Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jacob, a Fish Tank, and Two Gallons of Milk Walk Out of a Store

Before my car and I met Jacob, he decided to take a fish tank on a walk to the grocery store. See Jacob didn't have a car and he didn't have whole milk, and the latter of those two problems was something he could fix, but it meant walking to the grocery store and then walking back with the gallons of milk pinching his fingers, which to him was worth it for the luxury of whole milk. 

But he'd gotten tired of the pinching, so he brought the fish tank. Because a strapping young man like him could carry a fish tank full of milk jugs better than he could handle the plastic gallons squeezing his fingers as he walked. It was in this state that some people he didn't know and that I will never meet found him—carrying the fish tank with the milk, successfully, sort of, at least as successfully as something like that can be done. This family saw his balancing act and offered him, his fish tank, and his groceries a ride home. 

I had never heard this story until I read Jacob's account of it on a site called Anonymous Thank Yous, and when I did I cried. 

Jacob wrote it to say thank you to the people who gave him a ride long ago. I'm writing this for the same purpose, because it turns out that the thought of my husband struggling down the street with an aquarium full of milk kills me. It's enough to make me mad at myself, Katie, where were you when you could have been helpful?, even though I didn't even know him then. 

Thank you, anonymous family—thank you for taking care of my husband who has brilliant ideas that are also unusual and who may be the most lovely and wonderful person I have ever met.

This Thanksgiving, consider using Anonymous Thank Yous to thank a stranger who has touched your life. I'd love to read your stories. You can leave a link to your post in the comments here. I'd also love to hear if anyone else has ever decided to carry their groceries in a fish tank. Anybody? Anybody?

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Friday, November 22, 2013

So Very Fine

What does this picture have in common with this picture? Guess.

Run out of guesses? Okay, fine. I'll tell you.

The nice man who took my wedding pictures (including generously lending me the twenty dollars in his pocket so I could have a carriage ride) is also the same fellow making these gorgeous iPad stands—the Coburns.

Last year, Levi (kind photographer man) and Eric, both former coworkers of mine, launched their first Kickstarter product, two minimalist iPad cases, which set off the Fine Grain brand with a bang. The Coburns, like their predecessors, are clean, beautiful, and simple. I don't have an iPad, but if that day comes, I'm heading straight to Fine Grain.

I can't believe I forgot to mention their product in my recent post about my addiction to Kickstarter, especially since most good things I know about Kickstarter come from watching Levi and Eric's success there.

I don't highlight them here because they desperately need your support, but rather because it's such a great product that they don't. Within a few days of launching, the product was already fully funded.

Now, it's just a matter of jumping in and snagging a set before they're all gone: Christmas gift anyone?

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Latest Hipster-esque Addiction

This addiction of mine is dangerous. I'm tempted to throw all my money at it.

In a way I'm just following the crowd. Luckily, it's a crowd led by innovative students in the BYU Kickstarter class. Check out my post about their sweet new products, which got me hooked on crowdfunding in the first place.

Top Kickstarter products on my Christmas list? Definitely the Delight Bulb planter with its invigorating color and the sleek Linear Calendar.  

Super, on the other hand, thinks Playsets—not from BYU but stunning nonetheless—might be the next coolest thing in gaming. It only has eight more hours left. Don't let the crowd leave you behind.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Mom Inadvertently Joined the Cancer Club

It was hard to hear my dad report back everything the doctors had told them about my mom's colon cancer as I sat in their home. Hard for many reasons, but partially, it's hard because apparently, I had expectations. My mind kept rethinking, "This is that moment where my mom tells me she has cancer." I didn't realize I had an idea of what a moment like that would entail, but I did. 

The most encouraging phrase she and my dad offered was that the oncologist had told them, "It will be a rough year." There were no final sentences or timeframes, just "a rough year."

For the most part, my mom's month of chemo and radiation treatment has been very calm. Her body handled it pretty well until the last week. With burns on her hands and feet and feeling too weak to walk, my mom heroically pushed through the last few rounds of treatments. 

The side effects of chemo are subsiding, and now, she will have her tumor removed surgically in the next little while. We think things will be fine, but we appreciate prayers sent our way nonetheless. She has shown a new courage and fortitude since this all began. She surprises me every day with her ability to take it all. 

I wonder if people realize they have such strong ideas about cancer before it taps them on the shoulder. We interact with it so frequently in forms of billboards and fundraisers, but those don't mean as much until you realize you've somehow joined the cancer club. 

Pardon my lightness. It's just comforting to think sometimes that cancer isn't something you can entirely avoid. EVERYONE should be screened, of course: colonoscopies, mammograms, whatever it takes to be on the defensive, do it. 

But outside of those things, and maybe smoking, cancer isn't exactly something you get because you were too unhealthy. Modern medicine may reveal otherwise eventually, but for now, it's simply: my mom has colon cancer and we fight it. There aren't any what-ifs.

So far, the fight is going well. When she completed her radiation treatment, the doctors gave her a certificate of completion and a bottle of sparkling cider to celebrate. 

She says that aside from her own birth and giving birth to my brother and me, it's the only certificate she's ever earned. I, for one, though, am very proud of her involvement in each one. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm Ready! I'm Ready?

I'm writing this post because I feel like writing a post, which actually means I feel like doing everything.

I'm ready to do market research for a startup. I'm ready to scrub the baseboards. I'm ready to make posters. I'm ready to finish off my freelance job. I'm ready to write about everything in my head. I'm ready to sew dresses. I'm ready to cook dinner. I'm ready to read real books. I'm ready to make schedules and plans and nail them all.

Or at least I was an hour ago when I planned out this post in my head. Then I got hungry and frustrated with the library catalog. And my heightened sense of self-worth and ability came down just a notch. That's better than yesterday when it crashed altogether. When that happened, I did things that needed to be done, but inwardly hated it.

My desire to change my world is finicky like that, like an old dog raring to catch a ball who realizes there's not enough reward and its legs are too tired already. Every day is a little bit different. Sometimes I can settle on just one thing to do, maybe it's useful, maybe it's not. Other times I want to do everything and wind up do nothing for lack of decision. And there are definitely days in which I will not and cannot do anything other than the barest of minimums.

But some days I feel like doing everything and I do. I clean, cook, create, cultivate, and conquer, even all before noon occasionally. The troubling part is that when I don't, I stop believing I ever did. I might do all on a Tuesday, but by Wednesday, I'm convinced that I am a lazy, no good person. I'm making slow progress in rejecting that belief on my non-doing days.

But one thing is becoming clear: the doing days will return. No matter how little I feel like doing on any given day, the desire to do more will come back. It may take a day or two, but either way it won't show up again because I told my non-doing self that I was lazily and pathetically wasting away. My self-talk can be as negative as it wants, but it can't bring back the drive.

So, I'm learning to trust, cozy up on the couch, and patiently enjoy watching Psych until the readiness returns and I successfully go and do, because I know I will.

As a side note, I can't use the word ready in any context without thinking about SpongeBob. Does anyone else suffer from this same problem?  
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