Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Taking Time to Ponder: Being OK With Where I Am

Remember my last post - where I talked about spending time with Little Bundle? Over the course of the last several months, Little Bundle learned to crawl, eats solids (wahoo), and is very curious. I love seeing this development and growth in him. It keeps us both busy...and I like it that way.

One thing I am still learning though, is being able to accomplish the goals I have made...and have broken, and made again, but still be able to be with Little Bundle. I am not sure what this looks like yet, and don't have any advice for what to do to have a balanced life.

But I can say that today, while listening to Marfa Lights 1 by Deuter, I looked out my window and just looked. I breathed in deep breaths. I raised my standing desk and stood. I stretched and lengthened. I pondered. Really pondered.

I have been thinking about what's next for me lately. Often when I start thinking too far ahead, I don't see the Lord working miracles in my life because I end up getting nervous and anxious. I start doing things out of context and stepping on a lot of toes in the process. 

Two days ago I listened to this great BYU devotional talk about women, perseverance, education, direction, persistence, and devotion to God. The message was beautiful and clear. At a different point in my life, I could have been empowered by it. But this time, I needed to disregard it in order to keep my mind sound and open. I finally feel like I am in a good place. I am not saying that I am too content (because being content is sometimes not a good thing). I am saying that I am in a good place emotionally, spiritually...ok, maybe not physically (but I have accepted this). 

When I start questioning where I am, or the next step, I start going faster than I have strength, and end up crashing hard. Crashing hard hurts. It has taken almost my whole life to finally figure out that I will get to where I need to at the time and pace that I need to - and that God is more than happy with that. For those of us who already burden ourselves with "I am not good enough" or "I am never happy until...." I have found that it is better to allow the Lord's plans to unfold, instead of trying to unfold them too early.

That is why I am happy with where I am. I want to take this time to ponder, but not have anxiety. I want to be ok with the fact that I am still growing, and I know that it won't be as painful because I am taking a step back. 

  • I have plans to pursue my PhD, but not right now.
  • I spot clean until I have time to deep clean, because I would rather spend time with Little Bundle.
  • I choose to eat as healthy as I can, go on walks, and live an active lifestyle....with Little Bundle in mind....but am not overly concerned about my baby weight and trying to lose it.
  • I choose to stay in my marriage in spite of all those around me that see so many things that could be improved, or that they deem as "wrong".
  • I am happy with my current work position and find joy with my team and who I serve. Sure I am interested in progress and upward movement, but not right now.
  • Sure I wish I had enough energy at the end of the day to blog, read, plan meals, etc. And eventually I will start to bring these things back into my life, but not as full force as I have in the past. And I am OK with that.
  • I will take the time to have 10 minutes of ponder time a day. Perhaps in the morning at work, just like today - where I can remind myself that my life is wonderful.
It is remarkable how many times I have to tell myself that I am OK with where I am in life. Admittedly, this time around has been less painful and enjoyable....and it has taken a long time for me to get to this point.

Go me.

AND Go YOU, all my amazing anxiously engaged friends,...if you have been able to get to this point too.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mommy tales: Mondays are the hardest

Most weekends, I pack up Little Bundle and we go shopping, or go on a mini-vacation, or just get out of the house. My attention goes to making sure he is safe, and that we get things accomplished.

This weekend, we had a service day where we helped our neighbors cut down large trees, helped with yard work, and really felt like we were part of the community. Little Bundle and I spent all day interacting together, having actual nap times - that get thrown off when we travel - and just really had a good time. While he can't verbalize his good time, he was SO happy, and slept when he needed to sleep.

Sunday, we were both very sick. My Sweetheart came down with a cold last week. Even though we tried to avoid it, it came at us full force. Little Bundle and I were out of commission all day. The beauty of having a baby that sleeps the entire naptime is that mom can sleep too.

And just like that, we were cooped up inside our home all Sunday. 

In spite of our colds, Little Bundle showed me all his new tricks. The advantage of being the nanny is that you mostly get to see all the tricks before the parents do. He scoots backwards, starting clicking his tongue, looks up at you when you are holding him forward with those beautiful brown eyes, and "squinches" up his nose when you do something he thinks is funny. He also imitates your laugh and fake laughs, which I get a kick out of. He is growing so fast it is hard to keep up with all the new things he learns. By the time I write it down, he is onto something new.

But yet, when I sneak in on him sleeping, he seems so small - even though he is getting so big.

For a working mom, I only see Little Bundle 4 hours of any given day (if I keep him up to play instead of going to bed). This is tough. 

This is why it is easy for me to say 'no' to events I am invited where Little Bundle can't come with me. This is why it is easy for me to cook Mac N Cheese instead of something that requires more time. That is why I would rather be with him than with anyone, no offense. 

That is why Monday's are hardest - because my 12 hours of awake time with Little Bundle dwindle down to 4.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Tire of Me

Angel of Death by Gold-Seven
In The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, there is a scene where Death (the narrator) is wondering about God. In wondering and questioning why, why all these people? Death says, 

"I blow warm air into my hands, to heat them up.
But it's hard to keep them warm when the soul still shivers.
God.
I always say that name when I think of it.
God.
Twice I speak it.
I say His name in a futile attempt to understand. "But it is not your job to understand." That's me who answers."

Then Death continues, "Your job is to..." And then I stop listening to me, because to put it bluntly, I tire of me."

That is how I have felt lately....I tire of me.

The past several weeks, I have had things brought to light by myself, by others, even by strangers, that I am sick of. I am sick of getting down on myself for things that don't matter. I will replay scenarios and conversations over and over and over just to make sure I didn't do something wrong, or say something upsetting or offensive.The "people pleaser" in my has taken full affect, and to my detriment. My paranoia of making sure everyone is always happy has taken a toll not just on my emotions, but also my physical state.

In this discovery, I am learning what it TRULY means to "please others." Before, I thought it was to make sure someone was happy with me all the time. But, duh....I can't control that. To please others was very surface for me, and I always came back with anxiety about an interaction.

I failed to grasp the deeper principle.

In the talk Which Way Do You Face, Elder Lynn G. Robbins captures the essence of what I have learned, "Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men."

My fear of man runs deep, but is something I feel like I am overcoming. When I relax the small things (reading scriptures, praying, attending the temple, FHE), I find this fear comes back full force. The adversary is very aware of my shortcomings, and knows this is my "go to" when I am straying away from the Word of Christ and Love of God.

I have had many angels help me in my effort to strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ and My Heavenly Father the past several weeks, including:
Pilgrim of the Cross at the End of His Journey. Thomas Cole. 1848.
  1. During a conversation with one of my supervisors, I relayed that I was struggling to feel valuable to the organization. I wasn't trying to demean the organization, nor leadership - but approached the topic with my supervisor in hopes to get advice for what I was doing wrong, how I could be more efficient, or what I could do to do my job better.

    The past several weeks, I have examined why I have a need for constant feedback, and why I like to know that what I am doing is good, bad, amazing, not so amazing, etc.

    It was at that moment that my supervisor expressed that as long as my relationship with Heavenly Father is in tact, I will feel value/valuable in all other relationships, or whatever work I pursue. It was that moment, I knew my relationship with Heavenly Father was not where it needed to be.

    This was the culminating moment where I realized my pride was being broken down in a VERY loving way from an EXTREMELY loving Heavenly Father.

  2. I attended an All Employee Conference where the HR Director from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about leadership and becoming Disciple Leaders. Part of the training the church administration uses includes an exercise of asking Heavenly Father, "What Lack I Yet."

    I was not ready to ask this question. At this moment, I knew that this is what Heavenly Father was waiting for me to do - so that we could strengthen our relationship. I didn't know if I could handle what he needed of me. Without really asking, I know Heavenly Father allowed me to think/ponder the idea of asking Him "What Lack I Yet," for a little while. I am grateful that He gave me this time.

    I still haven't asked Him, but feel like I am learning anyway.

  3. There are some foundational things that aren't in place in our marriage for us individually, and therefore not in place for us as a couple. We both recognized the need to seek help to overcome some habits that have turned extremely ugly in our marriage.

    Our amazing Bishop is helping us with those foundational elements that are deep rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. His encouragement and testimony of our Savior's ability to heal and help us overcome our challenges has restored in me hope....something I haven't felt in a long time.

    The other night, our Bishop gave me a blessing. Prior to the blessing, I shared with him that I am being humbled right now, and in this state my pride is being broken down....and it is painful. It is so painful.

    The blessing was sacred, but I want to share that this period of being humble is far from over. However, I left the Bishop's office with a renewed sense of hope, a remembrance of Heavenly Father's love for all of His children, and with a surety that when I rely on Jesus Christ, I will be able to withstand, carry, power through, and be so incredibly happy.

  4. In a situation where I was supposed to be advising, I found myself being advised. This young lady pointed out: there are many people willing to die for Christ....which is highly admirable. Yet, how many are willing to live for Him? She continued that when she stops doing the small things, like reading scriptures, going to the temple, praying morning and night...how easy it is to fall short.

    I valued her perspective and realized that I had been falling short. I know one of my Happiness Project Commandments is #8
    It is part of life's learning experience to fail - what is failure anyway? But this is something I realized CANNOT be compromised. I can't fail in this.

    Please don't misunderstand, I GET the reality that I may not do this sometimes. But the conversation renewed my conviction, and buoyed me through this turbulent time.
There are so many other moments that have helped and are helping me along the way. 

Going back to The Book Thief, after Death says "I tire of me," Zusak writes, "When I start thinking like that, I become so exhausted, and I don't have the luxury of indulging in fatigue."


The talk The Need for Total Commitment by Theodore M. Burton, states, "It is true that we each have imperfections to overcome. Life is a constant series of challenges and trials. Notwithstanding, we should never fail to strive for that perfection of life which can bring us closer into harmony with God. As the apostle Paul said in writing to the Philippians:

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as [would] be [come] perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (Philip. 3:14–15.)

Thus we should seek to overcome any discovered fault in our characters which tends to take us away from a total commitment to God."

I don't have the luxury of being in this life with half my foot in the door and half my foot out the door. The time is now for me to commit fully.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Save Me Buddha-Bar Pandora Radio!

I was introduced to the Buddha-Bar soundtrack back in 2009. I heard it when I worked at The Summit Group Communication back in the day via my buddy and amazing colleague, Scott. After hearing it, I went to the library and found out that Buddha Bar had a variety of different soundtracks. I was hooked and bought all of them.

Since then, Buddha-Bar has been my go to when I need to get stuff done, and get it done quickly. Often, you will hear these tunes in my office when I have important deadlines to meet. Its varied sounds including drums, zithers, accordion, bongos, and Parisian influences provides the beats I need to stay focused and "get 'er done." 

With Pandora, I eat up the Buddha-Bar station like gangbusters. 

During my masters program, I would find my chair (Burt) in the Marriott Library at the University of Utah campus, plug in to my computer, and throw on Buddha-Bar. The end production of my writing and assignments was astounding - did I really just write that? Cool.
It is not news that music influences behavior; just read:

How Background Music Influences Behavior at Work: Berkeley Online Magazine
How Music Affects Your Productivity: Help Scout

Some of my most insightful blog posts were written while listening to Buddha-Bar. Now I sound like an advertisement - but I don't care. I just had to share with you something that works for me.

I also notice my house gets a little cleaner with these tunes streaming in the background.

Thank you Buddha-Bar....

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Marriage Learning Curve, Lesson 8: I Hide the Poptarts

Hidden away in my cupboard are varying food items that are purposefully hidden. There is a scene in the Family Man, not my favorite movie, but a fun scene nonetheless - where Tea Leoni's character is enjoying a large piece of chocolate cake. Nicolas Cage's character sees this and gets truly exacerbated because he was planing on having the last piece of chocolate cake. They end up wrestling over it.

Since as long as I can remember, I have stashed the good food stuffs for myself. From the time I was young, I would hide my favorite food items in places no one would ever find them in the pantry - behind the canned food items, for example. I don't know how this started, but have a theory.

I savor. I eat slowly so I can enjoy every bite. Sometimes, I close my eyes. Other times, my friends are embarrassed to be around me because I make yummy noises at restaurants. In this regard, I like the good stuff to last. And often, growing up - the good stuff would disappear after one or two days.  

But I was planning on having that cookie....in two days, because I had one yesterday, I am having chocolate covered pretzels today, and cheesecake tomorrow...therefore HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY COOKIE.

I often have a plan with my food. It requires that I save it as long as I can. I don't know why; this has always just...been.

Since being married, this concept of 'saving food' for when I anticipate a craving, is non-existent. I am married to someone who lacks discipline to stop eating. Left-overs were never a thing for him and his family. And when there are left-overs, they are quickly forgotten and end up going bad if I don't remind him they are there.

The Poptarts I bought just two days ago....are gone. The 4 boxes of cereal I bought 2 weeks ago...gone yesterday. Not to mention that My Sweetheart always says how bad these things are for him. So, I buy them thinking that maybe, just maybe, one day when I am craving Marshmallow Maties because I just love the gooshy marshmallow goodness, I will have a bag left. Nope.

Back in my college days, I used to share staple food items (milk, eggs, butter) with my roommates. Over time, I developed "Roommate Meetings" where when we would first move in together, we could air out any items that 'bugged' us, so that the other roommates would get and understand pet peeves beforehand. It saved a lot of heartache and potential drama to do this. 

My 'bugs and recommendations' were: 
  • If you finish the milk, you are responsible for buying more milk - same day. Heaven forbid that I wake up thinking I have breakfast all taken care of, and have to eat my cereal with water...or not eat cereal at all *gasp
  • Do your dish, or if you don't, don't leave crap in so I have to soak your dish
This food thing has been a source of contention in our marriage. On those days where I have something in mind to cook for our family, and the main ingredient has been eaten - with no regard to my meal preparation - I can't help but get upset.  Not to mention that some of the things eaten doesn't make sense:

Why, why did you have to eat two bags of sharp cheddar cheese for lunch? Really? Couldn't you find something else substantial to eat...like those frozen meals that you pop in the microwave, or the left-over roast and mashed potatoes we had last night?

And so, after many an argument about how I savor, and My Sweetheart's lack of food discipline, I have incorporated a couple of things:
  • Get that food is food, and that we both need it to survive - stop being so grumpy about when food is gone - at least he is eating.
  • I label my food (particularly my fancy French jam). My Sweetheart doesn't have refined tasted buds like mine and doesn't mind non-fancy jam. So, I label my food.
  • My Sweetheart doesn't often have patience for waiting for the microwave, so I have just accepted that I need to buy more cereal and milk. I needed to stop fighting this one, even though cereal is extremely expensive and unhealthy.
  • I put the leftovers right on top of other items in the refrigerator.
  • I put a limitation on the amount of cheese he could eat per day so it could last for at least 1 week 1/2, with which he agrees - and I am grateful.
  • I buy two of the things I know he pounds, like bread.
  • He checks in with me if he wants to slam a gallon of ice cream.
  • I buy him 'food presents' so that he can remember that I love him in spite of the fact he ate my food. 
We are still working on the 'please replace my item same day' business, which is why I still hide my Poptarts. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Improving Life: An Eternal Principle

Last night I attended an activity at church where we discussed....ba ba ba baaa.....The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. For all those who have read my blog in the past, I read this book a while ago, and fell in love with some of the key ideas - particularly her approach to goal setting and sticking to it.

Before I attended the event, I read last year's blog post, echem....one of the only blog posts from last year, about how I felt about goals in general. In my blog Resolutions, Goals, and Happiness Project Commitment, I discussed how I felt about New Year's resolutions. After review, I found myself in the trap again...of thinking how silly it is to make them, and dreaded last night for fear that I would let myself down AGAIN.

But then it dawned on me....my 13 Commandments (something that Gretchen talks about in her book). One of my commandments is "Let it Go!" and another one is "It is part of life's learning experience to fail - what is failure anyway?"

Just a reminder:

My 13 Commandments
1. It is what it is, embrace it, be grateful for it
2. Ask "Am I Being a Lady?"
3. Optimism is a force multiplier
4. By small and simple things, great things come to pass 
5. Don't rehearse unhappiness
6. Let it go
7. Be true to my God and myself
8. It is part of life's learning experience to fail - what is failure anyway?
9. Acknowledge and be OK with what I don't encompass, and what others don't encompass (borrowed from a Gretchen passage: Paradoxes of Happiness)
10. Don't be so hard on yourself
11. Remember you are of great worth 
12. All in the Lord's time
13. Everyone has agency because everyone is a child of God 
 
So, the fact I didn't report on my Happiness Project last year is OK. In fact, it is great! Because life is great, and the importance of believing my commandments is that I will not beat myself up for what I am unable to accomplish. I felt that last year was fantastic. 
 
Lots of good things last year, loved my job, remarkable relationship with My Sweetheart, had the best Snugs in the world, moved into a house, saw my family A LOT (for which I am extremely grateful), made and have amazing friendships, created things, made amazing food, learned from mistakes - it was a good year.
 
I digress.
 
I admit, I am still wary of making goals, but came away from the activity last night with hope in new commitments and goals. This post is to put to memory some of the things we discussed that inspired me.
 
Mental Health
 
Mental health is related to several healthy habits primarily revolving around:
  • Nutrition
  • Use of natural supplements
  • Lifestyle
    • What is your sleep and exercise patterns, etc
  • The benefits of detoxing your home and body for things that are more natural
  • Thoughts 
    • Discovering what kind of thinker you are. 
      • Are you a glass is half full or glass is half empty?
    • Recognition of how and where your thoughts turn when you are unoccupied is a huge part of knowing how you will respond to various goal setting items within mental health
  • Self-care
  • Spiritual 
During our conversation about mental health, we focused on nutrition. 

Foods to avoid to help with mental health: 
  1. Sugar
  2. Fried food (any trans fats, altered fats)
  3. White flour
  4. Caffeine
  5. Fake sugar - the instructor gave an example of if you are going to drink soda, it is actually better NOT to drink a diet soda. It is more damaging to your nervous system than people think. I don't have research to back this up, but I believe it.
Throughout the conversation, all I could think about was pizza. I haven't been able to eat anything solid for one week because I had my wisdom teeth pulled last Friday. My recovery has been slow...and all I can think about are the things I can't eat. Last night, all I wanted was pizza....well, and a big fatty ribeye.

I admire people who eat healthy all the time. I used to detox by eliminating sugar, except for one day a week. I feel like this was a good goal for me...but you know what, I am also of the belief that LIFE IS MEANT TO BE ENJOYED! And if I like sugar, I should eat it....with the motto in mind: Moderation in all things. I came to this conclusion a while ago. Every once in a while I will detox from certain foods, but for the most part, I feel good about what we eat as a family. I am sure that will change as Snugs gets older and starts eating solids. But until then, nutrition is wonderful - but not something I can spend time worrying about right now.

One other concept we talked about that I want to learn more about was when we discussed self-care. There are some new articles circulating on Facebook about Family Minding - which was loosely defined by my group as when you are minding your family so much out of obligation that it actually does more damage to spirit than good. This is something I want to look into later...and sounds fascinating.

Spiritual

We discussed what it would be like if the Savior stood beside us, how would we be or act. Our team discussion leader told us about how she committed to try an experiment where she would pretend He was standing beside her for 5 minutes. At first, in her meditation and prayer, she found it hard to keep up. With practice though, she was able to hold prayerful conversations with her Father in Heaven that impacted the rest of her day. I liked the idea and am wondering the goal I want to set.

One quote I loved from the last General Conference, "Please believe, and please take hope and comfort from this eternal truth. Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it. That is His work and His Glory."

Family

My favorite example of the night was when our team discussion leader shared an example. 

More or less in her words: "At Christmas, I received a gift from my husband. We don't typically do gifts for one another, so I was shocked and felt a little guilty - feeling like I needed to get him something. When I opened it, it was this beautiful red, leather purse that he bought when he was on a business trip to Paris, France. I was in love with it...and carried it around with me all day. 

The next day, I thought - well this is too nice for what I would use it for (because I am a mom with kids and carried diapers, snacks, and suckers - and didn't want to ruin my purse). So, I stuck it back in the box it came in and put it at the top of my closet. My husband asked me one day if I was ever going to use it. I told him I didn't want to ruin it, but he reminded me that he spent a lot of good, hard-earned money, and would appreciate if I used it. So, I started using it, and, as predicted, it got scuffed, dirty on the inside, and I felt terrible. When I went to clean it though, because it was made of good material, the scuffs came out, and it was immaculate again."

She likened this to the Atonement. Are we putting the Atonement on the top shelf because 'it is too good' or because we don't feel like we should use it or else we will ruin it? We have been given this beautiful gift that is meant to be used. The beauty of the Atonement is that we can become clean again - every Sunday through the Sacrament.

She gave some tips about developing lasting familial relationships:
  • One PhD, who was writing a book about universal truths said it was so hard to find universal truths due to the fact that everyone has different belief systems
    • The one universal truth that he found in all his research is the ability all of us have to choose
  • Before acting, ask yourself "Will the choice I make help me become who I want to become?" "Will the choice I make provide a desired outcome?"
  • Others in the group gave the example of how hard it is to read scriptures as a family, and how it is easier to choose not to read them
    • The point is that often our choices become habit forming and do not produce or contribute to the outcome we were originally shooting for
  • Becoming = Begin to be
  • We need to choose to be participants in our own development
  • Being actively engaged and not just letting choices happen is also a universal truth that we talk about all the time at church - to act and not be acted upon
  • When times get tough, consistency is key
    • If we stick to our goal, regardless of how small it seems, it will work out
    • The Lord will not let us down as we try to anchor ourselves to Him
Conclusion

The whole evening was full of moments for me. It was invigorating to be surrounded by other women who are doing the best they can and who are bright, intelligent, beautiful, and engaging. It was a night of reflection for what goals I want to set and those that I am still clinging to from year's past. 

Today, I had additional insight and really have a deeper testimony that goal setting and commitment to things improve our lives, and are eternal principles that will bring us one step closer to becoming like our Father in Heaven. 

I am excited for what this new year will bring.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mommy Tales: Can We Just Wake Him?

How does one start after one year hiatus from the blog world?

I sit in my quiet, barely lit room. There is nothing quite like a soft yellow light in a corner on a dark night. It is comforting, somehow. The heater is blowing through the vent, rustling the feathers of my red and black masquerade ball mask. I hear my neighbor kids getting goofy in the snow, their yells reminding me of Spring....which we are far from. 

My bed is made - quite the accomplishment for me since I also took a one year hiatus from that. I love having a made bed....it dresses up my room for when I return, like it is saying, "Welcome home, Lindsey. You did a great job today. You deserve to be dressed up for." I sit, waiting.

My Sweetheart and I have a couple sayings that find their way into our conversation at least 3 times per day. One of them is "Where is Snugs?" Snugs is the nickname for Little Bundle. At first it was Mr. Snuggles, then Snuggles, then Snuggie; now it is just Snugs. 

Yes, where is he?

When Snugs was first born, I had an identity crisis. I wasn't used to not working, and staying home taking care of a baby. I couldn't separate who I was from my job. I found myself asking, "Who am I without my job? What do I even like? Do I really like jazz music? Do I really like traveling?" My identity went missing and I was at a loss for at least 3 days. 

Snugs slept all the time, so it wasn't like he demanded attention....I just wasn't going to work - that was all. I wasn't trying to adjust to being a mom, I was trying to adjust to not going to work. Weird.

Now I am back at work, and Snugs goes to a nanny. As he gets older and older, I get more and more anxious to be with him. BUT I love where I am. I love where we are as a family. I love life. I am happy.

When I am with Snugs, I am truly WITH him...and that means more to me than anything else. It also means that I miss him even when he is in the next room.

"I'm sorry Snugs, you can't sleep because Mommy wants to play with you."

Evening engagements are hard for me to attend, and I relish lunch hour where I get to see him, if only for 35 minutes. He is the best part of my day. We have a bed time routine where I sing him a couple songs and then put him down. Keep in mind, it isn't because he needs this - he is so good that when I put him down, he goes down - the routine is for mommy, so I can spend just a little more time with him. 

Lately, I have been putting him down to sleep later and later than his usual bedtime. When I do put him down, I ask My Sweetheart, "Can we just wake him?" 

Life is good.