Change, Friends, Home

10 Lessons about moving

I keep a five-year journal , a charming little gem that allows me to write five-line entries for five years.

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Every day, it tells me exactly what I was doing the previous year on the same day.

My daily entries from last year at this time included :

  • Last visit to our home in Virginia. That house is packed with memories. Not sure I can handle any more tears or goodbyes.
  • Signed our closing papers and hit the road for Utah. I can’t believe it.
  • Staying in Missouri.
  • Just outside Denver.
  • Arrived in Utah at our new home. Stood on the deck and marveled at the beauty.
  • Roughing it with a folding table, two lawn chairs and an air mattress until the moving van arrives.

As I read these entries, I thought about everything that has happened and changed in our lives in the last year.

Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned:

  • While moving is a major life decision and a big risk, it turned out to be easier than I expected.
  • At a going away party last year, a wise millennial friend said, “Don’t compare Utah to Virginia/D.C. Just take Utah for what it is.” Best advice ever.  It’s not better or worse. It’s just different. (Thank you Jason McDonald.)
  • There is beauty everywhere. While I love the green, lush world of the East Coast,  I love the spectacular mountains and scenery of Utah.

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  • Being near family is better than I imagined.
  • My Virginia friends are still my friends. I’m grateful for phone calls, texting, social media, and lots of visitors. fullsizeoutput_942

 

  • While I miss the vibrancy and closeness of the Mormon church community in the DC area, I’ve learned there are unique cultural challenges and tests of faith in different places. Again, one place is not better or worse. It is just different.
  • Going to the Outer Banks is still worth it. Even if we have to fly, rent a car, and go less often, it’s definitely still worth it.
  • Making new friends doesn’t mean I’m forgetting my old ones. I can cherish old friends and still make new ones. In fact, it’s essential. We all need friends — near and far.
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Reuniting with old high school friends — “You always go back to the people who were there in the beginning…”
  • Another wise friend who has moved many times in her life told me to give it a year to adjust. She said it takes a year to find doctors, hair stylists, dentists, favorite grocery stores, etc. and to feel comfortable in a new house, new neighborhood, new community. She said not to judge whether I like it until a year passed. She’s right. It requires some patience to rebuild your life in a new place.
  •  Finally, I’ve learned that being happy is a choice. So, I’ve decided over and over to be happy, and guess what? I am.

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Change, Friends, Uncategorized

Old Friends New Friends

One of our friends recently visited from Virginia and said, “I have to admit we’re feeling a little abandoned. It’s like you’re so happy here that you’ve forgotten all of us at home in Virginia.”

Oh, no.

That, my friends, is not true.

Never, ever will we forget you, and never will you be replaced.

While life in Utah is good so far, I’ve definitely been homesick for old friends.

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We’ve been happy to have so many visitors

(If you’ve been a follower of my blog, you’ve read several other posts on how I value my friends. Here, here and here.)

We are making room for new friends because we’re social people, and we love friends.

But new friends and old friends are not the same.

Small talk is the soup du jour when making new friends because we haven’t had time to share experiences and create memories with each other.

So, for now, we are talking a lot about where are are from,  what we do, how many kids we have, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. This is all good.

We are in the land of the friendliest, nicest, most welcoming people in the world.

Utahns are nothing if not nice and friendly.

But being friendly is different that being friends.

Having people be nice to me is different than having friends who know me — friends who know my family, my history, my sense of humor, my interests, and well, my everything.

So, trust me when I say, we miss you. We really miss you.

But, we love being near our families and Utah friends — new and old. That is the real bonus.

These two...
These two daughters..
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this crazy sister…

Last week, I told Doug I felt like it was time to go home to Virginia.

It still feels a little bit like we’re on vacation and it’s almost time to leave.

Being residents here is very different that being visitors.

We are residents now.

We are not on vacation like every other time for the last 30-plus years.

We have Utah driver’s licenses. We’re registered to vote in Utah.

Doug even has Utah license plates on his car. (I’m holding on to my Virginia plates for a little longer.)

We are Utahns.

I never thought I’d be saying that.

Doug had an epiphany the other day and said, “It just hit me — I’m a Utah Mormon!”

Yes, we are both Utah Mormons. And that’s okay.

We used to wonder why people would leave Virginia to live in Utah.

We couldn’t fathom it.

Now we are the people others can’t fathom.

What can we say? Things change. (See this blog on change.)

And, we might be eating a little crow…a little humble pie because after only a month here, we are impressed with Utah.

We’re astounded by the beauty all around us and we’ve met some wonderful people.

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We definitely miss our friends and the familiarity of a place that was home for so many years.

But, change is good — challenging, and a little uncomfortable at times — but good.

Like Mrs. Hughes said in Downton Abbey, “There’s no shame in feeling homesick. It means you came from a good home.”

And there’s no shame in missing old friends. It means they’re good ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends, Religion, Uncategorized

Silent Night, Holy Night

Last night we went with friends to a Christmas sing-along at Wolf Trap, where we sat outside on the lawn, bundled in blankets and coats to sing Christmas carols with thousands of other people who came to kick off the holiday season.

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With all the bad news of the world swirling around us, it was a gift to be in a peaceful place with a massive group of kind, generous people singing songs of joy.

At the end of the evening, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band led us in singing Silent Night by candlelight.

While violence and fear have been pressing down on us, for a couple hours on a Saturday evening, peace and comfort reigned as a crowd of strangers huddled together in groups of families and friends holding candles in the dark sang about a silent, holy night when all was calm and bright.

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I was reminded again today that despite the horrific news and worldly strife, we can find peace when we seek it.

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A dear friend, Ann, gave me a beautiful and precious book by Charles Dickens called “The Life of Our Lord” written for his children during the years 1846 to 1849.

This was a personal book that Dickens never wanted published. It was meant as a tender gift for his children to teach them about his love of Jesus Christ.

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His great, great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens finally decided it needed to be shared with the world in 1934 because it shares his grandfather’s faith, “which was simple and deeply held. And, “Above all else, it tells of his relationship with his family — my family,” he said.

If I I were to write something of singular importance to my family, it too would have to be based on my belief in the reality and power of our true Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Charles Dickens wrote to his children, “I am anxious that that you should know something about the history of Jesus Christ.

“For everybody ought to know about him.

“No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable…”

Dickens recounts Christ’s birth, life, miracles, parables, death, resurrection and ultimate hope He embodies and stresses what seems to matter most to him.

While explaining Christ’s miracles, he said, “I wish you would remember that word, [miracle] because I shall use it again, and I would like you to know that it means something which is very wonderful and which could not be done without God’s leave and assistance.”

“For God had given Jesus Christ the power to do such wonders; and He did them that people might know He was not a common man, and might believe what He taught them and also believe that God had sent Him. And, people, hearing this, and hearing that He cured the sick, did begin to believe in Him; and great crowds followed Him in the streets and on the roads, wherever He went.”

He told his children how Christ chose disciples from among the poor so that he could show that “Heaven was made for them as well as for the rich, and that God makes no difference between those who wear good clothes and those who go barefoot and in rags. The most miserable, the most ugly, deformed, wretched creatures that live, will be bright Angels in Heaven if they are good here on earth.”

Never forget this when you are grown up,” he urged them.

Never be proud or unkind, my dears, to any poor man, woman, or child. If they are bad, think they would have been better if they had had kind friends, and good homes, and had been better taught. So, always try to make them better by kind persuading words; and always try to teach them and relieve them if you can. And when people speak ill of the poor and the miserable, think how Jesus Christ went among them, and taught them, and thought them worthy of His care. And always pity them yourselves, and think as well of them as you can.”

Let us never forget,” he wrote, “what the poor widow did.” In other words, give all you can even if it means you have to sacrifice something for yourself.

Remember! — It is Christianity TO DO GOOD, always — even to those who do evil to us.”

As we enjoy the Christmas season, I hope as we can follow Dickens’ personal pleas to his family to Never Forget and Remember Jesus Christ — our true gift .

 

 

Friends

Friendship 101

Meet my friend, Trina.

Don’t go stealing her away though.

Just meet her and appreciate her like I do.

I am perhaps the most blessed woman in the world in many ways.

One of them is that I have terrific friends.

Trina is one of them.

How do I love her?

Let me count the ways:

1. She is my flower fairy.

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It started when I was labeled with the dreaded “C” word. She came over and planted pansies in my flowerbed so that I could see them every day and be reminded that I could be like the pretty pansies — strong and resilient. They helped me make it through the worst winter of my life.

I love flowers but I’m not much of a gardener. So I rely on Trina to help me. It is a treat to go flower shopping with her because she comes alive in a garden shop or nursery. I mean, really comes alive. Her pulse quickens, She squeals with delight. The array of colors and varieties of flowers and plants are the candy store to the kid in her. You know, the Christmas morning to her inner child.

I’m overwhelmed with all the choices and all the labels about sun, part-sun, shade, annual, perennial, border plant, etc. While shopping for flowers for a big pot on my porch, she says, “Think thrill, spill and fill. That’s all you need to know.”

Okay, so something that is beautiful and thrilling, something that spills over the edge and something that fills up the pot.

Got it.

I mistakenly went without her to get some mums and pansies for fall though.

Mums thrill. Pansies fill. What spills? No time to search for spilling plants so I went with only mums and pansies.

Trina to the rescue.

While visiting her daughter in North Carolina she visited a nursery and discovered — you won’t believe it — spilling pansies.

Yep, in North Carolina they have trailing pansies or “cool wave” pansies.

She was so excited she had to buy some and bring them home. And guess what lucky friend got some of these plentiful pansies?

Not only did she bring some home to me, she planted them. And they are spilling out all over the place in my pot on the porch.

Thrill, spill, fill?

Check.

She even added some spring thrill with some daffodil bulbs to delight me when the mums are gone.

2. She knows how to celebrate.

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Nobody entertains, decorates, crafts or celebrates like Trina.

See a beautiful wreath made of hydrangeas on Pinterest? Call Trina. She’ll get excited to make it, track down the supplies and make it with you.

Hosting a baby shower? Call Trina. She’ll rush over and help you make an enormous diaper cake.

Have a chronic illness? Call Trina and she’ll find a way to make it funny. We once had a party to celebrate diabetes so that we could learn how to entertain using diabetic-friendly food.

Daughter gets elected senior class president? Trina will show up at your house to wait for the results with you. Then, she’ll rush to the store to buy balloons and party supplies with you for an impromptu party in the school parking lot to celebrate.

Hosting a big party? Trina will come early and get to work helping set up.

Trina is so fun and ready to party that when my kids and their friends (including her daughter) once wanted waffles at midnight, they called her to ask her to bring them some. And, she did! (This might put her in the crazy category but that fits too.)

My daughter Sara once said to me, “Mom, why have you been hiding Trina from me?” It wasn’t that I’d hidden her, but Sara had to lose her teenage blinders to discover the gem that is Trina. Now, she says, “It’s not a party without Trina.”

3. Nobody loves to help people more than Trina.

A day is not complete without Trina helping someone. Last week she went to the bakery and found a round loaf of orange bread with a jack-o-lantern face on it. She bought it and said, “I have to give this to just the right person — somebody who really needs something special today.”

This is not an anomaly. This is how she lives.

The motor that makes her run is fueled with the question, “Who needs me today?” She genuinely wants to cheer people up and make them happy.

She takes care of her elderly neighbors, always searching for how she can help them. She takes care of so many people.

And there is not a better mother, grandmother, sister, wife, aunt, cousin, friend in the world than Trina.

When her kids are discouraged, she tells them to forget about their troubles by serving others. And, it works!

Trina is happy when I’m happy; sad when I’m sad; and mad when I’m mad. And she can change the sad and mad with a little silly.

Aren’t you glad to know my friend, Trina?

I’ll share her, but don’t steal her away.

She’s the real deal of a friend that everyone needs.

 

 

 

 

About Me, Friends

The trouble with fashionable friends

I have two dear friends who are total fashionistas.

I won’t say their names, but one starts with a C even though it sounds like it should start with a K; and, the other one starts with a J and ends with the word ann.

Shopping is their hobby, their passion, and their expertise.

I also have a daughter that might be morphing into one of those too.

They exude style and good taste.

I love them. I really do.

But sometimes they just aggravate me to death with their wear-anything bodies and perfect head-to-toe ensembles.

It’s annoying.

They have that mix of good taste and love of shopping, but it’s not so much what they buy, it’s what they do with what they buy that is impressive.

Then, top all that off with the obnoxious fact that everything looks good on them.

And, they make it look so effortless like they just threw on a little something and left the house.

Yeah right.

This is my sense of style -- practical, right?
This is my sense of style — practical, right?

Sometimes I get tired of their stinking fabulousness.

I went to Georgetown with one of these friends this week. She wore white skinny jeans, a striped t-shirt, perfectly coordinated necklace, earrings and bracelets, ankle strapped sandals and oh, just a little pink Prada bag she found for a real bargain.

She’s tall, willowy, and, I’ve never seen her wear the same thing twice except when she was pregnant and shockingly, she may have repeated an outfit once or twice.

I’ve known her for about 30 years.

That’s a lot of perfect outfits.

Like I said, annoying.

A N N O Y I N G.

What I love most is when J-ann says, “You should get some of these because they are sooo comfortable.”

Ah huh. I should pour my round little 5’2” self into something a 5’8” Heidi Klum look- alike wears.

My favorite thing from C was when she kept sending me links to beautiful dresses to wear to Annie’s wedding.

Like. I. Could. Fit. In. Them.

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Me

She asked me what shoes I planned to wear to the reception and I said I hadn’t found any that were comfortable.

“Who cares whether they’re comfortable? Do they look good? That’s all you want!”

Actually, no…

But, shoe love is true love, right?

She’s the one who talked me into getting both pink and orange shoes.

Because those are practical, right?

That’s where the problem lies.

I think, “What could I wear with this? What else would go with it? How often will I wear it?”

They think, “This will be perfect for this… dinner, party or ballgame or whatever.

They buy outfits for every event.

And every day is an event.

I buy comfortable, seasonal basics.

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That works fine for me except when I go places with them.

Can you say frumpy, lumpy and boring?

If I didn’t love them so much, I’d de-friend them both just to keep my self-esteem in tact.

I’ve learned not to compare myself to them in the fashion department because that sucks the joy out of being with them.

Instead, I embrace a little healthy envy, marvel at their style quotient and appreciate the fact that they are helping the economy and teaching me the power of class and elegance.

They live the truth of the Pinterest quote that says, “Life is too short to wear boring clothes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Friends, Home

Home — the acquisition of memories

I’m still enjoying the afterglow of Annie’s wedding.

One of my favorite things about the holidays and the wedding was having my house full of people — my people — my friends and family, including our new addition of a son-in-law.

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A perfect kind of holiday.

I love a full house full of people; a house that exudes happy energy.

I go to sleep happier on nights when our home is  filled with people who make me laugh, think, or just make me feel better because their personalities have enlivened my home.

We’ve lived in this house for 17 years and many of my favorite times have been when our house was full of people playing, sharing, celebrating, and creating memories together.

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I look into the backyard and remember Annie hosting a “field day” with all of her friends or hosting all the neighborhood families for a Halloween party of a chili cook -off.

I remember Sara and Annie and their friends posing for group prom photos on the staircase or playing “capture the flag” all around the front and back yard.  I remember a live band in our driveway and dancing to the “Funky Chicken” with my neighbors at a block party.

One of my friends recently said, “You can never move. This is where we come to celebrate!”

It’s true. We have bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas Eve celebrations that lead to irreverent (but memorable) productions of the Christmas story from the Bible.

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We’ve had dinner parties, craft nights, book clubs, dance parties, garage sales, and sleepovers.

I remember the night Sara had a sleepover and I thought all the girls were sleeping peacefully in the basement.

Sara woke me up about two in the morning to tell me that a little girl’s wire in her braces sprung out of her mouth and she was having a panic attack.

The more the girls tried to fix the problem, the worse it got.  By the time Doug and I were called to the scene, she had a three-inch wire sticking out of the front of her mouth. She could hardly talk or breathe because she was so upset.

Even that memory morphed into a happy one over time. It’s part of our house history –just like the hole in the basement wall that has never been fully explained.

After the holidays, we tried to “purge” our basement storage space of a lot of things we no longer need.

We opened up boxes we haven’t opened for years, and found stories wrapped up in all of them — elementary school reports, videos and photos, way too many books, costumes, trophies, awards, decorations.

They all tell stories of our lives in this house. We even found an elaborate three-month calendar on a big whiteboard that Doug used to keep track of my chemo treatments and drug and shot regime.

Some things are easier to get rid of than others, but in the end, it’s the memories we want to keep — not all the memorabilia. And, there are easier, more space-saving ways to keep the memories.

I love this house, but what I love more is what has happened in this house, and who we’ve become while living here.

Some of my favorite scenes in Downton Abbey are the sweet conversations between Carson and Mrs. Hughes over a cup of tea because even though there lives are spent taking care of a house and a family, the sweetness comes when a pair of dear friends ponder life and love.

And, like Carson so eloquently said, “The business of life is the acquisition of memories, in the end that’s all there is.”

Friends, Personal, Uncategorized

Writing My Obit

Okay, don’t panic about the headline.

I’m not really writing my obituary, and I’m not dying.

I am, however,  thinking about my eulogy and what I would want somebody to say about me at my funeral.

I know it sounds morbid, but stick with me.

A few days ago, I found out about a tragedy in the family of one of my dearest college friends.

His brother and  sister-in-law died in a car accident while their 16-year-old daughter was driving.

She accidentally went off the edge of the highway and struck a road marker, which caused the car to slide sideways and overturn, coming to rest on its wheels in the desert. She and her 19-year-old sister survived the accident. Their 22-year-old sister was not with them on the trip.

Three young girls without their parents.

I attended the funeral yesterday, bracing myself for the depth of sorrow I would feel.

I came away uplifted, inspired, and wishing I had been best friends with or next door neighbors to this amazing family.

When the oldest daughter stood up to speak, I prayed silently for her to have the strength to get through her remarks.

She stood behind the microphone, looked out at the many friends and family that filled the church, and gave one of the most eloquent talks I’ve ever heard at a funeral.

I couldn’t believe she could stand there so poised and articulate at what had to be the worst moment of her young life.

One of the first quotes she shared was from LDS President Thomas S. Monson, “Choose your love and love your choice.”

English: Thomas S. Monson. Photo by Brian Tibb...
English: Thomas S. Monson. Photo by Brian Tibbets (tibbets.org) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She said that quote summarized her parents’ love for each other.

She spoke of a parents who never missed a game, concert, award ceremony or graduation; a father who made up sappy jokes that kept them all laughing, and a mother that cheered so loud and got so riled at the refs that she nearly got ejected from more than one game.

She remembers her mom laughing all the time, her dad giving what little money he had to someone else when it seemed like they needed it more.

She concluded by saying the best gift her parents ever gave her was their LDS Temple marriage which gave her hope that she and her sisters would be with them again as a family.

DC LDS Temple
DC LDS Temple (Photo credit: waynemillerphotos)

The bishop that presided at the funeral did not know the couple and their children, but he knew their extended family.

He said, “I didn’t need to know this couple because their last name tells me all I need to know about them.”

I left thinking about my own funeral and how I would like it to be just like that one.

I want people to know me by my last name because I have lived up to the honor, character, integrity and legacy of faith that is symbolized in my family name.

I want people to say of me what they said of this couple — that everybody that knew them felt like they were their best friends; and that everyone that ever spent time with them left feeling better about themselves.

I know funerals can be sad and depressing, but they can also be full of hope, strength and perspective.

Even though I didn’t personally know this couple, I know them now from the beautiful tributes I heard about them yesterday.

It made me think about what I want people to say about me when I die.

How can I live to earn the kinds of tributes I heard yesterday? How can I be as good as Kendall and Rebecca?

While it might seem morbid, imagine sitting in the pew at your own funeral.

Are you confident you would like what you might hear?

I want people to say of me what they said about this remarkable, loving couple.

That inspires me to be a better mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend.

How about you?