Monday, November 29, 2010

Temptation in a Drift of Snow

The women's restroom at work overlooks a portion of roof that faces north, deliciously covered in a snowy white drift of down. Every time I look out of the window, I am overwhelmed with the urge to leap into that peak of pillowy powder. If I close my eyes, I can see the glittery dust flying up around me as I land in a pile of smiles.

Alas, I have been unblogged these past two weeks. It's sort of like being unplugged, but more like losing your wallet and not knowing where to find it. That isn't because of a lack of things to write about. One night we went up the canyon for a lovely, romantic campfire. 
Another night went to see the Scarlet Pimpernel with some good friends.

We went out on numerous fun dates, watching movies, eating out with friends, and shopping. We had wonderful guests come to visit and enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving, complete with the ancestral crystal and gold stemware. After pie, we all gathered at the movies to watch Tangled as a family.
My family gathered (both sides!) for my nephew's baptism.
We went rock climbing with the three musketeers ...
...and the swelling on my foot went down enough that I could pull on my climbing shoes.
Just look at those DELICIOUS calves on C! Yum!
We went Christmas tree hunting, complete with sliding down treturous roads and dragging the tree across half-frozen rivers.
That was just the beginning! I didn't find it on the frozen river, or at the top of the rock wall. I didn't find it in that bucket of popcorn I shared with my brother Ben. I didn't find it in mom's scratch strawberry pie.

Today I received a message. It read, "Your readers are missing your blog entries! Thank you." I thought, maybe I can fake my bloggerness for a little while until I find it again.

Perhaps it's like the Gingerbread man that the lunch ladies lost in the kitchen when I was in elementary school. It took our whole class to help find it! Or maybe it escaped like Peter Pan's shadow that had to be sewn back on once it was recovered.

Blogger Classifieds
Lost: One morsel of bloggerness. Please return if it is found. Maybe, just maybe, it's hidden in that snow drift on the roof at work...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Christmas Village Morning

I woke yesterday in a Christmas village, complete with snowcapped evergreen trees, and perfectly white-capped rooftops and yards. The homes glowed with golden windows, whispering of stirrings within. My Christmas village husband sweetly kissed me into the morning, and my Christmas village birds serenaded me while I prepared for the day. Someone in the heavens flipped a switch and the picture perfect winter morning melted away, washed clean with warm rain; giving way to a sunny November day with dry streets and sidewalks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stress-Free Holidays!

The year we were married, my parents (both sets) were out of town. C's mom was single, and Thanksgiving rolled around with no invitations, so we held it in our tiny little shack and invited C's mom. I have a major aversion to partially cooked poultry. Any red even on the bone is cause for shutting down my salivation glands, and churning up my stomach, and so when I discovered a pre-cooked smoked turkey that year, I was willing to give it a go. I woke up the morning of Thanksgiving and rushed around in a panic. C looked at me and said, "What are you doing?"

I replied that I was TRYING to get dinner ready.

"No, why are you acting like this?"

It caused me to take a moment to reflect. It wasn't that I didn't like to cook. I had been cooking for years and was very good at it. My mom had us cooking and baking from scratch as children. As a teenager I cooked meals for the whole family 2-3 times a week. My dad had been a chef and was always throwing new ideas my way. Food was always exciting. My paternal grandfather was always creating new recipes and my grandmother made everything including her own pet food. I grew up hearing stories about the amazing cooking skills of my ancestors. It was in my blood!

From age 18-21 I was the lone cook for a home for paranoid schizophrenics and so I learned how to quickly cook large quantities of food with ease. Still, stressing and panicking was what mom ALWAYS did on Thanksgiving morning. She stressed and stressed until everyone else around her was stressed, too. It was as much a part of Thanksgiving as eating the meal.

C suggested I start a new tradition called "Stress-Free Holidays." Doubtful, I thought I would give it a whirl. I had plenty of time to make the pumpkin pie, the dressing, the turkey, the cranberries, the yams, the gravy, the mashed potatoes, and more. It was easy, and I learned that those muscles C had popping out on his arms were just right for whipping out some amazing mashed potatoes.

Our first Thanksgiving was a hit. This year when C encouraged me not only to start early on Christmas shopping, but to finish early as well, I was thrilled. I took the challenge to heart and finished!

Here is my invitation to you: do what YOU need to so that you can enjoy a stress-free holiday, too! If it's too late this year, start early next year. Don't let the long lines and the crowded stores overwhelm you. Don't let the unspoken traditions and unnecessary preparations consume you. Enjoy the people you love, and let go of something that doesn't belong in the holiday section of your life. Join me for a stress-free holiday!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Crap...

If someone could get an academy award for over-doing it, it would be me. Alas, C encouraged me to go slow, take it easy, and here I am just one week after getting my stitches out with an infected foot. I am certain that I have followed instructions faithfully, wrapping my foot every day, but there it was. I dumped hydrogen peroxide on it and gobbed on triple antibiotic cream in hopes of helping. Now if I can manage to go easy tomorrow, I may get it to mend.

I borrowed my littles this weekend. Little 2 enjoyed some stream of conciousness chatter to herself while we drove through some road construction."Those lumpy bumps of dirt look just like a bunch of lazy camel bumps. That one looks like an ELEPHANT. Dirt bumps look like camel bumps and elephants..." She is adorable.

Little 1 has begged me for over a year to teach him Alice. We did some programming a while back and made a snowman, but he took to programming like a fish to water. All of this time I had figured that it would be a huge investment of time on my part teaching him how it works. I let him run through the tutorials first and he was rip-raring to go in the first few minutes.

"When do I get to build videogames?" He asked. I explained that he needed to learn the terminology and how to put the pieces together. I explained that any good video game includes a story, so learning how to build stories at this point was the first step. He REALLY liked Alice.

When I couldn't get him to go to bed, I kindly said, "It would make me feel really bad if you couldn't play Alice tomorrow because you wouldn't go to bed tonight." That's all it took. He raced off complete with excited giggles. His enthusiasm has been good for me. It's fun to see him so excited about learning.

Well, my brain is melting into a sleepy mush, and so I am going to conform to it. Have a lovely day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Playing to Your Strengths

For my birthday I wanted to go Christmas shopping, and so C conceded. Aside from one or two gifts, I have purchased, wrapped, and tagged nearly every gift I will give out for Christmas, including work gifts. I also purchased most of what I will need for Thanksgiving. Alas, it has been a delightful experience.

There is a book that I have mentioned before that helps one identify their strengths. I don't readily subscribe to the basis of the book, which apparently states that one should do only those things that they are good at. So much for progression. Still, there is definite value in looking back over your life and identifying those things that have brought you success and happiness. It is these particular things that you typically succeed with that are considered your strengths. I have identified several of mine.

1. I love to cook, and I am good at it. I can look at a group of foods and quickly distinguish which flavors and textures will best work together, regardless of instruction. The kitchen is a blank canvas for me, and freestyle cooking brings me immense joy. I just have to remember to write down the creations that are successful. I was never a Top Ramen girl in college. Rather I would buy a yam, take advantage of crab legs on sale, purchase a calamari steak now and then... NOT normal, but forever creating something new and tasty.

2. I have the capacity to hold an amazing amount of information in my head and put it into action. This makes it very easy for me to do complex research projects, plan and organize large and complex events, and manage large and complex projects. I thrive on complexity and am able to scale my thinking to adapt to any scope. The things I plan may not always include a play-by-play manual, however, I have yet to have one of these events fail miserably.

3. I have the ability to keep moving under crisis circumstances and not freeze up. My default behavior in crisis situations is to think clearly and navigate the problem. Only when things are under control do I experience any sort of melt down. Sometimes this may be several hours, days, or weeks after the crisis event, when it is finally safe to step out of operational mode.

4. I am an excellent manager and motivator of people. I enjoy working with others and getting their thoughts and ideas. I am very good at identifying next steps with those ideas, and creating processes in order to help deliver that objective or maintain it.

5. I am creative and imaginative. I love my creative side, and am often very unhappy when it is stifled.

6. I love to teach and am very good at teaching. I am able to teach difficult concepts in such a way that others "get" it. I have been teaching (formally) for over 18 years and I am successful 99% of the time.

7. I I love to write and am reasonably good at it. I started writing at age 9 and it has always brought me peace and clarity. When I remove writing from my life my thoughts feel like a tangled piece of yarn in my head and I feel all of this creativity bottling up inside of me.

8. I learn new things incredibly quickly. Learning is like breathing for me. I can't imaging being in a world where I could never read or learn something new again. That would be my personal hell.

I am sure there are some more, but it is late, and my head is finally clear enough to settle down next to my C and fall asleep.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The most interesting people work at my salon. I am pretty sure that every female stylist there is a size zero. It's just an observation. What else are you supposed to do while you sit under a dryer waiting for your color to bake? I don't think I was ever a size zero, but then, I don't think I would ever want to be a zero. :) My stylist did an outstanding job once again. I never thought I would love going to the salon, but I am converted. This place doesn't offer a haircut, it offers an experience.
One of the other stylists there had Yanni-long hair, a beard that was so manicured that it looked like he'd used a straight-edge and a level to define it, waxed eyebrows, and that doesn't even touch the fashion element. I said to him, "You are an excellent example of male grooming." I think he found that quite flattering, but I was just being honest. Just to be clear, he was straight.

I am surrounded by reasonably well-kept men in the work environment. For the most part, I would say that the men with whom I work care more for their appearance than the women - as a whole, that is. I have seen women who are full-figured who look amazingly polished, so I am inclined to believe that size isn't the primary care factor involved in defining a polished look. Male or female, there's something classy about someone who is well groomed.

Speaking of well groomed, if you can handle the truth, here is how my foot is doing:
This is when it was unwrapped for the first time five days ago. No infection, but plenty of swelling and bruising (and some permanent marker and iodine).
This is today. Still swollen and bruised, but doing better. I squeezed it into a boot today and then rued that decision for the rest of the day. It was the first time I realized how swollen it still was.

I'll Fly with You...

To my beloved,

Thank you for staying by my side, and for bringing the sunshine to me when I forget to turn the lights on. Thank you for being different and unpredictable in ways that keep me forever infatuated and intrigued with how unique and amazing you are. Thank you for loving the Christian pop station, and singing 'love-Jesus' pop songs while you make nachos in the kitchen. Thank you for asking my opinion on the clothes you wear. It's endearing to no end! Thank you for loving me through my grumpy days, through sad days, and through solemn days. Thank you for coming up with riddles I can't solve just to keep me guessing so that I will be surprised.

Thank you for forgiving me when I say stupid things. Thank you for being honest with me even when I don't want to hear what you have to say. Thank you for being kind and generous, and for reaching out to others when you see a need. Thank you for making me laugh. Nobody can bring me around in the middle of a rain shower of tears like you to face the sunshine again. I love laughing with you! Thank you for your testimony. I am so grateful for your quiet and consistent service to the Lord and to others. Thank you for being such an amazing example to me of unconditional love. Thank you for choosing me, not just once, but every day, again and again.

Thank you for helping me learn how to fly. I love you.
Eternally yours,

More versions of this song: - Techno-pop Gigi version - blah blah blah - lighter techno

Monday, November 8, 2010

Priceless Life

Yesterday a good friend came in to speak to us at church. While he said nothing of it at the time, he has been fighting brain cancer for the past three years. The normal survival rate for his type of cancer is around three months, but he has lived to see his two sons serve missions, one of them has returned, and the second will return early next year.

Some time ago, the family respectfully asked that inquiries about his condition cease and that the family have the opportunity to come to and from church to worship as they would. That is how I would be as well. A few people knew about my foot, but I managed to squeeze the bruised and swollen thing into a shoe to avoid the barrage of caring questions.

As he stood to speak to us, I thought about life. I thought about how sometimes lately I have been so unhappy. I have been dancing wildly to change who I am for others, and I am miserable. I am constantly on edge, and running a wild balancing act. What do I have to be miserable about? I have an amazing husband, a lovely home, loving family and friends, a job, and many other rich blessings. I have nothing that should make me so unhappy, and so I decided that I am finished trying to change for other people. I will change for me, but there is no way I can please everyone.

In the Old Testament, the Lord asked Jeremiah to watch a potter working the potter's wheel. The clay was marred, and the potter started over to make something better. I need to trust that the Lord can do that with me, but in order to do so, I have to listen and trust; not the fickle and conflicting opinions of those who barely know me and think they know my heart and intentions, but trust the one being who has never and will never let me down. He knows my heart even when nobody else does.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

This week I have had the fine pleasure of walking in someone else's shoes...or should I say feet? I now know what it feels like to have one leg a full inch shorter than the other. The results are most interesting. Your back kills. Your shorter leg begins to hurt in the hip and knee. Sitting is extremely painful on the longer leg. I will never think that someone who has one leg shorter than the other has it easy or that it's no big deal.

Today I took the day off, but even so, I spent 8 hours finishing going over the schedule for the conference today. I finished just in time to make it to the Podiatrist to have my foot examined. No infection, but blood had pooled under the skin on the bottom of my foot, causing some intense pain since the wrapping held it there. Two more weeks before I can run, but I got rid of the boot and had my stitches removed.

I hurried home and threw all of the bedding in the wash, duvet cover and all. I have been sleeping with that stupid boot on and wanted a clean bed tonight. Out of the enormous list of catching up I had planned for today, that was the only thing I got done. I then rushed off to an AMAZING party with my family.

Last night, after a fifteen hour day, I cuddled up to C to hear his heart beating peacefully, and I was transported back to a time when I was a dreamer. I remember walking out onto one of the acres that made up the last remaining fragments of the ancestral homestead, and fell onto my back into the soft pale green grasses. They were heavenly. I watched their heads sway in the gentle breeze and looked out across the field through spruce bough fences strung with sagging rusted barbed wire. I slipped the grasses out of their sheaths with a squeak and nibbled on the sweet tender ends. I would hear the occasional buzz of a plane flying somewhere beyond my sight.

I stretched out on the ground without a single care about bugs or my long blond locks resting in the dirt. I didn't have anywhere to be or anything to do. I just dreamed up wonderful things. I had a brilliant imagination, but even early on I never crossed over into such fantasies as imaginary friends, and thought that anyone who had an imaginary friend must obviously be lacking a clear sense of reality. Even so, I would close my eyes and dream up the most magnificent stories. Life was so simple, so sweet.

And then there I was again, resting in a darkened room, enclosed again within walls, listening to the heartbeat of my most beloved.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Record Breaker

C is required to take a fitness test with his work. It isn't terribly restrictive, however, C is a highly competitive fellow. The test involves several items including standing jumps, push-ups, sit-ups, and running. Rather than just running the mile and a half within the allotted fourteen to fifteen minutes, C asked, "So, what's the current record."

They responded that it was nine minutes and forty-six seconds. Everyone was lined up to run. The trainer, a triathlete, announced, "I would normally be running with you, because I can usually keep up with all of the runners, but today I think there will be one of you who I can't keep up with." He finished by pointing at C.

When he crossed the finish line, he had clocked nine minutes and eleven seconds. "I should have run harder to get below nine minutes!" Nine minutes equates to six minute miles. Not too shabby, my love, especially for being the administrator in the group! I told him that next year he can break nine minute mile-and-a-halfs while he is training for the Boston.

In addition to an exciting day, C also arranged for a nice dinner with a group of old friends. It was well planned and I think everyone had an amazing time. I was proud of his party-planning skills. Everyone asked if I made the enormous chicken pot pie. With thirteen hour days this whole week to get the schedule and registration up on time, that absolutely didn't happen. You guessed it. When he asked me how he could pull off the main dish without involving me in that endeavor, I suggested Costco's pot pie. It was a hit.

Nicely done, C! I had a great time, and it was so fun to see everyone again! Keep being golden!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Here is the Real Issue

Honest to goodness, this is what is weighing me down.

Our CEO had a brainchild. It's this new technology conference. When the CEO has a brainchild he looks for someone to raise that child and is VERY involved in the process. That child-raising experience can be rather like being a nanny of a very naughty child whose parents want it raised a very specific way - er, maybe that's a bit far fetched. At any rate, this conference is unlike any other.

Imagine...a young software developer attending a technology game consoles, crazy wacky wild stuff going on JUST for entertainment's sake...a little bit of learning...lots of madness...

Now imagine throwing that person's GRANDPARENTS in next to that developer while he is trying to play his video games... SCREEAAAPE! (Needle off of the record, LP, vinyl, whatever you will...)

Now imagine trying to MAKE that software developer have an AMAZING time at a conference WHILE his grandparents are hanging out with him...???

AAAnd that's just the beginning of the problem. I like solving problems, and this is a difficult one to solve, so inevitably I like it. It is my battleground where I may prove my amazingness by actually pulling this off, ever on the verge of defeat, and yet just one step ahead of the bloodthirsty teeth of failure.

(By the way, did I mention that we got our registration system up on time. HURRAY!!! It was a huge endeavor. Really it was.)

So, I have been asking for a replacement 2012 chair for the past three months. Every time I mention it, our CEO changes the subject, runs out of the room to another meeting, SOMETHING?!? until it starts to smell fishy. At our last big push, the CEO asked, "And why isn't A{that's me} going to be our 2012 chair?"

I kind of flipped, only I didn't. I was cornered. I had explained three months earlier that I would not be chairing the 2012 conference. I am on loan to the Marketing VP because I am amazing at getting things out of the door, and he really needs me to pull this off. That isn't to sound prideful or anything. I have plenty of things I am really bad at {let me count the ways}, so give me this one. As it turns out, my marketing VP considers any and all brain children of said CEO children of his very own, so when the CEO asks for me as the 2012 chair, I panic. I am now the brainchild! The deliverable! The objective! How did this happen?

Sometimes you have to learn to sidestep in order to move forward. Anyway, I think I did respectably well by stating that the reasons were too numerous to address in the context of that meeting. Thus did I manage to buy myself some time to overcome the feelings of being cornered in a room where everyone is going for the jugular all at once with statements like, "Well, why not?" "Maybe that's something you should consider..." "It's a compliment! It means he feels nobody else can do this!" "It's because you did such an amazing job this time around! You really have done something nobody else could!" Etc.. Chest tightening, blood leaving extremities, logic packing a bag...not a pretty sight.

Over the past 24 hours I have had at least three PAINFUL conversations in which I was asked to disclose all of my reasons for NOT wanting to do 2012, and those aren't even finished. At one point, our very skilled Marketing VP asked, "Well then, what would you like me to tell the rest of the organization when they ask why you won't be chairing 2012? I certainly am not going to tell them it's because you did a bad job." Two can play at that game, so I said, "Tell them that I didn't want to. They'll believe that."

Then it shifted to, "We care about your career development. What would make it possible for you to feel good about chairing 2012?" and "Just listen to their reasons for why you should do it." Truly, I AM the project! I should really think strategically and recognize that this puts me in an awesome position for negotiations, only I am not into manipulation. I am into the blunt honest truth, which is, I feel like this could be career suicide.

I know it sounds silly spelled out here, "How could this girl take issue with being good at something?" or maybe, "Sure, flaunt your stuff while trying to make it sound like you are under duress." And yet if you saw all of the pain this has caused my heart, you would know I am not being facetious. Tears, people. Real live ones.

There's so much more to this, but isn't that enough for now? I don't see anyone salivating for more. My poor brain feels like it is going to burst when I lie down to sleep, and so I turn on the night-reading version of the scriptures on my iPhone and try to gather wisdom from the Proverbs. I love the Proverbs. They are almost as good as Isaiah, but much lighter reading at 1:00 AM.


It was one of those days. I woke up thinking I NEED TO VOTE! Only I needed to get to work. I spent most of the day in meetings, meetings, meetings, while attempting to multi-task and send out a couple hundred e-mails to notify speakers of their acceptance, and why? Because everyone else who was supposed to get access to the official e-mail account (from which these notifications were supposed to be sent) haven't taken the time to set up those additional Outlook accounts, and we are already a day behind.

At lunch I thought, I need to vote! Only I had more meetings pop up, and then I had a co-worker call me, which kept me from finishing the notifications, until at last I left the office around 7:45 tonight. I limped out to the car with my leg screaming at me for sitting for twelve hours. C helped me bag up my foot so I could take my second shower in the last six days (I know! Gross! Can't wait to get this thing off). The moment I stepped out of the shower I was sick, absolutely SICK, that I had not taken the time to vote! ARGH!!!!! Stupid work. Stupid, stupid work. There is just no good excuse for not voting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

But Thanks for Stopping By...

I think I have a bad case of negativity. I think I have a brilliant mind, albeit a very overworked mind. It's a fascinating place. I don't really get bored there. There is always so much to keep me occupied, however, lately I have been keeping company with some rather surly characters that don't do much to brighten ones' perspective. What I really need is a good workout, and a lot of celery and raw peanut butter, only not for weight loss. Can you believe that they are marketing Jif peanut butter as a relationship building tool? Really? Whatever. I just think about all of the hydrogenated oil and sugar and scoff at the attempts to 'build relationships' out of that junk. Sorry, Jif lovers. See, told you I have some negativity going down at my place.

I was thinking tonight about Kawi. I think I was a little too harsh on him in his wee times. You know, first pet (in many years), tiny little guy, sassy and full of vinegar.  I just think I could have been a little more 'chill' is all. I was listening to him sing today and was just overwhelmed with affection for that little critter, despite all of the cuticles he has made bleed. If I was diabetic I would never need a lancet, that's for sure. I often wonder if I had been the picture of patience with him if he would be less sassy now. I will just never know. I guess it's best to mess up on a bird than on a kid, right? 

I woke this morning rip-raring to go. C had to grab me by the seat of the pants to slow me down. I limped into work at 7 AM, so tired of four days in bed, and within minutes was totally zapped. It wasn't long before I heard the magic words, "Maybe you should be home." Okay, I stopped taking the Perc Sunday morning, so you'd think I wouldn't have issues driving to work, but my reflexes weren't what they should have been. I guess if I got pulled over I could have blamed it on texting even though it was the most focused twenty minutes of driving my car has seen in the past year. 

I did work from home part of the day, but nonetheless I still managed to put in twelve hours of work. Not too shabby for a gimpy ol' girl back from the Perc train. I did push through our registration system on time, even if my counterpart was not so happy with the imperfect results. Iterate, iterate, iterate, I always say. When you are running a national event in 1/4 of the required time, you will never deliver it on time with a perfectionist mentality. Perfect never comes, so sometimes you just have to get it out of the door and make adjustments along the way... Kind of like each one of us!

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