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Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

This has been a crazy year for me, lots has happened, but you wouldn't know it reading my blog :-) Still, I do like to check in here and I do have things to say--just not a lot of time to say it. I published three books this year and wrote three more, by far this is the most intense 'writing' year I have ever had. I presented at numerous conferences, attended my first out-of-state conference, and had a couple of trips to Southern Utah. Lots of work to be done, lots of great opportunities, lots of fabulous people I got to meet and talk to.

And amid it all, I had some goals I set this time last year. So, here is my report on how I did, how I feel about it, and what I plan to do this year.

Report on 2012:

1--Run a 1/2 marathon in 2:10--Smoked it! I ended up running 2 half marathons under 2:10, with my fastest time being 2:03.

How do I feel about that?

I am beyond thrilled by the accomplishment of this goal, it is the result of hundreds of hours and miles run and I was really glad to see it pay off. HOWEVER, I finished that last half in August and have run less than 10 miles since then. In part this was because I had two really intense deadlines I had put off, but in part I feel like I burned myself out on running. It had become such a focal point that it wasn't really fun anymore. I'm hoping this will change next year, but I'm not pushing it.

2--Sit down meal twice a week. --Nope. For the, what, fourth year in a row cooking for my family did worse than ever.

How do I feel about that?

I hate this but feel as though I have tried all kinds of things to do better and they just don't stick. I'm at a loss of knowing what to do now. I have tried calendars and schedules and meal plans and having-stuff-on-hand but with my kids schedules, my schedule, some eating considerations, and my lack of ambition I have been completely unsuccessful. I made dinner two to three times a week, and then we eat leftovers or have cereal or whatever. I don't know what to do about this.

3--Take a crochet class. --Nope. I looked into a few but the timing was bad and they were 30 minutes from home and I couldn't make it work.

How do I feel about that?

That said, I did more crochet than I have done in the past and have made a lot of dish-scrubbers out of 100% cotton yarn and taught myself a new stitch/patterns. I have a very hard time sitting still or just watching TV or whatever, so having something to do with my hands is stress-relieving for me and allows me to be still. I wish I had taken a class but I'm glad that I at least progressed.

4--Journal once a month. --Nope. I did journal seven times.


How do I feel about that?

I'm glad I did more than I'd done the year before, but frustrated that I didn't find one time every 30 days to write in my journal.  I'm a writer; I love words. I'm frustrated that I didn't complete a goal that used those gifts and abilities.

5--Attend the temple once a month. --Nope. Fail on this one too.

How do I feel about that?

Frustrated. I went five times, which is better than I did in 2011 but not even half of the goal I set. I know part of it is because there was no local temple for much of the year which meant I had to go to Logan or Bountiful. People who live farther away than I do are surely rolling your eyes--go for it--but it won't change the fact that I am used to having a temple within 20 minutes and I don't anymore and it's hard for me to make the extra time. No, that's not a good enough reason, but it's the truth. I have no good excuse for not having even attended the new Brigham Temple yet, other than time and hassle to make the phone call necessary for a session. Again, not a good enough reason, but it's an honest answer. And yet, one of those five times I attended resulted in one of the strongest answers I have ever had to a personal situation. It's not something I will ever write about in a journal, but it involved a physical reaction and a very strong impression of exactly what to do. I've never experienced anything like it, and, honestly it was a little freaky, but very, very good. I did as I was told and experienced a rush of relief and assurance that I had listened right. I'm very grateful for that experience and my goal of going once a month is part of why that happened, which I'm grateful for as well. So, in a nutshell I had a positive result from this goal and I'm glad for that.





6--Be nice.--I did better.

How do I feel about that?

Good. I think being nice is important and I made a conscious effort to do this. In the process I found myself more empathetic of others and less judgmental. Though I have a long way to go in regard to judging others, I do feel like I made progress and I'm glad for that. I found myself reminding myself over and over again that "Christ would be nice" which helped me to take a breath and calm down. 

Overall, I think I can say that I accomplished 2 of the 6 goals I set, which is discouraging to me. I believe that confidence is created by setting goals we can accomplish. I think when we do this, connections are made in our brain that make us feel strong and successful. And I did not fulfill 4 of the goals I set. I am glad to say that I improved in 3 of those 4 areas, and that is good, but they weren't ridiculously difficult goals to accomplish.

And so, 2013 . . .  what will I do with you?

My answer. Nothing. Yet. I need some time to ponder and evaluate and decide in what ways I want to become a better person. And I need to set goals I know I can accomplish. So, I guess that means I'll blog at least twice this year.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why Women Wore Pants or Purple Today

I am Mormon. I live it. I love it. I can not imagine a life without it; these are my people and I have made covenants that reflect my faith in an eternal plan of salvation and happiness. I have no desire to separate myself from my faith. My life is fully entwined with my religion. I like it this way.

That said, the gaining, and keeping, of my testimony has not been without some difficulties. There are aspects of the church (which in some regards is separate from The Gospel in my mind) that at times rear up to confront me. Most of them have to do with 'policy' (which is not to be confused with principles of doctrine.) I feel it's part of my journey here on earth to explore these things and it seems I am continually doing so. I am still faithful, I am still learning, and I am still able to put my hardest issues on a shelf and go about my Mormon-church-entwined life because the parts I believe, I believe in so strongly.

However, I have seen, up close, people like me face times where they can not see around their struggles and are suffering for it. I have stood in many a position of judgement over the course of my life toward people like this--even to the point of assuming there must be a 'sin' that is blocking their ability to believe, which is sometimes true but not always and not really any of my business--but my heart is changing and I am seeing things differently than I have before and gaining a fuller understanding of how very personal our personal journeys are. I see people leaving the church because they feel it's 'all or nothing' and they can't swallow the 'all' anymore. These are people I love, my people. Amid these people are women who have been told it's inappropriate for them to go to church without pantyhose on (three years ago), who are told the main reason for modesty is to keep men's eyes from wandering (within the last year), who have been told that their husband has the final say in serious matters taking place in their home or marriage and they need to submit to those things without question (my whole life.) None of those things are true, and yet there is a 'cultural' expectation among some members that they are and it's reflected in lessons, conversations, judgements, and 'policy.' The faith of some begins to fray after years and years of comments such as these and cause them to question why are they being told things in direct contradiction to what their heart believes--that they are a daughter of God, equal in every way to God's sons. Why is their church not telling them what God tells them?

The campaign to wear pants to church started as a way for Mormon feminists to identify each other and show their congregations that they exist and that they want what is taught in church to reflect what they feel in their hearts, they want equal consideration for non-priesthood callings, they want to be acknowledged as contributing members regardless of whether they become a wife or mother, they want to feel like an equal voice in their ward councils.

 I am not a feminist, so it wasn't until I saw the backlash against the pants-to-church idea that I began considering joining the effort, not because I personally feel the same hurt these women feel, but because I've felt different hurts and I have found such comfort in finding people I can talk to about those things and who love me anyway. Mormon feminists often feel that the only way they can be 'in' the church is to keep their opinions to themselves, that if they express their concerns they will be labeled as unfaithful, man-haters, in want of the priesthood, questioning God, or not believing in prophetic counsel. It can be hard to have to keep silent and hide your questions in a church that asks for your heart, that binds you together as saints, and assures you that every sparrow matters. These women are reaching out to be 'seen' and to be heard. They want to feel as though they belong, that their fellow Mormons want them here; that there is room in the Inn for them despite the questions they are seeking answers to.

Wearing pants isn't about 'pants' or wanting to dress like a man, it's about making a point that there are cultural expectations within out church in need of re-thinking. It's never been a commandment that women wear dresses to church (in fact Brigham Young once designed a pant-like outfit for women to wear that he felt was more practical than a dress; it was deemed 'hideous'), but we have been told to wear out 'best dress' and culturally this has become dresses. When women wear pants to church (which many do, especially outside of Utah) they are sometimes viewed as breaking some commandment (which she is not.) The point of wearing pants and breaking that gender mold today is an example that other gender-specific molds need to be looked at. As the movement gained attention, it was offered that those who were uncomfortable with the idea of wearing pants, or for men who wanted to show their support, could also wear purple, a traditional color or suffrage and solidarity. The goal of the pants and the purple is to allow the issue to be seen and, hopefully, be pondered upon.

There is historical precedence to asking for consideration of policy in regard to religion:
  • In the Old Testament women approached Moses about their right to own property. He took their concerns to the Lord who answered with a change to a 'cultural' norm.
  • Emma Smith approached her husband with concerns about smoking and chewing and both the poor manners associated with it and the low-quality habit of the actions. Joseph Smith took it to the Lord and a change was made.
  • Until the 1920's, the temple garment Mormons wear after getting their temple endowment covered from ankle to wrist. By the end of that decade, it was changed to cover the shoulder to knee. This was understood to have been changed because many voices asked why it was the way that it was. It turned out that ankle to knee was primarily due to fashion at the time the garment was introduced (50 years earlier.) With changes to the 'temporal' dress of its members, and no spiritual significance to having so much of the body covered, the garment was changed.
  • In 1978 all men, regardless of race, were giving the opportunity to hold the priesthood after the leaders of the church inquired of the Lord about it which happened AFTER church members asked why it wasn't already that way.
  • Just last week the Church created a website offering a compassionate hand to people struggling with same sex attraction. I believe this was brought about because many members of the church have questioned the hard line approach the church leaders have taken in the past.
I have to wonder what other things God is waiting for us to ask for. Is it not a reflection of the agency He has given us that we have to ponder on these issues for ourselves, then go to Him for help, and THEN get an answer? Is that not the nature of prayer we have been taught? Could this movement be the starting point for people who have not spent any time considering gender inequality to do so? Could it also be a balm for those who have felt wrapped in their concerns about gender inequality and want understanding and change?

I, personally, have not been hurt by the gender inequality I see (it is certainly there.) I have followed a very traditional role in my life and have felt very supported in those things by the church. BUT, as a sister to every other women in this church, if they are hurting, and I can see why the hurt is there, I can feel it too. As a mother of three wonderful, and very different, girls, I realize that they will have their own struggles of testimony--which may or may not be about gender inequality--and I want them to know those concerns are valid and are worth seeking answers to. I want them to know that they can have a testimony of parts of the gospel while still working toward other parts--that they don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater if there are aspects they aren't reconciled with. I want my son to be mindful of God's equal love for women and men; that because he holds the priesthood does not mean he is more loved.

So, I did not wear pants to church today--though the decision to wear purple instead was made just hours before my worship services. I was prayerful and thoughtful about the decision for days and in the end felt that to wear pants seemed to say that this issue was in my way personally, which it is not. But I did wear purple, and my husband did as well, to show our support of their feelings and to encourage understanding of this issue. I only had one person ask me about it, and she seemed disappointed that I would support this effort but had also heard that this was brought up by a group who wanted a woman prophet. I explained as best I could that it was not about that; I'm not sure she was open to my answers. My husband had one man ask him if his purple tie was for the effort, when Lee said that it was, the man laughed and nudged the man next to him, saying Lee was a feminist. No women in my ward wore pants and though some were in purple, I don't know if there was purpose to it.

I realize that some people are offended by members choosing a time of worship to 'protest' anything. I don't see this as a protest, and the reason for choosing Sunday service for this event is because that's when we're all together; that's when this would be noticed. I hope that those upset about this effort reach out to find some comfort for their hurts, that they--like the Mormon feminists who are searching--can also find their answers. I hope that the time and the way that this was chosen to be 'seen' doesn't stand in the way of all members of the church aware of the effort to look deeply enough into this issue to see it for what it is, to at least consider the concerns being presented.

I hope the answers all of us find will be ones of peace, and hope, and love.

My church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Christ stands at the head. It's focus is on eternal salvation, which is, in a nutshell, the chance to maintain the same bonds in heaven as we have on earth. Each and every member of this church is on their own journey (as is everyone in the world.) Each and every member of this church will face trails of faith. Each and every member of this church will have to make choices in regard to how they move forward, how they worship, how they love, how they give, how they serve.

Should the day come that my difficulties rise up to the point where I feel unwelcome; where I feel like these women feel, I hope, hope, hope that people will embrace me anyway, not shame me for my feelings or tell me to get over it, but remind me that I'm a daughter of God, that he wants me to find the answers I am in need of, that I'm on a journey, and that my doubts don't make me less worthy of their support and love. I believe God wants us to explore our doubts and learn from them.

So, to the Mormon Feminists out there who were hoping to be seen, who started something small and watched it explode into ugliness:
I see you.
We see you.
We need and want and love you.
There is room here for everyone.

For more information on this issue, here are some links:

Joanna Brooks: Religion Dispatches

Washington Post Blog

Monday, September 17, 2012

Winners of the FREE BOOKS Contest!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who participated in the contest, it went so smoothly and I so appreciate everyone's participation in the contest. I gathered up the votes this morning, gave each entry it's own number value and then ran the random number generator on www.random.org. We had 11 books in the contest. And the winners are:

From my mailing list:

chipsandsalsa12
glo_owens
suesue26
nikki.erin.hansen
bjlyman
magnolias_1
edijag123
strawberry.cullen

Live Event:

Kellie Buckner

Blog Comments:

Kristen--hosts "Always With a Book" left a winning comment on "Tanya Parker Mills"

Facebook Comment:

Alisha R.

I have contacted these winners but want to thank everyone for participating! I appreciate it so much.

If you didn't win, but would like to purchase a copy of Tres Leches Cupcakes--please go HERE for a list of places you can find the book.

Josi

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top of Utah Half Marathon 2012

As I look over my last 12 months of posts, the only thing I've consistently posted about are my half marathons. But why mess up a good thing? I like having a record of my runs and this is where that record is kept.

In July I ran the Hobbler half. A very nice run I was not ready for, but I was okay with that and got to run with my wonderful sister, Crystal. During that run she told me about a freind of hers who trained for a marathon by running intervals 5 days a week and then her long run. This freind got her best time ever. SOLD. By the time we finished that run I was committed to that plan for a few reasons 1) I have kind of hated running these last few months.  2) Because of my hating running, I loved the idea of doing less of it. Intervals take about 30 minutes a day. 30 minutes vs. 1 hour? Not rocket science.

So, this is what I did--three or four days a week I did the Body for Life cardio interval run which consists of 3 minutes of walking warm up. Then running one minute at your '6' (on a scale of one to ten, what pace is a 6 for you? Not MPH) then one minute at a 7, one at 8, and one at 9, then back to 6. You do this set of 6,7,8,9 four times and on the fourth set you add an additional minute at your '10'. then you do 3 minutes of cool down. The whole thing, start to finish, takes 23 minutes and it's brutal, but it's over with quicker than an episode of Spongebob. I usually add a couple minutes of walking to either side, but still, it's 30 minutes, it's indoors (for me, you can do it outdoors too), and I got to do it at the same time my husband did his exercise which was fun.

Then, on Friday or Saturday (usually) I would do a long run. Most of the long runs were with my friend Cory Web, and that was awesome. We would meet at a trail half way between our homes and run and talk and run and talk. I looked forward to those runs because she was there, and that made it possible for me. I was able to work some long runs with other partners here and there as well and I did a couple by myself, which were only tolorable because I only did them a couple of times.

My longest long run was 10 miles two weeks before the race. I meant to run 12 the next week but didn't make it work so the Tuesday before the race I ran 9--this is not recommended, to do a long run the week of the race, but I didn't feel I had a choice. I by no means pushed it in my training--not for speed, not for distance, not for terrain--I just did what felt like the minimum amount I could do and still expect a decent result.

Then came race day, the ultimate test. Lee and I went to Logan the night before and had dinner and went to a movie--I'm loving this new tradition of ours, makes the races even more fun. I got my packet nice and easy and while I love the design of the shirt, it's black. I hate running in the heat so there was no way I will ever wear that shirt in the sun. I took two 3mg Melatonin to help me sleep, but they didn't help too much, I was tossing and turning most of the night. The next morning I was up at 4:15 and waiting for the shuttle from the hotel by 4:35. The Shuttle was almost 30 minutes late, which was annoying but it gave me time to drink a bunch of water and eat my PB & J sandwich I'd brought from home.

I took the shuttle to the main pick up, hooked up with my friend Holly, and got in line for the buses. I took half of my 5 hour energy and saved the other half for later. It was really cold and while I was uncomfortable until the race started, I was encouraged by the idea that it woudln't get as hot as last year, which was 87 degrees by 8:00 in the morning. Holly is much faster than I am so she took off soon after the race started and I hung back a little bit, started up my iPod and jumped in about half way through the pack. I really hate running with the pack and will probably wait for the end in the future. It's annoying to be dodging people for the first six miles, until things thined out.

I made great time down the canyon, 8:50/miles and pulled out my 5 hour energy at mile 7, waiting for a water stop so I could wash it down. No water stop until mile 9 (where the course also starts going uphill), then I spilled half of it when I grabbed my cup. I was feeling it by then and ticked that I'd forgotten the spacing of the stops. I did this exact thing last year and really hope I remember to take it next year at mile 6. Anyway, by mile ten my pace was down to 10:10/mile. I'd been watching my Garmin at each mile and for awhile had entertained the idea that I could come in under 2 hours, but by Mile 11 I had given up that dream. I was hoping now to simply beat my PR (Personal Record) and come in before 2:07. I was able to keep my feet moving and crossed the finish line with 2:02:56.

Could. Not. Be. Happier. Not only am I thrilled with my time, but TOU was a really miserable race for me last year and so conquering it was awesome. Knowing that my interval training method worked was also awesome. Having Holly at the finish waiting for me was another awesome tidbit. She, BTW, did awesome and took 1st place in her age category! Inspiring.

Despite how well it went, however, I'm not doing another 1/2 until January at the earliest. I am frustrated with my weight right now, which continues to creep up on me, and am looking to impliment a different work out plan for a little while in hopes of building some muscle and increasing my metabolism. Running, for all the good it does, seems to make me hold on to the weight and it makes me very hungry so I'm going to try something else and then see what the new years holds.

BUT, this run also helped me check off another of my yearly goals--run 3 half marathons. I am very happy about that and feel good about changing things up a little bit.

All in all, a very good run. Now, on to the next adventure.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tres Leches Cupcakes Contest!

A new book and a new contest!
This contest is to win copies of my books--any book in the series, including Tres Leches Cupcakes—pronounced trays lay-chays—which will be released the first week of September 2012. The contest starts with 3 copies up for grabs, but I will add more book-prizes for every 50 entries into the contest, keeping the odds good regardless of how many people participate. The more entries, the more prizes!

Multiple entries are encouraged!

Here's how to enter:

  • Join my newsletter list at www.josiskilpack.com (If you are already on the newsletter list, you already have one entry.)
  • Blog about the contest and book release. (email sadiescontest@gmail.com with the link which will be posted on my website--copy and paste information available at www.josiskilpack.com)
  • Comment on a blog about the contest and the book release. (blogs will be posted at www.josiskilpack.com)
  • Facebook about the contest and release. (email sadiescontest@gmail.com—one FB entry per person)
  • Tweet about the contest and release. (email sadiescontest@gmail.com—one Twitter entry per person)
  • Attend a live event on or before September 15th. (events listed at www.josiskilpack.com)

I would love, love, love to give you a book, so please spread the word and play along!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hobbler Half Marathon 2012

On July 7th I ran my 5th half marathon. Wow, that is surprising to even right that. Five years ago I hated running and yet here I am. Go figure.

I didn't train very well, my longest run was 9 1/2 miles and it about killed me. Spring is always crazy busy for me and this year had a deadline and my oldest daughter graduating high school thrown into the nutcase. It was intense and therefore I didn't get serious about my training until about four weeks before the race. The schedule I WANT to stick to, involves moderate runs 3 days a week--one of them an interval run--and then a long run. I ran twice a week and my long runs never got that long. I've put the weight I lost back on (yeah aging metabolism!) and, as I said, things were just crazy. Having run through the winter, running in the heat feels out of the question for me so it required getting out the door by 6:00 to get my runs in and that's hard and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I didn't train well.

The upside of not training well is that I wasn't going to beat any times. I was just running it, and proving to myself that I could. And that was nice. Packet pick up was smooth the afternoon before, at Trapnell Orthodontics in Springville, though parking was limited. The shirts were awesome. After we got our stuff, I went to dinner with my sister, Crystal, her sister-in-law, Jenny, and my friend Marion Jensen. We were all signed up and carb loadiing and since we were in Utah county we hit the buffet at Brick Oven. I think it was a good choice and we got to talk running and get pumped up. My husband Lee had come with me and we were set up at a hotel, so after dinner I went back to the hotel and realized how much stuff I'd forgotten--my iPod, my visor, my jacket, my morning protein shake, and my chapstick. Good thing there was a Wal-Mart close by. We did some shopping and I took my Tylenol PM so that I'd for sure get some sleep.

At 4:45, I was up and raring to go. By 5:15 I was at the pick-up spot waiting for Crystal and Jenny. There were port-a-potties but since it was dark you couldn't see well--and the potty I chose was disgusting, which was awesome to figure out in the dark. Anyway, I finally met up with Crystal and Jenny and we got on the bus, only to find that Marion had beat us onto the same bus. He had a great seat. We were at the back with the cast of Jersey Shore who succeeded in completely annoying us through the 20 minute drive to the starting point.

I had heard this was a good course and mostly downhill, but was pleasantly surprised to realize that while it was overall a downhill course, it had rolling hills and texture to the course. We were on the highway for a little while, but eventually ended up on a running trail. The canyon breeze was perfect. Since neither my sister or myself were going for a time, we ran together which was so much fun. We can talk about anything and everything and so we kept up the chatter throughout the whole race. They had GU packets, but since they hadn't told us they were going to have it, we'd both brought our own boosts--mine was a 5 hour energy which was nice and hot by the time I drank it at mile 8. Not yummy.

It didn't get hot until the last mile and a half--but it was really hot and the heat just sucks the energy right out of me. They had people positioned with hoses, which was awesome, but that last mile was rough. Crystal and I walk-ran it but then were able to run the final quarter mile and into the finish line which we crossed at the same time. We came in at 2:21, which is my second fastest time which I liked very much. It seemed to prove that even though I haven't been training as I'd like to, I have built up my foundation well. I liked that validation a lot.

The after-run snacks were awesome. They had Creamies and Gatorade and water right there at the finish, and Magleby's had brought their awesome french toast for all the runners as well. There were tickets for drawings, or so they said, but though we were there for 45 minutes, they never drew a ticket--instead they made people do dance competions and things. I HATE that kind of stuff and it annoyed me enough that I finally gave my ticket to someone else and decided to go back to the hotel where Lee was waiting for me.

My recovery was great, I was barely even sore the next day, and I wasn't completely wiped out energy-wise either--another testament to the foundation I've been able to build. This was the second run I've done with my Altra shoes and I just love them. I don't get sore arches or knees or toes with them and I love that.

So, it was a great race with great company and I felt great afterwards. And yet, despite all of that, I'm really hating running right now. I've decided that I actually put on weight when I'm training--and no, it's not all muscle--and I'm tired of that. I also hate getting up so blasted early and I'm just not enjoying it like I did last year or the year before. I'm frustrated by that and not sure what to do. I can give it up, but then what do I do for exercise? Even if it isn't helping with weight loss, it's good cardio. I have a class I do in the mornings now and then, but I have a hard time doing that regularly and I don't love it either. I have one more 1/2 I'm signed up for, Top of Utah, next month and I'll run that and see what I think but I'm not sure I want to keep running like I have been this last year. I'm not sure it's as enjoyable as it once was. Maybe I'm in a phase--I hope so, because I've worked hard to get where I am. It's helped to have running partners that give me a reason to get out there and help take my mind of how bad I hate those runs :-)

Anyway, all in a it was a very good race and I'm glad I did it. Assuming I am still running next year, I'd like to run it again :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

I met Luisa Perkins from afar, several years ago through a now-defunct social networking site. I found her blog and loved getting to know her through her vignettes about life. I find her to be kind, open minded, secure in herself, and quite brilliant. Since meeting her 'online' (how do you say that and not sound creepy?) I met her in person a couple of years ago, she's as classy as ever and through the years since that time I have had the opportunity to work closer with her and truly feel as though we know enough other well enough to call her a good friend. I'm so excited for her book and for the door to a writing career she's walking through right now. And I'm very happy to present this interview we did. Be sure to check out her book, "Dispirited," and get yourself a copy, it's a very well done story and you'll love it!


Tell us about your family.

I am the oldest of a very large, variously blended family, so I tend to be bossy. My husband, Patrick, and I have been married for 22 years, and we are more in love every day. We have six children: Christian, 18; James, 15; Hope, 13; Tess, 11; Daniel, 8; and Anne, 4. We are a very close-knit, adventure-loving group.

What writers would you consider to be your 'mentors'?

Ah, that is a different question than asking who my favorite writers are. Good one. For discipline and dedication: Anthony Trollope and Steven Pressfield. For the rare skill of not taking oneself too seriously: Terry Pratchett and Carrie Fisher. For integrity and balance: Barbara Kingsolver and Anne Lamott.

What best prepared you to take on the life of a writer?

Probably my mission for our church. The daily discipline of getting up day after day and doing something you might or might not want to do right at that moment was fabulous preparation for both motherhood and the writer’s life. Writing is work—joyful work, but work—and my mission taught me how to work.

What were the biggest obstacles you encountered in your writing journey?

My biggest obstacle has always been fear. Fear of failure; fear of success. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of not being able to repeat a past success.

Fear didn’t go away I was published, either; it’s always at the door, right there with doubt and despair. For me, fighting fear takes daily vigilance. I remind myself that perfect love casts out fear, so I pray for charity morning and night.

What is the biggest obstacle you face right now?

Well, I’ve gotten better at fighting back fear. Now my biggest problem is juggling a) marketing Dispirited; b) focusing on the book I’m writing right now; and c) being the best wife and mother I can be.

Is there anything you wish you'd have done differently?

My first novel came out 17 years ago. After it did, I spent a couple of years finishing my bachelor’s degree through BYU’s General Studies program. After that, I assumed I’d start writing again. But all along, I was pretty depressed, and didn’t realize it. I told myself I was going on an extended “maternity leave.” At that point, I had four small children.

I wish I’d recognized my depression/anxiety for what it was much earlier. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (hence my issues with fear), and I’ve learned how to cope with it, but it’s taken awhile. When our fifth child was a baby, I started writing seriously again, and it helped a lot. All that to say—I wish I hadn’t stopped writing for those years in the middle.

Outside of writing, what are your other interests?

I love to cook, and I really love to eat. Knitting and gardening are both passions of mine. I enjoy music of all kinds, from the obscurest classical to the hardest rock and literally everything in between. I love to travel. And I read a ton, as I’m sure most writers do.

In twenty words or less tell us about your book:

Cathy travels to hell and back to rescue her stepbrother, Blake—a ghost haunting his own body without remembering why.

In twenty words or less tell us about your philosophy for life:

Savor every moment, both good and bad. Being right is highly overrated; be kind instead. Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

How can you not love this woman? Be sure to check out her BOOK.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Whitney Award Gala Speech 2011


For the last two years I have served as president of The Whitney Awards, a genre fiction award for LDS writers both in the National and LDS specific market. Robison Wells founded the award program five years ago and left me some very big (and sweaty) shoes to fill. I have enjoyed my opportunity to serve very much and have learned so much about myself, about other people who put their shoulder to the proverbial wheel, and I've discovered a lot of great books I would not have read otherwise. It's been a blessing to me to be a part of this program, and yet I gladly hand the baton to Heather Moore who will be president for 2012. Last night (May 5, 2012) was the Gala where the winners were announced and our Achievement Winners, Jack Weyland and Douglas Thayer, were acknowledged. The Gala is always a bittersweet night for me. I love, love, love hearing the acceptances and feeling the spirit of the night, but I'm aware of the 28 or so people who go home with empty hands. I've been that person and as happy as I've been for the other winners, I still wish I'd have won it :-) It's my supreme hope and prayer that they all feel the tribute of having been a finalist and that those in the audience who weren't finalists this year will have felt some of the spirit of night meant just for them as well. Though the Gala recognizes the winners--and their accomplishment is great--it is about everyone who writes the words. I was asked by a few attendees for a copy of the opening remarks I gave prior to the award portion of the evening. Since I print my blog into a book every few years, I wanted a record of the evening as well so I chose to post it here. You are welcome to use it, within context, in whatever it might support. 
Thanks to everyone who has offered their support and encouragement to this award process and to me individually. It's been a fabulous experience I will ever be grateful to have had. For more information about the Whitney Awards, click HERE. To see the winners for the 2011 Whitney Awards, click HERE.

The Whitney award program was named in honor of Orson F. Whitney—a former member of the twelve apostles who pursued and encouraged the fine arts throughout his life. Orson was born on 1855 in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the time he was very young he had what was described as an artistic temperament—he loved art, music, and literature. While attending The University of Deseret—now the University of Utah—he formed the Wasatch Literary Association and was planning to make a career in theater in New York when he was called to serve a mission in the Eastern United States. Prior to this time in his life he claimed not to be spiritually driven. He did accept the call but did not feel as though he himself were converted until he had a remarkable dream where he witnessed Christ’s atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane.

By the time he returned to the Salt Lake valley he had not only been converted himself, but through his proselytizing he’d grown remarkably as a speaker and teacher. He was offered a job with the Deseret News and was called as a Bishop at the age of 22 and, as yet, unmarried. He married Zina Smoot just a year later and they had their first child a year after that. In the years that followed, he served a mission to Europe, continued to work at the Deseret News, and served in local politics. Amid it all, however, he found time to pursue his passions in writing. His first book “The life of Heber C. Kimball” was published in 1888 and soon followed by his first book of poetry—a joy he had worked on in private for many years.

Politically he advocated Women’s Sufferage, protection against persecuted polygamists, and also fought against compulsory vaccination. He was hired to teach philosophy at Brigham Young College in Logan but when no one signed up for his classes, he ended up teaching Theology and English instead and from that point forward began lecturing on a regular basis. It’s been said that In literary work, discourses, lectures, orations, funeral sermons and miscellaneous addresses, along with his ecclesiastical labors, his mind, tongue and pen were kept constantly busy.”

After 28 years as a bishop, seven of which were also spent working in the Church Historical Department, Orson F. Whitney was called as a member of the twelve in 1906 but asked friends and acquaintances to continue calling him Bishop Whitney in part because he created most of his literary works as Bishop Whitney and preferred that identification. Time and again the message of his talks and presentations was to encourage people to use the gifts God had given them and see within those gifts lasting treasures of virtue, accomplishment, and enjoyment. He served vigorously as a member of the twelve apostles for 25 years until his death in 1931.

The excerpt of his talk that was chosen as a foundation for The Whitney Awards is from an address delivered at the Sunday evening session of the MIA Jubilee Conference held on June 7, 1925.
He said: We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God's ammunition is not exhausted. . . In God’s name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heavens.”

            In 1976, Elder Boyd K. Packer repeated those words and added “Since that statement was made . . . those foundations have been raised up very slowly. The greatest poems are not yet written, nor the paintings finished. The greatest hymns and anthems of the Restoration are yet to be composed. The sublimest renditions of them are yet to be conducted.”

            Tonight we gather in part as a fulfillment of both of these messages. Words are a powerful force—they build and destroy nations, build and destroy ideas, build and destroy people. It is specifically through the gift of literature that we have our understanding of the creation, of Christ’s ministry, of Nephi’s journey to the promised land. It is through words that we’ve learned of science, governments, the universe and the intricate detail of human nature.

             In 1988, exactly 100 years after the publication of Orson F. Whitney’s first book, Thomas S. Monson said, “God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.”

             Writers know the joys and glories and pain and agony of creation. The experience of that process is priceless on a personal level, and, as with Bishop Whitney’s life, none of us knows the journey our lives may take. Our lives unfold one day, one word, one experience at a time and it is left to us to hone our craft and enjoy the ride we find ourselves upon.

            With such reverence of the gifts and talents overflowing this room, it is, therefore, an honor to honor the time and dedication that has gone into the creations of these 35 finalists in the 2011 Whitney Awards. We thank each of you for your time and efforts. You are working towards the fulfillment of prophesy and we are grateful to have the chance to acknowledge that.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Nineteen Reasons I Love This Man

Yesterday my husband Lee and I celebrated 19 years of marriage. Yes, we were married on April Fool's day and unlike my daughters post on Facebook, it isn't because our marriage is a joke (Yes, she got lots of teen-points for that one).

I was 18 when we got married, so I've officially been married to him longer than I wasn't. He continues to be my best friend and biggest fan--the foundation of all the great things I have in my life. We've had plenty of other rivers to forge, but we are a good team and I am so grateful for that. Since I flaked the Anniversary card (the one he gave me was sweet) and was sick most of the day and he was recovering from a night shift and then had to work another one (after 19 years you do give up some of the glamor) I thought I would list out 19 of the reasons I love Lee so very much in hopes of making up for the lack-luster celebrations of yesterday (I'm also booking an overnight for next weekend).

Here we go:

1--He works hard to take care of our family.
2--He works SMART to take care of our family and is always looking for the next wise move on our behalf.
3--He makes me laugh everyday . . . even when I don't want to laugh.
4--He is amazingly optimistic and works toward those goals continually.
5--He's a great father to our kids.
6--He makes me feel beautiful.
7--He tells me the truth . . . even when I don't want to hear it.
8--He continually encourages me to reach for the stars.
9--He is not threatened by my success.
10--He agrees with me on matters of scouting.
11--He can handle it when I disagree with him.
12--He has never once pulled a covered wagon on me--it would be the last time, let me assure you.
13--He works hard to keep himself healthy.
14--He gets better looking every year.
15--He has never once put me down or called me a name.
16--He reminds me to relax and take things one day at a time.
17--He has a transcendent faith that exceeds what's taught on Sunday and permeates every part of his life.
18--He learned to love Sushi.
19--He loves me, despite myself at times.

Want more details? I blogged about him and or marriage HERE and HERE and HERE

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Bomb--Caller ID

Rachelle Christensen's new book, Caller ID, is out and today is blasting the internet! Not only can you buy it at a discount on Amazon, but you get a whole slew of extras when you email your order confirmation to Rachelle. Go HERE to order it on Amazon and then go HERE to read up on the sweet extras she'll sending you--her email is there as well. Enjoy!

Wanna know more about the book? Here's the trailer

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Story Behind the Story Behind the Story

Every genre has a few 'rules' that go along with it. For example, in a Romance, the boy and girl end up in some kind of commitment at the end. In Horror, there's a good vs. evil dynamic in which the good will eventually prevail. As writers, we need to understand the rules of our genre so that we give our readers what they expect, and deserve, to get from our book.

Culinary Mysteries are a sub-genre of Cozy Mysteries, which has rules such as a low tolerance for violence and sex, and that the murder being solved usually happens off stage, meaning that the reader doesn't see it. Additionally, the reader usually knows as much as the sleuth does as the story progresses, though we expect and hope the reader figures it out just a few steps before our character does--readers like that and writers like their readers to be happy. Because of these rules, a typical cozy mystery is actually a story about figuring out another story.

While writing my books I'm very aware of this, so as I write the story, I'm building the mystery being solved, also referred to as the story behind the story. No, I'm not aware of that story behind the story when I start writing my books. Yes, it ties me up in knots to be so ignorant, but, so far, it's always worked out okay.(knock on wood)

With Banana Split--like my other books--I did not know the story behind the story when I got started. As I continued forward it kept changing until I found myself 75% of the way through the book and totally confused on what had happened. How had Noelani ended up in the ocean (Chapter One, I'm not spoiling anything) and why? I had three really solid suspects but I couldn't get all the clues Sadie had discovered to add up. So, I took a break from Banana Split and decided to actually write out the story behind the story--what it was Sadie needed to solve.

It was fascinating! Noelani is dead before Banana Split even starts, we only get to know her from the people who knew her, and they had varying opinions of who she was. Writing in her POV made her, as a character, so much clearer to me, so much more real. And, most importantly as I got near the end of her story, I figured out who killed her and why. By the time I finished the story behind the story, I knew how to finish the book. It was a rush to have that kind of insight and the rest of the story fell into place pretty quickly. As I finished Sadie's story, Noelani's story languished in my hard drive--it had served it's purpose.

I was going through my galleys (the typeset book which I do a final proofread on) when I realized that some of the events at the end of the book weren't lining up, I opened up the story behind the story again to make sure I was clear on what happened and how it happened. It helped with the proofreading a great deal, some of the details had been mixed up. By the time I finished that proofing, however, I wondered if readers would enjoy the story behind the story? Would they like to see what happened from Noelani's POV? Would they like an up close look at motivations and the chain of events that landed her in the ocean? I thought they might, and when I suggested it to my publisher, they agreed with me. We were able to quickly get it cleaned up and online, with a link and QR code included at the end of Banana Split that readers could use to take them to this secret chapter.

Doing this actually breaks one of those genre rules--I'm putting the mystery on stage. Cozy's generally end 'happy' but the story behind the story ends in a death, so it's a tragedy which also breaks rules. As far as I know, this hasn't been done before. Banana Split has been out for a few weeks and the feedback for the secret chapter has been positive so far--like me the readers are enjoying getting a moment in Noelani's head. A few people have posted the link in Facebook, however, and that gives me a rash since it completely gives away the plot for Banana Split. I'm hoping it's worth the risk. I hope if you read Banana Split you follow that link and let me know what you think. It's certainly a new idea and I'm curious to see what readers think.

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fundraiser--Northern Utah

This is my friend's daughter--if you had 5 minutes in the room with either of these gals you would love them as much as I do. Please read through the information and, if you are interested in supporting this endevour, use the contact information at the bottom of the page. It's certainly for a good cause, and will be supporting an exceptional girl. Thanks!

Friday, February 03, 2012

2011 Whitney Award Finalists Announced!

It has been my great privilege for the last two years to serve as Whitney Award President. The phase of the program where we announce the finalists is always emotionally overwhelming for me. I know so many of the nominees and I know how much they all want the recognition for their efforts. I'm bound by bylaws to not make results public, but I hope that every nominee will use this experience for their good in some way. The mission of the program is to encourage great writing and I believe it does that, which make the competition harder every year.

The Whitney Academy will now read the finalists and vote on the winners--Academy ballots close on April 23rd. If you would like to join the Academy, go HERE to read up on the eligibility requirements.

For more information, or to download a printable list of the finalists, go to www.whitneyawards.com


General Fiction -
Before I Say Goodbye by Rachel Ann Nunes

Gifted by Karey White*
       The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill
The Walk: Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans

The Wedding Letters by Jason F. Wright

Historical Fiction -
Daughter of Helaman by Misty Moncur*

Fires of Jerusalem by Marilyn Brown

Isabelle Webb: The Pharoah's Daughter by Nancy Campbell Allen

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box by Gale Sears

Miss Delacourt Has Her Day by Heidi Ashworth

Romance -
Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly

Captive Heart by Michele Paige Holmes

Countdown to Love by Julie N. Ford

Not My Type by Melanie Jacobson

The List by Melanie Jacobson*

Mystery/Suspense -
Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry

Bloodborne by Gregg Luke

If I Should Die by Jennie Hansen

Rearview Mirror by Stephanie Black

Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson

Speculative -
A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells

I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

No Angel by Theresa Sneed*

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

Youth Fiction, Speculative -
My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Shifting by Bethany Wiggins*

Slayers by C.J. Hill

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Variant by Robison Wells

Youth Fiction, General -
Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Pride and Popularity by Jenni James

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo*
*Also eligible for Best Novel by New Author

The winners will be announced at the Whitney Awards banquet on May 5th at the Provo Marriott. If you would like more information about the awards program, or if you'd like tickets to attend the gala banquet, click here to visit the Whitney Awards site.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Domestic Nerd Saturday Project

While at my sister's house in Enoch last week I was impressed by a drop down shelf she had put into a high cupboard, I love handy little things like that. Like many people, my spice cupboard is my nemesis and I have to reorganize it every few months and yet it's almost immediately a mess again. So, per my sister's help in finding the rack (which took two different Wal-marts, thank you very much) I finally found them and bought three. (The Cheetos wrapper is not mine, I swear)


Here's what the two cupboards looked like before:

It took me the better part of an hour to empty and install the shelves. I used a tape measure, Phillips screwdriver, and a drill and did have to take off one cabinet doors and rearrange the shelve heights to make sure the pull down shelf would fit.  I only drilled the holes wrong SIX TIMES; I'm extraordinarily handy like that. In the end, however, the cupboards looked like this:



When you pull down the shelves, they look like this--no more hunting past bottles to try and find the one I need:



I fit all the same spices and medications in the cupboards as I did before. I did not bleed at any time in this process, didn't even swear! And I've left the cupboards open most of the evening so I can smile at my accomplishments. I love it when things work out! I'm sure the drill will sit on the counter for a week before I put it back in the garage.

Lee than treated me to sushi at Tona's in Ogden. All in all, a very good day.

I hope you had an equally satisfying Saturday!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

St. George Half Marathon 2012 Report

Today, January 21 2012, I ran the St. George 1/2 Marathon. This was my first time running this particular race, but the second St. George race I'd run (the first was Snow Canyon 2011). I think I really like St. George races. Because I live in Northern Utah, I'm almost convinced that coming down in elevation helps me, since my more northern races have been slower than both of these Southern Utah runs, but I have no scientific proof of this. Anyway, here's my recap.

I have never run in the winter. I enjoy running spring through fall, but I always stop running when it gets cold, then pick it up again in the spring. This year, I wanted to keep up my running throughout the winter specifically in hopes of getting faster. I have no doubt that running with my friend Holly Freeman made a HUGE difference in my speed. She is passionate about fitness and fitness goals and she and I have run about once a week since October. She runs faster than I do, much faster, but her slow runs are my fast ones and keeping up with her, learning to do intervals, and braving hills was a huge help to me. I only ran about 10 miles a week until early December, when I began increasing my runs. I didn't follow a set training schedule, I just tried to run 3 or 4 days a week, usually 3-5 mile runs and then a longer run somewhere that week. I didn't get over 20 miles a week until the two weeks before the race, then tapered to 4 miles Monday, 3 miles Tuesday, and 2 miles Wednesday the week of the race per my friend Jaime Theler's advice and reference to Hal Higdon's training schedule.

I'd been in Cedar City for some promotional things and presentations the days before the run, so Friday night my two favorite Crystals (I have a sister and a sister in law named Crystal--they are both wonderful) came with me to St. George where I'd rented a hotel room. We went to the Dixie Expo Center first to get my packet, where I had to serpentine through all these booths and such to get to where I picked it up. Brilliant to make us walk through the expo to get to the end. After I got my number, we went to a movie (Tower Heist) where I ate 1/2 a jumbo tub of popcorn and then went to dinner at Olive garden where I finished the carb-fest. We got to the hotel a little after 10:00 and I took a Tylenol PM. I slept pretty well and woke up at 7:45 to get ready. My sister drove me to the Dixie Expo Center, where the race started. It had rained during the night and was still sprinkling when we got to the race. I ate 3 shot-blocks for energy and drank some water before she dropped me off, then stayed inside the Expo Center and stretched--ran into Jill Dallon from Brigham City--and waited for the race to start. I had worn my long sleeved running shirt, a jacket, gloves, and a hoodie, because it was cold, but I peeled off the jacket and hoodie right before the race started and began looking for a place to put my drop bag. None of the volunteers knew where it was, none of the runners did either. I ended up stashing it under a tree next to some other ones. My cell phone was in there, as was $80 worth of gear, so I was nervous, but I didn't feel like I had a choice. The next clothing drop wasn't until mile 2.

The race put "pacers" into the race who held signs proclaiming how fast they were running so you could run with them--I'd never seen this before but really liked it. I started with the 2:10 crowd, but passed the pacers about 2 miles into the run in hopes of catching up with the 2:00 pacers, but I never even saw them. It was sprinkling, but just barely and the temperature was perfect--about 35ish degrees, I think. The first 8 miles was a lot of uphill, I was so glad I'd trained on hills with Holly, but they weren't steep, more of rolling, and wound through neighborhoods. The streets were well "manned" by volunteers and barricaded off, if felt very safe. I took the 5 hour energy I'd hidden in my secret pocket at about mile 6--I was feeling good but didn't want to burn out. At about mile 7 1/2, a seasoned pro passed and told us that it was all downhill from that point forward. Thank goodness! Around mile 8 I met a gal named Erica, also running alone. She and I talked and ran together for about 3 miles, which was wonderful. We were pretty evenly paced and conversation is always a welcome distraction. The race went from roads to a bike path that followed the river, very nicely paved with beautiful views into St. George. At mile 11 I was feeling good so I sped up a little bit. The rain increased about this time, but it wasn't obnoxious, I just had to keep wiping the water from my face. At mile 12 I was still feeling good so I sped up even more. I had hoped to come in close to 2:10, and was thrilled to come in at 2:07:10 instead.

At the end of the race they snipped off my chip, gave me a medal, and the finish line led right through the after-run snacks. I came through the snack line to find my sister waiting for me, which was wonderful. She's a great cheerleader.

I decided not to wait around for the awards, I was soaked, or my official time. By my GPS watch I was 7:29, but I had set it before I crossed the line. My stuff was still under the tree, so I picked it up and got back to the hotel in time to take a shower before out late check out was over with. Once back at the hotel, soaking wet, I realized I hadn't brought a change of underwear--I wear LDS temple garments and somehow left all the clean ones at my sister's house. Luckily, they sell them in town so I took an extra long shower while my sister picked me up a pair. I'd run in the ones I had and there was no way I could wear them twice. I was very grateful that it worked out as well as it did. I felt good enough to go shopping and get lunch and enjoy our free time before we had to return to Cedar.

In summary, I really liked the course which was a challenging one for me in regard to the hills, but definitely doable. I liked the organization of the race as well, all the information I got leading up to the race was well stated and easy to follow. The after-run snacks were good, the weather, though I was worried about it, was quite perfect. My training was really good and I had a great experience over all. I purchased some Altra shoes before I got serious about the training in December and feel like I can now proclaim how much I LOVE them. I've put about 80 miles into them and have had no knee or arch pain since using them. They are barefoot running shoes which are supposed to make your body move more naturally, and I am converted. You can find more info at www.zrunning.com

What I didn't like was that the volunteers I interacted with weren't super in-the-know, they seemed to know their job, but not much else. I never found the drop site before the race and would have liked to have put my stuff in a safer place. The shirts were men's cuts, and the small is big on me so I will probably never wear it, which is a shame because it's very well designed. I have also accepted that I must get better running pants. The ones I've been running in are cotton and with the rain they were soggy and heavy and stuck under my shoes by the end. I definitely need new pants.

I had a really good day and now have a new PR to beat at my next race, which is still up in the air. There are a few I'm looking into, but none that are "singing" to me just yet. I'm sure enjoying running right now in my life, I think it might be my version of an antidepressant as I just feel better when I'm consistent with it. Thanks to everyone who's been such a support to me, I appreciate it very much.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

And Here it is, 2012

I think I wrote 8 blogs in 2011, I didn't read other people's blogs much more often than that. There was a time when I wrote 3-4 times a week, which mostly serves as a commentary on how things change and the necessity to revise the way I spend my time. However, I really like reporting on my goals and setting new ones so here I am, giving my report and signing up for a new list of challenges that, even if I don't reach the goal, makes me better than I was before I set it.

Report on 2011:

1--Love my body. I made progress in this area despite the fact that I'm a few pounds heavier than I was this time last year.

How do I feel about that?

Really good. I turned 37 years old in 2011, my husband turned 40 and I am mindful of the changes age makes, however, I am very pleased with how I am moving into these monumental years. I'm heavier than I've been, but I think I'm in better shape. I feel stronger. I sleep well, I can physically do pretty much whatever I want. If I decided, tomorrow, to take up rowing, or rock climbing, or dancing in one form or another, I could do it. I have the base I need. I love that feeling and though I'm not fitting into the clothes I would prefer and some of my 'shape' isn't the shape I want to be, I'm quite pleased with where I am and it feels SO good to feel good about those things.

2--Run a 1/2 Marathon in 2:10--Um, no. In fact my fastest time was 8 minutes slower than my slowest time in 2010.

How do I feel about that?

Not too bad, really. I ended up with unexpected gallbladder surgery in June that seriously interfered with my running goals, and yet I still managed to run two 1/2 marathons. I was slower, but I did them and they were great experiences.

3--Complete 3 novels--Totally did it! I finished "Pumpkin Roll" and "Banana Split"--books 6 and 7 in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series--and "Daisy" which is my contribution to a parallel novel series written with three of my favorite writers. You can learn more about that series on the blog dedicated to the books.

How do I feel about that?

Stinkin awesome! Could not be more pleased with how my writing career is going. I'm humbled by the continual opportunities and proud of myself for making it work. Daisy was a joy to write, a good break from Sadie, though I do love her so, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing with Heather, Annette, and Julie.

4--52 Thank You Cards--Totally did this one, and I think I sent closer to 70 cards instead of the 52 I had planned.

How do I feel about that?

Really good. Having set this as a goal kept me more aware of the things people around me do. I sent cards to kids who spoke in primary who I could tell were nervous but did it anyway. I sent thank you cards to people who deserved it long before I ever took the time to say so. I tried to make note of those moments that were such a part of someone's nature that I usually just glossed it over with "Oh, she likes to do that kind of thing." And I so enjoyed this experience.

5--Keep a Better House--I've definitely improved.

How do I feel about that?

Great. A clean home makes me feel better. It's that simple and I have worked hard to keep up on the day to day as well as work on the deep cleaning before it's drowning me. Right now, though there isn't a room in my house that's perfect, I feel good about the state of my home. I know where most things are and I feel like I'm being a good steward of the temporal blessings I've been given.

6--Develop and Follow a menu plan--epic fail. I did worse this year than last year. Boo.

How do I feel about that?

Frustrated, like I did last year when I didn't meet this goal. I love to eat dinner with my family, so why don't I make it happen? There are weeks when I cook one meal and all the other nights just expect everyone to fend for themselves. I hate it, but am really struggling to get into a rhythm. I'm honestly not sure where to start.

7--Expand and keep up on my freelance work--Did it, but not in the way I expected to. I didn't write any articles, but I did some web copy writing work that I really enjoyed.

How do I feel about that?

Good. The essence of the goal was for me to be developing my other writing skills outside of novel writing which I feel makes me a better writer overall and keeps me from becoming to overwhelmed with my fiction. Taking on the freelance projects definitely changed things up for me and helped me learn new skills. And I loved doing web content and hope do do more of it in the future.



Goals for 2012:

1--Run a 1/2 marathon in 2:10. I think I can do this with proper training and consistency. I am also nearly out of expendable organs so I don't forsee having to have anything surgically removed this year.

2--Sit down meal twice a week. I need to get over some of the things that get in my way like not having everyone home, not being in the mood, and not having the ingredients. If I plan on two full meals a week where whoever is home sits down together, I should be able to pull it off. I can have the ingredients on hand and make it happen. Maybe if I do this and have positive experiences with it, I will be better motivated to do it more often.

3--Take a crochet class. I really like handiwork and I really like crochet, but I can only do two stitches. I'd like to take at least one crochet class and improve my skills. I'd love to be able to crochet baby blankets by the time I'm a grandma, which could very well happen in the next five years. I used to put myself into learning all kinds of things but as my writing has taken off I have focused primarily on those skills that benefit my career. I'd like to expand into some other things.

4--Journal once a month. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I've read over my journal of the last five years and average about 3 entries a year. I'd like to do better and so will try to journal on the first Sunday of each month.


5--Attend the temple once a month. This is a hard goal for me. I know it's not politically correct to say so, but I don't love going to the temple. I feel good there and I'm glad when I go, but I rarely have really powerful experiences and it becomes easy for me to be off. For me, I think attending is more a matter of obedience than seeking revelation, but I want to do better. I only attend two or three times this year and I don't think I've ever gone 12 times in a year so this will be a good spiritual goal for me to work toward.

6--Be nice. Both in words and in thoughts, I would like to be a nicer person. I would like people to feel better for having been with me, and I would like to focus on good things more than negative. This isn't something that comes easy to me but one I've made enough progress on to know that setting my mind to it makes it a possibility. I'm not sure how I'll measure it, but I would like to feel 'nicer' by 2013.

Come back next year and we'll see how I did :-)