fractured

fractured

Technology

(written a few months ago)

My five-year-old son had a meltdown today because I suggested he had to play outside before getting on the tablet. So I made a decision that we were going to take the week off of technology.

The tablet is set up for educational purposes. The kid wanted to do math. But I feel like there is something wrong when not doing math right away somehow causes meltdowns. He gets a thrill from working on the tablet. The kid loves screens. But I want him to see there is more to life.

Our schools can applaud the fact they use so much technology. It improves test scores. It can increase how much they learn. In some ways, it is good. I’m not against it, really.

But then I wonder: are we forgetting how to create? How to play? How to connect with others? Technology makes everything so easy so maybe we forget how to do hard things.

I’m reading a book about a little boy who goes and herds cattle when he is eight or nine years old. He knows how to work hard. My kids barely help me clean the house.

Sure, the kids might be smart from all the technology, but have we overvalued being smart and sacrificed other values, like hard work, compassion, creativity, self-control, and basic morality?

So we will have a break. I want my kids to be smart too, but technology should not be their priority.

***

I teach 16/17-year-olds in a class at church. One kid does not have a smartphone. I told him that means his parents love him. I mentioned how much I regulate my own phone: no browser, no games, just the things that actually help my life. Depriving yourself of some things can open up the world.

***

Update: We have done less technology lately and I like it. My kids watch television, but there is almost always a time limit every day for them and they don’t complain when it shuts off automatically. We listen to podcasts and audiobooks of car rides. My kids read actual physical books quite a lot. They sometimes ask to play on my computer, but I rarely let them. We do play Pokemon Go sometimes, but not too frequently. We have an Amazon Alexa Dot and my kids enjoy that, but there is no screen involved.

I am happier (and probably smarter) when I watch less YouTube videos, when I read less random articles on the internet, and when I am going outside and reading books more often.

I liked a quote I heard recently that technology should be a servant, not a master, and I completely agree. Also, there are lots of other things that fall into this category of being a better servant than a master, like money or fire or hobbies or careers or entertainment or homes or just about anything. Because what we really want our values to be are things like serving God, helping others, building families, and becoming better people, and when we prioritize other things, our life gets out of balance.

fractured

A collection of thoughts

I think it’s dangerous to make simple issues complicated or to make complicated issues simple. We like to do a lot of both, but we should try to remember the complexity as it really is.

***

You don’t discover who you are as much as choose who you are. I think it’s dangerous to think you need to discover your true self. It’s a lot more useful to go and try things and choose what works best.

***

Sometimes we need to zoom out on the moments in our life. My kids might all be crying and complaining, but I don’t think I’ll really remember that. I’ll tell myself a completely different story about this time of my life in five or ten or twenty years.

We believe the stories we tell ourselves.

***

Do you remember what the internet used to be like? It was a whole bunch of information and text at one point, hand-coded html that was entirely simple. There was email and search engines and that was the internet. I sort of miss it. It’s so commercialized and manipulative now in some ways.

And then there was a time when the internet didn’t exist, and the computer consisted of word processing and games and programs (not apps, programs) that had specific purposes to help your life. In a way, I wish my kids could experience that. It seems simpler. But I suppose the technology we have is fine–today, they listened to music by telling a speaker what to do and they learned math by looking on my phone.

fractured, meditations

Stages of life

Baby. Incredibly fast learning and growing.

Toddler and preschool. Discovery that there is a physical world.

Elementary. Discovery of self in that world.

Middle school. Loss of self as the world gets bigger and more metaphysical.

High school. Rebuilding self in expanding circle.

Young adult. Connecting with the world as it really is.

Adult. Parent. It repeats.

Parenting babies. Fast learning and growing as a parent.

Parenting toddlers and preschoolers. Physical and fundamental teaching and parenting.

Elementary. Intensely guiding your children the best you can.

Middle school. Starting to let the kids make their own choices.

High school. Take a back seat role of support.

Young adult. Letting your children go.

And rediscover yourself again and again, the self that exists after parenting expanding you to something different.

We move from stage to stage, bored and busy, loud and quiet, tired and energetic, connected and lost.

Grandparent. Great-grandparent. It repeats.

In circles, one things remain: we must choose. 

do something, fractured

Recent life hacks

Rituals are really helpful in order to express love. We love our children and our spouse and our family, but often we just think expressions of love will happen naturally and spontaneously. They don’t. We have to plan it a bit.

Love means that we always kiss each other good night. Or that we tuck kids into bed and sing them a song. Or we call our moms every Wednesday. Or that we make take time to wrestle every day at 4:00. Or we cuddle every evening. Or we end conversations with, “I love you.”

Everyone wants something dependable and safe, and creating rituals of love can be so helpful in feeling more loved and showing that love more often.

***

Two days ago, I watched a video on YouTube by Jordan Page about a block schedule productivity system. I’m always looking for better ways to manage my life, and this one wasn’t entirely unique, but yet it was just what I needed at the time.

She basically separates her days into a few large blocks, with a timer on the phone to tell her when it’s the next block. I really liked it because instead of using lots of small blocks of time, it was a few big blocks of time, generally categorized but flexible and not too specific. And it was pretty much what I was already doing, but just a slight improvement on it.

For me, I came up with the following blocks:

  • Morning (6-9). Wake-up, scriptures, prayers, mental health, exercise, family scripture study, breakfast, showers, kids ready, cleaning, home projects.
  • Learning (9-12). Homeschool and playing with kids.
  • Lunch (12-1). Lunch and clean up.
  • Projects (1-3). The kids watch movies or play. I work on school, blogging, and other projects.
  • Family/errands (3-5). Time to play outside, go and do things, etc.
  • Dinner (5-7). Dinner, clean up, and whatever.
  • Bed time (7-8). Tubs, stories, bed.
  • Evening (8-10). I catch up on projects and spend time with my husband.
  • Sleep (10-6).

It’s pretty easy. What was super helpful to me was I organizing my to-do list by block. It sort of just made things fall into place more. Instead of thinking what I needed to get done, I was planning on when I was doing it and then not worrying quite as much.

 

fractured, meditations

Gratitude, Fear, and Perspective

Having less often means that you are more grateful. Isn’t that silly? I just heard Brene Brown talk about how when we are really happy and things are going really well, we usually are expecting something horrible to happen. We don’t let ourselves feel joy. We don’t let ourselves be truly grateful for the absolutely amazing things we have. It’s okay to be grateful. It’s okay that you have a lot and that you recognize that. Life is unfair–but sometimes that works in our favor, and we can recognize the absolutely amazing blessings we have.

Fear makes us do stupid things. I get scared of getting tired, and so I don’t do anything (and I feel tired). I get scared of being sick, so I don’t fully engage in life or take care of problems when they happen. I’m scared of talking to people, so I end up being super awkward. Fear isn’t rational. Fear doesn’t lead us down good paths.

Sometimes, it has been useful to me to zoom out on my life. We can get so stuck in avoiding those small moments of pain that we totally forget about the big picture. It’s good to remember the good picture: everything goes away. Right now is all we have.

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The Lie of Happily Ever After

Marriage isn’t about true love. It’s not about finding the perfect person. It’s about finding someone who has potential and a person we can grow with and improve.

It’s okay to marry someone with different strengths and weaknesses, even if some other people might feel that they are marrying up or down. Sometimes we just don’t understand and that’s okay. We don’t have to.

We all have rough patches and we shouldn’t be judged by them. We all have really good moments too.

We can stick with each other in mistakes and trials. Life is not a happily ever after. No one has the ideal life. We all just keep working and trying our best.

(written January 2018)

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Things that have helped me through doubt

  • Remembering good experiences
  • Relying on my heritage and the faith of others
  • Remembering what faith and hope is
  • Continuing to obey the commandments
  • Writing things down
  • Doubt my doubts
  • Realizing I don’t have to have all the answers
  • Embracing questions
  • Serving others
  • Seeking the wisdom of God
  • Relying on love
  • Knowing God loves me
  • Priesthood blessings
  • Wanting to believe
  • Writing down reasons to believe
  • Searching out balanced sources, and trying to avoid heated ones
  • Trying to do God’s will instead of my will
  • Seeing the good in the things around me
  • Learning the stories of my ancestors
  • Reading my scriptures
  • Reading general conference talks and studying them.

(Note: I’m going through post ideas from long ago that I never finished and posting them up for the next few days.)

essay, fractured

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.

fractured, inspiration, meditations

One-liners to think about

Children are not problems to solve, but people with problems.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Phillipians 4:11). 

You can live with your emotions no matter how intense; what you can’t do is live without them.

When you want to treat yourself, try water, vegetables, hard work, exercise, and getting your house clean.

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.