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Learning You Can Change: My Experience Watching A Tale As Old As Time

Bravo! Magnifique!

You could hear a pin drop when the movie ended. Even the baby by me stopped crying. The brief silence was then followed with the theatre bursting in applause.

But let’ back up. Let me restart the song, “Evermore,” on YouTube. Here goes.

Hours before…

It was past three and I knew I should get going. I was home alone and a little nervous. Yep. I went by myself but had the little butterflies you get before a date. (Let’s just channel Gaston to make me feel better–of course anyone would get giddy if they went on a date with me!)

But I wasn’t necessarily alone. My parents were already watching Beauty and the Beast in California. My sister and sister-in-law and perhaps my brother, were going to see it later in Texas. So we were all seeing Beauty and the Beast at least a half hour together.

So, maybe twenty minutes in, I got this text from my Mom:
“Hope you are enjoying the show! It is so fun! Love, Mom.”

(Don’t worry. I silenced my phone and would reply after.)

So my mom was so there. I could so feel her presence. When a new sort-of-favorite character was pointed out by Gaston, I gasped and imagined myself turning to her and my sister. We would be saying things like. “It’s her.” “Yes! Yes!” “It’s the—” Then there would be a “Shhh!”

Wait, have to restart “Evermore.” (Sorry Josh Groban; I’m listening to Dan Stevens. I just want stay close to the movie. =)

I know the exact moments I would have interacted with them. Then further in the movie, I got a text from my Dad. I saw it had a picture on it. After the movie, I opened the text that was forward to me and my sisters and saw that it was a picture of my parents dressed in their green shirts holding hands in front of The Beauty and the Beast movie poster.

Then I had the thought.

This is what the movie’s about.

Just pure love and true kindness.

One of my favorite moments was when the um, beggar woman, took care of Maurice. The whole movie was super, but amidst the special effects and extravagance, the tender moments like those stood out to me.

So now let’s go back to the moment the movie was over. Well, it wasn’t really over; the credits were beautiful. The elderly gentleman next to me told his wife, “Boy they have a lot of people working on these movies.”

This couple, maybe six other people, and myself stayed for the entire credits. But I felt like I was almost (almost) with my parents who also most likely stayed through the credits too.( Oh, yeah, at the very beginning of the movie, the man was closing his eyes, and his wife was smiling at the screen, wide-eyed, I thought, This is so like my family.)

So, of course I recommend it! Even the Texas crew loved it. I agree with my sister-in-law that it was better than expected. Absolutely loved it!

The whole experience was refreshing. Learning you were wrong definitely applies to me here.

Okay, one more time listening to “Evermore.”

Or maybe one hundred.

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Sleeping Princesses: Standing Up for Sleeping Beauty and Snow White

I’ve been wanting  to write about the popular damsels in distress for a long time. And since the feminist live action Beauty and the Beast movie is coming to theaters very soon, I’m going to prove how awesome Sleeping Beauty and Snow White actually are.

No, I’m not going to go through modern retellings. However, I have to say that modern observations in health are important when looking at these traditional fairytales. Whether it be waking up from a concussion, seizure, a form of shock, heat exhaustion, an illness, or some other shock that overcame your body, it can be very scary, and sometimes life-threatening.

I know because I’ve been there.

Once upon a time, I nearly got a prince.

Years ago, I was doing some student teaching in the summer. With all the stress, lack of sleep, and heat, I passed out and needed medical help. The paramedics were there in minutes. (So I heard.) I remember waking up and saw some attractive gentlemen hovering over me. They were so sweet asking about how I was feeling and asked other nice questions witnesses told me later. I remember thinking that I couldn’t mess up. Guys like these never approach me! I didn’t want them to think I was stupid. I felt stupid, though, when a fellow classmate gave the following account:

“One of the guys went right by you and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jake. What’s your name?’ And you just looked at him.’” She reenacted a blank stare. “ ‘Can I sit by you?’” My classmate stared again. It was a good laugh.

Despite a fall, I was still in fine health. I hadn’t needed CPR, but apparently I resisted and was scared  when they were trying to stabilize me. I was such an idiot!

Another witness, who always wore her gray hair in a bun, said, “They were hot! You should bake them cookies.”

But someone said the paramedics were probably married.

Darn!

Whatever the marital status, I was grateful for their help, but was alarmed at the insurance bill. I couldn’t help but think, “Well that’s the most expensive date I’ve ever been on!”

In all seriousness, though, I saw the world in a different kind of light. I saw genuine kindness from classmates and mentors. My family still supported me, and I was stronger than I thought I was. I passed and completed that semester.

From a couple weeks to a hundred years, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White eventually came out their drowsiness. They had help, but we know that we must accept help sometimes in order to live.

They managed to ride a horse, dance, and found someone that wanted to marry them. Finding someone that wants to marry you, despite past and present medical conditions, is one of the greatest challenges of all.

So, don’t you dis on Snow White or Sleeping Beauty!  They’re heroines who learned to ignore the negative stigmas placed on their health conditions.

Take that, Belle!

 

Image: Resting by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

 

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Baby Jesus and My Dog, Angel

Beliefs and Speculations

I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he came to earth to save it. He was born of a virgin in humble circumstances. That’s the one of the most important things in this post.

It is interesting when people present theories concerning the Savior’s birth and early childhood. Like—were there actually “three” wise men? Was Jesus really born in a stable?  Was it a cave? Maybe it was a barn. A more reasonable or scholarly interpretation is that Mary and Joseph stayed at crowded relative’s house in a left over room. Were there animals around? Perhaps.

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Was Jesus actually born in a place with animals?

 

The Bible does say Jesus was born in a manger, and so I definitely believe that.

But could animals have truly been nearby? The animal concept has got to me this year.  My best friend, my dog Angel, passed away in November. This day—Christmas Eve day—twelve years ago, my family and I got baby Angel. She was the best Christmas present ever.

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Christmas Eve Day ’04 in front of Save Mart.

 

This season I was introduced to a sweet song.–Alison Krauss and Alan Jackson’s “When the Angels Cried.” The most memorable lyrics: “And the creatures gathered round and didn’t make a sound. And the angels cried.” Now, I don’t know if the animals were hovering over a newborn (don’t want to scare him for life!), but I know what Angel would have done had she been close enough to see Jesus. She would get as close as she could. A certain story relating to Angel and babies sticks out in my mind.

Angel and Baby

One of my favorite memories of Angel occurred this last summer. Just in the backyard. I had a blanket on the lawn and was enjoying my relaxation under the shade. The dogs had already greeted me when I came out and then went to different areas of the yard. That all changed, though, when my brother came outside carrying his baby girl.

He sat down on the blanket with the baby on his lap. Just in a matter of seconds, I noticed Angel, who was chilling on the patio , get up immediately when she saw the little one. Her eyes seemed to say, “Baby!” She rushed over to see the baby and beat the younger dog. Both gave kisses. Angel then rested on an empty spot on the blanket. My mom came outside and sat by Angel. It was a tender moment and one of the best breaks for a keep going summer.

Really, I can’t convey the peace and enjoyment when I saw the two dogs racing to see a baby.

So now I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but Mary and Joseph had to have some contact with animals sometime in Bethlehem, and I bet the animals were as in awe of the newborn as the shepherds and angels! (And remember I once asked—who said that an angel has to be a human?)

It might sound so ridiculous, but I know had Angel been an animal who saw the baby Jesus, she would have passed up humans and animals alike to see Him

It feels weird without my Angel this Christmas season. She’s never far from my mind.

cimg5024-palsShe feels really close as I look at babies and see paintings of the manger scenes.

 

 

Images:
The Nativity by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale
Photographs courtesy of Douglas Patten

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Reflections of All Grandma Wanted For Christmas Was

I originally posted this two years ago. Since then I’ve learned a lot more about these individuals—especially my grandma and dad! I love them so much more! I’ve decided this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas stories. It’s unique and yet has parallels to the first Christmas.

(And if you want the movie rights, leave a comment, and I’ll put you in contact with my dad.)

All Grandma Wanted For Christmas Was…

Christmas of ’76 was memorable for my dad and his family.

Just a few days before that Christmas, my grandpa wrote:

 December 22, 1976 – Geraldine had the operation in the St. John’s Hospital. All went well. We all visited her except John – under 14 not admitted to the hospital…

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My dad tells it to me:

Grandma had to have some surgery, and elected to do it during the holidays because she felt that she would get better service – on account of so many patients wanting to be out of the hospital for Christmas. Gerald and Cathy felt the children should all band together and pay for the operation.  I was going to optometry school at that time and didn’t have a penny to my name.  My 3 youngest siblings were likewise poor. 

So Gerald and Cathy, and also Yvonne and Bill, contributed the lion share of the bill.  They paid it ahead of when Grandpa went down to see how much he owed for the operation and hospital care. 

 I wondered what I could do to help my mom? I hoped that there might be something that I could do for her, as I loved her as much as anyone else. I went up to see her and to try and figure out what that special something could be that I could give. I said to Grandma, “Mom—What would you really like for Christmas?”

 Grandma astonished me with her answer.

” I want to see your little brother”.

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 That might be impossible. My little brother, John, was not old enough (according to the posted signs) to enter the hospital.  The hospital was guarded on the front steps by an armed guard. Gun at his side.

 As I prayed and pondered I remembered the time a few years before when I had dressed up like Santa when the youth of our ward went Christmas caroling. I thought, I could do that again and maybe – just maybe – I could get John in, if he was dressed up like an elf.

 I asked my sisters, Beth and Joyce,if they could help me with John’s costume. I would need green tights and green everything for John. They assured me that they could furnish the costume. I asked John if he was willing to go along with the idea, explaining that there was a chance that it might not work and that we could be severely reprimanded by the guard or hospital authorities. John said he was willing to give it a try.

So John and I got all dressed up – I as Santa Claus and John as an elf. We went up to the hospital entrance. The guard spotted us coming.

 “Well, what have we here? Santa and his helper! Right this way!”

 It was hard to get up to Grandma’s room. When I dressed up like Santa before, I just ran around with the other youth in the ward singing Christmas carols. People seemed to think it was cute that Santa was along. I had not anticipated this time that so many patients would want to say hi to Santa or to tell him that they had been good.  It was a treat for Santa to be where they were in the hospital.

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Eventually our family – including John and I in costume -made our way up to Grandma’s room. Grandma seemed to be resigned to her circumstances, and comforted by the fact that she was indeed getting find treatment. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw us, and spotted John – she was overjoyed! We had a nice visit that day. 

“You brought me the best thing ever!”    

John and I walked away with a feeling that I will never forget.

 To this day that is one of my most memorable Christmases.

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 My Grandpa’s Diary Entry for that Christmas:

December 25, 1976.

All gathered around the Christmas tree at 8:00 am, except Geraldine who was still in St. John’s Hospital. We all opened the presents. We had a wonderful Christmas time.

Cathy Lynn prepared the Christmas dinner. It was truly a banquet. We had lots of leftovers.

At 2 pm we all went to the hospital to see Geraldine. Douglas dressed as Santa in the Ward’s Santa Claus suit, and John was made up as an Elf. We put all her presents in Santa’s bag- she was really surprised to see us. We spent about an hour at the hospital. On the way out of the hospital Douglas and John made several stops to see children both young and old to wish them a Merry Christmas.

 We all felt at the end of the day it had been the best Christmas we had ever had, even though Gerri was in the hospital. We begin to see that even during trying times we are able to have very choice experiences and good times. The Lord truly has been good to us. He has blessed us in so very many ways. But best of all he has blessed us with each other.

A better family I could not be part of, they are really great.

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The Pretty New Girl

Some of the “obstacles” Grandma—or Geri—faced growing up was constantly moving and her younger sister. Geri was more proper, and her little sister was more laid back. A memorable experience was when Geri was called to the school office once. It turned out it was because her little sister was going by the name, “Honey.” Was that actually true? The school officials wanted to know. “No, her name’s not ‘Honey,” said Geri. Her sister said Honey was her name because, “That’s what everyone at home calls me.” Little sister hadn’t meant to embarrass Geri.

It would have been tough switching schools so often. Grandma was involved with school activities. One icebreaker seemed to be band.

A member of the band

A member of the band

She was a clarinet player. I call her the “pretty new girl.”I could picture students saying, “Have you met the new girl?” “Her name’s Geri Evans.”

The prettiest girl at every school

The prettiest girl at every school

This was backed up by Grandma herself when I told her how pretty she is in her pictures. She smiled and said people often told her that when she was growing up. She then told me she went to the movies with a boy in fourth grade. My jaw dropped. According to her and my mom, the church didn’t have strict rules about dating. But still, I was in shock. “Grandma!”

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Children, Courage, and Voting Your Conscience

I work at a school. I evade political conversations but listen to them if students engage in the subject. A student looked me in the eye and said, “Well I don’t want Trump. Trump is bad.” She looked down, made sure her shoe was on all the way, and then looked up. “But Hillary’s done some bad things…”

At that moment, there was a certain peace. I was assured I had done the right thing. The subject changed to something else, but I wonder if this student would be proud of my McMullin vote.

Children remind me of what I stand for. I voted my conscience. Many will say when it comes to voting, it’s more important to vote strategy. But it isn’t about that. Voting is about your choice—not a party’s or majority’s choice. Voting your conscience tells you what you stand for and don’t stand for. What you want to be.

I hope I showed courage like the American heroes today’s children are learning about. Those heroes that took a stand when they were in a minority.

I strive to be honest, true, and virtuous. I’m not perfect, but sometimes when I make choices, I think of my nieces and nephews. What type of example am I setting for them?

I hope posterity will view Sarah Patten as someone who chose to do the right thing even if it wasn’t popular. I hope they see that my beliefs reached to all aspects of my life—including voting.

 

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Whatever Happened to My Vote?

Whatever Happened to My Vote?

(Put together by Sarah Patten—inspired by “Whatever Happened to My Part” from the musical Spamalot and the 2016’s presidential election)

Whatever happened to my vote?
It counted and was worth to note.
Now the election is soon
And I don’t know what to do.
Third parties are stringing me along
As the debates go on and on
This is one unhappy voter
The race is getting grosser
Here’s a soul searching poem in my post
Whatever happened to my vote?

I am sick from what I read
What I see on the TV
What I hear on podcasts and Nancy.
The Democrats are still corrupt
Republicans will self-destruct
Do we think a Ross Perot should lead?
Ross Perot!

Whatever happened to my voice?
Once I could choose
Now there’s no choice
We’re with a pervert and a crook
Who are polluting Facebook
We might as well elect a dog
At least I’d follow Fido’s blog
If you think that sounds bitter
Just go and look at Twitter
The true and lying tweets give me a headache.

Whatever happened to my—
—I’ll get a passport, Sammy!

Whatever happened to my—
Not Trump!
Not Hillary!
But my vote!

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My Angel

Who said angels have to be people?

This post is dedicated to Angel on her birthday.

 An Unexpected Gift

Christmas Eve day in 2004 was a very special day. I was slow getting ready, and I believe I was staring at the Christmas tree when the phone rang. My older brother answered it and then quickly hung up.

“There’s a lab at Save Mart who needs a new home!”

With that, my family and I went from lazy to rushing to meet up with my mom.

When my family met up with Mom, she was with a mother and two little girls holding a black puppy.

A puppy?

I wanted a young adult dog. But my expectations changed as we took turns holding her.

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My family outside of Save Mart with our new “edition.”

We quickly found out she was named after her mother Angel. She was most likely part Labrador Retriever and Australian Shepherd. She had been born September 22. My family had fallen in love. Mom paid the previous owners, and we carried a very scared puppy home.

Angel hardly moved, wouldn’t eat, and ignored us when we got home. We had her rest in my  brothers’ room. I was in the hall trying to get her out. I gently talked to her. She would start approaching me and then go back in the room. Then she finally came and curled up in my lap.

Best Friend

Angel’s eyes show compassion when she knows you’re sad, and so she sits with you. She use to jump around when she could tell you were happy. She prefers sitting down now and wagging her tail. My dogs have always tried to make people happy.

As I mentioned before, Angel was very shy when we were brought her home. Her shyness was one of the probable reasons why she was the last pup of the litter to find a home. I had just returned from school and taking the winter off. Most of my friends were out of town going to college, and my family had their busy lives. I worked some, but I was basically alone. I think that’s why Angel and I became so close.

Angel’s Other Friends

Though socially awkward, Angel had a chance friendship with two dogs behind our yard. People love to see her. She’s come out of her shell. One person who broke through to her was a five-year-old girl. She’s thirteen now and is kind of like a second owner to Angel and my other dog. Angels also loves the girl’s little sister. Angel opens up more quickly to people she senses have gentle souls. She especially adores little children and babies.

Angel has aged quite a bit now. I don’t know how long she has to live. But she has had a good life. One individual that kept Angel going and probably preserved her life is our very energetic Australian Shepherd, Zane. He makes sure she gets plenty of exercise!

And of course, my parents. Angel has a harder time being around men, but she loves my dad. Angel really loves my mom.

I’m not there to take care of Angel, but I can rely on my mom to take care of the dogs.

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My mom shows so much love to the dogs.

And that is not always easy. The dogs are mischievous and have a new—and delicious— diet because of Angel’s special needs.

Angel easily makes me happy. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but I believe Angel was sent from above.

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Happy birthday, Angel!

 

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The Return of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast

Being three decades old, I know it’s hard when people give advice freely—especially about marriage. There was a recent meeting/discussion about the topic. I liked what was said, but it made me think of two past posts I wrote. I hope those in the discussion will read this as well as those who contacted me right after I posted those articles! New readers of course are always welcomed.

Last year, I compared myself to the (non-Disney) Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beauty. In the Little Mermaid post I told how I related to the little sea princess mainly because past hopes and heartbreaks. I would also like to add the reason I have a problem with the story is she died after that heartbreak. That’s an easy way out. It’s harder but to live. That’s where my comparisons with her stop.

As for Beauty and for the Beast, it was about how I fell in love with myself by coming to the realization I have surprising accomplishments. (They’re surprising to me anyway.) And how it’s important to live.

The thing is, I still am connected with all these fairy tale characters.

Like the Little Mermaid, I have a fascination with discoveries and sometimes wonder too much. There are times I wish I could be more like her—take risks. Yes, caution is necessary but I think there are situations when it’s appropriate to step into the unknown.

As for Beauty and the Beast, I still see the beauty and ugly in me. I’ll never forget the night when I came to the unexpected conclusion that I loved myself. I’m telling you, it’s a wonderful experience falling in love—even if it is with yourself.

I guess I have no real advice about finding the one—which can be refreshing. Hopefully, though, my story will help others.

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The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy

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I got this from a school book fair. $5 was the final and fair price.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy, by Barabar Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, had a creative narrative and brilliant illustrations with little inserts of what Susy, the real life daughter of Mark Twain had to say about him.

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Funnily enough, a couple years ago, my dad said we should write short biographies of each other! Susy ended up writing over 130 pages about her dad!

In regards to Susy herself, I think it’s very appropriate and entertaining to write your own family member’s biography—especially in their life time so they can get more of a say. Susy wrote when she was thirteen, “It troubles me to have so few people know Papa, I mean really know him.” She made a good case for her papa and added unknown dimensions of him. From her portrait of him, I still saw a narcissistic man, but I felt more sympathy with how insecure and just how loving he was.

While I like what all the creators of the book did, I found my mind wandering, and it was hard to concentrate. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I recommend that classrooms should get their own copy.

Remember The Ladies