A joy report.

After all those serious posts the last few days about how January bites and the world is falling apart, I realized that those of you who just started visiting recently probably think I’m kind of a downer.  I’m lucky enough to know that most of the rest of you who have been around for a while know me a little better and can just roll your eyes and think:  She’ll be over it in a couple days.

So here’s a report about some things that are making me happy lately.

Last weekend, we went to St. George.  Matt took the kids and hung out with his dad, and I stayed by myself all day to write.  I’ve been working on a book for a while, but I really needed some alone time to catch up.  It was wonderful.  I learned so much and wrote a lot, and honestly felt the Spirit a lot.  It was a great dose of invigoration.

I’m sure a small part of my writing success was due to having these on hand:

Next: I like to give parties.  I am not a really good party giver because I never take the time to scan Pinterest or Google for ideas to make my parties all they could be.  I don’t really decorate or craft or do much of anything for parties because I kind of feel like great company is what makes a good party (plus I’m lazy).  I just like to create an excuse for people to get together and then I like to enjoy those people.  So for the last two years, I’ve planned some kind of girls’ night out for February (probably to recover from January).  These February girls’ nights seem to have a recurring theme.  Last year, a group of us went to see the play Persuasion at BYU. And eat of course.  The year before, I did something I loved in Minnesota called a J.A.M. party:  A Jane Austen Marathon.  It was so fun, and since I obviously don’t get sick of Jane Austen, I’m going to do it again this year.  So if you live near Happy Valley in Utah, or are willing to drive that direction, you’re officially invited to J.A.M. Party 2012.  Here is a geographical hint.  (I’m so cryptic.)

The party is not actually in this building, because, well, that would just be silly, but it gives you an approximate location.  It will be February 24th.  We will watch Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility, and Pride & Prejudice, all in a glorious row.  And eat of course.  Email me if you want more details (address is on the sidebar in the “Nice to meet you” paragraph).  Once I have used my superpowers to determine you are not a creep, I’ll give them to you (the details, not my actual superpowers).  So anyway, yay! I’m excited about that.

Moving on.  I have been loving the Ensign and general conference, but duh.  You already knew that about me.

You may have noticed that in the aforementioned overly-serious posts, I used the word “hard” a lot.  Today I  drove Natalie to gymnastics.  She was recently invited to be in a higher-level class which is, obviously, more difficult.  She’s only been a few times, and she has a little anxiety about it.  It’s not as easy and carefree as her little preschool gymnastics were, so she tried to convince me that she doesn’t like it.  The thing is, I know she does like it.  She does cartwheels, roundoffs, handsprings, etc. around my house endlessly.  She loves it when people watch her and tell her how great she is.  She’s just nervous about the new class.  So I started reassuring her in all the ways I knew how, trying to build her confidence.  I said, “Here’s one thing I know about you:  You can do hard things, and you are smart and strong.”  She held back a grin and stared out the window.  When we arrived at the gym, her nerves returned and she didn’t want to go in.  I helped her change into her leotard.  “No peeking,” I said, and then I grabbed a pen and took her hands.

While we walked into the gym, she kept looking at her hands and giggling.  I told her to look at her hands every time she felt nervous in her class.

Then I started thinking some more on the way home about the stuff I already wrote about.  And I started giving myself my own lecture.  “I can do hard things, too.”  I remembered that Sister Dalton talked about that once, so I looked it up and found it.

Last general conference, I was called by President Monson to be the new Young Women general president. As I stood in the presence of a prophet of God and was given this sacred trust, I pledged that I would serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. Prior to this calling, I had a small plate inscribed with a motto that read, “I can do hard things.” That little plate bearing that simple motto gave me courage. But now if I could change that motto, it would read: “In the strength of the Lord, I can do all things.” 

And then I did something that will amaze you.  I made a printable. Or quote, or whatever.  I don’t know the real terms.  I only have the skill to make things out of Microsoft Word and Google Images, so if any of you have some old version of Photoshop you want to give away for Valentines Day, you know who to call.  Anyway, here it is:

(I was thinking about that one quote about not crashing your heart on the rocks of grief.)  So now that quote is making me happy, too.

Last item on the joy report:  I’m going to the temple tonight.  All those people I’m worried about are going right on the prayer roll, and Heavenly Father is going to take care of them.

How about you?  What’s making you happy these days?

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It is quite vexatious.

I just finished reading Emma by Jane Austen.

Then I watched the really old 6-part miniseries of Emma (because it’s an instant download on Netflix).

And whenever I finish reading anything by Jane Austen, no matter how many times I’ve read it, my brain starts thinking in old English.  And, upon my word, it is quite tiresome. I half expect a servant to announce my arrival as I go from room to room.

You may recall that I’m an adoring Austen fan.  I can’t really discern why, as I’m not extremely formal nor romantic; nevertheless, I can return to her books and the adaptions of them over and over again and never find them tedious.  Sorry, I just can’t get the tainted language out.  I shall exert myself.  🙂

Anyway, Emma has never been my favorite Austen heroine.  Like Mr. Knightley does on occasion, I find her indulged and careless.  But this time around, I saw a lot of myself in Emma, and that surprised me.  For the first time, I realized some parallels between her love story and my own, especially how she tried to help a friend to make a match and was surprised to find out that his affections were directed toward herself.  (Of course, in her case, it led to shock and disgust.  In my case it led to shock and then marriage.)  Also, like Emma, I like to laugh, and sometimes I find myself in an annoying situation (for those familiar with the novel, think about the outing on Box Hill), and I use my own humor or wit to make it tolerable.  Once at a boring and tiny-bit contentious PTO meeting, I cracked a few jokes to “lighten things up” a little, and like Emma did with Miss Bates, ended up offending someone unintentionally.  So, when I saw the comparison, I too felt personally rebuked by Mr. Knightley when he expressed his disappointment in her– “Badly done, Emma.  Badly done.” — and I felt her shame as she rode home in the carriage in tears.  I’m still not sure what to make of the fact that I’m more like a character I’ve never really liked than I thought I was.

I like to think that the Austen heroine I’m most like is Elinor from Sense and Sensibility.  In many ways, I relate to her the most.  She is the oldest child, the responsible one.  She is practical and realistic, but has deep feelings.  She is clever and consoling and gives good advice.  I like Elinor.  I love Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, too, especially for her wit and spunk.  One thing I like about both of them is that they do not have a brooding nature; they forge on with what must be done even when they are suffering or confused.  My favorite heroine is Anne Elliott from Persuasion.  I don’t think I am like her, because she is too kind and patient, but she is the character I most admire.

How about you?  I know there are some more Austen fans out there.  Who is your favorite heroine and why?  And which one do you think you are the most like?  We’ll have to save the discussion of favorite male characters for another day.  Good heavens, that deserves a discussion of its own.

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