Friday, November 20, 2020

Coming to the End: My Fight With Gratitude

I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. My journey to and through this diagnosis has been interesting,
painful, enlightening, curious, hard, and full of ups and downs. I started a treatment called EMDR and also started taking medicine to help with my physiological response to stress, triggers, trauma, moments....

In my StrengthsFinder 2.0 test, two of my top strengths are 'strategic and achiever'. Along with the greatness of these strengths also comes the warning to 'slow down, take time, meditate, create mindfulness, seek peace, breathe....' I could go on.

As with all trials in my life, I find that I want to quickly move through them, to find immediate solutions, to act with often frenzied faith, to put a timeline on my current dilemmas, situations, and circumstances. The term "anxiously engaged" for me has never spoken so true. I am anxiously engaged....all the time.

I struggle creating moments of refuge, respite, peace, and healing. Sometimes I feel my only refuge is going to a distant beach somewhere and shirking all responsibilities - something I haven't done in 20+ years. So, I carry on. I 'achieve'. I run faster and faster. I melt down.

Over time, I have become complacent and content with running fast, chalking it up to my strength. And while I acknowledge that it still is a strength I possess, I also realize it is my greatest weakness when I ignore the warnings and become jaded to my experiences. Recently, my counselor asked me how I feel joy. At the time, I couldn't pinpoint what it meant to have 'joy'. I could talk about peace, contentment, safety - but not joy. 

She asked the same thing about gratitude....and you know, I have always had a fight with gratitude - especially as it related to joy. The idea of 'enjoy the journey' is something I have struggled with for a very long time when I am going through hard things.

For several years, I have become very bitter toward shared experiences where someone says, "I am grateful for my trials." I call BS when I hear this, because REALLY? REALLY, you are grateful that so and so passed away, or that you have cancer, or that you are struggling financially....REALLY? 

Wow, written, this seems harsh....but it proves my bitterness, doesn't it?

I know that meekness and gratitude are often something I lack. I know I am stubborn and have pride. This is not new information. In the year since everything changed for me: my marital status, job, living situation, daycare situation, children who are experiencing trauma, financial situation, COVID, new numbing gratitude has been muted. Forget muted - it has been non-existent

With my PTSD, I tried a medication that numbed me. After prayer and discussing different options with my doctor, I chose to go off the medication - I decided I would rather feel ALL of it than not feel ANY of it. This decision is a very personal one, and not everyone should choose to do this. For me, it feels right.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I was able to cry. 

When the Prophet (President Russel M. Nelson) so beautifully talked about the best prescription to feel peace, I couldn't help but feel all the weight of my fight with gratitude disappear. I am so blessed to have a Heavenly Father who loves me so much that He would guide His servant to help me see clearly. 

In my 20-yearish battle with gratitude, I now understand this prescription to feel peace is exactly what has been missing in my life all this time.

And so....I think this is the year (2020) that I will start to experiment on this prescription to feel peace, to finally slow down, to find calm, to stay still, to see how active God is in the lives of others and mine in order to share my gratitude, and to petition the Lord to heal my heart.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Conscious Uncoupling, Co-parenting, Every Divorce is Different

I remember reading an article when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin got divorced about conscious uncoupling. At first, I thought it was just a PR ploy so this public couple could take ownership of the situation and not allow everyone else to read into their split. There was a lot of backlash too when it was first introduced. While it was a brilliant PR move, absolutely, I didn't understand the depth and genuine nature of the psychology behind this idea until recently.

Since our divorce, I have read many articles and books. I have visited and still visit with a counselor, leaders in my faith, friends, colleagues, parents, siblings, you name it. I remember attending a court-ordered session (mentioned in my previous blog post) discussing the soon-to-be dynamics of our family. After we went, Adam and I had a heart-felt conversation that we wanted our divorce to be different. I recognize this is not unique to us - a lot of divorcing couples feel the same way. 

In the article: Gwyneth Paltrow Hoped to Reinvent Divorce with Chris Martin, by USA Today contributor Susan Haas, Paltrow said, "I just thought, 'I wonder if there's a way to circumvent that [meaning the ugliness that comes with divorce sometimes] and just go directly to the point where we're friends.' We're family, that's it," she said. "We can pretend we're not, and hate each other ... or, let's try to reinvent this for ourselves."

In the article: The breakup guru who invented unconscious coupling: I understand the backlash by Emine Saner, Katherine Woodward Thomas explains that she and her former husband both had parents who experienced traumatic divorces, and didn't want their daughter to have the same experience because they remember it being so painful for everyone.

“We aligned on an intention together to make sure our daughter could still have a happy childhood,” says Woodward Thomas. “That intention kept calling us to rise to be the bigger person, to take the high road at every turnHe started a culture between us of generosity and cooperation. When we’re married, we understand the need to put money in the emotional bank account by being nice to each other, doing thoughtful things for each other, not badmouthing each other, but I think when we divorce we forget that if we have children, we’re still going to be a family. You have to build your new [post-divorce] family.”

Since November, Adam and I have had discussions about these ideas. I don't want to speak for him, but I knew I wanted to create the kind of relationship that we could be proud of, and our conversations illuminated that this is something he wants too. 

I have had to take comments, advice, etc., with a grain of salt. I am part of conversations where some have said: "shouldn't you be doing XYZ?" or "well, when I went through mine, we did this, so you should do this" or "don't do XYZ." 

While people have good intentions, we decided that every divorce is different and that we were going to do our best to create the kind of cordial, amiable, kind environment we can so our kids can see that we can rise above it. I also recognize this doesn't work for everyone....and that is OK too.

As we have tried to do what is best for the kids, there is no doubt that we have had some highs and lows, some things that work and some things that don't work. We are still navigating hurt and pain individually and sometimes that shows up in our interactions in front of the kids. 

For now, I am grateful and honored to have a co-parent who is willing to try to have this kind of relationship centered around kindness.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I Wrote My Senators

My last post talked about this idea of not staying silent, of joining my brother and sisters of color. Since then, I have engaged in more reading, listening and discussion so I can understand the issues and develop my own opinion on what is happening and what I feel needs to happen for social justice and racial injustices.

I am sure not all of you will agree with what I said, but I am proud that I was able to stand up, finally. Here is the letter I sent to my Senators, of which one has already responded. I encourage you to really dig into what you want to see for our country and write your legislators.

Dear Senator Mitt Romney:

First, thank you for your recent walk during the protest. I appreciate your leadership and guidance during this crucial time.

Second, thank you for giving me the opportunity to email you about my concerns with all the turmoil that is happening in our country. From what I understand, the Congress are convening and discussing the recent tensions around race, equality, and social justice, and looking to craft police reform – as well as consider systemic and economic structures that support racial equality.

I am not affiliated with the organization Join Campaign Zero, but feel they have developed policy solutions, which have been informed by data, research and human rights principles that will change the way police serve our communities. I feel the campaign is fair and equitable, as it integrates recommendations from communities, research organizations, and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The campaign can be viewed at:, and includes sections on:
  • End broken windows (minor crimes) over-policing
  • Community oversight
  • Limit use of force
    • Including training for skills of cultural competence, using alternative weapons to detain, standards of reporting those who use deadly force
  • Independent investigations and prosecutions
  • Community representation
  • Right to record police (not sure I agree with all that is said here, but the     approach is sound)
  • Training
  • End for-profit policing
  • Demilitarization
  • Fair police contracts
    • Including financial accountability for officers to be paid administrative during investigations, suspension, etc.

I urge you, as member of the Senate to sustain policies that ensure that Americans have the “right to live freely with dignity and respect and without the threat of violence or repression,” President Barack Obama.

I am sure this goes without saying, but a lot of what we are seeing is more than police brutality.

In the article Level the Economic Playing Field for African Americans, Travis Morris writes:

“For blacks, there are still disparities in educational access, employment and unemployment rates, job promotions, lack of competitive pay compared to whites and employer-provided benefits such as health care and retirement savings programs. Nowhere is an unlevel playing field more apparent than in wealth accumulation between blacks and whites.

According to a recent study, “The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters,” a typical black household has 6% of the wealth of a typical white household. The median white household has $111,145 in wealth holdings, compared to $7,113 for the median black household. A typical white family owns $15.63 for every $1 owned by a typical Black family, What accounts for such a disparity?”

While I am not prepared to speak to the validity of the data, I can say that in order to determine what needs to happen next for our society, we need to re-evaluate the systematic and economic structures that may prevent success for black people.

I encourage you to support and sustain policies that promote racial justice, and re-evaluate providing equal opportunities for:
  •         Education
  •          Healthcare
  •          Fair wages
  •          Employer-provided benefits, including healthcare and retirement

I am told that perhaps the only way this will happen is if we restructure our tax arrangements. If that is what it takes to create equal opportunity, I am willing to pay.

Thank you for your consideration of these critical issues that have existed for far too long.


Lindsey Blau

Friday, June 5, 2020

I Stand: We are ALL God's children

Today, during a NACADA (Global Community for Academic Advising) spotlight webinar, we were asked by the moderator to give a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds

And then, I unraveled. I bowed my head and prayed. Prayed to understand. Prayed to know what to do, what to say. Prayed for my brothers and sisters in this world. Prayed for my students. Prayed for our nation. Prayed for our leaders. Prayed for our state and local governments. Prayed for our children. Prayed for the prophet. Prayed for other religious organizations. 

I may not ever understand the weight that has been felt. I may not understand the anger, frustration, oppression, or depth of sorrow. But, I want to learn. How are you feeling? What does a day look like for you? How are you so confident and strong? You are the experts of your experience and it is time for us to listen.

I read a great article giving tips about how to reach out to people of color at this time. I particularly appreciate that I have been invited to take a stand. The article suggests that doing something is better than doing nothing. Sometimes I am afraid I am not doing the 'right thing' so I shy away from it. I haven't been one to be very vocal about certain topics. Mostly because I was scared of what others would think about me.

How silly is that? Me, scared to voice my deep concern because of what people would think of me, or whether a company would hire me, or if a person would want to date me? Nope, not anymore. 

And so, I take to writing this now. I STAND WITH YOU. I will also reach out to my legislators and will be more proactive in engaging in this conversation. In the meantime, here are some things that have touched my heart and express far better than I can, how I am feeling.

From the Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson (read the full post here):

We join with many throughout this nation and around the world who are deeply saddened at recent evidences of racism and a blatant disregard for human life. We abhor the reality that some would deny others respect and the most basic of freedoms because of the color of his or her skin.

We are also saddened when these assaults on human dignity lead to escalating violence and unrest.

The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children.

During the Savior’s earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As His followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness, and fairness for all of God’s children!

Let us be clear. We are brothers and sisters, each of us the child of a loving Father in Heaven. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, invites all to come unto Him—“black and white, bond and free, male and female,” (2 Nephi 26:33). It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.

Here is one of my favorite YouTube videos that give me hope and courage to do the right thing:

A beautiful painting that represents how I feel (by artist Diana Pedott):

This video also helped me understand something I hadn't thought about before. I am grateful for its educational intent and the discourse it can create:

I realized a while ago that advocacy and political involvement can go a long way, even if it is small. I know that if I want to see social change, I need to know what I am asking for, and be more specific about recommendations and thoughts. Here are some great articles that talk about the 'why' behind contacting state and local representatives.
I love you all and stand with you to end these abuses.

#loveoneanother #blacklivesmatter #istandwithyou #fightracismresponsibly #standupforhumanrights #stoptheviolence

Thursday, February 13, 2020

I thought I hated mornings then: Chaos of mornings as a parent

I battle guilt of not being a good mom. I battle guilt for leaving my kids at daycare. I battle guilt for not feeling guilty about LOVING work and working 8-5. I battle guilt when I lose patience with my kids. I battle guilt when I think my choices have impacted someone else. 

I battle guilt.

While I have wonderful people in my life to remind me how I shouldn't feel this way, which I appreciate, I know that I need to fight this in my timing. It won't be an easy fix for me.

I am currently taking a parenting class so I can understand how to be a better parent. My hope is to learn about behavior and what behavior's are typical during every year of a child's life. My hope is to gain insights into a child's mind since I have felt old for a very, very long time. My hope is to be better as a result of my knowledge.

For the past 2 weeks, as homework, I was supposed to observe how my environment might have an impact on the behavior of my children. 

Perhaps I was given this VERY BAD 2 WEEKS so I could more clearly observe. ("What a gift," she says sarcastically.)

Our daycare provider graciously offered to open 30 minutes earlier to accommodate my schedule and needs. This means, we are up before the sun to start getting ready for our day. Over the course of time, I have learned what works for my kids in terms of our morning routine to get out the door and arrive on time.

Well, I thought I knew....until these past two weeks.

To be totally un-PC: My sweet 1 1/2 year old decided he was 2 this week. My 3 year old decided he was also 2 this week.

My Morning Story
As soon as I enter my 1 1/2 year old's room, he starts screaming "No", and then incessantly screams until I drop him off at daycare. I often greet him warmly, as I always have. But this didn't matter what I did. He shoves himself in the corner of his pack 'n' play (I had to get rid of the crib because he kept flinging himself from it) and knocks his head on the wall and bangs his fists. He also kicks me when he has the chance.

Here are steps I take to try to navigate this behavior:

  1. Give him space: Perhaps I am rushing him, or he wants to wake up on his own. So, I try this, and it makes him more frustrated.
  2. Don't give him space: Perhaps he resents me from the day before when all I could do after daycare pickup was prepare his dinner and put him to bed. Maybe he has leftover anger and he wants alone time with me. So, I give him more love and coo and love on him. This also makes him more frustrated.
  3. More sleep: Perhaps he isn't sleeping long enough. So, I put him to bed earlier. Still, the mood has not changed.
  4. Less sleep: Maybe he doesn't need more sleep. So, I wait one night for 1/2 hour, then the next night for an hour before putting him to sleep. NOPE.
  5. Sick or teething: Perhaps he is teething.....This is my go to for misbehavior in toddlers. But is every behavioral issue about teething or being sick?
  6. Hunger: Nope. Let's just say his bed is a mess from that one time I tried giving him food to calm him down.
  7. Thirst: I let him sleep with water now.
  8. Temperature: I just had a fan installed that constantly runs because my boys sleep hot.
  9. Jesus: Maybe if I pray to understand what he needs, some crazy wacky idea will come that is obviously from Heaven, because as a mere mortal I can't think of it myself. Still waiting to hear back from the big guy.
That about sums up every morning this week.

The 3 year old 

I know ownership is really important to this age group, so a while back, Dean and I would rehearse our morning routine right before he went to sleep as a way for him to set up his morning. Perhaps he forgets or something, because NOTHING goes the way he owned the night before. If anything, he often cries and shouts at me even after I give him something (within reason) that he is demanding of me. He also kicks.

We have had 'incidents' in the past where we have had to pull over to go to the bathroom, missed the bathroom, and everything revolving around not going to the bathroom before we leave our house. It has been dramatic for him, not to mention me. So, the number one  (ha, get it) thing I have tried to instill and something that he has taken ownership before in the past is TRYING to go to the bathroom. 

TANGENT: So, in my class I just learned that 3 year old's forget easily because that part of their brain is still developing. Answer me this: how is it that my 3 year old can't remember that he said he was going to go to the bathroom, but can remember the time I said I was going to make cookies like 2 weeks ago?

Anyway, he has been able to go to the bathroom EVERY time. But is insistent that if he tries and can't, that he is Scott free. This is where it gets hard. I know he has to, but he - for some reason - does not want to. With force and lots of loud words, he finally decides to go to the bathroom. I have yet to hear a stream that lasts less than 1 minute (that means he has a lot of pee in there).

Then the following battle ensues:

Me: Do you want to use the green or red soap? (Because when I give him choice over which soap to use, the argument ISN'T about whether he should wash his hands or not).
Dean: (He has caught onto this trick and says,) "I don't want to wash my hands!"

Then we argue about germs and illness and I can't seem to convince him, so more loud words come out of my mouth. 

By the time I get in the car, I am angry, my kids are angry - and you know what, IT SUCKS!

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

I already hated mornings, and now.....hate isn't a strong enough word.

BUT THEN (Because every bad story requires a moral of the story, right)

I posted my grief on Facebook so I wouldn't feel so bad about me, myself, my parenting, my value....because I was feeling defeated. I asked my friends with pets and/or children to tell me about how their mornings went.

And, luckily, my amazing Facebook community helped me realize I wasn't alone. And you feels good not to feel alone, because that is something else I feel a lot of.

One response said, "CHAOS." A perfect response.

Deanna A. Thompson, author of Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry tells of a cancer story by J. Todd Billings, who said, "Even though [Billings] story constantly courts anomie [lack of usual social or ethical standards], Billings finds comfort in trusting that a nomos exists within God's story. Even when he cannot himself grasp it, he trusts it is there." 

My takeaway is even though my story right now is *CHAOS*, I can find comfort in knowing that God's story isn't. 

That is what has sustained me today. I am hoping it will sustain me tomorrow.