Monday, March 26, 2012


"Some people have mental retardation (intellectual disabilities). While mental retardation is not a bad word, when used to describe someone or something you think is bad or stupid it becomes another thoughtless hurtful word. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not bad. Their condition is not bad. The prejudice and discrimination to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is bad... and wrong! Please stop using the word 'retard'. It hurts individuals and families of those with disabilities." - The "r" Word Campaign

This word is way over-used. I am so tired of hearing it. I find it highly offensive. I do not have a mental handicap, nor does anyone in my immediate family. However, I know a number of people who do have mental retardation. I could write pages and pages on how each of these people I know are wonderful people. I remember as a young kid, I had many friends of different races and different abilities. I had no idea that they were any different from me. I look back now and can think of a number of friends of mine who probably to this day struggle with some kind of social problem or mental disability. One had crossed eyes and her speech was somewhat off. Another did not do well in school work, was such a silly wild girl and was made fun of sometimes for that, and had some physical problems. But when we were kids, we were friends, and that was all that mattered. I did not notice their flaws until I was older and became more aware.
But these people had such a special a place in my heart as my friends, that by the time I became aware, it didn't matter.

When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to work with the severely handicapped youth in the school. Most of these kids were wheel-chair bound, and if they were not, they often needed someone to hold their arm and help guide them across the classroom/hallway. My gym class period was at the same time as their gym class was. My coach asked for volunteers who would like to spend Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week doing exercises with these kids.
I worked with a girl named Emily. To this day I don't know what she had, what she had been through, or anything. I knew she was fed with a feeding tube in her stomach, was not verbal, had surgery on her legs about a year before, and was working on being able to stand up and walk again. So when she was not in a chair, she was in something similar to a hand trolley. We would strap her into it, and she would get to stand in it, with some weight going into her legs to help build up strength. We would take her out of the stand and she would face one of us (a fellow teacher or myself), grabbing our arms, and would concentrate on moving her legs. It was difficult and painful, we could tell. But the encouragement we gave her, and the smile on her face when she made five shuffled steps was so exciting to all of us.
When we weren't doing walking exercises, I would wheel her around in her standing trolley, running around, spinning in circles, playing stop and go games. She would laugh and scream the whole time, waving her arms in pure glee. And when we were done, to show me she liked me, she would grab my glasses as quick as she could and throw them across the room, then hit me on top of the head, point and laugh, and then just stand there and smile.
If she didn't like you, she wouldn't look at you, acknowledge you, or anything.
She hit me a lot, and I was really glad I had sturdy glasses.

I remember on the last day that we got to meet, I told her this would be my last day working with her. She kept insisting we do the running game. After a while, she had me stop and come face her. She put her hands on my hands, and moved them up my arm, like she would sometimes do. She likes to touch. She kept moving her hands up my arms, and then pulled me to her until her arms were completely around me. I wrapped my arms around her and she smiled.
Just a hug. So simple, but probably the sweetest one I have ever received in my life.

When I hear people get frustrated about something a person said, or something they have to do, and refer to such negative things as "retarded", it hurts me. It really does. I know it's completely thoughtless, what they're saying, and their intentions are not to hurt. But thinking about what you are saying is so important.

I am out of words. Please just think.


There is a lot of negativity in the world today. We all have our down days, we all lose our grip sometimes. But the real problem comes when we don't actively seek out ways to minimize the negativity.
A few posts ago I wrote a little free-lance poetry on "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
I feel like living that way is a start. But do we all want to just sit around at the starting point for the rest of our lives? I know I don't. I want to get somewhere. I want to make some accomplishments.
So it's time to get going.
Today, while walking across campus, I started doing something I did for a year in high school. As I looked at people, instead of letting whatever is currently stressing me out feed me negative thoughts, I would look at them, think "they are a child of God, too", and then find something nice about the way they look, or something they're doing.
Living in an environment with so many girls, it is so easy to become so judgmental of others, and yourself. I have caught myself doing this, and am determined to stop it.

It's a small step forward, and I know different challenges will arise from attempting this (thinking something nice about a person who is not dressed appropriately for being on campus....), but I figure a step forward is a step forward, no matter how small of a step you end up taking.

So what say you? Want to take a challenge with me? Try to find something good about every person you meet, bump into, pass by, etc. Let a good thought be your first thought.

But don't be fake. Be honest with yourself. Please, please, please don't be fake.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today looked interesting. It looked potentially appealing, perhaps risky, and there was no telling how it would turn out. So I took a slow, deep, heavy bite.
Surprise!! It was sour.
The taste was shocking at first, but I am familiar with this taste, so I scrunched up, and just let myself endure it. I kept working my way through, just hoping every second that it would get better.
I took my first swallow, hoping to relieve some of the discomfort. It helped, but there was still some strong sour taste remaining. 

I kept taking some hard swallows, until all that was left was a bitter aftertaste.
Came home, washed the taste out of my mouth in the form of a hot bubble bath, a lotion rub-down, music, and scripture reading.

Despite how sour it was, it wasn't the worst thing I have ever tasted. And it wasn't quite sour enough to make my eyes water, so I consider that to be a bonus for today. I could take another bite if I needed to. Though if I take too many in a row, that may cause some watery eyes and too much of a bitter taste for me to handle.
I have a whole plate of life sitting in front of me. Chances are, I will be taking plenty more bites from the sour stuff. It's the getting used to it, and maybe even learning to look forward to eating it, that is the tricky part.

I love analogies.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


In twenty days, I will be home. Twenty days from right this very moment, I will be home. I cannot really express just how excited I am to go home. To see my family, my dogs, Nick. To see Dubuque. It is going to be warm. There will be green leaves, grass, and a multitude of flowers blossoming. It will be lovely, even if it's foggy and rainy the whole time I'm there. I don't care, I will be home.

I'm so excited to see my parents and each of my siblings. Molly and Kevin, Sally, Grace, Oliver. I miss them so much.
I'm excited to hug my dogs again. Hoover the lab and Tango the brat.
And I am so, so, so excited to see Nick. Be with the man who has been such a wonderful, loving friend. I can't wait to see him and spend time with him.

These next three weeks are going to be so busy and full. I'm more than ready to take them on, because the more work I do each day, the quicker the hours pass by, which means the sooner the next day will be here, which means another day down, which means I'm that much closer to going back to Iowa. Even if only for 10 days. That is still 10 days of being with the people I love. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012


If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

If you can't think of something nice to say, you aren't thinking the way the Lord would have you think.

If you aren't thinking the way the Lord would have you think, you can't possibly know everything about everything.

If you can't know everything about everything, you must be human.

If you are human, you must have weaknesses.

If you have weaknesses, others must have them, too.

If others have weaknesses, you should try to understand.

If you try to understand, you must try to be kind.

If you try to be kind, you could say something nice.

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

- by Laura Priest, © 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012


To any followers in the Utah area...

I am going to be playing in the Tabernacle on March 10th. The BYU-I Symphony Orchestra and BYU-I Collegiate Choir will be performing a brand new oratorio written by K. Newell Dayley titled "Bring Forth My Zion". It is going to be spectacular! Tickets are free, but you need one to get in. You can get a ticket by following the link above the photo.