Category: recommendation (page 1 of 5)

It’s Summer, Don’t You Know.

School has ended for the year. (*Whew*)

It was a great year. Moments were long. Months were short. At the end of every year, I have a tradition (all three years of my professional teaching life – I’m such a hack) of giving a “What Every Boy Needs To Know about Being a Man” speech.

As an English teacher, I have the privilege of teaching about Feminist Literary Theory. Every kid who comes through my classes can tell you that means looking at gender in stories, poetry, plays, and novels and asking “What does the gender of the character have to do with the outcome? With the attitudes of others? With the tone?” Therefore, every kid who heard my “What Every Boy Needs to Know about Being a Man” speech knew that Boy and Man are non-gender-specific. It’s just a great title (which I stole from Secondhand Lions).

Here is the short version of the speech:

Wilhite’s “What Every Boy Needs to Know about Being a Man” Speech, Version 2016

  1. You will not regret the actions that are prompted by kindness.
  2. We teach people how to treat us.
  3. The proper response to a compliment is eye contact and “thank you.”
  4. Everyone is going through something.
  5. Your stories matter.
  6. You have unlimited capacity for excellence.

Those who wanted to took home the preceding notes of the short version. The long version explained the short version. Such as, #1 — you may very well regret the consequences of all kinds of things, but the action? The kindness-based Thing you did? You shouldn’t have reason to regret the Thing.

And #2 — when you smile or growl, respond, react, or stand up for yourself, you’re teaching others how to behave toward you. I’m not always comfortable with that. Some people that I know treat me without any semblance of respect. But I recognize that I allow that to happen.  There’s a lot of power in that understanding.

#3 went on for a while (surprise!), talking about how eye contact is a magnet for connection, and how when we “nahhh” at a compliment, we’re really saying, “you’re wrong,” and nobody every really wants to hear that.

#4 is mysterious and surprising to a whole lot of high school students, but once their eyes are open to the possibility that it’s true, they get a bit more empathetic.

5 is big in my creative writing classes, but also in my English classes — and for everyone. Tell your story. Speak your words.

The last one is a thing I’ve been working on a lot — developing and nurturing growth mindsets. It’s cool. And hard. But I can do things that are hard. (See? I’m already doing it.) Something I say at school (kind of a lot) is “I believe you can succeed in whatever you’re willing to work really hard for.” It’s interesting that some kids “succeed” in school without trying very hard, while others stretch and work and push to be moderate students. I want to redefine success for these “others” — to celebrate the B that came after serious revision and thought and fingers-to-keyboard time.

——

One of my students asked permission to post my list (made cute by her skills) on Pinterest. I smiled and said of course. I didn’t mention that I will never, ever see it there. I’m afraid of Pinterest. It has a tendency to allow me to feel bad about myself. So I stay away. Instead, I surround myself with happy-making things like delicious foods and good books and nice people and the sun and long walks up tall mountains.

And now the summer happens. Busy or lazy, full or quiet, hands on keyboards or turning pages of someone else’s books… I’m happy today.

Capturing the Best Stories

Tonight we have a ladies’ night Literacy activity. We’ve all been instructed to bring a used book to exchange. As obedient as I generally am, I couldn’t do it. I had to go out and buy a new copy of the book I’m exchanging. Partly because I can’t give up my original copy… okay, so Totally because I can’t give up my original copy. I love this book – not just the words, but the pages and the bends and the marks on the paper and the smell and all of it.

I’m “exchanging” Dodie Smith’s I CAPTURE THE CASTLE because I love it so, so much. And because it’s unlikely to be stir-y. I don’t want to cause any stirs tonight. I’ve wrapped it in red paper and a raffia bow. The red paper now has my handwritten favorite quotes (from the novel) all over it, and if I didn’t have to (I totally don’t have to) hand it over, I’d keep it because it looks lovely.

Quotes like these:

“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”

“How I wish I lived in a Jane Austen novel!”

“Perhaps watching someone you love suffer can teach you even more than suffering yourself.”

“Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.”

“No bathroom on earth will make up for marrying a bearded man you hate.”

“Truthfulness so often goes with ruthlessness.”

“I have noticed that rooms which are extra clean feel extra cold.”

“Oh, comfortable cocoa!”

“Miserable people cannot afford to dislike each other.”

“Do Americans kiss each other all the time?”

and

“Perhaps if I make myself write I shall find out what is wrong with me.”

The favorite one is about our main character learning to cook – but it didn’t really go with the others. So I didn’t add it there. But here it is for posterity and whatnot:

“I scrubbed some rather dirty-looking chops with soap which proved very lingering, and I did not take certain things out of a chicken that I ought to have done.” (I know, right?)

Research is Awesome

SO I’m researching 1920’s hair oils for men (because OF COURSE I am). I found the best article in the Art of Manliness blog. This guy is excellent. But the comments. Guys, the comments. I couldn’t stop reading. These men are so sincere about their love for Vitalis and Bryllcreem. It’s adorable how much they care how their hairdo looks after a day of fedora-wearing or biking or (imagine) working in an office.

Spend time here today. (Sheesh. I’m growing so bossy. Sorry.) (But really. You’ll love this.)

Introducing Jenny Proctor

Guys, I have a new friend for you. I’d like you to meet the (truly) lovely Jenny Proctor, whose book “THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK” is available right now. 

Here is the description from the Deseret Book website, (one of the places you can order yourself a copy).

Deep in the rolling hills of North Carolina lay the idyllic town of Rose Creek. Home to the Walker clan for generations, the family farmhouse was the ideal place to grow up. And for Kate, orphaned at age six, the home her mother grew up in was a haven of healing and love. But as the future beckoned, Kate slowly pulled away from her family and her home, never to return. Until now.

 

Beautiful career woman Kate Sinclair has built a successful life for herself, even as she’s haunted by the decisions that led to her estrangement from those once so dear to her. When tragedy strikes her family, Kate realizes the time has come to return home. Awaiting her is an animosity she expected, as well as a shock she never could have anticipated: her family’s home is in danger of being destroyed.

 

Despite her reservations, Kate makes the decision to stay in Rose Creek for a time to help her family. As she slowly begins to reestablish her roots in the close-knit community, she finds herself increasingly attached to Andrew, a man with charm, charisma—and a secret.

 

And when Kate discovers the diary of an early family member who has immigrated to the United States, she finds strength in his belief in God as she explores her new relationship with Andrew and works to rebuild ties within her family. But when the pressures of the house problems and the disdain from family members gets too tough, the lure of the city calls, and Kate is forced to make an impossible decision: will she return to the life she worked so hard to build in the city or risk everything for an unknown future in Rose Creek?

Sounds so great, right? I know. Jenny and I met virtually and then we met actually, and she is lovely (I think I already said that) and witty and clever and sincere and such a good writer. She cares about many of the same things I care about, and she finds funny in the right things. Do I need to tell you how that’s a joy? I think you already know.

This week Jenny and I “sat down” (at least I was totally sitting) and had a little chat about books and writing and being published and well, you get to read it. It’s as if we were actually in the same room! in the same state! and you were there too!

How did you come to write a book? Have you always been a writer? 
Well, funny thing. I guess the answer is yes, and no. When I was growing up, I liked writing when it was required of me. English papers were fun, never hard, and I kept a constant journal. I guess in many ways I was a writer before I really knew I was a writer, if that makes sense. It wasn’t until I started blogging, of all things, and I had a few people mention that I was a good writer that i started thinking about taking my words a little more seriously. I felt inspired to take an Independent Study Creative Writing class, and I fell in love with fiction. The House at Rose Creek actually stemmed from a short story that I wrote in that creative writing class. I wrote the story of the main character Kate’s ancestor, Ian, and then Kate’s story evolved from there.
How do you feel about your book cover? 
I love my cover! It wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way. I was so sure they were going to put a picture of a big white farmhouse on the cover. (The farmhouse is pretty central to the story, and with the book title, it wasn’t too far a leap, no?) The thing is, I know exactly what the farmhouse looks like, and I worried that as great as Covenant’s graphics team is, their depiction might not live up to what exists in my head. When it wasn’t a house at all, I was surprised, then relieved, then absolutely thrilled with how gorgeous it is. I think it’s perfect and wouldn’t change a thing.
How do you react to getting published? Giddy hand clapping? Tears of Joy? Grateful sighing? 
I’m definitely more exuberant over exciting things than I am tearful. My kids were the first to hear the news when I found out The House at Rose Creek was going to be published. They were all outside on the trampoline and I ran out onto the back deck and yelled across the yard. I’m pretty sure I pumped my fists in the air and jumped around a little, and thoroughly startled them, and the dog.
What’s in the future for you book wise? 
I’ve just sent my second novel over to Covenant not too long ago, and am hoping they love it just as much as I do. It’s also set in Rose Creek, and could be called a companion novel, though it’s definitely not a sequel. It’s another love story, about an English teacher named Henry who works at a rehabilitative boarding school in Western North Carolina. The honest truth?  I’m pretty sure I love this second one far more than I love the first, and I really love the first one! My current work in progress is something a little different, something (not LDS Fiction) that might be suited for an even broader audience. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to see where it takes me.
What makes it easy for you to write? What makes it hard? 
That’s a tough question, because really, there isn’t much about my life right now that seems to make writing easy! I have six kids, ranging in age from 12, down to 1, and it’s summer time. So life is crazy busy and full of children and it’s been really hard to carve out real time to write. If it doesn’t happen late in the evening after kid’s bedtimes, or early in the morning before they’re awake, it generally doesn’t happen. And for right now, that’s fine. I figure there’s a time and a season for all things and the season I’m currently in requires me to focus on keeping the baby from eating the cat litter and teaching my three year old to leave my lipstick alone and not drink water out of the toilet. (Can we pretend that doesn’t just happen at my house so I feel a little better about things? Just for a minute? That’d be great.) Having said that, I still try to write a little bit every day, even if it’s just a couple hundred words. The longer I go without writing, the harder it feels to pick it back up. I keep my goals small, and do the best I can, and try not to discouraged when some days, it just doesn’t happen.
What are your favorite books to read? 
I’m not one to jump on the science fiction or fantasy bandwagon, though there are definitely a few titles in each genre that I do like. Mostly, I love books about people and relationships (not just romantic relationships but people relationships) and the way we all fit together in the world. I love books that make me think and that make me cry (no small feat… I’m not an easy crier) and that challenge my way of thinking. And of course, I love a good clean romance.
What makes you laugh? 
My kids make me laugh a lot. My oldest is just old enough to really demonstrate witty, playful sarcasm in ways that make me laugh out loud frequently and I love him for it. Also, just today, my three year old brought me her finished Popsicle so I could read her the joke off the stick. I read the first part of the joke, and she burst out laughing, slapping her hand against her knee. She didn’t even need the punchline. That made me laugh too.
Have you ever found a mysterious book or journal in an old building? 
Wouldn’t it be cool if I had?! I’ve never discovered any treasures myself, but I love old things and old places and always feel I should be looking. . . I try to stop when I’m in other people’s houses though, cause that could get a little awkward. (Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t want those floorboards ripped up? I was certain it sounded a little hollow underneath. . .)
Thank you, Jenny, for stopping by to let us inside yourself a little bit. Let’s all go pick up a copy of “THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK” and explore the workings of Jenny’s mind a little more.

Life is Happening Everywhere

Remember how I was talking a little while ago about kindness, and how it’s sort of always the answer? I remember that, too.

I want you to see this video, but remember me and linkablities? I have issues. Anyhow, here is the YouTube address for the loveliest message.

It’s by the Cleveland Clinic, and technically it’s about medical treatment, but essentially it’s about being alive, being human, and sharing this planet with people to whom life is happening, constantly. If you have 5 minutes, see it. Then see all the people around you in a gentler light.

Hello and stuff!

I have a minute, so I just wanted to stop over here in my very own blog to tell you that I have a guest post up today at my Dear Friend Stephanie’s blog. She’s hosting a several-week-long celebration for the Family Proclamation (which is something I love), and my post is about scorching morning breath and ticking clocks. And food. (More things I love. Obvs.)

Also I took Kid 1 on her first college visit today. We took a golf-cart tour of BYU, and it was tender and fun and precious and HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MY KID IS GETTING READY TO CHOOSE A UNIVERSITY? Like that.

ALSO: BYU’s Museum of Art has Andy Warhol right now. We went to see some of that, after the tour and an interview and some yummy lunch. I geeked out. She nodded and smiled, because my Kid 1 is many things, but not a geek. And she asked if a person has to be an artist to get a curating-type job, because isn’t art cool? I geeked some more, because YAY! So we looked at alabaster saints and Islamic rugs and window frames and bowls, and then I stared at multiple Marilyns (10 of them, so dang cool) and one awesome James Dean, because yes please. And many more iconic Warholisms [1]. Also creepy Japanese artist Takashi Murakami (his prints are creepy [2]; I assume he’s lovely). Guys, go. It’s free. And there’s a Warhol installation with silver foil bags filled with helium or some such airy substance, and you can play with them like giant silver balloony pillows. What could be more awesome than that? Not much, I tell you.

[1] that sounds like an illness, but it’s more like cans of soup and awesome prints of elephants and tigers

[2] creepy to me. And to Kid 1. Maybe you would find them adorable. But if I put that in my room, I could guarantee never to have a peaceful sleep again. I’d dream that pink flowers were planning my demise. GO SEE IT.

Win Free Stuff! No, Really.

Guys! I have a thing for you to win! I know! Exclamation points!

I have some very clever friends. And some very clever acquaintances. And some of those people are married to each other. (Sheesh. I know.) So I may be pushing it when I say this, but for purposes of right now, let’s say My Friend Jeff Parkin [1] (what? We’ve had dinner together…) made a really fun web series with some of his film students. It’s called “The Book of Jer3miah” – and it’s a conspiracy thriller (totally appropriate for audiences of many ages). And the series is available online. And also, now, the series is available to buy on a disc. And more also, now the series disc is available RIGHT HERE. It’s here, beside me, in this room.

Here is some information:

(Because we love information.)

The New York Times reviewed it and called it “a tight, suspenseful little series” with “quick dialogue and funny supporting characters,” and concluded, “when celestial smackdowns are a plot possibility, things can get pretty hardcore. And that makes for good web drama.”
Here’s a link to the trailer: http://jer3miah.com/ (Click on the red bar that says “Watch Exclusive Trailer.”)
Did you click it? Did you watch it? Do you want it? Okay. Here’s all  you have to do. Comment on this post, and I’ll pick a winner and mail that winner the disc. Life doesn’t offer you winnings THAT EASY very often. Hey, winner? You have to live in the US or Canada, because shipping is pricey, don’t you know.
*  *  *
Conspiracy! Thriller! Filmed at a place that looks a lot like the university I attended, lo these many years ago! Check out the trailer, and watch the TED talk, and comment to be in the running. I’ll choose a random winner on Saturday, how ’bout that?
[1] this links to his TED talk, which is awesome — about the power of Story.

Again. Again. Again.

Do you ever feel like your life is on repeat? Those same things, again and again? Like, for instance, we watched the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary concert again this Sunday afternoon. And, again, it felt a lot like THIS. Also this time, I wanted the guy who designed the lighting to come out and take a bow. Wow. The lighting.

And I’ve been doing a lot of school teaching. And I love being a substitute teacher, because it gives me the very best of the teaching opportunities without any of the hard work. (Yes, that is just exactly the kind of girl I am. Are you new here or something?) And this week I got to talk about To Kill a Mockingbird, and even to watch Gregory Peck be Atticus. Oh, Gregory. Oh, Atticus. You are one in my heart. And I got to teach high school seniors about resumes, so naturally I took in like 500 bloopers from the worst resumes ever written and shared them. Also, I showed them THIS. Because I own the skill of getting around the local school district’s non-YouTube filter. Add Hacker to my resume. Also, yesterday this dumb thing I did: I asked a certain class to do a certain thing, and several of the kids said they’d do it. So I wrote their names down. Here’s the thing. I teach these classes now and then, maybe almost once a month. I’m THEIR sub, if you know what I mean. And they like me. And I like them, too. And I’m learning many of their names. But. Mostly the ones on the top half of the attendance rolls, because once I hit the Ms, I’m just ready to move on instead of making eye contact with everyone. See? So yesterday, I wrote down the names of the kids I could remember, then I had TO ASK A COUPLE OF THEM TO TELL ME THEIR NAMES. They were offended, in the most polite way. They teased me. One said, head cocked to the side, “Really? You don’t know me?” And I laughed and said, of course I do, you’re my very best friend, and COME ON. It’s not like you know MY first name. And he got that “What are you talking about?” look on his face and said, “Becca.” Like, duh, lady. Then he told me who he was and I repeated his name seventeen times, and now I will never forget it again. First or last. Or initials BS (no kidding). And I used to think I was good with names. Turns out that as a sub, you end up with about a thousand different students a month. And I’m just not THAT GOOD.

And Nunsense is a riot. We’re pretty darn funny, if I must say so myself. Again. (Saturdays in March at 7:00. 100N 100W in Heber City. I’ll be there, I promise. I’m the one in the NunSuit.)

Also, apparently while I was inside a building somewhere, Spring sprang up around here. Sprang is a word. Spell checker doesn’t even try to stop me from using it. Sprang, sprang, sprang. I’m giddy with freedom. Sprang. It sounds like “boing” — another word that is very fun to say and type and read. At least for me. And, need I remind you who this blog belongs to? I thought not.

And remember once when I told you I read NORTH AND SOUTH? And that I wanted to adore it? Well, I finally found enough minutes to finish watching the BBC miniseries. Guess what. Go on, guess. Oh, all right. I’ll tell you. I said these words to Husband: “The movie was better than the book.” He gasped and made me repeat myself. (It’s happened before. I feel that way about the Wynona Ryder/Susan Sarandon/Christian Bale version of Little Women, too.) But N&S was so lovely that I will watch it again. When I get 4 hours. Check back with me in a few months. (Keyword: Richard Armitage. Yes. Yes.)

I made hotel reservations to go to this lovely place in July. It will be glorious and tree-full and hot and humid and my hair will be a flat-out disaster. But it will be awesome nonetheless. (Sometimes I just like to write things that aren’t words normal people would ever say.) (Should ever say?) And my parents are there, and it will be so, so good to have a real, face-to-face, hug-it-out kind of conversation with them again. It has been WAY too many months. (11 already.) And I’m going to find out how to get an excursion on a Mississippi River paddle boat, ala Mr. Mark Twain. They’d have that, right? (Google, come to my aid.) (Again.)

And, since it’s been very nearly a year, I’m thinking about paying someone to cut my hair again. Just a trim, but a trim done by someone else’s hands sounds like quite a treat. Yes. That sounds like a lovely idea. I’ll let you know if I actually choose to act on that lovely idea.

Then there’s this: On my no-white-flour, no sugar thing, I lost 12 pounds (mostly in February). And then I started getting cocky and cheating now and then (pizza, yes — pasta, once — cookies, only the lemon ones — and it’s girl scout cookie ice cream month [thank you, Dreyer’s], so, Samoas, yes) and for the last 3 weeks, I’ve been at a stall. But I’m back on the wagon again. Why do I feel the need to tell you these things? I have no idea. But I told you anyway. You’re welcome.