Saturday, February 23, 2013


For a species that has been communicating for as long as it has existed, you would think that we would have the whole idea of relationships figured out. After all, you would think that communication through using something as simple as words, expressions, gestures, and actions should be second nature by now. But a mere glimpse outside the window, or a look across our own living rooms may show that it isn't. Practice does not always make perfect. For all the eons that we have been talking and doing and acting-out in order to communicate, the world is still full of families, couples, friends, and even strangers, trying to figure it out.

Yes, for the most part, I like to think that we all get along. And for the most part, we do. But I also know that finding the right thing to say, or do, or show doesn't always come easy. Relationships do become strained. And for some, as easily as they begin, relationships can end.

In even the best relationships, the ones so well-intended, and even the ones that are joined by blood and birth, somehow what we mean to say or do simply isn't always enough. Sometimes, as much as we would like to take our well-intentioned words like, I love you, or You are amazing, or Don't let what they say bother you, or I know you can do this, if you only try, or Don't give up, not now, not ever -- words like this -- as much as we would like to take the words we are speaking and hold them in our hands and wrap them around the other person's heart and mind and make them stick there with steadfast glue so that the other person will not only believe what we are saying, but will act on it as well, we can't. No matter how hard we try, we can't always make the other person believe what we say. Mainly because there is this whole other person on the receiving end that is wrapped up in their own history of personal experiences -- what some call baggage -- that anchors them in place, keeping them from moving freely in the present, or even walking without a limp into the future.

Unfortunately, this baggage, whether we realize it or not, stands between us in all of our relationships. It shadows and distorts and rearranges the words we hear -- words that are spoken from the heart -- so they can't be fully realized and understood, unless we are in our own moment of clarity. Moments where we have knowingly left the baggage at the door. Only in these moments, where we have consciously welcomed an idea of trust that is both unconditional and whole-heartedly felt, can we truly listen and receive words like, Yes, I really like who you are, or Yes, you make me happy.

Have we ever known this kind of trust? I believe so.

I believe we are born with it. We are filled with trust in the moment we first open our eyes and when our first breath is quickly followed by another. In the moment we are born we learn that upheavel can be followed by serenity as soon as we are placed in the arms of our parents. In that moment we feel and begin to believe we are safe, and we immediately trust that these loving parents whom we don't even know, will meet our needs for living. In that moment, trust is all we hold.

However, maybe the trust we gain when we are born is immediately coupled with the potential for its loss. We do, after all, have a will to survive. It is inherently part of the fight-or-flight-mechanism that most species possess. As we grow and become increasingly indepedent in learning to survive on our own, we begin to realize that not everyone can be trusted. We start to lose faith in the intentions of those around us. And this loss of faith and trust exists in every relationship and interaction.

Is it a paradox that in living and surviving, a loss of trust is coupled with the need for it, as well? Is this why it is so often said that trust is paramount to all healthy relationships? That if you believe in trust, the rest will follow?

Perhaps this why when our words are not being heard, or when we, ourselves, are choosing not to listen, we need to pause, step back and see where the baggage lies, and if trust was left at the door.

Words. Communication. Trust. Can you have any one of these without the other?
What do you think?
These are, after all, just words typed on a page, one after the other. Words, words, and more words, begging for trust and perhaps some interaction.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Conference

My co-author and I for The Book Lover's Cookbook are speaking at the Life, The Universe, And Everything conference in Provo tomorrow. Here is the intro video for our panel, A Feast of Fiction. Can't go wrong with Food and Books! Cheers to inspiration!

If nothing else, it features one of my favorite songs, True Green, sung by Annie Rapid.

Clicking on this link to get to the video site might be the best way to view. For quicker download, I gave the smaller version. (smaller screen). if that makes any sense or holds any validity, I have no idea at all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can Skype Connect Students with Authors?

Kids love meeting authors, no doubt about it. And authors love to meet the young readers who enjoy their books. After all, making connections are at the heart of writing and reading-- both emotionally and intellectually within ourselves through personal growth, and socially with others through discussion and sharing. But after attending a recent librarians' meeting as a guest presenter, it became apparent that with today's realities of shrinking budgets, schools are finding it more and more difficult to bring in authors to meet and workshop with students. (See the article about that meeting here.)

However, I also know from experience that technologies like Skype may be an emerging bridge to help keep students and authors connected in the classroom, where authors can serve as exciting mentors for language arts curriculum. What's even better is that for schools that already have internet access, video-chat via computer-to-computer through Skype is a free service. Even better, it's easy to use.

When I skyped with second and third grade classes in NH, neither one of us strayed far from our home bases. The students gathered in their own classroom, and I sat down at my computer in UT. This was a first time experience for both the hosting teacher and myself, and we both managed to pull it off without a hitch. What's more, the students LOVED it!

This is the first post on a series I'll be writing for authors and teachers that would like to connect in the classroom, or parents who would like to help facilitate the process. Today, I'll give a list of the tools and preparation that is needed from the hosting teacher. Get ready to write the following list down,... or not! You may be amazed at how simple it is to get an author visit going. Plus, your school or classroom probably already has all the tools you need.

1. Internet access

2. A computer or laptop

3. A webcam or document camera. (Most current laptops and monitors have webcam hardware as standard accessories.) Otherwise, you can plug a separate webcam into your computer via USB. Or you can use a document camera which some teachers use to project papers they are teaching from at their desk onto a white board or large screen. Use of the webcam/document camera will allow your visiting author to see your students in the classroom during the chat. In fact, both author and students will be able to see each other and interact in real-time.

2. A skype account which you create on your own for free at, preferably from the computer you will be using. This will entail coming up with a user name that an author or another classroom will use to "call" you when it is time to connect via your computers. Make sure you exchange user names with each other prior to the visit so that you can each go into your Skype account and add the other's user name as a contact prior to the visit.

3. A digital projector that will project the classroom computer screen onto a larger screen that all the students will be able to view.

4. Sound/Speakers.

That's it!

And of course a copy or two of the books that the author has written. It will help your students get more out of the visit if they are familiar with the stories that your guest has written.

Stay tuned for Part 2. What Will Happen During My Skype Visit in the Classroom?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Music for Sunday

Keiyana Osmond is an Emerging award-winning singer/songwriter from northern Utah.

"Dancin on a Wire."  Enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fixing Up Fridays

Slip into the weekend with 3 suggestions for some good food, a good book, and a good beverage.

The Food

After living for nearly a month in a gloomy gray bubble, I decided to add color to my life by starting with the food on my plate. What's great is I kept it simple. All I used was:

1) a bright green spinach mix bought from the store,
2) baked pink salmon (in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes covered in foil and flavored with lemon pepper seasoning), and
3) purple potatoes (boiled for 25 minutes, then skins removed). Pretty, Simple and Delish!

The Book

I in the midst of reading "Wishful Thinking" by Shel Delisle, an independent author. So far, so good! It's turning out to be a cute YA.

The Beverage

Treat yourself to this pick-me-up spritzer after a long week of hard work.

I first posted this recipe in an interview with the Cabin Goddess. As long as you don't take it too seriously, I give you permission to stray there... >>> Cabin Goddess Interview

Orangeberry Cut-Out-the-Slush Drink

This is a modified version of party slush drinks—the kind you find when you attend parties put on by hostesses who really love their guests and really love to entertain them and make them feel tippy-toe wonderful. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s cut down to preparation of a single serving at a time, so that you can make yourself feel tippy-toe wonderful whenever you feel like it. Just re-lid the juice cans, stick them in a plastic bag, and they’ll be ready for use whenever you need them! Promise! 

One hefty tumbler, crystal preferred
Ice, chunky or cubed
1 frozen can of orange-pineapple juice concentrate
1 frozen can of lemonade concentrate
12 oz bottle of 7-Up
1 orange, brightest one you can find, sliced thick
1 jar maraschino cherries (optional)

Put 1 teaspoon of the lemonade concentrate and 2 teaspoons of the orange-pineapple concentrate in the crystal glass. Fill the glass 1/3 of the way with 7-Up. Stir the concentrate to dissolve. (The 7-Up will fizz up when you stir, so don’t say I didn’t warn you about the 1/3 fill-level). Add lots of ice, because it’ll look prettier that way when you’re done. Add your cherries (as much as you prefer) and your orange slice, and give a commemorative nod to kissing your week goodbye! Then top off the glass with more 7-Up, and you are ready to take your drink wherever you would like! (Anything else you might want to add to this beverage is up to you.)