Month: February 2019

essay

What Life Is

We all have our idea of what life should look like. We’re never quite sure where this ideal comes from, but maybe a combination of a lot of things: our childhood, our values, television, social media, the lives of others, etc.

Life should be happy. We should be able to live in a clean, single-family house that is affordable. We should have enough money for food to eat. We should have a well-paying, prestigious career. We should be healthy. We should have good kids who potty-train easily.

We rarely challenge that idea of what life should look like. Even when life turns out to be so much different, filled with chaos, deep questions, discontent, failed dreams, and interrupted plans.

But life doesn’t really actually care what it should look like. Life just is what it is.

There are hard lessons we have to learn:

  • We can’t have it all and instead we constantly face trade-offs.
  • Hard work does not always pay off and sometimes we just fail.
  • There is no perfect job or career.
  • There is no perfect home or neighborhood.
  • Our kids will continually be challenging and have difficult problems throughout their lives.
  • Our health will eventually fail us.

And so much more.

We have to give up our ideal of what life should look like it to better understand what it actually is.

Life is not a happily-ever-after. Life is not continual happiness. Life is learning and growing through making mistakes. Life is continually trying. Life is relearning the same thing over and over again. Life is being able to find joy, but only with imperfect circumstances.

I can’t do it all. No one can. We only have a certain amount of energy. I have occasional days that are really productive and lovely, but I’m not going sustain that long term. There are hard moments, unexpected problems, and it keeps coming and coming.

I have actually been really happy lately, but my happiness has increased as I’ve better accepted where I’m at in life, with all its flaws. I don’t really want to homeschool my children, but I can find joy in it anyway. I struggled with being a stay-at-home mom, but I can love it anyway.

And I know that I can’t do everything I want to. I started a transcription course and I don’t know if I will ever finish it. I would like to start a tiny business, but right now there isn’t time.

Sometimes I have to take a step back, slow down, prioritize taking care of myself, and then move forward again the best I can. I’m not going to get it all done.

And some days I have to strongly resist the temptation to play numb and clock out of life. Because I can’t get away from who I am and what life is, no matter how many YouTube videos I watch.

I have been trying to be more mindful about the decisions I make–I would rather read a book than watch a movie. I would rather spend time with my husband than check off things on my to-do list. I would rather connect with my kids than connect with my email.

And I really just want to accept where I am right now. I am still striving to achieve certain goals to build a different future (we are saving up to buy a house, I am going to school in economics, and my husband will seek out promotions in his work when they come available). But my life right now is where it is. I’m there today, and that’s what matters.

fractured, my life

Six thoughts

I’ve had quite a bit of technology problems lately: I locked myself out of my phone and ended up resetting it; my computer blew up with electrical problems; and a whole bunch of files on my website randomly disappeared. Conclusions: keep good backups of all your stuff. In multiple ways. I like to have things backed up at least three times and sometimes I do more. I was being quite relaxed on my backups, and that’s when everything died.

***

It’s better to love what you do than to do what you love. A lot of people don’t really chose their career paths and life goes in very unexpected directions. Often, people end up choosing a career by what internship they happen to get. Or sometimes life completely changes and we find ourselves in an unexpected place. And it’s just good to love where you’re at because we can’t always control as much as we would like to. I never expected to be a homeschooling mom of four children living in the middle of nowhere, but I can love being here.

***

I have been telling myself that if I wake up and read my scriptures, say my prayers, and exercise, I’m going to have a great day. Those things help, but I think it’s also really effective that I’m telling myself I’m going to have a good day. It’s a bit of a placebo effect.

***

The world is so much bigger and more complex than we can ever understand. It’s like we can’t understand big numbers–a million and a billion and a trillion all seem similar, even though they aren’t at all. Sometimes it feels heavy that we’ll never understand enough, but it’s also freeing too, because there is always more to learn.

***

We only influence a small handful of people in our life. My sphere of influence is mostly my four little children and my husband right now. You might have family, co-workers, neighbors, and more. But it’s not like those that influence millions are that much more important than those that influence a few. What matters is that you are loved and that you love. The size of the sphere doesn’t matter.

***

You can feel both optimistic and pessimistic about one thing. Because our feelings are temporary and come and go. I may feel excited one moment and then nervous and afraid a few moments later. Our feelings don’t create who we are.

inspiration

Levels of conversion: scripture study and going in the right direction

  1. A seven-year-old girl is beginning to read scriptures for the first time. She believes they are true. She knows some stories and she doesn’t understand all the words, but she keeps trying.
  2. A man has read the scriptures before, but struggles to do it on a daily basis. He believes they are true and is trying to read the more in his life.
  3. A woman reads them daily, but often doesn’t take the time to study them. She is trying to do better and on occasion has really good insights, even though she doesn’t have the time to read long.
  4. Another woman reads scriptures for about an hour a day. After working for over thirty years on improving her scripture study, she finds herself excited to read them every day and feels a great amount of joy from doing it.

So which one is better? No one is better. They are all trying, and that’s what matters.

Conversion is a lifelong process as we continue getting better and better. It’s not a singular destination in our lifetimes, but a continual journey in the right direction.

Wherever we are, what matters most is that we are trying to be a little better than we were before. We don’t need to feel guilty if we haven’t achieved a certain level that someone else has; what’s important is we keep trying.

fractured

Accepting the unfinished

It’s okay to let things be, even though they are unfinished and incomplete.

I have written books that will only exist in computer files, rough and unread. I have made plans for houses that I will never live in again. I have started learning, only to forget.

Incomplete. Unfinished. Wanting. Imperfect. Partial. Lacking. Fragments. Inadequate. Deficient. Garbled. Half-done. Meager. Rudimentary. Undeveloped. Unpolished. Rough. Sloppy. Failed. Broken.

But I am not looking for perfection. In everything I try, I grow. In everything I attempt, I learn.

And that is enough. It is enough to learn and grow and to move on and leave the fractions behind.

Sometimes the attempt teaches us so much that it does not need completion.

My life is a whole, not because it a collection of what I have completed, but because it is a collection of unrealized ideas that slowly became who I am.

And there is no use in finishing something without potential. Realizing problems and moving away from them is not failure, but wisdom. 

Sometimes, I keep trying. Today . . .

I move forward.