Family, Home, Memoir

Welcome to Utah

Since moving to Utah, we have noticed a few things that are uniquely Utah.

Take this…

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Just a mountain lion in the back of someone’s truck. I’m guessing a taxidermy craft project…

Or this…

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This is an invitation to the our church’s summer activities for women. Yep, hand-delivered to my porch because nearly everyone in my neighborhood is Mormon.

And this…

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American flags lining the streets for every patriotic holiday.

And one of my all-time favorites…

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This sweet lady rode her scooter to Swig for a soda on a 112 degree day in St. George. Utah is the Soda Capital of the Universe.

I am slowly getting educated on the soda culture in Utah.

I’ve seriously never seen anything like it –places like Swig,  Sodalicious and Fiiz everywhere. These are small soda shops (sometimes nothing more than a small shack) with drive-thru windows that sell sodas with flavor shots.

Seriously, I’ve seen cars lined up there at 8 in the morning. And, it’s not as simple as ordering a Diet Coke at McDonald’s.

And each shop has its own lingo. Try saying, “I’ll have a 32-ounce Big Al with extra ice” or “Give me an 16-ounce Endless Summer please.”

What you’ll be ordering with the Big Al is a Diet Coke with a shot of coconut and lime. An Endless Summer is Mountain Dew, Powerade with a shot of coconut.

Yes, Utah is Soda Land. 

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Oh, and this cute lady rode up a pretty steep hill, waited in the line at the window on her scooter, secured her drink in her lap, and then drove back down the hill and into her rehab center. (Yes, we followed her!) Then, she sat under a tree and enjoyed her drink in the shade. I told her she was my hero of the day. She said, “Hey, I can’t drive so I take my scooter and go to Swig every day!”
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My daughter Annie (right) even worked at Sodalicious, but since I didn’t know how to order, I rarely went there. Trust me, I’m learning…

And finally, there’s this…

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The scenery is so different from one end of the state to the other. We can see lush green mountains on one end of the state and red rock canyons on the other. And, it’s all uniquely beautiful.

Welcome to Utah.

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, Home

Welcome Home

Several years ago, I interviewed Jeanne Marie Laskas, a columnist for The Washington Post Magazine, who wrote the weekly column called Significant Others.

I asked her how she came up with a column topic every week for over 14 years.

She said her ideas came from thinking about what moved or touched her that week.

I often ask myself the same question when trying to come up with a blog topic.

What has caused an emotional reaction in me?

The answer to that question came instantly this morning  — the stunning beauty all around me.

I confess I wondered if we’d made the right decision while driving through the desolate landscape near the Colorado/Utah border.

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It felt like we were driving through a Western movie set and I worried we’d get caught up in a train robbery — even though there wasn’t a train in sight.

I scanned the barren landscape looking for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, Doc and Festus from Gunsmoke.

What have we done? I wondered.

All that changed a few hours later when we met our daughter Sara and our friend Peggy at the front door of our new house.

The beauty around us is astounding.

img_6631I’ve never yearned to live in the mountains. In fact, I’ve always felt more comfortable in a busy city.

When I moved to Washington, D.C., my dad couldn’t understand why I wanted to stay.

“When are you moving home to Utah?” He always asked.

The more years that went by, the more Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia felt like home.

Utah wasn’t home to me. It was where our families lived — a place we visited.

But, after 37 years, something changed.

Now, surprisingly, Utah is where we live. 

img_6629We’re not planning to pack our bags at the end of this vacation and go back home to Virginia.

Utah is our new home.

And, we’re learning there’s a lot to love about living here.

At the top of the list are our “significant others.” We’re surrounded by people we love.

So, what caused an emotional reaction in me this week?

Living near our daughters and son-in-law, my mom, our brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and … all this beauty.

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From the News, Home

In Like a Lion

Happy March!

Yesterday I woke up to a winter wonderland, again.

Felt like the movie Groundhog Day.

groundhog1Remember Bill Murray waking up day after day and experiencing the exact same thing over and over?

“I’ll give you a winter prediction: it’s gonna be cold , it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last for the rest of your life.”

When I watched Groundhog Day, I felt a sensation of rising panic in my restless soul.

I hate routine and the idea of living the same day over and over endlessly made me feel like I was trapped in a funhouse that wasn’t fun. (Oh, that sounds like pregnancy..)

That’s how I expected to feel yesterday.

But, as I watched a heavy, endless stream of snowflakes dancing around in the sky and piling up on every outside surface, I actually felt happy, amazed really.

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Here we are in what is often considered the power center of the world — the all-mighty American bastion of democracy, and yet, snow — that innocent-looking white, fluffy soft stuff — manages to shut down the U.S. government, close schools, stop major transportation systems, and keep all the powerful people either stuck at home or stuck in a snowdrift off the side of a road somewhere.

You’ve got to respect the weather, not just here, but everywhere.

In a metaphoric game of rock, paper, scissors, it always wins.

There’s no controlling or subduing it.

What that means is that we need to stop and control or subdue ourselves.

So, yesterday, I thought, I can hate this day and whine about the cold and the cabin fever. I can rant about how it should be spring OR I can enjoy it and honor the fact that weather always wins and make the best of it.

So, that’s what we did.

We shoveled, scraped and chipped ice with everyone else, but we also marveled at the beauty of our neighborhood blanketed in what we hope was the last gasp of winter.

DSC_0001According to Al Roker on the Today show, it’s over. He’s getting ready to sport his pink spring coat.

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I’m ready for his pink suit coat. I’m ready for anything pink and flowery.

I’m choosing to believe Al and believe that yesterday’s storm was the last big hurrah.

Yippee! Spring is on its way.

Let the thaw begin!

I need to get the frozen Christmas decorations out of the planter on the porch.

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Bring on the tulips, the pansies, the daffodils, green grass and leafy trees.

Let’s “march” toward spring.

I’m so ready.

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.”