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.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mommy Tales: The first couple bowel movements after a C-Section

To preface this post, I first must give a couple caveats, assumptions, and identify some
risks associated with what I am about to say.

1. I understand there are women who aren't able to have children, for whatever reason. In that regard, this post may offend you...because the experiences I will outline are things I am going through presently...and my blog is my outlet. I know you probably wish more than anything to bust my head in because I am venting about childbirth.

2.  I enjoy all that motherhood has brought so far, even though I am not even 3 weeks into the process. I love being a mom, I love my Little Bundle. He is the light of my life and I love him more than anything in this world. The post will make it seem like I don't love it or him....this thought is pure nonsense. 

3. I am grateful. On top of everything, I am grateful for what have. I have amazing friends and family that have been thoroughly supportive of this next step for My Sweetheart and I. This post is no intended to offend those who have given so much of their emotional and physical energy to help us find and navigate our way through parenthood.

What I Didn't Know About C-Sections

I had always heard that recovery from a C-Section was hard, but no one really got into the details of what that meant...and probably for a really good reason....because it sucks. I am 3 weeks into my recovery, and feel like my recovery has been a roller coaster of pain and emotion unlike anything I have experienced.

I was given some prescription medicine that is supposed to help manage pain. Alas...I feel my stitches every day...internally and externally. It feels like bee stings on the inside, and feels like rash itches on the outside.

But this blog post is specifically about bowel movements. Gross, I know, but I would have really liked to know what to be aware of with a C-Section. I know I wouldn't have been able to change the outcome of my delivery in any way, but I would have liked to know some things so I could prepare for what was to come.

1. Stool softeners are the best thing since sliced bread. Without these, my first BM would not have been possible. 

2. As much as I tried not to strain, it happened anyway, and it killed. It was like I was bearing a child again. To alleviate some pain, I recommend using a gas relief medicine. My particular favorite is Gas-X. In the hospital, they gave me Maalox...which was also a huge help. Without this gas medicine, my BMs would have been hurt so much more.

3. My parents also suggested Prune juice to help soften stools. With all the other medicine I am on, it is no wonder that BMs are still so painful.

It was a huge accomplishment for me the day that it didn't feel like my stitches were coming out. I remember feeling like it was never going to get better. My husband said something like, "But isn't he worth it," pointing to our new amazing son. I felt like a terrible person/mom because I couldn't respond in the affirmative at that moment. At the time, I thought I was doomed to feel the pain from my BMs forever. 

I am here to tell you, the pain subsides...slowly, but surely....and YES, Little Bundle is worth it.

Mommy Tales: My short labor story

Hello Blog World!

Do I have news for you...I am a mom! It is the most wonderful, amazing, exhausting, teaching, learning, growing, joyful time ever. Little Bundle arrived in July after a great pregnancy.

My Labor Story (the short version)

Before I went into the hospital to be induced (4 days after my due date), I was told about all the risks associated with being induced. Like any parent-to-be (I assume) it seemed like I had to go through with whatever we decided based on books, doctor's advice, and all the advice from friends, family, and strangers, but really had no idea what was happening. 

We went into it completely aware that we were at the disposal of those professionals who were trained to help women with the birthing process, and I trusted them without a doubt...and still do. After being induced, I fell asleep and labor started overnight. I experienced hard labor for about 1 hour before I was given an epidural....praise be to God for this medicine. 

I then experienced contractions until I was fit to start helping the baby move down and help him be positioned for the hard stuff. The nurses had me push to try to get the baby's head to move past my pelvis. They went to get my doctor to make sure we weren't putting too much stress on the baby. The doctor came in had me push laying on my back my side, and then all fours. Immediately, the babies heart rate started going down. An Emergency C - Section was underway. 

From the time the monitor blipped to the time Little Bundle was safely delivered, it was 7 minutes.

I am grateful for fully trained doctor's and nurses that helped through this process. Some have asked if I was scared. I wasn't at peace, but I wasn't scared. It all seems like it was pragmatic and logical. Emotions at the time evaded me....I just did what the doctor said.

It was 4 hours before I came out of the anesthesia...and I met my Little Bundle for the first time. He was beautiful. He had a full head of dark black hair, gorgeous wide eyes, and a hairy back. I could go on and on about his features. 

At first, I kind of felt jipped that I didn't get to watch as I delivered him, but looking back and in speaking with my doctor....we both could have easily been gone if the process didn't go exactly the way it did.

I am a mom....something I never thought would happen for me in this life...and I am grateful. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Heroes and Hope

I watched a small boy, who looked about 7 years old, approach the front of the chapel, clinging to his mom. I saw tears in her eyes, and her face was red from crying. Bending down from the behind the podium wall, I saw as mother's spoke to one another crying together. I couldn't hear the conversation, but I saw the mother lift up the back of the boys shirt to show scars from a massive, and at one point, life-threatening burn. I would later find out that this little boy had been around 2 years old when something on him caught fire in the kitchen, and how his brave siblings fought against the flame, rolling him around and around to try to extinguish it. 

I am sure I would have been touched by this story, no matter the circumstance. But what makes this story amazing is that the woman behind the podium wall was Stephanie Nielsen. I am so blessed to have been in her presence as she testified about the Atonement. 

As I watched this exchange between Stephanie and this mother, I felt the spirit testify to me of how she has become a walking testimony of faith, perseverance, endurance, and love. I am not sure how many witnessed this exchange, but it moved me deeply and stirred in me something I have started to remember recently. Hope.

During the question and answer session at the end of her remarkable and heartfelt story, Stephanie along with her husband Christian, answered the many questions of our students. Similar questions worded differently came left and right. It was as if the students wanted more or thought there was some looming, untold secret of how she was able to get through and survive, or how she is/was able to find happiness, or how she and her husband radiate such an incredible spirit together. 

The answer was always the same: the Atonement. 


I thought about being 20 again, and how much I lacked understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how I could actually use it....everyday. I thought about these young students searching for meaning and truth, and trying to figure this out for themselves and how they can apply the Atonement. 

During my Great Depression of 2009, I remember having a conversation where I was asked if I considered using the Atonement to get me out of this awful rut. Before this particular conversation, my confidants/mentors/heroes always asked questions like, "have you prayed about it?" or "have you gone to the temple" or "have you spoken to the Bishop about your concerns?" or "have you served someone today?" These are all fantastic questions, but none of them had ever said it quite so eloquently...."have you tried using the Atonement to help with your concern?"

That was the first time I really took the opportunity to know about the 'enabling' part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and discovered that this act is not just for the repentant, but for the sufferer and bearer of burdens.

The talk, Atonement and the Journey of Mortality by Elder David A. Bednar, says, “It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”

I am not an expert, and will be the first to admit that it is not natural for me to first see how I can apply the Atonement to my current trial/burden/challenge. One thought said during the visit from the Nielsen's was this powerful reminder. In response to how the Atonement helped her get through all the emotional, spiritual, and physical pain, to paraphrase, she and Christian said: in trying to apply the Atonement, most think that they should try to figure things out and then fill the gaps in with the Atonement, when in actuality, it should be the other way around. We should try to figure things out with the Atonement and then fill in the gaps with other things. 

I am honored to have been present to hear these wonderful words of encouragement and wisdom. I feel I am a better person having had this reminder of hope. I am blown away by the determination of a couple who has chosen to share their story, regardless of the physical and emotional toll it takes for them to share this message over and over again.

A week ago, I was asked who my heroes are. I knew of the Nielsen's story before, and had seen a recent video on Youtube. It wasn't until recently that I thought how because they are sharing this message of hope to the whole world - that is what makes them heroes to me.

Artist: Yongsung Kim