Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a winter painting

Here is a little winter painting I wanted to share with you. I happen to be a huge fan of the art work of Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw's. They (father & son) have a long history with Disney Art and animation and in my opinion, their pieces possess a rare and simple magic. They have a way of painting what feel like hidden moments, moments that make you think you've caught Winnie and Tigger on an ordinary afternoon romping in the snow. This "ordinary" moment is made extraordinary by the gift it offers to my imagination. Here, my beloveds of old are slowly & happily wandering through the woods, it looks so natural, so dear, so probable to my imagination, as if they have always done this. I love the power of this image, it's as if my imagination is opened up and the little molly inside me is waving at my old friends in the woods, wondering just what they will do next.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I work at Barnes & Noble. It's three days until Christmas. Today, a customer asked me, "You guys busy today?" . . . the fact that I didn't completely offend him with the look on my face is a Christmas miracle. Could he not look around? Could he not visibly see all the misplaced piles of books, calendars and cards? The crowded store filled with wet and frantic customers? The HUGE stack of book lights I was holding and trying to get around him to put away? The frazzled look on every employees face? - I don't know why he said it, I tend to dismiss a lot of the customers I encounter as just not quite having it all together, like the lady who did not realize that we have an "up-stairs" despite the fact that she was standing beside the escalator. Yet I am called to love these people, to serve them and be kind to them by not only my boss, but by my own personal convictions and by my darling Lord. It bothers me that at Christmas time we celebrate Jesus coming to the earth out of His love for us and that I struggle so much to love others in relatively simple ways. 
 While no one yelled at me today, should I use that as my measurement of the days success? No, it's true that people are crazy, well, a lot of them are crazy and if the crazy ones yell at me they were probably planning on doing so when they walked in and not in actual response to something I did. However, I forget to look back on my day and reflect on how well I helped people, if I even did well at all. Shouldn't that be my focus? The fact is that I have two days of madness left at the bookstore frightens me. It is constant chaos as seeming busloads of people shove themselves through our doors and crowd the aisles. However, these two days give  me 16 more hours of opportunity to relax in the chaos, to look people in the eye, assist them, go above and beyond, and put the book they need in their hand. 
I work in a great place where we sell information, experiences of all kinds, wisdom and help. How many places sell things like that? Yes, we also sell things like the "Fart Book" (which is actually our No. 1 employee recommended seller - how's that for a heart-breaker?),  but I like to overlook that aspect of the store and just laugh at the fact that silly people like my mom would get a kick out of a farting book. It's just more proof that there really is a book for everyone.
But to get on with it, I am pledging here with you as my witness, that I will share the themes of Christmas to the very best of my ability with my customers over these next two days. The themes: Joy, family, cheer and the Good News that Linus is so good to remind us of.
So if you come into  Barnes & Noble on these last two shopping days before Christmas and find me, I will do my best to help you and leave you happy that you came in. I want others to feel Christmas in my attitude, see it in my eyes, and hear it in my tone and carefully thought out words. I will report back on how it all goes and relax tonight in the glow of my Christmas tree and the knowledge that no grinchy customer can snatch away the True Meaning of Christmas - and you know how I love meaning.

And in order to ensure a great experience for us both, here are just a few tips I wish I could give to every shopper (you don't have to read this, it just helps me vent really):*It helps when you know the title or even just the author of the book you are looking for. Clues or hints like, "the book was blue," or "there was a girl on the cover" are not helpful. *As you shop be kind to the employees just in case they really are trying to help you. *If you are treated badly by an employee, try and understand that it may be because they were just treated badly - there are grinches in this world and while they won't ruin Christmas, they may ruin an hour or two of work time. *Don't ask us to shop for you. *Finally, and for heaven's sake, please do not stop us in the midst of the chaos to ask if we are busy! 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

thank goodness for "however"s

I woke up this morning and did NOT want to go to church. While I was lying in bed contemplating my options I received a text message from a dear friend inviting Bryce and I to lunch after church. I also did NOT want to go to lunch. My lack of desire to do anything was most likely the result of a full & busy retail work week combined with the after-effects of a fabulous work party I attended the night before. I love people but they exhaust me and I had quite simply filled my need to socialize and was left wallowing in my introvertedness. Thus, I politely declined the invite saying I wasn't feeling well and continued laying in bed trying justify my desires to remain there.
However, - and thank goodness for "however"s! - my dear husband was up early, ready to go to church and sweetly asking me to go with him. So I got up, put my darling new boots on and husband in hand we headed out into the rain. To make a "short story long" as my boss likes to say, a friend of Bryce's met us at church to check it out and see if it would be a good fit for her. Appropriately, her name is Precious. The service was great (made better by some chocolate chip cookies I snuck in - I love being an "adult") and it was wonderful to see some dearly missed faces and all the regular but beloved ones as well. During the service I received a texted response to my earlier declination saying that some spicy curry and pomegranate martinis were just the thing to make me feel better and we should still do lunch - she was right and I happily gave in.
Thai food is not something I go out of my way to eat but Precious was excited and she gave me the courage to go and taste. Our dear friends, a married couple we had done junior high ministry with some years back were our benevolent hosts . Making sure that we had enough food and pomegranate martinis, we were entertained with countless stories ranging from hilarious to heartbreaking - that kind of thing happens when one of your hosts is a hospice worker and a crazy New Zealander (I think the "zeal" part really carried over). We ended up staying at the restaurant until 3 o'clock thoroughly enjoying the company. It was truly a God-given and God-orchestrated series of events that, pathetically, I was completely willing to go without when I woke up this morning.
Today was just another instance where I came so close to missing out on huge blessings. It reminds me that life is a string of constant opportunity and that I am too often afraid to reach my hand into the bag of blessings and experiences that God holds open to me. In going to church and lunch I learned about people, I built relationships, I enjoyed fellowship and I loved them.  Once again God spared me from waste and gave me far more than I ever could have thought I wanted.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


 Just so everyone of you knows, Disneyland is absolutely perfect right now. I went yesterday and was overwhelmed by the beauty, richness and vibrant tradition that seemed to magically and seamlessly permeate every inch of Main Street - my favorite place in the park. Just the visual experience was intoxicating and caught the rest of my senses in a tremulous, frenzied effort of trying to see and capture every speck of my surroundings. From the towering, glittering tree to the tiny ornaments within the warmly lit shops I could hardly restrain myself from grabbing arm-fulls of classic Disney ornaments and stockings to take home and amaze Bryce with. Lucky man, I spared him.   

We did however, this week indulge ourselves in the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.   

I first began reading the Harry Potter books my freshman year of college and have been addicted ever since. The depths of my fandom include attending all the midnight showings that occurred after my reading of the books, enrollment in a Harry Potter class offered at CSULB - yes, it's real AND we were sorted into houses, so when I say I was in Gryffindor, I actually mean it. I also successfully converted my husband into a true Harry Potter fanatic. He re-read book 7 with me in anticipation and excitement over the new movie and he lovingly put the batteries in my holly and phoenix-feather wand so that the tip of it would light up.  

Yes, he loves me and we love Harry Potter.  

 If you haven't read the books yet, I would highly encourage you to do so. The story is so powerful, so gripping, so sad and so full of love. From the second this seventh movie started I was in tears, dreading the losses that this book encounters. - I should mention that I frequently cry in movies, but I like to think that the movies I cry in are worthy of my tears. My favorite movie is Little Women (with Winona Ryder), I watched it recently but it had been a while since my last view and for whatever sentimental reasons I spent almost the entire movie with tears pouring out of my eyes or choked up to where I couldn't speak. ANYWAY, back to Harry . . .   

The movie was fantastic, it presented the moments of heart break and emotion with such sublimity and power that it felt, or at least I reacted the same as if I were back home,sitting on my bed with candles lit around me reading the actual paper pages of the book. I loved the movie, go see it - I believe that if you have not read the books yet this movie may push you to. I know they are children's books, that they're a fad, that they are full of wizard and witches - but I promise that if you give them a chance you will encounter a story that channels the powers of good and evil with almost perfect purity and agony. It is quite simply, a fantastic story and why would anyone turn that down?   

To give you a snippet, here is one of my favorite quotes from Dumbledore,   
"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"  

Now, go and think about that concept and then go and buy the books.   


Monday, November 8, 2010

oh! the places you'll work

When I was in high school I took a career test to see where I would work someday. My result: Mortuary. This was not all that odd to me since my father is and always has been a mortician (although now he is far more important and doesn't get to embalm as much as he'd like - I know - anyways . . .). Little did I actually think that career test would have such prescient knowledge but here I am, working at a mortuary.
To be accurate, I work at a bookstore and at a mortuary. I love books and selling these precious page-filled-friends of mine to young aspiring, or aged and avid readers brings me tremendous joy. It's a great job but strangely, the mortuary is always where I would rather be. There I am in contact with death, with grief, with the most uncomfortable and ignored emotions on the planet. It is a remarkable place where perspective hits a little too hard at times, but perspective is a huge gift. Yes, there are funerals that no one attends, where I am left wondering if they just lived too long or if they lived the wrong way. But then there are those funerals where everyone is smiling, celebrating, and united in the joy of their shared relationship with a singular and wonderful person. It inspires me and I love it. It is an incredible process to observe and one that you and I will go through.
Isn't that scary?
It scares me, but we forget that it faces everyone, that your family will die and that you will die. That is a piece of the perspective but let me share the rest with you: you see, death is the poetic opposite to life. As we approach or experience death, we are stunned by the importance and bursting flavors life holds. Death is a perspective in itself - and one that most people have not grown up with as the children of morticians do. The most important aspect that I have seen death illuminate is our relationship with God. I've seen many funerals void of God and therefore, void of hope. Those funerals are the most excruciating and painful to watch as no one is able to point to love, prayer, grace, God's faithfulness or meaning in their lives.
I've found Heaven to be a place of great comfort as I live this life. It sounds rather odd that it comforts me so already, but not when we recognize God's poetic perfection and His design where death inspires us to live.

I hope you found this meaning-full.


Friday, November 5, 2010

what do I mean?

I am starting this blog in the hope that I can reach others who share my interest in this life. I am interested in many different and difficult aspects of the human spirit and find literature a remarkable source for learning and gaining insight into myself and my fellow people.

If you are curious about what other topics will likely come up on here, behold (one of my favorite words!) the list below:

Books: more classics than anything else
Shakespeare I am writing my master thesis on Hamlet, therefore, I expect Shakespeare's genius to make an appearance rather regularly.
Quotes: I love profound words, they make for excellent conversation, will make you sound more intelligent, and will hopefully even, dare I hope, inspire you.
Death: I work at a mortuary, so this is a prominent part of my life and I have learned more from death than I yet realize.
Irony: I am of the opinion that life is a perfect irony, perhaps death has a great deal to do with that, but it exposes itself everywhere in both beautiful and tragic ways. I hope to track down moments of irony and share them here as they almost always present a reason  to laugh or the need to stop.
Meaning: I love listening to music, particularly that of Coldplay (my very favorite band) and finding myself struck by personal insight, by truth, and by deep meaning. This happens whenever I am able to immerse myself in something truly wonderful, it is why I am obsessed with Shakespeare and the books of old, they hold meanings and beauties that do not age.

I hope your interest is piqued and that as I learn from the past and present, we are able to learn together. I am getting really excited about this project and seeing what new meanings emerge!