Archive for December, 2011

End-of-year evaluations

“Are you thriving?”

That’s the question a sweet friend posed to me in a Facebook message yesterday.

This friend is a woman who has lived in at least half-a-dozen countries, who was forced to bury her oldest son four short years ago, and whose physical beauty is surpassed only by her ability to craft soul-exposing sentences. Her words and her example have forever altered my understanding of dying and living.

With all of that said, the profundity of the question shouldn’t have surprised me. Something as common as, “How are you?” would have been a betrayal of her brilliance and sensitivity. So while I wasn’t surprised, I was certainly intrigued.

Am I thriving? What would “thriving” look like in my life? Would it require a handsome husband, children worthy of a page in a J. Crew catalog and a sprawling home in The Hamptons?

Sigh.

Or would it mean the perfect career — a place at Real Simple‘s editorial table — and an apartment in New York?

Perhaps.

Maybe these things would help, but I’m beginning to believe that “thriving” has less to do with status and more to do with simple satisfaction.

Did you have a surprisingly delicious slice of watermelon for lunch today? (I sure did.) Maybe that means you’re thriving.

Did you run into a high school friend who still knows how to make you literally LOL? Perhaps that has an impact, too.

Did you notice a row of houses decked in particularly charming twinkle lights on your drive home last night? (Again, I speak from experience.) I think that helps.

I haven’t decided on a definite response to my friend’s question, and I’m still trying to sort out exactly what it would take for me to answer in the affirmative.

However, I think this beautiful view of the Salt Lake Temple from the window of our company Christmas party sure had a positive impact on my state of being today.

Now it’s your turn to reflect on your year, week or day. Are you thriving?

Parking stall service

Parking garages are not my favorite place to be at night. They tend to make me jumpy, which past experience has shown is justified.

So when I reached for my car door handle last night and saw a man pop out from behind the car next to me, I felt my adrenalin kick in.
Luckily, I quelled the fight-or-flight instinct long enough to hear the poor guy explain that his battery had died, and he had been hoping someone would come along to help.
I hated to burst his bubble.
In addition to struggling to whip up a soufflé (or a sandwich, for that matter), I am also not incredibly skilled when it comes to automobiles. I’m religious about taking my car in for oil changes, and I recently shelled out a significant amount of money for a new charcoal filter. (Yes, they do exist. I promise.)
I tend to stick to the waiting area at Jiffy Lube, though, so my knowledge doesn’t extend far beyond wiper fluid.
When this nice guy asked for my help in jumping his car, I agreed, but I warned him that I wouldn’t know how to do much more than put the key in the ignition.
Even if he was incredibly disappointed by my confession, he didn’t show it. In fact, he walked me through what he was doing as he attached the cables, for future reference.
About 20 or 30 minutes and one phone call to my car-expert co-worker later, we got his car started. (It turns out it was suffering from more than just a sluggish battery.)
As I waved goodbye to my new acquaintance, I realized I wasn’t feeling the least bit annoyed or inconvenienced by the evening’s events. Yes, I had made plans that would need to be adjusted, and I was starving, but I didn’t mind.
I felt as though even my motivation hadn’t been entirely selfish. I hadn’t help this guy in the name of karma — knowing that something similar will inevitably happen to me next week and I’ll be wishing for a kind stranger. And I didn’t do it in the hope that it was a cosmic meeting that would lead me to my future spouse. (That tends to be a single person’s motivation more often than I care to admit.)
I’m not patting myself on the back here at all. On the contrary, I’m certain I’ve overlooked many similar opportunities recently. I’m simply saying I was actually grateful for this experience.
Sometimes “the spirit of the holidays” just seems like a nice greeting-card phrase, but I’m feeling it especially strong this year. Maybe it’s the smell of pine trees (or a pine-scented candle, in my case) that’s getting to me. Maybe it’s a desire to compensate for the chilly air by sharing a warm smile.
Regardless, last night’s car incident turned into a wonderful reminder of the everyday opportunities this season brings to serve. So here’s to little moments that infuse the Reason back into the season.

Flower follow-up

Those of you who have been brave enough (and kind enough) to visit my blog on more than one occasion may recall my recent post about making glass flowers at Thanksgiving Point.

Because I’m sure all three of you have been eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the final product, I’ve decided to show you my masterpiece. (Please note the sarcasm in both the beginning and the end of that sentence.)
If you were expecting something with distinguishable petals and a standard green stem, I apologize. Maybe I’ll attempt a more literal interpretation when I have more time — and more upper-body strength. Did I mention last time just how tricky it is to manipulate rapidly cooling glass? I suppose it’s similar to the final stages of taffy-pulling — which I’m sure you do all the time, so that comparison made perfect sense :)
Here’s a look at it from another angle.
And, of course, something like this just begs for an artistic shot.
I like to think of this as a grown-up version of making snakes out of Play-Doh. If you have fond memories of that wonderfully squishy, salty (I’m referring to scent here, naturally) medium from your childhood, you’ll enjoy the challenge of molten glass. (And the wonderful folks at Thanksgiving Point take care of the clean-up, which is always the worst part of working with Play-Doh, don’t you agree?)
Because it is a Monday, a day when I tend to do a round-up of the weekend’s adventures, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention one of my holiday outings. I’m afraid I don’t have multiple paragraphs’ worth to share today, but I do have this little snapshot.
When Santa takes time out from his hectic schedule to make a fashionably late appearance at your party, you know you’ve arrived.
Suffice it to say that the enthusiasm and randomness you see here pretty much sums up this weekend.

‘Sometimes I wish I lived in a snow globe’

Pause. I do not actually wish I lived in a snow globe. The sentiment is sweet, but the reality would be unbearable.

I should know. I did live in Rexburg, Idaho, for four years, where the wind never dies down, and snow coats the wheat fields in mountainous frozen layers for seven months of the year.

Do you know what it’s like to have your breath freeze in your throat? It’s as frightening and unpleasant as it sounds.

I do, however, like this new holiday song called “Snow Globe” by Matt Wertz,” which I wanted to share with you today. In fact, I like it so much that when I listen to it, I’m almost able to trade in my associations of winter with slushy, shivering slipperiness for “a magical place” that “feels like home.”