Sunday, December 29, 2013

Enjoying the Innocence

Jason:  What did you put on facebook?

Me:  I wasn’t really listening while dad was watching the football game earlier.  I posted on facebook that I was surprised to hear a commercial about “reptile dysfunction.”

Jenna:  What’s “reptile dysfunction?”

Me:  That’s when your lizard isn’t working the way it should…

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The price we pay for blue

So it turns out that sometimes the sky is blue in the pacific northwest in the winter.


And that there is a COST associated with these clear skies.


We’ve realized that when the skies are gray and thick with clouds, they serve as insulation.  It was so interesting to notice last winter that often the low temperature during the night and the high temperature during the day were only 10 degrees apart.  Every now and then there was only a 5 degree difference. 

But if it’s clear at night, or sunny during the day? 

Well then, all temperature bets are off.


Friday, December 6, 2013


Over the last few months I read an interesting book called Positivity written by a professor at UNC.  In her research she discovered that “experiencing positive emotions broadens people's minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine.”

I love the idea of positivity, and I love the thought of increasing positivity in my life trying to achieve the 3 to 1 ratio of positive moments that she says enables people to flourish in their lives.  I’m surprised, though, at the difficulty I’m having making any changes towards that goal. 

At first I thought that I would try to do some meditation (loving-kindness meditation, to be exact) every morning since this was something that her research found was tremendously powerful in adding positivity to people’s lives.  But since we started getting up early to read the scriptures as a family a month ago, I haven’t been able to make a minute for myself in the morning, much less 10 minutes for meditation and time for personal scripture study too. 

It has also been interesting to see how much of my life is lived in the emotional gear of neutral.  Do what needs to be done.  Go where I need to go.  Clean and cook and shop and wash and do it all again.  I suspect that at least some of this feeling of emotional flatness has to do with the ongoing low level of depression I am still experiencing, so hopefully that isn’t permanent.  But still I have wanted to figure out how to increase the positivity in my life.

Then recently I noticed something.  I noticed how really and truly happy I was when, as I was driving around town during the fall, I saw a beautiful tree. 


I decided that while I might not be succeeding at increasing positivity in my life any other way, I could at least work on this.  Instead of noticing the trees and then letting those thoughts slide on out of my mind and returning to my normal thoughts, I made a conscious decision to savor what was so delightful to me.  I noticed the beautiful trees that I passed repeatedly, looking forward to their brilliance.  I took pictures when I could, trying to capture the beautiful colors as well as the happiness they brought me.  IMG_7723IMG_7778

Fall here is long and beautiful and it gave me a lot of positivity mileage before it froze last week and the last leaves turned dark and started dropping off the trees.  But I have been on the lookout for other things that are delightful to me, including odd street names, strange cars, and funny signs.  


Another thing that I love seeing around town are the cranes at Intel.  They are by far the tallest things in our part of town and I can see them from almost anywhere I go.  I’m not sure why I’m fascinated by them—it could be left over from pointing out all mechanical things to my baby boys, I guess, but I am.  Over the last year I have watched as they have increased the number of cranes, including adding one of the biggest cranes in the world over the summer.  That crane is gone now, but I still love to see them when I drive near there. 


The other night on my way home I happened to drive by the cranes and noticed that one of them was dressed up for Christmas.  For some reason in the freezing cold night that just brought the biggest grin to my face, and I decided that I had to try to get a picture.  I had my good camera with the long lens on it, and I stabilized it on the back of a nearby truck. 


So that’s my positivity strategy for now.  Sure, I’m going to keep trying to arrange my day so I can manage some meditation because I think that’s a good idea in general.  I need to review the list of ideas from the book on increasing positivity too.  And for now, I’m going to really really savor the things I see around town that make me happy. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


In October I looked at the calender to try to make an evening appointment.   What I saw scared me.  We had our marriage class every Tuesday night November.   There was something every Thursday night that month.  And I was supposed to be at church two Wednesday nights.  I knew that as the month progressed the calender would full up even more. And it did. 

November just about killed me, and that is no exaggeration. 

These two pictures show how I measure the difference between "too busy" and "under control. "  Far too much of November looked like these pictures.

I've been thinking a lot about November, and the ripple effects of living life at that level of busyness.   I know there are people that are energized by a full calendar, but I am not one of them.  When the calendar gets this busy I feel like I am just racing from one obligation to the next without any time in between to be deliberate about my life and our home, and things suffer because of it. We spend very little quality time together, things pile up everywhere, and we eat way too much pizza. 

Going forward I'm trying to be more careful about our schedule, trying to protect our precious family time better than I have done this fall.  Much of the busyness has had to do with my medical issues from this summer, but I think that November has shown me that if I don't actively safeguard our time together the are many things that will appear to overwhelm me. 

This week starts something new for us--an experiment for our family.   In addition to the regular school stuff,  everyone has a major after-school activity. We have swimming every evening, color guard 2 evenings a week, and wrestling 3 afternoons a week.  Add in the wrestling meets, swim meets, and eventually color guard shows and I start to worry.  My goal is to keep the rest of life balanced enough that things don't feel as out of control as they have for the last 5 weeks.  To pace things well enough that I get my bed made, and even more importantly my scriptures read.

I'll let you know how it goes...