Monday, September 24, 2012

Twenty Words

During our years in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to babysit my friend Marion's children one morning a week for a couple of hours. She was a busy stay-at-home mother and homemaker by choice, but craved a little window of time just for herself. I was happy to oblige, as she lived in a cute duplex on the Presidio army base, and had a real backyard. We were in the middle of our apartment-dwelling years, and a morning for my little daughter in the sunshine and turtle-shaped sandbox, with two darling friends, was such a luxury.

There was another big draw to Marion's home for me: she had a medium-sized round table off to the side of her little living room, which was covered in a beautiful, floor-length tablecloth, and if I remember correctly, a round glass top. This table was Marion's collecting spot for everything she came across that was interesting: mounds of books, articles ripped from magazines, recipes to try, gorgeous photos, lists of things to do in the city, and letters she had received from friends ... an absolute delicious piling of inspiration.

Often when I would arrive at Marion's to babysit, she would throw open the front screen door, pull me into her home and up to the table with words like, "I just have to show you what I found...!" or "I saw this in a magazine and cut it out just for you!" We would stand and rifle through her week's discoveries and I would literally salivate. This was one fascinating, intelligent, creative woman.

Marion's table held one other mysteriously wonderful thing: a three-ring binder which she called her "life's creed". Within those covers held the best-of-the-best from her years of combing through resources and from her voracious reading. She had collected in that one place her most cherished snippings and personal writings that defined who she was, and who she wanted to become.

I never got to see what that binder held, but I have never forgotten Marion's idea of having a life's creed.

Years later, I was reading Alexandra Stoddard's book called "Choosing Happiness" (2002, HarperCollins Publishers), and I came across a little exercise that reminded me of Marion's deliberate sifting and extracting of things that spoke to her soul. In Alexandra's words:

"I have often invited my audiences to write down their (twenty) defining words. What began as a fun exercise eventually led to a huge body of research. I now have collected thousands of examples. By staying mindful of what we love, of what we cherish and hold dear, we can cultivate our words in tangible ways, watering the seeds of our consciousness with every step we take, every thought we have, in all the wonderfully creative ways we express our love of life.

"I urge you to write down your (twenty) defining words. It's a happy exercise that is extremely revealing. I've shown you mine. Now it is your turn to write yours down. Light a candle, sit in a favorite spot, and let your intuition identify "Who am I?" "

This is an exercise that I have played with over the years, and which can change even from day to day as life takes different twists and turns. Above, you can see my current 20 defining words, pinned to the ribbon board that hangs next to my side of the bed. I will switch the words around and even add or subtract words as the mood strikes me. The point is to have "my words" greet me each morning, reminding me what my life's focus is.

Below are five of those 20 words that I have pinned seperately for this week. These are things that I am specifically focusing on as the most important, right now:

Alexandra also suggests choosing one of your words, and then coming up with a quick stream-of-consciousness brainstorm list of 20 words that better define that word for you.

For example, her word is "home", and she quickly jotted the following: "love, hearth, private, cheerful, pretty, friends, intimate, flowers, happy, children, tenderness, sweet, sacred, grounded, sensuous, welcoming, colorful, beautiful, comfortable, family, light, friendly, art, collections, changing" (pages 40-41).

What would be included in your twenty defining words? As Alexandra suggests, find a quiet place, grab a pen and notebook, add a bit of soft, instrumental music and perhaps the glow of a candle, and write!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Open My Eyes and SEE

I set out on my first real walk in months (more about that later) this morning. As an afterthought, I grabbed my little camera, just in case I came across something inspiring along my five-mile route. Boy, did I. Check this out:

I have seen this woman walking ALL OVER town for years and years. My friends and I actually talk about her and the places we have seen her power-walking: along the country roads, down the highway, in-town, in blistering heat or in snow flurries or in a torrential downpour. No matter, she is OUT THERE. But I'd never been this close to our pretty-much-local-celebrity until today. Here's what happened:

As I was walking with my Doodle down the trail that is parallel to the highway, I first spied her trademark purple running shorts then her characteristically-tight swivel-walk coming toward me. I think I quickly glanced heavenward and said "thank you", knowing for sure that Heavenly Father HAD hand-picked something super-duper inspirational just for me today.

As we approached one another, we made eye contact and I was just WISHING for an excuse to stop this amazing woman and talk to her. Imagine my surprise when she smiled, stopped, glanced at her watch, and started small-talking to ME.

She: "Isn't it a perfect morning to be out walking?" (with a big, huge smile on her face)

I: "Oh, it is, and IknowthissoundsweirdbutwouldtherebeanywayIcouldsnapyourpicture?Youhavebeensoinspiringtomeforsomanyyears...?!"

She: (chuckle) "Sure!"

And so I did indeed snap her photo -- and the Doodle's, but I hadn't even noticed him in the frame. Then I started firing questions at her. Here is what I learned:

*Her name is Diana.
*She walks five days a week. Every week.
*She especially loves to walk in the rain, and never lets weather of any kind stop her.
*Today she is walking 20 miles because she is training for the speed-walking division of the Portland Marathon. (Her third marathon.)
*Her husband dropped her off, will go get coffee and run errands, go home and work in the yard, then see her in a few hours.
*Her husband likes to walk on the treadmill. ("Can you believe it? I love the fresh air!")
*She likes this particular route because there are lots of places to take water breaks.
*She started power-walking when she was 40. (My guess is that she is now 80+)
*She carries something in a little zipped pouch attached to her shoelaces. (keys? money? treats?!)
*She has a can of mace strapped next to the bandana at her waist.
*Her visor keeps the rain and sun off her face.
*She wears lipstick when she walks. (How much do I LOVE this??)
*She has a day's water in her backpack.

Diana is a rockstar. Seriously.

Which leads me to THIS sign that I passed this morning, just minutes before I met her:

Yep, I'm telling you, when I open my eyes and actually see, God has placed inspiration all around me. No excuses!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh, May I?

My mother takes one trip a year. She visits her sister in San Diego for the week of her birthday, and it is one of her life's highlights. She plans and prepares carefully for those delightful days in the southern California sunshine. This year, with temperatures on the rise here in Seattle, she had arranged for her neighbor to water her lawn and flowers daily while she was gone.

I was surprised when she called me a few days into her trip, and after telling me what a wonderful time she was having, asked me to drive up to her house, check on her yard, and spend some time giving it an extra watering. To my discredit, the thoughts that immediately came started with such phrases as "Why didn't you...", "I don't have...", and "This is so...".

The drive to her home from mine is thirty minutes each way, and I had a busy afternoon scheduled. But I gritted my teeth, told Mom "of course", and then grumbled out the door and most of the way up the highway. Somehow, though, the Spirit was able to shimmy a two-word message in between my free-flowing gripes:

"Remember Connie."

Remember Connie? My mind raced back to a phone conversation I had had with my friend Connie nearly twenty years ago, one that had been long-since filed away in the dusty annals of my brain. You see, I was a young mother and had somewhere important to be one morning. I had called Connie to see if I might be able to drop my little four year-old off at her home for a couple of hours. I hated to ask last minute, but no sooner did I do so, Connie quickly jumped in:

"YES! Thank you! I would love to have her today."

I breathed a hugh sigh, and then realized what she had said. "Thank you?", I questioned.

She explained: "I wanted to be of service to someone today, and now here you are calling! Thanks for giving me the opportunity!"

Silence. My lips may have mouthed the word "wow". Then profuse thanks by me, a happy two hours for my daughter with other children and a coveted dress-up collection, then life moved on and I quickly forgot the lesson Connie taught me. Until four days ago.

Heavenly Father doesn't usually check our calendars for our availability when He asks us to help another. If fact, if anything, I'm betting He sends us a prompting at the most inconvenient time, to test our willingness to make good on the prayers we routinely offer: "help me heed the Spirit's promptings today" or "may I know when I might make a difference for someone" or "please give me the opportunity to serve".

When we purport to be willing, and even covenant to be so, we must be ever-ready to go with haste when called upon. This can be frustrating and difficult, but perhaps it is much of the true essence of living a Christlike life.

Many years ago, I read a poem written by Carol Lynn Pearson that my spirit continues to remember when I need its message. It is called "The Forgiving" and is about forgiveness, but I think it also applies perfectly to the proper mindset we must strive to have if we are to be of the most help to our Father.

The words are simple, but the cadence is irregular and the rhyme sporadic. Read it slowly, then try reading it again. Absorb the message and let it change you, the way it has me:

Will I forgive,
You cry.
What is the gift,
The favor?
You would lift
Me from
My poor place
To stand beside
The Savior.
You would have
Me see with
His eyes,
And with Him
Reach out to
A sorrowing heart --
For one small
To share in
Christ's great art.
Will I forgive,
You cry.
May I --
May I?

Did you feel that? I shed a couple of tears every time I read this poem, and even typing it just now had to stop to grab a Kleenex. Such profound doctrine, such new meaning to everyday "ordinary" opportunities, and such a caution for scheduling ourselves too rigidly.

I would like to be known as someone who practices what she preaches, who walks the talk. I would like to be more like Connie when faced with a chance to help another, by saying "thank you!" and then inwardly pleading "Oh, may I?"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grammy's Book-of-the-Month Club

Oh, I remember those special afternoons like they were yesterday: Mom and I would find a brown cardboard box from Random House leaning up against our apartment door, and it was addressed to me! I would be so excited to see my new offering from the children's Book-of-the-Month Club that I'd dance in circles around my mother. When she would finally free it from it's packaging, I would grab the colorful hardback, hug it, smell it, and escape to a quiet place to slowly turn through each of its beautifully illustrated pages. Then, to mom's lap I would go, and settle in for the brand-new story.

I was only three or four years old, but I remember the carefully-chosen, award-winning titles so well: "Grandmother Lucy and Her Hats", "The Griffin and the Minor Canon", "Harvey's Hideout", and my all-time favorite, "Old Black Witch".

"Old Black Witch" was an at first scary, then wonderful book about a mother and daughter who buy an old, dilapidated, cobwebby house with the idea of turning it into a tea room and restaurant. As they move in and start banging around, clearing out, and cleaning up, they wake up Old Black Witch from her nesting place in the dark, batty attic.

She is a crotchety sort, and tries to sabotage the mother and daughters' efforts as they begin to transform the house. But the mother CAN COOK, and the aromas that waft from kitchen make Old Black Witch salivate! Gradually she is lured out of her dark hiding place and into a lovely little friendship with the mother and daughter.

Soon, OBW has donned a red kerchief and is sweeping and polishing alongside her new friends. The tea room opens, and guess who's the most popular waitress? You got it, Old Black Witch! And the BEST PART? There was a recipe for the menu's most-ordered item, Old Black Witch's Blueberry Pancakes, on the last page. Needless to say, those became a favorite breakfast for Mom and me during my nursery school days.

I think I adored "Old Black Witch" because it combined some of my future favorite things: mysteries, cooking, moms / daughters, homemaking, friendship, and yes, blueberry pancakes. This book now rests on my own daughter's shelf, an "autograph" by three year-old me (and a "1968" in my mother's handwriting) inside its front cover.

Do you remember your favorite childhood stories?

My sweet little granddaughter Addie lives 800 miles away, and though the modern technologies of texting photos and FaceTime help to "shorten" the distance, it is still hard to be so far away from her. What to do??

An idea come to me while Addie was still in her mommy's tummy: start a Grammy's Book-of-the-Month Club right away!! I didn't need to think twice about that fabulous little bit of inspiration!! Before Addie was born, she already had a few grandmother-chosen titles on her little shelf: "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" (both my daughters' favorite) was one of the first, followed by "The Butterfly Girl and Bingo", and one of the Carl books by Seattle author Alexandra Day, one in a delightful series about an adventurous little girl and her faithful dog.

Making a plan to choose, buy, wrap, address, and mail something special to Addie each month has made me feel a little bit closer to her! Imagine my delight when my daughter posted some photos of Addie receiving her latest delivery, siting up like a big girl, and playing with the bow!

You could do something similar with your grandchild or favorite little person. Let your gifts reflect whatever it is you are passionate about! For me, it's obviously books, but it would be equally wonderful to send a tiny toy, or art supply, or hair bow, or recipe, or yummy treat, or baseball card, or funky socks, or anything! What we all really want to enclose in our monthly packages is the warm feeling of "I love you, I'm thinking about you, and I chose this JUST for you!"

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Frog Down

Last night we had a really great Bishop's Youth Fireside in our family room. The speaker was assigned the topic of "Time Management", which is important (especially at back-to-school time), but could also be a bit dry (boring?) for teenagers. Happily, I felt that our speaker nailed it! Here is one great example that he shared ... see if you can guess what it might have to do with managing time, and with the photo above.

A friend of the speaker's works in an office. As soon as the friend gets to work each morning, he checks to see if there is a frog (or frogs) on his desk. If there is (are), he gobbles it (them) down as quickly as possible. They may be squirmy, slimy, leggy, and gross, but down-the-hatch they go without a second thought.

Our speaker's reply when his friend shared this was, "Ooooo--kay, that's a little weird. What in the world does that have to do with managing your day?"

The friend explained that every day he has unpleasant or large or complicated or pesky things that are on his To Do list. By approaching these "frogs" head on and tackling them FIRST THING without procrastinating, he is free to continue through his day with the satisfaction of knowing that the most important tasks were already accomplished.

I loved that silly little analogy, and realized that my husband and I had approached last Saturday in the same way. After we got our daughter off to the Bishops' Storehouse to work for the morning with some young women from the ward, we put on our "grubbies", clipped the Doodle to his extra-long leash, and trudged out to the front yard. After a wonderful but busy summer, our yard was overgrown and screaming for attention.

I do not enjoy the thought of doing yard work, and last Saturday was no exception. I may have even grumbled as I was gathering tools from the garage. But once we hit our gardening groove, it, of course, started to feel good. Before long, trees were trimmed, bushes had long overdue haircuts, the beds were weeded, all the debris was shoved into recycling bins, and the walks were blown clean. In an hour and a half we had powered through our little front yard, and it looked like respectable people lived there again.

One of the fun parts of being out in the yard on a sunny Saturday morning is being neighborly:

1. One man pulled his shiny truck over to our curb and chatted us up, asking about our day ahead and our opinions on the upcoming presidential election. The three of us laughed like old friends. When he pulled away, I asked my husband who (in the heck) that was. He laughed and told me, and I was embarrassed to realize that I had shared the same street with that man for ten years, and I had never before seen him. My husband is obviously more neighborly than I am!

2. Barb from next door returned from a walk and offered us her empty recycling bin ... she could see that we had many more clippings than we had planned! So thoughtful, and much appreciated! Barb had obviously forgiven me for nearly running over her husband Bob as I was backing out of my driveway a few weeks ago. Thanks, Barb!

3. Wonderful Fred, a recently retired Presbyterian minister, zipped past on his bike with a "Hullo!" and a big friendly wave. It's fun to be a neighbor, I thought! Cheesey? Yes! But also true.

Later that afternoon, after a couple of Advil for my pathetically sore muscles, my husband and I admired our work from inside the house, and then again as we were driving off to our daughter's soccer game. Getting the yard ship-shape in the early morning made us feel accomplished for the rest of the day. Yep, gobbling a frog ... mmmm, delicious!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why Blog?

Someone recently asked me why I like to blog. I was mulling this over the other night after I had hopped into bed, then flipped the light back on and started scribbling down some answers on my trusty yellow legal pad.

Here's what flew out of my pen:

1. I blog because I feel compelled by the Spirit to do so. Do you ever get those promptings that sound something like, "I really need to ________", or "Now would be a really good time to __________"? I find that when I open my mind and heart up to these nudges (or shoves?) and begin to act, ideas start to flow and I know exactly what to do next.

A few of my outlets-of-choice are writing, reading, and cooking. Yours may be decorating or creating or composing or researching or styling or serving or loving or exercising. I find that the same principle described above can apply in any of these areas. When I stop procrasinating and bravely JUMP IN, a whole new world opens up and I've got inspiration to spare.

2. I want to do everything I can to be an influence for good and to make a little difference in this world. The 13th Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long been my guiding mantra:

"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul -- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." (Joseph Smith)

I love to read things that are uplifting and make we want to be a better person, and it naturally follows that these are the things that I want to write about. I am fascinated with the subject of LIVING, and am always hungry to know how others are able to do it beautifully and in a fulfilling way. In my "next life" I want to be a professional interviewer! What is more fascinating than finding out why someone is the way they are, how they became good at whatever they are good at, and what their greatest tips for living are?!

You may read blogs (this one included) and wonder, "Is her life really that continually wonderful / beautiful / inspiring / perfect that there is a spiritual lesson that leaps forth from every experience or activity that she engages in?"

My answer to this is no! And then, yes!! I was taught at an early age to search my soul for silver linings, to try to see the good in everything. I have come to know that to the Lord "all things are spiritual" and that if we dig deeply enough, our difficult times can teach and shape and build us even more than our "good days". And when I figure something out or see something wonderful, my driving impulse is to share it! And, my most favorite people are the ones who do this with me.

My daughter Claire is a beautiful and inspiring writer. She wrote recently about one's blog being a journey, that our first post is usually dramatically different from our most recent and that we evolve as writers. When I first started blogging a year and a half ago, I would spend an entire afternoon - even day - working on a single post: writing, re-writing, and editing, editing, editing. It was thrilling to finally push "publish", but also exhausting! I took a break for many months, and now I am back at it again with the promise to myself that I will spend 45 minutes tops, from beginning to end, on a blog post.

My camera is a marvelous creature, and I utilize about .5% of its capabilities. However, I am trying to keep it close by each day so that when that little voice whispers, "Capture this! There's a story here!", I am ready. This new focus, with the next step being writing about my little awkward photos, has helped me see my ordinary life with brand-new eyes. Instead of waiting for inspiration to hit, I go looking for it. There is beauty in every-day-ness!

My "rewards" for blogging about my life and feelings and ideas? Well, there is nothing like clicking "publish" and knowing that my words are out there, accessible to anyone who may be half-interested in what I have to say. And there is definitely a rush (and a peace) that comes from actually following through with what I feel I am supposed to be doing at this point in my life. But the BEST PART, the absolute BEST, is when YOU leave a comment, or pull me aside at church, or grab me at the grocery store to tell me that something that I have written has made a difference to you. That we have connected heart-to-heart in some way is the icing on this blogger's cake.

These, my friends, are the reasons why I blog. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wonderful Wednesdays

It's wonderful to grow up and realize that age doesn't matter when it comes to friendship.

I am blessed to be able to spend every Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:00 with these two beautiful women, among others. Several months ago, we started a Relief Society study group for anyone who felt like they would like a little more gospel discussion between Sundays ... kind of like a bridge to facilitate friendships and testimony-strengthening until we could meet back together again with our ward family.

Our Relief Society president extraordinaire organized this little group to meet at my home, and after three months of faithful Wednesdays, we all make sure to schedule everything else around this sacred little block of time.

The two women pictured above hardly knew each other when we started. Now, they are fast friends, trading varieties of oatmeal, teasing each other, and carpooling to our meeting. I love the sunshine behind them in the photo ... or is it sunshine??! I think they each may be masquerading angels.

The full-time missionaries come too, prepared with a little lesson from the Gospel Principles book. They present just enough so that we all feel comfortable asking questions, sharing personal experiences, and bearing our testimonies to each other of the different things we're learning about. Let me tell you, my family room has become holy ground on Wednesday afternoons. The Spirit is present without a doubt.

Today, we had a sweet older woman who is investigating the Church attend. She knocked at my door at 1:30 on the dot, armed with her new Book of Mormon, a paper of handwritten questions, and a big smile. The rest of us were converts as adults, and it was heart-warming to see each person take our new friend under her / his wings and help teach from the stories of their own conversions.

We have one elderly man attend! I had to get down on my belly and fish his hearing aid out from under his chair, but don't let that fool you. He seemed to be talking directly to Heavenly Father when he opened our meeting with a prayer, and he always senses the perfect moment to raise his index finger and bring the gospel message home.

A tender mercy for me: a lovely friendship with both of these sweet and feisty gals in the photo above. We now throw our arms around one another when we see each other, and they never leave me without a solid kiss on my cheek and an "I love you!"

Wednesdays have become my favorite day of the week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Filling My Shelves

Confession: I am a little bit obsessed with Amazon books. Now that Lindon Bookstore (our town's cozy little gathering place for bibliophiles) is a distant memory, and the next closest Borders has closed its doors for good, I have been forced to do my book shopping on-line. I dragged my feet for a couple of years, not wanting to contribute in any way to the difficulties small bookstores were having. But finally my conclusion: a girl's got to read!

I have discovered, perhaps ten years after most, that within a New York minute I can hop on to Amazon, throw a couple of already-thought-about books into my virtual "cart", click-click-click as a returning customer, and those wonderful reads are on their way to my doorstep. No gas to drive 30 minutes to a shopping area, free shipping if I spend $25 (I always wait to order until I qualify for this), and my desired titles are always in-stock.

(Sidenote: what about the library, you ask?? I am a card-carrying member, and LOVE our local library -- I have been known to go there just to kill time between carpools by perusing the shelves -- but there are certain books that I just know I want to own.)

My last Amazon delivery is shown above. Do you ever suddenly start hearing about something new from several sources, and it gets you wondering if there's a purpose behind it, if you're supposed to investigate that thing? That's what happened with Joanna Brooks' new memoir, "The Book of Mormon Girl".

I never watch late night TV, but happened to have it on recently while I was working on a project, and Joanna was a guest on the talk show. I listened and simultaneously rolled my eyes thinking, "Great, another Mormon feminist with funky ideas", and dismissed it. Then the next night, Joanna was spotlighted on Rock Center's special on Mormonism, my ears perked up, and I paid a little more attention. When I saw an article online about her the next day, I took it as a sign and penciled her book onto my To Buy list. I'm glad I did, and I'll tell you why soon.

Then, my friend Logan shook us all by our virtual shoulders on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, touting Clayton Christensen's (of Harvard Business School) new book "How Will You Measure Your Life?" as one we must absolutely read. That was enough for me! I love a book recommendation from a trusted source. I added it to my list, bought both books at 30% of retail, got the super saver shipping, and it was a done deal.

I closed the back cover on "The BOM Girl" at midnight last night, and dove into "HWYMYL?" today. I'm already underlining like crazy and seeing perfectly-timed parallels with some things going on in my life. Oh, good stuff it is. Some people like to indulge in clothes or trips or gear or home decor. Me, I love to add a new great book to our living room library.

Yes, when those tight little boxes from Amazon show up on my porch, it is more exciting than an unexpected delivery of flowers or even a plate of cupcakes. (!) Book reviews to follow!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Write it Down!

It has been said that writing down a goal or an aspiration -- committing it to paper -- greatly increases one's chance of achieving that goal. I believe this!

Several days before the start of the new school year, my husband and I invited our daughter to go out for a nice dinner at her restaurant-of-choice. She chose Bahama Breeze, based solely on the fact that they offer a tropical smoothie that she adores. We told our daughter that the purpose of the dinner was to talk about her upcoming semester (her first in high school), to understand what she wanted to achieve in the different areas of her life, and to help her capture those dreams on paper.

Over house salads with pineapple vinaigrette and toasted pumpkin seeds, we asked her to brainstorm with us as to her different roles that she feels are important in her life. She came up with things like "student", "athlete", "daughter", and "sister". We suggested that she also fills a role at church as "first counselor in the MiaMaid class presidency", as a "friend", as an "individual", and as a "daughter of God".

After she decided on her specific roles that she wants to focus on, we suggested she list them in order of importance. We asked questions like, "Is being a soccer player as important as being a friend?", "Is being a friend as important as being a sister?" and "What do you think is the most important role you have?" We explained that with a very busy schedule, there would often be times when she would have to choose between "good, better, and best", and that it might be helpful to have already decided what her "non-negotiables" were, or what was "best" if she only had a small amount of time.

As she savored her main course, we encouraged her to set a goal or two under each role, something that she would love to be able to accomplish by Christmas. We talked with her about goals that were specific and attainable (a certain grade point average, a weekly letter to her sister), versus others that were too broad or difficult to quantify ("work on Personal Progress", or "get in great shape"). She reworded some things so that her own goals were measurable.

The idea of creating her semester in her head and heart in advance is that it encourages her to be constantly working toward excellence within a balanced life. Rather than just succeeding in soccer at the expense of everything else, wouldn't it be amazing to be able to have success in each of the important areas of her life??!

Tonight, she is going to type up her goals and print them out, and then we will encourage her to hang them on her bedroom wall where she will see them each day. Here's hoping that her first high school semester is memorable and is a great success!