Thursday, November 27, 2008

What am I thankful for?

Today is a bit of a lonely day for me, and I am trying as hard as I can to keep my chin up, but despite my efforts, I feel a flood of tears just waiting to spill over. Part of the loneliness is because we have no family or friends to share dinner with today. It's an odd feeling doing all the baking that you would normally divide up between people, yet have no one to share it with. I wonder why I'm even bothering? Today I have literally been in the kitchen for the past 6 hours doing nothing but cooking & doing dishes. Why? We can't possibly eat all of this ourselves, and on every other normal day cooking for my family, I would never even consider devoting my whole day into cooking for one meal. But it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fresh bread and pumpkin pie, so I guess I'm calling on tradition as my excuse. But Thanksgiving tradition also calls for family and friends to enjoy the feast. And of those, I have none with us. It saddens me. I'm not sure what hurts the most though, the loneliness, or the invitations we have given out that have been either ignored or forgotten, and alternate plans were made despite our open invitation. It really makes me feel like we're not important. And that hurts.
The other part of the loneliness is the feeling that is haunting me that I have somehow alienated myself from those that I care about. Either that or I have pushed them away. I know that I've done something wrong when phone calls aren't returned, messages aren't replied to, and invitations to do something are immediately denied with some excuse. But what I'm trying to figure out is what I could have possibly done wrong to push so many people away. I've had times of loneliness in my life, but I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever felt more alone than I do right now. What could I possibly have done that has repelled everyone away from me? Or is this the Lord's way of telling me that I need to take a step back, and have some time for myself? I just don't know what to think right now.

So I've been thinking of what I am thankful for, despite today's emotions. They may not seem like much, but to me they're all a huge blessing to me in their own ways.
I am thankful that I have a warm house to live in, with a way to cook our food, and even food to cook!
I am thankful that I have 3 beautiful and wonderful children. They may drive me crazy with worry, but I'd be nobody without them.
I am thankful for my angel baby, and the blessings he brought to our lives in his short time here.
I am thankful that I have a knowledge of the Gospel, that gives me hope that I'll be with my angel baby again.
I am thankful that I have a place to work. Even though the conditions at the moment are less than ideal, and have caused me a great deal of heartache, I am thankful that I am still there.
I am thankful that I have a good car that allows me to get us to where we need, but also allows me a bit of freedom.
I am thankful that I can afford gas for my car.
I am thankful for my 2 cats, that love me unconditionally (when they're in the mood, of course) but give me a sense of appreciation when they love on me and purr and purr and purr. Makes me feel important.
I am thankful for my wonderful husband, who still loves me despite all my many faults, and does his best to show me that.
I am thankful also that my wonderful husband has a good stable & secure job that he's loyal to. I don't have to worry about unemployment, and that is a major blessing right there.
I am thankful for paint, for adding color to my home.
I am thankful for my friends, who each have all blessed me in their own individual ways. I know that the Lord crossed our paths with a purpose.
I am thankful for electricity and natural gas. It'd be cold and dark without them.
I am thankful for my Bosch, that grinds my wheat & kneads my dough, and makes making fresh bread quite simple.
I am thankful for itunes and my ipod. Music soothes me. Music inspires me. Music fills many voids.
I am thankful for books, and especially thankful that I am able to read them and have enough of an imagination to escape into them.
I am thankful for my cordless phone, and the distance it transmits.
I am thankful for crutches, which made moving around possible after my knee surgery.
I am thankful for spaghetti. ;)
I am thankful that I have a working washing machine and a working dryer.
I am thankful for yummy smelling laundry detergent and fabric softener.
I am thankful for candles, and their many purposes to me.
I am thankful for my education that I had, and that I was able to apply myself and get a 4.0
I am also very thankful that I am a smart person, and was able to (and still do) understand anatomy.
I am thankful for apples and carrots, and other yummy tasting fruits and veggies.
I am thankful for my amazing Mac laptop!
I am thankful that I have a camera, one that I can use for an emotional outlet.
I am thankful for my long hair.
I am thankful that I have all my limbs, and that I am able to walk.
I am thankful that I am not in the hospital.
I am thankful that I have an electric blanket.
I am thankful for water. I'd be dehydrated without it.
I am thankful for flowers for many many reasons.
I am thankful for my bra, which in sense is my greatest support.

I could go on and on, but I'll end with this:
I am thankful that I am alive, and that I am able to tell you the things I am thankful for.
Hopefully in some way or another, I'll be a blessing to you, and in turn, you'll be thankful for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who am I really?

While wasting time responding to all sorts of surveys and questionnaires through emails and on myspace, here are some things that I've learned about myself:

If I were a slogan, I would be "Donna, it's what's for dinner"

My inner muse is Melpomene. I am most like this muse of tragedy. While I'm not necessarily depressed, I don't shy away from sadness. Although I do tend to be gloomy, I have a sensitive side, and this sensitive side helps inspire and help others.

I am disturbingly profound. (As opposed to profoundly disturbing.) I'm contemplative, thoughtful, and very intense. I take time to figure out the meaning of life. Because I'm introspective, I often react in ways that surprise people. No one really understands how I am on the inside... and that disturbs them.

If I were a holiday, I'd be Christmas. I'm able to find magic in life's small moments. Traditions mean a lot to me, and I tend to be quite nostalgic. I am a giving, kind person who really understands the true meaning of holidays. I try to inspire others to be as altruistic and caring as I am. Tradition and a generous spirit gives me reason to celebrate. At Christmas, I'm the one most likely to give a gift to everyone I know.

My season is autumn. I'm Thoughtful, expressive, creative, poetic & smart.

I'd be a carnation if I were a flower. I am down to earth and grounded. I tend to be more traditional than trendy. My confidence gets me through anything. People trust me and are very loyal to me.

If I were a gemstone, I'd be topaz. I'm comforting, considerate, and stable. I'm down to earth and grounded.

I'd be basil if I were a spice. I am loved by post people who take the time to get to know me.
I have a mild temperament, but my style is definitely distinctive. I am sweet, attractive, and often smell good.

My Goth name is Black Stratus.

My witness protection name is Sandra Olsen.

If I were a carnival ride, I would be a roller coaster. (Are there any other rides?) ;)

My handwriting says that I know how do pace myself, and I deal well with stress. I can be extroverted and outgoing. I am loving, friendly, and supportive. I am very detail oriented and meticulous. I am a careful thinker and a true intellectual. I need a bit of space in my life, but I'm not a recluse. I appreciate when people give me a small amount of privacy, and I respect their privacy as well. I am somewhat traditional, but am also open to change. I listen to my head and my heart.

My mind is blue. Of all the mind types, mine is the most mellow. I see things as how they really are. I spend a lot of time thinking about my friends, surroundings, and life.

My 'funky' Japanese name is "Temonoya"

If I were a crayon, I'd be blue. My world is colored in calm, understated, deep colors. I am a loyal person, and the truest friend anyone could hope to find. On the inside, I tend to be emotional and even a bit moody. However, I know that people depend on me, so I put on a strong front. My color wheel opposite is orange. Orange people may be opinionated, but I feel they lack the depth to truly understand what they're saying.

My main sense is sight. I am a very observant, detail oriented person. I see things that other people never notice. I have a good eye for design and aesthetics. I love to be surrounded by beauty - natural or not.

If I were a condiment, I would be mustard. I guess I have a strong personality?

If I were a utensil, I'd be a fork. I'm truthful, direct, straight forward, and can be a bit piercing at times.

My fridge says that I like to be surrounded by things I love. I'm not greedy, but can be materialistic at times. I'm a fairly thrifty person. I splurge occasionally, but I'm mostly a saver. I'm adventurous person. I love to try new things, but get bored very easily. I try to be responsible, but don't always succeed. My heart is in the right place though.

My body element is water. I am relaxed & flexible, and tend to go with the flow. I am accommodating, and adaptable. I willingly go whichever direction life is taking me, which changes from day to day. I live for helping others, and I have a generous spirit. My energy tends to be conserved.

My feet say that I am more expressive than most people. I tend to let everyone know how I'm honestly feeling - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm a very passionate person, and am easily inspired. I fall in love easily and develop strong bonds, and am attached to many people. I'm also easily frightened. I'm very practical and down to earth. I'm not spoiled and I love getting my hands dirty. I hold my ground and am true to my beliefs.

If I were a fruit, I'd be an apple. I'm strong, and even a bit stubborn at times. I have enough strength to help those around me in trouble. I'm adventurous and love life, and would enjoy traveling the world. I enjoy fine food, art, and culture. I've been accused of being a snob, but that's not accurate. I do enjoy good things in life, but unlike snobs, I truly appreciate quality... not just pretend to.

My pizza choice says that I like food that's traditional and well crafted. I am dependable, loyal, and conservative with my choices. I am cultured and intellectual. People say that I hardly eat, but I'm not under eating. I'm just not a pig.

If I had a superpower, it would be invisibility. I am stealth, complex, and creative. I never face problems head on. Instead, I rely on my craftiness to get my way. I thrive on being a little misunderstood. I happily work behind the scenes.

My famous last words will be "Yeah, I think I'll end there."
(Which is where I AM going to end...)

I just saw Twilight.

But I have been forbidden to say anything about it until after Lori-ann sees the movie. So until then, I have taken a vow of silence.

That sucks, I can't even mention how amazing the soundtrack is... Oh, oops!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I've been tagged!

And I never thought such a thing would ever happen to me. Awww, now I feel all important and such. ;)

Okay, here are 6 strange/quirky things about me... 

1- I have cat toes.

2- I apparently have an obsession with taking pictures of my feet. Case in point, see picture above. Then see pictures below...

3- I am anal about expiration dates, especially on bread and dairy items. I will hunt through milk (and will usually be satisfied when I find one in the very back) that has the furthest out expiration date, even though I know that I'll have the milk consumed waaay before the expiration date. Something about the numbers makes it taste better.

4- Automatic doors vs. regular doors at stores. If the automatic door is the only option, fine. If there's normal doors as well, I'll walk to the normal door and open it. I'm not afraid of automatic doors, not at all. It's just that I feel that if my arms are able to open it, then I'll open it. Automatic doors are for people in wheel chairs & women pushing big bulky strollers.

5- I hate it when people should me. I seriously hate it. Almost as bad as when I am lied to. A good example is when I switched car insurance a few years back. I insured my car with a nation wide company with an office within a mile of our house, that has a very high reputation and decent rates. I chose that company because I felt good about that company. Then I had a friend ask me who I got my insurance through, casual conversation, and when I told him, the first thing he said was "Urgh. You SHOULD have gotten your insurance with this (very unknown, unlocal and obscure) company." And he seriously got angry and started debating it with me about why I SHOULD have done this, and why I SHOULDN'T have done that! Okay, first, what do YOU have to gain by what I SHOULD have done? No, you don't own that insurance company, you don't work for that insurance company, and no, you won't even get a referral bonus. So why do you care what decisions I make for me? And second, I already did it, it's done and over with, the decision is in the past. Already decided. So regardless of how opinionated you are, it will never change the fact that I already did it. And yes, without consulting you first. 

I know it's an extreme example, but seriously I deal with this every day with little things too. "You should have gotten your milk at Allens because it's 15 cents cheaper there then at Wal-Mart." (Well, it will cost me more than 15 cents to drive there just for milk, so I'll just get it at Wal-Mart where I buy everything else anyway.) "You should have waited to put gas in your car, because Maverik just lowered the price 5 cents a gallon." (Well, how was I supposed to know that they were going to lower their prices? It's not like they put a sign out that says "Lower gas prices in a half hour. Come back then.") 

Seriously. Don't should me on stupid trivial things that really don't matter to you in the first place, and things that neither of us can do anything about anyway.

6- I am willingly & happily married to Nolan. What more can I say?

Okay, now to tag: Tyffanie, Jessica, Elisa, Heather, Linda & Britty. You're it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I can not handle debate.

I hate it. I hate confrontation. I especially hate talk shows where people are yelling and screaming their opinions as loud as they can in an attempt to be louder and more outspoken than the other. It really gets under my skin too when people are so blind and so bull headed and stuck in their ways that they are refusing to admit or even acknowledge that perhaps their opinion just may not the only one. I can not stand arrogant, self centered, opinionated people whose thoughts and ideas are far superior to everyone else. The "I told you so" people. Get over yourselves, and mind your own business. The world does not revolve around you.

I unfortunately was in a situation the other day that caused a great deal of anxiety to me. Literally. My heart felt like it was grinding in my chest like gears grinding in a stick shift driven by an impatient teenager. I was nauseated. I was shaking. I felt like I was being tortured from the inside out. And what was happening? Debate. One opinion that was so egotistical that it could run its own country. Another opinion so angry that it could boil metal. End result? Tension so thick that you could cut it with a knife, if it didn't suffocate you first.

I could not handle it. So I left.

I had an epiphany that day. There were two very important questions that I needed to ask myself. First, is this a situation that I need to be involved in? Do I HAVE to be involved? Is this necessary? The answer is no. No I don't. No it isn't. Second, is there anything I can do about this situation? Yes. I can remove myself from it. Plain and simple. 

Upon reflection today, those are two questions that I've been asking myself a lot lately, in a round about way. Is this necessary in my life? No, so get it out of your life. Do I need to be confronted by something trivial? No, so dismiss yourself from the conversation. But then does that make me a coward? Weak? Walking away from any contention? Turning my back and fleeing when faced with opposition? Running away from the opportunity to prove myself? Or does that make me brave? Strong? Knowing where I stand and refusing to be dragged down? Knowing my own truth, and believing in myself that it is unnecessary and a complete waste of time to defend myself to a person who could care less anyway?

But then I guess that only depends on the opinion of the person judging you, yeah?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lori Cunningham - Unseen

I want you all to know how amazing Lori-ann is, and how thrilled I am to see her achieve such a difficult goal. Let me give you a little background. (Sorry, Diva. This gets personal...)

Just over 3 years ago, I, by chance, sat next to Lori-ann at a church activity, just a few days after she moved into our neighborhood. All I knew was that she was another completely unfamiliar face, which, I admit, slightly intimidated me. My first thought when I saw her was "Don't bother, Donna. You'll never be good enough to be her friend, I'll bet she'll fit right into so-and-so's clique." So I really didn't make an effort towards conversation. Well, she introduced herself to the group and mentioned that she has a degree in vocal performance, and taught voice at BYU, and happened to teach voice lessons to somebody who was in our ward. That piqued my interest immediately, because my daughter (at the time) really wanted to be involved in school plays & choir, and needed much vocal improvement. So I swallowed my skepticism and turned to her to talk about voice for Britty. It was a incredibly noisy, so she pulled out her wallet to hand me a business card so that I could call her and talk about it in more detail. Well, her card was a Mary Kay business card and I immediately said "Great! Could you come over and teach my teenager how to take care of her skin too?" (Sorry Britty, but you understand.) So then, the ice was broken. Still didn't anticipate a friendship though.

Well, for anyone who knows me well, knows that I listen to some pretty obscure music, and that I am very passionate about deep, stirring, contemplative & emotional music that speaks to my soul and seems to understand my emotions. I thrive on it. Sadly, I can pretty much guarantee that if you ask me what I like, you'll not recognize one artist. Especially Bel Canto, which has been one of my staples for the past 15 years. It's actually been very frustrating for me to not have a friend with the same music interests. I figured I would forever enjoy my music solitary. But that doesn't stop me from playing my music when others are at my home, and trying my best to expose them to it. On this particular day, we had just gotten a new album from CD Baby, and I was enveloping myself with this new artist. I had Hungry Lucy playing when Lori-ann came over to give Britty her skin care class. She hadn't even made it into my kitchen before she asked what we were listening to, because she really liked it. Oh my gosh! Somebody actually LIKES the same music I do? Wow! She told me that was the kind of music she listens to. So, out of curiosity, and fully expecting a "who?" I asked her if she has heard of Bel Canto. Her response was "Oh my gosh, I LOVE Bel Canto!" I was shocked, then elated, and instantly started probing her about all the artists she's heard of. I think she was also taken by surprise that she found somebody that had similar interests, and more importantly, someone who loves and appreciates the same feel of music for the same reasons. I'm pretty sure up until that day, she too was enjoying her music style all by herself. We went through my mp3's & cd's, (and some of hers that were in her car), and spent the rest of the time talking music. Delerium, Amethystium, Blue Stone, Balligomingo, Conjure One... (Yes, I know. Anything to add more music links...) Anyway, I don't think we ever got out the Mary Kay stuff. It was far less important at that point.

And an instant friendship was formed.

As time went by, and I got to know her better, I started noticing how unhappy & unfulfilled she was with her Mary Kay business, and was picking up on the wishes and regrets. I remember having a conversation with her one day about all she used to do involving voice, and how she missed it. I asked her why she chose to concentrate all her efforts towards Mary Kay instead of working with the degree she had earned. Her answer was a simple dismissal. "It's a thing of the past. I have kids now, it's impossible." I was sad to hear that. Not only because I could see how Mary Kay was conforming her into some false sense of "happiness," but also because I was really curious about (and anxious to see) what talents she had that were hiding in the dark recesses of her mind.

Not too long after that conversation, I had discovered the artist Sleepthief, and was instantly mesmerized by one song in particular, Sublunar. Every time I heard it, I would get teary eyed and have chills, and kept thinking "She's gotta hear this." It was very convenient that on Auralgasms, (online radio), they'll tell you the upcoming tracks that they'll be playing. I had it playing on my computer, and saw that Sublunar was next in queue. So I called Lori-ann up and told her to get on her computer asap, crank the volume up, listen to the song, and call me back. So that she did.

This next conversation was a turning point for her. She called me back in tears. "That is what I want to do. That is the kind of music I want to create." It was no longer a wish, but now a desire, a goal. And almost immediately she dove into getting as much information as she could get about what equipment she needed to get started with. It was a very slow process, but the equipment came piece by piece. Then came the self teaching, the exploring, and the experiments. The trial and error. Many new discoveries, many new ideas, many new inspirations. The music started coming together. Her talents grew and strengthened. Every piece of music she wrote blew me away. I was amazed that she was able to create something so deep and beautiful. Many times as I was invited down to her "studio" to listen to her latest (and "unfinished, unmastered, and imperfect, so don't judge it") creations, I was blown away, and was amazed over and over again. So many melodies spoke to my emotions, some brought memories, some validated how I was feeling at that time. I never ceased to be impressed. The beautiful thing is that I thought they were all amazing and perfect, but I also could hear and feel the growth and improvement with each new track.

During this time of experimenting, learning and growth, were also some very trying times for Lori-ann. Equipment issues (over and over and over and over), family trials, very ill children, personal crisis, legal education... All of which would have had me throwing in the towel and calling it quits. (Especially the Alesis... I don't know how she managed the patience for that one!!!) But she didn't quit. She drudged through the mud and kept going. Nothing was going to stop her from completing her goal. I admire that determination. She has always been an inspiration to me, to want to make something better of myself. To not be afraid to follow a dream and do what you know will make you happy deep in your heart, no matter how many people balk at you, or tell you that you're not good enough, you'll never make it, don't waste your time, etc. No matter how many obstacles are thrown in to divert you off your path, or how many boulders are thrown right in front of you to stop you completely.

Well, after 2 years of blood, sweat and tears, I am so very happy to say that she did it! She withstood all the torrents. She reached her destination. It was not easy, in fact, it was living hell at times. But she did it, and I admire her, respect her, and deeply love her for that. And look at what she has now! A true work of her heart.

So Lori-ann, you're welcome. Thank you for letting me be such a big part of this dream. Thank you for sharing your beautiful talent with me, in all of its ever progressing stages. Thank you for adopting me into your family as well, and giving me a home away from home. Thank you for your unbiased friendship, and being able to see beyond the plain appearance and believing that I had something beautiful and of worth inside. And, thank you for allowing me to support you. That means the most to me. You know I'm your number 1 1/2 fan... heh heh