Tuesday, December 23, 2008
How to explain my recent lack of posts? I could blame it all on work and and I wouldn't be lying. But the real truth is that I've been feeling a bit blue and haven't been able to come up with anything light-heart and fun to blog about; worse, those songs that usually fill my head have been missing.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I'm on my way to Rio this morning - only a couple of weeks late. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, the beach, the sunshine and figuring out if I remember any of the meager amount of Portuguese I managed to learn.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
For the past couple of weeks I've wanted to blog, but just couldn't find the words to express what was going on in my world. Two weeks ago my grandma had an accident, and even with the best medical care she wasn't able to recover. On November 20, 2008 at 12:00 she passed away. I was at her side and held her hand as she left. This loss has left a whole in my heart.
I've decided to post a portion of the tribute I gave at her funeral to share more about her:
When you say the word “grandma” most people get a mental picture of what a grandma is to them. I’ve always struggled when talking about my grandma, because that normal stereotype has never been adequate. Don’t get me wrong, Grandma S had all the typical characteristics, she was a great cook, kept an immaculate house, made beautiful quilts and afghans, and loved to do things with her grandchildren. But, when I talk about my grandma I always feel compelled to add a little additional information so they can understand that she was so much more.
Not only were there just three of us, we grew up next door to grandma and grandpa which means I don’t remember ever having a babysitter – we’d always just go to grandma’s house. I don’t remember a school program or activity that grandma and grandpa weren’t in the audience to support us.
I spent every Friday night and Saturday morning at grandma’s house, she’d let me stay up late to watch shows mom and dad probably would have outlawed and she let me get up as early as I wanted to watch Saturday morning cartoons, it was every kid’s paradise.
Grandma was responsible for teaching me how to shop, which still ranks right up at the top of my list of favorite things to do. She taught me the importance of bringing things home to try them on before deciding – so you could test it out with your shoes and accessories. She taught me that when you are shopping at a mall it’s smarter not to buy as you are making your first round of the stores, instead just decide what you like but before you buy it, have the store hold it and make sure you’ve seen what else the mall has to offer before you commit. Following this advice has saved me tons of money and prevented a few disastrous fashion choices. Grandma taught me one other shopping lessons that I haven’t had to use yet, but I’m sure I will someday - when bringing new clothing home, it’s safer to stash them in the back of the closet and not wear it for a week or two, when your spouse asks where you got it, you can honestly say “this old thing? It’s just something I pulled out from the closet.”
Grandma made sure we had photographs of all of the special events in our lives. She was the official family photographer. We’d get all lined up for the photo, have our best smiles pasted on, would say cheese, and then nothing. A big groan would go up – as everyone realized she’d forgotten to wind the camera again. Not only did grandma take the photos, she made sure they were properly labeled and placed in photo albums. When I need to find a photo of any of us when we were younger, the first place I go is the albums that grandma kept – it’s much faster than digging through the shoe boxes I kept.
One day last week as I was sitting in the hospital struggling to come to terms with losing grandma, I noticed a copy of the conference edition of the Ensign (a monthly magazine from the LDS Church) that mom had brought in. I picked it up and started thumbing through it, the title of Elder Wirthlin’s talk jumped out at me “Come What May, and Love It.” My immediate thought was how anyone could love what we were going through in that moment. I didn’t get a chance to read the article then, but it stayed in my mind so when I got home that evening I looked up the talk and started to read. I’ve been back to this article many time in the past week and while there is nothing that could make me love losing grandma the talk has brought me a great deal of comfort and has helped me look at what we’ve been going through in a different light.
Elder Wirthlin said, “Every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.”
Elder Wirthlin suggests in times of difficulty or sorrow that we seek for the eternal, he says, “the dial on the wheel of sorrow eventually points to each of us. At one time or another, everyone must experience sorrow. No one is exempt. Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others.”
I’ve been greatly comforted as I’ve tried to take Elder Wirthlin’s advice and put this in the eternal perspective. I know that grandma is in a better place, a place where her body is whole and strong, a place where she is surrounded by loved ones, including her beloved mother. I know without a doubt that she is able to watch over us and will continue to be a part of our lives. And, I know that I will see her again. I’m learning to accept that Heavenly Father called her home, and while I may not understand why she had to go now, I have faith that it was a part of Heavenly Father’s plan.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Mission: Trick or Treating - the first stop: Great-grandpa's, where M entertained herself running laps around my car and playing with Scooter, the cat. After a handful of carefully selected houses, we were ready to make one last stop at Grandma & Grandpa's. M knows how this thing works - I don't think we hit a single house where she didn't get more than one treat! Watch out for her next year when she'll actually be able to say "trick or treat"
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Being home again is wonderful! I returned to my house on the mountain in time to see some of the beautiful fall colors. The leaves are falling now, but the first 3 or 4 days I was here was amazing, all yellows, oranges and reds. There is nothing more beautiful to me than the fall colors during the day and the clear, star-filled night sky we've been enjoying.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I made it safely back from Pune early this afternoon and have been busy packing - deciding what to bring home and what to leave, hoping I can avoid paying fees on my luggage (four months = too much shopping!)
In just a few hours I'll be off to the airport and even though I'm dreading the marathon flight, I'm nearly giddy with the thought that I'll be home soon.
To keep me going while I'm waiting for my flight I've been listening to this Amy MacDonald track on replay, it's a perfect fit with the season and my attitude today:
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tonight I made my way to spectator plaza to grab an ice cream for dinner. (Mom, I know that's not very healthy but it was the only thing that sounded good to me.) I met an Indian friend on my way there so we visited while we made our way there.
We hadn't been there long when a kid stopped to asked me for a pin from my country. This happens to me frequently as at this event the spectators and athletes mingle together each evening at spectator plaza and the cultural center. The local kids have quickly discovered that the athletes and officials usually carry national pins that they are willing to give away. I apologized and explained my country wasn't competing in this event and that I didn't have pins. This happened to me a couple more times while we were there - we were getting quite a laugh over it.
Just as we finished our cones a group of teenage boys asked me if they could have their picture taken with me. It crossed my mind to try and explain that I wasn't an athlete or part of the team, but like I did yesterday, I just decided to grin and bask in the false fame that comes from having very pale skin in the middle of India.
When I arrive at the airport on Monday someone may need to inform the paparazzi that the "Queen of Hollywood" has landed.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Today I left the athlete's village on my way to the competition venues. A volunteer stopped me and asked for my autograph, I tried telling that I wasn't anyone famous or important, but he still wanted me to sign his book. I grinned to myself and signed my very first autograph. For a brief moment I felt like "one of the brightest stars." Luckily for my rapidly growing ego, the volunteer quickly brought me back to earth when he asked me for some money from my country to add to his collection. Sadly, I only had rupees on me.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The "will they get it finished on time" mystery is over; competition is going on at every venue and the competitors seem to be having a great time. The stands, which were empty for the first day or two, are now full of school kids (which since this is a youth event is quite fitting.)
Which leaves me time to move on to other things - like a great debate over whether I can afford to splurge on the shiny new Macbook. I've been craving a Mac for a while now, but I don't know if I want it because it is sleek, shiny and cool or if it is the type of laptop I need. Input is welcome - am I a Mac or a PC, can a person be both?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The Opening Ceremony ended just minutes ago - it was a crazy day, but when it is all said and done the ceremony happened and everyone seemed to have a great time.
I don't have many pictures from today - I got kicked out of the venue for having a camera at one point and needed some fast talking by some friends to get me back in, so I put the camera away. But I did manage to get a couple of shots of the welcome provided to the dignitaries coming to the show.
I'm not really sure how everything came together to make it all happen today, but in it's own "extraordinary way" the team pulled it off.
Friday, October 10, 2008
What a difference 24 hours has made. Yesterday the focus seemed to be construction and clean-up. Today, it seems to be beautification. The venue was crawling with people planting flowers and putting up signs and banners.
Everyone seemed to be moving a little faster and talking a little louder, I'm feeling a lot more positive - although a thunderstorm tonight could slow things a bit. Still, today everything seems to be "Closer to Fine."
The closer I am to fine.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The pace seems to have picked up over night, today I found athletes on the fields/courts practicing - always a good sign.
Everywhere you walk there are people cleaning up - this group of women in their sarees (along with an adorable little boy who was tagging along with his mom) were cleaning up the field next to the office I'm working out of.
In the shooting range the sod was going down. It's brought in by a truck to the front door of the venue and the workers carry several pieces on their heads in through the venue.
Still there is work left to be done. The picture above is of the media entrance at one of the venues. The picture below is the staff entry at the same venue - you have to jump over a ditch and wade through the mud to get to the door.
There is a lot of work left to do in a little more than 2 days, but if they keep working at this pace it just may "Come Together"
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Remember the flooded field from yesterday? Today it was back in use for Ceremonies Rehearsal - no standing water, but look close and you'll see a mud pit at the bottom of the picture. Still I have to admit, it looks better than I thought it would.
Today I visited the Athlete Village, I had to walk on a dirt road, which was uneven, unpaved, covered in garbage and patrolled by a very skinny (and slightly scary) dog. It is hard to see but there are about 70 flag poles with the flags of all of the countries competing. Right now the flag poles are in the middle of a muddy field surrounded by garbage and twisted metal. I'm hoping they get some sod laid before all the teams arrive.
As we get closer to running out of time, I can't help but think from a line from an old Smith's song:
When exactly do you mean?
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
As if I'm not already excited to be headed home in a couple of weeks, it seems that late Oct / early Nov is a great time to be in the Salt Lake area if you are a music fan.
Several weeks ago I bought tickets to The Hotel Cafe Tour a concert full of some of my very favorite female singer-songwriters which is coming to SLC in Nov.
Today I discovered Ray LaMontagne, the guy I love to listen to as I fall asleep, when I'm waking up and pretty much any other part of the day, is coming to Murray (?) on Oct 28. Count me in!
This just makes me even more excited about coming home! UPDATE: I just discovered the Ray LaMontagne concert is SOLD OUT already! So sad!
Picking a song to go on this post is nearly impossible but since I just found out about the Ray LaMontagne show tonight and Nic said she didn't know he was when I asked her to help me buy tickets, here is a song for her so she can hear his AMAZING voice!
I spent a little more time at the venues today, some progress had been made but there was a lot of work left to do - and now it will be even more challenging.
Around noon it started to rain - well, perhaps downpour is a more accurate description
Within 30 minutes the road in front of the building I was in had turned into a river and the water was about to reach the level of the sidewalks. The dirt field that is to be the VVIP parking area in 5 days was a lake.
The main stadium, where just minutes before the performers were rehearsing for Opening Ceremonies, was completely flooded. It is going to take a lot of work and luck to get everything ready on time now.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I arrived in Pune yesterday and headed out to the venues to see how they looked. They are beautiful - but not quite finished. Everyone says they will be done in time (as will the new road they are building to the venue.) My American eyes think there is a lot of work to be done in the next 5 days, but I'm hoping it is just one of those cultural differences I keep running into.
In case you can't tell from the picture, that is a ladder made out of bamboo and rope - glad I don't have to climb it!
I loved spending Monday away from the routine of the office. It feels great to have some variety in the day along with the adrenaline that comes from an event.
I'll try and take a few more photos of the venue tomorrow, hopefully by then we'll be singing "It's All Been Done!"
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I wish I was there to help you celebrate, Nic! Enjoy the Grove and take a picture or two for me.
For you, my best friend, a little Ryan Shupe, "Dream Big" because I can't hear it without thinking of you and all that you've done to make your dreams come true.
At the first of each month I sit down and review the posts from the previous month and make a playlist to go the left of the page. Today, as I sat down a looked at September I saw I only posted 7 times! I plan to do much better in October
I tried to figure out why, I wasn't any busier than usual, so that can't be an excuse. It's not as if I had a boring month - I turned 35 and traveled to Nepal - pretty good for one month. All I can figure is that I wasn't feeling particularly inspired. This four month trip to India has been the hardest trip I've taken since I started doing this nearly 3 years ago. For one thing it is longer than I am usually away (3 months is the norm.) Work has been more challenging and stressful. And a bit of the newness has work off on Delhi, even my commute which I used to find fascinating has now become boring.
The good news is things are changing. As I left the office last night I realized it was the last time I would be in the building for several months. I'm not on my way home yet, but tomorrow morning I'm off for Pune, India for a week long event that starts on the 12th. I've spent today packing, not just to go to Pune, but also to go home as I'll only have about 12 hours from the time I return to Pune until the time I get on the plane to come home. It feels good to have some change in the air, I know the next couple of weeks will be busy, but it will be different and fun so I'm hoping the time will fly by. In the meantime, I'll keep spending my night dreaming about the home improvement projects I'm hoping to attempt while I'm home - anyone interested in a painting party?
Thanks to a certain someone, I haven't been able to get things song out of my head, so I'm going to pay it forward and hope you'll be singing along with me.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Today was a national holiday in India, a day to celebrate the birth and life of Gandhi. In his honor, here are a few of my favorite of his words:
- Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
- In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
- Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
- When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always.
- You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
- You must be the change you want to see in the world.
and gentle hand
as I try to change
the way I am
and God forgives me
when I can't
I need peace of mind
and a gentle hand
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Mom has been after me all week to post some pictures from my trip to Kathmandu last weekend, and thanks to my decision to stay in the house today after the latest bombing in Delhi (we're all okay) today is a great time to catch up.
The trip was amazing! I fell in love with Kathmandu and cannot wait to go back, a weekend just wasn't enough time. Like Delhi, the city is full of color, sound and smells, but it has a much more relaxed vibe.
I found a great hotel, The Courtyard, and within a half a day I felt like I was staying with friends or family. The hotel is in the center of the tourist area, but thanks to a long driveway and a beautiful courtyard, you feel miles away from the hustle. The owners are a couple from Seattle, so we had some great conversations about the city we love. They gave great advice on where to find the best shopping and have a way of bringing their guest all together each evening for great conversation.
Each evening I found myself out to dinner with a different group of people staying at the hotel - one night we were out for a Nepali food and I looked around the table and realized we had a Canadian, 2 Australians, a Swede, an Irishman, a Nepali, 2 Americans and a Frenchman, our own mini-UN. The food was amazing and the company was perfect.
I went on the trip expecting to spend tons of time on my own, meditating and setting goals for the next five years. Instead I spent it surrounded by people and had a great time. It was a real lesson for me - sometimes I need to let go of control and just let things happen.
We didn't get to see any of the cultural sites on this trip - the local's were rioting around the cultural sites over some decisions made by the new government, so we decided to play it safe and stick to other areas of town - the shopping district which means I brought home some great finds and got to see these adorable little boys who found their own fun on the walk home from school.
With the city less than 90 minutes away from Delhi by air, I'm planning to return frequently. It was the perfect place for me to let go of the stress and worry of work and just relax and be. Donavon Frankenreiter's "Let It Go" was my theme song for the weekend:
'Cause feels so strange
Yeah you feel so strange
Do you ever feel like everything you're doing never gets done
Like you're on the run
Don't it feel so good to let it go
Forget about everything you know
Do you ever feel like all you do is try and try
But you never get by
I said you never get by
Do ever feel like what you're doing ain't what you want
It's just what you've been taught
It's gonna feel so good to let it go
Forget about everything you know
Grab a friend let's come togheter
Times like these should last forever
Laugh at me
And I'll laugh too
Cry At Me
And I'll cry with you
Just to help you through
Friday, September 19, 2008
This is my 100th post! When I started this blog back in February I didn’t tell anyone about if for a while because I didn’t know if I would stick with it, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment to have made it this far. I had no idea how much I would enjoy having a creative outlet and a place to share my daily journey.
Today is also my 35th birthday, an event I’ve been dreading. Now that it is here, it isn’t as bad as I’d thought, but that’s probably because of where I am - Kathmandu, Nepal.
A little over a month ago I was filling in a questionnaire and one of the questions asked me to think back to a peak time in my life. I really had to stretch to come up with an answers, many of the simple answers – getting married, having kids, are things I haven’t experienced yet, so I had to dig deep to realize one of the greatest weeks of my life was the week I turned 30 – another birthday I had been dreading.
I spent the a few days in Las Vegas with some girlfriends, and since what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas I won’t share any of the details here, it is sufficient to know that we had a great time and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to my twenties.
Once I got back to Seattle I got in the car and drove down the Washington/Oregon coasts to Cannon Beach - where part of “The Goonies” was filmed for those of you who are old enough to remember the classic film. It was my very first solo vacation and it was perfect. I spent time sitting on the beach with a book, strolling through the shops, going for long rides through the national forests and meditating about my life and where I wanted it to go in the future, a perfect way to say hello to my thirties.
After revisiting this experience I decided I wanted to do something similar to commemorate my birthday this year. I got out a map and decided that Kathmandu sounded exotic, relaxing and audacious enough to take the place of both Vegas and Cannon Beach. I booked my flight, tracked down a hotel and for the first time started looking forward to my birthday.
I plan to spend the weekend exploring the city, seeing mountains for the first time in months and meditating on my life today and what I want to do with the next five years.
Looking back on my 30th birthday there was no way I could imagine then I’d be spending my 35th birthday in Nepal, I can only hope the next 5 years will be as full of surprises as the last 5.
Instead of ending this post with a song, I’m going ask you to give me a song. Put your song in the comments – it could be your favorite song, a new one you just can’t get out of your head, one that reminds you of me or a memory we share, a song or artist I’ve posted about you love or one that defines the kind of day you’ve had. All you lurkers who’ve been reading but never commenting, now is the time to do so, how can you refuse – it’s my birthday. I can’t wait to see the birthday playlist you’ll create for me. Pin It
Posted by Jamie at 1:40 PM
Monday, September 15, 2008
After Saturday's bombing, I spent Sunday in the house - I think I just wanted to be in a place where I felt safe. But as I read the news from around the world I realized just what a crazy, tragic weekend it was.
The devestation caused by Hurricane Ike in Texas and Louisiana, the train crash in LA, the plane crash in Russia, the mudslide in China, the anniversary of Sept 11 and the bombing in Delhi. Not to mention the sad news from wall street. What a terrible weekend.
I got up today determined to treat it just like any other Monday (which means I wasn't particularly excited to go to work, but I did it anyway.) When lunch time came, I decided I wouldn't order in, but would go out, in my small way I was letting the terrorist know they weren't going to control my life. I'm sure it will take a while before I feel like visiting some of the markets here in Delhi, but I'm going to carefully resume my life, because really, what else can we do.
At times like this, I can't help but be thankful for the role faith plays in my life. I'm so grateful that I could kneel down and ask for comfort for myself and for those around the world who were impacted. I'm grateful to know that I am a child of God who hears and answers my prayers.
I've had this moody and appropriate song in my head since Saturday night:
Saturday, September 13, 2008
If you read my blog you know I'm in Delhi. If you watch the news you know there were a series of bomb blasts here today.
I was home when it happened and am safe as are all of my team mates.
We are okay, but would welcome prayers for those impacted by the blasts. Pin It
Saturday, September 6, 2008
M came into the apartment this morning laughing over something in the Times of India (this isn't unusual, the overly dramatic paper regularly makes us laugh.) Today he found a story about Utah and he couldn't wait to share the laugh with me.
Who knew I could pick up the local Delhi paper and ready a story from Garfield County? Wonder if Sheriff Perkins knows he's no longer just "Famous in a Small Town?" - his fame has spread to India.
I've always loved this song - mostly because I relate to it, anyone who grew up in a small town knows there is very little you can do that won't get talked about - and reported back to your parents. At times I miss knowing everyone I see when I go out to run errands on Saturday, but there are other times I'm grateful for the anonymity that comes from living in a city of 14 million.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I know I've told you about Tuk Tuk's before. The cute little yellow and green colored, three-wheeled vehicles we sometimes use in India. They are a cut above the rickshaws/pedi-cabs and step below taxis, best of all they are cheap and easy to find and you get the joy of negotiating a price
Many of them have bumper stickers on the back advertising something. I always assumed the Tuk Tuk drivers rented out the space on the back to make a little extra money - that's how it would be done back home. This morning I discovered the truth (or at least the truth in many cases.)
We were stopped at a light for a while and to the side of us there was a guy with a stack of bumper stickers. When the Tuk Tuk's would slow down or stop for the light, he'd run out and subtly apply the sticker to the back. In most cases, the drivers had no idea they'd been tagged. The true definition of Ambush Marketing.
I couldn't find today's song in a format I could embed, so you'll have to click here if you want to listen to Ryan Shupe's "Ambush." My personal shout out to a fellow Utahn and one of my sis's all time favorites. Pin It
Monday, September 1, 2008
I learned a good lesson today. I came home from work exhausted and not particularly loving my job or life. After a good rant (thanks for listening Nic.) I was getting ready for bed. I realized that after tossing and turning last night, I needed to refocus my mind and get it away from work and into a happier mental place so I could get some sleep tonight. I instantly remembered something I saw on my way to work today.
Each morning we drive past a tent city set up on the side of the road. I watch the women cleaning up from breakfast and doing laundry and the children playing around the tents. The kids are always doing something different, whether it's building things with the firewood they've collected or playing on the dirt hill.
Today I happened to notice one of the women watering two potted plants in front of her tent. I thought that was amazing, it really doesn't matter what challenges life throws our way - what matters is how we chose to deal with them. She doesn't have a big house with lots of beautiful furniture that many of us (ok, I) feel are requirements for a happy life, instead she has a home made of a tarp and some "found" bricks, but she's doing all that she can to make it a beautiful, pleasant place. A lesson for me to sleep on.
I need to end this blog with a song that will give me another boost towards optimism, so from one of my favorite discoveries of the summer, Lady Antebellum's "One Day You Will."
Like you're slippin' through the cracks
Like no one would even notice
If you left this town and never came back
You walk outside and all you see is rain
You look inside and all you feel is pain
And you can't see it now
But down the road the sun is shining
In every cloud there's a silver lining
Just keep holding on (just keep holding on)
And every heartache makes you stronger
But it won't be much longer
You'll find love, you'll find peace
And the you you're meant to be
I know right now that's not the way you feel
But one day you will
You wake up every morning and ask yourself
What am I doing here anyway
With the weight of all those disappointments
Whispering in your ear
You're just barely hanging by a thread
You wanna scream but you're down to your last breath
And you don't know it yet
Find the strength to rise above
Find just what you're made of, you're made of
One day you will
Oh one day you will
Sorry for the slightly cheesy video - it was the only decent version of the song I could find.