Who knew…

moose-in-town Do you ever feel like this moose? Perfectly normal, but not in your normal element?

About a week ago, I was introduced to a web site (don’t even remember where it was referenced from) that discussed the Highly Sensitive Person (or HSP). I honestly was not even aware of this trait before, and have done some research over the last several days to understand it better since I recognized myself in these discussions. I have learned that this is a normal inherent physiologic trait that exists in 15-20% of people world wide (and has been measured in over 100 species besides humans). Those with this trait are more attuned to themselves and things going on around them, including other people. Because of this high sensitivity, they can be easily overstimulated more than most people and therefore need “down time” more frequently in order to allow processing of the data collected from this overstimulation.

It may seem that this is a “bad” pathological problem, but actually, it has been found that this trait is neutral – it has as many equal benefits as disadvantages. Since it is physiological, it is not a “choice” to be sensitive – but it is a trait that exists from birth.

In short, the nervous system is wired differently due to genetics in this 20%, so that our brains react differently to stimuli than the other 80%. This is neither good nor bad – just different.  Here’s a few of the characteristics of HSP’s

  • Often very sensitive to pain.
  • Respond to lower doses of medication.
  • Don’t perform well in competitive situations
  • Tend to want to retreat to a quiet space or be alone when there is too much noise and activity around them.
  • Tend to be uncommonly cautious when facing new situations.
  • Often highly conscientious and tend towards perfectionism.
  • Difficulty making seemingly (to other people) simple decisions.
  • Are more aware than others of subtleties: visual, auditory and smell for example.
  • Find it difficult to deal with unplanned changes.

Here is a quick (27 question) test that you can use to see if you have this trait. And here are a couple of links to articles that go into more detail:

And many more that are referenced from the above. There are also a number of books referenced, but I can’t promote them yet, since I haven’t had a chance to read them! Since this trait can be genetic, I wonder how many of my family have this same trait. Please take a look and lets discuss when we get a chance. Don

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First Impressions


As we first approched the raptor above in our car, and from a long distance away, the bird on the branch looked like it might be a Bald Eagle. I’m always excited to get a good picture of a Bald Eagle in the wild, so we approached as close as we dared, shut off the car and got out the camera and binoculars. He was sitting quitely on his branch, looking out across the sea of snow – I suppose he was looking for his next meal. As we zoomed in with the long lens and binoculars, it became obvious that he was not an Eagle. As we watched and took a few pictures – he flexed his wings and took off giving us a chance to see his beautiful wing patterns.

After we got home, we did a little study, and I now believe he is a Rough-Legged Hawk. A big beautiful bird.

There are lots of things in life that are like this “not eagle”. What we first observe is not usually reality. Too often, we make a judgement based on little information – like the Hawk – we are sometimes just “too far away” to make a fair and honest assessment.

How many times have you met someone, made a first impression and then found out over time that that first impression was not accurate. We also do this to ourselves when we look at others and compare them with what we think we should be. Our view is likely to be skewed by our own self view which may or may not be accurate. If we are overly critical of ourselves, we may think we will never measure up to what the world expects. Or contrarily, we may have the distorted view that we are the perfect model for others and then we get puffed up and conceited.

In reality, neither of these assessments are likely accurate, and the only comparison we can truely make is to compare ourselves to that perfect example, even Jesus Christ, and use that as a guide to help us improve our life. Of course, as we look to his example, we still need to be honest in our evaluation of ourselves, or we will not make the progress we desire. But knowing that Christ’s Atonement makes up for all of our shortcomings (as we repent and work to improve) gives us the freedom to be honest with ourselves so that we can make the progress toward perfection that we need. Our perfection will not be instantaneous – this is a lifelong effort to improve day by day.

That the bird we saw was not a Bald Eagle does not dimimish its beauty. He is a beautiful specimen of his species. Just because my initial evaluation was wrong does not change that beauty. Likewise, we each are beautiful and working to become perfect. That we are not all at the same place at the same time is one of the marvels of this wonderful world God created for us.

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Yellowstones Stormy Lake 001

2012 was a stormy year. At times it seemed as if we were in the worst of times. We questioned whether things could possibly get worse – or more importantly, how do we make them better. Lots of questions and seemingly few answers.

Then, last week during Sunday School and Priesthood Meetings an interesting set of lessons were given. In Sunday School, we talked about the world that Moroni was left with at the end of the the Nephite civilization. This was a people that had been blessed of the Lord beyond imagination, but who fell and were destroyed due to wickedness. They relied on their own strength rather than on the strength of the Lord. Moroni’s really was a horrible time. He watched all of his people get hunted down and killed by the Lamanities. Only he was left to record the end of the Nephite nation. Those truly were terrible days.

In Priesthood, we talked about today’s world. There is much wickedness in our time, and it seems that Satan has control over much of what happens today. At times it seems that these are the worst of times. To counter these bad influences, we certainly we need to be teaching ourselves, our children and grandchildren to live the commandments of God. And we need to follow the teaching with actual improved action.

But, for me, the learning was that as bad as these times are, they are not as bad as Nephi faced. There are many righteous people living in this world and in this land. These days are good in many ways. We need to take advantage of the good that exists to continue to push for righteousness in the world.

So, my New Year’s resolution is to look positively at the good that exists around me, and encourage more good by being the best example I can be, and by teaching and encouraging others to live according to God’s law.

May you have a wonderful 2013.


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Who has freedom of speech?

Arlington Cemetary

In honor to those that have given their all….

I have been particular disturbed (as have many others) by the arrest of another ex-soldier for opinions he expressed in an on-line forum (in his case it was a closed forum!). The actions of our government to suppress the free expression of opinion and ideas is frightening.

I certainly expect those currently in the military, and those who have served to not divulge classified information about operations, tactics or strategy that they are knowledgable about. And critical statements about on-going operations while in the military does not support the command structure that is critical for a successful armed forces.

However, when those same military personnel are no longer serving, they are free by our constitution to express their thoughts just as any other private citizen. They must not be prevented from being able to express their views. We are proud of, and grateful for the service of these great men and women, who dedicate a portion (or all) of their lives to help maintain freedom in this country and others. Their perspective is an important component to the dialogue that helps to keep this country great.

Fortunately, the technology today is fantastic – we can express our views and have it seen by people around the world immediately. Gone are the days when it was nearly impossible to share your thoughts with many people in a timely fashion – a past time when we were often captive to the few organizations that controlled the dissemination of information. With this technological capability however, also comes the risk that there will be those watching the “airwaves” for nefarious reasons. We must protect each other against these forces.

For if our government is watching ex-military now, they are or will shortly be watching each and every one of us. Are we really that far away from our neighbors reporting us to the authorities because they don’t like something we’re doing? Sounds like several failed communist and facist countries to me.

Lets stand together to insure our airwaves, the internet and our expression of opinion – whether we agree or not – stays open and uncensored. We must resist all efforts to suppress the opinions of others – and yes – especially of our ex-military personnel. Only in this environment can we truly be free. [We do have to act responsibly with our freedom – but that’s for another post.]

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Freedom, Politics and Personal Choice

The month of July is traditionally the month we remember and celebrate this great country we live in. This is natural given the 4th is the day we celebrate the birth of this great nation.  We haven’t always made it to fireworks, but enjoyed going to the Freedom Celebration in Idaho Falls this year. We watched from very close, so were able to get a few pictures (see above).

This is a good time to think about some of the principles that when combined have made this country great. The key principles contained in our Bill of Rights framed those things most precious to our Founding Fathers, and which continue to be fundamental to the greatness of this country.

First is the freedom of religion. Many of those first brought to the shores of this country came because they were not free to worship as they saw fit in their home land. Whether it was the government, other religions, or “inconsiderate neighbors” they were prohibited from worshipping according to the dictates of their own conscious. They came to this country to be free of the oppression caused by those who would force them to believe in a predetermined way.

Although this principle (freedom of religion) is fundamental to our nation’s strength and protected by court and law, we, as a people are sometimes less adherent to this principle than we ought to be. Consider the oppression of certain religious groups that have occurred in our history, in particular, the Mormons and the Jews. Even today, a common question is asked whether or not we can accept a particular candidate or statement because he or she belongs to a particular faith. Excuse me! The question is not whether or not they profess a particular religious point of view, but in our political arena, whether or not they can be trusted to uphold the principles upon which this country was founded. In essence, we should be looking at what they do and who they are, not which kind of church building they go to on Sunday. We can say that by their fruits ye shall know them! We should be watching and be observant of what and how these candidates go about their business. What have they accomplished, but even more, how did they accomplish it – apparent “good results” obtained by lying and cheating is not in fact “good results!”

Second, the freedom of speech. This is so critical in a free society and so at risk in today’s America. The right to give open expression to ones thoughts and views is absolutely critical to insure that freedom continues. Throughout mankind’s history, one of the first things suppressed when governments rob freedom is the right to free and open expression of opinion. Efforts to suppress the printed word (including electronic), open verbal expression (often reported in the press), and even suppression of private conversation must absolutely be resisted.  Unfortunately, we have seen that all of these rights to expression are under critical attack in recent years. I’m sure we could each relate an example or two. How is it even possible that someone could express the view that a particular newspaper or news program should be shut down because of their expressed views or opinions? I (or you) might not agree with the point of view or argument, but I will defend to the death your right to express your view. Likewise, I expect you will fully defend my right to express my view. In the end, we may agree to disagree, but we can do that without creating conflict, but by creating useful dialogue.

When we consider our founding fathers, we realize that they did not all have the same opinion on various principles. However, what they did was to reach acceptable compromises that preserved the fundamental rights and freedoms that are of paramount importance. This does not mean they necessarily agreed with the chosen path, but they realized the necessary path for forward progress. Points of disagreement should continue in lively debate, but not in hated speech.

This seems to be lost on this generation, where the expression of a point view (even when shared by the majority) gets comments to the effect that only a person full of hate and prejudice could hold that view. Taken out of context, this seems impossible, but let’s consider the question of the definition of marriage as only being between a man and a woman. In multiple elections in multiple states, and through innumerable poles, Americans are very strongly in favor of this definition of marriage. However, there are increasing numbers of voices that claim that my declaration and belief in God’s law of marriage as between a man and a woman is full of hate and prejudice. This isn’t about hate, it’s about what I believe to be right and wrong. As, Jesus loved the sinner, I hold no malice toward those that don’t believe as I do. But, and this is critical to me, do not hold me bound to believe as you do – I claim the right to my beliefs and opinions, and these cross both the freedom of religion and of speech. However, just because I believe in a certain way, does not mean I hate those that believe differently – because I do not. The hatred seems to come towards me from those that do not agree with my beliefs.

Now, to the question of Chick-Fil-A. A reporter, asks a good christian man, who is doing his best to live a good life, who runs his business according to his core beliefs – he asks him about gay marriage. What answer did he expect? He got the answer he expected.  Why did he ask it. He was trying to make a name for himself by calling out some hidden hatred.  NEWS FLASH!  There’s no hatred there that you didn’t bring. The Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy loves all of God’s children and treats all equals whether customers or employees. You can tell that by the way he lives what he believes, by the way he runs his business – by your fruits ye shall know them!

Likewise, we can see the fruits of the reporter – someone who hates anyone that does not agree with his views. Even politicians got into the mix proposing to interfere with business to keep this good man’s business out of their cities. They did get reminded that their private hatred will not be supported in this free country, and actions such as they proposed were unconstitutional.

In the end, these issues where businesses are concerned are generally handled by the market. If you choose, you can always limit your support of business to those that agree with your point of view.

That is your choice – however, a more fundamental choice is to support those that are willing to stand for what they believe in. For this reason, if you have a Chick-Fil-A in your community, I respectively ask that if you love freedom in this country – that you go and have lunch or dinner there on August 1st.  Show that we will not be intimidated by the minority with the microphone.

Thanks for reading.

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First Times

Cinnamon Black Bear 002

There are a number of things in life that we only get to do once. For example, we can only have one first love. We can only go through the Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the first time – once. We only get one first kiss.

This is as it should be! There are other things that we hope we get to do at least once, so we can “mark it off” our life goals list. Though we may choose to do some of these things more than once. Some examples on my “do to list” include taking a Photo Safari in Africa, visiting Denali National Park in Alaska and taking a photo tour of covered bridges in New England in the Fall.

There are in addition, some things in life that you hope only occur once or never. We had one of these experience this last weekend while visiting The Grand Tetons National Park (a beautiful park by the way). Marietta and I were happily hiking along trying to capture some photos of wildlife – mostly, there were just lots of people. In particular, I was anxious to get a shot of a wild Moose – and since there were some ponds named “Moose Ponds” in the general vicinity of where we were hiking, we decided to hike there and see if moose actually liked to be in that area.

Not long after leaving the main South Jenny Lake Trail, and on the trail to the ponds, as I rounded a bend, Marietta (who was behind me) exclaimed that there was a bear just ahead!! Sure enough, just at that moment, I reached the bend and there he was! A quite large and beautiful, cinnamon colored Black Bear. I believe he was as startled to see me, as I was him.

I quickly stepped backwards (didn’t turn and run), to give him some room, then pulled my camera up to get a few shots. We then backed up to give him a wide space. He headed in the direction of the main trail, so we paralleled him so we could warn the other hikers. As he reached the main trail, I got the picture of him above. We watched and photographed him as he crossed the trail and proceeded along the hill above the trail. What a beautiful and gorgeous creature he is!

He did take time away from digging at roots to keep his eyes on me – just as we kept our eyes on him.

I’m reluctant to admit that we did not have bear spray with us that day – it won’t be that way next time! I look forward to seeing other bears and wild animals in the wilds in the future – and hope to get that moose picture some day!

Nevertheless, I hope this “first time” is the last time I surprise a bear on a trail.

See more pictures on my SmugMug site (click on the picture of the bear above).


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Finding our way in the fog

Hobbs in Fog

This past week it has been very foggy in the mornings here in Hobbs New Mexico. In fact, Thursday was so foggy that you could barely see the road in front of the car.

There is a section of the highway leaving south out of town that has just been resurfaced – in fact, there just finishing it now. The lines are not yet on the road – and just the marker flags have been placed where the lane lines will go. These provide some guidance, but are not as good as nice bright lines can be. This section of road is a 4 lane divided highway (2 lanes each way) so it provides more security than a two lane road would give.

Still, before daybreak, with the thick fog, there was quite a long stretch (about 10 miles) for which you could not simultaneously see both edges of the road. In fact, there was a time when all I could see was a black road surface and sometimes one of the lane flags – never more than one at a time. The flags were only visible when you came to within 1/2 the distance between them. So after passing a flag, several seconds would pass before the next would come into view. So – at times, no flags visible, and no side of the road to measure by… And there was little traffic to assist in the journey.

I traveled slowly and carefully, keeping the flags to my left as I passed. But keeping the flags to the left works only as I traveled straight down the road – but with no other markers to guide me, and with the occasional missing flag – I often found myself not to the right of the flags, but to the left. A quick course correction righted the situation, but then I might find myself near the right edge of the road.

At less than 20 miles per hour for over 10 miles, this continued for quite some time! However, using the markers that were available, I arrived safely at my journey. Not everyone that traveled on Thursday arrived without incident. And several passed me at a speed more than twice mine!

In our journey through life, we need to be using the markers that have been given us to insure we stay on the road. In this day and age, the road is dark and the way is foggy. The scriptures and the words of the prophets are available to us to help us stay on the straight and narrow road. By the writings of the Book of Mormon, the flags in the road are like the iron rod – straight and true (actually better, since we never have to let go!). If we use the Iron Rod to guide our life, we will safely arrive at the end of our Eternal Journey.

May we all meet safely there.

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