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Archive for February, 2014

I’m stealing this from another post floating around Facebook that I can’t find anymore to give it credit. I loved the basis for the article and the content wasn’t necessarily wrong — it just was different from my experiences and I want something a little more personal. 


Music heals the soul. Music can reach deep enough that words alone can’t go. Into the depth of your soul where it is hard to let anything in. Let it move you, strengthen you, make you smile. 

I have minimal musical talent. I can’t even play chopsticks on the piano, couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if my life depended on it. I have no sense of rhythm and can’t even dance (I love to try, I’m just prepared to laugh at myself).  I love music though, I even enjoy watching people who enjoy sharing their talent. My musical talent is letting music into my soul. I have a playlist for when I’m not certain I can even get up out of bed because everything seems so impossible. The opening chords to the first song start to lift my spirits before and words are even spoken. 

Listen to your body. There is only so much stress and Hard Things your body can handle before it starts struggling. A vague stomach ache, shingles, immune system not being up to par. Listen before it gets to that point because shingles seriously suck, help nothing and just make everything more miserable.

Want to know how to listen?  That is harder for to describe but find a quiet place, I prefer on a grassy hill in the sunshine but it is February in Utah so I take what’s available and comfortable. I clear my mind (this part took a lot of practice and still can take sometime) and pay attention to what I’m feeling. Is the grass tickling to my legs?  There’s a smooth rock under my shoulder, the sun is warm on my face, my neck is tense, I can smell spring flowers (or maybe the stink from the trash truck is blowing towards you).  When I first started I’d run through all the senses systematically and it helped teach me. My body knows before I do when I’m not doing okay, but sometimes it has to yell at me because I forget to take the time to listen.
Also, be good to your body. Eat well, exercise a little everyday (walking is my choice), get enough sleep, if your physician has prescribed meds take them.  You want your body on your side while tackling whatever Hard Thing you are battling now or may lie ahead.


Faith.  “If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble.” Henry B. Eyring


The morning after the most difficult night of my life I felt as if nothing around me were true.  All the facts I’d learned in school.  Yes, the sky is still blue.  The floor is still under me so gravity must work.  I went through in the quiet before the kids woke reorienting myself to my life.  I can’t say I awoke because I didn’t sleep but when I was pulled out of my daze by a phone call checking on me the only thing I knew is that Christ still loved me.  Knowledge was temporarily lost, but faith sung about in Primary rooms every Sunday was with me.  I believe my faith in Christ’s love for me was stronger that morning than it ever was before or since.

I’ve since come to learn that faith isn’t just a passive emotion or concept described by philosophers and religions but it is an action word.  My faith isn’t something that I can describe to others how I feel but something I show by my actions.  It doesn’t take large amounts of faith to begin, just the “particle of faith” spoken of in Alma.  My faith isn’t what I believe in, it is who I am.

Above is a description of my faith and what pulled me through my darkest days one hour at a time, everyone’s faith is going to be stronger in different areas or different doctrine completely and that’s okay.  Faith can be character strengthening.

Discover your friends.  I’ve not found anything that clarifies a friendship as much as a difficult trial and ongoing struggles. 

I’ve redefined friends in my mind, only distinguished by punctuation or mental notes.  There are “friends” which wouldn’t be inappropriate to use air quotes around with the exception of it isn’t kind.  These are the people that I’m friendly with whether out of obligation of work, location, kids in the same activities etc.  They seem to come and go with staffing changes, seasonal activities ending, or moving much like a dandelion gone to seed in the wind. I know I listed coworkers here so I feel I should note that currently my coworkers aren’t just “friends”  Working in a small department in a small hospital you can form unique bonds over generally unpleasant tasks.  I have worked places where my coworkers were “friends” but not now — perhaps I need to come up with a difference for my current work buddies. Then there are friends.  Webster dictionary type friends who you hang out with, have interests in common, share activities etc.  You enjoy each others company and get along well.  The discovery part comes when you realize you need friends.  You may or may not do many social things with friends but without a doubt you know they are there when you need them.  Then you realize that they’re there when you didn’t realize you need them — they know you so well that they knew what you needed before you did.  You don’t care if they see you when your dishes are undone or you’ve just rolled out of bed.  Friends are willing to get down in the muck of hard things are help you through.  I think of mine as angels walking around disguised as humans and I count them among my most valued treasures.

Somewhere in a journal I have a list of other things, but as I sit here unable to sleep and thinking back over this past week I wouldn’t wish my pile of hard things on anyone, but if it was what was required for me to learn and to trust in others again I’ll pick up my pile of Hard Things and keep stumbling forward.  If there was a way to do it and protect those I love most in my life I’d be even happier.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to wrap up my knowledge learned the hard way in a package and gift it to them.  This moment of peace and clarity has let me look back and see how I’ve not only discovered my “friends,” friends, and friends I have discovered myself along the way too.  I’d say I’ll come back and edit in the rest of my list but you and I both know I’ve not yet done that to any post I’ve said I will.  So, I’d like to but I’m not making any promises right now that I don’t intend to keep.
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…you don’t know

Forget phototherapy, it’s meme therapy week apparently. In a few weeks I will be a place that always feels like my parenting is being judged. Parent Teacher Conferences. At my best getting the kids organized and on task and turning in the assignments we struggled to complete is nearly impossible. Things are far from best right now and there are 100 “little things” I could do more each day that someone else is certain will make a huge difference in kids’ lives. I could model better housekeeping skills, we could recite math facts while cheerfully making complex recipes that require three pots to simultaneously be stirred constantly. We should have ate more veggies today, drank more water, walked to school and choir instead of driving. Let’s not forget patiently waiting around the High School to be present for both solo & ensemble performances.  Oh, the dress for the performances?  I made sure to buy one that didn’t need to be ironed or it would always be wrinkly. 
Yes there are things I wish I was better at, but feeling like February and March I’m just this side of falling completely apart I’m prioritizing.  My kids go to bed knowing they are loved and that I will move heaven and earth for them if needed.  I would gladly go through all of their hard things for them if I could, it’s so much harder being a bystander, cheerleader, and shoulder to cry on. There are no more scrapped knees I can kiss better–and it does nothing for terrifying stage fright in my flute player. The best I could do is get new tights, and that does nothing for stage fright either. I can love them until my chest literally aches (yes, really) but they each have to walk down their rough road themselves. 
So, for parent teacher conference I wish I could print that off, hand it to the teacher (who is wonderful, we love her) and walk away because these meetings always feel like it comes back to a statement about my parenting and I already know I’m not doing enough.  Ever.  It’s okay though, I have 2 weeks to fret about it. 

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Strength.

I have seen and heard similar sentiments to this lately in many places. Tonight as I came across this one my thoughts said “but I don’t want to be stronger” mostly rooted in the fact that my current trials aren’t mine as much as they are watching and helping those I love the most in this world go through things much harder and definitely more unfair than anyone should have to go through.   The trial being easier means it would be easier for them. 
I’ve been thinking about Gethsemane frequently unable to comprehend the magnitude of what happened there, this passage specifically. 
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
 (Luke 22:42-43)
Somehow I doubt there was as much foot dragging and reluctant “I guess if I have to” as I’ve done lately. When I compare trials to things I’ve experienced I think of my freshman year of volleyball. I decided to try out at the last minute, having no clue what the first weeks of conditioning would be like and after the second day I laid on the front lawn knowing I wouldn’t quit, quitting just isn’t me, but if I was cut from the team I’d be okay with that. I could barely walk that weekend, but I grew stronger, more endurance, and greater jumping strength. I never was even slightly fond of ladders but I got better there too. At the end of season a conditioning workout was significantly harder than those first days in the gym but I enjoyed them, mostly, and I never again wondered if walking without pain was possible. I could do hard things, and grow stronger from them. 
As much as I don’t want to admit it, the same applies here so I will lace up my sneakers, drink extra water, and start jogging some laps. 

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Missed me?

I haven’t been gone so much as trying to sort things out in my mind, understand topics that are kind of fuzzy and floating around that make me want to stomp my feet and say “but HOW!”  So I made a run to Deseret Book, picked up a few carefully selected titles — as well as a few that were on sale since it was double point day and have been reading, pondering, journaling instead of blogging, lots of time spent outside on the swing.

Maybe when my composition notebook is full I can clean it up, edit it down a little (lot) and share — I’m not certain yet which is why I’ve been journaling.  I’m not certain what should be shared and what not, at least not just yet.
While on a Saturday Adventure today my mind wandered to the old metaphor of life being like a road.  Heading up the canyon we saw lots of warning signs.  Road closed from Cedar Breaks to Brian Head, big trucks use alternative route, slow down twists and turns up ahead as well as steep climbs.  I wondered how many caution signs I’ve ignored in my life getting caught going too fast around a turn or running into a bunch of pot holes because I was too distracted by life to see the “rough road ahead” sign.  How much easier would my times of trial be if I’d been paying attention?  Sometimes though, landslides come out of nowhere with no warning or notice.  I think I’ve had a few landslides in my life too, left upside down in the canyon trying to figure out which way is up.
For a while I looked at life as a destination, not a journey always thinking the straight route between here and there has to be best, right?  A nice straight highway?  Turns out that the journey is more important than the destination and sometimes the best way goes along an old dirt road.

 Sometimes that “dirt road” is the kind of deer hunting trails where the road is the place with the shortest sagebrush with Grandma pumping an imaginary brake in the passenger seat while saying “honey…”  The end of those trips typically ended with beautiful views, good memories, and treats out of the wooden grub box.  The journey just as memorable as the destination and no asphalt or dotted lines to be found, speed wasn’t as important as the view or time spent with family.

When you finally end up on the road you are certain is the right one, past the cattle guards, railroad tracks, mystery stink, and pot holes it turns out the road you are on is ending and you are left having to choose which way you should go.  The road wasn’t suppose to end, and technically you could try to go over the sign and through the fence to continue the direction you thought you needed to be going but everyone can see that isn’t a good idea.  Just takes a while to accept sometimes.

I don’t know that I’ve ever made a post this vague or rambling, but it’s late and I’ve had a long day.  My shoes are still dusty from the dirt road and running through the sage brush.

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Dear Sweet Bonnie

For a week I’ve been thinking about Bonnie from many directions and knowing I wanted to write this post but not sure how to find the words to express my love and admiration.  Today was her funeral and it still seems a bit surreal, part of me still doesn’t believe she’s gone.  Here is my attempt, hoping that writing this post makes everything feel a little more real instead of like a nightmare I keep expecting to wake up from.

I trusted Bonnie completely.  Sitting in her car I’ve told her things very few others know.  She’s heard my insecurities, my fears, my failings, my struggles and each time been able to lift me up.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter how rotten things seemed Bonnie’s smile would bring some light into my world and leave me refreshed and ready to go forward even just one more day.  She had a way about her that made everyone feel special, cared for, and loved.  Her eyes always sparkled, full of love for those around her and she absolutely glowed when she’d tell stories about her family.  As they walked into the chapel today I could tell who some of them were that I’ve never met from the stories she’s told me.  Bonnie didn’t just love her family though, she loved everyone and showed that love through friendship and service.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some great visiting teachers, but I never felt like I was that visiting teacher that made much of a difference until I went with Bonnie.  Visiting Teaching wasn’t just a monthly chore, it was a calling she took very serious.  I visited her in the hospital over a year ago and she was so worried about Visiting Teaching.  She’d missed one of our ladies before she left town for the month, had only talked to another one twice, and was worried that we’d missed an appointment with someone new who was assigned to us.  It was still the middle of the month.  She didn’t just visit and take a message around she loved, cared for, and worried about the families we were assigned to go see.  I know my crazy schedule made it harder for her, but I am so grateful that she took the time to show me how to be a Visiting Teacher, not just do your visiting teaching.  As she wasn’t able to leave her house she still spent time worrying about and loving others.  ‘

I called to check on her one day and no sooner had I said “Hi, Bonnie it’s Heather” than she was checking on me.  How are the kids doing?  She’s been worrying about us after all.  Then came what I think is a classic Bonnie conversation.  I had some rolls baking and wanted to bring some by.  I knew she wasn’t eating, but certainly something as simple as a plate of rolls could help her family out at least a little.  She wanted none of that.  I had too much going on, too much to worry about, too busy with the kids to bother making rolls for her.  Really, I don’t know if she doesn’t realize what she’s taught me or what, but getting Bonnie to be on the receiving end of even simple acts of service wasn’t easy.  I pulled out what I thought my trump card would be.  “Bonnie, remember how I told you the last time I saw the Bishop he counseled me to find ways to serve others?  Are you denying me an opportunity to follow Bishop’s counsel by not letting me bring rolls by?”  I thought I had a valid point that she’d agree to, but I was wrong.  Certainly there is someone else who could benefit from the rolls isn’t there?  Someone new in the neighborhood?  Someone else somewhere?  Some point in the conversation she agreed to let me bring the rolls, but just a few — Craig doesn’t eat much you know.  I sat down in Bonnie’s front room and visited with her, second to the last time, and I think I left part of me there that visit next to her fireplace.  We couldn’t talk about how she was doing, she needed updates on the kids and listened to stories she had missed out on.  Shared with me her concerns and worries — not about her, but about the ladies we go Visiting Teaching to because Mary really needs a visit leaving out the part where she called her frequently to check on her hoping for some opportunity to do some service, even as weak as she was.  She talked about our first Sunday in the ward and how Charlet walking into the Primary room looking for the Sunbeams made her day because of Charlet’s smile and beautiful eyes and how much she loved my kids.  I stopped by one more time after that, Kaede had heard me wonder out loud if Bonnie would be able to drink some Ensure and Kaede was determined to take her some for Christmas.  After a brief visit and a quick hug I knew that was going to be goodbye.  I didn’t know if I’d be blessed to see her again or not, but there was a change that visit — one I recognized from my years working 3 West — a greater peace, calm and a house overfilling with love.

This past week in the midst of long difficult days, feeling guilty for neglecting home life, and not being able to see an end to anything I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call Bonnie to check on her, knowing full well that when I checked on Bonnie it was the other way around.  She made me believe in myself, gave me strength and courage, and has celebrated with me.  I am better because of Bonnie and selfishly I can’t imagine how life is going to be without her phone calls and support.  I told our Relief Society president that yes I’d like a new partner, but going out in February isn’t going to be the same at all.   She will be missed.  I love you Bonnie, thank you for your years of friendship and support.  I don’t know if you ever really knew how much of an impact you had on my life.

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