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.

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.

 

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.

inspiration · my life

Change is the only constant

So I have been doing some reflection. I can become quite a miserable person. I always want something more out of life. And while sometimes that seems like a rather ungrateful thing, I just get bored easily. I can’t do the same thing over and over again.

I have tried to find the perfect routine, the perfect cleaning schedule, the right way to live. But in reality, I want change. And I want it regularly. I like having things to look forward to. I like experiencing different things.

And on the other side, I am sort of a lazy, depressed homebody and I have a hard time kicking myself out the door and going on the adventures that would make me happy.

I want to try to be more adventurous in life. I sit and I plan every day with a very strong sense of duty and a very small sense of adventure. I usually want to get things done for the sake of getting them done instead of for the sake of doing them.

So I want to make a change. I want to build more change into my life regularly, so I’m not doing the same thing over and over again (and becoming miserable as I do it). I have some ideas:

  • Switch out how I plan. Try new apps, new planners, and new methods–not in an attempt to find the perfect way, to be continually interested in new ways.
  • Switch out routines. Instead of trying to stick to the same exact morning routine (and continually failing at it), switch things up. Take a bath instead of a shower, or switch orders, and mix things up.
  • Try new recipes regularly, and try cooking in new and different ways that excite me.
  • Switch out productivity blocking, software, and rules regularly (I always find new ways to waste my time).
  • Go on adventures to try new things and do things in different ways. Learn from other people.
  • Create regularly in new and different ways. Draw or paint or play an instrument or sing or create a video or whatever.
  • Dare myself to do new and exciting things–such as working on classes, going on dates with my kids, and trying new things.
  • Physically push myself to do better. I know I don’t like to do the same sort of exercise every day, so I want to switch it up more. Maybe try running for a week or a bike ride or aerobics class or whatever.
  • Be mindful of the exciting changes that happen around me, such as changes to my children and changes to the weather.
  • Organize my things in new and different ways.
  • Limit what I have to do in favor of things I want to do. And make the things I have to do more interesting so I want to do them.
  • Experiment.
  • Listen to music. Sing. Dance. Create.
  • Take joy in the current moment instead of worrying about what the future will bring.

 

my life

some thoughts recently

I have been practicing mindfulness lately and as I have been doing it, I have noticed things that I thought I enjoyed actually make me miserable. These include:

  • Eating more than one piece of candy.
  • Watching lots of YouTube videos.
  • Procrastinating cleaning my house.
  • Sitting and doing nothing.
  • Not cooking for dinner.
  • Binge watching Netflix videos.
  • Eating lots of potato chips.

There are things that are a bit addictive, but they don’t really provide any pleasure. I often just click on things because it’s easy, not because I really want to.

I am happier when I work hard, learn, play with my kids, go on adventures, try new things, serve others, talk with people in real life, etc. But those things take effort.

And spending too much time on my computer or eating unhealthy things or not being present in my own life takes little effort at all. It’s easy in a way, but it makes my life incredibly more difficult because I find myself miserable and without motivation to do what I know is right.

The best way I have to deal with this is to plan out my day and get a good start. If I start out the day knowing what I want to do and start working hard and being present at the very beginning, it’s easier to keep doing that throughout the day.

And if I make sure that my house is clean and things are generally put together before I go to bed, I also have an easier time starting my day right.

So this is what I’m working on right now.  I’m feeling a lot happier with myself and a lot more in tune to what brings happiness into my life and what brings misery.

inspiration · my life

You can cry about the spilled milk … after it’s cleaned up.

So it’s about 5:30 in the evening. I really want my husband to be home. I’ve been working on some things on the computer, which means that either my kids are watching way too much television or the house is a wreck. When I get off the computer, I find that it is both: the house is covered cracker and brownie crumbs. A can of cooked carrots has managed to make a presence in every single room of the house. Half my books are on the floor. And the kids have been binge watching YouTube videos yet again, even though I told them not to (I’m getting a device to shut off the TV; I hope it works).

In the middle of this, I look down to see that my daughter has something nasty on her leg. Yes, it’s poop. It’s not her poop. The poop belongs to the naked three-year-old. He’s naked because he successfully went poop in the toilet earlier and he never got himself dressed again. But this time, he pooped in the toy room. I am glad it’s not on the carpet in the living room like it was two days ago.

So I have to clean up the poop. When that is done, I just want to cry because there is still so much to do.

But I think to myself: Not right now. You can cry about this in a minute, but right now you are going to clean everything up. And then I clean (most of) it up. (When I’m done cleaning, I write this blog post.)

It’s okay to cry over spilled milk. I’ve done it before when my kids have spilled bowls of cereal FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. But it’s better to cry about it AFTER you clean it up. You’re already upset, so it’s not going to make things worse to actually clean up your messes. It might actually make it better. And if it doesn’t, when you’re done cleaning, lock yourself in your room and let yourself feel awful for a few minutes and take time to breathe. It’s okay.

my life

I can do this

I don’t exactly like talking to people on the phone. When I was young, I was downright terrified of it. I’m not sure why–maybe I was afraid that I would look like an idiot and not know what to say.

Somehow, I had this fear that if I was in the middle of a conversation, the experience would be so overwhelming that my brain would stop working and I wouldn’t know what to say or I would say the entirely wrong thing. And sometimes, admittedly, conversation does not work out as expected and I do say things that aren’t quite what I meant.

But really, it’s my fear of saying the wrong thing that actually makes me say the wrong thing. Because when I’m not afraid, I just think and talk and things work out fine.

I watched this video the other day:

When I watched that video about artificial intelligence that could hold a conversation like a human, it made me realize: I am smarter than Google Duplex, and so I can talk on the phone (and in other places) just fine and I don’t have to be afraid anymore. That program has a limited amount of responsiveness, and it can hold a conversation and not look like an idiot (though I am sure sometimes it does look like an idiot when it’s not on camera). I have years of experience with working with people, and the ability to think creatively and come up with new responses.

I don’t have to be afraid because I am actually completely capable.

I have also been listening to a few chapters of a book about making a good first impression and getting along with people. It’s pretty easy, really: make eye contact, don’t close yourself off, smile, find common ground–simple things.

If you happen to be shy or socially awkward or any of that, realize that you are just fine how you are. You are smarter than a robot–so you are capable of conversation and connections. Yes, there might be awkward moments, but your brain is capable of responding, correcting, and continuing onward. You can do it. There’s no reason to be afraid.

essay · my life

Happiness

Happiness is not dependent on circumstance.

Every other time we’ve moved, we really wanted to move. We moved after months of job searching, or after living with my parents, or after living in places we didn’t like. But this last time, while we felt like it was time to move, we liked the life we had. I felt like I was part of a community that I didn’t really want to leave.

Some days, I miss my friends, schools, and my house. Our new life is frankly a whole lot harder: I’m homeschooling now, my husband works longer hours, I’m really far away from town, and I gave up my green yard for a yard full of cactus and red sand. My house is smaller too. It’s taking some adjustment.

But I realized something one morning: my happiness is not dependent on my circumstance. Which means that I don’t have to like where I live to be happy. Happiness does not wait for life to be perfect–it can be here now.

Sometimes I fall into a trap of thinking that I have to see the good in everything. And sometimes, things are just hard and unpleasant. And I can accept that. It’s part of life.

I don’t have to love the paint color on my walls or enjoy my rather narrow kitchen. I don’t have to love every minute of spending all day, every day with my four children. There are things about my life right now that I don’t like and I don’t want. And that’s okay. Because I can still be happy.

It’s takes a lot of pressure off myself to say that I don’t have to enjoy every minute and I don’t have to like every single part of my life–and to then realize that I can still wake up smiling.

There are so many good things, and the good things are enough to outweigh everything lacking. And even when the difficult and hard things are completely overwhelming–it’s okay to cry. I don’t have to be happy all the time to have a happy life.

It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to dream of something better. It’s okay to feel whatever I’m feeling.

Sometimes I beat myself up for things that I do that aren’t even wrong. I expect myself to fit in a weird, impossible framework that I built up in my own mind. The perfection that I think I want isn’t practical–and it doesn’t exist.

Life isn’t perfect. Life isn’t fair. Life will always be sort of hard. That’s what life is–a roller coaster of ups and downs as circumstances constantly change.

So happiness does not need to wait–it can happen right now. Even if my house is a wreck. Even if I’m really tired. Even if I didn’t accomplish anything in a day. Even if I don’t particularly like where I live. Even if my life looks so different from I ever imagined–and I still wish for dreams that I’m not sure will ever happen.

My happiness isn’t dependent on any of that. Happiness comes not in the accomplishment, but in the trying.

So I’m feeling happy. Not because my life somehow got easier, but because I decided to stop expecting the impossible.

my life

My Life as a Mom Today

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I don’t really want to do this today.

My two-year-old took off his poopy diaper today while I was taking a nap. We are attempting potty training. The diaper was on so that I could take the nap. I woke up because of the screaming baby who wanted attention, but the diaper situation won over her cries. We got him all cleaned up, as well as parts of the bathroom that had gotten a bit dirty in the process. And then I picked up the baby.

The reason I needed a nap is because my baby has suddenly forgotten that is she supposed to sleep in her bed at night and she has long periods of either crying or sleeping by my face, which is not restful.

Before my nap, I had spent an hour on Instagram because I was tired and I wasn’t making good decisions. I let the two-year-old and the four-year-old to watch movies or play games or do whatever.

The furniture in the toy room was rearranged today (not by me) and there are games scattered across my living room. Remnants of peanut butter and jelly sandwich are still stuck to the counter and cracker crumbs cover the dining room floor. Did I eat lunch?

The boys are outside while I am writing this, and a part of me wishes I was out there with them, but I have a house to clean up and a baby who still needs to eat something for lunch, even though it is way past lunch time.

My four-year-old insists that I make him jell-o, and I don’t know why he wants it so bad. He’s been pestering me about it all day, which probably means that I should just boil the water and make the jell-o and everyone will be happy. But I don’t. Because I don’t like orange jell-o, when it comes down to it, and that’s the only flavor we have.

I’ve had a string of really good days — some of them have been productive, some of them have involved adventures, and some of them have just been totally normal. Today doesn’t feel like another good day. I’m tired.

But eventually I will get sleep. And even this not-as-good day was full of good moments: I talked to my mom. I read a book as the boys lined up dinosaurs in patterns I didn’t understand. I sorted through the Pokémon cards with my four-year-old and we figured out how many cards we own have over 100 HP. I played Candy Land. I made my baby smile.

At one point, an alarm rang on my phone. It has a text-to-speech function and announces, “Potty,” in a weird, computer voice. I look up after dismissing the alarm to find my two-year-old without any clothes on his lower half, carrying pants towards me. Too late, alarm. Much too late.

Life is about continuing to try. The house will get cleaned up. Dinner will happen in some form or another. I will probably make orange jell-o today and I will go outside and play in the melting snow, happy that it is melting.

So I guess I do want to do this after all. That even through the exhaustion, this is my life. I will keep doing laundry, keep picking up my baby when she cries, keep trying to teach my children how to be responsible while trying to remain responsible myself.

And know that no matter how hard it feels sometimes, this is the life I have always wanted.