Nom Nom Nom

25 April 2017

Charlotte has taken to solid foods like a champ.  She loudly gulps her bites as fast as she can and comes back for more, with her neck craned as far forward as it will go, and her lips protruding all the way out.  Anything to shorten the distance between her mouth and the spoon.  Her hands stay up in the air, quivering in excitement.  Ryan and I just laugh and laugh!  This little thing. 

Every morning lately, Ryan and I have been making green smoothies.  One morning, after feeding Charlotte, I sat down next to her with my smoothie.  She leaned forward with her lips all pooched out, trying to get a taste of my breakfast too.  So I poured some in her mouth.  She kept wanting more, so I ended up giving her most of my smoothie.  And since we were sitting on the carpet, I'd use my finger to mop up her face before it dripped, and then I'd lick my fingers.  I thought of how baby birds are fed by their mom regurgitating food into their mouths.  I guess it's the opposite in our house.

Everyone is fed and happy here!

Upward and onward,

The Tree of Life

14 April 2017

Charlotte and I went to the library on a beautiful spring afternoon this week.  I picked up a book titled, "Following the Light of Christ into His Presence."

Anything with the word "light" is a guarantee that I'll connect with it.  That's my favorite word.

Also, this book is written by John Pontius who also wrote "Visions of Glory," which is a fascinating read.  Before my good friend Becky moved away, we stayed up late on many occasions talking about that book.

So, I figured this was a good find.

I have barely begun the first chapter, and I want to pause to write my thoughts.  All the writing I have done lately has been about the Atonement or Jesus Christ in some way.  I am just really bonded to this doctrine lately, and it's been really special.

The author is talking about Nephi's vision with the tree of life.  Nephi is shown the tree, and Nephi's like, "Cool.  What's this about?"  So then he is shown Mary, Mother of Jesus, and promptly asked, "Knowest thou the condescension of God?"  Nephi is like, "um, I know God loves all His children."  Then he is shown a vision of baby Jesus. And then it seems that something of a lightening bolt has struck Nephi's brain.  He's asked the meaning of the tree of life again, and this time, Nephi knows.

"It is the love of God."

Not a lot is said about what is going on Nephi's mind between these visions and these questions and how he arrives at his answer, but John Pontius says this, "In seeing the nativity of our Lord, Nephi undoubtedly was filled with an understanding of the tremendous love required on the Lord's part to cause Him to leave His throne (condescend) to be born in the flesh. Further, Nephi was taught how this love spreads abroad in the hearts of the children of men.  He undoubtedly felt that love, felt the power and majesty of it, felt the soul-refining fire it is, felt the eternal worth of souls, and felt the deep compassion it engenders within the recipient.  His whole being was filled with such unspeakable joy that he could only exclaim, 'It is the most desirable above all things!' "


Thus, "the tree of life represents the love of God.  Not the celestial kingdom, not eternal life, not calling and election, or any other spiritual gift or reward.  It represents only the love of God."

And the whole big meaning of the tree of life vision is showing the means and pursuit of people trying to get to this tree.  We are all meant to travel towards God's love.  That is our powerful.  Our pursuit here is only to find the love of God and fill ourselves with it.  All else will fall into line: our characters, our obedience, our pains, our questions - all these things that I "work" on.  I devote so much energy to those things.  When really, my focus needs to be pivoted just a bit, set my mind more towards, "Did I find God's love today?  Do I feel how much He loves me?"  Then I will be naturally obedient; I will be improving as a person; I will get more of the answers and the peace that I seek.  I LOVE that!

Also, back to Nephi's vision and his epiphany.  Before when I read this passage in 1 Nephi 11, I always felt a disconnect of thought - "God loves His Children.  Oh, Christ as a baby!  Oh, now back to the tree of life, what we were talking about in the first place."  Like I'm eaves dropping on a conversation between people that is not connecting.  I'm grateful for John Pontius's thoughts in this book, for teaching me that there's more happening in Nephi's mind that isn't written, and pausing to step into his thoughts is where we find the depth of meaning.  Just in that teeny tiny passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon.

Nephi must have understood the peace and majesty and joy of Christ up in the spiritual world.  It is a good life there.  And for Him to come down to this life in the flesh, to give up such a wonderful place, and enter of world of pain and injustice and fear, it's a huge condescension.  And in that is found a HUGE amount of love.

Last night, I briefly saw a news clip of families in Syria, right after Assad dropped chemical acid on them, and parents were frantically trying to get the clothing off of their writhing children.  It was mortifying to me.  It made me instantly sad, so so sad, and I felt like running to my bed.  Seeing innocent people suffering is so painful.  Thinking about the fear of those children, wondering what is going through their minds as their fearful eyes look up at their parents, wondering why their skin is burning, why their parents are so frantic.  And the pain is not any less for the parents.  Whose focus in life is to give their little ones the best of all they can, going about their business with this great desire in their hearts.  And then acid rains on them from the sky!  It's horrible!

And Christ's condescension is like a man turning from his joyful, happy, peaceful life and saying, "I'm buying a plane ticket over to Syria right now, and I will live with these families for the rest of their lives.  I'll give up everything I have to go over to just that one family on the tv screen and help them however I can."

It was no small change of scenery for Christ.  A surplus of sacrifice.  And an overwhelming amount of empathy in His heart for wanting to enter into our state of suffering and do all He could to help alleviate it.  And so Nephi actually sees Him arrive here in the flesh and he's like, "Oh wow.  He bought the plane ticket. He has come!"  And then he felt Christ's immense love.

So then the author says, "If an angel of the Lord appeared to you and emphatically informed you that something was the most desirable and precious thing that could be attained in this life, and that it was readily available, would you not pursue that thing with great vigor and determination?  It is possible to read such promising words, such wonderfully potent language, and ignore its message?  The effect that charity has upon the soul is the greatest of all feelings in this life; it is the loveliest, the most joyful, and the most delightful.  There is nothing to compare with its joyous effect upon the human soul."

And feeling that love He has for us is the ultimate goal and focus of our existence. That's what our daily reach is for.

How humbling and loving and even exciting.  Because it's so incredible to feel that love, so to be given a purpose that results in that level of happiness is really exciting to me.  What a sweet existence that God wants for us.

This love is charity.

"Charity is the love of God for us, not the other way around."

So when we are told to fill ourselves with faith, hope, and charity, the greatest of these being charity - that isn't meaning a "serviceable spirit," or filling myself with love for others, it is filling myself with Christ's love for me!  Reaching out for the tree of life daily.  Letting myself be reminded of Christ's condescension for me.  And then my best self comes out, and I am my best for others.  Everyone wins.

I love the idea of the tree of life as my daily focus and reaching for that love.

Upward and onward,

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Friday Link Pack

31 March 2017

Hi my friends!  What are you up to this weekend?  We are going to dinner tonight with my aunt and uncle who are in town.  Also, General Conference!!!!!!!  Also, I have to read about 400 pages of our book club novel by Monday, because I am leading the discussion in a couple weeks, but the book is due back to the library on Monday and I don't get any renewals!  So, maybe we can divide and conquer by each reading a portion of the cliff notes. ;)

I've picked out some links I want to share with you this week!

Categorizing our meltdowns and how to best pull out of each one.  Love it.  Aimed at children's tantrums, but I see application for adults as well.

Ryan and I watched this on Sunday and gave it all our thumbs up - intimacy talks!  Start young, keep it an open and normal topic of discussion, and also, the fruit comparisons - golden!

Peg board wall.  Yep.  Gonna find a wall to do this on.

"Hurry hurry!" The most dangerous enemy of joy.

Last time, I said to have a SUNNY weekend, and it rained all weekend.  So... we're not doing that again!

Upward and onward,

Friday Link Pack

24 March 2017

I'm going to post some fun links from around the internet more often.  Because I've been collecting articles and pictures I've loved in a folder on my web browser, and they are getting digitally dusty.  So I'll post them here over time and share them with all of yooooouu!  :)   And keep emailing me your good finds too!  I love seeing what you are reading, listening to, and liking.

Cutest gif ever.  (Based off the live news video when a professor was interrupted by his little family).

I'm all about phone boundaries.  (do you agree with the slot machines and social medial creating the same ludic loop?  Interesting, huh?)

I could use one of these - Bouncer for my brain.

**Curiosity vs. passion.  Elizabeth Gilbert could drop a mic after everything she writes. 

An "almost" sleepover party invitation.  This is my kind of party!

Have a great SUNNY weekend!

Upward and onward,

image source

The Auther who finishes our stories

19 March 2017

I found this post buried in my drafts today.  I re-read it, and my thoughts are exactly what I needed to hear today, exactly one month later.


Written February 19.

During church, I had a flow of thoughts within me that wasn't synced with any talk or lesson I heard that day.  Something my consciousness has been mulling over lately.  And as Charlotte and I each occupied a chair in the mother's lounge.  She in one, and I in the other, facing each other, with my boots pressed up on her chair, rocking us both, I let my mind wander into this flow.  (Charlotte was busy wondering why her crib was not packed with all the other hundred items we brought to church with us).

I thought about how a lot of our greatest pains are largely gut-wrenching because they leave unwritten stories.  A loose thread that is left unwoven.  A spare wire that is exposed.  A protruding nerve that is very, very vulnerable.  It's the open-endedness of our stories that can cause so much hurt year after year.  Still waiting.  Still wanting.  Still needing.  It's an open orbit - circling and circling around us, never having a launch pad to finally retire, gear down, and power off .  So the embers of old wounds stay smouldering for a long, long time.  

Several weeks ago in a BYU devotional speech, I heard the presenter said boldly:  "Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant."  Like he was stating boldy, "You're the accountable one for you!  So take control of yourself and be better."  Love that!  So I jotted that quote down on a sticky note and added it to the collection pile of influential sticky notes in the drawer of my desk, which come to recall when I need them. 

Then several days ago, I thought back on this quote, relating it to the side of ourselves that is weighed down with grief.  Instead of a motivated declaration: "Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant,"  it became a hopeful, comforting plea: "Take hold of your mind and write a new story."  Once again, calling myself to accountability; this time for my sorrows.  Self, you can take control and find a new way to see things.

We have the power to rewrite any story we please.  Every circumstance has a hundred vantage points.  If our vantage point is dissatisfying, we can pick up our feet and move to a new one.  Same with our stories.  If we dislike how one of our life stories turned out, we can pick up our feet and lay hold to a new ending. 

So I thought today about the reason the Gospel bears so much hope and light for us is because it helps us either finish writing our unwritten stories or re-write a past story from a better vantage point.  The curtain hasn't fully closed on any part of our lives, because we haven't returned to our Maker and wrapped anything up yet.  But, we get hung up on pains and sadness that keep orbiting around us, and we just keep seeing them the same thing over and over.  Truth be told, we aren't very good playwrites sometimes.  So Heavenly Father sent Christ down here to us, because we all need a co-author. 

Christ helps us finish the story.

He promises that we will receive the love we want - or that acceptance, or that child, or that health, or that security.  We will get the lost piece to our story.  His promise is so sure that we can rewrite our story now with His ending.  In a way, we yield our pen to faith, to what will come, and our stories can balm themselves now.  We can land our orbiting places of grief now.

Now when my sadness rises to an open-ended story, I remind myself that this story was rewritten.  The story is sealed with His pen.  Remember, self, what Christ told me that ending is?  The Plan of Salvation and celestial life and all the joy and love and blessings that He has promised beyond any of my best imaginings.  My story is re-written and closed with faith of what is to come.

I take hold of my mind and allow myself to be healed with faith.

Upward and onward,

image source

Scenes from our Sabbath

Snapshots that Ryan received of his two princesses enjoying their Sabbath:

Two little ladies all ready for church.

 Nothing like the weight of a dozing babe in your arms.

 Gotta love a teeny baby neck. <3

A winter baby finally getting naked in front of the sun.

Upward and onward,

C.S. Lewis, you've done it again. Written thoughts that are solid gold.

17 March 2017

"The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good”… If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown."

C.S. Lewis || Mere Christianity

The other day I saw this picture, paused, and thought, "That's the bag I'd pack if I were on my way to meet C.S. Lewis."
That's how much I like the guy.

 Upward and onward,

Ryan goes snowcaving! A feat that Olympic athletes probably could not even do.

11 March 2017

Entry from Ryan!!!

Okay, so Ryan really posted this to our neighborhood facebook page, but I asked him if I could also post it to our blog scrapbook.  I got you all excited thinking that Ryan is blogging on here now too, right?  Ryan does have a blog..  a private one just for me! ;)  Anyway, here is a post "from" him!


Last night, the varsity scouts pulled off a very successful snowcaving campout! It was a blast! We had delicious chili cheese dogs, worked hard, learned valuable survival skills, and bonded as a troop. The feeling of accomplishment was something I heard many of the boys express. We finished off the evening with a great campfire devotional, where the spirit was in abundance as we talked about member missionary work and serving full time missions.


Chantel again:
How about that?  Digging and digging through the snow until you hollow out a cave large enough for 3-4 people to sleep in.  And then actually sleeping in it!  Men at church the next day were jealous that they had not been a part of it.

I came home from church and hugged my pillow and my bed and all the reachable heater vents.

And then I hugged Ryan because he's just so darn manly and such a good leader for these youth!


Establish a running base


8 miles down.

Since deciding to run another marathon a few weeks after Charlotte was born (that was the time of the decision, not the time of the race...), I oscillated behind my choice, keeping a noncommittal foot out the door, wondering at what point I should pull out my race entry.  I mean, one Saturday, I set out on my run, and once reaching the trailhead - I took a few steps up the mountain path, no no can't do this, turn around and head back, YES - I can do this!, turn around and run a few steps, no there's no way - windy, cold, turn around and come back, just try - give it a shot, turn around.  And so on.  I truly ran back and forth in a 10 foot distance over and over again.  So many times, that I'm sure any onlookers were thinking that this was how I worked out.  That maybe I grew up at a severely underfunded school where our gym was a closet, and that's where we did our laps.  But I finally just told myself that I would run a few blocks through my neighborhood just for funsies, and then I could come home.  Well, I ended up running my full distance that day.  Probably anyone could do anything if they believed the motivating line of "it's just for funsies!"  Go play patti cake with that wild orangutan - just for funsies. OKAY!

Anyway, Ryan kept telling me that once we establish a base of running that this will get a whole lot easier.  And I put a lot of trust in that.  Because this is my first race that I am starting from ground zero on training.  Pregnancy, baby birth... yeah.  Also, Ryan has a lot of street cred when it comes to running advice, because he is a state champion in track.  Like, super legit.  One of my favorite stories of his is a championship relay race, where he ran with 3 other dudes on a team, and he was the last runner, and the 3 teammates allowed a widening gap between the opponents, and Ryan took the baton, and closed the whole gap, and won the freaking race.  So, yeah, this guy knows a thing or two about running.

So as hard as it has been to just get out the door and give it shot - I kept his words in mind that I just needed to push through the beginning and get a running base.

And today I ran 8 miles, and it felt GOOD!

I came home and told Ryan that 8 miles is a significant mile marker in my past marathons.  8 miles is the first mark of pain.  You run breezefully to that point, and that's the mile marker when the game starts getting mental.

I told him my 8 miles today wasn't a breeze, but at least I ran what I consider is the base distance of a marathon.  I got a base of something going now!

Alright, I'm doing this.

Upward and onward,

Divine Nature

10 March 2017

Tonight Ryan is away on a scout campout, so me and Little Char are having a true sleepover.  She only takes up a smidgen of the space on Ryan's side of the bed, and it's so sweet to have her little company.

This morning, I caught one glimpse of Charlotte rubbing her eyes, and I swooped her up in some of her small fuzzy blankets and went to her nursery to hold her tightly in my arms while we swayed in the rocking chair.  I knew the moment was ripe for her to just relax into me.  Ryan and I haven't had many, if any, moments to really "rock" Charlotte to sleep.  She just decides it's time for rest, cues us by rubbing her eyes, and then she likes us to just take her to the crib and lay her down.  She's out cold in seconds.  If we keep holding her when she's tired, she'll stay awake and look around endlessly, basking in her privilege of being held high on a throne that she can observe everything.

So this morning when I noted her fatigue, I took quick advantage of the time for us to be close.  As we rocked in the glider chair, she stared intently at me.  I began telling her how special I think she is, and before long, I was lost in thought on the purpose of one human's journey here on this earth. 

It all began when I was telling Charlotte that I believe she was a really special spirit before she came here.  Then I told Charlotte that I believe her purpose here on this Earth is to learn who her spirit was before she came here. To come to an awareness of her divine essence and how much God loves her.  Her journey on earth is not to prove herself to anyone else.  What other's think of her is none of her business because then she'll have to speculate about their private lives, just as they are doing of hers.  But her most important purpose here is to come to know herself, as a spiritual being, and know whose she is.

By knowing how glorious of a spirit she is, she'll feel the love of her Father and Mother in Heaven; she'll know her spirit will continue beyond this blip of time; she'll know she's sacred and eternal and loved supremely.  From that knowledge, she'll know she's of worth far above all labels, judgments, and human opinions; she'll keep watch for herself and keep herself in holier places, surrounded by better people, making choices from a wiser perspective, holding boundaries and standards that take increasing courage. 

And how can someone who knows that about themselves not live without an astounding amount of integrity and confidence?  How can someone like that not, by default, leave a dent in society as it stands and spur an upward momentum?

Suddenly, it became very clear to me what my job is for her.  My most important job is to clear any interference that may silence that truth for her.  To reduce the noise of all the unnecessary voices of low content.  To declutter all the pipeways of fallen and broken messages.  I must keep our airways full of higher truths and feelings of the spirit.

I would do just about anything to have Charlotte know of her worth.  And I think this hits me so close to home because of the times I've been really dislodged and met with such darkness in this life.  Fed lies, abandoned, forgotten.  I know what it feels like to hold a flickering candle to this truth of oneself, and there is no faster way to be drowned in this world.  So, I know how important it is to have God's confirmation of who you really are.

As I told her that this is what I want her purpose to be, I felt a conviction that the same message holds true for me and for everyone.

Our journey is only about us finding our identity as a spiritual self and letting that connect us in unimaginable ways to God and our eternity.  How much of the clamor - even the noise of people standing up for their well-thought out convictions - is really a loud reverberation of deep emptiness.  Countless individual people speaking louder and louder.  When the answer is silently tucked deep within.

This knowledge alone of our divine selves can repair a soul to a core.  This knowledge alone stops the finger pointing, the offendedness, the easy reactions.  This knowledge augments goodness, expands efforts, merges gaps, opens the veil, anchors our roots into Heaven, and awakens The Law of Consecration.  The ultimate way of living as united, thriving beings.  All together.  As one.  So by finding our self as a Spirit of pre-existing glory, healing flows outward with such force that not only our energies bind to each other, but temporal resources begin evening out the troughs in all of the world.

So yes, I will make all sacrifices I deem necessary to give Charlotte this gift.  Even if it's as simple as turning off the radio when a song comes on that I love, but I can feel that the message isn't in harmony with who I believe we are.

And after I've successfully whisked Charlotte away into a swirl of these thoughts on her divine self, I observe her stare slowly fading into a daze, her lips moving all around as she settles deeper into comfort, then her eyelids softly closing into a deep, heavy doze.

Sweet dreams, little one.

I feel pretty humbled that I've been blessed with a baby who has a spirit far greater than I can even imagine.

And also pretty intimidated, because when she was in Heaven and meeting with God about who her parents were to be for this next leg of her journey, I'm sure he pulled up a real-time moment of me and I was like picking my nose or something.

Upward and onward,

image source


Watchtowers & Egos

05 March 2017

Tonight, the three of us are snuggled on the couch reading our books.  Well, Charlotte is alternating between eating an old Sunday School lesson of mine and sucking her thumb.  I spent long hours painting this front sitting room and designing it with the intention of a quiet place for reading and pondering, so it's so nice to have my dreams coming to fruition.

Ryan reads from his favorite political series (The Uncle Eric books.  Libertarianism, anyone?  Amazing stuff) and I am reading Teachings of President Hinckley.  I am finding this book to be so powerful.  It's really putting my heart at peace and calling my spirit to be more devoted to Gospel things.  I like being filled with this type of spirit. Last week, I got online and was immediately swamped with feeds of criticism towards a female leader in our church.  From friends and other people that seemed respectable enough.  I saw where they were coming from, only meaning that it wasn't beyond the realm of my understanding to see why they stood with dissatisfaction.  But, it still made my heart sink, so I backed away slowly and moved on with my day.

Later that week, I was feeling pretty exhausted, both in body and mind, so I laid very still on my bed and reached for a meditation to take me away.  But instead, I began bearing my testimony to myself; it just seemed comforting enough to try.  I declared to myself truths that I know, and when I came to The Prophet and those called under him, my mind snagged, and I couldn't stop looping around the power and courage behind these people.

There is something that I don't take lightly, and I never have.  Criticism of General Authorities and the female authorities of our church.  That has never rested well with me.  Just like I believe that prophets of old had face-to-face communions with God and angels, I believe that same communion occurs today with our prophets.  Light is given to these people through revelatory experiences that would cause our souls to quake if we knew.

I know that myself, and others, hurt.  And that pain can chide with other voices sharing testimony, or we can feel snuffed under new Gospel policy, or we can feel lonely and forgotten when our experiences are far, far away from the norm.  But like my bishop once said:  the entirety of this Gospel is like a big puzzle, and if you come across a piece that you can't find a place of belonging, do you throw the whole puzzle off the table, saying, "This is untrue!"  No, you set the piece aside and continue working until you find that piece a home.

And hearing / reading so many critical voices out there, and sometimes seeing that same cynical voice inside myself, I have found it's best to step back and see where other's or my own voice is taking me:

Does this thought, this criticism, this mood towards someone or something make me more loving, more full of the Spirit, more eager to understand?   No?  Is it making me cynical, distant, and hardened?  Then there is something here I need to abandon, to loosen my grip of.  Lay it down. 

And if this hardness returns, well then, I'll pray for more awakening when it does.  And I'll keep laying it down until it returns to me, and I able to speak on it with light and love.  People, and myself, do a dis-service to our spirits to clamp down on things that weaken or provoke or dim or annoy us.  And yet, unfortunately, I find myself doing it all the time.  All the time.  The more light and awareness I find in this Gospel, the more I realize how much my ego controls me.  And I do say, to continue on in the dictations of my ego, the suffering is bearable mainly because of its familiarity.  It is that of which we are all accustomed to, because we exist behind the perceptions of our egos minute-by-minute, which cause us to be so co-dependent on blaming and critiquing other people or things for our pain.  "That is the cause of my suffering."  "This is the cause of my suffering."  And we exist in co-dependence with everything around us.  We suffer because we are holding this cycniscm.

Until, one unveils their ego and lays it down.  Then one finds that "in here, is the cause of my suffering."  I am the production of my suffering.  You change the patterns of your mind, and you change your life.

I am not yet my own Master, living without my ego, but I am awakening and rising above it.

So, basically what I am trying to say is, the more I encounter others' egos reigning their eyes and their minds, the more I withdraw.  I am not going to participate in that, nor surround myself with it. Fingers will continually point more firmly outward, causing a more and more co-dependent nature of people slinging their pain at anyone and anything, being critical and cynical.  And unfortunately, our prophets and leaders are going to take increasing hits.  The very people who are communing with our Savior.

But like I always, always say, I cannot push on the side of a ship and make it turn, but I can choose to row my boat in my chosen direction.  And I will continually work on unveiling my ego and letting my co-dependent fingers fall, along with my pride, my pains, my follies.  I will sink into my Master, my faith, the  prophets, my husband, and I will let myself be transformed.  My deepest desire is to be fully awakened and filled with light.  This process will continue until I am well beyond the grave, and in that time, you will never hear me discredit the people on the watchtower.  Even if their words jolt my ego and unravel me in pain and weakness.  They are people that I believe are more awakened than I, and I would rather trust in their light and let my own ego be proved fallible.  
When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say:  "Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve."                                                   -Gordon B. Hinckley
Now, back to our peaceful evening reading :) Upward and onward,

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Energetic Seedlings of a God

26 February 2017


It has been a difficult last few days.   :x

But, some good things.  I'm reading a book right now that is sooooo enlightening for me.  The God Seed by M. Catherine Thomas.   I'll share a couple quotes from her book below - I'll save your eyeballs from posting the entire text of the book.  Though I am drowning in brilliantly deep thoughts from this read.  This woman understands that nature of our eternal beings better than anyone else.  (I've raved more about her here and here).

I'm in Tampa, Florida for the week with Ryan & Charlotte and Gary & Sandy.  Today we went to a local LDS church service, and it was amazing!  Relief Society and the confidence of those women hit me so powerfully.  I love being a follower of this Gospel.  It speaks a lot of truth to me.

And now, the quotes.

We already have within our being the energetic seedlings of the attributes of God.  They need only the light of our awareness, a spiritual practice, and the ever-present enabling power of the Lord.

M. Catherine Thomas

[We] have got to learn how to make ourselves Gods, Kings, Priests, etc. -- by going from a small to a great capacity, as all Gods have done.  Till [you] are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and everlasting power. 

Joseph Smith

Upward and onward,

Gold Medal Moments & Belonging

11 February 2017

Charlotte is down for a little snooze, Ryan ran to a boat show, and my brother, who has been staying with us, has gone out for a bit.  So it's time for a Gold Medal moments list.

- a happy wife is ... vacuum lines in the carpet.

- My brother, Trevor, has been staying with us the past couple of nights, and he introduced Ryan and I to a show called Hunted.  Oh man!  We LOVE it!  Pairs of fugitives start running and the best detectives try to find them within 28 days.  It's so interesting to see how people, despite their best efforts, cannot not think like themselves.  And when our lives are opened up to professional hunters, we are actually rather predictable.  (The word predictable always makes me think of riding on a bus in India with one of my best friends, Kelli, reading excerpts of a book called Irrational Predictability to each other.  So good!  Kind of similar concepts to the show).

- Boxing.  I. am. so. sold.  I have gone 5 times in one week.  I can't get enough of it!  Mentally, I need more, more, moooooore.  But physically, I am hardly moving.  I am sore up and down and all around.  That is such a satisfying feeling.  Until I have to stand up and do something.  Ha!  I can't wait to go back again next week!  I love the gym, the people, the music, and ultimately, the sense of belonging.  More on this later... maybe....

- I took Charlotte into my former office this week, while I met with a client about his pending audit.  My former co-workers were more than thrilled to watch Charlotte.  Little Buddy has some charm.  Afterwards, Char and I met Ryan for lunch, and I could hardly focus on anything because I was feeling such nostalgia over work and all the confidence and focus that surrounded me.

- Our book club had its first meeting this week.  I entered with excitement and left with ambivalence.  We'll see about this.  Though this book club started as an idea between Brittney and I to meet more people, once we had a group formed, I turned out to be the only one not in their ward.  Which on the bright side means I just have that many new potential friends!  But on the downside, I will have to answer the question "And, who are you?" probably eight more times.  Luckily, Brittney was by my side, and we could make sidenote remarks to each other, and after everyone left, we planned a movie night for just us.  I am grateful for her.

Okay back to this whole belonging thing.. because I'm really feeling it today.  Or, rather, not feeling it today.  I've had a lot of transitions in my life the last couple of years.  I am part of a new family, part of a new ward, part of a new city, and the infusion of me into these places hasn't come naturally.  And I think back often to the first biggest transition of my life --- college.  Boy was that a transition.  I didn't really feel like that was a place I belonged until my late sophomore year.  But as years went by, and especially in grad school, I never felt a more solid feeling of belonging and connectedness in my entire life.  Lately, every day, I think back on those times with such fondness.  SO many memories.  I'm most likely going to make a shrine of college degrees and pictures, and hang it like a baby mobile above my side of the bed.  In college, I really grew into my own, and I met people who have become my closest network, and I worked so dang hard and laughed and and and.  Oh, I loved that time so much!

So of course my infusion into these new places and times of my life will take time, and I could do without beating myself up so much while I overcome all these awkward hurdles.  But I once again feel like the wrong type of animal trying to run, swim, and jump with a pack that is already uniform.  Once Charlotte entered our hearts and home, this simmering journey of "belonging" went from the backburner, to a forefront boil.  I needed to get out of the house, and I needed to find a sense of belonging.  And funnily enough, my outreach has mostly led me back to my safe anchors of college roommates who have since become my best friends.  And boxing, ha.  Those two things alone are sewing up my melancholic transitory seams.

Thank you my college roommates :)

Upward and onward,

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Gold Medal Moments Free-Write

03 February 2017

Now I've tucked my sweet gentle Charlotte into her crib, Ryan is snowboarding with the Teachers Quorum and sending me lots of fun videos, and I have soft music playing as my companion while I continue to write a sequel to my last post.

I love my Ryan and my Charlotte so much.

Anyway, I have decided on a new practice for myself that I'd like to do weekly.  An idea lined with leniency.  Because my scheduling doesn't read by normal clocks where the hour hands are straight and tick in even intervals.  My life reads by baby clock, where the hands are more squishy and the measurements are more forgiving.  Less "on the dot" and more "come what may."  So basically, I don't promise regularity.

So to expound on this idea, in my private journal, I'll often jot down a bullet point list of moments in my day that were a highlight.  Small instances where I think, "that deserves a gold medal."  Thus I coined the phrase "Gold Medal Moments" and starting titling my lists as such.  And, I think now would be a good time for me to give more effort to this practice.  Because frankly, I haven't done a Gold Medal list in awhile.  And I would hate for myself to believe that that's because there aren't any gold medals to be given, because the entropic forces that try to wither me away into a sad, booby despair would have me believe as such.  But today when I gave myself permission to let all the burdens of my mind go and give myself a full break for the weekend, I had a perceptible shift in my mood and a shroud of awesome memories from the week began to flow.  So, I must write them down, and I must continue this practice because it is the fast pass to joy.

Gold Medal Moments This Week:

- For starters, there is a fly in my house.  (!!!!!!)   That means spring is coming.  And of course, by next fall, I will be chasing all these flies around my house with a dust buster and cursing at every last one of their dead bodies that I find under my furniture.  But that is not here or there.  Spring.  Gold medal.

- Ryan and I made a pact one evening to really dedicate our evenings to our little family.  Again, life just does its best to stick its big, fat, wide, loud head through our front door and fill up our home with all sorts of petty distractions.  This head resembles Donald Trump and it is alarming.  But we have consecrated our evening hours to focusing on each other, and we have had such tender moments and such hilarious moments this last week because of this pact.

-Ryan and I had another heart-to-heart last night in the dim light of Charlotte's nursery.  Talking about the powers of negotiation and persuasion and boundaries and goals and our life and our dreams and sticking to our guns.  And basically it was so profound that I created a personal Title of Liberty in my head while we talked, and I plan on typing it up and hanging it by my desk.  Here's where Ryan and I are headed, world, and the opportunity cost of not keeping our feet planted firm in that direction is far too great, so no.  No, go away.

- Another night, Ryan and I were again in the dim light of Charlotte's nursery, and I had her sound machine playing an evening sound like we were camping in the woods.  Ryan and I were side-by-side, huddled over Charlotte, and she was jabbering away at us.  Telling us all coos and gurgles that will change the world someday.  We tell her that her thoughts are so wonderful and unique, and her voice is beautiful and charming, and we encourage her to tell us everything on her mind because we love anything that she has to say.  And at 3 months old, I can tell already this girl is going to have a lot of things to share.

- Charlotte sleeping 11 hours a night.  She sure loves her sleep, and she has since she was born.  I read upwards of 4 books on sleep training with newborns, getting myself in full army gear, ready for the battle with long nights with a baby.  But I have indeed given birth to my Ryan's daughter because she cuts no corners with her snoozing, and we have been far too blessed with how well she sleeps. (Though, as Ryan and I often discuss, every couple's transition to a baby is difficult in its own way.  We've gotten lucky here, but go ahead and read my last post....) 

- Meanwhile, I still wake up in the night, and I wander into Charlotte's nursery and lay on the spare bed listening to her breathe and gurgle, until I drift off to sleep again.   If she ever makes a fussy peep, I swoop in and snuggle her.  Her tiny little curled up body against my chest, while I sway in the rocking chair gently into the dawn.  I just miss her so much in the night times, and I love all these moments with her.  So if I am tired, it's my own fault.  I keep my husband up talking into the wee hours of the night (again, read my last post), and then I'm in Charlotte's room at the crack of dawn, just fawning over her.  Basically I'm neurotic.  Read: "basically I'm a mom."

- Going on a mid-week date to Braza Express with Ryan.  It was a spur of the moment, Wednesday night idea.  Thought we'd try out a new restaurant and seek reprieve from our already psychotic week.  It was fantastic!  I had such a good time with my family, and we sure had some good laughs imitating people.  It could be a good comedy sketch titled, "People Who Are Really Hungry Eating Salads with Large Forks in Public."  Needless to say, in one word:  unflattering.  And in reality, I'm the star of this comedy and embarrassment.  It's me, guys.  I'm that freak.

- Ryan's dinner of .... the name is failing me... no seriously, I want to say Horchata, but I'm trying to recall the name of a fish, and I know it's not name-sharing with a Mexican drink...  HALIBUT.  Yes, Ryan's cooking of Halibut.  There we go.  YUMMM!  Moving on.

- Brennan texted me this week and thanked me for teaching him how to release emotions through muscle testing.  He said it helps him so much to do that every day after school.  I love that!  LOVE.  I can't even say what that text meant to me.  It felt like he shared something so personal with me, and that I could help him in such a meaningful way.  I can't even begin to say how much I love my little brother.

- Also, same day, a lady had heard of me somehow and how good I am at what I do, so she took to Facebook, found our one mutual friend, and requested that she ask for my permission to have my contact information released to her.  By what means did said person hear about me?  Mystery to be determined.  But I must be doing something right if my name is being passed around through social networks not integrated with mine.  Compliment.  Brush my shoulders off.

- Being sick last weekend.  That may sound within the category of Last Place Medal.  But, there is something sweet about opening up the blinds and curling up on the couch all snuggled together as a family and sniffling through movies all weekend.  Also, you get to litter your house with as many tissues as you want, and your parents don't make you clean it up.  Also, you're the parents now. 

- Spending time with friends.  A day with my friend Leslie and her son, Matthew.  Oh my goodness, little toddlers have a curiousness that just feeds my soul.  I love it!  Matthew held our little baby bunnies, and he was so cute with them!  Plus it's SO nice to be in the company of friendships that make you feel so loved and protected, laughing and reminiscing.  An afternoon with my friend, Allie.  We are tied together at the soul.  She is so lovely and calm and feeds my subconscious peace.  Voxing with Kelli - basically Kelli gets the brunt of all my panic attacks and nerves and all the other types of conversations that occur when you have retreated to your closet, face-down on the floor.  Anyone else?  Just me?  Okay, that's fine.  Lunch with Sharla, eating warm pho and having Vietnamese women swoon endlessly over Charlotte, asking multiple times if she's a boy or girl.  It's fine.  Humans of all races, religions, and genders can have fuzzy bald heads if they want to, and we still love them and squeeze them tight.  Can someone tell Donald Trump that?  Reaching out to my college roommate Brittney, and next thing I know, she's at my doorstep with baby clothes and we have started a book club!!  She was a good find for my life nine years ago.  And also, hearing from Rachel in Micronesia.  I live in fear that Rachel will be transfigured, and I won't know about it.  So every time she contacts me, my entire day is brightened because she's still here on Earth with me.  She's too good.  Rachel is the type of person that EVERYONE loves, and she has a million friends, and for good reason because she is the most caring and inquisitive person, remembering small details about everyone and checking in on them often.  And yet, she comes to me to share the more private moments, and I feel really humbled all the time that I am her person.  Blows my mind.

- Faster internet.  Yessssss!  Even though the process of switching internet providers is like cutting off your arms and legs and gluing them to the opposite side of your body and figuring out how to do life again.  Basically, it's the worst hassle in the world.

- The Bachelor.  Guys, I can't stop.  It's like a circus that is so melodic and beautiful and fancy on the outside, and then you go in and it's a loopy mad house and you can't get back out.  Ever.  Basically what the therapists are terming "an addiction."

- Deinifyely.  Which is what I texted someone in lieu of the word "definitely."  My mom brain is on a new vocabulary train and everyone needs to roll with it.  Speaking of train..

- Marathon training!  My pre-training days are over, and I am officially on the official schedule of the official race.  I am by no means the power-legs that I once was, but I am still giving a good game on effort.  Oh yeah, also that one night I really pushed myself and I thought I ran at least five miles, and I was SO proud, and I came home and it was just over 3.  And I walked a lot.  HAHA!  Ryan keeps telling me that once we establish the basework of our running, we can do this.

- BOXING.  I am going to my first boxing class tomorrow.  I am so so so excited!  I visited the gym this week, and a nice girl gave me a tour and talked to me for a long time.  Basically a lot of heavy bags hang from the metal rafters and the class participants each get behind one and pummel that thing.  And then they have a ring for competition practicing.  No to that.  But yes to running through the rows of heavy bags like Pocahontas in a corn field.

And with that, I know I have more, but boxing class is early....  So g'night.

(But for the record, I feel SO good right now.  And released of so much of the gunk that's been causing me heavy steps.)

Gold medal moments freewrite, the end.

Upward and onward,

Guys, I no longer have an inventory of selfies to add as my post-script since I've had a baby .  Gosh, I hate the thought that I am becoming less narcissistic. 

Adios amigos!

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The small of things inside the thick of things

At 5pm, I logged out of my email accounts and closed my laptop.  Time for the weekend!  Office closed.  Then I plugged Pandora into our surround sound, and I got to work cleaning and dancing, while I carried Charlotte with me from room to room in her rocker.  She was thoroughly entertained by my twirls. 

It has been a charged week for me.  Charged couple of weeks.  Charged.... while.  I'd like to say I'm still held within the postpartum experience.  Meaning, I keep high-centering with my emotions.  The term "helpmeet" has really tugged tight with literal meaning in our household, as I've fallen into Ryan time and time again for his listening ear and kindness, and he helps me.  And I am just as grateful for the friends who have welcomed my thoughts with safety.  I am always and forever a person of deep emotions, love it and hate it.  And with all the hormones of delivering and nurturing a baby, my sensitivity alerts have heightened, so I am capable of taking in the smallest peeps, understanding the most subtle of gestures and whimpers from my baby.

So that attuning with greater sensitive awareness means I am one incredible mother.

But holy cow,
I am so overtaken by the rest of the world.

I am so easily flooded with stimuli.  News.  Pictures.  People.  Responsibilities.  No matter how much I try to purge and release and shed and talk through it, I feel only ounces of ease.  I don't understand what's happening within me a lot of the time, just that I feel flooded and heavy.  And we live in a world of a lot.  Satan wants it to be that way.  Loud and boisterous and reactive and over-packed.  It can be so so tough.  I want to say that again ... -  but quietly because of my sweet gentle babe asleep next to me, with one tiny chubby leg propped up on my thigh, with full and beautifully-formed lips pooched out, still doing the motions of sucking in her sleep.  ... -  Emotional overload is SO tough.  So isolating too.  Because expressing and feeling through such overwhelm is a splatter and a clamor of art that isn't grounding or inviting.  And it's so hard to escape.  To hide from.  Satan finds you and weighs you down, however he can, and it seems that motherhood hormones leaves you so freshly exposed.  Luckily I have Ryan and those couple of friends that keep me from drowning.  Even just typing this, I want to cry.  Life isn't sad for me.  Life is just a lot for me, and I feel sad for myself that it is unavoidably that way.  And it seems to keep getting moreso, and I keep wanting everything around me to be less-so.


dig into the moments, and life is really sweet for me at the core.  I have to keep my focus on the small and simple.  At night, when the world tries to swallow me whole, I turn my mind to the smallest places.  I think of Charlotte's little dimpled hands.  Of Charlotte's long, pretty eyelashes.  Of her stuffy nose and little snores.  Of the way she curls into a ball when she's tired.  Of how she pooches her lips and takes in the world with such wide-eyed wonder.  Of her gurgly coos and generous grins.  Of how she shares her little thoughts with this precious little voice.  Of how her little thumb finds its way to her mouth, and she doesn't even realize that it's a part of her.  I think of Ryan's strong big hands holding Charlotte.  Of his sympathetic eyebrows when Charlotte is sad, and he tries to comfort her.  Of his several pairs of shoes by the door, showing every role he's played that day.  Of his love and interest for our bunnies and chickens.  I think of the lights on our front porch that light and protect out property line.  Of all the books that I read while nursing dotting every room in the house.  I'm safe here. 

It is sweet in this little three person tribe, in this little yellow house, in these white winter hills.

Maybe Donald Trump could build a 20 billion dollar wall around me for awhile.

Upward and onward,



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