The Watchman

The Watchman

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last week was one of anniversaries.

Rick and I celebrated 23 years of marriage. In typical fashion, our time together had to be rearranged because of other commitments and then was interrupted by calls from his work. But since there were also calls from my volunteer opportunities, I won't complain. We've always said our marriage works because we understand one another. By the way X-Men First Class was a great movie.

Our anniversary was also one month before Hunter comes home from his mission for the LDS Church in Montana. He has done an amazing job serving the people in Montana and Central Wyoming and teaching them of Christ. More important, he has set an awesome example for his younger brothers and sisters. I know how hard it is to be the oldest and he fills those shoes quite well.

It was also a year ago on our anniversary that I started this blog. I wanted to document the ups and downs of our family. Little did I know what was to come.

Then there was the big anniversary on Sunday - one year since our house burned down. Hunter wrote an incredible blog post for his mission summarizing our experience over the last year. Since I cannot add anything to it, I would recommend that you read The Very Jaws of Hell. This is also the first time he has really shared his feelings. I found it to be a very powerful testimony of God's love for all his children.

Obviously, a lot has changed for our family this last year. For me the biggest change is that I am no longer employed outside the home. My friends and acquaintances thought that this would be a hard adjustment for me. I think even my family was a little concerned. I can honestly say I am adjusting just fine.

The best thing about not working outside the home is the time I am able to spend with my children. By being at home, I get to referee the occasional fights, listen to the whining of I'm bored, play chauffeur and chaperone social events. Have I mentioned how much I love being a party planner? So this works out well.

I also am here to help with the still present panic attacks. I don't know how my children would have dealt with the recent fire in Toquerville where two homes were destroyed that was clearly visible from our home, when even the smell of smoke will put them in tears until the source is identified. In this case, I was able to take them all to St. George where we went to lunch at Chuck-A-Rama and spent the afternoon playing tourist. We were able to talk about what was happening in our "backyard" in a non-threatening environment and they were all steadier by the time we returned home.

But the thing I enjoy most by being a stay-at-home are the days like today: running errands with Wil and had lunch together just the two of us, helping Jon do laundry and then make a dish for Scouts, listening to the girls singing and doing their hair and picking out clothes as they got ready to go to a movie with Grandma. I enjoy hearing them practice the piano and Lela play her violin; having the time to really listen to stories from swim practice and Emily's book reports.

Life is moving at a slower pace for me these days and I wouldn't wish for it to be any other way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Road Not Taken

As commencement season draws to a close, one in which my son was a participant, I have had moments of reflection on my own high school commencement twenty-seven short years ago. On that day, I was selected to be one of the speakers during the ceremony. I'm sure that my fellow Falcons - Class of 1984, have no recollection of what I spoke that evening. I remember vaguely because of the many hours I spent trying to prepare something that would be profound and worthy of this greatest day in our lives.

I do remember clearly choosing to base my talk on the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken".

After having recited the poem, I then went on to recount some newsworthy accomplishments of individuals that had occurred throughout the year to illustrate that we should not give in to peer pressure or follow what others have chosen for us, but chart our own course and not be afraid of challenges.

Twenty years later, I attended my high school reunion. It was fun to see old friends again and to catch up on each others' lives. It was also bittersweet because of those who chose not to attend, not because of distance or previous commitments, but because of unwarranted shame and anger. At one point during the evening, one fellow classmate asked me why I hadn't achieved more in my life. I had been class salutatorian (hence the talk at graduation), a high honors student, full scholarship to college, etc. He felt I should have gone on to accomplish great things that would have my name acknowledged by mankind and bring accolades to those associated with me, yet I hadn't even received a bachelor's degree.

This is what I know. I will never regret the road that I have chosen. Choosing to follow the path that for me was not well worn has made all the difference.

A local media personality was asked to give the commencement address at an area high school. Leading up to it, he asked his audience what advice they would give this graduating class. So I have been thinking about what I would say if I could give a commencement address today. This is what I would say:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost's poem teaches us that our life is one of choices. As we make our choices our life will be changed and shaped. We do not need to stand helplessly at the fork in the road with nothing to direct us in making our choice. It is up to each of us to mark the path that we will choose and to leave our mark upon it for others who follow.

First, we need to have a plan. I am not talking about a short term goal such as graduation from college, religous service, service in the military. I mean a long-term plan. Where do you want your life to be in ten years? Twenty years? Fifty? Seventy-five? When you die, what will people remember about you?

Choose goals that will help you accomplish your plan. Does your ten year plan work with your fifty year plan? What needs to take place to reconcile them? Talk to others who have been down the path you are choosing. What advice do they have?

There will also be times when the path you have chosen will divurge and you will again need to make decisions on your direction. Your plan will help guide you in these decisions.

Second, remember to be flexible. Just as a path will have twists and turns and isn't always smooth, so does life. These obstacles should be embraced as an opportunity to learn and grow. When I was seventeen, I would never have imagined all the things that I have experienced. My life has been richer for these unexpected vistas.

Third, remember we are in this thing called life together. No one walks the path of life alone. Others will join us on our journey, some for a short while and others for the whole journey. Others will come and go and return again. Remember to say thank you often and not be afraid to help others.

And finally, choose to be happy. It is in error to believe that we will only be happy when we have accomplished everything we feel we should or have obtained all life has to offer. This is not so. There is no one or nothing that can make us truly happy besides ourself. To be happy is a choice each of us make every day. When we choose to be happy, we have no need to judge ourselves by others' perceptions.

I love this quote: Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why is it called the present. We cannot change the past and we do not know what tomorrow holds. All we can see is the path that lies before us today. We need to embrace today as the most precious of gifts and set our foot upon our path.