Saturday, February 26, 2011

Natalie Norton: An Embarrassingly Shiny Tribute

I was on a roll for a minute there, wasn't I? And then 10 days with no posts? Ah, well. No matter. I'm all for starting over!

I had the incredible opportunity to attend Natalie Norton's Breathe Intensive last Tuesday. I feel like singing from the rooftops about it, believe me, but I also don't know where to start--I'm still processing half the stuff she so generously taught us. I just have to say, because it will be such empty silence if I don't SAY what my heart is singing so loud--that Natalie is one of the most wonderful people I've met, and to know her (even just to meet her) is to love her. She felt like my fifth sister. She radiates light and goodness and warmth, and while I'm obviously pretty agog at her talent, like a crazy fan (that I am), she remains so friendly and relatable. {Dear Spell Check, will you stop underlining relatable? I tried spelling it four different ways and STILL you insist on that ugly red squiggle. There is no pleasing you.} I was also touched by the beautiful women who attended the intensive. Their stories were poignant and powerful, and I feel like I am forever changed. I really could go on ad nauseum {REALLY, Spell Check?! N-A-U-S-E-U-M!....really?! No soup for you.}about how wonderful the intensive was and how wonderful Natalie is, but just know that I am fired up and so excited about my next steps! I'm still puzzling about what those next steps might be, but I've got an inkling, and it does involve, at the very least, THIS....and I mean it this time. I'm so ready.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"....thank you for being a friend..."

{I couldn't do without the Golden Girls theme song quote for this post. Just so hilariously appropriate.}

My sisters tend to love the people I love. And I tend to love their friends, too, either through them or when I ever meet them.

Sometimes I'm full to bursting with appreciation for my sisters' friends, and I want to shout from the rooftops about it, so this blog is my roof at the moment:

Friends of my sisters, THANK YOU! Thank you for calling them when you feel prompted to do so. Thank you for bringing them dinner when they are so sick they can hardly move. Thank you for watching their children so they can go on dates with their wonderful husbands. Thank you for praying for them, for crying with them, for laughing with them, and for loving them as they are, in all their beauty and complexity. 

If I could be there every moment any of my sisters need me, I WOULD...but I can't. And I do believe that is one of the many beautiful reasons we have friends in this life. So THANK YOU, sweet friends of my sisters, for doing what you do!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday stream-of-consciousness

Phill had drill today. I didn't want to go to church. But the messages in class today were ones I needed, the kinds of lessons that prompt me to thank the Lord that I made that oft-repeated and often-difficult decision to wake up, get my children and myself cleaned, dressed, fed, and go to church. It was three hours rife with answers I had prayed for.

After church was over, we walked fast in the mild cold to our van, the children behind me like my little ducklings in a line. All of us sleepy and hungry, we got home and sort of came apart at the seams, strewing belongings and requests left and right. Jaxon: "Mom, will you plant my zucchini seeds?" and in the same breath, "Mom, can you unbutton my shirt?" Savvy chimed in, "Pea-butter-jelly. No, turkey. No, pea-butter-jelly-turkey. No, hearts. Mama, I want hearts." While telling Savvy that candy hearts would be part of her lunch, I changed into more comfortable clothes and hid in the bathroom for a second, composing my mind and still thinking of the lessons from church.

Lunch made and eaten, we settled into the couches to watch Swiss Family Robinson. While the kids watched with stars in their eyes, I remembered my younger reaction to it (starry-eyed, too), and then got very, very sleepy. I kept myself awake by wondering what, if any, part of this movie was true. (Hardly any of it, turns out)

From my blanketed warmth on the couch, looked at the messy living room, the lunch food on the table, the dirty tiles of the floor, and the hopeless paper explosion that is the desk, and remembered one of the lessons from today--a lesson on work. The value, necessity, and joy of hard work. Ironic and necessary, given my current state!

I have grand plans for tonight and this week, plans involving organizing and preparing and pulling myself out of this slump. Should I take Before & After pictures to chart my progress and add a little steam to my motivation? :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Family: Reed

You might have noticed an additional name added to the queue at the top of my interviews the last few days. The truth is, it's not additional, it was part of the queue all along.

I sent this in an email to my siblings and a dear family friend a couple of days ago:

Something has been bugging me about my interviews, something that has nothing to do with your answers or anything YOU all did...

I want to address our brother Reed, but I don't. I don't want to deny that he still lives in my memory and that I feel he is still very much a part of my family. But I also feel guarded about what I share about him, because....well, I don't know why. Maybe because it's a subject that sometimes makes me cry...Or maybe because it's a somewhat complicated subject to approach on a blog, and doesn't need to be approached in that forum. But every time I looked at the list of names above our interviews, I felt wrong that I didn't include Reed's up there. Just incomplete and almost like I WAS being in denial or something, or being somehow fake.

The responses from my dear loved ones had one thing in common--they were compassionate and full of good ideas. The gist of what they suggested was--do what you will, we love you. And even better, a couple of them willingly shared memories of my brother Reed with me, memories that make me feel as if he's not really so far away, or that the time between now and when I get to see him again will go fast.

The fact remains that my brother Reed died when I was 9 and he was 17. It is something I don't write about, and don't much blog about except in rather roundabout ways. I don't mind talking about him--I love talking about him; I love him--but my thoughts and feelings for him are something quite personal to me, and....a blog is a very big space in which to disperse such things.

So it follows that I've thought for a long while about what I could possibly say about him, if anything, that would honor his memory and still give you, my dear friends, some idea of who he was. See, I have this bad habit. I tend to avoid talking about or working out things that cause me a less-than-manageable amount of emotional pain. If it hurts, I don't like it. But in the last several months of hard-earned personal growth that I have experienced (through blood, sweat, tears, and prayer), I have (I hope) gotten better at gently examining those things that are not as pretty to think about. Things that aren't comfortable. Things that make me even more vulnerable than I already feel I am. I read a quote a few days ago that hit me to the quick, especially in light of this recent endeavor.

"...[do not] sacrifice hope in order to bury pain. The Lord is the one who can heal all pain, and as we trust Him, He reminds us that we have everything to hope for."

I want to be clear: No matter my earthly pain over losing my brother, I have never and will never lose hope that I will see him again when my spirit leaves my body. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I know that my family will be complete again. My children will know my brother.

And though I know I don't need to publicize this in a public forum to make it real, I am choosing to openly express that I am forever blessed to be Reed's sister, and his life was a masterpiece in its own right.

I could never summarize him--just as I can never summarize my other siblings, and just as most people really shouldn't be summarized in the first place...but I am choosing to share a little of him, and a whole lot of my love for him, and I am pleased to celebrate his life.

* * * * * * *


When I was 7 or 8, we had some of that "ancient" computer paper--the really wide, large pieces of paper with the perforated sides? I would take the sides off and make little paper springs by folding them together in alternating squares.

Anyway, one day I decided to make a mailbox using this large computer paper. I taped a piece to my bedroom door, then taped three sides of another to that piece, and wrote on the front in large letters, RACHEL'S MAILBOX. I drew beautiful pictures on it, then sat down in my room to wait. After about five minutes of tense and excited waiting, I realized I hadn't told anyone about it. So I made the rounds through the house, letting everyone know I had a mailbox and if they had any mail for me to please direct it to my mailbox. Then I sat down to wait again.

As the minutes wore on, my patience waned, and my excitement turned to bitter disappointment. I sagged with the letdown. I wandered around the house, forlorn, wondering what everyone could be doing that was so important. I leaned in the doorway of Reed and Isaac's bedroom, where they were bent over their notebooks, drawing and laughing with each other. Reed looked up and quickly assessed my mood. "What's wrong, Rae?" I couldn't help but cry. "No one has given me any mail yet!" Reed smiled and said, "Hey, I bet if you wait just a little longer, you'll get some mail soon!" He sounded so sure that I had to believe him. I took to my room and busied myself with my miniature horses, quietly hopeful. Some time passed, and then--so quiet it was almost unmistakable--phith--the sound of paper against paper. I waited a moment in agony, and then opened the door, slid my hand into the huge sheets of paper and, shaking with joy, pulled out a beautiful piece of art.

He didn't stop there. Long after everyone else had (followed his example and) given me mail, he gave me another note.

And, distraught when I couldn't find these precious pieces of paper some months after his death, I prayed desperately, and my prayer was answered when I found them--intact and beautiful as ever--in one of the drawers of my desk.

I look at those letters from him and I see again the way his eyes lit up when I ran down the stairs and flung my arms around him to thank him. I see his smile and his handsome face, and I remember that though he is far away from me during the rest of my mortal life, his love, his impact, his imprint, never left.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Family: Isaac

 Madelyn * Kathryn * Me * Abigail * Elizabeth * {Isaac} * Reed
One of my favorite memories with Isaac is when I was probably about 7, and we lived in North Carolina. We were in the living  room, and I had a corner of a blanket held in each hand, flowing out behind me, while Isaac was teaching me how to "fly". He would draw a squirrel flying off the couch in various attitudes, and I would try to replicate what he drew. He and Reed used to call me and Abby "Algae Biscuit" or "Lard Token"....names so obscure and only vaguely insulting, but Abby and I--believe it or not--would fight over who was which one! So Isaac and Reed would laugh to the sounds of, "No, I'M Algae Biscuit!" and "But Isaac said YOU were Lard Token!" One of my favorite things about Isaac is his happiness. In fact, his name means "laughter", and it's completely appropriate! He used to create entire dialogues with a sock monkey I have (once she was Cyndi Lauper and went on Oprah; another time she was a beauty consultant; another time she was wearing a diaper....) He makes beautiful art, beautiful food, and beautiful conversation. He makes my life sweet with his open heart and generous spirit. Isaac:

What brings you most happiness?

Happiness comes to me in its true and pure form from within through my connexion to what I call Holy Spirit, Divinity, and Source, among other names.  I experience happiness as being my own essential nature and the nature of life. Therefore I do not look for or truly find happiness in the outer world of ephemeral manifestation, but rather in the inner world of Being.What would you say is your occupation currently, and/or what would you prefer it to be in the future?

I’m currently working at couple of jobs, including a part time position in the supplement department at a natural foods store and a part time position as a sort of machinist and research consultant with a company that makes water structuring tools.

I also offer nutritional consulting and remote energy healing to preapproved clients.  In the future I will be working to provide exotic alchemical, energetic and/or spiritual supplements. I also anticipate being quite active as a music producer in the coming years, with my own record label called Magnetic Flame.What is your favorite memory with Rae?
Favourite… that’s hard to pin down. She and I have a unique connexion that involves a deep acceptance and appreciation of each other that transcends any particular experience. I remember when she and I used to run together in Hinesville, Georgia; I enjoyed that, and the conversations we had! I remember how intense Rachel has always been, and I love that about her. She has always been kind to me and respectful.

What makes you laugh really hard?

Oh, I laugh a lot. The last time I remember laughing uncontrollably, actually rolling on the floor and squealing and such, was when I was hanging out with my friends Erika and Kae, and we found a video online where two men were studying a rare sort of parrot in the jungle somewhere, and the parrot mounted one of the men and tried to mate with his head. The parrot was up on the back of his neck and was going at him, and its wings were beating his head like crazy, and the man was just tolerating it. The man was british, and instead of listening to the audio of the video, we were listening to – oh, what was it? – it might have been Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” but I don’t quite remember.

You know, it’s not something that’s easy to predict, what would make me laugh really hard. So often it’s about something being a surprise.
What are three of your favorite family memories?

Spending time together at the fabulous, magical rope swing at Lake Gatun in Fort Espinar, Panama.

Playing “mole” when we were little: making a huge pile of blankets and pillows and crawling around in it.

Visiting places of amazing natural beauty while on road trips.

Our brief stay at Noriega’s guest house in Panama. The house was a bit creepy to me, but the time together as a family was great (not unusual!) and the cliff where the house was situated was an exciting place to be. I enjoyed the drive there.
Come to think of it, I used to really enjoy going on drives and road trips with Mom, Dad, and my siblings. When I was really young I was usually very much in my own imaginary world, which involved imaginary creatures and superhero types.

What do you do to relax?
I like to sit or lie down in a dark quite place and focus on my breathing, then I focus on my heart, and I just let go of all concerns, surrendering all of my cares and needs to Goddess/God.

Three books you love?
Frek and the Elixir, by Rudy Rucker. A really fun science fiction novel.
No Attachments, No Aversions, by Lester Levenson. A book with a spiritual message that resonates with me.
Science and Human Transformation: Subtle Energies, Intentionality and Consciousness by William A. Tiller. A book of brilliant science.

What are two favorites of all the places we've lived as a family?
Panama and Colorado. Both are beautiful, magical, and beloved to me.

What do you love about where you live now?
Many things! I love how green it is, and how many trees there are, and how sweet the spring and summer are, and how the winters are mild but not too mild, and how the sunsets are long in the fall, and the sunrises are long in the spring, and how the days are long in the summer, and the nights are long in the winter. I love the little birds that hang out in the trees in our yard, and the raccoons that live in the backyard, the cats that hang out in the alley, the squirrels that chase each other through the trees, the bumblebees that fly around the flowering mint, the white and pink roses that grow so vigorously every year, the tough blackberry vines and their generosity with their fruit… There are a lot of nice people here too! I could go on and on, but let’s leave it at this.

Tell us about your family (your kids, spouses, people who make your life joyous and full, people you are happy to be surrounded by....)
I have no kids and no spouse. I live with several dear friends and I have a beloved girlfriend. They are all creative people who love music and art.

I have two dear friends, Glee and Reese, who are 7 and 9 years old, and we often play make-believe games on the trampoline. I love these times when we use our imaginations to create characters and stories and entire worlds together.

I have about a dozen core friends who I love dearly.

What does your dream home look like?
My dream home is alive… there are plants all around and within it, and the walls and floor and ceiling are cultured with beneficial microbes. There are lots of soft and inviting surfaces to rest and play on. There are at least two large trampolines built into the house. There is lots of light (mostly natural) and good ventilation. Cats and other animals live there too. There are pianos and other musical instruments available for anyone to play. There is a very well stocked kitchen with excellent appliances such as a Vitamix.

Do you have pets? Tell us about them, and maybe briefly share a memory of one of the pets we had as a family.
I have no pets. Someday I will probably adopt a kitten.

Years ago our family had a turtle for while. I loved that turtle but it didn’t seem right to keep him. We also had some horny toads (actually lizards whose state of sexual arousal was totally ambiguous to me) and I felt like they were unwilling captives as well.

Reed had some mice for a while that kept on having babies. The father kept eating the babies, and Reed eventually fed him to a snake that a neighbour kept.

Of all the pets we ever had, Elroy the Rocket is the most beloved to me. I will always love him! I bonded with him when he was a kitten. When he was little we used to chase each other around the house at night, hiding from each other, and surprising each other with fake attacks. It was so exciting! I remember the sounds of him running across the house at top speed. He’d burst round the corner and fly through the air at me with all four limbs splayed, claws deployed, and then bounce right off me and go run and hide. Then I would find him and pounce on him, grabbing him for just a split-second, and then I would run away so that he could hunt me down again.

What do you like to create? What makes you feel most create-ive?
I love to make music, and to draw, and to make up recipes. I enjoy collaborating with people, especially doing make-believe games with my kid friends on the trampoline, creating amazing adventures together.

What do you love to eat?
Macadamia nuts, green smoothies, cherries, raw chocolate smoothies, weird and exotic novelty items, raw milk, quesadillas with basil and cilantro and avocado, quinoa with vegetables, blueberries….

What is your favorite thing about where you are right now? (This can be Where You Are as in the state or city you're in, or Where You Are as in what your life is like, etc...)

Oh, I love that I am in a place where I feel loved and loving, thankful and appreciated, easeful, happy, abundant and content, and connected to Divinity.

P.S.-If you think of something more you want to share/add, feel free! I have no problem with that.

Okay… Words that describe qualities that I cherish in my family:

  • Silly and Playful
  • Caring, Loving, Kind
  • Intelligent
  • Humble
  • Beautiful
  • Sincere
  • Courageous

That’s it! Thanks for asking.

With love and care,
Isaac A. Boatright


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Family: Liz

Madelyn * Kathryn * Me * Abigail * {Elizabeth} * Isaac * Reed

Liz is a dynamic balance of gentle and kind and determined and brave. Like me, she cries when happy or touched or sad or mad or tired or laughing--and that might be one of my favorite things about her! She ran track in high school, and was fast and fluid, "like the wind", my dad said. She did French braids, ponytails, and all other manner of hairstyles for her four younger sisters, and she painted our nails. She once memorized a passage of the book Matilda (for a speech class?) and let me tell you, her rendition of the Trunchbull was oddly spot-on, coming from our loving Liz. (Still waters run deep.) Liz was usually first on the scene when any of us cried, most likely to be behind the scenes helping things run smoothly, and last to leave a laughing session. She was, and always has been, just what I needed. Liz:

What brings you most happiness? Trying to follow Jesus!

What would you say is your occupation currently, and/or what would you prefer it to be in the future? Homemaker currently; future: homemaker and published author, counselor/therapist

What is your favorite memory with Rae? Hard to pick only one; first one that comes to mind is laughing at the cats outside our window in La Maisiere, the Belgium guest house.

What makes you laugh really hard? Rae! Seriously! This one story she told me . . . well, I don't know if she wants it posted . . . also, I like Brian Regan . . . [Liz, what is this story?]

What are three of your favorite family memories? (Long, short, silly, otherwise--whichever) not in any order: 1-going to a movie as a family & then all of us leaving together b/c it was inappropriate; it helped me feel secure & learn to be less afraid of what other people thought of me/us  2-the tree house, rope swing, and Lake Gatoon in Panama! 3-going to Dad's office for Halloween, camping out watching movies and eating candy Dad bought for us

What do you do to relax? I put my ear buds in and listen to nice music, hold really still (if possible), and/or read and escape into a book.

Three books you love (and why, if you feel like typing that out) To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, and Bonds That Make You Free.

Two favorites of all the places we've lived as a family Panama (I was eleven. Blissfully unaware of political drama with eyes only for the flora and fauna)  and Colorado (I was in my prime! 11th grade)

What you love about where you live now The Wichita Mountains aren't far; we go often, hike, boulder, and rock climb. It is so quiet and peaceful. Except when you see a buffalo really close--that's an amazing experience but I wouldn't call it quiet or peaceful exactly . . . I love the quiet neighborhood, the laidback feel of the people here, the great people I have met, through school, church, and at the library.

Tell us about your family (your kids, spouses, people who make your life joyous and full, people you are happy to be surrounded by....) Eleven years ago, with absolutely zero doubts and a soaring heart I married Patrick Edward Davis, who has helped me be a better person and made me laugh. We have four children-Seth, 9, Josh, 7, Claire, 5, and Andrew, 3. People who make my life joyous and full? My friends and family!! I feel blessed with true, good friends, everywhere I have lived, which was a lot of places. I sorely miss my dear friend Marguerite, who I moved away from in San Antonio, and I currently have a special friend here in Oklahoma by the name of Melissa!

What does your dream home look like?Seriously I feel like my current home is a dream home to me! I guess in the future I'll change a few things but I don't really think about it much b/c I feel so content!

Do you have pets? Tell us about them, and maybe briefly share a memory of one of the pets we had as a family. Not yet--hoping for a kitten! One day! And maybe a small, cute, nice dog that's already potty trained?

What do you like to create? What makes you feel most create-ive? I like to create stories, poems, puns, things with words . . . I think what makes me feel most creative is writing a really good well-organized essay or journal entry.

What do you love to eat? Pretty much anything--I do love to eat! I guess I don't love things that are too spicy, and I really have not acquired a taste for Brussels sprouts yet.

Liz lives in Oklahoma [where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain, and the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet] with her husband, Pat, and their four kids.