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GUEST BLOGGERS: Journey Beyond Survival & nakiru

OPEN CASTING CALL

Casting multiple roles for a blogger community extraordinaire!

We all have been feeling the loss of our Apron Stage habit, and while we know that nothing could fill the void created by our daily doses of Lisa, Louise, Rebecca and Sarah, we are unwilling to see this community fade away.  Since the neighborhood of commenters was often as much of the attraction as the posts themselves, we would like to propose a new forum for our “small stories,” as they were termed on the Facebook fanpage.

We, Journey Beyond Survival and nakiru, are starting the ball rolling on a new blog. We are looking for other hardy souls interesting in posting, whether it be regularly or just on occasion, giving us a chance to get to know you and comment like mad, just like in the old days.

We’re hoping for is a diverse community, a smorgasbord of personalities.  What we would like to see is not an Apron Stage 2.0, since that’s not a void we could fill, but instead a blog that we all have a piece of ownership in, a vested interest, not just in the publishing, but in the support of everyone else’s “small stories.”

If you have an interest in being a part of this as a poster, please send an email and if at all possible, a potential post to Journey Beyond Survival (journey.beyond.survival at gmail dot com) or nakiru (nakiru at live dot com). If you don’t have a post waiting in the wings, don’t let that stop you from letting us know your interest. We are hoping to start this ball rolling as early as July 1.

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GUEST BLOGGER: STEPHANIE SONKSEN

Stephanie works in D.C. and lives in Virginia. Her dad owns a peanut butter company and her mom runs a sweets shop and sells fruitcake in Ohio. Please note the juxtaposition of her photo and the title and content of this post. She is currently single.

When your heart is broken, everything is more real and surreal at the same time. I can suddenly feel my fingertips. How long have they been there? How long have I been able to feel them? Everything besides my own body seems far away, and I feel removed. I am alone.

The days pass and people whisper “she’s doing so well,” “she seems really happy.” The expectations are miraculously low. I am grateful that people tip toe around the issue. My boyfriend and I broke up. Let’s not talk about it.

Let’s talk about my evenings. Read the rest of this entry »

Tom

Last year Louise made a solo drive to Newport Beach. She wanted to prove to herself that she “could still do it.” I had no doubts, but she, being the person she is, was not so sure. Maybe she had early onset Alzheimer’s or some other undiagnosable, incurable ailment. So she drove off, waving a giddy wave as she rounded the corner and into the west. The first night, she called from a $6.00 a night casino on the western Nevada border. “I’m doing it,” she said. “I can still do this. And it’s only costing me $6 a night.”

Night after night, she checked in. Each time she said how happy she was to have made the trip, how she now wanted to work on the car ferry between Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula, beginning as the fare collector and moving up to pilot of the boat. “I know I could do it,” she said. “I asked the guy collecting money if I could work there,” she said. “He said I should apply in the fall when the student collectors go back to school. I could be a money collector on a ferry.”

And then, on the last night, when I thought I knew where this was all going, that she would return home to trouble-free hugs and kisses from me, she said, “I want you to woo me when I get home.” Read the rest of this entry »

GUEST BLOGGER: ANDREA DEWEY RICHARDS

Andrea asked her two sons Eli and Adam how they would introduce her. They say:

You never think anyone is really hurt until Dad comes back from taking them to the emergency room. You love naps. You really like naps. You want us to eat healthier food. You like going to the YMCA with Telia to swim at 6 in the morning. You don’t like cleaning, but you love naps. You love reading. You’re good at getting pink eye. You like writing stuff like this. You sneak everything into our food—our corn chowder has sweet potatoes in it. You don’t like speeding, unlike dad.

A few months ago, my friend Alida gave a great presentation on finances at a women’s retreat I attended. That very day, I vowed once again to make a BUDGET. Creating and following a budget, like successfully using coupons, seems like rocket science to me. It just plain baffles the old kidneys. After tracking my expenses for several months, I have been slowly, carefully working out a system that I think I can follow.

As part of the new BUDGET, I will be implementing a new system for teaching the boys about money. In the past, we told them that we would give them a dollar a week. We essentially never do this, and every once in a while one of the boys remembers and says something that sounds a lot like Napoleon Dynamite complaining that we’ve ruined his life. Dan gets paid twice a month, so starting with yesterday’s pay day, the boys will now receive $5 each per pay period. With their $5 they will be expected to put 10% into tithing ($0.50), 40% into savings ($2.00), and they can spend the rest ($2.50) as their hearts desire.

I started telling the boys about this new system yesterday, and that is all they talked about this morning. Read the rest of this entry »

GUEST BLOGGER: LISA HARRIS

Lisa made her first public gardening debut at nine years old starring as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. So yes, she sings and dances but somehow the musical worked extra magic and she also developed a green thumb and lovely British accent.  Add to that her enviable baking skills and habitual reading of classic literature, and you have a handy high brow tea party kit on wheels (if she’s wearing roller skates), complete with your choice of fresh flowers, regional accent, book talk, and crumpets. She’ll even stick out her little finger.

My dad used to say that you can always tell when spring is near, because the forsythias are the first thing to bloom. As soon as I see them start (generally in the second or third week of March), I begin to get excited, because it means that springtime-and-butterflies-and-flowers-and-rain-and-good-smelling-things are coming.

I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from these guys.

Forsythia bushes have some of the yellowest yellow flowers I have ever seen. Against the backdrop of a whole lotta gray, they make a difference like you wouldn’t believe.

But forsythias are really brave little guys too. I also know every year, when I see them start to bloom, that it will snow a few more times before they’re done. They come out anyway, every single time. And they beam, brightly brightly through the wet, freezing snow, in spite of all the gray, late frosts, and the like.

And when they’re finishing up blooming, which is what they’re beginning to do now, their goldenness melts into green—not anything too ostentatious. Just a soft, pale, kindly sort of green. The forsythias still leave just enough gold in their green remind themselves of what they are and what they will be again the following early spring. But for now, their day is over. Their job was to lead out, to remind the world of the glory it can become, just when it was beginning to think it was too interminably gray to do it. They last just long enough to give all of the other flowers the courage to begin blossoming, and then they pass the baton and stay in the background, a foundation of quiet strength for the other flowers. And I like to think that they remind the other flowers to follow their example and be bold in their bloom.

But after their time, they’re happy to retire to simply being green, a backdrop for the other flowers to let them shine.

I’d like to be a forsythia.

GUEST BLOGGER: KELLY SEYMOUR

Kelly grew up in Maine, happily indulging her mother’s love of the beach and all things related to the ocean. After graduating from BYU with a BA in English (and still wondering what one does with one of those), she began wandering the country looking for a place to put down roots. After years of searching, that place might be southern California. Or New York City. Or Santa Cruz. Or Maine. Today’s home is Connecticut; she’s planning a move to NYC in June. She wrote this entry the horrible day after the switch to Daylight Savings Time.

My name is Kelly and I am a napper.

“Hi Kelly.”

There are few things that are so enjoyable, and feel so verboten, yet, aren’t actually bad for you, as a nap. Doubt that napping is looked down upon? Subtly mention that you catch a few winks in the middle of the day in your next corporate meeting, and check the reaction of your colleagues. That look isn’t admiration.

Naps are on my mind today because I’m craving one right now. Thanks to the nuisance of daylight saving time (a pox on your house, George Vernon Hudson), I’m unusually tired this afternoon. Add to that the wet, gray conditions outside, and crawling under the sheets sounds near heavenly.

But this situation is not my ordinary nap scenario. Read the rest of this entry »

Somehow watching all of the people on this video and the happiness of it seemed a great way to remember Easter, that last night the Savior thought of all of them and billions more and made it possible to dance.

See the video here.

GUEST BLOGGER: CAMI PACK

Cami M. Pack grew up in Oregon and Washington, reading books perched in pine trees and biking in the rain. In Utah for college, she fell in love with the mountains and stayed on teaching college composition, both at SLCC and USU, as well as literature for a private boarding school. Cami’s favorite activities include reading aloud with her husband and exploring the local canyons, often spotting exotic birds through her binoculars.

Of the thousands who frequent my gym across the Wasatch Front, I’m one of a handful that doesn’t go dressed-to-kill. I’m proud to say, wearing sweatpants and t-shirts, I’ve never been “picked up” in the gym: well, sorta proud [clear throat]. Anyway, today I ventured into the stationary biking room; it’s a dark little cave hidden away at the back of the gym. I didn’t even know it existed, but it looked fun. I shimmied up on one of the bikes while a bunch of hard-core riders came in. You know the ones: padded-butt shorts, Nalgene bottles, neon polyester, moisture-wicking tops—the people that call bikes “cycles.” Read the rest of this entry »

GUEST BLOGGER: ALLISON L. WEISS

Allison (http://blog.allisonweiss.com) teaches Spanish at Illinois Wesleyan University in Normal, IL. When she’s not watching foreign films, cleaning her house, or howling at the moon, you can find her chipping away on a project to make wholesome music more easily accessible to Spanish-speaking members of the LDS church (http://poplarlanearts.bandcamp.com).

Sometimes I get this image of a kind of system, call it a Higher Power Grid, above my head, relaying messages between me and all the people and creatures to whom I’m connected. Jesus is like the Power Grid Master and he takes all the available love and faith and goodness on the grid throughout all time and shuffles it around to benefit the most people possible. My job is to send off little yellow-light blips of goodness and to be ready to receive other blips whenever my personal diamond-shaped antenna starts to glow and rattle.

Mid-February, I had an experience that reminded me of the give-and-take nature of The Grid (sounds like a good movie, doesn’t it?). Read the rest of this entry »

GUEST BLOGGER: JESSIE HAWKES

Jessie grew up on an island off the coast of Maine that didn’t have a grocery store. Now she takes advantage of living in a buzzing metropolis with a grocery store (Provo, UT) by trying her hand at new stuff to cook, especially ethnic vegetarian dishes. An avid rock climber, she has climbed all over the western U.S. and New England. Jessie is working on her undergrad degree majoring in English and minoring in German, and just finished a study abroad in Vienna. She has four brothers, two cool parents, a couple of fish, crazy awesome hair, and a beautiful voice with which she likes to sing in the shower.

Recently in Sunday School I heard an interesting idea. The teacher of the class (which happened to be about love and communication within relationships) told a story about his friends, recently married and living in San Francisco. For their wedding, they received a traditional Korean gift (they’re Korean—so the present wasn’t as random as it sounds). The gift was two miniature ducks, carved from wood. The couple would place the ducks on a mantle or shelf, and used them as a weather vane for their relationship.

Ducks facing each other: all was well. No misunderstandings, no hurt feelings. He was using enough dishsoap in the washer, she was folding the towels the right way, the dog was being fed—things were going smoothly.

However, a duck facing away: trouble. Someone’s hurt, upset, a little confused, feeling uncommunicated with. Maybe her back is sore today, maybe the radio was on too loud last night, maybe there were unkind words said in the car, maybe there was just a little problem with the tax receipts—but now, we’re all aware of it, thanks to the unassuming, unbiased ducks, and now, it can be solved.

Strange? Maybe a little. Visual representations of personal conflicts are always a bit uncomfortable. Think of the upside though: if I had my feelings hurt, but knew my (theoretical) husband was too busy to talk at the moment, how simple to sneak to the table and do a quick rearrangement of the Duck Creche, knowing that resolution would come quickly, at a better time for both of us. Also, ducks can’t gaze in spite; no hurtful words would need to be said to initiate the issue, it could just be a simple conversation. (“Sooo, the ducks are fortelling a little conflict, hmmm?” “You look happy tonight sweetheart, but the ducks tell another story…” Heh.) But seriously, no emotional elephants lurking in the corners of the living room. And maybe, just looking at the two, unassuming animals gazing in opposite directions would be enough to soften my perspective. Interesting, how when I am forced to take physical (and not just verbal) action on my inner feelings, I tend to adjust them. Are the dishes left in the sink really worthy of a duck adjustment? Probably not.

So, I haven’t scampered out to buy duck effigies yet, but I’m thinking about it! Meanwhile, I’ll just try to keep my duck facing in.

Louise Plummer

Sarah L Olson

Rebecca Smylie

Lisa Piorczynski

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