Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 4: More From the Foodie

Yep. Today's Joyful Moment came from food again.

But this time we had a couple families over for dinner. Part of the joy came from cooking and baking--I LOVE being in the kitchen! We had lasagna, bread sticks, and a fruit salad, with Fudge Jumbles for dessert. Of course, the joy was aided by my preparing the lasagna yesterday and delegating the fruit salad and drinks to our friends. And HH got home from meetings just in time to help with the final preparations of cleaning up my mess, setting up the high chairs for the babies, and setting the table. Cultivating daily joy can take a little preparation and planning. And a little help from your friends.

So, tonight was a big success. The food actually all turned out pretty well. Generally speaking, what I make is pretty tasty, but if we're having people over for dinner something always goes wrong and it looks weird. But tonight it all tasted yummy and looked good to boot. Forgive me for bragging--but it was my Joyful Moment. And then the second part of the joy came from getting to share it with our friends. I also really love entertaining. So, tonight was pretty much a win-win-win for me.

And my tummy is going to bed happy two nights in a row!

Thanks again for sharing your joys with me! Keep on spreading the joy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 3: Yum

Have I ever told you that I absolutely adore food? Well, I do.

I've been craving French toast for a while now and this morning I realized that conditions were finally perfect for a French toast dinner.

So, we had French toast with whipped cream and strawberries for dinner. Along with edamame and applesauce. We are SO healthy around here.

And that was my Joyful Moment.

It helped that everyone else loves French toast, whipped cream, strawberries, edamame, and applesauce. So, I didn't hear, "I don't like this!". Not even once. Instead I heard, "Yahoo!" and "This smells good!" and "Sommore please!"

Music to my ears.

Actually, my ears were treated with real music at the end of the meal when the kids spontaneously burst into a rousing rendition of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Thus making my Joyful Moment 110% complete.

It was wonderful. May each of your bellies and ears be as satisfied as mine were tonight. That is my wish.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 2: Good Mommy

Yay! I'm so excited that some of you have decided to join in my challenge. It's so much more fun to have others along for the ride.

So, today's Joyful Moment actually stemmed from me. As if I didn't seem egocentric already, right? But it happened this morning when I realized that even though Little M was persisting in being very whiny and trying for the 50 millionth day in a row (okay, maybe a little less than that), I was remaining calm, patient, and--most importantly--loving.

And in addition to being proud of myself for completely kicking yesterday's bad attitude, I felt true joy over the realization that I was doing exactly that. And I had sort of a zen moment while Little M sat on the potty chair crying because there was something about the chair that was bothering him today.

I may be on my way to becoming a Joy Master after all.

Although, after what happened the rest of the day, I'm pretty sure that calm and peace were a gift from Someone. Because Little M has been screaming bloody murder ever since 4 PM. That included while I finished making dinner, while I rocked him in the rocking chair, while
I snuggled next to him in his bed, while I painted his toes (this normally distracts him from anything that is bothering him), while we sat in the doctor's office at the urgent care, while we waited at the pharmacy, while I tried to get him to eat a little more dinner, while I got him ready for bed... you get the picture. He finally stopped about 15 minutes ago when he slipped off to a peaceful, medicated slumber while I sang to him. Poor Little M has bee
n sick with one thing after another for two weeks now.

Even under the best of circumstances he is a very needy child. And when he's sick, it's magnified by a zillion. So, sorry for the long post tonight. I just needed to complain. A great thing to do on a blog with the focus of JOY, huh? I'm just so thankful this didn't happen yesterday. I wouldn't have handled it.

Thanks again for reading. Keep on sharing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 1: Bright & Early

Well, today will go down as one of those disaster days. And I was definitely not Mother of the Year material.

But, despite all of its troubles, the day actually provided a few Joyful Moments. I will probably just stick to one in the future, but I feel like sharing two of them today.

The first was the pretty sunrise I saw when I opened the blinds in the front of our house today. I have always had an obsession with sunrises or sunsets, so anytime I see a beautiful one I count it as a gift. But this morning was especially joyful because we have had near constant cloud coverage for the last few weeks. Seeing that pretty pink sky surrounding the sun brought so much peace to my heart. At least the day started off well.

The other joyful moment came a few hours later. Sweet P was in preschool and I had just picked Little M up from the child watch center at our gym (I got to workout for the first time this week!). We were heading to the library to go play for a little while until it was time to pick up Sweet P. The library isn't far from the gym, so I was considering walking. But then the cold sunk in and I was reconsidering when for some reason, I asked Little M what he wanted to do. He wanted to walk. I reminded him of the cold, but he persisted. So, we walked over to the library.

I was freezing before we were halfway there, but it was still a precious moment. Little M has to compete with Sweet P to get a word in most of the time. So, sometimes, when it's just the two of us, he opens up and really starts to chatter. And it's so sweet and fun to listen to his thoughts. He's very articulate for a 2 1/2 year old. What we talked about was far from profound, but there was still a lot of joy in that moment to have some calm time to just listen to him as we walked and held hands.

And I think this blog just might work after all. I came down here in the worst of moods (because after those moments, the rest of the day pretty much just stunk!) and now I have a smile on my face.

So, thank you for reading. And to those of you who have already shared your Joyful Moments! I'm so excited about this!

More of Me

Okay, so what is the big change?

Basically, even though I've been doing this blog to help others, I've been drawing on my own experiences, so it's been quite a bit about me.

Now, it's pretty much going to be all about me.

I know that's just what you were all hoping for!

Okay, just a little bit of a serious note here to explain why. The thing is, I'm pregnant. When I get pregnant, I get depressed. It's just sort of a simple cause and effect equation. I can't handle the hormones. I've been doing really well this time around, but over the past month or so, I could tell I was kind of slipping. Mostly, I was really angry a lot of the time.

I don't like being angry. Or depressed. And as a part of all of that, I just wasn't really feeling it when I tried to type posts for this blog. So, that's why I decided to put it on the back burner for a while.

But then my brain started rolling and I got some inspiration and I felt like that wasn't actually what I was supposed to do.

So, the new plan is for me to post every day. Only the posts will be much much shorter. I'm going to post a daily Joyful Moment. A big commitment for a Commit-O-Phobe such as myself.
As I've been preparing for this over the past week or so, I've been really surprised at how difficult that can be. Because I'm not talking about moments that make me feel happy or glad or grateful. I'm talking about feeling real joy.

The first day, it never actually happened. Another day, it was so fleeting I couldn't even put my finger on what exactly it was that caused it. I just knew it had something to do with Little M.

But Sweet P and Little M have been pretty sick all week, so hopefully this is just an off week. And I'm expecting that as I work on this, I'll be able to learn how to create more joy in my life. So, the purpose of the blog hasn't really changed, just my method. And my motivation is a little more selfish.

But I am still hoping to benefit others. I'd like to challenge anyone who wants to join me and sharing your daily Joyful Moment. I would love to know the things that bring you joy day-to-day. And it will probably help the rest of us think of ways to find joy in our own lives. You can share it here, or on your own blog--just leave a link for the rest of us to follow! Or you can just support me in my quest to maintain my sanity this time around.

I'm committing to doing this every day for a year. I still have a few more months of pregnancy and then the postpartum phase usually hits my emotional state even harder. So, I figure by the time this baby is 9 months old, I should be in the clear. And by forcing myself to experience joy every day, how bad can things ever get?

"Forcing myself to experience joy"--that sounds really sad. Is it even possible to force joy? Anyway, I really am okay. I'm just trying to prevent things from getting as bad as they did with the other two babies. I want to enjoy this one!

Fortunately, those other two babies are pretty helpful in creating Joyful Moments for me now.

Here was my moment yesterday:
Meet Sweet P and Little M

I don't encourage Little M to dress that way. He just likes to copy his big sister. Good thing we're having another boy. We obviously need a little more testosterone around here! They danced the funniest dance for me. It was so priceless.

Now keep your fingers crossed that we'll have a few less tears around here for the remainder of the day, so I can actually have a Moment to post for tonight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh, Mama!

Okay, so, I'm feeling pretty strongly about the next chapter in this blog's life, but I have an excellent post from my mom I want to share with you first. I'll let you contemplate it for a few days before I start Chapter 2. So, expect something around the end of the week.

My mom is one of the true heroes in my life. She is not perfect, but she's humble enough to recognize her weaknesses and tries to strengthen them. And she doesn't hide any of that from me. I'm so grateful for that.

Because, to me, she's pretty darn close to perfection and I want to be like her. So, knowing that she has shortcomings makes it easier for me to accept my own shortcomings. And knowing that she's working on them and how she's working on them makes it easier for me to work on mine. Partly because we are a whole heap alike.

Anyway, the following is an experience she offered to share with all of us about something she recently learned. I do try to be a positive influence in her life, but I am not the daughter she references here.

I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, after having gone to bed late, anxious about all the things on my “To Do” list. I knew that I had until 6 p.m. to get it all done, because that was when we were leaving for the airport. Our 3-½ week trip was coming to an end and several of the things I’d wanted to do were not yet done. It didn’t matter that most of the list had been done, or that the most important things had been done. No, the unfinished list seemed to dominate my thoughts and feelings and I was driven to complete it.

I usually start my day writing in my journal and studying the scriptures, which helps me lay a solid foundation for the rest of the day. But this morning I decided to postpone those activities until I was on the airplane and could relax. I also skipped my morning exercise routine, which I had neglected most of this trip. After a quick shower and breakfast, I reviewed my list and prioritized every item. Then I began, with my focus on being able to cross off as many items on the list as possible.

It was still very early in the morning so no one called or came by to interrupt, and since my husband was trying to put in the last of his 40-hour workweek, I made steady progress. Every so often I’d glance at the clock to see how I was doing. At first it seemed like I was on top of things and might be able to complete my list. But around noon I realized that was not going to happen. I began mentally crossing things off so that I could cope with the anxiety that had been building since before I woke up. I decided that I didn’t have time to eat lunch and I was too preoccupied to be hungry anyway.

Around 2 p.m., I received a phone call. It was from our youngest daughter, who’d been away the first two weeks of

our trip and who we hadn’t been able to spend as much time with as we wanted. Spending time with her and her husband was also on my list, but the only way I could see to make that happen was if they drove over and helped me with my list, or followed me while I cleaned the house. To my amazement, she asked if I could go to a late lunch with them. I explained to her that I’d gotten up extra early so that I could spend time with her but that my efforts had been inadequate because I still had too much to do and a deadline of four hours. For a few minutes I tried to get her to see things from my point of view, and she tried to help me see things from her perspective. We hung up without finding a way to spend time together. I wasn’t happy with the situation and I knew she wasn’t either, but there seemed to be no solution that could please both of us.

Thankfully, my daughter called back a few minutes later. Her first words were something like, “Mom, I want you to try an experiment.” Those few words, spoken very caringly, triggered a response big enough to allow me to turn off all my self-imposed thoughts and listen. As I listened, I remembered a university course on rational thinking that I’d completed about a year ago. In it I had learned that emotions are not automatic and that we human beings can control our emotions by controlling our thoughts. I knew that I had power over what I was thinking and feeling and I

knew right then that I could change if I decided to.

My daughter asked me to consider what would be the worst thing that would happen if I didn’t complete all the items on my list. So I asked myself what would happen if I didn’t clean the bathrooms, mop the floor, and vacuum the carpets? What would happen if I didn’t do all the other things on my list? I realized that it probably wouldn't make a difference to anyone but me. And then I asked myself how I would feel later if I chose to make my spending time with my daughter a higher priority than completing the things on my list? The answer was obvious, I would get over any guilt from not finishing my list in no time, and I would regret not spending time with my daughter for a long, long time.

My anxiety was almost gone, replaced with a feeling of peace. With my vision cleared, I realized that for some reason cleaning the house and completing my list had seemed much more necessary and important than it actually was; I hadn’t even considered not doing it. I looked at my list again with a new perspective and eliminated almost every unfinished task. The remaining items on my list were organized, delegated, or completed. Instead of focusing on the items I'd crossed off my list, I thought about what I had accomplished and felt grateful.

Here is the Reader’s Digest version of what I learned and applied from the course I took:

  1. There is not a cause-and-effect relationship between our emotions and external facts, events, or situations. Our thinking controls our emotions as well as the intensity of those emotions.

  1. The best way to feel better is to learn to think better. If we have negative, undesirable emotions, it is because we have practiced thinking the thoughts which produce them. (This is NOT a desirable habit!)

  1. Habits (such as emotional responses) are learned behaviors. Anything that is learned can be unlearned. We can change our habits. We can learn to think differently and create the emotions that we want to have.

How fortuitous that my daughter helped me rethink things while there was time for me to do things differently. I changed how I was thinking, which changed how I was feeling, which changed how I spent the last four hours of our trip. Needless to say, the house cleaning was reduced to the essentials and was finished before my daughter and her husband picked me up and took me to a fantastic Mexican restaurant for an enjoyable lunch and some great bonding time. And I haven’t had a single regret about the choices I made that day.

Since I typed this up last week, I've thought more about it. What happened that day was a relatively simple experience. Many other situations are of a much greater magnitude and much more challenging. Some of life's events and circumstances are extremely hard to deal with and have far greater consequences. We all know this. We also know that each of us will have a variety of experiences in our lives which provide opportunities to learn to manage our thoughts and thus our emotions. And we know that we won't always make the best choices, so we need to remember that at any point we have the ability to change our thoughts. Changing our thinking enables us to create more desirable emotions. Sometimes this process takes time. We have to keep at it with faith and hope. It is empowering. Life is a series of events that have the potential to help us learn and progress and become who we need to be.

Have you had a similar experience? Were you the one feeling the stress or other counter-productive emotion
(like me) or the one who helped (like my daughter)?
How did you change what you were thinking? How did that change your emotions?
Do you agree with the 3 principles I learned in my course? What would you add ?

Thanks, Mom! I love you!

Monday, January 25, 2010

And We're Back!

Mostly. Sort of. Well, I'm working on it.

I will be sharing a post typed up by my wonderful mamma. Probably tomorrow. I just wanted to give you a heads up on that.

And then I've been in the process of revising this blog. In my mind.

So, I'll be back in a few days. Or maybe next week. But I will be back and I will be consistent once I'm back. And things will be a little different. Hopefully, for the better. I'll let you know.

Stay tuned...

Friday, January 15, 2010

What To Do?

I didn't forget about the blog this time. I've actually been thinking about it a lot, trying to figure out what to do.

I don't know if you've noticed, but we're getting little to no comments on each post. So, I'm wondering if this blog has served out its purpose.

Or maybe it's because my posts are more rushed these days. I don't know.

But one thing I do know is that my motivation to post each week has sort of dropped. So, I was contemplating just quitting the blog.

But I still have some of your suggestions to post on and a few of my own that I began but the timing never felt right.

So, I'm not going to end this blog. I'm just not going to promise regular posts any more. Not for now at least.

But I would still love to have guest bloggers!

I hope you're all having a great start to your new year.


Monday, January 4, 2010

2010... Are You Sure?

Wow. I can't believe it's already the new year. Doesn't it feel like we just barely hit Y2K? Maybe that's just me.

Sorry about the no-show last Monday. We were out of town and things were unbelievably chaotic. So, it just didn't happen. Obviously. And you may have thought today would be a repeat. Sorry it's so late! But I had to get some serious unpacking and cleaning and organizing done before I could allow myself to turn on my computer.

Anyway, those of you who have been reading my blog for at least a year may remember that I pick an annual theme for each year, in lieu of setting New Year's Resolutions. It just works better for me that way.

Last year's theme was Compassion. I made progress, but I'm not as satisfied as I was in 2008 with my progress on Commitment. I kind of forgot about it for the middle part of the year, with the unexpected move and all. So, I'm going to continue working on Compassion this year.

But don't worry, I'm not letting myself off the hook that easy. I'm picking a real theme as well. Actually, I didn't really pick it. For the last couple months I've felt very strongly that Patience is what I need to choose and work on. And I have a sneaky suspicion that the year will provide me with plenty of opportunities to do just that.

So Patience is my theme for 2010 and Compassion is sort of like a Minor theme, or something. We're only 4 days into the year and already I have had some great opportunities to practice both. It's definitely still a work in progress.

How about you? What are you plans for 2010? Do you set goals? Resolutions? Themes? How do you stick to them? How do you remember to stay focused on them? I really need help with this one.

Anyway, I hope your new year is treating you well so far and that you're feeling optimistic about things. It's just a good way to start things off and I think sometimes it's hard to do at this time of year.

Once again, I'd like to make a request for guest bloggers. Please?

Amy, you volunteered a while back to write a post about a pamphlet on spending time with family. I NEVER remember to tell you this when I'm talking to you or with you or emailing you, so I'm asking you now if you would. I would LOVE that. Love it. Whenever you get the chance. I know life is busy.