Sunday, August 18, 2013

Be Kind

I discovered one of my favorite quotes a few years ago when I saw it stuck to the wall at the entry of my friend, Syd's, bedroom:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  - John Watson

Last night, Kaiti and I went to the theatre and watched a movie called "The Way Way Back".  The movie made an impression on both of us and we left feeling really good about life.  We talked for a while about our thoughts related to the movie.   

It was a believable story about a real boy in the real world who is able to cope with his hardships and gain some hope because one person took the time for him.  It was well acted and scripted and did not glamorize or embellish elements of the characters' lives.  It just showed the struggle Duncan was going through and the impact Owen made on him.  It left both myself and Kaiti feeling inspired. 

The thing is... I don't know if I had even heard of the film until I stumbled onto a trailer for it the other day.   Meanwhile, you couldn't turn around at any point in the last several months without seeing the hype for movies like Star Trek, Superman, Iron Man 3, etc... All good films, but none of which approach real life or teach us much about how to live.  It is kind of sad, not very surprising, and serves as a good microcosm for how we approach our lives that these unrealistic, glamorized movies meant to entertain for a couple hours and be forgotten get overly marketed and shoved in our faces, grossing millions in the box offices, while a good, realistic show that inspires us to be better people goes largely unnoticed.  

It is so easy to get caught up in our day to day quests for success, social experiences, fun, and entertainment.  In doing so, we often forget to take the time to be kind.  We never know the long-lasting impact that we can have on people's lives if we just keep our eyes open for those opportunities and decide to care.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Angel Mother

Despite it resulting in relatives or acquaintances placing a Christmas phone call to make sure everything is ok, my mom laughed when my brother and I changed her Facebook status to things like "My boogers taste like Christmas." and "I would like to punch a reindeer in the face."

I remember when my mom spilled a pot of homemade stew all over the counter.  She reacted with some choice words, resulting in her inadvertently teaching three year old Leslie the proper use of the word "dammit".  Leslie has never forgotten how to use that word.

My mom laughs a certain way when she's conflicted about the appropriateness of what it is she's laughing at.  One Sunday, at the dinner table, Liz, Leslie, and myself brought the poor woman to tears of laughter when we explained the meaning of the word 'shart'.  If you don't know what that is, you might not want to, but you can send her a message, requesting an explanation.

I remember her carrying me into the hospital to get stitches as a five year old after I had wrecked my bicycle, slamming my head into a stop sign. 

My mom is awesome at doing activities.  Our 2009 Mother's Day game of "Mother, May I?" is perfect evidence:

It's funny how I used to always wish we could eat out more often and now that I'm older and do eat out more, I just wish I could eat my mom's cooking everyday.   She always made sure we had a hot meal that tasted good.  On our birthdays, the birthday child always got to choose what we ate and eat it off the special red plate.

Knowing that the issue could have been solved easily by my dad with a 5 cent bullet, my mom took sympathy on us kids when one of the only cats we had ever cared about was struck by a vehicle, breaking it's hind legs.  We took it to the vet and she paid the bill to have it quietly put down.  It wasn't cheap and we weren't rich, but it made us feel better and that was more important to her.

There have been times when I stand in need of something and, without me ever saying it or asking for help, my mom recognizes what's going on and does something to help me out.  These aren't just small, inconsequential things.  Sometimes they have been things that I could not have gotten by without.  Words can't really express my appreciation.

I've observed as my mom dealt with stresses and adversity that no person should ever have to go through.  I've watched her carry her burdens with unusual dignity and selflessness.  There are all sorts of heroes in this world, but I can say that my mother has fought her battles, which have not been small, with unprecedented amounts of courage.

I can't pretend to know what has always gone on inside her head, but I can say that her actions have always led me to believe that she rarely thinks much about herself. 

My mom personifies everything good that I hope to be.  I'd be an extremely lucky guy to find a woman half as great as she is.  I love you, Mom.  I know "thanks" isn't enough in proportion to all you've done and continue to do for me, but just know that you and your example will be largely responsible for anything good that I do in my life.  
Oh, and she's real pretty.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Six Years Ago

Today is the six year mark of the death of my friend, Joe.

Joey was just 22 years old.  He was married and had a beautiful two year old daughter.  He and his wife, Teresa, had been sealed in the temple a couple years earlier.  He passed away in a tragic car accident on a Saturday afternoon.  

Joseph Todd Larsen stood 6' 7" tall and could light you up from three point land.  He was known to say the things few would think and no one would say out loud.  He was misunderstood by some people, but when it came down to what mattered, the kid had a heart of gold.  He was the one that, as high-schoolers with no money, would buy a bag of burgers from Arctic Circle with his money because I was hungry and then let me eat more than him.  He was the guy any farmer in Fairview knew would help when they needed an extra hand, no matter the chore.  He was honest.  If I said or did something he thought was stupid, he'd let me know.  Joe was a great father and he worked as hard as anyone I know for his family's happiness.  He was a loyal friend, he displayed more loyalty than a lot of people deserved, myself included. 

I think of Joe a lot.  Today, I was leaving my mom's house to go out to the Fairview Cemetery and visit his grave when my sister suggested I leave an Easter egg on it.  My first thought was "No.", but then I thought about it for a second.  Eggs represent new life and, in turn, the resurrection.  I picked up an egg and a marker and wrote on the egg: "Can't Wait" 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thanks, Dad

for instilling in me a love for the outdoors.
for explaining to me at an early age that "if you can't use your left hand, you're only half a ball player."
for discerning when I didn't need punishment additional to my own feelings of remorse.
for setting an example of looking out for neighbors.
for always interrupting Saturday cartoons to make me work.
for showing me that we can bounce back from our mistakes.
for driving your truck and trailer to Albuquerque and back to bail me out of a bad situation.
for criticizing my grammar when it weren't good.
for being my friend.
for expecting me to abandon stupidity (and kicking me in the butt when I didn't).
for waking up early every morning to take me to basketball practices so I could do something I loved.
for convincing me the driveway should be shoveled now, not later.
for demonstrating that man is bigger than his struggles.
for letting me have a b.b. gun.
for noticing my accomplishments, big or small.
for not buying me a Nintendo.
for expressing it when you're proud of me.
for assuring I could do man things like change my oil and drink Pepsi.
for finding opportunities for the family to spend time together.
for helping me realize that wealth is in experiences, character, and relationships, not possessions.
for your part in giving me two brothers and three sisters who I wouldn't trade for anything.
for being sure that I spent enough time at the farm to appreciate my incredible grandparents.
for making me proud to be an Olson.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Residual Casualties

I had a near death experience Friday.  It wasn't me who nearly died, well actually... I could have died.  As close as it was to resulting in the end of me, it was even closer to exacting genocide upon my posterity.

I'm at work on the golf course.  Dale, Lucas, and I are standing in the triangle formation, deliberating about the best beautification process and methods for the creek we're standing next to.  Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly when I use that word, something strikes me, coming across the upper thigh/crotchal region.  Dr. Dre says "The track hits your eardrum like a slug to your chest"... well the golf ball hit my money area just like that.  I "happened" to be holding my cowhide work gloves in the perfect protective position.  I'd say I heard a voice tell me to do so, but I'm sure if I'd been listening to that type of voice it would have just told me to watch out for the idiot with no control over his driver 40 yards away.

Dale instinctively made the comparison to John Taylor being shot and surviving in Carthage Jail.  I found the analogy  a bit overkill, but that was the first thing he thought of.  Plus, he was pretty shaken up.  More shaken up than I was even.  I guess it was within inches of nailing him.  Three feet higher and it could have been the back of his head, my eyeball, or my mouth.

The result is a broken cell phone (it was located just perfectly on the inside of my pocket), a six inch welt on my leg, and a new appreciation for reproductive capabilities.  I like hamburgers, love milk, and appreciate how leather gloves discourage the development of blisters, but I never really thought of cows as protectors of my posterity.  My paradigm has shifted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Misery. Regret. Misfortune.

As Ja Rule once said:  "Gather 'round.  I got a story to tell."

Wednesday morning (June 16th) I get word from my friend/roommate/coworker, Dale, that I will be running the Wasatch Back on Friday (June 18th).  Great, right?  This is something every runner would absolutely love to do, right?  Right.  Every runner would love to do this.  The problem for me is that I am not a runner.  Since the Vegas Ragnar in October I have been the opposite of a runner.  I hate running. 

So yeah, no training whatsoever, Dale and I both agree to this torturous event that makes me honestly wonder about the sanity of our species.  The scary part is that these lunatics that choose (we were forced) to participate in this thing can reproduce.

LEG 1:  5.6 MILES from Hyrum to Paradise
               I ran it in 43 minutes, which averages to 7.6 minutes per mile, passed ten people, and got passed by five.  Because my knee felt ok for this run, I was able to run hard and cause myself to dry heave six times with an actual barf between the third and fourth heaves.  The coolest was that my final three dry heaves came when I was coming up on the finish with over a hundred people standing there watching.  I bet I looked awesome.

Mid-dry-heave at the finish of the 1st leg

Me, Marianne, and Angela as I was searching for some shade to recover.

LEG 2:  4.9 MILES through the rural community of Enterprise in the Morgan Valley
                I discovered on the first leg that when I was thinking too much about how much I hated running, I could look around and admire the beauty of the landscape and my pace would pick up.  This run was SO beautiful.  Too bad I couldn't enjoy a second of it.  If you've ever had I.T. band problems, you'll understand.  My knee was being such a jerk to me that I felt like quitting on this run after about a quarter mile.  Luckily, Emy, a friend from my old ward came up to pass me and, although she was running faster than I wanted to at this painstaking point, I figured this was the only way I could finish.  I ran along the side of her.  She pulled me through til the last mile of the run, where I had to let her go ahead while I stretched my hip and knee quick.  As I passed the "One Mile Left" sign by myself, some tall guy passed me.  
"Good work", I say.  
"Go, baby, let's GO!  Finish this strong, baby!", he responds.
           My pace picked up for about 500 feet.  He helped me.  Then, as I came up on the last half mile, I noticed the lady I was about to pass was limping the same way I was.  I slowed down just a little and ran with her, figuring I should pay forward the help Emy had given me.  We bonded over the I.T. band problem we had in common and finished the leg together.  I felt like I had exhausted all of my mental strength just to finish this leg.  I honestly had no clue how I was going to run the next one.

LEG 3:  7.9 MILES along Jordanelle Reservoir, 730' elevation gain, 616' elevation loss
              I am a pansy.  Of this 7.9 mile stretch, I only actually did six miles of it, almost two of those miles, I had to power-walk.  A couple of my team members filled in and ran stretches of it for me.  I utilized my previous strategy of latching on to another runner and going at their pace for a good part of this leg.  It helped.  I was able to do the last mile of the run and cross that exchange point on my own power.  It was a small miracle that I did that much, but I still feel like a weakling idiot for letting someone else run part of my leg.

This may have been the worst decision of my life, but I got a sweet medal out of it.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just Different

Living in a new place is weird.  I knew a lot of people in Logan.   Check out this song.  I like it.