Attitude of Gratitude

This morning, right when I was getting home from taking my kids to school, the sun was just coming out from behind Mt. Nebo. So I ran into the house, grabbed my camera, and dashed out to take this shot. It was so fun to capture this moment on film that I didn't even care that I was standing in the gutter wearing my pajamas that make me look a bit like Elvis Presley. (Thankfully, there's a law in my town that says it's okay to take your children to school while wearing your pajamas--even Elvis resembling ones, and you can still be a good, ambitious mother, and that afterward it's okay to take pictures of the sunrise, still wearing said pajamas.)

Of course, taking a picture of the sunrise reminded me of the song "Sunrise" by Duran Duran. "Reach up for the sunrise, put your hands into the big sky. You can touch the sunrise, feel the new day, enter your life."

This song, and sunrises in general, remind me of being thankful, and when I'm feeling thankful and in an attitude of gratitude, I'm happy, and I like to be happy because it's really cool and way better than feeling sad or grouchy.

With that being said, and with Thanks Giving just two days away, I would like to share thirty of the many things I'm thankful for, in no particular order.

1. My family (husband, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, grandparents, ancestors etc.)
2. The Savior
3. My house
4. My pajamas
5. Hugs and kisses (not the chocolate kind, the calorie free kind)
6. Food that tastes really good
7. Learning
8. My house
9. The gospel
10. Good books
11. Computers
12. Shoes
13. My car (legal and everything)
14. My talents
15. Socks to keep my feet warm
16. Walking outside barefoot in the summer (except when I keep stepping on a hornets in the grass)
17. My garden
18. Fruit trees
19. Clothes
20. Creativity
21. Chairs to sit on or I'd be standing all day
22. Fireplace to keep me warm
23. Spring
24. Autumn colors and harvest
25. Music
26. Nature
27. Friends
28. Good people
29. Freedom
30. Makeup (sorry, what can I say?)
31. Exercise (I tried to keep an even 30, but this one popped into mind.)
32. Oh, and when my kids obey
33. Just one more. Sorry. Forgiveness
34. Okay, this is the last one. I promise. Love
35. The stars in the sky (Might as well make it 35, it ends better than 34.)

I hope you can take a moment and write down those things you are thankful for and feel your gratitude for them in your life. :) Happy Thanks Giving!

Character Imperfections

Seven years ago, I wrote my fist novel. It is still sitting on my desk in manuscript form, collecting dust, because it was rejected by publishers. There are many reasons it was rejected, and one of them was because the main character had a huge flaw. She was perfect.

She was perfectly beautiful, perfectly behaved, perfectly everything and it was rather boring and maybe even a little annoying.

So when I wrote my second novel, I gave my main character, Lexi, some imperfections, something to make her relatable and approachable. She came alive and seemed very real, experiencing embarrassment, fear, insecurity, bravery, anger, and other emotions that we all experience in our life journey. This, in my opinion--because I created her so of course I would feel this, made her seem loveable, relatable, and unique. And if there is one thing I have learned as an author, it's that you want your reader to relate with your main character on some level, because when they care about the character, they care about what happens to them throughout the rest of the story. (You can read all about Lexi in Deadly Treasure. A novel based on the real life mystery surrounding the Lost Rhoades Gold Mines.)

So why is it hard to look at our own imperfections and flaws and feel loveable, relatable, and unique? The song "Freckles", by Natasha Bedingfield, was awakening for me. Some of the lyrics are: "A face without freckles is like a sky without the stars, why waste a second not lovin' who you are." Now, "freckles" could easily be changed to "wrinkles" for the aging, or even "pimples" for the youth. In any case, "those little imperfections make you beautiful, loveable, valuable, they show your personality inside your heart, reflecting who you are."

Not only are we still loveable despite our little imperfections, but maybe we're more loveable and valuable because of them. (Unless, of course, it's stealing or something like that. But then that would be a major character flaw, not a little imperfection.)

So take a step back and picture yourself as the main character in your life novel. What quirky little imperfections do you posses? I bet most of them make you unique, relatable, and loveable.

Listen to "Freckles" on YouTube.

Fruits of Labor

This was my counter a few weeks ago. As you can tell from this picture, I was overwhelmed with the amount of produce I had to use or store so that it wouldn't go to waste.

It took a lot of work to get it like this:

Now, I have always tried getting around work, looking for a short cut, or just trudging through it, hoping for it to end. But lately, I've discovered the wondrous enjoyment I get from doing work. There is a certain satisfaction that just can't be replaced by taking a short cut or having someone else do it for you.

This is what I discovered while spending three days in a row to get to the bottom of all those boxes of apples, and what I kept reminding myself when my back ached from standing all day, and when I burned myself from hot apple jam mix jumping right out of the pot and landing on my wrist.

But now I can enjoy the fruits of my labor, both in satisfaction, and because I get to eat it.

My Day From Heck

I'm the author of my life, creating my own character; me. Only unlike most characters in books, I am real, and I can create, to a large extent, the plot of my life. (Which can be anywhere from exciting and fun to problematic. But it helps to know that a good problem or growing experience is essential to a good novel.) The point is to celebrate and enjoy my life journey.

One of the ways I do this is remember that sometimes trials can eventually become funny with enough time. Such as the following experience I wrote in my journal several years ago. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent. :)

"My Day From Heck:

A couple of weeks ago I returned home after a shopping trip. My 14-month-old child fell asleep on the way home, so I left him asleep in the truck (which was parked in the garage) because I knew he would wake up if I put him in his bed, and I wanted him to have his nap. While I unloaded groceries, my seven-year-old daughter made herself a PBJ snack and my three-year-old girl wanted some too and was beginning to get upset that I wanted to finish unloading the groceries and bring the baby in before I made her one.

The phone rang at that moment, and it was one of my oldest child's teachers calling with some difficult-to-hear information about said child's classroom behavior. Now most parents do not enjoy hearing such news about someone they gave birth to, at least I didn't, and I was close to tears.

During the phone call, and while trying to defend my child and bring in the remaining grocery bags from the truck all at the same time, my three-year-old began screaming because she wanted her older sister's sandwich and tried to grab it from her. I took her by a sticky jam hand up to her room and closed the door, but that only muted the sound.

When I got off the phone, I was so close to tears that they almost leaked from my eyes. But I didn't have time to just sit and cry since my baby was still in the car, my three-year-old was still screaming in her room, and I still had a mound of grocery bags to go through.

While descending the stairs to the garage from the kitchen, (this was in a four-level split), my three-year-old ran out of her room crying even more because she had wet her pants.  

So, thinking things through, I told her to take off her pants while I got the baby from the truck and then I'd come up and help her. But when I stepped back into the house with my sleeping baby in my arms, I heard a man's voice coming from the front door asking, "Is your mom or dad home?"

I sped up the stairs and found that my wet three-year-old had opened the door for a young man selling pizza coupons, only she had obeyed me first by taking off her wet pants, and stood at the door in nothing but a shirt and jam all over her face and hands.

Now at this point I could have just given up, but that wasn't really an option. Instead, I sent the man on his way, put down my baby who promptly woke up, and grabbed a wet cloth to wipe down my sticky-wet daughter, only to find her chasing the man down the sidewalk still wearing only her shirt."

Seven years have passed since this day, and now I look at it and laugh. I also look at it and think, that was a bad day? I've had many since then that would make this day look like nothing. But I try to remember the blessings, and I have much to be grateful for. I also try to imagine that life is like a novel, and a good novel is one where each page and each scene is worth reading.