Monday, November 24, 2008

Birthday Invitation

Dear Friends and Family,
Aging is going to be the death of me! The night before I turned 40 I cried. That was nearly 20 years ago!! Time has sped a lot faster than I ever thought it would or could. I've thought of moving to china where older people are highly respected, but I've been there and I really don't like their bathrooms very much. So in order to make the arrival of this personal new decade a little less traumatic, I am going to give myself a 60th birthday party. (Thank you, Leslie Patterson, for the idea!)

Date & Time: Tuesday February 17, 2009 from 11:30-1:00.
Place: Barretts' Home @ 633 E. Melody Dr., Gilbert, AZ 85234
Occasion: Elizabeth Willis Barrett's 60th Birthday!

I am sending this invitation 3 months ahead of time for a reason. Those of you who know me quite well, know that I love to set goals. But the only way I can actually reach them is if they are very specific and I am given a deadline and someone besides myself knows about them.

So here are two of my goals:

By February 17th of 2009--my 60th (gag!) birthday--
#1: I will have gone on a 20 mile bike ride all in the same day.
#2: I will be able to play 10 songs on my guitar which will include 10 well-maneuvered chords and 3 different strums.

You might wonder why I'm gettin you involved in this. I just thought you might want to join me. Not in riding my bike or playing my guitar I don't mean, but in accomplishing something you might have been putting off for a very long time. And then we'd have a party to celebrate as shown above. And even if you don't feel like working on some goal or other, I hope you will still come on that day to be with wonderful women--old and young, enjoy some fabulous food and take home a fun gift bag. And please, invite your friends. The more the merrier, as they say.

If you would kindly respond on my e-mail which is or on this blog which is, I will send you some reminders of the party and/or encourage you on your goals.

With love and gratitude to you for reading this whole invitation!

Story #1: Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a beautiful baby girl born to beautiful righteous parents. her name was Mollie and she happened to be a Mormon. She wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, for after all, anyone who has ever seen the miracle of a baby coming into this world would know that a spoon could only cause complications. But she was born with a tiny gold charm bracelet upon her tiny wrist from which twelve tiny gold letters dangled. The letters spelled out "A CHARMED LIFE".

Molly's childhood was fabulous and her teenage years left nothing to be desired. She was loved for her beauty and kindness, was the head cheerleader and went to every dance with the star of the football team, whoever that happened to be at the moment.

Later in life when many of her friends were seeing psychiatrists because something was amiss in their upbringing, Mollie didn't have one smidgen of a complaint about her younger years.

As she continued down her golden brick road, Molly was led to college where she graduated with honors in Rocket Science and eventually her road led her to the Temple. There she married the most perfect of returned missionaries. Through the years, not only did he make sure that their family had Family Home Evening every Monday and family scriptures and prayer every morning and night, but he always understood whatever it was she was trying to say and was as delightful to talk with as any of her old girlfriends. He looked at her while they talked instead of keeping one eye on the sports page and interjected words of encouragement and understanding. And he didn't try to fix everything with a dismissive solution. He would just listen attentively and with great thoughtfulness.

He was also very handsome and earned a living that kept Molly in the lap of luxury! They had a lovely huge home with all the latest furnishings and Molly never had to go to work. Which was a good thing, because all Molly had ever wanted to do was spend all day with their 10 beautiful children--five boys and five girls --each born two years apart on April 6th--which was a perfect day for babies to be born.

Every year Molly wrote Christmas letters that sounded like a resume for the job of "Nation's Most Perfect Family." And although no one wanted to read them because they left a bit of nausea in their wake, Molly cheerfully and promptly wrote them every year and they arrived at each recipient's house well before Christmas.

Molly's home was always spotless. When a visitor needed to use the bathroom, Molly didn't have to run in the bathroom first and frantically try to clean it up before the guest entered. Nor did she have to out and out lie by telling the very urgently uncomfortable visitor that unfortunately all the plumbing was broken at the moment and maybe the guest would like to use the neighbor's bathroom.

When a friend came over to visit unexpectedly, Molly didn't have to pretend to not be home. Or if the friend brought a child and the child ran into one of the bedrooms and the friend needed to retrieve her, Molly didn't have to gasp and say, "No, no, you can't go in that room!!!" and then retrieve the child herself.

Molly's world was a world of order and serenity. She was in excellent shape physically and spiritually because she got up every morning at 4:00 without fail so she could exercise and have her own personal scripture reading time. She also daily made a batch of bread because she was very insistent that her children get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that she could possibly give them.

Molly's children all got up at exactly 6:00 and came cheerfully for family scriptures and prayer, after making their beds and putting on the clothes they had laid out the night before. And following a delicious and healthy breakfast which did not include cold cereal, each child went eagerly off to school or work except for the little ones who played congenially for three hours so Molly could work on genealogy or the mauscript of her latest book.

Molly canned all their food from her prolific garden that she tended herself while singing church hymns in four part harmony. And with all of her hard work her family now had a great five years supply of food and necessities.

Even though she was her ward's Relief Society President, Molly still wanted to do her share of visiting teaching. and she did it on the first day of every month, taking a great handout and a plate of cookes every time. In her freezer were several casseroles ready to take to those who needed a good meal.

Speaking of good meals, Molly loved having the missionaries over for dinner each week and made sure she had an investigator over, too, so she wouldn't be wasting the missionaries' time.

In short (or long, depending on how tired you are), Molly's life was perfect. Her husband's life was perfect. Her children's lives were perfect. And Molly went to her reward at a perfect age with her health and mind still entirely intact.

A shrine has been built to honor Molly's perfection. And today many beautiful and accomplished women visit that shrine and beat their heads against it in frustration because they could never live up to Molly's perfect life, even though they tried and tried and even fasted and prayed about it. And many of those lovely women think that everyone else but themselves has reached Molly's perfection. This definitely adds to the depression and anxiety of the world.

Sadly, they do not know that Molly is just a "Once Upon a Time" story and in reality she never existed and never will. She is as much a myth as the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster or the mythical statement "you get what you pay for."

Molly is a myth but the reality is that there is a bit of perfection in each one of us. And when we come together and share with each other, well, that's quite a lot of perfection. Hopefully, we can recognize and appreciate the perfection within ourselves and congratulate the perfection in others. If we could do that, wouldn't it be just, well--perfect?