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Archive for March, 2011

March goals

I managed to check in 3 times this month about my progress. Perhaps in the future I’ll call it good if I check in every two weeks. I did find it helpful it to print out weekly goals that I could check off when completed.

Spiritual

I finished the D&C.  I didn’t listen to Conference. I kind of hit overload. But that’s okay.

Health

I saw my neurologist and have made some adjustments in my lifestyle. I’ve been taking a multi-vitamin daily. I’ve worn my retainer daily. We bought an elliptical trainer and I’ve been using it since we had it.

Family

I didn’t read consistently with my son, but I’ve been spending more time working with him on his reading. I made a budget. I’ve kept up with my basic, daily, weekly and monthly routines.

Create

I’ve backed up all my photos on CD. I found all my 2009 pictures and had them printed. I’ve made several pages for 2009. I’ve created a few 2010 pages. I’ve edited two batches of my Israel pictures.

Books

I read Woodsong and Face of a Stranger. I didn’t quite finish We’ve Got Issues, but feel like I have a good handle on the material and premise of the book. It’s a little dry, so I’m not sure I’ll finish it. But I thought it was a good reference book that you turn to when you need information.

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I finished the Doctrine and Covenants- all 138 sections and two declarations of it.

I didn’t focus on the historical aspects of this book. I rather studied with the intent of finding wisdom and advice that was directly applicable to me. If I were to sum up the Doctrine and Covenants, I would say that it is supremely optimistic and powerful about the future of the world. The great work of our day is missionary work. It is vital to the future of mankind and to our salvation. I felt that the Lord was constantly urging the Saints to look beyond their trials and go forward with faith and hope. Again and again, the Lord commands the Saints to fear not, to have faith and to trust in Him.

I personally felt that I need to be a better example in my daily life. That I need to be more open and willing to share the gospel. I also feel that I need to consciously work on preparing my children for missions. I also felt keenly that my purpose extends beyond this life. My vision of of who I want to become was curiously simplified and yet expanded beyond belief. I can live in the moment, enjoying and working on my life as it is, but not forgetting that there is a life beyond this one and that death does not end progression.

Studying the Doctrine and Covenants the past three months has been inspiring. I have a testimony that it is true.

Some favorite scriptures:

“Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.” (D&C 29:5)

“He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple.” (D&C 41:5)

“These words are given unto you, and they are pure before me; wherefore, beware how you hold them, for theya re to be answered upon your souls in the day of judgment.” (D&C 41:12)

“Seek not to be cumbered. Forsake all unrighteousness.” (D&C 66:10)

“And he who is faithful shall overcome all things, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” (D&C 75:16)

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.”

“If thou are sorrowful, call on the Lord they God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.” (D&C 136:29)  My favorite scripture and possibly worth the entire reading of D&C.

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Mom’s Day Off

This is a story of a Mom who had a day off.

She wondered, as she walked out the door, keys in hand, if she should feel guilty for leaving two sick children along with three healthy ones in the capable hands of their daddy. Remembering the times when 3 of her children suffered through chicken pox and she tended them alone, while her husband was away, the guilt disappeared. She might have even started singing a bit as she got into the car and drove away.

The bookstore was her first indulgent stop. She browsed leisurely through the bargain section. Almost bought those three movie/book selections–but stopped herself when she remembered that she owned two of the movies, all three books and could get the third movie on netflix whenever she desired. It was almost luxurious to walk slowly down the aisles of new books, flip through magazines, and enjoy the sweet seduction of the written word. Children ran around, parents shouted, chased and picked up books and she smiled benevolently. They were not her children, her problem or her stress. She was not the mother.

At the dress shop, she gingerly touched beautiful dresses, enjoying the lovely feel of soft fabric on her skin. Choosing four dresses she went to the dressing room she tried them all on, enjoying the time to play in front of the mirror without an irritable audience of two grumpy children.

In the craft store, she stopped to look at paper patterns, browsed scrapping tools, and combed the clearance section. No little hands grabbed for $1 items. It was quiet, almost an oasis.

During lunch, she didn’t feel frustrated as she stood in the long line. There were no hungry children hanging on her legs about to hit meltdown. She only had to feed herself, which she did, at a slow pace, reading her magazine and enjoying the flavors of her excellent sandwich. When she stood in line, waiting for the bathroom, there was no frantic child beside her, trying to hold it. It was just herself and she could wait.

Trying on beautiful and extremely impractical shoes at Kohls was a guilty pleasure. She chose the highest, strappiest heels she could just to see them on her small, slender feet. She had a grand time imagining the perfect dresses to match the shoes.

Then her feet started to hurt and she felt tired, so home she went. Where she was met by five children and a husband. She made dinner, tucked babies into bed, and then relaxed. It was a good day.

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I’m doing fine with my goals. I haven’t organized and decluttered the way I want, but I’ll work on that.

We bought an elliptical trainer and I used it 4 times last week. I’m looking forward to another good week of exercise!

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Our family has a favorite scripture from the Book of Mormon. It is the very first scripture that each of my children have memorized because it is so short and easy. “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). We’ve recited this scripture as a family hundreds of times over the past few years. But only recently have I begun to really ponder this scripture and its meaning in my own life.

At the end of 2010, I began to take stock of my life. 2008 and 2009 were years of  change and stress. We moved back to the U.S., the children changed schools, we had landlord troubles,we moved to a different house,  I had some serious health issues and we had a baby. Looking back on those two years, I realize I was just getting by, taking each day as it came. 2010 was a year of recuperation. Simply living with my family, enjoying my new baby and feeling blessed summed up my year. As I approached this year, I realized that I wanted to live this year deliberately, with purpose and focus. I wanted to build up my personal spiritual reserves, strengthen my foundation, build up walls of defense and generally do all I could to be able to weather future storms with dignity, peace, strength and above all, happiness.

You see, I believe that even in the midst of our most desperate trials we can experience happiness. I’ve experienced it. In December I suffered a miscarriage. I was surprised at feeling grief and happiness almost simultaneously. Please don’t mistake me, I wasn’t happy about my miscarriage. Far from it, my soul ached and still aches for the loss of that baby. But my heart was lifted with profound moments of happiness and contentment as my husband and children encircled me with love and compassion. I had lost, but I wasn’t lost.

This year is my year of working to build up my reserves so that when I face loss, storms and troubles, I will be deeply grounded and strong. As I contemplated this project, vague and unfocused, I came across a book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I immediately put the book on hold and, as soon as I received it, devoured it. Gretchen Rubin spent a year pursuing the idea and goal of happiness. She didn’t like the idea of going away on some exotic adventure to find happiness or herself. She wanted to understand and find happiness within herself, her family, her career and her life. I was inspired by her book. Using some of her ideas, my own project began to take shape.

Gretchen Rubin made monthly goals based around some idea or facet of happiness. They were concrete, measurable goals. She evaluated herself daily. She didn’t abandon January’s goals in February, but added to her goals–basically making habits out of her goals and then maintaining them. This was a revolutionary idea for me. Rather than tackling happiness in one big, giant way, I am working on it, bit by bit. I look at areas in my life, improving things, fine-tuning habits and developing new ones. I also liked the idea of accountability and daily checking of goals.

At the moment, this blog has become my travelogue of my pursuit of happiness. I may not be visiting foreign countries and experiencing new cultures. But I am exploring new territories of my personality and character. I realize that all this self-introspection isn’t terribly exciting, but it is important–at least for me. I hope you can bear with me on this journey.

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“Mom, tell my brothers that magic is real,” my four-year old daughter stomps in the kitchen, body bristling with indignation. “You have magic, mommy. You can kiss my boo-boos and make them better right away.”

I go to my daughter, hugging her little sturdy body, grateful that she believes in magic and the mythical power of a mother.

When you are a kid, you think your parents are superheroes, able to rescue you from all sorts of scrapes. When they aren’t superheroes, they are magicians fixing problems and making everything better.

As a parent now, I wonder how often my mother felt discouraged, worried, bewildered, even frightened as she dealt with the myriad of problems 8 girls could concoct. I know I don’t feel confident about my ability to solve problems or make everything better.

But I’m glad that my kids believe in me. They don’t see my vulnerability yet. And for them, I do possess those superpowers. I can kiss scrapes, cuts, bumps and bruises and my love dulls those pain. I can hug my son after a rough afternoon on the bus and he can smile the rest of the day.

And so I back up my daughter declaring that “magic is real,” because I believe in it too. I believe in the magic of a mother, even with all the attendant imperfection and mistakes I make as a parent. At the end of the day, my hugs and kisses are there, healing hurts and mending hearts.

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It took me forever to read this, not because the story wasn’t compelling, but finding the time to sit and read was difficult.

When I read this book, I was reminded anew why I consider Anne Perry to be a genius. Her stories are well-crafted with impeccable details. But even those great attributes aren’t what make her great. Her true gift as a writer is her ability to see and understand human nature and to describe so clearly that you can’t help but recognize it immediately.

With lines like these you can’t go wrong:

“Beth looked at her with a compassion that made her beautiful.”

“I do not care a great deal for charm. But it always seems chameleon to me, and I cannot be sure what color the animal underneath might be really.”

“You have a great deal of courage, Hester, and a hunger for life which is a far richer blessing than you think now–but, my dear, you are sometimes very naive. There are many kinds of misery, and many kinds of fortitude, and you should not allow your awareness of one to build to the value of another. you have an intense desire, a passion, to make people’s lives better. Be aware that you can truly help people only by aiding them to become what they are, not what you are.”

“Too many women waste their lives grieving because they do not have something other people tell them they should want. Whether you are happy or not depends to some degree upon outsward circumstances, but mostly it depends how you choose to look at thing syourself, whether you measure what you have or what you have not.”

This is the first book in the William Monk and Hester Latterly series. William is a police officer in the mid 1800’s. Hester Latterly has just returned to England from the Crimean war where she served as a nurse with Florence Nightengale. Monk wakes up in a hospital bed with complete amnesia. Throughout the course of the book, he must confront himself–who he was in the past and who he wishes to become. All the while, trying to untangle a mystery of murder and corruption and tragedy that entangles Hester’s family and the Grey family.

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