Sunday, February 21, 2010


This will be fun. For some reason, I've been thinking about zits (couldn't possibly be because I actually have some, of course).

Did you know...?

  • If you have zits along your hairline, you might want to change your shampoo. Try to find something that is sodium free (look for ammonium sulfate instead of sodium sulfate). It's kind of hard, but I can recommend Aussie's cleansing shampoo at least. Shampoo and conditioner can also be the cause of zits on your back; wash your hair first in the shower, and wash your body after you've rinsed all the conditioner out.
  • If you have zits around your mouth, it's hormones. Even if you're not on your period! Check the milk and meat you buy and make sure they don't have added hormones. Most milk doesn't (I think the Maid O' Clover is supposed to be best???), but keep an eye out for the meats.
  • If you have zits on the sides of your face, it could be your pillowcase. It's not too hard to get in the habit of changing a pillowcase every day. Be sure to use a fresh washcloth every time you wash your face, and clean your makeup applicators at least once a week (when I'm super good, I clean them every day). Remember to wash thoroughly around your face, too, as in down your neck and to your ears.
  • If you have zits on your chest, consider your laundry--do you wear a fresh bra every day? Do you spray perfume on your neck and decolletage? Last, is your jewelry clean? I know, that might seem gross...but you'd be unpleasantly surprised...
  • Before you try to pop that irresistable zit, try a hot or cold compress. You can place an icecube or very hot, wet cloth on the tip. Keep it there at least 2 1/2 minutes. The swelling should be noticeably down, and the zit will likely dry up by the next day. The intense temperature kills the bacteria.
  • If you MUST pop that zit, use as little pressure as possible. This will sound really extreme or disgusting, but it works: sterilize something like a needle (even a safety pin tip will work), and gently prod the thinnest point of the skin over the zit. After each prodding, gently coax the pus to see if you've punctured the skin layer. Clean it out as gently and carefully as you can, and clean the area (and the pin) when you are finished. The reason this is better than squeezing: squeezing not only pushes the pus upward but inward as well. This means you are forcing the bacteria deeper into your skin, elevating the seriousness of your acne (and prolonging the life of the zit). It could take a really, really long time to get it all cleared out. The pin is also better than scratching, because scratching spreads the bacteria and damages your skin. You might think poking a pin in your skin is worse than popping a zit, but the popping creates a jagged rupture that will take longer to heal. :( Sorry.
Well, sorry if I grossed you out! But at least you'll have some better control over your acne! Yay! Show it who's boss!

I have more tips of zit coverage, too, for a later time. When you know how to accurately cover a zit, it's less threatening--and you'll find it's easier to avoid popping it.

Love you all! Forgive me for my grossness!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Books I've Loved or Read Recently

Cara Jean (MeanJeansArt and D.I. Denizen) asked me what books I read...well, um, I read those children books. BUT! I do read some more mature books sometimes. This is what I said (and then some) in one of those tiny little comment boxes before I realized it should be a post:

I was thinking of doing a post of books I read, but I don't know...I still read a lot of YA books!
I loved the Hunger Games.Hunger Games 2-Pack: Hunger Games & Catching Fire Hardcover Books
It's surprisingly easy to relate to heroine Katniss as she's thrust into a carnal game of murder celebrated by the cruel Capitol every year. Every move she makes is with the intent to play the game--which plays with her mind until she can barely distinguish between what she does for herself and for the Capitol.
It is not overly graphic.

I have recently been reading the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld--I suppose they're sci-fi, but not invasively so. Tally lives in a society obsessed with beauty, so much that they perform surgery on every sixteen-year-old with the claim that the resulting beauty is the only way to be accepted. Having grown up with this idea ingrained in her mind, Tally will do nearly anything to be pretty. What she doesn't know yet is that the surgery does more than change your appearance...
Throughout the series, it becomes more and more clear how the city manipulates Tally into making their plans work. Tally somehow finds a way to defy them every time.
Uglies (Boxed Set): Uglies, Pretties, Specials (The Uglies)

I really loved a book called Kiln People by David Brin, and that is classified as sci-fi, but it's also a mystery that is really well spun. Albert is a fairly predictable man with a fascinating career as a detective, but he's far from traditional. In an age where people can make clay copies of themselves (in varying ranks and colors) for various chores and leisure--or anything they don't want to do in person--Albert has replicas of himself all over the place solving his mystery for him. There's a constant danger for the dittos, though; their only hopes of sharing their data with realAlbert is by "inloading" their memories at the end of their 24-hour shift, and it looks like their's been some ditnapping... ;)
Really, this is such a cool book. I love the very idea.
The only complaint I have for it is that once in a while the dialogue goes on for too long without tagging who's speaking, and one sentence suddenly turns out to be spoken by Albert when you thought it was his friend. Oh well. Still good reading.

And...I love the Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, but again that's meant for a younger audience...this book is so innocent and sweet. It's charming and clever, too. I loved it from the beginning!

[younger audience]The Larklight series by Philip Reeve is funny! It's told by a younger brother who thinks his sister is ridiculous, and he's hilarious the way he talks about her and everything. There's even a part or two where his sister (Myrtle) gives her own account of what happened, and the comparison is so funny; it reminds me hugely of my sister Rae! HAHAHAH!!!! Sorry, Rae. Myrtle is cute.
It all takes places in a world where England is still the biggest world power, and space is breathable (hence liveable). I actually laughed aloud pretty often!

You see, I really do like children's books! :D

But! More adultlike: The Poisonwood Bible (you MUST) by Barbara Kingsolver. I felt like I had been to Africa, and more importantly, I felt like I understood Africa. The family is absolutely believable. They're also loveable...and hateable.
The Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)

Dragonwyck by Anya Seton (generally out of print but some libraries might have it). The first time I read this book, I did not sleep. Except by accident for ten minutes, after which I jerked awake, completely alarmed that I had lost my place. I found it and resumed reading immediately.
Quite a load of romance and mystery...a dangerous sort of secret that maybe Miranda doesn't want to discover...
I love Miranda. She starts off so naive (but so spirited) and learns the darkness of men only after she's been blinded by what she thought was love. That sounds melodramatic, doesn't it. But I can vouch for its coolness, don't worry.
Oh man, and the fat fat fat woman Johanna...I pity her disgustingness. Poor huge thing.

I'll try to think of more, especially more that are for us "Older" people. :)
Oh yeah, and I read a pretty interesting one called A Shortcut in Time by Charles Dickinson (yeah, what a name--but it was cool).
At first, he only cut 15 seconds back in time, but after he examined his route again, he found that the shortcut could take him a hundred years back. I forgot what his name is. Hee hee...
A young girl appears from seemingly nowhere, and everyone thinks she belongs in the foster home. Only the Man believes her story of whence she came ("where she came from" would be poor grammar, oh dear). And...I'm having a hard time making this sound as interesting as it is. :\ TIME TRAVEL = INTERESTING, right? I hope so.
A Shortcut in Time

And one more, but I wonder how well I can recommend it. It's called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Sadly, it had so much profanity, but it's so sensitively written. It's about an autistic boy and the way his world is. REALLY really interesting (to me). Christopher's mind pretty much divides the world in black and white, and somehow, his views are more tender than those of people who should be able to understand more than he does.
Christopher hates anything yellow because he figures if he likes one color, he should dislike another.
He likes to be crouched in tight, tiny spaces.
He can play Minesweeper in so few seconds it's crazy.
He hates people who lie, and he believes most people lie.
Christopher will not use a toilet besides the one at home, and he's glad he's not like another boy at their special school who will poop on purpose when he's mad.
And...someone killed the neighbor's dog, which disturbs Christopher more than it disturbs anyone else. He goes about solving this little "mystery," intent on writing a book. The answer to it all is so terribly heartbreaking.

GASP! And I LOVE the book the Count of Monte Cristo, if you're looking for a classic, but maybe that's just me. I adored it. Don't watch the movie--it's stupid because it does not at all capture the old fashioned exoticness of the Count, who returns from years in a dark prison with its darkness reflected in his deep, enigmatic eyes. No one understands how he came to be so incredibly skilled at all he does and so impossible to figure out.
The Count of Monte Cristo (Barnes & Noble Classics)

One more. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden. It's poetic, so beautiful. As influential as Poisonwood Bible in the way that it made me feel like I knew Japan (I do to some degree by now from having been there, but this was beforehand). The world of a geisha is harsh and beautiful with infinite precision. Sayuri's heart is deep from the beginning as she recounts her life's story.
*I personally love the way she understands the cruel Hatsumomo who is evilly intent on ruining Sayuri's career as a geisha...

My "style" for books has a wide range. :)
I'll try to think of more if you want!

Sheesh, this should be a post!

(Hmmm, yes, yes it should...)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Children's Books

I adore this book. Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen is so sweet! Michael and I laughed aloud while reading this to Ender, and Ender even laughed while enjoying the darling pictures! It's kind of an ugly-duckling story but with far more charm (and the crocodile isn't changing into anything fancy). I HIGHLY recommend it. I want to own it.

If you're looking for some literature that is incredibly uplifting, masterfully written, stimulating for any brain, and brilliantly plotted, this book is at the top of the list (The Stupids... by Hary Allard and James Marshall). Hahahaha. Just kidding. It's at the bottom. But I have such fond memories of my mother cracking up while reading these books to us (because they ARE stupid), and even fonder memories of us being stupid and remembering the book. Have you ever gotten in an elevator and forgotten to push the buttons? "The Stupids ride the elevator." Maybe that's why I love these books--it makes it easier to laugh when I do something stupid knowing The Stupids always do something stupid.

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis is a cute and imaginative book. The author's also written "Not a Box," which might suggest she lacks imagination for titles, but the books encourage children to be creative with ordinary objects (the stick can be all sorts of things). That's important to me. Somedays I feel weary of toys because they're practically manufactured to do all the thinking for kids (well, kind of). Some of my better childhood memories come from being insanely creative with everything around me (A fence as a cannon? It worked)!

There are lots of Mr. Sillypants books by M. K. Brown and I haven't actually read them all, but I remember reading this book with my sister. We even have a picture of us together with it! Hm, now I need to see if I can find it anywhere. Anyway, simply put, Mr. Sillypants really is silly.

I'm not sure if the title or the art intrigued me the most, but neither disappointed me. I did kind of wish it went into scientific-like details of the supernatural talent of eating books (that just sounds fun to me), but the story takes it a good direction anyway. The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers is one that I think any kid might enjoy because the very idea of eating books is cool!

I love just about anything written by William Steig. His art is almost childish, comparable to Quentin Blake's illustrations. And the storylines are clever, funny and sweet. In this book, Pete's a Pizza, a boy is very bored and doesn't know what to do. His father pretends Pete is a pizza and plays with him, putting "food" on the boy and "baking him." It makes me think of something either my parents would do with us or Michael would do with Ender.

Thank heaven for brilliant librarians! I've wanted to find this book for ages, and I finally just asked the librarian if she knew what book I might be thinking of. I described it like this "A grandpa is telling his grandkids about how his house got flooded when he was a child, and it was funny to me because the child version of the grandpa still had a mustache. But I can't remember anything else!" The librarian smiled sweetly. "Sounds like James Stevenson! Yes, 'We Hate Rain,' does that look like the right book?" HALLELUIAH!!!!

In the same conversation (she'd sparked my faith), I said "Maybe you'd know another book I've been wanting to find. I read it when I was about 11, so all I can remember is that it took place in England--they called trucks "lorries"--and there was a kind of battle between the peddlers and truckers..." A librarian around the corner poked her head around a bookcase and said "The Pushcart War. Darn funny book!" I couldn't stop smiling. I've put a picture of something that's apparently based on the original novel, but the link goes to the original. Whatever!

Again, bothering the same librarian--I couldn't help myself!--I asked if she knew about a book where a boy drank the stories through a straw. She had to think maybe a minute before she recalled the title for me! AMAZING woman! I read The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisin when I was about 10. I loved it so much! I loved the book even more by the fact that the author wrote in his bio-note that if someone were to write to him, he would send them a straw--guaranteed.

I have yet to read the sequel! Oh my! I just realized in my search that there are two more books! Happy day! :) that's two separate links there.
I love librarians. And libraries. Books make me so happy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Harp Tutorial - part 2: Factory and Care

Part 2 - Factory & Care
I don't even know exactly what the big, black tube thing is! But it sure looks cool! See the decal on the soundboard? I'm talking about the floral design on the front panels, under the man's elbow. Sometimes, these are just special "stickers." If there is gold in the pattern, like on my Salvi Diana, it was hand-painted.
When I went to the Chicago Lyon & Healy factory, I got to see the gold-painters in their little corner room of the factory floor. They were quiet, intent on their work. I felt almost rude peering over their shoulders. They had flecks of gold in their hair; to pick up the little flakes with their paintbrushes, they had to first stroke the brush through their hair to gather static so the gold would stick.
See the green Celtic harp in the background? You can have a harp ordered to look however you want. You just have to be able to pay for it... Also look at the "blonde" harp on the far right. Those holes along the back allow for sound to travel, but they're also meant to make it possible to change strings. I tie a knot in the base of the string around a thick scrap. Then I poke the untied end in those holes and through a tinier hole that's at the base of the string's spot. I pull it through until the tied end catches, and the loose end gets wrapped around its peg on the bridge of the harp (there's actually a tiny hole in the peg that the string goes through before getting wrapped around it). No pictures except by request, because you'd likely only care if you were a harp student who didn't know how to replace strings yet.
For this particular Lyon & Healy model, the carvings on the column/post are done by hand. Most are done by machine.
When Salvi and Lyon & Healy were still a merged company, the mechanics of the pedal harps were done in Italy (like my harp). The woodwork was finished in the Lyon & Healy factory in Chicago. This picture is of work being done on the brass covering that goes on the bridge of the harp.

This picture doesn't show it, but there's a curve on the side of the neck, at the corner and on the other side, which has to be sanded by hand--for every harp.

All of these harps are made of Maple wood with varying finishes (natural/blonde, ebony,walnut and mahogany). Maple has proven to be ideal for harps because it is strong--the strings produce up to 2,000 lbs. of pressure (YES, 1 ton). Over time, the soundboard will naturally bow, but it's good for the sound! Harps appreciate in value if they're taken care of well.
A harp should be regulated every year. This means all that mechanical stuff I showed you in the last tutorial gets a check up. The discs shift after so much usage, and sometimes pedals develop a catch. The metals have to be oiled, and sometimes the felt wrapped around the pedals (that red stuff in the pedal picture) gets worn out. Even pedal pads (the black tip) have to be replaced sometimes.
I can replace felts and pads myself--it's fun and scary. I have to take the base off the harp. :| Maybe someday I can show you a picture, but it's not something I'd do just for the heck of it! Same with packing the harp. I'll show you when we move or when I do my next gig.

This is an ergonomic tuning key. It is also the only tool I need for taking the base off the harp! Those considerate factory people. :)

This is an electronic tuner. It's a NECESSITY. Once I tuned with only the help of my nearly-perfect-pitch sister, and even though she was helpful, it was rather laborious. Because of the unusual way a harp's sound is so darn difficult to pick up on microphone, I have a little pick-up "mic" that I plug into this tuner. It actually picks up the vibrations instead of the sound, clipped on the back of my harp.

This is what tuning looks like!

These are the tuning pegs. There are 47 strings, and they all have to be tuned every day! The tension from the strings changes with temperature (or if you move the harp, use the pedals for several hours, play for several hours, leave the harp in the sunshine or just so much as breathe on the harp...just kidding. That last one). I tune the harp with the pedals in "flat" position so that there's no pressure on the strings while I turn their pegs. The pedals should always be in the "flat" position when the harp is not in use. It makes me kind of mad when harpists neglect this. ARGGG... just a little mad...

The harp should also be polished, as often as once a week, but once a month is okay, too. When was the last time I polished mine? It's embarrassing. But at least my harp's still shiny and beautiful and in wonderful condition.
Dusting the harp is tricky. The main parts are easy enough, and the dust shows up so well that you have to do it a lot. But up in the discs, you have to use a Q-tip, and that doesn't even get it all. I loved being able to take my harp to the factory to get regulated, because to "dust" the harp, they've got this air-blowing machine with a tiny tip. It blasts a powerful stream of air that leaves the harp sparkly-new. I wish I had one (for my dried flower bouquets and cool book wreath, too). *someday I will post about the book wreath*

One last thing! The MONEY.
Quality harps are expensive. Mine cost $21,000. That's average (and by now it's probably worth about $25,000 or more).
And then there's the harp dolly (cart),
the case (and its accompanying base part and column cover),
the $200 CARDBOARD BOX with special instructions on the outside (what, 2 cents of that cost?) and specifically formed foam cushions made to fit around the harp without causing damage--NEVER put weight on the discs-side of the harp, NEVER.
Oh, and the $40 tuning key. And $80 electronic tuner. Don't lose them.
I almost forgot, it takes a BIG vehicle to cart it, too.
And music!
And lessons!
But guess what. When you devote yourself to practicing so that you can play the harp well, those gigs pay nicely. Mmmm. $600, anyone?

And aside from all the money, it is so rewarding to me. I love the harp. Passionately. Not like a dorky hermit-like spinster harpist, but passionately.

See some weird-looking music and hear some coooool sound effects!

Harp Tutorial - part 1: Mechanics and Pedals

The modern harp is sort of mysterious as far as how it works, isn't it? And some people (a lot of people) just don't know much about the harp, anyway. So I've decided to put together a fun little tutorial! I hope it's fun--and simple. Tell me if something is still confusing.

This is a Salvi concert grand pedal harp; Diana model in mahogany finish.

Part 1 - Mechanics & Pedals
Surprise! The harp has 7 pedals (they do not function like a piano's 3 pedals). There's one pedal for each note in a scale (not each string).
The pedals move rods (about the width of a pencil) inside the hollow column of the harp.

This is a view from underneath the harp where the pedals connect to the rods in the column.

The rods move these chains along the bridge of the harp...

The chains move these discs, which pinch the strings. In this picture, the discs are in the "open" position, leaving the notes "flat" (lower pitch).

This shows the upper disc pinching the red string (C) so that it is now raised in pitch to C natural.

This shows both discs pinching the red C string so that it is now C sharp.

The science of how that works is that a shorter string produces a higher sound. When the discs "pinch" the string, the string is essentially shortened a half-step (just enough to bring the pitch up half an interval).

I use pedal charts like this on my music. If I leave the pedals up (like in the first picture of the pedals), the notes are flat. That top symbol, "b," represents "flat." The middle symbol is "natural," and the third symbol (#) is "sharp."

Take a look inside a harp factory!

Monday, February 8, 2010


During church yesterday, I glanced at some notes Michael was writing and realized he was jotting down baby names (some were really funny, but most were serious).
That is so romantic.

"I'm being attacked by red fuzzies. Are they your minions?"
Also in this doodle: a choir singing "Gloria!" and cavemen building a fire.
WHOA! Correction (Think of Rafiki's voice). That's not cavemen! It's a NATIVITY SCENE! *gasp* how could I confuse the two?

I tried finding the program he wrote on, no luck. But rifling through his scriptures did bring up this doodle! It's from a couple months ago, I think. And guess what else I found? Another program with baby names, just a handful scribbled in the corner. (:

I wish I could remember all of them! He covered the entire program in his scripture-pencil cryptic handwriting.

Maximillion (which spawned Bobillion, Trixitrillion and Qaitiquadrilliana)
[Something] Vaughn/Von Wahlquist
Nicole Tesla
Michael Faith (HAH! Our middle names combined. Not such a good idea!)

NEW! Updated with names from the recovered church program, courtesy of Michael! Oh, and he says it's not a program, it's the back of one of his talks.

Nicole Dimas ( do get it?)
Hukona (that's actually Russian letters of another name)

I made up a funny one when I was about 14---still makes me laugh! Say it with a nerdily intellectual voice...

Austuvious Galnutt Wourmberg Derdills XVII

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Simon's Stinky Shirt & Lightning Laundry Lady

Sometimes I have really lame daydreams.

Yesterday while folding laundry, I somehow got thinking about American Idol, that dumb show that I watch once in a while even though it's dumb (I die laughing at the people who can't sing and then get mad that Simon and his buddies are so rude).
And then I started thinking about the show America's Got Talent...and an idea popped into my head!
What if I went on for the talent of FOLDING LAUNDRY?!
And that's not it! I'd fold it superfast, like some lightning speed woman! And I'd be good-humored about it, too.

"So, Q-...Quat? Quit? Kuwait? You're folding laundry, huh?"

"YES! I am!"


BAM! Snap the shirt with a fist punch and it magically slaps in half, then I twist it around my wrist and slam it flat. TADA! Fast like a bolt. A lightning bolt. All the while smiling. "And now an INSIDE-OUT shirt!" Audience gasps. Snap-snap, twirl, slam, tada! And after more impressive karate-chop moves with pants and socks and underwear, the whole load of laundry is done in seconds, right before their eyes.

Does Simon fold his own laundry? He always wears the same white shirt...ew...
"Well, I guess that was impressive, but I can't really imagine you coming up with a better act for the next show..."

*I give a good-humored laugh, because Simon can't be snarky to ME*
"Right, what's next? Towels? Bedsheets?! Hah! No, I came onto this show to show the world of laundry-folding moms that it can be done quickly and easily--no longer the bane of your existence! I will teach lessons for a very affordable fee."

And with that, I'd become the richest woman in the world (and all by being a smart mom--AWESOME)!

By the time the daydream had unfolded, my laundry was folded. Oh well. I can pretend. (I did try those amazing moves...they look much cooler in my head).

Penguin Joke

Do you like my art? It makes me laugh. :) Good ol' Paint!
I've always loved penguins--mostly because my second grade teacher, Mrs. Perry, loved them (and I loved her).
Lynnae recently reminded me of a joke told to us by Doug, long-time friend. It's not supposed to make sense.

Penguin #1: "Would you mind handing me the soap?"
Penguin #2: "What do I look like to you, A TOASTER?!"

Lynnae and I looked at each other.

That was a dumb joke.

But then we got's why it makes sense:
Poor Doug was dumbfounded.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Check Up

January seems forever ago. Which is weird because I couldn't believe I was writing a journal entry for the 31st already just a few days ago!

I feel a little guilty for not blogging as much. I've been enjoying READING blogs, mmm, fun! Maybe I should have put blogging as a resolution??? :) Just kidding.

But here we go!

FRUGALITY: Yeah...yeah, I've done fine... but not as well as I could. Maybe I can get away with blaming it on Michael. I mean, he told me to find some cute clothes when we went to Utah! Heh heh heh...
Seriously, I haven't done any shopping besides that. We really are saving money.

And those purple heels, oh man, I love them!

HARP PRACTICE: Guess what! I teach harp lessons again! Yay! I may even get another student soon! (This even makes up for my beautiful shoes because it adds to our income! Yesssss).
Did you notice how I sort of skipped around the main idea of this goal? *big cheesy grin* I've practiced a few times, and that's it! Oh, I've been so naughty. And I've been loving it.

STRONG BODY: A+, for real! I've been wonderfully active! I exercise a few times a week, and I shovel tons of snow--have you ever cleared a trampoline of two months' worth of Rexburg snow? I'm surprised my back isn't broken. I hefted HUGE slabs of thick ICE piled with gobs of snow! I feel so proud of myself. And when I do actual exercise (as in, it has a special workout name like Pilates or Stepping or Something), I've semi-cheated and done it while watching half a movie with Michael and Ender.

Now to my favorite part.
Living With the In-Laws

This has been harder than ever, and I feel like I've done better than ever.

I realized some time back that while trials should bring out the true character in someone, I was only seeing the worst of myself. Either that meant an attitude adjustment or a character adjustment! Or both. (I was right--it took both).
It was way too easy to feel like no one ever saw me do good things. We're not supposed to do good things for the sake of being seen, but what if the only times you're seen are when you're taking a break after doing so many good things?! I would wash breakfast and lunch dishes, clean the kitchen, vacuum, sweep, clean the bedroom, do laundry, make a treat--and get EXHAUSTED so that I had to relax. Well, surprise! That was about the same time someone would come home and "notice" me sprawled on the couch with a book or vegging at the computer. I try to look all intellectual at the computer, but somehow it never seems to work. Maybe it's because I pull my legs up into the chair? It's like I don't know any other way to sit. I probably misjudged those glances, probably very terribly so. I must not have felt very confident of myself to think that way. And that's just weird, that's just not me!
Obviously, I saw there was a problem. That's why this subject made it to my resolutions list if anything did. I've prayed and prayed and prayed for help in this area... because...

  • I miss cooking in my own kitchen, where things are tidied and organized according to my own special OCD ways.
  • I miss living in a home that shows my personality all over it.
  • I miss living in a home that's proportionate to my family.
  • I miss having the authority of being the Matriarch of the Home. Does that make sense?
  • I miss the independence of not being a "child" anymore, not living with the parents.
Sadly, I could keep listing things. I just won't. But it should be pretty clear, at least, that things were not easy. And they seemed to be getting harder. And I seemed to be feeling uglier, meaner, hating-er, lazier...practically an ogress! What was wrong with me?!

Michael got to interview at Pittsburgh, which meant going to the Salt Lake Airport. We decided I should take him and spend the weekend in Utah, away from "home" and finally with my own family. I spent nearly all my time with my best friend, Lynnae. We laughed, introduced friends, toured campus, wrestle-battled over...something...don't remember! And mostly, we talked. And talked and talked. In a short moment during all that wonderful talkiness, Lynnae said something about service making her feel better. I nodded, agreeing, and the conversation went on.
Maybe I wouldn't have ever remembered that moment again, but a prayer brought it back to me...

Coming back home was so hard. I didn't expect that. Michael and I were caught up in the excitement of Pittsburgh interviews for the entire drive, still full of energy and excitement as we pulled into the garage. Still smiling while recounting our adventures to the family over a meal. And then suddenly, as I crawled into bed that night, I felt crushed. As if my weekend's freedom had been stolen away. Almost as if I were thrown back into a dungeon. How could I feel that way? I love this family! They are kind and generous! They do so much for us! They love us! My prayers drove me to bitter honesty with myself. I wanted better strength over my Self. I'd seen a very happy Qait meet with friends and family in Utah. She still existed. She really shouldn't leave me now, not when I needed the Happy Me.

In a quiet moment of prayer stillness, I suddenly recalled Lynnae's conversation with me. Her voice, saying how service makes her feel better. I smiled feebly. There was my answer.

I've started small. Every day, I assign myself one thing I need to do for myself, and I give myself the challenge of doing one act of service. Anything. If that's all I can get done in a day, I still feel pleased with myself because I had some sort of purpose. It works! It really works!
If you really, really know me, you know how difficult it is for me to step out of my all-or-nothing frame of perfectionist mind and take little steps. Augh, it's always been SOOO hard for me to do that. But I'm doing it now!

More often than not, once I get started "serving," I don't stop! Once I do one important thing for myself, I don't stop! And I love that! But I don't hold that up as the standard. I remind myself that tomorrow, it would be okay if I only did one thing.

I have to think like that (even if I convince myself it's selfish or lazy), or else I will feel pressured and somehow turn into a yucky, ugly ogre-woman. I hate that feeling. It's one thing I really do actually HATE. (We shouldn't have to be jealous of our high-school selves for being more proactive and optimistic and resilient than we are now, right? Even though life is so different...)

So here's my check up.
  • I will not let myself feel judged. If I assume I'm being judged, I'm judging the judger, right? Righto, Qaito. It's alright to relax if I've done my work. And somehow I've been blessed to see that it really hasn't gone unnoticed. Ooh. Double negative. Sorry.
  • I will continue to clean up after my micro-family. Yes. Making the bed actually makes a big difference. It's no longer shameful to leave the bedroom door open. ;)
  • I will ask for specific help in advance if I need it. (That's pretty hard). Yeah...that's why we haven't made our temple trip this week yet. We forgot to set things up, so we decided we wouldn't try to spring it up on the family. We're going tomorrow! Ugh. That's wonderful, we just don't like shoving it to Saturday. Like I said, it's pretty hard!
  • I will find ways other than vocally to express my gratitude for the immense blessing all of this is! Yes, I want my own place REALLY REALLY REALLY BADLY but I will be patient. We have everything provided for us right now, nearly no expenses. That's pretty WOW. So I'll try not to forget that for even a moment. That's one thing service does!
You can make fun of me now for doing the traditional New Year's Resolutions! :D Of course, the real test is whether I can make myself stick to them more than one month, two months, etc.