Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pressin' On

We bought and moved into our house this weekend!

Most of our stuff was still packed in boxes in anticipation for this move, but we still had a lot of stuff that we had unpacked that needed to be re-packed.

I LOATHE packing. And unpacking. So, packing while knowing that I'm just going to turn around and unpack is, well, loathsome.

HH took the day off on Friday so we could do the final walk through, purchase the house, and then pack up.

I have always packed up almost all of our stuff because HH is busy with other moving preparations or at work. This time he was able to help a little, but I was still orchestrating since I am now a moving expert.

For the first several hours of this I would pack half of a box and then complain for about 15 minutes about how much I HATE packing.

Progress was pretty slow at this rate. Finally, we put the kids to bed and HH was able to help more and we got almost all the packing done in a couple of hours.

Later that night he thanked me for all I had done. I accepted his appreciation but then lamented again on how much I hate packing. He made a comment about how I had at least done it without complaining and I was actually about to accept his praise! Then I realized he was joking.

And it wasn't until that moment that I realized just how much I had complained that day.

And here I am complaining some more!

But this time I have a point.

The point is, sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes it requires a lot of yucky, undesirable, miserable work. But we still have to do it.

As always though, we have choices. Even if choosing not to really isn't an option, we still get to choose how we do it.

We can choose to whine and complain and moan about our situation and work. That makes us all the more aware of how awful it is. And, in most cases, makes it take longer. And it makes you less fun to be around.

And there is pretty much zero joy in whining and complaining--especially while doing something loathsome.


You can just lower your head and get 'er done. Keep on keepin' on. Keep on truckin'. Cowboy up.

That's pretty much all the back-woodsey phrases I know about that topic. But I think you get the point.

So, whatever it is, I promise that if you choose to just do it without complaining (not even silently complaining to yourself!), it won't sap so much joy from your life. And maybe you'll even find a little joy in the work itself.

You might just find yourself amazing yourself at how awesome you are at fitting a ton of stuff into a tiny box, like a perfect jigsaw puzzle.

And if you can convince someone as amazing as HH to come help you out (again, no complaints from you will make this much more likely to happen), well, then you might just find a lot of joy in doing the work together. Because everything is more fun with a friend. Especially one named Hot Honey.

Well, it is.

And so, I better end this and get back to him. They can't switch our internet over to the house until Tuesday, so I'm stuck blogging away at our old apartment. On the floor. Not very comfy.

What are your thoughts here? How do you motivate yourself to keep going when you really have no desire to keep going? How do you stop yourself from complaining when those complaints just keep readily coming? Do you hate packing as much as I do?

Let's just hope I can remember all my sage advice while I unpack everything.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Dad's the Greatest Dad

And my dad's the bravest dad. And my dad's the strongest dad. It's positively so!

Or something like that.

Did anyone else know that song when they were little?

I loved it.

So, this is sort of a different type of post, but since it's Father's Day, how could I not post about dads?

(I would have done the same on Mother's Day had I had a computer. We'll have to wait until next year for it, but I think moms are equally important in our quest for joy.)

I know not everyone has the best relationship with their dad. But hopefully, you have some sort of father figure in your life or know of a great dad who has influenced you for the better.

I am very blessed to have a wonderful dad. He's not perfect, but he tries really hard. I've seen him grow and change as a father over the years and I can honestly say that he's getting better at it all the time. That means more to me than if he were perfect from the day I was born because watching his effort makes me appreciate his love even more. If being a dad came easily to him, I wouldn't have the deep love I have for him.

My dad has brought joy to my life in so many ways.

He has always loved me. Even when I totalled my car and thought he'd be furious with me, he wasn't. And he still loved me. He loved me enough to tell me when he thought I was doing something I shouldn't. And he loved me when he told me he was proud of the good decisions I made.

He let me know that he thinks I'm beautiful. I think this is so important for all fathers to do. My dad would tell me that I looked beautiful, but he also would get this look in his eyes that just made me feel beautiful.

He loves my mom. From as far back as I can remember I knew that the fastest way to upset my dad was to say something bad to my mom. And so I didn't. He would never stand by and let someone hurt her. And I love the way he looks at her, too.

He gave me the gift of loving to run. Running (and all things fitness-related) is one of my greatest joys EVER. I know that probably makes me crazy, but I get it from my dad. And I will forever be grateful to him for loving it too. And for helping me train. And buying running shoes with me. And making it to every single race. And loving me whether I won or lost.

He taught me to love the outdoors. We used to go for hikes together every weekend. I miss that. Being outside while talking with him is one of my very favorite places to be.

He taught me to love learning. He is always learning. He's always in the middle of at least one book and about 40 magazine articles. And then he shares his vast knowledge with me. I love it. He always had the ability to turn every day objects and experiences into teaching moments. I never pick up a bottle of Italian dressing without thinking that it is a perfect example of colloidal suspension. And then I think of my dad and I smile.

He taught me to have faith in my Saviour. He has demonstrated this in so many ways and he has also sat with me and taught me from the scriptures about how to apply these things in my life. And how essential that is.

He taught me to have faith in myself. I've shared some pretty far-out dreams and goals with them and his response is always to support me and let me know that he believes me every step of the way.

In conjunction with that he taught me that if you're in his family, you don't ever quit. And that has seen me through some really tough times. Times when I've been sorely tempted to quit. But then I hear his voice in the back of my mind reminding me that we don't quit. So I press on and I finish. And I'm so glad I didn't quit. Because I'm that much better of a person for the thing I've gone through.

He taught me the joy of hard work. He can't sit still. He always has repairs and projects. He has made every house we've ever lived in so much more amazing and beautiful than when we first moved into it. I always want to tell the people who move in after us of all the things he's done to improve it and all the work he put into it. Just so they'll appreciate it.

He taught me humility. He is willing to accept when he needs to change. Or apologize. And that is a huge part of how he's grown so much. And growth, though painful at times, is necessary to abiding joy.

He gave me the example and advice I needed to find HH. I can't tell you how many times he asked when I was going to "stop dating scum". Few of the guys I dated really deserved that title. But he knew when they weren't right for me. From the first moment I told him about HH, he treated that relationship differently. Somehow he knew.

Funny thing is, he didn't meet HH until 8 days before our wedding. 8 days! I asked him about it once. He said it was really difficult, but he had faith in me and my decision making abilities.

He's such an amazing dad. It's really no wonder that I married the other most amazing man I know.

And watching HH grow into a fabulous father is a beautiful source of joy in my life. I am so blessed!

The squeals of delight when he walks in the door in the evening are a testament of the joy he brings to our home.

And my capacity for joy grew exponentially when HH and his love entered my life.

So, here's to all the men bringing joy to our lives!

Do you know any men like this? Do you have a man (men) who have added to your joy in life? Share!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Plant Those Cherry Trees!

Well, I knew I was struggling with last week's post. I re-read it and realized that it totally sounded the way you all took it. But I wasn't intending to refer to extra interests really. I was trying to talk about true purpose in life. Things we are meant to do and accomplish in this life. If you are religious, I'm talking about what the Lord wants you to do. So, I'll try to compose a much better post on that topic in the future. And you can all think about it and have some super power comments when it comes. But maybe last week's post was just supposed to be the way it was.

On to this week's topic!

I've been doing really well, as far as the depression goes, for several months now. When we decided to move to our new location, I was really concerned that I was going to face that demon once again. In fact, I was struggling quite a bit to convince myself to believe that it was not inevitable--that I could just adjust to being so far from my friends and family and just settle in happily. But I wasn't sure which side was winning that battle when the moving date arrived.

And then the kids were sick and we were all fighting and completely miserable. And I knew that I was indeed going to face the depression. It lasted all of half a day.

I'm not saying that life has been one bouncing bubble out here, but most days I find myself marveling a bit at how happy I really am here. That's not to say that I don't miss everyone we left behind. But even so, I haven't once wished to move back.

You might think that "marvel" is kind of an odd word for me to use. But it's true. I really am baffled by it. Not that I'm bothered by it. I'm just really surprised.

So, I've been pondering what exactly has made me so happy here, so I could share it here with you. A part of it is that the environment here is a great fit for us. It's very family-friendly and fitness-oriented.

But there is more to it. I think I've finally put a finger on at least a part of it. And that is simply that this is the first time in our married life that I haven't been looking toward the next move. When we were first married, I was looking forward to graduating and then going east for my HH's summer internship. Pretty much as soon as we got there, I was looking forward to going back to the west. Then we got back and I couldn't wait to move back to New England. This time I knew I'd be happy because we were going to buy a house.

Well, we got to New England and buying a house didn't feel right. And we knew we wouldn't stay there long because we were far from all of our family except my parents. So, I began focusing on our next move away from there. I knew I'd be happy whenever we moved. One of my good friends and I had a joke that I was always moving "next year". Because that was the plan for a few years, but each time "next year" finally came the move didn't work out and we'd decide to stay another year.

Now we're here. And my children could potentially go to high school here. Not because it's the best place on the planet, but because we have no plans for moving. It's possible something could go wrong and we could move in a year, but we aren't planning on it. We're planning on staying here for a long time.

So that's where my focus is. I once hear a quote about being prepared to leave any day, but still planting cherry trees. That quote is a little out of context, but it still applies. We had cherry trees in our backyard in the house I grew up in. Those trees had been there longer than we had, I believe, and they were still just starting to bear fruit. They take a LONG TIME to cultivate. The truth is, I doubt any of us can really know where we'll be a year from now--life is just unpredictable. But I do believe that we're happier when we "put our roots down", so to speak.

I'm focusing on all that our new community has to offer and making new friends as we go. When we get caught up in the habit of always looking to the future and saying, "I'll be happy when...", we never seem to find it. That's because it's just that, a habit. If you can't be happy with the fundamentals, nothing new will bring that happiness to you.

That's what hit me after being depressed for half a day after moving here. I realized (with help from the Holy Ghost, as I was sitting in church) that the only thing about my situation that I had control over was my attitude. Being grumpy and angry couldn't help unpack our boxes, enlarge our apartment, make my kids healthy, or anything else. Being happy couldn't help make those things happen either. But it could help us all enjoy the time a lot more.

Does anyone else feel like so many of these posts come back to the same basic principles time and again? That the real way to access abiding joy is to simply choose joy? Interesting.

Anyway, back to the original point. You have to be content with whatever you have, wherever you are in order to live joyfully. Nothing else will accomplish that for you.

Any tips on how to accomplish that? I wish I would have realized that sooner. I could have appreciated beautiful New England a lot more if I had accepted that. Has anyone else experienced this? How do you find contentment even when you're not in your ideal place? How do you live like you're settled in for the long haul, even when you aren't?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Only You

So, I've been struggling a bit all week, waiting for this week's post subject to come to me. I kicked around a few different ideas, but nothing really felt right. So, I said a little prayer and voila, it came. Why do I forget how easy that is?

Anyway, I think a part of the inspiration for today's post came from a talk that my little sister emailed me ages ago, but I finally got to read a few days ago. You can find it here. But I'll warn you, it's long. It's given by John H. Groberg. For those who aren't familiar with him, he wrote the book (based on personal experiences) that inspired the movie "The Other Side of Heaven". He's a man full of faith.

Usually, I've known what I'd be typing about for at least a few hours and I have some stuff sorted out. But it's only been about 10 minutes today, so I'm kind of shooting from the hip. Of course, I have a tendency to ramble, so you may not notice the difference as the reader, but I'm definitely struggling to get started here.

Okay, let's try to begin. Today I want to talk about finding your mission, or purpose in life. I think this is another essential in obtaining abiding joy. I think it's very easy to lose ourselves in whatever we fill our day-to-day with, whether it be family, work, or both. And those things are definitely important, but they don't necessarily define who you are.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that what I am doing as a mom is beyond important. Nothing is going to interfere or take the place of the work that I do in raising my children. And initially, I thought that mommy-ing is all I would fill my time with. But I don't think that is the way it's supposed to be. Because it didn't feel right.

There is more that I can and want to be doing. I have about 50 billion other interests. After I had Sweet P, I kind of lost those. I forgot about the things I loved doing and the "other" goals I once had. But then different things popped up and I would remember them--like the sunset photograph book I once wanted to put together. And I discovered new interests, abilities, and ideas. Like my love of baking.

I don't know if I just have a busy little head, or if you all do it to, but I'm always thinking of different ways to pursue or market my talents and interests. Sometimes I get started, but then I get sidetracked or busy with something else.

So, you can see, I'm still figuring out my purpose in life.

I don't think it's all wrapped up in one thing. As I already mentioned, my family is a huge part of things. But it's a part. And I don't think there is just one other part. I think there are many more things I can and should be doing.

I'm not trying to cause stress here in saying that you're not doing enough. Because the "more" I'm talking about refers to things that bring you joy. And I don't know about you, but something that brings me joy isn't really work. Well, I take that back, it might be work, but it will be fun work.

One of the things Elder Groberg talks about is trying different paths and seeing it what feels right and what doesn't. Maybe those projects I started but didn't finish were paths that I'm not meant to take and that's why I got sidetracked. Although, I do believe that the timing just wasn't right with some of them and I'm still making small plans with them in the back of my mind.

But other things have stuck and worked. And they've always increased my joy. One of them is this blog. For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed trying to help others. It used to be easier because it was generally a one-on-one thing where a friend would come to me with a problem and I'd help them find a way to make things better. This blog is more challenging because I have to kind of come up with the problem on my own and hope that it applies to you. But I've mentioned many times that I have been guided every step of the way. And going back to what I was saying about work, this blog has definitely been work. And a lot of times, it's down right hard! But it's always worth it.

And even though I started it in an effort to help some people that I care about deeply, I'm positive it's helped me the most. If you were to look at my level happiness as sort of a line graph since starting this blog, you'd still see ups and downs, but you'd see a trend towards growing happiness.

I don't think that's is 100% because of this blog, but a lot of it is. It's been good for me to sort through all the different things that bring me joy or take away my joy. I can't tell you how often my own advice comes right back to me when I really need it, only a week or two after posting it. And, as I mentioned last week, your advice and experiences have often come to my aid as well. Sometimes when I think I've got one area covered, I'll read something from you and a whole new perspective opens up for me. It's amazing.

And I've felt a growing friendship with you--even those I don't know! Maybe it's just me, but I feel a bit of kinship in our shared goal and our willingness to share bits of ourselves with one another. And I thrive on friendship. The more, the better.

But I know that being a mom and a blogger are not all that I am meant to do in this life. I have other pursuits currently, and I know there are more to come. I just have to stay open and keep trying new things to make sure I don't miss out on any!

What do you do to find your mission in life? How do you maintain balance once you do discover a mission? Some of the things I feel I should be doing kind of intimidate me (i.e. They either will take a lot of work or I don't know much about them), even though I'm excited by the prospect. Does anyone have advice on how to get over that and get working on doing new things? Any other thoughts?

Now for an item of business. I am going to be doing some traveling at the end of July to see my family. Yay! But it's really hard for me to post while I'm out of town, plus I'd really like to just focus on being with family. So, I'm giving you all ample time to prepare a post of your own for me to use at that time. PLEASE! Who knows, maybe that's a part of your purpose too! When you decide to help, just remember to email me your post.

Thank you!