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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...

straight up legit

Teacher observations are something that I've been through before and done well at. But this one went so perfectly that I think I'll never have a better one in my life.

I teach Digital Journalism, so I need to hit curriculum points for the differing categories that my course falls under for my students' graduation requirements. It's a lot to juggle, I'm sure all the teachers can imagine. As I planned for the evaluation today, I wondered if I would do well or if I'd be seen as a wreck of a teacher. I haven't felt like a wreck, but that someone looking from the outside in thing has provided many a reality check throughout the years!

So anyway. I was given high praise for my "excellent classroom community" and for the caliber of student progress, and so much more. And I just feel so legit. It's the one word that keeps rising to the top, and it's simply perfect. I am a legit professional educator now. It's a fact I need to remind myself when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

There is no better feeling than this right now. I needed to be praised for something good and given credit for my efforts. I am thankful for it all too. 

twenty people—part two

Last week, I began this two-part post with Twenty People—Part One, and this week, I will finish it.

11. CTD. This person has been an answer to prayers in the midst of winter, a friend I never could have known would come into my life, and a treasure to hold forever. Taught me about the number eleven being lucky, so I guess it's pretty much perfect that I couldn't think of anyone else to go here. Doughnuts, photography, and Texas will never be the same for me again.

12. My neighbors, Elise and Crys and Carrie and Amy and Leigh. These women have seen me at my worst and always make me feel like I am the best. They've heard me yelling at my kids and have helped me clean my house and cheered me up when all I could think to do was cry. Their friendship has made all the difference as I travail this time in my life.

13. My children. These people, as I brought them each into the world, made an impact all their own. Each one has taught me how to be a better person by becoming a better mother to them. My oldest has shown me how to overcome all hard things—with a smile, forgiveness, and a fistful of shoelaces. My oldest boy pushes me to learn how to laugh at the ridiculous and sad things in life. My youngest daughter shows me what goals and dreams are all about as I watch her become more than I ever could. My youngest continues to calm my soul with his sweet nature. I love them. They keep me going when I feel like I have nothing left.

14. My Great Aunt Laura. This lady has given me so much love since I can ever remember. I guess she even bought a custom blessing gown for me as a baby, so the special loving care began long before I can remember. She taught me how to be a go-getter and family organizer. She misses my mother as much as I do, I believe, so when I need someone to really understand me, I know she's the one to call. I don't know what I'll do whenever it is that she leaves this earth. Her stories beat the band and those hugs too.

15. My sisters-in-law. I don't know about you, but I think any woman who can befriend an only daughter as strong-willed as I am deserves a medal. I love each of my brothers' wives for their unique gifts and talents and how they love my brothers with such determination. We have a gifted chef, a renowned musician, a family educator and massage therapist, and an all around talented cook/baker/writer combo friend to all. These qualities are merely what stand out at first glance too. Each of them have so much to give, and I am thankful for how they make our family so dynamic.

16. My high school choir director, Dr. Jensen. I was failing at life my senior year of high school, but this amazing musician gave me a chance and made me the Second Soprano section leader. I didn't do much, but it gave me a sense of belonging and importance that I needed very much at the time. And I'll never forget that vote of confidence she gave to me. Years later, I learned that she and my English teacher, Mrs. Martin (see part one), were actually friends of my mother's, so all the support they gave me made a lot more sense. I felt truly watched over some days as they taught me to love music and literature, respectively.

17. Dr. Dean and Suzy Bills. I had a lot of teachers at the university who helped me on my way, but these two women seemed to know that I needed something more than grammar and editing instruction. I needed compassion too—and they gave it full measure.

18. My first boyfriend, Oscar. What a wild thing to be able to say you've known someone since you were thirteen years old, kissed and broke up, and are still friends. It's almost unbelievable. I am thankful for him teaching me how to love by letting me love him when I didn't even love myself.

19. My visiting teachers when I wasn't going to church. There is Kaye Wesson and two others who made all the difference. I feel terrible that I can't remember their names, but nevertheless, they are partly why I was able to get back to my roots sooner than later. They would drop off notes and treats and be so patient with my twenty-something, heathen self. Kaye would drop off amazing banana bread. And the other two ladies were there to be my friends to sit with when I was new and afraid no one would accept me. I owe them for where I am today.

20. My grandparents. Words cannot express what they mean to me. I don't even know where to start. They have been around long before I was born, so their impact on my life is older than I am. I love them. They have been such a source of comfort to my children and me. Their large hearts and quiet ways teach me how I want to be. They are such a light to my world.

I know, I sort of cheated and did way more than just twenty people. But it just seemed right. I hope you don't mind.

Who would you put on your list?

Seeking to Become - February 2017

It has been so very long since I shared my scripture reading and spiritual goals with all of you. Maybe it's because I don't feel safe to share. Maybe part of it is because I've been hanging on by a thread. But I do want to share and hang onto hope and my faith in God and good things to come. So—I will try to begin again. A fresh start on this thing.

I've been reading this one passage, 2 Nephi 4:16-20, in the Book of Mormon (along with continuing further on) nearly every day for the past month to remind myself of who I am and how I want to be and to whom I should look for comfort:

16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
 17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
 18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
 19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
 20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
I have been wretched. I have done things I wish I had more strength to withstand. Even still, I can attest that God has been my support through my sorrows and challenges, both self-created and subjected to by others—my wilderness. I have been upheld by my faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. The power I have felt keeping me afloat when I can only see myself sinking has been awe inspiring. I have been preserved through such sadness that I might keep going to help my family and myself. 

This coming month, I hope to seek to become more trusting in His support. I want to do better at remembering that I will receive what I need because I always have—somehow. I hope that anyone who might read this will please join me. I would very much like to hear from anyone wanting to try this experiment with me. 

twenty people—part one

As promised in my introduction to my Word of the Year bit last week, Impact, I am making a list of twenty people who have made a positive impact on my life. I will share ten this week and ten next week. They aren't in any particular order besides choosing my parents to begin with since they are how I began life on this earth.

1. My parents. They made me and gave me a foundation of the gospel and a respectable heritage to grow from.

2. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mannion. She helped me soar. I didn't realize it at the time, but having quiet reading time in the corner while most other children were still learning to read made all the difference for me.

3. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Jarrett. Learning how to make butter in class and getting a pile of happy birthday letters from every child in class made a great impression on my young mind. I saved those letters and have them to this day.

4. My second grade teacher, Ms. Lorence (turned Mrs. Misday the following summer). She taught me beginning cursive and how to love the Pittsburg Steelers. Both have helped me in my journey thus far.

5. My (not so) little brothers—all five of them. Each of these guys has helped me feel important at different times in my life. Without them, I don't think I would be the say things like it is person that I am either. I'll never forget how they just let me take care of going through my mom's side of the bed after she died. I needed that so much, and they just let me sort through it all and take my time.

6. My BFF forever, Melissa. I don't know what I did to deserve someone to love me through so much dumb crap over the years, but somehow I qualified. There are too many times to count or write about here, but I think that just knowing she thinks I'm awesome helps me through some of my loneliest moments.

7. My eleventh and twelfth grades English teacher, Mrs. Martin. This teacher never let me slide. She would write in her blood red ink, "I know you can do better than this, Laura," and give me a bad grade on a decent by someone else's standards paper because she knew I could do better. I hated her for it then, but deep down, I respected her for it. I am that type of teacher now, and I owe her for that unwavering teacherly love that expects the best from each student. That bar she made me reach for was part of what kept me grounded during a terrible time in my life.

8. My cousin, Sara. This one is hard to write about because we don't talk anymore. I don't understand entirely why, so maybe that's why it's hard to write about her. Regardless, she made a very positive impact on my life as my very first best friend in the whole world. She and I were inseparable at every family function our two families attended, and what added to the frequency was that our moms were very close in age sisters who loved to spend time with each other. We would laugh and make mischief with our siblings and other cousins. She would send me giant boxes of hand-me-downs. We were pen pals for many, many years. I loved her so much and looked up to her so much. She was a cooler than cool California girl, so I learned style and how to be around boys from her. I saw her shine with so many talents, and I feel blessed to have had that time to be so close to someone so wonderful.

9. Across the street neighbors, Lou and Peggy. There was this couple across the street growing up who would let us come over and swim each summer—all summer long. Unless they were having a party with their friends, their pool was open like a rec center to us. My first memory of swimming was in that pool even though I don't recall learning to swim but just being able to. So anyway. I think I remember them with such fondness because they were always so sweet to me and my little brothers. They were bikers with tattoos all over who smoked and drank a lot, but to me, all I saw was Lou and Peggy who came and rescued my little brother off a rusty nail when my parents were gone, and the Peggy who helped do my hair before my carpool picked me up for ballet class, and the sweet people who let us swim all day long in their pool across the street from our house. I wish I knew their last name and where they moved to, so I could thank them.

10. My divorce attorney, Wendy. Divorce changes people. It's like a hurricane/earthquake/tsunami/flood/drought/famine for the soul. And I had Wendy to help me through that terrible time. I prayed to know who to hire, you know. I did. I prayed and pondered over the list of attorneys on the state bar website. And I found Wendy. I don't think I can ever repay her for how hard she worked for an unemployed, no longer a stay home mom, student, single mother. She fought for my family and me like I had all the money in the world, and then even gave of her friendship and kind heart. One Christmas when things were just dragging on with no relief in sight, and things had been just hard news after hard news, she bought annual passes for each of us to the local water park/fun center/discount movie theater, so we could have somewhere to go to get out of the house without costing money. I won't ever forget how much she helped us in ways outside of her paid role in my life. She became my friend.


It took me long enough to find this one word. This one little word. My word of the year. Yet as I look at it in its simplicity and strength, I know the wait was worth it.

I was reading the Internet, as per usual. Some people like to give it a fancy name like content curation, but I prefer the former. It wreaks of honesty. But I digress. I was reading and ran across a writing prompt, which is not unusual, but this one struck me. It prompted everyone within its reach to "Make a list of 20 people who have had a positive impact on your life" (I am still compiling my list of twenty people, so it will have to be next time that I share it, but I am on track.). 

As I read this simple sentence, one word stood out from the rest, and I felt the music and poetry of my life rush about me and to whom I owe so much. In that moment, I decided to heed the call, but not to leave it there, but to watch for all the ways that I make an impact on others and to make it a good one as much as I can and to watch for all the ways that others make an impact on my life and to focus on the good and cast off the bad. I want to witness how my choices bring me closer to being on someone else's list. 

This year I will focus on the impact of human kindness on the world because I try to be more a part of it. I will focus on recognizing the impact my choices make on others—whether good or bad—and do what I can to make things right. I want to make an impact on the world that I can be proud of. And I will begin examining that with this one little word for 2017.