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Comfort Food

It’s interesting to think about what brings me comfort, and why. Some days, all I want is my Snuggie and an old movie, and other days I need a long walk in the mountains to feel peace. One thing, however, that never fails to bring me the serenity I love, is food. 

Now, there are different types of food that elicit different emotions, and I have to be in the correct mood to truly feel comfort from any of them. On days when I’m really missing home, a bowl of curry will only upset me. What I really need is mashed potatoes that my mom so diligently taught me to cook, or a secret recipe that only she and I, and probably several other females in my family, know. That bowl of curry will be better served when I am feeling adventurous, and upset that I can’t leave the drudgery of reality to travel. Birthday cakes bring nostalgia, potato soup will always be reminiscent of New Year’s Day, and a very specific mac n’ cheese recipe will always force me to smile. 

Why is it that food can bring about such a strong emotional reaction? There’s something about the sights and smells, the preparation in the exact way my mother taught me, and the satisfying feeling after the plate is clean that brings me peace. That is why I believe that comfort food can be any food. Obviously there are types that are more common; most everyone has a memory of meatloaf or fried chicken that pulls them back to the past, but comfort food is more than that. It’s the food that reminds you of your family, your friends, that brings to your recollection a moment of intense emotion that will forever be with you. That’s why pizza will always pull me back to the first meal I ever ate in Italy, and sushi will always remind me of the first bite eaten with my dad. Comfort food makes you comfortable, because it makes you feel more like you.

From the desk of Maddy Richards who helps produce The Morning Show with Marcus Smith on BYU Radio.

40 Seconds to Spare

40 seconds left to play and the coach taps her to go in.  She shakes her muscles out as she hustles across the court. The basketball is in play, she grabs the rebound, shoots, and is fouled.  Two free throws means she has a chance to score during this intense game. With her team ahead by 10 there is no pressure. Plus she made 4,000+ successful free throws over the summer in training.  Free throws are her thing.  She bounces the basketball as her team and the crowd yell her name.  Not only her family but her church group is there on that game day to support her. The boy she went to the dance with last week is watching. She aims, and shoots. The ball swirls around the rim and hops out. She shakes it off and shoots again. The ball skims the rim, too low, and bounces off the back board into the hands of a team mate. She can’t believe she missed both shots, as she waves her arm for the ball. The other team is all over her as she dribbles, then travels. The buzzer sounds. Game over. Her team won!  

She makes the customary congratulations walk by the other team while holding in the tears.  People pat her and tell her “good try” as her eyes rove the stands for her parents. She sees her mom standing at the edge of the court. She walks over and her mom hugs her. Mom looks into her eyes and asks if she will be okay. She thinks – how could I be okay when everyone saw me play that way? She nods her head and says, “We won.” Her mom understands, hugs her again and says, “You only had 40 seconds to play and you made a great rebound.” She thinks it is funny how 40 seconds can change your life.

The next morning she is more reluctant than usual to jump out of bed and get ready for school. The last 40 seconds of the game keep replaying in her head. Her father shouts for her to hurry or she will be late. He is her ride and her brother is waiting, too. The mom says to the father, “Just go, I will take her on my way to work.”  Thirty-five minutes later she is finally in the car with her mom driving to school. Her mom looks stressed and in a hurry to get to work. The daughter says, “Can’t we go out to breakfast before you drop me off?” Mom says, “No, I can’t be late to work and you can’t miss school.” Yet almost as soon as she says it, the mom drives past the school and to a fast food place that serves her favorite breakfast burritos. They get their food and pull into a sunny space in the parking lot to eat. Sea gulls flock around the car. They roll down the windows to hear the call of the gulls and pretend they are at the beach. Mother and daughter eat in silence as the daughter throws bits of tortilla from the car window to the birds. More gulls flock and soon almost as many as Trafalgar Square are gathered.  “I feel like we are in one of your Alfred Hitchcock movies,” the daughter says as she tosses a bit of burrito which lands squarely on a bird’s head.  “Good shot,” says the mom and they both laugh. They leave the sunshine and the birds to get to school and the mother makes it to work – with 40 seconds to spare.

From the desk of Kim Powers Stilson, host of The Kim Powers Stilson Show on BYU Radio.


My Conversation with Storyteller Bill Harley

I had a great conversation the other day with Bill Harley. You may have heard it on the show. Bill, a Grammy Award-winning storyteller and songwriter, had a lot of great stuff to say about his desire to speak for children – to be their voice, as it were. He talked about the roots of his own storytelling work in the music of Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger – in playing guitar for kids at the day camp where he and his friends worked in college. He talked about how, in spite of his stories ostensibly being about “picking your nose and wiping it on your friend,” they’re really stories that speak for kindness and fairness. 

It was a great conversation, and I’ve listened back over the audio material from the interview a few times in my car. There’s a moment in our conversation that I can never get far from in my mind. I asked Bill what he had learned about the world and its people through his work as a storyteller. He talked about how a life of traveling had introduced him to all sorts of people, and how in spite of the differences between us: politics, ideologies, preferences of one kind or another, races, genders, and more – he tended instead to see the ways in which we’re the same. A lot of people express that idea in language that speaks of tolerance or acceptance of people who are unlike oneself. Bill expressed it in an unusual way. He said, “You know, I’m not afraid of anybody.” There was no malice, no fighting spirit, in the way he said it. Just a clear message that the more he saw of the world and its people, the less he feared it. And them.

I think that’s a wonderful thing to say about the world: that the more you see of it, the less afraid of it you are. When I was in high school, I was asked to set to music the last few lines of an Archibald MacLeish piece written in 1968, as man first began to fly into space and look back at the earth:

“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold -- brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”

So, there’s that.

From the desk of Sam Payne, host of The Apple Seed on BYU Radio.

Déjà Vu

I’ve always found déjà vu fascinating. I can be sitting in a room, having a conversation with someone, and the tiniest detail will trigger it. I’ll know exactly what the person is going to say, the very feeling of the situation is familiar. Other little details in the room will be enlarged and my senses are heightened to what I feel I’ve already lived. I wish someone would do more studies into what triggers déjà vu, and why it’s significant. 

I’ve often wondered if déjà vu could be the universe’s way of telling us to pay attention; that something significant is coming. But most of my déjà vu experiences are ordinary and non-exciting. I wish I could capture the essence and meaning behind the feelings of a déjà vu, of knowing how the situation plays out, and how one reacts to it. My mom always told me that déjà vu is just a feeling or a thought, or even a dream of something similar to the current situation. Sometimes I believe that, and other times I feel certain that I have lived out the present moment, in the past. I wish I knew for sure whether or not I’d seen that exact moment played out before when watching a movie of my life, or whether I’m supposed to do or say something important at that exact moment. 

So I’ve decided to live more moments like they are déjà vu moments. I want my senses more heightened; I want to be more aware of what I’m saying and feeling, and how others will act. It’s easier to feel like you’ve lived something before if you’re paying more attention to the situation. So that’s what I fully intend to do! 

From the desk of Maddy Richards, who helps produce The Morning Show with Marcus Smith on BYU Radio.

Keeping 'Wii'-Me Happy

To support my 2014 resolution, my husband set up the Wii Fit in our room. The idea of being able to hop out of bed on a cold winter morning, walk 3 steps, and be on my Wii Fit board for a work-out is infinitely easier than going out to exercise in the snow. Most of the 2,132 days I have used the Wii have been in in the winter. I have hula-hooped, hopped across rocks, boxed, golfed, and chased beach balls across the sand in the sun as virtual me, while snow fell outside the windows of physical me.  I love the Wii exercises and the praise you get for completing them. There have been days when my Wii Me has been the only one to give me a compliment.  It’s not all sun and beach balls, though. Wii Me can be very hard to please.

This morning after his own work-out, my husband turned on the Wii so it was all ready for me.  I could hear the Wii sounds even though my face was buried in my pillow. I turned over, opened one eye, and peeked out to see the glow of the TV showing off the line of Wii characters which represent our family. All had their heads down in a sleeping posture, all that is, except mine. I could see Wii Me outfitted and eager. Dressed in pink, she was staring straight at me even though our TV is quite a distance and at an angle from my bed. I shut my eyes and told myself that my Wii character did not really care whether or not I got out of bed. Cautiously I opened my eyes again, just to reassure myself, and there she was still staring at me while the others slept. Now, I know that the Wii Characters are programmed to fall asleep and look up hopefully, in sequence. So, I figured it was just a matter of time till she started to snooze. I shut my eyes, counted to ten, and looked up again. Wii Me was not only staring at me, she was actively motioning me over to exercise.  I was rather terrified to shut my eyes again.

"Okay, okay, I am getting up," I muttered. I pulled myself out of bed, hopped on my Wii Fit board, and grabbed the control. If Wii Me was in such a hurry, she'd have to take me as I was, in my jammies and before I’d brushed my teeth. I clicked “A” and Wii Me jumped up and down. “Why are you in such a good mood?” I fairly snarled. I clicked the fitness board with my toe and jumped on the board. "Owwgghhhhhh!" she said, as if the weight of real me was too much for Wii Me to bear.  "You wanted me to do this!" I groaned back.  Wii Me responded, "You need to work out every day to improve your health and your posture . . . “  I hurriedly clicked to skip the familiar lecture on my way to the yoga.  "I know, I know," I said.  

I did several yoga moves, and cheered up as I was praised by my virtual instructor. The Wii had just complimented me on my nice balance, when my non-virtual daughter popped her head in and said, "Nice work, Mom! Sounds like you are doing great on that yoga!" I smiled and then gave a ‘don’t get any ideas that I am enjoying this’ eye roll to Wii Me as I went on.   

I was just considering a light run through a park scene with water falls, when I noticed the time and realized I had to get going or I would be late for work. I clicked to end and Wii Me congratulated real me for my efforts.  "Thank you. It was tempting not to get out of bed. But I am glad I did," I replied. Taking advantage of the moment, my Wii Me then reminded me I needed to exercise every day if I was to meet my fitness goal. "Would you quit griping!  You are lucky I got out of bed," I shouted.  

"Who are you shouting at?" my husband asked.  “My Wii Me,” I said.  “I do one thing she wants and then she asks for more. I just can't keep Wii Me happy!” "I know exactly how she feels!" retorted my husband.  

I have a feeling that tomorrow when my husband turns on the Wii I will be in the mood, and motivated, to do a round of boxing. We girls -- Wii Me and real me -- need to stick together!”  

From the desk of Kim Power Stilson, host of The Kim Power Stilson Show on BYU Radio.

January Blahs

The January Blah’s are upon us. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, allow me to enlighten you!

The January Blah’s are the time of year when Christmas and New Years have passed, and Valentine’s Day is too far away to be relevant. It begins with the introduction back to reality, post-Christmas season, followed by the gradual decrease in diet and exercise and so many other New Year’s Resolutions, and ends with the frightening realization that Valentine’s Day is the next holiday, and you have nobody to share it with.

Thus, we have the January Blah’s. They are usually accompanied by a lack of interest in ANYTHING and ANYONE, an increased desire to sleep and eat and shop, spending more money than you have, and a generally negative attitude about mostly everything. Overall, the January Blah’s are punctuated with lack of sunshine, sickness, and a basic desire to not do anything. Ever. 

There are ways to combat the January Blah’s, including:

1. Drink hot chocolate. This is sure to make you feel a little happier, and more warm, too!

2. Buy a new sweater or boots. New clothes are always exciting, and they bring a little joy into your life! However, don’t overdo it money-wise!

3. Read a good book. Getting lost in the life of someone else makes you forget about your own problems.

4. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Sleep is KEY! If you wake up at noon you feel your whole day is wasted, and thereby you don’t bother doing anything else the whole day! If you wake up before 8, you can accomplish much more and feel productive!

5. Write down the things that make you happy each day. Even if you can only think of one little thing, remembering that before you go to bed will give you a little attitude-boost for the next day!

While the January Blah’s are an unfortunate and not entirely made-up problem, you can do things every day to try and be a little happier while the days are short and cold! 

From the desk of Maddy Richards who helps produce The Morning Show with Marcus Smith on BYU Radio.

Revenge Week

The Cougars are feeling comfortable at home after they put a halt to a four game losing streak on the road by beating up the San Diego Toreros Saturday in the Marriott Center. In December the BYU Hoopsters fell at Utah, Oregon, Layola Marymount, and Pepperdine. After their dominating performance over San Diego, the wheels seem to be back on the cart, which is good since they face the Pepperdine Waves Thursday and Loyola Marymount Saturday, this time at home. That makes this Revenge Week!

Pepperdine comes into Provo tied for 2nd in the West Coast Conference, the same team that was picked to finish last before Conference play began. But after Junior Guard Skyler Halford dropped 28 points on San Diego, Pepperdine Associate Head Coach Mark Amaral told us Wednesday that they know they will be playing a different BYU team than the one they saw in Malibu. “It just puts another shooter out there…We know that we gotta really defend not only Halford because we know what he can do, but Haws and Collinsworth are really good players,” Amaral said. 

Maybe it’s the new line up, maybe it’s the home court advantage, but BYUtv Sports Analyst Blaine Fowler said on Monday’s show that it’s all about the D. “This is a big confidence week and it’s about playing good defense. When BYU plays good defense then they get out and they run in transition and get easy buckets, that fuels their confidence,” Fowler said.

Halford got some Sports Nation Karma before his breakout performance Saturday when he told us on Friday’s show that the team still has high hopes. “For us as a team our goal is still, you know, we’re gonna win this Conference… there’s just things you can learn from these losses and I think we’re learning them and we’re gonna get a lot better as WCC play continues,” Halford said. 

Fowler also said Monday that he thinks the Cougars still have a shot to make a run in the WCC tournament and can even still keep hopes alive for a NCAA Tournament appearance if they turn things around this week. “They don’t have to blow them out but they need to be solid wins where it’s not coming right down to the wire,” Fowler said. 

One thing’s for sure. If the Cougars want to keep their hopes alive, they’ll need to get back at both Pepperdine and LMU with wins at home this weekend.

From the desk of Alan Miller, who helps produce BYU Sports Nation on BYU Radio.

New Year’s Resolution

Recently, 2013 departed and we welcomed in a new year: a chance for a change, an opportunity to make goals to be a better person, and the ability to try and let go of the past and move forward. I barely remember the transition from 2012 to 2013, but this year was more poignant and calm for me. I allowed a great deal of time for reflection and reminiscing, as well as planning and plotting the year to come. I spent some of my last hours in 2013 reflecting and preparing myself for an upcoming year. 

Like most people, I made some New Year’s Resolutions. While I won’t bore you with the details of my workout plan and my resolve to be a kinder person, I would like to talk about one aspect of a new year that I have a love/hate relationship with.

First of all, I love the clean slate that a new year brings. It’s a breath of fresh air, a solid place to stand as we build up a new foundation. I love the idea of goals, things to accomplish and reach for in the months to come. I am exhilarated by the watching of the minutes and seconds tick by, signaling the end of one era and the start of another. It is refreshing to cheer and chant away the memories of the past year, and welcome a hopefully better year. 

While I love this transition from old to new, from past to present and future, there is a dissonance within me about the traditions of a new year.

Shouldn’t we take it upon ourselves to re-evaluate, set goals, and let go of the past, at any date? We don’t need a new year to tell us to plan for the future, to strive to be better, and to move past old hurts. I feel that every day should be one of goal setting, of forgiving the past and embracing the future. While I’m not always the best at this ideal, it is something that would make each of us better as we strive to achieve it.

So this year, on top of my goals to save money and get better grades, my New Year’s Resolution is to make new resolutions each day; celebrate the end of every day and remember the good times, and be sure that tomorrow will bring something even greater; and, to make goals for each day, week, and month, and evaluate my progress often. I hope this resolution will bring a brighter future, and not just for a year, but for each minute that I live. 

So, as you begin your 2014, I would suggest that you also remember that a resolution shouldn’t be made just on December 31. That old habits shouldn’t be dropped only at midnight, and that each day is a chance for a better life and future than the last. Happy 2014!

From the desk of Maddy Richards, a producer for The Morning Show with Marcus Smith on BYU Radio.

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