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The World Changes: Forecasting & Fortune Telling

I was having a conversation with my brother today, and he asked me something about the future, about what I think would happen.

I basically said that I had no idea, because the world changes. And sometimes we don’t even realize all the changes that are happening until we look back at them.

Forecasting is more like trying to be a fortune teller sometimes. It can be incredibly inaccurate because it rests on the premise that the future is going to be like the past. We assume that trends will continue and we project without being able to know the unexpected.

Things make sense when you are looking backward. Things sometimes don’t make sense at all when we are looking forward.

Population forecasts, stock forecasts, housing forecasts, weather forecasts, climate forecasts: they might be right, but they could also be very wrong. Things may change, things we don’t expect. Trends change.

So I’m optimistic, because I’m a lot happier that way, even if the forecasts seem like doom and gloom. The world might end tomorrow, but I really doubt it.

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Experience and Bias

I am a white female and I was raised in a religious and conservative town that has now grown to a large suburb with a lot of tech jobs. I have lived in northern Nevada and eastern Wyoming and quite a few places in Utah, and I have never left the United States. I can’t get away from my experience and where I came from, and I don’t want to, but that also comes with certain biases that I can’t get rid of. I have had a lot of privilege and opportunities in life, like scholarships and financial support and free housing. In some ways, my life has been really easy. In other ways, it’s been sort of difficult. My life is unique, and while I can try to understand others, I don’t really know what’s it like for them.

I don’t know what it is like for a lot of people out there. I can try to learn the best I can, but I don’t know what it’s like to be black or Mexican or be raised by a single parent. I don’t know what’s it’s like to be a refugee or what it’s like to be evicted from the only home I have. I don’t know what it’s like to have disability or to look different from other people. I also don’t know what it’s like to be rich.

I can’t get rid of the privilege and blessings I enjoy. I have a certain viewpoint from my experience, and it’s not necessarily right all the time.

I can say that I’m not racist or homophobic or prejudiced, but that’s not really true. I don’t want to be, but I can’t get away from my own experience. Sometimes I’m not sure what to say or do. Sometimes I think or say offensive things. I don’t mean to. I work on learning more about other people and other experiences, but I can’t ever fully understand. I can listen, though. I can learn a little bit more. I can keep working on it, but I’ll never be perfect.

Sometimes we view the world from our own viewpoint and not realize that we can only see one part of the picture in our own framework.

My DNA is very European. I come from ancestors who immigrated from places like England and Scotland and Germany and who came to the United States and settled here. They are basically are the winners of history in a way: they fought and they won. But that means there were losers too. I don’t know what parts of history were right or wrong; it just happened. And I can’t change what happened, even if it doesn’t always follow the same values people talk about today.

I’m not ever going to see the whole picture of life, but I don’t want to be the sort of person that thinks I’m right because I’m coming from my own experience. Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I can’t understand why I’m wrong. But I’ll keep learning and working on it anyway.

Sometimes we think, because we are privileged and have certain opportunities, that all other people enjoy the same thing. But they don’t. Some people have it a lot harder than we do, and while we can easily judge them and determine how they should do better to fix their lives, usually we just don’t understand yet.

You can’t really understand unless you experience and live through something. So we don’t have to be competing against each other; we just have to help make room for each other and help each other out, and sometimes to ask how to do that when we don’t really know how. We can have empathy and compassion by trying to understand the best we can and realize that it will always fall a bit short.

 

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Lying, Sneaking, and Obstruction of Justice: Children and Politicians

I have some really great children that I love a lot. But they make mistakes. They are old enough to know when they haven’t done the right thing. But they are still learning, so their instinct is to hide.

They don’t like to tell me when something goes wrong. (I can tell by the screaming sometimes.) They sometimes give me the right answer instead of the one that is actually true. (“Did you brush your teeth?” “Yes.” “Your toothbrush is dry. Go brush your teeth.”)

Kids like to hide things like gum and candy wrappers. They will lie about what happened and say they didn’t do it when they really did. They don’t ask permission and they sneak and they hide. I think this is pretty normal for every kid out there. I know I did it.

But this behavior, while it seems childish, can continue on and on. We all are guilty of lying, sometimes more often than we think. We hide and sneak. We try to save face and appear better than we are.

I was thinking about how when politicians and powerful people get into trouble, I often hear the words “obstruction of justice.”  They are doing the same things as my children: hiding candy wrappers, telling falsehoods, and trying to appear like they are doing the right thing when they are not.

It’s hard to tell the truth. It’s really hard to admit when you make a mistake. It’s hard to always ask for permission. It’s hard to live with integrity, where you don’t have anything to hide.

I once broke a computer at work years ago. It was a huge mistake. And I had to tell them about it. So I did, even though I was a bit scared. But it turned out just fine. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s when you don’t admit the mistake that it really becomes a problem.

I know my husband, as a manager, would much rather his employees talk to him about the mistakes they make instead of just hoping it goes away. He’s had multiple employees damage vehicles without admitting any fault. They all get found out, and it would have been so much easier for them if they would have admitted what they did when they did it.

When we tell the truth and admit our mistakes, frankly and honestly, we feel better and we are able to move forward. We usually can’t hide things very well. They resurface and they come up. But if we just admit what we did was wrong, we apologize, and we work to make it right, we find ourselves happier, in control of our life, and more able to develop good relationships and help others.

People actually think higher of those who admit they are wrong. We try to hide our shame sometimes so people will like us, but in reality, the effects are the opposite. Vulnerability is a positive thing, not negative, and we would all do well to be more forthcoming about fixing our mistakes instead of hiding them.

Sometimes the most powerful people haven’t learned this lesson. I’m trying to teach my kids: telling the truth is so important. I am often much more supportive and gentle when my kids admit a mistake than when I find out on my own. When we want an increase of love, we do that by seeking help in confessing and fixing, not in hiding.

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Praise

I have never been praised for my singing voice, except for some mild positive comments. I view this as an entirely good thing.

You see, when we get praised for something, particularly when we are young, we may start to build up our self-imagine around that thing. It becomes part of who we are. But the thing is, we may not actually be particularly good at it in another setting. And we usually always have room for improvement.

When we get praised, we often will start to build our ego and self-worth around that thing. This is dangerous, because our self-worth shouldn’t really be based in what we do; it’s just who we are, and it is still there even when we can’t do something anymore, or we can’t do it as well as we thought.

We shouldn’t stop praising people, but we need to be careful with our children and praise in the right way. So that they know they have self-worth even if they realize later on that there are millions of people who are smarter than them, and stronger than them, and better than them at doing certain things.

Instead of saying, “You sing really well,” try, “I love to hear you sing.”

Instead of saying, “You are really smart,” say something like, “I really am proud of how hard you have worked in school.”

Sometimes we do things whether we are good at it or not–we do it because we enjoy it. And that’s much better way to be, doing things independent of whether we are better than someone else, doing something because it feels right, instead of doing something to inflate our ego and make us feel better about ourselves.

And stop praising yourself too–you don’t have to BE a good writer or a good singer or good at anything. You just exist. You DO. And that’s enough.

(Written January 2018)

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Seeking help

Often I have pleaded for help from God, but I have often been too proud, too ashamed of my struggles, to reach out to help for others.

The other day, I was dealing with a difficulty in my own life and I wanted better solutions. Though I had prayed, fasted, and talked with my husband, I still didn’t have the answers I wanted.

So I took all my feelings and I wrote an email to my mom, asking for advice.

She wrote me back with exactly the words I needed. Revelation came through her, and then was confirmed and enhanced through the Holy Spirit. I was not able to solve my problem on my own (though I had tried through lots of internet searches). God answered my prayers through others and only after I asked for help.

Sometimes God does not give us the answers in the way we want. We have to do our part in seeking help from others. I’m not saying that we put all our problems out there for everyone to see. Sharing private and personal problems publically can cause hurt and distress. Instead, turn to the Lord first and then share with trusted family members, friends, and others who are put into our lives to help us and guide us.

You don’t have to do it alone. But often we persist in figuratively locking ourselves in a room to deal with our problems, hoping someone will break down the door to help us. We might even shout for help in a vague way. But to receive the help we are entitled to, we have to actually unlock that door and open it through questions and requests for help from the people who already love us and want to help.

That can be so difficult. But it is necessary to receive the full help and blessings that God wants us to have. He will help us know who to reach out to. He can help us know what to say. And He will help us know who we can help when others struggle.

We are not meant to do it by ourselves, even if we want to. We are much better off helping each other through life, but that can only happen if we strip ourselves of pride and unlock the door.

I realized recently that my instinct when I was having a hard time was to isolate myself. Whenever I have hurt and cried, I wanted to be far away from others. It’s still a struggle. But I just started imagining crying while being held by someone else and what that would feel like. That act of visualizing helped start to heal something inside me. I did not have to be ashamed of my tears.

Success in life is not always about knowing the answers; its learning to ask the right questions.

Life is full of struggles for everyone. We need real connection with each other. We need vulnerability, honesty, and trust. When we ask for specific help, we will find it. But often we have to ask first.

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dichotomies of life

Sometimes I have a difficult time staying happy. Sometimes I am really happy and I feel blessed and life is so very good. And then other moments, I feel like I’m falling into a hole of melancholy where nothing seems quite right.

Some of this is related to being a mother. It’s emotionally draining. And there is a constant battle of being unfulfilled on one side and feeling immense guilt on the other. I want to do my own projects, to create and learn on my own, but I end up feeling guilty for not doing enough for my kids.

And add in the regular isolation that happens as a mother. I am a little bit more isolated than a lot of people, as I live over a half hour away from any other family. I want to feel a part of something, and a lot of times I just end up doing it all by myself. Then when I’m around people, sometimes it’s gets exhausting and I just want to go home.

I have a lot going on and I feel incredibly busy in some moments, but then in other moments I have absolutely nothing to do and hours to fill.

Sometimes I just want stability, but that isn’t life. I hate things and I love them, often at the same time.

The only thing to do is to keep trying. But that’s enough. Trying is enough. Because the day starts over and over again, and no matter how many difficult moments there are, I know there is still happiness ahead.

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Decisions

Sometimes the things you value will conflict, so you have to choose between them. And it’s hard sometimes.

I’ve been super indecisive lately, a lot because I really am not sure where I am heading in life. It’s also because I really value taking care of my children. But I also value my own personal development and growth. And I value doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do. And I value happiness and enjoyment.

Sometimes I’m not always sure where those intersect. And so I rethink my decisions: is it really worth it to spend time away from my kids in order to work on my own projects?

I’m not always sure. But I do know one thing: I am going to end this blog post right here in order to go spend time with my family.

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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.

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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?

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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.