A mother

Write about a mother. Any mother. All kinds of mothers.

momsMothers and grandmothers, but wait, there’s more…

A mother I’d known and loved and admired for several once invited me to walk with her friends up along the east bench just under the mountains. They were a generation further down the path yet they allowed my inexperienced and naive self in their magnificent presence (juxtaposed against the magnificent presence of Mt. Timpanogos). She once supported me through a difficult choice I’d made. And then, after being tossed by the spirit through the night, urged me the next day to reconsider, even as I had my own second thoughts.

A mother I’d never met calmly listened as I burst into tears the moment I heard her voice on the phone and then invited me to her home–again, nestled at the feet of Mt. Timpanogos–where she gave my 4th-child-week-overdue swollen feet a massage and told me things about myself she had no way of knowing. This mother has the knack of reappearing in my life in nurturing, healing ways–at the most opportune moments. Once taking a solid preemptive strike to bear me up before a tidal wave of grief buried me. Later reminding me to be gentle with myself when I was knocked to my knees with yet another wave of grief.

A mother loves my babies as if they were her own, being the one safe place to leave them in a time of critical illness and uncertainty. This is the same mother who invites all the kids to her children’s birthday parties for fear that any feel unwelcome of left out. The rare kind of mother with whom one can share one’s deepest heartaches and also one’s greatest joys. With whom you take turns holding on to hope when children you bore and whom you love more than anything choose another path.

A mother who, when in the throes of nearly every trial imaginable with her own beloved children keeps reminding you above all else, “Preserve the relationship.” A refrain that plays through your head over and over again years later when you are barely hanging on by a thread. A refrain that reminds you to choose your battles. To bite your tongue. To drag your war-torn self out to another game, event, or outing even when it’s least appreciated or you have the most to do, because you know the value of being there for your children in whatever way they will allow you to.

A mother who puts sheets out for the neighborhood kids to build tents and forts in the cool shade of the walnut trees on her front lawn. Who once carefully pulled tweezers from deep out of your child’s knee. Who wisely advised you when to spend money you didn’t really have on a doctor’s visit for your sick or wounded child and when to save your pennies because everything was going to be ok so often that your children, when given the option, always asked for her by name before accepting your proffered remedy.

Motherhood is the job for which you receive no training. A job that changes with each new age and stage. And then turns on its head with each new child so you find yourself deep in the arc of a new learning curve every passing day. A job that never ends. A job you show up for even when you’re sicker than a dog or have endured yet another sleepless night.

It takes a village. We tend to each other, to one another’s children. To the child in each of us who is still unsure, hurt, or even afraid. It’s just what we do.

[Day 116 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]

Giving thanks

falls
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me

Today I was making chicken enchiladas while not feeling so great and I thought how glad I was that my husband has picked up shredded cheese (or possibly some other convenience that makes my life simpler) and I thought of how it’s the simple things that make life easier and remembered the time I wrote down 100 things I was thankful for and thought that would be a good thing to do again.

100 things (in no particular order)

1. Shredded cheese (though I usually grate my own)
2. Can openers (especially the kind that don’t leave sharp edges)
3. Rain
4. Storm clouds
5. The camera in my phone
6. Words
7. Hot water
8. Modern medicine
9. Natural medicine (let’s hear it for Vitamins C and D and L Lysine)
10. Harmony
11. Acoustic guitar, all strings for that matter, and percussion
12. Fine cheese
13. Sherpa-lined slippers
14. The good hearts and quick wits of my kids
15. Puns
16. Babies, particularly sweet baby James
17. Hugs–people who give them and people who accept them and people who hug you back
18. Those friends who love you just the way you are, but also, by treating you like you are already the person you are becoming, help you be better than you currently are
19. Watching my kids choose good friends (including a good spouse) and work to be good people
20. Those people who see you, get you, and who notice
21. People who love and show affection freely
22. The spirit whispering to you that you are enough even when the world tells you otherwise
23. Flowers
24. Light
25. Heated seats in my car
26. My sunroof
27. Timpanogos and her majestic Wasatch sisters
28. Connecting with strangers in a significant way
29. People who let you see them and are real with you
30. Blues, greens, and greys of the Pacific Northwest
31. Getting lost in a good book
32. The way fiction opens your heart to compassion and empathy
33. People who will look you in the eye
34. Honesty and truth
35. A sincere apology (those are rarer than you might think these days)
36. Genuinely grateful people
37. Pastry cutters, wood rasps for zesting lemons and grating nutmeg, a perfectly weighted rolling pin
38. Grated nutmeg, crushed cardamom, Penzeys baking spice
39. Words that build
40. Phrases almost too perfect for this world
41. Belly laughs, baby giggles, unrestrained awe
42. Water
43. Fresh corn on the cob, slathered in real butter and lightly salted
44. Vine-ripened tomatoes
45. Fresh peaches
46. Line-dried laundry (although that’s a luxury I haven’t experienced in awhile)
47. Still warm laundry fresh from the dryer
48. Orange carrot soap with ground oatmeal and lavender buds
49. My stick blender, a bucket full of lye, and my box of essential oils
50. My killing the 9 to 5 playlist on Spotify
51. The Zombie song and other Halloween songs that make me smile
52. White Christmases
53. The peaceful hush and pale glow of newly fallen snow
54. Sand between my toes
55. Warm sun on my face
56. The slow greening of dormant grass come about March
57. The way I think Spring is my favorite because I welcome the return of light and warmth
58. The way Fall is truly my favorite–with the colors and flavors of the harvest and the crunch of falling leaves beneath my feet–even though it means winter is coming.
59. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice oatmeal and steamers and pancakes, pumpkin cake squares
60. The look and feel of good soil full of organic matter (hard to come by here)
61. Mist coming down off the mountains and into the valley
62. Being alone on a quiet morning
63. Rainy Mondays
64. Petrichor
65. The aroma of freshly baked bread
66. Family – my family, my ward family, and my extended family, particularly my aunts and uncles who reach out to us now both our parents are gone
67. Sisterhood
68. The way reading the Book of Mormon almost daily changes me
69. The way I feel when I can set aside my fight with distractions and just “be” in the temple
70. More Holiness Give Me; More Holiness Give Me, Be Still My Soul, Come Thou Font of Every Blessing, Reverently and Meekly Now
71. The way my husband loves his students and serves our ward
72. The memories I treasure of growing up in a farm town across from a giant mint field in Oregon
73. The way my parents taught me how to work hard and be self reliant and gave me independence
74. The steady surf-sound of the Pacific Ocean
75. Finding ways my various circles of friends and family and acquaintances (although if I know you, I consider you more than an acquaintance and am more likely to call you friend) intersect
76. My Instagram account
77. My commute
78. Those moments I can count on one hand that built a firm foundation of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and remind me where I am from, why I am here, and where I am going and keep me rooted even when tempests toss
79. A prophet’s voice
80. Testimony
81. Peace and beauty amidst deep trials
82. Those good people in your life of whom you say “I want to be like her when I grow up”
83. People who listen and are truly interested
84. People who will share their stories and their truth with you
85. The things I learn from trying something new or learning something the hard way
86. When I can feel God’s love for other people
87. When I can feel God’s love for me
88. People who choose kindness
89. Gifts from the heart
90. Art
91. Those friends who you can count on to look after your kids when you’re not there
92. An optimistic heart
93. The perfect green scarf my brother knit me for my 50th birthday that really sets off my green eyes
94. Pajamas
95. A good road trip
96. The way I feel when I eat farm to table
97. Red rocks
98. Family farms, farmlands, green spaces
99. Provo’s downtown
100. The example of my Savior, Jesus Christ

NaBloPoMo November 2016

giving thanks

thanks

Families are complicated and complex. The people who’ve known us the longest see us at our best and our worst. Sometimes they are some of our closest friends and other times they hardly seem to truly know us. They love us in spite of ourselves and sometimes in spite of themselves, but sometimes they wound us more deeply than anyone else can. And yet we love. And love. And love.

We spent this Thanksgiving with 4 of the 6 of us kids at my newly ex-sister-in-law’s house. Extended family and friends totaled a part of 21. In some circumstances that may have been awkward, but it was surprisingly, pleasingly not awkward. Here is the messy things about exes. You can’t just undo 20 plus years of knowing and loving people. So in some ways, it was perfectly natural to gather and break bread together.

When we lined up the pies we paid homage to our mom–who taught us (all six of us) how to make pie. and our dad, whose love for a good slice of pie was legendary.

My two youngest stayed at home (at their own choice), where, thanks to that one friend you know you can call in a pinch to look after your kids even if you haven’t talked for 6 months, at least they had a plate of turkey dinner to remind them it was Thanksgiving.

In a couple of weeks, all my kids and some longtime friends–the kind who feel like family–will gather around my table for what we affectionately call Thanksgiving 2.0.

Today was great. And I am grateful. But that will be even better.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

#thingsthatmakemehappy

Yesterday I learned (among other things) that power posing actually reduces cortisol and increases testosterone (which, you wouldn’t really think a woman needs, but we do), doing legs up the wall for 2-5 minutes at night over several months has been show to boost your immune system significantly, and mindfully thinking of just three things you are thankful for at the end of each day can improve your life in the following ways:

more optimistic, energetic, enthusiastic, determined, interested and joyful

better immune response, more sleep, more exercise, reduced stress, longevity

more organized, less cluttered environments, think more clearly, make more progress towards goals

less envious, higher resilience, less materialistic

I’ve heard some of this before, of course, but some of it was new and some of the specifics were surprising.

So here are a few things that made my happy this week:

The other day at work I was showing a couple of coworkers video the kids sent of James, who while he had been taking a few steps here and there, suddenly decided walking is a pretty great mode of getting from point A and point B and has just taken off. I was thinking how I hadn’t seen him for a few days and how fun it would be for him to visit me at work sometime.

Just a couple of hours later I recognized some voices I know and love and peeked around my cubicle to find Luke and Emily and this sweet boy! He cruised across my office floor and met my coworkers and went up and down the long stairs a couple of times and was just delightful. Their visit totally made my day!

jamesatwork

Over the past few years I have started paying closer attention to light. I love the effects of natural light, particularly as the sun comes up and again when it is about to set. This week I coined a new term: sunsetshine. The sunsetshine on the Wasatch mountains is regularly stunning, particularly before or after a storm. The other day I (once again–I do this far too often) had to turn around on my way home and go back to try to capture the sunsetshine on the abandoned pumpkins I drive past twice a day.

sunsetshinypumpkins

Finally, so many things–the way the biting wind blew clean the air when winter teased us a little for the first time this season. The Obama/Joe memes trying to pull us out of our respective anger and fears and make us smile just a little. Puns. Puns always make me smile. An all-clear report–an answer to many prayers–from a friend’s biopsy we’ve been agonizing over. Kindnesses–a smile, an encouraging word, sincere appreciation. Simple kindnesses always get me right in the heart. Often they linger awhile, warming my soul.

NaBloPoMo November 2016