Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Coming to terms with myself: talk, talk, talk

You know what—I like to talk.  Not that I like to talk to myself, so maybe I should say I like to have conversations.  I almost always have interesting things rolling around in my brain (what I’ve been thinking about, what I’ve been reading about, what I’ve been going through) and I’m usually interested in what other people are thinking about/reading about/going through as well. 

Sometimes (often?) I feel anxious about my talking tendencies.  Sometimes when I’ve gone too long without regular talking outlets I’ve ended up verbally vomiting on the first unsuspecting person that comes my way—and that’s really embarrassing.  But even when that’s not happening I can feel uneasy at the disparity between the amount of talking I’m doing and the amount of talking the next closest person is doing. 

[Many years ago I heard a statistic—that women usually spoke about 25,000 words/day while men spoke less than half that.  I don’t know how true this is, but I certainly do seem to have a lot more words than some people.]

Anyway, back to my anxiety.  Because this blog post really is all about me.

One time I missed my book club in North Carolina because I was out of town.  When I got back home several people said something to me about book club just not being the same without me.  And then one book club friend said something that I just loved—she said, “We really missed your gift for conversation.”

Gift?  A gift?  Clearly I had never considered myself “gifted in conversation.”  If I thought about it at all I was more likely to think of my self as “conversationally needy” or “overwhelming to non-talking people” or something like that.  But I would much, much, much rather think of this as a gift.  (While still trying to keep it under appropriate control, of course.)

Recently something happened that made me think through all of these thoughts again.  Two days after Erin’s wedding, (after Russ & Josh had flown home and we had left Jenna to spend an extra week at Cindy Lynn’s house) Jared, Rachel, & I picked up Ken, Alisyn, and Connor and drove with them to central Washington for the second wedding reception.  My motives in this were completely selfish—I had figured out long before that if I provided transportation to this reception that I would get to spend more time with them and that they would come and stay a day at our house before flying back to North Carolina. 

My plan worked exactly as I had hoped.  Hours and hours in the car with some of my favorite people, and no vomiting at all.  (Yay!!)  But here is where the slightly embarrassing part comes in.  I will preface it by saying that I really hadn’t talked to Ken in quite a while—we try to talk every couple of months, but it’s hard to mesh our schedules with the 3 hour time difference.  And while I talk to Alisyn much more regularly, she’d been really busy with last minute details leading up to the wedding.  So there I was, in a car with the two of them (and the three kids, of course, but they were each in their own digital world) for 10 hours.

So I talked.
and talked
and talked.

Almost without stopping. 
The whole day.

All of the pent up thoughts and conversations and long drawn out explanations and everything else you can think of came spilling out of me. 

Don’t get me wrong—they weren’t gagged or anything, they talked too.  But I am enough of a realist to know it was so much more me than them.  And that they were so so so kind to let me keep talking.

By the end of the day my throat hurt.  My voice was all dry and crackly.

But oh—it felt great.  I’d spend 10 hours in a car with Ken & Alisyn anytime!!

I’m still not entirely comfortable with my talking tendencies.  I still worry that I overwhelm people, that I’m not following social cues well enough, that I should be embarrassed about the amount I talk.  It’s been interesting to write about this and see how much concern I have about all of this.  (Interesting—as I looked inside I sampled many stronger words like shame, embarrassment, and anxiety.  But the right word was much milder—just concern.)  It’s definitely something I need to keep working through though.  Here’s a start:

“Hi, my name is Cindy and I’m a talker.”

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Yesterday afternoon I picked up Jenna from the airport.  She had flown in from Salt Lake, where we left her to spend an extra week with Cindy Lynn’s family. 


Since both Jenna and Rachel had problems with their braces while we were in Utah I had made a quick ortho appointment for later in the afternoon.  I was surprised when I saw a text from Rachel (who would have been picked up at school or after school) saying that we could just go without her.  I wasn’t sure what she meant, and figured we would just pick her up at home and so it wouldn’t matter.  But when we drove by the house she still wasn’t there and I was surprised.  That’s when I noticed the other 7 texts on my phone.  Here you go, in the order received.

Rachel: Mom, I can’t come out here is a lockdown at the school.

Rachel: Like a real lockdown and I asked if you could come inside with me and escort me out but apparently not I can’t even leave the choir room.

Rachel: *Lockout*  We can’t leave the school.

Rachel: But we won’t get killed.

Rachel: It’s safe, they just don’t want us to go outside or out of our classrooms.

Rachel: Go ahead and take Jenna to the ortho.

Just about the time I was reading these texts there was a call from the school district informing us that both the high school and the middle school were indeed in a lock-out, and a later call clarified that there had been a threat made against a teacher (is there any more thankless job than a high school teacher??) and that combined with a possible gun sighting had prompted the lockout. 

I’m just glad that it all ended ok.  And that she clarified that she was safe.  Winking smile

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coming to terms with myself: cramming too much in

I don’t know what it is about getting older that has made me less patient with some aspects of my personality.  Perhaps I assumed that by the time I was almost 50 (because I am, after all) I would have matured out of some things and managed to overcome others.  And maybe I have and I just still have so many annoying tendencies that I can’t remember those others.  Whatever the truth of the matter, all I know if that I still frequently wish I could be/feel/do differently.

I had a moment recently though that left me reconsidering my previous impatience with myself and wondering if I perhaps needed to reframe the way I was thinking instead.  So here goes my first effort.

Here’s something that I am realizing more and more about myself in the last several years.  [Thanks to all who have known this for much longer for no rubbing it in my face right now.]  I am not good about analyzing time and planning for it.  I tend to cram more things than are comfortable in a given period of time, especially travel time. 

We’ve known that we would travel to Utah for a wedding in mid April since last fall.  At some point I decided that Russ & I should go to a seminar while we were there.  Then at a different time Cindy Lynn told me that she & Mahon had gone to a great performance of Les Mis (my very very favorite) in Salt Lake and that I should take the girls while we were out there.   I, of course, said sign me up.  Our Utah trip also included (in addition to the wedding which occupied most of a day) a hotel overnight with a brother & sister and a bunch of cousins, a day with Russ’s parents, a Ray family dinner, and not nearly enough time with Cindy Lynn and Kate. 

The Les Mis performance was the afternoon before the wedding.  I still had quite a bit of work to do on the wedding slideshow and I knew that between the wedding and the reception the next day was going to be really full.  As the girls and I drove up to Salt Lake I was mentally kicking myself for yet again scheduling too much into my trip.  Here I was, going to a play instead of playing with Kate.  Here I was going to a play instead of finishing the slideshow.  How stupid was I… Over and over these thoughts played through my mind.

But then we went into the theater and the lights went down and the smoke came up and the familiar strains of music filled the theater.  Three hours later I was wiping the tears from my eyes and hugging my girls and agreeing that yes, this really was the best musical in the world. 

And then I realized something.  I love that we manage to have a lot of amazing experiences.  I am so happy now that (for a reasonable price!!) I was able to introduce Rachel & Jenna to Les Mis.  I realized that sometimes I am willing to trade a calmer more peaceful pace of life for fitting in some extra experiences.  It’s not the way I live my day-to-day life, but I think that sometimes it’s worth it.  So in the future I want to be careful about how I allocate my time, but once I’ve decided that something is worth adding I’m going to stop second-guessing myself and just go ahead and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tulip Therapy

Last fall I bought tulip bulbs.

Several times. 

I mean…


And then one fine day I planted, and planted, and planted, and planted.  And I thought about how they would look in the spring.  And I decided something—that planting tulips was a *super* way to combat depression.  Both being outside all day planting, and the anticipation of the blooming season to come. 

As the spring has approached and the tulips have started to emerge from the ground I’ve been so excited to see them. 

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But then just as the first tulips were starting to bloom, with sunny weather forecast for the next week, it was time for us to leave for our two week trip to Utah.  I was so relieved that one of the tulips I had anticipated being my favorite bloomed before I left.  (I was right—it really was amazing!)


I was really worried that all of the tulips would bloom and die before I got back.  Somehow I just didn’t think it would be the same to have Russ take pictures for me. 

Can you imagine my happiness to find most of the tulips still blooming when I got home on Saturday???

First a mixed bag of tulips truly was that.  (Not a great picture, but it shows the truly random nature of this mix.  And yes, they’re planted by the air conditioner because I ran out of places.)


The tulips in the front of the Japanese Maples looked like they might need another place next year where they don’t clash quite so bad.


The tulips that I’d been so excited for were blooming in full force.


There were tulips blooming all across the side fence in the back—another mixed bunch, but these a little better mix.


Best off all, the very best, were in a big planter tub right outside my bedroom door.  These tulips seemed to me like an incarnation of sunset and I have loved looking at them.


It’s a good thing I did, because today it rained like crazy and the wind blew really hard and then it rained some more.  I’m guessing my sunset tulips aren’t going to be looking so good come morning, so I sure am glad that I got some good pictures.  And that now I know what I have to look forward to outside my bedroom next spring…

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That’s therapy indeed!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy…


A few weeks ago was spring break.  One day I got to sleep in, to sleep in as late as I wanted.  I woke up at 9AM.  I felt great.  From 11PM to 9AM, that’s what it took to make me wake feeling rested.

And this really was no surprise to me.  I’ve known I was a 10 hrs a night gal for a long time. 

But you know we normally get up at 6:30 now to read scriptures every morning before work and school.  And we struggle to get to bed before 11pm.

So the next time I’m wondering why on earth I feel the way I do, why I’m feeling tired and wanting a nap just after breakfast, and why I have to actually have a nap in order to get through dinner without killing someone—the next time I’m going to remember that this is my problem.  9AM.  Or 6:30AM. 

Or rather, the difference between 6:30 and 9AM. 

That’s my problem.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The magic 27th

Two years ago was our 25th anniversary.  Twenty-five is a big deal as far as anniversaries go, you know, lots of expectations for celebration and happiness and wonderfulness.

Ours pretty much sucked.

On our 25th anniversary Russ had already been living & working in Oregon for 2 months.  I was still in North Carolina working on the house, getting ready for the movers to come, counting down the days until we were supposed to leave.  I was exhausted and grieving.  On our 25th anniversary Russ sent Alisyn with flowers for me which made me smile.  One our 25th anniversary I had some difficult personal things happen that were more than I could deal with. 

It was a really hard day.

(I should say it was also a hard day for Russ who was NOT enjoying life as a bachelor in a series of rental rooms in Oregon.)


Thursday was our 27th anniversary.  Twenty-seven isn’t a big deal for anyone.  Twenty-seven is just a mile-marker between twenty-five and thirty.  On top of that I knew that we wouldn’t even be together on our twenty-seventh because I would be traveling back from Utah.  I had zero expectations.

But you know how life can surprise you sometimes?  I have just been surprised.  Because instead of a mile-marker, by the end of the day twenty-seven was an amazing accumulation of unlooked-for blessings.   Blessings that individually would have been appreciated, but together are an unmistakable sign of God’s mercy and love in our lives.  Starting with a positive work review for Russ and “gushing” compliments from his normally taciturn boss and including a new scholarship and a summer job with EFY for Jason, our twenty-seventh was filled up with blessings until they overflowed and left us almost speechless from the magnitude of it all. 

Friday, April 18, 2014



Something that’s been on my mind lately.  (And a lot in the past 2.5 years.)

We are so blessed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We know God’s plan for us includes coming to earth to get bodies and to be tested.  To have trials and to grow from them. 

But I think that sometimes we start assuming that this knowledge should help us circumvent the natural processes of life.  You know, make our trials into not-trials.  Because after all we know that God loves us and that His plan (including it’s trials) are in our best interest, right?  So that pain you think you’re feeling? 

If you had enough faith,
If you had the right attitude,
If you chose to feel differently,
If you thought about things the right way,

You wouldn’t.




Pain is pain.  Grief is grief.  I remember when my mother died (when I was 30, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the details) I thought I would die from the pain of it.  Even though I was 100% certain that I would see her and be with her again one day, it hurt so bad I felt like I couldn’t even breathe, much less keep living.  After a few days I remember thinking—if it hurts me this bad, how do people with no belief in an afterlife handle it?  Because this is almost unbearable.

I was never so grateful as when President Hinckley talked about his grief and pain after his sweet wife died.  He was very open about how difficult it was, and I felt like he was giving permission to grieve to those who felt that a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ made grief inappropriate, unnecessary, or a sign of weakness. 


Do you think you can just leapfrog over difficult feelings, covering them with a thick blanket of “I believe”?  Do you think that those feelings just go away and leave you alone?  I do not.  I believe that, to quote the title of a book written long ago (that I’ve never actually read), “feelings buried alive never die.” 

I believe that feelings have to be worked through and wrestled with and prayed over and thought about and (if you’re a verbal extrovert like me) talked about and that you may need to repeat one or more of processes many time.  I believe that the grief process is very real and must be honored and that we experience it on many occasions in our lives.  As mortals we experience so much loss beyond the “normal” things we expect to grieve for.  Loss of jobs.  Loss of health.  Loss of place and situation.  Loss of friends.  Loss of annual beach trips.  Loss of finances.  Loss of the life we thought we were going to have. 


Maybe there really are some people out there with the ability to will their inconvenient/uncomfortable feelings away.  But if there are, they are the minority.  The rest of us are going to keep having them because this is a part of mortality.  These feelings are part of what we’re learning.  How to have them.  How to deal with them.  What we can and cannot do because of them.  How to teach our children about them.  How to love each other during them.  How to support other people’s difficult feelings so that they feel the space and support to do the work they need to do.


I will be indebted forever to the people who have been with me in my feelings of the last 2.5 years.  I have learned in a new way what it feels like to be truly mourned with, and I hope I am able to show that kind of love as I go forward in my life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Part 2: Operation Survive the Portland Winter

Utah Trip

The next part of my scheme to survive the long, wet and dreary Oregon winter was a trip to Utah for Erin’s wedding.  The kids and I left as soon as we could after their colorguard season was over and made the long drive all in one day.  (No vomiting this time, thank goodness—if you’ll notice, I hadn’t driven to Utah since the vomiting trip last August.)

We packed just as much into this trip as humanly possible.

First, a stop-over in Mantua to see my dad & Ramona.  I had a great visit with my dad and listened to him tell mission stories while Ramona was getting her hair cut.IMG_9308

We were totally impressed by the swing structure they had just built in their back yard.


From Mantua we went to Cindy Lynn’s house where it was all about Kate.


Then, lest we stay too still, we went up to Bountiful for an afternoon with my sisters & a bunch of cousins


and from there went on to an overnight at a fun hotel with a waterslide with some of the cousins.



Rachel, Jenna, & Jared spent the next few days at Andra’s house where she again proved that she is the funnest aunt.


I picked Russ up from the airport and we went to a 3 day seminar at Jeremy’s work.  Jeremy had already taught us a lot of the stuff that we heard there, but there were also some personal things that were really transformative.


When we got back to Cindy Lynn’s house Saturday evening Josh had arrived from Oregon and the whole gang was there.  (These moments where all of my kids are together are really precious to me now that it happens to rarely.)


We drove up to Bountiful Saturday night and spent the night & the next day with Russ’s family.  Josh spent some of that time with grandpa’s wig.


We had a big family dinner at Marilyn’s house.  I just LOVE LOVE LOVE Russ’s family—they are so much fun to hang out with!!!


Sunday night we drove back to Pleasant Grove.  Russ needed to work on Monday and we’d decided that my brother Jeff’s was the best place for that, and that with all of us there it would be too crowded to stay at Cindy Lynn’s.

On Monday afternoon the girls and I went up to Salt Lake to see a production of Les Mis.  It was wonderful and while it made our time there even more hectic I am so glad that now my girls know and love Les Mis too.  Afterwards we did a little shopping.  The girls were both excited to see this.


As we walked back out to the car they were so cute together that I had to take a picture even though it was too dark.  I love the moments that my kids are really enjoying each other!


At Jeff’s house I had to snap a few pictures because this was definitely the obsession of the trip—playing 2048.  There were several moments that everyone was playing it at the same time!


Jeff & Amber’s dog Copper is seriously our favorite dog in the world.  Too bad we can’t clone him.


The next day, Tuesday, was the big day.  Erin & Will’s wedding.  We were so excited, especially once the bridesmaids sashes were done & distributed, recommend-less Cindy Lynn made it into the sealing room, and the slideshow was done. Erin was a beautiful bride and it was a happy chaos outside of the temple.  Being there on this day with our almost-daughter and our almost-family made a heart happy day.

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We spent the next day hanging out with Cindy Lynn & Kate, and then on Thursday we left Jenna to spend an extra week with Cindy Lynn, then picked up Ken, Alisyn, & Connor and headed to Washington for the reception at Will’s house.

What a great trip it was, just packed with fun and therapeutic happiness!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Celebrate the (other) Day

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite Christmas songs is a song by a group called Relient K called “I Celebrate the Day.”  I go around singing it for weeks before and after Christmas.

Today I’m singing about another day, though.  On Tuesday we went to the wedding of our sweet young friend.  I sat in the temple and watched them kneel across the altar from each other and thought that 26 years and 363 days ago it was Russ & I kneeling across the altar in the Altanta temple.  I celebrate that decision every day of my life—the decision to join my life with a man so kind and loving that sometimes I (still) have to pinch myself to make sure that I’m really not dreaming. 

So today, even though I’m driving from Utah to Washington with Rachel, Jared, Ken, Alisyn & Connor, in my heart I’m celebrating that day 27 years ago.  Kind of amazed that it feels like just a moment ago, and bemused that it can seem at the same time that we have been together forever.  And always so so grateful.