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.