Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Do We Want More?

    I have been aware of a recent McDonald's advertisement where the word more is repeated over and over again. It is the biggest retail season and why not get more? Sometimes, even the best wishes, like more peace, more love, and more contentment can't be met today.

     Today, I don't have all the love I want from every family member, but it is sufficient that my family is coming together tomorrow. Today, I am not completely at peace, but is is sufficient that I can put aside my feelings and greet the day with all I need in my FIST. I am grateful for Faith In Sufficiency Today.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gratitude Is The Antidote To Scarcity

I get scared of stuff; mostly stuff that hasn't happened. And I get FOMO. I will quote myself, 
" I am practicing sufficiency today. I have enough time, enough energy, enough money, and I am enough to meet this day.  This is really a spiritual practice of gratitude. It replaces the often carried practice of feeling depleted of what I need. It is not just time, energy, money, but also the recurrent feelings of FOMO. Have you felt FOMO? It is the Fear Of Missing Out. Others are having more fun, they are more excepted, they get it and you don't, these are all signs of FOMO. I will practice FIST. This stands for Faith In Sufficiency Today."

                                This is a practice I am still working on. It is worth the effort and I am grateful for the beginnings of believing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Grateful For The Sabbath

  As I was preparing my Primary lesson for Sunday I was impressed with the importance to feel gratitude for the Lord's Sabbath Day. With holidays coming up where society sets time apart to give thanks and honor the birth of Jesus Christ I am more aware of the blessings of Holy Days. The sabbath is such a day and all saints who worship God stop their labors and devote this seventh day of the week to rest in his love.

  I hope to help my students feel this doctrine by making a tunnel book. To make one you need:

  • an inspiring picture- 4X6 or 5X7
  • card stock, colored or white
  • glue, Elmers works better than glue-sticks
  • scissors
  • markers or crayons
   Cut your card stock the same size as the picture you are using for the back. Your picture can be vertical or horizontal. Each project needs 4 pieces of card stock.

Decorate two pieces along the edges. It is helpful to draw a frame inside, 3/4 inch smaller. If the pictures you draw come outside of the frame, all the better. Cut out the inside of your card stock, cutting around any drawings that exceed the border.

Fold the remaining card stock into accordion style folds. Then attach the picture to the accordion folded car stock with glue. After the glue dries a little bit attach each frame.

Mosiah 18:23
And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Again Off Again

    Last year at this time I was feeling fairly powerful because I was still losing weight. Then the fall and winter months crept in and the pounds started to come back, one by one. By February in post surgery mode I stopped logging calories and that was a big mistake. I am not back to my starting weight but I feel the difference in the way my clothes fit. I am grateful for this body. I do not always honor it, or remember my royal past and future, but I am aware.

   Aware that I can perceive and understand all things better when my body is nourished and it has moved appropriately, circulating enough blood and energy. I am in the best possible place right now for  regaining my balance between weight loss and moderate calorie intake. I have an exercise buddy at the gym and my trusty i-phone app to keep me honest. (I have been known to lie to the app)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Am Grateful For Two

      I am trying to get my head heart around having twin grandchildren. I am so grateful for all of them and to have a double blessing, well, someone "must have done something good".
    I am slow to accept news that will change my life or those who I love. But this news is creeping into my brain. Yesterday, at the dentist, I made a checkup appointment for six months from now. As I checked on the date, May 20th, I burst out with, "If the twins are not born, yet."

                                                    What a ride this will be. I am grateful!!!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Find Joy In The Everyday

   "Gratitude is the way home and joy lives there."
     The everyday habits we have seem mundane but those are the very things we miss when adversity comes. Losing normal brings us to our knees. So the everyday normal things we do have a place of honor. I feel gratitude for my morning routine.

   I quietly tiptoe upstairs to my studio/office and turn on the heater. The twinkle lights around the room go on and I go back downstairs to make my morning sludge. One scoop of protein, one scoop of powdered greens, and a tablespoon of fish oil with water makes a shake which is, in truth, barely tolerable. Then back up the dark stairs to place myself on the mat. I move my joints and breathe and cox the stiffness out.

   My desk holds many things to play with. I can paint, draw, write, or read. The best days are when I do them all. This morning was such a day. I am so grateful for my personal space and morning ritual.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Joy In My Work

Today starts a two week practice of gratitude. Day One came to me quickly as I cast my thoughts to the week ahead. Even though teaching is tiring, even though I can't talk to another soul after hours of talking to students, I am SO grateful for my students. As I put their pictures in my journal I reveled in the little relationship I have with each one of them.

    They make me laugh, grit my teeth, tug at my heart strings, and feel pride in their hard work. I am a better person for the many hours I spend with children on my bench in front of my piano.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Numbing; To Take The Edge Off Discomfort

Elder Neal A Maxwell-
" We can distinguish more clearly between divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance, between dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second, remembering that when conscience calls to us from the next ridge, it is not solely to scold but also to beckon."
   The subject of numbing brings me to divine discontent. What is numbing? Simply, it is engaging in behaviors that take the edge off feelings of vulnerability, discomfort, and pain. These behaviors can be obvious addictions but they can also be everyday behaviors that allow us to check-out. Life is plainly challenging and I found it helpful to identify my reasons to numb.

  When I numb my feelings of depletion, frustration, and dissatisfaction I also numb the positive feelings of work well done, joy in my family, and gratitude for being alive. I am looking for the ways to have joy and numb pain at the same time. Can't seem to see a way through the dilemma. I think it can't be done.

   What behaviors do I use to numb? It is certainly not writing blog posts about my bad habits. I need chocolate just to write this.

   The hardest part of this assignment was coming up the antidote. How can I comfort my feelings instead of numbing them?

 This list looks a lot like my Six Habits of Happiness. Clearly I am receiving revelation in regards to my own weakness. I'm grateful.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hope Is Something We Can Learn And Teach

    "I was shocked to discover that hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process." These words ricocheted out of the book, "The Gifts Of Imperfection" as I read the next chapter. Dr. Brown's description of hope was so close to Elder David Bednar's description of Learning Through Faith,
  "So, hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities."
   Bro. Bednar's description was a combination of finding assurances, especially those coming from the Holy Ghost, taking action and walking into the unknown, and then seeing evidence of God's hand in the results of our action. So Paul and Moroni are right on; Faith produces a cognitive process called hopefulness, and that way of thinking connects us to God and others, blessing us with charity.
 "Snyder suggests that we learn hopeful, goal-directed thinking in the context of other people. Children most often learn hope from their parents. Snyder says that to learn hopefulness, children need relationships that are characterized by boundaries, consistency, and support."
    In my opinion, we learn it best by the power of the Holy Ghost, but it certainly can be learned around supportive people who model that hopefulness in their lives. For example, my grandson wanted to have a sleepover at my home. He tried it before and felt overwhelming anxiety so we took him back to his house. With a failure hanging over his head, he ended up being with us due to a siblings emergency run to the hospital. As bedtime arrived I assured him that he was tired and would be able to fall asleep. I told him I would check up on him later. It was quiet, I drifted off to sleep myself. In the morning he came into my room with a smile. I reminded him that he slept all night long. There was evidence of his success. Hope had given flight to power.

So people who are resilient are hopeful.They also have these things in common.

  • "They are resourceful and have good problem-solving skills. 
  • They are more likely to seek help. 
  • They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and to cope. 
  • They have social support available to them. 
  • They are connected with others, such as family or friends."

      They also have a foundation of spirituality. And, their faith in a power bigger than man's produces hope.
   "From this foundation of spirituality, three other significant patterns emerged as being essential to resilience:

  1.  Cultivating hope 
  2.  Practicing critical awareness
  3.  Letting go of numbing and taking the edge off vulnerability, discomfort, and pain"
Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection
  That third one, Letting go of numbing, that is a kicker. We all do some numbing of uncomfortable feelings. But, the hard fact is, you can't selectively numb some feelings and allow others to rise up. Numbing means you can't feel anything; for an hour, a day, or years of your one precious life. More on this subject to come.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Whispers of Compassion

It is common among all of us to hear the negative voice in our heads. "That was a dumb idea." You look like a klux on the treadmill." "They will find out what a fraud you really are." Negative talk is the default voice; whispers of compassion are rare.

Here I am at age 9. I look angelic but by then I was an accomplished liar. It was a tactic to avoid work, confrontation, and being seen. Because I was "such a good little girl" it was hard to own up to this trait. If I could send her some whispers of compassion they would be, "The truth will become more precious than your image." "You have a loving heart and you can risk trusting in your goodness."

   This is my second apartment at the university. I made some drastic decisions here that changed my life. Some of these decisions were based on fear and some were based on a new desire to hear the Holy Ghost. Whispers of compassion I wish I'd heard are, "Let your schooling be about enhancing what you are good at. Then be brave and stay the course." "Find a counselor to help you plot a path to success." "The voice you are beginning to hear is sure. He won't leave you." "Marry this man who lets you be real."

   Eleven years later I was the mother of five children. I had a new baby, we lived in a new state, without family, and my husband was traveling two weeks out of the month. Many days found me undone and frantic. Whispers of compassion just right for this situation would be, "There are people praying for you everyday." "You are already digging out and you are such a survivor!" "Your children will help you if you ask for their assistance." "Ask for help, friends want to connect to you."

    Hearing whispers of compassion towards me seems to soften my heart towards others. All this work I am doing requires courage to be real, compassion for myself and others, and best of all it builds desires for connection. We are all flailing in the same sea of vulnerability.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"There Is A Crack In Everything. That Is How The Light Gets In"

   Another week of class begins. I have a little saying I'm borrowing, with a personal improvisation.

      I shall be saying this many times this week as we tackle the subject of perfectionism. Someone surely has heard me say, "I am not a perfectionist". I believed that until Brene Brown started defining terms.
    "Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight. Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance."
   I witnessed this belief in action years ago as my college roommate launched a program of having "perfect days". I watched her frustration and self- doubt as time and again she failed at something and thus had an imperfect day. As an observer it looked crazy. But, most of us act and live in ways to minimize blame, judgement, and shame. For example, I am and have been a martyr about the housework. I do the cooking, cleaning, washing, so don't mess with me. Some years ago, my husband started doing the wash on Saturdays. My twenty ton shield took this action on his part as an attack on my role. Was he telling me that I was doing a poor job so he had to pick up the slack? I know what you are thinking. She is crazy! Let him do the wash already. But perfectionist actions can't see accurately. They are not motivated by wholehearted living. It took time for me to see his efforts as wholehearted because I was protecting my position as a homemaker to avoid blame and judgement. You will be happy to know that he does all the washing, folding, and putting away without being asked or without my irritation. It has nothing to do with my worth but everything to do with wholehearted help.
  As I sail this sea of the gifts of imperfection, I do value them so much more. What are the gifts? Courage, compassion, and connection make such uncomfortable yet life affirming rewards for opening the doors to our imperfect selves.

   Along this journey, I will open my sails to self-kindness, mindfulness, and the knowledge of the common humanity of my imperfect self. Now, on to a very emotional assignment. I have to find two pictures of me at a time when I could have used some compassion. A time when I was struggling and needed self-kindness. Who takes pictures at those events? There are, however, pictures that were taken around the approximate time of those events. I see them on my desk and know it will take some effort to look back without judgement and blame. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Authentic Moment

I was looking through my old pictures to fulfill a Brene Brown class assignment to find myself in a wholehearted moment. The point was to see what that looks like. Starting at birth I noticed the open face, the big smile. I kept going until somewhere around ten years of age the posing began. I was self-conscious.; trying to appear like someone instead of being candid. Seeing the picture below I found what I was looking for.
        At thirteen I see a dorky, sweet girl with arms open wide. I might have been twirling. As I think back, these things impeded my ability to stay authentically me.

  • I wanted to be more American
  • I wanted to stay Papa's little girl
  • I wanted to be super smart like my brothers
  • I wanted to be the quiet, talented kid my older parents assumed I was.
  • I wanted to be popular at school
  • I wanted to be churchy to get back at my Dad
  • I pretended that I could be all things things at the same time.

   If I could talk to her now I would give her permission to be ordinary. To continue doing things that she loved like swimming, drawing, making scrapbooks and such. Being smart and cool sounded desirable but I wore these traits like a jacket. It was so nice to take them off to get some fresh air.

   "We don’t talk about the hustle for worthiness that’s become such a part of our lives that we don’t even realize that we’re dancing."

                                    Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection (p. 37).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Hangover

              My favorite shots of the 100 or so pumpkins lined up and glowing Halloween night.