Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Anyway, as I said the words, "You're lucky" I instantaneously felt guilty...truly, the joy of conceiving, carrying and bearing a child, is my most cherished accomplishment, some of my fondest memories, a divine gift...and something I do actually look forward to doing again a few more times. And I thought of my stretchmarks finally as the "stripes of honor" that people joke about. But, this time, to me it didn't feel like a joke. And I started to think of why I got stretch marks. Well, I did gain a little over what I needed and I was insanely swollen due to hypertension, but ultimately, stretchmarks come when your body is getting bigger faster than your skin thought you would be. Basically.
Then I started thinking...I hope that my soul has stretchmarks. I know that sounds silly, and utterly impossible since your soul isn't something physical. But, I hope that my soul has stretchmarks, figuratively speaking. As human beings, in our general nature we have a drive inside of us to press forward. This drive motivates us to be better and stronger. To acheive beyond our personal limits and accomplish. At times we are more motivated than others, but generally, none of us get up in the morning and say, "I don't want to do better. I want to be a worse person than I was yesterday." (At least, I hope none of us say that.)
So, everyday, we try to push ourselves just a little bit harder...stretch our bodies, our hearts, our souls to reach beyond the limits. This is where I get my silly notion of hoping that my soul has stretchmarks. I want to feel like I am stretching every day...beyond the capacities that I even thought I could be, therefore creating stretchmarks, a.k.a. stripes of honor. And the state of our souls should matter more than our physical state, because ultimately, one keeps eternally, and one does not.
"Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." ~2 Corinthians 4:16
Everday our bodies get older...the outward man does perish. Deteriorates. Thankfully, its relatively slow, but inevitable nonetheless.
Our soul does not deteriorate, rather it is replenished, renewed, strengthened...STRETCHED!
President Hinckley said, "We can improve, and when all is said and done that's what this is all about: improvement, changing our lives so that we can help people change their lives and be better; building Zion on the earth."
I hope my soul is covered in stretchmarks. I know that if it is, some are self inflicted but many are the product of others helping me to grow. Thank you for that.
Learning to love my physical stretchmarks may be a constant battle...a love/hate relationship if you will. Sometimes (most of the time, to be honest) I will want to to wish them away. But my spiritual stretchmarks, the ones I've earned and hope to earn, I hope that those stay eternally...and continue to multiply. Because we've all earned those ones too, as our "stripes of honor". Each and every one.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Well, as I try to digest, I'll type to get my mind off of the dizziness of my bursting stomach. I've had something on my mind tonight. I have turned over a new leaf in my life the past few months. I've decided to "GET REAL". And by that, I mean, I decided to be true to myself. I have spent much of my life trying to be someone for someone else...to make others happy. I LOVE to make others happy...especially those I love, and usually that love and happiness is reciprocated. That's called healthy relationships. That, I have not changed. I still very much live to show those I love the service and happiness they deserve for making me the happy and blessed person I am.
What I have changed is trying to make people who don't care if they are making me happy, happy. Make sense? Of course it does, because you all know what I'm talking about. We're talking about being fake, people. I mean, we all do it at one point or another. And sometimes its not intended but we concern ourselves SO much with impressing others or not wanting to offend someone, that we put our own thoughts, feelings, desires...EVERYTHING aside, to make others feel more comfortable. All the while, we are not being true to them or ourselves.
And frankly, I have had ENOUGH of it! I am me...this is who I am. I ate 20,000 calories tonight. Sometimes money is tight and we worry how we'll pay our bills. Sometimes, I go ballistic from stress or lack of sleep or for no real apparent reason at all. Sometimes I curl in a ball on the floor and cry when its that time of month. I weigh myself daily because I have issues with it. I watch MTV reality shows sometimes. I secretly dream of being a super star and sing in the mirror with my hair brush. Oh, the list goes on and on of things that aren't easily admitted. And its okay to admit it, because I am human, and I know all of you out there have your quirks too. It's okay to be real. We don't have to be THAT real all of the time, but you get the point.
And it's okay to love yourself for those things. It's okay to be proud of yourself. I've recently discovered that there are things I really like about myself. I have discovered that I think some things about my looks are really pretty. I have musical talents that I am proud of. I feel I am a good person. I am successful in my life because I try everyday. And a recent development...I am REAL.
I have discovered in trying to be me for me and the people that really love me, that I love myself more than I ever thought. I measured my own happiness and my own self worth on what other people thought of me, and therefore thought that I always had to be better. But for who? I've discovered it was not for me. It was for people that I was never, ever going to please. Because people like that are not pleased with themselves, and they want you to feel that same feeling of defeat. No more...I want to give myself credit, by myself, for myself.
I looked for validation in every possible area. Every one's opinion had to be calculated until I could decide how I "really felt". I couldn't be impressed with myself until someone else measured the worth of my achievements for me. It's a depressing way to live. I want to walk into a room and feel beautiful because I just looked at myself in a mirror and I thought I looked beautiful...not because ten heads did or didn't turn as I walked in.
It's possible to have that feeling. I am just catching the glimpse of it, and let me tell you, it is a magnificent sight to see.
I did not bring myself to this point. Those in my life who really love me, who really cared about me, forced me to this point. Short of shaking sense into me, people like my husband and my sister in particular (who are both very real people, by the way) forced me to see that I was killing myself from the inside with the craziness of trying to be something to everyone. It was a lie. You can't be something to everyone. Once you are true to yourself...once you decide that you are going to be you for you, and no one else, the evidence that we all are trapped in that same nightmare of acceptance comes out, and has a rippling effect.
"When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her." ~Adrienne Rich
If you seek out to be true to yourself, then you will find those around you who want that too. And you will weed out those who don't.
Because if you are not true to who you are, you are betraying yourself in the worst way possible. And your whole purpose for betraying yourself, to be everything for everyone else, is a catch 22 that will come back to bite you, because how can you be true to others, if you can't be true to yourself?
"If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others." ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"A man who doesn't trust himself can never really trust anyone else." ~Cardinal De Retz
And if that costs you friends, relationships, etc, what is more important? The relationship built upon superficial lies, or your own self-respect and self-worth?
"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence." ~Frederick Douglass
And there-in, in that self respect, you will find exactly what you need to be the best you. The one you were striving to be from the very beginning. And that best you, the one always trying to progress to be better and share that light, will accomplish volumes more than the persona that was once the role you played, could have ever dreamed.
"To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves--there lies the great, singular power of self-respect."~Joan Didion
I am barely breaking the surface of my new-found freedom, but I am at a point where I am comfortable with myself and as Mark Twain said, "The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself."
It is the truth. Because you are the one that will lay in bed at night worrying about what others think. You will be the one bending over backwards for people that would never think twice to do the same for you. That loneliness will eat a hole inside you that will never be filled by those acts of self destruction.
I am me. I have always been me...deep inside. Don't get me wrong...I am not a completely different person...who I was wasn't a facade or role I played completely. I was a good person then, too. The personas we play are derivatives of who we really are inside. It's when we start to cater to our own feelings and desires instead of those who are impossible to please, that we can be comfortable to admit and be who we really are and who we really want to be.
And in this discovery of my reality, I have found that I am more respected by those in my life for it. And those who do not respect it, do not need to be in my life. But like I said, I have found human nature is generally kind and accepting. It's what we don't like about ourselves that we point out in others. None of us need fingers pointed at us...we do it enough to ourselves.
This post felt more like a soap box then I've ever felt before. It's not meant to be. I don't know, maybe because its almost 2 am...and I'm getting delirious, I just made myself sound like a babbling idiot. But two things I know for certain, I am happier with who I am today than I ever have been in my life...and I'm STILL insanely full.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I have made a habit of being pretty self deprecating and brutally honest about my shortcomings on this blog, so I guess why hold back now.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I've been thinking about today's post topic for a few weeks. It's always on my mind, but I've felt very inadequate to even write about it. (Not that I am even experienced enough to write on any of the topics I write on, which is kind of the point...I find strength in the topics as I study about them, and vent about my feelings via this blog). But still, this particular topic is of the greatest importance to me...and its very sacred and personal. This is my relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I was explaining to my friend that this relationship is SO multi-faceted- so many angles to come from when writing on the Savior. However, its also completely simple. He is my Savior. He suffered for my sins, and He bled and died for me that I might live eternally one day.
There is nothing more important or sacred to me. And at the same time, there is nothing more that I take for granted each day, than this. I'd say, the majority of the time, I forget to think about it. Even in my daily supplication and prayers, I feel like I pray for my thankfulness of the Savior and His Atonement, but that sometimes its said without real remembrance and no more time spent thinking about it than the few seconds it took me to say it.
I read an amazing book a few years ago called, "Believing Christ". The main point to me was that if we believe in Christ, we have to believe that what He suffered was for each and every one of us individually. That there is no one exempt from the redeeming power of the Atonement if we but come to him with a humble heart and contrite spirit, and a true desire to change.
In today's world, a lot people view believing in Christ to be a childish myth, much as a belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Honestly, maybe that was partly the reason I was afraid to write about this...because I've written about a lot of things that most people can relate to as human beings. Parenthood, Marriage/Relationships, Love of Country, Honesty, Kindness, The Golden Rule...etc. Talking about Christ or God now days is like something that people are afraid to do publicly for fear of sounding like a fanatic. But, after beginning this post and now writing it, I am ashamed I ever let what the world thinks influence me into believing I should maybe keep my mouth shut about this topic.
There is no topic of greater importance. No topic that better applies to the lives of each and every one of us, because whether you believe it or not, Christ suffered for YOU! He is your Savior, your Brother, and your Friend, every bit as He is mine. Whether you believe in Him or not.
Without my belief in Him, to live in this world without the hope that I can one day return to live with eternally with God, my Savior and family...I would be lost in this world, and life would be without purpose. He is my ultimate source of strength.
Christs Atonement for mankind was part of God's Eternal plan. For God to give us a world where we had the free agency to choose, there had to be Savior, because we would inevitably make incorrect choices at one point or another. How then can He expect us to live a life worthy to return to Him, if there is no one to be our Advocate? The fact is, is that we do have an Advocate. We have a Savior who understands every suffering, because He has suffered it, and He will speak on our behalf and take upon our sins, if only we let Him.
Yeah, like I said, multi-faceted topic...and I could go on for hours. Instead, I wanted to quote yet another page from Stand A Little Taller .
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Now, no one can take away anyones insecurities for them. It's something we all have to deal with and reconcile personally. However, our words and actions to others play a major role in attributing to the security or insecurity of others' and their feelings.
We do this in two ways, whether through words or actions:
Compliment: (a) an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially : an admiring remark (b) formal and respectful recognition
Put-down: (a) depose, degrade (b) disparage, belittle (c) disapprove, criticize (d) humiliate
I'd venture to say all of us have probably received both of the above. Compliments that have left us floating on cloud nine and put downs that have left us crippled. I know I mentioned this in a previous post, Divine Reflection, and how we have to realize our divine potential and have confidence regardless of how others around us treat us, but I wanted to focus on helping build each other up. Most importantly, building up our spouses and close family/friends.
In marriage, most couples aren't exactly alike, right? I mean, they don't say opposites attract for nothing. Definitely you have similar interests or personality traits that attracted you to be with one another in the first place, but there will inevitibly be differences. In Stand A Little Taller:
"We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented with ourselves." ~Henri Frederic Amiel
"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you." ~William Arthur Ward
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."~Amelia Earhart
"So many gods, so many creeds,
"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves."~James M. Barrie
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless." ~Mother Teresa
Friday, September 5, 2008
Yes, it is true. I have decided to come out in the open and say it. I am addicted to talking.
It's something that has been a love/hate relationship in my life. There are times where I felt it was one of my most redeeming qualities; the ability to socialize and communicate with others. But there have been times, where my talking has hindered other abilities. One of the most important abilities that excessive talking can do, is hinder your ability to listen.
I have come to terms with the fact that being social and talkative is a quality I was given for purposes that I have recognized in my life, and probably things to come in my life. I have accepted that I do not have to change that part of me completely. There was a time where I felt very trapped inside my own personality and viewed my qualities and tendencies as negative traits. I sometimes had people in my life who would make fun, tease or ridicule me for these things, and instead of seeing in what areas I could use it as a strength, I came to detest the whole idea of it.
As I said before, I have since realized the importance of certain traits and gifts we are given, and that I do need to embrace this part of my personality and use it in positive ways...however, I have also realized that just because it can be a useful and positive thing, that it does have very much potential to be exactly the opposite.
When I was a little girl, my parents used to have to tell me at the dinner table to "stop talking and eat". I have been known to interrupt. More than 99.9% the of the time the interupption is unintentional, but an interruption none the less. I am a sentence finisher...gosh, isn't that so annoying? I annoy myself with it. I have been known to go on and on and on, writing about something in a blog and.....oh...okay, moving on from this point...
The problem with all of this, is that I am still seeking that balance in my life. To accept that I am who I am and that being a talkative and social person is part of my personality, but also on the flip side, to be a better listener and realize that there are others with just as important, if not more important, things to share.
What brought this on, was that our Bishop came to visit our home the other night to get to know us a little bit better, and he left us with a small booklet entitled, "3 Simple Ways to Become a Happier Family". I decided to read it that night as my scripture study, and I highly recommend it. There were some phenomenal ideas and solutions to stumbling blocks on the road to a happier family. You can request a free copy of this booklet from Mormon.org by clicking HERE and going to the bottom of the page.
Anyway, one particular part that struck me that I could start to implement into my young family and my marriage today was the section entitled, "Are You Really Listening?" I want to quote what it says under that question. There is no specific personal credit given for the wording, as far as the author goes, but I'd say it was generally approved in the church leadership. I always like to give the credit to the person who said whatever quote I use, but in this case, its an LDS publication. It says:
"Listening is more than just hearing. An important way to express your sincere interest in your family members is to listen to them carefully. Listening to what people are feeling as well as what they are saying takes concentration and effort. But the rewards are worth the effort-your family members will be more willing to open up and tell you what they thing and how they feel."
I could really relate to that, because, I remember a specific conversation I was having with my husband where this issue came up. He is not so much the intense talker, as I am, and so in the midst of a discussion, he said something to the effect of, "You may hear me, but you're not really listening to me." And it totally hit home. I was definitely "hearing" his words...but I was taking them in just to, and forgive my crudeness, regurgitate a defensive response. I was taking his words and throwing them back at him in order to further my own thoughts or feelings. I wasn't REALLY listening and internalizing his thoughts and feelings with a humble heart. As the above statement mentioned, this kind of listening takes concentration and effort...but the rewards will be worth the effort. I would always ask him why he didn't open up to me more, and it made me realize that my lack of listening did not invite that kind of a submission of his feelings. Why would you want to share your feelings with a wall... or worse, a rubber wall, where every feeling shared bounces off and hits you back in the face?
So, naturally, this portion spoke to me directly. The booklet then gives several steps that will help us to learn to listen more effectively.
*"Show that you want to listen by looking at them when they are speaking."
That eye contact means to the person speaking, that what they say is important enough to you, that nothing else is worth being distracted by. Even better, I think its nice, especially with couples to try to hold hands or sit closely. Focusing all of our attention on that person is not only a great respect, but it clears your mind of all distraction and helps you to internalize what is being said.
*"Avoid interrupting with your own experiences and opinions. If the one speaking pauses, don't rush to add your own ideas."
I should highlight this one in bright red and make it 100 times font. My mind sometimes works at a lightening speed and my wheels are always turning during a conversation. I like to be able to add my experiences. Honestly, and don't think I'm weird, but sometimes I get anxiety if I get a thought and don't share it. I have improved, but sometimes I almost have to hold my lips shut in order to not explode with my thoughts. Definitely something I am working on, and I have caught and noticed myself interrupting or waiting for someone to take a breath and jumping in. Not to mention trying to finish sentences or throw out words when people pause to recollect a word or idea. Seriously, that's annoying. And I really need to work on this one. Plus, it kind of gives the other person the impression that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say, or that you aren't even really listening to what they are saying in the first place because you are thinking about what you are going to say next.
*"Watch nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and posture."
It's not enough to just say to someone, "How are you?" If the response is "Fine," with a tone of frustration, or a frown, or slumped shoulders, survey says....probably not fine. Sometimes people don't know how to come out with it and share their thoughts or feelings. I think this is important for our kids especially. If parents are aware of non-verbal cues, there will be a lot more picked up on. You can often tell when a child or teenager is dealing with something...most of the time, they wear it on their sleeves. Being able to recognize these tones, expressions and body language is a huge step to opening those lines of communication. However, its very important to do-so positively, and with an attitude of acceptance, understanding and willingness to listen. Besides, most husbands know by now, if your wife says, "Fine," with any kind of a tone or expression...she's definitely not "fine". ha ha
*"Be accepting of how family members describe their feelings, motives, and goals without lecturing on how they should think or feel."
Often times we think that every one should view things the same way that we do. Sometimes, a solution to a problem can be in plain sight for one, and another person is blinded to that fact. One of the worst things that anyone listening to another person can say to them is, "You shouldn't feel that way." Everyone has a right to their feelings. No one likes to be told that the way they think or feel is insignificant or invalid.
*"Demonstrate your understanding by describing how they seem to feel: 'It sounds as if you feel...'"
I know this does sound a little bit "therapisty" but it really works! My husband and I have tried it, and it is amazing what is implied or assumed in our minds without reiterating to the other person what you heard. My mom always used to tell me, "You hear what you want to hear." And I think it is true...the same words said in one way, can be taken the complete wrong way by the listening party. It's important to clarify what we understand from our words so that the person really feels as though their true thoughts are being assessed and understood.
*"Share your perspective to offer your insight and alternatives. But unless serious matters such as health, safety, and moral issues are involved, wise parents often allow children to make their own decisions and learn by experience to the extent appropriate for their age and level of maturity."
It's important the we use our experiences to be able to aid others with options on how to handle situations that they confide in us with. Especially our children...they need to know that we have been there, and this is how we handled it or this is what we would have done differently to handle it. But at the same time, you cannot force someone to learn something just by listening to others' experiences. Part of this life is experiencing with our free agency in order to figure out what we want out of this life. As parents. or older siblings, or leaders, we want to teach people who have gone through something to "not go there"...because I've been there. However, after giving the advice and counsel we have to give, it is left up to them to react how they will with the guidance provided. It's a hard one...and I don't look forward to the day when I have to send my children off into the world to make their own decisions and hope I've taught them enough, but that is what makes them who they are and when their real character will shine through.
This section of this pamphlet really just made me realize in my life how much I might be missing out on because my mouth is too busy going to hear other important things that others are saying to me, that can help teach me to be a better person. And sometimes, the most important lessons can come from the simple conversations that we have with those in our every day lives. As Stephen Covey said, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
Thursday, September 4, 2008
But, I am not truly humble. Especially, because I thought to myself, "I am."
I like to be right. Who doesn't? Who likes to be wrong? No one. It's a really hard thing to admit when you are wrong...it comes with lots of feelings of vulnerability. It's like opening your soul to someone when you admit to them that you are wrong and humble yourself before their mercy. I've felt that feeling completely, and been so built up in my pride that I am too afraid to let it down, and therefore will be wrong and still not admit it. I've done this especially to my husband, and thats so not fair. Sometimes, we don't even necessarily have to be completely wrong. I've been in a situation where someone I knew and I both felt valid in our concerns and points, and realistically, we both could feel the way we felt. However, we both could have sat and argued our points back and forth and without the humility to accept that we might have hurt the other person, whether intended or not, we might never have gotten past our own selfish points of view. Luckily, we both were able to humble ourselves enough to apologize for our misunderstandings and move beyond the problem. Without humility, that never would have happened.
Pride is a dangerous thing. From Stand A Little Taller :
Monday, September 1, 2008
And along those lines, how can we have any faith in ourselves and accomplishing anything in this life, if things that we do are laced with pessimism? Helen Keller, someone who in my opinion could have lived and wallowed completely in self-pity, and no one would have ever question why or thought it wrong, had one of the most positive outlooks in human history.
"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. "