“it never goes away, but it all works out”

I realize that line seems to be taken a bit out of context of the song’s meaning, but not to me. It has been something of an echo in my head for a time. For a while I just paid attention to those 4 words, “it all works out.” But I’ve been treating my life like the woman in that song. At one time or another I’ve pledged myself, in a sense, to my life; to self. I’ve promised myself I’d be kinder to me, I’d discover my own passions, I’d choose to be satisfied–happy, even–with the here and now. I know that’s not unique to me (there’s really not much that’s unique to me. We’re all basically similar, I’ve noticed. But that’s actually okay!), but familiar personal battles don’t make them mean less. And lately as I’ve paid more attention it’s been a fairly natural thing to let myself enjoy life amid her stressors and challenges. It’s been easier to have more time with myself than apart from  myself. 

But any way, the hard things; the uncertain things; the realization that you’ve been neglecting the thing you’ve pledged to love; it never goes away. But it all works out.

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A Smooth Snow

I watched the snow fall almost all night, and for the first time I can remember I wasn’t panicking. I wasn’t thinking, “Ok, how early do I need to start shoveling in the morning?” All I really felt was excitement. Because I knew that in just a few hours my boy would wake up and squeal, “Mom!”

We stayed in for the morning until Glenda went down for a nap, then it was Mom and Mac–snow bunnies. I would shovel the walk with him trailing behind with his own shovel and frozen grin. Every-so-often I would her a “puff” in the snow and look behind me to see Mac face-down in the snow–intentionally. The crazy nugget would just spontaneously throw himself onto the snowbanks. I say “spontaneously” with the utmost intention, because that’s what little kids do, right? They think, then immediately do. And even though I usually let it frustrate me, I’m starting to realize it’s one of the countless things that make kids so great.

Harvest 2016

I have loved so many things about living in Idaho for the past 8 (almost 9!) years. But getting a closer look at farm life has certainly been one of the most inspiring. Our cousins used to playfully tease us growing up when we’d come visit during the summers; they’d call us the “city kids.” I was always kind of proud of the fact that I came from the city; as if I knew some kind of better world that they were missing out on. I’m glad to say I quickly caught on to reality after moving here. It’s hard to argue who works the hardest in the world. It’s subjective, relying on one or another’s definition of what makes a job “hard.” Lots of people work hard. But for the sake of relevancy (to the season, and the topic of this post), I just want to say to the farmers: high-freakin’-five to you and all you do. It’s so much more than just harvest time. It’s all. year. round. All hours of the day or night. Plowing, tilling, harrowing, planting, harvesting, repairing, watering, worrying, calculating.

Also, thank you. For all of it.

(Anything but) ordinary people.

“Sometimes it seems almost futile to try to write anything new because it has all been said before–and so well said. Of course, any such defeatism must lead to a dead end of accomplishment in terms of literary effort.  Fortunately for the living and those to come, there are many bright new starts on the panel of contemporary writers. They are skillfully telling the story of these eventful days and their words will be read with relish by future generations.  In fact, the printed word today is prolific, and the competition with the book, the magazine and the newspaper is so great, future generations will require anthologies in great number to know what our bright literary stars have said.”

-Bill N. Nethery, in his introduction to The Joy of Words

Though I’ve never been much of an expert on what is and is not irony, I’m pretty sure the fact that I came across that quote is. I’ve always had it in my mind to write down how frustrating it is to try to write something that would be of any value to anyone because it has all been written before–“and so well” written. And then, here I read this introduction so I figure “Well, heck. Even he has already said what I was going to say about everything already being said.

And yet, so what? So what if it’s all been written before? And who came up with the phrase “so what?”? We humans seem to have this fixation on the idea of being anything but ordinary; we have to be original. We have to be quirky. We can’t be forgotten and mixed in with everyone else. It is one of the great contradictions of all time, really. People try so hard to be “different,” yet everyone follows suit. Thus making the hipsters of yesterday, today and tomorrow just another bandwagon of popularity. So what? I wish I could better articulate how silly I feel it is that we are so obsessed with being noticed, yet we just want to fit in at the same time. Why does any of it matter? What weight does our forced individuality really have on our happiness? I would venture to say not much, and I’ll tell you why.

Some people say things worth quoting, and not all of those people are what you might call “famous.” I find myself quoting my friends and family more than any business mogul or actress. I care more about what those close to me have to say than those I have no interest in ever spending any time with.

 

This post will be different than I originally thought it would be. It comes in the wake of a devastating blow dealt to two friends of mine, whose 2 year old daughter was killed in a freak snow accident last weekend.

How cruel it is that their loss becomes my gain; in their tragedy I am reminded of the precious lottery I play each day with the time I am given with my children. It sickens me that I should profit from their deficit, yet I have no choice but to snuggle, hug, kiss, and sing to my kids a little more and a little longer than I did before. I must remember to be more patient with my own 2 year old (and I wish I could say I have been. But I am unbelievably human, and I often forget that he is 2, and much more perfect and patient than I). I can’t help but gaze at my infant, and try not to wonder how long she will be mine.

I originally thought I would post about the reality of having children, and how life isn’t always perfect; how the house is sometimes more of a disaster than I ever thought I would allow it to be; how the days are often filled with tears and frustration and impatience. But, upon deeper reflection, I discover life actually is perfect; as long as these two are still here. And the days are just as often filled with sweet laughter and indescribable love. Why should I think I need anything more than that?

Whether or not you believe He is the Christ, it is historical fact that 2000 years ago a man named Jesus lived, and He had a mother named Mary.

According to Mary, she was visited by an angel who told her she would bare a son, and He would be the Only Begotten Son of God. Knowing the scriptures, Mary had to know what the eventual fate of her son would be, if she truly believed what the angel told her. Her response was still, “Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord.”

Mary and her husband Joseph were the earthly parents of the boy Jesus. They loved and found joy in having Him as their son.

The man Jesus was eventually crucified, all in the name of “religion”; they said He committed blaspheme. Many people criticize religion, saying it leads people to extremism and eventually acts of violence and terror, all in the name of God. Yet, this man Jesus lived His life preaching religion. He knew full well (whether you believe He knew it by prophecy, or simply by the final week of His life showing signs that there were plots to end His life) He would be killed for what He taught, and He knew full well they would kill Him for “religion’s” sake.

So I have to wonder why people make the argument that Christianity (being a religion) is dangerous, when the person it is built upon was tormented because of it, yet still continued to preach it. It’s because people misunderstand religion as if it can take many forms. It can, but it can only take one true form; meaning one form in full truth. Acts of violence “in the name of God” are the very acts of blaspheme  for which the Pharisees crucified Christ. But Christ taught the true religion. That’s what He was trying to help everyone in Jerusalem–and, subsequently, the world–understand; that His Father (God) had a plan, a religion. And He taught exactly what that religion was to consist of. It’s all of us who mess it up. That’s why we need continuing revelation and communication with God. Personally, and through prophets. People also wonder why we need prophets when we can just each live by seeking inspiration through a personal relationship with God. Of course we can do that, but think about the way most of us live our lives–distracted. If God wants to talk to you and send a clear message, and you want to interpret that message correctly, you have to be ready to receive it. Most of us aren’t able to focus on spiritual things for more than a bit at a time. Prophets are called to devote their lives to God’s religion. Their full-time job becomes receiving and spreading messages from God. If it were left up to us, we’d all be going a million different directions trying to understand what Heavenly Father wants for us as His children as a whole. Individually we can work it out, but we’re trying to get everyone back together, not just ourselves.

Wow.

I’m going to have a really hard time describing the last 3 months, but I’ll try.

I had the awesome chance to work as an adjunct teacher for Anat&Phys 264 and 265 Labs. It really was, well, awesome. I had so much fun being in back in the education setting, but this time on the other side! I also had so much fun getting to know myself again, by getting to know others. I think a lot about the times in my life when I was the most social (junior high through my single college years) and wonder if I’m still able to relate to people socially, more than just “How old is your son?” and “How far along are you?” Not that those conversations bother me, or I feel like I’m above them; I enjoy small simple interactions with people. But I just wondered if I was still fun to other people. That sounds really arrogant and cocky; like I think I was always the life of the party back in the day or something. But I remember feeling like I fit in almost anywhere, and I enjoyed that feeling because, yes, it made me feel important and liked. More than that, though, I think I just really enjoyed getting to know different people and laughing and having fun with them. Life gets so routine, especially with school, that I’ve wondered for a long time if that past, fun Tanya was still around somewhere. I felt like Logan was just getting the hum-drum, boring, same-today-as-yesterday Tanya when he would come home from school. I play and have fun with Mac at home, but it’s different with kids. SO, this chance to teach was also a chance for me to see what I’m like with other people anymore. And I didn’t realize it until the very end of the semester when I asked my students to provide anonymous feedback through an online survey of the things I could improve as an instructor, but also the things they felt I did well. Holy cow, it was such a sweet and humbling opportunity for me to get to read their responses. They were all SO kind and thoughtful in their feedback of what I did well. I was SO grateful and happy to read things like “You made me want to come to class,” “You were fun and energetic,” “You were passionate about the material,” “I loved your spiritual thoughts at the end of each class,” “You were always happy and loved coming to class.” It probably doesn’t sound like much to anyone else, but to me, in searching for some evidence of my former self, it really means just about the whole world. I didn’t know I came across that way to people at this point in my life. I thought I had become dull and flavorless to others because I am mostly isolated from adulthood (which I’m not complaining about, at all. I could be more social with other adults and do stuff like go to movies or whatever, but I choose not to because I’d rather be home. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like people, or conversations, or whatever. I really still love those things. I’m just a home body when push comes to shove, I guess. haha). So that was one huge blessing of the semester.

Secondly, it was a awesome to have something forcing me to study things other than Pinterest or other mindless pastimes. It was incredibly rewarding to spend even a few minutes between other jobs of the day studying and preparing lessons.

It was also a great semester for Logan, though a stressful one. We will never be free of the stress in that regard, but Logan was extremely blessed to do well in his classes, while actually increasing his time spent at home above other semesters. His efforts both academic and at home were rewarded and compensated by the other so many times, and I am so grateful for that. Mac lights every time Logan walks through the door, so it’s a major bonus for him and Logan both that Logan has been home so much more.

And, not to gloss over the “small things,” I had so many small prayers answered over the past few weeks. I lost wallets, keys, etc. and was able to find them every single time after a simple prayer. Those were the daily reminders that Heavenly Father is watching, listening, loving, providing.

The blessings have been, as they say, TNTC (too numerous to count). I’m not trying to broadcast these things to brag or say, “Look at us, everything’s going our way!” because I know there will be harder times to come. Probably soon. It’s actually with a bit of nervousness that I think about all of these good things because I can’t help but wonder when the bad will make its appearance. But I’m trying to use this time to strengthen my testimony against the inevitable storms in life. Thinking about how many suffer so greatly and yet still endure and are faithful has always been so hard for me to imagine, but also an example I try to look to when I feel discouraged and worried.

I am grateful for the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for Christmastime to remember them more.

I don’t care who you are, but yes I do.

I don’t care who you are, if you were once needed by someone–and you loved feeling needed by them–and now you’re not, it’s a little bit sad sometimes. That really actually never happens to me, I only just realized it when I put my son to bed, closed the door, and all I heard was a slight whimper of what might have been “Wait, Mom. Don’t go” but then he held back and began talking himself to sleep.

We try to raise our kids to be a little more independent every day. But then sometimes I’m like “What am I doing THAT for??” When he realizes so quickly upon the door slowly closing, “Hey, I’m a big kid. I don’t really need her to sing me one more song,” all the little Tanya’s in my heart scream “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.”

I hope Mac grows to be a hardworking, kind, self-sufficient man. But I hope he never grows out of needing me at least a little bit.

 

For Colby

Remember when we drove around Kelly Canyon in the winter, and you and I had the same dream that you drove us off the road right into the river? I don’t remember how it ended, just that we were laughing at ourselves trying to get back into the pickup.

What did that mean? I don’t know how I am safe back in the truck and you aren’t. Perhaps you are safer than us where you are. Perhaps you can better protect your family there; floating from cloud to cloud.

I hesitated to write about this because I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying to make your family’s tragedy my own. I know it’s not mine. I grieved heavily when I heard, and my heart still aches when I remember. But it is more for your family than myself. You gave me the friendship I needed then, and I have cherished it since. I will always.

I will always remember your message of joy. That “men exist to have joy,” as you said. I hope your family and your sweet wife and baby will be able to feel joy and peace. I hope they will feel your presence. I hope you like it where you are–fishing in the sky.

Sweet Relief.

The sun reached through the slated window blinds and drew thick blocks of light on my bedspread. It had been just under six years since I started college, to culminate at this moment; alone in my bedroom, my son sleeping in his big-boy bed in the room next to mine. Everybody looks forward to big moments in their lives with anticipation and an expectation of what it is going to feel like. That’s all excitement is, really; just image after image of what to expect when the ball drops, the keys are handed over, or the divorce papers are signed. Most will say “It wasn’t all I thought it would be,” or “It feels different than I expected,” or “This is weird.” The hype outdoes the reality, conservatively eight times out of ten. If it’s a problem, the solution can’t be “Don’t have expectations,” because that’s impossible. I guess my solution has been to not let my expectations be so grandiose that they can never be attained or fully felt. I knew that when I got married—because it was in a reverent and holy temple—there wouldn’t be an organ playing the wedding march, or cheering, or even quiet applause. Simple smiles and hearty hugs was all I chose to expect, and that’s exactly what I got. You don’t actually get a soundtrack to your life; fireworks will likely never explode upon your first kiss with the man of your dreams. When you walk up to get your diploma at your college graduation, the audience is not actually applauding for you (unless you’re someone like Patch Adams), but for the fact that they are one person closer to getting the heck out of that boring ceremony and getting on to the real celebrating.

So there I sat. I had taken my last exam, I had no more homework to do, and I thought, “This feels so good.” And who could ask for anything more than that? I had looked forward to this moment for six years, whilst still trying to enjoy it along the way, and now it had arrived and because all I had expected to feel was relieved, I got exactly what I bargained for. I felt proud for having finished, I felt relief from homework and tests, and I felt grateful for all of the things I learned and could continue to learn.

So here I am, a bona fide college graduate, and it feels so good.