Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just A Few Thoughts

Last night I was looking at the program guide on our TiVo…this made me laugh…

My sister and I drove to Phoenix together a couple of weeks ago and we stopped in a small town in Southern Utah for lunch. You'd think that someone would proof the spelling...
Then Aja and the Littles spent the night. We were lying down on the floor and the girls took turns getting on our legs. I was moving them up and down (with my legs) and decided to do a few sit-ups…WOW, if they were here every day, I would have a 6 pack and a half! Plus, look at Stella’s mouth…she had a piece of a chocolate bunny in it. It just doesn’t get much better than that…doing sit-ups with the luscious smell of chocolate wafting down from a beautiful little girl!
And finally, for the past few weeks I’ve noticed a lump developing on the knuckle of my middle finger on my left hand. I know what it is I just don’t want to admit that it really is arthritis. I’ve never had pretty hands and have always had knarly old looking fingers, now they are really on their way to deformation…Aww, the joys of getting older!
That's just life I guess...a little humor, a few mistakes, lots of love and aches and pains! I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to live it to the fullest.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Was Really Here And I Lived!

I ran across the following little ditty the other day and it really struck a nerve with me:

“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny new sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk’s lawn. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.                       ~Marjorie Hinckley

As I’ve had time to ponder this, I have come to the conclusion that I really waste a lot of time and energy on unnecessary things. I sometimes worry too much about the condition of my house when my Littles are over when really I should be down on the floor playing with them and spending those cherished moments that are all too fleeting. I have seen that I could be much more charitable within my own neighborhood and more generous with my time for my sweet neighbors and my ward members. I don’t get down to SLC to see my elderly father and mother as much as I should because “life” just tends to get in the way!

So I appreciate Sister Hinckley’s sweet comments above. She stands as a beautiful example of what characterizes a Christ-like, charitable, loving woman and I recognize that I have fallen short.

I want my Littles to remember me for the “times” we spent together and the memories that we made together. I want the scratches in my furniture, the marks on my walls and the cracks and chips in my nick-knacks to conjure up sweeter times when my Littles were indeed “little”. When I look at my vintage “Little Black Sambo” book and see the scribbles on the inside cover, I will always see the precocious little smirk on Anthony’s face as he so proudly displayed his precious artwork to me that day!

I remember the time when my daughter Brittany was about 10 years old and she accidentally kicked a bottle of hot pink nail polish off a balcony in our house. It hit the top of my new piano, broke and splattered all over the top, dripping onto the keys and ultimately landing on my carpet. I walked in from work to find her dad and sister frantically cleaning up the mess. I was CRUSHED. I loved that piano. I instantly knew that what I said to her would remain with her the rest of her life…she was upstairs in her room crying and didn’t know that I had arrived home yet. So I took a moment to collect my thoughts, I shed a tear or two and then I went up to talk to her. She saw me as I walked into her room and she burst into tears. I sat next to her on the bed, put my arm around her and calmly said, “You are more important to me than that piano”! Now, I’m not jockeying for Mother-of-the-year; that was one of the FEW times I handled the situation well…We did get the piano cleaned up and even got it out of the carpet! Every time I played that piano and hit a certain “E” in the upper register, I saw a hint of the pink polish. It served as a sweet reminder of my precious daughter. I felt so bad that I had, even for an instant, put that piano ahead of her!

So I too want the Lord to know that I was really here and that I really lived!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Swiss Miss 2010

Saturday was our annual Midway Swiss Miss Pageant. Our town is steeped in a rich heritage of the Swiss who founded it. They chose to settle here because of the beauty of the valley which is surrounded by the mountains, resembling their homeland. Throughout our town you will see Swiss inspired chalet type homes and our buildings are also reminiscent of those you might see in the Swiss Alps.

So our Swiss Miss pageant is held once a year and girls who are ages 10-12 may participate. I hate to use the word pageant because I know it conjures up images of little girls parading around trying to look like they are 21! But this one is SO different. They are judged on Talent, Personality (through a one-on-one interview with the judges) and make-up, no expensive costumes, just their natural inner beauty. This year we had exceptional talent, the girls were all darling and the judges even said to me that it was going to be a difficult choice.

There are 5 girls selected: One Swiss Miss and four Attendants (in no particular order). They will have the time of their lives as they participate in parades and events around the state and most importantly, perform community service, not only here in Midway, but wherever they are needed. They work hard but have a great time doing it.

The show opened with a production number involving all of the girls. Our theme this year was "Sweet Dreams" so they came out in matching pajamas and sang and danced together. Then we moved on to the talent portion and every one of them did awesome! I was so proud of them. They are all provided with a Swiss dress that they model. This is an opportunity for the judges to see their poise. I worked with them on how to walk like a 10-12 year old, reminding a few that they are NOT supermodels, and to just walk slowly, with a big smile, standing up straight and maintaining eye contact with the audience. They did GREAT.

We had Barbara Smith as our emcee, one of our local Salt Lake City ABC News anchors (she grew up in Midway) and she was a hit! She surprised us all by doing an impromptu dance with one of our entertainers and brought the house down!

So my point in sharing this with you is to let you know that there is still a place where we embrace the natural beauty of youth. In a world where little girls are growing up way too fast, there is still a place where we encourage young girls to embrace their youth, find their inner beauty and get involved with their community performing not only songs and dance, but service and learning about the joy to be found in doing so. They learn to be ambassadors at a young age in representing old-fashioned values that have somehow become lost in many ways. They embrace being a young girl!
Last years "Royality"...
I am proud to be associated with such a wonderful event. These girls are beautiful inside and out. They are an example of purity and innocence that we can all learn from no matter what our age.

This year's Royalty (holding a trophy and flowers)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Confession Time

I have a HUGE confession to make! I have debated whether to blog about this all week but, alas, I feel that I must do it...I have fallen off the proverbial wagon..."Hi, I'm Mary and I'm a sugar.a.holic!

I caved! I have eaten it more than once and feel like such a failure since every other blog I read has a post about the great success people are having by going sugar-free! Not me, I succumbed to the sweet stuff and now I have to start over again. I'm SO disgusted with myself.

See, everything was going so well and I really didn't have that hard of a time getting off of it, BUT, I went to an amazing restaurant up here in Midway and they had the MOST AMAZING dessert bar. This was in a buffet setting and I rationalized to myself that since I had done so well for the preceeding two weeks, it would be OK to "splurge" that night... Then in Phoenix, there was the most delectable Red Velvet Cheesecake (the name is alluring, isn't it??) at the Cheesecake Factory...Oh my...

Almost immediately, each time,  I got the most annoying headache and the once-delicious desserts didn't even taste that good. (They really didn't, I was surprised, except the Red Velvet was amazing...not gonna lie...). Worse than that, I was racked with guilt! I felt like such a loser :'(

Once I succumbed, I felt like I could "control" it and that to have a small bite of something decadent would be alright, but it's not...It's just not! I rationalized that since I had substantially cut down my intake, I could indulge once-in-a-while...but that's like a heroin addict using just one more just doesn't work that way!

So here's the deal: I either make this commitment or I don't. I either have will-power or I don't. It's all or nothing for me, that's the only way this will work. I know, I know, I know!! So now I'm starting over. I can do this, I know that I's just a matter of "Do I Really Want This??"

Today is a new day and I am ready to face this stupid addiction head on. I have beat myself up and I am ready to move forward. This whole experience has made me so much more aware of how difficult it must really be to give up something like cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. It has changed my perspective on addiction, as I have always sorta, kinda thought I really didn't have an addictive-personality...maybe we are all the addictive-personality type in one way or another to one thing or another...hmmm?

So there you have confession to the blogging world that I was weak and it got out of control...If I do this I can't turn back...not even once! It's sometimes torturous and painful, but I know in my heart that my body needs me to rid itself of the sweet stuff! I felt better for those two weeks and it wasn't that hard...until the buffet!

On a positive note, I have been completely soda free for just over a month now and I have upped my water intake substantially. I drink at least 60 ounces a day and I feel better, I pee better...well, you get the point and seriously, I never thought I could do that. So thank you for being my "support group" and "sponsors" of sorts...I promise I'll try to do better!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Innocence

Today I am thankful for INNOCENCE.
I was watching the Princess and the Frog with 2 of my Littles yesterday. There was a scene with two adorable little girls. One was black, one was white. I asked Alakina which one was Princess Tiana and she pointed to the right side of the TV and said, “The girl with the green dress!”

(I couldn't get this picture any larger, but you get the idea.)
If you know anything about this movie, in the scene that I'm talking about, Princess Tiana is an adorable little black girl who's mother is the housekeeper for a very wealthy southern family and Tiana is playing with Lottie, the adorable, but very spoiled little white girl who's family is very wealthy (did that make sense??) Both litle girls are illustrated beautifully. Lottie is wearing a lovely pink princess dress and and Tiana is wearing just a cute little plain green dress.

OK, so what really touched me was two-fold: 1. My blonde little granddaughter, who is ALL girl, decided she wanted to "be" Princess Tiana...wearing the plain green dress, not the little blonde girl wearing the princess dress. 2. That she pointed and said, "The girl with the green dress", not the "black girl".

She ALWAYS wants to be one of the characters in a movie. So I asked her, "Wouldn't you rather be Princess Lottie?" to which she simply said, "no" and when I asked her why, she said, "Cause Princess Tiana is nice, Nana, and she's pretty!"

It made me stop and realize, once again,  how amazing kids are. They have NO barriers when they meet people. They have no concept of bias or prejudice, of black or white. They base beauty on character, not appearance. Perhaps their innocence shields them from the ugliness of these most harmful feelings!

In Matt 18:4 it says, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." I have always thought that I understood why the Lord tells us this, but yesterday I was reminded and shown the importance and power of that one scripture.

Alakina loves Tiana. She has NEVER mentioned that she is black! She mentioned several times that she wants to "be her" for Halloween. Now she wants a Princess and the Frog birthday party and she has made it very clear that SHE wants to be Princess Tiana at her party!

When are we going to wake up and listen to our children? They get it! They are probably THE most unconditional creatures upon the face of this earth. It's so sad to me that we (society) impose our restrictions of love upon them.

I watch my Littles. They are all unconditional with their love. They walk up to kids who are perfect strangers and start playing. They share whatever treat they have with a child they have never met. They will see someone in a store and say, "she's pretty" or "he's nice". They teach me everyday about the importance of "just loving". She has inspired me to strive harder to be more forgiving and tolerant and to "check" myself and make sure that any barriers of bias or prejudice are torn down.

So today on this "Thankful Thursday" I am thankful for the perfect example of Christ-like love that a precious, perfect little 3 year old showed me and for her beautiful "Innocence" that radiates from her amazing little spirit!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Voice

Last night were our state caucus meetings so Brad and I went to our local precinct meeting. When we got there I was surprised how few people had arrived. I guess with so many people up in arms about what is going on in our country that I expected to see a full house...not to be.

The meeting was called to order and the first thing asked for were 3 people to be the vote counters. I figured this was something I could do so I volunteered along with 2 other ladies (whom I happened to know) and I just sat back and waited for my time to come to "fulfill my duty".

The Chairman said that the first order of business was to vote for 1.) Chairman 2.) Vice-Chair and 3.) Secretary/Treasurer for our local precinct. He was nominated and elected to continue being the Chairman then nominations came around for my pleasant surprise, someone nominated Brad along with 2 other men. Brad won! Then on to Secretary/Treasurer. The first name nominated was MINE...I was shocked! The second name was the incumbent.We both took a minute to tell a little bit about who we were and then we voted. Of course, this time I did NOT count the votes with the other ladies and when they were finished they announced that I was elected!

OK, not really a big deal, it was just so funny to be nominated and then elected when I am so new to the town. The lady I "beat" was an old timer, has lived here her whole life and is very well-known. But nevertheless, I was honored and look forward to being more involved in our great little community. We elected 5 county delegates and 2 state delegates (yes, we are a REALLY small town!) Everyone was respectful and I feel good about who got elected. 

So now I am on the Swiss Days Committee as Chair of PR/Advertising, I'm on the Midway Boosters as co-chair of PR/Advertising and Swiss Christmas and now Secretary/Treasurer of Precinct 7 of Wasatch County!

I never want to use my blog as a platform for politics, but just let me say that I, personally, am very concerned about the direction this great country of ours is headed. Sometimes I feel insignificant and only ONE voice...but I am still one voice and I can be heard and so can you. You don't need to be on committees to be heard, you just need to go to meetings and if you can't attend meetings, you need to be informed and vote.

We as women are significant and we know what's going on...especially SAHM's! Many of us have children and grandchildren in public schools. We all pay taxes and we see the effects of inflation. We have concerns for our families and their futures. I believe that the women of this great country have a "beautiful" voice and it needs to be heard.

So I encourage all of you in this fabulous blogging world, to educate yourselves in the issues that concern you. Write your elected officials and let them know how you feel. My husband is very involved in the fight for freedom and was told by several U.S. Senators and Congressmen that for every 1 person who writes, they figure that they represent between 100-150 people who feel like them but don't write! That's the power of one voice.

We live in an exciting time...but also a time where there seems to be a lot of concern and even fear. I sometimes HATE to turn on the news because I don't want to hear the negative things going on around me, but I do it because burying my head in the sand will not stop the negativity...I find balance. I read good books that educate me in the proper role of government but I also read books about the things that I enjoy! I watch the news but I also watch programs that I want to watch that are in no way related to politics. I live my life and I try to live without fear. I find joy in serving in my community and for me that works.

I encourage all of you amazing women out there to keep your eyes opened. Become aware of what you want and don't want to see our government do. Speak up and be heard! You may only be one voice, but your one voice is beautiful!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just Curious!

I don't know about you, but I am a very curious soul and sometimes it gets me in trouble. When my kids were young, whenever we went to the doctor's office or ER, while we were waiting for the doc I would pull out the instruments hanging on the wall and we would take turns looking up each others noses, and in our throats and ears. I just always wanted to know what the doctor was looking at and so did my kids. I only got caught doing this once that I can remember. The doctor laughed and actually praised me! I guess he thought it would inspire one of my kids to follow in his didn't, they just laugh about it now and do it with their kids!

Disglaimer #1: I was always respectful, just curious. I'll admit that I DID look through the cupboards, but NEVER took anything. I was just curious...

The other day I was visiting at my sister’s in-laws house in Mesa, Arizona. They are wonderful people whom I have known for over 30 years! We had a delightful time, delicious dinner and then played a card game called “Wizard”…pretty fun, great company and lots of laughs! Inevitably, I needed to use the restroom.

When I sat down on the toilet, I was pleasantly surprised to find a VERY comfortable and HEATED toilet seat! I looked down and to the right of the seat were some controls that indicated a bidet type of device. I was intrigued (teehee)…SO…I pushed the button!

It worked! The warm water shot up and did it's duty and it surprised me so much that I let out a squeal! The funniest part was that I could hear the other 6 people in the house bust out in laughter and someone said, “Aww, she pushed the button!!”

Disclaimer #2: I NEVER go through peoples bathroom cupboards...seriously, that's just wrong!

It was AWESOME and I have decided that I HAVE TO HAVE ONE! Who’d of thunk?!?


Friday, March 19, 2010

There Is Beauty All Around

I have been visiting my sister in Phoenix for the past few days. She actually drove up to Salt Lake to see her daughter, grandkids and my parents and I drove back with her.

We started out not exactly sure which route to take as there are really 3 viable possibilities. As we approached the point where we had to make a decision, we chose to get off the main freeway (I-15) and we wend down the center of the state. It was SO the right choice!

I have always loved Utah because of the diversity of the terrain. The north part of the state has the Rocky Mountains which disect the main towns and cities and amazing canyons leading up to the ski resorts. When I was a flight attendant, people used to ooh and aww over the majesty of these grand peaks. It's a gorgeous part of the state.

The south part of the state is quite the opposite, but every bit as beautiful...The mountains continue to run down the state, but there are the most vibrant red bluff cliffs that trim the base of the Rockies with vast desert valley floors.

As we drove, we chatted about everything, analyzed our kids (tee hee) and boasted about our "littles"...It was so great to be A.L.O.N.E. with my baby sister. We figure we haven't had that opportunity since we were teenagers! We always had kids,parents or grandkids has been great, but even better to be sequestered in a car for 12 hours...(yes, it took us 12 hours because we took our time and made stops when we wanted to and it was great!!)

At one point, we drove by a cave that was "open for business". We decided to go in...It was a little museum and gift shop. The owner was charming but didn't take debit cards and both of us hadn't gotten our cash yet...we drove on and saw beautiful caves, cliffs and beautiful patterns from Mother Nature's natural erosions. SO AMAZING!

I am SO thankful to live in this country for many reasons, one of which is the diverse beauty of the many different regions. God's handiwork is everywhere and I'm so thankful that my sister was willing to take the time to "enjoy the ride!"


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Answers to Simple Prayers

I am thankful today for ANSWERS to SIMPLE PRAYERS!

My beautiful little granddaughter, Alakina lost her precious “Nini” (pronounced nee-nee) a few days ago. Nini is a pink bear that was given to her as an infant from one of her mommy’s best friends and they have been through it all together!

I have often thought about how I could teach an entire Relief Society lesson on Nini...To me she somehow encapsulates the very essence of womanhood and has endured EVERYTHING…she started out soft, pink and very cuddly. She was beautiful and flawless…much like our precious infants when we hold them in our arms for the very first time.

Nini has been the most faithful companion to Ali. This precious little girl would cry every night if Nini wasn’t right with her at bedtime. Anytime she was hurt, sad or sick, Nini was the first thing she wanted.

Nini’s endurance should be an example to us all…She has been stepped on, peed on cried on and puked on. She has endured rips and tears, lost limbs and minor “surgeries” to repair all of them. She has been dragged through the snow, mud, dirt and every possible filthy floor imaginable. She is one tough gal!

And it’s amazing to me how much this precious little 3 year old loves this disgustingly filthy, ratty, sometimes stinky, limp little bear! She has no regard for outward appearance and has looked completely beyond the obvious. She loves what Nini represents. She loves the representation of reliability, unconditional love, comfort, a listening ear and a true friend. Lessons we can all learn.

So Aja and I have been so upset about the loss of this precious little toy! Alakina has been a trooper and even though she was sad, she has dealt with this loss quite amazingly. I told Aja to take advantage of this situation and use it as a teaching moment. This was a perfect opportunity to teach Ali to turn to her Heavenly Father and offer up a tender prayer and petition His help in finding her little friend. They did just that…2 days ago. Aja felt better.

I have found that when I pray with a sincere heart, the most simple prayers are answered with the most obvious answers. It's when I have a laundry list, that's when I struggle to "hear clearly" what needs to be done. I have realized that I even get bossy with the Lord! I have had to be careful and remember to remain grateful, thanking Him for what He has so graciously blessed me with and keep my prayers humble and simple.

Yesterday I received a phone call from Alakina who sweetly said, “Guess what Nana” I said, “What Ali?” she then said, “I found Nini!!!” I was so thrilled at the joy in that sweet little voice. Pure happiness exuded from her heart, came right through the phone and my heart swelled. We finished our phone call and I promptly offered a prayer of thanks to a loving God who helped teach my adorable little granddaughter a priceless lesson about faith. Her simple yet sincere prayer was answered with love and now I pray that she will always remember this momentous occasion.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nowhere in the Navajo Nation

We're out in the middle of nowhere in the Navajo Nation. It's truly a beautiful drive. I'm with my sister driving to Phoenix but will probably stay in Flagstaff tonight. I'll post more tomorrow, hopefully with pictures! What a beautiful country we live in!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life to the Fullest

This is my little 3 year old grandson, Anthony and this is what his face looks like most of the time! He is always scraped, cut or bruised…honest, we don’t abuse him he’s just high energy all the time!

When I uploaded this picture to my computer, I had forgotten that I had taken it. But I smiled when I saw it. He was so proud of his “battle wounds” and it made me think about how he lives his little life to the fullest! He is so curious and loves to “experience” new things. He loves things that are fast and loud!

He has NO fear…something we tend to acquire as we get older.

Maybe that’s a good thing. After all, we don’t want our faces to be scraped and bruised all the time, but do we take life by the reins and “go for it”? Something to think about…


Monday, March 15, 2010

Images of Broken Light

Many of you know that I have one son. As a young boy, he was my EASIEST child. He had a conscience that was off the charts! He rarely needed discipline because he was a very obedient child. My biggest problem with him was his incessant "ball bouncing" in the house! I finally figured out that if a boy has a ball in his hands, he will bounce it! So I quickly found a huge basket that I placed outside in the garage. ALL balls went into that basket and we became a "No Ball Zone"...

Anyway, Tyler is my third and youngest child. After two intense, high strung girls, this laid-back, gentle boy was a very welcomed change. His sisters adored him and he was the light of our little family.

When he was 20, I received the most devastating news of my life up to that point. My husband, his daughter and I were in Las Vegas for a family wedding. My phone rang and on the other end was my tearful little man informing me that he was in jail! In JAIL?? How could this be? He was my sweet little guy who had more compassion in his little finger than most people will ever have in their entire being.

Tyler had been busted for possession of 9 balloons of heroin and paraphernalia. ARE YOU SERIOUS?? I was in shock. We made the decision to NOT cut our trip short and to allow him to sit in jail over the weekend. This was NOT an easy decision for me, but I knew that I had to make it.

This is how I found out that my son was a full-blown heroin addict. I was devastated. Words cannot begin to explain the emotions that ran through my body that day. My heart was broken...

So I have decided to write a book about my experiences with him during this intense nightmare. I have entitled it, "Images of Broken Light"...I have a long way to go and it's a painful journey because I have to relive the intense moments that were all highly emotionally charged...maybe one day I will finish. I need to...for me!

Since that fateful day, Tyler (who's now 24) and I have been through Hell together. I've actually gone on 2 drug deals with him (I didn't realize until they were happening) and I even called the police each time. We shipped him up to Idaho to live with my daughter and her husband. He works for them and works hard. While up in Idaho, he's clean however, my daughter, Brittany and I have watched him detox. We saw him throw up the most disgusting green "swamp water" puke imaginable. We have had to sit on his arms and legs (at his request) to keep his flopping limbs from flailing out of control. We watched him scream and writhe in agony as his sweat drenched body was fighting this hideous addiction. I could go on and on and on and on with grim descriptions of what we witnessed as my sweet baby boy was literally fighting for his life.

That was then, this is now.

Tyler has been clean for 11 1/2 months...this time! (He has relapsed before after a year). He maintains that Heroin is not even a thought and if we do talk about it, he is disgusted and disappointed in his behavior while under the influence. BUT, I know how drug addicts are! I have heard this all before only to find him using once again!

I'm not a pessimist, I have become a REALIST...huge difference. Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of my son. He is a fighter and stronger than even he realized. But I have learned that he is vulnerable and always at risk for relapse. Now he's coming back to SLC (where he used)...

This is where prayer comes in. I have talked to him until I'm blue in the face about reconnecting with his spirituality. He knows it, he just hasn't taken that leap of faith yet. He knows that God loves him and that He understands what he is dealing with. He knows that only God can hold his hand through this journey and give him the strength to ultimately conquer this hideous demon...but he says he's not ready to turn his life over to Him...

Now as he is preparing to return to "ground zero" (Salt Lake) and I have to let go of my fears and hold on to my faith. I cannot control what happens to this boy. He is strong and says he has the resolve to never do drugs again. He has some great friends and I can only hope that he will hold on to their strength and examples and realize that ONLY through the Lord will he be able to remain clean and sober. It's a "long and winding road".

Faith has become such a dear friend to me! Now I have to once again rely on my faith and trust in a loving Father who wants what's best for this boy. I have to continue to pray vigilantly for him and stay close to him. I need to remember to share my testimony of the miracle of Jesus Christ and encourage him to dig deep into his soul and find the faith that I know he has.

Please know that if you are going through a similar situation, my heart goes out to you and I will gladly add my prayers and faith to yours...One prayer is powerful, many are more powerful. He's doing well for now...I will continue to remain postitive. When I can, I will post a bit of what I have written...Hopefully I will have a happy ending to my book!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sugar-Free Update

So I have been just 3 weeks Sugar Free. I'm not going to lie, it has been HARD!! Here's the deal...I have cheated! This has been about the hardest thing I have done.

The other day, one of my "littles" had a milkshake. It was chocolate, thick, creamy...I've had these shakes before and they are H.E.A.V.E.N...She was so sweet and offered me a bite. Hey, I didn't want to break a 3 year olds heart, so I oblilged. Then I took another one. And one more. That's it! Three little bites and then it hit...

I got a massive headache that lasted TWO DAYS! I tried to convince myself that the barometric pressure had dropped and that was the reason but there was one problem with that theory...the barometric pressure had actually risen that day. I knew. It was from the sugar!

The good news is that this indicates to me that my body has been cleansed and it is rejecting poison!

OK, that's not the only time I cheated, and yes, I got a headache each time. I did have one triumph! I came home from church last Sunday and was STARVING...I saw an ice cold 7-UP in the back refrigerator and it was screaming my name. I thought about it, I really did...just one little soda wouldn't hurt, BUT, I held on and I resisted...that was a good thing, I'm off soda and have not had even a sip of the bubbly since I started on this journey.

So there you have it. I am trying, I really am. I have a lot more empathy for people with really serious addictions...I mentioned to my son how difficult this has been at times and he said, "Mom, take that and multiply it by 1000...that's a herion addiction!"

That made me really think about how blessed I am that this is my challenge; not drugs or alcohol...It made me respect my sweet boy a bit more for his ability and tenacity work hard at conquering his hideous monster.

So there you have it! I am an addict and I relapsed! It's normal and a part of recovery, but I have new resolve and will keep working on this. I will prevail!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday; The Swint Family

Today I am SO thankful for FAMILY . I have been blessed with an amazing one and I am so grateful..
I have one sister and two brothers:

Mark is my oldest brother. Today is his birthday and he is 59! YIKES, I have an OLD brother! He is an airline pilot, a captain to be exact, with United Airlines and my entire life I knew that's what he would grow up to be! That's all he ever talked about as a kid. I am 5 years younger and have always looked up to him. He is BRILLIANT...a GENIUS and I'm not kidding. He has more useless knowledge in his head than anyone I know, but that's what makes him so interesting. He retains everything he reads. He is a published author, his book is called "Compare Isaiah" which I think is now available at Deseret Book. He also has another book in the works which will hopefully be published very soon. Mark is married to my wonderful sis-in-law, Peggy, and is the father of 4 incredible children. Not only is he brilliant, but he actually has a sharp wit and great sense of humor. He was greatly blessed with the gift of gab and generously shares that gift! Mark is creative beyond measure. He makes me laugh, he lifts me when I'm down and he is an example of strength and resiliency. Check out his websites and and AND and his blog WHEW!!

Carol is my baby sister. She is a nurse and is the kindest, sweetest woman I know! I know that she hates when I say that, but it's true. She is funny and really makes me laugh. Carol got married at such a young age to her husband, Jamie, and together they have 3 amazing children. She did lose a sweet little boy, Kevin, just one month after he was born but she handled that loss with grace and strength. Carol and Jamie have lived in many different places, including Holland, London, The Bay area of California, Memphis and currently live in Phoenix. She has become a world traveler of sorts. When I think of my sister, I think of goodness. She is just flat out GOOD! She is the type of woman who will drop anything for you because she cares more deeply than most people can even begin to imagine. Carol is amazing and even though she is 3 years younger than me, I have ALWAYS looked up to her as a role model!

Paul is my baby brother. Paul is tall, dark and VERY handsome! He is sweet, funny and very cool. As a little boy, Paul was precocious and daring. He was always in the hospital with some ridiculous injury from any one of his death-defying adventures. He has taken me on ski trails that, although they were very fun, they almost put me in a wheelchair...he skied them with ease and grace, I put on a yard sale! I always felt so protective of Paul. He didn't always make the best decisions and often put me in some precarious positions, but I love that he has always had a zest for life and seemed to always embrace the unknown. He is married to my adorable sis-in-law, Jayme and has 5 children. Paul and I were always so close. When we used to travel together, we used to pretend that we were flight attendants on a layover. He loves to ski, fish and ride dirt bikes. He's the consummate outdoors man and I adore him.

My mother and father are still alive. My dad has horrendous health but still has his mind and wit. He is strong and continues to give me great counsel and advice from the confines of his wheelchair. I love my dad and know that his days are numbered, but value each one that I am blessed with.

My mom is incredible. She is a go-getter to the max! At age 79 (in 3 days) she still plays the violin full-time in the Utah Symphony with no sign of slowing down. She is strong and loving. She is generous with sharing her gifts and talents and I so appreciate that in her. Her example of womanhood has been a standard in my life. People love her. She's a wonderful woman.

The family dynamic is crazy to me. We know everything about each other, our qualities and our faults yet we all love each other. I have come to learn that many families estrange themselves from each other when they have a disagreement rather than fight to work it out. They would rather spend months or even years not speaking just because they are too proud to say two precious little words, "I'm Sorry". That is tragic to me and actually pretty disgusting. Family should stick together no.matter.what because in the end, that's ALL we really have!

Fortunately that doesn't happen in my family. We are all SO different yet we generally get along very well. Sometimes we drive each other nuts and when that happens, we duke it out, apologize and FORGIVE. We are always there to support, encourage and bouy anyone who needs it. Although we are all geographically scattered, I know that I can always pick up the phone and any one of them will be there for me. I can truly count on all of them and for that, I am so blessed.

Thank you for letting me post about my family. I know that at age 53 I am so fortunate to even have them all living. I also know that time marches on and that any one of us can go at any time. But for now we are all just happy to be in this goofy family of ours!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now

Sometimes I wish there were big, magic glasses that we could put on so we could see clearly what the future holds for us!

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel so overwhelmed in the moment and forget to see beyond. I have the utmost respect for people who have unwavering faith, who live in truth and omit fear from their lives. I truly believe that "faith" and "fear" cannot occupy the same space, yet at times I allow fear to creep in and take over like a tidal wave...

My son's drug addiction has been THE most trying challenge I have ever faced. There were so many times that I wanted to just crawl in a hole and disappear, fade away, literally die. I couldn't see beyond the very second of the very moment I was living at any particular time. Fear overcame me and dominated my life. Functionality was close to impossible! Yet by enduring that seemingly impossible trial, my faith grew immensely and probably for the first time in my life, I understood the power of that word.

As I think about my opening sentence with regard to being able to see the future, I realize that the true blessings in life come because we DON'T always know the future, we can't see it and the only way we can come to know it is to experience all that we do in order to get to it! Make sense??

Had I known that my sweet boy would even for one moment be clean and sober, I probably would have relaxed and just let it happen...after all, I would know that he would survive and no work on my part would be required. The precious lessons learned by me would have fallen by the wayside and I would have been denied the opportunity to grow.

Tyler, by the way, is doing very well and has been clean, this time, for 11 months. His addictions have been recognized, many dealt with and some still haunt him. But the heroin addiction is at rest...I would love to say it has disappeared, but I live in reality and know that it will probably always be lurking in the shadows of his mind. It's a huge and ugly monster but hopefully, he will remember the skills he has learned and the pain he has endured and will have the resolve to love himself more than that hideous drug. But he is really NOT the focus of this post.

I love faith. I love that we are required to exercise it, on a daily basis. I love that true faith replaces fear.

"I am grateful for the trials I have not yet received" ~Hugh B. Brown

I wish I could fully embrace the above quote...I'm trying, I really am. I'm trying to have the vision and foresight to see that trials are for our good. I know this and I become grateful "after the fact" when all is well...but I haven't become grateful for the trials I have not yet received...not yet, but I'm a work in progress.

The person that I am today is the result of the sum of all of my experiences. The good have been great but the bad have made me stronger! Successes and failures make us whole and complete.

My goal today is to realize the blessings of challenges. Certainly I wouldn't trade the lessons learned from my son's drug years. I hated going through it and it almost killed me (literally), but what I have learned is priceless and my love for him has grown stronger than I could ever have imagined.

So what I have learned is that faith is like having a huge pair of glasses! When we eliminate our fear and rely on the Lord, trusting Him 100%, we see clearly what we need to do and are guided by the Spirit to make correct decisions. It's not an easy thing to do, but it is something that ultimately makes our life easier!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


One way to make something a habit is to do it consistently, never missing a day.

I try to post once a day, Monday through Friday...It has been an impossible day today, not bad, just EXTREMELY busy...

So in a desperate attempt to not break my streak, this is my Tuesday post.

I'll try to write a REAL post tomorrow, but for now....I'm on a roll!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time to Vent

I usually like to use my blog as a forum for meaningful, uplifting thoughts. But, hey, it's my blog and I need to vent...

I have one easy question for anyone who cares...How do I learn to say "NO" ?? It's just two little letters that have HUGE consequences and I have yet to master the ability to use them effectively.

I guess people figure that since I don't work outside of the home and just have oodles of spare time on my hands to share with them, that I will "jump" when they need something! If I don't have a job outside of my home, I must just sit around all day watching soap operas and eating chocolate covered strawberries (I'm just not that fond of bon bons!)...WRONG! I am seriously contemplating going back to work full time just so I can have some room to breathe!

Don't get me wrong, I have loved being home (for the most part) these past 5 years. I have been afforded opportunities that would have never come my way had I been flying the friendly skies as an indentured servant to Delta Air Lines...but, now it's OUT-OF-CONTROL!!

Every time I turn around, I find myself involved with something else that eats up my day. I love most of what I do...I absolutely adore the Swiss Days Committee, Swiss Miss Pageant, Midway Boosters and the time I have to take off with my daughters and grandchildren. But what I don't love is when people get offended when I turn them down because I "am busy" and then they demand to know what I am busy with! (guess they think I don't want to miss those "soaps" and strawberries) REALLY?? I now have to answer to people because they don't think I do anything??

Yesterday, I was released as Choir Director in my ward. A member of the bishopric and I spoke BEFORE Christmas about all that was going on in my life...Aja's situation with her impending pregnancy and her soon-to-be preemie baby, my mother having a stroke, my dad breaking his back etc...He suggested that I be released from that calling to which I said, "Great, that will help immensely". It only took 4 months, but hey, at least it's official less thing to worry about.

I have been SO busy helping Brad with new business ventures (stuff people don't have a clue about) and then trying to balance grandchildren, daughters, community involvements and church callings, I have felt like I am drowning and no one is on shore to throw me a life preserver!

So thanks for letting me vent! I will survive and I will be OK. Things will get better and I won't run away and hide. I know that it's better to stay busy because "idle hands are the devil's playground" or something like that!...But if you have any suggestions on how to say those two little letters, I'm all ears!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Open Hearts

“The heart that gives, gathers”…My friend offered a prayer at the beginning of a meal and these 5 words were offered in humble supplication.

I have given this humble statement much thought and pondered the meaning of its words. One of my favorite sayings and the saying that will be on our headstone is, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” They are similar in meaning so here are my thoughts:

1. Nothing in life is just handed to you. Kindness begets kindness.
2. When you give of yourself freely and without expectations, you are blessed beyond measure.
3. We cannot make it alone…everyone needs and deserves to be loved.
4. When we share, we receive.

I have been the recipient more times than the giver, I’m afraid. I have amazing people in my life from all walks of life and all places on the earth. From each and every one, I receive and become a better person for having known them. I am the woman I am today because of the influences of the people I love and who love me.

We are ALL connected. I believe that we are connected through a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally and expects us to “gather” our brothers and sisters here on earth. Who gives us the right to snub a total stranger just because he/she is someone we presently don’t know? Shouldn’t we be spreading kindness to all with whom we come in contact?

Several years ago, my dearest friend decided to change positions at her work. She went from being a Gate Agent to a Flight Attendant for the airline she worked for. She and I flew together to Las Vegas for the express purpose to say good-bye to her fellow employees before she started her new career venture. She printed up a heart-felt poem that encapsulated her feelings and carefully rolled it up and tied it with a lovely ribbon as a token of her love and appreciation for each person.

I figured we’d fly in, spend an hour and fly back…was I ever wrong! We arrived around 10:00 AM and didn’t leave until 4:00 PM. Not only did she give everyone a copy of the poem, she stopped to thank EVERYONE she saw whom she had any association with! Her appreciation was so heartwarming and sincere and the love that she exuded that day will live with me forever. My heart was touched.

Perhaps the most beautiful exchange I have ever seen between two people happened later that day. As we were heading to our gate to catch our flight, she stopped to speak with one of the janitors. He was a tired, broken down looking little man. He looked sad and downtrodden, unappreciated and almost embarrassed as he emptied one of the many trash cans in the concourse. I watched as she called him by name and tenderly took his two, filthy hands in hers and thanked him for the good job that he does every day in helping to keep her place of work clean and beautiful! She handed him a poem with a pretty ribbon. She went on to tell him that she will miss seeing his sweet smile everyday and that he lifted her each time she came to work. She expressed her love and concern for his family and asked God to bless them all.

Tears streamed down my face as I watched his tear-stained, worn and weary face and I saw a spark in his eyes that had been missing when I first laid eyes on him. He smiled, he listened, he cried and then they embraced. I will NEVER forget that moment in time when this beautiful woman stopped to just love this tired man. She validated him. She recognized his worth. She lifted him with Christ’s pure love and she changed his life! This man was her brother and she “gathered” him and welcomed him into her life.

Her heart gave and what it gathered was more precious than any of the world’s riches. I was filled and given the resolve to open my heart more and to give what I had. The lesson she taught me that day was more valuable than any college course I have ever taken. She blessed me with her example pure Christ-like Godly love that enriches our world. I will forever be grateful for her perfect example that day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday

As I was considering this post and what to blog about for Thankful Thursday, it was a No-Brainer. In light of the awful events in Chile recently, I just have to post about my gratitude for all of the COMFORTS I enjoy on a daily basis. I have been incredibly blessed throughout my entire life, never having wanted for food, clothing or shelter. I have always enjoyed a warm beautiful home and have always had plenty to eat, wear and enjoy.

We live in a society of plenty. Yes, we are in an economic slump and many are struggling, but do we really know the pangs of starvation, the fear of well-being or worry about where we will lay our head tonight? I know that I have NEVER experienced the agony of watching my family being destroyed by an earthquake or other natural disaster. I have always had enough and then some…

"If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues." ~Thomas S. Monson
I love the quote above. (It was taken from a talk he gave called “An Attitude of Gratitude”.) Why do we want for more? Why do we think that what we have been given is not enough? Why is it so easy for us to forget what we have and just be thankful? Do we feel a sense of entitlement? I have fallen into this trap on more than one occasion and am ashamed for the ingratitude that I have at times felt.

The people of Chile and Haiti, as well as many other places in the world have seemingly lost everything. But they will persevere and life will go on. They will be humbled and they will see that they are richer than many of us who have never suffered as they are now suffering. They will become stronger and their hearts will begin to heal. They will rebuild and feel the sunshine once again. But for now they have lost ALL of their “comforts”. I lost a wedding ring once and cried for was insured and was replaced, I found the lost ring one year later...I have lost other "items" that seemed so precious to me, again, I felt terrible, devestated at times and yes, shed a few tears here and there. But I have never lost a child or a parent or a sibling or even many extended family members.

I wonder what I would feel if I lost everything. Could I become bitter against God or would I become humble and remain thankful. It’s so easy to be grateful when all is well, but when it’s all gone, how would I feel?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One Step at a Time

For the past several months I have made a concerted effort to get healthier through better diet and exercise. I have made a pretty substantial dent in the diet end, cutting out sugars, most carbs and eating mostly organic and raw fruits and veggies with lots of seeds, nuts and healthy grains. I admit, I have felt better and had more energy and stamina.

As far as exercise, I was pretty discouraged when I started going to the gym and "suffered" through Yoga. That just shouldn't be! But I persevered and now love it so I moved up to cardio only to be frustrated when I could barely run a mile without supplemental oxygen!...again, I persevered and can now run as effectively as the 78 yr old man who uses the treadmill next to mine...It was a proud day!

I felt as though I needed to take it to the next level so yesterday I decided to join in on the Zumba class. (Zumba is high energy and basically Brazilian dancing). I was totally intimidated (with good reason) but saw 2 of my hubby's adorable cousins (who are respectively in their early 20's) and jumped right in...I thought I was going to DIE...No really...drop dead of a heart attack!

Again, I persevered as long as I could and made it but not without ridiculous humiliation. I was a complete and total SPAZZ...I was so focused on trying to get the steps and keep up that finally I left the middle of the pack and moved to the back of the room where a few of us "more mature" ladies were.Good move on my part! The lady next to me was just as clueless as I was and we ended up laughing together as we huffed and puffed our way through the class. We ran into each other, which by that point was OK and in some odd way that comforted us as we struggled to keep our dignity!I felt so disappointed in myself when I got home, because I had such a hard time because once upon a time I was in such good shape. I beat myself up.

But I have realized that Zumba, like everything else in life, needs to be taken! Nobody in that class had time to even pay attention to me or worry about what I was doing...they were all just taking their one-at-a-time-steps. They were just keeping up, some better than others, but still the same, they were just keeping up!

I guess that's exactly how life is. You just take one step at a time and sometimes you feel like you're going to die. Sometimes we need supplemental oxygen. Perseverance is the key...hang in there...keep trying...It will all be worth least that's what I keep telling myself. Sometimes we are just "keeping up" one step at a time...and that's OK.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Generous Thoughts

Many years ago, I was working in the reservations department at Delta Air Lines. Even though we were a non-public department, we still had to dress up each day for work. Many people complained about this. I didn't mind, after all, I had 3 little kids and kind of enjoyed the opportunity to wear something other than sweats all day!

Anyway, it was generally very busy with calls coming in one right after the other with very little time to breathe in between. But one particular day, it was slow. I finished my call and it went silent. Before I knew it, the girl next to me, who was very attractive and whom I did not know, leaned over and said to me, "You are just the cutest thing!...I just had to tell you that".

I was SHOCKED! I was in my early 30's and used to hearing catty women gossip about other women and compliments were just not something I ever received. She made my day and it was one of the best days I had at work! I was more productive, I smiled when I spoke and I felt lifted up. Needless to say, this girl and I became good friends and have had a long-standing friendship ever since...that was 22 years ago.

Although it was very kind of her to say what she did, the real kindness she gave me was a very important lesson. She taught me that not only is it nice to compliment people, it's important.

A wonderful woman once said, "Never suppress a generous thought." ~Camilla Kimball

So I worked on that and at first was a bit self-conscious. I worried what people's reactions would be. Would they think that I was sincere? I can honestly say that every single compliment I have given since has been well received. I have thanked the baggers at the grocery store for working so hard and doing a great job only to be rewarded with a kind smile, knowing that someone appreciates their efforts. I have seen young girls beam when I tell them how beautiful their eyes are and even seen cute young waiters blush when I tell them they're a "total hottie " (boy do I get great service when I tell them that!)

Our world has become so negative and people have become so into their own busy lives that I think complimenting has become a thing of the past. Self-esteem is at an all time low. Our economy is tanking and people are stressed...think of how a sincere compliment can lift them...something as simple as,"I LOVE your shoes!!" (women love that one!)

When I pay a sincere compliment (and that's the only kind I give, by the way) I feel better too...How many times have you thought something nice but held it in? If I think it, I share it. If I hold it in, it becomes a wasted does wonders to share it.

We're all in this life together. We all have trials, challenges, heart-aches and sadness. Try it. Go out and look for kind things to say to people...share a compliment with a total stranger and you'll be amazed at what you see!

Monday, March 1, 2010

One Week Sugar-Free

I made it! If there was a chip like the ones they give out in AA, I would get one! I have made it one whole week with NO SUGAR. This is huge! I have spent the majority of my life addicted to the sweet stuff and didn’t even realize it until a couple of years ago when I started to put on a bit of weight and my energy levels went way down. Even though I have known for some time now that I needed to rid myself of this alluring addiction, I never could muster the strength to actually do something about it…until now.
Granted one week may not seem like a long time worthy of any type of recognition, but considering the severity of my addiction, I am giving myself one big pat on the back. I have survived, and survived well these past seven days. Aside from a few minor headaches, I have enjoyed more energy, less sluggishness and an overall general feeling of accomplishment.
For most of my life I have never liked chocolate. I mean, I could eat a small piece of chocolate candy, enjoy a “fresh out of the oven” brownie or a creamy bowl of chocolate ice cream, but to eat an entire candy bar used to be an impossible fete for me…then I met some wonderful people who owned a chocolate shop…and it was over…they introduced me to the delicious, delectable and diabolically sinful confection. For awhile it was fine, but it wasn’t long before I began to notice that my size 2’s became 4’s which then turned into 6’s. So I decided that the insanity had to stop and I tried and tried only to realize failure at every turn.

So, how did I do it? Water and lots of it! I gave up soda completely and have been drinking only water…about 100 ounces a day to be exact…I will admit that the first week, I cheated (and I felt guilty)! I caved and gave into to my cravings, but for the last 7 days, I have been faithful and have experienced NO cravings at all! I also have lots of fresh fruit on hand; mainly fuji apples, as well as fresh veggies, nuts and I have upped my grains. If I need to sweeten anything I now use Agave, Real Maple Syrup or Honey. I also went through my house (yes, I had it hidden) and tossed it all! Hundreds of dollars (OK, maybe not hundreds...) of sweets and treats in the dumpster…Better to go to waste in the trash than on my body, right?!

So there you have it. I admit it; I am an addict. But now I know what to do and how to do it. It’s only been a week, but I will keep making a concerted effort to purge my body of this poison that has been coursing through my veins for more than half a century. I look forward to an increase in stamina and better health and wellness. Wish me luck;)