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Dear Dad,

It’s 4 days until Christmas. You’ve been gone for what feels like forever. I miss you so much, dad. You’ve been with me so much this month. In the Walgreen’s aisle with Almond Roca. In every bad dressed-up Santa. In the bicycle aisle at Wal-mart, and as I drove past the Harley store and heard your gut-busting laugh as I reminisced about running into the front door. With the Old Spice and the shaving cream I bought for Caroline’s slime. The rootbeer that I got just to think of you. In my feather pillow. In the measuring tape I needed at work and just happened to have in my car. When LG and I somehow managed to fix our own washing machine, the miracle belonged to you, and the moment wasn’t near what it could have been if I could have called you on the phone to hear your pride.

I wish I could see you just for a second. I want to see your smile. I want to feel your rough weathered hands. I want to smell you and feel the whiskers on your face when you try to give me a kiss and I turn my cheek to your greedy lips. One of the last things I said to you is that I don’t do kisses except for with LG and babies. I grew out of those a long time ago, but it never stopped you from trying. Ha. Unfortunately, as real as the memories are, because you aren’t actually here, I have to be satisfied with the memories making you alive in the sights, smells, and sounds that are here. When Mr. Bing Crosby whistles in “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” I just pretend that you are right upstairs. And I know you are.

Last month I went to the temple. I prayed and pleaded with God that he would let me see you. I waited in the Celestial Room for a long time, but you never came. I didn’t understand. I forced myself to my feet and walked toward the door dejected and disappointed. Outside the Celestial Room, I threw my fifty tear-soaked tissues in the garbage and got a drink of water for my perched throat, and then I noticed a burly man in his prime wearing a white suit watching my every move from where he stood at the top of the stair-case across the breezeway.

As I walked straight toward him turning to ascend the stairs back to my stressful and crazy lifestyle, I felt a peace permeate me. The peace was a literal thing, and it pierced straight through my entire being. As I turned back to make sense of this feeling — this weapon of peace — that could entice me to do anything and everything to keep it, the man smiled and said “goodnight.” I returned with an automated “goodnight,” like a Walton’s episode, while also automatically turning back around to let the goodnight of peace propel me back to so much drudgery below. After two steps, I realized that this man (if it wasn’t you) represented you. You had chosen to offer me the greatest thing you had to offer — peace. And out of all the things you could say, you chose “goodnight.” As if you were really saying, “don’t fret, Alice. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Upon my recognition of what had transpired, I jolted my head back to catch you, dad, but all I got was the back of your suit headed back into God’s abyss. You had other stuff to do, and at that moment I knew you were just fine. Busy, but fine. You stole the moment for your grieving child. You stole it just for me because you are way more than fine. You are busy in a place of white. You will always be watching, but not necessarily 100% present except in memory. You didn’t even wait for me turn back because it would have been too hard to say goodbye instead of just a simple goodnight.

Oh dad, you are everywhere that I am. I take you with me wherever I go. I know you’re fine, but I sure wish I could feel that peace all of the time.

Social Media Fast

My Post (5)
I survived my ten-day social-media-fast. I accepted the challenge by the prophet, but I wasn’t perfect. If you went to that linked article at Washington Post, you will see how many women were perfectly justified in delaying their own fasts. I didn’t start mine until last Sunday because I wanted to have an actual fast for the extra boost of help. I know it would be hard for me. I’m a junkie, and I’ve not just allowed but invited social media to penetrate my daily life. In many ways, it’s the only adult connection I get on a daily. Sad, but true. My husband works out of town, and my teenage kids are busy.

I was one of the women with my doubts and worries. As you can see:

social media fast

Here is the transcript of my feelings:

 

  • alicewgold

    As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are unique from other world religions because we believe in a modern-day prophet. The current prophet is Russell M. Nelson. He challenged us all to fast (a lent of sorts) from social media for 10 days and to take inventory during the fast of how we can better use our time. My fast will happen from Sunday 10/14- Tuesday 10/23. I’m worried a bit because I rely on social media for so many forms of communication nowadays. If you need me, e-mail, call, text or snail mail. I have full faith that this difficult challenge will bless me in ways I don’t currently perceive. If it were Noah, I’d like to think I’d get in the ark, even if it seemed crazy before the rain started.

I had many friends tell me that they would love to hear my experiences with the fast once I got through. So, here they are.

 

  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I think that is basically because I’ve created my own boundaries with social media throughout the years. I’ve unfollowed everyone that is toxic to me. I rarely see any political posts, improve-your-body posts, and complaining-constantly/always looking for empathy posts.
  • I have a problem with driving and scrolling. This completely stopped in the last 10 days, and I hope to have totally broke the habit.
  • I really don’t waste that much time on social media even though I admit to checking my facebook/instagram many times a day. They are the only two platforms that I use consistently, and I think that helps me control my usage. I don’t use snapchat or MarcoPolo or many others. I rarely use Twitter unless I am trying to get a hold of JK Rowling. I usually only checked my linked in every month or two. I mostly check my insta and FB while in the bathroom or standing in lines, but I have wasted too much time hiding in the bathroom. I feel good about not wasting a lot of time, but bad about all the extra time I’ve been spending in the bathroom.
  • I will stop using my phone in bed. I have let social media steal my nightly reading time. I blame my nightly reading habits being broken on homework, but in honesty I could be doing some reading for pleasure if I wasn’t using social media as an escape.
  • There are some times that you just have to get on social media. I did some research for a local autistic group. I’ve been looking in to getting an adult diagnosis for someone I know. One of the first hits was an organization that helps adults and their facebook page was prime real estate for connecting with other locals who have been diagnosed. (That was cheat #1, but in my defense, I only sent one message. And, I have yet to read the response. Second, my daughter’s mother–in-law asked me to post about her dog so that she could win a year supply of dog food, and there was no way I wasn’t going to try and help. (Although most of my local friends weren’t on social media to see my post.) Fourth, I had to go back and look at an old message from a friend to recall a band name that I wanted to share with a co-worker. (Not vital, but what can I say? The flesh is weak, and in my old age I like to get things done when I think of them, so they won’t be forgotten. Lastly, I got an e-mail notification of a neighbor giving away a plastic filing system that I desperately need for my classroom next year. The photo was in my e-mail. I jumped on to snag that. Yes, I could have lived without all 4 of these cheats, and yes, once I jumped on for even a second, I felt the pull to stay there, but I resisted wasting any more time. That is a big takeaway for me. I need to be the ruler of the social media, not the other way around.
  • I  missed chronicling my life in photos every day. I have a phone full of pictures from the last 10 days, and I will be sharing them. I love love love how easy it is for me to store family memories in this format.
  • I found it easier to connect with my family, as I had completely removed one really big distraction.
  • I also found it easier to read my scriptures in the mornings because I just did it at my first possible chance without being drawn away by cute pictures of my friends’ children/dogs.
  • I just re-added instagram to my phone (to add all the missed photos.) I will probably take some time to re-add facebook. I really don’t enjoy it as much as insta.
  • I really think I know a lot of women in-particular that have gotten stuck in the social media trap. They are more negative, whiny, impressionable, and don’t seem to be doing a whole lot but sitting on their sites all day. I think this is a really easy trap for stay-home moms and I’ve allowed it to influence myself way too much in the past. I’m grateful I’ve been able to identify that for myself and altered my own usage previous to the challenge.

That’s it for now, but I will probably be back to add some more (and edit my own typos and errors) when I have some more time.

 

2018 Oct General Conference Printable

This post is for my friends the belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, if you aren’t one of those, feel free to play along. We watch eight hours of sermons here. Four hours Saturday and four hours on Sunday. Schedule is currently showing on the link and when it is going, live feed will be available at the same link.

It’s that time of the year, and because two new apostles were sustained in April, we needed a new printout for our treat schedule.  {AND HOW EXCITED ARE WE TO SEE SOME ETHNIC APOSTLES!!!}

Feel free to use my print-out instead of taking the half of an hour to create your own. Here is a screenshot and a direct link to the printable google doc.

Happy conference weekend, y’all! They really are my two favorite weekends of the year.

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General Conference

There are a lot of different ways that desperate parents try to engage antsy children for this bi-yearly event, and I have tried many of them. However, I finally found my perfect system for the simplistic mom about a decade ago. It has stuck and is always looked forward to, so it must be a winner. It’s super low-maintenance. Here is a photo of it being put to use a few years back. Thank you insta for making a photo easy to find.

I write numbers (chronologically) in sharpie next to each of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I then go to the store and buy 15 snacks and write the correlating numbers on the snacks. The kids have a snack bingo all weekend long. Beef jerky is always the favorite and for some reason it often correlates with another favorite, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

I know, I know. It’s kind of gluttonous, but aren’t all the best times of the year about hanging with family and over-eating? At least on these two weekends we are also deeply fed spiritually.

Enjoy! And feel free to share with your friends.

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Pole Creek

Twenty miles south from my home, there is a raging forest fire occurring. The other day, a neighbor put out a call for some donations to take to the firefighters. As usual, I started to ponder on which items I could donate and which items I should donate. I thought of my budget taking another hit. We’ve had several weddings this month, a totaled car, a friend whose home burned down, school fees, etc. etc. There is never enough to go around. I started to worry because I wanted to help, but I didn’t think I could. I thought of the baby wipes up on the shelf and some beef jerkey that I had bought with a coupon a few weeks ago, and I determined that those would be my personal pledges for support. I prayed to God and told Him I would do more if I could and that it was on my heart to serve however He saw fit.

A message came back loud and clear. It rang in my mind, “Alice, this is not one that you need to do this time.” I didn’t understand. Didn’t the firefighting heroes deserve some clean socks, protein, and water? I prayed again. I got the same message. I decided to go on with my day, but it kept itching at me. I wanted to help where I could, but I was determined to follow the prompting I had received even though I didn’t understand it. This was on Friday.

Imagine my surprise, when yesterday I read this news report:

Cannon also tweeted: “The American Red Cross is saying thanks to the generosity of local citizens they no longer need donations. There is a waiting list of people offering space in their home for evacuees. Thank you all.”

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox also tweeted: “Update from the Red Cross noting a few problems: 1) Big waiting list…of people that want to HELP and provide shelter for others. 2) TOO MANY donations. Please stop for now. 3) 6,000 people evacuated and no one staying at the shelter. Well done Utah. Well done.”

You guys, God is real. He speaks to us if we listen. He speaks about things that may seem inconsequential. He knows all.

Oh, and people are amazing. I am so glad that so many stepped up to provide what was needed. They all beat me to it, but my budget is grateful.

For the lovers of {fill in the blank with cat therapy}

My Post(1)If People Would Purr

we would know that our offering is accepted and appreciated,

we could feel the satisfaction of providing pleasure,

we would be secure in knowing that they want more of our touch,

and

when our purr spontaneously combusted, it would bond us to that space in time where we fell asleep to another’s purr humming beside us.

 

The Peace of Wild Things

When I was eighteen, a few of my friends brought me a stuffed animal wild thing for my birthday. This was back in the days when my nickname was Crazy Ali, and I was a wild thing. I was free. I wanted nothing more than to wander. I also loved the book Where the Wild Things Are. I didn’t even associate loving that book with my own desire for adventure where Max had the ultimate adventure when he met the wild things.

If I were to write a book about my own perfect adventure, I would be the wild thing, and my adventure would be finding my way to peace. But, gosh dangit, Wendell Berry beat me to that story. And, how I love him for it.

My Post

Just another scholarship application

wolverine

I began my college journey at UVCC in 1992. I was barely eighteen, and I had scrimped and saved money for my tuition working full-time at Stevenett’s Malt Shoppe while also paying my own living expenses. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life back then, but as I rode the UTA bus back and forth from Provo, I would stare out the window and think about how someday I would graduate from college. If I would have known then how long it would take me to achieve my Everest-sized goal, I probably would have thrown in the towel, but over the last twenty-seven years, my aching for a college degree would only grow. I think the real story of my decades-long commitment is in my why. Why is graduating college so important to me?

A college degree is so important to me for many reasons. One, I am not a quitter. I always have and always will finish whatever it is that I start with an iron-stubborn will. Even if it takes me a third of a lifetime. Two, I have a sick passion, almost an obsession with reading and writing, and I am driven by the inescapable strings attached to my fingertips that attach my brain and heart to books and dictionaries, papers and pens, and computer keyboards with word processing windows open in monitors. My strings are more like fetters, and they won’t let me be. They sing to me, whisper, and often shout that my calling in life is to preach the power of the word. Three, I am a proud life-long learner. During the last thirty years, I have been a professional blogger paid to review books, a PTA board member, a Title I school community literacy coordinator, and an ESL adult education instructor. I never stop learning and growing and increasing my capacity to know and teach. It’s what I love to do. I currently work at UVU as a part-time administrator which has allowed me to continue to provide for myself and my family while also privileging me with an unofficial study of art on a daily basis.

A college-degree is important to me for the greater future it will provide for my family. Over the last twenty-seven years, I have been a wife of a double-achieving grad student and a mother of five. (My husband earned his undergrad at UVSC in 2002 and his JDMBA from the University of TN in 2008.) I earned my own associate degree from UVSC in 2002. I was cume laude, working part-time at Kinko’s every night to save money for my husband’s law-school applications, and soon-to-be pregnant with my third child. Never, not ever, not even for one second, did I give up on my goal of becoming a college graduate. For many years, the goal was on the back burner because of resource scarcity and the time it took me to support my husband and nurture my children, but it was always boiling over in impatience. I came back to UVU in 2015, and I am now proudly (and proud is a gross understatement) three semesters away from a goal I wrote for myself over three decades ago. The moment I walk into my first classroom as a certified English teacher with a college degree, I will be passing out sunglasses to all of my students because I am sure that I will glow as bright as the sun. I am a living breathing example of what I hope all of my students will become: a college graduate, a lifelong learner, and a committed goal setter. And my paycheck? That will hopefully pay for my children to attend college. My husband and children are my fourth why, but really my first.

There is one last why. Actually, two. Their names are Richard and Sharon Wills. My beloved parents. They never graduated from college even though they both valued learning deeply. Like me, they were always busy providing a living for their seven kids. They were both farm kids. My dad’s family raised dairy cows; mom’s raised chickens. They got married right out of high-school and both went to a community college on scholarships. Mom’s was in band; dad’s, in football. However, my dad would be drafted into the Marine Corps for Vietnam, and my mom would follow him wherever he went. When it came to college, they never finished what they started. My dad passed away two years ago from the Agent Orange he contracted there. As I stared at his casket draped with the American flag, I heard him tell me, “Keep going, Alice. I know what you are doing is not easy. You have 5 kids, a husband with crippling anxiety, a part-time job, and you are in college. I am so proud of you. Don’t give up. Please finish what your mom and I started.” When I walk across the UVU platform and receive my diploma, the tears down my cheeks will be the ones that my mom and dad granted me by giving me life, instilling in me my work-ethic, inspiring in me my love for learning, and most of all because of my farming heritage that will not ever allow me to give up on a worthy goal.