Month: December 2010

2010 in Review

At the end of every year I post “a year in review” for my blog readers.  Usually I have fun trips to report on and photos to post.  This year is a bit different.  I don’t feel that I have done much or have anything interesting to share.  However, tradition always trumps everything else so let me give it a try.

Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo

The only real trip I took this year was a week in Southern California visiting my friend Emily Whitman and her family.  I took this trip because I had a free ticket to use up and I wanted to get away.  Of course I didn’t know then the that the Whitman’s would be moving to Utah in the summer (wahoo!).  Still, we had a good time together- especially on our 2 days at Disneyland.  I’ve always loved the Magic Kingdom and Disney animation(if you guys haven’t seen Tangled go see it.  I just saw it again for the 3rd time). Some people criticize Disneyland because of its mass-marketed feel but I don’t care about that.  I just enjoy it!

One difficult part of Disneyland is all the walking which goes with it.  I wasn’t physically prepared and by the end of the day my feet, back, and body ached.  I was also frustrated from lagging behind and walking as slow as old ladies!   Despite having a good time I felt discouraged with my own body and my lack of energy.  This moment was particularly hard because I have tried so many times to lose the weight with little to no results.  Even with these past difficulties I decided during then to try again- to try and get in shape and change my life.

Since then it has been tough with many sore muscles and achy naps (I’ve learned that endorphins are the great myth of exercising!).  Progress has been slow but it has come pound by pound.  Since my resolution in March I have lost 41 lbs (although this Christmas trip  may make that more like 39!).

I would like to publicly thank all of my friends and family for their past and continuing support (this journey is going to take a while!).  Particular thanks goes out to my mom, Dad, Anna, Megan, Tom, my friend’s Emily, Stefanie and my trainer Michelle (and there are so many others).  I literally could not have done it alone. Thank you most of all for empathizing with me and understanding how hard this big goal of weight loss is.  Thank you to everyone who reads this blog.  It has provided a forum for venting my struggles and a needed source of accountability.

Pretty much my entire year has been taken up by my goal of changing my body.  To save money ( and subsequently afford my gym/trainer) I didn’t take any other trips this year (aside from trips to my parents or Megan’s).   The only other vacation I had was in June at the Wagner family reunion.  We do reunions every two years and this time it was at a terrific lodge near Bryce and Zions National Parks.  Everyone in my immediate family agreed it was one of the most successful reunions yet (and most numerous- I believe nearly 50 people.  That’s a lot of Wagner’s.  Its a wonder the park survived!).  I spent the entire time by the pool (thank goodness for swimming!).

I also had an exciting year with my work.  I still have two jobs and have been successful in both.  In February my emphasis flipped from full time rental property management to full time with Grabber and part time with the houses (still working at home for both jobs).  While juggling two jobs has proven difficult (especially with my other part time job of exercising!), I enjoy the variety in my work and the people I interact with.  So far this year I’ve had great luck renting the homes, both short term and long term, and hopefully the trend will continue through 2011 (we are still waiting for new tenants in the Sammy.  Cross fingers we will get one soon!).  It is immensely satisfying to have a job I enjoy and am skilled at.  I am also grateful to have a job which gives me time to exercise and travel home.  Thanks so much!

Next year promises to be more exciting with a trip to Hawaii in June (can’t wait!).  I am working hard to be ready to attempt surfing lessons when I go.  My trainer is even giving me special workouts to help with my upper body strength.  In addition, the big 30th birthday happens next month (January 23rd).  I’ve always looked forward to birthdays but this one has me a little freaked out.  I just don’t feel that old!  How did it happen?

Anyway, thanks everyone for the support.  It hasn’t been the most eventful year but it may be the most life-changing!  Happy New Year 2011!

Christmas Carol

As I mentioned in my last post one of my Christmas traditions is to go to a fabulous local production of A Christmas Carol at Hale Center Theater Orem.  In the small ‘theater in the round’, the audience-member becomes engulfed in the world of Victorian London and the classic Dickensian tale of redemption (btw, you know your an influential author if you have your own adjective- right!)

Everyone knows the story of the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” known as Ebeneezer Scrooge.   What you may not know is some of the history behind the story.   In his novels, Dickens had two purposes for writing: 1. to show a journey of redemption by the lead character (or characters) and 2. to profile the horrific state of the lower classes.  As can be seen in Little Dorrit, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and other novels the poor characters must fight his or her way through work houses, orphanages, debtors prisons and Poor Laws- all institutions which made it nearly impossible to progress towards financial stability.  This is the reason why Scrooge (clearly the rare non-aristocratic member of the upper class) views the work houses as the only suitable charity he can support. Scrooge was also not alone in the idea of “decreasing the surplus population.”  The poor were often perceived as lazy and undeserving by the upper class- even worthy of punishment for their apparent idleness.

However, Dickens is not as one-sided against the wealthy as he might at first seem.  For instance, we can see in Nephew Fred the type of rich person Dickens believes in- a man who uses his fortune to cheer others (even his crotchety uncle).  In the Christmas Future vision it is Fred that notices Bob Cratchit’s sorrow and offers comfort for him and his family.  The Fezziwig’s and the men seeking charity are other examples.  They hope to collect “some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts.”   Clearly for Dickens it is not the possession of money that creates evil but the love of it- the avarice and greed.  In addition, the laws of the day supported the greedy and made service the exception to the rule.  Let’s not forget Dickens lived in the beginning of industrialization which brought with it child labor, insufficient pay and deplorable work conditions.   There is also an element of fear attached to Scrooge.  It is out of a ‘fear of the world’ that causes him to hoard money,  and the more he fears, the more he hates.

By using the happy time of Christmas as the setting Dickens creates a foil for the worldly Scrooge  and in many ways a symbolic dichotomy- Scrooge or Satan on one side, Christ and Christmas on the other.  This is why Tiny Tim is the ultimate contrast to Scrooge- Tiny Tim who hopes “the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”   I’ve always thought Scrooge’s initial response to Tiny Tim is interesting:

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,”tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

Why did Scrooge have an immediate reaction to Tim?  I think it is Dickens’ way of showing the power the light of Christ has on a sinner- it makes an impression on even the most hardened of hearts!

Could it be there is hope for such a wicked man as Scrooge?  What about the other cold and uncaring of his class? According to Christmas Carol, the answer is yes!  In fact, this is the reason Jacob Marley gives Scrooge “a chance and hope of escaping my fate.  A chance and hope of my procuring.”  Scrooge was lucky to have such a friend in Jacob and perhaps many of us are brought to Christ through the love of our friends?

Through Marley’s gift Scrooge realizes he has wasted his life on a fear of poverty and shut out the light that the Cratchit’s have found in spite of their meager possessions.  He learns whether rich or poor, happiness comes from a changed life, “an altered life”, a life focused on God’s commandments and on satisfying the needs of others with Christian charity.

At Christmas time, I hope you get a chance to read this wonderful story.  For some it has become trite and rehearsed but give it another shot.  I challenge you to actually read it this year with an eye for the lessons it teaches- not just about making Christmas a merry time but of the peace Jesus Christ gives through His Atonement.  The power of His love can change a ‘covetous old sinner’ into “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world”.   In truth we are all sinners and in need of redemption- Christmas Carol tells us that conversion is possible for anyone.

In addition to loving the novel, I have yet to see a film version of I do not like (even the recent animated movie with Jim Carey was good!) .  Whether it be live on stage, preformed by Mickey, or by the Muppets, the Christmas Carol is a classic for a reason.  It reminds us to use the great gift of Jesus Christ’s redemption in our lives and to give the gift to others through service and a merry heart- especially at His season of Christmas.

You can read Christmas Carol online for free.

Single Christmas Traditions

It’s hard to believe there is only a week left until Christmas.  As is usually the case, the month of December has flown by and I have packed it in with tons of cool Holiday experiences.  I decided a long time ago I was never going to miss out on a full life because I am single- this includes Christmas.  As a result, I have established a number of my own Christmas traditions that are unique to me (meaning I did not necessarily do them in my family while growing up).

1. The first ‘single tradition’ I have developed is what I call my “memory tree”.  I’ve mentioned my tree before on this blog, but it’s a way to decorate with ornaments that symbolize or were purchased concurrent with special moments/vacations in my life.  I have an ornament for the colleges I attended, the states I’ve lived in, the places I’ve visited and the things I love to do.  This year I bought  a couple of new ones including an artichoke heart to symbolize my new healthy ‘heart’ (clever, right?), a cute swimming ornament, and one for my book club.  Here is a photo:

2. The second ‘single tradition’ is that I participate in as much as I can during the holidays.  I usually don’t go crazy but this year has been especially busy.  In just the last few weeks, I have been to the Messiah Sing-In, Christmas Carol at Hale Theater Orem, Christmas Around the World and a Celebration of Christmas at BYU, and tonight I am going to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Annual Christmas Concert (I scored tickets this year- hurray!).  In addition, I have purchased my holiday gifts, sang in my voice lesson recital and had two get-together’s at my apartment (first was my book club, second was my healthy holiday dinner party).

I’m not saying every year has to be this full or other people should feel badly if their Christmas was simple.  I’ve had many years where I didn’t do much. The important thing is to feel apart of the holidays and as a single person sometimes that takes more effort and planning.  In fact, I may have planned such a full schedule this year because in 2009 I was sick, and the year before that I was super busy getting one of our rentals ready (plus I went to Vegas).  The two traditions I make sure I do every year even if I have to drag myself sick (which I did last year!) is the Messiah Sing-in and the Christmas Carol at Hale Theater.  There is something about those traditions that make my Christmas.

3.  Finally, I try to do something to serve others at  Christmas time.  Some years this is as simple as putting extra time into selecting (or making) gifts for loved ones.  Last year I was on the committee for Festival of Trees (a charity event in Salt Lake for Primary Children’s Hospital where decorated trees are showcased and auctioned off); however, I did not feel I could do such a large project this year.  I was worried it would encroach on my exercise time and that has to be the priority right now (I’ve met with my trainer every week in December!).  So I asked around and found a person in need of cheer and did a little secret Santa gift for them.  It was a simple act of service but I’ve been uplifted by my involvement.

Some of the greatest acts of service we can do are within our families.  I remember some Christmas’ in college where my family struggled to remain upbeat. It’s a long story but my parents had a small baby and were very stressed out.  While I did not always have the best attitude back then, I know the service Ben, Megan and I did during those tough holiday’s meant a lot to my family- particularly my mother.

Many ideas also come from observing the needs in our community.   After seeing a cold homeless man, my niece Isabel started a coat drive  in her neighborhood to benefit a local shelter, and has collected over 50 coats (how cute is that!).   If a 6 year old can find a way to serve then we all can!

If singles are not careful Christmas can seem like an exclusively  couple/family time full of candy canes and mistletoe.  However, with a little effort we can be as involved and full of the spirit of the season as anybody else.   We each must decide if we are going to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves or go out and plan an activity, gather friends, buy presents, bake some holiday treats (although be careful with that one!), and watch a Christmas classic (or a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie- whatever floats your boat!).  Just as with anything else, the holidays are only as good as the effort we put into them!  May yours be blessed and full of happy memories.


Yesterday I had an amazing experience at the doctor’s office.  It was eye-opening.

Before I go into it some back story-

When I was 8 or 9 I gained a lot of weight within one year.  I will put up the difference between my 3rd grade and my 4th grade photo later (I have to get them out of storage).  It is a shocking difference. From that point on I was over 200 lbs my entire life.  This despite the fact I was active in swim team and other activities and went through a barrage of diets. I also dealt with other odd symptoms such as irregular periods, acne and facial hair (sorry if that’s an over-share)

When I was 17 I developed a great pain in my abdomen.  It was so bad I had to leave school and get a home tutor. After months of waiting finally the doctors thought I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and decided to do an endoscopic laparoscopy.   I remember being nervous about the operation because despite the PCOS diagnosis they were not sure  what they would find and what was causing such pain.   So I went in to be operated on (3rd time in my life) and I woke up in a fog to see the doctor staring down at me.  My first words were

“What did you do to me?” (Really quite terrifying to go into a surgery where you have no idea what they will take out!)

With a smile the doctor said “You’re appendix was looking a little weird, and we took it out.  We also took out some endometriosis.”

After that I was not told much else about my condition and since we moved the next month to California there wasn’t much follow up with the doctor.

My assumption then and for the many years since, was that the diagnosis of PCOS was inaccurate, and I had endometriosis instead.  Its my own fault for not digging into this diagnosis more, but I figured if the endometriosis was flaring up again I’d feel the same kind of pain I felt at 17.  As I have never felt extreme pain, I assumed there wasn’t a problem.

In my recent attempts to loose weight I have taken the attitude of exploring all my options.  There is no doubt that I have all of the symptoms of PCOS, so I felt I should pursue it. A few of the big symptoms are a difficulty to loose weight, facial hair, acne, and irregular periods.  As I was talking to the doctor the thought occurred to me:

“Is it possible I could have PCOS and endometriosis?”  I had always thought the two conditions were mutually exclusive- if I had one, I couldn’t have the other? Stupid Me!

“It is not only possible but highly probable.” said the Doctor.

I couldn’t believe it.  All these years I wondered if I had PCOS but thought I had endometriosis instead! Unbelievable.  I never once in 12 years considered the idea of having both conditions– this despite having the symptoms for both.  I also assumed that if I wasn’t in great pain then the endometirosis was under control.  After all, shouldn’t a cyst be painful?  Well, in my reading evidently in this condition they are not normally painful.

It makes me crazy to think of all those years of dieting and working when my own body was pushing these efforts away.  Now the doctor has me on several meds designed for PCOS (I’m like an old man taking 5 pills a day!),  and I will see a new endocrinologist on January 10th.  (After my last experience I’m a bit hesitant, but I’m not going to let one bad apple spoil the bushel). I am very hopeful these medicines and my meeting with the doctor will be an important piece in my ‘healthy body makeover’ puzzle.  I know it will still be hard work and extremely difficult but perhaps I will not have to fight my body as much.  Perhaps the hard work will pay off a little more.  It feels excruciatingly slow right now.

Anyway, it was an ‘ah ha’ moment and one I can’t believe I haven’t thought of sooner. However, why did I have to come up with it?  Isn’t that what the doctors are for? To ask those kinds of questions?

At least I’m moving forward and will hopefully have even greater weight loss as a result (and better general health as well).

Another woman’s story with PCOS is on this interesting blog. At least I’m not trying to get pregnant (which can be difficult with PCOS).  To learn more about PCOS go to the Mayo Clinics website.

1 in 10 women in America have PCOS. Perhaps this is part of the reason why we have an obesity epidemic among women? (Don’t freak out- I said PART).  I know I have been working my butt off and the results have been faintly trickling in.  I just knew there was something wrong and this time I am unearthing every possibility and asking every question. I urge all of you to do the same.

Dinner Parties Make Me Happy

My friends know I love to entertain.  Whether it is a large boisterous party or a simple group of friends I find it immensely satisfying to gather folks together and bond over good food, games and great conversation.  I don’t know if there is anything I enjoy more.  I love planning menus, designing the perfect decor and making my small dining room into a beautiful spread.  Often people will come to my parties and say something like “wow, this must have been a lot of work.”   What they don’t understand is the work is what makes it fun.

I will never forget one evening when I was living in a small basement apartment in American Fork with a bar sized kitchen, no counter space, no outlets and no dishwasher.  At the time I was unhappy in my work and depressed about my listless life.  These feelings were amplified by the end of the year stresses that January brought to our office.  It  was also bitterly cold and had reached the point in winter where the snow turns gray and sad.  It seemed each week I was putting in more hours and becoming more unhappy.

Thankfully my Heavenly Father had foreseen my difficulties and provided me with a rewarding experience the month before- working with the Sub for Santa program in my ward.  I have often led Sub for Santa (even in high school I was in charge of running it for my choir).  As part of the  project, we set up a service auction to raise money to buy gifts.  A service auction is like other auctions, but instead of products, bids are made on services such as hair cuts, music lessons, car washes etc.  To do my part, I submitted a coupon for ‘three meals of your choice,’ and as I recall it did pretty good- making $50 or $60.

The lucky winner of my meals was a nice, but very indecisive, and kind of boring guy (a tip to guys out there- don’t be like that!).  This person was difficult to talk to because he had no opinions on anything and never brought up a topic for discussion.  (Thankfully Camille came along for the ride or there wouldn’t have been much conversation at the dinner table!) Of course,  I knew getting him to decide on three meals would be next to impossible- so my solution was “I’m going to make whatever I like!” and that’s exactly what I did.  I believe I made a soup, and then a chicken dish, for the first two of the meals, but its the third meal which stands out.

As almost an affront to the difficulty of my life I decided to make my favorite food- spaghetti with homemade meatballs and sauce.  The recipe is from Ina Garten  (my favorite) with some of my own tweaks (I like my sauce a little bit sweet-I know, true Italians are shuttering!).  Just purchasing the food for this recipe was difficult, but I was excited and eagerly anticipating the delicious meal.  Eventually the long awaited day came, and big surprise I worked late- not arriving home until 6:30 with the guest coming at 7!  Nevertheless, I plowed through and made those meatballs, sauce and spaghetti.  I don’t think we ate until nearly 9 but it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.  Everything tasted so flavorful, rich and delicious!  I remember asking my friends what they thought and being surprised that they didn’t LOVE it like I did.   I was relishing that pasta. As I was eating the thought occurred to me “Why isn’t the rest of my life this good?  Why isn’t the rest of my life this happy?”

It might sound crazy but it was a big moment.  It was a first step in realizing that my happiness matters.  While I still had a long journey in 2007, including one major melt-down, I eventually learned to value myself in a new way.  I’d always been confident and auspiciously happy, but for some reason  felt I could settle for the mundane- not after 2007.  Nothing was worth feeling the way I felt.  No amount of money, no career, no perks, NOTHING.  Thankfully once I was brave enough to quit, God opened one door after another for me.  It was incredibly difficult, but a life experience I will always hold sacred, and it all started with a boring dinner party in January…

I guess it is no wonder I love to entertain after such a moment. (Truthfully, I’ve always loved it. Even in college I threw parties and cooked my stresses away!).   Today I had another one of my parties and it was a great success.  This one was a small dinner party with just a few friends who happened to be free during this busy holiday time.  After the decadence of Thanksgiving, I decided to come up with a healthy holiday meal and serve it to my friends.   We had herb roasted turkey breast, pomegranate cranberry sauce, Parmesan herb polenta, mushroom gravy (didn’t turn out very well but you’ve got to try new recipes!), cracked wheat rolls with homemade apple butter, and a simple salad.  For desert we had pumpkin puddings with vanilla frozen yogurt and homemade granola (provided to me by my sister!).  It was delicious! I am so happy to have found a way to make my favorite holiday flavors healthier.  It is a vital piece of the healthy lifestyle I am developing for myself.  In addition, finding a way to entertain in a calorie-conscious way is a huge victory.  I honestly didn’t miss the heavy sauces, crusts, creams or stuffing.  Who’d of guessed?  Now my next challenge is an Italian food makeover!

Anyway, it was a fun party with wonderful friends, good food, decor (I must say my ‘memory tree’ is pretty this year) and games (boggle- a Wagner tradition!).   My only regret is forgetting to take photos.  With all the photographers in my family I often forget to take pictures at events. Oh well! Take my word for it, it was fun.  Thanks to everyone for your love and support.  Wow! This turned in to a long entry.  Enjoy.

Moving Mountains-41 lbs

This morning  I was a little bit sad.  As many readers of my blog know several months ago I attempted a rock climbing wall for the first time.  This was much harder than I thought it would be for a lot of reasons.  It is physically demanding but also mentally hard.  At least for me it is hard to get over the sensation of falling. The footholds feel small and after a few minutes my arms are burning.  Then I start to feel anxious and I have to let go. Have any of you climbed rock walls before?  Do you agree that it is difficult?

Anyway, I was hoping this time I would be able to get higher than last time.  The climbing wall has three levels- at each level the spacing becomes further a part and more difficult.  Unfortunately I was still unable to get past the first level of footholds.  I tried twice with all my strength but no luck. (I was less winded than last time and less sore). I’m not going to deny that I felt some discouragement at not being able to improve. I have been working so hard, watching what I eat, exercising like a maniac (5 times a week), and increasing the intensity of my weight lifting/cardio routines.  My trainer could tell I was down and she brought out all of the ways I’ve improved.  (she’s so great!).  I guess it is hard when things don’t move as quickly as I dream.

After rock climbing I decided to do some cardio and did the elliptical for 35 minutes at an intense setting (480 calories burned).  While I pushed through the cardio I remembered a story I heard in my Chinese politics class at BYU.   It is an old fable called Yu Gong Moves a Mountain.  It is about a man who has 2 mountains in front of his house.  Eventually tired of maneuvering around the mountains Yu Gong says, “The two mountains have given us too much trouble getting outside, how about we move them away!”.  So Yu Gong and his sons begin digging away at the mountain each day. Through the storms and winters they keep digging “until one day, God in heaven was moved by them and sent two immortals to take the two mountains away.”

My journey is kind of like Yu Gong’s- it feels like a mountain in front of me that I will never be rid of.  It feels insurmountable. However, by digging each day and doing my best I am making progress- despite what the rock climbing wall says.  This was shown to me after I finished the cardio, and I decided to weigh myself for the first time in several weeks.  Looking down I was stunned to see 272!  I did it again and then again on a different scale- 272.  This means I have lost 41 lbs since I started!

I’m not giving up! I’m meeting with my trainer every week in December just to be sure I don’t get off track.  I will move this mountain!  Thanks for all of your support.

Dispensable Friends are Indispensable

There is a problem which has bothered me throughout my life- something I am hoping you, my online friends, can shed light on. The question is- Why are friendships often viewed as dispensable?  As not being worth hard work and nurturing?

Let me explain…I have a long-time friend that I called in October to see if there was anytime in the next 2 months that we could get together.  In response I received a text saying that she was too busy. This is a friend I have seen maybe twice this entire year who lives within 20 minutes from my apartment.  We were once very close and have even roomed and traveled together. It honestly made me sad.

Why do we do this?  Why do we drop friends with so little care? Are we too busy for nurturing friendships? Surely there is time, but we fail to allocate it to old friends (often in favor of new, perhaps closer, more dazzling friends)?  My theory is that friendships satisfy certain needs (girl talk, companionship, hugs, party friend, a buddy with similar interests), so we make friends to meet these needs.  However, when things change we focus on satisfying the need, not on maintaining the old friendship.  Once our needs are met, the old friend is forgotten. Isn’t this the definition of selfishness? What if the old friend needed you?

Am I perfect in this regard? Of course not.  I am guilty of forgetting/losing contacts with friends; however, if there is any effort on the other person’s part I have a pretty stellar track record for keeping friends.  Just this week I spent time with four friends I have known for four years or more.

My friend Emily and I went to lunch on Wednesday and we marveled that in March we will have been friends for 10 years!  For 10 years we have loved one another and been an inspiration in each others lives.  We both agree that Heavenly Father knew we needed to be friends.  Meeting Emily is one of the miracles of my life.  It is a precious friendship.  To read about how we met read this post. I know not all friendships will be as impactful; however, any relationship has potential- the potential to save souls and provide Christlike charity.

It’s not as if you even need to see friends frequently for them to matter.  In fact, some of my best friends I rarely see (Are you reading Camille!).  There simply has to be a minimal amount of  effort to keep the friendship alive.

I have a friend  whom I have known for over four years.  To be honest, we were  more acquaintances when we met one another, but for some reason  we stayed in touch- despite living on different parts of the country and her getting engaged (marriage and kids are definitely reasons people typically dispense of their single friends. Its happened to me a million times.  Its horrible, but I almost anticipate getting dumped when my friends get married).  Eventually she moved back to Utah (to Draper in fact).  In the last year she has gone through some trials and I was able to help her in a few small ways.  As I was grieving with her the thought struck me “What if it was all for this moment?  What if all those years of keeping in touch was for this moment?”  I am so grateful we both nurtured a dear friendship so we could be there for that moment.  It makes me shutter when I think how easy it would have been to drop a friend who had moved away. I’m so glad I didn’t.

I am fortunate to have many wonderful friends.   Friends that have stood by me through ‘thick and thin’ (literally!).  Friends that have cried, laughed and prayed with me.  THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR STICKING BY ME!!!!  You don’t know how much it means to me.  I am also grateful for my family- particularly my sisters.  I talk on the phone with my mom and sisters all the time and we almost never end a conversation without saying “I love you.”  I am so blessed.

When I lose contact with such friends I mourn their loss.  Why does it seem that others “forsake friends” with such thoughtlessness? I don’t get it.  Do they really have so many friends that they can dump established ones?  I certainly don’t. This phenomenon seems especially strange considering how easily friendships can be maintained.  The list of modern-day technology, which allows us to communicate quickly is unending.  Surely an email, a phone call, text, or a skype call/chat is within everyone’s grasp even if a full-fledged visit is not?

What do you guys think? Why are friendships more difficult in the modern world? Have any of you experienced this?

Here’s a collage of photos from some of my most cherished friends. There are many others not featured.

Just to show I don’t take things too seriously  I had to end with this song.

Disney’s Back: Tangled

I just wanted to do a quick shout out for Disney’s new movie Tangled.  It goes back to the Disney tradition of telling  fairy tales with princesses.  There are a few modern touches to Tangled, but none of the winking humor to adults seen in the Dreamwork’s pictures.  (I hate that- just be funny for kids and adults).  Tangled tells the old Grimms fairy tale, Rapunzel.  As everyone knows Rapunzel has magic hair so she is abducted by a witch who wants to control the magic.  As part of her control the witch hides Rapunzel in a tower where the witch emotionally manipulates her into believing this is all “for her own protection.”  The character of the witch in Tangled is great. Probably the most icy, manipulative Disney villain ever. (She will teach children to believe in their mother’s love! Does it get more evil then that?).  Her song is also wonderful. Donna Murphy has a great voice.  It is the best villain song since Poor Unfortunate Souls.  Its perfect!

The music is written by Alan Menken who penned such classics as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid.  I think the music in Tangled holds up to those high standards.  All the performances are also great.  Mandy Moore is wonderful as Rapunzel and her voice is beautiful.

Aside from the big eyes (which aren’t my favorite) the animation is great throughout Tangled.  Particularly beautiful is the scene with the lanterns.  It reminded me of the Kiss the Girl scene in The Little Mermaid.

Tangled also does a good job with the script.  The story is funny and the characters have warmth and believability (even the witch has an icy believability).   There also weren’t too many colorful sidekicks or cute critters.  (Disney’s previous offering the Princess and the Frog got had way too  many sidekicks- and plot lines- too many characters shouting and joking.  The whole picture felt cluttered, loud, and long).

I wonder if Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods was an inspiration for Tangled? While Into the Woods incorporates many fairy tales into its plot, its sly style can be seen throughout Tangled.   The witch is particularly similar to the mother in the play.  The dry wit  is also present in Tangled but as I mentioned without the humor made just for adults.  It is funny, romantic and even has enough adventure to please both boys and girls.  The characters aren’t too smartalicky.  Tangled keeps the feeling of an old fashioned fairy tale that could have been made years ago.   You almost expect there to be a book with a narrator in the beginning like they did in so many of the old Disney’s!  Its been so long since Disney has done a traditional fairy tale so I think Tangled was especially pleasing for me.  I love Disney fairy tales!

It was interesting the other day Anna and several of our friends went to dinner and began chatting about our favorite Disney films.  It was amazing how animated (ironic use of words!) the discussion got.  People feel passionately about Disney because their films  impacted our lives as children.  I will always love The  Little Mermaid because I loved it so much as a girl.  Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are the only movies I remember seeing as a child.  I’m sure I saw many but those are the only 2 that stick in my mind.  I was mesmerized by them- by the characters, the romance, the animation and of course the music!  I am excited that with Tangled a whole new generation will have a Disney princess experience.  I hope Disney keeps up the good work and doesn’t rely only on the brilliance of  Pixar. (btw, can’t decide which I like better Tangled or Toy Story III?  Tough one!).  What Disney’s are your favorites?  The only one I don’t like is Pinocchio.  The scene where they turn into donkey’s always freaked me out. Anyone else feel that way?

Anyway, go and see it and let me know what you think.  I hope you all like it as much as I did.