Seattle Days and My Side of the Street

Yesterday was a Seattle Day in Northern Arizona -a steady drizzle that confused us all. In Northern Arizona, we are used to cracked, dry hands and lips and hair. We’re used to crashing, flashing monsoons that sweep in as fast as they sweep out.
Calm, steady rain isn’t something the desert is used to.

I fell asleep Thursday night to the sound of softly falling rain -it was right out of the pages of a novel. Providing, of course, that the heroine of said novel was in the habit of falling asleep the lying LONG WISE across the short side of the bed because there were boxes on the long end of the bed that she’s always too tired to move… I curled up in a endless nest of pillows and blankets and listened to the rain in peace for 3 whole minutes before having to get up and go to the bathroom. So maybe my life isn’t as novel outright as it is in my own head?

I woke up to rain falling, and tracked my package on Amazon, just as I’d done every 30 minutes the day before.
Friday morning finally delivered the good news: my package was in town.

I’m mildly suspicious that I buy stuff from Amazon solely because I want presents in the mail. And now Amazon has those precious “add-on” items that mimic the treasures in actual check-out lines.
OF COURSE I need chapstick and a lint roller and batteries and a package of 4″ plush monsters! Thank goodness I saw these or I would have forgotten!

But this package was different. It wasn’t full of anything I thought I needed in order to live. Instead, it was full of things I simply WANTED.

For the first half of my marriage, I could feel this brilliant sort of… I don’t know, potential. I could FEEL it. I couldn’t put my finger quite on what it was, and the most maddening thing about it was that I couldn’t GET TO IT. There was some kind of invisible, impenetrable barrier keeping me from accessing something I KNEW was there.
I could feel it was a good thing.
I could feel that I wanted it.

But for the life of me, I could not have it.

My husband and I complement each other really well. He adds numbers and I write words. He organizes my drawers and I make him laugh. If I were to commission a painting of us, it would depict us holding hands… him sunk just a few inches into the solid ground with his brow furrowed very Dannyishly and me floating a few feet into the hair, a helium balloon pulling me up up and away.
I keep him from dying of Serious Stress, and he keeps me from dying of recklessness.

The combination of our personalities, weaknesses and strengths is the stuff that makes Really Great Homes, and I could FEEL that, but getting my hands on it felt *just* out of my reach.

I am impatient, and I am a hard worker, so I decided to EARN my way through the invisible barrier. I decided to kick it down, scratch it down, beat it, break it and GET MY HANDS ON THE PRIZE. My Dad raised me with work, and I’m a capable gal. I read so many books about relationships. I read so many theories -each theory a thick weapon used to knock at the barrier, each weapon failing.

So many failures. I finally gave up and sat down beaten and sweaty next to the stubborn barrier and felt no amount of satisfaction that usually comes after years of honing my focus in on one project. Because I’m so impatient, spending YEARS on one thing is significant. Having my efforts fail? My devastation ran deep.

In third grade, I read Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” in one day. One SCHOOL day. I hid it under my desk during class and read. I sat on the ground during recess and read. I hid under my blanket with a flashlight and read. Once I begin a project, I HAVE TO FINISH IT. I’ve often felt this same drive when opening a bag of Swedish Fish.

But this project? This barrier project? This reading project? It was the most futile thing I’d ever done, and when I realized it, I felt very stupid. I put away all of my relationship books and turned away from my relationship to spend time focusing on WHY I’d spend so much time foolishly.

I took myself for a figurative walk -figurative because I wasn’t actually PHYSICALLY capable of walking around much when I realized the barrier was the boss of me -and I ended up finding MY SIDE OF THE STREET. I stood and admired it from the road, and I have to say: I was pretty impressed over all. There were colorful plants, cement stairs leading up to a beautiful little shop where I sold pieces of myself for much less than they were worth.
Great deals!
Pretty plants!

I took a few steps closer to soak in my awesomeness and that’s when I noticed that the plants were fake.
Of course they’re fake.
I can’t grow stuff! I knew that! I kill all plants! My thumb is black with garden shame.
It didn’t long to see that the plants weren’t the only fake thing on the block… my entire store front was a prettily plastered FAKE FAKERSON. The store front was beautifully masking an old brick building that had fallen into disrepair from neglect. The store front suddenly looked like a gigantic band-aid -it’s beauty lost on me. The side of my store was cracked -deep cracks ran along the sides and bled into the ground.

I peered through the windows and found -instead of the insides of my shop -my own reflection. Each window was, in fact, a mirror. The mirrors were cloudy and dusty, so I huffed and puffed and blew my breath onto them and polished them with my sleeve.
My reflection became clearer and clearer, and I began to see that I was impatient. I was controlling. I was more powerful than I imagined -more opinionated than I thought.
I was sensitive and I felt everything that came my way. My life was an endless succession of absorption -I heard everything, felt everything, smelled everything, remembered everything… and I was tired from the rapid stream of stimuli. Did everyone feel like I did?
Did everyone have fake store fronts and fake plants and cracked walls?

I thought about looking around, but again: my Dad raised me to know about work and what work does. I didn’t have time to be wondering about other streets… my street needed some serious help.

As I opened the door to my shop, I found so. much. garbage. on top of a lot of greatness. It was dusty and dark, so much neglect!
Had I really spent so much time perfecting the appearance of the outside of my shop that the inside got THIS BAD?
I rolled up my sleeves and began the hard work of GUTTING OUT MY OWN STUFF. I threw away the fake plants and opted for more authenticity -big, stone lions that don’t bite or need any nourishing but still invite folks to stop on by for cookies.
I hacked down my fake store front and found that the original store front was REALLY WORTHWHILE though utterly lacking in trendiness… the longer I looked at it and the more time I spent with it, the more I came to LOVE THAT FACT. The lack of trendiness became it’s warmest feature.

The more I cleaned and swept my own shop, the wider my door swung open, the more visitors I had. More sunshine spilled into my once-darkened store.
I began raising my prices on my more worthy wares, realizing what I had to offer was seriously worth extra effort. At the same time, I began giving what I had to offer freely. It didn’t make any sense as far as appearances went, but my gut was so happy with the situation that I let my worries about appearances fall into the dump with my store front.

One thing hasn’t changed about my side of the street -the windows are still mirrors. I do my best to keep them clean so I will always have a clear view of what’s really going on with me. It seems the more I sweep my own street, the clearer and cleaner my mirrors become.
That’s what I like to call efficient housekeeping.

In my GUSTO of GUTTING, I threw out ALL of my relationship help books. I evicted Dr. Laura. I found that the barrier I’d been sacrificing myself to tear down wasn’t mine to tear at, so I could LET IT GO and let God deal with it all. It was time for me to turn away from the tension of tearing and controlling and face the beautiful music of acceptance.

And for a few years, I enjoyed the sunshine. I enjoyed the rain. My side of the street went from being false and unsafe to AUTHENTIC, STURDY… I worked hard to make it a safe place for my soul to stay. After all, I’m going to be here for the rest of my life. I stayed far away from self-help books and was very wary of any Internet advice… except when wax was spilled on carpet or red hots were stuck in nostrils -those were the days where tension and acceptance diverged in the woods and I took the lower road most traveled by.

I’m here to tell you that THIS FRIDAY, I barely made it through work. I couldn’t stand that it was SEATTLE RAINING and I wasn’t at home with a book, especially because I knew there were NEW BOOKS in my mailbox.
They weren’t digital books! Because I’m impatient, I love digital books. But I also love BOOK BOOKS, and I ORDERED SOME SELF-HELP BOOK BOOKS with crisp new pages and real covers and everything!
I looked in my mirror the other day and felt like I was ready. I’ve stripped my soul and polished my mirror enough to see that my biggest issues are
and I knew there were some great books that might help me NOT LIVE MY LIFE from a scared and shameful place, even though shame and fear lurk EVERY STREET IN THE WORLD, no matter how clean the owners’ keep them.
And so I go in search of the proverbial lamb’s blood to keep the misty fog and shame and fear BACK AWAY FROM MY SIDE OF THE STREET. They may pass by, but they may not stay.

THIS FRIDAY, I raced home from work, to the Post Office, picked up the baby from the sitter and then DID NOT MOVE FROM MY RECLINER FOR HOURS.

I spent a rainy afternoon reading a book under a throw blanket. It’s the stuff dreams and true living are made up -the place where they meet.
When rain falls from heaven, it brings a bit of heaven to earth… and I ransacked it like a pig in mud.

Opening my package, I realized I’d accidentally marked my books as gifts. I laughed as my gift receipt fell into my lap. I think I’ll accidentally mark ALL of my Amazon orders as gifts from now on because what are goods and wares if not gifts? And really -these books are my gifts to myself.

I’m finally ready for another layer of Gutting with Gusto.


My toddler climbed into my lap as I read and caught a glimpse of the back of my book.
“It’s Mama!” she said, and then I became the happiest mother in the world. She thinks I look like THIS.

It’s Good Friday on My Side of the Street.

And if you want a visual of my street cleaning, listen to this… my street cleaning sounds like this song. This song is me. This song is me gutting. Sometimes peppy, sometimes dramatically, sometimes sweetly, sometimes profound:

When He Was Small

Trenton has always had a special place in my heart. He’s my only son, and his big, big brown eyes melt me. They always have.

When we first moved into the house we’re in now, Trenton was only 2. One day, I heard a knock on the door. I went to answer it, only to find no one there. A few minutes later, I heard another knock. I went again to the door… nothing. I turned around and saw Trenton, toy hammer in hand, giggling. He was knocking on our barn wood moulding and laughing at his mom running back and forth, back and forth.
I couldn’t believe it.
He knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

His little giggle is extremely contagious -these days it’s almost exclusively reserved for potty words. Anytime I say, “but…” and pause for effect, he chuckles slow and low and it gradually builds, catches on, and then we all start laughing.
What am I going to do with this BOY?!

Today I uploaded a video I’ve treasured for years because it captures one of his classic laughs -The Evil Laugh.

Earlier in the day, I’d left him with a sitter at a basketball game for a few minutes. She let him sip on her Diet Coke -he’d never had caffeinated soda before. That night, he ran circles in the living room and then sat at the table to… cut paper, apparently.

This crazy boy. I hope you enjoy his laugh as much as we do.


When I was growing up, I had (well, have, but anyway) three older brothers. I began to objectify them, putting them in one big lump sum: The Brothers.
They were like a club -a band of some sort.
“Mom, The Brothers went outside.”
Most often, though, I viewed The Brothers as a mean Hate Gang and myself as their sole target, and I could almost swear that my mother lost half of her hair listening to my most common lament, “The Brothers are teasing me!”


Someday I hope to be as darling as I once was. Maybe when I’m 93 and wearing a white crochet cardi in my nursing home recliner?

Anyway, the other day I loaded up Alice in the car without her older siblings, and she looked confused.
“Where Guys?” she asked.
“What?” I looked at her and furrowed my eyebrows, trying to decipher exactly what she was saying.
“Where Guys?” she repeated, “GUYS! GUYS! WHERE AH YOU?!”


They’re just as cute as The Brothers. Will they turn out to the new Hate Gang on the block? Time will tell…


Trenton: Mom, you were right about what you said. You used to be good at baking, but now? Crappy.

It’s true. Going gluten free has it’s ugly moments. I’m so glad I have people around me to point them out MORE and LOUD. Feels good.

Angels for Ashton

A year ago, my heart opened up and burst when I received word that a friend of mine, Candace, had lost her brother, Ashton.


Ashton suffered from depression and took his own life on January 28th, 2014. His family has been continually in my prayers this last year (has it really been an entire year?). I lit up when I woke up one morning to a facebook event invitation titled, “Angels for Ashton.” On January 28th -the year mark -friends, family, and friends of family and friends of friends of friends of Ashton’s loving circle are participating in a day-long event -a truly beautiful way to honor Ashton. They’re issuing an invitation to perform acts of service in Ashton’s honor.


I just wanted to invite you, too… just in case an invitation didn’t pop up on your facebook feed. CLICK HERE to navigate to the event page on facebook (and join!)

When I was first married, I spent some quality time with Candace. She told me about her family, and I met them a few times. Candace told me how her mother spent one of her own birthdays baking bread to deliver to other people -it was what brought her the most joy. I never forgot that story, and seeing the “Angels for Ashtons” event brought that memory back full force.

What an incredible legacy -what a wonderful family. How excited am I to be part of this family for one day? VERY!


This is taken from the facebook event page:

This event was created to honor the day Ashton Mayberry became an Angel. On January 28th, we would like to invite any and all people to join us in doing small acts of anonymous service in Ashton’s name. Examples of things you can do: pay for someone’s meal behind you in the lunch line/drive-thru, leave an envelope of money for someone in need, leave a nice note to lift someone else, send an anonymous bouquet of flowers, or any kind act of service you see needed or feel inspired to do! Coming soon, we will have a printable page of small note cards so you can leave one when you perform your act of kindness. We know that wherever we are, whatever we do, together our small acts of service can make a difference in a big way. We can’t think of a better way to honor Ashton on this special day. We hope you will join us, and please spread the word! And don’t forget to include all family members in your service. (Children often have the best “angelic” ideas!)
Once you have completed your act of service, feel free to post your experience on this page so we can read and see the impact our service together will have. Thank you for being an Angel for Ashton!

I hope you’ll join in – this is your chance to be an honorary Mayberry for a day!
Ashton’s parents blog at Ashton’s Legacy.

Yesses to Messes

A few weeks ago, we had family coming into town for Lacy’s birthday and baptism. I was working so hard to get the final push of holiday messes out of the way. I was busy packing away, throwing away, and dusting away.
“Mom,” Lacy sat next to me during one of my many collapses on the couch, “WHY are we cleaning so much?”
I laughed out loud.
“I don’t know,” I said when I’d quit laughing so hard, “Because my mom always cleaned a lot before people came to visit?” I laughed some more, and this only furthered her insatiable curiosity.
“But WHY?”

The real answer was that there was going to be a lot of people in a small space and I needed some semblance of tidy so the busy weekend would have a canvas to play out smoothly on.

My house is currently a disaster.

I have spent YEARS. YEARS feeling intense shame about this. I have studied people who clean well, read articles with tips! I have tried. so. hard. In my mind, if my house was clean, I could accept myself.

I don’t know why, but I have always believed that there was ONE RIGHT WAY of doing things, and when I couldn’t seem to nail myself down to that ONE ideal I had mustered up in my head, I felt so much shame -self-loathing, worthlessness, hopelessness.

In college, I worked as an English tutor. I had a very frustrated freshman boy come in and vent, “I wish English was like math. In math, there’s only ONE RIGHT ANSWER.”
I remember lighting up like a Christmas tree, “But that’s what’s SO GREAT about English -there’s so many ways to get it right!”

Glass half empty meet glass half full, I guess.

I’m just a little amazed at finding myself on the other end of the tutoring table… so frustrated, thinking there was only one right answer for everything. It seemed to me that once my stomach was a little more on the flat side and my house a little more on the clean and organized side, I’d be able to love myself more.
I worked really hard at it, and I was so good at working hard.
I lost inches doing hard work outs. My house smelled good. Things were most always in their proper places, and the food I put on the table was homemade (this was when I was at home full time). Things ran like clock work and I found a new respect for current self, but every time I pulled out old home movies and saw the empty pizza boxes on the counter (next to the stack of unopened mail and unfinished crafting projects…) I would HATE and JUDGE my old self.
How could I have LIVED with myself? Thank goodness THAT part of me is dead.

I didn’t want to admit it out loud -or even silently to myself -that running a routine of working out and cleaning, cooking, and so on was kind of… stifling. I didn’t feel like myself at all and the only true “joy” I gleaned from any of it was self-earned loved. I had no genuine self-love. Any love I gave myself was EARNED.

After I became pregnant with Alice, I wasn’t able to keep up and I haven’t caught up since. She’s two, dear. TWO.

During my pregnancy and the years there after, I came to learn something priceless (though the counseling it took to get here cost a pretty penny) and it is: I love myself.

I don’t work out hard anymore. I don’t clean so I’ll quit hating myself.

I walk and do yoga because I LOVE MY BODY. I clean when I feel I can or when there’s no more spoons. I follow a new routine… one of creativity and acceptance. There’s no more earning love in this house.

One thing I learned while studying women who take naturally to cleaning and organizing is that they don’t have to put monumental physical and emotional effort into it. Cleaning and organizing have always been great mysteries to me. I have to work SO HARD to pull them off. Women who clean efficiently have given me cleaning tips that have blown my mind. I stare at them in wonder and say, “That makes SO much sense.” And they shrug it off like the most natural thing in the world and IN THOSE MOMENTS I see how much we need each other. I have friends who are great cleaners who rely on me for ideas, crafting and the like.

I find immediately after cleaning my kitchen the need to MUCK IT UP. My counters are no sooner cleaned than I’ve spread all manner of ingredients all over them. My house is my canvas. I clean only to create.
I create BETTER when the house isn’t clean.
There, I said it.

My best ideas come in the middle of a mess. I can find a figurative needle in a haystack, and if you ask me where the “blank” is, I will be able to find it UNLESS someone has deep cleaned.

Yesterday, I traveled an old road of shame and worthlessness over my messy house (and yes, there were TWO empty pizza boxes on my counter) and this morning, I hit my knees and asked God to please help me either clean or stop hating myself.
As I read my scriptures, I didn’t absorb much of what I read. I tried, but I Was tired. I pried myself out of the recliner I spent the night in (I drowned out my shame with a movie and fell asleep. It happens). As I went to take a bath, the scripture came to mind, “Prepare every needful thing… Establish a house… A house of order.”

(D&C 88:119)
This scripture has been our family theme for years. Danny and I picked it, and I can’t count how many hours I have spent focusing on what I thought “A House of Order” meant.
I have HATED myself for SO LONG over this.
I have come up with charts, graphs, sources and so many different things to help me keep my house clean. All have failed me. I have made most every guest in my home uncomfortable with strings of apologies and excuses over messes. And as I stepped over dirty clothes to get to the tub, it hit me.
A House of Order.
Has Nothing.
To Do.
With Dirty Clothes.

A House in Order is a house with it’s priorities in line. A House of Order is a house where God sits in the center.

Because my home is next in line of importance to the temple does not mean that it needs to LOOK LIKE A TEMPLE INSIDE. Small children aren’t allowed to roam and tumble inside of the LDS Temples. But my home functions pretty much exactly for that purpose.


Would I be embarrassed if Christ himself walked into my home right now? NO! I mean, it’s my SAVIOR, for crying out loud!  In my HOUSE! I would fall on his neck and at his feet, and I would welcome his Grace with open arms. I would ask him questions -SO MANY QUESTIONS.

We are taught that Christ is the Master Teacher -the Greatest Example, and WHERE WHERE WHERE in the scriptures does it say that He kept a pristine house? Where is that written? I do know Christ speaks of having no place to lay his head, and that speaks pretty loudly of how important He felt it was to keep Himself housed neatly. Jesus came to earth to make the ultimate sacrifice, to open the way of Heaven to us through HEALING. That was his mission. He taught the importance of love through example, and nowhere in the scriptures can I find reference of His teaching the importance of having a counter clean of all things at all times! When Martha got caught up in cleaning and hosting, Christ didn’t join in to teach the importance of cleaning and hosting!  He sat with Mary and taught her the BETTER part.

If cleaning were a vital part of God’s plan, I would never be saved. I would have no hope for salvation.

Historically, there are many great messy people. Ben Franklin strove for organization but failed… but look at everything he accomplished!  He established the first library system, sanitation committee, and POLICE FORCE.  And that’s just a few of the lesser knowns! Mark Twain wrote amazing novels that have enriched us all… but his desk was a mess.

Loving myself means loving ALL of myself -learning to see the glass half full in the traits I wish I didn’t have. Can I force myself to be a clean, organized person? The answer is YES. I know because I’ve done it. But when I do that, I LOSE the parts of myself I love MORE than the parts of myself who can’t figure out a smooth method to scrubbing.
My creative energy dwindles, my writing suffers, my crochet projects tend more toward bland coloring and I have trouble getting on board with myself. In fact, the only pacification I have during the entire process is that my couch is clean enough to lay on.
And so I lie down and enjoy a clean house and a more flat stomach.

BUT THAT IS NO LIFE FOR ME BECAUSE IT LACKS DEPTH AND MEANING AND DIRECTION and has nothing at all to do with the talents God has endowed me with.

My life is lived to it’s fullest when I access Christ’s will for me… when I put HIM in the center of my disorganized life and go from there. My potential is realized in HIM! My potential is not limited to the state of my shelves and thighs.

When Sister Reeves gave this talk in Conference, I had to excuse myself after she said, “Amen.” I went into the kitchen and cried. I cried a lot. Tears of RELIEF. SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT. Someone finally understood what I was going through and spoke absolute peace to my soul.

A House of Order, Alicia, is a House where priorities are in place: God, Love, Peace.

How do we lead our children to deep conversion and to access our Savior’s Atonement? I love the prophet Nephi’s declaration of what his people did to fortify the youth of his day: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, [and] we prophesy of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”4

How can we do this in our homes? Some of you have heard me tell how overwhelmed my husband, Mel, and I felt as the parents of four young children. As we faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”
~Sister Reeves

I do still clean my house, but only when I can do it from a place of love and not fear, pressure, or shame.
I clean when it feels natural.
But I know now that I can look to God -I can look up heavenward from my where I stand amid my clutter -and say, “I consecrate myself, my messes and my heart unto Thee.”

He can do great things where there is love.

When Channeling My Zombie is the Only Option

I really like being connected to God.

It’s hard right now, though, today it is hard. This weekend, it was hard. Aside from the boomerang head cold that’s decided I’m the coolest person in the world, I have this one little toddler who manages to drain and sap the head cold’s leftovers.
After that? All that’s left is Zombie. I sit in front of the television and ask for someone to bring me food.

I took a bath with the baby a few days ago. Purposefully? No. She heard my bath water running, and like a moth to a flame… Within SECONDS, she had nakified herself and was stepping nimbly over the tub edge.
“A splash splash, Mama?”

A splash splash must also be a pop pop if you have Alice with you, so I added some shampoo to the running bath water.
“A POP POP, Mama!”

After she was washed, I plopped her out, wrapped her in a towel and finished my bath. When I walked out into the living room, I found marker. everywhere. On the bathroom door, on the wall, on the front door, and ALL OVER HER OWN LITTLE BODY: head to toe.  Even her tongue was covered in royal blue.

I don’t even have pictures because I’m so tired. She doesn’t sleep, she doesn’t stop, and I’m trying to pray to God to connect and see what He’d have for me to do, but all I can really do is muster is another episode of “Death Comes to Pemberley” and a fat plate of nachos with a side of lotion-infused tissues.
(“Death Comes to Pemberley” just came on Netflix. It’s the best thing that’s happened all week!)

The past few days, the weather has been so beautiful. I keep thinking, “I SHOULD be doing yard work. I SHOULD be outside.”
I ask the kids if they want to go outside, hoping their presence will motivate me.
“No, Mom…” They’re feeling it too.
We are beaten. We are bloodied.

Death by Toddler.

A Letter From My Sick Bed

My sister and I have a shared devotion for the movie, “Persuasion” -particularly Mary… the attention-starved diva who feigns illness every chance she gets.
“I am so ill… I can hardly speak.”
(warning: this trailer is misleading in that it gives off the movie being filled with action and passion, and it’s kind of really not)

And so my sickbed has been filled with Sister Maryisms, “What if I were to be seized in some dreadful way? I’m not able to ring the bell!”

Thursday after work, I came home and tangled myself up in a few comforters in my Dad’s old recliner and there I stayed until the middle of the night. My body ached ALL over. I napped for three hours and watched movie after movie with a groggy head and a fire-filled throat.
The bright side to all of this is that I have a few movie recommends for ya. And you do know that I’m always TAKING movie recommends, right? I mean, I’m so starved for movie recommends that I’ve started loosely watching, “Once Upon a Time” which goes grossly against what my Inner Hipster labels as acceptable behavior.
We might as well start there: Hipstering.
I’ve been streaming “Liberal Arts” and falling in love.

I want everyone to watch it, but if you can’t or won’t… just watch The Best Parts:
This scene -though the video isn’t the best -won me over.

But this is really the scene that sealed my devotion to the movie because I am a music major/lover/appreciator and a literary person:

The first half of “Liberal Arts” is irresistible, but the second half? eh. The amazingness of the first half nearly negates the mediocrity of the second half.

I’ve tried getting into “John Adams” on Amazon Prime Instant Streaming, but there’s something about it that I can’t connect with. I think it’s the shaky-camera-close-up-scalping-at-a-drama-filled-angle that is distracting me.
See it in action:

Who needs scalps and steady cameras? Philistines. *spit*

I did find a gem on Amazon, though, in “London Hospital” which was cancelled -fair warning to those of us obsessed with cinematic closure -and which is not for anyone with a weak stomach. The children and I hid under blankets for every surgery scene.

I’m still pretty bummed over Thursday -it was a rapid succession of movie fails on a sick day. Isn’t that sad? The only nice thing about sick days is movies, and I didn’t watch a single one worth watching.
Lemon, lemon, lemon and no jackpot to show for it.

The worst part about it? I actually own some truly amazing movies and I haven’t watched them in years.

This morning, my husband dusted off our DVD collection and put in “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” which has significant meaning in our household for reasons I’ll list here:
1) I once went on a date with a man kid to see this movie in theaters. I was so deeply moved and touched by the breathtaking cinematography, the realistic plot, and the music (oh! the MUSIC!) that I turned to share my rapture with my date and found him soundly asleep. And that’s when I knew: Philistine.
2) My husband bought me the movie and soundtrack (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
for my 19th birthday (two weeks later I married him. I was SO YOUNG).
3) On our honeymoon, we stumbled -though I like to think God led us by the hand -onto THE SHIP THEY USED IN THE MOVIE. It was amazing. We toured it and soaked it all in, got burned by the California sun and fed pigeons.

I did watch “Moonstruck” for the first time and laughed out loud -and not because I was supposed to but because (for the love) Nicholas Cage pointing at his “false” hand and yelling, “HE TOOK MY HAND! HE TOOK MY BRIDE!” while wearing a wife beater that showed his sweat and tattoo in the light of the brick oven fires below his bakery.

I couldn’t take it seriously. Not even -nay, especially -when Cher’s hair thought it was a disco ball.
The only truly touching part of the movie was the bits of Italian Opera, but all that came crashing down when Cher slept with her the ridiculous brother of her ridiculous fiance and I couldn’t help but wonder why CHER was the one slapping and yelling, “Snap out of it!” when it’s more or less (or more) of a black kettle situation.

I guess it’s a classic, but it’s no “Philadelphia Story” or “You’ve Got Mail” or even “While You Were Sleeping” and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Except maybe “The Shop Around the Corner” which is really “You’ve Got Mail Senior.”

And if, when you’re done watching “Liberal Arts” and find yourself hankering for more classical education, the music major and mortal in me highly recommends BYU’s documentary on Handel’s Messiah which is guaranteed to change (at the most) your life and (at the least) your perspective:

Satan’s Midnight Felony

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but Satan accosted my Sandman last night.

My toddler skipped her nap, so I was looking forward to a full night’s rest… but apparently having her sleep schedule messed with (even though SHE did her OWN messing) doesn’t sit right with her, and she got up every two hours to tell me about it.
Between her sob stories, I had dreams. Oh, the dreams!
I was pick-pocketed by a troubled teen  in the lobby of a darkened movie theater where children weren’t allowed to play video games -apparently they had need of a new hobby, video games being out of the question, and so turned to thievery. Minutes after leaving the theater, I was passenger in a car that drove off of a bridge and plummeted into rippling, dark waters. I escaped and found my way to the local police station where they refused to take me seriously despite my being victimized and narrowly escaping death all in one night.
That’s when I woke up -yet again -to find Satan’s hell-fire infested sand IN MY THROAT and yea though I coughed and spat, the fire would not subside.
And Alice wanted milk.
And I couldn’t not find her bottle.  The only pleasantness to be found was in Alice’s groggy, “Bless you’s” after I’d hack up phlegm.

I wanted all at once for night to end and night to not end because daylight meant GETTING UP.

My body aches, and Alice shows no sign of having ever passed The Evil Night with me.
But me? I?

I don’t want to talk about it.
Unless you’re the Nocturnal Dream Police. Because I have a warrant for Satan’s arrest and SOMEone needs to be doing something about it.
I would, you understand, but I’m foggy -as foggy as the thick fog hanging over my town this very cold Northern Arizona morning -and I’m going to spend time with my herbal tea and blankies and vengeance.

Other Gods I Have

My newsfeed seems to be suddenly filled with articles on marriage… 5 ways to lose your husband, 3 ways to keep him. 10 ways to read her mind, 7 things you’re doing wrong.
There’s articles about how to make it work, and there’s even a few about forcing it to work. There’s advice, so much advice.  Answers!  Answers everywhere!

(One might wonder HOW MARRIAGES ARE STILL FALLING APART?!  There’s so many answers out there to PREVENT THEM FROM ENDING.)

I haven’t read any of them.
Because I used to read ALL of them. I could have been a walking advertisement for Dr. Laura. I can now proudly say that I have her Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands in my burn pile.  It was not for me.

My life used to be a chaotic roller coaster with highs and lows that could make Evil Knievel lose his breakfast. One word from my husband, and I was riding high or low. The highs made the lows worth it… And I pandered along in this warped sense of normalcy, rationalizing away unhealthy behavior on both our parts. Still, no matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t seem to tap into marital bliss or even true marital happiness. I didn’t expect perfection, but I hungered for a human connection that lasted beyond appearances. I could feel something substantial missing. I couldn’t understand it because I read the books! I followed the articles! I followed dating blogs and took their advice! I worked out so my body would stay thin for him.
I cleaned for him.
I cooked for him.
I worked hard to be interesting to him.

Why wasn’t I whole?

I turned to my friends for answers, and I was sure I needed a counselor. I needed answers! Something was wrong, something was definitely wrong, and I needed to fix it.

Phone calls were made to friends and family, comparing my relationship to theirs. I worked tirelessly to prove that I was right when my husband shrugged off any marital issues.

I felt crazy, and that crazy feeling drove me forward. I felt the need to control the outcome. I was capable, so… Why not?

What it all came down to was this: I knew in my heart something was wrong.
I knew in my heart.

Did I handle it in a healthy way? No, because I didn’t know any better.
Again and again I put myself in the role of savior. God let me know in my heart and gut that something was amiss, but I failed to reach out to Him in reply.

My God, and the center of my life, had become my husband. My savior was myself. Everyone around me existed as a secondary God. I looked to them for answers, for insights. I vented to them thoughts. When I felt the lows of my roller coater, I voiced my pain and hurt! I laid it at the feet of my friends.

All the time, God waited patiently on the sidelines. All knowing, all understanding… He knew why I felt so capable, why I felt the driving need to handle things on my own… Because He knows me.
He has walked my entire life with me, has seen everything I’ve seen, felt everything I’ve felt and understood everything I could or would not.

And one day, when my God of a husband and secondary Gods of people failed me -as mortals will do because it’s part of the role- I rode my roller coaster in stunned silence.
The twists and turns and loops that I had once seen as a challenge to be controlled and fixed became sickening to me.
I had to get off.  So I jumped.

Once on the ground, I found rest.
I laid out flat on the hard, solid ground and inhaled the serenity that came from not spinning. I closed my eyes to the drama of the roller coaster raging in front of me and slept for months. In my real-time life, this equated to spending six months in heaps of broken tears, wondering what was to be done.

Occasionally, I’d get on the roller coaster again as a means of habit only to hit the first loop and remember with nauseation (it’s a word now) that I DID NOT WANT TO BE THERE AGAIN.
I’d get off, lie down, and I would rest.
After a few months of this cycle, I opened my eyes and found God.
He was standing over me, and He raised me up. I walked with him, never quite ready to leave the circus grounds… but my walks with God began building my trust in Him. Around this time, I’d given up any and all self-help articles, books… but I did read one.
I read it on my walks with God.

There was entire chapter on allowing yourself to be romanced by God, and it made me squirm. It was weird.
But even so.
Suddenly all of the love songs took on a new meaning. Tears would fill my eyes as I could hear -instead of a man singing to his mistress -God. I could hear God singing to me, and I cried a lot.

I started to see God in the sunset -as if He arranged my favorite shades to come out to play just as I took my routine spot at the kitchen sink. I started to see God in the air around me, in the eyes of my children. I began to stand still, and in those still moments, God took my hand and everything missing in my marriage faded in the background. The “something missing” wasn’t missing anymore.
I looked forward to walking with God, and the more trust I felt in our walks, the more I started to feel like reaching back, replying.
As I streamed Pandora one afternoon, Josh Groban belted, “You Raise Me Up” and my eyes filled with tears. God raises me up.

It was during this period that God let me know… not only was the roller coaster NOT mine, but the circus was not MINE. It wasn’t ME.

Hand in hand with God, I left the circus.

I left behind the articles, the debates, the trends, the flashy fashions. I left The Land of Answers and embarked into The Land of Questions.
Leaving the circus didn’t mean leaving pain… though admittedly, I have left so much self-inflicting pain behind.

With my hand in God’s, I ask what He needs. I ask what I need. I find, little by little, that all of the answers I was working to earn and find were there all along: the answers were within me. God knew it, and He patiently waited for me to know it as well.
God can be at my center, but it’s a decision -a choice -I make moment by moment.

The big thing missing in my marriage, in my relationship, in ME was God.

There are days I choose to return to the circus: to take offenses personally when what they really are… are responses from other broken people that have NOTHING to do with me and everything to do with their own struggles.
There are days when I find others at my center, when I find myself obsessing over something said or done, wondering if I’m despised, hated, judged or (this is the biggest one for me) rejected.

In those moments, I remember my walks with God. I remember to take one. I remember the feeling of creating safety from WITHIN instead of waiting on others to create my safety and sanity for me.

This all equates to my life being one big mess, but the remarkable -yea, miraculous -part of ALL of this is that I feel peace. I feel my feet on the ground.

I feel the answers within myself.

So many Nicholas Sparks novels-turned-movies have lost their luster now that I see life is so much more than about worshiping others. It’s more than earning love, more than climbing the steep roller coaster in anticipation for your emptiness to be filled only to be let down, let down, let down low.

God never lets me down. God raises me up.

And while I’m sure there’s so many way that I can break my marriage or lose/annoy/frustrate my husband/neighbors/sister/daughter/cat, I also know that when I put God in the center and talk my life over with Him, I find within myself in incomparable peace, an immeasurable wholeness that defies any amount of searching, earning, and self-expectations.

I find myself outside of myself, more aware, more alive and totally, completely ENOUGH.
My answers aren’t your answers, save one: Go to God. Let Him fill your “something missing” and you will find within yourself a wholeness that needs no debate, no defensiveness, no explanation, no apology, no ego… just an encompassing peace that defies fear. Pain isn’t as scary anymore, and life becomes -instead of a rapid succession of anxiety ridden preventative measures -one beautiful embrace of reality with it’s injustices, calamities, unknowns, unfairs, and beautiful mysteries.
I have no control over my husband, my relationships, my cat! And this is freeing.
It’s freeing to NOT read articles with answers.
It’s freeing to know that I DO KNOW FOR ME, that I can tap into my own soul, be honest (even if it’s not easy) and true (even if I don’t like what I need) to myself.

There is no one right way. There is no one right person because Jesus died.

He died for me because I am wrong, do wrong, and am a fully broken human… knowing this, I can finally embrace that I can not manage my marriage and other people. I can, however, go to God and therein will my life take the best course for me.

Just do the next right thing for me.