Welcome to my digital writing journal, or mydigitalclutter. What started as a family blog almost two years ago has morphed into my writing therapy. This is where I do a lot of free writing, mostly about my life with my family and the things that catch my interest. While nowhere even close to perfect, in each post I like to see how my writing is changing with time and practice. Most posts are left unedited for this reason, so if you don't mind, take the journey with me.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Umm, Where's Mom?

Me hanging onto Abbie and Nigel-Valley of Fire 2008
The other day I saw a post on Facebook, with a link to a blog, that got me thinking, and almost has put me into a stupor. It has been on my mind, and I’m almost obsessed with the idea, so much so, that it has caused sleepless nights, and worry. Do I have any proof that I was here?

I’ve been obsessed with writing, or the idea of writing for a very long time. Someday, I want a book with my name stated clearly as the author, proof that I was here, but I’m writing about something entirely different today. I want to leave proof in other ways; ways that my children will cherish in the years to come.

I have a couple of things that sit in my chest of treasures, items that are valuable to me, but have little worth in the eyes of the world. I have a letter, written by my grandfather, in his own spidery handwriting, giving me love and advice when I was far from home. Written before the days of quick e-mail or the ease of texting, it is a letter on lined paper, black ink marching across the page. It is treasured for the fact it was something he wrote, his hand touched the page, his thoughts strung together in words for me to read half way across the world. He could have typed it, which would have been easier for him, and his arthritic fingers, but he wrote it out and so I treasure it even more. I also have a picture of him, in his early days of teaching in the 1940’s. He is young, smooth skinned, and I adore it. The picture has fused to the glass of the frame, where it has been housed for more years than I can remember and regardless of the condition, it is a prized possession. This is physical evidence that he was here. He was part of my life. He has been gone for 15 years now, and I am so glad I have these few mementos to hang on to. Not all my cousins or siblings have these types of treasures, and that makes me sad. What have they missed?

This takes me back to the proof I want to leave. Are there pictures of me? Do I have notes left to my children and husband, which will stand the test of time, written in my own hand? I’m sure that when I am gone, they will not care if my penmanship is gorgeous and elegant. They won’t care if my hair is a mess, or I am having body image issues. They will want a picture of me, smiling when I’m happy, crying when I’m sad, so they can remember me. They will treasure a letter or a note that has my own writing on it, something personal and far from the clinical sterility of typing it out as I'm want to do.

My Mom-June 2008
I grew up with my mother hiding when the camera came out. She was either behind the camera, or running into the other room. I have very few where she is smiling naturally, because she grew up where smiles in photos were forced. It’s a behavior that I’m sure she learned from her mother, and it has caused me quite a bit of frustration when I think of missed opportunities. One of my favorite pictures I have is one that I caught the day she returned home from her mission and I saw her for the first time in almost two years. She is goofy and laughing, hamming it up for the camera. She isn’t stiff and formal, and this is an actual representation of how I view her. In this digital age, where there is so little cost or effort in taking a picture, why do we all shy away from showing who we really are? Are we so afraid of what we will see of ourselves we would rather not be present?

Looking at my own experience, I am the one, always behind the camera, shooting hundreds of shots of our surroundings, they various expressions of my children, and the important events of our lives. I’ve filled external hard drives with the number of photos I’ve taken in the past couple of years. The problem? I’m in so few of them, I’m not sure that my family could even say I attended any of the events I’ve documented. There is no picture of me with my daughter, laughing at the funny antics at the rodeo, or that I was at the zoo that one time we went with friends. Where am I? Behind the lens, catching it all, but never pausing to say, “Take a picture of me!” How sad to think that I put such a low value of my influence on my children’s lives. Won’t they want to see a picture of me, smiling broadly the day they were born? Even though my eyes are exhausted, my hair a mess, and tears are streaming down my cheeks? It shouldn’t bother me, because I know it won’t bother them.

Does this aversion come from a time when a photograph was an expensive item? Something one dressed up for, and never smiled? Is it because we were frugal in ways to “save money” on the cost of film and developing, where we could have saved somewhere else, and had a payout, something ever so priceless?
Mommy and Nigel
Abbie and Me at Temple Square
To help myself remember, I’ve created a blog, just for me, although you are more than welcome to participate if you so desire, to prove to myself and those that I love, that I was HERE! I want to post pictures of me, with my children, friends, and family. (Still under serious construction!) I want it to be more than the rare Facebook profile shot, taken with my computer camera. I want it to showcase who I really am. I will survive the embarrassment of bed head for the sake of leaving a physical legacy. Proof I was here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Viewing Old Glory

I’ve had a number of blog posts running through my head, and just haven’t taken the time to put them down on paper.  Because of our observance of Independence Day, I thought I would share some thought I have regarding this almost spiritual holiday.

While serving a mission for my church back in the mid ‘90s, I spent a time in an area where a number of foreign embassies had offices.  During one of the hot humid days of summer (probably sometime in February or early March), while riding one of the modes of public transportation, we skirted the edge of the grounds of the U.S Embassy.  Peeking through the trees I was able to catch a glimpse of Old Glory, waving in the slight breeze.  Without a moment’s hesitation, tears welled up in my eyes and I was filled with a burning of patriotic pride.  Suddenly, it was the 4th of July for me and my companion.  Home was just a few steps away before the bus turned the corner and continued on through the streets of Uruguay.  Never before in my life had the flag incited such a feeling of warmth and desire.  It took me spending time on what I considered foreign soil to appreciate the symbolism of our flag.  I still love and adore my time in Uruguay, and will consider it my second home for the rest of my life, but there is something that changed inside me that day, where I felt as though I was far from home, but I was proud to be an American.

The past few years we have celebrated the 4th with a cannon firing and time with family and friends.  A parade of children waving flags, a prayer, and much food is to be enjoyed.  It has become a favorite holiday for many, me included.  The laughter, the games, and the sparklers to be handed out at dusk have become as traditional as the holiday itself.

Growing up, I did enjoy the fiery festivities that came about with each 4th of July.  While I was taught from an early age to respect the flag, honor and support those who fought for our freedom, it never touched as close to home as it did last year.  This month marks the anniversary of a fallen soldier in our family.  I saw sheer, raw emotion last year as I watched men, surrounding the hearse, standing watch, each with a flag, protecting the fallen soldier while those inside the building paid their respects.  I was acutely aware of the sacrifice given, and the respect of those who stood, lined along our route to the cemetery, holding flags, heads bowed in deference to the one who was gone.  I will never again here the song Taps played when I will not think of my freedom and its great cost.

This year, our observance was reverent, and we spent the day at church, worshipping, exercising the right to worship the God we chose, in the place we chose, and how we intended.  We avoided the flashy displays of fireworks, and brass bands.  It was a most spiritual time of reflection and solitude.  I am humbled to live where I can worship, celebrate, and honor those I wish.  Oh, we will still have the flashy display of patriotism later in the month as we visit with family and friends on the holiday our state has set aside to remember those who founded it.  The cannon will still be fired by Grandpa, who will deliver a discourse on the history of those who have served and lost lives, and flags will be waved by little ones, eager to participate.  We will gorge ourselves on beef brisket and at dusk, the sparklers will be handed out.

As the years pass, I’m sure we will be lulled back into the festive nature of our Independence Day observances.  For now, I’m glad to have the quiet time to really reflect on my freedom and the sacrifice paid by so many.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yeah, like that is going to work!

So, the picture says it all.  After visiting with my doctor last week, I have been instructed to cut almost all carbohydrates out of my diet.  She wants me focusing on lean meats and veggies.  Of course this is a great way to eat, if I weren't so darn addicted to bread and potatoes.  I've talked to friends and family, had wonderful advice, and it just comes down to will power.  Something I don't have an over abundance of apparently.  Otherwise I wouldn't be in this state.

Over this past week, I've wondered and pondered on my will power and those things that take me from being firmly on the path of whatever I have a desire to do, whether it is to loose pounds, write a novel, paint my living room or just clear out the dishwasher once a day.  It is so simple to just tell myself to "do it", but it doesn't always happen.  The soft couch gets in the way of heading out to the gym, the computer brings distractions, always in the way of my writing, and complacency for the status quo.  What will it take to make me change myself and go in the direction I need to move?

Here is the catalyst I've looked for in my quest to loose weight, my doctor telling me to do this.  All of sudden, I'm not longer complacent and change must be endured for me to be comfortable again.  Being a creature of habit, and not a lover of huge change, this in itself is a difficulty.  I'm not great at making these types of changes that cause discomfort and pain.  Let's be honest.  It's hard work, and I'm all for the simple say of doing things.  Isn't there just a pill I can take or magic wand in the back closet? No?  Crap.

So, carbs.  They are my comfort foods.  Those that I turn to when I'm moody, sad, happy, and just need a little pick me up.  According to the doctor, they are doing more harm than good when it comes to my body.  So for a moment of peace and enjoyment, the lasting effects on my thighs and heart aren't worth it.  It is a change that I'm not sure about quite yet.  I'm leaving a zone of extreme comfort.  I cook with carbs, I eat carbs, and enjoy it emensely.  I was taught the importance of the food pyramid where carbs played a large role.  I have to change my entire outlook on eating and living.

Of course, I can also relate this to my writing, or lack there of.  I've spent months talking about writing, dreaming about writing, writing about writing, but haven't felt the change I desire when it comes to the actual act of writing.  What am I scared of.  I use time as my deterrent, but if I really wanted to make the change to create something I dream of, I would just do it, right?  Again, self-discipline and my lack there of.  I get sucked into everything else, all the while my mind whirling with dialogue that doesn't make it to paper, or scenes that are forgotten like last night's dream, fading into wisps of unconsciousness.

The only thoughts I can come up with are: one moment at a time.  While I wean myself off chocolate cake, and homemade bread, and learn to love vegetables that weren't always my favorite, I will count each moment a victory.  Now if I could only do the same with the paint in my living room.

Thanks to Google for the image.
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