Monday, March 24, 2014


Tonight I finished reading Erik Weihenmayer's autobiography.  Here are some of my favorite things he said...

This is right after he finds out his mom just died in a car accident.  He had already completely lost his sight as a teenager and was finally starting to feel like he could succeed as a blind person.  As a side note, I'm not a believer that God is the one who sits in heaven pulling strings and placing struggles in our lives.  But I still love the realization he comes to here...

"Maybe life is a perpetual series of losses.  If there was a God, he must enjoy putting humans through a great cruel punishment...which forces us to scramble and find ways of living with less.  God kills off a vital piece of our lives, one that we thought was most important, we scramble to make due with less, and then he takes that away too."  (Then a bit later he has says this)  "Yeah, he (God) takes things away...but he gives other things back and, in a strange way, those new things can be just as good or even better.  I think you just have to look for the new things a little harder."

This was something a camp counselor at a summer camp said to him.  I felt like I could relate to having a demon.  While not blindness, I have other things waging wars inside of me.  This is fantastic advice.

"For some of you, blindness is still a demon, waging a war inside you, but if you can accept blindness for what it is, and lay it to rest, if you give it a place and make it a part of you, like having brown hair or green eyes, or being tall or short, then the demon will wither away and it will die"

More good stuff...

"For me, the fear of climbing blind does not come when I am hanging securely from a fat hold or after latching on to the next.  The greatest fear is in the reaching, at that moment when I have committed my body and soul to finding the next hold, when I am hoping, predicting, praying I will find what I am seeking."

"After 16 years of blindness, one thing I've learned is that life is never meant to be easy; exciting, challenging maybe, rewarding from time to time, but never easy.  Ironically when I finally accepted this reality, that's when life got easy."

"There are moments in our lives when we can move forward in small increments, increasing the challenge bit by bit, but there are other times when security is merely an illusion, when we must summon our courage, gather up our past skill, and proceed by the power of sheer faith."

"Somewhere along the way, you may lose something you thought was important, but everything you need to fulfill you is inside you or right in front of your eyes.  You just have to reach.  It won't often be easy...but it will always be a great adventure."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A hidden direction

During one of the lowest times of my life, a friend gave me the book My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen.  Best book I have ever read.  It gave me the hope and strength and understanding of life I needed so badly.  I have since read it 4 or 5 more times and I never seem to stop learning from it.

The author has been counseling people with chronic and terminal illness for more than twenty years.  She is the co-founder of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program and in one of my favorite chapter she talks about the year they installed a labyrinth at Commonweal like the one in the picture I posted above.  It is used as a walking meditation and the distance from start to finish is about a third of a mile.  (Side note...the newish Intermountain Medical Center has one of these on its grounds that I like to visit and walk.  My husband and I also made our own version which hangs in our kitchen...not as pretty, but it reminds me of a great lesson every time I look at it)

This is what she says about the labyrinth:

"Walking the labyrinth is deceptive.  At the beginning one seems to be heading directly for the center when one is actually farthest away from it, and moments before reaching it one is walking near the outermost edge of the circle...
Many insights can be gained in this walking meditation.  The first time I stood in the center, I had an odd thought.  Lying around me was the path I had walked from the beginning with all its complexity, frustrations, and many turnings.  It was complete, and I suddenly realized that, despite my experience to the contrary, I had always been heading for the center.  Perhaps this was true of my life as well.  Could events that seemed meaningless, or even wasteful, be taking me to a destination as surely as the twisting and turning path I had just followed?  Perhaps my path only seemed random because I was still on it.  At the end, from the center, would I someday see my life as complete and whole and recognize a hidden direction and pattern that redeemed loss and failure and pain and utterly changed their meaning and value?"

These words reach out of the page and wrap around me every time I read them.  I find so much comfort in the possibility that all that doesn't make sense in my life may someday have meaning.  I have already seen evidence of this truth in very small parts of my life.  As a child, I pictured my life following a path that would bring certain outcomes.  The path I'm on is quite different.  I thought I would graduate from high school, get a killer bachelors degree followed by a graduate degree that would enable me to change lives and make lots of money.  I thought I would serve a mission that would fulfill me and make me into a spiritual giant and glorify my life in some unforeseen way.  I thought I'd have 3 or 4 kids by the time I was in my early thirties, travel the world, and have adventures with my husband and kids.  Oh, and I also pictured somewhere in there suddenly developing self-confidence, charisma, grace, and leadership skills.

(Wow, I sure was optimistic...)

So, some of the things I imagined have happened, but many of those dreams, and especially the timeline of said dreams, have just passed by as life has continued on...  I've felt disillusioned many times.  And angry.  And discouraged.  BUT, in the last few years I have tried coming to terms with all this.  I may not have achieved all I thought I would.  Life has thrown me a few situations I never saw coming.  But maybe I'm the person I should have been all along.  Maybe those twistings and turnings were actually taking me to the place I was supposed to get to all along.

What if there is great wisdom in the missing of some things?  Of being on a path that doesn't seem to make any sense until we stand in the middle and look over all that we've done, all the places we've been, all those we've met and shared life with?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the valley

I read this in the book The Noticer recently...

"Everybody wants to be on the mountaintop but...mountaintops are rocky and cold.  There is no growth on the top of a mountain.  Sure, the view is great, but what's a view for?  A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination - our next target.  But to hit that target we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope.  It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life's next peak."

I'm in a valley right now.  I have been for the last few weeks.  I love the imagery in this quote because I have always enjoyed hiking so much and I've been on a few mountaintops.  I know how far away they seem as I take my first step, and how gratifying it is to stand on top of one.  I am also aware that most of the enjoyment I get from hiking lies in the steps I'm taking in between.  If I got in a helicopter and was dropped onto Mount Timpanogos, the view would be nothing in comparison to what it could be hiking all day and THEN making it to the top.

The valleys are beautiful.  I needed to remind myself of that today.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


One time when I was in college, a boy took me on a date to the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour when it was in town.  He was a ski bum of sorts and said this film festival was like Warren Miller, but for all mountain sports.  The films we saw were unbelievable!  Since that year (I think it was 2003), I have only missed Banff once, when I was living out of the country.  Yes, I am a bit obsessed.  I look forward to it more than Christmas.

This year, there were two films I especially loved.  One was called North of the Sun.  These two guys were so rad. Read about it here

The other, Sensory Overload, was about a blind adventurer named Erik Weihenmayer.  Erik is the first blind person to summit Mount Everest.  He then went on to summit the highest peak on every continent.  His latest endeavor had been kayaking, which was what this Banff film was documenting.  Remember how he's blind?  It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  I wish I had been able to write down everything awesome he said in that film, but since I can't find it anywhere online to watch again, I decided to get his autobiography from the library.  I'm sure there will be quotes to come :) but in the meantime, you should check out his website  This guy is so inspiring.

And then, just for fun, here are two of my other favorite Banff films from years past.  I picked short ones so you'd be sure to be tempted to watch them.  The first one freaks me out a little now because my son is going to look just like this kid in a few years!

Friday, March 7, 2014


So, there's a good chance this will turn into a food blog.  I love food.  Really yummy, healthy, good-for-me food.  Here's my latest find...Asain Quinoa Broccoli Slaw.

p.s.  thanks Carissa for thinking of me when you saw this :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Burned biscuits

My cute neighbor shared this story with me a few days ago...

Burned Biscuits

When I was a kid, my Grandma liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then.  I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long hard day.  On that evening so long ago, she had placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned biscuits in front of my Granddad.  I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!
Yet all my Granddad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Grandma and ask me how my day was at school.  I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit.  He ate every bite of that thing - never made a face nor uttered a word about it!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Grandma apologize to my Granddad for burning the biscuits.  And I'll never forget what he said:  "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."
Later that night, I went to kiss Granddaddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned.  He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Grandma put in a  hard day of work today and she's real tired.  And besides - a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"
As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times.  Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people.  I'm not the best at anything; and, I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else.  But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults, and choosing to celebrate each other's differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
And that's my prayer for you today - that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God.  Because in the end, He's the only one who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!

I thought it was so cute...especially because I love the lady who shared it with me.  It made me think of another quote I saw on facebook a few weeks ago:

"Be thankful for the bad things in life.  For they opened your eyes to the good things you weren't paying attention to before."

With all that said, I know some problems are much bigger than the cuteness of a story about burned biscuits.  And I'm the absolute worst at being grateful for the bad things in my life.  I don't think I always need to be grateful for them.  Especially when I'm in the thick of it.  However, eventually they tend to turn into stuff that makes me much stronger and more compassionate.  And that ends up being invaluable.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another amazing soup...

My sweet friend brought this over to me the day I found out I was having another miscarriage.  I will think of you every time I make this, Sarah!  p.s. I'm not sure where she got this recipe's most certainly not my creation though.  I deserve no credit for this amazingness...

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Soup

1 C uncooked quinoa
1/2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C diced onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (I only used half)
1 or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t coriander
6 C vegetable broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 handfuls chopped kale leaves

Toppings: avocado, corn chips, cilantro, lime juice, salsa, green onion

In medium saucepan, cook quinoa in 2 C water.  Meanwhile, heat oil in large pot.  Add garlic and onion and saute 5 - 7 minutes.  Add jalapeno and sweet potato.  Cook another 5 - 7 minutes.  Stir in cumin, chili powder, coriander, and broth.  Boil and then simmer 18 - 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Stir in quinoa, black beans, cayenne, and kale right before serving.