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.


I have been thinking a lot about money the last few days. Today a friend posted on Facebook about wealth, and a picture of someone she recognized as being wealthy even though to a lot of people in this world, they wouldn’t have thought that. I have learned as I have gotten older that money isn’t what life is all about, and that wealth doesn’t always bring the ease and leisure that we might have hoped. In fact, wealth has very little to do with money, and everything to do with life and your perspective about life.

My husband and I have never made a lot of money when you look at the national averages and what they consider wealthy, middle class, and lower class incomes. But over the years I have had the opportunity to learn how to manage what we do have so that it will stretch as far as we need it to. Because my husband is a general contractor, we don’t get paid like a lot of working people. We get paid by the job or at certain intervals during the job, and when the job is finished, the money stops coming. This means that I have had to learn how to make the money stretch until the next job is at least partially finished so we can get a payment. Sometimes that’s just weeks away from the last job, sometimes it’s six or more months away, and we really never know because, in his industry, you don’t have a job until you’re on the job working.

I used to struggle, watching everyone else around me going on vacation, or buying their kids cool electronics or new cell phone. But we had goals, and we didn’t let those feelings of jealousy or envy take hold. We stuck to our goals, and continue to do so. Sometimes that means we live differently than others, but I have found happiness and peace as we have maintained a lifestyle of living debt free and paying for everything when we purchase it rather than getting a loan or putting it on a credit card to pay over time. This approach to our finances has allowed us to have peace of mind. Sometimes we are stretched thin, but we don’t owe anyone anything so we know we’ll be ok in the long run.

I have also learned that managing the money we have is key to that peace. So many people in this world pay for things on credit, or think that somehow if they don’t pay that the companies they owe money to will have to somehow work with them to help them pay it off, or forgive the debt somehow. That’s a lot of somehows! But they aren’t in business to give people free stuff, that’s not how a business works, and if we agree to use their service then we agree to pay for that service. It works the same with college debt, car loans, anything you buy on credit is now your responsibility to pay for. That’s how it works. We need to be aware enough of our finances that we can make wise decisions as to how to spend what we have, spend less than we have, and keep a little bit for a rainy day, because rainy days come way more than we might like to admit.

Lastly, gratitude plays a huge part, more so than money, in how happy and content we are with what we have. When we can be grateful for the job we have, the food we eat, the home we live in, the ability to do what we do, grateful for everything in life, then we recognize what real wealth is. Peace of mind and peace of conscience can’t be bought, they have to be worked for, planned for, and sacrificed for. But when you have those things, you realize how wealthy you really are.


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.


This month of November is a great time of year to remember our many blessings and to be thankful for all that is this life. I was thinking about all the stuff that surrounds us, and how easy it is to take it for granted, but also how easy it is to be thankful for all the stuff, the things we have accumulated, especially when it works well. But then I thought, how often am I grateful for the things, the stuff that makes my life easier, when it actually works well? Usually, I realize how grateful I should have been when it breaks. So today, I thought I would list off some of the things I am, or should be more grateful for, or things that I have realized lately I am grateful for but forget to be thankful for. So, in no particular order, here are a few things this week I have been grateful for:

I am grateful for a dishwasher. Mine is currently broken. When it works great, I don’t really even notice it. When it works great, the kids do most of the work, so I never really have to worry about it. But it hasn’t worked for about 3 months now. Don’t worry, it’s on the list of repairs, but there are other things more pressing at the moment. At the moment I have to wash dishes by hand, mostly by myself as everyone else is gone during the day. The kids help at night. I am grateful for kids who help me wash the dishes. It makes it a more enjoyable experience. We talk, we listen to music, we debate, it’s fun, and at the moment, I am grateful for the time with my teenagers. Broken or not, the dishwasher is a great thing!

I am grateful for my oven. This too is not working correctly. It works most of the time for short bakes, but the longer ones have to be watched and the oven relit periodically. But at this point I am just grateful that for the most part it works alright. I have a crockpot as well as a wood cookstove that I can use, and I am grateful for the backups. At the same time, I am grateful that it is cold outside if I have to use the wood cookstove as it is really hot cooking with the cookstove. I am grateful we have wood for that cookstove as well so we can use it as a backup option.

I am grateful for the beetle killed spruce trees we were able to harvest for our firewood. Sometimes they are a pain to work with getting delimbed and stacked, and unstacked and hauled to the boiler, but they burn well, they don’t produce creosote, and they keep our house warm all winter long. Burning these also decreases our fire danger, so that’s an added benefit in the summer.

I am grateful for cars that run, and for a husband who can fix them when they quit running. We currently have one vehicle in his shop getting fixed, but we have the others that work well. Breaking down in Alaska in the winter can be extremely dangerous simply because of the temperatures. Something that would have simply caused an inconvenience in the summer becomes life threatening in the winter, so I am grateful I can count on the cars running and help close by if something does breaks down.

I am grateful for my kids. The more I look around at the world, the more I believe I was truly blessed with some really awesome kids. They are thoughtful, kind, look beyond themselves, obedient, helpful, respectful, and so much more. They are teenagers and young adults, and aren’t perfect, but they are pretty close in my opinion, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. They are truly what brings joy and happiness into my life.

I am grateful for my husband. He is a great provider for our family, and always lets me be me and do my thing. He teaches the kids about hard work and expects a lot from them, but they always strive to rise and have become better because of his example. He can fix just about anything and keeps our family, our home, our cars, and everything running and in good condition.

I am grateful for good books and those who write them. I don’t read too many fiction books, but I do enjoy reading about gardening, cooking, sewing, and painting. I am grateful that I can learn so many things just by reading books and then applying that knowledge to my situation. I have learned so many new things, as well as better ways to do things I already knew how to do but got another perspective on.

I am grateful for my daughter’s dog. I love dogs, but we haven’t had one for quite a while because the last 2 died of cancer and it was really hard. When she got this puppy however, I remembered how much I love dogs. She has been such a bright spot in our family, and everyone is smitten by her. She is so smart and learns something new almost every day. She has such a great temperament. I wasn’t sure if we were ready for a new dog, but I knew my daughter was ready and would do a great job raising one. Luna has been such a huge blessing to our family.

I am grateful for so many things, these are just a few. I may write several posts like this this month just because I think it’s important to be grateful in all things, even when things aren’t necessarily going the way we wanted them to. Maybe I’ll write about some of those experiences this month as well. I hope you have opportunity to be thankful this month, and that it will become a habit of looking for the good and being thankful all year long.


When covid hit I decided it would be a great time to learn a few things since we would be home for a while. My kids had schoolwork to do so they were busy at least some of the day, and I didn’t want to spend that whole time cleaning, I wanted to do something educational as well. I first decided to learn how to digitize my own art. That wasn’t a super hard process, I still have a ton to learn, but this knowledge has saved me hundreds, probably into the thousands or so dollars with my artwork as it cost me on average $50-$75 to have each piece of art digitized. With that savings I was able to purchase my printer, which in turn has not only saved me money but also time and made my artwork more accessible because I don’t have to wait for a print shop to have time to print when someone wants something specific, I can just take care of it.

The other thing I wanted to learn how to do was to make sourdough bread. This is where the patience comes in and ends. Making the starter was pretty simple, and at this point I have successfully made 3 or 4 different starters, or at least I thought they were successful, until I made a really good one. Making the bread however is where the patience level declined. I love making bread, but I am used to yeasted breads that take 2-4 hours and then you have this beautiful, light and fluffy, delicious bread. But I do love the taste of sourdough, and the thought of not having to use yeast in an emergency situation was appealing to me. I got my starter going, it was growing pretty well, now that I know more, I’m not sure that it was pretty well, but at the time I thought it was good enough.

I followed an online recipe and made the dough. Having made so much yeasted dough over the years, I looked at the dough and decided it was probably too sticky, so I added more flour. That was a mistake. I then set it aside. This is where the recipe on the internet said it would take 4-6 hours to rest and raise. That seemed somewhat excessive, and I thought maybe I could speed the process along. I put the dough in a warm oven for a while. When I pulled it out, it still hadn’t really done much. I decided it would be fine, yeasted doughs rise in the oven pretty well sometimes … I made my loaf and let it rest and rise one more time, but again, it hadn’t really gotten much bigger by the time I wanted to put it in the oven. But I decided to let the oven do the rest, if there was any natural yeast, it should be fine, right? Not so. I pulled my very flat loaf of bread out of the oven. I was disappointed. Why does sourdough have to be so hard? I was frustrated with the directions, I was frustrated with my time making a starter, I was frustrated with the recipe and website I had used. The bread did have a sourdough flavor, but it was a brick.

I gave up for the time being. A little while later I decided to try again, but life got busy, and I forgot about my starter for a couple of weeks, and then scraped the project again. About 4 or 5 months ago I decided I would like to try again. This time I researched things a little bit more and bought a book with directions, pictures, troubleshooting guides, etc. I started again, but it was in the summer, and I ended up not having the time to bake any kind of bread, let alone sourdough bread. About 2 weeks ago I finally got started again! My first starter started out well, but then seemed to be struggling. Frustration immediately began creeping in and I was ready to just give up for good. One morning I was pondering on why I was having so much struggle with this. I was praying for help to understand when the thought of flour came back to my mind. Unbleached flour. I thought that was an interesting thought, I always used unbleached flour. But the thought persisted so I went and read the label on the sack of flour. Nope, I was using bleached flour. I hadn’t checked the last few times I had gotten flour, I was in a hurry, and had just thrown a bag of flour in the cart and continued on. My yeast didn’t have anything to eat, and consequently was dying after my initial start with the whole wheat flour.

The next time I went to the store I bought unbleached flour to use specifically for my starter. I showed the kids and told them not to use it for cookies or anything, this was my flour! I started again. This time the started worked like I’d never seen it work before. I realized I had been killing all my other starters with the wrong flour. The other thing I realized is that I had been rushing the starter, sticking strictly with a 24-hour feeding rather than watching the starter, allowing more or less time depending on what it looked like. Today I am making my first loaf. I’m not done yet, but I have huge hopes for this loaf. I have also allotted myself the whole day, and if need be, tomorrow to wait and allow the process to happen.

This whole process has taught me a lot about patience and perseverance. I’ve never thought that I was an impatient person necessarily, not that I didn’t know I had to work at it sometimes, and it somewhat depends on the situation. But sometimes I think I know better, or different than what is actually the case, and it takes me some time to readjust my perspective to see things differently. I am hopeful that sometime in the next 24 hours or so I will have a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread to share with my family, but if it’s less than ideal, at least the starter worked this time, and I have more starter to keep trying with in the future. I will get it one way or the other because I am not going to let this challenge beat me. I am grateful to learn that some challenges you have to jump in and plow through, but some challenges you have to sit back and give time and space in order for growth to occur. I am also grateful for a Heavenly Father who is concerned with the details of my life and willing to help me understand even trivial things, like flour.