Monday, November 23, 2015

More Light

So the last month or so has felt very dark and heavy to me.

The world that I've been experiencing, via the radio and social media, has been full of sorrow. So much death. So much hate. So much arguing. So many accusations. So many horrifying images and unnecessary arguments and intentional provocations.

The weather has been dreary, It gets dark earlier and the clouds take away the glimmer of the stars and the moon and so it seems even darker than it should.

On top of that I am still recovering from the Guillan Barre. I feel tired and achy and weak. And it can be depressing and overwhelming.

I needed more more hope. I needed more light.

Tonight, we put up our tree. And the whole process struck me in a way it never has before.

First, when we got it out and put it up it looked horrible.

It was all scrunchy. There were big gaps and spaces everywhere. It was ugly and awkward and I could not for the life of me remember why I even still had the tree much less how I could ever have liked it. 

But I remembered it was the same tree I had enjoyed the look of the last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Which meant at some point there was something about the tree that made me want to keep it. And that's when I remembered the reason I like the tree has very little to do with the tree itself. It has more to do with what I do to it. It's what I add.

So I turned on the lights. And I started to separate out the individual branches, unfurling their scrunchiness and filling in the gaps to make it look fuller. Then I added some extra sprays of glittery flowers and berries and put the star and a bow on the top.

Now it was softer and brighter. It was better. 

The next step involved adding some sparkly metallic and glitter encrusted ornaments to reflect the light that was already there. I strategically placed them on the inside of the tree where there were a lot of open spaces so each one could catch more light and bounce it outward and around the tree. 

It felt like the amount of light doubled. There was a soft, warm glow emanating from the tree since it was lit now from the inside out. 

It was finally time for the last thing; adding our special ornaments. 
And they are special. We have so many, and each one is meaningful. I have ornaments that my grandmother gave me. I've received one from her every Christmas for the last 35 years. The first one, a beautiful and handmade little lantern has a place of honor at the top. There are several handmade wooden ornaments from my grandfather. A red, white and blue sequined ball one my grandmother made right after 9/11. And everywhere I travel that is new, I buy an ornament. Everywhere we go together we buy an ornament. And then my parents give my kids a nativity themed ornament every year. We have ornaments that belonged to their dad, and ornaments my piano students gave me. And I love how each one helps me remember something wonderful or someone I love. They evoke feelings of tenderness and fond thoughts for experiences shared. 

I stood back after the last ornament was placed on the boughs, and admired the tree. The tree that was lit from all around and held pieces of my life and representations of the things I loved. And it was more than good. It was amazing. And for the first time in a while, the darkness and heaviness inside of me broke and filled instead with glimmers of hope, peace and possibility.

Because the world was not all bad. 

And more than what's just given to me, it's what I DO with it. It's what I add. It's who and how I love. Its the memories I create. Its me making choices that reflect light instead of dimming it. I can chose to reflect love, hope and peace. I can create possibility. 

What the world really needs is a little more light. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


So every year... well, MOST years... we try and take the chance in the first day or two of November to create what we call a Thankful Chain.

Essentially, we cut strips of fall colored paper into strips and write down on each one a blessing we can think of. When I first handed out the small pile of strips, the kids were saying things like "This is too many!" "I can only think of like, maybe, 10 things."

And then I read them a quote:

"The ability to appreciate 
what's in front of you has nothing to 
do with what you actually have. It's more about how you measure 
the good things in your life at 
any given time."

I asked them to name their blessings "one by one".
Don't just say "friends", list them out.
Don't just say "food", write down orange chicken and pizza (or ice cream and cupcakes... whatever!)
Don't just say "family", add the names of your siblings, cousins, parents, and grandparents.

And so they started writing.

Saying out loud a few of things they were thankful for; washing machines, hot and cold running water, school, teachers, medications, braces, the scripture, the Savior, temples... the list went on.

And on.

And on.

And soon, we had a chain that was so long, it wrapped in loops and piles around the dining room and the kitchen. And they were asking for more paper.

It is such a wonderful visual reminder of how truly full, rich and blessed our lives truly are.

Halloween AKA The True Beginning of Autumn

We had a wonderful few weeks leading up to Halloween. Despite my hospitalization, we had so much fun preparing for the holiday... the most fun we've had in a years.

The first thing was Ashlyn's costume. I knew I needed help, and asked my friend Megan (who also happens to be my Relief Society President) that one of the things I needed most was a peacock costume for Ashlyn. She took the challenge on herself. And for 2 days her and Ashlyn worked with sewing machines, and tulle and hot glue guns and made this beautiful and wonderful costume. It's the best costume she's ever had. And she loved it.

The Saturday before Halloween, Amy and her family were in town to say goodbye to Mom and Dad. It also happened to be the night of our ward Halloween party. Maryn dressed as a crazy cat lady, Ashlyn as a peacock, Conner as himself.

On Sunday we had a Thanksgiving Dinner and cupcakes and ice cream for birthdays to have a last big celebration with Grandma and Grandpa. 

Monday we watched "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown."
On Tuesday we invited the Days and the Golds over to help with pumpkin carving. We had Halloween tunes playing and funnel cakes and spiced hot cider. I was so grateful for their help! The thought of pumpkin carving alone made me exhausted.

The Friday before Halloween we went to the ward Trunk or Treat. 
Conner was struggling.
Hell hath no fury like a 13 year old who's facing his first year sans trick or treat.

And then it was finally Halloween! 
Maryn had 14 friends over. They ate food, made a mess, there was a lot of noise, a freaky movie... and a lot of fun. 

Conner and I ordered pizza and watched "Ratatouille".
Ashlyn tagged along with the Carpenters. They headed north and made a stop at Disa's for some Halloween fun before going to Tara's parents house for trick or treating.

It was a week (or so) of fun and and wonderful memories.