Jun 29, 2014

Getting Rid of Things.

So the third week of July I am having a garage sale. I have never had a garage sale in my life unless you count all the times my sisters and I played "garage sale" when we were kids. And actually I must stop right here and tell you before I get too far into this story that since I live in New England we actually have to call this selling of my items in my driveway a TAG sale not a garage sale. True story, garage sales are tag sales in New England.

I have never needed to have a tag sale before. I totally know how to not hang on to stuff. I could practically write the book about not hanging onto stuff. I am not into clutter in any little, teeny, tiny way. But my life is changing and Natalie, Tatiana and I are moving to Oregon the first part of August. And as awkward as it feels to have strangers looking at my stuff in my driveway, deciding if any of it is worth anything to them, this tag sale thing has to happen. I am cutting back and simplifying in an extreme way and the need for a tag sale has finally found a spot in my life .

This is hard my friends. I have to look at every single thing in my house and wonder is this going to the;

Tag sale pile?
Or the Goodwill pile?
Or the, "some good friend will want this" pile?
Or the, "this means so much to me that it is worth moving clear across the United States of America" pile? Oh wait, I almost forgot the Craigslist pile.

Some stuff is just worth more than you can ask at a tag sale. Not much stuff in my case...but some stuff. I am excited about this simplifying process but we are talking about twenty five and a half years worth of stuff for a family of seven. Yard stuff. House stuff. Canning stuff. Outside stuff. Toys stuff. Expired medicine stuff....(oops) Book stuff. Craft stuff. Food storage stuff. 

I kept telling myself that this process would not start until after my son Zach and his wife and my grandbaby ended their visit with us on June 23rd. This date felt so far away every time I said it and then boom, it was June 24th and I instantly felt very smooshed with the reality of what I had to accomplish in a mere five weeks. I have been looking around objectively at things in my house for quite awhile making mental lists but nothing prepared me for the reality.

For example, I knew that my brown Ikea corner hutch had all my cd's and cassettes in it but when I actually sat down and started looking through it and sorting I was overwhelmed. I had always been sure that everything in this cupboard was important and necessary but there I was sitting on my hardwood floor staring at a Selena cassette wondering when was the last time I listened to that? The Go-Go's were there too. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack anyone? I had two boxes of cassettes and now.....I have none....but Goodwill has lots. I was ruthless. Taking deep breaths and reminding myself that the next time I felt the need to listen to the Out of Africa soundtrack that I bought while I was at BYU in the Eighties I could surely find it on youtube. And I called myself a "throw away things" girl??

The first day I started this enormous, overwhelming, going to kill me, project I was ALL over the place. I started in my closet and wandered to the basement and the kitchen and had to finally had to force myself to focus. So my closet is done and my cupboard in the bathroom is done.

I am getting rid of pretty much everything in my house. And let me tell you that is so weird. I have spent some considerable time thinking about what I am attached to and why. I have determined that I only have two furniture items that mean anything to me. My white Crate and Barrel hutch is one of them. I worked so hard for that hutch because it was discontinued and the remaining ones were scattered across the country at various outlet stores. I found the top half in Boston and the bottom half in Michigan and when they arrived a little important part on one of the feet was missing and I found that at an outlet store in California. It was epic and I love this hutch and what it reminds me I can do when I put my mind to it. Besides it is the only piece of real, not Ikea, not given to me furniture that I own. I am worried it may not be able to come with me. The other furniture item I love is two wicker chairs that my children hate but I love. I got them from a darling older lady in my ward at church that I used to go visit and help. They remind me of her front porch, sitting there, and chatting. I like things around me that have a story or a memory and the hutch and wicker chairs do that but the rest of the house just reminds me of Ikea :) I do love my kitchen table and it has a great story but it is too big and I no longer need it so I am doing the next best thing and give it to a dear friend who I know will love it, entertain with it like I did, have good conversation around it like I tried to have, and carry on the story.

I need to find the perfect home for my house plants. I am so sad these can not come with me but I am not taking a car and they will not survive a week in a moving van so they must stay. I have a teeny tiny jade plant that my dear friend Gail gave me from her jade plant and I really want to keep it. I also have this spider plant that a lady at work gave me when she heard my silly story about how I had a spider plant that I unknowingly watered with a glass of Dr. Pepper while thinking it was a cup of water...yes, Dr Pepper kills plants :) I love that this sweet lady not only listened to my story but took action and took some of her spider plant and re-potted it for me. There are other plants but these two have stories and you know how I feel about stories.

I am sure this is all going to work out splendidly in the end but I would be lying if I did not mention that there are some days I long for some support as I manage this all in between working and keeping up the house and the yard and meeting the emotional needs of everyone in the house and on missions. Not someone to fix anything because even though it may not appear that I am fixing to you I actually am....no I just long for someone to share with...... Everyone loves to share packing and moving and tag sales right? :)

Jun 23, 2014

Could I Persuade You?

On Thursday night while I was at my second library job at the community college a student randomly expressed to me as she was leaving that she was having a horrible time trying to figure out what she should write a persuasive paper about for her English class. She then proceeded to ask me what she should write it about....I thought in my head, "oh dear, is there any way I can persuade you not to ask me this question?" But on the outside I smiled and dove in to the conversation. I asked her what she felt passionately about and we jokingly discussed some possibilities. But as I suggested ideas to her she kept making the face that everyone on the planet would recognize as..."super nice try but um, no." I could quickly see that she and I felt passionately about different things. As soon as she left the library I snatched up my book that I write my thoughts in and I scribbled three questions:

What could I persuade people about?
Have I ever even persuaded anyone?

So I sat there, at my desk, in the very quiet library, and I thought and I thought about these questions that I had written down. Have I ever convinced, converted, or influenced anyone? I have done a lot of the, "appealing to reason" part... a whole bunch of the prevailing, advising and urging but I am not sure that when it comes to the actual end of the persuading process I have actually ever persuaded someone to feel as passionately about something that I do. Isn't that what persuading is? Getting someone to feel the same way you do? Or getting them to at least try to feel the same way you do? Some people are so good at getting you to try something or do something you might never have done. Like Dr. Seuss he wrote a whole book about persuading someone to eat green eggs and ham. Do I want to be the kind of person that can persuade people that my way is best? Do I want to be a walking magazine ad or a commercial for what I feel passionately about? I know this topic is most likely simpler than I am going to make it but this blog is not called Overthinking Everything just because :)

Once I actually focused on persuading I quickly realized that our entire lives actually seem to be about trying to persuade others. If I find something I think is amazing, or yummy, or beautiful, or interesting, or fun I will try with all my might to get you to try it. And I feel way too sad if you won't even try it. And when you do try it I will sit there staring at you waiting until I am about to burst hoping to observe your joy. Yes, I am sure it will be joy :) Why would you not love what I love? :) Why do I even want to persuade you to love what I love? I would suggest it is possibly because we crave connecting and bonding with all our might. The minute you meet someone you are asking questions and searching for a connection without even realizing it.

I tried to think about things I have been known to attempt to persuade people to do....

I spent all last summer at that darn Six Flags New England trying to persuade my 11 year old that rides other than the carousel had the potential to be fun. I did not ever win this persuading battle. I wanted her to experience these rides and "have fun". Yes, I know, have fun according to me :) Her idea of fun was different. She does not feel passionately about roller coasters like I do :)

I sat in couples therapy for a few months trying to persuade someone to see things and I failed at that persuading gig too.

There is the most amazing cupcake shop in our town and I am constantly trying to persuade people to go there because I can not imagine a happy life without these fabulous perfect cupcakes.

I wish I could persuade everyone that being ten pounds overweight is the best thing ever.

Right now I have my darling 15 month old grand daughter visiting at my house and I am amazed that I forgot how much time and energy we spend persuading our babies that they do want to eat what we are giving them, they do want to sleep, they do not want to eat something off the ground, they do like getting their diaper changed, and they do want to play somewhere other than the stairs.

Then my mind realized that as a mom of seven my life has consisted of constant persuading. I persuade them to:
get up
brush their teeth
take a shower
wear deodorant
change their clothes that do not match
that yes, the date on the milk carton is past this particular day but it does not really mean it is not still good :) not hold the cat before they leave for school because they will get cat hair all over themselves
to do their homework first
to do their jobs
that they will like what I cooked for dinner
that bedtime is at ten
to try extracurricular activities
to be nice
to wear underwear

But in my mind I know these are all just little persuadings and the question that still haunts me is, Have I ever persuaded someone about something really important? UGH...I do not think I have.

I figured that first I needed to figure out what is important to me? What do I feel passionate enough about that I could write my own pretend English paper about it and get a pretend A?

I am a sixth generation Mormon and my religion is a huge part of who I am, the choices I make, and the way I look at the world. I love that my religion helps me to know where I have come from and where I am going and helps me to have perspective on this world and what is important. Have I ever persuaded someone that it is worth it to study my religion and pray about it to see if it is right for them?

Gardening is important to me. I could write a pretty persuasive paper about the beauties of gardening. But that is not a very controversial topic so that would be the easy way out.

When I had my seven little babies I felt very strongly about teaching my babies to fall asleep on their own....and maybe even...gasp...letting them do some crying in their bed while they were at it but I am not sure if I could persuade you that it was the right thing for you.

I feel pretty passionately about moderation. I believe if you find yourself being extreme about anything you might want to examine that. Maybe I could write about that?

Oh, wait I know I should write about merging. I feel extremely passionate about people who wait to the last minute to merge. Especially when they have been seeing signs for miles warning them that the time to merge is coming. Could I persuade anyone that thinking of others and merging early would solve all the world's problems? :)

Jun 15, 2014

Cave of The Winds, The Rainbow Bridge, Canada...and Unicorns?

I can not imagine living in this amazing world and not wanting to see all of it that you possibly could. I pathetically live for the moments that I get to go and see things. "Things?" yeah, that means pretty much anything and everything in Jennifer language. What if you stayed in one place your whole life and never saw anything? Nothing to compare? Nothing to help you appreciate? Nothing to give you perspective? No experiences? No views?

What brought this string of questions on? Well, this weekend happened to be, "fill up two cars and, trek across upstate New York" weekend. We spent two days and we visited Palmyra and Niagara Falls. I wish I could remember the first time I saw Niagara Falls. I know it was when my kids were all little and I am pretty sure we lived in Kansas at the time. It had to have been before 9-11 because I remember that getting over the border into Canada was super easy. But I do not remember the exact day or time of year that we went. I do remember the thrill of seeing the mist from the falls rising in the distance but not much else. How does one describe the thrill that comes from seeing a place you have only heard about and read about for the first time? The moment that you marvel to yourself I can not believe I am actually here. I have been to Niagara Falls many many times since that first time and I fear that a lot of the trips have all blended together. Each time I go I discover something new. Some easier way of doing something. Some new lookout. Some new parking spot. Or some new way to spend money. Whatever it is I never get over the basic majesty and wonder of Niagara Falls.

One time when we were at Niagara Falls my Natalie lost a tooth. She threw her tooth over the waterfall because we decided it would be a great story for her to tell for many years to come. Yeah, her tooth fairy is pretty magical :)

There was the time the kids and I were driving from Indiana to Massachusetts on our own and we just randomly decided to stop at the falls.....no planning, no mapquesting just doing it. Which is so crazy for me :)

There was that one time the kids spent the whole time we were there giggling about the the designated spots in the Niagara Falls State Park for smokers to deposit their cigarette butts called "butt depots."

There was the time we saw everything from the Canadian side.

This particular visit we had two goals;

 #1.Get into Canada
 #2. Check out the Cave of The Winds tour.

I had read and read about getting across the border into Canada and I learned that since Natalie and Tatiana are under 16 they only needed their birth certificates and not actual passports. And I discovered that  walking across the Rainbow Bridge was the simplest, the best, and the most beautiful way to accomplish the "see the falls from the Canada side" goal. We got to Niagara Falls at about 9:30 in the morning and thankfully there was no line at the border. We just walked across the very cool Rainbow Bridge stopping to ooohh and ahhh at the great views of the falls. We showed our passports and birth certificates and answered a few questions at the border and that was it. Well, except for the small detail that it turned out that Canada would not let Madeline's husband Carlos into Canada because he is in America on a visa. So we left them behind in America and we headed on our way to take more pictures and do some looking in the Canadian souvenir shops. It has been many years since I looked at the falls from the Canadian side and I have to say it here and now that it definitely is a better overall view. The Canadian side is definitely more manicured, more organized and cleaner. On the American side you can get so close to the falls and I do love watching it rush over the edge and feel the mist. But the American side is definitely not as polished as the Canadian side.

I am not the kind of girl that is into spending money for touristy things especially when we go visit National Park sites. I have never ever been tempted to pay lots of money to go on one of the Maid of the Mist boats at Niagara Falls but the minute I read about the Cave of The Winds tour I had a feeling I could be persuaded. I knew this would be our last time at Niagara Falls for a long time so I decided it was worth it to go out with a bang so I offered to the Baird kids the potential of the Cave of the Winds tour they know how often this happens so they quickly snatched the opportunity. I am so glad we did this. It was amazing. They give you a pair of sandals to wear because at certain points the water rushes over the boardwalk you are walking on. They take you down in a elevator and then after you walk through a tunnel they also give you a yellow poncho to cover your clothes.

We happened to be visiting during the annual seagull convention. It must be where they teach each other how to snatch your food at the beach and drive you freaking crazy. I had never seen so many seagulls in one place. I am so not a seagull fan..... I mean who is? But there was one small game changing detail it was seagull egg hatching time and baby seagulls happen to be adorable. There were thousands.....no, I think it was millions of seagulls and their babies everywhere you looked.....did I mention everywhere? ALL along the base of the cliffs were seagulls and their babies. Can you see them in this picture? They are almost the same color as the rocks.

Once we got done with the exclaiming about the seagulls we headed down the path to the boardwalk. The boardwalk weaves all around next the American falls which are just gushing as fast as they can over the edge. There is mist and deafening water noise. The power and majesty and wind and water is so much that you can not help but laugh out loud at it all. I loved it. There was a place where you had to turn around and back into the spray because the wind and water were so strong. That spot was called the hurricane deck. The water felt so invigorating and exhilarating. This was definitely worth the money. I am one tough customer so if I say it is worth it I hope you would think the same. And the best part? You totally can keep the sandals they give you :)

We had a five hour drive home so we left about one o'clock to drive back across New York. I really wanted to stay and see what the falls look like at night and I really wanted to stay and see what it is like when they shoot fireworks over the falls and I definitely needed to stay and see what it looks like in winter and it would have been perfect if I could have stayed and spent the night in the Sheraton on the Canadian side that overlooks the falls but you know.... no one ever wants to play with me :)
I think this face says it all.

Jun 10, 2014

Back To Bash Bish Falls.

When I first moved to Massachusetts from Indiana I was so excited that I was going to be so close to hiking opportunities. I really could not get over the wonder of it... I mean I am within 20 minutes of some really great hikes. I am so close I could walk to my hike? Hmmm there is a question :)

 I live right at the foot of the Berkshires and I tell you my possibilities for being in some pretty amazing nature are endless. In Indiana and Kansas hiking was so much harder to come by. One of the first things I did when we moved here was to Google "top ten hikes in Massachusetts" and one of the hikes on the list was Bash Bish Falls. Bash Bish Falls is right on the border between Massachusetts and New York. I mean so on the border that you can park in a Massachusetts parking lot or a New York parking lot to get to the hike. It is considered the highest waterfall in Massachusetts. I am not sure how many times I have hiked Bash Bish Falls. I can not even begin to remember how many groups of people I have dragged along with me to this waterfall. This hike has a ton of memories for me. A ton. I have not been to Bash Bish Falls in three years because of all those memories that tend to crowd a girl and remind her. But a few weeks ago I received a text from a friend telling me she would love one last hike with us before our lives change and we have moved on. I had already taken these dear peeps of mine on my favorite arches hike in Chester so we could not go on that one. I had lots of little hikers to think about so I decided it was time for me to put on my big girl panties and face Bash Bish Falls again it was the perfect hike for this group. It is a fairly easy and short hike with a good reward at the end. Four families ended up coming with us on our Memorial Day hike.

 I am the kind of girl who likes to get up and get going early when it comes to hiking. No one has ever liked that part of me....except me. So I very carefully and thoughtfully chose the meeting time of 9 in the morning at the Friendly's restaurant at exit three on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Even though secretly 6 am sounded way better to me. I love the hour and ten minute drive to Bash Bish Falls. You go through some very quintessential New England towns. Stockbridge where Norman Rockwell lived. Great Barrington where all the New Yorkers with money used to come to for summer. So much to see and do in the Berkshires.

I always feel a little anxious when I take a group on a hike. I want them to have a good time. I want everything to be perfect. I knew Bash Bish Falls would be very popular on a holiday and I was hoping I was wrong but I was right. Actually in all my times I have been to Bash Bish Falls I have never seen so many people. I felt like I needed a flash pass to hike. It was very crowded. I can do crowds all day long except when they are in nature on MY hike. They can be at my beach. They can be at my Six Flags. They can be at my mall. Or my movie. Or even my Ikea but not on my, "communing with nature hike" :)

Once you get to Bash Bish Falls there are many trails around the falls that branch off to other places like Alander Mountain. My kids love to cross the water at the base of the falls and climb up the side and follow the trail to the top of Alander. They always get into serious trouble when they do this (like falling into water they can not easily get out of kind of trouble) but there is no stopping them and this time was no different. Madeline, Carlos, and Tatiana headed on while the rest of the group stopped to take pictures, eat licorice, and climb on rocks along with everyone else on the planet. There was even a math teacher there getting taped performing a math rap for youtube for his math students.

No matter how many times I go hiking my heart swells every time I go. The wonder of the world and how beautiful it is. The nine million parallels between hiking and life that run through my mind. The noticing of the different ways people hike and how that is like how we all get through life differently. Some of us race ahead. Some of us look down the whole way. Some of us need encouragement. Some of us think about helping others along the way. I do have a secret longing that someday I could hike with someone who looks at the world the way I do and notices what I do and can give me one smile and we both know what the other one is noticing. Yeah, I just threw some oversharing in with my blog about hiking :)

I would love to post some pictures of my hike but my darling children have managed to delete them from my computer :) So just imagine a waterfall, lots of people, some stone steps leading down to the waterfall with a railing for you to hold onto. A hike that goes straight down and then goes straight back up. Me with three of my dearest friends planning silly pictures which I would never post for you anyway. Remember they are all taller and cuter. My hair is in pigtails and I am wearing one of my childrens BYU sweatshirt, shorts. and my favorite casual black adidas shirt. Oh, imagine I got a few shots of my kids standing where they really should not be if I was a responsible mother that noticed danger possibilities. Don't forget to imagine all the trees and all the shades of green. Listen for the waterfall sound, because you can always hear that in pictures :) Geesh, I should have had you imagine a two hour movie :) Notice all the different sizes of rocks that are everywhere that the child in all of us delights on climbing :)  And there, who needs a camera :)

Jun 8, 2014

The Corkboard Book.

I used to be the best journal writer in the land. As a little kid I always wrote in my journal, albeit things like, "I hate my siblings so much" and "We went to see such and such a movie" but nonetheless writing. In high school I was still writing in that journal, still fairly surface-y things like, "I don't understand why my parents care if I am kissing a boy in his car at the end of the driveway"...yeah, good times :) In college I was still writing in my journal but it was more thoughtful. I was telling Mr Journal a lot of stuff so much stuff that before I got married I may or may not have burned a journal....or two :) Clear until I had at least four kids I was still writing in my journal but by this time it was only about once a month and at this point it was basically just covering what the kids were doing nothing much deeper than that. You see as time went on I had this lurking feeling that I was not being honest with my journal. I was afraid to write the truth. Afraid of what the people who came after me would think of me when they read what I really thought and felt. Not even really sure if I understood what I felt. Without realizing why I let the journal writing quietly slide out of my life.

About five years ago I started this blog. It took a lot of convincing from my friend Kristy to get me to blog. But I had some things happen to me that I did not understand and that was the catalyst that drove me to think so why not just tell a blank blogging rectangle? It is not the best scenario...I mean I love you all but we all know that everyone on the planet can read this and I have been burned enough through my sharing on this blog to be a little afraid of all of you. Even though it is my blog and I should not even care what anyone says or thinks about it unkindness can still tend to encourage one to put up some walls and loose some of ones naive-ness :) But I do hope the blog is some sort of a record of who I am.

Since moving to Massachusetts six and a half years ago I have quietly and carefully noticed that I have a few friends who carry around books full of glorious blank paper. They write whatever they want in them. I have been fascinated with this idea. But of course I could not simply go out and purchase any old blank book. No, no, no the whole process had to be perfect. So I would be in a store and see a book of blank paper I would pick it up, feel it, open it to make sure it truly was blank inside. I would check the price. I would consider how much paper was in it. I would smell it. I would observe if I had a clasp or not and most of the time the book would not leave the store with me. But for some reason one day about three years ago in a Michael's craft store the price, the feel of the paper, the cost, the look of the book all converged with a few stars and an angel singing moment and I bought my blank book that looks like it was covered in cork board....actually I think it may be real cork board it feels very squishy. It was way past time for this book I needed to keep track of some things.

This book and I had a rocky start. I was not sure what it's purpose would be. I wrote some important memories in it and thought it would just be a memory book that would help me move on with my life. So i wrote the memories starting in December of 2012. And as I remembered certain memories I would write them down and date when  I remembered them. But Mr. Corkboard's purpose slowly evolved and now I carry this book everywhere with me just like my friends do with theirs. 

 I write the names of books I have read in it.
 I wrote notes from my divorce class in it.
 I write all sorts of quotes from things I have read.
 I wrote a list of people who have changed my life some for being kind to me and some for being mean to me.
 I have many pages of pros and cons lists.
 I write goals.
 I take notes from church.
 There are some phone numbers in it.
 On one page I wrote, "70% of our happiness stems from our relationships."
 On another there is a quote from Kathrine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story "The time to make up your mind about people-is never."
 On another page I reminded myself to look up the word zeitgeist.
 One page has a list of clothes I am looking for; a basic white shirt with details, dress, two fun shirts, one pair of black shoes.
Another page has a list of places I need to see around here; Franconia Notch State Park, Lake Placid, the Flume Gorge.
Four pages are filled with all the seeds I wanted to purchase this year from the Park Seed Catalog.
The lyrics to the song Brave.
lots of notes from the event I emceed in March
I even have a whole page filled with opposites; girly-girl vs tomboy, quiet or chatty, Eeyore or Tigger, mountains or beach, confident or not, well done or rare.

I love this book. And I hope that someday someone will find this book and the others that will follow and feel a connection to me. I wonder what conclusions they will make about me as they read what I thought was important enough to write down?

Jun 5, 2014

BookPage and Middlemarch.

So once a month at the library where I work a box arrives that has in it a freshly printed stack of a monthly book review publication called BookPage. I live for the arrival of this publication. Once it arrives I am obsessed with getting all my work done so I can greedily start perusing through it. I swear this little publication has introduced me to way too many books. I think the publication must be thirty or so pages long. And it is very full of book reviews....non fiction, romance, mysteries, kids...everything. You probably already got that part :) I try to read every single review even though I do not usually do mysteries, thrillers, romances or popular authors. Yeah, I know you are wondering so what does she read? I still try to give them a chance....just in case. And actually a few months ago I read about a James Patterson book called First Love that was based on James's first love in real life and of course I had to read it even though I have never read anything by James Patterson before. It drives me a teeny bit crazy when people come to the counter at the library to look for a book and they declare that they need something to read but they only read one genre so I figure I better be open minded so I can freely judge them for not being open minded :)

Anyway, I always grab some scratch paper for writing book titles down before I grab my copy of BookPage and sometimes I even have time to just go straight to the computer and put holds on any books that catch my eye. Warning this method can backfire!!! I have had three books arrive at the same time since I am so greedy. I have discovered so many books this way. I know you are wondering how you can get your hands on a copy of BookPage and I am honestly not sure if your library offers them too. But do not fret you can actually just look it up online. Just google BookPage and voila there it will be. Some of the books I end up reading I do not really love but some have immediately shot to my favorites list and not to be dramatic or anything but some have changed my life :)

Just last month I came across a review about a book called My Life In Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. I read the review and felt that familiar feeling surge through me that declares "you have to read this book" but before I ordered it I quickly realized that there is actually a book out there called Middlemarch. I started researching and was stunned to discover that Middlemarch is a classic written by George Eliot. A classic I had never heard about? As I kept researching the accolades for Middlemarch were piling up and I realized before I could read My Life in Middlemarch I had to read Middlemarch. All things in order! So I went to the computer and logged into my library account and requested it. 

When it finally came it was a very big and very yellow book....very in your face...no hiding you are reading this book. Some publishing company somewhere is publishing a series of the classics with bright yellow covers even the edges of the paper that the book is printed on is very yellow. You never know what the book will look like when it comes when you place a book on hold from another library. I love to see peoples faces and hear their comments when I get their hold off the shelf at the library and they say, "wow that is a little book" or "wow that is big book" or "hey that is a weird cover". Funny how we have expectations of our books :)

The book arrived right before I went on my trip to Utah way back in April. I was immediately pulled into the story but it was so many words. And for me the biggest word lover on the planet that is saying something. Every single one of these words meant something.,,,they all had to be there. I am not sure if I have ever read a book like that before. I really had to focus when I read this book thus, Jennifer, the girl who can rip through a 350 page book in one day took 7 weeks to read 898 page Middlemarch. It kept my attention it was just a careful, thoughtful process. I loved every minute of this book. The way "George" writes about people and their reasons for what they do and their lives in the town of Middlemarch was incredible. I confess this book made me do something I have never done before....I copied quotes out of it.... ALL the time. I have a little hardcover book that I carry with me everywhere to write all sorts of things down in and I was furiously copying quotes from Middlemarch into my book. I have never felt like I was the main character in a book before. But I bonded with Dorthea immediately. I had felt everything she had felt. No one had ever expressed it so well. This book has affected me so much that I have been known in the last few weeks to randomly pull my notebook out of my bag and corner friends and read quotes to them from Middlemarch.

Quotes like:

"Will again feared he had gone too far but the meaning we attach to words depends on our feeling and his tone of angry regret had so much kindness in it for Dorthea's heart which had always been giving out ardour and had never been fed with much from the living beings around her, that she felt a new sense of gratitude and answered with a gentle smile."
Middlemarch page 238

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?"

"but you do forgive me? said Dorthea with a quick sob. In her need for some manifestation of feeling she was ready to exaggerate her own fault."

Yeah, I could go on for days...but I will spare you. But if you happen to decide to read Middlemarch I would love to hear what you thought about it.

The best part is that as soon as I finished Middlemarch and begrudgingly gave it back to the library what did I find in the book drop as I was checking books back in to the library? My Life In Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. It was meant to be. I furtively checked it in holding my breath so that it would not get sent to someone else in another library. Thankfully someone loves me and it was not grabbed for someone else and I checked it out...now I just need to find time to read it. 

Jun 4, 2014

Awww Thanks For Asking.

My life right now? At this very minute? Are you sure you want to know? You do? Oh I love you for asking. No, no one else has really asked. Yeah, I know asking someone about how their divorce is going is so awkward but what a good, kind blogging rectangle you are for asking...honestly, you must be the best blogging rectangle I have ever had. You have been so patient with me over the past 43 days as I have turned to you and started a blog only to delete it and post nothing....leaving you empty. Sometimes a girl just does not know what to say about her life and sometimes she just has so much to say about her life that she worries about saying anything. Did you get that? :)

So honestly how am I? I have a pretty awesome peaceful, solid feeling that has been with me since last September when I made this very difficult decision so I honestly, and deep down I am A-okay. But there are days that waves crash over that peaceful solid feeling and try with all their might to toss me around. It is like I am a.. breakwater....breaking the force of the waves... solid and steady I am... but the waves are still trying to move me.

Waves like Mother's Day. Whew....hardest day ever. How on earth could a mom who has asked for a divorce and changed her children's lives forever possibly have a good Mother's Day? I made myself some Angel Food cake and cut up some strawberries and I can not for the life of me remember what I cooked for dinner. I did way too much crying. And fought a lot of guilt. I tried really hard to focus on thinking about my awesome mom and all the amazing women in my life rather than trying to make the day all about me :) It was hard. As mom's our identities are often all tied up in our kids. I have a kid that is struggling beyond belief right now and that made my chances of getting through Mother's Day unscathed even smaller.

Speaking of this child of mine that is another relentless and huge wave in my life right now. He is making choices in his life that are closing doors and windows to the future so fast I can not keep up. Not to sound too cheesy and Hallmark-y but I used to be this child's best friend. I sat up with him night after night when he was a baby. He had miserable allergies and would scratch his skin until he bled profusely. I sat with him in the children's hospital in Kansas City for a week when he was a baby. Took him to doctor after doctor. Fought for him at school with the teachers. Tried so hard to help him find something he was good at. And now I can't reach him. Everyone tells me I have done all I can and he has to make his own choices. Or they remind me about Cain and Abel or other scriptural instances of wayward kids. I appreciate all of their words and know they are right but nothing has yet taken away the sense of failure I feel over this child. What could I have done differently? Why am I his mom? What makes me the one able to handle this? I know there is always hope but there is no denying this is mucho painful.

When I was a kid I was playing in the ocean in San Clemente, California with my friend Sally and a  huge wave started to form. Sally knew better and dove right through the middle of the yet to break wave. Me? Yeah, frozen with fear. That wave tumbled me ALL the way to shore. I still have scars on the sides of my body to prove it. I have never been a play in the waves kind of girl. I love watching them and deeply respect their power but none of that laying on the sand waiting for one to move me.

I am still not good at diving right through that smooth just breaking part of the wave. I seem to always get caught in the already broken, tumbling, angry part of the wave the part that rearranges your swimsuit in an embarrassing manner. The part that pushes your hair into ways you never dreamed it could go. The one that tries to knock you over.

The other waves in my life right now are small but constant. I can not decide which is worse. Big, crashing, one every 15 minutes, over quick waves or that small, never ending, one a minute, chain of waves.....

Newly married children figuring out life, their money, and relationships.
 A house not selling.
Twenty five years of stuff to sort through and unload.
 Where to go.
How to get there
 Moving people that resist moving.
Worrying about the effects of the choice I have made on those around me.
 Longing for someone to understand.
Wondering what support feels like.
 Figuring out how to get rid of a chicken coop and chickens.
Leaving behind a cat.
 Two children who are missionaries who do not know where to come home from their missions to.
Friend who literally carried me through the past three years moving away.
 An uncooperative bathroom scale
Needing a connection
 Healthy families all around me

  Don't get me wrong I am grateful. I am stunned by how much I have learned and how different I am because of these waves. I am going to be one smooth, good looking rock when this is over.