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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...

I made it to the end—barely.

Going, going, and then falling asleep sitting up. I'm too busy. I make myself this way sometimes, but other times, it is from simple daily life with children, work, aspirations, and every other good thing.

I am tired. I've read slices about being tired or exhausted, and I have to tell you that things don't really get easier. Things just change to be what we've wanted all along.

I've imagined myself sleeping even, and I find myself wishing I had one more week until poetry month. I wish that extra time could be real.

what I'll leave behind

I don't have floorboards, so I'll find baskets or storage bins.
I'll find something to hold memories within. 
Between the layers of schoolwork and drawings I’ll leave:
Notes for my children, sporadic and heartfelt. 
All the worries and doubts I never voiced. 
A list of chances I took that didn't pan out. 
Piles of photographs printed yet never framed. 
Ideas that saw the light of day—and some that were buried with time.
The wish I could have gotten the better of laundry instead of it getting me. 
Journals peppered with words I never intended to be read but wrote down anyway. 
Love. Remembrance. Faith. Thanksgiving for this life I've been given. 
Tucked in boxes, bins, and baskets, I'll place these things for someone to find.
What will you leave behind? 
Words inspired by this slice: Underneath My Floorboards

first day back

Lying down in front of the computer, I stare at the blank canvas called a post box, and I just don't know what to write. 

Exhaustion is my friend after my first Monday back to school from spring break. The Easter candies haunt me in my sleep. I enjoyed so much sugar that I'm sure my doctor will want to put me on a diabetes watch list (no joke). Also, I wrote so much over the past four weeks that I don't really know what anyone would care to know about. 

There has been no focus to organize any of these slices. The only theme has been me. Nearly a month's worth of slices of my life. And I have loved it even if writer's block keeps me up, and I won't let it steal my claim to fame of completing five SOLSCs. I need to feel that I can finish something; I can follow through. 

And now, I am still lying on the bed wishing I were asleep. 

spring break debate

I can't be sure if having spring break is a good thing or a bad thing. 

On one hand, it seems like everyone really needs a little reset once the weather begins to turn warmstudents and teachers. Families use the time to slow down or get out of town. It feels good to take a break from the breakneck pace many of us are operating under. Spring break offers a chance to catch our collective breath. 

But then we have the other hand. Once that spring break is over, how many of you feel trunky for summerstudents and teachers alike? I plead the Fifth. So much still must be done or school would just let out until fall at spring break. It feels like the momentum to press onward gets dampened, and that doesn't help anyone to accomplish valuable things. 

I can't even wrap my mind around what I just wrote. Like, I am leaning toward no spring break, push through, get'er done, and get out of school a week earlier at the end of the school year. Who am I anymore?!

If you could have it your way, which would you choose? And why? 

celebrate and believe

Easter. A time of year when all of Christianity rejoices in the glory of the atonement and the miracle of the resurrection. I rejoice in these things. 

Without the atonement of Christ I would be a condemned soul, and the condemnation would come from myself because I would feel so hopeless in ever being able to overcome my many faults and shortcomings. Aren't we all our own worst critic? Yes. Who do we forgive first--ourselves? Never. I have learned to forgive myself better, but it is a general struggle with us humans. We want to see the best in others, but we are our own worst critics. With Jesus having suffered for all our mistakes and even our afflictions, I recognize the miracle and try to let go of guilt as I repent and work to improve myself. 

Not everyone in the world celebrates Easter. Not everyone believes in Christ. But I believe and I celebrate because with Christ, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Brother, and my Friend, I can overcome all sorrow, suffering, and sin. By his loving grace, I can live forever in glory instead of guilt. I can live forever with those I love. I can be who I am intended to become. 

volunteer and patriot

I went to my very first caucus this year, and I was elected to be a county delegate for my area. Talk about thrown into the deep end! 

After listening to what is expected of the delegates as I first walked into the room, I thought to myself, Who has time for this stuff? No one I know. Yet I saw people I know heading up the show. I don't have time for this stuff. But who will keep America strong if no one has time for it? We haven't had excellent presidential candidate options for several years because the best people aren't digging in, or maybe the best people become corrupted by digging into the process? The people I saw at the caucus are good people. I should offer to do my part if someone will nominate me. I need to use some of the time I don't really have to spend doing something to help the country I love. I will do it for my neighbors, my children, and myself. And then, I got nominated for precinct chair, didn't get it, but proceeded to let people know that if they'd like me to represent them, that I'd like to be nominated to be a state or county delegate, and it was all over from there.

The nearly four-hour process was awe inspiring, and I must say that I feel proud to have such an active sense of volunteerism as well as patriotism. Within a very short period of time, I went from an uninvolved opinion thinker to an elected delegate representing others.  

Now, I just need to learn what to do and how I'm going to do it. 

it's here

Spring is here. I see it speckling my yard now that the snow has all melted and green things are poking their sleepy heads from out of the earth. I need to go take care of them, these lovely little buds, invite them into the world, for before long spring will have sprung and summer will be here instead. 

love and friendship

They are not flat. 
Every side has something:
Creating a wellspring of hope
Tiding us over, 
Keeping us afloat. 
Time could not, would not fly. 
Something would always be missing.
Life would not be right. 
It isn't right without you. 
Friendship makes us happy. 
Love makes up for all the rest.
These things that aren't things,
They are everything. 
They are life. 

spring break 2016

Watch movies
Edit that dissertation
Grade papers
Go to the movie theater to watch a movie
Las Vegas (temple) wedding for my friend's daughter
Write letters
Set dental appointments
Pedicure—No purple or red polish! Branch out! 
Write anything
Connect with my home by cleaning it
Research publishing options for poetry book
Write slices
Breathe some more
Grade papers
Spend time with friends
Watch movies
Go outside
Avoid eating too much Easter candy
Enjoy some space to yourself!
Do NOT forget to edit that dissertation
Breathe. More. Keep on breathing.


Social media is a tricky thing because it cracks the world right open when you use it like we do. 

There are so many nooks and crannies in which to hide or misconstrue. There are so many ways to misunderstand and ways to feel things that aren’t real. But sometimes our intuition is correct, but there is no way to know if it is unless we ask for clarification, and oftentimes we can't ask anyone or there isn't a trusted source. It seems to train us to not trust our intuition. However, that isn't always the case. 

I also think about how much social media has affected my life for good, and I feel thankful for all the friends and family I've grown closer to because of this tool. Actually, my life has been quite transformed over the past three years because of social media and the connections it has created in my everyday life. I don't even recognize the person I was before the spring of 2013, and I am filled with appreciation for how simply and wonderfully change made its way into my world. 

We are able to discover new things, new knowledge, and new people, making life something to look forward to, wonderfully transforming us little by little at the click of a button. 

set aside the hats and just be

The mom hat, teacher hat, even the sister hat—any hat can overload us if we don't take a little break from time to time. Sometimes I think about these things as I run around like crazy. I think about this thing as I wrap up a weekend of helping my BFF get her daughter married off and settled into her happily ever after and all the life that lies in between. I think about how I wish I had more me. 

I wanted so very much to spend time with my cousins. I wanted to go to lunch. I wanted to go to dinner. I wanted to tie ribbons around every napkin at every place setting. I wanted to go for a walk and a hike and go to the movies. I wanted to take time to see other friends. I wanted to help clean up. I wanted to say so much. I wanted to be more mild and kind.

And now, after taking some time to contemplate my thoughts, the situation is in better focus. The tug of role reductionism was bringing me down. I didn't let it win, but I certainly felt the drag of it all upon my mind. We can get so overloaded if we don't watch ourselves. Role reduction of the self and others are what all these hats do when we lose sight of our whole self. As I contemplate each role that was weighing on me, I realize I needed to stop compartmentalizing myself and just be. 

Instead of letting feeling like I could have done more, when I know I could not, I will choose to be glad in the knowledge that I seized the day for fourth meal (even though it was actually only my third)/second breakfast (even though we didn't even eat breakfast)/elevensies (even though it was like 1:00 a.m.). Instead of wishing I could do more, I will be glad I focused all my effort to polish and help to make perfect my BFF-once-removed's special day. I am glad logistics wouldn't allow me to spread myself so thin that I might have ended up regretting not giving my all to one special moment in time. I am glad I served and loved and communicated. I am glad I set aside all the hats I wear and was just me. 

five years ago

I had this idea six years ago to write stuff on a blog, maybe post fun photographs, possibly have a place for my poetry and other musings. I posted one photo that I really liked but wasn't my own—it was a family member's photo of my purple flowers in my front yard. I like to think of that one post as my trial post and not the true beginning of things.

The true beginning was five years ago today. I graduated to using my own photograph, but the photo wasn't edited, and I had no idea what exactly I would be doing or how to get it done. I began reading every type of blog there was to read, observing what I liked and did not like, getting a feel for what it meant to have a blog. And then I ran with it. 

I joined blog groups where people support other bloggers by reading, commenting on, and sharing links. I created a button that a few people added to their own blogs to help me get the word out about something I didn't even know what it would become. On the half-birthday each year for a few years, I did some giveaways, but when I had to get busy and finish school, that little tradition had to get left behind. I really loved doing it, and it felt so nice to see who wanted to offer fun things to giveaway in celebration, but life is what it is—a demanding taskmaster. 

I am proud of myself for sticking with this one thing: I began a monthly scripture challenge entitled "Seeking to Become" five years ago in August that I continue to write. I've added a few more staples to the blog as well. It has become a home for my draft poetry and personal narrative writing, as well as my photography in varying degrees of excellence. I've done several book reviews—but none recently. I tried to get that going again this summer, but my teacher skills need to get sharper before I can split my time any further than it is already with having children at home and other pressing matters popping up at a breakneck pace. 

And then we have the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers that I've been participating in since March 2012. The overwhelming support I have received from this writing community has helped me through many challenges over the years. It has blessed my life in surprising ways, and I'm always learning from fellow slicers. I am continually inspired to keep on writing through and past the pain of daily life. I am continually cheered on and celebrated when I am tasting sweet success and joy. I cannot imagine my life without this facet of writing slices of my life. 

While I couldn't get any real party off the ground to celebrate this momentous occasion, I still want to make note of its significance in my life. I am thankful; I am encouraged; I have a place to lay my burden and not quite expect but can safely hope for supportive words to come my way. I have readership numbers that show ever increasing growth. I know people read my writing. And it feels amazing. 

I was once told that no one would ever want to read what I have to say, and for five years, I've been proving that statement wrong and doing it with a smile (most of the time). 

I feel deep gratitude for all of the time you, my readers, have given me in reading, commenting, and sharing these words of mine. You rock my world, you light my fire, you keep me writing as you give me hope that one day I will see a book of my own creation in print—and people might actually purchase it! 

Here's to the past five years and many more than five years more. Thank you! 

writing personified

Writing is my friend. With a pen in my hand and something to write on, we connect. My mind has ideas, but when I spend time putting the words together in strings of meaning, I understand more of what I want, more of what I know, and I like myself further than I ever thought possible. 

Writing shows me how kind and thoughtful I can be. Writing helps me understand the quality of my love. Writing gives me purpose when I am so full of ideas that I can hardly contain myself. Writing never lies; it just tells me what I know or even reveals what I wasn't sure about. 

Writing makes me happy. Writing offers joy. 


At this point in the challenge every single year, I begin to fail at knowing what to slice about. This story challenge pushes me to dig into my heart of hearts and sharpen my writing abilities. In other words, I tend to question said abilities right about now. 

If I am such a prolific writer, why then do I run out of ideas? Or is it simply part of it becoming routine and the novelty wearing off that puts a different lens on the challenge? Why write every day for a month? Does it actually do anything except push me into this corner? Can corners be good for us every once in awhile? 

Questions and questions and questions. All are an excuse (possibly a vehicle) for copping out on writing anything worth writing about. Or maybe I just did. 

What do you think?  

shamrocks are green

St. Patrick's Day has never been a big holiday for me growing up or even since I've been a parent; however, my mind won't let me forget about always needing to wear green or I'd get mega pinched at school. 

One St. Patrick's Day (I think it was fourth or fifth grade), I was all ready to walk to school, and my mom realized I didn't have on any green, so she pinned a cute shamrock and leprechaun pin onto my shirt to keep me safe. But the crazy thing is that I still got pinched a couple of times. I recall yelling and pulling that pin toward someone's face (still attached to my shirt) showing them how perfectly green it was, and reasoning that I deserved to pinch them double hard for that!  

Nowadays, pinching people on St. Patrick's Day for not wearing green is like totally banned from many schools, but I'm glad I had the experience. A little fear goes a long way in making a good little story. 

penny candies

Big League Chew. Penny candies. Nickel gum. Orange Tic Tacs. Slurpees. These are the things I'd save up my money for when I was a kid. 

My brothers and I would scrounge up change and make the trek down Owens to Nellis to the corner 7-Eleven, crossing the superhighway of a road that Nellis always has been (or so it seemed to my little girl self). We would load up on treats just enough to give us the strength to make it back home all sugared up ready for another row in the mud or a dirt clod fight. 

There's something that makes me smile about all that. It was so simple, and yet it means so much now that the time has passed. 

summer fires

The promise of fireside chats in the backyard have me excited for summer. Burning marshmallows and doing Dutch oven chicken are what summer nights were made for. Seeing the stars on a clear warm night that's just chilly enough to need the fire and possibly a blanket, children playing nightgames with flashlights in the park behind the house, wishing for the day to linger: these are the things that make summer something to long for. Adventure still whispering our names means summer to me. Driving in cars, going for plane rides, jaunts on the train. Trying new things, dancing in the dark, and taking time to connect and make new memories. Summer does something to us. Perspective  shifts and perception deepening each year with the sunshine on those warm, sunny days, lighting fires in hearts that never go out. 

Summer is coming. 

the tipping point

Sometimes growing up can be tricky with not really knowing what to let go of and what is valuable forever. 

I did this funny thing called grow up, but you know what's even funnier—how it didn't seem like I was growing up at all. Little by little it just happened. 

It really is difficult to tell when the scales were tipped, but I believe it could possibly have been the first time I decided to not go outside to jump on the trampoline when everyone else was going. It truly could be when I gave my Barbie collection away when I went into sixth grade because "I am too old for Barbies now."  Or maybe it was when I finally stopped dressing up for Halloween (last year). Maybe it was when I had to say goodbye to my parents. 

But then again, it could possibly have been the moment I decided not to run after the boy I like, realizing that he will come to me when he's ready. 

tiny friends

The little children see me in the hallway, and they either smile or they cry. Being the song leader at church for 1 1/2-3-year-olds has been one of the happiest things for me in a long while. These tiny people love me just because I make sure they have snacks and I sing with them for 5-10 minutes (depending on their behavior) once a week. 

The cutest thing happened when one of the little cuties' mother ran into me at the store. Her son was in the shopping cart, and she didn't call attention to me until he was right next to me, and the look of pure surprise and wonder and disbelief at how his music teacher could be at the store was priceless. I'll never forget that look. I felt so beloved as a person in that moment—even though he was rejecting reality! 

a challenge within a challenge

I miss my mom. She's left the earth for heaven for thirteen years now, but I can't seem to let this day go by without honoring her. I've decided to do something a little bigger than just my written words this year. I want to reach out to you for help. To honor her and my father, I want to challenge you. 

To anyone who reads these words, I challenge you to reach out to your parents: write a note of love and gratitude or give a phone call out of the blue right now or send a text just to say you care or find her/him/them and give a warm and generous hug. And do this for you—not for me—not for them—do it for you. 

You will thank me when the day comes that they are not there at your fingertips to love. You'll have to be like me, reaching out with faith, with all the ties that bind keeping your hope bright, looking forward to the day when you can be together again. 


Eleven is supposed to be a lucky number (I wonder who was the first person to think that up.) . . . but I digress. Since I was informed that eleven was considered lucky, my brain picks up on 11:11, day or night, and my heart makes a wish; I create top tens plus one in a list instead of top tens—kind of like a baker's dozen but one less than a dozen (if that makes any sense); and all the little moments when words on a page or numbers on a menu remind me of how knowing eleven could be lucky changed the way I see the world. 

It's amazing what a bit of perspective can do to help us feel lucky—to realize how much is going right. Sometimes it's just the sight of a couple of numbers to flip the switch. Eleven makes me happy now with two ones side-by-side, separate but a real team. And anything that simple to give someone a smile has to be pretty lucky. 

Eleven is lucky. 

the deal of a lifetime

I want a deal—not just any deal either—I want the deal of a lifetime. I want an eternal companion I can share mutual trust, love, care, and the goal of growing together forever. 

That's a lot to ask, so I figure if I give my everything and can have that, I've been given the deal of a lifetime, and I'll never let it go. 

It's hard to even wish for this to come my way since I believed I had it once already, but when only one person wants this type of deal it turns out to be more than anyone bargained for. It turns into a mess. 

So I'll just keep my eyes wide open watching for a gem. I'll keep my heart open to knowing when it is getting what it needs—the real deal, the whole shebang, the deal of a lifetime. 

always moving

Wanting to make a difference

Making room for more of what I want

Keeping watch for change to break like dawn over each horizon

a happy one

The lights flick on outside, the house begins to simmer down, and in the quiet night I realize that spring is on its way—another spring to want a garden and plant new trees, another spring to see if I can find a swing of things that will be effective. I want my garden to finally be a happy one this year. I want to look forward to the warm summer nights when I go out in the garden and watch vegetables grow and see the stars begin to pop through the dark blue fabric of night. I look forward to spring because it always offers a chance to find more of me again. 

competitive and perfect

This slice makes one week of them, and even I am wondering how I will make it through this challenge. A couple of things keep me going. 

First, how on earth can I expect my students to make it through thirty-one days of writing without me leading the charge? It would be pretty pitiful if I couldn't make it, but they did. Pih. Tih. Ful. And my competitive nature won't allow that to happen. End of that discussion. 

Second, this is my fifth year participating in this Slice of Life writing madness. It's too perfect of a streak to ruin things—at least that's what I keep telling myself each time I stay up too late or get up extra early to get this stuff busted out.

Slice of Life is worth it. The ideas, the feedback, the support, the challenge: I love it all. 

Now, I just need to get through twenty-six more slices, and I'm home free . . . until next March. 

Seeking to Become - March 2016

Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the mighty One of Israel.
Isaiah 30:29
A song in this heart and gladness of heart are things I strive to cultivate on a daily basis, but I never considered to what degree and quality I am promised them. I shall have them in full measure because God sees me and he knows my heart. He knows what I need to grow and become the magnificent person I was born to be. 

This month I want to focus on remembering this promise, letting it comfort me when times are difficult, and seeing how my song and gladness can make a difference in each day.