Category Archives: article

An Elf Ornament and Runner’s Holiday Granola

Miles run: 5.5 
Yippee – we can still run outside!  

There hasn’t been much cleaning or cooking around here this week.  Brynne has got me elf-crafting. Gasp.  I know.
Mothers work in mysterious ways.  Two years ago I bought supplies to make this elf ornament I saw on CloverLane.  Two years ago.  That’s kind of how I do crafts…oh!  that’s looks like so much fun…oh, the craft store is so exhausting…I’m too tired to make it now.  Let’s do it in two years…

Imagine crafty Brynne’s delight when she discovered a bag with all the supplies needed for such a project.  We wanted to share the joy.
Supplies Needed:
Crayola Air-Dry Clay
Pine Cones (preferably fat and flat-bottomed. Now you really want to make it, no?)
Colored Felt
Small Pom-Poms
Pipe Cleaner
Glue gun
(forget the feathers above, that was for another project I never made)
1.  First, roll clay to make the elf head.  I bought all of the supplies at Michael’s.  No baking necessary.  (imagine all the great things you could make out of this clay!)

Brynne rolled and rolled and let the elf heads dry overnight.

It’s so hard to wait!

2.  Draw some cute faces with sharpies

3.  Cut a wide-based triangle out of felt.  
4.  Glue-gun a string on, and continue gluing down the felt for a long line of hot glue.  Quickly fold the triangle into a little hat.  This was hard for us, but we persevered 🙂 Caution – it’s hot!

Trim hat

5.  Glue pom-pom on top

6.  Glue hat on head
7.  Glue head on top of pine cone.  Again, much easier with flat-bottomed cones.  Let dry.

8.  Cut and tie scarf around elf


9.  Cut pipe cleaner, little boots, and little mittens.  Then glue gun them together.

10.  Glue gun onto elf.  Cheese!

Because our pine cones were so long and skinny, our elves had lots of personality.

Some became superhero flying elves, some were babies wrapped in a pine cone cocoon, no arms or legs necessary.

Singing elf

This is kicker

Runner elf

Scaredy elf

Wicked elf

Brynne was so pleased and has already assigned them out to the perfect person she must give to.  I like that she made her gifts, and I have to admit, crafts…are…fun.  There, I said it.  We shall now have a section on the blog called, Don’t Call Me Crafty, with Brynne tutorials.

It’s supposed to be weekend recipe day, but as you can see, the elves won.  Never fear, if you’d like a twist on a recipe, here is a Runner’s Holiday Granola.  I submitted it quickly last week and learned that it went in both the print and web edition of the Deseret News.  The email said I should be very pleased, as space is incredibly limited in print editions, and only the highest degree of work is published.  

This made me laugh out loud thinking of the hours of time I have spent on some articles, but the granola recipe is the one that made it into real print.  I think this just goes to show, that we must stop and embrace our destiny, whatever it may be.  Mine is obviously to spread the good word of granola.
Runner’s Holiday Granola is the same recipe as Amy’s Runner’s Granola, except I added green pumpkin seeds to make it more Christmas-like.  And of course when I eat it, I add some pomegranate!

Tied up with a ribbon, the bird food is ready to deliver (something a nice elderly lady once called my gift 🙂

My Affection for the Biker

Do you like to snap pictures of random and interesting characters you come across in life?  I watched this biker dude eat ice-cream at Johnson’s, one of our favorite summer places and couldn’t resist asking for a photo.  Sometimes I try to be sneaky, but sometimes you just gotta ask if you want the right shot.  New Hampshire is full of bikers and you know what?  I’ve really grown to love that part of my summer experience.  They ride in intimidating packs, usually have a few tattoos, and a story.  My affection extended to this story, just published today with Deseret News.  It’s about my Mormon Bishop, one cool big-time biker, and one righteous dude.
When I asked the above motorcycle man for a shot, I told him I had just written an article on bikers.  He stopped and asked gruffly, “pro or against?”  Pro, of course, I told him.  “Alright then.”  And settled down on his bike.  Prancing back to our ice-cream table, Gregor continued to eat his ice-cream yum (he is now unphased by his wife) and Cope proclaimed my embarrassing moments were being taken to new heights.  Which is only one reason I will continue to pull out my camera for random and fascinating strangers that I come across in life.  Maybe you will be next.
Do you photograph with or without permission?  Peace out, dude.


The Power of Habit

My article on Duhigg was just published Here!

I am a bit obsessed with this book right now.  Charles Duhigg presents cutting edge neurological research to show how we can change our habits – actions we do on a daily basis without even thinking about them.

It adds to my other book obsession, Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself.

Before all the research and brain discoveries, we talked about strong willpower.  Add mental toughness to real and effective brain research like triggers and rewards, and I wonder – is there anything we can’t change about ourselves?  What do you think?


Anthony Shadid

Every morning my alarm goes off at 6:33 a.m.  Some days it goes off earlier so I can run around the block.  Then I shower, and while getting dressed, the alarm sounds for the second time.  Every morning at 6:33.  I have had this alarm clock since college.  Gregor hates the way it looks (very 80’s) and keeps saying we need a new sleeker one, but I look at it fondly, and think of all the days it woke me (and my roommates…sorry) up at 5:30 for a military conditioning class, a 7:00 Spanish class, 6:00 to wash my hair.  Now I keep it across the room, on the dresser, so I can see the glowing lights, but can’t reach over to whack it for ten more minutes of sleep.

The alarm is not set to that annoying beep, rather, the news.  It is often the only news report I get during the day.  Sometimes I am barely conscious, slipping in and out of dreamland as the BBC reports on Syria, an author interview, or the latest middle east peace talks.  Other times I wake immediately, curious to hear The Book of Mormon musical review, Obama’s speech on tax cuts, Mitt Romney’s latest problem, Whitney Houston.  If it makes it to the weather I know we’re in trouble.  The weather report means it’s 7 and the quiet napping house turns into a hullabaloo as we have to jump out of bed, shove something that’s called breakfast in our mouths, and hurry children out to the door for school.  We all too often hear the weather.

Today I listened to sad news.  New York Times journalist and pulitzer prize winning photographer, Anthony Shadid, 43, died as he was carried over the border into Turkey by one of his colleagues.  They were out on assignment.  Shadid died of an asthma attack and couldn’t be revived.  Sad, that they were on their way out.  Sad that is was asthma and he may have been saved had he had medical care.  Sad for the world, as he wasn’t one of those celebrity-chasing paparazzi.  He was brilliant, poetic, and truth-seeking.  He was shot in the shoulder on one assignment, captured and abused in Libya, then later rescued by British forces.  Out he went, again and again, all over the world on assignment.  I love that phrase, “Out on assignment.”  It’s scary business.  So completely admirable.

I often dream of traveling to foreign lands to report and write a story.  I even looked at an opening last month, a job posting for a foreign correspondant intern.  You’d live on nothing, in a dingy apartment, reporting on the volatile mideast, staying up all night waiting the latest scoop, in fear for your life.  And yet, so appealing!  But I could never leave my children to do that.  I’m doing the job I wanted most.  For now, I can only read about others doing it for us, and subscribe to National Geographic, thanking those journalists and photographers that show me Sudan, Egypt, and France.

There are some people, I believe, who were born to do something very specific.  Like Marie Curie, Einstein, Motzart, Lincoln.  Most of us though, can choose to do any number of things, pulled in directions that highlight our talents, our obsessions, and especially our weaknesses.

I am reading about the butterfly effect, a scientific theory, and an oft-used fiction device.  In Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63, Jake goes back in time to stop the assassination of President Kennedy.  But it’s incredibly difficult.  The past, he says, is obdurate:  stubbornly persistant, resistant to change.  If he changes one thing, or if he changes the past too early, even if he thinks it’s for the good, how does that change the future?  Will his good intentions actually make things worse?  If President Kennedy had lived, would we have had Vietnam?  How does one single person change history?  We all do it.

Do you ever wonder who you are raising?  Will your little toddler grow up to be the homeless man on the corner?  The neurosurgeon?  The lawyer?  Teacher?  An absent or devoted father?  Mother?  Artist?  Will your children be depressed?  Organized?  Hyper?  If we had better mothers and fathers, we wouldn’t need journalists covering wars.  The little things really are the big things.

From Wikipedia:  “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.”

Fate versus agency.  What is “meant to be,” and what is completely determined by our own choices?  I believe in accidents but I also believe God intervenes.  But not all the time.  Is anyone ever taken before it’s time for them to go?

I did not know Anthony Shadid, did not know if he was a good husband or father, but he was a great journalist and I look forward to reading his memoir that comes out next month, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.  A great title.  Home.  Family.  The most important stuff.  NPR has a great article here.  

Flap your wings, your little butterfly wings.  And change the world.


What Made Ben Kingsley A Great Actor?

1)  It’s not a small thing to be married for 38 years.  Congratulations and humble thanks to my mother and father who have made it this far together.  My mother was 19 when they married, and one year later she had twin babies.  13 months later my sister was born.  I was four when my brother Eric was born, and seven when my brother Patrick came.  I used to carry him everywhere, like a mother cat carries her kitten in her mouth.  Once a photographer took a picture of me with him on my lap as I rode a big wheel all the way around our long neighborhood block.  He was less than a year old. Once we had a blind babysitter.  Oh my, times have changed.  But my parent’s are still married.

2)  Since I’m a big fan of Ben Kingsley, I really enjoyed this article I saw in Newsweek the other day.  A reminder:  Don’t be average.  Whatever you are or do, go beyond what you think you have.

3)  My article written for Deseret News was featured as a front page rotater (clap hands and do happy dance now). Thanks for reading, fb friends!  The front picture was taken by Gregor.  It shows me walking down the hill with Nelson in the stroller and Cope as a 4-year-old.  Oh sweet days.

I got the assignment yesterday morning and lucky for me, Paige had a playdate.  I set up a tea party, sprinted back to the computer to make sure ‘shot heard round the world’ was actually a revolutionary war reference and not Abraham Lincoln, and back to tea party to clean up milk and sing happy birthday.  It was grand and exhilerating.

4.  My son just called telling me he beat his sister in the spelling bee.  We shall be kind and sweet to one another, won’t we, son?  Yes mother, he replied.
5.  Began watching Downton Abby last night with the girls. I’m actually hoping we have a snow day tomorrow so the girls and I can finish it.
6.  Snow?  Rumor has it we may finally get some!
7.  Since I have it in my head that there will be little January-February running, I moaned and groaned when I got a text to go out.  Without any snow or ice, it was hard to say, No, I’m feeling wimpy.  I don’t want to get up and run.  I’ve always been too anxious to please so I said yes, of course.  Man it was so hard to get out of bed at 4:30. But the moon was so bright we hardly needed our headlamps on the road.  Upon finishing, the moon was still bright and so was my mood.  Endorphins abound!  Good thing I have a running buddy to make me move.
8.  Lindsey tells me that now that I have shown on-line disapproval of my former addiction to a certain Bachelor show on television, I can’t go back on my word.  I did not watch on Monday but what if I ask you about Ben, say, in the grocery store?  Will you give me the dirt?
9.  I was told I can get scouts updates and announcements if I follow the pack on Twitter.  No. I refuse. I can’t do twitter.  It’s too much!  
10.  I must go take a walk with my darling now.  Before the storm arrives.  But tomorrow we shall snuggle.

1000 a Day

I was called out on assignment the other day – not to write the article, but to photograph it.  Yikes.  I’m not the great photographer, but I was excited about this one.
Heather Makechnie, all things extraordinaire, was writing an article on the National Guard.  After listening to them speak, I had a hundred more questions to ask.  I was so impressed.  These young men regularly work 60 hours a week, training, traveling, and performing military honors for our veterans.  They estimate that nationally, 1000 veterans are dying each day.  Just this day, they had four funerals to perform military honors at.  Even though it’s a fact of life, I find this to be sad; it’s easier to forget, easy start taking our cushy lives for granted.
These young men enlisted at age 18, 21, 20.  They are all from New Hampshire.  They chose the army as a career.  At any moment they can be called into active duty.  Some have served in Afghanistan already.  They were so polite, a striking contrast to many young men their age.

Performing a military funeral to present the flag.
They see everything at funerals – family members fighting over who gets the flag, kids kicking them to get their attention, a 10-year-old boy receiving a flag in remembrance of his father.  Never do they break composure.  They train constantly to be at their best, 40 hours minimum to perform military honors.  They keep watch over each other, making sure the smallest details are in place, like when one saw a small white string hanging off the others’ glove.  Check.
Men in uniform salute

What they wear when not in full military dress.

The entrance to the military veterans cemetery in Boscawen. I blogged about it back here.

My traveling companion

I loved this assignment.  Merry Christmas to all our veterans, and all those serving.  I am grateful.

before you cross that street

I suppose we are all hypocrites.  We often say one thing and then do another.  We pass judgment all the time based on personal experiences, rumors, assumptions, clothing, cars, houses, and the way people behave.  But do we judge correctly?

We have to judge.  We have to make decisions based on information that we have.  But we should make sure we have the right information.  Do we see things the way they really are?  Is our perception the right perception?

Examples this week:

1.  A Southern Evangelical Christian Pastor called my religion a “cult” and said that I was not Christian. To make matters worse he did it on national t.v., tried to explain it (poorly) to Anderson Cooper (who, in my opinion, is such a class act), and then told his congregation who they should vote for in the upcoming political election.

This is frustrating to me.  My whole life I’ve gotten some very interesting questions.  Do you use electricity? Do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you believe in the Bible?  The answer to all of those questions is YES.  I like questions!  I like when people ask instead of assume.  What I don’t like is snap judgments that are so far off they’re laughable.  What isn’t laughable is when other people believe them.

For the record, “Mormon” is a nickname given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Click on the link. Watch some great talks.  Want a Book of Mormon?  It’s not a secret book. You can check it out from the library.  I can give you one.  You can read it yourself.  You can click Here to see frequently asked questions.

If you wanted to learn more about the Jewish people, wouldn’t you, say, visit a synagogue or ask a Jewish person what they believe?  Seriously.

2.  On a smaller scale, yesterday Cope had a soccer game.  From her perspective, a girl tripped her, fell on top of her, then rammed her knee into her shin.  The other girl’s mother’s perspective was very different.  She screamed for everyone to “take a knee!”  Then she leaned down toward a little boy, looked at Cope and loudly declared, “Did you see that mean Andover girl?  She tripped your sister who was very brave and got up and walked across the soccer field.”  tsk tsk.

Photo courtesy of Becky Walsh!

Who was right?

I know my daughter.  She is not a mean person, certainly not a violent person and in fact, we are often telling her to be more aggressive and less timid on the soccer field.  Am I seeing this situation correctly?  I know I’m competitive.   I love a good game.  I love to win.

Even if we all watched the replay, would we see what really happened or would we see only what we wanted to see?

3.  This morning the alarm went off, waking me with cheery news:  An Iranian terrorist group was arrested for plotting to blow up a Saudi diplomat in an American restaurant.

Wow.  How does a group, a people, individuals, get to the point where their perspective is so extreme they are willing to kill others?

Perhaps I am just a pacifist.  I don’t like fighting.  I like people to be nice.

The great thing about life is agency.  We can all act for ourselves.  We all have a brain.  We can all think for ourselves.  That preacher, that soccer mom, that Iranian, this blogger – we’re all entitled to our own opinions.  We all have different things we believe in.  This is good.  It makes life interesting.  It forces us to learn about other people and then decide for ourselves.

Be passionate.  Stand up for the things you believe in!  But lift others, carry them with you.  Don’t chew them up and spit them out just so you can get ahead.

When I was little my parents taught me how to cross a street:  Slow down.  Stop.  Look both ways.  Then cross.  Let us be careful…for it has been said in the preeminent Christian text, that with what judgment we judge others, the same judgment will be used against us.

Lynn G. Robbins said, “The Savior often denounced those who did without being – calling them hypocrites:  ‘This people honoureth me with their lips, bur their heart is far from me’ (Mark 7:6).  To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not – a pretender.”


Who Are You Pacing?

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

          -William James

Today was my half-marathon in Bristol New Hampshire, the site of the one and only full marathon I have run, and the race that convinced me that I’d never run another!  Guess what?  It was awesome and I’ll be back next year.  The half is the race for me.  The training is manageable and works for my life right now.

I haven’t run a half for a year, not since Applefest, when I totally bonked.  I lucked out:  it was cool and raining, my favorite kind of day to run.

I ran the way I wanted too.  I ran the pace I wanted and felt happy in the end.  It is such a great feeling to prepare and see the preparation pay off.  I walked (limped) away feeling inspired and wanting to run more halfs, to train more, so I can get faster.  And that’s a great way to walk away from a race.

Here’s what I like most about running:  When I’m out there on the road, it’s quiet and I can think.  Thoughts come into my head that remind me that God gave me a body that can move, can RUN, and can teach me many many things.  It reminds me of the famous Eric Liddell telling his sister, I believe God made me for a reason, but he also made me fast.  And when I run I feel his pleasure.

Running is so mental.  Today I cleared away any angst, and I just ran.  There were two guys ahead of me; Red shirt man was about 100 feet ahead, White shirt man was about 30 feet ahead.  I said, keep them in sight.  They are your pacers.

Every so often a new man would emerge:  Blue shirt man would come from behind, his feet hitting heavy on the ground, pass me on the right, then rest for awhile while I passed.  Then we would repeat this cycle a couple more times.  I think he was just trying to confuse me.  But I kept my eyes on the prize.

I tried to keep Red shirt and White shirt in sight at all times.  They were holding steady paces.  I never let myself start to slow.  I kept saying, Hold that pace!  Which is kindof like, duh, of course you hold the pace, but have you ever really tried to do it?  It really helped me.  You do not allow yourself to go any slower than the pace you want to run.  You get in your groove and you hold it.  You make your body get in that steady rhythm and not let up.

As we approached the last three miles, the pace started to pick up.  I stayed with my guys.  Hold the pace.  Speed up and relax on the downhills.  My friend Brian rocked the race with a 6:40 pace and was the one who convinced me to sign up saying, “It’s a net down hill, a few short hills and the rest is downhill.”  I kept thinking, “You totally lied, Brian!  Here comes another hill!”  But I digress…

We came into the last mile and I knew I could finish, but suddenly Red shirt man was taking off and White shirt man stopped!  Oh dear!  Keep going! he yelled at me as he rubbed his calf.  I felt bad for White shirt guy.  He had this race…was so close and had brought me to the finish line.  I never saw him again.  I never saw Red shirt guy either but was grateful for one thing:  They paced me the entire race.  Don’t stop, don’t give up! I wanted to keep saying, I’m right behind you and I need you right there ahead of me!

We are all pacers.  We don’t even know the people we are leading and inspiring.  People everywhere are looking for someone to follow, something to believe in.  People everywhere are watching us, observing our actions.

I didn’t look behind me in the race, but I wondered…Am I pacing anyone back there?

I thought of my children in this race.  I am leading them.  I am pacing them through life.  I can’t quit.  I can’t pull over to the side of the road and say, “I’m sorry.  I can’t do this.” I have to finish this race for them.

I thought of when I was child and life was more simple, when I was unaware that there was such a thing as a social status.  I just wanted to be happy and have a family and friends that loved me.  I was less concerned with what others thought of me – if they liked me.  I think that was when I was the most liked, when I didn’t care so much.

Somewhere along the line, we become aware of the opinions of others.  This isn’t entirely bad; we need to be socially aware to a point.  But I remember in 2nd grade a boy sneered at me, “Why are you wearing your pants backwards?” I looked down.  I was not wearing them backwards, but there was a pocket in front and they kindof looked backwards.  And I almost switched them around just because he said that.  I’m watching my kids now.  Their peers hold great power over them.  But I want to whisper in their ears…They are looking at you…they need a pacer too…Be the one…

Look behind you.  You are a pacer for someone else.  Maybe it’s one person, maybe it’s millions.  But someone is watching and following.  Look ahead of you.  Make sure that person ahead is the right pacer, that they’re going to where you want to get to.

Make sure you are running the right race.


It’s Good to Fail

One of the fun events our elementary school has is the yearly, “Andover Idol.”
We have judges and everything.  It’s for middle school only, 6th-8th.

Cope did her thing.  After literally months of deliberation, she passed on hip-hop, rock, or diva-ville.  She sang a song she’s been singing since she was three:  “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” from the Phantom of the Opera.
I was so nervous my palms were sweating.  But I knew she was in trouble when the only thing I could hear coming out of the speakers was Christine.  No one had specified whether or not to bring just the music or not, so she just brought the CD.  Everyone who brought a CD with the words had the same trouble – you could only hear the original artist.  But Cope didn’t know we couldn’t hear her.  She sang her heart out.

And waited for the results

There were some great acts.  Michael Jackson, some rap, breakdancing, some Taylor Swift.  Not many kids did it – it’s hard to get up in front of the entire school!  Not only that, but you’re judged.

The results were tallied.  I was worried for Cope.  3rd place was called and it wasn’t her.  She clapped hard.  2nd place was called and it wasn’t her.  She clapped harder.  I could see the anticipation on her face.  And then 1st place was called.  And it wasn’t her.  It was an 8th grader with a great voice and winner for the second year in a row.
My heart hurt for her.  She wanted it so bad.  I gave her a hug, she smiled a bit, and went back to class.  After school she got off the bus and didn’t speak for two hours.  Then she cried for the next two.
And here’s the background:  Singing is Cope’s thing.  She was the loudest baby, had lungs that proved themselves during her three months of colic.  She sang everything, loved The Little Mermaid.  She would perch on rocks and sing, not ever caring who was watching.  Then she loved Annie and transformed into an orphan.  She sang in church, she sang at home, she sang at school and was often told to “STOP SINGING!”  She discovered Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Cats.

She’s been watching Andover Idol since kindergarten and for the last two years has been plotting the song choice.  In the fall Gregor and I went through every song on our ipods.  She tried out Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Gloria Gainer.  Nothing.  But boy was she confident.  She was going to be the girl who beat last year’s winner.  Her name was going to be on the plaque in the hallway – three years straight!
And so, on that fateful day, when she didn’t get what she wanted, when she failed, she fell apart.  Her confidence was badly shaken.  “I don’t feel like I have anything anymore,” she said.  She questioned her whole identity.  It didn’t help when the Nellie Olson in her life turned to her right after the results and said, “It’s about time someone burst your bubble!”  Ouch.  
For days she moped.  
And then one day, she began to sing again.  And a few days after that, we talked about Andover Idol and bringing the right CD with just the music.  And a few days later she began planning the song she’d sing next year.  And even then, doing everything just right, she might not win.
This was Cope’s first real experience with failing.  And I knew how she felt.  Because I’ve been there.
I was very lucky to have success early in life.  I was able to run. I won a lot of races and those successes carried me a long ways.  It felt so good to be good at something.  It didn’t give me more “worth” but it made me feel really good about myself.
In high school I quit the thing I was good at so I could try out for cheerleading. (yeah well…) I’m kindof surprised now, that my parents let me do that, or at least didn’t try to dissuade me more.  I knew they were disappointed, but they let me make my own choice.  I tried out and guess what?  I didn’t make it.  And this was such an important thing to me.  At my high school, you really wanted to be a cheerleader.  A varsity cheerleader called as I sat by the phone and said, “Sorry.”  The other varsity cheerleaders picked up my cheer partner and she went through initiation (in retrospect, it was a very good thing I was not a cheerleader…however…) and I sat home while she got vaseline rubbed in her hair and came to school the next day with marker all over her arms.  Glowing.  And I stood by my locker and said, “Congratulations.”
I was in student council all through school but when I ran my sophomore year?  I didn’t win.  “It was a really close race,” they said again over the phone.  “Sorry.”  I hung up the phone and thought, “When will I win?”
I got my act together later, turned back to running in college but by that time the chances of me running on a college team were much slimmer.  I began training with a girl on the cross-country team.  We got up early in the mornings to run.  And in Rexburg Idaho, that’s a cold time to run.  And it was hard.  I had an interview with the coach.  He invited me back for a try-out.  I trained on my own all summer.  I was ready.  My parents took me up a week early.  There wasn’t a question whether or not I’d make it. When it came to running, I always made it.  The first run was good and I stayed with the pack.  I was on top of the world.  The next morning at 5:30 a.m. in the pitch black I made my final attempt.  But I was freezing, my legs were off, my time was a minute too slow.  And I failed.  I remember the look on my father’s face.  He was surprised too.
The point is, I guess, is that everyone fails.  I’m still failing at things, not getting everything that I want. That’s hard, but it’s even harder to watch my children fail.  I didn’t know how to help Cope.  I knew deep down, that this was a good experience, that it was good to experience failure early, and learn from it.  But it is so hard to watch.  And of course I still loved her.  She was still the same Cope.  She still had “worth.” Her failure had nothing to do with her value, even though she felt like it did.  
Interesting to me, when I look back on all my failures, all my broken hearts, I wouldn’t change any of it.  In retrospect, it was good for me because I learned something from each experience.  Some of my heart aches were my fault and some were just the way the cookie crumbled, but it has helped me, all of it.
I’ve learned a few things in the last few years and one of them is this:  Every single person on earth has worth because he/she is a child of God.  That’s no excuse to be lazy. To feel good about ourselves, we have to experience success.  And we won’t see success unless we fail every once in awhile.  And that’s why we, why are our children, should do hard things.  They should fail.  We should let them.
I’ve seen people climb under rocks after failing.  I’ve seen people never crawl back out.  That is sad.  We all have weakness.  This is good.  Weakness gives us humility, it makes us ask for help, work with others, it helps us empathize, it helps us want to be better.  The great thing is, our weaknesses can become our strengths.  I love that!  What’s it gonna take?  10,000 hours?  Repetitive motions?  More failures?  Tiger mothers?
One of my favorite speeches is by J.K. Rowling when she addressed the graduating class of Harvard a few years ago.  As poor as it was possible to be without being homeless, she realized she had a wonderful daughter, a typewriter, and an idea.  Have you heard of Harry Potter?
Youtube her speech.  It will inspire you.  “You might never fail on the scale I did, but it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.  You will never know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.  Such knowledge is a true gift, for it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.”
There are things we must not fail at:  We must be good wives and husbands.  We must be kind to others.  We must be good mothers and fathers.  We must try our best.  And what is our best?  It’s more than we think we have.
I’m just at the beginning of motherhood really.  The heartaches will only be more poignant and more important.  The choices my children make will start to have long-lasting consequences.  Are we ready?
So Cope, someday you will read this and you will know what it’s like to fail.  You will know what a broken heart feels like.  Adversity will show you what you’re made of.  J.K. is one of your personal heroes…learn from her words.  She is right.  That knowledge is a gift because it is painfully won.  With each “failure” and disappointment,  you will know how proud I am of you.  Because you’re the type of person who will get back up.  
Failure is a good thing.