Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.

Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.
How I feel after throwing a party...

Thanks for the visit!! :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pioneer Trekking Through the Generations

Painting Found in the East Foyer of the LDS Conference Center

Pioneer Trekking Reenactment: In our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our pioneers are held dear for their faith, their hard work, for the path they blazed into the West and for the many, many sacrifices that were made on behalf of seeking to live the gospel of Jesus Christ free from persecution. They sought to establish a place of safety and freedom for the members of the church who were chased and persecuted, beaten, raped and murdered, and flushed with threat of bodily harm from one settlement to another, by various mobs. There was great suffering, but also great joy.

My ancestors on my mother's side of the family were a part of the great exodus from  Europe and then across the early United States and into the territories of the West. The stories of these various pioneers have significantly imprinted my life and my ability to put my own trials and difficulties into perspective.

My great-great, and great-great-great grandmothers traveled across the Atlantic from England, leaving in the dark of the night, as my great-great-great grandfather was bitter about the church and did not want them to join. They left by ship and then made their way across the United States to the Utah Territory. The mother, Caroline, fell ill right as she was boarding the ship from England, by the time the ship had sailed she knew she was too ill to be traveling but there was nothing to be done at that point. Her spunky little girl, Caroline Rachel, was 8 years old and was cared for and tended through the kindness of those around her. Apparently she was a vibrant, energetic child, and got under foot of the sailors whenever she would go up top to throw her face to the sky and the sun and to breathe in the freshness of the sea, but despite the inconveniences everyone managed somehow.

In their trek across the United States and into the wild West, eventually Caroline the mother succumbed to her illness, which has been stated in some records to have been Consumption, and died and was buried on the banks of the Missouri River. Caroline Rachel continued her trek alone, barefoot through the hot and pricker-filled plains, with strangers, or at least strangers that became friends and caregivers along the way.

Caroline Rachel made it out to Utah and was fostered out to a family to be raised and cared for where she was happy and healthy and grew up to be the mother of 12 red headed children, of which my great grandmother was one, and so our story goes through the generations. As a side note, her father, missing his family and not knowing that his wife had died, several years later joined the church and came speedily out to rejoin his family. He was ecstatic to be reunited with his little girl, who was no longer so little, but heartbroken and inconsolable when he heard of the death of his beloved wife. Because she was well established and happy in her adopted family, he decided to live in a home next door to her instead of taking her away from them to live with him. He died a short few years later.

A common activity among our youth groups, in the summer time, is to reenact in some degree the walking, or trekking, that the pioneers experienced. There is always a lot of walking, more often than not they are dressed in 1800s period clothing, the rations are limited and there are stories told and a lot of work done along the way. As you can imagine, participating in this type of an activity gives pause for thought, for gratitude, and for humility and soberness of mind as they think about what the predecessors went through many, many years ago.

The youth are generally sorted into "family" groups with a ma and a pa and they work and walk and pull handcarts together. There is usually a pull where the women and girls must trek alone, sometimes to represent the men being gone with the Mormon Batallion (the U.S. Army recruited the Mormons to help blaze through to California), sometimes to represent how many women and girls traveled alone because the men did not join the trek, were serving the church elsewhere or perhaps had died. The food is often simple and sometimes meager to represent the difficulties the pioneers experienced. Overall, it is hot and dirty and dusty, or perhaps rainy and cold and muddy, just like it was back in the 1800s.

I came across this article and thought it sounded like this group of kids had a great experience, so I thought I would share it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Night = Family Night

Monday Night: Family Home Evening. In the Latter-day Saint culture, Monday nights are generally reserved for the family. It is a time when families come together to learn about the gospel and how to implement it in their lives. It is a time set aside for bonding together, for creating deeper friendships and understandings with one another. It is an opportunity for peace and laughter, and maybe some cookies or brownies shared together, in the home. Family Home Evening, also called Family Night is a time to be together. 

Growing up our family implemented this tradition of learning, sharing and growing. Through the years for Family Home Evening, which we had in spurts, but never as consistently as I think my mom would have liked (we are definitely not a perfect family, but more of a learning, let’s keep practicing family), we learned to read our scriptures, to discuss our thoughts and ideas, we sang hymns and children’s songs, learned how to conduct music and say prayers. During family prayer we would kneel together, head’s bowed, arms folded, in a circle as we supplicated the Lord. Prayer was ALWAYS followed by a giant family, swaying, laughing hug, (with sometimes tipping over and silliness )and then refreshments (popcorn, cookies, brownies, cake or some other delightful treat one of us had helped my mom to make.) Family Home Evening was almost always a happy time, though there was the occasional pouting that occurred that wore off as we went through our lesson and activity.

Some of the activities that stick out in my mind are:  
    • Our family name is Zalit. People often fear the “Z” and panic and don’t know how to say it or use it, it’s pretty much how it is spelled. We have had any number of pronunciations, but “Salad” was pretty common. One year, we worked on a family mission statement and my dad, who was a dramatic, dynamic, creative man who loved fanfare, decided that we should have a family banner. So, we made a family banner. Now as I mentioned, the whole Zalit/Salad thing—well in addition to the mispronunciation, most of us, LOVED salad, so as a celebration of who we are and were, our family flag had a giant bowl of crazy exploding salad on it. It was very colorful and cheerful and we loved it. 
    • My mom and dad took turns teaching us a gospel lesson, sometimes, as we got older, we helped to prepare and teach the lesson. On this one particular occasion, we talked about prayer and how it was like making a telephone call to Heavenly Father. My dad had cans with string attached and we took turns talking and listening. We had to listen really carefully for the answer because it wasn’t like talking to each other face to face or shouting, but rather was a feeling, or thoughts, or whisperings. He taught us that this is what it was like to talk to God and to be impressed upon by the Holy Ghost: you needed to focus, listen with your mind, your heart and your ears.
    • We learned about our pioneer heritage, both those who came across the plains of the great wild territories of the United States, as well as those who crossed land and sea to achieve freedom in other countries. We learned about the heritage of sacrifice, of hard work, of building things up, of faith in God, and of the pursuit of dreams and righteous desires. We learned about our family’s journey from Latvia to Brazil to the United States. We learned about our German, English, Swedish and Scottish heritage, including our tartan, and professional artists, musicians, teachers, farmers, ranchers, businessmen and entrepreneurs. We learned about success and failure, joy and sorrow, sickness and health. The stories of our people, of those who paved the way ahead of us have given me strength and comfort in my own life as I have braved new paths and journeys and as I strive to leave a positive and strong heritage to those who come behind me.
    • We learned about the prophets of the Bible and also modern day prophets. We loved the stories of Daniel in the Lions Den, of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace, and of the beauty of the words and writing in Psalms and Proverbs, and of the strength of Abraham and Isaac and Ruth and Esther. We learned about the birth, and life, and death of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ and that He is our example in all things and that through the Atonement that we can return to our Heavenly Father again some day. We learned about the stories in The Book of Mormon: about Nephi and Sam and Laman and Lemuel and how to be a good sibling vs. a bad sibling. We learned about conviction and the 2000 Stripling Warriors and how they were taught to be righteous by their mothers, and of course about Samuel the Lamanite who stood up on the wall and cried repentance to the people. We learned about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel in this dispensation, and of course Brigham Young, and all of the prophets that followed, as well as stories of courage and faith of the pioneers. 
    • With great fanfare, costuming, and creativity we enacted the nativity every year growing up, with the last one with everyone at home, being the Christmas before I got married wherein I was a heralding angel in a white graduation gown, a tiara, elbow length white gloves and every sparkling piece of jewelry I could find . . . because angels sparkle, (did you not know??), my mother and sister a shepherd herding the family pets, brothers who were kings and inn keepers scowling at my grandparents who were Mary and Joseph, and lastly my baby brother, who was 7, squashed into a blanket filled laundry basket…unimpressed.
These are my memories and nothing was perfect and often there was the usual family drama and comedy that occurs in every family. But Family Home Evening is a fond memory and was an integral part to my learning and growing up and developing my own testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Family Home Evening doesn’t need to be something that is tedious or a pain in the neck. It doesn’t even need to take up a ton of time. Monday nights can be an opportunity to gather together as a family, to talk about the ups and downs of the day, to prepare for things coming up in the new week, and to read some verses of scripture together, to talk about the love of God for His children, or of the example of Jesus Christ and how it applies to our day to day living. Family Home Evening can be about serving others, any others that may be important to you: help a neighbor, surprise a friend or show kindness to a stranger or some other person in need. Family Night can be when you learn how to do something together: bake cookies, play a new game, read a new book out loud, build a fence, play outside, make popcorn balls, decorate the Christmas tree, and any other thing you can imagine.

Family Home Evening can be something you do whether you are a young family or a more mature family, whether you have children or no children, whether you are a single parent or dual parent household, whether you are married, divorced, separated, or single. Family Home Evening is what you define it to be for the needs of you and your family, however that may be defined. 

Give Family Night a chance, make it what you need it to be, customize it to your needs and the needs of your family. And remember, it may be rough sometimes or all you can do to get through it, but keep at it, it is one of those things that is worth the effort and the hassle, it is worth the balking that teenagers may put up, it is worth the complaining because somebody doesn’t get to play a video game, or be online or watching a show. The family time that you spend learning about the gospel, each other, and compassion and love, and the life of Christ will be worth it in the long run long after shows and games have been forgotten. People will remember the laughter and the love and the joy of being a family who are friends.

Peace be with you. Do something new that will bring joy and light and love into your home. Happy experimenting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rats and Rattlesnakes

Pioneer Women. I've been studying these women for years, and through their lives and example I have found places of strength within myself that I have been happy to reach to in times of need. The lives of these women: their trials, their cheer, their faith, all help me to be stronger in the face of my own adversity and trials.

A couple of months ago I went to a seminar on Eliza Partridge Lyman, a Mormon pioneer woman. She was a regular woman, and yet through her regularness of being, was incredible in the things she pushed through and in the way she persevered through her hardships. Our friend Eliza, is one of my favorite strong women who was just like me and you. She struggled, she had love, and joy, and tragedy, and heartbreak. Sometimes she didn't know how she was going to make it through, but she held on, stayed the course, and pushed through.

As you might imagine, travelling across the United States, and the wild territories that still existed at that time, in wagons and handcarts was not an easy means of travel in the mid 1800's. The day to day tasks, chores and responsibilities of men and women were mostly manual in nature. By the sweat of their brow they worked and ate and prospered, or sometimes didn't. Being pregnant, giving birth, dealing with sickness and injury and having babies, children and family die along the way, also not easy. Living in a home with a sod roof that leaked when it rained was no easy burden to bear, let alone the critters in and upon you, (so super not awesome), but despite it all she persevered mostly cheerfully, and continually checked herself to try harder, to do better, to strive to be more faithful.

She wrote regularly in her journal throughout her life and from these writings I learned that she had to deal with an overabundance of rats and rattlesnakes through the course of her life, homesteading, and travels. This made a pretty significant impression on me because those are two awful creatures to have to worry about. Because of this, in the moment that I heard about it, I realized the following "If I'm not up to my ankles in rats and rattlesnakes, I'm going to be o.k. I can push through . . . and if I ever find myself up to my ankles in rats and rattlesnakes, well I guess I'd better be in boots and solving my problem as quickly as possible."

The stories of my ancestors, of pioneers, of those who strove to persevere through the hard and heinous times help me to focus, to realign perspective, and to look on the sunny side. Sometimes when I get grumpy, or things seem a little overwhelming, I say to myself "Seriously Tracy, you're not up to your ankles...or your rats and rattlesnakes, you didn't bury a baby out on the plains knowing that the coyotes that are howling are going to be digging at that little grave before the day is through, and you didn't have to have someone chop your braids off because they were frozen to the ground where you were sleeping. You can do this. You can push through. You're going to be o.k." and it's true--I can push through and I am going to be o.k.

Eliza's life and example give me strength in my own. Someday, if I'm lucky in the hereafter, I hope I have a chance to meet her, hug her, and tell her "Thank you" for the example that she was to me. She pushed through, stayed the course, and did hard things, and so can I.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Status Chipper Quo: Serving in the Primary

I wrote this last week about my time thus far in serving in the Primary organization in my Ward. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we, through callings, or requests for leadership and assistance, help to run our local Sunday and weekday meetings and activities. 

I am in the Primary organization as the President which means that I work with all of the 18 month to 11 year old children in our Ward or parish/congregation. We are responsible for their "Sunday School" portion of learning, along with singing, classroom learning, playing, activities and Cub Scouts.

These are my thoughts.

Sunday, July 7, 2014

"Children are an heritage of the Lord." Psalms 127:3

The Primary children, the junior babies, the 3-6 year olds, delighted me yesterday during singing time.

Singing time always brings me joy. I want the children to learn to love to sing. I want them to be able to learn the gospel and the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for them through the happy, joyful and spiritual songs we teach them and that they learn to love to sing. Singing can open up the heart and teach us things, especially larger concepts, when we are too little to even say the words properly. Singing can help us to feel the Holy Spirit and the love that our Father in Heaven has for us. Singing can just be fun as we laugh, and smile, and play as we learn.

Yesterday, we started with a new chorister; this was her first Sunday teaching Singing Time. The children took straight to her as she has been a familiar face in Primary already as she was our Sunbeam (3 year olds) teacher this year. I know she was nervous and hasn’t ever done this before, but I also know that she was the right person for the job and that she would be marvelous at it. I was excited to see how she would do.

When they opened their little voices and hearts and sang the song “The Family is of God” I sat down from my other bustling and responsibilities and I just listened. This is the song:

Our Father has a family. It’s me! It’s you, all others too: we are His children. He sent each one of us to earth, through birth, to live and learn here in fam’lies. Chorus
A father’s place is to preside, provide, to love and teach the gospel to his children. A father leads in fam’ly prayer to share their love for Father in Heaven. Chorus
A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare, to nurture and to strengthen all her children. She teaches children to obey, to pray, to love and serve in the fam’ly. Chorus
I’ll love and serve my family and be a good example to each fam’ly member. And when I am a mom or dad, so glad, I’ll help my fam’ly remember:
Chorus: God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to bee—This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.

As she led them and as the children vociferously sang their sweet little hearts out, particularly during the chorus, I was moved by the Spirit and my heart was so full it almost spilled out of my eyes. From one moment to the next I was overwhelmed by love: my love for the children, my love for their teachers, my friends, and my Heavenly Father’s love for me. What a Sunday blessing to receive and what a peaceful, loving way to begin the new week!

How blessed I have been to serve the children of our neighborhood and church through these almost-8 years. When I was first put into the Primary Presidency as the 2nd Counselor I was surprised. We had just moved into our home two weeks prior and we knew no one. We had been to church, maybe twice, when the Bishopric came to visit us in our home and extended the calling to me. I was not reluctant to accept it, just surprised, and so I went, feet first into the delightful, sunny pool of sunshine that the Primary is.

From the beginning I was responsible for the coordination of the monthly baptisms for our freshly minted 8-year olds. This is one of my very favorite responsibilities. I love working with the families as we prepare the program together, answer questions they may have, but especially in seeing the children take this big step in their spiritual progress as they decide to step forward to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and in establishing a covenant relationship with their Heavenly Father through Baptism. It touches my heart as each of them enter the Baptismal Font in their white clothes reaching out their little hands in trust and love to their fathers and grandfathers, or perhaps to uncles and brothers or family friends, depending on the circumstance. The sacredness and joy in the event is always palpable and I am so proud and humbled all at the same time to be able to be a witness to this goodness and happiness at these events.

I also have the opportunity to speak to each of the children and their friends and families from the pulpit once they have been baptized, received the Holy Ghost and been confirmed our newest members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I often reflect on how much they have grown, observances about their character, and the delight we share in their personality and presence in Primary. I love the gift of being a part of this special event.

After serving as the counselor for four years I was asked to be the President and so I have been for the past four years. The responsibility for the coordination of the baptisms then fell to my second counselor. I still attended the baptisms and spoke with the children and their families which I continued to enjoy. Last year, my counselor asked if we could switch some responsibilities, due to her pregnancy, and if I would take on the baptisms again, I happily did, and so it has been that I continue to be fully linked in with the baptismal process and events. I’m happy to do it.

Now that I have been in the Primary for almost 8 years, I imagine that my responsibilities will be coming to an end sooner than later. I don’t know the time or the day, but it is likely that someone else will be given the opportunity to lead the Primary onward into the future.

I’m finding that I am relishing the small moments, the sparkly eyes as they tell me a new joke, the happy smiles as they come running into the Primary room after Sacrament Meeting, their little hugs and high fives and how their eager little hands are always willing and wanting to help me as I get the room set up to begin. I love how they are excited to get up in front of the other children to read the monthly theme, or the designated scriptures, or to give a talk, or a prayer. The children love to volunteer to help in every way. It delights me that they are patient, gentle and kind with the children who are struggling or who have special needs. There is no perfection here, occasionally we have frowny faces, some crying, hurt feelings and unkind words, and once a slight scuffle between 6-year old shepherds during our Christmas lesson, but these are little children still learning the ways of self-mastery and the world. They take corrections fairly easily and it’s back to status chipper quo.

Our Primary is a joyful place. Our Primary is a haven of love. Our teachers and activity leaders are kind and thoughtful and funny and loving and the children enjoy their lessons and activities. I have approximately 112 souls currently under my stewardship, 36 adults and 76 children, and at a greater extension, their families. Magnify that by the children and teachers that have come and gone over the course of my eight years in the Primary and you can see that the influence and responsibility extends even further and how great the accountability is to do my job correctly and well.

My goal is and always has been to serve them, support them, and love them. I cannot fail on my watch to teach them the things that they need to know, to provide them with the tools in understanding the gospel, recognizing the Spirit, and knowing in their hearts beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is their brother, and is real and true, and that He loves every single one of them whether they choose the right or sometimes choose the wrong. I want them to understand the Atonement, and the powerful tool that it can be in our everyday lives. I want them all to know that their Heavenly Father knows them by name and loves them and that even when we trip up, that love does not change. I want them to know how easy it is to reach out and talk to their Father in Heaven through prayer and that you can pray wherever and whenever you please. I want them to know the repentance process and the freedom that forgiveness brings. I want them to know that families can be together forever, that when people die that we will have the joyous reunion of seeing them again someday. I want them to know these things and so much more.

Through my influence, and that of their teachers, I want to help prepare these lovely, delightful little children to head out into the world. I want them to be able to stand solid and true against the buffetings and whispers that would encourage them to make poor choices and lead them down a path of sadness, heartbreak and misery. I want them to know that they are strong, divine, beautiful creatures full of light and with a mission and a purpose. I want them to know that doing good for the sake of good, that loving for the sake of loving, that joy for the sake of joy, and sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice are all things to be humbled by and proud of.

Simply and ultimately I want them to know that they are a child of God. This is my stewardship, my accountability and my responsibility, and it is hard, happy work and I am privileged to do it for as long as it lasts.

And so I follow the words of Jesus Christ as I strive to be his disciple and follower, as I tend to these little ones, when He said "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Mark 10:14), and again in Matthew 18:6 "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Not looking for a millstone, not looking to nosedive into the depth of the sea, just looking to do my best while these little humans, and some big humans, are under my care. :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

San Diego Flotilla

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Catamaran Resort, San Diego, California 
11:40 a.m.

Outside the window a flotilla begins to manifest itself. There are a plethora of different types of flotation water crafts, kayaks, paddle boards, little boats, and they are full of children. It seems that perhaps there is some type of summer camp taking place. They are squealing and shouting and laughing and it looks to be a generally good time. 

In the water there are some older kids that have been tasked with swimming around our boat, arms flailing, feet with flippers kicking, water diamonds skittering and glistening off of their tanned, brown skin, and sunny faces splashing in and out of the water trying to breathe and see, stroke after stroke after stroke. When they are done they run up and down the beach, carrying their flippers, water skittering and dancing all around and off of them and sand blasting up and out from their feet, everywhere. For a child, it seems the perfect summer day.

I turn back to the instructor at the front of the room, he is fully engaged in his lecture on data and data governance. He is an expert in his field, he is passionate about his conversation. I get it. It's good information, but the pull of the window is strong. I look back out.

I almost laugh.

The fleet of kayaks and paddle boards is moving further out into the bay together. It looks fantastic. It really looks like a flotilla of tiny water craft. Yellow, white, orange, green and life jackets and paddles all going in every direction, some more smoothly than others, but all going. I can hear distant howls, cries and laughingThe water sparkles like a mermaid's treasure trove, and I can't hear the cacophony of squawking, laughing children any longer, but there is no doubt that the event continues to be of great joy and excitement.

My ears turn my head back to the he front of the room and the speaker drones on. I mean I feel bad for the guy. It's day three of the data conference and people are starting to be distracted. We are in San Diego which is awesome because it's beautiful here and the weather is great, but no matter how much you love and believe in data it's, and managing data, and governing data, and securing data. The ocean and the sunshine call us and indoors everyone looks like a zombie drooling at the windows. But, like good little adults, we mostly tear our eyes away from the windows and the splashing and the sunshine and we focus on the good gentleman who speaks to us passionately and emphatically about the importance of data.

And so it is that we work to improve our environments, to make something of our jobs, to improve upon what we come into, to learn and to grow...but it doesn't mean we lose the joy or the sunshine. It doesn't mean we should become dour and so hyper serious that we miss the happiness and light that can be found in the unexpected moments and in small upturned faces and crazy flotillas. 

Go out there, learn, work, pursue, but also live in ways that make you happy. Godspeed you joy and love and light.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Push Through. Quest. Seek. My Brother in Man Against Horse

 Me, sister Grace, brother Andy
Post my first half marathon: Zion Half Marathon March 2014

My brother Andy, who I have also referred to as my "Runner Brother Andy" inspires me. His wife Loya is dogmatic and persistent in her support of him. They make a fantastic team. Together, they have led their family into a lifestyle of adventure, fitness, and can-do-it-ism that is impressive and exciting.

In 2011, Andy decided to participate in an Ultra Marathon, a 50-miler called Man Against Horse that takes place in Prescott, Arizona. During this particular year, a documentary called "For 50 Miles" was being filmed. Andy had never run this type of an event before and so this was an exciting, eye-opening challenge, and it was definitely a challenge. 

In talking to my brother since his participation and completion of this event, I have found inspiration in his perseverance, in his push through, and in his quest to finish. He came in last, in the dark, headlamp on, but he finished. There were race obstacles along the way, where he barely missed cut off times so closely that he was able to beg, steal and borrow a continuance onward and push-through purely out of desire,willpower and the support and push of his wife. I don't know why or how the people let him through, but they did. He told me they weren't happy about it, but at this point he was in it to the finish. He met people along the way that helped to pace him and that inspired him.

Mile Post 40: 10 miles from the finish, telling him he couldn't continue

During the course there was pain, and sweat, feet that hurt and knees that ached, blisters and swelling, dirt, wet socks, and a body that somehow pushed through to the end. My brother is a finisher and if given the opportunity to continue, even under duress and uncertainty, he moves forward.

I am proud of my brother. I think he is amazing and he has inspired me onward to doing tough things, things that make dreams and goals and desires come true, things that help me to achieve and excel to new heights I haven't previously dreamed of.

2014: At my first 1/2 Marathon: 13.1 miles: DONE
This chica is a FINISHER

Andy did something tough, something hard. He can do hard things. I did something tough. I can do hard things. WE can do hard things.

Don't give up on the things you want most for what is most convenient or easy in the moment.
Don't shy away from failure or from pursuing difficult things.
Don't be afraid of hard work and training and perseverance.
Do chase the things you are passionate about.
Do seek out to challenge your mind and your body.
Do throw your head to the sky and howl with delight as you move forward and push through and achieve.
Love the life you live. Live the life you love. Become the human being YOU want to become.
You can do hard things, you just have to choose.

In the attached video you'll see Andy and/or Loya at :49, 1:07-1:13, 1:23-1:29, 1:36-1:41; 2:11-2:17.


Andy: One of My Inspirations

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


We had a couple of minor adventures on our run tonight. We were late getting out, it was cold and rainy and being inside was more pleasant, but instead of letting the day get away from us we decided to go do what needed doing. We left about 9 p.m. and the clouds had cleared enough to leave us with an amazing pink-clouded sunset with a view all the way out to Antelope Island. 

We got going, chatted, and ran, and walked, and saw a black fluffy bottle brush tail waggling back and forth sticking up out of a hole in the ground. I knew it had to be a little skunk, but was surprised. I pointed it out to an unimpressed Jerel and we gave it a wide berth. Just up ahead a few more paces I saw another fluffy black tail. I thought "REALLY???" and sure enough it was a second skunk. I told Jer it looked like we might be running more than we had anticipated. No worries though, they were so busy digging for grubs that they didn’t pay us any mind, which was fine for the moment, but what about on the way back? The light would be dim at best, the sun had already set. Well, whatever, we’d work it out as needed.

Night truly began to fall and we were going on twilight and moonbeams. Stars began to peek out and in the distance I heard a cow lowing. I loved being outside with the smell of wet hay and grass, cows and water, desert and wildflowers. My mind wandered…to all of the Criminal Minds episodes where people are murdered in the forest or in a wooded park. I regained control of my mind, mostly, and pondered on the delights of nature and how I wished I didn’t know as much as I do about human predators. 

It was dark enough that I was glad that Jerel had a flashlight. I sang out: “The sun has gone down and the moon has come up and long ago somebody left with the cup…He’s going the distance. He’s going for speed. She’s all alone, all alone, in her time of need.” We laughed. We were almost back to the cemetery where the car was…in the dark. Seriously.

Suddenly to my left I heard angry chittering…chittering with teeth, I was instantly on alert. I said “What is that??” and thought possibly raccoons. Jerel said “Sounds like raccoons.” Great. I picked up the pace, I knew that could charge and I didn’t need a lousy little ankle biter chasing me in the dark. The angry, toothy chittering continued, and though I had picked up the pace, it sounded like it was keeping pace. This did not make me happy. I started thinking about rabid zombie raccoons. Finally the noise died back. Jerel mentioned it sounded like they had been keeping pace…so I wasn’t just imagining things.

We got back to the car…unscathed…unsprayed…and thoroughly happy to have gotten another day of running intervals under our belts. Jerel’s parting statement “We need to come out just a little bit earlier…before all the angry mammals come out.” Agreed Jer. Agreed.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Victory on the Trail

So I'm doing this fitness thing. I'm changing some habits, tossing them out, and acquiring some new ones. Not always so easy, but I feel pretty good about all of it and find myself exceptionally cheerful about all of this newness.

Last Saturday I went out with some of my family to Antelope Island for a pre half-marathon hike. I'm in training. Gotta rack up some mileage as I get ready for this chunker of a goal I have inadvertently and surprisingly set for myself.

We had a delightful time, talked, hiked, laughed, and looked at the extraordinary views. During the course of this new adventure I felt strong. I felt like my body was ready for some challenging, and I was excited and happy about the whole thing. I could feel health inside of me, and for a bazillion different reasons that hasn't been something that was overly present during the past decade plus a few, so like I said, it felt fantastic.

At the halfway mark we took a nice little break, drank some water, ate some oranges and a Caveman bar (way tasty little granola bar-type thing) and talked about beating our time back on the last half. Now I'm self-comptetitive so a goal like this is perfect for me, plus I had a feel for the terrain and thought I could definitely beat my time back. I became a woman with a mission and so my race was on.

During the course of my trek I eventually left my people behind me and with single mindedness I focused on my feet, and my legs, and my arms, and my breathing. I listened to the birds and the little scurrying creatures and my running shoes on the pebbles and the rocks and the dirt and I felt so free, so incredibly alive that I teared up a little and then achieved a level of physical and mental bliss that I had forgotten I knew, and so I pushed on harder and I began to jog. This is a really big deal. I haven't run in years, but I knew that I could do it, at least a little bit, and if I could do it a little bit today, I knew there was hope for tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and on into the horizon.

I was tentative at first, and then bulldog determined to make it to this boulder, then that boulder, and then to the top of the hill. I paused to drink some water, take off my stocking hat and my coat and stuff them into my backpack. I was so alive and hyper aware of my surroundings. I pushed on with my walk-jogging to see what I could do. In the back of my mind I was still questing to beat my time, but now it wasn't just about beating the time, it was about beating the time and meaning it.

All along my pathway I envisioned the half marathon that I've got coming up. I visualized myself finishing it, I visualized my run-walk, I thought about what comes after this, what kind of physical goals would I accomplish next? All of my thoughts and visualizations were focused on making all of these new, exciting dreams come true. I lost myself in hope, in potential, in the joy of getting my body back from harder times and challenging it to new heights. Lost in these thoughts I moved on and on closer to my goal.

As I approached the last leg of the trail I passed by an older gent who was runner-fit. He was tan with white hair and a big old white moustache and had on the kind of clothes that told you this was what he did for fun. I looked up as we passed and he smiled a huge welcoming smile and said a hearty "Hello" and I felt like he was encouraging me, and may have thought something along the lines of "Hey girl, you're doing all right. Keep up the good work. You can do this." I nodded, smiled, and said "Hello" back and continued on my way. I told myself "See, you can do hard things. Good job. You're almost there."

A scant number of minutes later I saw that there were three women coming down the trail my way. They were all fit and hiker-trendy. I saw them see me and suddenly I began to question myself and everything I was doing. Now, I'm a pretty confident woman. I like who I am. I treasure my life and what it has taken to become who I am. I'm not usually thrown by people who don't like me or aren't interested in me, but for some reason, I began to question myself.

I thought "Should I stop and put my coat back on? Maybe my shirt is too snug. Do I look too fat to be out? Are they judging me?" And as quick as I thought these things, I thought "STOP! These women don't matter to you one tiny bit! They are strangers." And I was disturbed and somewhat annoyed with myself, and with them for what they had almost imperceptibly made me feel and question. I told myself that I was being ridiculous and that they hadn't done anything and that I was imagining things.

I decided to test my theory.

The trail was narrow, but there was plenty of room to politely pass each other if they pulled in on their side and I kept to mine, and I'm a "Hello" kinda gal, it's what I do, so of course I would say "Hello" as we passed. 

We continued approaching each other. They were not inclined to share the trail and expected me to stand aside so they could walk three abreast. I refused. I wasn't about to be bullied off the trial by rude women and so I ended up walking between them as two went to one side and one to the other. As we passed each other I said "Hello" with a smile and got crickets in return. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I wasn't really upset by it, nor was I surprised by it, but I was disappointed and left curiously empty. Why do people pretend that others are less? Why do they act like someone is invisible? Where are the human courtesies and manners? I'm sure there are 8,000 different reasons why I may have experienced the lack of interaction that I did, but you get a feel for things, and even though I always give the positive benefit of the doubt, there are times where you cannot ignore the truth that you find even when it's a little sketchy and ugly around the edges.

In retrospect I'm really glad I ran into the older man first, and in the end I'm glad I ran into the rude women as well because it helps me to remember how easy it is to be brought low by things and people that don't matter one iota to the value of who you are. I thought about people that I know, and don't know, that perhaps do not have the confidence or love for who they are that I have for myself, and how this type of experience, where it affected me briefly, had the potential to steal initiative and thunder from someone less confident, secure or sure of themselves. It reminded me that other people cannot take your glory, your light and your value away from you unless you permit it first. I don't want to be that kind of person. I want to be someone who builds others up, it costs me nothing to have good manners, or to smile, or to say "Hello" and to mean it. It costs me nothing to encourage others in their dreams, their quests, their endeavors, their goals, their tasks, their trials and challenges, with my own positivity and enthusiasm.

We all have value. We are all equal. Each of us have our lives and all of the experiences, obstacles, trials, and learning that bring us to knowledge and wisdom if we so desire it. Life isn't just about the cherries, it's about the pits too, it's about learning to love others as they are, and to allow them to have the freedom to make their choices that direct their path. Be kind to one another, seek to be builders instead of destroyers, love one another, be charitable, forgiving and kind.

Good luck out in the big, bad my friends. Be well, peace be with you always. Go live your dreams and be exactly who you want to be. Shine on.

p.s. I beat my time by 16 minutes. Determined girl coming through! ;)

Don't Shrink Your Dreams

February 8th, 2014
Don't Shrink Your Dreams. Supersize Your Courage and Your Abilities--Karen Salmonsohn

Tracy Story

I did something courageous last night. I signed up for a half-marathon.

It may not seem courageous to some, but it was a big deal to me.

I use to be a pretty fit gal quite some time back, but without going into all my drama and the reasons of this and that, I'm not fit anymore. I started my path back to fitness a few years back and slowly but surely I have had good leaps and strides, and I have made some excellent progress, more than excellent, fantastic really. I still have a lot that I still want to do.

In the beginning of this year I laid out a set of physical fitness activities that I wanted to accomplish. I wrote down how many times I wanted to do these things during the course of one year. To give you an example, in addition to participating in a half marathon, one of my goals is that I want to snowshoe 3xs a month in Jan., Feb., and Mar., and possibly April if the snow holds. I didn't make it at all in January, but in February, I'm two down and one to go. It feels fantastic. I think I was riding on that high when I thought "What the heck? Why not?" and proverbially "drunk-dialed" the half-marathon website last night and signed up. I was ecstatic, elated, and filled with the power of "I CAN DO THIS!" I was planning out everything I needed to do. I went to bed knowing I could do this, I could make this dream. When I woke up this morning, and remembered what I had done, I wanted to throw up and I kinda freaked out a little bit. I thought "WHAT DID YOU DO???" "You can't do this?" "You're not ready for this!" "You. Are. An. Idiot." Not kind words to my usually happy little inner self and nothing near the excitement and joy of last night.

With some help from my husband I talked myself back off the ledge and have decided that "Yes. I can do this. I can do hard things. I can make a change." I am going to do more than dream and hope, I am going to take action. And so I let it be, and in the end of March I'm going to make my way several hours south of here with my sister and BIL, my mom, my brother and SIL, and I'm going to be a woman of action and I'm going to do something exciting and new, something that will build me and stretch me and give me experience. I am nervous (and a little scared) and I am excited.

I want to be a doer, not just a dreamer. I'm not ready for this, I am definitely not in prime racing order . . . at all. My purpose was in the taking a step towards something that is important to me, which is being a woman who does hard things because they are fun, a woman who braves the unknown and stares down fear of failure because she can and because the "doing" is the important part that will lead to more doing and more doing and more doing.

My goal is to go. My goal is to start. My goal is to go as far as I can and that will be the measure of my success. I hope to finish, but if I don't, the failure to finish will be a victory in the beginning of my path to becoming a woman who loves the outdoors and thrives in the use of her body.

I hope all of you have dreams and desires that are exciting to you and maybe even a little scary, or perhaps a lot scary. Don't wait to start. Be courageous. Begin now. I am with you.