Sunday, February 22, 2009


Like you've never wanted to pretend you were Mafia. (For those of you who don't speak Mafia Italian that reads: Forget about it).

Moving on.

Several years ago I was eating dinner with a boyfriend's family. I forget what exactly we were talking about, but his grandma made a statement that I found very interesting and it's always stuck with me.

She said something along the lines of this:

"When I was your age, we really didn't think about how things felt. We just accepted the way things were and went on."

At first, I thought this was so sad. What a horrible way to go through life--not feeling! But over time my understand of her words has changed. I don't think she meant that she didn't appreciate the things she had in life, or experience sadness, or anything like that. I think she meant that she didn't dwell on it, or personalize the things that just kind of happen in life.

For example, when I was going through a particularly rough period of depression in my life, I remember telling HH all the time how unfair life was. I was constantly saying, "Today was just a really hard day. Why do things have to be so hard for me all the time!" And the things that were so hard that day would be along the lines of Sweet P spilling her milk--twice!, having to make a phone call for church, Sweet P having a major blowout, forgetting something I needed at the grocery store, hitting all red lights on the way home, HH getting home late from work, etc. You get the idea. Nothing major. It's just that I took it all personal. Everyone was out to get me. I just knew it! Everyone wanted to make my life hard.

Every unfortunate thing that happened to me was proof to me that no one cared about me. Because if someone cared, nothing bad would ever happen to me. They would make sure it didn't.

You all have someone in your life like that right? Someone who makes sure people let you change lanes on the freeway, who tells you that you're nearly out of toilet paper before you go to the store so you don't discover it five minutes after you get home, who makes sure your child never throws a tantrum in public?



Okay, so it seems really silly now, but I genuinely felt that way. What does this have to do with my old boyfriend's grandma? I think those are the kind of things she didn't think, or worry, about. That's just life being life. If you take those little things personal, you'll be far too busy partying with all Self-pity to ever recognize Joy.


I've mentioned Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff. I love that book. I need to read it again. Anyway, in her book she three guiding principles in the lives of people who are truly happy. One of these is the Law of Universal Support. Meaning, believing that the universe is out to support you--not to get you. I love that. Love it.

When I keep that mindset, I can just forget about those little things. They don't even have to be ripples in my day. They can be nothings. Or sometimes, even funny things. When I remember that the universe is supporting me, those things don't feel anywhere close to personal barbs. How could they be? Why would they be?

I am Christian so "the universe" is mainly God for me. He is my Father, so it makes perfect sense that He wants to support me. Supporting me doesn't mean removing anything that might challenge me a bit (that would mean eliminating many opportunities for growth--but that's a discussion for another day). Supporting me means providing me with the resources I need to move past challenges no matter how big or small. And I fully believe that He has, does, and will.

But we are talking "universe" here. So, I interpret that to mean that everyone and everything else is included here too. And sometimes I picture the planets and stars cheering me on with pompoms and little flags. That's just what pops into my head when I think of a "supportive universe". So I'm quirky. So what?

Have I made the connection between Old BF's g-ma and a supportive universe for you? It's there in my head, but I'm not sure if it's here in this post. But now you have a glimpse of what I'm working with when it comes to what's in my head, so you can see how this might be a challenge for me. Let me try to sum up.

Don't dwell on the unfortunate things in life. I'm not talking about major, catastrophic things--that stuff needs to be dealt with and it's okay to be sad sometimes. But things that really don't matter. Things that have no long term effect on the rest of you life, day, or moment (unless you choose to react and hold onto the negative). Let go of those things. Let them roll, like water off of a duck's back. Ducks don't get wet, you know. There's a book about it.

Okay, so the opposite of sweating the small stuff and taking it personal, is to not think about it. Accept that it happened, and move on. You can move on because you know that the universe is here for your support. Just because things aren't going exactly your way doesn't mean they're going wrong. Have faith that the universe is rooting for you and will help things to work out--just maybe not the way you thought or planned. Believe that you have a loving Heavenly Father who is watching over you, not to prevent anything bad from happening to you, but to ensure that you are provided with all you need to succeed. And He knows exactly what that is.

And if you do this, you'll open up a lot more room in your life for joy. I know it because I've done it. I still have days where I get caught up in feeling so "woe is me" and those days are just yucky and ugly. The good thing is, having experienced the peace and joy that come with believing the planets are shaking pompoms on my behalf, it's a lot easier to snap out of those bad days. And then you can't imagine the weight that's lifted off! If you aren't already doing it, give it a try. Shake off the bad and take a deep breath knowing that everyone and everything is here for you!

And picture Neptune holding up a "Go, You!" poster.

Don't you feel more supported already?

How do you "fuhgeddaboudit"? Or am I the only person who can take stuff like that personal? How do you remember that the universe is supportive and not threatening?

Thanks for all the love last week! I loved it! Keep those comments coming! Remember, this works best the more insight we have, so if you've got something to say, please share!

Have a delightful, supported week!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Show a Little Love

Love is a many splendid thing... love lifts us up where we belong... all you need is love...

Why yes, I can sing that whole song all by myself, thank you! Sometimes HH sings with me and we do a lovely duet. We have all kinds of crazy fun like that around here.

In honor of it being The Day After Valentine's Day, I thought we should discuss love this week. Love and joy certainly go hand in hand. In fact, if you type in the address for this blog incorrectly, you're likely to come up with something for the movie "Love's Abiding Joy". I haven't seen it, but I hear it's a good one.

I, for one, cannot imagine finding joy in anything without love. When I think back to the times in my life when something wonderful has happened I notice a pattern: When I was with people I love and who love me, the joy from the wonderful circumstances was multiplied; when I was alone, the joy was diminished. There's something about knowing that someone who loves you finds joy in you finding joy that makes it all the more joyful. Did that make sense? It's also true in the reciprocal. When you truly love someone, you are blessed to experience joy right along with them when they find joy.

For example, I don't really think about the awesomeness of my hands. Ever. But when Sweet P discovered her hands for the first time, she thought they were fantastic. As I watched her delight in these cool things attached to her body, I couldn't help but smile and laugh right along with her.

But I think the greatest joy love has to offer is in our demonstration of it. I'm not as good about it as once was, but I used to always leave little love notes and cards for HH to find. I know he enjoyed getting them, but I had so much fun writing them and contemplating how nice it would be for him when he discovered them. When I go out of my way to provide a new activity or outing for my kiddos, it's so much more fun because I'm doing it out of the love I have for them. I love to cook and a big part of that is because I'm cooking for my family and I want them to feel my love for them in the food I provide. You know when you find the perfect gift for someone you love and then you can hardly wait to give it to them? It's not because they'll think you're totally awesome for getting it, it's because you love them and that just makes it fun!

I would like to close with a quote from President Thomas S. Monson, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.”3 We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

"Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”"

And that would be my challenge to you as well. Find ways to express your love every day and I promise you'll find more joy.

As a little side note, if you haven't read The Five Languages of Love, I highly recommend it. It had never occurred to me that HH expressed and felt love through different actions then I do. But he does. And now it's so much easier for me to show him I love him in the way that means the most to him. Getting little loves notes is something I love. HH appreciates them, but he would greatly prefer a neck massage or a hug. Basically, this book can help you use your love-giving-energy more efficiently. And it's not just for spouses. I found it helpful with other people I feel close to as well.

How do you show your love to those around you? How do you like love to be shown to you? What is it about love that provides so much joy? How do you find time to demonstrate your love to the important people in your life? Any ideas for showing love to people that don't live near you? Do you love me? Just kidding! Of course you do!



Sunday, February 8, 2009

Slooooow Doooowwn!

You were supposed to read that in a really low voice, like in a movie where things go into slow motion and someone yells, but their voice is slowed down as well. I hope you read it correctly. If not, go back and do again.

Great. Now, I want to thank my little sister for sending me this fantastic article. Thanks, Meg!

Of Crockpots & Microwaves
-Craig L. Israelsen

Life presents us with more than a few ironies. These inconsistencies are sometimes very obvious. Occasionally they are very subtle and we may actually misinterpret, or miss, the irony involved. Missing the essence of what is taking place can often lead to confusion or frustration. Take, for example, the rapid technological developments in the latter half of the twentieth century. Specifically, let us consider the numerous devices and appliances found in many of today's homes, such as phones, washing machines, dryers, copy machines, stoves, electric irons, computers, furnaces, microwave ovens, etc.

Given all these time-saving inventions we should have an abundance of time to devote to children, spouses, reading, and other noble pursuits. Ironically, rather than perceiving an abundance of time many individuals today feel stressed and harried due to a supposed lack of time. Worse yet, many feel a nagging lack of meaning in their busy lives. Remedies for this ironical ill include (ironically) slowing down, gaining perspective, modifying expectations, and engaging in meaningful activities.

Slowing down. Inasmuch as adding "time-saving" appliances to the home has not produced vast increases in "leisure" time the flip-side logic would seem to suggest that if homemakers slowed down they may actually have more time. Answer irony with irony. Slowing down simply suggests that we savor more of what we do. If the choice is between being stressed out while attempting to do it all and enjoying fewer, yet more important, activities the choice seems fairly obvious.

Perspective. Perspective is our attitude, outlook, position, or viewpoint. Gaining perspective suggests that we occasionally need an attitude adjustment, a different outlook, a clearer position, or a clarified viewpoint. One clarified viewpoint might be that simply being busy will not necessarily produce meaning. Moreover, being too busy with unproductive or unworthy activities or events can rob our lives of meaning. In his book "Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward" Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed that:

"Some of us in our busyness end up knowing each other as functions instead of as individuals. It is difficult to love a function or to regard a robot. Knowing takes time. Being too busy and being too lazy mean there will be some great associational adventures we will never have."

A spiritually-nourished perspective will remind us to put people (particularly little people) ahead of schedules. Inasmuch as interpersonal relationships are long-lasting they should be the primary focus of our business (i.e. "busy-ness"). Perspective allows us to see a bigger picture while living the smaller, daily details. Perspective helps us avoid being "caught in the thick of thin things".

Expectations. Why aren't time-saving household devices freeing up our time? Perhaps it is our persistently high expectations. Given the appliances available to us we now expect to have cleaner and more neatly pressed clothing, cleaner floors and carpets, more communication via phone and fax, more flyers and handouts to distribute, more variety in our meals, ...and the list goes on.

Homemakers today spend as much time in household maintenance as homemakers did 40 years ago. Has technology failed us? No. Expectations have simply risen with every technological improvement. And they continue to rise. In short, we are hard to please. Whatever the present level of technology, it will not be high enough. Does this imply that we should not have high expectations or standards of excellence? Certainly not. A person-sensitive perspective will assist us in knowing when high expectations are appropriate and, conversely, when high expectations may begin to sabotage relationships.

Technology is exhilarating...and intoxicating. While it can open up new opportunities for accomplishment technology may also dull our sense of natural or reasonable limitations. There are undoubtedly many benefits to rapid task accomplishment. Yet in very subtle ways we are at great risk. The risk is that we begin to think that everything -- even relationships -- can take place quickly.

Today's computers can accomplish in several seconds what once took several hours, or even days! International travel is no longer measured in days, but in hours. Verbal communication is instantaneous via phone, rather than requiring weeks via parcel post. Surgical procedures formerly needing long periods of convalescence are now performed on an out-patient basis. Meals requiring several hours of crockpot cooking time can now be ready in a matter of microwave minutes.

While there are many tasks that have been served well by technological development, there are others which have not. Interpersonal relationships are most significantly at risk in a faster-paced world. Attempting to develop a deep friendship in a matter of minutes does violence to the term friendship. Likewise, rearing children is a slow, long-term process. In short, the deepest interpersonal experiences we will have cannot successfully be sped up. And why would we want to? We must recognize that a crockpot paradigm is more appropriate than a microwave mentality when dealing with people – particularly those closest to us. Efficiency is simply not the goal in many interpersonal interactions.

Why a lack of meaning in so many busy lives? A scarcity of meaningful activities. Household production processes that were formerly accomplished by family members working together (chopping wood, washing & drying dishes, harvesting food & fiber) have now been transferred to people outside the home or machines inside the home. We have methodically shifted from being a nation of production to a society of consumption.Working together, within a context of production, provides time to talk. Tasks that involve many hands, are not quickly accomplished, and are not cognitively taxing (hauling hay, weeding the garden, preparing a simple meal) can provide an ideal setting for communication. Such "multi-tasking" works well, as long as the tasks do not demand all of our mental attention. More importantly, discussions while working together are often information-conveying, rather than simply time-passing. The longer the task, the longer (and often more meaningful) the discussion. Meaningful conversations while traveling for hours together in a car are one example. In our day, too few activities revolve around joint work between adults and children. As a result, time needed for information-laden discussions is all too often budgeted in minutes, when hours might be needed.

Absent a plethora of production-based, intra-family activities, a dominant endeavor for individuals and families becomes consumption. Not surprisingly, consumption activities are often less interpersonally rewarding than production activities. Production usually builds, consumption often depletes.

Technology is useful if it adds meaning to our lives. If it does not we are either using technology inappropriately or our expectations/perspective are out of balance. Doing some things faster via technology need not detract from our interpersonal lives. However, attempting to implement a technologically-based life-pace will surely do violence to human interactions inherently designed to be gradual, methodical associations over time.

Where human relationships are involved, a slower pace is often better. For example, if you want meat to really taste good, use a crockpot -- not a microwave. To cook meat right, it simply takes a lot of time and a little heat. Turning up the heat won't make up for lost time. In like manner, turning up our activity level (becoming busier) won't make up for lost associations and time spent together. The good news is that it's never too late to slow down to a crock-pot pace in our personal lives. So, hurry up and slow down.

So, does anybody have a great crockpot recipe? I know, I'm so funny. Seriously though, this really hits home for me. This is another one of those lessons that I have to keep re-learning in life, so this came as a great reminder for me. It is amazing how often I'll go to bed at night and think about how "busy" I was all day, but how little I accomplished when it comes to what really matters. I can spend all day rushing my kids from one activity to the next errand, but never really do anything with them. And then I look back on the day with regret and feelings of unfulfillment. And that is not why HH and I chose to have these sweet little children. HH and I can spend the whole weekend accomplishing things, but never really being together. And then I look back on the weekend with regret and feelings of unfulfillment. That is not why we chose to get married. I don't want to look back on my life and feel the same way about how I used my time here.

Besides, if we're rushing through life, it's a lot harder to find the joy. It's not going to speed up to find you, that's for sure. A busy life is a stressful life. One thing I know about joy is that it doesn't really mix with stress. At all. I'm choosing joy.

What about you? What do you choose? How do you find ways to slow down, even when there is so much that "needs" to be done? What are the things in your life worth slowing down for?

Isn't my little sister great? If anyone else has an email, article, story to share, please pass it along! It's an easy way to be a guest blogger. Just please leave a little note in the comments telling me that you've emailed me at Thanks!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

I hope this makes sense. I'm typing while good ol' Bruce rocks out on my TV. I haven't always supported Super Bowl Sunday, but to keep the peace in my home, I've come around. Please, don't judge me. At least we've got a great excuse to eat nachos with queso dip. Yay.

Back to the discussion at hand, did you read those books when you were younger? You know the kind where you'd read to a certain point in the story and then the book would give you two alternatives and you'd turn to the page based on which choice you made? So, the main character could go into the dark alleyway, or get in the dark car with the stranger. And then you'd continue reading until given a choice again until the book was over. Or, if you were like me, you'd read it through about 30 times in order to read all of the different choices and outcomes. Ah, those were fun.

Anyway, life is kind of like that. You always have a choice.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I've been doing very well for the last while. Today I'd like to share the main reason for this. I won't share all the details because it was a very personal experience, but back in November I had a bit of an epiphany. I suddenly realized that without the depression, I truly love the life I'm living.

Let me explain. I think I've already shared that my depression began shortly before my wedding. That had nothing to do with HH. It was because of the birth control pills I started taking and the stress of preparing for a wedding and being a new wife. From that point on, I began feeling trapped in my life. I kept thinking to myself, 'This isn't what I signed on for.' The angry, stressful life I was living was a far cry from the marital bliss I'd always imagined. It's not like I never was happy with my life, but whenever things got bad, I felt trapped. Being married is hard. Sometimes really painful. If we love each other this much, shouldn't we always be happy and in love? It must be because I'm not very good at being a wife.

Then we had Sweet P. And being a mom was hard. I always thought it would come naturally to me. It wasn't. It was hard. This wasn't what I'd signed on for either. But things weren't all bad, so we decided to have Little M. And he was REALLY difficult. I felt very trapped. And I convinced myself that I wasn't very good at being a mom.

Don't get me wrong--I love and adore my husband. I love and adore my children. I just kept thinking that I wasn't "good" at being a wife and mom. I was very dissatisfied with my life, but not the people in it. But all of the negative thinking was only feeding into my depression. Add to that the fact that I kept thinking of other things I could be doing if only I were free. And I kept telling myself that if only I could do those things, then I would be happy.

So, back in November I pictured myself living my life, just minus the depression. And suddenly I realized that I'm doing exactly what I'd choose to do with my life if I were free from the depression. In fact, I would love my life.

And this amazing thing happened, once I realized that I could love my life just the way it is, I chose to do just that. It's amazing what a difference that has made. Suddenly, playing with my kids isn't a chore to just get over--I love it! Because that is a huge part of what I do and I love what I do. Holding a grudge against HH when we have a disagreement doesn't seem so important any more. Loving being married to him has taken priority over proving that I am right.

And so far, I've been able to keep the depression at bay because I just keep reminding myself that I love my life. Sometimes it's harder to do than others. But it all comes down to the simple fact that being happy and finding joy in my life is entirely up to me. I can no longer blame the people in my life, or even the depression for my mood. It is entirely up to me. I have the power to choose. I chose this life a long time ago and every step along the way. It's unfortunate that it's taken me this long to take advantage of this power for so long. But I choose not to dwell on what I missed out on. Instead I choose to be grateful for all that we've learned from our challenges. And the fact that I appreciate everything I have so much more now because of the perspective I'm coming from.

How many times have you heard that life is "10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with it"? This is not a new concept. I just didn't really get it until recently. This is another lesson that I'm terrified of forgetting. Life isn't always great and sometimes I feel like another bout of depression is right around the corner. But the one thing I do know, is that no matter what is going on, I do always have the ability to choose. That can never be taken from me. Sometimes I forget and through lack of action, I choose to be unhappy. But the great thing is, at any point I can't stop that and "choose my own adventure." I choose joy.

I want to conclude my thoughts with a quote from Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning.

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

What do you think? Have you been able to put this concept to use in your own life? How do you choose to focus on the joy even when life is hard, or bad things happen?