Sunday, October 26, 2008

5 down. How many to go? Now, that is the million dollar question.

I've debated all day whether or not to blog about this. (You can see I have a lot of important things on my mind today :)

I feel like it's a birthday and I don't really want to celebrate it because that means I am getting old... and we just "hyper-down" about things like that, as one of my co-workers would say. But, I also feel like this is a major accomplishment for me and I am DARN proud of it!!

Today marks five years since my mom, brother, father and I pulled onto Charnwood Street in Somerville, MA with my car and a U-Haul (after only getting lost a few times off the highway - which is necessary for all newcomers to Boston to experience so that they know they've really arrived in Boston). And, a new life began.

It was my first time living on my own, not surrounded by 15,000 other Mormons my age living in a college town, and no friends what-so-ever. I came without a job, or a computer to get on the internet to find a job... furniture that I had gotten donated from family and extended family and a mattress from the 1980's (but I was grateful for it all!!). But really, let's be honest, what the heck was I thinking? Looking back on it now - I was crazy, alone, and very unprepared. And I had arrived just in time for one of Boston's worst winters on record for wind speed and temperatures.

But, what kept me here? Or, why did I come in the first place. The only answer I can come up with was faith. I knew I had given my decision a lot of thought, had received a lot of counsel from family and friends... but the thing that got me here and kept me here was FAITH. I had prayed about it and knew this is where I should be. Of course, that didn't keep me from crying as I said good-bye to my mom as she got on the "T" to return to PA after helping me unpack for a few days. And, it didn't keep me from crying many, many times over the next few months. BUT, it did give me the courage to stay and not run... which I had thought about a few times :) It also helped that my dad lives an hour and a half away and I would escape there on the weekends a few times (and to thaw out)!

Our temple president told an amazing story from his own life last night at stake conference about acting on faith. I'll never forget it. "No job, no schooling, no house at where they were going... but he left his good job, picked up his young family of four, and moved many states away because he received an answer to prompting and acted on faith". "Things work out. They always do". Of course, there are parameters to that... but I won't go into those now.

But, five years. I had no idea (and no plan) to be here that long. How many more to go? Now, that's a good question. Someone asked me today if I was going to stay here long term. And, I wanted to shout "NO!" But, wait. Why? On my walk home I thought about it. I do LOVE this city. I think when I wanted to shout "NO" it was more of I HAVE to move on from Somerville. It's where I have lived for the past five years. I moved once, but only two blocks away. This street has been walked by me EVERY day for the past five years. I've watched each season change the trees and have many fond memories of Hancock Street.

The path I walk down. I usually never walk on the sidewalks.
Just down the middle of the street :)

To name a few:
1. The trees that coat your car in pollen
2. The lady that comes and searches through my recycling every week for cans
3. The car with the sticker that says "Please Jesus, save me from your followers" and I want to RIP it off every time I walk by... and then kick its tires
4. The hydrant across the street that's given me $300 worth in tickets (but I fought each one and won!)
5. The crazy neighbors down the street who always have the biggest Halloween decorations I've ever seen
6. Other crazy neighbors... we'll just leave it at that.
7. Street cleaning. HATE it!
8. Moving in and having our nice neighbor help us rig a pulley to get our couch through the 2nd story window. (Picture below... current duplex where I now live. And, yes, three-seater sleep sofa came up through the 2nd floor windows!)

So, yes. A LOT has changed in my life over the past five years. Things I never dreamed of.... like getting my masters degree, becoming a huge fan of the Red Sox, meeting some of the most incredible people, working in probably the best job ever as an elementary school guidance counselor, etc.... I love Boston. I KNOW I need to move on from Somerville... but how far should I go and when... the next town over... or miles and miles away. No rush on that decision... but it's on my mind. "How many more to go?"

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Greatest Show on Earth!

Yep. As of today I do declare the Ringling Brothers "The Greatest Show on Earth!" It was fascinating. I remember going with my dad and brothers during the summer in Rhode Island. They would come to town around the day of my birthday so I always thought I was a little extra special being able to go to the circus for my birthday! I remember just loving the performers and wondering how they were able to flip and fly and tumble the way they did. I also loved it when they would give a program to tell us a little about each performer. At that time, it really was like one big family! The parents were performers and the kids grew up to be ones as well!

This show was no different from my happy memories of the circus in Charlestown, RI. They had constant action going on in two rings for most of the time. People flying through the air, animals (including tigers!!) performing amazing stunts, great music, funny clowns, the list goes on and on. I was captivated by it and I know my friend and her kids were as well! I am so glad I took the opportunity to go and be a kid again, even if I was techincally suposed to be acting like a "responsible adult" :)

Here are the elephants. How can such a big animal stand on such a little thing!

Okay. The best was at the end though. This picture does not do it justice, but a man and a woman were literally SHOT out of this cannon at 65 miles per hour! INCREDIBLE!!!
These were two of the kids (Leo and Cecilia) I was with. THEY LOVED IT! And, I did to. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nope. He's not poisoning the world's peanut butter supply. Worse. Much worse.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a class on Sundays in my church to those who are new members or investigating. I am not a fan of teaching, mostly because I don't feel I am very eloquent (or even make sense) when I speak, but I LOVE the opportunity preparing each lesson gives me to really study the lesson topic.

Today's lesson was on the family. Why Families? Why did Heavenly Father give us the family as the way to organize ourselves on the earth and have roles such as a mother, father, and child. It has been such a fascinating topic to study and research. Because "The Family" and its importance is one of the basic and fundamental teachings of the Church, there is A TON of information available. I could go on and on about the importance of the family, and the roles we each play in the family, but I want this post to be about the Adversary's Attack on the Family.

I found this quote below by one of our church leaders, Elder M. Russell Ballard. While it is somewhat humorous, it makes a strong point.

"When you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense. When Satan wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he doesn’t poison the world’s peanut butter supply, thus bringing the Church’s missionary system to its collective knees. He doesn’t send a plague of laryngitis to afflict the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He doesn’t legislate against green Jell-O or casseroles. When Satan truly wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he attempts to confuse gender and he attacks God’s plan for His children. He works to drive a wedge of disharmony between a father and a mother. He entices children to be disobedient to their parents. He makes family home evening and family prayer inconvenient. He suggests family scripture study is impractical. That’s all it takes, because Satan knows that the surest and most effective way to disrupt the Lord’s work is to diminish the effectiveness of the family and the sanctity of the home.

Look at what he accomplishes when he does that. Couples unhappy in their marriages tend not to give appropriate gospel instruction in the home. They are less likely to be committed to gospel principles in their own lives. Some drift from the Church. Apathy can overcome even active members, keeping them away from the temple and weakening their capacity to be effective leaders and teachers—thus leaving countless lives untouched and slowing the Lord’s work. And the Internet when not properly used is a vicious influence in the home. So we know, without question, Lucifer is the enemy of the family!"

Wow. This quote really struck me because I have seen and felt that influence in my own life without even realizing or thinking that it's really Satan at work. Ugh. I want to resist and fight that. How terrible. Absolutely terrible, but yet, Satan starts attacking us in the littlest ways just to get his finger in the door and then it opens wider and wider.

With the election coming up and the question about what constitutes a marriage and family on the minds of many people and ballots in some states, I see Satan working hard to open the door even more. I wish everyone could band together and fight against this. It's so sad. How disappointed the Lord must be in us. But, if anything, I know I can do my best to do my part to uphold these values and share them with others. This gives me something to think about this week....

I Want To Be...

Personally, I think I have the best job ever (besides that of being a mom)! I am an elementary school counselor and I work with students in Kindergarten, first and second grade. Each day brings something new and it's totally unpredictable when you work with kids. I've heard some of the funniest things from the kids while also being involved in very sad and troublesome family situations.

As a guidance counselor I get to do a variety of things, but one of my main goals is to help each student know that they are important, special, of worth and that they are loved. I teach in each classroom once a week for thirty minutes and love coming up with new material and new activities to teach a lesson.

Recently, I came across this poem. I thought it was very profound and wanted to post it. This sums up who I want to be! I frustrate myself. I get so caught up in some of the little things in this world... and, honestly, what do they matter in the real big picture?! Why do some of the small things that bug me or consume my time take me away from fully enjoying life?

Today, for instance, I put everything aside and went for a walk on one of the most beautiful days Boston has to offer - EVER. It was magical. I stopped to notice flowers, cute porches, changing leaf colors. I said Hi to people I walked by and stopped to talk to an older couple sitting on their porch. I took a few minutes to look outside the bubble that constantly surrounds me forcing me to focus only on myself and was amazed by the beauty, peace and goodness that surrounds me.

I have a vision of who I want to be and this poem is going to be my new daily reminder of keeping life in balance and really thinking about what matters most to me.
Here's to more days like today!

I Want To Be
By Thylias Moss

I want to be wise but not so wise that I can't learn anything.
I want to be tall but not so tall that nothing is above me.
I want to be still but not so still that I turn into a mannequin or get mistaken for a tree.
I want to be in motion but I want the ants in my pants to sometimes take a vacation.
Sometimes I want to be slow but not so slow that everything passes me by.
Sometimes I want to be small but not so small that I am easy to miss.
Sometimes I want to be invisible but not gone.
I want to be all the people I know, then I want to know more people so I can be them too.
Then they can all be me.
I want to be eyes looking, looking everywhere.
I want to be ears hearing, hearing everything.
I want to be hands touching, touching everything.
I want to be mouth tasting, tasting everything.
I want to be heart feeling, feeling everything.
I want to be life doing, doing everything.

P.S. And, can I share more good news!!! My sister-in-law got a book contract with a publisher in the United Kingdom and it's going for auction in Germany this week as well. Congrats BECCA!!!