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Archive for June, 2011

Planning an international move is mind-boggling. Any move is stressful, but imagine doing everything you normally do for a move and then add to it: moving all your stuff overseas, dealing with passports, visas, immigration, foreign beauracracy, school enrollment, etc. Did I mention finding a house? It’s not like Househunters International, I can promise you that.

In some ways, moving to Sweden was much easier. I had the assurance that while I couldn’t speak Swedish, I’d still be able to communicate. Sweden is a part of Europe–thus subscribing to Western ways and culture.

But Saudi Arabia is really an unknown quantity. I’ve been reading what little information I can find about the country and I hope I can remember all the rules.

In the meanwhile, I should get back to cleaning my house. . .

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When my son was baptised in Sweden, the chapel was full of friends.

So if you’re Mormon and have ever surfed on the net, you’ve no doubt come across Mormon sites with lively discussions about Mormonism and lots of whining about Mormon culture. Usually those discussions annoy me because of lot of the complaining is petty and mean-spirited.

Sure, the LDS church isn’t perfect (that 3-hour meeting block on Sunday is killing me), but when I think where I would be without the church, I shudder.

I believe in the doctrines of the LDS faith with my whole heart. But this isn’t the post where I discuss that. I want to talk about community and belonging.

We moved to Sweden 9 years ago. We were poor students with two small children. My husband had been a missionary there, but I was a bit lost. I couldn’t speak more than three words of Swedish. My travels were limited to the Intermountain West and one jaunt to Cancun, Mexico. But I have an adventurous mindset and was prepared to jump in with enthusiasm.

When we arrived in Sweden we were greeted by people from our ward. Groceries filled our refrigerator and the offers to help were geniune and frequent. In time, our lovely Swedish friends-fellow ward members-became like family. Leaving Sweden 5 1/2 years later was like leaving my own family. I still feel intense homesickness even though we’ve lived in the U.S. for 3 1/2 years.

We experienced a similar outpouring of friendship when we lived in Israel for a short time. We made friends and enjoyed outings together. The kindness of the branch members in Tel Aviv eased the foreigness of Israel. It took the sting of isolation away and allowed us to truly enjoy our stay.

I’ve since learned that my experience was unique. Ex-pat women talk of loneliness and isolation, especially if they can’t find a community where they are accepted and welcomed. I had my community from the beginning.

Moving to New York felt like moving to another country. But once again, the unfailing generosity and kindness of ward members made us feel welcome and part of a community. Leaving our friends, even for a short period, is going to be hard.

But I have the promise of new friendships and the community of new ward members to look forward to. Already I’ve been contacted by members in Saudi Arabia, offering advice and extending friendship. There are a number of things I wonder and worry about moving to Saudi Arabia, but making friends is not even on the list.

Say what you like about the LDS church, but the community that can be found within the church is wonderful. It has made the difference for us in our moves and travels.

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So we have some big news: We are moving to Saudi Arabia for a year. We will most likely leave in August, though the details aren’t firm on that point.

So new fodder for the blog, eh?

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Two days ago a reader sent me a link in response to a comment I wrote on another blog. The link describes what it is like to live with a chronic illness on a daily basis–in this case, the author has lupus. I too have lupus. There have been times throughout the eight years that I’ve lived with this disease that my days have been so similar. Other days I fly throughout without cares or worries. Anyhow, I highly recommend it as I think it really explains what it is like to live with a chronic illness.

Before I share the link I do want to talk about something that the author points out and something I’ve personally learned as a result of living with lupus. Quite simply, it is that I can’t do everything I want. Truthfully, I’m profoundly grateful that I’ve learned this because it has helped me deal with a lot of hard periods in my life. And I think it is a lesson that more of us need to learn, especially mothers of young children.

We perfectionists tend to think that we must do everything and be in perfect and complete control. We think  that our houses should be sparkling clean, obsessively organized, filled with picture-perfect children, up-to-date hobbies, and a lovely romantic relationship with our husbands.  And when we can’t do that, which would be impossible in any case, we spiral out of control, wallow in depression, or teeter on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

So maybe you are perfectly healthy and you think I’m absolutely crazy for saying this. But I really believe it. Don’t go crazy trying to do everything. Life is more than your to-do list. Don’t attach your value or self-worth to the level of your busy-ness. Do what matters most and let the rest go.

I’ll write that again: Do what matters most and let the rest go.

When I was pregnant with my fifth son, a number of odd health things cropped up that knocked me off my feet. I literally stayed in bed for almost 9 months. I could only accomplish 5 things each day. It was hard, but I was doing what I had to do. We all survived. These days, my energy and strength reserves are full and I can do much more. But I still have days where I have to weigh and measure what I want to do with what my body will allow me to do.

Wherever I am at healthwise, I try to be grateful for what I can do, instead of focusing on what I can’t do.

Sorry for the rambling, here is the link.

http://butyoudontlooksick.com/navigation/BYDLS-TheSpoonTheory.pdf

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Randomness

I know its been awhile since I’ve posted. Life has been surprisingly busy, filled with a myriad of things that aren’t especially exciting or things I don’t feel like providing a commentary on. And the weather is humid and when it is hot and humid, my will to write is drained away.

I’m on track with things. New adventures are on the horizon. My kids are happy and busy. And the weather is humid.

So just in case you are wondering what I’ve been up to, here are a few things happening in my life.

1. My toddler throws major fits. Full, all-out, throw-himself-on-the-floor-and-scream-as-loud-as-he-can-fits.

2. I went to a two-day scrapbooking conference where I took 10 classes and spent the night at a hotel with my husband, sans children. It was blissful.

3. My oldest son enters middle school in the fall. The barrage of meetings, the puberty talk at school, forms, etc. have been ever-present.

4. My daughter enters kindergarten in the fall. Same barrage of meetings and forms, minus the puberty talk/video at school. 

5. I’m reading Acts in the New Testament.

6. I just finished Downton Abbey, a 7-episode BBC series, set in England between 1912 and 1914 at an aristocrat’s home. The interplay between servants and master is fascinating.

7. I finished watching Wuthering Heights and was reminded why I disliked the book so much. But I also felt really sorry for all the characters. I totally get why it was and is, to me, such a shocking book.

8. Zucchini and yellow squash can now be found again at the market. I’m crying tears of joy, truly. They are my two favorite vegetables.

9. I’ve sorted through all the clothing, which is such a major and detestable  chore. I also purchased new summer clothing for everyone.

10. We still have a month left of school and I am totally not in the mood for homework. I want to eat watermelon outside with my kids while they run through the sprinkler or splash in the wading pool.

11. Did I mention the humidity?

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