A Romantic Dream

I have this little dream. It’s a romantic dream, just for my wife. It goes like this.

She spends a fun morning with her daughters, but when she comes home, there is a bit of a surprise.

An unfamiliar car is in the driveway. See, I’ve rented a nice SUV. The back gate is open, and the rig is loaded to the gills with suitcases. Her suitcases and my suitcases. Everything is packed for a trip, including books she is currently reading. (I got a packing list from her months before.)

She smiles and says, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Are you ready?” I say.

“Where are we going?” she asks.

“You’ll find out,” I say. “By the time you change, we’ll be ready to go.”

“You’re in trouble,” she says, but she likes surprises. I know that for sure.

Soon, we are on our way to the airport. She keeps quizzing me, but I offer no clues, only that we will be traveling by air for the first leg of our journey, and that we will gone longer than a week.

On the drive north to the airport, I offer her chocolate covered almonds. She likes those. In the CD player is all the hit singles from 1979, the year we got married. We sing the oldies, slightly off key, and hold hands.

We get to the airport. It is there she discovers we are flying to London. It will be a long flight, but we are in the First Class section, and our seats recline. We watch “Sabrina,” but we aren’t on the Concord. We watch “Letters to Juliet.” “Enchanted April,” “Pride and Prejudice,” all these movies we like to watch together. We laugh.

She asks me what we’ll do in London, and all I say is, “You’ll see.” She doesn’t like that but she does. She makes her fun little idle threats but I do not acquiesce.

We take a taxi from Gatwick to Southend-on-Sea where we board a luxury cruise liner and, from our balconied suite, we see the British Isles, including ports in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. We eat and resolve regrets and talk about everything under the sun and read books—I finally finish Les Miserables—and check our email only twice a day. And swim and talk and be together and forget for a time the enormous trials strewn behind us.

We read the scriptures together and talk about what they mean. We think of the children and talk about them and our hopes for them. We write in our journals and dream and meet new friends at the dinner table and they laugh when we tell them we are from Utah. We smile and give them all their very own copy of the Book of Mormon.

We come home two weeks later, and our trials are lighter because we have the best thing in life—each other.

Multitasking and Attention

This morning, I read an article from the Harvard Business Review, “How and (Why) to Stop Multitasking.” The article helped me to see something that I have suspected, that is, that my multitasking, or attempts at it, actually lead me to be less productive and more stressed.

I have always had trouble doing  more than one thing at a time. Now I know better why.

I was encouraged by something Peter Bregman, the author of the article, said. He committed himself to not multitask for an entire week. When he was on the phone, he was on the phone, not checking email, etc.

After that week, he noticed some big differences. For example, he said: “When I was with my children…I shut my cell phone off and found myself much more deeply engaged and present with them. I never realized how significantly a short moment of checking my email disengaged me from the people and things right there in front of me. Don’t laugh, but I actually — for the first time in a while — noticed the beauty of leaves blowing in the wind.”

The dissipation of attention seems to be a bane of modern life.

A cell phone or handheld device can be totally distracting when we are in a conversation or in a meeting. It sends a message that the person calling or texting is more important than person we are with. Not a good feeling. A computer laptop can suck the life out of relationships, ruin an evening together, or even a vacation. Such things make our attention a cheat.

Pure, focused attention is one of the greatest compliments we can pay to another person. When that attention is distracted and broken apart, it is disheartening to those around us, especially those we love. We instinctively sense whether we are important to others, at any given moment, by the quality of attention we are given by them.

Satan begins his work with distraction, I believe. Distraction is the first step to unraveling a relationship, the first step on a downward spiral. We can refocus and turn that around. 

If you want to pay a loved one a compliment, set other things aside and really pay attention with both ears and both eyes. Turn off your phone and computer, and turn on your heart. When our children and spouses know that we are honest and sincere in the attention we give, they tend to be less in need of attention, but, funny, we like to give it more.

Morning Muesli

All right, here is a break from the ordinary: a recipe! Yes, a recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts. It is easy to make. And it sticks with you through the morning.

It originally came from a book called The New American Diet which isn’t so new anymore. It is one of those recipes that I have made enough times that I have almost it memorized. Here it goes.

Morning Muesli

2 or 3 cups of uncooked oatmeal, depending on how many you need to feed
1 or 2 cups of milk, water, rice milk, etc. (your choice there)

Put these in a large mixing bowl, mix together, cover with plastic and let it soak overnight in the fridge.

The next morning, mix the the oatmeal with:

3/4 cup of plain yogurt
1 or 2 small to medium apples, cut into chunks
1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup of chopped nuts (I like soaked almonds)
1 tablespoon of  fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of wheat germ
Dash of cinnamon to taste
Sweeten with 1/4 cup of sugar or other sweetener such as brown sugar, agave or honey to taste

I love this stuff! I have a hard time stopping at one bowl. If you try it, let me know if you like it.

"The Lamb" by William Blake

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake was an English Romantic poet and painter who lived from 1757 until 1827. This poem was first published in Songs of Innocence in 1789.

Here is the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge singing John Tavener’s arrangement of “The Lamb.” (Thank you Paul S. for the link.)