Featured Post

This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

Les Misérables: Movie Review

I do not claim to be a big shot film critic; however, I do take claim to the fact that I have eyes, ears, and a heart.

Going in, I thought I had never been exposed to Les Misérables in any of its forms. I knew for certain that I had never been fortunate enough to have seen it on the stage; therefore, I assumed I didn't know its story. (I bought Victor Hugo's book awhile back, but have not read it yet!) The film's soundtrack music had escaped my notice because I had been too distracted by heavier things to take time to click on even one of the numerous links whirring past me on Facebook and Twitter.  Out of all my several friends and acquaintances, no one could join me, so there was no pre-viewing anticipatory  conversation.

The movie theater was packed like a can of sardines, but since I had made the fortunate mistake of choosing the handicapped seating, I had two seats to myself. I spread my short legs across the other seat, laid out my long, puffy jacket like a comforter snuggling up with my caffeine-free diet cherry Coke and my purple monkey that pretty much begged to go to the movies for a photo-op. (Yes, I did feel awkward having a stuffed monkey with me and no children, but I will endure just about anything in order to indulge in purplicious shenanigans.)

Then, the movie started.

My senses told me that I knew this story. I had felt the anguish and hope of Jean Valjean; I had seen the mercilessness of Javert; I had stepped into the shoes of Fantine, but when? My mind kept flashing back to a different movie--a non-musical version--when I was with my parents. Once the music burst from Jean Valjean's lips, I was flooded with emotion. Seeing a CD case with the iconic Les Misérables cover art on my mother's book case by the large window in her kitchen. And the performances of the many actors and actresses transformed the flashes of past memory into a wild and joyous experience in the present.

The connection of past to present made the movie all that much more wonderful to me, yet it stands alone in its merit. There are those who criticize some of the actors for not singing up to snuff with performances they've seen in London or Los Angeles or New York. As I said before, I have not seen any stage production of Les Misérables, but I do not need to in order to say that these actors and actresses were amazing. No, Russell Crowe should not go into professional stage singing. His performance was stellar nonetheless. And as for the criticisms of Amanda Seyfried--a load of hogwash. I find her singing voice to be like a songbird that I never could be but always longed for. I feel sorry for the catty and backbiting sorts of critiques that have peppered the internet. These people who performed for the world are PEOPLE. With FEELINGS. Don't be so rude about your dislikes of this or any other performance. There are ways to communicate dislikes without putting artists and actors on the rack for public torture.

Another, more priceless, aspect of this story is the allegory of Christ's redemption which is threaded throughout the lives of each character. The example that stands out most poignantly for me is how Fantine makes mistakes, even commits dreaded sin, yet she is Jean Valjean's angel leading him back to God. I was able to see, within a secular movie, my faith strengthened and renewed. I was reminded that liberty and love are in my grasp, that God does not forsake even the lowliest of his children. I was brought to realize how blessed I am to not be as lowly and impoverished as those portrayed in the film, as those somewhere in the world are right now. My humanity was touched to the core.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about going to see this film to go.

Five out of five stars

Polka Dot Purple goes to the movies.

Top Ten Readers' Choice 2012

Reading through these ten blogs, I realize how my words are not my own. Each one has been inspired by someone else. I give each of you who have made these rise to the top my thanks for being, recognizing, and sharing my inspiration. 

As in all truly fabulous countdowns, we shall start with ten in order to lead up to the Number One Readers' Choice.


10. Purple Pancakes

9Without Them, Life Would Be Miserable

8. Sunlight and Supernovas

7. The Best Mostaccioli Recipe Yet Written

6. Thirty Days of Gratitude

5. Top Ten -licious Words Every Geek Should Know

4. My Heart Exposed

3. WANTED: Awareness, Respect, Acceptance

2. Short People Problems and Painting

1. Heartbreak Hotel: Lunchroom Edition

Thoughts On Silence

Do you ever get so full of silence that you feel you might burst, but since it's silence, nothing comes out? That is where I am right now.

The roller coaster of my life has been whipping me around and taking me for plunges and climbing many a hill, yet I don't think I am overburdened by it anymore. Most days, I am able to focus on what is going right or what positive thing might come from the current hardship. And I can't thank all of you enough for your encouragement when I happen to allow myself to indulge in negative attitudes. Your words truly make a difference, changing the course of my day.

So, why do I feel like this? Is it the calm before the storm? Is it a bizarre form of nervous anticipation for what is to come? I don't know, but I feel ponderous as all get out and don't know what to do with myself.

Purple Pool Balls

I don't know about you, but I have this thing for playing pool. My dad got me started at a young age by buying a custom table for in our family room. It had leather pockets and bright turquoise felt.  We'd have family tournaments and on-going rivalries between each of us, and then friends would come over and mix things up a bit from time to time. One of my brothers was even the junior high school champ one year. Now that I think of it, I wonder how his grades were that year...

I've never really gotten very good at pool ever, but I am not terrible at it either no matter how long it goes between games. I think it's because playing pool is just part of me. It doesn't hurt that there are two purple balls either. Seriously.

A friend of mine and I played a few games the other day, and it was rejuvenating to talk and play a game I have loved for as long as I can remember.

Do you have a game or hobby you began learning as a child and still participate in as an adult?
Please share--I would love to hear from you.

looking too far ahead

I have abandoned my love project for too long.

The reason I say this is because, instead of constantly reflecting on where I am in life in the now, I have been allowing myself to get caught up in wishing life to be different. Wishing doesn't make me happier though. I get to romanticizing my world, and it just isn't that word. There is nothing of the wonderful part of romance in my life. I have the dramatic and pining part down—the princess wishing for a rescue, but not the deep, abiding mutual care that is so essential. It's not even a good time for me for some miraculous rescue to happen. I wouldn't know how to trust anyone just yet and knowing this about myself hurts. But it is the truth. It is real.

I don't know if I'm making any sense whatsoever, but I just want you to know that I am feeling my lack of romantic love quite keenly, even feeling quite alone and pitiful, and I want to stop wishing for this elusive and possibly non-existent for me aspect of human existence.

The realization that I was in a mess came as I tortured myself with the lovely film Young Victoria (2009). The accuracy of much of it coupled with the stunning costuming and amazing lines provided me with the perfect storm. I actually got to crying so sloppily over all this stuff that I had mascara streaming down my face as if I were playing in some ridiculous, sappy chick flick after the main character gets dumped or something. My lack of grounding myself in reality hit hard, and I am left here writing in an attempt to make sense of why I cried out loud into the dark night at a movie that cannot give me answers.

Here is the song that broke me down. It says everything I wish to find and enjoy one day. if ever.

I realize that some of you might want to tell me things like It will get better; You are loved already; or even You will find someone when the time is right, but please don't. I've heard them all. I believe them at least a little bit too. But I just can't hear it right now. It won't help. It's not happening now, so I think it will be better for me, healthier, to stop looking that far ahead. I need to recognize now and let that sink in enough, so I can start breathing again.

Shoelaces for Christmas

Shoelaces for ChristmasShoelaces for Christmas by Craig S. Buehner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While this is a shorter length book, Shoelaces for Christmas by Craig S. Buehner packs a whole lot of story into its few pages. The story starts out at a gripping pace and never lets off the gas.

This is a story of how life's challenges and the suffering of others changes a young man's perspective on what Christmas and even what life means to him. I was compelled to read and read until I had it finished. There is never a slow moment--only layers of meaningful expressions teaching about life and love and the gift of Christmas. 

My heart was truly touched as I was moved to tears by this beautiful story, and I encourage everyone to give it a read. You'll be glad you did.

View all my reviews
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for this honest review, as well as a copy to give away to one of you lucky readers. Merry Christmas!

Seeking to Become - December 2012

...Because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1 John 4:9-11

Spending the past month or so pondering on 1 John Chapter 4 in The New Testament has led me to know what I want to focus on this month for Seeking to Become and ever after: learning to love as God loves.

Let us look to the Lord's perfect example of love. He loves continually no matter what we do. He sent his Son to establish His gospel and atone for our sins. And by him providing that example for us--his children--we must have the divine ability to love continually as well. I do not think it an easy task, but it is a simple task. It boils down to seeing what needs to change and doing it.

I will seek out ways to be more patient, kind, and peaceful especially in difficult situations. It is very easy to be kind and patient when things are going well, but it is in the challenging moments when we (our resolve to love) will be tested. Love does not mean take people's garbage when they treat you ill, but it means to not harbor grudges, express love after having to discipline a child, and working things out and saying you're sorry when problems arise. Forgiving others translates into love.

Please join with me in seeking to become more loving to everyone regardless of how they treat you in return so that we might enjoy the peace that will come from seeking to be more like the Father and his Son, the Savior, even Jesus Christ. 

the (dis)enchanting

On broken wing we swiftly fly away
To find the world we loved
Never to see what we thought we had
Now knowing, disbelieving, 'twas at bay

Hopes for tastes of perfect beauty, peace,
Remain trapped within a dream
Where everything we might believe
Was and is arrived in Paradise

Dedicated to the victims and their families of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. 

related link: Hug Them a Little Tighter

Hug Them A Little Tighter

As a hundred witty musings were whirring through my head, I read a tweet. It said that there was a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. And I mused no more. Floods of disturbing details inundated my timeline and my heart.

This event is a tragedy. Every single time a deranged or calculating killer strikes out against the innocent public, we are yet again reminded of the brevity of life, the precious few moments we have with our loved ones, and that everyone makes a mark on everyone else's lives somehow--whether it is for good or ill.

I don't have any answers as to why this happened, but I do have some thoughts on how we can live each day so, that if it is our last one with our loved ones, we will be at peace as much as possible. On these occasions, I have often imagined myself in the position of the family of victims because of certain factors at play in my own life. These things really steal my breath away. I mean, what sets these people off? What does it look like in daily life when someone is about to crack in such horrific ways? Is it possible to see warning signs and what are they?  These are my thoughts. So, I have pondered on what I can do to live in a way that I might not have regret if my family is ever instantly taken from me, no matter the cause.

These suggestions are things I try to implement daily:

Hug your children every single day--no matter how naughty or irritating they might be. Hold them when they cry. Hug them a little tighter all the time.

Call, text, email, write a letter, tweet, post a message on Facebook--whatever--if you are thinking of someone and want them to know you care. Just do it. Now.

Be aware of people's feelings and try to help if they need to talk.

Be a friend to the friendless. Seek out loners and be as much of a friend as they will allow.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and encourage someone who seems more than just a little sad to get help.
The list could go on and on, but my point is there's nothing like piling up a mountain of I wish I hads only to be crushed by it when tragedy strikes.

My heart goes out to everyone involved in the Connecticut tragedy as well as all the others. Our society seems to be plagued with these type of terrible events. Please know that my prayers are with you.  

the dearness of a friend

How does a person measure
     how much a friend is treasured?
How can one tell the value
     in what mere words allow you?

Once a soul touches your heart
     never is there thought to part.
Friendships such as this are few.
     Once realized, love ensues.

Priceless tender memories
     Many days gone by
     Private trials borne
To finally be at Peace

Kind, generous, and friendly
     an honor to have known her
     My heart will forever keep
Remembrance of this lily

Dedicated to my dear friend
Tomilyn Stone Malkiewicz
(December 13, 1971 - December 25, 2007)

12 . 12 . 12

With ecstasy, I reach for yet another word

To tell the world of what I've seen and where I've been,

Wishing a purple hue may ever paint your view.

the little space heater

OR The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Waking up in a 55 degree Fahrenheit house makes one grateful for a few things.

First, shelter tops the list. If the house was that cold, you can bet it was significantly colder outside the protection of walls. Second, blankets. Without nice, warm blankets, we could not have slept through the night as soundly--or at all. Third, a working furnace. It's amazing how much we take for granted until it is no longer at our beck and call.

Last, but certainly not the only other thing I have become keenly thankful for since my furnace broke down, this little heater that my parents gave me around fifteen years ago. As you can well see, it's junky and old--even is jalopy-looking enough to possibly be broken. However, looks can be deceiving...

Long story short--we thought the furnace was fixed, but it decided to stop working again in the middle of the night, and so I thought of the little space heater my parents handed down to me since they didn't need it anymore, turned it on in the hallway between my children's rooms, and prayed it would keep them warm enough until morning.

And it worked.

I never thought that a funky junky, old little heater like this one could be such a Godsend, but it certainly proved its worth last night. Thank you once again, Mom and Dad, for kicking down all your old stuff to me. You were and always will be the best.

The Snow Lay On The Ground

As I take pause to reflect on snow, Las Vegas, and Christmas time, I am reminded of my mother and a favorite Christmas carol.

Growing up in Las Vegas meant not seeing much snow, if any, except for during our annual sledding excursions to Mt. Charleston. While this might cause some people to have an aversion to snow, I think that's why I have such an affinity for it.  I can't seem to take enough pictures or stare long enough as it falls--I am in complete awe of its radiance and how it affects any landscape.

When I think about our snowless Christmases, back in my parents' home, I am reminded of how my mother played a part in encouraging my love of snow. She was the one packing the van with blankets, food, and hot chocolate; making sure everyone had as many layers of socks on but would still allow feet to get into our shoes; and singing Christmas songs all the way to Mt. Charleston. (My dad seemed to enjoy it plenty, but he was definitely not the concertmaster on these gigs.) Once we drove around a bit and found a good spot, they let us play until there were too many of us whining, and then we'd make the trek home with an ice chest full of snow if were were lucky.

I am also reminded of another way snow was brought into my life--through music. Mom always pointed out how Jesus was born in Bethlehem and it probably wasn't actually snowing there at the time, but for some reason she seemed to play carols about snow the most--or maybe those are just the ones I remember most because they weren't accurate. Who knows?

So anyways. When we were dividing up her belongings after she passed away, I ran across her Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD, The Spirit of Christmas (1996) and remembered how she used to blast it in the kitchen while baking Christmas cookies enough to stock every home within a ten-mile radius. I play this CD so much during Christmas time that it has become part of the fabric of the season for me and hopefully for my children too. I never thought I would care so much about a CD, but I must tell you it moves me to tears every time I listen to a particular song: The Snow Lay On The Ground. If I am actually hearing the song, it doesn't matter what's going on, I stop and let the music blanket my soul and I am with her in that kitchen so long ago feeling her warmth and love of music even better than I did when I was actually there because I see her now. I understand what mothers go through, what sacrifices they make. I understand the importance of surrounding myself with godliness. I understand better, by not having her close, how beautiful she made life with what she had to offer. I believe I have learned to appreciate her divine and infinite worth.

When I think of snow, I think of my mother which turns me closer to my God and Savior, and thus awe and wonder are beyond justified.

The recording in this video is not near as good as the one I have, but it will give you a sense of the what the song sounds like, at least.

conveyance of feeling

Overwhelmed and suffocating, yet finding joy in the small and precious moments.
Reaching for a lifesaver, wishing for a boat to remove me from all the madness.
Finding silence to be a healer--a vehicle for my mind to reach calmer waters.
Attained gratitude for what makes life worth living despite the constant havoc.
Saturated with friendship washing over me from near and far, surprising.

Hopeful against the odds. Smiling through the tears.
Loving and loved, continually striving.

i {heart} dancing

Dance has changed me.

I went to church and school dances religiously growing up, so I already knew that I enjoy dancing. However, when I signed up for this beginning social dance class I had no clue what I was in for. The high life of making friends who can dance, experiencing the rejection of wallflowers—although I am not one, trying my hand (or rather my feet) at competition, and witnessing first-hand the glorious beauty of excellent dancing has brought me to the realization how very much I adore dancing.

While I have no plans to get into championship dancing, my glint of excitement turned into a fiery blaze of enchantment in the midst of watching the pre-championship level dancers. The glitter-encrusted women up close look almost freakish, yet once they are on the floor, the glitter, rhinestones, flashy makeup, and outrageous costumes create a charismatic showcase. All the pop and glow is part of the dance—the presentation and mood of the individual dancers. There were comediennes, clothed strippers, show girls, and dancers more like Elegance personified than I have ever beheld. The style and showmanship required to make it to the top makes dance more magical.

The dance experience has added sparkle to my perspective: music has more meaning in its rhythms; high heels hold more allure; and, as a woman, I feel the power of my femininity much more poignantly as I move across the dance floor with confidence.