Monday, December 25, 2006
A new bed for Clarissa!
Sam, still, where to even start...
Jeremy, happy with his pickles.
Gavin, a new way to say stocking stuffer?
A pocket knife, really???? Why didn't Mrs. Clause know about that?
Harriette James Lawrence, trying to find her way to hampster presents:
Gavin, the sk8rboi, gets another year of snowboard school. At least snow is softer to fall on.
Thoughtful gifts and tender tears; Aunt Colleen, our new Primary President, gets a towel with all the kids handprints:
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Our most faithful tradition is Christmas Eve pajamas, stories, cookies and milk for Santa, and reindeer carrots. I think that we get more excited for the magic of Christmas Eve, then for the morning after. Reading the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, as if we didn't know what was going to happen to the Herdmans, or that something bigger would happen to everyone because of the Herdmans. Putting out reindeer bate, and watching for signs of Santa. Oh, how I hope that this magic will last forever. Alas, we must enjoy all we can now, for today will pass, and tomorrow will be Christmas!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday morning we had a family party for my dad's family. Grandma Jane and Grandpa Steve make every Christmas party so much fun. This is the time of year my kids love because it is the time that they see Grandpa and Grandma the most.
The party was really fun; I do enjoy my cousins, aunts and particularly my Uncle Eric. My step brothers and sister were also there. And Santa made a visit, which is always magical for my kids. He is a perfect Santa, the same every year, remembers the kids and makes Christmas really fun for them. I took the kids to see the twins after the party, and then came home with my family. I spent the afternoon resting, I just feel so worn down.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
I am trying to get a scholarship right now, Brian is helping me the best he can. I have never known anyone in a relationship as content and happy and supportive as mine. I don’t have to have a scholarship, but I have a hard earned 4.0, why wouldn’t I try to get one.
Although to have Gavin in trouble at school, he is such a great kid. He knows what is right and wrong; it just makes me so sad today. I know this too will pass, and I am so thankful right now to have my brother and sister both in town to help with the babies, I enjoy my time with them, and soon enough I won’t need to go help, I will miss this. I just have to keep perspective on the whole situation, even in the exhaustion that I am feeling. My brother Jake needs me to help with the babies in the evening, Suzie will only be here until Friday morning, and I will only be able to help with the twins for so long, and then I will go from time to time. I am very thankful that I can do it and that Brian is so supportive of it. This too will pass.
The positive thing that I look forward to this day is this evening I am taking my kids to a book fair at their school, then to the public library to a book reading by Judge Andrew Valdez from the 3rd district Juvenile Court, he has written a book called, “No one makes it alone”. I think that I will take Gavin with me. I know he is not trying to make trouble, and he is really scared right now from making a mistake at school. I have tried to spend time with each of the kids individually right now. This will probably be a good thing for him to do with me. Then I am heading out to my sisters again for the night. I will go down this Thursday, and then maybe Saturday, staying home Friday. I will figure out next week when the time comes. The holidays are coming. I am almost caught up in my classes. I have a rhetorical presentation to give on Thursday AM in my writing class, and a final in Math on Monday morning. Then I will just enjoy preparing for the holidays with my family. This too will pass. The bottom line is what my sister read to me today from the Reader’s Digest, “If you go into life with a good attitude, you will get more out of it.”
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
My test answers for ending values for future reflection:
How balanced are your totals now? How balanced is your life now? What has changed about your life since the first values scale?
My total really reflects how I would personally score each in importance to me. I think that for me the balance is great. I actually believe that my scores regarding areas of less importance to me; wealth and renown went down more, and my scores in areas of great importance; family, humanity, spiritual, went up. Actually the greatest difference to me is I think that having spirituality being the highest score was surprising. I think that much of the influence of this class really pushed me to put a lot of things in perspective and helped nudge me back to the road that I needed to be on. Very cool!!
What has changed about my life? I listen to my kids more, to what they are really saying, to what maybe is behind what they are saying to me. I let them know that what they need is very important to me and that I want to help them to achieve the very best. I am definitely a more positive person. Our home is more positive and we don't focus on the negative as much. I really feel like a whole happy person, I was not in a good place when I first started this course; I had a difficult summer, leaning toward some things that would not be the very best for me. I also noticed that my control value went down a bit. I am not so concerned about what I have control of. I take things a bit easier now.
Aesthetic: I think that not too much has changed other than I really do look more for art in so many areas. I see appreciation in art that I didn't see before, but I also look at the world, homes, gardens, roads, buildings, mountains, and see a great deal of beauty in them. I also recognize that beauty is in everyone beholding, each person has a different way of seeing, and each way is independently right for that person.
Control: I was and still am quite controlling, but I have been able to let go of a lot of things. I think part of this is because I have learned to focus on other values and find true happiness independent of what I control.
Creativity: I love creativity, but found that I am not as in love with this value as I thought. I think I really value it but it is not the central aspect of everything I do. I have interest in to many other areas to really focus on it. I think I could say I appreciate creativity, but don't really participate in it daily. I did also learn that creativity flows over into many parts of life, not just "artistic" creativity as many would think.
Family: My family is so important to me. When I did the value beginning it was really low because I answered the questions about my parents honestly and some of those answers were 0. It really put a perspective on things for me. It was discouraging to think that I don't value family. Family is in the top three of my values, and rightly so.
Humanity: This is one of my top three. I took a humanities course a year ago and it pleases me that humanity is one of my highest values. It is an area that I would be interested in future study in my education. I also feel that it is a part of my integral life. I believe and love the value of humanity.
Physical: Still low, probably lower. Just not something that I focus much on, and it is not really something that I worry about. I have a greater awareness of being healthy, but the whole aspect of the physical value is not that important to me still.
Renown: This was also a lower value for me. I do think that through the course I came to better understand this value, and I even respect it as being an important value. I particularly find it important if it motivates people to do good because of how they will be remembered.
Social: I love to socialize. The value is one of my lower ones, probably because if I had to choose something social over being home with my family, I would walk away. I am good at socializing and being social, but I just don't find it to be that important. I can go to a party, even throw a good one, but I like quiet time.
Spirituality: This value really changed in me. I was questioning religion and my value of it strongly and this course really made me reflect and think about my spirituality in a way that I have not for a long time. I also think that the experiences with the movies and books really impacted my life.
Wealth: Low, still low. This is important to me in the hope that I can provide well for my family but otherwise not really something that I value. I just don't think much of being wealthy. I have been really poor in my life, and now have a pretty nice life. We barely make ends meet each month and don't look for a lot of extras, but I don't really think about it and I am really happy. When we don't have something, or can't do something, I don't make a big deal of it so I don't think that my kids worry much about it either. Wealth can be good, and it can be evil, but I don't think it has anything to do with the actual wealth. The value of it is just low for me.
In my writing I struggled with mainly how to narrow a subject to a specific detail or issue. I seem to always want to present more than is necessary and make my writing difficult to engage in. I used a great deal of input from my peer group to grow a couple of really good ideas and scrap the rest. Specifically, Michelle advised that I write the article using the move that I am writing from a woman’s perspective. I thought that was clear in my original draft, but come to find out it was not. I definitely incorporated that into my second draft. I also needed to specify that I was writing about the fun that our family had on the adventure, rather than to cover so many other alternate arguments, such as secondary trails, or alternate ways to explore the area. I needed to stick to my issue more clearly.
My peer group also suggested that I address the issue of safety. I seem to say it is a safe, fun, family event and then drive some laughs by writing about the “scarier” aspects of the sport. I need to address the transition better to lighten and at least advise on my feelings and reaction to the dangers, especially if I am appealing to the family fun aspect of four- wheelin’.
I used most of the advice given to me, specifically to keep with a voice throughout the paper. I did not address the specifics of safety, because I chose to take out the quote context from Todd Kaderabek and specifically address the issue of it being a fun event for our family. I decided to stick with the folksy travel voice. This would work best for the audience that I will be addressing. I still think that my paper will require a few additional peer reviews and some serious consideration prior to submitting it to the magazine. Much that I included for the classroom style argument will be deleted and I will generally address the travel adventures of the Cruise’ Moab event.
In the beginning of the course I wrote that good writing was writing that is easily engaged in by a reader. I still believe that good writing has to have a few specific elements. It has to appeal to a specific audience, the audience that is intended for the writing. Writing has to be written in a way that the reader does not have to struggle to involve or interest themselves in the reading. And finally, writing has to be interesting and address the issue in a way that keeps the interest of the reader. I think that with so many different areas of writing that the concepts taught in this course really have given me a better foundation for writing. I will be thinking of so many more things than I would have before, which will only help me to be a better writer, specifically things such as the scene, the audience, the way that my words impact the reader, and the opposing viewpoints, to name a few.
I have really enjoyed the visual rhetoric concepts in my research and writing. This too has influenced me greatly. I specifically really began to understand alternate viewpoints using the cartoon in the book on page 81. I better understand angle of vision and writing to a specific audience. I also was better able to understand a lot of other areas when I engaged in visual rhetoric.
For my presentation I plan to use a visual rhetorical move to present the process of writing as an adventure. I want to engage my topic, my issue, but not really talk about my issue, only use it to make a point in my presentation.
For my final researched argument, I plan to create something that is light and interesting, using humor to engage readers in the idea of wheelin’ being a family fun adventure. I will submit the article in January to Toyota Trails for possible publication.
Monday, December 4, 2006
Today was great. My sister is in town and we really enjoyed the time together today. We are going to head down to my sister’s house and then Suzie will stay there until Thursday. I will have some time to catch up on some school work and rest a bit. I plan to spend some time down there with her and Jake taking care of the twins, but it should be easier with three of us taking shifts. Tonight we took the kids to Modern Display to get a Christmas ornament, this is our tradition. Every year we buy a new ornament for the kids for Christmas on the first Monday of December. And we decorate the tree. It is really fun to go through the ornaments and remember each year and the trips to Modern Display. The kids are so excited for the holidays and all the fun that goes along with them
Friday, December 1, 2006
Tonight is our ward activity. I will head back to my sisters house afterward for part of the weekend. Gavin is going with me to help with the babies so that Jake and I can take turns sleeping tonight. I had to take Jeremy into the doctor this morning; he has a growth on his face. I thought it was no big deal, but when we got there the doctor gave him a shot and used a scalpel to remove the growth right there and then. He said he needed to do a biopsy on it and that he would have the results in a week. I think I am going into shock, he is only five years old, what could it be! It just seems unreal right now to be dealing with so much on so little sleep. I am trying to think positively and find many things to be thankful for, even in these seemingly nightmarish trials. I know that it could be worse and am not asking for anything more, just being grateful and finding something positive in each thing right now.
December 2, 2006
Today we had a family party. Afterwards I had Gavin stay with Jake for the weekend so that I could spend a couple of nights at home with Brian and my kids. So much I could write about and probably should, but I am so tired. I am just glad to be home tonight.
December 3, 2006
Today I slept some of the afternoon. My brother and sister in law had us over for dinner; it was really nice of them. Tonight is Mark Millers Managers Christmas party at the Country Club. It is always a nice party and excellent dinner and entertainment. Last year Brian was the winner takes all for the Texas Hold’em tournament. He is reining champion and nervous about playing tonight, since he keeps getting an earful at work. It should be really fun. My sister flies in from Arizona tonight for the week. She will be here for to help with the twins. I am hopeful to get caught up on school, but realistically I will probably just get further behind with all the family running around this week. It is finals week, my presentation is due, I have a lot to catch up on, and I am way behind in Math. There you have it….I am hopeful, but hopeless, tired and praying for strength to catch up and catch my breath.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
A tradition to read each night, finish by Christmas.
and be the living window display,
downtown Salt Lake, Sam Wellers Bookstore on Main.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006 – Thanksgiving Day
I really enjoyed today. We had a quiet morning, I worked on some school work and tried to understand my math, I have missed all the lectures for these past two chapters, and there is a test next week. We are headed over to my Sister and Brother – in – laws for turkey, then to my foster sister’s house this evening. I am looking forward to the day with family.
Very exciting day, I just talked to my sister (with the twins) and they are home today. What a perfect thanksgiving, the girls came home, Emma still has to wear a heart monitor for a while, but they are both 6 pounds and healthy. I will plan to go down and help with them a bit for the next little while; I am just so grateful that they are home.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Jake returns from Portland today. I had my English class, and really need to push to get on top of things for next week. My paper needs to be done, and I need to have a presentation ready. My kids are out of school tomorrow and I am a bit worried about juggling my Math class in the morning, I haven’t found someone to watch them yet. Sam is not feeling perfectly well and I don’t really want to leave him. I really think that the past week has been the calm before the storm.
Tonight when I took Gavin to Young Men’s the bishop asked if we would speak as a family in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. I figured what the heck, on top of what we have been dealing with, this would be a breeze. Besides it will be good for my kids to hear something from their Dad, he is usually really goods at avoiding things like this.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I skipped my math this morning, with the kids out of school and all I figured they could appreciate their mom being home with them. We cleaned house and wrote their talks for the Sacrament meeting Sunday. They each chose something really cool to talk about, Gratitude is our subject, and it was sweet to spend the time working with them. Today was a perfect way to spend a Wednesday!!!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
November 18, 2006 through Monday, November 20, 2006
A summary of the weekend that I spent in Arizona, all is well. The concert was great. I took time off of worrying about my paper for English class, so I will really have to spend some time catching up this week. We have a break from school, for Thanksgiving, should be pretty good. I didn’t really plan well, and have missed a few of my Math classes, so I am feeling like I am getting behind in Math and English, but should be able to stay on top of things. The concert could not have been better, and for the first time that I have stayed with my sister in Arizona I felt that we really took advantage of the whole time I was there and really enjoyed. On Saturday I went to my friend, Staci’s house and brought her a baby shower from Utah. She is having a girl, after three boys. Her family moved to Arizona last summer, and we have missed her terribly. It was really fun to get with her friends from here in Utah and buy gifts to “shower” her with pink this weekend. She was so excited and thankful, and I was spoiled to be there with her. It was a great weekend.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Another Wednesday, and of course as busy as ever; today we added a couple of extra activities for the kids; why not, it’s Wednesday, the day that makes every other day seem easy. I am just thankful that it won’t come for another week, and next week the kids are out of school, and I won’t be taking them to all the extra-curricular activities that Wednesday’s bring!!!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Today was a pretty calm day. We just spent time together; church, dinner, watching a movie. It was really nice to not have a whole lot going on, to take a breath in the midst of a crazy and consuming life. I really think the most positive thing was just being together with my family. It feels like the calm before the storm; the holidays and such coming up.
November 13, 2006
I had a math test today, it seemed to go well. Today the kids had show n’ tells for their dance and music class. I love the curriculum of our children’s elementary school. They are really lucky to be able to have the arts in their school. I am glad that so many parents find it a benefit to raise the money to support this. Especially after watching the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus and recognizing the transformation of arts in schools and the effect it has had on education. It really put into focus what a tremendous blessing it is that we attend Wasatch Elementary, I would not have considered the magnificence of this without experiencing that movie at this time of our life.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Tonight I will be going to stay at the Grand America with Brian, we are really looking forward to some quiet time alone together.
Monday, November 6, 2006
Friday, November 3, 2006
Another busy Wednesday. I figure this is hump day, the middle of the week, the beginning of the week is restful, and the end of the week is as well. Wednesday makes me think positively about the rest of my week. It makes me think about how if we don’t struggle through things in life we don’t appreciate the good as well. Because of Wednesday, I enjoy my entire week.
Thurs. Oct. 26, 2006
Today I was able to go to the kid’s school to hear the choir. Gavin did such a wonderful job singing. I really enjoy being a part of my kids adventures and accomplishments. He is really good at singing. This coming Sunday he has to sing a solo for the Sacrament Meeting Program. I am excited for him. Brian and I have been asked to sing the last two verses with him. It should be a good experience.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Yesterday we had so much going on. Clarissa had Activity Days; Brian went to an ELP meeting for Gavin. I have a test in Math this morning and so I have just been studying a lot. Hopefully it will go well. This weekend will be very busy with all the Halloween festivities and the Primary Program. Thankful and positively happy to be so healthy right now.
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2006
I did well on my math test. I have to go in and retake a couple of my tests, only because I want to be sure to do well in the course, and understand the information, but doing well so far. The positive thing is that I am beginning to enjoy math more.
Today Sam had a Soccer game at 9 am. The kids had a primary program practice at 9 am as well. Sam has a birthday party at 2:30; Gavin also has a birthday party at 12:30, then he is going to the U of U football game. The kids have a piano recital this evening, and we have a family Halloween party right after that in Utah County. Tomorrow is the primary program. I am glad that I am not doing all of this alone. I have help from my brother today and Brian is doing some of the running around as well. Should be fun to look back on someday, I will wonder how I did so much and why!!!
Sunday, Oct. 28, 2006
Today was wonderful. It was delightful to see the kids do their parts in the program. I was so tearful during Gavin’s talk. This was his last in the primary, when it was time to sing with him, I couldn’t because I was crying. I am so proud of him, and all that I could think of was the fact that his last 12 years have flown by. I was in primary with him for all 11 years, until this spring. He is a wonderful son. Each of my children has such a special quality to them. The most positive thing in my life is my children and my husband, Brian.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
I missed a couple of days of writing. We had a really fun family night Monday, it was just nice to be home together and back into a good routine. Trick – or – Treating was really fun last night with the kids. We were out for 2 hours. I never thought they would tire or me cold. It was really fun. Jeremy had the most fun when we came home and he got to answer the door for the trick or treaters. He really liked giving out the treats. It was fun to have him be so much more excited about giving, than what he got in his bag.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Today has been a catch up day for school. I am feeling positive to be getting so much done!!!
Friday, November 3, 2006
Today Clarissa had a Daddy Daughter Date, Brian had to work late, so I took her. I was at first really upset that he wasn’t going to make it. In the long run I had a great time with Clarissa, so all is well.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
I have really had a lot of fun journaling each day. Sometimes I feel like I could fill a page with all the things that happen each day, the kids say cute funny things and we are blessed so very much. It is hard to only pick a couple of things in the time that I have to write. I have gone years sometimes without writing anything, so it has been nice to get back into the habit. I think of all the catching up I do on email with family and friends and think that I will begin to copy and paste some of the funny things I share with people each day and keep them for my history and records. I have to remember to print each page in case of a casual disaster with the hard drive. These memories mean a lot and will be a treasure for my family someday, and for me if I get the old age memory loss that runs in the family. I feel like I have it now. If I don’t make notes for myself I can’t remember anything. Today was a really nice day. It was nice to have the whole day to enjoy my family, not having to run Jake and Zoe home. I did enjoy having them and missed seeing my sister and the twins. I hope Sheri got the rest she needed this weekend and gets feeling better soon.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Nice to have a quiet day. I am trying to get caught up on a few things. I had a Math test today. I got 100%. I am finally really getting the hang of this.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Busy, thankful for all the activities that we are able to do. Kids are happy and active. We are positively blessed with health and happiness. We have finished working on our family activity. We made a family tree with all the handprints of our family members. It was a delightful activity and made me really think of how blessed we are.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Yesterday afternoon went great. I had forgotten that I had a dinner in the evening. Brian came home and did the dinner for the children and I had an evening to my self. It was lovely, and refreshing. This afternoon was the usual chaos, Sam has chess from 3- 4 pm. Gavin has Newspaper at the same time. Clarissa has to be to Piano at 4 pm, then I get her at 5 pm and Sam has piano from 5 – 5:30. Clarissa and I had a bridal shower from 6 – 8 pm and I had a neighbor go into labor and ask me to keep her son overnight, so we have Guy here. He is two. Gavin had Young Men’s from 7 – 8:30 pm. The kids are finally settled down and I am looking at our crazy schedule today and thinking I am now quite sure how I do Wednesdays. I know for sure that I appreciate the calm days after having crazy ones like this. The positive thing is that I am healthy and capable of doing all these things to help my family and others. My sister is so ill right now she is struggling to recover from her babies births and really not able to take care of her family. I feel so much sorrow for her with the babies in the NICU and she is not well enough to go to them.
Thursday, October 19th, 2006
Clarissa had a play date today, it was nice for her to have someone to play with, in all the craziness of our life right now. The kids are preparing for a piano recital. I really enjoy hearing them play the piano so much. It has such a calming effect on our home.
Friday, October 20th, 2006
Sam and Clarissa have a fieldtrip this morning. I am thankful that Brian has a job that allows him to do so much with the children and their activities. He is going to go to the field trip with both of them today. We have a Halloween party this evening, and two parties, two soccer games, scouts for Gavin and such tomorrow that it will be a crazy day. My brother Jake is driving up this weekend to give me a break from the driving that I have been doing every weekend.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
FRIDAY THE 13TH! I love this day. I only wish that I had realized it was coming along and planned a party. How appropriate, and in October. We went to help my sister out today. Gavin actually had a Scout Service Project that he spent the day doing. My brother came back for the weekend at our house. I am thrilled to have him and we are trying to find something fun to do. 1985 is playing at Kingsbury Hall; we may try to see that show tomorrow. It is positive that we are healthy and able to help others. Jake giving so much of himself to my sister right now, it is all such a new experience for him, taking care of a child full time. He is putting aside all the things that he enjoys to be here. I appreciate his sacrifice to help our sister. It hasn’t been easy for him.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Gavin and Brian had a “baby shower” for Gavin’s young men’s leader today. It was fun to send the boys off for their first shower. It was actually a bar-b-q, but the real idea was a baby shower. Gavin’s “girlfriend” called and his sister told her that he was at a baby shower. Jake jumped in really quick to correct her that it was a bar-b-q. I thought it was pretty funny. We went to see the play 1985, wow, that book was the first book that made me actually think: think outside the box. I loved the production. I think it is really positive that there are things that make us think, to question our beliefs and what is happening to us, realizing that things do have to just happen to us, we can change many things that are happening around us if we think and question. It was a cool thing to do, and better that I went with my brother. We always spend a fair amount of time talking, especially after exposing ourselves to these types of genre.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Wow, Sundays are really difficult right now. I have been leaving my family to take my brother and Zoe back home to Cedar Hills. It takes my day, the afternoon anyway. My sister is not doing very well. I find that I really enjoy the weekends with my brother. We have really had a great time together, even if it leaves me tired for the week, it is nice to have him here.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I don’t know how so much got planned for today. I found that today was a busier Tuesday than usual. The kids piano lessons were changed a day early, my cousin is planning on bringing her family to play this afternoon, four rambunctious boys. It will be fun. My kids have missed their cousins and they are always fun to have over. Sam has his PTC this afternoon; Clarissa’s was changed to today as well. I am trying to work in seeing Gavin’s teachers today, but haven’t quite figured it out. The kids are out half day. I will probably have no more time until this weekend to catch up after today.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I figured it out! The kids are out of school on break this week and I am not. I had changed the whole schedule so that they could go with their aunt to the cabin overnight, so that I could still go to my classes, which made our Tuesday crazy. I never even thought of something yesterday to be positive about. I don’t think I really had a chance to think. So for yesterday and today, the positive thing is that when you are in the moment of a hurried, blurried, situation, there always comes a break. Just pushing through will bring you to something new and oft times better. I have a couple of days now to really catch up and have some quiet time to get my homework done and focus on a few things that I have wanted to do. I always miss the kids, but they return like a storm. Today is a day for me.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
It felt weird to get up today without the kids and go off to school. I am thankful that it is only temporary. I am not ready for the kids to be gone; life is so full with them. I really appreciate this and other opportunities I have had to be “home alone” and realize that I wouldn’t trade all the frustration and chaos for anything. This will come alone all too soon and even then I will be wishing I could go back. I am learning to enjoy them here and now. They already have grown so fast and I am sad that so much of life has passed by. I missed them as little people discovering everything new, but I love them now, and just hope the future comes along good and slow!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The argument goes that if the past has uncertain effect on the present, there is no need to dwell on the past. And if the present has little effect on the future, present actions need not be weighed for their consequence. Rather, each act is an island in time, to be judged on its own. Families comfort a dying uncle not because of a likely inheritance, but because he is loved at that moment. Employees are hired not because of their resumes, but because of their good sense in interviews. Clerks trampled by their bosses fight back at each insult, with no fear for their future. It is a world of impulse. It is a world of sincerity. It is a world in which every word spoken speaks just to that moment, every glance given has only one meaning, each touch has no past or no future, each kiss is a kiss of immediacy.
Each person has a vision for their moment, what they want in that moment, why they want it. Where do those desires, needs, passions, and impulses come from? How do we become to understand our own views of reality in order to appreciate the moments we are given? What can we do to better appreciate the vision of others? Can we find happiness in blindly following paths laid before us or is it critically important to find our own way and keep focus on our personal vision?
Reading the very diverse opinions in the Constructing a Life Philosophy I have gained a greater sight of others viewpoints, and have ascertained a better vision of my own opinions. I particularly chose to reference Chapter 7; What Should We Strive For, and its relationship to Chapter One; The Importance of Choosing a Life Philosophy. However, there is a great deal of alternate views expressed between those chapters that effected my own views and vision for writing this paper, specifically relating what I have gained from engaging thoroughly in the text.
First, Chapter 1 addresses viewpoints from a contemporary psychiatrist, an ancient philosopher, and two students of philosophy, religion and myth. Each essay presented the authors personal vision as to the best way that we as humans can base our life’s decisions and the necessity of seeing life’s purpose.
M. Scott Peck, contemporary psychiatrist, in his essay Choosing a Map for Life challenges readers to “examine how they [view] the world and how they [view] themselves” (17). Peck uses the word view in a rhetoric way to grab the reader’s attention that if a person does not “more clearly…see the reality of the world” their minds can be deceived by “falsehood, misperceptions and illusions” (18). If we do not know where we are headed in our lives we can be blinded, if we do not seek for a way, have a plan (a map) for our lives then our view is obfuscated. He particularly discussed our dependency as children, our reliance upon the opinions and views of our parents and other adults influencing our lives. Theirs and our views are also dependant upon circumstances. Oft times I believe that we interfere with the experiences of others as we try to protect or obscure their understanding of the issues around them. In this we are taking away from them the experience they should have and replacing it with experiences we want them to have. This distorts their view of the world, and therefore changes their life’s map. Peck also discusses how we “denounce the new information even attempt[ing] to manipulate the world so as to conform to our view of reality (19).
Plato, a philosopher from Ancient Athens taught metaphorically that we must not live as though we are in a cave. His essay, Are We Living in a Cave?, shows the effects of a society that is unteachable, who mock the idea of higher learning, education and thinking. He discusses the fear of pain and hurt, that holds us back from striving for something different, better; excellence. He states that oft times people are too quick to accept things as they see them without consideration of a different way, a different world saying, “people too quickly accept the first appearance of things”; in a “what you see is what you get” kind of way. He uses the idea of “fetters” to indicate the confinement of only looking forward, “I don’t see how they could see anything else if they were compelled to keep their heads unmoving all their lives.” If we are to remove our fetters as a society we have to be teachable, accepting diversity, understanding different views, letting go of narrow mindedness, recognizing that growth is painful, but for a moment. He suggests that if we live through each season, then we will better understand the whole of it.
Philosophy, religion, and myth students; Sam Keen and Anne Valley Fox in their essay, Discovering Our Personal Myth, discuss myths and how they form our views of our world. Myths create a “habitual way of seeing things” (33). They associate our values and cultures as being influential, even programming our beliefs. They also suggest that we don’t see what we know or think to be truths as myth, only what others believe. They say, “myth gives us security and identity, it also creates selective blindness, narrowness, and rigidity because it is intrinsically conservative” (35) Their essay caused me to think a great deal on the influences that parents have, and how parents views influence the choices of children. It is important to consider their ideas, “whoever authors your story authorized your actions” and return the sense of self to individuals allowing them to experience and see life in order to create their best individual vision.
By holding onto the views of someone else; your parents, teachers, you are suffocating your ability to see for yourself who you have the potential to become. First opinions are essential to our understanding of the nature of things but as the evidence changes; as we are exposed to more knowledge and experience, so must the theories by which live. We can be influenced by positive experiences, letting go of negativity, and moving into each moment with clarity of our unique vision. In order to understand the true meaning of life each person has to find their own qualities, beliefs, values, integrating with the understanding of others beliefs, recognizing that no one person’s views are completely right for all people; each person is uniquely right for their own individual life’s purpose.
Second, Chapter 7’s focus is What Should We Strive Towards. The essays range from the opinions that we should be concerned about moral standard, education and health (Jefferson), love, creativity and understanding (Toynbee), divine love, wisdom, living as Jesus did (Hallesby), morality of thought and action, quest for perfection (Franklin) and (Machiavelli) accepting both good and evil in the quest for renown, and acquisition of power.
In the essay Develop an Honest Heart, letters compiled to a nephew, Jefferson places highest importance on an honest heart, a knowing head, and good health. He discusses that we all need to seek for these virtuous dispositions and that by consistently practicing them they will become habitual. His words invite readers to recognize the simplicity of doing what is instinctually right and that by doing right “be assured that [right] will extricate you the best out of the worst situations. Tho’ you cannot see when you fetch one step, what will be the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and never fear their leading you out of the labyrinth” (179).
Toynbee’s essay Seek Love, Creation, and Understanding, presents his belief that we must sacrifice to find the meaning of life. Love, understanding and creating are of ultimate importance and by seeking these ultimately we must sacrifice. He stated, “A human being’s life is a constant struggle between the rational and the irrational side of human nature” (208). The specific sacrifice and struggle I felt he was associating with was the intensity in understanding and accepting others values with a respect for their diversity; understanding that values differ based on environments, cultures and experiences, and although unlike a person’s views cause discomfort. Simply loving and understanding others, “what you don’t know really won’t hurt you” mentality, is key to his belief. Of his values, love being the value that binds the wound of a world broken by cultural difference and misunderstandings. Love begetting compassion, begetting tolerance, begetting respect, begetting non-violence, begetting special happiness, begetting a sense of peace, begetting well-being.
In Ole Hallesby’s essay titled Live for Others as Jesus Did he states “how inhuman the life was which I had been living. Jesus lived His life for others. I had lived my whole life for myself, in petty selfishness, pride and pleasure,…” (189). He first rhetorically engages the reader in stating that “the best men and women of each generation have been the ones who have sacrificed the most time and energy to ascertain the meaning of life” (184). This statement gives a reader a sense of ownership in being the best by sacrificing time to find purpose and meaning in their lives. He then goes on to address his journey in finding his purpose.
Aim for Personal Perfection is the title of Benjamin Franklin’s essay taken from his autobiography. His goal was certainly high for he “wished to live without committing any fault at any time” (197). He discusses his 13 virtues; temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, humility, and relates that it isn’t enough to want to change but that we have to be committed to breaking old habits and acquiring new ones. While he admits that he never achieved all 13 virtues to perfection, he did find that he was a better person and a happier individual.
Machiavelli’s focus was a great contrast to these previous viewpoints. His essay titled Be Powerful generously discusses the reality that if you want power and renown that you can’t be nice about it. You have to engage in both good and evil, whichever suits the circumstances of that moment. To become successful you “cannot observe all those things which are considered good in men” (194). His opinion is that to observe peace and good faith would be to lose power and renown.
A common thread among these, including Machiavelli’s, and many of the other viewpoints, is happiness. We all seek for happiness. In Chapter 4, How Should We Make Moral Decisions, the Chapter preface quotes Robert Ringer’s viewpoint that it is possible to find “a simple, uncomplicated life” by simply “looking out for number one” (127). In whatever path we take happiness comes from accepting the destination of that path. Of happiness Franklin can be quoted saying, “I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell short, yet I was by the endeavor a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it” (201). In summarizing Franklin the Chapter Preface states, “Franklin explains that the effort was worth it, because he did learn about his weaknesses” (177). At times the pursuit of happiness does not bring happiness. Shakyamuni Buddha said, “There is no way to happiness—happiness is the way” (115). Russell Conwell’s Inspiring Book About Opportunity: Acres of Diamonds tells a familiar story of a Ali Hafed. Ali Hafed had once owned a great deal of land. He farmed, had orchards, grain fields and gardens, and because of all that he had he had money. He felt content until he heard from an ancient Buddhist priest how the world was made and in that creation diamonds were made. The priest told Ali Hafed that if he could find a diamond the size of his thumb that he would be able to have his own country, if he had a mine that he and his posterity could be kings and queens. After hearing this, the wealthy Ali Hafed went to bed a poor man. He sought after the priest and learned how to find diamonds. He was told that if you find a river that runs through white sands, between high mountains you will certainly find diamonds. Ali sold all that he had and went on his quest for diamonds. He looked the world over and died a poor, afflicted man. The story goes on to say:
The old Buddhist priest came to visit Ali Hafed’s successor, and the moment he opened the drawing-room door he saw a light on the mantle, “Here is a diamond! Has Ali Hafed returned?” The successor said no, and that is not a diamond, it is only a rock. The priest was sure and said positively it is a diamond. Together the priest and successor rushed out to the garden and stirred up the white sands and “there came up other more beautiful and valuable gems than the first”. Ali Hafed’s land was discovered to be the diamond mine of Golconda, the most magnificent diamond mine in all the history of mankind. Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar, or underneath his own wheat field, or in his own garden, he would have had ‘acres of diamonds’ (13).
Happiness, as discussed in the many viewpoints relates to this very idea, it is in the eye of the beholder, and is truly not the reward, the reward that brings happiness is in the way that life is lived and appreciated. Chapter 4, viewpoint 7 discusses the unintended evil that comes at times by making choices without thought to the harm that it causes others. It says of happiness,
The Self Can Be a Prison – Where outward circumstances are not definitely unfortunate, a man should be able to achieve happiness, provided that his passions and interests are directed outward, not inward. It should be our endeavor….to adjust ourselves to the world, to aim at avoiding self-centered passions and at acquiring those affections and those interests which will prevent our thoughts from dwelling perpetually upon ourselves (174)
It is a surprising reality for me to realize how some personal choices and seemingly ordinary behavior can contribute to the evil and in humane consequences, many times indirectly and without knowledge of the person. The chapter interestingly discussed Hitler’s behavior as being made capable by the actions and submissions of ordinary people. He states that his use of the word evil is “behavior that deliberately deprives innocent people of their humanity, from small scale assaults on a person’s dignity to outright murder” (172). In that context a person really has to consider their behavior towards others and indirectly in a personal pursuit for happiness. Individual happiness should not come at the expense of another human being.
Additionally the chapters relate to each other in discussing pride. In chapter 2, viewpoint 2 Finding Personal Peace with God Gives Life Purpose Charles W. Colson discusses his reaction to reading the autobiography of Richard M. Nixon, Born Again. He rhetorically suggests that pride is a cancer, “For Pride is a spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense” (50). As Ole Hallesby is quoted earlier stating that he had lived his whole life in selfishness, pride, and pleasure…(189). And in the chapter How Do Religions Give Life Meaning? Bob George presents Christianity and particularly the bible as the only way to find God. Of pride he says, “Proud people cannot receive grace because they will not receive grace. They are convinced of their own sufficiency and enamored by their own ability” (100). Franklin summarized that, “In reality there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as Pride” (203). In each viewpoint that presents pride, it is indicated that it is a destroyer of finding our personal happiness.
In reading each viewpoint I had to set aside my own beliefs and convictions, understanding that each person had walked their own path to come to the conclusions and beliefs that they had. These are their visions, their truths, it is what they know. I do not have to believe them personally but I can accept them as reality, not myth. In wanting others to understand me for my diversity, I must understand them.
One thing that was certain to many was that we all came from somewhere; there was indeed a creation, if not by God, then by some scientific reasoning. In Chapter 2, viewpoint 4, one religion stated, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible” The Bible, Hebrews 11: 3 (67). Chapter 3 How Do Religions Give Life Meaning, “Religions very often dominate peoples search for meaning of life” (75). And presuming that a person has a belief or knowledge of a God or of a greater being, and then by acknowledgement of that any person’s opportunities are infinite. In contrast, the preface to Richard Robinson, Chapter 2, viewpoint 1, Life Has No Purpose – We Create It, suggests that “life has no meaning. Since he believes there is no God, there cannot be a particular goal or meaning for our lives… [Robinson] challenges his readers to create their own purpose for life” (39). With respect for all beliefs in finding their purpose, every being can achieve immeasurable content and happiness.
Each persons desire to find meaning in their life is a personal quest; an individual journey; and each person through their desire to see purpose in their life, can. Knowing what is important to you personally, in every moment, understanding your views of reality and appreciating the gift of each opportunity. Seeking for a greater understanding of the diversity in others values based on their unique experiences, cultures, and environments has purpose in our own happiness.
I have gained a greater knowledge of these things and have a more perfected individual vision for my life. I have found that in engaging in others rhetorical views that my vision is clearer, I know myself better. For me it is important to know what I want, what I believe, to be aware of and accept others for their personal beliefs. This has been a valuable experience for me. It made me think more about the affirmations that I have engaged in for my life, I have a broader vision now and will certainly be revising them, particularly reflecting upon Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues in his aim for perfection. I also appreciate the testament that happiness is not to be achieved but lived in every moment. I hope to be able to emulate these things in my life. Dr. Seuss is known for saying many great things, one that comes to mind, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy that will decide where to go.”
Great philosophy, like anything, is what you make of it. Constructing a Life Philosophy, as suggested by the title of the book, is a process. In constructing anything a great deal of material is involved. In any great construction if only one material or tool were used, it would not be successful or even possible. In considering many opinions, views, and understanding others I know that I will be able to have a better personal philosophy; allowing me to live happily in each moment.
References used in addition to the book:
Lightman, Alan. Einstein’s Dreams. New York: Warner Books, 1993.
Seuss, Dr. Oh, The Places You’ll Go. New York: Random House, 1990.
Webb, William R., Russell Conwell’s Inspiring Book About Opportunity: Acres of
Diamonds. Missouri: Hallmark Cards Inc., 1968
Monday, October 9, 2006
A busy day; catching up on homework and housework. Jeremy had an appointment with his kindergarten teacher, letting us know how he is doing in school. I can’t believe it is that time, Parent Teacher Conferences. Sam has soccer practices Monday afternoons and then of course Family Night. It was nice to be back to a bit of a routine, everything has been so consuming lately. I love that my kids look forward to family time.
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Today was possibly the most beautiful Sunday. Gavin received the priesthood and we had a few family and friends join us afterward at our home for some warm soup and vegetables. It was good food, family and friends, and a truly wonderful moment in our son’s life. He is a good boy for all that we have been through. I am very proud of him and who he is becoming.
Saturday, October 7, 2006
Sam’s soccer game was cancelled because of the down poor yesterday. I find it interesting that today the weather is nice and he could be playing but the officials, and the schools, are worried about the fields being ruined by the muddy grass from yesterdays weather. So it is okay for the kids to play in the horrible weather and possibly fall ill, pneumonia, or death from a cold, but cancel the games because they don’t want to ruin the grass. Whatever! Today was great, however, with Jake in town and Gavin’s birthday last week we planned to take him to his first Haunted House. It was great! Gavin had another game this afternoon as well, it was cancelled; the beautiful sun hadn’t dried up all the mud yet. I am finding it positive that Gavin is feeling well and there seems to be no sign of a cold.
Friday, October 6, 2006
Thursday, October 5, 2006
Today began to be a simple day, not much but taking care of my niece, my family, and school. It became complicated as the day went on. I went to class and hoped to come home to a day of catching up, my sister called and needed a few things, and so Jake and I left to go after the things that would help her right now. I missed picture day for my kids and a field trip for my son. It was horribly sad. He called me from the school, expecting me to come to the field trip and I had to tell him I couldn’t. He was crying and I just felt torn in two. I generally take care of my kids and family, and myself first, but right now I need to help my sister and her family as well. It is surely taking a chunk of me right now. I was also late picking them up from school, not cool. The positive thing is that when Sam was broken hearted about the field trip I was able to call Brian and he went and met Sam at the museum. Sam had a great time with his dad, and his dad was the only dad there, which was really cool. I am thankful for Brian’s willingness to leave immediately to take care of our children when they need something.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
My experience in watching the movie was surreal. I know that I have seen the movie a couple of times but this time, under these circumstances I watched it with an open mind and heart. I really felt the process of Henry’s change. It was really interesting to see and feel the change in his values and experience the growth with him. It was fun to see how it affected his family and acquaintances’. I think that as he changed there was almost a jealousy in the people who were calloused by the world and their selfish desires. I recognized that in their experience that they in turn were unkind, but I believe that when people react that way it is because they are experiencing a change as well. In the first of the movie the visual rhetoric that caught my attention was the immediate presence of the words in the courtroom “In God We Trust”. This foreshadowed for me the whole change that would take place in the life of Henry and his family throughout the movie. Bad things happen, but for our good. If you can recognize this in the placement of these words in the movie, they were contemplated and not by chance. The overall picture was that Henry was destined to experience a life altering change; to come full circle. In the beginning Henry was not a likable person; his values were displaced and did not bring real fulfillment or happiness for him or his wife and daughter. He was really lost trying to be someone who I believe even he would not have liked, as the movie portrayed so well. He was caught up in the table he didn’t like, winning even when it hurt other individuals, and in controlling and being attended to, admired. Henry was initially a very egocentric character, much like many who we deal with in our world, even sometimes myself. The world really revolved around him; in his apology to his daughter, it was more about him. He didn’t listen to his wife, was only concerned with his own issues. He was an egocentric individual. He was not likable at all. However, I did see the look in his eyes as he glanced at the victims in the courtroom, there was more to Henry than he was portraying by his choices, and lifestyle. In watching the change take place in him it made me really evaluate the changes that I would like to see take place in me. I would like to be less controlling, less of a bark and bite reaction to the circumstances I find myself in each day. I recognized in watching him try to learn to walk, talk, read, very much become childlike in essence to then overcome and reach the potential that he had within him. There is much we take for granted; that could be gone in the blink of an eye. I have hope that I will be able to make changes in my life without having to experience the loss and pain that he suffered. I thought to myself that things can always be worse than they are now, and that it is important to look at the challenges that I have been given and grow from them, evaluate them, learn and move on. Deciding who I am and what I enjoy and going for it is essential to happiness. I enjoyed understanding the character Bradley. He was a delightful person and exemplified the type of happy content person that I think we all seek to be. Whether we would choose to live a life of service or not, I think that people want to be happy with themselves; and he was. I really appreciated that the movie offered insight into why Bradley was such a happy person. Some of the advice I took away from the movie in Henry’s (and other characters) own words are, “Be patient, I’m trying”, “I thought I could go back to my life, I don’t like who I am”, “I changed”, “I had enough, I said when”. Bradley, “It was a test”, “Ask me if I mind having bad knees”, “Don’t listen to nobody trying to tell you who you are”, and “It might take a while but you’ll figure yourself out.” And finally the housekeeper, “I like you much better now.” I really enjoyed watching this movie in this way and for this purpose. I really believe that this will help me to consider my ways, who I am, who I want to be and to be thankful for the painful and oft times difficult challenges that I face, to recognize the growth and potential in them. I also hope to be more aware of how I interact with others. I hope I always remember to be patient, to change when I need to, to say enough when I have had enough, to know who I am regardless of what anyone else thinks, to figure out my beliefs and values, most important I want to like myself and to have no regrets at the end of each moment in time and finally to “trust in God”.