Sunday, July 31, 2011

Put First What's First?

I was thinking about naming this post "How much space is there?"  but then I felt strongly impressed to take down notes and explore feelings I have had lately about how to walk the line between taking care of myself mentally and physically while also giving my all to the other things in my life that I love.  This is a balance I wasn't good at before I became sick as well. 

So walk with me, even if you are not physically sick.

Here is the story of my last week;

I didn't feel well.  I slept a bunch.  I had friends who want to support me come and pick up my children while I took long rests each afternoon. 

That sucks.  But I learned a great lesson I will tell you about in another post some day soon.

Friday rolled around and I decided it was time to try getting out of bed.  We went visiting teaching.  That felt good.  We went to the splash park and that felt good as well.  We picked up all the toys in the playroom and I detailed the kitchen.  That felt FaNtAsTiC!  SOOOOOOO  fantastic!  I took a nap instead of making dinner.  We picked up pizza then went to a ward activity at the park where we watched Tangled until 10:30 as a family.  That felt even better than cleaning!  It was so nice to have fun with my precious family!  Friday was tiring, but I had kept SoMe balance in that nap. 

Saturday is when it all went wrong.  Friday felt so wonderful getting back into the swing of things, so I thought that Saturday would be even better!  No nap!  No sleeping in!  Just energetic happenings all the day!   It would be FaNtAsTiC!!!  It was, until I began with the dry heaves. 

The day had a lot to do with the Farmers Market in my city, processing 10-ish pounds of tomatoes and roasting them into a sauce  (and there are ten more glorious pounds!;), taking the family to a water park for 3 hours, finishing processing said tomatoes and sauce, getting ready for a date with the husband, picking up a babysitter, and going on a date until 10:30 at night.  It was all great until about halfway through the movie and my head began to hurt "a bit".  As the pain in my head slowly increased, so did the pain in the rest of my body until I was sure I was going to lose my dinner  (not dinner!  I finally tried 5 Guys!  Not 5 Guys!  Don't lose that!)  We made it home but I only made it to the garbage can in the garage. 

I didn't take the babysitter home.  Wonderful Husband did.  I spent the next hour making friends with the commode (doesn't commode sound less offensive than other words?  No?  Well shoot...)

I woke up this morning not much better.

Resting gives me time to reflect though.

Yesterday I was trying to ressurrect the girl I used to be.  But like my dad says, there is no going back and that should be a good thing-- so lets all try to learn something shall we?

It would appear that sleeping in a nap are a must for the latest version of my body.  But what about working out?  Mowing the lawn? Cleaning? Water parks?  Cooking?  Service?  Dates (late night ones appear to be out of the question)? Weeding and watering the garden?  Playing with the boys?  Going out with friends?  Crafts?  The list goes on and you may insert whatever activities make you smile. 

The question that gets to me lately is, "How much and how tired am I allowed to make myself doing them?"  Doing too much I guess is bad.  But it is my firm belief that doing too little is worse.  Much worse.  My very self worth is derived from my daily accomplishments-- not compared to anyone else's daily accomplishments-- but compared with what I had energy and ability for.  If I do less than what I am capable of, I cannot look myself in the eye.  I cannot look you in the eye.  I certainly cannot look my beautiful children in the eye. 

I walk a line every day of physical and mental wellness between doing too much and doing too little.  I don't think it is just me walking this line.  I think it is a line everyone walks.  I think it is a line I walked before it was made obvious by health issues-- I just often ignored the fact that I was often falling off of it into the "doing too much" category, resulting in an exhausted mind and body which was unable to cope with what was important because of it.

So now that my physical limitations are closely mirroring my mental limitations, I am forced to examine how to do better.

Here is how I have begun to do that.

I sat down (I have sat all morning-- resting!)  I grabbed my journal and a pen, and I marked down when I need to rest for sure to keep my health up to par.  Well, the latest par.  My par is low.

I need to sleep in, so I marked down the time I wake up.

I need to take a nap (gah!  Nap!  Who has TIME for that?), so I marked down the exact hours I usually do that.

Do you know what I saw??

MANY hours in between all of that!  Many!  My life isn't over after all!  Yesssss.... I assumed a daily nap was a DEATH SENTENCE!!!!  But not true at all!

This week, I am going to try to fill those hours which are left to the capacity with things I want to do.  I am going to give those hours my all.  I am going to live my life. 

My rule is this-- I may do what I desire, but I may not let my desires interfere with sleeping in and nap time (Ha-- I am like a baby!)  and that is it.

No exceptions. 

I am going to try this for a week and see how it goes.  Then, I will adjust my intensity if it proves to be too much on my health.

I am so excited to live this week!  Aren't you?

If you were to take good care of your mental and physical health this week--  what would you do differently?  What if you penned in your physical and emotional needs first and planned your other wants and needs around it?  Would the world fall apart?  I'll let you know how it goes for me.  I hope you try it too. 

If I were to look you in the eye right now, I would encourage you to sleep if you need sleep.  I would encourage you to rest and read a book if you need to rest and read a book.  I would encourage you to have a date with your husband.  I would encourage you to take a few hours for your favorite hobby. I would encourage you to have a night with your friends.  If I were your doctor I would order you to do it.  I would say, "Do these things first, and mold your other many responsibilities around this." 

Why is it so easy to care for others and so impossibly difficult to do it for myself?

Don't.  Know.

I plan on going full throttle during the many free hours I saw.  I made a list I titled, "My All"  and I listed under the things I will give my all during the many hours I have in between taking care of my body by resting.  I listed things like;

Working out
Playing with the boys
other outings
Visiting Teaching
shopping for groceries
mowing the lawn
home improvements
weeding and watering the lawn and garden

I won't have time for every single one of these things every day.  But if I live my hours that I do have, I will have time to do many of them well and happily.   I repeat

I will have time to do many of them well and happily.

Life isn't over.  It is just changed.  It can still be good.  I just can't do every good thing all in one day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sometimes I Just Need to Breathe

Today was so fun.  I woke up feeling well enough to go to a yoga class at my gym.  It is always heaven when I can make it to Yoga.  The boys enjoy playing with friends while I take my class, so it is a double bonus.

The rest of the afternoon was typical, then I had a friend over for dinner-- both of us have our husband out of town so we thought it would be fun to get our kids together to play.  We had such a good time, but we ended up staying up later than we usually do. 

I found myself taking lots of deep breaths as I put the kids in bed.

Do you ever feel this way?  Like there are times when you just want your children to work as a group?  Bed time really is one of those times for me.  I need them to all be one big piece of clay, molding to my every desire.  I need to say, "Everyone kneel for prayers"  only once, and then have it happen.  I need to say, "Now everyone hop in bed to get tucked in,"  and then have it happen.  Kiss on the cheek, hugs, tucks, then I just want to turn on the primary music, turn out the lights, and walk out.  Done for the day!

But nope.  These are three very strong personalities I am dealing with here.  And if they don't feel they have expressed exactly how different they are during the day, they feel a deep need to get it expressed before I turn out that light.  I race to turn out that light.  The faster the better.  But they usually beat me to it with tears, tantrums, requests for drinks AfTeR I have already tucked them in, requests to each pick out their own book for a story time, each one wants cuddle time, and it had better be the exact same amount for each child, and they each want to be tucked in one million times.


During all this madness, I noticed my middle sweet son seemed to have something bugging his little heart.  He is my sensitive one.  He has fairer skin and lighter eyes, and he has a very sweet heart that is easily injured.  I wondered about him.  Then I forgot about him as I finally finished the race and got that blessed light turned off.

I came to my room and finally got into comfy pajamas, and guess who I see peeking through my doorway?  Middle, sweet, fair eyed one. 

I was so sad to have my alone comfy pajama time interrupted that I instantly asked him (in not so sweet tones) to go back to bed for REALS.

I snuggled up in bed with junk food, turned on HGTV (husband out of town;), and slowly felt my knots releasing in my back. (YOGA)

And lo-- guess who showed back up, this time with tears on his little fair face, streaming right from those light green eyes?  The middle boy. 


"You hurt my feelings..."  He said with trembling lip.

 I'll bet.

 "I don't know how to read and I need help finishing my book.."  tear... 

He's lucky he came after I had taken a breath and ate some junk food.  I am not a very good nighttime mommy.  Even on my best days the most I manage is an even toned voice.  But a miracle happened here.  I suddenly felt my heart opening to my fair child.  All I wanted to do was tell him to get a book and cuddle up with me on my beds while I read it to him. 

I did.  He did.  It was the sweetest moment of my day seeing his face light up my room with smiles.  It was so worth it. 

I thought about it after he left. 

I mean-- it was obviously a miracle.  My heart completely melted when I saw him.  I felt calmed and so wonderful as I loved on him.  I gave him exactly what he wanted and it actually turned out to be what we both needed.  I felt love and strength just pouring in to me so I could be there for my boy.

As I thought this moment in my life through, I felt like I could see that I had sacrificed some personal time and given it to my family.  It was a very small act, but it was very important to my five year old.

I feel like if I can do this every so often, perhaps I will continued to be inspired and strengthened to give what my children need in times of crisis. 

I keep feeling that everything will work out just fine during our trials, but I felt like I caught a glimpse of exactly how it will work out tonight.

I just need to keep making a special effort for my family.  Nothing huge.  I need to keep doing the little things that bring us closer together.  God will bless me with inspiration and patience as I do so.  And perhaps we will make it through with strengthened relationships and happy hearts at the end of each day.  And maybe my children will think back someday on how they grew up and the mother they had and they will have some special memories in their hearts of their mother loving them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Start Moving

I was reading in the Ensign yesterday morning before I got ready for church.

There was this lovely article in July called "Start Moving"

I saw the title of this article and I didn't think it would apply to my challenges lately, but I love that Topic so I was intrigues anyways.  And what do you know?  It was just what I needed to hear.  I love the way that works.  God blesses me when I just try to study every day. 

There is this little article on the same page called, "By Small Means"

It is written about someone who is in college.  Not yet married.  No big responsibilities.  Finding extra time in their life to do some of their favorite things, like reading, even.

Now, I am NOT a college student ( I would love that though!)  and I have MaNy responsibilities.  I am married.  But I felt I could still relate with this person because I too have some free time on my hands lately.  My children are getting older and more independent.  I have to rest because of my health problems.  I love reading.  I felt some stirrings in my soul as I read this and felt I would really be able to relate to this article if I kept the spirit with me as I read.

This person wrote, "... I was not progressing.  I was not exercising my faith or being diligent in anything in my life.  I had stopped working toward a goal.  I was simply waiting for something to happen."

Now, I could relate to this in a way.  I had had so many impressions to slow down.  To allow my body to heal when it needed it.  To not have such high expectations of myself.  To relax. 

This is so against my nature that I pretty much felt I had to numb my brain and personality to achieve it.  I was relaxing.  I was reading.  But everyday I was going to bed wishing I had played with the children more. 

One day, I played for about five minutes with the kids.  It was a goofy little game I made up involving blocks and knocking them down with superhero action figures.  I really think it lasted five minutes before I felt I needed to lay down again.  That night, as I asked my boys what their favorite part of their day was, each of them said playing with me was it.

I went to bed with a few tears.  Wishing I could do more but just not knowing how to begin.  I didn't want to overdo it.  But mostly, I didn't want to underdo it.  Know what I mean?  I have felt lost in the mommy area. 

I kept reading the Ensign article.  He said many things that worked on my heart about just trying to improve in very small ways.  Moving forward, even it it was slow.  Just moving forward.  Then he said this,

"I made a special effort to be more involved in my ward, even if it meant sacrificing some personal time."

This is when I am most grateful for the spirit and the way God takes our efforts to study and makes sure we hear what WE need to hear to become more at peace and in harmony with His ways.

This is what I read to myself,

"I made a special effort to be more involved in my family-- even if it meant sacrificing some personal time."

That was it!  That was what I needed to do!  Not anything huge.  Not anything unmanageable.  Not anything that would sacrifice my precarious balance with my health.  Just sacrificing personal time.  So, say I am feeling well for a minute.  Say I have a book calling my name, or some laundry that needs to be a done.  A phone call I would love to make to a friend.  What if during those times I made, "A SPECIAL effort to be more involved in my family."?

And that is what I will do. 

I promised an update on letting others help me.

Yesterday I was released from a very beloved calling.  My favorite calling I have ever had.  It was really hard.  The bishop called me into his office, and desired to give me comforting counsel.  I let him.  I even tried to listen to his advice.  I was given many hugs.  I allowed a tear filled goodbye from a woman I worked with in my calling.  Instead of blocking these things out and dealing with the pain privately, I looked these lovely people in the eye.  I shared tears with them.  I thanked them for their kind words.  I hugged them.  I shook hands with them (if they were guys).  Really, I opened my heart and allowed them in.  I let them comfort me and tell me it would be okay.

I have to say.  I have never felt more loved by my Heavenly Father.  I felt a deep contentment way down to the souls of my feet.  The feeling still lingers today.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I was reading "Mee Speaks"  by Mary Ellen Edmonds a few moments ago.  It is a little book I picked up at a Time Out For Women conference.

She has a chapter on Pride in this book-- DUH DUH DUH.....

In this chapter she placed one of my very favorite, personally most pondered quote,

"Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfullness, arrogance, or haughtiness.  All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.  The central feature of pride is enmity-- enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen.  Enmity means 'hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.'  It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us... The proud wish God would agree with them.  They aren't interested in changing their opinions to agree with God's"

I began working backwards.

It would seem (from my recurring dreams and good advice from my WH and earthly father) that God's opinion for me is that I am a control freak.  Also, that I need to accept help during my tough trial I am going through.  I need to also be careful to never judge others, because I know how much it hurts me when I am judged wrongly.

I have really been interested in changing God's opinion!  I have really been fighting to NOT EVER change my opinion that accepting help is the Devil.  (It's my honest opinion so I can say it)

Satan is trying to rule over me with these prideful feelings.  (Shoot)

If pride is being in a  "state of opposition" to my fellow men as well-- well darn.  Many of my friends have been telling me to let them help me.  Asking if they can help me. 

Ummm... To put it lightly, I am in a state of opposition to that.

God has been sending me crazy dreams (I am vulnerable asleep.  I am relaxed and a bit less pig-headed.  So I get crazy dreams.  I am crazy dream lady.  I'm sure you are jealous) to let me know He would like me to let go a bit.   Just a bit.  Okay maybe a bunch.  And in my discussions with my WH and earthly father, I have seen that God would like it if I would just accept help already.

In my desire to sound clever and hilarious-- I am not getting to the meat of my experience this morning.  So I guess it is time to get serious.

What worries me the most about all of these epiphanies, is this,

"It is the power by which Satan wishes to rule over us..."

I have had dreams.  I have had good advice.  I have had friends support. 

And I have been in a state of opposition to all of these things.  Major opposition.

It wasn't until I read that quote a minute ago that I thought about those feelings and the actions I have been taking are P.R.I.D.E.

That got me thinking-- what if  I stopped fighting what I have felt God telling me?  What if I stopped being in opposition to him and my wonderful friends and family?

What is the worst that could happen?

Nothing bad would happen.  I just would be free.  Free from Satan's enslavement.

Those are some freaky thoughts.

I am going to continue pondering that today.  Maybe I will try it out.  Maybe my panic attack over this new thought (letting others take MY burden on THEM????  Not FAIR!)  will go away after a few YEARS.

I need to do some breathing.  And Yoga.

God is good and correct, always, but that knowlege isn't helping my current panick.  I will work on it and try it His way and get back to you though.

I am going to try letting others help me.  Man that sounds hard.

Wish me luck.  Or pray for me.  Prayer usually works better.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I think you want to hear about ALLLLLL of my dreams

Sheesh.  Another dream?  Well, okay.

I am just going to jump into it.

It was of course very weird.

For one, I was playing softball.  Yeah.  That's never going to happen in real life.

For two, I only knew two people I was playing with.  My dad was there.  My wonderful husband  was there.  And then there were all these random young kids.

Yep.  Me against the kids.  You know.

Anyways, I was watching other players on my team come up to bat and get on base.  The bases were loaded.  Our team hadn't scored any runs.  Then, someone gets up to bat and hits a homer.  But not one person remembers to run.  They are all looking elsewhere and just generally not paying attention.  So we lose our opportunity to score.  In the dream, I was so disappointed.  I found myself yelling out- "Run!"  in a very impatient and frustrated manner.  I was extremely irritated with all the slackers.  ;).

Eventually the dream cuts to me getting on base myself with the bases loaded. 

And guess what happened?  (I am sensing a THEME)  I was suddenly overcome with exhaustion.  I laid my head right down on that base and couldn't get up because I just so tired.  Then, lo and behold, someone hits a homer, and all I do is lay there.  I couldn't get up.  (Just like so many mornings in my pitiful real life)

And then-- you'll never guess.

The rest of my tiny team mates started yelling at me to run.  But I just couldn't.

A few days after this dream I was thinking.  It was Sunday.  I arrived at church late.  But I was there.  My wonderful husband and I have discussed how it seems I am well for more hours of the day when I sleep in.  I slept in, and my family drove on without me to be on time and I came late in a separate car.  (Next time I will wake up half an hour earlier...)  So anyways.  I got to church and saw another church member arriving at the same time. 

My thought when I saw him was, "Why is he late?  I mean, what's so hard about arriving on time??"
Ha-- wow. 

I remembered my dream suddenly and felt so dumb.

Okay-- after thinking of my dream for a few days, I saw that it would be good for me to think about the way I react to decisions other people make.  Yes, the kids were not thinking about the game, so we didn't score any runs.  Yes, I was too tired and worn down to get up and run.

But I really didn't want people to judge me.  They didn't really know my situation just like I didn't know theirs. 

It made me think about how I should never judge another person harshly.  I don't know what they are going through just like they don't know what I am going through. 

I need to remember how I would just want someone to treat me with kindness.  To not make me feel badly.  To not make me feel stupid or worthless because of they way my actions affected others. 

So on Sunday, I saw how the way I react and judge others can affect their feelings.  And I don't ever want to make someone feel worthless or sad or judged ever again.  It doesn't matter why that guy was late.  I was late too.  Can't we all just get along?  Can't we all just love each other?

What I am really saying is---

Can't I just love others?  Can't I just treat others the way I want to be treated?

This sickness is teaching me a lot. 


Friday, July 1, 2011

Control Freak, Really?

I spoke with my dad a few days ago about my dream.  I explained my feelings. 

"I just don't want to start over!  I want the peace I felt before."

He said he had some thoughts about that.

"You need to stop being such a control freak."  (Ha, only my dad would dare say that to me.  And I loved his honesty.  It was relieving.  I don't really think of myself as a control freak.  So I needed to hear it.)

"The times you do feel in control are just an illusion anyways.  It can all change in a second.  You are never the one in control.  God is."

Then I was reading a talk from the last General Conference.  On Sunday, it was the topic for our Relief Society lesson and I have been trying to ponder it since. 

The talk is titled, "More Than Conquerors Through Him that Loved Us" and I was thinking about a certain paragraph very seriously.

"At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope.  Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal-- almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses."

I didn't like this paragraph.  Not because it was too painful to read because I could relate, but because I didn't know what it was talking about. 

I turned to another person who might tell me what I needed to hear.

I read the paragraph to my WH (wonderful husband) and I asked,

"What weakness is it lasering in on?"  I knew that my trial felt painful.  Very painful.  But it was like pushing through a layer of gauze when I was trying to figure out exactly why.

WH looked at me like maybe it was a trick.  Or maybe I had an ulterior motive for asking.  Ha.  Poor man.  He needed some convincing.  I tried honest humility.  In as sincere of a tone as I could muster in my embarrassment I said,

"I know I look stupid and blind.  But I am.  You are on the outside looking in and it is always easy to say-- Duh I know EXACTLY why you are going through this- when you are on the outside looking in.  I really have no idea which of my many weaknesses this trial is zeroing in on.  Tell me what you think."

I was so relieved when he looked like he was thinking seriously about my question.  (What?  I can do humble...;)

What he said came as a complete surprise.  Only to me.  But still.  I had to process it for the whole morning, pretty much, before it made any sense at all.

He said I had a hard time excepting help.  Like I had a, "I can do it ALL BY MYSELF THANKYOUVERYMUCH complex."  (Excuse me?) "That may be what your dad is talking about when he calls you a control freak."

I felt plenty of defensiveness after he said this so I knew he must be spot on.  I held very still and closed my eyes as I tried to see what he was saying. 

Well, I do like to do things on my own.

"I do HATE getting served.  It is the worst feeling."  I said with honesty.

He looked at me like..... Hello?  Can't you see the obvious???  Even though he didn't say it cause he's too much of a gentleman.

I took a deep breath and said,  "Will you tell me why that is a bad thing please."

And he did.  Sweet man.  He was very kind.  He asked me about a recent night when some friends came over to help me finish painting my living room.  ( It was taking forever because of a long stretch of feeling sick)

"Ugh I HATED that night!  I was so embarrassed that that many women showed up without even discussing it with one another.  How pathetic am I that is was that obvious I had bitten off more than I could chew."

WH said, "Tell me who was there."

I named them.

WH then went through, one by one, telling me of how I have quietly served each one of those women.  He said, "This is their turn.  All the warm fuzzies you felt in serving them, they get to feel them now serving you."

I said I didn't even know how to act when others served me. 

WH jokingly said, "Have an attitude of gratitude.  Get a check up from the neck up."

Ha, I thought that was awesome.  And inspired.  I immediately took notes in my journal. 

Attitude of gratitude.  I thought back on times I have tried to help another person in need.  The best times for me was when that person seemed to really need what I had given.  That is always my only hope in serving.  That I get it  right and give them what they felt they needed most in their time of suffering.

The times I felt for sure I had it right was when they said to me, "Thank you so much.  That was exactly what I needed." (I have a thick skull)

It wouldn't hurt to say that when others served me.  To swallow my pride and admit--

I can't do it all myself right now.  Thank you for helping me.

Hmmm... a lot to ponder.  At least now I know what to say when others help me.

Do you feel so embarrassed when others help you that you wish you could just melt into the floor?  Is it just me?

Thanks for sticking around for that novel.