Posts Tagged With: Courage

Review: The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was chosen for the Book Club Read this month. ( I don’t often attend, but usually try to read the book, if it’s available through the Pioneer Library, my main resource for my books. ( I was pleasantly surprised to find this one available, and it was a quick read. Although, I would not classify it as easy. In fact it was rather heavy.

The story was told from the mindset of the Japanese Mail Order Brides / Picture Brides (kind of reminded me of the Borg on some levels) taking place just prior to Pearl Harbor being bombed. They told of what promises and hopes they had in mind, and their realities, and shattered dreams, they tell of their treatments, and always being on the outside and then move into the suspicion, going into hiding, and then the disappearing.

Overall it was very interesting, really opened my understanding much more. Despite it being a short read, and with the risk of redundancy, it was very heavy and heartbreaking. Nonetheless, it’s a read I recommend just once.

(Actually finished 20 January 2014)

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Categories: Book Reviews, Family, Humanity, Life, Literature, Purpose, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I had expected when starting to read this book. I honestly didn’t know what it was about, just that it was a popular read and that they made a movie out of it. I was hoping it would be decent, as I often don’t enjoy ‘popular’ books. I have to say I was very pleased with this great read. Another surprise was that it was another telling of the horrors during World Ward II & occupied Germany.

I enjoyed the fact that it was told in a narrative manner from the point of Death, as he jumps all over Europe, collecting souls. Follow the story of a young refugee Leisel, the curious and kind hearted young girl, who simply loves books, her only way to obtain them, was to steal them. Her other great love in life, were the people closest around her.

For whatever reason the past year I have found that I have accidentally picked up a handful of World War II books. I obviously love Historical Fiction and find it very rewarding to continually learn more about us as a people, the good and the very bad, and finding the humanity in the horrid situations.

I really enjoyed the different style of the storytelling. I thought it was well written, flowed well and well worth the read. I highly recommend it. However, towards the end, and points in-between, make sure to have a box of tissues.

Now I can watch the movie… Yes, I’m sure, it’s not as good as the book – it never is.

(Actually finished 9 February 2014

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Categories: Beauty of the World, Book Reviews, Humanity, Life, Literature, Purpose, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Way to Be!: 9 Rules For Living the Good Life

Way to Be!: 9 Rules For Living the Good Life
Way to Be!: 9 Rules For Living the Good Life by Gordon B. Hinckley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved the Way To Be!, just as much as I adore President Gordon B. Hinckley! It was wonderful to read this book again, to hear his voice and feel he pure love that exuberates from him. How I’ve missed this great man. I’ve read this book a few times and will read again. Always new applicable points and views! I highly recommend for anyone of any background, faith, religion, etc. Just basic and profound views and points, of being a good person – just because you should try to be a good person.

My uncle wrote on his coffin, “Do good because doing good is good to do. Not because of threats or promises of Heaven or Hell.” I love that. I think that this book helps mostly guide on simply BEing a good person!

President Hickley stated in the book, “Rise above mediocrity, above indifference. Become involved and speak with a strong voice of that which is right. ”

I originally took fantastic notes while making my journey through this book. But looking back. I feel like I highlighted the whole book! 😐

Nonetheless, the 9 Be’s we should all remember are as follows:

9 Be’s:
Be Grateful
Be Smart
Be Involved
Be Clean
Be True
Be Positive
Be Humble
Be Still
Be Prayerful

Finished the book 1 October 2013.
I highly recommend this book to all, over and over again! Enjoy and BE an amazing contribution!

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Categories: Beauty of the World, Book Reviews, Career, Cause, Education, Family, Health & Nutrition, Humanity, Life, Literature, Passion, Purpose, Relationships, Service, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Help

The Help
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m one that has a really hard time giving in to read really ‘popular’ books… so I procrastinate and procrastinate simply because I don’t want to simply follow the crowd. Well I have to admit on this one, it was a simply amazing book! What courage, dedication and resolve these strong women showed in the face of adversity. I don’t know that I would have had the same courage and conviction, if I were in any of those roles, to be the difference, I pray that I would, but I just don’t know.

The writing style was well done in this book, easy to follow and most definitely engaging! Once I got into it, it did take a minute, I couldn’t put it down. I found every opportunity I could to read, and found myself laughing and crying all the way through. Definitely heart wrenching.

I am curious though, I know it was based on a true story. But if that’s the case and this is the story about them writing their story, and their story in the book is titled “The Help” then where is the other book??

I wish I would have had the few minutes to write the review when I finished this book. However, I delayed because I wanted to give it the time and dedication in writing a review it deserved, and unfortunately I’m writing it 3 months later and not giving it the love I wanted it because it’s faded a bit.

Regardless, fantastic read everyone should put on their list, popular or not.

(Actually Finished June 3rd,2013)

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Categories: Education, Family, Humanity, Life, Literature, Relationships, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Christmas Magic & The Festival of Trees

I love Christmas! I love the season, the smells, the feel of everything, the taste in the air and the energy all around! For years I have dreamed of having that perfect storybook Christmas, my family never had that. Oh we had our own type of Christmas Magic, but never what I knew was waiting out there…. somewhere.

I grew up all over the US, my dad works for the Federal Government in the Bureau of Land Management. Therefore, we lived in every small podunk town known to mankind. Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it! I ended up going to 11 different schools by the time that I graduated from high school, so I’ve been around. We never lived close to our extended family and we always just celebrated our quiet little immediate family holidays by ourselves. Which I ultimately grew to appreciate VERY much! After college, I ended up moving back East, New York City, Vermont & then was in the Philadelphia suburbs for nearly a decade. (While on that subject I think the state of Pennsylvania simply has something incredibly magic about it – but especially during Thanksgiving to Christmas to the New Year!) Which again put me far away from extended and immediate family. As I’d always done, I adopted new family(ies). This also comes with invitations to spend holidays with other families and get a glimpse into other people’s worlds and traditions. From this I have gleamed some of the best ‘magic’ I have witnessed, and implementing their traditions and magic into my own traditions – and hoping that someday when I have a family of my own I’ll be able to continue to add to that great Christmas Magic!

However, here I find myself close to family once again and some holidays are celebrated, while most are not. If they are celebrated it’s generally because I’m hosting the whole shebang. Most the time though, I find myself ignoring the things about the holiday’s that I love so very much – in order not to be once again heart-broken. I stopped putting up decorations, I don’t want to cook my big fabulous meals, and I look forward to the quiet day off with no one bugging me, no phone calls or texts beyond Happy whatever holiday! It breaks my heart knowing this. I even do it for my own birthday anymore (I’m a Christmas week baby) no one cares, no one will come and if they do, they do stupid stuff that makes me wish I never attempted to throw myself a party in the first place. 😦 This I know all stems from the years of heartache and let downs of having hopes so high that just maybe this year might be a fraction better. In addition in all likeliness its that awful voice of my ex-husband telling me everything was horrible because of me, and my wanting each moment to be great – even if it’s horrible – I continue to believe that there can be goodness found in all things even if it’s just a micro or nano thing… Of course I find myself just wanting to take myself on some fabulous vacation that I can’t afford; far away from everyone and everything…. and it’s warm of course!

Despite my jaded view on this subject, there are a few things that bring me such great joy!

I have been an Auction Host at the Festival of Trees now for 3 years! It’s hard to believe I’ve even been around here that long! I was first introduced to the Festival of Trees from my girlfriend, Andrea. (Andrea’s Main Blog & Andrea’s Second Blog – Things you will not believe!! Regarding the Health of her Children)  These are amazing stories that you need to read!) The Festival of Trees  is a fabulous non-profit organization that donates 100% of their proceeds back to the children at Primary Children’s Hospital. Each year the first week after Thanksgiving they hold a gigantic auction at the South Towne Expo Center. People and organizations donate their time, talent and resources to providing a fabulous environment and things to auction. You can find Large Trees, Medium Trees, Small Trees, Centerpieces, General Decorations, Wreaths, Quilts, Statues/Sculptures, Paintings,

Photography, not to mention all the baked goods and other gifts that you can purchase there and MUCH more! It’s quiet the experience  Auction night is always quite elite and has a formal attire dress code. Andrea & I are Auction Hosts for whatever section we might be assigned to each year answering questions and facilitating the silent auctions in our area. What fun this is! Not only do we get to dress up in our beautiful formals, but we also get to make new friends, meet interesting people and serve! What energy fills the air here! In this one place my Christmas Magic has returned and ignited such a fire of hope and joy all around! I’m so grateful that Andrea invited me three years ago! This

is truly one of my most favorite events of the year! I’m so glad that my little effort actually makes a difference in someones life! It’s amazing to see what some of these items go for – and it’s all really for the children!








So whatever it might be that you love about the Christmas Season… I hope you find it this year. I hope you grab onto it and hold it tight. Find people around you in every capacity that you can serve in either the littlest of ways – most people are so in need of a genuine smile and a hello, or in big ways – but do it just because.

May you be blessed with the Love of our Lord and remember exactly WHY we have Christmas after all… because someone gave us the greatest of all gifts!

I’ll post a few photos from our night. 🙂 Later when I am working on a better computer… 😉


Categories: Beauty of the World, Family, Humanity, Life, Literature, Photography, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Josephine Mills Awards celebrate Down syndrome...

Josephine Mills Awards celebrate Down syndrome research (Photo credit: BC Gov Photos)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!!! Simply one of the best books I have ever read! Very well written. Absolutely Heartbreaking and Encouraging all at the same time! You will find your self questioning the characters actions and reflecting upon your own decisions in life. Really shows the impact that one seemingly small decision can make on your life and the lives of those around you. Also shows how lies and deceptions will literally eat you from the inside out, and how showing a little love will change it around. I work with Special Needs Kids (12-100 years old) it is the most amazing blessing in my life, how incredibly grateful I am for it. This fact alone and how much I love our sweet friends with special needs might have been a factor of why I feel so strongly about this book. But I honestly believe that EVERY individual in the world needs to read this book, gain a greater understanding of somethings – but ultimately take a look inward. This book, the words, the events, the people will change your life and never leave your heart or mind. It is definitely one of those books that you will randomly think of in random places and change your life for the better. More than highly recommend!

In addition…. One of the biggest things to me was to watch how Caroline fights and fights for her daughter! Yes, all mothers do, however watching her refuse to give Phoebe to the ‘institution’ and to get people to treat them both with respect to fighting the school systems to get her daughter enrolled and helping her daughter get the best available future and life for herself… from education, to some sort of work to having a place in the community! It really gave me so much more of an understanding and respect for the mothers of my wonderful

Down Syndrome Foundation

Down Syndrome Foundation (Photo credit: MyLifeStory)

Group who are very Tough and are still fighting for their children to still have a chance. What a tough situation and battle. But look at the difference that this made in the world! We have come such a long way and by having these sweet and wonderful souls around us more each day – we become a little better learning how simple and true the small and simple things are in life.

I also enjoyed that the author told the story from the views of all the main characters… By doing this she was able to tell so much more of what was really going on and how the lies, deceit and continued miss-communication can turn wonderful lives and situations into pure tragedies.

Wonderful, wonderful book!

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Categories: Career, Family, Humanity, Life, Literature, Preparedness, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Personal & Emergency Preparedness

I am not sure if I have ever mentioned that I work as a Business Continuity Consultant for Zions Bancorporation or not. We have created a new website and doing a lot more to be involved and in the minds of the Zions Community.

In our outreach program we are doing a testimonial submission contest the top three testimonials will receive notoriety as well as a “Zombie Task Force T-shirt” (part of their Zombie Preparedness Program) from the CDC that says, “Don’t be a Zombie – Be Prepared.” They are great! (Check out their Zombie Novela it’s really good!)

Before we roll this out each member of our department is writing up a testimonial of how being prepared has benefitted their lives. I thought this was worthy enough to share! Besides, my tag line is just an ordinary girl with extraordinary adventures… here some of them come!

Personal Preparedness

by Jen Jenson-Valente

I am one of the luckiest people to have had such an adventurous life! My father worked for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) while I was growing up (and still does). Part of the life of a BLM family is getting to move all over the country every year or two (sometimes more frequently), to remote wilderness areas (I attended 11 different schools by the time I graduated from high school). This put our family in many interesting situations for grand experiences that most people can’t even imagine.

I have been in multiple earthquakes, tornados, fires, flooding, landslides, monsoons, wild fires, mid-sized dust storms, wind storms, blackouts, ice storms, and extreme snow storms. I’ve fallen off cliffs and lived through a bomb scare.  I’ve had biking and rafting/kayaking accidents I’ve been held hostage, witnessed shootings and actions of the KKK, and even had someone attempt to kill me.   I’ve been stranded in elevators, dealt with drug busts, rape and murder at a residential building I managed.  I’ve been stranded in the desert and other random places, had medical emergencies that were 200 miles from the nearest doctor.  The only large natural disasters I haven’t experienced are volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, title waves and hurricanes, thank Heaven!

Our most recent adventure was last December. I was living in Bountiful, Utah, where part of the South Davis County range was hit hard with a terrible windstorm, creating havoc and damage in its wake. Certain areas of Bountiful, North Salt Lake, West Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington, and other locations were hit extremely hard. The wind took down trees, roofs, fences, sheds, and signs. It even flipped fully loaded semi-trucks! We, as a family, lost 22 200-foot trees, eight fences, four roofs, and damage to vehicles, awnings, 30 feet of a 9-foot retaining wall, and a chicken coop. Our home actually made national news! Due to severe damage, the entire area lost electricity in the bitter cold December days.

I woke up that first morning to the howling wind and debris slamming against my windows. When I looked outside, it I felt as though I was in yet another tornado. I knew that if I drove my Ford Explorer to work, I would never make it due to the instability of my vehicle in turbulent winds. I attempted to call out of my home (using both my mobile & home Voice over IP phone) and send text messages to warn others – to no avail.  With no way to communicate with the outside world, I wondered what was happening elsewhere – and especially at the banks! I work in the Disaster Recovery Department of Zions Bancorporation.  “I have to get there!” I told myself.

Once the wind died down after several hours, I was finally able to leave my home and felt that it was safe enough to drive again. Skirting debris on the road, I stopped by our family meeting/message area, but there was no notification as of yet – only more damage. I left a note for those that might be following me. I then drove up the mountain to my grandparent’s home.   Shock, horror, and fear ripped through me as I viewed the entrance to my grandparent’s driveway. There were 3 huge trees blocking the driveway and view of their home. I climbed through the tree branches and debris, fighting my way down to my grandparents. How relieved I was to see that not one tree had fallen on their home! Once I was able to get inside, I found my 84-year-old grandmother, terrified and crying, wrapped in a ball under a table. She had been so scared by the falling trees that she thought she was back in England in another air raid during WWII. I slowly convinced her that she was safe again, that the damage was done, and we were going to be alright. My grandfather found me at that point. The three of us then went to evaluate the damage. “All my beautiful trees are gone!” my grandfather exclaimed, with tears trickling down his face. While we suffered from thousands of dollars of damage, we were one of the lucky families, because we have always planned ahead. We had a ham radio to communicate with others, plenty of food storage, and ways to cook it with the alternate cooking sources (propane barbecues, stoves, and a solar oven).

As I mentioned before, the power had been knocked out countywide, and it took days to get it fully back on. Some areas were out for over a week! We were lucky that we had a back-up generator, even though it had not been permanently installed.  We were able to hook the generator up to the main house heating system. Other people were left out in the harsh December elements, leaving their homes dark and cold for days. Every hotel room nearby was occupied.  Restaurants and grocery stores were also without power.

I learned early on that these calamities are simply part of life.  Emergency preparedness is also be a part of life. How grateful I am for the lessons I’ve learned! I am also grateful that we, as a family, have always known exactly what to do in case of emergencies, such as where to go, what to do, and knowing that – no matter what happens – we are resilient enough to survive. How grateful I am that we, as a family, have always made emergency preparedness part of our everyday lives, and that every family member is included, trained and rehearsed.  I’m thankful that we have practiced for such resiliency together!

While I was trying to figure out what to right I did some brainstorming. I thought these were great ideas that might be useful to others, enjoy!

Emergency & Personal Preparedness Brainstorm

To be prepared is half the victory.  – Miguel De Cervantes

I know that when disaster strikes or calamities show their face in my life that I have a plan and back up to ensure the safety of myself, my family and the people around me.

I come from a family that is really big on Emergency Preparedness. For this, I am grateful since I was a little girl, I have always known what the action plans were and where to check for updates in cases of emergencies, In addition they have helped me be more aware of disasters or situations that might occur. We also grew up with learning how to develop a one-year food storage, how to appropriately store and rotate thru our daily living as well. They were also very big in teaching us wilderness survival as well. As a single adult, I have adapted these lessons to be applicable to me. I have utilized the lessons they taught and random documentation that I have received thru the years to build up my food storage supplies in tandem with my wilderness survival. I know that in the case of an emergency I go to my Uncle’s home, which is the epicenter of our family and where there have been extra measures taken to ensure the safety and long-term well-being of our family unit. While living back east (nearly 3,000 miles away from my family) I knew I needed to do all I could to ensure of my survival in the case of an emergency for myself. Truly realizing what works best for me to always be prepared.

Some ways I have helped myself be prepared:

Automotive Emergency Kits

  •  Road Side Emergency (Things for my vehicle, mini cones, shovels, jumper cables, etc.)
  • 72 Hour Food Kits for each seat in my vehicle (you never know who might be with you – and frankly I would be one to share, I wouldn’t be able to not share to help us all survive.)
  • Emergency Preparedness Kit for 2 people (Sunscreen, Medication, First Aid Kit, Matches, etc.)
  • Water
  • Blankets, Jacket, Tennis Shoes, Sunscreen, Extra clothes,
  • Baseball, Bat, and 2 mitts, Couple Deck of Cards. (These might help you keep your sanity if stranded. They also serve multiple services such as the bat could be a weapon if need be and the deck of cards could help you start a fire.)
  • I am lucky enough to have a large cargo area in addition to many ‘cubby holes’ that have a lot of extra hidden storage, I utilize ever cranny I can find.

Wilderness Survival Kit

  • I enjoy camping I always have so while I was building my camping gear kit I realized this would be another great dual action collection! Thus, I built my camping/wilderness survival kit as easy to gather as possible (although wheels might be a good addition).
  • I built my kit into a large tote, and have my tent and sleeping bag in another easy to grab and tow bag (with wheels). In the case of an emergency I simply grab these two items that are packed to the hilt with everything I could find for camping/wilderness, and I don’t have to scramble threw the entire home for the items I need, in addition to an extensive first aid kit. At this point, my contingency plan is to grab them, throw them in the back of my truck, and go to safer ground, if I must vacate.

Home Survival

  • At home I do have an additional extensive first aid kit, in addition to 72 hour kits for all occupants of my home (I always include all roommates, and housemates depending on how large of place and how many other residents. My reasoning is the same as the vehicle… I can’t watch these people be in need and I not share.
  • I also have been building up my year’s supply of food storage just a little extra every time I go shopping (1 or 2 extra items each time and buying in bulk). I make it a point to also get other non-food essentials such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent, deodorant, contacts, etc.

Ways I have already benefited from my preparedness:

  • The number one benefit I have gained from being prepared has been in-between employment when I either have been low on funds, or ran out completely. I was able to use my food storage and not go hungry!
  • I first learned the true value of being prepared while living in both Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, where we would have at least a tornado a week, during tornado season. Each time that this would happen, we would lose all power & gas. It wasn’t uncommon that it would be followed by flooding and due to the small size of the community; we’d be down for days. These turned into some of my favorite times because of the quality time with our mom in the basement safe from the danger. We never went hungry or had to spend too much time in the dark because of my parents’ proactiveness of having food storage, ways to prepare it and a stockpile of candles and matches.
  • In my old home in Pennsylvania, which was on an old county road in the middle of the forest, I would regularly loose my electricity, due to wind, branches, snow, etc.  This would also terminate use of my stove, oven and the oil furnace that heated our home and water, not to mention that the electric would also power our water-well pumping it into the house and of course lights, etc. We were always ok because I had my grill to cook on with extra propane; I could also heat water when needed. We always had a surplus of candles as well which would give us light to see by and games to play so we didn’t go stir crazy. I also had a stockpile of dried wood for the fireplace so that we had heat, which was always good when we’d be snowed in for a week at a time. My tenants/roommates would always tell me how they thought I was crazy until we lost power for the first time when they were in the dark with no water or heat until I pulled out my supplies and forward thinking.

Ways this has impacted my attitude when emergencies arise in the workplace:

  • I know that when disaster strikes or calamities show their face in my life that I have a plan and back up to ensure the safety of myself, my family and the people around me. I have had many occasions in my personal life or work life where disaster has struck and have had the opportunity to either step in and take control of a situation or panic with everyone else. I have found because of my life long learning of being prepared the my mind becomes vividly clear and I am able to absorb the situation and possible recovery strategies.
  • For instance, while working as a Property Manger in North Philadelphia with 1,207 residents and 18 commercial units there was always something new happening. Forcing me to be on my toes at all times, especially in a new building. One of my first days in the new position after being left alone for the first time; our concierge service received a package that was ticking, and the Community Assistant that was managing the service at the time was starting to panic. I quickly took matters into my own hands, knowing the franchise standards on the matter and action plans. I immediately examined the package carefully myself, notified the Temple Police and all Security within my building, in addition to the building owners and my regional manager. Within moments the full evacuation started and officials were on site with a full SWAT team for our potential bomb. We managed to handle our first of many evacuations with ease and maintaining a control of panic of the crowd that had just been evacuated while the SWAT Team properly handled and disposed of the package. If I had not been trained and known what to do in the case of emergencies this situation could have easily gotten out of hand, or escalated to a riot or many deaths due to the bomb.

List of Diasters I have Experienced

I thought this was also rather fun. I compiled a list of all the disasters I have experienced, natural disasters, personal disasters, etc. At the bottom I have a list of a few other crazy things that my immediate (or ex-immediate) family (and one close friend) has been through. I find it really fascinating, I never really thought much of any of this until I was told that most of my department at work hasn’t been in any natural disasters or major experiences. Thus, I just had to make a list.

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