Becca Wilhite Blog

February 27, 2012

Your Tears

Filed under: emotion — becca @ 6:02 am

We all heard it,
From the kitchen,
The thump-thump-conk-Grunt.

We laughed a little, because it sounded
Cartoony

“You okay, buddy?”
And no answer.

I went to the stairs and saw you sitting there,
At the bottom,
Huddled over your knees and
Trying to be brave through the tears.

My heart jumped
and I jumped
And sat beside you at the bottom.

I pulled your big eight-year-old self
Onto my lap
And held you close.

You held close, too,
Close enough to wet my cheeks with your tears.

We hugged there, you and I,
Until you were ready to try
(Bravely, and with a grin)
Limping
Lurching
Crawling back up the stairs,
And I went to the storage room
To finish the errand you went to do
(Without even being asked,
Because you’re THAT BOY),

And I felt the wetness on my cheeks
And I realized that I was crying
Your tears.

I promise, my boy,
To always cry your tears.

February 26, 2012

My Grandmother, the Author

Filed under: gratitude,publishing — becca @ 11:18 am

Today I’d like to introduce you to my Grandma, Leola Seely Anderson. She died years before I was born, but there are moments that I feel like I know her. One of those moments was when I went to Virginia to help my parents pack for a move. We found a metal filing box, kind of lunchbox shaped, with organized notes about Grandma’s magazine article submissions, acceptances, rejections, and payments. She had a famous sense of humor and irony (well, famous for us.) She was a writer, a teacher, a wife, a mother, a traveler, a server, and a glove-and-hat wearer. The following piece was published circa 1957. Despite her use of exclamation points, I connect in a deep way with her words.

Here she is, at approximately the time the article was written. Thanks to Uncle R. for the photos.

 

As the Heart Grows

 By Leola Seely Anderson

 

“I LOVE YOU!”

No sweeter words were ever spoken, no purer thought was ever born. No greater joy was ever measured than the simple, exquisite infinity of “I love you!”

Within the walls of my heart are many mansions. Each is precious, lovely rare. Each holds an image indestructible; each is eternal there.

Once my heart was one vaulted chamber, dedicated only to a lonely portrait – myself. But it was soon invaded by another. My Mother’s bright blue eyes, her sunny hair, the light of her smile – these became my world. And I divided my heart once more to let my Father in – and later there were those other dear ones, my brothers and sister.

Life was full, my love serene. A gallery of cherished ones filled my every need, until the day a friend slipped in, and his image was engraved in its own hall of fame. My heart was no larger, but oh, the difference in my vision! I loved outside my family.

Others were admitted tentatively from time to time. Some came to stay; some grew dim, faded away, and were replace by faces new and fresh. Before any could be permanently fixed, a new room had to be prepared.

Once I thought my work completed – family and friends were there. And yet there came another for whom my heart pulsed with new meaning. This was an image to be superimposed upon my own; this one took my place. For my husband I ceased to think of self. I awoke to other vistas.

Love seeks not itself; neither does it demand anything. It asks only the privilege to serve, to give, to suffer, if need be, but always to be near the sweet flame which kindled its fire. This portrait I cherished in my heart’s loveliest hall, with gratitude and faith in its being eternally mine.

As the years passed by, my mansions increased in number. Each of my children possesses one, each immortal. Though he should break my heart and make my tears a flood, he could not erase my love. Though he walk in the farthest reaches of heaven or earth, he could not depart my heart’s door. He is loved.

Again I thought myself fulfilled – family friends, my mate, my children – surely one could ask no more?

But Jesus stood at my door and knocked, and for him its portals swung wide. He entered, and his presence filled every corner with wider vision. Miraculously, my capacity to love increased a hundredfold!

Not alone my own, those near and dear to me, but a whole troop of others crowded in. The tired, the needy, the afflicted, the discouraged – I found my compassion had gained new dimension. These were my brothers and sisters – God’s other children who needed me, even as I needed them.

True, there are now some rooms of sorrow in my heart, where portraits bring only pain; still their niches can never be uncarved, unfilled, nor forgotten. They have taught me that ingratitude, indifference, thoughtlessness – even evil, anger, revenge – can be forgiven if the love of God lends its strength to mine.

And though my heart’s mansions become numberless as the stars of heaven, yet is each one as large as at first; though each treasure possesses a room, my powers of tenderness are enlarged infinitely. As I love, my capacity to love expands; as I cherish, I become more nearly like him, and my reason for being is more nearly realized.

I love you.

In my heart are many mansions reflecting the joy I know. Perhaps, someday, when I have learned life’s lessons well, my chambers may encompass the world, and then shall I glimpse the majesty of the love of God.

Ah, the sleeves. I'm in agonies of jealousy.

February 25, 2012

My Dad Has Some Words for You

Filed under: Dads,familyness,singing — becca @ 5:04 am

… And if you have ever met my dad, you won’t be surprised. Words are integral to my dad’s being. He sent me this to use as a guest post, and even though there are words I have to look up[1], I think it’s great.

Macy’s post inspired me. Here are some 5-generation voice memories.

 

My grandpa had some palsy all the time I knew him. When he talked, his voice had some quaver and his teeth clicked. The most memorable conversation happened when I graduated from high school. I was sitting on the floor in the kitchen one night after dinner and Grandpa pointed out that I was unlikely to see as much change in my life as he had seen in his. I ponder often whether he was right. Grandpa was a consummate rose grower. I hear his voice whenever I plant or prune roses.

 

My grandma had a great deadpan. We were playing extended-family cards, and Uncle Jim trumped her ace. She glared at him for two beats and said, “Jerk!” This eighty-something also retained a few mildly abrasive Danish invectives that could flow from the same deadpan. I guess they provide me voices from even more generations.

 

I recognize that I grunt my way out of low chairs exactly like my dad did. Dad taught me French and German songs when I was little; I trace my facility with languages more to that gift than any other. My definition of mellow is my memory of Dad reciting verses from Faust or Caunterbury Tales. (When Dad did early modern English, it needed to be spelled with the “u”.)

 

Whenever I sing the phrase Balm of Gil’uhd I hear Mom’s 2-syllable, no diphthong fitting of the image into 2 eighth notes of a 19th century hymn. You’ve heard Mom’s voice this month from Becca’s Older Brother. He never met her nor heard her voice, but stories keep the wit, wisdom and voice alive.[2]

 

I’ll let you all know when I post the story of the song Becca’s mom sang that changed me from admirer to full-throated pursuer. Since we still sing the songs she taught us, her voice endures.

 

Now we cross into voices from people still living. Regular readers know Becca’s mom died more than 2 decades ago. I remarried – to her best friend, Mimi. That name is one of the simplest forms of speech that infant lips can try. To appreciate Mimi’s voice, you have to hear it in the context of a klieg light [3] smile, with arms stretched forward and shoulders thrust back to make enfolding space for anyone, anywhere. Mimi says “Welcome”; when necessary, she uses words.

 

I don’t need to say more about 4th generation voices than to commend many of these posts to you, gentle reader. It nourishes my soul to read them and to point friends who could use a lift to them.

 

I can’t share a hundredth part of the voices from the 5th generation. I think of the 60-something-pound granddaughter belting out Tomorrow to a packed Annie house. I hear the grandson cranking the amps on his guitar while paying on the roof of his house. I hear about the shortest girl in the class sharing the deepest insights.

It’s up to you (us?) writers to keep great voices vibrant.

[1] When I was in college, email was new. I know. I’m old. And my dad would send me emails at work (because it was new enough that I didn’t have a non-work account). And he’d say things to me that I didn’t understand. And he’d know that I wouldn’t. And he’d write “look it up” in the body of the email. That’s because we share a bizarre love of dictionaries. And then I’d look the words up and I would smile, because he could find strange and complex ways to tell me he thinks I’m great.

[2] Tomorrow, you’ll hear her voice. The voice of my grandmother, who died years before I was born.

[3] Look it up.

Thanks, Dad. I think you’re pretty great. You can quote me on that.

February 23, 2012

Dear 17-year-old Becca

Filed under: body image,books,history,musings,Uncategorized — becca @ 9:22 am

There are some things I want to say to you, seventeen-year-old me. You’ve had a rough couple of years. You lost your mom. You moved halfway across the country, from the land of many trees and much summer rainfall to the land of many mountains and drastic road construction activities. You gained a new family, and all that implies. You graduated from high school. You are right in the center of Growing Up. But you don’t feel very grown up, do you? Well, I don’t think I can help you there. In about another 17 years, you’ll start to feel that you’re there — a real adult. But for now, here are a few things I wish you could know.

1. You’re not lame. You’re clever. And funny. And kind. Now, don’t get me wrong, you’re no kind of perfect. But you’ll learn, and I wish you could know now, that perfect isn’t an option. Trust me on this. The people that you know who seem perfect? They’re not. There are things that they do really, really well. Notice those things. Pick one to emulate. That’s good for you. Getting good at things is a gift of growing up. There are a few you’ll get good at. In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up about the ones that you can’t do. (p.s. One day in the future, you’ll jog four miles. In a row. No kidding.)

2. I know this is related, but I need you to know this: Confidence is not a gift someone can give you. It’s a reward you have to earn. You need to do something good in order to grow some confidence. And look at you. You do good every day. So feel free to breathe in some of that confidence.

3. I promise that in the next 20 years, nobody is going to attack you in a dark street, a deserted alley, or a stairway. You can let that one go.

4. People who know you? They love you. And like you. Open your eyes. They’re all over the place. Try to believe it.

5. The internet is coming. You will love it. Stuff, knowledge, words, thoughts, pictures. Information, everywhere. And Charlie McDonnell. Oh, smaller Becca. If there was one thing I could send back to you, besides the confidence, it would be Charlie. This one. And this one. And this one, too. Isn’t he adorable?

6. Don’t apologize for the reading. Or the Humanities major. They’ll come in handy.

7. Three little words to produce satisfaction, even happiness: Get Over It. Be forgiving. The sooner the better. Mostly, when someone does something horrible, they didn’t mean it. Unless they did. In which case, get over it faster. Practice this. It gets easier as you go.

8. Don’t feel bad that you don’t share everyone’s love for cheap chocolate candy. Lindt’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt is coming. It’s worth waiting for.

9. Sunscreen is probably a good idea. Sorry about that.

10. Look around. See all those people? They’re not thinking about you. Or talking about you. I’m sorry to tell you this, but they didn’t even notice you. That will be the case, um, forever. You are destined to be the Invisible Girl. And you know what? That’s okay. Peace comes through invisibility. Embrace it. And see #4. Still true.

11. Love is everywhere. Choose it. People. Flowers. Books, food, interaction. Choose it.

12. Rejection is destiny. Don’t let it stop you from trying. Really? If I could change anything (else, besides the Charlie and the Confidence) it would be to convince you to try and try and try. The phrase Fake it till you Make it is years away, but for reals: audition again. Ask him out again. Submit it again. Put yourself out there. And listen to Eleanor: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

13. Some things get easier. We grow into our nose. We learn to shake things off. Marriage is awesome, likewise motherhood. Hey, you’re going to be a published author. So pay attention to stuff. You’ll rely on those memories. Try to assume the best. Occasionally you’ll get disappointed. And that’s fine. You’re strong enough to stand up to some occasional disappointment. But assuming the best is hands-down better than the other options.

14. You are not fat, no matter what mean kids say. You are STRONG. You have power. You can walk for hours on those strong legs. Be grateful for the Strong.

15. Enjoy your arms and your ribcage and your neck. They won’t look like that forever.

16. Say yes. When opportunities come, grab them. Go on the trip. Take the job. Make the friend. Accept the date. Some strange things will happen. But someday, all that strangeness will be Material. And Memory. Both good things.

17. Hold on to the things you know. The important ones will continue to be true. And it will make you feel good, one day, to look back and remember that you already knew the important parts.

18. I love you, you know. I never told you that. I don’t know if I believed it. But I do, now. I believe it. You are good. You are smart. You are funny, and witty, and capable. Older You looks back fondly. I hope that means anything.

19. Trust. Yourself. God. People with good intentions. (But mostly those first two.)

20. Keep laughing. Life is funny. Irony is everywhere. And laughing is good for you.

February 21, 2012

Listen to my Voice (Guest Post by Macy Robison)

Filed under: history,Mom,musings,singing — becca @ 6:44 am

***WE HAVE A WINNER! Bethany, Congratulations. I’ll get a copy of Macy’s CD out to you right away.***

Today, we have a guest post from a wonderful friend I’ve loved since I was sixteen. (Yes. I was once sixteen. Yes. That was a very, very long time ago.) Macy went to high school with me. She was Very Cool, but she let me play with her anyway. In fact, Macy’s kind of Very Cool was defined by her inclusivity. She was popular by being a superstar tennis player and singer/performer, but people loved her because she loved us back.

And now we’re all grown up and we’re still friends. I really love it when that happens. And Macy performs this amazing musical/talk/fireside/piece of awesomeness that you can see HERE or own HERE. Also, make a comment on this post. Then I’ll pick a commenter-winner, let’s say on Friday the 24th. I’ll buy you a copy of her CD and send it to you. (One winner. US or Canada.) And besides that (and a lot of other talents), she’s a professional photographer, so if you live in Austin (or are interested in flying her out to where you live) you can check out her brand of photo-genius HERE. And now, my friend Macy:

Today, I thought I lost my voice. Not laryngitis-lost, but I thought my larynx was so damaged that it might not work properly anymore.

I was playing with my son. Like most 4-year-old boys, he loves to wrestle. He’s usually pretty easy to predict and I’m able to keep either of us from getting hurt as we wrestly, but today, he added a new move — he head-butted me in the throat. Right in my larynx. And though I didn’t feel a pop, my throat felt different than it usually does. I’m a singer, so I’m very aware of what my throat and voice feel like at any given time.

In that split second, the horrifying thought came — what if my voice is gone?

The human larynx is a delicate thing. It’s made of tiny little muscles. Muscles that can fatigue, that can tear or strain just like any other muscle in the body. And like any muscle, the vocal cords can wear out from misuse. The voice sounds different when it goes through trauma. And with enough trauma, it can completely disappear.

While I was trying to figure out if my voice was okay, I remembered an experience I had with Becca. We were living in the same dorm at BYU when I got a call from her. Her mom had passed away a couple years before (which she writes about beautifully here and here — and if you really want a good cry, scroll down and read her dad’s comment on the second post) and she called me that night because she couldn’t remember her mom’s voice. Couldn’t remember what it sounded like. And though I hadn’t experienced anything like what she was going through, I just knew what an awful thing that was. I don’t know what I said to her — I hope it was something okay — but I remember being sad about it for a long time.

And then my own mom died. And the day came when I couldn’t remember what her voice sounded like. And it was awful — it was like reliving the loss of my mom all over again.

Our voices are more than just muscles we use to communicate. People recognize us when they hear our voice. Hearing a voice we know and love brings comfort and joy. But as the years have gone by, I have come to understand that my mom’s voice was more than the sound her vocal cords made when they vibrated together. What I heard when I heard my mother talk to me was more than just that vibration — I heard her love for me. I heard the joy in the way she lived her life. I heard the service she gave and the person she was. That was what her voice was to me. And though I would never hear her speak again, I still have her voice inside of me — telling me to practice my singing, telling me to be kind, and telling me to be myself.

Our voices are the essence of who we are. And if someone remembers who we are, our voice sings on even when the vocal cords are silent.

So, I talk about my mom. And I sing about my mom. And I tell my kids about my mom. Sometimes I really have to think to remember what she sounded like when she spoke to us, but her voice — the essence of who she is — that is with me every single day.

Thank you, Macy, for being my guest today. It was lovely to reminisce with you, and for all my blogfriends to get to see inside your heart — and to hear your voice.

Leave comments, friends — and I’ll pick a winner [on Friday] to receive Macy’s “CHILDREN WILL LISTEN” CD. Yay! Prizes!

I borrowed both pics from Macy's blog. Thanks!

February 20, 2012

Winners!

Filed under: Uncategorized — becca @ 10:36 am

Sometimes I lose my control. Go figure. And sometimes, things take longer than I thought they would. And sometimes, my Kid 1 does a play on the same weekend as State Wrestling (whatever — it’s a big deal in this town) and Semi-State Basketball games (also a big deal, and in the same building as the play), and then I get only the truly needful things done. What I’m telling you is that I went on a date with Husband instead of picking winners.

But now they’re picked! Drumroll, please:

The winner of Sarah M. Eden’s adorable “Friends and Foes” is MEGAN (Hooray, Megan!)

The winner of the $10 Amazon gift card is JENNY (Hooray, Jenny!)

Hooray! Enjoy! Watch me overuse exclamation points! (We’re all about the pleasures of indulgence around here.)

AND THIS… tomorrow, my dear friend Macy is stopping by. She’s amazing, and there will be more prizes. (Also, there’s this: We did a guest-post-switcheroo, and I posted at her place on Friday. If you want to get over there and comment, you can win a book — one that I wrote! She’s giving away MRRO, and I’ll sign it. I know. Price. Less.)

February 18, 2012

Who Am I? Who Are You?

Filed under: books,collaboration,recommendation — becca @ 8:11 am

Look at this cool thing I am a little part of.

A bunch of us [1] (bloggers, writers, thinkers, people, Mormons) we put some words together. Some funny words. Some sad words. Some thoughtful words. Words that we use to describe ourselves. To explain ourselves. To share who we are.

Telling, sharing, explaining who we are can be a crazy-difficult undertaking. But when we do it together, people can see sides of us, facets, that we didn’t even know how to show. So if you’re interested, you can pick up our words. Right over there, to the left, there’s a Paypal button. That button is the Official Early Order one – where you can get 30% off the after-March-10th price (which will be $15, I’m pretty sure.) [2]

[1] Contributors, in the order DeNae has us listed on her website: Melanie Jacobson, Luisa Perkins, (me), Ken Craig, Annette Lyon, DeNae Handy, Debbie Frampton, Jana Parkin, Karen Burton, Patrick Livingston, Stephanie Sorensen, Cari Banning, Christopher Clark, Josh Bingham, Michelle Budge and Gideon Burton. Some of these are my Very Good Friends. And I hope the rest are about to be.

[2]Obviously I did some words, and then left the technical, the artistic, and the business parts of this up to those more qualified.

February 17, 2012

Husband’s Guest Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — becca @ 7:01 am

Ever since Becca asked if I would do a guest post for her I’ve been racking my brain to see if I had anything to offer (I’m not actually as brilliant as she portrays me to be on her blog — she uses a lot of artistic license. Also she lies). Plus, I’ve been thinking about who reads her blog.

I’m guessing many of her readers are fellow writers. Folks who strive and sweat and yearn to get that manuscript out the door. Down the walk. And into the hands of that enthusiastic agent who runs immediately to their contacts at the major New York publishing house and who then, in turn, sets aside every other project on their desk for this most brilliant upon brilliant, soon-to-be best-seller book. (Did I mention the entire marketing department gets equally excited about your manuscript?) Yes, I imagine many readers of Becca’s blog are dreamers just like you and me.

What I have to share in this guest post are a few excerpts of advertising copy I’ve written for various clients during the years. Embedded in the message of these different ads and videos is the seed of hope we all yearn for. I’ve made some changes to the copy so it makes sense (or not) in this new form.

Hopefully there’s something here that will give you encouragement.

Long before the nay-sayers whispered their seductive can’ts int your ears you believed you could do anything. And everything. You had no limits. No boundaries confining your ambition. You were free to dream. And free to do. Now [name of ad client here] removes the barrier from [name of category] and asks: can you still believe? More importantly can you still do?

Think back. Back to when your only limits were the far reaches of your imagination. You were a builder. An explorer. A star. Now take that thought and think ahead. [name of client] introduces [name of product]. Now you can [list of things to accomplish]…. **compatible with previous versions of your imagination**

Bet you’ve got a few ideas. Big ideas. Bright ideas. Holy-cow ideas. Ideas about everything you can do with a [insert category here]. Maybe you’ll turn it into a highly profitable business tool. Maybe you’ll gain a loyal following of happy Web surfers. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll do the unimaginable. Hmmm, imagine that. [name of client] The possibilities are endless.

We created an [anthropomorphized product]. Nobody told us it couldn’t be done.

[e-mail excerpt]

I believe in The Underdog. I cheer for him. I shout for him. And sometimes I am him.

The biggest threat to the success of an underdog is not the unbeatable foe. It’s not the Goliaths in our way. It’s discouragement.

So many more Underdogs would find success if they just believed deep down they could do it.

Being without hope is probably the most tragic of all human conditions. Feeling there’s no door that can be opened. No window through which to escape. No light that will ever come… No possible way to get out of one’s current and most desperate situations. It is these very people that [name of client] is reaching out to serve.

Over the years much hope has been restored. Many hearts mended. And many fears calmed — Yet so much more remains to be done.

Together we can reach further and stretch deeper. Together we can do more. We invite you to partner with us in this great humanitarian cause.

[tagline]

Even when you’re down and out. You’re not out.

May you never give up on your dreams.

— Husband

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