Monday, August 31, 2015


    I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration.

 I write everyday, in the morning, during breakfast, but I integrate my story in my head all day long.

  Fear is such a sweet little animal. It cuddles up to you and soothes your angst, whispering that you have cause to be immobilized. Eyes that show pity and entreat to recede. Until…you resist. Then the fangs come out, a snarl escapes, and the threats begin. I received a letter from fear just earlier today.

   Dear Friend,
     I write with the upmost respect for your anxiety. You are in need of security and protection. Do not, do not, I repeat, pursue these false hopes of writing down your feelings. Do not give them heed, They are dangerous. You could be swept away and reveal the nasty truths that really you will never succeed at anything you work on. Well, yes, your friends will pat your head and say what talent you have but they don't want to hurt your feelings. We all want to protect you. Keep you from seeing the whole picture of what you should never desire. You should have finished college if you wanted to succeed at writing. But, you didn't and look how unambitious you are. No drive, and you certainly have no work ethic.
    I warn you. If you continue this pecking at the computer one day someone will attack your supposed honest words. They will not be nice. I will surely show you how strong I am. Don't push me into taking more drastic measures. You are so weak compared to my power.
   Curiosity may be sending you a note. It usually doesn't arrive but she has threatened to show you her wares. She is an unreliable companion. Don't trust her. Stay focused on guarding what you know and hold fast to what is comfortable.
   Your all knowing best buddy,

          Curiosity may be sending you a note. Stay Tuned.

Friday, August 28, 2015


    I can feel very alone. It comes on after I have hustled for worthiness. The hustle is always danced for someone besides my Savior. I hustle to be perceived as a good grandmother, mother, church member, teacher and this dancing in a light that is manufactured for others is not fulfilling. It is a soul sucker. I think I know why I get tempted into dancing. It comes when I have too much much distance from Him. He requires wholeheartedness and so hustling for him is impossible. He sees me dancing and beckons me to stop and listen.
                Come follow me and I will make you whole.

   Grace will take you where hustling won't.

I forget.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


    I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration.

"The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative."

                                          Bruce Feiler

 This requires you to notice and record the details of your life.

   My Aunt Hanni was hugely interesting. She joined an American church in her twenties with her aunt without approval of her family, she survived World War II with her mother, traveled across the border more than once to help her sister get out of Eastern Germany, wrote letters to a German American who she later married, emigrated to the US alone, married an older man in her later thirties and together they joined a polygamist sect. She was the skeleton in my family's closet bur we loved her openheartedly because she loved us passionately.

   She wore her waist length dark hair up in a bun, secured by combs and pins. A tendril frequently escaped and waved in the breeze. To hug her meant you were enveloped in her ample bosom which brought the lovely smell of soap and perspiration to your face. I liked that. She was real, with rock hard opinions yet soft responses.

   On my summer trips to her farm as a child I often stayed for an entire week. Jumping out of my father's car I approached her front door with excitement. A screened in porch preceded the front door. There on the porch table she always had a puzzle, at least a thousand pieces. Off to the right of the doorway was a little couch where we sat to watch the trains go by. We played a game called Guess What Color The Caboose Is. We would give our guesses, red, black, yellow and shout with glee if we were right. Through the front door was a dining room with a beautiful table laid with a handcrafted tablecloth. I made a beeline to the closet under the stairs. There she stashed the toys. Lincoln logs seemed such a new and exotic toy to me. I was raised alone and did not have building toys.
Through a doorway we entered living room which had the comfortable couch and recliner and right above the couch, a painting.

   As a child I looked at this painting often, especially when I was supped to be taking a nap. I yearned to know what was behind the trees along the path. I believe my aunt purchased this painting because it reminded her of her homeland and the Riesengebirge, (Huge mountain range).

  Some weeks ago, while visiting with my aunt's friends they offered me this painting. Luckily, my daughter and I had taken a car on this road trip instead of a plane. We carefully managed to fit the painting in the backseat.

    At home I started noticing how muted and faded the painting appeared. I decide to take a huge risk. I re-colorized the entire image with acrylic paint. It did change the style of art but I like what I did.

    It made me fall in love with the details again. The red roofed huts, reflections in the lake, changing seasons of the trees, and especially the pathway around the lake. As I was painting I decided the pathway went around the whole lake, just like the pathway around my brother's cabin in Colorado.

      This painting now hangs above my mantle where I look at it everyday. I feel close to Aunt Hanni in an intimate, connected way. She would be pleased. Her deepest desire was to see her family happy and connected. Her story is an important family narrative and this painting makes it easier for me to share it with my grandchildren.

  "The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come."
Bruce Fieler

Monday, August 24, 2015


   I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration. 

  Today, I will not go to the bakery. I say that almost every week on Thursdays. I don't need the calories and my grandchildren who benefit from my visit later, with their favorite twice baked croissants, don't need to feel they deserve this treat every week. But then I turn off to the left at the crossroad and find myself, again, at the bakery. They make the best chocolate croissant anywhere. I know, because I've sampled many other bakeries. 

       Today I bring my computer inside to write. The line at 7:30am is long as customers peer into the display cases at the works of culinary seduction. The lights above create a warm glow over the delicate baked goods.  Little frosted cupcakes swirl in poofy skirts with an occasional slice of citrus across the top. I go for the deep brown of, yes, my favorite, chocolate. No one ordering asks for just one thing. We all hope that our greedy order will give the impression that we are supplying an office full of workers. For those of us "traditionally built" we hope that just thinking we will have half of a Danish will get us off the "you should go on a diet" hot seat.

   The owner most definitely has been to France. His buttery pastries are light and filled with air. A short history of the establishment confirms my belief that he has skills attained across the Atlantic. I slide back into the wooden bench trying to find the right fit for my back. Looking around I see the manager knows many customers, maybe not by name but by the familiar face. This is a place you come back to, again and again. It is an artist date for me. A place I visit once a week, far from my own neighborhood, where I can observe humanity yet be a familiar stranger. 
  I often stop at a Little Free Library before crossing the street to the bakery. It is simply a decorative box filled with books. The owner leaves little messages in the box like, "The selection is a little sparse, please bring in some new books." A stuffed animal hides in the middle of the books now and then which adds an element of surprise. Last week I left two paperbacks and the week before I napped a Susan Witting Albert mystery which I'm still reading.

    Technically, this is only my pretend neighborhood, but I come to share and take what is offered. It is part of a my writer's ritual. This ritual includes stopping at the bakery, checking on the books available at The Little Free Library, and gawking in the art store window. The displays of art journals, paints, and brushes can make my little head swirl with imaginings. I really could be in Paris, or London. or anywhere exotic where writers hang out to get story lines. Pictures from these little weekly adventures grace my computer. They are story starters.  Rituals like these surround me with possibilities. Possibilities to see, hear and taste things out of my "normal".

          "Writing requires a flow both inward and outward of ideas, thoughts, and stories."
               On Being A Writer, Kroeker and Craig

Friday, August 21, 2015


   Thinking about writing this week brought to mind my daughter-in-law's compost pile. She made it herself out of discarded pallets. I peered up and over to see what was happening inside. Watermelon rinds, onion skins, celery stalks and pepper tops were marinating together to eventually break down into useable soil. That is how I see my ideas. They are seemingly unrelated scraps of words perculating in a brew that I hope one day will be a paragraph or even a whole blogpost.

       What I find to write about it most assuredly been waiting to rise up. Unconsciously I imagine I have been composing. I heard Ann Patchett, the novelist say this morning,

   "Sometimes it takes a long time for your life to filter down into music." 

   And from Natalie Goldberg,
  "Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil."

  These are worth finding and I hope sharing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Writing Space

I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration. 


      I come through the door, perspiration crawling down my neck and face. Changing clothes happens after I grab my laptop. My hair is wonky, gym clothes clingy but I start by setting up my desktop to write. Images scroll up first as I look through in I-Photo. For reasons I have not entirely scoured out, I can't write if I don't have a good image to precede my words. The image holds colors, textures, and white space that lets me breathe out word images.

   Once I have an image I make breakfast. Yogurt, blueberries with granola often sit by the little table next to my comfy chair. Ah, the writing chair is the best chair in the house. Facing away from the front window it floods me with light but it does not steal my gaze.

  Now I start pecking away at the keys on my laptop. Often I stop and put my hand under my chin and think. Ideas float around me like steam from my herb tea. I don't do caffeine but I do love a warm drink.
 What am I sitting with today?
 What brings me joy and makes me ribbistrate or what is gnawing on my conscience.

  There are themes in my life. I see them because the labels for my blogposts tell me what I write about most. Some are my artful life, my children and grandchildren, books that change my perspectives, and writing. Deeper themes weave through these blogpost labels, needing forgiveness, my reliance on Jesus Christ, not feeling good enough, and holding space for change. I may not have conquered these themes but they do not hold me hostage. Their grasp on my heart is manageable because I write about them. Processing the feelings by writing has made them understandable.

   My writing time is in the morning. Soon it will still be dark. My warm lights will have to be on and I will wear more layers to stay warm. But, there are less layers insulating my heart because I write.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Write

   I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online writing discussion group. We are using  On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig as our syllabus. I am also reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg to inspire my thinking.

  Do I think I am a writer? Nah… Attaching that title to my persona is a bit daunting. Writer carries too much weight. I'm sensitive about how much weight I carry. I have critics who demand authenticity. But I do write this blog and have for three, almost four years. I write because it feels healthy. I can sort through ideas to unpack their contents. It is amazing what tidbits get lodged in the tiny pockets of my mind. Tidbits can chain together to form awesome patterns and reveal themes. Themes give meaning. When I see a theme interweaving through weeks and months I feel I'm on the right path. Really, God shows himself in my writing. I can not leave him out. I am grateful to read the past and see his influence and love in my life. I write.

"Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate. It can give you confidence, can train you to wake up."
                                                                Nathalie Goldberg

Friday, August 14, 2015


   My daughter asked me if I thought I had a fixed ability to learn or if I thought my abilities were open to change and advancement. She was reading a book. A book that explored a fixed mindset and an open mindset. I did not hesitate. I know my capacity has no limits. My desire sets the limits. 

      There is a learning that takes place with the act of faith. It is different from book learning or teacher learning. It involves the Holy Ghost. The wisdom and intelligence that comes from that source is infinite. Faith activates the process and precedes the light. There are three words that accompany the experience. Assurance, Action, and Evidence are words that act like a circle to start the whole thing rolling. Perhaps we act on an inspiration, even though the way is dark. As we step out assurance comes to us through the Holy Ghost. It whispers, go on, and then we act with more confidence. As the light increases and our pathway becomes illuminated we see the evidence that we are making correct action. That brings with it more assurances and in consequence we act again. This is called learning by faith. It works better than learning by teacher or learning by book, although it helps to accelerate the process by having much learning as context to what the spirit reveals.

     I am a novice at learning by faith. But I can testify that it works and because I believe in that source with my whole heart, I feel my learning is not limited to what I can acquire from others.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Planting A Seed

    I am a global learner, which means I look for the bigger meaning, and when I study the scriptures I look for connections between chapters to see themes and patterns. This produces insight for my life and often answers questions that linger in my head. I find such connections between Alma 28-42.
   At the end of chapter 28 I hear the editor Mormon make a strong statement.
   "And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression."
   I hear much about inequality due to education, monetary status, and race but our society ignores the idea that sin and transgression might lead to the inability to lay hold on blessings much greater than education, wealth or status.
   Chapters 30 and 31 tell of an anti-christ who seeks to destroy faith in Jesus Christ and of the Zoromites who set themselves apart with pride and also deny a possibility of a savior. These teachings cause a group of poor souls to wonder how they can possibly even worship since they are outcasts in their community.

   Enter the planting a seed story. The seed is not just a hope in being acceptable, it is a seed that leads to faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the great equalizer. His power brings strength to the faithful and repentance to wayward one. When Alma grieves over his people's iniquities he is inspired to start with his own seed, his sons. I feel that his sons benefit from their father's counsel and become strong enough to go forward in faith. They grow and become able to serve. The answer is always the atonement and I marvel at how many ways and how many times this doctrine changes the course of families and even nations.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Blazing Needles

   I love avoiding malls and visiting small businesses nestled among the natives. One of my favorites in Salt Lake City is Blazing Needles in the Sugarhouse area. This is more than a yarn shop; it is an social pause in your day. 

   The yarns are exquisite and the help is exact and vastly knowledgeable. 

   If you come in without a project you can leave with one just right for your ability. If you bring your project with you they will assist your process and give you a place to work until you feel like you can continue on your own.

     Come sit down at the project table. Take a deep breath. Have a cup of herbal tea and just be. I had two hours of bliss while my daughter talked shop with the owner. It was a highlight of my trip.

    On the car drive home I started this poncho. Each evening I sit and crochet away the stress of my day. 

    I intend to finish by September or sooner and wear this handwork through the Fall and Winter.

Friday, August 7, 2015


    Being in the present, right here, is a gift or maybe an ability. I don't do well staying with the now and what is in front of me. Futurizing what could be gets me into trouble. I have hurt people I love because I futurized an outcome and based on my future story canceled my plans. At best, I have deceived myself into thinking I was preparing for unseen events. At the worst, I see that I have worried the future into what is here.

     On a recent trip I wanted to stay more mindful of what was. Letting go of what could happen allowed me to see my family and friends more clearly.

My brother performing in front of his vocology students took my breath away. His students were fabulous and so open with their emotions.

    Ivan Nielson invited us into his home to share his affection for my aunt. He brought out a cookie jar which sat in her kitchen. I don't remember cookies in the jar but I remember her trying the American custom of having a jar ready for kids.

   Distant cousins showed up at a family reunion and I became acquainted with men who were boys once and tormented me. In the here and now they turned out to be kind, loving fathers and husbands.

    And here today, I have two granddaughters staying with me. I should close this post before they wake up. They will want to see my eyes on them, here, now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Thanksgiving Point Gardens

      Completely ignorant of the beauty I would encounter, I set off for Lehi, Utah to explore the gardens at Thanksgiving Point with my family.

I have visited Buchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada and they are fantastic, but these gardens, though smaller in scale are equal in whimsical beauty.

There are breathtaking vistas. 

                        Colorful bouquets of surprising hues were at our feet and in front of our eyes.

                        Metal installations added shine and texture as they imitated the natural flowers.

                    New species, to me, some delicate some more robust waved me over to their bed.

      There were small pools and waterfalls to delight our children, but always reminiscent of gardens in other settings.

                               The carousel garden had metal horses prancing around and around.

    When we say "flower bed" I now have a visual to illustrate that description. Maybe this was even a feather bed.

      The children were excited about the "Secret Garden". As we came through the dark corridor of vines swirling around trellises we entered through the gate into a enclosed oasis.

                         The artists who designed this paradise are to be praised and applauded!

    The Monet-like waterlilies were my favorite and I watch the light glisten and dance on each lily and then spark the water to capture more fire. I'll certainly come again.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


 I'm trying to write today without using my laptop and only my I-Pad. Pictures don't load on this device so my words must suffice.
   Trying to connect this week has been a primary goal. I visited family and had long meaningful discussions. A highlight was meeting with a family that took care of my beloved aunt the years and months before she died. They were such good stewards of her land. What I learned from my visit is that they were so very loving and still hold her memory sacred. I felt that her natural family could learn from their devotion.
   A touching story was told by one of the daughters. She lived in my aunt's house after her death. The move from their old home was unwelcome for this teenage girl. Throwing her shoes angrily into her new closet, she became aware of a presence in the room. She felt it was my uncle, long passed away. He seemed to communicate with her the assurance that this home was a sacred place to my aunt and uncle. He admonished her to be at peace and value her opportunity to stay there.
  The Nielson Family taught me to remember and honor my family. Making a yearly visit is a way I try to accomplish that goal.