Wednesday, April 21, 2021

What you learn when you keep trying

By Louise R. Shaw
First published on March 14, 2013 in the Davis Clipper

One of these days it might be necessary to admit to myself that it is becoming ever more likely that I will never be entirely fluent in French.

Despite the workshops, the workbooks, the CDs, the story books, the tapes, the emails, the classes and the trips I've dabbled in here and there over the years, I might not ever make it to conversant.

In my defense, this is not because I'm totally inept, though I may have lost a few connections in the brain - synapses or something - that younger language students still have.

This is not because I haven't been motivated, though I'm equally motivated in about five other areas and spend equal dabbles of time on perhaps too large an array of projects.

This is simply because there are just too many French words and too many ways to string them together, some of which require too many ways of conjugating. And that's not even to mention that every noun is either male or female (car is feminine, taxi is masculine) and every adjective must be either masculine or feminine to match.

It may also be time to admit to myself that all those books in my basement that I printed thinking people would want to read them, may remain in my basement.

This is not because I haven't tried to find people to love them through bookstores and galleries and websites.

This is because ... I don't know why this is because. Or I don't want to admit I know why.

But not learning French and not selling books is not failing.

And that is because of all I've seen and done, all I've learned and felt, everyone I've met and every way I've grown in the process of trying.

I loved meeting the French people (all six of them), whose English was worse than my French so they listened long enough to try and figure out what I was saying.

I've loved opening my mind to a second language and developing a greater appreciation for another culture.

I'm glad I could learn more about my own language by studying another.

It's good to have a greater understanding of what others go through as they try to learn English (which not only has more words but has more exceptions to rules).

And just maybe I'm keeping a few more synapses in the brain functioning by continued studying and memorizing.

As for publishing a book, I loved when someone wrote to tell me the thoughts in my book had meaning to them or inspired them to do something or helped them recognize something meaningful they would otherwise have missed in their own lives.

And reading again the words penned in a different phase of life has kept the memories of that phase, and all its richness and all its challenges, alive.

Sometimes trying has its own reward.

Admitting that my dreams may be a bit out of reach, sometimes because of my own limits and sometimes because of things over which I have no control, will not make me quit trying.

I'm made of sterner, stubboner, more irrational stuff.

Not making it to the end of a journey doesn't make the sights you pass along the way any less worthwhile.

There is still a chance and only quitting would take that chance away.

No matter if it's likely or a stretch, I'm going for that chance.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

When it hits you

It's been three years!! It is time to share again. 

This column first appeared in the Davis Journal in January, 2021. I hope it gave the Davis County readers something to think about, and now I am sharing it with you. 

I have been publishing a column in Davis County's newspaper for more than 10 years. My messages cover everything from politics to people, gifts to gratitude. I hope to share a few more with you, some current, some past.

Please enjoy ...   

In This Together: When it hits you

Jan 21, 2021 11:09AM ● By Louise R. Shaw

Every once in a while, it hits you, how much things have changed.

It hits you when you see the photo of your granddaughter waiting in line for her kindergarten class to start, standing six feet away from the other students. Each with a mask on.

It hits when you have to push the “unmute” button before anyone will hear what you’re saying.

It hits you when you’re sitting at your computer watching a ballet, dancers having been taped performing on the street instead of in a theater, their faces covered by masks that match their costumes, accompanied by a chorus singing from little squares on your monitor.

It hits you when you need to decide what to do at home another night because the restaurants aren’t safe and your friends have been exposed to someone who’s been sick.

And then you kind of get a twinge inside. A twinge because your granddaughter isn’t hugging and smiling with her little friends. And because those dancers can’t smile at their audience or hear their applause. And because you don’t have a grandchild on your lap or a friend across the table.

There has been a lot of twinging going on lately.

But those twinges over those little sacrifices are nothing compared to the punch in the gut you get when you hear of a group that picketed the home of a government official who was trying to keep them healthy by establishing safety protocols.

Or when you hear of someone getting a sickness that could kill them because someone else refused to wear a mask.

Or when you see someone walking around the grocery store without a mask, knowing they wore it to get in and their defiance is nothing short of dishonest.

There is a lot that we’ve had to adjust to, and some of us have done better than others.

Kindergarteners don’t seem to mind at all. But too many grown-ups have shown us their “doesn’t play well with others” side.

More disheartening than the response to the battle to contain the coronavirus, is the battle to restore civility in our country.

When you see a woman harass a United States Senator in an airport, for example, you get a twinge.

That kind of behavior didn’t used to be acceptable, much less something one would be so proud of they’d broadcast it online.

And when you see angry protestors attack the U.S. Capitol after being whipped to a frenzy by the president of the United States, you get a punch in the gut. And the heart.

Things have changed. 

We’re the only ones who can change them back.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A wish for the newest generation

While two of my granddaughters stayed with us last week, we tried to keep busy every minute.

One of the activities was to listen to a song by Lee Ann Womack, "I hope you dance."

I have a children's book in my office with pictures that accompany the song -- the only children's book in that room -- so after the colored pencils and the magnets have been played with, the globe has been twirled and the easy chair has been jumped on and spun around, the book comes out. And when I can't exactly remember the melody, I find the old CD player and we hear it sung right.

The words were written by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers and so perfectly capture the feelings I have as I watch these little spirits take on the world.

Here are a few:

"I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes, I hope one door opens.
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance.
And when you get the choicer to sit it our or dance ..

"I hope you dance."

That has been my wish for all my children, and now my grandchildren. It is something I have always tried to do.

And it is a great blessing to see them embrace the world and its beauties and opportunities.

And stand beside the ocean.

And dance.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Bison Roundup - a taste of the Wild West

I wasn't sure I'd be the one to cover it this year, but was glad to be at the Antelope Island Bison Roundup one more time. It's always fun to see the training -- and warnings -- the riders get, to see them head out, to be at the Mulberry Grove when the bison pass, to watch the finely tuned ballet as 300 riders drive 700 bison to corrals for testing and immunizations. Like so many I spoke with said, it's a rare chance to see the action of the Wild West so close to home. I was glad for yet another chance.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It was worth it

We didn't know when we got up at 5 a.m. and drove for an hour and hiked with flashlights for half-a-mile more that we would run into 20 people already set up for the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands.

And we didn't know that it would be a space so small that only the early few would get the prime shots as the sun would light the underside of the arch and the canyons and rock formations in the valley below.

Or that people from Norway and Japan, India and Texas would be vying for the shots past rows of photographers who'd set up tripods already an hour before and that by sunrise there would be more than dozens, there would be hundreds.

But we had our muffins and orange juice and could last all the way until the others had gotten their shots.

And it was worth it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2017 Solar Eclipse

It was all about the sun that day, starting with first light over the mountains as we headed north from Utah to Idaho.

Despite what we'd feared after hearing months of build-up preceding the Great American Eclipse, traffic was clear along the back roads through Preston, Star Valley and Swan Valley.

Entrepreneurs were everywhere, but takers seemed light. 

Before the action started, we could look at sunspots visible through my brother-in-law's telescope.

The sun was too much -- even when partially covered by the moon -- for my lens to make sense of. Covering it with my eclipse glasses didn't help, but looking at shadows did.

I heard in some places it was really quiet during totality. We couldn't help exclaim -- and loudly -- at the beautiful aura that was visible when the moon fully blocked the sun. Different exposures show different things -- what was closest to what our eyes saw is the third one.

It was the drive home when we learned that, yes, people really did turn out for the celestial show. What should have been a four-hour drive took nine.

But it was worth it. To see something we hadn't seen in 60 years of living.
And again the sun made an impression at the end of the day.