Friday, July 30, 2010

o sole mio - my musical history

There is a moment etched into my memory from Venice.  I close my eyes and I'm there again.  It was one of those perfect moments that my heart and mind captured for instant recall whenever I need it. 

Perfect golden light reflecting off the dark waters of a narrow canal as I stand on a bridge, the warmth of the stone railing beneath my hands, the colors of the brick and stone homes lining the water lane, and turning the corner is an ebony gondola trimmed in gold piloted by a singing gondolier.  I don't remember what he was singing, but this song takes me back to that bridge every time. 

And I am in love with Andrea Bocelli.  I'm so gonna marry him one day, ya know. 

the link:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

white crane

white crane
lend me your wings
i will not go far
from lithang i will return
-tshangyang gyatsho

i think i really, really want to go here some day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a hiatus

I am taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog for a couple of months.  I have some prescheduled posts that will  automatically post, and every now and then I may write something new if I have time.

Last Friday I found out that I was selected for promotion to Chief Petty Officer in the Navy Reserve.  It's kind of a big deal and includes an eight week training period before I am actually promoted.  Think Bootcamp for Chiefs, and you'll have an inkling of the intensity of the training.

For instance, this morning my alarm went off at 0330. I woke up, got dressed, ate a banana and granola, drank water, washed my face and brushed my teeth, grabbed my pre-packed bags and was out the door at 0415.  At 0530 I was in formation with the other Chief Selectees marching up the hill to meet the Genuine Chiefs who were conducting Physical Training (PT) that morning.  We sang the National Anthem and then the fun begun.

Imagine push-ups with your feet up on a picnic bench!  Running from station to station to do pushups with your feet on a picnic bench and pullups.  Imagine even more pushups, flutter kicks and lots of other stuff I don't remember.  Oh, and people are yelling to motivate you.  Then imagine a run on top of all of that.  We ran in formation and had to make sure everyone stayed in formation.  As we completed the run and we came to a halt without warning I threw up.  But, hey, I finished, right.  At least there was an awesome sunrise while I was doing all those pushups.

Afterwards, I went straight into work and put in a full day.  This is just the beginning.  And I think I need a bit of a hiatus from the blog.

Have fun this summer and see you in a bit.

a thought

torres del paine, chile from

Nature's sources never fail. 
Like a generous host,
she offers here brimming cups in endless variety,
served in a grand hall,
the sky its ceiling,
the mountains its walls,
decorated with glorious paintings
and enlivened with bands of music ever playing.
- John Muir -

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

primary songs - my musical history

When I was little I liked to sing primary songs.  'I Am a Child of God' was one of my favorites and it still is.  I still sing this song.  Sometimes on days that are especially hard, I'll sing this song to myself and instantly feel His love which calms me down, brings peace and helps me focus on what's important.

link to video:

Friday, July 16, 2010


...adversity may be the very force required
to impel us to our promised land.

Check out the entire talk, it's well worth your time:  Our Unexpected Journey Toward the Promised Land, Staci Peters, Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, July 20, 2004


a grown up?

so last weekend i attended a singles conference hosted by mid-singles from church.  the organizers did a great job and i had a great time at the activities i attended with friends.  dinner and a river boat cruise up the potomac with amazing views of dc was fun and the dancing was hilarious.  imagine if you will, almost 300 singles "trapped" on a river boat for three hours with only witty repartee and a dance dj for entertainment.  i felt as though i was back in high school.

remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach when going to a high school dance or other social event, and hoping that you'll meet someone who will you're think attractive too, and validate your entire existence by asking you to dance or even asking you on a date?  that feeling in the pit of your stomach that somehow you're not going to measure up?  that conversation you have with yourself about not getting your hopes up, because what's going to make this time any different from the last 12 times?  and besides they're just boys, and really who needs'em?

i remember this all too well, because i experienced feelings that i hadn't felt in years again last weekend as I was standing on that boat headed up the potomac.  i'm 36 years old, have a great job, lived abroad, deployed to a war zone and sang the national anthem for a crowd of 20,000, and yet last weekend i felt insecure, that somehow once again i wasn't going to measure up and my entire existence needed to be validated by a boy.  it was like i was 17 again and going to a sock hop at school.

the fact that even still in my late thirties i was quaking in my heels and suddenly feeling as though my entire existence need validation from the opposite sex confounded me, threw me for a loop.  seriously.

i guess i still have some growing up to do.  sheesh.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

be still

...deliberately put aside the cares of the world, put aside the rush of our daily lives, and find a quiet place and a quiet time to sit and ponder and reflect and meditate.

If the voice of the Lord is still and small and it whispers, should it surprise us that His counsel is “Be still and know that I am God”?  There is great significance to that simple statement. Only as we are still can we learn to hear the still, small voice.    -El. Gerald N. Lund, “Is It Revelation?,” New Era, Jul 2004


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

everybody says don't - my musical history

Everybody says don't
Everybody says can't
Everybody says wait around for miracles
That's the way the world is made
I insist on miracles if you do them,
Miracles might come true,
Then I say don't...
Don't be afraid!
lyrics to Everybody Says Don't from Anyone Can Whistle 

I discovered this song at a time when I felt that everything in my life was telling me don't.  Don't do that or you'll miss out on this.  Don't do this or that thing you really want won't happen.  Don't dare to dream that your life could be different, that I could be different.  I was restless, wanting to have adventures and aching to spread my wings. 

In my twenties, there were a lot of things that I didn't do simply because I was too scared.  I had a lot of fun and great experiences, but I remember pushing through a lot of fear in order to get there.  Fear of failing, fear of trying, fear of succeeding.  Fear of everything that I dreamed of for myself.

I needed to hear someone tell me don't be afraid to fail, it's okay, it's just part of the journey.  Maybe someone did, but I didn't listen until this song.  It went straight to my heart and empowered me to take chances, and I listened to it again and again.  I feel that because of this song I was able to work up the nerve to go off to England where some of my long held childhood dreams came true.  I remember simply telling God that I was going to England, and when it was time for me to come home I would, but I wanted this chance and I was taking it.  It was empowering to learn to take control of my life. 

Those years in England were some of the best in my life so far, and most formative.  I fell in love for the first and second times.  I learned my heart can heal after ending serious relationships and making big mistakes.  I traveled to places I had only ever dreamed of, and made friends who are still a huge part of my life today.  I learned that God truly does have a plan for me and if I listen and follow him, then I really am happier and that faith and hope replace fear. 

It's hard for me to capture sufficiently what this song did for my life.  I still struggle with being afraid sometimes, but it's easier now to let go of the fear and move forward with faith.  Life doesn't always turn out as planned.  Sometimes I do fail, but when I do, I make a noise and get right back up.  I've learned that by insisting on miracles and working hard for them, my dreams really can come true.

I say do!
Plus, it's Barbra Streisand belting this song out.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Link to the video:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

afraid and moving forward

One day, my dad came into the house and asked my mom for some help outside.  He was building the chicken coop and needed help with something on the roof.  So, we all trooped outside with them to see what was going on and to help.  Up the ladder went my dad and my brothers, up the ladder started my mom with me right behind her.  Mom got up the ladder to the point where she had to step off the ladder onto roof, which took some manuevering because the ladder was much higher than the roof.  The chicken coop wasn't very high, maybe 10 to 12 feet off the ground, but high enough that when Mom looked down, she froze and couldn't move.  Unbeknownst to us, Mom was afraid of heights.  Just getting on the ladder and climbing as high as she did took a lot of guts for her.  Our chicken coop was on the edge of our hill overlooking a neighbor's house who was watching the whole thing, and as he put it, he was certain that only a cattle prod would move my mother off that ladder she was scared so stiff.

Eventually, Mom did get off the ladder.  She also became a lot bigger in my eyes, as I realized that she had tried to help even though she was so scared.  As I look back over the years, I can see how sometimes my mom was scared and worried about what life handed her, but she still found courage and moved forward.

I remember one time when Dad was gone for a couple of weeks on reserve duty.  Mom was pregnant again, had four kids to take care of and a chocolate brown Jersey cow named Blossom who had to be milked twice a day.  Mom was a little scared of Blossom, but managed to get her out of the pasture and up to our garage where the milking machine was set up, so that she could take care of the milking.  Usually we would close the side door to the garage, open up the larger main door and Blossom would saunter into her corner of the garage with no problems for her appointed milking.  However on this particular ocassion, that cow had a different idea.

Mom was walking Blossom up to the garage when Blossom headed for the open side door.  Mom tried to stop her from going through and somehow ended up trapped against the door jam, while Blossom squeezed her girth through that door and into the garage--think of the biblical analogy of a camel through the eye of a needle and you'll have the right idea.  I don't know how Mom didn't lose the baby from being squeezed that tightly or how she mustered up the courage to finish that milking.  My brothers were out there helping, I'm sure.  Somehow Mom managed to find her courage and move forward again.

Mom even managed to overcome her fear of heights and go rock climbing.  I can remember standing at the bottom of the cliff face in Boulder, Colorado looking up at Mom, and helping to encourage her as she carefully picked her way to the top.  I remember being so proud of her for being so brave.  We had a lot of fun on those climbing trips--the family that climbs stay together stays together.  Mom showed herself and her family that she could do things that scared her and make it to the top.

Mom does this a lot.  She stood up for my younger brother after the school bus driver called him a really bad name, scheduling a meeting between herself, the principal and the driver to discuss the situation and demand an apology.  She went on a week long camping trip to the Teton Mountains with me in my teens, even though she was really sick and had to bring her own food for the diet she had to be on.  She let the Navy recruiter know just how displeased she was that I was joining the Navy Reserve and heading off to bootcamp where I would be yelled at and disciplined in that very special way in which only drill instructors are capable.  She raised six kids as as stay at home and had four teenagers all in one go.  She got on a plane to London all by herself to come visit me, because she didn't want to let me down.  After falling down a flight of stairs, being a total invalid for several weeks and requiring not one, but two surgeries to repair the damages, she did lots and lots of very painful physical therapy and is now well on her way to a full recovery.

All these things and more represent the courage of my mother to me.  Even when she's stuck and afraid, somehow she finds the courage to move forward and get the job done.  I hope I'm like her in that way.

P.S. She's one of my heroes, and I love it when she puts teddy grahams in my care packages.

summer blessings

Just a few summer blessings, that make me really happy.

  My cute, red VW Jetta with a sun roof.
  My upside down tomato plants are growing well and have baby tomatoes on them.
  I have the cutest pair of bright green wedge heels.
  My job rocks and I have fun there every day.
  I am healthy and can go running in the mornings.
  There will be more beach time this summer and camping.
  During the summer, my spring allergies disappear.
  Cranberry-Pomegranate juice is really yummy.
  I have lots of good books to read this summer.
  DC farmer's markets are a great substitute for not being able to have my own garden.
  I am the cool aunt to 11 gorgeous nieces and nephews.
  I live so close to the Washington, DC LDS Temple.

Gosh, I love summer!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


i saw babies today.  it's now one of my favorites.  absolutely fascinating and delightful.  it was fun to watch in the theatre with kids who were just as tickled with the film as the adults.  i was totally charmed by watching the babies discover their worlds and react to their environments.  i didn't want it to end.

it really is a "huggable movie".


to my h.d.

I have fuzzy memories of snuggling into the crook of my dad's elbow with my blanky and my thumb in my mouth, and feeling safe as he rocked me back and forth until I fell asleep.  I'm not sure if the memories are mine or if they're from hearing my dad tell me about this.  Sometimes I wish I was that small again and could just settle into his arms for safe keeping.  My dad was larger than life at that point.  He was super dad and totally capable of keeping the dangers of life at bay.  Funny how, as I got older, my perceptions of my dad changed, but then I guess that's what happens to everyone who becomes a teenager and thinks they know it all.

I was a pretty mouthy teenager who didn't like working in the garden or basically much of what my parents wanted me to do.  I would generally do what they wanted without too much fuss, but once in a while I would be pretty stubborn about not doing something.  Each year my family had a garden, this was how we got our food and all six kids had a part to play.  We spent hours tilling, fertilizing, planting, hoeing, weeding, watering, harvesting and preserving our food supply for the next year.  We knew that if we didn't do our part, then we wouldn't have food.  One year my job was to hoe several rows of beans and keep them weed free.  This was usually done early in the morning before the heat hit.  Hoeing is essential for many reasons, not the least of which it breaks up the dirt so the water can flow down into the ground more easily.

I had put off hoeing the beans for a few days and the garden needed watering.  Frustrated with me, my dad grabbed me, walked me out to the garden, put a hoe in my hands, and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to hoe those beans. 

It was the middle of the day, right at the peak of summer heat.  It was hot and miserable.  I was so mad, I didn't want to hoe those beans.  "You're nothing but a mean old Hitler dad!" I yelled at him.

Dad raised his right hand and simply said, "Sieg Heil, daughter.  Now get hoeing!"  And I did while he stood there and watched until he was satisfied that I wasn't going to kill the beans with my temper and that I would finish the job.

Hitler dad has become a joke between my dad and I over the years.  There are moments I tell him he's an HD.  And it's true, he can be a Hitler Dad, but he can also be a Hero Dad.

A Hitler Dad when he makes me hoe those beans or take care of those awful chickens.  When he takes us on a tour of the county jail (he was a cop) and closes the door to the cell, leaving us all inside while he walks away.  When he sleeps through my phone call at 12:30 in the morning because the Dodge Dart won't start in the middle of a snowstorm and I'm stuck at school.  When he tells me, "It's my constitutional right as your father to tell what to do."  "You're right, Dad," I say, "Just as it's my constitutional right as your daughter to listen to you, and then do what I want to do anyway."  And then I sit back and watch his face go red.

A Hero Dad when he buys me the ugliest $300 brown car after I come home from serving a mission and a few months later co-signs my first car loan with me, because I really want a Jeep instead. When we serve together in the same reserve unit until he retires and I see firsthand the kind of Sailor I want to be when I grow up.  When he holds my hand and just lets me cry on the bed as my heart breaks because my younger brother is the first to get engaged and I'm the oldest in the family.  When he's so proud of me that he brags to all his friends about what I'm doing with my life.  When he lets my drive the '69 Dodge Dart for three years while I'm going to school , so I don't have to buy a car.  When he tells me he worries about me and prays for me every day.

Dads everywhere can run the gamut of frustrating and authoritarian to loving and tender.  And my dad is all of the above, and a hero.

P.S. Dad has been wanting me to tell this story for a while now.  Hope you like it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

i laughed

last night, i laughed the deep belly laugh of pure joy and release. 

i laughed at
the wonder of how much love there is in this world
the ridiculousness of my somewhat flawed view of self
the conversation with myself as i completed these realizations.

i laughed because
i was laughing
i heard my friend laughing
i let go of false beliefs about myself and replaced them with truths.

it was good to laugh.
and accept that i am truly, fundamentally without flaws. 
here's a secret: you are too.
this was reason enough to laugh with pure joy and wonder.

i felt somewhat like this:  cocooned in pure love and joy.

image via

Thursday, July 8, 2010

start where you are

                                                                    Start where you are.
                                                                    Distant fields
                                                                    always look greener,
                                                                    but opportunity
                                                                    lies right where you are.
                                                                    Take advantage of
                                                                    every opportunity
                                                                    of service.
                                                                    -Robert Collier

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

home to stay - my musical history

When I was living in England every day seemed like a gift, an adventure.  I remember thinking to myself on several occasions, "I'm totally living the dream."  This song embodies that feeling of living a dream come true, but also with the realization that it would come to an end and to make the most of each day.  I still try to live by this sentiment.

Here's the link:

Monday, July 5, 2010

wtb-week 18

Holy cow, I hurt for a couple of days!  Last week I saw a yellow sign at Lincoln Park advertising (read a WaPo review of the studio here).  For some reason I remembered the sign and checked it out when I got home.  A combination Pilates and ballet-barre workout developed by a dancer who was injured and wanted to get back in shape.  I was intrigued and convinved my friend KK to check it out with me at the basics class.

The workout wasn't quite what we expected--it was awesome.  We used the ballet-barre only as support during the different Pilates poses and as resistance during one of the ab sections.  I was sweating hard within the first ten minutes, much like I would be after a three-mile run.  I loved the concept of striking a dancer's pose, holding it and then isolating muscle groups in a surprisingly hard workout.  It worked my muscles on whole new levels way deep inside that I didn't even know I had.  I couldn't do every repetition or hold every pose.  I needed a lot of help finding the right pose and techniques.  I pushed and did as much as I could plus a little more.  It was satisfyingly exhausting in ways that only hard work can be.

It was the hardest workout I've had in a long time.  Turns out that we weren't at the basics class, we were at a regular class with one of the hardest instructors in the studio.  When KK and I found this out, we were impressed with ourselves and after seeing that we really could do more that we had to do more.  We'll be back next week.

Remember me writing about working out with my team before heading to Afghanistan, aahh, pyramid pushups--that's how my body feels now.  The feeling the next morning when I woke up and tried to move, that deep muscle soreness and burn that sticks around for days afterwards reminding me that I'm a bit of a wimp.  I have to say I love that feeling of having worked hard.

P.S. You can see some of the moves on this website.  It's not the same studio, and has more photos of the moves.

the holiday weekend

things that made me smile this weekend:

my flag hanging off the front porch
this grand flag flew in afghanistan too

my friend sw's house all decked out for the holiday

the sunset view of the capitol and the crowds all ready for fireworks

good friends together for the fireworks

a gorgeous sunset...

provides the perfect backdrop for the best fireworks show in the nation

more fireworks


love this view

so many fireworks

they almost obliterate the washington monument

until all that's left is the smoke blowing off in the wind

a magnolia blossom, unexpected and out of season

other stuff i don't have photos of
the capitol fourth rehearsal concert
with good friends
church and babies getting blessed
phone calls with family
and cleaning the bugs out of my furnace room so they don't take over my apartment.

i hope you had a happy fourth and a relaxing long weekend.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

a celebration

happy, happy independence day

enjoy the firewords where ever you are.

maybe make some of your own.  ;)

america the beautiful - my musical history

I just love this song, that's all. What a beautiful prayer for our country and citizens.

here's the link to the video:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

a declaration

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 2, 2010

why i am became an american citizen

One of my favorite things is my subscription to Real Simple.  Chock full of simple, down-to-earth ways to make life easier, this magazine makes me smile whenever I read it.  This month's issue highlights six women who became U.S. citizens during the past year.  Reading their stories in the article titled Why I Became an American Citizen and learning the reasons why they chose to become naturalized citizens made me feel so very thankful for the opportunities I have here in the good ol' U.S. of A.  What a blessed live I have here!

Here are the simple reasons:

Lorraine from Jamaica:  "To life free of fear."  "I had three locks on my bedroom door and slept with the lights on.  That constant sense of danger wore me down."  "Life in the United States has been good.  In Jamaica there's a feeling that you shouldn't have certain ambitions or dreams, because you don't have any money or you're not from the right family.  Here, I'm pursuing a nursing position, and my children...can do anything they want in future.  We live in a little square box apartment, but they'll grow up knowing that every door is open to them."

Monika from India:  "To be in a place where greatness is encouraged."  "I like the candidness of the culture.  I love being around people who are so ambitious and innovative--where the individual is celebrated.  I like the positivity here, too. Sometimes I think Americans must have invented the exclamation point--it's their state of mind."

Than Than from Myanmar: "To escape oppression."  "Despite the sadness that I knew i would endure when I left my loved ones.  I wanted the freedom that America offered--for me and my kids, whom I am trying to bring here.  ...the opportunities that exist here [are] worth any sacrifice."

Avishag from Israel:  "To be with my soul mate."  "The day I took the oath,... I was so excited.  It had taken me many years to get to this point...  It felt like a circle had closed:  Now my husband and two kids... and I would all be citizens.  Looking around the room that day with so many nationalities represented, I realized each of was closing his or her own circle.  I hope all come to the same conclusion that...I did: that if you work hard in America, you will have a wonderful life."

Michele from Russia:  "To break with my past."  "Despite the sad stuff that happened in my past, I remain a big optimist.  I like to think that's the American in me."

Maria from Peru:  "To give my parents--and myself--a better life."  "Many people come to America to help their families, but you have to help yourself, too.  ...overall I love being an American.  I love the fast pace of this culture, the ability to do a million things at once, and, most of all, the sense that there are infinite possibilities out there--all you have to do is grab hold of the one you want."

(Sloan, Carrie, Booth, Stephanie and Tate, Ashley. "Why I Became an American." Real Simple, July 2010: 186-192. Print.)

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

vespa dreams

last night i dreamed i was in malta
riding a vespa that switched colors depending on my mood
along a narrow walled coastal highway
overlooking crystal blue waters with white breakers

and lunch was in mdina on the side of the hill with a
view of the red-domed cathedral in the next town over

and then i woke up
and i wanted to be back in malta