Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Settling Down

For those of you who haven't heard a few months ago we found out we would be able to buy a house and we started looking at what is available in the local market.  Since we want this move to be our last we considered every option, and having been burned before in the past by certain decisions in our owning 4 other homes . . . weighed what's best financially and for our situation ended up buying a lot 5 blocks (about half a mile) away from where we live now (in Rexburg that's two wards away).  Turns out by living within walking distance of Darik's work we can afford to build a 1500sf ranch with a tv room downstairs (the rest unfinished) for the same cost (mort+tax+ins) as what we currently pay in rent.  Thank goodness we've saved money for a down payment over the years.  I know a few friends mentioned they wanted to see our floorplans - which were finalized this morning.

 We chose a smaller, less popular plan that we could customize (walk in pantry, mud room with bench and closet, custom wall-to-wall bookshelves in the main room, walk in closet, wood burning fireplace, extra unfinished storage downstairs, etc.)  Truly our builder is likely to be SO happy we aren't calling with any more changes!  My personality is one that studies and researches and narrowing down to the best 2-3 options available - but I'm not the most adept at actually making the final decision.  Let's just say that choosing all of the colors and materials was a nightmare for me.  Especially since Darik favors traditional and I favor more contemporary - it will be interesting to see how we make this work once we're in the home.  :-)

Timeline is to move in September, we are looking forward to having our own place that we've made our own.  Let the building begin!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes

Exactly one year ago Darik woke me up too early in the morning.  I had just arrived from virginia the day before (Ellie and I took 8 days to drive cross country).  Darik told me, my very first morning in Rexburg in our new home, that the power had gone out an hour ago and that it was -15* outside and it was probably a good idea to stay in bed.  I peeked out from under my blankets, looked at him with bleary eyes, muttered "ugh, I hate you!" and crawled back under the blankets.  The house hadn't been unpacked, I didn't know where anything was, and much unpacking and work lay ahead for me:
You see.  I wasn't happy to be here.  I accepted that this is where God wanted us to be, but that didn't mean I was happy with God's will.   It's been a beautiful, brutal year (brutiful for you Momastery fans out there).  Through hours and hours of thought, meditation, and prayer -- what has happened is a miracle.

January 16, 2014, started with a smile.  I woke up to snuggles in bed.  I played a video on youtube about a NYC street artist to wake up little L (she's a slow waker-upper like her mama), I took a shower, fed my family breakfast, made lunch, and got them out the door on their way before a friend I v.teach dropped off her 3 little girls for me to watch for a little while.  I played blocks, got some more cuddles, and in general had fun having littles in my house again.  When they left I got dinner ready in the crock pot.  I went into work to prepare the audit books for my boss' presentation tonight in Iona.  Came home and was super-productive working on my 2011 blog book, partitioning and formatting my hard drives, backing up my data, and doing the laundry.  It was an extremely productive day.  Darik got home from work and I was happy.

I figured out that it not only takes service, and changing your attitude, BUT if there are circumstances that could increase your happiness, and you can do something about it.  Do it.  And so I have.  I'm going through a learning curve at my job, but I like what I'm doing, I'm engaged and doing hard things.  I'm staying in contact with my dear friends from Virginia (and praying for a free plane to go visit to drop in my lap from the friend fairy).  I've made really good connections here with a few friends who understand my brand of crazy.  And I'm happy.  Really Happy. 
So I guess what I've learned is to appreciate and create my own brand of happy.  It's all around us, sometimes you just need to notice it. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When There's Love At Home

A few months ago Darik and I took some communications classes at the same time we signed up for a workshop on campus taught by seniors (for their capstone) based on the book by John Gottman "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child." While it was a bit weird to be in a parenting class filled with BYU-Idaho students whose oldest child was 2, learning about parenting.  We were the same age as the professor in the class who observed :-)  But Ellie and I had increasingly been butting heads and struggling relationship wise, in addition to her issues of struggling identifying and processing her passionate emotions about all things - and I thought it could be helpful.


What was interesting is a lot of the principles we learned in our communications class were the same things applied in the parenting class - there was a lot of overlap. 

My parenting style had been much more love-and-logic (calm down times, etc) style and while taking this class I realized I probably was applying some things wrong.  For example:  in the BYUI class we were taught to always be emotionally honest with your child.  Always identify and communicate your emotions: whether you're angry, sad, etc.  That trust is built on honesty and finding a way to express anger and sadness in productive instead of destructive ways.  In love and logic I remember the class we took 5 years ago talking about never letting your kids see you lose your cool.  So if you're about to crack, not to let them see it - because it shows they can push your buttons and they'll do it again more next time.  So I started being fake with my emotions, while most kids would process this fine it had profound effects on Ellie & I.  So I sat down and had a serious mano-y-mano talk it out about how we both needed to work on getting along. I used the things we were taught in class mixed with things we were taught in our foster care classes to come up with this idea:
 An important step in both the communications class and parenting class was to identify, label, and discuss your emotions.  If Ellie didn't want to talk to us about how she is feeling, she could go and choose one of the color-coded emotion labels off the wall and put them on her body poster.  We haven't been SUPER active with this (because she always digs in her heels when she knows we want her to do something), BUT having this and applying the principles from our classes has transformed our relationships and the feeling in our home (also the other thing that helped I think was combining this with her love language {physical} and let her come in and cuddle every morning).  I never could have imagined how many more times we have experienced those magic moments of connecting and loving each other. 

The idea for this post came from a moment this morning when Ellie was expressing love and I was just SO overcome with gratitude for my little family and the Love We Have in Our Home.  And I thought this post went along perfectly with my theme for this year.  :-)

p.s.  Here is the handout from the parenting class we took if you are interested.  Although I recommend the book as well.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January, part 1

 I'll start with randomness:  1) my incredulity that third graders are learning and being graded on exponent and times tables.  I didn't learn times till fourth grade and exponents until seventh.  Makes it especially frustrating when said daughter is still back on addition/subtraction and being tested much higher.  2) Darik's incredulity when I clean the bathroom !  3)  Our combined incredulity at Ellie choosing a 2 liter of soda during a Saurey Family Reunion gift exchange.  And un-incredulity at her refusal to grant me a smile.  4) Yay, I'm the primary chorister again!!
 We brought Ellie and her best friend to the Golden Dragon Acrobat show on campus.  They are good at selfies.  And the show was amazing - I'm so sensitive I could hardly watch, their contortions had me wincing in pain.  And the guy who stacked 10 chairs to balance on them 3 stories up?  I have no ability to process that in a healthy way.  My only comment to Darik about the show was, "I guess this is what China does with their aged-out Olympic gymnasts that they took from their homes as toddlers to train for gold medals."  Obviously they were gymnasts who learned acrobatics.  Interesting. 
PS Whose dad is the best dad and makes the most amazing snow-fort in the world that becoes the envy of the neighborhood?  Oh yeah, that's right, Ellie's dad.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Authenticity

So lately I've realized that people I really admire (in pop culture and society) and like are people who are really authentic.  People who thrive in being their own quirky, different selves and encourage others to do so.  So not that anyone cares, but these are some of my favorite peoples:
Maggie Stiefvater, author
She dresses her goats in tshirts, drag races her custom painted Camaro, is an award winning artist, raises children, loves husband, is generally a great person to follow on twitter.  

"When I hit 17 and 18 -- I was suicidal.  Everything was great . . . but I looked at the adults around me and thought that I didn't see a single one I wanted to be when I grew up.  I did, however see a lot of people I didn't want to be."  {later}  "Because really, I didn't understand then that if I didn't see the world I wanted around me, I could make myself a world that I wanted.  I didn't think one person could change anything.  I didn't realize that I could find people like me and fill my life with them."

"I'm a dirt road out in the country kind of person, but I remember thinking, I could live in Chicago."

"In the end, you have to write like you're not afraid of the critics."
Jennifer Lawrence, actress
as gorgeous as she is, this GIF is one of the best parts of her authenticity.  there are many women as beautiful as her, but very few as authentic and comfortable enough with who she is to just be herself 

“If I don’t have anything to do all day, I might not even put my pants on.” – responding to a question in Glamour about what she does in her free time

“Sorry! That was phlegm. That was so powerful. I’m like a dragon!” – after coughing on David Letterman 

“Backstage, I just peed like every 3 seconds. I think your staff thinks I have diarrhea.” – doing her thing on Chelsea Lately

"I'm the fastest pee-er ever," she told Rolling Stone  in 2012. "I'm famous for it."
 Ellen, needs no introduction
there is no other person I can think of that encourages people to dance like nobody's watching

“Who's to say what's better or worse anyway? Who's to even say what's normal or average? We're all different people and we're allowed to be different from on another. If someone ever says you're weird, say thank you. And then curtsy. No, don't curtsy. That might be too weird. Bow. And tip your imaginary hat. That'll show them.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding  



“So be who you really are. Embrace who you are. Literally. Hug yourself. Accept who you are. Unless you're a serial killer.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding

“I personally like being unique. I like being my own person with my own style and my own opinions and my own toothbrush.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding 


“Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It's about knowing and accepting who you are.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding  
 


“Laugh. Laugh as much as you can. Laugh until you cry. Cry until you laugh. Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, "I can't tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way they seem crazy, let's walk faster." Emote. It's okay. It shows you are thinking and feeling.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding  


“Find out who you are and figure out what you believe in. Even if it's different from what your neighbors believe in and different from what your parents believe in. Stay true to yourself. Have your own opinion. Don't worry about what people say about you or think about you. Let the naysayers nay. They will eventually grow tired of naying.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding 

 Mindy Kaling, Actress, Writer, Comedian
writer, producer, actress in my favorite show.  


“I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”  Mindy in Parade Magazine.

“If someone called me chubby, it would no longer be something that kept me up late at night. Being called fat is not like being called stupid or unfunny, which is the worst thing you could ever say to me. Do I envy Jennifer Hudson for being able to lose all that weight and look smokin’ hot? Of course, yes. Do I sometimes look at Gisele Bundchen and wonder how awesome life would be if I never had to wear Spanx? Duh, of course. That’s kind of the point of Gisele Bundchen. And maybe I will, once or twice, for a very short period of time. But on the list of things I want to do in my lifetime, that’s not near the top. I mean, it’s not near the bottom either. I’d say it’s right above “Learn to drive a vespa,” but several notches below “film a chase scene for a movie.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  


“If I’m at a party where I’m not enjoying myself, I will put some cookies in my jacket pocket and leave without saying good-bye.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 


"Mindy is exceptionally smart, but is not afraid to talk about nail polish.  And yet her love of nail polish does not take away from her smartness.  In a perfect world, she would take my SATs for me, and then we would go to the mall together."   Steve Carrell on Mindy Kaling

“In my mind, the sexiest thing in the world is the feeling that you’re wanted.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?    


So my other honorable mentions are:  Shannon Hale, Glennon Melton, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Kendrick, etc.    

Thursday, January 02, 2014

2014: Goals

Apart from my new theme, I have a few goals that will help me accomplish it.
  1. Books.  Last year I had a goal on Goodreads of reading 100 books in 2013.  While I'm glad I accomplished it, there are probably a few things that fell by the wayside along the way.  As such I've reduced my reading goal by 30%, to 70 for 2014.  And mostly to make way for:  catching up on blog books.  Unfortunately I won't be going back and blogging the missing info of the last 3 years.  But I have a goal to finish all 3 missing blog books by the end of the year (2011-2013).
  2. Blog.  In an attempt to not get behind on my blog booking again, I will have at LEAST a monthly summary blog.  I don't want to pressure myself too much what with working and all, so I'm creating a baseline from here on out. 
  3. Body.  I have gotten out of the habit of green smoothies and quinoa salads.  They are back by popular demand.  And while I'm against having any goal whatsoever related to the weight and shape of my body - I do feel the need to be stronger.  Especially as I'm hoping to start hiking this year.  
  4. Brain.  Continue learning and growing and stretching and sharing.  Engage my brain everyday and find a way to exchange and discuss ideas without judgment or negativity.  Especially gospel-related study and scriptures.  p.s. Read more non-fiction!
  5. Beauty.  I will follow Glennon Melton's example to find beauty all around me.   "Beautiful means “full of beauty.” Beautiful is not about the appearance of your outsides- beautiful is about what you’re made of. Beautiful women are women who spend time discovering what they love – what sings to them –what their idea of beauty on this Earth is. Then they make time each day to fill themselves up with that beauty. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day."  Part of my finding beauty every day is to get my Nikon out of the closet and sacrifice the convenience of my iphone for a little more work and beauty.
Okay, somehow that all ended up starting with B.  Don't know what that means, but I'll just go with it. 


2014: Love Big



During the last two years I felt like Heavenly Father sent us to  Virginia (a move that rationally didn't make sense) to have those  experiences and meet the people we met there.  One of my dear friends  shared a blog post with me when I had been discussing marriage with  her.  She asked me if I had heard of Mara Kofoed's A Blog About Love.   She had a blog post about the Virtue of Loving.  I tucked the memory of the  post away for later, I was interested but didn't feel like that post fit in my life at that moment.  Well, lately I've felt I'm ready.  That's what I want my focus to be this year.  So I went back  and visited that blog post about Love.

Coincidentally I found that post was STEP 3 in her series of HOW TO BE VULNERABLE.  Step 1 she blogged as Believe You Have Worth and Own It:

1 - You are worth something. 
2 - You are capable of great things. 
3 - You have a connection to the divine. 
4 - You can continually learn & grow because of your trials.
5 - You get to choose how you experience your life.
6 - You are capable of developing love, which is the most important thing in this life. 

Step 2 was Let Go of Fear:

EVEN IF unfortunate things  happened to me... 
EVEN IF my husband left me
EVEN IF I never had kids
EVEN IF I did something embarrassing
EVEN IF my voice shook or the perfect words did not come out of my mouth
EVEN IF someone disapproved of me
EVEN IF I made a fool of myself
EVEN IF my worst nightmares came true


 Mara shares, "How do you practice being vulnerable in your new fearless skin??"

-Be comfortable & happy with who you are.
-Share a joke and not care if anybody laughs.
-Open your mouth & share something when you have something to say.
-Reach out to people you don't know.
-Dance crazy in the kitchen.
-Walk down the beach and feel beautiful.
-Tell someone you love them.
-Do something bold and scary.
-Speak your "truth" or your story in public.
-Raise your hand in a class & share an experience or your perspective.
-Act fun & sexy (or just goofy) around your lover. 

Fear does not stop death, it stops life.



Do you see what happened here?  Without meaning to - these steps match the last few years of my life I blogged about in the last post.    Heavenly Father gave me a ringer of a few years and I emerged different.   As I've recognized the worth in my differences and in myself, I enable myself to recognize them in others.  I enable myself to love others where they are at.   As I let go of fear of what others may say or think I've me I've decided to claim who I am and own it.  This is who I am.  Without apology. 

As Mara says (seriously go check out her blog):
You see, if YOU have worth that is inherent and intrinsic to who you are (see Step 1), you know that so does everyone else.   Even if they make mistakes, they still have worth.  Seeing them in that  light frees you to to love them as a human being, regardless of whether  or not they are capable of returning love to you, regardless of whether  or not your love is received.  You are free to seek to build someone  else's worth regardless if they receive it or are grateful for it.   Again, if you already own your own worth, you aren't looking for  anything from them.  You are simply hoping for someone else to know  their own worth, too.  Period.  This is the essence of love.  It is knowing that someone is worth your patience.  Your kindness.  Your forgiveness.  Your compassion.  Not because they are doing anything to deserve it.  But  because they inherently have worth, just like you do.  And so your goal  is to bring it out in them.  And if you don't succeed, then you will be ok.   You don't "need" to succeed, but you offer what you can out of love,  and then you let each person carry out their own life and their own  path.

Seeking after the virtue of LOVE helps  you to become your truest, most worthwhile self.  It's the heart of who  we all are.  And tapping into the power that we already have within us  to live this way is the
most tremendous thing a human being could ever do. 
My sister-in-law recently shared with me an insight from the church book she is reading, Without Offense: the Art of Giving and Receiving Criticism, by Gerald Lund.  She mentioned that in the book it specifically states the only person who has stewardship to judge you and your heart and motivations is your Bishop and your God.  Everyone else's only commandment is to love each other.  It's not my place to come out on every issue and say who is right and who is wrong.

Literally the only commandment I have to follow is to love my God, and to love others.  And I'm ready to love, every single type of love.  Coworker love.  Sister love.  Daughter love.  Friend love.  Family love.  Mother love.  Wife love.  Daughter of God love.  Fellow-saint love.  Stranger love.  Enemy love.  Facebook friend love.  Acquaintance love.  Say yes to love.


 

The New (old) Years, In Retrospect

Here we are, everybody.  A clean slate: 2014!  I have decided that I want to do the "trendy-one-word-theme-per-year" resolutions, along with a few goals.  In attempting to ferret out my 2014 theme, I've discovered the themes I've had the last two years, in retrospect.   And I feel to preface this year I need to give background and summarize the past two years for me.

I know a lot of people are confused because about two years ago I left Idaho one person, and I then returned a very different person.  So let's start with what was happening back then.

2011 - Change & Moving On

Right before we left for Virginia in 2011, Darik and I had talked about how we had spent 10 years of our marriage trying to have children.  The basal body temps, the chlomid, the charts, the shots, the accupressurist (muscle testing), the alternative homeopathic pills, the endocrinologist, the tests, the IVF, the more shots, the foster care, the failed adoption, the IUIs, the essential oils, the cleanses, the prayers, the fasts, the accupuncture, the hopes and dreams.  In my church we are taught the ideal:  we are sent here to have and raise families.  And after ten years of learning and growing and stretching and doing everything in our power to accomlish the ideal:  I was tired.  I had to believe the life Heavenly Father sent me here was not to spend my emotional and psychological well-being in attempts of accomlishing the ideal.  I did NOT want to give up hope.  But in the end I realized for my own well being, I needed a break.  For the first time in a long time I felt a centering peace.  Within this span of time Darik graduated with his master's degree, we listed our home for sale, and started looking for a new job.  In a very surprising turn of events we ended up in Virginia with a job that made less money, a home rented out back in Idaho losing $400 per month, and me working full-time while Ellie started 1st grade. 

2012 - Discover and Own Your Worth

Over the next year I come to a lot of conclusions.  I may not ever have any more kids - naturally, foster, or adoptive.  And that's okay.  For the first time in my life I felt a centering peace that came from accepting God's will in my life.  Up until then I felt I'd been so converted to the preaching of the ideal and to gender roles, I wasn't open to the possibility that God had a different plan for me.  I knew God had sent me here with my own specific talents and skills, but I'd been trying to apply them only in creating an ideal family: the reason we are sent to earth in the plan of salvation.  And now I am owning the possibility that while, yes, mother is one of my roles here on earth, God's plan for me to build his kingdom is more than that.  I do not fit a role, I do not fit a stereotype - my job is to discover His plan for me, and to let go of every expectation and belief of what I thought that was supposed to be.

Here I was not matching everyone else around me:  the majority of women in my ward were stay-at-home mothers raising young children.  They had walking groups and playdates, and I was working full-time.  My life at work was interesting.  At the beginning I struggled, more than I had anticipated. I felt between a rock and a hard place as I needed help and it was very difficult to obtain.  They transferred me to a new position and I wasn't full of much confidence.  At work over this year I began some difficult projects and found success.  I was sent on week-long trainings in other cities where I spent every moment developing my brain and talents to help others, apart from my family and church.  I used my specific talents (love of obscure data and working alone) to pull together a pretty valuable piece of work.  I found a way to take my strengths and amplify them.  I found a way to love my job, love learning, and love my coworkers.  I found that in the workplace I am treated and viewed first as an individual: what talents and abilities and perspective do I bring to the table?  I saw first-hand how genders related in an organization outside of the church.  Yes, there were still some things that were appropriate and inappropriate between genders at work, there is always a line.  But there was so much more interaction available to me with male work friends: who I came to enjoy sharing baby pictures, friendship, lunchtime, and political debates.  It's really different than how we interact between genders at church, the comparison was jarring to me.  After all of these experiences I saw the world with perhaps a little different filter, just as all of our own life experiences create the filter with which we view the world 

As 2012 ended and Darik got a job in Rexburg and we prepared to leave, my boss told me how much she had enjoyed watching me grow in ability and confidence.  And I truly believe that happened to me in 2012.  I learned a lot not just at work, but about myself, and about my path -- and I decided to quit wanting something else.  To love my path.  To love myself.  And I was excited: I would be getting a small piece of the ideal back, right?  I would finally get to be a stay-at-home mom!

2013 - Let Go of Fear

The first half of last year I spent on more discovery.  Although I'd let go of the ideal of my purpose was to raise a large family, I still assumed happiness was found in the ideal of staying at home.  I have to say, I was a hot mess.  Don't get me wrong, there were many moments I cherished and loved.  I had many sweet and memorable moments with Ellie and the additional time we had together.  I had a husband who was being challenged and stretched at work and who was enjoying it more than he ever had.  But I still felt something was missing!  I love reading, and I read a lot of books :-) but something was still missing.  I had all of these ideas and thoughts and experiences that made me who I am.  I decided to let go of my fear and just own it.   I started blogging, researching, questioning, and working.   I read my patriarchal blessing again.  I went back to the feelings I had before of me being different and of worth.  I had always been different than the girls and women around me - whether I was a sports-addicted child or an offbeat trend-hating adult.  I certainly didn't fit the expectations and stereotypes that surrounded me.  I just decided to let go of every ounce of fear I had --  I chose to tell my story.  I felt I was finally strong enough to be vulnerable, to show my weaknesses and questions, and to take whatever came my way.