Archive for March, 2011

Great big plans

Today I want to introduce you to two women, neither of whom of I know personally, but both who inspired me this week.

Our first lovely lady is popular LDS musician Mindy Gledhill. I must admit that I’m not very familiar with Mindy’s music or the work of similar artists on Deseret Book’s bestseller list. Because I spent my teen years acclimating my taste buds to raw fish and serpentining my way through subway stations, I missed those classic EFY summers and weekend youth conferences where these musicians are regularly featured.

So while I don’t know much about her and can’t vouch for the appeal of the rest of her work, I’m certainly a fan of Mindy’s most recent tune, “Whole Wide World.” (If you have a minute, well three minutes and 33 seconds, to be exact, I highly recommend watching and listening for yourself.)

What did you think? Personally, I LOVE the message of the lyrics. These positive phrases are a few of my favorites: “I’m going to go and take a chance”; “I’m going to live a crazy dream, impossible as it may seem”; and, of course, “Maybe I’m just a little girl, a little girl with great big plans.”

I’ve been talking with friends, roommates and co-workers recently about discovering your passion and finding a way to apply that in your job, recreational activities and everyday life. I’m far from having unearthed this for myself, but I’m working on it, and this song reminded me to be courageous as I make my great big plans.

Now, at the beginning of this post, I said I wanted to introduce you to two women. You now know Mindy, so let’s talk about Stephanie Nielson, who is featured in the video above, along with her cute kids, at 1:47.

Stephanie was in a near-fatal plane crash, suffered burns over 80 percent of her body and faces a lifetime of reconstructive surgery. And yet, here she is, a perfect example of being brave enough to want to hold the whole wide world in her open hands — even after all those hands have been through.

Just in case you’d like an extra dose of inspiration for the day, I’ve included a Mormon Messages video featuring Stephanie and her husband below.

I hope these wonderful women have given you a little taste of the vat of perspective they served up for me this week.

Slush and spring says snow accumulations will amount to less than 1 inch today, but the flakes are coming down as though they plan to stay.

I was disappointed to wake up to cloudy skies, especially considering that March 20 marked the first official day of spring. Did Mother Nature forget to put that in her day planner?

Despite winter’s attempts to stake its claim, things in my neck of the woods are looking springy.

The weather outside may be frightful, but aren’t these Easter sights delightful?

I came across this quote recently from Doug Larson: “Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”
My ballet flats quickly filled with water as I walked to my car this morning, and I don’t know how to whistle, but I found myself humming the tune of the Bruno Mars song that my alarm clock woke me to.
I’ve decided to consider these signs that spring has arrived.

Welcome home

The routine events of my Saturday mornings tend to resemble bulky brown hiking boots — not in any way thrilling or especially appealing but entirely necessary if I want to make it safely through my mountainous weeks.

Included in these standard Saturdays are activities such as Tilex-ing the bathroom, throwing a week’s worth of clothes into the washer, updating a few stories for work and driving to Bountiful for an hour of Zumba. (If we’re sticking with the brown boots analogy, Zumba would be the neon laces — that little something that balances out the drabness. I just love Zumba.)

Also on this list of exceptionally exciting activities is a trip to the grocery store. I generally go to exactly the same store every Saturday and buy (pretty much) exactly the same items. Occasionally, I throw a sponge in my cart just to shake things up. What can I say? I like to live on the edge :)

Anyway, to mix it up even more this weekend, I decided to take a trip to the new Whole Foods store near my house. All Whole Foods stores are filled with produce I can’t pronounce and bins of bulk items that often resemble dirt, so I knew it would be an exciting trip. And this new flagship store didn’t disappoint.

I was quite impressed with the wide aisles and endless variety of heart-healthy foods. I wanted to take pictures to share with you, but there were store employees in each aisle who were very helpful when I needed to ask a question but not so welcome when I wanted to whip out my camera. I’m pretty sure Whole Foods frowns on snapping shots in the store, so I apologize, but this is all I could get you. I felt silly and somewhat sneaky trying to take this picture. Please accept it as a sign of my dedication to providing at least one interesting element in my posts.

(Though certainly inadequate for this post, I thought this soap did a nice job of capturing the essence of Whole Foods: goat’s milk, exorbitant prices and ingredients that make me say, “Huh?” I had to look up “patchouli.”)

While the items I bought were relatively predictable, there was a part of my experience I could never have anticipated.

As I walked out of the store with paper bags in tow, I had the strongest sensation of familiarity. I had never been to this store before, but suddenly this word came to mind: “home.” It was quickly followed by another word: “Japan.”

I stopped and tried to decide what had made me feel this way, and, after a minute, several elements hit me.

First, the weather. The sky this particular Saturday was heavy and gray. Rain had just begun to pour in thick streams, but the air was warm.
While we only experience this every once in a while around here, it pretty much defines the weather in Tokyo for months at a time. During parts of the summer, the asphalt seems so saturated with water that you expect it to sink like a sponge when you step on it, and umbrellas become as essential as socks and shoes to those who venture outdoors.
I used to despise the rain for the way it makes my hair curl, but on this particular day, it made me smile.

I also noticed that I had parked on the top, open-air level of a narrow, three-story garage (don’t worry, I noticed this as I was attentively driving, too, I just didn’t grasp the significance at the time). As I walked to my car, I realized I was surrounded by mountains of city buildings. This, too, is true of almost anywhere you stand in Tokyo. Initially, the plethora of concrete towers crammed onto tiny city blocks in Japan had made me feel claustrophobic, but I eventually came to find comfort and protection in those same structures.

I had forgotten just how much I missed that sensation of being surrounded until this unusual moment at Whole Foods.

Strangely enough, as I was putting my bags into my car and still reflecting on my Tokyo ties, a Japanese couple walked past, laughing and sharing a few words I could recognize. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I suspect something more was at work.

In Japan, when you return home, you say “tadaima,” meaning “I’m here,” and those who are present when you arrive respond with “okairinasai,” meaning “welcome home.”

As the rain began to bring out the natural waves in my hair, and I looked out on the city from the Whole Foods parking lot, a soft, slow “tadaima” tiptoed through my mind.

And, later, as I pulled away from the building, I’m pretty sure I heard the rain-soaked pavement whisper, “Okairinasai.”

P.S. – I should add that my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the sweet people of Japan. As you can see, I have tender feelings for this wonderful place, and my heart aches for their loss.

Kid-ing around

I like to keep my car clean. Sometimes there’s a water bottle on the front seat or a piece of lint on the armrest, but other that, I try to keep the clutter to a minimum. (In my dreams.)

On Saturday, though, I made an exception and had this great guy taking up some space in the back seat.

Meet my studly 6-year-old brother, Matt. My parents came down to Utah this weekend, and while they spent some time on the slopes, Matt and I had a busy afternoon in Bountiful.
I was 17 when Matt was born, so we haven’t had as much time to spend together as I would like. When I went home for Christmas recently, he said, “I wish you could live with us forever.” Heartbreak.
I miss this little boy every day, so I was thrilled to have him to myself for the afternoon.
We started our outing with a fro-yo stop. (He insisted on this pose.)
Somewhere between holding his hand as we walked through the parking lot and watching him poke his tongue through the empty space between his front teeth, I began making a list of reasons being a kid and, better yet, being with a kid, is so much fun.
When you are a kid …
1. You can put pomegranate, chocolate, peanut butter and mint ice cream in the same cup. You are oblivious to ideal flavor combinations, and somehow you just know that topping that crazy concoction with Skittles and Reese’s Pieces only makes it tastier. (Seriously, friends, it was sugary perfection.)
After we finished out treats (read: Matt ate four or five bites and started asking about the next activity), we headed to the grocery store.
Though far from excited, Matt was willing to indulge my need for bread and some other basics. I made the mistake of listing a few specific items I would be buying, which leads me to No. 2 on my “When you are a kid” list:
2. You trust that people mean exactly what they say. When I told Matt I would be buying bread, milk, paper towels and yogurt, he believed me. When I headed to the produce section for apples, he was quick to call me out. “Hey, those weren’t on the list you told me.”
While this childlike faith can lead to disappointment, I think it’s admirable. What if we all believed what we were promised and held the promisor to it?
Matt’s chiding led me to be efficient in my shopping, and my wallet thanked him.
After surviving our journey through the cereal and soup aisles, we headed to a movie.
If I were a good mother, I would have brought orange slices and whole wheat crackers in my purse for us to snack on. Taking the carefree older sis route, though, I let Matt get a sizable root beer and a massive box of Sour Patch Kids.
Matt thoroughly enjoyed his snack, and he seemed pleased with the movie. I thought the flick was fine — but the company was better.
As we headed back to the car, it was getting cold, so grabbed Matt’s hand and tried to hurry him along. He, however, was eagerly engaged in jumping over every crack in the sidewalk, so we made slow progress, but I just smiled because I realized that “When you are a kid …”
3. Life is good: Everything is a game. Stress is a foreign concept. Questions are always allowed.
Matt helped me realize that adults waste an awful lot of time searching for happiness in the wrong places. All we really need to do is remember what we knew when we were kids: Happiness is right in front of us — right there in the cracks in the sidewalk.