Phones and hard lessons

A couple of weeks ago I read an article that has been rolling around in my head.  I read a few more studies and articles in the past week and it has be hard to read, truly.  All of the articles and studies have to do with smartphone usage in kids, specifically 10-17 year-olds, and it has be eye opening.  All of the articles usually start with the story of a teenager or soon to be teenager that was bright, funny, smart, and outgoing but attempted suicide or became severely depressed.

One article talked about about between 2010 and 2016 (where nearly every American owned a smart phone) major depression, suicide, anxiety, and an overall feeling on hopelessness has jumped at an alarming rate.  Teenagers especially have be affected and another article which dubbed this generation (1995-2015) iGen is not completely unfounded.  Instead of teenagers getting together to hang out (which back in my day was to talk and talk and talk, eat something, maybe play some games and watch a movie) has turned into teenagers shutting themselves in their rooms with their phones and mindlessly browsing, posting pictures on social media, googling whatever comes to mind, and texting.  There is little need for human connect it seems like.

But the interesting thing that I pulled out of each of these articles is that the teenagers are actually looking for acceptance, someone to talk to, and need social interact but do not know how to get it.  Many times in the stories that started out the articles, the teenagers telling their stories, decided to try and commit suicide because they knew they needed help but didn’t know how to get it and/or ask for help.  Instead of our next generation learning social skills and ways to interact with people, build a network, have people around that like them for them, relax, and be fine with just reading a book, there is a new norm. They are expected to look perfect all the time, never relax because there is always someone watching, fear social interactions because they might say something wrong, have a network of “friends” on social media, they are never sure is someone really likes them or is just being nice because there is rare face to face interaction.  Now, I am not saying that every kid is like this but man, all these articles and studies I have read was so sad to me.

Now, I am totally an introvert, and would much rather text someone if I am just asking a question really fast or want to set up a play day, but I also value talking to real people.  I love having my husband home and the talks that we have at the dinner table, or what we call “couch talks”, it is valuable time and time that I love.  I have a friend that just makes me feel happy every time we get together (and every time we get together we always talk about how we need to get together more than once a month:)).  The value of interaction and face to face contact is so incredibly important but when people are looking to screens for friendship and acceptance, it is not always truth.

I guess this stuff all hit me hard because of another reason.  My phone randomly died a few months ago and through fighting with the company and shipping and yada,yada…I was without a smartphone for like 3 weeks.  It was great for like the first 3 days, and then it was just rough.  I am sad to admit that I felt disconnected from outside life.  I just had my little life here, in my house and it was hard.  I didn’t realize the effect technology had on me.  When I got my phone back, I didn’t do it on purpose, but I was ALWAYS on my phone.  It was like my brain was addicted and I had to make up that time lost.  This past week, as I have been reading these articles I have felt a lot of guilt about being more present with my screen than my kids at times (lots of time on my phone this week trying to find clothes for a wedding).  I have already made new goals and have moved forward with them.

Truthfully I am sad that this is happening, that not just kids but adults as well, are relying so much on what social media has to say and how it is hurting all of us.  So, I am not telling you to throw away every smartphone but set limits (for kids and yourself), stick to the limits, be parents to your kids, pray about how to help those around you, and most of all make memories with those you love and tell them that they are worth it and just how much you love them!

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Just an ordinary person

I have always been enamored with the thought of how one person can make a difference.  For some reason it just strikes me how just a little person can do so much good or so much bad.  I have been reflecting lately on how in my life it definitely has been little things that have made a difference.  And all those little things involved people that were ordinary people but people who stepped up and where DOING something.  I guess that is what I want to get at today, it is in the DOING that we are able to give.

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I am usually not into TV shows where there are judges and then people vote for whomever they like, but for some reason (probably because I was just tired and needed to veg) I turned on “America’s Got Talent”.  And there was an amazing person that I just happened to tune in for at the right time.  She was a singer/songwriter and performed an original song in the first round of the competition. It was amazing, the song had so much depth and her voice was amazing, and she was deaf.  It was Mandy Harvey. You really should go read her story.  But, I was touched by her, not just her vocal or her musical tone, but by her courage to not just audition for AGT but to return to music in her life. She got a golden buzzer from Simon and the AGT journey began, she ended up being 4th overall this season, but she didn’t walk away a loser by any means, she has so much ahead of her and she is doing it little by little with courage and grace.  What an amazing example of DOING something to help others and in turn helping her find herself.

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My cute husband and I watched a foreign film last night.  We hardly ever watch movies, so it was hard to even choose a movie, but I had heard about it from the book so we launched into it.  At first, I thought I was not going to be super into the movie because I had to read all the subtitles, but I was wrong.  It was called, “A Man Called Ove.” You can watch the trailer here. I really wanted to read the book but our library doesn’t have it, which I couldn’t believe, and I rarely buy a book unless I really know I am going to like it.  Well, the short of if it is this, Ove is a grumpy old widower and is the mindset of everyone is out to make him miserable so he is going to make everyone else miserable.  But as the story unfolds, we learn of Ove’s story and how he lost the joy in his life because of little choices along the way.  In the end he turns around and learns how to find joy and touches many others that are in his path.  I am not going to lie, I was bawling through the end and as I kneeled down to say my prayers last night I found myself feeling all sorts of emotions for this made up character that hit home for me.  It was a great exercise of introspection and love for all those people in my life, that even though they have their own struggles, reach out to others.

Just this week I have been blessed by the love of others.  From a text, an email, a Facebook message, a smile at kindergarten pick up, a huggle (a hug and a snuggle) from my three year old who is so cute but the terrible threes are making her look bad, going out to lunch, the big smile my 7 year old gives me when she comes walking toward the van when we pick her up from school, my  5 year old asking endless questions and being able to learn together, my husband taking time to be together with me and talk to me and love me and watch the kids while I go to meetings and folding laundry and sweep the floor and take the time to understand me. I just hope that I can give back to others in ways that they need, in ways that they will know that someone loves them, cares for them, and that we all have a Heavenly Father who puts people in our paths to be His earthly hands.

Many times it seems like there are no earthly hands waiting for us to give us a hug, pick us up, or just talk to, but I know that it is in those times that as we reach toward God and talk to Him we will feel heavenly hands.  I have had lonely times in my life and times where I was purposely lonely, but I always can turn to God.  He knows me, and He knows each one of us.  As small and insignificant as we seem, He can help us to get up and DO.

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Just keeping it real

I have just been keeping it real here the past few weeks.  Two of my kids started school so that was exciting.  It is weird to just have one kid home with me for the 2 and 1/2 hours of kindergarten.  She thinks it is the greatest thing in the world.  When people ask my little three year old what she does with mom when the other kids are at school, her answer is always, “Me and mom get to hang out!”  Haha.  Then I got a new calling (ie a new responsibility) in my church which was totally unexpected and threw me for a loop.  Then I got a cold.  It started out as tons of snot running down my throat, to a hot and burning sore throat, to a mucus-y cough, to a dry cough, and then I lost my voice.  One night after being up coughing all night and my head feeling like it was going to explode from the sinus pressure, I was sure it was something more than a cold.  Then my phone went crazy.  It turned itself off and then got stuck in a “boot loop”.  My cute hubby tried everything to try and fix it, we took it to a local repair place, but they didn’t want to be too invasive because of the warranty (I only had the phone for less than 6 weeks) so then we had to call the company we got it from and it just so happened to be a holiday weekend, so OF COURSE they were closed.  On top of it, I went to the doctor, and he told me I had a cold (oh really?!) and that I would probably be coughing for 3 weeks or more.  The next day after going to the doctor, guess what?  I got pink eye and had to go again.  Seriously…SO…I am going on two weeks of coughing and on my second week of no phone.

In one way it has been nice to not have a phone, especially when I was at the height of being sick and couldn’t really think.  My head was literally full of snot and I just couldn’t think.  It has been nice to not worry about charging my phone or forgetting it somewhere and just be more present with what is actually going on around me.  I don’t have the need to see if someone has sent me a message or if an email went through.  I guess all in all, I have been less distracted.

On the other hand it has been hard to not be able to text or call someone when I feel the need.  I have worried about something going wrong at school with my kids and they try and call me, but there is no answer.  I miss my daily texts at lunch time from my cute husband. So, I miss my small human connections that my phone helps me to propagate.

So, here is to another week of coughing and hopefully only half another week without a phone.

Waiting for Stillness

My favorite, favorite scripture of all time has got to be Proverbs 3:5-6;

“5 ¶ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

It has been on my mind recently.  Then I read Isaiah 49:23 and the end of the verse really hit me;

“thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.”

Those that WAIT shall not be ashamed and then another scripture popped into my head, Isaiah 40:31;

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”new-zealand-1450672_1280

I have always been drawn to this scripture but I was unsure why.  But it hit me….it has to do with WAITING.  When I think about waiting I think about how much I don’t like to wait.bus-stop-391242_1280  I hate when people are late, I hate to make people wait, I don’t like when something starts late when I have made sure to be there on time, but reading these three scriptures together I have come to understand waiting in a spiritual sense.  It is a way of building and strengthening our character.

In Isaiah 40:31 it talks about renewing strength, mounting up, running, and walking.  Could it be that waiting upon the Lord can make our faith a true and active force in our lives?  Faith is power and action and moves a person to DO or MOVE.  When I think of waiting in my day to day life it is not active, but stagnate, stalling and negative.  But, waiting spiritually allows us to be still.  Back to Proverbs, when we truly put our trust in God we MOVE forward in His path.  I don’t want to lean, I want to be strong.  The other day I was doing yoga and we moved into tree pose.  silhouette-2208079_1280I felt the strength of rooting into the earth and standing still.  I wasn’t leaning, I was strong and steady.  I was waiting but not wanting, breathing and letting things be.  I was still.

Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

What an amazing moment to connect all of these things and to remember that in the hard times and in the good, as we wait upon the Lord we will be exactly where He wants us to be.

1 year

One year this blog has been alive. Crazy. It is time to look back to see how much the trees have grown.  I actually want to just write about a few things that I have noticed since starting this fun blog.

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1- I am WAY better at expressing my emotions in written form.  I also have a lot more to say when I am writing it down and that is a good thing because I learn from those extra words that come out.  As I look back at posts through this year, I am reminded of fun times, happy times, hard times, trying times, and the rotation continues through it all. But I am grateful that we have the opportunity to choose how to feel, no matter what time it is.

2- I really like mediating.  That sounds so weird, but I do.  I have to admit I have slacked for a couple of weeks, and I am feeling it.  I had a great conversation the other night with my cute husband about how his mediation is totally different than mine, but that it bears the same benefits for him.

3- Sometimes I have nothing to say, and that is okay.  I was going to blog every week for the unknown, but realized that that was too taxing on me and that I am okay with working through silence.  Silence is a good thing and makes things more clear.  I am grateful to be able to realize that being still is important.

4- I am always grateful for the responses that I receive.  At first, I used to live for responses and see how many people read what I wrote, but I was missing the point.  This blog, although it is out there with many people, my self-esteem is NOT dependent upon responses or likes or how many random people came to visit my blog.

5- I am of worth.  One person does make a difference where ever their sphere is and that is all I need!

Confessions of THIS mom, Part II…chips and cookies.

I had you at one of those two words; chips and cookies.  What comes to mind when you read those two words?  Let me just clarify one thing…tortilla chips and cookies.  Don’t those two things just make you happy, make your mouth water, and think about good times?  Well, here is my confession.  I love tortilla chips and I love cookies.

Now let me get a little picky.  I love really good tortilla chips.  I usually can tell if a Mexican restaurant is going to be good by the tortilla chips.  If they are the ones that you would buy at the grocery store that taste more like cardboard than a hot, fried corn tortilla then I automatically down grade the place.  Last fall, my husband and I went to Washington D.C. and found a quaint little tortilla shop to eat at and the chips were FANTASTIC!  Yum!  So I usually buy tortilla chips every 2 weeks, I just love them; crunchy, salty, and with the right salsa and guac…oh and taco salad (I pretty much eat taco salad for lunch almost every day).  I have a couple of favorite tortilla chips, but I usually don’t buy one because they are like $5 a bag and I eat too many chips to justify that, but it’s by a local company called Rico.  They are really good.  But my go-to are from Juanita’s.  They are out of Oregon and I love their chips.

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Now, don’t get me wrong I will eat other chips, even if they are not my favorite because you say chips and salsa and I am there!

Now cookies.  I love cookies.  Sometimes my cute hubby and I will text back and forth and say silly things like, “I love you more than brownies”, etc.  I do love him more than cookies, but I love cookies.  For a long time I didn’t eat chocolate because it was a migraine trigger for me and if I decided to eat chocolate I ate A LOT of it!  When I was pregnant with my first baby this trigger went away and I pretty much ate at least one cookie every day and it was AMAZING!  20170701_134920

I would say my favorite kind of cookies are chocolate chip oatmeal when they are still a little warm from the oven.  My mouth is watering, I need some cookies in my life! Anyway, I haven’t really met a cookie I didn’t like, although cakey cookies are not really my favorite, I put them in the muffin category. This year for my birthday we are having cookie ice cream sandwiches and I can hardly wait (I actually think that is what we had last year for my birthday too)!  20170626_202101So go find a cookie and enjoy it!  Send me your favorite cookie recipes, I will try them all!

Learning childLIKE

A few months ago, I took my 5 year-old son in to get tested for seasonal allergies.  He is always the first to start with the runny nose, red eyes, sneezing, and all that jazz when the seasons change.  The pediatrician recommended we go so we could see how bad they were and what to do from there.  We sat down with the allergist and he asked questions and then they did the poke test.  They wrote like 40 numbers on my 5 year-old’s back and poked him with different substances to see how he reacted.  I was in awe of my 5 year-old.  I told him beforehand that they were going to have to poke his back and he made up his mind, by himself, that he was going to be brave and that his blanket named Moo-Moo would help him through.  He didn’t even flinch.  He just laid their quietly and got all the pokes done.  I asked him if he was okay and it was just like, “yeah, I am brave.” Simple. It turned out that he didn’t react to anything AT ALL!!!  The allergist was stunned and asked if they could do a couple of injections in his arm to go deeper into the skin.  I asked my 5 year-old if he was okay with that, “yep, I am brave!” And so they injected his arm with 5 separate things.  He did flinch a little but said he was fine.  So, he doesn’t have seasonal allergies.  He is really, really allergic to dogs and cats. I will spare you all the back and forth between the doctors but, my big guy is totally fine.

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I was thinking about how crazy it was that I let them poke him all over his back and how I don’t think it would have been very fun.  He was totally okay with it and enjoyed his sucker and stickers that they rewarded him with.  Plus he thought it was cool that he still had marker numbers all over his back (they all came off in the bath!).  I learned a lot from my child that day:

1- When people tell you that something may be scary but that you will get a reward after of having more knowledge of something, you can make up your mind beforehand.

2- When you make up your mind before hand, you STICK to it!

3- It is only as scary as you make it.

4-A little sugar makes a big smile.

5- Trust.

6- Positive self talk is a must.

7- Looking at life at different angles can be a lot of fun.

As I have been reflecting on this, a scripture has been running through my head.  It is from a sermon from King Benjamin in Mosiah.  The king is telling his people many things before he gives the throne to his son and is reflecting on the lessons that he has learned.

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

I submitted my 5 year-old to the poke test and the injections and he WILLINGLY submitted to them and was submissive, meek, humble, patient, and totally still full of love for me.  I need to become more like that.  I am not saying that I need to be child-ISH, but child-LIKE. I learn a lot from my kids every day and I learn a lot of repeat lessons as well from them.  But this really got me.

How can I become more childlike in my every day?  Am I willing to do things that may sound scary, but that offer a reward of knowledge that I am in need of?  Do I make up my mind to be brave and stick with it to the end?  Do I trust God to put me in situations and with certain people to help make a difference?  Do I engage in positive self talk and look at things from different angles?  I certainly get my sugar intake, don’t you worry about that! Is my relationship with God the same as my relationship with my child?  Do I willingly go where He wants me to go, not complain, am patient, and full of love?  I need a lot of work.  As an adult, I feel like I have chosen to close off some of those characteristics to keep myself safe, but you know what?  God is full of love for me and wants the best for me.  I need to be more childlike.

In Matthew 18:3 it says:

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Am I truly converted and acting in a childlike manner to my Heavenly Father who is my loving parent?  I still have a lot to learn from my children and a lot to learn to be more like them!

The Value of Doing Nothing

A few months ago I had a panic attack.  I can’t really say that I have had a full blown out one, but life was getting to me and I didn’t successfully defuse my stress so…panic attack. It almost felt like I was getting a migraine.  My body started going numb. I was hot, but freezing, and my muscles were SO tense.  Well, the muscles would not relax.  Then my arm started going numb and I had some pain, so I went to the insta-care.  They told me I was fine and couldn’t really find anything wrong with me and suggested I follow up with a sports therapist to help with my range of motion.  The sports therapist said there was nothing wrong with me and suggested I go to a physical therapist.  The physical therapist just told me that I had really tight muscles (oh really?!).  She gave me some stretches to do to help loosen them up and mentioned in passing that I could try some meditation or yoga to calm my brain.

I was super consistent with my exercises because they really did ease the muscle tightness, but it still wasn’t enough.  A couple of weeks ago I downloaded some meditation apps and thought I would give it a try.  I did one that had a goal of doing ten minutes of guided meditation for ten days.  I thought, “why not” and started that day.  It was actually so GREAT!  I loved it!  I could totally tell a difference with the way my body felt, my stress level, and being more calm.

I also have been exercising more and on my off days I meditate.  One day I was doing my meditation practice and the nice lady with the amazing voice said something that hit me. She was talking about how we are addicted to physical progress, we love to have our lists and check things off and because we are addicted to it, we never take the time to turn off all the noise and just do nothing.  I had to pause my practice to write it down because all I could think about was that thought and I wasn’t suppose to think about anything.  I am totally an addict to physical progress, I have an ongoing to do list notebook, I love to tell my hubby when he comes home from work what I got done, and I love to think about making more lists. But I have been more mindful in just being okay with sitting outside in the shade for a few hours and watching my kids play.  It is freeing.

So, go find a place to meditate and move forward.  Your head (and the rest of your body) will thank you!

Stones

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Last month I read an article in our local newspaper that has stuck with me.  I want to link to it here.  Before you read it, have an open mind and think about what you can do to be better.

Here is the article, “Catching Stones vs. Casting Stones.”

I want to be a stone catcher. I want to be a stone catcher not to just people around me, but to my kids and to my family members.  I am focusing on the people I love most because I feel like sometimes they are the people we can treat the worst.  Lots to think about in this article. Tell me what you think.

Choosing Love

I have had a hard couple of days.  I don’t want to write about what has made it hard, I want to write about things I have learned from hard things and what I am choosing to focus on instead.  But, by disclaimer…when things happen that are hard one thing I always do is turn to my Heavenly Father.  I can definitely say that as I have prayed that I know that God is aware of me and has helped lighten the burden.  Now onto things that I have learned, in no particular order…

I can CHOOSE to love someone even if they don’t show, express, or seem to love in return.  This is REALLY hard for me to do and it hurts REALLY bad, especially when it happens repeatedly.

I can CHOOSE to hold onto the hurt or I can choose to put it behind me and hope for the best the next time.  But I don’t have to let the negative thoughts hijack my life right here, right now, or for a whole week.

When I CHOOSE to love people, my self-worth is not dependent on what they choose to do or not do with my love.  People/or the relationship does not define me or make me inherently bad.

I can CHOOSE to live my life with more meaning and more purposefully.  I can still show and express love and compassion.

Even though some people appear to not give in a relationship, that doesn’t mean that others cannot.  My husband loves me more than I can express and I love him more than I can express.  He understands me and loves me and is able to talk to me and help me.  He is AMAZING and I will always have his love.

I can CHOOSE to keep trying to show love and be part of people’s lives even though it makes me VULNERABLE (and I don’t like that feeling).

I can CHOOSE to love myself even when others don’t, can’t or won’t reciprocate.

-I can CHOOSE to love!

Instead of dwelling on the bad I am working on focusing on what I learned and about how to put it into practice in my life right now.  It doesn’t make it any easier that hard things happen, but our reaction to them can make all the difference.

A graphic of train tracks coupled with a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “The course of our lives is … determined by … day-to-day choices.”