Are the things you’re learning in life transforming who you are becoming?

Today’s writing prompt had to do with growth. I cannot remember what exactly it said, but it made me think about some things I have done and learned throughout my life, so I thought I would write about my thoughts on that subject today. We should be learning every day, and I have had the opportunity to have a lot of growing experiences throughout my life. But I am grateful for a few that I have been more keenly aware of recently.

Watching others, and seeing what they are capable of, especially family and close friends has had a transformative effect on my life. Years ago I watched as several family members and close friends started running as a means of exercise, and then they started doing races. I had thought about taking up running, but my cardiovascular system wasn’t super great at the time. Not that I was sick or anything, I just didn’t have a lot of endurance. I exercised every day, and I even did a lot of cardio, but running was hard. But as I watched these friends and family members break through their own personal barriers, I decided that maybe I could try a little harder as well. As I progressed, I hit a lot of mental barriers, but as I pressed on, I broke through those barriers. Most of my barriers were mental rather than physical, and I learned how to press past the desire to quit. This mental training has had a huge impact on my drive to learn new things and break through walls I have come upon in every other aspect of my life over the years.

The next thing I thought about was when I decided to start a website. I had no idea how to do it, but the commercials on TV all said it wasn’t hard and that they would walk you through the process step by step, so how hard could it be? I started with a different company and just a blog. But soon decided I wanted an ecommerce website, so I switched to WordPress. It didn’t take long before I realized this was going to be harder than I had imagined. I had points at which I wanted to quit, and points at which I cried and didn’t feel like I was smart enough to make this work. I have looked back on this however as a pivotal moment in my growth and transformation.

Having completed this website building process, as well as having changed my website now several times, I have gained additional confidence in my ability to not only do hard things, but to persevere through the desire to quit, the thoughts of incapacity or failure, and was able to finish the job well. The mental training from running being a huge asset to my ability to keep going. Looking back, I am grateful for the things I learned, not only about websites, but about myself. Because of the things I continued to learned about myself, I have had confidence to try even more things in my life, that I otherwise may have shied away from had I not gone through these experiences first.

Not too long ago I was looking through a bunch of my original art, looking for art to donate to a local fundraiser for my community. As I looked through the originals, some of them from when I first started painting, I could see a huge difference from the beginning to now. As I looked through my art, I wondered at what I saw in the first paintings that gave me confidence to even try selling my art. But I, or others who saw my art, saw something encouraging, and I persevered. I have had many paintings that I wanted to throw away half way through the process, and I have had a few that I have actually thrown away in the end, but not too many. Because of what I have learned in other areas of my life, I have learned to trust the process and to keep going. Not everything in life turns out as a masterpiece, but regardless, transformation occurs and we can learn from the process. I am grateful I can see the progress I have made as an artist over the years, and it’s fun to have such a visual representation of that growth.

This last one I’ll share may sound funny, and I wrote about it not so long ago. Making sourdough bread. I have wanted to learn how to make sourdough for years, and in 2020 I decided it was time to really start learning. As I related before, I did not have immediate success, and I stopped trying for a time, but I didn’t give up on the desire or totally quit. I learned more, I found new resources that helped me, and I tried again. The third attempt was the successful one. Sometimes I wonder where my life would be if I always gave up or quit after the first or second failed attempt. I did set it aside for a time, I continued to look for resources and information, and I kept it on the back burner of my mind. It took 2 years of this process, but I finally did make a successful loaf of sourdough bread, and we continue to enjoy the fruits of my learning process on a daily basis.

I love the quote above, because nothing I have done has been earth shattering to anyone else. Most of this stuff is pretty ordinary in nature, but the lessons I have learned and continue to learn, continue to change who I am and make me a better, more determined person. The transformation process will never be complete in this life, and I know we will have opportunity to continue the process in the next. I am grateful I am learning how to keep going, keep trying, and that I can succeed, eventually.


Sometimes service is not what we expect, and sometimes it’s hard, especially when we have a bad attitude.

This morning when I got home from Seminary I was super tired. I didn’t sleep really well so I laid down and took a nap for 45 minutes. When I woke up my husband asked me if I wanted to go to town with him and how long it would take me to get ready if I wanted to go. We are preparing to either turn his mom’s house into an Airbnb or sell it, so there are a few things that need to be fixed. He was going to look at a new shower surround for the bathroom as well as other bathroom fixtures and flooring, and wanted my input.

I told him it would be about 45 minutes and he said that would work. I went into the kitchen to make a sourdough focaccia and to then eat breakfast. I was trying to hurry because I knew he wanted to leave sooner than later. Just as I was almost done putting the ingredients in the bowl, a neighbor, who tends to need a fair amount of help, came to the door. I am the one who ends up helping all the time, even though my husband is capable, and sometimes more equipped to help than I am. This morning was no exception as the person came into the kitchen to wait for me rather than talk to my husband. I then felt like I needed to hurry even faster.

As I was finishing up the ingredients in the sourdough, I reached across the bowl and knocked it off the scale and tipped it over. Nothing was mixed together yet and the water in the bottom sloshed all the ingredients out onto the counter, down the front of the cabinet and all over the floor. I stood there momentarily and decided to just leave it and help the neighbor. It took about 20 minutes to help the neighbor and then I proceeded to clean the kitchen. My husband walked in as I was cleaning the kitchen and asked me if I was about ready to go. I am grateful to say that I did not bite his head off at that point in time even though I kind of really wanted to. However I did inform him that now I had to clean the kitchen and I still had to eat breakfast and get dressed.

I told him if he wanted to head out that was fine with me, at that point in time I was slightly frustrated with him because he did not help with the neighbor and he did not help me clean up the mess. But I guess he really wanted my input, so he waited until I was ready to go. After I finish cleaning up the mess and threw out my sourdough, I sat down to eat my breakfast. I started to say my prayers and expressed my frustration to my Heavenly Father. I asked him why I was the one that had to help the neighbor all the time. At that point in time the answer that came was not what I had expected. He helped me realize that this was my opportunity to serve somebody besides my family for a while. I don’t mind doing service, in fact I really enjoy it, but I hadn’t yet viewed what I was doing for this neighbor as service.

This week in the New Testament we have been studying about how we serve and our motivation for serving. I realized that often times I find it easy to serve when it’s something I want to do to serve. Dealing with the neighbor on an almost daily basis was not something I wanted to do most of the time, it was always at an inconvenient time, and often the problems that needed to be dealt with persisted over the course of days or weeks. But that person needs help, and for the most part, even if it takes time, it is in small manageable pieces of time. I was reminded that service often requires a sacrifice of time and energy, and that my attitude and irritations made it harder for me to help.

I saw this person a little bit differently, and decided I needed to change my attitude as well as my perspective on this subject. I have found myself recently, especially as we have been reading the Sermon on the Mount, reflecting on how I can try to do better and serve others. I hadn’t even looked at current situations, but was looking for an “easy” service project, possibly something that might even come with a thank you or appreciation in some way from someone. I don’t normally like to be in the spotlight, or even be noticed, so this realization came as a bit of a shock to me. This morning was frustrating to say the least, but I have learned some things about myself that need to be changed, and I learned to see someone else just a little bit differently. I hope I can remember what I learned today (that’s one of the reasons I’m sharing it here, then I can look back and remember), and that I can go forward with new eyes to see and a heart more willing and able to help everyone, not just the easy convenient ones.


When I was in middle school one of the field trips, they did was a ski trip to Brian Head Ski Resort. I went when I was in 6th grade and kind of learned to ski. The next year they did it for the school, and then again for kids on the school honor society, so I got to go twice. I learned a little bit more, but still not great. In eighth grade I got to go twice again. In high school I had a friend who loved to downhill ski, and her family had a small cabin near one of the slopes at Brian Head, so I went with her a couple of times. I have decided however that I never went skiing near enough. I never became super comfortable with much more than the bunny hill. However, I did enjoy getting out and trying, knowing that I was skiing for the enjoyment of others as I sped down the hills and crashed, most often under the chairlift for all to see! But I always enjoyed going, and fortunately never got seriously injured.

When I came to Alaska I learned about a different kind of skiing, cross country skiing. This seemed to be more my speed as there was no speed involved. My husband bought me skis when I first arrived here, and I tried it out a couple of times but never really got the intricacies of how to cross country ski efficiently but did enjoy the little bit I did. But when my kids were in Elementary School, they had an afterschool cross country ski club. This is where I also learned to cross country ski. Several winters in a row I had the opportunity to ski as it was open to any parents who wanted to help out. Even when the ski club was over a bunch of us would get together and ski with our kids. I learned to really enjoy cross country skiing.

We have had a good covering of snow this year so far, and today it is snowing heavily. I thought it looked like it might finally be deep enough to cover all the little bushes in our swamp so that we could easily ski around our swamp. I asked my older son if he wanted to, and he excitedly said yes! At that point however I got apprehensive. It had been a year since I skied last, and I only skied a couple of times last year, so I felt out of practice. But my son wouldn’t let me back out, so we headed out with my daughter’s dog bouncing all around, excited that we were outside playing in the snow with her!

Once we got going, I was so glad he had insisted I not back out. I love being outside and this was just what I needed today. Looking out the window at the snow falling, drinking hot chocolate is always nice, and having a day or two like that once in a while is great. But once in a while it’s great to get out and enjoy the snow as well. I came back in this afternoon feeling refreshed and exhilarated, and I got to enjoy my cup of hot chocolate as well! I am grateful for the beauty that each season brings, and grateful for the beautiful place I have to enjoy every day! I am also grateful to enjoy different outdoor activities, even when I’m not super comfortable with my abilities to participate. Sometimes it’s better to just get out, make mistakes, and enjoy yourself anyway.


I know I have talked a little bit about this subject in the past, but I am always impressed when I see it in action and so I am again going to talk about it in a little more detail today. It is amazing to me how many people believe that success is limited, and that if someone else succeeds that somehow makes it less likely that they will succeed. Because of this thinking often we see people sabotage each other trying to increase their chances, or simply not helping each other when they could, preferring to watch others struggle thinking we are somehow getting ahead in the meantime.

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch quite the opposite. My sons participated in a bouldering competition on Saturday afternoon in Fairbanks. Bouldering is climbing without ropes, no more than 15 feet high, with large mats underneath to catch you when you fall, because you will fall, even if you complete the route. My boys have become quite good rock climbers and participated for the first time in the most competitive division available – the men’s advanced division. This is the only division that has a finals round, the rest just total points and hand out awards based on those points.

Prior to the finals however, there are 10 routes in this particular competition with a 2-hour timeframe to complete and/or attempt all 10. There are points for different positions on the route, this is determined by the gym. They all start at 5 points a few holds from the beginning, some have several points in between, in 5-point increments, this particular competition just had the 5 points in the middle and 10 if you completed the route. There is a lot of excitement in the air as the competition begins and people start climbing all over the gym. There is no particular order, but it becomes apparent fairly quickly which routes are the easier ones and which are the harder ones. The climbers mark their scores on an honor system which is way different than any other sport I’ve watched.

Sitting back and watching however, there is a unity in the air. Everyone knows they are competing to make it to the finals, but that doesn’t prevent anyone from helping or cheering on their competitors. You are not allowed to give advice to a climber when they’re on the wall, but before or after a climb you can discuss, and there is never a shortage of discussion. More experienced climbers take time to visit with new climbers, giving advice and suggestions how to hold holds, where to put your feet, and lots of technique options. Climbers who are obviously going to make it to finals and compete with each other will stop and talk about different routes, different techniques, and ultimately, when they’re on the walls, they cheer each other on. I watched this as one of my sons climbed to the last hold of one of the hardest routes in the gym, and as he was about to the last hold the entire gym stopped to watch, and yell and cheer. It was amazing to see all these people, previously strangers, unified in their desire for someone else to succeed. I saw that happen over and over again with climbers all around the gym. All the climbers experienced the highs and lows of each other together. Again, amazing to experience.

Success is not a limited commodity. Any and every one of us has the opportunity to succeed based upon our work and effort put forward to do so. We may not all succeed in the same ways, but we often aren’t looking for the same things. Some want money and things while others want minimal possessions and more experiences, and then there’s everyone else in between as well. But we can all cheer each other on all along the way, knowing that by supporting each other we don’t reduce or limit our ability to succeed, but we increase ours and everyone else’s chances of success as well. I am grateful for the rock-climbing community that my boys are a part of and what they have taught me about success as well as how to support each other in all situations.


This morning was a bit of a drizzly morning, well, that’s an understatement. We have had another 1.2 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. The first part of our summer was uncharacteristically warm for Alaska, and this last half hasn’t been uncharacteristically wet, it’s usually wet in the August, September, and into October before it snows, but it’s usually just light rain and periods of sunny days all mixed in. Lately it’s been just dark and gray. The leaves are gone off the trees, and it’s been pretty dreary and colorless almost all day every day.

But there have been bright patches here and there and today was one of those bright patches. The sun came out this afternoon! It is cool outside and a bit breezy, so you need a jacket, but it’s been beautiful, and sometimes I don’t realize how much I miss that beautiful, bright ball of fire in the sky until it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. We cannot control the weather however, so sometimes we need to create a little bit of sunshine when none can be seen outside.

This week as been such a week. I have noticed the older my kids get and the more they can do on their own, like driving the places they need to be, and doing a lot more to take care of themselves, the less I have to do as a mom. This is such a great thing in the whole grand scheme of things, but in some ways, I miss all those schedules, the driving, the time spent together. This week I found myself at home alone for the majority of the week. It’s funny how all I wanted when my kids were growing up was to have a little bit of time by myself, and now I have more than I would care for sometimes. This is when I started to notice the lack of sunshine, I think, and also when I realized sometimes, I have to create those bright spots in my life even when the sun isn’t shining.

At first this time caused me to start having a bit of anxiety, but then, as I prayed for help in navigating this new phase, I was reminded of the opportunities to set goals and the things that I’ve wanted to get done for a long time but haven’t had the time. So, on Monday, I set some goals. I was able to start painting more, get the house not only straightened up, but get some of the deep cleaning done that I haven’t been able to get done, and get some things ready for local vendors and markets as well as find some Christmas markets to participate in for the next couple months. I have also had time to do more printing, sewing and just general catchup. The sun outside hasn’t been shining all week, well, it has but it’s been behind the clouds, but as I started to see what could be done my outlook brightened and my anxiety diminished.

The other morning when I took my daughter’s dog for a walk, because she was at work already, I was reminded that even though a lot of days are rainy, and even though a lot of days are mundane and can seem gray, there is always beauty somewhere in my days, actually there is a lot of beauty in many parts of my days, and I just have to slow down, sometimes pray to see, and then look around and see the beauty that is always there, and then do things to create the sunshine when I can’t actually see it shining.