Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Heart to Heart

One of my favorite analogies by Delwin:
There once was a beggar homeless woman that sold muffins on the corner every day to make money.  Each day she would put out her cardboard sign that said, "Muffins 5 cents" and a little tin to collect her money.

One day a businessman walked by in his fancy suit and polished shoes.  He looked down and saw this poor beggar and put a nickle in her tin.  When she handed him a muffin he waved it off and said, "Have a good day."

This became a regular occurrence between the beggar and the businessman.  Any time he walked by he would drop a nickle into her tin, say, "Have a good day." and continue on to work.  This happened for weeks, months, who knows maybe even years until one day the man walked by and notice her sign had changed.  Where it once had said 5 cents had been crossed out and now it read 10 cents.  He smiled at her, dropped his nickle into her tin and said, "Have a nice day."  Within a few seconds as the man was walking down the street he heard the beggar woman running after him calling, "Sir! Sir!"  And when she finally reached him she grabbed his arm and said, "I don't think you saw my sign, the muffins are now 10 cents."

Often times us punk teenagers think that the world revolves us.  We think that everyone is here to serve us.  How often is it that people make sacrifice for us or it happens so much that we don't even notice.

But why?  What benefit is it for us to notice all the wonderful things that people are doing for us?  What value does it add to our lives?

Here is a video that shows the value:

I could easily look out at you and say "Be Happy."  I mean you are 15 years old, your life doesn't get any easier than this.  But I get it, from my past experience of being a teacher of 15 year olds I know that many of you are going through hard things that I don't know about or maybe can't even imagine.  And the rest of you... I understand, at 15 a zit on your forehead can be pretty traumatic.  So rather than just tell you to be happy, I love this video because it shows you are way that no matter what's going on in your life you can be happy.  It reminds me of another of my favorite stories,

Once there was a set of twins.  Although the twins were identical they acted completely different.  One was always happy the other always sad.  They wanted to do a test to try and better understand these twins.  They put the grumpy twin in a room full of the most wonderful toys imaginable.  Within minutes of entering the room the twin started breaking the toys complaining that they weren't the right size, color, or style.  The researchers tried to think of the worst thing they could do to the happy twin.  The put the happy twin in a room completely empty except a huge pile of manure. Within seconds of the twin entering the room they heard the twin giggling.  When they entered the room they found the twin right in the middle of the pile digging around in the manure.  When they asked the twin, the twin said, "With all this manure there must be a pony somewhere!"

Sure, we can't change our circumstances sometimes but we can do things to make us happy.

Something I've been struggling with.

Sometimes I just crave to be understood.  I think everyone probably feels that way but I am learning through being married to someone completely opposite from me that not everyone feeds that desire by exposing themselves.  Some day maybe I'll change but probably not.

I've talked before about being a morning person.  I've talked how I hate that I am a morning person.  Even with all the research and positive spins you can put on the benefits of being a morning person I still hate it.  Why because I love people.  And 90% of all social events happen when I would rather be in bed.  Why oh why can't a party or a social or a group of friends get together at 5 am?  Sounds absurd right?

Now don't get me wrong I really do love my mornings alone.  I love having time to sit and think and ponder the mysteries of the world (right now at 4 am before I hit the gym at 5) but sometimes what I wouldn't give to actually have to set my alarm clock.  Yes.  You read that right.  I wake up every morning right now at exactly 4 am.  Well today it was 4:03.

The problem?

I've concluded the way my body works is I have about 1 hour possibly 2 after the sunsets before I literally turn into a pumpkin.  Now that gets really really really embarrassing when the sun goes down at 5 or 6.

It was really frustrating my whole single career because I felt the guilt of having to go out and be social when I'd much rather be cuddled up in my cave asleep.  And I guess I just hoped that once I was married the guilt would disappear.  Sadly... if anything it is worse.

But the purpose of me writing this today.... is to try and describe what it is like to have S.A.D. because it's frustrating how socially unacceptable or misunderstood it is.  Perfect example.  Last night I was supposed to attend a meeting.  Long story short, I wasn't going to get to the meeting until 7:15.... that sounds like a reasonable time... it's true.  But the meeting was an hour away, and the "meeters" were just getting ready to go to dinner.  So by the time we really started on the meeting it would be 8:30.  Which means the meeting wouldn't end until 10.  Which means I wouldn't get home until 11.  So I didn't go.  That's a lie, I drove 45 minutes to where I thought the meeting was, found out the meeting was another 20 minutes farther way from my house, did the math, and THEN drove the 45 minutes home....

Yeah kinda pathetic.

So what am I doing this morning when I woke up at 4 am?  Dreaming of a world where people meet at 4 am...... when I am fresh.... when I am on my A game.... when I am ready to take on the world.  But alas....... instead............. I guess I'll just head to the gym.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Craig and Marcie Parson. It's Official!

It was an amazing day!  But rather than words... here's the pictures!

What it takes to get kids to smile.....

And they lived happily ever after.....

Thursday, November 14, 2013


A few Sundays ago someone read a quote from a leader of the church suggesting that everyone should have a picture of the Savior and of the temple hanging at home.

We have the Savior covered but I've been thinking a lot of what picture of the temple I want to hang.  And of course a lot of reflection came in at my grandma's funeral last week.  I kept thinking about heaven and what it will be like.  I think of my dad's painting he did of the after life a few months before his wife died.
When the church asked him to paint an illustration of the after life they said, "We don't really know what it will be like so you can kinda do what you'd like."  So my dad painted what he hoped to see.  His wife, his mom and dad, and my aunt Raine.

To me, that is what this life is all about.  Of course first and foremost it's about recognizing and accepting Christ as the Savior but second it is about the people that we rely on and help to get there.

Whenever I think of our wedding I almost instantly cry.  Sure it was a special moment for Jason and I but really, we get special moments all the time.  Whenever I think of our wedding I think of the outpouring of love and support I felt from so many people.  So many people that have meant so much to me and helped me along the way.  Using my dad's idea I thought of what I want heaven to look like.  When I think of heaven I think of this.
I look at this picture and it gives me hope, it inspires me, it makes me want to be a better person.  I look at every single person in the picture that came for me and know I am better, stronger, and happier because of them.  Every time I think of our wedding I cry because God knows us and He knows that I needed all of these people in my life.  The sacrifice that they all made to come humbles me every time I look at this picture.  I would say I am so lucky but I know it's not luck.  It's what God knew I needed.  It's the people in this picture that make the building behind it so important.  This is the picture I am choosing to hang in my house so every day I am reminded why we are fighting so hard to get to heaven. Because man oh man, it's going to be a party!

Here are my previous thoughts on heaven. "Can't Wait For Heaven."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Shout Out for Step.

This morning as I was running into the gym at 5:30 in the morning I was thinking about how lucky I am.  I will tell you that I really 70% of the time hate running, 80% of the time hate lifting, and 100% of the time hate spin.  But on average I would say I am excited to go to Step 93% of the time.  But I have been super lucky to have Laura in my life.  It really is all because of her and the awesome step culture she's created in Utah Valley.  I hate telling people that I love Step though because when people think of Step Aerobics I am pretty sure they picture this:

 or this:

or probably my favorite, this:

I can promise you.... it might look ridiculous (if you remember when Lars videoed me doing Step in the backyard a couple of summers ago... if you need a good laugh here it is.) but it is a fantastic workout!!!!  AND I just read an article from New York Times called Pounding the Pavement by Heel or Toe and I was so excited to hear what they had to say! (I think my friend Chelsea actually did her thesis on this??? Right Chelsea?) Anyways the conclusion of the article was both heel and toe strikers have injuries but then said,

However, Mr. Kulmala said, the results also indicate that strategically altering how you land could be advisable for some runners. “People suffering from knee problems can benefit from forefoot striking,” Mr. Kulmala said. “Those who have Achilles’ tendon complaints can benefit from rearfoot striking.” Although switching form is not simple, though, as countless runners who have tried will attest.

Why does that make me so excited?  Because I am a heel striker when I run.... but am on my toes the entire hour in Step.  So since I run 3 days a week and do Step 2 days.... I am preventing the problems of just one impact.

If that isn't enough to convince you to look up the next step class at your local gym.... maybe this will.... Laura sent me this picture a few days ago.  She had announced to the whole 50 people in Step a couple morning ago how she couldn't believe how skinny I have gotten....  I of course kinda blew it off.  So later she sent me a picture from our Halloween workout party in 2008.... so 5 years ago?

Laura is the cute cave man..... but I am the third one from the left on the bottom row in green.  I was kind of shocked when I saw this.  I was almost 20 pounds heavier in this picture.... counting every calorie, working out every single day..... so what's the difference.
I'm happier, I have a lot less stress (I was in the middle of my masters), but probably most important I have discovered what my body needs.  And Step is definitely part of it.
But you can read more of my thoughts on it here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life as a teacher

Every time I remember my age I feel a prick of pain.  Thirty.  I hurt because I look around and it seems everyone has 2, 3, 4, heck some even 5 kids.... and here I am sitting alone (just literally, not figuratively... Jason is at a church meeting.)  Yesterday at the funeral I was reminded of the principle that I learn time and time again... in the end only family matters.

So of course it makes me sad.  I want kids, lots of kids.  I used to joke I wanted 12.  (I know I know ridiculous)  but it still hurts a lot when I'm sitting here alone.

But this weekend I was reminded how lucky I have been.  How even though I haven't been blessed with my own children yet, I have been blessed with so many children that it almost desensitizes me.  I was talking with Joanie about it the other day.  Now that we've been teachers for almost 10 years we are growing pretty catalyst.  I feel like I've experienced so many heart wrenching stories of what kids have to go through that they start to blend together just like I've been told positive feedback about being a teacher so much that it doesn't really affect me that much anymore.  Neither really give me the drive or motivation to be a good teacher like they once did.  Despite my best efforts I find myself viewing my kids as annoying stinky ungrateful punks.

But luckily every so often I have weekends like this where I am reminded of why I work so hard to do what I do.  And usually it gets me through until the next time I need to be whipped into shape.  

This weekend was state volleyball.  We went and watched my cute little kids win the state championship.  It was fun, it was exciting.  But most of all I loved watching those girls and the crowd of kids that I worked so hard to mold.  They are good kids.  And I feel so lucky to know them.

Then this morning I went to my star student's mission homecoming.  As soon as I saw him I had tears.  (I really am pathetic sometimes.)  I can't even put into words what this kid means to me.  But I was so proud as I sat and listened to his talk 100% about His Savior.  I couldn't help but think of how much this little boy with glasses that were too big for his face has changed and grown in the last 8 years that I have known him. 

As we drove home from his talk I couldn't help but think of a letter he wrote me when he found out I was leaving that school and would no longer be his teacher.  

Thank you, Miss Parson.  May you go to bed every night knowing that you have greatly enriched the lives of those around you--not least of all me. 

I feel so lucky right now.  Lucky that I've had the chance to be around, be influenced by, and hopefully help so many kids that I know are headed for greatness.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons

This morning as I woke up I was feeling sorry for myself. Nothing special. Just feeling sad. It wasn't soon after that my mom told me that Grandma Banks passed away last night. I had a smile as the tears ran down my face. Heaven got a special angel today but sadly the world loss just a little bit of sunshine. If there was a motto that represents Grandma Banks it would be, "When life hands you lemons... Make lemonade!" but sugar free lemonade.... (She was a huge health nut) So I guess just lemon water.

This goes perfect with my first memory of Grandma. When I was three or four she took my siblings and I to a natural hot spring water park. And sure enough she brought each of us a frozen water bottle... Frozen in Minute Maid lemon juice bottles. 

If I went through the details of Grandma's life you could see lemon after lemon after lemon. Her life was stricken with so many tragedies it's almost unbelievable. What would have been even more unbelievable is if you would have met her. You would have thought her life was a reflection of the sunshine she constantly spread. She loved life and more importantly people more than anyone I've ever met. 

As I try and think of her recipe for happiness it was really quite simple. She wanted to help people so that's what she did, maybe even to a fault. But she was so busy serving others that she didn't have time to worry about herself or what other people thought. 

She sang as loud as she could even though she rarely was on key. When I close my eyes and think of her I see her jumping on our tramp at the age of 82 singing as loud as she could. She loved life and she wanted to help everyone else love life too. 

Grandma, thank you for your love, thank you for your support, but most important, thank you for the frozen lemon water. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

How well do you know the world?

So at Epcot I made this fun game to see how well my students knew architecture from around the world.  It's a great reality check for me to remember how little they know the world when the average on this quiz was probably a 30%.  So I am curious.  How would you do?  (Even if my mom is the only person to take the quiz.  And not to brag but I'm already sure she'll get a 100%.  She is the reason I love geography.) One other caution.  Yes these are ridiculous selfies.... because for some reason if I am in the picture my students pay so much more attention than if it's just a beautiful picture. (reason why I think the schools should pay me to travel the world. :)
I recognize you can see the answer on the banner.
I covered that up for the quiz for my students
I actually think this one is the hardest.

1. China
2. Mexico
7. Morocco
8. England
9. Canada
10. Ireland
11. South Korea
12. New Zealand