Thursday, October 31, 2013

Receiving Revelation is Active: Anxiety is Not Happiness

This past month, I have been studying personal revelation, particularly "receiving revelation.

First, I must explain that revelation is something that anyone can receive through the Holy Ghost. In the talk, How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life, Elder Richard G. Scott said "The Holy Ghost communicates important information that we need to guide us in our mortal journey. When it is crisp and clear and essential, it warrants the title of revelation. When it is a series of promptings we often have to guide us step by step to a worthy objective, for the purpose of this message, it is inspiration."

Understanding the definition of revelation is not something I typically struggle with to understand. However, I do struggle with the 'receiving' part. I often times pray for answers to prayers - whether trying to figure out the next life event, or praying for the health of persons I care deeply about. I try hard to listen because I know the Holy Ghost is soft-spoken. And when I can't hear the Lord, even after waiting for a while and trying to exercise patience, I get deeply frustrated. That is when I have to remember the promise: God hears and answers the prayers of His children.

In the talk, The Spirit of Revelation, Elder Bednar said, "As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5; 2 Nephi 12:5). Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding (see Alma 5:7; 32:28), and direct and protect you and your family." 

Sometimes I am confused about what it means to have faith to receive answers/revelation. I feel like I need to do the best I can in order to be open to the Spirit and the revelation from God. I often get stuck with 'how much is too much.' 

For example, my sweetheart and I have been praying about our next life steps. We know that staying in the Virginia area is most likely not in our immediate future. As we contemplate a big move, there are several questions we need to answer: where do we want to go, where does the Lord need us the most, would we be able to secure jobs so that we can take care of ourselves financially, what moving company would give us the best rate, do we sell everything we have and just go for it...the list goes on and on. Thinking about these things is overwhelming at times, and trying to plan something that we are not super sure about freaks me out and I get major anxiety about not knowing what is beyond "the now." I also realize that asking questions and not doing research about any of them, does not help us receive revelation - receiving revelation is not LAZY.

Just with almost everything faith-related, ACTION is required in order to receive revelation. In the talk Ask, Seek, Knock, Elder Russel M. Nelson said, "To access information from heaven, one must first have a firm faith and a deep desire. One needs to “ask with a sincere heart [and] real intent, having faith in Jesus Christ to follow the divine direction given.

The next requirement is to study the matter diligently. This concept was taught to leaders of this restored Church when they were first learning how to gain personal revelation. The Lord instructed them, “I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."

For each of you to receive revelation unique to your own needs and responsibilities, certain guidelines prevail. The Lord asks you to develop “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God.” Then with your firm “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence,” you may ask, and you will receive; you may knock, and it will be opened unto you."

At the end of the day, I have to remember that God intends that I am happy - that if I do my best, and have an active faith  in Him, that things will work, and not necessarily in any way that I could have imagined.

Elder Scott continued, "Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult. Sometimes we unwisely try to face life by depending on our own experience and capacity. It is much wiser for us to seek through prayer and divine inspiration to know what to do. Our obedience assures that when required, we can qualify for divine power to accomplish an inspired objective."

Studying this topic has really helped me understand those things that typically give me anxiety, and as you may recall, anxiety does not go hand in hand with my happiness. I know that revelation is real, and that I can receive it when I do my part to receive it. Receiving revelation is active, and happens a lot more than I tend to think. I loved this youtube video* I received in my inbox. It is a good reminder that I am a recipient of revelation all the time, and sometimes forget what that looks like.


*This video is included for the sole purpose of inspiring others. I do not encourage forwarding emails to long lists of people unless it is a Christmas card, moving notifications, party invitations, or wedding/baby announcements. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When Prioritizing Isn't Compromise

It is almost the end of October. I haven't accomplished nearly enough items on my Happiness Project October Resolutions, and you know what....I was a little surprised at my reaction. Instead of getting down on myself for not accomplishing my goals, I was a little relieved. 

This past month has been a whirlwind for my sweetheart and me. I have filled my calendar with things I love to do, and things WE love to do. Keeping up with these events sure puts a lot of my other goal-setting behind. BUT, I have to say, I am completely and utterly happy. I have been able to maintain a balance of things that I should be doing to find my ultimate happiness (my October resolutions), and doing things that really make me happy, and that need to happen. 

I realized that sometimes other things that make me happy SHOULD be put on hold for those other things that make me happy - the more important things. For example, as much as I want to complete my scanning project so I don't have massive amounts of paper around the house, I found that being with people I care about trumps this project. Most often, I find that the time I set aside for my scanning project is interrupted. Typically, I don't like interruptions, but the interruptions I am talking about include a little quality time with my sweetheart, going out with or calling great friends, talking with family members on the phone, etc.

During my Happiness Project, I have also had to learn to put some things on hold in order to meet the basic needs of my home. Just because cleaning isn't part of my happiness project resolutions for the month, doesn't mean that it isn't important to my health and happiness. Sometimes I groan inside to think that I need to do the dishes AGAIN instead of completing my scanning project....and you know what, it is ok. 

There are some things that take priority, and I don't feel like I am 'compromising my happiness' by paying attention to those other things that are necessary for my overall happiness.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Finding Happiness When I Am Overwhelmed with Humanity

Last week, I experienced some "off" days driven by my perception of humanity. I was tired of the news. I was tired of mean people. I was tired of hearing depressing things from the media. I was tired of people always complaining or arguing about what would be best for our country. I lost faith in government. I questioned goodness of the human race - where are all the good people? Pretty intense, huh?

After I was done having all these negative thoughts, I started to think about why. Why was I reacting this way to all this doom and gloom? How could I drum up my happiness by avoiding doom and gloom, and how could I be happy in spite of it? 

While I am not still experiencing these feelings with as much intensity, the feelings of last week are lingering, and I know I have experienced them before. Over the course of this week, I have come up with ways that I can defeat these thoughts should they happen again.

Actively Seek the Good Stuff

I work in an atmosphere that is intimately connected with the media. Last week, the televisions were blaring all the 'bad news' and I felt like I couldn't escape it. In a way my perception about the world/humanity is influenced by media because I am surrounded by it. That is when I realized that in order to defeat media, I needed to search for the happy in media. Searching for the pearls before swine is active. The danger of this attitude is the overexposure of the 'bad stuff' in order to find the 'good stuff', but I had faith I could find something....anything to restore some of my faith in humanity.

And then I saw this: Students Recount Terror Amid Nevada Middle School Shooting, and Nevada School Shooting Victim Was Trained to Help by USA Today. While the details of the shooting are horrific, I was tearfully grateful for a couple things. 1. In the first story, the boys crouched in front of the girls to protect them. 2. There are people out there like Michael Landsberry who stepped in front of the gun to protect students - heroes - just like the school bus driver who protected his school bus kids from a shooter. 

We are surrounded by heroes...who mostly go unnoticed because of all the other 'noise' in the media. I recognize that actively seeking the good stuff is not just media-centric, but last week I had to be creative in how and what I could do to drown out the negative world news I was surrounded by.

Writing Life Down

In the talk O, Remember Remember by President Eyring, he talks about writing things down as a way to remember. Perhaps for him at the time it was something that helped him document his daily activities, but he explains that it became so much more saying, "My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done."

I recall having similar gloom and doom feelings when I first began this blog. In my post Crossing to Safety I wrote about how hard it was for me to find good things in everyday circumstances. I had an incredible experience where my faith in people was restored. I said, "I happen to know that no matter what surrounds us people are innately kind in nature. BUT this kindness is soft-spoken and doesn't boast. This kindness does not stand out the way unkindness does. This kindness is hidden until one day we look up at the stopped traffic and realize that even the most random act is full of goodness and life." 

I have no doubt that being able to recall times of frustration and how I was able to get over it then, will help me overcome my feelings now. Recalling those times and reading about them to see what I did then, made me feel better.

King's Council

I recently had an enlightening conversation about involving others in order to make decisions that contribute to overall happiness, and about the basis of common ground. Because I was in my "mood", I explained my theory that people like to commiserate about bad things in their life - meaning, people like to complain - in order to find common ground. I shared that being surrounded by whiners and complainers all day only contributed to my loss of faith in humanity.

Example: I live in diverse neighborhood. Most of my neighbors speak limited English, but we are still able to communicate. All of my neighbors are SUPER friendly and amazingly nice. I can tell they are the kind of people who would do anything for anyone. I also noticed that their conversation revolves around everything that is "wrong" at our apartment complex. Just by saying, "Dryer broken" shaking their head or tutting their tongues, I understand and reciprocate by nodding my head thinking, "I can't believe the dryer is broken for the fifth time this year."  These small complaints have allowed me to connect with my neighbors. It is a shame though that our one way of connection is about what isn't working as opposed to what is. Hence my theory that misery loves company and people like to commiserate about bad things in their lives.

My coworker had another thought. As I shared in an earlier post, sometimes talking about things that aren't working is super important, and we should mourn with those that mourn, and therefore express our 'not so awesome' life stories.

I do think there is a balance though between commiserating too much. I have a rule at work: if my employees come to me with a complaint they also have to give me three solutions - otherwise I don't feel like their complaining is an effective use of time. Some of my employees hate this exercise, and most really don't observe it since I don't strictly enforce it. But if I could, I would.

Just like the adage expressed earlier 'misery loves company' I also feel like it is important to be careful about our goal of expressing our concerns. If our goal is to whine, we are most likely to continue to be down. 

The NBC News article Quit Complaining - It May Make You Feel Worse, talks about how venting to friends is unhelpful and unhealthy. The article gives an example of a woman who when faced with a problem vents to her friends. It states, "Her goal is to get it off her chest and feel better about the issue. But often, Merydith finds that venting about her problems has the exact opposite effect. “It makes you more amped up about the problem,” says Merydith, of Charlotte, N.C."

I realized that the goal of venting, expressing, or sharing should be about trying to resolve the issue, or else it just turns into a whine session that makes me feel worse.

After thinking about this for a while, my coworker told me something about the King's Council. He said that instead of complaining, whining, or genuinely trying to figure out what to do to be happy when we are in the dumps, we should establish our own personal King's Council. He suggested that I write down a list of persons who I trust and who I can go to for various troubles. 

For example, if I am having having issues with trying to understand how to be better to my sweetheart, and really feel like I need advice, the best person to chat with might be someone who has perhaps experienced similar situations in their own life. It is also important that my King's Council is made up of those persons who know me best, and who motivate me to be a better person. 

Having limited people on the King's Council can also be challenging. I remember only having one person on my King's Council before, and ended up exhausting them with all my problems and forgetting the main goal to only complain if I have a solution. But I also noticed that even if I had solutions to my problems, I was still causing emotional drain on someone else. We have to be careful not to overload our council members with too much or they won't be able to help.


What a great opportunity share life experiences with a coworker and hear what works for him when he is feeling overwhelmed by life and pessimism. By completing some of these exercises I realized how much I have felt overwhelmed like this in the past, and what I can do to when it hits me in the future. I am still trying to figure out how it can be prevented. 

In general, I think it it is quite normal to lose hope. When it hard for me to find solutions to my problems, I know know that if I want to be happy, I have to be active in making it so. Happiness is more than a choice, it is a way of life (and can be a fantastic journey), and if anyone has ever tried to change life habits, they know that it takes a lot of work. I am just glad I get to keep working at it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Experiment Sunday: I am a Social Cook

Yesterday was experiment Sunday! I love experiment days! My experiment days typically go something like this:

  1. Remove all jewelry
  2. Wear something that I don't mind getting oil splotches on just in case my skillets spit. OR wear an apron. Yesterday, I wore an with pockets. Oh, how I love aprons!
  3. Pull my hair back
  4. Turn on classical music or jazz 
  5. Get out all my ingredients
There was a lot riding on these experiments because we invited some family friends to eat with us, so I couldn't mess up ;) 

To improve the process flow for this amazing experiment, one thing I did differently was I measured out all my ingredients, and put them in separate bowls/dishes. Typically I would just throw them in per the instructions, but the recipe had a lot going on, and with a limited amount of time, measuring was essential.

Here are the two dishes I made:

Butternut Squash Skillet Lasagna: 5 of 5 *'s

What I did: I love cooking with gas, but sometimes it is so hard for me to gauge how HOT it really gets. This transition has not been easy, but I am definitely a gas lover all the way! Mid-way through my process, I had to switch it up, and ended up using most of my dishes (something my sweetheart gives me a hard time about every time I cook). Oh well, deal with it! 

First things first, I didn't have an oven-safe skillet, so I used my amazing ceramic coated dutch oven for roasting the squash. This is where the comment above kicks in. After leaving the gas on to continue simmering all the ingredients, it started to burn. I switched to a regular frying pan to complete the chicken and onion ingredients.I also used a sauce pan to make my butter/flour/milk mixture, but after boiling for a while, it didn't get the thickness I needed, so, I washed my dutch oven and tried that again. It worked perfectly. I combined the squash and the mixture and topped it with my fried chicken and onions and then packed the dish full of noodles.

It turned out amazing. I highly recommend this dish and wouldn't change anything about it. With a little innovation, I was able to make this dish work...and it turned out 5*'s

Turmeric Toasted Cauliflower with Cherry Tomatoes and Cannelloni Beans: 4 of 5*'s

What I did: I followed the recipe as best I could. The only changes I made was covering my dish when in the oven, and using whole onions (because I didn't have shallots). I also couldn't find the nigella seeds anywhere, and didn't include a substitute.

What I recommend: This dish tasted amazing. However, I would change some other things including 
  1. Boil the cauliflower and get it semi-soft first. I don't know if this was supposed to be a crunchy dish. I personally like my cauliflower soft. 
  2. Use a different dish. The oven dish I used did not allow the dish to marinade in the sauce, so next time I will use a bigger pan so that all the cauliflower is touching the sauce.
  3. Add a little spice. The flavor of the cauliflower was good, but it was missing a little zest. I would either add lemon juice for a citrus flavor, and some type of hot sauce. I was thinking roasted peppers or cayenne might work well to bring out some spice, but I wonder how Tapatio would fare in this case.
Otherwise, this was a fabulous dish, which I also totally recommend. 

I love being in the kitchen and cooking. It makes me incredibly happy. What makes me even more happy is when people make yummy noises when they are eating my food. And what makes me even happier than that is cooking for people so we can experience my experiments together. I guess you could say I am a social cook ;)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fixing What I Can and Recognizing Small Victories

Last night, my sweetheart and I listened to the General Conference talk Like a Broken Vessel by Jeffrey R. Holland, the talk I wrote about in a previous blog post. While there were many things that moved me, I was struck by one particular thought: "Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient."

Some of you know that I am a "solutioner." At work, if there is a situation or issue, people come to me to talk about all the different ways we can resolve the issue. In my relationship with my sweetheart, I find that I take the lead  - if there is a problem, I try to fix it. 

Just yesterday, my sweetheart informed me that his car was out of commission for the day. Since he relies on the transportation for his job, and I had driven to my carpool area making my car inaccessible, I listed out all the ways he could find his way to my car and use it for his job. I also had planned on going to a friends house right after work, and had come up with a solution to get there and get home should I need to because my sweetheart had the car. I had it all worked out. This greatly upset my sweetheart. He wasn't ready to have these options. In his mind, he already had a plan for what he wanted to do yesterday, including completing the odds and ends projects that build up around the house. Had I let him tell me what HE wanted to do, I wouldn't have come up with this straight shot trajectory-solution that was clearly headed in a direction so far off where he was planning on heading. 

When given an issue, my assumption is that I can fix it. Back in my early management years, I also thought that my way was the only logical way to fix a problem. I have really had to concentrate on breaking through that way of thinking, especially when it comes to working through life issues. It has really been a hard concept for me to "become as a little child" in order to follow Christ's example. I have had to practice  letting Christ guide me and let Him be the "solutioner." In addition, my way doesn't really play out when there is more than one person involved in a decision...something that doesn't really help in personal and professional relationships.

I find that while I am trying to figure out how to fix things, and it doesn't turn out the way I expect, it is easy for me to get discouraged. I tend to follow the same pattern:
  • First, I think that life and solutions should be a certain way, and I sprint for the outcome...most often faster than I have strength
  • Second, I feel like I am being guided toward one way or another
  • Third, I think that this is the only certain way, and when it doesn't turn out, I get disappointed in myself, and other people
  • Fourth, I get angry - angry with everyone
  • Fifth, I realize I shouldn't be angry at everyone, and then I get angry with myself for getting angry
  • Sixth, I become a little bit meeker, realize that being angry isn't worth it, and lean on Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father for more understanding
  • Seventh, I slowly build up courage to keep moving forward
  • Eighth, I gain the courage I need and am given the grand blessing - one that I never would have thought of for myself - and realize my outcome is only possible through the blessings of a loving Heavenly family
It is important during these "life moments" that I look at the small victories, and remember that the ultimate solutioners are Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I have to do my part to bear up what I can, and cling onto those small victories along the way. 

Two weeks ago, my sweetheart and I attended our fourth Financial Peace University class. We learned about debt (pretty fitting with what is going on with our country). We learned how God describes how we are supposed to react to debt - we being everyone in the world. When speaking about debt, Proverbs 6:5 says: "Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler." We were shown a clip of a antelope running away from a cheetah. In the video, Dave Ramsey was yelling RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN. I can't put in words how I felt at that moment. Tears came to my eyes. I was overwhelmed by how much Father in Heaven loves His children. He sees the snares. He sees what can catch us. He is yelling RUN, RUN, RUN. He wants us to be delivered. Read more about the lesson. I was touched beyond measure.

Our little family's small victory last week was going to class. There were several things that could have prevented us from going. But, we needed to hear the message. We needed to know how to make a plan to pay off the student debt we have, and how to stay on top of our finances. We need to be mindful to teach our children about the importance of not spending more than they have so that when situations like what has happened in our country, happen when they are adults, they can be safe knowing they were guided by direct and true principles. 

Before we listened to Elder Holland's talk one more time, I don't know that I would have outlined 'going to class' as a small victory. Now I know that going to class meant so much more to my sweetheart and I than just attending something that makes us feel inspired. This class is helping us become better with our finances so that we can contribute more as a whole. We believe that with all our hearts.

There are lots of games we are playing right now that we want to succeed at: work, school, moving, family, care-taking responsibilities, finances, etc. I know that I can do my best to fix what I can, but that I need to keep in mind that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are the ultimate solutioners. I know that I need to be mindful of the timing associated with each victory so that I won't give up too early - so I don't get caught by the cheetah. I also know that recognizing small victories will help us attain larger victories, and that it is only possible when God is coach of the game.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October Resolutions

September's resolutions went really well, and I loved giving a report about them. I am excited to share with you my October resolutions that I started at the beginning of the month.
  1. Spirituality: Pray sitting up and study receiving revelation
  2. Marriage: Compliment my sweetheart everyday - must be genuine
  3. Finances: Actually create a budget and stick to it
  4. Family/Friends: Find memorabilia and text/email/inform the finds to family/friends saying "remember when"
  5. Intellect: Continue studies on behavioral disorders
  6. Health: Resume work out regime "do it now"
  7. Time: Start throwing things away. Scan unnecessary but wanted paperwork
  8. Passion: Cook an experiment once a week. Finish one book other than intellect studies
Things are going well so far. I have successfully accomplished sitting up to pray so far during the month of October, something that haunts me constantly when I am tired and I end up falling asleep during my personal prayers. It is really hard for God to communicate with someone who puts him on hold because they fall asleep, right ;) I am falling behind on some resolutions like the "do it now" regime, but hope to remedy that for the rest of the month.

Just so you have it, here is a link to my calendar October Resolutions that you can download should you feel so inspired. If you want, Gretchen Rubin also has some templates you can use for your own Happiness Project. 

Here I go!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

DC Tour

Touring DC and taking pictures was one of my Happiness Project items. I have gone to the monuments several times, but never really took pictures. We thought it might be a good idea considering we may not live in the DC area for very much longer. Being able to cross this off my list of things I need to do makes me very happy!

Every time I go to work, whether I take the metro, the bus, or carpool, I always think "Woah, I live cool is that." Sure, it is easy for me to take it for granted, and even murmur about how much I hate traffic and that I have to plan on getting places on time by leaving an hour early. In the end, I live in an amazing place. I am surrounded by amazing culture, art, education, architecture, food....I could go on. I love this place. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

September Happiness Project Update

The Happiness Project is in full swing, and I am excited to report on my September resolutions.

Spirituality: Study everything you can about prayer and communication with God

This was a fantastic exercise to spur my personal scripture study, which has fallen short. I noticed that when I wasn't reading the scriptures faithfully, that life seemed a little harder - that I was more prone to get frustrated and mean. For the first week or so, I did a prayer search on and recorded my thoughts in the blog post: Prayer: Generates Understanding. For the second week, I decided to experiment on what I learned, and wrote about my experience in the blog post: Answers to Prayers, Miracles, and Becoming a Better Person. Needless to say, I feel happier when I study and read the scriptures, and have it marked as a goal for next month - and this time I am inviting my sweetheart to join me.

Marriage: Be more playful

I asked my sweetheart if I have been more playful with him. He responded that I have certainly improved, but I am still a little too serious. As an example of something I have done to be more playful: I took pictures of our stuffed animals in their different welcome home positions. It's true, my sweetheart and I have two stuffed animals on our bed: Trevor and Stewart (referred to affectionately as Stewey). Every morning when my sweetheart makes the bed, he always does something with the stuffed animals to surprise me. Once, they were found sword fighting with toilet paper tubes. I have since started looking forward to coming home to see what Trevor and Stewey will be doing next. I then take pictures of these delightful creatures and intend on making a book: The Adventures of Trevor and Stewey.

Finances: Learn how to budget better

My sweetheart and I started attending Financial Peace University, a class put on by volunteers, but ultimately created from the Dave Ramsey curriculum. We just finished a one month budget and are tracking our spending....something neither one of us have done before. While the process of figuring this out together has not been super joyful, knowing what we are doing with our limited income has certainly made me happy.

Family/Friends: Call the people I care about when I actually THINK about them

I have been able to catch up with so many people...I am sure it is driving my sweetheart crazy. It has even been fun to shoot someone a quick email or note telling them that I am thinking about them because of something I saw. For example, my sweetheart showed me this super bizarre and insanely funny youtube video about toast. We were laughing so hard and I immediately thought of my brother Brendon as being someone who would appreciate it. I sent it to him and he laughed his butt off. The next time I talk to him I can't wait to scream "French Toast!"

Intellect: Learn More About Behavioral Disorders

As mentioned in some of my posts, I want to understand more about ADHD. I wrote more about it in my blog post: Letting People in on My Mourning. In addition to my studies about ADHD, I also started studying depression. I went online to some blogs and reviewed some articles, and found the book I wanted to read on the topic. I ended up purchasing two books on the topic including Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You and Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis. I actually wrote a little something about the last book on my company blog: Minds in Crisis. I haven't started reading these books yet, but I am excited to expand my mind about something that is becoming more common. 

Side note: I also read this interesting article about men and women in Japan called Hikikomori who are younger adults who refuse to leave their rooms because they are living a life of fear, contentment with not going out and moving on with their lives, and depression - which is becoming more and more prevalent in their society. The article also highlights that this may not be just a problem in Japan. It is a pretty interesting read from BBC news called Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?

Health: Develop Healthy Eating Patterns

I wrote about this experience in an earlier blog post: Never Give Up. Needless to say, I am back to cooking and I love it! I need to ease up the sugar though.

Time: Spend more time finishing projects: spirituality booklet/album

It is complete! I had so much fun finally going through all those quotes and scriptures I have been hanging on to since I was in my youth program at church. Now I have one centralized place for all those little dew-dads, and ended up getting rid of so many pieces of paper. I don't know why I hang on to this stuff. I was so enthused by the success of the booklet that I already started my Time project for October, which includes a scanner!

Passion: Blog on your personal and company blog. Visit Washington DC monuments and take photos

I have done a pretty good job at keeping up with both blogs...and you know, it makes me super happy. I started going through the news feeds for things that peak my interest. I look for articles that back up my opinion and feelings. Not only do I feel more informed on what is going on in the world around me, but I feel like I am learning a lot about what I am interested in...something that makes me VERY happy!  You can read all about my other interests at including: PR, Education, and the Job Search.

Here is a little peak at the second Passion goal.


Admittedly, I had unhappy moments during the month of September. In fact, looking back, I had more unhappy moments than I did the month prior. Something to keep in mind is that change is tough, particularly when it comes to changing in order to be happy. But I keep pushing through because I know in the end, all the stumbling along the way will be worth it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Answers to Prayers, Miracles, and Becoming a Better Person

It wasn't until my late high school years that I really began to appreciate the first weekend in October and the first weekend in April. Twice a year, I - along with the whole world, have the opportunity to listen to a general broadcast conference where we hear from the prophet. That's right, the prophet. I believe there are prophets and apostles living on earth today who are guided by the Lord to lead and guide us in the right direction. While some might not agree that this is possible, the messages from this conference are ALWAYS full of love, kindness, and provide peace and understanding. So, regardless of whether you believe in living prophets, the message of hope is extended to all who believe in Christ. That just ROCKS!

In high school, I remember my religious teacher, also known as my seminary teacher, tell us that conference was time we would receive a lot of answers to our prayers. He challenged us to write down questions we had in our lives, pray to God about them, and listen for the answers during the conference sessions. This past week, I listed off my questions, and sure enough, I received my answers. 

As an example, last week I struggled to understand my role as a caretaker of someone experiencing depression. I found myself going under, which is actually quite common for someone taking care of someone else who has a behavioral issues (I don't like the word disorder). It seemed like no matter what I did, too much love, tough love, regular love, parent love, sisterly love, companion love, whatever, was not enough to help us fight this battle without a lot of tears, anger, and frustration. I started doubting myself, and found that I wasn't motivated to do much of anything anymore. That is when I decided that I needed to understand my role more and included my study as part of the Happiness Project. However, when I started studying about it, and it only made me more depressed. Trying not to get even more down, I read how important it is for me to take care of myself, being the caretaker. 

This thought is super hard for me. I am the oldest in my family. I grew up with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings. At the time, I was just bossy and told them what to do, because at the end of the day, I was responsible for their shortcomings. That's right. There is a joke in my family that the oldest is always at fault. It wasn't a joke growing up. If Jamie and Brendon (my younger siblings) were fighting, I was the one who got in trouble. I am glad we can joke about it today, but back then....not so fun. 

As such, I have inherited this sense of responsibility for all those I associate with. If things don't go according to plan, it is my fault. If my caretakee is struggling and lapses - which typically results in physical and emotional blockade, it is my fault. This is something I struggle with, despite the attempt my caretakee has made to help me understand that it isn't. Trying to separate myself from the depression lapses and breakdowns as the person at fault is difficult.

It is also difficult to want to take care of myself. It seems so selfish. But in the end I know that if I don't take care of myself, and let myself go down that spiraling road of depression - which I know I can get out of, because I have done it before through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ who loves me - I won't be able to take care of anyone. That is the truth. As I struggle through this understanding, I sought peace. 

During conference, my prayers were answered magnificently. It was nothing short of a miracle. The talk given by the apostle Jeffrey R. Holland was exactly what I needed to hear. It reaffirmed my limited studies. It lifted me up, giving me hope that I can succeed as a caretaker with someone who has behavioral issues. It provided clarification for what I should do given how close I am with the caretakee. It reminded me of what I need to do to have faith to overcome by illustrating a true story about one of my heroes, Stephanie Nielsen. I can't begin to tell you my joy in feeling peace for the first time in 3 months in regard to this issue. 

The text is not up yet, but the audio is available, and I have included the video below. I will highlight some important takeaways in another post.

I testify Heavenly Father is divine, and ALSO very aware of me and my needs, and is very aware of the needs of ALL of His children. I testify that He is a loving Heavenly Father who wants what is best for us. He gives us opportunities to grow and be better, and all of this is possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for letting me share my joy in true answers to prayers.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Saving Up Love for the Hard Times

My good friend posted this for me, and it brought me to tears. I love what this couple did to keep their marriage strong. The part that resonated with me the most was that the love they accumulated over time was what they needed to sustain themselves through the hard times. 

This is a tear-jerker:

My takeaways:
  • You have to save up the love in order to use it for a rainy day
  • Love grows with time - growth that contributes to a profound and deep love
  • When we serve each other, love grows stronger
  • Love notes are not only sweet, but sustain us
Other articles I found a while back that talk about things that can be enhanced or avoided in marriage in order to strengthen it:

15 Things Wives Should Not Be Doing by Mary Mary Larmoyeux at Family Life

10 Bad Habits That Could Ruin Your Marriage by Emily Battaglia at Lifescript

10 Blunders to Avoid by Laurie Puhn, PhD at Fox News

Strengthening Marriage Through Faith and Prayer:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living Life to the Fullest

I have been contemplating what it means to "live life to the fullest." I pulled a bunch of articles that I love on the topic. I hope you enjoy some of them:

Tiny Buddha: 30 ways to live life to the fullest
Personal Excellence: 101 Ways to Live Your Life to the Fullest
President Monson: Finding Joy in the Journey
Whole Living: Live Life to the Fullest

Themes I saw:
  • Service
  • Relishing life 
  • Being kind
  • Distinguishing what is important and what is not
  • Forgiveness
  • Do the best you can!
  • Keep developing and progressing
  • Choosing joy
I also loved this video of what we will do with the time we have left, shown by a jelly bean timeline.