I have fifteen sisters. When you and your husband both come from families with nine kids that makes for a lot of sisters when you include all the in-laws. And of course I include the in-laws, because man alive, I got some serious great ones. I’m lucky to live by a bunch of Dave’s sisters and in-laws here in the desert. We get to see quite a bit of each other and man oh man do I ever learn from each of them and I’m so grateful for them and their examples. And I’m also very lucky that my mom has saved up money from the sale of her Dad’s farm that helps us get together with my side of the family sisters. When we get together we call it “MFME” which stands for “Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm.” Which, when you think about it, is kind of a funny name, but boy am I grateful for this little “club” I belong to and all that I learn from these amazing ladies I get to be related to. Lots more about MFME if you click here (it links up all the posts I’ve labeled with MFME). Back in February we met up for a weekend in California. I looked forward to it with all my heart…because I love to discuss the world with these wise women. …and because I got to meet my new little niece Zara.As you can see, she was equally excited to meet me…ha. Oh boy I sure love that girl though. She got welcomed to the world quite miraculously. Their story is here. We started right out discussing the world as a whole as well as all the minutia of life and mothering and pretty much didn’t stop the whole time we were together. Before we gathered we all group-emailed each other interesting articles we wanted to discuss while we were together. I could do a blog post on each one of them because they spurred so many thoughts. Here is an incomplete list of some of the articles: http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/12/19/drops-of-awesome/ http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/happiness-your-heritage?lang=eng http://www.cjanekendrick.com/2013/02/the-world-away-from-porn.html http://www.fairlds.org/fair-conferences/2012-fair-conference/2012-to-do-the-business-of-the-church-a-cooperative-paradigm http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/teaching-our-children-to-understand?lang=eng http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html?_r=2& We also had our own little “book club” with the book we read before we got there: Mine had extra significance to me because it was my mothers before it somehow came into my possession (I must have “borrowed” it at some point). I loved reading through that thing and seeing her notes and what she underlined as she obviously read it over and over again. It made those soft, velvety words wash over me that much more powerfully. And I loved that it was already threadbare from her use when she was in the throes of mothering me. (Nothing is attached to the spine anymore.) I added all my ripped-page-turn things I do when I’m inspired, so in the end the poor thing looks like this: I hope my own girls will be able to borrow that very copy some day when they are mothers themselves. I hope the parts of it like this will speak to them as they spoke to me: “Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle it’s demands in distractions. Instead of stilling the center, the axis of the wheel, we add more centrifugal activities to our lives—which tend to throw us off balance.” And this: “For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant—and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences of either side. A candle flowers in the space of night.” Isn’t that so beautifully said? It has inspired me so much to try to simplify more than ever. To take some time to meditate and think during the day. We visited an art museum (we always try to work that in). These were some of my favorites: We all took turns getting to hold little gem Zara. …and not surprisingly, my Dad could NOT miss out so he surprised us at breakfast one morning. Here he is face-timing my brother with his initial meeting of baby Zara. He joined in for one of our beach discussions before he had to take off. …then whoops, he missed his flight so he joined us again for dinner. Oh man I love my Dad. And I love these ladies enough to cram into that tiny booth with all ten of us. That last day we went to church together… …and headed back to our own little pockets of the world, armed and buoyed up by each other and ready to take on motherhood and life in a whole new way. I even got extra leg-room on the flight home which I enjoyed as I mulled over all those new-fangled ideas I was going to incorporate into our family and into my own soul. Of course, when you get home from something like that, life hits you smack-dab in the face and suddenly you are running like the wind to try to catch up. But one of the best epiphanies we all had while we were there was that we need to take more time out to contemplate and pray and meditate. Even for just a few minutes each day. Because as much as I want to be like the axle on that wheel Anne Morrow Lindbergh talks about in “Gift from the Sea,” or the “eye of the storm” my mom talks about, it can’t happen without some planning. So that’s my goal for this week. Wake up a little earlier (even if it’s just five minutes) and write down my priorities: one for my family, one for my spirit, and one for my “work” which is really family and home. Wish me luck, cause I’ve had this for my goal for the last three weeks and I’m only three weeks behind…maybe posting it for accountability will do the trick.