Wednesday, November 27, 2013

October Happiness Project Updates

I remember the days being SO long when I was a child. It doesn't seem fair that I am finally getting a hold of this life thing, and the days speed up. And so, I am running backwards, trying to hang on to October, and December is in 4 days. With that, I have some reporting to do.

October Resolutions

Spirituality: Pray sitting up and study receiving revelation

The praying sitting up thing went and is going well. The whole point of making a goal to pray sitting up was so I wouldn't fall asleep in the middle of the prayer. It was like I was leaving God on hold an entire 8 hours...that's just not very nice. Beyond just sitting up, I discovered that when I pray before my nightly routine, I get better results. 

In my blog post, Receiving Revelation is Active, Anxiety is Not Happiness, I talked about 'receiving revelation' specifically for our future family. My sweetheart and I have been talking to one another and talking with the Lord about moving back west for school. When we were married, we knew this would be a possibility. After researching schools out here, trying online classes, and praying about potential jobs etc., we decided to move to Idaho so my sweetheart can complete his Bachelor's degree at BYU-Idaho.

I have never been one of those people where things 'just fall into place.' I have always felt that I work super hard to get where I get, with full support from God. I know my opportunities are open because of Him. On the other hand, my sweetheart tends to have the 'just fall into place' kind of experiences. In this way, he is great for me. He is teaching me not to freak out so much, or have unnecessary anxiety. That, coupled with prayers to ease my crazy, have been completely helpful for my ability to receive revelation and let things 'fall into place.' I also have to keep in mind my 12th Commandment: All in the Lord's time.

Being able to study about receiving revelation has made me do things differently and increased my happiness.

Marriage: Compliment my sweetheart everyday - must be genuine

This was actually really easy to do. I honestly do not think my sweetheart can have enough compliments, and I don't say that in a bad way. This is his love language and certainly needs to be enhanced during the It moments (It=depression). And you know what, it isn't a bad goal. I think I will keep this one up as much as I can. AND PS: Doesn't he look amazing with a beard? I think so too ;)

Perhaps I can even expand it to be, for every 1 thing I say that isn't uplifting to my sweetheart, I have to follow it up with 3 things that are.

Finances: Actually create a budget and stick to it

We did a budget and attempted an allocated spending plan based on our Dave Ramsey class. With the move in full swing, we are struggling to keep up with filling out our budget. It was also hard to do, seeing that we had different bank accounts and couldn't see where all the money was coming and going. We found ourselves having hour long budgeting sessions that often ended in tears (on my part). 

One other thing to keep in mind is my 13th Commandment: Everyone has agency. I can't force my sweetheart to come and do a budget with me, which is what I felt like most of the time. I could make up excuses for why we haven't completed this task, but I would have to say that we both agree having this down will make us happier. So, we will shoot for January.

Family/Friends: Find memorabilia and text/email/inform the finds to family/friends saying "remember when"

This has been super fun. I have been able to catch up with people I care about the most. I feel that with all the technology available and at my disposal, it has actually gotten harder to establish and maintain intimate connections. Connecting on deeper levels is something that makes me truly happy. I want to continue focusing on this goal and really reach out. 

I have isolated myself lately due to wanting to conquer It (as mentioned earlier), and noticed that isolation makes It worse. Going through memorabilia helps with It too as I remember all those who care about me, and all those I care about. I am more and more convinced that we as human beings are here to take care of others and help them grow.

Intellect: Continue studies on behavioral disorders

I didn't do this and tell you all about why in the blog post "It" Does Not Define Me. Now that the fear to start researching is over, and I really want to know more about it, I will start studying about depression and ADHD, two behavioral issues that I misunderstand as a person who is a caretaker of someone who exhibits them.

Health: Resume work out regime "do it now"

Yeah, this just didn't happen. I have no follow up on this. I need to keep in mind my commandment 8: It is part of life's learning experience to fail - what is failure anyway?

Time: Start throwing things away. Scan unnecessary but wanted paperwork.

A good friend of mine read my post Prioritizing Isn't Compromise, and saw that I was incredibly behind on scanning my documents. I started to do it at the beginning of the month, and the chores of everyday living prevented my progression, hence the blog post. She called me up and asked me to bring over my papers - you know the papers I have held onto since high school. As a self-proclaimed, unpublished on paper, writer, I refuse to throw any of my old creative writing papers away. 

Well, you will be so proud of me. I have thrown away more than 2,000 papers!! We had two full bags full by the end of one night. I can't tell you how liberating it is to not have to haul this stuff around, and can't wait to keep going!! I found myself saying, "What else can I trash!" Say goodbye to the pack rat in me! THANK YOU BOBBI!

Passion: Cook an experiment once a week. Finish one book other than intellect studies.

Did the cooking thing, and more than once a week. You can read all about my amazing dish in my blog post Experiment Sunday: I am a Social Cook. I love cooking so much, I am going to cook a little something something at a going away party we are having December 15 in VA. Holler at me if you are interested in seeing us off, and eating great treats, and I will send you the details for the party.

I finished the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. 

Rating 4 out of 5*'s. 

I like reading books without knowing ANYTHING about them. I bought this at a book sale not knowing what to expect. I loved this book. Little did I know that this book couples nicely with what I am learning regarding behavioral disorders. This book is written from the view of a 15 year-old boy who exhibits some autistic behaviors, or has some other behavioral disorder...although I realize now it never sheds light to what it is exactly. 

I will let you read the background of the book on your own, but I will say I couldn't put it down, it was funny, dramatic, and made me fall in love with the character. It has the swears, and the story is kind of sad, so beware. I am a fan of the author. Since I hadn't or haven't done any research or read reviews on this book, I am still wondering what contact the author has had with persons who have autism. I felt that he was able to capture misunderstood or misinterpreted behavior through this mystery. I highly recommend this book.


So October came and went. In a way I am still struggling with not being able to do everything I set out to do (Commandment 8). But, my good intentions are there, and I have been able to focus on other things that are keeping my little family together in ways I couldn't imagine. The goal is still happiness. The way is rough. And secretly, I am hoping that my happy ending is more than just 10 minutes. 

While digressing a little from the conclusion, let me explain: I don't like watching movies  where the majority is all about doom and gloom, and the "happy ending" is only 5-10 minutes long. I am not encouraged by that brief amount of 'happy.' Even in the scriptures when Christ comes to visit the Nephites (don't know what I'm talking about, visit 3 Nephi 11), he is only there for 4 chapters, and the rest of the book talks about all the bad stuff with a little good stuff intermingled. In the end of all suffering, my hope is that the happy will far outlast the not happy. 

That is what I have hope in. And that is why I am working so hard to find the happy by the decisions I make, and trying to improve the relationship I have with God and those I care about. 

 At the end of the day, scanning an item might not be a big deal. BUT in the grand scheme of things, scanning that item will give me the opportunity to toss it out - and getting rid of clutter and doing all this other stuff makes me happy. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"It" Does Not Define Me

I HATE depression. I hate what It does to my loved one's. I hate what It does to me. How do I make my HATE of this THING, this It, disappear? Do I educate myself on It? Do I cry and cry, and cry, hoping that my tears will heal It? How do I rely on Jesus Christ to fix what is broken? 

I ask these questions....and then I do it all, and in the end, I am exhausted - my hope droops, my heart feels like the Grinches' puny one before it gets big - I get angry, I feel weak, I feel faithless, I become someone I am not.
At the first sign of trouble, I wanted to educate myself on depression, but found that I was too far removed to do so. What was the point of educating myself on It if the one person I love the most is so deep in It to want out? What good will it do to have answers or potential solutions when the strain It wreaks of the feeling of inadequacy?

Just as the water comes up to take me down to its depths, things start looking good. The water becomes smooth as if there was never a storm. I begin to swim and to relax and play in the water. 

Then the storm hits, and I struggle against it and fight hard. Sometimes a lifeboat comes to rescue me. Sometimes, I am strong enough to defeat the storm and stay afloat. Sometimes I take quite a beating and wait it out until the storm is over. This time, the water almost won. That is when I decided it was time.

I begin my research. I want to destroy It....and I want to defeat the storm. 

The blog: Focus on the Family: How to Help When Your Spouse is Depressed, shares a story about a couple who managed to make it work, through It. The article tells the story of Sandra who went to see a doctor about her sudden and abrupt bought of depression, she shares,"Tim and I were both raised to believe that true Christians were happy, thankful people. I was convinced that my misery was caused by a lack of faith, not a medical condition. But truthfully, I wasn't sure which option scared me more. I couldn't even bring myself to tell Tim that the doctor had called my mental health into question."

Over the next few months, Sandra tried to bury her secret — but her sorrow was too pervasive to hide. Their frightened children began asking what was wrong with Mom. 

In the meantime, Tim admits his concern turned to frustration. "I'd ask again and again what was wrong, but she never had an answer," he says. "Not only was I aggravated by my feelings of helplessness, I was angry the life I'd worked so hard to provide wasn't enough to make her happy." 

"And the more angry he got, the more he'd withdraw from me," Sandra adds. "Then I'd feel guilty and withdraw even more. We just kept drifting further apart." 

Despite her efforts to pray during that time, Sandra admits she found it almost impossible to muster the strength or the words. She felt she was not only losing her mind and her family, but now even God had abandoned her."

Then the article then states these beautiful words, BEGIN QUOTE:

Preparing Yourself to Help Your Loved One

Flight attendants always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone next to you. In the same way, it's important to prepare yourself before attempting to assist others when a spouse is depressed. Deep sorrow can be infectious, and it's not uncommon for caregivers to develop symptoms of depression themselves. Guard against this possibility by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and staying in the Word.

Also keep an eye on your kids. Children are often vulnerable to a parent's anxiety. One study indicates that 20% of 10-year-olds whose mothers suffered from depression were themselves victims within five years.

Don't underestimate the value of caring friends and family at times like this. Let loved ones help you with day-to-day tasks, and allow them to listen to and pray with you. The surest way to intensify your struggle is to isolate yourself and your immediate family from those who love you. 


Reaching Out to Your Spouse

When a care-giver understands that clinical depression is a genuine medical condition, he or she may actually feel empowered. It's encouraging to realize there are a number of tangible ways to help a spouse who is depressed:


  • Pray fervently with and for them.
  • Share meaningful Scripture verses.
  • Help them see that the family needs them to get well.
  • Listen; give credibility to their feelings.
  • Seek help for yourself and offer to see a therapist with them.
  • Encourage them to consider medication; research shows that 80% of those suffering from depressive disorders can be treated successfully with modern medications.
  • Show affection; encourage them to get out and do things with you.

  • Tell your loved one to just pray about it or make them feel like healing would come if they'd simply trust God more.
  • Make them feel guilty for the impact of their illness on the family.
  • Blame or criticize them.
  • Imply that they need help because they're weak. Also, don't immediately exclude other family members from counseling. Sometimes, complex relational issues involving several family members can spark depression.
  • Expect medication to solve everything. Also, don't discount the need for prayer — and possibly therapy.
  • Let them continue in a pattern of sleep and isolation.

While It does not define me or my sweetheart, the experience certainly does and will. Now you know....and now you can share what you have learned with me. 

Maybe this article and your advice will be the floating device I need to win over the storm this time. With helpful Do's and Don't's maybe, just maybe things will get better. Maybe that will be us sitting on the porch swing holding hands. Thinking about the future like this again gives me joy, even if only fleeting. It gives me hope, even if only a sliver. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anonymous Thank You's

I have been sitting here almost all morning reading and crying, reading and crying. I was recently exposed to this amazing website where people can write their experiences receiving kindness. Remember my post Finding Happiness When I am Overwhelmed With Humanity? I am so grateful to have found this outlet that I can turn to when I am in my search for goodness in this world.

The website I am talking about is called Anonymous Thank Yous. Thank you to the "conceptualizers" of this website. And Thank You all for your stories that touch me to the point of tears.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Laughing Improves Happiness

I have become transfixed on the idea that laughing improves happiness. In one of my favorite talks by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, called Come What May and Love it, he talks about a time his daughter was supposed to go on a blind date that he and his wife weren't super excited about. An older gentleman came to the door to pick her up. She made introductions to her family, and they got in the car. For what seemed several minutes, the car didn't move. He shares his account: 

"We watched as she got into the car, but the car didn’t move. Eventually our daughter got out of the car and, red faced, ran back into the house. The man that she thought was her blind date had actually come to pick up another of our daughters who had agreed to be a babysitter for him and his wife.

We all had a good laugh over that. In fact, we couldn’t stop laughing. Later, when our daughter’s real blind date showed up, I couldn’t come out to meet him because I was still in the kitchen laughing. Now, I realize that our daughter could have felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she laughed with us, and as a result, we still laugh about it today.

The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable."

I recently read an article talking about the health benefits of laughing. From the online website,, the article Laughter is the Best Medicine states: 

"Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health."

I always heard that when a person smiles, they use less muscles than when they frown. I didn't know how true this was, but I liked the idea. I decided to see what said about it. Just in case you didn't know, is all about getting to the bottom of rumors, spam, and untrue social media circulation. 

Here is what they say on the theory, "The saying's age is not its only mystery; there's no real agreement as to how many muscles have to be worked in the face to produce a smile or a frown. And, given that even what constitutes a smile is up for grabs (some avow the muscles around the eyes get involved; other discount that and look only to those necessary to lift the corners of the mouth), it's possible this is one of those questions for which there will never be a definitive answer. YET whatever medical science ultimately decides about how many angles are dancing on the the head of this particular pin, we would say the resultant numbers would be immaterial because it's the homily's underlying message that matters not the raw facts of it."

I started reading Bram Stoker's Dracula for the first time. I LOVE it! There was one chapter where after a traumatic experience Dr. Van Helsing starts crying then laughing, then crying, then laughing. The person who was with him during this episode,and who knew the history of the occasion, was confused by these outbursts thinking them inappropriate or rude. 

When asked how these outbursts came about, Van Helsing said some magical words, "...King Laugh, he come to me and shout and bellow in my ear, "Here I am! Here I am!" till the blood come dance back and bring some of the sunshine that he carry with him to my cheek. Oh, friend John, it is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries and woes, and troubles; and yet when King Laugh come he make them all dance to the tune he play. [Excerpt continues] But King Laugh he come like sunshine, and he ease off the strain again, and we bear to go on with our labour, what it may be."

I too have experienced laughing fits. They are certainly harder to come by when stress is the rue of the day. But once had, it is not hard for me to want and to crave after laughter. I like surrounding myself with people who are quick to laugh. I am often jealous of those people who make others laugh with such ease. At first, I was bothered by not being that person, but now I just seek the company of those who make me laugh, and LOVE it. 

While I haven't necessarily been able to prove that laughing improves happiness through data or research, I can attest to how it helps me alleviate stress, improves my personal morale, encourages those around me, breaks down barriers, and helps me "ease the strain," all of which contribute to my happiness.

What do you think? Does laughter affect you the way it does me?

And just for kicks, I have included one of my favorite videos that gave me one of the best laughing fits. Enjoy!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Misconceptions on "Disorders": Educating Myself

I have been reading up on behavioral disorders. To be honest, people who have behavioral issues frighten me. Fear contributes to my unhappiness, and one way to combat this is to educate myself on what I am afraid of. I have not been able to dive fully into it yet, but I found some pretty awesome videos that helped me understand this disorder a little more.

I found this particular video through a blog called: Time to change.

I also watched a series of videos following a family whose daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was very interesting to see what accommodations the family made for their child and the struggles they go through to understand the issue. I found the whole process amazing, and really value the parents for wanting the best things for their daughter.

I don't know that I was looking for any definitive answers when doing research on these areas, so I haven't provided anything conclusive. However, I do think it is important for me to educate myself about this to try to eliminate any fear of something I don't understand.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Finding the Good Stuff: Part II

Finding the good makes me feel oh so good. I saw a couple videos and articles today that touched me deeply. It gives me great confidence to know there are amazing people in this world, those who give, and those who are humble enough to receive and turn humbling situations into life-building experiences.

Video #1: Deborah Cohan, diagnosed with breast cancer goes into treatment and makes one request before going under the knife. Huffington Post covers the story, but here is the video.

Video #2: Secret Santa goes out and gives away close to $100,000 of his own money a year to strangers, and finds Thomas Coats, a heroine addict who hasn't spoken to God since he was a child. Coats was given what he needed to change, the love and selflessness of a stranger - he received an answer to his became more than just receiving the gift of money.

Article #1: While you were at Preschool was featured in the Huffington Post. It shows what a creative mother did while her daughter was at preschool. I love this idea.

Video #3: Moms talk about how tough it is being a mom, and then they get a surprise that changes their perspective.

And let's not forget this....because it made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November Resolutions

October flew by, and I was able to accomplish various happiness project resolutions, while I still need to hone some others. For the month of November, I have updated my resolutions, and have kept some the same but added a little spark to them so it creates a noticeable difference, yet produces the same outcome. It is my way of tricking myself into thinking that I did not fail to meet all my resolutions last month, but that I wanted to improve them for this month. Maybe 'not lying to myself' would be a great resolution.

My resolutions for November are:
  1. Spirituality: Start attending the family history center
  2. Marriage: Sing the words to my sweetheart when I am stressed. Come up with slogans or funny liners to help diffuse the tension when annoying habits enter the room.
  3. Finances: Combine and join accounts. Start living out of one account.
  4. Family/Friends: Schedule time to be with friends instead of going home to be on my own. Start a FB page with memorabilia.
  5. Intellect: Start writing about behavioral issues on the blog to develop awareness and record understanding/growth on the subject.
  6. Health: Meditate at least 30 minutes per day.
  7. Time: Continue throwing things away. Scan unnecessary but wanted paperwork, photos, and memorabilia.
  8. Passion: Go to the art museum. Go for a hike. Finish one book other than intellect studies.

I am excited about these resolutions and can't wait to report on them. If you feel like you want to make your own, here is a copy of my spreadsheet that I use. In addition, Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project also has a start-up kit free on her website.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Marriage Isn't for You

I read this truly inspired article about marriage that I feel everyone should read.

I am impressed with the author's ability to capture something so profound. I remember my dad offering a similar opinion stating that before a couple is married, they are only really given a glimpse of what it would be like to be with that person forever. That the 'love' we feel for them is only a snippet - a snippet enough to get you married. After that, you discover what being truly in love really means. 

Most often it is not romantic or whimsical, but built on the challenges you overcome together - even if that challenge is surviving the first year together. Don't misunderstand, it can be romantic and whimsical, over time.

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did, and don't let the title fool you: Marriage Isn't For You in the online blog Forward Walking.