Saturday, December 31, 2011

looking back

Looking back at my resolutions for 2011 was eye opening. I didn't accomplish most of them. But at the end of this year, more so than any other year in recent memory, I feel differently about myself, who I truly am, what I truly want and where I'm headed. I'm definitely a different and better person than when I started out this year, and that feels good.

This wasn't an easy year for me personally. I wasn't always happy with myself. I struggled through some really tough stuff this year and am still struggling with some of it. Growing is painful and this year was no exception. 

This year was awesome though! And I'm so thankful for all my experiences and all the growing. I still have a long way to go, but I'm a little closer to where I want to be.

What I succeeded in doing:
- Being more child like: I had a lot of fun this year listening to my inner child and giving into her this year. I got a fish, watched a lot of Muppets YouTube Videos, have a new dog friend, and laughed much more than I have in a while.
- Turned off the television: cancelled my cable bill. Everything I want to watch is available on Netflix, online, or via iTunes, and it's on my schedule when I choose.
- Planned and carried out the first ever Boyer Family Reunion. I'm proudest of fulfilling this resolution. We decided it will now be an annual event. I can't wait for the next one.
- Spend more time being quiet - scripture study, prayer and meditation.
- Save money and travel. So, I saved money, but didn't travel nearly as much as I would have liked. Something to work on.
- Be open to adventures in rain, love, family and life. 2011 was definitely an adventure. I fell in love (twice!), spent good, quality time with family and friends, moved into a house (above ground living space = yay!) and learned quite a bit about who I truly am and what I really want.
All in all a rather successful year.

So, for 2012:
- I like this idea: To participate more fully in my life and that of the people around me. Be more present in the present.
- Refine and increase my quiet time - scripture study, prayer, fasting and meditation.
- Get a new job that contributes more meaningfully to helping people and goodness. And most importantly, be where God wants me to be.
- Be open to Love in all its iterations. It really is all we really need.
- Take more photos. Play more music. Dance more. Play more. Create more.
- Run a race with my sister. (I always say I'm going to do this one, but now it's written down, officially.)
- Follow through.
- Re-evaluate first impressions.
- Do stuff that scares me. Trust.
- Strengthen.
- Forgive.

Happy New Year! More than what you want, may you receive what you need.

random resolutions

sweet green, which has really yummy salads and is a favorite place to eat,
started a new year's resolution post-it window display. love this!

here are a few for inspiration.

happy new year!
may all your dreams come true in this new year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

christmas scenes

for two weeks my camera was lost. i found it yesterday--woohoo!
so, finally a few christmas photos....

dad, some of the roses are still blooming here.

two cute houses. 

the christmas eve pageant.

candlelight carol

my front yard = 1200 lights
and the little trees are made using upside down tomato cages.

our christmas tree

hope that yours was merry and bright.

christmas at longwood gardens

I went to one of my most favorite places on the east coast this week.
I love gorgeous Longwood Gardens.

All photos are taken with my Droid Incredible 2 phone--Amazing.

See the full album here:
12-27-2011 Longwood Gardens Christmas

Thursday, December 29, 2011

thoughtful thursday: participate more fully

"Every new year, people make resolutions. I stole my perpetual resolution a couple of decades ago from a man named Leo who woke up at age 54 and said, "I can't read. I'm going to learn how." I met him through Literacy Volunteers of America.

"He had decided, he said, to participate more fully in his own life and that of the people around him. To do that, he needed to know how to read. Taking that first step must have been hard.

"He'd spent decades trying to disguise what he didn't know before he decided to go for it.

"That's the attitude I want to take into this new year and all the ones that follow it. It's what you don't yet know that leads to the next frontier."

 (Collins, Lois M. "Resolve to turn life's 'what-ifs' into 'so-whats'. Deseret News 29 Dec 2011. online)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

i was fine...

until i went back to work today. now i'm needing me a little of all this...

yep, today i'm just a little homesick for family.

Monday, December 26, 2011

things that made me smile this week

totally forgot to mention last week:

*a stunning performance of The Messiah at the Kennedy Center. for the past three years i've attended with wonderful friends, and the performances were beautiful. this year's performance was special and so beautifully done with feeling and musicianship that it is know my favorite performance. the bass and tenor were my favorites to listen to, because they sang with so much feeling and enjoyment, you could feel their love and excitement for what they were singing. the conductor looked like he was twelve, and was so energetic; he was a joy to watch as he directed the musicians without a score in front of him. the choir was so unified this year, they sounded as one voice with no soloists in the bunch. i loved this performance and was moved to tears many times.

and now for this week:

* baking cookies and making peppermint marshmallows with friends. it made the work of baking all the christmas cookies much easier and a lot more fun.

* church bells ringing on christmas eve do my heart good.

* little kids dressed as mary and joseph, the oxen and sheeps, shepherds and wiseman, and angels. there is almost nothing better than this on christmas eve.

* spending quiet time on christmas day. i'm so glad i didn't travel for christmas this year. it was so nice to spend time on my own thinking about the true meaning of christmas, reading the christmas story and watching these new movies.

* spending time with josiah. he's a such a good dog and seems to know when i'm feeling a little homesick.

* listening to nieces and nephews recount their christmas treasures and how much fun they're having.

* skype is awesome. i wish more of my family would join the 21st century and get webcams so we can video chat. it's so fun to see people's faces as we talk.

* finding the differences and commonalities with a new friend and having a grown up conversation and making a grown up decision. all very good things.

* cat sitting for a friend. i was joyously greeted by peter and mimi on more than one occasion when i stopped by to feed and play with them. i love these two kitties.

* homemade beef stew. cooking with my new knives. chopping vegetables was never so easy.

* learning that i know myself better than i thought i did.

* homemade pizza for christmas dinner and the company of good friends. i love my dc family.

* receiving the gift of my first ever power tool, a drill, from a good friend.

* christmas lights.

* during the christmas eve service, having my little friend ask me what the candles were for. mom and i both explained that it was to share the light for christmas. i asked who the light was and then helped her understand that Jesus is the light. she totally got it and kept saying she was going to share Jesus with me.

* not setting an alarm. heaven.

* cold weather. hot chocolate. good conversation.

* christmas eve breakfast date at eastern market with a good friend.

* the missionaries coming over for carols and cookies. they serenade me with christmas carols and i give them cookies in return.

* a new year is right around the corner with lots of good things.

Friday, December 23, 2011

repeat the sounding the joy

A colleague posed this question on her Facebook status: "What does it mean to 'repeat the sounding joy'?" I can't stop thinking about this. What a wonderful Christmas question!

Shepherds near Bethlehem were tending their flocks during the night, when suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared saying: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is the Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

These shepherds received specific instructions on how to find this Saviour; he would be a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:12). They followed these instructions quickly searching Bethlehem for the child and upon finding him and seeing the angel's words fulfilled "they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:17-18).

I love this story. Good tidings of great joy are given to a group of men who follow the instructions and then share the news of what they found with their neighbors in Bethlehem. If this isn't an example of repeating the sounding joy, then I don't know what is.

Repeating the sounding joy is loudly and joyfully done at Christmas, but it should be done all year through. Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ both in word and by example are the best ways to repeat the sounding joy and to give the wondrous gifts of Christmas. "These are the gifts that we can offer to others for Him. We do that by remembering him and trying with all out hearts to do what he would do and love as he loves" (El. Eyring, 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional).

So, repeat, repeat the sounding joy!!!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

thoughtful thursday: spirit of CHRISTmas

The spirit of Christmas is something I hope all of us would have within our hearts and within our lives, not only at this particular season but also throughout the years.

A wise Christian once urged, "Let us not spend Christmas ... but let us keep Christmas in our hearts and in our lives."

This is my plea tonight, because when we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.

There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to principles taught by Jesus Christ. 

Pres. Thomas S. Monson, 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, Because He Came.

Monday, December 19, 2011

things that made me smile this week

ugh. what a week. i'm glad it's over and that it ended on a much better note.

* my sister urging me to come visit her for christmas. my nephews explanations of why i should come. my bro-in-law even looking up flights for me. ultimately, i decided not to go (outrageous ticket prices), but knowing that they wanted me to come for christmas just made me feel loved and wanted. thank you.

* making christmas boughs to hang on my front door and the neighbor's door.

* christmas songs. all week long classical weta 90.9 fm has been playing the most gorgeous christmas music. (you can listen too, just click on the link to listen live.)

* thinking about my brother chris and remembering.

* good friends who reached out to me this week to make sure i'm doing okay.

* singing in church. i sang this arrangement of what child is this?

* spending time with a new friend over dinner and a movie. much needed good company and laughter.

* starbuck's salted carmel hot chocolate. sooooooo good. i'm addicted.

* taking a friend to airport, only to realize right before the exit that i was headed to the wrong aiport and that the airport she needed was clear on the other side of the city and in a different state. we had a good laugh after we got to the right airport with time to spare. MW, i love that we are always laughing, or crying, or both.

* talking on the phone with my dad.

* finding the package my mom mailed me untouched on the porch the morning after it was delivered.

* the WaPo funny papers delivered to me by a friend. i'm so looking forward to reading them.

* my roommate and i keep on having moments where people can't decide what we are. it always makes us laugh so hard afterwards.

* helping a friend with some lifting and laundry folding before she headed home for the holidays. i had so much fun hanging out with her and her daughter.

* writing christmas cards.

* some christmas shopping. i have a few things left to buy and then i'm done... or not.

* a prayer of thanksgiving that i didn't kill myself or the person in front of me while driving to work one morning.

* a blessing of comfort that truly helped to calm my mind and spirit.

* my ipod. listening to the scriptures on the morning commute.

* remembering this and writing about it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

a memory

Time flies when you're living, she thought. It was only moment ago she was standing in the middle of a forested mountain hollow covered in snow. She enjoyed where she was, in a silence so deep she could actually hear snowflakes hitting the ground as they fell. She could hear the muted plopping of clumps of snow sliding from branches so laden down they flew back up as their tension was released.

The quiet of a place where no man made sounds intruded, sank deep into her soul and calmed every bit of her. She stood still letting the cold and silence seep into her until she no longer felt warm and would need to move again. She continued watching the falling snow and her breath steaming in and out. Occasionally, lifting a gloved hand to catch a clump of snowflakes for a glimpse of crystalline perfection before it dissolved, she sank even further into the silence. Finally, she began moving through the snow, lifting her knees high, carefully balancing as her feet plunged into depths of snow searching for a hold, back to where she had begun that morning.

She was trying to hold onto the stillness inside her, the feeling that God was so near that all she needed do was brush back a curtain to see him standing there. I need to hold onto this, she thought, I need to remember this. So, she walked without saying anything, just keeping still. Her breath coming a little harder, she was starting to feel a bit warm from the exertions. The snow was coming down faster and in spite of the noise she was making, she could still hear it falling, hitting the ground.

Her heart was so peaceful. She hadn't felt this way in a long time and wondered, why now? But didn't question further, just held onto the peace and the quiet that her soul was feeling. She knew she would need this, that it was important. She stopped in an opening through the trees and lifted her face to sky. She needed to rest, catch her breath. She looked around her, at the black and white perfection of the scene. It was like seeing an Ansel Adams photograph in 3-D. The aspen trunks were silvery white with black markings, and the snow had covered up all the other colors. Such beauty was not seen every day.

The snow touched her cheeks and instantly melted, turning to drops of water that ran down her face like tears. She smiled at the thought. She felt good, renewed. She knew God was speaking to her, calming her and so she said a silent prayer of thanks. When she was done, she moved forward again.

Her companion finally spoke, "There. That's where we left the four-wheeler." She looked at him and smiled to show she heard, not wanting to break the stillness with her own voice. They moved on quietly, not touching or speaking, but enjoying the other's company.

They reached the aspen stand where they had parked earlier. He pulled out the water bottles and she opened hers and drank. "Thank you," she said, smiling at him. Her voice felt a little strange to her, like she hadn't used it in a while.

He smiled back, his green eyes crinkling. "You okay?" he asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"You’re awfully quiet."

"I know. Sorry. Lots on my mind."

"Do you want to talk?"

"No, not right now." she took another drink.

"Okay," he too drank. "We should head back. You need to get going back to your brother's."

"Yes. I'm not looking forward to the drive. It will be hard with all the new snow."

"Just go slow and you'll be okay." he capped off his bottle. "You ready?"

"Sure," she took one last drink and handed him the bottle. He stowed them in the saddle bag on the four-wheeler and climbed on. She took one last look around her, said one last silent prayer of thanks and climbed on behind him.

The engine roared to life, cutting through the silence. He moved it into gear and they lurched forward. She slid her arms around him to hold on and rested her cheek against his back.

"Funny, how there's even a silence in the middle of this sound," she thought and became lost in the rumbling of the engine, the peace that was staying deep down inside her, and watching the trees slide by as they moved down the mountain.

That morning in the mountains seemed so far away, as she stood, a few hours later, holding onto her sister-in-law’s hand, in the middle of the room talking on her cell phone with a family friend, who was also a police officer, listening to him tell her about the accident and that there was no hope, that her brother hadn't made it. 

And now it all seemed so long ago, and blurred with the passage of time. Every year it seemed she remembered a little more. The time spent in the woods with her friend where God had blessed her with so much peace before she would so desperately need it. Feeling that peace from the snow covered mountains come back over and over again, not just that day but many times over the years and knowing that God knew her, knew her needs and was taking care of her. And to her, that was all that mattered, all she needed.

hilltop star

Hilltop Star was inspired by the Christmas star we put on our barn every year. I always loved turning at the last corner on the main road through Paradise to head south and out of town, because I knew I would be able to catch a glimpse of the star on our hill. When I was older, I would drive along 9300 South just so I could see more of the star earlier.

Our house on the hill painted by a SIL's sister
The star would go on the white barn to the right
Returning home for the holidays, after being overseas or moving away, always felt real as soon as I saw our hilltop star. For me, the star is a symbol of home and homecoming. Sailors navigated using stars, returning home safely by following the stars. If you're lost and can find the North Star, you always know which way you're headed. Wise men of old followed stars, especially a new star in the East, to home of the Christ child to worship and present him gifts. They knew, as I do, that this child was the Messiah and the only way home. Wise men and women today still follow stars and know that Christ is the true North star leading us back to our true home. 

My brother Chris and I decided to write a song together and we thought a song about our star would be fitting. We both wanted to express the sense of awe we got when looking up at the stars, and of homecoming. I think we did. The recording is from Chris's funeral in December 2003. The performance is a little shaky, but the sentiments we wanted to express are there. 

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

thoughtful thursday: patience

…the work of patience boils down to this: keep the commandments; trust in God, our Heavenly Father; serve Him with meekness and Christlike love; exercise faith and hope in the Savior; and never give up. --Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference April 2010

i've been thinking about and re-reading this talk a lot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

things that made me smile

a bit late this week, but better late...

* a meeting at church that confirmed i'm on the right path. it's a good feeling.

* figuring out how to plug in my front garden christmas lights. it took a bit of thinking and ingenuity, but i figured it out.

* standing up for myself in a conversation with someone who is having boundary issues. it's nice to know that i can be firm and clear when required.

* shakespeare. much ado about nothing. bearded spanish guitar players who also sing. brilliant dancing. and love recquited. "sigh no more my ladies..."

* baked and wired cupcakes. it's like eating cake, truly. these are not cupcakes, my friends. they are cakes in a cup. and yes, there is a difference.

* smart phone. yes, i finally caved and bought one. it's been fun to figure out. although, i'm now wishing i had bought the iphone...

* buying a 7 1/2 foot christmas tree. once the delivery guys set in the stand, and stood it up, there was less than 1/4 inch between it and the ceiling. perfect!

* hanging out with a cute friend who just makes me smile. love ya MW and i'm so gonna miss ya.

* christmas carols.

* a full moon.

* brrrr. it's cold out requiring coats, gloves, hats and boots. :)

* and so much more i can't think of it all....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

i'm listening to christmas...

I'm listening to Christmas music a lot lately. It makes me sing. It makes me happy. It makes me smile. Here are some of my favorites this year:

A Steinway Christmas Album: Piano Music for the Season

available here
  I'm a sucker for good piano music and this is GREAT piano music. I love the arrangements. They're orchestral (yes! on a piano), and beautiful. This is great background music for Christmas dinner or reading. I just keep listening over and over. It has one of the best arrangements of Sleigh Ride I've ever heard and so here for your listening pleasure...

The Oak Ridge Boys: Christmas Cookies

available here
I'm also a sucker for a good musical storytelling and a low bass voice, and this album has it all. Great vocals with lots of personality and beautiful storytelling. Their song "Christmas Cookies" is sure to bring a smile, "Uncle Luther Made the Stuffing" will make you laugh, and "From Love to Love" will make you pause for a moment. I love the Oak Ridge Boys and this album justifies my love. (Wish I could find a preview song.)

The Colors of Christmas, John Rutter

available here
John Rutter is my choral idol. If I ever attended one of his concerts or got to sing under his direction, I would die a happy, completely fulfilled woman. The choral work by The Bach Choir on this album is gorgeous, lush and a gift for my ears. Full of traditional carols to contemporary favorites, it brings the spirit of the season in all its auditory glory. A few favorites: "Ding Dong! Merrily on High", "I Wonder as I Wander", "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "A New Year Carol". Gorgeousness abounds!

So, Merry Christmas and all that jazz! I'd love to hear what you've been listening to, so please share in the comments.

thoughtful thursday: pause to wonder

He who can no longer pause to wonder 
and stand rapt in awe
is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
--Albert Einstein

lots more holiday photos

Monday, December 5, 2011

things that made me smile this week

* alone time.

* lots of time spent with friends at the theater, a birthday party, change of command and retirement ceremonies, church and online.

* books.

* my sister. i love her sooooo much!

* dinner with the top leadership in my reserve unit. i am so blessed to work with some really good people.

* christmas decor and lights are popping up all over the neighborhood.

* church in the afternoon at a new location. i liked the afternoon church this past sunday because at the end of my busy-ness i could get to church and not miss too much of it.

* the beginning of a much needed conversation.

* the sunset over the anacostia river on the way home from church. it was gloriously orange and reflected beautifully in the water.

* getting some sleep and having some goofy dreams about michelle obama being my new best friend and another about runaway reindeer a la ernest saves christmas. i woke up laughing.

* planning time to see friends and catch up.

* spending an evening with kevin kline. i so enjoy the theater.

* christmas music on my ipod while wrapping 700 lights on my dogwood tree only to discover that i had no way to plug them in... and then figuring out how to plug them in. big, big smile.

* actually doing something i pinned on

* remembering christmas past and appreciating christmas present.

* making arrangements for the Messiah at the kennedy center. my favorite.

* writing my list of things that made me smile this week. it was a really fun week.

Friday, December 2, 2011

scenes from my neighborhood

little buddha in a garden

more fall roses


just around the corner from my house

neighborhood thanksgiving decor

just wanted to share the last vestiges of fall from my neighborhood.
christmas decor is up all over the place now. yay!