Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Keep Your Hands and Arms Inside at All Times

Have you ever had those times, when life is like an easy chair? All comfy and soft and warm. You are relaxed and happy and-- gosh! why not put your feet up? Sigh. Easy.

What you may not have noticed, as you sit there with your chips and diet Coke, is the five-point harness strapped around you. And the click-click-click of the track beneath you. Oh, and the fact that you're view is suddenly filled with sky and clouds.

Hang on, hon, because this ride is about to get real.

I started my day like usual with a few of my kids hanging out on my bed. I was on my laptop and from the corner of my awareness, I heard my son, Max, making a weird sound.

"Stop it. Please." (I was being very calm and patient.)

"I can't."

I turned to look at him and my heart dropped. His head kept making involuntary jerks while his mouth made a 'tch' sound.

"I don't know why I'm doing it."

Stroke. Seizure. Tourrettes. A lifetime of teasing. All these possibilities ran through my head. My calm ran away from me like a feral cat.  So, I did what any self-respecting non-medical person does. I googled it. Apparantly, motor tics are common in children. Really? Do you know any kids who have them? I don't.

I let him stay home from school, wondering if I'd set a terrible precident. If this continued, he couldn't stay home everyday. I don't have either the patience or the skill set to homeschool. And Max is a social kid. He needs his friends.

I called the doctor. We went in and his exam was completely normal. (With the exceptions of the head jerks, which had calmed somewhat.) The pediatrician suggested he go off his ADHD meds for a couple of days. Perhaps a change in doseage, or a change in medication would help. Mostly, we're at a point of 'wait and see'.

So, my Lazy-boy is now screaming down the incline and into a dark tunnel. Wind in my hair, stomach in my throat, I am holding on for dear life. I can't see the way ahead, but because I've been on this ride for a while, I know there are plenty of twists and turns to come. It's terrifying and thrilling at the same time. But hey, it's life, meant to be lived, struggles and pain, success and joy.

Besides,  sitting all comfy and warm just leads to a wider seat.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Imperfect Faith

"In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited...hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."

General Conference is in 20 days. (Twenty!) I love conference. It's the highlight of my year..half year? It happens twice a year, so whatever. It's a highlight. We get to stay home in our jammies and, as my kids say, "Watch church on TV." As I say- I get to sit at the feet of prophets and hear what they know I need.

And I need it. Every time. Each talk is good. Each one inspired. But, there's always one or two that seem to have been written just for me. And when I hear that talk, and it touches the depths of my soul, and my question is answered, then I know- He's listening.

In preparation for conference, I decided to watch a previous talk everyday. Today's talk was by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on faith. I remember when he gave this talk. I remember his impassioned voice and the way he got emotional. I got emotional too. Because he spoke of faith and how we don't have to have 'perfect faith', that there is nothing wrong with admitting we have doubts, but that it is imperative that we lead with the faith we possess.

 "I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have." 

I have faith. It isn't perfect. Sometimes I think it's small compared to others. But, it's okay. I have to cling to the faith I have and 'journey on', knowing that each day as I work and pray and do the things I know are right, my faith will grow.
 My faith is enough.
It's enough to get me out of bed each day, knowing there will be struggles. It's enough to teach my children truth. It's enough for them to lean on until they have faith of their own. It's enough to give of myself when I feel like there's no more to give. It's enough to help me be patient in waiting, trusting that the answers will come.

It is enough.

(Click HERE for the talk by Elder Holland.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hello Again

Helloooo my five readers!! Are there still five of you? Ah, crap! It's been so long I'm sure I've lost one or two. My bad.
Anyway, today I am returning to the blogging world. (I know, you probably don't believe me because I've said that a few too many times.) But, this time I mean it!

Well, I quit my *job for one thing. Yeah, I thought, what the heck, this extra income thing is for the birds. I should just stay home again. And so I am. I was hoping to do 'something' to replace said extra income. Still working on that. Until then, it's Ramen for dinner kids! (They don't mind. They actually like ramen for dinner, which makes me wonder if they're actually my children after all.)

Also, I miss writing. I've been writing, if you call editing a novel writing. It is, I guess, but it's much harder and much less fun than real writing. And I miss getting comments that make me feel like I have some talent. I don't get those from editing. All I get from editing is a headache. And indigestion.

So here I am. Blogging. And hoping to hold on to my five? Four? Three readers!! Don't let me down, people. Let me know you're still here.

And, because you're here, and because I love you, here's a list of the reasons I had a love/hate relationship with my job.

  • Loved the customers. Especially the old men. They're sweet and not afraid to flirt with a middle-aged woman and make her day.
  • Hated the snobby customers who were all, "These are very expensive, special clothes. You be very careful, clean these separately." (Yeah, yeah, lady. Just don't watch me as I drop them in with all the unspecial clothes.)
  • Loved my co-workers. 
  • Hated checking all the pockets in suit coats and pants. "Let's see what treasures you left in there for me. Oh, gum, and what the heck are these crumbs from? Are you eating crackers at church??"
  • Loved the smell of the place. Clean and fresh.
  • Hated ironing. Remember when you were a little girl and ironing seemed so fun and you would use your wooden iron and pretend to iron your baby dolls clothes? Well, ironing a couple hundred shirts a day is not. the. same. I often felt like I was in a bad Macbeth play- "Out, out damn wrinkle!"
  • Loved the schedule. I was here to get my kids to school and home before they returned.
  • Hated that I couldn't wear my pj's to work.
  • Loved making fun of people for their fashion choices. 
  • Hated that seeing all those clothes made my closet look positively pitiful. I mean, seriously, who has 21 dress shirts? And who can afford to have all their clothes cleaned and pressed by someone else? Not this girl.
  • Hated that after doing laundry all day at work, I had to come home and do laundry there. Something messed up about that.

*I worked at a dry cleaners for 7 months. Did you know the majority of the stuff people bring to the dry cleaners isn't actually dry cleaned? It's put into a big ole washing machine and dryer. Just like the one you have at home. Heh.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Simple Needs

I have simple needs. Sleep, food, diet Coke, the Handy Man. These are basic needs in my life. Basic. Without any of them, I would very quickly stop functioning.

Oh. I forgot laughter. I need this. Every. Day.

There are scientific studies about the benefits of laughter and how it increases endorphins and makes your brain sharp and cleanses your colon- or something like that.  (Maybe not the colon part.)

I can tell you very unscientifically that laughter makes you feel good.

Take tonight for example.

I spent three hours with several friends who I don’t see near enough. We talked about families and jobs and babies and maybe a little about sex. And we laughed. Oh, man, did we laugh. (Because sometimes sex is funny.)

But we’re friends, so that means we also talked about the other stuff. The hard things and struggles. The things that make us doubt ourselves and those that make us cry. It’s good to have friends who understand, (and who, if they don’t understand, nod and smile anyway). And during our discussions about the challenges of life, we said funny things and made jokes. And we laughed some more and the hard stuff seemed a bit easier to take and we all realized that we could go back home and face it.

Because sometimes, amid the stuff, we can take a break and sit with friends. And laugh.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Own It.

If someone asked me if I was a good cook, I would answer quickly, without hesitation. (I might even puff out my chest a bit.) “Heck, yeah, I am.”

I have no problem admitting that. None. Yet, if someone asked me if I was a good writer, I’d pause. “Well… other people have said that I am.” Then I’d probably follow up with, “I’m not published or anything.”

Why? Why not say what I want to say- “Yes. I am a damn good writer.” (Because I am.)

I think there’s too much self-depreciation in our humility. We’re afraid that if we say we’re good at something others will see us as conceited instead of confident. But this kind of humility doesn’t do anyone any good.

One of my favorite quotes supports this idea-

“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”*

Perhaps we should ask ourselves what God would think of our false humility. Since He is the One who gave us our gifts, who knows better than anyone how talented we are, who wants more than anything for us to develop ourselves and shine in this dark world, He is the One who would want us to own who we are and what we can do.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. “

You serve the world by being confident. A confident person lifts others with their talent and knowledge. They aren’t boastful or proud, but they also aren’t afraid to share what they have.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

You have a light within you. Don’t snuff it out. Accept it. Own it. Let it shine, and as you do, others will feel the confidence to do the same.

*Quote by Marianne Williamson's book A Return to Love. Read the entire quote here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pushing at the Darkness

(I originally wrote this two years ago. But, the message is still true- the light is on its way.)

Darkness terrified me.  As a child it was all that was wrong.  You couldn't see and in the midst of that unseen world were monsters.  Real or imagined, it didn't matter. A child's mind has trouble differentiating between the two.  I avoided it, hid under the covers and ran from it.

Now, I can handle physical darkness.  I can find my way through the shadows without so much as bumping my shin.  I don't mind the night, there are times when it is welcome.
It's the other darkness that worries and overwhelms me. The kind that comes from within.

This year has been one of joy and discovery.  I've made new friends and learned so much. Yet, amid the happiness and good things, there was also some blackness. It slinked in without me knowing and suddenly I was enveloped in the gloom. My blood ran like ink, making my heart heavy and slow.  My hands hung down, useless and empty. The murkiness sucked at my feet, making each step a chore.  I felt helpless.

When you're in the darkness, you have only two choices--wallow, or move forward. I pushed against the darkness and chose to move. As difficult as the motion was, I kept at it. The night could not go on forever.

This morning was the winter Solstice.  I've never given the day much thought before. But, a couple weeks ago, Tara, at Faith in Ambiguity, wrote about celebrating the Solstice.  She shared such beautiful insight about the morning that follows the longest night-

"To me, Solstice is the essence of the true religion of December.  We meet the dark, it seems to encompass everything and then, in that nadir of blackness, new promise is reborn.  This physical fact seems to me to hold the key to understanding our lives. It may be black as ink now. Yes, it is darkest, but wait just a minute and see...Wait one more minute and you will see."

Wait one more minute and you will see. Those were the words my tired soul needed.  The image thrust hope into my mind and heart.  The light had been streaming slowly, steadily back into my life and, now, I knew I need only embrace it.

So, this morning, I went to my backyard, ready to welcome this new day.  It was so symbolic for me, I was almost giddy at the thought.  I sat in my chair, hot chocolate in hand, and waited breathless for the dawn.

As I watched, I pondered the light and the symbolism it held.  Today, I waited for the sun, but what I'd already experienced was the light of the Son.  He had been there for me during my darkest hours.  I knew He was near and that, when no one else could, He understood.  When I stood in the shroud of darkness, I felt Him next to me, pointing to the horizon.  "You see, it's there.  Just a glimpse right now, but the sun is rising and the light is on its way."

As the rays broke over the mountain, my heart thrilled at the sight.  How many sunrises have I lived through? Never noticing, never giving it a glance. But this one was different. Today, the aurora mirrored my life.  I could feel my soul reflecting the brilliance.  This was more than a sunrise, more than a new day.  This  was my new beginning, full of promise and hope.

Happy Solstice.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Rare Morning


My house is empty. It's so quiet. I am all alone.

If I'm dreaming, please don't wake me.

I'm not dreaming. My boss asked me if I could work a later shift today. I told her yes before even considering what it meant.

It meant a morning to myself.

After I agreed, the numbers hit me. The kids would leave for school and I would have two and a half hours all alone. That's 150 minutes with no fighting or food fixing or remote finding. Just me and the dog and whatever I chose to do.

Oh. My. What to do?

I could deep clean the kitchen (that fridge!). I could fold clothes. (hahahahahaha!) There's some crafts I've been wanting to get to and I could paint without little fingers wanting to help.
I. Could. Sleep.
The possibilities were almost endless. But, in the end there's only one thing I wanted that is so much easier without all those distractions I love so much.

I could write.

And, so I am. I'm writing here. (Does this mean a return to regular blogging? I'm not promising anything.) And I'm working on my current book. (Dragons!)

And, I'm thinking. Thinking about all the time I had. The days on weeks on months and years where I stayed home and squandered the empty hours. I'm trying not to beat myself up over it. Learn from it and move on.

And take advantage of every opportunity.