Showing posts with label gratitude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gratitude. Show all posts

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Part of the Elite

            During my entire lifetme, I don't recall having been invited into someone's circle to hang out because they really wanted me to.  Oh, there was the time when Crystal and Jennifer had invited me to hang out after elementary school - and seemed genuine about their request.  I couldn't imagine why they would invite me. But it was just the one time.  It never went anywhere.

       For the first time that I can recall, I am now a part of a intimate circle of four.  They have requested my presence.  They would invite me even before they got to know Jenna - whom everybody loves.  They admire her.  She's fun and somehow I seemed to have made that reputation for myself  - that I, too, am fun to hang with.

       Perhaps it's the state.  I was raised in Utah - small town that somehow grew bigger with every passing year.  When my mom had first moved to the neighborhood, she felt as though she were living in "no man's land" because it felt so barren.  Well, yes.  She was raised in San Francisco.  I'm sure the entire Salt Lake county seems dense compared to San Francisco.

       I remember having to be driven everywhere when I younger.  There was a gas station over on the next street over, but he did not offer a convenient store of any kind.  There was a 7-11 on the other side of State Street that we would sometimes walk to.  Traffic wasn't near as heavy as what it is now.  I shake my head at the very idea that we had crossed the street so often.  Perhaps mom wasn't aware.
      After a while buildings started to spring up.  We had over 40 fast food places within walking distance before I got married.  I don't know when it was that I became so uptight and unhappy - but I think it was rather early in my life.  I loved my family, but I didn't love the congestion.  The older I got, the more uptight I became - though I would try to work on it.  Overall, I probably was not the most pleasant person to be around.  Perhaps that's why no one ever offered for me to join their circle.

       I'm 56 now and this is the first time I can remember being part of a group (outside of church activities or going out for lunch with a few co-workers).  We meet at a local coffee house just to hang out and visit. I usually have water or day-old pastry if available.  The other day our small group car pooled to Winston right after class.  I had collected change from the piggy banks in order to make my Taco Tuesday purchase - only Taco Tuesday prices don't start until 4:00.  It was only 11:00.  I was hungry but strapped as usual.  One of the group members picked up my tab. They want me there enough that they will pay for me.  I've never had that before.

      One time we were invited to an expensive dinner and have a charity dinner coming up.  I have also invited the three of them to watch the dress rehearsal coming up for Jenna and Roland. It feels great to be included and to feel such genuine friendships that I have never experienced before.  It takes some getting used to.   

      Perhaps there are several others who may not classify our group as elite.  At least three of us felt like outcasts during our school years.  Perhaps we all feel that sometimes now.  We support one another in ways that perhaps we hadn't known before.  I like hanging with my small group of friends.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Third Day of Christmas

        My brother had posted the above photo to facebook earlier this month and I thought it I would try doing these myself.  Day Three says to have lunch with someone you admire or run into today.  The chances of me "running into" anyone other than Roland would be slim - though he is someone I do admire.  I suppose I could have just had lunch with him but I actually chose another to come have lunch with me. 

        Aurelia lives  45 minutes away and I said that we could meet halfway - though I'm really not familiar with what eating places are offered half way.  It turns out that she had two appointments in Myrtle Creek and so had planned on being in town anyway.  Gosh, what gratitude she expressed for my rather simple meal.  Well, actually not the meal itself, but the incentive I had taken just to invite her.  I am grateful that I had as we both benefited in a largely positive way.

        Today I will remove three negatives from my life (I am hoping this will be a permanent good riddens) Roland and Jenna have both started Christmas vacation as of last night.  Today is technically the last day of school for this year but I've turned in all of my assignments and so forth for this week.  Because we're all on vacation (even though we won't be going anywhere) I probably won't be posting to my blog again until after Christmas - though I may try.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where Is Our Focus?

            The RS presidency was in charge of the activity.  The theme was on gratitude.  I didn't raise my hand when our president asked for volunteers.  I was helping another sister sort toiletries that we had collected to put in bags to send to the women's shelter.  I don't know how many volunteers she ended up with, but her demonstration didn't actually go as well as she had hoped.

            To each sister (and the two Elder missionaries who happened to be there) she gave each a small rock and a candy kiss.  She told each to put the rock in her (or his) shoe and walk around, but to please enjoy the candy.  The idea was "to enjoy the candy so much that you didn't think about the rock in your shoe."  I'm afraid I would have focused on the rock more than the candy.

            The idea was to be grateful for the good.  But I suppose we can be grateful for painful things as well.  As I heard another sister speak on gratitude, I felt impressed to share this post.  Perhaps I should have just allowed the sisters to visit with one another, but chose to stand and relate a bit about Corrie ten Boom's biography and the encounter with the fleas.

            I try to be grateful for things and focus on the things I have rather than the things that I don't.  I'm pleased to know that many of my posts express some form of gratitude. My I always be grateful and not get upset.  Something to work on still.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Instead of Complaining About What is Wrong, Be Grateful for What is Right!

Recently my brother Corey experienced a problem with his car.  Instead of complaining about it, he wrote a list of  things that he was grateful for about his situation.  He posted his list to facebook.  I tried sharing his post with my friends – though I think the only ones who might actually have an opportunity to view it are those that Corey is friends with already.  I just really like the attitude he has incorporated into his life.

He was grateful that his car had died in the parking lot and not on the crowded streets of Las Vegas.

He was grateful that the break down didn’t happen on the way to taking Joh or himself to work.
He was grateful to get roadside assistance through his insurance.

He was grateful that the weather was not typical of this time of year, but much cooler to wait in than the normal July heat.

Neither he nor Joh were on a schedule in which they had to be somewhere at a certain time.

Roadside assistance arrived within an hour, and because no one was parked next to him, made it easier for the technician to get to his car.

The car started!

The problem is no more serious than a bad battery cell.

Corey and Joh were able to finish whatever errands they had started as Joh’s car was working.

Coery was able to get his car into his auto dealership and drive it home the very next day.
Coery leaned that his warranty was only 300 miles away from expiring and did not have to pay for his battery’s replacement.

The dealership washed his car for free.

Moral: Even when bad, inconvenient, annoying things happen, there is still so much to be grateful for.

I try to apply this attitude to my own life because complaining does not solve a problem.  Hearing others complain has dampened my spirit – and yet I know I have been the complainer.  I have tried to do better and look at the bright side of whatever situation may come my way that I may make a list of things to be grateful for in a similar situation.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The best day, worst day and longest day scenario

         My brother-in-law’s sister had returned home from a lesson on perspective (I think) and posted a thought about her best and worst Christmas – both which had taken place in 2005. It was a great thought, and I asked permission to share it on my blog.  She said that her understanding was that it was up for Church publication and it would be best if I did not share.  I figured when it was published in Ensign magazine, I could refer to the link.  But I don’t see any evidence of publication thus far.

         I saved a copy to my own personal files, but seem to have misplaced the ubs or it somehow got deleted or something.  I’ll find it eventually.  Meanwhile I have my own thoughts about one of the longest days of my life (starting out with a trip to the Medford Temple and ending with waiting for Greyhound)

         June 5, 2015.  What a day.  Denise and I had actually left the motel room early because she had wanted to go through the Medford Temple.  It was her main insentive for having had driven the much shorter but scarier route.  She had gone online to learn how late the temple would be open on Thursday night.  She failed to look at the hours of operation on Friday.  It was closed.  The gates were locked.  We had driven all that way and couldn’t get inside.  The temple in Medford doesn’t open until 3:00 p.m.  That seemed like the latest time that Denise would have had to leave Roseburg and be on her way to Newport. We had missed going inside.

         I had had a rental car lined up, but had cancelled believing Roland’s understanding of having someone physically take me to the address.  My main reason for being in Oregon was to secure a rental that was waiting for us outside Roseburg.  I had called the property management several times to let them know I was coming.  I was hoping that Denise would be able to drop me off at the rental and I would be able to get a ride back to Century 21 to sign the papers. 

         They didn’t get any of my messages.  We weren’t communicating at all.  I would still have to have a rental car.  What was I thinking?  I called a car rental in Medford, but they did not have anything.  They referred me to their location in Roseburg.  I thought I was all set until they called me back asking for either a major (non-debit) card and/or an Oregon driver’s license – neither of which I had.  So they had to cancel my reservation.  So I called the agency I had initially booked with.  They couldn’t find a car for me until 7:30 that night.  Property management would have been closed by then.  And it didn’t give me enough hours of sunlight that it was worth renting a car for. I can’t drive in the dark.  I decided that I would just take a bus home (originally I had wanted the plane – but the bus was a third of the cost – plus I didn’t have a way to the airport)

         Payments had to be in form of Money Order or a Courtsey check from the bank.  Oh, great.  I have two checks from a credit union that have branches in Utah and Nevada – not in Oregon.  I was frantic.  I did have a bank account number that Corey had given me.  There was a branch not far from Century 21 that I went to – but I had to open my own account and ask Corey to work with me from Las Vegas.

         The procedure seemed long.  I had a deadline for getting back to Century 21 and barely made it.  The girl who assisted acted like she had been put out.  Really?  What about me?  I had traveled three days to get there.  And then they wouldn’t accept my check.  I had to open an account.  It had been very painful.  And the day was not close to over.  Little did I know that I wouldn’t be leaving Roseburg until 2:30 the following morning!

         The location of the bus pick/up had changed.  We drove around the same street three times before Denise pulled over and I went into a sevice station to ask.  Denise hated the GPS and Siri and will probably never use again.

         She pulled up to a service station and had me go inside to make certain I’d really be able to purchase a bus ticket.  If you read my earlier post, you may recall that the bus was scheduled to come at 5:58 – but I had been told that it would be running late.  I did not share that information with Denise or Roland however as I did not want them to worry. 

         As the sun was setting, I started crying, knowing (or thinking) that Denise was still on the road and has bad night vision like I do.  I spent the last 6 hours of the fifth at the service station waiting for the bus.
         As long and horrible as I believed the day had been, there was so much that I needed to feel grateful for:

A kind sister (who was planting flowers near the gate) opened the gate to let us inside and Denise took several pictures and the sister took pictures of Denise and I sitting in front of the temple. 

Denise stayed with me.  She sacrificed several hours of being on the road.  She drove me to Roseburg to get the key and then to back to Mayberry to look at the house – which really is a nice house by the way.

Denise drove me to the bank. She waited for me for over an hour (that is what it felt like anyway) and Corey waited in line in Las Vegas to assist me with my problem.  And it worked.  We had cut it very close bringing me back to Century 21 to sign papers. 

Denise waited for me.  I had called a cab so that she could be one her way. But she chose to stay with me and take me to the bus stop.  She did not get back on the road until after 5:00.  Heavenly Father blessed me big time through both Denise and Corey.

Though the bus had been late, I did not have to wait for it alone.  Jake kept me company for the first five hours – one hour after the station was closed. I also had the protection of Heavenly Father and a good book to read.

After an 8 ½ hour wait, I hadn’t missed the bus due to falling asleep or waiting on the wrong side of the building.  I was safe.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alley’s Mom

Her name is Maria Garcia.  Her son attends the junior high that I have passed each day since enrolling Jenna into a dual immersion program.  Juan had taken the bus to school each morning – for a while anyway.  Maria started driving him to school when the weather turned cold and the bus rides were even longer.  Jenna and I also took the bus.

About mid-December, Maria offered to drive us as well.  I thought that would end as the weather conditions got better – which they have.  We’ve had signs of spring at the end of February (I don’t recall EVER having spring so early before; seems so unfair when the nation’s capitol had to shut down due to the storms of winter.  Ouch!)

Maria continues to drive us.  She won’t accept payment for gas.  It’s really not that much.  But still, not much each day and week and month add up.  And I’m not spending money on bus passes anymore and so I have offered. 

The bus has never pulled into the school parking lot to let Jenna out; there has always been a good walk between the bus stop and the school – and then I’ve had to make the trip back but be home by 8:30 – usually.  Now I get back home at 8:00


 I have been more grateful some days more than others.  For the week of the sinus infection I was the most grateful.  And yesterday was wet and cold.  But today seemed rather nice.  I think we could start taking the bus again.  I’m not complaining.  Hey, if Maria wants to continue driving us, I’m okay with it.  And Jenna has been, too, actually.  Though I’m certain that will change once it warms up.

Thank you, Maria, for your willingness and gracious desire.  I truly appreciate it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

I’m Grateful for Diversity

In addition to celebrating the nations birthday in July, Utah also celebrates its roots with “Pioneer Day” or “the Days of ‘47”   On the 24th of July Salt Lake holds its annual two hour parade in addition to the youth parade that takes place the week prior. 

“The Days of ’47” parade is well attended.  There’s several people who will actually camp overnight in order to get the perfect parade watching spots.  I happen to believe that all of these people are crazy – yet at the same time I admire their enthusiasm.  The parade is truly an awesome moment for them and I’m grateful for the enthusiasm.  I really am.  I’m also grateful that the parade is televised and I am able to watch it in my air conditioned home. 

I am not a parade person – actually I am not a crowd person.  I could handle the parade in Afton, Wyoming just fine.  I don’t think the entire population of their small town matches the tremendous amount of people flooding the downtown streets of Salt Lake on the 24th.  I am actually a lot more comfortable with the peon parades that are less than an hour than with a band, another float, another horse, another . . .

But I’m not opposed to a two – three hour parade.  I just choose not to sit through it.  Especially in the blaring sun.  But that’s me.  That’s MY personality.  My sister-in-law, Sunny may have been one of those who camped out.  She LOVED the parade – probably still does – though I don’t think she gets downtown as often as she did when she was single.  My brother Patrick is less thrilled with the whole parade idea than I am – or at least he used to be.

I’m grateful for the diversity that makes us individuals. 

There is no paid ministry within the LDS Church.  Those who teach lessons or give talks are our peers from the same congregation.  We don’t sit in a meeting listening to the same speaker week after week.  There are a variety of speakers asked to speak on certain topics – often the same topic as the other assigned speakers.  And while Joe may speak with vigor and vibrancy, Eric’s talk may be more subtle – or he may just read with no eye contact whatsoever.  And maybe Eric is the only one who will actually get something out of his talk.  But Eric has reached someone that perhaps Joe cannot.

Veronica may type all the quotes from her lesson to pass out to class members to guarantee participation while Dorothy just stumbles through her lesson and gets nervous about the amount of participation.  Jade may do her lesson completely different from the other two and belt out the lesson without the microphone but have most of the sisters willing to eat her words.

I remember two neighbors who had come to visit my mom once a month.  Jody was by the book: “this is the lesson, this is the outline, and this is the message that God wants us to learn.”  Peggy seemed to “scan” the book.  She would give her one or two line lesson from the title.  Oh, she’d elaborate if more was wanted or needed – but her theory was: “you’ve had this lesson, you’ve given this lesson, and you know this lesson.  Here is a quick reminder”

It’s a good thing really.  Not everybody relates to all people.  Not everybody absorbs the message the first time or the second time.  Perhaps not even the fifth time.  And then there’s those of us who may think, “Yea, yea.  I ‘vet heard this message over a thousand times.  I’ve got it.” But do we really have one’s perspective or “take” on it?  And sometimes there are individuals that will say the words that we’ve already heard, but suddenly it takes on new meaning.  It suddenly makes more sense.  We may experience an “aha” moment – and it’s not because the message itself or even the words are new.  It has been presented in a different light.  A situation was given in which we can identify or appreciate. 

I remember my own mother practicing her lessons over and over again.  There are many times I know she felt inadequate about whatever calling she happened to have.  I know she wasn’t always pleased with her lessons.  She was constantly comparing herself to others who had been in her position.  I don’t think she understood the diversity is needed until after she’d given one lesson in particular

Lily had been inactive for years.  She returned on a day that my mom was the instructor.  Mom kept things simple according to her own understanding.  Lily thanked her for her lesson.  Mom was taken aback.  Her lessons weren’t anywhere near as powerful as when Peggy would present them.  But it was mom’s simpleness and delivery that Lily needed.  Peggy’s flowery words or method of presentation always seemed over Lily’s head.  It’s true that Peggy may have reached more sisters than my mom – but there were some people who actually weren’t comfortable with Peggy’s deliverance.  Diversity is needed in teaching because we are made up of a huge amount of diverse personalities.

Our current bishop is very soft spoken.  He really does put a tremendous amount of thought into his talks and his words are of importance – but I don’t think his delivery always settles well with the entire congregation – especially if he is the last speaker of the meeting.  My husband, on the other hand, can wake up the congregation.  Most people like his enthusiasm and deliverance – but not everybody does.  What one may have gotten out of the bishop’s talk may be missed in my husbands or vice-versa.

And then there are some people who are blessed and talented enough to learn from all talks and lessons.  They don’t fall asleep.  They don’t get bored. They are in tune with the Spirit (I fully admit that often I am not in tune) and then there are those of us that get much more out of the talk or lesson if we are entertained by deliverance (or at least not bored by it)
We all need the opportunity of presenting His message – even if it’s only for ourselves.  Perhaps the individual that I need to reach is myself – and if someone else should make discoveries while I am talking or teaching – great. We need diversity.  And just as with the parade – not every speaker or instructor is going to appeal to me – that doesn’t mean I can’t learn.  I appreciate the diversity.  I really do.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Being Grateful for Fleas

          On February 28, 1944 Corrie ten Boom was arrested along the rest of her family  for having broken the law. They had not turned in all of their bikes or radios.  They had not kept curfew.  They hid Jewish people.

          The entire family had been taken to Scheveningen prison in Holland.  Each member of the family was put into his or her own cell.  There was no contact between them – or even with the other prisoners. The cells were concrete with steel doors with a tiny slot in which food was inserted.  Their only contact was the voice of the gruff guards.

          And one day the guards didn’t come. In June 1944 Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to Vught Concentration camp in Southern Netherlands.  For their uniforms, they were given paper thin dresses marked with X’s.  They were expected to perform heavy labor.  There was no communication among the prisoners and the guards were abusive. While at Vught, Betsie spent the majority of time in the infirmary due to failing health.

          As the war progressed, many prison camps were closed due to lack of funds.  In September of 1944 the ten Boom sisters ended up in their final prison camp.  Ravensbrück, located in northern Germany, was one of the last prisons to remain open. 

          Because so many other camps had closed, Ravensbrück was overcrowded with prisoners.  It was infested with lice and fleas.  The barracks reeked of urine.  But it was there they seemed to experience more freedoms had been deprived in the first two prisons.  That is, they were able to have face to face communication with the other prisoners and the guards didn’t seem to disturb them as much – especially in the barracks.

With their first night at Ravensbrück, Bestie offered a prayer of gratitude.  One of the things she said they ought to be thankful for was the fleas.  Corrie (as I, the reader) thought Betsie to be out of her mind.  And Corrie was certain that even God could not make her grateful for a flea. 

It isn’t until later in her biography that we learn that the guards didn’t bother the prisoners in the barracks because they didn’t want to be where the fleas were.

I have compared my trials to fleas.  I don’t enjoy having trials.  I love trials like I love fleas and poverty and hate and crime. I know that trials are necessary for growth, but you know, there are some times I would just like to take my hat off, toss it in the air and say, “Okay, enough already.  Please let me lay back long enough to understand what a breather really is.”

I try to express gratitude for things that I really am grateful for – my daughter, a stranger stopping to help change a flat, an answer to a question that has been on my mind, the unexpected chocolate chip cookies that my mouth so enjoys.  Little things.  Big things.  But not trials.

Yet how much better would my experience be if I could honestly say, “Thank you for the fleas” “Thank you for allowing the car to break down” “Thank you for yet another reminder from the IRS – this time a threat.  How joyful”

I realize that it is not the fault of God that my car would break down or run out of gas or what have you.  Actually, I’m very grateful that I have transportation and often thank my Heavenly Father for allowing me to get to and from destinations without having broken down.

            I recall teaching a primary lesson.  A boy in my class had lived in Oklahoma in April of 1995.  He related the following story about his primary teacher:

          She was on her way to work and was running late as it was.  Having to pull over on the freeway because of a bad car situation did not help matters.  One might not think of it as a blessing when it initially happened.  It was on April 19, 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed – the very building where she worked.  She was still stranded on the freeway when the bomb went off.

          I’d like to be more gracious in thanking God for trials – for my own personal set of fleas.  Unfortunately there seems to be little humility on my end.  My pathetic attempts to show gratitude come out more sarcastically.  I suppose there has been a very good reason for having my ears clogged and hurtful sinus infections.  I don’t know the reasons right now.  Perhaps I’ll never know.  But I can still offer gratitude for the current “fleas” in my life.  I think it would help me become closer to God.  I know it would.