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The Heart of Life

The Heart of Life: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Life Chronicled

I never intended this blog to be something I recorded my life on, but I’m going to take the liberty of doing an update.

The most relevant new thing in my life is that I am done working in the nursery. I did the simultaneous nursery aide/Good-Touch/Bad-Touch facilitator thing for a while, but I just wasn’t loving the nursery aide part. Since Good-Touch/Bad-Touch (GTBT) was during school hours, I was scheduled to be in the nursery at nights, and this really put a damper on my evenings. It put a damper on my entire week, really. Monday and Thursday nights were the only weekdays I could spend more than 3 waking hours with my husband. Since Monday nights are FHE, Thursday nights were the only time we could do our ward missionary visits, so Thursday evenings got scheduled up pretty quickly. Thus, Monday nights were my only truly free nights. How lame is that? But I’m done now, and I’ve been loving spending more time with my husband. Maybe I can also hang out with some old friends or make new friends!

GTBT has been fun. It’s mind-blowing that I not only like this job, but that I’m actually pretty good at it. When I was twelve I gave a talk in church (very quickly, apparently), and the high councilman speaking after me said something to the effect that he’d never heard anyone talk so fast. I was mortified, and vowed to never speak in public again. Obviously, that’s going well—I give around 9 presentations (speed talking) a week. It’s so ironic. To add to the irony, the worst final grade I got in my college career happened to be in a public speaking class.

The comments kids make in GTBT are so hilarious sometimes. Before you read the rest of this paragraph, I should give a disclaimer--this story is ever so slightly inappropriate (but so funny). But keep in mind a 3rd grader said it. Read ahead at your own risk. In a 3rd grade class I asked them to give me examples of times when somebody is looking at or touching private body parts, but it’s not sexual abuse. One boy said, “When you play football or baseball you have to get a physical, and they… they…” Another boy chimed in, “They check your balls!” I had to employ some major poker face. I sensed that most of the class didn’t catch what he said, so I moved on to the next thing before they had time to start being all giggly and embarrassed because he said “balls.”

In September a really fun job fell into my lap. I decided that I wanted to teach violin, so I emailed the 4th and 5th grade strings program in a local school district to see if they had any teacher openings. They responded no, but they were interested in possibly hiring me as a substitute. I sent them a paragraph of my qualifications, and they said they wanted to meet with me. I was expecting an interview-like meeting, but instead she just went through the paragraph I’d sent her and pointed out all the things she liked about me. She was satisfied with my violin experience (and that I play the piano) and was particularly interested in my fiddling experience. She liked that I taught GTBT not only because I had experience teaching that age group in a classroom setting, but also because I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the schools in the district. So she hired me as a sub then and there. Piece of cake. I’ve averaged about one substitution job a week, and starting next week I’m filling in for a teacher who is going on maternity leave. It’s been so much fun. Another perk is that I recognize some of the kids from GTBT. It has also inspired me to get back on the violin practice bandwagon. I’ve practiced every day this week! Lastly, it has enabled me to be freed from the nursery! I get done with work around the same time my husband does! It’s so great. The one dark cloud in my sky is that I won’t be able to do it for very long, even though I want to. Chances are, we’ll move away from our lovely blue house this summer.

In other news, I found Pinterest and have since become addicted. It is so fun. I’ve never been so crafty in my life. There are also some really awesome recipes on there. So I’ve been cooking a lot, too. I learned to make bread, so now I’m hooked on homemade bread. Now that it’s cold again, I’m addicted to hot chocolate. Not that I don’t drink hot chocolate regularly year-round, but it becomes a legitimate addiction this time of year. Lately I’m in love with two spoonfuls of regular hot chocolate mix, one spoonful of white hot chocolate mix, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

My husband is great. I’ve not been in a joking mood lately, so when he jokes about something funny I did, it never seems funny. I was eating some cinnamon bread, and sprinkled some of the extra cinnamon sugar on my slice, and he chuckled and said something to the effect of, “You need more cinnamon sugar on there?” After a few minutes of being defensive and hurt, I told him that was the worst fat joke I’d ever heard. Bless his heart. I get bent out of shape over the stupidest things sometimes. He accepts and tolerates me so well. He and I have been watching a lot of baseball lately. By this, I mean that he watches the game and I knit. I've done a lot of knitting. I've learned a lot about baseball, though, so I think it's been good bonding time.

Well, that is the condensed update. Over and out.


Monday, October 17, 2011


Once upon a time I faithfully posted on this blog once a week, every week. Then life got kind of crazy, and now I’m out of the habit. At this point in time, my schedule is slightly more stable, so I think it’s time to resurrect my poor blog.
In elementary school I was somewhat notorious for being the girl who could and would read every book—quickly, too. I read just about anything I could get my hands on. I did avoid sci-fi, but our library was so small that sometimes I couldn’t avoid it. We were only allowed to read books within a point or two of our reading level (I guess they didn’t want us to read easy books), so there were only so many books I was allowed to read.
I participated in binge reading for years. Once I got to high school, I hit a wall. I was finally sick of reading. After several years of recovery, I had to do some real soul searching to figure out what I really liked to read.
At times I enjoy popular fiction, but more often than not my patience with them is short. If a book gets cheesy, I immediately give up on it. If it is annoyingly predictable, I don’t bother finishing it. Even if an author’s style of writing—her voice, her dialogs, her plot —seems shallow or meaningless, I can’t enjoy it. My reading disorder has left me with an extremely picky appetite for literature.
I have yet to come across a work of classic literature that I did not love. I worked on an unabridged version of Hugo’s Les Miserables off and on for several years. It was absolutely beautiful (although he does get long-winded at times). Although I’m not 100% sure if The Little Prince (by Antoine de Saint-Exupery) really is a classic, it was so lovely and poignant that I consider it to be so. I’ve never gone wrong in reading any book by Jane Austen, and I am very fond of Shakespeare.
I also love memoirs and autobiographies—people telling their own stories. Even if the book isn’t very well written, I love the honesty of it, for fate drew the storyline. I like the interesting details of their memories. I read a ton of these for my social work classes, and I was rarely disappointed. I loved Turning Stones by Parent and Somebody’s Someone by Regina Louise. Both got a little raw at times, but life gets that way sometimes. Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother by Chua was both funny and fascinating. I read one about a girl who was raised in an orphanage run by extremely abusive nuns (The Unbreakable Child by Kim Richardson) and another about a girl who was raised by a mother who subjected her to Muchausen Syndrome by proxy (Sickened by Julie Gregory). Most of these that I read are super depressing. I love them, though.
Lastly, I love books about ideas. I guess you could call them philosophical. Suzuki’s Nurtured by Love has some fantastic ideas about the creation of talent. In Man’s Search for Meaning Frankl combines his experiences in a World War II concentration camp with psychology to explore life’s meaning (I would classify it as an autobiography as well). The book I’m currently working on fits under this category. It is a fairly popular one by C.S. Lewis—Mere Christianity. The cool thing about this book is that he uses concrete examples to describe very abstract ideas. He explains the logic of Christianity in general terms, not favoring any one Christian religion.
I just read a part in which he makes a very interesting point. He describes a fleet of ships and the factors that make a successful journey possible. So, in honor of Columbus day last week, imagine the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria sailing together across the ocean in search of India. What do they need to do to get to their destination safely? First of all, they need to not run into each other. If the Santa Maria and the Nina crash into each other, that’s two ships down, which leaves just the Pinta—hardly a fleet if there is only one ship left. They must be unified in purpose and do nothing to sabotage a fellow ship.
Also, each of the ships need to be in perfect working order. If all three of Columbus’s ships had decided to sail in a certain formation in order to avoid collisions, it does no good if the Pinta’s steering mechanism is broken—the Pinta will crash into one of the other ships anyway. Things need to be well within each ship to make all go well in the interactions between all three ships.
Lastly, it’s great if all the ships are in perfect condition and are unified in their destination, but if they don’t reach the correct destination, those things don’t matter. Columbus’s ships were trying to reach India, but instead landed in America! Mission failed! Now, I’m glad that Columbus made this mistake, because he happened upon a pretty awesome place. As grateful as I am, the fact remains that they got it wrong. All went well on their journey, but they journeyed to the wrong place.
According to Lewis (and I agree), the people of this earth are subject to the same three factors this fleet of ships is subject to. In order to have a successful journey through life, people must be kind to each other—they must not collide with or injure those traveling alongside them throughout life. They need to be united in abiding the laws of the land as well as moral laws.
Secondly, each person must ensure that he or she has a “sea-worthy” body and mind, so to speak. They must have the ability to follow these laws. For example, if a certain substance impairs a person’s judgment, he may not be able to avoid having these collisions with the people in his life, even if he wishes to avoid them. Just as a ship with a faulty steering device can negatively affect the perfectly good ships around it, what happens within one person can negatively affect a number of innocent people around him.
Lastly, people can be following the laws and keeping their bodies and minds in good shape, but if they aren’t headed to the correct destination, they have still got it wrong. This is where Christianity comes in the picture—up until now it has been just about universal morals, such as honesty, loyalty, etc. When you consider Columbus and his journey, there was a third party. Columbus was the one who wanted to sail, but it was the Queen of Spain who gave him a destination—India. Likewise, we have a third party in our lives that gives us a destination. The third party, of course, is God, and this destination he has in mind for us gives us a reason to be nice to everyone around us; it gives us a reason to keep our minds and bodies clean. If we fail to do so, we are unable to reach this divine destination. On the other hand, things can be going pretty well (or maybe even exceptionally well) on our journey throughout life, but if we do not reach the destination God intended for us, we got it wrong.
Now, back to Columbus. We have established that he failed. He didn’t reach the destination given to him by the Queen of Spain. If the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria had crashed fifty miles off the coast of Spain, Columbus would have failed to a similar degree. However, I believe that God’s destination for Columbus was not India. God’s destination for Columbus was to find a land that would later become a great nation, and to open doors of opportunity for hundreds and thousands of people. Yes, Columbus failed to reach the Queen’s destination (and perhaps the destination he had made for himself), but he reached the destination that is most important.
The people around us give us destinations—they have certain expectations of what we should be doing with our lives. We also give ourselves these destinations. Sometimes we reach these destinations, and other times we fail. But wherever these successes and failures take us, we should never lose sight of that destination God has drawn out for us.

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