bare and black, their skeletal branches laden with snow. The contrast was truly beautiful - the white on the dark, sillouetted against the eventide sky. I also noted that several trees on the corner had been coated with colored Christmas lights, which sparkled beautifully in the midst of the busy street. And blessings - I had a home to go to, not two blocks away, and I was wearing a heavy winter coat. Sure, I was an imbecile to forget my gloves and scarf that morning - but a coat is more than many people can claim ownership to. And I was just returning from being educated and one of the best universities available to me.

I sang carols all the rest of the way home, even though I was the only one to hear them. And once I got there, I found yet another gift besides - after the chill and bite of the day, the presence of wool socks, internal heating, and hot food made this little apartment seem the most blessed place on earth.

This holiday season, as you go about giving and getting, I encourage you also to not neglect what you've already been given. Fill your life with gratitude, every day, and the beautiful things - the blossoming roses - of your own here and now will jump out at you as never before. I'll try my best to do the same.

Until, next time, dear readers - and a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Tis the Season

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! There, I said it - whether you like it or not. As far as I'm concerned, the minute the pumpkin pie is cleared, the Christmas season has begun. My family decorated our Christmas tree yesterday night, and we've been well-stocked with eggnog and cocoa for well over a week. And no doubt you will have noticed that Everyday Magic has changed colors again - bright red and green, as promised.

That's the subject today - the Christmas season. It is incredibly easy to have your view obscured by over-commercialism. Black Friday, the holiday shopping rush, the fake Santa in the mall - it's almost impossible to miss. With all the hustle and bustle and shopping and buying and running around, it isn't difficult to feel a certain resentment toward the season.

But as anyone with half a heart can tell you, that most certainly is not the life and breath of Christmastime. It may take another week for things to really settle in, but before long you'll feel it. A thrill of excitement every time you see a house or building strung with lights... a sigh of contentment at the scent of fresh pine or unseen delicacies baking in the oven... the delight of receiving gift, no matter how small - and the hundredfold joy of giving one. There is a goodness in the air that permeates everything it meets, and even the busiest, weariest, and most solitary members of the human race cannot help but breathe it in and feel their spirit be healed.

You can believe what you will, but it is part of my Christmas to remember the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And in the spirit of his life and of the joy of the season, I believe that this time of year is a time to help our fellow men who stand in need. I can promise you right now that if you have felt the pain of a wounded heart, the emptiness of depression or despair, the ache of grief, or the sting of sorrow - nothing will do you more good than helping someone else.

Imagine giving a blanket to someone with no other shelter... a meal to someone who didn't think they would be able to eat that night... a note of thanks to someone who has worked their hardest, or a word of comfort to someone in pain... And it doesn't have to be anything physical either. A smile can light the darkness of a life faster than the sun lights the sky in the morning. A hug can warm both body and soul better than any coat or blanket. A word of appreciation or encouragement can turn a day from despair to joy in seconds. Is this not magic?

I think it is just that - Christmas magic at its best. And best of all, it is a power you hold in your own hands - right here, right now. So go out and work some magic - and you will surely feel it working on you in the process.

A Merry Christmas to you - 'til next time!    

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #242 - What a Difference a Day Makes

And in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea.

9600 BC.


Caesar walked up the steps of the forum, his head held high. The winds of fortune were at his back today, he thought. The Gods had truly smiled upon this humble leader of their mortal constituency. Today was the day, he determined, as he passed through the marble-set entrace, that all his greatest ambitions would come to pass. By sunset, Rome would have seen a new birth, a new victory. As he walked among his white-cladden comrades in the senate, he smiled confidently, assured in his own success.

He didn't see the daggers until it was too late.

Ides of March, 44 BC.


Martin Luther marched up to the door of the Castle Church, a scroll of paper held tightly in one hand, a pair of nails in the other. Coming upon the step he paused, reading again his own words upon the scroll. No new errors presented themselves to his scrutiny - it was ready.

Lacking a hammer, he hefted a heavy rock from the earth-paven street and beat the nails through the paper and into the door - dead center, over top of every other edict and argument hanging there. The sound echoed through the silent church, rocking the candles on the alter and the cruxifix on the wall - rocking, as it were, the very foundations of all christianity.

All Hallows Eve, 1517.


Thomas Jefferson leaned forward over the piece of parchment, seeing as though for the first time the familiar words that covered it - the children of his own pen. His determination set to the sticking place, he took up the quill and placed his signature at the bottom of the document.

He had followed the suit of several other men before him, and many more came after. In doing so they marked themselves as traitors to the most powerful empire int he known world. They signed away their liberty, their honor, and even their very lives - all for the sake of this one piece of paper. And yet, though small, it was a document that would soon be the cause of bloodshed to men of all nationalities - Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans, and Islanders alike. It was a document destined to unalterably change the entire known world from the day of its signing and forever after.

July 4, 1776.


The plane flew out from the island early that day. No one knew where it was going - not even the high-ranking officers. Those who saw it leave watched it until it was no longer visible over the horizon. Some tried to guess at its purpose. Purely confidential, the whole thing had been - and headed for Japan, it looked like.

No one, in the wildest corner of their imaginations, guessed at what that plane carried in its cargo holds. No one dreamed that by the time it returned that night, it would have been responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people. No one knew that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were enjoying their final day free of the devistation and terror of the warfront, free from the poison of radiation.

The American navy and airforce recruits would all tell of it in years to come - how they watched the planes go. But on that day, no one realized that by sunset, the Enola Gay would have returned from its horrific mission having won the greatest victory of the second great war - a victory that would plunge the world into a reign of terror for decades to come.

August 6, 1945.


The young woman lay on the couch in her new apartment - a dormitory, really, but apartment sounded more grown up. Her eyes were dry, and she looked quite normal - but she had done her fair share of crying earlier on, and her heart was still aching from the ordeal.

It had been a horrible day - piles of reading, more nameless faces and faceless names swiming in and out of her view in the passing crowds on campus, and another unintetional "detour" on the way home. It was too much. She wanted nothing more than to go back to her own bed in her own house, far away from all the harship of college. Homesickness, she thought, was more potent than any germ or virus known to man. It hurt badly and stayed on, like an aching muscle after a long hike.

A knock at the door. The young woman pushed herself up off the cushions and went to answer it. It was another girl - one of the roommates from the dorm next door. "Hey - sorry to barge in like this. Are you... doing anything tonight?"

"Uh - no, not at all. Come on in, please. It's Kathryn, right?" asked the young woman, surprised that she remembered the other girl's name.

"Yes. Rachel, isn't it? I don't want to interrupt anything. I didn't have anything to do, so I thought I'd come see if anyone was around..."

The conversation lengthened. Common ground was discovered, similarities shared. Smiles lengthened, and laughter soon followed. Hospitality was extended. A movie was put on, treats fetched from both dorms, and pillows and blankets brought out. The evening was a wonderful one - and, little by little, the homesickness and despair were making their retreat. As Rachel looked at her new friend from across the couch, she felt a new emotion take their place - something sweet and healing and as familiar as a summer day. And somehow, she felt very certain that it was going to last.

September 10, 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

100% Chance of Starfall

Hey, Everyone! Welcome to the second post of the month of November! It's been a while, I know - please forgive the delay. It's been a very busy month.

The world gets colder and prettier with every passing day. Winter paid a visit a few weeks ago, and everything in creation seems to be striving to put forth its best work before the old boy sets in permanently. Ever since the first frosts began touching the earth, the tree outside my theatre classroom has retaliated by raining stars. Star-shaped leaves, really - but it really does look as though the ground and bushes around the trunk were subject to a sudden shower of falling stars.

And this isn't the only tree I've seen acting peculiarly. As I was walking past the library the other day, a sudden wind started to blow. I was underneath a massive tree filled with small yellow leaves, and in seconds I was in the midst of a hurricaine of gold. I could easily imagine that the leaves were falling so perfectly on purpose, taking full advantage of a last chance to truly soar on the wind's back before coming to rest in their mother earth.

They sky, also, seems to want to put on a good show. Though sunsets are beautiful at any time, the ones I've witnessed the past few nights have been a truly spectacular sight. Waves of crimson, fountains of topaz, and oceans of gold wash over the western horizon, painting everything below in shades of rosy pink. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I imagine that were I to be in the place of God, the most enjoyable work I could perform would be the nightly task of painting sunsets.

In case I shouldn't write again before then, a Happy Thanksgiving to you. Keep counting your many blessings and giving thanks to God for all you possess. Give thanks also to those dearest to you. Our loved ones often do not realize what an impact their every day has on us, so we must be the ones to open their eyes. I encourage you to thank those who have given you laughter, love, and hope throughout your days - in short, those who make life worth living. You will make their lives better in the process, and that improvement will be greater thanks than any word or gift. I promise.

Again, Happy Holdiays! 'Til next we meet... 

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Grateful Heart

November is here! The season of Thanksgiving. I have determined that every day from now until the feast day itself, I shall write down four things for which I am thankful. By Thursday the 25th, then, I shall have one hundred.

This past general conference, President Monson encouraged us to be grateful. I couldn't agree more. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, "When upon lifes' billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost... Count your many blessings! Every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by." This is part of the reason I started this blog. I found that when my day was set on a downhill slide, all I had to do was look around at all the things I already had, and everything would brighten.

This is my list for today: I live in a country that allows me to learn, worship, and act freely. I am receiving a higher education at a brilliant university. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a TV set in the living room to boot. I have a family who loves me and cares deeply for my welfare. I have the best roommates on earth (if I do say so myself). And I have the restored gospel to lift, guide, and comfort me through this life. I think these things, and I cannot help but feel happy again. I have been blessed beyond measure.

But "where much is given, much is required." In the words of yet another hymn, "Because I have been given much I, too, must give." That is my word of council for this post. This is a month for giving thanks for what we have. I think that the best way to show that thanks is to impart of what we have been given to those who have less - whether it be a monotary contribution, a donation of personal belongings to a charity or foundation, or simply our time and talents. But most of all, the best thing we can give is our love - because that is something we can give endlessly, over and over, and never run out. In fact, I can guaruntee that you will always find your supply greater than before.

There it is - the first post of the month. Happy Thanksgiving - and there's another thing to be grateful for. Thanks to you all for reading my work. I hope it has been worthwhile.

- 'Til next we meet, my friends.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Everyday Mythology

"Christmas time is snow time, and in no time it'll be Christmas again..." A cute little holiday melody, yes? Just one problem. It's snowing here in the mountians - snowing hard - and it's still October! They leaves are still firmly attached to the trees (or were, this morning) and the sky is already dishing out winter weather.

But I'm not complaining (much). Because of the snow, I got to see something magnificent. I was heading to class early this morning and happened to turn around and catch a glimpse of my mountain - Timpanogas. I grew up in love with that mountain. As long as I could see her, I was home. And she was always so beautiful - just as colorful and varied as the sky itself. This morning she was wearing white. Gleaming, pristine, flawless white. The suns rays were reflected off her slopes, causing the whole mountianside to shine. Her peaks were cloaked in cotton-thick clouds, rendering the summit invisible from the valley floor.

I wondered if it wasn't just such an image that inspired the myths of Mount Olympus in the minds of the ancient Greeks. I can just imagine the gods and goddesses sitting in council on the mountaintop, looking down through the clouds on the sorry mortals below. To those who had no need to climb the higher mountains, who had no knowledge of what a mountaintop looked like - the possibilites are endless.

I've thought similar things while observing the cosmos for my astronomy course. What the ancients must have thought looking to the unfathomable heavens, and seeing the forms of their heros among the stars... the very least they could bring to the table of explanation is that an all-powerful being had put them there.

We modern mortals look to the storm-enveloped mountains, pity the poor wretch who is attempting the climb, and go on with our day. We look to the heavens and think of millions of miles of outerspace, of laws of gravity and the speed of light. But what would it be like if we could put our modern knowledge aside and look at the world through the eyes of the ancients? If, instead of explaining the world through logic and knowledge, we could put our imaginations to the test for a while? If we could stop seeing the laws of science and start searching for the touch of the Gods?

I think that in letting ages past take over, we might just get a clearer view of the present.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #237 - Harvest

Here's my Sunday Scribbling for the week - except this time, I wrote it on a Monday. I hope I'm not breaking any rules in the act.


A storm was on the way. The trees had felt it all day, turning their leaves inside-out in anticipation of the coming moisture. A brisk breeze had been building itself up for hours until it had become something much stronger, though not yet strong enough to be called a gale. Clouds had been marching steadily onward from the west, growing larger and darker with every passing moment. Evening came and went, and darkness fell.

The house was still dimly lit, even though the sleeping hour had come. The day had been an eventful one, between the picnic and the blackberry hunting and dinner with the folks. The little ones had exhausted their seemingly unending supply of energy some hours before. They had tried so hard to stay awake, but even the most intriguing book or cunning game could not keep the drowsiness at bay in the end.

The father walked through the house, slowly and noiselessly. He was bone-tired himself, for the weeks of harvest had been long. But now, at last, all the corn was stowed away in the crib, the wheat was laid up in bundles in the barn, and the potatoes and bulbs had been planted in fresh beds of earth to await the spring. It was nearly time to rest. But not just yet.

He came to the first child, asleep over her picture book. He plucked her gently from the rug. She was a little thing, still a baby no matter how many times she insisted that she was a big girl. He laid her in her crib, day clothes and all, and tucked a blanket around her.

Then to the kitchen, where a much bigger boy, to big to carry, was resting his head on the table. The father lifted him up under the arms and guided him to the first of two beds in the back room. Then he went back for the boy's younger brother, who was curled up in front of the dying embers in the fireplace, and brought him to the second bed. He carefully bundled them up beneath the quilts, knowing from the howling wind that the night would be a cold one.  

Finally, a girl and her sister, who was nearly old enough to call herself a woman, were reclaimed from sewing room and settled deep down in their soft bed of goose-feather tick. Then it was time for the father and the mother to turn out the lights, one by one, and make their way through the dark to their own perfect bed, where they could be burried together beneath the blankets to wait out the wind and the cold of the storm.

The wind howled. Rain began hammering the roof and walls. Thunder rumbled in the distance. The house was dark and warm and still, reaping its rest after so many weeks of labor. The harvest was at last complete.


I want to clarify my request from last time. Please comment if you want to . I have no way of seeing who reads this unless you do. What I meant by my note was that you needn't feel obligated to comment simply because you read my blog. But if you feel you want to say something, please do it (whether you're from Scribblings or not). And if not, then think nothing of it. Thanks for all your support, and for reading all these little bits of my every day. I hope they are worth your while.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Green Jell-o and Funeral Potatoes

I went to the memorial service for my great grandfather yesterday. The occasion was a solemn one, but not many tears were shed. His official funeral had been in California - his state of residence - the week before, and most everyone who attended the service had shed their tears then. I sang that day, a song specially requested by my great grandmother. "Oh, My Papa," - come to find out it was sung at her own father's funeral. I was honored to be asked to sing it for her husband.

There were two miracles that happened on that hot Utah afternoon. The first was a pre-existing one - the miracle of knowing what we know. I know that Grandpa is now content and free from pain, and that we will someday see him again. That knowledge is more precious and more comforting than anything else in this world.

The second miracle was performed by the relief society sisters. As is generally the custom among LDS wards, the relief society at the ward building we attended provided a luncheon for the family members. We were all complete strangers to these women. Grandpa was being buried in Grandma's hometown, where she and her parents and grandparents had lived - but none of the people in attendance (including Grandma) live there anymore. Few of us had even visited the place in years. And yet these saintly sisters went to great trouble and effort to provide a meal for us. If that isn't service and Christian charity at its finest, I don't know what is.

You can talk about the "mormon quirks" from now until the cows come home. The priesthood brethren coming for the food and staying to take down chairs... enormous food storage jokes... relief society hand-outs... quilt tying... return missionary stories... or, the best of the lot, green jell-o and funeral potatoes. But I can say without a doubt that there is no form of sustinence on this planet (short of the sacrament) that is more satisfying or more comforting than green jell-o and funeral potatoes. To go from weeping over the empty shell of a loved one, to laughing with friends and family over a hot meal... that is a magical transformation if I ever saw one.

So many thanks to the Axtell Relief Society sisters - you are magic in its purest form.

'Til next we meet, dear readers...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guardian Angels

I have just witnessed a terrifying thing. So please excuse any misprints or type-os today - I am still a little shaken.

I was sitting in the foyer of one of my class buildings a moment ago, doing homework. I was deeply immersed in my missionary discussion outline when a voice startled me into reality - a young woman commanding someone else to "Call 911!" She was kneeling beside another young woman, who was lying on the ground, motionless. My first impulse was to run around like a chicken with its head cut off until I found someone from campus medical personell. This I did not do, of course, though almost every internal instinct I possessed was telling me to. Instead I kept still and stood by, just in case another pair of hands was needed. But for the most part, I knew that the most productive thing I could do was to keep out of the way.

The people who had first seen the unconscious girl collapsed were gathered around her, and from what I could gather from their conversation the situation was thus: she was breathing and had a steady pulse, but her jaw was clenched shut. Nobody knew who she was, though one member of the group had found a cellphone on the girl's person and was trying to contact her parents. She was wearing some sort of moniter, maybe for heart rate or bloodsugar, that was beeping inscessantly but not giving any clear reading. Only one or two people touched her, calling her name and cheking her pulse - everyone else kept hands off.

A few minutes later the campus medical personell arrived and took over. They ran vitals, talked with the parents on the girl's cell, and moved her onto a stretcher. Just as they were about to strap her down, her pulse stopped. Immediately one of the medical officers began CPR, his hands pressing her chest over and over, trying to put a beat into her heart. "One! Two! Three! Four....," he counted aloud and he pushed.  "Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty!" Check for a pulse... still nothing... begin again. "One! Two! Three! Four!" The whole room held its breath.

The city EMTs got on the scene less than a minute later and told everyone to vacate the area. I had felt totally powerless all the while - I'd been praying like crazy just to feel as though I were doing something helpful - and so having a command to follow was a relief. I packed up my things as quickly as possible and headed out the door. I lingered a moment, giving one last look at the scene behind. Then I heared four words announced - the four most beautiful words that could possible have fallen upon my ears: "She's got a pulse!" I heaved a sigh of relief that was almost a sob. The girl was still alive. She taken away to an ambulance just after I left, and hopefully will be alright.

The bottom line is this. I've discovered something though this experience. Those young men and women I watched in action today stayed calm and in perfect control in the face of a fatality, and with their training performed a miracle. A heart had stopped beating... and they brought it to life again. Who can describe such an act as anything less?

Guardian angels don't wear white - they wear EMT uniforms. And lab coats, and nurse's scrubs, and surgeons masks. Their deft fingers and unsurpassed knowledge are the instruments of salvation. I know this for a fact - my own life was saved by a genius of a man who had worked hard to gain the knowledge and skill necessary to operate on a heart the size of a golf ball. I was ten days old at the time, and I have not met with Doctor Hawks since. But I hope that one day I will be able to thank him personally for every new day I live to see. That is my challenge for you today, readers - take some time to do whatever you can to express gratitude for the medical personell in your life = those who have kept you living, breathing, healthy, and happy. We can never thank them enough for the miracles they perform every day. They all are truely guardian angels on earth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Everlasting Things

Usually I talk about simplicity and magic. Today, I have something of a more important nature to share. I have talked all this time about blessings in this world, but there is a very important one that I have neglected to count.

It is this: What an inconceivable blessing it is to have a prophet and apostles on the earth, and to have the ability to hear their words! It is a blessing that we live in a nation that has progressed so far in technology as to enable us to listen to what they have to say wherever we are on earth. And it is a blessing to know that we, the imhabitants of that earth, are God's children, and that he has been thinking of us. He wants us to be as succesful as we can be in this life, and so he give us though his prophets words of wisdom, comfort, and warning to help us on our way.

Last week, my great grandfather passed away. Despite the sadness of the occasion, I did not cry when I found out, and I probably won't at his funeral service (not much, anyway). Do not mistake me - it is not because I am in anyway cold or heartless. I have not mourned his loss for three reasons: the first, because he lived in California, and I did not see him often or know him intimately. I did, however see him frequently enough to know what manner of man he was, and to enjoy my visits to his home. The second, because he has been ill for many months, and all of us knew that his time had come. But thirdly and most importantly, I did not cry because I have been blessed with great knowledge. I know without a shadow of a doubt that his spirit lives on, and that one day I will have to opportunity to see him again and come to know him better.

Today I was able to witness a beautiful occasion - the blessing of a new baby. The child, my newborn cousin Grady, was blessed by his father in their ward church building. In my mind there is no more moving or more powerful sight than that of a circle of worthy priesthood holders taking an infant in their arms and invoking the blessings of heaven upon him. I have been blessed to have this power in my life. Any time that I or one of my siblings was ill, even if it were two in the morning my father would don a white shirt and tie and come to our bedside to minister to his fevered child.

I have been blessed in so many ways - with loving family, a good education, dear friends, food and shelter, and good health. But the greatest blessings of all are the everlasting things, the truths I have come to know that will never end. Eternal families, the atonement, the priesthood, the restored gospel - all these are things that will stand to the last, even when the world itself crumbles at my feet. This I know for myself, and I cannot deny it.

For any of you who are reading this from Sunday Scribblings, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The words I have written today are no less than my testimony, and so I close in the name of our savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ.

May God bless and keep you all - 'til we meet again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dry Clothes.

Everybody's heard of a cloudburst. Most of you have seen one, no doubt. And I'll bet some of you have been caught in the middle of one. Well, the other day, we here in Utah county got hit with something that was more of a cloud explosion. Gallons and gallons of rain pouring onto BYU campus... and guess who had to walk through all of it?

I was studying at one building and had to get to another for class - in ten minutes or less. That's the long and short of the matter. So I walked (not ran - walked) through the rain to the Fine Arts building - and at a fairly slow pace, thanks to the mountian of textbooks I was packing along in my shoulder back. The rain kept coming - if anything, it poured all the harder - and as an added bonus, BYU has a very poor drainage system on the brick paths, which results in puddles a foot deep. And so, between one thing and another, I arrived at my theatre classroom positively soaked. Dripping on the carpet. With Lake Superior hanging out in my shoes. And mermaid hair - bad mermaid hair. When I walked in the door of the Fine Arts building, a girl who was preparing to go out took one look at me, and froze. As I passed, I heard her mumble something like, "Oh my gosh..."

Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who came to theatre looking like that. But by the time I had sat around in my sopping jeans for an hour and ridden my bike home through a frigid wind... the fact that other theatre students showed up in dripping t-shirts was doing little to console my mood. I locked up my bike, went up to my apartment, peeled off my wet things and threw on a dry pair of sweats...

The effect was instantaneous. Goosebumps receeded, muscles relaxed, breathing slowed... it was comfort in its purest form. My whole outlook on the day was turned around in the space of ten seconds. Add a hot meal, a glass of milk, and an oreo... Magic? I should say so. You don't have to wave a wand to make contentment appear out of thin air. All it takes is dry clothes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #235 - Flashback

I have joined up with Sunday Scribblings, a group of writers who write based on a prompt every week. So here I am, scribbling on Sunday! Make of this little piece what you will.


The old woman sat by the window, trying in vain to feel the touch of a breeze. This afternoon was hotter than yesterday - perhaps the hottest this year. The sun seemed to stifle every spark of energy beneath its gaze, and the wind had given up weeks ago in its attempt to give solace to the fevered village.

The woman shifted in her seat, but the change was of little use. Her arthritic joints groaned in protest at the slightest provocation, buckling against her efforts to make herself more comfortable.

Her sewing lay abandoned on the table in the decrepit kitchen. The needles were still clinging to the same muffler she had been working on since last year. She had given it up a long time ago. Her fingers were no longer nimble enough for such delicate work, and her eyes too far gone. She could hardly make out even the door of the next house anymore. The village doctor had encouraged her to do as little reading and sewing as she could, so to preserve her remaining vision - but it was not his advice that had finally caused the muffler's neglect. She was simply tired of miscounting stitches in the embroidery.

Tired... the word was appropriate. She was tired. Tired of the heat, tired of her blind eyes, tired of being in pain... tired of being alone, day in and day out, every week, every month, every passing year...

Through the curtains, a sound reached her from the dusty street outside - for though her eyes were failing, her ears were still plenty sharp. It was a sweet sound... not at all unpleasant... someone playing some sort of flute outside. It was a dancing tune, very light and easy... and so familiar...

And suddenly it was night. The moon and stars shone bright and clear over the moors, and the air was crisp and cool. Laterns lit a circle of people on a gentle hilltop, from whence floated the sound of happy laughter and racing music. She stood among them, dressed her simple finest, the blush of the virgin yet glowing in her cheeks, her hair hanging unhindered down her back. A young man approached - ruddy faced and handsome as a stallion. He offered his hand, smiling a smile brighter than the stars above. She laughed sweetly and placed her hand in his own.

And they were off. The flute and fiddle never ceased, rushing through the notes like a waterfall rushes over a cliff. The two dancers' beating hearts and tapping feet kept time as they flew across the dancing green, his hand firmly on her back, her hand grasping his shoulder. Each held as tight as though their partner was the only thing keeping them anchored to the earth, their eyes never wandering from the other's perfect face. They whirled around and around, skipping and leaping, singing and laughing, never pausing to rest until the musicians finally retired for the night. Without anyone to provide music, the crowd of revelers was forced to return to their own homes as well. But even then, the blushing virgin and the handsome youth did not part, but walked back to the village hand in hand, whispering of many things which only the moors and the moon could hear.

The music outside the window had stopped, but the old woman did not stir. She reposed in her chair, her eyes closed. The sun continued to beat upon the street, and the dust still rose from the cobblestones. But to her... to her the moon was shining, and the night wind was gently blowing, and she was without pain, dancing across the green...

Anyone looking upon her in that moment would have seen once again the rose of youth in her cheeks, and the smile of a lover gracing on her face. And any who saw her would have wondered that anyone in so ancient a form, and bearing so weary a soul, could have looked so undeniably... free.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Constant Things

In the book of Fairy Tales I am reading, there is a story about an obnoxious little chicken who thinks the Sky is falling. For any unfamiliar with the tale, the chicken's cries alert all his neighbors in the near vicinity and soon chaos reigns because everyone thinks the sky is going to fall.

I had a long night yesterday. After a long day of study, my cousin and I went for a girls' evening together. We went and got something to eat, tried some sumptuous frozen yogurt, talked to my other cousin, and then finally went to a movie at about 10:00 at night. It was excessively violent (though not immoral, thank heaven), but had a very exciting plot line. But that's not the point - this is not a movie review website (usually). Anyway, we got back to my apartment a little after midnight, where my roommates where hanging up some decor they had found earlier - a task with which we gladly assisted. Between one thing and another we didn't get to bed until nearly 2 in the morning (well past my bedtime, I assure you).

I woke up at 8 this morning wtih mixed emotions, very few of them positive. Dead tired... frustrated with home improvements... guilty about not eating very healthily yesterday... disappointed that my cousin had to leave earlier than expected...

I rolled onto my back and looked out the window. There was the morning sky, clear and bright and blue, and at the sight I was instantly comforted. I noticed that the horizon was still pink, and so, much to the surprise of my cousin and roommate, I snatched up my slippers and robe and sprinted out into the crisp morning air. I stayed there for some time, breathing in the bracing chill of the morning, watching the sun manifest itself in the sky before its true entrance. The sky had turned a light cerulean, and all the mountins and the clouds around them were tinted pink. A pool of golden sunlight was visible a few miles off, making its way slowly  but surely toward my apartment complex, which was still cloaked in shadow. The sun was begining to break away from the eastern cliffs when I finally went inside.

The heavens have always been a fascination for mankind. The greeks put their ample imaginations to work and filled the nighttime sky with heros. The pirates and explorers of antiquity used the sky as their guide, to bring them safely across the sea. I cannot say to the point what allure the sky holds for me - it's not any one aspect. I love that it looks beautiful in whatever it's wearing - be it billows of storm-gray clouds, constellation-strewn black, pink and gold dawn, orange and red twilight, or even perfect summer blue. And I love that as much as the sky changes, in its way it is always the same - always there, ready for the world to look upon it in all its splendor.

This morning taught me somthing. While you may think that your whole world is crumbling, that everything is falling apart, all you have to do is look around to discover that the exact opposite is true. Even if you have bombed a test, or forgotten a rent payment, or dented your car - whatever it be - the world does not cease in its turning. The sky is not falling. It's still there, still beautiful, despite your life's insantiy. I think that is why I found the heavens so comforting this morning. It is one of those constant things, the things that will not change. Things like the sun rising in the east, or the peaks of the mountains, or the push and pull of the ocean, or whisper of the wind.

And you  may believe what you will, but I know that our Heavenly Father is one of the constant things, too. He is like the sky - always there, always watching, always waiting for the children of men to look up and see his grace and mercy. And like the heavens above, he will never fall.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Child's Play

At the begining of this month, I got to see a wonderful play called "Tuesday's with Morrie." Apparently it was based off of a book, which I fully intend to read in the (hopefully) not-so-distant future. It's about a old man who is dying teaching a younger man about life. A great thing the older man - Morrie - said in the show was that he didn't envy youthfulness because he had already been there. He said that he didn't need to wish to be twenty again because he could be twenty... or fifty, or thrity-three, or six... whenever he wanted to.

The past two days I have found myself frequently taking a page out of Morrie's book. Yesterday I found a book of Fairy Tales in the library (right by the spot where I found the Scottish Folklore volume). I finished my studying early, and so I ended up reading the whole thing (all 196 pages) that afternoon. It was the most worth while thing I did all day - maybe all week.

Until today, that is. Last week I made a grand discovery - a tree, right near the place where I park my bike every day, that looked like it should be growing in Neverland. It had dozens of smooth, curvy branches just perfect for climbing, and its leaves grew on vines that hung like curtains all around the trunk. Today, being in jeans and having a lunch break available to me, I went to this tree and climbed into the upper branches with my PB&J. It was the first time I had climbed a tree in earnest in many years, and it reminded me of climbing trees and rocks and playhouses and park sets with my younger brothers as a child. Despite much scrambling and scratching and burning muscles and stubbed toes, it was so worth the climb. I sat for half an hour on a sun-dappled branch in a cathedral of greenery, hidden flawlessly from the view of passersby, far removed from the world, and imagined. I could probably write three or four novels from the images that flashed across my mind... kingdoms of faeries... tree-dwelling youths not unlike Peter Pan's lost boys... castles of gold and emerald... It was with greatest reluctnace that I finally manuevered myself back to earth.

There is a point to all this - really, I promise. The point is that it is good for you to go back to being a child for a time. Even grown-ups are still very much allowed to blow bubbles in the backyard, or swing on a park swing until it can go no higher, or eat otter pops in the summer, or watch Disney movies, or snitch from the cookie dough when no one is looking. And doing these things will remind you of what the world was like back when you were that small... a new, beautiful, undeniably magical place, full of new wonders and joys to be had every day.

That's all I've got... for now. Til next time...   

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stress Mangement 101

As you have no doubt noticed, Everyday Magic has undergone a change of color. This is because the official first day of Fall (or Autumnal Equinox) was last week. So we're changing with the seasons! You can probably expect something in a garish red and green come December. And maybe a few elves and some English carolers as well.

Anyway - to the point...

This blog post is for all of those high school and college students who end their school day wanting to either crawl into a dark hole somewhere or throw themselves off a cliff. However, those who do not fit in this category are more than welcome to read as well.

If you are one of those students, then here are my suggestions to strengthen your grip on reality and make your days a little more purposeful:

1. Count a Blessing. This has been my saving grace these past weeks as I've started this blog. There's always something bright and beautiful out there to enjoy and be grateful for. So take a few seconds to get out of the bumper-to-bumper traffic of life and enjoy something God has given you every day. It will help you remember that life really is good in spite of your workload.

2. Don't work yourself into the dust. Establish a time for study in which you read textbooks and write papers like a maniac. And when the time is up, PUT THE BOOKS AWAY. Don't touch or look at them again for the rest of the day. Go to a park, make cookies, read a novel, watch a movie, take a hike, spend time with a friend, listen to your favorite music, drive Provo Canyon and see the colorful leaves - whatever takes your fancy. As my eloquent, college professor father put it, take some time be a real human being again

3. Breathe - slowly and deeply. I'm told that often stress begins simply with shallow breathing. And besides that, functional lungs are yet another thing to be grateful for! Take it from a seasoned asthmatic, you don't know what a blessing it is until you have to fight for your next inhalation. So take a few deep breaths, review your plan for the day, get things straightened out in the synapses, and then go on with renewed vigour.

4. When you are having one of those just-shoot-me-now days, know that you are by no means alone. I've been there (in fact, I am there). I have many friends who have been there. And I can almost promise you that if your parents have been educated and are at least half human, they've been there, too. And there are probably a lot of people around you who are experiencing much the same thing. So think of them as well as yourself, and break from the ordinary to give a smile or compliment to one of your fellow men. It will make their day and most certainly improve yours, I guaruntee it.

Til next time, my friends...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Buried Treasure

The written word is a marvelous thing. It is mere paper and ink, yet contains more magic than anything else in today's skeptical world. Walt Disney once said, "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."

For those who are unfamiliar with the Harold B. Lee Library, there is a spacious room in the bottom-most basement level called the Social Sciences and Education section - I have visited this place because I happen to have a locker there. Compared to the more spacious parts of the library, this room does remind the scholar that she is, in fact, underground.

I was meandering through the European shelves in this section a couple days ago. I had no real purpose save to observe, but to put it in Disney's terms, I accidentally struck gold. I came across three little leather-bound books dating back to 1889 containing the folktales and legends of three northern European countries - all remarkably available for checkout. I took the first - from Scotland - back to my apartment. For the last week I have spent a little time every day in the Scottish highlands, dancing with the faeries, howling with the ghosts, and talking with the ancient ones of the river side and mountain towns. 

Books have always held a certain allure for me. It has been said that "Books are a uniquely portable magic." I couldn't agree more. I have travelled more, seen more, done more, and been more between the pages of a book than I could ever have hoped to accomplish in the real world. I have even continued the adventure in my own writings, in which a blank Word document is my "in the beginning" and I am free to create worlds. It is the nearest thing to true magic that I have ever experienced. 

As the Scots put it, may the wind be ever at your back! 'Til next time...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Sweeter Things

I hope that eveybody reading these words can honestly say that they enjoy food. I truly feel sorry for those individuals (particularly over-thin models and the like) who do not. One does not have to be obese or overweight to do so, either. It's just a matter of appreciating what you have - and one of the things that we Americans have in bounty is food. There are so many people in the world who are lucky to have enough of anything to fill their stomachs - nevermind whether it tastes good or not.

The reason I bring this up because I got to appreciate one of my favorites today - a piece of chocolate cake, which I shared with my dad. I throughoughly enjoyed every bite. I don't want this to make me sound greedy or pig-like in any way. My point is that with that there is an ongoing trend in the U.S.A. primarily toward dieting and being excessively skinny. I'm totally in favor of healthiness, but I am not at all in favor of not enjoying what you're eating. And of course, one must always be moderate in one's dietary habits - but every now and then it is encouraged that one indulge in one of those little favorites. And when you do, savor it! It is always a pleasure to enjoy one of the sweeter things in life.

This time of year, I highly recomend the fruit - peaches, pears, nectarines, apples... My little sister likes for me to tell her a certain french fairy tale called "The Three Sacks of Truth," which begins with a selfish and greedy king going on a hunt for the perfect peach. He need not look any futher, because I think I found it - in my sack lunch yesterday. Even though I ended up with sticky hands and peach juice all over the place, it was the most delightful thing I have tasted in a long time. So everyone take advantage of the fresh fruit stands while they're still around! That perfect sweetness is worth every penny. 

Also, I discovered tody that if anything can stir the observer's soul, it's a sunrise. I watched the sun peak over the mountins this morning, and it was like God's presence on Sianai. There were beams of golden light pouring over the peaks and into the valley, and the ridges were lit up like a temple. It was a breathtaking sight. So next time you get the chance, find out when the sunrise is happening where you are and get up to watch it. It is well worth the sleep you're sacrificing, I promise.

-Till tomorrow - Ciao!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rainy Days

The weather was extremely spontaneous today. It poured for about thirty seconds this morning, and then again for half an hour this afternoon. Despite such unusual cloudbursts, it was actually an extremely plesant day. The overhanging storm clouds kept the sultry heat at bay, and the little rain there was gave the whole city that refreshing aroma of rain-soaked earth. I got to experience all the benefits of rain without actually getting wet. I wouldn't have minded it if I had, though. This year it started to rain on my birthday, at a time when a friend and I were without occupation at the high school. There wasn't much going on inside, so we went out. We spent about an hour a-singin' in the rain. And dancing. And puddle jumping. We got completely soaked, but our mothers will be comforted to know that neither of us ended up with so much as a cough in the following days.

Last night in my astronomy class I got to experience a scientific phenomenon that I had only ever seen on posters or in blackboard drawings - viewing the spectra of individual elements. I won't bore you with details, because it would take up more of your time than you probably are willing to devote to a single blog - suffice to say that being able to see it for my own eyes was a miracle for me.

But the detail I wanted to share about the experiment is that it involved looking through a little slide called a defraction grating, which bends white light into its full color spectrum. I was quite facinated by this little piece of cardboard and plastic, so my professor said I could keep it. I've been staring through it at every light I pass since then. That was the piece of magic I wanted to tell you about. There are so many rainbows in this world! Countless rainbows, everywhere - all hiding in the light we live in every day. It was amazing to get a glimpse of a few of them.

I have a suggestion for everyone today. Next time you are out in the world, walk up to a complete stranger and pay them a compliment. See what happens. It may be that you just made a world of difference without even knowing it. And if that isn't magical, I don't know what is.

Au Revior! 'Til next time...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Begining

This is me. Or rather, this is my blog. This is a completely new thing for me, so have patience if something cataclysmic happens all of a sudden - I probably didn't intend it - and excuse the momentary lack of decoration. I'm still figuring out this whole business. It isn't the sort of thing I would usually have undertaken, either - but my dear friend Jessica (Jubie) of, has inspired me to give it a go.

The purpose of this solitary little internet page is magic. But I'm not going to go on about Harry Potter here (Ok, I might a little, but only where necessary). The kind of magic I'm talking about is the kind of thing that happens every day. Like leaves changing color, or the first page of a great book, or the smile of a complete stranger right when you needed it the most. All of the brand new discoveries of every day life that so little of humanity gets to make. So I am going to put a little more effort into noticing these small but magical things and write them down for anyone who cares to listen, and I encourage my readers (whomever they be) to share their own discoveries with me as well.



I had to ride back to my apartment today from campus to get a rental movie (Harry Potter 2, consequently) that needed returning but was still sitting on my VCR (yes, I still use one - and casettes, too!). It seemed like a pain at first, but once I got going I suddenly realized what a beautiful day it was. It was perfect for biking - not a cloud in the sky, and gentle breeze blowing, and blushing shade trees growing in all the right places. After a couple weeks of stress and homesickness, this little trip off the beaten path was just what I needed - a chance to get away from the books and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of nice weather. I got back feeling refreshed, exhilarated, and revitalized.

So my advice for the day is this: don't get so caught up in life that you forget about living! Enjoy what's around you - from the warm sun in the heavens to the cookie in your lunch. They are all such blessings.

In other notes of interest - just in case anyone cares - I have my first midterm exams this week. I think this blog and the package of oreos stashed in my cupboard at home are the only things keeping me from going crazy. I think it will be fine - and at any rate, it will be funny to reflect on what a nut I will be the day before. If it's possible to study like a maniac, I will most certainly be doing it.

Thanks for reading in! Farewell 'till next time...