Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Brother, the State Champion

This year I had a great opportunity to coach a championship lacrosse team. I coached for Orem High where my brother Dave is caption of the defense. I actually didn't start coaching at the beggining of the year. I went to his first couple home games and sat on the sideline and cheered and tried not to give too much advice. After a few games the team was having a losing season again. My mom told me that my brother had never been on a team with a winning season. It was then that I decided to try and help out with the team.

My brother Pete was helping coach the defense, and my speciallty was in offense and face-offs, so I decided to see if I could help the offensive players. I started going to practice and the games. I focused on the three attack players and the face-off specialist. I spent quite a bit of time figuring out the strengths of each of these players. I then felt that I understood each of them well enough to help them become better. So I went to work.

During the next few games I had several frustrations with the team, but I also had several victories. I was able to make comments that I felt really made a difference and helped the offensense score more goals. The team started to improve quite a bit, but I still felt that they were missing something. Then for the last regular season game they played an undefeated team. I thought they stood a chance at winning, but it was going to be rough. I was out of town for the game so I didn't see it, but Orem won 18-6. I was shocked. When I came back and went to practice the attitude had changed. They no longer were just there to win a couple of games, they wanted so much more. I wasn't sure how deep there commitment was yet. Then a seemingly insignificant thing happened that I think showed quite a bit.

The coach was announcing at practice which players had been voted all conference. He started by saying that there was one disappointment. He said that since there were so many players from our team that won he thinks that made so one player didn't make it. He said that my brother dave missed it by one vote. My brother promptly responded that it doesn't matter. He said, "Just take state. Just win state, that is all I need. I don't need any recognition, just win state." The thing that surprised me so much is that he meant it. He really didn't need anyone to tell him he was good, he was so focused on the team winning state that personal regonition didn't matter at all. It was then that I realized that my brother was so focused on winning the state championship that I knew if that attitude would spread to enough of the team then they could do it.

I soon found that it seemed that most of the starting players seemed to have caught some of this attitude. (I am not saying that it started with Dave, there were definetly a couple of other players that I thought had developed this attitude earlier in the season just as my brother had.) Soon most of the team was on fire. The tournament started with an easy game, but the team took it seriuosly and had a blowout victory. The next game was a tough one, but was well fought and won. Then came the team that Orem had previously beat 18-6. It wasn't as easy this time, but the team pulled out a 7-5 victory to put them into the championship game.

Then came time for the championship game. My brother was so focused. He worked so hard and went over and over in his mind how the defense was going to play. He made sure he set a good example for the defense and then he made encouraging and helpful comments to help his teammates improve. All season long he took personal responsibility for ever point that scored on his defense. Yet every time the defense played well he was quick with praise for his fellow teammates and for my brother Pete the coach of the defense. It was so great to see my youngest brother become a great leader. He was someone who could lead his team to a victory. He was someone who was focused enough that I believed that it could happen.

The championship game started out the same way every game started, with the other team scoring first. I was definitely nervous, but I trusted my guys on offense and I knew my brother Dave was going to make sure the defense held their end of the field. I reviewed with each player on the offensive end what their job was and how they would score. Then it happened. We scored. Then we scored again, and again. I usually don't cheer at sporting events, but I was screaming from the coaches box every time we scored. I needed my guys to know that they were playing it perfect. Each one of them was doing their job. At the half the score was 9-2 for Orem High. I walked around and gave encouragement to the whole team, because they were all playing so well. They pulled through to the end of the game winning 15-9.

When the final whistle blew and the team stormed the field along with a mass of fans I had such an incredible feeling. They had done it. There had been some mistakes along the way, but that day Orem High showed that they had the best lacrosse team in the state. It felt so good to be a part of that amazing experience. The energy from the crowd was so incredible. The celebration that followed was as diverse as it was powerful. Some yelled at the top of their lungs (my bro Dave) some had huge smiles on their faces, others were very teary eyed. Whatever the method of celebrating the victory the message was the same--"We did it!"

That is a day that I will not soon forget. Nor will I forget the countless practices that my brother worked his hardest and encouraged others to do the same. I will always remember how several people on the team stepped up and decided that this year was their year. It was great to see so many people grow so much this year on that team. I especially will always remember my brother Dave. This was not just the year that he became a state champion, this was the year that he became a great leader. I hope he can continue to be a great leader throughout the rest of his life. Dave--congratulations, I am so proud of you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


As many of my readers know, I don't take a lot of pictures. My blog is one of text rather than full of photos. Several people have questioned me about this policy on not taking pictures and I realize I have many reasons that I don't take pictures, but recently I have realized another reason. Let me discuss this reason along with my day yesterday.

Last night I was on a beautiful full moon hike with a beautiful girl. We got to the top of my favorite cliff up Dry Canyon and the view was incredible. The girl I was with said it was an amazing view then quickly followed it up by say, "I can't believe that you don't take pictures!" I was kind of taken aback by this statement. I had told her a few days before some reasons that I don't take many pictures, but it was interesting that upon being confronted with an amazing view the first thing on her mind was why I didn't take pictures.

I have several small reasons that I don't take pictures and so none of the reasons stands alone as being convincing, but I want to speak about one reason that I gave my friend on the night hike. I try and spend a lot of time in the outdoors and see beautiful sights often. Pictures can be good to help remind me of a particular occasion or to show others how I do awesome things. However, I want to keep a store of beautiful images in my mind from all the wonderful views that I have seen. Because I don't have a camera that takes good pictures, I spend extra time trying to experience each view. I try and soak it up and remember it, I try and remember the smell the feel, the temperature, the colors, the emotions, and the place. I love remembering such images in my mind and reliving them. I know that I could still do this if I had a camera, but think the mindset is different. People who have a camera on a hike are often looking for a good shot or a good view. I am looking for experiences to have and images to remember. In short, I am too busy experiencing the out-of-doors to spend much time capturing a pathetic copy in picture form.

I do try and to my best to experience life to the fullest and remember those experiences. I think I will record some thoughts and experiences from my day yesterday to help me remember and help you to understand what I am busy doing.

I woke up way to early in a tent next to two of my best friends. We enjoyed some time around the fire. Chatted for a while then packed up and headed out. I had enough time to shower before I went to help coach my brother's lacrosse team. It was the quarter-final game in the state tournament and it was close all game long. In the end, Orem pulled out a victory and advanced to the semi-finals. I think they have a really good chance at taking state this year.

I then went and shoveled some horrible smelling compost for my parents. I could only help for a few minutes because I was going rock climbing with my rock climbing buddy (everybody needs a rock climbing buddy). We hiked up Rock Canyon a little ways and set up the rope on the tallest wall that I have ever done. It was a different sort of climb, but it was still challenging. It was scary to look down after I was more than half way to the top, but I kept on going. After we each climbed that wall we went to an easier wall so that I could practice speed. I was able to get to the top much quicker by taking chances and just forcing my way up even though I didn't know if there was a good hand hold up farther. After I did that a couple times we moved to a wall nearby that had a super hard part. Brian tried it and fell three or four times before he got past the obstacle, and when he came down he said, "I don't think that you can do it, not in your Chacos anyway." (I don't have rock climbing shoes so I climb in my Chacos which are sandals.) So naturally I needed to climb the wall. I did fall three or four times at the obstacle and by the time I reached the top I was bleeding from every appendage, but it was so worth it. It was my best day rock climbing ever.

After a much needed nap I went to my old ward's opening social BBQ. I enjoyed chatting with old friends, playing ultimate and, of course, a sweet BBQ. I then went to my new ward's opening social and enjoyed meeting new people and participating in the random activities. I also enjoyed exploring the park, because I hadn't been there in a long time and it is such a good park. After my ward activity I was really worn out, so my roommate Jason and I decided that we should spend a few minutes defending the world from alien attack. After killing several aliens some girls dropped by to visit us, so we put away childish things. We decided that a dance party needed to happen. So we were dancing it up when more people dropped by. It soon became a great event. I had to cut it relatively short because last night was a full moon and I never miss going on a full moon hike when there is a full moon.

So, like I said at the beginning. I went on a beautiful full moon hike with a beautiful girl. We had a great time spending time together and had so much fun chatting and enjoying the views. Overall yesterday was a great day, one to be remembered. I don't have a single picture taken from a camera from yesterday, but I can say that I have many wonderful images in my brain that are coupled with emotion and other senses that helped me remember what a great day it was. I hope I can keep adding to the store of wonderful memories so I always can have an amazing view if I just close my eyes and remember.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Man is an Island

Yesterday was my Grandmother’s funeral. This is my second grandmother to die this year. I am now officially out of grandmothers. I had several good thoughts at the funeral in January which I already wrote about. This funeral I had very different thoughts, but still very important to my life. The thought that kept going through my mind during the viewing and the funeral is the impact that my Grandma Williams had on this world. She is a very small woman--she may have been less than 5 feet when she died. She may have been small, but she had a huge impact on hundreds of lives.

It was repeated several times that she was a piano teacher for more than 70 years. I can’t imagine doing anything consistently for that long. She directed orchestras, bands and choirs all over the country. I just kept thinking of all the good that she did because of her love for music. She helped so many to learn how to play and love music. Music was her passion that she spread to so many.

In addition to her love for music affecting so many, I also thought about her love for the gospel. She raised her family in a small town in northern Michigan. There was a small branch of the church that had an organ but no one to play it. The branch president told the missionaries to go and baptize an organ player. Two weeks later my grandma started coming to church to play the organ for the branch. Her decision to join the church has helped so many people live happier lives. Her ripple effect is felt by so many and will continue through generations to come.

Her humor will be remembered for a long time also. Even with her failing health she always had a joke. She enjoyed a good prank every now and then also. Her last thing she said to a non-family member before she passed away was a joke to her doctor. She always liked to keep people on their toes.

I have had some time to think about how she affected me in my life. She always made me think that I shouldn’t take life to seriously. She always had a simple solution for every problem, whether it was a good solution or not. She led a very simple life and she truly enjoyed it. She has helped me to understand that I can have a great impact on the lives of others. I hope that I can always remember that I am affected by others and I affect others in turn. I hope that I can live my life so that others are better because I am around them, because after all, no man is an island.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Early Spring Adventures

I love the Spring weather. I have had many outdoor adventures now that the weather is happy. I think that I should list a few of adventures I have had in the past couple of weeks.

  • Full Moon Hike up Dry Canyon
  • Pi Night at Jeff's house
  • Hike to Battle Creek Falls on a beautiful afternoon
  • Camping with my cousin Jon in Johnston's Hole
  • I saw the Utah State Ballroom Dance Team's concert in Logan with a good friend
  • I put up sheet rock at my parent's house at Bear Lake
  • Lots of sweet dance parties and chillin with good friends
  • Horseback riding with Zack on the face of Timp
  • Festival of Colors
I think that I will talk about the last two because those are the most recent and possibly the most awesome.

My friend Zack and I get together almost every week to swap stories (usually about girls) and to discuss life (also usually about girls). This has become an important part of my life because Zack can give me a good perspective on things and he is always such a good friend. It came time that we needed to get together for a good quality adventure. We decided to take two of his horses up into the mountains and enjoy nice morning ride. So yesterday morning we got up early (8;30 am is early for me okay) and got the horses ready for the ride, which involved me getting bitten on the shoulder by a horse.

We decided to start at Canyon Glen Park in Provo Canyon and go up the mountain from there. We spent a little while saddling the horses (I saddled my own horse for the first time). We then rode up the steep hill into Johnston's Hole. It was a beautiful day for a ride, the sun was shining and the mountain was beautiful. I found that it is easier to enjoy the scenery when you don't have to focus on where your next step will be. We had fun telling each other about our lives and our adventures. It was great riding up.

However we all know that what goes up must go down. As we started to head down I noticed that my saddle was a little loose, so I got off and tightened it. The snow was melting and causing the mud to be especially slick. Zack decided that it was important for us to leave the trail and go straight down the mountain. This is when things really got dicey. My horse, who apparently had a loose shoe, decided that the slope was two steep. She started to walk to the side instead of straight down. This would have been okay if my saddle stayed in the same position, but no such luck. So as my horse was sliding down the slope sideways my saddle was sliding off the side of the horse. It became quickly apparent to me that I no longer wanted to be on the horse. As I was falling off I yelled to Zack that I was falling and he told me to jump off the horse. Those of you who have ridden horses may understand that it is not always that easy to 'jump off the horse.' It sometimes takes some skill to get your feet out of the stirrups. I didn't have much skill, but I think I made up for it in determination. I somehow managed to get off the horse and get out of its way before anything tragic happened. I decided to walk my horse for a minute until I could find flat ground to tighten the saddle. It was a great trip with Zack and I hope we spend many more adventures in the mountains solving our girl problems and discussing life.

Saturday afternoon Zack and I and a few other friends decided we needed to go to the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork. We tried to go a little early but the traffic was horrible getting there. After a few of Zack's 'short-cuts' we made it there just in time to join the fray. We were right in the middle of thousands of people when everyone threw brightly colored chalk into the air. It was an amazing sight, and it was hard to breath. It was a festival to welcome Spring. I can't think of a better way to welcome in spring than getting covered in colors and dancing to religious rock music. It was possibly the craziest festival that I have ever attended. There were several people crowd surfing, there were many lost cell phones and the crowd was so packed that at times we could only move with the crowd. It was crazy but it was great.

After we decided that we have breathed enough chalk dust and we were ready to go we went to somoneone's friend's inlaw's house (or something like that). We went swimming in their indoor pool (after we had showered, of course). The house was on the mountain and there was a beautiful view of the valley. It was my first time swimming since Aug 28, 2008, and I loved it. It felt so resfreshing after the chalk dust and the swimming of laps helped my muscles relax after the horseback riding of that morning. We had a great time and we were all glad that we had swimming as our post chalk dust activity.

Yesterday was a great day. I did fun things, I spent the day with good friends, all seems right in my life. I am excited to see what this next week brings because there are many more adventures to be had. I have met several great people recently and I am excited to get to know them better and I am always excited to meet new people. It has been a long time since the universe has seemed this in order. I the laws of entropy and enthropy must not be working in my life. Things and great and I am excited about life.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Parking in Provo

Last night I got a parking ticket south of BYU campus in Provo. Let me first say that I was clearly parked in a red zone and I deserved the ticket. I was dropping a girl off at her apartment and there was no parking within a half a mile that I could park legally, so I parked in a red zone and during the course of us saying our goodbyes I got a ticket. My frustration is not with the police officer, nor with the laws--there are red zones for a reason (of course at 3 am I didn't think I was a traffic hazard). My real concern is with the lack of parking altogether.

When you go to park in Provo you really have three forces that you need to watch out for: BYU parking enforcement, Provo Police, and all the booting/towing companies. It is well known that when you go into a hostile territory you need to evaluate your threats. I have been parking in Provo for a long time and so I will give my threat assesment.

Most dangerous: booting and towing companies. If you park in a parking lot of an apartment or a business that enforces its parking then there is a 98% chance that you will be booted if you are parked for over an hour past midnight. The fee for this is about $60, of course they are raising it all the time, so it may be higher now. As a general rule if I am visiting someone at their apartment I try and park on the street. That has worked well for me thus far.

Second most dangerous: BYU Parking Eforcement. When you are parked on BYU Campus don't think that you will get away with parking in an 'A' lot for a few minutes, because you won't. Also when the sign says 30 minute parking it doesn't mean 50 minute parking--don't think it doesn't get checked, because it does. The bright side is that the ticket is only $20 and if you appeal it then BYU will often wave it or cut the fee in half.

Third most dangerous: Provo Police. If you have a choice between a 'No Parking Zone' on a city street and an eforced parking lot after midnight--go with the city street. While there is a parking eforcement guy that patrols south of campus all day, at night it is just the regular cops. So during the day park in a parking lot, but at night the street is your best bet. The ticket for parking in a red zone is $25. I don't think I stand a chance of fighting it, so I will just pay it. I don't think I will change my parking habits either. Sometimes I drive around for 10 minutes to find a place and then walk 5 minutes to get to where I am going. Other times I take a chance that while I am dropping a girl off or picking her up I will be safe. I get a parking ticket in Provo every couple years. I figure that $12 dollars a year is well worth being able to park on random city streets at night. My one caution is that just because Provo Police is the third most dangerous for parking does not mean that they are not dangerous, as I found out last night.

I hope this guide helps people park in Provo. I have been parking in Provo for 5 years now and I have paid over $150 in parking fines. I have learned some lessons the hard way, but I feel I have gotten much better at navigating the jungle. I realize that sometimes there is just no place to park anywhere near the place that I am going. Sometimes I just walk, and sometimes, well, you know...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jared W makes a rash decision...

I haven’t written for a while, that is not because I haven’t had any good stories, but rather it is because I have been out living life and gaining great stories. A quick list of some things that I have done since I have last written seems in order here.
  • I repelled down the huge cliff that we tried before but didn’t have a long enough rope
  • I went running in the mountains
  • I danced the Salsa
  • Had a dance party almost every day, most of which were with myself
  • Played in the park with my niece and nephew while we were all wearing capes
  • Went to Vegas (details to follow)
The big adventure that I feel the need to write about involves my trip to Vegas, but that isn’t the whole story. Let’s go back to three weeks ago…

I was sitting in a hot tub with my friend Zack discussing life. We try to get together a couple times a month to sit in a hot tub and discuss our lives. As we were discussing my life he made a suggestion that I had heard many times before from many people. He said, “Why don’t you go to grad school?” I had been asked some form of that question a thousand times previous to that fateful night. I thought about it and we discussed it some more. I went home that night thinking that I needed to gather more information.

The next day I did some research with my friend Google and I discovered that the University of Utah had a Masters of Finance program that only lasts two semesters. I decided that that program would be right for me. I then started down the road to meet the application deadline on March 1. I needed to take the GMAT so I got some books and started studying. I have done some serious studying since then. My sister Amy told me that she didn’t think I have ever studied this much for anything before. I think she is probably right. I studied so much that I thought my brains would fall out.

Along with all the studying I had to jump through all the other hoops for the application process. I needed to find someone to write letters of recommendation. I couldn’t think of any professors who like me, so I tried to think if any of my Econ professors would even remember me. There was one class were I made jokes in class all day. So I called that teacher and not only did he remember me, but he was excited to write me a letter of recommendation. I don’t get to read the letter, but I am curious if it is payback for disrupting his class. I guess most teachers don’t get that good of opportunity to give payback to disruptive students.

So this last week my friend Mary and I went to Las Vegas to have fun and take the GMAT. I had studied as much as I was going to get in. I felt as ready as I ever was going to be. I went in there full throttle, I figured that oughtta keep those fighters off my back. I tried hard and I came out conqueror. I got a 640, which isn’t bad and isn’t great. I was hoping for a better score, but this score is good enough to get into the program, and might be good enough for a scholarship. After the test Mary and I had dinner and walked up and down the strip to see what there is to see. The fountains at the Bellagio were pretty great, that was probably our favorite part.

The rest of this weekend has been spent getting my essays ready to submit and finishing everything else that needed to be done. I submitted my application today. I am now planning to go to graduate school. I must be crazy. I haven’t done something this rash in a long time. But I feel good about it and I guess that there’s only one way to find out…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Worst Case Scenarios

Those of you who know me well know that I have always made it a point to be prepared for all worst case scenarios. I have read the “Worst Case Scenarios Survival Handbook” more than once and I have always thought through different scenarios in my head. I especially have thought through everything bad that could happen while I am in the mountains and what I would do if it happens. Having said this I realize that there really aren’t very many things that can really go wrong when I am in the mountains, or at home for that matter. Since I have thought through all the rational scenarios that I could come up with I have moved to some less rational ones. I need to tell the story about two conversations that I had last Saturday.

I was hiking with my friend Jason on the face of Timp on Saturday. We talked about many things, but it seemed that the conversation kept coming back to what we would do if we were attacked by Orcs. I have talked about this several times while hiking on the face of Timp because, as Jason and I agreed, Timp is the most Lord of the Rings-like mountain. This time, however, we spent quite a bit of time discussing different strategies and tactics that could be used against the Orcs. I decided that we didn’t need enough weapons to kill all the Orcs--just one--then we could use its weapons to defend ourselves against the rest. Anyway, we went on and on about various things that we would do or that would happen if Orcs attacked us on our hike.

Luckily we were not assaulted by any mythical beings, or real beings for that matter. We returned home safely and I felt that the trip was a great success and I feel much better prepared now should anything happen to me while I am in the mountains.

Then Saturday night I was chatting with my BFF Jeff. I told him about me being prepared for Orc attacks. He told me that he had been having some weird dreams and that because of those he found himself figuring out what he would do if zombies attacked his house. He said he realized that he didn’t have any guns so his best bet would be to hide and hope they weren’t found. I didn't want to nitpick, but I was like, Jeff, is this really your plan? Spend your whole life locked inside your house? Then I realized that without food or guns it would be hard to make the call.

Jeff and I spent some time discussing various strategies. We decided that hiding would probably be the best strategy under the circumstances. After we had discussed it for a while we both felt better now that we are better mentally prepared for when zombies attack.

Clearly I realize that zombies aren’t going to attack and that the likelihood of Orcs swarming the hills of Timp is slim. However, I do know that because I have thought through the various scenarios I can sleep well at nights knowing I am prepared. Judge me if you want. You are welcome to think I am crazy. But if you do, don’t come running to me when the zombies attack just because I will know what to do and I will be prepared.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I found that my life was being overwhelmed by the noise of everyday life. It seemed to me that it was difficult to get a quiet moment to think—I mean really think. So I decided to remedy this by going to the mountains by myself. I thought it would give me a great chance to really clear my head, and I certainly seem to have done that. Let me tell you a little bit about how this went down.

I left Monday about noon. I backpacked up Rock Canyon with the heaviest backpack I have ever carried. I was doing well for a little while because others had walked on the trail recently. However, at the Squaw Peak turnoff I was left to blaze my own trail through the two and a half feet of fresh powder. It was hard going. I was sinking in the snow about a foot and a half with many of my steps. In addition to the snow on the trail there was plenty of snow on the tree branches. The trees were bending over the trail so much that I had to use my walking stick to get the snow off the trees. Sometimes I thought I could make it under them and my backpack would hit the branches and all the snow would dump on me. It seemed like I had 50 pounds of snow dumped on me on this part of the trail.

It is easy to look back on a hike in the past and think that it wasn’t really as hard as I thought it was. However, I brought a camera and recorded myself talking to it like Survivorman. When I listen to the recordings I sound progressively more and more depressed as I go on. It was hard to figure out what was the right trail because it was all fresh powder and there were trees hanging over the trail. I have been on that trail so many times that I think I was able to guess right enough times to make so I didn’t have to backtrack. The last hour of my hike was in the fading light or just plain dark. I was so exhausted that I would hike for a minute and rest for a minute. It came to the point where at the end I would walk ten steps and rest for a minute. It was hard going, but I finally made it to the campground.

Once I was to where I wanted to be I set up the tent quickly and started my camp stove. I made some hot chocolate while I put on some more warm cloths. Then I cooked my frozen piece of chicken over the stove which took a very long time in the freezing weather. I finally consumed all of the chicken and I got my dry clothes on and got in my sleeping bags. Yes I did bring two of them plus a fleece liner. I didn’t want to freeze all night. I went to sleep for a couple of hours then woke up and couldn’t get to sleep until probably 5 or 6 am. I just laid in my bags and thought and thought and thought. I was great to have perfect silence and just have my head clear.

The next morning I woke up and took my time to get out of bed. It made it easy that the sun was shining and the air was much warmer than usual. I decided my project for the day was to build a fire. I needed wood first. There was at least five feet of snow so that made collecting snow much harder. I knew that at the campground where I was there was cut firewood somewhere for the campers. So I went to various mounds and dug to the bottom to see if I could find wood that I could burn. On the fifth mound I found a great treasure of cut firewood. I spent an hour digging it up and transporting it back to my camp. For those of you that think I am a wimp I want to see how long it takes you to dig through five feet of snow with the bottom three feet being frozen. It takes a little while.

I then dug a fire pit at my camp. This also took a little while because I wanted it right. After I had gathered a little kindling it was then time for me to start a fire. I used flint and steel to ignite newspaper, and then I set up a lean-to with crumpled up newspaper and small twigs. I could not get the twigs to stay on fire. I tried again and again. I used different twigs and tried to get anything to sustain a flame. The twigs would not burn. As a last resort I even used my camp stove to try to ignite some twigs for the fire. Each piece of wood I put on the stove took almost a minute until it was actually on fire. I had never dealt with anything that frozen before. After the sun had been behind the mountain for about an hour I finally decided that it was important that I got warm and quick. I went in the tent and got dry and got in my sleeping bags. This is when I got my best thinking done. I really had hours to think and read and cry. Once I felt that I had worked through everything and my head was clear I went to sleep.

I woke up early in the morning and packed up quickly. I flew down the trail. There were several spots where I was running even though my legs were so sore from the ascent. I got home and took a long shower and a nap. Since that day I think my life has been clearer. I feel like I have a greater view of where I need to be going. I am very excited about my future and my life. I think that it only took a couple of nights in the mountains for me to be reminded how to listen. There is great reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Live Like You Were Dying

One week ago was my grandma’s funeral. I thought that I would be able to deal with it just fine. I had spent an enormous amount of time with her in the past couple months. She was ready to die and ready to be out of pain. I even had a chance to say goodbye which I am glad that I took. However, her funeral was hard on me. I guess I didn’t realize quite how much I would miss her. It is hard to realize how much you will miss someone when you have always had them. While sitting at the funeral I wrote a few notes of the things that I have learned from my grandma. I hope that these can help someone else live like they were dying. I am going to start with a quote by Henry David Thoreau:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life

I feel that my grandma sucked the marrow out of life with all the energy that she had right until the end. I will now share some things that I have learned from her.

• Dance everyday – My grandma loved to dance. She met her husband dancing. She danced all the way up until she got polio in her late twenties. She wasn’t able to dance the rest of her life, I think that I need to help make up for the fact that she didn’t get to dance as much as she would have liked to.

• Experience nature every chance you get – She didn’t get out very much the last several years of her life. Ever since she had polio it was hard for her to go anywhere. When I spent time with her in the last few months she would always look out the window to see if there were any deer in her backyard. She always looked for the Quail that lived in her yard. Every time we walked past the window she would stop and appreciate nature. She didn’t get very many chances in the last few years of her life to go up in the mountains, but I do have that opportunity and I am certainly going to take advantage of it.

• Laugh – She told jokes right to the end. Even if she was in so much pain she still told jokes and laughed at her own jokes. She was so funny.

• Smile – She never really frowned. She was in so much pain all the time, but she always smiled. I think that that added so much to her life. I hope I can smile through it all also.

• Attend the temple often – She only had enough energy to go out a couple times a week. She would go to church and the temple. This really made me think-- if I could only go out once a week would I go the temple?

• Walk on your own two feet as long as you can – When I took care of her these last couple months there was something that I didn’t understand at first. She hardly had any energy. It took so much out of her for her to walk with her walker. Yet she still refused to get into the wheelchair to get from her bed into her chair on the other side of the house. Sometimes it took half an hour for her to go from one to the other (with a sit-down break in the middle). Why was she like this? I am still not completely sure, but I think that I have an idea. All she could do on her own anymore was to make the trek from her bed to her chair. She was determined to do all she could on her own and then get help with what she couldn’t do. Her spirit of independence was inspiring. I got the feeling that she could do anything that she put her mind to.

• Share what is important to you with those you love – Grandma always called her kids to tell them when there was something good on TV. She called to give and receive updates on the rest of the family. She always was there for anyone who was struggling. One year ago she sent me a hand written letter. This letter must have taken her several hours to write with her shaky hand. She enclosed one of her favorite talks and said how she was praying for me and was trying to help me with my life. That letter still means a great deal to me.

• Reach out to help everyone you can – Grandma never complained about her health. There was only one thing that she said that was even close to complaining. She often said that she wished she was stronger so that she could help more. She always wanted to help her kids and grandkids. She did so much good with helping us pay for our missions and college. She always was so generous with her money. She would help in any way that she could. I hope that I can put forth as much effort as she did to help those around her.

• Spend time with children – She loved her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. She loved spending time with small children and loved when they would visit. I think this is something that can keep anyone focused on what is important. It is easier to keep in mind what is important when you are spending time with young children.

• Use adversity as stepping stones – Grandma had bad health her whole adult life. Instead of using it to inhibit her she would use it as an aid for you more rapid progress. She was always so humble, appreciative and loving. I really think she used her obstacles to help her achieve these wonderful qualities in great abundance.

• Love – This is the quality that she had in such great abundance. She had so much love for everyone. She showed love for everyone. I always felt her love every time I was in the room with her. I realize that this is something that is hard to gain for all of us. How do we deal with being hurt? How do we overcome selfishness? How do we forget about ourselves and just focus on others? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I believe that the answers lie in grandma’s life. I intend to find them. I want so bad to love like grandma did. I intend to work towards that end in honor of grandma and all others who have loved me.

I learned so much from grandma. She lived like she was dying her whole life. She did her best to live each moment to the fullest. I will miss her, but I will also make sure that she will live on in me. When I see a deer in the mountains I will watch its grace for an extra second for grandma. When I see a sunset I will try and linger a moment longer realizing how much grandma would have loved it. But most of all I will continue to try to live by the motto “Dance like nobody’s watching and love like you’ve never been hurt.” Thanks grandma for everything. I guess I will see you in a few years when it is my turn to move on to the next great adventure. Goodbye Grandma.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Full Moon Lunacy

Last night was a full moon, so clearly a full moon hike was in order. I had planned to go to the same meadow that I usually go to and have a fire and even cook some food over the fire. I knew that things would be different this time because of the snow, but I thought we could make it work.

I started at the trail head at about 7:30, so I thought we had plenty of time. My friend Heather came with me, she was all sorts of excited for a good adventure. We hiked relatively quickly since the trail was well packed down and it wasn’t too hard of a trail. Half way though, however, we went off the main trail and only had a couple of snowshoe tracks that we were walking in. The hike got considerably harder at this point because we didn’t have snowshoes and we would fall through the crust of the snow often. We kept going even though the trail just seemed to get more and more difficult as we continued on. After what seemed like an incredibly long hike we finally reached our destination—and that is when things got dicey.

When we got to the meadow we had to go off of the trail we had been following. Since there was more than three feet of snow every step was very difficult. I had planned to find firewood by either digging some up or tearing them off dead trees. This task seemed like it was a lot harder now that I was actually there. I asked Heather if she thought we shouldn’t have a fire and we should just go back down. She asked if I thought I could start one if our lives depended on it. I told her, “Of course I can.” Then she said that we came for a fire, we should have a fire.

I then spent 20 minutes breaking off tree branches and even digging some wood from under the snow. It was both difficult and dangerous. I was pulling dead trees on top of me, it wasn’t fun. Once I thought I might have enough for the evening I went about starting the fire. This part wasn’t very hard. I started the fire quickly and we had a hot fire to warm us up. After I made sure both of us were warm I started cooking some taquitos over the fire. Then I started cooking the piece of chicken that I brought.

The fire turned out difficult to maintain because it kept burning lower and lower but the big logs didn’t sink with it. So I had to readjust the fire several times and every time I did I got more snow in the fire which made it hard to keep it going. We did manage to keep the fire going the whole time we were there. It finally melted down to the ground and then we just didn’t get very much heat from it because we were three feet above it.

When we decided to go we kicked some snow on the fire (not that we were actually worried it would start anything else on fire). Then we continued down on the hike. I was difficult going down, but we had a great time. It was one of my best adventures in a long time for several reasons. I enjoyed the challenge to start a fire in a meadow covered in snow. I enjoyed the great conversation around the campfire. The mountain was incredibly beautiful last night. Also, and perhaps most importantly, I felt that Heather, my adventure buddy, fully appreciated each part of the adventure. She really appreciated the difficulty of starting a fire, and the beauty of the mountain. It was a great adventure and I hope to continue to have wonderful adventures in the future, after all, this is 2009.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009: The Year is Mine

I was considering doing a review of the year 2008. I decided against it for a couple of reasons. First: I already did a picture review of the summer, and second: I really didn’t want to write what I really felt about the year. I guess we can suffice it to say that I learned a lot from 2008, but those lessons are still a little too hard to talk about. So I am going to write about 2009.

I am really excited for 2009. I have been looking forward to it for some time now. Ever since New Year’s Eve night I have felt that there has been a huge weight that has been lifted from me. I think that this is the time for me to make things happen in my life. I didn’t have a lot going for me in 2008, but this year is going to be different.

Friday night I went hot-tubbing with my sister and her husband. We went early evening, and it was the perfect time. It started snowing when we were there. It was so beautiful to see the fluffy snow fall down. It is a great experience to be in a hot-tub when it is snowing. There is something really great about snowflakes landing on your bare skin and still being warm. It is something that I hope to participate in several times this year. It was an amazing evening. I enjoyed having some good quality chill time with my sister and her husband. I don’t hang out with them often enough.

It was a long December, but there are many reasons to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last. I am looking forward to a great year. Thanks to all my great friends who have been with me through the hard times. You guys are great and I really do appreciate you so much. I think that we all have a lot of great things coming soon.