Wednesday, January 20, 2021

08.30.2019 -- Fish or Cut Bait

I'm a nerd. Proof? I just looked up the definition of nerd and looked at four different sites.

As a nerd, I looked for the etymology of "fish or cut bait." See, I thought I knew what it meant, but I'm often wrong and (more often that that) learn a lot by looking stuff up. (Thanks, Mom!)

Lots of times, when people look for the origin of a word or expression, the word or expression can be traced back definitively. Other times, there are different theories about how the word or expression came into use. "Fish or cut bait," for example!

According to a few not-exhaustively searched internet sources, this expression may have/probably started with fishermen who were faced with a choice to either keep a fish or cut it up for bait. Another explanation (one that I have been using) is that a fisherman is faced with a decision to either keep fishing (in an unproductive spot--hoping the unproductive trend will change), or cut bait--meaning cut the line, losing the bait, in order to try fishing in a different spot. In other words, to keep trying, or to cut your losses.

When I looked it up, I was pretty surprised that this isn't a phrase that everyone agrees on! says that this expression is "one of the US phrases that the rest of the world doesn't understand," which makes me smile. I'm pretty sure the person who wrote it was smiling when they typed it in, too.

Anyway. To cut to the chase, "fish or cut bait" means either to decide whether to continue or to cease (and in stopping, lose some vested interest), or to decide between two activities and get started. I mean, maybe. I could be wrong.


2020 -- Some pictures.


01.20.2021 - Bridges Alight

 Heaven help us. It is stunning how wide a variety of approaches there are to Covid19.

-It's a hoax. There is no "deadly" virus. This is a conspiracy to bring naive people into submission and to gain control. Masks are part of this manipulation and actually harm people.

-Coronavirus is real, sure, but it's no big deal. It's basically a cold. I am not going to stop living my life to avoid getting a cold. If I die, I die.

-Okay, so I don't want coronavirus. It's really rough on some people. I'll wear a mask at the store, and I will stay away from sick people, but I am still going to see my friends and family because my mental health is just as important as avoiding this virus that will probably just be an inconvenience. If I die, I die.

-Life goes on, but very differently. I am socializing via zoom and facetime to avoid spreading covid. I'm avoiding travel and groups larger than 5 or 10 in my pod. We need to act together to keep numbers down so hospitals aren't overwhelmed and vulnerable parts of our population don't die.

-I stay inside. Masks are important, but not as good as isolation. If we all stayed inside for a few weeks, this thing would actually get under control. The numbers are soaring, this disease is spread by people who are asymptomatic more than half of the time. Stay inside, stay safe.

And, of course, there will be a mix. Everyone has their own comfort level with exposure and isolation. What's easy to forget is that people come to these points of view with a lifetime of experience. Their approach isn't likely to change just because they read an article or because a friend tells them they should do something differently.

I am a worrier. I feel a responsibility to other humans to try to protect them as much as I protect myself.

You might say that I worry too much, that I overthink things and that it's not that big of a deal, and you'd probably be right, but that won't change my values or my point-of-view.

I'm also an extrovert. I can be exhausted and depressed, but if you put me in a group of people, chances are very good that I will emerge from that social event energized and happy. (To make things more interesting, consider that I am an expert at finding reasons not to leave my house, even when there isn't a pandemic.)

Finally, there are six people in my family, counting myself. This means that there are 6 different points of view coming from 6 different brains and bodies. Some of these I have control over, some I don't. I can tell someone in my family to wear a mask, but they'll mostly do as they please.

What feels best to me these days is manage my air. I feel comfortable wearing a mask all the time unless I'm only with the people I live with. I'm also comfortable going maskless outside or in an area with good ventilation. What makes sense to me is to imagine someone smoking. If I'm smoking a cigarette, does the ventilation allow the smoke to dissipate without bothering others and vice versa? If not, I want to wear a mask.

I do take risks. My children go to practices and don't always wear masks there. I've recently allowed them to hang out with friends without masks. These are friends they spend hours with daily in the gym, and I still ask them to wear masks most of the time, but sometimes I get tired of being vigilant--tired of being the mask nazi. I am functioning a little out of my comfort zone in order to allow some socialization for my kids within a pod, but it's not all or nothing. 

There is a meme that was going around toward the start of the pandemic that said something like "Check on your extrovert friends in lockdown--they are not okay." I think this was written by an extrovert in lockdown. I think it was a cry for help.

I have had a few breakdowns in the past year. One of the sources of my distress has been my social life and the social life of my family. I know a lot of people who have not seemed to limit much, if anything, to avoid coronavirus--people I want to spend time with--people who matter to me and my family. When one party is living unrestricted and another party (me) is trying not to socialize unless it's with masks or outside, there's a disconnect.

It doesn't mean someone is wrong. (Time will tell.) 

But there's a disconnect.

If my kid is invited to hang out and I say no, that means my kid is on the outside. Take that situation and multiply it by 50 and it has pretty big implications. When you keep saying no, people stop asking. It is painful to feel like I am killing my kids' friendships. It is painful to feel like I am killing my own friendships. It is painful to be invited to a party or dinner and to either go and feel like I am being reckless or to decline and put another brick in the wall between me and them.

It doesn't help to say I am declining because of coronavirus. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I can see it coming off as judgmental--Oh, you think we're going to give you Covid? Oh, you won't come hang out because you're better than us, following the rules? Hypocritical--I saw you riding in a car with someone and you didn't have a mask on--You didn't mind traveling and being exposed when you wanted to go out of town. Or extreme--You have really taken this too far. You're a little crazy. You do realize it's not the end of the world...

I am afraid I am burning bridges. I don't mean that in the way you would say "I'm afraid we're out of toast. Would you like an english muffin?" I am afraid that my relationships are being wrecked by the incredibly hard choices (for me they're hard) that present themselves almost daily. I am actually afraid that this will have a lasting negative impact on me and my family.

This is a NO WIN situation. Not being invited isn't fun. Being invited and declining isn't fun. Being invited and going without a mask doesn't feel right for me. Being invited and going--possibly being the only one to wear a mask feels strange but might be the best option for me. But it's hard to be different. It's not always easy to wear a mask when others don't. It feels in-your-face.

I want to spend time with friends and I want to do what I think is best. I know that my reasons and experience aren't going to be the same as other people's. I know that I could catch Covid and transmit it to someone without feeling the slightest bit ill. That's how it was with my sister-in-law. 

If I (or my family) were to spread this illness and someone were to get really sick. I don't know if I would be able to forgive myself. But if I wear a mask or stay outside and stay in my pod, I would feel like I tried hard enough. 

I beg you--if you don't understand why I am not joining you, or why my kids aren't joining you--please give us the benefit of the doubt. Please don't write us off. I am doing my best to give you the benefit of the doubt, too. 

In a perfect world (according to me), we would have no problem talking about all of this. No feelings would be hurt, no judgement passed--only good wishes. 

Also: I might be overthinking this. 😏

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

07.07.2020 -- All in the Family

Story time:

When I was growing up, there was a family--I'll call them the Yahoos--who were infamous for not having a television. Not one. If we were to find a current equivalent, it might be like finding a family who didn't have internet or smart phones.

Years later, news about the family worked its way among the people who still (or used to) live in the neighborhood.

Emily turned out to be a knockout.
Remember those braces and the hair?
...and Aaron is CEO now of Big Fancy Coorporation!

There will always be those families--you know the ones--the outliers. They're the ones who are more intense, or less. The ones who spend time differently--the ones who dress differently or... just act differently. They're weird, scary, or don't meet community standards. Outliers. They stand out, and often, they stand outside. Maybe you come from one of those families. Maybe you are one of these families.

We all thought we had the Yahoos figured out: they were backward--had no social skills and were... not attractive. We were wrong.

Some families "are all lazy," or "are alcoholics." They're "dropouts and good-for-nothings." True? How about the kid from the lazy family who got a job weeding at the local farm when he was 14 and rode the bus there and back? What about the kid from the family of alcoholics who never touched a drop and became an award-winning teacher? What about the kid from the family of good-for-nothings who worked his way up the corporate ladder and now manages strategy implementation for the region?

Furthermore, what about the kid from the family of "the best people" who sis addicted to heroin and has a long criminal record? What about the kid whose parents are teachers who got caught cheating on that big test? What about the kid from the "rich family" who panhandles and lives on the street?

The point is, when we refer to families as a whole, making blanket statements or judgements, we are almost always wrong. Yes, some members of the family might fit the stereotype, but, even when humans come from the same family and live in the same house--sharing so much--people are just too different to be seen accurately unless they're seen as individuals.

I'm reading How to be an Anti-Racist right now, and this is how my brain made sense of the Ibram X. Kendi's messageI.

First: Anyone (and mostly...everyone) can be (or is) racist some of the time.

Second: Racism is simply a failure to see or look for the individual. It is racist to say "white people don't care about food." It isn't racist to say Ben Smythe doesn't care about food. It is racist to say "blacks are allergic to everything," because many black people don't have allergies at all. It's racist to say (racial group) are greedy and don't care about other people. It's racist to say (racial group) are generous and loving--because people are not their race.

Simple, right? The task at hand, maybe, is to start noticing racism, and to (as he says) take the stigma out of saying something or someone is being racist. Awareness is the first step.

07.07.2020 -- Still Life

My middle-aged elbows rest 
on the edge of a table--
finish worn away
by 20 years of scribbling, scrubbing
and small acts of creative destruction.

The kitchen counters display 
promising watermelon, bananas, and limes, 
letters: requests and balances 
of children's bank accounts,
filled bit by bit by
putting and taking dishes,
wiping dog nose smears from windows,
wiping floors, toilets, sinks, mirrors,
and pushing a lawn mower. 

There are clean and dirty 
cloths and rags, 
a tin tea set 
for parties with real and imaginary friends,
notebooks, journals, 
books of scripture and fanciful stories,
swimming towels, bath towels, 
the top part of
a damp, polka-dot cherry swimsuit
with ruffles,
allergy management supplies,
and Chinese flash cards.

A heavy vase--
recently emptied of roses, lilies and orchids,
gross display of affection
from one imperfect spouse to another--
waits to be tucked away in 
a corner
of a cupboard 
with others.

There is hand sanitizer 
and a child-sized mask,
amid a pandemic.
All signs of 
and love.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

06.07.2020 -- Conflict Resolution by Gladys Sitati

What you'll find below is a shortened and edited (to make the shorter version clear, I hope) version of an address by Gladys Sitati at BYU Women's Conference in 2017. You can find the whole talk by clicking on the title. I love this talk. I only shortened it to allow people with less time to get through it faster, but I recommend reading or listening to the whole thing. She is so wise.

Resolving Conflict Using Gospel Principles 

by Gladys Sitati

love tree.png

“As I considered the topic, I wondered if there is anyone I know who has lived a life without conflict and contention. Contention comes easily, even with those we truly love and desire the best for. It is difficult to always be on guard and to always remember who we are when those we love and are close to do things that we sincerely disagree with or things that provoke us. Let me mention a few areas from which contention between people can arise: 
 Lack of communication leads to misunderstanding, wrong expectations, and undesirable conclusions, distrust, and suspicion 
...Rush judgments, assumptions about others, leads to misrepresentation of other people’s intentions, to hurting other people’s feelings 
 A competitive spirit driven by pride, fuels dislike, feelings of anger, and isolation 
 Differing cultural values, [can] lead to distrust, suspicion, prejudice, and profiling of others 
[We live in a world of differences of opinion and conflict, but] conflict and contention are not inevitable. What we do to prevent or escalate it is a choice we make. May I share with you five of the principles we have been taught that can help us to avoid conflict and contention? 

happy tree.png

1- The first principle is having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  
Faith is a principle of action and power, and whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we are exercising our faith. In the course of our labors, as we exercise patience, meekness, and humility, with purity of heart, our spirituality will grow and flourish. Our actions can then transcend all human barriers, including cultural, economic, and political associations. 
Elder Richard G. Scott counsels us: “Reach out to those living in adverse circumstances. Be a true friend. This kind of enduring friendship is like asphalt that fills the potholes of life and makes the journey smoother and more pleasant. … Welcome into your home others who need to be strengthened by such an experience. … Recognize the good in others, not their stains. At times a stain needs appropriate attention to be cleansed, but always build on his or her virtues.” 
The Savior teaches us, “And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.” 
If we do this, any prejudices and fears we may have had will melt away, as our knowledge and our love for those we live among increases. 
2- The second principle that can help us avoid conflict is being worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost in our lives.  
In a situation of developing conflict, the Holy Ghost may help us best when we deliberately think about the problem in advance.                
We could therefore write down several possible actions to take that could help us avoid the contention. After pondering and deciding on the best action to take, we could humbly go to Heavenly Father in prayer to ask for his approval. He will send the Holy Ghost to provide a confirming witness and to guide us on actual things to do. To have the full benefit of that witness and guidance, we need to trust the Lord and his timing and be ready to do all that we can. 
3- The third principle that can help us is prayer.   
Christ taught: “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”  
A story told by President Howard W. Hunter when he was a bishop illustrates the workings of this principle. A member of his ward came to him to tell him there was a man in the congregation he did not like. President Hunter told the brother to go home and pray for this man morning and evening and then report back after two weeks. When the brother came back, he said that he had learned that the man had problems and needed help. He was going to help the man.                                                      
Such experiences give us the hope to pray for those we have bad feelings against or those who have done wrong against us. Who knows? They probably need our help. 

squiggle tree.png  

4- The fourth principle I wish to talk about is forgiveness. 
Suppose we have done our very best to live peacefully with our neighbors, but somehow conflicts arise. What shall we do? [Forgive him] “seventy times seven.” Following this pattern will enable us to resolve all disputes, find peace, and make many friends.  
On this subject of forgiveness, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “We see the need for [forgiveness] in the homes of the people, where tiny molehills of misunderstanding are fanned into mountains of argument. We see it among neighbors, where insignificant differences lead to undying bitterness. We see it in business associates who quarrel and refuse to compromise and forgive when, in most instances, if there were a willingness to sit down together and speak quietly one to another, the matter could be resolved to the blessing of all. Rather, they spend their days nurturing grudges and planning retribution.” 
5- The fifth principle is love. 
President Thomas S. Monson taught: “We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. …As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.” 
I have found that love is a powerful tool in our hands. We are created to love and to be loved. But the spirit of love has been overtaken by worldly aspirations, such as the desire to be seen as being better than others, greed, lust, selfishness, pride, and other ungodly habits. 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks counseled us to follow after the things that make for peace as we live among other people; to practice civility when others have different opinions, to forgo contention and practice respect, and to be kind to those who choose not to keep the commandments of God. He emphasized that kindness is powerful. 
As much as we can, we should keep in touch with those we disagree with, especially family members. We let them know we love them by inviting them to family activities and finding good things to say about them. Given time, the Lord may soften their hearts.  
When we have a troubled relationship, we need to ask ourselves these questions: What do I honestly desire for this relationship? What would I do if I were in their shoes? What am I willing to give up to establish peace? 

flowers vase.png

Let me summarize again the five principles we can apply to resolve conflict and contention in our associations: 
First, faith in the Savior Jesus Christ is the beginning of a desire to trust the Lord in our circumstances, knowing that he will share our burdens and bring comfort to our souls.  
Second, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ leads us to do those things that invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which can fill us with “hope and perfect love” toward all people and all things. 
Third, “diligence unto prayer” helps us to continue to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost, to be filled with love, and to overcome the temptations of the adversary that may come through provocation to conflict. 
Fourth, filled with the love of God, we can not only forgive others but help to give them a vision and a better hope of what they can become. 
Finally, filled with the love of God, we can transcend all barriers to peace, harmony, and unity with all people. 
As I conclude my thoughts, I would urge each one of us to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ … and a love of God and of all men” and to heed the Savior’s counsel that contention is of the devil and should be done away with. 
May each one of us find love and peace wherever we are in the world that we may stand as true witnesses of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and through his atoning power be able to do all things. 
This I leave with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Gladys N. Sitati 
Gladys Sitati

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

11.26.2019 -- Dear Universe

Dear God (because I am a believer),

I am still in my pajamas today, and it is two minutes to noon. I have spent my morning reading with kids, taking kids to school, sweeping the garage (spreading the snowy car mud around evenly), spraying off said muddy car, sorting, folding and putting away laundry, baking pumpkin muffins,  avoiding telemarketers, cleaning up messes, finding things for pre-schoolers to do. I also posted on Instagram (mostly because it has been awhile and I saw a lovely post that make me want to contribute something good to the world).

When I was looking for quotes (someone else's words always seem to be better, don't they?), I came across one that unexpectedly left me in tears.

“What we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are — and who we will become.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Maybe it struck me because I just searched through some recent family pictures to see what one I wanted to post. Maybe it was the relaxed morning with Lena. Maybe it was the (audio)book  I just finished that, to me, underscored the power family (biological and chosen). Maybe it's my (maybe) mid-life reevaluation of who I am and who I am becoming.

I am just feeling incredibly grateful today.


Unexpected, deep conversations with our kids.
A warm place to live in a place I love.
A healthy body that lets me move in the world the way I want.
A fascinating family (roots, trunk and leaves) that I know and cherish.
Friends (and family) who see the rough spots and love anyway.
A world full of people who are, each one, a universe in themselves.

Today, I am seeing so much goodness in this world. I know there is real pain, heartache and calamity here on the planet, too, but there is so much good.

Thank you.