Friday, December 29, 2017

All She Wants for Christmas

On November 9, 2017 Clara lost her the final front tooth.  They had both been barely hanging on for severla weeks.  After about a month with no front teeth, we went to Grandma Carter's work Christmas party where she was able to sit on Santa's lap.  She told Santa that she would like her two front teeth back for Christmas.

While we were at the cabin for New Year's, I happened to notice this!!

Looks like Santa did bring her what she wanted for Christmas.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful 13 5K

On Thanksgiving Day, I ran Thankful 13's 5K with my friend, Anna.  It was a beautiful morning.  I was able to set a new personal record for myself with this 5K.  I also came in 4th for my age group.  It helps that I turned 40 one month prior.

A picture of me at 2.5 miles.


Anna and I post race

Oh, look!  We're so strong...

And talented... haha!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

3 Good Things – A Gratitude Journal Experience Inspired by The Happiness Advantage (REPOST)

Several months ago I wrote a post on my company blog.  Since it is more personal in nature, I've decided to post it here on my blog as well.  You can find the original post, here.
Gratitude Journal, Happiness Advantage, The Happiness Project, Shawn Achor, Good Things, Things to be grateful for, Good things in life, Data-Driven Marketing
Recently I finished reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  A couple of the main points I took from the reading were, “…happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result” and “… success orbits around happiness, not the other way around.”  Although individually we may define success in different terms, it is likely that we all search for and desire success and happiness in some form.  Achor outlines a high number of tools and principles we may use to attain more happiness, but I want to focus on one of the best, gratitude.
“Countless … studies have shown that consistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely.”

Practicing Gratitude

How do we begin to practice gratitude in our everyday lives, especially if the practice seems foreign, awkward, fake or difficult?  Achor suggests starting with a daily list of “three good things.”  Take a few minutes each day to either write down or vocalize three good things about your day.
Why does this help?  Achor explains:
“When you write down a list of “three good things” that happened that day, your brain will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives—things that brought small or large laughs, feelings of accomplishment at work, a strengthened connection with family, a glimmer of hope for the future. In just five minutes a day, this trains the brain to become more skilled at noticing and focusing on possibilities for personal and professional growth, and seizing opportunities to act on them. At the same time, because we can only focus on so much at once, our brains push out those small annoyances and frustrations that used to loom large into the background, even out of our visual field entirely.”
When I began making the “good things list” part of my day, I noted that a lot of my “good things” revolved around food.  I like to eat!  Some days “good things” came to mind with ease and some days it was all about food or beautiful weather or a warm shower and a cozy bed.  Once, on a particularly stress-filled day, I couldn’t help but be grateful for a beautiful sunset as I drove home from the office.

Making Gratitude Part of Everyday Life

I began to practice my list-making with my husband and children – sometimes in the evening during our meal, or while bustling around the kitchen preparing to start our day. Occasionally, I vocalized “good things” one-on-one with my children while driving them to activities or with my husband over our weekly lunch date.  At first, I found it necessary to force myself into talking about good things from my day, but as time went on, it came more naturally to me.
Do I always have extremely positive days as a result?  No, I’m still an average human with highs and lows, stresses and accomplishments, frustrations and rewards.  Some days are better than others, to be certain.  But through this practice of gratitude-pattern building, I have found that in every situation and in everyday moments, there is always something good to be found.  Even if it happens to be the giant burger, I will eat for lunch!
I invite you to begin the practice of listing at least 3 good things from each day.  Create a habit of completing this practice while doing another daily task.  List your positives while showering, during your commute, while eating dinner, before opening your email at the office, or as you prepare breakfast.  Choose a time of day that works for you and either write down or verbally vocalize specific items, people, and moments that you appreciated in the last 24 hours.
I’d love to hear how you’ve implemented this practice and your thoughts on its effectiveness in your life.  What changes have you noticed in your attitude?  Have you seen changes in those around you? Have you shared this practice with others and encouraged them to begin?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fun Times at ANS in 2017

I figured I'd post some pictures from work since I do spend quite a bit of time there.  I work for +American Name Services and lead the marketing team.  We work hard, but try to have as much fun as possible while getting the work done.

These pictures are very random and cover a timeframe from January 2017 to present.

Lindsey, Ashley, me and Josh on a walk to the park for a break.

That one time the marketing team stuffed envelopes and sent out 700 calendars. Josh, me, Lindsey, Michael and David

A sales/marketing meeting. David was gone this day and we wanted to show him that we started the meeting on time, when he wasn't there.  We always seem to start meetings late and he is very punctual.  I sent him this picture in a text to let him know that his punctuality is what makes us late.  Me, Lindsey, Michael, Kreg, Whitney and Patti

A topless Jeep is the best way to get to a company picnic!  On our way to South Fork up Provo Canyon.  Me, Ashley, Lindsey, Michael and David

Jill and Patti at our picnic.

At the company picnic. Dani, Jen, Ritch and Stephanie

Dallin at the company picnic.

Lindsey, Ashley, Kreg, Natsumi, Nicole, Michael and David - he can never be normal for pictures...

Coworkers and I have been compiling a very tongue-in-cheek "Boss Book" for nearly 10 years.  This year we decided that it needed to be updated.  This picture adorns one of its pages.  I am contemplating life while kicked back at my boss' desk.

A normal picture would be very boring.  We used this picture to recruit new hires for the marketing team.  David, Michael, Lindsey and I

Sometimes we get dressed up and network a little.  Lindsey and I went to a red-carpet function celebrating women in business.

At the office we really like food.  Almost all activities, celebrations or really any reason we can think of, involves food.  The spread for one of our morning activities.

The one time I accidentally found myself outside David's house.

Brawn and I enjoying flavored sodas for a company-wide Friday activity.

Stephanie, Jen and Natsumi during the Friday soda activity

Thursday, October 12, 2017

5 P's of Scripture Study - What Works for Me

I meant to post this in September of 2015, but apparently, I forgot about it in my drafts.  Oops!!

A number of months ago, I was asked to talk to the young women in my ward and give them tips and ideas for making their scripture study more effective.  I might have stressed just a little bit about it, but I think that my point came across and I know at least a couple of the girls were motivated to start reading and studying their scriptures, so I'll call that a success!

So, here are Wendy's 5 P's of Scripture Study

1. Priority
Scripture study doesn't happen by accident.  It takes making a conscious decision to start.
Elder Bednar has said "We make time for what really matters.  We all have all the time there is.  So if we don't pray and study the scriptures, we just didn't think it was important.  Something else was more important."
My biggest tip here is to find something that motivates you.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you what that is for you.  For me, it is colored pencils, pens and markers, a new notebook and stickers and post-its. I love the idea of using new pens and markers to highlight and write ideas.  Maybe your motivation is to study before allowing yourself to turn on electronics.  It could be a new set of scriptures, or maybe a special treat for studying so many days in a row.  Whatever it is, figure it out and make it work for you.

2. Prepare & Pray
Remove distractions.  You cannot study and feel the spirit if you are listening to music that does not invite the spirit.  You will not learn and grow if you read the scriptures while watching television. You will gain greater insights if you are not answering texts or checking your social media accounts every couple of minutes.  Turn off the music and the television and put your phone in another room.

Gather supplies.  Before you sit down to study, gather everything you think you will need including your scriptures, reference materials (Personal Progress book, Preach My Gospel, True to the Faith, etc...), marking pens and pencils.  Whatever you plan to use to study, gather it before you start.

Create a routine.  Try to set up a specific time and place that you will always study.  Creating a habit will help you be consistent and you will already have what you need to get started.

What method of study will you use?
  • Chapter to chapter study
  • Topic study
  • Study based on Personal Progress/Preach My Gospel
  • Studying lesson materials beforehand
Once you've removed distractions, gathered your supplies, and decided what to study, say a prayer.  Ask Heavenly Father to help you understand what you are reading.  Ask to have your mind and heart open to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Our Heavenly Father did not send us down here to figure this all out on our own.  He has and will provide every opportunity for our growth and understanding. However, he will not force us to do anything.  He will never take away our agency.  Therefore, we must be the ones to ask for help to understand his words and his doctrine.  The way we do this is through sincere prayer and then acting on our prayer by studying.
 3 Nephi 18:20 Anwhatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
2 Nephi 32:4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
3. Piece it Out
Look up definitions of words you don't understand and then substitute the word and read it again.
Look up and read the footnotes.
Look up other scriptures having to do with the same topic.
Search for the scripture and read talks that have referenced the scripture.

When studying, I suggest the following method but use whatever works for you.

First, read through the entire section you are going to read that day.  Quickly highlighting verses or passages that stand out to you.

Some people like to use certain colors to represent different gospel topics.  If that works for you, do it.  Unfortunately, I find that too rigid.  I prefer to highlight ideas or topics that go together in one color and use a different color for another topic, idea or thought.  I try not to duplicate colors on the same page unless the passages are related.  These colors are completely random and change daily. 

Now go back and further mark key words, verses or passages in further detail.  I do this several different ways.
  • circling or boxing around words in a color and then writing, in the same color, the definition or a thought about that word in the margins.
  • put a circle or box around the verse number to signify importance.
  • draw arrows to direct attention.
  • putting brackets [  ]  or parenthesis (  ) around phrases, again writing in the same color in the margins.
  • underlining words and phrases that you already highlighted to distinguish them as key phrases to the whole idea that you highlighted in the first place.
  • draw lines across pages or verses to connect ideas or to draw patterns and parallels.
  • watch for list or steps and number them in your scriptures.
  • write page titles.
  • draw a squiggly line under key-words or phrases to set those apart from your highlighting or other marks.
  • draw lines down the sides of sections of verses that all tie together.
Ask yourself questions while you are reading.
  • What is ________?
  • How do I get ____________?
  • What are the blessings/consequences of __________?
  • Why is this important?
  • What can I learn from __________'s experience?
If you are having difficulty understanding a subject, thought or idea, try this exercise.  
  1. Get a blank piece of paper and write the subject, thought or idea at the top. 
  2. Next, separate the page into five columns.
  3. Ask yourself: What does ________ look like?  Write your ideas in the 1st column
  4. Ask yourself: What does ________ feel like, emotionally? Write your ideas in the 2nd column
  5. Ask yourself: What does ________ feel like, spiritually?  Write your ideas in the 3rd column
  6. Ask yourself: What does ________ sound like?  Write your ideas in the 4th column
  7. Ask yourself: What are the results (fruits) of ________?  Write your ideas in the 5th column
4. Ponder & Practice
The most important thing about reading and studying the scriptures is what the spirit whispers to you while you're reading.  Write down these thoughts and feelings even if they don't seem clear right then. Most often connections will be made and your thoughts will become more clear the more you study and understand.
  • write in your scriptures
  • create a blog and write about your thoughts and what you're studying
  • use LDS gospel library notes and tags and marking tools
  • teach what you are learning to someone else - FHE or a church lesson or to a friend
Watch for opportunities in everyday life that tie back to what you are reading.
  • How can I change my thoughts and actions based on what I am reading?
  • How does this apply to me and in what ways can I apply these teachings in my life?
5. Patience & Persistence
We are looking for spiritual nutrition, not mind candy or scriptural carb overload.  The difference between reading the scriptures and studying is taking time to ponder and think about what you are reading.  It also means trying to apply what you are reading to your own life.  Real understanding usually doesn't come when trying to cover multiple chapters in one session.

Anything worth having requires effort on our part.  It also takes time, so be patient with yourself and keep at it!  If you get distracted, recommit yourself and start again.

One of the hardest steps is getting started or knowing where to start.  My advice to youth who are having a hard time knowing how to begin a study habit is to look to the materials already compiled for them.  These topic-based study guides can be found within:

So, what do you do when you feel stuck on a topic?  What if you don't feel excited about what you're studying? Or you don't feel like you are gaining understanding?

The great thing about the gospel is there are many things to study and learn about.  If you are bored or a certain topic, choose another to study for a while.  You can always come back to the other topic at a later time.  Perhaps going away from the topic for a time will give you understanding in another area that will relate back to the previous topic.

If you do feel stuck, use the resources available to you.
  • Search  Sure it seems like a no-brainer, but a talk, scripture, song or video may guide you to ideas and thoughts that will help.
  • Ask a trusted parent, a Young Men or Young Women leader, a Sunday School teacher, or a member of the bishopric.
  • Above all, continue studying and praying for understanding.  The further light and knowledge you seek will come!
A word of caution!  I have to stress not using Google when looking for help.  There are so many 'wolves in sheep's clothing" websites out there.  Sites that appear to support the teachings of the church when, in reality, they only raise issues or concerns about doctrines, teachings and church leaders.  Be wise with where you get information and who is giving it to you.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

My Baby Turns 7

How did such a thing happen?

It seems that just yesterday this little one came into our lives.

We made her a yellow cake with rainbow sprinkle frosting, as requested.

She got a new scooter from Grandpa and Grandma Carter.

She was very excited to ride it to school.

For over a year, Clara has been asking for an orange ukulele. She first saw one while we were buying Jared new strings for his guitar.  I figured she was too young last year and would forget about it, but not so!  She was patient and was so excited to get it for her birthday this year.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cedar City Half Marathon 2017

A couple of my friends had run the Cedar City Half Marathon the past few years and have really liked it.  So I decided to give it a go this year.

The morning of the run started out very rainy and I was a little worried that we would be running the whole half in the rain.  Sha and I huddled under a shared garbage bag at the start-line.

Just as the sun started coming up, the rain let off a little.  Anna, Sha and I were ready to go.

Sha and I coming into the finish line.

hahaha!  We are not very coordinated while we run!

All done!

This was a fantastic race.  Very well organized and a beautiful course. I'll definitely consider it again.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Follow Me, I Know a Shortcut - A Running Story

I enjoy running. No really, I do!  I also love my friends, so it should come as no surprise that I love running with my friends.  After running with my friends I am cleansed.  I feel supported, heard and understood.  I guess I should also mention that I feel great because I've just exercised, too.

This morning we tried a new running route.  Sha boldly declared, "I know where we're going and there is a road that will connect us back with the main road if we go this way."  Like good little sheep, Anna and I followed her.

To make a long story short, we ended up trudging through a thicket of trees and spent a half mile running on abandoned train tracks.

It was a great time!  We definitely didn't end up where we thought we would, but I enjoyed every minute!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

AFS Lagoon Day 2017

Associated Food's Lagoon Day is a day our family looks forward to every year.  So grateful that we get to take part in such a fun tradition with my mom.

Rod and I went on a couple of rides together and like the good big brother he is, he attempted to get my soaked.

This year Clara was tall enough to ride some of the big rides.  We were very proud of her for going on Colossus and Wicked!

Mom, me, Nathan, Rod and Jennie

I spent a good portion of time riding puke-inducing rides with these two cuties.

Isaac, Ethan and Cole

Cass, Rissa and Amelia

My brothers, Rodney and Shane with Nathan

All of the cousins that came - L to R: Ethan, Jared, Marissa, Logan (our family friend), Kiley, Isaac, Clara, Cole, Cody, Cassidy and Amelia

Calling it a night!  We had a ton of fun, but we are tired and ready to go home... well, at least Nathan and I were ready.


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