Monday, September 30, 2013

Hiking with Angels

I finally hiked the Y.  I can't believe it took me all these years to do it.  And I can't believe I actually made it.   My daughter Sarah lives close to the base of the Y.  I stopped by her house to get a little pep talk.  Since she was so excited about me doing it, I thought I'd text her at each of the 11 switchbacks to let her know how it was going.  Here are the texts I sent her:

The starting gate!

The first switchback:  So far so good.

Switchback 2 - Really?  9 more to go?

Switchback 3 - Did I realize it was this steep?  N to the O.

Switchback 4 - I need Sophie (our dog) and a defibrillator.

Switchback 5 - That wasn't too bad.  My favorite leg so far.  (Also felt like the shortest)

Switchback 6 - Lovely day for a hike!

Switchback 7 - I don't like this very much.

Switchback 8 - That new BYU housing looks like a bunch of little houses made of chocolate.

Switchback 9 - Are we not there yet??

 Switchback 10 - I can smell the finish line!

Switchback 11 - (Sarah had texted back encouraging me to think about how much my muscles love being worked.  I told her all I could think of was all those little houses made of chocolate.)
No fair.  This last leg is steeper and twice as long as all the others put together.

Almost there - Just walk toward the light, Pam.

A beacon of hope - the Provo temple.

Wahoooooooo!  Finally made it!!

 What a delightful view!  I even saw a helicopter below me. 
I sat there, at the top of the Y, drinking in the view.  An older lady came limping up with her son holding onto her.  I asked her how the walk had been.  She said when was able to stop huffing and puffing she would tell me.  She later said she was from Virginia, and hiking the Y had been on her bucket list for years.  This was her first--and her last--time.  It was cute to see how proud and excited her grownup son was of her.  I heard her tell him that he may have to come back and get her tomorrow, as she probably couldn't get back down.  But she made it!

I offered to take a picture of a family from California who also slowly made it to the top.  It was a mother, her teenage son and a younger daughter.  As I stood there to take the picture, I noticed that the little sister was blind.  Her exhausted mother was speaking so kindly to her.  The poor girl was frightened of the steep mountain.  And, on the way back down, I noticed the big brother put his arm around her to help her down.  I wondered just how many teenage boys would be willing to do that.  What a humble, sweet gesture.

The finish line was sure a welcome sight.

My trudge up the hill was all about how hard this was for me.  My knees hurt, I kept wondering when I would be at the top, and for some of those steep steps all I could think about was chocolate.

The hike back down was quite different.  My knees were killing me, my shoes were worn out, my toes hurt, and I really needed that restroom.  But I wasn't concerned with any of it.  Mostly I thought about that sweet young girl, her big brother, and the mother who wanted her children to experience this glorious hike.  I cried tears of gratitude for my eyesight, for my working legs, for that mother's love, for that other son's encouragement, and for his mom being able to check off one more item on her life-dreams list, and for my own daughter Sarah's love and encouragement.  I thought about my two heavenly angels, Emily and Eric.  They were certainly cheering me on.

What a beautifully exquisite day.  To all those who inspired me this morning. . . I thank you with all my heart.

I am going to have to do that one again.  But first I'm going to invest in some hiking boots.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

We Do Not Walk Alone

Yesterday was a day full of inspiring messages.  Last night at the General Women's Broadcast from the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, we heard messages of hope and the Savior's love.  I love what President Thomas S. Monson said:

"Wherever we are in life, there are times when all of us have challenges and struggles.  Although they are different for each, they are common to all.  . . there may be times when you feel detached--even isolated--from the giver of every good gift.  You worry that you walk alone.  Fear replaces faith."

President Monson continued, "When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer.  God's children were not placed on this earth to walk alone.  What an amazing source of power, of strength and of comfort is available to each of us."

I think of my missionary son, and how he looks forward to receiving letters from us, especially at times when he feels discouraged and alone.  He and I are both learning the important eternal principle that Heavenly Father does not leave us alone.  Just as we send letters of love and encouragement to Stephen here on earth,  God continues to give us heavenly inspiration and guidance.

Oh, what comfort this sweet sentence gives!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

There is No Finish Line

So when I finally got to the gym this afternoon, I was actively seeking some inspiration.  The first person I saw was a guy who looked an awful lot like the child catcher in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," only a bit more buff.  I'm afraid there was no inspiration there.

My thoughts kept returning to what I heard this morning at our Composing Your Life Women's Health Conference.  There was so much wonderful information packed into the morning.  One thought that continues to resonate with me is, that once we decide to make healthy positive changes in our life, there is no turning back.

Of course, we can turn back if we want to slip and slide back into old habits.  That is so easy to do.

So easy.  So familiar.  So comfortable.

But now, as I am making positive lifestyle changes and trying so hard to keep going, I more fully realize that this is not just about getting to the finish line.  There is no finish line.  It is about moving forward and picking myself up each time I fall, and continuing to move in the opposite direction of 'turning back.'  It's a race I will continue to run my whole life.

And it is worth every positive step forward.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thank you, Beckie!

Yesterday was one of those days where I woke up early, noticed the snow on the mountain, felt the premature chill of winter nipping at the heels of a lovely September morning, and I wanted to lounge all day curled up by the fire with my flannel nightgown and a good book.  And a cup of cocoa.

I had other obligations in the afternoon.  And I also wanted to take the day off from exercising.

Then I talked to Beckie.  I needed to run something to her house yesterday, and she was leaving soon.  Should I just take it in my nighty?  No, that might have scared the neighbors.  As I contemplated throwing on a pair of sweats, running the errand, and coming back home to my pink flannel, I realized that I may as well just put on my workout clothes and go on for my workout.  Before thinking too much about it and talking myself out of it, I went ahead.  I got to Beckie's just before she had to leave.  Then I went on to have one of the best workouts of my week.

Thank you, thank you, Beckie, for helping me to get that needed exercise session in.  I wouldn't have done it today without you!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lucy Brought Me Tootsie Rolls

A sweet lady named Lucy called me two days ago.  She had just visited her parents in a remote area of Mexico and met my cute missionary son.  When she told him she didn't live far from his family, he asked if she could bring home a small package.  She said she would.  I was ecstatic when her phone call came.  I eagerly drove to her home, picturing a thumb drive full of pictures, something--anything--that would show us how he lives and what he experiences each day.  The cream colored envelope was about the size of three boxes of butter.  I tore it open.  There were delightful letters to us all.  And there were Tootsie Rolls.  Tootsie Rolls?  I looked further.  No pictures.  No camera card.  No thumb drive.  What?  He had what may be the only chance in two years to safely send us something home, and he sends Tootsie Rolls?

Then it hit me.  He knows I love Tootsie Rolls.  Even a liiiiiittle too much I love Tootsie Rolls.  He was thinking of me.  He wanted to send something he knew would make me smile.  My heart melted.  I am touched to tears by his tenderness.  Pictures and souvenirs will come.  The letters were full of love for his family and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They spoke of the love he has for the difficult missionary work in which he is engaged.   He said he is not wasting a minute of that experience.

Lucy brought me Tootsie Rolls from Mexico.  Thank you, Lucy, for bringing me much more.  You brought me more happiness  and enlightenment than you will ever know.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Anna the Winner

To Anna, who was on "The Price is Right" today, thank you.  Thank you for exuding such excitement.  You kept me on that elliptical.  I was ready to quit early.  But I just had to see if you would win.  And you did!  You guessed so well you even won both showcases, including a trip to Utah.  Talk about a bonus!

Thanks for the extra little umph I needed today!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

To my Fellow Biker

Another beautiful morning on the Murdock Canal trail.  Heaven bless anyone and everyone who had anything to do with the construction of that lovely piece of road.  And a profound thank you to all of you who live along there, who now have bikers, walkers, runners, and even horses traipsing through your back yards.  And to you unfortunate people who live in that one corner house where I had to stop, bend over and unweave my shoelace which had become caught up in my bike chain--I'm sorry you had to see that.

As I looked into the faces of those along the trail, I saw a fellow biker who looked in absolute pain.  She did not appear happy at all to be there.  I was trying to understand it; as she was even wearing a BYU sweatshirt.  Perhaps she was thinking about the BYU-Utah game a few days ago.

Then, eight miles later, as I had made my loop and was on my way back, I passed her again.  This time she had a smile a mile wide on her face.  Was she anticipating the chocolate doughnut waiting for her back home?  Maybe excited about a wonderful day at work?   Hmmm.  I will never know.  But something turned her frown upside down this morning.  Just as I have, I wonder if she simply started seeing the beauty of the day, and didn't feel her own pain so much.  Who knows.

To you, fellow biker, I'm so glad you were able to feel joy on that bike ride.  It's going to be a beautiful day.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Elder Joseph W. Sitati

Elder Joseph Sitati visited our church yesterday.  He has actually been here for a few days, visiting with people in our LDS stake, as he has reorganized our stake presidency.  The process is quite amazing and divine.  Mark and I had a chance to visit with him and hear his inspired counsel of how to live our lives better, and to draw closer to God.  I felt as if I were in the presence of a true messenger from heaven.  His quiet, loving, yet leading demeanor has already had a powerful influence in our family these past few days.  I want to live better.  I want to keep my house more in order.  I am going to take a song or two off my iPod.  I want to treat others with more kindness and respect.  I want to spend more time reading and soaking up the scriptures.  I want to become closer to Heavenly Father.  Thank you, Elder Sitati, for your example, your words, the tender way I watched you treat your sweet wife, and for the teachings you left with us this weekend.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Sweet Mark

5:00 this morning, Mark gently woke me and asked if I wanted to go on a walk with him.  Usually I love the mornings.  But I didn't sleep well last night, and the only thing I wanted to do was turn over and pull the covers over my head.  I told him to go ahead.  Besides, Sophie, our yellow lab, was running up and down the hall, chomping at the bit, at the prospect of going with Mark on a walk.  Just before they went out the front door, I realized how much I wanted to go, too.  I called out for them to wait for me, and I hurried and got ready while Mark took Sophie around the block.

Although my knee still hurts a bit, I tried to shake it off before it totally lured me back to bed.  The thought of being out, early in the morning, spending some time with Mark, kept me going.

We started around the track just down the street from our house.  Mark looked up at the sky and commented on the beauty.  What beauty?  What did he mean?  It was pitch dark!  And didn't he know how much my knee hurt?  And by the way, now my foot, too?  I need some new shoes.  But I looked around.  I looked up.  Then I noticed it, too.  There were bright, twinkly stars.  The moon was full.  It wasn't so dark after all.  It was a beautiful autumn morning!  Mark then went on to tell me about a wonderful speaker he heard last night at a conference.  He shared this man's ideals and success in his personal, family, and business life.  During the last half of our walk, we talked about those ideas, and it was easy to see how positive Mark is.  He seeks for the good in everything.  And he loves and appreciates life. He loves and appreciates his Father in Heaven.  And he loves and appreciates me!  He tells me often.  I love being married to Mark.  He is my rock.  He finds the beauty in the storm.

And, just as it has seemed to do on other days, my aches and pains began to subside as I focused more on him, and my own eternal gratitude for him in my life.  What a delightful blessing and inspiration he is.

Have a wonderful day, my sweet Mark.  I love you!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pain and Refocus

An amazing realization occurred yesterday morning as I was on that beautiful bike ride along the Murdock Canal.  My knees were killing me, and I could think of little else throughout most of the ride.  Then I saw the young woman I wrote about in yesterday's entry, running and pushing the jogging stroller.  I realized when I got home that as I was thinking about how inspiring she and many others out there on the trail were, I hadn't even noticed my pain for the remainder of the ride.  It was incredible how that worked!

I remember well my first marathon, just over ten years ago.  The night before the big 26.2 Deseret News Marathon, I wrote down 26.2 (!) names of those who helped me get there.  Family, friends, even teachers and mentors.  I dedicated a mile to each of them.  Each time I reached a mile marker, I pulled out my list and focused on that person for the next mile.  Mark was by my side the entire time, even though he could have finished it much faster than I could, and we talked about that person while we ran (or walked!).  Having someone else to focus on was extremely helpful when the miles grew painful and  when I wondered why in the world I had set out to do this.  What an exhilarating experience to realize the many who had and continue to be such an inspiration.

So.  Now I'm a little older and wanting to get back into the swing of things.  Things like joints and bones and muscles are a little more creaky and wobbly and painful.  They don't do what I'd like them to do as fast as I'd like.  I'm seeking for inspiration.  I'm certain, as happened yesterday, that looking around and focusing on someone else will help me to not be so concerned with my own aches and pains.

Today's 'dedication' goes to the guy I saw in the gym this morning.  I have seen him there once or twice, he looks to be about 40 or 50 years old, but today I noticed him hunched over, walking from one weight machine to the next.  He looked like he was in even more pain than I was yesterday.  He was limping a bit, and I have no idea what his story is.  But he was there.  He didn't not show up to work out.  It was inspiring to see that perhaps he would have rather stayed home in bed this morning, but instead, he was pushing forward.

To you, as you finish your day, I hope the pain lessens.  I hope you have loved ones who will give you support and care.  And I hope you will show up again to push through another day!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Today I went on a bike ride along the newly constructed Murdock Canal.  The morning was beautiful and invigorating.  But my knees were killing me.  What made me think I could run around the track more than I should have, a few nights ago?  That's another story, but today I focus on the wonderful experience I had this morning.  There is something to being outdoors that rejuvenates the spirit, isn't there?  However, all I could think of during the first seven miles of my 11 mile trek was how bad my left knee hurt.  Grateful it wasn't my right one, which is the one that usually hurts.  Anyway, as I rounded a corner, I noticed a young woman running towards me pushing a jogging stroller.  The sun hit her blond hair just so, and she looked like an angel. And she had a pony tail.  It was waving back and forth behind her, and then, as I passed her, I noticed the intensity on her face.  The focus.  The determination.  I thought of her for the rest of my ride.  I admire her dedication.  Not just to her health, but to that sweet child she was pushing.  It was probably her own child, but it could have been a niece, a neighbor, perhaps even a little sister.

Whatever else happens in her day today, it will be much easier to handle because of her run.

To you, whomever you are, thank you for inspiring me this morning!