Sunday, April 23, 2017

World Book Day

Today is World Book Day.

Since going back to school, I haven't spent as much time reading for leisure as I would like, but I still consider books a big part of my life. My relationship with books is different now than it was three years ago, but that's part of being in a relationship - navigating change.

In honor of World Book Day, I want to share ten of my favorite quotes from books I've read (these are only some of the many quotes I love).

Quote #1

"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a book before the membrane of the last one has closed behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you."

-The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The quote perfectly describes something I've tried to express, and you know when you have a thought but not the words to say it, and when you finally find it written in someone else's words, you rejoice? This quote did that for me.

Quote #2

“Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule. Our children weight hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.” 

-These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

The word "burden" may seem harsh, but it truly is weight to worry over your children and their well-being.

Quote #3

"...there will be more joy in heaven over the tears of a repentant sinner than over the white robes of a hundred good men."

-Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

In reality, I don't think God will weigh one over the other, but I love this reminder that we can change for the better. We can overcome our mistakes of the past and be made whole because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Quote #4

"October. My favorite month... There's a chill in the air that lifts my heart and makes my hair stand on end. Every moment feels meant for me. In October, I'm the star of my own movie... and I have faith in my own rising action... I come alive in October... October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars into my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins."

-Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I love October, and the phrase, "every moment seems meant for me" is exactly how I feel when I get to wear long pants and walk through crisp leaves. 

Quote #5

"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."

-I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I love this quote because character is truly what makes a person beautiful, but it also takes someone special to see that kind of beauty in others.

Quote #6

"It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?"

-The Giver by Lois Lowry

This quote is short and simple, but for me, it has great meaning. Agency and opposition are two strong themes in The Giver. These two things have essentially been removed from society in this book, and as they are introduced to the main character, Jonas, he begins to understand that they are necessary to the human experience. 

Quote #7

“The depression belongs to all of us. I think of the family down the road whose mother was having a baby and they went around the neighborhood saying, "We're pregnant." I want to go around the neighborhood saying, "We're depressed." If my mum can't get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it's eating us alive.”

-Saving Fransesca by Melina Marchetta

This quote stands out to me because I've had some issues with depression, and even though my depression is quite mild, I know that it affects my family. Research has shown that mothers with depression are inconsistent in parenting and have difficulty attaching to their children. Additionally, children of depressed mothers are more likely to struggle with depression, themselves. "We" have depression, and it haunts me. 

Quote #8

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

This is another nod to the importance of agency. Our choices matter. 

Quote #9

“Millions of people can draw. Art is whether there is a scream in you wanting to get out in a special way.”

-My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

I don't draw, but I have had other things screaming to get out.

Quote #10

“...I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The human experience is both ugly and beautiful. I love the observations made by the narrator in this book, Death. We are magnificently and horrifically flawed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hold On To Your Ears

This post was inspired by poop.


The other day I was at the park with a friend, and we started talking about poop. I'm always shocked at how much there is to say about poop. Before I knew it, we'd engaged in 15 minutes of bowel-related conversation. I think we only stopped talking about poop because we needed to leave. The experience made me realize that I can talk someone's ear off about poop, if given the opportunity.

(Half of you are nodding because you can, too, and the other half of you are horrified).

This got me thinking about what other topics I can easily talk someone's ear off about, and I decided to make a master list. Maybe the list will come in handy someday. Maybe it will prevent me from talking about poop where poop isn't wanted. If we ever go to lunch, you can print it off and highlight the things you'll allow me to discuss in the event of awkward silence.

Here are some of the choices:
  • My kids
  • Books & other things I've read
  • TV (including, but not limited to: Gilmore Girls, White Collar, Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Robin Hood, Scrubs, M*A*S*H, How I Met Your Mother, Home Fires, Friday Night Lights, Hart of Dixie, When Calls the Heart, & Downton Abbey) (note that I don't have all positive things to say about these shows. The conversation might include several frustrations)
  • The gospel
  • Disneyland
  • Pregnancy & childbirth
  • Food
  • Anything and everything I've learned in school (this part of the list is very, very long - it might require its own post)
  • The 90's
  • Board games
  • Everything I've bought from Ross or the thrift store in the past year 
  • Blogging
  • Things that bug me
  • Depression
  • Throw up
  • Why vans are awesome
  • Running (but not from the perspective of loving it)
  • My past jobs
  • My history of celebrity crushes
  • Umm.... myself...
  • Lost (I know I already mentioned TV, but Lost is a subject of its own)
And, if all of these fail, there's always poop. Now, what would you talk my ear off about in return?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Facebook Test Run

Just a quick, little post to let you know that I have started a Facebook page for my blog. I know I'm several years behind on the times, but here is the link if you would like to follow.

I actually started it three months ago, and then I panicked because I didn't have a cover photo or a profile picture that I liked, so I let it sit until it was about to get deleted.

I figured it's time to dabble a little, and see if I like this medium. I miss interacting with my readers through comments, so I'm hoping a Facebook page will allow us to interact a little more.

At this very moment, I have two followers! And both are relatives! Ha ha!

Discovering and Nurturing the Best Within You

A couple of week's ago, I promised a post about strengths. I wish I could remember everything I hoped to say in that post, but I waited too long. I'm going to try to summon those thoughts as best I can today.

There are a couple of things that made me want to write this post. 

The first was my practicum, which helped me become more familiar with the positive psychology movement. Until recent decades, psychology focused heavily on what was wrong with people. It was about diagnosis and treatment - fixing people, if you will. In recent years, psychology has become more involved in researching human strengths, life satisfaction, and happiness.

While researching my practicum, I came across this concept from Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the prominent researchers in positive psychology, and it has been at the forefront of my thoughts ever since:

(Sorry for the blurry image - I took it from my slideshow presentation)

Let's pretend that you have something weak within you. Maybe there's a bad habit you keep going back to, or maybe you have some mental or emotional struggles. 

It can be very easy to hone in on our weaknesses. There are many reasons for this, but I think a big one is that we feel like we are being humble when we bring attention to our faults, as if announcing them to everyone makes us more noble and modest. 

Another reason I believe we focus on our weaknesses is to protect ourselves from being "caught." If I tell you everything I'm bad at and every area I'm weak in, then I beat you to it! You get to know about my weakness because I pointed it out to you. You don't get the glory of discovering my fault on your own! am in control.

I could give more reasons, but suffice it to say that, for many of us, it is our nature to focus on our weaknesses when it would do us a great deal of good if we focused on our strengths.

The second thing that got my thoughts flowing on this topic was General Conference, which occurred the first weekend of April. 

Several years ago, I started hearing people say that they struggle with General Conference because they feel like it's a run down of everything they're doing wrong. I'd never experienced such guilt during General Conference, so, while I felt sad for these individuals, I didn't understand why they felt that way. But then, in time, it happened to me. I started feeling like General Conference was a guilt trip. And the social media culture surrounding General Conference added immensely to that feeling.

This was new to me, I'd never felt that way before, and I didn't like it. I decided to actively battle this feeling by applying the same tactic I used a few years ago to tackle mom guilt. Instead of worrying about everything I am doing wrong during General Conference, I now try to focus on things I am doing right. I listen for statements that validate good choices I am already making, and when it comes to progress, I focus on messages that inspire me, and I don't worry about the ones that make me feel guilty. If I feel inspired, I am ready to act. If I feel guilty, I am not in a place to tackle that particular issue.* 

This is something I've been trying to do for the past few years, but it was only this time around that I was aware there was research to back this up. In essence, I had learned a way to nurture what was best within me. 

I'll try to bring this all together now.

Part of overcoming our faults and weaknesses is nurturing our strengths, and to do that, we need to know what they are! 

This is so hard for many people. In my workshop, I had the participants fill out a sheet to help them become familiar with some of the best parts of themselves. Some people handled this well and were pleased to make some new  discoveries about themselves, and others refused to write anything good about themselves. It was difficult for me to witness people I love feel incapable of acknowledging their own strengths. 

But anyway, back to the point - we need to know what some of our strengths are, because no matter what faults we have, there are good things within each of us. 

Just in case you need some help in that area, here are three ways you can discover some of your strengths:

You will need to create an account to fill out the questionnaire, but it is free, and once you have an account, you will have access to several other surveys.

This is a great exercise for those who struggle to name their own strengths because the program will do it for you. 

2. Fill out this "My Strengths and Qualities" worksheet

(Just for the record, the worksheet comes from Therapist Aid, not The Rapist Aid).

This one might be harder because you have to name your strengths on your own, but I like this worksheet because it has you go beyond just listing your strengths.

3. Ask someone you love and trust what they think some of your strengths are

Ooooooo! That's a tough one. But it's also a good one, because another person is going to see strengths in you that you might not see in yourself. 

Do it! I dare you!

And as a bonus, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have received a patriarchal blessing, I encourage you to look there for strengths.

Once you've identified some of your strengths, it's helpful to make a list of the ways you can use each strength (you may also include ways you have used that strength in the past). 

How can your strength bless your own life as well as the lives of others? How can you further develop that strength? 

As a religious person, I believe the cultivation of our best qualities can be accomplished through prayer. It is one thing to learn of our strengths, but it is another to develop and use them for the best purposes. Acknowledging our strengths may seem to be at odds with the commandment to be humble, but there is room for humility in the best parts of us as we use those strengths for righteous purposes and for serving others. 

Research has shown that doing a kind deed is one of the most effective (if not the most effective) ways to boost happiness, so I encourage you to acknowledge your strengths and use them to help others. In doing so, you will have a greater capacity to overcome your own weaknesses. 

*I would like to add here that I sustain the leaders of the Church, and I do not believe that it is the intent or purpose of general Conference to make us feel guilty. Feeling that way is, perhaps, one of my own weaknesses.
**According to my most recent completion of the survey, my top 5 strengths are spirituality, love of learning, humor and playfulness, creativity, and gratitude. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Currently {April 2017 Edition}

Reading: Peacful Parent, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (for the second time), and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (for the sixth time, but listening on Overdrive this time).

Watching: Home Fires

Procrastinating: Two teacher appreciation posters and a pinewood derby car.

Wanting: Some comfortable shorts. I've given up hope that such a thing exists.

Craving: Productivity. Normally I reserve this spot for food stuffs, but I really just need to get some stuff done and revel in the satisfaction.

Wearing: An Aeropostale t-shirt that I got from my brother's DI pile, and a pair of too-big jeans. Oh! And my shoes are from my brother's DI pile, too. Good heavens. Is this what I've become?

Relieved by: Eva having an ear infection. It's just good to know that there has been a reason for her difficulty the past few weeks.

Stressing about: All the things.

Missing: Some of the comforts of Scotty's old job - occasional Fridays off and PTO. There are definitely things I don't miss about the old job, but I sure saw my husband a lot more when he worked five times further from home.

Excited to: Go on some small vacations in the next few months. We will spend more time in Idaho this summer than we have in the entirety of my life.

Neglecting: My hair. Every time I get a trim, I promise to comeback in 8 weeks. Only once in my adult life have I gone back within three months.

Thankful for: My mind.

Looking forward to: Going to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point with friends this weekend. There will be no kids! No kids! Eep!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Don't Got Time!

Remember in my last post how I was all, "Wow! This is what it's like to have time?"

That seems like a lifetime ago. Did that really happen?

Now I'm 12 hours behind in my internship, and I've started my two other classes. I'm up to my neck in dirty laundry. My house looks like a tornado went through it (actually, two tornadoes - a four-year-old tornado and a two-year-old tornado). My heart rate has doubled, and I want to throw up.

I just need to take a deep breath and remind myself that the beginning of each semester is hard. I always start out wondering how I'll ever make it.

Somehow I make it every time.

I just can't measure my success by whether I've showered or whether the house is clean.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Got time?

This week feels really strange.

I'm technically in between semesters, so I don't have any school work. This has granted me flexibility with my time that I don't really know how to handle. I spent about an hour this morning looking at recipes online. That's not something I can normally do, and it felt so weird to have the freedom to just look at food without a deadline pressing on me. I could have looked at food for three more hours, and it wouldn't have caused me any great amount of stress.

I've started my internship, which is a new adjustment. I need to complete a minimum of 12 hours of internship work each week to get my hours in before I graduate. But even with this new investment of my time, I've had a few points in the week where I haven't had anything to do because I've finished my assigned task, and I'm waiting to hear from my supervisor about what to do next. That has resulted in some hours of free time where there isn't much that I have to do.

It's weird to think that this was what my life must've been like before I went back to school. I often think about how I spent my time before I was in school. I don't remember what it was like. I remember feeling stressed and busy and tossed to and fro by my children, but I don't remember how I used my time. What did I do back then? I vaguely recall baking bread regularly and reading three books each week. Is that what filled my days? I just don't remember! All I know is that I thought I was so busy. And maybe I was. I just can't imagine it.

To be perfectly honest, I'm worried about how I'm going to spend my time after I graduate. I hope I use it responsibly. Part of me is nervous about losing school as my crutch. For the past few years, I've had school as my excuse for everything.

Take out for dinner? School.

Ignoring my kids? School.

Messy house? School.

Weight gain? School.

In the next few months, school is going to go away, and I'm going to be left without my excuse for everything. I might have to confront some truths about myself that I don't want to face - that I'm lazy, that I overeat and overspend, that I'm not always content with the stay-at-home mom life even though I feel very strongly that that's what's best for my family.

As excited as I am to reach the milestone of graduation, I'm also scared of it.