Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Back

I picture myself walking down a path, lush foliage surrounding me. The path up ahead turns and just before I reach it, I glance behind me. The events of 2009 rise like small clouds of fog before evaporating into the recesses of memory.

The experiences don't linger, but still consume me with emotion.

The relief of finishing my degree. The frustration of a misbehaving fifth grade class. The joy of watching second grade students remember the math I taught them. The pain of injury as I push myself to run one more mile. The peace of sitting in my office with a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter day. The uplifting laughter shared with a friend. My heart beating out of my chest, wondering if I can make it thirty more minutes on the bike. The light in my head that directs my story in the right direction. Discouragement at contests lost and not feeling good enough. The inspired words that came at just the right time. Time spent laying on my bed talking to my children.

I turn forward, concentrating on the path ahead of me. The dissipated clouds of experience strengthen and lift me, giving me the courage to face a new path filled with more experiences of joy, frustration, sadness, discouragement, inspiration and love.

May the experiences of 2009 give you the courage to face head on whatever may come in 2010.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I am thankful for this time of year and the spirit of peace that accompanies it. I love the sparkling snow (as long as I don't have to drive in it) and the shining lights on Temple Square. I love the music and the anticipation of Christmas morning. I love the time with family and the only light in my living room coming from the Christmas tree. I love the traditions--the sack game, Christmas Bingo, homemade cinnamon knots and hot chocolate to name a few. Most of all I love my Savior. Words cannot express my gratitude for his life and sacrifice as well as the opportunity to celebrate his birth.

May all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Never ever ever give up. -- Winston Churchill

I recently saw a fireside given by basketball great, Thurl Bailey. He spoke about life's journey.

Something he said caught my attention. Besides mentioning kindergarten when all the other children came to his knee, he spoke of being in junior high.

He stood at a miniscule six foot four. In seventh grade. All through school he had been teased mercilessly about his height. He decided that if he joined some school clubs that people would overlook his height and concentrate on his involvement in these activities.

He joined nine clubs. And he was excited about this. But . . . not only did he want to join these clubs, he wanted to be the president of all of these clubs.

At the first meeting of each club, he approached all of the other students and told them what a great club this was and told them he thought he'd make a great president. This happened at each of the nine club meetings.

He was voted president of each of the nine clubs.

(You might be questioning the point of my quote at this point. Please hang in there with me, I'm getting to it.)

One day he was walking by the gym and saw a sign that read "Basketball Tryouts" with a day and time posted. He thought, Hey, I'm tall. People are asking me all the time if I play basketball. I could make the basketball team easy. I'll be the team captain. It'll be awesome. So he showed up for tryouts.

He stood heads above all of the other boys trying out, which boosted Thurl's confidence. The coach gave assignments -- dribble the ball, make a layup, etc.

Now remember, Thurl Bailey had never played with a basketball in his life, much less owned one. He didn't even know what a layup was. He had to watch what all of the other boys were doing and attempt to copy them.

The next day he approached the posted list of team members. His name wasn't on it. This devastated him. He was tall. He was the president of nine clubs. Why couldn't he make the basketball team? He hovered over every player.

A year passes. He's in eighth grade. He's still involved in the clubs. He's overcome the devastation and tries out again. Some time in the last year he got a basketball. He's more confident. He's ready. He's six foot nine. He'll make it for sure this year.

Tryouts came and went. He approached the posted list of team members. Again, his name wasn't on the list.

He practiced playing basketball. The next year, as a freshman in high school, he tried out again. This time he could make a layup. He approached the typewritten posted list. Some boys were walking away, heads hanging. Some were giving high fives. The names of the team members were listed in alphabetical order. His name wasn't listed under the B's. He scanned the list until he reached the end of the names. There, at the bottom, handwritten in pencil was Thurl Bailey's name. He looked to the boys surrounding him. "Did you write my name on this list?" Denial all around.

He had made the team. It wasn't varsity, but he did end up playing for the varsity team. He jokes that he was a starter. He got to tip the jump ball to a teammate. Then he was immediately taken out. Eventually he played more for his team and received numerous offers to play for several colleges.

I was inspired by his determination to never give up. It didn't matter that he didn't make the team two years in a row. It didn't matter that he only played to tip in the ball. He found he loved the game and wouldn't give up until he had accomplished his goals. He played professionally for 15 years before retiring.

If he can reach his goals and dreams without giving up, so can I. So can you.

So don't ever ever EVER give up.