Monday, December 28, 2009

Two Small Things

About this time every year I start to get that funny feeling in my stomach. Too many late nights? That's a slight possibility. Too much fudge? Somewhat stronger possibility. Usually it goes away after a couple days, but this year it didn't, so between my full-time job of following the cast of The Forgotten Carols around from city to city, I snuck in a doctor's appointment. After waiting for 45 minutes in the waiting room and another 63.5 minutes in the exam room, I was finally diagnosed with Failureitis, the official term for those who have failed to live up to their expectations for themselves during the past year (per their dreaded New Year's Resolutions). It's a relatively common disease, with approximately 98% of the population suffering from it. The other 2% are all Jehovah's Witnesses, who don't celebrate New Year's, and therefore have a natural immunity to Failureitis. Which is lucky for them.

The symptoms of Failureitis are as follows (hypochondriacs, please stop reading and instead log onto for support):
Difficulty sleeping
Increased irritability
Multiplication of gray hairs and/or wrinkles
Irrepressible urge to snack
Strong daytime attachment to blankets and pillows
Sudden urge to buy a non-working farm and sit on the porch and rock for long periods of time
Bad writing

I spoke with the doctor at length about this disease. She feels I may have contracted it shortly after I told my Jillian Michaels workout DVD to go take a flying leap. That was January 3rd, but at that point my symptoms weren't yet obvious. In February I stopped balancing my checkbook, after I wrote an extra $500 into my checkbook ledger so my balance wouldn't get too low, and then the bank said I was out of money anyway. What use is that? By April I'd long since given up trying to be nice to everyone for one whole day, because all the jerks I work with made it too hard. When my kids started school in August, I had a wholesome and healthy snack waiting for them every day when they came home for the first week, then it was back to Fritos and bean dip. Fiber, you know. But it was in November that my Failureitis really started acting up. I had promised myself to keep on an even keel and not let my "moody" days get to me, but in November I snapped. Some unfortunate grocery clerk asked me very politely to "Have a nice day", and I....I said "No."

My doctor said that to cure my failureitis I must set my standards very low for 2010. Normally I wouldn't even consider such a thing, but she reminded me that Failureitis hurts everyone, not just the person diagnosed. So next year, no big goals or resolutions. Instead, I will do Two Small Things every week. Two little changes so I can cure my Failureitis without becoming a total and stagnant loser. So, even though today is only December 28th, I am starting right now. That's change number one for this week. Starting my Two Small Changes program. Change number two will be posted on my handy little change tracker to the left.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time for a Christmas Message

I read an article in the December issue of Ensign magazine that, while not a typical Christmas story, was a story of true love and unselfishness that touched my heart. Titled Dad's Lesson in Love, by Marcia Akes, it is the love story of the author's in-laws. While both of her in-laws struggled with health issues in their later years, Mom was bedridden for several years, and it was up to Dad to take care of her. Marcia tells of some sweet moments, like Dad learning to cook so he could bake Mom's favorite pies for her, or learning to sew so he could alter her clothing to make it easier to get on and off her while she was in bed. Sadly, Dad's body gave out before Mom's in the end, but he left what was essentially his deathbed in the hospital, and spent two days, "going on nothing but sheer determination", checking his wife into an adult care facility and training the caregivers on how to take care of the love of his life after he was gone. All of this was so tender, but what really slayed me was Dad's quote italicized up in the corner of the article: "I'm just a common man, with common thoughts, and I feel I've lived a pretty common life; there will never be any monuments dedicated to me, and undoubtedly my name will soon be forgotten; but I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough."

Wow. That quote seems to sum up what life is really about. I would not have been interested in an article about a man who got up out of his deathbed to make sure that the month-end accounting was finalized at the office before he died! Indeed, for the many people who don't even have an office to go to right now, money is short and love is really all there is to give this Christmas season. Let it be enough. As hard as it is not to feel depressed or discouraged when money and material things are lacking at Christmas, may I suggest that those feelings dissolve when you stop comparing what you are able to give with what others may be giving. Free gifts that make a difference include sincere thank you notes to people who have touched your life, carols and visits to those who may be lonely, gifts of time and service written up as homemade "coupons" for family members (I particularly enjoy footrubs, if any of my kids are reading this), paragraphs detailing all the good that is in someone you love, and I'm sure you can think of many better ideas.

I wish all of you a truly merry and love-filled Christmas. Jesus Christ knows all of my faults - He should, he carried them - and yet He loves me anyway. And I don't believe He loves me in spite of my weaknesses, I think he just plain loves me. I want to be more like Him.

To get an MP3 download of the article I referred to above, click here .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pancakes, anyone?

It seems to me that women generally run the activities committee in a ward. Don’t get me wrong - men are called to be on the committee too, it’s just that the women RUN the committee. The men on the committee can be spotted because they are ones wearing t-shirts that say, “I got called to the activities committee and all I got to do was set up chairs.” I’ve heard rumors, though, of a ward where the activities committee had no women on it. That’s right – all men. You’ll know if this happens in your ward because:

1. The first activity of the year will be a contest to see which teacher can finish their lesson the fastest on Super Bowl Sunday. As part of the contest, all husbands and wives must agree beforehand to drive to church separately that day. This is crucial because, let’s face it, Relief Society lessons never end early.
2. You will notice a sudden increase in pie eating contests
3. Early morning pancake breakfasts will be officially banned. In fact, anything with the words “early morning” in it will be banned.
4. The “Best Costume” award at the ward Halloween party will go to the man with dirty socks pinned to his shirt who’s going as Static Cling, rather than the sweet little ballerina from the Sunbeam class.

You’ll want to know right away if the man in your life ever gets put on the activities committee, and you will. Your first clue will be a conversation that goes something like this:

Him: Honey, I have a meeting with the activities committee in 5 minutes. Do you have any good ideas?

You: Ummm, I hadn’t really thought about it.

Him: Now, hon, I heard the bishop ask you if you would support me in my calling and you said yes. I really need your help here.

You: Well, hmmm…how about a sit down dinner for couples? You could get the youth to be the waiters, it could be really fun.

Him: I don’t think so. That wouldn’t be inclusive of the single members of our ward.

You: I guess you’re right. How about a cowboy style cookout?

Him: Not inclusive of the ward vegetarians.

You: A talent show?

Him: Not inclusive of the non-talented people in the ward. Wait, I know! We could have a pie eating contest!!

You: (sigh)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Did I miss Christmas?

So far this December I have:

* Tried to put a 4 ft angel on a 6 ft tree. Those meaurements are approximate, but let's just say that it took 5 strips of duct tape to get my huge-y angel to stand upright. Luckily, my son has every color duct tape there is (including tie dye), so he was able to contribute some white tape that blends right in. sorta.

* Skipped my first rehearsal for the Messiah. Yes, that's right, this year I made the cut to play my violin in our community sing-along version of the Messiah. This is an unpaid but prestigious position that I clinched by sending note-shaped cookies to the powers-that-be. Then I missed the first of only two rehearsals. I hope I'm not fired. I had a good reason!

* Tried to wait up for hubby when he went to the ASU game with his amigos. Unfortunately, the act of getting married some moons ago activated a sleepy gene in me that causes me to fall asleep at 10:30, no matter where I am. Hubby found me on the couch with some No-Doz in my hand at 11:00, fast asleep. Well, I tried.

* Received a random cake. German chocolate, too, my favorite. The sweetest teenage girl in the world showed up at my door tonight and gave me a big ol' chocolate cake that she made for me because, to paraphrase a wise sage, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." It made my day, thanks MG!

* Heard about a weirdo vendor at Tempe Marketplace trying to sell some sort of smoke vapor machine that mixes straight nicotine with water vapor for a new smoking experience. He came right out and told my LDS friend that it was okay for him to smoke because of a "loophole" in the Word of Wisdom - this little cigarette replacement doesn't actually contain any tobacco. Yeah, I was never worried about the nicotine anyway.
(Don't know what the Word of Wisdom is? Find out at

* I also: learned that even a stuffed SpongeBob with the creepiest pop-out eyes in the world will get taken at a yard sale if it's free, sold 2 things on Ebay, was forced to clean out my garage, got yelled at in Spanish, used my fireplace, saw the cutest smile I'd ever seen on the face of a little boy hugging a stuffed Piglet, hung outside lights with the help of our neighborhood cardiologist (I'm so scared of heights that it's good to have a specialist nearby, just in case), AND wore my favorite Old Navy jeans three times in a row before I washed them. Don't judge me, I'm conserving water.

It can't possibly be only the sixth! Merry Christmas, if I'm still coherent by then.