Friday, November 03, 2006
I breathed a sigh of relief when she said the daughter was just acting out because of some family problems. And then she told me the family problems and my heart sank again (but not as low). The dad has had an affair and been ex-communicated from the church ( he is still coming to church, thank goodness), but the parents have decided to stay together and the daughter is furious at her dad doesn't respect him at all anymore. "She's also mad at me for staying with him," the mom explained further, "and she's just saying and doing things that hurt us and herself. I thought maybe you'd understand and you could just talk to her--she adores you."
Understand? Sister, I am SOOOO feelin' ya. This little incident sent me into a tailspin for about 36 hours (I mean a tailspin in my mind--I continued to function normally and care for my family). It was like those jokester cans of peanuts or whatever, where you open the lid and the snakes go flying everywhere. I thought I had forgiven AND forgotten and healed up all the deep emotional scars from my parents' breakup nearly 18 years ago. But alas--with the right stimulus, the scars can feel like yesterday's cuts. Like the Tanita Tikaram song says, it all came back today (please click on this link and read the lyrics--they are beautiful).
Which begs the question: if the hurt and anger can feel so fresh, have I really forgiven? When I asked myself this, I felt pretty certain that the answer is yes. So the next question is, then why haven't I forgotten? In my understanding of the atonement of Christ (captured eloquently here, and here, and here), he "swallows up" not just the suffering for our own sins, but for the hurt and pain we experience sometimes as a result of someone else's sin. How can the hurt be so ingrained in my "muscle memory" that I cry about this incident as if it had happened in my own family all over again?
I took this Young Woman out on a drive after I got my own family settled that Sunday night. We just talked about life in general, and then our families, and then I told her I know how it feels and if it gets to be too much, my ears and my arms and my home and my heart are always open for her. I also told her that this is a time when she can learn to stand on her own two feet as far as what she believes in and how she wants her life to be. One thing we can all learn from stuff like this is that, no matter what we tell ourselves in moments of weakness, our poor choices always hurt the ones we love.
So I got home and was pondering the questions in the previous paragraph, brushing my teeth with tears in my eyes. Then I looked in the mirror and the answer came to me: You haven't forgotten because you needed to remember for this moment. You needed the experience to keep your heart soft and to be empathetic in a moment of need. And then it all tied together with the movie I watched at Temple Square last weekend. When Joseph Smith stands at looking out the tiny window of the Liberty Jail and wonders why he is there, why his wife and family and people are suffering alone on the outside and he is struggling on the inside, why he feels forsaken, he gets THIS answer: these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.
And you know what? They have. That, my friends, is what the remembrance is for.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Well, you know by now that I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, so the answer to that is a big fat NO!! Although the handful of times it DID snow were so magical (and it melted by 10am), we put tube socks on our hands and had snowball fights, sledding, and built tiny, skinny snowmen.
I remember when I was 7, my Uncle Matt and his friend brought down a big truckload of snow from Mt. Lemmon and dumped it in our yard so we could have a snowball fight and build a snowman. THAT, my friends, is the way to play in the snow. It’s 60 degrees outside, but you’re wearing gloves to play in the snow as it melts into the lawn. We always got excited about snow, but it was mostly in theory. Anytime I actually have to BE cold (and live the snow lifestyle), I get furious. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a skier, a sledder, a snowmobiler, or even a fun mom who plays in the snow with her kids. My arctic in-laws or husband have to take the girls out in the winter now—I stay in and make the hot cocoa! All that said, I love to LOOK at snow. The winter gets so dreary when the fresh snow is gone.
We did play outside in Arizona. In the summer it was too hot for anything but water play—swimming pools, sprinklers, stock tanks, or—my personal favorite—the monsoon rain. In Tucson and most of SE Arizona, around mid-July, the rains starts and lasts through September. Here’s how it goes: the sun comes up and starts frying the earth—it’s 90 degrees by 8am, so you’d better have the lawn mowed (or what ever you need to do outside) by then. The air gets terribly hot and people either (a) stay inside in the air-conditioned comfort, or (b) get in the pool. But then, about 3pm, the storm starts to brew. Tall dark clouds build up to the southeast and the wind starts to blow. Then come the lightening and thunder, and if you’re in the pool, they usually make you get out lest you get struck by lightning and the pool becomes People Stew. But if you’re not in the pool and you’ve been waiting for some outside fun, now’s your chance.
The clouds break loose and rain pours for an hour or so (it’s especially cool if the sun is still shining from the west and you’re getting doused on the eastside; and the smell—oh, the smell! Sage, Creosote, Mesquite, wet sand---I wish they could bottle it!). Tucson has an intricate system of washes, or arroyos en espanol. They are basically drainage ditches that pour into big river-sized washes, and eventually into the Rillito or Santa Cruz “rivers.” There is some technical reason these things are called rivers, but there is rarely water in them. They are, however, a great place to ride ATV’s and have bonfires (NOT during flood season, though). Anyway, most streets have a small wash where the rainwater flows to drain into a bigger wash. The water usually gets about 2 feet deep in there and it’s so much fun to wade in there as the rain falls and the weather cools. I remember the summer before I turned 11, I had a cast on my leg and I even Duck taped a trash bag around my cast so I could go wading with my crazy siblings.
Of course, six months of the year, the weather is perfect for just about anything else you want to do outside. There’s lots of hiking, climbing, and rappelling, there’s golf and mini-golf, horseback riding, biking, walking, and pretty much any sport. My mom loved softball, so we played that a lot, and volleyball, too. We did a lot of general playing in the park—running around, playing in the playground. Being the nerd I am, I played inside the house a lot, too, mostly playing school or house or something that involved all my siblings having an imaginary adventure (like Shark—we scattered every pillow in the house on the ground and if you touched the carpet, you got devoured by sharks).
Now that I live in Montana, I understand why people up north get so excited about summer. All the things we did for most of the year in AZ can only be done between Memorial Day and Labor Day (and even some of those days are too cold!), so people really pack in all the fun before the harvest and the winter. It’s really cool having 4 distinct seasons—a totally new experience for me!
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I have kind of weird views about winning, losing, and competition in general. I know I am not a good capitalist when I say that mostly, competition offends my sensibilities---it always has, whether I am a “winner” or a “loser.” So few things in life are truly absolute and fair and lacking subjectivity, I just hate competition. I hate that someone, somewhere has to lose.
I think it’s absolutely necessary in life to compete with yourself—that is, constantly seek improvement, to do better than last time and not rest on your laurels. Life is about growth and progression, so besting yourself is great. It’s just unhealthy to take off your blinders and compare yourself to others.
Rich and I were playing Cranium with my brother and sister-in-law a few months ago and we had a little winning stretch. When we got our third or fourth straight right answer and got close to the finish line, I said, “Aw, dang it!” Willy thought that was weird—“Why are you upset? You’re gonna beat us!” I said, “That’s just it—I don’t want the game to be over and I want the finish to be close and fair!” He and Audrey just laughed at me, but I think that captures my whole philosophy. Winning isn’t my thing—having fun, playing fair, doing my best, and maybe helping somebody else win (somebody who cares about winning) are the things I enjoy.
In a more general, spiritual sense, I believe competition is not good for our souls or our mission in life. In the May 2002 Ensign, Jeffrey R. Holland talked about some lessons we can learn from the story of the Prodigal Son—except he focused a lot on the reaction of the “good brother.” Holland says of the brother’s jealousy and competition with his prodigal brother: “Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies. It is Lucifer, our common enemy, whose cry down through the corridors of time is always and to everyone, ‘Give me thine honor.’”
He continues: “But God does not work this way. The father in this story does not tantalize his children. He does not mercilessly measure them against their neighbors. He doesn’t even compare them with each other. His gestures of compassion toward one do not require a withdrawal or denial of love for the other. He is divinely generous to both of these sons. Toward both of his children he extends charity. I believe God is with us the way my precious wife, Pat, is with my singing. She is a gifted musician, something of a musical genius, but I couldn’t capture a musical note with Velcro. And yet I know she loves me in a very special way when I try to sing. I know that because I can see it in her eyes. They are the eyes of love.
“One observer has written: ‘In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a [divine] love that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised,’ he says, ‘it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didn’t happen to me.’ If left unresisted, we can see how this inclination so embellished by the world will ultimately bring a resentful, demeaning view of God and a terribly destructive view of ourselves. Most ‘thou shalt not’ commandments are meant to keep us from hurting others, but I am convinced the commandment not to covet is meant to keep us from hurting ourselves…. Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other.”
So there you have it. One of the best pearls of wisdom I have ever encountered...I want to cheer on every runner, too.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Maybe our closeness started when I was born on her 17th birthday. Maybe because we had a few years together before she had her own kids (I know how great it is to be the single, “fun” aunt). Anyway, we bonded and have done lots together over the past 35 years.
For my blessing day in October 1971, she bought me a beautiful christening dress—three layers of fluffy white with the most beautiful embroidery and matching bonnet. It was so special to put that dress on Addie for her blessing day.
Aunt Marti has earned several nicknames, the most popular being “Auntie M,” “Aunt Party,” and my nephews even used to call her “Aunt Mommy.” She’s called Aunt Party by Willy and me because we always had a party at her house and our friends were even welcome there. We were much older than her kids, but we used to hang out there and torture my little cousins and it was always a fun get-away.
Aunt Marti’s personality is intense. Sometimes I chuckle when I imagine her and my mother as young girls because they have two very big personalities (like my girls)—I imagine lots of drama and fun, just like my house! She is very serious about living the gospel, but also about having fun, doing things right, being honest, getting to know and help other people. She is also humble, though, and has been as willing to learn from me as I have been to learn from her. That always makes her more comfortable to be around—a friend as well as an Aunt.
On my 29th birthday, she called me and said, “We’re finally the same age!” Heh, heh. And we will be now, forever!!
I always appreciated Aunt Marti’s interest in my life. Now that I am a mom with a home and kids to care for myself, I know what a sacrifice it must have been for her to wait up for me when I came to visit and to stay up late and talk. I know it must have been hard to watch me grow up and make stupid mistakes and still be one of my greatest fans. I have learned so much from her example as a woman, mother, and friend, and from her and Uncle Ralph as parents. They showed me that if you set a family standard and goal and never waiver, eventually all your kids will come around and be really decent people. My Mayberry cousins are all really cool and so much fun to be around. I hope I can be the kind of mom who raises that kind of family. I hope I can be the kind of friend, daughter, and Aunt the she has been. I hope we get to spend lots more of our birthdays together, even though we’re almost 1400 miles apart these days.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I read lots of books in school that I loved and re-read, but none so much as this one by Annie Dillard (except maybe Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). The only thing I can say to describe why I love it so much is that maybe we are kindred spirits. She is FAR more eloquent and well-read than I will ever be, but her thought processes--the way she connects bits of information, observations, memories, etc., are familiar to me. The first piece I ever read by her was an essay called "Seeing,"--part of Pilgrim now--and I was blown away about how she connected her observations in nature with her childhood memories, art training, faith, etc. I was amazed to read about some one who thinks like I think. Or thought like I thought as a child. So this memoir of her childhood--a pretty happy childhood-- was so much fun to read. I love the things she remembers and the way they affected her adult life. Here is a review of the book from amazon:
Annie Dillard remembers. She remembers the exhilaration of whipping a snowball at a car and having it hit straight on. She remembers playing with the skin on her mother's knuckles, which "didn't snap back; it lay dead across her knuckle in a yellowish ridge." She remembers the compulsion to spend a whole afternoon (or many whole afternoons) endlessly pitching a ball at a target. In this intoxicating account of her childhood, Dillard climbs back inside her 5-, 10-, and 15-year-old selves with apparent effortlessness. The voracious young Dillard embraces headlong one fascination after another--from drawing to rocks and bugs to the French symbolists. "Everywhere, things snagged me," she writes. "The visible world turned me curious to books; the books propelled me reeling back to the world." From her parents she inherited a love of language--her mother's speech was "an endlessly interesting, swerving path"--and the understanding that "you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself," not for anyone else's approval or desire. And one would be mistaken to call the energy Dillard exhibits in An American Childhood merely youthful; "still I break up through the skin of awareness a thousand times a day," she writes, "as dolphins burst through seas, and dive again, and rise, and dive."
I am hoping to be able to remember and record some of my life experiences with half her wit and eloquence!
The only book I have read more than An American Childhood is The Book of Mormon. During my collegiate and childless days, I read it 2 or 3 times per year. Lately, it's just been once, but I always learn something new from this book. Last time (over the fall), I noticed how so many stupid little things would lead to the fall of a people or nation. Things like "costly apparel" and abundance. The Book of Mormon applies to us today in so many ways, so clearly--I am so thankful it's a part of my life.
The other part of the question--what books mean to me--well, that;s a weird one. I guess books will always be part of my life because I love to learn things. I read non-fiction almost exclusively--most fiction bores me to tears, and history and biographies have so much to teach us! I love the internet for this same reason--for all the foul content, there is a lot of informative, inspiring, interesting stuff! But reading from this screen will never have the comfort and feel of snuggling up with a good book--whether it be on my couch or bed with my "nappy"(a blanket my Gram gave me whenI left for college in 1989), or in my totally awesome jetted tub (a favorite guilty pleasure of mine--in case you ever wonder why the pages of my favorite books and mags are warped). So I pose the question to you--what are your favorite books and what do they mean to you? Answer in comments or on your own blog...
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Grandma Lyn, Willy, Mom, Me, Aunt Marti, and Grandpa Bill on or around my third birthday.
This is more like 1973--me, mom, and Willy
This is a newspaper clipping from the scrapbook my mom kept for me from birth to age 5 (most of these pix come from the scrapbook--that's why they are funny-shaped). This is probably summer 1973 in Pima...Pima is just up the road from my Dad's home town of Thatcher, home of Eastern Arizona College where we took swimming lessons (click to enlarge).
BUT! I will talk about my earliest memories and how they relate to where I lived. The place my parents lived when I was born was like a student housing trailer court on Prince Road in Tucson, if I remember correctly. I have no memory of that place or even going back to visit it later. I am sure I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house, though, and they still live in that same house, though it has been through many transformations. I’ll talk about my memories of that house, too, in chronological order.
My earliest independent memories (not induced by photographs) begin when I was about 3 years old and we lived in Pima, AZ. I remember the rough shape of our house—that is was white with brown trim, that there was a living room (sunken?) and a hallway with bedrooms (tiled?) and at the end, a bathroom with blue tile. I remember the blue tile from a memory of racing down the hall to throw up in the toilet because I didn’t want to make a mess and make my mom sad (she was probably pregnant with the twins then). I remember a kitchen/dining area behind the living room, and it had a pocket door. The pull for the door was at my eye level and it had a little round indentation for a finger, which I loved to stick my finger in. I played with the little latch a lot, too. I remember eating tomato soup there. I remember a friend named Cody whose light skin and hair were almost the same color, and a friend named Kendall whose name made me picture a candle in my mind, and a friend named Timothy whose name made me picture a small, square scribble of brown crayon.
I remember in that house, my mom used to rock me to sleep sometimes and I made her sing “The Brady Bunch” theme song and “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang” to get me to sleep (I also had the delusion that I WAS the girl on Chitty-Chitty-Bang- Bang--I was always trying to remember back to when I lived there and did all that stuff). We lived there when the twins were born and my dad moved to Idaho to work and find us a house. It was while we were living there that I began to feel an unexplained anxiety about not having my dad around, a foreshadowing of the divorce that would come two years later and turn me into the nervous wreck we all know and love today.
I remember the twins coming home to Grandma’s on Christmas Eve (Willy and I went to stay with Grandma when the twins were born, although I don’t remember that at all). Santa came and brought me The Sunshine Family dolls—an all-time favorite toy, for sure—but nothing could beat Willy and me each getting our own baby sister for Christmas. I can remember my mom’s face as she opened the door, carrying a baby, wearing a brown coat (I think). I remember I devised my own way to tell the little newborns apart—Lisa had a small round head and Laura had a square head. Funny thing is, my girls have the same heads! Addie’s was square and Heidi’s was round!
More memories to come...
Sunday, April 09, 2006
My dad’s name is James Arthur Layton (Jim). He was born November 13, 1944 in Thatcher, Arizona. He is a direct descendant of Christopher Layton (“The Great Colonizer’) and his 8th wife, Hannah Maria Septima Sims. Dad is the middle child and only son of Max Thorwald Layton and Muriel Webster. He has an older sister, Maxine, and a younger sister, Gwen, who died in 1996. Dad grew up in Thatcher, then attended the University of Arizona, where he met my mother. They lived in Tucson, then moved back to the Gila Valley briefly (Pima, AZ, near Thatcher), then to Pocatello, Idaho. Dad has lived in Pocatello for the past 30 years and has worked for Simplot most of that time in the chemical lab.
My “other” dad and legal father is James Ernest Post. He was born February 21, 1950 in Tucson, Arizona. His parents are Ernest Eugene Post and Sine Olive Scharling. He married my mom in August 1978, just before I turned 7, in the Arizona Temple. He is the third of seven children—two older sisters, Barbara and Iva, and a younger sister Dorothy, twin sisters, Jeanne and Jayne, and a baby brother, Matthew. He lived in Tucson all his life, and grew up in a house my Grandpa Post built in the Binghampton area of Tucson. He has a rich pioneer heritage, as does my Dad Layton, so I never missed out on the feeling of having something to live up to.
My stepdad, Mark Drews, was born August 26, 1952 in Akron, Ohio, to Betty and Jack Drews. He is the oldest of four children—Marty, Marsha, and Mike. He was raised Lutheran and joined the LDS church after he married my mom in 1989.
My stepmom, Becky Tew, was bornn May 16, 1954 in Firth, Idaho. (I need more info about my step parents! Leave comments and fill me in!)
Saturday, April 08, 2006
I have a list of questions to answer--one answer per entry, generally, but I would like to lay the groundwork of my family history by posting the info about my generation--our parents and children. It gets complicated, so I will post it in graph form.
This is a graph of my family of origin (CLICK TO ENLARGE). It feels much less complicated than it looks--especially since all of my siblings are really cool and we have a ton of fun when we get together.
While we're on the subject of siblings, let me list their families now (I know, I know...it keeps getting more complicated!):
Jamie (me) m. Rich Melin 2/17/2001 in the San Diego Temple; 2 daughters--Adeline (11/21/01) and Heidi (04/15/04), and we expect our third and last in September 2006 [James Ole Richard (9/5/06)].
Willy Post m. Audrey Anne Rasmussen 11/18/94 in the Arizona Temple; 3 kids--Melanie (08/06/98), Liam (01/11/01), Spencer (03/02/04), and they expect their fourth in November [Maeby Lynn Post (11/03/06)].
Laura m. Darrin Lehman 07/03/97 in Akron, Ohio; 2 sons-- Gabriel (05/10/94) and Jared (03/10/01).
Lisa (kinda complicated... div. Joe Oslin 2001(?); partner of 2 years Chris Calhoun); 2 sons--Cody (07/20/93) and Tyler (10/08/94).
Sam Layton m. Kristen Dever 12/30/2005 in the Arizona Temple; [Owen Elrey Layton (2/25/09)].
Dana Drews (div. Eric Duckett); 2 kids--Evan (10/18/00) and Leanne (01/29/03) and Lizzy (01/19/09).
Jill (Sine Jillene) m. Drew Petersen 12/19/98 in the San Diego Temple; 4 kids-- Alice (12/06/99), Isabelle (07/12/02), Jack (04/26/04), and Benjamin (11/17/05).
Matthew Post m. Amie Zauss 11/30/02 in the San Diego Temple; 2 kids--Jake(03/01/04) and Sam (02/21/06) --[Baby Sam was born on his Grandpa Post's birthday...I think that's special!].
Sara m. Rob Hamlin 09/01/01 in the San Diego Temple; 2 kids--Raef (06/20/02) and Brady (08/28/04) [and Kathlyn/K-lee (4/20/07)].
I haven't seen the kids on my Dad's side for quite a while, except my step sister Kaycee, who has a great husband and daughter, Becca, who just turned 2. I know my half brother Ryan has a son, Gavin (I think he is 5) and a daughter. My half sister Rhonda Mullins expects her 4th baby in November 2009, and Erin has Kennady and Max, and my step sister, Kelly, has 2 sons, Tyrell and Mason. They are great pals with my dad and my dad has even brought them up to visit me during our town's Summerfest. In case you're keeping a tally, that's 19 [24 now] grandkids on my mom's side or 16 [20 now] on my dad's side, or a total of 26. It's getting pretty numerous and it kind of reminds me of our Old Testament studies this year, except replace all the birthright swaps and handmaidens with divorces and adoptions!
My next entry will be about the three generations before us. I'll try to gather some photos and post them as a Sunday evening activity.