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.


It is the week before school starts, and it has been a very busy week. I again missed Friday; I suspect that might be the case for a few more weeks as we get things going and get back into our routine. Last minute registrations at different schools, counseling appointments, vet visits and trying to get my products restocked in the local stores has been exhausting lately. But it’s been good, and we were able to work through everything, no matter how frustrating and daunting it has seemed at times, and I think, I really think we are about ready for the school year, except school clothes shopping, which is going to have to happen after school starts.

I have been thinking this morning about growth, personal growth. This week with all the pull in so many directions, I have neglected my scripture study a couple of days and I can tell it makes a difference in my day. I find myself more frustrated with smaller things, and I find myself being more judgmental of others who also are doing the best they can, but sometimes come across as really judgmental as well. But I have also had several people be exceptionally patient with all my questions, repeat questions because I forgot, and tons of help working through the paperwork that needed to be done and I am super grateful for the time they gave to me and their patience.

This morning as I was finally studying again, I listened to a conference talk about having clean hands and a pure heart, and that you can have one without the other. Clean hands are often easier because it is the outward presentation, but pure hearts are sometimes harder as no one else can see our hearts except God. I was thinking about my week, and about the condition of my heart this week and decided sometimes it was where it was supposed to be, but probably more often than I would care to admit it was not where it should have been. But this morning, I am grateful for the reset, not only from the conference talk I listened to, but because it is the Sabbath day, because I get to go to Church, partake of the Sacrament, renew my covenants with my Heavenly Father, and I get to start over and try to do better this coming week.

Through all this I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, the one that has really influenced my life in positive ways. I think I have shared it here before, but I’ll share it again anyway because it is a good reminder for me, and you might like the reminder as well. It is by Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may just never be enough;

Give the world the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it’s all between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

The last two lines are in my window above my sink so that I read them every day. It is a great reminder that no matter what I do, and who I become, it is always between me and God, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. This week though, I have been thinking about my judgements of others, I guess flipping the perspective. My opinion of others doesn’t affect them in the whole grand scheme of things, who they are is between them and God. But it does affect my heart in a negative manner when I judge them, and it can affect their lives if I treat them poorly because of that judgement. I want to have a pure heart. I am grateful for the reminder, and to see my favorite quote from a new angle. I will be pondering and trying to internalize this different perspective this week so that I can strive to be kind, do good, build, be honest and frank, and everything else along with all that in my own life better. But more importantly, seeing others striving, helping them, being kinder and more patient with their progress. I think part of having a pure heart is sincerely helping others succeed along their paths as well, and I am going to try harder to do that.


I have had two experiences recently that have reminded me how much of an impact seemingly small and simple acts of kindness can have a huge impact on other people. The first one came about because I was really trying hard to see other people. Do you ever go through life with blinders on? I tend to do that all the time. After I leave a situation, I see so many different courses that I could have, and usually should have taken, to help someone, or make someone else’s life a little bit brighter or better. And, as this first experience illustrates, sometimes when you think you’re helping someone else, often you are the one that has been given the help you may not have even known you needed.

I was in the Michael’s store in Wasilla one afternoon. I was in a bit of a hurry trying to get kids picked up from school. As I was walking through the store toward the checkout counter a man stopped me and asked if I worked there. I told him I was sorry, that I didn’t. He said OK and continued on. I almost left it at that but felt like I should see what he needed. I stopped him and asked what he was looking for. He told me and I directed him to the part of the store that I felt like was the best place to start looking. He thanked me for the help, and we parted ways. As I was approaching the next open register in the front of the store, I heard someone waiting in line loudly say, “Thank you ma’am, I found it!” I turned around and it was the man I had helped.

Now, at first, this might look like I really did something great for him. But in the end, I walked out of the store a little lighter, not because I had stopped to help him, but because of the gratitude that he showed me so vibrantly, never even worried about the onlookers, simply grateful. What I did to help him took less than thirty seconds to do, and his sincere expression of gratitude took less than 10 seconds, but that moment has affected my life in a positive way ever since. It has been three weeks, and every time I think of this experience I smile. I am grateful that I had the impression to stop and help, but more grateful for the man who turned it around and made the rest of my day a much brighter one.

The second experience happened at a Stake youth activity for my Church. Just a brief rundown of the organization of my Church – we have the worldwide Church, with the prophet as the head. This is separated into areas, then into Stakes, and then into Wards. My Ward is the Willow Ward, we are part of the Wasilla Alaska Stake, which consists of 9 Wards. The youth in the Wards occasionally meet together to participate in Stake activities, which are fun because there are a lot more youth to get to know and hang out with. This particular Saturday evening was a Stake Dance. I had driven my youngest son in because my older son was not able to attend that particular dance. The dances are three hours, and I had planned on getting some business stuff done on my computer, as well as digitizing some art. I was excited for the uninterrupted time and was prepared to utilize it in what I thought was the best way possible.

As I was sitting in the car, I watched youth come in and out of the Stake Center. The dance is usually hot, so they step outside to cool off and then head back in. Many of the youth from my Ward had wandered out and back in, and several had seen me and waved. About an hour before the dance was to end, several of the Young Women came out, not unusual, but then they headed straight for my car. I rolled down the window, and they asked me if I was ever going to come into the dance. They said the party couldn’t start until I got in there. I initially laughed because I thought they were just joking around, but they were serious. I got out of the car and went in. It was a great time watching the youth, I even participated in a line dance or two. I thought I was utilizing my time the best way possible, but these youth helped me to relax and see beyond myself, and to have fun with the amazing youth of my Stake.

I often go through life not seeing people, and quite often hoping nobody notices me. Not because I don’t want to be seen, but because I am a bit awkward. But that night, those young women had not only seen me, but they invited me to come in and have fun with them. I was so impressed by their courage to come find me, and so grateful for their willingness to invite me. This experience also makes me smile every time I think about it. It has also reminded me of the importance of inviting courageously, regardless of the outcome. You never know who needs to be seen or thanked, heard or loved in any given day, but courage to act, and kindness to everyone we come in contact with can change lives. I know, because my life has been changed through these two experiences, as well as the many other acts of kindness I have been the recipient of through the years.


It’s interesting thinking about our eyes. I remember when I was younger, my husband would talk about how his eyesight was getting worse. I used to laugh … I am not laughing now! I have noticed that just in the last year my ability to see things close up is getting worse. I can still see quite far into the distance just like always, but I have to hold things away from my face to see them clearly. But eyesight can be very interesting and can differ from one person to the next. We see the world in a specific way, based upon years of acquiring information. We then interpret that information that is brought in by our eyes so that we can see and understand the world around us.

As I have been watching the world around me the last few years, I feel like I sometimes see things a little differently than other people do, in fact recently I feel like I see things much differently. Definitely different than the outspoken people I see on the news outlets and social media platforms. But I really don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that my eyesight seems to be worsening. I think that it’s how I process the information my eyes are bringing into my mind, how I view the world around me, and the study that I do on my own to understand.

So, what do I see? I see lost souls. People searching for something, but they don’t know what it is and consequently they don’t know where to find it. It seems like people are looking for a place where they fit. I see people who have lost hope in humanity, lost hope in freedom, lost hope in good overcoming evil, and even though they just want to find a place where they fit, in a lot of ways they have decided that taking care of self is more important than taking care of the whole, more important than family, community or country, more important than religion and moral values. Very few people want to sit down and find common ground, sit down and find solutions to problems that benefit the whole rather than just one segment of society or just the individual.

So, what do we do? I don’t know as I have a perfect answer, but I do think that the first step is to realize that the information coming in through our eyes and processing through our minds, may not be as it has been made to appear. We don’t understand everything that goes on behind the scenes of any organization or group, but we should learn so we can make an informed decision. Maybe they are right up our alley and exactly what we are looking for, maybe we will find ourselves in deeper than we thought, with something that isn’t even close to what we thought we were getting into in the beginning.

We need to return to God. He has established basic moral laws that should govern the way we treat other people and how we live our lives. The things we take into our eyes, process through our minds, will eventually make it to our hearts. But our hearts can influence what our minds take in, and how we view the world around us. When we base our lives on good moral principles, established by God our hearts are in the right place to begin with, and we will have eyes that see more clearly, a mind that can distinguish between truth and error more readily, and eyes that can see the world around us as it truly is.

There is good all around us. But with the way the world is going, there isn’t a lot of good being advertised any more. But as I have looked at all the scary things going on in the world, I also see many people who are trying, people who are helping, people who still have hope in humanity, people who are willing to change the world, even if that change happens one person at a time. We all want to fit in somewhere. May I suggest that we start by fitting into a different kind of group, the kind that is quietly going about doing good, changing the world immediately around them. If we each got to know one new person this week or helped one person, even if it was a family member, if we were kind or smiled at someone just this week, and willingly helped without any fanfare or media coverage, just simply to help, imagine the impact week to week that it could have on the whole world! It wouldn’t take long to make the world, and our own personal lives, a better place. As we choose to fit in in this way we will be drawn to good organizations, good groups who are also trying to make this world a better place. We will maintain good personal values that will influence those groups for the better, and we will continue to change the world in bigger and better ways.


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Today as I was sitting in Church preparing to take the Sacrament, I started to think about how imperfect I am, how I fail quite regularly, and how I have not always lived my life in a way that I would be proud of. But as I was sitting there, pondering on my failings, praying that I might be better and do better as I go along, Heavenly Father redirect me thoughts. I started to look around and see people, families, individuals, people I know well, people I don’t hardly know at all.

I think Heavenly Father helps me see, once in a while when I am actually listening, other people. Not what they have done in their lives, but see people, as His children, as my brothers and sisters. He helped me to see that just as I was pondering upon my failings, my weaknesses, my mistakes in life, so too were all of these people, because none of us are perfect. I started to wonder and watch those around me. I have no idea the personal struggles of each individual person. Some may struggle with an addiction of some sort. Some may have a sickness that they keep to themselves. Some are there as a last resort, looking for relief from burdens or trials. Some are there because they are made to be there, and are hoping to find one last evidence, one final reason to stay rather than turn their backs.

I love the family that my Church and community provides, and as I sat and pondered, I saw these wonderful people and felt more strongly than ever, that they are each my brothers and sisters. They are each important to me, and to our Heavenly Father, they are each a beloved son or daughter. I know this with all my heart, but sometimes the Lord reminds me more extensively to help me remember again.

I remember the first time I really felt this lesson with every fiber of my being. I was working at a pharmacy in Wasilla. At the time I was 7 or 8 months pregnant with my first child. We had such a huge variety of people that came through that pharmacy on a daily basis, and I mainly ran the cash register and computers up front, dealing with the customers every day. The building where the pharmacy was, was a very large building housing a variety of doctors’ offices as well as the pharmacy. We were right next to the main doors so we could see the people who came and went, whether to the pharmacy or the other businesses located there.

As I was watching people come in one day, I noticed a man walking in the door. He was a tall man, very dirty from head to toe. He had on very grubby torn clothing. It was pretty evident that he was probably homeless. As I saw him walking in, I thought to myself, “I sure hope he doesn’t come in here!” At that very moment the Holy Ghost whispered a message from my Heavenly Father, “He is my child and I love him.” This is something I have always known, that we are each children of our Heavenly Father, but this simple message shook me. I could not believe how easily I had judged this man. I had never met him, I didn’t know him, but I had judged. He did come in to the pharmacy that day. He was a kind, happy man. Very gracious to me and everyone he talked with. I learned a very important lesson that day.

I am still a judgmental person on occasion, but that was the beginning of my eyes being truly opened to others as my brothers and sisters, to others who have difficulties, to others who are trying their best from day to day, to everyone around me. Today as I sat and pondered, I knew there were people in the room who probably struggled with addictions of some kind, whether mental or physical. There were moms there who barely made it to Church because they knew that’s where they needed to be, but it took everything they had just to get there. There were people grieving, people hurting, people at wits end, everyone needing relief of some kind, including me. As I sat through the rest of our Sacrament meeting, I asked Heavenly Father to help me see individuals, to see actual people, brothers and sisters, and in seeing, to have compassion, to have a willingness to help, to try and lighten someone else’s burden. I think when we truly see others, knowing their struggles might be different, but they are struggling just the same as we all do sometimes, that we can be more compassionate, we can be more kind, we can be more helpful. That is my goal this week.