Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Overwhelmed by Too Much Information

As part of my commitment to read more, I decided to also capture articles I have been reading and interested in lately. Not having the time necessarily that I want in order to finish all these books I have and want to buy, I thought this was a good way for me to stay informed, and in touch with some deeper issues. I like bringing these up in conversation and hearing what people have to say about them.

With this new commitment of mine, I also needed to realize one thing: we are in the information age. We will be bombarded with messaging attached to personal experience and agenda. What we should learn from what we find online is that we are entitled to develop our own opinion. I remember reading a book called the Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making by Deborah Stone. The book was intriguing in that it questioned research because really, research can be demonstrated and swayed to prove an argument. The book called out two research articles one debating one side of the issue, and the other debating the other side. Both articles were brilliant.

At first, I was upset - how was I supposed to decipher which argument was the best? What was I supposed to believe? I remember literally crying in front of my professor (thank you Thad for sticking with me), and really struggling with what was real and what to believe. In this regard, the class did exactly what was intended. It taught me to think. It taught me to ask questions - and not even questions, the right questions. It gave me what I needed to make informed decisions and seek out research of all kinds in order to form my own opinion.


Back to what I was saying. Here are some articles I have read recently that have inspired, or at least provoked thought. What do you think?

Deseret News article: Mormon Mom's Answer: how much should I pay the babysitter

NPR Ed article: Grief in the Classroom: 'Saying Nothing Says a Lot'

It is easy for us to be swayed one way or another. We could be reading one argument for something one minute and one article against that same argument the next. I think of the prophets who foretold about the days before Christ comes again to the earth and what challenges those who are preparing the way will have to face. I am convinced that the number one challenge is the fight for truthful and honest information. Now more than ever, we need to rely on a Heavenly witness if the information we have been given is wise and true. Now more than ever, we need to figure out what information we can rely on. 

In the talk Four Absolute Truths Provide an Unfailing Moral Compass, Richard B. Wirthlin states:

"Many have referred to the current era as the information age. But it is ironic that, in an information-rich era, the biggest threat to our world’s societies, rich or poor, and to each of us personally is the absence of moral clarity and purpose.

Clearly, the stresses and strains that assault us cannot be attributed to a lack of knowledge. In fact, a current weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a whole lifetime in 17th-century England.
 
But unfortunately, the explosive increase in information has not led to a parallel increase in true wisdom.
We cannot cope with the confusions and the challenges of this world unless we use a clear and consistent moral compass that will unerringly take us through our own personal trials and the tugs and pulls of our own temptations—a compass that will chart our way to peace of mind, self-worth, and joy."


Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the decisions I have to make. I get tired of the responsibility associated with having access to all this amazing information. I often find myself daydreaming of a time where it took weeks, even months to receive letters from loved ones. I also daydream about escaping to the high mountains with my car full of all my great books, and losing myself in reading good material. 

But then I am reminded of my responsibility to decipher information and proclaim truth when I see it, and invoke wisdom as I experience life. While it is daunting, it also give me a sense of pride...to carry on what I know in my heart to be true, and sharing that with others. 

What a great day in which I live.

Blind Devotion

Being able to hear her side of the story really opened my mind to what happens in someone's mind when they are faced with circumstances that seem debilitating - for all those who have physical or mental limitations. I don't quite understand it all, but this beautiful video expresses what it is like to have something so cherished, and to lose it. I have only had glimpses of the struggle of knowing what is now lost, and needing to come up with a way to overcome....even if that way seems stubborn.

And for those of us on the other end, I think this video gives a brilliant view into what it means to "support" and "love." When I struggle through trying to understand my sweetheart's discouragement and pain, people tell me to just keep supporting him and loving him. Sure his stubbornness and mine often clash, and we lose patience with one another, me more often than him. I end up crying to the heavens, "Can't he just see that I am trying to be supportive and that I love him?" 

That's the rub, isn't it? Maybe our loved ones going through these experiences desire to find themselves through it, and we shouldn't let them. Maybe, just maybe there is hope knowing that silently we are doing more than they think....because they prefer the silent kind of support.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Resolutions, Goals, and Happiness Project Commitment

Well, it has certainly been a while since blogging about my Happiness Project. While I could come up with excuses and feel bad about not keeping up with my personal goals last year, I decided to start fresh. I used to be one of those people who looked at New Year's resolutions as a 'fad' and something not really worth my time, because I didn't want to be one of those people to break it. 

I thought the idea was silly and overrated. After thinking about it over the course of January, I had some thoughts, which I shared with a good friend of mine who was preparing to teach a lesson about resolutions and goal setting. Here is what I sent her in an email:

I have some interesting thoughts about goal setting in general. Firstly, I think that goal setting is hard for some people, particularly those who are motivated by success in different ways. For example, I am a goal setter. I feel good being able to cross things off a list. It fills me with satisfaction and helps me realize how much I am achieving. 
 
My sweetheart, however, does not set goals because if he doesn't reach them, he feels like a failure. When I am having hard time in life, I don't set goals either because of this very thing. It is not that I am a perfectionist - but that I lose hope that goal setting is not really going to give me the outcome I want. Now, that is key. An outcome I want. Interesting, right? What about the outcome my Heavenly Father wants? How many of us set goals using Heavenly Father as our guide?

I think that is the underlying question. This is not to say that our goals only needs be spiritually focused. No, no. In fact, the one goal that seems to be common on New Year's is losing weight, right? Well, who is not to say that a goal that is important to Heavenly Father for me is to be healthy? 

Measuring Success

Another thing: Perhaps those who don't set goals don't understand how to measure success. I have been reading this great book called The 4 Disciplines of Execution where the authors discuss how to be an effective and successful leader/company. One thing they discuss is when someone makes personal goals, it is almost more important to understand the right measurements for success. The book describes two kinds of measurement:

Lag measure: measurement of a result you are trying to achieve. It is called a lag measure because by the time you get the data, the result has already happened (and it is always lagging).

The book says we need to start thinking about the lead measure instead of the lag measure. A lead measure foretells the event. It is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure will also change (this form of goal setting means that the way you get to your goal might change! Which is totally ok).

So, back to my weight example: Let's say my goal is weight loss. The lag measure for this is typically what my weight looks like on the bathroom scale (which can mostly be depressing and show me that I am really not meeting my goal, which for me equals failure). ALAS, there is hope. 
 
You see if you format this goal using the LEAD measure, you might define your goal as "reducing the amount of calorie intake" or "increasing the amount of calories burned" or "going to the gym 3 times a week." These are more controllable than stating I will lose 20 pounds. If the goal is to lose weight, yes that is understandable, but you need to create measurements of success that you have more control over.

I don't know if that was helpful, but this example made me really think about how I am goal setting and what it looks like to get there.

Recognizing the differences, and woah, aren't we doing this already?

I think understanding experiences of how other set goals is also really important so that you know that there are people that may not be interested in goal setting, and perhaps for very different reasons: fear, laziness, feeling like they are doing the best they can and adding one more thing to the plate would drive them mad, feeling like they set goals everyday - and it is hard to commit to one when they are already internally committed to others. I think this is a great reflection of life. Everyone does it differently. And while people may not formally set goals by writing them down, I believe that we are already doing this goal setting business every time we take the sacrament, we just call it something different. Isn't that what it is for - to evaluate our standing in His eyes every week as we take the sacrament?

To answer your questions

Do you set goals? Yes. I set them at random times, not just once a year. But the new year helps me put things into perspective. 

Do you practice setting New Year's resolutions? I didn't for a long time because, like other things revolved around the holidays, I felt like it was an inauthentic way of doing something we should be doing anyway. I boycotted setting resolutions, until I realized WHY NOT!? If I am already setting goals all year long and every Sunday during sacrament, why not take yet another opportunity to do so. My obstinate, proud moment passed as I really did take New Year's resolution setting to a new level.

Are you able to keep your resolutions? Not until just recently. I was one of those who would make resolutions - and stop tracking them, therefore I was not really able to 'keep them.' One thing I tried describing earlier: I realized the way I was setting goals was not the best to determine my success. I had to re-think how to set goals in order to keep resolutions. I had to determine HOW I was going to measure success, and HOW I was going to get there, in order for me to feel like I was able to keep my resolution. I also think that being flexible to these HOW's is really important. It is not that the goal is changing, so much as we are discovering what works and what doesn't work for us during this goal-resolution process - how we reach our goals will indefinitely change over time

Do you track your progress with your goals? I didn't, until just recently. Tracking them has become completely important to me so I can see where I have been. Again, this is my personality. Tracking may not be something that works for everyone - because again - they may not need it to feel successful. I think another important thing to consider instead of formal tracking is evaluation. I think it is important for us to decide how we want to measure our success, and if that means not thinking about it for a year, that is what that means.

Do you have a method of goal setting/resolution making that works for you? Yes. Writing it down on my blog, and re-evaluation of where I said I wanted to be and where I am, keeping in mind on of my 13 commandments, it part of life to fail - what is failure anyway.

Did you learn anything from your failures? Absolutely. Failure isn't failure in the way we natural people think about things. In my blog post: Funny Thing About Failure, I said:

"In the article Never Give Up by President Monson, he states, "In our journey on earth, we discover that life is made up of challenges—they just differ from one person to another. We are success-oriented, striving to become “wonder women” and “super men.” Any hint of failure can cause panic, even despair. Who among us cannot remember moments of failure?"

He continues, "Our responsibility is to rise from mediocrity to competence, from failure to achievement. Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final."

Failure exists. Failure exists when we don't do our best. Failure exists when we compromise our personal integrity and morals. Failure happens when we don't follow Christ. So, in a way, my thoughts in the circumstance mentioned above were a failure to what I know to be right. Failure is letting the natural man take over our Godly and divine propensities. In this circumstance, I was caught between my natural-triggered emotion and the emotion of how to turn this circumstance into something I could learn from.

I have put off the next steps for the Happiness Project because I am afraid to fail. I am afraid to make commitments I might not be able to keep. This barrier is preventing me from growing. It is time I took a better look at commandment #8. I fail when I don't do my best. Why put off happiness because I am afraid of failure? Failure will make me better. The clock is ticking."

Additional Thoughts

Here are some extras should you want to peruse my thoughts on this subject (from my blog)


Conclusion

I know this was an overwhelming load of information, as you can tell this subject is close to my heart because I struggle so much with not letting myself or others down.I still feel guilt on a daily basis for things I don't accomplish, things my sweetheart didn't accomplish, and things I don't control. I do have to say, I am getting better, and it is a goal of mine to keep going after those Happiness Project areas I identified so long ago. I think it is best if I start small and build up to it...yes, that is what I will do. At least I will start them and see where it goes, right?

Another great blog post about new year's resolutions is captured on Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas!

We have so much to be grateful for this year. In reflection, I can think of no better place to be. Here are a couple highlights.


  • We moved to Rexburg, Idaho so Adam could finish his schooling at BYU-Idaho. Adam is studying Health Science with a
    Promotional Emphasis and has decided to go on the Physician Assistant track. I will never forget the kindness of my friends in DC helping us pack up and hosting me as Adam and I were apart in January until I could make the move. Shout out to my mom for being my driving companion through the most snowy, hazardous time to drive across the country. We are so risky!!

  • I was fully employed by the company
    I worked with in Virginia working as the Corporate Social Responsibility Team Lead where I developed a project plan to enhance community relations and employee engagement at
    DMI. I was able to work from home, and kept strict hours, was able to get in a daily workout, and cooked food everyday. Unfortunately, my employment came to a close with a shift in corporate direction. I will never forget the opportunity to grow in this position and take charge of something I cared about. I will forever be grateful to DMI for this opportunity, and still respect the people in the company and what they are trying to accomplish.

  • I immediately retained another position at Accelas Solutions, a company specializing in integration and configuration of Oracle's CRM software. I recognize the blessings associated with this position, as we were unsure of the opportunities in the area. My sweetheart's simple testimony and faith of our future is what sustained me through this change. It was only one week that I did not have a job, and we see the Lord's hand in our speedy recovery from unemployment. This job challenged me in ways that helped me grow and learn. I had the opportunity to lead projects, become familiar with a new software tool, work with IT specialists on the other side of things, and develop business processes - something that I love to do.

  • We have an amazing church family.
    I was called to work with the Young Women and bounced around with the different age groups (12-17 year olds). They quickly became my family, and I am grateful for all those crazies! I am constantly strengthened by their faith, and admire how they handle all the battles they have to fight, and do EVERYTHING they do. Adam serves as a Ward Missionary. He knew even before he was asked, and loves the opportunity to teach Sunday lessons, and make visits to people in our church. I have seen his faith revitalized and strengthened by unique experiences too special to talk about. We have been adopted by some church parents and love being with and spending time with them and their families.

  • Adam is a straight-A student. With some of the difficulties revealed in earlier posts, my amazing sweetheart was able to keep his grades up. I can't tell you the joy I feel seeing him grin as he showed me his grades after finals last semester. He has a brilliant mind and perseverance unlike any I have ever seen. He is off taking two test today, and I know he will do well!

  • FAMILY, DISNEYLAND and Sea World!
    Adam and I got to hang with the family at Disneyland and Sea World. Most of you know my parents get rather giddy when it comes to all things Disney. Keeping up with them through the theme parks was crazy, and we had to "caffeinate" as much as possible with a major crash at night! It was a perfect break for us as we bounced from ride to ride, making our fast pass strategy better and better. PS: that tall guy is my bro, Bryan....crazy!

  • Adam helped run a
    Blood Drive for BYU-Idaho.He and some others in his program decided to work with the Red Cross to have a 6-day blood drive. They were able to secure hundreds of donors and met their goal by a stunning margin (I don't have the numbers, but trust me, they succeeded with flying colors). It was a stressful process, but in the end it was a kind of work to be proud of.

  • Being so close to Brendon. I love that my B lives so close to us. A 3 hour drive later, and good times are had by all! This year we rocked it at the Def Leppard/KISS concert. It was our anniversary of sorts since having taken him to his first rock concert in Vegas before his mission. Fun times are had in the good ole SLC
    as he became my bosom traveling and visiting companion and accompanied me on many excursions to visit friends and family. We also hit up the Body World exhibit, ate at amazing restaurants like Caffe Molise, walked around the SLC temple to see the Christmas lights, saw Piano Guys (see this amazing Christmas video) in concert, went to see Dracula at the Desert Star Theater, I could go on and on. I love this guy....he rocks my world!

  • Being with amazing friends. We have had several visitor's (you know who you are) to this frozen little tundra. Actually, we love summer and spring in this amazing place, and had a chance to be with great friends and family as we hiked, boated, toured, and ate. Our experience here is phenomenal...we are in love!

  • Adam learned how to play the piano. I don't know if he wanted me to share that, but his skill has grown immensely and he has dreams of being able to play songs like "All of Me." He excelled in every way, and I was impressed by his perseverance and endurance through the hard task of combining two hands together to make music!

  • I am blessed to work at BYU-Idaho. After reviewing my purpose statement on my business blog kablaucommunications.com, I can finally say I have my dream job. I am doing what I am passionate about. I never thought it would take me 6 years to get here, or that I would be directly working with students instead of influencing policy, but I made it, and I owe it all to God. I love what I do, and I love being a part of student's lives. I love my team and my supervisors. To write so little about the experience seems like I am cheapening it somehow, but I honestly cannot express how I feel about my current responsibilities.

  • Adam's family tree is amazing. Did you know we are related to Daniel Boone? Adam and I have been working on family history to boot! We have been able to find some amazing relatives and back up documentation on ancestry.com, and familysearch.org. Thanks to his aunt, we have photos to go with our tree and hope to continue this work. It is exhilarating knowing where he comes from and all those family members who worked so hard to create an amazing legacy, one of which I am I am proud to be a part of. PS: we are still working on this getting some logistics done, so don't worry - it is a work in progress :)

Most important of all, I know that Jesus Christ is Heavenly Father's son born of a virgin mother. I know He died and lives so that all of us can be with Him and our Father in Heaven again. His birth and life was divinely orchestrated. I hope each of you have been able to reflect on this past year to recognize the divine moments, as I have. 

Adam and I are truly blessed and grateful beyond measure.

Enjoy this amazing video: He is the Gift~
 

Friday, December 5, 2014

I Love Mixing Religion with Work!

As you may know, I was recently employed with Brigham Young University-Idaho. Over the course of the past couple months, I have grown in ways I didn't think possible. I have been given opportunities to serve and be served, and it has made my heart beat in a way I didn't know was possible. I am living my dream. 

My purpose statement on Kablaucommunications.com is being fulfilled right now. Remember how hard it was for me to get here? It took me 6 years to get my dream job, and the experiences along the way have been invaluable. 

But this post isn't about what I did to get here. This post is about how I have the chance to feel the Spirit of God everyday. Today, for example, I was blessed to have two incredibly unique experiences. While they are special to me, I will not share details, but I can share some things.
  1. Happy crying makes me oh so happy. Today, I learned that I helped someone with something they have been struggling and praying about for a while. It is so awesome how the Spirit of God works so that I can help other people.
  2. Topic of conversation revolves around God. There are not too many places where the topic in the office revolves around God. From understanding how we can make our office a better place to work, to wondering what to order for lunch - making decisions and most all our conversations here revolve around God and the principles of our faith. It is pretty amazing to go to a meeting where we pray that all the decisions we make will be the kinds of decisions God would like us to make.
  3. I continue to learn new things. I am part of a family who practiced our faith since I was born. I decided to stay with my faith and developed faith in certain things as I have grown into adulthood. Even though I have been taught certain concepts and principles, I still learn new things everyday. For example, I learned about how prayer worked in the lives of students I spoke with as they were completing certain assignments. I am motivated by their stories and how God has worked in their lives. I learn so much from them and so much from others I work with all the time.
I am so blessed to work at such an incredible University where I know I am needed, and where I know I can grow and excel. My goals this year were to learn how to be a better leader, and I feel that this job is giving me what I need in order to learn and become better.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reading, Writing, and Talking about Depression is Depressing

It is so depressing talking about depression. I remember buying a book to learn more about it after my sweetheart and I discovered more about his. I started to read the book, and within the first two pages, I threw it on the ground. I didn't want to be sad. I don't like sad. Sad is an awful place to be. 

In our household, we don't talk about depression. After the discovery, my sweetheart told me that he didn't want to talk about it, not because he was in denial, but because he felt saying, "I have depression" was too much. It reminded him that there was something going on that he couldn't control. In addition with trying to understand his ADHD, it was too much to think about. 

It makes him feel like he is inferior. It makes him feel like there is something "wrong" with him. It makes him feel like he should be able to control how he was feeling, and when he can't, it gets worse.

After reading about depression, I needed a clear understanding of the definition. I only found one that I liked from Dictionary.com:

  • condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more pro-longed than that warranted by any objective reason.
Other dictionary entries say:
  • A serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way
  • A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest....it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems
  • All those other definitions talk about "feelings" as if the depressed person has control over them. Am I saying there is no way to control them, no. I am saying that in looking at all these definitions, it seems that people look at depression as being something a person can ultimately control

All those definitions talk about "feelings" or "mood" as if the depressed person has complete control over how they are 'feeling.'  After reading the definitions from Websters, the Mayo Clinic, and Medical Encyclopedia, it is clear to me that the definition of depression is portrayed as a condition that is solely dependent on the person who has it. 

I am still struggling a bit with the idea that people who are depressed don't have any control, but I can say this: do I agree that some of the emotion is controllable? Yes. The way a person responds to it, matters. They way a person decides to figure out happiness for them, matters. However, us outsiders need to understand that sometimes, depression just is.

I remember being depressed for a time, and it was the worst thing I can remember, aside from physical pain. I remember not being able to explain where this sadness came from. I couldn't describe that no matter what I did to make it better, it wouldn't go away. I prayed, fasted, went to church to seek religious healing, served other people, searched for answers in holy writ and other reading material, meditated, exercised, everything that people tell you to do to be happy. Nothing. Not one bit of happiness. Luckily, this only lasted three months. 


I can't even think about what it would be like to combat this all the time. Imagine waking up day after day feeling like you have done everything you can, and you are still unable to shake the sadness. I do not pretend that my little stint of depression could ever be compared with a lifetime of depression.

I was moved by a story of someone who was recently saved from his overwhelming depression. In the article: Suicide and How my Brother Saved Me from Drowning, Seth Adam Smith has an interesting perspective of how we can support those who have depression. 

I think the takeaway for me is that each person struggling with depression will have a different way of finding ways to be happy, or to be "saved" from the struggle. Everyone has different coping mechanisms. 

Some may choose not talk about the fact that they struggle with it. Maybe, just maybe, not mentioning depression means they have found one way they are controlling something that may not be as controllable as we think....because talking about it is....depressing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Huffington Post: What if People Treated Physical Illness Like Mental Illness

I loved this article most recently published in the Huffington Post: What If People Treated Physical Illness Like Mental Illness by Lindsay Holmes.

Yesterday, I heard of someone who ended their life. I didn't know him, but I was deeply impacted by this news. Lately, I have been surrounded by persons so affected by sadness that is deeply entrenched and has become such a profound part of their lives, they find it hard to escape.

At first, depression was something I didn't understand. I remember having endless conversations with roommates who tried to explain to me that there is more to it than 'choosing to be happy.' Depression is not something someone chooses, it just is. 

Lately, I have learned that depending on the person, depression can just hit out of no where. One minute someone will seem like they are on top of life and the next minute, they are curled up in their bed wondering why they are feeling the way they are feeling. Granted, each person varies. Knowing and coming to understanding of this information has been eye opening for me.

A repercussion of my sweetheart's ADHD is depression. After going to an incredible 'brain' doctor, one who practiced EEG in terms of behavioral health, we found out that my sweetheart's brain never rests. Therefore, my sweetheart never feels fully rested. Imagine never feeling fully rested and how you would react being tired all the time. 

Because his brain doesn't rest, he often finds himself in a space he can't explain. He gets down on himself often, and finds it hard to be motivated to do things. While he struggles through these endless emotions, we have to remind ourselves that what he is experiencing is less him and more about this thing called depression.

The Huffington Post article was a good reminder to me that I can't expect my sweetheart to get up and get going and put his depression behind him. There are things that he can't explain because all he knows and understands is how he is feeling - and that feeling is often not something he can control. 

The articles states, "...despite the staggering evidence and rhetoric aimed at helping people understand, many people still don't get that being diagnosed with a mental illness isn't something that's in their control -- just like having the flu, or food poisoning, or cancer isn't in their control."

I will have more to say about this, but for the time, I wanted to also share this cartoon as seen in the same article. The graphic is illustrated by www.robot-hugs.com.