Goal Setting, Heres to Living my Life!, Motherhood, My Mission

A Conversation with My Future Self

I really love podcasts, don’t you? There is one that I have been listening to for a while that I really enjoy. It is called “Better Than Happy” by a woman named Jody Moore. She is a certified life coach and mom of four children.  We are about the same age and share similar interests and beliefs. I think we could be friends.

I was listening to Episode 131 of her podcast this week entitled “Your Future Self.” If you are interested then you can listen here.  It is really an interesting concept that you ask your future self questions and you can get a lot of insight. She likes to ask her 92-year-old self questions because she thinks 93 is a good age to die. I laughed when I heard this, but there is a lot of wisdom in it.

A few year ago, I had the opportunity to interview my great-aunt Norma Gutke Ellis with my sister Deniane Kartchner. Aunt Norma was the only one of her generation left. She was the youngest sister of my grandfather whom I don’t remember because he died when I was under a year old.  I loved visiting with her. She was in her nineties and so spunky so fully of life an love. It was a sad day when we lost her. She was simply amazing.  I loved hearing her laugh and the bantering between her and her husband of over sixty years. She was full of wisdom and love. She struggled with her health, but she always had a smile on her face.

I think I would like to learn wisdom from my future self. I will go to the age 90 because that seems like a nice even number. My grandmothers both lived into their eighties and so there is a good chance that I could live to ninety.

The year will be 2069 when I turn ninety. Now that is a crazy thought! When I picture my ninety year old self, I see a combination of my Grandma Gladys (left center) and my Grandma Fern (right center with me as a baby). I will also look similar to my mother on the far right and my sister. I love these women and I will be proud to look like them. I will have white/gray hair. I will be wrinkly in the face, but I will still have the same green eyes that I have at forty. I will have sunspots on my arms and legs, but I hope I will be strong able to walk, to garden, and to take loving care of my children, grand children and great-grandchildren. I will probably have a double chin and shakes when I laugh, but who cares? I will be beautiful like these women are beautiful.

One of the ways to “talk” to your future self that Jody Moore suggests is doing the “Start, Stop, and Continue” activity. She suggest asking your future self:

What should I start doing?

What should I stop doing

What should I continue doing?

So I picture myself at ninety and I picture my wonderful grandmothers and here I go.

Dear Ninety Year Old Karen,

What should I start doing?

Dear Forty Year old Karen,

How lovely it is to talk to you! I am so glad that you are taking the time to picture your life ahead fifty years from now. The world has changed but there are so many things in this world that matter that have not changed. The sun still comes up every day in the east. There are still wonderful seasons to enjoy. The rain still falls and drips its heavenly sound on the roof and ground. The daffodils still poke their heads up every spring and adorn their beautiful bright yellow petals. The lilacs still bloom and send their sweet fragrance forth. They are still my favorite.  Technologies have come and gone, but there are three things that are always consistent my dear; 1) Jesus Christ, 2) the importance of family, 3) and loving and serving others. 

So you ask me what should you start doing as a forty-year old? I think it will be best if we break them down into four categories: physically, spiritually, and mentally/emotionally and occupationally.

Physically: start eating more fruits and vegetables and doing more strength building exercises like yoga and lifting weights. Your grandmother Gladys had diabetes and was no longer able to move from her chair in her eighties. Please take care of yourself. Eat well and take good care of your body. 

Spiritually: pray. Please pray every day. I know it is hard for your right now but if you pray every day and build that relationship with your Heavenly Father then you will have the strength that you need when every hard situation comes along and there will be many. You are setting the spiritual example for your children, but also for your grand children and great-grandchildren. They will be here some day. As I look at my wall I see photos of all their smiling faces and I love each of them as Grandma Fern loved each of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Think of the legacy that Grandma Fern left and her consistent testimony despite her many troubles and weaknesses, strive to be like her. Think of your mother and her relationship with the Lord. Be strong and be believing. Think of how Mormon and Moroni were strong despite the fact that they were alone in their faith. You can do it. I know you can because I am you. 

Mentally/emotionally.  Please have confidence in who you are. Please know how much your are loved and needed on this earth.  Please know you are a daughter of God and you are worthy of love always. Please be confident in the abilities and talents that Heavenly Father gave you and allow yourself to shine. 

Occupationally: Start writing! Write every day. You are a good writer. Write your personal history and write your stories in  your head.

Dear Ninety Year Old Karen,

What should I stop doing?

Dear Forty Year Old Karen, 

I will answer in the same categories. 

Mentally/emotionally: Stop listening to the critical voices (especially those inside your head) that drag you down and keep you from reaching your potential. You are a dreamer! Dream, float, fly and create. It is what you are supposed to do. As I sit here in my little apartment, there are at least ten books that have your name as the author. What you have to say is important. Your words are important. Your children and grandchildren need your voice and to read the stories of your ancestors in an enjoyable way that only you can write. Please do it. 

Physically: Stop comparing yourself to others. You are going to get old and your beauty is going to fade on the outside. It really is the inside that counts. Your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will think you are beautiful because you are who you are. I have a double chin, but no one cares. They love me for me! They love spending time with me because I have invested myself in their lives and shared so much love and friendship.  You can take care of yourself and you know how to do that. Please be your own kind of beautiful. 

Spiritually: Stop trying to save yourself. You will never be able to make it back to Heavenly Father on your merits alone. Allow Jesus Christ to be your partner in the yoke of this life. Allow him to take away your sins, your cares, your burdens, your struggles. Let him into your life. Develop your relationship with him. Give your heart and will over to him and let him run your life. It will take you places you will never imagine but it will be a fantastic ride! Hold on and enjoy the ride! 

Dear Ninety Year Old Karen,

What should I continue doing?

Dear Forty Year Old Karen,

Continue to do activities like this. I am always here and available to you. Remember when times get hard and you want to give up that I have made it this far. I made it through. I am ninety years old and I have lived a satisfying and happy and amazing life.  You will get through your hard times and there will always be sunshine ahead. REmember that today is a good day to have a good day. You are the one who chooses each day to be happy, to be confident and to be healthy. You can do it. I know because I am you and I have had a happy life. You can do it! You will! Keep going! 

I love you always– not matter what

Ninety-year Old Karen




Regency Romance

Drawing a Deep Breath, “I’m Back”

It’s been awhile. I feel like I have been on a long journey, but I am drawing a deep breath like Sam Gamgee and starting over.

But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.
He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said”

Lord of the Rings: Return of King– JRR Tolkien

I finished my first book two years ago and I submitted it to be published. It was rejected by each publisher, but one was kind enough to give me feedback. They said they liked the setting and plot, but my characters were lacking and the plot dragged. It was good feedback and I thought I would pick it back up and try again. However, each time I tried, I told myself I was a terrible writer and why was I even trying.  I lost my enthusiasm for that particular project and eventually I snuffed out my own desire to write. I lived in a cold, dark abyss for many months, so I decided to stop writing for a while.

Last fall, I decided to get back to the reason I wanted to write a book in the first place. It was because I love to read! I have always enjoyed escaping this world for a little while to a new one and to see what the characters will do.  I devoured Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings back in the early 90s. I even wrote a twenty five page fan fiction about Legolas’ love life before I ever saw Orlando Bloom portray him on the screen.

I decided I should read a book that I would want to write. So for the last six months, I have read fifty romance novels. I realized I love Regency Romance. You would think I already knew that by the number of times I have watched the 2008 BBC version of “Sense and Sensibility” but sometimes it takes awhile for me to catch on. With each book I picke dup, I analyzed it by character and by plot, why it worked for me and or why it didn’t.  I enjoy Sarah Eden’s characters and setting. I love Julianne Donaldson’s setting and the witty dialogue of her characters. I laughed out loud at a scene in Edenbrooke that still makes me chuckle when I think of it.

I have also enjoyed Nancy Campbell Allen’s  steampunk fairy tales twists from “Beauty and the Clockwork Beast” to her recent book “Kiss of the Spindle.” I love her steampunk world and the way she twists the traditional fairy tails in a new light. I love that she has strong heroine’s that challenge their counterparts.

I am super excited to announce that my spark was lit and now my fire is going well. I am  going to write a Regency Romance of my own! It is about a kind hearted, but passive Harriet Crutchfield who lives in the shadow of her charismatic and heir to the family fortune, Andrew.  She is in love with her brother’s best friend, the talented and smart Theodore Montgomery. Unforunately,  as Theo is an only child he thinks sees Harriet as a little sister. It isn’t until the boys are in a lot of trouble and Harriet orchestrates an elaborate plan to save them that Theo realizes the woman has been looking he has known all along.


Along the Oregon Trail: Three Island Crossing

Growing up the Oregon Trail to me was a video game. I always tried to be a farmer who could make it to Oregon with $400 dollars and a big dream.  I played online today with my seven year old. You can find the link here.

At one point in the game,  my character got lost for two days. “It is was probably because you spent too long talking to people, Mom,” my kid said.

Eye roll.

A few minutes after I finally decided to return, we ran out of food, and my character died.


No problem. I could restart my game. However, it made me think about the brave men and women who traveled the Oregon, California, Mormon and other trails over a hundred and fifty years ago. They sold their homes, packed supplies into a wagon, and set off for a part of the world they had never seen. They only had hope that their lives would be better once they reached their destination. On our recent family trip, we visited one of the sites along the Oregon Trail, the Three Crossings of the Snake River.

Three Crossings is located near present day Glenn, Idaho. When the settlers arrived here they had to decide whether to continue down the south side of the Snake River where there wasn’t as much water or to risk crossing the river. They could die of thirst or die drowning in the river. It wasn’t an easy decision.

IMG_6090The strength and fortitude of these emigrants is amazing. I am out in the hot sun for ten minutes and I want to run inside to my house where it is cool. I get a few mosquito bites and I am annoyed, but I don’t have to worry about getting infectious diseases.  I am so blessed to live in this time and to have so many comforts.

Many of my ancestors traveled the Mormon Trail. My fifth great grandmother Lydia Goldthwaite and Newell Knight left their home in Nauvoo, Illinois. The home was only a few years old and had a tidy lawn and new corrals.  They left in the cold of February because mobs from the surrounding cities threatened to come into the city and destroy their homes and harm the women and children. Mobs had destroyed their home in Missouri only eight years before.

Newel and Lydia Knight traveled with their seven children across the muddy plains of Iowa and eventually settled in a place called Ponca near the Missouri River.  They made crude dugouts and lived there throughout the harsh Nebraska winter. Newel became sick from the exposure to the cold.

From Lydia’s journal,”On Monday morning, Jan. 4, 1847, Bro. Knight, whose health had been failing for some time, did not arise as usual, and on going to him he said, “Lydia, I believe I shall go to rest this winter.”

Lydia watched as her husband declined for ten days.

“I felt at last as if I could not endure his sufferings any longer and that I ought not to hold him here,” she wrote. “I knelt by his bedside, and with my hand upon his pale forehead asked my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins, and that the sufferings of my companion might cease, and if he was appointed unto death, and could not remain with us that he might be quickly eased from pain and fall asleep in peace. Almost immediately all pain left him and in a short time he sweetly fell asleep in death, without a struggle or a groan, at half past six on the morning of the 11th of January, 1847.”

Lydia and family look on at Newel’s grave.

I can’t imagine losing my husband and then having to cross the plains with seven young children. Lydia did it. She did not give up. Her motto was, “God Rules.” She wrote in her journal, “I still trust in God knowing He will do all things for the best.

My faith is not as strong as hers. If my husband were to pass away suddenly and I was left to raise my boys by myself, I don’t know if I would be as strong as her. I know I would struggle and it would be hard for me to say, “Heavenly Father, I Trust in Thee.”

I would like to have Lydia’s kind of faith. In the next few levels of my real life, I want to remember her and her faith and I want to become stronger. I can choose today to restart my life and strive become better each day.




Family Travel, Life with Boys, Uncategorized

Lazing at the River Ranch Retreat in King Hill, Idaho

We arrived at the River Ranch on a warm summer evening. The ranch was only a few minutes off I-84 and was easy to find.  I loved the tall timbers outlining the property entrance as we drove up.  A bit of nostalgia hit me as we drove lane lined with tall pine trees. It reminded me of visiting my uncle’s house as a kid.

We parked the car on the country estate. On the property, there is a main house to the right as your enter. We passed the guest house and a small cabin with a wrap around porch. There were also many outbuildings on the property. We met up with our family who parked who were camped in the RV site. They were lounging on the banks of the Snake River so we headed across the park like yard shaded by tall oaks.

One of the large tress had tree swing that we immediately loved. IMG_6046

We put our things into the guest house. It had two bedrooms, a bath, a living room/dining room and kitchen. There was also a sun room east. The kitchen was very fun. I loved the bright red and yellow hutch that held the old fashioned dishes and we enjoyed playing cards at the round table.




They had almost every copy of Natural Geographic ever written. They had a large selection of other books and lots of music. There wasn’t a movie collection, but the kids didn’t need it because there was so much to do outside.


Jason especially liked the leather settee in the living room.

We lounged for two days at the River Ranch.  The boys fished, waded on the Snake River, and found a killdeer and her nest. I loved reading my book on the porch swing at the cabin and even took a nap on a blanket under all the glorious shade from the many trees on the property. We had a fire, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. It was great place to “camp.”



Family Travel, Life with Boys

Exploring Twin Falls, Idaho

We arrived in Twin Falls around 3:00 in the afternoon.  It was a breezy, summer day and very clear. We visited the Perrine Bridge first and the view was totally worth it. I have to admit I missed the turn off the first time and had to turn around. It was a headache, but worth it once we finally got there.

The bridge spans the Snake River and you can see waterfalls flowing from the top of the canyon to the southeast and to the southwest.

Perrine Bridge is the eighth highest bridge in the United States.

We arrived a few minutes after a group of base jumpers launched off the middle of the bridge. Hopefully you will have more luck than us.

From the view point, we could see the twin waterfalls to the southwest and Shoshone falls to the southeast.  It was an exciting place!

Next, we drove to Shoshone Falls. It is about twenty minutes through town and costs $3 per car for admittance to the park, but it very worth it.

Shoshone Falls is 212 feet (65 m) high and flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) wide.


View of the Snake River downstream from the falls.

and of course, the boys had to reenact their version of “Titanic’s” famous scene.

After the falls, we enjoyed the park. Families were picnicking and enjoying the cool summer afternoon and evening. We also were surprised to see a marmot in the trees near the falls.




Family, Family Travel, History, Life with Boys

Ghost Town Exploring in Strevell, Idaho

We visited the ghost town of the Strevell, Idaho. It is located around thirty minutes outside of Snowville, Utah along Idaho’s 305 Highway.  Established in the early 1900’s, Strevell served as port of entry town for over seventy years. It had several gas stations, a hotel, and many restaurants. You can read more about the town here.


Old Hotel in Strevell, Idaho. It was moved many years ago to Malta, a town several miles away and is now a private residence.

Clyde Kempton's service station Strevell

We had to be careful as we explored the ruins of an old service station. Jason should consider a career in archaeology with the quick way he discovered old relics.

Jason finds an old relic from Strevell. I wonder what it was used for?



Ruins of an old service station in Strevell, Idaho


Family, Family Travel, Life with Boys

Our Summer Trip, Day One:

We left our home at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. We drove north through Ogden, Brigham City, and Tremonton. Just outside of Tremonton we took I-84 toward Boise, Idaho. We drove for an hour and then had a break in Snowville, Utah. It is a very small town. We stopped at the small post office so I could mail a card to my father.  Then we followed Grandpa on one of his “Grandpa” trails.  We left I-84 for a back highway and headed northwest to Malta, Idaho.

Aaron (our junior ornithologist) had his binoculars out checking all the power lines for birds of prey. We had driven only a few minutes when he spied a golden eagle. It was the first time that he had seen one “in the wild” and he was very excited.  I was excited too because I had only ever seen them at the zoo or the Ogden Nature Center.