Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monitoring for a Healthy Spirit

In 1982 I was pregnant with twins. Almost midway through the pregnancy one of the twins died which signaled my body to end the pregnancy and I began to hemorrhage. For the next three months I was on bed rest trying to save the other baby, but on January 31st, 1983, I went into labor. Despite efforts to stop labor, the baby continued to come. She was early, but babies her size had lived so I wasn’t too worried until suddenly my heart rate shot to 300, every muscle in my body began to shake uncontrollably, my temperature reached 106 degrees, and my white blood count 25,000. While all this was happening to me, my baby’s heart stopped beating.
My husband was sitting in a chair next to my bed–only inches away from me, his head in his hands. As I looked at him in that distressed pose the thought came to me that I was also going to die. Immediately I thought, "There’s no way he can raise eight daughters alone!" and I felt myself fight to stay alive. There are no words to describe what happened in the next few moments, but I fought on. They delivered Sonoma stillborn, and whisked me to another floor of the hospital. More doctors came, they hooked me to machines and four different antibiotics that clanged against an IV pole near my bed. For the next twenty-four hours, a nurse checked me often. One of those times she pulled back the covers and discovered that the entire bed was soaked in blood. There wasn’t a white spot of sheet showing anywhere. Quickly doctors were recalled and packets of blood replaced the bottles of antibiotics on the pole. With all this care, I stabilized, ten days later returned home, and am alive to ponder and learn from the experience.
One lesson I learned is the importance of monitoring. The nurse checked my vital signs every 15 minutes that first night. Assessing my temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure told her whether I was coming out of danger or encountering more. It helped her know what to give me to keep me alive. The culturing of the bacteria that had entered my blood stream and caused the problems told the doctors which antibiotic would work. But especially, if the nurse hadn’t been checking frequently, I would have bled to death.
This monitoring is important not only when we are ill, but also when we are healthy. It is much easier to cure an impending disease than it is to cure a full-blown one. Therefore, besides vital signs, blood work and other tests are done to discover hidden problems. In short, keeping in good physical health entails monitoring our bodies.
What we don’t as often recognize is that spiritual well-being requires constant monitoring. And what is it we monitor? Our feelings. Feelings are the vital signs of the spirit. Positive feelings such as joy, happiness, love, kindness, and delight all indicate that the Spirit is with us and all is well. Negative feelings such as jealousy, hatred, animosity, vengeance, and self-pity indicate that the Spirit has withdrawn. There are other feelings that can be positive or negative depending on the motivation behind them. Such feelings include grief, sorrow, boredom, fatigue, and worry. Only you can determine if these are positive or negative in any given situation.
When we realize that feelings are vital signs of the spirit, we recognize that one way to insure spiritual health is to stop frequently during the day and monitor our feelings. If we feel positive emotions then we should rejoice and give thanks. If we feel negative emotions we need to take the "medicine" that will heal us and restore us to the positive. And what is emotional medicine? The three most powerful prescriptions for negative feelings are gratitude, forgiveness, and serving others. When our spiritual vital signs indicate there is a problem, we can use any one of these three "medicines" to pull us out of the dark caused by negative feelings and into the light of positive feelings and a healthy spirit.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nurtured by God

I struggled through my teenage years with depression and terrible feelings of being alone and forgotten in the world. When these times of darkness descended upon me, I found great solace in “Mother nature.” My family lived on a mountain side that overlooked the Great Salt Lake valley. There were no homes higher on the mountain, and when the despair began seeping into me I’d climbed the mountain to a special spot I called my nest. From the nest I watched cars traveling along I-15 that appeared to be the size of ants. I’d see our big white church with its steeple reaching heavenward and orderly rows of homes that were now the size of doll furniture. Once in a while I could make out a tiny speck of movement that must be a person, but usually people weren’t part of what I could see. This change in perspective and the sheer beauty of the valley and mountain and lake encouraged and uplifted me. Many, many a time I sat in that nest and soaked in the feelings until I felt good enough to return home. Because of that, all of my life I’ve considered nature my solace, my nurturer, my rescue from despair.
A few months ago I was in the temple and began to think about those long ago times when I sought solace in the “nest.” As memory after memory passed through my mind, I began to pray and thank my Heavenly Father for the beauty of His creations and for the way nature had saved me. As I prayed those words, a voice suddenly came into my mind saying, “It wasn’t nature that comforted you. It was me.”
Tears welled in my eyes and spilled onto my cheeks as the realization hit me that all those years when I felt so alone and so forgotten, I wasn’t. God healed my broken heart. He calmed my troubled soul. He nurtured me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What a Week!

There couldn’t have been a more perfect birthday! It started on Monday when a group of my students came over and sang to me some songs from a cantata I had written a number of years ago and not heard performed. It was so wonderful.

That was just the beginning of the many surprises my dear husband and children and friends pulled off! I’ve decided men are like good cheese, they get better with age! He surprised me with a family party on Tues. night and a huge party with friends on Wed. night. For the Wed. party he arranged for four of the Young Ambassadors from BYU to come sing to me. Imagine this 60 year old woman sitting there while four handsome young men in black tuxes and ties sing Franki Valli’s "Sherrie Baby."

But the best part was watching everyone have such a good time. If you look down you’ll see on my 100 things list that I love watching people have a good time. And that night the food was fantastic, friends from every walk of my life were laughing and visiting and enjoying, and I soaked in the good vibrations!

But that didn’t end it all. The next night my TA (that’s teaching assistant) came over with a friend and presented me with a book that had greetings from many of my past students. What a way to start a new decade! I’m still floating.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I enjoyed my birthday very much. Aging is actually fun. The older you get the more people make a fuss over you! I'm thankful for the fuss my husband, children, friends and students have made over me this birthday. I feel like a queen! (I'll post a picture of me with my crown on later!)

In the mean time, this birthday has caused me to reflect on a lot of things I have to be thankful for. There are soooo many! I am very blessed. I've been thinking over them this week and that led me to think of you. So I'd like to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell me what you are thankful for. But let's put a few ground rules down. All of us are thankful for our families, so we'll automatically include that one. Also think past the other generalities of life--the big blessings we all enjoy. Instead be very specific. Right now . . . in this very moment . . . what is there in front of you that suddenly you realize you are thankful for? Something you've never thought about before as something to be grateful for.
I'll start it out with paper. I love paper. A clean sheet of paper at first intimidates and then invites me to think. I'm grateful for paper (and of course pens!). Now it's your turn. . .

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Leave Your Birthday Gifts Here!

This is a big one. I'm entering my sixth decade. I've never before had a birthday bother me, but I must confess this one did until last week. Suddenly I realized that instead of dreading it, I should be grateful. I'm alive. I'm healthy. And when I really thought about it I realized that nothing would change. Nothing! Life is wonderful and for the past 60 years it has done nothing but get better every year so why would I think that would stop? I'm expecting this sixth decade to be the best yet!
Not only that but so far the birthday celebrating has been amazing! Sunday Mariah cooked a marvelous vegetable lasagna for my birthday dinner. My mother came and Talena flew in from California to surprise me! Last night a group of students dropped by to sing Happy Birthday and then they sang for me (very beautifully) some songs a friend and I had written a number of years ago. One of the songs I'd never heard performed before. I was so touched by the fact that they would take the time to learn the songs and then come sing them to me. It was amazing.
Wow! I really do think I'm going to like the 60s!
You can leave me a birthday gift here. Just make a comment telling me what you consider the greatest accomplishment of your life. Don't hold back. Don't be shy. Tell me about how great your life is. I really want to hear it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

100 Things

Three of my daughters have inspired me. On their blogs they listed 100 things about themselves. They expressed how cathartic the experience was and invited all readers to do likewise. So here goes. . .
1. This week is my birthday.
2. I am getting old.
3. I feel young
4. The cognitive dissonance created by 2 and 3 is horrendous
5. It took awhile but because I really do love life I'm finally excited about my birthday.
6. If I don’t learn something new each day I’m terribly disappointed
7. I absolutely adore my daughters and my son
8. I wish I knew my grandchildren better
9. I love reading-I even catch myself stopping in the store to read a soup can. If print is near I have to read it.
10. Last count I had visited 21 foreign countries and 47 states (I've never been to Alaska, Hawaii, or Florida.)
11. I have twenty six grandchildren and three on the way. Grandchildren are the best!
12. I’m a morning person--usually
13. When I eat sugar I get physically ill
14. I love sugar
15. I’ve worn braces on my teeth twice–the second time when I was 33 years old.
16. Yellow makes me happy
17. I have always wanted a grandmother
18. My hair is longer now than it has been since I was in third grade
19. My freckles are getting larger
20. I’ve had surgery on my flat feet seven times
21. I exercise every day. Before I do it, I hate it. After I do it, I love it.
22. At age sixteen I set a goal to be a college professor. At age 51 I finally achieved the goal.
23. I love the feeling of water rushing over my back when I swim
24. I love to make my own bread from scratch including grinding the wheat
25. I’m a vegetarian
26. I’m trying to become a vegan
27. I love cheese
28. I love winter because it is so cozy
29. I love snow –it is beautiful
30. I write poetry that no one likes but me
31. I’ve written three novels that have never been published-one that has.
32. My daughters think they don’t know me, but then how could they be so much like me?
33. I go to church every week because I love it
34. When I was in high school I was the Drama and Speech Sterling Scholar
35. I used to act in plays
36. Last week while in Kirtland, I played the organ in Church for the first time since 1994
37. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been
38. I only like to watch sports if I know at least one of the players
39. My weight goes up and down like an elevator
40. The night time view of a valley from the mountain side is food for my soul
41. I have a passion for Broadway musicals
42. I love studying and teaching the gospel
43. I used to hate my nose until I found out it is a genetic inheritance from the Anderson side of my family
44. Anderson women are strong and resilient
45. Disappointment haunts me
46. I’m devastated because they quit making Postum
47. I don’t like Jello
48. My favorite thing to write are personal essays.
49. I have the best children in the world
50. My husband has kept me laughing for 40 years.
51. Blank paper invites me to think
52. I always wanted 12 children, but the Lord only sent me 10
53. I teach to make up for the other 2
54. My favorite sport to watch is volleyball
55. Classical music connects me to amazing places within my own soul
56. I like opera
57. Words delight me-my favorite is sesquipedalian
58. I love being in my house
59. Ideas are constantly swimming in my head like bees in a hive
60. Sometimes I don’t see people or things right in front of me because I’m so focused on the ideas in my head
61. My children know this (60) and resent it
62. I love snugly clothes
63. I’m learning to love gardening
64. Quiet is a kind of music that starts in my heart
65. Watching others have fun is one of my favorite past times
66. Hot milk-toast with a lump of real butter soothes most aches and pains for me
67. I don’t like summer
68. I wish with all my heart I could sing
69. My children and husband are very forgiving people (Thank goodness!)
70. I have a penchant for buying shoes (Imelda watch out!)
71. For me, friends are worth more than gold
72. I don’t like scrap booking
73. I’m usually ready to go places early, then think I have time to do just one more thing before I go which makes me late to wherever I’m going
74. I still have the long, golden braid that was cut off my head when I was nine.
75. I don’t worry much
76. We lived in Germany many years ago
77. I still miss the German church bells ringing on Sunday morning
78. My first child was brought into the world for a sum total of $325
79. We had to borrow the $325 dollars
80. I come from a long line of poor people
81. I learned early, it doesn’t take money to be happy
82. I love to travel to visit my daughters
83. I like wearing bright colors
84. I love change
85. People amaze me
86. I love the temple
87. I’m awkward but haven’t given up on some day being graceful
88. I sew
89. I crochet
90. I love to create
91. My favorite sound is a toddler giggling
92. I love sitting beside the fireplace and watching the fire.
93. I don’t have a fireplace
94. I have a powerful imagination.
95. I love the movie Yentel
96. I love the BBC comedy “Keeping Up Appearances” –Hyacinth never fails to give me a good laugh.
97. The Ipod my children and husband gave me for my last birthday changed my life.
98. Deep down I’ve always been a negative person. Years ago I learned to put on a positive front and it is finally sinking down in.
99. I love breakfast foods for dinner.
100. It makes my day when people leave comments on my blog