Monday, September 29, 2008

Wall Street Blues: Coming Soon to a Street Near You



I wanted to call this post "Throw the Bums Out!" but decided to go with the "Coming Soon" title listed above. Ether way, things are looking pretty grim, and I just have to go there. Sorry.

I have a few pet peeves about all of this economic nonsense, and I'll start with what Congress did (or didn't do) yesterday. It's my belief that Monday's controversial bill failed to pass because some incumbent Republicans and Dems were afraid they wouldn't get re-elected if they voted for the infamous bail-out. Apparently, huge percentages of their constituencies have been flooding their offices with demands that the bill not be supported. This brings me to a truly puzzling question: Do these people simply not see the overall picture? And if they do, why would they select venting their spleen over preventing our country from falling flat on its face economically? (Which it already has done and is bound to continue doing if our timid, self-serving reps in Washington succeed in derailing this thing.)

Don't get me wrong. I don't like the bail-out bill either. I'm angry at the bail-out, and I'm angry at the conditions that made the bail-out necessary. No one wishes more than I do that we had time to fix this from the bottom up, but the credit crisis makes immediate action a must. I'm big on ideology, but this is a time to be pragmatic. The ideological discussions can come later. 

I want to make the point that I completely understand the whole "not wanting to reward or enable the fat cats on Wall Street" mentality. I've always been a big believer in letting those who make poor choices experience the natural consequences of those choices. In fact, that was my parenting philosophy...and my husband's, too. Our support of natural consequences for our children was unanimous. We did have one caveat, though. In the event the natural consequences generated were dangerous or destructive, we would then do everything in our power to help our kids avoid them, applying appropriate, parent-made consequences of our own instead. This dynamic didn't come around all that often (natural consequences were usually safe), but it did happen on occasion, and we acted accordingly.

The big wheeler-dealers and investment bankers, etc. should be handled the same way. Allowing the whole financial system to crumble and leaving no means of accessing credit for individuals and small businesses is too high a price to pay for applying the natural consequence model of discipline to these greedy gluttons. Instead, limit their pay (they'll hate that), put an end to their golden parachutes (their worst nightmare), and provide more oversight and regulation (the bane of their existence). There's more than one way to skin a cat, right? (My apologies in advance to cat-loving readers for choosing this particular idiom, but it's the best fit.)

I'm also annoyed at the following people or groups in relation to the bill and events leading up to it:  Nancy Pelosi for the pre-vote diatribe that ruffled Republican feathers; any Republicans who allowed ruffled feathers to influence their votes; Congress in general for the Freddie and Fannie debacle and the current blame game in which they are indulging (Republicans and Dems are both culpable, so get over it!); news commentators who, until yesterday, were doing a poor job of explaining the link between the situation on Wall Street, small businesses, and every individual on every street in America; President Bush for being relatively ineffectual (haven't heard his speech yet this morning and hope he can do a better job of outlining the dangers to ALL of us); and Secretary Paulson for not seeing this whole thing coming and taking earlier action. My own husband has been warning of this situation for two years. Why couldn't Paulson see it coming? (That may be a whole other post.)

Two more groups I'm annoyed with...unethical lenders (who made bad loans to enrich themselves) and unethical borrowers (who took out loans they knew they could not afford, simply because unethical lenders were willing to make those loans). Where's the personal responsibility in all this? All I hear are newscasters and journalists bemoaning the fate of these poor, helpless, (implication, stupid?) Americans who were duped by the mean old lenders. I agree that the lenders were way out in left field making these loans available, but no borrower was forced to sign on the dotted line. Come on. Aren't the citizens of the United States intelligent enough to know when they can't afford a big payment? Don't they have enough sense to realize they can't just charge everything they want for the rest of their lives? Can't they figure out that they need to wait to buy something until they can afford something? If not, they'd better figure it out, and they are going to get a serious opportunity to do so under the current economic conditions.

I don't like the bail-out either, but confidence needs to be shored up, and we're in dire straits. My hope (and I'm only marginally optimistic) is that both sides in Congress will get together and come up with something we can all live with. Confidence must be increased, the credit freeze must end, and stability need to be restored, but that will be just the beginning. The next few years will require all of us and our government to tighten our belts, pay our debts, and make some sacrifices for the good of this country. Enough said.

Everything Lost is Found Again

Have you ever lost something? I have, more times than I care to count. And I'm NOT good about it.

Last week, I realized the pictures from my childhood were missing. ALL the pictures. Let me explain. Some years ago, my mom gave each of her kids the photos from our youth...for safekeeping. I knew exactly where mine were, in the brown storage box that used to grace our family room cupboard and now sits on a rack in the garage because my husband likes to keep our house (the inner parts that you can't see) as free of clutter as possible. It's a good thing.

Or at least it was a good thing. Until I couldn't find my photos. When I went to get them from the brown box, they were missing. I wasn't all that worried at first. We have several photo and memorabilia boxes in the garage where Dave has placed them (labeled, of course) on racks. So, no problemo. I'd just look through the other boxes until I located the goods. They'd be on my new photo wall by evening. Easy.

Not so easy. I looked through every box (and a few others) and found not one hint of my childhood pics. Nary a snapshot. But I refused to panic. Dave would find them. After all, he's my organizer man, right? 

Well, he must have felt my pain because Saturday, after returning from a grueling work assignment for church, Dave began to look. I didn't even have to ask. His first impulse was to check the two boxes on "my" rack in the garage, but I told him not to bother. I'd been there, done that. He then spent the next several hours sorting through other boxes. Still no luck...and by now, I was somewhat less than calm. Okay, a whole lot less. I was losing it. I mean, this was my childhood! Every single piece of it!! And that sucker was nowhere to be found. 

To make a long story short (?!), before the day was over I had: (1) compulsively checked every box, closet and cupboard in the house, to no avail; (2) torn apart every box in the garage, again; (3) cried bitter tears and felt really sorry for myself; (4) blamed my husband (at first in my mind and later,verbally); and (5) made sure by my actions and manner that I had no access to the spirit at all as I prayed for help finding my photos. Needless to say, it was not a shining moment for me.

Once my anger died down (leaving the very real sadness that was at the root of it), I had the strangest thought. Look in the brown box. What?! Look in the brown box. Yeah, right. The one I've ransacked more times than I can count. Sterling idea. Check the brown box! In total defeat, I shuffled glumly toward the brown box, envisioning myself now as a bedeviled heroine, a sad and tragic figure who had lost every vestige of her childhood, tormenting herself by going back to search where she knew neither it nor anything else of value could ever be found. Oh, the pathos.

Pathos, shmathos. I found the photos. Yep, there they were. In plain sight. In the brown box I had checked first, last, and several times in between. They were there. In a manilla envelope. Right where they belonged. Relief washed over me. For the first time in two days, I felt completely at peace. My childhood was restored! Life made sense again. All was well. (Though I did have a bit of relationship-mending to do...)

Anyway, I tell you this story because it taught me...on two levels. Level 1:  People are more important than things, even precious childhood photos...and being frantic is no excuse for being fractious.
Level 2: My brown box is analogous to that vital place inside each one of us where we store all the things (like my childhood photos) that matter most in our lives: faith, love, strength, hope, humility, and other spiritual gifts/talents. We know they are there because we've seen them, even added to them. But in our hour of greatest need...when we most desperately want to use them, sometimes we can't see them at all. We look right past them. We fail to see our own treasures and end up feeling empty and defeated. Something precious is lost, and we don't know where to find it. We are overwhelmed.

The message is pretty simple. In this life, we all see "through a glass, darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12). But it is when we look inside ourselves through the eyes of faith that we are able to see most clearly. Everything we need is there for us. Even if it's not visible at first glance, it's available. Our part is to keep hoping and believing, to keep listening to that voice that tell us what we need to know, and to never, never, ever give up.

P.S. Sorry Dave. You are still one fine hunk of an organizer man.  =)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Family Matters: On Making a Photo Wall


How cool is this? I'm making a family photo wall, and it's fun! It would be even more fun if I could find the box of pictures from my childhood that my husband has put somewhere for "safekeeping." Ah well, I'm sure it'll turn up...hopefully tomorrow when he's actually home to search.

I have managed to find great pics of my kids at various ages/stages of growing up, along with quite a few shots of Dave and me over the years, including before we were married, during our wedding reception, and as young parents. (Did we really look that good?...or is it just that we look "not that good" now??) If you know us, be kind. Don't answer!

Anyway, what's really working for me is the assortment of all different shapes, sizes, and colors of frames against the antique white wall. I also like that the frames are made of varied materials, from metal to plastic (that doesn't look like plastic) to woods with various stains. It's also cool that there are photos from 1908 and photos from 2008, which makes for a really interesting look.

I must admit it's a bit hard to arrange them properly. I've moved several frames more than once in an attempt to make the basic symmetry my soul requires look as asymmetrical as possible. Amazingly, I think it's sorta working!

Above the pictures, I plan to hang a long wooden sign with a couplet about families carved into it. So far I'm liking this: "Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall ~ Family Matters Most of All." But I still have to sleep on it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joys of a Good Playlist

Almost three years ago, my husband gave me an IPOD for Christmas. I was thrilled at the prospect of taking relatively unencumbered walks, exchanging my heavy walkman and head-spanning headphones (never even had a discman...) for that little sliver of fun called the Nano and its two unobtrusive earpieces. Needless to say, it was a great trade.

Of course, I was IPOD-illiterate, so one of my sons loaded some music he thought I'd like onto my Nano. I was good to go. And it WAS good, but not as good as it gets. Not even close.

Today a whole new world has opened up for me... 

The wonderful world of iTunes. 

(Actually, I'm just writing about it today. I've been using it for over a year.) As wonderful worlds go, this surely beats Disney, and I am one who loves old Walt and everything he created, especially Disneyland. 

It all began when the same son who has made it his life's work to initiate (catapult?) me into the realms of new technology (the kid who bought us our first DVD player and is now pushing a flat-screen TV) finally broke through my usual tech resistance and got me to agree to a quick tutoring session on my newish iMac. All I could say was WOW! iTunes rocks. Even more important, it "folks." (Don't worry, I'm not going to say it "alternatives," but that's one of my favorite categories, too.)

I am now free to explore any genre of music I like, purchase it for 99 cents, and make it my own. In fact, I've become a self-made talent scout, searching that continually flowing fountain of music known as the iTunes store for undiscovered artists I can claim before anyone else finds them. (I like coming in first.)

All I can say is, I'm sorry I dragged my feet. I'm now an iTunes enthusiast (okay, freak), and among my favorite pleasures are (1) creating playlists that cater to my every mood and (2) burning custom CDs for people, complete with specially selected music tailored to whatever it is I think they will like, need, or swoon over at any given time.

For me, iTunes = fun, fairly cheap hobby.

I have 12 playlists and counting, not including the one I've compiled here, just for you! I should really have it on shuffle, but in order to do that I'd have to uninstall and reinstall the playlist, and I can't quite bring myself to go there. (Yours truly is still no tech whiz, and frankly, it's a miracle I ever got the playlist on this blog in the first place.) Here's an idea. Maybe you could click on a different song each time you visit. Betcha like 'em! (If not, that's cool. Just go to iTunes and find some little ditties of your own.) 

=)

By the way, I'd love to hear which song(s) from my playlist you like most. Feel free to comment here or to suggest new tunes I haven't found yet. I'm always on the lookout.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

The weekend from heaven

It went like this:

1. Friday night my son walks in the door with a surprise visit from San Francisco. I LOVE when that happens.

2. Saturday the same son––and his father––agree to shop with me all day at the outlets. For Christmas! ("Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles...")  Okay, so I love Fiddler on the Roof

3. That evening we attend the stirring baptism of a 21-year-old man. The baptism happens to be performed by his childhood friend, a newly ordained priest who introduced the new convert to the gospel and was only recently baptized himself.

4. The confirmation on Sunday, if possible, is even more moving than the baptism.

5. And the new member's testimony is even more moving than that.

6. Two Laurels sing a gorgeous counterpoint rendition of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."

7. Talks by the high council rep and his wife are terrific. (He tells a great new story I actually haven't heard before.)

8. Two of my favorite women teach Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society (one is a substitute). Both lessons inspire and motivate me.

9. The cold I can feel coming on finally succumbs to Airborne. (It does too work. For me, anyway.)

10. Fall arrives! I can smell it.

And Thanksgiving is just around the corner. 

A perfect weekend.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blog hearts knit together in love

I love to see the interaction of women in this blogging community. I've only been a blogger myself for a couple of months, but I have witnessed some beautiful sharing of support and understanding. My first experience was in happening upon the blog of a young mother who had recently lost a child. She opened herself so generously and with such grace in her writing that I began to feel as if I knew her in a "real world" sort of way. Apparently, so did others, and the number of people flocking to read her posts has grown daily. It's clear that they visit the blog both to nurture and to be nurtured, at a deeply spiritual level.

Within a week or so of finding my first "blog friend," I became aware of other young mothers in the same circumstance who had found her as well and were now meeting and supporting each other. They continued to share with all of us on their regular blogs and then formed an "angel" blog, where they limited the readership to grieving parents, basically forming an online support group. At this point I believe some of them have even gotten together in person. No doubt it's wonderful to be able to look into the eyes of a parent who really knows what you're feeling. I thought this was a perfect example of "Wherefore, comfort yourselves together, edifying one another, even as also you do" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Finally, you're probably aware of Stephanie Nielson, whose blog has delighted readers all over the country and whose recent plane accident and subsequent burn injuries to her and her husband have given birth to a veritable army of bloggers actively raising money for hospital and rehabilitation costs. Support for the extended family began as emotional and spiritual support (which has continued) and became financial and temporal support. How inspiring that well over $100,000 has been raised by people from all walks of life and all levels of financial ability or disability...and in a time of economic recession! It has lifted my spirits every day to be reminded what people are capable of doing for one another in a world where, too often, the eye and heart are focused inward. (I am not exempt from this tendency, by the way.)

So here's what I'm thinking. We can help each other like this in the "real" world, too. Granted, some of us are pretty good at helping our friends, but I'm thinking about the friends we haven't made yet. We can give them what they need as well. Here's the catch, though. They have to help us, too...help us know what their needs are...and maybe that's not so easy to do in person. It certainly does take a leap of faith. On a blog, we feel kind of anonymous. Maybe we can express feelings or needs that we wouldn't normally put out there. The thing is, if we did manage to put them out there, as we more easily seem to do in the blogosphere, we'd be giving others a better chance to know us, care for us, and "be there" for us (and vice-versa).

I'm not saying it would be easy, but (to coin a phrase) it just might be worth it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beware of Brain Shrink!

According to an Oxford University study, my brain is shrinking even as I speak (write). Whatever. Why is this phenomenon occurring? Because I'm overweight! If I were a vegetarian as well (the other "at risk" group), I'd probably be drooling all over my computer, which has seemed a little "damp" lately, now that I think about it. 

I'm not kidding here, people. These scientists conducted memory tests, brain scans and physical exams to determine this edifying/horrifying piece of not-so-great news. What's worse, the loss of brain mass in women carrying a few too many extra pounds increases 13 to 16% for every point by which their BMI (body mass index) exceeds 27! Not that I even know what my BMI is, but YIKES!!

As if it weren't enough being semi-unsightly, now I have to worry about losing brain cells, too. This is not good, because I like my brain cells (what's left of 'em, anyway) even better than I liked my pre-pregnancy/menopause body! I like them so well, in fact, that I may just have to give up my latest guacamole and chips craze and get on the fish and veggies bandwagon. Fish is "brain food," right? I mean, connect the dots. It's swimming (sorry, couldn't resist) in vitamin B-12, the very nutrient vegetarians whose brains are on the shrink seem to lack in adequate amounts. 

Anyway, it's certainly something to think about. I might even  have enough brain mass left to ruminate.  =/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin/Charles Gibson Interview

I've been so busy working on my new website that I just now took the opportunity to watch this interview in its entirety. (Before, I had seen only excerpts.)

I'll be honest and say that I approached the viewing of this encounter with some trepidation. To put it mildly, I was not pleased when McCain chose Palin over Romney. Having said that and since I am still leaning toward McCain as my candidate, I was hoping to feel good about her.

My review of the interview is mixed. I'd be lying if I said that I'm not uneasy about her obvious lack of expertise/knowledge on foreign policy. It's fairly astonishing that she was unaware of the so-called Bush Doctrine because I (not exactly a political afficionado) was completely aware of it, as it seems any reasonably informed person would be. She also fell a little too easily into the traps Charlie set for her when he asked yes or no questions on policy decisions that were not so black and white (like whether the US should have the right to go into Pakistan with or without that country's permission in order to pursue terrorists). I would rather she had refused, as Hilary often has, to comment on a hypothetical. A question like that has to be placed in context before it can be answered credibly, in my opinion.

It's also clear that she was initially disingenuous about her stance on the "Bridge to Nowhere," and while she managed to put a fairly good face on that in the interview, I would have preferred more candor from the outset. Nor do I like (and this is being a real nit-picker now) the way she occasionally lapsed into folksy language, dropping her "g's" and changing "thinking" to "thinkin'," etc. I'm a great believer in the use of formal language in professional situations. Not that this would be a deal breaker for me, but it did add to the sense of concern I have about her candidacy in general.

Part of me still wants to root for her because maybe she is, despite some of her failings listed above, much of what she appears to be...a "pit-bull" soccer mom...one of "us"...a fighter who is just being "real," wants to shake things up in Washington, and has the gumption/brains to do it. Frankly, I hope she is that person because it would allow me to vote for McCain if I continue moving in that direction after seeing the debates. (One of my complaints against Obama, by the way, is that he has refused to do the town hall meetings that I prefer.) At any rate, my current misgivings are causing me to reserve judgment on Palin and to hope like anything that Biden really goes after her in the debates and she is able to somehow stand up to it and impress me. 

Why do I not just go for Obama? Three main reasons. One, because I'm a believer in more state and less federal government. Two, because I worry about his very liberal background. Three, because he doesn't have enough of a record for me to really feel that I know what he's about. (Same problem I have with Palin, I might add.) Notwithstanding those reservations, it has been a too-rarely experienced pleasure to listen to a political candidate speak intelligently and articulate well. (I also enjoyed this about Hilary.) 

Well, that's it from Granny Sue, still sittin' on the fence in the Golden State.  *sigh*

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All is Well

Here's the whole story, and I'm stickin' by it:

I wake up this morning to one of my favorite kinds of days...a little bit of sun, the beginnings of Fall crispness in the air, and eight or so hours stretching out in front of me with nothing I really "have" to do. Life is good, I tell myself. All is well.

Then I make the mistake of opening the door to my garage. BAM! I am all but knocked out by the powerful smell of fumes strong enough to light every barbecue in town (and several Olympic torches) simultaneously. I jump back with the agility of a mountain cat and close the door to avoid spontaneous combustion. Whew! I am safe for the moment, though my clothes smell like a chemical spill, and I haven't even entered the stinkin' (quite literally) room.

Never one to panic (?), I talk myself through the non-panic I am feeling. Okay. Something's wrong here. (Good eye!...Scratch that...Good nose!) Here's the deal. You need to figure out what this odor is and fix it. (Okay, now we've got a mission statement.) Has something spilled? Exploded? (Impressive analytical skills coming into play now...Sue is on the scent, so to speak.) Suddenly my thoughts turn to my dear husband. Ahhhhh, I think with a sagacity born of experience. Maybe "Dave" has happened to the garage. I'll have to call him and see.

Affixing a smile to my face, I stroll over to the phone (Okay, I run...) and dial his Blackberry. No answer. Of course. He's unavailable. Nowhere to be found. Vanished into thin air (which seems infinitely preferable to the thick-with-toxins air I'm breathing, by the way.) Where's the justice? Undeterred, I try the office number. On comes the recording. Waiting patiently till the end (actually I am wringing my hands by now), I leave what I hope is a semi-sane message. "Dave," I gasp (it's hard to hold your breath when you're talking on the phone), "call me right when you get this." Click.

I brace myself. Looks like I'm gonna have to handle this one on my own. With new determination and no small amount of courage, I walk back through the service porch and stare at the door, thoughts of backdraft running through my head. Backdraft is a fire thing, I remind myself, and this isn't a fire...yet. On that note, and sucking in one last, deep breath of fresh air, I open the door. Ventilation first, I think cleverly, as I push the button that opens the garage door. A few squeaks and groans bring the neighborhood into full view. (I am now officially a polluter, but survival doesn't come cheap.) Undaunted, I move past the heater to the back door. Cross ventilation, I remind myself and fling the door wide, remembering to prop it open with the closest thing handy. Check. Cross ventilation achieved. Next move (my mind is channelling Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot simultaneously at this point) is to detect......THE SOURCE. But all in good time. The smell is beginning to get to me and holding my breath isn't working out real well either, so I abandon all sense of social, civic, or family responsibility and rush back into the house. Asphyxiation postponed, I mutter victoriously (well, as victorious as muttering ever gets, anyway).

I'll give the fumes 15 minutes to air out a bit and then go back in, I promise no one in particular, coolly observing that I have somehow brought the odor back with me into the fresh air sanctuary that is (was) my home. Is chemical disaster seeping under the door?...or are the fumes just so potent they've somehow migrated to my clothing? Either way, it isn't pretty. Pungent, yes. Pretty, no.

I'm debating whether to jump in the shower...cold water only, to avoid opening my pores and letting the toxins in...when the phone rings. It's Dave. In a burst of relief because I sense that I am suddenly much closer to an explanation of the chemical dump that is now my garage, I ask (carefully, so as not to scare him off): "Were you...doing anything...in the garage this morning? There's a really terrible smell in there...like someone poured a bucket of turpentine all over the floor or something. It's reeeaaalllly bad." I cease my inquiry now, eager for his answer as I envision myself not having to navigate the whole garage in my search for THE SOURCE. Silence. More silence. Then his voice..."Really? Hmm. I don't think so....(disinterested pause)...(Better hit this one a little harder, I tell myself.) "IT'S BAD, Dave," I say. "AWFUL. Are you sure you didn't do something out there?" Another pause. (Do I hear him rifling through papers? Is he reading something in my hour of need?!) He speaks just in time to save himself. "Well....now that you mention it, maybe yesterday....when I was getting a brush out of there...maybe I might have spilled a little something. Why don't you go out there, and I'll tell you where to look?" 

I knew it. I KNEW it. Dave is involved (even culpable), but I'm not going to gloat. I'm not going to seethe, either. I am just going to fix the problem. With portable phone in hand, I am directed to a shelf where cans of paint and turpentine are organized into orderly boxes, one of which is sopping wet and steadily dripping into a small swimming (okay, wading) pool on the floor. Voila! Someone DID pour (all right, spill) turpentine all over the garage...or close enough, anyway. And I guess that someone didn't really see a pressing need to clean it up. Unbelievable! The smell is quite seriously overpowering. "Didn't you smell this when you left this morning?" I can't help but ask. "No," the love of my life answers offhandedly.  I then tell my better (clumsier) (more careless) (and waaaaay less olfactory) half that I need to hang up the phone so I can hold my breath and see what I can do to get the stuff out of there. "It's all over my hands already," I whine...(yes, I admit it; I whined. So what? I could have screamed like a banshee, but I chose to go with the whine). "I'm never going to get it off," I continue. (Perhaps my voice has the tiniest bit of an edge to it now.) "I'm going to be smelling this stuff all day."

Speaking in his special calm voice that he reserves for lunatics, wild dogs and me when I can't stand the smell of something in my house, he says, "Wait a minute," and then asks this last worthy question: "Do you want to wash your hands in mineral oil?" I think he means well, so I bite my tongue, decline politely, and hang up.

An hour, a shower, and Sue's best hazmat power later, I am left with a dull headache...a garage that is now bearable (barely)...and a laundry load of smelly towels/clothes. I assume that Tide will take care of the clothes and Time will take care of what I now fondly call the "spill zone." (I have to assume that the smell will fade gradually as the wood dries out, though this may take days in the closed-in space where the "spill" occurred.)

In true pioneer tradition, however (though admittedly I can claim relation to no pioneers at all), I have weathered the storm, braved the elements, cleaned up the caustic chemicals...Okay, scratch that last one (which was probably not a recurring problem on the wagon train), but I do have a blister on my knuckle.

All is well. It really is. (Or at least it will be when I get me some o' Dr. Dave's mineral oil...) 

Hope that sucker (pardon me...magical elixir) is odor-free. Spill-free, too. I'm just sayin'... 

;)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Parenting today

I've just read a fantastic article in Meridian Magazine from Kevin Hinckley (maybe related to Pres. Hinckley?), who has a new parenting book out. Boy, does he hit the nail on the head! 

The url is:  www.meridianmagazine.com/books/080915surrender.html. 

One of the things he talks about is the "new parenting," where it's all about supposedly creating self esteem (through unlimited self expression and frequently undeserved approval) and not enough about feeling comfortable with the idea of imposing and enforcing reasonable limits, thereby teaching self discipline. His point is that one of the natural consequences of exercising self discipline in the world is the genuine self esteem people's reaction to your behavior generates within you. 

Anyway, this is a good and thought-provoking read. Hinckley's negative example of the generation we're raising is the person who tries out for American Idol and is completely shocked and appalled (even insulted) to be told that he/she doesn't have a decent singing voice. 

A more common example (this one from me) would be kids who have no respect for the property or feelings of others because they've been taught by their parents to believe that the world revolves around them. (Self-centered people can be pretty hard to take.) A related problem is this: when kids are raised thinking the world revolves around them, they are more likely to suffer from emotional problems as adults due to the sting of unrealistic/unfulfilled expectations. The world doesn't treat them the way they expected it to (the way their overindulgent parents did), and now they are unhappy with the new rules. Furthermore, they've developed no coping mechanisms for being uncomfortable because their parents always bent over backwards to do all their emotional work for them (or to be so permissive on the home front that emotional work was never required!)

I hope you take a look at the article. It's well worth a few minutes of your time, and I bet you'll like it.

=)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday comes

I'm teaching an especially touching lesson for Relief Society today. (Let me add, to those of you who aren't members of my church, that Relief Society is the world-wide women's service organization for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) 

My topic is Words of Hope and Consolation at the Time of Death, and it's a beautiful one. Yeah, I know. We're teaching it now when everyone else taught it a month ago, but for some reason, our ward is behind. Bear with me.

The point is, I am loving this lesson because it applies not only to death but to all adversities, large or small. I was looking for a good way to close, and I found a conference talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin that really cuts to the chase. After speaking in some detail about the crucifixion and the resurrection (specifically referencing that darkest of Fridays when the Savior was humiliated, bruised, and lifted upon the cross), Elder Wirthlin said this:

"Each of us will have our own Fridays–those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death–Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, in this life or the next, Sunday will come."

What an impressive man he is.

The poem that will follow Elder Wirthlin's words (I always end on a poetic note) is one I wrote a long time ago for my second book, but it really fits. It's called The Promise, and since I said at the inception of this Sue's News, Views 'n Muse blog that I was going to actually share my "muse" sometimes, here it is:

The Promise
c1999, Susan Noyes Anderson, Awaken Your Spiritual Power

"Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting  light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isaiah 60:20).

The sun will rise each day, and night will fall.
We here can only wait, and watch, and see.
It is not ours to tamper with the flow
Of nature, nor mistrust her majesty.
'Twas other hands, not ours, whose heav'nly light
Kindled eternal splendor in the skies;
Another whispers peace unto our minds
When darkness looms before our faltering eyes.
And listening, we somehow come to know
That in the midst of darkness, even then,
He sends the moon and stars to light our way
and promises the sun will rise again.

Sunday always does come. That's the promise. And boy, am I grateful for it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th













I can't let this day go by without writing a few words about all of the innocent Americans who were killed seven years ago today.  Amidst all the loss, I am always reminded of the incredible courage and selflessness exhibited by so many people who reached out to help one another when their own lives were at stake, their own hearts broken. Like December 7, 1941 (the bombing of Pearl Harbor), the day of September 11, 2001 will "live in infamy"... but it will also live in unity and grace. The outpouring of love among the citizens of our country was a testimony to all that is American, and the bravery of heroes like the New York firefighters and police, the passengers of United flight 93, and just ordinary men and woman comforting each other on the streets was no less than a triumph of the human spirit.

We have much to be proud of as Americans. May we always strive to honor our dead by living up to our privileges as citizens of this magnificent and resilient country.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Cool" service project


We did a pretty neat service project tonight at Relief Society. Some of us made camo-colored neck scarves with cooling beads in them for the marines. (I like to cool off that way myself, except that I use a gel pack wrapped in a dish towel. A GREAT look, as those who know me can attest...) Okay, maybe not.

The rest of us made a bunch of special occasion greeting cards for the soldiers to send their friends and families. Who needs Hallmark when you have the Relief Society? Now the troops will be able to go find what they need in our upscale card selection, packed in cardboard boxes for their "shopping" pleasure. (Admittedly, the ones I glued looked a little less upscale than most, but hey, I did my part, right?)

Anyway, it was cool to actually do something (anything!) for these guys and girls that work so hard for us. I was especially excited about the neck scarves, which I think will be very much appreciated in the 130-degree weather. (Yep, that's how hot it is in Iraq right now. 130 degrees! Can you imagine?) And with all that gear on, it must be waaaaay more than stifling.

So kudos to everyone involved in the planning. It was a good time...and a good idea!

=)

Monday, September 8, 2008

I LOVE surprises!

The cute girl pictured above is far more than just a beautiful bridesmaid. She also happens to be my daughter-in-law, Heather, and she is a very easy person to love. Today she brought a smile to my face (for about the zillionth time since my son found her...) by sending me a heart-shaped, silver pendant that says "This Grandma is loved a lot" on it. How thoughtful is that?? And it's not even my birthday either, though it is a special day...now.  

Just wanted to state for the public record that this pendant is loved a lot, too...as is the very special young mother who sent it.

You're the best, Heather. I love  you! (And big hugs to Carli for helping pick it out!!)

PS. It looks good on me. 
PPS. Yes, I'm already wearing it .  =)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

McCain's Speech

Well, I still have to hear the debates and town hall meetings, but I'll say this: McCain is definitely a patriot, and I feel myself leaning his direction again. I thought he seemed very "real" tonight, which is always refreshing in the political arena.

By the way, I was watching the speech on MSNBC and was really turned off by how blatantly pro-Obama they were being in their commentary. I mean...do they have to be so obvious about it? Answer: apparently, yes!

Okay, no more politics...until the next time, that is. But I'll try to give it a rest.

Honest.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Governor Palin

Well, following my borderline rabid post earlier about McCain's choice of running mate, I now make this comment: Governor Palin just took the first step (a fairly decent one, I might add) toward winning me over. 

Without going into detail, I liked most of what she had to say tonight, and I liked the way she said it. She seems to be a go-getter who has already brought about some important changes in her state. Pretty impressive, but I still need to know more.

So far, so good. 

=)

Resurfacing for a Moment

Hi! Just thought I'd come up for air, after immersing myself totally in the new website, to check in with my former obsession: THIS BLOG (soon to return as my future obsession, once the website is a wrap). 

It's been an interesting journey so far. I was trying to describe the feeling of collecting all of my work over the years, organizing it, and putting it in a "safe place" to my son, Matt. To tell the truth, words failed me, but the whole exercise is and has been very cathartic. It's like spring cleaning, times ten...or maybe a hundred. (I have a lot of poems, LOL.) Perhaps it's similar to an artist having a piece of his art mounted, framed, and hung...but I'm not sure that's quite it either, as I've never felt like this about having my individual poems and books published. 

I don't know; there's something about the cumulative nature of this collection and its completeness that appeals to me––and the artistic license too, in a way. Having things completely your way is never really possible in a book because you're always constrained to a degree, either by the publisher or the bottom line. There is no "bottom line" on the internet! Of course, I am constrained by the availability of free clipart! So you can't win, right?

One thing I do have total control of, though (and I LOVE total control), is what will go on the site and what will not. I'm getting to create, piece by piece, a home for my body of work, my creations. Hey, that's what it is...I am getting to make a home for my poetic progeny. Seriously! I just figured it out. (Blog=free therapy session.) Didn't I say in my last post that keeping the people (and I'm now adding, poems) I love "safe" is one of my three greatest obsessions? And now they're all going to be under one roof...the published with the unpublished! What could be better?

Nothing, of course, but equally interesting has been reading over poems I haven't seen for years and savoring all the memories that go with them. I guess you could say I've been getting in touch with the various incarnations of myself...from young wife, to new mother, to harried soccer (basketball) mom, to the oft dreaded role as mother of teens, to the even more frequently dreaded (unfairly so, I've come to believe) "empty nest" mom, to the veritable plum of the mom experience: grandmothering. All I can say is, it's been quite a trip.

I've also been able to get in touch with life experiences that have nothing at all to do with mothering. (Yes, these really do exist!) Spiritual experiences, health challenges, emotional growing pains, psychological struggles, evolving relationships...all are implicit in these poems, some of which I am not even putting on the site because they are too personal, but most of which I am happy to share.

Anway, thanks for the free "session." You can check the site out at susannoyesandersonpoems.com. (I have my own domain now, so you don't need to put the "homestead" in anymore.) There are over 100 poems on there already. All under one roof.  =)

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