Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seeking the Good

I was really inspired by this post yesterday. This is a really wonderful blog, written by a fabulous person working through a tremendous amount of grief and learning as a result of losing her young son last year.
These thoughts weren't necessarily about her son at all. They were about her birthday (which was today). She is 35, and determined to make 2012 a year of wonderful things. The tone of her words struck me and I've been pondering myself on what type of year I'd like to make of 2012.
This morning in my scripture study I think I found a verse that sums it up handily:

"SEEK GOOD. . . THAT YE MAY LIVE" (Amos 5:14)

And so that is my quest for this year. I think I've spent much of this past year in hiding. Come what may, I am the master of my ship, I am the captain of my soul. And there are places I want to see, and rivers I long to sail. But I can only do it if I stop hiding on the shores, creeping carefully around what I really want to do, how I really want to live, who I really want to be.
And who is that? I want to laugh again--I want to be joyful again, silly again, and make adventures happen. Perhaps my house might not be as clean, but I want to make more memories for my children and WITH my children this year. I want to start new traditions and rekindle ones that we haven't stuck with. I want to go camping more. I want to run a 10K in under 55 minutes. I want to make time to read good literature again. I want to think about life beyond what I eat, weigh, and wear. Body and Spirit are connected and if I take better care of both of them I will gain a truer joy and a more lasting peace and clarity. This year, I want to make that journey one that is based in love.
A good, full, abundant life isn't just going to happen to me because I am generally a nice person. If I want the life I've seen with my eye of faith then it will take some courage, some action, some sacrifice, and some guts. But, I believe the rewards will be grand.
Seeking the good, both within and without, might not always be easy. And I hope that I can do it without disdain for myself. I hope that I can recognize that there is a great amount of good already in me, my past, my life, and my future. A Good Thing I am seeking this year is true, pure charity--for myself and others. I believe that is a keystone for real progression.
There is a wonderful thought from Mr. Ralph Waldo E. that captures some of my feelings tonight as the new year begins to peek my way. He wrote: “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

Whatever you want to do this year, I hope you do it. And when it doesn't happen quickly, I hope we can keep trying. Trying to Seek the Good.


Some other wonderful thoughts about seeking the good.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let's Take An Inventory, Shall We?

What's in YOUR cupboard?

So, here is what I face every time I enter the threshold of my kitchen.

The cast:
Coconut m&ms
Peanut butter chocolate and mini chips that would work incredibly well in my amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe
4 different types of Breyer's ice cream
Several gingerbread cookies
Bags of hershey's kisses with almonds
Assorted brownie and cake mixes that my kids would love to help me make and then I would dish them very modest portions and sneak half the batch myself just one little nibble at a time. I'm really good at that.

See how hard my life is? Sheesh. Oh to be in my own home with control over purchases. But, just listing and accepting them as my foes helps a bit. So, what toys with your mind and casts their magnetic appeal in your general direction?

Resist. . . resist. . . resist. . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Have I mentioned. . .

that I should really stop eating sugar? That I really want to stop eating sugar? That I feel so much better every time I do. . . for the three days that I am able to do it?

Well I should and I do. But, might I also mention:

IT IS SO HARD.

But there are lots of hard things that are worth doing. Maybe, just maybe, this is one of them. And maybe, just maybe, I'm strong enough to do it. Or, maybe it is is the doing it that I will become strong.

That's deep.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Corner

Twas the day after Christmas,
and all thru my bones.
Was an ache and a tired that
only moms know.

The last three days have been hectic,
with much food to cook.
With children and inlaws,
And dust in each nook.

The good news? I'm learning
to like teaching alot.
My students are funny,
Even when they think they're not.

I'm finding my groove
as a mom that must work.
And most days I can do it
without being a jerk.

And though my heart lingers
for days at my home.
The progress I've made
is the point of this poem.

We have a future ahead
that we hope is quite bright.
A home of our own is
almost in sight.

So, if I can survive the next
several weeks,
I just might survive this
swim up the creek.

Thanks for the good thoughts. More later.

Friday, December 9, 2011

It has been a month.

And I still hate teaching.

I am trying. I pray to love my students. I pray to humbly accept that this is simply something I have to do right now. I try to make it fun. I try to remember what a great language Spanish is. But, still. . . I hate it.

The whining, the moaning, the texting, the innuendo, the language, the apathetic gazes across the room followed by a "what are we doing?" 2 seconds after I explained exactly that. You would think these kids are recovering from hip surgery the way they holler every time I ask them to stand up and participate in a well crafted, engaging learning activity. Almost every time I worry for the future of our great nation, nay the world. Are teenagers all over the world like this??

I drop my kids off in the morning, and toil away trying to convince someone else's kids that Spanish really does have a purpose in their little redneck worlds. Meanwhile someone else is reading to my children and seeing them point out every exciting thing they see. So not fair. A conversation this past week:

Me: (to student) Do you have any questions? Are you going to start the assignment?
Student: Nah, I don't know none of this crap.
Me: (deep breath) No reason to call it crap just because you don't know it.
Close-minded student: It is crap. It ain't American.
Exhausted teacher exits to the right before saying something she would regret

But, what else do I do? What else can I do? I try to laugh. I have a student who hunts deer. . from her living room window. I have a student who wears fatigues every day . . . . the same pair. Air freshener has become a friend in that class. I have a student who perpetually tries to convince me that he has a two year old daughter and another that insists she is having a hard time learning Spanish because she is Puerto Rican. . . so she only speaks Puerto Rican.

It is Friday. I've never loved them so much. Today, even though we've had two quizzes every Friday for the last 15 weeks, my little mini-adults will slump into the room and shout, "What! We are having a quiz today?!?!?" Then they will whine. They will probably cheat. And many of them will fail. And they will think it is my fault. After all, I'm the one teaching them this un-American crap.

If you get to stay home with your children today. . . will you please read to them and give them a hug for me. It ain't easy, I know. But boy are you lucky to be doing something so repetitive, so monotonous, so hard, so messy, and so completely important.

Te prometo. Vale la pena.

Look it up. I'm off duty.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Duggar Shout Out

The Duggar family is on to baby #20.

Amidst all the naysayers that blame them for draining the world's resources (right) or hastening the crisis of overpopulation (have they seen Wyoming?) I would like to raise my voice with a hearty congratulations and digital high five.

Here's why:

I've seen the show a few times. It is usually on when I'm on the treadmill in the wee hours of the morning. And I think that what that family is contributing to the world is pretty darn amazing. They have high standards, lots of love, and I am convinced a deep faith in God. They are debt free, buy used clothes, and grow their own vegetables. My guess is, they probably consume less than many smaller, more selfish families who eat out of reheatable containers and buy a new cell phone every three weeks. Watching them has reminded me of the precious gift it is to have children. It also makes me miss my homeschooling days. I feel like this teaching job is making me a better mother. It is teaching me the power of consistency and the importance of planning.
Blessings are rolling in and I am grateful. Every day our family gets better at our routines every day. We are almost finished reading The Book of Mormon as a family and plan on starting over as soon as we finish, as well as reading the New Testament together next year. Bumps are frequent and schedulign is complicated, but all in all I am feeling an growing sense of unity and it is really lovely.
I believe that there is a great power in unity. God and Jesus Christ are united perfectly and all good things in the universe come from that companionship. God has promised us miracles if we unite in prayer. I'm willling to tap into that.
Today is my birthday. And I am very blessed. I improved my running time this morning by 35 seconds, am seeing the scale move in a good direction for the first time in many moons, have a husband that supports me, and children that teach me every day. I know God lives and I believe in His love. I feel Him lifting me and His patience helps me be patient with myself. And this rambling post . . . .

So, way to go Duggars. Share the light. And I'll try to do the same. (but not with the 20 kids part)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Poem of Patience. . . of sorts.


It takes time.

There are many things
in this world of rush
that push and sprint.

We see what we want
to become
to have
to do.

And waiting seems too much.

The wait. it seems
unfair. And we think it
shows weakness
in us
or God.

But maybe it is just time.
Time that will pass anyway.
Time to heal.
Time to grow.
Time to reap.
Time to sow.


It all takes time.
And in the time we give to growth.
A funny thing happens.

We grow.

And if we don't resent the pace
we can enjoy the race
to miracles that we want.
IF we are willing to accept that
roads worth travelling are sometimes bumpy
and often long.

But at the end there is a prize
and that prize

is the us we want to become.



I haven't written poetry in a very long time. And perhaps this barely qualifies as poetry. But, it is what came out this morning.

I want so many things to happen so quickly. I must learn to wait. It took me a year to lose track of myself and get my body to this place. It won't go back in a week. I want my hair to be long again. This takes time too. I find myself willing to wait for that, because there isn't any blame in that kind of growth. Well, perhaps I should take the blame out of the other areas of growth I need as well. All growth takes time. As do all things truly beautiful.

I will try to give myself some time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I PASSED!!!

There are many people in this world who will live good, productive lives never knowing what a PRAXIS test is. I am not one of them.
The Spanish Praxis test has loomed over me for months. When I stumbled into this Spanish teaching gig the only credential I had was a letter from my mission president. That didn't quite cut it. So, I had to take this big mama Praxis test designed for Spanish majors to prove I could teach Freshman how to describe a day at the beach in Spanish.
And I had two months to get ready for it. All while juggling "single" momhood, starting a new teaching job, and putting my kids in childcare for the first time ever. It has been a monumentally tough few months.
But, praise the Lord (and I do), I passed. I passed! I didn't crumble. I didn't surrender. I didn't fail. I passed! I can get a real salary now. We can move out of my Mom's house. I can move on. I passed. It is a miracle, believe me. That test was incredibly difficult. But God opened my mind and gave me merciful graders.
God parts red seas, He raises the dead, He brings down walls with nothing but shouts of faith. And He helped one tired, strained mom pass a very difficult test. That's a sparrow moment. He truly sees each one of us.
I am so grateful He sees me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The trouble with group exercise is

Mirrors.

Because unless you look like this:


You really have no wish to look at yourself doing jumping jacks.
Who's with me?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baby Steps

All or nothing. That is often the way I roll. And that can be a bumpy road. If I want to make these changes long term, I've got to find a way to be okay with a gradual pace. One that can last. For some reason, though I am totally comfortable with this concept in the realm of running, applying it to food continues to elude me.
Ideals are fantastic things. They keep us moving and growing and stretching. They also tend to beat us up a bit on the way there. My ideal usually looks like this:



And I want to be that next week. So, I decide to cut all things delicious and unnatural from my diet, train for another marathon, and only eat fruit until noon. That goes well. . . until noon. And after that I'm so angry at myself for a slip up that I figure the whole day is in the tank, might as well enjoy it. Cue the snickers.
But, this time it isn't just about the weight. It has GOT to be about something more. I've got to let go of the above ideal, and figure out my ideal. Where do I want to be? Here's a summary:
I know that I want to get to a place where sugar is not a part of my life. Where I eat wholesome, natural foods, comprised almost entirely of the wise foods mentioned here. I want long hair and a good looking set of legs. I want to celebrate moments with memories not food. I want to write more, move more, and live more. But, that is not going to happen overnight. And it isn't a place necessarily measured by a jean size. The ideal isn't about how I finally get myself to look, it is about how I allow myself to feel along the way. The honest to goodness truth is, I just am not ready yet to drop all sugar cold turkey. Been there, done that. But, I do know that I want to get there. So, if I am comfortable with starting the race and accepting the pace I can keep up, I think I'll finish. It has worked with every other race I've ever entered.
Baby steps and I'll get there. First baby step? This week I walk back into Weight Watchers with my head held (sort of ) high and rejoin as a Lifetime member/former leader that has lost her way. I'll hate it sort of. But, next Tuesday when I have to get back on that scale again, that accountability will help me succeed, and I bet I won't hate it nearly as much then. The program works. I'm a witness to that. Do I want to track and point forever. Oh heavens no. But, I have to relearn some stuff right now. I have to recognize that. And re-establishing a healthy way of looking at food again will put me on a better track to phasing out sugar completely. For now, I'm going to work that program. And I am going to try very hard not to be ashamed of that. Because, after all, my real ideal should look more like this:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So that went well. .

or maybe not so much.

Maybe two hours before heading into the candy vortex of a church trunk or treat wasn't the best time to cut sugar out of my life.
Chin up and moving on.

Fo' Real.

Honesty is the Best Policy









yikes.




This is me, being brutally honest (with the compulsory aloof face and messy hair required of all "before" pics.) The clothes are ill-fitting, but there was a time that they fit me, rather loosely I might add. So, I decided to wear them in hopes to progressively watch them loosen up bit by bit.




A friend from college is doing a really interesting experiment. He is super fit and over the last six months has gone about putting on 70 pounds to gain greater empathy with those he works with as a personal trainer. And now, he will take the next six months to carve it off. It is an interesting idea.


I wish I could say that the last year of my life has been a similar process. But, mostly it has just been a cycle grounded basically in fear and pride. Last summer I was looking pretty good--of course I didn't think so at the time, but I look back at those pictures and realize how amazing I looked, better than ever before. But, at the time all I wanted was more weight off. How silly. But, to be honest, I got scared. Being overweight was a part of who I was, and not being that started to scare me a bit. What on earth would I do with myself if I wasn't trying to lose weight?


Plus, I started to get a bit more attention. I noticed guys checking me out at the gym and that made me really nervous. The self-sabotage began. It was slow and gradual, and I kept running so the weight wasn't coming on quickly, but I had definitely shifted gears.


And then I moved in with my mom. And I was surrounded by food, stress, and strain. My husband was 300 miles away and our financial future was completely uncertain. I ate and ate and ate. And still I exercised, so it kept total health abandonment at bay.


And then I got a job. And gym time went out the window. And I had access to a vending machine. And I resented everything about our situation.


Now I weigh 200 pounds, a number I haven't seen since I was pregnant with Isaac. For the first time since we've been married, my wedding dress would probably not fit right now.


And still I think it will somehow just change. I think that I can eat what I want and if I just start going to the gym it will just work. I mean, I am someone who lost sixty pounds for heavens sakes. . I've never progressively gained more and more weight before. Surely, this isn't really me? Surely I can still fit into my jeans.. . . right? So wrong.


If I don't make some key changes, I am afraid I'll head down a dangerous road taking me to a place physically that I have worked very hard to never go. I've run a marathon, lost baby weight plus some between each pregnancy, and learned to make homemade granola and love beans and rice. I KNOW how to be healthy! I've just forgotten how to want it.


A real obstacle here is old fashioned honesty. I just haven't been honest with myself. I've bought two packs of twix bars and somehow convinced myself that they won't really add up or make me gain weight. Do I think they go out the back of my neck after I swallow? They don't.


So, I've decided to take on my own "fat to fit" challenge. Come along if you want. I plan to be very honest in this space.


I want to lose 45 pounds. It sounds like sooooo much, but one pound at a time and change will come. This will require large amounts of patience and itty bitty amounts of chocolate. But, it isn't just about the weight. I've weighed 160 before. I hope to reach 155, but it isnt' really the number. Like I said, I've weighed close to that before and I wasn't too happy about it. I still saw flabby arms and lumpy thighs. I saw the girls in Runner's World and they were everything I wasn't. I have got to get over that, and this is a place I plan to document my journey towards losing that weight too. That weight that drags my head down to look at my legs with a grimace instead of gratitude. The weight that worries my husband deserves better, that my children will grow to be like me, or that I am not worth anything unless I am thin and pretty. More than the pounds--that weight has got to come off.


I know I will be a better servant in the Lord's kingdom if I am stronger, leaner, and more confident. I know I will love others more if I love myself first. Not in a selfish self-serving way, but in a way that strips me of fear and lets me love without pride, expectation, or concern that my love isn't good enough because I'm not good enough.


As long as I'm being honest, I'll pass this on as well. I've felt often in many ways that my life will be happier and purer if I abandon white sugar and flour and stop eating after 8pm. That might sound completely crazy, but I've felt it too often to rationalize it away. This isn't a universal truth, but I do believe it is my truth. And it is a truth that I have been running from for quite a while. And I believe that the guilt of not accepting this prompting has driven me to food in terrible ways. This will not be easy. I love so many things sugary. But, I feel myself change when I eat it. I feel guilt and shame and suddenly all I can think about is the next time I can eat. . .anything.


I worry that anyone reading this (if you haven't fallen asleep yet) might lose a lot of respect for me with these confessions. I am sorry. I think I've been awfully good at portraying someone with vast amounts of willpower. And at times I have been that person. But, I'm not sure that it ever came from love or light, but just an overwhelming desire for approval.


But, I will try. I will try tonight to ignore the Halloween candy. I will pray for help. I will walk away, take a drink of water, and ask the Lord to give me strength to make these changes that will bless me in so many ways. And along the way I will lose weight. But more importantly, I hope I will lose fear. I will gain muscle, but I really hope I gain light.





A Body of Light.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creating a Body of Light

Confession: In the last year I have gained about 40 pounds.

Not a real secret to anyone that has seen me lately. It has been a rough year. But, I've learned some important things, and one of them is that beating myself up about it will do no good at all.

I've also learned to come to grips with my terribly unhealthy relationship with food and my body. I've hidden behind food. I've eaten out of resent. And now my body is showing that. I can't change how I've eaten in the last year. But I can change how I move forward.

This past week has had some nice changes along those lines. I have exercised every day (having a husband around to help with the kids makes this much more doable.) I've read my scriptures every day. I pray for charity and I ask for strength. I have repented for how I have treated my body, which is an inherent part of my soul. And I have prayed for both the courage and the humility to move forward and believe that I can change.

And I feel change happening. Sure, I've lost 3 pounds this week. . . which is awesome. I'm sore for the first time in many months. And I resisted pudding and caramel apples. But, more than that, I've looked in the mirror at my tight fitting clothes and I've been able to say "Yeah, I used to look better. But, I am here. Right now I am doing a really good thing." And then I do another lunge.

That is how I believe I will create a body of light. I will try every day to keep my focus on God and His glory, recognizing that to be a tool in His hands, I must be sharp, ready, and able. And my body can help me do that, or hold me back. A body of light isn't a certain size, but it does have a certain energy. An energy of joy, acceptance, and determination. I believe in that. I am trying. And I believe change will come.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Teenage Brain

Yes, such a thing exists.

I don't have any teenage children, but I am lucky to have daily contact with about 80 of them, probably 70 of which have close to zero interest in learning Spanish, unless it helps them figure out how to get more beer, sleep more, or have immoral relations with the opposite sex. Say hello to our future.

And until the last week or so, I was on the brink of surrendering to their apathy. Giving up, because it appears almost all of them have. Here are some key insights that have helped me back away from that brink.

1. A fantastic article found here in National Geographic about the development (or lack thereof) of said teenage brain. Turns out, in a way, it just isn't their fault. Our brains develop from the back to the front, and the very last bit to develop is the part that cares about consequences. Their gray matter is still stuck in the "How fun is this this going to be?" and "Will this make me popular" stage of evolution. So, expecting them to have a natural curiousity about the world around them the first day of my class isn't realistic. It is there when they are young, back when learning involved centers, storytime, and make-believe. But, worksheets and standardized tests take the fun out of school and these teenage brains don't have enough wrinkles in them to really think about what their decisions now will mean for them in ten years. I mean, we've got to figure out which color of Tom's shoes to buy next for heaven's sakes! (If you don't know what those are. . . find a loop and plant yourself firmly outside of it--because that's where you are.)

2. I cannot expect myself (or anyone around me) to be fantastically good at something within 3 weeks of trying it.

3. Stepping back and reevaluating is a sign of strength NOT weakness. I am learning every day, adapting, changing, reviewing, and noting what works. This week I am stepping back and in some ways starting over with my classes. And that is okay. They are learning Spanish. But, more than Spanish, I want them to learn to succeed, and I want them to believe that they can do it anywhere, in any class. If they are willing to work, communicate, and try.

4. God loves us, every one. Even teenage punks with sagging pants and cell phone addictions. Even lazy students who seem to have zip zeal for life. He loves them. He wants them. He misses them. He wants them to feel light and love and hope. He loves these students as much as He loves sweet, obedient me. He loves these scantily clad gals as much as He loves the beautifully virtuous young women who attend church every Sunday. He loves them. And I can too. I can't teach them scripture. But I can be a light. Scratch that---I can reflect a light. I can hold up the light of Christ and teach with joy, hope, and love. And maybe they'll learn some Spanish.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Limits of Fear

Sometimes it is easy to think that God is letting things happen to us, or that He is holding back the miracles for some sort of higher reason. Maybe the reason is us. Maybe the only thing keeping Him from pouring them on is our fear of what those miracles really might demand of us. The other day I was reading in Luke 8 and was struck by how the people begged Christ to leave them, immediately after seeing Him cast the unclean spirits out of a lunatic they had all known forever.

Why would they do that?

Because they were afraid. Perhaps they were afraid because of their own guilt. Perhaps they were afraid because they were pretty comfortable with having that lunatic around as it was and it was just a little too much change, thank you very much. For whatever reason, they "besought him to depart from them." And that is exactly what He did. Who knows what miracles He had in store for them. What else could Luke have told us? We'll never know. Their fear kept them from what Christ could have done for them. Does mine? Does yours? Does my fear of truly becoming what the Lord knows I can become shut me down and make me turn from the Lord, saying "Thanks, but no thanks. . I'm good." Am I willing to let Him in? Will I give in to fear or embrace faith, trusting that if Christ hands me a rope, whatever it leads to will make me stronger, purer, and happier? Or will I drop it in fear and back away. I'm trying to hold on to that rope and one day at a time, I feel my fear leaving me. Slowly but surely, I am becoming brave.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Put Your Behind In The Past

Or something like that.


That's what went through my head when I did my sissy girl knee pushups this morning that were actually pretty hard. It has been a long time since I've done a real workout with real pushups. For the first couple, all I could think was how pathetic it was that these felt so hard to me. And, again, I started to beat myself up about the last several months. . my eating. . not getting up at 4am to make exercise work. . .blah blah blah. Then I slapped myself in the face (figuratively of course, this would not be a wise move whilst in sissy girl knee pushup position) and remembered the wise words of Pumba. What's done is done. There is simply no need rehashing or regretting. What I can control is the now. And my now is looking pretty good.



Remember the lessons, but not the mistakes. Moving on. . . .



Thanks Pumba

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Something.

There I wrote it.

I said I would write something (almost) every day.

Today I went on a solid, outdoor run (okay it was a run/walk, but I ran more than I walked, so if you can round up a verb, I say that makes it a run). . . . for the first time in many moons.

It was awesome.

And now that I have a husband again, I do believe I'll be able to do it a tad more often. I am thoroughly enjoying sitting by my husband, while we both read a book and listen to our children run around and play. This is bliss. I'm also enjoying giving him plenty of time to get fully readjusted to our children again. I think time with them is important. And I also think sitting by myself in a car, listening to NPR is important. It is a win-win.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Fights Aren't Worth It

I just saw (well at least saw in intermittent bursts between bathroom trips for Emma) a wonderful movie. A Dolphin Tale wasn't stellar storytelling or cinematography, but it certainly charmed me and has left me thinking for several days. To sum up, a rescued dolphin loses her tail but not her fighting spirit. She improvises and fashions a new sort of swimming, using a side to side motion. The problem is, that style of swimming is growing muscles that shouldn't be grown and begins to cause dangerous problems on her spinal cord. She has to start swimming differently or she'll die. To the rescue comes a cantankerous engineer who designs prosthetics for veterans. He works to create a tail for the dolphin that will help her swim the way she is designed to swim. She revolts.
The attach the tail and off she swims. Then she begins to thrash and whine and whack the fake tail to pieces on the side of the pool. No longer such a happy dolphin. It took several designs and a few good talking-tos, but she finally came around in a happy, dramatic fashion. It was a tale of determination and hope, but I came away with something else.
Instead I came away with this image of myself thrashing around trying desperately to shake off things in my life. I don't want to be a teacher. I don't want to have my kids in childcare. I don't want to have to change the way I eat. I don't want to live with my Mom anymore (she's wonderful, but I'm almost 34 after all) I don't want it! Thrash, thrash, kick, and scream. But where does that leave me? It leaves me swimming along in a way that will destroy me. It leaves me defiant and angry, but it doesn't change a thing.
I think it is safe to say I'm not the only person that has fought that fight. I've realized that there is not much I can change right now. I've got to finish the year of teaching. It just is what it is. So, I can fight and kick, or I can find a way to make it work. I don't want to stop eating cookies and brownies and anything else I want in copious amounts. But, the fact is, I've gained 30 pounds and have reached a number on the scale that hasn't stared back at me since I was pregnant. And pregnant I am not. So, if I want that to change, I have to change it. Kicking and screaming about it isn't going to change the physics that my body will not change if I don't do something. I cannot alter the laws of the universe that say how what I eat affects my body. Tantrums won't help.
Change doesn't often happen around us just because we want it to. Change happens within us when we are willing to. This is not the way I hope to live my life for the next twenty years. I can't change the financial circumstances of our lives right now. But, I know where I want to be and I can change what I am doing to get there. My dream? To write. I want to go back home to be with my kids and write and be a storyteller and help pay the bills that way. That is my dream. So, if I want it to happen, I have to do something besides whine about it.
So, I will write. Sure, I'm tired. Sure, I've got a whole lot going on. But, if I want the dream of an office where I pound out essays and stories and look out a window at a lovely field. I've got to be willing to squeeze in as much reading and writing as I can.
And thing two? A Body of Light doesn't come easy. Discipleship has its price, and becoming a person of purity, submission, and self control is going to ask something of me. It will take awhile, but I know that I can and must make some profound changes in how I eat, how I think about eating, and how I think about myself eating if I want to get my body back and feel strong again.
I'll be around more. I am going to try my darndest to write every day. Stories, perhaps poems, maybe even jot down this script idea I have in my head. But, it is time for me to stop fighting and thrashing around expecting things to change. I'll accept it and swim. And I think I'll be better for it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Together Again.

Daman got the job!

We will be back together again as a family within a month. Hip Hip Hooray!

Perspective is such a wonderful thing. As we progress with stages we look back at times and wonder how we thought a certain way.

Like when I thought I was busy with a newborn that slept 3/4 of the day

Or when I thought teaching one seminary class of 26 sweet highschoolers was a draining challenge.

Or when I thought a mission was certainly the hardest thing I would ever face in my whole life.

Or when I got married and thought I loved my husband in such a deep way. I didn't know depth yet.

Or when I thought getting three kids ready and out the door to the gym by 8:30 was hard. Now it is 7:15 and I have to be dressed and showered too.

Being a stay at home mom has some draining challenges. Cooking and cleaning and planning and shopping all demand something. But, I look back now and wonder why I felt overwhelmed, because now I am doing all of those without a husband and with a job--a really demanding job. I don't mean AT ALL to say that one path is busier/harder than the other, I'm just learning so much about appreciating the stage you are in, recognizing that those challenges are unique and singular, and you never know what is going to come next. If anything these last six months have taught me, it is that there is peace in embracing the present wholeheartedly. I often forget, but when I do take things one day at a time--or one class period at a time--I begin to believe I can pretty much do whatever I set my mind to. I don't know how I will look back on this time in a few years, but I can say that I look back on these six months and as flawed as they are, I really do believe I've done my best. I've gained weight, watched more tv than I should, yelled at my kids a few times, and in general lost it more than once. But, I have not quit. I have not shirked. I have kept the faith. I have fought a good fight. And I believe I will continue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

HOPE

Faith creates hope. Hope begets charity. And charity somehow convinces us that faith is worth having. That is a precious cycle. Lately hope has been a real struggle for me. I have prayed and asked for so many things. Things that, to me, have seemed like no-brainer-will-of-God sort of things. For my husband to pick up more clients so we could move back to Virginia. . . for me to get a teaching job so we could move back to Virginia. . . for my husband's headaches to stop. . . for my husband to get a job here so we could be together . . . for strength, patience, charity. . . and hope.
And nothing.
Well, the last one I feel like comes through once in awhile. But if I don't feel it, that is my fault, not His. So, my question is, why do we keep praying when we fully recognize that only the best thing is going to happen anyway and apparently we have zip idea of knowing what that best thing is? I think the reason we keep praying is because when we pray--we hope. We are saying to God "I'm telling you what I'd like not because I'm demanding it or even because I claim to know it is exactly what we need, but this is my little way of saying that I still believe." Sure I'm crying while I'm saying it, but I do, I do still believe. I'm not sure why, but I do. So, I don't know what to pray for or ask for, but I am realizing that I can hope even if I don't have a plan. Hope can give me a steady optimism to keep asking and keep trusting and keep trying to become someone who believes when life seems utterly unbelievable.
I've never been so strained. Being a new teacher, teaching a subject I've never taught and feel like I barely grasp, handling a sprained back, kids throwing up and coming up with plans for a substitute teacher when I barely know how to make them for myself has left me completely worn out and at times. . . hopeless.

Then I Step Back.

Then I count my teeth and move my body and realize that I am lucky to be alive. I look at my children and remember that even if someone else is reading them books, at the end of the day I am still their mother. And I think of a husband that is hopeful, supportive, and trying so hard to get us back together as a family again.

I don't know who all reads this blog, but might I ask for your prayers? Daman has a job interview next Wednesday. We feel great about his chances, but the many slammed doors of the last year has left me skittish and bruised, and I feel awfully nervous. This could mean being back together as a family. This could mean having our own place to live and a bed that isn't half empty anymore. This could mean alot. I am completely comfortable with the phrase "If it be thy will" and I do not pray to change God's will. But I don't see the harm in asking Him for something that perhaps He is completely okay with giving us. So, if you could keep us in your prayers, I'd be grateful. It could be a very good day. Come what may. I have hope, and I believe that is a gift that God will always give us.

Have a hopeful day.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remember Me???

Remember this post?

My grit is spent.

I am not in the business of comparing crosses and I know that life throws curveballs with completely objective equality. But I am not above saying that this curveball stinks.

I've been a high school teacher now for a couple of weeks and have two whole days of teaching under my belt. They went fairly well, but the chaos of getting kids to school/preschool in the morning, packing lunches, making meals, teaching, grading, prepping, being enthusiastic about spanish, picking kids up, making a dinner, spending quality time, and then prepping to do it all again rendered me completely useless this weekend. And somehow I'm trying to squeeze exercise into the mix. What a mix it is.

And then my four year old says her throat hurts. And I break down. It isn't that I think she is really sick. It is that I have to worry about getting a sub, and I can't just stay home and keep an eye on her. I've never realized how much I have loved being home with my children. It is a precious gift. It is exhausting, draining, repetitive, thankless, and messy. But, now that someone else is spending 8-9 hours a day watching my little girls laugh, twirl, and play, all I can feel is loss. It is breaking my heart.

I generally can take it all one day at a time. If I think about the next ten months of this single working mom gig it knocks me over. So, I won't. I will pray. I will try to trust God and stop asking why our family has to go through this. I've given up anticipating any sort of change. I keep thinking that each time I have a sort of clarifying revelation, that I would have learned that magic lesson this was all designed to teach me. And so it would end. Daman would get a job down here and we'd be able to live together as a family, and while it wouldn't become magically easy, it would get much closer to happily bearable.

And still, I am thankful. I am thankful that my children are alive, active, and healthy. I am not sitting by their bedside in a hospital. My husband is distant, but alive and well. I believe God is in His heaven and feels the pain of our little family. I do not feel abandoned. I feel confused, strained, and pulled. But, I do not feel despair. Gratitude, I believe, will get us all through this. And get through it we will. What choice is there? The home-cooked meals might be few and far between. My laundry pile might get awfully large. But, we will pray together. We will not give up our faith. I might lose my temper, my patience, and large chunks of my mind. But, I will not lose my faith. And I will not lose my family.

Maybe I haven't lost my grit after all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

An Unlikely Peace

Yesterday was a very hard day for me. The reality of the path set before me sort of settled in and a sharp sadness followed. Another ten months of living separate from my husband, my children in childcare and going from being a single mother to being a single working mother felt a bit overwhelming. I was sad, weak, and tired. But, through it all, I continue to feel a settling peace. I believe that is a language only God can speak. Satan can duplicate all sorts of emotions, and we can sometimes convince ourselves of a variety of responses, but only God can deliver a true, constant, peace. And that is what I feel. I feel at peace. That doesn't mean I don't feel sad about it. And I don't think sadness weakens faith. Perhaps it only enhances it. Perhaps when we are sad and are still willing to move forward, we earn an even greater trust with the Lord. I hope that He trusts that I will do what He asks. Perhaps with shaky knees and a trembly heart, but I will try. I will try.


And on the flip side, I am SO happy about someone else potty-training Emma. That is a serious bright side.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

decisiones y preguntas

It looks like I am going to be a teacher. A Spanish teacher. Como? I know. This is quite a turn of events, a turn I certainly would never have anticipated, but one I seem to feel oddly at peace with. I can't really explain this sense of serenity I have about a direction that in some ways seems to make no sense. I mean, I have my Masters in ENGLISH Lit, right?

But, the thing is, there are so many English majors and they all seem ready and willing to teach high school. But suddenly, up popped an opening in the Spanish department at my old high school. It will take some work and prep to pass a big competency test in October, but I interviewed today with the principal and it looks like we are a go.

This means daycare for my kids. This means ten more months of not living with my husband. This means I have no idea what God has in store for us. But, it also means some income, some productivity, and I get to have a taco party with a bunch of high school kids and enthusiastically help them learn the hacer verb and all it can do for them in their lives. Glorious.

So, will this be a blessing wrapped in another character building experience that makes no sense? I have no idea. But, I really do feel good about this. I have never wanted to work full-time. I really do love staying at home with my kids. Is there guilt? Of course. Good grief I cried almost every time I gave Lucy a bottle when I couldn't make breastfeeding work. But, the moment that changed that whole I-am-a-terrible-mother-for-filling-my-child-with-demon-formula mindset still holds true today. As I was letting my sweet girl sup her artificially contrived beverage, I sang to her. I sang "Teach Me To Walk in the Light of His Love." And suddenly I realized something very vital.

That song does not mention breastfeeding.

I realized that there are so many beautiful, powerful, and loving ways that I care for my children, that I raise them in light and truth. And that was the last time I felt guilty about not being a decent jersey cow for my kids. I give it my best effort, but I am happy to accept that said effort is good enough.

I think that principle applies now. I am realizing that as many children as there are in this world, there are that many good ways to raise them. Every single person learns, parents, serves, guides, and progresses in their own unique way. I stand in judgment of noone. This little path of mine isn't what I envisioned, and I probably wouldn't have picked it out of a lineup. But, it is mine, all mine, and I plan to run it in the best way I know how. And I have a funny feeling that everything will be just fine if I do.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Solo Time

Once in awhile I get them. Strokes of genius. Of course other times I worryI might get another kind of stroke, but this was a good 'un.




For the last week or so I've been spending a half hour of solo time with Isaac after the two little ladies were in bed. We've played Monopoly (he trounced me) and watched Disney channel and in general reminded each other how cool we are and how fun it is to hang out. Then, I had the idea to spread the joy. So, we've begun the rotation. Two go to bed, one stays up with me for a half hour for whatever they want to do. Last night, Lucy and I played Fancy Nancy. Tonight, Emma and I had ice cream and she put stickers on my legs. Fabulous.


As I was spending time tonight with Emma, a thought ran across my brain, that perhaps this is what the Lord wants when He asks us to "draw near unto Him." Maybe He just wants some solo time. In all His omnipotence, He is available for personal time whenever we want. I have no idea how that works, but I do feel confident that when I pray, I have His attention, no matter how many other millions of worthy souls are clamoring for comfort and communication as well. In that moment, I am truly important to Him. And that is how We will come to know each other. That is how I can be reminded how wonderful He is, and He can hear, from me, all about my day, my fears, my joys, and the deep thoughts in my heart that only He can understand. That is a pretty precious solo time for this daughter and her Father. I think I can make more of it.



I am so grateful to be a mother. It teaches me about God every day. I have three hilarious, creative, loud, energetic, bright, happy kids. And I really love being their mother, especially every night between 8 and 8:30 over a bowl of ice cream and a game of Monopoly.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Therewith To Be Content*

I am really grateful for the last 3 months of my life.

Here is what I am grateful for:

-My children are healthy, bright, creative, and relatively well-adjusted
-I have abandoned the habit of wasting time searching for houses in areas that I think we might one day be interested in living
-I have learned that beating yourself up about past decisions is a complete and utter waste of mortality. We do the best we can and then we move on. I have wondered if we made ill-informed decisions that have thrust us into less than ideal circumstances, but then I remember that every step of the way we have searched, pondered, prayed, and done our very best. And I believe God would have stopped us if our direction had been bad. In these last few months, perhaps learning has been more important than success.
-My marriage is stronger. We appreciate each other more. We love each other more deeply. We laugh and enjoy and have become prolific texters. I have a fabulous, caring, sensitive, funny, and super hot husband. And I think I know that more today than I did three months ago.
-I have a profoundly generous mother who lets us live with her, reacts gracefully when my children break her things, and is trying hard to be positive as she watches her daughter grapple with some very difficult things. In some ways we look at life in far different ways, but I have learned how blessed I am to have such a generous mother.

In short, I have become a better person in the last few months, and I don't know that this growth would have been possible in any other way. I don't anticipate that we are moving out of this phase anytime soon. And that is okay. I think that perhaps what I am most grateful for is that I am living in the present more now than I every have before. I am truly taking each day for what it is. Perhaps it will go well, perhaps it will not. Perhaps my kids will be calm, quiet, and love all my ideas. . . but most likely they will not. And still, life goes on. Still, I can glorify God. I can be content. He has brought me a long way in learning how to do that. I feel a new tranquility settling into my soul. That is a miracle. God is a God of miracles. Even the ones we thought we didn't want.



*PHILIPPIANS 4:11

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hidden Treasures

I've learned something important lately.

It isn't all about me.
It isn't even all about my kids, my family, or my body.

Really, it is all about God.

I've been straining and striving to get it all right, to pull it all together, to somehow valiantly rise above this dark time in our lives. I've been consumed by what I am becoming, doing, being. These are not bad focuses, but the motivation is a bit off. Maybe I've wanted to do good things so that on the other end of this I can look back with pride and say "Now look how awesomely I handled that." (I guess I can create my own adverbs when speaking with hindsight) But, that really isn't the point. The point is to say, look how beautifully the Lord carried me through this. Look how patient He was. And look what He created.

If I keep my eye single to HIS glory, and not mine, I am certain that I will be happy. I will be filled with light. That sounds so nice. I believe in God. I cherish His words in the scriptures. And while I have striven to be obedient amidst strains and struggles, I have not truly submitted. I have not sought to glorify Him. I have not consistently turned my life to Him. I have prayed when I haven't felt like it. I have read my scriptures, aching to believe the promises within. I have tried, succeeded, failed, and tried again. And still I rise again. . .

God lives. He loves. And He knows. He knows that if we live a life that glorifies Him, that will be a life filled with love, light, and hope. So, I am going to try to do that more, stripping my life of anything that blocks that view, and begin to live again. . . not just survive.*




*I learned that from WALL-E

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What If Wednesday. . . .

What if I truly treated my body as a temple?

When Christ instituted the Sacrament before His suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary, He said to His disciples, when passing them the bread, "Take, eat: this is my body." This strikes me as very profound. In a time when His soul was about to be torn with pain and then His body equally wounded, He was teaching His disciples to remember Him in a very tangible way, telling them that His body would be torn, His blood would be spilled, and they should remember that forever.

That tells me what an integral part our body plays in our ability to truly come unto Christ. His body was as critical in His role as the Savior of the World as His unblemished Spirit. The spirit and the body is the soul of man. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:15) Together they learn, together they worship, together they progress. And if our body progresses without our spirit, then our soul is not truly growing. Likewise, if our spirit is growing and straining while our body atrophies, then our soul is left stretching between them, without progression.

This is where I have been. I have been reading, praying, thinking. . . and eating. In the stress of these last few months I have felt hopeless, frustrated, angry, and alone. So, I have tried to do what I thought was best. I have read my scriptures. I have kept saying my prayers. I have written in my journal. But, in my moments of despair, I have also numbly eaten through the struggle. And it has dampened my soul. I have realized that if I neglect my body, I cannot truly learn what I need to learn or grow how I need to grow. Treating my body so poorly damages my soul and has left me feeling depressed and out of control.

So, what if it stopped? It is going to. Sometimes it feels really impossible to get back to where I used to be physically. But, I believe in the Atonement's miraculous power of change, and that applies to both body and spirit. I want it to be fast, immediate, and wonderful. But, all I really have in this life is time, right? So, I take a big breath and try to trust that though it will take time, the process will work.

What does feeding a temple as it deserves to be fed look like? Here's what I think and plan to do. I plan to focus on whole foods from four food groups: Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Legumes. I am cutting out some major trigger foods that do me simply no good at all: sugar, processed flour, dairy, and animal products. Science backs me up on this, but it is also something I feel really good about. I think if I truly cleanse my body, then there will be a shift in my cravings, not just in food, but in so many things. I think my body will crave more light, more learning, more love, and more joy. I think my soul will come together with a greater power to worship the Lord and fill my life with His light.

I realize everyone has different plans and approaches and just like everything in life, there are countless ways to do good things. For me, this is also a cleansing experiment. How different could I feel if I really only put wholesome things into my body? We shall see.

And, oh, thank goodness for chocolate soy milk and luna bars. . . just saying.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I don't care. .

if it was the day after I fasted.

or if I was only wearing a towel.

or if I had just run thirty minutes (ahem, on the hills setting on the treadmill. . .may I say.)


The scale said I had lost two pounds, and it is the first time in many moons that the scale has gone down and not up. If there was a notary that would've felt comfortable standing next to me in only a towel, I would have had them make it official. I am taking it and running. I am a realistic gal, so I don't aim to lose big next week, in fact maintaining would be grand. But for today, I lost.

I am a rockstar.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

This Above All.

So many people have so many ideas about how everyone else should live their lives, wear their clothes, cut their hair, and pursue happiness. And too often, I listen to them. The other day, when I was running, I found a strong, steady rhythm. And it was all mine. There is a lesson there.

We cannot live completely independent of other people. Life is an experience in teamwork and compassion. But still, we must honor ourselves. And that means accepting our weaknesses, our strengths, and all the unique opportunities that come with them. I have to do this my way. I really like movies. I love books. I am not naturally someone who likes to do the exact same thing every day. I don't like group exercise, and I really don't like a hectic, busy schedule. I like hard work, but in a steady, nice rhythm. And I have a rotten tendency to sometimes blame other people for things that really only I can control.

When I was in labor with Emma, I was a rockstar in relaxation. And then it came time to push. I was terrified. I hate that part. I honestly felt like I was going to tear in two. The pain paralyzed me. I couldn't push through it. I couldn't make my body push. I was crying and trying and telling everyone to stop telling me to try harder. I thought that my body would just push her out if given enough time. Or I thought someone could surely just pull her out. Then a new nurse came in. She put her hand on my knee and said, "This baby needs out. Now." Suddenly I realized that my baby was in danger and the only one who could help was me. She had flatlined and she needed to be born. She became more important than the fear. In two strong pushes she was out. And only I could have done it.

Sometimes I think somehow someone else will make things better. I whine and cry and feel trapped and helpless in my body. The truth is my eating is the reason I've gained weight in the last year. I've let the stress and strain of our lives send me to food. And only I can stop that. If I don't like the direction I am heading, then only I can do something to change that. I can't sit around and wait for someone else. I can't believe that somehow I can just keep doing what I am doing and I will get what I want. If I want change, I have to change.

So I aim to. The past is in the past. I can beat myself up about it, or I can move on. I choose to move on. I choose to push through the fear, because I am more important than the fear. And only I can really push through it. I will do it. I will do it my way. And when I emerge on the other side, I will be stronger, happier, and wiser for it. What fears will you push through?

I will be true to myself. I will be honest with myself. I will trust myself. And I will be better for it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Surrendering

So, what keeps you from doing it?

How do you keep going in the face of whatever it is that is hammering you?

How do you buckle-proof your knees?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Please Oh Please Oh Please Oh Please. . .





I found a job. And I really really want it.



It is here.


I just found out about it today, and it could be a wonderful answer to many prayers and efforts at patience. They need an English teacher who knows about American and British Literature. Small classes, daycare on-site, full benefits, and more latitude to create and explore. Oh, this could be wonderful. I actually feel excited about teaching for the first time since I've had to consider going to work full-time as a teacher. This could be wonderful.



So, is it shallow to ask for prayers? Well, call me a kiddie pool then because I am going to do it. God's will be done, I trust Him implicitly. But I feel like stumbling upon this job opportunity today might have been a sweet tender little mercy from Him and He might be on board with letting it work out. So, I'm happy to let Him know that I'd be completely okay with that. I'd appreciate you letting Him know too.



And by the way, I had a really awesome workout today that was revelatory in its own special way as well. More later.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Dreamed a Dream. . .

So, like every fifteen year old girl (right?) I had a dream list for my life. I also wrote a letter to my future husband to be opened on our wedding day. . . did anyone else do that? Okay, and yes I also wrote a letter to New Kids on the Block--adding a separate note to Joey individually telling him that he was my favorite but swearing him to secrecy not to tell that to the other boys because I wouldn't want to be all Ono and break up the band with fights for my affection. Deep breath. I feel so much better now. Glad that is out there.

I digress.

My dream list:
-go to BYU (check--but changed to SVC. . which changed my life)
-be an EFY counselor (check)
-get married (check)
-be a published author (kind of? I did win a recipe contest and got my hummus veggie pizza posted in the Lowe's circular)
-be on Broadway (okay, I'm kind of letting that dream go. It is for the better, but I do sing broadway tunes every day to my children. . check)
-be really happy (well, that one wasn't on my list, but that is kind of the point isn't it?)
Let's talk about that last one. Be really happy. Of all the dreams we map and plan, isn't that one at the top, even if it isn't written there? Maybe I should have put it first, so that I would realize that day to day, year to year, dreams shift. Other people enter our lives with needs and hopes that we never factored in when we were fifteen years old. We have kids. We have heartbreak. We have moments of realization that completely blindside us. But, what it all shakes down to is that we want to be happy. I've kind of forgotten that.

One of my favorite novels ever is Middlemarch by George Eliot. I think the whole beast of a novel is about one thing: Ideals and Their Dangers. There are three main love stories in this novel and two of them get pretty twisted and painful because the characters won't release what they belive they should want, should love, should strive for. They are intent upon what they think they should be instead of just being. We do that. I do anyway. I used to be alot of things. And I used to have alot of dreams. But, the day to day has sort of swallowed them. And my ideas? They sometimes take the shape of a 2X4 with which to beat myself for falling short. What a waste. I think that I need to get back in touch with that fifteen year old girl who made a list, wrote notes to boy bands, and went barefoot at school. It is time for a new dream list. And it is time to relinquish the ideal person/mother/wife that I think I should be and realize that the greatest gift I can give my family is a person/mother/wife that is sublimely happy in that moment, pursuing her dreams, supporting them in theirs, and in all ways living one moment at a time, determined to enjoy it.

Maybe I should write Joey Joe again. He is probably wondering why he hasn't heard from me. I hope he isn't too mad at me for getting married.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back To School






I am a scholar again. Well, an online one anyway. I have decided to pursue getting my teaching license, and found that the college in town offers some online courses to that end. So, I am reading and posting and learning all about education technology and philosophy. It is exciting to be back in that groove. Though when I was originally in that groove, I was sitting in a cool classroom with a beefy novel in my hand discussing Jane Eyre, Flannery O'Connor, and Alexander Pope. Now, I'm cuddling my feverish daughter while still trying to reach a keyboard to post my thoughts on the class forum discussion. Things change. But, it feels nice to have a direction, and I think this is a good one. I was smart once, you know. I'll get there again. And the cuddling will help I'm sure.

Monday, May 23, 2011

There is No Fear in Love

Perfect love casteth out all fear. Love of what? Our love of God gives us the courage to believe in Him when it seems completely hopeless. Our love of one very special person drives away the fear of hurt, failure, and the unknown enough to let us give ourselves to them for eternity. Our love for children overpower our fear of sleepless nights, pain, sorrow, and sickness. Love trumps all. If we let it.

In all this love, do we love ourselves? Do I love myself enough to do what I fear? Do I believe in myself enough to accept and love myself unconditionally? Why should I?

Because if I do not feel love for the person I know better than any other, what hope do I have of truly loving anyone else? I know my flaws more intimately than anyone ever could. I am fully aware of shortcomings, failures, flaws, and downfalls. And still, only I can rise above them. And somehow, I've stopped doing that. I've allowed myself to stay trapped underneath them, only seeing the flaws when I look up and try to climb out.

Many years ago I sat in my oldest sister's high school graduation. She was the Salutatorian, and did a wonderful job with her speech. And then the Valedictorian stood. I cannot say I remember who it was, what they said, even if it was a boy or a girl. All I remember is looking at them and deciding then and there that I was going to do that when I graduated. I was in 6th or 7th grade at the time. I determined that I would finish at the top of 8th grade and be number one when I finished high school. I tucked that dream away and went to work. I prayed about it. I did my homework. I took the right classes. I studied for the tests. I never relinquished that vision. And I got a standing ovation when I gave my Valedictorian speech. I think it was the Forrest Gump impression. Always a winner.

The point is not that I am brilliant. The point is that there was a time when I saw something I wanted and I went after it, completely convinced that I would do it. That piece of me has dimmed of late. Being a mother is a wonderful, priceless gift. But, it can swallow you. Suddenly, every achievement becomes wrapped up in how these little people talk, behave, listen, and perform. And really, I have zero control over that when it all shakes out. But, when they don't listen, I feel like a failure. When they hit each other, I feel like a failure. When they stomp and slam doors and whine, I know that it is all my fault and I wonder if anything I do is any good at all. But, what they do isn't who I am. What they do is not who I am.

I can set goals. I can achieve. I can tackle life again with adventure and hope. And I can be a better mother by doing it. Really, the most important mothering I can offer is giving my children a calm, consistent, happy example. I can show them how much I love the scriptures--because I do. I can show them how to tackle fears and discouragement with courage--because I will. And I can show them love, pure wonderful love for themselves, God, each other, and everyone else--because I will feel it.

Fear cripples us. It has crippled me. But this morning in my scripture study, I learned some wonderful things. The Spirit reminded me that God keeps His promises. God sets us free. He frees us from bondage. The bondage of debt, the bondage of sadness, the bondage of loneliness, and the bondage of fear. He has provided "some better thing for us." Today I am determined to seek that better thing. But not because I hate where I am. But because I love who I am. Who I am is pretty good. And I'm only getting better. . . .

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Thoreau Eats.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

I don't love everything about Henry David, but I do live this precept. Life gets far too busy, complicated, and messy. We have access to so much. We can watch anything, read anywhere, and keep in touch with every single person we've met since Kindergarten. It is all just a bit too much sometimes. We take thousands of pictures, record every event, and cram our lives with good stuff, mediocre stuff, hard stuff, fun stuff, and just . . . . stuff. But, what do we savor? What really feeds our souls? What really matters?

This is an intensely personal question and varies perhaps from day to day. I think there are a few things that every person would vote on to the "really matters" list: family, God, love, relationships. Of course. But, how does that break down into hourly living? How can I pace my life so that what really matters gets real time and honest attention? Because life isn't lived in sweeping gestures of prioritization. Life is lived one itty bitty minute at a time. And sometimes those minutes slip by very quickly while we are idling our engines figuring out what we want to do next. Well, I speak for myself anyway.

So, what does this have to do with eating? For me, plenty. Not only do we have immediate access to books, movies, and embarassing youtube videos, we also have unlimited access to foods of the world and hundreds, nay, thousands of opinions on how to cook/eat/prepare/buy said food. Thai. Indian. Japanese. Ethiopian. You got it. Kosher. Vegan. Raw. Grilled. Bring it on. But do we really have to eat it all? Do we have to taste every good thing in the world? I won't do every good thing there is to do in this lifetime, and I can still die happy. Do I have to eat every good thing to lead a fulfilling life? I certainly hope not.

In my loooong quest to figure out how to make food and eating and body image all work out, I've created several plans. I've even followed some of them. I know quite a bit about nutrition by now. I also know enough to know that you can find someone to support or condemn pretty much any plan you come up with. Eating involves decision making. Every bite is a decision with sometimes much too much emotional baggage informing that decision.

It is just food.

I'm fully aware that I need that sentence tatooed on my eating hand more than probably anyone reading this. But, I don't believe in tatoos, so I'll have to figure something else out. Still, I struggle with this. But, it is just food. It is fuel. And there is no reason that every day be a field trip through the gastronomical adventures this modern age has to offer. So, in the spirit of my transendental kindred spirits, I am experimenting with simplicity. I am going to cut way down on my decision making regarding food. Fewer meals, fewer decisions, fewer minutes wasted worrying and wondering. Lots of people all over the world eat basically the same food every day. There are countless other ways to fill my life with variety. Heavens my three children throw me curve balls hourly. I mean, do you know how many different ways there are to spill milk and/or break a glass? I've lost count. They keep me hopping.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

I'll keep you posted. I'll have a pocket of meal planning time wide open. Or maybe I'll use it to learn Russian.

Friday, May 20, 2011

In case you were wondering.

Giving up sugar is not easy.

And it isn't fast.

I had two great days and I've had some stumbles. But, I would like to share something very profound, important, and deep from one of the great philosophers of our time: Rocky Balboa.

Ahem.


"It ain't about how hard you can hit. It's about hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done."


Thank you Rocky. I really wish you were a real person.



Moving on. . .



Thursday, May 19, 2011

So. . . . .

I just ate about 10 mini chocolate chip cookies. But, they were totally all-natural, full of evaporated cane juice and whole wheat.


So, really, they were practically carrots.

Can I go to bed yet?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's not you, it's me.

Today I did something I've never done before.

Don't worry no laws or commandments were broken.

I walked out halfway through an aerobics class. It wasn't because I was injured, tired, or lazy. I just didn't like it. Let's make this clear: I like exercise. I like sweating and moving and pushing myself. I just don't like doing it in a room with a bunch of other people. And as I was grapevining around the room I suddenly realized that there was no reason for me to do this. So I left. I took my water bottle and went to the treadmill. And boy did I have a good run. Because that was exactly what I wanted to do.

When I was in high school, I "played" volleyball. By playing I mean I put on knee pads and served really well, and of course was an 5'11" intimidation force at the net. Until they got a look at my 2 inch vertical. Anyway, I hated it. I hated the coach. I didn't like the drills. Team sports and I don't do well because even if I am nowhere near the ball, I am almost certain that everything is my fault. I am too much of an internalizer to handle team competition. We were in a playoff game, and if we won we would head to the Regionals. Everyone was cheering, and hoping. Me? I was on the sidelines praying we would lose, because that would mean the season was over. Suddenly I thought, "Why am I doing this to myself?" We lost. And I turned in my kneepads. And yet still, I have led a fairly productive life.

I too often sign up, join in, and play along because I am certain that I should. I should like something. I should be good at something. But, what if I don't? Aren't there plenty of people who like volleyball? Can't some other section of the female population handle the quilting demands of the world? I certainly hope so. I am all for stretching, striving, and growing. But, if I don't want it, I'll hate myself for failing at it. If I want it, that is a whole different animal. If I want it, failure is a part of the process. If I want it, I'm in it for the long haul. If I want it, then I will make it happen.

So, I'm sorry Body Attack teacher. You are a very nice person who clearly loves group exercise. But, I'm a solo show when it comes to sweating. I have lots to learn and offer, but I'll learn and offer more if I do it my way, rather than the way I think I should. And the same goes for you I'm guessing. So, consider this our permission slip to let go of the "should" projects and embrace the "I've always wanted to. . . " ones. This will be much more fun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gobble Gobble Gobble. . . .

This is me. Going Cold Turkey.
I don't expect anyone else to understand this or do this or care about this. But, I feel directed to both do it and write about it. Truth is, we all have hard things that we are doing, feel inspired to do, dread doing, and are waiting around summoning the courage to do. This is mine.

I have felt prompted often that my body, health, and happiness will go to a new level if I give up refined sugar and flour. Drastic? Perhaps. And I've talked myself out of it several times. But the fact remains that when I have done it, I feel fabulous. And then I snitch. And then I slide. And then I binge. And every time I read and pray and ask for guidance, I feel the same thing.

So, I am embarking on a new adventure. My first 100 days begins now. I am going to focus on what I WILL eat, what I WILL do, how I WILL live, not on the "no" list. I will eat superfoods. I will exercise. I will write what I feel. I will eat three meals a day. I will fill my time with joy, work, service, and fuel myself with food for my life, not live my life for food. And if you care to know, I'll write about it here. I have thought that this is perhaps the worst possible time to embark on such a challenge. I am surrounded by the food of my past, a tv in every room, and the stress of a family divided and an unknown financial future. But, perhaps if I can do it now, I can do it forever. And perhaps God is whispering this to my soul because He knows that I will grow in important ways when I conquer this fixation and sense my own strength. This process will invite and Christ into my life in fundamental ways. I will need him to heal me, help me, and give me a vision and hope. I know He will.

So, I will begin. I won't expect perfection, but every day I will try. I will remember what I am doing, how far I have come, and why I want to go farther. Every day in this body of mine is a precious gift. I am grateful that the Atonement gives me the capacity to change. And I intend to.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Time-Out



This is a crazy time in our lives right now, so sorry if you won't hear from me for awhile (All ten of you that peek in) I think I need to trim life down to the bare essentials, and stop blogging while I figure out what that means. I do enjoy writing, but I need it to be for me right now. Pressing forward in faith. . . . most of the time. God bless.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Throwing away goal pants.

It isn't that I'm giving up. Quite the opposite.

It is just that I've decided that I am bruised from beating myself up, and it is time to let those heal. I have some serious changes that I want to make, but I don't know where my body will go as I make some fundamental shifts. More than pounds to lose, I know that I need to reassess my relationship with food, my body, and myself. Perhaps this journey is too close, real, and intimate to launch into the blogsphere. But, I've read comments on several posts that have made me feel that something in this ride resonates with others. I think more than any diet regime, workout secret, or perfect meal plan, lots of people need peace. We need to be okay with ourselves. We need to seek growth without scorning where we are. That ain't easy. So, I'm going to run my race. Hebrews tells me to run with patience the race set before me, and that is the only race I can really run. Others run faster, farther, and go in their own direction. I can't compare, and I'm done competing. This is my race, you're welcome to join me as you run yours.


PS--I promise that I won't always be serious. Honestly, I can be funny. You should see me laugh at myself. I am a hoot.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

True Grit.

We all face gritty moments. By gritty I mean that life throws us challenges that make us dig inside and see how much grit we can summon. Can we keep on? Will we rise and meet or give up and hide? Do we have the resolve to grit our teeth and press forward? My mother has grit. My grandmother had grit. My great grandmother and great great grandmother had it too. They raced for land, lived in dugouts, went back to school to be a nurse, cared for sick husbands and orphaned brothers and sisters, opened their own businesses, limped through life with disability, and faced disappointments in life, nature, people, and hope. But, they faced them.

Once when I was training for a marathon I had a very long run that felt even longer than the 19 miles I was supposed to go that day. For whatever reason, I felt particularly weak in the legs and heart. I was slogging through the miles, wondering if this was really worth it at all. I was tired, body and soul. Then they came.

As I ran, I felt Meme, Nanny-no, and Grandmother Sullins watching me in pride and joy. I felt these women, who shouldered so much and endured so well, looking at me with smiles and encouragement. It lifted me. I saw myself doing something very hard. And doing it was going to make me more like them. I felt them telling me not to quit, not to shrink, and not to turn back. I thought of my Meme, limping along with her twisted hips, watching her granddaughter taking strides and running miles. I saw my Nanny-no, imagining her as my mother described her, standing on the porch, wringing her apron, expressing concern when my mother was running late, and somehow producing a meal from her slim pantry to feed whoever needed feeding. And Grandmother Sullins, whom I met only as a baby, carving out her life in the dugout in Oklahoma. And they were cheering for me. They had done hard things. Lots of them. And so could I.

Life is full of hard things. Running a marathon is easy compared to many of them. Our shoulders get tired, our eyes get wet, and our hands hang down. Those are the gritty moments. And at those moments, when we feel most alone, I believe it is when we are far from it. Angels surround and Christ upholds. He dries the tears and lifts the hands. He strengthens the shoulders and makes us more. I believe in Him. And I believe Him. I know that as I face a gritty moment in life, I have heavenly helpers cheering for me again. They see my heavy heart. They see my resolve, my weakness, and my faith urging me forward. They believe in me. I believe in me. I believe that Jesus Christ loves me. I know that His love brought him lower than I will ever know, suffering in ways I cannot imagine. And He did it for me. He did it so that when I am tired, weak, alone, or hurt, He will know how to give me energy, strength, love, and healing. He lives. The Great Redeemer lives. He sends us each other, He sends us hope. My grit runs pretty deep, several generations even, but it isn't that grit alone that will carry me. My resolve to hold on to my own strength won't get me far, but my resolve to never, ever let go of my Savior will carry me forever.

So thanks Meme. Thanks Nanny-No. Thanks Grandmother Sullins. I'll keep running.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Changing Lanes

Plans are funny things.

Trust me, I've had alot of them lately. . . . but I'm having a hard time laughing sometimes.

Remember this post? The Master Gardener has been doing some trimming around these parts. We are not perfect, but I feel like we try really hard to do our best. We obey. We fall short. We keep trying. And along the way we pray. We have fasted and prayed for some certain things to work out. But we also prayed that our faith would increase if they didn't.

They didn't.

So now we face some difficult lane changes. Our family has to be apart for a few months until we can get on our feet. The kids are excited for our awesome "vacation" and we plan on lots of skype. But, I don't know if I really understand yet how hard it is going to be. And still I feel peace. I feel good. I hug Daman more and am trying to make these next two weeks as happy and wonderful as I can, building up lots of good memories and energy to prepare for some scratchy transitions. Everything will be fine. We'll have wonderful adventures with Grandma and Daman will get all the chicken pot pies he can handle. The Lord will bless us with peace, energy, and success. I know it. He understands the long runs, we sometimes can only deal with the sprinting. But, a good set of sprints makes us stronger and faster, and I trust that the Lord will take this challenging turn and work it for our good, in ways that I cannot even imagine. Plans change, but He does not. He loves us. He loves my children. He hears my prayers, and He hears yours.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trusting in the Lord

. . . with all my heart

is sometimes really really hard.

I know God lives. I know He loves. And I know He tells the truth. I hope anyone reading this knows that too. Trust on.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What If Wednesday. . . .

What if I colored my hair purple, ignored the dishes, let my children eat/watch/wear/do whatever they want, threw every dietary goal out the window and just sat in the sun reading Jane Austen, Annie Dillard, Ivan Doig, and Dave Barry all day???

I don't know either.



But I probably won't try.



I'd have to do my roots twice a month.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm getting a new elephant.


So, you know the twenty pound elephant I've been chewing on? I'm spitting it out.

Here's the thing--my scale is determined to drive me to cliffs of insanity and perhaps off them. I promise. This is what happens: I step on the scale, it blinks at me and gives me a number. I don't like that number very much, so I yell at it and step off. Then, I give it another try, carefully positioning my feet in exactly the same place. It blinks. Magic! I've lost four pounds! So, did I? Did I gain? Did I lose? Does this scale think it is doing me a favor by lying to me? Don't toy with me little machine, I have a hammer and a destructive four year old and I know how to use both of them. . . sort of.

I've been rethinking that perhaps judging my success by those numbers alone is a little unwise. What other measures are there? There are several, but none of them are as quick as weighing in every week and seeing the numbers shrink. Unless of course you have a psychotic scale that delights in toying with your mind. (I am really taking this personally)

I am revamping.

I have never run for a time goal. I finish, and I am content. But, I think I've become enough of a runner to set some higher, faster goals. But to get faster, I will have to get lighter. See how that works? If I reach my speed goals, I am pretty sure my weight goals will follow. And if I follow my plan and zip up those elusive khaki pants I've had in my closet for at least a year, I bet any normal, non-sadistic scale will tell me what I want to hear.

It will still take one bite at a time. It will take more patience to believe my body is changing without weighing myself in every week. I will try on the pants every month. I will run three miles in 27 minutes. I will do a 10K in under 56 minutes. To some of you, these might seem paltry, sluggish goals. To you, I say, with all my heart. . . please go eat a plate of brownies and take a nap.

To everyone else trying to nibble away at an elephant, I say throw your scale out the window too. Celebrate that there are so many other things that matter about you. It isn't all about the number. It isn't all about the plan. Choose what you want to measure. Pants, push-ups, pace, or performance. Just make it something that won't beat you down or drive you crazy. That defeats the whole purpose.


(As a note, I recognize that weight is really important, and my weekly dates with the scale helped me shed more than fifty pounds, so if it is working for you, awesome. Weight can be a great gauge, it just isn't the only one.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gardening Thoughts. . . that aren't really about gardening.


I've been thinking a lot about bushes today.


Not sure if anyone else has realized this, but sometimes we just don't get what we want.

Sometimes jobs don't come through, teams don't win, children don't sleep, and plans don't work. And sometimes we can take that in stride with an uplifted chin and a resolute faith. But sometimes our chin trembles and our fists are uplifted instead, shaking angrily and asking, "WHY??"

I've heard of a currant bush who had that question. There is a story you can find here about a man who was doing some major landscaping and found a currant bush that had been left unattended and wild. It had become more of a tree than a bush, and produced no fruit at all. Out came the clippers. Soon, it was small and bare and as the gardener stepped back he seemed to hear it whimper and ask why--why would you cut me when everything was going so well? Here was his answer:

"Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn't intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, 'Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener."
(Hugh B. Brown, Council of the Twelve Apostles, LDS Church)

I think we have all been currant bushes from time to time. I've had painful cuts in the past, but I have come to say thank you for each one of them. I have come to know and trust the Lord in a very deep way. It is not easy to be trimmed. It is not easy to be changed. But, I am learning that if I want to become the woman and disciple the Lord knows I can become, I must hand over the gardening tools. I must trust. I must trust that every trim is made with love. Every upheaval is done with purpose. Every change is for the better. Paul tells us, "In every thing give thanks." When he says every thing, I think he means just that. It gives me great comfort to know that the Gardener doing the pruning is motivated absolutely by love. My chest might tighten, my will might wobble, but I love the Lord and I trust in His love for me. Thank you Mr. Gardener, thank you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What If Wednesday. . . .

What if I could move on as quickly as my kids?

I've been making some real progress lately in patience, acceptance, and general unflappability. Today was a two-steps-back kind of day. Maybe spending too long happily observing turtles and copulating frogs did something to my brain. "Look Mom--there is a baby on her mommy's back!" Yep. You got it Isaac. Isn't that cute?

I digress.

Too much screaming in the van. Too much carrying Emma while pushing Lucy in the stroller. Too little food. And Isaac just would not let go of Lucy's bike ribbon. She screamed, I suggested she ask nicely. She screamed "Pleeeeeezzz!" He smiled. I stopped the car and hollered, "Isaac, LET GO OF HER BIKE! HOW MANY TIMES DOES SHE HAVE TO ASK YOU?" The ribbon was dropped and I could tell that my shot had landed. He sunk back in his seat, a little wounded. I apologized, and said I'd clean the toilet when I got home (that is our new immediate consequence for yelling or hurting. . . we have a very clean toilet)

Things were tense for awhile. Then, he made a funny face at Lucy. She laughed. He laughed. I laughed. And he moved on. Giggling ensued and we were shortly jamming out to High School Musical again (don't judge). I thought to myself, what if I could let go that quickly? If Daman impatiently barked at me like that, I would cower, sulk, and scoot away from him for at least two days. I would accept his apology with a shrug and fester for awhile before moving on. He's never yelled at me, but I have certainly done my fair share of festering. What if I just moved on? What if I accepted apologies, shrugged off sharpness, and moved on with love and laughter. Sometimes when my kids are stubborn and tell me they hate church, I wonder what Christ could have meant when He describes children as meek, humble, and submissive. But, then I get it. Then I screw up and when I apologize at bedtime, I get a loving dismissal, a shrug, and a "Don't worry about it Mom, just try harder tomorrow." That has happened.

I will Isaac. Thanks for your patience.

Boy, have I got a lot to learn.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Backyards and Front Porches

The other day at the gym I pulled a trainer aside for a quick check-in. I've never trained with her before, but she's always working with someone when I'm exercising so we've become friends that smile each other even though we don't know each other's name. I still don't know her name. I told her I wanted to lose about 20 pounds, and she gave me this shocked look and then a quick scan up and down. "Are you sure?" she said. "Where?" Then I hugged her and had her write down her name so I could name my next child after her. Well, I should have.

I get this reaction sometimes when I mention that I want to lose weight. Being tall covereth a multitude of sins. I could have stripped down and shown her my thighs in more detail, but I didn't think we were really that close yet. She may not see it, but I do, and I know where I want to go. Still, it is a nice reminder that though I am striving to be better, I'm not too shabby right now.

I have no idea who said it first, I just know it wasn't me, but it has been said by someone--that we often compare our backyards with everyone else's front porches. I feel the twenty pounds I'd like to shed, others see me as fit and tall. We look at everyone else in the room, certain that they have it all figured it out because that is what we see. We hear their answers in Sunday school, we see their children at their best, and we read their blogs about how much they love their children and all the wonderful food they cook/crafts they make/problems they solve.

But that is their front porch. And everyone has a backyard. I'll demonstrate:

My Front Porch:
-I have a gift for teaching
-I can come up with a fun story on the spot
-I am great at creating food from practically bare shelves and a sparse refrigerator
-I love my husband, my children, Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and a good novel

My Backyard:
-I bite my nails and pick at my toenails
-I like People magazine and Project Runway
-I often don't want to come up with a fun story on the spot
-I am terrible at returning phone calls
-I yell at my kids sometimes
-I let them watch one movie a day
-I have found a way to go to the grocery store by myself just so I can buy a chocolate croissant and scarf it down before I get home
. . . . and I could go on.

My guess is, were we architects, our backyards would be bigger than our front porches--if we were the one designing it. There is so much good in each of us, but we often stare out the backyard and only see everything we can do better. Meanwhile, there is a front porch full of wonderful things that everyone else sees, loves, and appreciates. I am determined to spend more time on the front porch. Sure, I have bad habits, weaknesses, and flaws. And sure, it looks like everyone else has it all sorted out. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they have backyards too. I don't let that diminish them, why should I let it diminish me. None of us have much of an idea what is really in anyone's lives and hearts. We just love and accept and hope for the best. If I can do that for others, I can certainly do it for myself. And I intend to try.

So, go have a seat on your front porch for awhile. I'll ignore your backyard if you'll ignore mine.