Home is Where You Hang your hat: Top Places that are home.

There is a lot of difference between a house and a home.  Houses are full of rooms, held up by nails, wood and mortar.  Homes are filled with love, concern and care.  Houses without occupants eventually start to wither and fall apart.  Homes are filled with people and have purpose, which make them eternal.  Home is also a state of mind, a place you can go to be reminded of who you are and be shielded from the cares and worries of the outside world.  Home is where you can hang your hat and I'm very glad that I have so many hats.  Here are a few places where I like to hang my hat.  These are places I am at home:

1.  My Own House
This is where I am raising my son.  It is where he is creating fond memories.  It is where he will feel loved and supported.  It is the home of his childhood.  This is also home because it is where my husband and I are a team and where we share all our hopes and dreams for the future, together.  Here we build family.  Here is where we build home.

2.  Anywhere my parents are:
I always thought that the house I grew up in was the only place I would feel at home, but as the years have past, I have realized that it isn't the house, it is the people who live there that make a place home.   Sure, the crabapple tree where my friends and I would climb and "pilot an army helicopter," the basketball court where I spent hours, even in the freezing cold, perfecting my free throws, and the kitchen table where we were required to spend twenty minutes each night "eating" will always have a special place in my heart, but those parts of the house aren't what was important.  The love I felt within and without those walls were what mattered.  I am in my parents house as I type this and this is home because it is where they are.

3.  Linda's House
My aunt is a special lady.  She is one of the kindest and caring people that I know.  She has stood up to people who disagree with my religion and she has made her house a safe place for me.  She invites and cares for you when you are there, you never go hungry or thirsty and are always treated to great company and good conversation.  Kindness and love fill the rooms and halls and it is like a vacation at a resort because of the calm you feel there. 

4.  Friend Marla's House
The people don't have to be family to make a house a home.  In Marla's house, I have spent time getting to know her.  It is a place where we shared, laughed, cried and vented.  It was a safe place to share and be supported.  Our friends are the family we choose and I am so glad I have chosen Marla to be an honorary sister.

5.  The Family Cabin
Nestled in the trees of the mountains above Fairview, Utah, the family cabin is a place of true refuge.  There you can listen to birds sing, see critters scatter, breath fresh air, and always be surrounded by family.  Lasting memories are made each time we gather there for Thanksgiving and stuff our faces on delicious food.  There is lots of love in the production of that food as well as in the words and laughter.  Here we share and feel love.

What are your places that are home?  Comments people, they make the world go round! :)


Things I felt today.

1. Nostalgic
We rode on one of these:
My family ventured to The Waterpark Capitol of the World and did this one activity. Memories of childhood trips to The Wisconsin Dells flooded back. This ride has always been one of my favorites. We once filled up a whole one with our family alone. So many great memories made on a duck. 

2. Happy to be on vacation with my little family: 

We are helping make memories for this little guy. As he sleeps at the foot of my bed, I love that I get to take him on his first adventures and that it wears him out to have such experiences. 

3. Inspired by words:
I would love to post this on my classroom wall. Too bad our politically correct or too sensitive society wouldn't support it. Seriously, sucky people...well suck. 
We need to give our youth more opportunities to be productive and active. Our world is saturated with too much negativity in social media, and media in general. 
And seriously, buckle up. Or not. It's a great population control or as I like to say "survival of the fittest tool!"
Sums it up, no?

4. Surrounded by love. I was not only surrounded by some of my favorite people on the planet today, but also by people who love me for me. 

5. So glad I get to spend forever with these two:
Reuben's face is priceless. I married a man who makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day. That is a true gem. And we made a cute pack of endless energy and joy!!! We are blessed. 

We plan on enjoying every last minute of our time in Wisconsin. It will fly by but we have memories to make! 


Friday Fun

Pictures are worth a thousand words. I'm a good shot...


Tips Thursday: Writing Tips.

I am having bitter-sweet emotions as my writing class comes to a close today.  Bitter because it is over and I will miss the connections I've made with the people who are now my friends, and the excuse to be writing each and every day.  Sweet because I have become a better writer and a teacher and I also now have some time to go play with my family in Wisconsin.  Before all these wonderful memories become more fuzzy in my head, I wanted to write down a few tips for writing.

1.  Write.
Make time for it.  Play with words.  Get creative.  It doesn't matter what you write but it does matter that you are writing. Just start with what comes to mind and go with it.  Maybe while writing about something you didn't think was significant will bring many ideas to you.  I know that while I was writing about a specific writing prompt in my class, I would often get ideas for other things to write about.  When you exercise and use your writing brain, it starts to work that creativity muscle.

2.  Figure out how you write best.
I am the sort of person who writes with pen and paper for my first draft.  I just get ideas better to paper than just to my fingertips on the keys of the keyboard.  But that could be different for you.  You may be a solely typer kind of writer.  If you are a paper kind of writer like me, you need to find your preferred writing utensil.  For me it is a gel pen.  I thought it was the G2 by Pilot, but now it is these fabulous Korean fine-tip pens.  They rock.  Sometimes it is pencil though and that pencil better be very sharp.  The paper also matters.  I gather ideas in a tiny notebook that I can carry in my pocket, but I like bigger notebooks to write my drafts.  Fancy journals don't work as well as just plain old composition notebooks.  But again, you need to fine what you like.

3.  Don't be afraid to fail.
Sometimes I really didn't like the subject I was writing about, but I just went with the idea. Sometimes it was horrible and boring writing but sometimes it blossomed into something more.  I do know that it is important to write about something you are interested in.  So if it isn't working, move on.

4.  Be willing to be vulnerable.
It is really hard to share your writing at first, but having the ideas of others really can help your writing and the whole process of writing. I loved my writing group in my class and I really hope the three of us continue to read each other's writing and help each other to write better.  The more you share, the easier it is and the better your writing will get.

I think those are the most important things I have learned about my own writing process.  What kind of things would you write about?  What are your writing preferences?


Writing Wednesday

Here is my polished poem that I published for my class anthology:

Cemetery Contemplation 
by Alice Ficklin

I sit feet away from a baby girl
Who died about three months before I was born.
I wonder what she would have been like today.
            Would we have been friends?

I sit yards away from an open tomb
Expecting its occupant’s arrival today.
Whose partner has waited nearly thirty-three years
To meet his sweetheart again.
I wonder what that reunion would be like today.
            Would seeing their glorious reunion bring comfort to the broken hearts of those who lost Mom, sister, or grandma?

I scan the hundreds of faded, weathered and worn headstones
Each of them representing a person,
Each a person who was important to somebody.
I wonder if the memories of those lost begin to also fade with time.
            Will I one day be forgotten?

I see flowers and trinkets
On or near many of the markers
Only the most recently erected have such tokens
I wonder about those who surrender these momentos.
            Will their giving hearts ever be mended?

I realize that this sanctuary is for us; the living
Here we come to remember and to reflect.
This spot is not for them; the dead are not present.
I wonder if they ever look down on their own graves.
            Would they find our gatherings and rituals strange and unnecessary?

I notice walls surrounding this memorial
A separation allowing us to leave our world behind for a moment
A holy site giving solace from problems, worries and cares
I wonder if everybody feels this peace within the walls.
            Are these bricks enough of a separation for all?

I feel the stillness
As I contemplate my purpose here on this planet,
The fact that I too will one day die
Leaving this world and all my earthly possessions behind
I wonder what I’ll see as most important on that last day.
            Will I be scared?

I reflect on what is truly significant
The flowers and trinkets mean nothing to the dead
But the people who visit matter
I wonder who will visit my future grave.

            Will they know I loved them enough?


Top Ten Things I Have Learned from My Writing Class

Not sure all of you know, but I have been in a writing class the past few weeks.  It is called The Central Utah Writing Project Summer Institute.  It is aimed at teachers to become better writers themselves and to also help those teachers use writing more effectively in their classrooms.  I will be honest, I came to this class for very selfish reasons.  I am a writer(it is one of my big passions) and I wanted to get myself to be a better writer and in turn get closer to being a published writer.  Well, that is definitely happening, but I think that this class is making me more passionate about teaching and about getting my students to write better.  I think it is making me a better teacher.  Crazy!

I thought I would use today's Top Ten Tuesday to tell you all about what I have learned in this class.

Top Ten Things I have Learned in My Writing Class:

1.  I am a WRITER.  
I knew this before, but I really am becoming more confident in my writing and the passion for doing it has been ignited within me.  I used to be very afraid of sharing my writing, but now I am actually wanting to share it.

2.  I learn more about teaching from other teachers.
Teaching is an amazing profession.  It is a very hard profession, but it has the potential to change the world because we, as teachers, touch the future everyday though our students and what they can become. In class, we have had the opportunity to present a problem we have faced with writing in our classroom.  In each of those presentations, I have learned something about my own teaching and my classroom.  I thought I would leave with the answer to my big question about one of my writing assignments that I had presented in my demo less, but I have come away with so many more answers and ideas to use in my classroom.

3.  You can make friends at any time of your life.
Two weeks ago, these eighteen people were strangers, but now I consider all of them my friend. Lately, I have felt like I don't have a whole lot of friends that I hang out with and that may be true, but friendship is morphing as I get older and as I have different things going on in my life.  I need to realize that I need to reach out more and find ways to have more friends and have opportunities to interact with people.  People are awesome!

4.  We are writers.
If you speak, you are a writer.  Writing really is just talking to paper or to a computer screen.

5.  I am doing a good job at teaching.
We are all guilty of second guessing ourselves and I do this all the time as a teacher.  I feel like I am not good and that I am not teaching my students anything.  The truth is that I am doing a good job and need to get over my thoughts about my inadequacy.  I think one of the most important things about anything we do is that we are trying to get better and I am getting better year after year!

6.  Mr. Brewer was wrong.  Dead wrong(no pun intended)!
Mr. Brewer was my poetry teacher in college.  He ripped apart my poetry.  Those little red lines were like the blood of my heart flowing as he broke it.  I told myself that I sucked at writing and that I didn't have a knack for poetry.  That was wrong and I am rising above.  In fact, one of the pieces I am working on for this class is a poem.  Take that Mr. Brewer! (And seriously, I never was really mad at the man, he was only trying to help me be better.  He has my complete respect.  May he rest in peace!)

7. I need to write everyday.
In order to be a writer, you have to do it everyday.  That means I need to make time for it.  Just like I exercise my body(or need to more) I also need to exercise my writing muscles in order to become better at it!

8.  Writing is a BIG part of who I am.
Writing is passion to me.  It is a big part of who I am.  I am so glad this class ignited the fire inside me to be creative and working on getting better at writing.  I am so thankful for this!

9.  Revision is important and doesn't have to be punishment.
I think I have been afraid of revision in the past.  It really has felt like punishment to go back and re-read what I have written.  The best part about this is that when I do go back, I see that I have talent and there are always things to add and change to make my writing better.  GO!!! REVISION!!! GO!!!

10. I need to be a part of a writing community.  Networking is key.
I need to find ways to be around other writers on occasion.  It has been so helpful to have my little writing group in this class to help me with my writing.  They see things in my writing that I don't see.  They have suggestions that I would have never thought of.  I am definitely going to keep many of these people around to help me be motivated to write and to become a better writer.  I LOVE THIS!!!

So there you have it.  The past few weeks have been so big in my life.  Maybe you should think about what your passions are today.  What things makes you happy when you do them?  Think about it and then do it.  And do it everyday!  Do it multiple times a day!  This life is much too short to miss out on the things that make you truly happy.  I expect some comments about what you plan on doing today and what you love to do!  If you write it, it becomes reality!


Three Whole Years...

Three years ago today, I married my best fishing buddy.  It is crazy how fast three years goes.  We talked about that last night and how it just flew by like that.  I really did luck out in the husband category.  Reuben is kind, generous, cooks, cleans, is an amazing dad, makes my life easier(just like he promised) and loves me no matter how grumpy, emotional or hard to get along with I can be!
Aren't we just so cute.  We stopped at Rushmore on our way to Wisconsin in July 2012.

I decided to write an acrostic poem to celebrate us:

Team Ficklin

Three years go by so quickly together,
Eternally connected to
An amazing, amusing, affectionate
Funny fishing buddies united
Interesting, entertaining, hardly serious
Conversations while
Kindly ignoring some politics
Living, loving, laughing, learning, polishing
Now and forever, teammates!

Being married to Reuben is truly an adventure and I am loving the journey.  He is my rock, my biggest supporter, my silly man, made me a mother and made this cute family with me! I am so glad I got him.  He was definitely worth the wait.


To my baby that wasn't meant to be here.

I wrote this letter a few days after i miscarried. I write letters to Ellis every month and I found it therapeutic to write this letter. I'm going to publish it on the day I would have been due with the baby I lost. It just seemed fitting that he/she should have a letter from me too.

Dearest Baby Angel-
We were expecting your arrival in June 2015. It was pretty early on in my pregnancy but we had decided to tell a few people. I was so scared when I started spotting last week and it was worse because I just kept thinking that something was wrong and that I would lose you. I am so glad I had told people because each and every one has reached out to me with kind words to comfort me. 

I lost you on Saturday the 8th. Exactly 4 months before my 38th birthday. It was horrible. I said, "oh baby" many times during the night as I bled and bled. 

I guess you are just too good for this harsh world and that God needs you for some more important work elsewhere. Your dad and I talked about it and we know without a doubt that one day we will get to meet you, and I am promising that I will take you in my arms and make up for the lost cuddles we missed out on here. The past few days as I have rocked your older brother, I have thought about you and often wept. 

We didn't get to know you but do know that you were already loved by parents who wanted you so very much. We prayed for you often in the past six weeks and were excited for you to join  our family. 

Things always happen for a reason but that doesn't make hard things any more easy. I'm sure with time the pain I'm feeling will subside but know you will never be forgotten. 

Love you much. 


Fun Friday

We don't get a whole lot of time to fish lately because of the wee one(we worry he will jump in!), so we decided that we would go on an adventure to celebrate our upcoming anniversary.  This happened Saturday, but I figured it went with the Fun Friday theme.
Lake Selfie
I'm so glad I married my best fishing buddy and a great cook.  Here he is harvesting crawfish for a dip we ate on Father's Day.  Delicious.  


Two Tips for Readers

1. It is okay to be reading more than one book at a time. I'm reading four currently. 

2. If you do not like a book, you do not have to finish it. In the words of my favorite librarian: "There are too many good books in the world to waste your time on a bad one!"

I met an author today at my class. He opened my world to the graphic novel. Give Nathan Hale a read if you get a chance. His historical graphic novels are funny, cleaver and make history fun! This YouTube video is a lot like his presentation today. It rocked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsagIbxDfpU&sns=em


Writing Wednesday: Poem

For my class, we have to polish two pieces of writing.  I am thinking that this will be one of mine.  I am looking for some feedback on this piece.  Do you like it? Does it makes sense? Are there parts that are confusing or need revising?  What are you favorite parts?  Thanks for your input, and enjoy.

Cemetery Contemplation
I sit feet away from a baby girl
Who died about three months before I was born.
I wonder what she would have been like today.
            Would we have been friends?

I sit yards away from an open tomb
That waits for its occupant to arrive today.
Whose partner has waited for nearly thirty three years
To meet his sweetheart again.
I wonder what that reunion would be like today.
            Would seeing it comfort the broken hearts of those who lost
                        Mom, sister, or grandma today?

I scan the hundreds of worn and weathered headstones
Each of them representing a person
Each a person who was important to somebody
I wonder if those memories begin to also fade with time.
            Will we all one day be forgotten?

I see flowers and trinkets
on or near many of the headstones
Only the most recent have such tokens
I wonder about those who leave such tokens.
            Will their hearts ever be mended?

I realize that this place is for us; the living
Here we come to remember and to reflect
It’s not for them; the dead are not here
I wonder if they ever look down on their own graves.
            Would they find our rituals strange and out of place?

I notice the walls that surround this place
Separating this place from the outside world
Allowing us to leave that world for a moment
To feel the peace and the quiet of this place
To reflect about what we are doing here
About the fact that we will one day die
I wonder about that day for me
            Will I be scared?

I reflect on what is truly important
Those flowers and trinkets mean nothing to the dead
But the people who visit and those who now rest matter
I wonder who will one day visit my future grave.

            Will they know I loved them enough?


Top Ten Tips to My Single Friends.

Most of you know that I didn't get married until I was older, which is more and more the norm in our society, but if you happen to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you may feel a bit of pressure to get married, especially if you are over 30.  I have been thinking lots about writing a book about some of the tips I would give for surviving your thirties as a single woman in the church.

Do you think people would want to read it?  Let me know your thoughts on this subject, and here is a Top Ten of ideas that may make my book:

1.  Love You
If you can't love yourself, I'm sorry to be blatantly clear, but people won't like you and seriously, men will never love you.  You must take care of yourself.  The love you have for you is reflected in how you manage stress in your life, take care of  your body, and how you talk about yourself.  Find time to relax, eat well and exercise often, and be positive when referring to yourself.

2.  Travel
You will never regret getting out and seeing the world.  And when you get tied down with the responsibilities that come with marriage, you won't get the chance to see the world, especially when you become a parent.  I am so glad I saw England, Scotland, and Russia.  I hope I will one day get to travel again, but for now road trips will be an adventure with kiddos.

3.  Do What You Like to Do
Don't sit around pinning about what you want your life to look like(the perfect little house, with a perfect little yard, with a perfect husband and six children).  Get out and do the things you like.  First, get educated and get a good job.  Work in a field that fascinates and stretches you.  Do something you love to do each and every day(if you are able, do 20 things you love to do!).  Doing things you love make you happy and happy people are very attractive and desirable.  Finding purpose in your life is the best give you can give yourself and to anybody who will come along to woo you.

4.  Be Open 
Get out of your shell of safety a bit.  Be open to do things that aren't easy and may not be exactly what you like.  This will open many doors to you and you will learn lots about yourself.  Be open to experiences in the dating world too.  Date and date and then date some more.  Never, ever say no to a date offer.  You limit yourself when you aren't open.  You may often overlook guys based on what they are into or by what you assume they are like.  Realize that you will never ever find the perfect man, he does not exist.  But you will find the perfect man for you.

5. Be Less Judgemental.
People are not perfect.  Not all people are like you.  Not all people will like you.  It doesn't matter.  LOVE THEM ANYWAY.  Women are tough on each other.  Quit it.  We are on the same team.  Build instead of knock down.  You will find that you can be friends with anybody and it is important to have a wide range of personalities in your friend sphere.  Different views can help you make better decisions and treat people better.  Again, there are no perfect men either and many by our age have a slew of issues.  I am not saying to not judge righteously but I would have never dated Reuben, if I judged him based on the things he did the ten years prior to us meeting.

6.  Be Spiritual
God wants to lead you on your journey.  He also wants to comfort you and knows all your challenges. Pray, read the good word, and have faith.  Without faith one is lost.  When you are in tune with the spirit, you will be able to make wise decisions and you will also be happier.

7.  Find a Good Support Network
You may live alone, and feel alone, but reach out to others.  Find places where you can find good friends and treat your friends well.  Call them, invite them.  You will sit around a long time waiting for their calls and invites.  Do it!  Learn how to communicate your feelings too because that helps so much in relationships and hello, friendships are relationships!

8.  Be Financially Responsible
Don't be afraid to invest your money.  Real Estate is a great investment.  Do not be afraid to save your money and buy a house.  Homeownership is amazing and you aren't just throwing your hard earned money away to a landlord.  I wish I had done this before I was married.  Also, get good at taking care of your money.  It is a great thing to keep you free from the bondage of debt and will help you when you do get married.

9.  Be Healthy
Now, many people have a hard time with this one.  I am not implying that you become what I refer to as a skinny mini, but it is important to be at a healthy weight.  I am not there now and I hate it because I just don't feel good.  I am tired, emotional and can't do things I like to do.  Learn to eat healthy and also to move more.  You don't have to run marathons, but you should be moving.  Walking is an easy way to get exercise in; everybody can walk!  A body in motion stays in motion.  A body at rest tends to stay at rest.  When people quit moving they quit doing good things, and you have lots of great things to do.  I also hate to say it, but guys are physical beings.  No matter how we try to change them, they notice our bodies first.  I'm so sorry for that, but really this matters!

10.  Be Happy and Don't be Offended Easily
I am sorry to say this too because I have heard a few people get offended by this. You choose to be happy.  Yes, you may have an issue that needs to be addressed with medicine, but really you have a lot of choice in this.  Pessimists die sooner than optimists.  It is proven through science.  Happy is attractive, just sayin'.  I hate when Reuben is down.  It makes clouds surround all of us.  And with offense, which I added because being offended makes you unhappy.  Holding grudges doesn't punish other people, it punishes you.  Get over stuff.  The more you get offended the more you block off people and experiences.  Quit it!


Me Monday

So, do you know me well? 

Could I actually stump you with anything?(I know I threw somebody a little with my tiring of hamburgers!)

Here is a fact about me that you may or may not know...

I LOVE cemeteries.  I always have; it might have something to do with the fact that my dad always took me to the Memorial Day Program.  I don't see cemeteries as scary or weird places(of course I don't hang out in them at night, either).  In fact, I actually find them as very peaceful and calm places. It's almost as if they are places where there is a quiet waiting going on.  See, to me, cemeteries are not the end of this journey we call life, but actually just a little step in the journey of eternity.  We don't end at the grave.

Last week in my class, they had us write about what our last words would be and I had a very hard time coming up with anything because really, when I die, it won't be the end, and I won't be saying last words and really I also think that we should be too busy to worry about coming up with something profound to say at the end.  Our last words really come from what we do and in the person we are becoming through our experiences.  It's how we live our life that matters. 

That's where the peace in the cemetery comes from for me.  Sure, death is sad but really it is sad because of missing people, but really we will see those people again.  This silly life just can't be "it" for me.  It is too full of pain and sorrow to be "it."  Don't you think?

I took a fun little walk in a cemetery today and saw some cool things.  I thought I would share some pictures of my walk.  I did write a little poem too, but it isn't finished yet, so you may have to wait until Writing Wednesday for that!  Enjoy your little virtual tour of The American Fork City Cemetery:

I always am reminded of those who sacrificed so much for our freedom
On a day when somebody would be laid to rest, I was reminded how short this life really is. 
I was also reminded that we are all pioneers. 
This garden was so peaceful and I felt the importance of knowing Christ and his role in eternity!
I hate seeing babies in cemeteries. 
Cemeteries are beautiful!
Tears rolled out with these signs. 

Well, next time you need some peace and quiet may I suggest a cemetery walk?

(Another thing you may not know about me is that I have a very hard time spelling cemetery!)


Friday Fun posted on a Saturday.

We wrote about a food memory first in my class yesterday.  I like what I came up with, what do you think?  What is a memory you had with food.  I really enjoy comments, so if you have stopped by take a minute to tell me.  Happy weekend to you, too!

“What the hell is this?” I exclaimed after the waitress set down a bowl of what looked nothing like I had ordered.

“That’s chili, Rita. It’s what you ordered,” my roommate answered as if I may have forgotten what I actually had ordered and as if she were trying to calm me.

“Oh,” I mumbled as I added a few crackers still a little confused by the plain bowl in front of me. The look on my face must still have been shock because my roommate then said, “What’s the problem?  Never had chili before?”

“No, I’ve had chili before, just not this kind of chili, does it have a special name?”

“No, it’s chili, plain and simple.”

Plain and simple was right.  That was not chili to me.  The chili my mom always made for my family had macaroni in it.  She had a talent for chili and it has always been a favorite of mine.
I told my roommate that it was different than what I was used to and I described what chili was to me.  “Basically the same,” I said, “but with kidney beans and noodles!”
“Oh, you mean chili mac.  That’s good too!” 

My whole world was shattered in that moment.  Chili Mac?  No…Chili.  That stuff here was just boring.
I still break out my mom’s recipe on occasion but to avoid confusion when I invite my friends over, I change the name.
“Wanna come over for some Chili Mac?”