An End and a Beginning

I’ve been blogging for my entire adult life. As blogs both came and left, I was always there, my life and mind gently shared for those who wanted to read.

But the world has changed. I have changed. I don’t have much to say on this blog anymore in the ways that I have said it before.

I’m not totally sure what the next step is right now. I’m still figuring it out. I will not stop writing or living or sharing. But I am going to delete blogging from my to-do list for now. And when I post again, it’s going to be different.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. I know that there are very few who will read this, but I am grateful for you.

Goodbye for now.

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Categorized as fractured

Finding Myself Again

I was a writer.

In fifth grade, I wrote a poem. My teacher read it out loud to the class, and I felt special with the praise that came with it. For years, growing up, I wanted the words that I wrote to become my identity. I wanted to be a writer more than anything else–I majored in English in college; I wrote novels and short stories and poems.

That wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up: I was a writer back then. I still have most of the words that I have written, and I am proud of them.

But I did grow up. I got old and boring and started caring about things differently. I started to understand more about how the world worked, and not just how I wanted it to work. The world changed to. I’m not a writer anymore like I used to be: writing will always be part of my life, but I have other interests now.

I keep thinking about my next step. I got an undergraduate degree in economics and I want to go to graduate school. I think. Maybe? I’ve rethought my life and my goals constantly lately. I’m still uncertain: my kids are getting older, and I have different time available in different places of my life.

I consider different paths in front of me: economics, data science, working in a job, creating my own business–these are my possible side hustles as I play the main game of being a mom, and they are important to me.

I feel clarity with one word right now: educator. Because I love learning the very most, and I love helping other people. I’m not quite sure where that word will take me or how long it will last, but it’s something to work towards for now.

Uncertainty is sort of a familiar companion that will never really go away; I am not sure what the future holds, but I know some possibilities in front of me, and that’s enough.

Later in life, I’ll probably grow up more than I already have, and I’ll get even older and think about things even more differently. I’ll reinvent myself and change how I spend my time and what I do. Because that’s life: ever evolving, one step at a time. I’ll never know the ending.

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Categorized as my life

How to Take a Break

I’m not good at taking breaks. I’m good at getting really exhausted and then checking social media, but that is the worst way to take breaks.

My friend Amy recently told me that she doesn’t let her car get under a half tank. She wants to be prepared. And then she said, “Why can’t we do that for ourselves?” If we can manage to keep our vehicles full of fuel, we can also work to keep ourselves fueled and ready to go.

Which means we need to take breaks. And not breaks when we’ve become exhausted and empty–instead, we need breaks when we’re half-empty, before we’re exhausted.

But some breaks that I take are just horrible: Checking social media. Looking at the news and pandemic trends. Watching YouTube videos. Staring mindlessly at a computer screen is not a good break: it doesn’t replenish me and makes me feel more drained.

Here are some ideas on how to take a real break that can actually give our minds and bodies the rest we need and invigorate us to keep going:

  • Exercise.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Go outside.
  • Read a book.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Play with a child.
  • Do a small act of service.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Sit in silence.
  • Meditate.
  • Say something you’re grateful for.
  • Eat a snack. Preferably a somewhat healthy one.
  • Drink some water.
  • Clean up. Even doing a tiny bit can help.
  • Sit there and do nothing (but don’t look at a screen).

Sometimes taking a break is difficult. I have a hard time changing my focus and I want to just get stuff done. But it’s not efficient to get stuff done by working and working until I’m overly exhausted and I can’t do anything else.

I’m going to keep working on taking breaks–the right sort of breaks that will help me feel happier, energized, and live the life I want to live.

Mind Reading

I thought she wanted to be left alone, so I did. And because I left her alone, she thought I wanted to be left alone. And we almost missed a friendship. . . .

I thought they were concerned about germs, so I kept my distance when we were sick. And then they thought I was concerned about germs, even thought I wasn’t. . . .

She was a nerd, and I was a nerd, and we had all the same interests, but we never managed to connect. . . .

I assumed a neighbor was a certain way because of stereotypes and hearsay. But her opinions ended up being more nuanced, and even if we did disagree about some things, we didn’t disagree about everything. . . .

My own assumptions alter how I think about people and how I treat them. But those assumptions are often wrong. I can’t read minds. I don’t know as much about people as I think I do. And people don’t know much about me, either.

We have different lifestyles, different choices, different opinions. We have things in common and we have difference. But it’s easiest to approach every relationship with integrity.

I want to be the same person, to not try to hide who I am. That doesn’t mean I loudly insert my own opinions, but it does mean that I stop trying to adapt myself to fit to another person’s choices. I struggle with that sometimes. I don’t want to be contrary. So I don’t say things or I change what I say in order to fit in.

But so often, I’m adapting based on false information.

It’s better to be honest and true to myself, to let who I am come out more often, and not try to read another’s mind, but to simply ask them about themselves, to understand what I don’t know, and to assume only that I can continue to be kind.

 

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Categorized as essay

Kind to Yourself

Jesus Christ suffered for me so that I don’t have to suffer. He helps me to become better, patient with my mistakes as he offers healing, hope, and repentance. He treats me with overwhelming lovingkindness.

But how do I treat myself?

Sometimes I am downright mean to myself. It’s like I find myself wallowing in the mud, so I simultaneously yell at myself for being there while pushing my face back into the filth as punishment.

I sabotage my own change, not through weakness, but through cruelty as I tell myself that I don’t deserve better and that I’ll never be good enough.

I criticize constantly, picking at flaws and putting a magnifying glass up to things that don’t matter. There are physical characteristics that no one ever notices or cares about, and I point them out to myself, as if I could never be beautiful. I ruin my own time management in the simultaneous pursuit of too much that doesn’t matter and not enough that does, and then I become overwhelmed with shame that I can never get it right.

I treat myself in a way that I would never treat anyone else. I want to become better, but I am so nasty to myself that I get in the way of my own progress.

I want to be kinder to myself than anyone else in the world. I wan to become patient and loving, allowing myself to change without ruining it with my self-punishment.

I can forgive myself. I can allow myself to do better. I can release the shame. I can patiently go forward, step by step.

And as I love myself more, I become more beautiful as I come a little closer to my Savior.

 

Transform

Pain shifts me away from pride and I face the unknown. Uncertain, I embrace the darkness, except for it’s not dark, because there is a fire and it transforms and refines. Pain is the best part of being human. I change as humility allows the disposal of false beliefs. I become beautiful in the unknowing. Doubt births my faith: I no longer know, but I believe.

All kinds of love

I’ve been talking about the five love languages with my husband lately. We took the quizzes to figure out what our love languages were, but I didn’t particularly like the results. I would rather quality time than gifts, but I still want gifts.

I need all different types of love. I need physical affection and gifts and quality time and words of affirmation and acts of service. I don’t need one and not another; I need all of it. I want all of it.

And so I need to give in so many different ways. Dillon and I don’t particularly like gifts, but we exchanged Christmas gifts this year and loved it. If we never exchange gifts at all, then something feels a bit missing from our relationship.

I need to show all kinds of love to my children. I need to spend time with them. I need to talk with them. I need to help them out. And I need to hug and kiss them and tuck them into bed.

I don’t want to be fluent in one love language; I want to be fluent in all of them. Only then can I really give the love that I need to as a wife and a mother and a friend.

 

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Categorized as fractured

Possibilities and Planning

I want a five year plan. I keep on rethinking the directions I’m heading and want to feel a little bit more stable about my options for the future.

But I know that this plan isn’t going to be linear and clear. Life turns out a lot different than I expect it to. Five years ago, I had little idea of where I would be right now. I just graduated with an economics degree and now I have a part-time job working for FamilySearch doing image audits. I have four kids who take up most of my time and attention. I’m writing a book.

I don’t know where I will be in five years (possibly in the exact same place, but I really hope I’m sitting on a different couch). But I do know that there are a few different options that I want to pursue.

So instead of a five-year plan that looks like this:

I want a five-year plan that looks like this:

A plan doesn’t need to tell me exactly what I want to do. Instead, a plan gives me guidance on which opportunities I want to pursue. And then some of those opportunities will work out and be the right fit, and some of them won’t be.

Try Less to Be More

I want to fix everything about myself all at the same time. Spiritually, I want to read my scriptures, say my prayers, and grow in my faith and testimony to God. Physically, I want to exercise for longer, go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, eat less sugar, and drink more water. Socially, I want to serve my neighbors, reach out to friends, and spend more time with family. Mentally, I want to spend less time on my computer, be less distracted, and improve my focus.

And I would also like to take better care of my children, cook more meals, save more money, go outside more–all of it.

But guess what? I can’t do it all at once. I can’t fix every weakness. I can’t change all my habits. I’ve tried and it didn’t work.

Lately, I’ve had one basic goal: wake up at 6:00 in the morning and get ready for the day. It’s really simple and mostly attainable.

That small goal has made a big impact on my life. I feel like I’m improving. I feel more capable and less discouraged. My to-do list gets done better. I’ve been able to focus a little more. Other habits are improving too, even when I’m not focused on the.

I wish improvement came all at once, but it doesn’t. It comes in small and simple steps, one thing at a time. And I improve much more quickly when I focus my efforts on one small thing instead of trying to change everything about my life all at once.

Living, culture, faith

Intellect: burning, fueled by questions and answers and questions and doubt. The facts and the arguments and the proofs can burn so hot that they melt and change and reform. Refining when kept in control, but destroying when it attempts to answer everything.

Culture is the lens which we view everything and we are yelled at that we must get the culture right–culture that claims to be an argument between rights and wrongs that conflict and have nothing to do with actual right and wrong. Culture is framing and anchoring that makes the facts and the opinions shift around, dancing into something unrecognizably.

People didn’t use to smile like we do–but they cried, so sadness is more universal than laughter. We forget that we did not know. 

I don’t have answers.

Faith: is everything. A home that protects me if I refuse to burn it down. A fire that warms if I do not put it out. A plant that grows unless I cut it down. Safety and love and hope, but always a choice.

Deep rabbit holes of questions. I must understand more perspectives; I must know more answers. Simplicity is impossible and according to others, there are complications, addendums, footnotes to the beliefs I claim to have. 

Truth is truth and truth exists. But truth does not destroy that which is good. And that which is good is uncomplicated and simply good.

I am a combination of heuristics, pretending to be a being of reason and rationality when I am always working from habit, doing that which is comfortable, doing that which is safe. 

Faith is purpose behind heuristic, a choice without habit. Faith is me.