Month: January 2019

essay

Life is hard and it sucks and I’m really happy about that

I have no idea where I got it into my head that life could be almost perfect. Maybe it was because of social media and advertising and the fake, perfect lives that I saw represented there. Maybe it was because I grew up with a whole lot of stability and without any major challenges (but even then, life wasn’t perfect.)

I guess I thought that I would get that same stability when I grew up. And then it didn’t happen. We have moved a whole lot, usually to places where I didn’t really want to be at first. While I’ve been able to be a stay-at-home mom and we have so many awesome things going for us, we’ve had a few other challenges that have been hard.

That’s everyone’s life, isn’t it? Usually there are things that are really big blessings, and then some things that just don’t turn out right.

But lately, I’ve really been trying to remove that expectation that life is going to be easy and stable and I’ll settle in sometime and never have any problems. Because that’s not how life works out. Even though we have seasons of happiness and blessings, we also all have seasons of difficulties. And sometimes both of those things come at you at once.

It’s such a happy thing to just accept the challenges of life instead of always trying to fight against them. Acceptance of how life really is feels like removing a heavy weight. Yes, my life doesn’t look like I thought it would be. Sometimes, there are moments that just suck. And since I’ve been trying to accept that, I’m feeling so much happier.

I’m not missing out on something. I’m not somehow messing things up just because I have difficulties. I don’t have to feel guilty if there are days that I want to cry. I don’t have to expect so much out of myself.

Life is hard for everyone. It’s the nature of life. It’s the nature of how we grow and learn. We all deal with disappointments and discouragement. We’re not alone. We’re not missing out on a perfect life–we have our own messy, chaotic lives, and so does everyone.

Isn’t it great?

my life

enjoying where I live

A few days ago, I was sitting at home with my kids. We were bored. There isn’t a lot to do where I live, or very many places to go–and I have usually blamed my circumstances on any discontent I’ve felt, and wanted to be somewhere else.

But I moved away from this and then I came back (I sort of recommend doing this, because usually you don’t appreciate what you have until you don’t have it anymore). I know now that I get bored at home no matter where I live. It’s just part of life with small children.

So I wasn’t in a bad situation after all, and I didn’t have to change anything about my life to find additional happiness. I just needed to change myself.

For a little bit, I felt bored and I felt a bit discontented (and that was okay), but then those feeling passed. And we had a really good time because we were bored. We played with Legos and created a game called haunted, which consisted of pretending you are a ghost in a sleeping bag. The kids slid down my legs over and over again for a while–so I became a playground, which was sort of hilarious.

For a few months, I lived in a dream location, but it turned out that I wasn’t any happier there than I was living out in the middle of nowhere.

So lately, I’ve been working on myself. Not trying to get rid of emotions, but trying to accept them. I know that my life isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s not that bad either.

I don’t hate where I live anymore. In fact, there are a lot of really good things about where I live. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, for example. I have a comfortable house that is free. We get to spend so much time together as a family without ever having to feel super busy.

All of a sudden, instead of always looking for something better, I feel like I’ve woken up and I’ve looked around and I’ve discovered that my life, as it is, is pretty amazing after all.

my life

A little adjustment can make a large change

Do you ever feel like you need some change in your life? And not just a little change, but a big change, like throwing out all of your stuff, moving, never looking at the internet again, and changing your appearance completely.

Sometimes we can make small adjustments in order to have the large change that we want.

Small adjustments can be radical. Here are some of the small things that have helped me:

  • Reading my scriptures first thing in the morning
  • Spending time on my mental health every day (usually by reading workbooks)
  • Special time with my children
  • Exercising for five minutes in the morning
  • Trying to go outside more often
  • Organizing my closets
  • Rearranging furniture
  • Switching up my planning routines
  • Writing a gratitude journal
  • Eliminating a color I don’t like from my wardrobe
  • Reading a book from a different genre than I’m used to
  • Blocking a website

Some of the changes can be subtle, like switching up or a routine or doing something for five minutes every day. But those small things have a profound influence on changing our entire lives.

 

meditations

rich and poor

Have you ever noticed how much you really have?

Someone always has more, but someone also has less. Thoughts often crowd your mind–new clothes, more space, better car, bigger bank account, more, bigger, better–you forget what’s already there.

There are so many different ways to travel: barefoot, sandals, bike, used car, airplane.

There are so many different things to eat: rice, beans, fish, fruit, bread, cookies, hamburger, steak.

There are so many different ways to live: tent, shack, trailer, rambler, mansion.

And you can accept and love what you have.

You can love where you live. It’s not small; it’s huge. You can love what you wear. It’s not out-of-style; it’s fancy and comfortable. You can love the contents of your cupboards and your closets (and the fact that you have cupboards and closets).

And then you forget that you want more.

You rarely recognize what you have unless you remember that you could have so much less. So many have so much less–and yet, many of them live happily.

Imagine for a moment living a different sort of life–maybe in a mansion or maybe in a shack. And in that different life, are you different? Does life still continue?

There is gratitude at every step if we choose to recognize it.

essay, inspiration

recognizing the blessings in the fabric of your life

My post yesterday was about not achieving your dreams and how that’s okay. But I think we need to realize sometimes how privileged we are to even to be able to dream and set the goals we have in the first place. There are so many people who are merely focused on survival. We often don’t realize how blessed we are because we are seeing our life through a specific lens of what we’re used to.

We usually compare ourselves to people who live similar or better lives than we do, forgetting all the people who struggle and live in a different way. We don’t see outside ourselves. We want to serve and help, but we don’t really want to empathize.

Even though I have dealt with failure and rejection and disappointment, I have four children, a good marriage, a comfortable home–I have so many good things in my life. I have accomplished a lot, but more importantly, life isn’t about the accomplishment anyway.

Life is more about experiences, the stories we tell ourselves and each other, and the ability to keep going and keep trying. Life isn’t about being happy and successful, but about the journey on the way.

So many times, we get so narrow-minded in how we look at things. Our standards and measurements that we apply to ourselves and others are often inaccurate. We could do to love each other more, to be more understanding of different situations, and to see a bigger picture.

I don’t think we can ever the perfect perspective in life–it’s always cloudy and inaccurate. But we can try to recognize the love we have from our Heavenly Father. We can know that eventually, we will be able to make sense of all the difficult things.

During the journey, it’s always good to take time to recognize the blessings that are contained in the very fabric of your life.

essay

when life doesn’t go according to plan

There is this idea that you can set your goals and dreams and go for it and achieve them, but then there are thousands (or millions) of people who have a different reality: they have goals, they work towards them the absolute best they can, and then they fail.

A writer gets rejected, not just for one book, but for dozens of them.

A lawyer hopes to change the world and help people, but ends up working on messy divorces and collecting money.

A young college student wants to study mammals, but ends up studying insects and then getting stuck in a job as an underpaid lab assistant.

People get rejected constantly: they interview for jobs and then get the call a few days later that someone else was chosen. They apply to their favorite school and they don’t get in.

There are those dealing with even bigger problems: infertility, major health problems, death, tragedy, and so much more.

We don’t celebrate those moments. We don’t talk about the failure. We often hide it. We don’t see articles and books about people who have repeatedly dealt with disappointment without the eventual positive conclusion–in most stories, failure is merely a stepping stone on the pathway to eventual success.

But so many people don’t get that success and have to reframe their life and kill their dreams.

I am sort of tired reading about self-help books from successful people about how other people can be successful too. Because that’s not how the world works. We have humongous failures and mistakes in our life. We have persistent weaknesses and constant rejection.

And that’s just as human and real as those successes. And we need to talk about it more–and not just in a way where we keep encouraging people to keep going until they finally succeed, or we romanticize struggles with an inspiration moral at the end.

We need to embrace that there are average people doing average things and that is what makes the world work. For every major success, there are usually so many failures without any happy conclusions.

(I’ve probably written this exact same thing before, but I don’t mind repeating myself.)

essay, my life

Thoughts on marriage and living without my husband

From October to December of this year, I spent most of the time living with myself and my children while my husband worked about four hours away. He came and saw us most weekends, but a lot of the times it was just me. And it was hard.

Now that I’m living back with my husband, I find that I have a whole lot more time and things are a lot easier in many ways. Dillon cleans a lot, something that I need to be more grateful for. Without him, I was a wreck sometimes and my house was a disaster.

But it’s not just the cleaning. He helps take care of my kids. He supports me over and over again. Without him, it was so hard emotionally to wake up and just go through day after day by myself with the kids to take care of. I would go days without speaking in person to an adult.

I gained a new empathy for single moms. I wasn’t a single mom–I could still call my husband and he visited often. But it was still really hard.

Single moms have to do the impossible. I learned that if I didn’t have a husband, I couldn’t do it on my own. While I spent days by myself, I didn’t ever have to worry about finances and how to make money. I was relying on my husband’s income. And there was enough to do with taking care of my kids and cooking and cleaning and trying to keep it all together (and failing at times).

Logistically, I couldn’t make it as a single mom right now, and I’m very glad I don’t have to. But there are so many single moms out there who have to do it. It can be easy to blame them or to just expect them to figure it out, but it’s very different when you are in the situation and trying to make things work.

Some days were fine. Life wasn’t miserable at all. But it was more difficult and it took much more effort. I learned a lot about myself–I tend to be a little bit too lazy, but at the same time, I can get weird expectations of myself and I make myself feel like a failure when I’m doing okay. And I learned that happiness doesn’t have to do with where you are as much as who you are. I get miserable because I don’t leave my house some days, but that’s just a choice I can make that’s independent of circumstances. I learned I need to step up more and I am more capable than I realize.

I am so grateful for my own husband. He has a career where we live out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere where it’s too far away for my kids to go to public school. But it is so much better being with him than living so far apart. The kids are happier. I am happier. Everyone is happier. We can do so much more together than we ever could do it on our own.

If anyone is reading this who is doing it on their own–I know that I never really came close to the things that you experience. I only understand a little bit how hard it is. But just appreciate yourself for trying every day. Because that’s all there is in life: we wake up, and we keep trying.

essay

Two Thoughts on Economics and Life

1.

I was sitting in church, listening to a lesson where we were talking about helping each other and how it is good to receive help. We often find it difficult to be vulnerable and ask for the things that we both need and want. We try to do it all on our own, thinking that that is the best way.

Well, I was in a microeconomics class at the time and I had recently gone over a chapter about the advantages of trade. Basically, trade can make everyone a lot better off. In my textbook, we had examples like when two different countries make shirts and airplanes. Even if one country is better than the other at making both shirts and airplanes, they might have a comparative advantage making airplanes, while the other one has a comparative advantage of making shirts. So the countries become better off specializing and trading instead of just doing it all themselves.

And I think that’s applicable to life. I can do everything myself, but I am really good at some things while other people are really good at other things. And if we come together and trade, we will both be better off.

Of course, we don’t really usually think about trading too much with other people in small ways. But I think we could more often: If you watch my kids, I’ll bring dinner. If I do this website for you, you can help teach my kids. That sort of thing. We are more efficient when we work together, so there’s no point in always trying to do it all on our own.

Sometimes, I have had people visit me and I clean while they are there. I don’t need them to help, though they can if they would like. Then when we are done, we are both benefited by a clean house and by the conversation with each other. I would rather do that than visit in a messy house.

And we don’t always need to trade straight across, but we can have a general understanding that if we help one another and both give and receive help, that we will all be better off.

***

2.

One of the principles of economics is that everyone faces trade-offs.

Sometimes we think of life as a bunch of choices between right and wrong. If we choose right, then everything will be okay.

But instead, many of the choices we face are not between right and wrong or good and bad. We might face two good options. Or two bad options. Or dozens of options that are all just okay. We have trade-offs.

I’ve faced a lot of trade-offs lately. I have had to try to decide what is the best option instead of having one exactly right option to choose from. I want there to be right and wrong answers, but often it’s much more complicated than that. I have to figure out how to make complicated, life-changing trade-offs.

It can get really tough, particularly because we don’t know the future and sometimes it’s really hard to know how to weigh things right. I’m not certain of many of the results of the major decisions that I make.

I can crave for decisions that don’t involve any trade-offs, decisions that appear completely black and white and easy. But that’s not life. Life is hard and messy at times. It’s just how it is.