So I just realized I haven’t updated the blog for a week. Shame on me! I am sure all of you my loyal blog readers have been sitting at home wondering when I was going to unleash my creativity and wisdom on you again… (LOL. Wouldn’t that be the life!). I have actually at down several times to write but couldn’t come up with anything to say. I guess you might say I had writers block.
If you ever have any topics you would like me to research, opine on, please suggest! I suppose when you’ve been blogging for 5 years it isn’t much of a surprise you eventually run out of topics at the ready beckon call. Need help from all of you!
Of course we had the horrible tragedy in Oklahoma with the tornado this week. I was shocked by the photos and video. Naturally I thought of my friend Jani who was my roommate in 2000 and has lived in Oklahoma for the last 10 years. I saw her last year after a long loss of contact (just lost emails). I emailed her on Tuesday to see if she was ok and she sent me the following response:
Can you believe this:
“The greatest need is prayers right now. I’ve heard of some members homes being heavily damaged and some others haven’t been able to get to their homes yet. Most don’t have electricity, and water is low pressure or not on yet. At the stake center, a few blocks north of the area, they are collecting water and boxes so people can collect things from the rubble. Our home is ok and we have water turned on again but we can’t drink it. We’ve had a few friends stay and just sleep or use the internet or electricity to charge stuff. There is a constant sound of helicopters and sirens–its a constant reminder of the critical situation out there. I’m sure once the neighborhoods are opened up there will be a great need for volunteers to clean up. It’s going to take a while. I haven’t heard of any fatalities in the ward or stake but there are complete losses of property. I will get in touch with our rs president again and let you know if there is anything they need. She’s been busy, as you can imagine. It’s sad to see much of our community just gone. We love Moore and the people of Oklahoma!”
Please keep them in your prayers and find little ways to help. I was really hoping for a way and then out of the blue the Red Cross called me yesterday to individually ask me to donate blood on Friday. This was kind of amazing because I haven’t given blood in probably three years so I’m shocked they had my number. My veins are so small and wiggly that I have hesitated in the past (last time I donated I was battled and bruised). Anyway, I am O- and they said they particularly needed that so I am happy to give it a go and try to help. I felt like it was a blessing to find a way to help those in need instead of just watching the news. Cross fingers I can actually donate and my veins will cooperate.
On other news we had my spring recital today. It was a great time and my Dad was in town and came to see me. I didn’t get a video this time but here is a recording I made of singing the song just a few minutes ago.
I sang Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan as sung by Adele (no small order!). I’m not saying I could make American Idol but I don’t think you would be running for the hills, covering your ears. I was able to get the character of the song which made me happy. (I wish I had a recording just so you can see that).
Regardless of how it turns out the whole experience of recitals and voice lessons is so positive. It makes me feel like I am progressing, learning, and contributing something beautiful to the world. I work in accounting, which I am grateful for but not exactly the most creative thing. It feels so good to get out there, work on a song from ilk to all right, and hear the positive feedback (btw, if you hate it, keep it to yourself!)
Other Random Things-
Comcast has been making me crazy (also part of the reason I haven’t been posting this week, been on the phone with Comcast or having weak to no internet). After 4 hours today I think we finally figured it out. Prayers! At least I have the phone number of the technician so no more call center nightmares and drives up to Lindon to get new equipment (went through 5 modems before we figured out the gateway channel was full presumably with others from my building). Sigh
Working on getting ready for GSL swim in just a few weeks. I don’t feel nearly ready but I’m going to give it a go. Did a 1200 in a long course pool on Saturday, so that felt good. This taking it slow thing is sort of nerve-wracking and I’m trying to not get nervous. I keep telling myself if I fail, so what. My friends love me. That said, I don’t think I will fail.
Learned a big lesson at the house Monday. My roommate had her car in the street and I hadn’t read an email from the HOA about towing cars on the street starting Monday. You can guess the ending of the story. Her car got towed and it cost us $264.50! Isn’t that nuts? Double sigh…
As a proud tea party conservative I am horrified at the IRS targeting of tea party groups. I attended many rallies in perhaps the most conservative area of the country, Provo, Utah and never felt anything but peaceful, love of country. Practically the only thing discussed was cutting spending. Honestly you didn’t hear at the tea party about pro-life, 2nd Amendment or other conservative hot buttons. It was without a doubt the most patriotic and positive experience I’ve had as an American and the fact that these people have been targeted makes me nuts. It is wrong and it will not blow over and be forgotten if I have any say in the matter.
So, turns out I had a lot to talk about. Maybe I should always wait a week.
Hope you are all doing well. How’s life treating you?
This is a post has been stewing inside of me for some time. How to give a talk in church (or any other public forum for that matter)…
Sometimes I feel in the Mormon church we are great at inspiring but not so great at the nuts and bolts of how to implement that inspiration. For example, we teach young single adults that dating, courtship and marriage are important, but how often do we talk about etiquette on a date or what practical things we can do to prepare for a family? Not much.
Public speaking is another example. How is it possible in all my years of speaking in the church I have never been to one activity or lesson on the mechanics of good public speaking? One would think there would at least be a mutual activity or enrichment lesson? Maybe there is an assumption that everyone already knows how to do this and it is easy? We are, after all, forced to speak publicly from primary on…
However, repetition in public speakings is helpful but couldn’t we be merely repeating the same bad things, reinforcing the same distracting tendencies?
To be clear, if I don’t get anything from sacrament meeting the fault is mine not the speaker. I am responsible for my own spirituality but a good talk certainly can make my job easier.
In giving this advice let me further clarify that while public speaking is a strength of mine, I by no means have it all figured out; however, to the best of my ability I have came up with some tips to use the next time you are asked to give a talk:
1. Decide on 3 important points that you want to make. This helps you plan for little time or elaborate if given a lot of time. You can always just bare your testimony on the 3 points and sit down or you can do your full prepared talk, and perhaps have a few ‘if time’ stories on hand to include if needed.
2. Write out your talk- I know some will disagree with me on this but I do not believe the outline format suits the unseasoned speaker. Write out your talk and include the quotes and scriptures so you don’t have to be flipping around to find things.
3. Be weary of bad introductions “The bishop assigned me this talk 2 weeks ago…” “I am going to speak on testimony”, “Have you heard the joke about the bishop, a chicken and the RS Pres” All such introductions are deadly.
4. Do not ‘couple brag’. A brief introduction may be appropriate for new couples but we don’t all need to hear about your wives fantastic cakes or how great your dog is. Get to the doctrine.
5. Practice giving your talk. Stand in front of the mirror and give it trying to look up every 30 seconds or so to make it feel more natural.
6. Follow the rule of 1/3rds:
a. 1/3rd of your talk should be statements of doctrine. This includes quotes, scriptures and other resources. For example, a talk on tithing may include Malachi 3:10
b. 1/3rd of your talk should be explanation of doctrine and how it applies to our lives. So, you’ve stated a scripture on tithing, now you are going to explain in your own words what the scripture and tithing mean to you.
c. 1/3rd of your talk should be personalizing the doctrine to your life. Tell us a story on an experience with tithing from your life or ask your friends for their experience, do a poll on fb or twitter, find a story in the ensign that touches you or a scripture story you’ve always loved. You’d be surprised how far you can get by ‘This scripture has always been special to me because….”
d. These 3 are all equally important. If you just have data (scriptures, quotes) it will feel dry, just explanation it can drag and introduce false doctrines by accident, being too personal can be awkward or distracting. All 3 must be there for a great talk (think about Elder Hollands or Pres Monson’s talks and you will see they follow this rule of thumb in general.
7. For the most part, do not throw away your talk at the last minute and ‘speak by the spirit’. Sometimes that is needed but most of the time I think it is Satan’s way of having congregations full of unprepared speakers.
8. Do not worry about offending people or making your talk apply to everyone. While we shouldn’t be rude, I’ve heard speakers go a little overboard in the ‘we want to keep the single mothers happy’ in talks about the family. The thoughtfulness is good but I think most people are comfortable with a little bit of doctrine on Sunday not applying to their situation. Also, it can make a person feel more ostracized when their ‘special circumstance is made a big to do of’. It is typically better to find a core in the doctrine that most anyone can relate to and mention that in the course of the talk.
9. Try to prepare your talk in advance with prayer and study.
10. Stick to the scriptures, Ensign and other church meetings. Do not quote general authorities from personal conversations or fuzzy sources online. There are quotes that have been attributed to multiple general authorities over the years, oftentimes stating incorrect doctrine.
11. Finally don’t apologize for your life or talk. I used to apologize when I’d tell stories of my mission, and I suppose those can be a bit over the top, but in general, just share and if its a good story people won’t care if its a mission story or whatever.
12. If you say “I know the church is true” give a little bit more information to help new members understand. “I know the church is true because I have prayed about it and gotten a witness in my heart” That is so much more powerful and easier to relate to.
13. Finally leave your congregation with a challenge. Something they can do like make a list of friends they haven’t spoken with, or a person they can forgive. President Hinckley was the best at this. Practically every conference talk he gave would end with some variation of ‘we can all do better. Let’s go and do it!”
14. My last advice is to remember when you are quick to criticize someone’s talk, remember they aren’t being paid to do this. It is out of the generosity of their heart and love of the gospel that gets them up there. That alone deserves some respect.
Always remember public speaking is scary! Some fear it more than death:
(The Church has published their 10 tips for giving a talk in church. Pretty good! https://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/12/random-sampler?lang=eng
Dr. Randy Bott giving his 4 parts to writing a talk. This is brilliant http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2409
Very exciting! Today I had a new addition to my house installed.
My guest room/office was causing me problems because of the small closet and the lack of other convenient storage. Having done such a great job with my other closets, I called Classy Closets and they had lots of great ideas. We eventually decided to put shelves in the closet for the file folder boxes and shelving outside the closet with a closet rod for guests to use. It is fabulous!
What do you think? I’m excited!
Quick post. I promise I will update on day 2 of the amazing LDS Storymakers Writing Conference but I got the notice that today makes 5 years as a WordPress blogger. 5 years!
In that time I have written 608 posts in 63 categories and 2,057 comments (wished more ), 260,547 views, most popular categories are health, happiness, arts and entertainment and family. My strabismus posts, movie reviews and general health posts have been the most popular.
My first post was written on May 12, 2008 was entitled The Freedom of Joblessness.
In the post I spoke about how not having a career and being unemployed felt quite liberating. For once I had no answer to the question ‘What do you do?’ I had been so unhappy in my job that the removing the ‘DO’ had been one of the most empowering experiences of my life. My thoughts at the time were ““I would rather be doing nothing than doing something I hate”.
Its true. I would rather be doing nothing than something I hate.
I then add:
“In the meantime I am enjoying my life and looking forward to the next adventure.”
That’s the great thing about blogging is it gives a platform to process all the madness of life. It allows me to tell my story! How powerful is that! Now the documentation of the human experience does not have to be limited to the memoir and biographer. I have tried my best to tell my story as honestly as I can and I’ve learned that people are amazingly supportive and good-hearted.
Some of my personal favorite entries over the years have been
There are so many. My most controversial one was probably on teens and reading.
I know that is a barrage of links but checks some of them out. Remember writing is new if it new to you.
From the beginning of putting pen to paper I knew if I was going to engage in a public journal, it would have to be just that. The real me, no fog, no illusions. I have shared with you my pains, anxieties, discouragements but also the successes, loves, and moments of glee. I am confident a man could come to know the real me from simply reading words. Isn’t that what great writing should do anyway?
On one of my first posts I spoke about happiness:
“It is such an empowering thing to know that we have a say in our happiness. We are not just lifeless blobs that respond to stimuli. We can decide to follow the Lord, sacrificing our egos and desires; thereby, creating happiness both currently as we serve and in the eternities. It reminds me of a quote I have from President Kimball (I had it on my wall when I had a wall!)
“Happiness does not come by pressing a button, as does the electric light; happiness is a state of mind and comes from within. It must be earned. It cannot be purchased with money; it cannot be taken for nothing”
Happiness is a state of mind and for 5 years I’ve had a state of mind of the Smilingldsgirl. Yes, it has been tough but I’ve always known that smile was inside me. I never lost hope and my confidence in my Heavenly Father. God knows my heart and loves me. I started this blog at a time of great hope and new beginnings. All I knew is I had escaped a black cloud and felt set free. Since then I have always carried that freedom in my pocket as a reminder to never go back there again. Never allow myself to experience sustained misery again.
The blog has been a big key in ensuring the success of my journey. Again, it has allowed me to share MY unique story with all of you, my faithful readers. I am so grateful.
FAITH is power, LOYALTY is essential, LOVE is pure, and HAPPINESS goes a long way towards HOPE
If you haven’t gathered I really love my blog. Thank you all for reading. Have there been any posts you enjoyed? Please post in comments section! Sure love ya!
PS in the words of Nora Ephron- “I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.”
So each week I have to send out an email to the sisters in my ward updating them on the events of the week and leave them with a spiritual thought to encourage them throughout the week. Usually I try to get this out on Wednesday but we had an activity Thursday and I had the writing conference yesterday so I hadn’t gotten it out and it was Saturday. (They are used to me being late on this. Sigh…)
Now many of you read my recent post on Mothers Day and how the day challenges me. http://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/05/06/why-mothers-day-is-hard/ .
With those thoughts still swimming in my mind, I was tasked with saying something inspiring to women on Mothers Day. This was quite the dilemma. I hope you have all gotten the impression from this blog that I am not a disingenuous person and I am not about to put pen to paper on anything that is false or preaching doctrine I don’t believe or struggle with.
If I’ve learned anything in my life it is that honesty is the only thing that matters and the sharing of true experience is always more impactful than the privatizing of who we are and what life has taught us. Sharing my heart with all of you through this blog and my friendships is my gift to the world.
Giving our heart is the only thing we really have to give.
So what should I write? What will be an authentic expression of my views of Mothers Day and mothering while also being helpful to others? How can I write what I feel? Interesting question for a girl at a writing conference…
Here’s what I came up with. I’m immensely proud of it. I rarely can think of a moment when I have as effectively put my heart on the page:
“So Sunday is Mothers Day. Please come and help us celebrate womanhood. To be frank, sometimes Mothers Day can be a bit of a downer. I’m not only unmarried but I’ve struggled to relate to the often ‘ooey goey’ version of womanhood that seems to be presented as the ideal at church particularly on Mothers Day.
I know I am not alone in feeling this way. In fact, this week we were talking as a presidency about how pretty much everyone we know walks away from Mothers Day feeling inadequate, guilty or at least frustrated. There are women in my life who refuse to attend church on Sunday because they are so wracked with guilt over their own perceived failures as women in Christ.
How can we fix this problem? I know Heavenly Father wants His daughters to be happy but does he accept our efforts when the standard seems to be so high and our output less than we wish it was? Here’s something to think about:
“See that ye look to God and live.” The ultimate source of empowerment and lasting acceptance is our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They know us. They love us. They do not accept us because of our title or position (or I’d add marital, familial status). They do not look at our status. They look into our hearts. They accept us for who we are and what we are striving to become. Seeking and receiving acceptance from Them will always lift and encourage us.” (Elder Erich W. Kopischke April 2013 Conf, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/2013/04/being-accepted-of-the-lord?lang=eng)
So, tomorrow on Mothers Day let’s try to remember that the Lord accepts us for the women we are striving to become. He knows our hearts. He loves us. We are His daughters. Perhaps we can turn Mothers Day into a day of sharing and fulfillment instead of lost expectations and thwarted dreams? I’m going to try and I hope you will all join me.”
So how did I do? Thoughts?
So it is late and my last post got erased so I will be brief. I went to the first session of the LDS Storymakers Conference today and it was fabulous! First of all, I got the day off work (pretty much the best thing ever…). Then I was able to attend lectures all day on writing (and pretty much when you are discussing writing, you are discussing life).
The day started out with a lecture on pacing in writing, then my favorite was on romantic literature, then we had lunch and I was able to meet up with my Aunt Chris and Cousin Elizabeth King.
They are both avid writers and have written multiple books over the years. The amount of material Elizabeth generates is amazing. She completed Nanowrimo while taking a full load at BYU. Impressive. It was a fun treat to spend time with family and nice to know someone at the conference.
Next I went to a lecture on grammar, revision and proofreading. It was a little dry but included a lot of good material. Next up was a lecture on writing memoirs which I found interesting as I recently have been poking at a true memoir version of the events I have penned in my novel.
My notes on the lectures can be found here:
Lecture notes on writing romance In that lecture I loved the quote ““Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others and the delight in that recognition” Alexander Smith
At 4 we had the treat of hearing from the keynote speaker novelist Anne Perry and I loved her words. She spoke about how are greatest gift we can give the future is by writing the stories in our hearts. I loved it. One of my favorite quotes of the day was when Perry said:
‘Each of us leads one life but if we read well we can empathize with many stories’. What is reading well? Ponder on that a sec. I believe it is not settling for mediocrity in life or in reading. I have argued tooth and nail with people that feel ‘any reading is good reading’ and I don’t agree. There is reading well and reading’. I believe it is the responsibility of all adults to encourage ‘reading well’ to our students and friends. Do not just be satisfied with the bare bones. Clearly to Anne Perry it is too important. In fact, reading and writing are what distinguish man from the animals.
Finally we went to a mass book signing and I bought a bunch of cool new books (figured I had to if I was going to a writing conference)
Seems like a pretty good day to me! I’m looking forward to tomorrow! Happy writing
Now I am exhausted and off to bed! More fun to come tomorrow. I feel inspired to work more diligently on my book.
Here is a guest post written by my husband... enjoy!
Legitimate authority can exist whether or not one has the power to exercise it. However, such authority must be accompanied by power if it is to have any teeth to it, otherwise it is impotent and useless. Where there is no power, authority will appear non-existent to those subject to authority (imagine the towering teenage son who refuses to acknowledge the authority of his single mother).