Susan Layton

Film Producer - ASL Performer - Life Learner

Author: Susan (page 1 of 5)

Hacked By Imam

Hacked By Imam with Love

Taking “Glorious” from script to video …

“Glorious” – one of my favorite songs, still to this day!  When “Glorious”, written and originally sung by Stephanie Mabey, came out in all its David Archuleta amazingness, I thought, “Oh!  If could get my hands on the license or an opportunity ever came up, I would LOVE to perform this and perhaps record it!” Archuleta1 I didn’t have a translation yet but I just knew I loved the message!

Not long after Glorious was released, the big announcement came! David Archuleta and “Meet the Mormons” invited everyone and anyone to submit videos performing  “Glorious” for a chance to take part in a Fan Supercut video!  Here was my opportunity!  There was little sleep for me that night.  ALL night I was dissecting, thinking, translating, and then running it by Ryan and then more of it all.

Practice Pix5For me, most of my song translations and dissections take a good amount of time.  It’s not just the words but its the musicality, the timing, the expressions, the thoughts behind my choices, and more.  Some songs take more time than others – and “Glorious” was no exception!  The lyrics are amazing but the challenge came from the meaning behind the words, for example the analogy between “symphony” and “life”.  I had to figure out what I thought they meant and how I could convey them.  I still had to consider creating something beautiful and meaningful, musically and visually, while still making sense in ASL.  Of course, there really is no one-and-only right translation or interpretation, because the end result would come from the eyes of the beholder, and each of us have different thoughts of what it would mean and how we’d want to convey that.  Pix12
But for me it wasn’t about a “symphony” or musical melodies- it’s not about using your ears to hear anything – it is about this grander thing we called life and realizing that we all play a great part in it individually but yet all together.  And through it all, we are discovering who we really are.  As we dig deep, we realize that there is greatness there!  There is power!  There is a divine glory!  That’s what I needed to convey — somehow!

Lyrics Glorious InterpretationWhen it came to the verses, I initially thought they were pretty cut and dry.  I had a basic know-how of what I wanted to convey.   It wasn’t until near the end of filming that my “cut and dry” idea really evolved into more. However, it was the chorus that I spent the most time on from start to end. There was a lot of prayer and thought and pen marks on paper, deep research with the dictionary, thesaurus and Google. (The photo of my lyric breakdown – scribbles and scratches – was taken at the beginning of the dissection period.)

For people who don’t understand the language of ASL, it’s hard to just give you even a rough “gloss” (meaning what it is I signed – sign for sign, expression, etc) and have you walk away and understand what I really meant by it. %22Glorious%22 BreakdownSo, I typed out a very rough gloss, if you will, really more like a very rough translation.  It’s hard to put on paper what is meant in this visual language – ASL – because so much is incorporated – it’s not just a sign = a word.  You can interpret ASL and include so much more because of the things you can use your voice to create… anyways,  keep that in mind while you are reading it. This is just to give you an idea of what I meant by my performance.  (I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. Ha) … Anyways, you can click on the picture and once enlarged, you can read the “Glorious” lyrics on the left and on the right are the English verbiage of my final translations.  I’d encourage you to read that and watch my final video at the same time, so you can see how each part came together.  Sure, as you read what is written, you’ll see that the lyrics and my meanings come out to mean the same thing (that’s of course what my goal was) but it comes down to what it is I conveyed and how I decided to do it – because if I signed “symphony” that is not what was intended and the purpose of the message would have been lost.

Once I have a pretty good idea of what it is I want to sign and how to convey it, I begin recording myself.  For this piece, I recorded several times and then I watched it back – sometimes after a bulk number of recordings, sometimes after each time. Practice Pix4Tweaking was almost constant – sometimes I’d end up changing out whole entire parts.  This process of tweaking and rerecording went on for quite some time.  The next day I got dressed up and makeup on and I was ready to record.  I practiced some more and then went to the studio.  At that point, I still didn’t feel my translation was final.  Counting up the number of times I recorded in the studio that day, meaning stop and start, was a whopping 24 times!  One of those clips lasted 10 seconds and another lasted 38 minutes and 43 seconds (no stopping just letting the camera roll through each take).  I looked over a few of those videos and I could feel the desperation I was experiencing to get it right.  I remember there was one part that I would forget how I wanted to set it up and each time it came to that part, I would mess up and have to start all over.  Pix6During the time I was waiting for the music to begin again I would rehearse it over and over.   It had only been one day since the announcement but I wanted to get it done as quick as I could, and at the same time, I didn’t want to deviate from the translation that I came up with – unless it just didn’t work, then I would change it.  To you it may seem like I’m a perfectionist for the number of takes I did.  To me, not so.  But I’m sure you can relate — when you’re in your element, and it’s something you feel deeply about, you’ll only settle for your best, especially when you know you can do it.  That was me.  That’s what I wanted.  Desperately.  I wanted my translation right, I wanted it to flow, I wanted the expressions and feelings there, I wanted my timing right.  I kept on going.

Practice Pix9Green Screen Diversion: I decided to use a green screen in the shot and not change out the background for a couple of reasons.  The first reason: The night of the announcement, after I finally decided to go to sleep, I had a dream.  In my dream I was filming “Glorious” — that’s how it goes when you’re so consumed, right?! Ha. Well, in my final video I had used a green screen and left it as is.  Cool, eh?  Ha.  Some of you are probably thinking what I was thinking … you don’t have to always do what your dreams tell you.  Well, the next day as I was recording, I really felt that leaving the background green, albeit wrinkled, was what I needed to do.  Let the message pop with the brightness, yet simplicity of the color, regardless of how imperfect it is. That’s what I decided to do.  I still somewhat cringe at my wrinkled background, but then I let it go.  I am not perfect.  I am on a journey, just like the rest of the world.  I am here to find my purpose.  So are you.  Let the little things go – and for me, that day, it was my green screen.

Although I was recording over and over again, I was still tweaking as I was going along.  For example, the part in the chorus: “Everyone plays a piece, And there are melodies.”   (For reference sake: A melody in musical terms is the principle part of the music in a harmonic composition. Meaning, there may be a lot going on but through it all, there is an underlying part that most of us, if not all, can recognize.) There are two pictures below.  In the picture with my hair up, I was recording during practice.  In the picture with my hair down, I was filming in studio – the final day.  If you’ll notice in the practice shot how my hands are placed almost directly over one another.  In the final they are not – they are overlapping only two fingers.  To me, that slight change of hands was very important.  Here is why: Many of us share similar experiences or backgrounds with others, while others have gone through the same exact experience as another person – but regardless of our experiences and who we shared them with, we do not experience life the same way. It is true that we can have empathy for others or share experiences in which we can say “been there done that” but none of us have lives that play out exactly like each other.  That is the melody, or underlying part, that most of us (if not all) can recognize, while the rest of life plays on around us.  (Full hand – experience all the same regardless of our lives; Two fingers – experience our own life but still share in many experiences). So, this slight difference in my hands is how I decided to portray that meaning in  my translation.  (Are you following me? … I do hope so.  Smile)Practice Pix7
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By the end of the first full day, I still did not have the recording I wanted to put out.  I decided to rest and let it be for the night. I prayed all night.  The next day I got back up and went to the studio.  I was still praying for help!  I began recording, and again, looking back at those videos, I can see the hope, plead and desperation between takes.  Between the last two takes, with the camera still rolling, a prayer was offered.  And then I just paused and regrouped myself.  There was a big breath and then I moved forward to start the music again.  That last take was the video that I decided to release.  I believe in this message.  I believe that we all, everyone, whether we understand or not quite all the way, learning or are there, are in a journey of discovery.  Discovering the purpose of life.  Discovering our purpose in life.

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What I learned most from this experience was that we just gotta keep going.  It’s not easy sometimes.  It can be frustrating, to say the least, but on the flip, it can and will be absolutely beautiful and glorious!  Discovering who we are is the quest at hand.  Keep going.  That goes for you, and that goes for me!

I hope you know that there is a loving Heavenly Father who loves and cares deeply for you.  Discovering and rediscovering that simple truth is one of the most profound things we will ever experience.  That is what makes life so absolutely glorious and beautiful.   We were born with that divine glory – finding it is all part of the journey.

Practice Pix8Sweet peace and happiness to you always!

Sincerely,

Susan

 

P.S. Did I make it to the Final Fan Supercut video?  I sure did!  Check it out!  CLICK HERE Pix11

P.P.S. If you haven’t watched “Meet the Mormons” yet – perhaps you are not Mormon (LDS) yourself, I’d like to invite you to watch it.  It’s not about converting anyone.  It’s about showing that each of us are in the same boat.  We’re here on this glorious creation we call Earth, learning to discover who we are.  I cried.  I laughed.  I thought long and hard.  It is a beautiful movie! www.MeettheMormons.com (The pictures below, along with two in the body of this post, were taken from the official “Glorious” music video/”Meet the Mormons” movie.) 

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The Making of “JOY to the World”

JOY-SnowThe making of

“JOY to the World”

I’m a little late in posting how the video “JOY to the World” came to be.  But I wanted to still share this … because as you will see throughout this and then reminded again at the end, you will find how “JOY” plays in to the world as we know it – a new year, a new start.
IMG_9875When I first began the thought process for filming “Joy to the World”, I thought that maybe the focus should be at a Christmas party, sharing joy with family, friends, acting out the Nativity, etc.  But then I thought to myself, JOY!  JOY to the World!  HOW?  How can we have TRUE JOY?  Where does JOY come from?  What can one do to experience LASTING JOY?  How can someone my age, someone older, someone younger recognize and long remember the JOY that comes from the Christmas season? And then it came to me!  GIVE! Give of yourself!  That can really mean anything – our time, talents, money, our heart.  That’s what Christ did.  He gave of himself and JOY, lasting, true JOY came and that is why we celebrate Christmas!  Isn’t that why we live, period?!  Men are, that they might have JOY!

One of the challenges that is faced when trying to film a video that requires other people is … getting the people.  Smile.Pix-14  This particular weekend that I’d be shooting this video, and the ONLY day I was available to film, was on Black Friday!  I know, you’re thinking, “You need people… on BLACK FRIDAY?!? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!”  I know!  But somehow, they all came together! Of course, I enticed the first group with milk, donuts and hand warmers. They agreed, thankfully, and we met at the nativity on the grounds of the St. George, Utah Temple.  That morning was SOOO cold and we were all in a hurry to get it done, which we did, but somehow, I totally forgot the hand warmers in the car!  Yes, we froze.  I think my brain froze or something! Ha. But the entire time, there were nothing but smiles! … I’m glad they still love me!
Pix-18We only had half of an hour to film at the nativity and then my family had to drive up to the blizzard-like Cedar City, Utah, about an hour north of St. George.   We met our next group at SubZero, a deliciously fabulous ice cream shop.  (If you haven’t yet, you gotta go there!)  Thankfully, we put up the decorations the day before, so we only needed to set up the lighting and get my camera-girl up to speed on shots.   And then we waited for our cast.  A few people couldn’t come last minute, so gratefully other friends came to fill in.
I feel so blessed to know such amazing people! Pix-12 All of the cast enjoyed great big ice creams, hot chocolates and steamed milks.  Man, I’m salivating again.  Ha. I was worried about the time, because we only had two hours before SubZero would open for regular business.  But somehow we got everything shot under those two hours. Phew!  I couldn’t have done it without these very giving people and SubZero! I filmed at SubZero because I wanted to go back to “normal life” after the first verse of seeing me with the homeless man.  I wanted to show that when you give, you have a greater hop to your step. When you give, the feeling of JOY just wants to burst out of your seams.  There wasn’t anything else I really wanted to show there but JOY IS CONTAGIOUS and it comes from the things we do for others.

 

JOYPix The part of the homeless man in the snow was a “must” from the creation. As far as the weather went, the weeks forecast was: “Wednesday: snow; Every other day: sunny”.  So I was praying that either the Wednesday snow would last till Friday or that it would snow again on Friday for the shoot.  Well, Wednesday’s snow completely melted before the sun set that very same day.  Drats!  So, I kept praying it would snow – I believed it would just make this part of the video so much more if there was snow.  On Friday, when I woke up, my folks called to say, “We see you’ve been praying cuz the snow is here for your video!”  Sure enough! All day, it continued to bring down gorgeous big flakes.  The snow stopped falling  about an hour after we were done shooting.  I was so grateful!

With all the hustle and bustle of prepping everything else, the one thing I didn’t bring for myself was a coat.  Oh well, it’s hard to sign in a coat anyways. Ha.  When it came to deciding who would play the part of the homeless man, it was clear in my mind who it needed to be.  Pix4This man was absolutely perfect and patient in every way!  We had a few minor “issues” when it came to filming the part outside.  Let’s see, where do I start?!  Ok! … As we began shooting, the music kept freezing on us.  We couldn’t get it to start at the part we needed.  So, my helpers (who volunteered last minute, but also didn’t have coats) put it inside their clothes, thinking it was the cold that was causing it to wig out on us.  But then, inside of clothing, they found it was hard to start/stop as needed. Ha. Once we got that all worked out, we shot a few parts and then it was the camera’s turn.  Yup, the camera decided to totally turn off, telling us that the battery was dead!  Impossible, I thought, it was almost fully charged before we went out 15 minutes ago! So inside we went and plugged it in to recharge.  Don’t get me wrong, I was NOT protesting coming out of the cold – my hands and feet were as ice cold and burning as I had ever experienced before! I was sick to my stomach, it was so painfully cold!  I thought, HOW did the pioneers do it, walking across the plains in the bitter winter storms?!?  I guess the Lord knew I wasn’t one that would be able to weather that too well.  Pix-19Ten minutes later and the camera was still not turning on.  Remembering the hand warmers that I forgot to give to the morning group, I grabbed them and we placed them all over the camera.  Within a minute or two the camera turned on, with full charge.  Sure enough, it was frozen! And then we put the hand warmers in our shoes, pockets and anywhere else we could to keep us warm when we headed outside again.  Of course, while we were waiting we each ordered another round of hot chocolate and deliciously mouthwatering caramel steamed milk.  Mmmmm… my favorite!  When it was time to go outside again, the camera kept it’s warmers in every crevasse possible and our music volunteer and device got a blanket and several warmers as well!  No more issues with electronics from then on out!  Yay!

Pix-9Finally, we were ready to film the remaining part of the homeless man scene.  We invited people off the street to come help us out, and they were so sweet.  Of course, there were a few who had wide eyes and ran like we were burglars.  Ha.  One older lady drove by, rolled down her window and asked what we were doing.  I tried to explain as simply as I could that we were filming for a music video and briefly shared this particular part.  She said, “You’re not making any sense!  Here…”, as she was fishing through her purse for some money, “let me give you some money.”  I tried to say, if I give you the money, will you put it in the stocking and we can film that?  She said, “NO! You don’t give ME money! I’ll give YOU money!” And then she wasn’t quite understanding the filming part of it all. Ha.  Sweet lady!  So she ended up giving me $1.50 and driving away.  She left with a huge smile on her face.  That’s what it’s all about, I guess!  Give of your heart and joy comes.  Later that day, I passed her kind gesture on to a man asking for help.  It really was a very memorable part of filming for me, even though we didn’t film any of that.
Pix-1The second to last part of this video shows us at a friends’ house having fun and wrapping gifts.  Although it was a crazy part of the night, with eight little people, who are all best friends and really wanted to play more than anything, I caught some very special moments.  Of course, I could not have done it without their mother!  She was getting them in position and keeping them focused and happy and all that, while I was shooting. Pix-4 I was pretty sure she would un-friend me from life after that night.  Ha.  I’m so happy that she didn’t. The next day I had to come back and do the transition scene where I was coming in her house, she was like, “SURE!”  I really have special people in my life!  Having the kids deliver the gifts to the family was neat too — we must have shot that 25 times but from shot number one to the last, the kids were excited and happy and ready to go each time!

 

Pix-3The receiving family was so gracious.  I loved how the mom, and even the daughter, would come out, stand in awe and then hug each other as I could see them offer a silent prayer of gratitude. The sweet little boy did something different each time, but each time it was so precious.  He would give the small gift to his mother, he would look down with the biggest “wow” grin ever, he would bite his lower lip as if he were containing his excitement, he’d jump down from the doorway, he’d grab his mom’s leg in a bear hug.  I loved every one of their shots!

From my storyboard thoughts to the finished product, I think the scene that stood out the most was the very last shot in the finished video “Joy to the World”.  I wanted to show that even when we give, the JOY doesn’t stop there. Pix-23 I originally wanted to show that idea by capturing a shot of my family driving home after the days activities and then from our view, we would see the same homeless man who I gave money to earlier in the day, then giving back to others.  Since there wasn’t enough time to show all of that, I still wanted to capture the homeless man with the stocking in hand, obviously no longer with money in it, giving a bag of groceries to another homeless man. Since it was snowing quite heavily that day, the shot was beautifully portrayed. The last shot came out like this: A homeless man hunched down in a corner behind a building, trying to stay warm from the bitter cold and snow.  The only thing he has is a small blanket draped over his back. Pix-8 In the shot walks the homeless man, seen earlier in the video, holding two bags of groceries and an empty red Christmas stocking.  The shivering man looks up and says to the other, as he’s handed a bag of food, “For me?… THANK YOU!” Squatting down, they both proceed to open their grocery bags of blessings.  That, for me, made the video exactly what I wanted it to show.  That is, that when we give, we should give with our heart.  And sometimes we don’t know what really happens once we give to others.  We may never know.  But you can never go wrong when you give! That’s where the JOY comes in!  JOY to the World can only come when you give of yourself!

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m a little late in posting how “JOY to the World” came to be.  However, just to note, today it’s January 1, 2016.  And every where on social media I see, “For 2016, I want peace on earth!”  Peace on Earth – Joy to the World.  They come from the same place.  Giving of yourself.  Loving others.  Sharing goodness.  Smiling.  Helping.  Being kind.  Forgiving. Those produce JOY.  Those will bring the PEACE that we all seek.  I pray and hope and hope and pray that we can figure out this PEACE that we all seek.  I hope and pray and pray and hope that we will find JOY in our journey of seeking peace.  Love to all!  And from my heart to yours, JOY to the world!

Give (JOY) … and ye shall find (JOY)!

Sincerely,

Susan

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P.S. Isn’t Francesca Battistelli’s version of “Joy to the World” fabulous?!  So love it!

P.P.S. THANKS to ALL who were involved!!!  JUST – SO – GRATEFUL!!!

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Meditate – Oh How It Helps!

Yesterday was a pretty tough day dealing with the depression.  The fraud stuff and other challenges of the day didn’t help.   But by evening, somehow, I felt better.  That doesn’t happen much.  But I know I’m taking care of myself and I believe it is helping my *whatevers* to be strong and *stuff like that*.  I went to bed at nine o’clock and got up feeling pretty refreshed and in good spirits.  I learned a new pool workout *thing* that have left my arms feeling pretty awesome! One of my laps around I thought I needed to turn around.  What a blessing because one of the ladies, walking near the pool, slipped and fell.  I was near her and happened to see her – because I was turned backwards.  I raced against the current, to where I could get out.  Helping this frazzled sweet lady up, her poor knees and wrists, she said it was only her pride that really hurt.  Yeah, I get that.

Despite my vocab that has been challenged today, I’m feeling really great.  But one thing that has really helped my vocabulary and my ability to focus and remember things easier is when I meditate.  I’d say for the last week I have not taken the time to meditate and now I’m seeing the effects.  Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with my diminishing on-the-spot vocabulary, ability to focus and just remembering *happenings*, thank goodness for my calendar!  So, I studied how I could stay on top of my vocab, focus, and memory.  I read over and over that taking the time to meditate has been shown to help with these … *righto*.   I have noticed that when I meditate, my brain is my active and attentive.  My words come easier and my memory is sharper.

Word Cloud Meditate 3It’s hard with a busy life to sit and take time to meditate.  But I try and find the time.  I get out of the pool ten minutes early and sit in the hot tub.  I take the time to stretch and meditate.  I usually focus on my breathing.  I also take some time to focus on positive things while I breathe slowly in and out.  I try hard not to let my mind wander.  That’s the hard part.  But I feel recharged and positive after those 10 minutes.  I have noticed a stronger mind, and more balanced, since I started.  When I don’t go to the pool but exercise other places or the days I’m “off” (or like today when I didn’t realize the time and it was time to leave for work and I’m still in the pool), the time to meditate just doesn’t happen.  And when it doesn’t happen, I see the effects later, like today. Yeah, it’s becoming a necessity to meditate … and a pleasure!

What have you done to recharge yourself today?  How does meditation help you?  Where is your favorite place to sit and just breathe?  Comment below.

No Bueno …

Today is a day that has reminded me that this terrible disease is not fun.  For me, depression is like a room full of the fattest elephants sitting on top of you.  It’s hard to think, let alone breathe.  It’s numbing.  You have no where to go, and even if you could, you have no where to go.  It’s so terribly terrible! It is.

This morning, I dropped off my kiddos to school and then I was on my way to swimming, fighting the tears, fighting the feelings.  Arriving to the aquatic center, I just sat in my car. I sat there fighting the feeling to start the car again and leave.  But then my phone rang.  That didn’t help.  Major fraud in my name (AGAIN!) … SIGH!!! … These very disrespectful and rude nincompoops (and just so disrespectful and rude!) are at it again.  I called my hubby and shared the news.  I told him I gotta go in and exercise or I will be a complete and utter mess!  He told me, “GO!”  I did.  I decided to not wait.  I know that if I wait, I will stop in my tracks, the feet (and mind) just can’t go any further.  But I did – I went in.  I was proud of myself.  That was hard!  While I was doing my laps, I just focused on how strong I was, reminded myself of how much I love this part of my days.  The sweet folks in the pool asked the routine, “How are you?”  I just took a breath each time, smiled and said, “I’m good.”  Not really.  But I’m better because I’m here.  That’s what I reminded myself each time, too.

I worked hard those 80 minutes.  And then I went and worked on the elliptical machine and the bike for another 30 minutes.  I just needed to.  I felt better.

I’m not totally well right now.  But I wanted to record this before I forget the struggle… and the victories of this day.  Right now, they’re not “hooray” kind of victories or any of the sort, but victories are victories!!!  I’m still taking breaths.  Mostly shallow, but that is okay! I’m still just trying to make sense of this day, and really just make it through.  I will.  🙂  It’ll just take a bit of extra effort.  No promises that tears won’t come.  But I’ll get through it.

I do hope that as you read this blog (or any of my postings now or in the future), that you won’t think me anything but a person who loves her family, has a passion and love of the arts, and one who tries her best in all that she does.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m not a person anyone should ever feel they can’t be friends with.  I try to be kind, respectful and loving.  Depression is just a challenge I was blessed with.  And I will come out a stronger person because of it.

Much love and a warm blanket,

Susan

My Suit is Suiting Me Well!

Thus far, I have been going to “therapy” for almost two weeks, resting on both Saturday and Sunday.  I am a different me!  I feel GREAT!  It has snowed three times, rained three days, gloomy a few of the other days and sunny (but sweater weather) the rest of the time.  By this time of the year, with this kind of weather, I wouldn’t make it out of my house much.  If I wasn’t scheduled for work or at church, I would mostly be in my bed or trying to get things done around the house.  I would have such trouble in my head and cry in my pillow (or driving or wherever anyone was not).  When I would go out, everyone would think I was the happiest of people.  I would try very hard to hide my struggles with depression.  I very much dislike looking like a miserable, howling, dying cat.  (Smiling but it’s true!)

The first few days (“or so”) of my water ‘therapy’ I kept reminding myself that I am fighting against depression.  It was on my mind the entire time I was in the Lazy River, not being lazy. Ha. The next couple of days it was snowing and I just tried turning my thoughts to “it’s snowing and that’s not bad”.  I felt like Wreck-it-Ralph in “Wreck-It-Ralph” during his therapy session.  🙂  But after those days passed, I’m not there for depression anymore.  Sure, it’s the underlying purpose I get myself to the aquatic center every day and will continue to go there.  I also recognize my fight will most likely always be there.  But I’m, thankfully, to the point where I can put the thoughts of “depression – you can beat it” to “I am here and work on me” … or Instead of, “I gotta keep my head afloat today – don’t worry about the snow – I can do this!”, it’s “I said ‘good morning’ to Thelma and Kristine and Jaime and all those others and hallelujah, I feel it! I mean it!  It IS a good morning!”  Then there is this reminder: “Don’t forget how I feel today when tomorrow, next week and forever more rolls around!  This is why I come!”

So, you’re like, the title, Susan!  Why did you title this blog “My Suit is Suiting Me Well” and you haven’t mentioned a suit?  Well, I’m gearing up to that.  Water therapy requires suiting up for the water.  Yeah. (dot, dot, dot) Sigh.  Having to suit up everyday, I wanted to feel like I could walk in the water and not yell “SPIDER!” as I point across the pool, hoping all the heads would turn the other way.  (Smiling, laughing, yeah, I think I’m funny!  What can I say? Hehe. But the spider thing, yeah, felt!)  Anyways, I deliberately bought a black suit and a pair of free flowing black shorts to wear during my water therapy.  ‘Deliberately’ meaning black and black.  I didn’t buy it out of depression, but one that might hide my pear-shape uhhh …. whats the word … attributes.  Yeah, attributes.  The attributes I don’t feel as comfortable with while in a swimsuit.  😀  Susan, that’s weird.  Too bad.  BUT,  what has made me feel more confident is this: my new bravery suit (translation: swimsuit) feels good and fits in the all the right places (a rare moment), and if I’m gonna be honest (and I’m gonna because this is what this blog is about – insecure me learning to love me) – dang it, the suit looks good on me, pear-shape and all!  The bonus: The compliments!  Didn’t expect them – at all! But they come and it feels so good!!

What’s your favorite part of getting well – physically, mentally or spiritually?  What have you done to get yourself on your healthy path?  Mine was getting a swimsuit I can live with.  Share with me your thoughts and comments below!

(A new friend at the pool asked where I got my swimsuit – so for you, my darling, here it is: )

Our Journey We Call Life

My life.  Perhaps you can relate.  I have many blessings to count.  I have been blessed with wonderful parents, brothers and sisters.  I have a husband who works hard to provide,  protect and love our family.  Our kids are our little gems, still in the polishing stage but so beautiful regardless.  (I guess we all are – just at different stages along the process.)  SistersFam7There are many other things, little and big along the way that I count as blessings.  I look back and see my life has been so good, but I must say that life has not always been easy.

I believe in God. I believe that God is our Heavenly Father.  I believe that as a Father, He loves us more than we could ever understand.  And as a loving Parent, He wants us to learn, grow and become stronger.  Yes, the hard part.

Growing.  Learning. Trying to understand.  Sometimes it’s bearable and I can still push through without a lot of growing pains.  Other times, however, it feels like a trek that is so long and grievous, it is almost unbearable.  But I’m grateful knowing there is purpose to this life.  I am also grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that knows we cannot do it on our own.  I see His hand in my life.  It’s difficult to pen the challenging moments with the load that has been lifted.  I just know that somehow through the each small hill and every grievous mountain I have climbed – pushing, pulling and even sometimes carrying others, I have not been left to do it alone.  My load was made light, even for a small moment amidst a struggle.  After a long and heart-wrenching cry, I have felt arms wrapped around me, those that I could not see.  The times that I could not go anymore, I kept going.  I don’t know how.  I look back and it was like that poem “Footsteps in the Sand” says, I was carried.  And then those times of rest and rejuvenation from the storms of life. Oh, how I am so grateful for those times.  Sometimes, almost unknowingly to me, those times of rest have come right before I set foot on the more difficult part of my journey.

I think of my journey often.  I think of where it has taken me.  I think of the difficult times, as well as the times of bliss. I count them all as blessings. Yes, even those those long and grievous times, I count as blessings. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without them.  I don’t pray for hard times.  Maybe I should.  I’d probably grow more.  But through it all, I do try and keep myself in check with an eternal perspective.   Sometimes I remember on my own, sometimes I am reminded.

Shifting gears, but not really (and perhaps not as gracefully as I’d like- but here it goes) … (smile) …. The one song that I have filmed that speaks my life and how I feel from my personal heart and the life I walk from day to day is “Come, Come Ye Saints”.  You may or may not have strong religious beliefs. You may or may not be a descendant of a pioneer.  You may or may not be a modern-day pioneer, in any sense of the word.  But I am almost completely sure, we all have struggles.  We all have challenges.  We all have good days and bad.  We all climb hills that we wish we didn’t have to climb, but maybe we know we have to or we have to regardless.  We all need those moments of peace.  We all desire for times of rest.  We all want to be good, to be loved, to finish our journey with satisfaction knowing we did all we could.  That’s what this song says to me.  There was a lot of “trek” in this song.  There was a lot of “journey” in my vision and feelings of this piece.  There was also a lot of hope and peace and counting of blessings.  That is what it says to me.  That’s what I tried to express in every form while preparing and filming.

I hope that through your journey, if you ever need to just “watch and feel” or perhaps need a glimmer of hope and peace, or even someone to say “Keep on going”, I hope that you will think of this piece, “Come, Come Ye Saints”.  I hope that when you watch this you will feel the power of the message.  I hope that you will know that our journey, though it may be hard, is here for us to learn and grow, and to love and be loved, and enjoy and be happy.  My favorite line in this song is, “All is well.  All is well.”  God knows us. He loves us.  There is a plan.  And through it all, yes, all is well …  All is well!

SistersFam7

 

Safe Water – A MUST!

BP-WaterSupplyPixWhat do the numbers: 6, 7, and 2 have in common?  E Coli!  Within the last SIX MONTHS in SEVEN confirmed areas in the US and Canada, including TWO cities this past weekend in northern Utah, public water systems were contaminated with E Coli!  Each instance has required a complete shut OFF to the entire city’s access and use to their public water systems!  This has confirmed my opinion of the question: Is water storage important?  My answer, and your answer, should and MUST be a resounding: YES!   Each of those communities have had to boil ALL water for drinking, pet needs, bathing, gardening and well, basically, everything else!  I am sure they are counting their blessings that they still had the means to boil their water!  I think it is safe to say that boiling E-V-E-R-Y drop they used and consumed had to have been a bit inconvenient, to say the least!

Water4Sure, they could have run to the store and purchased some bottled water for their needs. But as we all know, bottled water, at a time of crisis, run off shelves like water off a ducks back!  So we can’t rely on last minute water purchasing either.

What can we do BEFORE the crisis occurs?  What preparations can we make BEFORE the emergency? We can have access to clean water, but how???  There are a couple of things to consider.Water2

First, consider adding one or more of the following to your emergency kit: water filtersicon, water purifiersicon, purifier tabletsicon, micro filtersicon, water storageicon systems, desalinatorsicon, 4 ounce  water pouchescleaning systemsicon.  These filters, purifiers and systems are made specifically for our families.  Water-related emergencies WILL occur.  Having safe water to use and consume during these catastrophes is critical.  That is the ONLY reason these are made and made available to each of us! Be sure you are ready!

Water5Second, whether or not you include filters, purifiers and systems in your kit, learn the know-hows of preparing your water to make safe for your family.  Don’t wait for an emergency to learn the do’s and don’ts.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers great information: “Make Water Safe” (pdf) and “Drink Safe Water” (pdf).  Add these informational documents to your 72-hour kits!

Bottom line: Do what you need to do so you are not without water!  Water contamination comes with ZERO notice.  Just ask each of these communities, each and every member. Prepare now and have peace later, knowing your family will have safe water for their needs!

Other websites and resources on water-related emergencies preparations:

The CDCReady.gov and Emergency Essentials.

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Water Filtration

 

*The water system picture courtesy of Emergency Essentials.

Election Education in ASL: “Who’s Running?”

There is a lot of “Election 2016” information in the media  … but not much of it comes to us in ASL.  Good news though! The Deaf and Hearing Network just released this video with some great preliminary education on the upcoming “Election 2016” … in ASL!  (Also interpreted in English).  Check it out!

Election 2016: Who’s Running

Elections Photo

 

The Spirit of America Stood Right Before My Eyes!

It’s Memorials Day.  And like every Memorials Day, I sit in tears.  Tears of gratitude for living in a country where honorable men and women have fought and continue to fight.  They fight out of love for this country – they fight for me, for you, our families, our freedom, and our peace.

Last week my family went to an airshow.  There were experiences there that will go down in my history books as moments I will never forget.

My oldest was admiring the little booklets that were lying on the table: “Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States”.  I asked her, “Don’t you have the Constitution memorized?”  Veterans1She said, “No, not all of it yet. But hopefully I’ll be able to recite it all someday by memory.”  Then she continued her way down the table to admire the soldier tools, garb and other equipment.  A Veteran came over to her with one of those little booklets in his hand and said, “Ma’am, I would be honored if you would have this!”  He proceeded to hand her the booklet of the Declaration and Constitution.  She thanked him and thanked him for his service to our country.  He said, “Ma’am, it was my privilege to serve!”   …   The spirit of America was standing right there in front of me!   … And I stood there in awe, with a full heart.

Just days before this airshow, the air grounds erected a flag pole.  Today they would dedicate it.  These Veterans raised the flag on the pole, shot a two-gun salute and lead the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  The sounds of “The Star Spangled Banner” on the bugle began to fill the air.  Veterans2I was filled with emotion as I interpreted this sacred music for my husband.  Then we stood and waited for the fly over.   The crowd was quiet.  It was solemn.  In these brief moments of holding my hand over my heart, I was reminded that this was not “just a flag pole”.  This held one of the greatest blessings we enjoy in this country.  It held the very thing that stands for our peace and our freedom.  It is what faithful men and women have fought for – and still fight for – on a daily basis.  I am thankful for what this dedication taught me! The spirit of America was standing right before my very eyes, once again!

Fighter planes, military jeeps, mines, MRE’s, Veteran3bazookas, helmets, blankets, scriptures, photos, and so much more filled our day.  These Veterans and soldiers filled our day with education and more importantly of gratitude and love of this country!  I can’t say it enough … I am grateful for these men and women – they have fought and still fight, have died and still live – for our country, our freedoms, our peace, our families, for me, for you.  We are so blessed!

This ‘Happy Memorial’s Day’ means a lot more to me!  Thank you to those who serve and won’t come back to be with us.  Your spirit is felt.  Your service will live on!  We remember you!  We honor you!  WE THANK YOU!

 

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