Sunday, June 13, 2021

If These Walls Could Talk

Last month, my parent's house of 25 years was finally put on the market to sell. It felt very sentimental as this was the only house that I have memories of as we moved just before my kindergarten year. 

So to preserve the house in my memory, here's how the house is part of my story. 

If these walls could talk...

Thousands of hours of piano practicing. 

Early morning scripture study where we all show up at the kitchen table with blankets to keep warm and half closed eyes. It was a good morning when Mom would make scrambled eggs with ham and hot chocolate while Dad does the study. Can't forget the Book of Mormon map he created. 

Hot tub for birthday parties and for winter season where we even tried to hook up the little TV in there to watch the Christmas specials. Fond memories of pulling out the TV guide in our newspaper and highlighting all the ones we get to watch on our regular channels. 

Before our neighbors in the back put up the trees, we got to see fireworks pan the horizon view on 4th of July. Some even climbed the roof to see better. 

Performing our tap routine on the fireplace

Sleeping on the deck during summer nights and then feeling the dew in the morning.

We had no A/C so lots of summer meals downstairs. Our dinner spread was laid out on the ping pong table. 

Speaking of the ping pong table, lots of table tennis tournaments and some fierce competition came out of my mom. She was GOOD. 

I was obsessed with basketball and because I got a Sports Illustrated for Kids subscription one year, I got to have Vince Carter amazing dunk grace my bedroom door when I slept in the storage room. Plus my NBA bedspread.

The computer that was in the left hand corner of the downstairs where I got really good at Dr. Mario and Monopoly. 

Gymnastics on the tramp with Elizabeth for Olympics where we put tape to measure out a beam to practice our routine.

Emily fighting over clothes but making up by popping popcorn in the garage so Mom and Dad wouldn't hear us and then watching movies downstairs. And of course Emily fell asleep 5 mins after we started watching. 

Sunday cookie making 

Jeopardy church style that Crismon put together for Sundays. 

Reading scriptures in the hallway downstairs while Emily slept. 

Being freaked out of that water heater downstairs. Always seemed so scary.

The smell and decoration for the holidays that made it seem like home. 

Family testimony meeting and being taught by two incredible teachers.

My imagination absorbed around that blue couch and lazy boy chair.

Reading Harry Potter in the tree

Mom directing traffic in the kitchen sitting on the church pew

One on one interviews with Mom and Dad

Late night basketball games or throwing the football. Our yard made for some epic capture the flag games. 

Learning to work, work, work. 

Having cousins over for Thanksgiving or New Years and staying up late playing Aquire and watching lots of football.

Summer mornings Emily and I would sometimes be sleeping on the hide-a-bed and we would watch I Dream of Genie, Saturday morning cartoons like Recess and The Weekenders, or Anne of Green Gables. (I have a lot of memories around movies and shows apparently haha!)

Where my testimony was forged. I studied the gospel because I was hungry to learn. It filled a need that I didn't know I had. 

I could go on and on. I know more and more memories will pop up but this was just a snippet. I loved what Becca said that houses are part of one's story and I really was lucky to live in a good one. Obviously it's not so much the structure as the people and the memories and the feeling of loved there. Wish I could bottle this up for everyone. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

2021 Summer Reading Guide

 Here's my 2021 Summer Reading Guide! Check out 2019 and 2020's lists for more book recommendations!

History Comes to Life

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boy's Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat: This chronicles the true story of how the Thai soccer team got stranded in a cave for weeks and the miraculous journey of how they got out. This was completely gripping. 

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garret M. Goff: I don't think anyone wants to relive 9/11 but if you did, absolutely pick up this complete oral history of that day. Fair warning it will make you cry. I hear it's a must on audio. 

Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner

Interesting look at a family's story that is divided by the Berlin Wall. I learned so much about East and West Germany at this time and I'm glad I learned it through the eyes of this family. It's heartbreaking to think that some of the siblings and their parents had little to no connection with each other, some for almost 40 years.  The central theme I felt was you don't know what it's like to have freedom until you lose it.

Let's Hear it for the Ladies

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams: Genesis has dealt with self-loathing for a good portion of her life and it doesn't help that she just moved to a new city. Again. Dealing with being the new kid as well as family troubles, she has to face the task of seeing her self differently. I loved Genesis' character and it was cool that the author narrated her own novel. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller: You may have been familiar with Emily Doe, the girl who was sexually assaulted at a college party by a Stanford swimmer. This is her coming out and sharing her side of the story. She basically breaks any argument that you might have with regards to women and why they get assaulted. This is a pretty uncomfortable read but so good. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama: Having read Barack's memoir, I would definitely recommend Michelle's over his. Must be a girl thing. I love her insights and what she cared about during this complete turn of events in her life. I loved hearing her story.

Middle Grade Magic

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus: If I could describe this book it's a cross between Chronicles of Narnia and The War That Saved My Life. Three orphan children have been displaced during WWII and are looking for a permanent home and family without telling people that is their plan. The writing is beautiful and I just wanted to give this book a big hug by the end. 

Framed Series by James Ponti: Such fun mystery series involving a middle school boy who secretly works for the FBI. The mysteries are clever and this is just downright fun! Great on audio. 

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor: Perry is born and raised in a correctional facility but one days ends up outside those walls into a foster home. He tries to reunite with his mom and discover some surprising truths along the way. A book about the power of family and community and that people aren't all what they seem. 

Audiobooks for the Road

Donald Trump vs The United States by Michael Schmidt: Journalist investigation is starting to become a go-to for me because they are compulsive reads. This is like the behind-the-scenes look of the Trump presidency, Robert Mueller coming into investigate, and his impeachment. Even though this is 15 hours long, I inhaled it in about a few days. 

The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu: This book really is the epitomy of joy! I loved learning from both men on how to navigate life's challenges with joy. The audiobook made me feel like I was sitting in the room with friends having a chat. Save this for when you need a good comfort read. 

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson: Even though this is a graphic novel, the audio with sound effects is so well done! This is Omar's story of being a refugee and waiting for years to come to the United States. I'm amazed at the resiliency of these refugees. Helps me appreciate what I have here. 

Nonfiction Worth Discussing

This is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home by Lauren Sandler: For as rich as country as ours, we have an enormous homeless population. Sandler is a journalist who chronicles the life of a single mother who had her baby in a women's shelter and is trying to go to school while taking care of her newborn with no support. Not to mention she has to figure out the labyrinth that is the welfare system. I immediately told a friend about it so we could discuss. 

More Than a Body: Your Body is an Instrument, Not an Ornament by Lexi Kite, Lindsay Kite: I've already written a lengthy review about this but can this be required reading?

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson: This is a bit dense but should be in curriculums everywhere. She breaks down how our country got to where we are with racism mixed in with her life experiences. It's a must read. She is a powerhouse. 

Minimalist Guide
All Thirteen
Know My Name
A Place to Hang the Moon
The Book of Joy
More Than a Body

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

1% Anxious About

 My weekly JJ Heller email popped up last week and the title caught my attention: "What I'm 1% anxious about." And I knew exactly what she was going to say because I have been feeling it too. This going back to some semblance of normal where we've been out of it for over a year. I'll admit when the pandemic hit, it didn't upend my life that much. I didn't have a kid going to school and I wasn't a member of any gym, etc. As a natural introvert it actually alleviated some social expectations for myself. I didn't have to commit to playgroup that left me feeling completely drained because of being stuck inside with 10 rowdy kids and several moms doing small talk. 

What happened instead was doing things that I wanted to do without this feeling of doing 'more.' I'm amazed at the women in my ward who took their kids on all sorts of adventures. I know they did this because it would often be sent out in an email to invite others to come too. Whereas I was just content to do the same old walking the trail or hitting up my favorite park. I know I got too comfortable with my routine but when I saw one of those playgroup emails just the other day to go to another big outing, I instantly started to feel this anxiety that that is what good Moms do. They don't just do the same old thing. 

Funny enough, doing the same old thing is exactly what helped me establish good friendships. I just moved to a new area and for the first time in my life, the people that I'm going to miss the most, the ones who sent us with little gifts or cards and have already reached out through text since we've moved, or whom I will plan to see in the future are those that are not members of my previous ward. In fact all of them are not affiliated with a religion at all. 

COVID forced us to associate with those in proximity to us. Because everything was closed, the Burke Gilman trail was really the only thing open. That's when I met Meera because we were always walking our kids at the same time. I think the natural part was that I didn't feel weird asking for another walk and park. 

And then because we needed to escape our apartment for sanity as much as possible, it was the daily walk to Rhododendron park. That's how we met our neighborhood friends Elnaz, Eilyah, Natalie, Carter, Caitlin and Farrah. It was like this unspoken agreement that we would see each other about every day. 

Brooke in her program talks about the garden proverb in terms of change. The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps. This has also been true for my friendship making. It took not until the 3rd year to make some good friends. 

Now being in a new place, I have that same feeling of anxiety of starting all over but I'm hoping that as we come back to some normal, I'll find some of that for myself but also give myself lots of grace. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

More Than a Body

I've been there: the shameful feeling of being the only female in the family gathering that didn't get a 'you look so cute, today!' response that is so typical when a woman just walks into a room. I've been known to squeeze my tummy tighter, profess to keep clothes once I got skinnier, compared myself to sisters and IG friends, desperately wished different things about my body or hair, fixed up my hair before I did a Marco Polo video (or delete halfway through because I couldn't stand the way I look-just did it the other day!) and the list goes on and on. 

But here I was thinking that I knew what the book More Than a Body book would be about. It would basically sum itself up by saying, 'just think positively about your body.' This book blew my mind, though. "Regardless of how the definition of beauty expands, it's still being reinforced as the most important thing about us. A more effective approach to healing our body image issues needs to reflect the understanding that focusing on the appearance of our is the problem." -p. 8 

I love when a book completely changes my thinking and heightens my senses around the issue that they just stated: that we've made women's bodies the most important thing about them. Just in the last week I've heard so many different comments that reinforce this. 

At the park I overheard a nanny, probably in her twenties, say to the eight or nine year old, "don't scrunch your face, you'll get wrinkles." I've heard others jokingly make comments about their unapproved stomachs, or others praise a new mom that looks amazing after having a baby. And this one on instagram really was interesting. She has almost a million followers and she had a photo of Stacey Plaskett, one of the House managers for the impeachment trial, on a post with this caption: 

Not the focus I know but Impeachment Manager

@stacey_plaskett is defending our democracy while looking SO FLY IN A LITERAL CAPE DRESS

Part of me was like, so if she wasn't looking 'so fly' then it wouldn't validate what an amazing job she did? Why couldn't Stacey's searing testimony and compelling arguments be the focus rather than what she looked like? 

"We want people to feel good about themselves, including about their appearance. But what we really want people to know is: Regardless of how you look, or how you think you look, you can feel about about yourself because you are not your appearance. Your beautify is not your life's work. You don't have to be beautiful. As blogger Erin McKean wrote at her site, A Dress a Day, "Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female.'" -p. 99 I want to give a big AMEN to that. 

I say all of these things but this is the journey of a long uphill climb. It's going to take a lot of shift thinking because this idea has been so engrained in culture and my beliefs of how as a woman I should appear. And thinking that it matters. 

Their discussion on dress codes was fascinating and already spurred some thoughts about why women choose to wear pants to church. This is not something they addressed but something I made a connection on my own. I can see how some view it as a comfortable thing rather than a feminist move. And since our dress codes are so specific for women, even in the church, why are we upset that women wear pants to church? By golly, it covers the legs, people if that's what you're worried about! But really that whole section turned my head upside down.

But in all seriousness this is a book that I want every women to read. So much to unpack and I want to discuss it with someone so please read it!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Favorite Discoveries of 2020

In what turned out to be a crazy and difficult year, I wanted to record some of my favorite things that I discovered this year. 

Music: JJ Heller will probably be forever on my list of favorites because she comes out with a new song each month. She wrote a song specifically about being in the thick of the pandemic that was so comforting. My other favorite of hers this year were "Always", "Miracle", "Learning to Let you Go", "Don't give up too soon". Cody Fry was my new discovery (through JJ, bless her) and his songs "Photograph", "Pictures of Mountains", "A Little More" were my favorite plus his entire Christmas album. Also Lauren Daigle. Her album "Look Up, Child" is gold. 

My Sunday listen is always Sing me a scripture by Kami Jacobs Bolen. I have memorized more scriptures this year than I ever have because of her songs. They are so beautiful. A couple favorites are Moroni 7: 45, 47, Moroni 7:41, Moroni 10: 4-5, and Jacob 2:18-19

Books: Even though libraries were closed for about 5 months, I still got in about 107 books this year thanks to audiobooks and my kindle. Below are my favorite reads. Runner-ups are The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff, I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, Donald Trump v The United States by Michael Schmidt, Heavens are Open by Wendy Watson Nelson, All the March series by John Lewis, A Place to Belong by Hollie Rhees Fluhman. 

Since developing the habit of going to bed earlier, I can count the number of times on one hand we actually sat and watched an entire movie in one sitting. It's embarrassing and we're getting so old! But we loved the show The Chosen and Jimmy Fallon's monologues. And my favorite movie of the year is the new Little Women. It's now one of my all time favorites. And Hamilton was such a fun discovery even though I am about 5 years late to the game!

Other discoveries:

Big Finn soccer field. We knew it existed but Dallin has been getting more into sports lately and it's the best way to get the energy out. 

We found our favorite chocolate peanut butter pie recipe and crust. We've made it probably 5 times this year. 

Daniel Tiger was a wonderful discovery and it brought a lot of fun songs for him to sing that he will sometimes bust out while grocery shopping. 

Making new friends like Natalie, Adeera, Ziana, Elnas, and Eiliyah.

Still in awe that cardboard can still bring the best creations like a "desk" for your computer or a basketball hoop. 

Meeting cousins for the first time: Dallin meeting Mere's kids and especially excited to meet Ivan who is his closest cousin. 

Our weighted blankets were heaven sent. You don't realize what you're missing until you try it!

That we dig lip sync battles with family. They are the best.

Facetime is the best invention. We have done it more this year than ever and pretty much every day with baby Elise! 

Dallin's vocabulary has increased dramatically! Just looking at old videos from the beginning of the year till now. He can talk in full sentences now. His favorite phrase is "what's so funny, Mommy?" Apparently I am always laughing at the funny things he does. 

That church can happen in your home. It has been lovely but we go now every week to the Church because for me there is just something about being there. 

That we continue to love the beauty of the PNW and the proximity close to family. So grateful we were able to make a few trips there this year and a couple to Utah. 

Here's to 2021!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

To My Guy

Unintentionally I have read a lot of books this year about women who have risen from abuse or harassment of any kind. I'm grateful their stories are out there because their voices need to be heard. But invariably that means I've read a lot of books that shed a bad light on men as the abusers and the manipulators. I think 2021 is the year where I read more about good men in the world. 

But first, I want to share the good that has come from my man and express gratitude for him. I didn't want to just be another post on IG gushing about their husbands during the gratitude challenge that President Nelson gave us. I don't like feeling like there was a prescribed way of doing it like day 1 you post about your husbands, day two post about your kids, etc. But hey, this is my personal blog so I can get to do whatever I want! 

Austin is my side by side partner who believes and acts on the belief that everything is figure-out-able. I have run into so many weird health problems or when I've had the unexplained mishaps with my phone, he is right there helping me and most importantly not letting me give up so easily when I want to throw in the towel. 

He is by far the most fun parent. Dallin makes known exactly who he would rather hang out with. Me trying to help him. His response:"No, I want Daddy!" (Daddy sounds like a British "Da-tty"-it drives Austin bonkers). 

Austin likes things done in a certain way. Early in our marriage I got so defensive about it but I've learned to let him do the 'non-essential' things his way. For example, he thinks brushing my hair will solve all my hair problems. So occasionally, usually on a Sunday, after I've washed my hair, he'll take the time to brush and brush my hair. Then he'll comment later how nice my hair looks and it was all because of brushing it first! I laugh but he's probably right, and I'll give him that. 

Good thing he's a softy because sometimes it feels so good to have someone to cry with you! I don't profess to be much of a crier (Austin's family crying genes can handle for the both of us!) but his sensitive nature is right there when I need it. And even when my emotional rollercoasters get in the way of being a kind hearted spouse, he's just right there to sit with me. He'll do that as long as is necessary for me. 

I'm grateful for the 8 years together and the many more to come. Love you to the moon and back.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

What I Learned About Mastering the Art of Showing Up

This last week concluded the ten month program of Brooke Snow's "Mastering the Art of Showing Up" course. I wanted to jot down my thoughts, what I've learned, and what I hope to continue to do. 

I've always been interested in habits and being consistent with that. At age 14, a week prior to receiving my patriarchal blessing, I thought it would be a good idea to study the scriptures each day leading up to the blessing. In that blessing it talked of the importance of studying my scriptures daily so I just nonchalantly made it a goal to never miss a day. That habit, consistently over time, made the biggest difference in my spiritual development. It's a relatively small thing, but how it changed me and changed my life was bigger than I realized at the time. Since then, I've known that 'out of small things proceedeth that which is great." 

Overall in this program, what was emphasized again and again for good reason is that small habits, consistently over time, brings about great results. 

It doesn't matter if it's just three cat cows for movement that day, that was a win. It doesn't matter if it was one deep inhale and exhale, that was a win. 

And the progress might be small but that actually is a tender mercy from God. We might not see the results up front but it's what's underneath, the roots that are growing and forming. The garden proverb: the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps. 

God intends for us to learn line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little (2 Doctrine and Covenants 64:33). The reason why that's a loving thing is because He wants us to hold onto to that growth. When we progress in small increments, we build upon that growth instead of just a burst of growth when we haven't developed that habits to hold us there. 

I thought when I started this program back in February I was doing it because I just found out that I was pregnant. Then I found out I miscarried and so I thought I needed this program to process that. And then three weeks later COVID happened and I realized this is why I felt the tug to do it this year. 

Because I was home a lot and not traveling to visit family, I had ample time to work on some habits. Here are some habits I've developed over the year that I've done consistently.

-Tongue scrape first thing in the morning
-Drink 16 oz of water after I wake up
-Move my body, exercise
-Be in the scriptures and/or general conference
-Digital sunset at 9PM
-Brush, floss, flouride 
-Open my back on my roller
-Three cat cows
-Meditate in the evening
-Read before I go to bed
-Be in bed by 10-10:15

You can probably tell that most of these habits center around the beginning and end of our day. We call this AM and PM protocols. I have done these things consistently but I have missed a few here and there. But I try not to miss it two days in a row. I practice fast forgiveness and try again the next day.  

I love that Brooke teaches that we meditate not to get better at meditating but to get better at life. We are always redirecting our thoughts in meditation because it always wanders but then we practice fast forgiveness and get right back to the present. The same for when we lose our temper with our kids or our spouse. We practice fast forgiveness, bring it back, or as she likes to call 'flip the switch', take a deep inhale and try again. 

I've tried to look back and see what the biggest change has been in my life or what growth I've seen. I think the biggest shift for me was to have a digital sunset and go to bed earlier. I'm still working on getting better sleep (we'll never 'arrive' but it's always a guiding star) but a digital sunset has drastically improved my chances of getting to sleep earlier. 

Lately I've had to work on my thoughts that maybe it wouldn't hurt to stay up a little bit later because Dallin goes to bed so much later. But I've seen the contrast and contrast helps me see so I really want to stick to my protocol as much as I can. I want to show up and be true to what I decided for myself. 

One of the questions earlier in the program was what is the one thing you can stop doing and what is the one thing you can start doing? The stopping habit can be more life changing than the starting habit. What I decided for myself to stop doing is not use my safari browser on my phone. I've made it increasingly hard to access it. Yes I can override it, and today I learned the lesson after spending 15 mins scrolling a news article instead of getting dressed, that this habit is important for me. 

I've made an effort to not look up anything on the web like email, blogger, goodreads, groupme, until I have my computer. Sometimes it's resorted to once a day and other times it's several times a day. But it's allowed me to have more time in the morning for studying the scriptures. 

Of course there are habits I want to develop and ones I want to get rid of. That's the beauty of repentance. That's the beauty of eternal progression. 

Any habits you've developed since COVID?