Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

New Beginnings (part 2 of the bell choir story)

As I prepared myself for my retirement from the Bells on Temple Square, I decided that I would like to start a community bell choir of my own. I asked the Highland City Arts Council if that was something I could do under their umbrella, and my contact agreed. I had already been doing a teen chimes group at the arts center building, so this would just replace that. My optimism was bright and shiny as I started writing grants and requests for donations. My friend on the arts council assured me that she would help me apply for funding, and that they had received several grants, and in fact had recently purchased a $30,000 piano with grant money. Wow!

After applying to over 50 businesses, and spending SO many hours writing grants and filling out paperwork, I was just done. All I got back were NO’s, or just no response at all. I came to the conclusion that I suck at grant writing, and that no one believes in or wants to support this project. But I was still determined, so I decided to just beg for money from regular people. I set up a crowd funding project and really just got to begging. Even though I did get about $1000 from friends, it was a bit humiliating to beg, and of course, I took it personally, and instead of just realizing that not everyone has money to give to support my dreams, I internalized it that people don’t like or support me. I KNOW that’s not the case, but discouragement is a tricky tool of the adversary, and if he can get me to doubt my worth in any way, he will certainly do that. I’m working on not taking rejection so personally, but it’s a process.

I did receive word that Wal-mart would donate $500. Hooray! With the money I had raised, along with money from teaching my chime choir last year, I started looking for used bells, since brand new is out of the question. I found a 2 octave set of Malmark bells on ebay that was at around $3000. There was 30 minutes left in the auction, and I quickly looked at the pictures, and just started bidding. Reckless. I was very nervous, but kept on bidding until the very last minute, and I ended up winning that auction with a bid for $3450. Then I got really nervous. What if they were in terrible shape? What if I had just wasted ALL my money? I beat myself up mentally for taking such a risk, while at the same time, I was nervously excited that I had taken the leap and made a purchase! When the bells arrived, they seemed to be in good working order. I started polishing, and was pleased that my money hadn’t been totally wasted. I did have a professional look at one of the bells, and he agreed that they were in good shape. I have discovered that two of the handles are wrong, and one of bells has already needed repair ($70), but I am relieved that they are playable and sound good.

Soon after, I found another box of bells on ebay and I bought those, as well.

So we are now 4 bells short of 3 octaves. Unfortunately, they are the c4,c#4,d4, and d#4, and they are around $500 each. I also haven’t seen any of these bells on ebay, so I’m not very optimistic about finding them used. So, I haven’t forked out the $2000 to buy them. I did receive another $500 in donation from Rocky Mt. Power, so that’s encouraging, but not it’s not enough to justify buying those 4 bells yet.

Sadly, there is much more to starting a bell choir than just acquiring the bells. I realized I needed foam pads, and foam pad covers. That was another $200 and a week of my life spent measuring and sewing the muslin covers for the foam I had bought. I started advertising in on the Highland Arts Council website that we were forming a new handbell choir. I decided on a name and made a facebook page for the Timpanogos Ringers. I started talking up this choir and inviting people to come and “audition”. I had met some people in the play I was doing, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, who expressed interest in trying handbells, and a few people that I know also seemed interested. I started getting emails asking about the choir, and I had a list of about 10 people who had said they were going to come and try handbells. Things were starting to come together.

The beginning of September came, and I was excited to get started. However, only 4 people came to the first week.
Recruit, recruit!
The next week a couple more people came, but some of the first ones didn’t come. I emailed all the people who had been interested, and I heard back reasons why they couldn’t commit to a once a week activity at this time. It seems that my enthusiasm for something is not enough to compel others to commit. My Wednesday nights were not looked forward to with enthusiasm, but with dread. Discouragement raised it’s ugly head, and I thought about just giving up. Directing a choir is SO different than just showing up each week to play. A friend said to me, “why are you doing this? If it’s for you, and it’s not bringing you joy, then maybe it’s not worth it. If it’s for the community, then it’s a service you are doing.” Another friend said, “you could quit, but you aren’t a quitter, are you?” I wasn’t to the point of quitting, because I had 4 dedicated members who were excited about bells. One of them even asked if he could arrange a song for bells from a piano piece and if we could play it! I couldn’t give up yet. But I did tell myself that I only had to do this until Christmas, and then if I didn’t have enough interest, I would take a break for a while.

I came home and told my family that I needed their support. I needed 2 or 3 more people to come to bells and play bells, because I can’t direct AND play, even though I’d much rather play than direct. I also asked my sister if she would be willing to try. That night, Ryan came, Amy came, and Jenna and her friend Ryan came. It was awesome (even though I didn’t have enough bells for that many people)! Ryan and Amy actually had fun and have agreed to keep coming. Yay! And Ryan helps me carry the bell boxes to the car and back into the house each week, so that’s also a bonus.

We now have 9 ringers, which is perfect! If all of them would just keep coming every week, that would be great! They sight read very well, they are all good musicians who understand counting and notes because they have all had music lessons of some kind (even if they were kids, it helps!). I do not dread Wednesday nights! I’m having fun, and I think that they are having fun. I took a week off the week of fall break because I wanted to attend the wedding reception of a dear friend, and we are taking off Halloween. But I’ve scheduled us for a concert on December 12 at the community center, plus a couple of parties and the festival of trees. We will not be perfect, but I hope that everyone has fun. I’m hoping to get 9-10 songs ready, but if we don’t have that many songs ready, that’s ok, too.

I will still look for funding options so that we can get those bells we need, but it’s not urgent. I feel like my efforts of the past 10 months are finally starting to pay off and this crazy venture of mine might actually work. Will it replace the choir I’ve loved for the last decade? No. But this will allow me to express my love of bells and music in a new way, while hopefully instilling that love with new people. I hope that as we perform this Christmas and into next year, we will become more confident, and ready for new challenges. I also hope that we will grow as friends in the group and that it can be a safe and happy place for all who come, and that we can have joy in making music.

Breaking up is hard to do

I just removed myself from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir facebook group. It’s just a group for members of the choir and orchestra. While no one says you have to leave the group when you retire, it’s just not so applicable to non choir members. But, after my social media fast, I realize that there are things I can let go.

I’m still having a hard time NOT being in Bells on Temple Square. It’s been 4 months, so I should be over it, right? Well, I’m not. I think I haven’t finished the grieving process, and I need to go through a few more emotions before I can be done with that. So, I’m writing this for me. To help me work through. You can read it if you want, or not.

It’s hard to let go of something that was so amazing. This group was like a family to me. I know people say that about lots of groups, but really it was. It’s not a huge group like the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (hard to type that, and it doesn’t really roll off the tongue just yet), but only about 30-35 people in the bell choir at any given time. Some of us have been there since the beginning, so 13 years. But, as we age out, that number is getting smaller.

This is our original group picture, and from that group, there are still 11 charter members. Some of them have taken breaks for babies, illness or personal reasons. I never took any seasons off, although I did miss one Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir concert. I won a trip to Cancun from a radio contest, and so I had to miss performing with the group for the Sissel concert, but I still did come to the concert and watch it.

We rejoice with people when they got married or had babies, we support each other when our kids leave on their missions, and honestly care about each other. We are sad when one of our own gets divorced, and we rejoice when they get married. While we don’t see each other outside of choir things too often, some of us do socialize in other areas. I’ve had bell friends come over for different occasions, we go to wedding receptions. But really, since we see each other once or twice a week, we do keep in touch. I can’t say that I was super close to every ringer, but I do have some very close friends. We have shared hotel rooms, shared lunches, dinners, shared folders, shared music, and shared each other’s lives.

It’s hard to let go.

I’m not saying it was perfect. It was not. My time in the choir was also hard. I missed out on a lot of things because I had rehearsal. I missed many of my kids’ concerts, I missed my family Christmas party nearly every year, I missed any ward activity that was on a Wednesday night. There were many things I couldn’t do because they were on Wednesday. But I was blessed so much, that it hardly seemed like a sacrifice. Wednesday night was my time. I knew that I would get to talk with my carpool, chat about what’s going on in our lives, see my friends, and then I would work really hard for two hours sight reading or learning music, working out hard passages, and just playing. To be bathed in and surrounded by beautiful and often very spiritual music for two hours every single week is a rare gift. Yes, when the time was over, I was spent. My brain was tired, my back would be aching and my feet might hurt. But I knew that my brain and my body had worked hard and it was a good feeling. To work hard on a common goal together and to rejoice together when we finally got things right was amazing. And I’m not trying to brag too much here, but this group really is amazing. I mean, if you think about how many hours we practice to get to that level, it makes sense (at least 1352 hours in the 13 years I was in the choir, by the way, and that’s a pretty conservative estimate of 2 hours per week. Many weeks we had rehearsal twice a week). Like, we’re kind of a big deal. Well, they are kind of a big deal. Now, I’m just a person that USED to be in the Bells on Temple Square.

It’s like that song, “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”. That’s kind of how I feel. Like I’ve been dumped by a boyfriend.

Overdramatic? Yes.

I’m trying not to overglamorize my time spent with the group. There were times I felt like quitting. Seriously. There were times I was very frustrated, and times I would come home and cry. And not just at the very beginning, either. When we started, I was sure I was not good enough for the group and that I would NEVER be good enough. In fact, I know that I was not the best ringer there. I struggle with complex rhythm and my sight reading is not the best. I would see others around me playing perfectly while I struggled. At one point, I was told that I should not switch spots to ringing 4 in hand. I went home and cried and considered quitting. The next week I made some other obvious mistake and was so embarrassed I came home and cried again. I got reprimanded when I decided to do a play and had to miss 3 weeks of rehearsal. So, no, it wasn’t all just glam and roses. But, I got to perform with the most amazing musicians, got to be on tv with the choir, even got to go to the National Handbell Association Convention and perform in their closing concert.

June was the end of my service, and I was already in the midst of rehearsing a play that ended up being a wonderful experience, and kept me busy for July. Right after that there was a vacation, but when school started, and I didn’t go back to bells, the sadness hit me full force.

–To be continued.

Sanctuary!

I LOVE community theater!

Because of my commitment to Bells on Temple Square and family and church callings, I can only usually do one show per year, with some years that I don’t get to do any shows at all. This year, I REALLY wanted to do a show. Since retiring from Bells was such a loss, I needed something to help fill that void. But which show?

Last year I did my first show with Lehi Arts. Seussical was so much fun, and I loved the experience. I heard them mention that next year they would be doing The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Wow, I thought. That’s could be fun. Fast forward to spring of this year. I kept an eye on the audition announcements and there were several shows I wanted to try for. Alpine was going to be doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor dream coat, and I LOVE that show, so that was #1 on my list, even though I knew that I would only be a chorus member of villager. My summer schedule was still pretty full, as I had a bells concert in June, then a trip to New Mexico also in June, and we are going on a cruise in August. So, whatever show I did had to fit within those parameters. That narrowed it down a lot, and I was planning on auditioning for Joseph. However, I saw on the Lehi Arts website that the dates for the Hunchback show were being changed to earlier in July, and auditions would be in April. It now fit into my timeline, and I sent in an audition video (because auditions were nights I already had rehearsal).

I was not called back, but when I looked at the call back list, I was BLOWN AWAY. So many names of so many amazingly talented people! I knew so many of them from other shows and was instantly impressed with the quality of the cast. I was kind of shocked when I read my name on the cast list, but there it was as a member of the choir. At our first cast meeting, I met the directors and the cast, and was impressed. I hated to turn in my paper of the dates I needed off in May and June, and hoped they wouldn’t just boot me out for lack of availability. But they did mention that they understood if we had a few conflicts, but in July, they would OWN our lives. Good. In July I was available. While at that first cast meeting that night, my sweet grandbaby was born. So maybe that’s a good sign.

We started out learning the music, which is VERY difficult, with tons of part divisions, AND it’s mostly in Latin. And there is SO much of it for the ensemble to sing. Sweet. I bought the soundtrack and started listening to it ALL the time, trying to learn these hard songs. And did I mention extremely high? I chose to sing alto because the soprano part was so dang high, and they needed altos.

June came, and my last concert with Bells was wonderful, and terrible. Wonderful because it’s probably the best concert we’ve done to date, and terrible because it was my last. We had a retirement “party” where they presented me my plaque for serving for 10 years, and I got lots of pictures, and cried. At the concert, my dear friends were there offering hugs and commiserations that they would miss me, and I just couldn’t even talk about it, because I knew I would be crying, and it’s hard to play effectively with tears running down the face. But the world did not stop turning, and I’m trudging forward. About that time, I got a message from the director asking me if I’d like to play a saint in the show, because several people had dropped out. Absolutely, I would! I didn’t really know what the saints would be doing, but I knew they were the statues that are around, and that they sing. I had just been learning my ensemble blocking for Topsy Turvey, but I would gladly trade that part to be a saint.

In this show, the saints do a lot of standing really still. And then sing–while standing still. There is NO dancing, hardly any blocking, a lot of standing. SWEET! I learned that standing perfectly still is a lot harder than it sounds. But learning the new songs and a few lines was awesome, and the show was coming along.

In July, we moved the rehearsals from inside the air conditioned arts center to the hot parking lot. Yes, we rehearse in a parking lot. Because that’s where there is space to build the amazing set.

We also participated in the Lehi parades to create interest in coming to the show.

The cast was coming together! The saints were all told to choose an actual saint that is really on the cathedral at Notre Dame. Since most of the saints had already chosen their people, I choose St. Clotilde.

24 Dec 2009 — Sainte Clotilde statue in Sainte Clotilde church, Paris — Image by © Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis

I liked her long braids, and it’s been fun to try to emulate her.

But this show, this story, has meant so much more to me than just a play. The message of acceptance has been taken to heart by ALL the cast. There are no divas (even though these people are CRAZY AMAZING TALENTED), no drama, no exclusions. It’s beautiful. Quasimodo is someone I’ve come to love and care for, and I am heartbroken over his sadness. It’s been a way to heal my broken parts, and remind me that life goes on. I’m so thankful for everyone involved in this show. They have poured their whole hearts and energy into making this a project to be proud of.

Our Director, Colleen, said it perfectly.
“It is in fact, the most beautiful show we’ve ever produced. The cast is perfection in every way. They have all changed me in some way or another. There were more than a few times I was uncertain of our vision, preparedness, and felt very out of shape directorial wise. We had a handful of core players who believed in us and actively worked to keep the cast confident in us. To our cast, thank you for trusting us.
I love this story. It is more dramatic than the cartoon, but completely relevant to our day. Sometimes our exactness in a belief system creates harshness, piety, and an inability to truly hear and see others who do not share our beliefs. Feeling as though you are an outcast can be the loneliest feeling there is. Seeing people for who they are and loving them perfectly is the most important lesson from this show, and the greatest lesson ever taught by Christ. I am grateful to have been trusted with sharing it in our community. It has changed me. I hope you can see it, it will change you too.”

Thank you, my hunchback friends.

Gluten Free

No one wants to be that person.
SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS
It makes me think of that ONE runny nosed, scrawny kid in elementary school who has to sit by himself at the lunch table with his soy milk and non peanut butter sandwich. Or that snooty lady at the restaurant who insists on asking the waitress over and over, is this gluten free?

There was an Elder in my mission in Germany that had all kinds of dietary needs. The members didn’t like inviting him over because they didn’t know what to fix for him. I heard rumors that they would just give him boiled potatoes and meat. I feel so sorry for him. You know what they do very well in Germany? BREAD. Brotchen. Hard rolls. Schwartzbrot. And those delicious sauces! Yum. You know those aren’t gluten free.

Welcome to reality. I’m now that person.

They say pregnancy messes with your body. If there was some issue lying dormant…BOOM. It comes out in pregnancy. Mine was this rash. The doctors said it was pregnancy related, so I thought it would go away when I wasn’t pregnant anymore. Not so. So after my second baby was born and I couldn’t stand the itching and the pain, I went to a dermatologist who took biopsies of my skin and declared that I was a celiac and could not eat gluten.

It was like a death sentence. Not eat bread? Or Pasta? Or baked goods? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Needless to say, living gluten free is not a death sentence. It’s an annoyance. There are so many gluten free options, now, and with all the people doing low carb, it’s not even that weird to ask for a hamburger with no bun anymore. Some may even say Gluten free is ‘trendy’. But don’t get me started on which restaurants really stink at the gluten free burger (McDonalds–shredded lettuce with a plain patty on top of it? You call that a lettuce wrap?)

But that being said, parties are hard. I usually wander around the potluck table and think, well, if I pick out the good stuff from that, I could maybe eat it. I could peel off the cheese layer from that pizza, but that’s way too much gluten contamination. Cookies? Out. Cake? Out. Is there a fruit or a vegetable that’s plain? A burger?

Gluten free has come a LONG way in the past 20 years. Menus are marked with the gluten free symbol. Waiters don’t look at you SO much in annoyance when you ask if something is gluten free, or if you can have your burger with no bun. There are better breads and cookies, and you don’t have to go to the health food store to buy them. I can get frozen waffles, pizza crust, even cookies and muffins at my local grocery store. But it’s still more expensive and not as tasty. Let’s me honest.

I had a while there that my symptoms went away after my last child was born, so I went back to eating whatever. But about a year and a half ago, the rash came back, and now it’s non-negotiable. If I eat that half of a cookie, I will suffer. By tomorrow, I will have an exema like rash on my eyelids and face, itchy crap on the elbows, painful water blisters on my butt or knees.

The worst is when people bring treats. On Sunday, our neighbor brought over a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. That’s so sweet. But it’s not so sweet for me. Because I have no willpower, so when everyone else is eating a cookie (or 5), I ate half a cookie. And there are consequences. Ugh. Excema like rash on my eyelids, painful water blisters on my butt, itchy scabby rash on my elbows. All of it.

I even had a gluten free cookie left in the fridge, but it wasn’t that great, so I ate the homemade cookie. Silly Paige.

New Year’s!

As the year was coming to a close, I couldn’t help but think about how happy I am. And not just because I spent my birthday (which is 2 days before the end of the year) in Disneyland, but that doesn’t hurt.
Seriously. Happy. And then I was thinking about this past year and I realized it’s been a big one.
In no particular order..

*This year I lost 9 pounds. I NEARLY lost 10 pounds, but not quite. And that was before Christmas. Ryan challenged me to eat low carb and give up sugar from Halloween until the end of the year, with a few exceptions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday, and a couple select parties. Wow. It really works. After the first couple of weeks, I stopped whining and complaining about how much I wanted sugar, and just dealt with it. I have learned to cook and bake a few low carb things, and actually didn’t feel like I was going to die. My goal was to lose 10 pounds before Christmas, and a couple days before Christmas, I was SO close! Like .6 pounds away. But alas, Christmas happened, and then a family vacation. So, now, I admit that I’m only down 6 pounds, but at least I’m not UP 5-10 pounds, right? I plan to stick to the low carb plan (which is also gluten free) for quite some time, but with a few more scheduled treats.

*I’m no longer the Relief Society President. I seriously LOVED that calling, and I feel like I grew so much. I loved the interaction with the sisters, meeting everyone new in the ward, helping people through trials, the camaraderie with the bishop and the ward council. I didn’t love the stress of visiting teaching and organizing that. When I was released, I felt at a loss. And even now, I realize I don’t know the new people, and I actually don’t know what everyone’s calling in the ward is, and I hadn’t heard about the new baby being born. I feel a little bit out of the loop, and a little bit ‘less important’, but I’m ok with that. I’m figuring out my new calling as primary chorister (which I love), and supporting the new Relief Society Presidency as much as I can. I think my stress level is lower, as I’m not quite so worried about so many people.

*The Bells on Temple Square went on their first real TOUR. Well, I don’t even know if you could call it a tour, since we performed at one location, but we call it a tour because we actually flew to California on a plane, stayed over 2 nights, and got to perform at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar. What an honor and a privilege is was to perform there for so many musicians and composers. Many of the composers of our songs that we were playing were there in the audience. It wasn’t the biggest crowd we have played for (think large hotel ballroom), but it was also broadcast live on the Handbell Musicians of America website, so handbell players from around the world could watch, listen, and even comment on our songs and our performance. Reading those comments was so much fun for us. We have done away concerts before, one at BYU Idaho and one in the Garland Tabernacle, but these were just a trip up on the bus and back, no staying over night. Our hotel, our flight, even our food was paid for! It was such an amazing experience. I’m SO glad that I got to participate in this trip. My days with the Bells on Temple Square are limited, and I’m sad and a little nervous about what will come next, but I’m trying to savor and enjoy every minute I have left, instead of worrying about how much I will miss it when I “retire”. This year, at the Christmas concert, one of the other members was asking me what I was going to do when I didn’t have bells in my life, and I didn’t really know what to say. I’m hoping to be able to start my own handbell choir, but I don’t really know how that is going to happen. I know there are a couple of community choirs around, but I don’t know if that’s the thing for me. Stay tuned on that one, I guess.

*I got to do a play this summer. The last play I was in was in February of 2017. Pinkalicious.
During that play I was called as Relief Society President and I just couldn’t justify the time it would take to do a play. But this summer, after our bell trip and summer concert, I felt I could work it into my schedule. I actually tried out for 3 musicals, but I chose Seussical. It worked the best with my timeline, didn’t have rehearsals on most Wednesdays, and turned out to be a smaller cast. It was such a fun experience. I had a tiny part of Yertle the Turtle, but it was enough that I had a few lines. Since it was a small cast, the jungle animals were also circus animals and in many scenes. I loved the Director and his awesome attitude, and I met so many talented people. It was a real blessing in my life, and I hope to be able to be in a show with some of those people again.

*For Spring Break, we took the family to South Dakota. We stayed with our dear friends Lisa and Paul, who had recently moved to Rapid City for work. It was a great road trip! We took Jenna, John, Natalie, and Kate. We had never seen Mt. Rushmore before, and it was amazing. There was so much to see and do, even though much of it was not yet open for the tourist season of summer. Lisa, Jared and Kamryn came with us to most things, and it was a truly fun vacation. We wanted to do something fun with Kate, our Russian daughter, that would be something she had never done. She made it extra fun for us all. Kate was one of the best things about the 2016-17 year. She made everything fun and was always enthused.

*Ryan and I got to go to Europe in February last year. BEST trip EVER! I’m sad that he wasn’t chosen to go to the Amsterdam trade show again this year, but I’ll treasure those memories and hope we can go again.

*Not really something I did this year, but John got to go on a fabulous trip to the National Scouting Jamboree. It was great to see him work toward a goal, prepare for the trip, and then experience such a wonderful event. Truly a once in a lifetime trip, and we are so glad he enjoyed it.

*This year I also became a Shine representative. Some friends of mine started a makeup company based on positive values and the words used in makeup. They realized they wanted to change the way women felt about themselves. They wanted to inspire women and help them to look their best at all times.

They wanted to remove the stigma that is often attached to beauty products, resulting in a woman’s character being questioned. They wanted to ensure women felt con?dent and beautiful without any inappropriate messages being attached to the beauty products they used. This became clearer to them on the night they were putting make-up on their daughters for a dance competition. They realized they were supporting a degrading message to women by supporting aggressively sexual and inappropriate messages.

The team spent two years developing the Shine brand before launching. Their mission: to be at the forefront of innovation and to ensure they help women define beauty with a positive voice.

I joined them in this business because I believe in that message. I love the product, as well. Focus, peace, joy, acceptance, awaken, lively, timeless..aren’t those better names for makeup than better than sex, naked, or lipgasm? I’m not the best at sales, but I do believe that if I keep at it, my business will grow and take off. I’ve enjoyed meeting people at home parties and events, too. If you want to check it out for yourself, go here. You can even get 10% off your order if you use my code, Paige10

I’m excited about the new year, but wondering what this year will hold. I’m hoping for more plays and more travel. I’ll work on that.

Chickens

When checking on the chickens, I noticed Beyoncegg hanging out in the nesting box. She’s not one to usually go broody, but I figured she was busy with egg laying. When I came back later and checked for eggs, she was still there. I opened the coop door and she was struggling to get out of the box. When she did get out and walk away, I noticed goopy runny egg around her vent. I remembered reading somewhere about eggs that could be broken inside the chicken, and I picked her up and brought her inside.

I put her in the sink and held on to her so she wouldn’t go wildly flapping around and asked Ryan to look up on his phone what we should do with her. “It says take her to the vet.” Are you kidding? I don’t want a huge vet bill so I decided to wash her vent with warm water and see if I could remove any shell with tweezers or fingers. I was able to grab a piece of a rubbery egg shell (the shell doesn’t get hard until right before the egg is laid) and pull it out.

Sometimes things go wrong in the egg laying cycle, and it could be dangerous to the bird if not taken care of. I read up about it here.

Gross, yes. But cheaper than a vet visit.

The Dove is a Symbol

I did a dove release for another funeral today. Another unexpected death, possibly a suicide, but I don’t know.

After I let the doves go, the funeral director said a few words. He mentioned that there are two times in the Bible. According to the biblical story (Genesis 8:11), a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying a freshly plucked olive leaf , a sign of life after the Flood and of God’s bringing Noah, his family and the animals to land.

Also, when John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

The dove is a symbol for peace, and for coming home. When we release the doves at the gravesite, they circle around a few times, and then they fly home. Hopefully all of them arrive back at their home for their food and shelter before I even get back home.

Just as the dove flies home, so do our spirits go home. Home to our heavenly home.

I appreciated those words that he spoke, and told him so.

I enjoy doing the dove releases. It’s peaceful and beautiful when they fly out of the box and circle around.

What’s not peaceful and beautiful, however, is finding the cemetery and making sure you get there on time. Today’s service was in Eagle Mountain. That’s pretty far out there. I was there a bit early, and it’s a pretty small place, so it was easy to find the grave.
However, a lady was supposed to give me cash or a check for the doves, and no one came up to me to offer me money (sad, right? But usually they pre pay or give me a check there). I texted Pam, the owner of Wings of Love, and asked if she knew who was supposed to pay me. I figured if I just stayed there after the dove release, the person who requested the doves would step forward. Nope. She was stuck at work, and could I meet her at the Maverick gas station. Hmmm. I texted her directly and said, yes, I would meet her at the Maverick gas station. I put Maverick Eagle Mountain into my phone and off I went. But then she called and asked where I was. Seems there are two Mavericks, and I was going to the wrong one. Oh, heavens. She asked where I was, and when I told her, she said, “Pull over. I’ll come find you. I’m in a big grey truck.” I told her what I was driving and said I would wait. I was worried for a little bit, thinking, that it sounded a bit like a set up for murder, but I figured, I would just stay in my car. When the big grey truck pulled up behind me, I had a flash of panic, but it was actually a lady carrying a check. Crisis averted. Pam will get paid, I will get paid, and the doves will fly safely home.

Too many ‘me, too’s

Seeing everyone’s “Me, Too” posts is making me sad and shocked. If you don’t know what that is, it started when Alyssa Milano tweeted “if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” You can read more here.

I thought through my life and I can’t really say that I have been sexually harassed or assaulted, but then my mind went back to middle school. Oh, the dreaded middle school. Where girls are just starting to experience menstruation and the boys are crude, rude, and crass. When it was “that time of the month”, I lived in fear that my pad would leak and I’d have blood on my pants. After sitting at a desk for 45 minutes or longer, when you stand up, it pretty much feels like a gush of liquid and I was always terrified there would be an accident. Feminine protection has come a long way in 30 years, so I hope that girls don’t have that same terror. If you saw girls with sweatshirts or sweaters tied around their waist, that wasn’t always just a fashion statement. Boys were stupid, and if a girl said something that they perceived as snarky, comments like, “Oh, she’s on the rag,” or similar crass remarks abounded.

The worst experiences were in shop class. Yes, I took metal shop with two of my friends. I think there were 5 girls in that class. Some of my friends loved it. I did not. The boys in that class were jocks and jerks, and none of them friends of mine. It was hard for me to speak up and get a turn using the welder or other tools because the boys just scared me. There was constant talk of sex and lude remarks. I don’t know where the shop teacher was. I tried to laugh it off, but inside I felt like curling up into a ball. Someone started singing, “Come on baby, light my fire,” when they needed a light for a torch or a welder (which seemed to be all the time). I still hate that song. And heaven forbid if I WERE on my period and had to go to shop class. Every comment made me cringe and shirk and feel dirty and helpless.

Was I overreacting? Harmless talk? Maybe. But it wasn’t a locker room, it was a class room, and it was not a safe place for me. I passed that class, but with a C. Because I could never get time on the welder (because I was afraid and intimidated) I ended up making a bunch of twisted wire trees, similar to these.

I don’t know where any of those trees are, now. Probably in my parents’ attic or given away as “gifts”. I’m kind of glad I don’t know where they are, because looking at them would make me feel small.

Women and girls should not have to feel shame because their bodies are performing their functions. Yes, we have ovaries. And Fallopian tubes. Wake up.

Contrast this to right after my mission. I was SO much in missionary mode, but I needed a job, so I signed up with a temp agency. I was sent to work at a cabinet manufacturing facility. I would write labels for the cabinet orders. I don’t know why they didn’t have a computer to do that, but there I was, with a bunch of cabinet makers. I didn’t know anyone, and when in the break room for lunch, there was a lot of foul language. One guy threw around f bombs and other such gems a LOT. I did my best to ignore, but didn’t say anything. I probably cringed, though. I don’t know. After a couple of days, something nasty came out of his mouth, but then he looked at me, and said, “Sorry, I’m trying to quit.” I hadn’t mentioned that his language was offensive to me, but he noticed, and tried to do better when I was around.

I don’t want to minimize other’s experiences with my own, just notice that sexual harassment is prevalent everywhere.

It’s hard to have faith that the Me Too campaign, or something like the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement will make a difference. But maybe they are two very small steps towards a more just future for victims.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.

Step Aside

It’s been an emotional day for me. After 2 1/2 years of serving the wonderful sisters of my ward, I was released today from the calling of Relief Society President.
Never before have I had a calling where I learned so much, stretched out of my comfort zone so much, and relied on the Lord so much.
I have loved serving these sisters. I have loved the relationships I’ve built and the joy of service. We had a successful Relief Society Retreat 2 weeks ago, and it was a great “last activity” for our presidency.

Yes, It’s had it’s down side (visiting teaching changes, early morning meetings on Sundays when the rest of the family gets to sleep in, and the like), but I can honestly say I’ve loved this calling. I have the absolute best counselors and people working with me, and I feel so very blessed. I’m thankful for the blessings I have received. I feel like I’ve become a more caring, less judgmental person, and I hope that I can keep those qualities as a part of me forever.

I’m not a person who embraces change, especially endings. Once I have people I love in my life I don’t want to let them go.
So, this is a little bit difficult for me to take a step back and trust in the Lord that whatever comes next will also be wonderful. I can still see and visit these sisters that I love.

I am so grateful for the support and love I have received during this time in my life, and for 2 amazing Bishops who have supported and taught me.

Someone asked me what I was going to do with my free time, now that I’ve been released. Free time? I’m sure I’ll fill it with something. But until then, perhaps I should get my office cleaned up. I’ll work on that for my goal for this week.

Pop Pop and MiMi?

We recently got the exciting news that we are going to be grandparents! It’s the job we’ve trained all our lives for. Not sure if I should start buying pink things or blue things, but don’t worry, I’ll find the cute tiny things for my future grand baby. The big question is, what do we want to be called? Ryan thinks the standard “Grandpa” is good, but I’m thinking about it.

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