Friday, June 22, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: A Quick Stream of Consciousness Edition

I was going to spend the evening thoughtfully composing this post, but had a last-minute change of plans. I'll be headed to CA tomorrow bright and early to spend some time with my daughter and her children, so this post is going to be quick (at least in theory).

I'm thankful:

1. That we spotted the rattlesnake in our backyard. (Of course, it would have been better if he hadn't been there, but if he was going to show up, I'm glad we noticed him.)

Photo: A rattlesnake curls up in the green grass

2. That John was able to successfully dispose of the snake. 

3. For cute baby quail (which are a whole lot more enjoyable to see than a rattlesnake--and a whole lot harder to photograph!)

4. That at least one room in our new house is completely unpacked and decorated. 

Photo: A bathroom with a Mickey Mouse theme. A Mickey Mouse poster is on the wall, Mickey Mouse towels hang on the rack, and Mickey Mouse shower curtain hooks hold a white ruffled shower curtain.
5. For home and garden tours. John and I got to tour a couple of historic homes recently, then on another evening, toured some gardens in another nearby town. I particularly enjoyed talking to the gardeners and gathering information about what grows well here. (Several of the yards had raspberries!!!!)

6. For planter boxes that fit my porch.

7. For fuchsias.

Photo: White planter boxes filled with fuchsia plants line the rail of my porch.
8.  For the flexibility I have to go help my daughter and see my grandchildren.

9. For good deals found online.

10. For John. 

What are you thankful for this week? Feel free to link up your own post!

I just realized that the link up is not displaying properly on my blog. Unfortunately, I do not have time to figure out what the problem is right now, as I really need to start my drive to California. Please click on the link to be redirected to the link-up on the Ten Things of Thankful blog. (And if any of you have a solution for me, please let me know!) Thanks for your patience with me as I learn the ropes of blog hop hosting!

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: It's the Little Things Edition

As Josie Two Shoes announced on the Ten Things of Thankful blog this week, she is going to be stepping down from hosting the blog hop. She has done a great job, and though I cannot fill her shoes, I did agree to do my best to keep our blog hop hoppin'. 

I recognize the power of gratitude. I named my blog, Thankful Me, to brand myself as a thankful person. Then Lizzi started the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop, and soon had gathered a vibrant community of others who expressed gratitude--even during challenging times. The internet brought together a diverse group of people from all over the world who found common ground through the power of gratitude. The simple act of expressing what we were thankful for brought strength to us individually, and connected us as a community. I believe strongly in the benefit of this blog hop, and knew I had to volunteer when Josie Two Shoes announced she needed to step down. 

This week, as I've thought about the importance of this blog hop, I've thought not just on the "thankful" part, but also on the "things." Little things can make a big difference. 

1. I'm thankful for how the simple act of deciding to write about what I am thankful for changes my perspective and makes me more aware throughout the week of grateful moments.

I'm thankful that progress doesn't always require Herculean effort, but that small things develop into larger things:

2. I'm thankful that seeds grow into plants. As I weeded the garden boxes in my new house, I discovered some volunteer sunflowers, onions, and parsley. Though I didn't plant them, they grew anyway. 

3. I'm thankful that small steps form habits. The change in perspective mentioned in #1, practiced over and over through the weeks, months, and years, has resulted in a change of person. Looking for things I am thankful for has become second nature. (Don't misunderstand, I still have moments of complaints, but I'm less likely to be overwhelmed by them now.)

4. I'm thankful that small steps develop into longer runs. In high school, my dad and I ran a race or two together, but I wasn't what you would call a runner. I still struggle to consider myself a runner. I don't have the sleek, gazelle-like look of "serious" runners, nor the speed of those in front of me. However, I have learned over the past few years that I can run farther than I realized. Day after day, putting one step in front of the other, my cardiovascular system has adapted, my legs have become stronger, and I have successfully run 2 half-marathons, and multiple 10K and 5 K races. I am amazed at myself. Small steps count.

5. Similarly, I'm thankful that small increases in pace develop into a new normal. I've started increasing my running pace, ever so slightly, with the hope (and belief) that gradual increases will result in a better time on my next run. I don't think I'll ever be actually fast, but I also think my body is capable of running faster than I do currently. 

6. I'm thankful for clean dishes, clean laundry, and a clean-enough house. When I take time to think about what a benefit those things are to me and my family, I'm less likely to begrudge those tasks. Small things that make a difference aren't really small things now, are they?

7. I'm thankful for a small world. Sometimes, the world becomes smaller thanks to the internet, such as with the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop. Sometimes the world shrinks because two people are in the same place at the same time. Such was the case on Sunday. While John and I were in the Family History Center (we are family history consultants in our ward), a young woman came in and asked for some help. When I sat down at the computer with her, I immediately recognized some of the names on her pedigree chart. I asked, "Where are those people from?" When she said, "Oregon," (as I knew she would), I told her that her dad and I were in the same branch (a church congregation smaller than a ward) when we were in high school. Her mom, though not in my branch, had been in a nearby ward. Small world!

8. I'm thankful for how meaningful small interactions can be. This week, I received a text from a friend saying she and her family were in Utah, asking if they could stop by for a visit. Of course I agreed, and it was so good to catch up! Friendships are built day by day, interaction by interaction, step by step. Moving requires one to make new friends--which counts as the next thing of thankful--but it is lovely to see friends whose friendship's foundation is old and firm. 

9. I'm thankful for new friendships, that develop as old friendships do, step by step. This morning I went out for breakfast with a couple of women from my ward. Though we have only known each other for less than a year, we have learned from one another and supported each other. We've had different experiences in life, yet have found commonalities. As we've taken the time to get to know each other, we've become friends. 

10. I'm thankful for small habits that have contributed to a strong marriage. Though circumstances may change, and routines sometimes get thrown off for one reason or another, we have found that the more consistent we are with the following, the closer we are to each other and the more joy we have: prayer, scripture study, church and temple attendance, eating meals together, family home evening, and weekly date night. 

One nice thing about small things is that they are small. On the one hand, they aren't difficult. One the other hand, one missed thing every now and then isn't the end of the world. Instead of beating myself up because I missed doing the dishes right away, for example, I can simply do them now and move on. That works with other things, as well. The power of small things is magnified as those small things accumulate. When I notice that my life seems unbalanced, correction occurs through small steps. 

What small things are important to you? As always, I invite you to join the Ten Things of Thankful and experience the power of sharing your gratitude. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: Vacation Slideshow Edition!

Back in the old days, before some of you were born, people used film in their cameras; digital photography hadn't been invented yet. Sometimes that film was developed into slides rather than photos, and friends and family would gather together to watch a slideshow of their vacation. 

I thought I'd take the slideshow approach to this week's Ten Things of Thankful post, but while I get the slides loaded into the projector, let me set the stage. Feel free to pop some popcorn and find a comfy spot on the sofa while I give the background.  On May 25, my oldest daughter carried a suitcase with her to her final exam of law school. As soon as she finished her test, she flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City. We met her at the airport, slept for a few hours in the house we are moving into, then returned to the airport and flew to Orlando. We spent the next week at Disney World, then hopped back on a plane bound for Seattle. The next day, John and I (along with some other family members and friends) watched our daughter graduate from law school. John and I stayed in Seattle for a couple of days, then flew back to Utah. Oldest daughter now has her nose in books as she prepares to take the bar exam, and John and I are settling back into our regular life.

OK, I think I've loaded the slides upside-down and backwards into the carousel, so the images should display correctly. Could someone dim the lights? Great! Let's begin:

One of the things that our oldest daughter loves to do at Disney parks is to interact with the characters, so we made a point to meet as many as we could. One of the first we met was Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. She set the stage for a magical vacation! She greeted each person with genuine care and concern. After my daughter asked her if she could cast a spell to help her pass the bar exam, the Fairy Godmother took a little piece of paper and a pen out of one of her sleeves and jotted down my daughter's name and request. She explained that she would put her in her prayers. My daughter said 
that the Fairy Godmother's sleeve was full of little papers. The Fairy Godmother's sincerity endeared us to her. After we returned home, I stumbled across an article that showed me that I'm not the first one to witness her caring manner. I'm thankful for nice people, who go above and beyond.
Photo: Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, dressed in a sky blue hooded robe with a pink bow at the neck, and my oldest daughter stand near the castle wall

Now, of course, not all Disney characters are so sweet. No matter; memorable encounters occur with others, too. When my daughter pointed up toward the sky when posing with Peter Pan, he said, "What are you doing? You look like a dork!" He then demonstrated the proper way to fly. We laughed about that for quite some time. 

Photo: Peter Pan instructs my daughter on how to fly: arms out like an airplane, back foot lifted.
Our daughter is not one to let her heart rule her head, so this next photo also makes me laugh. The villain Gaston is not her type at all!

Photo: Gaston shows off his muscles while oldest daughter looks up and swoons.
I'm thankful for those who obviously enjoy their jobs.

We didn't just meet characters; we took time to ride the rides as well. Some of the attractions have cameras set up to capture action shots. A couple of the photos made us laugh.

Photo: A vehicle traveling through the Dinosaur ride. On the back row, oldest daughter, John, and I look less than enthralled. On the middle row, three women smile, while one of them covers her daughter's eyes. On the first row, a man throws his arms across his sons, as if to protect them from the animatronic dinosaurs.
Photo: John, oldest daughter, and I ride in the back seat of a blue car on the Test Track ride, while in the front row, a man sitting in front of John wears a blue plaid shirt that is nearly identical to John's. 
I'm thankful for humorous moments.

Speaking of humorous moments, we witnessed another one while at Animal Kingdom. Let's let the slide projector rest for a moment while we watch this video I captured of two young gorillas with their dad.

In the video, one of the young gorillas saunters up to his dad. The older gorilla has his back turned. His son gives him a quick shove, then quickly retreats. The dad ignores him. 

I guess children of many species challenge their parents every now and then.

I'm thankful for animals, children, and their self-development.

OK, I think the projector is ready to go again. Our week at Disney World was great, and we enjoyed being able to spend time with our daughter.

Photo: Our daughter smiles as John and I stand on either side of her and kiss her cheeks.
I'm thankful for oldest daughter.

Fun though Disney World was, we needed to head back to Seattle for this moment:

Photo: Oldest daughter walks across the stage and shakes hands with a law school administrator. (Photo compliments of my brother.)

I'm thankful for our daughter's determination and hard work.

I'm also thankful for my brother's photography skills, which were much better than mine for this occasion. 

(Photo shows my daughter seemingly walking right into the law school administrator.)

One son lives in Seattle, and the other son came up for the graduation, so we enjoyed being able to spend time with three of our children. We visited Chihuly Garden and Glass  and were amazed at the beautiful glass creations. 

Photo: light shines down through a glass ceiling of colorful glass bowls, spheres, and other objects to create aqua and purple light patterns on the walls. 

Photo: Large red, orange, and yellow glass flowers hang from the glass ceiling of a sunroom at Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Photo: A glass sphere in the garden reflects the Space Needle and us taking a photo.

I'm thankful for the talents of a master craftsman, and the opportunity to view his beautiful glass artwork.

No trip to Seattle would be complete without visiting the waterfront. Not to be content with just one lake, we stopped at Union Lake, Lake Washington, and Green Lake. 

Photo: John, I, our boys, and oldest daughter smile for the camera at Lake Washington. (Thanks to daughter's friend for the photo!)

I'm thankful for the opportunity to see so many of my children at once. 

Our time in Seattle was short, which is probably for the best because every time we are there, we get the urge to buy a house and relocate. (The housing market is a great deterrent now, though!) Soon John and I were on our way home. Mt. Rainier was out (that isn't always the case; it's often under cloud cover) and I snuck a photo from the plane.

I'm thankful for John and all the adventures we've had over the years.

Photo: John and I stand in the Pandora area of Animal Kingdom.

Thanks for humoring me with this vacation slideshow. I fear a little bit that my posts of a great vacation could paint a picture that is all-rosy. I did not throw in photos of blistered feet and torrential rain. I do not write of many of the struggles that are chronic but are not mine to share. I put worries on the back burner and enjoyed the moment. 

Writing a Ten Things of Thankful post does not mean that one is unfamiliar with trials; it is a chance to keep those challenges from becoming too overwhelming. Whether one is on vacation, in the middle of a big move (or both!), or simply in a humdrum routine, there is much to be thankful for. 

I'd love to see your own slideshow or written Ten Things of Thankful post! Feel free to join us!

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: #LanternFestival and Other Beautiful Things Edition

Today I feel like a young child, eager for Show and Tell to start, bursting with impatience for my turn to display my item and tell you all about it. I missed participating in the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop last week, and anticipate missing a few in the upcoming weeks, which means, if we were actually in an elementary school classroom, I would now be the child sitting on the edge of my seat, furiously waving my arm in the air and shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!"

You see, even on weeks when I am absent, I'm still thankful. Even when I don't blog frequently, I still think about what I would share if I did sit down and write. I have posts percolating in my brain, and one of these days, I will once again be a more productive writer and reader of blogs. In the meantime, I'm thankful for my turn to reflect on recent weeks and share with you the beauty I've observed.

1. I'm thankful that decades ago, the previous owners of the house we are renting planted a wisteria vine. I have really enjoyed this massive plant and its gorgeous, fragrant blossoms. 

Photo: Purple wisteria blossoms cascade down through the slats of the wooden patio cover
Photo: A thick wisteria trunk is wrapped around a support pole of the patio roof, and the wisteria vines climb to the very top of an evergreen tree that towers above the house. The evergreen tree is covered in purple wisteria blossoms.
2. I'm thankful that the house we bought (and will be settling into in the next couple of months!) also had previous owners who took the time to plant flowers. I enjoy the discovery of seeing the various varieties bloom. 

Photo: A bed of bearded irises. Each flower displays shades of purple, yellow, and white. 
3. I'm thankful for good-hearted people. My neighbor who lived across the street from us when we lived in our previous house called me recently. She asked if she could give my current address to the new owners of our past home, as they had received some of our mail and wanted to make sure we got it. I told her yes, but soon forgot about the conversation. 

A few days ago, the doorbell rang, and when I answered it, a man introduced himself and said he had some mail for John. I thanked him, took the envelopes, shut the door, and belatedly processed what he had just said. He was the man who bought our house in California, and he showed up on our doorstep in Utah to deliver our mail?! I quickly opened the door, but he had already left. I called my neighbor and explained what had just happened, so she could apologize for my matter-of-fact "thanks" and offer a more heartfelt "thanks" on our behalf. Apparently he happened to have a business trip here, and decided to just bring us the mail. When I gave the OK to give him our address, I fully expected the mail would be put in a big envelope and delivered by the US Postal Service, not hand-delivered by the man who bought our home!

4. I'm thankful that this over-a-year-long-process of moving is nearing an end. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad we've had the luxury of taking our time. We've enjoyed being able to live in this rental house while making renovations to our new house, and there are certainly advantages to being able to do a move little-by-little. I am, however, realizing that soon we will be living in a house with no plans to move again anytime soon. The next time we move, we might be old and physically incapable of actually doing the heavy lifting. (In other words, this might be the last time John and I have to lug heavy furniture up the stairs!)

5. I'm thankful that we are strong and healthy. Yesterday, we were not only able to move a bed upstairs, the two of us managed to move John's three big, heavy, awkward bookcases upstairs to his office. Where there's a will, there's a way. 

Photo: John, dutifully posing with his best "He Man" pose in front of the bookcases in his office
Photo: The angled staircase that we managed to bring the bookcases up
6. I'm thankful for whimsical, touching art. While John and I were walking around town the other day, we stumbled across this sculpture which appeared to be holding up the flagpole. 

Photo: Metal pieces form the shape of a man who is gripping a flagpole and looking up. His head is made of a light, similar to the Pixar light.
Photo: The same sculpture as above, but the entire flagpole is visible in this shot. The sun is directly behind the top of the flag.
7.  I'm thankful for the chance John and I had to attend a lanternfest last night. I stumbled across tickets on Groupon a couple of months ago and thought the event sounded interesting. It was absolutely beautiful! If you ever get a chance to attend one, I would highly recommend it--and check Groupon to look for discounted tickets. In the meantime, let me recap the evening for you in photos and video.

8. I'm thankful the earlier-predicted thunderstorms stayed at bay, and with the exception of a few clouds, the night was clear and the event could go on.

Photo: Big, puffy clouds hang over the mountains. A concrete fence is in the foreground. (I took the photo while riding in the car on the way to the lanternfest.)
9. I'm thankful for interesting sights on the way there, and awe-inspiring sights at the event itself. 

Photo: A tall van, with a painting of the Utah Jazz logo and a bear on the back doors, drives up the freeway. I couldn't see if the mascot was inside or not.
Photo: A view of the Great Salt Lake, as taken from the car on the way to the lanternfest.
When we arrived at the event, we joined with thousands of other festival-goers. Before it got dark, we staked out a spot around a fire pit, decorated our lanterns, visited food booths, roasted marshmallows and made some s'mores. 

Photo: John and I take a selfie, with thousands of other festival attendees in the background.

Photo: John decorates his lantern by writing "John" on one side, and "Kristi" on the other.

(I'm just now having a problem with photo captioning. Whenever I try to add a caption, my photo ends up being relocated somewhere else on my page. I'm going to try to work-around, by captioning in the text, not by adding a caption to my photo. Kerry, please let me know if you are still able to make sense of my photos, in case this is a long-lasting problem.)

Once it got dark, the magic began! Everyone lighted their lanterns, and the glowing paper hot air balloons slowly ascended into the night.

Photo: John's lantern--I know it's his because his name is clearly marked on it--floats into the night sky.

Photo: The black sky is illuminated with glowing lanterns.

10. I'm thankful for John, and the wonderful times we spend together.

Photo: John and I take a selfie at the LanternFest, as glowing lanterns dot the night sky behind us.
What beautiful things have you noticed lately? What are you thankful for this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link up your own post!

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: A Son, A Sister, and a Half-Marathon Edition

With a rare exception here and there, every week I join with other bloggers to participate in an exercise in thankfulness. By reflecting on what we are grateful for, we don't ignore challenges we might be facing, but the difficulties of life are put in their proper perspective. We welcome new participants! Feel free to visit the Ten Things of Thankful blog and join us. 

Remember my last post, when I said that John and I are empty-nesters now? Well, that doesn't mean we are actually lonely! This past week, we had the good fortune to spend time with our youngest son, as well as my sister and some of her family.

Join me for a re-cap, and look for the implied gratitude: 

Youngest son came and stayed with us for most of last week. He drove from Washington state for the wedding of a friend, but he had time for us, too. We visited Moon's Rare Books and actually got to hold a little book that belonged to George Washington! We went to BYU's Museum of Art to see the M.C. Escher exhibit and the Tiffany glass display. We went to the house we are moving into so our son could see all the projects that have been completed since last December. We hiked the trails behind the house and enjoyed terrific views. We watched the latest Avengers movie. We discovered a yummy sushi restaurant. We played games, laughed, and talked until midnight. 

Photo: John and red-headed (and red-bearded) son stand on either side of me as we take a selfie from a mountainous trail. Utah Valley and Utah Lake are behind us in the distance.
Photo: The view of Utah Valley and Utah Lake from the Grove Creek Trail. On either side of the photo in the foreground, rocky mountains with shrubby vegetation taper to the middle of the photo in a "v" shape, forming the canyon.
My sister, her husband, and their youngest child came to Utah for their oldest child's college graduation. Though their trip was short, and they had other family members and friends to see, we were able to squeeze in a dinner with them. As we did last time she visited, we were so busy talking that we forgot to snap a photo, but I promise, the visit happened!

The weather this past week was all over the place. We had a dusting of snow on Monday, but Tuesday was warmer, sunny and beautiful. Wednesday it poured rain. The rest of the week dried up, and warmed up during the daytime.

Photo: Two photos of the same scene: a round patio table and four purple chairs sit in a backyard. The yard blends into the shrubby brush of the mountain behind the yard. The photo on the left almost appears to be in black and white, due to a dusting of snow, with the purple of the chairs and some brown dirt the only color. The photo of the right shows no snow, a bright blue sky, green grass and sage green shrubs, as well as the purple chairs.
Saturday morning, John and I woke up before dawn, so we could run the Provo City Half Marathon. We parked in downtown Provo, then took one of the race buses to a campground up the canyon, where the starting line was located. The air was quite nippy, but the race organizers had built fires in the campground fire pits, and racers huddled closely around the fires as we waited for the 7:00 start time to come. When the gun went off, we were ready, and we enjoyed a pleasant, mostly downhill run. This was our second half-marathon. Although I enjoyed it, and will probably run more half-marathons in the future, I don't have any desire to run a full marathon. John, on the other hand, came home and promptly signed up for a marathon. I'm content to just cheer him on for that race. 

Photo: John and I stand in front of a backdrop after finishing our half-marathon. We have our finisher medals around our necks, and I'm holding a sign that says, "I can't wait to BLOG about this #Run13 #MakingItHappen" (There were several signs to choose from, and when I saw that one, I knew I needed to hold it!)
Though I didn't actually "count my many blessing" nor "name them one by one", I am filled with a feeling of gratitude, and am sure that there were at least 10 things in this week's post. 

What are you thankful for this week?

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