Monday, August 30, 2010

My Mother

During the month of August I have the awesome opportunity to celebrate the birth of one of my all time favorite people: my mama. Seeing as how August is almost over, I figured I'd better sit down and get to telling you about this amazing woman. After all, she is the woman who gave you all me :) Heheheeee.

My mother was born in the small town of-

Just kidding. Not going for a biography here. Instead I'd like to share with you some memories I have of this, one of my greatest heroes.

I remember having chicken pox as a kid. They were worst on my feet. My sweet mother would kneel next to the couch and very carefully dab on the lovely pinkish anti-itch medication. You may not think it, but there was a lot of love in every single one of those dabs.

It certainly wasn't the first nor the last time she took care of me while I was sick. She has cradled me in her arms, soothed fevers with a gentle touch, cried along with me as I received shots, sat in the hospital as I had stitches put in my eyebrow, held my hand as I lay in the back seat of our car while my daddy drove to get me to the hospital when my appendix needed to come out.

One evening, when I was a bit older, my younger brother had been driving me up the wall, down the wall, and maybe even across the ceiling a few times (sorry bro, but it's true). My cute mommy saw I was in need of some time away and took me to A&W's for a frosty mug of rootbeer, my absolute most favorite drink at the time. Because that's the sort of woman she is.

My mother worked at the high school I attended. I know there are some kids out there who would moan at the thought, but I never minded. Having her there was often a great comfort to me. I didn't always have an easy time during those four years. There was one particular girl my junior year who moved into the school and I befriended. She had some problems with socializing and ended up making my life, as well as the lives of many of my friends, utterly miserable.

One day I had simply had enough. I walking into my choir class and burst into tears. With a grateful heart I went to my mother and let it all out. She held me, as she has done all my life, and just let me cry. You see, I didn't know how to stand up for myself. I thought the best way to go through life was not to make waves. My mother has never felt that way. Over the next few days she talked with the teacher of a class this girl and I had together, she had one of the counselors who had met with this girl talk with me and another friend who was also involved about (without going into anything private) why this girl was the way she was, and basically just had my back! I don't know if she'll ever comprehend how everything she did at that time saved me.

She sat in the hospital room with me when my son had been taken from my arms, and was one of my greatest supports as we buried him just a few days later.

She has laughed with me countless times as we've chatted over the phone, and has become, as my teenage self would never have guessed, one of my best friends.

My mother is a strong woman. She'll be the last to admit it, will hem and haw try to think of other less-flattering ways to describe herself, but she is strong. She has had to watch as so many around her have been cruel to herself and to those she loves, as her family and friends have endured so much especially in the ways of illnesses, and through it all she has been a pillar of love, strength, and what it means to state the words "choose the right."

She doesn't think of herself as beautiful, or amazing, or anything special, and yet my world would be a darker place without her. I love her smile, her giggle, her beautiful eyes, and her curly hair. I love her hugs, her ability to cheer me up when I'm feeling down, and the way she can make a sandwich that actually feels like comfort food simply because "mom made it."

So Happy Birthday Mom: you are, without a doubt, extraordinary. And I will never let you forget it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The new school year always brings about huge changes. It involves getting back into a new, or even old, routine. I'm not just talking about the changes made for the children who attend school, but also for those of us left here at home.

My youngest, Miss A, has had a summer filled with her two brothers and big sister. Her Mama (that would be me), has been kicked off the computer for several months until the later hours of the night as the children seem to think they need electronics to while away so many hot, muggy hours. The house has been noisy, messy, and gloriously filled with the laughter of my children.

Now we're bored here at home. Little Miss A and I are aaaaall alooooone. I know, your heart is just breaking for us ;) Miss A has been adjusting to having the television all to herself, as well as the freedom to bring in all her toys and play with no worries a well-meaning brother might pick one up and run off in an effort to "have fun" with his baby sister. She kinda really likes being able to have Mom all to herself (even if Mom spends a lot of time on the computer).

Okay so maybe it's me that's bored. Well, hmm. If I have to admit it there's PLENTY to do around here, but none of it sounds even remotely fun. Add to that the need to get up at six in the morning when I'd much rather sleep 'till about eight or so, and I'm having a hard time adjusting as well.

I miss my kiddies. Though they can occasionally drive up the proverbial wall, they are my heart. I love laughing with them, doing things together, seeing their faces light up when I suggest going to the library or over to Toys R Us to look around. I miss having an hour or so together read Percy Jackson, or another book, together.

Now when they all get home from school it feels a bit like chaos. Everyone wants to talk at the same time. They're starving and absolutely MUST get a snack - which always seems to turn into an almost meal - and will pounce on the chance to get back on my..uh..our computer. Dinner becomes a rushed affair and right after is homework. By the time we all get a chance to really sit down and enjoy one another, it's almost bedtime.

Still, changes are good for us, and my children really do blossom through their experiences with teachers, friends, and even those who are not so much friends. I think it makes us all recognize what a blessing we have in our little home of love, where arms are always open, snacks about, and Mom and Dad are ready with hugs before bedtime.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jeers to TV Guide

The TV Guide has a Cheers/Jeers section wherein they feel free to let a show, actor, or organization know when they think something awesome or seriously lame has happened. They'll even open it up to readers to give their own opinions here and there.

I should not have opened up this week's TV Guide. To be honest I've been debating about whether or not to even renew my subscription as I rarely even check it to see what's on that night anymore. I do enjoy the articles they write, but to be honest I could always just check their website if I truly wanted to know who was doing what in my favorite shows.

But read this week's edition I did, and I grumbled at one of their main articles. TOP EARNERS could have been meant to let us oooh and aaaah over the money certain of our "favorite" stars are earning, though the article itself talked about how the actors of new shows will be getting less for a starting salary than before.

That's right, even the most popular shows out there are feeling the crunch of a harsh economy. These poor actors (even veteran actors) will go from a starting paycheck of $150,000 to under $100,000 ... PER EPISODE! Just to start out with! Oh, doesn't that just break your heart? Incredibly enough, one actor refused to take a job because the network/studio refused to go over $200,000.

In a time when a family of six (yes, I'm talking about ours) is struggling make it through life with a yearly income of just under half of that, and thousands of other families out there are struggling to even find some sort of income, it makes me more than mildly ill to sit back and learn what some of these stars are making (regardless of whether or not I absolutely love them). When I think of what I could do for my family with the money many of them earn from just one episode, I get angry.

The article felt like a slap in the face. There's no other way to describe it. So Jeers TV Guide, for not remembering the circumstances of many of your readers out here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On This Sabbath Day

On this sabbath day, I just want to let you all know you are loved. That's it. That's all. And yet it can be the difference between utter joy and despair.

Awesome is the power of love ♥

Sunday, August 8, 2010

As a Man Thinketh

Last night I posted on Facebook I hoped today would be spiritually filling. Never did I realize that not only would it fill me up, but I would struggle to figure out exactly what to choose for today's post. The children sang so well in Primary - even in the nursery! I found myself able to serve a sweet and overwhelmed sister by simply being a shoulder to cry on. I had a chance to go to choir practice today (something I haven't done in months) where we sung through one of my absolute favorite hymns. But it was the messages shared in our main sacrament meeting today that caught my attention the most.

As a child, a teenager, and young adult I used to love cloudy days. There was something invigorating about taking a walk or swinging at the park or even just sitting on my front porch in windy, storm like weather. I loved to watch the clouds rolling across the sky, see where they would try to touch the ground in a shower of rain, and most of all enjoy watching lightning streak across the sky.

Something happened over the years. Instead of enjoying the weather as I used to I found myself particularly depressed on cloudy days. It got so bad I would suffer the effects of seasonal depression through the winter months. I wondered more than once where my joy of cloudy, rainy days had gone.

The young, single adults in our ward (local congregation) have had a chance this weekend to attend a summit put on by the area leaders of our church. Men and women ages 18-30 were invited to attend a dinner and concert Friday night, a bunch of classes plus a carnival Saturday, and tonight there will be a spiritual speaker to tie everything together. My husband, as the leader of our particular ward, had the chance to attend as well. Today a few of those who went spoke to us in our main meeting.

Though the theme of the summit was "Find Yourself Through Service", most came away having been greatly influenced by one particular speaker (who had also been one of the entertainers at the concert the night before). He spoke about the way people think and how much it influences who they are and the way they present themselves.

The idea is simple enough: if you think negative thoughts you'll be negative. If you think positive thoughts you'll be positive. I believe the problem comes when we don't realize our thoughts are negative.

My therapist and I have discussed it a lot throughout my sessions. He's a big believer in our thoughts contributing greatly to the way we approach life. He told me our thoughts can come through so fast we may not even register what it was that just went through our heads. These thoughts are often formed during our childhood years, though the way the think about things can change (as mine did about cloudy days).

Dr. Jim gave me a copy he'd made of a bumper sticker he once found. It read: Don't Believe Everything You Think. That's right - believe it or not the things we think are not always true. We can even change the negative thoughts that come automatically by recognizing them when they happen. For example, someone makes a mistake. Their automatic thought is, "I'm so stupid. I can't do anything right. Might as well give up." If we see ourselves thinking along these lines it's time to stop, to rewind, and instead say something like, "I made a mistake. That's okay. I'll remember what I did wrong and try again."

Doesn't that sound easy? I think so. Give it a try this week. If you find yourself in a really bad mood and you don't understand why, do a little backtracking to figure out where the negative thought hit, then change the way you think. When you go to bed at night, review your day, let the bad thoughts go, and just remember all the good things. When you wake up in the morning, start your day with some positive thoughts. See if you find a difference in the way you approach your day, in the way you are able to handle your problems, and even the way you look at yourself.

This last week we've had some rainy weather. I could actually sense the dark feelings approaching. Instead of embracing those, I went outside and just stood in the wind, feeling it rush over me, and for the first time in many years I felt invigorated again. It was beautiful.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

I went grocery shopping this morning, not an unusual occurence. While there I was doing a little "people watching" as I went up and down a few isles, and one particular woman caught my eye.

She was heavier in her build, long, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her skin looked fair and healthy, though her features held no expression whatsoever. But what really spoke volumes on how she felt was the way she stood.

Her shoulders were hunched forward and slumped down. Her head was also bent forward, as though afraid to glance up on the chance someone might actually notice her standing there. Every movement was small, hesitant. I wanted nothing more than to go over, take her shoulders, and push them back a little. I wanted to tip her chin up and raise the corners of her mouth to create a hint of a smile. Those three things would have made a world of difference.

I wondered how I looked as I walked through the store. I'm also heavier in my build, my long, red hair pulled back in a ponytail. This is where the similarities between the two of us ended. Though my skin may not be flawless I typically have a smile on my face. I prefer to keep my head up and shoulders pulled back as it helps my posture. And those three things perhaps make a load of difference in how I am perceived.

How do you think you are perceived? How do you hold yourself when you're out in public? Is it different from how you hold yourself when at home?

Just an observation :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's Okay to Say No and NOT Feel Guilty!

For someone who only made it through Primary today, I'm feeling greatly inspired to sit down and write about a particular subject. There was a comment made by our stake leaders to the bishopric and Primary presidency about our lack of participation in the recent Pioneer Day parade. Our stake had put together a float that was chosen to be a participant in our biggest parade day for Utah. The children of the stake were invited to walk along with the float, and I hear there was one of the First Presidency in the float just behind them.

It's true our particular ward typically has the most attendance (though really not so much during the summer months), so of course at least one child should have been present, right? Three of those kids happen to be my own. My husband is the bishop. I myself am in the Primary organization. If anyone should have had a kid present it should have been us, right?

I am going to sit up straight, put on my sweetest smile, and say no. No. No! And I don't feel one bit guilty about it. Saying that one little word was not something I could have done just a few months ago. There was a time I would have pushed myself to do something I not only didn't want to do, but did not have the energy or strength to accomplish. I also would have resented every minute I felt forced to do it.

One of the things my therapist and I have been working on is changing my beliefs that everyone else comes first, my needs come last, and if I don't do it I'm being selfish. Turns out this isn't true. My needs HAVE to come first.

In Mosiah 4:27 we read: "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order: for it is not requisite that man should run faster than he has strength."

"How do we know when we are running faster than we have strength? We develop physical and emotional symptoms. Continual stress triggers such physical symptoms as headaches, high blood pressure, stomach aches, ulcers, eczema, heart palpitations, etc.; ... stress is certainly a major contributor to depression and its symptoms, i.e. tiredness, crying spells, sleep disturbance - either sleeping too much or sleeping too little, appetite disturbance - either eating too much or eating too little, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and suicidal thoughts. If a person develops these symptoms he or she is certainly 'running father than he [or she] has strength.'"

This quote is from my therapist's book "Spiritual Therapy". In chapter 7 which goes into neglecting our own needs Dr. Shelton talks about a question asked by President Harold B. Lee regarding our priorities and responsibilities.

"An anxious physician worried that because of his profession and church responsibilities, he was neglecting his own son, (and) asked President Lee how [he] should handle [his] time? What is most important in life? How do I do it all? President Lee replied: A man's first responsibility is to himself, then to his family, then to Church, realizing that we have responsibility to excel in our profession as well. He then stressed that a man must take care of his own health, both physically and emotionally, before he can be a blessing to others."

Imagine that. A prophet of God saying the one who should come first in our lives is...ourselves! Let's stress for a moment the fact that there is a difference between the things we need, and the things we want. Needs are essential for balance in our lives. We must eat well, get plenty of rest, take time to meditate, pray, exercise, read scriptures, and make this time you put aside for yourself necessary. Feel free not to answer the phone. Tell your children you'll fulfill their wants as soon as you're done with your hour. Set up boundaries so others will see it's good to make your own needs as important as those of others.

Even Christ knew it was necessary to take time out for Himself. He spent so much of His time teaching and healing and walking and doing the work of His Father. Yet when His body began to suffer, He would willingly go into the wilderness to pray. Once when He visited Mary and Martha, the latter sister became frustrated because she found herself doing all the work while Mary sat and listened to the Savior. When she thought to complain, Christ reproved her, letting her know Mary had chosen something to help keep herself balanced. Housework would always be there. The time at hand needed to be spent choosing to feed themselves spiritually. Had Martha recognized this, the frustration and anger that popped up would not have been an issue.

Many of the symptoms of running faster than we can walk listed above have been things I've experienced an awful lot of most of my life. I'm hoping to go more into some of the negative core beliefs I've had and how they have changed in the next little while. I wanted to go through this one today for one simple fact: I have nothing to feel guilty about. I love my church. I love my ward. I love the members and leaders of our stake. But I also love myself, and I know when it's necessary to say no to the expectations of others while saying yes to taking care of me. And there is no reason to feel guilty about it.

The truth is, not only myself and my husband, but all the members of the bishopric and our Primary presidency either already had something going on, or felt it was more important to take care of the needs of our family first. We cannot control what other choose to do, or not do, and there is no need to feel bad for what may appear to be coming up short in the eyes of others. Not even when fingers are pointing.

If I could offer you one challenge this week (one Dr. Shelton gives me continually), it's to take one hour a day out and do things strictly for you. Say no to those who might impose on this hour, and when the guilt comes take a deep breath, hold it, and then let it all go.