I recently finished another book that I really liked. Very well written and insightful, however fictional it is supposed to be. The author's moral, under the guise of the heroine, has really stuck with me and I've wanted to analyze its parts, much like a sommeliers would do with a good red wine (not that I have any experience with that whatsoever...just love the imagery of soaking in the fragrance of a thing, allowing it to rest on your tongue while being quiet enough to notice all the ingredients and essences that make it complete).

Forgiveness. The frail beauty of the word takes root in me....I'll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We're each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We've got to forgive ourselves for that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there's an awful lot of gray to work with. No one can live in the light all of the time. ~Gemma Doyle, A Great and Terrible Beauty

I am loving the thought that we are complex and it's okay! Cut yourself some slack for the dark moments, because they are part of the plan! Having trials/tribulation just isn't an option, they are essential and there's no getting around them. If we want to experience eternal joy, exaltation if you will, we must experience the opposite. In the poetic words of Dido, ...pain's the only way to happiness. AND it's okay! In regards to the above quote, I'm not sure if dark and light are necessarily internal, as in a part of my being, but I definitely believe that without the dark moments, we could not distinguish the light. Not that we are cruel or sacrificing--though both are essential to the juxtaposition of what we want beside what we don't want--but we can choose to participate in cruelty or compassion.

To connect my somewhat choppy thoughts: remember that part of the classic Meg Ryan film, French Kiss where Luke has Kate taste some wine then smell some wild mushroom, lavendar, etc., and then close her eyes and taste the wine again? The second time she can recognize the essence that surrounded the vine of the wine's origin, pointing out the flavor beyond the expected. What does this have to do with forgiveness? Like wine ;) I believe we are complex, layered, multi-storied. It's through getting down to the raw essence--beyond the expected or the apparent--that we can really understand ourselves and each other, then that we can see how many amazing options and possibilities we have right at our fingertips. When we realize that WE have possibilities, that our identity isn't just what you see on the surface, it opens up space for compassion towards others. Hence, creating room for forgiveness for ourselves and others.

Christ said, I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. How easily I forget that though I may be producing the grapes, I am only a branch on the vine. The True Vine, the source of life, my connection to the earth and all the essences that make up what is ME, is the Savior. Without Him, we are nothing. How quickly does He forgive? I believe it's immediate--as soon as we ask and He has commanded that we forgive all people. And that, my friends, includes ourselves.

Studio 5

Go here to see my cute sis-in-law in her first TV appearance!

"thank you for being you"

I have a friend who has captured the great gift of appreciation. Today he suggested that I may get tired of hearing about his gratitude. I asked him, "Why in the world would I get tired of that?" His answer included something about being redundant.

I've been thinking about that today. Why is it that gratitude can seem redundant? Is it because we're not used to hearing appreciation and thanks? Are we uncomfortable with sincere praise?

I have a book, well several, about gratitude. This one is called Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life. According to its author, a traditional greeting of the Seneca is, "Thank you for being you." Before I continue with my monologue about gratitude, I must address the topic of being. To me, being has nothing to do with performance, achievement, the world's definition of success, or even habits and actions. To me, being has everything to do with our divine nature as children of God--that is something we have no control over, cannot change, nor can anyone else affect or influence that divine spark which is within and encompasses us. So, when I read, "thank you for being you," what I want it to mean is: I appreciate that you are a son or daughter of God, regardless of what you do for work, choose to do with your free time, where you come from or where you are going. I appreciate that God has placed you in my life for a purpose.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "It seems to me that we often, almost sulkily, reject the good that God offers us because, at the moment, we expected some other good." I cannot ignore the reminders that God is so Good! As I have been forced to slow down, due to unemployment and having to wait for paperwork to come through, I have had a lot of time to think. I don't want to reject the goodness of God! I think that gratitude is the best way to prevent such rejections. I like this quote:

"Beginning to tune into even the minutest feelings of gratitude softens us. If we begin to acknowledge these moments and cherish them, then no matter how fleeting and tiny this good heart may seem, it will gradually, at its own speed, expand."

Isn't that the truth about anything? Starting out with the mere acknowledgment of the small things and as we cherish them, in due time, they indeed expand. I had a therapist who compared love with faith. After that session, I went and read my favorite scriptural passages about faith and replaced the word with love. Maybe it would work with gratitude as well? From the Bible Dictionary in the LDS standard works: "Gratitude is a principle of action and of power"--"All true gratitude must be based on correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results"--"...true gratitude always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action"--"A lack of gratitude leads one to despair..."--"Although gratitude is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a tree."

Hmm...what do you think? Does it fit?

Either way. Thank you for being you!

playing with bears

I had one of the best, if not the best Columbus Day weekends ever (too often un-celebrated holiday). We drove up to Jackson, WY on Friday where we hung out at the Clayton's cabin--meeting new friends and catching up with one great former roommate [m.e. :)]. The temperature highs were pretty low enabling a dusting of white, icy goodness over the Tetons and us.

loving my new kicks. I realized since living at the beach for the last few years I have lost much of my gear. picked these cute things up to reconnect with my Utah-girlness. my feet were so warm. they love the snow.

I know this pic is blurry, taken w/ the zoom on my phone. This little guy was about 50 yards away. Cute little bear tried to climb a baby aspen tree and kept falling down. This was right after a conversation about what to do when charged by a bear. I'm not sure that counts for black bears. He couldn't have cared less that we were there.

Came back to this...

Welcome home! He flashed a warning when I started the engine of 33 degrees. I think Lucky likes the snow! (The coziness in SLC upon my return was pretty great, I will not lie.)

internet shopping

Super excited about the purchase of the 40 oz Klean Kanteen. No more phthalates in my beverage of choice! Don't worry, I got 2 and part of my purchase will be donated to the cancer fund. I love buying pink!

It's not a good habit to open other people's mail. But boxes from places like Melaluca which have been delivered to my parents' house for years just scream "open me." My lack of privacy was rewarded by the opportunity to slather my pucker with this nostaligic lip balm. It's got a new look, but the scent brought back lots of memories of Powell and pool parties. Good times!

Emigration Canyon (aka: I love unemployment)

Ruth's Diner has the best biscuits I've ever tasted...or photographed...

and a really yummy spinach omelet.
My friend and former co-worker, Tara, just purchased a new SLR and wanted to practice. I had my dad's Nikon--which I know nothing about, other than the very basics, but we had some fun anyway.

who knew that there were white alligators that are not albino? probably my nephew. he's really smart.

after the zoo, I took a drive up an unfamiliar canyon and enjoyed some scenic vistas. I must say, though, the Alpine Loop is looking much more colorful.

My last trip to d-land as a So Cal resident.

Bethany flew down to help me move. We spent one of my last days at the happiest place on earth.

Starting the day off right or not so right...either way this brownie sundae tasted really good.

"Is that James' giant peach?"

oh, nope. it's a smelly orange rind with bees buzzing around the middle.

bee bee. bzz bzz.

california screamin'

tower of terror

splash mountain
space mountain, the usually long line. someone found some que entertainment. it's blurry, but yes, that is twilight.
space mountain, the ride
honestly couldn't have picked a better day/time o' year to go. seriously short lines. we did pretty much everything in california adventure, including the bug's life theater and Ursula's grotto where she stole our voices. fortunately, we got them back.