Monday, November 30, 2009

Dinner Discussions


You know you push proper grammar and vocabulary too much when your six-year old asks at dinner, "Dad, did I use the word 'like' appropriately in my last sentence?"
Poor kids... they don't even stand a chance.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Day of Thanks

May you have:
  • Plenty of elastic waist-banded pants
  • More marshmallows and butter than is good for a dish (or the elastic-banded waist)
  • Vegetables you can't find through the butter and/or sugar
  • An abundance of tryptophan in your turkey
  • More food than table room
  • Time to exercise it off in the coming weeks
  • More writing time than cooking and baking time
  • Too many friends and family surrounding you
  • A pile of dirty dishes that magically disappear
  • And good books to help you recover
  • Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wielding Words

I love words. I love unique words, words I wouldn't use in every day conversation. I love words that make me stop and think, ones I have to look up to find the meaning of, and those that stand off the page.
But when it comes down to it, these are the words I leave out of my writing because it takes away from the story for all the reasons listed above.
So that's my thought I'm sending out from Revisionland, the place I've been visiting all day today. Words are great, they just need to fit the voice/tone of the work, rather than show off your vocabulary.
My favorite word?
Oddly enough it's not some grand thing. It's a little word that needs no definition because just by the sound of it you know what it means:
WONKY.
I've always loved wonky.
And my six-year old's favorite word? Wisenheimer.
(Guess what we call her when she gets snarky?)
Now you tell me, what's your favorite word?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Lecture #4


ANOTHER SUBMISSION. THANKS TO THOSE WHO RESPONDED TO MY BEGGING!

The Last Lecture Project is a reoccurring feature on this blog where people (anyone!) submit answers to question on things they've learned in their lives. It is my hope to first, collect a history of people and their thoughts on life and second, to inspire not only myself but others with these stories from everyday people. Just like the late Randy Pausch in his Last Lecture, may he rest in peace. If you have something you'd like to submit to this project, please email me at jackee.alston(at)gmail(dot)com. All contributions are anonymous unless otherwise directed.

1. What is the one accomplishment or event you are most proud of in your life?

That I can have a mental illness and live a somewhat normal life. It is more of a miracle in my mind rather than an accomplishment.

2. What was the most amazing thing you have seen happen in your lifetime?

Love. When a group of people can truly love one another without judgement. When a school has camaraderie. When a friend loves you even when you mess up. When a group of people can love one another and had true concern for each other. I love seeing these things happen.


3. What is a piece of advice you wish someone would have given you early on in your life?

I got the advice: "worrying is like a rocking horse, it'll get you nowhere." Now If I could just listen and do.


4. What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your parents or guardians?

The most valuable lesson I've learned is even adults make mistakes. None of us are perfect and we all need the Lord's help in our lives.


5. Who were your childhood heroes?

I really liked fairies, unicorns and mermaids. I would always try to swim like a mermaid. I dressed up like a fairy princess for Halloween and wished I really did have magic powers!


6. What has made you happiest in your life?

Being married to a wonderful husband. He is my "bestest" friend! He has supported and loved me all our married life. I love him with all my heart!


7. If there’s one thing you could say to your great-great-great grandchildren, what would it be?

Life is hard. It always will be. But it's a lot easier with the Lord's guidance, so stay close to the Lord all your life. In Him you will find peace, comfort and love.


8. What is something you want people to remember about you?

I would like this on my gravestone: She touched the hearts of many.
I don't want to take any credit in this, but with the hope I had the Spirit with me and could be an instrument in "touching the hearts of many", with the Spirit's help.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last Lecture #3

ANOTHER INSTALLMENT. THANKS TO THOSE WHO RESPONDED TO MY BEGGING!



The Last Lecture Project is a reoccurring feature on this blog where people (anyone!) submit answers to question on things they've learned in their lives. It is my hope to first, collect a history of people and their thoughts on life and second, to inspire not only myself but others with these stories from everyday people. Just like the late Randy Pausch in his Last Lecture, may he rest in peace. If you have something you'd like to submit to this project, please email me at jackee.alston@gmail.com. All contributions are anonymous unless otherwise directed.







1. What is the one accomplishment or event you are most proud of in your life?



Making the cheerleading squad my freshman year. Okay, maybe that sounds petty, but in eigth grade I realized how boring my life was and I really wanted to have something to tell my future children about. For a full year I used my gymnastics and ballet background to make up cheers, work on my flexibility, getting my right leg splits back, and I saved up all my babysitting money that year for the uniform. Nothing was going to hold me back. When I made the team, there were a lot of popular girls who were upset I had made the squad, and surprised I had, showing me just how important goals and planning can be in setting a future.

Being a cheerleader didn’t turn out to be the best experience of my life, but meeting that particular goal set the stage for everything that followed. I know I can do anything I set my mind to.



2. What was the most amazing thing you have seen happen in your lifetime?





Once gravity takes hold of an object on a hill, there’s no stopping it until it reaches rock bottom. The same holds for what I’ve seen of the downfall of society’s morals. I am amazed that in just one short generation, I have witnessed the reversal of so many universally held beliefs. When I was in middle school, the worst insult you could give someone was to call them gay. With the first AIDS cases being reported, and no treatment available, this was a harsh label that nobody wanted, and most people scorned the lifestyle. But with the sudden AIDS publicity also came a fight for understanding and compassion. Amazingly, this compassion then yielded to tolerance, and a reluctant acceptance of a lifestyle that just thirty years before was condemned by every religion, public school (teachers who were “outed” were quietly fired), and the majority of Americans. Now homosexuality is openly accepted, celebrated, and in many cases upheld as equal to marriage. A total reversal and shunning of popular societal and religious views.



3. What is a piece of advice you wish someone would have given you early on in your life?





Don’t just plan for the big events in your life, put some FUN in there too!



4. What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your parents or guardians?





Hard work. People notice when you do a good job, and that leads to other opportunities. A job well done also helps you appreciate the reward more, and the sacrifices made for it.





5. Who were your childhood heroes?



Wonder Woman. She was smart, had a great figure, and could lasso any man and get him to talk. No easy feat, that one. Plus, the boots were cool. Elizabeth Montgomery (from Bewitched) was a close second. I would have loved to be able to wiggle my nose and have whatever I wanted happen.



6. What has made you happiest in your life?





My family (my own and extended). We have the best times together, even when just hanging out. And it’s great that I can always count on them. But music plays a big role too. There isn’t an emotion that can’t be amplified through music, and I could fill a dozen CDs with songs that have brought me through the worst of days.



7. If there’s one thing you could say to your great-great-great grandchildren, what would it be?



Why am I still here? Just kidding. I would tell them to have all the children they can, because when they come to the age that they see how wonderful their own children are and how badly the world needs more intelligent, caring people with an unmuddled head on their shoulders, it might be too late to have any more.



8. What is something you want people to remember about you?





That woman could teach the scriptures like nobody else!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well Blow Me Down!

I won a contest, people! It was for Courtesy and Patience's query letter. What did I win? A critique of the first 30 pages (that would be worth $50 to $100 or possibly more because she's an agent). It blows me away that I was chosen and I hope the agent will like to see more. She was one of the ones I've never queried (but wanted to) because I'd already received a kind no from one of her co-agents. (And yes, I'm still waiting on answers from the few other agents who DID say they wanted to see the whole enchilada.) Check out her critique of the letter if you want!


Gotta go, dirty diapers are calling me. As usual.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Last Lecture #2



The Last Lecture Project is a reoccurring feature on this blog where people (anyone!) submit answers to question on things they've learned in their lives. It is my hope to first, collect a history of people and their thoughts on life and second, to inspire not only myself but others with these stories from everyday people. Just like the late Randy Pausch in his Last Lecture, may he rest in peace. If you have something you'd like to submit to this project, please email me at jackee.alston@gmail.com. All contributions are anonymous unless otherwise directed.







This little project of mine hasn't taken like I'd hoped it would, so here goes... I'm entering my OWN submission. I thought I might as well tell you because I'm sure those close to me would guess anyway. I do have two others to post, but I want more. Please send them! Humor me, okay?





1. What is the one accomplishment or event you are most proud of in your life?



That's easy. I've three children who light up the world and will continue to outshine me or any of their ancestors before me because they have so much potential. So there. My one accomplishment was actually three events and involved very little effort to myself. Just childbirth. Ha, ha!

If I can cheat, I would also add on a second thing: my education. I believe so strongly in higher learning, whether you use the degrees or not. In my case I did for a few years in the work force, but in just the pure knowledge I learned, I use that every time I'm around nature. Which is everyday. And I love teaching my children about plants, animals, and the environment surrounding them. As an added benefit, my education gave me confidence in myself that I previously didn't have. I wouldn't say I was a great biologist, but I loved what I did and will return someday. If it says anything about me, I was only the second female graduate student my professor had ever taken on in a 35 year-long career. (Not for his lack of trying, they just always quit.)


2. What was the most amazing thing you have seen happen in your lifetime?



I'll never forget where I was when the Challenger exploded, the Berlin Wall came down, or when the Trade Towers fell. I've seen the Sistine Chapel and sculptures of the greats, but the most amazing thing I've ever seen happen was closer to home: it when after delivering my firstborn, I fell asleep and they took her away to weigh her. In what seemed like forever (though more like two hours), they finally brought her back. I felt my whole being swell with love for this tiny creature. That feeling was the most amazing thing I have ever felt and her face was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. Having children is truly the toughest job I've ever loved.




3. What is a piece of advice you wish someone would have given you early on in your life?




I wish someone would have told me to never care what people thought of me. A mantra to live by is you are only limited by your own insecurities. My insecurities always stemmed from what I thought others thought of me. Now I try only to just be the best that I can be in everything I do and say. Happiness invariably follows because I'm not trying to please others.



4. What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your parents or guardians?



My parent's greatest gift to me was that they never thought there was something I couldn't do. I was never told my abilities were restricted. If I put my mind to something, they supported me in it. I've tried to instill that in my own children: whether it is a talent or an action that comes naturally to them or no, I never pooh-pooh it if they're willing to try. My husband is the same way, to me and our children.




5. Who were your childhood heroes?




I was a goofy kid and because of that I think I admired people like Anne of Green Gables and Jo from Little Women. They were all girls who didn't fit in and yet came into their own. I would have been about 9-12 years old when I read and reread these books. I didn't watch a lot of TV, but obviously I was a big reader. The characters in books influenced me more than anything. A real person whom I always looked up to was my grandfather. He has a way of making every person around him feel special and I've always wanted to be like that. It really is a gift with him.



6. What has made you happiest in your life?

My marriage and my religion. From both stem my family ties that I feel will last for eternity. And who could blame me for being happy about that? My husband makes me a happier, CALMER, and more fun person. I may be his better half as I'm always told, but he makes me that better half. Besides, without him I would not have my wonderful children.




7. If there’s one thing you could say to your great-great-great grandchildren, what would it be?

Every generation has their trials and problems, the trick is to stand tall and stay true to yourself and what you believe to be important. And if ever you are sad or down, go and help someone--serve until your outside hurts more than your inside.




8. What is something you want people to remember about you?



I don't necessarily care if people remember me, I want them to remember how I made them feel about themselves. Whether that is by word or deed, it is the greatest compliment and the hardest thing to accomplish because you must always be aware of others and how you are treating them.








There it is! I'm a little embarrassed that you know this is me but I still tried to be as honest as I could. Now submit! I want to see what everyone else has to say.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. This is why:


I'll return to my regularly scheduled postings when they graduate.
Or maybe next week, if I luck out.