My Choice

I would like to thank all those who took time to comment on my last post regarding their most prized material possession.  It wasn’t surprising that for the most part photographs seemed to be a common choice due to the inability to replace them.  I said in that post that I was still trying to decide what one item I would choose.  I thought of four important items.

1)  Photographs of my children.

2) The afghans I have crocheted for my future grandchildren (all bagged together in one place).

3) The afghan my now deceased grandmother crocheted for me.

4) My Book of Mormon collection.

I realize that I could eliminate number 1 by storing my photographs in a “cloud” so that they could be recovered from any computer.  Some of you had the same type of idea with your USB sticks, so that leaves me with three very difficult choices.  I put many hours into the crocheted afghans, but I guess I could always do that again if necessary.  My Book of Mormon collection is very valuable for more than one reason, but more valuable than that would be my Grandma Russell and my memory of always seeing her crocheting or knitting.  Therefore, I would choose the afghan that my maternal grandmother crocheted for me.  Someday, I will write of my memories of her and why that afghan has even more significance than you might think.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

One for the Road

First and foremost, for those of you who read my last post, I have to admit that I almost took cuts yesterday.  Of course, it was in a small group of people, mostly family, and the person who I almost “cut” was my father.  All of a sudden I remembered my promise and decided that I would let him go first.  I am still good with my promise and hopefully will remain so.

Now, this is a more participative blog; I really want your comments on this one.  As I have observed the devastation of natural disasters or other types of destruction of homes, I have wondered, “If I had just a few seconds to grab something in my house to take with me and everything else would be destroyed, what would I take?”  Now in this context I realize that human life is most important.  Making sure our family and perhaps pets are safe would be our first concern, and rightly so.  But, for this project, we will assume that all those you love are safe and protected and also that you are not in need of choosing  anything to sustain life, such as food or water.   We will also exclude legal documents such as birth certificates, deeds to houses, and so forth.  This is just simply an exercise to decide what material possession is most important to you and why.

For now, I’m going to withhold my decision.  In fact, I would like a little more time to think about it, but I am very interested in what material possessions people value most.  So, have fun with this and please take time to respond.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

Taking “Cuts” and Other Important Lessons

Just yesterday, when my now 18-year-old son was in second grade, (no, he was not held back 10 times, it is just that it seems as if it were only yesterday) my husband and I attended his school’s beginning of the year open house.  After the general assembly, we like other parents, had the opportunity to take just a few minutes to talk with his teacher, Mr. Day, to find out how he was doing.  We were pleased with the feedback Mr. Day gave us regarding his academic performance and his behavior in class, but we were very surprised when he reluctantly told us that there was one problem.  He told us that just that day he had received a telephone call from another mother to inform him that there had been an incident on the playground wherein Dallin had bullied her son.  He did not know the details of the incident, but felt that we needed to be aware of the problem.  We were very surprised and concerned to say the least; it just did not sound like our Dallin.  Mr. Day agreed with us about the inconsistency of the story with respect to what we all knew about Dallin’s character, but nevertheless, I assured him that I would go home and discuss the issue with our son.

Upon arriving home, I called Dallin in to sit by me on the couch and we began to discuss the incident of that day.  He, being a very sensitive child, held his head down as his lip began to quiver.  He began to tell me how he had been standing in line and he and another boy kept “cutting” one another.  Although I definitely am an advocate of staying in one’s place in line, I was quite surprised that a mother would have been so upset about this incident that she would take the time to call a teacher.  Nevertheless, I felt that it would be a great teaching moment for my son and an opportunity for me to share with him what personal characteristic I value most in life.

We had a very tender and serious conversation about the attributes that I consider to be of great value.  I knew that he was already aware of many of these.  We talked about honesty, work ethic, education, honoring parents, using clean language, and many other important qualities.  I emphasized the great importance that I placed on each of these characteristics, but, I said to him, if you can do all of these things yet do not treat people with kindness, you have failed in life.  In other words, I value people more than anything else in this world and I think the most important characteristic we can possess in this life is that of kindness to our fellowman.  Although I did not express disappointment in him nor did he receive any punishment, I remember his eyes welling up with tears and I felt satisfaction, not because I had caused him to cry, but rather because I felt I had used this experience as a great teaching moment.

Two days later, I got a call from none other than Mr. Day.  Of course, a parents first thought is, “Oh no!  Now what!”  I was greatly surprised when Mr. Day became very apologetic.  He related that he had just got off the phone with that other mother.  He told her that he had talked to Dallin’s parents and that we were addressing the situation.  He continued to tell me how the mother was stunned.  She responded by telling him that it was not Dallin who had bullied her son, but rather so and so.  I do not remember the name and it does not matter anyway; I did not know the boy so certainly you would not.  Mr. Day felt terrible and hoped that Dallin was not punished for the mistaken identity.  I was greatly relieved that I had handled the situation in the way that I had and that I had not gotten angry nor punished Dallin.  I actually laughed at the incident because I imagined Dallin now thinking that taking cuts in line is one of the most terrible things we can do to another person.

The reason I share this story is twofold.  First, because I do consider the way we treat other human beings as being the most important aspect of our character.  One can be “religious” as were the Scribes and Pharisees of New Testament times whom Jesus told, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23).  Yet, with our human egos we can become either self-righteous or simply feel we are better than others for a variety of reasons–success, money, fame, intellect, talents, etc. and as our ego expands, it is evident in the way we treat one another.  We can be fooled into thinking that we are the sun, you know, that the world revolves around us.

We have all witnessed a lack of kindness in our world, whether as the recipient of such acts or perhaps even at times as the perpetrator.  None of us are perfect and we all have been pushed to levels of fatigue and stress that often affect our moods, but hopefully these are by far the exception and not the rule.  I am more concerned with our attitudes toward one another.  Do we really see others as our equal or somehow do we have some advantage in life that makes it acceptable for us to treat others as less than human beings?  Are our needs more important than their needs?  Is our time worth more than theirs?  And, perhaps the most difficult question to answer, are our children more important than someone else’s?

Our unkindness shows up in a variety of ways.  Currently one of the more visible ways is that shown through political intolerance.  Our country is so divided on so many issues that we simply cannot seem to get along and we think our political beliefs justify name calling and berating.  After all, does not the end justify the means?  The sad part about all of this, is that when we see a child bullying another child on the playground or as in today’s world when we hear of cyber-bullying, we are greatly dismayed.  Yet, how can we expect more from our children than we do of ourselves?  Is it really too much for us to recognize that just because one doesn’t think like we do that they are still of value and perhaps their ideas are also of worth?  I have my own political beliefs, and they often are in opposition to the beliefs of those around me, yet, I try to take the time to understand their position–and I do understand their position most of the time even if I do not embrace it as my own.  I do not believe that I am very often given that same benefit.  It has been disheartening and even hurtful at times.  I yearn for a country and even a world wherein even in disagreement we can value one another as human beings.

The lack of kindness can be witnessed in a multiplicity of ways.  We see it in road rage, while shopping, looking for a parking spot, or promoting one’s own child over another because after all, our child is more important.  I suppose I am a dreamer.  I dream of living in a world of kindness.  I was once told that my expectations are too high and I guess it is true.  After all, we are all just human and we come with our human frailties.  But, I guess I want to believe in a world where people treat one another with respect and goodness.

Now, I said that my reason for addressing this issue was twofold.  Perhaps my second reason is even more important than the first.  I do not remember every time I have been unkind; there were probably times that I did not even recognize that I had been such, but certainly from my childhood until this present day there have been many such times.  That unkindness may have been due to the stress and fatigue I was feeling.  Perhaps at times it was due to my own pride.  I am sure there were times that I may have said something that one took personally because of their present trials and challenges of which I was unaware.  It would be impossible for me to know every person that I have hurt or offended in some way.  Yet, if I could, I would go to each one personally and beg them for forgiveness.  My heart breaks at the thought of having caused another individual pain.  I would gladly take that pain upon myself if possible.  I have come to know the truth of the words, “Remember the worth of a soul is great in the sight of God.” (D&C 18:10)  Each individual should be great in our sight as well.  I will continue to strive throughout my life to be kind, but I know there will be times when I will fall short of that ideal.  I hope it is not often and I hope that when I do it is not too hurtful to the other person or persons involved.  But, here and now I will make each one of you one important promise; I will never take “cuts”.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

Another Look

Now, it was not my intention to post another blog today, as I am trying desperately to finish a take home test for Complex Analysis as well as other mass homework that my professors gave me to make sure I didn’t get bored during Spring Break.  Never mind that March Madness begins this week; my professors were flying to Sri Lanka and China respectively to spend time with their families, which I guess is understandable since we have to import professors to teach math in our country.  Evidently they do not have as much interest in basketball despite the fact that UNLV plays tonight in the “Madness” that this family loves.  However, I received a comment on my last blog from none other than that handsome husband of mine reprimanding me for my last post.  Apparently after being married to him for 28 years, he still doesn’t get my sense of humor, but who can blame him, there are not many people who do.  I’ll talk about that on another post.

Well, it appears that he did not like my self-deprecating comments on my blog (see his comment under “A Brief History of My Life”). So, as a matter of not perpetuating that self-deprecation any further, I’m going to tell you that I really am the most wonderful person in the world.  I am sure they will have to sell tickets to my funeral so you might want to consider preordering.  Certainly my full autobiography will be available to all who attend.  In fact, I will have it published and will spend the next twenty years of my life autographing each copy.  If you let me know in advance that you plan on attending, I will even personalize it for you.  In fact, if you just want to say something nice about me now instead of waiting for me to die, I will even include your comment in my book along with the attribution of proper credit.

This all, of course, is determinant upon you all outliving me.  You see, I am kind of like a cockroach and I very well could outlive every creature on earth.  Therefore, I am going to make a one time offer of purchasing my autobiography prior to my funeral.  If it serves no better purpose, it could possibly be a good sleep remedy, but then again it could keep you on pins and needles.

Now in all seriousness, I want you to know that I really have written a personal history, however, it is only updated to 1993.  I have committed myself to updating it as soon as I graduate from school.  That will cover an additional 18 year period.  It is amazing that it has been that long and how much has happened in the interim.  I look forward to the opportunity to bring it up to date because I remember that writing about the first 30 years of my life (yes I know I gave away my age) was an extraordinary experience.  That is not to say that I am an extraordinary person, but only that it is a very wonderful and humbling experience to reminisce on one’s life and to understand the positive role that so many have had on me becoming who I am.  And, to each of you who have played a positive role, I give my utmost thanks.  It is also refreshing to realize the many blessings that I have had and to recognize that even the hardships were ultimately character building.

So, my challenge to each of you, if you haven’t already done so, is to write a personal history.   When I originally wrote mine, I felt that I was doing so for my future posterity.  In the process, I found out that it was my life that was blessed.  I am grateful for that opportunity and consider it to be one of the best experiences of my life.

As I think of all those histories to be written, I am reminded of a poem that I love and am sure that is familiar to many of you.  It is called “The Dash”.  I do not include it here because of my respect for copyright laws, but I do include the hyperlink.  If you haven’t heard it, or if you would like to reread it, I know you will love it as much as I do.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

A Brief History of My Life

Last night I had a quite lengthy discussion with two very special friends from my past on Facebook.  We started to talk about Personal Histories, so I decided to share my brief history here with you.

I was born April 28, 1963 to Frank and Cynthia Larson.  For several years things went on in my daily life of which no one in particular would be very interested.  I suppose I’ll have more similar days in the future and then I will die.  Hopefully someone will care enough to attend my funeral and find at least one nice thing to say about me.  If not, who could blame them.

This is the brief history of my life.  Perhaps yours is similar.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

United In A World Gone Mad

Most who know me very well understand my love for the  ’90’s TV show “The Nanny”.  There were several recurring themes throughout the series.  There is no doubt that any Nanny fan would know of Fran’s idolization of Barbara Streisand or Max’s arch-nemesis, Andrew Lloyd Weber.  We know that Max’s biggest regret was his passing on “Cats” and our favorite season 4 theme was Niles obsession of finding out the meaning behind “The Thing”. One particular phrase that Fran often repeated was that of “It’s a world gone mad!”–a phrase said in humor but today seems more as if it were prophetic.

I don’t think that any of us can turn on the television and see the devastation in Japan without echoing that phrase of Fran Fine’s.  The images transmitted by the news media are overwhelmingly terrifying.  Seeing car’s sitting atop the rooftops of houses seem like something a child might do at play, but the other images of destruction remind us, to be sure, that this was no child’s game.  As frightening as the destruction is, perhaps the individual stories coming out of Japan tug even more at our heart strings .  We hear of a mother who was separated from her daughter when they were both swept away by the water; she now doesn’t know where her daughter is, or whether or not she is even still alive.  We see grown men sob for the loss of loved ones.  We see the shock that remains on the faces of people wandering aimlessly not knowing where to go.  And perhaps the hardest thing for us to endure is the pain we see in a child’s eyes who has lost his parents.

It is not uncommon for one to ask in the midst of such anguish, “Where was God?  Why did he let this happen?”  It is a valid question and perhaps understandable why one might doubt that there even is a loving God.  After all, the current Japanese tragedy is only one of hundreds we have seen in recent years.  True, it is a wide-scale tragedy, but there are personal tragedies everyday.  Why, if there really is a God, would He allow such devastation?

Certainly I am in no position to speak for God, but I, knowing the reality of His existence and that He loves His children, have at times asked myself this same question.  I look at the world and see how divisive we have become, how we each have our own ideas of what the world should be.  We often are so intolerant of one another; we fight and argue over everything from global warming to health-care reform.  We have even been known to go so far in our disputes to need police intervention for something so unimportant as a child’s T-ball game.  Is it any wonder then, that God needs to remind us at times of what is really important? Do we need to be reminded of our similarities in order to see past our differences?

For instance, I think most of us shudder at poverty.  We, as in the wake of Japan’s recent tragedy, ache at the furry mother nature so uncompassionately  strews upon an unexpecting people.  Our hearts are broken when we see a young mother ripped from her children by death, or when a young child is torn from the bosom of her mother in like manner.  We are traumatized by the thought of a little child being harmed by another “human being”.  We agonize over the plight of a suppressed and abused people, and we lament the tragedies of war and its accompanying heartache.  Yet, it is in the midst of all of these tragedies and heartache that we seem to be able to unite as a human race and hope, together, for a better world.

Perhaps God allows these things to happen to remind us of our commonality, that we are all part of the human race, brothers and sisters sharing this earth He has given us to live out our years of mortality.  It is in tragedy and heartache that we become one, that we unite in our desire to help carry the burdens heaped upon our fellowmen.  We feel that innate longing placed within our bosom which reminds us that we are indeed our brother’s keeper.  We desire to do something to help, but somehow know that any individual effort on our part is futile.  We understand that it takes a uniting of a people once divided.  We may look downward for a moment at the devastation that surrounds us, but understand that it is time to now look upward and unite in prayer for this world gone mad.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]