RSS Feed

Speaking in what isn’t said

Posted on

Every now and then, you see how beautiful people really are. And if you’re looking for it, it happens more than every now and then.

I’m sitting in Sacrament Meeting in my church ward, where I just listened to a member play a piece on the piano. It was touching, listening to her fingers flit over all those keys in rapid fire, seemingly effortless. And I say that as a person who loves music but doesn’t usually get inspired through the hymns. Music can be beautiful, and it really moves us, but I’m more of a words sort of person. That being said, I think it’s incredible that music can go where words can’t.

And it’s not only music. Think of those who paint, or work with metals or fabrics or paper. What they express may be silent, but many times those expressions speak more loudly than any amplifier. And there are others who work in movements, calling out their thoughts in dance steps and turns of their hands. There are still more who work with animals, teach children, build machines, and crack codes. There are therapists, whose entire job is to listen and yet in that silence share messages of peace and healing. And there are photographers who capture all these things in snapshots, so we can get a glimpse into what it might be like.

The reason I love to write is because of these people. They all have incredible stories, and all it takes is the right question to find them. All it takes is the right collection of verbs and nouns and adjectives to make those stories come alive. And all it takes is a word or a phrase to strike a chord with people, so they understand, if even for one second, what it might be like to be that beautiful. And that in some way or another, we’re all beautiful. I don’t say that to be cliche. I say that to remind myself that everyone is incredible in their own right, and my job is to tell their stories.

I am privileged to hear those stories. To see tears or silent strength. To hear glee and excitement. To be inspired things both extraordinary and humbled. And I am grateful that from a pile of lines and squiggles that we call letters, words are formed that become sentences that become paragraphs. Paragraphs and lines and phrases that touch people, make them think. Change them, like I was listening to those piano notes played by fingers that can say so much, just not in words.

So my question is, how do you speak?

Advertisements

An explanation, of sorts.

Posted on

I am convinced that this semester is trying to kill me. This is what I feel like:

No, no. That’s not right. That’s way too attractive for what I actually feel like. It’s a little more like this:

That’s better.

In any case, I wanted to explain a bit of what’s going on with me right now. If you read my earlier post “While you’re waiting, take a load off”, you learned that I’m going through some pretty gnarly health issues. A few days before Thanksgiving, I went to see a specialist in Sacramento. I was fairly desperate by then–if he couldn’t figure it out, I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t really study or concentrate anymore, and I was failing exams left and right (not to mention, talking incoherently–besides being a real treat to be around.)

He was able to figure it out. In about 10 minutes as well, as soon as I explained my history and symptoms.

I have a virus.

Apparently while I was serving my mission, I caught a virus (well, let’s be honest–I caught several.) In any case, this one stuck pretty well, traveling up and setting on my basal ganglia. It developed into a bacterial infection, which the doctors treated, but the virus stayed, replicating and enjoying its time in my head. That wasn’t good enough for the virus, however, because it went systemic and settled into my gut as well, traveling throughout the rest of my body and disrupting my endocrine system as well as my lymphatic system. The fact that I’ve been bloated and swollen and really sore for the past three and half years is due to the fact that the virus is causing my body to create and store a large supply of fluid, which is all in my abdomen and stomach area. It’s pushing my diaphragm up, not allowing my lungs to expand. So when I get out of breath walking to campus, it’s not just due to the ice cream.

The virus in my brain is sitting on that structure and on the packet of nerves surrounding it, causing seizure and migraine-like symptoms anytime sensory information comes to me (especially on my left side). That’s why I feel dizzy all the time–and that’s why I’d freak out when lights or sound or too much motion would hit me. The virus is just overloading my system and it can’t process things.

Here’s the basal ganglia. And what do you know? It’s exactly where all the pain radiates from! 

A virus. A tiny strand of DNA, that’s been replicating like crazy and making itself at home for over three and a half years. I learned that the anticonvulsants the neurologist put me on were the final culprit. They were cutting off the blood supply to my brain, so my already fatigued and out-of-it self couldn’t process a darn thing, much less remember it ten seconds later.

I have never been so relieved. I was so relieved that I started crying right there on the table.

So, the specialist is confident that with some additional treatment, my body can kick this virus out in about six to eight weeks. The deal is, though, that I have to get lots of sleep and rest, I have to laugh, and I can’t stress. I’m already failing at half of those, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes me a little longer to heal.

I’m so looking forward to the end of this semester. That’s why I’m going to have a Harry Potter and nap marathon. (Although I don’t really need a reason…)

So, for all those wondering why I’m still ignoring everyone, why I might get up and walk away from things, and why there will be a sign appearing on my door once I get a minute that says “Don’t bother–unless you have ice cream”, now you know. I’m going to try my best to let my Type-A self get a break for the next few months. And then? Then I can start getting back to normal again.

And that, my friends, feels so good to say.

I just need to make it through the next week, first. If any of you have funny pictures, links, videos or suggestions that will make me laugh, I will gladly take them. I’ve been watching New Girl with a crazy sort of urgency lately. It’s become my new cough medicine, and I love it.

Potter Mania.

Posted on

I decided that I was actually going to start reading Harry Potter. (Yes, yes, I know. At least I’m doing it, all right?) One of my friends offered to lend me his books, so after dinner at his parents’ one weekend, he came back, apologetically, with books 2-5.

“Well, you can start with that,” he offered.

I told him that I can’t really start a series on the second book. Regardless of the fact that I know what happens as I’ve watched all the movies, one has to start at the beginning. This isn’t a creme-filled donut.

So this Friday, off my friend and I go to the Provo City Library to get me a library card so that I can read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Out of two collections, we find a ton of books 6 and 7, some of books 5, a single book 3 and book four…and no book 1. None.

I was ready to walk out empty handed at the front doors when my friend stopped and insisted that we ask someone if they had a copy somewhere that they just hadn’t put back on the shelf yet.

“Let’s just ask this person,” he said, walking towards the security desk.

“Let’s not ask the security guard, since he won’t know,” I said.”

“I know a lot of things, try me,” the security guard offered.

“Oh, you won’t know this one,” I said.

“I need to find Harry Potter,” said my friend.

“Harry Potter, the person?” The security guard look bewildered. You could tell he was trying to figure out exactly what was going on–what conversation he had missed and if my friend was, in fact, certifiably insane.

“He wants to find the first Harry Potter book,” I interrupted.

After directing my friend to the circulation desk, I was able to explain to the security guard that my friend was not, in fact, certifiably insane–just really intent on getting me my book. However, this effort proved to be worth it: I found him at the circulation desk, waving the book around, smiling at me!

Thank goodness for great friends that make you laugh and will drive to libraries to take care of this sort of stuff.

P.S. I already finished the book. I loved every minute of it. On to The Chamber of Secrets

 

Grammar Nazi post.

Posted on

Yes, folks. I decided to give the last few hours of your Monday a little added enjoyment by adding a grammar nazi post. Hurray!

Here is the thing: I reserve the right–it’s called creative license–to make up words or dangle participles or start sentences with “because” if I think it adds flair. (Also, some of those aren’t even really grammar mistakes, so insert the onomonopia of my mouth and tongue making a raspberry at you right now.)

All that aside, I really do hate grammar mistakes. It drives me nuts when people email me in text speak and it takes me twice as long to decipher it. I will refuse to use services of establishments that spell “c” words with a “k” (especially if they are a clinic–COME ON.) I think people use way too many apostrophes.

Apostrophes are nice, peeps, but they’re not chocolate sprinkles. The bananas, managers, papers and eyebrows do not own anything. Unless they do, and then that’s a different story.

 

However, I will say this: as I was looking for fun pictures and perhaps even a video to throw up here in making fun of all those grammatically challenged, I came across the most offensive and just rude content. I’m not going to go into how awful the internet can be (I’m just grateful that social media has surpassed pornography has the number one hobby on the internet), but the only video that was actually funny ended in someone shooting himself (I think it was from Inglorious Bastards. My mistake for not looking to see what it was before I watched it.) In any case, I suppose it’s a lesson to me to perhaps be slightly nicer to those who might not have had the world’s best grammar education.

Because, you know…sometimes, you’re the hydrant. And sometimes, you do need that apostrophe.

 

While you’re waiting, take a load off.

Posted on

wait (verb): to stay in place in expectation of; to pause for another to catch up; to look forward expectantly; to be ready and available; to remain neglected or unrealized 

As I read Elder Hale’s “Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done” from this past General Conference, I was filled with a bunch of emotions…and not all of them were good.

You see, about three and a half years ago when I was on my mission, I started to get sick. Several doctors visits, a few trips to the states (I served in Canada) and a CT scan later, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I refused to go home. At the end of my mission, and several more doctors visits later, they still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I’ll fast forward a few years, many diagnostic tests, medications, doctors, therapists, and frustrations later to here: the neurologist thinks I’m having localized seizures, and they’re setting off migraine-type reactions as an aftermath. In any case, nothing is conclusive yet, and it’s making school and work interesting.

Elder Scott said, “Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? Won’t all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, ‘O God, where art thou?’ Yes!…’weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ Then in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying ‘Thy will be done.'”

What happens when you feel like you’ve been through all that and it’s only gotten worse? You’ve had the joy of the morning, but after waiting and waiting you just seem to throw your ticket in your bedside table and go back to sleep?

I’m one of those delightfully stubborn people. Type A, I believe they call us. Some call us “doers.” In any case, we don’t take no for an answer. This can be incredibly good sometimes, but when it’s God and when it’s His will and you’re fighting against it…well, kids, I think they call that “kicking against the pricks.” It wasn’t very good for Saul, and it certainly isn’t very good for me.

Do you know how many times Elder Scott said the word wait in his talk?

27.

I was told in several priesthood blessings that I would be healed from this–but not yet. Not now. That I would have to wait.

Waiting is not something I am good at. Waiting is a passive virtue, something that makes you feel that you are not actually doing anything to help accomplish the means to your end. And that’s when it hit me…we need to give up the control. We need to not only give up the control in steering the ship (because let’s face it, we’re not the captains here, and any attempts at believing that we are is a sad facade), but we need to give up control of trying to bear everything ourselves. I am reminded of something one of the elders on my mission passed along to me:

“When we are frustrated, we are taking the burdens upon ourselves, instead of letting Christ take the burdens for us.”

So while we wait the Lord we really need to weight upon the Lord.

weight (noun): a heavy object; something heavy, load; burden, pressure; overpowering force; relative heaviness

One of my stake presidents gave this beautiful talk once about the Atonement and described us taking advantage of it. He likened it to the poem Footprints (which I have always liked). He said that taking advantage of the Atonement was like that: that when you really got it, you could look over in the sand next to you and see the Savior’s feet sink a little lower with the weight of your burden. And you could breathe again. And you would just walk forward. Or you would just let him carry you, for awhile, until you could walk again. That depiction is so incredibly beautiful and moving, and yet it’s so hard for me to take into my life.

It’s not that I don’t think I deserve it. It’s just that I want to do it by myself. I want to show me that I can do it. I want to show Him that I can do it. And that’s not what He wants at all. Here He is, standing and shaking His head as I struggle beneath the weight, and all He wants me to do is reach out and give it to Him. Just hand it over, and follow beside.

“Every one of us is more beloved to the Lord than we can possibly understand or imagine. Let us therefore be kinder to one another and kinder towards ourselves, ” Elder Scott said. That reminded me of something that Elder Smith once said in a zone conference. He simply stated, “When you feel yourself being nicer to others–or being nicer to yourself, that’s a tough one–the Atonement’s working in your life.”

All I have to do is give it up. Give up the weight, and wait. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

There was a point to this juncture.

Posted on

When I lived in Minneapolis, one of my favorite places to go was the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. Although my friends usually liked to check out the new art pieces, the glass fish in the greenhouse, or the iconic cherry spoon bridge…

(And yes, my friend climbed this one night while drunk, much to my dismay)…

My favorite was always the benches sculpture. (This person has several pictures of this sculpture, and I suggest looking through them.)

Enclosed in a patch of trees were a square set of stone benches with quotes carved into them. And these quotes would make you think. These quotes would make you stop and evaluate things. Sometimes it would be raining when I’d find the benches, and I’d think to myself how perfect it was as I walked along, reading each one and pondering.

My friends never really understood why I loved those benches. They certainly didn’t understand why I wrote some of the quotes down.

I found some of those quotes tonight. I thought I’d share them, in case you’d like to know what it was like, looking down at the granite in the rain in the middle of the clearing.

 

You should limit the number of times you act against your nature. Like sleeping with people you hate. It’s interesting to test your capabilities for a while but too much can cause damage.

By your response to danger it is easy to tell how you have lived and what has been done to you. You show whether you want to stay alive, whether you think you deserve to and whether you believe it’s good to act. 

You can make yourself enter somewhere frightening if you believe you’ll profit from it. The natural response is to flee but people don’t act that way anymore.

You can watch people align themselves when trouble is in the air. Some prefer to be close to those at the top and others want to be close to those at the bottom. It’s a question of who frightens them more and whom they want to be like.

It takes awhile before you can step over inert bodies and go ahead with what you were trying to do.

 

I guess it’s just always nice to know that there are other people out there that feel like you do. You don’t have to know them; you just have to know that they exist. That’s enough to keep moving forward.

 

Emotional bottlerockets…and puppies.

Posted on

repress (v): to put down by force; to hold in by self-control; to prevent the natural or normal expression, activity, or development of

In the grand tradition that is dysfunctionality and coping, I have developed my repression skills fairly well. I don’t enjoy crying in front of others (many would argue that after the last two weeks, but I maintain that spinal headache-induced tears do not count.) However, repression is a tricky thing. You see, if one gets skilled at it, one is likely to have a chemical reaction sooner or later–in the form of an explosion or an implosion. I think mine’s more of the latter. I keep thinking it’ll be the former, but I’ve gotten too good at this repression bit.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m just wanting to share with you the important advice that comes with experience: don’t become an emotional bottlerocket. It’s not fun, and it doesn’t look like Mentos and Pepsi.

 

So, until I can let it all out, I’m working on ways to deal. Which moves me on to the happy portion of this blog post:

   This is Charlie. He being adopted out through the Cavalier Rescue USA in Salt Lake City. His mom died in January, and although he’s in foster care right now, he’s in need of a home. I WANT THIS DOG. I want nothing more than to hug him and take him for a walk and let him sleep him my bed tonight. And yes, I realize I’m nearing the YouTube E-Harmony cat lady. I don’t care. This dog is adorable. ADORABLE!

So what is the happy portion? Dogs are therapeutic. I’m going to see if I can pull some strings to get one–probably not Charlie (unfortunately), but fostering those like Charlie who are waiting for people who want doggie additions to their homes. We’ll see what happens. I would love to come home and be greeted by a wagging tail and a wet nose.

Also, if any of you are looking for a great dog, Charlie is your man. Not convinced?

 

How can you resist a face like that?!?