Sunday, March 30, 2014

things that make me smile this week returns

So, the past few months have not been particularly easy for me. I've been in a winter funk brought on by life creeping up on me with some realizations that left me with the wind knocked out of me. And so I retreated, and hid for a while hoping no one would notice. But Someone did, and He made sure I was taken care of, loved and given what I needed, and I am so grateful.

So, at the urging of a friend who says my life is more interesting and that people like me, I am recommitting to sharing my little light through my blog. And so I will start by once again sharing the things that make smile on a weekly basis.

- Mom and Dad are coming for a visit!!!! This caught me by surprise, because I invited them, listened to all their reasons for not coming, and thought that they wouldn't actually get on a plane to come out here. But they are, and I'm so very giddy to have them visit.

- They are coming out because I am reenlisting in the Navy Reserve for two more years. Yes, I am actually smiling about this. I need to renew my enlistment contract in order to be eligible to retire, which is still in my plans. I'm excited too, because the ceremony is going to be pretty cool, and performed by a close friend. I'll share the details when it actually happens.

- I've talked on the phone with my family a lot this week, and it's been really fun. The other night two of my brothers and I all met up for a Google Hangout session and it was so cool to have the three of us and the little ones hanging out together for a few minutes from different parts of the country. Just makes me happy!!

- I really love hearing about the adventures of my nieces and nephews. I had forgotten the magic of a hotel room as seen through the eyes of a child. Nephew G hated the art museum, because he couldn't touch anything or run around, but still could tell me about the art he saw that he thought was cool. And Niece L loved the lily painting by Monet because that flower is her namesake and they grow in the water. It was so fun to hear about their trip.

- It snowed this week, and got really, really cold. And yes, I know, it's the first week of spring, but I really liked the snow and the cold, and bundling up to stay warm.

- On the way to work the other morning, I saw a herd of deer and a flock of wild turkeys right in the middle of DC. Granted, I was driving through a park area, but it's surrounded by a very large urban residential area. Apparently, it's enough of a green space to support a variety of wildlife.

- As cold as it has been, there are still signs of spring all around. My front garden is greeting me with signs of bright yellow crocus. The daffodils and tulips are poking up the dirt, and the day lilies in the backyard are showing signs of life. In a couple of weeks things will be bloom all over the city, I hope.

- Spring cleaning! I started it this week and have been doing a little every day. I'm not that far along, but it's a start, and it feels good.

- Making new friends. I'm so thankful for the Church in my life which just helps the process of making new friends with people who are kind, amazing and fun.

- Good books! I've been reading the Acorna series by Anne McCaffrey. I always wanted to read this series, and just decided it was time. What an adventure!

- I really love the Harry Potter movies, and crocheting.

- I was part of a lovely group of women who hosted a baby shower for a dear friend who is expecting her first. It was so nice to be a part of sending someone so much love and hope for a new little life to come.

- LDS General Women's Conference was just lovely! So many great messages about how we need and can learn from each other.

Here are a few Instagram photos to end things this week.

Friday, February 14, 2014

love is all you need?


Yay, it's Valentine's Day! (aka Singles Awareness Day)


the evilest Disney prince ever
I freely admit that I'm a Valentine's Day cynic. I don't particularly enjoy the holiday and have never had the sort of Valentine seen in movies or books or dreams. But I do get Valentines from my family and friends that just make me smile and remember that I am loved. And as a person who gets more than a little depressed during the winter, this is a good and much needed thing for me. 

 
i love t-rex. i couldn't find a source for this.


One year when I was particularly down and cynical about the whole "love thang". I had an epiphany about this day. Valentine's Day is like Thanksgiving Day!

We should express and show our gratitude every day. Seems a little silly to have a day dedicated to expressing gratitude when you think about it... And yet we have this holiday every fall where we gather with family and friends, eat ourselves to death, watch football, sleep off turkey comas, (and in some cases get an early start on our Christmas shopping) all in the name of giving thanks, and celebrating gratitude. 

Can  you see where I'm going with this yet?

via here

A part of me agrees with the naysayers of Valentine's Day. We should be telling our loved ones that we do indeed love them every day, and we shouldn't need a holiday to remind us to do that. We also shouldn't need a holiday to remind us to be grateful.

And so here we are with this "silly" holiday that celebrates love. And you know what? It's okay to celebrate love. I received Valentine roses from my dad (Papa Bear) this week along with a note that said, "A Daughter Bear for a Valentine! What more could I ask for? Love, Dad". And I sat and cried, because I knew he did love me--I knew it before he sent me roses. But I really appreciated the extra effort he made to let me know that he did. He also called to make sure I received the flowers, and told me that he wanted to make sure that I got a Valentine this year. Sometimes it's the little things that can make all the difference. 


via Gayana
I think we need to celebrate love, because heaven knows that we all need it. Stop for a minute and look around. I bet there are people around you who need a little extra love. 



via bewareofimages




Tuesday, December 17, 2013

remembering hilltop star

Remembering Chris today. 

Chris and I with our niece Caitlin and all her barrettes in our hair.

It's so weird to me to think that it's been 10 years since he passed. I went back and looked at some of the things I wrote over the past few years.

a memory - Recounts an experience I had the day before Chris passed. I wrote about it in third person, because it was easier for me to do so. I thought about this experience last night, and remembered that it's one of the last times in my life when I felt truly at peace. It was such a gift.

hilltop star - Here I share the meaning behind my blog's name Hilltop Star, and a song that Chris and I wrote together. 

And here's a photo of The Hilltop Star from my dear Paradise friend Lisa who shares a photo of our star with me every year. I just love that she does this for me. It brings me a little piece of home.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

putting the lack thereof in perspective



It feels important to acknowledge this place I'm at right now... This place in my life where it's really hard to see what I do have in comparison to what I don't have. And what I don't have is REALLY BIG, or at any rate it seems that way right now. Lately, I’m often feeling very alone, and very small, and unwanted, and unimportant. And lacking.



Yet, my life is full of...

~People who care about me.

~People about whom I care a great deal.

~Activities that bring me joy.

~Things that make me smile.

~Quiet and loud.

~Friends that make me giggle.

~Books, movies, music and plays. Escapes into new worlds and characters. Sparks of ideas on how I want my life to be.

~Projects that keep my hands and mind busy creating.

~Clean clothes, sheets, blankets, dishes, floors, socks, towels, water.

~Good food cooked by me and others--honestly food is one of the simple pleasures in life.

~My vacuum cleaner--I know it's funny to be thankful for a vacuum cleaner but it sure does make my life easier.

~Hot water, dishwasher, washer and dryer, ice cream maker, crock pot, stove and oven.

~Warm coats. Hats. Scarves. Gloves.

~My little brother's pack back.

~Mistakes. Repentance. Forgiveness.

~Love.

~Crying tears of sadness and joy. Lots of this lately.

~A friend who says, "Hey, when the zombie apocalypse happens, you're coming over to my house. My back door is always open for you. You know that right?"

~People who enjoy Doctor Who at least as much I do, if not more, and who want to enjoy it with me.

~Nerdiness--so much nerdiness. Yes, I'm mainly talking about Star Trek fun here.

~Cookies and ice cream. Really, really good burgers and fries and milkshakes. Pho.

~Phone calls from family and friends. And the conversations with young nephews who really know how to sum up my life.

~Lots and lots of laughter.

~Opportunities to take care of others and be taken care of myself.

~People who say thank you. Who stop and listen, and make me talk in spite of myself.

~People who choose me, and let me choose them back.

~People who make really hard choices to do and be better, and inspire me to do the same.

~People who say "Man that really, really stinks." And don't try to figure it out for me. Sometimes it's important to just acknowledge the stink and let it be.

~Once a week phone calls from my dad.

~Getting right it wrong, a lot. And getting it right a lot too.

~A Father who has a plan and so much love. And right now my tiny ounce of faith in that plan and His love.

~Conversations with people who are in my boat, or who have moved onto another boat, but have been in my boat. This is so helpful.

~Saying goodbye and hello. Letting go.

~So much more than I listed here.



See, that's a long list of goodness that I have in my life! But the lack pushes its dark little self up to the top of the pile, and is the only thing that catches my attention even though it's surrounded by so much light. The lack feels and looks really big, and I'm having trouble focusing in on the light and there is a lot of light. I know that.



I guess my point in writing this today is to just say out loud that I’m struggling a bit with being single, and it’s also in the face of an upcoming milestone birthday. I honestly never imagined I would come this far as a single woman. I thought that by now I would be sharing my life with my man at my side and our family.  Sherry Dew calls it living the unexpected life, and my life is certainly unexpected too.



I suppose I never did choose the expected route, especially as an LDS woman, so it really should be no surprise that I’m here single. Right? I just never thought of my choices as excluding the possibility of marriage and family. Maybe they have and maybe they haven’t, I'm still figuring that one out. All I know is that I try to do what I feel is right, and to be as Christ-like and loving as I can. Yes, I know in the end these two things are the most important, but at times it’s little to no comfort as I contemplate my life and what’s next for me.



All I know for sure (most days) is I’m where I felt He wants me. He said be patient a bit longer, and I’m trying--sometimes not succeeding at all. But right now it’s really hard. And that’s okay to acknowledge.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

contagiously happy

Earlier this week, some friends and I were sharing our Myers-Briggs personality type indicator results. (If you're curious about your type indicator, you can take a quick test here.) The conversation then turned to the fan-made charts of each personality type matching a character in a popular book or movie series, like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Downton Abbey. There is even an animal chart if you're not into fictional characters. Anyway, it's a fun way to explore who we are, and how we interact as human beings.

On the animal chart I'm a dolphin, and the first words of the description are "contagiously happy," which I wasn't too sure about. Then a friend said that she felt like it was totally true about me. I laughed and said that I felt like I was contagiously bitchy crabby last week. 

contagiously happy dolphin
via here

So, on Friday morning, I woke up feeling rather  bitchy... er, crabby. And I had to cover to the front office desk, which meant I needed to be pleasant and polite, or exactly opposite of how I was really feeling. As I walked from the car into the office I remembered my friend saying that she felt I really was contagiously happy, and I said to myself, "Okay, Christine, you need to own this "contagiously happy" piece in you today, because if you don't people will be hurt."

So, I owned it. And people left my desk laughing all day long, and it was fun! And I still felt crabby at times, but more often than not I was smiling, and genuinely so. It took a little while for it to feel completely genuine, but I was glad that it finally did. Friday turned out to be a pretty good day in spite of my waking on the wrong side of the bed.

My point in sharing all of this? It's always surprising to me where the reminders come from to be better than I am.

I'm grateful that a fun conversation with my friends about personalities, and fictional characters would be the inspiration for me to choose to be in a better mood, and remember to treat others how I want to be treated.

I'm grateful for the variety in my life that allows friends and moments like these to help me choose better.

Thank you.

Friday, October 4, 2013

i gave myself 15 minutes...

I gave myself 15 minutes to write today. I don't know what will come up during the next 15 minutes, but whatever it is will be posted for the world to read, so I hope it's meaningful in some way.

I'm meeting a friend for lunch at 1 pm on a Friday afternoon.  This is a complete luxury, because on any other Friday I would be at work in a windowless cubicle trying to focus on what's in front of me, instead of what's around me. Friday afternoons at work tend to drag a bit.

So, today on this Friday, I'm discovering how "I can while away the hours ago, conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain. And my head I'd be scratching while my thoughts were busy hatching, if I only had a brain". (Name that tune and that movie, please.) The Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, sings this as he explains to Dorothy what he wants from the Wizard. It can be applied to what I'm thinking about today. How I've wished for time to work on some projects, and clean my house, and read some books, and play some music, and run some errands, and talk to people, and sleep, and cook, and...well, you get the drift. I would ask the Wizard for time, or Hermoine for her time turner. (By the way the auto-correction for Hermoine is heroine, which I find totally fitting.)

And here I am suddenly with an abundance of time on my hands, feeling the pressure to get things done, but also not wanting the success of being furloughed to be a completed to-do list; rather, I want to fell more rested and more better. I've read some fun books, cleaned some nooks and crannies that desperately needed it. Thankfully, I haven't discovered a carpet beetle infestation like some other friends did, who are now spending their furlough days doing laundry, cleaning, and running to the Goodwill or the dry cleaners. My time is my own, and it's so very nice.

I guess my point in writing this, is that I hope I use this time off wisely. Sure, I have a to-do list, and I've crossed a few things off it. But in the end, time spent on the back porch in the hammock, soaking up the last sunlight of summer, drinking cold lemonade, listening to some really good music, and reading a lovely tale is the most delicious part of this time. Who knows, maybe I'll blow off my to-do list entirely, and just give myself up to the back porch entirely?

How I wish this was my back porch...
via here

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

boxing up

Today I helped a woman pack up her life. She has cancer and will soon go home. 

I went through her papers and photos. I decided what should be shredded and what should be kept. It was sobering. I found myself holding back the tears as I sat on the floor catching just a glimpse of her adventures and her life. It was so hard, realizing that we were helping her put her life in order. 

She has so much she still wants to do. She's worried about hurting feelings and treating the people around her with love as she deals with being very, very sick and leaving behind the life she loves here. Her body is starting to have to work much, much harder to do even the simple things like lift her hand to her mouth. Her attitude is the best, she's still laughing and enjoying the life she has. I hope I can be more like her in living and appreciating the life I have no matter what.

All week I've been thinking about her, praying for her, hoping for a last minute miracle. I have also done a lot of thinking. How life is so short, too short, too often. There's so much I want to do. That God has a plan for each of us. That it's the plan even when it seems like the plan has been abandoned and thrown to the wind. That I'd like to know more of the plan up front sometimes. And that life really is good even when it's not, and I would not trade this life for anything.

Above all I was thinking that I know she's in good hands. We all are. 

And I kept thinking about this quote:

God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn.
 - Elder Uchtdorff, General Conference, April 2o13