Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spotlight on Women #2: Benefits to thinking like a man?

[Note: Alright, I know this is a risky topic to discuss.  I realize that a man discussing it is especially teeth gritting, nevertheless I am willing to go where no man has gone before...just long enough to lead up to the video below.]
There has been a lot (of talk, books, etc. as evidenced by the pictures above) in recent years identifying the differences between the way women and men think and act.  Depending on your point of view one way is thought to be better than the other.  I suspect that both male and female ways are better in certain circumstances.  Each gender's strengths are ideal in certain circumstances.  When they are used in other situations they don't work out quite as successfully sometimes.  Consequently, my conclusion is that there are benefits to both sets of common gender strengths.  The interesting thing is that an individual person, either male or female, typically has traits of both masculine and feminine ways of thinking and behaving.  I suspect that the most well adjusted people are comfortable with skills commonly associated with both genders. 

So if both ways have their pluses and minuses it would seem reasonable to encourage those that are married to work toward "being one".  That would allow the couple all the benefits of each gender combined.  "Being one", to me, means being united or working toward the same goals together.  Included in that idea is that the strengths of both spouses need to be used to further the success of the marriage and the family.  We would expect in a marriage situation that the partners would learn from each other and become better rounded individuals over time, increasingly complementary and overlapping in skill sets.  To me one of the best things that can happen in marriage is when both couples learn to trust, respect and then learn from each other.  

Julie Hanks (click here to go to her website) is maybe best known for her singing under her maiden name Julie de Azevedo.   She is also a therapist with an active practice and shares her ideas on the Internet and other media.  She gave an interview on KSL T.V. recently where she described some benefits for women in thinking like a man.  Here are the five ways she felt could help women:
1.  Be decisive
2. Move on after mistakes
3. Making sex a priority
4. Worry less about feelings
5. Take things at face value
I HIGHLY recommend that you watch this.  I think this would be a great thing to watch together to bring up some great discussion and growth.  As you listen to the video think about yourself and which end of the spectrum you are and then think about your spouse and where they are at with these characteristics.  My wife and I did this and we agreed that some of our individual traits are not at the typical ones you would expect for our gender.  Others were quite typical.  See what you come up with.  I would be interested to hear what you gained from it if you will leave a comment.

Julie Hanks LCSW, "Thinking like a man can be helpful"

After all of that if you want to see one artists conception of possible differences between men and women check out the comic below.  If you are already overwhelmed then just skip it. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


Somewhere between the "Sweet Sixteen" birthday and the initial adulthood birthday of eighteen lies the seventeenth Birthday.  For many it is not that exciting.  Today in our own mild way Haleigh celebrated her 17th birthday and had a great time.  It started with our families traditional going out to eat and ended with of course Bruster's ice cream, but in the middle you can see for yourself.
What could be causing the bag to tremble from the inside?
Very inside joke--surely not a writhing reveler.

It's amazing but her first cell phone at age 17!

And the first call is from her sister Hilary!
A reminder of younger years "Happy Birthday music box" from Grandma.

Not watermelon but even better, art supplies!

Hugs for Grandma!
The "unknown hug".  Anyone can imagine themselves getting that bear hug.
The art portfolio bag with the accurate letter tag.

Modeled by Haleigh herself.
And of course there must be books!
 All this was wrapped up by downloaded music from one sister and an Aunt, a promise of a card in the mail from another and a check from Grandma and Grandpa.  And a day at Dad's work--what could be better?  A great happy birthday to our youngest who is not so young anymore.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What I've been reading #4

One of the things that I love about reading is that you can "do" things that you would never have the opportunity to do, or the courage.  Well maybe if you are like me you wouldn't like to do them but you like to have the experience without the doing.  Here's what I have been reading: 

Winners Never Cheat by Jon Huntsman

This book by Jon Huntsman was really an enjoyable and quick read.  It's basic tennants are to be honest and do what you commit to do, whether in personal life or business.  He has lived his life this way and done some amazing things in the process.  Amazing in his buisiness by making lots of money from an existance that started off with less than most of us, but also amazing in his philanthropy.  He has made philanthropic commitments and kept them whether it be with paying his tithing at church or helping those that needed help.  One thing that especially amazed me was that when he made commitments to help charities when times were good he kept them even when the economy did poorly and he literally borrowed the money to keep his commitments.  Most of us would be unable to do that.  A bank would say we were crazy.  But his bankers, despite advising him otherwise, did loan him the money because of his excellent past of keeping his word and they were confident he would repay them.  A good read with some excellent points in the book. 

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This is a good YA story about two competing groups of aliens that are living among us earth folk.  The good guys (Lorien) look just like us, and the bad guys (Mogadorians) look like scary humans.  The Mogadorians previously destroyed the Lorien world forcing them to send their last few young protectors here to this world.  They were children and each one had an adult to raise them and teach them their heritage.  So when they are teenagers their super powers, called legacies, start to emerg.  A spell has aided the good guys such that they can only be killed in order.  The first three are already dead and now it is number four that the Mogadorians are hunting.  Number four goes from a regular teen to budding super guy within months and then has to fight the Mogadorians who have their own powers not to mention their killing beasties.  So you get a good exciting story with a sequel coming in a few months and I understand a movie on the way as well.  The story is enjoyable but the writing is not real smooth.  Hopefully the author will improve as he goes.  Oh, and one more thing, notice the authors name: he is a leader of the Loriens and is hidden on earth biding his time for the Lorien children to learn to use their powers. 

Heaven is for Real: a little boys astounding story of his trip to Heaven by Todd Burpo

This was a very enjoyable and quick read about a family whose father is a minister.  His son, when he was aged 4 came close to death and had a "near death experience" in which he visited heaven.  The details of this NDE didn't come out immediately and took a long period for the boy to tell about it to his parents.  This book is about that experience which is very interesting.  For the most part I found it in line with revealed information about the spirit world.  For me personally, the part that stuck out was that he met a little girl in heaven who claimed to be his sister and was there to meet him when he arrived.  He only knew his one sister that was alive and well.  When he asked his parents about her he found they had a miscarriage and that was apparently the sister.  Worth reading. 

Hooligan: A Mormon Boyhood  by Douglas Thayer

This is a very enjoyable book about a time about 20 years before I was born.  Douglas Thayer has written about his boyhood in a time and status that we would call poor with simple pleasures.  He talks about his growing up and learning all the little things that we learn, and all the questions that he had along the way.  His is a normal life, one with nothing extraordinary except that he tells it so well that it is fun to see how a boy in Provo Utah would grow up in that day.  It is told very straighforward and if you catch it, with a bit of humor.  I enjoyed this book thoroughly and expect just about anyone else would too. 

So there you are, another group of books that I've enjoyed and feel like that have added to me and not only entertained but taught me a few things as well. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My experience with the Book of Mormon

Mark Mabry art of Christ coming to Nephites in the Book of Mormon
I was reading a blog by a fellow Mormon that inspired me to write a post about my experience with the Book of Mormon.  I have read the Book of Mormon several times and in two languages.  That certainly doesn't make me an expert on it, but it does indicate that I am pretty familiar with it.  The first time I read it through was when I was a teenager and we were challenged in our early morning religion class before school to read it.  I read it in about 34 days.  At that particular time I found it exciting and enjoyable to read.  It touched me with some of the things that were taught in it and I felt like it was what it purported to be, which is scripture. 

I have grown up in the church and learned from the Book of Mormon right alongside the Bible.  I attended three years at a private Christian middle school and had daily Bible classes.  I have loved both books of scripture and found them both to coincide closely in teaching the words of Christ. 

They both bring forth the importance of Christ and the hope that Christ has given humankind.  One difference is that the Book of Mormon seems to concentrate more on the daily application of Christ's teachings as opposed to the Bible which seems more focused on declaring instruction from God to man. 

I use them both in my life to guide me to understand what God wants me to know, to be inspired by his teachings and examples, and then to implement them into my life.  The two together help me see the gospel in a more well rounded way and identify how the teachings apply to me as an American in this modern age.  As one woman I respect (Chieko Okasaki) said "In principle great clarity, in practice great charity".  The two books of scripture together give Christ's teachings more clarity in my mind, and coming from different cultures they help us to view their difference in implementation which allows us greater charity in seeing a larger variety of people attempting to live by Christ's teachings and example in the books. 

In my quest to know if both books are truly from God for our benefit and growth, I have had my prayers answered and know that they are both true books of scripture which together are meant to guide us to correct doctrine and correct practice of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will take the opportunity to study them both, and compare the fullness of God's Spirit that comes from both.  I hope you will allow that Spirit to guide you in your application of the principles taught by prophets and our Savior in both books.

Here is a short video introduction to the Book of Mormon. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Whose hand

Friday I was at an all staff meeting for District 19 Community Services Board.  We were having the typical meeting with various presentations and then it changed.  A singing group and band from the Sycamore Center was there to give an example of healing music.  The Sycamore Center is a day treatment facility for seriously mentally ill people.  The director of the band was remarkably well spoken and well prepared as he presented a speech before their performance. 

All the members of the group were in recovery.  In an effort to have the singers dressed alike they had obtained a white T-shirt for each of them.  Due to their disability most did not wear it with any pizazz at all and looked like a ragtag group.  This was not your typical singing group and several had pot bellies and some looked scared and unsure.  Many looked down in humility as they started the song.  They didn't look very slick or smooth as we are often accustomed with our entertainment.   

But then they started singing "Lean on Me" and all the imperfections fell into the background as the song was more meaningful being sung by people that had really been through some tough times with their mental illness.  They sang beautifully and there were few dry eyes in the audience.  Before it was all done the audience was spontaneously all on their feet, holding hands in a huge circle around the gymnasium where it was held, singing along and swaying to the music .

As the band and singing ended and we clapped loudly for several seconds I realized I had been holding the hand of a woman on my left that I didn't even know and a big fellow on my right.  People I wouldn't typically hold hands with.  But with the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood engendered by the song the whole audience was moved to join together in one big chain of humans in a show of support and caring for each other and appreciation for the music and message.

Even noticing the fingernails and tattoos on the woman to my left made me see that the music had the ability to bring disparate people together and indeed we could all lean on each other.  So in life when we see those who may be disabled, we need to accept that they certainly have talents just like we do that can inspire people to be better and feel the spirit of happiness and love.  Don't count them out but rather let them blossom where they stand.  I wish you could have been there to experience it.

Lean on Me lyrics

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Second Verse
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load you need to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (if you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me
Call me (if you need a friend)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Music #8: Mannheim Steamroller: Sonata

Chip Davis aka Mannheim Steamroller
[Note: I am a music lover and so decided to bring that into my blog by presenting a song that I have enjoyed or have recently been listening to for your enjoyment as well.  If you are interested to check out the other songs I have introduced in the "Monday Music" series then please click here.  In addition there are other songs sprinkled around in previous posts if you want to hunt for them.]

I was introduced to the music of Mannheim Steamrollers when I attended BYU as a Freshman circa. 1980.  At that time we were listening to records on a turntable and cassette tapes [obviously long before YouTube and digital music MP3s].  One of the guys down the hall had brought a nice stereo and had a collection of Mannheim Steamrollers' Fresh Aire Series of records.  To me their music really was a breath of fresh air.  That series eventually grew to eight records I believe but at the time had just the first few.  I listened to that music and it was like opening a new world of music to me.  To me it sounded totally different and I loved it. 

Since that time I have been enjoying their music and sometimes after a period of infrequent listening I rediscover it again.  Naturally that is what has happened here recently for me.  This song is from their first album entitled Fresh Aire.  If you enjoy some contemplative instrumental music you  may enjoy this. 

Mannheim Steamroller: Sonata

Mannheim Steamroller is best known for their Christmas music, of which they have put out several albums and may be the most frequently listened to Christmas music in existence.  Almost certainly you have heard their Christmas music which is played in many stores over the Christmas season.  In addition there are many knockoffs and wannabes of their type of music.

Lisa and I have enjoyed their music so much that we have gone to their Christmas concert twice since we were married.  The first time became known as our most expensive date in probably the first 15-20 years that we were married.  I would recommend their Christmas concert for it's beautiful music and to create some fun memories. 

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia that gives more detail: 

Mannheim Steamroller began as an alias for record producer/composer Chip Davis. The name "Mannheim Steamroller" comes from an 18th-century German musical technique, Mannheim roller an crescendo passage having a rising melodic line over an ostinato bass line.

Chip Davis produced an unusual album of classical music performed entirely by Davis and musical collaborator and keyboardist Jackson Berkey, using electric bass (played by Eric Hansen) and synthesizers.
Since no major label would handle its distribution, Davis founded his own music label, American Gramaphone (a play on the classical record label Deutsche Grammophon), to release the album. The result, Fresh Aire, was released in 1975 under the pseudonym Mannheim Steamroller, in the hopes of the album being a best seller. Fresh Aire II was subsequently released in 1977 and Fresh Aire III was released in 1979. The first four Fresh Aire albums constituted a "four seasons" exploration, with Fresh Aire being spring, Fresh Aire II being fall (less obviously than the others), Fresh Aire III being summer, and Fresh Aire IV being winter. All four of these albums maintained the blend of baroque classical music, light jazz, and a light sense of humor.
Jackson Berkey

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Manly Man Training #14: thoughts determine destiny

We men can be interesting creatures.  Whether influenced by DNA, family training or cultural norms we often learn to keep our thoughts to ourselves and not share them often.  This can impact our lives in a variety of ways.  Many of us have learned that if we choose to keep our thoughts to ourselves that it can often get in the way of our relationships with our wife, if married, or interactions with ladies in general.  When we keep our thoughts to ourselves we don't get practice sharing them and when we enter a relationship with a lady and find that sharing thoughts is an important part of relationships, then we often find ourselves fumbling and inadequate. 

Related to that is we can learn to wall off our thoughts to others and keep them private creating a false sense that we can think whatever we want without causing harm to others.  This is clearly false.  Despite any proficiency that we develop in sealing in our harmful thoughts, those thoughts will leak out in our actions, body language and attitudes.  Thoughts determine what we become and who we drag down along with us, or who we lift up as we go along through life. 

In essence our thoughts become the breeding ground of all of our future and what we can become.  It's not just a case of thinking good or bad things it can also be thinking productive and righteous things or thinking valueless and worthless things.  If our time is spent thinking things of little worth then our thoughts are not germinating righteous behaviors enough or at least as often as would be beneficial in our lives and in the lives of others.  Consequently we become a person who isn't as dependable to the Lord because of our wasting our minds time in thoughts of little worth. 

Robert L. Millet says it this way: "Obviously how we think and what we think about will determine our future, even our destiny.  God and his chosen servants have entreated the men of the Church, those called out of the world, to think eternally as they act daily.  When we think eternal thoughts, our actions will be lasting and worthwhile.  When we think eternally, our impact on our homes and our society will be permanent.  When we think eternally, the things that matter most will never be sacrificed to the things that matter least.  And when we view our lives from an eternal vantage point, we will recognize that we are indeed agents on the Lord's errand; we will then do things his way." (Men of Valor p. 34-35)

In Doctrine and Covenants section 64:29: "Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord's errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord's business."

As manly men we are recruits of the Lord, consequently we are his agents and we need to do things his way.  Of course we will take years to learn and hone those abilities, but if we know now an area we should change then we need to take steps to make that change or be held accountable not only for what we are doing and not doing, but for the good that making that change would lead to in our lives and the lives of others. 

So, bottom line, our thoughts need to be of eternal and lasting things, so that our attitudes and actions will be of eternal and lasting things.  Please make adjustments as necessary. 

"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he."  Proverbs 23:7

Look into what an affirmation is (if you don't already know) and develop 5 affirmations based on eternal values that will guide you in becoming a righteous agent of our God. 
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